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MARCH 2019 • VOL. 10 — NO. 3

Dunwoody Reporter

MARCH

Sandy Spring s

Section Two

Dunw oody Brookh aven

comedy pioneer joins a movie theater’s new era ►Out & About ►Summer Camps

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Survey: Are toll lanes worth taking homes? P18

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BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

EVELYN ANDREWS

Tim Matthews, a Georgia Department of Transportation program manager, discusses the Ga. 400 toll lanes project with the Perimeter Center Improvement Districts board at its Feb. 27 meeting.

The Dunwoody Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIP 30338 For information: delivery@reporternewspapers.net

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2019

House demolitions, access points cause rising concerns in toll lane plans BY EVELYN ANDREWS AND DYANA BAGBY As the Georgia Department of Transportation prepares to release long-awaited details on its toll lanes projects on Ga. 400 and I-285, residents and officials are expressing concern over recently revealed house demolitions and questions about

access ramps. One Sandy Springs neighborhood revealed that GDOT says 20 homes are slated for demolition. Residents worried it would “destroy” neighborhoods in Brookhaven and sink Dunwoody values. And Dunwoody City Council has raised See HOUSE on page 14

Several residents living in a neighborhood adjacent to Brook Run Park are raising concerns about tree removal and the need to encroach into the park’s stream buffer to construct two athletic fields at the rear of the park. City officials say a stream buffer variance will actually save trees and said concerns about pollution and erosion will be addressed as part of the fields’ development. One City Council member argues those living adjacent to Brook Run Park simply want to stop construction of the new fields because they oppose development. The fields, they say, are needed so that children living in the city do not have to travel to neighboring communities to play sports. Construction of the fields is slated to begin next month and be completed by the end of the year. City plans for the fields include soccer leagues and other sports leagues, such as lacrosse. Before construction can begin, though, the City Council is slated to vote March 25 on a request from city staff to encroach into the city’s 25-foot stream buffer of the Nancy Creek tributary. Parks and Recreation Director Brent Walker said the variance is needed to build retaining walls for the two multiuse athletic fields approved last year as part of the $7.5 million renovations of Brook Run Park. But residents living in the Lakeview Oaks Subdivision adjacent to the back of Brook See PARK on page 16

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2 | Community

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Community Briefs WR IG HT ’S S A NDWIC H S HO P, A D U NWO O DY I C O N, A B R UP TLY C LO S ES

The owners of Wright’s Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe in Dunwoody announced Feb. 12 the restaurant had immediately closed, shocking a community where the restaurant had been an institution for more than 30 years. Matt Wright, manager and member of the family that owns the restaurant, posted a farewell message on Facebook, but did not explain the reason for DYANA BAGBY Wright’s Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe abruptly the abrupt closure. The landclosed last month after more than 30 years. lord of the restaurant’s location at Shops of Dunwoody at 5482 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road said he was surprised by the announcement, but later said Wright told him declining sales led to the decision. A simple “closed” sign was posted to the family-owned restaurant’s door. No one answered calls made to the restaurant. An email was not answered. The announcement of the closure was made public by Wright at about noon Feb. 12 with a post to the restaurant’s Facebook page. “I will miss this place, but the memories I’ll take with me will be about the people… It’s always the people! The relationships with customers, vendors, employees, family ... we were and are truly blessed. So many of you ‘customers’ are family and always will be. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of these great years, we love and appreciate you all,” Wright said in the post. Scott Meadows, president of Brand Properties, which leases Shops of Dunwoody, was also surprised when he learned of the closure from the Reporter. “I was there a month ago and did not know,” Meadows said. In a later interview, he said Wright told him that sales at the restaurant had been “declining for a while.” “They made the quick decision to close,” he said. “We hate to see them go. They’ve been a tremendous asset to the city and to our center for a long, long time.” Matt Wright’s father, John Wright, opened the restaurant in 1984 on Jett Ferry Road before relocating it to the Shops of Dunwoody in 1988. For more than 30 years, the restaurant had been an institution in Dunwoody, where locals packed the small indoor dining area and the spacious patio to eat one of the many signature sandwiches, such as the vegetarian Glenda’s Garden with alfalfa sprouts and avocado, or the Rebel Reuben, a turkey sandwich on pumpernickel bread.

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Mayor Denis Shortal cast the lone “no” vote to move up public comment earlier on City Council agendas. Councilmember John Heneghan requested the council approve the measure doing so at the Feb. 25 meeting because during a couple of recent meetings residents had to wait for about an hour of presentations and reports before they could speak. “I don’t see folks leaving” because they have to wait to speak, Shortal told Heneghan. “I don’t think this is necessary at all.” Shortal also said it was important for residents to see presentations such as the recent audit report. The first public comment period is typically listed as the fifth agenda item, following the call to order, invocation, Pledge of Allegiance and reports and presentations. Heneghan asked and the council approved moving public comment to the fourth item, before the reports and presentations that can sometimes be lengthy. The final vote was 6-1. Shortal made a point to tell City Clerk Sharon Lowery to be sure she recorded his vote as a “no” vote.

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The City Council approved last month a special land use permit to make way for construction of a three-story storage building on nearly three acres at 4444 North Shallowford Road. A vacant U.S. Post Office Carrier Annex currently sits on the site. The Planning Commission had recommended the storage building be five stories with retail on the ground floor because, members said, that would fit in more with the Georgetown character area. Community Development staff said to build five stories would require a complete rezoning of the property rather than a SLUP. The developer, Adevco, also said it would not build five stories and would instead build the two stories allowed by right for the property. DUN


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MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

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4 | Community

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BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Dunwoody Police officers could see a boost in pay and more incentives next year as city officials look for ways to retain and recruit qualified officers. The move comes as police departments throughout metro Atlanta face increasing difficulty in recruiting officers while also working to ward off competition from big raises at neighboring departments. During the Dunwoody City Council’s annual retreat on Feb. 8, City Manager Eric Linton explained that news of Brookhaven approving a significant pay raise for most of its officers created a “buzz” at the Dunwoody Police Department. “Brookhaven has new pay ranges for their police department. That’s something we want you to be aware of, but not panic,” Linton told council members. He acknowledged there is some concern some officers would want to transfer from Dunwoody to Brookhaven. Brookhaven officers, sergeants and lieutenants saw a boost in salary by about 13 percent and the maximum by about 6 percent. That means the lowest pay for a rookie officer jumped from $42,406 to $48,500. And officers already on the force got a raise based on their years of experience in policing. In Dunwoody, rookie officers with a high school degree are paid $44,567. Those with an associate degree receive $45,817; an officer with a bachelor’s degree is paid $47,067; and a master’s degree rookie gets $48,317. Dunwoody officers with three years of experience are paid between $45,458 and $49,208, depending of education level. An officer with six or more years of experience with a master’s degree earns $51,990. Those most likely to leave to go to another department is at the officer level, Linton said. Other council members said it was important to also watch what other cities, such as Sandy Springs, Chamblee and Doraville are doing to recruit more officers. The council agreed that next year’s budget should look at a pay increase for some officers, but also consider providing more benefits such as a bigger hiring bonus, increasing the housing stipend from $500 to $700 a month, more pay for officers who speak Spanish as well as the potential of increasing retirement benefits. Chief Billy Grogan, who did not attend the retreat last month, said in recent interview that the news of Brookhaven’s pay increase had no bearing on his decision to recommend looking at more benefits for his officers. “Most of these issues were already being discussed as part of our recruitment and retention efforts and before Brookhaven happened,” he said. “But when that happened, it became part of the conversation.” Retaining and recruiting officers is challenge for departments across the country in today’s climate, Grogan said. Because the country is enjoying a good economy, it becomes harder to find people who want to be police officers, he said. A few officers who have recently left the Dunwoody Police Department went on to jobs outside law enforcement, he explained. The shooting in 2014 of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer, is also having a lasting affect on recruiting officers, according to Grogan. The shooting sparked riots in Ferguson as protesters chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” and the police response criticized by many across the country. The use of social media also spurred a nationwide response unlike any other police incident before, he said. “Support for police ebbs and flows,” Grogan said. “Ferguson was a new phenomenon because of social media.”

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Education | 5

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

E

very year, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation, known as the PAGE Foundation, identifies top students at public and private high schools across Georgia. The foundation says its Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program, or STAR student and teacher honors, has highlighted the achievements of more than 25,000 students since it started in 1958. The program identifies high school seniors who post the highest SAT scores for their schools and rank among the top 10 percent or top 10 students in their class in grade-point average. Each STAR student then chooses her or his STAR teacher. Once school winners are selected, regional STAR students and teachers are chosen to compete for the state title. Here are the STAR students and teachers for high schools located in Reporter Newspaper communities. Atlanta Girls School

Elizabeth Becker Star Student

Suzy Beckham Star Teacher

Chamblee Charter High School

Alice Bai Star Student

Fred Avett (not pictured) Star Teacher

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School

Will Scarborough Star Student

Chris Yarsawich Star Teacher

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School

Ivan Mo Star Student

James Roberts Star Teacher

Atlanta International School

Pablo Patel Star Student

Medad Lytton Star Student

Cross Keys High School

Jennifer Godoy Star Student

Watson Casal Star Student

Jake Eismeier Star Teacher

Thomas Cole Star Teacher

North Atlanta High School

Robert “Jake” Churchill Star Student

Daniel Gribble Star Teacher

Brandon Hall

Rabbi Daniel Estreicher Star Teacher

Tianya Zhan Star Student

Dunwoody High School

Noah Covey Star Student

Holy Spirit Preparatory School

Riverwood International Charter School

Michelle Stanek Star Student

Ecaterina Lungu Star Teacher

Atlanta Jewish Academy

Adam Brooks Star Teacher

Bradley Hendrickson Star Teacher

Samuel Rosner Star Student

Elaine Wen Star Student

Rowan Wiley Star Student

Gordon Mathis Star Teacher

Marist School

Kevin Randolph Star Teacher

Isabella Hay Star Student

North Springs Charter High School

St. Pius X Catholic High School

Mike Scirocco Star Teacher

The Galloway School

The Lovett School

Dylan Shapiro Star Student

Alexander Pike Star Teacher

Eric Smith Star Teacher

Pace Academy

Charlie Hirsch Star Student

The Westminster Schools

Jessica Lao Star Student

Brittany Loudermilk Star Teacher

Reanna Ursin Star Teacher

Gus Whyte Star Teacher


6 | Education

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Lucretia Gant, Chamblee Charter High Lucretia Gant is working to grow the robotics program at Chamblee Charter High, a school that serves Brookhaven students, helping it win a state championship in February. Gant, who teaches engineering and started at Chamblee Charter in 2010, has been involved in leading the program since 2013, working to get more students to participate and making sure they have the resources to explore robotics. The school’s team has won several tournaments and qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship in the past two years. VEX Robotics, which runs competitions for elementary through university students worldwide, held the Georgia state championship in McDonough, Ga., on Feb. 8-9. Chamblee Charter, in a combined team with Tucker High, came away with the win in that competition, said Gant, who began her teaching career 18 years ago. “I am most proud that the teams have developed a community of passionate enthusiast for VEX Robotics and that we have had a focus on exposing underrepre-

SPECIAL

Lucretia Gant, right in black, stands with the robotics team she leads at Chamblee Charter High.

sented groups to robotics,” Gant said.

