1-20-17 Brookhaven Reporter

Page 1

JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017 • VOL. 9 — NO. 2


Brookhaven Reporter



Perimeter Business ► Brotherhood of magicians has 85-year bond PAGE 4 ► Cybersecurity company promises 500 new jobs PAGE 7

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Another delay likely in MARTA mixed-use rezoning vote BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The City of Brookhaven observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a dinner program on Monday, Jan. 16, at the historic Lynwood Community Center. Music was provided by “EJ and the Versatiles” whose members include Eldredge Jackson on saxophone; Victor Hodge, guitarist; Jon Browne, drums; and Johnny Edwards piano. More photos, page 14.►

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See COMMENTARY, page 10


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The desire of members of Brookhaven City Council to have in place an architectural design review board before voting on a proposed MARTA mega-development may cause another delay in reaching a final decision on the massive mixed-used project. Brookhaven City Council decided at its Jan. 10 work session to seek comment from the Planning Commission before setting up the proposed city Design Review Board, which would advise city officials on how developments and buildings should look. But the council is scheduled to vote on MARTA’s rezoning on Jan. 24. And the Planning Commission doesn’t meet again until Feb. 1. That could translate into another in a series of delays, and could cause problems for the mega-project proposed to fill the mostly empty parking lots sprawlSee ANOTHER on page 15

Officials may need to find a new site for City Hall BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

City officials have learned that the location of Brookhaven’s current City Hall may soon be sold for redevelopment and a new location may be needed within the next two years. The lease for City Hall, located at 4362 Peachtree Road N.E., expires in December 2019. Representatives of the owner of the site, Delta Life Insurance Co. in Atlanta, recently told City Manager Christian Sigman that they were considering selling See OFFICIALS on page 13

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Council to consider limiting Overlay District density BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

City Council is expected to vote Jan. 24 to limit residential density in certain areas of the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District to 30 units per acre. The proposal follows considerable backlash from residents opposing more apartment complexes on Dresden Drive. “The people spoke, so I listened,” said Mayor John Ernst, who said he was responsible for placing the zoning ordinance amendment on the Jan. 4 Planning Commission agenda. Current zoning allows up to 60 units per acre in the area. The proposed zoning amendment will only affect Sub-Area II of the Overlay District, which encompasses Dresden Drive to Village Park as well as Oglethorpe University, Brookhaven Park, and the north-south area parallel to Peachtree Road that runs roughly from Apple Valley Road to Redding Road. The Planning Commission recommended approval Jan. 4 of the 30-units per acre density amendment after conferring with residents who have long battled for less density along Dresden Drive and with staff members. Sub-Area I of the Overlay, not included in the area in the proposed change, includes all of Peachtree Road and the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA station. Ernst said after listening to residents plead at numerous council meetings to stop the influx of proposed apartment complexes, especially along Dresden Drive, he decided to propose amending the ordinance until the city completes the zoning code rewrite and the Overlay District rewrite. The 30-unit number was taken from residents’ requests.

The zoning rewrite is expected to take a year and the Overlay rewrite is expected to be finished in six months, according to Community Development Director Patrice Ruffin. The council has yet to hire consultants to conduct the rewrites. The city is also at the end of a sixmonth moratorium that halted rezoning requests. That moratorium was proposed by the mayor and approved by the council in response to rapid development along Dresden Drive. But not everyone is sure jumping quickly into such a zoning amendment to limit density is a good idea without further analysis. Jack Honderd, an architect, developer and member of the BrookhavenPeachtree Community Alliance who helped create the Overlay District more than a decade ago, spoke to the Planning Commission at its Jan. 4 work session and asked why the rush. “My main observation is this [proposal] is a significant urban planning decision and it deserves a significant urban planning analysis,” he said. “I don’t know if this is a good idea or not. I don’t know if density should be specified. And I’m not sure of the intentions or the desired outcome,” Honderd said. “I expect this is to stop apartments and the believed traffic congestion that comes with them.” But Honderd said there might be unintended consequences to limiting density without a thorough analysis. For example, a rule of thumb for developers, he said, is that if they have to build less than 45 units per acre they cannot afford to build structured parking. Lack of parking along Dresden Drive has long been a serious issue. “I’m tired of apartments as much as anyone and am not at all trying to encour-


The City Council will consider on Jan. 24 capping zoning density to 30 units per acre in Sub-Area II of the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District.

age more on Dresden Drive,” Honderd said. “I’d like to see more housing diversity, more housing ownership.” But other possibilities of limiting density without further study is that developers can build to those specifications but then have no incentives to put in public space to be used by the entire community. Developers may also decide to build office buildings rather than homes, he said. This could mean a 5-story office build-

ing in an area where office space is very desirable – but with offices there comes an increase in traffic, especially at peak times, he said. “I don’t know if anyone really thought this through. I think this is what an urban planning firm does,” Honderd said. “And I think this would be best considered during the rewriting of the zoning code. Why do this now and not wait until the zoning rewrite?”




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City Council voted Jan. 10 to renew contracts with the Murphey Candler Girls Softball Association, Murphey Candler Baseball and the Atlanta Colts Youth Association. The contracts were renewed for five years and will be automatically renewed on an annual basis. Annual payments by the leagues to the city are: AYCA will pay $2,800; MCGSA will pay $1,600; and MCB will pay $5,600. As part of the contract, the leagues will pay for maintenance of the fields and cover utility and water costs. When the leagues are not in season, other groups will have access to the fields, according to city guidelines.


Renderings of the proposed 273 apartment buildings to be built at Lenox Park.

Developer seeks to build apartments in Lenox Park BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

A developer has eyes on approximately 5 acres in Lenox Park as the site for a proposed six-story, 273-unit apartment building that will include a 2,000-squarefoot coffee shop on the ground floor. The proposed project is slated to go before the Planning Commission on March 1 and then to City Council March 28. WSE Development of Atlanta submitted applications to the city earlier this month to rezone 1277, 1025, 1055, 1065, 1045, 1035 and 1057 Lenox Park Blvd. and 2180 Lake Blvd. and to ask for a special land use permit for 1035, 1045, 1055 and 1065 Lenox Park Blvd. The property is currently zoned for office buildings. The proposed development is bordered by Lenox Park Boulevard and three office buildings standing nine, five and seven stories tall. The developers are seeking to build the development on the slightly more than 5 acres of undeveloped land within

Lenox Park. The vacant property is currently zoned for two office buildings with six and eight stories, according to plans filed with the city. “The development will occur in two buildings that will be connected by an aerial bridge spanning the entry drive on the property in the style of Emory Point. Parking will be provided in a centralized parking deck located in the larger of the two buildings and screened from view from Lenox Park Boulevard,” according to documents filed with the city. “The proposed accessory coffee shop will be located interior to the site away from Lenox Park Boulevard and will provide a commercial amenity within the existing cluster of office buildings interior to Lenox Park Boulevard,” the documents state. The property is located within the Lenox Park character area which was designed to include high-rise office towers, multifamily residential units, midrise hotels and “significant open space.”


Patrice Ruffin was named this month as the city’s new Community Development Director. Ruffin served as interim director for several months before being hired full-time to lead the department. Prior to her new job, she served as Brookhaven’s Deputy Director of Community Development from November 2014 to Jan. 17, 2017. She has more than a decade of experience in the field of urban planning with a focus on the start-up of newly incorporated municipalities, zoning administration, community development and long-range planning. Before coming to Brookhaven, Ruffin worked in Sandy Springs as Manager of Planning and Zoning for The Collaborative between July 2011 and November 2014. Prior to that she worked in Sandy Springs for CH2M HILL OMI in Sandy Springs, first as a planner beginning in 2005 and working her way up to Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning from 2008 through 2011. Ruffin replaces Ben Song, who resigned as Community Development Director in October to work for Gwinnett County.


