Sandy Springs Reporter - March 2021

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MARCH 2021 • VOL. 15 — NO. 3

Sandy Springs Reporter COMMENTARY

Lessons learned as pandemic anniversary arrives

SUMMER CAMPS P25 through 28 1

EVENTS YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS IN MARCH P7

Pandemic Then and Now

Violent crime is up while overall rate drops BY BOB PEPALIS

P16

build the road, which is projected to cost as much as $60 million. Though city officials have said they expect more funding for the project in the next transportation special local option sales tax (TSPLOST) referendum, it won’t be enough to cover all construction costs. And voters could reject a five-year extension of the tax. “They are going two houses deep, so you

An increase in violent crime reported by the Sandy Springs Police Department in the city in 2020 matches national trends shown in the increase in homicides and aggravated assaults during the year of the pandemic and social unrest. The SSPD’s annual report said the overall rate of reported crime was down 8% from 2019. More violent crimes, including aggravated assault, robbery and murder were reported in 2020 than in 2019, the SSPD reported in the city’s “2020 Year in Review” document. For property crimes, vehicle theft and arson showed an increase in 2020. Larceny, entering auto and burglary cases dropped in 2020 from the previous year’s figures. Homicides, aggravated assaults and gun assaults began increasing dramatically over 2019 numbers in late May 2020, according to “Pandemic, Social Unrest and Crime in U.S. Cities,” a report on 2020’s national crime rates produced by the Washington, D.C. think tank the Council on Criminal Justice. The think tank’s report said it wasn’t clear why reports of those crimes increased. That timing coincides with the start of racial justice protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of police. Criminologists in the report say it’s too soon to tell whether there is any connection. Crime statistics come with many qualifications. Not all crimes are reported to police, and some that are reported turn out not to be crimes or are classified as different offenses later. The six homicides investigated by SSPD in 2020 is an example of the statistical com-

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See VIOLENT on page 29

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Inside an authentic Cuban sandwich shop P8

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Hear DIY songs named for local towns

FILE/PHIL MOSIER

In March 2020, shoppers formed long lines inside the Kroger at City Walk on Sandy Springs Place in the crush to stock up before pandemic lockdowns. A year later, the Kroger has posted signs about a mask-wearing requirement and the chain is home to COVID-19 vaccinations. For local reaction to the pandemic’s grim first anniversary, see our story on p. 20.

Next question for Hammond Drive widening: Who pays?

P10

BY BOB PEPALIS

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

Now that the city has a design for turning the two-lane section of Hammond Drive into a complex, four-lane version, the next question is whether residents have the appetite to pay for it. Some nearby residents wonder what the city will do with the property purchased for the road if it never gets enough funding to

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2 | Making a Difference TH

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Former volunteer to lead Community Assistance Center

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BY BOB PEPALIS The Community Assistance Center (CAC) has chosen volunteer Francis Horton as its next CEO to fill the position upon Tamara Carrera’s retirement. Horton plans to use his experience with international nonprofits that help to lift people out of poverty to aid neighbors in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, the CAC said in a news release. Horton and Carrera will spend the next month or so working on the transition to his leadership. Carrera was the driving force behind CAC’s growth from a small charity initially housed at a scout hut at the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church campus, providing food and clothing to about 280 families a year, to the go-to emergency assistance agency in the community serving more than 6,500 individuals a year from 3,000 households. Carrera joined CAC as a volunteer in 1993, and in 1997 was hired as its fourth director. Horton and his wife Angie have volunteered at the CAC food pantry and thrift shop. “He understands both the circumstances and conditions leading to poverty, and more importantly, has years of frontline experience designing and implementing models to help people recover from natural disasters, food insecurity, inadequate housing, and poor access to education and sustainable jobs,” said CAC board member Cece Webster, who led the search committee. He has worked in leadership positions in Africa, Asia and Pakistan with International Mission Board, Samaritan’s Purse and other organizations, the CAC said in a release. Those teams have included volunteers across countries diverse in race, religion and ethnicity. He earned a law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. “Francis is well positioned with the right leadership skills, values and motivation to move CAC from ‘good to great’ to achieve even further impact in service of our critical mission,” said CAC Board Chair Anne Hicks. SS


Community | 3

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Bus transit on toll lanes threatened without Fulton TSPLOST funding, officials say BY BOB PEPALIS Rejection by most Fulton County mayors of sales-tax money for bus rapid transit to operate on future toll lanes on Ga. 400 and other highways could jeopardize funding for the projects, representatives of major state agencies say. The issue has Mayor Rusty Paul frustrated that the region doesn’t have a unified funding plan. A delay or loss of BRT would mean the state’s controversial plan to add toll lanes on Ga. 400 and I-285 would not have public transit as a mitigation feature. For the city, where MARTA rail expansion has received local support but BRT was accepted as a cheaper alternative, it would be a further step back from transit options. Representatives from MARTA, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the State Road and Tollway Authority warned during a joint virtual meeting of Fulton’s mayors and the Board of Commissioners on Feb. 5 that without a local funding source from the cities and county, the chance for federal funding or additional state dollars will be lost. The transit and transportation agency leaders pleaded for them to at least add transit to one of the projects on a transportation special local-option sales tax (TSPLOST) referendum expected to be placed on the ballot in November. MARTA General Manager Jeff Parker said the transit agency has agreed to pay for operations and maintenance of the BRT lines once they are completed. That leaves the cities and county with funding construction of BRT stations. The Biden administration may provide transit funds for projects that provide local matching funds. Paul said he had no problem with asking city residents to approve the small sales tax hike to provide funding for the BRT plans. Transit has been popular in the city. Development related to a proposed MARTA Red Line extension through the Northridge Road area is part of the city’s Next Ten Comprehensive Plan. And the cities and county added BRT to the Fulton Transportation Master Plan three years ago. “So there’s not a huge benefit to citizens of Sandy Springs, but we realized we are part of the whole and I think we’d be willing to support that,” he said. GDOT and MARTA have committed to a plan to add BRT to toll lanes that would be built on Ga. 400 between North Springs Station in Sandy Springs and the Windward Park and Ride lot in Alpharetta. Tentative discussions are underway for that service to plug into similar BRT service on I-285. Another BRT concept is for Roosevelt Highway and Ga. 39 in South Fulton. The current Fulton funding discussions include the Ga. 400 and South Fulton BRT concepts. GDOT is authorized to spend only a small percentage of its funding on transit, with the majority dedicated to roads and

SS

bridges, said spokesperson Natalie Dale. The North Fulton BRT line along Ga. 400 received $100 million in funding through the state because it was moving forward on its managed lanes project for the highway, said SRTA Executive Director Chris Tomlinson. It would fund access to other stations on the BRT lines via ramps. Local funds would be needed to complete the other BRT stations or at least provide a match for potential federal funding. An east-west BRT line using managed lanes on the northern arc of I-285 and using Ga. 400 to connect with the North Springs Station would run from Tucker to Smyrna. But as his fellow mayors in Fulton County debate BRT funding for both ends of the county, Paul is meeting with city leaders to discuss this BRT line that lacks funding at this point. With no unified transit funding plan, Sandy Springs residents could be asked to increase their sales tax even more to fund the east-west BRT line. He called Sandy Springs the linchpin because the two BRT lines would meet there. TSPLOST is a Fulton County sales tax to fund transportation improvements within the participating cities. Voters approved the current TSPLOST in a referendum in November 2016, with collection of the

0.75% sales tax beginning in April 2017 for projects that were designated on the ballot. That sales tax expires in April 2022 unless another referendum gets approved by voters. Most of the cities favored keeping the TSPLOST at its current level to assure they receive the same levels of revenue as they have for the past four years. Fulton Board of Commissioners Chair Rob Pitts said the TSPLOST referendum timeline to get it placed before voters on the November ballot requires cities to develop their project lists in May, with an official meeting between mayors and the commission in July. After an intergovernmental agreement is reached between all cities and the county, a resolution for the referendum must be sent to the elections superintendent no later than Aug. 2 to get it on the ballot. City Council favors seeking a renewal of a transportation-funding sales tax on the November ballot — but without including the bus rapid transit service. Sales tax in Fulton County – including Sandy Springs – already includes 1% for MARTA. The BRT funding proposal asked for a 0.2% hike in the sales tax. If the eastwest BRT line is approved, city residents could be asked for another sales tax hike.

Paul said he can’t ask his City Council and city residents to do that, but said he understood GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry’s point that the cities and county must deal with what it has. “I think I can get my council to go along with the transit piece if there’s a rational plan to connect all this stuff together,” Paul said. “And that’s what I see is missing. So somebody explain to me how I overcome this dilemma.” McMurry told Paul that his city is seeing the largest transportation investment in the state’s history with the reconstruction of the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange, which is expected to finish this year and to be followed by the toll lanes projects. “Those investments are building the guideway, if you will, for this potential transit,” he said. In 2018, $100 million was reserved in state bonds for transit, which later was dedicated to the Ga. 400 toll lanes project because it was moving forward on its managed lanes project for the highway, said SRTA Executive Director Chris Tomlinson. He said the state expects to pick a project developer by the third quarter of this year, with completion by the end of 2026.


4 | Public Safety

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City awards $7.5M in contracts for fire station, public safety building LOGO HERE

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The future public safety headquarters at 620 Morgan Falls Road. (Phil Mosier)

BY BOB PEPALIS The city’s new public safety headquarters and a fire station will begin soon as the City Council awarded $7.5

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million in design and construction contracts at a Feb. 16 meeting. Jericho Design Group of Cumming will design renovations for the building at 620 Morgan Falls Road that the city bought to serve as its new public safety facility. The City Council awarded the company the architectural services contract based on its bid of a little more than $1 million. “We’re hoping to begin construction sometime around May of next year. We’re hoping to be in the building sometime around October of 2023,” said Deputy City Manager David Wells. Jericho Design Group has partnered with Dewberry, a professional services firm, on the project. Before construction can begin, the team will interview the future users of the building, conduct soil tests, structural analysis and design the renovations. Construction drawings will be produced from those designs. And a contractor will be chosen through competitive bidding to make the renovations. During its meeting the council also awarded a $6.45 million construction contract for Fire Station No. 2 at 135 Johnson Ferry Road, next door to City Springs, to Reeves Young of Sugar Hill. Firefighters are working out of a temporary station at Roswell Road and Mount Vernon Highway. In bid documents, the city said construction was expected to start on March 1 or as soon as a contractor was selected. SS


