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JUNE 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 6

Sandy Springs Reporter WORTH KNOWING

Women veterans find online home P18

HEAD FOR THE HILLS PAGES 21-27

CELEBRATING THE CLASS OF 2020 PAGE 14

Group preserving city’s past faces uncertain future

Return to the river

AROUND TOWN

On pandemic politeness

BY BOB PEPALIS

P20 ROBIN’S NEST

A hike down memory lane

PHIL MOSIER

Tubers ride the Chattahoochee River at the National Recreation Area’s Powers Island area on May 23. They were among many who flocked to the river on Memorial Day weekend, following partial pandemic closures of the park. As many kayakers and tubers entered the water, social distancing was rare and masks were nowhere to be seen.

P19

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

Restaurants seek elbow room for distanced dining BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

From picnic tables in parking lots to dining on strips of shopping center landscaping, restaurants returning after pandemic shutdowns are looking for room to spread out for social distancing. And no one knows how long that will last. Or how long it can last. Can restaurants survive with the lower capacity as they spread tables apart until the pandemic is

contained or a vaccine is found? How long will neighbors and city inspectors have patience for seating snatched from parking spaces and sidewalks? Experts and local restaurateurs say the pandemic could push the industry to a trend of building in more outdoor dining and drive-thrus. “As a longer-term trend, I think ‘alfresco’ and outdoor seating has always been a See RESTAURANTS on page 31

Heritage Sandy Springs, the nonprofit organization that long tended the area’s past, now faces an uncertain future. The city is taking over operations of its museum, farmers market and concert series in the wake of the pandemic’s economic impact, in a deal announced in late April. But the situation was shaky before that, with the loss of an executive director last fall and, behind the scenes, a plan to postpone the 35-year-old Sandy Springs Festival. At this point, HSS will maintain its nonprofit status and control of its historic assets. “We are not out of business as an organization. It’s just that we’re sort of out of the real estate business,” said Bob Beard, president of the HSS board. “We’re totally focused on finding a way to have historic exhibits back up and running someday, some way. We’ll just reinvent ourselves some way.” HSS long predates the incorporation of the city. It was founded in 1985 as the Sandy Springs Historic Community Foundation Inc., when it set its mission to promote history, steward a community park and enhance the cultural identity of Sandy Springs. See GROUP on page 11

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2 | Community

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Phased reopening coming for City Hall, arts events BY BOB PEPALIS

Including: CBT, DBT, and Holistic Program Options

The city of Sandy Springs has outlined a tentative phased reopening plan for City Hall and other functions, with in-person City Council meetings possibly returning June 15 and community events no earlier than July 6. Even if that schedule holds, there will be new precautions and ways of doing business, such as live streaming of council meetings — something the city did not offer before the pandemic — and limited attendance at events. The first phase qui-

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etly began May 18 with the unannounced return of some employees to the still-shuttered City Hall. The city wrestled with multiple scenarios for events and staffing during a budget workshop and a council meeting, both held virtually May 19. They also described the phased approach for reopening the city’s parks and other venues. Communications Director Sharon Kraun explained the framework created by a city reopening committee and said actual dates will depend on public health officials’ guidelines. Kraun said entry to City Hall and events would require temperature checks and screenings, and adherence to social distancing guidelines.

Phase 1, May 18 Staff began to transition back to work at City Hall. Many continue to telework from home. All employees are using a single entry point and are screened for COVID-19 symptoms, including by having their temperatures taken. Meetings with developers and potential bidders on city projects have worked well virtually, Kraun

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said. Plans are to continue in that mode, possibly as a permanent change.

Phase 1.5, June 1 Some public park features to reopen, including tennis courts; the Morgan Falls dog park and paddle shop; and the Hammond Park gymnastics camps. Cleaning and sanitizing protocols would be observed. The city would encourage participation limits for social distancing purposes.

Phase 2, June 15 In-person meetings of the City Council and city boards and commissions to resume in the Studio Theatre. Live streaming on Facebook Live and Zoom would continue as an option.

Phase 3, July 6 The earliest date for or city-sponsored events, but under social distancing guidelines. Free events would be ticketed to limit attendance, and entry points would be restricted in what Kraun said would be a “labor-intensive” process. Still being Let Your Smile Change The World

worked out is table seating and food truck arrangements at public concerts. “What we don’t want to do is create a situation where things are kind of at odds with each

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other,” said Shaun Albrechtson, executive director of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. “Moving forward is challenging for sure.” Events normally held in the Performing Arts Center could shift outdoors to meet anticipated updates to social distancing guidelines. The Byers Theater could see smaller attendance, closer to 300 rather than its 1,000-seat capacity, said Albrechtson. He said in discussions he’s had with other industry professionals the

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resumption of events at public facilities. The Sandy Springs Farmers Market already resumed business using curbside

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The City Springs conference center would reopen to groups of under 50. Smaller groups would be able to use the former Heritage Sandy Springs building on Blue Stone Road. Health safety protocols would be followed at every venue, with temperate checks, staggered meeting times, a limited number of events and rentals to keep SS


JUNE 2020

Community | 3

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groups separated. Special event permits won’t be issued until phase three, so road races and events that impact the community and traffic must wait. The organizations requesting special event permits must share their plans with the city in their applications. “Applicants must include health safety plans including social distancing, cleaning and sanitization and worker safety,” Kraun said.

Fireworks canceled; Lantern Parade becomes at-home event

VIRTUAL COMMUNITY FEEDBACK: Visit bit.ly/EFIC-Virtualsessions The first 50 people to register will receive compensation for their time.

Emory University is conducting a research study to learn if either of two strategies for monitoring and treating patients with severe traumatic brain injury in the intensive care unit (ICU) is more likely to help them get better. Because head injury is a life threatening condition requiring immediate treatment, some patients will be enrolled without consent if a family member or representative is not rapidly available. Before the study starts, we will consult with the community. We welcome your feedback and questions. For more information or to decline participation in this study, please visit boost3trial. org or contact our study staff at 404-778-1762. Primary Investigator: Dr. Jonathan Ratcliff, MD Study Coordinator: Nicholas Stanley, MS

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The city is canceling its July 4 fireworks and turning the annual Lantern Parade into an at-home event. The annual Independence Day “Stars and Stripes” fireworks have been held at the Concourse Center in Perimeter Center. The Lantern Parade would have entered its fifth year at Morgan Falls Overlook Park in the city’s North End, where participants in previous years made and carried homemade lanterns, while staff placed other lanterns in the Chattahoochee River that were later retrieved. Now it will be a “parade-in-place” event, the city says. On June 19-21, residents will be encouraged to decorate the front areas of their homes with blue lanterns to show support for healthcare workers and first responders. Materials for making lanterns will be available in certain retail locations to be announced, and free tutorials will be available online for constructing them.

A study of emergency care involving victims of severe brain trauma is to be performed in this area.

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4 | Public Safety

Police Briefs

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COVID-19 at ‘critical point’ in Georgia, expert warns

S US PEC T C H A RGED I N GA . 400 HIT-AND -R U N

The suspect wanted in the hit-and-run death of a Roswell man on Ga. 400 May 10 is in custody, according to the Sandy Springs Police Department. Kiara Stinner, 31, of Brunswick, Georgia, faces charges of vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving, driving while license suspended and hit-andrun. Stinner is accused of being the driver of a minivan that hit and killed Orlando St. Louis II, 23, of Roswell. The incident also seriously injured a passenger in the minivan, SSPD said. St. Louis was the driver of a car that was disabled on the highway after being hit by another vehicle, which fled the scene. He was killed while attempting to get into another motorist’s vehicle for safety, according to SSPD. SSPD is still attempting to identify the vehicle that caused the initial accident. It is described only as a black or dark vehicle. The accident occurred around 12:40 a.m. on Ga. 400 northbound near the North Springs MARTA Station ramp. Anyone with information can contact SSPD Traffic Unit Investigator N. Trujillo at 770-551-2563 or ntrujillo@sandyspringsga.gov.

GEO R GI A S TATE PATROL C H A SE END S IN CR ASH

A Georgia State Patrol pursuit of a car from downtown Atlanta to Sandy Springs May 19 ended in a crash and the arrest of at least one suspect, while others remain at large. According to GSP and the Sandy Springs Police Department, the incident began around noon at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Northside Drive in Atlanta. Officers with GSP’s Capitol Police division attempted a traffic stop on a Dodge Charger for allegedly reckless driving. The driver did not stop, instead getting onto I-85 northbound and then Ga. 400. The driver exited Ga. 400 at the Glenridge Connector ramp and crashed. Four suspects got out of the car and ran into a residential neighborhood around Falcon Chase Lane and South Trimble Road, near Ridgeview Park and Ridgeview Charter Middle School. A hunt for the suspects ensued and involved officers on foot as well as in a helicopter, according to a resident. The police agencies gave different information about arrests made by SSPD, with GSP saying one suspect was apprehended and SSPD saying two. GSP did not comment on charges, but according to an SSPD spokesperson, the suspect or suspects were initially charged by GSP with obstruction and traffic violations. Items suspected of being stolen were found in the car, according to SSPD.

