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MARCH 2020 • VOL. 12 — NO. 3

Brookhaven Reporter COMMENTARY

Local leaders react to GDOT’s toll lanes plan P10

Section Two


Sandy Spring s Dunw oody

piano man in a department store P25 ►Donna Lefont helps keep film history alive P25 ►STAR students and teachers P33

I-285 toll lanes would bring new highway access points to local streets

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Stormwater utility rates could rise 60% to 85% over five years

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Jerusalem House is celebrating its 30th anniversary. For the past 12 years, it has been headquartered at 17 Executive Park Drive. It’s here where all the administrative functions occur, budgets are made, fundraisers are planned, website and social media accounts are overseen, and facilities manage-

Property owners in Brookhaven could soon see their stormwater utility rates rise by roughly 60% to 85% over the next five years to pay for maintenance and upgrades to the system. Regular maintenance of the ’s stormwater system, coupled with 61 recommended improvement projects planned over the next five years, would cost roughly $20 million. But there is not enough money coming into the ’s stormwater utility fund to pay for all of them, officials say. Hiking the current $60 annual stormwater utility fee -- by $24 to $36 immediately plus a 3% increase a year over the next five years -- would cover the costs to pay for the projects needed to tackle drainage and flooding issues. “If we can solve the stormwater [problems] so future councils … can add on and move on, then we need to do that,” Mayor John Ernst said at the council’s Feb. 8 retreat at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina. The retreat is a meeting where the council discusses and set priorities. A formal proposal and council vote on any rate hike would come at a future public meeting. A decision to change the rates needs to be made by April 14 to be included on this year’s property tax bills. Stormwater runoff occurs when rain falls on paved surfaces that do not allow the water to be soaked into the ground. The runoff collects contaminants, garbage and debris and dumps them into waterways.

See GROUP on page 22

See STORMWATER on page 16


A screen capture from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s video of its concept for an access point to the planned I-285 top end toll lanes at Perimeter Center Parkway.

Group marks 30 years of fighting HIV by providing housing to those in need


The Brookhaven Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIP 30319 For information:

A depa pianist rtment stor entert in the key oe aining customf ers





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Von Ma partm ur’s tra ent sto demark re at woody Perime . On at its ter defully pla any given day, the Mall in Du yed pia nthe thr sounds no mu ee floo of ski rs. The sic carries at the throug llkeys sit piano hout and at on the first floo the foot of the the musici an chairs r, with escala nearby tor ban an are . a k of Pianis comfor t and table broad compos range er David of tun way dur Reeb pla es fro ing the ys a The Geo midday m classical to hours rgia nat four day Broadplayin g for Von ive is marki s a week. ng ployee s alike. Maur custom his eighth yea His fing ers and keys wit r ers mo store em hout a ve sur pause even wh ely over the en a sho pper Continu ed on page 28

The pirates who bring Mardi Gras to Buckhead P12

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2 | Community ■

Couple fights eviction threat in court, claims retaliation for tenant protest BY DYANA BAGBY

against tenants who organize against unsafe conditions. If found guilty of retaliation, the landlord would have to award the Hernandezes one month’s rent, or just over $1,000, plus A couple threatened with eviction from a Brookhav$500. The landlord would also have to pay attorney’s fees. en apartment is fighting back in court, saying the landlord “The law levels the playing field between low-income resiwanted to punish the wife for organizing other tenants to dents and landlords who have lots of money and resources,” complain to management and to city officials about poor livsaid Graff-Radloff, a Brookhaven resident who focuses on soing conditions. cial justice law. Alejandra and Yair Hernandez, the parents of five chilAn attempt to dismiss the eviction failed late last year and dren, were notified in October they were being evicted from a settlement could not be reached. The Hernandezes were their home at the Reserve at Brookhaven apartments. Properable to stay in their apartment until their lease expired Jan. ty managers allege the family repeatedly violated rules, such 31, 2020, essentially erasing the eviction claim. They now live as leaving trash bags outside their front door and putting in the Haven Hills Exchange apartments on Buford Highway bikes and toys on their balcony. The apartments are at 1750 in Brookhaven. But the law says the landlord can still be held Briarwood Road, a stone’s throw from a trailhead for the new liable even if the eviction case expires, Graff-Radloff said. Peachtree Creek Greenway at 1793 Briarwood Road. On Feb. 19, much of the counterclaim case was heard by Attorney Esther Graff-Radloff filed a counterclaim on beMagistrate Judge Gary Leshaw. Williams, the landlord’s athalf of the Hernandezes in DeKalb County Magistrate Court. torney, was scheduled to present its case Feb. 28. Leshaw inShe says the eviction was illegal because the landlord, Primedicated he would not make an immediate ruling following stone Fifeco Realty Fund LLC, was retaliating against Alejanthat hearing. dra Hernandez and her family. The lease is in Yair HernanDuring the Feb. 19 hearing, Alejandra Lopez said in Spandez’s name. ish through an English interpreter that on June 5, 2019, she DYANA BAGBY Mike Williams, an attorney for the landlord, declined and other tenants protested receiving $350 penalties for Alejandra Hernandez, left, with her attorney, Esther comment after a recent court hearing. Graff-Radloff, following their Feb. 19 hearing in DeKalb leaving bikes, toys, towels and other items on their patios County Magistrate Court. Hernandez is fighting the The eviction followed Alejandra Hernandez’s leadership and balconies. The protest included marching to the properrole in organizing tenants to demand repairs to air condi- Reserve at Brookhaven’s threat to evict her and her family, ty manager’s office to pay their rent and demanding the $350 saying the landlord retaliated against her organizing tioners and water leaks and treatment for rodent infestabe removed. Assisting in the organizing were members of the other residents to demand better living conditions. tions. She also helped organize other tenants to protest the Housing Justice League and Rebekah Cohen Morris, a memlandlord’s decision to issue $350 penalties for so-called patio violations because residents ber of the advocacy organization Los Vecinos de Buford Highway and now a Doraville City were leaving children’s toys and other clutter on their balconies and patios. Council member. A law approved last year by the General Assembly prohibits landlords from retaliating The protest became a shouting match and a property manager called Brookhaven Police to tell the residents to get out of her office. The $350 penalties were dismissed. At the time, Chip Fife, president of the company that owns the Reserve at Brookhaven, said the patio violations were implemented after Brookhaven officials conducted an inspection. Fife said the city inspectors told management the patios and balconies needed to be cleared because the city wanted Briarwood Road to be “very clean” now that the Greenway and public safety headquarters were to be located nearby. City officials denied Fife’s allegations and Mayor John Ernst met with Alejandra Hernandez and others to discuss the incident. Alejandra Hernandez learned how to inform tenants, now named Residentes Unidos, the correct way to file work orders with property managers to get repairs to their apartments such issues as caved-in ceilings. And when serious maintenance repairs were not made, she said, she told them how to contact Brookhaven code enforcement. “During the month of June 2019, Mrs. Hernandez and Residentes Unidos continued to protest dangerous repair conditions at the Reserve,” says the counterclaim. “They called the city of Brookhaven officials, called and wrote to corporate management and encouraged neighbors to demand repairs and learn their rights.” At the Feb. 19 hearing, Williams presented several pages of pictures taken of the Hernandezes’ doorway and apartment exterior between June and September. One picture showed a stroller in the breezeway; in another picture, a trash bag was sitting next to the front door. A ladder and a bike were photographed on the balcony. Another picture showed a child’s orange apron from Home Depot and a yoga mat on the balcony. All are instances of lease violations, Williams said, and numerous notifications were sent to the Hernandezes telling them to stop placing items outside their apartment. Because they ignored the requests, the decision was made to evict, he said. ® an affiliate of Alejandra Hernandez acknowledged in testimony she left some items outside her door or on the balcony, but said it was never for a long period of time. Graff-Radloff said it was a common and longstanding practice of residents at the ReProviding personalized thoughtful care to women serve of Brookhaven to leave minor items like toys and tricycles on porches and breezeways. The Hernandezes had been doing so for the approximately nine years they lived of all ages for over 30 years. there with no complaints from management. The notifications and threats to terminate their lease started only after the June 5 protest and throughout the summer and into SepCome see why we are so passionate tember as Alejandra Hernandez continued to organize her neighbors. about the health of women. Threatening the family of seven with eviction in October, shortly before the holidays and following months of demanding repairs to apartments, is not only morally wrong but illegal and retaliatory, Graff-Radloff said. 980 Johnson Ferry Rd., Ste 620, Sandy Springs, GA 30342 Leaving small items outside your door “are normal, everyday activities that are not nui404-255-2057 sance activities,” Graff-Radloff said. “They are not criminal activities. These are things that any mom living in a home needs to be able to do without retaliation and harassment.”

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MARCH 2020

Community | 3


Alternative rockers Better Than Ezra and singer-songwriter Rachel Platten will headline the annual Cherry Blossom Festival set for March 28-29 at Blackburn Park. Admission is free to the weekend GREG MILES Better Than Ezra closes out the Brookhaven festival, which includes arts and crafts Cherry Blossom Festival on March 29. vendors, children’s activities and food trucks. The festival is open both days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Blackburn Park is located at 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road. Rachel Platten headlines the Saturday, March 28 lineup and Better Than Ezra will close out the festival on Sunday, March 29. The city has partnered with concert producer Live Nation to book acts for the festival. A fixture on radio and MTV in the mid-’90s, Better Than Ezra’s “Good” from the


band’s breakthrough album “Deluxe” topped the Hot Modern Rock Tracks Chart at Number 1 and went multi-platinum, according to a news release. The band has been honored by Billboard as one of the “100 Greatest Alternative Artists of All Time.” Platten is an Emmy Award winner, multi-platinum selling recording artist. Her hit “Fight Song” from her 2015 “Wildfire” album peaked at Number 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Her children’s book, “You Belong,” is scheduled to be released March 31. The book is based on Platten’s 2018 song of the same name. For more information, see


State Rep. Mike Wilensky

State Rep. Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody) has filed a bill that says local governments can deny apartments or other residential developments because they could burden already overcrowded schools. Dunwoody parents and city leaders have been battling with the DeKalb County School District for years about overcrowding in local schools. Chamblee and Doraville, also in Wilensky’s district, are facing the same overcrowding issues. Brookhaven schools also are overcrowded. Wilensky said it is a statewide problem. He said House Bill 898 would clearly state local governments can deny zoning applications due to overcrowded schools.

4 | Community ■

Local cities approve automated speed cameras in school zones BY DYANA BAGBY AND KEVIN C. MADIGAN The cities of Brookhaven and Dunwoody have approved installing automated cameras to catch and ticket speeders in school zones. The technology is now available in Georgia after the General Assembly last year passed a law to allow the use of photo and video enforcement in school zones. Both cities recently approved contracts with RedSpeed, an Illinois-based provider of enforcement technology. Automated speed-detection cameras, software and signage will be installed by the company in both cities. RedSpeed also provides a website for control of citations and mailing procedures. When the cameras and equipment will be installed remains to be seen. Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan told the City Council at its Feb. 24 meeting that the DeKalb County School District has yet to sign off on the contract and the city must also gain approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation to show need. This process is expected to take months, he said. “We have awhile before this will roll out,” he said. The no-cost agreements allows RedSpeed to collect 35% of all fines. The remaining money must go toward local law enforcement. Brookhaven plans for the revenue to go to the city’s 911 fund. In Dunwoody, the money is being proposed to buy more surveillance cameras and license plate readers. “The idea is to get drivers to slow down, not collect fines,” said Brookhaven spokesperson Burke Brennan after the City Council approved the RedSpeed contract on Feb. 11, “Changing driver behavior is certainly our sole concern,” Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan told the City Council at its Feb. 24 meeting. Motorists that would be ticketed are those traveling at least 11 mph over the school zone speed limits an hour before school starts, during the school day and an hour after school lets out. Police officers will be trained by RedSpeed on how to review each citation before mailing a ticket to the registered owner. The fine will be $75 for a first citation and $125 for further citations in the same year. A study conducted in three Brookhaven school zones on Aug. 27 last year found more than 3,000 vehicles speeding at least 10 mph over the limit. Cross Keys High School on North Druid Hills Road had by far the highest number of speeders, with 2,230 passing by that day.

There were 467 violators recorded at St. Martin’s Episcopal School and 399 at Montgomery Elementary School, both on Ashford-Dunwoody Road. Earlier this year, Dunwoody conducted a one-day study and enforcement in three designated school zones on Roberts Drive where Austin Elementary School is, on Womack Road near Dunwoody High School and North Peachtree Road where Chesnut Elementary and Peachtree Charter Middle School are. There were 2,319 cars captured traveling at least 10 mph over the speed limit. North Peachtree Road had the most speeder with 1,067 citations issued. Police issued 639 speeding citations on Womack Road and 613 citations on Roberts Drive. RedSpeed will also have license plate readers in the school zones to notify police of sex offenders or wanted persons to increase safety in school zones. Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch asked RedSpeed representative Greg Parks at the Feb. 24 meeting how their cameras differed from the notorious red-light cameras. The red-light cameras were intended deter cars from speeding through traffic lights, a top cause of crashes. But recent studies have shown they were not effective in reducing red-light crashes. People also complained the cameras were only used to make money for municipalities and have led to class-action lawsuits from drivers who said they were illegally ticketed. Parks said school zone cameras, unlike red-light cameras, are focused on conservative enforcement in specific areas and for short amount of times. “The red-light cameras could be put anywhere, and tickets issued anytime,” he said. Dunwoody Councilmember John Heneghan asked about how a person could get information on the number of tickets being issued through the RedSpeed cameras. Parks said an open records request could be made to the city, which would then request the information from RedSpeed. RedSpeed states in their contracts that the local police departments will have access to their video footage when requested. RedSpeed will keep video data for 25 days unless otherwise asked by the cities to keep the footage longer. Once the cameras are ready to be installed, signs would be put up around school zones to notify drivers that RedSpeed cameras are in effect. Warnings will be issued to speeding drivers during the first 30 days of the program. Warning signs will be placed on both ends of every school zone.


