Buckhead Reporter - April 2021

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APRIL 2021 • VOL. 15— NO. 4

Buckhead Reporter AROUND TOWN

A Dunwoody mural artist’s American Dream P17



Garden Hills townhomes project moves ahead after school buys part of site

NYO’s Opening Day means it’s time to play ball


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Hate crimes show need for equity in education P16

Ellison Elrod goes to bat for the Rookie League Orioles at Northside Youth Organization’s Opening Day March 13. The baseball festivities were marked with balloons and other decorations, but no parade or celebration of teams in another pandemic season. NYO is dedicating the season to Hank Aaron, the Major League Baseball great who broke the home-run record in 1974 while enduring intense racism. Aaron, who died in January, is celebrated by all players wearing his number 44 on their uniform sleeves. More photos, p. 13.

‘State of Buckhead’ survey: locals fear crime, love dogs BY JOHN RUCH

The Buckhead Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIPs 30305, 30327 and 30342 For information: delivery@reporternewspapers.net

The results of a first-of-its-kind “State of Buckhead” community survey, released in March, contained few surprises -- among the takeaways are that locals fear crime and love dogs. But the findings may have longterm impacts as a quartet of business-oriented organizations use them to develop a

branding campaign and plans for such programs as public art and dog parks. Intended as the first in a biannual data-gathering process, the survey was circulated late last year by Livable Buckhead, a nonprofit focused on environmental and community programs. While Livable Buckhead paid for the survey, it will also inform See STATE on page 15

A developer’s plan to replace an 80-yearold Garden Hills townhome project with a luxurious new version is moving ahead after a court battle ended in an unusual and expensive deal to preserve a single unit for an owner who refused to sell. Even more unusual was a last-minute purchase of that unit by the adjacent Atlanta International School -- which once sought to buy the entire townhome complex -- for plans that no one involved would explain. The site everyone is so interested in is the 22-unit Delmont Townhomes at Delmont and Sheridan drives, across the street from AIS and Garden Hills Elementary School. Buckhead-based Silver Creek Redevelopment and Hedgewood Homes, the owner and developer, aim to demolish the complex and replace it with 37 new townhomes. At the center of the controversy is Nellyn Van Os, a retired schoolteacher who has lived at 67 Delmont for 35 years. She says she refused the developer’s offers because the plan would destroy solid homes, trees, wildlife, and an affordable and diverse community. “I’ve lived here since 1985 and planned to age in place here because not only [do] I love my home, but it’s a wonderful community and it’s convenient. I mean, it’s a perfect place,” she said. See GARDEN on page 14

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2 | Public Safety

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Order allowing National Guard to police Atlanta continues for shifting reasons BY SAMMIE PURCELL Georgia National Guard troops have once again been granted the ability to act as law enforcement through the authority of Gov. Brian Kemp, as Georgia passed its tenth consecutive month of a militarypoliced state of emergency. On March 4, Kemp renewed the state of emergency declared by executive order, which authorizes the state’s National Guard to act in a law enforcement capacity. The state of emergency was set to expire on April 5 if it is not renewed again. The renewal comes amid concerns of rising crime in Atlanta and related statevs.-city politics, as well as legislative discussions about how to limit the governor’s emergency powers during a time of crisis. The authorization of soldiers policing the city has stayed in place for a variety of changing reasons, from protecting state property to combatting street crime to deterring election-period violence. “It’s just a matter of augmenting the law enforcement professionals to deter things,” said Thomas Carden, an adjutant general of the Georgia Department of Defense who helps advise the governor on whether to extend the state of emergency. “It’s much more efficient to deter a problem than it


is to go to all the expense, the danger, the trouble associated with dealing with a problem once it’s gotten out of hand.”

A History of Executive Orders

On May 29, 2020, Kemp signed an initial executive order declaring a state of emergency in Fulton County in response to unrest in the wake of riots that spun out of protests about the death of George Floyd, who was killed by Minnesota police on May 25. That executive order enabled Fulton County to activate up to 500 National Guard troops because of “unlawful assemblage, violence, overt threats of violence, disruption of the peace and tranquility of Fulton County, and danger existing to persons and property.” On May 30, the governor signed two more executive orders as a preemptive measure for further protests, one authorizing up to 1,500 National Guard troops, and then another extending the state of emergency statewide and calling up an additional 1,500 troops. Those executive orders came mainly in response to the social unrest and outrage over Floyd’s killing. But a July 6, 2020 order, which the governor has renewed multiple times, also listed a “dramatic increase


in violent crime in Georgia’s capital city” as reasoning for the order. The order specifically points to two people killed in shootings: Rayshard Brooks, who was killed by Atlanta Police officers, sparking protests, and 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, a bystander killed while driving past the site of Brooks’s death, where armed protesters were camped. The order also points to damage done by vandals to the Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters on July 5. The July 6 order authorizes the use of up to 1,000 National Guard troops. A press release from the governor’s office said the troops would guard the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead, the State Capitol and the Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters. The executive order also points to the governor’s Public Health Emergency executive order, and states that Georgia’s response to “this state of emergency and the Public Health state of emergency should both proceed simultaneously without one impeding the other.” Carden of the Georgia Department of Defense said that while the most “volatile period” was the summer of 2020, the National Guard has had an almost continuous presence at the State Capitol since then. He said the focus of the National Guard through civil unrest last summer, rising crime and a “contentious” election period in the fall has been deterrence.

Supplementing police


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When the governor first signed the July 6, 2020 order, the governor’s office issued a press release which said the National Guard’s aid would allow law enforcement to focus on patrolling communities rather than protecting state property. The press release points to “weeks of dramatically increased violent crime and property destruction in the City of Atlanta” as one of the reasons for the executive order. Over the Fourth of July weekend in 2020, over 30 Georgians were wounded by gunfire with five confirmed dead. “The lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city,” Kemp said in the July 6 press release. According to the Atlanta Police Department’s weekly crime reports, by the week of Dec. 20-26, 2020, total reported murders were up 62% compared to 2019. Aggravated assault was up 15% and auto theft was up 4%. Other crimes -- rape, robbery, bulglary and larceny -- had decreased compared to 2019. According to Carden, the National Guard has maintained some presence throughout the state, mostly focusing on supplementing police at the State Capitol. He said as of March 8, the National Guard has not arrested anybody since the governor declared a state of emergency. “The emergency order authorized us to

have arrest powers, but what I tell people is, just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” he said. A spokesperson for the Georgia State Patrol said they could not provide a number on how many Georgia State Patrol officers have been freed up to patrol highways and roadways because of assistance from the National Guard, but their presence has helped. In the language of the order itself, 1,000 troops are authorized. According to a spokesperson for the National Guard, 800 members of the National Guard are currently deployed on missions around the state. Those missions include assisting with the Georgia Department of Public Health with COVID-19 testing, assisting at Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) vaccination sites, and assisting law enforcement at the State Capitol. National Guard troops have been active in 26 counties, including Fulton and DeKalb.

Governor’s powers

The extent of the governor’s power during times of emergency has been an important issue for the Georgia legislature since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The legislature met to approve emergency powers for the governor in March of 2020, which allowed Kemp to respond more quickly to the unfolding crisis than the legislature could have. However, even at the time some lawmakers were worried about expanding the governor’s power, according to state Rep. Betsy Holland, a Buckhead Democrat. “Some legislators argued that the emergency powers should have to be explicitly renewed by the legislature every 30 or 60 days, while other legislators maintained that we should allow the governor to decide for himself whether to keep extending the powers,” Holland said in an email. “Obviously, the latter group got their way.” A bill from this year’s legislative session, HB 358, would have required the legislature to give approval to the governor to extend a state of emergency beyond 30 days. The bill did not cross over from its original chamber to another before the 28th day of the legislative session, known as “Crossover Day,” causing it to become inactive until the session begins next year. “As a state, we desperately need to either pass legislation or amend the constitution to better regulate how the governor can be stripped of emergency powers, and I firmly believe the emergency powers should have a clear sunset date that requires a legislative vote for an extension,” Holland said. “While we’re at it, we should make sure that the legislature can meet virtually to do that, so a pandemic or natural disaster couldn’t prevent the legislature from gathering to vote.” BH


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4 | Community

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Atlanta BeltLine tax district gains approval, will take effect this fall BY JOHN RUCH AND COLLIN KELLEY A new Atlanta BeltLine tax district that planners say will enable the loop’s trail portion to be completed by 2030 won City Council approval March 15. The 2-mill

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tax increase for commercial properties and apartment complexes roughly within a half-mile of the BeltLine will take effect this fall. The approval of the “special service district” came despite opposition from many business organizations, apartment landlords and transit advocates. Those opponents variously argued the SSD needed more consideration, should be delayed during the economy-battering pandemic, and should be structured to include the light-rail transit element of the BeltLine as well.

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Atlanta BeltLine Inc., the organization planning and building the loop, says it is facing a $1 billion shortfall from an existing funding mechanism called a tax allocation district. ABI estimates the SSD will enable it to raise $350 million to complete the trail, of which $100 million is to come from unnamed philanthropic groups. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and officials from ABI praised the council vote in a press release issued by the Mayor’s Office. “The Atlanta BeltLine has offered tremendous benefits for businesses and property owners along its completed trails,” said Bottoms in the release. “The SSD will help give communities throughout the city the opportunity to enjoy the benefits associated [with] the closing of the loop.”



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“Our ABI team is thankful to Atlanta City Council for their leadership on the SSD,” said Clyde Higgs, ABI’s CEO, in the release. “A completed Atlanta BeltLine loop is a pathway to greater equity and long-term mobility benefits for residents,

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business owners, and property owners throughout the city. We look forward to deploying all the resources at our disposal to ensure all are able to stay in place and thrive.” Councilmember Howard Shook of North Buckhead, along with Michael Julian Bond and Natalyn Archibong, were in the minority voting against the SSD. Councilmember Jennifer Ide, whose District 6 includes part of southeastern Buckhead, abstained from the vote, stating she had a financial interest in property on the BeltLine. Archibong introduced an amendment to remove BeltLine parcels in the city that are located in DeKalb County. “DeKalb has never had any benefit from the BeltLine, and now it’s suddenly being taxed,” she argued, but her amendment failed to advance. Successful amendments, according to the Mayor’s Office, included a stipulation that SSD funds are used solely for property acquisition, design and construction of the trail. Among the other changes to the final proposal, the Mayor’s Office said, was that ABI will form a “stakeholder advisory board” to oversee the SSD, with members from each BeltLine subarea. Those stakeholders will include owners of commercial and multifamily residential properties; operators of small businesses; and residents of multifamily rental properties. In Buckhead, the only existing piece of the BeltLine is a segment near Atlanta Memorial Park called the Northside Trail, which opened over a decade ago. In recent years, ABI has been planning a route for the Northeast Trail into southeastern Buckhead, but has run into right of way issues. In a burst of activity coinciding with the SSD proposal, ABI recently made two

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significant Buckhead-area announcements. Preliminary planning for the Northwest Trail corridor through the neighborhood will begin soon. And the nonprofit Partnership late last year bought two properties on Garson Drive as placeholders for possible trail and affordable housing construction.


