August 2020 - Sandy Springs Reporter

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AUGUST 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 8

Sandy Springs Reporter COMMENTARY

Racial justice means talking and remembering





P 21-29

Making a Splash

Weekend getaways

Gentrification, segregation discussed by residents in racial talks




New leader of Conservancy helms park expansions

The Trust for Public Land took the lead in the Chattahoochee RiverLands project, which the study said would create an uninterrupted public trail that would have up to 44 tributary trails linking cities and neighborhoods to the river from 25 trailheads. More than 100 miles of water trails could be reached from 43 water access points according to the proposal, released on July 20.

Participants in two of Sandy Springs’ Civic Dinners on Inclusion and Diversity see problems with gentrification and social segregation that contribute to social injustice. But they also have hope in the city’s future, especially with efforts like the community discourse they had joined. Mayor Rusty Paul proposed inviting city residents from all walks of life, ethnicity and socio-economic status to join in small discussions about inclusion and diversity. He brought the idea to the City Council on June 2 after Rabbi Brad Levenberg of the local Temple Sinai and chair of the Sandy Springs Interfaith Clergy Association asked him to have the city host a town hall meeting on racism and social injustice. The global pandemic prevented any inperson gatherings. That led to the city using the Civic Dinners, an online platform for civic groups or agencies to organize and schedule virtual discussion groups. The company shifted its idea to host these discussions over a meal to virtual meetings only during the pandemic. More than 260 Sandy Springs residents had registered for 36 Civic Dinners on “Inclusion and Belonging” as of July 27, with 20 discussion sessions completed. At least 16 sessions remained open to registration through Aug. 26 at In each session, as many as eight residents, including a host, join a virtual meeting scheduled through the Civic Dinners

See RIVER on page 14




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Brothers Lance and Alden McKenzie, ages 6 and 7, cool off in the splash pad at City Green park on July 26. The park remained the only part of City Springs open for full public access as a COVID-19 surge in July rolled back reopening plans.

River study calls for 100-mile trail, local connections BOB PEPALIS A group of public and private organizations have proposed creating a 100-mile continuous public space along the Chattahoochee River from Buford Dam to Chattahoochee Bend State Park, traveling through seven counties and connecting 19 cities including Sandy Springs and Buckhead with public trails, parks and related amenities.

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2 | Community ■

Fulton County Schools to reopen remotely, shift to in-person BY BOB PEPALIS Fulton County Schools plans to reopen with universal remote instruction, then gradually shift to face-to-face instruction once the county’s new COVID-19 diagnosis rate is less than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents. Students return to the virtual classroom on Aug. 17. High school students who will have a regular schedule of classes online, while lower grades will have 90 minutes of online time, Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones told the Fulton County Board of Education at its July 23 meeting. “We will use data to drive our decisions to the fullest extent possible,” Superintendent Mike Looney said. Whenever the school district returns to face-to-face instruction, a remote learning option will be offered through the student’s local school. After Labor Day, if the pandemic data supports it, the school district will move to Phase I of universal remote, Looney said. Students in all grades would have the opportunity to SPECIAL meet with their teachers once per week for 90 Superintendent Mike Looney. minutes in face-to-face sessions set up by appointment. Those sessions may be one-on-one or with very small groups working on a common problem. The sessions would be in addition to regular online sessions. Students in these phases will be required to wear face masks while in the school building and will have their temperature and health screened upon entering. Bus

routes are being planned to transport children to and from schools during these reopening phases, Looney said. Phase II of the reopening plan only begins after three consecutive declines in the new diagnosis rate, or if the Fulton County overall rate is less than 175 cases per 100,000 people. In that phase, students can attend in person for a half-day once per week. Phase III increases the face-to-face instruction to a full day once per week, once the diagnosis rate is less than 150 cases per 100,000 people. Students not attending the in-person sessions will have assigned coursework to complete independently. Phase IV can take effect when the diagnosis rate drops below 125 cases per 100,000 people. At that phase, the school district begins to transition to its eventual goal of face-to-face instruction with two full days of classroom attendance by students on either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. The ultimate goal of returning to district-wide face-to-face instruction can only happen if the new diagnosis rate falls below 100 cases per 100,000 residents. All students can then return to the classroom five days per week for instruction. During universal remote learning, students’ grades will reflect their knowledge, not their effort, Jones said. Teachers will be required to give them one graded activity per week. For pre-K students, progress will be marked by a narrative summary of their works. Kindergarten through second grade will use the normal K-first grade scale, with “satisfactory,” “needs improvement,” “unsatisfactory” and “incomplete.” For grades three through 12e, letters grades will be issued, with numeric grades on report cards and transcripts.