MARCH 2020


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6 | Commentary ■

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

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The Sisters of Mercy, founded in Ireland in 1831, were often called “walking nuns.” Instead of staying cloistered, they walked the streets, caring for the poor. Today they “walk” the world, including Atlanta, where in 1890 four Sisters of Mercy founded Atlanta’s first hospital, known for years as St. Joseph’s Hospital, currently Emory St. Joseph’s. Though the hospital is now secular, the Sisters of Mercy have long held leadership roles. One of them is Sister Jane Gerety, Ph.D., who was senior vice president at St. Joseph’s for 17 years (19922009) before leaving to serve as president of Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. Last year, she retired from academia and anSPECIAL swered the call to return to Atlanta as chief mission officer of Mercy Care Atlanta, a network of Top, Mercy Care Chamblee, a comprehensive healthcare community healthcare centers offering compreclinic, was paid for entirely hensive care for the poor. by grants and donations. “I didn’t want to retire-retire,” she said. “AtlanAbove, Sister Jane Gerety, ta had been home for me, and I had friends here. chief mission officer of Mercy Care Atlanta. It seemed natural to come back.” It was also natural for her to join Mercy Care, as it had been part of St Joseph’s Hospital during her tenure there. Incorporated as a nonprofit in 1985, Mercy Care was an outreach of St. Joseph’s that sent teams with tackle boxes of medical supplies into the streets to treat the homeless. Since 2012, when St. Joseph’s joined Emory Healthcare, Mercy Care has paid its own way with funding from Emory Healthcare; public and corporate grants; private donations; and patients, who pay on a sliding scale based on their income. Despite having to regroup and build its own internal systems from scratch, Mercy Care has grown into 10 primary care locations throughout metro Atlanta, including six freestanding locations, four mobile clinics and multiple Street Care teams. It offers services for both children and adults, including primary, specialty, mental, vision and dental care, along with financial counseling, pastoral and recuperative care and much more. Like God’s mercy, Mercy Care is for everyone. In 2018, 75% of its patients were uninsured and living below the Federal poverty line; 60% were homeless. Medicare, Medic-

MARCH 2020

Commentary | 7

aid and most insurance plans are accepted. Mercy Care Chamblee, which opened in 2017, is an amazing 45,000-squarefoot, state-of-the-art facility at 5134 Peachtree Road that I was privileged to tour recently. Notable in the lobby is a large plaque listing the donors who made it all possible. Many of the names are familiar to us all. Everything at this location is exemplary, from the abundant natural light to the colorful furniture and walls, spotless floors and cheerful, welcoming staff. Many fancy Atlanta clinics could take lessons! As chief mission officer, Sister Jane is responsible for keeping everyone on mission -- which is compassion, commitment to the poor, excellence, integrity, justice, stewardship and reverence for the dignity of each person. “I’m involved with employees as they’re carrying out the mission,” she said. “I give them structures for seeing their work as sacred. It’s God’s work, whatever their religion.” One of her “structures” is the daily reflection she sends to everyone. She’s also learning how to address the “compassion fatigue” that affects people “surrounded by so much challenge and sorrow.” “I’ve never seen so much joy at serving as I’ve seen at Mercy Care,” she said. “Part of my role is to listen and help them find balance and boundaries without giving up their heart.” And then, there are the patients. “I’ve never been so close to people who have so little,” she said. “I want to listen, learn and be close to them.” With only four Sisters of Mercy in Atlanta and the numbers of religious dwindling everywhere, she feels her ultimate goal is “keeping the flame lit” among the lay people. Unlike the nuns many of us remember from childhood, Sister Jane wears normal street clothes. Though she wore a traditional habit for eight years after joining the Sisters at age 17, she no longer owns one. “The old habit was off-putting,” she said. “Dressing as lay women makes us more accessible.” Like lay women, she lives in her own apartment in Brookhaven, very near the three other Sisters of Mercy, one of whom lives in an apartment across the street and the other two in the convent behind St. Joseph’s Hospital. They “live in community” by meeting several times a week for dinner and caring for one another.. “We’re a virtual community,” Sister Jane said. Mercy Care accepts both financial and in-kind donations. For information, go to

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Residents concerned with Verizon 5G towers; cities consider filing suit BY HANNAH GRECO

Residents of a Sandy Springs neighborhood are raising concerns because Verizon has started digging up their yards to prepare for a plan to install over 1,000 new poles in the city in preparation for 5G, the newest generation of wireless technology for cellular networks. But city officials say they cannot interfere because of a new law that passed last year restricting local control on cell towers. In response to the new law, some cities are deciding to join a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission. One resident of Derby Hills, a neighborhood near Peachtree Dunwoody and Windsor Parkway in Sandy Springs, said he does not think Verizon communicated with anyone in the neighborhood before beginning the process of digging up yards for pole placement. “I can clearly tell there wasn’t any planning in this,” the resident said at a Feb. 4 council meeting. “There was no kind of conversation or correspondence with the neighborhoods.” Matt Hartley with Verizon spoke at the meeting, admitting that the company did not properly notify residents of the pole installations. “We dropped the ball on that,” Hartley said at the meeting. “We did not follow what we had discussed with the city permitting office as far as notifications for residents.” The installation of poles will continue, Hartley said, but Verizon is trying to avoid placing poles in front of houses and front doors at all costs. According to Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert, there are over 1,000 applications for such poles in Sandy Springs. Mayor Rusty Paul is unhappy with the legislation and is concerned with the amount of power it gives telecom companies. Paul said at a Feb. 4 meeting that the city fought against the bill last year, but the major telecom companies went to the legislature to be able to avoid local concern. “They went to the legislature and then they went to the Federal Telecommunications Commission to be able to bypass local governments because they see us as a problem,”

Paul said at the meeting. Sandy Springs is now considering joining the coalition of cities suing the FCC and will discuss the idea further at an upcoming council meeting. Brookhaven joined the lawsuit last year, which cost the city a $5,000 flat fee. “The primary reason we joined is because we had a number of complaints from citizens about small cells in front of their homes and messing up their viewshed,” said Brookhaven City Attorney Chris Balch in a recent interview. In 2018, the FCC issued an order for a “one-size-fits-all” solution to small cell deployment and curtailed what the city could do in its own right of way, he said. “When we joined the FCC fight, we said our citizens want to protect what their streets and sidewalks look like,” Balch said. “The FCC says we don’t have that power anymore.” Crown Castle is the country’s largest provider of wireless technology and owns many of the cell towers and fiber infrastructure used by companies like Verizon. Kimberly Adams, the company’s government relations manager for the area, said last year the state bill keeps wireless providers from having to meet different regulations in different cities and simplifies the process of getting high-speed internet access across the state. In March 2019, the Sandy Springs City Council passed a law that required companies to install new antennas on existing poles if possible and that set fees in preparation for the new legislation. The application fee for collocation is $100. Replacement poles will cost $500 and new poles $1,000. The fee for using the city’s right of way is set at $100 per year for collocation on an existing or replacement pole, $200 per year for new poles and $40 per year for collocation on a city pole, according to the ordinance. In December 2018, Brookhaven’s City Council approved its own small-cell legislation that determined the fair market value for use of city right of way is $1,000 for each wireless antenna, or small cell node. In 2015, the Dunwoody City Council approved a small-cell ordinance limiting the height and size of nodes. — Dyana Bagby contributed

MARCH 2020


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10 | Commentary

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Commentary: Local mayors and a resident react to I-285 toll lanes concept The Georgia Department of Transportation recently released more detailed concepts for its proposed I-285 top-end toll lanes project, so potential effects on local communities are easier to see. The designs show that more than 150 properties in Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Dunwoody and other nearby cities could be affected or demolished by the project. GDOT also proposes adding access points that would allow drivers to enter the new lanes from city streets. Among those following the project closely are Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch, Doraville Mayor Joseph Geierman and Dunwoody resident Robert Wolford. The Reporter asked them what they thought of the latest proposals. Now that the proposal is a step closer to reality, what do you think of it? Deutsch: Having watched the visualization of the managed lanes, I am amazed by the scale and scope of this project. It will forevDunwoody Mayor er change the landLynn Deutsch scape of metro Atlanta. I still remain unconvinced that this project will impact traffic in a meaningful way. Geierman: My thoughts about this project have not changed. Research has proven that adding more lanes to freeways does not solve traffic congestion. I think the taxpayer dollars being earmarked for this project would be more effective if they were spent building out other forms of mobility – including mass transit and bike/ pedestrian paths. That said, this project is going to move forward no matter what I personally think about it. My responsibility is to ensure that whatever gets built has a minimal negative impact on (and hopefully benefits) the city of Doraville. Wolford: I think that the “Advanced Improvement Project” proposal [to build some related non-toll lanes and ramps sooner] is very reasonable. However, I think that the toll lanes project is a colossal waste of time and money. Most people probably don’t realize, yet that the GDOT proposal is actually two different proposals for the I-285 corridor. The first, called the AIP, consists of collector-distributor lanes and rebuilding the Chamblee-Dunwoody Road bridge. It is all grade-level construction and it will serve Georgia well as a positive improvement on the top end Perimeter highway. The second, called toll lane expansion, involves elevated toll lanes that are above grade, take land unnecessarily, cost too much and won’t solve traffic problems long term. Is there anything that you see in this version of the plan that surprised you? If so, what was it? Geierman: I had been concerned that the toll lanes would require even more right of way acquisition along I-285 than they did and was a little surprised that relatively few businesses along the corridor were affected. I was disappointed to see businesses that I personally patronize -- like Tucker Castleberry Printers and Rob Mello Acting Studio – in the path of destruction.

Wolford: What surprises me about these proposals is not what is in them, but rather what is not in them. These proposals do not include any studies. There are no sound barrier mitigation proposals. There are no greenway or multi-model pathway proposals. There are no environmental studies, including any air and water quality impacts, storm water run-off impacts, noise impacts. There are no open and honest communications occurring between GDOT officials and citizens in communities affected and impacted by GDOT proposals. Deutsch: The city of Dunwoody is losing an entire neighborhood. We have been aware of this for a while, but we learned at the recent meetings that an office building and three buildings at an apartment complex will be destroyed to make space for the project. There are additional impacts not yet clearly defined on other properties as well. How can GDOT best mitigate any damage the lanes will cause local communities? What do you think they can do? Wolford: GDOT must, at a minimum, build sound barrier protection walls prior to any construction and maintain those barRobert Wolford rier walls during all construction. GDOT must also include greenways and pedestrian pathways between their expansion projects and impacted communities, as well as including greenways and pathways on the reconstructed Chamblee-Dunwoody bridge. And GDOT should pay for the greenways and pedestrian pathways in the impacted communities. Deutsch: Noise walls must go up before construction begins, even if they are relocated during the process. For Dunwoody, we need the space and infrastructure to install a multi-purpose trail along I-285. When the Chamblee-Dunwoody bridge is rebuilt, there must be room for a multipurpose trail as well as landscaping. Geierman: I would like to see GDOT give more serious consideration to how huge infrastructure projects like the top-end toll lanes negatively impact communities. I hope that as part of this project, the state helps local governments overcome this by building in bike and pedestrian access in the affected footprint and ensuring that

these new lanes do not cause more traffic problems than they were designed to solve. Once the work is done, will the project make driving in local communities better or worse? Do you think the long-term changes it will bring will be good or bad for local communities? Deutsch: The collector-distributor lane between Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and Ashford-Dunwoody Road should make commuting to the Perimeter area easier for Dunwoody residents. Along with other improvements the city of Dunwoody is already planning to make, this collector lane should help the flow of traffic on ChambleeDunwoody Road in the Georgetown area and beyond. Dunwoody is already well situated for commuters who travel by car and those who use transit. The addition of rapid bus transit as an east-west transportation option will provide some new options for our residents. This project, though, isn’t being built for metro residents who already live close-in. Rather, it is designed to benefit those who live further away from the job centers. Geierman: I do not think that the toll lanes on their own will do anything to solve Atlanta’s traffic problems -- the Doraville Mayor only thing that will Joseph Geierman do that is getting people out of their cars and to use other forms of transportation. I do think there’s an opportunity to utilize the toll lanes for bus rapid transit, which would provide some benefit to reducing traffic. This is not currently part of the plan, but I am hoping it makes it into the final draft. Wolford: The Advanced Improvement Project C-D lanes will make driving better, but the toll lanes will not make driving any better long-term. The only changes that can have any long-term significant improvements to the top end Perimeter traffic challenges must include rapid transit options. Bus rapid transit and light to medium rail are the only hope for long-term good for our communities. That is why Senate Resolution 654, the resolution authored by state Sen. Sally Harrell [calling for a state Constitutional amendment to allow gas tax money to be spent on transit], is so important. SR654 will allow GDOT to fund the transit projects necessary for Georgians to live, thrive and survive. BK

MARCH 2020

Commentary | 11

Burning through the tea kettle curse Everyone has flaws and endearing peccadillos; mine is that I have an inexplicable tendency to burn water. It started with a Michael Graves tea kettle that was a gift from my uncle and looked like a piece of artwork, it was so brilliantly designed. It had a whistle shaped like a little red bird, so it was a perfect “Robin” kettle. It came to me when the kids were toddlers, and it met its demise one busy morning when it sat on the


stove with its little Robin-bird whistling her heart out as I

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ignored it while tending to a screaming child until the water burned out completely and the cute little whistle-bird melted into the pot itself. I was crushed because I loved that tea pot and doubly crushed when I went to replace it and discovered its cost. I received a replacement Michael Graves kettle for Mother’s Day, and I got to enjoy it for only two months before I burned that one. As a punishment to myself, I did not replace it but boiled my tea and French-press coffee water in

Robin’s Nest

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a basic pot on the stove instead. However, since a plain old pot does not come equipped with a whistle, it’s even eas-



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ier to burn than a tea kettle. I burned four perfectly good 1.2-quart pots until I decided it was time to go back to kettles. By then I had saved up enough money to buy another Michael Graves kettle that I so loved, and I gave it to myself for Christmas, with the silent pledge that if this one burned,

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You guessed it. This one burned, too. But it wasn’t by me this time! It burned on a babysitter’s watch. I put it on the cabinet-top ledge where it stood as decoration with its fallen brothers. And I decided it was time to go the route of electric tea kettles. I was well-chuffed with a glass version that boiled water efficiently and expertly, until after a year, it suddenly stopped. I replaced it, and its replacement broke. I replaced it once more and, true to my rule of three, gave up the electric tea kettles when the third

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one broke. By this point, it had been about a decade since my burning-curse began, and I’d lost at least 10 pans and teapots along the way. The electric-kettle interlude lasted long enough for me to rekindle my hankering for old-fashioned kettles, and as karma would have it, I found the most perfect one on sale at HomeGoods. It was a nice solid shape, with strong shoulders and a hefty base, plus it was robin’s egg blue, so it became my new perfect-for-Robin tea kettle. It was a color so unique and so wonderful that the ladies in the checkout line with me gushed over it, while I stood in smug satisfaction because I had snagged it for myself. Every day when I walked into my kitchen and saw it perched there in its spot smack-

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dab in the middle of the stove top, complimenting my kitchen décor with ease, I felt a light lift of spirit.