Community | 5

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City Council approves licensing of short-term rentals; zoning changes may be next BY JOHN RUCH AND COLLIN KELLEY A system to license and register shortterm home rentals passed Atlanta City Council March 15 after a three-hour debate and a slew of amendments that, among other things, reduced the number of properties one person can rent down to City Councilmember two. Matt Westmoreland. Assuming Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms approves the ordinance, a burning question is whether the city will license short-term rentals of properties in areas with single-family residential zoning. In some previous controversies about specific properties, city officials have long interpreted existing zoning as banning purely commercial uses in such zones. The question was unanswered in the debate. City Councilmember Matt Westmoreland said in a text message after the vote that “the short answer is, the paper passed Monday sets the framework for how shortterm rentals are regulated. There will need to be an accompanying zoning paper on locations.” He said he expects legislation about short-term rentals in single-family, commercial and industrial zones to be filed before the licensing system is operational.

How licensing works

The newly approved system would allow an owner or long-term tenant of a home to license short-term rentals to an “agent,” who could be themselves or another person or organization. The owner or long-term tenant could get a license for the property that is their “primary address” and one other property. The license would be renewed annually and would come with a $150 fee. The Atlanta Police Department would record any code violations at short-term rental properties, which could be subject to a $500 fine. If an agent had three violations for any one property, the city would bar short-term licensing for that property for 12 months. The ordinance defines “short-term” as a rental for up to 30 consecutive days. No external signage on the short-term rental is allowed under the ordinance, but information about the license and rules of operation must be posted inside. Operators


would have to pay the hotel/motel tax. Owners of neighboring properties would have to receive notice of a shortterm rental license application. Public complaint lines by email and phone would be established for people to report any issues with a short-term rental property. Licenses would not be transferable, and the agent would have to notify the city within 10 days of any change in the agent on a license. The passage of the ordinance was praised in a written statement from Airbnb, one of the largest short-term rental companies. “By passing clear and equitable shortterm rental rules, the city of Atlanta is allowing responsible hosts to continue earning crucial income,” said Chloe Myshel Burke, Airbnb’s public policy manager, in the statement. “We are committed to being a longterm partner to the city of Atlanta and look forward to working with local leaders as they implement the law and promoting tourism recovery.”

believes it is as good as dead following the and short-term rentals, Matzigkeit and licensing system’s approval. Shook say. Several other amendments Shook proWhile some home-based businesses are posed were declared potentially unconstiallowed in single-family zoning, predomtutional by the city’s Law Department. One inantly commercial uses — including hoof the amendments that failed attempttels — are typically banned without varied to limit the number of visitors guests ances. The city has previously cited the could have on the property and impose a hotel ban in ordering shutdowns of propercurfew that required guests to be inside ties that operated solely as short-term rentthe property after 11:30 p.m. Another of the als, while some operators have complained amendments, which would have enforced that violates their property rights under a 1,000 foot limit between short-term rentthe state constitution. Last year, the City al homes, strayed into zoning territory. Council approved a new “party house” or“I voted against the final piece of legisdinance that tightened that rule to make it lation because it did nothing to limit the clear that “large-scale” commercial events number of people who could be hanging are banned in single-family zoned homes. out outside a short-term Matzigkeit and Shook say it is unclear rental. Now you could have whether, under the new system, the city five or you could have 55,” can or will issue licenses for short-term Shook said. “And more disrentals in single-family areas where the turbingly to me, there’s no property is not the owner or long-term tenlimit on how many of these ant’s primary residence. The ordinance can inundate a given comsays that any licensed short-term rental munity. You could have five must follow zoning requirements, but does in a row on a streetfront. not address the single-family question. You could have an entire “Nobody knows. If I said I knew, I’d be floor of an apartment buildlying,” Shook said of that situation. “… It’s ing. Which, I think, weakgoing to be very, very, very interesting to ens the fabric of a commusee how the Law Department interprets nity.” this. And if I felt confident they would City Councilmember Shook’s zoning-oriented interpret it as they might interpret it, I J.P. Matzigkeit. proposals and similar comwouldn’t have gone through amendment Council debate ments after the vote that hell on Monday.” The ordinance passed short-term rentals are “creMatzigkeit emphasized easily with a 14-1 vote. City Councilmember ating holes in the fabric of that the licensing ordinance J.P. Matzigkeit of Buckhead’s District 8 said our neighborhoods” were does not change any zoning he voted in favor because of the basic benenot well-received by some code, saying, “So what was fits of the licensing system. other councilmembers. illegal yesterday is still ille“We really didn’t have any way to reg“It’s very important to gal today.” His own interulate or tax short-term rentals,” Matzigset up a system of regulapretation is that commerkeit said, noting the ordinance “sets up a tions and bring these shortcial uses are prohibited in framework to have people register to get term rentals into a system residential zones, but he aca license, to follow rules that ensure that of taxation that puts them knowledged there is uncerguests know what the noise ordinance is,” on par with hotels and motainty about what the city and other benefits. But as for how the systels,” said Councilmember will do in practice. “I don’t tem will work in practice, he added, “It reJennifer Ide, whose District know,” he said of whether mains to be seen. We’ll see how it’s imple6 includes parts of souththe city can license shortmented.” City Councilmember eastern Buckhead, dismissterm rentals in single-famiThe council’s approval came after exHoward Shook. ing Shook’s comments as a ly areas. tensive legal surgery, with Matzigkeit and “temper tantrum.” The possibility of followseveral others proposing amendments. Westmoreland defended the legislation, up legislation on zoning was briefly menOne major amendment made quietly over noting that the city’s Neighborhood Plantioned by Ide during the council meeting, the weekend before the meeting reduced ning Units had reviewed the ordinance and but was not a detailed part of the discusthe number of properties one owner or strengthened it with their suggestions. sion. Matzigkeit said he was unaware of long-term tenant can operate from three “I don’t think rentals — shortor longthe forthcoming legislation described by to two. term — create holes in our communities,” Westmoreland. “I don’t know about a zonSeveral other key changes — includWestmoreland said. “Residents are using ing paper,” he said, noting that zoning ing the complaint line, a boost in the fine short-term rentals to make a living and to changes can be controversial. to $500, and a faster notice about change be able to continue to live in the city. I think While any zoning legislation remains of agents — were proposed by North Buckwe heard loud and clear that there wasn’t to be seen, Westmoreland said his personhead Councilmember Howard Shook, who any desire to ban them completely, but to al position on the single-family location isended up as the sole vote against the ordiregulate them instead. That’s what passed.” sue is to match the new licensing system’s nance anyway. allowance of use of the primary residence Shook last year sparked long-stalled plus one additional home. “That’s in line talks of regulating short-term rentals with Zoning and with my personal thinking,” Westmorehis own paper that seeks to completely ban location questions land said. such rentals in areas zoned for single-famiMeanwhile, single-family zoning rely residences. His proposal remains in commains a question for the licensing system mittee, and he said in an interview that he

6 | Community

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At Mountain Way Common, wood-chip dumping is too mulch of a good thing BY JOHN RUCH

where needed. “We make it VERY CLEAR that we only want one load (we learned that Buckhead’s Mountain Way Common lesson the hard way),” Weede said in the has seen an innocent request for some email. wood chips turn into what you might call Apparently, those requests made the too mulch of a good thing, as unknown arpark’s name stick in someone’s head as a borists have overwhelmed the small park spot for uninvited dumping. “Historicalwith at least seven illegally dumped truckly, about once a year, we get an unsolicitloads of the stuff. ed pile of mulch dumped at MWC,” said As of March 22, the 9-acre park at MounWeede. “We don’t like it, but we usually just tain Way and North Ivy Road — located schedule an extra work day and spread it in a dramatic spot beneath a towering Ga. around.” 400 and MARTA Red Line overpass — had “I’m not what sure happened this year, heaps of wood chips dumped along a footbut in the last 30 days, we have had sevpath and on a sidewalk along the street. en or eight illegally dumped truckloads Based on photos provided by the park’s of mulch,” said Weede. “To make matters friends group, more piles had appeared worse, these pirates dumped their loads nosince a Reporter visit on March 9. where near where we would need them.” Dan Weede of Friends of Mountain Way North Buckhead Civic Association presCommon said in an email that his group ident Robert Patterson mentioned the would welcome the public’s help in identimulch-dumping at a March 2 meeting of fying the mulch-dumping culprits, and the Neighborhood Planning Unit B, where a city’s help in either hauling it all away or JOHN RUCH representative of the city’s Department of spreading it around in useful spots. Wood chips dumped on a sidewalk along Mountain Way Public Works said the mounds on the street within Mountain Way Common Park on March 9. “We simply do not have the manpower would be picked up within two weeks. Howto spread this much mulch ourselves, nor ever, the piles remained more than three do we have the funds to hire a Bobcat operator to spread it,” said Weede. weeks later. Weede said he did not know that the city would pick up such debris; in the Weede said that smaller-scale dumping has long been an issue in the roughly depast, he said, the city would provide the park with a dumpster for cleanup days. cade-old park, after it gained a reputation as welcoming wood-chip donations. He said Weede said that residents or visitors who spot a suspicious vehicle in the park can the friends group calls local tree-service companies once a year to seek a donation of a send a photo to the friends group via mountainwaycommon.net or the NBCA at nbca. single load of wood chips, which 15 to 20 volunteers then spend several hours spreading memberclicks.net.