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Q: How common are robotics programs at public schools?

A: Robotics programs are becoming more

popular at schools. However, DeKalb has had a strong focus for some time, and I believe that this is commendable, in that students are developing skills that the workforce is looking for: problem solving, critical thinking, risktaking, teamwork, perseverance, research and dedication.

A: What keeps me going from year to year

is creating opportunities for students. I definitely love to hear from former students about how their doing in their classes or internships, what their involvement

Exceptional

Educator

ucator?

in school is like, and how their experiences in clubs and classes have helped them to be successful on the next level. Matching students to opportunities and experiences they otherwise would not have had is why I do what I do.

A: I decided to become an educator while

Q: What are you most proud of in your

Q: Why did you decide to become an ed-

at Georgia Tech, pursuing my chemical engineering degree, after tutoring a local elementary student in math in the nearby Techwood Homes community. I recall being struck by how close in proximity this student was to Georgia Tech, but how far away the student was in skill level and ability. This made me reflect on my challenges pursuing my degree at Tech and the root causes for those challenges. I, along with two other students, started a group to look at how we could address this issue and change it while at Tech.

Q: What keeps you going year after year?

career?

A: I am most proud of the relationships

that I have with my students and some parents that span beyond the classroom. Many of my students come back to give to Chamblee even if they were students from another school. If I need help with volunteering, tutoring [or] judging, I can usually reach out and depend on students and parents to assist with whatever activity I am doing. I value these relationships and I love to hear about their pursuits beyond high school and how they are doing great things like I knew they would.


Education | 7

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Q:

What do you hope students learn from you?

A: I hope that students learn that they are great. I believe that this is my call to nurture the gifts and talents that all students have so that they can fulfill their purpose. When they learn and know that they are meant to make a valuable contribution to society, I believe they will better embrace opportunities in the classroom and in lessons.

Q: Why do you think technology and science are important for students to learn?

A: Technology is a vehicle to obtaining,

transferring and manipulating knowledge of nature to our benefit. Understanding how to use and leverage technology will help to secure a sustainable lifestyle in one’s future. Embracing science will allow students the opportunity to understand why nature works as it does and will afford them opportunities to work to shape and improve it to make the world a better place for everyone.

Q:

What is your favorite memory at your school?

A: This is really hard to answer, because

I have several, but, my fondest memory was when one of my students shared that I had been very integral in her success and the reason she had pursued engineering. She shared that I had been like a mother to her, since she had been in a single-parent home with just her father. This is one of my favorite memories because I had similar circumstances as a student growing up and teachers were very integral and the key to my success in life. So, it was nice to know that I have served their example well in the work that I do each day.

Riverwood school building to be reused, renovated BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Some parts of Riverwood International Charter School will be saved and renovated instead of rebuilt to save money as the construction cost skyrockets. The change is expected save the district an estimated $10 million on a project that is already millions over budget. The Fulton County School System approved the changes at its Feb. 21 meeting, which include renovating the auditorium and performing arts spaces to reduce the costs of the already over-budget project. The physical education spaces, including the gym, would be identical to the approved design, but reoriented. The new design, if approved, still would go an estimated $3.8 million over budget rather than $14.6 million for the current design. The approved budget for the entire project is $102.9 million. Residents had a mixed response to the proposed changes in the Riverwood International Charter School reconstruction project at a Feb. 13 community meeting. While some thanked the Fulton County School System for shaving costs, others lamented features that would be lost. “This is just great. I really appreciate what you have done to be fiscally responsible,” one resident said at the meeting. An added bonus to the cost savings, officials said, is that the students won’t be without an auditorium for a year. Since it will only be renovated, the work would be done over two summers while school is not in session. “We do not have to take the auditorium away for a year with this proposal,” said Doug Carey, the district’s director of capital planning. The explanation of the change was originally described in meeting documents as building a smaller school build-

ing, but that was later corrected to say it would be actually be slightly larger, said Patrick Burke, the district’s chief operating officer. The changes come as construction costs for the project have skyrocketed. The board previously had to approve a $5 million increase for the second phase in 2018. Burke has previously said that the higher costs were being caused by the complicated nature of building the project in seven construction phases and how the project is being funded. Increased material prices and tariffs were also driving the increases. The school, located at 5900 Raider Drive, is being built in seven phases. Phases 3 through 7 are the ones that will be addressed with the change. The main school building and media center are already built or are in progress and are not affected. The shell of the existing performing arts areas and auditorium like the steel, walls, foundation and roof, will be reused instead of demolished, Burke said. “Everything one sees, feels and touches will be new, but we will not incur the costs associated with the steel and concrete,” Burke said. Some parts of the building would also be reconfigured with new interior walls. The gym and related physical education spaces are planned to still be new and identical to the approved design, but reoriented, Burke said. The new gym will be built farther north than under the original proposal to be next to the existing auditorium. The practice field becomes full size and moves behind the gym. School system officials discussed the project at Board of Education member Gail Dean’s monthly community meeting, which was held in Riverwood’s auditorium and attended by parents and res-

idents. Most concerns raised by residents at the meeting were about how the old and new parts of the school would look joined together. Carey said they plan to resurface the exterior of the old building with the same material used for the new construction, but details are still being worked out. Riverwood Principal Chuck Gardner said overall he supports the idea, but understands the concerns about how the exterior would look. “The aesthetics are the biggest things I’m worried about,” he said. The changes would decrease the length students would need to walk to get to different parts of the building. Accessing the auditorium, field and gym for evening events would also be easier and more secure, Gardner said. “Hats off to the team,” he said. The plan would also provide enough room and funds to build a full-size practice field, which the school has never had, Gardner said. “I can’t overstate how big of a deal that is,” he said. The practice field and tennis courts would be built close to I-285 and Raider Drive, where the Georgia Department of Transportation has discussed building an interchange for its toll lanes project. Patrick Burke, the district’s chief operating officer, said there is no information about how the project would affect the school. “We don’t have a clear picture from [GDOT] on the exact scope of what they’re doing,” he said. The district had to make changes to the project to lower the costs, and realized the auditorium is already in an ideal location on the campus, Carey said. “Why tear it out and put it right back where it was just for the sake of calling it new?” he said.

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8 | Education

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Education Briefs TWO SCIEN C E, TEC HNO LO GY EV ENTS ANNO U NCED FO R S A NDY S P R I NG S

Two science and technology events have been planned for Sandy Springs. The Sandy Springs Education Force has set its ninth annual STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Showcase for March 13. Atlanta Jewish Academy will hold its event for Young Women in STEM event March 17. SSEF’s event, which is free, will be held all day and be open to the public from 6 to 8 p.m. at North Springs Charter High, 7447 Roswell Road. Sandy Springs’ 11 public schools will be showcasing their STEAM programs, SSEF said in a press release. AJA’s event will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the school, located at 5200 Northland Drive. Held in partnership with the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta, the event is only open to Jewish female high school students or rising ninth grade students, the press release said. Dr. Lori Zeltser, an associate professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University, will be the keynote speaker. There will also be mini classes, interactive presentations, career booths and networking, according to the release.

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After 18 months of construction, St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Brookhaven opened its new Early Childhood Learning Center on Feb. 19. The new building, which serves children two through kindergarten, is double the size of the previous building. The building replacSPECIAL es the school’s Early Students explore the new St. Martin’s Episcopal School building, which was rebuilt after damaged caused by an arson fire. Childhood wing that was destroyed by an arson fire on in July 2017. “It has long been the school’s vision to create a larger, purpose-built space to meet the unique needs of the youngest students,” said Head of School Dr. Luis Ottley in the press release. “When the fire destroyed the home of our Early Childhood Program we embraced the opportunity to execute that vision.” The new building includes a “STEAM village” that intentionally connects a science lab, tinker space and art room, all geared to foster engagement and collaborative learning among young children. In the spring, the outdoor learning space and natural play area will be completed, and the garage doors in lower level classrooms will allow for a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor learning. “We are incredibly grateful to St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church for graciously allowing us to share their space for the past 18 months,” said Early Childhood Principal Cindy Alexander. “And thank you to SMES parents, community members and the staff and crew at Evergreen Construction who all helped make this vision a reality.”

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Riverwood International Charter School students Madeline Chen, left, a sophomore harp player, and Nathaniel Stone, right, a freshman cello player, were chosen for the Georgia Music Educators Association’s All-State Orchestra and Fulton County High School Honor Orchestra.

Two Riverwood International Charter School students have been selected to participate in a statewide orchestra program, the school announced. Madeline Chen, a sophomore harp player, and Nathaniel Stone, a freshman cello player, were chosen for the Georgia Music Educators Association’s All-State Orchestra and Fulton County High School Honor Orchestra. For the 2018-19 All-State Orchestra, the students will travel to Athens for two days of workshops and practice, culminating in a performance March 2 in the Classic Center.


Community | 9

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Construction on Perimeter Mall commuter trail set to begin in 2020 BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The commuter trail along AshfordDunwoody Road in front of Perimeter Mall planned for nearly a decade is set to begin construction next year using revenue from the city’s recently raised hotel-motel tax. Once construction begins, the multiuse trail is slated to be finished in about nine months. Using the revenue recently created from an increase in the city’s hotel-motel tax bumps the construction and completion timeline up by two years, city officials said, and begins the long-talked about plans to create last-mile connectivity and offer ways for alternative modes of transportation in the traffic-heavy Perimeter Center. The Dunwoody City Council approved Feb. 11 spending up to $125,000 from the hotel-motel tax reserve to complete the de-

sign for the first phase of the Ashford-Dunwoody commuter trail in front of Perimeter Mall. There is approximately $800,000 in the bank from hotel-motel taxes to pay for such projects, according to city officials. In 2017, the city lobbied the state legislature at the request of PCIDs members, specifically hotel operators, to raise the hotel-motel tax that would create a revenue stream to fund multi-use trails, commuter trails and other green space projects for the dense Perimeter Center area where new development is set to open in the near future, including a new State Farm building and a new Hyatt hotel and Twelve24 office building. Both are adjacent to the Dunwoody MARTA station. The Perimeter Community Improvement Districts had previously received a $500,000 federal grant for design projects in the city’s commuter trail system master plan, including the Ashford-Dunwoody trail.

Because of the use federal money, the PCIDs was forced to follow Georgia Department of Transportation’s plan development process, Dunwoody Public Works Director Michael Smith told the council. The process is lengthy, Smith said. With the city’s funding and by eliminating the federal funding process, the project’s construction timeline can be moved up by nearly two years, Smith said. “Recently, the PCID board voted to take the project out of the federal process and fund it locally contingent on Dunwoody,” Smith told the council. It is also a lot easier to acquire easements from Perimeter Mall to build the trail by using local funding rather than federal money, Smith said. The Ashford-Dunwoody Road commuter trail includes separated pedestrian and bicycle facilities in front of Perimeter Mall and is a crucial segment of the PCIDs Commuter Trail Plan that has been on the books since 2012.

