August 2020 - Dunwoody Reporter

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AUGUST 2020 • VOL. 11 — NO. 8

Dunwoody Reporter COMMENTARY

Racial justice means talking and remembering





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‘Officer of the Year’ joins harassment complaints




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Mask-clad local resident Laura Potts totes a plant and canine companion Chase July 25 at the Dunwoody Farmers Market, where much, but not all, of the crowd wore masks. 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. Dunwoody was among the other Georgia cities that also established a mask mandate, backing down after the Bottoms-Kemp clash, but DeKalb County instituted its own mandate.

Hospital faces pandemic safety complaints, says it follows rules BY JOHN RUCH

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Peachford Hospital, a mental and behavorial health facility on Peachford Road, is facing complaints alleging a lack of COVID-19 safety precautions for staff and patients, which a private accrediting group

and the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration are investigating. The hospital has denied some of the specific complaints while generally saying it follows federal pandemic guidelines. Three Peachford employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity cited such

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The Dunwoody Police Department’s 2018 “Officer of the Year” has joined three other current and former employees in filing intent-to-sue notices alleging harassment by former Lt. Fidel Espinoza. Officer Bryan Castellanos alleges in a July 13 complaint letter that Espinoza sexually harassed him by sending and demanding sexual photos and videos, engaging in sexual chats with Castellano’s wife, and taking a photo of the officer while he was using a urinal. “To say the least, the carelessness of the Dunwoody Police Department in failing to address this issue and protect its officers has completely torn Mr. Castellanos’ life apart,” says the complaint. The “ante litem,” or intent-to-sue, notice was filed on Castellanos’s behalf by attorney Mande Moyer, who was not immediately available for comment. The notice says Castellanos is seeking compensation likely to exceed $500,000. Along with the other complaint filings, including one already filed lawsuit, the city is facing at least $2 million in compensation requests or demands. The city has hired an outside attorney to handle the previously filed harassment complaints. City spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said the city received Castellanos’s ante litem notice around July 17. The notice will be submitted to the city’s liability insurer and “decisions regarding whether and how to respond to it will be made soon,” she said. See OFFICER on page 14


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Community | 3

Citywide racial dialogue stalls because of pandemic, mayor says BY ERIN SCHILLING

When Mayor Lynn Deutsch spoke at a June 11 faith-based police brutality event, she expressed plans to start a citywide conversation about race and diversify city leadership to better reflect Dunwoody’s population. Six weeks later, the city has no plans for formal conversations, and the City Council recently approved an all-White commission to review the city’s governing documents. Deutsch said the pandemic stalled the racial dialogue plans and that commission diversity is a long-term challenge. “I had hoped that the situation with this public health crisis would be improving, and it’s obviously not, so some of the plans to do things publicly are having to be retooled,” Deutsch said. Deutsch said she has continued to have conversations with groups of residents and those that reach out to her wanting to talk about racial equality and justice. Neighboring Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul similarly called for a citywide dialogue at the beginning of June and launched a virtual community meeting process to get input from different groups a month later. Lydia Singleton-Wells, who organized the faith-based, “Restore: Pausing Our Protest to Pray” event, complimented Deutsch’s efforts to listen to residents and have an open mind about diversity improvements. Singleton-Wells said she’s working on a website of resources for minority communities in lieu of action from the mayor, though she said she thinks the mayor has good intentions about continuing the conversation about race. “When it comes to the changes we want to make for racial inequality, I think that the mayor has done a fantastic job,” said Singleton-Wells, who said she’s been in regular conversation with Deutsch about ideas. Deutsch attended two protests that Singleton-Wells organized, speaking to attendees about her anger about the systemic racism in healthcare and goals to make Dunwoody more inclusive. During her speech at the June 11 event, Deutsch said she has been “very cognizant for years” that city boards and commissions do not reflect the diversity of Dunwoody. Since that speech, the council has only had to approve members of the Charter Commission during its July 13 City Council meeting to review the city’s history and governing documents. After the review, the five-person commission recommends possible improvements to the Georgia General Assembly, which must be done by Nov. 9. All five appointees of the Charter Commission are White. “That’s a difficult assignment because the members need to be somewhat aware of how the city operates to begin with and preferably have some involvement in the city,” Deutsch said. Spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said there is no application process for the chart commission positions. Deutsch chose one commission appointee, and the council also chose one. The other three appointees were chosen by state Senate and House legislators that represent the area. “I think that in 2020 you have to be intentional about diversity and inclusion, and you also have to have people who are willing to volunteer their time and knowledge,” said Singleton-Wells about the charter commission appointments. To be considered for other municipal boards, commissions or committees, residents have to submit an application for appointment to the city clerk, according to the city website. The first step in diversifying boards and commissions is diversifying the application pool, Deutsch said. She said she and council members have been encouraging people to fill out an application by posting about it on social media and talking to residents. Singleton-Wells, who has talked with the mayor about becoming a community liaison, said she has never applied for one of city boards or commissions because she didn’t know about the application. “Unfortunately since the beginning of time, you have this ‘good ol’ boy’ system where all the same people know what’s going on and what to apply to and everyone else is completely unaware,” Singleton-Wells said. Boettcher said residents can fill out an application at any time to be considered for a position. The city does not advertise open positions, but the website lists the members for all the resident committees and boards and when their term expires. Eighteen positions spanning the Alcohol License Review Board, the Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals, the Urban Redevelopment Agency, the Volunteer Coordinating Committee and the Zoning Board of Appeals opened June 30 of this year, according to the term limits of the current members. Nine more positions in different groups will open by the end of the year. Boettcher said appointments to these open seats will be made later in the summer, and board members “continue to serve until such time as they are reappointed or are replaced by someone new.” Deutsch said she is working to “get back to the basics” as the city settles into dealing with the COVID-19 crisis for “the long haul.” DUN