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6 | Public Safety

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City beefs up street-racing ban with disputed car-taking provision BY BOB PEPALIS The city has joined Atlanta, Brookhaven and other municipalities in beefing up penalties on street racing. The ordinance includes a car-impounding provision that Atlanta officials have acknowledged conflicts with state law and that legislation would be required to legalize. Mirroring an ordinance approved by the Atlanta City Council last year, the new Sandy Springs law imposes state-maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine and jail time of up to six months for drivers, organizers and other street racing participants who are convicted in municipal court. And like the Atlanta ordinance, the Sandy Springs law calls for the impounding of street-racing vehicles for up to 30 days. But Atlanta city attorneys told their City Council at the time that the maximum period allowed by state law is always less than 30 days and cannot legally continue through the court process. Impounding can only be done for immediate safety reasons, such as the arrest of the driver, and the vehicle can be picked up at any time by any legally authorized driver, the attorneys said. Atlanta councilmembers

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quietly added a qualification to the impounding clause saying it could be up to the maximum under state law, essentially retaining the appearance of a threat when in fact the penalty cannot be imposed. Atlanta officials later acknowledged that the 30-day impounding is not legal and began efforts to legalize it through state legislation. The Atlanta ordinance caused widespread confusion, including among po-

“We had over 100 vehicles doing donuts and laying drags within the parking lot.” Sgt. Salvador Ortega Sandy Springs Police

lice officials. Sandy Springs is having the same issue. Sandy Springs Police Chief Ken DeSimone said at the Feb. 16 council meeting where the local ordinance was approved that a key purpose was to impound vehicles as a deterrent. Asked later why Sandy Springs adopted language that Atlanta acknowledged is in conflict with state law, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun referred to existing laws that allow for property like cars to be confiscated as evidence of a crime. But confiscation of evidence is a different legal subject than impounding and relates to investigation, not punishment. Brookhaven also copied Atlanta’s ordinance last year with the same impounding provision. At least two bills under consideration in the Georgia General Assembly would allow for the special impounding or seizure of the vehicles of people accused in street racing. Gov. Brain Kemp introduced HB 534 in the House of Representatives with

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sponsoring legislators on Feb. 18. The bill stiffens penalties for street racing, making a third offense a felony. A third offense also would lead to forfeiture of the vehicle used for street racing. Metro Atlanta has experienced increased instances of illegal street racing, usually at night. Sandy Springs hasn’t matched that level of street racing, but it has increased in the city. DeSimone said the city has only had three street racing cases, but they want to get ahead of the problem. He said one large incident happened Jan. 22 at Whole Foods at 5930 Roswell Road.

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“We had over 100 vehicles doing donuts and laying drags within the parking lot,” said Sgt. Salvador Ortega, Sandy Springs Police Department spokesperson. As officers arrived all the vehicles fled. A few arrests were made and some vehicles were impounded.

SS


Arts & Entertainment | 7

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Events You Don’t Want to Miss in March The City Springs Theatre Company will present the musical “Let’s Hang On,” described as a “celebration of the meteoric rise of female voices out from the shadows of the male pop and doo-wop groups of the 1960s that dominated the industry.” It will stream on-demand March 19-28. cityspringstheatre.com

The Buckhead Heritage Society will have author Jonah McDonald talking about his book “More Secrets of Atlanta” on March 4 at 7 p.m. via Zoom, as part of its Speaker Series. It’s a free event. buckheadheritage.com

The Atlanta Science Festival will run March 13-27, 2021 with more than 80 virtual, selfguided, and outdoor events for children and adults. Topics include environmental science, climate, healthcare, and COVID-19, with hands-on experiments, scavenger hunts, self-guided “discovery walks,” an exploration of local organisms, and other interactive adventures. View the full lineup at 2021.atlantasciencefestival.org

The Dunwoody Nature Center is offering adult classes on health, wellness, and nature. The spring series of OWLS (Outdoor Wiser Lifelong Studies) takes place on Fridays in March and on April 2. Health screenings and temperature checks will be conducted upon arrival for each class, and social distancing and masks will be required for all participants. 5343 Roberts Drive. dunwoodynature.org The Daffodil Dash is being held virtually this year. Proceeds from the annual fundraiser benefit Am Yisrael Chai, an organization in Sandy Springs created in remembrance of 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust. Additionally, funds will help plant 1.5 million daffodils worldwide in their honor. March 19 to April 18. amyisraelchaiatlanta.org

Georgia Audubon has organized a series of webinars for bird lovers during the month of March, covering subjects such as raptor identification, birding by ear, and equity in birding. Audubon is also hosting virtual field trips on March 12 and 26 with staff exploring their yards or “nearby birdy patches” to discuss what they’re seeing. All dates, details, and prices are at georgiaaudubon.org

▲The Atlanta History Center is hosting the finals of the Georgia Poetry Out Loud competition on March 13 starting at 1 p.m. Finalists then get to compete in a national event in Washington DC. atlantahistorycenter.com

►The Latin American Association is holding its sixth annual Latina Empowerment Conference as a virtual event on March 31, featuring motivational speakers, business workshops and educational resources. Thelaa.org

◄The Oglethorpe University Museum of Art will show the work of Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo in the online presentation “Textures Of Our Lives” on March 14 at 5 p.m. The OUMA website says Tamayo “found inspiration for his work in a traditional vision of Mexico and his own Zapotec heritage.” museum.oglethorpe.edu


8 | Food & Drink

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Food for Thought Cuban sandwiches find a home in Sandy Springs BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Ozzy Llanes was born in Cuba in 1982 and came to the States in 1995, at the age of 13. Living in Miami first, he moved to Atlanta in 2010 with his parents and his wife Susan Dykstra, who is the CEO of Van Michael Salon. In August 2020 they opened Cubanos ATL, a to-go Cuban sandwich shop in Sandy Springs that was an instant success. Like many such restaurants in Cuba and Miami, Cubanos ATL operates from a custom-designed, house-like building with a window for customers, set up in the parking lot of a shopping center at 6450 Roswell Road . Llanes’s focus on ingredients includes buying bread from Florida’s La Segunda Central Bakery, in operation since 1915. For more information, see cubanosatl.com. Cubanos ATL is in a house that you built yourself, right? We just had this little house we were serving out of, with its own kitchen, but we’ve been going so fast that we had to get another, bigger kitchen. It’s almost two miles north on Roswell Road. My office is there. We had no choice but to open a bigger kitchen area because now we’re doing 150 to 200 sandwiches a day. How’s it been so far? It’s been incredible, since day one. We have the best neighbors in the best community in the world. The first day we opened was a Saturday which was a huge mistake. People were just ready to go. The first 40 minutes we sold 225 sandwiches. We were completely sold out, and from there it’s just been steady, so from that aspect it’s been really cool. You’ve partnered with the oldest Cuban bakery in the counSPECIAL try. Ozzy Llanes, co-owner of Cubanos ATL. Yes. The bread is so important for the Cuban sandwich. We have three sandwiches on the menu and just to keep it consistent and fresh for each is hard. We make everything in one spot so I can control who is making the sandwiches on a daily basis. There’s no playing around with those things. If we need 300 sandwiches or a thousand we can figure it out, but we can make those a thousand times the same way, every day. We have the platform now, so we can do that. You’ll be adding other items to the menu? Sandwiches are our number one thing. We don’t want to do rice yet, which people ask for, or croquetas or pastelitos… It’s important for me that we don’t drop the ball with what we have now. Have you ever tried the Cuban steak sandwich, the palomilla? You put shoestring fries with it. It’s one of my favorite sandwiches but we would need to have a hood to be able to sear the steak, so we’ll do that when we’re ready. I don’t want to push it. Those are things we want to add in the future. You have a flan on the menu -- the Llanes Family Caramel Flan. It’s the same way both my mom and my grandmother used to make it in Cuba. Flan is a weird dessert in that you can make it so many different ways. Adding half an egg changes the whole the whole way [it comes out]. There is no wrong way, which is awesome. It’s just the consistency. I had one the other day -- it was Mexican-style flan and I couldn’t finish it. The taste was unbelievably good but it was all soft and that just freaks me out. What about your coffee? It’s authentic Cuban coffee. A lot of people are doing cortaditos but using the wrong


Food & Drink | 9

MARCH 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

coffee. They use Italian-style coffee beans, and it’s not going to taste the same. I don’t care if you make it exactly the same way, it doesn’t have the same feel. We’re definitely doing pretty good with the coffee. Do you get Cubans coming in? Yes, we’ve got a pretty large Cuban community. They tend to come more on the weekends. My everyday clientele is from this area -- a mix of everybody. We’ve been going really fast but everything is working out. What music are you currently playing in your kitchen? “Buena Vista Social Club.” Cuban artists from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s reunited in 1999 and did a world tour. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend watching the documentary.

MARCH

And here’s another example of my roots: “Hubo Un Lugar” (“There Was A Place”) by Diego El Cigala and Bebo Valdez. As you know, most Cuban people are a mix of Spanish and African heritage. The pianist is Valdez, one of the top Cuban pianists in the world. The singer, Diego El Cigala, is from Spain. They did a documentary called “Lagrimas Negras” (“Black Tears”). It’s one of my favorites as well. I feel they really express the Cuban passion and flavor though this collaboration.

Quick Bites | Restaurant openings and news The Red Phone Booth and Amalfi Pizza will be coming to 3242 Peachtree Road in Buckhead in the spring as a dual concept location, according to Stephen de Haan, co-owner of both places. With a 1920s speakeasy vibe, The Red Phone Booth features a walk-in humidor and a private event space known as the Mafia Kitchen. “Guests will be amazed at the great lengths we have taken for air quality and purification so they can enjoy our awardwinning craft cocktail and cigar experience,” De Haan said in a statement. Amalfi Pizza is a traditional Neapolitan pizzeria plus a retail market selling “fresh mozzarella, pasta, single serve dishes, Italian wines, aged meats and other imported items.” redphonebooth.com and amalfipizzaatl.com ►Scoville Hot Chicken joins the chicken sandwich race with a new location at 4969 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, following their opening in Athens, Ga. The eatery is named after

an early 20th century scientist, Wilbur Scoville, who devised a system for measuring the relative heat of chili peppers. scovillechicken.com Toast On Lenox has opened its doors in the space that previously housed Adobo Tacos & Tapas in Buckhead’s Lenox Village at 2770 Lenox Road. Virgil Harper, the chef behind Roc South Cuisine and Cocktail, is in charge of the new breakfast and lunch spot. toastonlenoxatl.com

The Betty opened on Feb. 10 as part of the new Kimpton Sylvan Hotel at 374 East Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead. The menu is described on its website as “American cuisine with a continental flair,” and the ambience “channels old Hollywood glamour.” The chef is Brandon Chavannes, whose career includes stints at Bar Boulud and the Russian Tea Room in New York, and Ford Fry’s St. CeA sandwich from Scoville Hot Chicken, cilia in Atlanta. thewhich opened a Sandy Springs location. bettyatl.com

A shrimp dish at The Betty, a restaurant in Buckhead’s new Kimpton Sylvan Hotel.

