August 2020 - Buckhead Reporter

Page 1

AUGUST 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 8

Buckhead Reporter COMMENTARY

Racial justice means talking and remembering





P 21-29

Masking Up

Weekend getaways

City plans carrot-andstick approach on water sellers




New leader of Conservancy helms park expansions


around the city.


ship Advisory Council, a group formed

The city appears headed to a carrotand-stick approach to young people who sell bottled water on the streets, a practice that authorities say has sometimes triggered serious crime in Buckhead and The Atlanta Youth Entrepreneur-

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by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, was PHIL MOSIER

Seamstress Lisa Rochon offers a face mask to shoppers July 25 at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, where mask-wearing was required and widely observed. July was a month of mask battles amid a COVID-19 surge, as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms established a mask-wearing mandate for which Gov. Brian Kemp took her to court, alleging it violated his own less restrictive executive order.

Buckhead cityhood talk reappears; business leaders condemn it


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Talk of Buckhead separating from Atlanta to become its own city is rumbling once again, with neighborhood groups said to be forming to discuss the idea. But local City Council members warn it’s a difficult path, and major business organizations are con-

demning the idea as divisive in a time of debates about racial and economic inequity. City Councilmember Howard Shook of North Buckhead’s District 7 said he has heard new cityhood talk informally from residents and that it is driven by concerns about crime. But he also expressed skepticism about the complex process and the po-

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poised to release policy recommendations about the water-selling issue on July 31, after the Reporter went to press. “We appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit of youth who are selling water to motorists,” said Bottoms in a July 25 press release about the pending policy announcement. “But we have seen an increase in unsafe and violent activity in some locations and cannot allow it to continue. It’s going to take a village and we are working with our partners to provide outreach and resources to these young people to help them gain access to job opportunities, workforce training, and educational programs.” One of the leaders involved in discussions about the water-sellers, Jim See CITY on page 14


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2 | Community ■

State Sen. Williams joins Congressional race; special election to come for her seat BY JOHN RUCH

Nikema Williams, a state senator and Democratic Party of Georgia chair, is the party’s replacement nominee for the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis in the 5th Congressional District race. Meanwhile, she will vacate her state Senate seat, triggering another special election that likely will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot for some Buckhead voters. The Atlanta-based Congressional district includes much of southern Buckhead.. Before his death July 17, Lewis had easily defeated a Democratic challenger in the June 9 primary and was scheduled to face Republican challenger Angela Stanton-King on the Nov. 3 ballot. State law allowed the state executive committee of the Democratic Party to appoint a replacement nominee. A special election will be called to fill out the remainder of Lewis’s term, which runs into January. That election will be held on Sept. 29 as well, according to Gov. Bri-

The late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

an Kemp. It was not immediately clear whether Williams would run in that race also. “We congratulate Nikema on this appointment, and look forward to working with her in this new capacity as we uphold and build on Congressman Lewis’

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a leader with both a pure heart and an unshakable commitment to human rights. As we persevere in the modern fight for social justice, we should honor his legacy by continuing to hold on to hope. I pray for his family, his constituents, and all who loved and were impacted by the life of Congressman John Lewis.” Sam Massell, a former Atlanta mayor and former president of the Buckhead Coalition, said SPECIAL SPECIAL in a phone interview State Sen. Nikema Williams. that he was Atlanta City Council (then the Board legacy and elect Democrats across Georof Aldermen) president and vice-mayor gia this November,” said Scott Hogan, exin the 1960s when he met Lewis, who was ecutive director of the Democratic Party engaged in Civil Rights activism. of Georgia, in a press release. “We remained friends and I have to Hogan also cited Lewis’s legacy as a sadly join the many other people [sayvoting rights activist and acknowledged ing]… he really made a contribution to that the “system was not perfect” with our city and to our country. So he’ll be the requirement to appoint rather than missed and it will be hard to replace John elect a replacement nominee. Lewis.” Williams currently represents state Massell said he often dined out in Senate District 39, which spans much of Buckhead with Lewis and recalled him as Atlanta and also includes part of southemotionally reserved but intensely comern Buckhead. mitted to civil rights and other civic isWilliams must leave the state Senate sues. seat to run for Congress, according to the “Although he was a pleasant perGeorgia Secretary of State’s Office. Wilson as a friend, as a personal friend… liams was running unopposed for rehe never laughed much or demonstratelection on the Nov. 3 general election ed much emotion, other than the dedicaballot, leaving the seat vacant and the ention and commitment to reforms in the tire race without a candidate. civil rights,” said Massell. “He was seriThat means a special primary election ous-minded then as a college student and will be called, consisting solely of Demretained that persona through his entire ocratic candidates, according to Secrelifetime. He was always serious about his tary of State’s Office spokesperson Walchallenge and commitment and concluter Jones. The winner will get the Senate sions. So it was impressive that he was seat. The election likely will be scheduled businesslike and maintained that.” for Nov. 3 as well, he said. In the 1986 where Lewis won the seat over fellow Civil Rights leader Julian Memories of Lewis Bond, the Buckhead Business AssociaA legendary figure of the Civil Rights tion made a rare endorsement in Lewis’s movement, Lewis was remembered by favor, Massell said. Over the years, Masseveral local leaders. sell said, “maintaining the friendship we “There are no words to describe the were building racially was the most imtremendous loss that Americans, Atlanportant part” of Buckhead leaders and tans, and I personally feel upon learning Lewis working together. of the passing of Congressman John Lew“John Lewis was one of the noblest is,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in gentlemen I have ever known,” said Mary a written statement. “America knew him Norwood, a former City Council member as a Civil Rights icon, Congressional giand current chair of the Buckhead Counant and a moral compass, but I knew cil of Neighborhoods. “He and his devothim as a friend. The people of Atlaned wife Lillian treated me with kindness ta often called upon Congressman Lewthroughout our decades-long friendship. is for counsel, guidance, and assistance We will all miss his leadership and his with getting into good trouble. No matter steadfast convictions which guided him how busy his schedule, or important his through a lifetime of courage and honWashington duties were, he answered. or.” We were privileged to be represented by BH


Community | 3

Marchers protest Trump, use of federal police

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Protest marchers head down Slaton Drive in Buckhead on July 25.


Demonstrators gathered in Buckhead July 25 to protest President Donald Trump and his use of federal police in cities. About 50 protesters met at a Regions Bank parking lot on West Paces Ferry Road, then proceeded on foot and by vehicle down Slaton Drive to Peachtree Road. They said they were heading to the Georgia Tech campus to meet other protesters. The event was advertised on social media as in solidarity with protesters in Portland, Oregon, where ongoing protests about racism and police brutality have drawn national attention as Trump sent in federal police forces earlier this month. The use of U.S. Department of Homeland Security police and a practice of unmarked officers arresting people on the streets has caused controversy and become a focal point of further protests there. Trump has said he will extend the federal policing to other cities, leading several mayors to issue a letter in opposition, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Some of the local protesters displayed printed signs calling for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to leave office and bearing the slogans “No fascist military war on the people” and “No fascist police state.” The signs bore the web address of, a New York City-based movement with an Atlanta chapter that says it opposes Trump’s presidency as inherently fascist. Other protest signs included such slogans as “Black Lives Matter,” “No justice, no peace” and “Feds stay home.” The protest was announced as gathering across the street at the Atlanta History Center at 130 West Paces Ferry, which is private property. The protesters instead gathered at the bank and spoke with a Georgia State Patrol lieutenant before heading out.

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4 | Community ■

Buckhead Coalition rethinks its mission, new president says BY JOHN RUCH

On July 16, Jim Durrett gave his first “State of Buckhead” address as the new president of the Buckhead Coalition, a position he took in an unprecedented dual role while still serving as executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District. But the state of the Coalition, a legendary local nonprofit, was on some attendees’ minds. Durrett had no answer beyond saying the Coalition is rethinking its vision and mission, adding later in an email, “All I can tell you… is that we are in the middle of making changes about how everything operates.” One practical change is already happening -- a merger of the CID staff into the Coalition, an unusual move that an attorney with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation says may open the long private and exclusive nonprofit to state Open Meetings and Open Records laws. Durrett has spent over 10 years as executive director at the Buckhead CID, a self-taxing group of commercial property owners that funds public safety, transportation and beautification projects in the business district. Its board includes several powerful figures in the South-

east’s real estate world and the managors and other important figures as er of the Lenox Square and Phipps Plakeynote speakers, to contributing volunza malls. teers and donations to small communiThe Coalition is a private, invitationty improvement and charity efforts. The only, nonprofit community group of Coalition was the vehicle for Massell’s 100 members who pay a $9,000 annusometimes whimsical efforts at neighal fee, plus ex-officio members. Among borhood boosterism; his unfinished last its current membership are legendary project was an attempt to get Buckhead business figures Ted an honorary designaTurner and Charlie tion as a “township.” Loudermilk; Jeffrey Massell also used Sprecher, head of the the Coalition as a platfirm that owns the form to call for social New York Stock Exand racial unity in Atchange and husband lanta and to speak out of U.S. Sen. Kelly Loefagainst occasional fler; and the chief oftalk of Buckhead leavficers of Piedmont ing to become its own Healthcare, the Cacity. Durrett’s first thedral of St. Philip act as Coalition presand the Atlanta Histoident echoed that pory Center. sition, as he arranged Former Atlanta for a joint statement SPECIAL Jim Durrett. mayor Sam Massell against the latest citywas its founding preshood talk along with ident and led the orthe CID, Livable Buckganization for more than 30 years until head and the Buckhead Business Associhis retirement in June. Under Massell, ation. the Coalition acted as a kind of economBut what else, if anything, Durrett ic development agency for Buckhead, and the Coalition intend to preserve publishing an annual book of detailed from the previous three decades is uninformation about the neighborhood. clear. The main theme of Durrett’s brief Its programs ranged from a newsmakcomments on the subject is change. ing annual luncheon which drew mayIn his “State of the Buckhead” address to the BBA, Durrett focused on information from the CID. When asked about the Coalition, he said he and the board were still discussing “what our vision and our mission and our priorities should be going forward.” Part of that, he said, is “coming up with exactly who we need to be for today and tomorrow and not just continuing to do what has been done for the past 32 years.” Also remaining to be seen is how the Coalition position relates to still other important roles Durrett holds. He sits on MARTA’s board of directors and serves as treasurer for the conservancy planning HUB404, a long-planned park capping Ga. 400 between Lenox and Peachtree roads atop the Buckhead MARTA Station. The park project is in “hibernation” due to the pandemic essentially halting its fundraising, Durrett said. He called it an “effort that is not on the back burner, but it’s not on the front burner.” Durrett has said that he is still learning the ropes at the Coalition. When asked about the Coalition’s governing board or executive committee, he at first said the identities of the group’s members are kept private before Coalition staff corrected him that they are publicly disclosed upon request. The CID and the Coalition will remain separate organziations, said Durrett and Lynn Rainey, an attorney who advises the CID. They already had a significant informal tie that may become more important, as Thad Ellis, a senior vice president at Cousins Properties, is both a Coalition member and the chair of the CID board. But the new arrangement brings a new and unusual inter-

