JUNE - Sandy Springs Reporter

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JUNE 2019 • VOL. 13 — NO. 6

Sandy Springs Reporter EDUCATION

Presenting our local high school valedictorians and salutatorians


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“It just didn’t work out this year,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. “We’ll come back to this. I think there’s a lot of benefit in using the private sector.” The city launched in 2005 using the public-private partnership model, with leaders saying it allowed them to quickly begin city operations and, due to its competitive nature, would be more efficient and economical and prevent corruption. Sandy Springs

The City Council approved a last-minute change to its controversial security alarm verification requirement as confusion continues in the community about the proposal. Alarm companies or residents will be required to provide verification to 911 starting June 19. But instead of providing evidence before officers will be dispatched, it will only be required within 24 hours. The city changed its alarm ordinance in 2017 to shift fines to alarm companies. Requiring alarm verification was added in June 2018 and requires alarm companies provide direct confirmation that a burglar alarm call is a real crime – with audio or video devices or in person. Verification is only required when the building is unoccupied and is not needed for 911 calls, medical, panic and fire alarms. But the requirement is still causing confusion and concern among the community. “I think it really is an overreach,” resident Marilyn Arkin said. “It was so unnecessary.” The ordinance amendment was passed unanimously with little discussion at the City Council’s May 21 meeting. But Joe

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2019 •

From left, Tom Vanvenhoudt, Omar Maslamani and Abbey Kampel talk at the sculpture “Optimistical” by Nathan Pierce at the May 24 unveiling held at City Springs. Photos on Page 21 ►


Questions remain about the future of city services BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs City Council quickly voted May 14 to bring city services in-house rather than continue its landmark use of a publicprivate partnership. The city says that reversal will be revisited in one year, but questions remain about how city staff members would return to private companies.


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2 | Community


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Community Briefs Shaun Albrechtson has been named the new executive director of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs. Albrechtson has over 20 years of experience in venue management and currently works in programming at a city-owned cultural arts center in Colorado. He will fill a position previously known as the general manager. Michael Enoch resigned from that general manager job in late 2018, three months after the PAC’s grand opening. “I look forward to working with the staff and the community to establish highly diverse seasons of theater, music, art, education, and many other artistic disciplines within the Performing Arts Center,” Albrechtson said in the release. Albrechtson will start in the position, which was formerly called general manager, July 15 at a salary of $115,000, a city press release announced. He has served since 2011 as assistant cultural director for programming for the PACE Center, a cultural arts center owned by the city of Parker, Colorado. Albrechtson was instrumental the opening of the venue, which includes a 540-seat theatre, event rooms, a 3,000-seat amphitheater and classrooms, the release said. The PAC’s Byers Theatre at Sandy Springs’ new civic center is 1,100 seats. “Shaun brings to the city a well-established career in the arts and venue management, successfully developing and implementing business plans and diverse programming to meet the needs of the communities in which he’s served,” City Manager John McDonough said in the release.

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The developer behind the Sandy Springs Antico Pizza Napoletana location says construction is planned to begin mid-June with the hope of opening in late 2019. “We’ll know more once they get started,” Gerard Gunthert of Sandy Springs-based Cornerpoint Partners said about the opening date. The new location of the popular Atlanta-based restaurant chain would replace 4 Seasons Pottery at Hammond Drive and Boylston Drive. The business has started moving out and relocated to Woodstock. The plan to build the restaurant was announced in 2018. The developer received approval from the city later that year.



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A proposal has been filed to develop the long-vacant Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range into a self-storage facility. The gun club closed in late 2016 after an accidental fire and has since been vacant. The self-storage facility would be three stories and around 100,000 square feet, a city document said. The building is located on a 1.1-acre site at 8040 Roswell Road on the city’s north end. The city is currently looking into ways to inspire redevelopment in that area. The developer is seeking a conditional use permit to build the self-storage facility.

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Community | 3



Sandy Springs now owns 15 properties on Hammond Drive after purchasing three more for a possible widening project. The city has held meetings with the neighborhood as it prepares to release a design later this year. The City Council unanimously approved the purchases at its May 7 meeting. The city has purchased 15 houses on Hammond between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive to land-bank in anticipation of the project, which is the study phase. That study is expected to be finished this summer. The council approved purchasing the houses at 610 Hammond Drive for $750,000; 524 Hammond Drive for $535,000; and 6039 Harleston Road for $450,000. Four of the houses the city previously purchased are being used as affordable housing police officers or firefighters and two of the new ones are candidates, said Allen Johnson, the manager of projects funded by the special transportation tax. A study that began in mid-2018 and will determine if the widening is needed is expected to finish in July, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said. An initial concept is expected in late summer or early fall, with a final design coming next year, Kraun said. Bob Lepping, the president of the Glenridge Hammond Neighborhood Association, said the city held a private meeting with the neighborhood in February where they provided a “wish list” for the design, which included sidewalks, lighting and beautification. He said the neighborhood is thankful for the collaboration with the city and is optimistic about the upcoming design, which will be previewed to them.






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The Sandy Springs Lantern Parade will return June 15 for its fourth year with a new “flying pig” lantern, a nod to a legendary political story that an opponent to Sandy Springs’ formation once said the city would exist only “when pigs fly.” Lantern-making workshops, costing $30, will be held in the weeks leading up to the event, which will be held at the city’s Morgan Falls Overlook Park at 7:30 p.m. The free parade starts at 9 p.m. at Steel Canyon Golf Club, 460 Morgan Falls Road. The flying pig is named Sanderson and will lead this year’s parade along with a group of residents walking with additional flying pig lanterns, a press release said.



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4 | Community

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City proposes $116M budget BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

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The city has proposed a $116.3 million budget for fiscal year 2020. That’s up from $110.4 million for the current budget. The City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on the budget on June 18. The final approved version will take effect July 1. The budget projects revenues of about $98.4 million, with money from a reserve fund balancing the expenditures. About $20.7 million would be left in the reserve fund, City Manager John McDonough said at a May 21 special called meeting where the budget was presented. The revenue projection is about 2.5 percent higher than fiscal year 2019, mostly from expected increases in property tax revenue. The budget for fiscal year 2019 was $110.4 million with reserves at $20.5 million. After requests by the police and fire chiefs, both departments are proposed to get a salary increase for recruitment and retention. The police would get a 4 percent increase, costing over $400,000, and the fire department would get 5 percent, costing $175,000. The police department’s budget would rise from $22.9 million in fiscal year 2019 to $23.8 million. The fire department’s would rise from $15 million to $15.6 million.


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In other public safety expenditures, $700,000 would fund the addition of preemption devices to traffic signals, which allow emergency vehicles to get through intersections quicker. A proposed $4 million would go toward replacing Fire Station 2, which is located on Johnson Ferry Road. Several of the city department’s budgets are decreasing due to savings by hiring employees in-house rather than through outsourced contracts, as was famously done since the city’s founding. Some of those savings are being used to fund the public safety pay increases, McDonough said. The budget also include some funding to go toward special projects. $2.5 million to fund the design and partial construction of the Cultural Center, a proposed building that would have gallery space and hold various local groups like Visit Sandy Springs, the city’s tourism department, and the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce. The city is proposing $1.5 million for the “North End Revitalization,” which was the subject of a city-created task force last year. The report from that task force is controversial and proposes a multi-use trail, a community center and a “catalyst” project to spur redevelopment. The budget subsidizes the Performing Arts Center at City Springs with $2.7 million. McDonough said in an earlier budget meeting that the city “will work on getting that down” over the next year. The budget also includes $1.25 million to fund operations at City Springs. Last year’s budget allocated $5.2 million toward the Performing Arts Center. Concern continued among city officials that a special transportation tax approved by voters in 2016 won’t raise enough money to fund all the projects that were proposed. The TSPLOST, which boosted Fulton County sales tax to 7.75 percent, took effect in 2017 and was expected to raise more than $100 million for Sandy Springs projects over the tax’s fiveyear lifespan. County officials have said a study that was the origin of the projection was faulty. Mayor Rusty Paul said city oficials now expect, based on the rate revenues are being collected so far, to only be able to fund the first tier of projects. That tier includes $83 million in funding for many traffic improvements on several city roads along with a possible Hammond Drive widening and a Johnson Ferry Road multiuse path. “It was just way over optimistic about the amount that could be collected,” Paul said of the estimate. The second tier includes over $15 million in funding trails along Ga. 400 and a multiuse path on Roberts Drive. Tier 3 includes $15 million for road maintenance and paving. City trail construction is still proposed to receive $750,000 through the regular budget. And Sandy Springs already approved an agreement with Atlanta in April to fund the design and construction to extend PATH400 from Buckhead to Johnson Ferry Road. SS

Education | 5

JUNE 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Kingsley Elementary becomes first STEAM school in Dunwoody BY EVELYN ANDREWS

“It takes a village. The parents have to buy in, the teachers have to buy in,” Pearch said. “You can’t shove it down teachers’ Kingsley Elementary has become the throats.” first STEAM certified school in Dunwoody. The PTO also provided support, paying The certification shows the school is dedifor new signage and helped do classroom cated to teaching about science, technoloart and music room upgrades to meet stangy, engineering, arts and math and allowing dards, Stephenie Gordon, the organization students to do hands-on president, said. projects. “Our entire school Most other schools has been working tirein state are certified for lessly to make this posSTEM, which does not sible and we are very include art. proud!” Gordon said. “We wanted to do The district paid the something unique,” certification costs reteacher Romilia Human quired by AdvancED, said about deciding to Pearch said. DeKalb go the extra step to add Schools said an open art certification. records request would Getting the STEAM have to be submitted to At St. Martin’s, we celebrate the certification is simiobtain how much the journey of growing up – from lar process to achievdistrict paid. the formative preschool years ing STEM, but “definiteMeghan Frick, a to graduating young adults. ly more work” because Georgia Department of the school has to show Congratulations Class of 2019 Education spokespercommitment to arts proon your outstanding high school son, said its certification grams as well, Human is free for schools. The acceptances! said. The school does process requires similar frequent plays, musical 3110-A Ashford Dunwoody Rd. SPECIAL steps of evaluations and Brookhaven, GA 30319 Kingsley Elementary Vice Principal requiring evidence from performances and art 404.237.4260 Tyra Harris-Thompson holds the shows that helped them schools it meets the cristmartinschool.org school’s new STEAM signage. achieve the certification, teria. she said. “It’s a total shift in the way kids learn,” Human said. “It creates a sense of community and of being proud for obtaining this certification.” Students have done projects on ocean pollution, creating a clean-up machine, and earthquakes, which involved creating a seismograph and a structure to withstand shakes. The projects are meant to connect to the “real world” and delve into problems, Human said. “The kids enjoy it because it’s hands on,” Human said. Kingsley received the certification through AdvancED, an accreditation agency, which charges a fee. But the Georgia Department of Education also provides a different certification for free. The STEAM certification does not provide new curriculum or any tangible benefits, but shows that the programs are important to the school, Kinglsey Principal Leah Moradi Isaac Kaufman Avery Friedman Jack Anderson Melanie Pearch said. Jackson Nozick Justin Kornblum Gavin Friedman Reese Baker Kingsley achieved the certification Caleb Ouanounou Eran Krug Zachary Friedman Miriam Barkan May 8, according to a district press release. Caitlyn Pinsker Jonathan Kuttner Matan Gal Kelli Berenthal DeKalb Schools Superintendent R. SteJenna Prass Jamie Leaf Ori Gal Ella Berman phen Green said the certification shows the Josh Retter Benjamin Lefkovits Emily George Mollie Binderman “world that our students are tomorrow’s Noah Rosenberg Asher Leish Jack Godwin Hannah Brown tech gurus, CIOs, and cybersecurity exJacob Rubin Maya Lewis Reid Goldstein Jamie Cohen perts.” Elli Russotto Caleb Mahle Aiden Golub Leah Cohen “The dedication, passion, and determinaEva Serotta Emily Mand Rian Gordon Jackson Crim tion shown by teachers and staff in completDawson Sherman Jaclyn Marx Jack Janko Maggie Deutsch ing such an effort deserves commendation Mick Shrubstok Maya Mekyten Katie Janko Megan Dollinger from both the district and the community Megan Sparks Ava Moradi Seth Kaminsky Samuel Effron at large,” Green said in a press release about the certification. “We’re providing the 21stcentury skills needed to make a difference.” Certification is long process with creating websites, showing evidence of meeting standards and school visits from accredi8105 Roberts Drive, Atlanta, GA 30350 | 770-671-0085 | davisacademy.org tors. evelyn@reporternewspapers.net





Congratulations Davis Academy Class of 2019! Jake Sucan Madeline Swartz Connor Swislow Kiera Swislow Carly Tauber Sarah Terapane Lia Toporek Gavin Ulin Carson Wolff Justin Wolfson

6 | Education

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2019 Valedictorians & Salutatorians High school graduations returned in May and families gathered to clap and cheer as local high schools conferred hard-earned diplomas and special honors on hundreds of new graduates. Here are the valedictorians and salutatorians for the Class of 2019 at high schools in Brookhaven, Buckhead, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. The schools provided the students’ names and photographs. Note: The Atlanta International School did not select its valedictorian and salutatorian in time to be included this report.




