Brookhaven Reporter - July 2022

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Brookhaven Reporter JULY 2022 Vol. 14 No. 7 ■




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Contents JULY 2022




Editorial Amy Wenk Editor, Reporter Newspapers Collin Kelley Editor, Atlanta Intown Joe Earle Editor at Large Staff Writers Dyana Bagby Bob Pepalis Sammie Purcell

Published By Springs Publishing Keith Pepper Publisher Neal Maziar Chief Revenue Officer Rico Figliolini Creative Director Steve Levene Publisher Emeritus

Advertising For information (404) 917-2200 Deborah Davis Account Manager | Sales Operations Jeff Kremer Sr. Account Manager Suzanne Purcell Sr. Account Manager



Sally Bethea, Cathy Cobbs, Melody Harclerode, Isadora Pennington, Maria Saporta, Joann Vitelli

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Editor’s Note


Buckhead BeltLine segment starts construction Buckhead City poll

6 6

Sandy Springs New mixed-use project Gun violence discussion

8 9

Brookhaven City Hall lease finalized Gray Television deal

10 10

Dunwoody Data about Perimeter Center Church deal dropped

12 13

Dining Farmers & Fishermen


Sports Atlanta to host World Cup


Dunwoody 4th of July Parade Parade info Charlie’s Army Pam Tallmadge History of the parade

17 20 22 23

Pets & Their People Community photos The Village Vets Dunwoody Police K9s Farm Hounds

25 28 29 30

Arts New leader for Bill Lowe Gallery


Sustainability Kayaking local rivers


Real Estate Buckhead’s Round House


Business Newell Brands’ turnaround


About the Covers Brookhaven: Cama Gebhart of Brookhaven submitted a photo of her two dogs, Lucy and Charlie. Buckhead: Dr. Francoise Tyler and Dr. William Draper of The Village Vets. Photo by Joann Vitelli. Dunwoody: A scene from last year’s Dunwoody 4th of July Parade. Photo by Cameren E. Rogers. Sandy Springs: Ursula Shields of Sandy Springs shared a photo of her miniature horse Roosevelt.

Honored as a newspaper of General Excellence

2018 © 2022 with all rights reserved Publisher reserves the right to refuse editorial or advertising for any reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing. JULY 2022 | 3

EDITOR’S NOTE Don’t just get it on the market. Get it the attention it deserves. NOTHING COMPARES.

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Life’s better with a furry friend It’s our annual “Pets & Their People” isand showing the sweet devotion he’s had for sue. We received dozens of photo submissions Rafiki, which means “friend” in Swahili. from the community, as featured on pages 25Another picture showed Austin as a teen 27. pushing 13-year-old Rafiki around in a cart as I also heard wonderful stories from resthe senior pup is no longer able to walk very idents and wanted to share a well. Austin, who graduated from few! the Mount Vernon School, now Rena Ann Peck of Buckis off to the U.S. Naval Academy. head, executive director of the “Rafiki will miss him very much,” Georgia River Network, subTaylor said. mitted photos of her dog Paula Rothman of Sandy named Okie. Springs shared a photo of her “Okie is a July hound deer husband, Bob Tucker, and three huntress I found abandoned in of their seven rescue dogs. Roththe Okefenokee Swamp Wilman said Tucker was recently feaderness on a Georgia River Net- BY AMY WENK tured in the Atlanta Jewish Times work paddling trip near a profor their work with rescue animals. posed mine site we are fighting,” said Peck, They have fostered more than 100 dogs in 10 referring to a proposal from Twin Pines Minyears, including rehabbing those with serious erals LLC to mine titanium oxide along 570 medical conditions. How amazing! acres near the national wildlife refuge. That Becca Wexler of Dunwoody sent in a proposal was just dealt a major setback from sweet photo of 8-year-old Sophie and her a federal agency. two Bernedoodles, Georgia and Tilly. “When As for Okie, she’s “gone from swamp to we adopted Georgia in October of 2019, we sofa,” Peck said. “She will not go hungry were living in Boca Raton, Fla., looking to reagain.” locate to Atlanta,” Wexler said. “We named Ann Taylor of Dunwoody sent in three her ‘Georgia’ in the hopes that we could make pictures of her son, Austin, and their yellow the move.” lab Rafiki. The photos spanned several years, She said they were able to find a home in starting when Austin was in kindergarten, Dunwoody last March. “When we decided to get a second Bernedoodle, we named her ‘Tilly’ after the road Tilly Mill in hopes to really set our roots here,” Wexler added. “Moving to Dunwoody was hands down the best decision for our family.” Tami and Jeff Kushner of Sandy Springs offered photos of their two Dobermann Pinschers, named Sugar and Bear. “Dobies have a fierce reputation, but it is absolutely how you raise your pet and the environment they live in that determines their disposition,” said Jeff. “Our knuckleheads are spoiled rotten, sweet babies.” Thank you to everyone who sent in photos!


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In our June issue, we featured valedictorians and salutatorians from our local schools. Regretfully, we omitted the Marist School. We sincerely apologize for this error. Evan Merritt (pictured at top) is the valedictorian for Marist and will be going to Georgia Tech in the fall. Madeline “Maddie” Lamm is the salutatorian for Marist and is headed to Yale University. Congrats to both of these outstanding students!


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JULY 2022 | 5


Construction starts on next phase of Northeast Trail

The second phase of the Northeast Trail includes constructing the multi-use path under the Piedmont Avenue bridge. (Atlanta BeltLine Inc.)


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Construction is underway on the next phase of the Atlanta BeltLine’s Northeast Trail that would eventually connect Buckhead’s Lindbergh Center MARTA Station to the bustling Eastside Trail. Atlanta Beltline Inc. (ABI) broke ground in early June on the half-mile of work needed to finish the second phase of the Northeast Trail. The project is expected to take 16 months to complete. When finished, the second phase will complete the 1.2-mile stretch between Westminster Drive at the northern edge of Piedmont Park to Mayson Drive near the growing Armour/Ottley commercial district in southern Buckhead. The groundbreaking comes after the James M. Cox Foundation recently donated

Poll shows 61% of voters want to stay in Atlanta



Contact us to book your meeting 866.907.7832 |

More than 60% of voters living in Buckhead do not want the north Atlanta community to secede from the city, according to a poll commissioned by a group opposed to cityhood efforts. The Committee for a United Atlanta announced June 9 that 61% of likely Buckhead voters said they want to remain in the city of Atlanta, according to a poll it commissioned. The poll showed 30% of voters would vote in favor of Buckhead becoming its own city, according to the group. The survey of 380 likely Buckhead voters was conducted by 20/20 Insight from May 21-25. “Further, almost every demographic group would stay in Atlanta, which includes 56% of white voters and 86% of Black voters. Every age group opposes cityhood, as well as men and women,” said a written statement from Edward Lindsey and Linda Klein, co-chairs of

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$30 million to the Atlanta BeltLine. Last year, ABI secured $80 million from The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Beltline officials said the donations meant they have the philanthropic funding needed to finish the 22-mile trail corridor by 2030. Design and construction of the Atlanta BeltLine trails are also funded through the BeltLine Tax Allocation District (TAD), BeltLine Special Service District (SSD) bond proceeds and Atlanta Regional Commission’s Transportation Improvement Program. “The investments in the Atlanta BeltLine — including the recent $30 million donation from the James M. Cox Foundation — have made the expansion of the Northeast Trail possible, bringing more greenspace, accessibility and opportunity to all corners of Atlanta,” Mayor Andre Dickens said in a news release. The Northeast Trail’s second phase will include the paved trail, a connection to Piedmont Avenue, lighting and security cameras, bridgework, planting and stormwater management systems. There are two remaining segments of Northeast Trail still in the design phase.

the Committee for a United Atlanta. Bill White, the controversial CEO of the Buckhead City Committee, dismissed the Committee for a United Atlanta’s poll as “divisive” and “untruthful.” He said in an email that his group’s polling shows 72% of Buckhead voters support a referendum on cityhood. White also pointed to the May 24 primary when roughly 860,000 voters across the state who pulled a Republican ballot said they supported Buckhead residents having a chance to vote on cityhood. The question was added to the Republican ballot after efforts to get a Buckhead cityhood referendum on the November 2022 ballot was blocked by Republican leaders at this year’s legislative session. White also said a survey of 380 people for the Committee for a United Atlanta poll was insignificant. “Our 3,500 yard signs remain up all over because people are never giving up till we do vote,” White said.