connection beyond Durrett heading both organizations. The Coalition has long had two staff members who will stay on: executive vice president Garth Peters and research director Linda Muszynski-Compton. But now, according to Durrett, the CID’s three staff members have joined the Coalition payroll as well. They include financial and office manager Rebecca Stokes; Tony Peters, the director of capital projects and programs; and Matt Gore, the projects and programs manager. Stokes already does some work for Livable Buckhead as well. “Tony, Matt and Rebecca have become employees of the Buckhead Coalition who will be managing and administering the CID projects and programs under my leadership,” said Durrett. “Most of my salary is paid by the CID, and all of Tony’s and Matt’s salaries are paid by the CID. Rebecca is paid by CID, [Livable Buckhead] and a tiny bit by [the] Coalition, in proportion for [the] amount of work done,” he added. That staff merger raises questions about public accessibility to meetings and documents about local projects. The Georgia Attorney General’s Office has expressed the opinion that CIDs are subject to the state Open Meetings and Open Records acts, and the CID has generally operated that way. Those laws do not apply to private nonprofits like the Coalition. But what happens when longtime CID staffers suddenly become Coalition staffers, but still work on such projects? Durrett said that he would defer to Rainey on that question, but added the expected “the answer will be that Coalition meetings do not have to be and will not be open to the public and subject to the same requirements.” Rainey in an email emphasized that the two organizations are not merging and “will remain totally separate legal entities and each will continue to be governed by its own board. The Coalition remains a private organization.” But he did not respond to questions about the merger of the staff and whether their work will remain open to the public. David Huson, a media law attorney who sits on the board of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, said the Coalition may indeed fall under the laws in this unusual situation. “I do not know of any situation where a merger of that nature has been the subject of a court case,” he said. “However, there is a general presumption in the Open Records and Open Meetings acts that they apply broadly, and any exceptions should be decided narrowly. So unless the merged entity somehow still maintains separate meetings and separate records, the fact that the Buckhead Coalition is being operated in conjunction with the CID, I would argue that the records and meetings have to be public.” Like everything else at this early stage in the Coaliton’s changing future, it remains to be seen. BH


Community | 5

Juneteenth becomes official holiday for DeKalb and Fulton county governments Juneteenth, the annual June 19 observance of the end of slavery in the U.S., is now an official holiday for the DeKalb and Fulton county governments. The boards of commissioners in both counties approved adoption of the holiday in votes earlier this month. In both law and enforcement, the actual end of slavery took many years during and after the Civil War. Juneteenth is a grassroots holiday that marks the June 19, 1865 announcement by a U.S. Army general that slavery was abolished in the state of Texas. The adoption of the holiday by the county governments is a direct response to the nationwide protests and activism regarding racism, police brutality and social equity that followed the May police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. “I am honored and proud to represent the tradition of metro Atlanta and Fulton County leadership in the continuing fight for equity and justice for all residents,” said Fulton County Commissioner Joe Carn in a press release about his county’s July 8 approval of the holiday. “I believe that we are witnessing something that our ancestors

have been waiting and praying over for years.” The language of DeKalb’s Juneteenth resolution, adopted July 14, notes that “racism, discriminatinon and violence against African Americans have persisted in the United States and recent murders of African Americans have been captured on film.” It says that “recent events have led to broad-based opposition to racism, discrimination and senseless acts of violence such that the Governing Authority finds it is important to now honestly confront our sordid past and combat racism with acknowledgment of the often neglected but important history of these issues.” In Fulton County, Juneteenth will replace Columbus Day, which honors explorer and colonizer Christopher Columbus. The protests have renewed controversy about Columbus, who is traditionally celebrated as the “discoverer” of the Americas from the European point of view in 1492, but who was criticized in his own time and today for enslavement, brutality and other major abuses. Statues of Columbus have been damaged or removed in several cities during the ongoing protests.

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6 | Community ■

90-day closure for Northside Drive bridge replacement coming soon BY JOHN RUCH

there, the Georgia Department of Trans-

to Atlanta Memorial Park and the Bobby

portation has announced.

Jones Golf Course.

A 90-day closure of Northside Drive over Peachtree Creek will begin in early September for replacement of the bridge

The closure will affect the short sec-

However, the entire section of North-

tion of Northside between Wesley Drive

side Drive and Northside Parkway, which

and Peachtree Battle Avenue, adjacent

doubles as State Route 3, also will be

Alongside the roadway bridge will be another bridge serving pedestrians and carrying new water and sewer lines. The project is also raising the roadway 5 to 6 feet to better handle flooding.

closed to trucks and through traffic, re-

GDOT selected the 90-day continu-

maining open only to local traffic. That

ous closure with community input as the

local traffic will include visitors to the

fastest method. Alternatives with small

golf course and the Bitsy Grant Tennis

closures could have taken as long as nine


months, GDOT previously said.

Through-traffic will be detoured onto

“This 90-day plan is cost- and time-

I-75, with northbound traffic directed to

effective and will deliver this project to

the West Paces Ferry Road exit and south-

the community quicker and easier,” said

bound traffic to the Northside Drive exit.

Kathy Zahul, GDOT’s metro Atlanta dis-

The 90-day closure is just part of an

trict engineer, in a press release.

$18 million project that began last year

The Northside Drive closure is sched-

and is scheduled for completion in Au-

uled to begin Sept. 8. The exact date, as

gust 2021.

well as the exact length of the closure,

The main piece of work is replacing the current bridge, which dates to 1926

could be changed by weather and conditions discovered during construction.

and has cracks and other structural prob-

Closed between Wesley Drive and

lems. The new bridge will feature two

Peachtree Battle Avenue for an estimated

travel lanes, a left turn lane, a bike lane,

90 days, beginning in early September.

a shoulder and a sidewalk on the western

Currently scheduled for Sept. 8. Weather

side and a shoulder on the eastern side.

and conditions discovered during work

It will connect to the nearby Atlanta Belt-

could change the schedule.

Line multiuse trail.





Creek. two travel lanes, a left turn lane, a bike lane, a shoulder and a sidewalk on the western side and a shoulder on the eastern side. Detours onto I-75. Northside Drive and Northside Parkway between I-75 and West Paces Ferry Road will be closed to all trucks and open to local traffic only. That includes visitors to Bobby Jones Golf Course and Bitsy Grant Tennis Center

ing allowed. $18 million project. Current bridge dates to 1926. Also replaces weater aned

Sarah lives alone, is in treatment for breast cancer, and had to stop working due to the Pandemic.

sewer utility in the area and connects the pedestrian bridge to the Atlanta BeltLine. Scheduled for August 2021 compleetion of entire project. Will allow construction of the roadway bridge and the utility/pedestrian

With your support, JF&CS was able to help pay Sarah’s rent, put food on the table, and continue her medical treatments.

bridge. Will raise the existing roadway 5

But there are many more like Sarah who need our help. Because while we’ve provided more financial support and food than ever before, the need continues to grow.

cost- and time-effective and will deliv-

to 6 feet to better handle flooding.. Selected over an alternative that would have taken much longer. “This 90-day plan is er this projecct to the community quicker and easier,” said Kathy Zahul, GDOT’s metro Atlanta district engineer, in a press release. Was once estimated at up to nine

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months. PRoject

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Perimeter Business | 7

Perimeter Business

Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

Summer 2020 | Navigating the pandemic

Restaurants navigating pandemic guidelines stick to one big rule: building customer trust BY JOHN RUCH

Like most restaurants, Ray’s on the River, a fine-dining bastion in Sandy Springs for over 35 years, has been sharply focused on all the safety rules and guidelines it must follow to operate in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. When Ray’s learned on June 3 that an employee tested positive for asymptomatic COVID-19, the restaurant began a required deep-cleaning -- but also did something big it didn’t have to do. It went on Facebook and told the world about the COVID case. “I think the public is entitled to know what goes on and be [made] aware of it,” said Ray Schoenbaum, the restaurant’s founder and operator of two other Ray’s locations, about that decision. “We owe it to them as a service organization to do what’s right. And, you know, it’s something we all should do and be honest about it, and tell them that we’re doing everything we can to make sure that it doesn’t pass on.” Customers who assume that restaurants and other businesses must notify them about positive COVID cases are in for a surprise. The pandemic precautions Georgia restaurants operate under are largely unenforceable guidelines that it appears inspectors are not proactively double-checking, and which do not include public notice of cases. For restaurant owners, that means navigating an ever-shifting sea of suggestions and rules for avoiding a devastating outbreak. Beyond the basics of cleaning and distancing, the biggest practical rule is adapting quickly to maintain customer trust and confidence. “I’ve been practicing law now for 39 years and this has been the most unique set of circumstances I’ve worked at because the law is unclear” and new ones are still in the works, said Rick Warren, a labor and employment attorney at the Atlanta office of FordHarrison who specializes in the restaurant industry. Rules like social distancing are easy enough to figure out, Warren and some restaurant owners say. But applying bigger issues, like legal liability for COVID infections, to a particular business can be a complex puzzle. And the answer can lie somewhere between what businesses can do and what they might want to do for better customer and employee relations.

Warren said that, under a new shield law passed by the Georgia General Assembly poised to take effect by Aug. 7, it is highly unlikely that a customer could prove and win a liability case for a COVID-19 infection against a business that is making good-faith efforts to follow safety rules. But, Warren said, businesses still need to consider whether they want to cover their bets by posting a sign at the door warning customers that they enter at their own risk. “I’m not sure the posting in itself gives you any more protection than the law does without posting the notice,” said Warren. “But as a prophylactic measure, I think you’re going to see businesses putting the signs up because… it will dissuade the public from filing frivolous claims.” But at McKendrick’s Steak House in Dunwoody, another fine-dining mainstay, such signs have already come and gone. “We did that initially,” said Carol Conway, the restaurant’s general manager. “We’ve taken those signs down. We feel that’s intrusive.” Instead, she said, the restaurant focused on following federal and state public health guidelines so that there is no pandemic problem to worry about. The sorts of signs she is interested in posting are those issued by the state’s “Georgia Safety Promise” campaign, where businesses can publicize themselves as following basic COVID-fighting rules. The most complex decision of all comes when a COVID diagnosis rears its ugly head. For every restaurant that chooses to publicize a positive test on Facebook, it seems, more are dealing with COVID-19 behind the scenes. Warren said there’s a clear trend in the questions he is hearing from his clients: “A lot of calls about positive COVID-19 tests. Someone has come in and they have tested positive. What do we need to do? What is the extent of what we need to do? How long do we have to do it?”

