AUGUST 2019 - Buckhead Reporter

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AUGUST 2019 • VOL. 13 — NO. 8 AUGU

Buckhead Reporter EDUCATION

Sandy Spring s

Section Two

Dunw oody

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An Olli self-driving shuttle bus.


‘The Shops’ should cater to local shoppers, residents say; name change planned BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN

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Born f r news o om the Atlan utlet s eeks t ta Olympics, o pres erve it a sports s legac y




Buckh ead


Buckhead soccer fan covers sports for CNN


Brookh aven


Horizons Atlanta marks 20 years of working with students

ST 20

A public meeting hosted by the new owners of The Shops Buckhead Atlanta was held July 23 to garner input on the troubled retail, office and housing complex, and what its future might look like. The “town hall” at the complex was attended by at least 200 lo-

cal residents, who voiced concerns on everything from crime to parking to affordability. And The Shops eventually will be renamed yet again, for the fifth time in its 12year history, the new owner says. “We don’t want to go to stores that are more like museums to most of us,” one resident said at the town hall. “You leave with See ‘THE SHOPS’ on page 14

Two prominent Buckhead business groups are in disagreement about a proposal to test a self-driving shuttle bus at Lenox Square mall, with one driving ahead and the other hitting the brakes on funding the minimum $88,000 cost. A startup company called Local Motors is seeking pitches from metro Atlanta organizations to test its shuttle, dubbed the “Olli,” for a three-month trial run. The Buckhead Coalition has submitted an entry and has MARTA on board to fund half of the cost. But the Buckhead Community Improvement District declined a request to pay $41,500, with board members questioning the point of paying a startup to demonstrate unproven technology and its effect on an existing neighborhood shuttle system. “The Buckhead Coalition is not in a money-raising business, but will offer in-kind services and facilities, and will welcome any other sponsors,” said Sam Massell, the Buckhead Coalition’s president and former Atlanta mayor, in a written statement. “We think it’s beneficial to be introduced to tomorrow’s miracles, and still plan to pitch our proposal to the Olli manufacturers.” “I hate to be Debbie Downer, [but] I’m not going to get on this thing on a Saturday to go around Lenox Square,” said Thad Ellis of Cousins Properties, who chairs the BCID board, at its July 24 meeting. At that meeting, the shuttle proposal died for lack of a motion amid skeptical commentary. See GROUPS on page 16


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Apartment project gets $3.5M tax incentive, offers ‘affordable’ units up to $120K income BY JOHN RUCH

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A luxury apartment project at 99 West Paces Ferry Road will receive a 10-year tax incentive valued at $3.35 million from the Development Authority of Fulton County, in a deal that includes “affordable” units that apparently could apply to a single person making nearly $120,000 a year. Tom Tidwell, a Buckhead resident who recently joined the Development Authority board, was one of two votes against the incentive deal as it passed June 25. He declined to comment directly about his vote, but provided a copy of a letter he later sent to fellow board members arguing that they should not be providing incentives to residential or hotel projects or anywhere in Buckhead. He also questioned such impacts as increased traffic. “I am a firm believer in the free market, as I suspect some of my conservative colleagues are,” Tidwell wrote in the July 23 letter. “If there is sufficient demand for a hotel or housing, then someone will build it regardless of whether they receive a tax incentive. If they can’t build it without a tax incentive, then the market is saying there isn’t sufficient demand for that product.” Tidwell, a former chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, also wrote that “Buckhead, Midtown and areas near the Beltline are the hottest real estate markets in the county, probably in the state. I am pretty sure we do not need to ‘stimulate’ economic development in those areas.” The 99 West Paces project is planned by JLB Partners and involves a two-phase, mixed-use tower replacing various commercial buildings and residential properties. The final product includes 485 residential units, 13,500 square feet of retail space, and two parking decks with a total of 750 spaces. Jessica Hill, an attorney who represented JLB in the zoning phase, said she was not involved in the tax incentive deal. She referred questions to JLB’s Matt Hallman, who did not respond. The Development Authority paperwork describes the 99 West Paces site, in the heart of Buckhead, as “underperforming parcels.” The deal involves the county issuing bonds and technically owning the property and leasing it back to the developer. The deal approves a $271 million bond issuance that is estimated to provide JLB a tax savings of $3,355,560 over 10 years. The project is estimated to create 100 temporary construction jobs and 60 permanent full-time jobs. The project has been in the planning stages for over three years and predates the city’s BeltLine-area inclusionary zoning policy, which requires a certain percentage of multifamily units be priced at rates affordable to middle-income households. However, JLB is “voluntarily” pledging to attempt to make 10% of the total units “workforce housing,” a general term for middle-income housing. The deal defines that housing as 130% to 150% of the area median income for a household of four people. The area cited in the deal appears to use outdated U.S. Census terminology. Al Nash, the Development Authority’s executive director, clarified that the intended AMI is that of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell statistical area, and currently amounts to $79,700. The proposed rates of 130% to 150% equates to an annual household income of $103,610 to $119,500. While the calculation is based on a household of four, Nash added, “For purposes of clarification, any such proposed tenant does not have to be a family of four. That is just the income level that is being utilized for the commitment.” And while the project is proposed as having three-bedroom units on every floor, nothing in the deal commits JLB to applying the “workforce housing” element to those rather than the one- or two-bedroom units. Nothing in the deal commits JLB to pricing the units that way at all, instead saying the company “has agreed to use its best efforts to integrate” the workforce housing into the mix. Nash did not directly respond to questions about why the four-person household was chosen as the income standard and how renting to smaller, higher-income households would meet workforce housing goals. BH


Community | 3

Community Briefs

trict, and will specifically analyze mixed-use sites to make sure the commercial component is paying the correct share. Lynn Rainey, the BCID’s attorney, told the board that the result could be an increase in revenue or a loss. “It could go either way, but the question is fairness,” he said. Rainey also said the BCID has had “properties mysteriously fallen on and off” its tax rolls as reported by Fulton County assessors, so the audit will give a baseline for any appeals as well.


Part of the 60th anniversary display at Lenox Square mall.



Lenox Square mall is marking its 60th anniversary with a display of photos and memorabilia. The mall at 3393 Peachtree Road in Buckhead opened on Aug. 3, 1959 with a vastly different look as an open-air shopping center. After various renovations, it is now a massive enclosed mall known as an international tourist destination for luxury shopping. The anniversary display stands along a wall in the Mall level across from Banana Republic, according to a press release. It is intended as a temporary display to run roughly through summer, according to a spokesperson.

A long-delayed study of Buckhead’s affordable housing challenges and solutions is coming soon, but will cost another $10,000. Commissioned by the Buckhead Community Improvement District and Livable Buckhead, the study kicked off in August 2018 and was supposed to take about six months. “It has taken a lot longer than it was originally planned to,” Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling told the BCID board at its July 24 meeting. She said she now expects recommendations from the study, conducted by HR&A Advisors, to be complete “in the next few weeks” and for a presentation to be made at the next BCID board meeting, which is scheduled for late September. Since the study began, the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods has undertaken its own similar study. Starling said that one reason for the delay was reconciling data with that BCN effort to maintain “credibility” of the final report. The consultant also is working to analyze the data in the light of other studies by the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Apartment Association, she said. All of that work has extended the timeline and boosted the original $120,000 budget. BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett said the study will now cost an additional $20,000, but that the consultant will take on half of that. The BCID board approved spending $10,000 to complete the study. The study came out of a master plan’s findings that, as of 2016, 98% of Buckhead employees commuted there from outside. Housing capacity was found to be a major issue, with 10 times more jobs than households in the neighborhood, and while many units are being built, most are luxury projects unaffordable to the roughly 40% of area employees who make less than $50,000 a year. Starling has said that while affordable housing is the study’s topic, commuter traffic reduction is the focus, as a way to reduce controversy about socioeconomic policies and find a common ground of concern. In addition, the BCID is not legally able to address housing, but can study transportation-related issues.


Northside Youth Organization will celebrate 70 years of youth sports with an Oct. 6 “Homecoming” celebration, and is seeking historic photos and stories from current and past players and supporters. Based in Chastain Park, the nonprofit NYO serves nearly 5,000 children each year in Buckhead, Sandy Springs and other metro Atlanta communities. NYO began as a football program in 1949 and now offers baseball, softball, cheerleading and girls and boys basketball. A Northside Youth Organization collage showing players from the 1960s through 2980s includes faces the organization hopes former players and supporters can identify. Larry Bennett, NYO’s board vice president and historian, and former Executive Director “Miss Jane” Wilkins are working on a history to present at the celebration. “We are relying on our memories to reconstruct the history of the organization, but there are gaps in the early years,” said Bennett in a press release. “We are looking to the community to help us fill in those gaps,” said Wilkins. Anyone with photos or stories to share can send them to current Executive Director Josh Burr at The “Homecoming” will be an adults-only celebration with Wilkins as “Homecoming Queen” and an honoring of former NYO presidents. The event will be held at Chastain Park on Oct. 6, 5-8 p.m. Admission is $40 per person and $70 per couple, with tickets available at


The Buckhead Community Improvement District will keep its tax rate at 3 mills and will spend $11,000 to audit its collections, especially from mixed-use developments. The board of the self-taxing group of commercial properties made the decisions at its July 24 meeting at Tower Place 100. The BCID spends the money on improvements related to transportation, public safety and beautification in the neighborhood’s central business district. The millage has remained unchanged in the BCID’s 20-year history. This fiscal year, it is projected to raise as much as $7.6 million. But, BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett said, projections are always too high due to successful tax appeals. The 2018 estimate was about $7.1 million and actual revenue about $6 million, he said. The $11,000 auditing and analysis contract went to the consulting firm UrbanTrans North America. UrbanTrans will determine which parcels should be in the self-taxing dis-

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4 | Community ■

BeltLine’s Northeast Trail seeks its path through Buckhead BY JOHN RUCH

The Atlanta BeltLine’s Northeast Trail is trying to find its way through southeastern Buckhead, and about 80 residents gathered for a June 25 community meeting to help chose among five alternative routes. Four of the options involve zigzagging through the neighborhood, while one proposes a relatively straight shot up the existing rail corridor. The BeltLine is a proposed system of multiuse trails and an accompanying light rail mass transit line that would encircle intown Atlanta, largely using old railroad corridors. The transit has yet to be built, while several segments of the trail are already open, including the Northside Trail in Buckhead’s Tanyard Creek and Atlanta Memorial parks area. The Northeast Trail segment would connect the existing Eastside Trail from Monroe Drive in VirginiaHighland to Buckhead’s Lindbergh Center MARTA Station. Between Virginia-Highland and I-85, the Northeast Trail has a fairly clear route, or “alignment,” along an existing railroad right of way. But between I-85 and Lindbergh, BeltLine planners face a dizzying maze of uses, restrictions and challenges. The Armour Yard railyard, the existing

MARTA Red and Gold lines, the PATH400 multiuse trail, the Peachtree Creek corridor and the future Clifton Corridor light rail line are among those complexities. At an initial meeting last fall, residents suggested many ways for the Northeast Trail to navigate that labyrinth. At the June 25 meeting, held at Rock Spring Presbyterian Church in Piedmont Heights, engineer Shaun Green of Atlanta BeltLine Inc., the project’s managing organization, revealed the options that he and consultant teams had winnowed down from 42 ideas, incorporating the variety of residents’ suggestions. The five alternatives boil down to a couple of basic ideas. One idea is that, no matter what, the transit part of the Northeast Trail segment will roughly follow existing rail lines, while the multiuse trail may run a largely different, separate route. The other idea is that the Northeast Trail will stick to an existing Y-shaped split in the railroad at Ansley Golf Club, where rail bridges cross the Buford-Spring Connector; and that the multiuse trail will use one branch of the “Y” while transit uses the other. Of the five alternatives, three start the trail on the southern branch of the “Y” and the other two put it on the northern branch. All alternatives end similarly by connecting with Lindbergh Center Station along the

MARTA rail line. Because of those ideas and assumptions, ABI was not seeking direct input about the transit alignments and did not provide any detailed information about them. The meeting focused on the more varied possibilities of trail alignments. Broadly speaking, putting the trail on the southern branch makes for meandering paths through the Armour Yards business district and varying routes closer to the creek or I-85. Of the two northernbranch alternatives, one is a similarly wandering path, while the other is the straight shot up the rail corridor. Green offered several standards for sorting out preferences among the various alternatives, which were labeled alphabetically as “A” through “E.” There’s the additional distance in wandering paths, which equates with additional planning and construction costs. There are differences in how much new infrastructure would be required, such as tunnels and bridges, also adding to expense. Different routes would have aesthetic differences in their look and feel and even sound, such as highway noise. Some have more “stakeholders” and agencies whose approval would be needed – the alternatives range from five to 15 such stakeholders. The added distance is a significant fac-

tor, with Green’s very general estimate of $10 million to $15 million per additional mile. The straight-line distance to be connected through the Buckhead section is 1.2 miles, he said. Four of the alternatives run about twice that length or more; only Alignment E, the straight shot up the rail line, is close at 1.37 miles. New infrastructure could be significant, too. Alignment D, for example, might require a new tunnel alongside Armour Drive, of which Green said “constructability is tenuous, but we think we can do it.” Green emphasized that the alignments remain high-level concepts with many details to be sorted out later. “That’s why the lines are fat here,” he said of the routes drawn on maps, because “we’re trying to stay agnostic” on how actual right of way might shake out. In addition, all of the proposed alignments focus on the main trail, but all would involve various spurs and connections to other trails and local resources. Sorting out the alternatives will take more time. ABI expects to finish the trail design and have construction documents by 2022. The Atlanta BeltLine Inc. has posted the written meeting materials on its website at

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Education | 5

AUGUST 2019 ■

Summer program marks 20 years of serving low-income students


Students in the Horizons program at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs take a bow after finishing a performance.