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Perimeter Business A monthly section focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

Magicians gather to share secrets of their mysterious trade BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

On a recent Monday night, in the choir room of a Sandy Springs church, a ring of magicians gathered. About 30 of them sat amid drums and pianos, watching West Evans, a slim man whose jacket and shoes sported matching leopard-print trim, as he encouraged audience members to toss invisible coins into a metal bucket he had convinced a visitor to hold over his head. The imaginary coins made very real clinks and suddenly appeared within the bucket. The spectacle was both business and pleasure for Ring 9 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Also known as the Georgia Magic Club, the 85-yearold IBM chapter has met for several years at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church to socialize and to share professional tips in metro Atlanta’s booming business of magic. “In our world, you never stop learning. You never stop practicing,” said Evans, a 34-year-old Decatur resident who has been a professional magician for four years. At that Jan. 16 meeting, he took over as Ring 9’s president and also won its Magician of the Year trophy, which is topped with a golden rabbit coming out of a hat. The club counts many full-time professional magicians among its 91 members, and chose to meet at the church because so many of them live in the Buckhead, Brookhaven and Sandy Springs area. The other major magical organization, the American Society of Magicians, also has an Atlanta chapter with much overlapping membership; it typically meets in DeKalb County. Sandy Springs resident Howie Marmer — better known as Howie the Great — is among Ring 9’s local members. He’s well-known for his regular performances in such Buckhead spots as Bistro Niko and the Painted Pin. Marmer said metro Atlanta is a great place for pro magicians, with its booming entertainment industry, and plenty of conventions, trade shows and corporate gigs. However, he also says he personally prefers kids’ parties to corporate events, even though they pay far less. Like many magicians, he says he’s in it for more than money. “I think there is no such thing as competition in my field,” he said. “Competi-

tion is a poor performer” who turns people off from hiring magicians. Magicians have a variety of types of shows to choose from. There’s party magic for kids and adults. There’s “walkaround” magic, in which a magician does “close-up” tricks for people gathered at an event in order to be, as Evans says, the “life of the party.” There’s full-blown stage magic, such as the classic trick of sawing a person in half, usually performed only at big and pricey events. There’s restaurant or bar magic, done at tables or in areas where customers wait to be seated. Restaurant magic is highly improvisational, often using objects from the tabletop or the guests. Howie the Great said that’s what he loves about it. “When I’m performing at a restaurant, I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” he said. “That’s where the fun begins. It’s jazz.” Marmer got some of his gigs, including as house magician at the original Dave & Buster’s, by performing an impromptu show. “I got fire coming out of my wallet. I got a bird in my pocket,” he said, recalling a bar-side show that once got him a gig at the Downwind restaurant at DeKalbPeachtree Airport. “I’m eating fire with a jumbo lighter … I’m producing a dove.” Getting paid a proper rate might be tougher for a skilled magician than pulling off effects and tricks. Evans said that some customers undervalue a magic show and some performers go along. “You can always find a guy out there who will come do magic for you for $50. And we don’t like those guys,” Evans said. “It means they haven’t put in the work it takes to be a great magician.” While rates vary, customers should expect to pay a magician at least $200 for a kids’ party and a few

West Evans, president of the Georgia Magic Club, tries to convince the audience his silver platter has nothing to hide while he performs a trick.


West Evans performs on an Atlanta street.

JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Perimeter Business | 5


Debbie Leifer informs fellow Ring 9 members about upcoming magic trade lectures and conventions during the group’s January meeting at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Sandy Springs.

hundred for an adult party, Evans said, with experienced performers charging much more. An event with walk-around magic may cost around $800 to $1,000. While magicians often learn new tricks, the effects are always based on some fundamentals of illusion, such as misdirection — “making them look at what you want them to look at,” as Evans puts it. Pro magicians need to master not only those basics, but other skills as well. Acting and personality are important; Marmer said he studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York. They also need skills in flexible planning to tailor a show to an audience or event. Debbie Leifer, a Cobb County-based magician, former club president and one of the few women in the professional illusion business, said she has developed a split magical personality. When performing for corporate and motivational speaking events, she uses her real name. But for family and kids’ shows, she be-

comes Magic Debbie. “I customize every performance for the specific attendees and theme of each event,” Leifer said in an email. “Whether I’m in someone’s living room entertaining children during a birthday party, at an elementary school encouraging students to read or stop bullying or make healthy snack choices, or if I’m in Las Vegas energizing a company’s sales team, what I love is the way magic allows me to dazzle people and improve their lives by adding humor, empowering messages, positive thoughts, a sense of wonder and ‘wow!’ moments.” Like many people in other lines of work, magicians often look for ways to give back to the community. At the club meeting, members discussed reviving a tradition of staging a public banquet with a magic show as a charity fundraiser. And the members-only lecture before the meeting featured Sandy Springs magician Rick Darby talking about his volunteer work performing “magic therapy” — tricks done to help people get through


emotional or physical issues. Darby began volunteering at Halcyon Hospice in Sandy Springs after losing several family members and having a counselor tell him that “a lot of people resolve their grief by giving back.” Today, he visits patients and families with trick ropes and pieces of silk. “I tell tall tales. Then I end up weaving some magic effects into the stories,” he said. The club meetings always feature several members performing tricks — some based on a monthly theme, some “general magic.” At the January meeting, performers ranged from old pros to teenagers. One was Joe Turner, a high-profile pro who is past president of the main IBM organization and once ran a one-man show in Buckhead. Another was Ari Isenberg, a Galloway School freshman who recently won first place at a camp run by the legendary New York City magic shop Tannen’s; he blew the minds of old pros with an internet-generation mind-reading trick based on choosing a random word from Wikipedia. Anyone with a genuine interest in

Magician Howie “The Great” Marmer reveals a parakeet hidden under his jacket at the January meeting of the Georgia Magic Club.

magic is welcome to attend up to three Ring 9 meetings. To continue coming after that, they have to join the group. Membership requirements include performing a trick for the group. The premeeting lectures on specialty topics are members-only because they often reveal how tricks are done. More than most other businesses, magic has its trade secrets. “We take an oath as magicians to not knowingly reveal secrets to a non-magician,” said Evans. For more information about the club, see gamagicclub.com.

Business trend of serving free alcohol may not be legal BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

As the owner of Skirt Upsale Resale, Janet Pfeiffer knows her business relies on getting people through her doors to explore the displays of high-end and luxury consignment items, such as clothes, purses and jewelry. One way she has found to attract customers is to offer a free glass of wine while they shop at the store located in Sandy Springs’ Fountain Oaks shopping center. “I always have some wine in the back,” she said. She said she typically breaks out the wine for customers during special events, such as a trunk show she held over the holidays to display an artist’s jewelry. “It helps to draw people in … and makes

them more amenable to possibly buying something,” she said with a laugh. Pfeiffer is not the only business owner to tap into the idea that serving free alcohol to clients or customers is good for business. Several metro Atlanta salons and spas provide customers and clients with a free glass of wine and businesses that sell wedding dresses are known for handing out wine or champagne as a woman and her bridesmaids spend hours looking for just the right dress. And if you get a manicure at some spots, you’ll like be asked if you want a glass of champagne. Numerous “paint and drink” businesses have also popped up in Sandy Springs and throughout the Perimeter area where customers are encouraged to bring their own wine or beer and partake while learn-

ing from an artist how to paint their own masterpieces. Fast food restaurants across the country, such as Chipotle and Starbucks, are even adding alcohol to their menus for customers who want to have a beer with dinner but don’t want to pay high-end restaurant prices. And then there are exercise businesses, such as the popular Cyclebar franchise, with locations in Buckhead and Dunwoody, joining the trend. The Buckhead location currently advertises a Happy Hour session of indoor cycling on Fridays followed by complimentary wine or beer and snacks, as do numerous Cyclebar franchise sites across the country. The Dunwoody site on Ashford-Dunwoody Road would also like to offer cli-

ents some wine after a Friday evening workout, but has run into some roadblocks from the city. Dunwoody’s city attorneys have said a business cannot service alcohol, free or otherwise, without first getting a license to do so from the city. Alcohol licenses, such as those obtained by restaurants and bars, can cost thousands of dollars a year and can be cost prohibitive for small businesses that just want to offer a glass of wine to clients occasionally. “What you are doing is opening up a Pandora’s Box to allow businesses that don’t traditionally serve alcohol,” Assistant City Attorney Lenny Felgin told Dunwoody City Council at its Jan. 9 meeting. Councilmember Jim Riticher said he Continued on page 9

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Game-loving teen learns code, builds his business BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Noah Covey, 16, loves to play games. Board games, mostly. But he enjoys a game of Angry Birds on his phone now and again. And with an interest in math, science, coding and adventure, the teen is now creating app games that can be played on cellphones and iPads. “I have a passion for games, especially board games,” Covey, a sophomore at Dunwoody High School, said. “Video games I’ve learned to love more and more. And my love for games made me want to make my own.” Last year, the teen created games called Flyfall and Duskfall for iOS devices. In Flyfall, the player maneuvers a bird that can’t fly but instead falls and must successfully pass through a series of gates on the way down. In Duskfall, the player controls an orbiting ball and taps the screen to change the orbit so the ball avoids being struck by falling obstacles. Both games have different levels of difficulty and with Duskfall, Covey, who also plays piano, composed three musical scores for his game. His decision to start creating his own games began when he was an eighth grader at Peachtree Charter Middle School. He started doing research on how to create a game, he said, and began learning computer programming, taking classes on the online Co-

Noah Covey, 16, a student at Dunwoody High School, taught himself coding to create two mobile app games so far.

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deacademy that teaches people how to code for free. He also said he watched several YouTube videos to learn coding language and the basics of creating an app. Covey, who formed his own company, Quantum Cat Games, said his greatest inspiration for creating games is playing other games and deciding what he likes about them and then tweaking an idea or bringing several ideas together to make something completely new. Covey said he writes down any good idea he has. He compiles a list. The ideas are typically very vague when first written, but after time and contemplation, Covey will come up with a clearer vision and eventually begin the actual coding and creation. At any one time, he has about 10 to 15 ideas percolating in his head, he said. Covey self-published Flyfall, which he released last January. It’s had about 2,000 downloads. With Duskfall, Covey did more research and hired Nanovation Labs, a mobile publisher located in Silicon Valley, Calif., to help get the word out and monetize the game. Through that company, Duskfall has had more than 67,000 downloads from people all over the world since it was published in November. “The numbers really attest to how much publishing companies help,” Covey said. Covey didn’t say how much money he’s made from the games, but said it’s enough to make the hours of time and effort he’s put into creating them worthwhile. The best part, though, is knowing people are playing his game and enjoying it, he said. “It’s pretty cool that a lot of kids at school play them, and people all over the world play them,” he said. “It’s really awesome.”

