MAY 2020 - Dunwoody Reporter

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MAY 2020 • VOL. 11 — NO. 5

Dunwoody Reporter TO OUR READERS

This May issue of the Reporter is a digital-only edition. We made the decision not to produce the printed publication with the health and safety of our staff and suppliers foremost in mind. The Reporter will return to print in June, so look for your copy as usual next month.

Perimeter Business ► The big decision of

pandemic reopenings

► Working from home

shows positives PAGE 5-8

Pandemic produce

DeKalb Board of Education names sole finalist for superintendent


Voters Guide to June 9 primary election




Pandemic ‘victory gardens’ P12


Catching up with catchball P13

Check out our podcasts at

The Dunwoody Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIP 30338 For information:


Mask-wearing manager Brandon Smith readies a pickup order for a customer on the opening day of the Dunwoody Farmers Market April 18. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the market was working by offering online orders and pick-up on Saturdays in the parking lot of Dunwoody United Methodist Church. Smith said the market had 200 orders that morning and hoped to return to closer to normal operations in May. For more information, see

City braces for pandemic budget hits BY WILL WOOLEVER Officials are bracing for a hit to the city budget from the loss of tax revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns. Capital projects could be affected by a 75% drop in hotel/motel tax money and a 25% decrease in special local option sales tax

(SPLOST) revenue, though reserves could allow some work to continue. And city staff has already identified $849,000 in potential cuts to general spending, from parks to police to public works. Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki presented the estimates to the City Council at its April 27 meeting. Once the real numbers are See CITY on page 17

The DeKalb County Board of Education has narrowed its superintendent search down to a sole finalist, bringing a monthslong search for new leadership to a close. Rudolph “Rudy” Crew, president of Medgar Evers College in New York City, outlasted a field of 68 applicants to become the lone finalist, the board announced April 23. Crew, who has previous experience as chancellor of the New York City Board of Education and superintendent of MiamiDade County Public Schools, is concluding his seventh year as president of the college. If hired, the Poughkeepsie, New York native would take on his first professional role in Georgia. “We heard from the community that it was paramount that the candidate have deep experience as an educator, an administrator and a partner to parents, teachers and students,” DeKalb school baord chairman Marshall Orson said in a press release. “We are excited to not only have found a finalist who meets these criteria, but also has more than a quarter-century of experience in leading school districts, including a strong record in heading two of the nation’s largest urban districts.” As superintendent in Miami-Dade County, Crew oversaw a district of 353,000 students. As chancellor in New York City, he worked in a district of over 1 million students. Now, he is likely to take on Georgia’s third-largest district, serving 102,000 See DEKALB on page 9

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to key races on June 9 ballot Many races will appear on the June 9 primary and special election ballot.

Including: CBT, DBT, and Holistic Program Options

The following are Voters Guides to candidates in some key local races. For full answers from the candidates and more election coverage, see

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DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION DISTRICT 1 Anna Hill and Andrew Ziffer are competing for the DeKalb County Board of Education District 1 seat, which represents Dunwoody and part of Brookhaven. Incumbent Stan Jester is not running for re-election. Ziffer did not provide Voters Guide answers.

Anna Hill

What is motivating you to run for this office? As adults, we must all be responsible stewards of our children’s education dollars. Overcrowding is rampant, facilities are not well-maintained, teachers are teaching in moldy trailers and some do not even have their own classrooms. We need to ensure every single dollar is making it to the classroom. I believe we can do better than we are now. As a mom of a DCSD graduate in 2019, a CPA and a taxpayer, I simply cannot look the other way as the financial accounting difficulties continue. There was no choice for me except to run for District 1, Board of Education.

DEKALB COUNTY SHERIFF A nonpartisan special election will be held to fill the DeKalb County sheriff position following last year’s retirement of Jeffrey Mann. Incumbent Melody Maddox, who was appointed to the office, faces challengers Geraldine Champion, Harold Dennis, Adam Gardner, Tod Golden, Antonio “Block” Johnson, Kyle K. Jones, Carl Mobley and Ruth Stringer. Champion, Golden and Mobley did not provide Voters Guide responses.

Harold Dennis What is motivating you to run for this office? My motivation to run for sheriff is to provide service, dedication and protection to the citizens of DeKalb County. I have the heart for the people, and I care for the well-being of citizens and employees of DeKalb County.

Adam Gardner What is motivating you to run for this office? My family and I love living in DeKalb County and I am genuinely concerned for the safe future of DeKalb. It is everyone’s right to feel and to be safe. This is the main reason why I have decided to run for the office of DeKalb County sheriff. I want to fight to ensure everyone has that right. I also have an extraordinary vision for a safe and secure DeKalb County.

Antonio “Block” Johnson

What is motivating you to run for this office? I am running for the Office of DeKalb County Sheriff to make a leadership difference and restore community trust while making the office one of the best in the state.

MAY 2020

Community | 3

Ruth Stringer

Kyle K. Jones

What is motivating you to run for this office? Break the former sheriff’s (Thomas Brown) stronghold on the Sheriff’s Office budget, bonding process and operation. To conduct a forensic audit; identify and prosecute individuals involved in corruption; restore the citizens’ trust; reform bail by ending the monopoly the current bonding companies have; address the staffing issues and inmates’ conditions in the jail; screen for mental health and drug addictions in the jail so inmates receive treatment and not incarceration; crosstrain all deputies and detention officers; improve courthouse security; and work with the police departments in DeKalb to develop a joint comprehensive plan to reduce crime. What is motivating you to run for this office? I was appointed to serve as the interim sheriff for 40 days when the elected sheriff was suspended by the governor. I observed various contracts that caused me to realize that the Sheriff’s Office had become less of a law enforcement agency for the citizens of DeKalb and more of a moneymaking enterprise for former officials. The current leadership will continue the pipeline of tax dollars to contractors/ vendors to the pockets of former officials. I am a grassroots candidate and do not have those obligations or attachments. I want to restore the integrity and structure of the agency.

DEKALB COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 1 In the race for the DeKalb County Commission’s District 1 seat, representing

Dunwoody and part of Brookhaven, Democrats Md Naser, Robert Patrick, Ben Truman and Cynthia Yaxon are vying for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Nancy Jester on the November general election ballot. Another Democrat who filed to run, Breeanna Bellinger, said she dropped out of the race.

MD Naser

What is motivating you to run for this office? I come from one of the poorest countries on Earth, Bangladesh. I know what it is to struggle to make ends meet, to work dawn to dusk, to battle to get an education, to overcome the difficulties facing a person of color, and finally to emigrate to the greatest country in the world, the USA, to realize the American Dream. I identify with people who need a helping hand. I will bring that perspective and the compassion and genuine feeling for all of DeKalb citizens and families I learned in my journey to

realize my own hopes and dreams.

Robert Patrick What is motivating you to run for this office? First, I am concerned about the future of DeKalb County. Looking at growth projections, DeKalb falls behind Gwinnett and Cobb counties in population growth. That means DeKalb falls to fourth place for jobs for our residents, housing options, property values, in opportunities for our residents and overall desirability of our community. The second factor is the water and sewer system. I believe that what is holding our communities is the lack of infrastructure investment from DeKalb County. It is difficult to encourage new residents, businesses and development to call DeKalb home when sewage overflows into our parks, backyards and communities.

Continued on page 4


 community  flexibility  sacrifice  optimism  resilience  courage  spirit  pride Unprecedented times for our planet, and an unparalleled community grows stronger. We laud the ingenuity and fortitude of our small businesses, our neighbors, our friends. Distance will only make us closer. We stand tall as a community, grateful for the connections that armor us with strength

, that s

DUNWOODY Connections will show us the way.

and conviction to weather the storm. We’re in this together, Dunwoody!

