Sandy Springs Reporter - February 2021

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FEBRUARY 2021 • VOL. 15 — NO. 2

Sandy Springs Reporter FOOD FOR THOUGHT

General Muir comes to City Springs



Calling All Campers! P18 and 19

2021 could be year of North End plans and water rate cuts

Jewish Film Festival makes its return



Meet the mothers of Civil Rights icons


intend to run for re-election on Nov. 2. Andy Bauman, Chris Burnett and Steve Soteres remain undecided and did not rule out mayoral campaigns. John Paulson said he’s undecided about re-election but would not consider another office. Paul previously spoke of retiring after his current, second term in the Mayor’s Office, but late last year said he is undecided on a

2021 may be the year that the city finally kicks off redevelopment of North End shopping centers into vast new mixed-use communities and finds out whether it can cut local water rates. At its annual retreat Jan. 26, where the coming year’s policies are set, the City Council directed consultants to turn North End redevelopment concepts into a formal zoning. And the council learned that the Georgia Supreme Court is about to rule on a lawsuit in the city’s long-running The North End rezoning plans will target four North End shopping centers chosen as linchpins in revitalization plans. The council also wants a plan for incentives for developers that might include tax breaks. The sites include North River Village Shopping Center, 8765-8897 Roswell Road; the former Loehmann’s Plaza Shopping Center, 8610 Roswell Road; and North Springs Center, 7300 Roswell Road. Concept plans for each site were delivered last year after work by a city North End Revitalization Advisory Committee. While the council and Mayor Rusty Paul asked consultants to come up with fiscal and zoning incentives to encourage redevelopment that included affordable or workforce housing, they never asked for an affordable housing policy. Affordability has been a controversial issue in North End discussions, with the advocacy group Sandy Springs Together saying more needs

See MOST on page 22

see 2021 on page 22




Locals donate plasma for COVID battle

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in pre-pandemic times drew 40,000 attendees to such major local venues as the Sandy Springs Performing Arts. This year, it has found a way to return with a combination of virtual screenings and a three-day drive-in event. Above is a scene from “Asia,” a 2020 Israeli drama about a single mother’s relationship with her ailing daughter that is among the many films in this year’s lineup. See story, p. 20.

Most incumbents undecided on mayoral, City Council campaigns



The Sandy Springs Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIPs 30327, 30328, 30342 and 30350 For information:

Mayor Rusty Paul and four of the six City Council members aren’t ready to say if they will run for re-election this fall as the city faces such big issues as North End redevelopment, racial dialogue and highway toll lane projects. Tibby DeJulio and Jody Reichel were the only council members to say they definitely



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2 | Community ■

City forms Charter Commission with former council members Sterling, Collins BY BOB PEPALIS The city’s 15th anniversary required the creation of a Charter Commission comprised of local residents to review and make recommendations to the Georgia General Assembly. The commission is expected to meet in February and submit its report to City Council this summer. Mayor Rusty Paul appointed Gabriel Sterling, a former councilmember and former voting system implementation manager for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office who gained international fame for decrying President Trump’s election conspiracy theories. He will serve as chairman of the commission. City Council appointed Ronda Smith, who serves as president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods. Members of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate whose districts include all or part of the city also appointed members. The full commission includes:

Gabriel Sterling, Chair Ronda Smith Sunny Park Melody Kelley Tom Mahaffey, who heads the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce Tochie Blad Suleima Millan-Salimas Andrea Settles, a city Planning Commission member Tricia Gephardt Chip Collins, chair of the Sandy Springs Development Authority and former councilmember

The current City Council does not provide the commission with a list of areas to review, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said. The commission can talk to current councilmembers and the community for input. The city’s first Charter Commission formed after the city’s fifth anniversary in 2011. City code required the council to call for the commission at its first regularly scheduled meeting after its anniversary date of Dec. 1. “I’m honored to be on it. I’ll do my job. I’ll take a close look at everything,” Collins said. “But right offhand, I can’t point them to say, ‘Yes, this is something that needs to be changed in the charter.’” He recalls the first commission looking at term limits and staggered terms for council seats. But ultimately the panel rejected those ideas. The current commision might expect to review those again. Collins said staggered terms were considered previously because of a potential situation were “all six people either don’t run again or they lose and you have complete turnover, you get no institutional knowledge.” But, he said, the city has had the benefit of staggered terms without mandating them because just about every election cycle its had turnover of at least two council seats. The city keeps a mix of members with experience and fresh faces and new eyes, he said.

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Community | 3

After historic Georgia elections, Democrats aim to bring blue wave to city races BY JOHN RUCH


With Georgia’s historic presidential and U.S. Senate elections in the rearview mirror, the partisan political momentum is now driving toward this fall’s municipal elections in local cities. Democratic activists emboldened by victory say they will localize the blue wave by backing candidates in officially nonpartisan City Council or mayoral races. And campaigns could involve some of the local figures who stood out in Georgia’s national political spotlight, such as Gabriel Sterling, the Republican state election official who some observers say might be a good candidate for mayor in his hometown of Sandy Springs. Partisan politics has often played a role -- albeit a quiet one -- in municipal races in traditionally Republican local cities, where candidates may rely on the networking and parties may groom candidates for higher offices. But in recent years there have been flashes of more overt partisanship, as when state Democratic Party chair Nikema Williams -now a U.S. congresswoman -- boasted in 2019 of Lynn Deutsch’s victory in Dunwoody’s mayoral race, though Deutsch insisted she’s an independent. Now Democrats are coming on strong to field candidates, and maybe even sway more incumbents like Brookhaven City Councilmember Linley Jones, who confirmed to the Reporter that she quietly shifted affiliation from Republican to Democrat in recent years. “All of our focus will be put into finding good candidates to run in municipal races where we have a verified Republican running,” said Lewanna Tucker, chair of the Fulton County Democratic Committee. “We will contest every race there is, from dog-catcher to governor! We don’t plan to let up until it’s all blue.” “I’m excited, now that we won Georgia... we can focus on local [elections] again,” said John Jackson, chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Committee. “... You still have Republicans in some municipal seats. So we’re definitely going to run some Democrats against Republicans.” Jackson said that the DeKalb Democrats also plan to boost their outreach to Latino and Asian American communities in the Buford Highway corridor after former President Trump saw significant increases in votes from such communities in metro Atlanta and nationwide. The Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon, Atlanta (JDWS) is a large, grassroots progressive group formed by residents of Brookhaven and Sandy Springs nearly 10 years ago. Known for hosting forums for state and federal candidates,

From left, John Jackson, chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Committee; Lane Flynn, chair of the DeKalb County Republican Party; Brookhaven City Councilmember Linley Jones; Valerie Habif, co-founder of the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon, Atlanta.

the group also has many members involved in political campaigns. Now, says co-founder Valerie Habif, the salon is ready to go local. “We have not previously seen a need to involve ourselves in municipal elections because they are of course traditionally nonpartisan,” Habif said. “Our position has changed in part because of the outsized role that the suburbs and exurbs played in our recent election. … We do feel that municipal leaders in Atlanta’s surrounding communities should reflect not only the diversity of their citizenship but also their concerns.”

One JDWS member recently won office -- Tarece Johnson on the Gwinnett County Board of Education -- and the group is encouraging members to run for more, Habif said. JDWS won’t endorse candidates, but its members are likely to campaign for them, she said. Sandy Springs City Councilmember Andy Bauman, who was criticized as a “Democrat” by an unsuccessful opponent in his original 2013 campaign, has attended JDWS’s invitation-only forums. He has said he is undecided on a mayoral run or re-election campaign this year. For Republican officials, much of the

focus will be on building state and county campaigns with an eye on 2022. Trey Kelly, chair of the Fulton County Republican Party, said he expects more overtly partisan campaign in city races this year. “In the terms of municipal races in Sandy Springs or any other North Fulton city this year, it would depend on the candidates,” Kelly said of his party’s involvement. “The cities of North Fulton are the envy of local governments throughout Georgia. This was achieved through good government and conservative solutions to local issues. We hope that continues.”

