03-16-18 Sandy Springs

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MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 • VOL. 12 — NO. 6


Sandy Springs Reporter


► Community survey: Should teachers be armed? PAGE 12 ► Battling hunger, one backpack at a time PAGE 21


March 24-25 | See pages 16-18

Communities of Faith Pages 24-25

City goes to court over vacant house, but neighbors want long-term fix

Clowning around for the college bound

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Old Woodbine Road is a classic Sandy Springs cul-de-sac, curving about threequarters of a mile among green yards and fine homes. Near the end, at Number 1115, is a ranch house that Sandy Springs Code Enforcement says is a different sort of Sandy Springs classic: a vacant property that years of court appearances have yet to resolve. On a recent visit, a storage container and several full trash bags were in the driveway, along with two vehicles, though no one answered the door. Neighbors say the container had been there for months and the vehicles, one of which had a Gwinnett County See CITY on page 20


Getting into the spirit of the “Under the Big Top” theme of this year’s Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce gala were Mark Rosenthal, a board member and Northside Hospital executive, and wife Phyllis. The event, held March 10 at Sherwood Event Hall, benefits the Donna Adams Mahaffey Scholarship Fund, which helps send female Sandy Springs high school students to college. This year’s recipients were Alycia Cooper and Tema Mansam. Next year, the fund will select four students for scholarships instead of two.

Coping with a Crisis: Opioid addiction in the suburbs EXCLUSIVE SERIES

After eight O.D.s and a prison scare, a Dunwoody resident helps others on the road to getting clean BY MAX BLAU


hris Zollman’s road to recovery started with a swift act of mercy, continued through a treatment program in Sandy Springs, and ended with him quitting drugs. Now the Dunwoody resident devotes his life to helping others walk down the same path — a path that for many is often muddied by shady operators, controversial treatments, and pricey therapies. Six years ago, Zollman was consuming $100 worth of opioids a day and sold

even more to support his habit. He’d survived eight overdoses — the last time, paramedics found him passed out behind the wheel of his car near Bobby Dodd Stadium. The streak would soon be broken: His drug charges carried a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison. “I was either going to get clean or kill myself,” Zollman thought. But a Fulton County judge offered Zollman probation as a first-time offender. “You’re very lucky to be alive,” the judge said. It came with a condition: finish treat-

ment. He was sent up to a rehab center in north Georgia. That was followed by a stay at LifeLine Atlanta, a sober living residence founded by Trey Miller, a Sandy Springs resident who was also in active recovery. Zollman stayed there for six months as he strung together drug-free days earning minimum wage at a local Jimmy John’s. For two more years, Zollman worked at LifeLine, helping out with the new clients. Inspired by LifeLine’s mission, he started thinking about starting his own facility. See AFTER on page 26

Sandy Springs prepares to join hundreds of local governments in suing the opioid industry. See story, page 27 ►

Proposal for new road through park falls flat with residents BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Design options to replace Sandy Springs’ Mount Vernon Highway/Johnson Ferry Road intersection with a new street “grid” or a dual roundabout drew mixed reactions from a crowd at a March 8 community meeting. Coloring many of the opinions was widespread opposition to the grid option’s new four-lane cut-through street that would run through what is now a Sandy Springs Branch Library park. “There’s a hundred trees. My wife went out and counted,” said Greg Thompson, who lives on Johnson Ferry near the proposed cut-through road’s southern end, about the park impact. “It’s not neighborhood-friendly.” See PROPOSAL on page 30

2 | Community

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Civil liberties groups urge U.S. Supreme Court to decide city sex-toy case BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Major civil liberties groups are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to decide a lawsuit over a Sandy Springs ban on sex-toy sales that they say could make basic rights unenforceable. Among those who filed briefs asking the court to hear Davenport v. Sandy Springs are the Reason Foundation, a prominent libertarian think tank; the Student Press Law Center, which defends student journalists; the DKT Liberty Project, a Washington, D.C.-based civil liberties group; and a “Restoring Religious Freedom Project” at Emory University School of Law. A decision to accept or reject the case should come in April. The case involves a lawsuit by the bookstore Inserection and two individuals challenging a city law banning the sale of “sexual devices.” Last year, the city quietly deleted the law on the eve of a U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that appeared likely to rule the law an unconstitutional infringement of civil liberties. As a result, the court ruled the case moot. But the plaintiffs argue it should continue with nominal damages. Emory Law professor Sarah Shalf, who filed the brief from Emory and the Student Press Law Center, said that concern is about government getting a free pass at violating the Constitution by deleting a law at the last minute of a court challenge. “It’s like when my older brother used to pinch me when my parents weren’t looking: If they caught him in the act, he would stop — but I wanted him to be admonished for pinching me at all,” she said. The city has already faced a similar argument in another adult business case argued in early March before the Georgia Supreme Court, with a decision pending. In Maxim Cabaret v. Sandy Springs, local strip clubs are challenging zoning laws, but the city argues the challenges are moot due to later repeals. In the sex-toy case, the city similarly argues the case is not only moot, but that no one was ever harmed because the law was never enforced. That argument has drawn the attention of civil libertarians and law schools, who think the Supreme Court might be willing to take the case. The lawsuit was handled

by local lawyers previously, but the petition to the Supreme Court was filed in December by Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. “There was a lot of interest in this issue from lots of different people who are public interest lawyers who litigate against governments,” said David Goldberg, who is lead lawyer on the petition as an instructor at Stanford’s clinic. The Supreme Court accepts only a tiny percentage of the cases submitted to it for review, Goldberg said. But, he added, the sex-toy case involves a controversy among federal courts that the Supreme Court is likely to have to decide eventually. In their briefs filed with the Supreme Court, the civil liberties groups argue that the case could render any rights that don’t have a clear monetary value as unenforceable, including intangible property rights, prisoners’ rights, and any First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments rights. The brief from the Emory Restoring Religious Freedom Project and the Student Press Law Center argues that “these rights will be relegated to second-class status – unenforceable so long as the government knows when to quit.” The city argues that the lower court’s decision does nothing to change current law and protections of civil liberties. However, City Attorney Dan Lee said during a recent update to the City Council about the cases that he believes the briefs will be influential on the Supreme Court as it considers whether to accept the case. Meanwhile, the city may be opening yet another front in its legal battles with sexually oriented businesses. At that same March 6 City Council meeting, Lee said the city believes local strip clubs have not been paying proper license fees and excise taxes to the city and will pursue legal action for a total of $240,000 in fees and $400,000 in taxes. He said a full announcement and explanation would come by March 9, but that did not happen. Attorneys for the local clubs say they do not know what Lee was referring to, and noted that as part of the ongoing lawsuits, they are unable to get licenses from Sandy Springs, and are instead operating under consent agreements.


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The Sandy Springs Lantern Parade is returning for its third year on April 21, a change from its previous June dates. The free parade starts at Steel Canyon Golf Club and ends at Morgan Falls Overlook Park, where paddlers place paper lanterns into the Chattahoochee River. Residents are welcome to watch the parade or join in, walking with or without lanterns. The event begins at 7:30 p.m., with the parade starting at 8:30 p.m. Lantern-making workshops are scheduled for April 14 and 15 at Sandy Springs United Methodist Church on Morgan Falls Dam Road, with registration opening March 17. For more information, see visitsandysprings.com.


The City Springs Performing Arts Center has penciled in Aug. 4-19 for its grand opening event series, which aims to include two national acts, at least one of them a Grammy Award-winner. Also in the works for Sandy Springs’ new civic center: a deal to bring in Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performances, and a September debut of outdoor concerts that will include a relocation of the annual Sandy Springs Festival’s musical section. Those announcements were among the “tease” information offered by PAC General Manager Michael Enoch on March 7 to the Sandy Springs Foundation, a nonprofit raising funds to subsidize arts programs at City Springs and other city facilities. He avoided further details, as the contracts are still in process. But formal announcements are expected in late April, following a launch of a ticketing website, he said. Officials announced earlier this year that the Atlanta Ballet and Atlanta Opera will perform at City Springs in 2019, and the City Springs Theatre Company, a new musical outfit, will launch its debut season. In the tease, Enoch said the PAC is working on deals with two other major Atlanta arts organizations, one of which is the symphony, as well as a “large film group.” The August PAC grand opening series is intended to highlight the many performance areas within City Springs, including the main Byers Theatre. Two dates are pegged for major performances: Aug. 10, with a “Grammy Award-winning artist,” and Aug. 18, with a “grand performance” by a “national act.” In a separate foundation discussion about educational programs, Enoch said the PAC is in talks with a “Grammy-nominated artist, just inducted into the Hall of Fame” about performing and holding SS

a master class, part of which would be filmed. It was unclear whether he meant the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or other institution, and whether he was referring to the same Grammy-winner intended for the Aug. 10 show. City spokesperson Sharon Kraun declined to clarify. Another opening event is a “grand gala” scheduled for Aug. 11, intended as a blacktie fundraiser for the foundation. It will include a program of original performances, and Enoch said the early concept is “vignettes” performed by such organizations as the Atlanta Ballet, the Atlanta Opera and the City Springs Theatre Company.

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If you’re renting out a room on Airbnb in Sandy Springs, should your neighbors know? That question was debated by officials at the March 6 City Council meeting. The discussion followed the council’s recent approval of registration and licensing requirements for such short-term rental businesses. The approval of those new regulations in February included language about notifying all property owners and residents within 500 feet about the short-term rental and providing emergency contact information. At the March 6 meeting, Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert said he had heard concerns about that provision and wanted feedback on tweaking it. He said the 500foot notification was not literally required in the new regulations, but was something the city intended to request. Mayor Rusty Paul and Councilmembers Tibby DeJulio, John Paulson and Jody Reichel said they supported a requirement to notify the local homeowners association or owners of adjoining properties. Councilmember Andy Bauman said that not all areas have HOAs and said that any such notice should go to managers of multifamily properties, too. But on a bigger point, Bauman said he opposes a notice requirement. City licenses and permits are already public records, he said, and noted that other types of businesses do not have such a notification requirement. “I personally would be opposed to it,” he said. “It’s sort of a notification without meaning.” Paul, however, supported the proactive notification. If the identity of my neighbors was changing on a daily basis, I’d like to know about it,” he said. The discussion came in a non-voting “work session,” with Tolbert gaining consensus to draft a policy for a future council vote.