POL I CE OF F I C ER GETS AWA RD FO R ATT EMP T TO SAVE C H I L D’ S LIFE

Sandy Springs Police Officer Myron Maret has received the department’s Award of Merit for an attempted rescue of a 2-year-old. In the Dec. 10, 2019 incident, Maret was the first responder to the call of the child choking on a piece of cheese. Working before an ambulance arrived, Maret performed CPR and was able to get the child’s pulse beating before transportation to a hospital, according to SSPD. The child survived another five days, but ultimately died. “Although the family was obviously devastated by this, they expressed their gratitude for being allowed to spend those extra five days with their baby,” said SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Salvador Ortega. For his actions that prolonged SPECIAL Police Chief Ken DeSimone, left, gives the the child’s life, Maret was recomAward of Merit to Officer Myron Maret. mended for the award by SSPD and Patrick Flaherty, the section chief of EMS at the Sandy Springs Fire Department.\

Dr. Carlos del Rio speaks during the May 21 Latin American Association’s Compañeros Awards event.

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

The COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia appears to be in a “steady state,” but also a “critical point” where precautions must remain to prevent it from growing, a prominent expert told the Brookhaven-based Latin American Association at its May 21 annual awards event. Dr. Carlos del Rio is a professor of infectious diseases at Emory’s School of Medicine, chair of the Department of Global Health at its Rollins School of Public Health, and co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research. He has appeared frequently in local and national media commenting on COVID-19, recently expressing caution about Georgia’s reopening of previously shuttered businesses. Del Rio spoke during the 31st annual Compañeros Awards presented by the LAA, which is based on Buford Highway. Usually held at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, the event this year was held virtually due to the pandemic and can be viewed online here. “In the state of Georgia, we are right now in a sort of steady state,” said del Rio. “The number of cases are stable or probably starting to come down,” but hospital intensive care unit capacity remains a concern, as locally they are about 70% full, he said. Economic damage from business closures can have health impacts, too, he said. But as business returns, he said pandemic precautions need to remain: mask-wearing, hand-washing, avoidance of face-touching, and regular cleaning of surfaces. Del Rio noted that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, with an increase in cases among Hispanic residents, primarily those working in the chicken industry. He said that involves poverty and other social factors that make it difficult for people to avoid the disease through sheltering in place and social distancing. “So when I think about COVID, I think that we’re all clearly at risk, but some people are higher risk, and they’re higher-risk because of social conditions,” he said. “So bottom line, we are at a critical point in this epidemic,” said del Rio. “I think as the country’s beginning to open, we don’t want to see an increase in the number of cases, so we want to continue practicing social distancing. We want to continue being careful, wearing masks, and above all, we want to be taking care of ourselves. “Because this summer could be where we see an increased number of cases if we don’t take this seriously, if we think this is gone, and if we don’t do the right things,” he added. “And that could be quite devastating for our healthcare system and for our communities

SS


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PEOPLECARE

Townhomes planned for former animal clinic

The 208 Sandy Springs Place property as seen in a 2019 Google Maps image.

HAPPENS HERE

SPECIAL

BY BOB PEPALIS A developer plans to build townhomes on a property that once housed an animal clinic in the downtown area. EdgeLine LLC of Marietta is planning the project at 208 Sandy Springs Place, the former home of North Atlanta Animal Medical. EdgeLine received a demolition permit on March 13 for the one-story, 4,524-squarefoot building currently on the site and has until Sept. 9 to complete that work. ATG of Woodstock has the contract for demolition on the property, according to permit information on the city website. EdgeLine bought the property in 2019 for about $1.6 million, said Rick Ferguson of ATL Commercial Real Estate of Brookhaven, who brokered the deal. He said townhomes are planned for the property, but could not say the number of units. EdgeLine did not respond to requests for comment. The current structure was built in 1968, according to Fulton County property records, and the property encompasses about six-tenths of an acre. The property is behind the Kroger in the City Walk shopping center, a few doors down from the City Walk Heights townhome development, and across the street from the parking deck for Square One Apartments.

Site once pegged for Antico Pizza to be bought for road projects BY BOB PEPALIS A Hammond Drive site that once drew excitement for a possible Antico Pizza Napoletana restaurant will be bought by the city for an intersection and road-widening projects. The $1.55 million purchase of 336 Hammond and an adjacent property at 6049 Boylston Drive was approved by the City Council May 5. The property at 336 Hammond is a former lawn ornament dealer’s location. An Antico restaurant was proposed for the site in 2018, but the deal fell through last year, with the developer blaming delays in the city’s permit process. The adjacent Boylston Drive parcel was part of plan for that project and owned by the same company, 336 Hamm LLC. The city had designated 336 Hammond as possibly being displaced for its Hammond Drive widening concept. In February, the city said it was among the properties that could be affected by the controversial widening idea. Martin called the property purchase a “protective buy,” one of many Sandy Springs has made to secure right of way for the widening project. The city so far has spent about $9.5 million on to buy 27 properties for the potential widening of Hammond between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive. In addition, the city has a plan to realign the Hammond/Boylston intersection, which would take right of way. Without the property, the intersection project would at least be more expensive, if not undoable, Public Works Director Marty Martin said. Martin told the council that staff used sales of comparable properties when negotiating with the property owner. An appraisal was not sought. SS

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6 | Community

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The shift to virtual working and education forced by the coronavirus pandemic is here to stay, says former Georgia Tech president and current Regents professor George “Bud” Peterson. “I don’t think we’ll ever get back to the old normal,” said Peterson, speaking May 21 as part of the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s “Return to the Perimeter” virtual discussion series about post-pandemic business. The lingering challenge of developing a COVID-19 vaccine or similar medical measures is one reason the “old normal” isn’t coming soon, said Peterson. But the changes will SPECIAL be even more long-lasting than that, George “Bud” Peterson. he said. “But the main reason I say… I don’t think we’ll return to the normal is that we’ve all changed. We’ve changed in a lot of ways. We’ve learned to live virtually,” Peterson said. “There are a lot of 50- and 60-year-olds that today know how to communicate the way 15-year-olds do, and three months ago they didn’t,” he said. Like many other economic sectors, higher education faced major challenges in responding to the pandemic. Georgia Tech was positioned well for the move to online instruction when the University of Georgia System closed all campuses, said Peterson, but it still wasn’t easy. “About six years ago we started an online master’s program in computer science,” and expanded offerings from there, said Peterson. Since then, Georgia Tech has produced about 10% of all online master’s graduates in computer science in the country, he said. But the shutdown two-thirds of the way into the semester and just a week before spring break was a big change for Georgia Tech. Peterson said if you had told Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Georgia State University that you wanted them to teach all courses online in pre-pandemic times, it would have taken years to plan and implement. This year they made that transition in two weeks. “It was a disruptive change,” he said. The impact on higher education and business show that not everything can be done virtually, but a lot can, he said. The transition “helped us realize how important these personal interactions, these face-to-face interactions were,” Peterson said. What’s made distance learning so successful and adopted widely is the comfort level students have working in the virtual environment, he said. “I’m 67 and joke I don’t have any friends I haven’t met,” Peterson said, but that is different for his students. The big question is, will the students return for the next semester? And will the colleges still be there? “Some folks postulate that we’re going to see a decrease in the numbers of institutions nationally,” he said. He pointed to Arizona State University, which has a 75,000-student population in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. But they have another 80,000 students enrolled in online degree programs. Technology entrepreneurs are another important sector to Georgia Tech. Peterson said that in the wake of the pandemic, he expects venture capital will decrease with the hit the economy is taking.

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10 | Art & Entertainment

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High school students give poetry a voice BY JUDITH SCHONBAK

He is a strong advocate of Poetry Out Loud among teachers and students alike and has been involved with POL for 15 of his 16 years Fourteen high school students from the greater Atlanta and cenas a teacher. “POL can help change the culture and perspective of tral regions of the state gathered on stage at the Kennedy Theatre poetry when students get emotionally invested in interpreting and at the Atlanta History Center on March 1. They had come to present performing poetry in high school and beyond,” he said. their selected poems in the regional finals of the annual national Breite is a poet in his own right. He has published a chapbook Poetry Out Loud program. The three or four students with the highof poetry, The Knife Collector, and more than 100 poems in the last est scores would go on to the state finals, held at the Atlanta Histoeight years in various journals. ry Center, and, ultimately, to the national finals in Washington, D.C. He encourages his students to go for the POL experience. “At It was a full house in the intimate theater with an audience of the class level, it’s not unusual for even shy students to try it. Some SPECIAL family, friends and teachers to support them. Also in-house were students hope to improve public speaking skills through POL, and From left, Catherine Wang and Jesse Breite. four judges charged with evaluating the students’ performances on many succeed in that,” he added. “The more surprising element,” he each of two poems. said, “is that male athletes also join the competition. It can be a cool thing to do and the enAmong the contenders was Catherine Wang, a Yale-bound senior at The Westminster ticement of extra credit motivates many students.” Schools in Sandy Springs. It was her second year participating in Poetry Out Loud. She was Choosing a poem from the anthology may sound daunting. Wang said it helps that the chosen for the 2019 state finals that first year. collection is categorized. Last year she chose message-driven works, but this year searched Each year thousands of students across the country take on POL’s rigorous, exacting for poems with strong visual imagery. Her choices were contemporary works: “Dragons” by and competitive effort all about poetry. For Wang, her enthusiasm for poetry blossomed Devin Johnston and “A Certain Kind of Eden” by Kay Ryan. in a sophomore creative writing class, heightened by recitation of poetry in English class. For students, the effort is demanding. They must recite from memory, and Poetry Out She does not write poetry, she said, but loves reading and interpreting it. Presenting it Loud has a set of judging criteria based on “accuracy, physical presence, voice and articulavia POL has been her way of sharing and furthering others’ enthusiasm. “POL has been a tion, evidence of understanding, dramatic appropriateness, and overall performance.” Exgreat way to meet people from other schools and communities, too,” she added. perts and Instructors from the literary and performing arts serve as judges. Poetry Out Loud begins in the classroom in the fall semester in schools that have reg“The poem must speak through you,” said Wang. “Understanding every single word in istered to participate. School instructors judge the presentations on the same POL evaluathe poem is critical,” she emphasized. Plenty of practice is a must too. Wang practiced with tion criteria used throughout the levels of competitions. Wang said about 10 of 14 students hand-writing the work, voice recordings, videos and performing for her family. “They will in her senior class participated this year. She was the only one selected to go on to the allsee things like gestures and speech that you don’t catch yourself.” school level. The 2020 GA POL state finals were scheduled to take place at the Atlanta History Center For all levels of the Poetry Out Loud competition, a student chooses works from an anin mid-April, but the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to those plans. GA POL thology of more than 1,000 classic and contemporary poems. At least one poem must be 25 opted to hold the state finals virtually. Nine state winners submitted videos of their presenlines or fewer and another must be written before the 20th century. For regional finals, two tations to the judges. Traditionally, the state champion would go on to represent Georgia at poems are required; for state and national finals, three poems are required. the national Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, D.C., but the finals were canceled beThe anthology assembled by POL spans the spectrum of subjects. “The selection is dicause of the coronavirus. verse enough to give everyone a voice,” said Jesse Breite, Upper School Language Arts inPoetry Out Loud is a partnership of National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundastructor at Westminster Schools. tion, and state arts agencies. In Georgia, it is Georgia Council for the Arts.