A summer education program serving low-income students from Sandy Springs’ public schools is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The Horizons Atlanta program at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School (HIES) teaches students so they don’t fall behind during the break, while also helping them deal with major issues like deportation threats. Horizons enrolls 135 students each summer to teach them more literacy and math through special projects at HIES Sandy Springs. Students in the program at HIES come from two feeder schools, Lake Forest Elementary and High Point Elementary, both in Sandy Springs. The teachers and instructors come from a mix of the feeder schools and the host school. Many students at HIES and surrounding schools volunteer to help with the program. The program has grown massively since beginning in 1999. Vera Woods, a recently retired High Point Elementary teacher, has been teaching at Horizons HIES program since it started and seen it grow from 10 students to 135. It has also grown to expand beyond academics to teaching students empathy and social and emotional intelligence, Woods said. “You have your little seed and now have we this beautiful mosaic,” she said of the program. Continued on page 6

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Summer program marks 20 years of serving low-income students Continued from page 5 Since the program at HIES began, the nationwide Horizons National organization has opened an Atlanta regional office, now led by former Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan, and eight new host schools began participating, including Atlanta International School in Buckhead. Another Buckhead school is expected to join soon, Wan said. Horizons Atlanta currently only works with Fulton County and Atlanta districts, but they see the need to serve DeKalb, Wan said. “The trick is finding a host institution,” he said. Each host school provides facilities, some teachers and funding, Wan said. The students are nominated by teachers or chosen because they are performing below grade level. All participants join the program as rising first-graders and commit to stay in the program through eighth grade. Students with a sibling in the program get priority, and some students are allowed after first grade if there are open seats, which usually are created when students move. A common reasons students move and leave the program is that they often come from transient families who have to leave communities as rents rise, said Kate Kratovil, the Horizons at HIES site director for Horizons at HIES. When that happens, Horizons allows them to continue attending if they can make it with their own transportation, since busing is only provided within Sandy Springs, Kratovil said. They may also join another Horizons program if one is nearby. During the free, six-week program, students get lessons on math, literacy and emotional well-being, as well as take part in weekly field trips and receive swimming lessons. Swimming lessons give students the opportunity to take lessons like wealthier peers often do, Kratovil said. The program also uses a tool to help students recognize their moods and talk about it with peers, Wan said. “It gives students and teachers a way to articulate and think about how they’re feeling,” Wan said. “I think it has paid dividends.” Horizons at HIES has needed to provide a different kind of support to students and families this year after hearing Hispanic participants frequently talk about their fear of being deported. Following rumors U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would conduct raids in Atlanta in July, Horizons brought in an attorney to talk with families and give them legal advice. “This summer the students are really aware and openly talking about it. It is certainly a fear,” Kratovil said. “It helped if nothing else for them to know that we are advocates for them.” The curriculum already tackles similar issues to give their students a “global perspective,” Kratovil said. They learn about human rights, the United Nations, freedom of opinion and the Holocaust, among other issues. “It is that mix where we are going to tackle big issues, but there’s also that blend of enrichment where kids refer to it as a summer camp,” she said. “My unofficial mission is to trick them into learning,” Wan said. Horizons plans to host a 20th anniversary event at HIES, 805 Mount Vernon Highway N.W., from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 15.

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Education | 7

AUGUST 2019 ■

Kathy Vail, Dunwoody High School Kathy Vail has led Dunwoody High Fencing from its start as a small team in 2009 to a full club with a large practice area. Now, she’s won the United States Fencing Association’s Outstanding Service Award for Youth Fencing for her work building and coaching the program, which allows high school students to learn fencing and participate in competitions with other Georgia schools. “Receiving the award at the National Championships in front of coaches and fencers from across the country was amazing and humbling,” Vail said. “To be asked to speak to young fencers about our sport was a great honor.” USA Fencing is the national governing body for the sport of fencing in the United States. It oversees competitions and promoting the sport. USA Fencing Membership Director Bob Bodor and Brandeis University Head Coach Jennie Salmon presented the award to Vail at the 2019 USA Fencing National Championships in Columbus, Ohio. “You especially deserving for everything you do for the sport and for how much you did for the development of the youth component to the national level competitions,” Bodor said when presenting the award.

and learn about themselves as they progress. Good footwork and good blade work can take you a long way in our sport. Knowing what you want to achieve and what you need to do achieve it can make you a champion.

Q: What types of competitions does the team do? A: The team competes in the Georgia High School Fencing League. There are


teams that compete in the Georgia High School Fencing League. The GHSFL is the third largest high school fencing league in the nation. New York and New Jersey rank first and second.

Q: What do you think fencing teaches high schoolers? A: Discipline, decisiveness and confi-


eight tournaments, with men’s and women’s events, throughout the season culminating in Individual and Team Championships. The members of the DHS team also take part in the “GHSFL Day at the Capitol,” a fencing demonstration held in the state Capitol rotunda each year.

Q: How common are high school fencing teams? A: Sixteen years ago, there were no high school fencing teams in Georgia. Today, there are 20 high school fencing

dence. Although fencing is an individual sport, students also learn the value of being part of a team. Fencing provides a platform from which high school athletes can earn college scholarships and fence on a National Collegiate Athletic Association team. It can also provide a great way just to connect with other students when starting college

Q: What do you like about fencing? A: Our sport has been called “physical


Kathy Vail receives USA Fencing’s Outstanding Service Award for Youth Fencing at its National Championships in Columbus, Ohio, held in June and July.

gence and athleticism required for fencing. I like the fact that while strength and agility are required, it is the smart fencer that, more often than not, wins the bout. I also enjoy sharing the long, colorful history of our sport. Fencing is great fun when you know the story behind an action or tactic.

chess” due to the combination of intelli-

Q: How did you get started fencing? A: My first experience with fencing was a physical education course in college. By taking that class, I discovered a sport that I have enjoyed for many years. I have gone on to do coaches’ training at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and continue to earn professional certifications through USA Fencing and the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association.

Q: How did you get involved teaching the Dunwoody High team? A: In 2009, a student from my private fencing club, Dunwoody Fencing Club, asked me to help start a fencing team at DHS. I’ve been coaching the team ever since. At the start, we were a small team with limited practice space and time. As we grew and earned tournament medals, the DHS administration has given the team a large practice area and allows fencers to earn P.E. credit.

Q: What do you like about teaching youths? A: Young students are always eager to try something new. Helping them discover the mental and physical aspects of our sport is rewarding. Watching the light bulb come on as they understand a new strategy or master a new tactic is great.

Q: What do you hope the students who teach learn from you? A: I hope my students learn that with hard work they can achieve their goals,

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Hospital’s volunteer corps celebrates a half-century ‘paying it forward’ Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at

cancer patients the day after their surgery, Ten years ago, after a successful career I’m the face of survivorship.” as a corporate executive, Dunwoody resiAnd the leadership skills she had honed dent Chris Cox retired and soon found herduring her long career didn’t go unnoticed. self in a bed at Northside Hospital recoverSoon, she was asked to join the auxiliary ing from breast cancer surgery. board. Filled with fear and uncertainty about “When I got the call to join the board, I her future, she was visited by a former pawas ‘OK. I’m back in the groove,’” she tient who had survived the same surgery. Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant wholike, lives on the Dunwoodysaid. “Itwhose became part of my reinvention afDressed in a NorthsideSandy Hospital AuxiliaSprings line and writes about people lives inspire others. Contact heranat ter a busy work life.” ry blue volunteer’s coat, Cox’s visitor As a volunteer in the auxiliary, Cox is swered her questions and allayed her fears. not unique. Patients and visitors at the hosThus began a whole lot of healing bepital would be surprised at how often the yond cancer. When she felt better, Cox beperson greeting them in the lobby, pushing gan spending four hours a week doing for their wheelchair, delivering flowers, staffother breast cancer patients what had been ing the gift shops, bringing in therapy dogs, done for her. Gradually, those hours betaking baby pictures, driving courtesy carts came part of her own recovery as well. and offering information and comfort to “When I retired, all of a sudden, I had patients and their families is a retired cornowhere to go,” she said. “I was pretty lost porate executive. Others are teachers, artand didn’t know what to do with myself.” ists, veterans, homemakers, high-school Volunteering at Northside gave her students and more. what she was missing. Though from diverse backgrounds, “The doctors’ job is to fix things. We help they all seem to have one thing in common: patients get through the aftermath,” she they were inspired by the kindness of othsaid. “As a volunteer who visits with breast

er volunteers when they or their loved ones were patients. “Most of us who volunteer have experienced being in the hospital and had someone do something that changed our life,” said Vicki Atkinson, Auxiliary board president and breast cancer survivor. As personal as volunteering is, the Auxiliary volunteers are essential to the overall operation of the hospital. Formed in 1969, the year before Northside Hospital officially opened, the auxiliary is celebrating 50 years of providing services. Since its founding, auxiliary members have volunteered more than 2.3 million hours and raised more than $20 million, all of which is used to benefit the hospital. The auxiliary also operates Camp Hope for cancer survivors, the Special Projects Fund, which allocates $200,000 a year to fund hospital wish list requests, $40,000 for advanced training scholarships for hospital employees and volunteers and the Educational Grant Fund for teenage volunteers in the summer “Volunteen” program. Other projects the auxiliary has funded include playground equipment for the Children’s Developmental Center, the Serenity Garden, a security system for newborns, CAD digital mammography equipment, a mobile mammography truck, PCI (angioplasty) equipment and a daycare

center bus. Besides fundraising, one of the most valuable things auxiliary members do is free up the staff. “We’re everywhere in our blue coats,” said Atkinson. “As greeters, we’re usually the first people patients see and also the last because we wheel them out.” The auxiliary has been celebrating its 50th anniversary all year through a series of events. One of them included fielding a team on July 4 that “ran” the Peachtree Road Race, also celebrating its 50th anniversary. For some of the team in their 60s, 70s and 80s, it was their first Peachtree ever. But not all auxiliary members who ran the Peachtree are corporate retirees. One of them, Sonia Ray, is a young mother who lives in Rex, about 45 minutes south of Sandy Springs. A two-time breast cancer survivor, Ray says “paying it forward” is proof her “battle was not wasted.” In addition to counseling patients, she has started a nonprofit to help fund services for breast cancer patients who live in her underserved area. The auxiliary has a tagline: “Be the Difference.” Members say you can be the difference by giving just four hours a week. For information, visit northsideatlaux. com.


Community | 9

History Center reveals new sign giving context to Confederate monument BY JOHN RUCH

The design of a new sign that will give historical context to a Buckhead monument that honors Confederate Civil War soldiers has been revealed by the Atlanta History Center. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it is one of four Confederate monuments – including prominent ones in Piedmont Park and Oakland Cemetery – that will receive the signs as soon as next week. The signs are part of a city commission that reviewed modern treatment of such monuments amid controversy about their glorification of an army that fought to defend slavery and their origins in the era of racial segregation and Jim Crow laws. The Buckhead monument stands on a median in Peachtree Battle Avenue near E. Rivers Elementary School. Installed in 1935, it pays tribute to the “American valor” of troops on both sides of the Civil War and veterans of other wars. As the street name indicates, the monument stands near a major front in the Civil War’s Battle of Atlanta. The new sign is a modest green plaque with white lettering. The sign offers historical background about the monument and concludes by criticizing its message. “This inscription equates the valor of American Revolution veterans with those who fought to dissolve the United States by establishing the Confederate States of America,” the new sign says. “It also describes the United States after the Civil War as a perfected nation. This ignores the segregation and disenfranchisement of African Americans and others that still existed in 1935.” An illustration also provided by the History Center shows the new sign installed to the left of the monument. The contextualization signs are partly a response to a state law that restricts moving monuments on public land, said City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong, one of three councilmembers who are overseeing the implementation of the advisory committee’s recommendations. “State law prohibits the removal of such monuments, so it is our hope that contextualization will serve as a conversation-starter around the importance of establishing an accurate historical record, while ensuring that we remain sensitive to our city’s strong commitment to inclusion and diversity,” Archibong said in an email. “We do not want to rewrite



history or to provide excuses. Rather, our goal is to provide historically accurate messaging, in a way that empowers our citizens to be informed as well as to feel valued and respected.” The History Center, located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, was involved in producing the signs for the various monuments, and Sheffield Hale, its president and CEO, co-chaired the city review commission. He is a longtime advocate for such contextualization of existing Confederate monuments. Hale said the signage for the monuments ties into the research for the History Center’s recent recontextualization of its own exhibit of the renovated Cyclorama painting of the Civil War’s Battle of Atlanta. He said that exhibit includes addressing the “Lost Cause” myth that downplays the role of slavery as a cause for the Civil War and the post-war “Reconciliation” period when Northern and Southern groups emphasized national unity while allowing segregation and related racATLANTA HISTORY CENTER An illustration showing how the new ist laws. sign, at left, will appear next to the “In the Cyclorama exhibition, we discuss existing monument on Peachtree how we remember the Civil War and why Battle Avenue in Buckhead. that is,” Hale said in a written statement. “One story we talk about is the Reconciliation narrative, which essentially claimed that the country was united and perfect after the war, but completely ignored the millions of Americans unable to exercise basic rights under Jim Crow segregation laws. The Peachtree Battle Avenue monument is a Reconciliation monument, so the scholarship from the Cyclorama exhibit directly informed our research.”