4 | Community ■

Continued from page 3

Ben Truman

Cynthia Yaxon What is motivating you to run for this office? What is motivating me to run is that I want to see “change,” but a positive change. I believe that those who can have a civil duty to ourselves and each other, whether it is on a local, state or federal level, in order to promote positive change. I understand the value and the importance of being connected to issues that surround my county, district and community as well as my county. I understand government, policy, legislation and the Constitution. I have given of myself to others when they were in need and found a passion to keep helping.


Running to replace retiring DeKalb County Superior Court Division 3 Judge Clarence Seeliger are Roderick Bridges, Aaron Chausmer, Vincent C. Crawford, Yolanda C. Parker-Smith and Melinda Pillow. The nonpartisan race will be decided in the primary. Bridges, Chausmer and Pillow did not provide Voters Guide answers.

Vincent C. Crawford

What is motivating you to run for this office? I am motivated to run for Superior Court Judge because I am currently and for the past seven years sit by designation in DeKalb County Superior Court. When designated to sit in Superior Court, I preside and conduct trials as well as hearings in Criminal, Civil and Accountability Courts and Family Law matters.

What is motivating you to run for this office? My main motivation for running for office is to improve the functioning of the county government.

Yolanda C. Parker-Smith

What is motivating you to run for this office? My commitment to justice having grown up in an environment where too often the concept of justice is missing in everyday lives; therefore, I am focused on ensuring that justice is attained by all. Over the years, I have encountered individuals who scoff at the idea that everyone can actually receive justice. Too often, fairness and equality only applied to the rich and powerful. Too often the poor and vulnerable are treated unfairly and with bias. The ideal towards fair and balanced justice motivated me to run for this office.

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MAY 2020

Perimeter Business | 5

Perimeter Business

Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

Spring 2020 | Pandemic Impacts Businesses

Businesses ride the closing and reopening roller coaster BY JOHN RUCH

Shop, who has been cutting hair in Dunwoody for 42 years, 10 of them in the current 5064 Nandina Lane location. He and The coronavirus pandemic has been a barber Ron Whitehead served a slate of 20 roller coaster of rough decisions for many customers on the busy day, including 32local businesses, whose owners went from year client Jeff Raasch, who was getting facing shutdown orders in mid-March to that trim. figuring out whether and how to reopen in In accordance with new state safety late April. rules and suggestions, Smith wore a face Gov. Brian Kemp issued a surprise order mask while working, and served only one allowing the reopening on April 24 or 27 of customer at a time. The shop exceeded at certain businesses that had been shuttered least of the state suggestions; instead of due to close-quarters service and the likelispacing customers 6 feet apart in the waithood of COVID-19 transmission in them. At ing area, they took a number at the door press time, his statewide shelter-in-place orand were allowed in only one at a time afder was set to expire April 30, and bars and ter getting a call. The shop skipped some nightclubs remained closed. other suggestions, including that customKemp’s order was intensely controverers also wear masks and that barbers wear sial, seen by many medical experts -- ingloves and face shields. cluding the White House advisors -- as Plenty of customers were eager to show premature and dangerous, and by some up for a cut or trim. Among was Raasch, PHIL MOSIER owners and customers as a reasonable rewho said he simply needed a haircut. Ernie Smith, owner of Ernie’s Barber Shop in Dunwoody Village, gives a turn to economic life. Some local businessRaasch said he was used to the world trim to 32-year customer Jeff Raasch on April 24, the first day the business es allowed to reopen ventured into the new he grew up in during the 1960s and ’70s, was allowed to reopen under Gov. Brian Kemp’s controversial order. world of pandemic business, while many when workers stayed home when they others remained closed pending more testwere sick and others covered for them. He ing. said the pandemic disruption has been a “bizarre experience” and that “you can’t always live your life in fear of what might happen or nothing will be accomplished.” A barber returns to work He said he felt safe with Smith’s measures and suggested the pandemic can be defeated Ernie Smith expertly clipped a customer’s bangs on the afternoon of April 24, a month afwith good manners. ter coronavirus pandemic closure orders cut into his Dunwoody Village business. “I am very thankful for our loyal clientele,” said Smith, the owner of Ernie’s Barber Continued on page 6

Doing ‘essential’ business is essentially challenging BY JOHN RUCH

The shelter-in-place orders that had Georgia residents holing up through at least April 30 also gave them plenty of opportunities to patronize shops for food, booze, medicine and other “essential” services. But for workers and owners in pandemic conditions, doing “essential” business was essentially challenging. From pharmacies to construction sites, from pizza shops to liquor stores, businesses are forced to find new ways of doing nearly everything. Some deal with a crush of new customers; others face the disappearance of regulars. Workers aim to cut the coronavirus risk through precautions — or may be too scared to work at all. Legal verbiage like “essential,” “critical” or “minimum basic operations” doesn’t make any of them immune from the pandemic’s impact on every facet of life. The following are how some local businesses are dealing with it.

The pizza place

The ban on dine-in restaurant business

forced many to scramble to convert to takeout service. The local pizza place has the advantage of already being built around takeout and delivery. But it’s not immune from the economic ravages. Napoli New York Pizza Italian Kitchen & Catering operates at 276 Hammond Drive in Sandy Springs, along the oncebusy Roswell Road spine of the city. “We’re struggling like everybody else who managed to stay open, I assume, just because daytime — you see what rush hour is like now,” says owner Kenan Atli. “… It’s a ghost town… Rush hour, you can just, like, dance around in the middle of Roswell Road.” Nights used to be the slow time for Napoli, but now that home-delivery business is what the shop relies on, said Atli. “Obviously, we’ve lost all of our catering business,” he added. But the shop remains fully staffed — only now with the table server running the cash register and the delivery driver wearing a mask and gloves. “I just took this place over a few months ago,” said Atli. But the business itself is one

Top, a Choate Construction publicity image of work on the Hyatt House hotel on Peachtree-Dunwoody Road in the Medical Center area of Sandy Springs.

of those that has been there seemingly forever — Atli says the cook has worked there since 2000 and the pizza oven has been blazing since 1972. “We’re still around,” he said. “We’re still opening the doors, making sure the employees get paid.


The pharmacy

A pharmacy is a good business to be in during a pandemic. Getting items on shelves and safely into the hands of cusContinued on page 8

6 | Perimeter Business ■

Businesses ride the closing and reopening roller coaster Continued from page 5 “It’s [a] simple, common-sense approach to the situation!” said Raasch. “As I read once in a book written by Robert Fulghum, everything we need to know in life we first learned in kindergarten. Just be nice to each other! Respect one another! Play fair! Put things back where you found them! Wash your hands before you eat! Clean up your own mess! And most importantly, when we go out into the world, or even just cross the street, make sure we stick together and look out for each other!” Another reopening day customer was Terry Nall, a former member of the City Council and recently an unsuccessful candidate for mayor. Nall said in a text message that he felt “very safe. Ernie and Ron went beyond the guidelines by allowing inside only the current customer in the chair. They have enough waiting area to social distance, too, but opted to be stricter about the distancing.” Nall said he wasn’t a fan of the shutdowns in the first place. “I’m a ‘guardrails and guidelines’ leader instead of [a supporter of] outright closures,” said Nall. “The ‘guardrails and guidelines’ approach is much more rational, proportional and unemotional than responding with government closures. Business owners then have the choice of complying or closing and provid[ing] safe options for customers to achieve the same result of ‘flattening the curve.’ Government does a terrible job of picking winners and losers via closure orders.”

