February 2019 - Brookhaven Reporter

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FEBRUARY 2019 • VOL. 11 — NO. 2

Brookhaven Reporter

Perimeter Business

Mall parking lots become prime real estate



Bus transit would work on I-285, consultants predict


City seeks traffic fix on N. Druid Hills P4 ROBIN’S NEST

Dad jokes? They just don’t age well P15 AROUND TOWN


From Y soccer fields to the World Cup P16

Reporter Extra Podcast & Live Stream


Buses similar to this one in Nevada are being recommended for use in bus rapid transit system on I-285.


HEAR OUR PODCASTS Interviews with newsmakers and community news updates IN FEBRUARY ► Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst ► Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell


City sells $38.8M in bonds for park upgrades BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

► Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul ► Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal Go to ReporterNewspapers.net or ‘like’ our Facebook Page for our next podcasts

The city on Jan. 22 sold $38,855,000 in bonds to fund parks upgrades – a bit less than the $40 million maximum approved by voters last year. And a citizens oversight committee was named the same day to review the spending on new and improved green space, including what improvements

are made and when. Securing the money “really kicks off the program, and we’ll be tearing down the road the next few years getting parks built,” Assistant City Manager Steve Chapman told the City Council. City officials said a favorable overall interest rate of 3.41 percent allowed them to Continued on page 17

A new bus system running along the planned I-285 toll lanes is the most feasible solution to provide east and west connectivity in the area, transportation consultants working with several cities along the interstate said in a report at the Sandy Springs City Council Jan. 22 retreat. The study was the result of meetings initiated in 2017 by Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst with other top end mayors from Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Chamblee, Doraville, Smyrna and Tucker as well as Perimeter Community Improvement Districts and the Cumberland Community Improvement Districts, which all helped fund it. The effort looks at how to incorporate transit in the Georgia Department of Transportation’s toll lanes project and provide transit running east and west. A bus rapid transit system is already in the works on the Ga. 400 piece of the toll lanes project after receiving $100 million in funding from former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018. In a separate presentation by MARTA at the retreat, the transit agency said it expects to modify the North Springs MARTA Station to add a bus rapid transit platform either at-grade or elevated. At-grade would be estimated to cost $90 million and elevated $125 million. The consultants on the I-285 transit study haven’t fully finished their work, but See BUS on page 19


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2 | Community

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Community Briefs 28 H OM ES PR O P OSED O N CH A M BL EE- D U N WOODY R OA D

A developer is asking the city to rezone 3876 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road to make way for an infill development of 28 townhomes, or “bungalow-style” homes, that will include a central courtyard area. A church is currently on the approximate 5-acre parcel. The project goes to the Planning Commission on Feb. 6 and is slated to go to the City Council on Feb. 26. The property is currently zoned RS-100 which allows detached single-family homes on 15,000 square foot lots. The developer is seeking to rezone the site to RSA-8, which permits single-family attached and detached residences at 8 units per acre. Planners and Engineers Collaborative Inc. of Peachtree Corners wants to tear down the church, owned by Metro Atlanta Iglesia Dios, and build 28 detached residents described as “unique bungalow-style homes that share a large, internally-accessed, landscaped courtyard,” according to a letter of intent on file with the city. Each home would be two stories and have a two-car garage.


The City Council has approved a contract with Georgia Power to provide lighting services for the first phase of the Peachtree Creek Greenway. The cost of the agreement includes a $289,750 up front charge. Once installed and operational, Georgia Power will charge the city $1,705.92 monthly to maintain and CITY OF BROOKHAVEN power the system. Funds to An illustration shows the Peachtree Creek cover this is included in the Greenway bridge lit up at night. The bridge will Greenway’s budget, according cross Peachtree Creek behind Corporate Square. to city officials. Georgia Power has been contracted to provide lighting for the first phase of the Greenway. The lights will include 87 LED post top lights and nine 230-watt LED area lights. Georgia Power will start delivering conduit to the construction site of the first phase of the Greenway in February. Lighting is slated to be installed in August. The first phase of the Greenway stretches between North Druid Hills Road and Briarwood Road.

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The infill development only has frontage on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, creating a long-shaped piece of property. A park area in the front of the site would be open to the community, according the developer. The target buyers are those wanting to downsize and live in a “more pedestrian-oriented development where the courtyard is large and right out the front door,” according to the developer. The property is also about two miles from the Chamblee MARTA Station.


The City Council has approved a resolution to make changes to its city charter that first must be approved by the General Assembly, including allowing the mayor to serve three terms instead of two and changing the process for approving the mayor and council’s expense accounts. The proposed changes would permit the mayor to serve three terms, rather than the two terms currently allowed in the city’s charter. Each term is for four years. Mayor John Ernst, who is seeking his second term in the city’s November election, is eligible for the three terms. Some council members in December balked at allowing Ernst to be eligible for another term because the charter change is being proposed during his term. But the vote to allow it was unanimous. BK


Community | 3


The mayor and City Council members are paid annual salaries as allowed in the charter, $16,000 for the mayor and $12,000 for council members. The charter also currently allows the mayor to have an annual expense account of $5,000 and the council members to have a $3,000 expense account. A proposed change to the charter would eliminate a specific amount for expense accounts and instead set the expense account amounts as part of the city’s budget process. No specific amount is tied to the proposed charter change. The General Assembly must approve city charter changes that affect the city’s election process and payment to the city’s elected officials.


The Brookhaven City Council will hold its annual retreat to discuss items and priorities for 2019 on Feb. 16 at 8 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina, 4000 Summit Blvd. NE. The meeting is open to the public. An agenda for the meeting was not available by press time.


The city’s Development Department will host a series of public meetings for the five-year Comprehensive Plan update as required by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The meetings will all take place at City Hall, 4362 Peachtree Road. Times and dates:


A controversial plan to build a large daycare center in Brookhaven’s Ashford Park neighborhood has been scrapped. Foundation Academy had sought to build a two-story, 14,000-square-foot daycare center at Clairmont Road and Bragg Street, a plan that required rezoning. After neighborhood and city Planning Commission opposition, a Foundation Academy SPECIAL requested City Council permisAn illustration of Foundation Academy’s sion Jan. 22 to withdraw the plan proposed daycare center on Clairmont Road as shown in city rezoning application “just to be able to reassess our files. The plan was withdrawn. options.” The council approved the request, essentially sending Foundation Academy back to the traffic effects, and the Planning Comdrawing board. mission on Jan. 9 recommended denial. A large number of residents had opAlong the way, one resident called the posed the plan for its size and possible plan an “800-pound gorilla in a chicken

► Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 5 p.m.: Steering Committee meeting, made up of members of the Planning Commission; ► Thursday, March 28 at 6 p.m.: Community involvement meeting; ► Thursday, April 25 at 6 p.m.: Community involvement meeting. The City Council adopted the Comprehensive Plan 2034 in 2014 and the Character Area Study Supplement in 2017. The Comprehensive Plan documents the long-term vision for the city.

coop,” and Planning Commission chair Stan Segal called the project’s scale a “self-inflicted wound.”

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Retired U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. Richard Dix, a former Lynwood Park resident, gave the keynote speech.



The city of Brookhaven hosted its annual MLK Day Dinner and Celebration on Jan. 21 to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event was held at the Lynwood Park Recreation Center, the former school for the Lynwood Park community. The school was open for decades but closed in 1968 when students were integrated into the DeKalb County School System. The Lynwood students are now known as the “Lynwood Trailblazers.” Former Lynwood Park resident U.S. Army Brigadier General Richard Dix gave the keynote speech, urging people to “stay true to the principles that Dr. King stood for.” “Love will conquer hate if we stay the course,” he said. The event included a dinner and live entertainment. BK


4 | Community

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City looking to traffic fixes for North Druid Hills Road BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Major changes are being proposed to key intersections along North Druid Hills Road, including building a roundabout at East Roxboro Road, as Brookhaven leaders seek ways to alleviate the notorious traffic congestion between Peachtree Road and Buford Highway. The proposed changes also include sidewalks and multi-use paths along the busy road for pedestrians, cyclists and those using transit as ways to encourage people to move around the area without getting into a car. Gresham Smith, the city consultant hired for the North Druid Hills Corridor Study, unveiled its first round of recommendations to the public at two open houses last month. The City Council is slated to review the recommendations at its Feb. 12 meeting with another round of open houses set for March. Streetscape improvements and other infrastructure for pedestrians, such as more crosswalks and some flashing lights, are proposed for several intersections on North Druid Hills Road. Recommendations also include building a 10-foot-wide multiuse path on the east side of North Druid Hills Road and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the west side of the road. “I like it and am very excited about the

city creating connectivity ... and building for alternative modes of transportation,” said Ronda Fox, a regular traveler of North Druid Hills Road, at an open house last month. “I won’t ride my bike down the road now, but with a 10-foot path I would feel safe.” Perhaps the most significant proposal is to remove the traffic signal at the “V”shaped intersection at East Roxboro Road and North Druid Hills Road. The traffic signal would be replaced with a three-legged roundabout with a landscaped island. Representatives from Gresham Smith said a computer model of the proposed roundabout showed that traffic moved more easily and quickly. The roundabout would also create a “visual cue” to motorists driving from Buford Highway to slow down when approaching North Druid Hills Road. Crosswalks and curb ramps would also be built at the redesigned intersection. Mayor John Ernst said a vote on the study is slated for April. Once a study is approved, the city would then apply for federal and state grants through the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Transportation Improvement Program to complete the improvements. When that money would be available and when construction could start for the improvements between Peachtree Road and Buford Highway is uncertain, but ma-

jor projects are coming online in the next few years that will continue to impact traffic on North Druid Hills Road. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is currently building out it’s approximate 70-acre medical campus at I-85 and North Druid Hills Road including a new $1.3 billion hospital set to open in 2025. Emory University also owns the 60-acre Executive Park, across the street from the CHOA campus, but has not revealed to the public what it plans to build on the site. The Executive Park site is zoned for highdensity development, including up to 12-story office towers, a hotel, parking decks and apartments. City Councilmember Joe Gebbia has said he envisions that area would be built out as smaller version of Sandy Springs’ Pill Hill, a cluster of medical buildings and doctors’ offices near I-285 and Ga. 400. As part of CHOA’s medical campus development, the Georgia Department of Transportation is working with the Federal Highway Administration to redesign the I-85 and North Druid Hills interchange that could happen before the new hospital opens in six years. CHOA representatives say a diverging diamond is the best option to handle the increase in traffic at the already busy interchange, but the final decision will be made by state and federal officials. On top of the CHOA’s campus, construction of a new 2,500-seat Cross Keys High School south of the CHOA campus is slated to begin later this year and open in 2022. All this construction and new development will only worsen the existing traffic nightmare many people living in the area say they deal with now. “If you think it’s bad now, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Mary Novotny, who lives in Lenox Park, said at an open house last month. Proposed intersection improvements Proposed changes to key intersections include adding a northbound turn lane from North Druid Hills road onto Briarwood Road; converting Oglethorpe Avenue to a right-in only entrance; and adding a lane on N. Cliff Valley Way and a lane on Lenox Park Boulevard. Another proposal includes removing the traffic signals at the Goodwin Road in-