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4 | Community

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Wireless antenna bill is latest threat to local control, city says BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Pitched as expanding rural internet access, a state Senate bill is a bait-andswitch that would clutter city streets with ugly, unregulated poles and boxes, the mayor and City Council declared in a March 6 resolution. The bill is part of what City Attorney Dan Lee called an “onslaught” of legislative attempts this session to strip cities of local control and “regulate from Atlanta, from the Capitol.” Of concern are bills that could strip local rules on shortterm rentals and kill Dunwoody and Sandy Springs’ restrictions on wood-frame apartment construction. “I’ve never seen so many bills designed to take away local control coming from one [session of the] Assembly,” said Mayor Rusty Paul, whose day job is lobbying for various industries and governments, and who once served as a state senator. “This is a real assault on local government.” Paul said the bills all involve “cultural” tensions between rural and urban areas. Senate Bill 426 is the current big example. Self-named as the “Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development (BILD) Act,” it is presented as rapidly expanding broadband internet access — and all of the business opportunity that comes with it —

to underserved areas of rural Georgia. The main method is reducing local regulation of placing small-scale wireless antennas on existing or new poles in the public right of way through permitting and fees. In rural areas, that often means country roads or main streets with few existing poles. In a suburban city like Sandy Springs, however, there are many existing poles and competing interests, including the city’s $8 million investment in burying utility lines around its new City Springs civic center. “In our area, you’re talking about people’s front yards … You’re talking about a refrigerator-sized device sitting in your yard,” Paul said. Lee displayed photographs that he said represented some types of antennas and related equipment that could be allowed on local streets under the bill, including tall poles and industrial-style gray metal boxes with protruding black cables. The council’s resolution declared that “this legislation will result in an explosion of aesthetically objectionable utility poles in Sandy Springs-owned right of way.” But the bill’s lead sponsor, state Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), says the city is misunderstanding the law and would actually gain more control than it current has. He offered his own photos of less obtrusive antenna equipment perched atop poles. He also emphasized the legislation

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is still undergoing revisions and that associations representing counties and cities are “dead center in those negotiations.” “Power poles for electricity, telephone, cable and other communication lines are allowed in the right of ways and are alJOHN RUCH ready covered by According to Sandy Springs City Attorney Dan Lee, these state law,” Gooch photos, displayed at the March 6 City Council meeting, said. “This legislashow the sort of wireless antenna devices that could tion actually gives appear along city streets with little or no regulation. local governments who maintain the right of way. more control over Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert said the small cell infrastructure in the right that today, the city approves about 90 perof way than all other utilities.” cent of wireless antenna permit requests, The bill includes a variety of stated or typically within 10 days. “So we are not a possible restrictions on antenna placehindrance” to the antenna business, he said. ment, height and design. But, Lee and othSandy Springs is not the only city coner city officials said, they would be less recerned. The Georgia Municipal Association strictive than the city’s current standards is spearheading the opposition and asking and could all be done with a state-issued many cities to pass the same resolution. permit and no local review at all. Gooch acknowledged that urban arLee called that “unregulated access eas are the current big market for such and special privileges.” He argued it antennas, but described that as a starting amounts to profit for private companies point. “... The expansion of the equipment — many of which would not even be regwill eventually expand out into the rural ulated by the state Public Service Comcommunities of Georgia,” Gooch said. mission — at the expense of taxpayers

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MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Sexual harassment cases hit home in local government, business BY DYANA BAGBY AND JOHN RUCH The news of sexual harassment and assault allegations against movie moguls, elected officials and even celebrated architects continue to make headlines as part of a national “#MeToo” movement led by women to not be silent on the issue anymore. But the issue is happening in local communities as well, including a Brookhaven Police officer who was fired four years ago after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him by a woman officer under his supervision. Tamara Holder, a former Fox News contributor who sued her employer for sexual assault, recently represented a woman in a federal lawsuit alleging an executive at Church’s Chicken based in Sandy Springs sexually harassed her for nearly a year before she quit. Holder says that sexual harassment and sexual assault cases are often discussed in terms of settlements. But that focus misses the lasting impact on the victims, she said. “Not only is it [that] money doesn’t compensate you for life, when a woman is out of work ... it affects her ability to get a [new] job.” That creates a “vicious cycle” that needs more attention, Holder said. Since the founding of Brookhaven in 2012, an open records search revealed, the city has settled one sexual harassment complaint: a 2014 case against a police officer who was later fired as a result. A woman officer filed the formal complaint with the city in August 2014, alleging a male sergeant and her supervisor sent her several sexually explicit text messages. She also alleged the sergeant sexually harassed her between November 2014 and May 2014. The city settled the complaint — which was never publicized — on May 12, 2015, for $10,000, which was covered by the city’s insurance, according to city documents. The officers who made the complaint resigned from her job in November 2014, according to documents obtained through an open records request. In November 2014, the woman filed an official complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also alleging sexual harassment on the job at the police department before finally agreeing to a settlement agreement with the city. The $10,000 settlement meant the woman officer who filed the complaint would “withdraw or dismiss her claim and would enter into a general release and waiver of all claims against the city as well as all current and former officials and employees of the city,” states the minutes of the settlement agreement. The complainant received $5,000 and her attorney received $5,000, according to the city’s minutes. Chief Gary Yandura fired the male officer, saying in a Sept. 16, 2014, letter that the sergeant violated several departmental policies, including standards of conduct opportunity and the sexual harassment/discrimi-

nation policy. “It is quite evident that you violated the allegations listed, which cannot be tolerated by a supervisory member of our police department,” Yandura wrote. The male officer appealed his firing to the city manager and representatives from the Human Resources Department. At an Oct. 17, 2014, hearing, the male officer said text messages “could be easily manipulated” and denied sending the woman any inappropriate text messages. His firing was upheld by the city manager. Following the case, all employees with the Brookhaven Police Department began mandatory annual training on how to prevent sexual harassment. The current spotlight on sexual harassment has now spurred the city to mandate such training for all city employees. This month, Brookhaven employees began their first preventing sexual harassment trainings that will continue through May. At a recent City Council work session, City Manager Christian Sigman explained that the current “national climate” led administrators to implement the mandatory training each year. Former Brookhaven mayor J. Max Davis also got swept up in sexual harassment allegations in 2015 when an employee accused him of spraying an aerosol can at her buttocks. He apologized for the incident, but

the result was a breakdown in city transparency policies including the city’s attorney at the time trying to keep the sexual harassment complaint secret. Davis denied he meant to harm the woman. In 2015, a Brookhaven city employee filed an EEOC complaint against Davis, alleging he threatened to fire her if she did not change her story to be in his favor on the sexual harassment allegations. The complaint was dismissed in 2016. Davis said the complaint was “spurious” and “baseless.” Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Atlanta all have policies against sexual harassment on record that are provided to employees. In Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, no sexual harassment complaints or settlements have been filed in the past five years, according to city spokespersons and open records requests. The city of Atlanta did not respond to requests for comment.

News. Holder and her client were able to reach an undisclosed settlement agreement with Church’s Chicken. Holder said a mistake in discussing the issue of sexual harassment is focusing on the settlement amount and not what happens to the woman afterwards, especially if she was forced to leave her job anyway. People need to ask, “Where is she now?” Holder said. “People look and say, ‘You got $50,000, you got $50 million...What are you complaining about?’” But, according to Holder, “It’s not over once the woman gets money. It’s really the beginning.” The woman loses the income of the job and may have trouble getting another one. Victims often are left with mental health issues and lose health coverage with the job, she said. “Personally, I’m without a job in TV because I spoke out,” she said. Holder said men also need to take responsibility for their role in preventing sexual harassment. “I think there needs to be a spotlight on men and what they can do,” she said. This can include not blowing off harassment as “flirting,” she said, or that complaints are lies or involve consensual situations. “It’s not rocket science,” but it is a cultural decision, she said.

Settlement as ‘the beginning’

Last year, a woman filed a federal lawsuit against Church’s Chicken alleging sexual harassment by an executive at its Sandy Springs headquarters. Church’s Chicken said it investigated the allegation and fired the person responsible. The woman was represented by Holder, who was in the news last year for the $2.5 million settlement she reached following her own sexual assault complaint at Fox

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6 | Education

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Laura Miltner Ashford Park Elementary School Laura Miltner, who teaches Georgia’s first German dual immersion program at Ashford Park Elementary School, was honored as the Georgia Department of Education’s World Language Educator of the Month in January. “Truly, without the selfless and dedicated service of teachers like [Miltner], children would not be complete,” said Patrick Wallace, a department representative, according to a press release. In Georgia dual language programs, the students spend at least half of their school day in the target language and the other half-day in English, according to the Georgia Department of Education website. “Frau Miltner has the herculean task of getting 52 kindergartners to begin understanding and speaking German,” a parent said in a letter nominating Miltner for the award. “… While all of our teachers are fantastic, the work Frau Miltner takes on to get these children ready for a more demanding academic load should be recognized.” Miltner has been teaching at Ashford Park in Brookhaven for five years and has been a teacher for over 20 years.

Q: How does teaching a new language to such young students change the process?

A: I believe in starting young and giving

these children a real chance to master a second language. Teaching immersion German in kindergarten has demanded a whole new restructuring of my teaching skills. Let’s just say not every lesson I have taught was a complete success. I am always learning. I enjoy the challenge tremendously. Where else can you see such massive growth and development? The hugs are nice too!


What are you most proud of in your career?

A: I am very proud

of being part of the German Immersion Program at Ashford Park. I believe that immersion language learning is a great way to develop flexibility in the brain, promote cultural understanding, as well as seamlessly learn a second language. I have also felt very proud when former students

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write me a letter in German from Germany!


What do you want to see in your students?

A: I want them to feel comfortable ex-

perimenting with language. I want them to be inquisitive, open to other cultures, ask lots of questions, listen, think, work hard and love learning! I would, of course, love to see them all go on to visit, study in, and/or live in a German-speaking country. I would like for them to establish relationships with native speakers. My time in Germany and the friendships I have made there have been such an important part of my life.

Laura Miltner, a teacher at Ashford Park Elementary School in Brookhaven, using hand motions to help teach German to her kindergarten students.


What is your favorite memory at your school?

A: It always thrills me when a student

starts to put together his or her own sentences in German. The parents are also so supportive and kind here. There have been many times when they overwhelmed me with their kindness.


Why are you most interested in German?

A: German-speaking

countries play a huge part in world economics, science, technology, the arts and politics. I recently saw very impressive statistics in how much learning German can increase earning potential. The GerDo you have man community any special prois growing in Georgrams you use? gia. The number of German compaI have crenies here is always ated many magrowing. Chamterials because SPECIAL blee Middle School, Laura Miltner was honored as the Georgia teaching kinderDepartment of Education’s World Language Kittredge [Magnet garten math and Educator of the Month in January. School] and Chamscience in Gerblee [Charter High man to non-native speakers is so speSchool] have award-winning German cialized. What we do here is so differprograms preparing a place for our stuent than traditional language learning dents. classes and also the students are young-

Q: A:

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er than most second language learners, so I haven’t been able to find the content I need in German. The German Immersion teachers all work very hard creating materials and piecing the curriculum together from many sources.

Editor’s note: Through our “Exceptional Educator” articles, Reporter Newspapers showcases the work of some of the outstanding teachers and administrators at our local schools. If you would like to recommend a teacher or administrator to be the subject of an Exceptional Educator article, please email editor@ReporterNewspapers.net.

Education | 7

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Education Briefs

The Alfred & Adele Davis Academy


State Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) has proposed a Senate committee that would study ways to improve school safety and recommend legislation. A similar House study committee was proposed this week. The resolution, which is SR 935, follows a Florida school shooting that has spurred a national conversation on school safety and gun control. “Based on current events, we feel that [it is] necessary to place a focus on school safety,” Albers said in a press release. After the 2018 legislative session ends, the committee would travel across the state meeting with teachers, students, parents, first responders, community leaders and experts to get input and learn how to best improve safety in different communities. The study committee would then make legislative recommendations to the Senate, the release said. “Right now we have some specific policies in mind, but are going into the process of evaluating school safety with an open mind,” he said in an email. He said “numerous” meetings would be held to get input from all parts of the state before any final policy decisions are made. A similar House resolution, HR 1414, was introduced March 5 by Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) that would study problems and needs related to mental health concerns, infrastructure designs, equipment, personnel training and the availability of resources, according to the legislation.


Sunday, March 25, 1:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. Monday, March 26, 6:30 p.m. Rosenberg Performing Arts Theatre The Davis Academy Lower School 8105 Roberts Drive, Atlanta, GA 30350

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Students from Riverwood International Charter School and Ridgeview Middle School in Sandy Springs will visit Japan in a program sponsored by the Japanese government. The program is called the Kakehashi Project, which invites 200 American students on a nine-day study tour of Japan, Tomoko Ohyama, the consulate general of Japan in Atlanta said. The students will visit Japan from March 19 to March 27. The students will visit a number of historical and educational sites, experience traditional and cultural activities and participate in lectures and workshops, according to the program website.

W E ’ R E


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8 | Food & Drink

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Breadwinner’s Geoff Melkonian on baking and family BY DYANA BAGBY



During Thanksgiving 2005, Geoff and Katie Melkonian and Geoff’s sister Wendy were not sure what to do with the dozens of eggs left over from holiday cooking. After a few minutes, they had the answer — make pumpkin bread using Katie’s grandmother’s recipe. Wendy, who worked for the Souper Jenny restaurant at the time, sold the bread there and had a hit. The Melkonians decided to open their own shop in their hometown of Sandy Springs. Breadwinner Café and Bakery has operated for over 10 years across the street from what is now the new City Springs civic center. Now Melkonian has two new restaurants, both named Farm to Ladle, located at Ponce City Market and Avalon in Alpharetta.