4 | Community ■

Redistricting may ensure the blue wave’s Democratic dominance in local suburbs BY JOHN RUCH AND BOB PEPALIS City elections will be big news this fall, but around the same time, another political process will begin with even longerlasting impacts: the redrawing of Congressional, state legislature and City Council districts. Redistricting could affect the makeup of councils that in most cases do not now reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of their populations. And, one expert says, the redistricting may cement the new blue-wave Democratic dominance in local representation in Congress and the General Assembly, even though Republicans will control the process. One certainty is that the once-a-decade process will be intensely political as it attempts to balance short-term incumbent protection against long-term game plans, says Charles Bullock III, a University of Georgia political science professor and author of “Redistricting: The Most Political Activity in America.” “If you get it right, you hold [the legislature] for 10 years,” said Bullock of the General Assembly GOP majority that will conduct the Congressional and state redistrictings. And in the digital age, they

will be able to make finely detailed tweaks to district maps for political ends. “What’s often said is, the people [once] chose their legislators and now the legislators choose their people,” Bullock says.

to draw its own districts as well as Georgia’s Congressional districts. Gov. Brian Kemp likely will call a special session of the General Assembly to focus on that task, Bullock said. As for City Council districts, that process will be up to local governments. “The timing and process of redistricting at the local level is largely governed by city charters and local legislation,” said Holger Loewendorf, research manager for the Georgia Municipal Association. Officials in Atlanta, Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs indicated they are not yet sure how the redistricting will be performed. Brookhaven, which incorporated in 2012, has never redistricted before. When Sandy Springs last redrew council districts in 2013, the work was done by then City Councilmember Gabriel Sterling, who since has become internationally famous as overseer of Georgia’s historic 2020 presidential election and critic of former President Trump’s conspiracy theories. (Sterling has been tapped to chair the city’s Charter Commission this year.)

Drawing a district

A district is the territory that an elected official represents. At each level of government, districts can vary in shape and size, but must contain closely similar numbers of people under the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of equal representation. To maintain that equal representation, districts are redrawn every 10 years following the results of the U.S. Census, which most recently was conducted in 2020. Previously redistricting processes typically began around late summer. But the 2020 Census results have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, missing the deadline for the “apportionment” data needed for redistricting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It remains unclear when that data will arrive, but Bullock said the process is likely to begin in late fall and last several months, with the aim of having new districts in place for 2022. The majority-GOP state legislature gets

Rules of the game

At all levels, “Rule number one is, your

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districts need to have roughly equal population,” said Bullock. To avoid court challenges, Congressional districts need to be very close to equal. By law, state districts can vary up to 5% more or less, but legislators need to provide a convincing rationale, like keeping the district within the same county; a variation of 1-2% is more common. “Second rule would be, you don’t discriminate against minorities,” said Bullock. “If you have an existing minority-majority district, you probably don’t want to break it up -- ‘crack’ it, is the term they use.” Governments aren’t required to create minority-majority districts, Bullock said, but they better have “some non-racial rationale” for why they did not if there were viable alternatives that someone sues over. He says that’s especially true “if a minority population is relatively compact and is in one part of the city, and instead of putting it in a district, you cracked it...” Within those two rules, there is plenty of room for gamesmanship on protecting incumbents, punishing the opposition and setting long-term partisan power plays in motion. But a tricky factor, especially in the north metro area, can be seen in the many close election results in so-called marginal districts, where neither major party dominates the electorate. Bullock says that marginal districts can be great for voters, as their representatives may be more responsive and moderate. But such districts are loathed by incumbents and parties, as a slight change in the political wind can blow them out of power. That’s what happened 20 years after a Democrat-led redistricting attempted to protect many incumbents by preserving their marginal districts. A conservative shift in national politics knocked out many of them. “If there’s a wave against you, you lose a lot,” said Bullock.

Protecting two 6th Districts?

Now the Republican-led state legislature faces a similar situation, Bullock said. “Especially on the north side of Atlanta, Republicans are going to have to make a choice,” he said: Help remaining incumbents saying “protect me,” or shore up fewer districts with bigger GOP margins. “What you’re thinking about is not how will these districts perform in 2022, but how they are going to perform in 2030,” Bullock said. “... I think that may be a battle within the Republican caucus.” Such calculations, Bullock speculates, may mean the Republicans giving up on two local districts -- both numbered 6 -that made attention-getting flips to blue in recent years: the 6th Congressional and the state Senate District 6. SS


Doing Business | 5

Doing Business | Sandy Springs startup aims to revolutionize market research “Market research” and “customer engagement” are terms that may conjure up images of focus-group meeting rooms and dinnertime robo-calls. A Sandy Springs startup aims to revolutionize the industry with an app that instantly pays vetted users to answer questions in real time via their cellphones. In the 1Q system, companies cannot not only ask questions or offer surveys, but also ask for photos and videos, and target users based on their locations at the moment. Want to see where every user wearing a certain brand of sneakers is on a live map of metro Atlanta? Want to send a coupon to every user at the big game? Those creative uses and more are possible through the 1Q app. Meanwhile, every user who responds gets part of the $1-per-answer fee, either to their bank account or to their favorite charity. (Disclosure: The Reporter previously partnered with 1Q to conduct reader surveys on topical issues.) After several years of development, 1Q says it has over 1 million users and is in a higher-profile phase. The Reporter asked CEO and founder Keith Rinzler about the startup. For more information, see Tell us about the app. How does it work? 1Q is not simply a survey app. It’s a rev-

olutionary market research and customer engagement platform that is changing the way companies conduct consumer research and interact with customers. 1Q allows companies to engage with an audience in real-time based on who they are or where they are by sending questions, surveys, pictures, videos, polls or promotional offers to their mobile phones. Consumers love engaging with 1Q because we are the only company operating in the analytics and insights marketplace that pays consumers instantly per response. We started building 1Q nearly six years ago, but we’ve really taken off in the past two to three years. We’ve experienced incredible growth, are being used on a regular basis by many of America’s largest companies, and have over 1 million consumers who have signed up to be paid instantly for their responses. How did you come to be based here in Sandy Springs? My family has been in the Atlanta area for five generations, so starting a business here made all the sense in the world. There’s so much talent in the Atlanta area, and it’s only growing year after year. Thanks to Georgia Tech and initiatives like the Georgia Research Alliance, It’s

one of the best places to start a tech business anywhere in the country. As for Sandy Springs, it’s a terrific central location within the greater Atlanta area that’s easy to access for all of our team members.

the radical simplicity and transparency of our platform -- there’s clear pricing, no contracts, and literally anyone can use it to get answers to their questions by visiting The list goes on, including real-time responsWhat do you offer that es that produce meanother demographic comingful results in minutes panies don’t? instead of days, the abiliFor starters, even comty to re-contact the same pared to market research respondents to dig deeper competitors that have on insights, and the abilistrong demographic proty to get feedback on vidfiles of respondents, our eo, audio, image and even platform is particularly get consumers to send targeted and precise. But you pictures. On the othwe’ve been working on er hand, for people who SPECIAL the 1Q platform for years, answer questions, they Keith Rinzler, CEO and and every client has their love getting paid instantly founder of 1Q. own favorite feature. A for each question they annumber love our highly swer and they have the opsophisticated geotargeting capabilities that tion to donate the money they earn to charlet you zero in on customers who have visities. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. ited their stores within a specific time period. Others appreciate our commitment What types of businesses are using the to data quality and making sure there are service? no “bots” or professional survey takers on Our clients come in all shapes, sizes and the platform who are more concerned with sectors. They include Fortune 500 compamaking money than answering truthfully. And then there are those who appreciate Continued on page 6


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6 | Doing Business ■

Continued from page 5 nies, market research organizations, advertising and marketing agencies, and management consulting firms. Just in the metro Atlanta area, companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, Ted’s Montana Grill, Bain and Kids2Grow use the 1Q platform. Unlike some competitors that force you to start at a very high price-point, we can scale up or down to solve a customer engagement and market research challenge. Our pricing is radically simple: $1 per response. Period. We provide solutions both for companies that have a few hundred dollars and a few hundred thousand to spend on market research. We’ve had companies testing Super Bowl commercials, asking consumers to take pictures of store shelves to see product placement, and inquiring about straightforward questions like eating habits, how they invest money, or political opinions.


How is the pandemic affecting the survey business? The market research industry has been challenged by the pandemic, particularly traditional market research companies that specialize in things like in-person focus groups. Obviously, gathering people in-person is a non-starter in the midst of a pandemic. However, similar to how the pandemic has led many employers to become more reliant on digital communication tools like Zoom and Slack, marketers and consumer research specialists have sought out digital research tools like 1Q that can quickly deliver results anywhere and anytime. We nearly doubled our revenue in 2020 compared to 2019, and we had our highest revenue month ever in September 2020.

The following businesses recently opened in Reporter communities. GOLFTEC Sandy Springs, golf instruction and club fitting center, 6329 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Hotel Colee, 3377 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. Indie Studios, workspace for designers and creative companies, 190 Ottley Drive, Buckhead. Orthopedic Cortisone Injection Center, orthopedic pain relief practice, 1705B Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Village Supply, pop-up space for food and lifestyle brands, especially minority- and women-owned, Buckhead Village District, 272 Buckhead Ave., Buckhead.