Snooze, a Denver-based breakfast chain, made its Georgia debut on Feb. 17 in Sandy Springs at 4600 Roswell Road. “We’re serving up a twist on breakfast by starting with responsibly sourced ingredients and bringing them together in unexpected ways,” the owners explained on their website. “We want everything that goes into our breakfast to have a positive impact on people and the planet.” snoozeeatery.com

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10 | Arts & Entertainment

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From Buckhead Shaman to ‘Roswell Road,’ local towns show up in Bandcamp’s DIY tunes BY ERIC DAVIDSON

During the COVID crisis especially, Bandcamp’s “Free Fridays” -- where the company waives its cut and bands often offer all sales to a particular cause -- have come across as a kind of digital benefit concert where much of the monies raised come from fans of the band’s hometown. So here are some Bandcamp discoveries who were directly -- or misdirectly -- inspired by local towns.

The borderless terrain of the internet has decimated lots of the ol’ charming regionalism of American pop music. The days of the Standells having a local Boston hit with “Dirty Water” before it became a national smash, or Prince dropping details about Minneapolis, are seemingly long gone. If your implied audience lives everywhere, you may be inclined to leave geography out. Who wants to write a song called “The Devil Went Down to Domain Name?” But that doesn’t mean artists have completely given up on highlighting their home base sometimes. We scoured the music site Bandcamp for songs and albums whose titles refer to local north metro towns. Then we checked with the artists about their motivations for writing a nod to someplace listeners way out in digital space may never visit. Bandcamp itself, in its own unique way, has been able to retain some of the regional flavor of the old townie musical habits. Unlike the somewhat faceless interface of Soundcloud, or the ubiquitous (and perceived shady) corporate enormity of Spotify, the clunky-fun homepages that artists create on Bandcamp often have the vibe of old album liner notes, with sidebar highlights of where they’re from, contact links, thank-yous to other local bands, and generally are chock-a-block with personal and recording info.

about my life at that time. I was in high school then. Roswell Road is a long road that passes through Sandy Springs.” ‘Buckhead Heist’ | Ian Deaton Atlanta (2013) A fizzy, techno-rock, DeLorean race of an instrumental that might’ve been floating out of one of Buckhead’s malls in 1987. “I’ve lived in Atlanta on and off since 1997, and I love crime cinema and fiction. I wrote the song ‘Buckhead Heist’ as part of a fake crime film soundtrack called ‘Atlanta Crime Wave,’” says Deaton. “I was dreaming a lot about a nonexistent 1980s action film set in Atlanta, so I wrote an album’s worth of Herbie Hancock/Harold Faltermeyer synthesizer music. ‘Buckhead Heist’ would be the scene in the film where a group of thieves steal a haul of diamonds from a high-end Buckhead jeweler and escape by helicopter.”

‘Sandy Springs’ | Al Carmichael Detroit, Michigan (2016) This nice, slide-guitarled stroll musically demonstrates this acoustic strummer’s pre-Rust Belt existence in Georgia, as his drawl and mood sure don’t feel like the Motor City. Indeed, Carmichael was a member of Radar, a band of Atlanta’s 1960s and ’70 progressive rock scene. “’Sandy Springs’ was part of my CD called ‘Roswell Road,’” said Carmichael. “The entire record is about my formative years living in Georgia. Sandy Springs was my hometown. This song was inspired by revisiting Sandy Springs and reminiscing

‘Dunwoody’ | The Well Wishers San Francisco, California (2013) This singer-songwriter, Jeff Shelton, unknowingly named a whole EP after the local town. And while he admits on his page that he has “since discovered” the existence of Dunwoody, Georgia, he somehow gathered enough of an impression to “chronicle the imaginary lives of those trapped in Southeastern suburban bliss,” via his lilting, Big Star-like jangle rock.

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‘Buckhead Betty’ | The Coathangers Atlanta (2007) A dainty, handclapped singalong respite from the Atlanta punk stalwarts’ otherwise itchy art-punk on their debut album. “‘Buckhead Betty’ was on our first LP, where we held no opinions back,” says Coathangers drummer/singer Stephanie Luke. “A Buckhead Betty was/is a term that refers to privileged women in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Think ‘Real Housewives’-meets-Karens of the world. The type of woman who judges others ‘below’ them in status, yet are themselves miserable, pill-popping ladies.” ‘Buckhead Georgia’ | Cecil Null War, West Virginia (1963 ) We’d ask Mr. Null -- a one-time writer of country hits like “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know” -why he chose to write a tune about Buckhead, but he passed away in 2001. It’s a good bet he knew that part of town was way different and closer to the rural autoharp amble of Null’s minor fame than the upwardly mobile locale it is today. Then again, it could be named for the rival city of Buckhead in Morgan County. ‘SandySprings GA”’ | Silverfoxx ETO Atlanta (2016) The airy, electro drone of this tune sounds more like background for the image of the spaceship floating at the top of his Bandcamp page than anything that might honk or lawnmower its way through Sandy Springs. ‘Poor People’ | Buckhead Shaman Atlanta (2020) To catch up with this locally named mystery figure, we checked out “Poor People,” a slightly trippy, angelic electroyearner with a breezy gleam that matches the sheen of his artistic nomenclature, if not the song title. Mr. Shaman turned out to be a musician named Tyler Hobbs. “Buckhead Shaman was originally an online persona delivering facetious health, wellness and spiritual guidance,” said Hobbs. “I started making music, and realized it matched well with the shaman character. It started as very tonguein-cheek -- poking fun at Buckhead’s consumerism and pseudo-spiritual residents obsessed with their health. Buckhead Shaman is a total brand whore with a heart -- a beacon of healing -- repping a part of town believed to be a cut above the rest.” — John Ruch contributed


MARCH 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Community | 11

Charter commission may consider some big changes – and do it privately BY BOB PEPALIS The city’s new Charter Review Commission may consider suggesting big changes to Sandy Springs government, such as allowing a tax hike. But chairperson Gabriel Sterling – better known as a Trump-denouncing Georgia election official – said commission members may discuss those topics privately by using a tactic controversial among open-government advocates. The 10 members of the commission, which held its first meeting Feb. 4, were appointed by Mayor Rusty Paul, the City Council and each member of the Georgia House and Senate who represent the city in the General Assembly. The commission is tasked with reviewing the city’s charter and making any suggestions for changes to the legislators in a report due in mid-July. The Georgia Municipal Association says a city charter establishes its government structure and defines boundaries, specific powers, functions, essential procedures and legal control. It may grant a city the authority to impose, regulate, tax or grant other powers. Sterling was elected chairperson in a 6-4 vote, with Tochie Blad chosen as vice chair after falling short of votes for the top position. Blad suggested revisiting the millage rate cap might be something they consider. She said it was one of the issues the first charter review commission formed in 2011 considered, but did not recommend. The millage rate is the tax rate property owners are charged on their property’s assessed value. The city’s charter states that the tax rate “shall not exceed 4.731 unless a higher limit is recommended by resolution of the city council and approved by the qualified voters of the city of Sandy Springs.” “I think one of the most controversial things and reflecting on the minutes from 2011 was that they considered removing or lifting the millage rate cap,” Blad said. “And I imagine now that we’re a more mature city, that might be something that this body if we hear from the citizens that want to see that might consider.” Sterling last year oversaw the presidential election process for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and drew international attention for condemning conspiracy theories and denouncing President Trump for stoking political violence. Sterling now serves as the chief operating officer and interim director of the Professional Licensing Board Division under Raffensperger. He also served as Sandy Springs’ District 4 city councilmember from 2011 to 2018.

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The charter commission will meet at least once a month. Sterling plans for subcommittees to research areas of the charter that the entire group wants to review in depth. The subcommittees would report findings back to the full commission. Sterling proposed that, for certain discussions, committee members could meet in small groups or individually with him to “avoid a quorum” and thus not have to hold a public hearing. “There’s nothing saying we couldn’t have five in this meeting at a time to hear from him potentially, or something like that, to avoid a quorum,” Sterling said in response to a suggestion about gaining information from former state Rep. Wendell Willard, who drafted the original charter. Sterling also told commission members that he intended to “call each of you all individually to kind of hear what you think and what you would like to see as how the process goes. I’m sure there’s many ways we can try to get to as much of what y’all want to see done, done in a way that remains transparent and gets the information you need.” A quorum is a voting majority of a government body. Under the Georgia Open Meetings Act, any gathering of a government body’s quorum must be open to the public. In an interview after the meeting, Sterling said he was not aware the commission is subject to the Open Meetings Act and that the group will follow that law. But, he said, the commission may still have those private discussions, which are legal but controversial under the act. “I was spitballing at the time because that didn’t occur to me the subcommittees would have to do that, because I worked in the legislature before. They don’t necessarily have to do that,” Sterling said. The General Assembly has exempted itself from the Open Meetings Act. “When we make decisions or have presentations of actual information and stuff like that to the public to see that can benefit them and help them understand the process, then that makes perfect sense,” Sterling said about which commission meetings would be public. Jim Zachary, head of the Transparency First Foundation of Georgia, said a problem arises from the quorum language in the Open Meetings Act. Members of a public body can meet privately if they don’t have a quorum, which is the minimum number required to conduct business. The Sandy Springs City Council is known to regularly hold meetings of less than a quorum of members to privately discuss agenda items prior to a public vote. Zachary has long criticized the quorum language in the Open Meetings Act as a loophole that allows government bodies to deliberate in private and allowing the public to see only the end result. Some other states, such as Tennessee, require non-quorum gatherings of government bodies to be public as well.