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I had a new favorite, and I didn’t even think it was possible. How long did it take me to burn this one? Exactly eight months. This time, I truly mourned because I had completely fallen for it. I disciplined myself with plain old pots again and went online searching for a replacement, with the sinking feeling that its charming color had been discontinued. And I decided that I’d start scouting HomeGoods again, just in case. I found a stainless-steel kettle that looked dashing on the HG shelf, and I bought it,

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but I never could bring myself to use it because it was so lackluster in my own home. When I returned it, I scoured the store once more, and lo and behold, I spotted my very same blue kettle, high on a shelf and on clearance because its lid was lost. Eureka! Fortunately, even though my first blue kettle was useless, I had not moved it because I that perfectly fit this new topless kettle. And maybe, just maybe, this one will last. BK

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couldn’t bear to walk into a kitchen bereft of its cheery blue self, and thus I had a lid Sometimes, things work out.

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12 | Commentary ■

Around Town

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

The pirates who bring Mardi Gras to Buckhead

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Things started with David Moffett. He wanted a way to get to know his neighbors in the Club Forest subdivision better. Club Forest had several community clubs and social events through which women could meet, he said, but nothing similar for the men. “The women all knew each other, but none of the guys knew each other,” he said. JOE EARLE Moffett grew up in Lake From left, Krewe du Foret members Ryan Schultz, Charles, Louisiana. and Jamie Walker, Kurtis Fahn and Craig Hyde show went to Tulane, so he had their inner pirates in their Buckhead neighborhood’s a fondness for Mardi Gras, annual Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 23. the traditional no-holdsbarred party on the final day or days before Lent, a season of fasting for Christians. He thought Club Valley Drive, the main drag through his neighborhood in the Historic Brookhaven area of Buckhead, looked like a good place for a Mardi Gras parade. Why Mardi Gras? “Why not?” he replied. Mardi Gras parties and parades usually are staged by groups called krewes. Moffett and neighbor John Greiner launched the Krewe du Foret to bring Mardi Gras home. Greiner, it turned out, had a pirate costume, so the new krewe adopted a pirate theme and started putting together a parade. That was eight years, and eight parades, ago. Krewe du Foret now claims 50 or more members, all men, and puts on two to three social events a year, its members said. And it’s brought together men of Club Forest around a common interest. “I wouldn’t know any of these guys if we didn’t do something like this,” said Moffett, a 55-year-old banker who wore a Tulane cap and New Orleans Saints’ jersey with his pirate suit.. “It’s a great way to get our neighborhood together.” On the last Sunday in February, about 25 to 30 members of the krewe, maybe more, donned pirate costumes and joined in the Mardi Gras parade on Club Valley Drive. Some had grown beards just for the event and some wore elaborate costumes with thigh-high boots or fancy jackets and hats. “It’s a good experience to dress up like a pirate,” Mark Hanna, 46, a physician had said the day before when he joined a dozen or so members of the krewe to rebuild the floats that are stored at Moffett’s house during the winter. Most of the pirates in the parade rode on one of three colorful, pirate flag-decked floats built on top of trailers and pulled by pickups. Some rode atop an antique fire truck, while others walked alongside the string of vehicles, which included a convertible carrying the krewe’s queen for the day, resident Judy Jones. A New Orleans-style band called 2nd Line Atlanta played from one of the floats. Families lined the street and caught beads the pirates tossed from the floats as they rolled along. Marc Rosenkoetter stood out among the parading pirates. He walked on stilts and towered above the crowd in his pirate getup as he tossed Mardi Gras beads to clamoring kids. “It’s for the kids,” the 40-year-old management consultant said of the party as he helped decorate floats the day before the parade. “Honestly, it is.” Besides, he said, it helps give Club Forest an identity. “It really pulls the neighborhood together,” he said. “It sets the neighborhood apart. In a world of fences and walls and security cameras, its nice to have a neighborhood that can come together for something like this.” Lori Hicks waited in her driveway to see her husband parade past. She was joined by her mother-in-law, Charlotte Hicks of St. Marys, and sister-in-law, Shannon Hicks of Chattanooga. “It’s my favorite day of the year in Club Forest,” she said. “I think it’s incredible that they pull this off and pull it together for everybody on the cul-de-sac.” Why is it her favorite day? She thought the question over for a moment. “Maybe it’s my favorite day because the men are in charge and the families have so much fun,” she said. “That’s why. I just figured it out.” It took just 10 to 15 minutes for the revelers to pass. The parade ended at a cul-de-sac at one end of the block, where the pirates and their families and friends could dance and eat gumbo at a neighborhood party. Bill Selvey, who’s 58 and said he works as a head-hunter for doctors, has lived in his home in Club Forest for 26 years and has taken part in every Mardi Gras parade. He, too, calls Maris Gras parade day his favorite day of the year. “You dress up like a pirate and throw Moon Pies and beads to people,” he said. “Free beer. Free gumbo. What’s not to like?” BK

MARCH 2020

Community | 13

City buys shuttered fast-food restaurant near Greenway trail

The Krystal restaurant property at 2068 North Druid Hills Road as it appeared in 2018 in a Google Maps image. In the background at right is Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s new Center for Advanced Pediatrics.

BY JOHN RUCH AND KEVIN C. MADIGAN The city will buy a shuttered Krystal fast-food restaurant on North Druid Hills Road, near a trailhead of its new Peachtree Creek Greenway, as a “strategic acquisition.” The $2 million purchase of the Krystal at 2068 North Druid Hills would be made by the city-created but independently operated Brookhaven Development Authority, supported by a $650,000 from the city. The loan was approved by the City Council at its Feb. 11 meeting. “It is a strategic acquisition for economic development and transit,” said city spokesperson Burke Brennan. Shirlynn Brownell, the city’s economic development director, also called it a strategic acquisition but did not say what the purpose of the land will be. The resolution for the loan says “the purchase furthers the City’s ability to influence and manage strategic economic development….” It also highlights the importance of the nearby intersection of North Druid Hills and I-85. On the other side of I-85 from the Krystal site, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University are building massive new complexes. The resolution says that the “close proximity to the Peachtree Creek Greenway, a model for alternative transportation, community and placemaking, makes this intersection a virtual front door to the city of Brookhaven and the ability of the city and its Development Authority to have a direct say in the look, feel and ambience of this point of entry are crucial to the city’s place in the metropolitan community, the council’s vision for the growth and future of the city, and the strategic development of this economic center for the city.” During a “Developer’s Day” tour last year, city officials floated a conceptual drawing of an 18-story office tower on that section of North Druid Hills. Such advocates as the We Love BuHi organization have expressed caution about whether redevelopment in the area will help or displace the famously multicultural and affordable Buford Highway corridor, which is paralleled by the GreBK


enway. The Krystal property is now owned by VEREIT Real Estate, according to the city. The loan to the BDA would come from “unassigned funds” in the city budget and would be repaid in annual installments of $81,250. The BDA is funded by fees from developments it authorizes and enables. According to a real estate listing, the Krystal was built in 1973. It closed in October 2019, according to the commercial development blog Tomorrow’s News Today. In January, the Dunwoody-based Krystal corporation filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy.

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14 | Community ■

In tax-break debates, turf wars arise between local and county authorities BY JOHN RUCH AND DYANA BAGBY

mated value of the tax abatements it provides. For years its agendas did not Tax breaks granted to developers even list the location of many projects. by bodies called development authoriDecide DeKalb cut one tax-abatement ties are under growing scrutiny in metdeal in a local city last year that it refusro Atlanta’s hot real estate market. But es to divulge. “We do work for the pubbehind the issue of when to grant tax lic but some companies don’t want to be breaks is another question: Who should named until they announce,” said Degrant them in local cities – local authorBarr. ities or their county versions? And what Both county authorities say they happens when one says no to a developmake deals that “create” -- often meaner and the other says yes? ing relocate -- jobs, and in DAFC’s case, The Development Authority of Fulsome affordable housing units. But they ton County is facing a call from Atlanlack mechanisms to confirm that those ta’s authority to stay out of its turf and goals are met and there appear to be no state legislation that would bar the way for the authorities to get full taxes DAFC from operating within cities withpaid if the developers don’t hold up their out local government approval. The deend of the bargain. velopment authoriIn contrast, city dety in DeKalb County, velopment authoriknown as Decide ties in Brookhaven and DeKalb, has better reSandy Springs have lationships with locreated “payment in cal cities now, but four lieu of taxes” agreeyears ago stirred conments that get some of troversy with the city the abated money back of Brookhaven for lack for city purposes, such of notice on major tax as building new streets abatements that hit its or acquiring land for budget unexpectedly. city facilities. “It is not in the inCitizens may not terest of a city’s resibe aware of the tax dents to allow develbreaks, or have difficulopers to play a county ty in discovering why development authoria particular authority ty off against that city’s granted them. Sandy SPECIAL development authoriSprings in recent years State Rep. Derrick Jackson. ty for tax breaks. That promoted the developis what happens now,” ment of a new downsaid Julian Bene, a critic of tax breaks town area with luxury apartment comand a former board member of Invest plexes that have been both lauded as Atlanta, that city’s development authormodern and criticized as traffic-generaity. “A city development authority tends tors. Of five new apartment complexes, to be more accountable and responsive four have received tax abatements – two to the needs of its residents and protecfrom the city and two from the county. tive of their tax burden.” Leaders of the county authorities disTax break powers agree. Development authorities are govern“Overall, DAFC serves an extremement-created, but independently operly important purpose in Fulton Counating and self-funding, bodies that can ty, as its focus is on economic developoffer incentives and property tax abatement that benefits Fulton County as a ments in a variety of ways. Fulton and whole and the needs of all of its resiDeKalb counties have development audents and not just those in one particuthorities, as do many local cities, includlar municipality in isolation,” said DAFC ing Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody Executive Director Al Nash in an email. and Brookhaven. A powerful deal-mak“We always look forward to solidifying ing ability authorities wield is to issue and strengthening our partnership with bonds on behalf of a developer, using the municipalities to ensure economic its tax-exempt status to grant a partial development continues within Fulton property tax abatement for a period of County.” time, usually 10 years. The general ra“We are extremely intentional to cotionale is to promote economic developordinate with cities,” said Dorian Dement. Barr, the interim president of Decide The DAFC has been targeted with DeKalb. “[We] don’t want developers to criticism for years for granting abategame the system.” ment deals on luxury projects in such But the details of county authorihot markets as Buckhead and Midtown, ty tax breaks can be opaque. Only last where there appears to be little need to year, after decades in operation, did the spur economic activity. Atlanta Public DAFC start publicly releasing the estiSchools Superintendent Meria Carstar-

phen, herself a former DAFC board member, is a fierce critic of such deals, with the controversy ballooning to major proportions again over the past two years. Carstarphen has said various tax breaks cost her system tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue each year. In fiscal year 2019, the Fulton County School System lost $6.2 million in “potential revenue” from various abatements and incentives, and $4.8 million in fiscal 2018, according to Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef. In 2019, the DeKalb County School District lost $3.9 million to tax abatements, according to interim Chief Financial Officer Robert Morales. The county authorities say that the developments they assist boost the tax base enormously. Critics argue that many of the developments would have happened anyway, so the abatements are giveaways of money. Brookhaven and Dunwoody have good relationship and communications with Decide DeKalb, according to city spokespersons. And in Sandy Springs, Mayor Rusty Paul, a professional marketer and lobbyist, has had the DAFC as a client for about 15 years. He said that when the DAFC contacts city government, it does so through the city manager in a process that does not involve the mayor.

Turf wars

Relationships are more strained in the Atlanta area, where the DAFC cuts far more local tax abatement deals than Decide DeKalb does. Last year, Invest Atlanta’s president and CEO, Dr. Eloisa Klementich, sent Nash a letter asking DAFC to stop cutting bond-based tax abatement deals within the city limits. She questioned the legality of such deals; said her board is more representative of local taxing jurisdictions; and noted a divergence in the two authorities’ policies on affordable housing. She also raised the issue of “perspective” from the local point of view. “We think it is essential to be at the table for the conversation and the future development in the city,” she wrote. The recently incorporated city of South Fulton was the scene of another tax abatement dispute last year. Major controversy erupted over whether the local government’s authority or the DAFC should grant a tax break for a major commercial project. Controversy within the city government dragged on for weeks, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, at one point threatening to remove South Fulton Mayor Bill Edwards and a City Council member from office. As a result, a state legislator has filed a bill that would bar the DAFC from granting such breaks within cities with-

out the approval of local governments and school boards. State Rep. Derrick Jackson (D-Tyrone) said he filed House Bill 986 to promote conversations between the DAFC and local leaders. “You would think that would happen naturally, but unfortunately it did not,” he said. “… The whole goal is to make sure development authorities touch base with local municipalities.” Paul, the DAFC lobbyist, said before the bill’s filing that he was aware of its general approach. He called it “more punitive than policy-setting. It singles out DAFC and leaves the other development authorities operating in the county out of the proposed regulation.” Paul said he understands the intent was to “start a conversation about the relationships among the cities and the two school boards [in Fulton and Atlanta]. That discussion is healthy and I look forward to it.” One provision of Jackson’s legislation would bar an elected official from chairing a development authority, to avoid what he called “tension and confusion” about political roles. But local input is his main goal, he said. The bill would bar the DAFC from acquiring property, granting any tax abatements or “undertak[ing] any project” within cities without the “approval” of the local board of education and the city government. “Although it’s great the county can come in… the county may not be familiar with their comprehensive plan, the land use, just the whole arch of having a particular vision for that city,” Jackson said. Nash said that DAFC’s perspective has its own advantages. “The need to have a development authority that crosses city lines and takes into consideration Fulton County as a whole cannot be overstated,” he said. “People oftentimes reside in one part of Fulton County and work in another part. In addition, proposed projects may be located in multiple cities [or] jurisdictions, which is something DAFC is well-equipped to handle and has done so in the past.” Jackson noted that abatements can affect local governments and school system revenues, where people have elected representatives to oversee the operations. “Keep responsibility and accountability where they belong,” he said.