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Food & Drink | 7

Food For Thought: The General Muir’s chef chats about opening in City Springs BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN An outpost of the popular Emory Point restaurant and delicatessen The General Muir opened its doors at City Springs on Jan. 13. The Rye Restaurants group, of which chef Todd Ginsberg is a partner, has five other eateries around Atlanta: West Egg Cafe, TGM Bread, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla and Wood’s Chapel BBQ. Ginsberg, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, was a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef (Southeast) in 2014 and 2015. His career began at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta and continued at the Michelinstarred Lucas Carton in Paris and Alain Ducasse in New York. Back in Atlanta, he helmed the kitchen at Bocado before launching the General Muir at Emory in 2013, which became an instant success. The General Muir is named after the vessel that carried co-owner Jennifer Johnson’s family, who were Holocaust refugees, to the United States following World War II. The restaurant serves pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup, burgers and bagel sandwiches, among other traditional Jewish delicacies, as well as fried chicken and spaghetti suppers. The new location is in Sandy Springs’ civic center at 6405 Blue Stone Road, Suite 240, at the intersection with Johnson Ferry Road. For more information, see

that reports to me and then we have executive chefs in each of the restaurants, and they have their sous chefs, and I oversee them all to avoid those balls falling in the gutter. That’s my goal: keeping those balls going down the alley until it ends. How is this new location in Sandy Springs different from the one at Emory? It doesn’t differ too much, other than we’ve done a couple things cosmetically. At the other General Muir, there are pictures of our families on the walls, and here we have pictures and some memorabilia of people that we’ve met over the years since we opened the first one. The menus are the same, but I think we’re going to be selling a lot more bagels, pastrami and corned beef than at the other restaurant. The fried chicken that we had available only on Friday nights at the other General Muir we are doing every night here, and we’re also doing brisket every night.

Todd Ginsberg, chef and partner at the General Muir.

You oversee seven restaurants as chef. How do you not go crazy doing that? We have a huge support team that ensures no one goes crazy, and that way we don’t drop too many balls or have things fall through the cracks. I have a culinary director


What’s been the reaction so far? Some of the people that I’ve talked to that have been to both restaurants say it’s very consistent, and that’s been great to hear. Our number one goal was to bring our product and our brand to a new space and we wanted to make sure that people are enjoying it. A lot of them live closer to here than the other spot, so this is just around the corner for them. The feedback has been great. The community has wanted us from day one and they’re supporting us and are happy that we’re finally here.

What else would you like people to know about your restaurants? That we are a friendly and safe environment for people to work in as well as eat in; that we take safety and precautions very seriously during these times; that we are protecting our staff as well as our guests. In addition to that, we’re doing things that everybody grew up eating and we just try to do them a little better than they remember them.






8 | Food & Drink ■

Quick Bites BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Milkdrop, a pop-up specializing in biscuits and biscuit sandwiches, will open for business in February beside the Buttermilk Kitchen building at 4209 Roswell Road in Buckhead. Chef and owner Suzanne Vizethann oversees both ventures and describes this new one as “a chef-driven, made-to-order experience for our fellow Atlanta foodies.” Milkdrop was scheduled to begin taking pre-orders online starting on Feb. 1 for pick-up on Saturday, Feb. 6. Apt. 4B, a Caribbean restaurant and bar, is now open at 2293 Peachtree Street in Buckhead, in a space formerly occupied by 1 Kept. In charge is Haitian-born chef Dayana Joseph who “serves up inventive dishes like oxtail hummus and snapper ceviche that remix Caribbean standards with other global standouts to create something new, familiar and otherworldly, all at the same damn time,” according to Apt. 4B’s website. Botica has taken over the old Watershed locale at 1820 Peachtree Road in Buckhead with chef Mimmo Alboumeh, formerly of Red Pepper Taqueria, at the helm. Lebanese by birth, Alboumeh lived in Spain and Mexico, and his cooking is inspired by both countries. The menu features smoked meats and dressings, tacos, salsas, fish, cocktails and weekend brunch. Grand Lux Cafe has reopened after closing in 2020 due to the pandemic. Located at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, it first opened in August of 2018. Other restaurants at Phipps were not so lucky: Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse has had to close for good due to COVID-19, and so has The Tavern. Also, Lovies BBQ on Piedmont Road in Buckhead has shut its doors permanently. Recess, a “vegetable-centric, fine-casual” restaurant at Krog Street Market, will open a second location at 3150 Roswell Road in Buckhead later this year. Part of the Castellucci Hospitality Group, Recess will be positioned next to another CHG property, The Iberian Pig, at Hanover Buckhead Village. Storico Vino, an Italian wine bar, will start pouring at Buckhead Village, 3065 Peachtree Road, in the middle of February. “This Venetian-inspired concept will provide a variety of regional wines and small bites,” says its website. Wing It On!, serving fresh, non-frozen, all-natural chicken wings and “bigger, juicier, hand-crafted chicken sandwiches” plus seasoned fries, just opened its first branch in Georgia at 8290 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. CEO Matt Ensero said in a written statement, “Our dedication and commitment to exceptional wings, award-

A publicity photo of wings and other menu items at Wing It On.


winning sauces and a phenomenal customer experience is a perfect fit for local foodies and wing fans in Sandy Springs.” Plant Based Pizzeria launched on Jan.16 at 8540 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. The vegan joint serves flatbreads, calzones, pastas, breakfast, desserts, and, of course, a variety of pizzas, just like their first location in Virginia-Highland. Plant Based Pizzeria also operates a food truck around town with the motto “Eat Figs, Not Pigs” emblazoned on its side. “Everything is going great,” owner Paul Jordan wrote in an email. “Hours will be extended soon once we have a full staff hired. Every new customer that has come in loves the pizzas and burgers.” Kathleen’s Catch, a seafood market, is now open at 3434 Clairmont Road in Brookhaven. The owner is fishmonger Kathleen Hulsey, who already has locations in Milton and Johns Creek. The place sells fresh oysters, clams, shrimp, salmon, tuna pokes, crab, sandwiches, salads, ceviche, chowders and smoked trout dip, as well as traditional New England lobster rolls.


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Food & Drink | 9

Food for Thought | Brewing up a good time during the pandemic challenge Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant has opened its first location in Georgia at Lenox Marketplace, 3535 Peachtree Road in Buckhead, featuring an on-site brewery that can crank out 900 barrels of craft beer a year. Fare includes appetizers, tacos, pizzas, burgers sandwiches, salads, and entrees. A second location in the Perimeter Center area is in the works. Chief Operating Officer Joe Kopke provides details. For more information, see What challenges have you had so far? This is our first location in Georgia and we were slated to open in 2020. We had some construction delays due to the COVID pandemic. It definitely caused some constraints, and was the first roadblock in the process. Once we got into a position where we could move construction forward, we were then able to successfully open Iron Hill in Atlanta. You’re bringing quite a few jobs to the area as well, aren’t you? We are. You’re talking a hundred to a hundred-and-fifty per location. We will open at the Perimeter in the summer, it looks like, so definitely extending our footprint and looking for more potential sites as we grow. We start construction in February. Can you talk about the food and beer you

are serving? Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant is a craft kitchen and scratch brewery. We operate with the freshest ingredients and make creative dishes but we also make beer from scratch. Our basis and foundation has always been a restaurant that pairs our scratch beer with our handcrafted food so that they go together. I love beer but if you can have a beer with a dish that complements it, it really just makes the whole experience even better. Obviously as the landscape has changed and the craft brewery scene is pushing forward, there are different trends. Philly Phavorite is our number-one-selling IPA and pairs well with our signature Philly cheesesteak egg rolls. We are always looking to be at the forefront of beer and we fully understand what that scope looks like. We don’t try to be the trendiest, but we’re very meticulous, serious and disciplined about our approach to making beer. And then also bringing the restaurant along with it. Iron Hill has a history of philanthropy. Tell us about it. We have our Triple Chocolate Hill dessert, which is a double fudge brownie and vanilla ice cream, then it’s got peanut butter and caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and whipped cream, and it’s tied to a char-

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Joe Kopke, chief operating officer of Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant.

ity initiative across the company. For each one sold, we donate 75 cents to CureSearch, which is for children’s cancer, and another 75 cents to a local charity, the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. We’re always looking to do local fundraisers and engagement in the community and help out the best we can. What else should we know about Iron Hill? I think the people of Iron Hill are what make the brand. We have intelligent, incredibly hard-working brewers, we have talent-

ed chefs and leaders running the restaurant day in and day out with an intense focus on giving great hospitality and making amazing food and award-winning beer. Has the local reaction been good so far? It’s been great. A lot of beer is selling and we are fully ready to go, one guest at a time. It’s a hard time for everyone and we want to help people gather and get away from world problems, break bread and have a good experience in the restaurant. That’s really impactful in people’s lives.