Restaurants wait

Battle & Brew, a gaming restaurant in Sandy Springs, and NFA Burger, a new restaurant in Dunwoody, are surely eager to get back in normal business while they eke through the pandemic on takeout service. So is Jason Sheetz, owner of the Sandy Springs restaurants Hammocks Trading Company and Under the Cork Tree as well as the Woodstock steakhouse Prime 120. But all are skeptical about Kemp’s timetable. Battle & Brew co-owner Soel Tran said management is still discussing the reopening possibility internally, but expressed safety and financial concerns. “While we would love to reopen fully to the public and hang out with all of our geek and gaming friends again, we have serious reservations on the feasibility/safety of the restrictions being lifted so soon,” said Tran in an email. And social distancing rules don’t fit with the gaming-oriented business model, meaning Battle & Brew could be in a “death limbo spot” if it reopened with full expenses but only a limited ability to make money. “It feels like a really dangerous gamble right now for people and businesses alike,” Tran said. NFA Burger owner Billy Kramer said he isn’t changing his pandemic mode of operations “until I feel it is safe for me, my family and staff. “I just got off the phone with a doctor who has spent the last month on the front lines and asked him the following ques-

tion: ‘Will you take your family out for dinner next week?’ His answer was an emphatic no,” Kramer added. “If a business or restaurant wants to reopen or expand their current operations, I have nothing against them and hope for the best,” said Kramer. “However, my family and I won’t be participating.” Sheetz says he closed his Sandy Springs restaurants on March 14 for safety reasons and isn’t sure how to rethink that plan be-

downs. Sheetz said that is the last business he would plan to reopen. “It’s almost more important for us to kind of finish the good work that the food pantry’s doing before we replace it with a business,” he said. “…A week or two’s not going to make the difference to us at this point. A week or two keeping the food pantry open will make a big difference to a lot of people.” Sheetz sounded a note of hope about figuring a way out of the shutdowns. “I think it’s as controversial a topic as exists. It’s beyond Republican and Democrat,” he said. “It’s just, do you open or do you not open? Is it safety or is it a business? Is it the economy or is it health? And it’s both. It’s everything. And just because we don’t have the answer right now doesn’t mean we won’t figure it out.”

Bowling and movies

Local operators of bowling alleys and a movie theater weren’t ready to reopen immediately, either. Brandt Gully, owner of the independent The SPECIAL Springs Cinema & Taphouse Justin Amick at the Painted Pin. theater in Sandy Springs, said he was “just kind of stunned and not fore Kemp issues specific rules. sure what to make of it” and that “it doesn’t “We certainly aren’t going to barrel forfeel right” to reopen. It also doesn’t make ward in trying to have all guns blazing by sense in the most basic way, Gully said: that time because, you know, we just won’t “One of the issues, and it’s not the main isbe ready,” Sheetz said in a phone interview. sue, but we don’t have content. There are “…It’s the safety of the employees and the no new movies.” guests. … We want to make sure that everyJustin Amick, president and CEO of the one is protected from everybody. And those company that operates Buckhead’s Painted rules are just very unclear. They haven’t Pin and the Westside’s Painted Duck highbeen stated.” end bowling parlors, also expressed sur“Are we going to fill up the dining room? prise and concern. “Although I couldn’t be Absolutely not,” he added. “Are there a few happier to have bowling solidified as one people who are going to want to come out of life’s most essential needs, I’m surprised and get out, yes. Is it the smart thing to do? by the accelerated timeline to be able to reI don’t know.” open our doors to the public,” he said. Even if safety was worked out, Sheetz Justin Amick elaborated on the consaid, the finances of running a restaurant cerns in a joint statement with his father still have to work. He noted that dining-in Bob Amick, owner of the Concentric Resbusinesses have a wide range of models, taurants group, which includes TWO Urfrom fast food to high-end, and require cerban Licks, Bully Boy and Parish. tain volumes of customers to pay the bills. “We are scared to death about the new Pandemic rules could affect that and take norms, strict limitations and guidelines long planning from restaurant owners. that will make it impossible to be financialThe sudden prevalence of takeout and ly viable,” the Amicks said. “A rushed redelivery is a new part of the financial equaopening could be the nail in the coffin for tion. “I know some restaurants that have many companies. We won’t risk the safety done real well with takeout. I know others of our staff, families and patrons, as their who think it’s a waste of time,” he said. well-being is of the utmost importance.” Sheetz said that, ironically, he and his “It honestly — it really puts us in a partners intended to reopen Hammocks tough position,” said Gully, the theater for takeout service as soon as this weekend owner, about Kemp’s announcement. “I’m after weeks of planning how to reconfigsure there’s intent there for the governure the business. “Now we’re pumping the ment to throw us a lifeline here and allow brakes on that, going, ‘Hold on,’” he said. us to reopen. But truthfully, I don’t really Sheetz’s other Sandy Springs restaulike the position I’m in. I closed before I was rant, Under the Cork Tree, has been entirerequired to close for the same reason I likely converted into the temporary Solidarity ly won’t open when I’m allowed to open.” Food Pantry, especially to serve restaurant “Obviously, I have some significant conworkers who lost their jobs in the shut-

cern over opening, and I think for certain we wouldn’t be opening on Monday,” said Gully, who closed the doors of his theater on March 17. Gully said that Hollywood studios are not planning to release major films for another eight to 10 weeks. He expected a reopening of theaters no earlier than midJune. Opening even earlier would mean finding other types of movies to screen, raising one of many financial viability questions. “We can’t just open. You have to have something to show,” he said. The unknown details of Kemp’s reopening order would matter a lot. Gully noted such factors as what level of occupancy the theaters could have, what safety rules would be required, and whether there would be any additional insurance liability. Meanwhile, like many business owners, Gully is using some of the idle goods and services for charity — selling beer growlers and giant bags of popcorn at curbside to benefit a children’s cancer organization.

Weighing the reopening odds

A hair stylist was among those worried about how to return to business and weighing their odds. Marla Whitmer, a stylist of 10 years’ experience who lives in Sandy Springs, will head back to work on Friday at a Salon Lofts location in Roswell. Not because she feels protected against the coronavirus. It’s that the salon is going to resume charging her and the other stylists rent on their spaces. Does she feel safe? “No. I don’t,” she said. “I think it’s too early.” For Whitmer, it’s not the first time the financial pressures of the pandemic crisis have forced her to compromise on safety since the salon closed a month ago. She said she recently began quietly making house calls for select clients “because I thought the unemployment would kick in a little bit quicker than it did. So I kind of had no other choice, really.” “I felt OK,” she said of the risks of going to clients’ homes. “I would pick and choose a few that I would allow” and made sure there weren’t “multiple people in a small room,” she said. Returning to the salon is a different story, she said, especially as Georgia’s COVID-19 reports continue to rise. She said she wishes the salon would wait two more weeks to reopen. Many of her clients have no such qualms. “Surprisingly, my phone, the day that Gov. Kemp announced that [reopening order], I was getting calls, texts, emails about scheduling immediately,” Whitmer said with a low laugh. Whitmer questioned whether some of the state-required safety items will be available in the pandemic market demands. And she said she thinks it’s “a little crazy that they don’t provide certain things if that’s what they want us to do. Because how do you go a month without pay and then have to invest in infrared thermometers and products and all that stuff?”