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Group preserving city’s past faces uncertain future Continued from page 1 The Heritage Green site, which sits between Sandy Springs Circle and Blue Stone Road, is where the city’s namesake spring flows. The site is owned by the city as a park, but was operated by the nonprofit. In recent years there had been signs of the city exerting more control over Heritage, including a slowdown on a redesign of the spring’s shelter and a city plan for a Cultural Center that will occupy space once pegged for a Heritage expansion. On April 30 came an announcement that HSS ended its agreement to operate the Heritage Green site, saying the pandemic was draining the organization’s re-

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serve funds with no revenue possible. Beard said the loss of rental income from the site and cancellation of its income-generating events made it impossible for HSS to continue operating the site. City spokesperson Sharon Kraun said the city intends to keep the museum operations in place and is in talks with HSS board members about its future. The nonprofit organization relied primarily on two sources of income: rental income and donations. “During the spring is probably our seasonal peak period for rentals,” Beard said. The Heritage Green site, which Fulton County transferred to the city upon its incorporation in December 2005, is the lo-

cation of the five freshwater springs from which Sandy Springs got its name. The lawn area is popular for weddings and other events. The Williams-Payne House at 6075 Sandy Springs Circle includes the Garden Room event space in its lower level and the Museum in the top level. A building on Blue Stone Road held administrative offices; a library and archives; a board room; a community room; and Heritage Hall. An entertainment lawn was used for the organization’s Concerts by the Springs. Cancellation of group events through the end of June due to the pandemic cut off that big source of revenue. Rental income in 2018 brought the or-

ganization $312,395, according to forms filed with the IRS by HSS. Admissions totaled $50,427, with the farmers market adding $27,850 and food and beverage $6,100. In 2018, Heritage Sandy Springs recorded revenue of $766,906. But its expenses exceeded that at $859,468, leaving it with a net loss of $92,562 on the year. That reduced its fund balances to $402,034. With the executive director’s retirement in October 2019 and replacement by a non-paid board member, salary and benefit costs were reduced for the fourth quarter of 2019 and in 2020. But the total Continued on page 12


12 | Community

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We were two weeks away from missing a payroll. We weren’t going to wait for the employees’ last day to say we can’t pay anymore. BOB BEARD PRESIDENT OF THE HSS BOARD

The Williams-Payne House and museum that Heritage Sandy Springs long operated.

Continued from page 11 revenue from rental income and admissions was effectively zero in 2019 with the pandemic. “We were two weeks away from missing a payroll. We weren’t going to wait for the employees’ last day to say we can’t pay anymore,” said Beard. The four full-time employees were laid off and their last day was April 24. HSS was also eyeing changes to its trademark annual street festival, a local September tradition. Attributing lower attendance in recent years to construction and weather, Beard said HSS had already decided before the pandemic not to hold the festival this fall. “We made a conscious attempt to move it to spring before this happened,” Beard said. Still in discussion is exactly how the city will take over operations. “The real estate is owned by the city, always has been. We had a phenomenal rental agreement with them,” Beard said. The organization paid the city $1 in rent per year, and that agreement is what will be terminated. HSS and the city have an agreement in principle. “We’re actually still negotiating the final wording on the city on that,” Beard said. “We’re working out the final logistics of how we’re going to have the agreement. The whole historic program, arts and history, will continue in some way, shape or form.”

Kraun said the city’s Performing Arts Center team will take over the rental operations and events. “We plan to continue rental of the meeting and event spaces, which we expect to generate revenue as part of our City Springs rental programming,” Kraun said. The city intends to continue operating the museum, she said. While HSS packed away and moved its offices, outreach education materials and decorations that were reused at its events, the museum exhibits and its archives remain in place at the site. Beard said his group is in talks with the city to find a place for the exhibits and the archives, which document the history of Sandy Springs. “The physical museum artifacts are still sitting where they were before, Beard said. “The permanent exhibits are still there.” That includes the latest exhibit, “Grit, Gumption, & Grace: The Women of Sandy Springs.” “If the pandemic was gone, we could work out with the city reopening the museum,” Beard said. He said HSS had plenty of volunteers who worked at the museum as docents who would come back. Since the organization no longer had control of the site, it was required to return historic items that were on loan to HSS under custodial rules and guidelines. The exhibits and historical items that the group owns remain in place, at least for now.

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City prepares for 21% budget cut BY BOB PEPALIS Heading into fiscal year 2021 during a pandemic, the City Council is preparing for a 21% budget cut and an 11% reduction in revenue. City Manager Andrea Surratt, speaking at a May 19 council workshop, stressed the proposed budget adopts a wait-and-see approach to revenue projections because of the pandemic’s uncertainty. The council is expected to adopt a budget following a June 16 hearing. Surratt said she expects a proposal to fund a new Fire Station No. 2 and a possible public safety headquarters through financing. Surratt and Mayor Rusty Paul said they expect budget amendments several months into fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1, which may restore some funding. “We are not planning to add positions at this time and we are taking our time to fill positions that remain vacant,” Surratt said. An operating budget of $17.8 million includes $8.2 million in funds for the Public Facilities Authority to pay principal and interest on bonds for the City Springs project and other public facilities. The Performing Arts Center would cost an estimated $1.6 million. Paying subcontractors for jobs including mowing, street sweeping, road striping, traffic signals, stormwater maintenance and street maintenance adds another $4.65 million to the operating budget. And debt service for fire trucks adds in another $1.16 million. One area that Surratt said staff didn’t propose new funds was a downtown Cultural Center that is in the planning stages. But the city has a balance of $2.4 million set aside for it. Surratt suggested the council may want a smaller-scale version of the center. A design proposal in 2019 estimated its cost above $8.6 million. With shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the City Springs venues has hosted an event for eight weeks, with no date known when they will reopen. A committee dedicated to planning the reopening put city events and special events in phase three of its plans, which is not expected to happen any sooner than July 6. A speaker upgrade for Byers Theater and structure reinforcements of the City Green stage are in the budget, but Surratt said they could be delayed. The combined cost might top $500,000.

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Development Authority rejects idea of loans for pandemic-hit businesses BY BOB PEPALIS The Sandy Springs Development Authority decided May 14 against an idea of using its reserve funds to help businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic through a revolving loan fund. Andrea Worthy, the city’s economic development director, told the board members she had investigated how other agencies have set up revolving loan programs to help businesses cope with the coronavirus crisis. A city of Atlanta and Fulton County Development Authority program with $2 million in funding had so many applicants that in 15 minutes the funds were exhausted. Those loans ranged from $20,000 to $50,000. Worthy said an outside agency experienced in administering loan programs ran that program. Worthy said she and Caroline Davis, an economic development specialist for the city, don’t have the resources to administer a loan program. But turning it over to an outside party eliminates the ability to specify what types of businesses qualify for a loan. Chairman Chip Collins said that, with only about $300,000 in reserve funds, the

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authority doesn’t have enough money to make a difference for more than a handful of businesses. “I think the concept is certainly worthy and admirable,” he said. “But would we really be making a difference? Is this the highest and best use of our funds to just help a number of businesses, just the lucky ones who are first to sign up?” “I would agree with you that I don’t think it’s enough funds to make a difference. I’m not sure we want to commit the full amount of our reserves to any program,” said board member Jimmy Glenn, who is also a candidate for the Fulton County Board of Education. Collins said he believes the authority won’t have a shortage of opportunities for assistance in the next 18 months. Collins and other board members agreed that small businesses in the North End – and now with the coronavirus, perhaps all over the city – need help and they should look for ways to offer assistance. Worthy said the staff will continue to look for ways to pool authority resources with other entities that make sense.