JULY 2022 | 7


Developer plans mixed-use project on Roswell Road

A mixed-use project is planned at the corner of Roswell Road and Allen Road, outlined in blue. (City of Sandy Springs)



2260 MARIETTA BOULEVARD, SUITE 105 ATLANTA, GA 30318 (404) 254-3235


6125 ROSWELL ROAD, SUITE 1050 SANDY SPRINGS, GA 30328 (404) 565-0493


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Real estate developer Shelton McNally wants to build a mixed-use building at 5810 Roswell Road that would have apartments, retail space and co-working offices. The 1.3-acre property currently is home to a NAPA Autocare Center and is zoned CS-3, which allows buildings up to three stories. Shelton McNally wants to build a six-story building with 199 apartment units, nearly 2,500 square feet of retail space and 5,000 square feet of coworking space, said Conor McNally, a principal at Shelton McNally. The uses are allowed with the existing zoning, McNally said, but they need a CS-6 zoning to build up to six stories. “Given the city code only allows steel and concrete construction, it isn’t economically viable to develop a steel and concrete building in three stories on a site that small,” he said. McNally said he thinks most people would agree its current use as a NAPA auto parts and repair shop is “fairly unsightly.” The site also has environmental contamination, he said. Between the construction requirements and contamination, he said the only way they can get a reasonable amount of density on the site is to go underground for parking. “Our plan will have two levels of underground parking. And that means we’re going to have to do quite an amount of environmental remediation,” McNally said. Shelton McNally plans to put the site into the Georgia Brownfields program. That will require them to go through the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The cleanup plan must be submitted and approved. “It’s a somewhat challenging site to develop given all of those constraints, given the small size,” McNally said. He said his company has been working on the project for six months and planned to submit an application to Sandy Springs Community Development in June to begin

the rezoning process. A community meeting was held June 2. If it moves forward, the six-story building would have two courtyards. It would be tiered so that it’s not a large monolithic building, McNally said. The retail would be at the corner of Roswell Road and Allen Road. Residents of this building and others in the area would be able to use the coworking space, McNally said. With the pandemic, more people are working from home, he said. At Shelton McNally’s own developments and others across the country, there’s a significant demand from tenants to have separate private office space within a multifamily community. “People who work from home don’t necessarily want to be sitting in their living room working all day,” he said. He described the development as a boutique, luxury multifamily community being built to condominium quality standards. The construction will be financed as an apartment building. That enables them to get financing and begin construction immediately. If it was financed as condos, the lender would require them to pre-sell 30% to 50% of the units. “The development will not necessarily remain as apartments forever,” he said. Rents are projected to start at just under $2,000 for smaller units to $2,600 or $2,700 for two-bedroom apartments, McNally said. If everything goes according to plan, construction will start in April or May of 2023 and take 18 to 20 months to complete, he said. McNally and his partner, Jim Shelton, were former principals at Carter and Associates. While at Carter, they were responsible for the Aston City Springs apartment development and project management of the entire City Springs complex, McNally said.

Residents support councilmember’s gun violence plea BY BOB PEPALIS Sandy Springs residents were joined by a state representative in voicing support for City Councilmember Andy Bauman’s request that the city find ways to reduce gun violence and violent crime in the city in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting. Bauman’s suggestions included having council approve a resolution to influence state and federal legislation on gun safety, as well as support mental health intervention and other violent crime causes. “This is where we want to move beyond thoughts and prayers,” Bauman said. “We talk about protected neighborhoods. The ultimate responsibility in protecting neighborhoods is public safety.” Councilmembers voiced their approval of Bauman’s request that City Manager Eden Freeman and the city attorney get together and report back to the council with some strategies, opportunities and resources for reducing gun violence and dealing with violent crime in the city. “The question is, ‘Are we doing everything we can to make Sandy Springs the safest city as possible?’” Bauman asked.

Resident reaction Sandy Springs resident Tricia Gephardt said it is about gun safety and gun violence,

All elected officials need to take meaningful action, she said, as people feel isolated, disconnected and on their own. Rep. Shea Roberts said she decided to run for office in 2018 after her middle school child came home and described an active shootLeft, Councilmember Andy Bauman and Rep. Shea Roberts. er drill at her school. Two weeks later, 17 students were killed and 17 and she doesn’t want anyone to forget that. injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Her two children who attend school in SanSchool in Parkland, Florida, in a mass shootdy Springs experienced an active shooter situing. ation several years ago. “And I realized it had been six years since “And I was one of the moms outside the we watched babies being killed at Sandy school crying and hoping that my kids were Hook and not a damn thing had changed,” OK as they were barricaded in the door,” she Roberts said. “And here we are four years besaid. yond Parkland. And again, our babies [are] Resident Leslie Mullis said her middle being killed and nothing has changed.” daughter is a kindergarten teacher at DunResident Dontaye Carter challenged the woody Springs Elementary School in Sandy council to have the courage to think about Springs. these issues much deeper. He wants them to “When I first heard the news of the Uvaltake a stance as strongly as those taken against de shooting, all I can think of [was] this could gang violence. have been Maggie, and she would have been “What I’m concerned about is that trouthe only thing standing between that rifle and bled young person who wants the world to her five-year-olds in her classroom,” Mullis hurt as much as they are,” Carter said. said. Melanie Couchman, co-founder of San-

dy Springs Together, said most of the murders seen over the past couple of months were by disaffected, isolated and ignored youth. The city needs more green space for kids to come and play, she said. They need a youth center where boys and girls can go with supervision. “And we can do that in conjunction with our first responders. They are great role models,” Couchman said.

Council response Councilmember Jody Reichel suggested community members effect change at the voting booth. “I think that we’re at a turning point, that we need to help slow violent crime, especially gun violence, as much as we can,” Councilmember Melissa Mular said. Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said he regularly asks Police Chief Ken DeSimone to have officers speak to neighborhoods about safety. “I continually emphasize a couple of things: Close your garage door, lock your car and call 911. Our police will be there, and they’ll take care of it,” DeJulio said. Councilmember Melody Kelley asked that any city action helps the families living in multifamily housing communities. She said the council recently received statistics that showed a good amount of violent crime occurs in those communities.

JULY 2022 | 9


Agreement finalized for new City Hall

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BY SAMMIE PURCELL The city of Brookhaven has finalized an agreement to build its new City Hall at the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA Station. At a June 14 meeting, the Brookhaven City Council approved a ground lease agreement with MARTA. The MARTA board voted to approve the ground lease at a June 9 meeting. “This is the result of a collaboration with MARTA which has been ongoing for five years,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst in an emailed statement. “We were all seeking a transit-friendly live-work-play solution that meets the current and future life-

style needs of residents and our greater regional community. I am looking forward to continuing the partnership with MARTA as we create a permanent City Hall.” Brookhaven’s current City Hall is a rental space at 4362 Peachtree Road NE. Finding a new location for City Hall is one of the aspects of the city’s “City Centre Master Plan,” which is meant to create a framework for a possible downtown area and guide future development in the commercial area along Peachtree Road. “MARTA is excited to partner with Brookhaven to establish a transit-supportive City Hall, one of only a few in this country located at a rail station,” said MARTA Interim General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood in a press release. “This project will inspire future development around the station, increase ridership, and improve pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, and makes a powerful statement about the centrality of transit.” According to the press release, a timeline for construction is still in the works.

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tures, Peacock streaming service, and a host of television networks such as Telemundo and Bravo. Gray Television, which owns local TV stations across the country including Atlanta’s CBS46 News, announced the deal in early June. Assembly Studios is a 43-acre production complex that’s under construction as part of a broader 135acre mixed-use development A rendering of Assembly Studios. (Gray Television) called Assembly Atlanta. That project is redeveloping the former General Motors AsBY AMY WENK sembly Plant in Doraville. Assembly Studios will feature soundstagBrookhaven-based Gray Television has es, production offices, warehouse and mill inked a long-term lease agreement with buildings, event space and more. Next door NBCUniversal. is Third Rail Studios, which Gray Television The deal sets the stage for the media gialso owns. ant to operate Gray Television’s new Assembly Per the agreement, NBCUniversal will Studios project in Doraville, which is expectmanage all studio and production facilities ed to employ more than 4,000 people. within the Assembly Studios complex, inIt’s a big win for Georgia’s booming film cluding Third Rail Studios. and television industry, which brought in Construction on NBCUniversal’s facilities a whopping $4 billion to its economy last is expected to begin this summer. Gray Teleyear. NBCUniversal’s portfolio includes the vision anticipates that Assembly Studios will NBC broadcast network, Universal Piccomplete in the second half of 2023. tures, DreamWorks Animation, Focus

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JULY 2022 | 11


New data suggests Dunwoody could experience growth comparable to Buckhead BY SAMMIE PURCELL New data suggests that Dunwoody’s Perimeter Center compares favorably to other markets, such as Buckhead, and could experience similar growth over the coming years. The study was completed as part of the city’s Edge City 2.0 project, which is a collaborative effort between the city and the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs) to study what future economic growth could look like in Perimeter Center. The study designates “Edge City” as a two-mile radius around the Dunwoody MARTA Station on the corner of Perimeter Center Parkway NE and Hammond Drive, according to Dunwoody Economic Development Director Michael Starling. The study finds that Dunwoody compares favorably to other metro Atlanta markets. It has the highest educational attainment, the largest daytime employment, the third-highest average household income behind Buckhead and Alpharetta’s North Point area, the second-highest me-

dian home value behind Buckhead, and the second-highest per capita consumer spending behind Buckhead. According to Starling, the city hopes to use the study to find a path forward for development that meets community demands while still remaining achievable for the market. “It’s important that whatever we come up with, that the market will actually build it,” Starling said. Part of the study looked at Dunwoody’s office market and found that while the city has more office inventory than areas like Buckhead and the Cumberland CID, it has the second-highest vacancy rates at 18%, only behind Peachtree Corners’ central business district. Starling said part of the vacancy problem is a holdover from COVID-19, but the city is concerned with fixing the issue. “It’s certainly a concern,” he said. “We do have sort of an uptick in interest but moving forward that’s something we really need to keep an eye on.” Starling said much of the city’s vacant office space sits on the edge of the market

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The State Farm campus in Dunwoody. (City of Dunwoody)

and isn’t near many amenities, which makes it less attractive to businesses. “I’m hoping one of the outcomes of [Edge City 2.0] is really what kind of investment in amenities does the city need to make or promote to help make those older office buildings more marketable,” Starling said. The study also recommended five points for facilitating growth, including adding various types of housing options, leveraging Perimeter Mall, focusing on the community, promoting job creation and economic development, and making Dunwoody unique compared to other similar markets. In regards to housing, Starling said the city is interested in providing housing such as townhomes for seniors who don’t want a large, single-family home, but don’t want to live in an apartment either. “What we don’t have is something in the middle that I think is what a lot of seniors are looking for,” Starling said. “People who want to move out of the big house with the yard and want to move into something that’s a little more convenient.” Starling also spoke about the viability of making Dunwoody a walkable city, which residents and council members have pushed for in the past and has been seen as a draw of some of the city’s new develop-

As seen in Print

ments, such as High Street or Campus 244. Starling said turning a car-oriented city like Dunwoody into a walkable area is a “longterm investment strategy.” “The good news is, what we have found is what residents want, and what office workers want, and what tourists want is all the same thing,” Starling said. “So now for the first time, the investments we make in walkability and multi-use trails and connectivity overall is benefitting all of our stakeholders.” Starling said it will be up to the larger developments, like High Street and Campus 244, to create connectivity within their multi-use developments, and then the city would need to invest in filling in the gaps. According to Starling, input from the two public meetings the city has already had regarding Edge City 2.0 has suggested that residents want more trails, better sidewalks, connectivity in general, more greenspace, and outdoor dining areas. Once the council gives feedback, Starling said the consulting team will focus on coming up with three different growth scenarios to present to the public. Those scenarios are expected to be released in the summer, at which point the city will hold more public input meetings.