DUNWOODY CITY ORDINANCE adopted July 13, 2020

In Dunwoody

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Bicyclists should yield to pedestrians

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4 | Community ■

‘Ghost bike’ memorializes Dunwoody cyclist killed in Sandy Springs

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A white bicycle chained to a telephone pole on Glenridge Drive in Sandy Springs isn’t an abandoned ride — it’s a memorial to a cyclist who died in a crash on that road, one of many such “ghost bikes” around the state. Felix Mayer, a 57-year-old Dunwoody resident and cyclist, was struck and killed by a driver while riding his bike on April 24. The painted white bicycle is near the scene of the crash to honor Mayer, said David Matthews, founder of the Decatur nonprofit Bike Friendly ATL, who placed the memorial. Matthews said the memorial also demonstrates a continued need to make the streets safer for all people on the road. Mayer’s ghost bike memorial is one of 83 Matthews has placed, mostly around Georgia, to pay tribute to cyclists killed in crashes on the road. For Matthews, the work is a way to show support for the families of those cyclists and promote street safety and awareness. “I can let them know that they’re not by themselves and that there are other people that care, that mourn,” said Matthews. “It’s through the ghost bikes that I’m trying to make our roads safer for everybody, and if that helps cyclists and pedestrians also, that’s a good thing.” Mayer was struck by a truck while riding on Glenridge Drive, north of I-285, according to the Sandy Springs Police Department. The memorial is around 5881 Glenridge Drive, near the intersection of Hammond Drive. Angulo Banos of Norcross, the driver of the white pickup truck that hit him, fled the scene, according to SSPD. He was arrested and charged with first-degree felony vehicular

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A ghost bike is chained to a tree on Glenridge Drive to honor Dunwoody resident Felix Mayer, who died in a crash while riding his bike on that road on April 24.

homicide and felony hit-and-run. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in the court system, so Banos is not yet indicted but remains in Fulton County Jail without bond, according to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.

20 years of ghost bikes

Matthews hosted a ceremony on May 30 to place Mayer’s finished ghost bike near the location of the crash. About 50 people attended, said Neil Fleming, a Sandy Springs resident who helped get police presence for the ghost bike dedication. Fleming, who has also been hit by car while cycling, said he was riding his bike on the same road hours before the crash that killed Mayer. “I was on a bike on that road right where he was hit,” Fleming said. “It struck home with me.” Donald Hall, a Dunwody resident who cycled with Mayer for years in a Dunwoody cycling group, said he was shocked when he heard about the crash, especially since Mayer was a strong cyclist. “I think it was touching, the number of people that came out to participate in [the memorial],” Hall said. “Any cyclist killed while riding is a horrible thing.” DUN


Community | 5

Mayer’s memorial is one of four ghost bikes placed in Sandy Springs since Matthews started the memorials in 2000. Matthews hasn’t personally known any of the people for whom he makes the ghost bikes, but he said he still gets emotional about the memorials everytime. “When I get a message that someone has gone down, it hurts,” Matthew said. “It really hurts because it’s something that 98% of the time we as a society avoid talking about.” Matthews said usually one of his about 6,500 followers of Bike Friendly ATL, who are mostly people in the Southeast, let him know when a cyclist dies in a crash. He also does internet searches for fatal bike crashes. He uses old, donated bikes then paints them white and adds flowers and a sign with the person’s name. Prepping a bike could take about 20 hours, Matthews said. Matthews doesn’t coordinate with cities to place the ghost bike memorials but tries to place it in an area near the crash that wouldn’t obstruct pedestrians or landscapers. He said the memorials usually get taken down within a year, but a few have stayed up much longer. “Most cities don’t want them because from their eyes, their roads are not safe,” Matthews said. “And I’m sorry, but they’re right. They’re not safe, not even close. Don’t even look at the ghost bikes, just look at the fatalities in cars.” Sandy Springs spokesperson Dan Coffer said the city does not have plans to remove the ghost bike memorial, which was still up as of July 28, and doesn’t know whether it’s on public or private property.

cally for law enforcement, to make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. He said the streets have gotten safer over the past few years, but he also thinks Sandy Springs could do better. “In terms of trying to do educational stuff for motorists and cyclists, that just doesn’t seem to be happening,” Fleming said. Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun said the city is working on planning initiatives that include new side paths and trails for cyclists and walkers as part of its Transportation Master Plan. Fleming said both cyclists and drivers have to follow the road rules, and Sandy Springs roads are usually wide enough to accommodate both types of transportation. Matthews said no city is doing enough to make the streets safer, and he thinks the federal government should pass a vulnerable road user law, which was passed in Dunwoody in November 2019. Vulnerable road user laws increase penalties for motorists who violate laws that protect cyclists and pedestrians, such as not stopping for people crossing in crosswalks or giving 3 feet of space while passing cyclists. Matthews said there needs to be more accountability on the roads for people in cars because of the damage a car can cause to others sharing the road. “All it takes is everyone slowing down just a little bit,” Matthew said. “Most people are going faster than the speed limit posted, and that amount of time is the time it takes for you to react in a rational or irrational way.”