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A global company providing payment card cybersecurity and compliance solutions to businesses is opening a call center in Brookhaven and promising to create more than 500 jobs and invest $2 million in DeKalb County. A Jan. 12 press release from Gov. Nathan Deal states that Sysnet Global Solutions, based in Dublin, Ireland, is opening the new call center in Perimeter Summit after a “successful economic mission to Ireland.” “By choosing Georgia for this call center, Sysnet will tap in to our world-class infrastructure network and generate new jobs for DeKalb County. Once again, a global leader has chosen to come to Georgia to be a part of our success,” Deal said in the release. Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said the city is looking forward to working with Sysnet Global Solutions. “‘Céad mile fáilte’ to Sysnet Global Solutions,” Ernst said in press release, using a traditional Irish phrase meaning, “One thousand welcomes.” “This is exciting news — 500 plus jobs is always a great sign of a vibrant economy,” the mayor said, “and we look forward to the positive impacts this move to our great city will bring. Brookhaven ‘go Bragh!’” Sysnet Global Solutions is a leading provider of cybersecurity and compliance solutions that help businesses improve security and help acquiring organizations reduce risk. “The opening of our Atlanta-based Customer Contact Centre will further enhance our relationship with both our current and prospective clients in this region,” said Sysnet CEO Gabriel Moynagh in the press release. “North America has always been a critical market for us and we have a number of exciting new initiatives that will commence in 2017.” Services provided from the Brookhaven call center at 1001 Summit Blvd. in Perimeter Summit will include helping merchants secure their businesses and maintain compliance with standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Atlanta provides us Security Standard. The center will operate 24 with a wealth of similar hours a day and provide multilingual support. “We are extremely proud of the extraordi- minded people who are nary service and support we provide to busicommitted to delivering nesses globally, and as such, our people are vital to our very existence,” said Sysnet Chief People outstanding customer Officer Patrick Condren in the press release. “Atservice every time. lanta provides us with a wealth of similar minded people who are committed to delivering out- PATRICK CONDREN SYSNET CHIEF standing customer service every time.” PEOPLE OFFICER


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Business trend of serving free alcohol may not be legal Continued from page 5 generally favors strict alcohol laws. “But I don’t think we ought to make it more difficult for the proverbial Dunwoody housewife to have a glass of Pinot Grigio while she gets a $150 hairdo, or a glass of bubbly at an art gallery,” he said, adding he did fear “unintended consequences.” Taylor Harper, an attorney specializing in the beverage and alcohol industry, is representing Cyclebar Dunwoody and its owner, Jeff Delorme. Harper said he believes Dunwoody’s reticence to allow his client to offer free wine tastings is “ridiculous” and compared the practice to an office holiday party, where no license is needed. “They’re not selling alcohol,” Harper told the council. “It’s unusual to have a local jurisdiction regulate this when at the state level, there is no license required.” But state law, actually, is a bit sticky. When asked about salons or exercise facilities or spas serving free alcohol to cli-

ents, the Georgia Department of Revenue said, simply, no can do. “The Department of Revenue views transactions such as the ones you mentioned that include a ‘free’ alcoholic beverage as a sale of alcohol, and are not permitted unless the business owner has an alcohol permit,” said spokesperson William Gaston. Attorney Kevin Leff, whose firm Sard & Leff in Sandy Springs focuses on alcoholic beverage regulations and compliance, said the state has always taken the position that any alcohol served, free or not, in a business where services are paid for means there is a sale of alcohol taking place and the business must be licensed to do so. “They have taken the position that if there is some kind of commercial business going on, then there is in fact really the sale of alcohol taking place,” Leff said. “Under state law, there isn’t a way for a business to work around this.” In 2009, a bridal shop owner in Co-


Got Stuff?

What you are doing is opening up a Pandora’s Box to allow businesses that don’t traditionally serve alcohol.


Cyclebar Dunwoody is one of the businesses concerned about the alcohol law.

lumbus, Ga., was found guilty of violates serving alcohol, according to city codes. ing a city ordinance by serving mimosas “In terms of local government, if Dunand orange juice cocktails to customers. woody wants to enact an ordinance [covThe police department had received comering this issue], they can do it,” Leff said. plaints the owner was serving alcohol and There is possibly one way to ensure an undercover officer went into the busibusinesses follow state law — have cusness and pretended to tomers bring their own look at tuxedos when booze. But that, again, he spotted the drinks is left up to local jubeing served and called risdictions. In Atlanin five others to raid ta, for example, busithe store. nesses that are licensed In Dunwoody, the can allow customers to city’s attorneys are BYOB. drawing up an amend“The Department of ment to the city code Revenue does not have to create “limited onan issue with a perpremises consumption son bringing their own alcohol licenses for wine to a business as business not qualifying long as it always stays for regular licenses” for in the possession of the City Council members customer that brought to consider. it in,” Gaston said. LENNY FELGIN Those businesses ASSISTANT CITY ATTORNEY But, the employees would include places of the business cannot such as Cyclebar Duntouch the bottle and woody, where there is only the customer can no full-service kitchen and no sale of alcopour their own drinks, he said. hol. Only wine and beer would be allowed “The business can provide cups, ice, to be served. etc. Many local jurisdictions would not The businesses would be required to allow this practice, which is commonly get a license from the city, although the known as ‘brown-bagging.’ Our concern cost of the license hasn’t been determined. is always the business itself providing the Cyclebar Dunwoody owner Jeff Delorme alcohol to the customer as previously dissaid he is willing to do whatever the city cussed,” Gaston said. requires, but simply wants to offer clients Pfeiffer of Skirt Upsale Resale said she wine as a way for them to socialize togethnever thought to ask if she needed some er. But, he added, if the license proposed kind of alcohol permit. As a longtime and approved ends up costing in the thoumember of the Sandy Springs/Perimeter sands of dollars, he said he would not be Chamber of Commerce, she said she regable to do it. ularly attended the organization’s wine Brookhaven, Sandy Springs and Atlanevents and came to believe offering free ta laws require licenses for any businessalcohol was legal.

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JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Perimeter Business | 9


Ribbon Cuttings


Joining the December ribbon-cutting for Just Yoga at 205 Hilderbrand Drive in Sandy Springs are, from left, Susanna Rohm; City Economic Development Director Andrea Hall; Just Yoga owner Julie Benham; and Chris Adams, Beth Berger and Rebecca Hillegeist from the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce.


Enviroscent, Inc., a fragrance company at 4600 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, cut its ribbon Jan. 18. Attending were, from left, Beth Berger of Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce; Enviroscent’s Tamara Kullbeck and CEO Nick McKay; Mayor Rusty Paul; Chamber president Tom Mahaffey; Enviroscent’s Lisa Lepping; and the Chamber’s Jeff Lovejoy.


A fitness program center at 4920 Roswell Road, #10A, Sandy Springs

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CT Cocina & Taqueria

A Mexican restaurant at 6631 Roswell Road, Suite I, Sandy Springs


10 | Commentary

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Commentary: Making ‘last-mile’ connections in Perimeter Center Perimeter Center is increasingly Georgia’s Fortune 1000 address of choice for many reasons, as witnessed by the construction cranes dotting the 4.2 square miles of our Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs), with more commercial, retail and residential development yet to come. On most any given business day, 120,000 to 135,000 temporary residents come into Perimeter Center to work, and though some live nearby in Brookhaven, Dunwoody or Sandy Springs, the vast majority commute to this sub-market from elsewhere, and most do so in a single-occupancy vehicles. There are also several thousand who daily utilize our three MARTA stations — Medical Center, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs — as well as a growing number who ride Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) Xpress buses from across the metro area, but there is certainly significant potential to expand those numbers. The remaining challenge is attracting workers who are willing to go without a car or to leave it at home to cover that last mile between MARTA or the GRTA bus stop and their offices or place of business. Though Atlanta has a relatively mild climate, our rain, hot summers and few weeks of real winter are enough to discourage most from long walks to work, and though the PATH400 trail heading north from Buckhead and possible new pocket parks in the Perimeter Center may increase biking and alternative pedestrian transit, to really move the needle, we are going to have to deliver a solution and option which afBob Voyles is chairman of fordably covers that last mile. the Perimeter Business AlThe Perimeter Center is home to regional, national and international headquarters and corporations liance and principal at the such as UPS, InterContinental Hotels Group, Cox, Mercedes-Benz USA and Arby’s, as well as the state’s Seven Oaks Company. largest retail center and Class A office sub-market. The bulk of those workers and business owners who choose to use alternative transit would be choice riders, as opposed to transit-dependent commuters who have no other available options. The best options for last mile may be a combination of offerings. People-movers may best connect our three outstanding hospitals clustered around Pill Hill and the Medical Center station, as well as potentially dedicated tunnels, bridges and possibly even off-ramps with direct connection to the coming circulator-distributor lane expansions on I-285 and Ga. 400. Shuttle buses, with or without their own dedicated lane, may become the most cost-effective answer to deliver in the near and midterm. But while buses and shuttles may reduce the number of vehicles on crowded corridors, they do not increase capacity. DART, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit, came into being in 1983, and it now operates buses, light rail, commuter rail (heavy rail) and HOV lanes across metropolitan Dallas and 12 suburban communities. With extensions completed to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in 2014 and another in 2016, DART now operates 93 miles of light rail, making it the largest light rail operator in the United States. A group of Fulton County and other local elected officials and business leaders are traveling to Dallas to see this system in action and to better understand how public support was built to fund and construct that system. MARTA and GRTA are already partnering with ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft, and transit-oriented developments are underway atop or adjacent to several MARTA stations across the region. The two primary mass-transit providers are also exploring ways that their Breeze card and Peach Pass payment systems might be made compatible, like the all-transit “Octopus” card in many Asian markets. As someone who has been fortunate to be involved in the development of some of Atlanta’s most prestigious mixed-use office projects, I have long believed to achieve your goals and to lead, one has to be ready to accept a certain element of risk. Shooting for the stars means at least looking up into the sky. There is likely not just one solution to our last-mile challenge, but for at least part of that. I do think we will need to be looking up, and not just out on our existing roadways.