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Use this QR code to read extended versions of stories found in this issue. 5/26/22 4:16 PM

Church officials ‘relieved’ Dunwoody drops proposal BY CATHY COBBS During a specially called meeting in early June, the Dunwoody City Council voted to put an end to its attempt to obtain, through eminent domain, a 4-acre parking lot for use as a softball facility. Prior to the meeting, First Baptist Church of Atlanta officials applauded the move, saying they “are relieved by this promising development and so grateful for the city’s favorable response to our appeal. We consider it an answer to our prayers.” First Baptist owns the property, which is located across the street from its campus. During the meeting in June, Dunwoody’s city attorney Ken Barnard said First Baptist has “no interest in selling the property in any circumstance or at any price.”

In addition, Bernard said, the church has plans for future development on the site, located at 2202 Peachford Road, and that they had received several offers above the appraisal that the city had obtained. He did not disclose the appraised amount or the offer that the city had made to the church. In a statement released by First Baptist, church officials said the city had offered to purchase the 4.8-acre site for $350,000, and when it was refused, began eminent domain proceedings. “We were particularly troubled that the city began the process of eminent domain within just days of our refusing their offer to purchase our property for $350,000,” First Baptist Director of Business Operations Kelly Stewart said. “In the previous 18 months, our board of trustees had declined two separate offers from a developer to pay us $4.8 mil-

lion. We’ve made it clear: we simply want to keep our land for the opportunity it gives us to expand our ministry in this community.” Aside from hearing Bernard’s comments before the vote, the council did not discuss the measure, which passed unanimously. After the meeting, Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch said city officials heard the message loud and clear. “The point of posting the notice [about eminent domain] on the property was to foster communications,” Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch said after the vote. “Clearly this process worked because we heard from a lot of people.” According to First Baptist’s statement, the church is looking at a variety of initiatives for the land, including “establishing a support center for families with special needs children, starting a daycare center, expanding the

church’s current foster care ministry with a ‘safe place’ for displaced children for whom a foster home can’t be found.” The church is also discussing the possibility of building a K-4 through 12th grade school.

The parking lot the City of Dunwoody was interested in obtaining. (Cathy Cobbs)

JULY 2022 | 13


Farmers & Fishermen finds niche with small producers BY AMY WENK Kirk Halpern is not only a veteran of the food industry, but a master of logistics. On a recent weekday, the Sandy Springs resident was detailing the latest delivery for his company Farmers & Fishermen Purveyors, a supplier of premium steaks, seafood and other proteins. “I have bronzini (a farm-raised fish) swimming in the waters in Turkey on Saturday,” Kirk said. “It gets delivered to me on Monday.” He explained how the fish was put at the bottom of a jet traveling directly from Istanbul to Atlanta, and then soon after, in the hands of his customers. “So literally today people are getting bronzini that was halfway around the world three days ago,” he said. “That’s the business. The business is how do we bend the curve so that we get fresher and better products to our customers?” Certainly not a conversation you would have with just anyone. But Kirk has spent nearly his entire life immersed in the food distribution business. His most recent venture is Farmers & Fishermen, which he started in 2019 with his son, Ben, a graduate of Riverwood International Charter School. Initially, the company sold directly to restaurants, including some of Atlanta’s finest establishments such as Aria, Atlas and The Chastain. But when the pandemic hit, Kirk quickly pivoted to add home delivery, allowing him to sell directly to customers. “I had no firings, no furloughs, no reduction in pay or benefits,” he said of his employees. “Then, as we grew through COVID, I hired my employee partners’ spouses, kids, nephews, and I built a heck of a business.” The offerings from Farmers & Fishermen

include a variety of high-end meats, such as Westholme wagyu beef, New Zealand lamb racks and venison ribs. The seafood includes Chilean salmon, Arctic char, sea bass, black grouper, lobster, crab, caviar and more. There are also ready-to-heat meals, biscuits, pastas, savory pies, desserts and sauces. Kirk said he thoroughly enjoys the relationships he’s built with smaller farmers and fishermen and how he’s been able to connect them to the restaurant community. “When you are really big, you have to have your upstream partners be really big, too,” he said. But at Farmers & Fishermen,

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Kirk and Ben Halpern of Farmers & Fishermen Purveyors, a supplier of premium meats and seafood. (Photos courtesy of Farmers & Fishermen)

he can work with that smaller producer who may not have the geographic reach or wherewithal to get their product out into the market. “I want to support the small guy,” Kirk said. “I’m able to effectively bring those small farmers’ products to the marketplace, and then deliver to the chef, great tasting products at a fair price but from someone small.” Kirk grew up in the food business. His grandfather was a produce purveyor, who “actually invented [selling] strawberries in pints and flats and potatoes in cardboard boxes,” Kirk said. His father, Howard Halpern, was the founder of Buckhead Beef. Kirk went to work for him after a brief stint as lawyer. In 1999, the family sold Buckhead Beef to food distribution giant Sysco Corp. In 2005, Kirk started another food business, Halperns’ Steak and Seafood, alongside his dad. It grew into a leading Atlanta meat and seafood company, and in 2015, was sold to Gordon Food Service. It may seem as though the family has a bit of a golden touch. But Kirk said, “We work really, really hard. We are only as good as our last delivery.” Now, Halpern looks to pass on Farmers & Fishermen to his son, Ben. “This is a generational company,” Halpern said. “I started it when I was 55. I had a 15-year plan. Five years of [being] really tough on my son … And then, the last five years, if he’s earned it, I work for him.” For more information, visit

Smoked Westholme Wagyu Tri-Tip (Recipe from Farmers & Fishermen) Trim – Using a sharp knife, trim off the silver skin and fat pockets. Each cut is unique and it’s common for certain cuts to have a thicker sinewy layer of fat on the base (or thicker side). To that end, we recommend removing that as it won’t render as well when cooking, providing a chewier texture. Season – A light coating of yellow mustard or oil will help the rub to stick. Then apply your favorite dry rub. One of our favorites is a simple ratio of one part kosher salt, one part ground black pepper, one part spices (granulated garlic, paprika, dark chili powder, and frankly, whatever you like). Smoke – Smoke at 225° F. Fruit wood is great, or oak because it cooks so quickly. Smoked tri tip temp is ideal when the thickest part of the meat is registering at approximately 125°F with an instant-read digital thermometer. 135°F for medium rare. Keep an eye on your temperature and make sure to pull it at the appropriate temperature. Rest – After you hit your target temperature, wrap in foil or butcher paper and allow your delicious smelling smoked meat to rest for at least 15 minutes. Then remove the foil, sprinkle with salt flakes or coarse salt and slice. Slice – Finally, slice thin on a bias by cutting against the grain – the grain on the Tri Tip runs away from the curvature drawn between the two points and toward what’s referred to as the ‘elbow’ – and enjoy!

Morty’s Meat & Supply eyes late fall opening in Dunwoody A new restaurant featuring smoked meats is expected to open in late fall at the Dunwoody Village shopping center. Called Morty’s Meat & Supply, the restaurant will be a “modern take on the meat and three,” according to an announcement. It will feature smoked meats, sides and a sauce station, along with grab-and-go options and weekly specials. Morty’s Meat & Supply will be part of a new entertainment complex from Dash Hospitality Concepts, joining Bar(n) and the Funwoody Food Truck. “We are excited to open our North ‘meats’ South concept to the Dunwoody

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Photo by Shane LaVancher

JULY 2022 | 15


Atlanta scores! 2026 World Cup is Benz bound BY DYANA BAGBY The men’s 2026 World Cup soccer tournament is headed to Atlanta’s MercedesBenz Stadium, a goal city officials and sports fans have been hoping to achieve for years. The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of the World Cup, announced the host cities for one of the most popular sporting events in the world on June 16. FIFA also selected Boston, Dallas, Guadalajara, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Monterrey, New York / New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver as 2026 World Cup host cities. FIFA estimated more than 3.2 billion people watched at least some of the 2018 World Cup. The Atlanta Sports Council, a division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, led the bid process to bring the 2026 men’s World Cup to Atlanta, one that began roughly four years ago. “The biggest sporting event is coming to Atlanta,” Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council, said during a press con-

Mercedes-Benz Stadium was lit up last year to welcome FIFA officials during a tour of potential 2026 World Cup stadiums. FIFA announced June 16 some of the soccer matches will be played in Atlanta. (FIFA)

ference at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after announcements of the host cities concluded. “The global event is connecting an international city with our international diversity and our connectivity to the world to our