A roundabout is proposed at the East Roxboro Road and North Druid Hills Road intersection. Plans also call to close off Goodwin Road to vehicular traffic to keep the area a city-owned green space and add a multiuse path.

tersections with East Roxboro Road and North Druid Hills Road and then closing the short Goodwin Road to vehicular traffic to convert into a city-owned greenspace. Plans would include building a multi-use path along the north side of Goodwin Road ad part of the city’s bike-pedestrian plan. At the Buford Highway intersection, recommendations include adding a left-turn traffic signal to allow motorists to turn left from North Druid Hills Road onto Buford Highway safely due to the hill on North Druid Hills Road. Other recommendations include adding “route shield” markings on North Druid Hills Road to direct motorists to I-85; and prohibiting right turns on red from Buford Highway onto North Druid Hills Road. Mike Runestand, who regularly uses MARTA, said he wished more was proposed to make it easier for pedestrians leaving the Brookhaven-Oglethorpre MARTA station to walk to the nearby Kroger or Starbucks. Instead, pedestrians are being routed down Apple Valley Road. Gresham Smith representatives said their study is focusing only on North Druid Hills Road and not on Peachtree Road. Runestad said he also hopes there are plans to put in shade and trees for those who will use the sidewalks and multiuse paths proposed on both sides of North Druid Hills Road. “But overall, this looks like a good plan,” he added. BK


Perimeter Business | 5


Perimeter Business

Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

Winter 2019 | A fast-food empire rises P6

Mall parking lots become prime real estate for new development

Special An illustration of the Hyatt Place hotel that is being built behind the Twelve24 office tower on a former section of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. The hotel is slated to open next year.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

project on the former Belk’s store site to include a new hotel and restaurant and a 12-story office tower. “What you’re seeing today throughout country ... is the urban coming into the suburban,” said Mark Hunter, CBRE’s lead retail property management professional based in Chicago. CBRE is a commercial real estate and investment firm. “Developers such as Brookfield are trying to densify their sites to make a more urban, town center feel, and not have a sea of parking lot,” he said. “They want to create a more live, work, shop, play environment.” Even Walmart, known for buying up large tracts land on the outskirts of a city to build their super centers, is looking to redevelop portions of their large parking

As high-density developments continue to make inroads in the once sparse suburbs of north Atlanta, property owners are finding a new area ripe for redevelopment – large, expansive parking lots. Mall owners in Dunwoody and Buckhead are already monetizing their sites and their parking lots with the additions of hotel and office towers, but the future could include residential as well. Perimeter Mall’s owners, Brookfield Properties, got the green light from the city of Dunwoody last month to build two restaurants on nearly three acres of a far corner of their massive parking lot on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in the heart of Perimeter Center. Construction is slated to begin this year. Two years ago, Trammell Crow purchased nearly four acres of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot from the mall’s former owner, General Growth Properties, and is now building a 16-story office tower and 10-story hotel on the site adjacent to the Dunwoody MARTA station. At Phipps Plaza, owner Simon Property Special Group, while not selling Two restaurants are slated to be built at the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Perimeter Center West, off any of its parking lot, a former section of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. is instead building a new

lots into “town centers” that are intended to bring people together not only to shop but to play in green spaces or even go bowling. Walmart officials made the town centers announcement last year at a retail conference in Atlanta. Parking lots at stores in Colorado, Texas and Washington are already being redeveloped to include a centralized plaza surrounded by off-site retail, like restaurants and coffee shops, on land once set aside to park hundreds of cars. Dunwoody Economic Development Director Michael Starling said he was not aware of any plans to create a “town center” at Perimeter Center’s Walmart on Ashford-Dunwoody Road. Their parking lot is shared with several other retailers, he said, and the current Walmart town centers are being built at standalone stores. But as mall owners and other property owners see their parking lots sit large-

ly unused, like at Perimeter Center, there is a push to “maximize their footprint,” Starling said. Selling off chunks of mostly unused parking lots is not a new trend, though. Hunter said it has been common practice for mall developers to buy dozens of acres of land and then sell off peripheral pieces to a business like a fast-food restaurant to help pay for construction and renovation of the mall itself. Today’s mall owners are building more and more of what Hunter calls “food and beverage pads” in parking lots to stake out off-site places for restaurants and cafes, for example. Entertainment is also trending upward, he said, and hotels continue to be valuable commodities. Office demand is high in Buckhead and Simon Properties’ decision to build an office building at its mall makes sense, Hunter said. The market also creContinued on page 9

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A Sandy Springs company aims to build a fast-food empire BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

A Sandy Springs-based company that began as the Arby’s restaurant chain is creating a fast-food empire, buying up other familiar brands and filling up a new headquarters. Inspire Brands takes on reviving dying restaurants through complete interior refreshes, menu changes and bringing humor to the businesses’ social media, such as Arby’s popular jokes with celebrities, the CEO said at a Jan. 24 luncheon held by the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce. The company was formed in early 2018 after Arby’s purchased Buffalo Wild Wings and the regional chain Rusty Taco, and more recently acquired Sonic. Arby’s has been headquartered in Sandy Springs at 1155 Perimeter Center West, and is expanding into Three Glenlake Parkway, about a mile west of its current home, to hold all of the companies. The company received over $1.1 million in tax incentives from the state and city for the move and expansion. “We are very proud to call Sandy



Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown gives the keynote speech at the Jan. 24 Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon.

Springs home,” said Paul Brown, who has served as CEO since 2013, when the company was just Arby’s. “We’re lucky to have this great corporate headquarters in our community,” Chip Collins, the outgoing chamber

An illustration shows what the Inspire Brands logo is planned to look like on the company’s new building at Three Glenlake Parkway.

chair, said before handing over the gavel to the next leader, Karen Trylovich. The company plans to move in March into the new building, which is across the street from the MercedesBenz USA headquarters. The building

is being renovated, including installing one of the world’s largest test kitchens, Brown said. “We are obviously thinking we are going to continue to grow,” Brown said. “We have the building now. We’ve got to


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Perimeter Business | 7



An illustration shows the plan for the interior of Inspire Brands’ new building at Three Glenlake Parkway.

tweet joked about singer Pharrell’s hat being reminiscent of the restaurant’s logo and became one of the mostshared tweets of all time, Brown said. “I think social media is one of the biggest unlocks,” he said. The restaurant has also tried to be “like a friend,” including through embracing comedian Jon Stewart’s frequent jabs about Arby’s, even running an ad as a farewell when he left The Daily Show in 2015, Brown said. Inspire’s plan for Buffalo Wild Wings is a new menu, interior renovations, plating, building design and employee uniforms that will start coming out in March, Brown said. Now the company is thinking about how turn around Sonic. Brown expects those changes in the next year or two, he said. One change that they’re not sure about is bringing back roller-skating employees, Brown said, answering an audience question. “There are logistical and human resource challenges, and our general counsel goes back and forth on how much he likes that,” Brown joked. “The fun aspect that it represents is certainly something we’d want to embrace more than it has been recently.” Another change not currently on the table is expanding healthy options significantly, Brown said, responding to a question from the audience. While non-fried sides have been discussed and healthier sandwiches have been rolled out at Arby’s, healthy options aren’t what typically brings customers to the restaurants, Brown said. “The challenge in that space is that people say they want something and do something else,” he said.

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buy companies to fill it up.” “We’ve been very clear. We’re not going to stop with Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic,” he said. And those acquisitions are expected to bring more jobs, he said. The company currently has 750 people based at the headquarters, up from 400 a year ago, he said. “Hopefully, that will let us bring more people to our headquarters in Sandy Springs over time,” he said. Inspire has started to specialize in reviving dying brands after its success with Arby’s. “There will be moments in time where we take a brand or a company that needs to be turned around,” he said. “That was Arby’s six years ago, it’s actually Buffalo Wild Wings today, where we have to come in and rethink it.” Arby’s struggled during the 2008 recession and during a merger with Wendy’s, which “wasn’t tremendously successful, to say the least,” but it has since turned around, now seeing increases in sales and expanding, Brown said. That turnaround strategy includes finding what is unique about the brands, Brown said. “We really want to be seen as thinking about things differently,” he said. For Arby’s, that meant selling itself as offering “fast-crafted” fare, since Arby’s doesn’t see itself as offering fast food or as “fast-casual” fare, which typically costs more, Brown said. or Buffalo Wild Wings, Inspire Brands plans to launch a new ad campaign centered on creating memories at the restaurants, Brown said. Changing Arby’s social media strategy has been key in turning the company around, Brown said. One famous

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Perimeter Business | 9


Mall parking lots become prime real estate for new development Continued from page 5 ates a high daytime population of workers wanting a place to grab lunch or have a cocktail with friends at the end of the day. Phipps Plaza and its tenants provide all of these, and a new office building feeds those existing businesses. The developments at Perimeter Mall and Phipps Plaza continue to be some of the best ways to densify an area such as an expansive parking lots, Hunter said. The trend to watch out for, he added, is the addition of residential to the mix to truly create the live, work, shop, play environment that the real estate market is trending toward. In Atlanta, millennials opt not to live in the suburbs initially and prefer the intown experience, he said. But as they get married and have kids, some will move back to the suburbs for their children’s education. As that continues to happen, mall owners could see a desire for more residential living where there already exists a shop, work and play development. In the San Francisco Bay Area last year, for example, mixed-use residential communities were planned at shopping malls in Richmond, Newark, Fremont and Daly City, according to the San Francisco Business Times. The Newark City Council last year approved Brookfield Properties, owner of the NewPark

Mall and the owner of Perimeter Mall, to build 1,800 residential units in parking lots surrounding the 1.1 million square foot mall. “There will still be the retail core within some malls ... but as you see the evolution of work, play, shop and live, there will be a move to integrate all four cate-

gories,” Hunter said. “Those that do it will be very successful.” The moves by malls and places like Walmart to create new spaces is because there is essentially too much retail space in the U.S. per capita, Hunter said. Building in parking lots is part of “right-sizing the footprint.”

