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MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016 • VOL. 8 — NO. 4


Brookhaven Reporter


► Townhomes, gas station approved PAGE 2

► Interim CEO: ‘Let’s fix DeKalb the right way’ PAGE 13


Construction cranes: Who keeps them safe? BY JOHN RUCH

Several times each workday, the long blue arm of a construction crane at One City Walk swings a hundred feet above busy Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. It’s one of dozens of cranes dotting the skyline—and often working above busy streets and buildings—in this north metro Atlanta construction boom. It’s easy to imagine the destruction if one of those cranes collapsed because it happens sometimes. Two “tower,” or fixed in place, cranes like those sprouting around the Perimeter Center area fell in New York City in 2008, killing

PUBLIC SAFETY Deadly crashes convince police in Brookhaven to review vehicle pursuit policies Page 30

nine people. Mobile cranes on wheels or tracks tip over more frequently, including at a Buckhead construction site last fall and in a Manhattan accident in February that took a pedestrian’s life. Neither the state of Georgia nor any of its cities require crane operators to be licensed, and federal efforts to establish a national certification system are stalled until at least next year. But federal and private inspectors and trainers say that’s no cause to worry. Any crane operator on a major construction site almost certainly has training from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, an industry nonprofit whose

When spring comes, you can see all the dogwoods bloom. It’s like snow. We call it ‘spring snow.’ KAZUMI FUJISAWA THE JAPANESE EMBROIDERY CENTER IN SANDY SPRINGS PAGE 7

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work is the basis for the national standards underway. And the crane equipment undergoes several federally mandated inspections, ranging from daily to annual ones. In collaboration with an independent training company, Heede Southeast, the North Carolina company that operates that One City Walk tower crane, trains its own operators with written and practical tests for NCCCO certification and at least three weeks of “seat time” in a working crane with a certified operator. “We’re not just throwing any Tom, See CONSTRUCTION on page 16

OUT & ABOUT Road Trips

5 nearby gardens where you can enjoy spring flowers Pages 10-11

Cross Keys students plan Buford Highway’s future BY JOHN RUCH

On a recent Friday at Cross Keys High School, students in Rebekah Morris’s ninth-grade English class were studying something unusual: their own community along Buford Highway. In the “Buford Highway Project,” 90 students are drafting their own visions for improving the rapidly redeveloping corridor’s safety, accessibility and quality of life. The top reports will be delivered to city governments that have official Buford Highway plans—most developed with little or no such input from residents of the famously diverse community along the road. “I just wanted to make a real-world connection to [answer the questions], ‘Why do we need to read?’ ‘Why do we need to write?’ ‘Why do we need to make presentations?’” said Morris. “This is a real-world way to make them see, ‘My thoughts matter toSee CROSS on page 14

2/18/16 12:36 PM

2 | Community ■

City Council approves townhomes, RaceTrac gas station BY DYANA BAGBY

Brookhaven City Council approved separate rezoning requests at its Feb. 23 meeting to allow a 28-unit townhome development and a RaceTrac convenience store and gas station.The Rockhaven Homes townhome development, represented by attorney Doug Dillard, will be located on 1.64 acres of property fronting Apple Valley Road, Dresden Drive and Peachtree View Drive. The project consists of four sepa-

rate 3-story buildings with a two-car rear entry garage. The property now contains three single-family residential dwellings fronting Peachtree View Drive and two single-family residential dwellings fronting Dresden Drive, according to city documents. Several members of the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance spoke in favor of the development. “This is the 10th meeting I’ve attended on this development,” Michael Miller said. “There was lots of dissatisfaction at the begin-

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ning … but we all worked really hard. This is an excellent design. It’s time to move ahead and not waste any more time.” Councilman Bates Mattison agreed. “Rockhaven Homes redeemed itself. It caused lots of consternation but a lot of activists cared deeply about this area and you’ve come a long way,” he said. The RaceTrac development, including an alcohol outlet, will be located on the west side of Clairmont Road. The development sits on three adjacent parcels totaling 1.265 acres on the northeastern quadrant of Clairmont’s intersection with Dresden Drive. The southernmost parcel is a vacant gas station and the two lots farther north of the intersection contain a small pre-owned automotive dealership and an automotive service facility, according to city documents. RaceTrac representatives agreed to install a bicycle rack and a bike repair stand as part of a good faith effort to contribute to the city’s desire to become more bike friendly.

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Top and bottom, the Rockhaven Homes townhome development will be located on 1.64 acres of property fronting Apple Valley Road, Dresden Drive and Peachtree View Drive. The project consists of four separate 3-story buildings with a two-car rear entry garage. Center, a new RaceTrac gas station, with an alcohol outlet, will be built on the west side of Clairmont Road. To see a larger version of the map, go to


MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Community | 3

MARTA rezoning on hold while city takes a new look at its plans for future development BY JOE EARLE

ficials have decided to gather residents for new discussions of the 13 “character areas” outlined in the city’s plan, which was drafted in 2014. City officials want more detailed information on those areas to supplement the plan after residents at recent public gatherings said they felt they had been left out of the original process that led to the current plan, Ernst said. “People didn’t feel they had the proper input,” he said. Ernst said a planned rewrite of the

MARTA officials will put plans for the agency’s transit-oriented development at the Bookhaven/Oglethorpe station on hold until June 1, according to the city. Meanwhile, city officials seek to hold a series of public meetings as part of a agenda to rework the city’s two-year-old comprehensive plan, a process that could take months, Ernst said. Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst announced the decision at a Feb. 22 town hall meeting at Lynwood Park that was attended by more than 80 residents. “I’ve heard residents’ concerns, and there are many unanswered questions regardJOE EARLE ing these Mayor John Ernst announced at a Feb. 22 town hall meeting plans,” Ernst that the city will hold a series of public meetings to help said in a city rework its two-year-old comprehensive plan. press release city’s zoning code would be delayed unthe next day. “Any development at this til after the reworking of the comprehensite will have a big impact on our comsive plan. munity for decades, and this process canThe city said that as part of the renot be rushed. I’m pleased that all parties view of the 13 character areas, task forces agree that we must plan smarter in order comprised of residents in each area will for this property to meet the needs of our review their neighborhood plan in depth city.” and make recommendations for the ZonThe city will also lead a joint effort ing Code rewrite efforts. The current Zonwith MARTA and Brookhaven City Cening Code Rewrite Committee will be suster Partners, the agency’s development pended until the completion of these task partner for the proposed project, and forces, the city said in its press release. with regional partners, including the AtThe planned MARTA project is to be lanta Regional Commission, the Georlocated on 15 acres on the east and west gia Department of Transportation, and sides of the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe stacounty and state agencies to address extion on Peachtree Road. The land now isting traffic problems, infrastructure is used for parking. This project is part capacity and other regional issues that of MARTA’s broader TOD initiative, the could be further impacted by developgoals of which are to increase ridership, ment at this site, the city said. generate revenue, and support both lo“MARTA looks forward to continued cal community development and regiondiscussion with all of our stakeholders,” al economic development. MARTA General Manager/CEO Keith The developer plans to remake the staParker said in the city’s press release. “We tion’s surface parking lots into a mixedexpect the Brookhaven TOD to be an exuse development that will feature a pubcellent example of collaboration.” lic park or plaza that connects Peachtree Although comprehensive plans typRoad and Apple Valley Way, the city says. ically last for decades, Brookhaven of-

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4 | Community ■

Children’s Healthcare seeks rezoning for 57-bed Pill Hill expansion BY JOHN RUCH

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is seeking a 57-bed expansion of its Scottish Rite hospital on Pill Hill, requiring a one-story addition and a rezoning approval from the city of Sandy Springs. Scottish Rite currently has 273 beds and wants to add 43 inpatient beds and 14 observation beds, officials said at a Feb. 24 community meeting held at the hospital. The expansion, announced last fall, is needed due to a bed crunch that forces the hospital to send some older kids to adult-oriented hospitals, CHOA Chief Public Policy Officer David Tatum said. The plan involves adding a fifth sto-

ry to the main hospital building along Meridian Mark Road, as well as building out an existing top floor currently used as storage. But the plan requires rezoning the Scottish Rite property, largely to correct what hospital attorney Woody Galloway called inconsistency and “error” in the existing zoning, which dates to 1987. That zoning has a 250-bed limit that the hospital already exceeded with state approval long ago and permitted about 726,000 square

feet of development under what Galloway said are irregular methods of calculating floor space. CHOA also wants to confirm its entitlement to an additional 28,000 square feet permitted under the 1980s zoning, which the hospital does not have plans to build out at the moment, Galloway said. Brian Cohen, president of the homeowners association at the nearby Johnson Ferry Park townhomes, said that

residents’ main concern is construction impacts, especially with other Pill Hill projects coming online soon. Galloway said rezoning, if the city approves it, could come in June. A state decision on permitting the additional beds was approved Feb. 25. If that all happens, hospital officials said, construction could start in July, with major exterior work wrapping up in January 2017. Further work would continue into fall 2017. Construction staging would take place on green space in front of the hospital on Meridian Mark, requiring the removal of some trees and the closure of one lane of the road. CHOA is not adding any parking with the expansion request, saying current capacity is fine.