LOCAL PROJECTS WITH TAX ABATEMENTS A full list of over 30 projects can be found online at BK

MARCH 2020

Community | 15

Officials say time is right to create ‘City Centre’ master plan BY DYANA BAGBY

Brookhaven officials say they are ready to begin the master plan process for a “City Centre” with a new City Hall to be located on or near Peachtree Road. Past talks have included building a new center as part of a redevelopment of the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA Station, but city leaders say they are not necessarily tied to that site. The City Council at its Feb. 8 retreat discussed the rapid redevelopment of Peachtree Road, which bisects the city, and that a city center master plan is needed to guide future development. Included in that future development is the tearing down of the current City Hall building to make way for a commercial project. A temporary moratorium on new construction for a portion of Peachtree Road could be implemented as the city defines what it wants in a city center. “Development is encroaching fast,” City Manager Christian Sigman told the council. “If we don’t have a plan, the next thing could be, we do not have a City Centre but have a Roswell Road.”

City Centre, spelled with an “re,” differentiates the project from other city center plans, according to the city. The city expects to put out a request for proposal within the next several months to hire a firm to guide city officials and the public through a master planning process for the city center. Planning would include detailed land uses, streetscapes, green space and aesthetics that go beyond just zoning regulations. Sigman provided the council with numerous examples of other city center master plans with a wide mix of uses. One was the Sandy Springs City Center Master Plan adopted in 2012. From that plan came the 14-acre City Springs civic and performing arts center, as well as redevelopment guidelines for public and private entities to create a wider downtown district. Talks in Brookhaven have focused on building a city center as part of MARTA’s expected redevelopment of its Brookhaven-Oglethorpe station, but officials say they want to consider other sites. The council members did agree by consensus the city center should be located near the MARTA Station. The

city’s 2034 Comprehensive plan calls for a “Town Center” to be built along the Peachtree Road corridor as the place for a permanent City Hall and government complex. In 2017, MARTA wanted to build a Brookhaven “town center” as part of its approximately 6-acre transit-oriented development at the station but canceled the project after a breakdown in talks with the city over tax incentives and density. The city continues discussions with MARTA about any planned redevelopment of the property in what they have dubbed “MARTA 2.0.” But when MARTA 2.0 may occur is still unknown. A City Centre master plan could dovetail with MARTA talks as it gives the city negotiating powers with developers and builders, Sigman said. Sigman said the city continues to hear from people wanting to know what is happening at the MARTA station, but the question now should be, “What is going on with your City Centre?” “Because we don’t want to be focusing on just the acreage of that little lot,” Sigman said. The City Centre area could extend to Camille Drive east of the MARTA station

or include the full length of Apple Valley Road, Sigman said. The footprint of the study area for the city center is expected to be decided in the next month. Redevelopments planned for Peachtree Road include a mixed-use project at the former Hastings Nursery site and a hotel and retail project where City Hall now stands. The city’s lease on City Hall expires in 2024, but the building’s owner can break the lease with a nine-month notice. No construction timeline has been given to the city. “There is an iceberg sitting out there,” Sigman said. “We are not going to be here forever.” The city spends about $440,000 a year on City Hall, which includes lease payments and utilities. The current building no longer meets the needs of city staff, Sigman said. Sigman said the city also needs to ensure there is plenty of ways to provide public input on the city center project as part of its RFP. “We want buy-in and excitement from residents that this is our City Centre,” Sigman said.

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16 | Community ■

Brookhaven stormwater utility rates could rise by 60% to 85% for improvements Brookhaven took over stormwater maintenance from DeKalb County in 2013 following community complaints about the county’s services. When the took over the stormwater infrastructure, the council upped stormwater utility rates from DeKalb’s $48 annual fee to $60. The fees are paid by “equivalent residential unit” or “ERU,” which is defined as a unit or development equal to a single-family residence. The had 11,815 single-family homes in 2019, which paid $708,900 in stormwater utility fees. Sixty apartment buildings with an ERU of 11,286 paid $507,870, and more than 500 commercial properties paid nearly $600,000 based on nearly 10,000 ERUs. By having its own stormwater utility, the is also responsible for maintenance and repairs of stormwater infrastructure, including pipes and detention ponds. Last year, the paid almost $700,000 to overhaul the 50-year-old stormwater system in the Cambridge Park subdivision to fix standing water and flooding issues. The repairs include replacing 1,300 feet of underground pipes. This year, the is paying for street sweeping to prevent brush and leaves from clogging storm drains and for dredging and shoreline restoration at Murphey Candler Lake. More than $2 million in neighborhood drainage projects are fund-


rsary 25th Annive

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— NO. 7

Dunwoody Reporter

JUNE 2019

Atlant firstit trans lba’s DeKa moves UrbanerFood planFore mast st would need isahea bothd,publ ic parkt boos tax sales & community farm


PBS to air local singer’s documentary

• VOL. 11 —

NO. 6

Brookhaven Reporter

See pull-out section pages 15-18

GDOT chief: ‘Benefits of express lanes are proven’ P10



Piano-playing Rogers family is a YouTube hit P29

bers Local City Council mem ion sign anti-toll lanes petit

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Sandy Springs Reporter

Home & Real Estate Local home sales near a peak, agents say P5

G old Sandy

Section Two



Dunwoody Brookhaven Buckhead

new website Wall to Wa ll Art maps metro murals, wall to wall ►Out & About ►Summer Camps


Officials seek ways to influence toll lanes projects BY DOUG


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month to consider sioners is expected next plan designed to countywide transit master bus service and deimprove current rail and COMMENTAR new transit over the Y termine where to build next 30 years. commisAs part of that consideration,if they beto decide sioners will also have to vote for enough motivated are lieve voters pay for the proposed a sales tax increase to P10 include light rail, bus improvements, which rapid transit in rapid transit and arterial The proposed north and south DeKalb. full-penny DeKalb Atlanta Regional DeKalb County, the County transit worked with lomaster plan Commission and MARTA gathered public input scenario would cal municipalities and proposed transit masinclude four light over the past year on a goals: address the rapid transit routes; ter plan with three broad routes foster economfour bus rapid transit county’s mobility challenges, quality of life. end of I-285; P44 including along the top ic development and improve recently toured transit routes. These and eight arterial rapid Consultants with VHB presenta180 project miles. ’S NEST madeROBIN cover June would in and expansions DeKalb cities The dirt path conceptual transit on Buford tions on proposed and that is the Highway in Brookhaven and Dunsubject of front of the master plans to the a dispute about DYANA BAGBY Orchard at Both presentations a new sidewa Brookh woody City Councils. lk and landsca aven a 1 cent sales tax pe strip. spotlighted two scenarios: raise $3.65 billion over increase that would projects, and a half30 years and fund 16 raise $1.85 billion penny increase that would P11 15 projects. over 30 years and fund tax requires a vote. Increasing the sales tax is 8 percent. Springs, a member DeKalb’s current sales Kevin Abel of Sandy decimajor a is which n Board Going to a referendum BY DYANA BAGBY of the State Transportatio project manager, Department of Transsion, Grady Smith, VHB Check out our oversees the Georgia AND EVELYN ANDREWS council at its June 10 took those officials to told the Brookhaven at ReporterNews podcasts portation, however, Dunwoody and hearing DeKalb leadthe toll lanes Elected officials in meeting. He said he is task and said he supports out against the time to consider the and Ga. 400 because ership is wanting more Doraville are speaking ects planned on I-285 input from the cittoll lanes and have BY DYAN bus rapid transit to proposals and is seeking planned I-285 “top end” A BAGBY they promise to bring The Brook the estimated $5 dyanabagby@r signed a petition opposing See DEKALB on page 30haven Reporter the area. eporternewspape to begin construcen has some 31 billion project expected isMAY mail deliver residents See DUNWOODY on page 2019 ed • VOL. 13 —Emory NO. 5Univer living in by neighb tion in 2023. nearhomes on selecteto orhood sity’s propos through traffic s worried about a $1 billion cutcarrier routes d “health innova al to build and more in such roads over the next congestion tion distric on ZIP 30319 as Sherid t” 15 years on an, Briarcl approximatel North Druid 60 acres of iff and Executive Hills. For information: Park in Brookh y Emory officia delivery@rep avorternewspape ls say they ing to allevia are workte those ► concerns by con8 See TRAFFIC See our ad on page on .com page lauderhills 22 et

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JULY 2019 Vol. 25 No. 7 ■ www.Atl antaINto

Please, Pick the Fruit P34 JULY 2019 • VOL. 10

We’re honored that Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta INtown have won 41 awards in the Georgia Press Association’s Better Newspaper Competition over the past three years. For 2019, the Reporter’s honors include eight first place awards in its category.

ed for this year. Drainage projects underway include replacing several neighborhood culverts that allow water to flow under a road, fixing sinkholes, and replacing a pipe on Sylvan Circle following a small road cave-in. Nearly $1 million in repairs to leaky stormwater pipes are planned over the next five years. The is also implementing the projects included in the Nancy Creek and North Fork Peachtree Creek watershed improvement plans. They include stream bank restoration and installing several “trash racks” in Murphey Candler Lake and along the North Fork of the Peachtree Creek. Stormwater trash racks cost about $200,000. They are large metal grates that are installed at permanent waterway entry points, such as pipes, to prevent garbage and debris swept up in stormwater runoff from entering lakes or streams. Sigman said the ’s stormwater infrastructure is not a “horrible mess.” But there are other challenges besides funding that need to be addressed. They include acquiring permanent easements for maintaining existing infrastructure and for new projects. Educating the public about not putting their leaves or grass clippings in the road is also a priority. And finding volunteers for stream cleanups is also an important part of maintaining the stormwater system.


The polluted runoff then poisons bodies of waters and the wildlife and erodes streambanks and can contaminate drinking water. Stormwater runoff is also the main cause of flooding and damage to private property. The ’s 2020 budget has $2.5 million in the stormwater fund. Of that, roughly $1.35 million is dedicated to operational costs for emergency repair materials and labor, technical services and street sweeping. However, stormwater maintenance and improvement projects for this year total more than $3 million as the looks to take a “holistic” look at trying to solve drainage issues. Manager Christian Sigman said the could cover costs of those and future projects with either a “pay-go” option or by financing the projects through a bond that would be paid off with stormwater utility fees. The pay-as-you-go option would tack on another $3 per month to the $60 annual fee beginning this year, for a total of $96, followed by a 3% increase in rates every year from 2021 through 2025 that would bring the total fee to $111.29 in 2025. Financing the projects over 15 years would add $2 per month to stormwater rates beginning this year, for a total of $84, and would still include the 3% annual

increase from 2021 to 2025, for a final rate of around $97. Both options are projected to bring in more than $3 million a year between 2020 and 2025. “We are running a business here,” Sigman said. “If the revenues aren’t there, it doesn’t run. And we’re kind of at that stage. We’ve done as much as we can, some really good work, but now we need to do the next step.” Councilmember John Park said he supported issuing a bond to pay for the projects. Councilmember Joe Gebbia said he would like to see all projects completed as soon as possible. “I think that the need is there, the timing is good … and I want to make sure we do the whole thing,” Gebbia said. However, Councilmember Linley Jones said her District 1 constituents are likely to be unhappy with such stormwater utility rate hike when they worry more about paying for traffic improvements. “I am concerned that this will not be well-received,” she said. “The stormwater issues have been well addressed for the most part in District 1. … This is a very significant in effect tax increase with no sunset for the projects.” Sigman said a sunset provision – a date when the increased rates would have to stop -- could be tied to the projects getting done as part of the bonding option.


Continued from page 1










An art fan maps street murals in and beyondAtlanta





The Orchar d at Brookh sisted living aven, an asfacility that caring for specializes those with in dementia, opened on recently Buford Highw ay, a large, low “pre-le yelasing” banne r still hangin over its front g entrance. Just yards from that front entran a dirt path ce is that runs along Buford way, created Highover many reporternewsp years by people walking along the busy thorou spite a lack ghfare deof sidewa lks. That is supposed dirt path to become a 10-foot Perim and a 5-foot landscape eter Businsidewa ess Springlk strip, a condit 2019 | the city put PCIDs mark ion Where brick-and-mortar retail still works on theThe ofdeveloper s 20 years property when was rezone shaping Perim the d two years eter Cente r ago to See SIDEWA LK on page 23 MAY 2019

Section Two

Sandy Springs Dunwoody






Perimeter Business: PCIDs turns 20 ►Q+A with local couple behind Atlanta’s big anime convention



P. 36


Main photo, the diverging at Ashford-Dunwoody

SPECIAL diamond looked shortly Road and interchange I-285 as after opening it Inset, the in 2012. Hammond Ga. 400 Drive interchange FILE shortly after with it opened in 2011.