“Most of these locations, and Perimeter Mall is a very good example ... they’re taking advantage of the changing demographics and shopper needs to stay ahead. The whole shop, work, live, play environment is so important to today’s customers,” he said.

Phil Mosier Construction crews work on the parking deck portion of the Twelve24 office tower in Dunwoody. The 16-story office tower is being built on what was once a part of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. The office tower is slated to open in 2020.


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10 | Art & Entertainment

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A master of illusions on his life of working wonders BY JUDITH SCHONBAK On a small notepad, illusionist Vitaly Beckman draws a leaf. With a simple motion, he slides his hand down the page and the leaf turns green and comes to life. Literally. He lifts it off the page and hands it to an audience member. He can also make your driver’s license picture disappear (don’t we all wish that could happen) and make it appear on someone else’s. He makes pictures in a photo album move; brings a winter-bare tree spring into life with leaves, which he throws into the audience. He teleports and levitates objects, including a paintbrush that paints by itself. Vitaly, who performs under his first name, is hailed as a master of illusion by critics and audiences alike around the world. He designs and invents every one of his illusions. At 31, he is among the youngest well-known illusionists, and is making a name for himself, including performances on Broadway. He makes his first performances in Atlanta on Feb. 9 and 10 at the Marcus Jewish Community Center Atlanta in Dunwoody. Born in Belarus, his family emigrated to Israel, where he grew up in Haifa. The magic bug bit him at

an early age and he was performing at age 14. His parents urged him to pursue an education that would result in a realworld job, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering . He left that field, however, after only a few years to pursue his passion for magic and illusion. The Reporter caught up with Vitaly from his home in Vancouver between stops on his “Evening of Wonders” tour. Q: What took you from Israel to Canada? A: I wanted to live in North America and my brother lived in Vancouver. There

seemed to be so many possibilities and venues to perform in Canada and the United States. My big dream was to make it to Broadway. Q: When did you first get interested in magic and illusion? A: I played around with card tricks when I was 8 or so, but from a very early age, I drew and painted. I always had a small notepad with me and would draw whatever caught my eye. In fact, my parents thought I would be a painter. When I was 8, they gave me a magic kit. It intrigued me, but mostly I pursued art. I love all the arts: visual, music, theater, everything. Q: It seems the seed had been planted. When did you get serious about magic? A: I saw David Copperfield on TV several times and was so amazed at what he could do. So, I started practicing, figuring things out as I went along. I started performing for family, friends when I was 14. Q: Did you have a friend or mentor who helped you? A: No. And there was no internet or YouTube. I did it by trial and error. It’s a long way to learn. I invented my own method. It opened my creativity. I never did or do anything by the book. For me, magic is an artform and it brings art to life. Q: How do you come up with a con-

stant stream of material? A: The trick is to never stop thinking. I think about new illusions all the time: at a movie, in the shower, walking – anytime and anywhere. I think about it, too, while I am performing. Q: You always involve your audience members, often oneon-one. Why do you make that part of your performances? A: I love the audiences. On stage, I feel that I bring art to life in that moment with the audience. I want to encourage and rebuild their childhood sense of wonder and bridge the gap between dreams and reality. In a way, I want to show them that there are no limitations to their dreams or imaginations. I love that magic brings joy to people. Q: Did your education as a mechanical engineer help you devise your illusions? A: In one sense it did. The most important thing it taught me was how to think well. Q: There is a code of honor among magicians that they do not reveal to non-magicians how the magic is done. Do you follow that code? A: I do. The real reason for it is that it preserves the enjoyment and sense of won-


Art & Entertainment | 11


der for audiences. Magic of various kinds has been around since ancient days. Q: Your journey took you to the superstar magicians’ Penn & Teller show “Fool Us” in the summer of 2016. You succeeded in fooling them. Were you surprised? A: I thought I had a chance, but, yes, I was surprised. I won the “Fool Us” trophy and a spot in their Las Vegas show in the fall of 2016. It’s been great exposure for my career. Q: You said you dreamed of taking your illusions to Broadway, and you made it. Tell us about that experience. A: In 2018, I performed in the Off-Broadway Westside Theatre, the same one where Penn & Teller launched their career in the 1980s. The show ran from

mid-June to the end of September. It was a dream come true. It was an honor and a privilege. I had heard that it takes a lot to astonish New Yorkers, but the audiences were amazing. Q: Do you have favorite illusions that you perform? A: I have several, but making people’s photo disappear from their driver’s license and reappear on someone else’s is fun and I enjoy how it amazes them.

Vitaly: An Evening of Wonders Marcus Jewish Community Center Atlanta Feb. 9, 8 p.m. (Sold out) and Feb. 10, 5 p.m. Info: eveningofwonders.com or mjcca.org

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12 | Art & Entertainment

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Jewish Film Festival panel to discuss the alt-right’s ‘Age of Rage’ BY DOUG CARROLL Radical involvement in the alt-right was all wrong for Shannon Martinez, who now works to help others leave the deadend road she was on 30 years ago. Sexually assaulted by two men at age 14, Martinez says she “took all the unprocessed trauma and shoved it down,” looking for acceptance in the neo-Nazi, skinhead subculture — and looking to inflict her pain on others. “They’re Nazis, they have to take me in,” she says she reasoned at the time. The price of admission was to overtly espouse an ideology of hatred, and she willingly paid it for nearly five years. “I was consumed with rage and self-hatred,” said Martinez, now program manager for the Free Radicals Project and using the hard lessons she learned to redirect those who have turned to violencebased extremism. “Because I’ve been there, I can listen to the stories behind the stories without judgment,” she says. Martinez, 44, a mother of seven who lives in Athens, is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion following screenings of “Alt-Right: Age of Rage,” a documentary film that is part of this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. A local showing of “AltRight” is scheduled for Feb. 18 at Regal Perimeter Pointe in Sandy Springs; it also screens Feb. 7 at the Regal Atlantic Station. The 106-minute film tells the story of the alt-right through two of its most prominent provocateurs, Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor. It also includes the perspectives of anti-fascist militant Daryle Lamont Jenkins and scholar Mark Potok. Potok, who is scheduled to be part of the panel discussion, says the term “altright” represents “a rebranding of white supremacy for public relations purposes.” He says social media have revolutionized how such groups come to light and are covered. When traditional print and TV media ignored such groups 50 years ago, Potok says, the strategy was largely effective. But that doesn’t work in the Facebook and Twitter age, he says. “There are thousands of outlets that will pay attention,” said Potok, 63, who lives in Montgomery, Ala., and is a senior fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. He was with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent civil rights advocacy organization, for 20 years. “Educating people about these groups is the real inoculation,” Potok said. “The idea is to expose the truth and tell facts about their leaders that they don’t want known. You give them some coverage, but you point out what these groups really are.” Martinez, who has spoken at the United Nations on extremism, says that individuals who become intensely involved

want more than this?’ For me, there was only the present, and she connected me to the resources to put other things in play.” The process of disconnecting from the subculture, Martinez said, was a “slow undoing” that included college studies in New Mexico and still involves making amends to those she hurt. “This lifestyle is like an abusive relationship and the feeling that you can’t leave,” Martinez said. “There’s a doubling down, because you have the feeling that no one will want you after this.” Potok says he sees similarities between the current rise of the alt-right with the social and cultural environment of the 1920s. “That was a time of huge change,” he says, “and it was challenging to those who weren’t comfortable with things changing so fast. It was a battle between a new and old America, and it was a time when the country flirted with fascism. The Ku Klux Klan had its largest membership in 1925 with 4 million members. “We’re living in a similar time now, with big changes related to globalization. There are lots of changes, and lots of people who resent them.” David Lewis, a former CNN reporter who has covered stories pertaining to the alt-right, is scheduled to moderate the panel discussion. He agrees with Potok that changes in the media landscape have contributed to the rise of such movements. “With the bullhorn of the internet, ideas can build a following through the digital world,” Lewis says. “This used to be very covert and hidden, and that’s different now. There was no Richard Spencer figure 20 years ago.” Potok notes that Dylann Roof, who carried out the church massacre in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 that claimed the lives of nine African American attendees at a Bible study, never had any contact with white-supremacy groups — even though he claimed the ideology as his own. “He took it all from the internet,” Potok says. Mark Potok, an expert in far-right extremism.

in the subculture usually have things in common. “These are people who really struggle with belonging and identity,” she said. “They want to feel that their life has meaning. About 90 percent have some sort of trauma piece to it, whether that is parental conflict, drug abuse or physical abuse. We need to do a better job of looking at undesirable behavior and approaching it from a trauma-informed perspective.”


Shannon Martizen, a former radical white supremacist who will speak at Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings of “Alt-Right: Age of Rage.”

She says her turnaround began when, while on the outs with her parents, she was taken in by the mother of an Army serviceman she was dating. The woman encouraged her to see beyond self-destruction. “She extended sympathy and compassion and took a chance on me when I did not feel deserving,” Martinez said. “She dreamed dreams for me. She never argued with me, but she would ask, ‘Don’t you just

“Alt-Right: Age of Rage” Feb. 18, 7 p.m. Regal Perimeter Pointe 1155 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs Part of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Feb. 6-26 Tickets and info: ajff.org


Community | 13


Mayor, two councilmembers to run for re-election this year BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

The mayor and two city councilmembers aim to stay in office another four years, saying they’ll run in an election scheduled for Nov. 5. Incumbents Mayor John Ernst, District 1 Councilmember Linley Jones and District 3 Councilmember Bates Mattison all say they intend to run again for four-year terms. “Yes, I’m running again,” said Ernst, whose first term began in 2016. “We’re providing results.” “Everything that I’ve asked for in my previous election, I’ve completed … We’re a highly efficient government right now,” Ernst added, noting the city’s major public projects on the way, such as the Peachtree Greenway trail and revamped parks. “I don’t know of another city that’s building as aggressively as we are,” he said. “Absolutely, I’m going to run again,” said Jones, who has served District 1 since 2015. “We have so many terrific plans I want to see to fruition.” District 1 includes the northern half of the city, roughly between Windsor Parkway and I-285. Mattison, who has served on the council since its inception in 2012, also cited the many big projects as reasons he will run for reelection in District 3, which roughly includes the east-central part of the city centered on Brookhaven Park. “I love what I do,” Mattison said, adding that the work takes a lot of personal time, but “I’ve learned the value of experience” and is looking forward to carrying out such long-planned efforts as the Greenway. The officials confirmed their From top, John Ernst, Linley Jones, Bates Mattison reelection plans in interviews after a Jan. 22 meeting where the council set the candidate qualifying period and fees for the offices. The qualifying period will run Aug. 21-23 at the City Clerk’s office. The qualifying fees – a payment essentially intended to show a candidate’s seriousness – is set at 3 percent of the office’s gross salary. For mayor, the salary is $16,000 and the qualifying fee is $480. For the council seats, the salary is $12,000 and the qualifying fee is $360. Brookhaven elects a mayor every four years, and its four councilmembers on staggered four-year terms. The other council incumbents – John Park in District 2 and Joe Gebbia in District 4 – were reelected in 2017.