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The Brookhaven Police Department and City Council honored City Dog Market and its CEO, Renee Palmer, at its Feb. 23 meeting for being “a tremendous asset to our K-9 program,” said Police Chief and Interim City Manager Gary Yandura. City Dog Market provides free baths to K-9 Officer Dano, who is handled by Officer David Fikes.

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The Brookhaven City Council approved a resolution Feb. 23 authoring the permanent installation of stop signs at all approaches to the intersection of Appalachee Drive and Canoochee in response to vehicle and pedestrian safety concerns. The city conducted an engineering and traffic analysis at the intersection following the request of residents living in the area who signed and submitted a Traffic Calming Program Initial Interest Petition Form. The city conducted a traffic speed and volume study on Appalachee Drive on Oct. 22, 2015. The study tracked daily volume approaching the intersection and the average speeds. Due to limited sight distance and concerns of accidents the city recommended the stop signs.

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MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Out & About | 5

Local indigo and glass artists create unique pieces for American Craft Council Show BY DYANA BAGBY

completely controlled technique where everything is planned before sitting down to the loom and requires great patience to a craft with immediate results and magical serendipity,” she said. Serendipity plays a key role in her indigo landscapes, but there are also careful measures taken to ensure a piece is worthy to be sold. “While I have control of many aspects of this work, one small slip can ruin an entire piece,” Pollard said. For example, dropping a piece while hanging it up to dry or having two pieces clap together and mar one another “or a

Lynn Pollard has woven textiles most of her creative life. The craft requires a keen sense of aesthetics but also a high level of technical knowledge. “And infinite patience,” she said. For years, she said, she accepted and needed the challenges of weaving. But a few years ago she realized she needed to rid her dye studio of unsafe chemicals and switch to natural dyes.

An example of a Kathleen Plate light fixture.

Kathleen Plate’s green chandelier.

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“I also began more mindful weaving with paper, making tapestry-like pieces,” she said. During a class in Japanese papermaking, she turned to indigo dyes and to the natural indigo vat in her studio. “When I dipped my first piece of paper into the vat, it was magical and I knew immediately that this was something I wanted to explore,” Pollard said. She knew of no one else who was dyeing paper with indigo to make landscapes and so began a new path. “I went from a

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dip just goes awry because the dip was the wrong scale,” she said. “And then there are the moments when I’ve made a number of dips which have had to dry in between over several days and the piece is good. I can take the good or I can make one more dip that takes it over-thetop wonderful or can completely ruin it,” she said. “I try to be brave.”

American Craft Council Show Pollard, of Buckhead, is just one of numerous artists showcasing their work at the American Craft Council Show March 11 through 13 at Cobb Galleria Centre. More than 225 artists will feature their handmade creations in everything from clothing, jewelry, furniture and home décor, said Susan Summers, spokesperson for the show. Also appearing at this year American Craft Council Show is Kathleen Plate of Brookhaven, the founder of Smart Glass Art. Recycled glass is her medium, and obContinued on page 6



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Above, Kathleen Plate’s glass in an interior. Plate, a Brookhaven resident, is founder of Smart Glass Art. Recycled glass is her medium, using thousands of bottles from bars, restaurants and friends to create her pieces.

taining the thousands of glass bottles she needs means asking bars, restaurants and friends to save their throwaways. “I’ve also been known to do a little dumpster diving,” she said with a laugh. Plate’s use of recycled glass to create works of beauty is part of a lifestyle where preserving and conserving the environment were instilled in her as a child growing up in a solar-powered home in a small fishing and logging village in Washington state. She has been commissioned by Coca-Cola and the Guggenheim Museum and many others to create pieces such as glass chandeliers and glass curtains. Chick-fil-A also commissioned her to handcraft chandeliers of Coca-Cola bottles for select restaurants. Of course, glass doesn’t arrive at Plate’s studio ready to be cut and shaped. “The bottles are dirty, gross, used bottles – like a frat party blew up,” she said.

So hours of scraping off labels and soaking the bottles until clean and shiny are the first steps before the arduous process of cutting the glass into circles and other shapes begins. Then the glass is put into kilns “and that’s where the magic happens,” she said. The pieces become smooth and stronger. “I just think glass is a magical thing. The way it feels, looks – it’s a fun medium,” she said.


An example of a Lynn Pollard indigo landscape.

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MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Out & About | 7

Embroidery center brings a touch of Japan to Sandy Springs BY JOE EARLE

Surrounded by forest, the house shows little more than a driveway to the cars rolling past on Spalding Drive. But inside, this house feels different from the suburban homes around it. This Sandy Springs home offers a little piece of Japan. Since 1989, it has housed the Japanese Embroidery Center, a nonprofit that preserves and teaches Japanese embroidery. “We have about three acres of land,” said Kazumi Fujisawa, an officer of the Japanese Embroidery Center, a school housed in the home at 2727 Spalding Drive, and daughter of the center’s founder and master, Shuji Tamura, who lives at the house. “You can see the seasons change from the classroom. When spring comes, you can see all the dogwoods bloom. It’s like snow. We call it ‘spring snow.’” Visitors to the center remove their shoes in the entryway before entering the living area, just as they would at a home in Japan. The first room visitors enter is a sparely decorated space serving as a sort of gallery and meditation area. “You step into their house, which is also their workshop, and it’s a completely Japanese world,” said Elizabeth Peterson, director of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, which mounted an exhibition of works from the center in February. The exhibit, which lasts through March 6, features pieces covered with small stitches made with silk thread that create brightly colored images of plants, abstract designs and scenes. The show ties into an exhibit the center mounted at the Oglethorpe gallery in 1990, shortly after the center opened. “There’s a longstanding relationship and they’re our neighbors,” Peterson said. Tamura established the U.S. center more than a quarter century ago. The Japanese-style house is part of what attracted him to metro Atlanta after he decided to move to the U.S. to open a branch of the Japanese center where he took up the craft of embroidery, Fujisawa said. Fujisawa said the center now has about 500 members. Tamura said he looked at locations in New York and California, but didn’t feel at home there. “In the beginning, the choice was New York or San Francisco,” Tamura said. “I knew it was not my place. When I got off the airport in New York, I felt [it was] dangerous. In L.A., I felt no nature. In San Francisco, I felt it was more a sightseeing city.” A student from Atlanta had sent him a videotape showing the Spalding Drive house, which was for sale, Fujisawa said. “This house was already Japanese style,” she said. But it wasn’t really Japanese enough. They felt the house mixed in oth-

er Asian styles. “We had to remodel a lot,” she said. They added a classroom on the rear of the house, where students come to learn embroidery skills. One of the first modifications to the house, Tamura said, was to build a new entrance. He had seen that Americans who came to his classes, which he then offered in hotels, wouldn’t stop talking. Even once class started, they would keep talking. That, he said, would never happen in Japan. “I was asking, ‘How can we make them quiet?’” So he built a Japanese-style entryway and required students and visitors to remove their shoes. It was a way to calm them. “The entrance was very important,” he said. “To take shoes off is very common in Japan. I have to ask them to take shoes off. The first step was to build a typical Japanese entrance.” Tamura, who’s now 75, said he took up embroidery when he was about 30. He grew up in Tokyo and had trained to work in the computer industry, he said, but didn’t like his job. He visited the embroidery center, located in the nearby town of Chiba, and “immediately, I realized this is my life’s work.” He was drawn to the craft’s history, which stretches back more than a millennium. And he found the craft satisfying spiritually, he said. “It was a different

world,” he said. Fujisawa, who said she coordinates about 100 embroidery teachers scattered around the world, said the work is technically difficult and requires patience. Learning the craft has taught her about herself. “For me, growing up, I was not the type of person who would do embroidery,” she said. “I would rather go outside and climb a tree. I was a tomboy. The state of your mind shows in embroidery. ... I learned how to calm myself. It shows in your embroidery. “I had to grow myself to be a good stitcher. That’s what amazed me. Embroidery is not the ultimate goal, but how much you grow inside, how much you change inside. A person becomes more patient.”