2090 Dunwoody Club Drive Suite 107 Sandy Springs, GA 30350 770-396-0492

10 | Commentary

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Commentary / City annexations and tax abatements need reform Editor’s note: Annexations and tax breaks have become politically contentious issues between many county and city governments. DeKalb County and Brookhaven have been involved in recent legal disputes over both issues; in Atlanta, the city government and public school system have demanded more control over tax abatements granted by Fulton County’s development authority. The Reporter asked state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver to explain a package of legislation she is proposing to reform annexations and abatements. The creation of the new city of Sandy Springs in 2005 after political control of the Georgia General Assembly shifted to the Republicans impacted the local governments of existing cities and counties throughout the Atlanta region. Since 2005, all of Fulton County has been municipalized with the creation of new cities of Milton, Johns Creek and South Fulton and the expansion of existing cities. In DeKalb County, the city of Dunwoody was created in 2008, Brookhaven in 2012, Tucker in 2016, and Stonecrest in 2017. Other new cities have been proposed, the voters have voted against a few, and legislation to create more municipalities will be filed in the 2021 session. In and around all these incorporations are related annexations and expansions of new city lines with and without opposition, and many lawsuits. For many of these political creations, opposition has been contentious and costly, whether it has come from citizens or businesses. It is also true, however, that the new cities are popular with most voters, and the annexations have benefited businesses and cities. What is not clear is whether these changes have benefited the larger number of citizens who continue to live in unincorporated portions of counties. None of these new cities or annexations has been examined in view of comprehensive planning or economic development of the counties impacted. And most have offered new forms of tax benefits to developers and property owners as inducements to annexations. My district, HD 82, includes parts of Decatur, Brookhaven, Chamblee and Tucker, and has been ground central

in a variety of cityhood and annexaamends the Title 36-36-111 et seq annextion proposals. Prior maps have includation procedure by requiring the notice ed my neighborhood of Druid Hills in of the filing of the annexation petition efforts to incorporate what remains of to disclose any proposed tax abateunincorporated DeKalb County. ments, rebates or other financial incenI have filed proposed legislation tives that a development authority of(House Bills 23, 24 fers the annexing and 66) to strengthproperty owners. en the two existing Finally, HB 66 statutes that progrants standing to vide oversight to anany local school sysnexations and issutem or other governance of bonds in tax ing authority petiabatement offerings tioning for revenue (OCGA 36-36-110 and bond validation un111, and OCGA 36der OCGA 36-82-77. 82-77). The purpose Recently, a DeKalb of these measures Superior Court judge is to provide greater granted standing Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) is transparency and alto DeKalb County the state representative for District 82, which includes part of Brookhaven. low participation by School District in a impacted local govbond validation proernments, including school systems. My ceeding over the objection of a developfirst priority is to create public discusment authority. sion for citizens and all the interested Since prefiling these bills in Nogovernments and stakeholders to provember, I have met with lawyers for pose how we can improve the statutory Brookhaven and DeKalb County and processes for annexations and new citrepresentatives from the Association of ies. County Commissioners of Georgia and OCGA Title 36-36-110 et seq provides Georgia Cities United, and I have solica procedure for a county to object to a ited advice from many others. From petition for annexation filed with a city these discussions, I have made changes and for the Department of Community to early drafts based on good and generAffairs to create arbitration panels to ous advice. I am ready to and hope we hear the dispute based on specific stancan continue these helpful discussions dards, and this procedure most recently in hearings before the House Governhas been used by DeKalb County to obmental Affairs Committee and its new ject to an annexation filed by the city of chair, Darlene Taylor. Brookhaven. My bill, HB 23, gives the loOur current systems for city crecal Board of Education ability to file an ation and the multiple annexation proobjection to an annexation and utilize cedures need reform to create greater the arbitration panel review process. transparency and participation. The companion proposal, HB 24,

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Commentary | 11

Around Town As Janice Rothschild Blumberg saw it, Jan. 6, 2021, started out as a very fine day. It was the day after the runoff election and, as the votes were counted, Blumberg was rooting for the two Georgia Democrats running for U.S. Senate.

Janice Rothschild Blumberg.


By early that afternoon, Raphael Warnock had claimed election as the first Black U.S. senator from Georgia and Jon Ossoff was on his way to becoming the state’s first Jewish member of the U.S. Senate. Taken together, their election meant the Republicans would lose their senate majority and Democrats would control the national government. “I am ecstatically happy,” Blumberg said during a phone chat early that afternoon. “It couldn’t be better. It’s wonderful.” Then, suddenly, the tenor of things seemed to change. As Blumberg and I talked, texts started to appear on my phone saying something shocking was happening in Washington. I hung up and watched TV news broadcasts fill with pictures of the takeover of the U.S. Capitol by an armed and angry mob. The mob called for the recent elections to be thrown out, for White supremacy to rise again, and for resistance to the U.S. government. Some in the group carried Confederate Battle Flags

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

through the halls of the Capitol. After a while, I called Blumberg back to get her take on what was happening. She was horrified. “Unbelievable,” she said. Yet she said she had not abandoned hope. It was still a good day. “Look at what happened last night,” she said. “Look at what happened in Georgia. There’s still hope out there.” She’s seen political upheavals before and weathered her share of them. During her long and active life -- she turns 97 this month -- she has been a writer and public speaker and has led and worked with Jewish charities and organizations. Her first husband, Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, was a public critic of segregation and supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and was spiritual leader of The Temple in Atlanta when it was bombed in 1958. The Rothschilds were friends of Atlanta’s Civil Rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. Blumberg, who now lives in Buckhead, grew up in Druid Hills. “Atlanta was very different then, very different,” she said. “We were segregated Jewishly as well as we were racially.” She first met Rabbi Rothschild at the Standard Club, then a social club for the Jewish community that was located on Ponce de Leon Avenue. “Atlanta, and particularly the Jewish community, and particularly the Reformed Jewish community, was mostly the same people … Everybody knew everybody,” she said. She remembers the community was abuzz at the time about the new, young rabbi. “I saw him on a tennis court,” she said. “Someone said, ‘That’s the new rabbi. Want to meet him?’ He was being feted by every family with a young daughter… I think we knew [we belonged together] on our second date.” They told their family he proposed during a University of Georgia football game as they shared a poncho in a rainstorm, she said. Actually, she said, he had brought up the subject the night before by giving her a cartoon showing a man on bended knee who was saying, “It’s simple. You just ask.” They told her mother that night and the rest of the family the next day, after the game. She said she first met Martin Luther King through her mother. Her mother was hosting a European journalist who wanted to meet civil rights activists in At-

A changing Georgia echoes the Civil Rights years lanta, so a dinner was arranged at Paschal’s, a well-known restaurant. King dropped by to chat. A few months later, Blumberg recalled, King was arrested during a protest and Blumberg called Coretta to offer her sympathy. They hit it off. “As standoffish as she seemed to be with the public, somehow she talked to me like a sister,” Blumberg said. “I felt very big-sisterly to her.” They had much in common. Both had young children and were married to prominent men who took public positions that made them enemies who regularly threatened to do them harm. Blumberg said there were threats against her, too. The threats against Rabbi Rothschild turned into real-life harm on Oct. 12, 1958, when The Temple was bombed. Dynamite severely damaged the building, but no one was killed. The community rallied around the congregation and public figures from the mayor of Atlanta to the president of the United States quickly condemned the bombing. “A Republican


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president [spoke out against the bombing] on the eve of mid-term elections,” she said. “He answered from his heart, and what he did, he did from the heart. He sent in the FBI.” Yet no one ever was convicted for the bombing. And Blumberg believes echoes of those times continue today. Some politicians still offer support to right-wing extremists, including those who help stir up the mob that took over the Capitol last month. She thinks of Joseph McCarthy and others. “We’re living through some parallels to that time,” she said. I called Blumberg again on Inauguration Day. She’d watched on TV as the country had installed a new president. Georgia was being represented in Congress by two new senators. Was she hopeful? “You bet I am, I certainly am,” she said. “[There’s] a decent, kind person in there and I think he’s very smart and … he’s got really knowledgeable people around him giving advice.” It looked like things were changing. Look at what happened in Georgia.