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14 | Commentary

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Community Survey: LGBTQ laws and religious freedom bills A new LGBTQ antidiscrimination law coming out of Doraville should be copied by other cities, while new religious freedom laws should not emerge from the Gold Dome. Those were takeaways from a majority of the 200 local residents in a Reporter/1Q. com survey about the ongoing debate of LGBTQ rights and religious liberty. The survey was conducted by 1Q.com via cellphones used by residents of Reporter Newspapers communities. The results are not scientific. Of the 200 survey respondents, 69 percent said other cities should have an antidiscrimination law like Doraville’s, with 18 percent saying no; another 13 percent were unsure. “It is ridiculous that in 2019 in the U.S. we need to pass laws such as this, but racism, sexism, homophobia and other diseases of the radical right wing are stronger than ever,” said a 53-yearold Brookhaven man in one response. As for religious freedom laws, which come in a wide variety of proposed forms, 52.5 percent opposed the idea, 20 percent were in favor, and a significant amount – 27.5 percent – said they were uncertain or did not express a direct preference. “We have a country with separation of church and state. Religion is already protected under the Constitution,” said a 47-year-old Atlanta man who opposes such laws. The General Assembly is expected this session to once again take up some form of religious freedom legislation, which has roiled the legislature for several years. Such laws broadly seek to impose stronger limits on the state’s ability to regulate private religious practices, and have drawn controversy for possibly enabling discrimination, particularly against LGBTQ people In 2016, amid strong opposition from Atlanta’s corporate community, then Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed one bill that would have permitted religious organizations to

discriminate in employment and the providing of charitable services. New Gov. Brian Kemp has pledged to pass a religious freedom law that he says would mirror an existing federal version that is presented as less controversial. Meanwhile, Doraville recently became the second city in Georgia – after Atlanta – to prohibit discrimination in private businesses, including against LGBTQ people. City Councilmember Stephe Koontz, who spearheaded the ordinance, has said its intent is to get other cities to adopt similar protections. Chamblee and Clarkston already are following suit. Brookhaven and Dunwoody say they have no plans for such an anti-discrimination ordinance, and

to prioritize making our state as welcoming and as inclusive as possible to ensure our continued economic growth.” As for religious freedom laws, a 40-yearold Brookhaven woman said “they are an avenue for entities or individuals to discriminate.” Respondents who opposed Doraville’s ordinance largely said they do not believe in discrimination, but that the marketplace should weed out private businesses that do so. Some also questioned whether the law is enforceable or will make any difference in practice. “I think nondiscrimination is something that all people should abide by. However, I don’t think spending time and resources creating a law against discrimination against customers can be justly enforced,” said a 24-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs woman. Many backers of religious freedom laws said that ensuring religious diversity and nondiscrimination is important, of respondents of respondents said and several also cited the private maropposed religious cities should have an ket’s forces. freedom laws anti-discrimination “The government has no business law like Doraville’s choosing one party’s freedom over the freedom of another party,” said a Sandy Springs says it believes it is legally 52-year-old Buckhead man. “Making a prohibited from doing so. business owner contradict his or her reliA common view among the majority of gious beliefs is wrong, particularly when respondents was that antidiscrimination the service is available elsewhere for the laws are needed, while religion is already complaining party.” legally protected, and that religious freeA few respondents opposed both laws dom laws are intended to enable discrimon libertarian grounds. A couple of responination. Several also cited the publicity and dents suggested passing both as a way to economic impacts of the state appearing to ensure everyone’s rights. be backwards on civil rights. “We should allow religious freedom, but “Good for Doraville! Since Georgia’s we cannot sacrifice our duty we have to new governor Brian Kemp has vowed to our fellow citizens to protect their rights,” sign a ‘religious freedom’ bill into law, it’s said a 22-year-old Sandy Springs man. apparently now up to our local commu“If that means we’re discriminating nities to offer protections to minority citiagainst LGBT members [of society], there zens,” a 53-year-old Atlanta man said. “With must be additional laws implementing that a multibillion-dollar film and television insuch discrimination will not occur. Both isdustry and homegrown businesses like sues at hand are addressed in the Bill of Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and Home Depot Rights and it seems like both religious freeall employing a diverse workforce, we need dom and equality can and should coexist.”

69 53 %

Should other cities adopt a nondiscrimination law like Doraville’s?


Should the state pass a religious freedom law?

Yes, absolutely. This shouldn’t even be a question. Discrimination is never OK, not only in the workplace, but anywhere in society. --22-year-old Sandy Springs man

No, freedoms need to be protected for every U.S. citizen! --46-year-old Sandy Springs woman

Yes!!! Besides it being the right thing to do in a country that prides itself on the freedom it offers, making these sorts of moves will help businesses outside the South look at the Atlanta area as more forward-thinking than the rest of the state. --38-year-old Atlanta woman

I don’t think any group should be able to [discriminate], but I don’t believe religious institutions should be forced to make change. --51-year-old Sandy Springs man

While I don’t agree with discrimination and personally don’t understand why businesses would turn away customers, I do not believe that additional laws are necessary. If someone does not want my business I am not going to force them to take my money! --55-year-old Atlanta woman

No, there should not be any discrimination and I am 100 percent against this law because I am an atheist. --19-year-old Dunwoody man These laws reflect poorly on Georgia, drive away economic investments, and reflect a discriminatory animus. --34-year-old Atlanta man

Yes, because I’m not a bigot. --21-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs man



Commentary | 15


Chin Chin

Dad jokes do not leave us all laughing Last month was a joyful one in my household as kids trickled in and out for visits during their winter breaks. It was only marred by one thing. Not laundry. Not empty gas tanks. Not crushed cans and crumpled napkins strewn around the den. No, it was marred by dad jokes. Since my husband’s audience has moved out of the house in pursuit of higher education and left him alone with his corny jokes and unappreciative wife, the constant volleying of dad jokes has practically ceased. This has turned out to be (for me) an unexpected perk of the Empty Nest. But as soon as my youngest entered the door in late December, it began again. My son stood in the kitchen with his backpack still strapped on, dropped his laundry bag and announced, “Hey! I’m home!” And my husband immediately replied, “No you’re not, you’re Michael!” Do you get it? Then welcome to my world. For the rest of the break, each time we got in the car and someone asked where we were going, my husband would respond with, “Crazy!” Road trips digressed from there. We might pass a sign that said “Roadwork Ahead,” giving my spouse the golden opportunity to announce, “I sure hope it does!” These are the sort of jokes that only half of the car appreRobin Conte lives with ciates. These are not just bad jokes, these are groan-inducher husband in an emping jokes. ty nest in Dunwoody. Since the household’s humor scale had once again tipped in my husband’s favor while I was left standing in the kitchen rolling my eyes, I decided to investigate a bit to find out what exactly makes a joke a “dad joke.” I consulted the internet, naturally, and found that on the World Wide Web, dogs are the one delivering the lame jokes. So, the competition is fierce. But when I consulted my kids –who, after all, were the ones tipping our humor scale — they insisted that a dog telling puns does not a dad joke make. You can’t simply tell a dad joke, they informed me, for this type of humor is very contextual. You must be a master of cleverness and creativity in order to deliver a proper dad joke; you must be alert and agile enough to pounce when someone says, “I really like this cake,” and immediately respond with, “I was talking to this cake the other day, and it really likes you, too!” Or, if someone suggests that you should have a standing reservation at a certain restaurant, you can nimbly observe, “Hey! I’m standing right now!” Moms are certainly capable of delivering dad jokes, which I know first-hand, because my most nagging childhood memory is that every time anyone in my household asked, “Can you make me a sandwich?” my mother replied, “Poof! You’re a sandwich!” These quips are somewhat punny and somewhat silly -- they are the type of retort that a “Feel like some eggs?” straight-line begs in reply. They are perfectly suited for 5-year-olds and prepubescent boys (who are, let’s face it, future daddies-in-training). I used to think I was alone in my misery until one of my kids told a story of a friend who was having dinner with his family. The boy’s mother observed that he was sounding a little hoarse, at which point his father stood up and neighed. My favorite part of this story is that they were all in a restaurant at the time. I’ve droned on long enough with this missive and I’m going to wrap this up. Besides, right now I feel like some lunch.

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16 | Commentary

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Local player goes from Brookhaven’s soccer fields to the Women’s World Cup

Around Town

BY JOE EARLE Joeearle@reporternewspaper.com

Giselle Washington can’t remember a time in her life without soccer. The soft-spoken 17-year-old said she’s been playing the game since she “was about 3.” She’s tried other sports, but always came back to soccer. She felt a special connection to the game. “I love it,” Giselle said as she sat in her Brookhaven home one recent afternoon. “I just like everything about it. Honestly. I love team sports, just competing …” She paused for beat. “… and winning.” She learned her sport playing on Y teams and while working her way up through the ranks of Concorde Fire soccer teams. Her work paid off. Come summer, the longlimbed midfielder is scheduled to head to France to compete on a team battling for the Women’s World Cup. She’ll be playing on the Reggae Girlz, the women’s team from Jamaica, the country where her mother was born. Giselle, whose teammates call her “Gi,” was born and grew up in DeKalb County and has passports from both the U.S. and Jamaica. She’s one of the youngest players on the Jamaican team, which is set next summer to make its first appearance in the World Cup. “I’m so excited,” she said after returning in January from a week-long practice camp in Montego Bay, Jamaica. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. It is crazy. I’m going to be in [the World Cup tournament] playing along with my idols.” Her coach on the elite team at Concorde Fire voices little surprise that his midfielder will be competing for a national team at the highest levels of her sport. James Harris said he’s coached Giselle for years. “She’s very good. She’s special,” he said. “She’s very calm… makes the right decisions. She reads the game very well.” Off the field, “she is wise and mature beyond her age,” he said. “Her leadership qualities on and off the field – you couldn’t anyone who ever would say a negative thing about her… She’s pretty remarkable – very quiet, calm. She just shows up and does her job.” While she’s competed for a slot on the Jamaican team, her Concorde Fire teammates have been cheering her on, Harris said. They followed her progress on social media, he said, and, at one point, streamed her game to watch it on the sidelines during their practice. Giselle is among about a dozen U.S. players listed on a recent 31-member Jamai-

Joe Earle is editor-at-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@reporternewspapers.net

can team roster. She said she was introduced to Jamaican soccer at age 14. A coach saw her playing in a U.S. tournament and, after discovering her family background, invited her to try out for the Jamaican program. She’s been taking part in soccer camps and competitions in the Caribbean since, she said. Playing there while keeping up with her Concorde Fire games and practices and her schoolwork proved difficult at times. “At one point, it was crazy,” said her mom, Sherrene Washington. “I told her I should be her agent, the schedule was so crazy.” Now it’s all good. “It’s exciting, unbelievable,” Sherrene Washington said. “We just so appreciative. We just never thought it would esJOE EARLE calate to this level.” Gisselle Washington. As a Reggae Girl, Giselle is getting to know her mother’s home country better. “It’s completely different from here,” she said. “The people are super sweet. The culture, the food is terrific. The general vibe…” The team “is just being energized by the whole culture,” she said. “It’s like a family.” In her own family in Brookhaven, she’s the oldest of four children. All take part in athletics. Her three younger siblings wear number 28, Giselle’s number. After the World Cup, Giselle plans to keep playing. She’s headed to the University of Tennessee next year, she said, and hopes to keep raising her game. After all, she feels that special connection to soccer. “I just find it fun,” she said. “I like watching it, playing it…” And, of course, winning.