Guest Columnist Bob Voyles

Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Dunwoody and the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs) plan an open house Jan. 26 to provide residents information about proposed recommendations on ‘last-mile’ connectivity in the area and to solicit comments. The open house at Northpark 400 Town Center, Suite 335, 1000 Abernathy Road, begins at 6 p.m.

On The Record

Read these articles from our other editions online at ReporterNewspapers.net

“We tried to give each area a little bit of love.” Kristin McEwen, executive director of the Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA in Buckhead, on a $7 million expansion and renovation of the facility that opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 19.

“I have always liked conservation and nature and this project allows me to return the favor.” Bobby Nice, a Boy Scout working to clear invasive species from the Dunwoody Nature Center as a special project.

“They kind of treat me, in some neighborhoods, as the girl next door with some oomph behind [her]. They’ll talk to you and then sneak [a complaint] in.” Sandy Springs Code Enforcement Officer Paula Allen, recently named officer of the year by a national organization, on how residents treat her.

“It’s always been confusing, but now you’re talking about real money.” Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul on city concerns that some of its new, higher sales tax revenue might be miscalculated by businesses whose software think it’s in Atlanta due to ZIP code confusions. BK

JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Community | 11


Writing with a wink and a smile In an effort to demonstrate our range of human emotions and yet still move beyond the constraints of basic punctuation and a shrunken vocabulary, we, as a technically evolved culture, have dawdled across our keyboards and touchpads and discovered an abundance of ways to form a smiley face. I’m constantly amazed at the variety. Even though there are myriad variations on your average smartphone — ranging from a blushing grin to a sassy wink to a nostril flaring devil to a cry-me-a-river--there are those of us who won’t succumb to pre-packaged emoticons and prefer to inject our own creations into our correspondences. Others of us take into account the coolness factor and, in so doing, shun the ready-mades altogether. And of course, there are those who compose actual emails on an actual laptop and thus have the full keyboard Robin Conte is a writer at their disposal at all times, and who have experimented and mother of four who with all the emotional combinations available, creating lives in Dunwoody. She their own emoticons out of punctuation marks and using can be contacted at what I will call “puncticons.” robinjm@earthlink.net. I know you’ve seen puncticons, and I’ll bet you’ve used a few yourself. Like clothing and hairstyle, your puncticon choices reveal something of your personality. If you are like my son, for instance (who can wring more emotion out of a keypad than anyone I’ve ever met), you are not just happy; you’re filled with wide-eyed exuberance =D!, sometimes unsure =d, and sometimes upside down with glee (= . If you are like my daughter, who is perennially cheerful and cute, you will have fittingly cheerful and cute puncticons, so that when you’re happy, you’re happy cute :D, and even when you’re bummed, you’re bummed cute :/. Most of us like to save time by foregoing the “shift” and “space” keys, and end up being squishy cute ;) . Usually I don’t hit the shift key fast enough, and my faces are filled with nines or underscores :9 ;9 ;_9, which looks a bit piggish and which I doubt will catch on. My biggest problem comes when I insert a puncticon into a parenthetical phrase (which I often do), and then I end up making a happy face with a double-chin (and it’s somewhat confusing :)). I decided to experiment with the happyface theme myself, punching keys to see what shapes they’d make and feeling like a kid with a new box of crayons curious about just what color “sienna” turns out to be. I started by taking the time to give my face a nose :-), but my laptop no longer allows manually created happiness and interjects its own . I put it on html so that I could dress my little face and give him hair }:-) or a mustache :{D for added character. I made Goldilocks with a dollar sign $:D; I made a happy guy with a big nose {: >); and I made an alien (-). Then I tried to come up with my own personalized happy face, and, since my eyes get all squinty when I smile, I came up with an inferred-joy face ^^. If I want to make a mouth, I’ll have to go to an entirely new line. SPECIAL ^^ Robin Conte, at work and at play, O experiments with emoticons. Note that with this choice, I can be nothing but surprised. I will admit that it’s a bit silly, a bit sophomoric, but the truth is that all of these electronically composed faces are made in an effort to soften — and even humanize — the fast-paced correspondence of our times. And I do find it heartening that even amid our busy lives and our technological haste, we will still take the time for a wink and a smile.

Robin’s Nest Robin Conte


Planning Commission recommends approval for Dresden Village development BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The city Planning Commission gave its blessing to a controversial mixeduse development along the booming Dresden Drive thoroughfare. Commissioners voted Jan. 4 to recommend that City Council approve the Dresden Village development on the site where the DeKalb County tag office now is located. The vote was 4-2 to recommend the council approve rezoning nearly 3 acres between Dresden Drive and Caldwell Road to PC-2, pedestrian community, so developers can build a multi-family development on the site to include apartments, a parking deck, townhouses, and Dixie Moon, a new restaurant to be operated by chef Scott Serpas. “I’m supporting this because there has been a give and take,” Commissioner John Funny said. “This plan has changed dramatically from the first plan. “We try to look at what can be changed. We cannot change city code,” Funny added. “Yes, we [on the commission] live in Brookhaven, too. And I live on Dresden Drive. In looking at this [project] … it could have been worse. We want to help mitigate as much as we can to not deteriorate the quality of life.” Connolly Investment and Development has lowered the number of apartments in its Dresden Village proposal to 169 from 194. The developers also added 10 for-sale townhouses with rooftop decks along Caldwell Road to serve as a buffer between the apartments and the single-family homes behind the project. The project now is at about 45 units per acre; current zoning allows for approximately 48 units per acre. Neighboring residents have asked for fewer apartments and some suggested at a recent community meeting that the project should shrink to 35 units per acre due, in part, to concerns of even heavier traffic congestion than already exists on Dresden Drive, Peachtree Road and North Druid Hills surrounding the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA station. Part of the appeal of the location is its proximity to MARTA, developers say, and Dresden Village is intended to help the “pedestrian experience” planned as part of the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District. Residents also worried about the height of Dresden Village at five stories and the feeling that Dresden Drive, a two-lane road, would feel like a “concrete canyon” with this proposed project as well as the existing apartment complexes. In the original plans, the developers were seeking to build 206 apartments with no for-sale units. The commission’s recommendation goes to the City Council Jan. 24. SPECIAL

A rendering of the Dresden Village mixed-use development along Dresden Drive.


The school attended by Samantha Dyer, Hanna Meyers and Katie Pleiss was listed incorrectly in the “20 Under 20” article about them in the issue dated Jan. 6. The three attend The Galloway School. BK

12 | Community

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CHOA breaks ground on new Center for Advanced Pediatrics BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta plans to provide a “one-stop shop” for children with numerous diseases at its new Center for Advanced Pediatrics, which now is under construction at North Druid Hills Road and I-85. The facility is set to open in 2018. CHOA held a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 11 for the state-of-the-art facility. Hospital officials say the 260,000-squarefoot, 8-story facility is first of its kind in Georgia. “We are so excited to have Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta here and see this as an anchor for the south of the city,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst. “The fact Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta selected our city for this center and for other projects in the pipeline is a source of great pride for us.” City Councilmember Joe Gebbia, who represents the area where CHOA is located, said he is excited about the positive economic impact CHOA is having and will have on the city. “The relationship the city has with CHOA is exceptional,” he said. “It’s for the kids.” CHOA CEO Donna Hyland said the idea for a Center for Advanced Pediatrics, which will house clinics and specialists under one roof, came about after speaking with parents of children who were patients. She told the story of Nora Chappell, 3, who was born with severe heart defects and sees several specialists, including cardiology, neurology, sleep, pulmonology, urology and orthopedics. The Center for Advanced Pediatrics will provide Nora, and her parents Sara and Jerry a place to visit many of her doctors in one setting. Sara Chappell participated in one of the focus groups for the new

facility. Although an appointment may last 30 to 45 minutes, Nora’s parents are forced to include two-hour travel time to take care of her special needs while traveling. “We have to do something to help these families … and that’s really what this building is all about,” Hyland said. “We want to help relieve the stress on families and provide more coordinated care.”