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After 20 increasingly years of a population jammed boom, scraper-sprouting highways and skyit may sound mega-developments, quaint that about Perimeter people worried Mall traffic 1999. way back in But the provement Perimeter Community Districts, Imof business the self-taxing groups out of those property owners that formed concerns, sons the local boom are among the why the has happened reatraffic and to Perimeter isn’t even worse. If you Center today, get there you may go via well PCIDs pushed one of the big projects – like the ramps on Hammond the Ga. 400 Drive woody or the Ashford-DunRoad diverging change diamond at I-285 – and you’ll intertouches they’re responsible see smaller scaping and rush-hour for, like “They had traffic cops. landone, cleaning a reputation for, those cosmeticthings up, providing number some of amenities used to,” we’ve all said Ann become the CIDs Hanlon, who watched form as a longtime resident and now Dunwoody serves as director. their “At lutionary, the time, that was executive that a private pretty to pay for group was revothose amenities.” willing Back in day cover 1999, the three cities that Perimeter en, Dunwoody toCenter – Brookhavnot yet exist. and Sandy Springs As the – did its next 20 years, PCIDs looks ahead it has sion on transportation, refocused its to misproposals leaving such as park-building previous ies. Transportation erything these days to the citfrom trail networks helping to buildmeans evmultiuse to shaping toll lanes the future and transit That’s in of on Ga. 400 addition and I-285. PCIDs currently to some of the like sidewalks provides or basics the and crosswalks,coordinates, shuttles, traffic signal commuter rimeter timing and Connects the Pecommuter vice. advice serAn increasingly part of Perimeter residential sector Center’s is future, with CONTINUED

Is this the gun that killed Buckhead’s namesake deer?


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It took — and cial media, a harmonic everything convergence an unmet an engineer’s A tribute changed “It was of soan eye-opening for Rudick. to the former recalls. ping more need to launch retirement and IMAGE in Buckhead, “This Limelight COURTESY experience,” maps covering ro Atlanta. than 500 street a website mappainted disco behind ART RUDICK On the was amazing he by Dr. stuff.” same trip, murals 14 neighborhoods outlying Binder’s duced Dax and in metFittingly, Rudick’s him to cities as Art Supplies The Loss a guy named Instagram, niece introand Sandy and such home Dunwoody, to locate Prevention. to Springs. all of Art was walking six self-guided hood full his Old Fourth and he returned The site Brookhaven the one “I’ve alwaysthe art. tour. Ward of curiosity. also and includes walking photos “It’s partially had Rudick tours of provides He wantedneighborof Atlanta’s says, “but an interest ing that because street art on his in art,” myself. Rudick, bios of 16 muralists. I’ve never street murals to take cartoon,” I grew new Instagram I once an engineer the attraction. up watchbeen an Art end of Rudick did woodworking were the by, making to post 2016 after artist who retired account, says, explaining murals? custom ca-Cola, but where a He says How could as a hobat the Necessity furniture.” The design finds most 32-year career his favorite he find ro, who ing local tion when became the of a new with Cofor Rudick, artists them? uses a artists on of his content mother hobby are Yoyo Rudick technique 61, about contour contact by followmap of Instagram. he and Ferdrawing, three yearstook shape page known the city’s realized that of invenhis He also of a collective times reach on his site, as blind and five with no street art a decent City. While wife visited ago when and artists has a who are him that didn’t exist. Club, which known there, the family in New website, previous experience a guided Twice somepart way. York So, Atlanta he does “a as the Lotus tour amazing to check a year, he says, in doing couple an online took it upon class Bushwickof street lot of interestingEaters work.” took on he drives art in the a himself of Donna He sure that every mural, and the guide to Atlanta’s neighborhood to create around workingand Howells, also admires as the artists her seventies new work site is current. part of making of Brooklyn a Cabbagetownthe work The result who put them street murals while making He’ll often SIGN UP only recently. who began is the Atlanta up. artist in at, Rudick spot TO RECEIVE the creating Street Art the artist says his favorite rounds. murals Rudick DAILY & which Map keeps his mural is has interactive in suburban Tom and known as Jerkface, WEEKLY eyes open one by Jerry cartoon EMAILS cities, based pears on ral is the too. Ferro’s for murals WITH LOCAL characters. on the Brookhaven’s first stop School, work The on the NEWS @ and the Cross Keys apLittle Five musuch locations REPORTERNEWS website High Points notes artwork as the PAPERS.NET/SI parking in garage CONTINUED GNUP of

Proposal for Wieuca roundabout is back






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building The Georgia Department of Transportation is considering flyover toll lanes atop the Northridge Road overpass.


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


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Affordable housing advocates who co-chaired the city’s North End Revitalization Task Force launched an initiative opposing the task force’s final report with a community meeting on Feb. 28. At that meeting, several north end residents said they feared the recommendations would lead to displacement of See TWO on page 14

scenes. For information: books for a long “I know it’s been on the delivery@reporterne time, but we need to mitigate it as much as we can,” said Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), who says she’s trying to arrange a large-scale meeting of state engineers, local officials and possibly the general public. “This is very upsetting.” The toll lanes, called “express lanes” or “managed lanes,” are proposed by the Geor-


The Neighborhood Planning Unit system that reviews planning, zoning and other big issues for Atlanta city government is getting a review of its own. A downtown nonprofit called the Center for Civic Innovation has begun a quiet, but

potentially influential, series of meetings and surveys that aims to have reform recommendations for the 45-year-old system on the table by March 2020. “There are things about [the NPU system] that are amazing, and things that we need to have a lot more conversation about,” said CCI Executive Director Rohit See AFTER on page 14


The wooden stock is beige and battered with age. The metal plate above the trigger is decorated with a pair of birds. The barrel is long, heavy and octagonal. It’s an old muzzleloading firearm, for sure. It might even be the one that killed the deer that gave Buckhead its curious name in 1838. John Beach, president of the Buckhead Heritage Society, is still trying to figure that For more on out, partly by tracking John Beach, see the tales surrounding Around Town, page 20. another little-known piece of area history – an 1842 log cabin that quietly survived destruction by being moved to a Buckhead back yard. In the meantime, Beach gave the Reporter an exclusive closeSee IS on page 22

See OFFICIALS on page 22


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Two groups with opposing views on redevelopment concepts for the north end of Sandy Springs have organized to voice their opinions as city officials determine which concepts should move


As neighborhood impacts of toll lanes planned along Ga. 400 and I-285 become are clearer, city and state elected officials The Buckhead Reporter seeking ways to influence the process with is mail delivered to homes varying tactics. Some officials say they’ll on selected carrier routes fight the project, while others aim for smallin ZIPs 30305, 30327 er tweaks. Some call for community-wide meetings, while some work behind theand 30342

Two groups launch to support, oppose north end concepts

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United Methodists struggle with church’s LGBTQ decision P18

Left, John Beach, president of the Buckhead which reputedly killed the neighborhood’s Heritage Society, holds the “Buckhead Gun,” namesake deer in 1838. Right, holds what is said to be the same firearm in an undated photo. (John James Whitley Ruch/Special)

After 45 years, a nonprofit launches a review of NPU citizen input system


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18 | Community ■

Residents test new voting machines BY DYANA BAGBY

Local election officials were busy providing free demonstrations to the public on how Georgia’s new voting machines work before they are rolled out statewide for the March 24 presidential primary. During a Feb. 13 demonstration of the machines at the Dunwoody Library, DeKalb Voter & Registration Elections official Nytia Harris walked dozens of people through the new system. The system includes electronic check-in on a machine similar to an iPad, selection of ballot choices electronically via a touch screen, and a paper record that lists in text the voter’s choices. The paper also includes a QR code. The paper is inserted into a scanner, STEP STEP STEP the size of a large garbage can, that reads the QR code to count the votes. The scanner also stores the paper ballot. “Truthfully, this is not a whole lot different than what we were using before, except PHOTOS BY DYANA BAGBY now we get a piece of paper,” said Shelagh Clegg, who tested out the new machines at the Step 1: Shirley McAllister of Dunwoody, left, checks in electronically with her library. “At least we have a record with the paper.” driver’s license to vote during a Feb. 13 demonstration of the state’s new voting machines at the Dunwoody Library. Other forms of ID are also accepted. The General Assembly approved purchasing the machines for the entire state for more than $100 million following legal challenges to the state’s electronic voting system. Step 2: McCallister makes her choices on a mock ballot via a touch screen. The nearly 20-year-old former system required people to check in to vote by checking in to vote by filling out a piece of paper. The voter would then get a plastic card that would Step 3: DeKalb Voter & Registration Elections official Nytia Harris, left, be inserted into a touch screen machine that would then record the ballot selections. shows Shelagh Clegg how to insert her paper ballot with a list of her Voters have complained for years there was no way to ensure the machine recorded selections into a scanner. The scanner reads a QR code on the paper to the correct votes on the plastic card. A paper printout with the QR code of a voter’s selectabulate the ballot. The paper remains locked in the scanner. tions as part of the new machines is supposed to alleviate those concerns. Questions raised during the Dunwoody demonstration about the new voting machines included how to ensure voter privacy; accuracy of the ballot counts; and if there


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would be enough help at each precinct in case there are slowdowns created by people confused with the new machines. Partitions are to be placed around the touch screens to provide privacy, Harris said. DeKalb County plans to add several more poll workers at each precinct to assist voters than in the past to limit potential backups. There will be one scanner for every 11 touch screens, which is expected to meet voter demand. None of the devices used to vote are connected to the internet, so no hacking can occur, Harris said. The machines don’t keep track of the ballot, Harris explained. It’s the scanner that reads the QR code from the paper that counts the ballot, she explained. The paper ballot is stored in a large ballot box attached to the scanner and if an audit of an election is needed, voting officials can unlock the ballot boxes to retrieve the paper ballots.

MARCH 6-15

MARCH 24 IS PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, ATLANTA SPECIAL ELECT ION DAY March 24 is Election Day statewide for the presidential primary races. The city of Atlanta also will hold a special election that day, seeking to reauthorize a 1% sales tax. In the primary election, voters can choose their favorite among the majorparty contenders for president in advance of nomination votes at national party conventions. The Democratic ballot has a dozen candidates, some of whom have already withdrawn from the race. The Republican ballot has only incumbent President Donald Trump. Georgia holds open primary elections, meaning that a voter is free to choose either the Democratic or the Republican ballot, regardless of their political affiliation. Advance voting was scheduled to begin March 2. Within Atlanta, a ballot question seeks to extend the 1% Municipal Option Sales Tax, or MOST, that funds water and sewer projects. The MOST is set to expire later this year. Primary voters will have the MOST question on the same ballot. Nonpartisan voters also can choose a ballot that has only the MOST question. For more information, see the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter” webpage at

MAY 1-10

JULY 10-19

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS ARE WE STILL OK AFTER THE SECURE ACT? IS THERE REASON FOR CONCERN IN LIGHT OF THE RECENTLY ENACTED SECURE ACT? No, most people should continue to feel secure (pardon the pun). The financial media has enjoyed a field day describing the SECURE Act, which affects retirement accounts, as a game-changer. We have received questions from clients, but the group of people who need to modify their planning is a relatively small number. Although a bit of an oversimplification, it really boils down to just two main things. WHAT ARE THOSE TWO “MAIN THINGS”? The age at which you must start drawing down your retirement balances has been moved back to age 72. It was 70-1/2 previously. The new starting age applies to anyone not already 70-1/2 at the end of 2019. The later start improves planning flexibility for people who might retire before age 72 but, because of other income sources, may not actually need immediate withdrawals from their retirement accounts. Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®, heads our Wealth Planning Committee. He describes it as: “They can develop an ‘optimization strategy’ for drawing down these accounts”. YOU SAID THERE WERE TWO “MAIN THINGS”… The other important item generally affects beneficiaries of IRA accounts who are NOT the surviving spouse of the deceased account owner. Before the SECURE Act, these inheritors could slowly draw down these retirement accounts in installments over their entire lifetime. That offered some great

Sam Tortorici, CEO & Director, Cadence Bank, N.A., and President, Cadence Bancorporation, discusses the SECURE Act with Linscomb & Williams team members MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®, and Bill Kring, CFP®

income tax planning flexibility. The SECURE Act generally shortens the withdrawal period to a maximum of 10 years. In certain cases, where families fully expect that retirement assets will pass to the next generation, planning should likely be updated. IS THERE A “BOTTOM LINE” HERE? Everyone needs good planning around configuring cash flow in retirement. If you have not focused on this area, we recommend sitting down with a financial advisor who is a fiduciary 100% of the time, like Linscomb & Williams. We have an experienced and fully-credentialed team and are available to meet in our office right here in Atlanta.

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Linscomb & Williams is not an accounting firm. Subsidiary of Cadence Bank. Cadence Insurance and Investment Products: Not insured by FDIC. Not bank guaranteed. May lose value. Not insured by any Federal Government Agency. Not a bank deposit.

20 | Community ■

How to respond to 2020 U.S. Census questions arriving in March BY DYANA BAGBY

Residents are expected to begin receiving information from the U.S. government in mid-March asking them to participate in the 2020 Census, part of a national headcount that takes place every 10 years. The numbers are used to determine how to distribute annually some $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments. According to a recent George Wash-


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ington University study, Georgia receives about $2,300 a year per person based on Census figures. The numbers also determine how many seats a state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to draw legislative and school districts. By April 1, known as Census Day, all homes across the country are scheduled to have

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Census questionnaires. There are no citizenship questions on the Census. Federal law protects Census responses and information from being shared with law enforcement or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Sample questionnaires and more information about the Census are available at For the first time, people will be able to answer Census questionnaires online via a website portal that launches March 23. People also will be able to answer the Census questionnaire by phone or by mail. Households will begin receiving invitations to respond online to the 2020 Census be-

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tween March 12 and 21. Reminder letters and postcards will be sent out through March and April. Beginning in May and continuing through July, Census workers will go doorto-door to households that have not responded.

What the Census does State, county and city governments use the federal money distributed based on Census data to fund schools, hospitals and emergency services. The results also inform how billions of dollars will go to programs like Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, highway construction, school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, according to the Census Bureau. Developers and business owners also use Census data to decide where to open new

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restaurants or factories or where to build new office buildings.