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Community | 17


City sells $38.8M in bonds for parks; oversight committee named Continued from page 1 seek less money than expected to complete all of the parks projects promised to voters. “It was a really great deal,” Mayor John Ernst said during the Jan. 22 council meeting. “We’re going to save some money that not taking the entire 40 [million].” That rate means that the city will pay $26,038,735 in interest to bond-holders, according to a presentation Chapman gave to the council. The total debt-service costs to taxpayers as the bonds mature between 2020 and 2049, according to the presentation, will be $64,893,735. That amount is in line with complaints from parks bond opponents last year that the city was advertising a $40 million bond without discussing a true cost that critics estimated at $65 million to $69 million. To pay off the debt, the city will increase property taxes by half a mill. City officials say that increase will be offset by other tax changes. But Ernst has called for some mitigations for seniors and people with disabilities, and said he expects a staff proposal to come before the council in February. City officials say the money will allow them to fast-track park upgrades, which are among the reasons the city was created in 2012. The city already has approved one of the project list items, invasive species removal. “This is a bold, aggressive move,” said City Councilmember Joe Gebbia, adding that the money will help to replace parks funding lost in the elimination of a sales tax. The five-member Parks Bond Citizens

Oversight Committee that will oversee the bond-funded projects was nominated from 15 applicants by Ernst and affirmed by the council. All members are residents of the city, with three of them specifically chosen for technical expertise. According to the city, the members will advise the administration, review internal audits, recommend project phasing, look at designs, and consider “scope reductions or additions based on resources.”

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The members include: James Baugnon, a “developer of large, mixed-use communities” who is said to have “experience with the Trust for Public Land.” Lori Gray, a resident of the city’s southern side. Sean Pharr, an employee of the consulting firm AECOM Technical Services with experience in government contracts. Deborah Proctor, a resident of the city’s northern side who is also a master gardener and a former historic preservation and open space planner for a county in the area of Greensboro, N.C. Mickey O’Brien, who serves on the grounds and facilities committee of Roswell’s Chattahoochee Nature Center and reportedly managed design and construction of such major Atlanta parks as Piedmont Park and Centennial Olympic Park.

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18 | Community

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Fear rises as GDOT eyes back yards, houses for toll lanes BY JOHN RUCH, DYANA BAGBY AND EVELYN ANDREWS As the Georgia Department of Transportation moves ahead on plans for a new system of toll lanes along Ga. 400 and I-285, frustration and fear are rising among residents concerned about a different toll – the one on their homes and back yards for possible land-taking. At three community meetings in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs in January, GDOT officials disappointed residents by claiming it’s too soon to know property impacts of the lanes, which could require widening the highways and which may rise over 30 feet high. In a backlash to those meetings, several homeowners reported that GDOT is studying or making offers for land-taking in their yards. And it was revealed that among the options under GDOT consideration is demolishing eight homes on Sandy Springs’ Crestline Parkway for an interchange and tearing down part of a Dunwoody townhouse while leaving the rest standing. “I really do believe this is being done way too quickly, and they’re not being transparent… like saying they have no plans in place when they obviously do,” said Amanda Cusick,


Dunwoody resident Bob Wolford stands in a narrow Georgia Department of Transportation right of way in the Georgetown neighborhood that could be consumed by the new toll lanes. He is among the residents worried about possible land-taking and noise impacts to homes and community facilities.

a resident of Sandy Springs’ Montrose Lane, who shared a detailed land-taking plan for her street. GDOT’s “express lanes” or “managed lanes” project would add four new toll-only lanes along I-285 and Ga. 400 in the Perimeter Center area over the next decade, with the intent of improving overall traffic flow. The Ga. 400 lanes also would carry a new MARTA bus rapid transit route, which requires other access points and stations. GDOT has repeatedly refused to fulfill open records requests from the Reporter for proposed property-taking information, citing varying and sometimes contradictory grounds, some of which an attorney on the board of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation has called unlawful. GDOT officials say that full proposed property-taking impacts will be revealed for the Ga. 400 toll lanes at a series of meetings in February and March, with a local stop March 12 at Sandy Springs City Hall. The I-285 toll lane details will not be revealed until later this year. In addition, the toll lanes that will run on Ga. 400 south of North Springs MARTA Station are now considered part of the I-285 project. All plans and related property-taking could still change, GDOT says. GDOT is now conducting an environmental study for the I-285 toll lanes that will determine where sound barriers and right of way will be needed. The study is expected to be finished in two years. City and community leaders in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs have been active in meeting with GDOT and raising concerns about the toll lanes’ possible impacts on property and traffic. In Brookhaven, City Councilmember Linley Jones said she has heard from a few residents seeking information about the I-285 toll lanes, but not many. Information from GDOT is also scarce, she said. “We’re not getting as much information from GDOT as we would like at this point,” she said. Meanwhile, several local homeowners say they’re already facing land-taking and figuring out what it means for their futures.

Preserving a Dunwoody community

Bob Wolford’s home in the Georgetown community in Dunwoody is located about two football field lengths from the edge of the westbound lanes of I-285. The steady roar of 18-wheelers and cars zooming by on the interstate easily drown out the sounds of songbirds. And the scarce trees between his home and the interstate give him and his neighbors a clear view of the traffic as it speeds by.

“My wife and I have kind of gotten used to [the noise] over the years. What’s really disturbing is when trucks hit their brakes, or there is an accident,” he said. In December, GDOT contractors showed up in Wolford’s driveway and said they were conducting an environmental study for the new I-285 toll lanes. They showed Wolford illustrations on their touchscreen tablets, where a red line went directly through his house. His home was in the “area of potential effects,” or APE, of the new toll lanes, they explained, as they walked around and took pictures of his house and yard, shooting in the direction of I-285. The environmental study is expected to determine where sound barriers are needed in residential and commercial areas along I-285. Looking across I-285 to the eastbound lanes, or the Brookhaven side of the interstate, noise barriers already exist, protecting single-family neighborhoods from the traffic noise. But what happens to the current barriers or if more barriers will be needed won’t be known until the environmental study is finished in 2021. The Georgetown Recreation Club, where the Georgetown Dolphins children’s swim team competes against other local swim clubs and parents and families from nearby neighborhoods have socialized for 50 years, is located just dozens of feet from I-285 wall. The club’s swimming pool and tennis courts are in the crosshairs of any construction of toll lanes. Kent Nichols, president of the club, pleaded with GDOT representatives at a Jan. 22 community meeting organized by Dunwoody City Councilmember Lynn Deutsch to not harm the club as it acquired right of way for the project. “We are interested in preserving that as part of our community in any way possible,” he said. Sheila Garvin has lived in the Chateau Club townhomes for 15 years. Located in three separate buildings, the townhomes are also only dozens of feet from I-285. Two years ago, GDOT representatives visited their homeowners’ association, Garvin said, and they were told GDOT could take just a part of one building if needed as part of right of way acquisition to build the new toll lanes. “I stopped listening at that point. You can’t take half a building. You should take the whole building,” she said. At the Jan. 22 meeting, GDOT representatives said it is still too early to determine how right of way acquisition could affect the Chateau Club townhomes or any Georgetown property. GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale said later in an email that taking part of a building is “unique and not a common practice,” but it can be an option. Wolford said he expects the GDOT consultants to revisit him again as part of their environmental impact study that is expected to also determine where access points to the toll lanes will be as well as what right of way is needed to construct the toll lanes. “The truth is, we’re already impacted,” Wolford said. “Once they’re done, we are still living here. The work they are doing is impacting us now, our standard of living, the values of our property.”

‘Frustration and anxiety’ in Sandy Springs

Last year, GDOT privately showed Fulton County Schools administrators drawing of possible property impacts at Sandy Springs schools, including Dunwoody Springs Elementary. When the Reporter requested the same details for properties adjacent to the school, GDOT said the information did not exist, and its officials later refused to take audience questions at a community meeting about the toll lanes held at Dunwoody Springs. Meanwhile, less than 600 feet to the south of the school, GDOT had already planted markers in John Mason’s back yard on Sandy Springs’ Spindle Court. They indicated, he says, that the new toll lanes’ property-line fence could come within 30 feet of his house. “… I understand completely the frustration and anxiety many residents along Ga. 400 are feeling” about the project, Mason said in an email. Mason said he first heard from GDOT contractors about possible toll-lane property impacts in April 2017. In June 2018, he said, they requested sketches of his back yard, then surveyed it a few weeks later. Since then, he says, GDOT has repeatedly delayed a decision on property-taking and says it is “reevaluating” the options. The final decision, he’s been told, in the hands of a GDOT appraiser. “I don’t think I want an appraiser making such a life-altering decision for me,” Mason said. Rob Harvey of Sandy Springs’ Montrose Lane is another homeowner surprised by GDOT’s claims that no decisions of property-taking have been made. That’s because GDOT already showed him detailed plans to put the new I-285 lanes 50 feet closer to his house than the current highway, and made an offer in January to buy part of his back yard in 30 to 40 days. Harvey is not a fan of GDOT appraisers, either. He said GDOT’s land acquisition contractor made a basic offer for part of his property, but would not pay damages. That’s despite word that the lanes would not come closer to his house, but also be elevated to an undetermined height. “… The appraiser said this won’t really impact the value of your property,” Harvey recalled. “I said, ‘How could putting a gigantic interstate 50 feet closer and taking away my green space buffer not impact the future value of my property?’” Harvey said the GDOT contracts told him they would entertain a counter-offer, but also made it clear that eminent domain is on the table. He says if he’s forced to sell, he would consider moving out, but he’s worried the plan is already lowering his property value. “I would probably try to sell,” he said. “The problem is, [the toll lanes plan is] already out there. I think it’s already too late to sell, to be honest with you.” BK