Bottom: At the Jan. 11 groundbreaking for the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Center for Advanced Pediatrics were, from left, Brookhaven City Councilmember John Park; Dr. Patrick Frias, COO of CHOA; Brookhaven Councilmember Linley Jones; Paul Bowers, chair of CHOA Foundation; Brookhaven Councilmeber Joe Gebbia; Nora Chappell and her father, Jerry; CHOA CEO Donna Hyland; Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst; DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond; DeKalb Commissioner Larry Johnson; and Brookhaven Councilmember Bates Mattison.



A. CHOA CEO Donna Hyland. B. John Ernst. C. Joe Gebbie. D. DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond, far right, talks with other attendees at the groundbreaking. E. Nora Chappell, 3, with her father, Jerry, and the CHOA children mascots. F. A rendering of what the Center for Advanced Pediatrics will look like when completed. G. Site preparation work is underway at I-85 and North Druid Hills Road.



JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Officials may need to find a new site for City Hall Continued from page 1


Community | 13


him asking if the study was still needed. That plan has been rebooted, Sigman said, but no timeline was given when it will be completed. Talk of where to find a permanent location for City Hall has been tossed about since the city was founded. MARTA officials have even tried to sweeten the deal with Brookhaven in seeking approval for its rezoning request to build a massive

its property for redevelopment. “We reached out to the owner to extend the lease and they said they were contemplating redeveloping all of their land,” Sigman said in an interview. “That’s all I know at this time.” Sigman raised the issue at City Council’s Jan. 10 work session after the council voted to approve a five-year renewal of the lease for the Police Department and Municipal Court building located at 2665 Buford Highway, the former site of the Latin American Association. That agreeThis Google Map image shows the current City Hall on Peachtree Road. ment was set to expire Dec. 31, 2018 but was renewed transit-oriented development at the city’s through 2023. station site by promising space for a City Annual payments to lease the PoHall in the TOD should the city choose to lice Department and Municipal Court approve the project. building will be between $230,000 and $257,000 a year over the next five years as part of a gradual rate increase between Jan. 1, 2019, and Jan. 1, 2023, according to the agreement. The city moved into its current City Hall, a former Georgia State University building, in 2014. After the city was incorporated in December 2012, the city used an office building in Dunwoody for its very first City Hall. The city’s lease payment for the Peachtree Road site for 2017 is $294,175.01, according to spokesperson Ann Marie Quill. The three-story building houses city departments, administrative offices and the City Council chambers. The current site takes in 24,000 square feet. “The lease here expires at the end of 2019, so we have a little bit more time,” Sigman said. “We’re good here until December 2019.” Finding a place to put City Hall was a challenge for city officials even before Brookhaven officially incorporated. The Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven, a body appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to help set up the city before the mayor and council members were elected, was tasked with securing a temporary City Hall. That body settled on the Dunwoody location because it was so difficult to find a suitable space in Brookhaven. Sigman said the administration before Mayor John Ernst took office had commissioned a consultant to conduct a 30-year facilities plan. That plan, however, got dropped somehow, and when Sigman came on board the company called

Marist School alumnus McVay named LA Rams head coach BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Former Marist School War Eagle quarterback Sean McVay is now the NFL’s youngest head coach ever and his high school mentors could not be prouder. McVay, Class of 2004, was named head coach of the Los Angeles Rams Jan. 12, making the 30-year-old the youngest head coach in NFL history. McVay goes to the Rams after three seasons as offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins. While at Marist, McVay helped lead the War Eagles to earn the 2003 Class AAAA state championship title. After graduating from Marist, McVay went on to a four-year career at Miami University (Ohio), and then he began his coaching career in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to a Marist press release. “I am incredibly honored by this opportunity and I want to start by thanking Mr. Kroenke and Kevin Demoff for their faith in me to lead the Los Angeles Rams as head coach,” McVay said in a statement. “Collectively, we are committed to building a championship caliber team, and I’m excited to start that process and make our fans

proud.” Marist School football coach of 41 years, Alan Chadwick, coached McVay during his time as quarterback for the War Eagles. “Sean was and has been a very special part of the Marist’s ‘Long Blue Line.’ We knew from the start he was going to do great things because of all the outstanding qualities he possessed,” said Chadwick in a press release. “His knowledge of the game, outstanding character, leadership, competitiveness and explosive skills made him an exceptional quarterback in our system. The Rams have chosen wisely and just added a great many supporters from the Marist War Eagle Nation,” Chadwick said. Marist School Athletic Director Tommy Marshall, who has led the athletics department at Marist for 20 years, also recognized McVay’s talents while he was at Marist. “Sean was one of our leaders at Marist as a student-athlete,” Marshall said in a press release. “As the starting quarterback on our football team, he was a great student of the game. He not only studied his position as quarterback, but he also knew what everyone else was supposed to do on any given play on offense.”

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14 | Community

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Lynwood Park celebrates Dr. King’s legacy






The City of Brookhaven observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a dinner program on Monday, Jan. 16, at the historic Lynwood Community Center. The center was once the site of the segregated Lynwood schools, whose students integrated the DeKalb County school system in 1968, according to the city. At center is the King Day program’s keynote speaker and Lynwood native Melvin “Mel” Pender, an Olympic gold medalist. A - John Wesley Wright Jr., Captain DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, Explorer Post 901. B - Linley Jones, Brookhaven District 1 councilmember. C - Pastor Lee Sawyer. D - Brookhaven City Manager Christian Sigman. E - Eldredge Jackson on saxophone. F - Janice Chapman, musical performance. G - Dinner guests. H - Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst speaks with Elena Parent, Georgia State Senator, District 42.





JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Community | 15


Another delay likely in MARTA mixed-use rezoning vote

A rendering of the proposed Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA transit-oriented development. The City Council is slated to vote on the project Jan. 24.

Continued from page 1


ly unused parking lot. The proposed project has gone ing around the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe through several delays already, starting MARTA station with new homes, officwhen Ernst asked MARTA last year to es and shops. A MARTA official in Octodelay its rezoning request from April to ber said development of the project was June so the city could meet with local and “time sensitive.” regional experts to address traffic issues. “The question is, is the council going The Planning Commission delayed its to hold up the MARTA development bevote on the rezoning request in Septemcause of the Design Review Board?” City ber until October. It eventually voted Oct. Councilmember Bates Mattison asked. 5, after a three-hour meeting, to recomMattison said he doesn’t know what mend approval. City Council then voted will happen Jan. 24 because the timein October to delay its vote on MARTA for line now laid out makes it “impossible” to three months. have a Design Review As part of the Board in place before City Council deferral the MARTA vote. in October, council MARTA officials members voiced supdeclined comment. port for implementMattison said city ing a Design Review officials may try to Board in response find a way to put a to residents’ concondition in place or cerns about how the draw up some other MARTA development kind of contract that would look. would require MARA group of resiTA to honor the finddents that has opings of a Design Reposed the proposed BATES MATTISON view Board created development argues, CITY COUNCILMEMBER at a later date and to among other things, work with that board that the project is too on the design of the proposed project. “It large for the area and will increase trafwouldn’t have the same quasi-judicial fic in surrounding residential neighborpowers because it would just be a condihoods. tion, or contract.” During the council’s Jan. 10 work ses“And I don’t even know if that’s possision, though, council members and staff ble,” he said. members debated whether a Design ReOn its website for the project, MARTA view Board should be included in Chaphas posted that it anticipated breaking ter 2 of the city code, which covers the ground for the project by March. creations of boards, or Chapter 27, which The proposed development at the deals with zoning. Anything that deals MARTA station that fronts Peachtree with zoning must go before the Planning Road and borders Apple Valley Road, Commission before being considered by Dresden Drive and North Druid Hills the City Council. Road includes a 125-room hotel, more Mattison said during the work session than 500 residential units, nearly 56,000 he would like the council “to pull the trigsquare feet in retail space, 200,000 ger” as quickly as possible on voting on a square feet of office space as well as a Design Review Board in order to have the small town center park on an approxiboard in place before the expected MARmate 15-acre site of what is now a mostTA vote.

This is not our area of expertise. We should have the Planning Commission review it.


But later in the meeting, Mattison acknowledged it would be helpful to have input from the Planning Commission on the implementation of the ordinance to create the new Design Review Board to determine such things as scope and what kind of developments the new board would review. “This is not our area of expertise,” Mattison said. “We should have the Planning Commission review it. I think it would be helpful.” Mattison said he is trying to honor residents’ requests to have a Design Review Board in place in order to monitor the development closely, if it is approved. But he also said he knows MARTA and its developers have been waiting a long time for the vote. MARTA is asking for a special land use permit, or SLUP, that would allow the agency to build the 8-story office tower that is 125 feet tall, rather than the currently allowed 100-foot-tall building. “I’ve heard loud and clear from members of the MARTA Citizens Review Board

and citizens about the SLUP for the office tower that we need to have a DRB if the city is going to have any teeth in the process,” Mattison said. “I know that MARTA and the developers have been waiting around a long time and they have been very tolerant,” he said. “I respect that. But I have to have balance as we make decisions that represent the interests of my constituents … as well as the concerns of time and money that MARTA have.” In October, when the council deferred the MARTA vote, Amanda Rhein, Senior Director of Transit Oriented Development and Real Estate at MARTA, implied the future of the development may be in doubt due to the city’s decisions to delay votes. “This is a time-sensitive project … and I don’t know what this means for our development partners,” she said at the time. “They were expecting approval.” Developers for the project, Brookhaven City Center Partners, is a joint venture of The Integral Group and Transwestern.