Local government sources Local officials use various methods to inform people about the importance of being counted. Officials are holding community meetings, launching social media campaigns and hosting public events where they can hand out Census swag, such as tote bags and water bottles. The city of Atlanta has a website at to provide information about

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how to participate in the Census. It is estimated that 35% of Fulton County’s population will be hard to count, so the city is recruiting Neighborhood Ambassadors on the website to reach out to friends and neighbors to get the word out. This is the first Census for the city of Brookhaven, which incorporated in 2012. The city has budgeted $70,000 to try to reach all residents and ask them to take part in the Census. Special attention is being made to reach the city’s Latino and Hispanic residents living in apartments on or near Buford Highway. More than 24% of the city’s approximately 54,000 residents identify as Latino or Hispanic. The city’s outreach also includes ads on Telemundo and partnering with groups such as the Latin American Association and Los Vecinos de Buford Highway, according to Patty Hansen, who is organizing the city’s efforts. The city is hosting a March 14 festival at Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway to raise awareness about the Census. In Dunwoody, the city is planning an April 1 Census Day event at the Dunwoody Li-

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brary where iPads will be available for people to fill out Census questionnaires. Other outreach events include a “Kids Count” event at the Farmers Market on April 4 to make sure young children are counted and an April 19 event at Crossroads Church. The church is trusted by many in the Hispanic community, said city spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher. The Refugee Women’s Network also is collaborating with the city to target local apartment complexes, she said.

MARCH 2020

Community | 21

Community Briefs

800 Brookhaven residents living with dementia. “That may not seem like a lot, but if you take into account how many people [know someone with dementia], we may be talking about 16,000 people this disease will affect,” Hu said, according to the news release. “The goal is to become a lead influencer and catalyst for change,” Hu said.


City Councilmember Joe Gebbia says he wants Brookhaven to become a “Dementia Friendly City,” a designation from the organization Dementia Friendly America. The designation is earned once a community puts in place such goals as the adoption of dementia friendly practices. Bringing together government, clinical and community-based organizations to raise awareness of dementia is also part of the program. “This is an opportunity for us to listen and then learn what we can do as a community to help those afflicted with dementia,” said Gebbia in a news release. “We’re looking at instituting programs that will enhance the quality of life for not only those affected, but their families as well.” At the City Council’s Feb. 11 work session, Dr. William Hu, associate professor of Neurology at City Councilmember Joe Gebbia Emory University, said he estimated there were


A DeKalb County judge recently found two Brookhaven murder suspects not guilty after she said in a scathing order that the District Attorney’s office failed to do the work needed to be ready for trial more than a year after their arrests. DeKalb Superior Court Judge Shondeana Morris granted the unusual order on Jan. 10 to acquit Stephen McAllister and Quintez Griffin. Brookhaven Police charged them in December 2018 with killing Carthel Johnson, 25, in a shooting at the Mille at Brookhaven Apartments on Barone Avenue. A third man was arrested but was later determined to be a victim and a witness and no charges are pending against him. Police said the shooting was the result of a drug deal that went bad. “[W]e are upset. Our detectives spent a lot of time and effort in providing a solid case to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution,” Police Chief Gary Yandura said in an email. District Attorney Sherry Boston said she and her officer are “currently evaluating our options to determine the most appropriate course of action.” “Our primary interest regarding this matter remains securing justice for Carthel ‘CJ’ Johnson Jr.,” she said in a written statement. “We will continue to fight.”


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22 | Community ■

Group marks 30 years of fighting HIV by providing housing Continued from page 1 ment is conducted. But it’s out in the community, in other parts of metro Atlanta, where Jerusalem House and its staff do the housing work. Frew said having a roof over the head of person with HIV or AIDS is crucial to stopping new HIV infections from spreading in metro Atlanta, where they continue to rise despite advances in education and treatment. “Our mantra is, ‘Housing is health care,’” Frew said. “If we can get the housing issue and resolve it in [metro] Atlanta, the byproduct will be improved health outcomes and fewer infection rates.” HIV is the virus that causes AIDS and has killed millions of people worldwide. The virus is spread through certain bodily fluids, such as through sex or sharing needles to use drugs. There is no cure. Once considered a death sentence, HIV is now a manageable disease with new medicines that have enabled people to live long, healthier lives. Medications can lower the amount of the virus in the bloodstream to undetectable levels. When HIV is undetectable, it is nearly impossible to sexually transmit the disease, thereby lowering the number of new infections. AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection when the body’s immune system is severely damaged. When HIV is left untreated, a person with AIDS can live about three years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the progress in new medicines that suppress the virus and education campaigns on how the disease is spread, Georgia continues to remain one of the states with the highest new infection rates in the country. In 2018, there were nearly 39,000 new HIV diagnoses in the U.S., according to the CDC. Georgia ranked fourth of all states with nearly 2,600 new HIV diagnoses. In 2017, there were nearly 17,000 people living with HIV in Fulton County and nearly 10,000 HIV-positive people living in DeKalb County, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Most of those receiving new HIV diagnoses are disenfranchised and marginalized people, including gay and bisexual men, people of color, homeless people and single mothers with young children, Frew said. “You can give all the medical help in the world to someone, but unless they are housed, they’re not going to be able to be compliant with their medications,” Frew said. Jerusalem House was founded 30 years ago after Evelyn Ullman, an affluent Atlanta woman, learned one of her employees, a gay man, was evicted because he had AIDS. Outraged by the discrimination, she teamed up with Dr. Joe Wilber, who headed up the state’s infectious disease program, and Rev. Chet Grey of St. Bartholomew’s Church to find a way to help. She knocked on doors of major companies and organizations, including Southern Bell, the Community Foundation for

Greater Atlanta and the Woodruff Foundation, to raise the money needed to buy the first house. Today, the nondenominational Jerusalem House, whose name means “dwelling of peace,” has 405 housing units and about 620 residents, including 125 children. All are low-income or were homeless. Many are too ill to work because of the disease. Many children are HIV-positive. There are two Jerusalem House facilities for individuals in the Druid Hills neighborhood, including the original house purchased and opened in 1989, and dozens of apartments that have been attached to its campus. A family program with 12 apartments near Emory University is currently filled. There are also two “scattered site” programs where Jerusalem House clients live in hundreds of apartments across metro Atlanta. Jerusalem House also offers tenant-based rental assistance that helps pay a portion of a participant’s monthly rent. Other agencies provide about another 100 or so housing units for those with HIV and AIDS in metro Atlanta, Frew said, bringing the total housing units for low-income and homeless people with HIV and AIDS to fewer than 600. A recent study estimated 3,000 permanent supportive housing units are needed in metro Atlanta to house low-income and homeless people with HIV and AIDS, Frew said. The organization is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and must pay fair market rents. The city of Atlanta distributes the federal funds to local AIDS service organizations, but recent controversies over agencies not getting their money in a timely manner led to potential evictions of people living with HIV. Jerusalem House and other agencies like AID Atlanta and Positive Impact were

able to ensure nobody ended up back on the street, Frew said. As rents continue to rise in metro Atlanta, the scattered sites are being forced further out from the city, making it harder for people to get into Atlanta, where medical resources are available. Jerusalem House can’t afford the rents in its home city of Brookhaven, for example. Jerusalem House receives no state or local funding and relies on donations to cover gaps not filled by federal funding. The organization’s 2020 operating budget is $10.4 million. Jerusalem House provides 76% of the permanent housing for men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS, said Matthew Kent, a Brookhaven resident and chair of the Jerusalem House board of directors. The organization’s mission has always been the same, but it has evolved, he said. “In the beginning, it was a peaceful place for people with the disease to come to die,” he said. “Now it is a place where people are living and thriving.” Jerusalem House works with other agencies to provide clients mental health counseling, financial training, GED courses, recreational activities and volunteer activities as part of a holistic approach to helping people out of despair, Frew said. The stigma against people with HIV and AIDS that led to the eviction of Ullman’s employee 30 years ago still exists, Frew said. As a gay man who saw many friends die in the 1980s and 1990s, Frew said Jerusalem House is also about removing stigma by empowering people. “We want to make a person the best they can be,” he said. “Nobody should be considered less than a human being. We are here to create a stable environment for people.” Bertha Dave, 70, has been HIV-positive for nearly 20 years. She is the guardian of


Above, Bertha Dave, 70, has been living with HIV for nearly 20 years. She is the guardian of a teen granddaughter and resides in the Jerusalem House family program near Emory University. Inset, Charlie Frew, executive director of Jerusalem House.

her teen granddaughter. After staying on couches for a time, she now resides at an apartment in the family program house. “They help you with your children to grow,” Dave said. “This is a community. Here I am able to be stable.” Dave’s experience has led her to give back by volunteering and working at local AIDS service agencies. People at her church know she is HIV positive and she said she lets everyone know because she believes the more aware people are, the quicker a cure can be found. “I’m not afraid to tell anyone. How can there be a cure if nobody knows about it?” she asked. “The stigma ends with me.”

30TH ANNIVERSARY FUNDRAISER On March 26, Jerusalem House celebrates its 30th anniversary with a luncheon at the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel, 3315 Peachtree Road. Honorees include Evelyn Ullman and the Buckhead/Cascade City chapter of The Links, an international nonprofit made up of women of color dedicated to serving their communities. Tickets are $100. Visit for more information. BK

MARCH 2020

Community | 23

I-285 toll lanes would bring new highway access points on local streets BY DYANA BAGBY

The Georgia Department of Transportation’s plan to build tolls on the top end of I-285 include new highway interchanges on such local streets as Perimeter Center Parkway and around North Shallowford Road. GDOT also proposes to turn Savoy and Cotillion drives on the DunwoodyChamblee border into one-way streets to serve the toll lanes system. Some local officials have raised concerns that the new access points would drive more cars onto city streets, adding even more congestion to areas such as Perimeter Center. GDOT contends the recommended access points to the toll lanes, or “express lanes,” were selected to provide “adequate and equitable” access for motorists as part of its eventually statewide “Georgia Express Lanes” system. GDOT says there still may be tweaks to the plans, including access points, after reviewing community input. Construction on the eastern portion of the top end of I-285, between Ga. 400 and Henderson Road, is not expected to begin until 2023 and open by 2029. The western section of the I-285 top end toll lanes between Ga. 400 and Paces Ferry Road are expected to begin construction in 2026 and open in 2032. There are no detailed illustrations of what access points would look like, according to GDOT spokesperson Scott Higley. An animated video GDOT released in January of what the toll lanes would look like include concepts for the access points, he said. Recommended access points that would connect to local streets in current concept plans include: ■ Perimeter Center Parkway in Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. ■ Johnson Ferry Road at Ga. 400 in the Pill Hill medical center area of Sandy Springs. ■ Mount Vernon Highway at Ga. 400 in Sandy Springs. ■ North Shallowford Road at the Dunwoody/Chamblee border. Raider Drive in Sandy Springs is listed as an “express lane merge.” The toll lanes are proposed to be built over Raider Drive with no direct access to local streets. “Merges” are places where motorists can move between toll lanes and general purpose, or free, lanes within the highway, Higley said. The area of North Shallowford Road in Dunwoody would have an access point to connect to local streets and have an express lane merge, according to GDOT’s current plans. GDOT is also recommending Cotillion Drive and Savoy Drive, which flank I-285 between North Peachtree and Chamblee-Dunwoody Roads, become oneway streets with the toll lane access ramps flowing in or out of them. The new interchange would be built near North Shallowford Road, using Cotillion and Savoy drives to provide local traffic with access, Higley said in a writBK

ten statement. There will also be a direct merge created on the interstate so regular lane users can enter or exit the toll lanes near North Shallowford. Cotillion and Savoy would be reconfigured and widened up to four or five lanes in some sections. The remake of the roads would take sizable strips of several properties and up to five buildings, depending on alternatives. Marked for possible demolition at the area of Savoy and North Peachtree are a gas station, the Wild Ginger Thai restaurant, a laundromat, and the Tip Top Kosher Market. And a Georgia Power building at Cotillion and North Shallowford may come down as well. Dunwoody and Brookhaven officials have raised concerns that access points could exacerbate local traffic congestion. Higley said the state has been in talks with each city throughout the planning. He said that, when placing access points, the GDOT takes into account such factors as traffic demand, availability of potential for park-and-ride locations; proximity to town and job centers, such as Perimeter Center and Pill Hill; and future land use compatibility. “Once complete, I-285 Top End Express Lanes will be one piece of the Georgia Express Lanes network,” he said. “When considering potential access locations, the entire network was considered to provide adequate and equitable access for motorists systemwide.” First Baptist Church in Dunwoody, which has an entrance on Cotillion Drive, would be required to give some right of way and provide easements to GDOT. GDOT has been keeping the church in the loop on planned interstate changes since at least 2012, said Senior Associate Pastor Anthony George. “We are very supportive of the efforts the state is making to improve I-285, and we believe their latest easement proposal is very reasonable.” George said the church supports making Cotillion Drive a one-way road because it would make entering and exiting the church property safer. It would also make for a quicker exit for the thousands of people leaving after a Sunday service, he said. He also said the new toll lanes would give the church better visibility from the interstate. “Although we never like to see trees come down, the GDOT plan calls for clearcutting for the expansion, which will provide the church with direct exposure to I-285 traffic,” George said. “I am praying that unhappy property owners and GDOT can achieve satisfactory solutions as these plans materialize,” George said. — -John Ruch contributed


A screenshot of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s visualization of access points to the planned I-285 top end toll lanes at North Shallowford Road from Cotillion and Savoy drives.

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A department store pianist in the key of entertaining customers

BY JUDITH SCHONBAK Music is Von Maur’s trademark at its department store at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody. On any given day, the sounds of skillfully played piano music carries throughout the three floors. The piano and the musician at the keys sit at the foot of the escalator bank on the first floor, with an area of comfortable chairs nearby. Pianist and composer David Reeb plays a broad range of tunes from classical to Broadway during the midday hours four days a week. The Georgia native is marking his eighth year playing for Von Maur customers and store employees alike. His fingers move surely over the keys without a pause even when a shopper


Pianist David Reeb sits at his instrument in the Von Maur store at Perimeter Mall.