Is there a long history in your family of running bakeries?

A: There is zero

history of baking in our famGeoff Melkonian owns Breadwinner Café and ily other than Bakery with his wife, Katie. The Sandy Springs our mothers and business has been open for 10 years. grandmothers baking for us at Geoff Melkonian has lived in Sandy home. However, my paternal grandparSprings since 1984 and is a 1988 Riverents and great-grandparents owned and wood International School graduate. He operated a deli/grocery store in Brooksaid his business is looking forward to lyn for two generations. The photos [on City Springs fully opening later this year. Breadwinner’s walls] are from the Brook“We want to stay in Sandy Springs,” lyn store. My great-grandparents eshe says. “In our way, it’s an investment in caped Armenia and Turkey around 1914. the city. We believe in They came to America and started a new what they are doing.” life. In the early 1920s, they opened their We asked Geoff store and lived in the apartment above. to tell us more about how Breadwinner came to be here. What is the process for making bread at the store in Sandy Springs? Early hours, lots of kneading? How did you decide on the name Our breads are quick breads. No Breadwinner? need for kneading. They are baked and packaged daily for sale and shipping for I wish I had a the next day. We still have a very active clever answer. We mail order business. wanted a positivesounding name. It fit our personalities. Of Do you remember eating loaves of course, within a year yummy bread as a child? What was it like of starting Breadwinfor you and your sister growing up and ner, the “no carb” fad being in the home kitchen? took off. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt us too SPECIAL Our mom made the best lemon blueSPECIAL





Party at My Place Pumpkin Bread.

make? What bread did you try but was unsuccessful and had to be taken of the shelf?


My favorite bread changes with the seasons. In the warmer months it is “Be Still My Beating Tart” and lemon blueberry. But the rest of the year it’s a toss-up between “Papa Don’t Peach” and “Party At My Place Pumpkin.” For a short while, we had a bread called “Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli.” It was delicious. It’s not that it didn’t sell. We just could not get it to bake consistently. After a while we put it on the back burner and haven’t yet gone back to it. But it was so good. Maybe we will try it again this year.

Q: A:

Breadwinner Café & Bakery offers customers a range of menu items, including sandwiches and soups.

berry bread, which is one of our flavors. Katie’s mom and grandmother made what is our pumpkin bread. It was the product that Breadwinner was created from. To this day, we still bake both of their recipes for these flavors.


Are you willing to share the recipe for the pumpkin bread that apparently got this entire business started?


I wish I had a dime for every time someone asked for our pumpkin bread recipe. MICHAEL JONES

All local, all wonderful.

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Katie and Geoff Melkonian, owners of Breadwinner Cafe, won the Sandy Springs/ Perimeter Chamber’s 2013 ‘Sandy’ award for restaurant of the year. They are pictured above with that year’s SSPC Chairman Cory Jackson, left.


What was Katie’s grandmother like, whose recipe you followed for that first mass production of pumpkin bread?

A: Katie’s grandmother was a fiery and

small but mighty woman from Tulsa. She was very Midwestern. She shot squirrels in her backyard with a BB gun. You didn’t cross her.


What is your favorite bread you

220 Sandy Springs Circle Sandy Springs 30328 breadwinnercafe.com

Food & Drink | 9

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Quick Bites

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Brendan Keenan recently was named the new executive chef at il Giallo, an Italian restaurant in Sandy Springs. He previous served in that role at the Marietta restaurants Drift, Seed and Stem. Il Giallo is located at 5920 Roswell Road, Suite B-188, Sandy Springs. Info: 1992sharetea.com.

An education you can afford for a future you can depend on! Call today to schedule tour and complimentary lesson!


Hal’s Kitchen, an event space that provides corporate team-building through culinary lessons and competitions, recently opened in Sandy Springs’ Belle Isle Square. The 1,600-square-foot space can hold up to 65 guests and features professional equipment and a pizza oven. It is located at 4969 Roswell Road, Suite 220, Sandy Springs. Info: halskitchen.com.


Dunwoody-based Regina’s Farm Kitchen, owned by Regina Nekola Hild, was among the winners in the “Preserves” category at the Good Food Awards in San Francisco in January. Her winning entry was her strawberry blueberry jalapeño jam. Info: reginasfarmkitchen.com.


The fast-casual restaurant Tin Drum Asian Kitchen opened a Sandy Springs location with a ribbon-cutting March 1. The restaurant is at 5840 Roswell Road, Suite 1200, Sandy Springs. Info: tindrumasiankitchen.com.


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The tea and flavored drink franchise Sharetea opened a Sandy Springs location with a Feb. 26 ribbon-cutting. It is located at 5975 Roswell Road, Suite 209. Info: 1992sharetea.com.

5303 New Peachtree Road, Chamblee, GA 30341


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The Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant at 8433 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs reopened in February after a complete reconstruction. Info: cfanorthridge.com.


Pour Kitchen + Bar, a wine bar at 1418 Dresden Drive in Brookhaven, is now offering coffee service and breakfast and lunch menus. The coffee is from Smyrna-based Rev Coffee Roasters. Info: pourbrookhaven.com.


The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead recently became home to a new location for BRASH Coffee, which joins a Souper Jenny restaurant as the museum’s in-house dining and coffee options. The museum is at 130 West Paces Ferry Road. Info: atlantahistorycenter.com.


A Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria opened in January at Perimeter Mall, 4400 AshfordDunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: maxsatl.com.

Got local food or drink news?

Submit your tips at editor@reporternewspapers.net



purchase of $25 or more Sandy Springs 5975 Roswell Rd, Suite A-103 (404) 236-2114 NothingBundtCakes.com

NEW ‘Bunny Bundt’ Decorated Cake now available.

Expires 4/1/18. Coupon must be presented at time of purchase. $5 off $25 before tax. Valid only at the bakery listed. Not valid for online orders. Valid only on baked goods; not valid on retail items. No cash value. Coupon may not be reproduced, transferred or sold. Internet distribution strictly prohibited. Must be claimed in bakery during normal business hours. Not valid with any other offer.

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10 | Art & Entertainment

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EGG HUNTS SANDY SPRINGS EGG HUNT Saturday, March 24, 10 a.m. to noon

With so many things to do, we suggest getting an early start on your want-to-do list. There’s a lot to do at The Piedmont Retirement Community — clubs, events, socializing, and more. So, go ahead and make your want-to-do list. But please don’t include a bunch of chores. We’ll take care of most of those for you. We invite you to see all that The Piedmont has to offer (including assisted living services if needed) at a complimentary lunch and tour. Please call 404.381.1743 to schedule.

Guitar Under the Stars Wednesday, March 28th • 5:30pm Join us for dinner and a classical guitar performance on our terrace. Please RSVP to 404.381.1743.

Sandy Springs Recreation and Parks and the North Perimeter Optimist Club are teaming up for the annual Egg Hunt at Hammond Park. Egg hunting schedule: 10:30 a.m. for children ages 1-3; 10:45 a.m. for children ages 4-6; and 11 a.m. for children ages 7-9. The rain date is Saturday, March 31. Free. 705 Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: 770-730-5600 or sandyspringsga.gov.


Saturday, March 31, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The City of Brookhaven’s Parks and Recreation Department hosts its annual Easter Egg Scramble. The event includes light breakfast snacks and a visit from the Easter Bunny. Egg hunters will be split into age groups (3 and under; 4-6, and 7+) with separate areas for each. The egg hunt begins at 10 a.m. sharp. Free. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info: brookhavenga.gov.

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Art & Entertainment | 11

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net





Thursday, March 22, 7 p.m.

Join the Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Nature Club for a monthly potluck. At 7:30 p.m., hear Julie Hollingsworth Hogg, CNC’s Manager of Horticulture and Gardens, speak about the mysteries of plants. The Nature Club meets monthly on fourth Thursdays from January to October. Ages 16 to adult, $10; $5 CNC members. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: chattnaturecenter.org.

Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This fourth annual event features live entertainment with nationally known acts, an artist market featuring 100 regional artisans, a classic car show, 5K race, Kidz Zone, and a food court. Free. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info: brookcherryfest.org.





Friday, March 23, 8 p.m.

Under the light of the stars and armed with flashlights, Dunwoody Nature Center educators will guide groups through the hike, offering a chance to hear the nighttime sounds of owls, bats, and other nocturnal creatures as well as the gentle flow of Wildcat Creek. 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodynature.org.


Friday, March 23 to Sunday, April 15 Stage Door Players presents “Mass Appeal.” Father Tim Farley is highly popular with his parishioners due to his charm, wit, easy-going manner, and entertaining, if unchallenging sermons. Seminary student Mark Dolson is a young, passionate firebrand eager to change the church. North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Tickets and other info: stagedoorplayers.net.


Friday and Saturday, March 23-24, 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 25, 3 p.m.

The timeless story of Camille is retold in Verdi’s classic of a Parisian courtesan who surrenders to love. $40; $30 for seniors, students and military with IDs. Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road NE, Brookhaven. Info: ccityopera.org.


Friends of Lost Corner hosts a presentation on sustainable vegetable gardening as part of the North Fulton Master Gardeners’ Lecture Series. Classes are conducted by the North Fulton Master Gardeners and the UGA Extension in Fulton County. $5. Lost Corner Nature Preserve, 7300 Brandon Mill Road, Sandy Springs. Info: friendsoflostcorner.org.

NE, Buckhead. Info: 404-814-3500.


Saturday, March 24, 6:30 p.m.

The 32nd annual Artistic Affair, a benefit for the Spruill Center for the Arts, is a festive evening of dinner, dancing and auctions with items donated by Spruill Center instructors and community supporters. Since its inception in 1986, Artistic Affair has raised over $1 million for art education and operating expenses for the Spruill Center for the Arts. $140. Atlanta Athletic Club, 1930 Bobby Jones Drive, Johns Creek. Info: spruillarts.org.


Wednesday, March 21, 4 p.m.

Kids ages 7-12 will compete for a prize in a spelling bee at the Buckhead Library. Kids can pick up a list of the spelling words to study prior to the spelling bee at the library’s Information Desk. Free; registration required. 269 Buckhead Ave.


Friday, March 23, 8:30 p.m.

Grab your flashlight and join the Heritage Sandy Springs Outdoors Club for a 3-mile hike through the sidewalks surrounding Abernathy Greenway Park. Advance registration is highly recommended. Info: heritagesandysprings.org. Click on Attend.



Saturday, March 24, 7 a.m. registration

The hospital hosts its second annual Run for Mercy 5K Run/Walk, a family-friendly Peachtree Road Race qualifier event. Beginning at 8 a.m., the race benefits Emory Saint Joseph’s and Mercy Care Atlanta. Dillard’s at Perimeter Mall, 4400 AshfordDunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Fees and other info: runformercy5k.emory.edu.