Shifting rules

Georgia restaurants currently operate under non-mandatory guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration. They also have been following 35 mandatory rules under an emergency executive order from Gov. Brian Kemp, the latest version of which was set to expire July 31 as

Ray Schoenbaum gets his temperature checked at his Ray’s on the River restaurant in Sandy Springs.

the Reporter went to press, but which Warren said is likely to be extended and tweaked as long as the pandemic continues. The governor’s rules cover such topics as cleanliness, social distancing and employee screening. At Ray’s and McKendrick’s, the guide-


lines and rules haven’t been hard to understand and follow, according to Schoenbaum and Conway. For example, Conway said, while Kemp’s orders have shifted from restricting dining room occupancy Continued on page 8

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8 | Perimeter Business ■

Restaurants navigate pandemic guidelines Continued from page 7 by square-footage to basic social distancing, the solution at McKendrick’s was similar and simple: “We seat every other table.” For customers who wonder whether a restaurant or other business is really following all the procedures, however, there is little to go on besides word of mouth and their own experience. Warren said he has not heard of any proactive inspections of restaurants for pandemicprecaution compliance and expects that they would be driven by customer complaints if they happen. Schoenbaum said he hasn’t seen inspectors, either, and has noticed some breaches when he has dined at other spots. “I think the government people are all busy trying to figure out stuff that they haven’t figured out yet. They don’t want to start arguments with the restaurants,” said Schoenbaum. “I’ve been to several restaurants that are definitely not in [compliance with] code.” Violating the governor’s order is officially a criminal misdemeanor, Warren noted, and he said businesses have plenty of motivation to stick to the rules because of the devastation a shutdown could bring as they struggle to survive the pandemic economy. But the flip side of no government inspections is little government help

in interpreting those rules. Warren said about a COVID-positive coworker, some theoretically some state official could anmight do so for a “philosophical, moral, swer questions, but when they are “overemployee-relations reason.” whelmed and understaffed and people are A similar reasoning is followed by the working remotely, good luck.” restaurants that choose to inform the Warren is advispublic. ing clients on dealing “Keeping a secret’s with COVID-positive just going to get you employees, which varin trouble, because ies widely depending somebody’s going to on the type of busireport,” said Schoenness and the situabaum. “Somebody in tion. At least for now, the kitchen’s going there is no mandate to say something to for notifying anyone somebody. It can get about such cases, he back to you.” said, while CDC guideThe PURE Talines recommended queria restaurant in informing coworkers Brookhaven gained SPECIAL some who may have been online supAttorney Rick Warren. exposed -- a definiport after a June 16 tion that requires inFacebook announceterpretation. Then there are wrinkles, like ment that two employees had tested poslegal prohibitions on disclosing medical itive. Some commenters replied that they information, and in Georgia, the possibilweren’t surprised, saying they had avoidity that a Department of Public Health ofed the restaurant due to lack of social disficial likely can compel notification of othtancing and employees wearing masks ers for contact-tracing or other purposes. incorrectly or not at all. When PURE -“There is substantial flexibility in what which did not respond to a comment reemployers choose to do in terms of notifyquest -- reopened eight days later, it aning the workforce and notifying the pubnounced new training and CDC guideline lic of a positive test result,” said Warren. compliance as well, writing on Facebook, He added that, while businesses have no “We’re sorry and we can do better.” That obligation to tell non-exposed employees drew praise from at least one of the com-

menters who had expressed concern. Customers have a big say in how businesses work, and as they act as their own safety watchdogs, they may want some tighter rules than the government requires. At McKendrick’s, Conway said, some customers ask for even more distancing -- even individual family members sitting apart -- and the restaurant is happy to help. “Even the most gung-ho and cavalier of all of this, they’re skittish among us,” she said, describing a “day-to-day adjustment” of how to meet customer demand. Schoenbaum said that when he dines out, he personally doesn’t care about more elaborate precautions. “As long as I got my mask on, I feel OK,” he said. “I listen to Fox, not CNN, OK?” But for his customers at Ray’s, Schoenbaum said, he goes well beyond the guidelines. All the way back in March, at the beginning of the pandemic, he installed virus-killing ultraviolet lights in the air conditioning system in response to the possibility of the disease spreading in circulated air, a factor that got little attention at the time but is better appreciated now. “That’s one of the things we did over and above that we didn’t have to do…,” said Schoenbaum. “We owe it to [customers] to do absolutely everything we can to make them feel comfortable.”


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A local lab joins the COVID-19 battle BY JOHN RUCH

Ipsum Diagnostics began 2020 with its routine business of checking samples for dermatologists, neurologists and other medical practices. But it also heard about a novel coronavirus beginning a global spread. Now the rapidly growing Sandy Springs laboratory is dedicated to the COVID-19 battle, cranking through as many as 7,000 tests a day on behalf of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “It’s really important to everyone here,” says Lauren Bricks, Ipsum’s co-founder and chief operating officer, who grew up in Sandy Springs. “You can see it. You can feel it. It’s really amazing how everyone has really stepped up.” Bricks is a graduate of the school now called Riverwood International Charter School. She had a previous career in medical research, including biodefense on behalf of the Army and Navy, and setting up labs for various medical practices and companies. In 2011, she returned to Sandy Springs, where she now lives with husband Peter, an attorney, in the house where she grew up. In 2016, she co-founded Ipsum with Colin Rogers, who was the national sales director at her previous job. The plan was to go into the lab business for themselves, with their own specialty tests and protocols. A core of their medical diagnostic work is polymerase chain reaction, a technique for quickly identifying pathogens by amplifying a small amount of their DNA or RNA genetic material. Ipsum -- the name means “accuracy” or “precision” in Latin -- operates at 8607 Roberts Drive, a Sandy Springs location chosen so that the Bricks could stay settled in their hometown. Amid the normal lab work, Ipsum in late 2019 learned about the coronavirus. “We heard about it just like everyone else, in the news,” said Bricks. They also knew “that it was better to get in front of it.” She recalled that by early February, the staff was saying, “We don’t’ know what it’s going to look like in the United States. But we’re going to go ahead, as soon as we have the genetic sequences [of the coronavirus], we’re going to start the development work.” Bricks said Ispum knew it was ideally suited to help on the testing front of the pandemic battle. “We already had the whole infrastructure in place,” she said. “We had the right equipment. We had the right technology… We already had the safety measures in place to work with these types of specimens.” Foreseeing that supplies would become scarce for standard tests, Ipsum developed its own, which gained emergency authorization from the U.S. Food SPECIAL Lauren Bricks, COO and and Drug Administration effective April 1. co-founder of Ipsum Diagnostics. What they didn’t foresee was the immense demand. The company, now at about 100 employees, had good timing in that it was already planning a 10,000-square-foot expansion. “When you think about the demand just surging overnight, and you think about any business that is producing something -- take shoes, for example, and one day you’re making 5,000 pairs of shoes and the next day you’re being asked to do 20,000 pairs of shoes. A laboratory’s no different,” Bricks said. As of late July, Ipsum had processed between 250,000 and 300,000 COVID-19 tests, Bricks said. Accuracy of COVID-19 tests has been a topic in the local and national news, with some patients seeing false positive or false negative results, and others frustrated by “inconclusive” results. Bricks said that designing and refining controls for accurate results is basic to all diagnostics, but that the COVID-19 mass testing has some unusual challenges. For example, it was not normal practice before the pandemic to collect a specimen from someone sitting in their car in a parking lot -- a less than ideal environment. Among the techniques Ipsum uses is also checking the amount of human genetic material in the sample; if there is not enough evidence of the patient themselves, then there probably isn’t enough material to confirm a COVID result, either. The vast quantity of tests is providing Ipsum with large amounts of data to refine the testing models, she said. Ipsum is dedicated to COVID testing now, with its normal business virtually nonexistent due to the pandemic reduction in elective medical visits. Bricks declined to discuss the financial impacts on Ipsum, but said it is a time of unusual collaboration among labs, including on proprietary matters like test designs and protocols. “Yeah, of course in a normal, non-pandemic world, you are very protective of that,” Bricks said of such information, but Ipsum has shared its protocols with two other labs and brought technicians in to train them. “No lab can absorb the entire capacity that’s needed,” she said. Ipsum has to do all that work while following the same safety guidelines as any other business, including social distancing and daily testing of anyone who enters the building. While spreading COVID-19 is a public health problem anywhere, quarantines and cleanup shutdowns would be especially devastating at a diagnostic lab. “If we have COVID here, it impacts everybody outside these walls because of the volume [of testing] we’re doing for the state,” said Bricks. For the lab staff, it means tremendous pressure and stress, said Bricks, but also a dedication to the mission. “It’s inspiring,” she said.

Perimeter Business | 9



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Picture the Dream celebrates the story of the civil rights movement, told through the art of children’s picture books. The first exhibition of its kind, this show will take viewers by the hand to walk them through the power and relevance of an era that shaped American history and continues to reverberate today. This exhibition is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Massachusetts. Major funding for this exhibition is provided by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation and the Rich Foundation, Inc. PREMIER EXHIBITION SERIES SUPPORTERS The Antinori Foundation Sarah and Jim Kennedy Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot


CONTRIBUTING EXHIBITION SERIES SUPPORTERS Lucinda W. Bunnen Marcia and John Donnell W. Daniel Ebersole AMBASSADOR EXHIBITION and Sarah Eby-Ebersole SERIES SUPPORTERS Peggy Foreman Tom and Susan Wardell Robin and Hilton Howell Rod and Kelly Westmoreland Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones Joel Knox and Joan Marmo Margot and Danny McCaul The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust 2020 GRANDPARENTS CIRCLE OF SUPPORT Spring and Tom Asher, Anne Cox Chambers, Ann and Tom Cousins, Sandra and John Glover, Shearon and Taylor Glover, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, and Jane and Hicks Lanier GENEROUS SUPPORT IS ALSO PROVIDED BY Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund



Jerry Pinkney (American, born 1939), illustration for A Place to Land by Barry Wittenstein, 2019, collection of the artist. © 2019 Jerry Pinkney.