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16 | Out & About

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Mondays, from Jan. 23 through March 6




The winter session of Perimeter Adult Learning & Services, Inc. (PALS), continues with classes for senior adults in three time slots each Monday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Classes include: “The Civil War,” “Beautiful Geological Marvels II,” “Music,” “Mahjongg,” “Examining Your Funny Bone II,” “Shakespeare,” “Points of History,” “Great Decisions 2017,” and “Bridge.” Cost: $8 one day; $45 full session. Lunch available for extra fee. Dunwoody United Methodist Church, 1548 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: palsonline.org or 770-698-0801.





Saturday, Jan. 28, 1-4 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 27 to Sunday, Feb. 19

A series of three classes taught by naturalist illustrator Christy Knight combines the love of art and nature for adults 18 and older of all ability levels. The first class is “Winter Subjects in Pen and Ink.” Subsequent classes, on Feb. 11 and March 25, use colored pencils and watercolor, respectively. Basic suggested materials provided. $75 per class; $200 for full series. Blue Heron Nature Preserve, 4055 Roswell Road N.E., Buckhead. Info: bhnp.org/natural-science-workshops-for-adults or 404-455-3560.

Stage Door Players presents “Death by Design,” a dark comedy by Rob Urbinati set in a weekend at an English country manor in 1932. North DeKalb Cultural Center, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Showtimes and ticket info: stagedoorplayers.net.


Tuesday, Jan. 24 to Wednesday, Feb. 15

The 17th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival will present 202 screenings, including 75 films from 24 countries, at multiple venues in Atlanta. The opening night film is “Alone in Berlin,” based on a true story of grieving parents driven by the loss of their son to resist the Nazi regime. All screenings include post-film conversation with filmmakers, actors, academics and other experts. The festival is presented by AJFF, an independent arts organization, and is anchored at the Lefont Sandy Springs theater, 5920 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: ajff.org.

ARTS WORKSHOPS Through Sunday, Jan. 29


The Spruill Center for the Arts is offering one- and two-day workshops through the end of January on jewelry, flower arrangement, acrylic color mixing, collage and more. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: Awww.spruillarts.org/classes. TION & PARKS

Lost Corner Preserve is located on 24+ acres of beautiful woodlands with nature trails, a winding creek, community gardens, historic buildings, and an assortment of wildlife, trees LECTURE HISTORY OFarea SANDY SPRINGS and native plants. It has a rich and unique history dating back SERIES: to the settlement of the Fourth Wednesdays, January through May, 7:30-8:30 p.m. in the mid-1800’s and the Civil War.

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First Sundays: February through April, 3-4 p.m.

Local historian Clarke Otten presents the history of Sandy Springs in a lecture series presented by Friends of Lost Corner, a park and historic site. Topic for Jan. 25 is “Indian Trails and Pioneer Tales.” Friends of Lost Corner also presents a “Secret History of Lost Corner” lecture. Visitors can learn how previous owners of Lost Corner’s 20th century farmhouse helped shape the Sandy Springs area. Suggested donation: $5. Lost Corner Preserve, 7300 Brandon Mill Road N.W., Sandy Springs. Register: registration. 7300 Brandon Mill Rd. 30328 sandyspringsga. gov. Info: 770(Located at the corner of Brandon Mill SUBMIT YOUR EVENT LISTING WITH US AT 730-5600. Road where Riverside Drive turns into calendar@ReporterNewspapers.net Dalrymple Road)

Lost Corner Preserve

JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Out & About | 17






Investor, radio host and motivational speaker Charlie Harary will speak on “Tapping Into Your Inner Greatness” at Congregation Ariel. Dessert reception follows the program. Cost: $10. 5227 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Information: congariel.org or 770-390-9071.

Friends of the Dunwoody Library sponsor a book sale. Public hours: 4-8 p.m. on Jan. 26; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30. The final day of the sale is Bag Day (fill a provided bag for a set price). 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: 770-512-4640.

Monday, Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 26 to Saturday, Jan. 28; Monday, Jan. 30

BASEBALL LEGEND RON POLK Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m.

Baseball coach Ron Polk, known as “the winningest coach in the Southeastern Conference,” headlines a fund-raiser for Riverwood International Charter School’s Raider Baseball. Polk will speak about his time around the diamond and sign baseballs and copies of his book, “The Baseball Playbook,” which will be available for purchase ($20). Suggested donation for the event: $10. Food available for purchase. 5900 Raider Drive N.W., Sandy Springs. Info: RaiderBaseballLegacy@gmail.com or RiverwoodAthletics.org.


Saturday, Jan. 28, 10:30 a.m.-noon.

Heritage Sandy Springs continues its American Girl Club monthly programming with a pajama party including popcorn and snacks. Girls are invited to bring their dolls and a pillow to watch the movie “Lea to the Rescue!” Best suited for ages 5-12. Free. RSVP recommended. Heritage Sandy Springs office building, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: 404-851-9111, ext. 2.



Saturday, Feb. 4, 2-3 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m.

Timothy Tyson, author of “The Blood of Emmett Till,” discusses his book about the 1955 lynching in Mississippi of a 14-yearold black boy from Chicago and the trial that followed. Tyson is also the author of “Blood Done Sign My Name,” a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Admission: $5 members; $10 non-members. Reservations required. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info: 404-814-4150.


Learn about birds with Nature’s Echo, a conservation organization, in February’s Free First Saturday program at the Dunwoody Nature Center. Registration info: dunwoodynature.org or 770-394-3322.

DADDY DAUGHTER DANCE Saturday, Feb. 4, 6-8 p.m.

Girls and their fathers or father figures are invited to a city-sponsored dance featuring music from both generations. Open to all girls attending schools in Sandy Springs. Business casual to semi-formal attire. Limited to 125 girls. Cost: $35 for father and daughter; $10 each additional daughter. Spalding Drive Charter Elementary School, 130 W. Spalding Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: registration.sandyspringsga.gov or 770-730-5600.

CAJUN/CREOLE DANCE PARTY Saturday, Feb. 4, 8-11 p.m.

Party with Dennis Stroughmatt & Creole Stomp. Led by Creole accordionist and fiddler Dennis Stroughmatt, the band plays everything from bluesy two-steps to Zydeco. Free dance lesson 7-8 p.m. Cost: $18; $5 students, $14 active military. No partner necessary. All ages welcome. Cajun food for sale. Dorothy Benson Senior Multipurpose Complex, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Sponsored by the Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association. Info: aczadance.org or 877-338-2420.

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18 | Out & About

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Film festival documentary explores U.S. racism during 1936 Berlin Olympics BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The 1936 Berlin Olympics was supposed to be a world showcase for Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany’s belief that the strength of the Aryan race could not be matched by anyone else.


Screenings for “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice” Jan. 27 at UA Tara Cinemas at 2:55 p.m. Feb. 5 at Lefont Sandy Springs at 4:15 p.m., including appearance by Director Deborah Riley Draper Feb. 9 at Regal Atlantic Station at 7:50 p.m. ajff.org/film/olympic-prideamerican-prejudice

But African-American and U.S. athlete Jesse Owens, rising above racial tensions in his home country, claimed four gold medals in track and field and achieved a legacy that continues today. What’s not as well-known is that there were 17 other American black athletes, including two women, competing at the 1936 Olympic Games. They defied calls for boycotts from a country that treated them as second-class citizens so they could compete on the world stage. “It’s really a fascinating story. It’s a complicated story,” said Debora Riley Draper of Atlanta, director of the featurelength documentary “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice” screening at this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Actor Blair Underwood is the narrator. The documentary screening is one in a record number 202 screenings, including 75 films from 24 countries at multiple venues in Atlanta, presented in the 17th year of the film festival. Draper said she was researching Valaida Snow, a trumpet player from Chattannooga, Tenn., who ended up in a Nazi concentration camp after being arrested in 1941 in Denmark while touring with an all-female band. And in that research, she learned that 18 African American athletes competed in the Berlin Olympics.


Archie Williams was one of 18 black athletes who competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Here he is with reporters after he won the gold in the 400 meter dash.