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14 | Education

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Celebrating the Class of 2020 The coronavirus pandemic threw many graduation ceremony traditions into disarray. Car parades of teachers, students and parents became a popular stand-in for the traditional diploma walk-through. The following are the valedictorians and salutatorians of the class of 2020 as they were announced by the Reporter’s press time. For updates, see ReporterNewspapers.net. Chamblee High School Nevin Aresh and Hattie Carter (V), Md Alam and Rachael Jackson (S) Cross Keys High School Kristy Nguyen (V), Kitty Leung (S) Dunwoody High School Sophia Gavalas (V), Justin Jasper (S)

Pace Academy Aidan Gannon (V), Sophie Lettes (S) Riverwood International Charter School Hayes Miller (V), Chandler McCleskey (S) St. Pius X Catholic High School Nicole Gresham (V), Daniel Buckley (S)

The Weber School Caroline Schneider (V), Isaac Goldman (S) The Westminster Schools Anup Bottu and Lauren Kennedy (V), Albert Liang and Laura Sams (S)

Clockwise from top picture, The Class of 2020 is celebrated in a May 16 car parade sponsored by the Dunwoody North Civic Association. The parade had two dozen graduates and more than 30 vehicles. Dunwoody Police vehicles lead the May 16 parade. Eighth-graders at St. Martin’s Episcopal School were celebrated in a May 21 car parade on the school’s Brookhaven campus. An in-person ceremony was scheduled for July 30. A North Atlanta High senior waves from a May 13 car parade through Buckhead and Brookhaven that celebrated students from various local public and private schools at various grade levels. SPECIAL

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School Nick Reddy (V), Matthew Raeside (S) The Lovett School Sarah Packman (V), Lily Siegel (S) Marist School Lucas Gonzalez (V), Charlie Callahan (S) North Atlanta High School Emily Song (V), Soleil Golden (S)

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Education | 15

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CONGRATULATIONS TO ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL CLASS OF 2020!

Blaise Achecar Michael Agard Jeremiah Allen Vaghul Anbil Cole Arndt Katie Atwater Ava Ault Julia Balser Cal Barwis Sam Becker Henry Beery Jones Bell Lauren Bernard Tom Bethea Mackenzie Boden Paige Bogard Jackson Borden Clyde Bresnahan John Thomas Brooks Davis Burch Elise Burns Aiden Camillo Anna Carroll Luke Casey Maggie Chambers Nathan Chang Jenny Chen Conner Chevalier Taylor Cohen William Collier Hannah Crenshaw Clayton Cross Will Cumbie Charlotte Dalke Baird Daniel Dobbs Davie Savannah Dean Blake Degner Emma D’Emilio Price Doherty Anna Eiland Hunter Fankhauser Gus Feinour Emilio Ferrara Harper Finch James Fite Colin French Virginia French Ellie Friedman Alex Garcia-Civita Jake Garrett Kaitlyn Garrett Barnett Gibson Kasey Goldenberg Ralston Goldfarb

2020!

Lanier Gordon Riya Govin Matias Gowens Kendall Greene Joshua Gregory Nichelle Haley Stewart Hammond Robson Harber Chauncey Hill Cammie Holmes Will Houk Molly Hubbard Hudson Huffard Brett Hull Isabelle Johnson Dotsie Jones Mary Eliza Kamerschen Christian Kelley Gray Kelly Nick Kemether Thornton Kennedy Palmer King Penny King Elizabeth Kleinknecht Jordan Knotts Kofi Lacefield James Lewallen Camille Lewis Margaret Lindsay Caroline Long Chandler Love Frank Lummus Sarah Grace Madden Alex Maner Brooks Mauldin Blaine McAllister Evelyn McCrady Carter McIntosh Caroline McPherson Ben Metcalfe Jonathan Molner Dailey Moog Lillie Moore Rhys Morgan Rankin Mori J.T. Mulcahy Tyler Neville Jahaan Nijhawan Justin Novellas Nate Olmstead Catherine Olsen Erin O’Shaughnessy Sarah Packman Michael Panos Duncan Park

Riya Patel Carter Pavloff Laura Pencea Cole Pisowicz Kate Pitfield Charlotte Pollard Liza Pope Brooke Preisinger Ellis Prigge Lindsay Pugh Cory Riley Mary Alyson Rogers John Russ Hannah Saad Harrison Savage Sloane Saxon Emma Schimpf Mary Katherine Schmersal Pierce Schmidt-Fellner Towner Schunk Mattie Schwieger Mary Pearce Seawell Liza Sharpley Catherine Sherling Olivia Sidman Lily Siegel Robinson Smith Sanci Smith Hailey Staton Ethan Tai Reeves Taylor Chloe Titelman Campbell Tomlin Paxton Trevett Stefano Ulrich Justin Umeri David Underwood Dominique Valles Mike Valls Fritz Van Winkle Sally Vaughan Stockton Vohs Casey Wade Luke Wahl Claire Wallace Cyrus Walls Alicia Walters Pross Watts Lillian Whittle Ritter Windom Jonathan Wolle Luke Wooddall Patrick Woodward Noah Young Haley Zoellick

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16 | Commentary

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Commentary: Who had the best branding in the pandemic? Editor’s Note: As the pandemic crisis struck local communities, leaders emerged, volunteer programs multiplied, and efforts to boost morale spread. In the terms of business and politics, many of these were partly efforts of branding and profile-raising. But which ones worked, which ones fell by the wayside, and will any have impacts after the immediate crisis is over? Down the road, will anyone still say “Brookhaven Strong” or remember that a local restaurant donated food? The Reporter asked professors of marketing, business and politics for their perspectives on some local examples.

‘ B R O O KHAVEN STR O NG ’

Jason Scott Kofke, the original artist of the mural soon raised copyright objections, placing the Dunwoody effort on hold, while marketing his own “Everything Will Be OK” products. An agreement was reached, but the nonprofits soon ended the sign-selling.

The “Army Strong” recruiting slogan introduced in 2006 inspired a trend toward using “X Strong” to highlight the resilience of communities affected by natural disasters or acts of violence, or to show support for a health or social cause. While many people think of “Boston Strong” due its wide publicity following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, its usSPECIAL age is now ofAn work by Terry Combahee was among the ten more localwinners of the “Brookhaven Strong” art contest. ized. It would be interesting to know what associations the city was seeking to leverage by using something recognizable versus using something more generic, like “Together Brookhaven.” The strength of “Brookhaven Strong” is that it is not simply a slogan, but an umbrella for a number of citywide initiatives and programming to bring interested people together and show support in this time of great anxiety and uncertainty, and suffering for some. Their focus is correct; it’s about making sure they’re a community and that those who need support feel that they’re not alone. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, sticks. There’s no reason to think they couldn’t retain some of the new community building programming once we get through this. And, if yes, does the slogan stay with it as a reminder of its roots? A challenge is that there is usually a segment of the population who wants closure, to move on after the healing is done, though perhaps that is more for natural disasters or acts of violence.

Years ago, my daughter was given the “Everything Will Be OK” slogan on magnets from the Spruill Center for the Arts. There was no attribution to the artist, Jason Kofke, so I always attributed it to the center. When I encountered the signs throughout my neighborhood recently, I found them relevant, encouraging and uplifting. Now all of that is going away and we will all be worse off for it. Dunwoody’s “Everything will be OK” yard sign fundraiser is a textbook example of good intentions gone awry. Create Dunwoody was established to enable local artists to enrich the lives of the local community, and this can be of huge value: We need organizations that mutually reinforce a dynamic between the arts, education, community, and commerce. Local artists understand the heartbeat of the community and can inspire us to see our circumstances and our possibilities differently. During this unprecedented pandemic, we need their perspectives more than ever. Unfortunately, this partnership suffered from a fatal incentive problem: artists must remain anonymous and, as evidenced with Jason Kofke, they may not be compensated for their creative work. An artist’s reputation and creativity is the cornerstone for commerce; a partnership that stifles financial growth and opportunity is doomed from the start. It’s unfortunate that these fatal missteps have cost all of us inspiration from local artists. Moving on to a better “new normal” requires us to not waste the learnings from this crisis. Let’s commit to building better, win-win partnerships that benefit artists and educators and strengthen our communities in the days ahead.

The city of Brookhaven promoted this phrase, including as a social media hashtag, and connected it to two events: a virtual community sing-along of the national anthem and an art contest.

— Douglas Bowman, professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, where he teaches product and brand management

— Sandy Jap is the Sarah Beth Brown Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and the author of “Partnering with the Frenemy”

‘EVERYTHING WI LL B E O K’

This phrase appears on a popular mural in Dunwoody and has been adopted as a quasi-official motto. During the pandemic, the nonprofits Create Dunwoody and Spruill Center for the Arts began selling yard-sign versions of the mural as a fundraiser for out-of-work artists, at first to great success. However,

SPECIAL

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

ATL A NTA’S M AY O R A S R EO P ENI NG C R IT I C

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms emerged as a prominent critic of Gov. Brian Kemp’s reopening orders, including in national media appearances.

SPECIAL

The “Everything Will Be OK” yard signs.

