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JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017 • VOL. 8 — NO. 2

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

Celebrating King Day with service

Brook Run Park planning kicks off with poll of residents BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Dunwoody residents Charlie Smith, 7, and her brother Prescott, 5, help put together care packages for homeless and underprivileged families in metro Atlanta at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event in Dunwoody Village hosted by The Packaged Good non-profit organization. More photos, page 14.►

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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. BOB VOYLES Chairman of the Perimeter Business Alliance

See page 20

See COMMENTARY, page 10

PHIL MOSIER

OUT & ABOUT Get Bird Brainy at Dunwoody park Page 16

Are athletic fields and an outdoor cafe coming soon to Brook Run Park? These were a couple of the ideas suggested as the city began its Parks and Recreation Master Plan by gathering input from residents and city officials about what people would like to see in Brook Run Park. Representatives with parks consultant jB+A presented a short outline of how the comprehensive plan will be developed to a small group of residents who gathered Jan. 17 at St. Patrick’s Church, across the street from the park. “We’re working on an overall comprehensive plan … and are drilling down into more detail for Brook Run Park,” said Steve Provost, of jB+A, which is working with GreenPlay to design a final master plan that could be completed as soon as this spring. See BROOK on page 13

Boy Scout clears Nature Center of invasive species BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Bobby Nice has been a Boy Scout for eight years, earning all kinds of merit badges along the way. But one he is working on now is requiring hundreds of hours of work to clear invasive species from the Dunwoody Nature Center. Nice, 13, lives in Snellville, but when he decided he wanted to earn a Hornaday award, he found the Dunwoody Nature Center was a perfect place to fulfill the requirements. “A Hornaday project is a long-term See BOY on page 15


2 | Community

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Physical therapist meets neighborhood resistance on home business mise the family nation, said she preture of the neighsented 16 signatures borhood,” he said. to the Planning “Many home busiCommission of peonesses operate unple opposing the reder the radar but I zoning request. want to do every“If approved, this thing by the letter of SLUP could result in the law.” the increased comRoberson said mercialization of through the years our community and he has seen huge indecrease home valcreases in healthues,” she said. “This care costs and how is not in line with insurance compathe character of the nies will only apneighborhood and prove a certain more traffic could number of physical be dangerous.” therapy sessions. RHETT ROBERSON Kathy Wylie, a By opening his own PHYSICAL THERAPIST neighbor, said she home business, Robsupported approval erson said he wants of the SLUP because to continue seeing clients who are able allowing residents to open a small busito pay out of pocket for his services after ness in their home will attract young peotheir insurance runs out. ple. “And those are the people interested Roberson is proposing to serve one cliin buying my house,” she said. ent at a time with his business hours set from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through April Renner, who works in the real Friday with weekend hours from 9 a.m. estate business, said she believed allowto 5 p.m. Parking would be readily availing home businesses in the neighborable in his driveway, he said. hood will only increase home values beRoberson said that while those are the cause younger home buyers are more hours, that does not mean he expects to and more working from home. have a client every hour on the hour. The later hours allow for clients who work She added there are more than 700 all day to be able to come in for physical homes in Dunwoody North and a petitherapy after work, he explained. tion of 16 signatures opposing the SLUP Leslie O’Callaghan, a board member approval is hardly a clear representation of the Dunwoody North Civic Associaof what people support.

“By no means do I want to compromise the family nature of the neighborhood. Many home businesses operate under the radar but I want to do everything by the letter of the law.”

DYANA BAGBY

Rhett Roberson, a physical therapist, is asking the City Council to approve his request to open a business in his home in the Dunwoody North neighborhood.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

A Dunwoody North resident is seeking to open a physical therapy business in his home on Brookhurst Drive. But he’s facing some opposition from neighbors who fear a precedent will be set and unlock the door to more home businesses in the residential neighborhood. Rhett Roberson, who lives at 2346 Brookhurst Drive, is asking the City Council to approve a special land use permit to allow him to home a physical therapy clinic in his basement. The Planning Commission voted Dec. 13 to recommend denial of the SLUP, but city staff is recommending approval. The City Council was expected to vote on second and final read of the request on Jan. 23. At the City Council’s Jan. 9 meeting, Judy Hofer said she is a 35-year resident

of Dunwoody and is the chair of the Dunwoody North Civic Association’s Neighborhood Watch program. She told the council she fears “a steady stream of strangers” coming into her neighborhood to visit the proposed home-based business. “This is a quiet, residential neighborhood. We pay attention to who lives here,” she said. “Our zoning is strictly residential.” Roberson is seeking to be approved as a Type B business, which allows customers to come to the site. Roberson, who holds a full-time job at the Sports Rehabilitation Center with offices in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Buckhead/Brookhaven, told the council he wants to open his own business to serve clients better and with the hopes of opening a brick-andmortar shop in Dunwoody in the future. “By no means do I want to compro-