“Time and right of way acquisition are the reasons [PCIDs] said it was time to move forward with this project locally,” Smith said. Because the hotel managers supported the hotel-motel tax increase to fund such projects, they want to see such projects “happen quickly,” Smith added. PCIDs will be adding $125,000 of its own money to this design project, according to PCID Project Manager John Gurbal. The second phase of the trail is now in the design stages and would include the same kind of commuter trail along the west side of Ashford-Dunwoody Road between Hammond Drive near the Dunwoody MARTA station and Perimeter Center West. Another stretch of the PCIDs commuter trail would travel from Ashford-Dunwoody Road up Perimeter Center West to Mount Vernon Highway, adjacent to the Sandy Springs MARTA station.

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10 | Education

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New enrollment projections may mean Dunwoody High will get a bigger expansion than expected. But that does not ease community concerns for what will be done with the overcrowded school in the meantime. The projections were discussed at a Feb. 20 meeting held with DeKalb County School District administrators who also explained the upcoming redistricting process for Austin Elementary. The planned Dunwoody High $17.7 million expansion currently includes a two-story, 29-classroom addition and is expected to be completed in 2022. “That’s three or four years down the road. What are you going to do right now?” a parent asked at the meeting, which was hosted by the Peachtree Gateway Council on Schools at Kingsley Charter Elementary School. The enrollment forecast study done in 2015 for Dunwoody High projected attendance to be 2,093 by 2022. But it’s climbing faster than expected and is now projected to be 2,316, according to the presentation. The news comes as DeKalb is already over budget on some of its other expansion and new schools as construction costs skyrocket. After the preliminary design is completed for Dunwoody High, the project may be held temporarily while the school board decides whether or not to put it on the list for more TSPLOST funding to afford a bigger expansion, said Dan Drake, the interim chief operating officer. A parent of Dunwoody High student requested administrators and school board members visit the school to see the overcrowding conditions before making a decision. “I feel like until administration sees the stress on schools, they shouldn’t make capacity decisions,” the parent said, which received applause from other meeting attendees. Another parent said the district needs to work on improving facilities now, including the bathrooms, eating spaces and field that are in poor condition. “The students do not have good facilities to learn and thrive. It’s looking like 2022 may not be any better,” the parent said. Some teachers don’t have room for a desk, a parent said. Other parents expressed concern about the rising number of “portable classrooms,” or trailers, and that more may be needed if enrollment continues to rise quicker than expected. Drake said that any safety problems parents and teachers reported at the meeting like bathroom doors that don’t close properly or security concerns caused by the overcrowding will be addressed immediately.

Redistricting

The district recently wrapped up its process redistricting process for a new Brookhaven school and is preparing to start it for Dunwoody’s new Austin Elementary. The new school is being built on about 10 acres of Dunwoody Park, where the Dunwoody Senior Baseball fields were located, and is slated to open in fall 2020. The school has about 200 open seats that the district hopes to fill by moving students from other, overcrowded schools. Dunwoody Elementary is “the most concerning elementary school” in the Dunwoody cluster, said Hanz Williams, the district’s planning director. The 2021 enrollment at the school is projected to be 488 students more than the school is built to accommodate, according to the presentation. Williams said the redistricting public meetings will begin in September. DUN


| 11

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

SR 400 Express Lanes

We Need Your Help Your Opinion Matters and Your Voice Counts

The SR 400 Express Lanes project is a regional transportation solution that will provide improved travel times and a more reliable commute in the SR 400 corridor. Future express lanes projects are a key part of Georgia’s answer for reduced congestion and improved mobility throughout the metro Atlanta region.

This is the Time to Share Your Thoughts

We need your input at an upcoming Public Information Open House for the SR 400 Express Lanes Project.

Tuesday, March 5

Thursday, March 7 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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Current Project Activities

Project Timeline 2000

2013

HOV System Plan

ARC and Georgia Environmental DOT adopt express process begins lanes strategy to mitigate congestion

2017

2019

2020

2021

Public Information Open Houses

Public Hearing Open Houses

Construction starts

Right-of-way (ROW) acquisition begins

Project Map LEGEND:

N

McFarland Parkway Union Hill Road

Project Length: 16 miles

Map is not to scale

North of Webb Bridge Road South of Haynes Bridge Road South of Holcomb Bridge Road

North and South of Northridge Road

North Springs MARTA Station

DUN

2024 SR 400 Express Lanes open to traffic

Stay Connected

Project Potential Access Points

Tuesday, March 12

www.dot.ga.gov/DS/GEL/SR400 400expresslanes@dot.ga.gov 404-556-9816


12 | Community

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City Council opposes bill that would erase local control over residential home design BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

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LEGAL NOTICES FOR THE CITY OF SANDY SPRINGS Effective immediately, legal notices for the City of Sandy Springs are published: • In our monthly e-newsletter distributed by the City. You can sign up at spr.gs/enewsletter • Inside the Sandy Springs Neighbor newspaper Information related to upcoming meetings can always be found online at sandyspringsga.gov.

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The Dunwoody City Council is joining Brookhaven and Sandy Springs in speaking out against proposed legislation that would strip municipalities of local control when it comes to regulating designs on single-family homes. The council unanimously approved Feb. 25 a resolution presented by Councilmember Lynn Deutsch urging the General Assembly to oppose House Bill 302 and Senate Bill 172. The bills would prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances to regulate several design elements in one or two-family properties such as color, exterior material, windows, doors, number and type of rooms and foundation materials. These bills “would completely remove the City of Dunwoody’s common-sense ability of local control to set its own quality standards of single-family homes and may jeopardize the safety and lives of our citizens living and working in densely populated areas of our city,” the resolution states in part. Deutsch said she felt the state legislature was becoming “more and more brazen” in recent years in its attempts to strip local control from cities and counties. “I’m really frustrated by this constant inching into local government,” she said. She pointed to when the state controversially legalized the sale and use of fireworks in 2015 with few limits on their use, regardless of the noise and fire safety differences between rural, urban and suburban areas. Dunwoody, along with Sandy Springs, also heavily opposed a bill that passed last session that prevents local governments from prohibiting wood-frame apartments, eliminating a city ordinance that had been on the books for years. Shortal fumed for several minutes against the proposed legislation. “This is something that you know, I’m intensely ... uh, I’m ticked,” he said. “Let me just tell you, and I cleaned that up a little bit because my wife’s back there and I didn’t want to use any four-letter words.” “This is an encroachment that it’s unbelievable to me it has gotten this far,” Shortal added. “I would think such a bill would be the laughingstock ... because it is an infringement on our rights. Why we became a city is for local control.” State Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody) said he would vote against HB 302. State Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-Brookhaven), whose district includes a small portion of Dunwoody, is also opposing the bill, calling it a “big overreach.” State Sen. Sally Harrell (DAtlanta), whose district includes Dunwoody, has stated publicly she opposes SB 172. The sponsor of the HB 302 is Republican state Rep. Smith Vance of Pine Mountain where Calloway Gardens is located, about 95 miles southwest of Dunwoody. Pine Mountain’s population is roughly 1,500 people compared to Dunwoody’s approximate 50,000 residents. “We became a city to keep decisions close to home,” Shortal said. “We know what we want. We don’t need the state to tell us. … Please don’t try to push your will on us in Dunwoody, Ga.” Councilmember Terry Nall called the HB 302 “one of our greatest threats” and said the resolution was needed to “protect our communities.” The resolution will be sent to members of the Dunwoody delegation at the Gold Dome and the city’s lobbyists will also work to fight the bill, Deutsch said. Councilmember Pam Tallmadge also urged residents to voice their opposition by not only emailing their local lawmakers but the sponsors of both bills as well. The proposed legislation would not apply to state or federal historic districts, mobile homes or homes governed by a neighborhood associations or covenants. In Dunwoody, however, there are no historic districts and most neighborhoods are not governed by registered and formal HOAs, Deutsch said. Sandy Springs is also speaking out against HB 302. Mayor Rusty Paul said at the Sandy Springs’ Feb. 19 City Council meeting that the bills were “profound” pieces of legislation that would “strip local governments of a lot of abilities they have for control.” The Brookhaven City Council approved a resolution at its Feb. 26 meeting denouncing the bills. The resolution states, in part, would “eliminate local government’s sovereign right for land use decisions including building design standards and create chaos in community development and shred the very fabric and character of neighborhoods across Brookhaven.”

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| 13

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

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14 | Community

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House demolitions, access points cause rising concerns in toll lane plans Continued from page 1 concern that the city is getting the short end of the stick after Sandy Springs has negotiated some access points off its streets. GDOT is working on two projects that would add four new toll lanes, called “express lanes” or “managed lanes,” along I-285 and Ga. 400 in the Perimeter Center area over the next decade, with the intent of improving overall traffic flow. Parts of the project are expected to be elevated toll lanes to use existing right of way. The toll lanes are part of a system being built metro-wide, including recently opened lanes on I-75 and I-575. Public meetings for the Ga. 400 piece of the project, which begins at North Springs MARTA Station and runs north out of Sandy Springs, were set to begin after press time. GDOT said the meetings will answer many residents’ questions by providing the concept layout of the lanes, potential access points and anticipated right of way needs. But GDOT recently shifted the section

of Ga. 400 south of the North Springs station into the I-285 toll lanes project, which is undergoing a separate planning process on a later timeline. That means many property impacts and access points – including those that are most controversial

Special A photo taken of map displayed at the private Feb. 7 meeting and provided to the Reporter shows the current design of the toll lanes running over some of the 20 homes that are expected to be taken for the project. Ga. 400 is at the bottom of the map.

at the moment -- may not be discussed until that project’s public meetings start in

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December. The Ga. 400 lanes also would carry a new MARTA bus rapid transit route. Bus service was found to be feasible for I-285 by a study commissioned by top end mayors, but is not funded or approved. The toll lanes have become controversial for the limited information being released and the property impacts, some of which are privately being discussed with homeowners. Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs residents expressed skepticism at a Dunwoody Homeowners Association Feb. 10 meeting with GDOT that over 100 residents attended. Residents questions if the toll lanes would help alleviate the notorious traffic along the busy corridors. And, even so, some questioned if that is worth demolishing homes and impacting neighborhoods. “You’re going to destroy every single community along I-285 and you don’t care,” resident Mark Jeffers said. “You’re going to destroy our neighborhoods, our communities, our cities, so people can get to work faster?”