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12 | Commentary ■

Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at

Northside Hospital has announced an urgent need for COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP), the clear liquid part of the blood from recovered COVID-19 patients containing potentially life-saving virus antibodies. Granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA last August, CCP is given to hospitalized COVID-19 patients as soon after diagnosis as possible and has helped more than 100,000 sick Americans. Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the DunwoodyBut demand is up, and supply is down. What gives? Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire According to Carrie Cox, executive of Atlanta Blood Services (ABS), a major others. Contact her director at local supplier of CCP, only 3% of eligible donors normally give blood. “We’ve also seen a higher rate of cancellations [of donor appointments] because of potential illness,” Cox said, “and many people are staying home.” All that’s required to donate is that you: are age 17 or older; weigh at least 110 pounds; have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis; are at least 14 days without symptoms; pass a hemoglobin test to assure a healthy iron blood count; have normal blood pressure, pulse and temperature; are in general good health and have not been vaccinated. “There’s no upper age limit,” said Cox, “but if you’re over 70, we’ll reach out to your doctor to be sure it’s safe for you to donate.” Prime donors are people who have recovered in the last 14 to 90 days because they have the highest level of antibodies. Most needed are blood types B and AB, with rare AB- the universal plasma donor. Surprisingly, since the virus is not transmitted through blood, you can donate even if you’re still COVID positive but no longer have symptoms. The whole process takes about two-and-a-half hours, with about two hours for the withdrawal. “There’s one big needle stick, and you have to keep your arm straight and still,” said Cox. “We keep you warm and feed you snacks while you watch a movie on a Kindle on a little TV cart.” For most donations, Atlanta Blood Services uses an apheresis machine, with one


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How to join the local plasma donors who are helping to fight COVID-19 needle and two tubes that withdraw your plasma and return the rest of the blood to you. Unlike a whole-blood donation, which yields only one plasma dose per donation, the apheresis machine yields up to four doses per donation, enabling one donor to help four patients. To find out more, I spoke with some recent donors, many of whom have donated multiple times. For some, donating is a family affair. Dr. Lonnie Herzog, an internal medicine physician, and his wife Kim and daughter Nikki donated their CCP to ABS together. His son, Dr. Alex Herzog, who had not had the virus, joined them for moral support. SPECIAL “We were fortunate Dr. Lonnie Herzog, left, donates convalescent plasma while to have mild cases and getting moral support from son and fellow physician Alex. recovered quickly without any complications,” said Herzog. “It was important to be able to give as a family.” Dunwoody sales engineer Chris Germann, diagnosed in late July, was “wiped out for two days.” “I self-quarantined in the basement for 10 days. My wife opened the door and threw food down. When I was thirsty, I went outside to the sprinkler. Nobody else got it,” he said. A sense of humor helps. With AB- blood, Germann is a universal plasma donor, has donated CCP three times (plus more than 25 units of platelets since 2015) and considers donating personal downtime. “The hardest part is sitting still for two hours,” he said. “The needle doesn’t hurt as much as pulling the tape off, and you get to watch a movie, drink water or juice and eat junk food.” Sandy Springs marketing executive Sarah Anne Dickman was sick for eight days in December and has already donated and scheduled a second appointment. “I didn’t know about CCP till I read about it on Facebook,” she said. “It might seem intimidating, but it’s just a needle stick.” Dunwoody teacher Stacey Asher was sick for a week in July and has donated five times, sometimes while attending virtual faculty meetings. “It helps more people than you know,” she said. And do patients who receive CCP ever give back? Attorney Richard Morgan did. In November, hospitalized in the ICU at Northside with COVID-19 and double-pneumonia, his oxygen level “plummeted” so low he was told “it could go either way.” Within 24 hours of receiving CCP and other experimental medications, his body started fighting back. “The doctors were shocked at my fast turn-around,” he wrote in his newsletter. He’s now a CCP donor at ABS. Atlanta Blood Services has locations at Northside Hospital Sandy Springs and Marietta. For information, go to




Community | 13

City Council favors seeking new TSPLOST without Ga. 400 bus transit BY BOB PEPALIS


The City Council favors seeking a renewal of a transportation-funding sales tax on the November ballot — but without including a long-awaited bus rapid transit service on Ga. 400 and other corridors. A current five-year transportation special local-option sales tax (TSPLOST) is set to expire in March 2022. Without a renewal, the city would have to forgo or find other money for future projects or finishing some major ones on the current TSPLOST list, including a massive widening of part of Hammond Drive. The council and Mayor Rusty Paul discussed the options in a non-voting work session Jan. 19. Several councilmembers said highways and local streets remain relatively empty without traffic jams because of the pandemic. Coupled with many businesses planning to continue telework for a significant portion of their employees’ time, selling voters on adding the bus rapid transit (BRT) to a referendum would be challenging, they said. TSPLOST is a Fulton County sales tax to fund transportation improvements within the participating cities. Voters approved the current TSPLOST in a referendum in November 2016, with collection of the 0.75 percent (3/4 of a cent) sales tax beginning in April 2017 for projects that were designated on the ballot. The county administration is now considering possibilities for a new TSPLOST. One option would fund MARTA-operated BRT in North Fulton using Ga. 400 toll lanes already funded and scheduled for construction by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The BRT would run between North Springs MARTA Station in Sandy Springs and Windward Parkway in Alpharetta, with three specialty BRT stations built along that route. The TSPLOST money would fund construction of those stations and comparable stations in a South Fulton Parkway BRT route connecting to the Airport MARTA Station. The current TSPLOST included funding for design and right-of-way acquisition for the Hammond Drive widening project west of Ga. 400 to Roswell Road. But road construction funding was not included. The city would need to decide what projects to include in another TSPLOST based on anticipated funding. The Hammond Drive project would need to be put on that list and the referendum would need voter approval from all of Fulton County excluding Atlanta, or the city would have to find another funding source for the estimated $34 million construction cost. Similarly, if the TSPLOST referendum fails or if it does not include an option providing transit funding, BRT will be delayed until another source of local funding is found. “We don’t know the impact of work at home initiatives even beyond COVID. But we’re talking with clients about perhaps permanently reducing their in-office work staff by 20%,” said Councilmember Chris Burnett. “And so that each employee gets one day to work at home a week, even after COVID is gone. And you can imag-

ine a reduction of 20% per day and cars on our roads.” He called adding transit to TSPLOST a tough sell for voters. A sore point for local voters is not knowing how the city has used funds from the existing TSPLOST, Councilmember Andy Bauman said. Many projects are still in design stages and have not started construction.

TSPLOST options

In a meeting with mayors on Jan. 8, county officials asked them to determine which TSPLOST option their city councils would support. The county proposed three options. The first continues the sales tax at its current level of 0.75%, which they estimate would generate approximately $500 million over five years for 13 cities (excepting Atlanta, which has its own TSPLOST). Sandy Springs would again get approximately 20% of the total, based on its population. The second option would retain the 0.75% tax rate but split it between BRT and the cities’ own transportation projects. That effectively lowers the share for the cities to $300 million, with the other $200 million designated for BRT. The third option would raise the TSPLOST to one penny (1%). The cities would keep the current funding levels, with the increase in the tax raising collections to fund the $200 million needed for

BRT project construction. Since a tight timeline exists to put the TSPLOST referendum on the November ballot, the county wants an answer from the cities by their next joint meeting on Feb. 8.

Transit funding hopes

Paul said some North Fulton mayors feared that putting a TSPLOST on the same ballot as some 2022 municipal elections would make transportation dominate the campaigns. He said they did not want to lose a year’s worth of funding. And there was not support for the BRT option, Paul reported. “I don’t think there’s support among the mayors either north or south [Fulton] to include transit in the next TSPLOST,” Paul said. Paul said he thinks the cities are missing an opportunity to leverage local funds for federal dollars under the new administration of President Biden, which proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure initiative even before the Jan. 20 inauguration. Councilmember John Paulson said he would hate to pass up on possible federal funding at this early stage. The state put $100 million into construction of toll lanes on Ga. 400 and the exit ramps leading to the three proposed BRT stations. It also funded lanes and ramps for the BRT line planned along South Fulton Parkway to the Airport

MARTA Station. Another $200 million is needed to construct the BRT stations in North and South Fulton. Failure to provide that funding will delay the start of BRT. “MARTA remains committed to partnering with Fulton County and its cities to deliver on their transit needs as outlined in the Fulton County Transit Master Plan as funding allows,” said Stephany Fisher, a MARTA spokesperson. “We have made significant investments in the planning of bus rapid transit projects on Ga. 400 and South Fulton Parkway, but a new local funding commitment is required for construction.” She said MARTA is confident ridership will increase when metro Atlanta sees the return of large-scale gatherings and business and leisure travel, and employees returning to the office. GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry, who is a MARTA board member, said in a Jan. 20 Georgia General Assembly budget hearing that traffic on rural routes has returned to normal and urban highway traffic is close to normal levels. The city has had discussions with the cities in the counties along the northern rim of I-285. From Tucker to Smyrna, there’s almost universal support that any future transit needs to be BRT, Paul said, which is cheaper than rail.