MAY 2020

Perimeter Business | 7

Many in Perimeter Center eager to keep working from home, survey says BY JOHN RUCH

The pandemic’s forced experiment in teleworking has many Perimeter Center employees eager to keep doing it at least part-time, according to early results of a survey by the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts. “This is, overall, a strange time,” but also “an opportunity in some ways,” said Johann Weber, manager of the PCIDs’ Perimeter Connects alternative commuting program, during the organization’s quarterly project update meeting held virtually on April 29. Weber helps local companies come up with commuting programs for their employees. The survey showed workers realizing many positives -- as well as some downsides -of working from home, said Weber. Even with some businesses returning to operations while the pandemic continues, there are also lessons for how teleworking and planning can help with safety requirements like social distancing, he said. The results are preliminary because the survey is still open. Weber said there were 405 responses so far, many from Cox companies, but with more than 50 employers represented. Respondents included executives, managers and workers, he said. Weber said employers should work now on formalizing a telework policy, including ways to track performance and health effects on employees and helping them to limit their virtual workdays. The PCIDs offers free help in drafting such policies through In Buckhead, the nonprofit Livable Buckhead offers similar assistance through During the pandemic, employers also should use part-time teleworking as a way to increase social distancing in the workplace, along with such measures as staggered departure and arrival times for employees, Weber said. He said the pandemic may have long-term effects on workplace design, reversing a trend toward higher-density spaces with workers clustered together.

Survey results so far

The survey found that 82.7% of respondents were now working from home five or more days a week, a result that Weber said would have sounded “crazy” at the start of the year. Prior to the pandemic, respondents said, only 4% worked from home that of-

ten, though 38% already did so one to two days a week. Another 19% had never worked from home. “Obviously, there are a lot of challenges, to put it moderately… but this is pretty spectacular,” Weber said of the teleworking. And many respondents like the experience, with 82% wanting to continue working from home one or more days a week, and 50% a majority of the week, according to Weber. Broken down further, a bit of 30% of respondents wanted to work from home one or two days a week, and a similar percenter wanted to work from home three or four days. A bit over 15% wanted to work from home five or more days a week. More money and time and less stress were among the reasons respondents liked working from home. Only 2% reported no positives from the experience. The top choice among positives was saving money by not commuting, chosen by 66.4% of respondents. A little over half cited decreased stress from the lack of a commute. Other physical and psychological health benefits included getting more sleep and spending more time with family and friends (both chosen by 43.2% of respondents) and increased exercise and healthier eating (30.6% of respondents). On the work side, 33.6% of respondents felt they were more productive when working from home, while 7.9% felt less productive. The negatives were less pronounced but significant. Weber said they centerd on the “massive meshing of work and home life, and those are things that aren’t always conducive to each other,” where distractions can range from “startled dogs” to “moody teenagers.” About 28% of respondents said their home workspace isn’t the same quality, while 27.2% citied a lack of proper equipment and 20.7% reported having internet access issues. Frequent distractions at home were cited by 17.5% of respondents; 16.8% said it’s difficult to stay motivated, and 14.3% felt lonely. Of the respondents, 22.7% said they have trouble unplugging from work. With the pandemic as a backdrop, 33.8% of respondents said they were anxious about it and 22.7% said they were worried about their job or the health of their company.

8 | Perimeter Business Continued from page 5 tomers are the new challenges. At Tuxedo Pharmacy & Gifts, an independent store at 164 West Wiecua Road in Buckhead, pharmacist Dawn Sasine says there have been a lot of new customers due to neighborhood and social media buzz. “The community has definitely been rallying for small businesses,” she said. “…I think people feel more comfortable coming here than maybe a big chain or a grocery where they do have to go inside.” The biggest challenge, she said, is finding suppliers to keep up the inventory. “Everything from the essentials — wipes, gloves, masks, etcetera — to the things that are keeping people home and occupied, [like] puzzles,” she said. Yes, the “gifts” side of the business is booming, too, with what Sasine says is “tremendous” demand for puzzles and games. The pharmacy has ordered “hundreds and hundreds” of puzzles to refill the stock, she said. The demand has the pharmacy staffed at normal levels, but working in a new world where customers come for curbside pickup only. “We’re just running around shopping for them,” Sasine said. Also new in the pandemic era are demonstrations of local support. “We are overwhelmed and touched by the support of small businesses and the community,” said Sasine, describing people as dropping by to offer food, cards, positive comments “and just love.” ■

The liquor store

If a pandemic makes you want to throw back a few, you’re not alone — beer, wine and liquor stores have stayed open throughout the various shutdown and shelter orders. But you might want to raise a glass to the folks going through the challenge of selling the stuff at places like Cambridge Bottle Shop in Brookhaven’s Cambridge Square shopping center at 2036 Johnson Ferry Road. “Business is OK, but we have to close early,” said manager Kenny Chaudhri. “There is an employee issue. Nobody wants to work.” The staff members, he said, are worried about catching COVID-19 in the aisles. “They’re scared. They don’t want to come,” he said. Chaudhri said he and his wife are running the store for now, letting customers in one at a time, or offering curbside pickup. “It’s hard,” he said. “You know, it’s hard, not like normal times. This is a bad time.”

The construction crews

While doctors and nurses battle COVID-19 in the hospitals of Sandy Springs’ Medical Center area, work continues virtually next door on a new Hyatt House hotel. Overseen by the Sandy Springs-based national firm Choate Construction, it’s just one of scores of construction projects forging ahead in the pandemic, either because outdoor work is exempt from restrictions or the work is considered “critical” to public interests. But doing that work in the pandemic

era takes many special steps — even for an industry used to following safety rules. “Our industry by its nature — we are safety-conscious more than a lot of industries,” said Michael Hampton, Choate’s chief administrative officer. “As an industry, it’s on our mind constantly.” Now safety includes social distancing, masks, face Top, Tuxedo Pharmacy & Gifts. (Google Maps) shields, gallons of Above, Napoli New York Pizza Italian hand sanitizer, temKitchen & Catering. (Google Maps) perature checks for all workers, a ban on where workers may have to handle tasks indoor meetings. Even the roll call is done as a team, Hampton acknowledged that without the customary passing around of might not be 100%, either. a clipboard, Hampton said. “I wouldn’t say if I walked on any site “I keep seeing creative ways of how that I couldn’t find two workers possibly in guys… are setting up wash stations on projclose proximity, but in a lot of these situaects where they don’t even have running tions they’re family members,” he said. water yet,” he said. In figuring out new ways of doing busi“So we’re doing everything we can to ness during the pandemic, Hampton said, make that sure that, while our essential contractors are all in it together. business continues, that there’s no risk to “And one of the nicer byproducts of this the workers on site,” he said. is the collaboration that’s happening beThat also means projects may not be at tween contractors because, you know, this “100% efficiency,” he said, but the compaisn’t a competitive advantage,” he said. “So ny aims to follow the safety guidelines, and we are sharing our best practices with our “that’s what the workers want as well.” competitors and they are likewise.” Asked about the feasibility of maintaning social distancing on construction sites


Fo r ov er t wo d ecad es, the Perim eter Co mm unity Improvement Distric ts has invested in acc es s, mobility , and qu alit y o f life to c reate a s ignatu re d est inat ion for co rpo rate head qu art ers, hos pit ality, and ret ail.