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airport,” he said. “It’s a perfect match, if you will pardon the pun.” The 2026 World Cup will be the first played in the U.S. since 1994. The tournament is also the first time three countries are co-hosting. There will be 48 teams playing, up from the traditional 32, so the tournament will produce more games than ever. Gov. Brian Kemp said at the press conference the World Cup is returning to a much more thriving and popular U.S. soccer culture than existed in 1994. “No city embodies this transition more than Atlanta, which has wholeheartedly embraced soccer and supported its growth,” he said. “Since their inaugural season in 2017, our very own Atlanta United have set attendance records for soccer matches in the U.S., with an average attendance rivaling some of the biggest clubs in the world,” Kemp said. “I look forward to the day when we will be united in this state for one of the most impactful events in our state’s history.” Kemp also noted he signed legislation in May that eliminates sales tax on World Cup tickets. Georgia also set aside $250,000 in next year’s budget for security if Atlanta won the bid. More money will be needed for security, Kemp said. But the budget line item let FIFA know the city and state were serious about bringing the World Cup to Atlanta. The world now knows Atlanta is a “soccer town,” said Mayor Andre Dickens. One of the city’s best selling points is MARTA’s direct access from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta

International Airport to the Georgia World Congress Center/CNN Center Station, he said. The transit station serves dozens of hotels and tourist sites near Mercedes-Benz Stadium. By 2026, the massive redevelopment of The Gulch into Centennial Yards is expected to replace acres of asphalt surrounding the stadium with hotels, office towers, restaurants and retail. These new amenities are also selling points. “This area in the next four years is going to look a little different,” he said. “Atlanta is ready to welcome folks from all over the world and fill every seat in this beautiful stadium, just like we do for our Atlanta United matches,” he said. The Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United both play home matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which opened in 2017 and seats about 75,000. The stadium has a retractable roof and artificial turf. FIFA requires World Cup tournaments be played on grass. Stadium officials said there is a plan to convert the stadium to grass for the World Cup, but when the tournament is over, the field will return to turf. A study by the Boston Consulting Group said the 2026 World Cup could mean up to $4 billion in net revenue to North America, or about $90 to $480 million per city after accounting for potential public costs. Atlanta is estimated to get $415 million in ben-

From left, Gov. Brian Kemp, Mayor Andre Dickens and Atlanta Sports Council President Dan Corso. (Dyana Bagby)

efits. Shortly after the announcement, the Atlanta City Council released a group statement: “Atlanta certainly has experience hosting top-tier sporting events in our city, including three Super Bowls and the Olympics, so it’s very exciting to add this incredible event to that rich history. Our city has the venues and the fan base for a truly special atmosphere. This [is] a wonderful opportunity to showcase our city to the world once again.”

Reporter Newspapers SPECIAL SECTION | JULY 2022

Monday, July 4


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Presenting sponsors: Dunwoody Homeowners Association and Reporter Newspapers

Dunwoody 4th of July Parade: Parade of Stars

Dunwoody High School

The parade route is 2.7 miles, stepping off from the intersection of Mt. Vernon Rd. and Jett Ferry Rd. at 9 a.m. It ends at Dunwoody Village. Parade route: JULY 2022 | 17



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2022 GRAND MARSHAL Pam Tallmadge This year’s parade theme is “Parade of Stars” and one of Dunwoody’s biggest stars is Pam Tallmadge. Pam co-chaired the Dunwoody parade for 16 years and grew it into the largest parade in Georgia. Not only is Pam a parade pro, she served on the Dunwoody City Council and is currently an advocate for education, volunteering in many capacities at Dunwoody High School and serving as the executive director for the Charter System Foundation. Pam also sings in the choir at Dunwoody United Methodist Church and has starred in many plays.


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July Highlights 12 1

“Black Panther” Pics in the Park


Dunwoody Fourth of July Parade



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City Hall closed Dunwoody Art Commission Meeting

City Hall 6 p.m.

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“Sassfolk” Brook Run Park Amphitheater 6 - 9 p.m.

Public Hearing: Proposed Millage Rate Increase City Hall 8 a.m.

Dunwoody City Council Meeting City Hall 6 p.m.

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Grayback Base U.S. Submarine Veterans

“Two Very Different Vietnam Combat Tours” Dunwoody Preservation Trust Donaldson-Bannister Farm 9:30 a.m.


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Dunwoody Development Authority Meeting


Dunwoody City Council Meeting


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Freddy Falcon and Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders

The parade starts promptly at 9 a.m. and continues down Mount Vernon to Dunwoody Village. The parade route is about 2 hours. The festival at Dunwoody Village starts after the parade and runs until about 1 p.m.



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Eyeglasses Collection: Bring your used eyeglasses to the parade for recycling at the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation. The Lions International Youth ambassadors and their host families will march with the Atlanta Lions Club and the Lighthouse Mobile Eye Clinic van. Look for the colorful flags of the world, as the students will be parading with their national flags and carrying eyeglass collection boxes.

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FOOD Boy Scout BBQ For more than 20 years, Troop 266 has sold BBQ at the end of the parade in Dunwoody Village. Tickets are $10 ahead of time and $12 at the door. The meal includes a Slope’s BBQ sandwich (pork or chicken), coleslaw, watermelon, chips, brownie and water/tea/ lemonade. You can order your meals online at

Rotary Club hot dogs The Rotary Club of Dunwoody will operate a hot dog stand in the Dunwoody Village parking lot. It will open at 9 a.m. until the parade is over. The revenue helps fund community service projects. They will sell hot dogs, drinks, chips and homemade cookies.


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Charlie’s Army to honor Charlie Cronmiller, who passed away during a nap at a daycare in February 2021.









BY SAMMIE PURCELL At Dunwoody’s Fourth of July Parade this year, look for a group walking with a fire truck. That group is Charlie’s Army. Charlie’s Army is a nonprofit organization started by Stephanie and Eric Cronmiller last year, dedicated to providing young children a voice and empowering parents to make healthy decisions and create safe environments for their families. The Cronmillers started Charlie’s Army in memory of their four-month-old son Charlie, who passed away during a nap at a day-

care in February of 2021. According to a police report, Charlie was found facedown. Stephanie Cronmiller said the idea for Charlie’s Army came around almost immediately and helped her channel her grief over losing her son. “When we lost Charlie, I immediately bounced into, what can I do?” Cronmiller said. “Within a matter of a couple weeks, my husband and I knew we had to do something to continue to honor him, to keep him and his memory alive.” As soon as late February 2021, Cronmiller began researching nonprofits. By

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first responders at Dunwoody parade

Stephanie and Eric Cronmiller, who started Charlie’s Army to honor their son’s memory and to advocate for infants and children.

that summer, Charlie’s Army was up and

they don’t like the way they’re being treat-


ed. So it’s really about empowering parents

“We wanted to be able to advocate for

– ensuring that they are equipped with the

children and infants who can’t talk yet,”

knowledge and tools to have their best in-

Cronmiller said. “They can’t come home

terests in mind.”

and tell you that something’s wrong or

A lot of what Charlie’s Army focuses on

is educating parents on the safest ways for infants to sleep and empowering often overwhelmed or tired parents and caregivers to create healthy and safe environments for children. The foundation partners with different companies like HALO, which provides sleep sacks and swaddles for infants, and Regal Lager’s swaddle brand Love to Dream, and uses those partnerships to help provide parents with swaddles and pamphlets on the “ABCs of Safe Sleep.” Charlie’s Army’s website lists out the ABCs of Safe Sleep, which stand for “Alone,” “Back is Best,” and “Clear the Space.” The ABCs state that the best way for infants to sleep is in a bassinet or crib, on their backs, and in a space clear of everything but a mattress and a sheet. According to Cronmiller, Charlie’s Army has donated multiple swaddles and pamphlets to new parents across the metro area. In one holiday campaign through a partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life team, the foundation received a list of clinics that see the most newborns and was able to raise enough money to buy and donate HALO swaddles to new parents at Harbin Clinic Pediatrics in Cartersville. The foundation also held a golf tournament last year at St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek. Between sponsorships, donations and a silent auction, Charlie’s Army was able to raise about $130,000. The foundation plans to hold another golf tournament on Oct. 7. “Strong4Life has several pillars underneath it, and one of them is specific to Safe Sleep,” Cronmiller said of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta initiative. “For that specific event, we chose to benefit the Safe Sleep program. They’re going to be the beneficiary of this year’s tournament as well.” When it comes to the Dunwoody Fourth of July parade, Cronmiller said she and her husband wanted to find a way to recognize



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the first responders who helped them that day. The Cronmillers live in Chamblee near the border of the two cities, but the daycare where Charlie passed away was located in Dunwoody. “A lot of our experience has been with the first responders of Dunwoody,” she said. “We have felt welcomed and embraced by the community of Dunwoody throughout all of this.” Cronmiller said she attended the 2021 parade and had a wonderful experience. “That’s our target audience,” she said. “It’s families and young children. We just wanted to be able to participate and recognize those first responders who were there for us that day.” Cronmiller said that the idea to walk with a fire truck came from a dream she had after Charlie passed away. She said in the dream, he was wearing a onesie that he often wore that was covered in fire trucks. She and her friends came to view that dream as a sign that Charlie was with her whenever she saw a fire truck in a strange place. All of a sudden, it seemed she and her friends were seeing fire trucks everywhere and began sharing pictures of them with each other. Cronmiller said she thought that walking with the fire truck would be a way to both honor those first responders and share that personal sentiment. The foundation is also expected to hold a giveaway on Instagram that day, donating a HALO bassinet to an expecting or new mother. “I think we’re going to walk behind, or in front of, or with the fire truck.” she said. “I’ve invited friends and family. If they have kids, they’ll be on tricycles or wagons that we’ll have decorated in stars and stripes.” You can learn more about Charlie’s Army at