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Top, Kazumi Fujisawa, educational director of the Japanese Embroidery Center in Sandy Springs. Above and left, Shuji Tamura, founder and master of the center, in the entryway.

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Saturday, March 12, 7 p.m. TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation hosts the 15th annual Pink Affair, the organization’s signature annual fundraising event, at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North. Enjoy live and silent auctions, music, and food and beverages. Funds support the nonprofit’s financial assistance program and complimentary services for breast cancer patients. $100 per person. 7 Concourse Parkway, Sandy Springs, 30328. Purchase tickets: Find out more by calling 770-360-9271 or emailing:

VANDERDASH 5K Saturday, March 19, 7:30 a.m. It’s time for the eighth annual Vanderlyn Elementary School’s VanderDash 5K/1-mile fun run! 5K begins at 7:30 a.m.; fun run starts at 8:30 a.m. $21 for 5K; $18 for fun run. Funds go toward school improvements and/or student purchases. To register, visit: Email: with questions. 1877 Vanderlyn Dr., Dunwoody, 30338.

COLOR DASH Saturday, March 19, 9 a.m. The Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta hosts the second annual 5K Color Dash. $40. All ages invited. Untimed race. Pets welcome on a leash. Start with a white t-shirt, then add color! Half the proceeds benefit the DSAA. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Rd., NE, Brookhaven, 30319. Find out more and register by going to:

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VISUAL & PERFORMING ARTS Saturday, March 12, 8-11 p.m. Zydeco dance with accordionist Lil’ Malcolm & the Zydeco House Rockers. Free dance lesson 7:15-8 p.m. No partner necessary. All ages welcome. Cajun food for sale. $18; $5 students; $14 ACZA members and active military. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Dr., Sandy Springs, 30328. Questions? Go to: aczadance. org or call 877-338-2420.

CHORAL GUILD Sunday, March 13, 4 p.m. The Choral Guild of Atlanta presents Maurice Durufle’s “Requiem” and Louis Vierne’s “Solemn Mass.” $15 per person; $12 seniors; $5 students. Northside Drive Baptist Church, 3100 Northside Dr., Atlanta, 30305. For additional information, email: info@, call 404-223-6362 or visit:

“THE ADDAMS FAMILY” Thursday, March 17, 7 p.m. Riverwood International Charter School’s Performing Arts Department presents, “The Addams Family,” about creepy kooks in their super-spooky Central Park mansion. Tickets, $10 students; $15 adults. Additional shows: March 18 and 19, 7 p.m.; March 20, 3 p.m. 5900 Raider Dr., Sandy Springs, 30328. Find out more: http://

VOICES OF NOTE Friday, March 18, 8 p.m. The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and the Atlanta Women’s Chorus, collectively known as Voices of Note, perform together in “And Justice For All,” featuring music known for uniting people of different backgrounds and cultures. Tickets: $10-$35. Additional shows: Saturday, March 19, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, 3180 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta, 30305. Buy tickets and get details:



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Saturday, March 19, 7 p.m. The Rotary Club of Sandy Springs invites all to its 21st annual Spring Gala. Highlights include: international food tastings, a bazaar, fine scotch and wine/spirit pulls, raffle prizes, music and entertainment. $125/ person. Black-tie optional. Traditional dress encouraged. Westin Atlanta Perimeter North, 7

Saturday, March 19, 12 p.m. Opening for “The Art of Public Health” exhibition, where Yale public health and art students merged talents to create posters designed to provoke awareness and change behavior on issues such as obesity, breast cancer screening, self-respect, concussions, child abuse, early signs of autism and skin cancer. $5. Oglethorpe University Museum of

MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Out & About | 9

Art, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven, 30319. Learn more:

“FANCY NANCY” Sunday, March 20, 1 p.m. Nancy’s eager to steal the spotlight in her first dance recital. But she’s not picked to be the prima ballerina, so she’s stuck playing a tree. Nancy must become a hero by finding the flair in her new role. For all ages. Tickets, $10-$20. Additional shows: March 20, 3 and 5 p.m. Marcus Jewish Community Center, Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, 5342 Tilly Mill Rd., Dunwoody, 30338. Call 678-812-4002 or visit: to purchase tickets.

LET’S LEARN! FAMILY RECIPES Saturday, March 12, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Family recipes can be nostalgic and a way to learn more about your heritage, but they can also be problematic. Recipes may be faded, sketchy or even unwritten. How can you ensure recipes, stories and photos last as long as possible? This program helps preserve your family’s food traditions. Tickets, $10 for Atlanta History Center members; $15 for non-members. Reservations recommended. 130 West Paces Ferry Rd., NW, Atlanta, 30305. For information, call 404-8144042 or visit:

HIGH SCHOOL PREP Wednesday, March 16, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Begin preparing for high school during the middle school years. Proactively think and move toward high school readiness well before your student actually begins high school. Free. Open to the community. For middle school students and parents. Buckhead Branch Library, 269 Buckhead Ave., NE, Atlanta, 30305. Email: or call 404-8143500 for further information.

WINE AND CHEESE Wednesday, March 16, 7-9 p.m. In this class you‘ll taste five different wines, paired with artisanal cheeses. Learn how each varietal underscores and complements each cheese; which wine to drink with goat cheese, which goes with cow milk cheese; and how to accompany these selections with other breads, fruits or nuts. $40 for members of the Dunwoody Nature Center; $45 non-member. 5343 Roberts Dr., Dunwoody, 30338. Call 770-394-3322 or go to: with questions.

HONEYBEE DAY Saturday, March 19, 11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. Honey is sweet, and so is the Blue Heron Nature Preserve’s Honeybee Day! Join a beekeeper for a peek into the lives of honeybees. See the preserve’s apiaries and learn what it takes to be a beekeeper. $10, adult; $5, child; under 3 free. RSVP to 678-315-0836. 4055 Roswell Rd., Atlanta, 30342. Get more details and register:

VISION BOARD Saturday, March 19, 2-5 p.m. Join others for a vision board party! A vision board is a representation of your dreams, goals and desires. Bring magazines, decorations and keepsakes. Posterboard, markers, scissors, glue and tape provided. Free. Open to the first 25 participants. For adults. Call 770-512-4640 or visit the Dunwoody Branch Library to register. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody, 30338.

“THE MESSENGER” Saturday, March 19, 5:30 p.m. “The Messenger” explores our connection to birds, and warns that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own. Winner of the Jackson Hole Conservation Film Festival’s Best Conservation Film award. General admission tickets, $10. Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Rd., Roswell, 30075. Questions? Go to:

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10 | Out & About

RoadTrips ■

Editor’s note: Spring soon will bloom, so for the first of our periodic Road Trips ar�icles for 2016, we’re spotligh�ing a few special places you can watch �lowers burst into color to bring in the new season. Our Road Trips focus on unusual places and spaces within about a two-hour drive of Sandy Springs, Buckhead, Brookhaven and Dunwoody.

As nature shrugs off winter, it’s time to get out of the house, load the family into the SUV and hit the road. We thought the change of seasons marked a good time to visit

places where flowers really strut their stuff. Here are five Georgia gardens where you can stop and smell the roses ... or the irises ... or the daffodils.

MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Out & About | 11

Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta

Efforts to create an Atlanta garden began in 1973, and the garden opened in 1976. It occupies about 30 acres and five main buildings, and operates as a nonprofit charged with developing and maintaining plant collections for display, education, research and conservation. The garden’s website promises “a tidal wave of color” as tulips, daffodils and crocus bloom in March and April.