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Commentary / Make sure every Atlantan counts in the 2020 Census Census 2020 is an opportunity Atlanta cannot afford to miss. The Census, which only occurs every 10 years, is a critically important event that has real-life consequences for every resident and everyone in Atlanta. The information collected by the census determines two things: power and money. The number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, how many Electoral College votes states receive, and how we draw state legislative districts are all dependent on our Census count. It is also used to determine the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities. For Atlanta to get its fair share, we need everyone to complete a Census form, so that we get the representation we deserve in Washington and at the state Capitol. We must ensure that the tax dollars we send to Washington come back to our communities in a fair and equitable manner. Each Atlanta household that is not counted will cost us $1,336 in potential funding. Over a 10-year period, that is a loss of $13,336 per person not counted. The good news is that Atlanta is ahead of the curve and leading the nation in being prepared for the Census count. We have cleaned up or added nearly 80,000 previously excluded addresses that are now eligible to be counted in the Census. We are also currently in the process of confirming addresses for new construction. Keisha Lance Bottoms By counting these Atlantans, we will potentially add millions of dollars in federal fundis mayor of Atlanta and chair of the Census Task Force for the ing for public services in Atlanta each year. U.S. Conference of Mayors. Our goal is to contact as many residents as possible before April 1, 2020, when everyone can begin filling out their Census forms. We need to reach everyone in our historically undercounted areas, especially our seniors, our immigrant population and our non-English-speaking populations. Children are also traditionally undercounted in the Census. This will be the first “digital census” in the history of our country, and the Census Bureau is asking everyone to complete their questionnaire online. Residents must be able to access the technology and resources needed to participate and be assured that the process is trustworthy. The Census is about money and power. But it is also about our future. If you get counted, you count. We must bring the power of our communities to the table, because we care about our public libraries, our roads, schools, and programs that support those in need. If you have friends, neighbors and family members who may not be aware of the Census, please remind them about this opportunity and urge them to participate. It is essential that our residents get the resources needed to participate. The city of Atlanta has been hard at work on Census outreach for some time now, but there is much work to do. I want to thank our community partners in the business, faith-based and civic sectors who are supporting our Complete Count Committee, which is being co-chaired by U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta). Congressman Lewis lived and sacrificed during a time when not every American counted. Let us show the world that those days no longer exist in 21st century America. It is up to us to ensure that our city’s great diversity is measured in an accurate and meaningful way. To learn more about the city’s work on the Census, to volunteer, or sign up as a Census Ambassador, please visit





represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC. BH


Commentary | 11

Having twins gets easier – once they go to college They say that God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle, and I like to think that’s true, but I do believe that sometimes He slips a few more pounds in your pack while you’re not looking and sends you on an uphill trek. I know that because I have twins. Aug. 3 is National Twins Day, and I’m going to observe it by reliving the mania of the Early Years. I’ll set the stage by saying that I happen to have two older children who were born a year-and-a-half apart, so I can speak from direct experience and tell you unequivocally that two babies born less than two years apart is challenging, but two babies born one minute apart is in another category altogether. I was on bedrest for the last trimester before their birth because my doctor routinely ordered that for his patients carrying multiples. I laid there in my command center of the den sofa as friends and family stopped in to bring dinners and pick up or drop off my other two tykes. These helpRobin Conte lives with ful people always had faces awash in sympathy for me -her husband in an emp- poor soul! -- confined to the couch for three months, but I ty nest in Dunwoody. was thinking all the while, “Hey, this is as easy as it’s ever going to get.” Never have I been right to such a colossal degree. I knew that it would be hard after the birth, but I did think that sometime during their first year of life, I would be able to get to the mailbox. No, it wasn’t until they were 13 months old that I finally emerged from the house, tangle-haired and droopy-eyed, wearing a bathrobe speckled with crusty Cheerios. I peeked my haggard face out of the front door and paused for a moment to adjust to the light of day, then collected myself and made the trip to the curb, hoping against hope that I would not encounter a perky mom in a tennis skirt. As an encore, my husband took me out to dinner. I showered and put on lipstick and a bra that didn’t have nursing flaps. I wore a nice dress and must have cleaned up pretty well, because one of those moms who had dropped off food for me a few months earlier happened to be dining at the same restaurant and was convinced that my husband was with another woman. She told her spouse: “I’ve SEEN Robin, and that’s not Robin!” The man actually came over to verify. When I learned I was carrying twins, I had two prayers: Please, God, let them be healthy, and please, God, let them be friends. Thankfully, they were born large, strong and healthy. As they aged, they forged a friendship – honestly, it was more like an alliance in “Survivor.” See, the thing about twins is that they destroy in tandem. They use their secret twin-speak to gang up against you. Before they could even talk, my toddler sons could communicate subversively with each other to figure out how to make a break from their playpen. The brains of the operation would find the weakest link and point it out to the brawn, who then barreled through it. Between two toddlers, there is always enough energy for a tantrum. One would have a crying fit, then pause for a break and pass the baton to his brother, who’d pick up where the first one left off. On the days I took them to preschool, they each clung, sobbing, to one of my legs so that I entered the building looking like I was trying to free myself from a pair of wailing koala bears. Twins moms often whispered encouragingly to me, “It gets easier.” I kept wondering when that would happen, and I finally realized that it got easier when the boys left the house and went to college. They turned 21 last fall, and for the first time in their lives they were not able to celebrate their birthday together. They were truly disappointed to be apart for their milestone, to a degree that warmed their mother’s heart. Yes, they are healthy, and, yes, they are friends… and somehow, by the grace of God, their mother handled it.


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Around Town Joe Earle is editor-at-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at

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A farmers market director’s work is never done – and always delicious Sara Craig-Goodell has a thing for food. She’s quick to say so. “Yes, I do like food,” she says with a grin. “I like eating it. I like learning about it. … How can you not care about food? I spend most of my day waiting for get hungry again so I can eat.” Her fondness for good food comes naturally. She remembers visiting her grandparent’s home and orchard in rural Mexico, where she dined on fresh avocados and pecan, limes and figs, persimmons and nectarines. “I’ve just always been a big eater,” she said. “I like to try new things. She likes to cook, too. “I’m an enthusiastic cook,” she said. “I like making food that tastes good, usually so I can eat it. Not for other people. I mostly want to make food I can eat.” JOE EARLE She remembers the first Sara Craig-Goodell on a recent Saturday at meal she ever prepared for the Peachtree Road Farmers Market. herself. She was about 8, she said, and wanted eggs, so she got out a pan and scrambled some. She’s been cooking since. Now she favors pasta or tacos made with whatever’s in season. At home, she said, “the kitchen is my space.” Her taste for fresh food was part the reason the slim, energetic 34-year-old was hustling around the parking lot behind the Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead one recent Saturday morning. The lot is the home of the foodie haven that is the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, one of the larger open-air markets in a metro area now brimming with such Saturday morning food sales. Since March of 2018, Craig-Goodell has run the place as the market’s executive director. One recent Saturday, she was doing what executive directors do: walking around the market to check in with vendors; finding a generator and power cord for the blender to be used in a cooking demonstration; making chalkboard signs for special events; introducing a visiting chef; generally keeping an eye on things. She’s been known to rack up five or six miles on her Fitbit just hustling around doing errands on market mornings, she said. “You get a lot of steps,” she said. Later, once the market wound down and the vendors prepared to pack up their tents, she would go shopping herself. “I cook with an eye for whatever I see at the farmers market that looks good,” she said. “I do all my menu planning the morning of.” During the week, she works with vendors and to find ways to keep the market relevant in a time when customers have lots of other options for finding fresh veggies. After all, she says, customers can have food delivered to their homes now from groceries or online marketers. That’s where Craig-Goodell’s degree training in psychology comes in handy, she said. “A lot of [my job] has to do with [customers’] perception, and with doing research,” she said. The path to her job at the market hasn’t exactly been a straight line. In fact, it wasn’t even her affinity for food that brought her from her home in Texas to metro Atlanta. It was Georgia Tech, which she attended with plans to major in biomedical engineering. But, in a story typical of Tech students, she ran into Calculus 3 and other courses she needed for engineering, “so I changed my major to psychology.” Then, “I graduated into the 2008 depression,” she said, so she ended up working at lots of jobs. Looking for work led her back to food. She did a stint as the cook at a private school. She baked cupcakes at a shop in Buckhead. She went back to school, this time to culinary school. She proofread pages for a cooking magazine. She worked as assistant director at the farmers market before she was promoted to executive director. Working at the market allows her to promote good, fresh food for others, as well as herself. “It’s one way of … creating a sustainable environment,” she said. “It’s one way to give back. “I do personally prefer to eat food that’s been produced ethically and sustainably,” she said. “You vote with your fork. I’d like to send my money on food that’s been produced in ways that don’t make me feel sad.” Besides, the Farmers Market is where the fresh food is. “I’d probably be at the farmers market anyway on a Saturday morning,” she said. “I might as well get paid for it.” BH


Community | 13

Residents voice flooding concerns at Watershed Management meeting


BY HANNAH GRECO Residents voiced concerns about local flooding at a July 11 open house in Buckhead held by the city’s Department of Watershed Management as it updates a strategic plan. Deborah Walkling was among roughly 70 residents who attended the meeting at the Lovett School, which was focused on stormwater drainage issues in the areas of the Long Island and Nancy creeks in northern Buckhead. She said she was hoping to get some answers on how to better communicate issues with the department. “[That is] exactly what I am getting,” Walking said. “I am learning a little bit about what watershed management does, what areas they cover and the biggest priority, of course, is getting the streets repaired. Now, I have a contact that I can go to and say, ‘This street is not being repaired because of a water issue.’” A map of the drainage areas of Long Island Creek and Nancy Creek on display at the July 11 city Department of Watershed Management open house. (Hannah Greco) The meeting was the third installment of seven planned throughout the city, with one about Buckhead’s lower Peachtree Creek area coming in September. The meetings are intended to inform the community about initiatives and stormwater projects, while also gathering feedback about sewage overflows and other issues. The meeting was set up in an open-house style, with educational booths focusing on different facets of the department, including watershed improvement, stormwater management, floodplain insurance and the MOST (Municipal Option Sales Tax) projects. City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit, who represents Buckhead’s District 8, was among the attendees. He is chair of the council’s City Utilities Committee, which supervises for the Departments of Watershed Management and Public Works. “The events that we are having are more frequent and more intense,” Matzigkeit said. “The Watershed Management is doing a strategic plan update to make sure we are able to grow our city and manage these more intense events by putting lots of money into stormwater and into billions of dollars of green infrastructure that we are putting in…so this is really another important piece.” Matzigkeit also spoke about flooding issues at Atlanta Memorial Park. “We are doing lots of big improvements in Peachtree Creek, but yet we still continue, on major rain events, to have sewage overflows,” he said. “So, any time that you have a sewage overflow in your park, on your land, in your street, that is a pretty significant event, that gets people’s attention, and so we have to address it.” The Blue Heron Nature Preserve and Livable Buckhead had booths at the event. Blue Heron is a nonprofit that operates a nature preserve at 4055 Roswell Road in North Buckhead. Some of the property that the organization maintains has falls within Watershed Management’s jurisdiction, so the preserve has an agreement with the city to manage the land. Blue Heron is partnered with the city on two projects involving wetlands restoration and creating artificial beaver dams to help mitigate flooding. Livable Buckhead is a nonprofit organization focused on environmental sustainability issues. “We are here to support this initiative, as it coincides with the development projects that we are doing in our community,” said Michelle Simard, the organization’s sustainability program manager. Watershed Management operated its own booth, where Deputy Commissioner Todd Hill listened to residents’ concerns and took down their contact information for followups and answers. Anyone having stormwater issues can contact the city by calling 311 or visiting atl311. com.

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‘The Shops’ should cater to local shoppers, residents say; name change planned Continued from page 1 one thing that can cost $800 to $1,000. It’s just crazy.” Jamestown, a local real estate investment and management firm founded in 1993, acquired The Shops earlier this year and wants to make significant changes starting in January. In the meantime, the company is willing to listen to comments and ideas, according to its president Michael Phillips. Besides the “town hall,” the company has an online survey available here. “We feel fortunate now to be stewards of this asset, and of what it’s going to become,” Phillips said. His partner is Jamestown CEO Matt Bronfman, who once lived on nearby Pharr Road. “We believe in finding large projects and curating them over the long term,” Bronfman said. “There are many projects we have coveted over the years and this is one of them. We want to understand from you what this needs and what it would benefit from.” The complex covers a six-block area fronting Peachtree Road between East Paces Ferry and Pharr roads. It has been through several changes in name and ownership since construction started in 2007. The first stores opened there in 2014 after a tortuous development history. Jamestown is the third owner for the complex, having purchased it from the firm OliverMcMillan. The complex has had four different names during development and operations, all of them widely mocked as confusing. Earlier versions included “Buckhead Avenues,” “The Streets of Buckhead” and “Buckhead Atlanta.” Phillips said that Jamestown will give the complex yet another name change eventually, but they are

not ready to divulge it. Phillips and Bronfman also own the popular Ponce City Market, a name that came up frequently during the gathering. “We don’t want to make this another PCM. We want it to be the Main Street it needs to be,” Phillips said, adding, “We want to add a contextual relationship to the streetscape, and warm it up a little bit, and make it feel a little more like a place in the center of the city.” A woman in the audience agreed, saying, “We need a more neighborhood community feel, more charm, more areas with patios where you can sit outside and have a cocktail with your friends, where dogs are allowed and cars aren’t.” A common theme was the fact that residents go elsewhere for shopping, dining and entertainment. “There’s nowhere here to go with your family that’s not really expensive,” said one. Another resident noted The Shops’ history, which began as a plan to clear out what was once Buckhead Village’s main nightclub scene. “We’ve gone from one extreme to the other,” said the resident. “We used to have these great bars, then we had seedy bars, now we have these [businesses] that the majority of people can’t afford.” Jessica Kilcoyne, who lives in a nearby apartment, said that luxury and exclusivity attract crime, and that options in the area need to “be changed to something with a little more soul, and more attainable by the average person.” A man at the back of the room said he lives five minutes away “but I spend no time here. My perception is it’s very pretentious and there’s nothing here for me.” He said he has heard that when consumers buy from locally owned shops, 80 per-


Residents examine a model of The Shops Buckhead Atlanta during a July 23 “town hall” about its future.

cent of the revenue stays in the community, whereas purchases from a national chain or franchise force 80 percent of revenue out of the community. “I would love to see locally owned businesses, more chef-driven restaurants, maybe even an area for people to congregate, like a park,” he said. “There used to be reasons to come here, but now it’s the complete opposite.” A mother told the crowd, “What strikes me about The Shops is there is nowhere to take my kids. We need someplace to hang out with the family. More greenery, open spaces, more trees.” Residents suggested Atlanta’s Inman Park, Decatur, Duluth, Alpharetta’s Ava-

lon complex, Roswell, and Chattahoochee Hill’s Serenbe community as potential sources of inspiration for the new owners. Miami’s Wynwood district and the pedestrian-oriented “superblocks” in Barcelona, Spain, were also mentioned. Residents also noted numerous parking, sidewalk, and transportation issues that should be addressed. Ellen Adair Wyche, who has served as vice chair of the board of trustees at the Atlanta Girls’ School, got a round of applause when she told the owners, “Let’s have something quirky, genuine, local, surprising. Give us something that is unexpected.”