12 | Education

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Fulton County Schools to create three-year plan to recover pandemic learning loss BY BOB PEPALIS The Fulton County School System plans to spend the next three years helping students whose education progress suffered due to the pandemic by putting them in highly focused small group learning sessions and other methods still being planned -- possibly including summer school, weekend classes or extended school days. Some students fell as much as 2.5 months behind expected progress in math and reading when they were put into virtual classes a year ago. A steering committee and its cross-functional work teams are developing the plan so it can be presented to the school board at its April 22 meeting, Ryan Moore, the school district’s executive director of strategic planning, told the Fulton County Board of Education during its Feb. 18 meeting. That presentation will include budgets, deliverables and ways to measure success. The teams consist of a zone superintendent, one principal and a team of teaching practitioners. Many of the teams also include a non-academic staff member. Ideas such as extending summer school, adding weekend instruction for students whose learning was impacted and even extending the school day are being studied. No suggestions or decisions have been made yet. “Those are the types of questions we will be able to answer in detail once the work teams submit their plans in April,” FCS spokesperson Shumuriel Ratliff said in an email. To develop the strategy the work teams will strategize on separate parts of the remedial plan, including how learning can be advanced more through summer school, the plan to create small groups to tutor students to bring them up to current learning levels and how parents will be engaged. Each team will outline the tasks, deliverables, resources needed and monitoring to ensure the plan works when the projects are brought to the school board on April 22, spokesperson Brian Noyes said. “In March of 2020, we transitioned the entire district to Universal Remote Learning,” Ryan Moore, the school district’s executive director of strategic planning, told the Fulton County Board of Education during its Feb. 18 meeting. He shared data about the learning impact from January to August 2020 using benchmark data collected on grades 4 through 8, the only grade levels that had diagnostic assessments in that time period. “This is really measuring the impact of student learning during that first period of shutdown when we were in Universal Remote learning,” he said. At the district-wide level, FCS students did better than the national average with less than one month of learning loss, he said. For reading, the loss ranged from a half-month to two-and-a-half months of learning loss. The learning loss was greater for students who are eligible for free and reducedprice lunches. In grade 6, they showed almost 50% more loss than their peers. “Our Hispanic and Latino students had some of the greatest losses across the district, with up to two months in math on the average and up to 3.7 months in reading,” Moore said. English learning students also showed losses in reading and math. Results also showed a gap in learning between female and male students. “You can see in grades 7 and 8 almost three times the amount of loss in math for our male students than our female students,” Moore said, with the disparities increasing in later grades. Moore said the students were progressing, but just not as fast as expected pre-pandemic. The numbers could be worse than shown in the tests, as the school district saw disparities with some grades for students who took the diagnostic assessment test at home. Moore said that could mean they were getting help from their parents. Students with disabilities fared better than almost any other demographic group, he said. FCS is trying to uncover what about universal remote learning worked for some of those students. The data collection continues with the help of Georgia State University to determine the difference in learning for remote vs. face-to-face instruction during this academic year. “Moving forward is less of a question about what we need to add and more of a question about what we need to continue and go deeper with,” Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones told the school board. “This is not a short-term proposition.” SS


Education | 13

MARCH 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net Decisions haven’t been made, but Jones’ comments suggested fatigue is a problem if the school day is made longer. Research shows the most effective group size is one-on-one or one-on-three tutoring. These very small groups would meet three times a week for 50 hours per semester, Jones said. “The research also says that small group learning conducted during the school hours is more effective than after school,” which recognizes the fatigue students and teachers feel from a school day, Jones said. “And using teachers and paraprofessionals is more effective than using volunteers or parents.” The chosen strategies need a proper assessment to make sure this targeted instruction meets the specific learning needs of the students, he said. And parents need to get regular progress reports comparing accomplishments to national norms. “Our parents do not know what to expect moving forward. There’s a question mark that we have to answer with them for them,” Jones said. To define the focus and p rovide consistent communication, FCS will have to reach out to parents in multiple languages. The school district needs to listen to parents’ worries and fears about the changes and answer them.

“Our Hispanic and Latino students had some of the greatest losses across the district, with up to two months in math on the average and up to 3.7 months in reading.” Ryan Moore Executive Director of Strategic Planning

Overlaying the facets of this plan will be a consistent focus on standards and best practices, Jones said. School board member Gyimah Whitaker asked if FCS had other ways to identify students who need additional support because some students do not take the assessments. Jones said staff have been reaching out through social workers and counselors to help. Engagement is another indicator. “If you’re not engaged, we’re assuming there’s learning loss,” he said. “I can’t tell you how much because you haven’t taken the test, as you pointed out, but I know because you haven’t been engaged. There is going to be learning loss there.” FCS will receive more money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Superintendent Mike Looney said the district intends to spend most of the money on the remedial education. School board member Gail Dean said they need to make sure FCS is able to provide the instruction in all schools. “If it’s necessary, if we have to use portable classrooms, I don’t want any schools to not get what students need because of a lack of space,” she said.

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14 | Community

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Fulton County failed to properly notify voters in 2016 Sandy Springs election, board says BY BOB PEPALIS

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After more than four years of investigating, the State Election Board ruled Feb. 10 on a 2016 Sandy Springs election complaint, saying Fulton County failed to properly notify city voters of a polling place change. The board sent the case to the Attorney General’s office for possible legal action. Shawn Conroy, a spokesperson for the AG’s office, said it is unable to comment on active matters. He said when a file is referred the office conducts its own legal review to determine the most appropriate course of action. Conroy cited state law that says the attorney general can seek relief through an injunction, a temporary restraining order or civil penalties against any violator of election laws in Fulton County Superior Court. An order of compliance or to cease and desist from further violations could be issued by the court. If judgment is in favor of the State Election Board, the defendant would pay costs including attorneys’ fees. The May 2016 special election for Sandy Springs’ District 3 City Council seat was marred by Fulton County’s failure to send out polling place notification cards, said Frances Watson, chief investigator for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. The city ran its own election in a separate polling place the same day as a county-run state primary election. The city acknowledged running its own election with a single, separate polling

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place was confusing to voters. The council decided to move ahead with a special election on the same day as the state primary to fill a council seat vacated with the resignation of Graham McDonald in March 2016. But that didn’t leave enough time to meet the required 90-day notice to have the county run its election. Councilmember Chris Burnett won the District 3 election in a runoff election in June 2016. The city sent notification to Fulton County in accordance with state law about the polling place, Watson said. The Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections is charged with notifying voters of polling place changes. Watson said a Fulton County elections officer reported that a clerical error set the date as 2017, so the notifications were never sent. The investigation began with a complaint filed May 20, 2016, by the Secretary of State’s office itself, according to a case report provided by the office. By 2019 the case still hadn’t been scheduled before the State Election Board. The case was put on two meeting agendas in 2020 but was deferred both times until being heard on Feb. 10. The Elections Board could have dismissed the case or issued a letter of instruction for Fulton County. A civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation also could have been issued. The board chose to refer it to the Attorney General’s office. It is common for State Election Board investigations to last years, as happened in the Sandy Springs case, a process that has drawn criticism as taking too long. State Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-DeKalb County), who is also an elections lawyer, previously said it was “insane” that cases like the one in Sandy Springs take years and that the General Assembly might need to consider legislative changes. SS


Community | 15

MARCH 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Next question for Hammond Drive widening: Who pays? Continued from page 1 know, you’ve got a fair amount of property,” said Bob Lepping, a former president of the Glenridge Hammond Neighborhood Association. He hopes it doesn’t become a zoning or building issue if widening plans fall through. “We still want to keep this neighborhood as it is, keep the integrity, keep the character of it,” he said. “The last thing we need is high rise, condos and things like that. So I’m hoping the city continues through the project.” The project envisions widening Hammond from Barfield Road to Roswell Road and includes roundabouts and pedestrian and bike paths. It has been controversial since the idea was first proposed. The city bought 26 properties for right of way needs. The city paid to tear down 11 of the houses that were considered unfit for habitation. Ben Hendry, an educator and a Glenridge Hammond Neighborhood Association board member, isn’t sure if a second TSPLOST will pass. The last one passed in November 2016 with 52.7% of the vote, according to Fulton County election records. Hendry he said would help is knowing how much each person could expect to pay in the transportation sales tax. “And it’d be it’d be nice if they could have Mount Vernon Highway and Johnson Ferry underway so we can get an idea of what the situation will be like when Hammond has also changed which will require more construction,” Hendry said. When voters approved the first TSPLOST five years ago, it only included enough money for design and the land purchases, with nothing for the construction of what essentially will be a completely new road. And at its Jan. 29 meeting, City Council transferred $1.9 million of the $16 million budgeted from the Hammond Drive project to the Johnson Ferry Road at Mount Vernon Highway project near City Springs. Both projects were included in the voter approved TSPLOST. Mayor Rusty Paul said when the City Council was considering the fund transfer that spending TSPLOST money on buying up right of way reserved the option of continuing the project. Fulton County’ mayors are meeting regularly with the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to plan a proposed “TSPLOST 2” in which the city expects to include some funding for the Hammond Drive project. The city expects total revenue from the TSPLOST set to expire in April 2022 to reach $92.5 million, less than the more optimistic $123.8 million suggested when it was first proposed. Projects proposed for the county-wide TSPLOST 2 will be developed by individual cities by May, with an intergovernmental agreement between them and Fulton County due in August. That deadline must be met to enable getting the TPSLOST referendum on the November general election ballot. Lepping thinks how city residents receive the proposal to extend the transpor-

The proposed redesign of Hammond Drive as shown in a 2020 city plan.

tation sales tax will be a mixed bag. “Those that are opposing it, today will still feel the same way,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll ever change that mindset.” But he thinks enough city voters will vote for it so it can pass. Rebekah Barr, the association’s president, said she just took over the position in January and doesn’t know the neighborhood’s mood yet. She said she hasn’t been involved in the Hammond Drive project discussion to make a comment. Even with a second TSPLOST, the $60 million price tag for construction that Public Works Director said it could reach is a funding problem that a second TSPLOST

alone could not solve. Paul said the city won’t be able to build Hammond with just TSPLOST and may need to use those revenues from TSPLOST 2 to match other sources of funding. Lepping hopes the Hammond Drive project will continue. “It will ease some of the congestion that we experience,” he said. Residents in the neighborhoods along Hammond aren’t convinced widening the road will reduce cut-through traffic. But he thinks any improvements will make things better. Hendry agrees Hammond Drive needs improvements.

“I don’t know anyone who’s anyone who says Hammond shouldn’t be changed it’s all a question of to what degree. Some people say just add sidewalks but some people say the new plan is perfect,” he said. Realigning the intersection of Boylston Drive and Hammond will help traffic, he said. What continuing effects the pandemic might have on traffic also remain uncertain. He said construction on the Hammond Drive project will take five to eight years. “I just don’t have a crystal ball that would suggest that in one way or the other it’s going to be more or less traffic,” he said.