Address:1345 Piedmont Avenue NE | Atlanta, GA 30309 Directions: The garden is next to Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Take I-85 south to Exit 84 and follow signs to 14th Street. Turn left on 14th and continue to Piedmont Avenue. Turn left on Piedmont. The garden is on the right. Hours: Tuesdays through Sundays – 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. November through March; 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. April through October; Thursdays – 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. May through October; closed Mondays, except holidays. Cost: $18.95 for adults; $12.95 for children aged 3 to 12; free for children younger than 3. Parking costs $2 an hour up to $15. What it’s known for: Orchids, roses, hydrangeas, a Japanese garden, desert plants, high elevation plants. For more information: 404-876-5859 or


Meet William. A wine enthusiast (married to a wine expert), thinks baseball is the “beautiful game,” active introvert, and world traveler. He’s the guy who gets it all started, the first to greet each client and the last to sign off on a project. He’s always wanted more than “good enough.” He wants it “just right.”

Barnsley Gardens, Adairsville

In the 1840s, Englishman Godfrey Barnsley bought acreage in northwest Georgia and began building a mansion and formal garden for his wife, Julia. She died before the project was completed. Work stopped until Barnsley dreamed that Julia appeared in the garden and told him to finish the project. Barnsley’s descendants lived at the property until 1942. In 1989, Prince Hubertus Fugger Babenhause of Germany bought the land and restored the garden. The property now is home to the Barnsley Resort, which includes cottages, restaurants, a spa and golf course.


Address: 597 Barnsley Gardens Road | Adairsville, GA 30103 Directions: Take I-75 north to Exit 306. Turn left and drive about 2.2 miles on Ga. 140. Turn left at Hall Station Road and travel south approximately 5.5 miles. Take a right at Barnsley Gardens Road (just past Mount Carmel Church). Travel 2.5 miles to the main entrance of the resort on the left. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call first on Saturdays to see if a private event is booked in the gardens. Cost: $10 for adults; $8 for seniors 55 and older; $5 for students and children aged 4 to 11; free for children younger than 4. What it’s known for: 19th century boxwood gardens, wildflower meadow, woodlands gardens. For more information: 1-877-773-2447 or 770-773-7480 or

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain

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Cason J. Callaway, a textile magnate from LaGrange, and his wife, Virginia, conceived of these gardens in the 1930s and began working on them in the 1940s, according to the garden’s website. Open to the public since 1952 and now operated by a foundation, this 2,500-acre resort complex offers golf, water sports and restaurants. The garden features a butterfly house, and claims to be home to one of the world’s largest azalea displays. Peak azalea blooms are expected in late March and early April.


Address: 17800 U.S. Hwy. 27 | Pine Mountain, GA 31822 Directions: I-85 south to I-185 south (Exit 21). Exit at U. S. 27 (Exit 42), turn left and proceed to Pine Mountain, then turn right onto Ga. 354 west and proceed to intersection with Ga. 18. Callaway Gardens’ main entrance is on the opposite side of this intersection. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: $20 to $25 (depending on type of ticket) for adults; $15 to $25 for senior citizens 65 and older; $10 to $15 for children 6 to 12; 5 and younger, free. What it’s known for: Azaleas, butterflies, cycling, seasonal special events. For more information: 1-800-4636990 or


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Smith-Gilbert Gardens, Kennesaw

The 16-acre gardens grew up around the historic Hiram Butler House, which was built in 1880. Robert Gilbert purchased the property in 1970 and over the next 35 years, Gilbert and Richard Smith added the gardens and sculpture collection. The house and gardens, owned by the city of Kennesaw, now feature more than 3,000 species of plants. Address: 2382 Pine Mountain Road | Kennesaw, GA 30152 Directions: Take I-75 north to Exit 269. Head left on Barrett Parkway and go about 1.5 miles to Cobb Parkway. Turn right on Cobb Parkway and go about 3 miles to Pine Mountain Road. Follow Pine Mountain Road and go about a mile to the garden. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Cost: $7 for adults; $6 for senior citizens and active duty military; $5 for children aged 6 to 12. What it’s known for: The garden features 31 sculptures. For more information: 770-919-0248 or www.

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Retired landscape company founder James H. Gibbs started building a combination of 16 gardens in 1980 on 220 acres around his Cherokee County home, the gardens’ website says. He opened the house and gardens to the public in 2012. Address: 1987 Gibbs Drive | Ballground, GA 30107 Directions: Take Ga. 400 north to Ga. 369, turn left and go about 12 miles, turn right on to Yellow Creek Road, go about 6.4 miles to the gardens. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Gate closes at 4 p.m. The garden opens March 1 this year. Cost: $20 for adults; $18 for seniors 65 and older; $10 and for children aged 6 to 17; free for children 5 and younger. What it’s known for: The garden promises millions of daffodils will bloom from March to mid-April. For more information: 770-893-1880 or

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12 | Commentary ■

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My computer died today. I came downstairs to give it my morning greeting, powering it awake while brewing my coffee, and waiting for us to go through our simultaneous early routine of yawning and stretching and coaxing our groggy eyes open until we face each other and I scroll through emails and daily news, mug in hand. But I went downstairs this morning, powered it awake, and nothing happened. The screen remained a blank hazy blue, with no morning greetings, no field-of-lavender screensaver, no desktop. So I rebooted it, and this time the screen was not even an eerie blue, it was solid black -- it was collapse-of-asupernova black. It had contracted the dreaded “Black Screen,” which is the bubonic plague of all things digital. So my husband and I hustled over to the computer store, as I hoped that they could fix it. My husband announced that it was time for me to buy a new laptop. I really felt like that wouldn’t be necessary, reasoning that I’ve only had the thing about 3 1/2 years, which in my mind is just long enough to get it comfortably broken in, but then it dawned on me that computer years are akin to dog years, only about four times longer, meaning that a computer ages roughly 28 times faster than the average human. I was indeed lured into buying a new laptop rather than trying to repair the old one because 1). my laptop is 98 in human years, 2). they said they could transfer all the data by tomorrow night, and 3). I am gullible. I could have been happy about getting a brand-spanking-new computer, but I like my old one; it’s comfortable and familiar, like a favorite pair of jeans. And actually, I think that buying a new PC falls somewhere between buying a new pair of jeans and buying a new house -- and the cost of it falls somewhere be-

tween the two, as well. You know that the new Robin Conte is a writer jeans will and mother of four who never fit like lives in Dunwoody. She the old ones; can be contacted at you know there will be that breaking-in period; and that something about the rise or the length or the back pockets will be “updated.” And you might be excited about a brand new home, but there’s the hassle with the move, and you know that all of your furniture won’t fit and you’ll have to replace some of it, and that there’s always the risk of something getting lost in the move. And there are some things about that old house that you’re just going to miss, like your wallpaper. I like my fields-of-lavender wallpaper. And I’m wondering if it’s been discontinued and will I ever be able to see it again? So currently I’m typing on an old ASUS notebook that I unearthed. It’s about 84 in human years. It is exactly as functional as an actual spiral-bound notebook, but not as responsive and with less storage capacity. Now if you are like me, you manage your home, your business, your finances, your social life, your children’s lives and your distractions from your personal computer. When I sit down to mine each morning, I feel like I’m in the captain’s seat of the Starship Enterprise, and it’s fitted with a cup holder. Equipped now with only my feeble notebook and my smartphone, I feel like I’m running my world from the bottom of a La Brea tar pit, armed with a walkie-talkie and a slide rule. There’s nothing left to do but put on my favorite pair of jeans and wait for moving day.