A push for safer streets

Fleming said he has lobbied Sandy Springs to have more education programs, specifi-

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6 | Public Safety ■

Police charge driver in bike crash under new vulnerable road user law BY ERIN SCHILLING

Police charged a driver with violating the city’s new vulnerable road user ordinance in a crash with a cyclist on July 13. It was the first such charge for a crash, and the 20th overall, since the ordinance

went into effect on May 1. Pattie Baker, a resident and bicycle advocate, was hit by a car while cycling on Tilly Mill Road, according to a police report. Police charged resident Laura Colden, 61, with improper passing of a bicyclist, hit and run, and a violation of the vulnerable road user ordinance. Baker

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and Colden did not respond to requests for comment. The vulnerable road user ordinance is the first of its kind in the state, according to the city. It increases penalties for people who violate road laws involving “vulnerable road users,” such as pedestrians or cyclists, and it clarifies some ambiguities in state road laws, said Councilmember Tom Lambert, who sponsored the ordinance. The Dunwoody Police Department said 19 other charges have been issued for violating the vulnerable road user ordinance, mostly for drivers failing to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. This incident was the first charge given for a crash with a cyclist. Baker, who rides her bike with a 3-foot yellow pool noodle on the back to show cars a safe passing distance for cyclists, recorded the incident in a GoPro video and posted it on her blog, “Traveling at the Speed of Bike.” The video shows Baker riding along the road while two cars drive toward her in the opposite lane. While those cars pass, a car behind her honks then hits her, causing her bike to shake while she yells for the car to stop. “That is exactly the type of behavior we are targeting with this ordinance,”

Lambert said. The ordinance requires drivers to give a 3-foot distance when passing cyclists or other “vulnerable road users,” even if the driver has to go into the opposite lane. If the driver cannot safely give a 3-foot distance to the cyclist, they must drive a safe distance behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass them. This ordinance clarifies the state law, which says drivers should leave a 3-foot distance “when feasible” while passing a cyclist, which Lambert said leaves the discretion up to the driver of the car. The ordinance also says drivers should not make unsafe turns in front of pedestrians and cyclists or intimidate or harass them, according to the ordinance. Penalties for violations are up to six months in jail or probation or a $1,000 fine. If a driver completes a driver safety and pedestrian awareness class, these penalties could be waived or reduced, according to the ordinance. “The intent was never to be punitive, but to educate and enforce,” Lambert said. The ordinance passed the City Council in November, and Lambert said the lag in its effective date was to educate residents about the ordinance. The city has published a video and a flyer to explain the ordinance and is also working on a video regarding enforcement for police officers, Lambert said. Lambert said he sponsored the ordinance because of the city’s goal to be a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly city. Lambert said the ordinance went into effect at a good time because of the COVID-19 pandemic getting more people outside to walk and bike. “We saw a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrians on our streets, so having that ordinance in place was a really great safety tool for us,” Lambert said. Though Dunwoody is the first city in Georgia to have such an ordinance, attorney Bruce Hagen said similar laws already exist in more than half of the states. Hagen is part of Bike Law Georgia, a chapter of a national network of independent attorneys who represent people in cycling crashes. He said Dunwoody’s ordinance is a “really good first step.” “I’d like to see the law go much further than it does, and I would like to see it much stronger than it is,” Hagen said. “I do believe it is a well-intentioned law.” Hagen and Lambert both said they would like to see the Georgia General Assembly implement a statewide version of the ordinance. Lambert said his long-term goal is to work with state representatives to get something like this passed, and he hopes other cities can use Dunwoody as a template to implement similar ordinances in the meantime.



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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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

Hospital faces pandemic safety complaints, says it follows rules Continued from page 1 concerns as a lack of social distancing and mask-wearing for patients, and lack of notice about at least two patients and one staff member testing positive for COVID-19. They acknowledged the hospital uses some precautions, including mask-wearing for all staff members starting June 30. “Nobody comes in and cleans the gym before the next age group comes in there. Nor do they social distance in the gym, nor do they social distance in the cafeteria, nor do they have anything around encouraging social distances -- no signs, no stickers, no markers, anything,” said one employee. “It’s almost like when you come into Peachford, the coronavirus doesn’t exist.” Clay Boyles, the director of human resources and compliance officer at Peachford, did not address all of those specific complaints when asked about them, but said the hospital has taken many precautions, including twice-daily screenings and a ban on visitation. “At Peachford Hospital, the health and safety of our patients and staff is of highest priority,” said Boyles. “We are following guidelines from CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and our local health authorities. PPE [personal protective equipment] is available and being used. Peachford Hospital practices and encourages social distancing where possible and when appropriate throughout the facility. Physicians make the decision on whether masking a patient is medically required.” Boyles said he was aware that a complaint about Peachford was filed in March with OSHA, a federal agency that enforced worker protection laws and guidelines. “We believe the complaint was unfounded and to date, as we have no indication that OSHA will seek further information, we believe this matter is closed,” he said. However, an OSHA spokesperson said an “inquiry” is underway. “OSHA has received complaints involving Peachford Hospital and currently has an open inquiry at the facility,” the spokesperson said July 24. Peachford’s precautions are also getting an examination from The Joint Commission, an Illinois-based private organization that accredits hospitals. The Joint Commission’s Office of Quality and Patient Safety “is aware of patient safety concerns at Peachford Hospital,” said spokesperson Katie Looze Bronk. “OQPS is currently evaluating the concerns.” The Joint Commission has no regulatory powers, Bronk said, but can “help organizations identify deficiencies in care and correct them as quickly and sustainably as possible.” DUN