Property impacts

Twenty houses on a Sandy Springs street would be demolished for the Ga. 400 toll lanes project, residents say they were told by the Georgia Department of Transportation in a private meeting Feb. 7. Four of those homeowners, most of whom did not want to be named, spoke with the Reporter and said they felt the process has been too secretive and that they should have been contacted earlier. They said 19 of the targeted houses are

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Community | 15

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

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Another big issue is access points for the toll lanes and the public transit that might use them. GDOT has said it wants the toll lanes to have completely separate access ramps from the normal highway lanes. The two toll lane access points on the Ga. 400 segment in Sandy Springs are at the North Springs MARTA Station and at Northridge Road, according to a basic, dotted map shown at the Perimeter Center Improvement Districts’ Feb. 27 board meeting. The only bus rapid transit access in Sandy Springs in the Ga. 400 project is at the North Springs station. The next would be at Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell, said Tim Matthews, the program manager, at the meeting. GDOT has not released a list of access points for the I-285 project, but has said it is considering access points at North Shallowford Road and Mount Vernon Highway. The Mount Vernon option may be replaced with one at Crestline Parkway. The Crestline option, which would require demolishing eight homes, is being considered by GDOT at the request of Sandy Springs city officials, who pushed back on the Mount Vernon access point. That is still within Sandy Springs, but closer to Dunwoody. Dunwoody took issue with Sandy Springs negotiating to move some toll lane access points during a discussion at its annual City Council retreat Feb. 8. “I just don’t understand how Sandy Springs can say no [to access points in their city]. We don’t want it, but yet we are forced to take it,” Councilmember John Heneghan said. GDOT has been willing to change the access points on Sandy Springs Circle and Mount Vernon Highway after Sandy Springs voice opposition, but the same is not being done for Dunwoody, city officials argued. A North Shallowford Road access point is still in the plan, according to Dunwoody. “I just wish GDOT would say where they are going to put these and then move on,” Dunwoody City Manager Eric Linton said.

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trying to effect change wherever they can,” Smith said. Sandy Springs Councilmember Jody Reichel, who represents a large part of Ga. 400 that may be affected, including Northgreen Drive, said the city is working to gather information to reduce the impact on residents and has met with GDOT several times. “Even though our influence is minimal, the GDOT has committed to continue meeting with the city as final plans are created and to listen to our feedback and input,” Reichel said in a written statement. “I want my constituents to know that I will stay informed and, together with the mayor and city council, will push GDOT as hard as possible to reduce the impact on our neighborhoods and to be transparent with our citizens as this project moves forward.”

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on Northgreen Drive and one on Spalding Drive. “We feel extremely anxious that we’re certainly going to get the short end of the stick,” said Torry Alexander, one homeowner who was told her house would be taken. “[GDOT] is extremely powerful and has way more resources.” GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale confirmed the meeting, but did not comment on the number of houses that may be taken. Two residents of Northgreen Drive, which runs south off Spalding Drive along the west side of Ga. 400, said they felt blindsided when they learned their homes would be taken for the project. At the meeting, residents say, a map was displayed and they were told any property with a red dot over it would be taken. The map, a partial photograph of which was provided to the Reporter by a resident, shows a possible alignment of the new toll lanes, with one lane running directly over some of the houses. In addition to being told they’re losing their homes, residents expressed disappointment and frustration about what they feel has been a far too secretive process. “The outcome may be what’s necessary, but the process has been so cloaked and really cruel,” said a resident of Northgreen whose house would not be demolished under the current plan. Several homeowners at the DHA meeting said their property values are likely to sink as soon as the Ga. 400 maps are out and people start seeing where the toll lanes may go. And as word continues to get out about Ga. 400 and the I-285 top end projects, nobody is going to want to buy their homes, they argued. Robert Wittenstein, a former DHA president, asked GDOT officials what the city could do to stop the planned toll lanes. “This will create a dead zone that nobody will want to live near,” Wittenstein said. “How do we get you to change your direction? How can we get you to stop … [and build] something that is beneficial and useful and is a magnet to people instead of repelling them?” Residents fear the noise, pollution and toll lanes possibly towering up to 30-feet tall will devalue their homes and their quality of life. The Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, which represents homeowners associations in the city, is planning a strategy to help those who may be affected by the project. “As a board we are gathering as much information as we can from the affected parties (HOA’s or homeowners) so we can be most effective with any efforts we undertake to assist these parties in working towards mitigation,” president Ronda Smith said in an email. Smith said she expects most of the challenges to come from state officials who have more power to change GDOT’s plans. “Our city leaders have very limited influence in this arena with GDOT and are

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Park sports fields bring tree removal, stream concerns Continued from page 1

make the park fit the plan,” she said. “They are doing everything they can to put more [features] in the park ... They are taking a chainsaw to Brook Run Park.” Paul Lowry believes the city is overdeveloping the park. He and others say they do not oppose development, but they want smart development that does not destroy the city’s tree canopy and possibly contribute to flooding, erosion, pollution and destruction of natural habitats. Lowry also questioned the process of seeking the stream buffer variance after a design has been approved rather than be-

Run Park where the fields are to be built want the city to instead shrink the athletic fields to fit in the existing space rather than violate the buffer and cut down nearly 200 trees, including more than 30 in the stream buffer. Concerns about flooding, pollution and destruction of the environment are some of their top concerns as well, they say. “We count on our decision makers to protect our public lands,” Beverly Armento, a 30-year resident of the Lakeview Oaks subdivision adjacent to the park, told council members last month. “Take care of our natural resources.” Adelina Alberghini, also a resident of the subdivision, said in an interview she worries not only for residents living in her neighborhood but those living downstream. She also questioned the city’s reasonDYANA BAGBY Those living near Brook Run Park who say the city could shrink ing that enthe size of the athletic fields so there is no encroachment croaching into into the park’s stream buffer are, from left, Beverly Armento, the stream bufDoris Williams, Frank Lockridge and Paul Lowry. fer will save trees. fore the council approved it. “We don’t real“I understand the English language. ly know what we’re getting,” he said. When you encroach, you are cutting down Typically, stream buffer variances go trees. And if you are cutting down trees through the Zoning Board of Appeals. At how can you save more trees?” she asked. request of Walker and Community De“It does seem odd,” acknowledged Walkvelopment Director Richard McLeod, the er. council recently amended the city zoning Walker explained that when the City ordinance so that the City Council will reCouncil approved funding the renovaview and vote on any stream buffer varitions at Brook Run Park, they approved a ances on all city-related projects. The pre“twisted” design of the fields. Rather than vious ordinance only allowed council the fields being built end-to-end, there is approval for variances for trails. a small triangular gap between the two The council will follow the same ZBA fields. That gap creates a slanted site plan regulations when it comes to considering for the official league-play soccer fields to variances, including public notices and fit into the existing acreage. public votes and discussion. But by giving As part of the twisted design, two rethe council the authority, city staff does not taining walls must be built along the fields have to go before the ZBA and potentially – and it is those retaining walls that will be sue the ZBA if staff disagrees with their reabuilt within the 25-foot stream buffer, if apsoning, according city officials. proved by the council, he said. “Minor encroachment is done all the The less expensive option would have time for residential properties ... and what been to extensively grade the property area we delegated those appropriate stream bufand then slope the fields into the Nancy fer encroachments to the ZBA, but for city Creek tributary, he said. projects we retain the power at the council “The fields are in a twisted orientation level,” said Councilmember Jim Riticher. to minimize on the encroachment into the Riticher added he believed city staff has tree line,” Walker said. Grading the fields been up-front with all design plans and rewould have resulted in possibly as many as quests for variances and questioned the 400 trees, rather than approximately 200, motives of those opposing the project. and cut deeper into the stream buffer, he “We’ve got people who would like to kill said. the whole project,” he said. “But on the flip Alberghini and her neighbors said the side, a city of our size and relative affluence city could do the easy thing and just build ... it’s ridiculous that we only have two litthe fields to the space available. tle soccer fields [at Pernoshal Park] and two “Adjust the plan to fit the park, not baseball fields [at Brook Run Park].

DUN


MARCH 2019

Community | 17

www.ReporterNewspapers.net

At anti-Semitic bullying forum, expert panel offers advice, urges reporting BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Over 100 parents, students and teachers attended a Feb. 10 forum on anti-Semitic bullying to question an expert panel put together days after a swastika was painted on a Roswell high school, rattling the north metro Jewish community. Local school officials said at the Sandy Springs event they have “strict” punishments and protocols for bullying and harassment and encouraged students to report it immediately. And a state representative said he is hopeful this legislative session will bring the passage of a hate crimes bill that could help reduce such incidents. “Anytime something comes up, you need to say something,” North Springs Charter High Principal Scott Hanson said at the event, which was held at Temple Emanu-El and attended by over 100 people. “That’s the most important thing. Don’t assume someone else is going to.” The panel, which also included representatives from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Anti-Defamation League, DeKalb County School District and a state representative, was held by the Atlanta Initiative Against Anti-Semitism in response to a recent vandalism incident at Roswell’s Centennial High School. Among the vandalism there was graffiti of a swastika near the front entrance. AIAAS was formed by Dunwoody-ar-

EVELYN ANDREWS

Director of Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Sally Levine, center with microphone, answers an audience question at the Feb. 10 event about incidents in schools. Joining her are, from left, Centennial High School Assistant Principal Dr. Bre Peeler; North Springs Charter High School Principal Scott Hanson; DeKalb Department of Student Relations Director Dr. Quentin Fretwell; Fulton County School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Chris Matthews; Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Dr. Allison Padilla-Goodman; Marist School teacher Brendan Murphy; Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Andy Mossman; and state Rep. Josh McLaurin.

ea mothers in 2017 “amidst what felt like an explosion of anti-Semitic events,” said Lauren Menis, on the founders, when introducing the panel. They have held two previous events that discussed the rising incidents. AIAAS cites numbers from the FBI and ADL that say anti-Semitic incidents and hate crimes targeting Jews are on the rise nationwide. Incidents at North Springs in 2017 included a swastika drawn on a bathroom wall. To help deter these incidents, the AIAAS

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has been pushing for a state hate crimes legislation in partnership with the ADL. State Rep. Josh McLaurin (D-Sandy Springs) said the legislation is expected to be filed this session with bipartisan support. He is hopeful this can be the year it passes. The bill would create an additional sentence for crimes found to be against a protected class based on categories that often include race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability. Previous state hate crimes legislation has not gained serious traction or failed to pass, such as last year’s effort by former state Rep. Meagan Hanson

(R-Brookhaven). A sponsor to carry the bill has not been determined, McLaurin said. But he pledged that the legislation will be comprehensive and “not just a solution for one community.” “We cannot have hate crimes legislation that’s not comprehensive,” McLaurin said, a comment that received applause. The ADL regional director agreed that its “comprehensive or nothing.” “We feel pretty good about it this year,” Allison Padilla-Goodman said.