Medad Lytton Valedictorian

Mary Elizabeth Marquardt Valedictorian

Ruiyang Zhao Valedictorian

Zoe Sokol Salutatorian



Eshaan Agrawal Valedictorian

Sherwin Shirazi Valedictorian

Debajyoti Das Salutatorian

Madeline Tapp Valedictorian

Lee-San Sun Salutatorian

Deanna Lin Valedictorian

Caroline ShewmakeSalutatorian

Emma Forrestal Valedictorian THE LOVETT SCHOOL

Dylan Shapiro Valedictorian

James Harrison Salutatorian

Amanda Perdomo Salutatorian




Tianya Zhan Salutatorian

Colin Cassell Salutatorian

Mikayla Brown Co-valedictorian MARIST SCHOOL

Isabella Hay Valedictorian

Natalie Selover Salutatorian

Watson Casal Co-valedictorian

Education | 7

JUNE 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


Mark Grove Valedictorian

Hannah Hagenau Salutatorian


George Gfroerer Valedictorian

Abigail Lund Salutatorian

Michelle Stanek Valedictorian


Ruth Stolovitz Valedictorian


Lindsey Nicholas Valedictorian



Jacob Sloman Valedictorian

Thomas Contis Salutatorian

Katie Thompson Salutatorian

Julie Mittelstedt Salutatorian


Ellie Glenn Valedictorian

Ansley Boykin Salutatorian


Sydney Rein Salutatorian

Jessica Lao Valedictorian

Dylan Vroon Valedictorian

Naima Turbes Salutatorian

Alex Greene Salutatorian

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8 | Education

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DeKalb County School District Superintendent R. Stephen Green will resign from his position when his contract expires in 2020, the district announced May 24. The search for a new superintendent will begin in June. Green told the Board of Education last week that he would not seek a contract extension, “attributing his departure to personal reasons after thoughtful consideration with his family,” a press release said. He has served in the role since 2015, and during

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that time oversaw redistricting and the construction of new schools in Dunwoody and Brookhaven. His last day will be June 30, 2020, according to the release. Green has faced tough questions from Dunwoody and Brookhaven parents about overcrowding, the use of trailers and poor conditions at some schools. The district also decided on a controversial location for the new Cross Keys High that the city of Brookhaven tried to reverse.


Four students at North Springs and Riverwood International charter high schools have received $2,500 scholarships from the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s Donna Mahaffey Scholarship Fund. The scholarships were awarded April 30 to two seniors at Riverwood, Celia SorianoCadenas and Katherine Hernandez, and two at North Springs, Stephanie Bullock and Destiny Adams. The Donna Mahaffey Scholarship Fund was established in 2015 by the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber board to provide financial support to local female high school graduates attending college. The scholarships were presented by Mercedes-Benz USA at its headquarters in Sandy Springs.


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The DeKalb County School District broke ground on the new Cross Keys North Elementary in Doraville on May 21. The school is intended to relieve overcrowding in the Cross Keys cluster of schools, which serves Brookhaven. The 900-seat school at 3630 Shallowford Road is expected to open in 2020. The site was formerly the Shallowford Gardens apartment complex. The district paid $8.2 million in 2017 to buy the complex and demolish it, drawing criticism from the founder of Los Vecinos de Buford Highway, an organization supporting residents living along the corridor. DeKalb Schools has said Cross Keys North Elementary is needed to alleviate overcrowding at the elementary schools in the cluster. The new elementary school is expected to primarily address overcrowding at Dresden Elementary in Chamblee and Cary Reynolds Elementary in Doraville, which both have needed to use “portable classrooms,” or trailers, to have room for all the students.

JUNE 2019


City replaces court solicitor, plans to create diversion program BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs has replaced its longtime court solicitor and plans to make changes to the Municipal Court, including prosecuting DUIs there and creating a diversion program for people with substance abuse or mental health issues. The City Council voted unanimously at its May 7 meeting to confirm Mayor Rusty Paul’s appointment of attorney Leslie Donaho as the new solicitor, who represents the city in cases. Donaho and a three-person team will begin their term on June 1. The current solicitor, Bill Riley, has served in that position since the city’s incorporation. City Attorney Dan Lee said the Riley is being replaced only because Donaho SPECIAL had the best response to a request Leslie Donaho was appointed as for proposals for solicitor services. the new city solicitor. Riley’s firm Riley McLendon was one of the five qualified bids, Lee said. The annual contract for Donaho’s team costs $304,000. That includes one full-time and two part-time solicitors. Changes Donaho has been tasked with making are expected to save the city $197,500, according to a presentation. “The competitive bid process provided the city with the opportunity to take a close look at current operations and identify opportunities to enhance services and efficiencies,” Lee said in a press release announcing the changes. “In addition to general court services, the Court Solicitor will also oversee enhancements in service.” Those changes include the Municipal Court beginning to prosecute DUIs instead of sending them to the county. About 190 DUI cases were transferred to Fulton County over the last year, causing a loss of revenue of about $105,000 and requiring the city to pay overtime to officers who have to travel to Atlanta for the hearings. The city also wants to begin a diversion program for people with mental health or substance abuse problems. Incarcerating them does not help the cause of their crimes and is costly, Lee said. The diversion program would send eligible defendants to treatment rather than to jail. “Not only is the right thing to do, but it will save money,” Lee said during the meeting. All of the attorney’s on Donaho’s team said they had previous experience setting up similar accountability courts in other counties. One attorney on Donaho’s team is bilingual, which will address issues with communicating with the 20 percent of defendants and witnesses who speak Spanish, Lee said. The solicitor will also now directly handle the discovery process, where each side reviews the other’s evidence, and appeals to court cases. The changes were suggested by a group that reviewed the Municipal Court’s operations. Police Capt. Jim Fraker, Municipal Court Administrator Cheston Roney, Chief Deputy Court Clerk Brandy Brooks, Finance Director Karen Ellis and Purchasing Manager Charise Glass served on the group. The team was chosen because they have they most interaction with the Municipal Court and were tasked with establishing for standards for the selection of the solicitor during the request for proposals process. Riley, the former city solicitor, represented Sandy Springs in the 2018 case against a Muslim defendant that accused a city judge of making discriminatory comments. That judge, Sharon Dickson, formerly worked at Riley’s firm until 2014 and left her Sandy Springs judgeship after the controversy.


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Community | 9

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Mazel tov to the Class of 2015! We wish you the best of luck in college and beyond.

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10 | Commentary

Reporter Newspapers

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

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Local librarians recommend summer reading books Summer’s here and the time is right for reading on the beach. But, what to read? To find out, we checked in with our local book experts, the librarians in our communities.

Elizabeth Meszaros-Bardoczi Dunwoody Branch Library Educated by Tara Westover

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

death, Hernando continued his father’s vision and he wants to build a library that would collect everything that was ever printed, a library of universal knowledge held all in one place. The book contains a lot of interesting information about Hernando’s quest and his life; booklovers will enjoy the insights and perspectives of the 16th century information revolution.

ing for beauty are really worth it.

Kate Whitman Atlanta History Center Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

Madigan Mirza Sandy Springs Branch Library The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi Lush, beautiful prose makes this Indian retelling of the Persephone tale a treat.

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2018 © 2019 with all rights reserved Publisher reserves the right to refuse editorial or advertising for any reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC.

This biography shows how one woman, Tara Westover, who comes from a humble background, decides to educate herself in order to leave her home in Idaho and to become the person she is today. She becomes a student of prestigious universities, dedicates herself to education and transforms her life. This inspiring story teaches us that no matter how bad or insignificant one’s circumstances can be, we can overcome them by educating ourselves, not giving up, and keep going forward. Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews We are all ready for a summer vacation to the beach and sunshine. The book’s setting takes place in Belle Isle, North Carolina, and the story focuses on Riley Griggs, who gets more than she expects on her vacation, and not always happy memories. This novel has surprises and secrets, and the mystery deepens as you read on. The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library by Edward Wilson-Lee This non-fiction book tells the story of Hernando Colon, the son of Christopher Columbus, who has traveled with his father on his final voyage to the New World. The journey ended in disaster and shipwreck. After his father’s

After Maya’s father, the Raja of Bharata, makes a politically convenient arranged marriage for her, she runs away with her new husband Amar to the land of Akaran. She soon realizes that being Akaran’s queen is no easy task, as it is a magical realm where fates of the living are decided and uneasy dead souls are put to rest. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham I just read this with one of our book clubs. Everyone loved it! It’s a fastpaced, noir thriller with a hypermasculine hero. Sebastian Rudd is a hard-drinking, rebellious lawyer who attempts to stay on the right side of the law... sort of. Mostly. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton Camellia Beauregard is a beautiful young woman in a decadent French-inspired court who has the magical ability to transform courtiers from gray and boring into dazzling beauties. There’s a slow build that all is not what it seems (of course!) leaving our protagonist to wonder if all the sacrifices she’s mak-

Cep masterfully interweaves the true crime story of the Reverend Willie Maxwell, who was accused but never convicted of murdering five family members for insurance money; the trial of the man who murdered Maxell, bringing his crime spree to an end; and of Harper Lee’s fascination with the case. A riveting nonfiction that offers an intimate portrait of the great author and will leave readers feeling the loss that a true crime book from Lee never saw the light of day. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead Whitehead, author of “The Underground Railroad,” has done it again with a devastating novel inspired by the real-life horrific events at Florida’s Dozier School for Boys. The book introduces us to Elwood Curtis, ready to enroll in a black college when a simple mistake lands him in a juvenile reformatory, the Nickel Academy. What follows is a hard look at the harsh realities of the Jim Crow South and the heartbreaking impact it has on the main characters in the story. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo This dazzling debut tells the story of the four adult daughters of Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson in 2016, a year of tumult and unrest for each of them that plays out over the course of the novel. While a 550-page book does not immediately scream “summer read,” this compulsive read will leave you wanting more and anxiously awaiting Lombardo’s sophomore effort. SS

JUNE 2019

Commentary | 11


Music is one of the many connections fathers can make My father once remarked that he had an uncanny, yet completely unmarketable talent for being able to hear a song and correctly identify the singer. Yes, he could do that, and he was good at it. From him I learned all the great crooners: Tony Bennett, Nat King


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Cole, Frank, Dean and Sammy. While some kids sat by their fathers in basements surrounded by magnifying glasses and scrapbooks, identifying coins or stamps, my siblings and I rode in the back of Dad’s Ford as he fiddled with the radio dial, and we identified vocalists. As a bonus, I learned nicknames: Mel Torme was the Velvet Fog, and Charlie Rich was the Silver Fox.; Frank, of course, was the Chairman of the Board. There were always records playing in our home, and from the turntable tunes of my father, I developed a love for music. I grew up on the kicky strains of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and the mellow tunes of Simon and Garfunkel, the bold harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas, and the ballads of Bobbie Gentry. Now, that discerning ear and love for music is being passed along to my kids as well, because I continue the game of Name that Singer as a sort of homage to my dad. My father’s legacy knows the difference between Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, and they have returned the favor by schooling me on the distinction between Ingrid Michaelson and Maggie Rogers. And sometimes, when I happen to hear Bobby Darin, perhaps, crooning (from somewhere, beyond the sea) and

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approval, that in some small way I am connecting with him Robin Conte lives with her husband in an emp- via that completely unmarketable skill he taught me. I like ty nest in Dunwoody. to imagine that Dad might be able to reach through time and space from the dimension of the departed and touch

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me, reconnecting us by means of our little guessing game. Truly, whenever I name that singer I think of my dad, and I am grateful. Fathers, thank you for all the ways you connect with your children, the little ways and the large. Thank you for the stamp collections and the coin collections, and the backyard games of catch.