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Arts & Entertainment | 7

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

April Events You Don’t Want to Miss Alan Avery Art Company is hosting an exhibition featuring the work of abstract, minimalist artists Betty Merken and Pascal Pierme, at 356 Miami Circle in Buckhead. The show is titled Fata Morgana after the mirage effect that makes it appear an object is suspended above the horizon. Merken “is a painter and printmaker working with contrasts of color, form, and perception,” while wood sculptor Pierme “incorporates organic material, and geometric forms in a modern aesthetic.” Ends Saturday, April 17. alanaveryartcompany.com The Sandy Springs Recreation and Parks Department is having two events in April, weather permitting, at Morgan Falls Overlook Park at 400 Morgan Falls Road as part of its Wild Explorers program. On Sunday, April 13, at Morgan Falls Dam, “Earth Day Celebration: Renewable Energy” will explore hydroelectric, solar power, and wind energy. On Sunday, April 25, “Heron Rookery Viewing and Bird Craft” will gather at the boat launch at the dam to watch the activities of great blue herons, which nest in groups called rookeries. Loaner binoculars will be available, or you can bring your own. Both events take place from 1 to 3 p.m. and are free with registration through registration. sandyspringsga.gov. ◄ Jerry’s Habima Theatre, a theatrical company featuring actors with special needs, is returning to the stage with a virtual showcase premiering on Thursday, April 29 at 7 p.m. The hour-long event is a combination of musical and dance numbers from some of the group’s most popular shows. All performances will be recorded for availability following the premiere. Jerry’s Habima Theatre is a program of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) in Dunwoody. atlantajcc. org/habima ►The Atlanta History Center’s series of author talks continues in April with virtual appearances by Martha Hall Kelly (April 7), Claire Lombardo (April 13), Jonathan Alter (April 15), Elizabeth Nyamayaro (April 26), and David O. Stewart (April 28). The events are free but registration is required. atlantahistorycenter.com The Sandy Springs Farmers Market will kick off April 17 at City Green at City Springs, 1 Galambos Way. The Saturday market’s hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon through Sept. 25, and from 9 a.m. to noon, Oct. 2 through Nov. 30. citysprings.com/farmersmarket ◄ The City Springs Theatre Company’s live production of the ABBA-laden hit musical “Mamma Mia” (replacing the previously scheduled “Into The Woods”) will have a special outside engagement May 7 through 9 at the Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. The theater group usually performs indoors at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Tickets go on sale April 1. cityspringstheatre.com The 24th Annual Unsung Heroes Gala will be broadcast live on Saturday, April 17 at 6:45 p.m. The evening is produced by the Buckhead-based National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter. It will “honor and celebrate extraordinary women who empower their communities,” and will showcase Atlanta’s best in entertainment with a philanthropic flair, organizers said. A related silent auction to raise funds will begin on Saturday, April 10 and run until Sunday, April 18. ncbwmac.clubexpress.com

For a full calendar of events, please visit reporternewspapers.net

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8 | Food & Drink

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Food for Thought Savi Provisions’ expansion boom brings a third location to Buckhead BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Savi Provisions is in an expansion boom. The gourmet market group was scheduled to open its third Buckhead location -and fifth overall -- at the AMLI Lenox apartment complex at 3478 Lakeside Drive on April 1 as the Reporter went to press. That’s along with other locations planned in Decaof the city. Our chef-driven, fresh-made meals are paired expertly with tur, the Battery complex at a selection of fine wines and beers, served fresh on tap. Our carefully SPECIAL Truist Park in Cobb Councurated wine and beer selection will have something exciting for evAbove, Paul Nair, owner of the Savi’s Provisions chain. ty, and an out-of-state deRight, a drawing of the “self-pour wall” of beers and wines on tap eryone, from the novice to the expert.” that is planned for the new Savi’s Provisions in Buckhead. but in Tennessee. The Reporter asked Nair about Savi’s growing business and the Savi provides “locallybeers on tap. new location. For more information, see saviprovisions.com. sourced organic foods, fine wines and “We are excited to introduce a freshWhat inspired you to get into this business? spirits alongside healthy and tasty fastly imagined location in Lenox for both I noticed a lack of high end affordable gourmet markets in the South. When we casual meals,” according to owner Paul the immediate community and funcopened our first Savi Provisions, it was intentionally in Inman Park, a wonderful Nair, who named the chain after his tion as an amenity for AMLI residents,” community that embraced us and our vision. wife Savita. The AMLI location, operatsays Patel. “Our space boasts a beautied by franchisee Vivek Patel, will have a What makes Savi different from other similar places? ful interior designed for ease and acpatio with a “self-pour wall” where cusPeople want convenience, but they still respond to interaction and a sense of cessibility in shopping, giving way to a tomers can choose their own wines and community. I wanted to connect convenience with community, one of the reasons I lovely patio space with fantastic views

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Food & Drink | 9

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net crafted the Savi brand after New York’s neighborhood delis. I wanted to offer more than just a place to shop and dine, but a neighborhood destination where customers have the chance to connect. Savi at AMLI will feature a self-pour tap wall with 14 beers, 16 wine options and a variety of spirits. The bar is going to be 100% cardbased so that customers have a lowtouch experience. It will dispense the beer, spirit and wine options via stateof-the-art equipment called Enomatic and provide an extremely convenient option for dine-in, grab-and-go and passersby. You offer franchises. Please explain the concept and what you’re looking for in a franchisee. Apart from its proven success record, Savi also offers high earnings potential with strong potential ROI [return on investment]. You are able to have two businesses with a single investment due to the retail and casual food service component. Since Savi also sells a wide selection of fine wines and spirits, you can also build a loyal following among wine enthusiasts. The Savi franchise system was developed to be incredibly profitable and loaded with goodwill for the community and customer. Attractive franchisees are those that are not only business-minded but value community, as it is imperative that you become an important part of the neighborhood. While there are many types of franchise opportunities available, very few give the owner the chance to make a difference while earning a considerable profit like a Savi Provisions franchise [does]. Why open a second Buckhead location, not far from the first? We saw the demand. Our Buckhead clientele really responds to our concept, and this newest Savi will be a freshly imagined location in Lenox for both the immediate community and function as an amenity for AMLI residents. Vivek comes from an interesting background of healthcare, which is how he became interested in wellness. He decided to dive into the food and nutrition space and a franchise opportunity with Savi provided him the perfect opportunity to combine the two. What are your plans for the future? We are always expanding. We just announced our first market outside of Atlanta — a franchisee location in downtown Nashville. We are excited to bring this Atlanta brand to more of the Southeast in the next year.

Quick Bites |

Restaurant openings and news


►Tabla Indian Restaurant debuted its

second Atlanta location on March 16 at 3005 Peachtree Road inside the Modera building in Buckhead. Owner Sandeep Kothary said in a statement, “I want guests to have the experience of Indian food—the design, service and cocktails. It’s going to be a completely different style of dining from anything people have experienced in the Atlanta area.” Tabla will introduce a series of cocktails unique to the Buckhead location, but until its liquor license is issued, customers can bring their own alcohol.tablaatlanta.com BurgerFi, Chopt Creative Salad Company, Panda Express, and breakfast joint First Watch will all be part of the new Perimeter Marketplace shopping center in Dunwoody, scheduled to open in October 2021 at the corner of Meadow Lane and Ashford-Dunwoody Road. Other announced tenants include Publix, Aspen Dental, One Medical and QuikTrip. “The Dunwoody/Perimeter market has proven to be one of the strongest areas for economic growth in metro Atlanta, even through the ongoing pandemic,” Branch Properties Head of Asset Management Brett Horowitz said in a written statement. BurgerFi is also planning to open a spot at The Prado in Sandy Springs later this year. Burgerfi.com; choptsalad.com; pandaexpress.com; firstwatch.co

will love it as much as I do.” The menu boasts more than 80 teas, frappes, smoothies and sodas. nobichausa.com

Fitlife Foods is getting ready for a July opening in the Tuxedo Festival shopping center at 3655 Roswell Road in Buckhead, featuring “fresh, made-fromscratch, prepared meals” for pick-up or delivery, according to spokesperson Krystin Olinski. Popular dishes include barbecue beef with mac and cheese, chicken enchiladas, pork bulgogi and miso salmon, in addition to crème brulee French toast. Tampa-based Fitlife founder David Osterwell said in a written statement, “The demand for a store in the Atlanta area was overwhelming and we wanted to find a way to make it happen for our incredible Atlanta customers.” eatfitlifefoods.com Nobi Cha Bubble Tea will soon debut its first spot in the United States at 4279 Roswell Road in Buckhead’s Chastain Square shopping center. Owner Lida Turner said in a phone call that the plan is to open 10 to 20 more in the next five years. Turner bought the franchise from a company in Thailand last year. “I’m very confident in our product and our flavor and once people try it they

Willow Bar and St. Julep are two watering holes that have joined “mid-century glam” restaurant The Betty at Buckhead’s Kimpton Sylvan Hotel, located at 374 East Paces Ferry Road. Willow Bar is a garden retreat described as “hip” and “esoteric” while St. Julep features “fresh and easy cocktails, local craft brews, low-octane aperitifs and a selection of funky craveable snacks” plus a weekend DJ spinning records. thesylvanhotel.com The Hungry Peach reopened on March 8 after closing due to the pandemic. There is a new menu with “simple and fresh gourmet brunch and lunch items” as well as a “homey and comfortable” remodel of the cafe located in the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC) at 351 Peachtree Hills Ave. in Buckhead. A liquor license is in the works. thehungrypeach.com

▲Banana Leaf Thai + Bar is now open

for business at 227 Sandy Springs Place. “A perfect place where friends and family can enjoy mouth-watering authentic Thai food in a lovely atmosphere,” the website says. “We also feature a full liquor bar, lots of delicious mixed drinks as well as a great wine selection.” bananaleafatl.com

Le Bon Nosh, “an all-day cafe and market celebrating the beauty of simple, seasonal food,” is set to open shortly inside The Irby building at 65 Irby Avenue in Buckhead. An application to serve alcohol was filed by owners with the City of Atlanta in early March. Executive Chef Forough Vakili formerly worked at the twoMichelin-starred restaurant L’Auberge de Glazicks in Brittany. lebonnosh.com

10 | Arts & Entertainment

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Q&A: Oakland Cemetery expert discusses famous Buckhead figures buried there BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery is the final resting place of many famous figures of Buckhead’s history. David Moore, director emeritus of the Historic Oakland Cemetery Foundation, will talk about some of them in a free, live-streamed presentation to the Buckhead Heritage Society on April 8 at 7 p.m. For registration and details, see buckheadheritage.com. You’re going to be talking about famous people from Buckhead, some of whom were also notorious. I’m going to do a presentation on Oakland Cemetery that includes a little bit of everything. I’m still doing research on people that have a Buckhead connection and the obvious ones are of course people like [bank and railroad founder] Alfred Austell and [golfer and Masters Tournament co-founder] Bobby Jones, but there are a fair amount of folks whom we could make a stretch and say are infamous. There is some murder and mayhem associated with some of our residents, and everybody loves a good mystery, murder and mayhem story, so I will try to sprinkle those in without necessarily divulging who they are.


David Moore, director emeritus of the Historic Oakland Cemetery Foundation.