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Twenty-three years ago this month, Atlanta hosted the Summer Paralympic Games, the companion event to the Olympics where the world’s top athletes with impairments compete for the gold. But the Paralympics nearly didn’t even come to the U.S. – let alone the city – until Buckhead’s Shepherd Center rehabilitation hospital fought hard to win it, saved the day, and changed the Games forever. Partly from disorganization and partly from Olympic infighting over money, power and even legal rights to a cute mascot, the 1996 Paralympics were at risk of happening as far away as the Netherlands rather than alongside the Centennial Olympic Games. Today, the Paralympics are automatically paired with the Olympics as a result of Shepherd Center co-founder Alana Shepherd’s crusade to bring the Games to Atlanta. And a successful battle to have the Paralympics taken seriously financially, with ticket sales and corporate sponsorships, changed the Games, too. “I can’t overstate the importance of Alana Shepherd and the Shepherd Center… in not only hosting the Games, but in moving the ball forward for the Paralympic movement in the United States and the world,” says Andy Fleming, who served as president and CEO of the Atlanta Paralympics Committee and has advocated for athletes with impairments in several other organizations. Today’s practice of pairing the Olympics and Paralympics in the same city and venues within weeks of each other “I think was a legacy of the Atlanta Paralympics,” says Ed Hula, editor-in-chief of Around the Rings, an Olympics industry trade publication headquartered in Buckhead. It was a natural fit for the hospital on Peachtree Road, which serves people with brain and spinal cord injuries, which the Shepherd family founded in 1975 when Alana’s son James couldn’t find such care after a devastating surfing accident. “Our effort really did make it better, making it one [organizing] committee,” said Shepherd in a recent interview, recalling that Atlanta came “very close” to losing the Paralympics. “It was definitely going to England” if the Atlanta organizers failed, she said. So they didn’t fail, “despite all the roadblocks thrown in front of us.”

Separate bids, separate Games

The Paralympics – originally named for the condition of paraplegia but now reinterpreted as referring to an event “parallel” to the Olympics – evolved from competitions for World War II veterans with disabilities and was first held in Rome in 1960. For over two decades, the Paralympics were held at least in the same country, and sometimes the same city, as the Olympics, but they were treated as entirely separate events with separate bidding and planning processes. Then the 1984 Summer Olympics in BH

Community | 15

How the Shepherd Center saved Atlanta’s 1996 Paralympic Games

Andy Fleming.


Los Angeles shook things up, Fleming said. That unusual, relatively low-budget Olympics, organized when L.A. was the only bidder, did not include the Paralympics, which ended up being staged partly in New York State and partly in England. The next two Summer Olympics, in 1988 and 1992, teamed up with the Paralympics, but that was entirely by choice. “There was total separation at that stage of the Olympics in the ’80s, early ’90s,” said Hula. Atlanta nearly split the events up again. For one thing, virtually no one – even the bid committee -- expected Atlanta to win its 1996 Olympics bid. The 1990 announcement took everyone by surprise, including people like Fleming, who was interested in putting together a Paralympics bid but was unprepared. It would be a year-and-a-half before a Paralympics bid was ready. The Olympics bid committee was focused on an L.A.-style, lower-budget, profitmaking Games and did not see an upside in taking on the logistics and expenses, Fleming said. “The Olympics guys were skeptical,” he said, adding he couldn’t blame them, as the Paralympics had no TV rights deal or major corporate sponsorships while facing an estimated $80 million budget. In one marketing survey, Fleming recalled, the Paralympics had a name recog-

Alana Shepherd.


nition of only 2%, while the Atlanta Youth Games had 4% -- and was a red herring that didn’t exist. “We started two points below a nonexistent event in awareness,” he said. The Olympics bid committee did offer some funding and agreed to submit a Paralympics bid as well if a local committee got its act together. That’s when the Shepherd Center and its founding family – Alana, husband Harold and son James – stepped in as founding sponsors of the Atlanta Paralympics. According to press reports at the time, the Paralympics committee operated from a small basement office at the hospital. It was a natural fit, as the hospital had worked with athletes with disabilities, including wheelchair-using entrants in the Peachtree Road Race.

Competing for sponsorship gold

When the bid was accepted, a competition began for a different kind of gold – sponsorship cash. The Paralympics drew such major sponsors as Coca-Cola and Home Depot. But it also ran into competition from an unexpected source: the Olympics itself. The United States Olympic Committee, which oversaw all U.S. Games bidding and

organizing, was notorious for tightly policing its brand and striking tough marketing deals, and sometimes viewed the Paralympics as infringing. According to an Atlanta Journal report, the USOC dragged the Atlanta Paralympics into a legal dispute about its mascot, a phoenix named Blaze. Worse still, the USOC forced the Atlanta Paralympics organizers to accept a marketing deal that pitted it against the Atlanta Olympics. Fleming said the deal required them to approach only corporate sponsors who had already inked an Olympics sponsorship agreement. And if the company declined, the Paralympics organizers could only solicit a competitor with the company’s permission. In one example, Fleming said, McDonald’s said no to a Paralympics sponsorship and also would not let them solicit Chick-fil-A, even though Dan Cathy, one of its executives, was on the organizing committee. Alana Shepherd tore into the deal furiously. She began appearing in the press brandishing a piece of paper listing what she called the “Sinful Six” – the half-dozen major corporations that said no to a Paralympics sponsorship and barred contact with competitors. Besides McDonald’s, they included Anheuser-Busch, Visa, Bausch and Lomb, John Hancock and Sara Lee. “I keep the list in my wallet,” Shepherd told a reporter at the time. Today, Shepherd declines to say much about the “Sinful Six” and the deal. “I’m taking the high road now... I’m not digging it up,” she said, but added, “They were the losers. We were the winners.” Shepherd she attended the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, and happened to have Juan Antonio Samaranch, then the International Olympics Committee president, sit next to her. She gave him an earful. “I said, ‘You know, it’s crazy to have two different committees holding events,’” she recalled. “They didn’t understand it, were scared of it,” she said of Olympics officials’ attitude toward the Paralympics. “It was something they didn’t understand would help the city become more accessible.” The Atlanta Paralympics raised its money and ran Aug. 16-25, 1996, about two weeks after the Olympics and in many of the same venues. Fleming said it had a surplus of several million dollars, which funded the BlazeSports America, a Norcrossbased nonprofit that runs sports programs for children and veterans with disabilities. Samaranch and others must have heard the message. “After Atlanta, the IOC said it would not entertain an Olympics bid unless they also made provisions for the Paralympics,” said Fleming. “The IOC leadership essentially said, ‘The Paralympics movement is not going away, especially after Atlanta… so we should make sense of that….” And respectful treatment for the Paralympics and its athletes continues to rise in the Olympics world, Fleming said. Earlier this year, the USOC adopted a new name: the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and now offers more cash prizes to Paralympic athletes.

16 | Community ■

Groups disagree about self-driving shuttle at Lenox Square mall Continued from page 1 “It seems a little bit crazy for us to fund it,” said Jim Bachetta of Highwoods Properties, one of several board members to question why the shuttle company should be paid to do its own startup marketing. Arizona-based Local Motors, which is testing a self-driving shuttle bus – or “pod” in company jargon — called the Olli. A small, boxy electric vehicle that seats eight to 12 passengers and is made partly from 3-D-printed parts, the Olli is undergoing test runs on various college campuses, military bases and state fairgrounds around the country, according to media reports. Not all of the tests are successful; according to local media reports, a plan to operate the Olli in Knoxville, Tenn. – one of the cities where it is manufactured – were quietly scrapped late last year. Now Local Motors has issued a “challenge” to several metro areas around the world – including Atlanta — to serve as three-month test grounds for the Olli. It’s a competitive process where applicants agree to pay at least $88,000 toward the variable “cost of deployment” and to “show their support” in the competition. Local Motors spokesperson Nikki Jones later said in an email that the “Atlanta Olli Fleet Challenge” is a way for competing organizations to “experience Olli on their roads and learn how their community interacts with and responds to self-driving vehicles.” Jones spoke in broad terms about what the

Olli could do for the city. “Atlanta is a vibrant city with a focus on being a ‘smart city’ and implementing innovative initiatives to improve the city’s mobility,” Jones said. “Long term, Olli will increase and support equity and inclusion, help reduce congestion on roads, provide sustainable transportation, and contribute to/ advance the city’s transportation efforts.” As for BCID board members’ concerns, Jones emphasized that the $88,000 would not go literally to a marketing budget, but only to operations. “If chosen as the winner, the Buckhead Community Improvement District’s investment would directly benefit the Buckhead community. BCID would have firsthand knowledge on how AVs [autonomous vehicles] are deployed in their community as well as access to data to help make informed decisions about placing AVs on Buckhead roads long-term,” Jones said. A news report about the Atlanta Olli “challenge” caught the attention of Eric Tanenblatt, the director of the Global Autonomous Vehicle practice at the massive legal and lobbying firm Dentons. Tanenblatt said he has no connection with Local Motors, but liked the idea and suggested it to the Buckhead Coalition, a nonprofit group of business and community leaders of which he is a member. Tanenblatt said in an email that he “thought it might be something good for Buckhead to showcase that we are a forward-thinking community. As some-

one who is knowledgeable about AVs, I believe we need to be looking for opportunities to educate the public about the technology.” Massell agreed to support the effort along with Tanenblatt, BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett, and Robin Suggs, who manages Lenox Square for Simon Property Group and is a BCID board member. They agreed to make a pitch for the Olli challenge, whose Atlanta deadline was July 31. Massell said the bid was submitted without anyone else covering the BCID’s share of the cost. He hopes that the Coalition’s offer of “in-kind” donations, including office space, will keep it eligible. Durrett said he spoke to MARTA CEO Jeff Parker about joining the effort. MARTA did not respond to a comment request. According to Durrett, MARTA agreed to pay half of the minimum $88,000 challenge cost, while Simon offered $5,000 and Massell offered $1,000. The BCID would pay the remaining $41,500. At a July 24 BCID board meeting, Durrett made his pitch to fund the challenge. He described the shuttle running on the private loop around the mall at 3393 Peachtree Road at a maximum speed of 25 mph. The shuttle would not take riders anywhere in particular, he said. Instead, the intent is that “people could experience what it’s like to ride in an autonomous vehicle” and “get comfortable with what this kind of technology could mean.” Suggs called it “purely educational.”

Denise Starling, executive director of partner organization Livable Buckhead, said that also could conflict with the public relations moment for a forthcoming relaunch of the existing “buc” commuter shuttle in the area. A longpending formal report on the shuttle’s future is expected at the next BCID meeting, with previous discussion focused on an on-demand, app-based service. The revamped service likely will still use a human driver, which “could look like a step backward” if the BCID is heavily promoting a self-driving exhibition, Starling said. Durrett later said he thinks that’s a good point. Massell was involved in forming the BCID and said one reason was to improve local mobility. “We are thus surprised and disappointed in its reaction rejecting a $40,000 participation request –pocket change from the $6,000,000 annual taxes it levies, hardly the cost of benches for its proposed Ga. 400 road park,” Massell said. The Coalition is an invitation-only group of 100 business and community leaders. Its own proposed contribution of $1,000 was met with a couple of light jokes from BCID board members during their shuttle discussion. On July 26, Massell issued a press release declaring that the same team of Atlanta leaders – including Durrett, the BCID’s executive director – still “endorse” the shuttle bid and want to see the vehicle tested during the holiday shopping period this year.