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Thank you for going camping in the sweltering August heat and in the freezing January rain. Thank you for the walks on the beach, the hikes in the mud, the marathons through it all. Thank you for pointing the way. Thank you for the wrestling matches and the tickle fights and the seed-spitting contests and the head stand competitions. Thank you for teaching your kids how to balance a spoon on their noses and how to balance a load of activities. Thank you for hoisting them onto your shoulders so that they can get a better look at the world. Thank you for carrying them when they’ve tuckered out, even when you’re worn out, too. Thank you for being in the stands. Thank you for being on the field. Thank you for the Friday night lights and the Sunday morning doughnuts and the weeknight bedtime stories. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for

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12 | Commentary

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Jessica Handler’s mother was the first to tell her about Lulu Hurst. Handler and her mother shared an interest in stories of remarkable women, so years ago, when Handler’s mother came across an article about Hurst, she emailed a copy to her daughter. The article was titled “The Feats of the Magnetic Girl Explained.” “I just fell in love with her, although I’d never heard of this girl,” Handler said. After reading some of Greil Marcus’s musings on American folk music, Handler felt an attraction to what Marcus called “the old, weird America.” The Magnetic Girl felt like a part of that. Lulu Hurst was born and grew up dirt poor in the Georgia mountains, but, for a few years in the 1880s, when she was a teenager and electricity and magnetism were something exotic that happened in faraway big cities, she toured the country performing “magnetic tests” in towns large and small. She appeared in vaudeville houses across the South, in cities such as Atlanta and Baltimore, in New York, and even out west, Handler said. While onstage, Lulu supposedly used magnetism in her body to lift people seated in parlor chairs or to knock grown men across the stage. Later, years after she had retired from the stage and settled in Madison, Ga., Lulu wrote her autobiography and explained how her tests actually were done. They were tricks, stagecraft, and JOE EARLE she was a charlatan. The members of her audiJessica Handler. ence were fooled. They saw what they were told they should see and what they wanted to see. Now Handler, who teaches writing at Oglethorpe University, has put together her own book about Lulu the performer. “The Magnetic Girl,” Handler’s first novel, is winning attention from publications as varied as The Wall Street Journal and The Bitter Southerner. As a writer, Handler isn’t a novice. When she was younger, she worked as a TV producer, on game shows, but since 2009, she’s published a couple of nonfiction books, including a memoir called “Invisible Sisters,” about the deaths of her two siblings when they were young, and a book on writing about grief. She bears a physical reminder of her sisters in the form of a tattoo of a crow on her upper arm. She chose the crow, she said, because she was once told the birds travel in threes. Her other arm is tattooed with an image of a hummingbird, chosen, she said, “because hummingbirds are beautiful, fast and fierce and wouldn’t that be a fun thing to be?” She decided to write a novel about “The Magnetic Girl” rather than another nonfiction work so she could try to get inside young Lulu Hurst’s head. A nonfiction account, she said, could end up as little more than a list of Lulu’s performances. “She was amazing,” Handler said over lunch at a coffee shop recently. “I wanted to look at Lulu as a girl. She’s responding to the coming fear of the 20th century. … Old ways were starting to change.” Handler says she spent about a decade working on her novel. She read an original copy of Lulu’s book and newspaper accounts of her shows. She traveled to Cedartown to stand at a field where the Hurst family once had a home. And Handler tried to learn to perform Lulu’s “tests” herself, but never fully mastered them. “The chair thing, I can’t figure,” she said. Still, Handler doesn’t see Lulu simply as another stage magician. “I don’t think she presented it as ‘magic,’” Handler said. “She was willing to go along with the cultural assumption, the collective belief, that she had magnetism in her fingers.” For her version of Lulu’s story, Handler invented a sick younger brother the teen wanted to use her powers to save and portrays the teen’s relationship with her father and mother, who enjoy the benefits of her small, but growing, celebrity. “What attracted me to her was this question her autobiography didn’t answer: Why did she do it? When you’re a teenager in a small town, maybe you just want to get out.” Handler recognized something of herself in her subject. “I was an awkward teen,” Handler said. “I don’t know whether Lulu was comfortable with the way people saw her. In real life, she left the stage, and I don’t know why … In her, I see a teenaged girl who is seen by the world in a way and she realizes in the end she is going to have to be the one to change the way people see her.” After all, the Magnetic Girl lived in a time of change. SS

JUNE 2019

Public Safety | 13


Police killing of suicidal man was self-defense, chief says BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

The recent killing of a suicidal man by a Sandy Springs police officer was a case of self-defense proven by video, according to the police chief. The police department has declined to release that video, and the man’s sister declined to speak to reporters pending a consultation with her attorney. Erick Cruz Ramirez, 32, was shot to death by one officer March 21 on Northwood Drive. The police report contains only a single sentence about the incident and makes no mention of an attack on police officers. 911 call logs obtained by the Reporter say Ramirez had a knife, was “violent” and “not completely alert,” and apparently had already stabbed himself in the abdomen. Police Chief Ken DeSimone defended the killing in comments at a May 7 City Council budget meeting. The shooting was captured on 10 different police car and body cameras, DeSimone said while discussing the department’s use of body cameras. “That’s why there’s no public outrage about it,” DeSimone said of the killing. “Because you pull it up, and a guy was trying to kill a police officer with a butcher knife and he got real close to doing it.” “We were lucky on that one,” he said. The police video of the incident has not been released to the public. A Reporter request for a copy of the video was denied, with the department citing an Open Records Act exemption pertaining to an open police investigation. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting an independent investigation of the killing, said in its press

release about the incident that shots were fired after Ramirez did not comply with verbal commands. No officers were injured in the incident, the GBI Said. The GBI regularly investigates officer-involved shootings. Once its investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney’s office for review. The March 21 incident began when police responded to a 911 call around 6:15 a.m. reporting an armed person outside 145 Northwood Drive, a condo complex off Roswell Road near I-285, according to the GBI. The 911 call log said that Ramirez had a “stab wound to abdomen, holding a knife.” The following entry says that shots were fired at 6:22 a.m. Ramirez was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police spokesperson Sgt. Sam Worsham said that non-lethal force was not used “because a suspect armed with a knife is a deadly force encounter.” The call log said Ramirez was violent, threatening suicide and “not completely alert.” He was initially reported to be holding a knife to his throat, the call log said. The log later reports that a man was running around the location and asking the officer “not to shoot him.” The call log also stated someone was screaming that her brother is killing himself. Ramirez’s sister, Karina Ramirez, speaking through a translator, declined to be interviewed and said she needed to consult with her attorney before speaking with reporters. Worsham said in a written statement that no outside attorney has contacted the department about the shooting, and no complaints have been filed. –Laura Plummer contributed

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BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs plans to study redeveloping four large shopping centers on the north end of the city as it moves forward with a task force report that could bring large-scale redevelopment. The city plans to put $1.5 million toward north end planning in next year’s budget that will fund the study and another on Chattahoochee River access. The city last year created the North End Revitalization Task Force, which drafted a report on how to accomplish that goal, with ideas ranging a new multiuse trail similar to the BeltLine to a massive city-supported “catalyst” project that could inspire other developers to build the north end. The ideas are controversial. Some residents formed a group to push for redevelopment while others feared gentrification and displacement. The city has decided to move forward on the retail and trail development pieces of the report. The city is seeking to study how to redevelop four strip malls on the north end and how to access the river, said Councilmember Steve Soteres, who chaired the task force. The targeted shopping centers are Loehmann’s Plaza Shopping Center, 8610 Roswell Road; Northridge Shopping Center, 8331-8371 Roswell Road; North River Village Shopping Center, 8765-8897 Roswell Road; and North Springs Center, 7300 Roswell Road, the request for proposals said. North Springs is south of Dalrymple and technically outside of the task force’s north end area. The study is expected to be finished by the end of the year. It is to include “detailed concepts for how each property could be developed to attract developer interest,” a presentation provided by Soteres said. The RFP requires the consultant to hold public meetings and seek online input. Two meetings will also be held at each of the properties, the document said. The study will include recommended redevelopment uses, three illustrated concepts and estimated costs. Soteres discussed the study at a May 14 meeting of the North End Sandy Springs Improvement Coalition, a group supporting the report. Soteres was part of a panel that also included Council of Neighborhoods President Ronda Smith and Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce President Tom Mahaffey. The panel conversation included broad discussion on how to revive retail on the north end. But Soteres also laid out steps the city is planning to move forward with the report’s recommendations. Soteres said the city is taking a look at building codes that could change and remove some roadblocks to development. The city Development Authority is looking into ways to provide incentives for companies to come to the north end, he said. And the city is working with the Atlanta Regional Commission, a regional planning authority, on how to better connect to the Chattahoochee River, he said. A feasibility study on if trails and river access are possible is also planned, the presentation said. Some work is being funded by the $250,000 allocated to the “North End Revitalization” last year. The city has proposed putting another $1.5 million towards the north end in next year’s budget.

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JUNE 2019

Community | 15


Holy Spirit offers to sell 150-year-old house for $1

The 150-year-old “Sims House” at 844 Mount Paran Road as it appears on a Google Maps image.

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Proposing the demolition of a 150-yearold farmhouse once deemed historic by Sandy Springs preservationists would be the hot spot in many a redevelopment dispute. In the expansion plan by Holy Spirit Catholic Church and Preparatory School, however, it’s just another example of trust issues that are fueling neighborhood controversy. Some residents say it’s another case of Holy Spirit breaking old agreements, going back on a pledge to former nature-loving owner Ben Sims – the founder of a prominent Atlanta History Center garden -- to save the house and its surrounding woodland. To Holy Spirit, which says there never was such a permanent deal, it’s another chance to make a new agreement. In response to Reporter questions about the house, Holy Spirit offered a new bargain. “Since there seems to be interest in preserving this cottage, the church would be more than happy to sell the cottage to someone for $1, on condition that they move it from the parish property within a specified period,” a Holy Spirit spokesperson said. Holy Spirit was scheduled to host a June 6 community meeting at Sandy Springs City Hall about its proposal to expand its Buckhead campus at Mount Paran Road and Northside Drive onto an adjacent Sandy Springs site. The proposal includes relocating the Lower School from elsewhere in Sandy Springs, as well as a parking deck and church-related buildings. The old Sims property – about 13 acres of woods – is the expansion site and ground zero for the debate. The local Northside/ Chastain/Mt. Paran Neighborhood Preservation Association wants the trees to stay and says a 2003 legal agreement with Holy Spirit blocks the expansion. Holy Spirit says that agreement is no longer valid for technical reasons due to the NPA’s failure to file state paperwork. The dispute about the letter and spirit of agreements goes back to Sims himself, who sold the property to Holy Spirit. There’s no question that Holy Spirit once spoke strongly about preserving the house and woods, but there is no sign of a written agreement to that effect, and community and family memories differ regarding Sims’s expectations. Randy Cherry, Sims’s stepson, only recalled a stipulation that the site remain unSS


developed during Sims’s lifetime. Sims died in 2006 at the age of 99, according to newspaper obituaries. “He just didn’t want anything to happen to the house while he was alive,” Cherry said. The history of the house at 844 Mount Paran is detailed in old newspaper articles and in a Georgia Historic Resources survey conducted by the state in the mid-1990s and now on file at Heritage Sandy Springs. Sims, who bought the property in 1945, estimated the house to date to 1868, partly based on old newspapers stuffed into its walls. Local lore said it was built by a family named Cates as a home for a tenant farmer, and that its location was chosen by fate when wagons loaded with construction lumber got stuck in the mud there. The house was remodeled in the 1920s by an attorney who named the nearby Highcourt Road. Despite the alterations, the state survey in the 1990s said the house appeared to meet the criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It appear the house never got any form of official historic designation. But it did get a modest, informal one – a sign dubbing it the Sims House, erected in the mid-1990s by the Historic Preservation Committee of the Sandy Springs Foundation. Cherry calls it a “cute house” and recalled it as old-fashioned. “It was not modernized whatsoever,” Cherry said. “[It had] mostly original fixtures. Squeaky wood floors and hardwood doors.” Sims lived in the house until his marriage in 1987 to Cherry’s mother, Rebecca. The couple’s main home was Rebecca’s house on Buckhead’s West Paces Ferry Road. “She had a whole house surrounded by gardens… She wasn’t going to move into a little hut with Ben,” Cherry said. Rebecca Cherry Sims was killed by a gardener in a notorious 1989 crime in which Ben Sims was severely injured. In 1996, Sims sold the Mount Paran property to Holy Spirit under terms that essentially let him remain living there for the rest of his life. In 2003, he gave over all rights to the property and moved to Florida. The exact sales amount is unclear from available records, but Holy Spirit says it believes it paid Sims $1.9 million. It’s clear that both sides talked about the deal in terms of preservations, but there is no sign of a legal agreement requiring it.