10 | Perimeter Business ■

More than 1,400 large Paycheck Protection loans given to Perimeter area businesses head received a loan between $150,000 and $350,000 for its 20 employees on payBY BOB PEPALIS


Perimeter Center, Buckhead and cities of Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs received loans between $150,000 and $5 million. The U.S. Small Business Administration did not release specific loan amounts, but instead labeled each organization with a range of value for the loans. Nonprofit organizations took advantage of the PPP, including universities, churches, senior living facilities and private schools. Brookhaven’s Oglethorpe University, which switched to remote learning at the end of the spring semester due to the pandemic, received a loan between $2 million and $5 million. The loan was to protect 341 jobs. In Brookhaven, the Lenbrook Square Foundation accepted a loan between $2 million and $5 million. The organization operates a continuing care facility that served an average of 487 residents according to its latest filing with the Internal Revenue Service. The loan was to protect 260 jobs. TekStream Solutions, a Sandy Springs business, received a loan between $5 million and $10 million to protect 239 jobs for the company, which helps clients with technical expertise and staffing solutions. The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, based in Dunwoody, asked for a loan that fell between $2 million and $5 million for payroll for its 491 employees. Even healthcare organizations needed PPP funds, with Visiting Nurse Health Systems of Sandy Springs receiving a loan between $2 million and $5 million for payroll of 355 employees. Consumer guru Clark Howard’s corporation on West Paces Ferry Road in Buck-

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School on Mount Vernon Highway in Sandy Springs got a loan in the range of $2 million to $5 million to protect its 337 employees on payroll. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King in Buckhead received a loan from $1 million to $2 million to protect the payroll for its 144 employees. The neighboring Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip received a loan in the range of $350,000 to $1 million for its 69 employees on payroll. The Galloway School in Buckhead got a loan in the range of $2 million to $5 million for its 160 employees, while Atlanta Jewish Academy in Sandy Springs applied for $1 million to $2 million to protect the payroll for its 118 workers. Buckhead-headquartered businesses Hennessy Cadillac and La Cima Restaurants both received loans valued between $5 million and $10 million to protect their payrolls of 500 workers. La Cima is one of many restaurant-owning or -franchising companies that sought loans to keep employees after suffering closures and limited service with takeout and delivery services only for several months. Many hospitals put elective surgery put on hold or extremely limited them. Clinics and physicians’ offices encouraged patients to stay away from their offices if all possible, and definitely if they had coronavirus symptoms. That meant less revenue generated from fewer patient visits. Practices like the Interventional Spine and Pain Management Center on Peachtree Road in Buckhead sought PPP loans to support their payroll, in that case with a loan between $5 million and $10 million for 414 employees. Springs Publishing, the Reporter’s Sandy Springs-based parent company, also received a PPP loan in the $150,000 to $350,000 category.





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Community | 11

Buckhead CID security patrol begins; Ga. 400 paving coming in August BBQ CALI GARDEN BREAKFAST

gust, according to Peters. The Georgia


of Transportation did not immedi-

Summer menu

ately confirm that schedule. That


of the highway is about 6.3 miles and


has some rough stretches of pave-


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The security patrol car as shown earlier this year, prior to its launch, in a Buckhead Community Improvement District presentation.



ing Company on a contract fee of


an expected completion around Aug.

Buckhead Community Improvement

9. About three weeks of installing new

District began operations July 14 in the

stripes on the pavement would follow.

400 -- that were discussed by the CID’s board at a July 22 meeting.

The work is being done overnight,

Express bus planning The CID and the alternative commuting nonprofit Livable Buckhead are

style vehicle stationed at Buckhead’s

seeking grant funding to study possi-

Zone 2 precinct and driven by an off-

ble express bus service between Cobb

duty APD officer. It operates Tuesday

County and the neighborhood’s busi-

through Sunday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

ness district.

According to CID staff member Tony

Such service is a priority of the

Peters, the patrol in its early weeks had

Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods in

performed some basic functions like

its advocacy for reduced cut-through

traffic stops and assisting with stalled

traffic on residential streets.

ports of water-sellers in the street.

CID Executive Director Jim Durrett said a preliminary study suggests that

Peters said the patrol is also visit-

the buses could run on I-75, I-85 and Ga.

ing “hot spots,” which he identified as

400, using the Lenox Road exit and en-

gas stations at Pharr Road’s intersec-

trance. He said the groups recently filed

tions with Piedmont Road and Grand-

a grant application with the Atlanta-

view Avenue.

Region Transit Link Authority to seek

Major repavings A repaving of Ga. 400 between I-85 and I-285, previously planned for July, is now scheduled for mid- to late Au-

Monday-Friday 7am-8pm | Saturday 8am-8pm | Sunday 9am-6pm

Peters said.

The security patrol uses a police-

vehicles, as well as responding to re-


Road between Roswell Road and the Brookhaven border is underway with

cluding a rescheduled repaving of Ga.


Meanwhile, repaving of Peachtree

A security patrol jointly operated by

That was one of several efforts -- in-

Westside Village 2260 Marietta Blvd NW


the Atlanta Police Department and the

central business and shopping area.

Sandy Springs

funding with the ultimate goal of having such service added to the metro region’s master transit plan.

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12 | Education ■

Atlanta Public Schools plans delayed, possible virtual-only start with the purchase of 3 Bundtlets

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BY COLLIN KELLEY Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring presented her plan for a virtual start to the new school year to the Board of Education at a special called meeting on July 13. The school board also held a first reading of Herring’s proposal to move opening day from Aug. 10 to Aug. 24. The board was scheduled to take an official vote Aug. 3. Board Chair Jason Esteves said there was always the possibility that COVID-19 numbers could decrease and APS could switch to an in-person or hybrid model. He said Herring’s reopening plan allows for a quick transition. “The move to Aug. 24 for opening day is to give teachers and staff time to prepare for virtual learning,” Esteves said. Esteves said the board would not be voting on the reopening plan itself as that is the purview of the superintendent. If COVID-19 numbers don’t show a decrease, the first nine weeks of the school year would be held virtually. With a surge in COVID-19 cases, the decision to continue online learning until at least mid-October was always in the cards as the district has been following public health data. According to the document posted by APS, the district “will implement a virtual instruction model for students where they remain enrolled at and receive instruction from teachers at their school. While similar to last spring, the model offers key improvements focused on greater connections, engagement and best practices for distance learning.” APS said it will make sure all students and staff have internet access and computers, while the meal delivery program to in-need students and families is set to restart as well.

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Community | 13

Buckhead cityhood talk reappears; business leaders condemn it Continued from page 1 tential result. “This crops up in direct connection with big spikes with crime,” said Shook, adding that now concern about “not just crime, but law and order, is at an unprecedented level, so it is angst and fear and anxiety, and people are curious as to whether the city of Buckhead is a viable answer.” “Don’t think I don’t think about it,” Shook said of cityhood, but added that it’s far from simple. “People think, ‘OK, well, we’ll set up our city. There’ll be no taxes and cops will get cats out of trees.’ Well, not really.” The Buckhead Coalition, an invitationonly group of business and civic leaders, issued a statement opposing separate cityhood that was supported by three other closely linked business organizations. “The Buckhead Coalition has historically opposed the incorporation of Buckhead into a separate city, and the Coalition leadership would like at this time to reaffirm that stance,” the statement said. “Our partnering organizations — the Buckhead Community Improvement District, Livable Buckhead and Buckhead Business Association — share this vision. Now, as much as at any time in our history, we believe Atlantans need to come together across racial, geographic and economic differences to find common ground and build a more unified community.” The Coalition’s new president is Jim Durrett, who also heads the Buckhead CID. In his debut “State of Buckhead” address to the BBA July 16, he again criticized cityhood. “I just believe with all my heart that you’re much off building trust and using those trusting relationships to identify and acknowledge real problems and concerns, and then coming up with a way to address those concerns,” Durrett said. “That’s the best way to do anything rather than saying, “I’m taking my toys and I’m going home.’ No. That’s not the way to do it.” Durrett took over the Coalition presidency last month from former Atlanta mayor Sam Massell, who also long opposed Buckhead cityhood, even while promoting the neighborhood with such distinctions as a local flag. “I think it’s a mistake for Atlanta, and what’s a mistake for Atlanta is a mistake for Buckhead,” said Massell in a phone interview about the latest cityhood talk. “… Less government is better government, in my opinion, and creating another one here won’t correct anything. We have one of the most successful, sought-after addresses in the United States, and why try to fix it if it ain’t broken?” The press office of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms did not respond to a comment request. Neither did Mary Norwood, Bottoms’ former mayoral race foe, who now heads the Buckhead Council of NeighborBH

hoods. Norwood said last year that if residents raised the cityhood issue, she would neither “lead the charge” nor oppose them. Shook and fellow Buckhead-area City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit said they recently met with Bottoms. They would not say much about the content of the discussion, with Matzigkeit saying it focused on “how we address crime and improve police morale.” “I support citizens’ rights to determine how they are governed; this is fundamental to the founding of America,” said Matzigkeit in a text message about the cityhood rumblings. But, he added, the process would be “a long and difficult path” and he is focused on priorities in his district.

A history of cityhood talks

Buckhead has long stood out in Atlanta. It’s a majority-White and politically conservative enclave in a majority-Black and Democratic city. It’s also fantastically wealthy, with a major business district, internationally known shopping centers and residential real estate that anchor Atlanta’s tax base as well as illustrates its income inequality. The racial, economic and political differences, some historians say, date back to Jim Crow-era segregation; the neighborhood was annexed into the city in

1952 in part to keep the voting rolls majority-White. Those differences have led to repeated cityhood talk over the years, largely cast as concerns that taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth. “It’s an old topic, been around for as long as I’ve been here,” said Shook. The most recent serious discussions followed the landmark 2005 incorporation of the neighboring city of Sandy Springs. In 2008, the now-defunct Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation hosted a Buckhead cityhood meeting that drew more than 200 attendees — including state legislators who poured cold water on the idea. A decade later, local rumblings revived as residents of a country club neighborhood in the Henry County city of Stockbridge attempted to secede as a new city called Eagle’s Landing. The Eagle’s Landing move triggered a debate about race, class and economic impacts that drew national media attention before the cityhood proposal failed at the polls. Last year, local Nextdoor feeds were abuzz with a related idea: Buckhead being annexed into Sandy Springs. The idea drew little official enthusiasm. Shook said that he has heard about the latest cityhood talk from various resi-

dents and that two groups may be forming to hold more organized discussions, but no one involved has contacted him directly. “It’s organic. It’s residents. It’s ad hoc,” he said. The new cityhood rumbling comes amid the ongoing upheaval of protests against racism and police brutality that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in May, with further local unrest fueled by the Atlanta Police killing of Rayshard Brooks in Peoplestown in June. Many protests have come to Buckhead, with organizers sometimes citing the local demographics as a reason. In the wake of the protests, the Buckhead CID previously issued a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The statement from the Buckhead Coalition on behalf of the CID, Livable Buckhead and the business association focused on unity rather than separatism. “The Buckhead Coalition is committed to working with city government to ensure that the businesses and residents of our city are supported with the necessary municipal services and to build a more cohesive, equitable, safe, and prosperous city for all,” the statement said.