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Our mission is to provide our readers with fresh and engaging information about life in their communities. Published by Springs Publishing LLC 6065 Roswell Road, Suite 225 Sandy Springs, GA 30328 Phone: 404-917-2200 • Fax: 404-917-2201 Brookhaven Reporter | Buckhead Reporter Dunwoody Reporter | Sandy Springs Reporter www.ReporterNewspapers.net Atlanta INtown www.AtlantaINtownPaper.com Atlanta Senior Life www.AtlantaSeniorLife.com

C O NTA C T US Founder & Publisher Steve Levene stevelevene@reporternewspapers.net Editorial Managing Editor John Ruch johnruch@reporternewspapers.net INtown Editor: Collin Kelley Editor-at-Large Joe Earle Staff Writers Dyana Bagby, Evelyn Andrews Creative and Production Creative Director Rico Figliolini rico@reporternewspapers.net Graphic Designer Julie Murcia Advertising Director of Sales Development Amy Arno amyarno@reporternewspapers.net Sales Executives Melissa Kidd, Jeff Kremer, Janet Porter, Jim Speakman Office Manager Deborah Davis deborahdavis@reporternewspapers.net Contributors John Awtrey, Doug Carroll, Robin Conte, Phil Mosier, Judith Schonbak, Jaclyn Turner

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Community Survey: Are toll lanes worth taking homes? Are separate toll lanes alongside Ga. 400 and I-285 a good idea, especially if they require razing houses to make way for the new roads? Reactions to the proposal appeared sharply split in our most recent 1Q survey. Although more than four in 10 of the 200 respondents said they would use the proposed toll lanes if they were built, about a third of the respondents said they wouldn’t use the lanes and fully a quarter said they weren’t sure whether they would or not. The survey was conducted by 1Q.com via cellphones used by residents of Reporter Newspapers communities. The results reflect only respondent opinions. When asked whether private property should be taken and 20 or more homes razed to make room for the lanes, respondents were sharply divided, with a few more saying no than yes. “No one should be forced to give up their home for a toll road,” a 44-year-old woman commented. “The state should find an alternative.” “Please don’t do that [take private property for the toll lanes],” a 34-year-old Brookhaven man responded. “Let’s complete the existing projects and see how that impacts traffic flow and then we can move on.” State transportation officials are moving ahead with plans for building a new system of toll lanes along the Ga. 400 and I-285 interchange over the next decade. The four “express lanes” are intended to help move traffic through the area and to

work

toward

solving

con-

gestion issues. Not everyone will like the solutions, but letting fic

traf-

continue

to get worse is not an option if Atlanta is going to continue growing (which seems to be a given).” And

a

40-year-old Sandy Springs woman put it simply: “Twenty houses for the greater good of Atlanta traffic? Definitely!” But not all respondents were convinced the toll lanes would do any real, lasting good. “Toll lanes are stupid,” a 19-year-old improve traffic flow. The Ga. 400 lanes also would carry a new MARTA bus rapid transit route, which would require adding access points and stations. Although GDOT officials say they haven’t yet fully figured out how much land building the lanes will require, many homeowners in the area have said the state already says it must acquire some or all of their property for the project. Supporters of the project were quick to say that residents should be paid a fair price, or even a premium price, if their homes were taken for the project. Some suggested that any homeowners forced to move because of construction should be paid relocation costs in addition to the price of the property. A 33-year-old Brookhaven man said he would support taking the property “as long as a fair price is paid for the houses. The city is growing rapidly and needs to

Dunwoody woman commented. “I will not use them. Let them stay in their homes.” Other respondents thought the money could be spent better elsewhere, especially on expanding public transit. “Twenty houses isn’t a significant number, but I still don’t think that it’s worth it to build toll lanes,” a 34-year-old Brookhaven woman commented. “I think it would definitely be worth it to expand the rail and public transit options. More lanes won’t affect the number of cars on the road, and it’s not possible to add enough lanes to truly match the cars that want to be at that interchange. “The only long-term solution is to enable people to get from A to B without cars or without going through that interchange, such as enabling folks to live closer to where they work.”

Here’s what some other respondents had to say about taking homes for toll lanes: No! Toll lanes effect our community schools, neighborhoods and children. We do not want them built. – a 35-year-old Sandy Springs woman Yes. Atlanta traffic is among the worst in the country. We are getting more and more cars on the road and we have to do something. – 49 year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs woman Civil engineers will tell you that increasing lanes doesn’t alleviate traffic in the long term. More cars come to fill them. The best way to reduce traffic is to do as other major cities in the world do -- invest in public transportation. – 38-year-old Atlanta woman

BE COUNTED IN OUR NEXT READER SURVEY

The toll lanes are a money grab with minimal traffic alleviating benefits. The fact they are taking people’s homes seems inherently wrong. – 34-year-old Dunwoody man While I would use them … I think expansion in Atlanta is so poorly done I don’t think I can support eminent domain from an incompetent government and GDOT. – 47-year-old Atlanta man No. We just paid off a toll road [on Ga. 400]. Why would we want another one? Push MARTA and expand that. – 37-year-old Atlanta woman

1Q is an Atlanta-based startup that has developed a technology which sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text message from businesses and organizations across the country. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at 1Q.com/reporter or by texting REPORTER to 86312.

1Q.COM/REPORTER OR TEXT REPORTER TO 86312


MARCH 2019

Commentary | 19

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Little What’s-Her-Name I choke at introductions. It doesn’t matter if you have lived next door to me for eight years, if we chaired the school auction together, if you have the same name as my first-born child, if you ARE my first-born child. If I have to introduce you to someone else, I will forget your name. It’s not that I’m uncouth. It’s just, as I admitted, that I choke at introductions. It’s like a mini-stage fright. Now, I recognize that the statutory grace period for forgetting someone’s name is 28 days or three meetings, whichever comes first. After that time, you are expected to know the name, and you can no longer ask for it. Moreover, if you’ve seen the same person at least four times and each encounter included conversation, hugs and cheek-to-cheek air kisses, the next time she happens along, you are charged with the responsibility of introducing her to the person standing beside you, or you are liable for crimes against etiquette. Those are the rules -- at least in the South. So, I have developed two (hopefully) face-saving introduction strategies, which I will share with you now: Strategy A. The Southern Strategy, a.k.a The Hey Stack This, of course, is the word “Hey,” uttered over a period of 23 seconds and inserting a veritable rollercoaster of inflections and a bell curve of vowels ranging from A to E to Y, then followed immediately with a warm embrace and a gleeful, “How ARE you!?” You then proceed directly to the introduction of the person you’re with, “This is my friend Jane…” (Odds are pretty good that if you are already together, you will remember your companion’s name at this moment.) And you wait in awkward silence for Nameless Friend to introduce herself, while smiling Robin Conte lives with brightly and pretending that you didn’t really forget her name. her husband in an empSometimes you can interject an intimate anecdote about ty nest in Dunwoody. Nameless Friend (“Liz is married to my brother”) as soon as her name is revealed, just to prove that you really do know her. Guys can’t pull-off the Hey Stack as well. They must resort to the Hey Slap, which is a slap on the back and a “Hey, buddy!” kind of greeting, I suppose. I really don’t know what guys do. If you’re a guy, please tell me. Strategy B. The Help Me, Rhonda, a.k.a. The Preemptive Prompt If you see Nameless Friend approaching in advance, you might prompt your companion and beg, “Please introduce yourself -- I forgot her name!” You then proceed as described above. After the niceties have ended and Nameless Friend has moved on, you and your companion can have a lengthy yet amusing conversation about all the other things you can’t remember. My daughter gets irritated by the fact that I can’t remember the names of all her friends, but she doesn’t realize that my forgetfulness is not spiteful, it’s a biological defect. I’m not going to attribute it to age, though that would be the easy, albeit discomforting, thing to do. I can’t remember directions, either, and I’ve always been that way. The fact is, if I happen to see you at any given time, chances are that I have forgotten your name. The Hey Stack still works very successfully in terms of a greeting in these instances, but with the unfortunate side effect that when you leave, I will still be clueless as to your name. If you are dating one of my sons, you will be referred to by me as “Little What’s-HerName.” I will remember your name if he gives you a ring … or if I hope that he will. If my accent were thick and syrupy enough to drip out of my mouth and attract bees as I speak, I could sidestep the use of actual first names by using generic “nom de bonbons,” such as Sugar or Honey or Puddin’, but it isn’t. Sometimes I use the more accent-neutral “Sweetie,” which can be uttered with an efficient clip, but is generally more appropriate for people who are younger than I am (which is increasingly turning out to be most people). So, if I see you at the grocery store and smile brightly and give you a hug and say “Hey,” please tell me your name.

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20 | Commentary

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An Olympics champion finds a home at the MJCCA

Liliyah Podkopayeva.

SPECIAL

When gymnast Liliyah Podkopayeva came to America more than two decades ago, she was just a teenager and the United States seemed “far, far, far, far away” from her home country, Ukraine. “The United

Around Town

States,” she said, “was like a different planet.” Here, everyone spoke English, a language Podkopayeva didn’t then understand. Everyone needed a car to get around. They had new computers. All sorts of things just seemed strange. Plus, she was a gifted young athlete at the top of international competition. She had taken top honors in the all-around competition at the 1995 World Championships. Then, in 1996, she represented Ukraine in the Atlanta Olympics and claimed the all-around gold medal, a second gold medal for floor exercises and a silver medal on balance beam. She was in the spotlight. In 1997, she said, she was named “Person of the Year” in Ukraine. That same year, she joined a bus tour of the U.S. with other Olympic athletes, including members of the celebrated U.S. team. The “Tour of Champions” did something like 70 shows, Podkopayeva remembers, and performed in front of thousands of people at a time. “You kind of felt like a pop star,” she said. Still, she felt like visitor in the U.S. “When you travel for competition you don’t see anything, you don’t see the culture,” she said. “It was hard because I didn’t speak English at all, but it was great. … It

Northside

was a lot for a girl who was 18.” Besides, Ukraine was her home. Even after she moved on from gymnastic competitions, she was a celebrity there. She competed twice in the Ukrainian version of “Dancing with the Stars” and won that competition in 2007. Now, at 40 and a mother of two, she feels more comfortable in the U.S. than she did when she was younger. “Now it’s my home,” she said. She’s still moving around and spending time in gyms. Since the late 1990s, she’s continued shuttling from the U.S. to Ukraine for work, she said. “Gymnasts have gypsy blood,” she said. “We couldn’t stay home.” A little more than a year ago, she and her family settled in Atlanta. She recently started working as a coach for young gymnasts at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, which is located in Dunwoody. She’s among about 15 coaches at the MJCCA’s gymnastics center, where she primarily works with the older and more experienced girls, center director Stacey Harris said. “I’m thrilled [she’s here],” Harris said. “She’s a delightful person. Her presence in the gym is just amazing. Here knowledge of gymnastics and how to coach it is world

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class. And it’s just fun.” Podkopayeva says she likes living in Atlanta. It reminds her more of her Ukrainian home than her previous residence in Florida. She likes the hills. And the seasons. It seems like a good place to raise kids. “It reminds me a little bit of Kiev,” she said. She feels other ties to Atlanta, too. There are memories of her gold medal performances in the Atlanta Olympics, of course. And she credits a doctor at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with saving her daughter’s life when the child needed surgery related to blood vessels in her brain. Podkopayeva calls the doctor her own Olympic champion. “I consider myself a Ukrainian, but I really appreciate everything I got here in the U.S. When I was here [before], I was like 20 years old. When you’re in gymnastics, you know nothing but gymnastics. You practice seven, eight hours a day. You get used to it.” And even though she stopped competing, she couldn’t just walk away from gymnastics. Twenty years on, she can’t imagine herself as a pensioner, someone who doesn’t keep working and keep active. “I don’t like it when my cellphone doesn’t ring,” she said.