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Art & Entertainment | 17

Act3 aims for theater season success by starting with ‘Disaster!’ BY JUDITH SCHONBAK Act3 Productions aims for a successful 2019-2020 theater season by starting with disasters. The Sandy Springs semiprofessional theater is bringing earthquakes, infernos, tidal waves and swarming wildlife to its stage with ”Disaster!,” a musical parody of the disaster movies that proliferated in the 1970s, which premieres Aug. 9. Act3 is fresh from a 2018-2019 season that garnered a record 38 nominations for Metropolitan Atlanta Theater (MAT) Awards. The ceremony is to take place on Aug. 25. For the new season, Act3 has an ambitious schedule following the close of “Disaster!” on Aug. 24. Second on the season docket in September is courtroom thriller, “Twelve Angry Jurors,” based on the acclaimed movie with Henry Fonda. The thought-provoking drama explores what it means to live in a democracy. In November, “Baby,” a musical, follows the highs and lows of impending parenthood for three couples: college age young people just going into adulthood; 30-somethings determined to succeed in conceiving; and middle-aged parents expecting a surprise baby. Next up in February is “Calendar Girls,” a comedy based on a true story. Two best friends decide to raise money for Leukemia Research by posing nude for a calendar. The news of the women’s charitable venture spreads like wildfire, and hordes of press soon descend on their small village. For its season closer in April, Act3 chose the 1998 Broadway revival production of the classic award-winning musical “Cabaret,” which follows entertainer Sally Bowles in the decadent Kit Kat Klub as the Nazi Party quietly takes hold of 1930s Berlin. But first, it’s time for “Disaster!” In the musical comedy, the array of threats doesn’t stop a cast of characters from dancing, gambling and romancing on opening night in 1979 aboard New York’s first floating casino and discothèque, “The Barracuda.” During the 1970s, more than 30 disasters at sea, in the sky, on and under land, and from space lit up, flooded, blew away, crashed, shook and burned on the big screens during the disaster film decade. Some reached iconic status: “Poseidon Adventure,” “The Towering Inferno,” “Earthquake” and “Airport” are among them. As the trend took hold, their numbers grew, as did sequels. Along with jukebox pop hits from the ’70s, it makes for “a show filled with fun, goofy, kitschy humor with some underlying drama,” says Spencer G. Stephens, director for the Act3 production. How will they bring all those disasters to a small theater? Stephens said he did not want to give away too much, but he


“Disaster!” cast members carry out a dress rehearsal in July.

did share that “the stage will be infested with rats, ceilings will fall, and there will be some casualties.” “Disaster!” by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick, first appeared Off-Off Broadway in 2012, moved to Off-Broadway in 2013-14, and in March 2016 made it to Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre, with an all-star cast. The Broadway production closed three months later after 32 previews and 72 regular performances, though it did garner some rave reviews from New York critics. But the show has always been around under the radar and is surprisingly well-known, said Mary Sorrel, Act 3’s executive director and board chair. This is a rare opportunity to see the show. There is no record that it has played in a community or professional theater in Atlanta to date, although it has appeared on high school stages occasionally, noted Stephens. “Disaster!” popped up on the radar during Act3’s initial consideration for season shows, which started from Nov. 15 and continued through Jan. 15. Sorrel and Michelle Davis, Act3’s artistic director, pitch shows for the next season and

Act3 Productions

selection begins in mid-January. For musicals, they call on the expertise of JohnMichael D’Haviland, music director for Act3 and instructor at the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts at Pebblebrook High School. “It’s a lengthy and complex process,” said Davis. “Important in all these con-

siderations is what makes the season appealing to our community — our audiences and the actors who will audition and perform. In a small space like Act3’s the actors and audiences need to feel a connection. It is like being part of a community.”

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18 | Art & Entertainment ■ may be reserved starting at $40. Info: citysprings. com/events.





Saturday, August 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Discover hundreds of butterflies across three tents. Games, crafts, animal encounter, live music and concessions will be available too. Early registration reccomended. Doors open to members an hour early. Tickets: $10 Adult/$5 child per a tent. Dunwoody Nature Center, 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. Info:


Friday, August 9, - Saturday August 24 A new musical comedy from Broadway, featuring some of the most unforgettable songs of the ‘70s. Presented byCITY Act3SPRINGS Produc- THEATRE COMPANY tions. Tickets: “MARY$16-$32. POPPINS/SEASON” Act3 Playhouse, 6285- NEWSPAPERS for REPORTER R Roswell Road, Sandy 10”x6.185” Springs. Info:





Sunday, Aug. 11, 5-8:30 p.m. Atlanta Brass Cats, a 10-piece rock band recreating the sounds of Chicago, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars and more, takes stage starting at 7 p.m. Beforehand, the Taproom Concert Series will offer a craft brewery pop-up tasting experience. Taproom Tastings $18. Heritage Sandy Springs. 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info:


Fridays, Aug. 16, 30; 6:30 p.m. The City Green in Sandy Springs continues its summer music series with Sam Burchfield & the Scoundrels and the Trongone Band (Southern soul/rock) on Aug. 16; and Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics and Delta Moon (Southern soul/rock) on Aug. 30. City Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Free, no tickets required. Tables


Saturday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m. Angelica Hale, a child singer who received the famed “Golden Buzzer” on America’s Got Talent, takes the stage in a hometown show fresh off the release of her debut album, “Feel the Magic.” Tickets: $30-$130. Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: Groovin’ on the Green Saturday, August 10, 6-9 p.m. The final Groovin’ on the Green concert of the summer is a back-to-school social. Enjoy live music by the Wheelers, free ice cream bar, pretzels, cotton candy and snow cones, giveaways and a photo booth. Free. Pernoshal Park, 4575 North Shallowford Road, Dunwoody. Info:


Aug. 8 through Sept. 29 Opening Reception August 1, 5- 7 p.m. Atlanta landscape artist Lila McAlpin showcases her work at GALLERY 4945, an exhibition space for emerging and established artists in the area. Highpoint Episcopal Community Church, 4945 High Point Road, Sandy Springs. Info: or 404252-3324.


Friday, Aug. 16 through Jan. 31, 2021 Commemorating the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, this exhibition documents how women gained the vote and the ways they have used political power over the last century. Included with admission, $21.50 ($18 students, $9 children under 12). Swan House at the Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:


Through Saturday, Aug. 24, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Spruill Arts Center displays artwork from its students and instructors during its annual juried exhibition. Spruill Gallery, 4681 AshfordDunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: spruillarts. org.






Art & Entertainment | 19



Wednesday, August 7, 7:40 p.m. A documentary about the origin of one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals, “Fiddler on the Roof.” Tickets: $15, Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Fridays, Aug. 9 and 23, 6 p.m. Catch your favorite movies on the big screen outdoors with “How to Train your Dragon 3” on Aug. 9 and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” on Aug. 23.Food trucks and festivities at 6 p.m., entertainment on stage at 7 p.m.; movies at dusk. Lawn chairs, blankets and picnics welcome. Free. The Green at City Springs, 1 Galambos Way. Info: citysprings. com/events.


Saturday, Aug. 17, 6-10 p.m. Enjoy a free outdoor showing of “Toy Story” on a jumbo screen with Chick-fil-A meals and King of Pops ice pops for purchase. Plus “Toy Story” costume contest and tours of the farm. Movie starts at 8 p.m. Free. Donaldson-Bannister Farm Park, 4831 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info:

BOOKS & AUTHORS SAM JONES, ‘WHOLE HOG BBQ’ Wednesday, August 7, 6 p.m.

ty Room, Heritage Sandy Springs, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info:



Tuesday August 13, 4-7 p.m. Sandy Springs hosts its annual Back to School Bash at Hammond Park. Event will include water slides, games, a DJ, face-painting, snow cones and popcorn, and opportunities to learn about fall programming. Free. Hammond Park, 705 Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs. Info:

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Saturday, August 10, 8 a.m. Oglethorpe University hosts its first-ever 5K race benefiting the track and field team with a closed-course road race starting at the Track and Field Complex and continuing through the historic campus. Cost: $40. Oglethorpe University Track & Field Complex: 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Register:

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Saturday, August 24, 7:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. A 5K run and walk for humans and their dogs. Proceeds benefit the Ahimsa House, which is dedicated to helping the human and animal victims of domestic violence reach safety together. Cost: $30-$40. Lenox Park, 2220 Lake Boulevard, Brookhaven. Info: ahimsahouse. org/walkwagnrun





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FREE movies

Saturday, August 24, 8 p.m. The annual Brookhaven Police Department Hot Pursuit Glow Run 5K benefits the Shop with a Badge initiative, which raises funds for Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. Cost: $25. Murphey Candler Park, 1551 West Nancy Creek Drive, Brookhaven. Info:

LEARN SOMETHING CHINESE BRUSH PAINTING In “Whole Hog BBQ,” Sam Jones and Daniel Vaughn recount the history of the Skylight Inn in Ayden, North Carolina, which opened in 1947, and share step-by-step instructions for cooking a whole hog at home. Cost: $10, $5 members. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. Info: 404-814-4150 or


Wednesday, August 7, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Sandy Springs native and author Edward Buckley uses his experiences growing up in the Mount Vernon Woods neighborhood to inform the events in ‘All The Way Home,’ a coming-of-age tale about two boys navigating their growing awareness of the Civil Rights Movement, racial inequality and the meaning of love and family. Free. Communi-

Tuesdays, August 6, 13, 20 and 27; 4 p.m. Learn simple Chinese brush-painting techniques. Supplies will be provided. Free. Sandy Springs Branch Library, 395 Mount Vernon Highway N.E., Sandy Springs, 30328. Info: 404-303-6130.


Monday, August 26, 7-8:30 p.m. The class will cover fall season crops, sustainable gardening techniques, preparing the garden for winter and more. Free. Lost Corner Preserve Cottage, 7300 Brandon Mill Road Sandy Springs. Info: master-gardener-classes.


Saturday, Aug. 24, 2-5 p.m. Bring your own snacks and drinks while you socialize and paint with your family and friends. Cost: $30. Hammond Community Building,705 Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: registration.sandyspringsga. gov.

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20 | Art & Entertainment ■

Covering the world of sports: Q&A with CNN anchor Don Riddell BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN

A marathon runner and lifelong soccer fan, CNN sports anchor Don Riddell has lived in Buckhead near Chastain Park since moving from England to Atlanta in 2012. He has hosted “World Sport” for CNN International for the past 16 years and has also presented “Living Golf” and programs such as “World News” and “CNN Today.” Riddell, 46, covered the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, as well as the fatal plane crash that wiped out most of the Brazilian Chapecoense soccer team that same year. He produced two award-winning documentaries: “Branded a Rebel” about a West Indies cricket team that defied the rules of the day by touring apartheid-era South Africa, and “They’ll Never Walk Alone,” about the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield that killed 96 soccer fans.

Q. How and when did your fondness for sports begin? A. Soccer was the first sport I really loved. My team is Tottenham Hot Spurs, the Premier League team in North London that got to the Champions League Final this year.

Q. How has the perception of U.S. soccer fans changed in recent years? A. The rest of the world looks at the United States with a curious eye. Americans do have a great interest in sports generally, but had less in soccer. ‘It’s a sport that high-school girls play’ -- that’s how [the U.S. attitude] was viewed overseas. I knew that wasn’t necessarily true, but I was interested to find out what the case was. Clearly in the last 10 to15 years a lot has changed and it’s undeniable now that this country is really getting into it. For a while I thought that fans were just going along with it -- because it was different -- but didn’t necessarily get it or understand it, but now that I live here I see the passion is real and genuine. There is a real love of the sport, and what’s happened with Atlanta United is just extraordinary. I’m thrilled it’s happening in my town.

Q. What do you think of the recent Women’s World Cup won by the U.S. team? A. That’s really exciting. The amount of investment is clear to see because they are streets ahead of anyone else, but in this World Cup we saw that certain European teams are catching up. The quality and the

skill is undeniable and the standard is improving at a fairly rapid rate. The reality was there wasn’t enough money being put into the game and they were not being coached or trained properly. Now look how good they are.

markable to cover. It was utter devastation. Every night fans would come to the stadium because they didn’t know what else to do. This was a very tight-knit, close community. There was SPECIAL Don Riddell. a lot of love for the team. I went back two months later when they got a team together and played their first Q. What was it like covering the Olymgame. Friendships were forged out of this pics in Rio? tragedy. A. The popular narrative had people mocking it months before we even got there. But Q. Do you believe sport can lift us? here I was at the Olympics -- my first time A. It can teach us so much about indi-- and it was really cool. Didn’t everybody vidual growth and development. In terms want to be here? You’d go to the stadiums of breaking down barriers, especially now and things might be a little disorganized, that the world is so polarized, you get a but if you watched it on television it all bunch of people together on any kind of looked great. At the end of the day it was all playing field or court and all that goes out about sport, and there was some incredible the window. We are all just human beings sport. To see the finale in the flesh is just a just trying to be better. remarkable experience. Unforgettable. I reSports is a great way of realizing and ally enjoyed it and hope to be at the next appreciating what we have in common -one in Tokyo in 2020. working together trying to achieve a common goal. I’m not sure I swallowed that Q. Shortly after that you were coverwhen I was younger, but now that I’m olding the Chapecoense plane tragedy. er and wiser it’s quite clear to me sport has A. It was a really intense experience -- rea huge role to play.