While there are even more prominent Kemp opponents — former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams immediately comes to mind — none are as well-positioned to make the case against the governor. Like her counterparts in big cities across the country, Mayor Bot-

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toms has hands-on experience in managing the response to viral outbreaks. But unlike those other mayors, she has had to contend with a governor who isn’t on the same page with her. Whether she would have sought the role that was thrust on her by the governor’s order, she certainly has embraced it, appearing frequently on national media platforms to voice her concerns. While I have no doubt that her concerns are authentic and heartfelt, it is still reasonable to consider the political consequences of the role she is playing. In the first place, there is no downside for her. She runs no risk in her city or her party for criticizing Kemp. And the governor is smart enough to know that he can’t retaliate against the city that is the engine of Georgia’s economy. As for the upside, we can think about statewide and national consequences. Right now, Abrams could have the Democratic nomination for any statewide office she seeks. As the state becomes more competitive (as it’s reasonable to expect that it will), we have to remember that Abrams can hold only one office at a time and that she likely has her eyes eventually on a national office. Mayor Bottoms is a plausible contender for any office that Abrams doesn’t seek or that she leaves behind. A few years ago, I would have said that big-city mayors aren’t cut out for the national political scene. Someone from a big city playing on the national stage wanted to be — I would have guessed — Housing and Urban Development secretary in a Democratic administration. But geography and demography make metropolitan areas the core of the Democratic coalition, and Bloomberg and Buttigieg showed that mayors can be players. I’m not arguing that we should expect Keisha Lance Bottoms to aspire to the Oval Office. But a successful mayoralty, together with a national profile, could launch her into statewide contention. — Joseph Knippenberg, professor of politics at Oglethorpe University

R ESTA URA N TS A S DON OR S

Early in the pandemic, there were nonstop announcements of restaurants donating food to hospitals/first responders and breweries making hand sanitizer. Locally, two restaurants temporarily converted into food pantries. Amidst the horrors of the pandemic, individuals and organizations have also found creative ways to maintain civic connection to one another. Among these are the dozens

of local restaurants that have opened their arms and their doors to deliver food to frontline workers or turn their kitchens into food pantries. These are examples of what social scientists have coined “social infrastructure,” or those physical spaces (including small businesses) that bring people together to achieve collective goods or simply provide a safe place to gather. In crisis, such infrastructure can be a key source of mutual aid and resiliency. For example, one of the entrepreneurs in our Start:ME accelerator, Springreens Community Café, has provided more than 5,000 free hot meals in the East Lake community since late April. It is possible that such generous acts may provide benefits down the road as patrons see that restaurants are so much more than places to eat. The pandemic has shown that restaurants and other small businesses also comprise the connective tissue that holds communities together in times of crisis. But shifting to a food pantry or developing a delivery service also builds goodwill in a community, produces innovative revenue streams, and keeps some key employees working. FILE Are there downsides to The Sandy Springs restaurant Under the Cork more restaurants jumping Tree was converted into a food pantry. onto the giving bandwagon? Probably not so long as neighbors need food and local farmers and other suppliers need reliable income. However, giving away supplies for free in a makeshift food pantry is not sustainable. It is a distinctive display of the incredible resilience and generosity of our city’s food industry, but also reveals the broken system of food distribution that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. — Wesley Longhofer, associate professor of organization and management, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS WHAT NOW? WEALTH PLANNING AFTER COVID-19… DOES THE COVID-19 EXPERIENCE MEAN THAT WEALTH PLANNING IS NOW TOTALLY DIFFERENT? No, not necessarily. Market and economic conditions continue to change, but good wealth planning comes from being consistent in making sound decisions. HOW CAN YOU MAKE SOUND DECISIONS WHEN THE FUTURE IS SO UNCERTAIN? In nearly 50 years of wealth planning, we have worked with families who can personally recall terribly uncertain conditions. In 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union were staring each other down over nuclear missiles in Cuba and plenty of people felt it could be the end of civilization. In 1974, a sitting U.S. President resigned from office in disgrace and the average citizen’s faith in our government reached an all-time low. There have been times, of course, when the future looked bright. In 2000, we ushered in a new Millennium amidst great optimism, following a decade that saw the fall of the Iron Curtain and a peace dividend.

during the month of the Cuban missile crisis, you were 30% richer one year later. If you put money to work in U.S. stocks during the month Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency, you were 250% richer ten years later. If you waited for the turn of the Millennium to put your money to work in U.S. stocks, you were 35% worse off two years later.

SO, WHAT IS YOUR POINT? Certainty or uncertainty about the future is an unreliable basis for building wealth. Ryan Patterson, CFA, CFP®, our Chief Investment Officer, puts it this way: “When everyone is feeling good about the future, the prices of financial assets are higher, reflecting that feeling. When few people feel good, prices are discounted and opportunities are greater.” If you invested in U.S. stocks

SO -- THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME? Circumstances may change but financial behavior should be disciplined, not reactive. Most families benefit from the coaching of an experienced, 100% fiduciary wealth advisor. That is the model we follow at Linscomb & Williams. We have the credentialled and experienced team ready to sit down and formulate a plan for your success right now, right here.

Bill Kring, MaryJane LeCroy, and Phillip Hamman discuss how to adjust wealth planning during uncertain market conditions following COVID-19. (Left to right: Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)

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Linscomb & Williams is not an accounting firm. Subsidiary of Cadence Bank. Investment Products: Not insured by FDIC. Not bank guaranteed. May lose value. Not insured by any Federal Government Agency. Not a bank deposit.

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

Sisters in arms find an online home in Georgia military women group

If you picture a typical military veteran, is your image male or female? If it’s male, you’re not alone. “When we tell people we’ve served, they think we’re the spouses of service members, not that we have served,” said

We are not a support group. No drama, politics or religion allowed. Just ladies hanging out with others who know what it is like to serve.

Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-

retired Army Sgt. 1st Class TanyalineSmith ofabout Dunwoody. Sandy Springs and writes people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at worthknowingnow@gmail.com.

“When I first started making civilian friends and told them I had jumped out of airplanes, they would go, ‘What?’” said Carmen Morales of Brookhaven, the first woman in the Georgia Army National Guard to reach the rank of com-

mand sergeant major, the highest an enlisted soldier can achieve. These are but the tip of the iceberg for women military

FACEBOOK GROUIP DESCRIPTION

The Georgia Military Women logo was temporarily altered for the pandemic with an image of the coronavirus and a social distancing message.

vets transitioning to civilian life. For most of them, serv-

called “GA Military Women,” open

ing in the military wasn’t what they did. It was who they

to all of the state’s female veterans,

were and still are - women committed to leadership, self-

who number nearly 93,000, according to the Georgia Depart-

discipline and personal accountability. And for years they

ment of Veterans Services. “We are not a support group. No drama, politics or religion

lived and worked with people who defined themselves the

allowed. Just ladies hanging out with others who know what it

same way.

is like to serve,” is the group’s self-description on a public Face-

In addition to the challenges facing their male coun-

book page for the group.

terparts -- finding employment and a place to live, getting healthcare and understanding their benefits -- some studies

The club has no dues or budget. It’s a private place online

in the early 2000s suggested they are more likely to be fac-

where the almost 4,000 members can get vital information

ing them alone due to lower marriage rates and higher di-

about veterans services, ask and answer questions, share suc-

vorce rates.

cesses and disappointments, help members in need, and organize member events throughout the state.

One veteran who learned that the hard way is former

“Women vets are natural leaders,” said Stevens. “I have more

Navy Lt. Amy Stevens, who holds a doctorate in education

than 50 leaders around the state [who organize events].”

and is a licensed professional counselor.

“We’re all welcome at all events,” said Morales.

After 11 years of active duty and a medical discharge, she

Stevens posts ceremonies, concerts and other public events

began work at Johns Hopkins University on her master of science degree. The single mother of a special-needs child, with no one to help with childcare, no health insurance and

Tanya Smith of Dunwoody, Army sgt. 1st class (ret.).

SPECIAL

on the public page. Especially popular before the pandemic were the free veterans’ tickets to the Atlanta Opera. Lately, the group has been discussing coronavirus-related is-

medical bills of $30,000, she and her son survived by being

sues like using the Veterans Affairs services, National Guard

“essentially homeless” for six months.

call-ups, and making surgical masks.

“I sold my house and my nice car, bought a used car, rented a room from a church lady and had my son stay with a

“It’s where we connect with our sisters in arms,” said Smith.

friend,” she said.

“A lot of people appreciate people who serve but think we

She came to Atlanta for a job with the U.S. Department of

joined because we didn’t have any options,” said Morales. “But

Labor, where she worked for 11 years, along with two part-

we wanted to serve. Everybody in ‘GA Military Women’ gets

time jobs to pay off her medical debts. She eventually re-

this. You don’t have to feel weird.”

connected with the military as the director of psychological

“I wouldn’t change the trajectory of my journey at all,” said

health for the Georgia National Guard, where she provided

Smith, who gave up her position as director of New Jersey’s larg-

counseling sessions.

est juvenile male offenders program to join the Army as a military intelligence linguist.

“People told me everything,” she said. And what she

As civilians, all three women are continuing their life of ser-

heard was often troubling.

vice.

When she left the National Guard in 2012, she decided to provide a resource for women veterans and invited a few

Morales is a program analyst at the Social Security Adminis-

women friends from the Guard to join her “in a little Face-

tration. Smith travels the world as a leadership consultant and

book group” called “Georgia Military Women.” It grew into a private, members-only Facebook club

Carmen Morales of Brookhaven, Army command sgt. maj. (ret.).