Saturday, March 31, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Slip into the woods with a Blue Heron Nature Preserve naturalist and explore the sights and sounds of nature as the day animals go to rest and the night animals rise. Dress for the weather and wear sturdy outdoor shoes. Bring your favorite mug and complete the evening with hot cocoa or cold cider. $7; children 3 and under free. 4055 Roswell Road NE, Buckhead. Info: bhnp.org.


calendar@Reporter Newspapers.net

Lottery Registration Open March 15-22 at AJC.com/peachtree

12 | Commentary

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 www.ReporterNewspapers.net Atlanta INtown www.AtlantaINtownPaper.com Atlanta Senior Life www.AtlantaSeniorLife.com

C O NTA C T US Founder & Publisher Steve Levene stevelevene@reporternewspapers.net Editorial Managing Editor John Ruch johnruch@reporternewspapers.net INtown Editor: Collin Kelley Editor-at-Large Joe Earle Staff Writers Dyana Bagby, Evelyn Andrews Copy Editor: Donna Williams Lewis Creative and Production Creative Director Rico Figliolini rico@reporternewspapers.net Graphic Designer: Soojin Yang Advertising Director of Sales Development Amy Arno amyarno@reporternewspapers.net Sales Executives Jeff Kremer, Janet Porter, Jim Speakman Office Manager Deborah Davis deborahdavis@reporternewspapers.net Contributors Max Blau, Julie E. Bloemeke, Phil Mosier

Free Home Delivery 60,000 copies of Reporter Newspapers are delivered by carriers to homes in ZIP codes 30305, 30319, 30326, 30327, 30328, 30338, 30342 and 30350 and to more than 500 business/retail locations. For locations, check “Where To Find Us” at www.ReporterNewspapers.net For delivery requests, please email delivery@reporternewspapers.net.

© 2018 with all rights reserved Publisher reserves the right to refuse editorial or advertising for any reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC.

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Community Survey / Should teachers be armed? When it comes to making schools safer, arming teachers doesn’t appear to be the answer many of us are willing to embrace. Some elected officials, including President Trump, have suggested arming trained teachers or school administrators after 17 people were slain in a school shooting in Florida last month. But the idea was not popular among 250 residents of Reporter Newspapers communities who responded to our latest 1Q.com survey. Conducted via cellphone, the survey is not scientific. When asked what safety improvements should be made at our neighborhood schools from a list of six suggestions ranging from more police to better sidewalks, only 4 percent of the respondents chose to back the idea of issuing firearms to trained teachers or administrators. Just as many respondents thought no action was needed because their schools already are safe. And when survey participants were asked directly whether some properly trained teachers or administrators should be issued firearms, their responses ran about two to one against the idea. The largest group — 36 percent of the respondents — backed a proposal to provide more counseling and psychological screening for students. Suggestions to place more police officers and metal detectors in schools each drew support from 18 percent of the respondents. “I believe that teachers should not be issued firearms for a couple of reasons —

one reason being that many teachers have already come out saying that they do not want to be held responsible for their students’ lives in such a way,” a 14-year-old Sandy Springs girl wrote when responding to the survey. “I, as a student, would not feel any safer knowing that all my teachers have guns. In fact it would make me feel less secure and more anxious and on edge. The answer is gun law reform plain and simple.” And a 14-year-old Sandy Springs boy argued that guns in the classroom actually would make schools less safe. “That would actually give students a greater chance at being injured or killed,” he wrote, choosing an option of installing more metal detectors at school entrances. But others saw arming trained teachers as a direct way to curb school shootings. “They may be the only defense the kids have,” wrote a 55-year-old Sandy Springs man. Others likened the situation to providing security on airplanes. “I believe there should be some highly trained, undercover people in the school that have the ability to carry [a firearm],” a 25-year-old Atlanta man wrote, “like a flight marshal that can take over if a situation arises.” Among respondents who opposed arming teachers, some seemed horrified simply by the idea itself, while others raised practical objections. “It will not allow the police to enter as quickly knowing there

Which of the following safety improvement ideas does your neighborhood school need the most? More counseling and psychological screening available to students Metal detectors at entrances More police officers in the school Other

33.6% 18% 17.6% 16%

More sidewalks for students walking to school


None; my school is already safe


Firearms issued to trained teachers or administrators


Better playground equipment


are multiple people with guns,” a 37-yearold Atlanta man responded. Another Atlanta man argued that shootouts in schools could end up hurting more people. “I believe we should strive to eliminate the number of guns in an educational environment,” the 27-year-old man wrote.

Editor’s Note: Keeping up with our communities Local journalism has many our individual communities goals and definitions, but at and from such crucial beats as public safety, the arts, business Reporter Newspapers, we start with a simple one: Make and religion. It’s a lot easier to read on your phone, too. a newspaper that is as vibrant, And we have new kinds of smart and active as the communities we serve. stories to read there. As you can see elsewhere in this issue, Boy, is that easier said than done. In Brookhaven, Buckour editor-at-large, Joe Earle, is writing a new column. In head, Dunwoody and Sanis the managing “Around Town,” he will intrody Springs, the change and editor of the duce you to the intriguing peoexcitement is nonstop these Reporter Newspapers. ple and places who make our days. But it’s a challenge that we love as neighborhoods tick. Joe’s column will run every other issue, trading off with we change alongside our communities. We’ve made a number of innovations Robin Conte’s award-winning “Robin’s Nest.” Robin has been busy, too. We’re in recent weeks as part of that commithappy to finally reveal that a book of sement. We’re proud to announce the relected “Robin’s Nest” columns is coming soon. launch of our website, ReporterNewspapers.net. The old version was doing Of course, we have serious news to tackle as well, and few stories are more its job of drawing tens of thousands of serious than a drug epidemic sweeping monthly readers. The new version, however, better showcases local news from our cities and killing our neighbors. To

John Ruch

spotlight this nightmare, we brought on Max Blau, who is one of Atlanta’s best freelance journalists and a veteran of national reporting on the opioid epidemic. “Coping with a Crisis: Opioid Addiction in the Suburbs” is his four-part exclusive series for us, the second installment of which appears in this issue. The series is not only about the friends and family lost to the ravages of drugs, but also about people in our community who are facing this epidemic head-on and doing something about it. We’re proud to tell their stories. That’s a lot of change at the Reporter in the first quarter of the year. It’s only the start as we continue to evolve. As always, feel free to send me an email or give me a call at johnruch@reporternewspapers.net or 404-917-2200 ext. 113. Your ideas about what we do and how we do it are always welcome.

Have something to say?

Send letters to editor@reporternewspapers.net

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Around Town

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

Learning history, building community When Sheffield Hale open in the fall. Now that stepped into the bright sun construction on the cenoutside the Atlanta Histoter’s Buckhead campus is ry Center one recent afterwrapping up, Hale and his noon, he grinned widely staff and board are considat what he saw. A handful ering what comes next. He of people sat around long wants the organization to wooden tables on the paopen itself up in a differtio outside the center’s new ent way ☺— by looking outcoffeehouse. They drank ward, rather than inward. coffee and checked their “The next thing, in my phones. It was exactly what mind, is to do more proHale had hoped for. gramming all over Atlan“Look at these happy ta,” he said. people!” he said. “When Hale wants history cenother people figure it out, ter programs to bring new Sheffield Hale. this will be the coolest people in by focusing on subplace in Atlanta!” jects drawn from neighborhoods and ethHale, president and CEO of the Hisnic communities. He wants to go to the plactory Center, is on a mission. He wants es where people live. He pointed out that to lure more people to the Buckheadthe center’s “Party with the Past” series has based center and its programs so they popped up in places as varied as the Sweet can learn about Atlanta, and, he says, Auburn Curb Market, Oakland Cemetery figure out how to make it a better city. and Smith’s Olde Bar. To do that, the 57-year-old history-loverThe idea, Hale says, is to show Atlanturned-lawyer has overseen an opening tans how their community got to be what up of the museum on West Paces Ferry it is and to connect residents with the city’s Road. The center is being transformed, history and culture. Hale argues we should both physically and philosophically. better understand the past in order to live The goal? “To make it more relevant and together in the present and future. bigger than its footprint in Buckhead,” he Consider the Civil War. Atlanta is filled said. “To take the assets that we have and with monuments, streets and sites that carmake them even more available. … It was ry Civil War history. How their tales are told all sitting there, waiting to happen.” can make a difference. Hale, who recentOne of Hale’s first acts as president ly co-chaired a city committee tasked with was to take down a fence that blocked recommending what to do about the monuthe building from the view of drivers ments and street names, argues that it’s impassing on West Paces Ferry Road. Now portant not to elevate the myths that sprout passersby can’t ignore the place. around some historical sites like poison ivy. Hale knew his way around the history “You just talk about the truth,” he said. center long before taking over as its CEO “You talk about the facts, [about] what hapand president six years ago. He grew up in pened, to get people to look past the myths the Brookwood Hills neighborhood and his of what happened. What we try to do is take dad, a prominent Atlanta lawyer, chaired the temperature down, so we can talk about the center’s board at times. Sheffield’s colwhat happened. Yes, slavery was the cause lege thesis on longtime, powerful Georgia of the Civil War. That’s game, set, match.” politician Richard Russell Jr.’s election to Why bother to even talk about things the Senate was published in the center’s that happened generations ago? journal. He keeps a copy of the issue in his “What’s the ‘so what?’’” Hale said, “The office. “It’s on the cover,” he said after dig‘so what’ is to make a better community. ging out a copy. “I got the cover!” It’s not to preserve history in some saniThe younger Hale served on the board tized way, but to … use the history to make himself at times and raised money for the them more interested in the community. history center. Since he took over as presWhat that does is make a better Atlanta. … ident and CEO in March 2012, the center It’s by recognizing we have a common hishas made about $50 million in improvetory and we need to understand all of our ments to its 33-acre Buckhead campus. histories to move forward. New structures include a round hall vis“We need to show a holistic view of ible from West Paces where the still-beingcommunity. Your piece of it is part of a bigrestored Cyclorama painting of “The Battle ger piece.” of Atlanta” hangs; a glass-walled walkway In other words, we share the past. “We’re that houses a full-size, 19th century locoall in the soup together. Let’s understand motive called the “Texas”; a new entryway the different ingredients that make up the and atrium that are home to the coffeesoup,” Hale said. house, a new restaurant, a new bookstore, How to make a start? In Hale’s vision, and a new garden. maybe it’s enough just to sit down together The Cyclorama exhibit is projected to with a cup of coffee on a sunny afternoon. SS

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14 | Commentary

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Letter to the Editor

Private north end plans are a concern Congratulations on both of your articles about the north end development plan and the Noble-Couchman efforts to shape it. (“Advocates’ secret concept influences affordable housing talk,” Jan. 19, and “City prepares to map a north end redevelopment strategy,” Feb. 16.) Also, congratulations for bringing the racial component of this redevelopment into the light. But I am concerned that so few will go on the record about this north end plan. I’m afraid it will be decided in private by the mayor, the landowners and developers long before the facade of community input is rolled out, exactly as City Springs was done. The Purpose Built Communities connection is telling. Purpose Built is one of the good guys, as they recognize that strong communities and especially better schools are built on the pride of home ownership. Their involvement with Shirley Jackson as spokesperson is a nod to the need for “essential” housing. But I believe the Noble-Couchman plan is primarily an effort to avoid the apartment madness of the Sandy/City Springs development. Mayor Paul and his development partners shoehorned Square One, IMT, Modera, Cliftwood, Aston City Springs, Aria and The Adley into our downtown area without making any significant transportation improvements. There’s littIe sign of any important retail coming to our new downtown, which is absolutely necessary for the community Paul envisions. We used to have a Panera’s where Modera sits now. It closed because it was difficult to turn left against traffic to enter and equally difficult to turn left against traffic to exit. This pattern is playing out today for every business on Roswell Road and rentals have hardly begun. Wil Johnson Sandy Springs

Senior Life Se ni rningLife of Leaor Get fresh at farmers markets


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JUNE 2017 • Vol. 2 No. 6 | AtlantaSeniorL IFE.com

Theatre-To-Go Live Performandelivers ces

making a difference

Lewis By Donna Williams page 6

Assistance League helps rebuild lives

Methodist Dunwoody United Gil Yates, about to begin at for his classmate Coast Indians was making a beeline A class on Pacific page 10 strode into the room, Church when a man OK.” approached. “Shuffling’sbuddy, who would not front row, center. said, as the man his “No running!” Yates is a year older than all in good fun. Yates The teasing was age: 91. with Perimeter Adults but did share his classes this spring reveal his name, 175 students taking The men are among most of whom (PALS). for senior adults, Learning & Services continuing education the start. year of providing been members from PALS is in its 25th need for of Dunwoody, have takes care of the and his wife, Dot, and this kind of are 60-plus. Yates to help other people, “People our age want made lifelong friends.” 4 Yates said. “We have Continued on page fellowship,” Dot