Your own family has connections to Buckhead going back a long time. Didn’t a grandfather of yours have a mill on Peachtree Creek? Thomas Moore was my great-great-grandfather, and he came here from Abbeville, South Carolina. He did run a grist and produced lumber, and corn and meal grinded by a millstone. It was there on Peachtree Creek where Moores Mill Road and West Wesley Road exist today. He married a woman named Elizabeth DeFoor. She was the daughter of Martin and Martha DeFoor, who were the recipients of a terrible and brutal murder

in the late 1800s. They had their heads almost chopped off by an assailant while they slept. It’s a Buckhead murder that’s never been solved. Can you give us the gist of the importance of Oakland Cemetery to the history of Buckhead? Oakland pretty much holds the history of our city. Many of the folks who are buried there are pioneers that paved the paths on which we walk today, and even though Atlanta was a very small community when Oakland was founded in 1850 -- there were probably only 2,600 people living in Atlanta at the time -- many of the folks buried there do have connections to the Buckhead community. Some of the more prominent folks had lovely homes along Peachtree Road. They had deep roots in Buckhead, and of course so did [“Gone with the Wind” author] Margaret Mitchell, and there will be others as well. I do want to try and make that Buckhead connection, but as I said, Oakland was the burial ground for everyone. It didn’t matter if you owned the railroad or rode the railroad or slept under the railroad. They even had a section -- the old Slave Square -- that later became a paupers’ ground, so we do have an African American section that was segregated, yet it’s still part of the cemetery as a whole. And there are some people buried in that section that I’m sure have some connection to what we know as Buckhead today. There is a photo of you online sitting in some sort of cart at the cemetery. Can you explain that? The reason I’m sitting in the cart is that I’m an actor -- well, more of a big ham than an actor -- and I’m capturing the spirit of Oakland on our Halloween tours that are designed to enlighten. We have characters we’ve researched that come back to life, and we tell our visitors of their place in Atlanta history, and we have these characters standing, or my case sitting, at or about the gravesite. This particular person was known as the Goat Man; his name was William Jasper Franklin. He was one of those characters just hanging around downtown Atlanta who was often found at the courthouse steps selling pencils. He had meningitis as a kid which is why he couldn’t walk, so he used a cart that was hauled around by a goat named Pete. He became somewhat annoying to some of the politicians because they said his goat smelled bad and he was bothering folks, so they banned him from being on the street. He had quite a following.

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS INSECURITY ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY? “INSECURITY” -- MEANING FEAR THAT THE MONEY WON’T BE THERE? No. In 50 years of advising clients, we find people fear making a mistake when starting their Social Security. Benefits can start at age 62 on a discounted basis. One must be 66 years old to get a full benefit; however, waiting longer to start – as late as age 70 – means increased monthly income. Add to that, a husband or wife can claim benefits independent of their spouse’s decision, and the number of outcomes is almost unlimited. With all those possibilities, small wonder people worry about mistakes. A LOT OF INTERNET ADVICE IS TO START SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS EARLY… That is a dangerous over-simplification. Our Wealth Planning Committee is a group of experienced, multi-credentialled professionals, including attorneys, CPAs, and MBAs who regularly model these numbers. Committee Chairman Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®, says, “There’s no substitute for running the numbers. Every family’s situation is different and the difference between an optimum Social Security decision and a poor decision can amount to tens of thousands of dollars.” IS MODELING THE NUMBERS A “NET PRESENT VALUE” ANALYSIS? The modeling includes that kind of discounting analysis, yes. Most importantly, good modeling should put the Social Security decision in a framework with the other elements of a family’s financial life. Is one spouse continuing to work? Are there other sources of cash flow or financial assets available that would permit delaying the start of benefits? Are there big differences in life expectancy between spouses? The key is solid modeling that considers a variety of “what if” scenarios.

Bill Kring, CFP®, and MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®, discuss Social Security benefits and the importance of having a trusted team of professionals to find the best decision for each family’s situation with Sam Tortorici, CEO & Director, Cadence Bank, N.A., and President, Cadence Bancorporation.

WHAT IF I NEED HELP WITH THAT KIND OF MODELING? Be careful of “advisors” who are in reality product salespersons with an agenda to present financial projections supporting the sale of annuities and similar financial products. Seek instead unbiased advice from a financial advisor who commits to offer 100% of their advice subject to the fiduciary standard -- always acting in the client’s best interest -- with no products to sell. That is our approach at Linscomb & Williams. We have the team ready to sit down for a no-cost, no-obligation exploratory conversation to see if we are a good fit to help you explore your options.

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Public Safety | 11

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Fulton sheriff plans ‘Scorpion Team’ unit to work alongside city police departments BY JOHN RUCH Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat is forming a “crime-suppression” unit of deputies he has dubbed the “Scorpion Team” with the intent of working alongside police patrols in Atlanta, Sandy Springs and all other cities in the county. Named for the stinger-tailed, venomous predator, the Scorpion Team appears to be the latest version of Labat’s campaign promise -- especially popular in Buckhead -- to use deputies to bolster Atlanta Police Department patrols amid a surge in violent crime. The notion of deputies patrolling city streets has gotten a mixed response among Fulton County Board of Commission members, and the details remain scarce. APD would not answer questions about its involvement in the Scorpion Team, while the Sandy Springs Police Department (SSPD) said it is awaiting more information before deciding to participate. “That crime suppression team, which will be tagged or named the Scorpion Team, will go out on a daily basis and search for those who mean us no good,” Labat said in a brief mention of the idea at a March 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting. “... The best way for me to put it is, we’re going to stalk the stalkers.” Jamille Bradfield, a Fulton County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, later gave some more details of the Scorpion Team, though not which agencies are involved and what the timeline might be. “The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office has

established a Crime Suppression Team, known as the Scorpion Team, to work the streets throughout the 15 cities within Fulton County,” Bradfield said in an email. “The Scorpion Team is part of the new, specialized Violent Crime/Gang Task Force we are in the process of building to address violence.” As for the name, FCSO focused on the scorpion’s defensive use of its stinger rather than its prey-poisoning utility. “We call it the Scorpion Team because, similar to the scorpion in the arthropod species that stings its predators when it is threatened, our crime suppression team is defending those who live, work and play in Fulton County against violent criminals who threaten public safety,” said Bradfield. In response to a comment request from APD, spokesperson Sgt. John Chaffee said only, “The FCSO would be the best resource for information on this. Please check with them for additional details regarding the Scorpion Team.” He did not respond to further questions about APD involvement. The city’s press office did not respond to questions. The police department in Sandy Springs is aware of the proposal, but hasn’t signed on, according to SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Salvador Ortega. “Yes, the task force has been a topic during meetings at the Sheriff’s Office with Fulton County chiefs; however, details are not finalized,” said Ortega in an email. SSPD is already involved in some federal task forces focused on gangs and violent crime, Ortega said. “At this time, I


don’t have specific information about the FCSO’s task force,” he said. “It is the mission of the Sandy Springs Police Department to enforce the law and prevent crime through problem-solving partnerships. If the mission and partnership of this task force aligns with our mission and doesn’t compromise manpower, I’m sure it is something we will be happy to participate in.” Labat’s main focus at the BCN meeting was on his version of a longstanding proposal for Fulton County to acquire the Atlanta City Detention Center, which Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is in the midst of converting into a mixed-use social services facility. That’s because staffing and operating the county jail is FCSO’s main job, along with providing security at courts and serving warrants. Deputies sometimes provide help for other agencies in emergencies and large events, but they don’t patrol city streets. The idea of FCSO patrols came amid talk of dwindling APD forces after last year’s crime increase, racial justice protests and controversy over the police killing of Rayshard Brooks. Labat won election last year with the patrols as part of a tough-on-crime platform, but quickly complained of pushback from commissioners and county staff. Part of that reaction was based on the idea of serving Atlanta versus the rest of the county. “It’s news to me that anybody doesn’t want these patrols,” said Commissioner Lee Morris, who represents much of Buckhead, in January in response to Labat’s

complaints. “Most everybody’s who’s contacted me wants more sworn officers of any kind.” But that same month, Commission Chairman Robb Pitts, a Buckhead resident, questioned the focus of the patrol idea. “I have heard that he made some campaign promises about putting more sheriff’s deputies on the street,” he said. “In theory, that sounds good. But his primary responsibility is the jail and we have issues at the jail.” Commissioner Bob Ellis, whose North Fulton district includes part of Sandy Springs, said this month that the Scorpion Team idea is “news to me” and raises similar concerns. “I have not had a single resident in a North Fulton city suggest to me it would be a great idea to have the Fulton sheriff supplement our local patrols,” said Ellis, adding it likely would be viewed as duplicating services and raises issues of funding and intergovernmental legal agreements. “I’m fully aware of all the crime issues and concerns going on in the city of Atlanta… I think long-term, the solution to that needs to come from the city of Atlanta for that, and the Atlanta Police Department,” said Ellis. Law enforcement agencies assisting each other short-term is good, he said. “But this notion of the Fulton County sheriff’s department becoming an additional police department within each particular city doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of long-term sense to me. It may actually sort of deviate from what our actual delivery strategy is.”


Hiring the right agent in this market can mean the difference in selling and selling for a price you can be proud of.

IF YOU ARE BUYING A HOUSE: Hiring an agent who knows the shadow inventory can mean the difference in buying a house in the area you want to be in.

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12 | Public Safety

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Missing Buckhead man found dead in Alabama BY JOHN RUCH

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A Buckhead man who went missing in January has been found dead in Alabama, according to the Atlanta Police Department, which continues to seek public tips about the case. Marc Scot Van Rysselberge (spelled as “VanRysselberg” by APD investigators) was reported as missing from his home on Plantation Drive in Pine Hills since Jan. 19. In a March 17 email, APD said Van Rysselberge had been “located deceased” in Alabama in the city of “Huflin,” apparently a typo for the city of Heflin, which is along I-20 about 10 miles west of the Georgia border. APD would not specify a cause of death or other details. “There is SPECIAL no new information to release at Marc Scot Van Rysselberge in a photo this time as investigators are now released by the Atlanta Police Department. working to determine the newly discovered circumstances surrounding this incident,” said Officer Anthony Grant, an APD spokesperson. The Heflin Police Department said it did not have information and referred questions to the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office, where an investigator was not immediately available for comment. Social media show that the man and his friends frequently spelled his last name as two words, “Van Rysselberge.” APD said his name is one word, “VanRysselberge,” in driver’s license records and that it is using that spelling in its investigation. APD spokesperson Officer Steve Avery said the difference in spelling would not make a difference in searching records while attempting to local the man while he was missing. Grant said that APD continues to seek information from the public about the case. Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta at 404-5778477 or through atlantapolicefoundation.org.

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Community | 13

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

NYO’s Opening Day means it’s time to play ball


Northside Youth Organization held its Opening Day March 13. The baseball festivities were marked with balloons and other decorations, but no parade or celebration of teams in another pandemic season.






Above, clockwise, Wilson Clayton forces an out on third base to end the first inning. From left, Orioles teammates Anna Kate, Tripp Hass, Ellison Elrod and Malcolm Klein tip their hats to congratulate the Dodgers on their victory. On the bench waiting to bat in the first inning are, from left, Tripp Hass, Jack Elrod, Ellison Elrod and Quinn Entrekin.