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22 | Community ■

All aboard MARTA’s busiest bus line, the Buford Highway Route 39 BY DYANA BAGBY

There are now about 90 stops between the 8-mile stretch between Lindbergh and Doraville that include numerous sprawling shopping cenBushra Alfaraj lives near the Brookhaven borters: Northeast Plaza, Asian Square, Plaza Fiesta der and when the weather is not too hot, she likes and Pinetree Plaza, which are identified by signs to walk about 10 minutes from her apartment to in Korean, Spanish and other languages. Oththe Briarwood Road bus stop to catch MARTA Bus er major stops include DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, 39 at 9 a.m. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s It’s about a 30-minute ride on the bus to the Chamblee campus, an Internal Revenue Service McClave Drive stop in Doraville. From there, she building, the Latin American Association and the walks another 15 minutes to her job as developBuford Highway Farmers Market. ment designer at the Center for Pan Asian ComFisher said Bus 39 has long been one of MARmunity Services on North Shallowford Road. TA’s top-ridership routes, likely due to the high She also regularly rides Buses 47 and 133, concentration of apartments and shopping cenwhich have stops closer to her home and where ters on the route. There is also a high level of transhe needs to go, but those buses are never as full sit use in the international community along the as Bus 39, she said. route, she said. “It’s really fun for people-watching,” Alfaraj Lavonda Jones has been driving a MARTA bus said of Bus 39. “I can definitely see why Buford for 15 years, the past three years dedicated to route Highway requires more stops ... between it being 39. Her shift begins at 4:50 a.m. at the Doraville a long highway and the diversity.” MARTA Station and she said most of her riders Alfaraj said taking the bus to work gives her boarding the bus that early are headed to the Lindtime to relax. She’s currently studying for the GRE bergh station to catch a train to get to their job. and has digital flash cards she can flip through Without traffic or interruptions, she can make the during the ride. trip in 45 minutes. “It’s also a good time to catch up with my fam“The first three trips are people just trying to get ily and friends who live all over the place ... Ridto work, so those are very important times to me, ing Bus 39 is a good time for me to connect with making sure I’m keeping it moving,” Jones said. everyone, or I can spend it reading or listening to “Even when people are getting out their fare, music,” she said. I’m looking at traffic trying to keep that bus movWith an average daily ridership of more than ing so they will get to the train on time,” she said. 5,400 on weekdays and more than 7,000 on weekJones’ other regular riders include CDC and IRS ends recorded between December and February, employees, women going to get their hair done at a PHOTOS BY DYANA BAGBY Bus 39 is the most used of MARTA’s 101 bus routes. salon in one of the shopping centers, DeKalb CounLavonda Jones poses with the bus she drives on Buford Highway’s Route 39. Bus 110, which serves the Brookhaven and Chamty crews working at a waste transfer station and blee area, has the next highest weekday rider avpeople headed to the Goodwill Career Center in erage for the area at 3,482, according to MARTA records. Northeast Plaza to gain training and find jobs. Bus 39 also serves one of metro Atlanta’s most diverse communities. Larry KeatOn a recent Thursday morning, Pedro Marquez, 73, boarded Bus 39 at a stop in front ing, a retired Georgia Tech urban planning professor and author of the influential polof Plaza Fiesta. He said he was going to Grady Hospital to pick up medicine for his diaicy book “Atlanta: Race, Class and Urban Expansion,” has said that many Asian and betes and heart problems. To get to Grady, Marquez had to take the Gold line from LindLatino immigrants and others moved to Buford Highway rental housing in the 1980s bergh to Five Points, then transfer to the Green line to get to the Georgia State station. through 2000s during metro From there, he had about a five-minute walk to the hospital. Atlanta’s construction and imHe said in limited English that he walks along Buford Highway every day. “I have no migration boom. car, no nothing,” he said. Marquez said he has lived along Buford Highway for 17 years They did so because many and goes to the hospital two or three times a week. apartments were large, some “This is my transportation. I live by myself,” he said. as big as 900 square feet for a On a separate trip, an older man in a white T-shirt pushing a cart covered by a blue two-bedroom apartment; rents tarp sat close to the front of the bus after boarding at the Doraville station. A womwere cheap and near the botan with a blacktom of the metro rental price and-white scarf range; and the apartments wrapped around were accessible to public and her head sat alone. indigenous transportation, he A woman with two said. playful young boys MARTA created the Route boarded and she 39, offering continuous sersqueezed them all vice along Buford Highway, in together into two the mid-1980s, when it saw the seats next to each need to serve the growing popother. ulation. Although there is not In another seat, a formal record of how Bus 39 a young man wearcame to be, MARTA spokesing headphones person Stephany Fisher said stared out the winthe MARTA service likely bedow as the bus rode gan when the Lindbergh Cenpast a nondescript Lavonda Jones pulls up to a Bus 39 stop on Buford ter Station opened in 1984, and Highway with the Latin American Association strip mall where seen through the windshield. Jones has been that the route took its current “Fuerza Latina InCharissa Dubose-Jenkins, a 12-year MARTA employee, shows off a driving the Bus 39 route between the Lindbergh form in 1992 with the opening blanket she is crocheting. She was taking Bus 39 from the Lindbergh surance” could be and Doraville MARTA stations for three years MARTA station to the nearby Michael’s store to purchase more yarn. of the Doraville station. and driving a MARTA bus for 15 years. purchased next



Community | 23

door to a Cricket wireless store. The bus passed a drab, brown building with a “Cash America Pawn” sign emblazoned on its front appeared to be shuttered, and where many aging single-family houses are now homes to local businesses. A blue Statue of Liberty stood at the front door of one of those houses where an attorney works. At the Lindbergh station, Charissa Dubose-Jenkins got on Bus 39, but not to travel on Buford Highway. She was headed to the Michael’s store in the Buckhead Crossing Shopping Center, just a few minutes away from Lindbergh, to buy yarn for a blanket she is crocheting. Dubose-Jenkins has worked for MARTA for 12 years, cleaning the Hamilton E. Holmes train station in West Atlanta. She said after buying her yarn, she was going to ride Bus 39 back to the Lindbergh station and then take Bus 30 to Executive Park to pay the mortgage on her home lo-

cated in West Atlanta. Just another day on MARTA, she said. Marie Barajas, 25, boarded Bus 39 on a recent morning at the Lindbergh station. She said she rides Bus 81 from a stop close to her home in East Point to the East Point MARTA Station. There, she takes a train to Lindbergh where she then catches Bus 39 that takes her nearly to the front door of the Sessoms Law Group office, where she works as a legal receptionist. The hour commute each way and transfers are worth it to not have to drive in traffic, she said. “It’s very convenient for me,” she said as she pulls the cord to signal the bus driver to stop. Barajas moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles a year ago and knew she wanted to work helping Hispanic people. The Sessoms Law Groups includes immigration law as a practice area and Barajas said she does a lot of work translating le-

gal documents from English to Spanish. “People lie all the time to Hispanic people, they don’t always have the best intentions and sometimes are only trying to steal their money,” she said. “This is a way I can help.” For Jones, the passengers and their stories are what make her job driving a MARTA bus enjoyable. Some buy her gifts, including the necklace and bracelet she wears. Others bring her a hot cup of coffee in the early morning hours. Some are teaching her Spanish and tease her when she asks them how to say certain words. “I love them, they love me,” she said. “They thank me every day. That’s why I stay out here. I love it out here.”

Marie Barajas lives in East Point and takes Bus 39 from the Lindbergh MARTA station to get to her job at a law firm on Buford Highway. The commute is about one hour each way, but Barajas said it is worth it to not worry about traffic.

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Summer 2019 | New Atlanta airport chief discusses improvements, investigation | P27

Born from the Atlanta Olympics, a sports news outlet seeks to preserve its legacy BY JOHN RUCH

Talk of the lasting legacy of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics usually revolves around a downtown park or stadium. But tucked inside a Buckhead office tower is a different kind of product of that heady time: a pioneering sports publication covering Olympics news and politics. And now it has its own legacy to preserve as its owners seek to pass the torch to new hands and find a home for their precious historic archives. Around the Rings was founded in 1992 by editor-in-chief Ed Hula, an experienced radio journalist, as a specialty newsletter covering Atlanta’s Olympics planning. It grew into a top Olympics trade publication – the only one based in the U.S. – and an early example of an internet-only, subscription news site. “It’s a fascinating world,” Hula said of the Olympics in a recent interview in Around the Rings’ small newsroom at Peachtree and 25th streets. “It combines the sport, the entertainment side… the business side. All the things I was interested in were part of the package called the Olympics.” While reporters typed up the latest sports news, Ed and Around the Rings publisher Sheila Scott Hula reminisced about more than a quarter-century of Olympics coverage. The couple and their team have amassed a collection of memorabilia that ilContinued on page 26


Publisher Sheila Scott Hula and editor-in-chief Ed Hula pose in the “Around the Rings” office with Olympics torches and other memorabilia, including “Izzy,” the Atlanta Olympics mascot. Sheila holds a torch from the 2008 Beijing, China, Olympics and Ed holds an Atlanta Games torch.

Please eat our plants: An edible landscaping trend began in Buckhead BY JOHN RUCH

Atop a steep, shrubbery-spotted embankment in a Buckhead office park, where I-85’s traffic roars by just behind a low concrete wall, is one of Morgan Carswell’s favorite places to go for a work-break snack. In that unlikely locale, many of those shrubs are blueberry bushes, and Carswell says she and her coworkers at EpiCity Real Estate Services have gleefully picked “two to three large Tupperware bowls” of ripe berries in recent weeks. It’s no coincidence of nature that the plants are there. EpiCity has partnered with a Decatur-based company called Natural Born Tillers to turn its Buckhead headquarters into a pioneering experiment in

“edible landscaping,” an effort that has borne fruit and expanded to the Atlanta corporate campuses of Delta Air Lines and the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Employees scrambling eagerly over the grounds of the Armour Junction office park on Plasters Avenue, searching for fruits and vegetables and beauty, is exactly what Cory Mosser, the farmer-founder of Natural Born Tillers, had in mind with the concept of edible landscaping on commercial sites. “I started looking at people in traffic and seeing how sad they were,” says Mosser. “I saw a lot of boring, placeholder landscaping.” He figured edible, rather than purely decorative, landscaping could be a feature



Figs from a tree planted at EpiCity Real Estate ervices in the palm of Cory Mosser’s hand.


26 | Perimeter Business ■

Born from the Atlanta Olympics, a sports news outlet seeks to preserve its legacy Continued from page 25 lustrated the stories. Elaborate Olympic torches from several different Games. A Wheaties cereal box signed by Olympic swimming champion Janet Evans “to my friends at Around the Rings.” Such Atlanta Games souvenirs as a license plate, stuffed toys of mascot “Izzy,” and an “Olympic Gymnast” Barbie doll. In a back room are even more historic materials – Ed’s archive of roughly 1,000 audio recordings of Olympics reporting, including landmark moments in Atlanta’s bidding process. Many of them are on then cutting-edge, now outdate media, such as digital tapes and MiniDiscs. And it’s time for much of that material to find a new home, the Hulas say. They already sent 31 boxes of memorabilia to the LA84 Foundation archives in Los Angeles. Ed is looking to the Atlanta History Center --- home to the official Atlanta Olympics exhibit, now under reconstruction – and the Switzerland-based International Olympics Committee as possible permanent archives for his recordings. The couple have reached retirement age, and Around the Rings subscribers are not as plentiful as they used to be as once-frenetic city bids for Olympics have waned amid controversy over spending and corruption, and the IOC calling for less lavish promotion and marketing. The Hulas are looking for an investor or two to take the reins. “We’re trying to wind down our involvement,” said Ed.

Covering the bid

The Olympics is not a world he expected to be involved with in the first place. In the 1970s, he was a PBS radio reporter in Florida and earlier this year appeared in the Netflix documentary “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” to share his memories of covering the serial killer’s crimes there. In 1984, Ed moved to Atlanta to work as a writer and show producer at CNN. Sheila worked there as executive producer of a travel program and they met. Ed went on to become news director at Peach State Public Radio, now known as Georgia Public Broadcasting. For Peach State and other radio stations, he began covering Atlanta’s Olympic bid. “I didn’t have any real Olympic experience then to make the decision how to cover it,” he said. “This was all new to everybody.” In 1990, he went to Tokyo, Japan, to cover the IOC’s announcement of which city won the 1996 Olympics hosting rights. Atlanta’s chances were considered so unlikely, Hula had a back-up assignment to report on cooperation between Japanese and Georgia businesses. “And little did we know, we came


Top, a 1996 Olympics license plate is among the memorabilia in Ed Hula’s office. Above left, a Wheaties cereal box signed by Olympic swimming champion Janet Evans is among the trophies in the “Around the Rings” office. Above right, “Olympic Gymnast” Barbie is an Atlanta Games souvenir the Hulas aimed to donate to a friend.

home with the Olympics to worry about,” he said. Sheila was as surprised as anyone that Atlanta won the bid. “Home of the Braves. Home of the Falcons. Are you kidding me?” she recalled with a laugh. Ed was not only in Tokyo for the announcement, but he was with such legendary leaders as Mayor Maynard Jackson, former mayor Andrew Young and Billy Payne, the Dunwoody businessman who led the bid committee. Among the moments he recorded was Jackson and Young shouting, “You did it!” to Payne. “They sounded like kids on their first Christmas,” Hula said. “In 1990, when the announcement was made in Japan at the IOC session, [only] myself, maybe Sally Sears from Channel 2 and Bert Roughton from the AJC… were actually embedded with the Atlanta bid team on the floor of the IOC session,” Ed recalled. “We were right there. To be in the group at the moment when they heard ‘Atlanta’ -- it was an electrifying moment… I realized my life was probably changing.”