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14 | Community ■

City plans carrot-and-stick approach on water sellers Continued from page 1

nonprofit Buckhead Coalition, Durrett

selling water illegally in the streets of

ing factor is these are juveniles,” Dur-

Durrett of the Buckhead Coalition and

recently also spoke about the water-sell-

Atlanta, how that is not classified as il-

rett replied. “If they were adults do-

ers, emphasizing police crackdowns, in

legal behavior,” said Ames. “It is a mat-

ing this, then I don’t think there would

a Buckhead Business Association meet-

ter of time before someone is killed, ei-

be a problem. The problem is the sys-

ing. That got pushback from some at-

ther by people being hit, one of these

tem within which the juveniles are pro-

tendees, who objected to the frequently

kids shooting someone, or a passerby

cessed is just spitting them back out

used term “water boys” for the youths

in a car who’s carrying a weapon firing

again. It’s a fundamental, systemic

— many of them people of color — as

upon them. It is unacceptable this con-

problem that is going to take other peo-

derogatory and called for effective, al-

tinues … and to say it’s not criminal for

ple, wiser than I, to come up [with a so-

ternative entrepreneurship programs.

them to be doing this in the middle of

lution for].”

In that meeting, Durrett supported

the road, it’s unacceptable.”

Buckhead Community Improvement District, previously indicated the recommendations will mix a crackdown on criminal behavior with opportunities for entrepreneurship. At a July 22 meeting of the CID board, prioritization of the issue members was clear. “I honestly feel like this is the most critical issue facing Buckhead right now,” said Robin Suggs, the general manager of the Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls. The re-selling of bottled water on the streets has become a booming business across the city, including on such major Buckhead thoroughfares as Peachtree, Piedmont and Lenox roads. The trend also has become controversial for being an unlicensed business conducted within busy streets, and for sales tactics that may be aggressive or criminal. Citywide, Durrett said at the CID meeting, there is concern some youths are “selling other things, not just water,” being “rude,” and making people “feel very uncomfortable and very unsafe.” Some passers-by are “accosted,” and some sellers have “brandished” firearms and fired at each other in disputes over sales spots, he said. The Atlanta Police Department recently announced the arrests of two juvenile water-sellers in Buckhead on firearms possession and other charges. In his other role as president of the

such programs conceptually and noted “institutional racism” as a factor.

The aspect of alternative programs

“We are definitely hearing from

was highlighted by several attendees

many hundreds, if not more, in the

at the “State of Buckhead” address.

The Mayor’s Office press release re-

community” about water-sellers, said

Mary Norwood, chair of the Buckhead

ferred to both police crackdowns and

CID board chair Thad Ellis, who is a

Council of Neighborhoods, said the city

economic opportunities.

senior vice president at the real estate

should offer a profitable program akin

company Cousins Properties.

to a “healthy allowance,” not “just going

“Water sales and purchases put the safety of both youth and motorists at

But what constitutes a problem and

risk. APD is dedicating an increased re-

a solution may be sources of friction.

to a park and playing basketball.” Durrett supported the idea of such

sponse to areas of heightened concern

The water-selling phenomenon “isn’t

programs but said they need to be care-

and will not allow dangerous activity

cut and dried. It’s complex,” Durrett

fully designed to be successful, and

of any kind — including running out in


echoed some of the sentiment of a re-

the street,” the press release said, while

When arrests do happen, Durrett

adding, “The Atlanta Police Depart-

complained, the Fulton County juvenile

ment, community advocates and sup-

court system is “not cooperating” with

“We also want to keep in mind that

port groups are engaging youth who

detention. A Fulton County spokesper-

we are working on this in an environ-

are selling water on Atlanta streets to

son did not respond to questions about

ment of a terrible virus and in an envi-

direct them to safer and more benefi-

APD allegations that the teenage water-

ronment where people are waking up to

cial opportunities.”

sellers recently arrested in Buckhead

the reality that institutional racism has

were rejected by county juvenile intake

affected millions and millions of peo-


ple and we need to do something about

Some board members of the CID, a self-taxing group of major commercial

cent CID statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

property owners, expressed concern

Ellis aimed to simplify the situation,

that,” Durrett said. “So there is abso-

about the water-sellers. Herbert Ames,

noting that many water-sellers lack

lutely a delicate balance to walk to be

the CID treasurer and senior vice presi-

business licenses like those needed by

effective, to be helpful, to these young

dent in the Southeast for the retail real

typical street vendors. “To me, that is

men, but also to respect the folks that

estate company EDENS, was skeptical

so simple, just starting there, and that’s

are being adversely impacted when this

of anything short of a crackdown.

not enforced,” he said.

behavior becomes dangerous.”

“I would love any clarification on

“I really do think the complicat-

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Community | 15

Chattahoochee River proposal calls for 100-mile trail, local connections BY BOB PEPALIS A group of public and private organizations have proposed creating a 100-mile continuous public space along the Chattahoochee River from Buford Dam to Chattahoochee Bend State Park, traveling through seven counties and connecting 19 cities including Sandy Springs and Buckhead with public trails, parks and related amenities. The Trust for Public Land took the lead in the Chattahoochee RiverLands project, which the study said would create an uninterrupted public trail that would have up to 44 tributary trails linking cities and neighborhoods to the river from 25 trailheads. More than 100 miles of water trails could be reached from 43 water access points according to the proposal, released on July 20. The study can be downloaded at RiverLands proposals directly affect the Sandy Springs/Buckhead area, where the plan proposes trail connections and tributary trails. RiverLands would install pedestrian bridges near Roswell Road linking Sandy Springs to the main trail and Roswell’s Riverside Park. Another pedestrian bridge at Morgan Falls Overlook Park would connect it to Hyde Farm, linking the city to the trail in Cobb County. A Bull Sluice Lake kayak launch and Morgan Falls boat ramp would be two of the 43 water access points along the RiverLands trail. One of the proposed tributary trails would provide access to Sandy Springs and the North Springs MARTA Station and possibly to the planned PATH400 trail extension there. Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Riverwood International Charter School and Heards Ferry Elementary School would be some of the schools linked to the main trail via a tributary that would parallel I-285 and cross the river at Powers Ferry Bridge. The Trust for Public Land has done a good job preserving 18,000 acres of land and 80 miles of riverfront, said George Dusenbury, its executive director. But the organization realized its mission is to preserve land and to build parks. He said it has done a good job preserving land, but really “not done as good a job giving people access to the river.” To make the Chattahoochee River metro Atlanta’s public space, he said, it brought together the cities, counties, state and federal agencies and dozens of nonprofits working toward that common goal. Dusenbury said preliminary estimates of the cost to complete everything proposed for the RiverLands would be between $500 million and $750 million, with the project taking 20 to 25 years to complete. The Great American Outdoors Act passed by Congress on July 23 and expected to be signed by President Trump into law would double the amount of funds available for parkland, he said, which is promising for RiverLands. Cities have begun to develop their own trails that could be part of the RiverLands trail or tributary trails connecting their communities to it. BH

Johns Creek received tentative approval for a $3 million grant in February for its 200-acre Cauley Creek Park on the Chattahoochee River between Abbotts Bridge Chattahoochee River NRA and National Park Service land, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported. The Trust for Public Land is a finalist for a $2.26 million grant for a 48-mile long camp and paddle trail on the river, Dusenbury said. The three rustic campsites planned within the Chattahoochee NRA boundary will enable multi-day paddling trips. Both Johns Creek and the Trust for Public Land need to meet environmental, project and budget reviews in the second level of applications before they can receive the grants. They will have 24 months after approval of their applications to complete their projects. Dusenbury said the Trust for Public Land previously raised $50 million for its Chattahoochee River land conservation work. In 2021 they plan to launch a campaign to raise a similar amount of money for the Chattahoochee RiverLands project. The Atlanta Regional Commission, the city of Atlanta and Cobb County were other major partners in the Chattahoochee RiverLands Greenway Study. The Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy served as a minor partner in the study, Phillip Hodges, its board president, said. Hodges said the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area covers 48 miles of the 100 miles of trails proposed. “And the idea is to have this, something people refer to it as a multimodal path for walking and bicycling,” he said. “You could access it from many points, and it has side trails to points of interest.” The proposal tries to follow the river core as closely as possibly, “but as you would guess, that’s very difficult because of different landholders,” Hodges said. At some sections the trail can come down to the river, but in other places it goes around some properties. Three demonstration sites are proposed to create a clearer picture of what the entire project would look like. “They are very sensitive to the ecological impact or the environmental impact,” Hodges said. “Of course, there are laws and regulations on the book, such as the Metropolitan River Protection Act. Rules and regulations will have to be followed.” It all would be subject to U.S. National Park Service approval as well, he said. To that end, Dusenbury said the Riverlands proposal does not state there will be a concrete trail. That question was left open. The design is to have the trail support bicycles and walking, but it doesn’t have to be concrete. The demonstration projects should be completed in three to five years and a pilot project in Cobb County that’s already heading into the design phase will show local residents, public and private organizations what the features would look like. RiverLands branding should be seen by visitors within five years also, Dusenbury said.