Ashley Reinhardt decorates the fields with balloons. Reinhardt’s twin boys Henry and Jackson play for the Orioles. ALL PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER

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14 | Community

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Garden Hills townhomes project moves ahead after school buys part of site Continued from page 1

did not respond to questions. The brick-faced Delmont Townhomes are arranged in a U shape with a central yard. The complex was built around 1940

Yet Van Os now plans to move anyway after selling to AIS, who is now her landlord. Van Os said she agreed to sell to the school because it has a plan for the property that she likes. She said AIS asked her not to talk about the plan, but that it “would retain some of the dwellings as well as not destroy the neighborhood… It’s a longterm plan. Their plan is healthier for this community.” AIS did not respond to questions about the sale and the property. Hedgewood Homes PHOTO BY JOHN RUCH co-owner Don DonnelDelmont townhomes.jpg ly and Laurel David, an Part of the Delmont Townhomes complex on attorney representing Delmont Drive, with Nellyn Van Os’s garden in the foreground and large trees in the rear. Hedgewood and Silver Creek, declined to comas the Delmont Sheridan Apartments, acment while a rezoning application for the cording to John Beach of the Buckhead Herproperty is pending. The request for a highitage Society, and sometime later converter-density zoning designation reportedly ed to condos. The complex’s architect was was discussed at a late March meeting of Burge and Stevens, a firm that designed the Garden Hills Civic Association, which some prominent Buckhead buildings. But,

Beach said, “this doesn’t appear to be a significant work by them” and it is not listed as contributing to the Garden Hills Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. A recent tour of the complex with Van Os showed that the interiors retain many of the original, Colonial-style fittings. The central yard and other common areas are studded with many large trees, a few of them appearing to be well over a century old. The units have front yards and rear patios, and most have rear additions that were customized to suit the owners; Van Os’s includes a fireplace. She is also unique in having turned her front yard into a fenced garden. The developer’s plan would demolish the complex and replace it with townhomes in the style of Hedgewood, whose website calls it a “boutique homebuilder” that also offers “bespoke fittings” and short-term monthly rentals of high-end homes. The plan calls for 37 units on the 2.5-acre site, most with two- to four-car garages. The new complex would have a central pool and a bathhouse with a rooftop terrace. “With a coveted location in the heart of Buckhead, Delmont homeowners will live within walking distance to Atlanta’s renowned shopping district and restaurants as well as offices, parks, schools and historic churches,” says the website.

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Around 2016, Silver Creek began buying out individual townhome owners and now owns 21 of the 22 units. But Van Os said no. In July 2018, Silver Creek took her to Fulton County Superior Court, seeking an order forcing her to sell or for a court-order partition of the property. The complaint said the facts of the case “are definitely peculiar in nature” and created “the need for flexibility and creativity” to address the ownership interests. According to court records, Silver Creek says it made several offers to Van Os, all of which she refused: a $650,000 purchase of her unit; a free new townhome in the new development; a purchase of a new home for up to $650,000 plus $144,000 to offset any increase in property taxes; or to physically separate her townhome from the others and provide her with a garden area. AIS appeared on the scene around June 2018, Silver Creek said in court filings, and offered to buy the entire townhome complex. The negotiations “ultimately broke down,” the company said in the filings. The case was headed to a bench trial scheduled for Sept. 28, 2020. Ten days before the trial, the court records say, Van Os announced that AIS had bought her townhome and her 1/22 interest in the complex’s common property. Silver Creek said in the documents that the sale terms were unknown to it, but believed to include “AIS’ promise to employ Van Os and provide Van Os amenities and benefits at the school, including a gym membership.” The legal complaint was changed to replace Van Os with AIS as defendant. The matter was closed about two months later with a deal to partition the property and save Van Os’s unit. The final court order issued in December 2020 granted the partition of the property to separate Van Os’s unit at 67 Delmont. But to preserve that building, Silver Creek also is required to preserve the unit it owns at 69 Delmont because they are in the same building. That townhome “shall remain fully intact,” the order says. Silver Creek also agreed to pay for a wide variety of improvements to 67 Delmont that all appear related to Van Os’s continued tenancy and give no hint of AIS’s plans. The requirements include major structural improvements, such as reinforcing the walls, replacing the roof and building an internal firewall; shifting a driveway and removing a 40-foot-tall pine tree; designating two parking spaces; planting evergreens as screeners; building a new garden shed; and rerouting utility lines so they remain accessible to the property. Silver Creek also agreed to pay for Van Os to move temporarily during repairs, demolition and construction. The order also grants AIS the right to join the new development’s property owners association if it chooses. With that order in place, the developer filed a rezoning application on Jan. 7.


Community | 15

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

‘State of Buckhead’ survey says locals fear crime, love dogs Continued from page 1 the closely aligned groups the Buckhead Business Association, the Buckhead Coalition and the Buckhead Community Improvement District. “There aren’t a lot of huge surprises from this survey,” said Denise Starling, Livable Buckhead’s executive director, while discussing the findings at a March 25 BBA meeting. But, she said, it has a lot of useful “data nuggets” on areas to improve, such as raising the profile of public transit and expanding sustainability efforts beyond recycling. The survey also informs “Buckhead ATL,” a business-style neighborhood branding campaign in the works from the four organizations. Who that branding is aimed at remains fuzzy -- “I don’t even know how to answer that,” Starling said in a later interview -- but one purpose of the exercise is developing a common theme and talking point for the four organizations, which have very different purposes and constituencies. “That’s one of the challenges of creating the brand, because different people want to use it in different ways,” from arts programs to business attraction, said Starling. “So we’re trying to figure out sort of where the common ground is between all those ways you would need to brand the community” and make sure all four organizations have similar “core elements” in mind. One likely outcome of the branding, said Starling and Tracy Paden of Cookerly, a public relations firm for the four groups, are “placemaking” art projects. Those might be similar to the wall painted with the word “Buckhead” on PATH400 along Lenox Road, or Midtown’s rainbow-painted crosswalks that celebrate the LGBTQ community.


Conducted by the firm Alexander Babbage, the survey drew 2,362 completed responses. A focus of the survey was getting responses from the differing but overlapping constituencies of those who live in Buckhead and those who work there. The firm said that of those who responded, 79% were local residents and 47% were local workers. Starling told the BBA that the large number of responses gives the survey “statistical validity” better than many political polls. But there are several qualifications to that and some bias in the demographics. The survey was not random, largely circulating to Livable Buckhead contacts and select businesses, along with some apartment complexes. And the results were not weighted to balance out over- or under-represented groups, said Stephen Collins of Alexander Babbage. “It skews toward rich, White Buckhead a little bit more” compared to the neighborhood’s demographics, said Collins of the


survey responses, and women were overrepresented as well. Around 90% of respondents were White, while U.S. Census estimates for Buckhead are around 72% White. Collins said a significant difference was in average household income, which he says is estimated at $164,000 for the neighborhood but was around $250,000 for survey respondents. Crime fears are one area where such bias could show up in the survey results. Speaking earlier this year about Buckhead crime, Georgia State University criminologist Joshua Hinkle said that middle-class suburbanites and older women are the demographics most fearful of crime, even though young men in urban areas are the demographic most likely to be victims of violent crime. Crime as “both a real and perceived threat” was the top issue for survey respondents, chosen by 66%, with traffic a distant second at 12%. By far the most popular crime solution was more police officers, at 53%; the heavily touted idea of increasing the Atlanta Police Department’s surveillance camera system came in at 9%. Maintaining roads and improving sidewalks are other big issues. On the positive side, Starling said, the “Buckhead brand” is viewed positively with such terms as “upscale” and “dynamic.” The neighborhood is seen as having great stores and restaurants and good access to employment by roads. The survey found that many workers want to continue teleworking at least part of the week after the pandemic. And 56% of households have dogs, which the survey estimates means a population of around 82,000 canines. That’s a big deal for planning fixtures like dog parks. The survey did not directly ask about a current proposal for Buckhead to become its own city, but the results touched on the theme. Starling mistakenly told the BBA that Livable Buckhead is not taking a position on the issue -- all four of the organizations formally oppose it -- but that the results “show where a lot of that sentiment is coming from” with concerns about crime, street maintenance and “not getting as much support from our elected officials.” One place cityhood, along with “better leadership,” came up in the survey was as a solution to crime, where 14% of respondents selected it. In information about the respondents not included in the public presentation but provided to the Reporter later, 4% of the households included people with disabilities. In a question about sexual orientation, 90% identified as straight and 4% as gay, with asexual and bisexual at 2% each and lesbian at 1%. Selected results from the survey can be seen in a report at liveablebuckhead.com.

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Commentary / Acts of violence reveal need for equity in education The recent acts of violence against Asian and African Ameri- dermined with the 1896 Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Fergucans have made it clear that -- as parents and educators -- it’s time son and the passage of Georgia’s first Jim Crow law in 1890. For the for a genuine conversation about racial and educational inequi- next 60 years, Jim Crow laws legally defined all matters of public ty. Often amid tragic circumstances, we miss opportunities to ex- life in the South, including schools. Even after the Brown v. Board plore root causes. Despite the horrible situations, perhaps these of Education decision, school segregation continued in Atlanta unrecent events can spark real action in our community. Working til 1972. together toward racial and educational equity, we can hope to creLegally sanctioned redlining in the 1930s via President Roosate a better and just Atlanta for all. evelt’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation created Atlanta’s residenIn my role as Chief Equity and Social Justice Officer of Atlan- tial demographic patterns, with more affluent white communities ta Public Schools, I collaborate with stakeholders to ensure equi- living in the north above Interstate 20 and poorer African Amerity among all students. I hear and understand parents’ beliefs and can communities living in the south and west of I-20. concerns. Some are concerned that equity could mean their chilAnti-literacy laws, legal segregation and racial violence have dren will have opportunities taken away as we provide greater ac- had profound impacts on the economic mobility and educational cess for all children. Others are concerned about a lessening of ed- options available to people of color, particularly to African Amerucational quality. I understand how difficult it icans within our city. Since slavery, African may be to share these concerns, especially in Americans have been playing catch-up with the thick of race-based, hate-filled violence. their white counterparts in all areas, especialIt is important to me for concerned parents ly education. to know that I don’t take their concerns as racConsider today when Atlanta stands as the ist statements. I, too, am a parent and undermost income-disparate city in the nation: stand that all parents only want what’s best for our children. Equally as important is that ■ Current census data shows that the we all push beyond the barriers built through median household income within Atlanta Pubgenerations of misinformation. lic Schools is $167,087 for white students and As an educator, I recognize that the great$23,803 for Black students est remedy against fear is knowledge. To elim■ Roughly 75% of APS students live in inate fears that surround equity, it’s vital that low-income situations and research shows we have a clear understanding of what it is that a child born into poverty in Atlanta has a and how it differs from equality. 95.5% chance of remaining in poverty. Equity is when each student gets what they uniquely need to succeed. It’s different from This context and data are not to suggest equality, which treats everyone the same withthat APS can fix all of our societal problems, out addressing the root causes of disparity and or that APS owns all of the work to be done. SPECIAL ignores the reality that each child is different. However, we are going to do our best to own Tauheedah Baker-Jones is the Equity differs in that it ensures all children what is ours. Chief Equity and Social Justice get what they need. It should also be stated that achieving eqOfficer of Atlanta Public Schools. As we begin to understand the true meanuity does not mean taking anything from anying of equity, we also must accept that racial one nor does it mean lowering the quality of and educational inequities exist and understand that they are the education. It means giving ALL students what they need. result of historic policies and practices that have disenfranchised Ultimately, equity is not a zero-sum game. At its core, our eqlarge sections of our community for generations. uity work is about recognizing that in Atlanta there are real ceilFor example, the 1854 California Supreme Court ruling in Peo- ings hindering children from receiving the promise education is ple v. Hall stated that people of Asian descent could not testify supposed to provide. Some may not believe in what we say, but we against a white person in court, thereby establishing a legal man- need everyone to believe that when we say all children, “All means date protecting perpetrators of violence against Asian Americans ALL.” and substantiating anti-Asian sentiments to this day. While we all play a role in fixing inequities, there is no simple During slavery, laws were passed forbidding African Ameri- “to-do” list that will make it all better. We must do the work. Equity cans from learning to read, write and educate themselves. In Geor- for all requires participation by all. The effort is by you, the effort gia, these anti-literacy laws were so strict that failure to comply is for you, the effort is with you. When ALL of our students are valwas punishable by death. At the end of slavery, African Americans ued, affirmed and supported, our entire city will succeed. across the South enrolled in schools, only to have these efforts un-