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Classifieds | 21

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22 | Public Safety

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Dunwoody police chief opposes alarm ordinances like one in Sandy Springs BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Dunwoody Police Department’s

10th Anniversary Open House April 1, 2019

The Dunwoody Police Department is turning 10! Dunwoody’s “First 40” police officers rolled out at midnight on April 1, 2009.

You are invited

10th Anniversary Open House Monday, April 1st 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Dunwoody City Hall 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Road Dunwoody, GA 30338 Join Police Chief Billy Grogan and the men and women of the Dunwoody Police Department for a rare “behindthe-scenes” look at areas and equipment otherwise restricted to the public such as our Mobile Command Center, Crime Lab, Patrol and Investigations Units, Holding Cell and much more! • Police/SWAT “Touch-a-Truck” and “Ask-a-Cop” • Info on Crime Prevention, Public Safety programs & classes • Police & Police Explorer Recruitment info • Free Child ID Kits • Refreshments and Giveaways

As Sandy Springs prepares require verification before responding to security alarms, the Dunwoody police chief has appeared in an industry video against the practice. Two lawyers spoke out against the ordinance before theCity Council, calling it “unsafe.” The city’s attempt to crack down on false burglar and fire alarms includes fining alarm companies and requiring verification before responding. The city says it gets thousands of alarm calls a year, of which about 99 percent are false, tying up police officers and firefighters and costing enormous sums of money. Verification requirements that go into effect June 19 require alarm companies to provide direct confirmation that a burglar alarm call is a real crime – with audio or video devices or in person – before calling 911. Darryl Laddin, an Atlanta attorney, argued verification is “a big step backward” during public comment at the City Council’s Feb. 19 meeting. “The bottom line is this is a dangerous

ordinance,” Laddin said. “It signals to criminals Sandy Springs is open for business.” The ordinance has been controversial with residents and alarm companies who say the practice could lead to increase burglaries because law enforcement response would be delayed. The city has set up a long webpage defending the alarm ordinance. The city argues residents and businesses can easily comply with the verification requirements. “Importantly, the technology for audio and video verification is available today, even for the individual homeowner to secure and place on his own,” the webpage says. “In fact, many alarm companies already offer these services.” The goal of the verification requirements is to reduce the number of false alarm calls, according to the city. The city says security alarm calls are already a low priority because the amount of false alarms. Once verified, the response would actually be a higher priority and faster. As the city prepares to put its verification requirements into effect, the police chief of its neighbor Dunwoody has appeared in a by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition backing its model ordinance, which Dun-

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MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net woody uses. SIAC, which supported an industry lawsuit against Sandy Springs that the city won, says its model ordinance has reduced false alarms for the cities that use it and has won the support of many police chief organizations. The model ordinance calls for fining citizens for false alarms and is against verification. Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan said in an email he SPECIAL helped implement the model orDunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan appears dinance when he worked for the in a video supporting the false alarm model Marietta Police Department and ordinance supported by the security industry. “was able to reduce false alarms ment response. significantly as have many other commuLaddin argued elderly people may not nities.” He participated in a SIAC video at be able to afford verification equipment, the time about the model ordinance and and some people do not already have agreed to be in the updated version released smartphone that can be used to connect in January. with many of the security camera systems. “In Dunwoody, we also implemented the “It leaves the perpetrator with as much Model Alarm Ordinance several years ago time as they want,” he said. “This is a seriand have seen a significant reduction in our ous, serious problem that doesn’t make false alarms as well,” Grogan said. sense.” Dunwoody requires registration and Jay Abt, who said he is a criminal defense has escalating fines for false alarms that attorney, asked Sandy Springs to reconsidare billed to alarm system customers, like er the ordinance and instead implement businesses or residents. Starting at $50 for higher fines like Atlanta or Dunwoody. Abt the third false alarm, fines rise to $500 for said he knows how criminals operate due 10 or more, according to the Dunwoody Poto his career. lice Department website. “I’ve probably met more burglars than Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, who people in law enforcement,” he said. “I serves as the alarm systems committee know you are incentivizing publicly and chair for the Georgia Association of Chiefs telling them [Sandy Springs] is a great place of Police previously said the group opposes to commit crimes.” requiring verification before a law enforce-

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DAYBREAK PROGRAM for Memory Neighborhood lead by Director of Memory Care, Bridggett Bartlett. March 14, Thursday, at Marlow's Tavern, Dunwoody, 2 - 3:30 pm, 1317 Dunwoody Village Parkway, 30388, next to First Watch across from Ace Hardware. April 4, Thursday, at Marlow's Tavern, Alpharetta, 2 - 3:30 pm, 3719 Old Alabama Road, Alpharetta, 30022 corner of Jones Bridge. April 25, Thursday, at Redland's Grill, Peachtree Corners, 2 - 3:30 pm, 5245 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross, 30092 at The Forum, Spalding and Peachtree Parkway.

ACTIVITIES Learn about our vast options of events, activities, and outings to appeal to a variety of interests. March 21, Thursday, at Marlow's Tavern, Dunwoody, 2 - 3:30 pm, 1317 Dunwoody Village Parkway, 30388, next to First Watch across from Ace Hardware. April 11, Thursday, at Marlow's Tavern, Alpharetta, 2 - 3:30 pm, 3719 Old Alabama Road, Alpharetta, 30022 corner of Jones Bridge. May 2, Thursday, at Redland's Grill, Peachtree Corners, 2 - 3:30 pm, 5245 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross, 30092 at The Forum, Spalding and Peachtree Parkway.

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FROM POTTERY TO SCARVES, LOCAL ARTISTS FEATURED IN AMERICAN CRAFT SHOW PAGE 26

Dunwoody Brookhaven Buckhead

SECTION TWO

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A TV comedy pioneer joins a movie theater’s new era BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Bill Tush became one of Atlanta’s beloved cult personalities in the 1970s with a late-night newscast that became the prototype for such shows as “The Daily Show” and launched the careers of such comedy stars as Jan Hooks. Tush (the name rhymes with “rush”) now is a manager at Springs Cinema & Taphouse in Sandy Springs, where he helped usher in a complete transformation of the former Lefont art house theater. Luxury, heated recliners have replaced beaten up and stained traditional movie seating. A

full bar with a wide selection of craft beer and menu items including chicken fingers have replaced a lonely hot dog warmer. The popcorn, candy and sodas remain, although with a wider variety. Working at a movie theater is a natural choice for employment in his “twilight years,” he says. His love of movies dates back to his childhood when he would charge neighborhood kids to watch 8mm films in the backyard of his Pittsburgh home, even serving up popcorn. “I think I watched too much ‘Little Rascals.’ They were always trying to start a business,” he says. The changes made by Brandt Gully, who

purchased the theater from George Lefont, are perhaps life-changing for people who want to go out for a movie experience but retain the comfort sitting in their living rooms, Tush says. “You can’t just show a movie anymore,” he said.

Bill Tush, who garnered cult figure status on Ted Turner’s fledgling local TV station in the 1970s, is now a manager at Springs Cinema & Taphouse. PHOTO BY DYANA BAGBY

Cult figure status

Before there was an art house theater, though, there was WTCG Channel 17, a local station purchased by Ted Turner. Tush got a job in the 1970s at the new station, where he became a jack-of-all-trades and Turner’s “yes man” and loyal “pal.” Turner filled his new station’s airwaves in the mid-1970s with Atlanta Braves ball-

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games and old sitcoms like “Gilligan’s Island” and Bugs Bunny cartoons. During the weekends on Channel 17, Tush’s love for movies was put to use as the host for film broadcasts ranging from Academy Award-winners like “Giant” star-

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From pottery to scarves, local artists featured in American Craft Show BY JUDITH SCHONBAK Lora Rust, a native Atlantan, grew up in a Buckhead home filled with beautiful original pottery. But is was not just for show. “We had many special pieces that we used every day, for the sheer enjoyment of touching them instead of just looking at them.” That enjoyment never faded, and it is the heart of her ceramics. She creates distinctive functional works -- bowls, vases, mugs and tumblers -- with lush, fluid surfaces that “beg to be touched,” she said. Rust is one of more than 230 artists showcasing their work in the prestigious American Craft Show in 2019, scheduled for March 15-17 at Cobb Galleria Centre. It is celebrating its 30th consecutive year in Atlanta. One of the largest juried fine craft shows in the Southeast, it features top contemporary craft artists nationwide in handmade ceramics, fine jewelry, textiles, wood work, apparel, home décor and furniture. Felting artist Debra Kidd is also among the 32 artists from Georgia this year. It is her fourth appearance in the annual craft show in Atlanta. Her Brookhaven studio is stacked with bins of yarns and fabrics in many colors from suppliers around the globe, rolls of bubble wrap and a stash of shortened swimming pool noodles. The space is dominated by two long tables – the stage where she creates her signature scarves and other wearable art. Kidd said she is pleased to return to the American Craft Show. “It has such high-quality artists and I like the energy of the people who come. They are so interested in the crafts and are art-savvy.”

An ‘aha moment’ in pottery

Rust first put her hand to a pottery wheel in high school, when she opted for pottery for her required art course. The experience with the wheel stayed with her. After graduating from Tulane University, she took a job with a fast-growing young company and ultimately became

Top, Debra Kidd in her studio. Above, Lora Rust at work. Above left, One of Lora Rust’s artworks. Left, a scarf created by Kidd.

SPECIAL

the head of human resources. Some years later, married and with two thenteenage girls with busy school and gymnastic schedules, she left the corporate world to be a full-time mom. With more time for herself, she took the opportunity to tap into her creative side and enrolled in a pottery course at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. She found her passion in ceramics. Rust studied for four years under Glenn Dair, former director, now retired, of Callanwolde’s acclaimed pottery department, who shares her studio space. She entered a two-year internship in pottery at the arts center where she developed her signature style. She had an “aha” moment that led to that style. While using the end of a ruler to make a design in a mug, the tool slipped and bunched up the clay. It was a fortuitous mistake. It gave the design texture and depth, she said. When she starts creating the design by pushing the surface of the clay on the form, she calls it “loralizing.” Her pieces have an Art Nouveau design. “I was drawn to that type of design before I knew it had a name,” she said. “I love its fluidity.” She is also influenced by designs and patterns found in Gothic architecture, from her days as a choirgirl, staring at the architecture in cathedrals, notably the Cathedral of St. Philip’s in Buckhead, she recalled. She is inspired, too, by the fall and drape of textiles and fashion design. They provide movement to the texture on the clay form. Rust has created her own tools that each make a special design element in


Art & Entertainment | 27

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net the clay and she has borrowed shapes for tools like a bear’s leg puzzle piece and an oar for a pirate ship puzzle, among others. She recently developed a basic set of tools that went on the market in February this year. Using fine white porcelain clay, Rust throws her pieces on the wheel in her studio in the Zonolite complex in Atlanta. Once they are set to what is called “leather hard,” she begins pushing the design into the clay. When she has pieces ready, she packs them up for a trip to her soda kiln in Blue Ridge, Ga., where she and her husband have a second home. Science and chemistry meld with artistry to create certain glazes and colors on all the pieces. It’s a complex process that requires careful placement in the kiln; the use of just the right amount of glazing chemicals – her favorite is copper; the proper spraying in the kiln with a mixture of water, baking soda and soda ash; proper venting and, of course, temperature. The sodium vapors glaze the exterior of each piece. She is always experimenting and recently began looking beyond her functional vessels to create decorative wall pieces. “I want to keep on going,” Rust said, “and be a very old lady potter.” She has been teaching at Callanwolde for 10 years and holds workshops nationwide. This is her fifth year in the American Craft Show in Atlanta. “I love being a local artist and connecting directly with customers. The Atlanta show is a big draw,” she said, “and it is an opportunity to meet other artists as well as to connect with potential art centers, galleries and workshops.”