Community | 19


Bus transit would work on I-285, consultants predict Continued from page 1 the presentation showed a preview of some recommendations the consultants plan to make, which include a “high-end” bus system running within the toll lanes. “We know in a lot of people’s hearts they feel rail is absolutely necessary,” said Eric Bosman, a consultant with Kimley-Horn. “But a rubber-wheel system is the most efficient and would work.” The study assumes the bus system would be unable to use the toll lane access points and would need to have its own. Building those would cost $300 million to $480 million depending on how far the project goes, the consultants said. The vehicle would cost another $10 million. Maintenance and operations would cost $5 million to $8 million, they said. “It’s much more affordable than I think any of us dreamed, not to say it’s cheap,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. “In my mind, it is doable project that is not beyond the realm of financial capabilities.” Two access points could be built in Sandy Springs at Powers Ferry and Roswell roads, Bosman said. Another could be built between the Medical Center and Dunwoody MARTA Stations, he said. Although Raider Drive is shown on the map, it is not being currently considered for an access point. The consultants expect to present de-

tails on funding options, including a special type of tax district called a special services district, to the mayors at their next meeting later this month. But none of the options would completely cover the cost, Bosman said. Councilmember John Paulson said he is not convinced the service would provide what people need and be widely-used. “I’m skeptical that these trains are going to run anywhere near full,” he said.


The consultants are basing the estimates off a Nevada bus service that offers a “higher-end, premium service that would feel more like light rail vehicle or trambased car,” Bosman said. GDOT’s toll lanes project is not being built to accommodate rail and would cost ten times the amount the bus service would, Bosman said. Being able to use the infrastructure already being built by GDOT would save millions in cost, he said.


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“They’re building their managed lanes with or without this input, but we’re trying to piggyback on this as much as we can,” said Todd Long, a consultant with Moreland Altobeli. The project could either be built all the way from Cumberland Parkway on the west over to Tucker on the east, or on the most in-demand section from I-75 to Doraville, the consultants said.

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20 | Community

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Hotel redevelopment plans gets OK for City Hall site


An illustration of what the new office and retail building would look like where City Hall now stands at 4362 Peachtree Road and a glimpse of a plaza area planned at 4370 Peachtree Road.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The city gave the green light to plans to build a mixed-use development, including a sixstory hotel, on a section of Peachtree Road where Brookhaven City Hall now sits. The developer is also seeking a tax incentives from the city, but the amount is not yet known. The redevelopment includes tearing down the City Hall building to make way for a new six-story office and retail building, but no timeline when construction might begin has been established, according to the developer. The city has a lease with property owner Delta Life Insurance for the City Hall building until 2024. The lease agreement includes a provision that either party can get out of the lease with a nine-month notice. Mike Irby, senior vice president for development with Taylor & Mathis, developer for the


An illustration of what is planned along Peachtree Road with a new retail/ office building to go at 4362 Peachtree Road at far left, where Brookhaven City Hall now stands, and at the right a new six-story hotel with rooftop access.

project, said the company is working with city officials to ensure relocating City Hall occurs when construction is set to begin. An option, he said, is for City Hall to relocate into one of the existing buildings that will remain as part of the project, he added. “These options could relieve some pressure on the city to find a new home and will be explored with city officials once a development timeline has been established,” Irby said in an email. City Manager Christian Sigman said in December that the new public safety headquarters being built with special local option sales tax revenue to be built overlooking the Peachtree Creek Greenway has enough space to serve as a “backup City Hall.” Early talks were to have the new public safety headquarters to be finished by next year. A city spokesperson said there are no plans to utilize the future public safety building as a City Hall at this time. Taylor & Mathis will be seeking a tax abatement from the city for the project, but the amount is not yet known, Irby said in the email. “We are exploring tax abatement structures which would help offset development costs for portions of the project which would serve a public function, such as the parking deck,” he said. “Due to the high construction cost of higher-density development on urban infill sites, tax abatements or other public incentives are often necessary in order for a project to be financially feasible.” Irby and other representatives from Taylor & Mathis, went to the Zoning Board of Appeals on Jan. 16 seeking variances for the approximately 6-acre site between City Hall at 4362 Peachtree Road and 4400 Peachtree Road, at the intersection with Hermance Drive, where an urgent care center is now located. The property is adjacent to the LA Fitness Center in Town Brookhaven. Between those addresses is a five-story office building that formerly housed Brown Mackie College and a two-story office building atop a four-story parking garage. Both of those buildings would remain as part of the new mixed-use project. These are the two buildings Irby suggested City Hall could relocate to if needed. The five-story building is slated to be renovated to include a small plaza area fronting on Peachtree Road, according to site plans submitted to the city. A new four-story parking deck with 258 spaces is to be built behind the new office and retail building where City Hall is now located. The urgent care center at the corner of Peachtree Road and Hermance Drive would also be torn down to make way for the six-story new hotel. A new four-story parking deck with 622 spaces would be built on Hermance Drive, adjacent to the new hotel, where a thicket of trees now stands. A new surface parking lot with 31 spaces is also planned adjacent to the hotel. The hotel would have 130 rooms with a restaurant, lobby, conference rooms and ballroom area on the second floor as well as a rooftop bar area open to the public, Irby told ZBA members. Irby did not say what brand hotel is planned to go on the site and said that the project is still in the preliminary stages of design. The ZBA approved Jan. 16 variances to slightly reduce open space requirements but added a condition that there be at least 5,000 square feet in the hotel dedicated as amenity space, such as a ballroom and conference rooms, for public use. City staff had recommended denying the variances, noting a reduction in open space requirements does not meet the vision of the Peachtree Overlay District, approved by the City Council last year to promote a pedestrian and bike-friendly corridor along Peachtree Road. Norman McKay, CFO and vice president for business and finance at Oglethorpe University, which owns the property and apartments adjacent to the planned hotel site, said university officials met with the developers and support the project.

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Community | 21


New Oglethorpe business school dean aims to make ‘robot-proof’ leaders BY DOUG CARROLL The dean of the new business school at Brookhaven’s Oglethorpe University says the time is right for a set of new academic programs to equip students for a future that will be increasingly technological and global. Dennis W. Kelly came on board last October as dean of the Q. William Hammack School of Business, returning to metro Atlanta after an eight-year stint in Washington, D.C., with the Smithsonian Institution. A $50 million gift — the largest in Oglethorpe’s history — from Hammack, an alumnus and former CEO of C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., has made it possible for the 183-year-old liberal-arts university at 4484 Peachtree Road to elevate its business department to school status. “A lot of small, liberal-arts colleges in the Northeast and Midwest won’t make it,” Kelly told a breakfast meeting of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 17. “But Oglethorpe is strong, and it’s willing to change and adapt.” The business school, scheduled to open in the fall, will roll out a strategic plan in the late spring or early summer, Kelly said. It will be part of the undergraduate program and may offer certificate programs, but has no plans to offer master’s degrees. Kelly said Oglethorpe expects to grow its business-program numbers from slightly more than 300 students currently to as many as 600, creating courses in marketing and finance to go with established strengths in accounting and economics. An emphasis on experiential learning, through student internships, also will be a priority, Kelly said, adding that Oglethorpe’s move nearly 65 years ago to a core curriculum for all students already provides an edge in the workplace. “We think that makes our students different, better and special,” he said. “Bill Hammack thinks the combination of the core curriculum [and new programs] will make our next generation of leaders robot-proof. “A liberal arts education will be the key to doing things that robots can’t do.” According to Kelly, about 60 percent of current jobs will be either eliminated or impacted by machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, 4 million jobs for checkout clerks will dwindle to 500,000 over the next 10 years, he said. In some fields, the U.S. has serious catching-up to do: China graduates 1 million engineers a year, he said, compared to 75,000 in the U.S. With this brave new world as a backdrop, students will need at least some familiarity with coding and business analytics, Kelly said, even if they don’t end up working in those areas specifically. Forty percent of Oglethorpe’s 1,250 students are first-generation college students, Kelly said, which presents challenges in getting some of them up to speed. Asked about trends that the university is seeing, he identified three. “We’re seeing that writing skills have declined across the board,” he said. “We’re also seeing that the demand for analytics has gone up — big data is a new skill that’s in demand. And there is a big disparity between those who are well-prepared [for college work] and those who are not.” Oglethorpe’s Compass academic advising program, begun in 2017, has helped the

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Dennis Kelly, dean of Oglethorpe University’s Hammack School of Business, speaks to the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce Jan. 17.

university achieve its highest retention rate in 10 years, according to assistant provost Beth Concepcion. Its March to May mentoring program also has been beneficial, she said, and she encouraged chamber members to become part of it. Kelly served for seven years as president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta before moving on to the Smithsonian, where he was director of the National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute. Previously, he was president and CEO of Green Mountain Energy Co. and held administrative positions with Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Harvard. Kelly said he and his wife, Debbie, barely recognize Brookhaven this time around. “We’re stunned by the enormous changes we’ve seen,” he said. “When we drive around, it’s amazing. You see all the residential developments, and it’s hard to find contractors because there’s so much going on.” Alan Goodman, president of the Brookhaven chamber, said the new business school at Oglethorpe can only be a plus. “It’s a super step for the city to have a business school right here,” Goodman said.

22 | Art & Entertainment

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Friday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb 24 Act3 Productions presents Tony Award-winning “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which upends the century-old story of how a miserable orphan becomes “The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up” (a.k.a. Peter Pan). With a dozen actors portraying more than 100 characters, it playfully explores the depths of greed and despair and the bonds of friendship, duty and love. 6285-R Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. $15-$30. Info: act3productions.org or 770-241-1905



The world of Dr. Seuss springs to life in this production from Galloway Junior Theatre Company. Transporting audiences from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus, the Cat in the Hat narrates the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos that he must protect. Chaddick Center for the Arts at The Galloway School 215 W. Wieuca Road, Buckhead. $10 general, $5 student. Info: gallowayschool.org


March 7-17 Now in its 10th season, the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF) takes on the theme of “Jewish Contributions to Music” and will specifically nod to Jewish contributions to American music with a specially curated lineup featuring Grammy winning artists, up and coming bands, historian presentations and a salute to both Leonard Bernstein and the Academy Awards. Various venues around metro Atlanta. Info and line up: atlantajmf.org


Thursday, Feb. 21 through Saturday Feb. 23

Wednesday Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Two author talk and book signing events feature bestselling author Elinor Lipman of “Good Riddance” on Feb. 13 in conversation with Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author. The second event on Feb. 24 includes New York Times bestselling authors Alyson Richman of “The Secret Clouds” & Pam Jenoff, author of “Lost Girls in Paris” and will be in conversation with Zoe Fishman, New York Times bestselling author. MJCCA, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Tickets to each event: Community $15/Member $10. Info: atlantajcc. org/bookfestival or 678-812-4002.