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16 | Commentary

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Commentary: Proactive voices, remembering history are keys to peace and racial justice As the residents of suburParticularly, we should be ban Atlanta look at the curmore proactive and less reacrent uproar over racial justive. There are a number of tice issues here in Georgia’s adages that seem fitting here, capital city, we should not such as “a stitch in time saves think that it is just an Atlanta nine,” or the statement made problem. We must remember, by the philosopher and essaywhether it’s brutality, racism ist George Santayana, who or systemic discrimination, penned the well-paraphrased every locale has the same phrase “those who cannot problems or issues — it’s just remember the past are conhow many zeros you put bedemned to repeat it.” hind the statistic. On the stitch: Perhaps we SPECIAL We who call Buckhead, should create a BrookhavJohn J. Funny is the owner of Dunwoody, Sandy Springs an international planning en commission on race relaand my city of Brookhaven and engineering firm based tions. A body like this would home have a responsibility be proactive. It could be comin Atlanta and serves as to play a role in making for “a vice chair of the Brookhaven posed of members of all dePlanning Commission. more perfect union.” Now is mographics in Brookhavnot the time to remain silent, en. Brookhaven has a good or only post or talk about in55,000 residents. White persignificant matters. We must sons make up 63%, 11% are stand up for what is right, but we must do African American, and 28% are Latino. A it strategically and peacefully. Doing the commission could serve as the catalyst right thing is always the right thing to do. and conduit for dialogue on critical issues We recently lost three civil rights giamong these diverse groups, especially on ants: the Reverends Joseph E. Lowery and the sensitive issues we often shy away from C. T. Vivian and Congressman John R. Lewand prefer to avoid — equity, equality, race, is. These three civil rights giants were key gender and more. advisors of the Reverend Martin Luther On remembering our past: We should King Jr. They organized pivotal campaigns contemplate securing federal and state and spent decades advocating for justice historic designations for our neighborand equality. I personally knew Rep. Lewhoods that were a part of our history. For is. I supported and embraced his mission example, if we look at Brookhaven’s culto protect human rights, secure civil libtural past, back when it was part of what erties and the building of what Dr. King was called “North Atlanta,” we find that called “The Beloved Community.” We must this was home to many prominent pockets continue the hard work of these men — inand “Subs” (subdivisions) of African Amerdeed, their legacy — so that we may fully icans. realize “life, liberty and the pursuit of hapTake the historic Lynwood Park compiness,” for all Americans, especially in the munity. As journalist Peter Scott wrote for city of Brookhaven. this publication two years ago, “at the time

(in the 1950s), Lynwood Park claimed more than 1,000 residents and was known as DeKalb County’s oldest all-black community.” But unless you look deep and hard, you might never know because so much of the remnants of communities like Lynwood Park have been eradicated for new development. Preserving neighborhoods and historic cemeteries and churches will provide a physical sense to help all of us remember the past while providing context about the evolution of our cities. I know from personal experience the pain of losing a loved one at the hands of law enforcement. In 1984, while attending South Carolina State University, I had to digest the loss of a brother whose life was taken by sheriff deputies in Newberry, S.C. This was a tragic experience for me, my siblings and my entire family. We will never understand why certain people feel it is their right to take the life of innocent individuals, more specifically, African Americans. So, each time this happens, it reopens a wound for every member of my family. While my family and I have not had an open discussion with many of our friends and associates about my brother’s killing, we do have a complete understanding of the larger community’s anger and pain. But I know that if we remember and learn from the past while having honest open discussions (led by, say, a race-relations commission) perhaps no one in Brookhaven or the ’burbs we call “North Atlanta” will ever have to face what my family and I did 36 years ago. It may seem simplistic to create a commission, or to remember our history. But sometimes it is the simple things that make the most sense and can have the greatest impact.

Sandy Springs’ founding wasn’t racist; dialogue calls are divisive Recent articles and emails have given me a sincere concern. Our city of Sandy Springs is described as having been formed on the basis of racism and that we are still guilty of “systemic racism.” My purpose in writing this commentary is to state very affirmatively that the accusations are not true. No defense is required for the many volunteers who worked so diligently, for so long, to found this city. The organizers were entirely focused on providing a better future for our citizens. Surveys told us that the number one concern of the residents was zoning. Not zoning against minorities (who comprised 28% of the population at the time of incorporation), but protection against the county’s drive to increase the level of rental properties. The county commission had set an upper limit of 40% rentals, but had let it move up to 52%. We were aware that property owners are more involved in the community. They vote at a higher rate and show more concern about the maintenance and growth of the city. The county’s game plan seemed to be “build anything in Sandy Springs, but take their taxes to spend elsewhere.” Never in the years that I served on the Organizing Committee was race discussed.

My service included chairsian collusion, amplified by man of the Charter Commisthe media, led to three years sion, chairman of the Goverof divisiveness in our country. nor’s Commission on Sandy To open a fishing expedition in Springs, and unpaid interim Sandy Springs about racism, city manager. To claim that where no real evidence of that our volunteer work was racracism exists, invites divisiveist in nature besmirches the ness in our community. We do reputations of all those volnot need to create, and then unteers. Founding Mayor Eva discuss, unfounded issues in Galambos must be turning in Sandy Springs. her grave. There has been no I do not intend to particiindication that the succeedpate in such discussions, and SPECIAL ing mayor and councils have Oliver W. Porter was Sandy urge others to forego the “opapproved any racist activities. portunity.” If there are actual Springs’ first interim city Mayor Paul, whom I hold in manager and authored the problems, they should be takbook “Creating the New high esteem for his service, en before the council for acCity of Sandy Springs.” has issued a “mea culpa” in retion. If they fail to act, then cent weeks. I think Rusty does take it to the ballot box. That is himself and the community a the American way. Do not endisservice. courage loose talk that encourages demonI have received emails from a couple callstrations, which serve as a cover for small, ing for community “conversations” about violent groups to riot. systemic racism. I do not know them, but I I am proud of Sandy Springs, and I pray am told that they are wealthy liberals who that we will not succumb to the divisivewish to impose their values on the communess and violence that other cities have exnity. You may ask, “What harm is there in perienced. The “conversations” that are projust talking?” We have seen the harm at a posed are an open door to such divisiveness national level. Unfounded talk about Rusand violence. BH


Commentary | 17

Finding our true selves in the pandemic Faced with the COVID our lives to the basics, and changes in our lives during in so doing, finding our these past months and how true selves, so to speak. much time we have been At least, I did that. I left to our own without exwashed away the inches of ternal distractions, many my metaphorical soap unof us are learning a lot til I found that, buried deep about ourselves. We might within, my surprise figuhave discovered that we rine is a person who likes are extroverts who thrive monotony. on social interaction, or inFor me, this has been a troverts who are recharged time of self-awareness. I by solitude, or omniverts have raised my kids and who are a sort of cross- Robin Conte lives with her had my share of experienchusband in an empty nest es, and I have learned that, breed of the two. in Dunwoody. To contact at this point, I do not need I, for one, have realher or to buy her column to meet lofty goals for fulized that I am more of an collection, “The Best of the filment. I’m quite happy “cawnfigovert,” which is to Nest,” see when my accomplishment say, a person who is Content Alone When Nothing of the day is filling the Fun Is Going On. bird feeder. My goal for next week is to Anyway, I liken this period of time make a batch of hummingbird food. Evto the old novelty store soap, the one ery time I do start to be productive, Netthat you’d wash away until it revealed flix interrupts me and reminds me to a surprise figurine buried within. Durkeep watching that show I started two ing these months of relative seclusion, nights ago. we’ve been paring down the layers of More than that, I have learned that

Robin’s Nest

even if all I have to do to attend a meeting is roll out of bed and logon, I will still be late. But that’s just me. Some of us have learned that given a bit of unscheduled time, we will use it to write a book, build a treehouse, or plant corn. Some of us made best friends with the pizza delivery boy. Some of us of became the pizza delivery boy. Some of us learned to pivot, start a new business, or restart the old one. Some of us perfected the art of making sourdough bread. Others burned our homemade biscuits, with every attempt. Some of us have learned that we can make a delicious cocktail from cucumber water and muddled basil (kudos to my genius neighbor). Some of us sent cards to friends, made sandwiches for strangers, or made masks, for both friends and strangers. Some of us started teaching our children, and some of us discovered how much they have been learning from us,

all along. Some of us prayed, and some of us are still praying. Some of us learned exactly which kind of Scrabble player we are. (We are either the type of player who can only come up with 3-letter words, or we are that formidable opponent who can form “ischemia” without breaking a sweat and garner 48 points with a single well-placed “OX.”) Some of us read, some of us listened, some of us watched. Hopefully, all of us learned. Some of us made night after night of delectable meals and yet resisted the temptation, every time, to post photos of them on Instagram. But through it all, I think we have also learned an important commonality, in that no matter who we are and where in the world we live, given the chance to work from home, most of us would rather do so in our underwear.

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING… UNDER THE FIDUCIARY STANDARD, DOES PAYING A FEE FOR FINANCIAL ADVICE ASSURE AN ADVISOR IS ACTING IN YOUR BEST INTEREST? People assume that, of course. But, just because a financial advisor is associated with a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm does not mean all advice will be fully subject to the fiduciary standard. The majority of financial advisors working under an RIA firm also affiliate with a broker-dealer and routinely “switch hats” from advisor to broker when working with clients. This switch may be unapparent, but it means the legal standard for advice has been lowered. WASN’T THE LAW RECENTLY CHANGED SO THAT BROKERS ARE UNDER A FIDUCIARY STANDARD? You are referring to the new Regulation BI (“Best Interest”) that does indeed apply to brokers. It IS a step up from the old “Suitability” standard, but it stops short of applying a fiduciary standard to brokers on all of their activities for clients. So, this means the client must understand when their broker is offering investment advisory services (and acting as a full fiduciary) versus when they are functioning in a product-selling mode (and under the new, but lower, BI standard). THAT SOUNDS A BIT CONFUSING TO SORT OUT… It can be confusing. Firms are now required to provide a simple disclosure to you called a “Client Relationship Summary”. In plain language and just a few pages, this must answer key questions about fees and potential conflicts of interest.