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14 | Community ■

City Council approves $4 million in TSPLOST intersection, sidewalk bids

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The City Council has approved almost $4 million in bids for an intersection improvement project and a sidewalk project funded by a special sales tax. It also directed the city attorney to move ahead with eminent domain for a roundabout project. The Roswell Road and Grogans Ferry Road intersection project and a Roberts Road sidewalk project were approved by the City Council during its Jan. 5 meeting. A TSPLOST roundabout project at Northside Drive at Riverside Road/Old Powers Ferry Road hit a snag when a residential property owner at 5330 Northside Drive NW refused an offer of $102,400 for easements and right-of-way for the project. The Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax voters approved in November 2016 devotes its revenues to several specific projects. The five-year, 0.75% sales tax began in April 2017. The tax collection will stop on March 30, 2022 or when the maximum of $655 million is collected in all of Fulton County, excluding Atlanta which has its own TSPLOST. City Council told Mayor Rusty Paul to tell the Fulton Board of Commissioners they want a renewal of TSPLOST without a bus rapid transit option. Paul and other county mayors met with the commission on Jan. 9, at which time they were asked to survey their city councils on a status quo option and two TSPLOST options with transit. The mayors next meet with the commission on Feb. 8. City Attorney Dan Lee’s recommendation to use eminent domain to acquire easements from a residential property owner for the Northside roundabout was approved by City Council. Councilmembers have not been pleased with eminent domain proceedings in the past, having rejected one proposed settlement to send it to trial. For the roundabout project, the city wanted 7,562 square feet for right-of-way, 905 square feet of permanent easement RUSTY PAUL and 5,110 square feet of temporary ease- MAYOR ment from property owner Jerry A. Wells. The city’s land acquisition firm and staff have exhausted negotiations with the property owner, who Lee said has obtained a lawyer. An appraiser set the property value at $102,400, which was rejected by the property owner. “He sent me a letter in response to my inquiry to say that he is adamantly opposed to the project in general and I take it to mean all aspects of it and its effect on him,” Lee said. Martin said the project will solve a longstanding sight-distance issue at the intersection. “You’re taking your life in your hands when you’re trying to go down Riverview, coming out of Riverview, as it’s really blind to your right as you are coming out,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. The project schedule shows construction beginning as soon as March with an anticipated construction completion date of March 21, 2022. In November 2019, the city had anticipated construction completion five months earlier on Sept. 29, 2021. The Roswell Road Grogans Ferry Road intersection project may begin construction in 60 days depending on issuance of permits, Public Works Director Marty Martin said. Completion is expected within 18 months of the start date under the $3.6 million contract awarded to Ohmshiv Construction, he said. “This will be a significant undertaking for us in this case, because of some of the associated widening with this project to create turn lanes and allow turn lanes at the new signalized intersection. There will be some major utility relocations associated with this project,” Martin said. The project will create a signalized intersection with dividing medians, curb and gutter, erosion control, pedestrian improvements and streetscape lighting, he said. The goal is to make a more efficient stretch of Roswell Road and a safer intersection. The council also accepted SD&C’s $327,215 bid to construct 1,020 linear feet of 6-footwide sidewalk with curb and gutter and a 2-foot landscape buffer on Roberts Drive south of Northridge Road to the Davis Academy. It will have a handrail for pedestrians but not a guardrail, Martin said.

You’re taking your life in your hands when you’re trying to go down Riverview, coming out of Riverview, as it’s really blind to your right as you are coming out.


Education | 15


City approves daycare use at former Highpoint Episcopal Church BY BOB PEPALIS A conditional use permit for private school and daycare use at the former Highpoint Episcopal Church site at 4945 High Point Road was approved by the City Council on Jan. 19. St. Martin’s Episcopal School, based on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven, scaled back its request for children back down to 60 after asking for an increase to 100 in its last community meeting and at the Planning Commission. The daycare use received community support, as long as the school sticks to 60 students. “We have heard from them a request to extend their enrollment to 100. We’re happy to hear that they are not going that far,” said Duffy Hickey, president of the High Point Community Association and a


neighbor to the property. “We want them to start with 60 we’re really happy with that change of plan. And, you know, we look forward to a successful school that enhances our neighborhood and creates a great relationship between our neighbors, our association and St. Martin’s.” Ronda Smith, president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, shared her board’s support of the daycare use. “This use will breathe new life into a currently nearly dormant church facility that just a year ago, unfortunately, lost the last of its long attending congregation,” Smith said. “It is the Council of Neighborhoods’ hope that this use will have minimal impact on the surrounding protective neighborhoods, as it does add additional car trips during the peak hours to High Point Road where three

other school uses already exist.” Those schools include High Point Elementary, Atlanta Jewish Academy and Congregation Beth Tefillah’s preschool. Two large yellow school buses parked on the site along one neighbor’s property line, and four shuttle buses across the parking lot near another residential property, drew concern from neighbors that it would become a parking lot. Den Webb, an attorney representing the school, said the two large buses and two of the shuttle buses would be removed from the property. The new daycare and preschool would need two shuttle buses to transport older students from High Point Road to Brookhaven for opportunities not offered in Sandy Springs. Those include a science lab, an art studio and a library. “The intent is to allow the older stu-

dents at the daycare to have access to those who may be ferried back and forth on the shuttle buses,” he said. He offered another condition that allowed the school to park two shuttle buses overnight on site. City Council approved the conditional use permit, adding Webb’s condition to city planning staff’s requirements on the site. The public hearing was held in a hybrid fashion with councilmembers, local residents and staff in their offices and homes. A few staff members were in the City Springs Studio Theater to follow the requirement to offer in-person public comment, though the only public comment came via Zoom and a written comment.

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Fulton County Schools plans to allow courses in Black and women’s studies BY BOB PEPALIS

The Fulton County School System has proposed allowing high schools to introduce courses in Black and women’s studies intended to address diversity and inclusion. The classes, named “Introduction to African-American/Black Studies” and “Introduction to U.S Women’s Studies,” were discussed in a Jan. 12 Fulton Board of Education work session. On. Jan. 21, the board held its first reading of the proposal in a regular session. Per policy, the proposal must be considered for a month. The courses will return to the board’s work session agenda on Feb. 9, Brian Noyes, FCS spokesperson said. If no changes or other issues arise, the board will put the proposal on its regular meeting on Feb. 18 for a vote. Alpharetta High School asked to add both social studies courses to its curriculum. But any high school that is interested can offer the courses if they are approved by the Fulton County Board of Education, Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones said during the first reading of the proposal. The courses would explore culture, history, art and accomplishments of Black people and women in America, Jones said. They also would address a march towards societal and political equity and equality. “I just want to say thank you,” said board member Franchesca Warren about the African American/Black Studies course. “This is a course that I want to take as an adult.” She asked if any guidance was available to schools on the textbook or type of text students will read for the course. If the course is approved, teachers would be brought together to make a recommended text to the board, Jones said. Any school wanting to offer a new course has to present registration materials. They must make sure a certified teacher is on staff who can teach the course. “Enough students have to select the course for it to make it in the schedule in the fall. That’s how that process works,” Jones said. Board member Kimberly Dove said the district’s communities want to offer the courses to students. “And it’s going to present a challenge to our educators and schedulers. But definitely, it’s something we’re looking forward to implementing,” she said. Students taking either course would receive a half-credit. The Georgia Department of Education approved both courses in August 2020. They are eligible for full-time equivalent (FTE) funding from the state, which is based on student population.

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Arts & Entertainment | 17

Author Q & A Meet the mothers of three Civil Rights icons BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN

something they didn’t necessarily receive themselves.

What would you like people to take away from reading your book?

Religious leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and author James Baldwin have become enduring icons of the Civil Rights movement. But what about Alberta King, Louise Little and Berdis Baldwin -- the mothers who raised them? The rarely discussed influence of those women is the subject of Anna Malaika Tubbs’ new book “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation.” A doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge, Tubbs is a sociologist, anthropologist and expert in multidisciplinary studies. Outside academia, she is a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant. Tubbs will appear in a virtual SPECIAL author talk at the Atlanta HistoAnna Malaika Tubbs. ry Center on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. Registration for the free discussion is available at AtlantaHistoryCenter. com.

I absolutely agree. They were trying to push the country generally to their ideals and a vision of what was possible, because they saw so clearly that it wasn’t true in the United States. They understood they had value and worth, that they and their children deserved respect and dignity, but each day they also saw examples of that being denied to them as well as to their children. They were constantly focused on their vision for the future, helping the world realize their own ability to see humanity in everybody. And so they commanded respect in their own households and it’s very clear that the sons knew how influential their mothers were. All three of the sons later spoke about how powerful and important their mothers were within those family units. Away from their personal connections, people were not paying them the honor and respect they were due.