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Education | 9

MAY 2020 ■

DeKalb Board of Education names sole finalist for superintendent Continued from page 1 students across 140 schools and learning centers. “I’ve had the rare opportunity to explore a diverse career path that led me from classroom teacher to K-12 administrator and, most recently, to higher education,” Crew said in the press release. “What this experience has taught me about myself is the heart I really have for helping to shape the lives and educational outcomes of our younger students in a K-12 setting. I’m excited to get back to that important work and DeKalb is an outstanding school district where I believe my experience would be of great benefit.” Crew attended Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts for his undergraduate degree in education. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in educa-

tion from the University of Massachusetts. In the press release, DeKalb schools lauded Crew’s experience of progressive and innovative education policies. In Miami, Crew organized schools into districts based on student need rather than geography in an effort to improve performance, and the American Association of School Administrators named him the 2008 National Superintendent of the Year, the release said. In New York City, he helped to introduce additional learning opportunities like the

Rudolph “Rudy” Crew.

Math and Science Institute, featuring after-school and Saturday programming. “The district has made tremendous

strides in recent years,” Crew said. “It successfully restored its accreditation, improved its financial situation, and, most importantly, continues to elevate its academic programs and improve student outcomes.” In accordance with Georgia law, the school board must wait 14 days after naming its sole finalist before making the appointment official. The district expects Crew to sign a contract in May and succeed Ramona SPECIAL Tyson, who took over the superintendent role after the DeKalb Board of Education dismissed R. Stephen Green last November. Tyson is scheduled to retire June 30.

10 | Commentary

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Commentary: Lessons on what worked, and what needs to change The coronavirus pandemic has forced enormous changes on society. The Reporter asked local experts in various fields -- from arts to religion, urban planning to politics -- what lessons the pandemic has taught them about what works well in a crisis, and what needs to change. The participants included Rabbi Spike Anderson of Sandy Springs’ Temple Emanu-El synagogue; Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch; Ryan Gravel, the founder of the Atlanta BeltLine and consultant on Atlanta’s urban design plan; and Alison Hamil, who painted a pandemic mural for the city of Brookhaven.


Artists have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. In an industry that was already undervalued, artists are struggling now more than ever. But there is a silver lining – society is no longer able to ignore the socio-economic problems that are being exposed by the crisis. Considered “non-essential” workers, artists have to constantly fight to prove their relevance and benefit to society. Most artists struggle to meet their basic needs because of a lack of public arts funding and an underlying belief that art should be free. Study after study shows the massive economic value of the arts, but we’ve been making that argument for years and it’s gotten us nowhere. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate some of our basic assumptions about what makes a good life. Should economic growth and accumulation of wealth always be the end goal? What about fun, beauty, and enjoyment of the present moment? Artists have a knack for helping us experience all of those things. Let’s take this opportunity to shift our values and elevate artists to the level of respect and dignity they deserve. This is our chance to rebuild the industry in a way that will allow artists to flourish. Now is a great time for institutions to invest in public art, which can unite and uplift the community while also employing artists who may otherwise be out of work. Going forward, artists need opportunities to create and display their work without having to worry

about keeping a roof over their heads. Whether through the private or public sector, artists need continued support and a safety net to get through times like these. It is time for us to take care of each other, and to say goodbye to the myth of the starving artist once and for all.


A recent hot-take from the Twittersphere is that COVID-19 will turn the tide on a decades-long movement of re-urbanization. Some people suggest that our short-term need to be physically distanced from each other will remind us why we love low-density, car-oriented sprawl. I think that’s an overreaction, of course, but it speaks to at least one underlying truth. While urban living comes with many advantages, sometimes we just want some space. When the crisis of this pandemic is behind us, I don’t think it will change whether we want to live in cities, but I do hope it will change how we live in them. I’ve written before that I’m living my dream – that my Atlanta BeltLine thesis is slowly becoming real and I’m lucky to live and work on its route. The difficulty of getting people to not use it as much, and to physically distance themselves when they do, speaks volumes about the kinds of infrastructure we need to en-


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dure crises like this. The fact that it’s so congested, even during a global pandemic, illustrates a pent-up demand for a public realm that is designed for our increasingly crowded urban life. We need to finish the BeltLine, of course, but we also need more public spaces – more and wider sidewalks and massive new regional parks where we can really get away from each other. Cities need both active and passive open spaces. They serve different purposes. Large, expansive natural parks that are not filled with sports fields, playgrounds, splash pads and other highly programmed areas are just as important because they give us a chance to get away from other people – something that is really important in times like these. Every great city has great open spaces and oftentimes, they’re what we love and remember most about our experiences there. Think of Paris without the Tuileries or New York City without Central Park. We know intuitively that investing in an infrastructure of wide open spaces will come with significant costs – but also with multiple benefits. In addition to making us stronger and more resilient, those open spaces will also make our city the kind of place we want to live. The need to physically distance ourselves from each other is essential during COVID19, but it’s also just a good metric for designing the cities we love.




MAY 2020

Commentary | 11


We have never experienced anything like coronavirus as a society. Our synagogue, like religious institutions everywhere, is made up of individuals who are increasingly experiencing real angst and fear related to their jobs, their health and that of their loved ones, and feelings of isolation. In short, the “unknown” looms more distinctly than it has for us in living memory. I believe that, in some ways, our synagogue was built for times like these. If our mission is to bring light into a darkening world (hope and goodness), and provide an avenue for spiritual development with like-minded people, now is the time when these strengths are most poignant. Temple Emanu-El has always been “high touch,” as opposed to “high-tech.” One of our first challenges was how to do both. If we could not bring our people to their Judaism, we would have to find a way to bring Judaism to our peo-

ple, wherever they were. Clearly, our millennial Rabbis were invaluable in helping us make the vital changes, as well as to acclimate our congregants as fast as possible. Our in-person daily classes now were to be conducted and attended via Zoom. Our Friday night Shabbat services, now conducted in an empty sanctuary, were to be experienced via Facebook live. Our social interactions were now “face-to-face” from the safety of our own homes. Pastoral care, which I always think is best faceto-face, was now screen-to-screen. Not surprisingly, the numbers of congregants who attend through these new mediums has doubled, and in some cases, tripled. Ample time plus acute need has led to increased engagement. A saving grace has been the mobilization of groups of congregants who make daily calls to others in our congregation. This type of outreach ensures that no one falls through the cracks and we can be there to help them if they need food or medicine. As important, these daily

phone calls bring connection, even if it is with congregants whom they do not (yet) know. There is a Hebrew expression attributed to the prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir, as she led her country against enemies that pressed its borders: “Ayn Brayra,” which translates as, “There is no choice.” Religion (paired with science) is what will get us through this plague. It offers hope, connection, and the understanding that we are all part of the human experience, even if this is new to us. The hope is for better days, soon. The connection is with one another, and God. And the link to human experience allows us to see ourselves as something greater, and thus, far from alone.


As mayor, I have been incredibly proud of Dunwoody staff’s ability to transition rather seamlessly from a traditional office setting to a virtual scenario. The city continues to move forward and has actually been able to expedite some public works proj-

ects as a result of the reduction in vehicle traffic. I am impressed with the quality of work that continues to happen, permitting, inspections, park construction and more are signs that Dunwoody is open for business. As we continue to travel through this challenging time, I expect that the next step for Dunwoody, like many businesses, will be a hybrid of some work occurring in the office and some work continuing to be conducted virtually. We’ve learned to be flexible and creative, but we haven’t forgotten the importance of face-to-face communication. Our officers are on the streets. Our public works and parks teams are on-site. Our public meetings are more meaningful and productive when we can actually see and interact with the public. We can only do so much for so long virtually. That’s why I look forward to reopening City Hall when the time is right and in a way that’s safe for all. Because of this pandemic, things might look different. But our commitment to this community is unchanged.