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Commentary / Less traffic, more green space: Lessons from a pandemic year What a year! Everything got turned on its ear, to be sure, but That’s where we all need to shift our attention at this point. the creativity that has come out of life in a pandemic has been Employers need to plan their return to the office in a way that inspiring. Livable Buckhead has embodied that creativity since locks in the benefits of telework while minimizing its drawMarch 2020, stepping up to support employer partners as they backs. Workers have saved thousands of dollars, not to mention scrambled to set up telework programs, moving our in-person hundreds of hours, by teleworking during the past year. They’ve walk challenge events to a virtual format, and making countalso remained productive despite multi-tasking as full-time emless other adjustments throughout the year to match the needs ployees and part-time virtual school instructors. In fact, one reof the moment. Two of our major program areas -- green space cent report from the online survey company Typeform showed and alternative commute options -- became more relevant to life that 81% of workers report being at least as productive at home in Buckhead than they had ever been. as they were in the office. How much time have you spent outdoors during the past On the flip side, employers have struggled with effectively year? I can honestly say that I enjoyed more onboarding new employees and maintaining hours outside in 2020 than in any previous year company culture, while employees have had of my adult life, and anecdotal evidence indidifficulty staying energized amid days filled cates that is true for many of us. In Buckhead, with Zoom meetings. we saw noticeable increases in the number of So how can we maximize the positives and people on PATH400, even on a section of the minimize the negatives? Be strategic. After a trail that wasn’t quite complete. In a pandemyear of working remotely, it is apparent which ic, there’s nothing more inviting than a beautiportions of a job can be done from home and ful new trail at your back door. which are better accomplished in person. LikeAcross the city, public parks and trails have wise, some employees may have demonstratbeen more than just venues for outdoor exered they are better suited for work in the office cise or relaxation. They have become our places while others have thrived from home. Employto safely meet friends, to maintain some sense ers should use that data to structure a program of a normal social life, and to reconnect to nathat meets everyone’s needs. ture. They’ve been especially important in AtWe surveyed Buckhead residents and comlanta’s more commercial areas where public muters to find out how often they would like parks are the only readily accessible option for to telework after the pandemic. Over half of Denise Starling is executive director of Livable Buckhead, a getting outdoors. The city is poised to build on the respondents said they want to telework bethe newfound enthusiasm for parks through its nonprofit organization focused on tween one and four days each week, and 22% sustainability efforts, including ActivateATL master planning effort, and I hope want to be remote full-time. In the “new norparks and trails, alternative that the people who have gained new apprecimal,” companies would be smart to structure commuting, long-range planning efforts and community events. ation for parks and trails will continue to suptheir workplaces for in-person communicaport them in the future. tion and culture-building complemented by Just as parks and trails were our lifelines regular teleworking. to sanity during the pandemic, effective teleworking strategies One last bit of advice: use the “broken habit” of driving alone were the key to keeping business running in a work-from-home as an opportunity to create new commute patterns. The panworld. I’ve been part of a region-wide effort to encourage teledemic has made it easy to see the traffic impact of having a sigworking for almost 20 years, and even I was surprised by some nificant reduction in the number of cars on local roads. We of the benefits and challenges of working from home full-time should all aim to keep as much of that reduction in place as posfor an extended period. sible, while recognizing that a return to “normal” requires opThe Livable Buckhead staff has learned a lot from our pantions beyond teleworking. Livable Buckhead is working with demic work experiences and from the ways our employer partemployers on flexible workplace strategies that integrate multiners have adapted to remote work. The companies that investple options -- telework, transit, carpooling -- and incentives to reed years ago in technological and human resources to support duce the number of people who drive alone to work. a distributed workforce continued operations with very little Wouldn’t it be great if one of the lasting impacts of the pandisruption. Others stumbled a bit at the outset, but have since demic -- in addition to better hand hygiene -- was far fewer cars found their footing and are now looking ahead to what comes on the roads? Let’s make it happen. next.

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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@ reporternewspapers.net

As Abe Schear tells it, his introduction to major league baseball bears the classic marks of a 1950s boyhood. Schear grew up in a small Ohio city and cheered the Cincinnati Reds. He collected baseball and put extra cards into the spokes of his bike wheels to create that special rattle and roar as he rolled along. He read about baseball every day in his hometown newspapers and stayed up at night listening to games on a transistor radio he’d snuck into bed. “I was listening to games when I was supposed to be asleep, with the radio under my pillow,” Schear recalled recently. “Baseball took me to faraway cities. Baseball was my view into the rest of the world when I was a little boy.” Schear, now 69, is a real estate lawyer with the Atlanta firm of Arnall Golden Gregory. After graduating from Emory University and its law school, he stayed in Atlanta, where he discovered, and got interested in, a new and different kind of baseball story. For the past two decades, he’s recorded Atlanta’s baseball history through a series of one-on-one interviews with players, politicians, league officials and fans. He circulates them in a newsletter called “Baseball Digest.” During many of the years Schear was listening to ball games on that radio beneath his pillow, Atlanta was a minor-league town. The Atlanta Crackers (and the Black Crackers) played at Ponce de Leon Stadium, a romantic old ballpark across from the huge Sears, Roebuck & Co. building (now Ponce City Market). Freight trains rolled past (on tracks where people now stroll the BeltLine). A magnolia tree grew in the outfield. (Although the park is gone, the tree’s still there.) Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, Atlanta, like a base-stealer headed to second, kicked it into a higher gear and raced to become a new kind of city. Atlanta didn’t just get bigger, it got better known and became a place people wanted to be. Sports played a big part in Atlanta’s new image. In the middle 1960s, the football Falcons and basketball Hawks set up shop in Atlanta. The Braves moved to town (after years in Boston and Milwaukee) and in 1966 played their first game in a new stadium that the city’s promoters had dreamed up to lure a team. Abe Schear, the author of the Things didn’t end there. In “Baseball Digest” newsletter. 1970, Mohammad Ali made his comeback in Atlanta after years of boxing exile. The Braves showcased Henry Aaron, one of the greatest players of all time and who, in 1974, would break Babe Ruth’s homerun record during a game in Atlanta. In the years since, Atlanta has hosted Super Bowls, the World Series, Major League Baseball’s and the NBA’s all-star games, and the NCAA’s Final Four. In 1996, the Olympics raised its flag over the town. Atlanta’s evolution into a big city wasn’t an accident. As Schear and others have written, the city’s changes followed a plan conjured by local boosters who sought to raise the city’s business profile internationally. Sports played a big part. Those early boosters wanted to lure major league teams to Atlanta so their city’s name would appear every day in the sports sections of other cities’ newspapers. Schear thought it would make an interesting project to learn about and record Atlanta’s baseball history. “I knew that my friends would much rather read about baseball than about real estate leasing,” he wrote recently in what he says may be among his last articles. Over two decades, he interviewed about 80 local community and baseball leaders. He shared his Q-and-A’s with friends and law partners and self-published a book containing about 30 pieces called “I Remember When: A Collection of Memories from Baseball’s Biggest Fans.” Some articles are posted on law firm webpage at agg. com/professionals/abe-schear. His subjects ranged from Atlanta business and poSS

A baseball fan’s newsletter recalls how Atlanta became a major league city litical leaders such as Jimmy Carter, John Lewis, Judge Griffin Bell and Herman Russell, to great ballplayers such as Phil Niekro and Tom Glavine. “The story of baseball in Atlanta is told by so many people. You come up with so many answers,” Schear said. “I’ll never forget that when I asked President Carter what was the best thing about going to see the Crackers, he said the best thing was going to Sears after the game to buy something. In Plains, you could only get stuff in the mail.” Big-league baseball is set to return April 1. Last season, of course, we fans were stuck at home because of the pandemic and watched and listened from our couches as our major league teams took us to faraway cities. And we bought stuff online that was delivered to our doorsteps. Perhaps, unlike Atlanta, some things really haven’t changed all that much.

“I was listening to games when I was supposed to be asleep, with the radio under my pillow. Baseball took me to faraway cities. Baseball was my view into the rest of the world when I was a little boy.” Abe Schear University of Georgia


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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 worthknowingnow@gmail.com.

Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the DunwoodySandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at worthknowingnow@gmail.com.

The storefront of the THRIFTique thrift store on Miami Circle.

With Atlanta unemployment at a historically low 2.8 percent, 1 out of 5 residents in 2019 still lived below the federal poverty line of $26,172 annual income for a four-person household, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Even with at least one adult employed full-time, these families struggled to cover rent, food, utilities and other basic expenses. Then came COVID-19. On March 13, 2020, the economy shut down. Families already struggling were clobbered. And even as the economy showed signs of recovery at the end of 2020, those living in poverty remained in crisis. But they were not abandoned, thanks to a number of concerned nonprofits. One of them was Buckhead Christian Ministry, whose mission is to “keep people from becoming homeless and work to elevate their possibilities for economic empowerment.” “These families were already stressed out before the pandemic, working for wages insufficient to meet their expenses,” said BCM President and CEO Keeva Kase. “The pandemic complicated every-

How shopping can help to prevent homelessness in the pandemic crisis prehensive, lasting 12 to 18 months during which time families build a foundation for economic stability by finding more appropriate housing and receiving weekly case management, bi-weekly coaching on key issues, money-management education, debt remediation and savings matches of up to $1,000. And, of course, there’s the issue of simply making more money. “Warehouses need forklift drivers, HVAC needs repair people, and there are many customer-assistance positions available,” said Kase. “So, we pay for professional training for people to do these higher-wage jobs. We also teach resume writing and interviewing skills.” For BCM, like all of us, surviving the pandemic required major changes. Everyone immediately began working remotely, but with less disruption than expected thanks to already having moved many functions online. The totally renovated and expanded thrift store closed just two months after its grand reopening. The food pantry closed. And the scramble began for funding to meet the growing need. According to Kase, some of these changes have had unexpectedly positive consequences.

thing for them.” It also complicated everything for the non-profits that help them. In the year leading up to the shutdown, BCM spent $902,134 on direct client benefit. A year later, that number is $2,567,859 -- requiring more funding during a time when major fundraisers are not happening. In response, BCM has streamlined its services to focus on the greatest need and offers both one-time emergency financial assistance and longer-term support and education. Some of the clothing on sale Emergency assistance at the THRIFTique store. helps families with the sudden inability to pay rent, “We recognized that what we do best mortgage or utilities because of illness is direct financial assistance,” he said. or death in the family, loss of job, reduc“So, we closed our food pantry and dotion in work hours or pay, or major unnated 5,000 pounds of food to anothexpected expenses. er nonprofit. Now we focus entirely on Longer-term assistance is more com-

rent, mortgages and utilities.” And by interviewing applicants virtually rather than in person, BCM case managers can handle significantly more appointments a day. “We were already overwhelmed before the pandemic,” said Kase. “Now we’re spending more money than ever in our history by a factor of three.” The good news is that the nonprofits that are helping people are also helping one another. “It’s a truism [that] we can’t do this alone. We’re coming together while we’re apart,” said Kase. When I asked him what our readers could do to help besides donating money, he replied simply: “Shop.” He was referring to BCM’s now-reopened thrift store called Buckhead THRIFTique. To see for myself, I visited THRIFTique, where Director of Retail Operations Michelle Krompegal gave me a tour. What I saw looked more like a highend consignment store than a thrift store. The front section was full of quality furniture, lamps, china, silver and crystal, plus jewelry and an ample book section. Beyond that was an expanse of clothing for men, women and children -- with business suits for men, copious amounts of denim and all manner of other garments displayed by style and color. My biggest surprise was the selection of dreamy, likenew wedding dresses -- a definite wow. “We have great donors,” said Krompegal, who accepts only the best items and sells or donates the rest to other charities. THRIFTique is located at 800 Miami Circle, Suite 160, in Buckhead. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. The store follows strict Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pandemic safety guidelines, accepts credit cards, and provides delivery for a fee. For information, call 404365-8811 or go to buckheadchristianministry.org/thriftique.