Most pandemic precautions at this point are guidelines rather than legal requirements. Peachford is a 246-bed hospital that has operated at 2151 Peachford Road since 1973. It currently has 520 employees, according to Boyles. It is operated by Universal Health Services, a Pennsylvania-based Fortune 500 company that did not directly respond to a comment request. The Joint Commission accredits the hospital and gave it good marks in an evaluation last year. One thing everyone seems to agree on is that Peachford has never faced a challenge like the pandemic. “There really isn’t precedent for COVID-19 -- as we all know, the world has not experienced a pandemic in recent times,” said Boyles. “We are diligent and agile, learning and relearning how to do our jobs every day and always keeping the safety of our patients and staff as our highest priority. We do believe that we are all in this together as one, fighting a common enemy.” The three employees who spoke to the Reporter say they and several others had to pressure the administration for basics like mask-wearing and that they continue to feel unsafe. They also expressed concern about the situation for patients who are involuntarily committed and cannot choose to leave. One employee said that during the month of June, workers ramped up demands for a mask-wearing requirement, but that “it was like they were in a bubble, that they felt that nobody in Peachford could be touched by this pandemic.” The masks and a policy mandating their use finally came at the end of the month, the employee said, and is still not well-enforced. Other PPE is still not provided, the employee said. Patients are still not required to wear masks, the employees said, and freely mingle without distancing in the cafeteria. Patients are maskless in group sessions with as many as 30 to 50 participants, the employees said. Other complaints involve a lack of notice about positive tests and working with symptomatic patients. One employee said she heard from word of mouth that a patient she worked with on June 27 had tested positive and that two other employees who worked with him later tested positive also. On July 4, a patient who tested positive was sent to a local emergency room and then returned under quarantine, two of the employees said. Two other patients in the same unit exhibited fever and symptoms of COVID-19, but staff members were re-

quired to continue working them, the employees said. One employee said she was given a mask that was not fit-tested and was told she did not need further PPE. The employees expressed concern about staff and patients being only screened, not tested, for COVID-19. One also questioned the application of the screening, saying that employees are required to work their shift even if they answer yes to a question about possible COVID-19 exposure. Boyles said that is not true. Staff members who test positive are required to use personal time off rather than getting paid sick leave, the employees said. Many employees are looking for work elsewhere, they said. One of them contrasted the situation with the popular image of medical workers as heroes in the pandemic. “Am I really a hero, and this is how you’re going to treat me?” the employee said. Boyles did not respond to every point of the employee complaints, but gave a detailed overview of Peachford’s precautions.

“All employees, visitors, guests and physicians are screened before entering any of the buildings on our campus each and every day,” Boyles said. “This screening includes a temperature check. Any person who does not meet our screening criteria is not allowed on campus. We screen each patient twice daily, including taking their temperatures. Patients with any symptoms are required to wear a mask, are generally placed in a private room and do not leave the unit except as necessary. “Visitation has been suspended at Peachford since March,” Boyles said. “Masks are required for employees at all times. Masks are strongly recommended and readily available for patients, as deemed appropriate by their physician. Meetings inside the hospital have been restricted to allow for social distancing and we practice social distancing in patient care areas where safe and when appropriate. Our leadership team meets regularly to review our progress and make improvements in our processes, many of which are suggested by our employees.”

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The DeKalb County School District delayed its start date by two weeks and will use remote learning until the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic slows, according to reopening guidelines presented July 13 by Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris and the COVID-19 Reopening Task Force. Remote learning was set to start Aug. 17 instead of the original start date of Aug. 3. The DeKalb Board of Education approved the delayed start date in the July 13 meeting, according to a DCSD press release. To review the reopening guidelines, see the DCSD website here. The board will re-evaluate the COVID-19 safety risk of students and staff returning to school at each monthly board meeting and update families on whether the schools will continue remote learning or move to a traditional or hybrid learning model. The next board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 14. “Given the substantial spread in our area right now, this option is our best choice, but it will be re-evaluated on a regular basis,” Watson-Harris said in the press release. The district’s year-round staff members were scheduled to return on July 14 in a hybrid model of remote and in-person work with staggered schedules, according to the guidelines. If the community spread of COVID-19 drops to low or none, the school district will restart traditional, in-person learning, according to the press release. If there is minimal or moderate spread, the district may use traditional, remote or hybrid learning. “The whole thing has got to be worked out,” said school board member Joyce Morley during the discussion about students returning to the buildings. “That’s why this cannot be rushed. It cannot be political. It has to be for the health and safety of all children, all staff and all people of the district.” A community input survey conducted by DCSD showed that 70% of employees and 59% of parents were uncomfortable with having a traditional school model, though 56% of students said they were comfortable with it. Students were least comfortable with the remote learning option, but employees were most comfortable with this option, according to the survey results. The board meeting where the guidelines were presented was conducted virtually and had some technical difficulties for live viewers because of buffering problems.