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The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners has elected Kathie Gannon as presiding officer. Gannon, who represents Super Commission District 6 that makes up the western half of DeKalb County and includes Brookhaven and Dunwoody, was elected at the commission’s first meeting of 21017 on Jan. 10. As presiding officer, Gannon will chair the board meetings and establishes the board agenda. She replaces Commissioner Larry Johnson, who has served as presiding officer for seven years. “I’m honored to have been chosen by my peers, and I thank Commissioner Larry Johnson for his dedicated service,” said Gannon in a press release. “My goal is to improve how the Board of Commissioners work. In our form of government, the CEO is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the departments. The Board of Commissioners establishes policies.” Gannon immediately called for a board retreat to reach a consensus on which policies the it will address first. “There are plenty of issues we must consider: police retention, dilapidated housing, economic development, funding for roads and transportation, and more. I want our Board to reach a consensus on what we tackle first. Then I want to use our committees to focus on them, hear from experts and find solutions,” Gannon said in the release. Gannon represents approximately 350,000 citizens in the western half of DeKalb County and is one of two Super District Commissioners. The DeKalb Board of Commissioners is comprised of five district commissioners and two super districts. She was reelected in 2016 to a fourth term. DUN


JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

ZIP code errors could cut sales tax proceeds, Sandy Springs says BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

The city of Sandy Springs fears it’s getting stiffed on its share of sales tax revenues due to ZIP Code confusion that leads some businesses to incorrectly report themselves as being in Atlanta. But the evidence is murky as to whether it’s an actual problem and if so, how big the losses are. The neighboring city of Dunwoody said it occasionally sees a small number of sales tax miscalculations, but has auditing measures to catch them, and the state Department of Revenue says it has similar mechanisms. Sandy Springs officials could not give a current example of such a business and have never conducted an audit to see whether any are misreporting. Sandy Springs’ concerns date back to the city’s 2005 incorporation in ZIP Codes that once were just called “Atlanta” or other city names. But officials have revived fears because of recently approved sales tax hikes—from 7 to 7.75 percent in Fulton County and from 8 to 8.9 percent within Atlanta—that will directly fund city transportation projects. “It’s always been confusing, but now you’re talking about real money,” said Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul at the Jan. 3 City Council meeting, where councilmembers raised the fears. ZIP Codes can be confusing. While they often carry a city name, ZIP codes are simply mail delivery route areas created by the U.S. Postal Service for its planning convenience. They rarely match actual city borders and are sometimes changed. Eight different ZIP Codes cover parts of Sandy Springs, some entirely within the city borders, some overlapping with such cities as Atlanta and Norcross. The Postal Service designates one or more “preferred” city names for each ZIP Code. In terms of getting mail, it often doesn’t matter what city name someone uses as long as the street address and ZIP Code number are correct. City Communications Director Sharon Kraun, a Sandy Springs resident who has long worked on the sales tax issue, said she once tested that herself. “I put my daughter’s name as a city name. I still got [the mail],” she said. “I put my dog’s name and still got it.” In sales taxes, ZIP Code names may matter a lot more. Sales taxes are combination of state, county, local and, in some counties, MARTA taxes. Businesses collect the taxes and pay the revenue to the state, which then distributes the local shares. The concern, Kraun said, is that some businesses use software that automatically calculates the tax on a purchase by ZIP Code rather than by an actual city map. If “Atlanta” is the preferred city name for a ZIP Code covering both cities, the fear is DUN