JULY 2022 | 21

Pam Tallmadge: Off the sidelines and into the spotlight BY CATHY COBBS

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Former Dunwoody councilperson and longtime parade coordinator Pam Tallmadge isn’t used to being in the spotlight, but on July 4, she will be front and center. Tallmadge, who co-chaired the Dunwoody Fourth of July parade for 16 years before retiring in 2021, will be this year’s grand marshal. The parade, which is the largest in Georgia, is co-sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and Reporter Newspapers. DHA president Bob Fiscella said the organization is “tickled pink to honor Pam.” “It seems like Pam had a hand in everything,” Fiscella said. “We appreciate her time as a member of city council, but more so her nearly two decades as co-chair of the Dunwoody parade. It’s the largest Fourth of July parade in the state largely because of Pam’s tireless efforts.” Tallmadge, who served on the city council from 2015 to 2021, had been co-chair with a variety of partners since 2005. She recalled with fondness about how she was “tricked” into the leadership role. “I was with (longtime parade chair) Bill Robinson in the choir at Dunwoody Methodist Church, and he said, ‘Pam I’m not going to chair the parade anymore and I’d like you to be the parade chair.’ I said I didn’t want to be chair, but I would help,” she said. “Then the next week, I read in the newspaper that I was the new parade chair.” Despite the sleight of hand, Tallmadge embraced it wholly, serving for the next 16 years with a variety of co-chairs that included Laura Jester, Penny Forman, Jan Akers, and her now-successor, Matt Weber. She admits

this year’s festivities will be an unfamiliar experience. “It’s very strange not to have my hand on the steering wheel,” she said. “When they told me that I was going to be the grand marshal, I think it might have been the first time I’ve ever been speechless.” Longtime friend Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch said Tallmadge’s long reach into many areas of the community earned her the

honor of leading the procession. “Pam has impacted our community in so many positive ways. The schools, city council, Light Up Dunwoody, Dunwoody Methodist Church, and of course the parade, have all benefited from her time and talent,” Deutsch said. “While she didn’t start the parade, she certainly is the key to it becoming the largest parade in the state of Georgia.” Tallmadge said she has thousands of pleasant memories associated with the event, but one she recalls with profound sadness. “When we had to cancel the parade in 2020 because of the pandemic, I cried all throughout the day,” she said. “It was terrible. I felt so bad for Dunwoody.” Tallmadge, who now lives in Woodstock, said highlights during her tenure included appearances by military bands and soldiers, the Black Hawks military helicopters flying over the parade, and any appearance that involved horses. She does have one memory that stands above the rest – the three times that naturalization ceremonies were held as part of the parade after-party. “What a better day than the Fourth of July to be sworn in as a citizen of this great country,” she said. “Talk about tears – what a spectacular event.” The 2.7-mile parade route steps off from the intersection of Mount Vernon Road and Jett Ferry Road at 9 a.m., proceeds west on Mt. Vernon to Dunwoody Village, turns right onto Dunwoody Village Parkway, circles around the Parkway, and left into Dunwoody Village in between First Watch and Citizens Bank.

From humble beginnings came Georgia’s largest parade BY CAROL NIEMI Dunwoody’s 4th of July parade is the largest Independence Day parade in Georgia. Except for 2020, when COVID canceled it, cheering fans have lined both sides of its 2.7mile route along Mt. Vernon Road every year for decades. In 2021, it attracted roughly 35,000 spectators from far and wide — all united as Americans to celebrate living in the freest country on the planet. Last year, we received an email from Steve Kroeger about the passing of his mother, Lois Kroeger, who with her husband, Harlan, had organized the very first Dunwoody 4th of July parade back in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial. A phone call with Steve revealed the parade’s surprisingly humble beginnings — a story worth knowing for those of us who love the parade. So what happened back then 46 years ago? For 1976, President Gerald Ford announced a national yearlong celebration to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Committees formed throughout the country to plan celebrations. After the political turmoil of the 1960s, Watergate and the Vietnam War, Americans were ready to celebrate. In the spring of 1976, the Dunwoody Woman’s Club (DWC) formed a committee led by Gerry Spruill to figure out how Dunwoody would celebrate the year. When someone suggested a 4th of July parade, DWC member Lois Kroeger eagerly volunteered to lead the effort, and she and her husband, Harlan, became the parade co-organizers. She was a retired Northwest Airlines flight attendant. He coowned a wholesale furniture company and traveled a lot. Neither had ever planned a parade, and neither had Dunwoody which was 32 years away from cityhood. Many thought it couldn’t be done. And the Kroegers had but a few months to make it happen. As Steve remembers, they immediately began recruiting neighbors, friends and family to help to recruit local businesses, churches and civic organizations to participate. What they lacked in experience, they made up for with enthusiasm. “My parents were very patriotic,” said Steve. “They were in high school during World War II, when everyone was united. They were raised to appreciate our freedoms and knew many people who had served and many casualties.”

“Enjoy Living”

The first parade had about 40 individuals in cars, a marching band of musicians from several high schools, a dance band called The Notables on a flatbed truck, swim team floats and clowns led by Steve’s sister, Katie. John Linder, a neighbor of the Kroegers in the Branches and a Georgia State House Representative (later a U.S. Congressman), recruited U.S. Senator Herman Talmadge to be grand marshal. “Sen. Talmadge was the old Georgia. Dunwoody was the new Georgia,” he said. Effie Carpenter, the oldest living Dunwoody resident, was the honorary grand marshal. “She rode in an air-conditioned car, the only VIP who didn’t ride in a convertible,”

VILLA PA L A Z Z O SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY Lois Kroeger and her husband, Harlan, organized the very first Dunwoody 4th of July parade in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial.

said Steve. One near disaster occurred when the original Uncle Sam moved away at the last minute. Steve was drafted to take his place. His mother worked with a church friend to create the costume. “It was a hundred percent polyester,” he said. The DWC ran the parade for five years but stopped when it became too big for them to handle. It restarted under Bill Robinson and the Dunwoody Homeowners Association (DHA) in 1991. Pam Tallmadge took Robinson’s place in 2005. Dunwoody’s beloved parade has missed only one year since. The DHA is still the main sponsor — along with this newspaper.

“Enhancing Life & Wellness with Each Touchpoint”

Assisted Living & Memory Care Services We look forward to seeing you soon.

Please call or email Chelsea Taylor to set up your personal visit today or 470.955.3230 1260 Hightower Trail, Sandy Springs GA 30350 | JULY 2022 | 23

O W O N DY U D Monday, July 4, 2022 | 9 am Theme: Parade of Stars Grand Marshal: Pam Tallmadge Presented By

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For parade information and registration, go to


Pets & Their People In honor of our furry friends, we asked readers to submit photos of their beloved animals. We received many doggie pics, a few kitties and even a miniature horse! Scan the QR code for more photos or visit Bailey with Sarah Giles and Anna Edwards of Sandy Springs.

Bentley and Marli with Monica Thornton of Brookhaven.

Sponsored by

Bonnie with Zachary and Olivia Cruthirds of Dunwoody.

Bode with Emily Bergeon of Brookhaven Comere with Antoine Odom of Buckhead.

Daisy and David Borchardt of Sandy Springs.

Bodhi with Cate, Charlie and Eli Levy of Morningside.

Bunny and Barnsley with Hampton Harris of Dunwoody.

Chiclet, Sprocket, Ziggy and Louie, who belong to Patt Wagner of Ashford Park.

JULY 2022 | 25

Chief with John Dwyer of Buckhead.

Covey Whitepaw with Barbara Bollinger of Buckhead.

Delilah with Alan Vaughn of Buckhead.

Sadie with Justin Harris of Buckhead.

Ellie with Anna Barton-Caucci at the Garden Hills duck pond.

Dottie with sisters Lori Krugman of Old 4th Ward and Dana Krugman Richin of Sandy Springs. Eiffel with Lauren Sok of Dunwoody.

Etta, Penny and Moon with Bob Tucker of Sandy Springs.

Fenway with Anne Rohling of Sandy Springs.


Prince and Penny with Hope r e p o r t e rof new Owrtli Buckhead.

Hank with Tony Bonno of Brookhaven.

Greta with Drew and Kaede-Ray Smith of Piedmont Heights.

Haggis with Chef Kevin Gillespie of Buckhead. Huckleberry with Brian and Jennifer Smith of Brookhaven.

Okie with Rena Ann Peck of Buckhead.

Rafiki with Austin Taylor of Dunwoody, who is headed to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Lucy and Charlie with Cama Gebhart of Brookhaven.

Roosevelt the miniature horse with Ursula Shields of Sandy Springs. Sugar and Bear, loved by Tami and Jeff Kushner of Sandy Springs.

Tilly and Georgia with Sophie Wexler of Dunwoody. Lilly with Rick Butgereit and Meg Reggie of Sandy Springs. Vincent with Robin Shore of Buckhead.

Smooshy with Keitha Faile of Buckhead.

Stella and Olli, loved by Susan Cohen of Sandy Springs.

JULY 2022 | 27


The Village Vets on falling in love, TV shows and balancing work with family Dr. Francoise Tyler and Dr. William Draper of The Village Vets with their dog, Beau. (Photo by Joann Vitelli)

BY SAMMIE PURCELL When Francoise Tyler and William Draper met at Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, they couldn’t have known what was coming. The two married after vet school in 1993, but didn’t date during their time as students. According to Tyler, something changed around graduation. “We were best friends in vet school, right up until we graduated,” said Tyler, an Atlanta native. “And then, I guess our eyes opened up.” The two vets now run a series of practices called The Village Vets, the first of which they started in 2000. That first practice was made up of just the two of them and a couple of other employees, but now they have seven practices in the Atlanta area, one in Pennsylvania, and around 170 employees, according to Draper. That includes locations in Buckhead,

Decatur and Westside Atlanta. Their newest practice is in Avondale Estates, where they primarily work at the moment.