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Beautiful Chaos

The collage works of artist Anderson Smith provoke and empower BY ISADORA PENNINGTON At the intersection of art and advertisement, the collage works of artist Anderson Smith embrace sexuality and provoke the viewer’s ideas of fashion, luxury brands, advertising, and the human form. A fashion and product photographer by trade, Smith is well acquainted with commercial brands that often utilize sexuality and the female form to sell their goods. Inundated by advertisements in fashion magazines and inspired by a love for the narrative of classic cinema, he has developed a body of mixed media work that has captured the attention of celebrities and earned him representation at several local galleries. One piece on display features words cut out from magazines that command and empower their audience. “People love whatever you do, own your content. Look at me now boss,” it says. Surrounding these words are an array of body parts. An oversized woman’s face with eyes covered by metal sits atop a seated nude figure. Four legs sprout beneath the body, each sporting high heels. Peeking out behind the head is a portion of the Statue of Liberty’s green crown. “It’s beautiful chaos,” Smith says when asked what inspires his work. “There is chaos in beauty and there is beauty in chaos. And that’s the world we live in.” His collages embody a degree of controlled wildness in the way they incorporate images that were

intended to depict refined culture and style. Smith’s pieces are composed not just of paper, but also acrylic paint, spray paint, pigments, resin, and gel mediums. Another piece laying nearby features a young Michael Jackson peeking out from inside a denim pocket while a nude woman’s figure opposite appears to be gazing up at the scene. The piece is mostly dark with splashes of color that shine through. Across the image are a variety of spray painted Louis Vuitton logos. “I was really never a safe photographer and I’m really not a safe artist,” Smith explains. ‘If you look at fashion labels like Louis Vuitton there is a lot of provocation in their brand and how they display their products.” He says his goal is to spark conversation for his audience and asserts that it is not for him to interpret his art, rather for his viewers to render a judgment about what the message might be. His works embrace the looseness of sexuality in European art and media while touching on the consumable quality of nudity and how it is used in fashion and marketing. These pieces bring to the forefront elements that are often intended to be used subtly. By combining different figures and blocking out body parts like eyes or exaggerating certain sexualized features, he asks the viewer to consider a deeper message behind the characters put forth in fashion and advertising.

ISADORA PENNINGTON

Anderson Smith in his studio space at Buckhead Art & Co. in Buckhead Village.

While the composition of many of Smith’s collages may at first look appear to be arranged at random, his creative process is actually much more methodical. “It’s very intentional, very methodical. It’s like putting together a puzzle. It can start with just one image, and that image just starts the whole idea,” he says. Today, Smith can often be found working in the Buckhead Art & Company Studio

in Buckhead Village. He has been represented by Buckhead Art & Company for several years, and says it feels like he found a home there with owner Katie Jones. Behind the plate glass windows and in the shadow of a multitude of works by other renowned artists, Smith diligently works on his compositions. Surrounded by stacks of magazines, buckets of paint, blades and brushes, he creates his cheeky and provocative collages.

YOUR MOUNTAIN PARADISE AWAITS, LET US WELCOME YOU HOME

470-602-9693 Grace.Battle@evrealestate.com

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Pandemic Anniversary: Musicians, teleworks and evangelists take stock BY JOHN RUCH AND SAMMIE PURCELL The month of March brings a very unhappy birthday for the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia. March 2, 2020 bore the discovery, in Fulton County, of the state’s first known COVID cases. By March 12, governments and school districts were shutting down. By March 23, Georgia was fully in the grip of the pandemic, with Gov. Kemp issuing the first stay-at-home order. Deadly to thousands, life-changing to millions, the apocalyptic pandemic has been transformative more than most locals guessed in those early days. To mark the grim anniversary, the Reporter caught up with some local figures who we interviewed at the pandemic’s start and others who are feeling unanticipated impacts.

THE MUSICIANS

Joe Gransden, one of Atlanta’s busiest and most popular jazz musicians, predicted

Jazz musician Joe Gransden.

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in mid-March 2020 that the pandemic shutdowns would have a “very scary” impact on the arts economy. How right he was. “It’s extremely brutal out there,” Gransden said in a recent interview. “Some of the larger bands in town have folded, just disbanded.” For jazz and other arts that rely on smaller venues, the acts often “just can’t get people to come out and feel safe.” Granden said he was out of gigs until late August or early September, when some outdoor shows resumed and live-stream concerts became a phenomenon. Incorporated as a one-person limited liability company, Gransden was able to get loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the federal Paycheck Protection Program. But, he said, his family is still relying on the salary of his wife Charissa Gransden, an assistant director of fine arts at The Lovett School. “If I was single, I probably wouldn’t make it,” he said. With cold weather and indoor shows, Gransden said he has his own health concerns, as there are “very few really safe places to play.” One whose precautions he is comfortable with and playing at weekly is Ray’s on the River, a Sandy Springs restaurant, where the band can get a large distance away from the patrons. While the novelty of live-stream concerts seems to have worn off, Gransden said, the many fans still enjoying them should remember to take advantage of another huge convenience of the technology.

“It’s really easy from your home to throw a dollar in the kitty, or five bucks or 25 bucks,” he said. “If everybody put in a dollar to tip, those artists are going to do well again.” For opera singer Kelsey Fredriksen, the last 12 months has been a virtual adjustment as well. In April 2020, the Chamblee resident led a virtual sing-along of the national anthem organized by the city of Brookhaven as part of a “Brookhaven Strong” pandemic unity event. That was just the beginning. “I’ve only been doing virtual,” Frederiksen said about her performances over the past year. “I’m pretty cautious about staying in quarantine, and so I haven’t been taking any risks to go out.” Close to this time last year, Fredriksen was waiting “on pins and needles” to hear how the Atlanta Opera would choose to move forward with its May production of “Madame Butterfly.” Eventually, the company canceled the performance. Since then, some companies have performed outdoors, including the Atlanta Opera, which staged performances in an open-sided tent at Brookhaven’s Oglethorpe University. Frederiksen said she has been too concerned about possible spread of the virus to participate. “There’s a lot of evidence that singing spews more germs farther, and the louder you sing, the further it goes,” she said. “It’s kind of depressing.” But in the virtual world, she has remained employed as a staff singer at her church in Decatur, where individually recorded parts are put together, and she has shifted her business of piano and voice lessons online as well. In some cases, Fredriksen said, her students are even learning at a faster pace than they were during in-person lessons. “Some of the kids nowadays, they’re just so attuned to the internet,” she said. “A couple of my students, they are just so good with a computer and just melding into it, that they just roll with the punches. Some of them are 5 years old and it’s just reality -this is how it goes. They don’t have much to compare it to.”

THE TELEWORK EXPERT

Just a few weeks into the pandemic, Johann Weber said in a Reporter commentary that there could be a silver lining for those fortunate enough to be off the front

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Opera singer Kelsey Fredriksen.

lines and able to telework. Weber, who manages the “Perimeter Connects” alternative commuting program for the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, predicted that the time- and money-saving aspects would make telework stick around for good. “The reality of work in 2021 may be something to celebrate,” he wrote at the time. While it remains to be seen what postpandemic work will be like, Weber said in a Feb. 8 presentation to the Dunwoody City Council that surveys show most workers have an appetite to continue with a permanent mix of in-person and remote work, and many large employers are planning for it. Weber said Perimeter Connects recently got survey responses from 33 businesses representing about 24,000 office employees in Perimeter Center. About 66% of employers said they would have more remote work post-pandemic. Only 3% said there would be no remote work once things return to normal. About 45% of the employers surveyed said they would have more work-from-home opportunities in the future, but did not have any formal policies or plans in place. Perimeter Connects also synthesized about 40 different global studies on remote work from over the past year, surveying responses from 175,000 respondents. According to the synthesized studies, many workers are ready to be back in an office, but 60% to 80% of employees want to work remote one or more days a week after the pandemic is over. “[Offices] serve a very social function, as well as the actual productive work function,” Weber said of the urge to an in-person return. “You don’t necessarily have to be in the same place to do your core work, but you would choose to be around people doing the same work, even if you had no need to coordinate with them.” One piece of Perimeter Connects advice that the locally surveyed companies are often not following is to create a formal teleworking plan. “[Employers] are not directly addressing how that work is expected to be done,” Weber said, which may indicate they are still thinking of teleworking as a temporary tactic.

THE FAITHFUL

“Did you know that the Bible foretold that soon we can look forward to a world that is free of sickness, health [issues], crime and death?” reads the handwritten note recently mailed to a Sandy Springs address. It’s a message that once would have been delivered in person by Jehovah’s Witnesses in their famous door-knocking ministry, but now is being done by snail-mail as the Christian denomination continues its complete pandemic shutdown. The suspension of the door-to-door ministry was “earth-shattering for Jehovah’s Witnesses,” says Robert Hendriks, the organization’s U.S. spokesperson. The group’s name literally means spreading the word of God, and it has fought decades of battles against religious discrimination laws worldwide for the right to conduct the door-knocking.

Johann Weber, director of Perimeter Connects.

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“Now, all of sudden, it wasn’t a government telling us to stop… Now it was the organization saying, ‘You need to stop from going to door to door,’” said Hendriks. While some churches and synagogues fought for the right of exemption from shutdowns, Jehovah’s Witnesses shut down all in-person gatherings and activities early and have stayed remote. Hendriks said that is based on two principles: the sanctity of life and Jesus’s biblical command to love your neighbor. “Life is sacred. And why would you risk even one life because you have a personal preference to meet together in person?” he asks. Beyond health risks, he said, “it’s how our neighbor feels about our coming to his door now. And that -- we don’t know when that will change… If they’re not comfortable, we’re not comfortable. We’re not going to force ourselves on anyone and nor should we.” Like many secular organizations, the Jehovah’s Witnesses find the pandemic’s enforced distancing is accelerating some changes already underway and bringing some unexpected benefits. The organization’s door-knocking efforts already found fewer people at home in a mobile age, leading to experiments in telephone and letterwriting ministries that are now the highly organized new normal. Virtual meetings are often drawing more attendees than in-person versions, Hendriks said, especially for those with physical challenges. “You just wonder where this is going,” Hendricks said. “We could never have imagined a year ago being where we are, and I have a suspicion that one year from now, we also will be amazed.” For Jehovah’s Witnesses, that includes a possibility far more amazing than, say, whether teleworking will keep more people home to respond to door-knocking. The organization believes “this [pandemic] is not the work of God,” Hendriks said, but could be a sign of the return of Jesus predicted in the Bible’s book of Revelation, which comes after a rampage by the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” whose members include a personification of Pestilence. “We’ll see,” said Hendriks. “We don’t pretend to be prophets.” SS


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Renovation Boom

Local contractors and designers say pandemic has spurred desire for improved space BY COLLIN KELLEY The strength of the real estate market during the pandemic has received plenty of media coverage, but home renovators and interior designers have also kept busy this past year. As a matter of fact, the desire to improve, upgrade, and add space to existing homes is going “gangbusters,” according to one contractor. Warner McConaughey of HammerSmith (hammersmith.net) said business has been “through the roof” thanks to the pandemic. He said with people spending more time at home along with working and going to school there, too, it has meant a big demand for additional space or the creation of new space in existing

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structures. “People are wanting to create any kind of space anywhere they can,” McConaughey said. “We’ve made offices or places for kids to study out of closets, carriage houses, sheds, and in basements. Before the pandemic, people wanted big, open floor plans, but now they want to create nooks and corners for offices and study so they can have a quiet corner space for Zoom calls.” Revamping and creating outdoor space is also huge, McConaughey said. “People are even spending time out in the cold weather, so we’ve seen requests for more fire pits, heaters, and creating outContinued on page 22

Two projects from CR Home Design Center: A renovated kitchen offers more prep room and easy-to-clean surfaces, while homeowners are craving creature comforts like a new master bathroom (inset).