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that Sandy Springs loses its tax and Atlanta incorrectly gets it instead. Kraun worked on the ZIP Code issue several years ago with former Mayor Eva Galambos. At that time, Kraun said, they found several companies—especially online retailers—that incorrectly forced Sandy Springs customers to use a default “Atlanta” address that miscalculated the sales tax as if they were in that city. One example Kraun gave was the clothing company Land’s End, which she said no longer has that problem. Kraun could not cite a current example of a business that miscalculates its sales tax. An informal Reporter Newspapers review of receipts from a few Sandy Springs restaurants and grocers found the correct tax calculated. The giant online retailer Amazon.com also calculated the correct tax for a purchase made to a PeachtreeDunwoody Road address in Sandy Springs using “Atlanta” as the city name in the 30342 ZIP Code, which overlaps both cities. Sandy Springs has never performed a formal audit or inventory of the sales tax problem, Kraun said, and has had few discussions with other cities or the state about it. “There’s not a way to calculate how much we’re losing,” she said. Dunwoody isn’t concerned, according to city spokesperson Bob Mullen. According to Dunwoody Finance Director Chris Pike, Mullen said, “those problems are few and rarely pop up, and in most cases it’s a simple misunderstanding…He mentioned it potentially evens out in the grand scheme of things as it’s not something on a grand scale or of a critical mass.” The state Department of Revenue has a “Business Occupational Tax Submittal System” to catch such mistakes, according to spokesperson William Gaston. He said the program allows cities to submit files about which businesses are registered within their borders, which the department then uses to check against sales tax collections. Sandy Springs sales tax fears are complicated by another motive: civic pride and branding. City leaders have long pushed residents to call the area “Sandy Springs” rather than “Atlanta” as community-building. “There was the civic piece of it and the financial piece of it,” Kraun said of Galambos’s ZIP Code interests. In 2012, the city successfully pushed the Postal Service to conduct a mail-in vote on making “Sandy Springs” the preferred name for local ZIP Codes. A majority of residents voted yes, but a needed supermajority of businesses did not, Kraun said, likely because of the prestige and national familiarity of an Atlanta address. Now, Kraun said, city staff members are looking into a possible re-vote, or even getting a single ZIP Code to cover the entire city.

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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.

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West Evans performs on an Atlanta street.


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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

PHOTOS BY JOHN RUCH

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


6 | Perimeter Business

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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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Cybersecurity company coming to Perimeter promises 500 jobs BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

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8 | Perimeter Business

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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-

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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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Ribbon Cuttings

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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.

SPECIAL

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.

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10 | Commentary

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C O NTA C T US Founder & Publisher Steve Levene stevelevene@reporternewspapers.net Editorial Managing Editor John Ruch johnruch@reporternewspapers.net INtown Editor: Collin Kelley Editor-at-Large Joe Earle Staff Writer: Dyana Bagby Copy Editor: Donna Williams Lewis Creative and Production Creative Director Rico Figliolini rico@reporternewspapers.net Graphic Designer: Soojin Yang Advertising Director of Sales Development Amy Arno amyarno@reporternewspapers.net Sales Executives Jeff Kremer, Janet Porter Jim Speakman, Janet Tassitano Office Manager Deborah Davis deborahdavis@reporternewspapers.net Contributors Robin Conte, Grace Huseth, Phil Mosier

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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.

“The lease here expires at the end of 2019, so we have a little bit more time.” Brookhaven City Manager Christian Sigman on the new that the City Hall building the city leases may be up for redevelopment.

“The people spoke, so I listened.” Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst on his move to add a 30-units-per-acre density cap for the Peachtree Road overlay district area to a recent city Planning Commission agenda.

“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. DUN


JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Commentary | 11

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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 Robin Conte is a writer a technically and mother of four who evolved culhave lives in Dunwoody. She ture, can be contacted at dawdled robinjm@earthlink.net. 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 cryme-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 readymades altogether. And of course, there are those who compose actual emails on an actual laptop and thus have the full keyboard at their disposal at all times, and who have experimented with all the emotional combinations available, creating their own emoticons out of punctuation marks and using what I will call “puncticons.” 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

Robin’s Nest Robin Conte

C O R R EC T ION

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. DUN

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 happy-face theme myself, punching keys to see what shapes they’d make and feeling like a kid with a new box of crayons curious about 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 {: >); WINK/Conte/p.4

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. ^^ O 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 fastpaced 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 Conte, at work and at play, experimenting with emoticons.