Early Dreams Of the two, Tyler was the one who knew she wanted to be a vet from a very young age. She had an interest in science and math and said she couldn’t really remember a time where being a vet wasn’t on the brain. “I was interested in medicine in general,” she said. “My dad is a retired orthopedist, so when I was little, I got to hang around with him and go see patients. I always heard about his cases, and it was very interesting.” Draper, on the other hand, had a bit of soul-searching to do before figuring it out. Raised in Inglewood, Calif., he recalled a trip he took to Tuskegee with his family at age 11. Both his parents and grandparents had met at Tuskegee, and Draper was eager to follow in their footsteps. He thought that he wanted to be an engineer, just like his father. “We happened to be in Tuskegee when I was 11, and [my father] was going over to the engineering building,” Draper said. “I walked over there with him because I wanted to see where I was going to school, and he said to me, ‘I’ve been thinking about that. To be an engineer, you really have to have a good grasp of math. And you don’t.’” After dishing out that tough truth, Draper’s father suggested that his son put his science skills and his love of animals to use and think about veterinary medicine. The rest is history.




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While the practice came first, Tyler and Draper were soon presented with an interesting opportunity; a television show. Draper said the television network Nat Geo Wild approached the couple and asked them to take part in a show called “Love & Vets.” “They were looking for a married vet couple in a major market who owned their own practice, and they found us,” Draper said. The show ran for one season of three episodes in 2017 and didn’t get picked up for more. But now, with the show available for streaming on Disney+ and rental on other streaming services, Draper said he’s noticed a slight resurgence in its popularity. “It’s funny, people will come to me and tell me they’ve seen … all eight episodes,” Draper said. “And I’m like, ‘There are only three.’” The couple thought about trying the television lifestyle again after that spike in popularity, but ultimately decided not to. They still had children in school at the time, and Tyler in particular said she couldn’t see a way to make it work. “I pride ourselves on being involved parents, and it was getting in the way,” Tyler said.

Balancing Family with Work Now that the couple’s children are older and out of the house, balancing family life with work responsibilities has become a bit easier. But that wasn’t always the case. “When they were smaller, I will say that I struggled,” Tyler said. “Will and I come from the old school thought that you work, you work, you work. Especially being business owners, it’s your responsibility. Ultimately, everything eventually falls on your shoulders. I took that to heart, and Will too.” Running both a business and a family can take its toll on anyone. Tyler said she felt a pressure to excel at both of her jobs and at times found it difficult to thread the needle of being there for her patients and being there for her children in equal measure. She remembered that when two of her daughters were both playing softball, there were times when she would mix up who had a game and who had practice, and accidentally send them off in the wrong uniforms. “I wanted to do 110% for both jobs, as a vet and as a mom,” Tyler said. “But I struggled. I was running, I mean literally, physically running, out of the hospital, or to this game, or back to the hospital.” The couple both said they wouldn’t have gotten by without the help of their friends and family, and despite any mix ups or times when they were running on fumes, they made it work and showed up for their kids. “Fran and I are a great team, and somebody was always at that game,” Draper said. “Somebody was always at that dance recital. We made sure that they saw us there and that we were involved.”

Taking Responsibility Both Tyler and Draper talked about the responsibilities they felt being a successful minority couple in a predominantly white profession. According to Data USA, 81.9% of veterinarians in 2019 were white and non-hispanic. In the same year, 67.3% were female. “One of the things that is important to Fran and me – and we take it seriously and understand it’s a responsibility we have just because of who we are – is the fact that we’re minorities in a profession dominated by old white guys, and now by young to middleaged white women,” Draper said. “There’s still people to this day … that will come in and have never seen a Black veterinarian before.” Draper said that because of that reality, he thinks if the proper vehicle for a television show ever came around and didn’t invade the couples’ lives as much, he might think about taking it on. “We understand our responsibility to use the gift of this great profession to encourage other young minorities to pursue positions in medicine and the sciences,” Draper said. You can learn more about The Village Vets at

Hank and Ranger are dogs on duty

Hank, a K9 with the Dunwoody Police Department. (Courtesy of Highland Canine Training)

a group of citizens founded the Dunwoody Police Foundation, a 501c3, with three goals: provide emergency financial support to individual officers injured on the job, buy special police equipment needed but not budgeted One of the PD held a contest in which voters renamed and support DPD outreach. Terry Nall, then stars at this them Hank and Ranger. a Dunwoody City Council member, helped year’s LemonWhen they arrived at Highland in early recruit board members. ade Days Festi2021, Hank was two years old, and Ranger Then COVID hit, essentially crippling the val was a Belgian was 18 months. For four months, they unCarol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs linenew and organization. When Nall came off City Malinois named derwent rigorous training, which also includwrites about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at Council in 2020, he joined the board and Hank. Surrounded being good with children, facilitated by the donated the remainder of his unsuccessful ed by kids, he staff children at the farm where the training was so calm he didn’t mind little hands petting his head from behind – something I would have never tried with my

facility is located. Their handlers, Officer Eric Drum (Hank) and Officer Chris Irwin (Ranger), each spent three weeks living and training at the farm. The intense training marked the beginning of BY CAROL NIEMI a bond for each pair that would soon go beyond work. miniature poodle. “Hank is very mellow. Eric loved that dog Hank is a K9 with the Dunwoody Police from Day One,” Parsnow said. “Ranger is Carol Niemi a marketing consultant whoChris lives onwas the DunwoodyDepartment. While he never took hisiseyes off quite hyper. very patient.” Springs about people whosejoined lives inspire his handler, DPD Officer EricSandy Drum, andline theand writesSince the dogs the force last fall, yellow rubber tug toy in Drum’sothers. hand,Contact Hankher at they’ve made possible arrests that would have was definitely there for the people. been otherwise impossible. Hank and his fellow DPD K9, Rang“We were called to do a car sniff in Chamer, a Dutch shepherd, are not the typical atblee,” said Irwin. “Ranger alerted, and we tack dogs of moviedom. They’re sniffing dogs, found five pounds of crystal methamphettrained to find narcotics, trail lost people or amine. I’m surprised we couldn’t smell it. He suspects and search for weapons and contrapulled me so hard he almost pulled me off my band. feet.” The trainer at Highland Canine TrainHank helped with another arrest in Chaming in Harmony, North Carolina, said Hank blee when he and Officer Drum were called couldn’t have been a bite dog even if she had for mutual assistance for a stolen vehicle with wanted him to be. three armed-robbery suspects inside. “He’s the best-behaved dog I’ve ever “They jumped out and took off running,” trained. He completely ignored our bite said Drum. “Someone’s house had recorded suits,” said Shana Parsnow, who in 2020 had them on a Ring camera. I cast Hank, and he ordered him and Ranger specifically for the tracked [two of] them to a general area, with DPD as “single-purpose dogs” from a breedseveral officers around us. I recast Hank and er in Poland. he ran straight to the third.” Their disposition and personality requireAcquiring the K9s, long on a DPD wish ments were “sociability with people, neutrallist, might not have happened had it not been ity with other dogs and environmental stafor the Dunwoody Police Foundation, foundbility.” In other words, they would get along ed by Rick Holland in late 2019. After attendwith people and other dogs and wouldn’t be ing the Dunwoody Citizens’ Police Academy, afraid of slick floors, highways, loud noises Holland was so impressed by the job the poand things other dogs find scary. lice were doing he wanted to make a finanThe dogs were socialized while in Poland cial donation. and trained in German to basic commands. Discovering there was no way to make a While they were still there, the Dunwoody direct cash contribution to the police, he and


mayoral campaign account to the Foundation. In 2021, he became board president. Working with the Dunwoody Rotary, the DPF raised enough money to pay for half Officer Christopher the $40,000 Irwin with K9 Ranger. cost of the dogs, (Courtesy of Stell Shots their training Photography LLC) and equipment, with the remainder covered by the DPD’s asset forfeiture account. “It was our largest project so far,” said Nall, who hopes to expand the board and grow membership. For information on the Dunwoody Police Foundation, go to To meet Hank and Ranger, come to the Foundation booth at the celebration in Dunwoody Village at the end of the 4th of July parade, where they will be greeting fans and giving out souvenirs.

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Farm Hounds finds success with all-natural dog treats Atlanta-based Farm Hounds dehydrates animal parts to create nutritious dog treats and chews. (Farm Hounds)

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BY DYANA BAGBY Farm Hounds is an ecommerce business that sells dog treats and chews. Not your typical chews, though. They package and ship duck heads, pig snouts, pork hearts, turkey feet and chicken jerky. Their products also include hog hide rolls, turkey gizzard sticks and duck strips. Dehydrated beef blood churned into sprinkles make yummy food toppers and a best seller. The Atlanta company gets the raw materials for its all-natural dog treats and chews from its partner farms dedicated to humane animal treatment, including no use of antibiotics or hormones. The farmers also follow regenerative agriculture practices that promote a healthy ecosystem for livestock and the land. “You’re seeing just a huge movement of people who want their pets to have quality food and they also want to give them quality treats, which is where we come in,” said Stephen Calsbeek, co-owner of Farm Hounds. The history of Farm Hounds goes back to 2004 when the owners opened a dog boarding company that featured an area where they sold a selection of treats and food. The popularity of that retail space, dubbed The Whole Dog Market, became so popular, several more stores opened. The Whole Dog Market now has stores near Piedmont Park, in Vinings, Sandy Springs and Westside Village. In 2015, a farmer from White Oak Pastures, a farm in Bluffton, Ga., came into


one of the stores and asked about developing all-natural treats and chews direct from the farm. “And it opened our eyes to farmers having access to products that cannot go to human markets, but that dogs love to chew,” Calsbeek said. Today, Farm Hounds partners with White Oak Pastures and numerous other family farms to produce and sell treats and chews made from raw animal materials. The company has a manufacturing facility in Marietta where the animal parts are dehydrated and a warehouse in Smyrna where a team packages the A dog prepares online orders for to snack on a shipping. duck head from And business is Farm Hounds. booming. In 2019, (Farm Hounds) Farm Hounds received 2,212 online orders; in 2020, the company did 8,200 orders. In 2021, as COVID-19 continued and ecommerce soared, Farm Hounds filled nearly 32,000 orders. Summertime historically means a drop in orders because people are traveling, Calsbeek said. But so far, the company is close to 50% over where it was this time last year. “We’ve done a really good job building a community and doing something that has a little bit of a nice niche that isn’t really replicated to the level we’re doing it,” he said. “We let people know where the treats and chews come from and put the farm’s name on every single product,” he said. “This connects our customers to the small regenerative agricultural farms that we’re working with to source good products and to make good treats. Dogs love it and their parents are happy.”