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Board member Vickie Turner said starting the school year with remote learning gives the district staff more time to prepare for the COVID-19 safety precautions that will be in place when students return to schools. To support remote learning, the district will be providing personal Chromebook computers to all elementary school students, which they did not previously have. The district also will replace devices for sixth- to 12th-grade students as needed so all students have a Chromebook to use at home. The distribution of those devices and other internet-supporting hardware will be staggered to promote social distancing. Watson-Harris said the devices will arrive around Aug. 25, so the first week of school will be for readjusting students to remote learning. According to the reopening guidelines, the district will conduct training for teachers and students for the software the district will use during virtual learning, such as Microsoft Teams for video lessons. Teachers will have more modules and training on social and emotional help for children, such as mental health and implicit biases, according to the guidelines. Counselors and support staff will also be able to check in with students virtually and hold classroom guidance sessions. Meal distribution via bus routes or curbside pickup will continue during remote learning. Watson-Harris said the district plans to continue to pay all employees, though some staff members have different roles during remote learning.

Back to brick-and-mortar

When students do return to the buildings, all teachers and staff will be required to wear masks, which will be provided if they don’t have one, according to the presentation. Bus drivers will also wear masks, and the district is still researching how to social distance during bus rides. Board members discussed specific questions about how the schools will enact and enforce COVID-19 safety guidelines, such as student use of water fountains, temperature checks before the school day, and sanitizing buildings. The presentation of the guidelines did not answer all their questions, but staff said they will continue to work out the details as students and teachers do remote working. School maintenance will work in staggered shifts and put plastic dividers at receptionist counters and media center checkouts. Hand sanitizer will be placed at different locations around the school. DCSD Chief Operations Officer Noel Maloof said the district is bolstering supply chains for cleaning and disinfecting materials and will provide technical assistance for school sanitation.



| 13



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14 | Public Safety ■

Police need better accountability and transparency, some residents say BY ERIN SCHILLING

With the city possibly facing four lawsuits and a handful of complaints alleging sexual harassment against a former high-ranking police officer, some residents think more could have been done to investigate the claims and worry about the transparency in handling them. Former Dunwoody Police Lt. Fidel Espinoza, a founding Dunwoody officer popular in the community, resigned in May because of the sexual harassment complaints against him. Police Chief Billy Grogan published a 146-page report to investigate the claims, which included text messages between Espinoza and fellow officers. He concluded that Espinoza did send sexually explicit photos and messages but did not harass or coerce other officers. Resident Wayne Radloff said that once he got over the shock of the allegations against Espinoza, he believes the situation shows a lack of accountability in the police department. “I think for too long our police department has had free rein, almost what I would call a blank check, and they need to be held accountable,” said Radloff, who was recently appointed to the city’s Charter Commission. “While I like the chief’s report, and it’s comprehensive, it begs other questions.” Radloff and former City Councilmember and state representative Tom Taylor said they wondered about allegations of sexually explicit messages being sent on city-issued cell phones while officers were on the clock. Taylor said he worried the complaints showcase a pattern of behavior in the department. “I don’t know where it goes,” said Taylor. “It could end here or end further. My concern as a taxpayer is that lawsuits get expensive.” He noted that COVID-19 shutdowns are already affecting the city’s budget.

A second investigation

Radloff said another investigation should be conducted by someone outside the police department, such as the city manager, the city Board of Ethics or an outside organization. Taylor and former City Councilmember Terry Nall, who ran for mayor last year, agreed that an internal investigation was a good start, but an external investigation may be warranted. “Even if you believe no stone is left unturned, a second opinion about the investigation into the claims might be helpful in ensuring the public that no stone was left unturned,” said Nall, who complimented the thoroughness of Grogan’s report. Resident Joe Hirsch said he thought the first internal investigation was a waste of time. “You don’t ask someone who’s being accused of a crime to investigate himself,” Hirsch said. “[Grogan’s] named in the lawsuit. Why is he investigating himself? That

makes zero sense.” Lydia Singleton-Wells, who has led two local protests about racism and police brutality, said she appreciated the investigation but didn’t agree with Grogan’s findings. “Anytime there is a person in authority who has made any type of sexual advances toward anyone who works for them, then that’s completely and utterly inappropriate,” said Singleton-Wells. Whether or not the messages constitutes sexual harassment, the residents said, they agreed the conduct was inappropriate. Taylor said he would have fired Espinoza. Espinoza’s Georgia Peace Officer Standard and Training Council record, which tracks criminal records or sanctions on police officers, does not note the lawsuit, complaints or investigation. His record says that he “voluntarily” resigned from the department. Taylor, Nall and Hirsch said they worry about that lack of a record. “It’s a black eye on our police department to let someone resign without indicating that he was under investigation,” Hirsch said.

Leadership concerns

Under Dunwoody’s government structure, the police chief reports to the city manager, who reports to the mayor and council. Taylor said there should be a more transparent way that the city leadership reviews and establishes police policy. Hirsch said the mayor and council didn’t seem to be aware of these problems before the lawsuit but needed to be. Radloff said it may be time for new leadership in the police department, citing a lack of diversity in the command staff. “Now, am I singling out anyone that should be fired? No,” Radloff said. “But this is pretty embarrassing.” When Grogan released the report publicly on July 2, Mayor Lynn Deutsch put out a statement that called the investigation “thorough” and the report “comprehensive.” “The report speaks for itself,” Deutsch said in the statement. “The report’s release is an example of the city of Dunwoody’s commitment to provide the public with as much information as possible to promote accountability and trust in government related to all matters.” Taylor said the report only came after the public already knew about the allegations because of media outlets rather than from city leadership. Though Taylor said he understands the mayor and council cannot discuss pending litigation, he would have liked a statement before the news reports. Hirsch said the mayor and council should ignore legal advice and speak on the litigation anyway for full transparency to the public. He said the city isn’t living up to its promises of transparency. “When the city’s police department constitutes a third of our city’s budget, they

should be speaking about it,” Hirsch said. “And there’s nothing actually preventing them from speaking about it.” Nall said the mayor and council could have told the public they were aware and discussing the lawsuit and allegations, but

otherwise have handled everything well so far. “I know that the police chief and the city manager will do the right things because they value a human-resources approach to how the employees are treated,” Nall said.