Robin’s Nest Robin Conte

MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Commentary | 13

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

C O NTA C T US Founder & Publisher Steve Levene Editorial Managing Editor Joe Earle Associate Editor: John Ruch Intown Editor: Collin Kelley Sta�f Writer: Dyana Bagby Copy Editor: Diane L. Wynocker Creative and Production Creative Director: Rico Figliolini Graphic Designer: Harry J. Pinkney Jr. Advertising Director of Sales Development Amy Arno Senior Account Executives Jeff Kremer Janet Porter Account Executives Susan Lesesne Jim Speakman O�fice Manager Deborah Davis Contributors

Opinion/Let’s Fix DeKalb the Right Way As a commissioner, I strongly advocated for the elimination of the office of the CEO for DeKalb County. DeKalb is the only county in Georgia that is governed in this manner, thanks to the political maneuvering by state lawmakers in the 1980s. Then, ironically, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed me to the very position I was trying to eradicate. As Interim CEO, I have lobbied state lawmakers and appointed citizen committees to review DeKalb’s unique structure and get the ball rolling on changing the form of government. One might assume that I would be inclined to favor the legislation introduced in the General Assembly this year by Democrat Rep. Scott Holcomb and Republican Sen. Fran Millar to change the form of government. While Rep. Holcomb’s bill is a step in the right direction, Sen. Millar’s bill takes us backward. The devil is always in the details, and that can make the difference between a good solution and a bad mandate. Rep. Holcomb’s bill, authored as “local legislation” under the long-supported promise of home rule, is the appropriate mechanism to address our form of government. By definition, home rule is the power of a local government to set up its own system of self-government. “Local legislation” would be advanced only by those who represent DeKalb County and only voted on by consent when the full Legislature votes. Therefore, the bill offered by Rep. Holcomb has promise to truly help DeKalb move forward. The other bill, authored by Sen. Millarl, is untenable to me for more than a few reasons. One is that it is authored as “general legislation,” meaning all legislators across the state will determine how DeKalb County is governed, which goes against both the letter and the spirit of the law. Legislators from Albany, Bainbridge, Milledgeville and Valdosta will tell DeKalb residents

what’s best for them. This is wrong and it’s a slippery slope. Remember, nothing in politics is permanent and what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Sen. Millar’s version of the bill goes as far as to draw five commissioners into two commission districts. This will have the net result of getting rid of a minimum of three commissioners at one time. Now regardless of your personal thoughts about the DeKalb Board of Commissioners, this reeks of backroom, dirty politics and goes against everything a democratic and just society stands for in America. I don’t believe that was Sen. Millar’s intention, but it has the affect nonetheless and it does more to divide this county than to bring it together. It’s legislation like this that has been approved over the years which has hamstrung DeKalb, placing our county at a disadvantage to the other 158 counties in the state of Georgia. All of my efforts regarding our form of government have been singularly focused on letting the voters determine through an election whether changing the form of our government is the most appropriate thing to do. Whether voters say yes or no is irrelevant; allowing the voters to have a say is the critical thing. However, the legislation offered by Sen. Millar is not the most appropriate way to accomplish this much-needed task and has too many undisclosed and harmful ramifi-

cations to it. I call for our local DeKalb legislators to seriously consider Rep. Holcomb’s legislation before something is created that kills all of our efforts to move this county forLee May ward and truLee May is the ly see reform in Interim Chief Executive DeKalb County. Officer of DeKalb County I recently announced that I would not be running for office this year as I plan to pursue my calling to serve in the ministry. In my short time as Interim CEO, I am proud of the many accomplishments that we have made. Some of our accomplishments include improving the county’s bond rating, increasing the county’s budgetary reserves to more than one month’s balance, overhauling purchasing and contracting policies, getting rid of the P-cards, ethics reform, giving employees the first raise since 2008 and giving the first property tax cut in a decade. I plan to leave this house to my successor in a better place than I found it. As it pertains to the position of the CEO and the form of DeKalb County’s government, I am in exactly the same place where I started. It needs to go, but it should not be handled carelessly.

Panel discussion on county manager planned

A panel of county officials from Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties is scheduled to discuss how a county manager form of government might operate in DeKalb County, the county announced. The discussion is scheduled for the Maloof Auditorium, Commerce Drive, Decatur, on March 8, starting at 6:30 p.m. Blueprints2, a group of DeKalb citizens who are studying forms of government in the region, is sponsoring the meeting.

Robin Conte, Phil Mosier, Megan Volpert

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Sen. Fran Millar responds to DeKalb CEO Lee May We have waited 10 years for the Democrats to deal with abolishing the CEO position in DeKalb, and I dropped my version of the Holcomb local bill as general legislation after Senate Democratic Minority Leader Steve Henson said verbally – and then in print – that Holcomb’s local bill was going nowhere. It is time to let the people vote. Also, Gov. Nathan Deal supports elimination of the position he had to fill when the prior CEO went to prison. Sen. Fran Millar

14 | Education ■

Cross Keys High students plan Buford Highway corridor’s future Continued from page 1 day.’” Several students said the class project is eye-opening. They’re excited about some government ideas, like pedestrian safety fixes and the proposed Peachtree Creek Greenway park. Other ideas aren’t going over as well, such as Brookhaven’s 2014 study that called for rebranding the corridor as “Buford Boulevard” and replacing affordable apartments with “mixed-income” housing. “Why are they going to change the name? We’ve been Buford Highway for so long,” said Lisa Sims, whose family lives on Clairmont Road. “Imagine your name is Jim and you change it to Tom. Everybody’s still going to call you Jim.” “I live in Brookhaven…Every little chance they get, they tear something down” and replace it with houses her family couldn’t afford, Sims added. “When I was younger, I used to live in those apartments. We didn’t have much money,” said Johnathan Vargas, summing up his concern: “How these people are making changes to our community and most of them don’t even live here.” The Buford Highway Project assignment came out of Morris’s conversations with Marian Liou of We Love BuHi, a


Cross Keys High teacher Rebekah Morris, who is leading her class in the “Buford Highway Project.”

new program aiming to promote and preserve the corridor’s cultural diversity. Liou praised the class for improving community engagement in an immigrant community with “language and cultural barriers and perhaps a lack of a strong civic tradition.” “I think empowering students to become active stakeholders in their own lives is especially important in areas like Buford Highway because they often mediate the world for their parents,” Liou said. “These students can take what they’ve learned home and share that enthusiasm and sense of ownership with their parents.” Several students said language barriers

Mercedes USA unveils the look of its planned office campus Mercedes-Benz USA released the first drawings of its forthcoming new headquarters building at Abnerathy and Barfield roads in Sandy Springs. The glass-walled, 225,000-square-foot building reflects the company’s new collaborative workspace style. MBUSA says construction will begin this spring and continue into early 2018.


From left, Cross Keys students Dinamis Roblero-Lopez, Cindy Ramirez, Zujey Ramirez and Faysal Ando gather around laptops displaying their Buford Highway presentations.

are an issue for their parents, who speak Spanish or, for one student’s family, the Ethiopian language Amharic. With no translators available at most government meetings, that keeps their families home. “Maybe they think no one would pay attention to their opinion because they don’t speak the language,” said Zujey Ramirez. “But I think Cross Keys students Lisa Sims, left, and Johnathan Vargas they should [be included] discuss the Buford Highway Project in their classroom. because they’re the ones who live here.” like to ride bikes on Buford, but are afraid The students have no hesitation about to. Cindy Ramirez said she goes to Chamsharing their opinions. As part of the blee’s Dresden Park to ride her bike safely. project, some of them attended a recent The students agreed that cultural diDoraville City Council meeting to hear the versity is their favorite thing about Buford city’s development plans and to share their Highway—and that their biggest worry is own. losing it to displacement and gentrificaAnd the student visions, while still in tion. rough draft form, are brimming with ideas. “Diversity, culture—I guess that’s what Architecture and the environment are makes a community,” said Zujey Ramirez, focuses of one presentation, created by a raising Brookhaven’s proposal to redevelop team of students, including Leticia Arcila, apartment buildings. Faysal Ando, Dinamis Roblero-Lopez, Cin“I have questions, because what would dy Ramirez and Zujey Ramirez. They call happen to the people in the buildings right for a mix of modern architecture and annow? Would they be kicked out of their tique stores, along with a local art musehomes or placed in another city?” um. “We need a plan to also keep people More green space, trails and trees with here,” said Roblero-Lopez. decorative lighting are other ideas. Ando As the students work on their proposnoted that many Buford Highway apartals, Morris is arranging opportunities for ments are “like a forest” in the back, but them to share their ideas with elected ofhave barren front yards. The students offer ficials, the Atlanta Regional Commission some ideas for fundraisers to pay for it all and activist groups like the MARTA Army. and solar panels to power it. She also aims to hold an open house for Ando also joined students Vladimir Casparents, officials and the general public to tillo and Osmany Gaitan in a street safety view the final presentations. plan. It’s personal for Ando, who lives on Meanwhile, the students said that a stretch of Buford that has a dirt trail instudying their changing community is alstead of a sidewalk. “I’ve almost gotten run ready changing them. “It feels like doing over a couple times,” he said. something that will alter our lives,” Ando Most of the students said they would said. BK

MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Community | 15

Buckhead residents unhappy to have mail labeled as city of Brookhaven BY DYANA BAGBY

Some residents who live in Sandy Springs and Buckhead are now receiving mail designating them as Brookhaven residents, leading an Atlanta City Councilman to ask that they contact him for assistance. Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook said he is receiving numerous calls and emails from his constituents telling him that their mail is coming to them labeled as being in the city of Brookhaven. They live within the 30319 ZIP code, he said. That ZIP code covers Brookhaven. “Several people are complaining to my office, and they are startled and somewhat offended,” Shook said. More significantly, he added, his constituents are telling him they are being summoned to serve on jury duty in DeKalb rather than Fulton County, they are having problems renewing their driver’s licenses and are also having problems with credit card transactions. “I understand it’s a matter of municipal vanity to have your own ZIP code, but it horrifies me that this may be creating serious problems,” Shook said.

Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst is open to working with Shook and the U.S. Postal Service to work out a remedy, said city spokesperson Ann Marie Quill. “This postal change occurred under the previous administration, and we were under the impression that it meant the use of ‘Brookhaven’ in mailings was merely an option for those in our city limits,” she said. “We certainly did not intend to cause any harm for any Atlanta residents.” Brookhaven, which borders the eastern edge of Buckhead, incorporated in

December 2012. The city then began the process of having the postal service recognize 30319 and 30329 in Brookhaven as a deliverable address; the status was achieved in October 2014 with help from

U.S. Rep. Tom Price. Shook urges Atlantans who have been “victimized by the change” to contact him at

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16 | Community ■

Construction cranes: Who keeps them safe?

A crane in action at the Three Alliance Center Development at Pharr Road and Maple Drive in Buckhead on Feb. 26.

Continued from Page 1 Dick or Harry into the crane as operator,” said Jason Kenna, Heede Southeast general manager. At Crane Safety Associates of America, a crane inspection and operator training business in McDonough, Ga., president and CEO Shane Adams has


seen it all. He displays one scary inspection souvenir used in training— a crane’s pulley wheel, or sheave, with the pattern of a steel rope imprinted into the metal by the massive pressure of an improperly handled load. But Adams said that giant construction cranes don’t make him nervous.

Shane Adams, president and CEO of Crane Safety Associates of America in McDonough, Ga., on a training course.

It’s the truck cranes operated by small, local businesses that give him worries, he said. “I have more concern with a guy going out there pulling a tree off your house,” Adams said. Benjamin Ross, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s deputy regional administrator for Enforcement Programs in the Southeast, agrees. “I see a lot of things that should not happen,” Ross said, but most of those violations are on small home-delivery truck cranes, he said. In his 38 years on the job, Ross said, he has not seen a fatal tower crane accident in the Southeast. But he also knows the stakes are high, because he did see a fatal crane accident early in his career in Cincinnati, Ohio. He said an overloaded crane’s arm collapsed onto a street, crushing cars and killing four, including a 5-year-old child. “Any failure in a crane itself— there’s no return,” Ross said. “It’s kind of like an airplane.”

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The airplane comparison comes up often in industry talk about cranes. Both are complex machines under enormous stresses and with high stakes for failure. And like airplanes, cranes undergo regular and complex inspections for structural or mechanical problems. There’s a daily spot inspection for any obvious problems, usually performed by the crane’s operator. “That’s their butt up in the seat,” said Kenna. “They want to go over it top to bottom and make sure it’s safe.” Then there are formal inspections


done roughly once a month, usually by in-house inspectors who keep a file of their findings. Heede does theirs every six weeks. “We go over our crane with a very fine-tooth comb,” Kenna said. OSHA requires a formal inspection at least annually, sometimes more often if a crane is heavily used, and that is often performed by an NCCCO-accredited independent company like Crane Safety Associates. OSHA may perform its own inspection, too, but usually only arrives if there’s a complaint or accident. “You inspect every nook and cranny of the crane,” said Adams, whose company currently focuses on mobile cranes. Any issues are written up and given to the crane owner to return with a signed note about whether repairs were made, Adams said. Sometimes a crane owner tries to bully the inspectors into getting a result he or she wants, Adams said. On a recent inspection in Tennessee, Adams said, the owner “ended up running [the inspector] off because the list of deficiencies was too long.” But when a crane does fail, it’s usually not a pure equipment failure, the experts said. “The majority of the time, it’s human error,” Adams said. Kenna said a tower crane is designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and is anchored to the ground with a concrete cube so massive it often is left there as a permanent part of the building’s foundation. But it could come down if someone overloaded it or made a mistake while erecting it. “We feel a tower crane is probably the most over-engineered piece of equipment on a construction site,” he said. “But the human element…that’s the wild card.” BK

MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Community | 17


A tower crane working on the City Springs site near Roswell Road and Mount Vernon Highway in Sandy Springs. Right, a crane on the State Farm project in Dunwoody.

‘A driver’s license for crane operators’

That’s why a movement toward professional operator training has been underway since NCCCO’s founding 20 years ago amid concerns about outdated rules and accidents. Today, only 17 states and six American cities require crane operators to be licensed. And OSHA’s attempt to establish a national certification has stalled over debates about “qualified” (experienced) versus “certified” (classroom-tested) operators. Technically speaking, virtually any adult in Georgia could operate a crane without any training. But in practice, any major company will require NCCCO certification, which has become “like a driver’s license for crane operators,” Kenna said. Workers who give signals to the operator or hook loads onto the crane typically also must be certified.

NCCCO requires both classroom and practical tests, as well as physicals. It has a substance abuse policy and code of ethics, and operators must recertify every five years. The written test includes math, crane jargon and calculation of how much loads a crane can carry. At his McDonough facility, Adams explained the practical test—a zigzag course between poles that have tennis balls mounted on them. Operators must maneuver a chain and a heavy weight through the course, losing points for knocking a ball down or bumping a pole. Adams notes that, much like with a regular driver’s license, testing is not the same as training or experience. The industry prizes “seat time”— the hours of real-world experience operators get over the years. But, Adams said, “no employer in his right mind is going to give you a million-dollar crane” based on a certification card

alone; they’ll require a display of the operator’s skills on-site, too. “We think certification has proved itself,” said Graham Brent, the CEO of NCCCO. “It’s been demonstrated to save lives.” It works for Heede, according to Kenna, who said his company has never had a significant crane accident, a claim partly backed by recent OSHA records. “Knock on wood,” he added with a rap on his desk.

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18 | Education â–

Battling in Buckhead PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER

The second annual Adidas West Stride Buckhead Invitational took place on Feb. 27 at North Atlanta High School, with over 600 athletes from 14 local high schools competing in track and field events. Below, Chamblee Charter High School senior Elana BrownSoler takes to the air during the high jump.

Above, Dunwoody High School sophomore Samantha Cameron, front center, runs in the second heat of the girl’s 1-mile race.

Above, Riverwood International Charter High School junior Elizabeth Graves, left, and senior Anna Hayden prepare before the second heat of the 1-mile race. Hayden came in second in the race.

North Springs Charter High School freshman Jake Rubin clears the bar during the pole vault.

Above, Riverwood junior Jada Dunn takes on the high jump, winning a gold medal in the event.

North Atlanta High School senior Tanashia Trice sets out on her leg of the 4 x 100 meter relay. BK

Education | 19

MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016 ■

Ashford Park Elementary students heading to reading bowl state finals How the competition works:

Coach David Somerson with the Ashford Park Elementary Reading Bowl team at the Feb. 27 divisional championship.


Ashford Park Elementary School is on the way to the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl Organization state finals after mopping up the competition in Jasper, Ga. Ten Ashford Park students, who excel in reading and beating other teams at the buzzer, already have a regional championship and divisional championship under their belts after dominating at matches on Jan. 30 where they were the best of 55 DeKalb elementary schools; on Feb. 13 they were the best of 15 metro Atlanta schools and then took home the divisional title on Feb. 27 by easily defeating five other teams. On March 19, the team travels to the University of Georgia to compete to be the best reading bowl team in the state. “I’m astounded by what they’ve achieved,” said Coach David Somerson. “Everyone cried” after winning Feb. 27, he added. These tears probably won’t last, though. The students will be wearing sunglasses, carrying their shiny trophies and riding in a stretch limo to Maggia-


no’s on March 4. Somerson said he told the students if they made it to the state finals he would treat them to a night like no other and is following through with his promise. “The kids are elated,” he said. Those on the Ashford Park Elementary School team are Gil Slomka, Melissa Olvera-Torres, Kyndal Duff, Haven Somerson, Jordan Spindel, Julia Mansour, Vedhika Krishnan, Mary Entrekin, Handley Greeley and Kate Lim. Somerson was asked in October to take on coaching duties by longtime coach Dr. Leticia Ekhaml, Ashford Park Elementary’s media specialist, after she became sick and had to take an extended leave of absence. “Because Reading Bowl was her passion, Dr. Ekhaml immediately called me and asked if I could fill in as Reading Bowl coach for the year, so they would be able to have a team,” Somerson said. “I am a proud parent of one of the Reading Bowl students, Haven Somerson. Long story short, I had no idea the experience would be so ingratiating for all involved.”