Around the Rings

It sure did. Back in the States, Salt Lake City was soon in the news for pursuing another U.S. bid, this time for the Winter Olympics. Ed saw an opportunity in covering Olympics bids and started freelancing radio pieces about the process in 1992, when he covered his first Games in Barcelona, Spain. At the same time, he heard from Bill Shipp, a legendary Atlanta Constitution journalist and publisher of a popular political newsletter, who wanted to circulate an Olympics newsletter as well. In those days, paid specialty newsletters circulating by mail or fax or were a trend. The result was “The Hula Report,” which Shipp later handed over fully to Ed. After the Atlanta Games, it was renamed Around the Rings. For some years, Ed remained focused on radio reporting. In 1998, the Hulas moved to Australia for a two-and-a-halfyear stay to cover the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics for radio there. They kept a small office active in Atlanta, but really geared up in 2001 to become a pioneering digital news outlet for the Games and

the first internet-only media accredited to cover them. Operating as an early subscription news site with a paywall, Around the Rings grew to become a top Olympics news outlet in a specialty field with about a half-dozen competitors worldwide. Today it has six staffers in Atlanta and freelancers in key international countries. During the Olympics, it publishes special print editions as well. In 2009, the Hulas also established a companion news site, World Football INSIDER, to cover soccer and World Cup bids. Around the Rings work was frenetic in the glory days, when the 2004 Summer Olympics drew 11 bid cities. But that is changing, with bidders drying up and the IOC asking those who remain to spend less on self-promotion. That’s because the Olympics is in another of its regular cycles of scandal about corruption, wasteful spending and human rights impacts. The 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics drew high-profile controversy for skyrocketing budgets and corruption. A 2015 revolt against Boston’s 2024 Olympics bid led to an unprecedented dual award of the 2024 and 2028 Games to other cities for sheer lack of interested bidders. “I think we’ve seen the last of unbridled, no-holds-barred bidding. The IOC realized the bid process ended up killing bids,” said Ed. That’s good for the Olympics, he said, because “I think it was moving toward collapse, going the way they were going.” But it’s not so good for Around the Rings, where contested bids helped to boost subscriptions and advertising. “They killed their own golden goose… It’s too bad, because it was so much fun,” said Sheila, lamenting the loss of bid excitement. “In some ways, it was a good thing,” she added, citing a bidding process that led to “hurt feelings, humiliations, angry taxpayers.” The Olympics may be nearing the end of giant construction projects, too, Ed said, noting that “Atlanta has one or two white elephants…venues that didn’t make it after the Games.” The emerging model, he said, is to “make the Olympics fit your city rather than making a city fit the Olympics.” As they look to move on from the Olympics scene, the Hulas have their own favorite memories. “I’m still a little bit in awe of the high level of human achievement – athletes, royalty, heads of state,” said Sheila. Ed said he appreciates the friendships, meeting world leaders and sports champions, and “getting to see parts of the world I wouldn’t ordinarily visit.” To read their latest Olympics news, see


Perimeter Business | 27

New Atlanta airport chief discusses improvements, investigation BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN John Selden was invited to visit the cockpit of a Bermuda-bound flight when he was five years old. He sat on the co-pilot’s lap and even got to hold the control yoke for a bit. That started his lifelong love of all things related to aircraft, the new general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport explained during a June 27 Buckhead Business Association breakfast. He took his position last October after serving in a similar role at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Calling the new post “the pinnacle of my career,” Selden said, “Atlanta hospitality has been very nice, totally different from the one I came from in New York. People smiling… I have had a very warm reception since I arrived.” Selden touted Hartsfield-Jackson’s position as the world’s busiest airport, with an average of 2,750 daily flights, but his goal is to increase that number eventually to 3,400. A sixth runway is in the planning stages, as well as more buildings. “We have the capacity to grow,” he said. “The infrastructure has to keep up with the growth,” Selden said. “We cannot turn into [New York’s secondary airport] LaGuardia. My goal and my team’s goal is to do everything we can to work with everybody that SPECIAL John Selden. we need to [in order to] ensure that Hartsfield-Jackson is not a limiting factor on the growth of the Atlanta region.” A massive new parking garage will be built in College Park, between the rental car center and the airport, becoming the first stop on the Skytrain. West of that, a five-star hotel will be erected, as will a 50,000-square-foot office building. “We are building pedestrian walkways,” Selden added. “Somehow you all believe you can come out of the terminal, looking at your phones, and texting, without getting hit. Three people have been hit since I’ve been here.”

Additionally, traffic lights will be installed outside the terminals “where they scream at you ‘don’t walk’ because everybody’s got their headphones on.” Another potential area of growth is cargo and the possibility of Atlanta as a hub for ecommerce. “It’s coming. Cargo creates tons of jobs,” he said, noting that too many planes are flying with cargo holds that are practically empty. Referring to Hartsfield-Jackson as a “competitive machine,” Selden announced at the meeting that requests for proposals were recently issued for development of roughly 800 acres of land owned by the airport on its periphery. Selden credited part of the airport’s success to its landing fees, some of the lowest in the country. He cited Delta Air Lines’ 80 million annual passengers as well, and said Hartsfield-Jackson is the largest employer in the state with 63,000 jobs. “We generate $52 billion in revenues in Atlanta metro. The rest of Georgia is another 15,” he said. “There is $83 billion worth of economic activity in the region — a huge economic impact. Concessions were $1.1 billion gross last year.” But not everything runs as smoothly as Selden would like. On arrival at the breakfast, Selden took a call regarding the attempted kidnapping of a child in the airport’s atrium that had just been defused by Atlanta police. He also has to maintain a working relationship with the City of Atlanta, which owns the airport. The city is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration for possible misuse of airport funds, and the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into the handling of an FAA subpoena of airport records. Hartsfield-Jackson is one of several airports picked for a financial compliance review, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “The procurement process is run by city hall and is different from the operation of the airport,” Selden told the Reporter after his presentation. “My goal is to monitor where the money and the funds are spent. I can’t speak of the past, only going forward, and we haven’t misused any funds.” “Mayor [Keisha] Lance Bottoms has a task force; she is leading the charge to reform the city to ensure that all these alleged corruption scandals are mitigated, procedures are put in place and she is moving the city forward,” he said. “She called it a cloud over the city.”


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Please eat our plants: An edible landscaping trend began in Buckhead

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Top, Cory Mosser of Natural Born Tillers discusses the blueberry bushes planted along I-85 at the EpiCity Real Estate Services campus in Buckhead. Bottom, Morgan Carswell of EpiCity Real Estate Services, left, watches as Mosser offers fresh figs. Opposite page, a sunflower sprouts in the garden created by Natural Born Tillers at Adult Swim’s Midtown headquarters. (Special)

Continued from page 25 that “breaks people’s bubbles” between cars and the landscape, between the natural environment and the office environment. It’s a concept that already has some popularity in residential areas – including the recently opened Urban Food Forest in southeast Atlanta, where Natural Born Tillers is a contractor – but the commercial side is a new field. About three years ago, Mosser got the chance to try the concept through a chance introduction to EpiCity president Tom Stokes via a mutual friend who operates an organic farm at Emory University’s Oxford College in Oxford, Ga. Stokes and EpiCity’s architecture firm partner, Sizemore Group, agreed to help plant the seeds of the idea at the real estate company’s five-building complex on Plasters Avenue. Today, instead of generic evergreen shrubs under the office windows, EpiCity

has lavender plants and pineapple guava, which bears edible flowers. Trellises on an exterior wall will soon hold vines of muscadine grapes. On a closer look, landscape plants turn out to be the aromatic herb rosemary or the fruit-bearing serviceberry. Coming soon are “cocktail herbs” and tea plants for a new bar that will open in the complex. On a recent morning, Mosser strolled across the visitor parking lot, hopped onto the curb, stuck his hand into the foliage of a small tree, and produced some figs, which the Reporter can confirm were yummy. “When was the last time you stopped and looked at a plant?” Mosser said. “I think it changes your relationship to the landscape when you get something from it.” The edible landscaping was a hit. Now several EpiCity-managed properties have edible landscaping and garden beds, in-


Perimeter Business | 29

cluding another office park on Powers Ferry Road in Cobb County. “We are really enjoying this collaboration with Natural Born Tillers and the ability to offer our community members more amenities and a chance to get outside and to be a part of God’s beautiful creation,” said Stokes in a press release highlighting the Cobb project. And bigger clients have followed, among them Adult Swim, which brought Natural Born Tillers in to plant a corporate landscape garden at its Midtown headquarters in 2017. Matt Harrigan, Adult Swim’s vice president of digital operations and one of its top writers and hosts, also oversees the company garden. He says the taste of nature is a nice alternative to the company’s largely electronic work. And the harvest every week or two includes not only staples like tomatoes and blueberries, but “a few surprises” Mosser and the team planted, such as “tiny Mexican sour cucumbers, Carolina Reaper peppers, edible nasturtiums [flowers].” “Our garden is a fun, parallel organic universe populated with bees, butterflies and the occasional rabbit, and part of the fun of this garden is that it’s in a perpetual state of change,” Harrigan said. “The employee reaction to it has been overwhelmingly positive.” That kind of ecosystembuilding is another benefit of edible landscaping, especially in the pesticidefree method Natural Born Tillers does it, Mosser says. He said 210 native species of moths can live on blueberry bushes, and Carswell said she has noticed more honeybees on the property as they come to pollinate the variety of plants. Attracting a full range of creatures is a way the landscaping can solve one issue that often worries property-owners – vermin that might like to eat the plants as much as people do. “One of the biggest concerns I get when meeting with new clients is, ‘What about pests?’” Mosser said.

“If you have predators, it’s not an issue.” Natural Born Tillers not only plants edible landscaping but also offers ongoing maintenance, replanting and programming. The pricing depends on the size and complexity. Planting can run anywhere from $2,000 to $100,000, Mosser said, and monthly maintenance could be $500 to $2,000. “It’s more expensive than traditional landscaping,” he acknowledged, but offers many benefits, and can come with such additional programming as presentations from guest chefs or local farmers. “It’s not just about, ‘Oh, we’ve got a fig tree out here,’” he said. For corporate clients, “It’s a great team-building exercise,” he said. And for employees, there’s always the big plus: “having excuses to go outside.” For more details about the landscaping service, see And for information about EpiCity and Armour Junction, see



We’re looking for high energy people with a passion for selling and proven experience in any type of outside sales. We offer excellent compensation, with base salary+ commision and company-paid health insurance.

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30 | Perimeter Business ■


The following businesses recently opened in Reporter Newspapers communities Aviva Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics, 110 Johnson Ferry Rd N.E., Center Pointe 2, Suite 470, Sandy Springs. Info: Boardroom Salon for Men, Buckhead Court, 3872 Roswell Road N.E., Buckhead. Info: Expedia CruiseShipCenters, travel agency, 4505 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info:

Bhavin Vadgama, left, and Hiral Vadgama celebrated the opening of their Rush Bowls restaurant at 1110 Hammond Drive, Suite 25, Sandy Springs on May 23. Info:


HOTWORX, fitness, 6115 Peachtree-Dunwoody Road, Sandy Springs. Info: Ron Self & Associates, Allstate auto insurance agency, 2498 Jett Ferry Road, Suite 102, Dunwoody. Info: Wallis Bank, 1710 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info:


Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal holds the bow while owner Daniel Wu cuts the ribbon, joined by restaurant employees and local government and Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce officials, at the opening of the FUGU Express Hibachi & Poké restaurant at 1165 Perimeter Center West, Suite 303, Dunwoody on May 17. Info:

Vibrant, Lush Lawns Delivered Daily

• Certified Turf Professionals • High-quality Sod Varieties • Open Saturdays • 770.431.1350


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The Red Barn Cafe at Tiger Mountain Vineyards After a weekend tour of Tiger Mountain Vineyards, relax on the patio over a meal. The café is open May through November for Friday and Saturday night dinners as well as Saturday and Sunday lunch/brunch. The menu includes soups, salads, small plates, entrees and desserts. 2592 Old 441 South, Tiger. Information:

you there. 76 Forge Mill Road, Morganton. Information:

61 Main▲ This farm-to-table restaurant serving up quail, grouper, rabbit and shrimp is located inside the historic Jasper Theater building. 49 S. Main St., Jasper. Information: 61main. com.

The Dillard House ► Famed for serving up Southern and country cooking, The Dillard House Inn and Restaurant doesn’t skimp on breakfast either. Whether you’re checking in for a getaway or just want some homestyle cooking, you’ll find out what’s been drawing hungry visitors for more than a century to Dillard. 768 Franklin St., Dillard. Information:

Bodensee Restaurant If you’re soaking up the charms of Helen’s Bavarian village, be sure to try some authentic German favorites like spätzle, Weiner Schnitzel, and house-made sausages. There’s also a great outdoor patio to en-

Wild Thyme


Try these acclaimed restaurants in Georgia and North Carolina when you head for the hills

The Black Sheep

The Sawmill Place ▲

Beechwood Inn ► Check in for the weekend and enjoy panoramic views of Black Rock Mountain from your room and the restaurant, which offers

The Orchard▲ Set in a century-old farmhouse, this Cashiers, NC favorite serves up local fish, beef and a big selection of wine and beers to enjoy while gazing out over the orchard. 905 Highway 107 South, Cashiers Valley. Information:

joy the view. 64 Munich Strasse, Helen. Information:

Blairsville residents and visitors alike swear by the big breakfast served at The Sawmill Place. We’re talking homemade biscuits, bacon, baked apples and much more. You can also grab lunch there, too. 1150 Pat Haralson Drive, Blairsville. Information:

This gourmet restaurant in Highlands, NC serves up an American menu with Asian influences, not to mention a wine list praised by Wine Spectator magazine threeyears running. 343-D Main St. Information:

The restaurant serves up new American dishes, including local beef and veggies, with private label wine and a giant outdoor patio with raw bar and craft cocktails. 480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge. Information: award-winning cuisine prepared from local food and the inn’s own wine list. 220 Beechwood Drive, Clayton. Information:

◄Harvest on Main

turkey. Don’t forget the Brunswick Stew! 4971 Gainesville Highway, Blairsville. Information:

Hofer’s Bakery ►

Consistently named one of North Georgia’s best restaurants, Harvest on Main uses seasonal products from local farmers ¬– grass-fed beef, veggies and trout – to craft its menu. 576 E. Main St., Blue Ridge. Information:

Enjoy breakfast and lunch in the Bavarian dining room, featuring entrees specially prepared European staff and breads baked in a stone hearth oven. Deli sandwiches are perfect to pick up for picnics or hikes and there’s also an outdoor biergarten. 8758 N. Main St., Helen. Information:

Jim’s Smokin’ Que

La Pizzeria at Cucina Rustica

If it’s barbecue you’re hankering for, head to Blairsville for smoked baby back ribs and expertly smoked pork, chicken and

If you’re in the Blue Ridge Mountains but craving a taste of Italy then La Pizzeria’s menu of wood-fired pizzas will take

Table 64 If you’re in Sapphire Valley, be sure to have dinner at Table 64 with its unique tapas menu and diverse wine selection. 3093 Highway 64E, Sapphire Valley, NC. Information:

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Mountain Events

Music, tennis, wine and more things to do in August in North Georgia and North Carolina Concerts at Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Head to Hiawassee for concerts by Vince Gill (Aug. 9) and Sawyer Brown & Exile (Aug. 31). For tickets and information: Mountain High BBQ Festival and Car Show