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18 | Commentary ■

Around Town

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

New leader of Sandy Springs Conservancy helms park expansions

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Here’s one way old suburbs are changing in the 21st century: parks. When Boyd Leake was growing up in Sandy Springs and Buckhead a half-century ago, neighborhood playgrounds could be hard to find. There were the big parks salted across the map -- Chastain Park in Atlanta, Hammond Park up north of the Chattahoochee River, Murphey-Candler Park over in DeKalb County -- but not a lot of little neighborhood parks that a kid could easily walk or bike to. Kids played in their yards. “We were lucky living in a suburban area,” Leake said. “Everyone had a big back yard.” That was then. Now several of his old neighborhoods are seasoned with community parks. Leake likes what has happened and wants to see it continue. He recently took a job as executive director of the Sandy Springs Conservancy, a group that has promoted local parks and trails since before there was a city of Sandy Springs. “Our goal,” the 57-year-old said, “is to build out more parks and trails in Sandy Springs.” SPECIAL Leake sees his new job as a comfortable Boyd Leake fit. He has a thing for the environment and for local history. And he knows the area pretty well: he went to The Lovett School, has advanced degrees in history, and started and oversees a Facebook page for “Buckhead Natives.” One of his first jobs was volunteering for Trees Atlanta, a nonprofit that promotes the metro forest. Through the years, he’s worked for a nonprofit that planted trees to pretty up Atlanta for the Olympics and for a city of Atlanta office dedicated to improving the city’s “resilience.” For the past couple of decades, he worked as a private consultant specializing in composting. When a friend suggested he take a look at the conservancy job, he liked what he saw. “I looked at what they had done, at the almost explosion of parks in Sandy Springs, and I saw where [the city] had passed the trail plan,” he said. “It really appealed to me. They were really building something, and they were helping the city build something.” Two weeks after Leake started work at the conservancy, the coronavirus caused everything to shut down. “We’re having to bob and weave and change what we’re doing” because of the virus, he said. These days, much of his job is done at a distance – on the phone, in Zoom meetings – and often from his home in the north Georgia mountains, he said, rather than the conservancy’s office near Morgan Falls Dam. There’s plenty to do. The conservancy reaches its 20th anniversary next year, so there’s a celebration to plan. Then there’s that Sandy Springs trails plan, which city officials adopted last October. It calls for years of work by various groups to add to the network of trails knitting the city together and to surrounding communities. Leake said the conservancy’s biggest job will be helping the city promote the plan and build a consensus around it. He said conservancy members sometimes can serve as intermediaries with property owners or businesses that might not be comfortable dealing with city officials. “Sandy Springs is a new a city and for a long time was very busy in getting basic stuff done,” he said. “Now things are filling out a little and I think the conservancy can help the city get things done. There’s an even greater need for these kinds of greenspaces. I think that’s been reinforced by COVID-19. People are just aching to go outside.” The conservancy also is joining with other local groups to try to convince residents to get out and walk more on the area’s existing trails, he said. The group will promote the use of public trails in places as varied as Morgan Falls Overlook Park in Sandy Springs and the Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Buckhead. Some of the places to be highlighted didn’t even exist until the 21st century. It’s just another sign of how things have changed over just a few decades in these old suburbs.


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

TurningPoint helps breast cancer survivors with ‘support puzzle’ of pandemic era California-based, an online continuing education resource for physical therapy professionals that she helped launch, Pink was uniquely ready for the challenges the pandemic would soon pose. When she was just a few months into her new job, everything began to shut down. Thanks to her experience with Educata’s online learning, she brought all of TurningPoint’s services online in what she calls the “support puzzle for breast cancer patients during COVID-19.” “TurningPoint is so unique it needs to be grown into other locations, and COVID gave us the opportunity for tele-rehab,” she said. “Now we can serve other areas of Georgia and other states, as well as develop relationships with physical therapists who have never developed anything specifically for breast cancer. In just six months, we’ve already had 6,000 views of our educational pieces.” With tele-rehab operating smoothly, Pink sees a combination of online and on-site services for when the economy reopens, though she says she and Binkley are still figuring out how to nurture the personal relationships built during on-site services that patients value the most. How to continue to “treat the whole woman” while staying online is the challenge. The other thing Pink is still figuring out is how to meet people and get to know metro Atlanta since she had barely gotten settled in her new Sandy Springs apartment when everything shut down. TurningPoint’s mission is to serve everyone regardless of ability to pay. If you know of anyone, male or female, struggling with breast cancer recovery, please go to

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One day in 2015, while riding in the car with her mother, eighth-grader Lauren Scalise overheard her mother Stephanie take a phone call. “She got this random phone call, and we pulled over so she could answer it,” said Lauren. “I was confused until she hung up the phone, looked me in the eyes and told me she had breast cancer.” The two sat by theCarol side of isthe road in silence processing Niemi a marketing consultant whowhile lives on the Dunwoody- what they had just Sandy flowed. Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire learned, and then the tears others. Contact her at “I couldn’t believe that my strong and resilient mom would be the one going through breast cancer, and there was nothing I could do to stop it,” said Lauren. Perhaps no diagnosis is as devastating to women as breast cancer. Besides threatening a woman’s life, it usually entails excruciating treatments and surgery, bodily mutilation, long, painful recovery, loss of mental and emotional well-being and terror for loved ones. For Stephanie Scalise, it was Stage 3 and resulted in a double mastectomy and multiple other surgeries -- all in one year. During treatment, she began to suffer lymphedema, a debilitating swelling that results from a blockage in the lymphatic system, an alltoo frequent result of the surgery. Stephanie soon couldn’t move her left arm. That’s when she was referred to TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation in Sandy Springs. After six months of lymphatic massage three times a week, she regained the use of her left arm. “They gave me my life back,” said Stephanie. “I felt like I was getting my mom back,” said Lauren. That same year, grateful for what TurningPoint had done for their mother, Lauren and her two older sisters started an annual fundraiser called Strides for Survivors, which continues to this day. “I want people to know how amazing TurningPoint is. They were able to really help our mom while she was going through treatments, but they’re still helping her now, four years cancer free,” she said. Founded in 2003 by physical therapist and two-time breast cancer survivor Jill Binkley, TurningPoint offers physical therapy, massage therapy, emotional support, exercise classes, nutritional counseling and educational programs -- all with the goal of helping breast cancer patients live their best lives. According to a board SPECIAL member, it’s the only orgaMarilyn Pink, the new executive director of TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabiliation. nization in metro Atlanta that offers “all of this under one roof with the same degree of thoroughness.” Testimonials posted on the TurningPoint website repeatedly highlight the care and compassion with which the services are provided and the personal relationships that grow from them. “You feel safe,” said one. “You can be honest about how you feel, as opposed to having to be strong for your family,” said another. In 2017, Binkley retired from her role as executive director to work on special projects so that a more experienced leader could come and begin spreading TurningPoint’s message and methodology to other parts of the country. That leader is Marilyn Pink, who in December assumed the role. Previously CEO of BH

Commentary | 19

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20 | Public Safety ■

Former American Medical Association president answers COVID-19 questions BY JOHN RUCH

Basic precautions like social distancing and mask-wearing can once again flatten the curve of COVID-19’s spread amid a surge in cases, the immediate past president of the American Medical Association told the Rotary Club of Buckhead July 20. “Listen, we reopened too soon in some areas, and it wasn’t only when but what we reopened,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, an Atlanta psychiatrist who headed the Chicago-based AMA until June. While much remains unknown about COVID-19, she said, the effectiveness of some precautions has been certain since the influenza pandemic of 1918. “The science is clear. It’s been clear for over a century” on social distancing as effective, said Harris, adding that she prefers the term “physical distancing” because safe social contact remains important for mental health. Even after scientists get COVID-19 under control, she said, some distancing changes could remain a fact of life. Before the pandemic, she said, there was talk in the medical community of the dangers of

hand-shaking as a greeting. “In Atlanta we have not been afraid… “… I have been saying for several years to have these conversations,” she said. quietly, because I didn’t want to get the “So I see Atlanta leading. These converblowback, that we should probably stop sations are difficult, but someone has to shaking hands,” said Harris. “I think lead.” now that’s likely Equity facto happen. We’ll tors into such have to figure major issues as out customs, and school reopenwe’re smart peoings, where many ple in this coundistricts and intry. We can figure dividual schools out something can’t afford the else to show resame protections spect and to greet as others. Harris warmly.” said children “abLike Emory solutely” should University Presireturn to classdent Claire Sterk, rooms in a safe who spoke to the manner. SPECIAL Buckhead Rotary “Public trust Dr. Patrice Harris. about COVID-19 a is key” in the batweek earlier, Harris said that racial and tle against the pandemic, said Harris, economic disparities in healthcare are a which means being clear about what is major pandemic challenge. Harris said unknown as well as dispelling myths and that Black and Brown communities are misinformation. She cited an incorrect disproportionately affected by the panrumor circulating in the Black communidemic “due to longstanding structural ty that Black people are immune to the racism, bias” and related issues. disease.

Several of the more than 75 attendees in the virtual meeting asked Harris to clarify many types of information. Maskwearing was a common topic. Harris reassured one attendee that he is likely fine going maskless on an outdoor walk when he is not around other people, but cautioned that he should keep the mask handy in case someone gets close. Asked by another attendee about people wearing masks improperly, exposing their nose or mouth, she said good use is important. But, she added, “We all have to give ourselves a break during this” for small slip-ups. The overall consistent effort is what is important, she indicated. “It’s about not one thing,” but using all precautions, including distancing and hand-washing, she said. One attendee asked Harris about the state of knowledge on children being low-risk for catching or spreading the diseases — a factor that underlies much of the school reopening planning. Harris said it is important to not view children as a single group. Those 10 and younger might be lower-risk for spreading COVID-19 due to their smaller lung capacity, she said, but those ages 10 to 19 could be similar to adults. “We just don’t have a lot of data” on children, COVID-19 and schools, she said, especially since school districts were among the first institutions to shut down as the pandemic hit. Harris addressed some alternative tactics about the pandemic. She said there is no evidence that supplements like elderberry and zinc help to prevent COVID-19 infection. “There’s no shortcut to a better immune system,” she said, advising healthy eating and good sleep instead. And she spoke skeptically of the governmental response to the pandemic in Sweden, which used fewer shutdown and distancing measures than most other countries. She noted that compared to the U.S., Sweden is much smaller and has a much less diverse population, and also has universal healthcare for those who do get sick. Regardless, she said, Sweden is now seeing both a “significant loss of life” and economic problems. Another concern for the rapidly spreading virus is whether it will evolve new strains that could be harder to fight. Harris said there is some evidence of mutated strains, but not a “material mutation” that would change the approach to combatting the pandemic. Meanwhile, research into treatments and vaccines is underway. “We are not helpless against this disease,” said Harris. BH


Special Section | 21


Weekend Getaways

Mountain attractions in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee have reopened BY COLLIN KELLEY Whether you want to take a daytrip or make it a weekend getaway, attractions have reopened in North Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee with safety precautions due to the ongoing pandemic. We rounded up a list of places open to visitors, including outdoor attractions, railway adventures, vineyard tours, and playing the slots. Don’t forget your masks!

Consolidated Gold Mine Head to Dahlonega to tour the historic Consolidated Gold Mine, which was founded in 1896. The tour takes visitors 200 feet underground to show how miners blasted quartz veins to find big deposits of gold. You can also pan for gold, go gem mining and more. For details, visit consolidatedgoldmine. com.

BabyLand General Hospital If you want to see where the Cabbage Patch Kids are born, head to Cleveland, GA for a tour of BabyLand General Hospital. Admission is free, but masks are required, to watch doctors and nurses deliver hand-sculpted Cabbage Patch Kids, which are available for adoption. Visit for details. Hamilton Gardens Located on the shore of Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, GA, the 33-acre garden features the largest collection of rhododendrons in the southeast. Trilliums, shooting stars, wild ginger, trout lilies, and Solomon’s seal are just a few of the special plants found in the gardens. Social distancing is required and masks are recommended. Visit North Georgia Vineyards & Wineries The North Georgia mountains are home to some of the country’s best wineries, including Tiger Mountain, Wolf Mountain, Haberham, Frogtown Cellars, Three Sisters, and more. Visit to see all the wineries.