Continued on page 28

Cinema Paradiso

Donna Lefont seeks to keep film history alive with pop-up screenings BY LAUREN LEATHERS When Donna Lefont was 8 years old, her father worked at a local movie theater. As a single dad, he often took his children to work with him, where they would run freely around the theater. Lefont’s favor-

ite place to explore were the projection rooms. She recalls peeking out from behind the machinery and seeing a dark room full of people, their faces lit up by the screen. “It was kind of like a Cinema Paradiso,” she says, namechecking the classic Italian film about a Continued on page 29


26 | Art & Entertainment ■

Author Q&A: Thriller novelist Harlan Coben on suburban secrets and Netflix hits BY JOHN RUCH

where “Tell No One” was made into an acclaimed 2006 film. Coben entered the filmmaking business himself as a writer and producer, creating the British mystery series “The Five” in 2016. Now he is adapting his works for international audiences on Netflix, where a British production of “The Stranger” debuted in January. His local appearance is part of the year-round programming for the Book Festival of the MJCCA, a major event every November. It wouldn’t be a Coben event without a plot twist – in this case, two bestselling novelists for the price of one. He will appear “in conversation” with Emily Giffin, a Buckhead resident and author of such hits as “Something Borrowed” and “All We Ever Wanted.” The Reporter recently asked Co-

Harlan Coben enters his 30th year of authorship as a master of the plot-twist thriller, with such bestsellers as “Tell No One” and “The Stranger.” He’ll deliver some more thrills to local fans by appearing for a discussion and book-signing at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta on March 18, the day after the debut of his latest mystery, “The Boy from the Woods.” The new novel, about a man who was found living feral and orphaned in the wild and who now goes in search of a missing girl, is one of Coben’s standalone thrillers. He’s had success in the series format, too, with the adventures of ex-basketball pro Myron Bolitar and his morally challenged pal Win Lockwood, and three young-adult thrillers starring Myron’s nephew. European film and TV has been very Coben-friendly, especially in France,

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Art & Entertainment | 27

ben about the appeal of suburban evil, the challenges of writing technothrillers and more. Q: Dark secrets behind suburban life is a theme in many of your books and seems to show up in the new one, too. What is that fascinates you about suburban life in that way? A: The suburbs is the home of the socalled American Dream – a nice house, a picket fence, two cars, two-point-four kids, peace, security, etc. -- but a dream is fragile. How far will you go to protect it? That interests me. Q: You’re having a string of success with Netflix productions based on your books. How involved are you in those productions? Is it challenging to hand your written babies over to a different medium?

A: I love doing these adaptations with Netflix, including the most recent, “The Stranger.” If you think about it, I’ve chosen to spend most of my life alone in a room by myself. To get out of that room and collaborate with tons of talented people – cast, crew, writers – has been a wonderful change. I compare the bookwriting to winning a tennis or golf championship. You celebrate alone. The TV adaptations are more like being captain of a team. We celebrate together. We rise and fall as one. Oh, and I’m very involved with the Netflix series. I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Q: You use technology in a lot of your plots. When you’re writing that type of thriller, do you try to write in a way that will hold up in 10 years, or are you happy with it being a snapshot of the moment?

I write contemporary novels. They are a snapshot of that moment. That’s how it should be. That’s how it is, if you think about it, with almost every novel. What must be universal is in the emotion and themes – the humanity -- not the trappings of time or locations. Q: You seem to be back to writing standalone novels rather than series. Is there something drawing you in that standalone direction? Any plans to bring some of your favorite characters back in the series form? A: Not really. Since 2000, I’ve written a Myron Bolitar novel every five or six years. My last Myron novel was “Home” in [2016], so that’s about right. Will I write more Myron and Win books? That’s the plan. I never force it. I wait until the idea comes to me and then I’ll see whether it will work for the series or not.

Q: In your local book festival visit, you’ll be in conversation with Emily Giffin, one of our local star novelists. Do you know her or have opinions about her work? A: I’m a huge Emily Giffin fan and – don’t be envious – I’ve already read an advanced copy of her upcoming release, “The Lies That Bind.” Ooh boy, is it great. I think it’s her best. Emily is also a wonderful friend and absolutely hilarious. It will be a fun event, I promise.

Harlan Coben in conversation with Emily Giffin Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $35 (includes new book “The Boy from the Woods”) Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody

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28 | Art & Entertainment ■

A department store pianist in the key of entertaining customers Continued from page 1 stops to ask for directions or make a comment on the music. The Reporter talked with Reeb and as he played at Von Maur. And, yes, he did play a request: “Clair de Lune” by Debussy and a jazz medley. Q: When did you start playing the piano? A: I was 4. My parents bought a piano for my 10-year-old sister so she could take lessons. I loved that piano right away and after hearing her play “Chopsticks,” I sat down and played it by ear. I played “Chopsticks” a lot and my parents probably got tired of it. They told me to stay away from the piano and said it is not a toy. Finally, I sat down and played a song all the way through from memory, by ear. It was a song from church: “Jesus Loves Me.” They were impressed, and from then on, I could play when I wanted to. I actually did not take lessons until I was 16. But I loved practicing and wanted to practice rather than play outside or do almost anything else.

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Q: Did you have a preference for a certain genre of music once you started lessons? A: Not particularly. I loved playing everything. I am classically trained from my private lessons and continued that love and expanded styles and genres to include jazz, standards, popular music and Broadway while training at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia, and the University of Georgia. Q: When did you begin playing at Von Maur? A: I began in 2012. This is my eighth year playing for Von Maur. Right now, I am playing four days a week, though the schedule changes occasionally. Two other musicians also play here: John Ivey and Elizabeth Carey. Q: Do you get a lot of requests as you play? A: A few. People seem to like to take a break from shopping or wait to meet someone, so mostly they sit and listen. This is a good meeting place because of where I am located in the store. It’s easy to find. When I do get requests, it’s usually a favorite song or it may be seasonal, like a special Christmas tune. Q: There is no sheet music on your piano. Do you know all your repertoire by heart? A: I have about 3,000 pieces in my head, from classical and jazz, to Broadway, standards through the decades and those popular today. I keep some sheet music in my briefcase just in case, but mostly I practice new pieces all the time. Even though I play a lot every day, I still love to practice and add to my repertoire. Q: Do you have occasion to meet people and play for them at Von Maur? A: Sometimes people will ask me about playing for a private event they are planning. As for playing at the store, I did have a wonderful experience this past December. I had just finished my shift at Von Maur when a young woman in an evening gown and her parents stopped at the piano. It turned out that she is the current Miss Georgia and her talent in the beauty pageant competition was singing. I played for her and she sang. She has a beautiful voice, and, in fact, she went on to win the talent competition in the most recent Miss America pageant. Q: Where else do you play? A: I play five nights a week for singers at open mic sessions and sing-alongs at Stone Mountain Public House, Olive Bistro in Midtown and Buckeye Room Bar & Grill in Chamblee. I also play at for weddings, receptions, parties and other private events, and I currently teach two students.

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Q: You are also a composer. What have you written? A: I have written music for several theater shows. One was “Teachers: The Musical.” It premiered in Acworth, Georgia to rave reviews. I did a YouTube video for the Christmas season called “Mozart’s Two Front Teeth.” It’s a take-off in Mozart style of Christmas songs. Included are “Mozart Wants a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and “Mozart Got Runover By a Reindeer.” I made up a whimsical story for each one. Q: What would Mozart think? A: I think he would laugh. He had a sense of humor and played around with music like throwing in a lot of unexpected notes in his works.

MARCH 2020

Art & Entertainment | 29

Cinema Paradiso

Donna Lefont seeks to keep film history alive with pop-up screenings Continued from page 1 young boy who escapes life in his war-torn village at the local movie house. “The theater was my home away from home and I got used to it.” The Lefont name is legendary in Atlanta because Donna’s ex-husband, George Lefont, owned for 40 years a chain of independent cinemas in the city that still loom large in movie-lover’s minds. The chain included The Silver Screen, The Screening Room, Garden Hills Cinema, Lefont Sandy Springs and Plaza Theatre. Lefont Theaters were the place to see foreign, independent and documentary films. George opened his first theater, The Silver Screen, in Buckhead circa 1976. Lefont Sandy Springs -- now the Springs Cinema & Taphouse -- was the last theSPECIAL George and Donna Lefont at the Academy ater he owned before retirAwards in an undated photo. ing in 2017. Donna has made it her this day and age with all the technology mission to not only continue George’s available, we need to stay connected.” legacy, but continue her passion for cuThe movies Food Film Music screens rating films, connecting the communiare hand-picked and curated by Lefont. ty, and teaching the relevance of cineShe says researching the films is her ma she first experienced as a child. favorite part, because she’ll often go The Lefont Film Society was creatdown a rabbit hole of discovering moved in 2012 to “bring back a version of ies she’s never seen prior. After picking the Lefont programming and nostalthe film, Lefont researches the distribugia without having a physical location tion rights or contacts distributors to again,” and has since become integratrequest screening rights. ed into Food Film Music (foodfilmmu“Hidden history is what I’m trying to, a series of pop-up style screendiscover and find new ways to connect ings. “The pop-up idea came to me — food, film, and music pretty much because it kind of allows for curated connect all of us in some way,” she says. programming, specific to the neighborNext on the Food Film Music docket hood audiences.” is a double feature of “The Mindfulness Lefont says the pop-up cinemas – Movement” and “Tashi and the Monk” which will take place in various locaon Saturday, April 4, from noon to 4 tions including yoga studios, local thep.m. at the Cinevision Screening Room aters, restaurants, boutiques, and more in Chamblee. – will provide the opportunity to hold Lefont is also collaborating with tight to the city’s film history, provide Emory University’s Cognitively-Based education opportunities, and fulfill Compassion Training, which focuses her passion for film. It also provides a on practicing attentional stability, anchance for movie-goers to collectively alytical reflection, and increased emoshare emotion and exchange dialogue tional awareness, at future movie and about the films. meditation events. She also plans to “If you’re watching something and host a film screenwriting camp in June you’re crying together, with your pupils for 5th to 9th graders to teach screensniffling next to you, and you’re trying writing and storytelling. To Lefont, a to hold it back, or people are busting a great story will remain timeless. gut laughing,” Lefont says. “You’re shar“There’s so many production camps ing emotion with people, and I think in and workshops available, but let’s back

it up to storytelling,” she says. “We have to retrain our minds to not consume so much all the time, and to actually be mindful and slow down and really appreciate this visual motion picture art form for what it is. Without that, you’re going to lose film history.” As with many aspects of media in this digital age, there is a looming shadow over the fate of the traditional movie theater due to distribution rights, the convenience of streaming entertainment, and the influx of film that is changing Atlanta. “I think it’s going to take reaching a plateau that people are going to want to connect back in the dark auditorium with strangers,” Lefont says. “Sure, you can have comfortable seats in your home, but that’s not the same as having this huge screen take over your whole life. You have to make the effort to appreciate the art form, no different than going to see a live band versus listening to it online.” While Atlanta has become Hollywood adjacent with Tyler Perry Stu-

dios, Pinewood Studios, and EUE/ Screen Gems and dozens of big budget film and television shows constantly in production (from the Marvel universe films to “Stranger Things”), the city’s growing film economy hasn’t phased Lefont. She’s focused on conserving the vast film history the city holds. “There’s so much growth going on in this city and I think it’s important to hang on to the history and to keep sharing it even as people are moving here,” she says. “Everybody’s trying to get into the [film] business and I don’t even know if they understand the history of it.” Part of understanding that history is keeping George Lefont’s passion for cinema alive in the city. “The Lefont Film Society built such a great following all those years and I can’t let it disappear, because all the hard work would have been in vain,” she says. “It’s getting back out into the community and talking about the Lefont Theaters film legacy, the Atlanta film legacy.”

Photo: ING Photography

EXHIBITION EXTENDED On view through April 25, 2020

4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30338 Gallery Hours: Tuesday—Saturday: 11am-6pm, Monday: by appointment

30 | Art & Entertainment

H I G H ■


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






Saturday, March 21, 3 p.m. Riverwood International Charter School Dramatic Arts department presents the movie-based musical about a teenager rebelling in a town that has banned dancing. Tickets $15, students $10. Riverwood International Charter School, 5900 Raider Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: fultonschools. org/RiverwoodHS.



Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22, 1 p.m. Roswell Dance Theatre performs a onehour production of “Cinderella,” followed by Atlanta Dance Theater presenting a one-hour production of “Aladdin.” The Saturday matinee features a meet-and-greet with both casts. Princess costumes welcome, with costume contest at each performance. Tickets $20-$35. Byers Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:




MARCH 8 • APRIL 12 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 rotating exhibitions. Generous support for Second Sundays is provided by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

Saturday and Sunday, March 28-29, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The annual music and arts festival will feature an arts & crafts market and children’s play area, with headlining performances from Rachel Platten (Saturday) and Better than Ezra (Sunday). Free. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info:

Friday, March 6-Sunday, March 15 A comedy about a man who tries to get the family fortune by jumping the line of succession by any means necessary, performed by the City Springs Theatre Company. Tickets: $30-$65. Byers Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7, 8 p.m. Sunday, March 8, 3 p.m. Capitol City Opera Company opens its 37th season with opera by composer Charles Gounod, based on William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. Performed in French with English supertitles. Tickets: $30-$40. Conant Performing Arts Center, Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info:



Thursday, March 12-Sunday, March 22 Jerry’s Habima Theatre, featuring actors with special needs as well as professional actors from the community, will presents the musical comedy using ABBA’s greatest hits to tell the story of a young woman’s search for her birth father. Tickets: Nonmembers $45 (children $15); memebrs $25 (children $10). Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: or 678-812-4002.


Thursday, March 19Saturday March 21, 6:30 p.m.