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS WHEN CAN WE UNBUCKLE THE SEATBELTS? THE LAST 4-5 MONTHS WERE FULL OF TURMOIL IN FINANCIAL MARKETS. IS THIS UNUSUAL COMPARED TO OTHER MARKETS L&W HAS OBSERVED OVER 49 YEARS? In our 49-year history, we’ve seen a lot of markets that created financial uncertainty, which makes planning difficult. The “flavor” of each dish offered up by a market is always distinct, but the basic ingredients are the same. The key to a successful outcome in personal financial health is not unlike following a healthy diet – get sound ongoing advice from someone who has your best interest at heart. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “…YOUR BEST INTEREST AT HEART”? Linscomb & Williams has a long-tenured executive client who was recently and unexpectedly forced to retire early from the hospitality industry. We explained it this way: Ask someone, “What should I eat?” and you likely won’t get the same recommendation from your neighborhood butcher as from a Registered Dietician. Your butcher might recommend the pork spareribs that just arrived, knowing you’ll find that recommendation appealing. The dietician, on the other hand, insists on a balanced program that will achieve your ultimate health goal, though it includes items you might not like. WHERE’S THE CONNECTION TO FINANCIAL ADVICE DURING MARKET TURMOIL? Much of what passes for financial “advice” today is equivalent to the butcher selling you the pork spareribs. The pork spareribs are what he has on hand to sell; he thinks they will work OK for you and that you’ll be happy. He’s

Bill Kring, CFP®, and MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®, discuss the Fiduciary Standard and placing the client’s best interest first with Sam Tortorici, CEO & Director, Cadence Bank, N.A., and President, Cadence Bancorporation.

not that concerned whether it is the best option for your long-term health. The majority of financial advisors today still operate outside a pure fiduciary standard, and are under no legal obligation to put your best interest above their own. PRESUMABLY, L&W FOLLOWS A DIFFERENT APPROACH? At Linscomb & Williams, we are like that Registered Dietician. Following the fiduciary standard, we are obligated to put your interest ahead of our own. This is always important, but most especially, in times of market turmoil -times when it makes sense to get a second opinion from an experienced firm with no products to sell. We have an experienced team to deliver that second opinion right here, right now.

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12 | Commentary ■

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

In the pandemic era, locals plant ‘victory gardens’

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

Matthew Webster’s sons -- from left, Daniel, 7, Evan, 5, and Austin, 3 -- keep their eyes on the new family garden.

During World War I, patriotic Americans planted victory gardens. They were so popular during World War II that home, school and community gardens produced 40% of the nation’s fresh fruit and vegetables.


In the coronavirus pandemic, victory gardens are back -- and many residents of Dunwoody and Sandy Springs have planted one. Their reasons vary from worrying about job security and the stability of the nation’s food supply to having time on their hands and wanting to teach their children important values. Many are first-timers with small gardens consisting of neat rows of raised beds, containers of varying sizes, small spaces in flower beds and even a mobile garden. Others are more experienced gardeners using the quarantine to rediscover gardening. “I’m planting one to teach my kids and be less dependent on the grocery store supply chain, get some exercise, spend time outside and build something,” said Steven Simms of Mill Glenn, a consultant whose office is currently closed and whose job “may be at risk if the economy doesn’t recover soon.” Simms is growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in his three SPECIAL Blueberries in Lisa Stacholy’s garden. newly constructed raised beds.


Steven Simms considers his brand-new raised beds his family’s “insurance plan.”

“Fewer trips [to the grocery story] mean less chance of exposure to the virus,” he added. “Times like these remind me that the great convenience our freemarket economy provides can easily get disrupted, so providing some of our own food is an important part of our family ‘insurance’ plan.” Concern about a food shortage is motivating other more experienced gardeners. “I decided to plant a garden when we started hearing reports of food shortages,” said Dunwoodian Jennifer Carabacca, who has a small backyard garden. “I’ve had a garden on and off, but this year is bigger with more variety.” Cliff Gott, of Sandy Springs, has planted his entire garden in a 7-cubic-foot dump cart, which he is incorporating into his children’s homeschool curriculum. “My wife and I try to expose our kids to ‘life skills,’ and being able to garden is an important [one],” he said. “The COVID-19 quarantine just so happened to align with our plans for a spring garden.” One life skill he’s teaching is practicality because his wheeled garden solves the problems of too much shade and too many hungry deer. During the day, he moves the cart into the sun, and at night he moves it into the garage to prevent the deer from getting “a late-night snack.” Dunwoodian Matthew Webster also credits the pandemic for his garden. “I always liked having a veggie garden but hadn’t had time with three young

kids or a spot with enough sun close to the house -- until recently,” he said. “The whole pandemic thing provided me with both the time and the motivation to get going again. Also, I’m expecting inflation and possible shortages of quality produce.” He tries to involve his boys -- Daniel, 7, Evan, 5, and Austin, 3 -- as much as possible. “They help some, but it’s not always easy to keep them focused,” he said. Some people have victory gardens they started after other threatening events. “We’ve done a victory garden every year since 9/11,” said Lisa Stacholy, a Dunwoody-based architect, whose two children were very young at the time. “The enemy was clear and known, but the ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ was the PTSD type of event that we wanted to shield our young kids from,” she said. Despite the pandemic, gardeners are clearly happy people “Planting a garden is a great way to create lasting memories,” said Gott, the mobile gardener. But what if you live in an apartment? Try the Dunwoody Community Garden and Orchard, at Brook Run Park, where 4-by-8 plots cost $60 a year. Though all are currently taken, the wait list is wide open. The DCGO sells plants at its greenhouse daily 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and offers classes at “the barn,” currently on hold till the city reopens the park to group activities. Information is at

MAY 2020

Commentary | 13

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

Around Town

Catching up on catchball

It looks a lot like volleyball when it’s being played. cludes four teams and about 80 players, Gurvitch said, Two teams of six women each line up on either side and players say other teams have sprouted in nearof a net dividing a court laid out on a gym floor. The by communities. Most of the players are between age players send a brightly colored ball back and forth 30 and age 50, said Carissa Mindt, a 29-year-old staff above the net, continuing until the ball hits the floor member at the MJCCA who never played catchball, but and a point is scored. Players can spike the ball to the now coaches it. floor or block shots at the net. The new teams have attracted a variety of types The game differs from volleyball because these playof players. Debi Tzuberi first heard about the sport ers don’t hit the ball back and forth. Instead, they catch through her husband, who’s Israeli. “When I was in it and then throw it. That’s why this young sport is high school, I was athletic,” she said, “but I never cared called catchball. about volleyball. It’s hard to hit the ball. I gave [catchAnd it’s, um, catching on. At least it is in and around ball] a try and I thought, ‘This is really fun.’ … My first Dunwoody. season, they call me ‘Crash.’ I went through about three Catchball was devised in Israel sometime during the pairs of knee pads.” past decade, local players say. In fact, the game is so asDuring the last weekend of February, four catchball sociated with that country that a recent American nateams from the MJCCA traveled to Las Vegas to comtional tournament brought in a pair of Israeli refs just pete in the fifth annual USA Catchball Games. The to be sure everything was on the up and up. “It’s a big tournament drew teams from from California to St. thing in Israel…,” said 47-year-old Dunwoody player Louis to Washington, D.C., Gurvitch said. The Atlanta Yael Matana, who grew up in Israel but moved to the teams finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, U.S. before the catchball craze started. “It’s meant for Mindt said. women. Volleyball is harder [to play]. I love catchball They hope to do better next year. In the meantime, JOE EARLE and I hate volleyball.” they’ll keep trying to improve their skills – when the Rachel Gurvitch, center, attacks as Shiri Tzuk prepares to Like many of her Dunwoody teammates, Rachel MJCCA was closed recently to try to hinder the spread block the shot and Hagit Yehuai, Dana Zvi and Debi Tzuberi Gurvitch first heard about catchball from friends in Isof coronavirus, Mindt sent team members drills they prepare to enter the fray during a recent catchball practice rael or among the local Israeli community. Talk about could work on home. at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. the game started turning up on social media or in chats Gurvitch sees part of the appeal of the sport is that it with family and friends, she said. gives women something to do outside their homes and Gurvitch, who’s 44 and who teaches at Georgia State University, grew up in Israel but families. “In earlier years, when we were young mothers, we didn’t have time to think moved to the U.S. about a decade ago, before catchball got going. Once she heard Israeabout much more,” she said before a recent practice. “As kids grew up, we are a comli friends describe the game, though, she thought it would be a good sport for American munity, and it’s our time to switch back to [work on] ourselves. Catchball allows that, in women, too. She and some friends started organizing their own teams. that it can fit everyone. We don’t have to be a super-athlete to be on the team.” Gurvitch said they checked around with local churches, Ys and other places where And unlike other sports, the game is easy to learn, she said. Sports such as basketball volleyball was played regularly, and ended up at the Marcus Jewish Community Center or softball or even volleyball can be hard to learn and new players can find it’s difficult of Atlanta after pointing out to leaders there that the game offered a new sport for womto make older bodies perform properly on the court or field. en that they could add to the center’s activity schedule. Gurvitch said there’s really only one skill required to start playing catchball: “You That was about three years ago. The program has grown steadily since and now inhave to be able to catch the ball.”