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BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Residents living along Corners Drive and other streets near Dunwoody High School continue to seek relief from city officials to stop dozens of students from parking in front of their homes because there are no available spaces at the school. St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church on Mount Vernon Road, about a half-mile from the school’s campus, recently opened up 80 spaces in its parking lot to be used by students to try to ease the frustration residents and students feel from not enough parking spaces on campus. Cost to park at the church is $30 a year, a smaller amount than the $45 it costs annually to park at DHS. “We certainly can’t blame the neighbors for being upset. It’s not like they moved in the flight path of PDK Airport and then started complaining about noise. They haven’t had this problem until this school year,” City Councilmember Jim Riticher said. “I understand residents’ concerns because there are tons of cars every day – sometimes 20 cars in a row – on a street,” City Councilmember Lynn Deutsch said. Residents have complained of sometimes not receiving mail because their mailboxes or driveways were blocked, Deutsch said. DHS Principal Tom McFerrin opened up 25 more parking slots on campus at the beginning of the year, Deutsch said, and she hopes in the weeks to come more and more students will take advantage of the parking available at the church. Currently, only seniors and staff are allowed to park at DHS. Residents have been leaving notes on the windshields of students’ vehicles telling them they can’t park in front of their homes. Police have been called numerous times to ticket or warn students, and the

city has also installed signs saying “No Parking from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.” on several streets around the high school. Mayor Denis Shortal along with Deutsch, Riticher and Police Chief Billy Grogan met recently with residents at a private home on Corners Drive to hear their concerns of student parking. Shortal said the city is asking DeKalb School Board member Stan Jester to request that paving a detention pond at DHS be bumped up on the Education Special Local Option Sales Tax project list to try to get more student parking off neighborhood streets. Funding for E-SPLOST begins being collected in March and as soon as the detention pond is paved, another 160 spaces could be made available, Shortal said. “We’re trying right now to see how parking at St. Luke’s works,” Riticher said. “The school is working with the church to encourage students to park there.” “There are just a lot more kids going to DHS,” Riticher added. And with more students participating in after-school activities and also many working jobs after school, there is also the need for more students to drive to school, said Shortal and Riticher. Shortal said McFerrin has promised that juniors who agree to park at the church will receive prime locations in the school parking lot during their senior year. “We can’t force a child to park at St. Luke’s, but we can encourage them to park there,” Shortal said. “If you park at St. Luke’s, you are guaranteed a spot at the school next year. “And walking is good training, good college prep,” the mayor said half-joking. “You learn very quickly there is nowhere close to park when you go to college. We’re all in this together, like a family, and the key is compromise that satisfies everyone.”

DUN


JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Community | 13

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Brook Run Park planning kicks off with poll of residents

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DYANA BAGBY

Rahul Karnani, center, discusses some improvements he’d like to see at Brook Run Park with jB+A consultant Steve Provost, in background.

Continued from page 1 Flat, rectangular athletic fields in the back of the 102-acre park are a popular wish among many residents. Several people also expressed interest in installing an interactive water feature, such as a splash pad, and replacing the current pavilion in the central area of the park with an updated one, perhaps one that could be used by bands. “The number one thing for me is the flow of traffic and pedestrian flow through the park,” said Rahul Karnani, who regularly visits the park with his two small children. “I feel like a lot of the attractions are at the front and other end of the park, but there is not much in the middle. There is a pavilion in the middle, but it is not utilized — we need a better pavilion, one that is easier to locate. Maybe something like a traditional bandstand and make it the public square for the park,” Karnani said. Brook Run Park is a regional park attracting thousands of people from all over metro Atlanta to Dunwoody to enjoy the park’s amenities. The park now offers a large playground, 11 shelters, a multipurpose field, a skate park, a community garden and greenhouse, a dog park, a Veterans Memorial and a multi-use trail that connects to the new Pernoshal Park. Dunwoody Homeowners Association President Robert Wittenstein suggested that more parking be installed where the former theater building was located so it could be used for the park and new baseball fields being built at Peachtree Charter Middle School. Other suggestions made include putting in a restroom where the dog park sits and perhaps an outdoor cafe where people could get a cup of coffee or sandwich DUN