Show are light in weight, airy, colorful and rich in texture. Kidd is an architect with a boutique firm in the Old Fourth Ward. She works every day with glass, steel and concrete and exact measurements. “The softness and freedom of felting is a totally different experience and a kind of escape,” she said. She discovered felting by way of a gift of a felted scarf from her sister and, she said, “I became obsessed with how to do it.” When the last recession hit the architectural community hard, Kidd was temporarily laid off. The silver lining was that she had time to pursue her obsession. Through experimentation, she taught herself the art of felting. She continues to experiment to discover new effects. The obsession is alive and well, and she has gone on to teach workshops in felting and win awards as a fiber artist. Felting is an ancient process that has been used around the world for millennia. There is dry and wet felting. Kidd does both, but wet felting is her specialty. She lays out carded or combed and hand-dyed wool fibers -- choosing among alpaca, merino, cashmere, angora, mohair, yak and more -- on top of a length of fine natural fabric like silk or chiffon. Bubble wrap protects her work tables in this wet art form. With a practiced eye for color and de-

The freedom of felting

For many of us, the word felting may suggest a wool fabric in jackets and hats, and Kidd has created those, but her scarves featured at the American Craft

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sign and an intimate knowledge of fibers, she is in her element. For design, she adds other fibers, like silk, ribbons or mixed fibers of various thicknesses. She then sprays the piece with warm soapy water that shrinks the fibers. A 10-foot length of silk can shrink to 6 feet long. “Wool is the glue that holds it all together. It is a living fiber that entangles

and migrates through the layers,” she says. “Agitation -- rolling the assembled piece with a plastic-covered noodle -- and compression cause the fibers to hook together and make a single piece of fabric.” It’s a long process that can involve hours to lay out and hours of rolling. “Good for the arm muscles,” she said with a laugh.

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Q&A with Clint Harp How Dunwoody shaped a famous TV woodworker

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For those who believe there are no coincidences in life, we give you Dunwoody’s Clint Harp and two occasions when his life took a fortuitous turn. You might know about the first one, when Harp bumped into Chip Gaines at a gas station in Waco, Texas, seven years ago. At the time, Harp was broke and trying to make a go of his passion for custom furniture-making. One thing led to another, and within months the woodworker and Chip and Joanna Gaines were filming a pilot for “Fixer Upper,” which became a hit show for HGTV, airing for five years. You probably don’t know about the second one, which happened way back when Harp was a teenager and part of a youth group at Dunwoody Baptist Church. Allen Jackson — then the church’s youth minister, now its senior pastor — had a soft spot for Harp, and both of them were part of the church’s mission trip to inner-city New Orleans. “Somehow, we ended up at Café Du Monde together,” Harp recalls of the trip. “As we talked, he said, ‘Clint, there’s three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what just happened.’ And he also said, ‘Your integrity is the most important thing about you.’ “Those words of wisdom define me today. I’m a person of integrity, and I’m one who makes things happen.” Harp’s ability to make things happen — by making things — has resulted in a measure of national

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Art & Entertainment | 29

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net fame and will bring him to the 41st annual Atlanta Home Show for speaking appearances on March 22 and 23 at the Cobb Galleria Centre. (For more information, go to AtlantaHomeShow.com.) None of Harp’s success — he’s also the author of a book, “Handcrafted: A Woodworker’s Story” — comes as a surprise to Jackson, who says he remembers a boy earnestly “trying to figure out his family” in the wake of his parents’ divorce. “He was in the process of deciding to live a life of integrity, no matter where his journey took him,” Jackson says. “I remember picking him up so that he could be at church on Wednesday nights. I remember him being easy for everybody to like. He was friends with everybody. “Clint is such a good, good guy. He was authentic then, just like he is now.” We explored Harp’s Georgia days with him in a recent phone interview.

Q: How does Dunwoody fit into

your life story? A: I’ll always consider Dunwoody

home. I was born at Piedmont Hospital in 1977, and in about 1980 I moved with my mom and stepdad to Asheville, North Carolina. For about eight years, I spent every other weekend back in Atlanta with my dad. At age 11, I moved back to Atlanta. I went to Woodland Elementary School, Ridgeview Middle School, Peachtree Junior High School and Dunwoody High School, graduating in 1996.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories of those days? A: One of the best memories is the

time I spent with my family on my dad’s side in the Paces Ferry and Vinings area. My granddad on my mom’s side, I got my genes for building from him. He built a house off Spalding Drive on the Chattahoochee River. I was constantly canoeing on the river and playing on a rope swing and hanging out on the sandbars. There

were peacocks walking around the yard. My grandmother, Ann Callaway Martin, worked for President Carter at his library and knew the Carter family.

Q: What’s the first thing you ever built? A: In shop class in the ninth grade, I built a trashcan out of pine for my mom.

Q: When you speak to an audience, as you will at the Atlanta Home Show, is there a message that you try to leave with them? A: I try to tell a story. I believe that as

we share, we find that we have a lot in common. Everyone has themes in their life, and family struggle was a theme in mine. But people stepped up in my life, as well. I’m where I am because of all the things that happened in my life. I’ve used all of it to get to where I am today. I was married with two kids when I quit a six-figure job (in medical sales) to go for

my dream. We went for it. I chose years ago to make something happen with no promise of anything. I never would have met Chip Gaines if I hadn’t been going for it.

Q: What are the Gaineses like? A: Joanna is just as talented as you

think she is. She’s the real deal, insanely gifted and a great person. Chip is just as funny in person [as he is on TV]. You want to have barbecue and a beer with him. He has an energy that attracts people to him.

Q: What are your thoughts about coming back to Atlanta for the show? A: I’ve wanted to do the Atlanta Home

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A TV comedy pioneer joins a movie theater’s new era Continued from page 1 ring James Dean and Rock Hudson to Hollywood classics like 1935’s comedy “Ruggles of Red Gap” starring Charles Laughten, who went on to star as Quasimodo in 1939’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” “We ran the gamut … it’s like what TCM [Turner Classic Movies] does now,” Tush says. Tush also started hosting a 3 a.m. newscast on Channel 17, where he and a few crew members incorporated silly skits into a regular reading of events of the day. There was the episode where Tush was literally dragged off the set by a “kidnapper” as part of a sketch highlighting news of diplomats being kidnapped around the globe, he said. “There was fake panic from the crew,” Tush remembers as he actually screamed while being forcefully removed from behind his news desk. Then there was the addition of a new, award-winning weatherman from Cleveland, Ohio. Tush and his crew promoted his start date for a week. On the day the new weatherman started, Tush said, he grabbed an older announcer who worked elsewhere in the station, positioned him in front of a weather map, and gave him his cue that he was on the air. The star weatherman introduced himself, then grabbed his chest as part of the gag and died on air, creating another fake panic on set. “That was the joke!” Tush laughed. Nothing was written down other than the weatherman would die on air after a week of anticipation, he said. Late-night viewers were instantly amused and Tush achieved a cult following of fans captivated by this new niche entertainment. The success led him to becoming a face of Turner’s media empire during its fledgling years. He still receives an invitation to Turner’s birthday bash every year. Tush’s 1970s newscasts are considered by many TV pundits as a pioneer in late-night TV. In 2002, renowned Associ-

Bill Tush, in rear, with Jan Hooks, at left, and the rest of the crew of the sketch comedy show “Tush” that aired on what is now TBS in 1980-81. The show helped launch Hooks’ career, including on “Saturday Night Live.” SPECIAL

ated Press TV writer Frazier Moore wrote of Channel 17 and Tush’s brand of humor, “Here, a quarter-century ago, was Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show’ stripped down to raw abandon, on zero bucks.” “People always say it was ‘The Daily Show’ before ‘The Daily Show.’ But it wasn’t,” says Tush with a headshake. “It was a crazy, all ad-libbed, [a] whatever goes, goes show. There were no writers, no scripts.” Tush says he still writes jokes and humorous musings on one of his six typewriters in his Atlanta apartment. He keeps the pages and pages of ideas, with nowhere yet to go, in boxes of stationery paper he finds at Goodwill stores. The success of his newscasts led Turner to give Tush his own one-hour sketch comedy show aptly named, “Tush.” The one-hour show aired from 1980-81 on what is now the multichannel TBS network. The show helped launch Hooks’ career, as well as the careers of writers Bonnie and Terry Turner, who went on to

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create such massive hit sitcoms as “3rd Rock from the Sun” and “That ’70s Show.” Hooks was a master of many personalities, Tush says. On “Tush,” her character Tammy Jean pleaded in a sugary sweet Southern accent for viewers to donate money to save humanity from the evils of hang gliders. She sang the song “I’m Commercial,” a satire of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” with the chorus, “I’m inane, I’m an imbecile, I’m commercial.” She played Tootsie Plunkette, the diva of the popular “Captain Space” skit, where Tush and others wore weight loss sauna suits as uniforms and oversized water bottles as helmets. Sometimes Tammy Jean was so convincing, people would send in $4 or $5, he said. Back then, that was enough for a lunch. “She was the star of the show,” Tush said of Hooks. During a recent afternoon in the Springs Cinema lobby, Tush, 70, took out his cellphone and nervously played the last

message Hooks left him, the date stamp showing March 2014. Hooks died Oct. 9, 2014, at age 57, of throat cancer. “I’m deathly afraid of erasing this darned thing,” Tush said, visibly frustrated as he taps his phone’s screen. After a few seconds, “Biiiilllll!” in Hooks’ familiar voice, although a bit scratchy, finally played. “It’s Jan. You’re probably away across the ocean, but, um, I haven’t talked to you in a while and I just wanted to check in … and I’ve been thinking about you,” she says. “I hope all is well. OK. Bye.” “I don’t know what to do with this,” he says of the message, which came when he was working in Nigeria as a consultant for a new TV network. “When I came back, she was already dead ... and I had this message.” When “Tush” was axed after one season, Turner landed Tush a job as host of a new entertainment show, “People Now,” on CNN. The new gig meant packing up and moving from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Tush and Hooks were roommates along with a former “Tush” writer; all three decided to take their chances and head to Hollywood together. “She’s out there, doing her thing, getting nowhere. Then [“People Now”] is canceled, and I’m left drifting,” he says. “She’s struggling. And she’d call me and say, ‘I can’t take it anymore. I’m calling you to tell you I’m killing myself. “I’d say, don’t do it! And meet me at Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel,” he says of what became a tradition for the duo. The two would meet at the small restau-


Art & Entertainment | 31

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net rant where Hale, the skipper from “Gilligan’s Island,” would come out every night at 6 p.m. and make an appearance. “And we’d go there and drink and laugh,” Tush says with a smile. “And a week later, I’d call Jan and say the same thing, and we’d meet again.” Tush then got a gig at CNN’s “Showbiz Today” in New York City and Hooks called a few months later to say she was coming to New York to do “Saturday Night Live.”