Publisher’s Note: Introducing the Rough Draft newsletter

In early March, Springs Publishing, the parent company of the Reporter Newspapers, Atlanta Intown and Atlanta Senior Life, launched a new email newsletter called Rough Draft. Published at 7 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Rough Draft is intended to be a clever, concise and curated look at the news, information and events across the metro area. Each issue of Rough Draft includes five to seven stories and is intended to be read in less than 5 minutes with your morning coffee. Designed to be an easily digestible tip sheet that will help you stay conversant with the information that’s driving conversations that day, Rough Draft will have a bias towards our own content, but it’s not tied to specific geographies and most days will

feature sources from beyond Springs’ properties. This newspaper will continue our commitment to unrivaled hyperlocal news in the communities we cover and we see Rough Draft as an extension of our brands. As the world comes out of the pandemic and events begin to ramp-up, we have also launched a new calendar platform under the Rough Draft brand. Visit calendar.roughdraftatlanta.com and you’ll see the region’s most thorough event calendar. We hope you’ll visit roughdraftatlanta.com and subscribe to our email. — Keith Pepper, Publisher

represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing.


Commentary | 17

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Around Town

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

A Dunwoody mural artist finds joy in American ‘Daydreaming’ Diana Toma jokes that her first words were, “Can I have a pet to draw?” “I think I got the pet,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t know.” She no longer even remembers what kind of pet it was. But the drawing part of her story rings true. Toma says that when she was a little girl, she sketched all the time. Everything around her seemed interesting and something she needed to capture in the pages of her notebook. “I was never bored because I had paper and pencil,” she said. Constant practice pays off. Toma says that by the time she had finished kindergarten – yes, kindergarten -- her teacher suggested she pursue a career as an artist. But all that was a long time ago and far away. Toma’s 46 now. She’s living in a different country from the one she grew up sketching, is a single mom of two children, and – after unfulfilling side trips into other careers -- makes her living selling paintings and teaching others to paint, including through classes at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody. One of her works soon could become one of the most visible public paintings in Dunwoody. The Dunwoody Arts Commission recently chose her painting “Daydreaming” as the design for a 9-by-24-foot mural to be painted on an outside wall at the entrance to the center at 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. The brightly colored design shows a child surrounded by, and presumably daydreaming about, things from nature. Toma says those kinds of images weren’t always things that populated her art. She was born in Romania and was a teenager during Romania’s 1989 revolution, when that country joined the wave SPECIAL of eastern European naDiana Toma. tions shaking off Communist control – or, as she describes it now, “when the Soviet bloc broke into pieces.” The revolution made a huge difference in Toma’s life. She remembers, for instance, that her parents, both engineers, were trapped at work during the uprising. “It was really scary for someone my age,” she said, “but it also was very exciting – the overall energy.” One big change following the revolution, she said, was that the college of art in her hometown reopened after being closed for years. She signed up. During her student years, Toma thought of herself as a conceptual artist whose work tackled serious subjects. “That was the thing, the cool thing,” she said. “It was a little bit … on the sinister side.” But once she graduated, she found conceptual art didn’t pay the bills. She tried her hand at graphic design. At the time, eastern European artists were drawing commissions from companies in western Europe and the U.S,, in part because the easterners worked cheaply. Toma started working for Americans, ended up marrying one, and about 15 years ago, she moved to the U.S. She started out in New York, living and working in trendy Brooklyn. “New York was exciting, but was too expensive,” she said. About 10 years ago, she saw an article promoting Atlanta as a good, cheap place for artists, so she and her then husband moved south. The marriage lasted only a few more years. Toma suddenly found herself divorced, unhappy, a long way from home and doing work she didn’t like to make money. “I thought to myself, ‘If I had to be in another country and be a single mom with kids, I just have to do something I love.’ [At] rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.” She started using her watercolors and oils to paint brighter things: flowers, animals, portraits of people. She found a job teaching at the Spruill Center and found the classroom a natural fit. “I love to teach. I love so much to teach,” she said. “I became a better artist. Because I was doing research for my classes. I was doing demonstrations. … You think you have to know it to teach it, but it’s the other way around. By doing, you’re learning.” She learned to focus on the joy in what she was doing. Now, “it feels like I’m giving back to this country that sort of changed who I am.” One particular piece that’s giving back, the Spruill mural, “is close to my heart [because] the Spruill is where it started.” “I can’t believe I’ve been doing all these things,” she said. “I didn’t even know this world existed. … I never thought this was going to be my life. I thought I would have a typical Romanian life. Now I have two ex-husbands and a career in art. I’m here and it’s fine.”

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

Hospitalization can be frightening, especially for children. So, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta employs a special team whose job is to make the experience less so. The most popular members of the team do their job without saying a word. That’s because they’re the fourlegged members of Canines for Kids at Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the DunwoodyChildren’s. Sandy Founded in 2009, Canines forSprings Kids line at and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at worthknowingnow@gmail.com. Children’s is composed of 14 dogs and their primary handlers, backed by five secondary handlers. The handlers are all medical professionals whose work is enhanced by the presence of their dog. Everybody, including the dogs, is a hospital employee. Most of the dogs are golden retrievers, Labs and Labradoodles -- all known for their intelligence and friendly, gentle dispositions. As hospital staff, the dogs are not “therapy dogs,” but rather specially trained “facility dogs.” Therapy dogs are volunteer visiting dogs, certified by a variety of organizations based on their temperament and behavior, who along with their unpaid volunteer owners, make brief non-clinical visits to patients and staff. Facility dogs, in contrast, work alongside professional healthcare providers, who in Canines for Kids at Children’s are mostly child life specialists. Their specialized training enables them to visit patients in almost all areas of the hospital, SPECIAL including those not eligible for therapy Bella and her primary handler dog visits. and partner, Canines for Kids Program Coordinator Kara Klein. The Canines for Kids program coordinator is Kara Klein, previously a full-time


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Canines comfort kids at Children’s Healthcare philosophy. According to Canine Assistants Founder Jennifer Arnold, instead of traditional behavioral dog training that relies on commands and rewards, Canine Assistants dogs are taught through “bondbased learning/exercises … how to manage their own behavior and not rely on directives from a human handler.” Essentially, the dogs bond so closely with their human they model human behavior, such as how to climb on a patient’s bed without disturbing the maze of tubes and wires. But how specifically do the dogs make a difference? Klein recalls one case of an 8-year-old girl who refused to leave her room because of the way she looked after facial surgery. “When I said let’s take Bella outside to go potty,” said Klein, “she left her room for the first time in two days.”

Patients’ parents tell similar stories.

child life specialist. In 2010, she and her facility dog Bella, a golden retriever, became the second dog-handler pair to join the program. Klein says facility dogs are an especially good fit for child life specialists, whose job is to help patients cope, heal and achieve treatment goals while at the hospital. “The dogs help with reducing anxiety, providing distraction, modeling what a patient might see or experience and medical play like listening to the dog’s heart or putting on a bandage,” she said. Now age 12, Bella has lived with Klein since she joined the program. She still goes “to work” every day but is reducing her workload as she ages. Even though Klein considers Bella “her” dog, she is technically owned by Canine Assistants of Milton the organization where she was born, raised and trained. “We don’t choose the dog,” said Klein. “Canine Assistants chooses the dog after meeting the handler and learning their needs.” Bella and Klein, like all the dog-handler teams in the program, are “bonded,” thanks to the Canine Assistants training

Diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia at just 15 months, Maddie Dukes, now age 4, has been in and out of Children’s Healthcare’s Scottish Rite hospital in Sandy Springs for most of her life. After undergoing a bone-marrow transplant, she was having trouble getting out of bed for her necessary walking therapy. But facility dog Tidings motivated her to get up and walk around the floor holding his leash. “The joy, comfort and love these dogs give to the kids at Children’s is just the medicine they need. Maddie instantly felt better after a dose of Ty,” said her mother, Kristen. For some patients, facility dogs have made the difference during the pandemic. Born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, brother and sister Malachi and Lexie Delaney have had more than 100 surgeries at Children’s and depended on the many activities normally offered. When those were shut down because of COVID-19, the Canines for Kids dogs became more important than ever. “The facility dogs have bridged the gap our family has felt the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the siblings’ mother, Amy. “The dogs remind [our children] of life before the pandemic and provide the sense of calm and comfort that leads to their healing.” Canines for Kids and Canine Assistants are 100% donor-financed. For information, go to https://www.choa.org/donors-and-volunteers/canines-for-kids or https://www.canineassistants.org.