By Kathy Dean


We hear it all rings especially the time: less is more. The phrase true for older adults who are empty nests and facing are ready to of their lives. enjoy the second Intown and north half many comfortable metro Atlanta offer options

for them. “Baby boomers have spent much working and of their lives building said Dawn Anderson, their wealth for retirement,” Realtor, Dorsey “As retirement Alston Realtors. becomes more of a reality, they plan their transition begin to to downsize. Ease and affordability of life, proximity are certainly the goals of most downsizing common boomers.” The trend of continues to grow, 55+ active adult communities Anderson said. well qualified “Baby boomers buyers and know are looking for.” exactly what they are Kim Isaacs, aged Avalon in Alpharetta58, said that her townhome in gives her and everything they her husband want. “We had home in Johns lived in our previous Creek for 19 years. left for college, When our last we child and really didn’t decided that we wanted a change need a large house of us,” she said. for just the two Continued on

page 4

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Pick up a copy around town or read online at atlantaseniorlife.com


Community | 15

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

• • • •

Fulton chair, House District 52 incumbents face primary challengers BY JOHN RUCH AND EVELYN ANDREWS Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts and state Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs) will face challengers in the May 22 primary elections after candidate qualifying wrapped up March 9. And almost all local Republican incumbents are set to face Democrat challengers on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. That includes a rematch of last year’s special election in state Senate District 32, where Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta) beat Democrat Christine Triebsch. The unchallenged exception is Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris of Buckhead/Sandy Springs’ District 3. The following are the qualified candidates in key local primary races:

U. S. C ON GRESS U.S. House District 6

Democrat: Kevin Abel, Steven Knight Griffin, Bobby Kaple, Lucy McBath Republican: Karen Handel (incumbent) Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in last year’s epic special election for the Congressional seat. One of this year’s challengers, Abel, is a Sandy Springs resident.

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Democrat: Robb Pitts (incumbent), Keisha Waites Pitts is defending a seat he won in a special election last year by beating Waites and former Sandy Springs City Councilmember Gabriel Sterling.

Fulton County Commission District 3 (Buckhead/Sandy Springs) Republican: Lee Morris (incumbent)

GEORGI A SEN ATE State Senate District 32

Democrat: Christine Triebsch Republican: Kay Kirkpatrick (incumbent) The filing so far set up a rematch of last year’s special election, where Kirkpatrick beat Triebsch in a runoff.

State Senate District 40

Democrat: Sally Harrell, Tamara Johnson-Shealey Republican: Fran Millar (incumbent) Millar recently formally announced his re-election campaign with statements of bipartisan support from two Democratic leaders: current DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and former CEO Liane Levetan.

State Senate District 56

Democrat: Jim Guess Jr., Ellyn Jeager, Patrick Thompson Republican: John Albers (incumbent)


Democrat: Essence Johnson Republican: Matt Dollar (incumbent)

State House District 51

Democrat: Josh McLaurin Republican: Alex Kaufman The candidates seek to replace longtime incumbent Wendell Willard, who is retiring and not seeking re-election.

State House District 52

Democrat: Shea Roberts Republican: Gavi Shapiro, Deborah Silcox (incumbent)

State House District 80

Democrat: Matthew Wilson Republican: Meagan Hanson (incumbent) SS

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What do you get when you mix

incredible live entertainment on a large, beautiful stage, a whimsical artist market featuring 100 regional artisans, a large Kidz Zone loaded with fun, the popular “Pet World,” a classic car show, a 5k race and a delicious food court – all set in a beautiful park? Of course, you get the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival, which ushers in the springtime on March 24 from 10 am to 6pm and March 25 from 10am to 6pm in Blackburn Park, a true landmark of the hopping City of Brookhaven.

Don’t miss

the incredible talent lineup at the FREE concert in Blackburn Park. The stage is set at the base of the natural amphitheater nestled into the park’s perfect hillside. Check out the lineup and be sure to come early to shop, eat, drink and soak up the spring sunshine! Get ready for hot new rocking guitars, country legends and internationally known stars—all right here in Blackburn Park!

The 2018 Festival has increased the number of parking spaces at shuttle lots and added larger, more frequent bus runs, so please take note of stops on the next page. There is no Festival parking at Blackburn Park or the surrounding retail areas, with the exception of ADA-designated spaces. Our shuttles are free and easy, so sit back and enjoy the ride on us!

Make sure to mark your calendars now for the exciting event, and tell your friends and neighbors!


2:00 PM

3:00 PM


1:00 PM

4:45 PM

4:30 PM

100 Whimsical Artisans in the New Artist Market

The wonderful, whimsical and new artist market opens Saturday & Sunday,10am – 6pm. Artisans will line the picturesque street which runs through Blackburn Park, and shoppers will truly enjoy the colorful booths and lively arts and crafts displays.




This event is Rain or Shine unless weather conditions present an unsafe environment.



www.SplashFestivals.com Go to SplashFestivals.com to volunteer.


| 17

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What to Know Before You Go


Free Parking and Shuttle Available at These Convenient Lots

Blossom Shuttle

(ADA Parking only at Blackburn Park) Montgomery Marist School 3790 Ashford Dunwoody Rd Elementary School

Ashford Green

Brookhaven Marta Station

YMCA - For 5K race only Runners walk to Park.

Brookhaven, GA 30319

3995 Ashford Dunwoody Rd Brookhaven, GA 30319

Follow signs for parking & dedicated buses. 4047 Peachtree Rd NE, Brookhaven, GA 30319

FREE Admission! Hours

Saturday, March 24, 10:00a.m. – 6:00p.m. Sunday, March 25, 10:00a.m. – 6:00p.m.


From I-285, take the Ashford Dunwoody Road exit and head south to Blackburn Park, 3501 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., Brookhaven, Georgia, 30319.

5K/1K Race

Runners (and walkers too) get ready to show the “spring” in your step. For more details and registration information, please visit www.BrookCherryFest.org.

4170 Ashford Dunwoody Rd Brookhaven, GA 30319

2002 Summit Blvd. Brookhaven, GA 30319

3693 Ashford Dunwoody Rd, Brookhaven, GA 30319

Kidz Zone

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta hosts the incredible Kidz Zone for inflatables, face painting, sand art, and much more!


Perimeter Summit

Pet World Returns! Dahlonega Action Dogs are back and ready for shows both Saturday and Sunday for a barking good time. Be sure to line up at 1:30 on Sunday for the ever-popular Cherry Blossom Pet Parade. There will be fabulous prizes for Best Costume and Fan Favorites. The Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival is proud to be a pet-friendly Festival! All pets must remain on a leash at all times.

Classic Car Show

Car lovers will certainly enjoy the classic car show on Saturday only. Don’t miss it!

Festival Cuisine

Make sure to come hungry, as foodie fans will find gyros, BBQ, gourmet corn dogs, Jerk chicken and lots more!

Adult Beverages

Beer, wine and vodka lemonade may be purchased by those 21 years of age and older with a valid ID. Soft drinks and bottled water are also available for purchase. No outside food or beverages may be brought into the Festival.

Discover DeKalb Stone Mountain Park Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Emory Healthcare Regency Centers LeafFilter Perimeter Summit Oglethorpe University Atlanta Braves


www.facebook.com/brookhavenblossomfest2018 SS

www.SplashFestivals.com Go to SplashFestivals.com to volunteer.

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Sunday, March 25, Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford Dunwoody Rd. FEES








6:30-7:15 AM 5K START

7:30 AM 1K START


Register at www.BrookCherryFest.org Convention & Visitors Bureau

This 5K is a certified 2019 Peachtree Road Race qualifier.


Community | 19

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Experts discuss ways residents can help tree, water protections BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Protecting such natural resources as the tree canopy and stream water quality is on the city’s agenda this year. The Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods is looking for ways that residents can help in their own back yards. At its March 13 annual meeting, held at Lost Corner Preserve, the coalition of homeowners associations held a panel discussion on the topic. About 40 people attended to hear from the experts, who included: Alan Toney, chairman of the Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District; Jason Ulseth of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group; Gilbert Quinones, the city’s chief engineer; and Jesus Davila, the city’s building and land development manager. The main ideas: residents can help with even basic tree-planting and maintenance, and volunteer on waterquality testing efforts. Residents had some ideas of their own, too, including tougher protections against clear-cutting of trees for developments. Another piece of advice: If something appears to be pollution or a similar natural resource problem, report it to the city or Fulton County government. Ronda Smith, the council’s president, said she recently reported a sewage leak in a creek. “I like to say, if you smell something, say something,” Smith said. The city’s 24-hour Call Center is at 770730-5600 and the county’s sewer leak reporting line for this area is 404-612-3061.

Tree canopy

The city is working on an updated and improved tree inventory after concerns that previous mapping of the canopy was inaccurate. That would help with more strategic tree-planting, officials have said, often done in collaboration with such groups as Trees Atlanta. However, Ulseth said his group works with Trees Atlanta as well, and says they are finding that they can never plant enough trees to make up for the pace of cutting in today’s developments. He said the policy priority has to shift to advocacy to “save the trees we have,” not just plant more, which in any case will take decades to mature. Ulseth said some cities ban the total bulldozing of a property, regardless of its redevelopment plan. Resident Karen Meinzen McEnerny said Sandy Springs needs a similar policy to “stop the clearcutting in our community.” Some residents said they want better advance notice on clear-cutting plans. Davila said the city arborist reviews all plans, but he and Quinones added that the plans SS

often changed — in some cases, perhaps intentionally as a dodge to avoid controversy. Quinones said the city is now requiring more initial engineering on such issues as sewer, stormwater and road systems to avoid such surprises, but that has to balance with the costs to developers who may not gain the zoning or permits they need to recoup the investment. Bill Cleveland of the Sandy Springs Environmental Project said the city and residents alike could do a better job of removing invasive vines that strangle trees. Smith said residents should plant trees in their yards and hire an arborist — not simply a tree-removal company — to assess their current trees.

Water quality and flooding

Stormwater runoff is a key problem in the city, contributing to both water pollution and flooding. The city reportedly aims to better educate residents this year about runoff mitigation, and to study the Nancy Creek watershed in southeastern Sandy Springs to reduce flooding. Trees and other plants play a role here, too. Quinones said that big contributors to flooding are people clearing plants in the yards along the creeks, which increases erosion and runoff, and not cleaning up trees and other large debris that fall into the water, damming it and increasing floods. Such problems were seen along Nancy Creek on a walk last year organized by the Council of Neighborhoods, he said. Some homeowners don’t realize their property line goes all the way to the center of the stream, making them responsible for cleaning up fallen trees in the water, he said. A resident of the Huntcliff community in the north end said they did a similar Chattahoochee cleanup that significantly reduced their flooding. Ulseth said that more development is ultimately the issue, however, as it creates more runoff, which in turn creates erosion that causes the tree falls. Water quality in the streams and river vary day to day, Ulseth and Toney said. In general, it’s clean enough for swimming, except when it rains and immediately after. Sewage and other polluted runoff then can increase. There are a couple of volunteer programs that help officials monitor water quality. One is the state’s “Adopt A Stream,” involving a monthly water collection analyzed in a home mini-lab, Ulseth said. More accurate and useful, he said, is the Riverkeeper’s own “Neighborhood Water Watch,” with weekly collections dropped off for full lab analysis and results posted live to the website. More volunteers are needed for that program, whose duties can be split among several neighbors, Ulseth said.