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From visionary to protégé: Bill Lowe Gallery appoints new executive director mented Johnson’s belief that he deserved a place in the art world. “Bill was an iconic figure for me,” recalled Johnson, who said they also bonded over their perception of artwork as deeply spiritual and inexorably linked to mysticism and alchemy. “I think especially in a world like the one we live in now, we need as much of a spiritual experience as we can get.” Johnson landed his position at the Bill Lowe Gallery as a young man fresh out of high school. Filled with ambition and a desire to build a career working in art, Johnson began contacting local galleries and museums in search of an opportunity. He set out on foot for an interview, walking all the way down Peachtree Street and Piedmont to get to the gallery. He described his first experience in the gallery as an existential moment, akin to standing at the foot of Niagara Falls. After the interview, during his walk home, Lowe called and offered him the job. In the years since the two became not only coworkers but also close friends. “He was like my best friend for a really long time, and my biggest mentor and inspiration. He was my foundation for just about all of what I’m doing now. He was really a huge part of my formation as a human being in general.” Toward the end of his life, Lowe appointed Johnson to the position of executive director. After Lowe’s passing, Johnson has stepped up to lead the gallery equipped with the knowledge and wisdom passed down from its legendary founder. When asked about the direction of the gallery now, his perspec(Photo courtesy of Bill Lowe Gallery) tive of the gallery’s future, and the way Lowe’s vision lives on through Johnson, he made one thing perfectly in the South is not easy… It was horrible.” clear: he intends to build on Lowe’s work, not He speaks of his experiences with the wisdom simply continue it. that comes from persevering despite the chal“We cannot just rest on the fact that this lenges he faced. In his youth, Johnson leaned is the Bill Lowe Gallery,” he said. “We have on his tenacity and found that art could act to move into 2022 with the rest of the world. as an armor as he moved through the world. My vision for the gallery is to help it evolve.” It also became a language through which he The gallery’s 2022 schedule has been cuwas able to speak and be heard beyond the rated as a sort of homage to the history and spoken word. As a teenager, he began drawlegacy of Bill Lowe’s evolution since it was ing and painting, with a deep love for fashion. founded in 1989. Each show will highlight One of his first formative interactions with artists who were foundational cornerstones in art was when he saw an Alexander McQueen the gallery’s history. In this way, Johnson seeks show in late 2007. McQueen, an an opento pay respect to Lowe’s legacy, the gallery itly gay fashion icon from the United Kingself, and the work which has made it what it dom, was known for his dramatic and theatis today. Come 2023, Johnson is refocusing rical catwalk shows. Describing it as a pivotal on evolution. moment in his life, seeing this show opened “This gallery has always been, as Bill would Johnson’s eyes to the possibility that he, too, say, a portal to global visual culture. I love that. could make a career out of art. Meeting Lowe, My hope is to make good on that vision.” also a gay man from the South, further ce-

Donovan Johnson, the newly appointed executive director of Bill Lowe Gallery. (Photo by William Twitty)

BY ISADORA PENNINGTON Founded 33 years ago by William “Bill” Edward Lowe, the Bill Lowe Gallery is one of Atlanta’s premier art galleries located in Miami Circle, an arts district in south Buckhead. Bill Lowe Gallery has grown to become a driving force of contemporary art in the Southeast and beyond. Driven by Bill Lowe, a visionary whose leadership brought elite artists and art lovers together for more than three decades, the gallery embraces a kind of “concierge approach,” which enables the gallery team to provide a curatorial experience for clients. They are able to pull from their extensive collection and established relationships with artists in Atlanta and beyond to source museum-quality works that perfectly suit their clients. In 2021, a slow tragedy began to unfold behind the doors of the Bill Lowe Gallery. The team, described as more of a family than a group of coworkers, bore witness to Lowe’s battle with Lymphoma. When he ultimately passed away in December of 2021, the loss sent shockwaves through the gallery and the arts community in Atlanta. Lowe, a legendary figure in the local arts community, was incredibly knowledgeable, insightful, humorous, and personable. He was the kind of leader who was easy to talk to and always eager to learn new things. In one conversation I had with Lowe towards the end of 2020, he spoke about how much he loved the magic qualities of art; the ability for an artist to take a vision and make it reality through transmutation. To Lowe, art has the capacity to create a shift both in perception and feeling. His interest in metaphysics lent him an otherworldly approach to curating his


gallery, seeking works that were evocative and, in a way, divine. Showcasing works of luminaries such as Thornton Dial, Todd Murphy, Ida Applebrog, Michael David, Dale Chihuly, Markus Lűpertz and Jimmy O’Neal, Lowe proved that the Bill Lowe Gallery could be an outlet for museum-quality exhibitions in Atlanta. “Good God, he was extraordinary,” reminisced Donovan Johnson, the newly appointed executive director of Bill Lowe Gallery. Johnson worked closely with Lowe, someone who he considers both a mentor and a friend, for the past decade. His career at Bill Lowe began when he was a gallery intern in 2012. He was later promoted to media coordinator, and then took a brief stint away when he was recruited to work in the now shuttered Lisa Cooley Gallery in the Lower East Side of New York City. After his return to Atlanta, Johnson took a job in sales at the Hathaway Contemporary Gallery before following his heart right back to the doors of the Bill Lowe Gallery in 2018. Shortly thereafter, Johnson was appointed to the position of Assistant Director. “Bill and I always had a really dynamic working relationship,” explained Johnson. “I think that he really understood me, and I really understood and believed in his vision for the gallery. What was important to me was the spiritual aspect of this work; there’s a profoundly spiritual element to art in general.

They channel some type of spirit or energy to create these physical manifestations.” Johnson’s childhood was marked by transition, as he grew up on military bases and moved frequently from place to place. His family lived in a number of locations including Texas, Panama, and Germany, which lent him a unique understanding of the world and society. Eventually they settled in Atlanta when Johnson was in middle school. His school experience here was, to put it gently, not great. “Being a Queer Black man

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Paddling a river has never been easier (Photos courtesy of Georgia River Network)

Water is magical. It’s not only a liquid that sustains all life, although that should certainly be far more than enough; the molecules of oxygen and hydrogen also inspire, energize and soothe. There’s a scientific reason BY SALLY BETHEA why we love flowing, plunging and spraying water—why being around moving water can improve our moods. It’s called negative ions. Molecules that have gained or lost an electrical charge are created in nature when air molecules break apart due to a variety of influences from sunlight to moving water. The action of falling water and crashing waves (or even a bathroom shower) creates negative ions that bond with air particles. When we breathe in this charged air, the negative ions enter our bloodstream. They produce biochemical reactions that can relieve stress, boost energy and reduce depression. By increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain, the negative ions can also enhance alertness. As the Chattahoochee’s riverkeeper for more than twenty years, I benefited regularly from the stimulating negative ions at



memorable waterfalls (Horse Trough, Hilly Mill and Vickery Creek Falls) and shoals (Buck, Smith Island, Bush Head and Daniel Shoals) in the watershed. In these places, I always felt fully alive, immersed in the moment. Blissful, yet energetic.

The paddling life I am not an expert kayaker, but I really love to be on, or near, flowing water. Usually, I can manage rapids of medium difficulty (Class II), unless my attention wanders to something interesting nearby and I collide with a rock. Rhythmically dipping my paddle into the water—left, right, and repeat—is a powerful and also relaxing movement. Paddling my kayak—just a few inches above the water’s surface—I am mesmerized by river currents, swirling eddies and underwater rocks, logs and aquatic plants. Agile dragonflies speed toward my boat, then turn away suddenly using their powerful, transparent wings. Kingfishers dart about, hunting for fish; I pretend that these small birds with their large heads and long bills are leading me downstream. Smells are suggestive of fish, small animals, flower blooms, muddy riverbanks and decaying plants, when I take deep breaths of the cool, moist air. In retirement, I have hiked far more miles than I have kayaked; however, these walks have regularly included water features: rocky streams plunging down steep slopes, lakes, canals and ocean shorelines. We are drawn to water—the precious

lications. Teams of interns from the University of Georgia and other institutions supported the research. I downloaded the app—available in Apple and Google Play stores— and found it very easy to use, even for an oldster like myself. One of my favorite features is the gauge data, which provides a river flow range for recreation expressed in cubic feet per second (cfs), and a link to the gauge on the water trail with real-time data. It is not fun, or safe, to paddle a river that is extremely low or high.