“I only knew about Jesse Owens,” years ago are very similar to conversaDraper said, “and learned that the stories tions people are having today about race of the other athletes, including these two and protests. When she began the docuwomen, all went into obscurity.” mentary, people were talking about the It was known that Hitler did not want shootings of unarmed black teens Trayany African Americans competing in von Martin and Tamir Rice. his Olympics, and the In the NFL, San black athletes faced Francisco quarterfierce opposition from back Colin Kaepernick their peers and others made waves when he in the U.S. to boycott chose to take a knee the games or face the during the National idea they would be supAnthem as a silent proporting Hitler’s tyrantest to America’s treatny by competing. ment of black people. But at the time, a “These are all confederal anti-lynching versations about patribill was sitting on Presotism, the rights and ident Franklin D. Roofreedoms people have,” sevelt’s desk with no Draper said. real chance of it being The 18 Africansigned and black peoAmerican athletes ple were forced to deal DEBORA RILEY DRAPER who competed in Berwith violent Jim Crow DIRECTOR “OLYMPIC PRIDE, lin were not condoning laws that enforced ra- AMERICAN PREJUDICE” Hitler or Nazism, Drapcial segregation, iner said, because they cluding separate restrooms and water were not the policy makers. They were fountains for black and white people and athletes. But sports can bring visibility to forcing black people to sit in the back of political issues, and, by winning, the Afrithe bus. Racism within law enforcement can Americans very publicly showed the was rampant as well. world that the Nazi principle that Aryans “This was an interesting time and Afwere the best athletes was simply wrong. rican Americans were trying to figure Ben Johnson, the American sprinter out how to exist,” Draper said. considered the most serious rival to Jes“In America where they lived, the se Owens, was unable to compete in the black athletes couldn’t get their own 1936 Olympics due to an injury. He said at country to recognize them as American the time, “I don’t stand for tyranny in any citizens,” she said. “For them to get on country including America,” Draper said. a boat [to go to Germany] with USA on “The athletes wanted to compete. their backs was a political statement.” They had a lot to prove as African AmerThe athletes, she said, were willing to icans regardless of their country’s policompete, and win, for a country that did cies,” she said. not love them. “If they won, it certainly takes down “That took courage,” Draper said. “The the Aryan supremacy business and it furunbelievable strength, and this perseverthers the cause of taking down Jim Crow,” ance, this fearlessness, and the ability to she said. “Sports are visible. And being do the right thing.” able to be visible encourages the next Draper said the conversations 80 generation.”

I only knew about Jesse Owens and learned that the stories of the other athletes, including these two women, all went into obscurity.

JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Community | 19



At left: Butch Welch, the state’s project manager for the I-285/Ga.400 reconstruction, explains the upcoming phases of work at the Sandy Springs headquarters. At right: Jill Goldberg, communications manager for the Georgia Department of Transportation, points to proposed locations for sound-blocking walls on a map of Ga. 400.

Inside GDOT’s ‘Transform 285/400’ project command center BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

It was a quiet Friday morning amid the empty cubicles in a Sandy Springs office building. But the tapestry-sized highway maps on the walls gave a hint of the work that will soon set the place buzzing for years to come. The address is 270 Carpenter Drive, Suite 450, and the offices are the Georgia Department of Transportation’s command headquarters for the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange reconstruction project. The first dirt will be plowed for the “Transform 285/400” project within the next week, and work will continue into mid-2020. “This is a big project and there’s a lot of eyes and ears on it,” says Butch Welch, the GDOT project manager, who will lead the 15 to 20 people in the headquarters keeping that attention as work ramps up. That’s why GDOT chose to have a local headquarters in that building, which sits about 500 feet from I-285’s Roswell Road exit and less than a mile from the interchange. And three floors above them, an elevator ride away from any questions, is North Perimeter Contractors, the team of companies that won the $460 million project. “We can get there fast, not worry about the traffic,” said GDOT communications manager Jill Goldberg. “We try to be out there at least every day,” said Welch about reviewing the preparation work already underway along Ga. 400 in Sandy Springs. GDOT and private contractors assisting in the project’s oversight have the ability to view live traffic camera footage of the highways, but Welch said he is “one of the people who wants to get out in the field, whether it’s 2 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon.” Welch and Goldberg spoke in a small, freshly painted conference room in the headquarters, which has yet to acquire lived-in touches. Name placards for future staff members hang on vacant cubicles. A few pieces of art, including a painting of another mega-project, New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge, brighten a visitor waiting room. The most notable decorations are the scroll-like highway maps stretching for yards, depicting plans for such details as sound-blocking walls and new highway signs. The maps also give a sense of the sheer scale of the massive project. Rebuilding one of the state’s busiest highway interchanges—it handles about 400,000 vehicles per day— to improve capacity and flow is just the beginning. The work also involves adding “collector-distributor lanes”—physically separated exit and entrance lanes—to Ga. 400 north to Sandy Springs’ Spalding Drive and to I-285 between Roswell Road and Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Dunwoody and Brookhaven. The Ga. 400/Abernathy Road interchange in Sandy Springs will be rebuilt as a “diverging diamond,” in which traffic flow changes in time with traffic lights to move cars faster, and 33 bridges will be built or rehabbed. “We’re getting ready to blow up the interchange,” Welch says cheerfully, adding it’s “not going to be as devastating as people think.” He cited two reasons: Most of the work will be done at night, and through a phased construction that allows all roadways to remain partly open during construction and, at least in theory, to improve traffic before the work is totally done. In fact, the new interchange is still being designed and its work may not begin for another year or more.

There was, naturally, a diagram hanging on the wall to illustrate the phasing. Welch sprang up to point out that it begins with reconstruction of the Mount Vernon Highway bridge over Ga. 400. Sporting a silver crew cut and immaculate work shirt and jeans, Welch speaks about such complexities with an engineer’s precise details and notes of caution. Communicating such details to the public and local officials is another reason to have a local headquarters, which anyone is welcome to visit, Welch said. “We can’t solve everybody’s problem. In fact, we’re probably going to create a lot of problems” in the short term, Welch said. But what GDOT can do is clearly communicate the plans and coordinate mitigations with whoever is affected. As a small example, Welch cited the need to coordinate the project’s work so it won’t conflict with cities’ roadwork or right-of- way maintenance. “With taxpayer dollars, we don’t want to be doing something and then tearing it up,” he said. Meanwhile, Welch said, any construction pains will be worth it. “What you see out there now, that’s going to go away,” he said. “You’ll be able to go”—he whistled and sliced a finger through the air—“straight through.”

Other ‘Transform 285/400’ updates CURRENT CONSTRUCTION PHASING The current construction plan starts with replacing the Mt. Vernon bridge, followed by, in order: new lanes on Ga. 400’s east side north of Hammond Drive; similar work on Ga. 400’s west side; the same work on Ga. 400 south of Hammond; the Abernathy diverging diamond; and finally the I-285 and interchange work. GDOT recently mailed out notices for two open houses about proposed sound-blocking walls along Ga. 400. Both will be held Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. at Congregation B’Nai Torah, 700 Mount Vernon in Sandy Springs. Affected property owners get to vote on whether any sound barriers will be built. TRAFFIC COORDINATION The two cities directly impacted by work are Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. Their police departments are working on an agreement that will allow off-duty officers to work traffic details in both jurisdictions, Sandy Springs Police Chief Ken DeSimone told his City Council Jan. 17. Another concern is the new Atlanta Braves stadium, set to open in March farther down I-285 in Cobb County. The I-285/Ga. 400 night lane closures will start after game time, potentially surprising and confusing fans with new conditions on their way home. Goldberg said GDOT is working on a communications plan, possibly including messages on the giant screens in the stadium. THE NEXT PROJECT “Transform 285/400,” big as it is, is not the end of work in the area. GDOT already has preliminary plans to add “managed” lanes in the area within the next decade. Managed lanes mean some type of restricted-access lanes, usually by a toll. Goldberg said GDOT officials will present information about the managed lanes at the Sandy Springs City Council’s retreat Jan. 24 at Lost Corner Preserve.

20 | Education

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T.J. Edwards Mount Vernon Presbyterian School Editor’s note: Through our “Exceptional Educator” series, Reporter Newspapers showcase the work of some of the outstanding teachers and administrators at our local schools. If you would like to recommend an Exceptional Educator to be included in our series, please email editor@ReporterNewspapers.net with information about the teacher or administration and why you think he or she should be featured.

T.J. Edwards

teaches technology, engineering and design at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School. His students have used a 3-D printer to manufacture prosthetic hands for a man who was born without fully formed fingers on his right hand.


What attracted you to teaching at first?


I’m a career changer, having first worked in the construction engineer fields and been owner/operator of a small business for a few years. In each of those instances, I felt a void of purpose. I made the change to teaching so that I could reignite my love for tech



and design while sharing some knowledge and experiences that I wish I had in my own high school experience.

Q: Has the appeal changed? A: I think the appeal has only grown.

Over the years, students will come back and say they appreciate having a certain experience or how they enjoyed a class. Those relationships with students continually remind me that this is the right career for me.

Q: What keeps you going year after



Beyond the day-to-day interaction with students and a really awesome team of teachers, I’m continually invigorated by the way the conversations around education are evolving. Students are getting more opportunities to work on problems that matter — not ones invented by teachers — and as a result they are gaining a sense that their world is malleable and we trust them to shape it in a positive way. I think we are on the cusp of a major (and much-



Jeff Kremer

Account Executive

needed) reimagining of the way we “do” school.


What do you think makes a great teacher?