while visiting the park. But the most popular responses appeared to be requests to build athletic fields in the back of the park in the space now used by drone hobbyists. “Flat, rectangular athletic fields is the standard answer I hear,” said Councilmember John Heneghan. Mayor Denis Shortal and Councilmember Jim Riticher echoed that sentiment, saying that is the one thing they continually hear from people as what should be added to the park. An enclosed amphitheater is a close second, Shortal said, where entertainers can perform in front of an audience in a tiered seating arrangement so everyone can see and hear music or other performances. Protecting the park’s streams are also important to Shortal and Riticher. “A lot of people want rectangular fields, a band pavilion and also picnic and event pavilions,” Riticher said. But with all the improvements, the city has to ensure it can maintain the upkeep of the park, Shortal said. “We have to stay on top of funding and make sure we are able to maintain the improvements. This maintenance is for the long haul — maintaining whatever we build at a high level is critical,” he said. Provost said the information gathered from the first public meeting will be put into a rough concept of what to do with Brook Run Park and those rough plans will be reviewed by city staff and City Council. A preliminary master plan will then be made after more input and then presented to the public for review and further tweaks before a final master plan is created for the city. The entire process will take several months, he said.

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14 | Community

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Dunwoody’s MLK Day of Service

A

B

C PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER

The Packaged Good hosted an event for the community to make care packages for homeless and underprivileged families in metro Atlanta on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16. The non-profit partnered with the Community Assistance Center and Homeless at Heart organizations as recipients of the packages in the MLK Day of Service event. A- Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal speaks with Kalle Wood, the volunteer coordinator for Jabian Cares, an IT management company. B- Dunwoody residents, Prescott Smith, 5, and his brother, Brooks, 2, take their places in the packing assembly line. C- The boys’ sister, Charlie Smith, 7, makes a card that will go into one of the packages.

DUN


JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Community | 15

www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Boy Scout clears Nature Center of invasive species for protection,” he said. Nice also regularly fills bird feeders and builds bird houses. Nice seeks donations from friends as well as corporations, such as Lowe’s, who are willing to donate the materials needed to build the bird houses. “It’s actually lots of fun. I’ve been working with my grandfather and have built bird houses for wrens and chickadees and possibly may build one for

blue birds,” he said. Nice is a Star-rank Boy Scout with the Northeast Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America who said scouting has provided him with helpful skills. “It is something fun I enjoy and I liked it and just kept with it,” he said. “Scouting gives me interactive skills and skills I will be able to use in the future.”

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Boy Scout Bobby Nice of Snellville is working on his Hornaday conservation project at the Dunwoody Nature Center by removing invasive species from the park.

Continued from page 1 project, in-depth and more involved than an Eagle project,” Nice said. Named for William T. Hornaday, Hornaday awards are presented to scouts who complete a months-long, or even longer, natural resources conser-

vation project. Hornaday was a zoologist and conservationist and was the first director of the New York Zoological Park, now known as the Bronx Zoo. “I have always liked conservation and nature and this project allows me to return the favor,” said Nice, who attends an online school. When searching for a project, Nice spoke to staff members at the Nature

Center, who proposed working on clearing out invasive species, such as Chinese wisteria, that were growing in the park, on the forest floor and on trees. Although Chinese wisteria, which blooms purple flowers in spring, can be pretty to look at, the plant can actually choke other plants and native species and kill them, Nice said. “It’s sort of like kudzu,” he said. So with shovels, clippers and his own hands, Nice, along with his mother, Michele BabcockNice, have spent every Friday since last spring at the Nature Center clearing away Chinese wisteria as well as Chinese privet. Chinese privet grows small, white flowers, and also chokes out native species. The way to eliminate both invasive species is to remove the entire root. “These plants girdle native trees and shrubs, and overshadow native plants on the forest floor, causing them to die,” he said. “The plants grow and spread quickly due to birds scattering their seeds. They are hearty plants that are difficult to remove and manage.” Plans are to complete the conservation project this spring, Nice said. “I’ve learned more about nature during this project, and learned these invasive species will grow in between rocks

Follow Bobby Nice’s adventures at his blog: myhornadayproject.wordpress.com DUN

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16 | Out & About

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LEARN SOMETHING CLASSES FOR SENIORS

Mondays, from Jan. 23 through March 6

BROOKHAVEN

BUCKHEAD

DUNWOODY

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.

SANDY SPRINGS

THEATER

NATURALIST ILLUSTRATION WORKSHOP

“DEATH BY DESIGN”

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.

FILM ATLANTA JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

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

SANDY SPRINGS RECRE

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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SECRET HISTORY OF LOST CORNER

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

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HEAR SOMEONE

KIDS AND FAMILIES

RADIO HOST CHARLIE HARARY

BOOK SALE

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.

AMERICAN GIRL CLUB

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.

DUNWOODY NATURE CENTER

AUTHOR TIMOTHY TYSON

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.