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14 | Community ■


Atlanta History Center asks residents to save, donate materials about historic pandemic BY JOHN RUCH

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The coronavirus pandemic is a disaster that will be long remembered — and the Atlanta History Center is asking area residents, business owners and others to start preserving items now for posterity’s historical record. In a new initiative called the “Corona Collective,” the Buckhead-based museum is seeking stories and materials of various types that preserve experiences of this desperate and challenging time. That includes physical items, though the History Center will not accept them during social distancing measures. “Contemporary collecting is basically predicting the future, and someone in the future I’m sure will wish we had thought of something to save right now,” said Sheffield Hale, the History Center’s president and CEO,’ in a written statement. “A great example are artifacts from the Spanish Flu pandemic in Atlanta [in 1918-1919]; there were similar restrictions then, but few artifacts representing that.” The initiative launched April 7, and within two weeks had received materials from more than 100 people, ranging from personal essays to photo collections to videos. Paul Crater, vice president of collections and research services at the museum, said donated items include a 26-year-old woman’s account of how she nearly died of COVID-19 and a Google Docs file describing ways to help shuttered restaurants and their employees. Then there are more whimsical artifacts. “We received a short documentary about this band who played social distancing shows in Ormewood Park before the stay-at-home order, and they’re being tugged around in boat by a truck and they’re playing to people while people are sitting on their porches, and it’s really fun,” he said. On the History Center’s website, Collections Manager Erica Hague gave an overview of the effort. “We are living through historic times—times that we need your help to document,” she wrote. “At Atlanta History Center, it is our mission to preserve and interpret the history of the greater Atlanta area for future generations—and we’re reach-

MAY 2020

Community | 15


Opposite, bike messenger Chad Pack and a companion pose in masks downtown. Above, a sign promotes social distancing on the Atlanta BeltLine.

Right top, a “quarantine” sign on a truck at a J.B. Hunt trucking facility in Lithia Springs. Right, chalked messages on the steps of the North High Ridge Apartments on North Avenue.

ing out to you for help. “… Though you may not realize it, you’re already documenting this time of constant change. You create the historic record when you take a photo of something that makes you feel more connected while self-isolating. Maybe you’ve seen a sign, received an email, or in some other way have connected with the rapidly changing world in the wake of [the] coronavirus. Perhaps it was the empty toilet paper aisle at Kroger, a furlough notice, the cancellation of a planned trip, emails from your child’s school, or a note to an at-risk loved one. Maybe it’s the receipt for a donation you made to support a local small business or essential employee.” Hale noted that commonplace items can be valuable now, because they are often lost in the long run, not preserved because they were seen as not special at the time. “That which is most common shall be least common,” he said, citing a common phrase in the History Center’s Civil

War collecting. Crater said that similar efforts from the DeKalb History Center and the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were among the inspirations for the “Corona Collective.” A particular model for gathering history as it happened, he said, was a similar program by the Missouri History Center during the 2014 Ferguson police-shooting protests. Choosing which items to preserve in the museum’s collection -- and even how to preserve such items as that Google Docs file with its hundreds of hyperlinks -- are among the challenges of the effort, Crater said. “But I’ve always had this aspiration to do something like this and to be nimble like this,” he added, and the opportunities are big, too. One goal is to use the material as starting points to solicit donations of physical items and oral histories when it is safe to do so. Another possibility: pop-up ex-

hibits highlighting some of the neighborhood-oriented artifacts and inviting residents of those areas who might never have visited the museum before. The museum chose to seize the moment and collect history in action that affects everyone, Crater said, and the submissions so far show a “sense of civic involvement and humanity that is really compelling to me.” The History Center will consider materials from residents of cities in the immediate metro Atlanta area, including Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. Residents of other areas will be directed to local historical societies elsewhere, said spokesperson Howard Pousner. The museum’s staff is taking photos in the neighborhoods as part of the collection as well, with many of the images available on the website at The website includes

details about what types of materials will be accepted, copyright and other usage rights, and other information about the “Corona Collective.”


The following organizations also are seeking pandemic items and memories from metro Atlantans. DeKalb History Center “The COVID-19 Chronicles” Heritage Sandy Springs “COVID-19 Community Journal Project” Georgia Historical Society “COVID-19 in Georgia”


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Community | 17

City braces for pandemic budget hits

Serving Sandy Springs for over 25 years

Continued from page 1 known, the council will be presented with formal proposals to vote on.

known, he said.


Vinicki projected a massive decrease in hotel/motel tax revenues. In contrast with the roughly $800,000 officials expected to collect throughout the year before the pandemic, projections now show the city might collect less than $200,000 -- a 75% difference -- due to the pandemic’s hard hit to the hospitality industry. However, the city has $1.1 million in the hotel/motel tax money account from previous years, so some work may continue, Vinicki said. Projects funded with the money include an Ashford-Dunwoody Road commuter trail and outdoor lighting for Peachtree Charter Middle School.