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20 | Community

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City goes to court over vacant house, but neighbors want long-term fix Continued from page 1 plate, for at least 10 days. A wire or cable dangled from the roof chest-high across the front door. On the door was an undated sticker from ServiceLink, a company that maintains properties for mortgage lenders, saying it had “inspected the property and found it to be vacant or abandoned.” Through the windows, which had no curtains or blinds, the interior appeared mostly empty, with a few boxes, some patio furniture and a plasticcovered couch visible. Out back, stagnant water filled a pool cover and an old countertop was propped against a wall. A gutter peeled away from the roofline. The city has taken the identified responsible owner, Valeria Melo (sometimes spelled “Waleria” in city documents) to court three times for code violations, some of them resolved, some of them not, according to Code Enforcement Manager Yvonne Smith. The last the city saw of Melo was a year ago, when she filed permits to make court-ordered repairs, Smith said. “She disappeared again. She never did any repairs on the exterior or interior, as far as we are aware of,” Smith said of Melo. The city court had placed Melo on six months’ probation, but the probation

officer could not find her, Smith added. Melo did not respond to voicemails left at a cellphone number she once gave to neighbors and that is listed as hers in city Code Enforcement records. The city is gearing up to go to court again to declare the property a “nuisance” and make limited repairs, Smith said. But after years of code complaints, neighbors are getting frustrated with the lack of a solution. “We’re just not getting anywhere,” said Phil Taylor, a neighbor who reports seeing “squatters” in the property in recent years. The swimming pool has been an ongoing concern. “The pool is full of mosquitos during the summer,” he said. “Copperhead snakes are enjoying the frog-hunting in this area.” Chris Sams, who lives next door, is one of the few to report meeting Melo since her latest court appearance. During Tropical Storm Irma last year, he said, a massive tree fell from 1115 Old Woodbine into his

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Top, A storage unit, two vehicles and several trash bags sit outside the house at 1115 Old Woodbine Road on March 6. Left, Several trash bags lay outside the house’s garage door during the recent visit.

yard, crushing a car and damaging a fence and arbor. Pointing out the new yellow wood on the repaired fence, he said it took weeks to get Melo to respond to fixing the damage on her side of the line. However, he said, she did show up and had a worker take care of it. But she hasn’t been seen since, and the rest of the property remains in its current state. “It’s a blight, that’s for sure,” Sams said. Taylor and Sams said that there is word that frozen pipes burst at one time in the house, causing expensive damage, and that liens and mortgages may be preventing repairs or redevelopment. The house’s owner is listed in Fulton County property records as Silvio Melo. Smith said he is Valeria’s apparently former husband and that only Valeria appears to be responsible for the property and appeared for court cases. Another concern is possible use of the property for some type of business. Sams said he once located Melo via an Alabama stone company — she is no longer its registered agent, according to state records there — and neighbors say they see strangers on the property from time to time, along with the boxes and storage unit. “I think there is evidence to show she is either using the house as storage or using it for her business,” said Smith. During the recent visit, a package lay on the front step. It was addressed to a Waleria De Souza Alves — which Smith said is Melo’s maiden name — at Phoenix Stone Design. According to state corporation records, that business has been registered in De Souza Alves’s name at 1115 Old Woodbine since 2014 and most recently renewed on Jan. 5, 2018.

City Code Enforcement records show that a business license was among many potential code violations investigated at the property in repeated visits since 2015. Uncut grass, a lack of secured fencing around the pool, and damaged exterior siding and gutters were among violations found in 2016, according to Smith. After getting no response, the city went to court on Sept. 2, 2016, and got an order allowing officials to make repairs themselves, Smith said. That included putting pesticide in the pool to kill mosquito larvae during a Zika virus outbreak, she said. Then Melo “showed up out of the blue” and cleaned up some of the issues, Smith said. However, the structural issues were not fixed. The city went back to court on Sept. 27, 2016 and Melo promised to make the repairs, Smith said. “She disappeared. … We believe she went to Brazil,” Smith said. A return to court in March 2017 had a similar outcome. Now the city aims to go to court yet again, starting the process by seeking at least five resident signatures on a nuisance petition. That would let the city do basic cleanup, though “the city likely would not renovate the property,” Smith said. Taylor and Sams hope for more than that. They said the neighbors are arranging a meeting with City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio and City Attorney Dan Lee for more advice. DeJulio did not return a phone message. Smith cautioned that there is only so much the city can do on private property. “When you have an absentee owner or people who don’t want to comply,” she said, “you run into a brick wall with compliance.” SS

Making a Difference | 21

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Battling hunger, one backpack at a time Backpack Buddies provides weekend meals for elementary school students BY DONNA WILLIAMS LEWIS Ice and snow had paralyzed Atlanta for two straight days, but at the first sign of thawing, Ronald and Samra Robbins headed out on their weekly mission. They were off to a former storage room at Dunwoody’s Congregation Beth Shalom, a room filled with shelves of food and work tables. This space has become operations central for Backpack Buddies, a program launched by Ronald and Samra in November. Backpack Buddies provides six weekend meals for 50 children at Kingsley Elementary School, where 55 percent of 500 students qualify for free and reducedprice breakfast and lunch. “Twenty percent of all children in America go to sleep hungry at night. That’s an incredible number when you think of all the money sent overseas,” Ronald said. Kingsley Principal Melanie Pearch said Backpack Buddies has been “a great example of the community and school working together.” “Ronald reached out to us, and it’s just been awesome,” Pearch said. She says the program has helped show families that their school is a resource for them. She’s also happy with the way students have responded to the program. “What’s so cool is there’s like no stigma attached to it at all,” Pearch said. “There’s such a level of respect.”

‘It’s a wonderful feeling’

At 10 a.m. on that frosty Friday, Ronald and Samra were in position at Congregation Beth Shalom, greeting nine volunteers, some familiar, most new. Some of the program’s volunteers come from the synagogue. Others have come from the community, hearing about the pro-

Making A Difference gram through neighborhood networks. The heavy lifting had been done before any of them got there. At least once a month, Ronald, 70, and Samra, 67, visit the Atlanta Food Bank to pick up 600 to 800 pounds of nonperishable food. They load the food into their SUV, then drive to the synagogue and unload it all. Today’s weekly task, normally done on Wednesday mornings, was to sort 16 specific foods into each of 50 small bins: four protein products, two vegetable items, two cereals, two fruits, two milks, two juices and two snacks. Once a month, a jar of peanut butter and crackers is added to the mix. This was the week. Carla Wertheimer, a self-employed landscape architect, was one of the newbie volunteers that day. “I’m not working so much anymore, and I like to volunteer,” she said. “I grew up volunteering, and that’s what we teach our kids — to give back.”

A Backpack Buddies bin of food.

Lidet Yilma packed food with her sons, Nebiyou, 7, and Henok, 6, who attend Vanderlyn Elementary School. “We just wanted to help out in the community, and this was a perfect opportunity,” Yilma said. “It’s cool,” Nebiyou said, “packing up food for kids who don’t have it.” Beth Shalom Rabbi Mark Zimmerman said people want to help each other, but they often need a structure in which to participate and channel their efforts. Backpack Buddies provides such a structure, he said. “It’s an awesome idea, and it affords


us a wonderful opportunity to do good works in the community and help families out in this way,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.” By 10:45 a.m., the bins were filled and volunteers were bagging up their contents for delivery to Kingsley, where school personnel would place them in backpacks provided by Backpack Buddies. Students are called to pick them up from the office on Fridays and they return the backpacks on Mondays, so the Continued on page 22

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www.georgiaprimarybank.com Volunteer Carla Wertheimer loads nutrition bars into bins for the Backpack Buddies program at Dunwoody’s Congregation Beth Shalom, as program co-founder Ronald Robbins looks on.

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22 | Making a Difference

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Battling hunger, one backpack at a time Continued from page 21 cycle can begin again.

Filling the food gap

One in every four children in Georgia struggles with hunger, according to Feeding America, a national hunger-relief network of 200 food banks, including the Atlanta Food Bank. Backpack Buddies is far from alone in its efforts to fill the weekend food gap. Through Feeding America’s “BackPack Program,” bags of food are assembled at more than 160 food banks around the country and distributed to more than 450,000 children at the end of the week, according to the program’s website. The Atlanta Food Bank works to fill kids’ weekend food gap by partnering with

groups such as the one launched by Ronald and Samra and a Coweta County nonprofit organization, Backpack Buddies of Georgia. Launched in 2011, that group currently serves about 550 children “at risk” for hunger in 23 elementary, middle and high schools in the Coweta County School System, according to April Anderson, its founder and president. Ronald and Samra also have done Backpack Buddies since 2011, when Ronald initiated a program at their synagogue in Savannah, Ga. More than 25 similar programs are in operation there, they said. Childhood sweethearts at Atlanta’s Grady High School who married in 1969, Ronald and Samra moved around the country during Ronald’s 32 years with the Ford Motor Company, settling in Savannah after he retired.


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Above, Backpack Buddies cofounder Samra Robbins gives volunteers an orientation. Left, volunteers Jack Linder and Lidet Yilma bag sorted food for delivery to Kingsley Elementary.

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Making a Difference | 23

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net They moved back ed for the program beto Atlanta last April to cause it was close. Stuhelp one of their three dents were prioritized, daughters with her medparents signed releasical needs. They joined es, and on Nov. 1, BackBeth Shalom in June and pack Buddies was up right away set to work and running, serving proposing a Backpack 25 children. By JanuBuddies program. ary, they were up to 50, Quickly winning apand they hope to serve proval from the syn75 children by April. agogue’s board of di“We’ve had to move a rectors, they got busy Volunteer Richard Luftig fills bins. lot of boulders along the raising money, securing way,” Robert said. “We storage space and getting approved by the really don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Atlanta Food Bank, which charges a small Their goals are to serve 100 students handling fee per pound of food received. at Kingsley next year, increase volunBackpack Buddies also accepts food teer participation from their synagogue, donations, and Samra usually shops sevand to encourage others across the meteral times a month at grocery and dollar ro area to start similar programs. stores for items they need when the Food “I think people are surprised,” Samra Bank doesn’t have them. said, “at how little time it takes to do someKingsley Elementary was selectthing so important for so many children.”

I am a candidate for an open seat on the Fulton County Superior Court for the May 22, 2018 election. I decided to seek this position because the citizens of Fulton County should have a highly qualified judge to represent their interests. The citizens of Fulton County expect and deserve to be served by a judiciary that is transparent and fair. I will serve the citizens in an expeditious manner that is transparent and fair. My legal career of twenty-two years has afforded me a broad range of experience which includes private practice, Assistant Solicitor for the City of Atlanta, and most recently, supervising the largest division of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office as a Deputy District Attorney. Each of these positions were in service to Fulton County Citizens, resulting in a wealth of knowledge, understanding and respect for the great people of Fulton County. As Georgia’s laws become more complex, there is a call for judges who demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects all citizens. More importantly, all judges should serve from the moral position that every citizen who stands before the court has both a legal and constitutional right to fair and unbiased proceedings and rulings. Having served as lead counsel on a gamut of case types, I am equipped with the years and variety of legal experience to ensure my ability to serve as your next Fulton County Superior Court Judge with wisdom, fairness and a work ethic that has gone unmatched. I have included a list of professionals from various fields who serve our community and who support my candidacy for this position. I am asking you to join them and vote for me on May 22, 2018. Early voting begins on April 30, 2018.

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New book makes ‘Case for Life’ against the death penalty BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

At the heart of the Christian story of Easter is an execution followed by a resurrection. It’s a story that Rev. Robert Wright, bishop of the Buckhead-based Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, says tells us a lot about Georgia’s modern-day death penalty. The execution of Jesus involved, he says, “an indifferent governor, in collusion with religious people, put to death. There’s something about that collusion …

And they did it in a hurry so they could all get to church on time … We can’t trust the government to make this decision.” Wright was speaking at a Feb. 15 event unveiling “A Case for Life,” a slim book of essays arguing against the death penalty. He arranged the publication and wrote one of the pieces in it. Held at Sandy Springs’ Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church, the event included a panel discussion featuring Sister Helen Prejean, the famed author of “Dead Man

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Atlanta Catholic Archbishop Wilton Gregory and Sister Helen Prejean sit among the audience for a portion of the Feb. 15 event.