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City Green Live is a free concert series on the Green at City Springs on select Friday nights. Pack a blanket and picnic under the stars while listening to nationally-known performing artists as well as popular local acts.

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16 | Community

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A Sandy Springs podiatrist has been convicted of illegally dealing hundreds of thousands of doses of opioid painkillers and other drugs through her clinics. Dr. Arnita Avery-Kelly, 56, faces sentencing in federal court on July 24, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The conviction follows a 2016 federal raid on her clinic on Glenridge Drive in Sandy Springs. Byung J. Pak, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said in a press release that Avery-Kelly “prescribed addictive opioids without any legitimate medical need, turning her prescription pad into an ATM. Her behavior fed into the continuing problem of addiction to powerful prescription opioids, which, unfortunately, continues to take a daily toll on many members of our community.” According to prosecutors, Avery-Kelly prescribed opioid painkillers and a class of tranquilizers known as benzodiazepines to “addicts and drug-traffickers posing as patients at her podiatric clinics.” She prescribed more than 275,000 oxycodone pills; 104,000 hydromorphone pills; and 300 fentanyl patches to such people, according to prosecutors, who estimate the 30 mg oxycodone pills had an average sales price of $30 each. In early May 2019, she was convicted by a federal jury on 27 counts of drug distribution without legitimate medical purpose, according to prosecutors.

Kennesaw State University will begin hosting a full Masters of Business Administration program at City Springs this fall following the launch of the certificate program last year. KSU began offering programs at City Springs, Sandy Springs’ civic and arts complex, in 2018 with a non-degree, business certificate program. The new program will offer the regular MBA program that is “identical” to the on-campus version and is designed for working professionals, according to a press release. KSU will again offer the “mini MBA” certificate program at City Springs. The hours earned to achieve the certificate cannot be applied to a degree. The classes start in September and are held once a month on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. The program is being launched through a partnership between KSU, the city of Sandy Springs and the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, the release said. Having a full university in Sandy Springs is a dream long held by city officials that started with founding Mayor Eva Galambos. For more information on the MBA, visit colescollege.com/MBA. For more information on the certificate, visit colescollege.com/ExecEd.

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JUNE 2019

Community | 17


GDOT toll lanes: Answers to some frequently asked questions

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A screenshot from an illustrated video released by the Georgia Department of Transportation shows a section of the future toll lanes along Ga. 400 over Northridge Road in Sandy Springs.

BY EVELYN ANDREWS AND JOHN RUCH As the state plans for toll lanes on Ga. 400 and I-285, controversy and discussion have centered on some major unknowns, such as property takings and new interchange locations. But there also has been some confusion about topics that are at least partly known. The following are the basic answers to some common questions about the toll lanes.

Where did the toll lanes idea come from?

More than a decade ago, GDOT began a planning process for Perimeter traffic relief, known as “Revive 285,” that looked at a wide variety of options, including forms of mass transit, before settling on a metro-wide system of toll lanes.

What is the purpose of the toll lanes?

GDOT says the toll lanes will improve traffic congestion by taking vehicles out of the regular lanes, as well as by serving as mass transit bus routes on at least part of the highways. The Ga. 400 and I-285 toll lanes are part of a wider system planned for the metro area, parts of which are already open on I-75, I-85, I-575 and some other highways.

Is this one project or two – or three?

It’s easy to get confused about GDOT’s local plans because they involves three different projects. While the Ga. 400 toll lanes and I-285 toll lanes would be part of a single network, they are two separate projects with different construction timelines. And the major construction work currently underway on the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange has nothing to do with the toll lanes. The interchange reconstruction, known as “Transform 285/400,” is essentially just reconfiguring existing lanes, not adding toll lanes. GDOT aims to finish that project in late 2020. The first toll lanes project is Ga. 400, expected to start construction in 2021. The I-285 toll lanes would follow in 2023. For added confusion, the “I-285” project actually includes part of the Ga. 400 toll lanes between I-285 and the North Springs MARTA Station.

How would the toll lanes be funded?

GDOT is using a public-private partnership, which means that private companies fund the construction and make their money back over time through the tolls. After that money is regained, the toll revenue would be spent on “other transportation needs,” according to GDOT.

Will mass transit use the toll lanes?

Bus rapid transit, operated by MARTA, is planned for part of the Ga. 400 lanes and is being studied for I-285. BRT is being considered as a less expensive alternative to heavy rail.

Why toll lanes instead of a MARTA rail extension?

Extending MARTA’s Red Line northward through Sandy Springs was locally supported in recent transit plans, but ultimately abandoned after leaders in some other north Fulton cities said they would not support it and the sales tax that might fund it. Bus transit was the consensus option, and GDOT agreed to work with MARTA on including it on the Ga. 400 toll lanes. Rail on I-285 was among the options considered in “Revive 285” beContinued on page 18

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Continued from page 17 fore toll lanes were settled on.

Why is GDOT not placing tolls on existing lanes instead of building new toll lanes?

GDOT cites a combination of practical and regulatory reasons. In practice, converting four lanes of Ga. 400 to tolls would reduce capacity by about 40 percent and make congestion worse, GDOT says. In addition, GDOT is operating under a policy requiring that any new lanes it builds must be tolled, and a federal restriction on converting generalpurpose lanes to toll lanes. The policy could be changed and there are exemptions to the federal rules that could apply locally. But for now, the political climate is against changes following removal of toll booths elsewhere on Ga. 400 in 2013 and a 2011 controversy over converting an I-85 HOV lane to a tolled lane.

How do the toll lanes work?

The tolls would only be collected on the newly built toll lanes. Drivers have the choice of whether to use the lanes. Using the toll lanes requires a Peach Pass, an electronic tag registered to a vehicle. The price would vary and would be set by the State Road and Tollway Authority in real time depending on the level of congestion on the lanes. The idea behind the variable pricing is to keep traffic flowing in the lanes faster than in the regular lanes. Giving drivers the option to have a faster trip time on the toll lanes is expected to lower congestion in the regular lanes as well, according to GDOT.


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Doraville City Councilmember Joseph Geierman is publicly speaking out against the planned I-285 “top end” toll lanes, which are expected to begin construction in 2023 and which state officials say will cost nearly $5 billion. Building more lanes, Geierman said, even if they are toll lanes, will only bring more traffic. He also criticized what he said was a secretive process of informing the public about what is happening. “It’s infuriating to me that the state is spending billions on this project ... that I guess is an Atlanta Regional Commission plan published years ago,” he said. “It was mostly developed by engineers at the Georgia Department of Transportation

and ARC and then socialized into certain groups but never made public.” The “I-285 Top End Express Lanes” project focuses on adding two new elevated, barrier-separated express lanes in both directions on I-285, alongside regular travel lanes. They could stand 30 feet or higher. GDOT says the added toll lanes would alleviate traffic on one of the most heavily traveled and congested highways in the country by allowing motorists to pay a fee to drive in less congested lanes. ARC and GDOT adopted its “express lanes” strategy in 2013. Adding more lanes, even if they are toll lanes, will not alleviate congestion along I-285, Geierman said. Adding other ways for people to get around, such as multiuse trails or even dedicated bus lanes, are options that could be explored. He said he knows “sweeteners” such as adding bus rapid transit on the Ga. 400

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JUNE 2019


Community | 19


toll lanes and discussions to do the same on the I-285 toll lanes are being included in the projects as a way to “keep everyone happy.� But he said he could not stay silent on this project. “A lot of people who are in elected position are making different calculations and working with GDOT to get the best deal they can, and certainly that is smart,� he said. “But, at same time, it just seems so wrong and I need to speak out. I think most of the people I represent are probably in the same boat I am.� Geierman said he also intends to work with GDOT to ensure mitigations for neighborhoods are part of the project, such as sound barriers. But, he said, there is only so much mitigation that can be done for elevated toll lanes that will be towering over neighborhoods. Geierman also knocked GDOT’s recent meetings with the public in which little detailed information was provid-

ed. He said he believes GDOT has plans of what it expects to build, but is not sharing them with the public. GDOT officials say they are still in early concept design phases of the new toll lanes and will present detailed plans to the public in January. “They have a plan they are not sharing with people, purposefully,� Geierman said. “They don’t want any of us to actually mobilize our neighbors and say this is what is going to happen. Information is coming out in drips and drabs.� Dozens of Sandy Springs residents just recently learned their homes are to be taken as part of the Ga. 400 toll lanes project, a separate project from I-285 toll lanes, he said. Then he said he learned from reading the news that Doraville’s Assembly property owners sold 5 acres to GDOT for the I-285 toll lanes. “Information is coming out so slowly it will be hard to organize a real re-

sponse,� he said. “And there is so much money behind it. Legitimately, it will be hard to put out a defense.�


Dunwoody resident Travis Reid is hoping to stop the I-285 toll lanes project through a change.org petition he started. An early signer to the petition was Doraville Councilmember Joseph Geierman. As of May 28, there were 356 signatures.


Several Georgia Power utility poles are lined up in the right-of-way along I-285 that borders Dunwoody’s Georgetown community. Very narrow right-of-way

exists between the towering poles and several properties, including townhomes and the historic Georgetown Recreation Club. GDOT project manager Tim Matthews said GDOT is in early discussions with all utility companies located in the right-ofway of where the toll lanes may go. But he said there are no detailed plans on what right-of-way is needed “because we are not there yet.� But moving large utility poles like the ones near Georgetown is something GDOT prefers not to do, he said. “Ideally, we try to avoid [relocating them], especially the large transmission towers, because they cost several million dollars a piece to relocate,� he said. Nothing is final, however, he stressed. And none of the plans including any relocation of utilities would be finalized until GDOT hires a private contractor to come up with the complete design, he said.

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Art & Entertainment | 21


City Springs sculpture gallery is unveiled Photos by Phil Mosier A - Art Sandy Springs President Cheri Morris introduces the sculptures at the May 24 event. B - Taylor Haas plays a trumpet while the sculpture “Spirit Cycle” by Nathan Pierce was being described May 24. Haas is the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center supervisor. C - Carol Ann Borko, center, and Pam Kell, right talk with local artist Steve Steinman by his sculpture “Lost Parts, Found Narrative.”

Sandy Springs on May 24 unveiled the nine competition-winning sculptures that make up a new sculpture gallery around City Springs. Called “Arts in the Open,” the sculpture gallery is one of the city’s public art initiatives. The new public sculpture competition was created specifically to bring fine art to the parks and public spaces throughout the Sandy Springs and to the City Springs complex. Done in partnership with Art Sandy Springs, the competition selected nine sculpture winners out of 135 submissions.. The unveiling was held before the first City Green Live concert, a series sponsored by the city that will continue through the summer.