I think it is really helpful for teachers know it is OK to be vulnerable with students. It is OK to not know all the answers. In fact, those problems that aren’t easily Googled are the ones worth solving, right? Some of the best experiences I’ve had with students is when we tackled a problem that none of us knew the answer(s) to. In that way, I was co-creating and learning alongside the students.


What do you want to see in your students?


I want to see students that are insatiably curious. In some ways, it feels like school can stomp that out of students as the get older. I want students to be problem-seekers and demonstrate diversity in both thought and action.


How do you engage your stu-



I think I invest a lot of time on classroom culture and expectations. We might spend a few weeks talking through craftsmanship, self-reliance, how to work in a team, and why it is important to be contributors to — not just consumers of — knowledge. I think that has helped students take ownership of their learning.


Do you have a project or special program you use year after year?


One personality trait (or flaw?) of mine is that I continually like to try new projects and ideas, so no two se-

mesters are exactly the same. Over the past four years, a theme of building assistive technologies for disabled individuals has emerged as a favorite. I think some of the secret to those projects is that students have a user in mind — one who has very real and observable needs. The empathy that is generated compels students to be successful because the stakes are higher than just a grade, which can feel relatively meaningless at times.


Is there a “trick” that works to get students involved?


I don’t know if it is a trick, but I think kids by nature want to work on problems that they care about. Sometimes that means opening their eyes to issues they didn’t know existed and other time it means tailoring projects to meet their personal strengths and preferences.


What do you hope your students take away from your class?


Maybe there are two big things: 1) I want students to gain the super power of X-ray vision — an ability to imagine how designed objects are fabricated and 2) to be both critical thinkers and critical makers. Maybe that’s a new discipline/department I’d like to create: Art of the Possible.

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Published by Springs Publishing, LLC, 6065 Roswell Road, Suite 225, Sandy Springs, GA 30328

Teacher T.J. Edwards chats with student Emily Moseley.


JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Classifieds | 21


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SERVICES AVAILABLE Driveways & Walkways – Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repaired, waterproofing and retaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576. Tranquil Waters Lawn Care – Hauling of debris, yard cleanup, aeration & leaf blowing. Senior & Veteran discount – free estimates. Call Mike 678-662-0767

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22 | Public Safety

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Police Blotter / Brookhaven From Brookhaven Police reports dated Jan. 8 through Jan 15. The following information was pulled from Brookhaven’s Police-2-Citizen website.

POSSESSION AND DUI 2600 block of Buford Highway —

On Jan. 8, after midnight, a man was charged with marijuana possession. 1500 block of Briarwood Road — On

Jan. 9, in the early morning, a man was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. 3100 block of Buford

Highway — On Jan. 9, in the morning, a man was charged with marijuana possession. 3000 block of

Buford Highway — On Jan. 10, in the evening, a man was charged

with possession of a controlled substance.


1400 block of North-

east Expressway — On Jan. 13, in the early morning, a man was charged with marijuana possession. block of Buford Highway — On Jan. 14, a man was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

ARRESTS 3900 block of Peachtree Road — On Jan. 8, in the morning, a man who was driving without headlights was arrested.


3800 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 15, in the early morning, a woman was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. 4200 block of Peachtree Road —

On Jan. 15, in the morning, a woman under the age of 21, was charged with driving under the influence.

3700 block of Peachtree Road — On Jan. 9, in the afternoon, a woman was charged with theft by taking.

1600 block of Briarwood Road — On Jan. 8, in the afternoon, a man was charged with driving without a driver’s license.

3600 block of Buford Highway —

On Jan. 9, in the morning, a man was charged with driving without a driver’s license. 3200 block of Buford Highway — On

2400 block of Briarcliff Road — On

Jan. 9, in the evening, a woman was charged with forgery. 1300 block of Citizens Parkway — On

Jan. 9, in the evening, a man was charged with home invasion. 3100 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 13, a man was charged with simple battery. 3300 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 14, a woman was charged with operating her vehicle without a tag. 3300 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 14, a man was charged with improper backing. 1100 block of Oglethorpe Avenue —

On Jan. 15, in the early morning, a man was charged with simple battery. 3900 block of Peachtree Road —

On Jan. 15, in the morning, a man was charged with criminal trespass.

Jan. 9, in the evening, a man was charged with failing to exercise due care while driving.

B R O O KHAV EN P O L I C E I NV ES TI G ATI NG SHO O TING I NVO LV ING T O Y G UN Brookhaven Police continue to investigate a shooting at a bar in Northeast Plaza in the very early morning hours of Jan. 8 in which one person was injured after apparently waving a toy gun at an armed employee. No arrests and no charges have been filed at his point, according to police. At about 3 a.m. on Jan. 8, officers were called to Acapulco sports bar located at 3363 Buford Highway inside Northeast Plaza about an armed person in the parking lot, according to a press release. “Officers quickly learned of a shooting that had occurred,” said Major Brandon Gurley. Gurley said that a male became extremely intoxicated and at one point fell to the ground at the bar. “Some sort of dispute began as the manager and security guard attempted to help the patron off the ground. Eventually, the male subject was heard saying the he ‘had something’ for the employees as he exited the business,” according to the press release. The intoxicated man was seen a short time later walking toward the business holding a pistol in his hand. An employee of the bar grabbed their own handgun and confronted the man and told him not to come into the bar. The armed employee fired several rounds at the drunk man, forcing him to retreat and leave in a white truck, according to police. At approximately 5:30 a.m., the armed person who left the bar was located at 2515 Northeast Expressway, the Avenues 85 Apartments, after calling 911 and saying he had been shot. “Officers found that the subject had been shot in his shoulder and wrist. Officers recovered a replica or toy handgun at this location that they believe was involved in the incident. The subject was transported by ambulance to an Atlanta area hospital where he remains,” according to police. “This investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed at this point. Names are not yet being released,” Gurley said in the release. BK

JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Public Safety | 23



Left: The Bearcat, an armored personnel vehicle, is used by the North Metro SWAT Team in such situations as when officers need to get close to a building where an armed shooter is suspected of hiding. Right: Sandy Springs Police Chief Ken DeSimone poses with a Throwbot XT robot.

SWAT command vehicle costs being shared by local cities BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

A new command vehicle for the North Metro SWAT Team is being purchased with funds from the four cities it serves – Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs and John’s Creek. Total cost of the Freightliner command vehicle from Summit Bodyworks is $247,659. The cost for the vehicle is being divided according to populations of the four cities, with Dunwoody paying $41,916; Sandy Springs paying $88,228; Brookhaven paying $43,897; and John’s Creek chipping in $73,616. “We’ve needed a command vehicle for quite a long time,” Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan told Dunwoody City Council on Jan. 9. “This is a piece of equipment urgently needed. Right now our command and control is being done on the hood of a vehicle.” As part of a memorandum of understanding among the cities, Sandy Springs will purchase the vehicle and maintain it. The vehicle is not a military vehicle, but was designed by a company that specializes in outfitting specialty vehicles. “This command vehicle will be huge for us,” said Sandy Springs Capt. Mike Lindstrom. Sandy Springs police Sgt. James McNabb, tactical commander for the North Metro SWAT Team, said the vehicle will be important for the team and for any critical incident in which local law enforcement must be at a scene for an extended period of time. “It’s just a good idea to have a centralized command area. It allows us to unify everything and keep everyone on the same page, especially when you’re serving four different cities,” McNabb said. A command vehicle also helps keep commanders and supervisors safe durBK

ing harsh weather, he said, and will have a special area for hostage negotiators to be in contact with suspects while also knowing what is happening on the ground among fellow officers. North Metro SWAT was called out on fewer than 10 calls last year, McNabb said, but one included a violent home invasion in Brookhaven where two suspects barricaded themselves in an apartment. The suspects were arrested without injuries. McNabb said the specialized equipment the SWAT team currently has includes two “throwbots,” mini-robots that can be easily thrown through a window or door and relay sound and video to officers trying to gauge how dangerous a situation is. Last year, Sandy Springs police received a $15,894 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to buy a second “Throwbot XT” for the North Metro Swat unit. The SWAT unit also has an ICOR Caliber T5 robot that stands nearly 2 feet tall and weighs about 150 pounds. This robot has a claw that is able to retrieve suspicious packages, for example, and a camera that relays what it comes across to officers. It is also designed to potentially breach doors if needed, said McNabb. “The thowbots can be more secret and [provide] stealth, but with this [the ICOR robot] you know it’s coming,” he said. The SWAT team also has an armored vehicle, known as a Bearcat, which was purchased and is owned by the Dunwoody Police Department. It can be used to forcefully enter a building, but can also be used in an active shooter situation by positioning it between an injured civilian and a gunman, explained McNabb. The Bearcat is often used when officers need to approach a structure where an armed individual may be holed up,

such as during the Brookhaven home invasion last year, he said. The Bearcat holds between eight to 10 officers, including a medic. “Anytime we any do sort of warrants and need to get close to a bad guy structure ... we use the Bearcat,” he said. A shovel-like device can be attached

to the Bearcat to break down a door and there is a turret on top of the vehicle where a rifleman can sit. “I’ve heard them being called tanks, but they are nothing like that. It does have a place for a rifleman to sit up front, but there are no cannons or machine guns aboard,” he said.



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