The biggest thing is that we re-evaluate how we’re telling our stories and history so that it includes the people that are around all of us. So, less of this notion of unicorn figures who pop up out of nowhere and are messiah-like, as if they were just born with these inspiring ideas, but to see more realistically things that were part of generational movements. Then we get a better understanding of the continuance of the work, and of where we are as a nation, and the world. Beyond that, we are specifically focusing on the stories we are intentionally erasing, and these are just three examples. Again, the sons spoke about their mothers often, and if you go back through their works with that lens, you’re going to see the moms so much more clearly because the sons had no intention of erasing their mothers. It’s up to us historians to pay more attention and stop taking for granted the work that women have been doing on our behalf, especially Black women and Black mothers.

Why choose these women in particular for your book? There are so many women I could have chosen, but I wanted to highlight Black women’s stories and talk about Black mothers, so I chose these three because their sons are so often put in conversation together. When I entered my Ph.D. [program], I had just watched the “I Am Not Your Negro” documentary based on James Baldwin’s writings, in which he speaks about Malcolm X and MLK and of bearing witness to his friends’ work, and how he felt it was his job to speak the truth about what they were doing, what they were accomplishing for our country and our world, and from that point on I saw these three men as being in a constant conversation together. I felt their moms would add an incredible, beautiful layer to the story and help us understand how all three men approached their work so differently based on what they were taught in their own families. All three moms were born within six years of each other and the sons were born within five years of each other. That allowed me to have some really cool intersections in terms of their stories and their timelines, about what was happening nationally and internationally, and how it played out so differently in each of their lives based on their own access to resources, education, etcetera. It’s interesting that all three mothers taught their sons to command respect,




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BY COLLIN KELLEY Plans to hold summer camps for kids are, as one organizer put it, moving “full steam ahead” but with COVID-19 safety precautions still in place. While camps were cancelled or curtailed last year due to the pandemic, the vaccine and a better understanding of the safety precautions needed to hold camp sessions mean organizations can plan ahead. Registration is now open for most camp programs. Pace Academy in Buckhead will have a full slate of camps, according to Zach Slaney, the school’s director of auxiliary programs. “We are moving ahead at full steam with our programs for this summer,” Slaney said. “Pace will be offering athletic, academic, STEM, and specialty camp offerings for campers in grades K-8 for eight weeks between June 1 and July 30.” Registration opened in January at Pace and Slaney expects the slots to fill up quickly. Visit paceacademy. org. Similarly, Westminster in Buckhead will hold its

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summer camps with the “same COVID safety protocols in place that allowed us to safely host several of our day camps last summer,” according to the school’s communications assistant director Justin Abraham. “Some of those protocols include mask wearing for campers and counselors, temperature screening, scheduled handwashing times, social distancing, and extra cleaning and disinfecting of spaces and equipment throughout the day,” Abraham said. Along with day and sports camps featuring outdoor activities, there are a number of specialty camps being offered by Westminster including filmmaking, chess, coding, and even one for Dungeons & Dragons. Visit for a complete schedule and to register. In the City Camps will host summer sessions at two locations this year – Chabad Intown on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail and at the Weber School in Sandy Springs – for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade. Spokesperson Tali Benjamin said In the City Camps is working with medical experts to be sure about COVID-19 precautions for the summer. “We ran a modified version of our camps safely for four weeks last summer, so we do have a lot of experience with that this year,” Benjamin said. Benjamin said as much outdoor programming as possible was being scheduled so that kids won’t be cooped up inside a closed space. She said partnering with Chabad Intown would give campers plenty of opportunities to be outside on the BeltLine. Some of the camp offerings include basketball, magic, art, soccer, archery, cooking and more. Visit for more details. Budding actors can check out the Alliance Theatre’s series of in-person and virtual camps for all grade levels scheduled for spring and summer. Camps will be held not only at the Alliance’s home base of Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown, but in partnership with schools around the city. From performing on stage as part of a musical to working behind the scenes, there’s a camp for all interests and ages. Visit for details.

20 | Arts & Entertainment ■

2021 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival returns virtual and live


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A scene from “The Crossing,” a 2020 adventure story about a girl who treks across Norway’s wilderness to save two Jewish child refugees in World War II.

BY COLLIN KELLEY The 2021 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) will present its lineup virtually and live with a three-night drive-in experience at the Home Depot Backyard adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Downtown. Set to take place Feb. 17-28, this year’s festival will screen 38 feature and 16 short films, including world and U.S. premieres. The film selection covers a range of genres, including documentaries “Howie Mandel: But, Enough About Me” and “On Broadway” comedies like “Shiva Baby,” the LGBTQ+ feature “Kiss Me Kosher,” and the drama “Asia.” It’s a big adaptation for a festival that, in the pre-pandemic years, drew more than 40,000 to several theaters and venues, including the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. “In a year of firsts and unprecedented challenges, AJFF has worked tirelessly to reimagine the annual festival in a way that preserves the most cherished qualities of this annual celebration of community and the cinematic arts,” AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank said in a press release. “Though the experience itself will be undeniably different, the power of these films to connect and inspire us is more deeply felt and appreciated than ever. Our hybrid edition embraces all of the opportunities that virtual affords us while continuing our commitment to bring audiences ‘together through film’ in new ways.” The pandemic itself is addressed in the film “Atlanta: The City Too Busy to Wait,” a documentary about the local Jewish community’s response to the crisis. The 11-acre Home Depot Backyard will be able to accommodate more that 200 vehicles nightly for social-distanced drive-in screenings on Feb.18, 20 and 21. The live shows kick off with AJFF’s Young Professionals Night, followed by two campy, kitschy Hollywood classics: Mel Brooks’ sci-fi spoof “Spaceballs” and the musical comedy “Little Shop of Horrors.” Each drive-in pass can be purchased for $40 and accounts for parking for one car, regardless of how many people are in the vehicle. Food trucks will be on-site serving food for moviegoers to enjoy in their vehicles. For those watching from home, the lineup of films will be accessible via smart TV, home theater, tablet or mobile device. Requiring only a single ticket per film for each household, viewers will have a flexible 48-hour window to watch festival films at their convenience. General admission for virtual screenings is $16 per household (or $14 early bird pricing), and for special events, which include Opening and Closing Nights, admission is $36 per household. Film-lovers will also enjoy an expanded program of virtual Q&A conversations recorded with filmmakers, actors and other guest speakers. The “Virtual Lobby,” featuring a series of lunchtime Zoom sessions with facilitated discussion, will take a deeper dive into films on show during the festival. Ticket holders for the opening night screening of “Kiss Me Kosher” will receive a specially curated “Festival-In-A-Box” full of “tasty and cozy surprises.” Tickets went on sale in late January for members and will be available to the general public on Feb. 10. For tickets and a full lineup of films and events, visit


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22 | Community ■

Most incumbents undecided on mayoral, City Council campaigns Continued from page 1

Sandy Springs. I am proud of what we have done to support our businesses, and I want possible re-election campaign. In response to continue to advocate for them,” she to re-election questions, he said he is not said.” I also want to do what I can to offer ready to discuss city elections at this time. the best access to vaccines to our citizens.” Incumbents have several months beDistrict 1 Councilmember Paulson has fore they must decide. The council has not decided if he would run for reelection. set candidate qualifying dates of Aug. 16But he has no plans for any other office. 20. Qualifying fees were set at $1,200 for “After 11 plus years on the council I am mayor and $540 for council seats. A canditrying to balance my incrementally indate must be a city resident for at least 12 creasing retiring plans and activities with ANDY BAUMAN CHRIS BURNETT JODY REICHEL months prior to the election date. Council contributing my community service as candidates must reside in the disa councilman,” Paulson said. “I trict they plan to represent for at enjoy being on the council and least six months. believe I have contributed to The Reporter asked all City the positive growth and matuCouncil members if they planned rity of Sandy Springs. That beto run for reelection and whether ing said, there is a lot going on they planned a run for mayor or in Sandy Springs currently and any other position. much more to come, all of which “I do plan on running for reI have a keen interest in helping election in November,” said DeJuto guide our city going forward.” lio, who represents District 5. “I’ve District 2 Councilmember been working on and for Sandy JOHN PAULSON RUSTY PAUL TIBBY DEJULIO STEVE SOTERES Soteres only said, “I’m undecidSprings since I started with Eve ed” in his email reply and did not District 4 Councilmember Reichel plans I expect that to happen in my next term,” Galambos in 1987. And I am the only origianswer other questions. to run for reelection to continue to serve she said. nal council member left.” Burnett, the District 3 council member, and represent her district’s views and be its Reichel said she is also interested in sevHe said he brings stability and history also has not made his decision on re-elecvoice on the council. eral projects in the North End, including to the city and has no plans for personal tion, a mayoral run or any other position. “I have enjoyed getting to know my contrails, redevelopment of shopping centers gain, only wanting what’s best for city resi“At this point, I am not prepared to comstituents and feel like my job is not done. I and access to the river. Adding pickleball dents. DeJulio said he has no plans for any ment on my future plans for public seram focused on working with Fulton Councourts in city parks is another of her goals. other office, he just wants to continue to vice. In the coming months, I will discuss ty Schools in getting a new building for “COVID has added additional challengimprove the lives of city residents. this with my family, and we will make a deNorth Springs [High School] students, and es for the citizens and business owners in