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22 | Public Safety

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City tweaks alarm ordinance as verification requirement approaches Continued from page 1 Leonard, a staff attorney, said allowing extra time to provide verification was needed because technology that would make evidence available instantly to emergency responders is not widespread yet. The change did not add extra penalties for not providing evidence within the 24 hours, Leonard said in response to a question from Councilmember Tibby DeJulio. The standard fines for false alarms that are already part of the ordinance would be assessed, Leonard said. The city says the ordinance is needed because the vast majority of alarms are false, tying up police officers and costing money. The alarm industry relies on a misuse of taxpayer dollars, the city says. In a separate presentation, Capt. Dan Nable, who has overseen the alarm ordinance changes, detailed why the city feels verification is needed. The statistics on the city’s alarms have remained the same, Nable said. With about 10,000 calls per year, 99.5 percent remain false. “As you can see, this is a huge burden on the officers as far as time that’s taken out of their day,” Nable said. Sandy Springs officials said they had visited cities that have successfully implemented verified response and lists them during community presentations about the alarm ordinance. Nearly all the cities are on the West Coast, and one still on the list is San Jose, Calif., which stopped requiring verification in August 2018. A memo provided by the San Jose Police Department said it did so after burglaries rose and more officers were hired. Verification was originally implemented because of a lack of officers, and after the burglary “trend,” the city decided to reverse it. “As the department rebuilds and gets stronger, and as residential and commercial burglaries increase, the need to respond to these calls for service is critical,” the memo said. The department started requiring verification in 2011. Nable said the Sandy Springs is still on track for the ordinance to take effect June 19, and conversations with companies and residents are “going reasonably well.” The city

NOTICE OF INTENT TO SET PROPERTY MILLAGE The City of Brookhaven has tentatively adopted a millage rate for the General Fund which will be a decrease in property taxes by 0.44 percent under the Rollback Millage rate. This decrease is due solely to the revaluation of real property tax assessments. All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearings for the setting of the millage to be held at Brookhaven City Hall at 4362 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven, GA 30319. The first public hearing will be held at 7:00 p.m. on June 11, 2019. The second public hearing and formal adoption of the millage rate will be held at the June 25, 2019 meeting at 7:00 p.m. The tentative millage rate of 2.740 mills, is a decrease of .012 mills from the rollback rate of 2.752 mills. The proposed tax decrease for a home with a fair market value of $499,703 is approximately $2.40 and the proposed tax decrease for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $389,665 is approximately $1.87.

is working on “logistical issues” for ChatComm, the provider of the city’s 911 service, to receive video evidence, he said. He said the city has “made every effort” to make residents and alarm companies aware about the verification requirement taking effect. The city also hosted an “expo” with 26 alarm companies to allow residents to talk with them about verification options. Several residents have had concerns about the cost of upgrading equipment or paying for a guard service to respond. The city has said some companies are offering guard services for free along with a charge if the alarm turns out to be false. Other options are using self-installed cameras like the popular Nest and Ring or contracting with a private guard service without going through an alarm company. If an alarm company is quoting “excessive” prices to install audio or video equipment, the city has encouraged residents to look into these options. Arkin said she opted for the one of those independent camera systems at a cost of $200 because her company would charge for the guard service. “I still don’t want cameras. It’s an invasion of privacy,” she said. She also is concerned she won’t also be able to see alerts on her phone that the camera detected movement. The ordinance has been tweaked several times since passing in 2017, including adding the verification requirement in 2018 and later that year adding new requirements for alarm companies to alert customers if they are on a no-response list. The director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, one of the groups behind a lawsuit against Sandy Springs’ ordinance last year, said in a written statement he expects the verification and changes to cause confusion. “No other city we are aware of has had to constantly amend and adjust its alarm ordinance in the manner we are seeing in Sandy Springs,” Stan Martin said. “The thoughtful consideration of the implications of new technology in alarm management is missing from the current ordinance and we predict continued confusion if Sandy Springs moves forward with verified response.” Scott Hightower, the president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety & System Association, which filed the lawsuit, pressed again for the verification requirement to be removed in a written statement. “Based on the high cost to our customers and continuous amendments to the ordinance we urge Sandy Springs to not implement verified response and move forward working with industry experts on how to craft and enforce a version of the model ordinance utilized without controversy throughout the United States,” Hightower said.

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Community | 23


Questions remain about future of city services Continued from page 1 has since been a model for cities using a public-private partnership and has gotten national press attention. The city’s own webpage on the partnership calls it a “trailblazer.” The city voted May 14 to reverse that, at least for a year, citing estimated cost savings of $14 million over five years. The city will review the costs again in a year and continue to analyze the numbers, giving the city “flexibility to adjust accordingly,” Councilmember Andy Bauman said at the meeting. “We’re not abandoning this model,” Paul said. “It doesn’t make economic sense. It’s not wise policy to spend $2.7 million a year we don’t have to spend if we can provide the same quality service.” It remains unclear how exactly the city would transition back to having private contracts for the hundreds of employees it would now employ in-house. Councilmember Tibby DeJulio, known as the City Council’s unofficial sage of the city’s founding ideals, said he doesn’t know how the city would transition those employees back and said it was not a question that came up during the council’s discussions. When asked how likely he thought it was that the city would go back, he said it would be “difficult,” but that the city couldn’t pass up the chance to save money

for taxpayers. “It’ll be difficult to go back, let’s just say that,” he said. It’s also unclear how many existing employees will leave their companies to work directly for the city. City spokesperson Sharon Kraun did not respond to questions about those issues. Department heads and City Manager John McDonough were already directly employed and will remain, Kraun said. McDonough said the shift won’t change how the city approaches leadership and management decisions. DeJulio said that although this does bring many employees in-house, it is in keeping with the Sandy Springs model, he said. “I know there is going to be some criticism of this, but that criticism is not really founded because this is keeping with the effectiveness and the efficiency of what was anticipated of the city of Sandy Springs,” he said. As of July 1, the following city departments will be brought in-house: Public Works/TSPLOST, Community Development, IT, Finance, Economic Development, Communications, Facilities and Performing Arts Center Operations. The Municipal Court and Recreation and Parks department contracts will be ended as well, with those departments coming in-house on Aug. 15. Remaining privatized are: The Call Center and 911 Services; Public Works Field

Services, Fleet Services, City Attorney’s Office and the Municipal Court Solicitor office, which add up to over $11 million in contracts. The police and fire departments were already in-house. Besides those departments, the city previously only directly employed 10 administration officials, including City Manager John McDonough. According to the city, the transition will move approximately 183 positions from contract to city-held positions, bringing the total of city-held positions to 482. The shift is a major one for the city’s history, identity and international profile. Oliver Porter and DeJulio, who both helped create the model when the city was founded, said they are optimistic and hopeful it will work. Others have concerns the meeting where the decision was made was not adequately announced and about losing some of the benefits of outsourcing. Porter, who drew up the city’s original privatization plan, said he had not heard about the change from city officials. He said he was hopeful the city made the right choice. “I hope for the best. I hope they made a wise decision,” Porter said. Porter wrote two books about outsourcing government and has been a skeptic of cities that have brought more employees inhouse. He has no regrets about starting Sandy Springs with the public-private model. “I think was a great move. It helped us

get started wonderfully,” he said. “It was possibly the best way for us to get off the ground.” In a 2016 interview, Porter said outsourcing is still the most efficient way to run government, and he is skeptical of other new cities that do more in-house. “The closer they adhere to the [Sandy Springs] model, the better off they are,” he said. DeJulio also has sounded previous warnings about no-bid contract extensions or moving toward in-house positions. The city engaged in some such renewals in recent years amid concerns about government stability during such major projects as the City Springs civic center. In council discussions in 2016 about nobid contract extensions, DeJulio warned of a “slippery slope” and that the city should “not start bringing those positions inhouse.” But DeJulio is on board with the newly decided shift to mostly in-house government. DeJulio said that he was originally concerned about the proposal, but after analysis believes it is the right choice and one the late founding Mayor Eva Galambos would have made. “I’ve thought about this and I thought about what Eva and I would have done back in those days,” DeJulio said. “I have no doubt that we would gone ahead and gone into a situation like this because of the savings.”

Stars and Stripes


July 4, 2019 • 7:30 pm • The Concourse Lawn Music from the band Bogey and the Viceroy will begin at 7:30 pm. Fireworks will dazzle the skies beginning at 9:45 pm. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and enjoy an evening under the stars. Pets, tents, outdoor cooking, drones, alcohol and personal use sparklers will not be permitted. The Sandy Springs Stars and Stripes Celebration is sponsored by Concourse Coporate Center (Regent Partners and CBRE Global Investors) and the City of Sandy Springs. Additional event information can be found online: spr.gs/fw SS

JUNE 2019



| 24

4th of July Parade This year’s theme:


Grand Marshall: Dunwoody Police Department

JULY 4, 2019 at 9:00 am

Parade begins at the Mount Vernon Shopping Center, proceeds down Mount Vernon Road for approximately 2.5 miles and ends with a lively Family Festival in Dunwoody Village The Dunwoody Homeowners Association and the Dunwoody Reporter newspaper will host the annual Fourth of July Parade featuring marching bands, floats, clowns, animal units and local celebrities!




For more information about sponsorship, please contact Leah Economos at 770-624-4825 or leah@eepevents.com. SS

JUNE 2019 • VOL. 12 — NO. 6



Sandy Springs


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The Stunt Man

Local actor fights Batman, ninjas and more for a living Matt Philliben on the set of “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.”




One day last year, Matt Philliben went to work and was murdered by ninjas. He’s also been beaten up by Batman, thrown through fire by a Transformer, and jumped through a window while dressed as rapper Eminem. And he’s just fine, because it’s all in a day’s work for the up-and-coming stuntman and actor. The Buckhead resident is gaining increasing notice for his work in such productions as the new Keanu Reeves hit “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”

– where he had that bloody ninja brawl – and the Atlanta-based superhero series “Black Lightning,” where he got screen time playing a mob boss. “I’ve wanted to be an actor, as well as a stuntman, since I was 4 years old,” he says. “There’s legitimately nothing else I wanted to do with my life. Also, I had no back-up plan, which means if things didn’t work out, there was no safety net. I was going to work in film and television as an actor, as well as a stuntman, no matter what.”


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26 | Art & Entertainment

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Two modern artists with Georgia ties are featured at MOCA GA BY JUDITH SCHONBAK Two very different artists with Georgia ties will be featured in exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) in exhibits beginning in June. Andy Nasisse first put his hands in clay when he was about 20 years old and in college studying psychology. That touch changed his life. He has written and lectured about clay pieces and sculptures and has won numerous grants and awards. As a professor of ceramics at the University of Georgia for 28 years, he had a major influence on building the reputation of the department. He now lives and works in Salt Lake City, Utah. Nasisse has three large sculptures in the permanent collection of MOCA GA. Krista Clark is completing the final element in her year-long participation in the museum’s 2018/2019 Working Artist Project (WAP). Her studio is in Atlanta’s West End, and her works of assembled materials address the demolition, reconstruction and displacement of homes there. The Reporter spoke to both artists about their works.

Suite Vıew.

ANDY NASISSE Q: You incorporate many images in your work, from the smallest cup and saucer to the large figures and the towering pillars more than six feet tall. What are you expressing through these images? A: I use the figure, the vessel and the landscape to create what I call a mythic image as a way I can express some thoughts about the human condition. As the title of my show “Heart Land Dark Land” suggests, I am fascinated by the tension between opposites. The Dark Land or shadow land can also refer to the interior visceral side of the imagination; contractive energy as opposed to expansive energy; the feminine and masculine; night and day: ration and intuition; our conscious lives and subconscious self; matter and spirit; life and death and so many more. All these opposites drive the universe.

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Q: Where do your images come from?

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A: I hope they see the connection between things, that they react with their gut and are able to experience and react with their heart as well as their mind. KRISTA CLARK Q: Your artworks have shifted from realistic pen-and-ink drawings to abstract installations. How did that happen? A: In part, as I began to create abstract works, in addition to drawing, I started cutting out shapes and putting them in a collage or a looser three-dimensional work. It was an entire redirection. When [husband Michael Jones] and I moved to the Westview neighborhood in the historic West End, it was in transition as one of the last in the area undergoing gentrification. There was construction everywhere: wonderful 1920 and 1930 homes being reclaimed and restored; some torn down and new homes going up; some things saved, some lost. That combination informed the shift in my art to large 3-D installations to express what was and is happening all around us. And, through all my new work, I searched for ways to create good design. Continued on page 28

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A Place Where You Belong

Continued from page 26 Q: Your show is the final element in your yearlong participation in MOCA GA’s Working Artist Project (WAP) and you are of three artists the museum sponsors each year for the WAP program. What are the benefits to you as a selected artist? A: It’s a great program that provides exposure for the artists. The Working Artists Project is open to established visual artists in the metro Atlanta area who apply for a spot. The guest curator for this year was Allison Glenn, the associate curator of contemporary art at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Those of us chosen present a solo exhibition of all new work created during the year of the grant. WAP provides promotion; opportunities to meet and network with collectors, artists and the public; a studio apprentice – I had two from Georgia State; a $15,000 stipend to create work over the course of the year; a catalog of my show; and a piece from the exhibition to be included in the MOCA GA permanent collection. “New Roof” by Krista Clark.