Wednesday, March 6, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Titles @ Twilight promotes local authors

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Sunday, Feb. 17, 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. Through dance, movement, music and bilingual storytelling, young children will engage in this classic folk tale in wholly imaginative and new ways. A family production presented by the Alliance Theatre’s Kathy & Ken Bernhardt Theatre for the Very Young. Tickets: $12-$16. MJCCA’s Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/boxoffice or 678-812-4002.


Monday, Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Kids ages 4-14 can practice their favorite strokes with Up4Tennis while classes are cancelled for President’s Day. Outshine Sports also offers a day of sports camp that will emphasize team building and exercise. $25-$72 for half and full days. Ashford Park, 2980 Redding Road, Brookhaven. Tennis Info: up4tennis.com or 404-617-1305; Sports Info: outshinesports.com or 470-601-1415.


Student and Instructor Jewelry Market Sunday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m- 5 p.m. This fundraising event benefits the Spruill Center for the Arts and the Spruill Metals Jewelry Program and will showcase beginning to professional jewelry artists who will sell their unique handcrafted jewelry to the public. Free. Spruill Center for the Arts. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: spruillarts.org


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whose stories of history and the South represent a variety of perspectives. This month, author Deborah Mantella visits to discuss “My Sweet Vidalia,” a tale of 1955 rural Georgia and the spirit of an unborn child who stays with her mother through the darkest of circumstances. Free. Heritage Sandy Springs Community Room, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org.

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Saturday, March 2, 9 a.m-12 p.m. Find the best deals and sell your unwanted items at the Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Community Yard Sale. The event is free to attend. Tables to sell items will be available for $20 for an 8-foot table and $30 for two tables. Briarwood Park Recreation Center, 2235 Briarwood Way, Brookhaven. To reserve a table: Call 404-6370512 or email Philip Mitchell at Philip.Mitchell@BrookhavenGA.gov.


Saturday, Feb. 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Learn about the white-tailed deer in Georgia, with tips on how to keep them from destroying expensive landscaping? Free. Lost Corner Preserve, 7300 Brandon Mill


Art & Entertainment | 23


Road, Sandy Springs. Register: registration. sandyspringsga.gov


Monday, Feb. 18, 7-8:30 pm The Recreation and Parks Department and Friends of the Lost Corner host the North Fulton Master Gardeners series of classes for homeowners on selected weekday evenings. This first class will cover: how cool and warmseason grasses differ and what they require: soil testing, fertilizing, weed control and aerating. Lost Corner Preserve Cottage, 7300 Brandon Mill Road, Sandy Springs. $10 each or $60 for the 8 week entire series. Register: http://www.friendsoflostcorner.org.

BSA Troop 370 hosts a special recycling event for the community. No charges for most electronics but recycling for paint cans range from $1 for a pint to $20 for latex-based fivegallon bucket. To see what is accepted, visit novussolutionsllc.com/recycling. St. James United Methodist Church, 4400 PeachtreeDunwoody Road, Buckhead. Info: Leslee at evansclans@bellsouth.net.



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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 9:30 a.m. Dunwoody Garden Club hosts guest speaker Gloria Ward, past president of the American Hydrangea Society. Come hear all about these ever popular flowering shrubs and be prepared to learn about some exciting new varieties that are available today. North DeKalb Cultural Center (Room 4) at 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodygardenclub.com.

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Sunday, Feb 24, 1-4 p.m. Come help the Chattahoochee Nature Center restore the wetlands. Work to remove invasive Chinese privet and other non-natives in and around the wetlands in order to encourage native plant restoration. Registration required. Ages 5-adult. $6 for Children; $10 Adult; $7 Seniors 65+; $7 students 13-18; free CNC Members. Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: volunteer@chattnaturecenter.org or 770-992-2055 x237.

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24 |

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Preschool Camp (2s–PK) and Adventure Camp (K–6th)

Members receive 25% off camp!

Explore art, get messy, and have a blast!

• Returning Camps include Circus Camp, Drone Camp, Art, Drama and Sports • New Camps include Steam Quest (STEAM Challenges and more!) • Before and After Care available • Multi-Week Discount • Half Day or Full Day programs

Register today at epsteinatlanta.org/esa

Register your artists for a weeklong art camp at the High. We offer camp options for grades 1 through 8. Campers will explore the collection, sketch in the galleries, and create artwork.

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Chastain Horse Park - convenient Buckhead location! Boys and girls ages 4-8 – Mon-Fri 8am-1pm Many weeks to choose from during Summer 2019 Camp activities for our younger riders include horsemanship instruction (grooming, safety and more), riding lessons, crafts and games! Contact us at (404) 252-4244 ext.1001 or camps@chastainhorsepark.org. More information regarding summer schedule dates and registration form can be found at chastainhorsepark.org, select Riding Services, then select Summer Camp!

JUNE 3 – AUG 2, 2019

AGES 5 – 17

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| 25


June 3 - July 26

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26 |

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has an extensive Frequently Asked Questions section for first-time camper families and several enjoyable videos!


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Education | 27

FEBRUARY 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


Student author Ruby Mundell, Davis Academy


Editor’s Note: Through our “Standout Student” series, Reporter Newspapers showcases some of the outstanding students at our local schools. To recommend a “Standout Student” for our series, please email editor@ReporterNewspapers.net with information about the student and why you think he or she should be featured.

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Ruby Mundell started off her fifth-grade school year by publishing her own book. Mundell, a student at The Davis Academy in Sandy Springs, had spent a year writing and editing the book, titled “Kindness Come In.” Ruby wrote the book to help cope with the loss of her father at a young age, a diagnosis of dyslexia and social challenges. The book includes tips for both adults and children facing difficult times, illustrations and personal stories. Ruby said writing has become an avenue for her to express her feelings and find relief from some of her own hardships. Ruby said that she wrote it with the intention of “helping others through their hard times, by telling them my experiences and how I went through them.” Ruby had help from her mother, who also had been writing a book, and Davis Academy Vice Principal Jeff Rothstein. Rothstein said Ruby is “an excellent student and diligent writer, with a humble air about her.” Just like most kids her age, she enjoys art and playing with her friends at school, but she also developed a particular passion for writing. “It helped me to calm myself when I was going through challenging times,” she said. The book provides advice on practicing compassion, consideration, thoughtfulness, selfexpression and forgiveness. Her goal for her readers “is that they can become a better person, feel better about themselves, and understand people better” after reading her book, Ruby wrote in an author’s note. The book is composed of a series of narratives from Ruby and her friends and families own personal experiences with bullying and how on ought to approach those scenarios. She said she used her experiences with grief and loss to help readers with their own traumas. Just as the book became a source of comfort and enjoyment for her, she hopes that it can provide some direct healing and aid to those going through similar circumstances. She said enjoyed the writing process, despite the year-long timeframe, as it gave her a way to make peace with the difficulties she had gone through. Ruby hosted a launch party for “Kindness Come In” last year, where Davis Academy members and other members of the local Atlanta community came to celebrate her accomplishment. The book was also featured in the Marcus Jewish Community Center Book Fair.

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28 | Education

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Julia Bernath, who represents Sandy Springs, was elected the vice president of the Fulton School Board at its Jan. 8 meeting. “I am happy to serve and delighted to continue in public service as our board’s vice president,” Bernath said in a press release. “Thank you for your confidence in me.” Linda Bryant, who represents south Fulton, was elected president, the release said. Bernath, who represents District 7 and just began her fifth term, represents portions of Sandy Springs, as well as Roswell, Johns Creek and Alpharetta. The vice president serves a one-year term, according to the release. She previously served as school board president from 2007 to 2009 and as vice president from 2009 to 2010, according to the release.


Julia Bernath represents District 7 on the Fulton School Board.


TAP into Davis Choosing the right school for your child is among the most important decisions you will ever make. Many times, it can seem overwhelming and financially out of reach. Let us help simplify the process. We can make The Davis Academy accessible for your family through our TUITION AND TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS.

School safety legislation has already been filed based on recommendations from a study committee several local lawmakers served on last year. “The School Safety Study Committee was one of – if not the most – impactful and important study committees that I have been a part of,” state Sen. John Albers, a Republican who represents part of Sandy Springs and who chaired the study committee, said in a press release. “The issues discussed and testimonies heard were not just a way of procedure, rather, words that were turned into action through the pieces of legislation filed.” One piece of legislation proposes a state constitutional amendment to allow ESPLOST funds to be allocated towards the security of schools, including additional staffing, such as specialized mental health counselors. Another is titled the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” which would address offenses for minors in possession of a firearm; require school safety plans, including performing threat assessments, drills and education prevention and reporting; and establish a task force to prevent, discover and respond to any threats to public or private schools.



A $3,500 Little Learners Grant is now available for ALL Mechina: Kindergarten Prep AND Kindergarten students admitted for the 2019-2020 school year.


Tuition reduction grants and flexible payment options are available to help families manage tuition expenses.


Carpool facilitation and a free pilot bus transportation program are available. Exploring central routes to service families in Alpharetta/ Johns Creek, Brookhaven, Buckhead/Chastain, East Roswell, and Dunwoody.

Call Lisa Mirsky, Director of Admissions, at 678-527-3300 to learn more!


Living Our Values. Every Day. 8105 Roberts Drive, Atlanta, GA 30350 770-671-0085 | davisacademy.org


The Holy Spirit Preparatory School’s swim team, from left to right, Luke Oliver, Adam Marshall, Jacob Wilhelm, Conner McKittrick, Jackson Lehmann, Hector Padilla, Gavin Marshall, Will Stinnett and Luke Farris. Standing in the front, from left to right, are Coach Star Brackin holding the trophy and William Arnold.

Holy Spirit Preparatory School’s varsity boys swim team took first place at the Jan. 26 Georgia Independent School Association’s competition, defending their 2018 state championship title. “We couldn’t have done it without the whole team,” senior Conner McKittrick said in the press release. The team, coached by Star Brackin, included William Arnold, Luke Farris, Jackson Lehmann, Adam Marshall, Gavin Marshall, Conner McKittrick, Luke Oliver, Hector Padilla, Will Stinnett and Jacob Wilhelm, according to the release.