SPECIAL

author. Stevens serves as a Red Cross disaster mental health

SS


JUNE 2020

Commentary | 19

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A hike down Memory Lane, and toward the pandemic’s end He was my high school boyfriend. I hadn’t seen him in decades (I won’t say how many), but we reconnected on Facebook because I had jumped on social media to peddle my book (“The Best of the Nest” — get your copy now!), and he contacted me last September when he and his wife happened to be in town. We had a double date for lunch, each of us with our spouses, and we talked to each other of our lives, our kids, and our plans for the future. As we chatted over our Thai food, I congratulated my teenaged self for dating such a nice guy. And I recalled that somehow back then I knew that, great as he was, he wasn’t quite right for me. Of course, I wasn’t right for him, either, a point which became even more glaringly clear as our conversation progressed and they discussed their plans to through-hike the Appalachian Trail together. Wow. Talk about a goal! I mean, I like to walk, but there are limits. I did my bit on the AT when I was young, when my shoulders were sturdy and my back was strong and I Robin Conte lives with her didn’t even know that knees could “go bad.” I did it at a husband in an empty nest time when, if I knelt down to get something off the floor, in Dunwoody. To contact I didn’t groan when I got back up. her or to buy her column But they were determined. They had done their recollection, “The Best of the search, making plans and preparations for more than a Nest,” see robinconte.com. year, all of which heightened their enthusiasm to undertake this ambitious trek. They embarked in late February, documenting their journey with photos and mile markers. I followed them from the comfort of my laptop as they hiked in the rain and the snow, water dripping from their rain gear and smiles beaming through spattered camera lenses. And I gawked in amazement at her. There she was, filtering creek water and pitching tents! She was eating her own dehydrated spaghetti! She was balancing her way across rivulets on fallen logs while carrying a 30-pound pack on her back! She was sleeping in shelters infested with mice! MICE! I’m all for nature, but I don’t want it nibbling on my feet while I’m trying to sleep. I viewed their posts, and two thoughts took hold in my mind and stayed there for a while: 1. Whew! Dodged that bullet! and 2. She’s a boss. I also considered, as I followed their adventures on Facebook while watching the world shutter in peel-off fashion, that they picked a good time to stay away from civilization, to hike up and down mountains in relative isolation and enjoy expansive views of the ranges of our East Coast. I was happy for them, and I imagined that they must feel grateful to be enjoying the world in separation from the havoc caused by a sinister virus. Then I heard that the AT was closed. And my heart broke a bit for them, as it breaks every day for the small business owners who watch their life savings being swallowed up by the lockdowns and the employees who sink into the quicksand along with them and the doctors and nurses and all in their field who brave each day to meet our medical needs. The couple had made it into Tennessee, had traveled for 37 days and hiked almost 400 miles. They had persevered as long as they were able, even as their fellow hikers left the trail and the hiker towns became more deserted. They hiked until ultimately, at the beginning of April, it became illegal to continue, and, understanding the safety measures being put in place, they had to abandon their trip. They were proud of what they had accomplished, as well they should be, and they are hopeful that one day they can return to pick up where they left off and ultimately fulfill their dream. I wish that for them, and I wish that for all of us.

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20 | Commentary

Around Town On Mother’s Day, shortly after the governor of Georgia lifted his statewide shelter-at-home order for most Georgians, David Schulman spotted a group of his neighbors gathered around an ice-cream truck parked near a playground in his Sandy Springs condo community. “What really amazed me was there was nobody wearing masks, nobody standing 6 feet apart,” he said. It looked like little had changed from the days before the world stopped in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. “Unfortunately, there were too many people around,” Schulman said. “It went against the governor’s guidelines.” Schulman, who’s 57, thought this crowd could and should have done a better job of following the rules set by the state. He saw little evidence that the group followed any of the state’s social distancing recommendations, even though a sign was posted nearby asking that residents “please keep social distancing.” He thought it seemed kind of bizarre. And it bothered him. “I’m taking the ap-

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

proach – I have from early, early on — that I try to minimize risk as much as possible,” he said. Schulman didn’t report the gathering to local officials, but he said that when he went out to walk his dog, he took a few photos of the crowd, and later posted a comment on Facebook. Others who have questions about recent social gatherings have contacted local authorities. Representatives of Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Dunwoody all said those city governments in April or May had received complaints — not many, but a few — about people who are not following the state guidelines for public gatherings or business closings. Some complaints went to city officials through emails or public comment channels, such as city call centers, or cropped up on social media. Others went directly to police. City officials usually responded by checking out the size of the gathering and asking people to abide by the rules. Violation of the social distancing rules can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, accord-

When safety comes down to politeness and self-policing ing to the governor’s order, but local city officials said they knew of no arrests for violations. For the most part, Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun said, people “are doing the right thing” when they get together, so there appear to be relatively few gatherings to complain about. “It’s really self-policing,” she said, “and folks are doing a good job with it.” But if neighborhood gatherings don’t embrace social distancing rules, then residents themselves become the eyes of the community on social distancing enforcement. Neighborhood scolds who not so long ago might have been complaining on social media about school issues or cracked sidewalks now are replaced by folks raising red flags about too many kids playing in the park. That puts some of us in an uncomfortable position. If you’re worried that too many people around an ice cream truck can be a breeding ground for coronavirus, then you’re put in the position of being the one who breaks up the party. That’s no fun.

Who wants to be the neighbor who called the cops on kids eating ice cream? “My biggest concern was that people weren’t taking this seriously,” Schulman said. “Pray to God there were no viruses spread. This is how it happens — just like in California, from a church, where somebody with the virus [attends] and that’s all it takes. I err on the side of caution and expect the community to do the same.” He argues he shouldn’t have to force others to follow the rules. It’s a community issue, he said, and we all have to look out for one another. Following the social distancing guidelines is nothing more than a way of politely acknowledging the concerns of other people who are worried about the spread of a deadly disease. “To me, it’s very simple,” he said. “To do things a little more safely, with more respect for the neighbors.” So, show a little respect. And, of course, remember to stand 6 feet apart and to wash your hands.

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JUNE 10 - JUNE 23, 2016

Special Section | 21

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SPECIAL SECTION Parks and Recreation

After weeks of sheltering-in-place, crowds head to Georgia state parks BY COLLIN KELLEY Even at the height of the pandemic, Georgia State Parks remained open to offer a change of scenery, a place to stretch your legs, and a brief respite from the onslaught of virus-related news. With the shelter-in-place order lifted, some parks are experiencing large crowds on certain days and admission may be limited to ensure social distancing and protect the health and safety of the public and park employees. But don’t let that stop you from going, especially if you want to get some mountain air, take in the view, or go on a hike. Before you head north, be sure to check gastateparks.org for the latest updates on what is open. As the state continues to loosen restrictions, more park amenities will

wild (Headwaters, Dawson Forest and other sections) as it winds through national forests and state wildlife management areas to rural and even urban. The river is home to more Native American fish weirs than are found on all other Georgia rivers combined and historic sites, including the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, dot its banks from Dawsonville to Rome. The river passes through three state wildlife management areas (Dawson Forest, McGraw Ford and Allatoona) the Chattahoochee National Forest and numerous local parks. For more information, visit etowahwatertrail.org. Cloudland Canyon ► Located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest and most scenic parks in the state. Continued on page 22

A new life awaits in Asheville become available to the public once again. Amicalola Falls ▲ At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast. Visitors have choices on how to best view the tumbling waters, ranging from an accessible pathway to a challenging trail with staircases. An 8.5-mile trail leads from the park to Springer Mountain, the southern end of the famous 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail. The park’s picturesque lodge is open for stays and is taking health and safety precautions amid the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information, visit gastateparks.org/ AmicalolaFalls. Etowah River Water Trail With the exception of the upper reaches of the river (Hightower and Etowah Falls sections), Etowa is rated as a Class I river with occasional small shoals and rapids, which makes it suitable for novice paddlers. Scenery along the river ranges from SS

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22 | Special Section

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Continued from page 21

ery in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roadside overlooks provide spectacular 80-mile vistas, and four hiking trails lead visitors past wildflowers, streams, small waterfalls and lush forests. The park’s small lake is popular with anglers and circled by an easy walking trail. The park has reported some busy days, so staff may limit the number of visitors to the overlooks, trails and lake area. Visit gastateparks.org/BlackRockMountain for updates.

Home to thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife, the park offers ample outdoor recreation opportunities. Hiking and mountain biking trails abound. The most popular hiking paths include the short Overlook Trail, strenuous Waterfalls Trail and moderate West Rim Loop Trail. Mountain biking is available at the newly developed Five Points Recreation Area and along the Cloudland Connector Trail. Guests seeking an overnight experience can choose from fully-equipped cottages, quirky yurts or several different types of camping and backpacking options. Reservations are required. Visit gastateparks. org/CloudlandCanyon. Hardman Farm ► Georgia’s newest state park, which opened in 2015, is the 173-acre Hardman Farm located in historic Sautee Nacoochee, just south of Helen. The farm is best known for a favorite landmark: The gazebo-topped Nacoochee Mound, a burial site probably

used long before the Cherokee inhabited the area, which sits in the middle of verdant cow pasture. At press time, the house was still closed for tours, but the trails through the park are open. For updated information about

the farm, visit gastateparks.org/HardmanFarm.

Glen

Cove

Black Rock Mountain Georgia’s highest state park encompasses some of the most outstanding scen-

Tallulah Gorge ▲ Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks but permits to access the gorge floor and for climbing were suspended at press time. A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Tightrope walkers have twice crossed the gorge, and visitors can still see towers used by Karl Wallenda. Officials have reported heavy visitation and the park often closes after reaching capacity due to social distancing. For more, visit gastateparks.org/TallulahGorge.

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JUNE 10 - JUNE 23, 2016

Special Section | 23

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24 | Special Section

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Scenic Drives

Committed To Excellence

Take a mountain daytrip and see the sights safely from inside your car BY GIANNA SMITH BEDFORD AND COLLIN KELLEY If you’re hankering to get out of town, but also mindful of the COVID-19 outbreak, these scenic drives through North Georgia, Pine Mountain, and North Carolina make for the perfect social distancing daytrip.