‘Heart Land Dark Land’ by Andy Nasisse

June 8-July 6, opening reception June 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

‘Open House’ by Krista Clark

June 29 – August 24, opening reception June 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. MOCA GA 75 Bennett St., Buckhead | mocaga.org

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Spend the day or evening on the Town! Discover over 50 shops, services and restaurants. Town Brookhaven is truly your one stop shopping and dining destination with a blend of interesting boutiques, delicious restaurants and useful services. Dunwoody 1221 Ashford Crossing in Perimeter Place Brookhaven 804 Town Blvd in Town Brookhaven

www.townbrookhaven.net Conveniently located on Peachtree Road adjacent to Oglethorpe University.

Midtown 1551 Piedmont Ave NE at Monroe Drive www.hobnobatlanta.com

Art & Entertainment | 29

JUNE 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net ter, Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. Info: 404-364-8555





Saturdays, 15 and 29; 7-9 p.m. The City of Dunwoody brings back its annual summer concerts, including cover band Acoustical Left on June 15 and Americana group Russell Cook and the Sweet Teeth on June 29. New this year, a different food truck will be on site each week. Free for members; non-members $5 adults, $3 children. Dunwoody Nature Center, 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodynature.org


Sunday, June 9, 5-8:30 p.m. Saved by the Band plays ’80s and ’90s hits starting at 7 p.m. in a free concert. Beforehand, the Taproom Concert Series offers a craft beer tasting for $18. Heritage Sandy Springs. 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org




Fridays, June 14; 21; 28, 6:30 p.m. The City Green in Sandy Springs debuts its summer music series with Grateful Dead cover band Cosmic Charlie on June 14; the eight-member beach group Band of Oz June 21 and May 24 and country group Savannah Jack June 28. More acts scheduled throughout the summer. City Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Free, no tickets required. Tables may be reserved starting at $40. Info: https://citysprings. com/events/steep-canyon-rangers


Saturday, June 8, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Ever wonder the value of your family heirlooms or antiques? Specialists in fine art, decorative art, Asian art, books and manuscripts, and jewelry will provide fair-market appraisals. Hosted by the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, with appraisals by Hindman, an Atlanta auction house. $20 for first appraisal, $15 for each additional appraisal. Turner Lynch Campus Cen-

Thursday, June 13, 7 p.m. Author Hannah Palmer visits the Buckhead Heritage Society book club to discuss her book about Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s impact on south Atlanta and the region. Free, but registration required. 3180 Mathieson Drive, Buckhead. Info: buckheadheritage.com/events


Saturday, June 15, 11 a.m-4 p.m. and Sunday, June 15, noon-4 p.m. The Atlanta History Center’s Juneteenth family programs commemorate the end of slavery, where guests explore the themes of freedom and family history through talks, museum theater workshops and storytelling. Observance highlights include author Christina Proenza-Coles on Saturday discussing her new book “American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World”; and Kenyatta D. Berry, co-host of the popular PBS series Genealogy Roadshow, on Sunday discussing genealogy and her new book “The Family Tree Toolkit.”. Free Admission. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info: 404.814.4000 or atlantahistorycenter.com/family



Wednesday, June 19, 7:40 p.m. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival continues its AJFF Selects screening series with Tel Aviv on Fire, a satire where a soap opera writer finds himself caught in the crossfire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. $15. Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: ajff.org



Wednesdays, June 5, 19 and 26; 3 p.m. Future scientists: Join a fun series of programs presented by Fulton County Public Works educators. June 5: The Spiral Snake; June 19: Incredible Journey where participants will take make a bracelet with colored beads to represent the different ways water changes form. June 26: Monarch Mishaps. Ages 7 & up. Free. Registration required. North Fulton Service Center Small Meeting Room 7741 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta. Email: leah.germon@fultoncountyga.gov

Continued on page 30

30 | Art & Entertainment

Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News Continued from page 29


Thursday, June 6, 3 and 7 p.m. Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat and all of your favorite Dr. Seuss characters spring to life onstage in this 30-minute fantastical musical extravaganza. Donations encouraged to benefit the Performing Arts program. Dunwoody United Methodist Church, 1548 Mt. Vernon Road. Info: dunwoodyumc.org

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Friday, June 7, 3 p.m. This magical and hilarious rendition of Midsummer Night’s Dream is sure to ignite the imagination of children as they experience the beauty of Shakespeare’s language. Ages 3 & up. Free. North Fulton Service Center Reading Room 7741 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta. Info: afpls.org/events/events-calendar


Friday, June 21, 9-10 a.m. Explore the gardens, and honey bee apiary with a Sandy Springs Naturalist. Binoculars will be provided to watch the nesting Lost Corner Bluebirds. See how many butterflies we can find, and make a butterfly craft to take home. Family friendly, children under 16 need to be accompanied by an adult. Free. Lost Corner Preserve, 7300 Brandon Mill Road. Info:registration.sandyspringsga.gov

Friday, June 21, 4 and 7 p.m. City Springs Theatre’s Youth Conservatory presents its inaugural production of Disney’s Frozen JR. featuring students from 21 Atlanta area schools. $15 adults/ $10 students. Byers Theater at City Springs. 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: citysprings.com/events/disneys-frozen-jr

Saturday, June 29, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Police cars, fire trucks, and more will be on hand to provide a day of fun and learning for the whole family. Kids will be able to hop up in a fire truck, get behind the wheel of some heavy maintenance equipment, check out various police vehicles, and get safety tips. Free. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info: brookhavenga.gov

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Saturday, June 8, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The American Hydrangea Society celebrates 25 years of its garden tour in the Sandy Springs and Dunwoody Area. Ticket includes access to 5 gardens, large and small and a one-year membership to the society. Individual tickets $30, two-person household tickets $40. 315 Drummen Court, Sandy Springs, 30328. Info: americanhydrangeasociety.org


Saturday, June, 8, 6:30-11 p.m. All-you-can-eat tastings from 20 Sandy Springs restaurants, bottomless beverages and live music. Benefiting Community Assistance Center, Ian’s Friends Foundation and Second Helpings. Atlanta Tickets: $65$75. City Springs, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: foodthatrocks.org


Saturday, June 15, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, June 30, 8:30 a.m. & 10:30 a.m. SUP YOGA is a combination of yoga and stand up paddle boarding. After a brief instruction on paddle technique, participants paddle out to a nearby protected area on the river where the SUP will be anchored and students will be guided through techniques and postures. $35, registration required. Overlook Paddle Shack, 200 Morgan Falls Road. Info: highcountryoutfitters.com





Wednesdays through Oct. 2, 6-9 p.m. The popular Brookhaven Food Truck Roundup, now entering its sixth season, returns in a new location at the north end of the park near the Blackburn Pavilion. The new site borders a recently installed playground and will feature eight to 10 food truck dining options, a beer and wine tent, live entertainment and a bounce house and other activities for children. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info: brookhavenga.gov


Saturday, June 15, 7:30 p.m. The 4th annual Lantern Parade, “Take it to the River” starts at Steel Canyon Golf Club and ends at Morgan Falls Overlook Park. New this year, Sanderson the Flying Pig joins the crew of characters interacting with the crowd. Lantern workshops to make your own are available in days leading up to the parade at Sips n Strokes. Free to participate in parade, workshops $30. Steel Canyon Golf Club, 460 Morgan Falls Rd, Sandy Springs. Info: visitsandysprings.org/lanternparade


Saturday, June 22, 4 p.m. through Sunday, June 23, 9 a.m. Spend a night under the stars — s’mores, campfire songs and an evening hike included — at Dunwoody Nature Center. This family focused program, will teach the camping basics like how to set up and break down tents and how to build and put out a campfire. $20 per a campsite for members, $25 non-members. Dunwoody Nature Center, 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodynature.org/backyard-campout

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Designed for little kids, big kids, and the whole family, Second Sundays are for everyone. Visit us each month and experience new interactive, innovative family activities inspired by our collections and ever-changing exhibitions. Second Sundays are sponsored by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

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32 | Art & Entertainment

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The Stunt Man: Local actor fights Batman, ninjas and more for a living Continued from front page

From left, Philliben, working as a stunt double, joins Eminem on the set of the music video “Good Guy.”


The Detroit native studied film and theater at Western Michigan University, then began hanging around low-budget movie sets, offering to work for free to break into the business. He also boasts black belts in several martial arts – he picked up the love of the disciplines from seeing “The Karate Kid” – and turned that into bodyguard stints for such celebrities as Hugh Jackman, giving him another angle into filmmaking. He came to Atlanta for its status as a new moviemaking mecca. When he’s on a

set, he’s working 11- to 17-hour days, getting paid a rate set by a union that also provides health insurance. While computer graphics often fancy up an action scene these days, there’s still a human stunt performer working underneath it, taking real bumps and falls. And there are real dangers. Georgia’s filmmaking scene has had some recent controversies about crew deaths, including a pending lawsuit over a stunt performer’s death on the hit series “The Walking Dead.” Philliben declined to comment on those larger issues, but emphasized that in the stunt world, safety is paramount and stunts are done in a “controlled and contained atmosphere.” He has done stunt work in such big-budget movies as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “Transformers: The Last Knight” and the upcoming “Bad Boys for Life.” And he’s worked as a stunt double for stars, including Eminem in the music videos for “My Life” and “Good Guy.” “Say you see a guy diving out of the way of a car, or a guy get punched by Superman, or a random guy get thrown through the air by Godzilla, or a zombie that gets shot by the hero,” says Philliben. He often is that guy, in the largely faceless world of “utility stunts.” But now he’s getting more screen time and acting opportunities, including on a recent episode of “Chicago P.D.,” and says he’s getting recognized out in public. “The grind never stops, though, and I’m still to this day working to accomplish my dream of having the world know my name,” he says. The following is an edited Q&A with Philliben about his career.

Q: What inspired you to become a stuntman? A: What inspired me to do stunts was my lifelong knack for adventure. I had been jumping ramps in the street on my bicycle when I was a little kid and climbing up random buildings and trees since as far back as I can remember. Also, I’ve always been obsessed with martial arts. I remember seeing “The Karate Kid” when I was very young. This opened my eyes to martial arts. I then started watching Bruce Lee movies… But with all that being said, what got me into wanted to do stunts was a movie called “Point Break,” starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. The thing about “Point Break” is, it’s got so much action in an adrenaline-laced film. You’ve got every avenue of stunts, from car chases to surfing, to nervous fights, to shoot-outs, to skydiving, to fire burns, to dog attacks, to foot chases and parkour, to football hits, to high falls, you name it. I was blown away by this film. I worked alongside Keanu on “John Wick 3” last year and I let him know how much I loved his work and how I was acting and doing stunts because of “Point Break.”

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A: When I’m not on set, I’m constantly training for my potential next job. I still train in many styles of martial arts every day. I ride motorcycles, train in parkour, practice stunt driving, go rock-climbing, do yoga [and] gymnastics, practice weapon work, and on and on and on. I’m also constantly looking for what productions are going on and who’s on them, submitting my [movie highlight] reel and resume and just grinding towards my next job.

Q: Where have we seen you on-screen? A: In “Batman v Superman,” I worked with the fight team. I get beat up and blown up by Batman in the final fight scene of the movie, the warehouse scene. In “Transformers,” I did everything from ratchets -- getting yanked by a line and flung in the air to simulate an explosion – [to] high falls out of fake airplanes. In “Divergent,” I had a little stunt acting role, where I was the bodyguard of Kate Winslet’s character Jeanine. I followed her around and protected her and eventually got killed by the character Four, aka her nemesis. In “John Wick,” I was one of the bodyguards in the Roma Ruska ballet scene. I open the door for John Wick and greet him when he initially enters the lair. I also end up getting brutally killed by two ninjas later on.

Q: Do you specialize in a type of stunt? Do you have a favorite stunt? A: I would classify myself as an all-around stuntman, doing anything from fire burns to stunt driving, to fights, to water work, to wire work, to high falls, to ratchets -- you name it, I’ll do it. There’s nothing that I won’t do. I signed up for this job, so I know what the risks are. I love doing action and fight choreography though, coming up with intricate fight sequences. I can’t say that I most proud of any particular stunt, because anytime I get on set and get a chance to do what I love and my true passion in life, I’m proud of that ex-

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JUNE 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Eat Your Heart Out.