Walking,” along with other religious and that of victims and their loved ones. secular death penalty opponents. “We can do both. Vengeance and jusPrejean said the death penalty violates tice are two different ideas,” said Wright. the Christian Gospel by saying “we’re goHe suggested it is death penalty supporters ing to imitate the worst kind of violence.” whose view is lopsided: “We want the grace Wright led the discussion, which inof Jesus for ourselves. But we want an eye cluded Rev. Wilton Gregory, the Roman for an eye and a tooth for a tooth to others.” Catholic archbishop for Atlanta; forPrejean, a Catholic nun from Louisimer Georgia Supreme Court Chief Jusana, earned fame and sparked internationtice Norman Fletcher; and Susan Casey, al conversation with her 1993 book “Dead a defense attorney for Kelly GissendanMan Walking” and its Oscar-winning film er, a murderer controversially executed adaptation. The book is about her counselby the state of Georgia in 2015. ing of two rapists and murderers who were A theme of the discussion was abolishexecuted and her argument that they deing Georgia’s death penalty and pushing served dignity and redemption. for a system of “restorative jusThe death penalty violates tice,” a kind of mediation involvinternational precepts of huing criminals and victims rather man rights to life and against than a system of pure punishtorture, she said, as “Torture’s ment. inherent to the death penalWright said the intent of the ty.” She complained that many forum was to spur advocacy to Catholics proclaim the right to “kill the death penalty.” The book life against abortion and the he conceived is part of that efprotection of “innocent life,” fort. but support the death penal“A Case for Life” is a slim volty. “What about the dignity of SPECIAL ume of five essays he said is inguilty life?” she asked. Atlanta Episcopal tended “to create five doorways She acknowledged that such Bishop Robert Wright. into the issue so we might wake famous Catholic theologians as up.” He, Casey and Fletcher are Thomas Aquinas supported the among the contributors, along with Bishdeath penalty in certain cases, likening it to op C. Andrew Doyle of the Episcopal Diokilling a rabid dog or cutting off a gangrecese of Texas and Stephen Bright, former nous limb. But, Prejean argued, today such director of Atlanta’s Southern Center for extremes are unnecessary. Human Rights and an attorney who has “The people of Georgia don’t need to do argued many death penalty cases, includthat anymore,” she said of the death penalty. ing before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Gregory, the Catholic archbishop, book is available on the Atlanta Diocese’s agreed. “Once you begin to justify the website at cathedralbookstore.org. taking of a human life, you really are on Wright said he, like many people, a slippery slope” that leads to loss of the did not give the death penalty serious “dignity of human life,” he said. thought for years. Then he realized that One man in the audience politely prothe state’s death row, located in a Butts tested the claim that the death penalty is County prison, is within his diocese, anti-Christian. making everyone there technically his “With all due respect, I have to object religious “neighbor.” Among the inforto the notion … that I am not a Christian, mation that convinced him of the death that my faith is challenged,” he said, addpenalty injustice is the number of exoning, “I must confess I do not possess limiterated former death row convicts — 161 less divine forgiveness in my heart.” in the U.S. since 1973, according to the Wright noted the large number of Death Penalty Information Center, a death row exonerations. “I don’t know nonprofit organization that gathers data how much more answer we need,” het largely critical of the death penalty. said, and the audience member said Wright noted a frequent criticism that that’s the most convincing counterargudeath penalty opponents focus on the ment to him. suffering of the perpetrator rather than

for local news and information! We’re honored that Reporter Newspapers won 12 awards, including three first-place selections in its division, in the Georgia Press Association’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest.


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Coping with a Crisis: Opioid addiction in the suburbs


After eight O.D.s and a prison scare, a Dunwoody resident helps others on the road to getting clean Chris Zollman visits a sober living residence he operates in Chamblee.

Continued from page 1 He got his chance in early 2015 after LifeLine closed following Miller’s relapse. Zollman, with two drug-free years under his belt, opened Stepping Stones in the likeness of LifeLine. Since then, Zollman has overseen three six-person residences in north DeKalb County. The scruffy 27-year-old spends his days visiting each facility to collect mandatory drug tests and offers counsel to residents if they’re struggling. It’s for a simple goal: survival. On a recent evening in one of Stepping Stones’ facilities, a 21-year-old aspiring photographer played chess to take his mind off of cravings for heroin, which recently landed him in trouble with the law. “A lot of places sell you this hope and dream,” the resident said. “Here, it’s all about the people in this program that charges a fair price.”

Entering the treatment minefield

Only 10 percent of the estimated 2.2 million Americans who need opioid-use disorder treatment actually get it, according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Surgeon General. The kind of treatment available across metro Atlanta varies greatly, from five-figure inpatient pro-

grams that resemble summer camps to doctors offering $1,000 monthly injections to block opioids from interacting with the brain. But the struggles faced by America’s addiction industry — from the high price tag and scarcity of evidence-based treatments — means that finding treatment that works is about as easy as walking through a minefield. Growing numbers of drug users flock to sober living residences — paying a few hundred dollars to $1,500 a month — that are quietly located in houses or apartments in Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. This model of housing offers people in recovery a drug-free place to live accompanied by access to the 12step programs, a strict curfew, and work or treatment obligations. Zollman embodies one of the biggest draws of these facilities: Operators are often recovering users with success stories from the very same programs. But some critics also see it a weakness. The operators aren’t usually trained medical professionals, and such facilities sometimes embrace treatment programs based on anecdotes rather than scientific evidence. Sometimes the medicine shown to be most effective in reducing the risk of relapse is banned outright from facilities like Stepping Stones. But Zollman swears by Stepping

Stones’ hardline approach. “You’re buying time until you have a moment of clarity,” he said. After all, it worked for him. The first time Zollman tried opioids, he was a 15-year-old student at Chattahoochee High School. A doctor prescribed an opioid painkiller called Lortab after a car accident. By the time he enrolled at Georgia State, he advanced from taking pills to selling thousands each month. He graduated with a business degree even though he transitioned from pills to heroin. Three years ago, taking advantage of his second chance, Zollman rented a house from a man who lost his son to an overdose. He converted the house into a sober living residence. One residence led to two more — all within a short drive from where Zollman lives in Dunwoody. He now works with 18 men who found the program by court referrals, online searches and word of mouth. They typically pay around $800 a month. The monthly rent for one of his residences — a three-bedroom apartment in a Chamblee complex — runs about $1,400, according to the management group’s website. Zollman said he has experienced some neighbors who were irritated that a sober living residence was on the block. But he believes “we’re some of the best neighbors to have.” He says that’s because of the program’s rules, which include a 10:30 p.m.


curfew, mandatory drug testing, and a requirement to either get treatment or a job. Local cities loosely regulate sober living residences, if they do at all. To get his launched, all Zollman had to do was obtain business permits and work within the codes already on the books. That still wasn’t always easy: some cities prevent more than three people who aren’t bloodrelated from living in the same unit. But he found a loophole: If his clients perform some sort of “staff role” — from doing chores to admitting new patients — they don’t count against that three-person limit. As it is, many sober living residences already dole out housekeeping responsibilities to help clients readjust to society. “Zoning has always been an issue, and is still an issue [in some cities],” he says. “I think they should be more welcoming. If we had a house full of cancer patients, this conversation would be totally different.”

Shady operators

For every above-board provider of addiction care — whether it’s an inpatient or outpatient program — stories of shady facilities are not hard to find. Zollman’s heard of facilities that charge people “relapse fees” to stay after a major program violation. One of his clients, who asked not to be identified, said he once attended a treatment program where drug deal-

Community | 27

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net ers moved in across the street to lure former users back to using heroin. Even providers with medical credentials can pose hazards to the clients. Dr. Michael Fishman, one of the top addiction doctors at Talbott Recovery — which has several metro locations, including an outpatient program in Dunwoody — had his medical license suspended after being charged with the illegal possession of dozens of oxycodone pills in 2017. State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) has received reports of some Georgia facilities paying a referral fee to a headhunter to get patients into their facilities — in hopes of overcharging their insurers. “People are taking advantage of people struggling with addiction,” said state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, a Republican representing Marietta and Sandy Springs, who has co-sponsored Unterman’s bill to clamp down on the practice of patient brokering. “It’s a matter of finding addicts and offering them services that aren’t really services at all.” The model embraced by most sober living residences — no use of medication that includes opioids — has drawn criticism from many doctors. Scores of studies have found that opioid-based medicines such as buprenorphine, best known by the brand name Suboxone, can reduce the likelihood of relapse better than other methods of treatment. Yet Dr. Stuart Gitlow, former president of the Ameri-

can Society of Addiction Medicine, says many sober living residency operators like Zollman ban their clients from taking buprenorphine because of the longstanding misconception that those treatments “substitute one drug for another.” “If they’re taking buprenorphine as prescribed, they’re not using it for addictive reasons, so it should be fine to take there,” Gitlow says. “Instead, folks in those facilities are not allowed to take the treatment that’s most likely to lead to long-term recovery.”

Zollman cites stories of potential abuse — not science — as grounds for banning these treatments at his residences. If the 12-step program worked in his experience, it can work for his clients, he figures. Despite his confidence in his methods, he says long-term recordkeeping about relapse rates is difficult in part because some clients fall out of contact. “A year out, a majority of my clients graduate,” he said. “After that, it’s hard to keep track.” It’s been six years since Zollman got his shot to turn his life around. He

stayed clean. He’s engaged to someone he met in recovery. He now wants to expand the number people he’s helping. To do so, and to avoid zoning restrictions of DeKalb cities, he’s moving his residences to Cobb County. He believes the higher concentration of treatment options there — as documented in the latest season of the popular TV show “Intervention” — will best serve his clients as they try to improve their lives. “I see people going through living hell,” he says. “Everyone deserves a shot.”

Max Blau is an Atlantabased journalist who has written about healthcare, drugs and addiction for such outlets as the Boston Globe and CNN.

Second of a 4-Part Series

A 21-year-old Stepping Stones resident, who asked not to be named, plays chess to take his mind off of cravings for heroin.

The combination of prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids is killing people around the nation, including within Reporter Newspapers communities. In this exclusive four-part series, we will look at how local families, nurses, prosecutors, recovering addicts and others are responding to a growing epidemic that already kills more people than cars, guns or breast cancer each year. To share your thoughts and stories, email editor@reporternewspapers.net. To read previous stories in this series, visit ReporterNewspapers.net.