GET ACTIVE

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.

ATLANTA JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL JAN. 24-FEB. 15 WWW.AJFF.ORG

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.

SPECIAL

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

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PHOTOS BY JOHN RUCH

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.

Q:

What attracted you to teaching at first?

A:

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

Exceptional

Educator

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

year?

A:

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-

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

Q:

What do you think makes a great teacher?

A:

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.

Q:

What do you want to see in your students?

A:

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.

Q:

How do you engage your stu-

dents?

A:

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.

Q:

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

A:

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.

Q:

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

A:

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.

Q:

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

A:

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.

SPECIAL


JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Classifieds | 21

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22 | Public Safety

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

B U R G L A RY „„4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 11, an apartment complex reported the burglary of a recovery machine and a vacuum pump.

LARCENY/ SHOPLIFTING/ THEFT „„5500 block of Chamblee-Dunwoody

Road — On Jan. 8, a license plate was stolen from a car. „„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 8, a gun was stolen. „„4300

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 8, a minor was charged with attempting to shoplift clothing from a department store. „„1300 block of Charleston Place — On

Jan. 9, a car was reported stolen. „„6100 block of Charleston Place — On

Jan. 9, a Dodge Ram was reported stolen. „„4000 block of Dunwoody Park — On

Jan. 9, a man reported the tires on his Bentley were damaged during a failed larceny attempt. „„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 9, a $200 drone toy was stolen. „„2100 block of Peachford Drive — On

Jan. 9, a cellphone was stolen from an office. „„100 block of Perimeter Center Way —

On Jan. 9, a gym bag was stolen from a car. „„4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 9, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting electronics at a big-box discount store as well as providing false information to police. „„1200 block of Hammond Drive — On

Jan, 9, a man reported that his car window was broken and a book bag was stolen. „„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 9, a woman was arrested and accused of trying to shoplift a pair of UGG gloves from a clothing store. „„4500

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 9, a briefcase containing a Dell laptop and an iPhone were stolen from a vehicle. „„5300 block of Brooke Farm Drive —

On Jan. 10, a man reported the overnight

theft of a bag and a Burberry watch from his unlocked car parked in the driveway. Another man’s GMC Sierra also was broken into, but nothing was taken. „„100 block of Perimeter Center Way —

On Jan. 9, a woman reported the theft of a laptop and an iPad from her car. „„4400 block of Ashford-

Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 9, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of trying to shoplift at a clothing store.

ee said two pair of Oakley`s glasses were missing and he was able to show video of the suspect in the store, putting the glasses in his pocket. The suspect was arrested and accused of both thefts.

damaged iPhone.

„„4500

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, police responded to a report that someone had entered a car.

„„100 block of Perimeter Center — On

„„ 4300 block of Ash-

Jan. 11, in the afternoon, police responded to a domestic dispute call. A person was arrested and accused of charges related to the dispute.

ford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, a man was charged with attempting to steal items from Macy’s.

„„4500 block of Ashford-

Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 9, in the evening, a man reported the theft of his laptop from his car. „„4500

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 9, two people reported the theft of more than $4,000 in cash and goods after several windows were broken to get into their car. „„4700

„„ 4400 block of Ash-

ford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, a person was stopped for shoplifting at a department store and a clothing store. „„4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, security officers at a big-box store reported the theft of a $500 gift card.

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 10, a 19-year-old man was arrested and accused of trying to steal a $4 auxiliary cord from a big-box discount store.

„„4500

„„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 10, a person reported an iPhone was missing.

„„4400

„„4400

„„1000 block of Crown Pointe Parkway

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 10, a man reported the theft of his Dodge Charger, which has since been recovered. However, a laptop, tablet, and pool cue still are missing. „„6700 block of Peachtree Industrial

Boulevard — On Jan. 10, several items were stolen from a vehicle, including a green card, passport and a laptop. „„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 11, two suspects took four pairs of jeans from a clothing store without paying for them. „„500 block of Ashwood Parkway — On

Jan. 11, several electronics, including cellphones and computers, were taken from a car. „„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, a man was apprehended at a department store and accused of trying to steal cologne. He was searched and an officer found two pairs of Oakley sunglasses in the man’s bag. Both pair still had sales stickers. Security officers checked with a nearby sunglass store and found the glasses were stolen earlier the same day. An employ-

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, security officers at a department store stopped the theft of a dress and a wallet. A woman was arrested and accused of the attempted theft. block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, a woman said her cellphone was stolen. — On Jan. 12, police responded to an entering auto call at a restaurant parking lot. „„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, police responded to the theft of a drone. „„4400 block of Chamblee-Dunwoody

Road — On Jan. 12, a man reported that his car had been broken into, and a gun and his wallet containing ID, and credit cards were stolen. „„4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 14, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting.