Paddling takes a mix of knowledge and skills and a bit (but not too much) of daring. GRN has helped thousands of people learn how to feel comfortable and safe on the water; their new app is making it even easier to plan your own trips. As Kenneth Grahame wrote long ago in The Wind and the Willows, “There is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” For more information, visit

day and multi-day paddle trips (including the annual Paddle Georgia event), water safety classes, a river user guidebook series and advocacy action alerts. GRN has also supported local efforts to create water trails statewide for public access and enjoyment. Recently, GRN released a free Georgia River Guide mobile app—a new tool to help people experience our state’s more than thirty water trails, totaling 2,500 miles of accessible waterways. It’s amazing! For each water trail, you can find outfitters, river access points, mileage, waterfalls and other points of interest. Importantly, safety information is included, such as river difficulty, potential hazards and rapids. Know before you go! In the works for many years prior to its release, the River Guide app was curated by river experts, water trail groups, riverkeepers, government agencies and various pub-

uid that constitutes 60% of our bodies. This past spring, I joined friends to paddle on two iconic Georgia rivers: the Flint and the Etowah. On Mother’s Day, the nonprofit Flint Riverkeeper offered a sixmile trip through Yellow Jacket Shoals in Upson County to see the emerging blooms of the spectacular shoals spider-lilies. (We did not run the most difficult line through the challenging, Class III shoals; in fact, I dragged my boat around and over a few rocks.) The adventure was every bit as wonderful, as I had anticipated. Spanish moss, eel grass, clear water, shoal bass, forested riverbanks and no trash! The Flint’s riverkeeper, Gordon Rogers, does a great job of protecting his river. A week later, I paddled nine miles on the Etowah River with a small group organized by my friend Alan Cressler—a federal scientist, intrepid adventurer, and outstanding photographer. Other participants were naturalists, birders and hydrologists. The river was higher than usual on the beautiful, late spring day, so we had few shoals to navigate. Again, and as always, I finished the trip feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I drove back to the city, thinking about my next kayaking and snorkeling adventure on the Conasauga River in late summer with Georgia River Network.

New river guide app Founded in 1998, Georgia River Network (GRN) works to empower everyone to enjoy, connect with and advocate for clean, flowing rivers. The nonprofit offers

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Buckhead’s famed Round House keeps distinctive character BY MELODY HARCLERODE A Buckhead mid-century modern home designed by noted architect Cecil Alexander for his family had been on the market for more than a year before a visit from Ted and Susan Pound. While prospective buyers saw a house completed in 1957 as a structure in need of updates, Susan envisioned this home, affectionately called the Round House, as “a wonderful place to raise their family.” Alexander, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects who died at age 95 in 2013, founded the architectural firm FABRAP (1958-1984) and was a well-respected civil rights leader, who designed the 20012003 Georgia state flag. Alexander added his distinct design sensibilities to the Round House, just as he did with prominent Atlanta structures like the former AT&T building, Georgia Power headquarters, and the now-demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. A dramatic atrium with a skylight, reminiscent of the oculus in the ancient Pantheon, centered the rooms in the circular home. Scenic views of the 3.75-acre wooded property from five bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and a light-filled living room and the joyful vibe of the home could imprint

The Round House in Buckhead. (Photos by Joe Boris)

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a creative mindset for their two children. As the son of a Columbus, GA-based architect, Ted aspired to honor the unique design of the home featured in national magazines. Since their 2006 purchase of the Round House, the Pounds have been careful with renovation projects to preserve the character of the home. Bathrooms have been renovated. Additional lighting into the atrium has encouraged nighttime use of the space. The roof, electrical wiring, and mechanical systems have been replaced. New exterior windows have transformed the basement into an inviting multi-purpose room. Until Alexander’s death in 2013, the couple formed a friendship with the architect and his wife Helen as they consulted with him about major home improvement projects. The Pounds also engaged talented architects, contractors, and artists, such as Noel Dent and Anne Terhokoski, for over a decade for modernization projects at the Round House. The married artists enlivened the kitchen recently by replacing a copper backsplash with their handcrafted art-tile. Clean lines and simple shapes in the design reflect a Scandinavian-influenced design. A shared love for crafts-

manship has built admiration between the Pounds and Dent and Terhokoski. Recent exterior modernizations include a finely detailed small addition to the home by architect Steve Robinson of Axios Architecture, LLC that resolves longstanding structural problems from the deck. New walkways allow the homeowners to stroll around the home, to access a new outdoor spa and fireplace pit, and to enjoy the flora and fauna of the property. While extreme home makeovers attract attention and television viewers, the Pounds demonstrate the value of restrained improvements and kindhearted stewardship of architecturally significant homes. For these distinctive landmarks, great renovations are assessed by how thoughtfully the home is improved and preserved.


Newell’s Ravi Saligram: Atlanta can be a national role model

Reporter Newspapers has partnered with Saporta Report to provide local business news from one of Atlanta’s most respected journalists, Maria Saporta.

BY MARIA SAPORTA Sometimes it takes a newcomer’s perspective to see Atlanta’s potential. That’s the case with Ravi Saligram, the CEO of Newell Brands, a Fortune 500 company that brought back its headquarters to Atlanta in 2019 after moving to New Jersey for three years. “If we can’t make Atlanta work in terms of a united America where race is not an issue, it’s going to be difficult to make it work anywhere,” Saligram said during an interview at Newell’s Sandy Springs headquarters on June 2. “Atlanta is a cosmopolitan city. We have to make it work. Atlanta has to be a role model on how you can create the utopian dream here, that you can grow and thrive in Atlanta.” Saligram, who has been Newell’s CEO since October 2019, has led the company’s turnaround — financially, operationally and in employee satisfaction. Newell was just named one of Fortune magazine’s world’s most admired companies. The last time the company made that list was in 1994 when it was called Rubbermaid. The national accolades have been pouring in. “When I came in October 2019, our employee engagement scores were at 45%,” Saligram said. “Consultants said it was one of the worst scores they had ever seen. And they said it would take 10 years to fix, or if we were lucky — seven years. We just did the survey in November. In two years, our employee engagement numbers improved to 75% — the level of world-class companies.”

ception.” Each business unit had its own warehouse and distribution system. “We are taking 23 supply chains and combining them into one,” Saligram said of the reorganization that will start in July. “It is the biggest symbolic manifestation of ‘One Newell.’”

Integration plan

The turnaround

While many people may not recognize Newell by name, they are well familiar with its products — Sharpie, Coleman, Oster, Sunbeam, Mr. Coffee, Rubbermaid, Graco and Calphalon to name a few. Managing all the various products under one entity can be an organizational challenge. Companies struggle on whether to have a centralized model or a decentralized one — a tension that had been at play at Newell for years. “We were acting like eight $1 billion to $2 billion companies rather than a $10 billion company,” Saligram said. “We needed centralization and decentralization to exist harmoniously. I banned the word division. That comes from divided. We went to business units — semi-autonomous, interdependent business units. Each unit would be front-facing to the consumer. We are unifying the back end.” Saligram calls the integration plan the “boldest thing Newell has done since its in-

So far, the company is going strong under Saligram’s leadership. Newell posted 12.5% organic growth last year, and in the first quarter of 2022, revenues grew by 6.9%. This is despite all the challenges of the past couple of years – COVID, George Floyd social justice issues, supply chain issues, inflation, Ukraine, rising old prices, etc. “Our people have displayed and unlocked their resiliency,” Saligram said. “We were in a turnaround. Most companies would have capsized [under the pressure of all those factors.] Instead, we are thriving. I can confidently say the turnaround has reached its end. We are now becoming predictable, stable and sustainable. We are really contemplating what we want to be when we grow up.” For Saligram, a major area of focus is international. Already, more than a third of the company’s revenues come from outside the United States, but he would like its international business to grow faster than

Ravi Saligram at Newell’s headquarters in June 2020. (Photo by Joann Vitelli)

Newell’s domestic business. Another area of focus for him has been making sure diversity and inclusion are part of the company’s core. He has worked hard to make sure Newell’s employees feel a sense of belonging to the company — that they can bring their best selves and their true selves to work, “Diversity is so important. You want different ideas. You need different skill sets,” Saligram said. “You want the harmonious collision of ideas.” It is a lesson Saligram has had to learn both professionally and personally. When we spoke two years ago, his daughter was dating a Black man from the Ivory Coast, who she had met while attending Harvard. Saligram, an immigrant from India, candidly said it made him examine his own feelings about race. Since then, his daughter got married in November with three separate wedding events — an Indian wedding, an African wedding and a celebratory party. Saligram described his daughter’s in-laws, who don’t speak English, as fun-loving and warm. “I was really impressed about the blending of the families,” said Saligram, who is Hindu. Saligram is also a vegetarian who doesn’t eat vegetables — a fact that had escaped me two years ago. When we met at Newell’s headquarters for lunch, he dined on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Community involvement Saligram also has become more involved in the Atlanta community. He’s on the board of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, he’s on the executive committee of the Woodruff Arts Center and he wants to become more involved in the Atlanta community – especially working in the areas of race relations, equity and inclusion. His enthusiasm for Newell and Atlanta is infectious. “I love this job. I’m having more fun than I’ve had since I was at SC Johnson when I was 32,” said Saligram, who is about to turn 66. “I don’t even think of this as a job. I can work all day and all night. I’m so in love with this company. It’s the greatest feeling of satisfaction for me to see my people accomplishing extraordinary things.” Saligram took great pride in the fact that Laurel Hurd, who headed one of Newell’s business units until earlier this year, is now CEO of Atlanta-based Interface Inc. Though he hated losing her, he knew it was a wonderful opportunity for her to run a public company. “We’ve gone from being an importer of talent to becoming an exporter of talent,” said Saligram, who then talked about the qualities of a leader — who should have humility and not think of people as ordinary. Instead, a leader must ask: “How do you take people and bring out the extraordinary?” Saligram reflected. “A great leader brings out the extraordinary in people.” JULY 2022 | 37


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