Sunday, March 22, 4-7 p.m. Celebrate World Water Day with Georgia River Network, featuring live music, beer, food from gourmet food trucks, a silent auction and raffle. Tickets $30, children $15. Pontoon Brewing, 8601 Dunwoody Place, Building 500, Suite 500, Sandy Springs. Info:


Saturday, March 21, at 7:30 a.m. Peachtree Road Race qualifier and a fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Registraton: $25. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info:


Friday March 13-Saturday, March 14, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday March 15, 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. The Sandy Springs Society’s longest-running fundraiser and sells gently used items of designer clothing, high-end accessories, jewelry, antiques, books, furniture, upscale home decor and more. Free; Thursday preview party $35. In former Chastain Preschool building, 4967 A Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info:


Saturday, March 28, 6-11 p.m. Benefit for the Sandy Springs-based nonprofit TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation, with live and silent auctions, live entertainment, a seated dinner and open

MARCH 2020

Art & Entertainment | 31

bar. Tickets $200. Intercontinental Hotel, 3315 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. Info:


Saturday, March 14–Sunday, April 26, 2020 The Georgia Watercolor Society (GWS) presents its juried show open to all watercolor artists across the United States. Tickets $5, students/children free. Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info:


Sunday, March 15, 4 p.m. “Creating Harmony in Classical Proportions,” featuring works by Hazo, Persichetti, Schubert, Zdechlik, Heed, Fillmore, Reed and more. Free. Ahavath Achim Synagogue, 600 Peachtree Battle Avenue, Buckhead. Info:



Thursday, March 5, 7 p.m. Matt Matternes, an expert in the history and archaeology of cemeteries, speaks to the Buckhead Heritage Society about the cemetery at Buckhead’s New Hope Church. Free; reservations requested. New Hope Church Sanctuary, 3012 Arden Road, Buckhead. Info:


Saturday, March 7 through Sunday, March 29 The three-week-long festival celebrating Atlanta’s cultural and historical resources will showcase 100 “preservation partners” offering over 200 events, including guided walking tours, lectures, storytelling, open houses and more at various sites, including in Buckhead. Free. Info:


Wednesday, March 11, 9:30 a.m.-noon Carol Brooks and Pat Price of the North Fulton Masters Gardner’s will discuss “Shade and Shade Gardening.” Free. North Shallowford Annex, 4470 North Shallowford Road, Dunwody. Info:


March 11, 6-8 p.m. The Sandy Springs Education Force hosts its 10th Annual STEAM Showcase, a handson technology and arts exhibition. Free. North Springs Charter High School, 7447 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info:

Sunday, March 15, 6 p.m. 20th anniversary concert with pianist Roberto Plano performing works from Ottorino Respigh, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt, Heitor Villa Lobos, Alberto Ginastera and George Gershwin. Tickets: 10-$25, Studio Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Tuesday, March 10, 6-7 p.m. The author of “The Temple Bombing,” “The Underdogs” and other nonfiction books and distinguished writer-in-residence at Agnes Scott College speakers in a presentation sponsored by the Friends of the Northside Branch Library. Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA, 1160 Moores Mill Road, Buckhead. Info: northside.branch@fultoncountyga. gov.


Monday, March 30, 7-8 p.m. Jennifer Renee Blevins’s debut memoir about her personal and family experiences in a fat-phobic world and critiquing the “obe-

sity epidemic.” Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info:


Friday, March 13, 9-10:30am Rock collecting class. Free. Big Trees Preserve, 7645 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info:


Saturday, March 7, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Discover the best deals and sell your unwanted items at the Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Community Yard Sale. Free to Attend. Tables to Sell: $20 or $30 for two tables. Briarwood Park Recreation Center, 2235 Briarwood Way, Brookhaven. Reserve a table: 404-637-0512 or


Through Wednesday, April 15 The Community Assistance Center, serving Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, offers free tax return preparation and filing to moderate- to low-income households earning up to $55,000 in 2019. For an appointment please email or call (770) 552-4889 ext. 241.

32 | Education ■

Teaching historical photography at Lovett BY HANNAH GRECO


Karey Walter has been teaching both analog and digital photography at the Lovett School for 24 years. Walter’s work is unique because she is teaching in ways that have been forgotten by many: historical photo printmaking. While many schools have moved to digital photography and teach only Photoshop or other finishing software elements, Walter’s students learn black-and-white film photography, printmaking with ultraviolet light, daguerreotype and other historical methods of printing photography.


Easter Services

Holy Week

Palm Sunday

9:15am Sunday School 10:30am Worship

Maundy Thursday

7:00pm Communion Service

Good Friday

7:00pm Tenebrae Service

Easter Sunday

Northwest Presbyterian Church

9:15am Sunday School 10:30am Easter Celebration 11:45pm Easter Egg Hunt

4300 Northside Drive Drive,NW, NW 30327

Childcare Provided.

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Everyone Welcome!

Easter Sunday April 12, 2020

6:45 AM

Outdoor, sunrise worship with Communion

8:45 AM

10:55 AM

Traditional worship Traditional worship with choir, brass, with choir, brass, and Communion and Communion

ALL are welcome!

4400 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd Atlanta, GA 30342 | 404.261.3121

Easter at Misty Creek Palm Sunday

April 5 - 10:30am in the Stone Chapel

Good Friday

April 10 - 7pm Service in the Stone Chapel

Community Easter Sunrise (Easter message: Reverend David Shivers)

April 12 - 6:30am Arlington Memorial Park Sandy Springs

Easter Services

9am & 10:30am at the Stone Chapel with a dramatic presentation

March & April Sermon Series: Resurrection Stories

590 Mt. Vernon Hwy NE, Sandy Springs GA 30328 w w w.mist

Lovett School senior Kendall Greene, left, and fine art photography instructor Karey Walter pose in front of their works selected for Manifest Gallery’s 10th annual exhibit “TAPPED: Artists and Their Professors,” a showcase of works by current and former teacher/artist pairs in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Walter also helps her students enter their photographs in competitions. In January, Walter and Lovett senior Kendall Greene displayed their works at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the 10th annual exhibit “TAPPED: Artists and Their Professors,” a showcase of works by current and former teacher/artist pairs. “The relationship between artists and their current or former instructors can be a powerful one,” an excerpt from Manifest Gallery’s website reads. “All of us who have been students carry forward our teachers’ legacy in one form or another.” “I was more than excited to see that my months of shooting with a medium-format film camera, processing rolls of color negative film by hand, editing and scanning had paid off,” Kendall said of her work being displayed at Manifest. “I am so lucky to be learning from Ms. Walter and learning the fundamental skills of photography.” Q: How did you get started with photography? A: My journey in photography started with my love of horses as a 12-year-old attending summer camp. I would photograph with disposable cameras and I become fascinated with capturing my life experiences. While in high school, I had the opportunity to learn the darkroom process with black-and-white film. Studying the arts in high school led me to explore the arts in college and eventually receiving my master of fine arts from the University of Utah. Q: How did you become the instructor of fine art photography at Lovett? A: After graduate school, I returned to the South and was unclear about my goals as a photographer. I decided to hike the Appalachian trail with my dog to discover myself. Along the way, I met another photographer who informed me of a job opportunity teaching photography at the Lovett School. My trail experience was at a time before cellphones, so I hiked to the Nantahala Outdoor Center to use a payphone and called Lovett. They wanted me to come to Atlanta for an interview, so I left the trail and landed the job. Twenty-four years later, I am grateful to be educating students and exploring many techniques in the photographic arts with generous support in the arts at Lovett. Q: What inspired you to begin teaching students about historical methods of photography versus the more common digital photography methods? A: While in graduate school, I studied a variety of historical photo processes from the 1840s through the 1900s. In addition to historical processes, I am trained as a darkroom photographer and skilled in a variety of analog film and printing processes. Lovett is unique because we still operate a fully functional analog darkroom that allows me to educate the students in a variety of photographic processes. Twenty-first-century learners are intrigued with making and tactile materials, so the darkroom is a magical place to explore and to understand the complexities of photography. We also introduce the students to digital photography and learning Adobe editing, but being behind a computer all day does not have the same experience as the analog process. Q: What is next for you and your students? A: My advanced photography students are studying a photography project called PhotoArk, created by Joel Sartore, a photographer for National Geographic. The PhotoArk’s imagery is a documentary series highlighting animals and where they currently stand with extinction. We are traveling on an overnight photo retreat to the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida, to photograph a variety of animals and research the sustainability efforts of this organization. White Oak researches and breeds several animals such as rhinos, okapi, zebras, cheetahs, giraffes and Pere David’s deer. Offering experiential learning gives the students a real-life documentary photoshoot, which allows them an interactive experience while photographing on location.

Education | 33

MARCH 2020 ■


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 STAR students and teachers for high schools located in Reporter Newspaper communities. Atlanta International School

Maanit Madan Star Student

Brandon Hall

Catalina Ghercioiu Star Teacher

Chih-Chun (Vivian) Lin Star Student

The Galloway School

Nicholas Hungria Star Student

Matthew Keagle Star Student

Marist School

Charles Callahan Star Student

Ethan Shi Star Student

Nicole Chapman Star Teacher

Melody Cannon Star Teacher

Eliza Bruno Star Student

Holly Isserstedt Star Teacher

Manny Yepes Star Student

Erica Hiers Star Teacher

John Gresens Star Teacher

Ricardo Ruiz Star Student

Rod Schopke Star Teacher

Jenny Chen Star Student

Susan Wingate Star Teacher

Pace Academy

Ezra Midkiff Star Student

Aidan Gannon Star Student

Grady Stevens Star Teacher

St. Pius X Catholic High School

DeAndre Johnson Star Student

Riverwood International Charter School

Ann Graham Star Teacher

The Lovett School

Amanda Thornhill Star Teacher

North Springs High School

Yaron Bernstein Star Student

Justin Heo Star Student

North Atlanta High School

Amy Choi Star Teacher

Amber Player Star Teacher

Dunwoody High School

Holy Spirit Preparatory School

Mount Vernon School

Jose Gregory Star Teacher

Kimberly Kassis Star Student

Chamblee Charter High School

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School

Cheryl Despathy Star Teacher

Atlanta Girls’ School

Laura Romero-Mondragon Star Teacher

Daniel Buckley Star Student

The Weber School

Caroline Schneider Star Student

Olivia Rocamora Star Teacher

Maria Kepler Star Teacher

Margherita Ceccagnoli Star Student

The Westminster Schools

Anup Bottu Star Student

Claire Chen Star Student

Laura Drewicz Ewing Star Teacher

Carrie Stockard Star Teacher

34 | ■

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 2020 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 More information regarding summer schedule dates and registration form can be found at, select Riding Services, then select Summer Camp!

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Register Today! Visit or call 770.394.3447 for more info 404-252-4244 ext.1001

MARCH 2020

| 35

discounted rates available

Until April 30th

camp dates and locations INTOWN: June 1 – June 19, 2020

SANDY SPRINGS: June 22 – July 31, 2020

NORTH FULTON: July 6 – July 24, 2020

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MARCH 2020

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Things are heating up outside—and inside—the studio. This summer, we’ll explore dance from ballet and tap to jazz and hip hop. Plus, arts, crafts and dance-themed games. Camps run from June through July for dancers of all ages and skill levels. Come dance with us! Enroll today at THE EXCHANGE AT HAMMOND 5962 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30328 ELITESTUDIOSATL.COM 404.500.1738 © 2020 Elite Studios, LLC

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38 | Education ■


DeKalb County Board of Education member Stan Jester has announced he will not seek re-election for the District 1 seat. Andrew Ziffer of Dunwoody previously announced a challenge to Jester for the seat and is now running unopposed. Ziffer has said his agenda includes creating an atmosphere of collaboration between school officials and the community rather than one of division. “I know there are many people who are frustrated and feel ignored by the Board of Education and DeKalb Schools,” Ziffer said. “I will continue to focus my campaign on delivering a positive message, reaching out to the different neighborhoods and communities in District 1 to hear their thoughts.” The seat represents parts of Dunwoody, Chamblee, Brookhaven and Doraville. The election is May 19. “I’m tired and I’m getting spread pretty thin,” Jester said. “I don’t want my obligations outside of work to affect my ability to prepare for board meetings effectively.” Jester was first elected to the school board in 2014. In November, Jester said he was planning to run for a third term. He has been outspoken and critical of former Superintendent R. Stephen Green and his administration on issues ranging from spending to redistricting. “I think it’s important to recognize Stan Jester’s service to our community for the last 6 years,” Ziffer said. “He shined a light on many issues and helped many families.”


Two North Springs Charter High School students have been named Governor’s Honors Program semi-finalists. Grace Kirschner, junior, has been nominated for communicative arts and Matthew Szabo, sophomore, has been nominated for theatre. Both candidates will now have a final state-level interview in hopes to be selected as a finalist. SPECIAL If selected, Kirschner and Szabo From left, Grace Kirschner and Matthew Szabo. will spend four weeks this summer at Berry College in Berry for the GHP Summer Intensive program. The GHP is a residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students who will be rising juniors and seniors during the program, according to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. The program is designed to provide students with academic, cultural, and social enrichment necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators and leaders, according to GOSA’s website.


A Riverwood International Charter Scool senior Neha Devineni has been named one of Georgia’s top two youth volunteers of 2020 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. In 2017, Neha founded the nonprofit ASA that now encompasses more than 100 young people in several states and overseas who are working to improve the lives of children in need, particularly in the areas of nutrition, sanitation and education. On a trip to India, Neha saw unimaginable poverty. “What I witnessed was heartbreaking,” Neha said in a press release. “Children younger than me were going to work in fields and factories and living in makeshift tents on the sides of the street.” As a state honoree of the Prudential award, Neha will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an allSPECIAL Riverwood International expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where Charter School senior she will join the top two honorees from each of the other Neha Devineni. states for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2020. The award, now in its 25th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Prudential is a nationwide program that honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.


For the fifth time in six years, a team from Saint Jude the Apostle Catholic School in Sandy Springs has won the Future City Regional Competition and represented the state in the National Championship in Washington, D.C., according to a press release. Future City is an engineering education program and tasks students with researching, designing and building a city to showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue. This year’s theme, “Clean Water: Tap into Tomorrow,” challenged the students to identify a threat to their city’s water source and design a resilient system to maintain a reliable supply of clean drinking water. The city would exist at least 100 years in the future, and the engineering solutions had to be innovative, futuristic and scientifically plausible, the release said. At the competition, teams presented their vision of the future through a virtual city design using “SimCity” video game software, a 1500-word essay, a scale model of their city built with recycled materials and a short oral presentation to a panel of STEM professionals. There was a spending limit of $100 to complete the task. Saint Jude’s team, named Team SMART Springs (an acronym for Safe MetropolisActive Resilient Thriving), consists of sixth-graders Adam Doulby, Anna Duffy, Barbara Guaderrama, Robbie Mahan, Ryan Quinnelly, Josh Tippen and eighth-grader Will Mahan. The students were guided by the faculty STEM advisor, Eleonora Straub, and parent coach, Banesa Guaderrama. In addition to placing first in the region, Team SMART Springs also won Best Research Essay, Best Virtual City, Accessible City Award and a special award presented by NCEES for Best Land Surveying Practices, the release said.

MARCH 2020

Classifieds | 39



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40 | ■

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

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