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This indoor lap pool and workout area designed by Moon Bros. can easily adapt to a more outside environment with large sliding doors.

Continued from page 21 door living spaces. There’s also been a big increase in the demand for swimming pools.” McConaughey said he’s also seen homes become more multigenerational, with space being created to welcome aging parents and grandparents. Virginia Van Lear with Level Craft Construction (levelcraftatlanta.com) said business was “gangbusters” because everyone wants more space. “We’ve had customers doubling their square footage, wanting to update and upgrade everything, and in some cases completely rebuilding,” she said. Van Lear said now that everyone has grown comfortable working and learning at home, she expects more people will continue to do so even when the pandemic passes. “People want a lot more space for home schooling and offices,” Van Lear said. “I’ve talked to homeowners and they said their kids love learning at home and they’ve been more productive working at home, so lots of people are never going

Outdoor living space and porches, like this one from Level Craft, are in big demand.

back to a traditional office or classroom. Initially, Van Lear was concerned that the home renovation business would drop like a rock as the pandemic progressed. “I’ve been very surprised,” she admitted. “I thought we’d have another 2008 recession situation on our hands with people hunkering down and holding on to their money. It’s been the opposite.” Mark Fosner with Moon Bros. (moonbros.com) said he’s read about the hot real estate market, but it appears to him that more people are staying put and improving their current living space. Like other renovators, he’s seen a big demand for outdoor living space. “We’ve seen a massive demand for screened porches and outdoor living rooms,” Fosner said. “They want a place where people can gather in all seasons.” Finishing out basements, adding playrooms, and home offices have also been ongoing themes for Moon Bros. Fosner said with families deciding to “pod” or quarantine together, there’s been a demand for making homes more

accessible, including installing elevators. “I think we’re going to see more people living and working at home even after the pandemic,” Fosner said. “People are comfortable working and spending more time at home, so they want more creature comforts.” The team at CR Home Design Center (CRHomeUSA.com) said outdoor living has been a running theme for the past year and expects it to continue, according to inside sale representative Kitt Webb. “I’ve seen an increase on outdoor kitchens, adding built-in grills, refrigerators and even some specialty items like pizza ovens, and cocktail centers,” Webb said. The company’s design director, Antonette Copeland, agreed. “People are ready to get back to some sort of normalcy, entertaining in small groups and outside in fresh air. They are wanting sustainable materials that will not be affected by the weather and want to bring their kitchen experience outside.” CR’s custom home coordinator Tay-

Level Craft added a second level and large outdoor porch to this home.

lor Gann said now, more than ever, consumers are looking for functional and efficient spaces. “A kitchen is not just a kitchen anymore,” Gann said. “On Monday it could be your office, on Tuesday your kid’s classroom, etc. It is important that every inch is well thought out and planned so you can make the most of the space that you have. I believe that homeowners and designers will share this mindset for many years to come.”

Communities of Faith Join us for our Outdoor Masses! Bring a chair or stay in your car. A mask is required in the Communion line. You can also celebrate with our online Mass at

www.judeatl.com Easter Sunday, April 4 7:00 am Sunrise Service, 10:00 am, and 11:30 am

7171 Glenridge Drive Sandy Springs 770-394-3896

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Arts & Entertainment | 23

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MJCCA Book Festival spring series to host authors virtually Microsoft founder Bill Gates was scheduled to speak about his new book “How to Avoid Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need” at the virtual series on Feb. 24, after the Reporter’s press time. The schedule includes: March 7: Mark Gerson, “The Telling” March 11: Annabelle Gurwitch, “You’re Leaving When?” March 21: Lisa Scottoline, “Eternal” March 22: Tim Shriver, “The Call to Unite” March 25: Sue Monk Kidd, “The Book of Longings” April 7: Brooke Baldwin, “Huddle”

BY SAMMIE PURCELL

The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta Book Festival will host a plethora of authors and guests with its virtual “In Your Living Room Series.” The “In Your Living Room” series began in February and will have virtual events through April. Among the scheduled guests are CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, bestselling novelist Sue Monk Kidd and Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver.

April 11: Daniel Lee, “The S.S. Officer’s Armchair” April 15: Tovah Feldshuh, “Lilyville” April 25: Dr. Robert Lefkowitz, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm” For more details, see the MJCCA’s website at atlantajcc.org.

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS REQUIRED MINIMUM DISTRIBUTIONS OR MAXIMUM CONFUSION? “MAXIMUM CONFUSION?” – WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE? The IRS specifies Required Minimum Distributions, or “RMDs”, that you must withdraw from IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement accounts at certain ages. People seem to know these rules exist and that penalties for mistakes are hefty, but most don’t know the details. In 50 years of talking with families, we’ve observed that many people worry significantly about this area of their planning. WHAT KIND OF DETAILS? We hear many questions…I’m turning 72 (the new updated magic age); When must I take my first required minimum distribution? Should I delay my first distribution to year 2, as allowed by the rules? Do I have to wait until the day I’m actually 72 to start my distributions? Can I wait until I’m 72 to take distributions from an inherited IRA account? I’m still working past 72 and in a 401(k) plan – do I have to withdraw money from it? Can I roll over my RMD amount into a Roth IRA after paying the required taxes? WOW, THIS IS STARTING TO SOUND LIKE A “MINEFIELD”… It CAN be complicated. The key is to do the necessary homework, because these RMDs are just one piece of the retirement puzzle, and should be part of a well-coordinated plan. Our Wealth Planning Committee is a group of attorneys, CPAs, MBAs, and other professionals who meet regularly. They discuss and analyze how to meet RMDs while maximizing a family’s aftertax cash flow. Committee Chairman, Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®, likes to say, “The RMD rules ARE complicated, but they offer excellent planning

Bill Kring, MaryJane LeCroy, and Phillip Hamman discuss the importance of a well-coordinated retirement plan to navigate the rules of Required Minimum Distributions and maximize after-tax cash flow. (Left to right: Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)

opportunities.” Families unable to invest the time for homework should seek help. ANYTHING TO WATCH OUT FOR? Most important: Seek independent and unbiased advice from an advisor obligated to act as your fiduciary, rather than someone with an agenda to sell financial products. This fiduciary business model is what we follow at Linscomb & Williams. We are ready to sit down for a no-cost, no-obligation, exploratory conversation either virtually or at our office. Imagine the peace of mind from eliminating confusion about this and other important areas of your finances.

2727 Paces Ferry Road SE Building Two, Suite 1475 Atlanta, Georgia 30339 770 333 0113 www.linscomb-williams.com

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


24 | Doing Business

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Doing Business | An honor society spawns a virtual tutoring company BY JOHN RUCH

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ty and inclusion. NSHSS shares the same values.

A Brookhaven-based national honor society has launched a virtual tutoring platTell us about Knoyo Tutoring and what form that aims to broker business for colneed that was created to fill. lege students during the pandemic and Knoyo is an independent organization beyond. that was founded to give students easy The National Society of High School access to a pressure-free environment to Scholars, operating at 1936 North Druid learn, find community, and raise their GPA. Hills Road, offers an array of scholarships Knoyo tutors are college honor students and programs to “high-achieving” students from universities all across the country -selected by invitation only. Among the profrom junior colleges to the Ivy League -- to grams, according to NSHSS, is the chance to join “the festivities surrounding the Noensure that there’s a perfect tutor for each bel Prize awards in Stockholm, Sweden,” student. As the first tutoring platform built because a member of Nobel family is a soby students for students, the Knoyo space ciety co-founder. Partner organizations infosters invaluable connections among stuclude Brookhaven’s Oglethorpe Universidents as they build their skills, their netty. NSHSS charges a one-time fee of $75 for works and their dream fulifetime membership, fultures. ly or partly waivable for COVID-19 has brought those who can’t afford it. to light numerous chalFounded in 2002, lenges in the area of edNSHSS is incorporated as ucation. With the abrupt a for-profit company and switch to online learning describes itself as a “mislast spring and uncertain sion-driven, membertimes regarding how stubased social enterprise.” dents will learn moving It has a companion nonprofit foundation that forward, we realize some provides scholarships. supplementary study opNow NSHSS has tions are necessary. Knoyo spawned Knoyo, a platwas created with these form where college stuneeds specifically in mind. SPECIAL dents can hire themselves We’re all used to having James Lewis of Knoyo and out as tutors at prices meals, Ubers and supplies the National Society of they set, with the compaHigh School Scholars. delivered on-demand. ny taking a cut. For more Now you can order up the about the society, see academic help you need nshss.org, and for Knoyo, and want, exactly when you need it most. see knoyo.com. We asked James Lewis, co-founder of Virtual learning is very popular during NSHSS and president of Knoyo, to explain the pandemic. Do you think it will continhow both work. ue to be as popular afterward? We think that some version of virtual What is an honor society and what is the National Society of High School Scholars’ learning is here to stay, and that’s not necunique role in that world? essarily a bad thing. Schools, students and An honor society is an organization families have learned a lot about learning that recognizes students who excel acathis past year, and part of that has been the demically or as leaders among their peers. benefits of learning and studying on more Membership in an honor society is a repof a personalized basis. This has helped sturesentation of great achievements and an dents maximize their time and seek help indicator of future success. Students often for academic support in new ways. Knoyo belong to more than one honor society. fits perfectly within that model, offering The National Society of High School students personalized support offered onScholars is a distinguished academic hondemand. With virtual learning continuing or society, committed to recognizing and at some level, it will continue to provide serving the highest-achieving student employment for students who need and scholars in more than 26,000 high schools want to work, on their own schedule. across 170 countries. Since our founding in How does Knoyo make money from 2002 by James Lewis and Claes Nobel, the senior member of the Nobel Prize family, the tutoring service platform? And are subNSHSS has fostered a diverse and inclusive sidies available for students who might not organization of exceptional young leaders be able to afford the fees? of more than 1.7 million members spanKnoyo allows each tutor to set their ning high school to college to career. Our own rates, with a minimum of $21.99 for mission is to honor academic achievement 30-minute sessions and $39.99 for 60-minand provide unique resources and scholute sessions. A percentage of the fee is rearships that enrich educational journeys, tained by Knoyo. fuel career interests, and drive communiAt this time, we are working with stuty impact. dents who are unable to afford sessions on a case-by-case basis with the intent of creHow did NSHSS come to be based in ating a program in the future for those in Brookhaven? need. Knoyo offers affordable tutoring to NSHSS is proud to have its headquarstudents, while at the same time providing ters located in Brookhaven. Brookhaven is income opportunities for college students known for its community spirit, commitment to excellence and support of diversiin these uncertain times.