Elementary and middle school students must read the current Georgia Children’s Book Award Nominees. This year there were 17 books for elementary students. Each school participates in six rounds. Each round consists of 10 questions. Teams receive 10 points for each answer. There are no penalties for wrong answers. There are five members on a team and up to five alternates. The winners are determined in the following manner: The teams with the highest total points from all six of their rounds will be the winners. In case of a tie, the teams who are tied are co-winners. Winning teams will receive a trophy for their school. In the case of a tie, neither team will receive the trophy that day. Another trophy will be purchased and engraved and presented to each of those teams at a later agreed upon date. There will be a first place, second place and third place winning team (teams in case of a tie). The 17 books totaled 5,100 pages, Somerson said, and that meant he spent more than 300 hours preparing 1,800 practice questions. “Over an 18-week period, I asked the students these 1,800 questions to the tune of about 200 a day every Tuesday and Thursday after school from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the school’s library. We’d practice by using a buzzer system the same way they do in competition,” he explained. “Probably the most amazing part is how each student rose to the occasion and studied for what is estimated to be over 200 hours in five months,” he said. “In the end, it is their confidence that has allowed for them to do so well. At this point, they all feel part of one team with one goal. In addition, they have all bonded and have become great friends who will never forget this valuable learning experience.” Ashford Park Elementary School will square off in a head-to-head competition with the Division 2 winner at University of Georgia on Saturday, March 19. For more:

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Editor’s note: With this issue, Reporter Newspapers starts a new regular feature to showcase the work of outstanding teachers and school officials in our communities. Like our recurring Standout Student features, these Exceptional Educator profiles will focus on people who have been identified by their schools as influential teachers and administrators. We start with Jill Stedman, a history and government instructor at Holy Spirit Preparatory School in Sandy Springs, who has been teaching for 19 years. If you would like to recommend an Exceptional Educator, please email

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Q: What attracted you to teaching at first? A: During my first two years of college, I competed on my university’s competitive speech and debate team. As my coursework became more intense, I decided I needed to give up competition because it required so much travel. However, I did not want to give up my involvement in competitive public speaking. I was invited to serve as volunteer speech and debate coach at Georgetown Prep. I had recently completed an internship on Capitol Hill, and though I have always loved politics, I did not feel the same sense of fulfillment in my work for my congressman as I did when I was coaching. Soon after, I decided I would be happiest teaching the subject about which I was most passionate – government and politics. Q: Has the appeal of teaching changed for you over 19 years? What keeps you going year a�ter year? A: Not at all. There are moments when teaching where everyone is so intensely engaged in the story of U.S. history, wanting to know the outcome of the event, that the desire “to know” is almost palpable. Those are the best moments. When a teacher can craft lessons in such a way as to generate that strong desire for knowledge, the teacher has the ability to get students to really dig deeply into a subject. It is those cliffhanger moments in a lesson when the students are on the edge of their seats with that desire “to know” that keep me in the classroom. Q: What do you think makes a great teacher? A: Great teachers love the subject area that they teach, but even more so, they are passionate about sharing their content expertise with their students. Enthusiasm is contagious, but that enthusiasm must be channeled into growth. Beyond enthusiasm, a great teacher knows how to share their knowledge in a way that makes learning accessible, manageable and attainable for students. A great teacher is eager to find ways to support and promote each student’s learning potential. Q: What do you want to see in your students? A: I want my students to be well informed, engaged citizens. I hope they will seek knowledge and truth, and I hope they are courageous enough to stand up for that which they believe to be right. I hope they will actively serve those who are in need and that they will use their voices to promote polices that create a fair, just society. I believe my role is to help my students develop the skills that they will need to fulfill this potential. Q: How do you engage your students? A: I try to be very cognizant of the fact that students have different preferred means of learning, so I use a variety of learning strategies and activities within each lesson. I also make a very conscious effort to use a variety teaching materials (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) with the goal of addressing multiple learning modalities within each lesson. Q: What do you hope your students take away from your class? A: The day after the Iowa Caucus, my AP Government class reviewed the caucus results. My students were remarking on the closeness of the results between Clinton and Sanders when one of my student’s exclaimed, “and people say that one vote doesn’t matter!” This same student is so excited to cast her first vote on Super Tuesday; she plans to be present when her precinct opens. On my classroom bookshelf, I keep a framed quote from President Kennedy that reads, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” I hope my students take away the belief that their civic actions matter, that they know that they can make a difference, and that they are inspired to try. Note: This article was edited for space. For a full version of the questions and responses, go to BK

MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016

Dining Out | 21

With Beatles tunes and smoked trout beignets, Venkman’s rocks off to a strong start t

Dining Out Megan Volpert

Megan Volpert lives in Decatur, teaches in Roswell and writes books about popular culture.



non Klee, formerly the bookie at Eddie’s Attic, entrusted with engineering success behind the scenes. Despite a less-than-stellar table far from the stage, we nevertheless got psyched for the menu, on which nearly everything is suitable for sharing, and more than half the items are either vegetarian or gluten-free. We dug in on two starters, the mushroom lettuce cups and smoked trout beignets. The former involves a heaping pile of crushed peanuts under which is a bowl of mushrooms treated like bacon with a tangy BBQ vinaigrette. Playful, crunchy, and even sort of refreshing because of the little gem lettuce now fashionably circulating everywhere. But those beignets were the best dish of the night, no question. A good beignet of any kind is often hard to find in Atlanta, and a seafood beignet even more so. The best I’ve had is Anne Quatrano’s crab beignet at Fish Camp in Ponce City Market. But Melvin is a New Orleans native,

rant Re



Where does a 30-something go for food and music now? I’ve been on the lookout for a place that can cover all my bases: above average bar, food that I would eat even if there were no music, and good music. Venkman’s is going to be a huge success for the Old Fourth Ward and Atlanta at large, if it can keep its heads on straight. One head is Chef Nick Melvin, who did great things at Serenbe, then Parish, then Empire State South, then Rosebud all in the blink of an eye. Another head belongs to Nick Niaspodziani and Peter Olson, better known as the bandleader and bassist of Yacht Rock Revue, the Venkman’s house band and unquestionably Atlanta’s reigning cover band. The triumvirate rounds out with Rhian-

Continued on page 22

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22 | Dining Out ■

With music and food, Venkman’s rocks off to a strong start Continued from page 21 and Venkman’s is consequently doing it better with a fishier fish and a fearlessly creamy center. The star of the dish is an apple ketchup. It’s not apple butter; it’s got some cider vinegar in there for a smoother sauce and a polite little kick at the end. For entrees, we had the chili shrimp and burger with fries. Both showcased Melvin’s refined, precise sense of sours: one of his overall best assets. The chili shrimp was a Chinese-Southern fusion that displayed surprising balance, while the burger’s fancy combo of pickle slaw, dill mustard and tomato jam added loads of flavor and variety without a palate burnout. When a manager stopped by to see how we were doing, I asked him to cough up the secret to getting a table. If walking in 30 minutes before doors open with tickets purchased 30 days beforehand doesn’t get me to the front row, what does it take? He checked for cancellations and immediately moved us to a table, notably skirting my question. As it turns out, the tables aren’t front row anyway because there will be a gaggle of 30-somethings danc-

ing in front of the stage as soon as the band gets going. The crowd here is more classy than at Andrews Upstairs and less attentive than at Eddie’s Attic. On this night, the band was doing the Beatles. If you shut your eyes, the fidelity of sound is incredible. Yacht Rock Revue has several extra players beyond the Fab Four and several extra instruments (theremin, surprise!), but they replicate the original work thoroughly enough that a sing-along quickly ensues. There was a definite good time vibe floating over the crowd. Venkman’s, located at 740 Ralph McGill Blvd., reallly does seem poised to be the best of all possible worlds, though they need some time to work out the ticketing and service kinks. That’s not a reason to stay home, however. The place has gotten a strong start and I’m going back momentarily myself, to drill down into their extensive wine list while seeing the world’s greatest Fleetwood Mac cover band for $8. For more information on Venkman’s: 470-2256162 or


Left, chili shrimp, a Chinese-Southern dish, displaying a “surprising balance.” Above, smoked trout beignets with apple ketchup. Previous page, the burger with pickle slaw, dill mustard and tomato jam.