Public Safety | 19

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Local residents urged not to leave firearms in vehicles as thefts rise BY SAMMIE PURCELL


Local police departments are urging residents to stop leaving firearms in their vehicles to halt thefts that already tally about 203 between January and late March. As of March 21, 36 guns had been reported stolen from vehicles in Brookhaven. As of March 25, 126 firearms have been reported stolen from vehicles in Atlanta’s Zone 2, which includes Buckhead, and 31 in Sandy Springs. In Dunwoody, 10 guns had been reported stolen from vehicles as of March 25. The Atlanta Police Department is promoting a “Clean Car Campaign” to urge residents to stop attracting thieves with valuables left inside vehicles. In Brookhaven, six of the 31 guns stolen so far this year were taken from unlocked vehicles and less than half of the victims knew their gun’s serial number, according to a Brookhaven Police Department spokesperson. In a March 3 press release, BPD advised residents to avoid leaving guns in their cars even if the car is locked, and to keep a list of serial numbers for any high-value items, including firearms. “Once these guns are stolen and in the hands of criminals, and especially when we can’t trace them by serial number, there’s a good chance they will be used to commit other crimes,” said Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura in the release. BPD spokesperson Lt. David Snively said since March 3, no guns have been taken out of unlocked vehicles and the BPD has seen a considerably slow down in the number of guns stolen out of cars since that March 3 press release. “We are encouraged that, where 31 guns were stolen in the first 60 days of the year, just five have been taken during the 21 days since our initial press release,” he said in an email. A spokesperson for the Sandy Springs Police Department said despite a decrease in larcenies from cars and a decrease in property crimes in general last year -- in part due to people staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic -- the department saw an increase in the number of firearms stolen from vehicles. According to daily crime data from the Atlanta Police Department, larceny from vehicles in general is up 7% in Zone 2 as of March 13 compared to that time in 2020. “This ... phenomenon is not exclusive to the city of Sandy Springs, but instead seen throughout the metro Atlanta area,” said SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Salvador Ortega in an email. Gun thefts from vehicles have been a problem for local police departments in the

past. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, there were over 200 reported thefts of firearms, ammo or gun accessories from vehicles in local communities each year. “Guns being stolen from vehicles is certainly nothing new,” said Dunwoody Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Robert Parsons in an email. “But, generally speaking, anytime a firearm gets into the hands of a criminal, it is undoubtedly a major concern.” According to 2019 research from Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control, between 200,000 and 500,000 guns are stolen from individuals each year in the United States. Of those incidents, about one-quarter of stolen guns are taken from cars. According to the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., about 104,578 guns were reported stolen in Georgia from 2012 to 2017, with a total value over $47 million. Only three states had higher numbers: Florida, California and Texas.

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Going outside for exercise or just a walk around the block were some of the ways metro Atlantans broke the monotony of pandemic life during the past year. Many also swarmed to the mountains and North Georgia’s state parks. It’s an uptick that started after last spring as some COVID-19 restrictions were eased and has continued unabated across the 84-thousand-acre system. “Crazy” is how Brad Gibson, the manager at hugely popular Cloudland Canyon State Park in Dade County, described the months since the pandemic began. Park rangers and employees worked to keep parkgoers social distanced, volunteers counted cars, and many day users were turned away. “We never really had a slow month,“ Gibson said. As of St. Patrick’s Day, he related “I’ve had the ‘full’ sign up at the campground since the first weekend in March and I don’t see it slowing down until early May.” The same holds true at high-traffic Tallulah Gorge State Park near Clarksville. Assistant manager Lieren Merz said ranger programs, guided hikes and even the park’s annual Easter Egg Hunt were canceled or curtailed last year. They hope to inch toward normal in 2021. Still, she said, “It’s been a struggle to keep up with the crowds and litter.” The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said for the period from July 2020 to March 15 of this year, almost 8 million guests have made their way to parks statewide. That’s up about 2.4 million visitors over last year, or around 37 percent. That’s lot of tent stakes driven and campers and RVs backing into parking spots. “We are happy to share the state parks with new visitors,” said Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Kim Hatcher. “We just want people to have a good time at the parks and socially distance.” To that end, Hatcher said those visiting park offices, museums and other indoor areas are strongly encouraged to wear masks, while accommodations and common areas are getting thoroughly sanitized. Boating, golf, hiking, biking, kayaking, disc golf, and most other outdoor activities are going forward this year, said officials. In a broader sense, however, park programming has entered a new era. Visitors will find there’s much more to do than hike or crawl into a sleeping bag as recreational options have mushroomed recently. “We were getting people to fill out surveys a few years ago.” said Heath Carter, vice president for sales and marketing with Coral Hospitality. They operate several parks under contract with the state including Amicalola and Unicoi state parks and the Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa. “People were telling us they loved the parks but that there was nothing to do.” Carter said he and the staff were puzzled by that. “We found out that they wanted programmed events. They might not have a fly-fishing rod or bow and arrow, but they wanted guidance and instruction. So, we supply the gear. All they have to do is sign up.” Ziplines are the biggest attractions at both parks, he said. Add to that a somewhat eclectic list including tomahawk throwing, survivalist camps, live fishing classes, 3D arContinued on page 22


APRIL 2021


Special Section | 21

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Continued from page 20 chery, paddle boarding and air rifle shooting. In addition, some facets of the parks have seen a makeover in the past year or so, with more due to come. Cabins have been renovated at Red Top Mountain State Park. The beach is also getting a makeover at the nearly 1,800-acre park on Lake Allatoona, as are campground facilities. At Cloudland Canyon, a needed update to showers and restrooms is on the horizon. Kiss those old square-block buildings goodbye. Air conditioning and heat are being added to the park’s yurts. Power capacity is being beefed up at campsites. At Tallulah Gorge, dozens of parking spaces have been added at the interpretive center. In the digital space, park officials have added an online retail store and a statewide equestrian pass. And that’s just for 2020-2021. More yurts, dog-friendly cabins, expanded mountain biking trails and expansions to park stores have all happened the last few years. Hatcher suggests those wanting to visit the mostly-heavily used state parks come early in the day or on a weekday, so as not to be turned away from day-use areas or told to wait on entering trails. A recent Monday visit to Amicalola Falls brought home that advice. The park had a leisurely feel, almost small-townish. A short hike up past a reflecting pond on the approach trail quickly revealed the brawling, tumbling falls themselves, the third highest cascading falls east of the Mississippi. Moseying toward the spectacle were Larry and Carol Crewey of Gainesville. “This is just wonderful,” said Carol Crewey, who said they’d already been to Tallulah Gorge this spring. “These little outdoor trips and adventures have been a lifesaver for us this past year.” A first-time visitor from Atlanta, Alex Nickelson, said he and his partner had just finished walking upstairs adjacent the falls, then taking another trail bending them back gradually toward the visitors’ center. “It was strenuous,” he chuckled. “They do warn you – twice.” Tallulah Falls also gets some aqua-love for its stair walk down into the 1,000-footdeep gorge and a half- dozen falls. The namesake canyon at Cloudland Canyon is a dramatic wonder with rocky and tree-bedecked views into parts of Tennessee and Alabama. A staircase leads down to a stream and two gorgeous falls at the bottom. And don’t miss the overlook. “It gives you a sense of how big and massive things are when you get up there,” said

Gibson. Vogel State Park, established in 1931 and the second oldest in the system, is one that plays big. It sits at the foot of Blood Mountain, the highest summit on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. It has an extensive trail system that includes a challenging 13-mile back-country route and is centered on a placid lake. And don’t forget other North Georgia parks like Don Carter, Fort Mountain, Black Rock Mountain, and Smithgall Woods. All of them feature woodsy walks, glimpses of wildlife and breath-catching vistas and some are less visited, so you’re less likely to run into thousands of your best friends, And what’s not to like about a mere $5 parking fee to enter? (But keep in mind that some activities will require digging deeper into the wallet). It may not be easy for park employees handling the crowds and strain on facilities, but visitors like Nickelson are quick to give them a thumbs-up. “I’ve never been here before,” he said, “but I’ve been to a lot of state parks and I like it. It’s very clean and I didn’t feel unsafe walking up the stairs, which is a good thing.” And he added, “I just love waterfalls.” Cloudland Canyon

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Big Canoe thrives during pandemic, has waiting list for homes BY COLLIN KELLEY If you need further proof that the real estate market barely blinked during the pandemic, then look no further than Big Canoe: there’s a waiting list for homes in the private mountain community. Situated between Jasper and Dawsonville about an hour north of Atlanta, Big Canoe usually has anywhere from 200 to 250 homes on the market at any given time. As of mid-March, there were only 19 available. “It’s so amazing,” Big Canoe’s general manager Scott Auer said. “Realtors have waiting lists. As soon as a home goes on the market, there are multiple offers in 24 hours.” Auer said the pandemic is to blame. “COVID-19 has changed how we live and do business,” Auer said. “The pandemic has made people rethink their priorities and they want to be somewhere that has a small town feel and offers security.” To that end, the 8,000 acre Big Canoe now has some of the fastest internet speeds in the country, its own fire department, and round-the-clock gated security. And, of course, there’s the stunning mountain views and amenities galore. Auer said Big Canoe is spending $6 million on capital improvements in 2021, including renovations

to the golf course and tennis courts, a new bocci facility, and plans to turn older buildings in the community into meeting spaces. Big Canoe was also serious about keeping its residents safe from COVID-19, going above and beyond the state’s recommendations. “We locked arms and said the safety of our property owners and employees was the most important issue, so we put some stringent guidelines in place including mask mandates.” While the community might have lost some day-users of its amenities, Auer said, but safety above profits was the guiding principle during the height of the pandemic. He said a partnership with Northside Hospital and an active group of volunteers in the community also helped residents do everything from pick up groceries to taking neighbors to doctor’s appointments. He said Big Canoe residents have also been proactive about getting the vaccine.

Auer said Big Canoe would relax its pandemic protocols slowly but was already moving toward mask-optional times at its gyms, offering more outdoor dining options at the clubhouse, and is hopeful that

the big 4th of July fireworks display will be on the calendar. “What we really need is more houses,” a delighted Auer said.