She also went on to do “Designing Women” and also “3rd Rock from the Sun,” a show created by former “Tush” writers Bonnie and Terry Turner. “So, we went from Atlanta to L.A. to New York together. We were always together,” he says. “We’d call each other four times a week to talk about stupid things. And then I go to Nigeria and she gets sick.” Hooks was a heavy smoker and Tush said he later learned she smoked right up

to the end, removing her oxygen mask to take a drag and to drink her wine. “We always had this running gag where she’d go, ‘Biiiillllll!’ he said. “We had so many crazy fun times together.” A few months ago, another close friend and “Tush” alum, Bob Gillies, died. Gillies had starred in “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In” in 1967 before becoming teaming up with Tush and Hooks. Gillies is now in an urn on a shelf in

Tush’s apartment. Tush said he’s not sure what he’s going to do with him. Sneaking his ashes on an upcoming trip to London on the Queen Mary luxury cruise ship and dumping them into the ocean may be a good idea, he says. “He’d like that,” Tush says. “He’s got nowhere to go. Like me, I’ve got nowhere to go. Throw me over the side.”

Springs Cinema & Taphouse renovation gets rave reviews BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

At a Feb. 7 VIP reception, more than 100 people gathered to see for the first time the extensive renovations to Springs Cinema & Taphouse movie theater, formerly the Lefont. Plenty of “oohs” and “ahs” were expressed at everything from the new rug in the lobby area, the tasty food, bartenders slinging cocktails and such details as movie reel fixtures throughout the lobby. Attendees were able to catch a free screening of now Best Picture Oscar-winner “Green Book” while checking out seats that heat up or extend into recliners with a push of a button. “This theater is important to Sandy Springs,” said Howard Mavity at the reception. As a 16-year city resident, he said he watched movies at the theater when it was operated by George Lefont and plans to attend even more screenings at its sequel under the helm of new owner Brandt Gully. “I loved George, but it was time,” Mavity said. “What’s [Gully] has done is very unique. It’s a home run. This place has been embraced by the city.” A full bar where people can grab a Jack and Coke and watch a basketball game, a venue where nonprofit organizations can hold fundraisers, and even a place where a pre-teens can have celebrate birthdays and play “Fortnite” on the big screen – these are all now available at what Gully says is “different than your typical chain movie theater.” But make no mistake, movies – art films, foreign films, blockbusters -- are the top priorities, he said. “First and foremost, this is a movie theater,” Gully said, “and it is when people come to the movies that they discover what else we have.” Gully purchased the theater in 2017 from Lefont, who retired after a career that spanned more than 40 years of making Atlanta movie history as the owner of the Silver Screen in Buckhead; the landmark Plaza Theatre, still Atlanta’s oldest continuously operating theater; the Screening Room; and the Garden Hills Cinema. The theater is located in the Parkside Shops shopping center at 5920 Roswell Road, in the rear facing Sandy Springs Circle. Gully is no amateur when it comes to running a movie theater. For years he’s worked in securing funding for construction and renovation of movie theaters and other entertainment venues, including at the large corporation GE Capital, and working with such major chains as AMC and General Cinemas. In 2009, he started his own business,

EFA Partners, to help venues broker funding. Among local companies he has worked with are the CineBistro at Town Brookhaven theater and the Topgolf golf-oriented entertainment complexes. Lefont gave him an office at his theater about three years ago and Gully said he fell in love with the place and in love with the loyal customers. But the movie theater was falling into serious disrepair. Dirt and muck caked the floors, hot dogs sold from behind the register came with buns that were hard as a rock, and over the summer the air conditioning units went out in two theaters. Gully wanted to take his experience and transform the theater he knew was important to the community. “I think the location is fantastic for an entertainment venue ... and there’s tons of exciting growth in the area,” Gully said. For more information, see springscinema.com

Springs Cinema & Taphouse boasts new luxury recliners as seating in the renovated movie theater.

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MARCH 2019

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Special Section | 37

Horse Lovers Summer Camp 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!

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BROOKHAVEN

BUCKHEAD

PERFORMANCES URINETOWN, THE MUSICAL

Explore, connect, create change for a better world. A welcoming community with local roots and global reach, composed of families from over 90 countries. • An intellectually stimulating environment for inquisitive, hands-on explorers who learn by doing and questioning • Full immersion preschool and partial immersion primary programs in French, German, Mandarin and Spanish • International Baccalaureate curriculum, Grades 3K - 12 2890 North Fulton Drive Atlanta, Georgia, 30305 404•841•3840

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Thursday, March 7 through Saturday, March 9, 7 p.m. A satirical musical about a world where a corporation controls restrooms, performed by Chamblee OnStage students. Chamblee Charter High School Auditorium, 3688 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road Chamblee. Tickets $10. Info: cchsurinetown.bpt.me.

XANADU, JR.

Thursday, March 7 through Sunday, March 17 Jerry’s Habima Theatre, Georgia’s only theatrical company featuring actors with special needs, presents a musical about a Greek Muse coming to California. Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Members: $25, Non-members: $35. Info: 678-812-4002, or visit online at atlantajcc.org/habima.

SOUTH PACIFIC

Thursday, March 8 through Sunday March 17 Directed and choreographed by Tony Award Recipient Baayork Lee, the 10-time Tony

H I G H

DUNWOODY

SANDY SPRINGS

Award winning musical comes to Sandy Springs. Set on a tropical island during World War II, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic tells a story about love transcending the harsh realities of war and prejudice. Presented by City Springs Theatre Company. Byers Theatre, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. $30-$62, Info: citysprings.com.

POETRY OUT LOUD

Sunday, March 17, 1 p.m. A high school poetry competition incorporating the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English and drama class. The Georgia winner competes at the National Finals in Washington, D.C. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Free. Info:  atlantahistorycenter. com.

ANASTASIA AND PETER PAN

Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 Roswell Dance Theatre and Atlanta Dance Theatre present “Anastasia, Once Upon a December” and “Peter Pan, Pirates and Pixie Dust.” Byers Theatre, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. $20-$28, Info: citysprings.com

HIGH MUSEUM OF ART ATLANTA | HIGH.ORG

Enjoy free admission and special programs on the second Sunday of each month.

Designed for little kids, big kids, and the whole family, Second Sundays are for everyone. Visit us each month and experience new interactive, innovative family activities inspired by our collections and ever-changing exhibitions. Second Sundays are sponsored by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.


Art & Entertainment | 39

MARCH 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

ARIEL RIVKA DANCE COMPANY

Saturday, March 23, 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 24, 5 pm The all-female contemporary group based in New York/New Jersey uses emotional movement, precise technique and harmonized collaboration in their critically acclaimed performances. MJCCA – Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Members: adults $25, children $15; Non-members: adults $36, children $20 Info: atlantajcc.org/arielrivka.

MUSYKA, MUSIQUE, MUSICA, MUZIK, MUSIC

Sunday, March 24, 4 p.m. The Atlanta Concert Band and Synagogue Ahavath Achim is present a concert of influences on the American sound. Synagogue Ahavath Achim, 600 Peachtree Battle Avenue, Atlanta. Free. Info: atlantaconcertband.org.

LISTEN: WORKS BY WOMEN

Sunday, March 24, 4 p.m. A special chamber performance by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians honors Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day with chamber music written by women. Skylight Gallery, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Lowry Hall, 3rd Floor, 4484 Peachtree Road NE, Brookhaven. Free. Info: connect.oglethorpe.edu.

VISUAL ARTS SEVEN POINTS OF VIEW

Saturday, March 9, 6-8 p.m., through April 17 An exhibition of paintings by the collective “Seven Points of View,” based at the Chastain Arts Center, featuring works from Claudia Earnest, Brenda Hinton, Cindy James, Margot Longreen, Helen McSwain, Twinkle Nelson, Sheryl Pressler, Sallie Ritter Smith and Kay Summers. Gallery 4945, Highpoint Episcopal Community Church, 4945 High Point Road, Sandy Springs. Info: gallery4945.weebly.com or Clara Blalock at 404-434-9606.

LEARN SOMETHING

EXPLORING MARS

Thursday, March 14, 8 p.m. National Geographic Live hosts NASA mechanical engineer Kobie Boykins, a supervisor of the mobility and remote sensing teams for the rover Curiosity and winner of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal. Studio Theatre, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. $35. Info: citysprings.com.

SWARM SCIENCE: HOW HONEYBEES MAKE DECISIONS

Saturday, March 16 and Sunday March 17, 10 a.m. Is it really true that the queen bee calls the shots? How do honeybees communicate and make the best decision for the hive community? Come for a fascinating close-up look at the latest honeybee research, complete with hive observations, a honey tasting, and an outdoor experience part of the Atlanta Science Festival. Blue Heron Nature Preserve Field Research Center, 3931 Land O’Lakes Drive, Buckhead. $12. Info: atlantasciencefestival.org

FESTIVALS ATLANTA JEWISH MUSIC FESTIVAL

Thursday, March 7 through Saturday, March 16 The Atlanta Jewish Music Festival shares and celebrates Jewish heritage through music and artist experiences, this year featuring Grammy-winning artists, up-and-coming bands and history presentations on the theme of “Jewish Contributions to American Music.” Performers include Bill Charlap Trio (March 7, Atlanta History Center) and soul-pop band Lawrence (March 9, Vinyl @ Center Stage). Various locations and prices. Info: atlantajmf.org.

WHAT’S ON THE DARK WEB?

Tuesday, March 12, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. At the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber Signature Luncheon, Dr. Donald Hunt, a cybersecurity expert and former National Security Agency and FBI consultant, will bring the “dark web” of unlisted internet sites to life and chat about how criminals operate. Westin Atlanta Perimeter North, 7 Concourse Parkway, Sandy Springs. Members: $40, nonmembers: $45. Info: business.sandyspringsperimeterchamber.com.

THE ASTROBIOLOGY OF STAR WARS

Wednesday, March 13, 5-7 p.m. Gather for this all-ages Star Wars adventure, where Professor Jay Dunn and Dr. Jessica Parilla will lead a discussion on how the worlds and aliens of the “Star Wars” films compare to known planets and life in our solar system and beyond. Part of the Atlanta Science Festival. Georgia State University Perimeter College, Dunwoody Campus, Building NC, Room 1100, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody. Free. Info: atlantasciencefestival.org.

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MADAME FOURCADE’S SECRET WAR

Monday, March 11, 8 p.m. Author Lynne Olson discusses her book about the leader of a Resistance intelligence organization, during World War II. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Members $5; non-members $10. Info: atlantahistorycenter.org or 404-814-4150.

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Experience Metro Atlanta’s Most Exciting Spring Festival Artist Market • Pet World Kidz Zone • Classic Car Show

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March 2019 - Dunwoody Reporter  

March 2019 - Dunwoody Reporter  

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