Sandy Springs prepares to sue opioid industry; other cities may join BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs is preparing to sue prescription drug makers and distributors over the opioid addiction epidemic. And its attorney says other local cities — including Atlanta, Brookhaven and Dunwoody — are considering suing as well. Dunwoody is “discussing” the possibility, while Brookhaven has “no plans at this time” to sue, spokespeople for the cities later said. Sandy Springs’ strategy is to join hundreds of other local governments — including DeKalb and Fulton counties — in lawsuits that are being heard by a single federal judge in Cleveland, Ohio, to speed them along. The City Council’s consensus for City Attorney Dan Lee to draft a lawsuit for formal approval came March 6, the day after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department will support such local lawsuits. “I don’t have to tell you all, it is an epidemic, especially through north Georgia,” Lee told the City Council about opioid addiction. Opioids are a class of addictive, often easily lethal drugs that include opium, morphine, heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl, among others. Together, they

are estimated to kill over 50,000 Americans a year, and addicting many others, in a crisis that is trending upward. Streetdrug versions now kill the most people through overdoses, but the gist of the lawsuits is that major drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies sparked the crisis with deceptive marketing and overuse of prescription painkillers. Lee, speaking after the City Council meeting, called the opioid addiction crisis “a social problem that was generated by bad players.” He said he’s heard the situation likened to crack and meth — if they were sold with TV ads and other mainstream industry marketing. The lawsuit, Lee said, would present the city as an “injured party” due to its costs in caring for people addicted to and overdosing on opioids. He said lawyers have created a formula to estimate the city’s cost in such areas as police and Fire Rescue Department resources. Police Chief Ken DeSimone said those costs are real and frequent, with officers responding to overdose calls “weekly.” Just days earlier, DeSimone said, police responded to a man-and-woman couple who overdosed on opioids in a home with about six children. The woman survived, he said, but the man died. The lawsuit would become one of

many bundled for review — but not literally combined, as in a class-action lawsuit — in the Cleveland federal court, where they could see possible settlement or return to local jurisdictions, according to Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The judge and the strategy of bundled lawsuits were profiled March 5 in the New York Times. Lee likened the strategy to the tobacco industry lawsuits of the 1990s, where many states sued cigarette-makers for years of false advertising and hiding data on health dangers and addiction risks. Lee, a former state senator, recalled that Georgia balanced its budget with a tobacco lawsuit settlement payment. Lee said he has discussed the lawsuit strategy with city attorneys of other jurisdictions expressing interest in doing the same, including Atlanta, Brookhaven and Dunwoody. Sandy Springs City Councilmember John Paulson said he supports suing for the financial reimbursement, and on the theory that the more cities that join up, the more likely a solution to the crisis becomes. Mayor Rusty Paul recalled a meeting of north Fulton mayors about a year ago where the scope of the opioid crisis was discussed and two heroin addicts

in recovery spoke. “I was just astonished at the story of families … upscale families in north Fulton,” who had faced addiction and dead family members, Paul said. The city of Atlanta did not immediately respond to comment requests about possible opioid lawsuits. Dunwoody’s city government “is discussing the issue, [and] the suits and actions being taken in the region, but no decision has been made,” according to spokesperson Bob Mullen, who added that the police department has saved lives with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. The city of Brookhaven is not joining the lawsuits for now, according to spokesperson Burke Brennan. “We are aware of its existence,” said Brennan about the lawsuits and the strategy. “However, Brookhaven does not provide emergency medical services in response to the crisis. There are no plans at this time to participate in this lawsuit.” Brookhaven does not have a city fire department or ambulance service, with DeKalb County providing both services. However, it does have a police department, whose officers have carried naloxone since 2015.

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Thousands of students join walkout protests



Thousands of students at local schools in Buckhead, Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs participated in a nationwide protest on March 14 to call for gun control measures a month after 17 people were killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. At North Atlanta High School in Buckhead, students gathered in the football field held signs that “resist violence, promote peace” and “never again.” Other students played marching band drums and led chants, according to video distributed by Atlanta Public Schools. At Chamblee Charter High School near Brookhaven and Cross Keys High School in Brookhaven, students carried homemade signs demanding an end to school-related gun violence and engaged in passionate chants as they walked around campus, according to the DeKalb County School District. Students at Chamblee Middle School near Brookhaven held an assembly in the gym run by the student council president and vice president. They read a biography of each of the 17 victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and held a moment of silence. About 80 percent of the school’s students participated, the district said in a press release. Hundreds of Dunwoody High School students participated in the walkout, and a small subgroup of students also counter-protested, the school district said. The Atlanta Jewish Academy in Sandy Springs also planned a walkout. The walkout came a month after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Proposal for new road through park falls flat with residents

A path in the Reading Park at the Sandy Springs Branch Library, which could be replaced with a new cut-through street.

Continued from page 1 The grid concept could still work without the cut-through road, just less efficiently, said Steve Tiedemann, the city’s manager of projects funded by a transportation special local option tax, which includes the intersection. “It’s not the end of the world for me if it goes away,” Tiedemann said of the cutthrough street concept. The city presented the design options in two community meetings March 8 at Congregation B’nai Torah, together drawing more than 180 people, according to city officials. The current intersection is an unusual X-shaped configuration complicated by Boylston Drive entering from the south. Located just a block east of busy Roswell Road, the intersection is known as dangerous and gridlocked during rush hour, though traffic can be light at most other times. City officials said there were more than 150 accidents reported there in 2014 through 2016. For several years, the city worked on a redesign involving dual roundabouts. Those options drew immediate criticism after their 2015 unveiling for the land-taking required and for concerns they would make traffic worse and more dangerous. Last year, Mayor Rusty Paul and the City Council called for other design alternatives. Among their considerations was how a new intersection would fit with connecting projects: possible multiuse paths and multimodal lanes and a triangular park proposed along Roswell Road. A dual roundabout is still an option, just shifted about 50 feet to the southeast. But city officials clearly favor the new grid options, saying they are less expensive and, unlike the roundabouts, would improve future rush-hour traffic flow. In the grid concept, the intersection


would be eliminated, with Mount Vernon and Johnson Ferry reconfigured as separate streets running parallel, though very close together, through that area. Boylston Drive would end there in a T intersection rather than going across both streets. To maintain connection between Mount Vernon and Johnson Ferry for crossover traffic, a new road would be built through the park at the eastern end of the library property at 395 Mount Vernon Highway N.E. The road would have two lanes in each direction and a new traffic light at both ends. Without that road, drivers would have to use Glenridge Drive as the crossover spot instead. The grid comes in two versions, the “full” grid and a “compressed” grid where the streets are pinched together more closely, requiring less land-taking. However, the design still requires a lot of land-taking: all commercial properties on the south side of the intersection between Roswell and Boylston would be taken, including a Chevron gas station and an Enterprise car rental outlet, officials have said. In all three options, the streets become two-way all the way, instead of oneway at the Roswell Road intersection as they are today. And all options show a 10-foot-wide multiuse path lining the streets, with the grid options also featuring six-foot-wide sidewalks. All three designs also preserve some amount of green space for a park at Roswell Road. In the roundabouts, the space is 0.7 acres. The full grid would create a miniature linear park of 2.4 acres. The compressed grid creates 0.8 acres at Roswell Road and a 0.3-acre patch adjacent to the library. Another big change in all options is prohibiting today’s left-hand turns onto Mount Vernon from southbound Roswell Road, in favor of creating a longer

turn lane for northbound traffic seeking to go west on Johnson Ferry.

Concerns and opinions

City engineers already say they prefer the grid options, primarily because of the projected traffic in 2020. They say that westbound evening rush-hour traffic with the roundabouts would take about six minutes to get through the intersection — the same as it does right now. Either grid option brings that down to three minutes, they say. Tiedemann told one attendee of the evening meeting that the roundabout option “works worse than if you don’t do anything at all” in terms of traffic. “Those don’t function very well” in that intersection, he said. Some residents expressed big-picture concerns about whether the project is necessary. They say traffic is primarily a rushhour problem, and the project amounts to over-building to serve out-of-town commuters. But the project is on the official, voter-approved TSPLOST list, which the city by law must attempt to complete. Residents had differing opinions as to whether the options would reduce or increase cut-through traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods. Some were concerned how it would affect the separate but connected plan to add multimodal lanes farther east on Mount Vernon. That highly controversial concept will return in another meeting, possibly in May, and likely will involve fewer than the originally proposed four-lane road, Tiedemann said. As for particular options, the opinions varied, but the grid’s cut-through road was a factor in forming them. Several people who preferred the roundabouts said they did so because it didn’t take the library land. And several people unhappy with the grid said they might support it without the cut-through street. Known as the Reading Park, the green space targeted by the new road concept was created in 2002 by the Sandy Springs Women’s Club and donated to Fulton County. Featuring trees, benches, paths, a labyrinth and a “peace pole,” it was rededicated in 2006 by the city’s late founding mayor, Eva Galambos, whose name is on a fundraiser brick in the park. A restoration and gazebo area was done in 2010 by Art Sandy Springs, and a more recent garden area was created and maintained

by local resident Dee Bradford-Smith. The Women’s Club and the county library system did not have immediate comment. Randy Young, president of Art Sandy Springs, said that “it would be a shame to see all the citizen effort lost from these past years of having created and maintained this amenity,” but added that if the road project is necessary, it would be good for a similar reading park to be created nearby. Bradford-Smith emphasized that the labyrinth — a maze-like path used for meditation in some religious traditions — and the peace pole make it a “spiritual place,” not just a park. “I just never expected, in my mind, they would make it a fourlane road not even a block long,” she said. Opposition is especially strong from residents whose houses would be at either end of the new cut-through road. Kevin Henze said he and wife Brooke — who just opened the store Swell Forever on nearby Hilderbrand Drive — live in a Johnson Ferry Road house right where the cut-through intersection would be. The couple has two toddlers who they take to the library park. The couple is concerned about increased dangers from backed-up traffic and other impacts, he said, adding he thinks the grid concept has “some merit” without the cut-through. “The personal impact on our house will be pretty severe,” Henze said. “The project encroaches more and more into protected neighborhood space.”

Next steps

The project now enters a 30-day comment period, after which city planning staff will recommend a preferred option and present it to the City Council, which will vote whether and how to proceed. When an option is chosen, Tiedemann said, design and land acquisition would take about 18 months. Then would come a lengthy and probably disruptive construction period of 15 to 18 months. Project costs are estimated at $24 million to $30 million, including land acquisition, with the roundabouts costing more and the grids less. To view presentation materials about the options, see sandyspringsga.gov/jfmv. Comments can be sent through that website or directly to a planning staff member at rsherwood@sandyspringsga.gov.

The “compressed grid” option, with the cut-through street shown to the east.



Public Safety | 31

MARCH 16 - 29, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Police Blotter / Sandy Springs Capt. Steve Rose of the Sandy Springs Police Department provided the following information, which represents some of the reports filed between the dates of Feb. 26 and March 2.

ROBBERY/BURGLARY 5500 block Glenridge Drive — On Feb.

26, a robbery incident was reported after a couple was confronted by a man with a gun in their apartment. The victim retrieved $500 and gave it to the man. The suspect fled after pushing the victim downstairs. 7200 block Roswell Road — On Feb.

28, a burglary was reported after a suspect entered an unsecure building and stole several spools of electrical wiring.

LARCENY 200 block Harbor Pointe Parkway —

On Feb. 27, a 2000 Jeep Cherokee was stolen and involved in an accident in LaGrange, Ga. 4600 block Cherrywood Lane — On

Feb. 27, a Stihl Power blower was stolen from a truck. 800 block Summer Drive — On Feb.

28, a pair of earbuds and an Apple watch were reported stolen.

ARRESTS 7000 block Roswell Road — On Feb.

26, a suspect was arrested and charged with driving without insurance.


Feb. 26 and March 2, six thefts from vehicles were reported.

ASSAULT 7800 block Ro-

swell Road — On Feb. 26, In a heated argument at the workplace, a man put his hands on another man’s arm.

4600 block Stella Drive — On Feb.

26, a suspect was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Cimarron Parkway — On Feb. 26, a

Captain STEVE ROSE, SSPD srose@sandyspringsga.gov

suspect was arrested and charged with child abandonment. 5900 block Roswell Road— On Feb.

27, a suspect was arrested after a drug investigation. 6000 block Roswell Road — On Feb.

27, a suspect was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

1600 block Greyfield Lane — On Feb.

27, a quarrel was quelled after a man reported that his upstairs neighbor exited his apartment and charged at him with a knife. The neighbor said it was in fact the caller who yelled at him, saying that he was going to kill him and challenged him to a parking lot fight.

500 block Sarabrook Place — On Feb.

27, after a domestic dispute, a suspect was arrested and charged with battery.

was arrested and charged with panhandling. Ga. 400 and Spalding Drive — On Feb.

27, a man was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. 1100 block Mount Vernon Highway

— On Feb. 27, a suspect was arrested and charged with panhandling. 900 Hammond Drive — On Feb. 28,

a man was arrested and charged with passing a school bus. 8800 block Roswell Road — On March

1, a man was arrested and charged with having possession of a Nerf gun wrapped in electrical tape after making threatening remarks. 7700 Roswell Road — On March 1,

a convicted felon was arrested and charged with having possession of a firearm.

Ga. 400 ramp

on Abernathy Road — On Feb. 27, a suspect



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In the Parkview on Peachtree shopping center


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