SPLOST funds are restricted to spending on public safety, transportation and “limited general repairs,” according to Vinicki’s presentation. The fiscal year 2020 budget projected SPLOST revenues at $6.8 million. Vinicki said he is preparing for a hypothetical 25% reduction in new revenues, meaning the city could be forced to cut $1.7 million in SPLOST spending. However, he said that $1.15 million could be comfortably pulled from a planned improvement project at the intersection of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and Spalding Drive. Vinicki said that project likely would be delayed anyway -- along with much of its expenditures -- because it involves utility relocations. Utility providers have cut down on crew sizes due to the pandemic, according to Public Works Director Michael Smith. Vinicki also tentatively proposed several more minor cuts to SPLOST projects including the Winters Chapel multiuse trail, road resurfacing and others. Several residents during the meeting’s public comment portion expressed the hope that council members use caution until a clearer accounting of SPLOST revenues can be made. Vinicki said the 25% decrease in sales tax revenue is based on assumptions about pandemic-era losses and an increase later in the year. Actual DeKalb County sales tax revenue figures for March were not yet

Hotel/motel tax funds


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General spending While the budget impacts remain unclear, Vinicki’s presentation said, city staff have already cut $849,000, or 3.3% of planned spending. That includes $200,000 from parks; $123,000 from Public Works projects; $91,000 from the police department for travel, training and other items; $100,000 in budget contingency; elimination of a $56,000 payment into the City Hall sinking fund; $42,000 by eliminating a print edition of the “Dunwoody Digest” promotional magazine; and $278,000 in other departments. However, Vinicki’s presentation said, the pandemic forced the city to increase some spending as well, including in public safety and information technology. — John Ruch contributed

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City may organize graduation, other events to celebrate seniors in pandemic shutdowns BY RYAN KOLAKOWSKI The city may organize a graduation ceremony and other celebratory events for high-school seniors whose year is ending remotely in pandemic school closures. But health concerns and the DeKalb County School District’s own plans mean that nothing has been decided yet and public suggestions are welcome. City Councilmember Tom Lambert, who is spearheading the effort to honor the class of 2020, says his early ideas include a graduation ceremony, final concerts for band and orchestra students,


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ic senior nights. Brook Run Park could be a venue, and the events could honor students from Dunwoody and Chamblee high schools as well such private institu-


City Councilmember Tom Lambert.

“We’re not married to any idea at this point,” said Lambert in a phone interview. “We want the community to know, and especially the seniors to know, that we’re thinking about them and we’re going to find a way to do something for them.” Lisa Beiger, co-president of the Dunwoody High School Parent-Teacher-Student Organization, said the school is working on innovative celebration ideas, too. “We truly appreciate the city of Dunwoody reaching out to us and offering city resources/facilities to help support our plans,” Beiger said. “We are taking this into consideration as we collaborate with our school’s administration. At this time, it is premature to speculate on what we can safely sponsor.” DeKalb’s public schools have been closed since March 16, working by remote learning. On April 14, DeKalb County Schools announced an early end to the school year and a postponement of graduation ceremony dates. For seniors, the school year will end May 8. Graduation ceremonies were pushed

Education | 19

MAY 2020 ■ back from the week of May 18 to the week of June 22. Still to be determined is what those ceremonies will be. DeKalb County Schools said the options include an entire virtual event or a hybrid with only seniors and staff members meeting in per-


son with families and others watching online. A decision is expected by early May. The city is looking to cooperate, not compete, with DeKalb County Schools, Lambert said. “We’re still kind of in a little bit of a holding pattern, trying to wait and see exact-

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ly what the school system is going to do,” Lambert said. “But we’re going to start to work on some things with the parents and see what we can come up with.” Lambert said he was thinking of the graduation ceremony issue at the time of

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Events could be held at such city facilities as Brook Run Park, Lambert said. The park’s ongoing $7.8 million renovation project will add two new multi-purpose athletic fields, a great lawn and a 500-seat amphitheater. Brent Walker, the city’s parks and recreation director, said the pandemic has had little impact on the renovations, which remain on track for completion by May 1. “With construction being an essential business, we’ve been able to stay on track,” Walker said. “The rain through the winter was a bigger issue as far as construction

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p 34

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Lambert said he was drawn to the cause because his son graduated in 2019.

e r. c o m


“I’m less than a year removed from going through all these events with my own son and experiencing them,” Lambert said. “Let’s be honest, they’re great events for

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the students, but they’re also great events for their parents as well, for their families and friends.” Lambert said he welcomes idea from the public about how to celebrate the graduation seniors. He can be contacted at Delfex Constru Premium Qualit


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

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

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


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month to consider sioners is expected next plan designed to countywide transit master bus service and deimprove current rail and COMMENTAR new transit over the Y termine where to build next 30 years. commisAs part of that consideration,if they beto decide sioners will also have enough to vote for lieve voters are motivated pay for the proposed a sales tax increase to P10 include light rail, bus improvements, which rapid transit in rapid transit and arterial The proposed north and south DeKalb. full-penny DeKalb Atlanta Regional DeKalb County, the County transit worked with lomaster plan Commission and MARTA gathered public input scenario would cal municipalities and proposed transit masinclude four light over the past year on a goals: address the rapid transit routes; ter plan with three broad routes foster economfour bus rapid transit county’s mobility challenges, quality of life. end of I-285; P44 including along the top ic development and improve toured transit routes. These with VHB recently and eight arterial rapid Consultants ROBIN’S NEST 180 project miles. June made presentaexpansions would cover DeKalb cities and in The dirt path conceptual transit on Buford tions on proposed and that is the Highway in Brookhaven and Dunsubject of front of the master plans to the a dispute about DYANA BAGBY Orchard at Both presentations a new sidewa Brookh woody City Councils. lk and landsca aven a 1 cent sales tax pe strip. spotlighted two scenarios: raise $3.65 billion over increase that would halfa and projects, 30 years and fund 16 raise $1.85 billion penny increase that would P11 15 projects. over 30 years and fund tax requires a vote. Increasing the sales percent. 8 is tax member a sales Springs, DeKalb’s current Kevin Abel of Sandy is a major decin Board which Going to a referendum BY DYANA BAGBY of the State Transportatio project manager, Department of Transsion, Grady Smith, VHB Check out our oversees the Georgia AND EVELYN ANDREWS council at its June 10 took those officials to told the Brookhaven at ReporterNews podcasts portation, however, Dunwoody and hearing DeKalb leadthe toll lanes Elected officials in meeting. He said he is task and said he supports out against the time to consider the and Ga. 400 because ership is wanting more Doraville are speaking ects planned on I-285 input from the cittoll lanes and have BY DYAN bus rapid transit to proposals and is seeking planned I-285 “top end” A BAGBY they promise to bring The Brook the estimated $5 dyanabagby@r signed a petition opposing See DEKALB on page 30haven Reporter the area. eporternewspape to begin construcen has some 31 billion project expected isMAY mail deliver residents See DUNWOODY on page 2019 ed • VOL. 13 —Emory NO. 5Univer living in by neighb tion in 2023. nearhomes on selecteto orhood sity’s propos through traffic s worried about a $1 billion cutcarrier routes d “health innova al to build and more in such roads over the next congestion tion distric on ZIP 30319 as Sherid t” 15 years on an, Briarcl approximatel North Druid 60 acres of iff and Executive Hills. For informa Park in Brookh y Emory officia delivery@rep avorternewspape tion: ls say they ing to allevia are workte those ► concerns by con-

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

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


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


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

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


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

potentially influential, series of meetings and surveys that aims to have reform recommendations for the 45-year-old system on the table by March 2020.

“There are things about [the NPU system] that are amazing, and things that we need to have a lot more conversation about,” said CCI Executive Director Rohit See AFTER on page 14


The wooden stock is beige and battered with age. The metal plate above the trigger is decorated with a pair of birds. The barrel is long, heavy and octagonal. It’s an old muzzleloading firearm, for sure. It might even be the one that killed the deer that gave Buckhead its curious name in 1838.

John Beach, president of the Buckhead Heritage Society, is still trying to figure that For more on out, partly by tracking John Beach, see the tales surrounding Around Town, page 20. another little-known piece of area history – an 1842 log cabin that quietly survived destruction by being moved to a Buckhead back yard. In the meantime, Beach gave the Reporter an exclusive closeSee IS on page 22

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


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

Two groups launch to support, oppose north end concepts

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United Methodists struggle with church’s LGBTQ decision P18

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

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


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