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North Georgia

Traveling through White, Towns and Union counties, the nearly 41-mile RussellBrasstown Scenic Byway looks onto gorgeous vistas surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest. Wind through the mountain gaps and valleys of the Southern Appalachians, stopping for Instagram moments along the way. One of the best is atop Brasstown Bald, the highest natural point in the state and an ideal spot to watch the leaves turn brilliant colors in the fall. On a clear day, you can see Atlanta from the peak of Brasstown Bald, even though it’s more than 100 miles away. If you feel like some exercise, tackle the nearly two-mile round-trip hike to Dukes Creek Falls or a portion of the famed Appalachian Trail at the Hogpen Gap trailhead before hopping back in the car to continue your scenic drive. Spanning from Cohutta to Ellijay, the 56-mile Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway travels through the Chattahoochee National Forest, plus a number of charming towns. At Prater’s Mill in Dalton, observe a working 19th-century gristmill and cotton gin and pick up goodies at the general store. Don’t miss the many Civil War sites in and around town. After leaving Dalton, drive east to Chatsworth, where you can break for lunch and see the Chief Vann House Historic Site, a restored mansion built in 1804. This town is also home to Fort Mountain State Park, a great place to stretch your legs on a trail (there are more than 3,700 acres of them).

Cullasaja Falls

Continued on page 26


JUNE 10 - JUNE 23, 2016

â–

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26 | Special Section

Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News Continued from page 24

North Carolina

If you want to go a little further, head into North Carolina for to see the Cullasaja River Gorge, which offers a spectacular scenic drive along the Waterfall Byway between the towns of Franklin and Highlands. The fast-moving Cullasaja River tumbles down three major waterfalls alongside the 61-mile road that winds through the Nantahala National Forest. Visitors can drive their vehicles beneath the 120-foot Bridal Veil Falls and walk behind the roaring water at Dry Falls. The tallest falls are the Cullasaja Falls, which drop 250 feet. Cullasaja means “honey locust place” in the Cherokee language. The gorge is part of the trail followed by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1540. The gorge and its waterfalls can be accessed along U.S. Highway 64/State Road 28 between Highlands and Franklin, which is part of the Waterfall Byway. The road is winding and narrow.

Pine Mountain

Scenic mountain views aren’t limited to North Georgia or North Carolina. A couple of hours south of Atlanta, the Pine Mountain Highway-Scenic Heights Road ( State Route 190) runs from Manchester to Callaway Gardens through F.D. Roosevelt State Park. There are numerous parking overlooks with gorgeous views overlooking the valley below and hiking trails. Stop at Dowdell’s Knob to see the view that President Franklin D. Roosevelt loved so much that he had a brick oven and picnic area installed so he could dine there when he was at the nearby Little White House in Warm Springs. For more information on these scenic drives, visit ExploreGeorgia.org, blueridgeheritage.com, or gastateparks.org/FDRoosevelt.

Mountain Activities

▲The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC has reopened its park spaces, including the gardens and grounds with more than 20 miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails. Be sure to visit biltmore.com for details and admission information. The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina are open, but at press time, most campgrounds remained closed. The forests are open for hiking, mountain biking, fishing and for scenic drives. Visit fs.usda.gov/nfsnc for updates. If you want to go glamping (that’s a mashup of glamourous and camping), then you’re in luck because Under Canvas is welcoming guests who want to add a touch of luxury to their outdoor getaway in the Great Smoky Mountains. Located near Gatlinburg, this ecofriendly site offers luxury canvas tents, daily housekeeping, on-site dining and more. Visit undercanvas.com for details. Coral Hospitality, which operates lodges for Georgia’s State Parks, has reopened Brasstown Valley Resort and Lodge in Young Harris, Unicoi State Park Lodge and Amicalola Falls Lodge, along with the restaurants. Social distancing will be in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Visit coralhospitality.com for details and reservations.


JUNE 10 - JUNE 23, 2016

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Special Section | 27

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28 | Community

GDOT responds to I-285 toll lane questions, concerns BY JOHN RUCH

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Pill Hill overpass is biggest idea in Perimeter Center road project studies A conceptual illustration of the Medical Center’s Peachtree-Dunwoody/Johnson Ferry roads intersection turned into an overpass.

johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

The Georgia Department of Transportation has issued its formal response to questions and concerns from hundreds of residents and officials about its controversial plan to add toll lanes to the top end of I-285. The responses cover such topics as access points on local streets and the overall design and purpose of the project. The responses follow public meetings in January to unveil preliminary designs for the lanes, which are intended to speed traffic as part of a metro-wide system, but would impact hundreds of properties and would turn some local streets into highway interchanges. Public comments were roughly split 50-50 for and against toll lanes, GDOT said. Most answers boil down to GDOT saying it is either studying the issue or considers the question outside of the project’s scope of discussions. GDOT issued its detailed response in April. The input from the public meetings will be used to create a “more refined project concept” that will be presented in another round of meetings, possibly in early 2021. GDOT continues to accept and respond to public comments at TopEndExpressLanes@dot.ga.gov. To view all responses, see majormobilityga.com. GDOT plans to add toll lanes -- separate from the existing highway lanes and in many places elevated on pillars -- along the top end of I-285 and on part of Ga. 400 between Sandy Springs and Alpharetta. The intent to speed up overall traffic by allowing paying drivers onto the toll lanes. The Ga. 400 toll lanes would carry MARTA rapid transit buses as well, and a similar concept is being studied for the I-285 lanes. The Ga. 400 proposal began earlier and is expected to start construction in 2022 and open in 2027. The top-end I-285 project is split into east and west sections. The east section, between Ga. 400 and Henderson Road, is expected to start in 2022 and open in 2028. The west section, between Ga. 400 and Paces Ferry Road, is expected to start in 2026 and open in 2032. Following the January meetings, GDOT said, it received 485 formal comments. Of those, 82 were in support; 109 were in conditional support; 250 were opposed; 33 were uncommitted; and 11 did not specify a position.

Responses

GDOT has touted toll lanes -- which it calls “express lanes” -- as a traffic congestion solution and has said their value is already proven by such recent examples as versions on I-75 and I-575. But its formal answer to a question about whether the I-285 project will perform as advertised in the long term was less committed. It says that “performance data” on existing lanes “indicate” improvements on reliability and “overall duration” of trips in both tolled and free lanes. “As the EL [express lanes] concept is relatively new in Georgia, research and data analysis are ongoing,” the response says. Other big design points remain unknown, GDOT said, including where Georgia Power’s high-voltage lines in the right of way would be relocated, and how high the elevated lanes would be in any given spot -- though the height will range from 30 to 120 feet. Noise barriers can’t always be built prior to lane construction, GDOT said; as for putting them on the elevated lanes, the agency is evaluating the “feasibility.” GDOT said it is “evaluating the design changes necessary” to place a multiuse trail on a replacement of the Chamblee-Dunwoody Road bridge, as requested by the city of Dunwoody. GDOT said it got comments both for and against its plan to turn Savoy and Cotillion drives into one-way streets to serve the toll lanes. The plan is “necessary,” but the configuration and number of lanes is being studied. New access points for the toll lanes have been controversial, especially since GDOT says they must be different from the current entrances and exits for free lanes. The agency said it received multiple comments about eliminating, moving and adding access points, but showed little interest in altering most of them. The most controversial has been one proposed on Mount Vernon Highway over Ga. 400, due to possibly adding tens of thousands of cars to daily local traffic. GDOT said a traffic study will be done and alternatives are being studied. Many other impacts of local concern, including air quality, water runoff and lighting, are part of ongoing environmental reviews, GDOT said.

PERIMETER COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Turning the Medical Center’s main intersection into an overpass is the biggest -- and probably least likely -- road project among several that the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts has in the planning stages. More lanes for faster turns and easier access to Ga. 400 are a general theme of several projects that project director John Gurbal presented at an April 28 quarterly update from the PCIDs, two jointly operated, self-taxing business districts in Perimeter Center that spend much of their money on transportation improvements. The following are some of the new projects PCIDs is studying or planning.

Pill Hill intersection

The intersection of Peachtree-Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry roads is the heart of the Sandy Springs Medical Center, known as Pill Hill. Clogged at rush hour, the crossing tends to be wide open at other times. The PCIDs is about a year into preliminary study of some sort of improvement, with traffic counts and other groundwork already done. A big idea from the first brainstorming, Gurbal said, is to turn the intersection into an overpass, with east-west through-traffic running beneath Johnson Ferry. “Too bad it wasn’t built that way to begin with,” said Gurbal in an interview, adding that such a structure “would be huge” and “may not be possible” due to right of way and emergency-access conditions. The next step is an alternatives analysis that will include more modest ideas, including small turn-lane changes. The PCIDs is also waiting to coordinate with a traffic safety study, including a look at crosswalks, that Sandy Springs city staff intends to do, according to Gurbal. A city spokesperson declined comment pending a City Council approval of such a study.

Ashford-Dunwoody median and path

Moving quickly toward construction are plans to add a median, a multiuse path and more turn lanes to a section of Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven. The section is between Lake Hearn Drive and Perimeter Summit Parkway/Oak Forest Drive. The joint project with the city is nearly ready to start a design phase, Gurbal said. Construction could start in late summer.

Abernathy ramp to Ga. 400

This proposal would add a new right-turn lane from Peachtree-Dunwoody Road southbound at Abernathy Road westbound that would provide no-stop access directly onto the Ga. 400 northbound ramp. A separate but related plan would add a similar turn lane on Abernathy from Mount Vernon Highway westbound to Peachtree-Dunwoody northbound.