Education | 25

MARCH 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

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26 | Education

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Education | 27

MARCH 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

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28 | Education

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Public Safety | 29

MARCH 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Violent crime increased in 2020, while overall rate dropped Continued from page 1 plications. In SSPD’s annual compilation of statistics on serious crime that is submitted to the FBI, it counted only four killings, because those were the ones classified as murders; two vehicular homicides are considered lesser offenses. And of those four murder investigations, one case was later ruled to be self-defense, so the 2020 murder rate is actually lower than SSPD officially reported. Less than two months into 2021, the city already had recorded two murders. A triple shooting in an apartment on Hammond Drive in Sandy Springs left two people dead and another hospitalized Feb. 11. ed:

The six homicide cases in 2020 includ■ On April 24, Felix Meyer, 57, was struck and killed while riding his bicycle on Glenridge Drive north of I-285, according to the Sandy Springs Police Department. Leonardo Angulo Banos, 42, of Norcross, was arrested the next day and charged in his death.

■ On Aug. 19, a pedestrian was killed in a vehicular hit-and-run death of a pedestrian on Ga. 400. Hugo Rodriguez-Perez, 34, was arrested at a residence in Douglasville.

ysitter, Kirstie Hanna Flood, 20, and Flood’s boyfriend, Jeffrey Scott Meyers, 28, both of Sandy Springs, were charged with murder in connection with the child’s death.

■ On June 6, Sherika Monique Little, 24, of Wadesboro, North Carolina, was found inside a car suffering from a gunshot wound at the Hilton Atlanta Perimeter Suites Hotel at 6120 Peachtree-Dunwoody Road in Perimeter Center. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Fortune Jaquan Spencer, 25, of Lilesville, North Carolina, was arrested and charged in her death and in carjackings and attempted carjackings after the shooting.

■ On Dec. 14, Najahan Khan, 22, was shot to death at an apartment complex at 5555 Roswell Road. SSPD said Khan was a home invader who accidentally shot himself while beating a victim with a gun. Najahan Khan’s brother, Ishmael Levi Khan, 20, of Peach County, was charged with felony murder as an alleged accomplice in the crime.

■ On Oct. 7, a person was killed at a home on Hammond Drive. SSPD originally classified the killing as a murder but later ruled it to be self-defense. ■ On Dec. 9, a 2-year-old child died under care of a babysitter. The bab-

Public Safety Briefs TH R EE C H A R GED I N APA R T M EN T S HOOTI N G D EAT H S

Three people are facing murder charges stemming from a shooting that killed two people in apartment on Hammond Drive on Feb. 11. Jesus Alvarez de la Rosa, 25, of Atlanta, is charged with murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Ge Vang, 40, of Fresno, California, and Mushfiq Ali Nafi, 19, of Atlanta, are charged with felony murder and other offenses. Several people were at The Eva Apartments at 789 Hammond Drive when the shooting happened just before 2 a.m. on Feb. 11, according to the Sandy Springs Police Department. One or more suspects shot at the three victims, SSPD reported. The gunshot wounds were fatal for two of them. The victims who were killed were identified as Jerry Salazar, 19, of Sandy Springs, and Ariel Collazo, 20, of Norcross.

LO C A L B UR GL A RY SU SP EC T A R R ESTED ATOP R ES TA UR A N T

A suspect wanted in connection with a trio of Sandy Springs restaurant burglaries was captured on the roof of a Johns Creek restaurant police say he attempted to burglarize early on Feb. 19. Jah’msid Johnson was arrested after SS

the North Metro SWAT Team responded to the Longhorn Steakhouse at 10845 Medlock Bridge Road in Johns Creek, according to the Johns Creek Police Department. JCPD said he also is a suspect in a burglary of the Kani House at 10820 Abbotts Bridge Road in Johns Creek, a tenth of a mile away. In Sandy Springs, Johnson is suspected of the burglaries on Feb. 13 of Breadwinner Café & Bakery and Little Thai Cuisine on Sandy Springs Circle and Slope’s BBQ across Johnson Ferry Road from the other two businesses.

In other 2020 crime stats, aggravated assault cases also increased, with 93 reported, up by 6 from 2019 and 22 from 2018. Rape reports have remained about the same in the city for the past three years, with 10 reported in 2020 and 2019, and nine in 2018. Domestic violence cases increased by 26% from January through May of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. In property crimes, SSPD reported 726 larceny cases in 2020. That was almost 100 fewer cases than the 822 reported in 2019, which in turn was lower than the 855 cases in 855. Fewer motorists were victims of entering-auto crimes in 2020. The 690 incidents were 50 fewer than reports for 2019. A bigger drop was seen between 2018 and 2019, falling from 814 to 740 incidents. Vehicle thefts rose last year with 178 reported compared to the 156 in 2019. Both years were below the nearly 200 thefts recorded in 2018. More than 200 burglaries were reported in 2020, but that was still 63 fewer than the 275 burglaries reported in 2019. The SSPD investigated 141 more burglaries in 2018, answering the call 353 times. After dropping to 34 in 2019, SSPD in-

26%▲ Domestic violence cases

178 in 2020 156 in 2019 200 in 2018 Vehicle Thefts

200 in 2020 275 in 2019 141 in 2018 Burglaries

Source: Sandy Springs Police Department

vestigated 45 robbery cases last year, which was slightly lower than the 50 in 2018. Arson cases increased in 2020, but that was an increase by one to three for the year. In 2018 the city reported eight arson cases. In traffic cases, officers issued 5,449 tickets to people accused of speeding in 2020, up significantly from 2019, when 4,295 tickets were issued. Out of the 2020 tickets, 239 alleged driving at 100 mph or more, a large increase from the 56 in 2019.

A LL EGED LY STO LEN VEHICLE C RA SH ES INTO PO LICE CAR

Five suspects were arrested Feb. 9 after crashing an allegedly stolen vehicle into a Sandy Springs Police car. According to the Sandy Springs Police Department, the incident happened around 2 a.m. near Brandon Mill and Dalrymple roads, where officers on patrol spotted a 2021 Porsche Cayenne that had been reported as stolen. SSPD said the driver of the Porsche attempted to drive away but collided with the police car. Four of the Porsche occupants were apprehended immediately. The fifth suspect was caught after a short foot pursuit, SSPD said. None of the suspects or the officers were injured in the collision. SSPD said that officers found two handguns and other items that were reported as stolen.

PUBLIC NOTICE Christina Park has applied for a Retail Alcohol Package License for Dunwoody Liquor Store. Owned by Spring Wind LLC, located at 2090 Dunwoody Club Dr. #125 Sandy Springs, GA 30350


30 | Education

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Veteran journalist has seen the changes in Georgia politics up close BY MARK WOOLSEY

Q. What influences drew you to journalism? A. I would guess probably reading the paper when I was growing up. We

It’s more and more unusual for a print journalist to make almost an entire career from working at one publication, but Jim Galloway is that rare bird. The 1977 University of Georgia graduate spent about 18 months at a South Carolina paper before jumping to the AJC and has been there ever since. Galloway was hired as editor for the Atlanta paper’s North Fulton Extra, a weekly suburban edition. He next jumped to the Journal to cover religion. Stints at Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and as a foreign correspondent – among others – followed. Jim Galloway He became a political columnist about 20 years ago, a position he planned to retire from after the Jan. 5 runoffs took the Journal, the evening paper. for the U.S. Senate seats representing Then there’s this: Remember the movGeorgia.. ie “Teachers Pet” with Clark Gable and

Doris Day? He was a feisty old city editor. Also, Art Buchwald, the humor columnist of the day, influenced me. Q. How has covering politics changed? A. My first presidential candidate is an example. He was Florida Governor Ruben Askew. I think it was 1984. At that point you were assigned to a specific candidate. I remember he had this interesting tic. Every so often his voice would stop and his eyes would roll to the back of his head. Nobody ever wrote about it. Fast forward to today, can you imagine that happening? Then, there’s the immediacy. The rhythm of the business has changed so much. Usually I finish the Sunday column at around 5 p.m. on Thursday. It goes up at about 6 p.m. and then into the Sunday paper. So, the internet

“It’s something I already miss: Talking to people face to face. I always did my best stuff when I could look someone in the eye.” Jim Galloway Journalist

presence gets priority over print. And you’re competing with all these social media outlets, trying to combat all the disinformation that’s out there. Q. What were highlights of your career? A. I thought my stuff out of Beijing during all the [Tiananmen Square] unrest was pretty good. I have spent about the last 20 years as a political columnist and that has gotten more and more interesting every year. The other big one I did was in 2006, when Ralph Reed was making a play for governor of Georgia, and that’s when the [Jack] Abramoff scandal was breaking. It turned out that Reed had taken a

good bit of money that had been laundered through another organization to stop the state of Alabama from establishing a lottery and [halt] gambling initiatives in other states. It was one of those cases where it paid to have covered religion for a while. Q. What will you miss? A. It’s something I already miss: Talking to people face to face. I always did my best stuff when I could look someone in the eye. Now you don’t see their faces…everybody is masked up. The other thing is that I have gone through life half deaf and you don’t realize in a situation like that how much you depend on lip reading, Q. What’s ahead for politics in Georgia? A. I don’t know if it will happen this cycle or the cycle after that or the cycle after that, but Georgia is changing demographically, and by 2030 we’ll be a majority-minority state. White voters will be outnumbered by everybody else. The question is how are we going to react to that? The arc has been coming to grips with the progression of the US into a multiracial democracy. Q, Were you surprised by the recent election and runoff ? A. November surprised me in that Democrats did well at the top of the ticket – in the presidential, Senate and congressional contests, but not downticket. They made minimal gains in the state Legislature, which bodes ill for them during a special session to redraw political boundaries later this year. The results of the two Senate runoffs on Jan. 5 surprised me less and less as we moved closer to final voting. With Trump insisting that he won, against all evidence, he made sure that the election was about him, and not about putting a check on Democrats. In essence, he asked Georgia whether we were really sure about how we voted on Nov. 3. And on Jan. 5, we said yes. Q. What’s next for you? A. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do next. I have a lot of woodworking tools I want to play with. I’ll have to buy a new laptop. I don’t know what I’ll write but I’ll keep writing. Q. The great American novel perhaps? A. Naw, I don’t know how I’d write fiction.

SS


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