2021 could be year of North End plans and water rate cuts Continued from page 1

to be done. The concepts propse mixed-use redevelopments with homes and stores. Demand for retail has dropped even faster during the pandemic, said Sarah McColley of TSW, a consultant for the North End planning. A high demand exists for a variety of housing options, and city residents want a mix of housing types. And support exists for public funding of infrastructure and parks to gain high quality development, “attainable” housing and more green space. The city can realize anywhere from $1 million to $9 million revenue over 5 years with redevelopment of the sites through property and sales taxes, Geoff Koski, president of KB Advisory Group said. “The biggest driver of increased revenue in all scenarios is property value driven by residential unit density,” he said. But to attain workforce and affordable housing options that the city and its residents set as goals for redevelopment, it has to address an affordability gap between how much it costs to build new residential units and what a family can pay. Households making $50,000 to $60,000, people KB Advisory Group’s Jonathan Gelber called the “people doing the backbone of work in the city” such as teachers, firefighters and police officers, might be able to afford up to $180,000 for a home. But the cost to build a typical new apartment in the city’s North End is $225,000 to $260,000. The city can step in to cover the gap,

he said, through options such as tax credits, opportunity zones and allowing greater density. Other options include tax allocation districts and tax abatements, and assistance through the city Development Authority for low-cost financing and bonds to reduce property taxes temporarily. Parking bonds to support parking deck construction is another method to assist with the $40,000 to $50,000 cost per space. For affordable housing, Councilmember Jody Reichel asked to hear more about the ability to purchase properties on these sites and not just apartments. Gelber said the sites depend on multifamily housing economically, but if the city allows considerable density, townhomes are an option. Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said he does not want the city to speculate and buy any of the properties to foster redevelopment. “I’m not comfortable putting a lot of the city’s funds for property now we have to sell,” he said. Councilmember John Paulson said there has to be an end where the city gets the taxpayer’s money back in relation to any incentives. He was open to additional density or building a park on a site, but was not interested in the city becoming a long-term owner. He was only interested in helping with early funding if a provision existed to get the taxpayers’ money back. Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio, who helped craft the city’s current zoning code, will draft regulations that will be

specific to those four shopping centers to allow greater density in what have been proposed as mixed-use developments adding residential units and green space to each site. Consultants with KB Advisory Group were asked to bring back more details on methods to give developers incentives to redevelop the sites, but without the city necessarily spending money. Those include tax allocation districts, which fund infrastructure within the specified area using a portion of the taxes generated directly by those properties. Tax abatements also were suggested, which may use development authorities to enable a reduction of taxes through a lease-bond agreement. Councilmember John Paulson said the city may later want to adopt zoning changes made for these four sites to other parts of the city, but not for now. “My take, this is a one-step-at-a-time deal,” he said. “Let’s address the North End, see how viable it is. If a good idea does surface, then we can try it elsewhere.”

Water dispute

Sandy Springs alleges its residents pay an unnecessary 25% surcharge for water services provided by Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management in an arrangement dating back long before the 2005 cityhood. Sandy Springs has variously sought to renegotiate the rate or to take over control of the water system. Sandy Springs has two pending legal challenges in the dispute. A 2009 lawsuit questioning the lack of a written inter-

governmental agreement about the water service has spent years before a courtappointed special master. In 2018, Sandy Springs filed another lawsuit directly challenging the rate and alleging that Atlanta violated the state Open Records Act by not disclosing documents. Last year, Sandy Springs sought to take the 2009 lawsuit back to court. Atlanta has challenged the move, according to Sandy Springs City Attorney Dan Lee, and now the Georgia Supreme Court is expected to rule on the question by early March. A return to court could be a powerful lever to negotiations. Lee said no justification has been offered for the surcharge. Water system experts hired by Sandy Springs say it should cost less to deliver water to city customers from a Johns Creek treatment facility than it costs for Atlanta customers to receive water from its Hemphill facility, Lee said. That negates any reason for a surcharge. “The issue that we have for them in court is our citizens don’t get to vote for the people who set the price,” Lee said. Lee also alleges Atlanta has been slow to make repairs and fails to invest in the upkeep of the water delivery system in the city, he said. “As I said, when we launched this particular ship, this was going to take at least a decade,” Paul said. “Because I anticipated the city of Atlanta would throw every obstacle and use every delaying tactic possible. And that is proven to be the case.”



Community | 23

cision together on what comes next,” Burnett said. District 6 Councilmember Bauman was not ready to make a decision on a council or if he’d run for mayor. “I’m not yet prepared to comment on my plans for our municipal elections in November. We have just come through a long and contentious campaign season, and I think we all need a little break,” he said. He said he felt privileged to represent his district and all Sandy Springs residents. “The past year has been challenging in many ways, but we have so much to be grateful for in our city. I am giving the most thoughtful consideration I can to determine how I can best continue to serve our community in the coming years, and I am sure I will have more to say on this in the next couple of months,” Bauman said. Issues city government will face Valerie Habif, a Sandy Springs resident and co-founder of the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon of Atlanta, said the November elections suggest that many suburbs are going blue, and the effects of that should be seen in municipalities. Municipal elections are nonpartisan, but they still should reflect the interests of their constituents, she said. “We would like to see issues we care about and advocates for those issues on our City Council,” Habif said. She said this is the perfect time to talk about such issues. The nonpartisan nature of municipalities enables people to come together for an election on the issues instead of being partisan-driven, she said. A lesson of November, Habif said, is that racial equality and racial healing should be at the top of the list. “People of color played a very significant role in those elections. They came out to vote,” she said. Affordable housing should be another issue that brings people to the polls, as it is a local issue, Habif said. She hopes in November local municipalities have a higher participation rate. Since they aren’t sure what roles municipalities will play, if any, in distributing the COVID vaccine, she said cities can offer education on why their residents should get the vaccine and how they can access it. Plus they should continue to push for maskwearing. “What we are recognizing is there is a reason why our country has five times the number of deaths it should have based on our population,” she said. Chip Collins, a former member of council and currently on the city’s Development Authority, said it will be interesting to see what new faces emerge to serve on council. He called the process healthy for the city. “We need to have a constant pipeline of new leadership,” he said. The North End should continue to be a focus for the council, Collins said. “I’ll just say this, my personal view is that ultimately, again, Sandy Springs is just so well situated geographically. The City Springs area and the surrounding neighborhoods are thriving. Roswell is thriving,” he said. North Sandy Springs sits in the middle of those two. Eventually there will be no

choice but redevelopment, he said. “So then the issue is what the city can do to accelerate that renewal. And those are the things that have been discussed and debated and will continue to be discussed and debated, but I think that’s the correct area for the focus to be on,” he said. An issue for another area that Collins said doesn’t gain much attention that he thinks is just as important is the area around the intersection of I-285 and Roswell Road. He said it’s the gateway to the city going both north and south. “Right now it’s just kind of a bit of a junky mishmash of buildings and businesses that I don’t believe are living up to the potential of that area,” Collins said. Another issue is the Georgia Department of Transportation’s plans for toll lanes on I-285. “Leadership at the local and state level needs to continue to do whatever they can to make sure that project doesn’t destroy the character of the neighborhoods and businesses along in that area,” Collins said. Survival for businesses hurt by the pandemic is another issue he called crucial. The city has taken positive steps, he said, including creating a local fund to support businesses in addition to what’s available at the federal level. “We’ve worked hard to improve the mix of restaurants and businesses in our downtown area. And I’d hate to see a large part of that improvement wiped out by the economic consequences,” he said.




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1000 Johnson Ferry Road NE Atlanta, GA 30342 404-851-8850 1110 West Peachtree Street NW, Suite 100 Atlanta, GA 30309 404-575-2050

Elizabeth Steinhaus, MD


5670 Peachtree Dunwoody Road NE, Suite 920 Atlanta, GA 30342


1110 West Peachtree Street NW, Suite 1010 Atlanta, GA 30309 404-847-0664

Southeastern Neurosurgical Specialists Kumar Vasudevan, MD

980 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 490 Atlanta, GA 30342 404-254-3160

Urology Specialists of Atlanta 5673 Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Suite 910 Atlanta, GA 30342 404-255-3822