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Quick Bites Castellucci Hospitality Group will move its Italian restaurant concept Double Zero from Sandy Springs to the former Ink & Elm space in Emory Village in June 2016. For more information, visit Sprouts Farmers Market has opened in Morningside at 1845 Piedmont Ave. The 30,000-square-foot store offers fresh, natural and organic foods. For more information, visit SproutsAtlantaMorningside. Chris Edwards has been named executive chef of Restaurant Eugene in Buckhead. Leaving his post helming the kitchen at Holeman and Finch Public House, Edwards heads home to Restaurant Eugene where he originally became sous chef in March 2014. Pe�ite Auberge Restaurant, 2935 North Druid Hills Road, is offering a New Orleans Food Festival menu every Offering you: evening, from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through March 12. This special dining event of• Compassionate and fers acremation Cajun appetizer, soup, entrees and burial services • Same day cremation services available • Comfortable private visitation “BecauseOffering Your Pet Isyou: a Member of the Family” rooms • Compassionate

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Dining Out | 23

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MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016 ■

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Educa�ion | 27

MAR. 4 - MAR. 17, 2016 ■





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30 | Public Safety ■

Deadly crashes lead Brookhaven police to review vehicle pursuit policies BY DYANA BAGBY

Two people died in a head-on crash after they fled a Georgia State Patrol officer on patrol on Buford Highway in Brookhaven. Their deaths were among several recent metro Atlanta collisions that have some local law enforcement agencies rethinking their vehicle pursuit policies. At about 10 p.m. on Feb. 25, a Georgia State Patrol officer attempted to pull over a 2002 Saturn SL on Buford Highway for speeding. The Saturn driver did not stop and the trooper initiated a chase. The Saturn ended up attempting to elude the trooper by speeding away north on I-85 South at Clairmont Road. The trooper monitored the speeding Saturn from I-85

north when he witnessed the Saturn crash head-on into an Infiniti. “The trooper continued north, turned around, and located the crashed Saturn. The Saturn struck a black 2012 Infiniti G37 head-on. The driver of the Infiniti, Lisa Jackson, 52, of Alpharetta, was transported to Grady Hospital with minor injuries,” GSP reported. A woman in the back seat of the Saturn was seriously injured and transported to Grady Hospital. The male driver and front seat passenger of the Saturn were killed. Although Brookhaven P olice did not take part in the Feb. 25 chase, according to a spokesperson, the department is reviewing its policies following recent metro Atlanta high-profile law enforcement pursuits that led to crashes and deaths of

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innocent people, including a grandmother The chase ended when the SUV crashed and her two grandchildren. into another vehicle, killing a 76-year-old “Our chief asked us to update our polgrandmother and her grandchildren, ages icy. We’re not cutting it altogether, but it 12 and 6. will likely be a little more restrictive,” said An elderly couple died Jan. 28 after their Brookhaven Major Brandon Gurley. vehicle was struck by a car being chased The department’s current police allows by Johns Creek Police. Police arrested the for police to chase felony suspects and sefather and son who were in the car that rious misdemeanors as well as hit-and-run struck the couple. They now face drug suspects where serious injury or deaths charges as well as vehicular homicide and have occurred, Gurley said. DUI charges. Other caveats come into play when These deaths and others catalyzed State deciding to chase a suspect, Gurley said, Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro) to introsuch as the time of duce legislation Feb. day, traffic condi22 to provide a stantions, weather condidard for state, countions and the pursuty and city agencies ing officer’s training. that authorize police When a chase be- Our chief asked us to update pursuits. gins, it is constantly our policy. We’re not cutting “The public wants monitored by the ofsomething done,” ficer and his or her it altogether, but it will likely Davenport said. “We monitoring supervi- be a little more restrictive. support the police, sor to weigh the nebut we want to make cessity of apprehen- MAJOR BRANDON GURLEY sure no innocent BROOKHAVEN POLICE sion, Gurley said. lives are lost. We are Dunwoody Potrying to make sure lice only allow police they do not endanger chases in instances the lives of the pubof forcible felonies, such as rape, murder, lic.” robbery, assaults and shootings, said Chief But her bill did not pass out of the PubBilly Grogan. lic Safety Committee this year. The law Sandy Springs Police Department’s would have made it standard practice that policy, developed using standards estabstate, county and city law enforcement lished by the Georgia Chiefs of Police and could only pursue those suspected of murthe Commission on Accreditation for Law der, aggravated battery, kidnapping, false Enforcement Agencies, states “vehicle purimprisonment “or any offense that creates suits may be initiated only when danger an immediate threat of death or serious to the public created by the pursuit is less bodily injury to another person or substanthan the imminent or potential danger to tial threat to the safety of another person.” the public should the suspect remain at “Things have recently gotten out of large.” SSPD officers are instructed that hand,” Davenport said. “We are not trying “the more serious or dangerous the crime, to run the police departments. But if the the greater the consideration to pursue.” chase involves something frivolous, call off For the Atlanta Police Department, vethe chase.” hicle pursuit is only allowed when one of three standards are met by the fleeing sus‘Most chases over quickly’ pect: the suspect possesses a deadly weapDunwoody chief Grogan acknowledgon or device that can cause serious bodily es most chases do not end up in captures. injury; the officer reasonably believes the “Most chases are pretty short and are over suspect poses an immediate violent threat pretty quickly,” he said. to the officer or others; or there is probable “We’ve initiated a few in the past. The cause to believe the suspect has threatened majority of them have been terminated to or seriously injured another. by the officer or the supervisor. We take Many factors come into play when deinto account many factors such as traffic, ciding to pursue a vehicle, said Brookhavweather, time of day,” he said. en’s Gurley. “It’s a constant balancing act,” In 2015, Brookhaven police were inhe said. “Is the risk worth the need to apvolved in 17 pursuits. Most were canceled prehend?” either by the supervisor or the officer. One involved an intoxicated juvenile driving without a license who refused to stop for ‘Public wants police until he pulled into the driveway of something done’ his parent’s home and surrendered. That risk is on many people’s minds af“We stayed at the speed limit or below ter two police chases – one beginning in in this case; we never got over 35 miles per College Park and another in Johns Creek hour,” Gurley said. But anytime an officer – resulted in five deaths within a few days flips on their blue lights to go after another span in January. car, it’s counted as a pursuit. On Jan. 31, College Park Police pursued Offi cers pursued several erratic and an SUV believed to have been stolen from reckless drivers who refused to stop for a hotel near the Hartsfield-Jackson airport. BK

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Grogan said. Grogan said he had been in “tons” of police chases himself, dating back to the 1980s. Although none of Dunwoody’s police chases have ever ended with an arrest, Grogan said, arrests have happened when an officer later recognized a suspect or gets the license plate number leading to the identification of a suspect. Over time, he said, law enforcement leaders looked at the outcomes and the rewards versus the risks of high speed chases and made the decision that more restrictions were necessary. “The rules now were not present then,” Grogan said. “Previously, all law enforcement chased everyone for any reason.” The times Grogan was involved in chases were “pretty stressful,” he said. “You don’t want to wreck, don’t want to get hurt and you don’t want to hurt anyone else,” he said. “But you don’t want to let the bad guy get away either.”


blue lights, but those chases were typically called off after just a few minutes. In another instance, an officer ran a tag number to a car that came back as stolen. The officer sped after the car and ended up in a 100-mile-per-hour chase on I-85 before the police supervisor called off the chase due to icy rain conditions. Another incident ended when the suspect vehicle being chased crashed into a utility pole. The passenger was arrested at the scene, but the driver fled on foot; he was later identified and arrested. Only one chase ended in the apprehension of the suspect – officers were able to use a “rolling roadblock,” a move in which several police cars surround the suspect to stop him. The driver was charged with DUI and was driving on sidewalks, posing a serious risk, Gurley said.


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03-04-2016 Brookhaven Reporter  
03-04-2016 Brookhaven Reporter