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

APRIL 2021

Special Section | 25



Your Trusted Advisor In Blue Ridge

662 EATON ROAD offered for $3,200,000

304 DEER WATCH LANE offered for $850,999

653 KENSINGTON DRIVE offered for $749,000

3794 ZION HILL ROAD offered for $2,800,000

436 GERONIMO ROAD offered for $1,575,000

174 DEER WATCH LANE offered for $1,200,000

475 TOCCOA RIVER LANE offered for $1,000,000

629 EATON ROAD offered for $730,000

401 TRAILWOOD DRIVE offered for $579,900

Kim Knutzen REALTOR®

c: 770.402.1908 o: 706.613.HOME KIM@ANSLEYRE.COM GUIDETOBLUERIDGE.COM 706.613.HOME | ANSLEYMOUNTAINS.COM | 116 WEST MAIN ST. UNIT 1C, BLUE RIDGE, GA 30513 Christopher Burell, Principal Broker. Information believed accurate but not warranted. Equal Housing Opportunity. If you have an existing relationship with a Broker, this is not intended as a solicitation. *Represented buyer

26 | Community

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Planners grapple with pandemic’s mystery impacts on population boom and traffic BY JOHN RUCH AND MAGGIE LEE In the era of metro Atlanta’s population boom, it’s a magic number behind virtually every transportation plan and housing policy: another 2.9 million people packing into the region by 2050. But the pandemic could slow that growth and change many plans, says the head of the agency that made the estimate. “It’ll take about three or four years to know whether pre-pandemic migration patterns are going to pick up… or have slowed permanently,” said Doug Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, at a March 8 Rotary Club of Buckhead luncheon. Historically, pandemics have halted or reduced such largescale relocations, he said. Even if the population crunch continues, the long-term future of teleworking is a huge question that could affect everything from local street-widenings to state toll lanes to MARTA routes. So is how such changes fit into long-term trends like a decline in bus ridership. The ARC had just completed a fouryear regional transportation plan in February 2020, only to see it become virtually obsolete in lockdowns. The plan included a kind of disaster scenario, dubbed “Fierce Headwinds,” but it was about an economic recession, not a pandemic. Now work is starting on an update, but it may need to account for new ways of thinking about notions like “rush hour.” “As professional planners this is our job to try and anticipate things like this, and in a lot of ways we got blindsided by the pandemic just like every person did,” says David Haynes, a senior planner at ARC. “We know the questions to be asking. We just don’t know answers to them yet.” Metro Atlanta’s traffic volumes are returning to a near normal, Haynes said, but in funny ways. Instead of just the traditional a.m. and p.m. rush hours, there’s congestion at midday and on the weekends. That spreading-out of the traffic volume suggests a significant teleworking shift. ARC will have to “totally revisit our assumptions” on things like traffic demand and volume-counting practices, he said. Georgia’s about to spend $1.2 billion to add toll lanes along the Perimeter and Ga. 400, including in Sandy Springs. And those Ga. 400 lanes might also carry a new “rapid” bus service, though whether and when that happens will depend on the will of Fulton mayors to ask voters to open their wallets. The folks who run toll roads and MARTA say the need for their infrastructure isn’t going anywhere, even if the pandemic means some changes. But there are also long-term trends they’re watching. Regular bus use has been on a gentle decline for years on key northeast metro Atlanta routes. That’s happening everywhere, even as the population rises. Nationwide, bus rid-

ership is at its lowest point since at least 1973, according to a new study by Georgia Tech researchers. Transit planners know some of what’s behind the nationwide bus and rail decline, even if they’re still figuring out how much each factor is to blame. They know that when driving and parking are easy and cheap, people will choose cars. And if buses are infrequent and get stuck in the same traffic as everybody else, they’re less popular. But what’s still a bit of a mystery is how much of the change is due to ride-hailing apps, e-scooters, bike-sharing, telecommuting and even gentrification. Even before COVID-19, those things were taking

some bite out of transit demand. Wealthy, white-collar professionals who can telecommute don’t tend to be dependent on buses or trains, whereas the folks they priced out of town might have been. Metro Atlanta’s toll lanes, on the other hand, get popular quickly and stay that way, according to Peach Pass data. The numbers plunged early in the pandemic and are climbing back. The use of toll lanes and transit hasn’t recovered since the pandemic plunge began about a year ago, though transit planners expect it to, just maybe in different ways. If some critical mass of people continue to telecommute or remain unem-

ployed, maybe that’s the future of rush hour. And online shopping is driving freight traffic higher. Tractortrailers bring the cargo part of the way, then the fleets of Amazon vans roll out. Meanwhile, there’s probably not anything that could stop the new toll lanes project on Ga. 400, though the Georgia Department of Transportation hasn’t finished all its necessary reviews. Chris Tomlinson is head of SRTA, the state agency that administers toll roads — and of the one that coordinates metro counties’ transit plans. He argues the metro still needs all kinds of alternatives to the single person driving one car during rush hour, including transit, telecommuting and yes, toll lanes. “We’re doing all these [Peach Pass lane] projects because our roads were already oversubscribed,” Tomlinson said. “If traffic was to get back to just 85% of what it was, we would still have congestion.” MARTA’s leader, CEO and General Manager Jeff Parker, thinks talk of the death of the office is exaggerated and he remains bullish on cities in general. He pointed to Microsoft moving in at Bankhead, at Portman working with MARTA itself for a big development at North Avenue station, at metro Atlanta’s growing population “Nobody’s talking about the demise of the Midtown market,” Parker said. And besides that, not everybody even works in an office or got a COVID-19 break from it. Thousands of people continued to rely on MARTA even during the worst of the pandemic. The agency is working on a bus route redesign with the aim of better matching routes to riders and the places they need to go. That should take about a year. In the meantime, MARTA is planning to reopen all its suspended bus routes by April 24.

Education | 27

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


RESERVE OPEN-AIR ADVENTURE AND LAKEFRONT Kids 6-16 can spend this summer unplugged from technology and plugged into fun at YMCA Camp Thunderbird and YMCA Camp Harrison


2021 HEALTH PRACTICES: - Masks required on buses - Bathrooms cleaned every 30 mins - Small groups; no more than 15 - No group mingling - Daily temperature checks - Weekly counselor testing

YOUR CHILD'S COLLEGE JOURNEY College? Careers? They’ll be here for your kids before you know it. Summer Academy at UGA offers specialty camps to support your teen or pre-teen’s passions and boost their skills.

Recognized nationally as a strong career and college builder Convenient, live online programs


Established in 2001, this will be

Josh Powell Camp has been getting kids active in the great outdoors every summer since 1972.

Great SUMMER activities: swimming, archery, canoeing, arts and crafts, fort building, gaga ball, and more!

Registration currently open for current K-2nd graders.

Sutton Middle School on Northside Drive and Kairos Church at I-285 and Riverside

Summer Academy’s 21st offering

This summer is the time to start making your student’s career and college dreams a reality


5242 Wade Green Road, Acworth, GA 30312 (678) 369-0780 (call or text) Hey@JoshPowellCamp.com



28 | Education

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Choose your own adventure at Trinity School Summer Camp! Academic, specialty, and sports camps for children ages 4 to 13 June 7–July 2 Monday–Friday

• 7:30 AM–4 PM

July 26–30 Limited offerings


SUMMER FRIENDS A summer program for individuals with developmental disabilities Ages 16-21 (still attending High School)

Summer Friends incorporates our core elements of community service, therapeutic activities, healthy living, and social skills in peer appropriate setting Our program provides an opportunity for high school students to experience the robust programming of our therapeutic day program

4301 Northside Parkway NW, Atlanta 404-231-8117 | kwhitmer@trinityatl.org Trinity School operates under strong health and safety guidelines.




If you’re looking for your student to learn and grow this summer in a fun, faith-filled environment, HSP Summer Programs are for you! Our fun summer programs for preschoolers – 12th graders are designed to support the formation of each student through faith, academics, athletics, and arts.

Early registration is recommended as spaces are limited. Visit holyspiritprep.org/summerprograms to register today! BH

Education | 29

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


smart girls

June 14-18 & 21-25 July 12-16 & 19-23 “A unique program that creates space for girls to take risks, discover their strengths, and express their own voice.”


for more information and to register visit


Join us for an adventurous and fun summer! Sea Gull and Seafarer’s unique North Carolina coastal location is perfect for our seamanship program and traditional camp activities. Campers make lifelong friendships, challenge themselves and succeed in the process.


Open to PK- 8th Grade students in metro Atlanta. Choose from science, technology, engineering, art camps, and more! gallowayschool.org/summer BH

30 | Education

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SUMMER CAMPS BLUE HERON SUMMER CAMP IS BACK! Blue Heron Summer Camp is the perfect place for your camper to escape into nature! Campers will discover the wonders of the


With 30 acres of greenspace located in the heart of Buckhead, PS

• Sports • Gymnastics • Science • Technology • Engineering • Math • Leisure • Arts & Crafts • Tennis


outdoors through hands-on learning, weekly focuses, and small group explorations. COVID safety protocols in place.






We offer a variety of quality summer day camps in Sandy Springs that encourage positive character development! Our staff are committed to providing a safe environment where campers can be challenged and achieve success. Learn more at registration.sandyspringsga.gov.



REPORTER NEWSPAPERS 2021 AGAPE TENNIS ACADEMY SUMMER CAMPS To register, email: info@agapetennisacademy.com, call (404) 636-5628, or sign up online at www.agapetennisacademy.com


Having fun becoming better players and better people

15% OFF if you register before April 1st

“The 2019 Organization of the Year” Camps are located at DeKalb Tennis Center: 1400 McConnell Drive Decatur, GA 30033


May 24-28 June 1-4 June 1-4 June 1-4 June 7-11 June 7-10 June 14-18 June 14-17 June 21-25 June 21-24 June 21-25 June 28-July 2 June 28-July 1 July 6-9 July 6-9 July 12-16 BH

Classifieds | 31

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Help Wanted


Executive Admin Assistant FT position open for an experienced executive admin working with two professionals in the financial services industry. Must have excellent computer and customer relation skills as you will be working with the firm’s top clients. Office is located in Dunwoody area. Applicant must supply cover letter, resume, salary requirements and any additional qualifications you feel may be pertinent. No phone calls, emails only accepted. Contact: Sue jsue1205@yahoo.com

Caregiver, Sitter & Companion Available for your loved ones! Certified with Great References. Call Deidre Kimbro 404-397-9429 - Available Today.

Driveways and Walkways - Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repaired, waterproofing or reetaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576.

Considerate Caregiver for elderly woman & man. Flex hours, days, evenings, weekends. Prefer CNA/ Medical/Medical Student experience. Light meal prep and housekeeping. 770-393-4578 (landline). Email: jimknocke@gmail.com.

Best Rate Painting - We beat all estimates! Rooms as low as $175. Exterior as low as $1750. 25 years’ experience. Free estimates and No money down. Call 404-434-8941 or email: bestratepaint@bellsouth.net Visit: www.bestratepainting.com.

Relevant Resume

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Contact Meaningful Moments with Keisha Renae as your Senior Lifestyle Enrichment Advisor. I implement activities that help maintain lifestyles and reduce loneliness while building supportive friendships. Call 843-642-3414 or Email: KRmeaningfulmoments@gmail.com.

Services Available

Matthew’s Handy Services - 7AM appointments available. Small jobs & chores are my specialties! Organizers, Carpentry, Drywall & Painting. Call 404-547-2079 or email mwarren8328@ gmail.com. Troy Holland - Plumbing - Electrical - HVAC. All your needs! Repairs, Replacement & New installation. Family operated - 38 years experience. Commercial & Residential. Call 770256-8940.









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APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


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