Philliben on the set of “Transformers: The Last Knight.”


perience. A stunt that stands out, though, is probably in “Transformers: The Last Knight,” where I did about a 40- or 50-foot ratchet off a stage through a fire.

Q: What’s the secret of making a fake punch look real? A: The secret of selling a good punch or hit is practicing your reactions over and over again and watching yourself perform them afterwards… practice always makes perfect and camera angles are very important. People often think that stunt guys are actually getting punched in the face when really it’s just the camera angle and the acting/performance of the stunt professional. This is where acting and stunts collide, since you still have to know how to act and perform even when doing stunts.

Q: What brought you to Georgia and Buckhead? A: I moved to Georgia because the film industry collapsed back in my hometown and the governor took our film incentives away. … I always loved the South. The weather is way better. There’s no snow and the people are really friendly. I moved to Buckhead because I love the ambience of this city. The restaurants are amazing. It’s super clean. The people are really friendly. The amenities are top-notch. And I love the view of the city where I live. … Buckhead just has an overall amazing vibe. I wouldn’t consider living anywhere else.

c. 404.862.9302 | o. 404.874.0300 | judegolden@atlantafinehomes.com YOUR NEIGHBOR, YOUR REALTOR® MEMBER, ATLANTA REALTORS® TOP PRODUCERS

J U N E 8 -1 5 , 2 01 9

JUNE 8-15 8 T H A N N UA L

Save the date for the most savory week of the year: Dunwoody Restaurant Week! From June 8-15, join us for brunch, lunch, dinner and specialty items, all at set prices. The restaurants will serve their best, all you need to do is secure your spot (and prepare your palate).

Dig In:


#DUNWOODYRESTAURANTWEEK #DINEINDUNWOODY ©MMXIX Sotheby’s International Realty and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered (or unregistered) service marks used with permission. Each Office Is Independently Owned And Operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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MOUNTAIN RETREAT Five ways to give any home a cozy, modern vibe


When you think of a cozy cabin getaway, what comes to mind? Probably wood tones, comforting textures, and maybe some wildlife elements, but sometimes the style feels a little one-note. Forget what you think you know about cabin decor, and let’s get in the mindset of something edgier and more modern.

Shag Rugs

We know, you’re probably a little surprised at this suggestion. Shag rugs are often found in either sophisticated glam spaces or funky global abodes (a la Moroccan wedding blankets), but why not a modern cabin as well? What’s cozier and comfier than a plush shaggy rug underfoot to warm your cold toes?

Faux Taxidermy

Wood Burning Stove

Wood Accents

Log cabins can sometimes have an overabundance of wood – wood floors, wooden walls, wood beams. We love this material too, don’t get us wrong. But using it as an accent or feature instead of overwhelming the senses highlights its natural beauty and character.

No matter what style of cabin we’re talking about, a fire is an absolute necessity. However, we’re leaning away from grand mantles and giant stone walls in favor of small-space-friendly wood burning stoves. These can go super authentically rustic or more paired down, but the result is the same – a soul-warming fire. Bonus points if you put your firewood on display.

Speaking of accessories, let’s address the taxidermy trope. We say skip the dead animal heads and go the more environmentally friendly (and animal friendly) route with whimsical upholstered faux taxidermy. Go from creepy to cute!

Eclectic Pillows

Plaid and buffalo check are time honored patterns of any cabin, and we are happy to pay homage to these roots. But a fun way to liven up this look is by adding an additional, unexpected style. Maybe some rug remnant pillows? Hey, why should the boho homes have a monopoly on these kilim treasures.

Danielle Clockel is the Studio Director for Balance Design Atlanta based in Candler Park. For more information, visit balancedesignatlanta.com.

JUNE 2019


Special Section | 35

In today's nonstop , fast-paced world, time is our most precious gift. Big Canoe's convenient-yet-secluded location means less time spent driving to your mountain retreat and more time spent breathing the clean mountain air, teeing off, casting a line, lounging lakeside, reading a favorite book and sharing moments worth remembering with the ones who matter most. It's the private residential getaway you're looking for and it's only about an hour outside the city.

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Wine Country

Mountain vineyards offer tastes & tours

2019 Events Gene Watson and Lorrie Morgan

Happy Together Tour June 8 The Temptations& The Tams June 21 Fireworks July 4th The Grass Roots, Box Tops,& The Association July 13 Georgia Mountain Fair July 19 - 27 Blood, Sweat& Tears August 2 Vince Gill August 9 Sawyer Brown and Exile August 31 2019 Dailey & Vincent Landfest Sept. 12 - 14 Georgia Mountain Fall Festival October 11 - 19 Appalachian Brew, Stew& Que October 26 Mountain Country Christmas in Lights



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•!t . ,_\ _"

Opens Thanksgiving Night

Highway 76 West I Hiawassee, GA I 706-896-4191 www.GEORGIAMOUNTAINFAIRGROUNDS.COM




1 I

The Cottage Vineyard and Winery 5050 Hwy 129 North Cleveland, GA 30528 cottagevineyardwinery.com Open since 2012, the vineyard hosts tastings seven days a week and also offers live music on Saturdays. Choose from a flight of five or eight wines. Cavender Creek Vineyards & Winery 3610 Cavender Creek Road Dahlonega, GA 30533 cavendercreekvineyards.com Wine tastings invite visitors to sample any four wines from the menu; souvenir glasses are available. Groups of six or more require a reservation. Boutier Winery 4506 Hudson River Church Road Danielsville, GA 30633 boutierwinery.com Hosts weekend wine tastings with a sampling of six wines; no appointment needed. Weekday wine tastings are by reservation only. Frogtown Winery 700 Ridge Point Drive Dahlonega, GA 30533 frogtown.us Offers wine tastings at various tasting rooms including locations in Hahira, Valdosta and Helen, Georgia. The Dahlonega Tasting Room, located on the main estate, features a weekend Panini Bar. Yonah Mountain Vineyards 1717 Highway 255 South Cleveland, GA 30528 yonahmountainvineyards.com Individual wine tastings are available seven days a week; no reservations are required. For weekend tastings, cave tours, group tastings or a reserve wine tasting, call (706) 878-5522 or email info@yonahmountainvineyards.com. Wolf Mountain Winery 180 Wolf Mountain Trail Dahlonega, GA 30533 wolfmountainvineyards.com

Wine tastings and tours include an estate tasting flight or a group tasting flight. Reservations are required; spring and summer hours are from Thursday to Sunday weekly. Three Sisters Vineyards 439 Vineyard Way Dahlonega, GA 30533 threesistersvineyards.com Hosts walk-in tastings Thursday through Sunday; large groups require a reservation. Features “Chicks and Chocolate” tasting which pairs six wines with various artisan chocolates. Montaluce Winery and Estates 501 Hightower Church Road Dahlonega, GA 30533 montaluce.com Offers winery tours weekdays at 2 p.m., weekends at noon. Wine hikes and general tastings do not require a reservation; private tastings with a sommelier must be booked 48 hours in advance. Habersham Vineyards & Winery 7025 South Main Street Helen, GA 30545 habershamwinery.com Located in the Nacoochee Village just outside of Helen, wine tastings include five wines and a souvenir wine glass. Tiger Mountain Vineyards 2592 Old 441 South Tiger, GA 30576 tigerwine.com Enjoying sips in the tasting room or stay for lunch or brunch in the Red Barn restaurant. The Vineyard at 37 High Holly 37 High Holly Road Scaly Mountain, NC 28755 thevineyardat37highholly.com Nestled on 20 acres of land in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, the vineyard is an ideal space for weddings, rehearsal dinners, bridal and baby showers, family reunions and company retreats.

JUNE 2019

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Mountain Fitness

Stay fit with kayaking, trail biking and rock sliding If you’re planning to make the move to North Georgia and wondering how you’ll stay fit without your local gym, the state parks have some interesting and unusual ways to get your regular exercise. With only a $5 parking fee, you can visit multiple parks on the same day and stay fit year-round.

Hike with your dog

Georgia State Parks just launched the new Tails on Trails Club, geared toward dog owners and their pups. While all of Georgia State Parks’ trails are dog-friend-

ly, the Tails on Trails Club encourages dog owners to complete seven designated hiking trails for a reward. Upon completion of all seven trails, dog owners will receive a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana. Participating parks include Fort Mountain, F.D. Roosevelt, Don Carter, Sweetwater Creek, High Falls, Fort McAllister and Red Top Mountain. Find out more at GaStateParks.org/TailsonTrails.

Paddle lakes and rivers

Don Carter State Park is the only state park on the northern edge of 38,000-acre Lake Lanier, making it the perfect paddling spot for stand-up paddleboards or paddling. For a challenging workout, take a three-mile trip to Flat Creek Island, the northernmost island of Lake Lanier. Don’t own a boat? Canoes

and/or kayaks may be rented seasonally at more than 20 state parks. Join the Park Paddlers Club and paddle 22 miles of scenic waterways to earn a T-shirt reward. More information: GaStateParks. org/Paddling.

Cycle the trails

If biking is your thing, get on the trails at Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth, Smithgall Woods State Park and Unicoi State Park near Helen, Don Carter State Park in Gainesville and Tallulah Gorge State Park. Find out more at


Splash in state parks

Those looking for a more daring dip into nature can make a splash at Tallulah Gorge State Park and Watson Mill Bridge State Park, both of which provide summer swimmers with a unique opportunity to experience a natural waterslide made of “sliding rocks.” Get more information at GaStateParks.org/Swimming. Find out more about where to get fit at GaStateParks.org.

Escape to Extraordinary. Escape to Blue Ridge. With a cabin vacation from Escape to Blue Ridge, premium amenities are as important as creating priceless memories. Year-round adventures are as abundant as picturesque mountain views. And making an escape isn’t just accepted, it’s encouraged.

Discover why our vacation cabins are North Georgia’s finest at EscapeToBlueRidge.com 855-885-4894

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Wilderness Works

Atlanta youths leave their ZIP code and troubles behind as they venture into Wilderness Works BY GRACE HUSETH The hardest part of camp is not battling mosquitos or tackling a treacherous trail; it’s saying goodbye to friends at the end of the summer. At Wilderness Works, bonds made over campfires continue year round with weekend excursions and festivities at the camp’s headquarters in Atlanta’s Grant Park. Immanuel Baptist Church on Memorial Drive is base camp for the nonprofit organization where children enjoy a library filled with empowering titles, a dining room for pizza nights, game room for pool and checkers and a sanctuary converted to a stage for talent shows and celebrations. For homeless, at-risk and vulnerable children, Wilderness Works is a haven that provides year-round enrichment, experiential education and character development. Throughout the school year, Wilderness Works hosts City Camp, a weekend experience that exposes inner city kids to a camp like atmosphere and helps leaders spot potential campers for summer opportunities. Wilderness Works is in full gear with June and July calendars packed with programming opportunities for summer camp or even more popular and adventurous outdoor living travel experiences in national parks and forests. “We are looking for the disadvantaged child who is enthusiastic and respectful,” said Bill Mickler, founder and executive director of Wilderness Works. “Many have never imagined venturing out of their zip code much less going camping in a real wild area.” Mickler grew up discovering wilderness adventure at Camp Pinnacle in Hender-

Quan Contreras (l) and Bill Mickler on the Wonderland Trail on Mount Rainier

sonville, N.C. and enjoyed national park treks throughout the United States. He helped start a Boy Scout Troop for disadvantaged youth in Macon and went on to establish day camps for youth in Atlanta from various homeless shelters. With the space at Immanuel Baptist Church available and the advice of his mentor, Dr. Robert Lupton at FCS Urban Ministries, Bill founded Wilderness Works in 1997. Wilderness Works started as a grassroots organization for disadvantaged youth, many of whom were from homeless shelters with City of Refuge, Atlanta Mission, Salvation Army Red Shield and Nicholas House. Over the years the team grew, the adventures grew longer and the nonprofit gained publicity. When Mickler was contacted by Al Roker from the Today Show in 2007, Wilderness Works was put on the map. The Today Show went on to donate a new van to the organization. In 2017, Mickler lead a group of experienced campers around Mount Rainier on the Wonderland Trail. For camper Quan Contreras, the Wonderland Trail did not live up to its name. He struggled the first few days to master hiking the slope of the trail and got altitude sickness. “You have to have perseverance and the strength to keep going on,” Contreras said. “That same year I almost dropped out of high school and used that experience of perseverance to get my high school diploma.” Now, Contreras goes to different elementary schools and shelters as recruitment coordinator for Wilderness Works. When he goes back to Atlanta Mission’s My Sister’s House homeless shelter, he’s reminded of the homelessness his family experienced for six years. “I’m indebted to that place and Bill and now recruit more kids to come to [Wilderness Works],” he said. Contreras works closely with Ebonie Martin, director of proSleeping bags keep campers cozy during both City Camp during the year and on camping excursions during the summer.