‘Officer of the Year’ joins harassment complaints Continued from page 1 DPD Chief Billy Grogan on July 2 issued an investigative report about two of the other formal complaints, dismissing their key allegations about harassment. That report also detailed Castellanos’s complaints, apparently based on an earlier version sent in May to Grogan that did not include an intent-to-sue declaration. In the report, Grogan acknowledged that Espinoza engaged in improper sending and receiving of sexual images, but that Castellanos never told Espinoza to stop such practices and did not connect them to any coercion about favorable treatment. Castellanos last year was named DPD’s “Officer the Year” for 2018 for an incident where he pursued shoplifting suspects who rammed his vehicle with theirs. His complaint alleges that Espinoza began harassing him within six months of his January 2017 hiring and continued doing so up to Espinoza’s resignation in May of this year. “Officer Castellanos for the last several years has been subject to blatant sexual harassment and unnecessary turmoil from Fidel,” the intent-to-sue notice says, adding that there is evidence of harassment of other officers. “To say this has affected his job as a police officer is an understatement. Fidel was Officer Castellanos’ superior and for one’s superior to act in such a manner would make anyone fearful of coming forward.” “One of the more outrageous incidents of Fidel occured in April of 2018 when Fidel took a photo of Officer Castellanos over a bathroom stall while Officer Castellanos was going to the restroom,” the complaint says. Grogan’s investigative report that mentioned Castellanos’s complaints included screenshots of many text messages between Castellanos and Espinoza. Those texts included the urinal photo. Other photos sent by Espinoza show his crotch covered with clothing, including in what appeared to be his police uniform. The messages included repeated demands to see photos of a “turtle” — his slang for “penis” — and explicit references to masturbation and other sexual activity. In the screenshotted messages, Espinoza frequently mingled talk of off-duty jobs and sexual activity. “Let me tell you something. I need to see you or at least talk or text you every day or else,” one of the messages reads. He complained to Castellanos in another message, “…the only reason that you’re nice to me is because you want my extra jobs.”

“Do me a favor your first text message to me should start out with at least hello or how are you so that I know that you’re remotely interested and [sic] how I’m doing as opposed to filling your pockets with money,” reads another text from Espinoza to Castellanos, which he soon followed with what appears to be a photo of his penis. In a follow-up message, he said, “Delete that [expletive] before the wifey breaks into your phone again. Lol.” The messages also include some sexual jokes. “We keep this up and one of us is gonna get hard and it’s gonna get weird. I’m gonna join the #metoo movement,” Espinoza wrote in one. In another, he sent a photograph of a drawer containing a handgun and condoms with the phrase, “I wonder which will expire first. The Trojans or the ammo?”

Other complaints and lawsuit

Castellanos’s complaint joins others that include various city and DPD officials, all revolving around alleged harassment by Espinoza. Once a popular DPD representative with the public and officials, Espinoza resigned in May as a result of the accusations and amid an internal investigation, according to Grogan. One complainant, former officer Roger Halstead, has already filed a lawsuit alleging that Espinoza sexually harassed him and demanded sexual materials in exchange for work benefits, then arranged for a retaliatory firing and blackballing by other departments. Two other complainants have filed notices of intent to sue. Civilian transport officer Brian Bolden claims Espinoza bullied and sexually harassed him and falsely accused him of theft; and former officer Austin Handle claims he was targeted with false accusations and harassment. Grogan’s report dismissed the bulk of the claims by Bolden and Halstead, while acknowledging that Espinoza engaged in improper sending and receiving of sexual messages and that Bolden was wrongly accused of theft. The city has not publicly commented on Handle’s claims, which Boettcher said will be addressed by the city’s attorney. Halstead’s lawsuit filing contains an undated complaint from yet another officer who made accusations against Espinoza. That complaint included an allegation that Espinoza made a sexual comment when the officer expressed interest in a new position. The lawsuit alleges that DPD dismissed that complaint. DUN


Public Safety | 15

Harassment scandal shows gaps in what goes onto police officers’ permanent records BY ERIN SCHILLING

year out of the state’s about 59,000 police officers.