Sandy Springs’ Temple Sinai Preschool announced registration is open for next year and the school will reopen with renovated classrooms and outdoor spaces in August. The school will have a brand new playground and modular, flexible furniture and equipment to allow for different learning styles, the school said. Programs are available for children 12 months old through Pre-K. For more information or to register a child for Temple Sinai Preschool, visit www.templesinaipreschool. org or contact Maman at 404-255-6200.


Classifieds | 29


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MARK ELLIOTT Legal representation when disputes arise from the estate plan or within the estate ■ Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney Challenges ■ Breach of Fiduciary Duty of Trustees, Executors and others ■ Litigation of the Probate Estate ■ Disputes among Heirs ■ Other related litigation as necessitated by party misconduct

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Home Services Directory

Reporter Classifieds HELP WANTED Controller (MD18) - Master in Accounting, 2 yrs’ experience in accounting/auditing, profic. in US GAAP, GAAS and a CPA license. Mail CV: HR, Express Food & Pharmacy LLC, 50 Upper Alabama St., #92, Atlanta, GA 30303 Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber Hiring Event Coordinator/ Administrative Assistant. Oversight of all Chamber Events. Plans and executes all aspects of events. Weekly/ Monthly Newsletters/ Graphics. Administrative Duties include: Welcome Receptionist/ Phones, Onboarding of new members, Manage Database (ChamberMaster) and various Admin responsibilities. Send resume to: jenny@sandysprings.org.

SERVICES AVAILABLE Property Home Tending – Regular inspections of your For Sale or unoccupied home. Call Charles 404-229-0490. Driveways & Walkways – Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repair, waterproofing and retaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576.

Graphic Designer (part-time)—Springs Publishing seeks an experienced graphic designer for a part-time position (approx. 15 hours per week) to work on print and digital products, especially ad design and page layout. You should be proficient with Adobe Creative Suite, specifically InDesign and Photoshop. Knowledge of web design (using WordPress), videography and social media is a plus. You must be available to work in our office on specific weekdays; with some flexible hours and remote work possible. Please provide your resume and samples of your work (via links, etc.) to publisher@reporternewspapers.net.

CEMETERY PLOTS Arlington Memorial Park – Available in Lakeside Section, two side by side plots near lake. Offered at $4,950 for each plot (50% below cemetery price). Lot 118C – Spaces 1 & 2. Contact owner: 770-490-1857.

CARE GIVER ‘CNA Available – Flexible & dependable with references. Minimal four hours per client. Personal care for loved ones. 404-397-9429

To Advertise, call 404-917-2200 ext 110

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30 | Public Safety

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Police pay boosted as departments compete for officers BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Most Brookhaven police officers will get a significant pay increase in April as the city tries to ward off competition from big raises on the Atlanta and DeKalb County forces. The new pay ranges for officers, sergeants and lieutenants, approved by the City Council Jan. 22, will boost the minimum salary by about 13 percent and the maximum by about 6 percent. That means the lowest pay for a rookie officer will jump from $42,406 to $48,500. And officers already on the force will get a raise based on their years of experience in policing. The raises are projected to cost the city nearly $700,000 in 2019’s budget – about $570,000 more than was budgeted for regular merit-based pay increases. “The improving economy, combined with high-profile national events of police officers being targeted, have drastically increased the challenges to recruit and retain police officers,” wrote City Manager Christian Sigman in a memo to Mayor John Ernst and the City Council, backing Police Chief Gary Yandura’s call for pay raises. In a recent staff memo, Yandura said the Brookhaven Police Department’s current pay structure was significantly lower than those of forces in Atlanta, DeKalb and Sandy Springs, and outpaced Johns Creek on the higher end but not on starter salaries. Especially concerning was a recent 30 percent Atlanta Police pay raise and a similar DeKalb boost – departments that, Brookhaven officials estimate, have more than 500 vacant police positions to fill. The Brookhaven increase is intended to essentially match the Atlanta Police pay, and will take effect at roughly the same time, in April, when part of the Atlanta raises kick in. Officer retention and attraction is not just a theoretical problem, official say, but one the Brookhaven force already suffers. Sigman said in his memo that turnover is a “huge draw on resources” already, with 17 officers hired to fill 25 vacancies in 2018 alone. When the Brookhaven force was established in 2013, it had competitive pay and was known for poaching experienced officers from other departments, but now 34 percent of the officer corps has less than two years on the job, according to Sigman. A 3 percent pay raise in 2017 did not keep up with neighboring departments, offi-

cials say, and a system of merit-based pay increases did not include cost of living adjustments. The new pay ranges come with a new hiring strategy as well, focused on hiring more experienced officers and offering them higher starting pay. Officers currently on the force will get higher pay based on experience in or outside the Brookhaven department as well, with the goal of keeping their pay rate on par with newcomers. The pay raise will replace the standard merit-based raises for 2019, which will then resume under the new structure in 2020. The entire pay system will be reviewed in three years. For the 2019 budget, the estimated cost of the pay raise is $698,845.96. The city had budgeted $130,000 for the merit-based increases. The difference will come from a $1 million margin in the operating budget, according to Sigman’s memo. More pay raises may be in the works. Yandura also had recommended a pay increase for the rank of major, with a minimum pay of $83,770 and a maximum of $126,000. However, Sigman recommended a review of the pay ranges for both major and deputy chief ranks following the hiring of a new deputy chief. Former Deputy Chief Juan Grullon resigned in November following a sexual harassment allegation made by a fellow officer, which Grullon denied.

NEW B R O O K HAV EN P O L I C E PAY R A NG ES OFFICER Former minimum and maximum: $42,406 to $67,850 New minimum and maximum: $48,500 to $71,792 SERGEANT Former minimum and maximum: $54,166 to $86,665 New minimum and maximum: $61,076 to $92,000 LIEUTENANT Former minimum and maximum: $61,752 to $98,852 New minimum and maximum: $69,806 to $105,000

Lenbrook is expanding. So are your possibilities. Introducing Kingsboro at Lenbrook - the newest addition to the Lenbrook community. These 53 luxury Villas and Flats all come with the acclaimed amenities and lifestyle that have made Lenbrook Atlanta’s premier intown community for engaged senior living for more than 35 years. Scheduled for move-ins in early 2022, Lenbrook is currently taking fully refundable Priority Deposits for Kingsboro at Lenbrook.

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To learn more about becoming a Priority Depositor, call us today at 404-476-7526 to attend one of our preview events. With only 53 residences being built, now is the time to reserve your place in line!



Public Safety | 31


Police Blotter / Brookhaven From Brookhaven Police reports dated Jan. 6 through Jan. 20. The following information was pulled from Brookhaven’s Police-2-Citizen website.

2000 block of Curtis Drive — On Jan.


3500 block of Buford Highway — On

11, in the morning, a man was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Jan. 20, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with simple battery.

1900 block of Curtis Drive — On Jan.

3800 block of Clairmont Road — On

Jan. 6, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and charged with battery. 800 block of Lincoln Avenue — On

Jan. 6, at night, a man was arrested and charged with battery. 1900 block of North Druid Hills Road

— On Jan. 8, in the afternoon, a verbal dispute was reported. 1400 block of Briarwood Road — On

Jan. 8, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and charged with simple assault. 2700 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 11, in the early morning, a woman was arrested and charged with simple battery. 500 block of Visitation Parkway — On

Jan. 12, in the morning, a woman was arrested and charged with battery. 3600 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 13, in the morning, a man and woman were arrested and charged with family violence. 1300 block of Briarwood Road — On

Jan. 13, in the evening, a man and woman were arrested and charged with family violence. 2600 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 14, in the morning, a man was arrested and charged with aggravated child molestation. 100 block of Lincoln Court Avenue —

On Jan. 14, in the evening, a woman was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. 3000 block of Clairmont Road — On

Jan. 15, in the morning, a man was arrested and charged with simple battery. BK

4200 block of Peachtree Road — On

Jan. 12, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with possession of a Schedule II substance.

1800 block of Clairmont Road — On

Jan. 6, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with driving unlicensed. 3200 block of Clairmont Road — On

Jan. 6, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with the visible emissions coming from his vehicle. 1300 block of Rustic Ridge Drive — On

Jan. 7, in the morning, a man was arrested and charged with marijuana possession.

1100 block of Standard Drive — On

2400 block of Briarcliff Road — On

Jan. 9, in the evening, a man was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Jan. 12, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with forgery with a counterfeit ID.

3300 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 10, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with public intoxication.

4400 block of Peachtree Road — On

Jan. 12, in the evening, a man was arrested and charged with marijuana possession.

2600 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 10, at night, a woman was arrested

1200 block of Goodwin Road — On

Jan. 7, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license.

Call 404- 497-1020 for an appointment.

3300 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 7, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. 2700 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 7, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and charged with theft by receiving stolen property.

Exit 26

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3600 block of Clairmont Road — On

Jan. 7, at night, a woman was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. 4400 block of Peachtree Road — On

Jan. 8, in the morning, a man was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license. 1800 block of Tobey Road — On Jan.

8, at night, a man was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs. 1800 block of Childers Place — On

Jan. 8, at night, a woman was arrested and charged with driving without insurance. 2700 block of Skyland Way — On Jan.

9, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license. 1600 block of Briarwood Road — On

28 Exit 28





Exit 4A

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Hospital 5665


993 C


Cancer Center

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The Tower at North-

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Jan. 6, at noon, a man was arrested and charged with family violence.

Jan. 6, in the morning, a man was arrested and charged with excessive speeding.


3500 block of Buford Highway — On

2800 block of Clairmont Road — On

• Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Jan. 12, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with forgery in the second degree.


Peacht ree Dun wo

Jan. 17, in the morning, a man was arrested and charged with shoplifting.

2400 block of Briarcliff Road — On

Hollis Cobb Circle

2600 block of Buford Highway — On

20, at night, a man was arrested and charged with simple battery.

Meridian Mark

On Jan. 10, in the evening, a theft was reported.

1300 block of Dresden Drive — On Jan.

12, in the early morning, two men were arrested and charged with marijuana possession.

Trimble Road

700 block of Brookhaven Avenue —

and charged with violating probation.

3100 block of Gables Drive — On Jan.

Glenridge Point Parkway

Jan. 10, in the morning, a non-forced-entry burglary at a residence was reported.

Jan. 9, in the evening, a woman was arrested and charged with driving without a license.

Glenridge Connector

2300 block of Colonial Drive — On

19, in the evening, a woman was arrested and charged with simple battery.

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| 32


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