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Mayor Rusty Paul is calling for rental property management companies in the city to find ways to keep tenants who are struggling with finances during the pandemic in their homes. “We are seeing record numbers of individuals and families in need of financial assistance to keep the lights on and food on the table. We have neighbors in need,” Paul said in the message, which was sent to rental property management firms. He suggested eliminating late fees for rents. In the message, which was also circulated on social media and to the press, Paul said COVID-19’s effects extend beyond the physical and emotional health and into an adverse economic impact. The business closures and job cuts hit SPECIAL Mayor Rusty Paul. city residents in lower economic tiers to create hardship he said no one could have predicted. “It is a vicious cycle for those struggling to earn a weekly paycheck, feed their families, pay rent, and have penalties on top of the consequences imposed by COVID,” Paul said. City spokesperson Sharon Kraun said city staff is making sure all multifamily residential properties receive a copy of the message. Community Assistance Center, a local nonprofit that helps people at risk of homelessness, has been working on rental assistance programs and recently received $100,000 in federal money through a city-obtained federal grant. Earlier in the pandemic, the city gave $25,000 of its own funds to the CAC, but on the condition it not be used for rent subsidies. Buckhead Christian Ministry, another nonprofit that offers rent support, has said it faces skyrocketing demand as well. Most eviction hearings, including in Fulton County, are effectively on hold until at least later this summer due to pandemic shutdowns of the courts. A moratorium on evictions from some federally subsidized housing programs continues through July 25. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently ordered the extension through Aug. 31 of a moratorium on evictions and filings for tenants in city-subsidized housing. — John Ruch contributed SS



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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

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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.

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 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.” Mayer’s memorial is one of four ghost bikes placed in Sandy Springs since Matthews SS


Community | 5

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 | Community ■

City Council restricts length, sets deadline for public comments BY BOB PEPALIS Faced with dozens of residents wanting to weigh in about a possible maskwearing mandate and other issues, the City Council July 21 changed its policy to limit public comments and require they

be submitted ahead of time. The move drew objections from some of the residents observing the virtual council meeting. The council now will require people to submit comments by noon on the day

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of the meeting. The comments will not be heard during a meeting and will only be made public when a meeting summary gets posted a few days later. Residents can post public comments via the city’s website using a public comment form. Councilmember Tibby DeJulio proposed the changes to the public comment policy during a meeting held virtually because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in Fulton County and the city. City Clerk Raquel Gonzalez told Councilmember Andy Bauman that 53 public comments had been submitted for the meeting. The old policy allowed comment submissions up until the start of the meeting. Bauman said with the council’s 3-minute rule for each comment, if members had to hear all the comments, they would be in their meeting all night. “It is a lot of comments, but I hope we can acknowledge some unease with what we are doing here tonight,” Bauman said. “I don’t know if there’s a great solution other than start digging into the comments.” As the council discussed the public comment policy, residents watching the meeting on a Facebook livestream took

issue with what they were proposing. “I am VERY disappointed in this city council and their decision not to make the public comments heard tonight. Since mask wearing is on the agenda, how will you know what your constituents are thinking?” Donna Smith Aronson asked in the Facebook comments. “A friendly reminder that Atlanta City Council listened to over 1,000 public comments earlier this month. I do wonder if, in the future, when we’re able to have public comments in person again, we’ll be similarly dismissed when there are more than the council is willing to listen to,” said Brit DeRosa in the Facebook comments. Georgia’s Open Meetings Act does not require that cities take public comment, according to the website of the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, which oversees the law. “The OMA does not grant a right to speak at meetings. The OMA does grant a right to attend meetings. It is the local government’s choice about whether to allow public comment at open meetings,” the Attorney General’s Office said in its FAQs on the Open Meetings and Open Records acts. DeJulio’s motion also required that all public comments be reduced to the written word, typed and no more than two pages long. Gonzalez told the City Council she had combined all of the July 21 comments into a single, compressed folder about 15 minutes before the meeting and emailed that to them. More comments arrived after her email, she said. “It’s a balancing act, if comments are germane to actions that are being considered tonight,” Bauman said. “We don’t want the city clerk to interpret the comments. They should be given us to just as they are received,” DeJulio said. The new policy only applies to virtual public meetings and does not apply to public hearings, which have their own set of rules. Gonzalez said a quick review of subject lines for the night’s public comments showed many dealt with face masks and a possible mandate. Board of Appeals meetings, sidewalks and cable TV service also were topics. City Attorney Dan Lee said the city is not required to have public comment. But when it does open public comment, it cannot restrict what is said or the topics discussed. “What you do for one, you have to do for all,” Lee said. SS