Local records

The official state law enforcement record for former Dunwoody Police Lt. Fidel EsEspinoza’s record shows he voluntarily resigned. Powell said POST has a copy of pinoza includes a driving under the influence arrest from more than 20 years ago. Grogan’s investigative report into some of the allegations against Espinoza, which But the record says nothing about sexual harassment allegations that led Espinoza cleared him of harassment while confirming misconduct in exchanging sexual mesto resign in May -- and won’t even if Espinoza and city lose a pending lawsuit about sages -- but will not put it on his record. Even if the city loses a lawsuit alleging sexuthem. al harassment, it would not go on Espinoza’s POST record. Due to a largely self-reported process and details of state laws, Espinoza has a DUI on his POST record from 1996 when he was there can be such variations in what misconduct and sanctions do or employed with the Carrollton Police Department. He served a twodon’t appear on an officer’s permanent, public record with the Georyear probation, and the investigation into the arrest and sanction will gia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. stay on his record. Such variations can be seen in the POST records for some current Sgt. Robert Parsons, who currently works as a DPD spokesperson, Dunwoody Police Department officers who have been suspended for was arrested by the Georgia Department of Public Safety on July 5, misconduct. One officer’s 2018 DUI arrest is on his POST record. But 2018 on a DUI charge while off duty, which also resulted in a POST inanother officer’s POST record is silent about an incident where his vestigation, a two-year probation and a required alcohol assessment, department-issued gun was used by a child to shoot another child. according to his POST record. He is still on probation. POST records include information about the circumstances under Parsons did not respond to requests for comment. which an officer leaves a police department. DPD Chief Billy Grogan Parsons’ record indicates he admitted to “reckless driving” instead has said that Espinoza resigned shortly after being informed of the of a DUI, but he received the same POST sanctions as a DUI. Grogan sexual harassment allegations against him. Espinoza’s POST record said Parsons was suspended for five days and was not able to apply lists him as having voluntarily resigned. for promotion for one year after his conviction. Roger Halstead, a former police officer who is suing the city over DPD Lt. Sean Lenahan faced a department policy violation investiSPECIAL alleged harassment by Espinoza, complained about that in his lawFormer Dunwoody Police gation in April 2019 when a child obtained his department-issued gun Lt. Fidel Espinoza. suit. Halstead’s lawsuit says Grogan should have suspended Espinoand accidentally shot his brother in the leg, according to an internal za pending an investigation; if Espinoza had resigned pending an investigation, that affairs investigation. status would have gone onto the POST record. Halstead also has pointed to the curLenahan left an unsecured Glock 43 gun in his girlfriend’s bedroom nightstand rent officers’ DUI and shooting incident as examples of hidden misconduct in DPD. drawer in Jefferson, Georgia, because he forgot it while going to work, according to POST is a state organization that authorizes police officers to have law enforcean internal affairs investigation. ment certifications and keeps records of officers’ police employment history, trainHis girlfriend’s children took the gun, and one of the boys told Jefferson police it ing, sanctions and investigations. accidentally went off, shooting his brother, who had to go to the hospital, according POST spokesperson Ryan Powell said it’s up to individual officers and departto a Jefferson Police Department report. ments to self- report if an officer has violated department policy or has been arrestThe police did not arrest Lenahan and recorded the incident as “reckless conduct” ed. POST will investigate the officer’s conduct and decide on a sanction, which could on the incident report. Lenahan could not be reached for comment. be as severe as revoking their law enforcement certification. Lenahan was suspended by DPD without pay for three days because of the inci-

POST records

If an officer is arrested, fired or suspended for 30 days or more, they are required to tell POST. POST records also note whether an officer resigned voluntarily, resigned under investigation, or resigned in lieu of dismissal. POST investigates all arrests and some department violations if they result in a 30day suspension or termination. Sanctions less than that do not have to be reported. If a person is convicted of a felony, they cannot have a law enforcement certification under state law. Committing other crimes such as theft or lying in an official capacity are also “career-enders,” Powell said, but other types of misconduct are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If a person has misdemeanor convictions on their record, POST will evaluate the crimes and the length of time it has been since the crime before deciding whether a person can get a law enforcement certification. Powell said DUI arrests have a standard sanction. If the officer got a DUI while not on duty or in uniform, they will have a two-year probation and have to take an alcohol risk assessment. A probation means the officer cannot get in “any further trouble” or their certification will be revoked, Powell said. If they were on duty or in a state-owned vehicle during the DUI arrest, their law enforcement certification will typically also be revoked, Powell said. Lawsuits or unsubstantiated complaints do not have to be reported and will not go onto a POST record. Powell said POST has no way to audit whether all officers and departments have self-reported police arrests or police violations. “If we don’t know about it, there’s not much we can do,” Powell said. “We have investigators throughout the state who kind of know what’s going on in their district. If we see a news article where somebody was arrested, we start inquiring about it at that point.” Powell said if POST finds out an officer is arrested but hasn’t reported it, they would get an additional probation for failing to report it. “That’s not a perfect system,” Powell said. “I don’t know that there is a perfect system, but I think we get it right a lot better than some states.” The public can file an open records request to obtain POST records if they want to know if a police officer was investigated or sanctioned by POST. Powell said POST typically revokes about 550 law enforcement certifications per DUN

dent due to a policy violation regarding the safe storage of department-issued weapons, according to the internal affairs report. Grogan said Lenahan also was not able to get a promotion for one year. Lenahan received a “needs improvement” on his 2019 performance evaluation, in part because of the incident in Jefferson. His POST record does not indicate the incident or suspension because it did not meet the reporting thresholds.



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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.