A S S AU LT „„4600 block of Chamblee-Dunwoody

Road — On Jan. 8, officers responded to a domestic dispute involving a minor. „„1900 block of Peachford Road — On

Jan. 10, officers responded to a domestic dispute involving a minor. „„100 block of Perimeter Center — On

Jan. 10, police responded to a domestic dispute involving a juvenile as well as a

„„100 block of Perimeter Center — On

Jan. 10, a man was charged with simple assault. Jan. 10, police responded to a domestic dispute call. The accused was arrested. „„2900 block of Wintercrest Way — On

„„6600 block of Peachtree Industri-

al Boulevard — On Jan. 12, in the early morning, police responded to a domestic dispute call. „„4100 block of Dunwoody Club Drive

— On Jan. 14, a domestic dispute was reported.

ARRESTS „„1700 block of Mount Vernon Road —

On Jan. 8, a man was arrested and accused of driving while unlicensed and with a suspended registration. „„4500 block of North Shallowford Road

— On Jan. 9, a woman was arrested and accused of a window tint violation, as well as driving with a suspended license and speeding. „„100 block of Perimeter Center Way —

On Jan. 9, police arrested a woman and accused her of driving with a suspended license and a defective turn signal. „„4500 block of N. Peachtree Road — On

Jan. 10, a man was arrested and accused of failing to obey traffic control devices. „„100 block of Perimeter Center — On

Jan. 10, a woman was arrested and accused of driving with a suspended license. „„I-285/ Chamblee-Dunwoody Road —

On Jan. 10, a man was arrested and accused of reckless driving. „„2800 block of Lake Ridge Lane — On

Jan. 12, an 18-year-old man was arrested and accused of marijuana possession and disorderly conduct after police received a narcotics violation call. „„Perimeter Center — On Jan. 13, a man

was arrested and accused of soliciting without a permit. „„I-285 EB/ Ashford-Dunwoody Road —

On Jan. 14, a man was arrested and accused of driving under the influence. „„Ashford-Dunwoody Road/ Hammond

Drive — On Jan. 14, in the early morning, a woman was arrested and accused

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JAN. 20 - FEB. 2, 2017

Public Safety | 23

www.ReporterNewspapers.net

of driving on the wrong side of the road.

an in her 50s.

„„I-285 WB/ Peachtree Road — On Jan.

„„1200 block of Madison Drive — On

14, a woman was arrested and accused of driving with an expired tag.

Jan. 11, a person filed a report for fraud regarding a worthless check.

„„300 block of Perimeter Center — On

„„6700 block of Peachtree Industrial

Jan. 14, two men were arrested and accused of credit fraud.

Boulevard — On Jan. 10, a person was accused of sending a threatening text message to the victim.

OT H E R I N C I D E N T S „„5300 block of Tilly Mill Road — On

Jan. 9, around 11 a.m., a bomb threat was reported at the Marcus Jewish Community Center. The suspect is a white wom-

„„4600 block of N. Shallowford Road

— On Jan. 11, police stopped a suspicious vehicle and two individuals were accused of criminally trespassing and smoking a small amount of marijuana.

M O R E THAN 50 AR RES T ED IN S EX TR A FFI C KI NG S TI NG Dunwoody Police have broken up a commercial sex trafficking ring that resulted in the arrests of more than 50 people charged with felonies ranging from pimping to prostitution to sex trafficking. In 2016, the police department received a tip of sex trafficking in Dunwoody which led to a months-long investigation and the identification of two clubs, Atlanta Gold Club and Lipstick and Shoes, according to Dunwoody Police. Multiple arrests of members of these clubs have been made. One of the clubs was operating out an an apartment complex across the street from City Hall where the police department is also located. The other club was operating out of a second Dunwoody apartment complex, police said. Numerous metro Atlanta agencies were involved in the investigation and arrests.

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 vehi-

DUN

cle 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 during 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.



FILE PHOTOS

Top: 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.


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