Hammond Drive/Ga. 400 turn lane

This project would extend an existing right-turn lane from Hammond Drive westbound to Ga. 400 northbound. The lane would be extended to the Concourse Parkway intersection.

Other turn lanes

The PCIDs is considering various turn lane additions and extensions, in some cases by eliminating existing medians. Some of the locations include: Crestline Parkway at Peachtree-Dunwoody and Mount Vernon Highway; Perimeter Center West at Central Parkway; Perimeter Summit Parkway at Ashford-Dunwoody Road; and theGlenridge Connector at Johnson Ferry Road. SS


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Chattahoochee national park’s temporary leader steers through pandemic BY BOB PEPALIS

“Our law enforcement staff and maintenance staff are essential staff and have been working throughout the pandemic,” she said. The temporary boss at the Chattahoochee River National RecreOther staff either teleworked from home or are on-site. ation Area’s took on her duties just as the park was about to close for Otherwise it’s been business as usual for the staff as they track health reasons due to the pandemic. their budget, develop projects and otherwise handle resource man“We’ve dealt with natural disasters and government shutdowns,” agement. But now they’ve added examining specific jobs to detersaid Acting Superintendent Ann Honious, “but nothing that is healthmine if modifications are needed as park access increases and all related and pandemic. And that is a different response.” employees return to working on site. Honious came to Georgia from the nation’s capital, where she Getting to know the Chattahoochee River NRA was her first priserves in her permanent posting as the deputy superintendent at Naority. She said a park tour and participating in a ride-along with law tional Capital Parks East in Washington, D.C. Her 120-day temporary enforcement officers on river patrol gave her insight into those asposting began in mid-April and ends in mid-August. pects of park operations. She’s filling in temporarily for the superintendent’s position. AfHonious has been working with the park’s partners, including ter the position is advertised a permanent superintendent will be communities adjacent to it, the friends group and other partners chosen. Until then, acting superintendents fill the role on temporary whose relationships she’s trying to maintain. assignments. “I bring my skills and experience from other parks and am able to Longtime Superintendent Bill Cox retired on Jan. 3 after a 40-year SPECIAL apply them to the National Recreation Area,” she said. Ann Honious. federal career. He had actively recruited by the National Park Service She started working with the National Park Service as a historito serve as the superintendent for the Chattahoochee River National an. Recreation Area in 2013, the National Park Service reported. “I’ve always liked history. And I found that the park service is a great way to share Cox set up partnership projects and helped develop the Friends Group – the Chattathe history of America, and the great resources that we have like national parks,” Hohoochee Parks Conservancy – to where it now provides philanthropic support to the nious said. park. He increased awareness for the Chattahoochee River NRA among local cities and People immediately think of parks like the Grand Canyon when you mention the Naorganization. And Cox helped educate the community on watershed management’s imtional Park Service. But the Chattahoochee River is also a national park, Honious said, portance and the economic benefits the park brings. and is a place where you can get out to enjoy the country and its natural resources. The biggest challenge Honious has faced in her short tenure has been the pandemic She worked in Dayton, Ohio, home of the Wright brothers, at the Dayton Aviation and park operations with COVID-19, “and developing an adaptive recovery to increase Heritage National Historical Park. She also has worked at the St. Louis Gateway Arch access for visitors in the park, keeping park visitors and employees safe.” National Park. At National Capital Parks East in Washington, D.C., she helps manage None of the Chattahoochee River NRA’s employees were furloughed due to the coromore than 8,000 acres and 90 parks, including the Washington-Baltimore Parkway, Annavirus, she said. Around 30 people work for the park, with numbers fluctuating beacostia Park, Frederick Douglass Park and Civil War Defenses of Washington. cause seasonal maintenance employees come in during the summer.

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Restaurants seek elbow room in the pandemic’s distanced dining Continued from page 1 popular component to any restaurant location,” said Scott Amoson, the director of research at the Atlanta office of the real estate firm Colliers International. “I would think going forward, however, this will be an even more important aspect to incorporate into a restaurant’s location.” But another long-term social distancing trend could hit restaurants hard, and it’s completely out of their control over their square-footage and chairs. The lower attendance in offices as employees shift to teleworking will be “real hurt” if it becomes a new normal that eats into the lunch-catering business, said Richmond Green, director of operations at the Atlanta-based quick-casual chain Gusto. “That’s one area where we’re not sure things are going to return to normal,” said Green. “A lot of businesses have discovered that working remote is not just some futuristic thing that only Google does. ... There may never be a time where people gather in offices for hundred-person lunches. And it may be a long time before businesses take the risk of bringing people back to the office when they can safely work from home.”

Moving outdoors

SS

Gov. Brian Kemp allowed dine-in restaurant service to return in late April. Under the current language of his emergency order, which was scheduled to run at least through June 12, restaurants are limited to 10 patrons per 300 square feet and 10 patrons per table. Michael Starling, the economic development director for the city of Dunwoody, said those rules boiled down to one message: “you have to find more space.” That’s because even 50% occupancy would not be enough for most restaurants to survive. Outdoor seating is a popular solution both to increase the footprint and because the open air is considered generally lower-risk for coronavirus transmission than indoor spaces. The cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven quickly offered temporary permits to allow certain forms of outdoor dining. But restaurants and customers locally and around the metro area were already adapting on their own with ad hoc solutions. Amoson said he saw many examples in his home area in Atlanta’s southern suburbs, where standalone locations of chains like Outback used strips of land outside their stores for tables with umbrellas. “ I’ve also noticed people in general (including my family) have purchased their food to-go and then gone to sit on walls, or throw a blanket out on public spaces nearby,” said Amoson in an email. Earlier on, my family would purchase to-go and then have a picnic in the back of my truck in the parking lot. It was at least something different than eating at home and got us out.” Verde Taqueria in Brookhaven Village was among those that quickly moved outside. The restaurant has a patio, but already had converted it into a pickup spot for takeout orders. So to make outdoor seating, the restaurant put three picnic tables in parking spaces marked off with traffic cones.

“We just got parts of our parking lot blocked off. And we’re letting people order food and sit out there as they please,” said Manuel Gonzalez, general manager of the restaurant. Verde is in a mixed-use building that shares parking with other businesses and residents. Gonzalez said the restaurant owners were in discussions with the tenant association about the temporary setup. Amoson said jerryrigged seating solutions likely can continue, with any rulebending overlooked, while the pandemic comeback continues and restaurants attract potential customers for neighboring businesses. But, Starling said, some friction eventually will take hold, as other businesses will eventually want to use parking spaces, too, among other possible conflicts.

But seating is an important part of the business and its intent to be a “destination” for customers. And that loss of office catering is a significant one that has the chain strategizing. And social distancing may have some long-term impacts on the way the chain does business. “I don’t think we’re going to do away with dining rooms when we’re looking at space in the future. I think we will look for more drivethrus,” said Green, adding that the Chamblee location has done the most consistent pandemic business because it has one. Gusto is also thinking about increasing the size of patios, as well as working with shopping center landlords to create “community spaces to eat outdoors” that could be used by a number of restaurants. Then there’s the biggest A distanced X factor of all: customer defuture? mands. Green said Gusto is already seeing customers Will the pandemic mean without masks and hearlong-term changes to the ing demands to open the inway restaurants operate? store seating. Public tolerWhile uncertainty is the ance for new ways of doing pandemic’s main trait, flexbusiness may wane. ibility in design seems to be “We’ve been telling our the main answer. guys… that for a couple of PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER For Darren Benda, the months, the restaurant inTop, outdoor dining in the pandemic on May 23 at Louisiana new owner of El Azteca in Bistreaux Seafood Kitchen on Piedmont Road in Buckhead meant dustry earned a lot of grace Dunwoody Village, it’s not tables spaced apart and a server in a mask and face shield. and earned a lot of sympaan abstract question. He Above, red X’s of tape mark tables as off-limits to maintain social distancing thy,” said Green. But after took advantage of the panat the HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern in Town Brookhaven on May 24. that period with “zero cusdemic closures to speed up tomer complaints,” he said, interior renovations of the “as people are starting to feel restaurant. He says that the safer, we’re going to get less grace.” interior will not be changed specifically to — Bob Pepalis contributed prepare for any prolonged pandemic fallout, but that flexibility remains a design principle. Can’t Find Your Home in Sandy Springs? Call Me! “The beauty of our space is that 95% of the seating and tables can be rearranged for various patterns and occasions. So we will adjust whenever the rules and regulaThinking of selling? tions allow for that,” he said. For Gusto, the pandemic is a test of the Wondering if now old normal, as the chain had the unfortunate timing to open its new “Chastain” is the right time? location in Buckhead’s Roswell Wieuca Shopping Center on May 8. The restaurant opened as scheduled, but in a low-key fashCall me for a free ion to avoid drawing crowds and with its roughly 50-seat dining room still unused. consultation with the Green, Gusto’s director of operations, latest facts and stats said that the quick-casual business model allowed the opening to do decent busiso you can make an ness, since it already had takeout and delivery built in -- though delivery takes a bigger informed decision. cut of the revenue -- and the Chastain location has patio seating. After an initial hit, the chain’s counter business is back to near normal, said Green, with customers including nurses from nearby Piedmont Hoswww.isellsandysprings.com pital flocking to the original location on AngIe PonSELL ATLANTA TO THE WORLD Peachtree Road in Brookwood Hills.


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