Professor was wrong about racism in Dunwoody cityhood In response to the article titled “How race and racism shaped growth and cityhood in north metro Atlanta”: Retired history professor Ronald Bayor suggests, without evidence or even due diligence, that the city of Dunwoody incorporation movement was motivated by racism. That is a terrible mischaracterization and attributes a serious character flaw to the founders who worked to create the city. Our drive for cityhood was fueled by a large county that had become unresponsive and dysfunctional at virtually every level. What drove us was a desire to control zoning decisions that impacted our neighborhoods and schools. What drove us was the need to ensure adequate police protection. What drove us was the county’s unwillingness to repave badly deteriorated streets or install sidewalks. What drove us was a desire to invest tax dollars to create much needed green space and parks. In short, what drove us was what drives every new government creation, the desire to improve our community and control our own destiny, thus enhancing the quality of life for all of our citizens. It is true that DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones’ arrogance and antagonism helped galvanize a community that is generally reluctant to embrace change, but race was not the issue. Longstanding county government incompetence was the issue. That incompetence included the White, Republican county commissioner at the time, who ended up serving jail time for corruption. It is also worth noting that at the time of incorporation in

2009, Dunwoody had long since ceased to be a Whites-only enclave. Dunwoody was 17% Black, 17% Hispanic, 12% Asian, 51% White non-Hispanic and 3% multiracial. Racial and ethnic diversity was and is a driving force of Dunwoody’s success and the founders were all looking for that to continue. The founders of the city of Dunwoody helped pave the way and map a path to success for other neglected multiracial DeKalb communities to follow suit in forming new cities. These new cities include Brookhaven (14.4% Hispanic, 9.76% Black, 6.3% Asian, 7.46% multiracial, 56.9% White non-Hispanic), Tucker (57.8% White non-Hispanic, 22.3% Black and 10.6% Hispanic), and Stonecrest (92.6% Black, 3.5% White non-Hispanic, and 1.9% Hispanic). To ascribe racist motives to our deep commitment to improve our community wounds us deeply and taints our sacrifices to achieve a stronger community. Ken Wright, founding Dunwoody mayor Robert Wittenstein, founding Dunwoody City Council Danny Ross, founding Dunwoody City Council Tom Taylor, founding Dunwoody City Council Dennis Shortal, founding Dunwoody City Council

John Heneghan, founding Dunwoody City Council and current mayor pro tempore



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

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 DUN

Commentary | 19

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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20 | Community ■

Rotating art installations to replace iconic ‘Everything Will Be OK’ mural BY ERIN SCHILLING

Class of 2020 Congratulations Class of 2020 on your outstanding high school acceptances! 3110-A Ashford Dunwoody Rd. Brookhaven, GA 30319 404.237.4260

The iconic “Everything Will Be OK” mural will be replaced sometime this year in favor of rotating, outdoor art installations. After the mural’s 10-year stint on the side of the Spruill Gallery smokehouse building at 4681 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, the Spruill Center for the Arts is beginning an annual, outdoor art award that will display pieces from a different local, state or national artist each year. The pieces will be unveiled each October during Dunwoody’s Art and Culture Month. The black-and-white “Everything Will Be OK” mural became the unofficial slogan for the recently incorporated city of Dunwoody when artist Jason Scott Kofke created it in 2009. The announcement of the outdoor art contest comes a few months after Kofke got into a copyright dispute with the center about using his design as yard signs for a pandemic fundraiser. Spruill Center for the Arts CEO Alan Mothner said the mural will be moved somewhere else in the city, either in a public or commercial area, though an

exact location hasn’t been picked as of press time. The arts center was set to accept art submissions until Aug. 8 and will announce the winner of the “Amplify: Spruill’s Annual Outdoor Art Installation” contest on Sept. 8. The artist will create the piece from Oct. 4-10. The artist will receive a $5,000 grant for the project and up to $1,000 for supplies, said Alan Mothner, the arts center’s CEO. The winner will also become the Dunwoody Artist in Residence for a week, according to the press release. Through a partnership with the Residence Inn by Marriott, the arts center will provide the artist with a welcome package featuring free meals and drinks from local restaurants. “We don’t know what form it will take,” Mothner said. “We didn’t want to limit the creativity of the applicant, so we kept it pretty broad. It doesn’t have to be a mural.” Mothner said the center has been discussing changing the artwork for a while and decided that October would be a perfect month, in part as a precursor to the annual Spruill Gallery Holiday Artist Market, which is the center’s biggest event. The Spruill Arts Center previously removed the “Everything Will Be OK” sign to make room for new artwork, but public outcry always brought back Kofke’s mural in a recreated form, according to the arts center’s website. The mural is part of Kofke’s ongoing street art project that puts simple, “Everything Will Be OK” block lettering in public spaces in order to contrast messages of authority, he previously told The Reporter. His Spruill Gallery mural was created with the context of the global financial crisis, Kofke said. During the current public health crisis, Kofke is using the “Everything Will Be OK” messaging in other cities to do fundraisers, such as a large wall sign in Chicago similar to Dunwoody’s version. The arts center and CREATE Dunwoody, which are both art nonprofits, created a yard sign version of the mural in order to fundraise for artists affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in late March. However, Kofke said the yard signs infringed on his intellectual property, and the center worked to resolve the issue with him. The fundraiser raised $40,000 in the two weeks before stopping the sales. Mothner said the large Dunwoody mural helped Kofke’s rise to prominence, and he hopes to give new artists similar opportunities. The gallery will also print limited edition versions of the artwork to put on sale, and Mothner said he hopes the annual prints will become Dunwoody collector items. “I hope the new artwork becomes something the city really looks forward to each year,” Mothner said. DUN


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 panContinued on page 22

A new life awaits in Asheville

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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. DUN



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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

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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. DUN

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.

SERVICES AVAILABLE Property Home Tending by Charles - On the Market or Just Away - regular inspections of unoccupied property. Call 404-229-0490. Driveways and Walkways - Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repaired, waterproofing or retaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576. Best Rate Painting - We beat all estimates!! Roomas as low as $175.00, Exterior as low as $1,750.00. 25 years’ experience. Free estimates and NO money down. 10% off with this ad. Call 404-434-8941. or visit

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