▲ Rock City and Ruby Falls Less than two hours from Atlanta, Chattanooga not only offers the famed Tennessee Aquarium, but is home to Lookout Mountain and its two big attractions: Rock City and Ruby Falls. Rock City – with its winding trails, See 7 States pan-


Continued on page 22

A new life awaits in Asheville

Working for new residents to the Asheville area since 1998

Jon Corbin Broker/Owner

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22 | Special Section ■

Continued from page 21


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orama, Mother Goose Village and more – is open, but masks and timed tickets are required. A mask and timed tickets are also required to descend deep inside the mountain to see the spectacle that is 145-foot cascading Ruby Falls. Visit or rubyfalls. com for tickets and information. Biltmore The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is once again open for tourists along with is accompanying gardens, winery, resort. There’s also a special “Downton Abbey” exhibition on show through Sept. 7. Visit for tickets, weekend getaway packages, and safety information. ◄ Harrah’s Casinos High rollers can once again enjoy the slots and blackjack tables at Harrah’s Casinos in Cherokee and Murphy, NC. Social distancing is in place on the gaming floor and masks are required. Visit for details. Gibbs Gardens The nearly 300-acres of French and European-styled gardens features flora and fauna – as well as 24 ponds, 32 bridges, and 19 waterfalls – is open in Ball Ground, GA. Visit for more information. ►Dollywood Dolly Parton’s theme park and resort in Pigeon Forge, TN is open again, but there’s a new reservation system in place to help limit the number of guests in the park to maintain social distancing. Along with rides, shows, and dining, the resort is open and so is the water park. Visit for reservations and details.

Sandy Wilbanks REALTOR®


A N S L E Y M O U N TA I N S . C O M 404.480.HOME | 116 WEST MAIN STREET, UNIT 1C, BLUE RIDGE, GEORGIA 30513 Equal Housing Opportunity | Christopher Burell, Principal Broker and Chief Motivation Officer | All information believed accurate but not guaranteed. If you have an existing relationship with a Broker, this is not intended as a solicitation.

▲Blue Ridge Scenic Railway The passenger train takes visitors on a ride along the Toccoa River with sweeping views of the mountains. The four-hour summer trip takes passengers from downtown Blue Ridge up to Tennessee and back, passing through McCaysville and Copperhill along the way. The train departs daily at 11 a.m. Visit for tickets and information. BH



Special Section | 23

24 | Special Section ■

Imagine the Escape ...

Small Is Beautiful

R I V E R L I F E , L A K E L I F E , M O U N TA I N L I F E



200 ROWLAND POINTE Morganton, Georgia 30560

194 KATAHDIN DRIVE Mineral Bluff, Georgia 30559

Tiny homes community in Highlands-Cashiers is a hit with buyers looking for small getaways

The Saltbox design.


Annie Boland has been selling properties in the area for 16 years and is now a full-time Blue Ridge resident. Whether you are looking for a cozy little cabin, a mountaintop lodge or a turn-key investment property, North Georgia has something to offer for everyone. Let Annie put her knowledge of the area to work for you!

Annie Boland NORTH GEORGIA BUYER AGENT c. 404.449.1179 o. 404.874.0300 |

Atlanta Fine Homes, LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each franchise is independently owned and operated.

You might believe that size doesn’t matter, but for people who have embraced the tiny house movement, small is beautiful. That’s especially true when the home is set on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. Long known for its breath-taking vistas, the area boasts deep lakes, streams, waterfalls, meadows and densely wooded mountains. Residents take advantage of the natural bounty through its many nature trails, golf courses and streams, perfect for trout fishing. The interior of the Saltbox. In the heart of the plateau, and within minutes of the Chattooga River and the Nantahala National Forest, sits The Preserve at Whiteside Cliffs, a private, tiny home community that features designer cottages. Homeowners can choose from two designs – Low Country and Saltbox, both featuring one bedroom, one bath and high-end finishes throughout. The Low Country home blends minimalism with elegance, filling its 464 square feet with features like high ceilings and quartz countertops. The 452-square-foot Saltbox maximizes space while offering a 270-degree view of outdoors. Homesites and cottages in the gated community are built to maximize privacy and mountain views. Only 47 cottages are spread across the community’s 33 acres, and tree canopies are proThe interior of the Low Country design. fessionally sculpted to afford clear views of Whiteside and Black Rock Mountains. Lot home packages start at $299,000, with top elevation lots priced at $399,000. Since the median home price in the Highlands-Cashiers area is $625,000, The Preserve at Whiteside Cliffs offers homeowners luxury and affordability in a premier mountain location. For more information visit


Special Section | 25

September 25th – 27th

26 | Special Section ■

Gainesville Garden

The Atlanta Botanical Garden satellite location has reopened to visitors

If you’re a fan of the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Midtown, then you’ll love the Gainesville Garden. Reopened with extended summer hours, it’s a tranquil spots to take your mind off the news and reconnect with nature. The garden, located near Lake Lanier, is open Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. To help with social distancing, timed tickets are required for all guests, including members. Along with the winding trails full of flowers, plants, tress, and water features, there’s also activities and playtime for the kids in the Children’s Garden and adults can enjoy Wine in the Woodlands on Friday and Saturday nights. Stroll the garden with drinks from the bar and enjoy pre-ordered dinner from 2 Dog Restaurant. The garden is located at 1911 Sweetbay Drive in Gainesville. For tickets and information, visit



Special Section | 27


Your Trusted Advisor In Blue Ridge

475 TOCCOA RIVER LANE offered for $1,200,000

514 STEWART CAMP POINT offered for: $1,950,000

500 CHIEF WHITETAILS offered for: $769,900

701 ADA STREET offered for: $239,000

318 WILMOT FABUS MTN RD offered for: $450,000

2941 MOBILE ROAD offered for: $1,995,000

Kim Knutzen REALTOR®


404.480.HOME | ANSLEYMOUNTAINS.COM | 116 WEST MAIN ST. UNIT 1C, BLUE RIDGE, GA 30513 Equal Housing Opportunity | Christopher Burell, Principal Broker and Chief Motivation Officer | All information believed accurate but not guaranteed. If your home is currently listed, this is not a solicitation.


28 | Special Section ■

Tails on Trails

Club encourages four-legged friends on park trails Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites has launched a dog walking club, “Tails on Trails.” Hikers and their four-legged companions are challenged to hike 42 trails at Georgia state parks and upon completion, dogs earn a bandana and their owners earn a T-shirt for logging the miles. Dog walkers have always been welcome in Georgia state parks, and the Tails on Trails club offers a way for owners and their dogs to accomplish designated hikes. Those who would like to join can purchase a $20 membership card at any of the seven participating parks’ visitor centers or online at Owners must abide by state parks rules: keep dogs on a leash no more than 6-feet, clean up after dogs, and never leave dogs unattended in campsites, cottages or vehicles. Georgia state parks offer several dog-friendly cottages, which are available to book online. The following seven trails are part of the “Tails on Trails” club: Fort Mountain State Park (Chatsworth)

Photo from Georgia Department of Natural Resources website.

Explore a shaded forest and a serene creek valley along the 1.1-mile stretch of Fort Mountain’s Lake Trail. The trail is short and mostly flat, making a great running loop for owners and their dog. F.D. Roosevelt State Park (Pine Mountain) Dogs will enjoy roaming on the gentle, rolling mountains of F.D. Roosevelt, Georgia’s largest state park. The Mountain Creek Trail is one of the most scenic, and passes through several plant habitats such as pine and hardwood forests. Don Carter State Park (Gainesville) The hike on the Lakeview Loop Trail showcases Don Carter State Park’s prime location on the 38,000-acre Lake Lanier, and is paved for stroller and wheelchair accessibility. Dog owners who are seeking shade can venture into the forest to hike the Woodland Loop Trail.

Did you know your local

Virginia-Highland neighbor is a licensed North Carolina Real Estate broker?

I specialize in luxury mountain homes,

breathtaking homesites, condominiums,

cottages, golf communities and vacation

rentals in the Highlands and Cashiers area.

Bill Gilmore 404-455-5712

As a 10-year resident and member of Old Edwards Club (in Highlands, NC), I am

very familiar with the area and nearby clubs. I have helped many discerning clients find their vacation home, new club lifestyle or

homesite. When you’re ready to cool off and

create memories and make it your own – for a

Sweetwater Creek State Park (Lithia Springs) Sweetwater Creek features two trails for “Tails on Trails” club members, and both lead to the ruins from the New Manchester Manufacturing Company. The Red Trail, 2 miles, is the most frequently used trail and leads directly to the mill ruins. For a longer hike through the park’s wildlife and plant communities, members can hike along Sweetwater Creek’s rocky banks on the 5-mile White Trail. High Falls State Park (Jackson) Dogs can frolic along the Towliga River accompanied by the sound of the upcoming High Falls. The 1.5-mile Falls Trail is a moderately challenging trek through hilly forests that offers a rewarding waterfall view. Fort McAllister State Park (Richmond Hill) Stroll on the 3.1-mile Redbird Creek Trail under the cover of Spanish moss and discover scenic views of salt marshes, coastal wetlands and nature-viewing opportunities at Fort McAllister State Park. Red Top Mountain State Park (Cartersville) The White Tail Trail of Red Top Mountain State Park meanders through hardwood forest to a beautiful overlook of Lake Allatoona.

weekend or forever – give me a call.



Special Section | 29

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Based on receipt of federal financial assistance through a Paycheck Protection Program law administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under the CAREs Act, The Children’s School acknowledges its obligation to prohibit discrimination, harassment, or retaliation on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin sex, citizenship status, genetic information, handicap or disability in admissions, access, employment, tuition assistance, educational policies, or other school administered student and employee programs and activities. Questions regarding the School’s compliance with the application and administration of the School’s nondiscrimination policies should be directed to: Allen Broyles, Assistant Head for Academics and SBA Compliance Officer, The Children’s School, Email:, Phone: 404-873-6985, 345 10th Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309 or to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) or to the SBA. Please refer to the School’s SBA NonDiscrimination Compliance Policy on the School’s website for information on how to file complaints with OCR or the SBA. This notice will remain in effect until the School has satisfied and paid off the SBA Paycheck Protection Loan.

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