2019 Events Blood, Sweat&Tears Vince Gill Sawyer Brown and Exile

August 2 August 9 August 31

2019 Dailey&Vincent Landfest

Sept. 12-14

Georgia Mountain Fall Festival

October 11 -19

Appalachian Brew, Stew&Que

October 26

This two-day event, Aug. 10-11, featuring authentic, mouth-watering BBQ, live entertainment, a car show, crafters and tastin’ tent will be held in Franklin, NC. Information: Georgia Mountain Tennis Championships The 9th annual tournament will be held at Young Harris College Aug. 23-25. Divisions will include singles, doubles and mixed doubles for juniors, adults and seniors. Brackets will be determined by age and skill level. Information: Helen’s 50th Celebration Street Dance ▼ Head to Helen, GA on Aug 24 to mark the Alpine village’s 50th anniversary with a host of events including a big street dance

Mountain Country Christmas in Lights Opens Thanksgiving Night

Highway 76 West


Hiawassee, GA I 706-896-4191


in downtown from 6 to 8 p.m. Information: Crush Festival ▼ Head to Ellijay’s Cartecay Vineyards on Aug. 24-25 for grape stomping, live music, vineyard tours, food, fun and more. Information:

Village Square Art & Craft Show Now in its 14th year, the Aug. 25 event features regionally-made fine art, crafts and rustic furniture. The festival is held in Kelsey-Hutchinson Park in Highlands, NC. Information: Blairsville Mountain Heritage Festival Mountain music, arts and crafts, and living history activities are featured at the Heritage Festival held Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 on the town square. Information:


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Blue Ridge’s Only Golf and River Community

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

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

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

34 | Special Section ■

Chasing Waterfalls

Georgia State Parks offer recreation, beautiful sights

While exploring for that new home in the North Georgia mountains, be sure to drop by one of Georgia’s State Parks to check out some impressive waterfalls. Not only are they beautiful, but the parks also offer amazing recreational amenities, too. ◄ Amicalola Falls State Park The tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast, Amicalola Falls towers above the surrounding greenery at 729 feet high. The falls supply various vantage points for visitors to view the scenery, including a hardsurfaced trail perfect for strollers and wheelchairs. Climb the more challenging staircase to the top for unprecedented views of the falls. AmicalolaFalls. Cloudland Canyon State Park Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest and most scenic state parks in Georgia’s repertoire. Within the park one can find canyons, sandstone cliffs, caves, waterfalls, creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife. One of the most popular hiking trails includes the two-mile Waterfall Trail leading to two scenic falls that cascade over sandstone and pour into beautiful pools at the bottom. ◄Tallulah Gorge State Park One of the most impressive canyons in the southeast, Tallulah Gorge is 1,000 feet deep and roughly two miles long. The gorge contains numerous paths and overlooks for visitors to view the six waterfalls cascading through the bottom of the gorge. To gain access to the floor of the gorge and “Sliding Rock” (Bridal Veil Falls), visitors must acquire a permit available at the visitor’s center. Passes run out quickly, so it’s important to get an early start on the day for the full experience.

▲Black Rock Mountain State Park Located within the Blue Ridge Mountains, Black Rock Mountain State Park is located at the highest elevation of any Georgia State Park. The rugged terrain and fresh mountain air are home to Ada-Hi Falls. A short but steep trail and staircase lead to this small, secluded waterfall. Vogel State Park Vogel State Park is one of the nation’s oldest state parks, and rests at the base of the beautiful Blood Mountain. Located directly below Lake Trahlyta, this stepping stone waterfall cascades 40 feet. ►Moccasin Creek State Park Moccasin Creek State Park sits on the shores of Lake Burton and is a central location for visiting multiple falls in the area. The park’s two-mile trail Hemlock Falls Trail leads to the beautiful Hemlock Falls of Rabun County. The trail is kid-friendly, offers glimpses of the waterfall along the way and supplies a beautiful pool of water at the base of the falls.


Special Section | 35



192 Delphi Hills Lane 24 acres on Fightingtown Creek 5BR/4BA | $2,495,000

858 Adra Road Lake Blue Ridge Estate 6BR/4.5BA | $2,400,000



4 Stuart View Drive MINERAL BLUFF - MOUNTAIN VIEW 3BR/3BA | 1.28 AC | $434,900

41 Hall Street Intown Living - Blue Ridge 4BR/3.5BA | $699,000



153 Johnson Mill Road Executive Home - Ellijay, GA. 6BR/5BA | $400,000

Lot 9 Aska’s Grand Vista BLUE RIDGE - NEW CONSTRUCTION 4BR/3.5BA | 1.68 AC | $599,000



370 Enchanting Circle 1.8 AC lodge style cabin with long range views 5BR/3.5BA | $429,000


388 Shawnee Trail Overlooking the Cohutta Wilderness 4BR/3.5BA | $450,000


2185 Macedonia Church Road 43 AC Farm adjoining USFS 4BR/3BA | $589,000

396 Hideaway Road 1 AC Lake Blue Ridge cottage with easy walk to dock | 2BR/1BA | $749,000

Your Luxury Connection to the

Blue Ridge Mountains

Kim Knutzen cell: 770-402-1908

| office: 706-632-7211 #1 Agent Blue Ridge Office #1 Agent in Total Units Companywide Luxury Marketing Specialist Senior Marketing Consultant Life Member - Million Dollar Club


OLD TOCCOA FARM Fly Fishing & Golf Communtity Resale Lots $117,500 - $225,000


2941 Mobile Road - Will Subdivide 192.47 AC - $2,400,000 63 AC - $749,000

Harry Norman, REALTORS® Blue Ridge Office | 252 W. Main Street | Blue Ridge, GA 30513 The above information is believed to be accurate but is not warranted. Offer subject to errors, changes, omissions, prior sales and withdrawals without notice.

36 | Special Section ■

Cabin Life

Even laundry, cooking and cleaning feels like a vacation in the mountains BY ROBIN CONTE I don’t usually do nothing. I’m not a donothing person. But here, in the mountains in our house built of logs, I feel like I have not only permission but almost an obligation to do nothing. If it’s pouring outside, I can spend the day listening to the rain on our metal roof while lying on the couch with a good book. If it’s warm outside, I can choose the hammock. In the morning, I sit on the deck perched on a tall chair with a cup of coffee, watching as the mist rises like steam over the river below and lifts to reveal layers of mountains disappearing into the horizon. I sit again at night in an Amish rocker as the air cools, and I listen to the call of the whippoorwill. I plant flowers. I sweep floors. I wash clothes. I make meals. I always plan on writing, but

I usually get distracted by doing nothing. When I’m here in the mountains, even when I’m doing something, it feels like a vacation. I organize the pantry, clean out a closet, schedule for repairs. If it’s a long weekend and I have time, I’ll boil sugar water and put out a hummingbird feeder. I buy fresh, local peaches in the summer and apples in the fall, and in the spring I’ll get strawberries by the gallon, little glistening red gems that are so sweet they’re like juicy lumps of sugar.

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

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


Special Section | 37

My daily exercise is a hike along the river or through the mountain trails. I call the drug store, and the pharmacist answers immediately, in person. When I stop by later to pick up a few things, there are no lines, there is no waiting. I go to the local nursery to buy plants and it’s like walking through a candy store. I salivate all the while over the bright, luscious blossoms, and I get gorgeous potted arrangements at bargain prices. I drop by our post office to mail a letter, and there is a box of tiny green army soldiers and a sign that says, “Please take one and remember to pray for our service men and women.” We go to church, a small one-roomed chapel, and afterwards we walk to the local grill to have dinner with friends from the congregation. Someone always picks up the tab for our priest. We built the place almost 20 years ago, now. We hunted for a couple of years, driving from Greensboro to Hartwell to Hiawassee and back down to Ellijay, looking for just the right spot for a family retreat. Did we want to be in the mountains or on a lake? Those are your choices if you’d like an easy two-hour drive from Atlanta. Our compromise was a North Georgia river, and our river is the Toccoa. We planned the design and the details of the cabin together, as a family. Our general contractor went AWOL when it was time to pour the foundation, and, with the encouragement of my builder, I ended up GC-ing the job. I went through two electricians and three masons. I chose the logs for the structure, the rocks for the fireplace, the nails for the floor, and handled everything in-between. The place seems more like ours because of it. When we’re here in the mountains, we are an undistracted family. We play board games and card games together. If there’s something good showing, we’ll go to the drive-in theater—one of the last of its kind in the U.S.—where the kids used to buy funnel cakes and toss footballs or Frisbees while waiting for the sun to set. My husband built a tree house with the twins when they were young, and all of our children have taken turns blazing trails with him. We go kayaking and canoeing and wading, when the river is down. We watch birds. We pick blackberries. We bake apple pies in the fall and berry cobblers in the summer. We churn ice cream. We chop wood. We roast marshmallows for s’mores. We look for tracks in the snow. We sit in rocking chairs and stare at the mountains and the river and the wide open sky. And mostly, we do nothing. Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” visit


Happy Bear

92 Pinehurst Court MLS #89044 Beautifully furnished 4 bedroom, 4 and a half bath timber frame home in Old Edwards Club at Highlands Cove! The Master is on the main floor with two walk-in closets. Comes fully furnished.

Beautifully furnished 4 bedroom, 4.5 bath home. Kitchen includes Viking Professional appliances with Cambria countertops, gas log fireplace in the living room, and wood burning fireplace on the deck. Temporary club membership is available.

Highlands Cove Realty specializes in luxury North Carolina mountain homes, breathtaking homesites, condominiums, cottages, and vacation rentals at Old Edwards Club and in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain communities.

Starting at $775/night



14 Old Wagon Trail MLS #L87047A Make your vision a reality by owning two new lots located inside the gates of the prestigious Old Edwards Club. These lots provide the best of all worlds, featuring exceptional mountain, golf course, and lake views!

Absolutely stunning, designer furnished modern, mountain condominium that has an amazing mountain and golf course views! Lower level floor plan with two master suites plus an additional guest bedroom with its own bath.

With an average high temperature of 78° in the summer, the gated community of Old Edwards Club at Highlands Cove offers the restorative experience of mountain living along with year-round access to a wide range of activities like rock-climbing, whitewater rafting, hiking, exploring waterfalls and best small-town specialty shopping, rated by USA Today. Whether you plan to spend your days exploring nature or enjoying world-class amenities from golf, fine dining to shopping, we’ll help you find your oasis.


Starting at $375/night Barnell

Whether your passion is exploring nature or reading by the fireplace, this 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home is the perfect place to spend your vacation! All of the bedrooms have been updated and outfitted with new mattresses and top of the line linens.


Discover the Mountains


Starting at $575/night Roostica Cottage







The quaint town of Highlands is located in the beautiful Western North Carolina mountains. Just 2 hours from Atlanta, and in close proximity to interstate 85.


Starting at $425/night

Ed Hillis

Jennifer Blake

Bill Gilmore

Letty Murphy


75B Burning Bush Lane MLS #86753 Price reduction of $20,000.00. Seller is motivated to sell! This 3 bedroom, 3 bath condo features a floor plan that is all on one level and has hardwood floors throughout.

Roostica Cottage was recently featured in Cottage Journal Magazine! This beautiful home includes 2 main floor suites and sleeps 8. Cottage is across the street from the largest lake in Highlands – Lake Sequoyah.

95 Raleigh

410D Highlands Cove Drive MLS #90842 One of a Kind 3 bedroom, 3 bath condominium has tons of upgrades and comes fabulously decorated! RAREUpper unit with only a few steps going in with exceptional views of both the mountains and the golf course.

William Peavey

Toll Free: 833-456-4150

38 | Special Section ■

Call us to help you find your place on Lake Lanier! 770.235.6907

Selling Lake Lanier Lifestyles since 2001!

7095 Shadow Lane

$1,595,000 6BR| 6FB| 2HB | Pvt dock

Bill Stewart designed south lake retreat

Mountain Fitness

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

4345 Mceachern Drive $1,495,000 4BR| 3FB| Pvt dock

45 acre private Lake Lanier Estate

Hike with your dog 5954 Nachoochee Trail

7360 Pine Valley Road

New Low Country Style home

Young Deer area, South Lake, Tennis court

6746 Gaines Ferry Road

377 Night Fire Lane

$1,495,000 5BR| 4FB| 1HB | Pvt dock

$1,595,000 5BR| 5.5BA | Pvt dock | Pool Elegant South Lake home

8545 Anchor On Lanier Ct $649,900 3BR| 3FB| Pvt dock Forsyth County

$1,250,000 5BR| 5FB| 1HB | Pvt dock

Georgia State Parks just launched the new Tails on Trails Club, geared toward dog owners and their pups. While all of Georgia State Parks’ trails are dog-friendly, the Tails on Trails Club encourages dog owners to complete seven designated hiking trails for a reward. Upon completion of all seven trails, dog owners will receive a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana. Participating parks include Fort Mountain, F.D. Roosevelt, Don Carter, Sweetwater Creek, High Falls, Fort McAllister and Red Top Mountain. Find out more at

$979,000 6BR| 6FB| dock available On the Chestatee Golf Course

5500 Truman Mountain Rd $1,495,000 4BR| 3FB| 2HB | Pvt dock Fabulous open water views

Sheila Davis Group is part of the Norton Agency

Paddle lakes and rivers Don Carter State Park is the only state park on the northern edge of 38,000-acre Lake Lanier, making it the perfect paddling spot for stand-up paddleboards or paddling. For a challenging workout, take a three-mile trip to Flat Creek Island, the northernmost island of Lake Lanier. Don’t own a boat? Canoes and/or kayaks may be rented seasonally at more than 20 state parks. Join the Park Paddlers Club and paddle 22 miles of scenic waterways to earn a T-shirt reward. More information:

434 Green St, Gainesville, GA 30501

Sheila Davis 770.235.6907


Cycle the trails If biking is your thing, get on the trails at Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth,


Smithgall Woods State Park and Unicoi State Park near Helen, Don Carter State Park in Gainesville and Tallulah Gorge State Park. Find out more at

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

Special Section | 39

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Your mountain Retreat

just an hour north of Atlanta

Find out what happens when you get away from it all

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


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