Continued on page 40

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Below, Bill Mickler (l) and Quan Contreras (middle) experienced all weather conditions on Mount Rainier RIght, Quan Contreras (l), Bill Mickler and friend Brandon at Mount Rainier

Continued from page 38 grams. Martin’s first-hand experience with economic struggle and background as a case manager for Salvation Army helps her bridge dialogue between campers and their parents. “There are a lot of communication barriers between parents and children in im-

poverished neighborhoods,” Martin said, noting that campers who recount their wilderness experiences to their parents end up inspiring the entire family more than they realize. “When they leave here excited about what they learned it gives them something to work on together as a family unit.” This summer, Wilderness Works is

taking the girls’ group to the Great Smoky Mountains and along the Appalachian Trail. Middle school boys will explore Linville Gorge in North Carolina, while older campers will travel to Boundary Waters in Minnesota and Wyoming. Lessons learned along the trail will be retold to friends and family back home until the campers return for more adventures with

City Camp and Core Camp in the fall. “At the end of camp, kids are crying, they can’t believe they have to go home. In September we are reunited and together again. That continuity is a huge thing,” Mickler said. For more information, visit wildernessworks.org.

Mountain Fun

Things to do in North Georgia and North Carolina this summer Whether you’re looking for music, arts & crafts, a good fireworks display for July 4th or some old-fashioned carnival rides, the mountains of North Georgia and North Carolina have plenty to keep you busy this summer.

showcases music from around western North Carolina. The events start between 5:30 and 6:30PM. To see this year’s line-up visit villagegreencashiersnc.com.

Pots on the Green

An entire day of fun, food, music and fireworks is on tap for Independence Day, including field games for adults and children, a cookout, duck derby, music and fireworks. Visit highlandschamber.org for more information.

This two-day ceramic art show takes place at The Village Green Gazebo in Cashiers, NC each year featuring unique pottery from local artisans. This year’s event is June 21-22. Visit villagegreencashiersnc.com for more details.

Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival

The annual event is June 22 with a lineup that includes Rhythm Jets, Kharisma Jazzmatic Funk, and Cadillac Jones along with the opportunity to taste wine from more than a dozen North Georgia wineries. Tickets and information are available at blueridgewineandjazz.com.

Highlands Village Square Art & Craft Show

It wouldn’t be summer in Highlands without the annual Village Square Arts and Craft Show, which takes place on June 29-30 and again on Aug. 24-25. Now in their 14th year, they are well known for regionally-made fine art, crafts and rustic furniture. It is sponsored by Rotary of Highlands Mountaintop, and proceeds go to their many important charitable causes, such as the Emergency Council in Highlands and efforts to eradicate polio around the world. The show is held in Kelsey-Hutchinson “Founders” Park at Pine and N. 5th streets in downtown Highlands. Visit facebook.com/villagesquareshow for more information.

Groovin’ On The Green

Groovin’ On The Green concerts are scheduled for most Friday nights on the Village Commons in Cashiers, N.C. during the summer months. This series of free concerts

July 4 Celebration in Highlands, N.C.

Christmas in July

Christmas is coming early to the Bavarian village of Helen, GA Visitors are invited to be the early bird and get started on their Christmas shopping. This family friendly event includes artists and fine craftsmen from across Northeast Georgia along with mountain music, face painting, baked goods and more. Visit helenga. org for more details.

Georgia Mountain Fair

Head to Towns County for the 69th annual Georgia Mountain Fair July 19-27. Thousands of visitors from across the region flock to the fair, which this year will feature musical performances by Pam Tillis, Neal McCoy, Ricky Skaggs, The Spinners, BJ Thomas and many more. There’s also arts & crafts, fun carnival rides, unique attractions and a glimpse into North Georgia’s rich history and culture. Visit georgiamountainfairgrounds.com for more information.

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Blue Ridge’s Only Golf and River Community

New Home Construction, 18-Holes of Extraordinary Golf Ready to Play this Summer, and a Growing Membership, the timing couldn’t be better to visit Old Toccoa Farm. For more information: oldtoccoafarm.com

OLD TOCCOA FARM REALTY, LLC 596 Curtis Switch Road, Mineral Bluff, GA 30559

Real Estate 706.946.4663 | Membership 404.277.4980 | Golf Tee Times 706.946.4653 Obtain the Property Report required by Federal law and read it before signing anything. No Federal agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. This is not intended to be an offer to sell nor a solicitation of offers to buy real estate in Old Toccoa Farm by residents of Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania or South Carolina, or any other jurisdiction where prohibited by law. No offering can be made to residents of New York OLD TOCCOA FARM, LLC AND ITS PRINCIPALS TAKING PART IN THE PUBLIC OFFERING OR SALE ARE NOT INCORPORATED IN, LOCATED IN, OR RESIDENT IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK. THE OFFERING IS NEITHER MADE IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK NOR MADE TO THE RESIDENTS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK. THE OFFERING IS NOT DIRECTED TO ANY PERSON OR ENTITY IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK BY, OR ON BEHALF OF, OLD TOCCOA FARM, LLC OR ANYONE ACTING WITH OLD TOCCOA FARM, LLC’S KNOWLEDGE. NO OFFERING OR PURCHASE OR SALE OF ANY PROPERTY SHALL TAKE PLACE AS A RESULT OF THIS OFFERING, UNTIL ALL REGISTRATION AND FILING REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE NEW YORK MARTIN ACT AND THE NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL’S REGULATIONS ARE COMPLIED WITH; A WRITTEN EXEMPTION IS OBTAINED PURSUANT TO AN APPLICATION IS GRANTED PURSUANT TO AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH COOPERATIVE POLICY STATEMENTS #1 OR #7; OR A “NO-ACTION” REQUEST IS GRANTED.

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Room With A View

Amicalola Falls Lodge completes major renovation Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge, one of North Georgia’s most scenic mountain retreats, recently completed extensive outdoor renovations, expanding the lookout veranda at the main lodge. The terrace, nestled beautifully on the mountainside, offers even more space to take in the unspoiled views of the North Georgia mountains, providing the perfect spot for relaxation, weddings and private events. This addition to the property boasts 4,600 square feet and blends perfectly into the rustic yet modern design of Amicalola Falls Lodge, which opened nearly 30 years ago. New features include a cozy fire pit, ample seating areas and a covered reception area, all complimented by natural stone exteriors. The space can play host to events for up to 130 people. “We’re excited to offer such a beautiful, versatile space for our guests,” said Libby Cook, general manager of Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge. “From quiet weekend getaways to festive weddings, our newly expanded veranda is the perfect setting for any occasion.” Most recently, Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge renovated the Maple Restaurant, adding an induction buffet and additional space for seating with panoramic mountain and valley views. Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge is home to 829 acres of Georgia wilderness in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The mountaintop retreat features a 57-room main lodge with breathtaking views, 14 cabins and 25 campsites. Popular attractions include the 729-foot Amicalola Falls, the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, and beginner to expert-level hiking trails, including the eight-mile approach trail leading to Springer Mountain, the southern end of the 2,150-mile Appalachian Trail. As part of the Adventure Lodges of Georgia program, Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge offers a host of outdoor adventures including zipline tours, 3-D archery, GPS scavenger hunts and more. To book a room and find out more information, visit AmicalolaFalls.com.



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JUNE 2019

Special Section | 43


Northwest Georgia offers visions of other places, other times 2



3 5

BY JOE EARLE A drive up I-75 may call to mind places to pick your own apples or watch the leaves change color in the fall, but there’s much more to see. Northwest Georgia can show you surprising things: dinosaur skeletons and space capsules; folk artist Howard Finster’s exotic visions of distant worlds and celebrations of this one; imagined scenes celebrating cowboy life; and the actual place where an Indian nation prospered before its people were forced to march west on the Trail of Tears. Here are five places you might find worth a trip.

aradise Garden 1 P Summerville

Rev. Howard Finster claimed he “took the pieces you threw away and put them together...” into art. The folk artist, who died in 2001, gained fame by making tens of thousands of works (he numbered them) in order to spread the gospel and his views of this world and others. He also somehow found the time and energy to assemble the extraordinary place known as Paradise Garden. Using concrete, wood, mirrors, discarded tools and bicycles, shards of pottery, baubles and even the liner to a box of chocolates, Finster cobbled together buildings, flowers and colorful sidewalks into a place where visitors casually can stroll through what feels like a piece of another world. The garden now is operated by a nonprofit

foundation. Where: 200 North Lewis Street, about 3 miles north of downtown Summerville, just off U.S. 27.Take Exit 306 from I-75, turn west on Ga. 140. Turn right on U.S. 27. Take U.S. 27 through Summerville. Look for mile marker 13 and turn right onto Rena Street. Follow the signs and go about three blocks to turn into the entrance to the garden. Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. Cost: adults aged 18 to 61, $7; seniors 62 or older, $6.50; youth aged 6 to 17, $5.50. For more: gastateparks.org/NewEchota.

Western 3 Booth Art Museum Cartersville

Cost: $15 adults; $10 seniors (55 and older); $5 students; younger than 12, free.

Gemstones, dinosaurs, cars, airplanes and space travel are among the scientific subjects touched on in the displays within this sprawling structure in Cartersville. The museum’s exhibits explore places from the center of the Earth to outer space, and examine a century of changes in transportation.

For more: paradisegardenfoundation.org, (706) 808-0800.

ew Echota Historic Site 2 N Calhoun New Echota once housed the capital of another nation. In 1825, Cherokee lawmakers established their capital at this site. During the next decade, it was home to the Cherokee nation’s legislature and courts, and the first Indianlanguage newspaper. The community also gave its name to the treaty that relinquished Cherokee claims to lands east of the Mississippi River and led to their forced removal to the west on the infamous Trail of Tears. Today, visitors can learn about the history of the Cherokee in Georgia, walk among a dozen original and reconstructed buildings, watch a hand-operated press print a mock newspaper page and even hear a recording of “Amazing Grace” sung in Cherokee. Where: 1211 Chatsworth Highway NE, Calhoun, Ga., 30701. Located in Calhoun one mile east of I-75, Exit 317 on Highway 225.

Science Museum 4 Tellus Cartersville

Where: 100 Tellus Drive, Cartersville, Ga., 30120. Take I-75 to exit 293. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but closed on major holidays. Cost: Adults, $15.95 + tax; children (3 – 17), $11.95 + tax; students, $11.95 + tax; seniors (65+), $13.95 + tax. Cowboys in Cartersville? Why not? The Booth promises one of the largest collections of western art in the South. It features realistic and abstract painting, sculpture and a collection of portraits and signatures of American presidents. A larger-than-life cowboy riding a bucking horse in a sculpture out front sets the tone; inside, works by more than 200 artists examine the mythic west, the modern west and the lives of westerners. Where: 501 Museum Drive, Cartersville, Ga., 30120.Take I-75 to Exit 288. Turn west and follow Main Street (Ga. 113 /61) about 2.2 miles into Cartersville’s business district. Turn right on Gilmer Street, go 2 blocks under the bridge. The museum is on the left. Hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m to 5 p.m. Cost: Adults $12; 65 and over, $10; students $9; children 12 and under free. For more: boothmuseum.org.

For more: tellusmuseum.org, (770) 606-5700.

History Museum 5 Bartow Cartersville This local history museum focuses on the settlement and development of Bartow County. Visitors can check out Cherokee and pioneer cabins, sit in a one-room schoolhouse or learn about the Civil War and the early textile industry, the museum’s webpage promises. Where: 4 E. Church St., Cartersville, Ga., 30120. Take I-75 north to Exit 288 and drive into downtown Cartersville. Hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: Adults, $6.50; seniors/students, $5.50; children younger than 5, free. For more: bartowhistorymuseum.org, (770) 387-2774.

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