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

Sandy Springs founder joins privatized city-state project in Honduras



tion around the world than we have


The chief architect of founding Sandy Springs as a largely outsourced government has revealed his even more ambitious privatization plan: helping to create a new Caribbean island “citystate” called Próspera. Inspired by such independent cities as Hong Kong and Singapore, Próspera is rising on the island of Roatán in Honduras, with funding from a venture capital firm and oversight by a corporate-appointed council that signs con-


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The founding company is Washington, D.C.-based NeWay Capital, which

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did not respond to a comment request. Porter said NeWay is the first compa-

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ny authorized to establish such a city under Honduras’s recently established program of Zones of Economic Development and Employment, or ZEDEs. “We’re the only one that has been authorized to do it,” Porter said. “And they are basically zones within the country

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that are virtually autonomous, but they are still Honduran, and we have to emphasize that. We’re not actually a separate country. But it has many attributes that are country-like, such as our own laws, our own taxation, customs agree-

They looked to Sandy Springs as the basis for how they would run the city, by contract, would be surprised at Sandy Springs’ international reputation. We’re known all over the world. … We have a better reputation around the world than we have here.

ments. Our own property registry. It


a year and was likely temporary, the

tracts with all residents and businesses. Oliver Porter got involved because of his role in the founding of Sandy Springs and now sits on the council. “They looked to Sandy Springs as the basis for how they would run the city, by contract,” said Porter in a phone interview, adding that “ would be surprised at Sandy Springs’ international reputation. We’re known all over the world. … We have a better reputaSS

goes on and on.” At its 2005 founding, Sandy Springs

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drew international media attention for

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a “public-private partnership” model of

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subcontracting almost all city services

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besides the police department. Because

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the new city had only months to start operations under state law, hiring a private company to run everything was a start-up necessity, but the city attempted to make it a long-term virtue with the idea it would be more efficient. The model, which Porter advocated and directed as the first interim city manag-

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er, was particularly influential on other cities that incorporated in its wake, such as Brookhaven and Dunwoody. Last year, Sandy Springs made a dramatic turnaround in the model, bringing almost all services in-house instead, citing higher costs from private contractors. While Mayor Rusty Paul said the decision would be reviewed in with the purchase of 3 Bundtlets

city has stuck with the in-house model into the pandemic crisis. Próspera -- whose name means “prosperous” -- is a pilot program in what Porter said NeWay hopes is a new field of worldwide “contract cities” operating on an even more thorough privatization model than Sandy Springs. “This is a contract city,” said Porter. Continued on page 12

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12 | Community ■

Sandy Springs founder joins privatized city-state project in Honduras Continued from page 12 “Every individual citizen or resident and every business will have an individual contract with us. It will not be a typical city run by government bureaucracy.” An arbitration panel would decide most disputes between citizens and the government. As a selling point, Próspera offers “the lowest taxation in the developed world” -- 7.5% or less in combined property, income and sales taxes, Porter said. And it will attempt to minimize regulation while avoiding a “wild West scene,” he said. “We’re saying to businesses, if you want low taxation and you want good regulation, we’re the place to go.” When ZEDEs were first proposed several years ago, the concept drew criticism and concerns from some environmental and human rights organizations, which cited concerns about transparency, regulation and accountability of such private cities. Porter said he believes such criticisms are unfounded, as citizens would still have access to Honduran criminal and civil courts and the council’s actions would be public record. The Próspera ZEDE includes a provision of transitioning to a pub-

licly elected government when the population density reaches a certain level, he said. The founders already are working with neighboring residents on the island to provide new water service and a community center, to “be involved with the community, not to take it over,” he said. For now, Próspera is physically small, starting with 60 undeveloped and unpopulated acres, plus another small parcel nearby, though it is attempting to acquire much more land, including a nearby resort. Investors will make money through the built-out of the mixed-use city. Porter said there are about 60 commitments for single-family homes, and highrise apartments and condominiums are planned as well. A university and a medical clinic have committed to joining the project, he said. The concept is to expand on the business side with “clean industries” like medical research, finance and technology, he said. Porter said that he and his family might make a second home in Próspera, but he will remain a resident of Sandy Springs.



Community | 13

Gentrification, segregation discussed by residents in racial talks Continued from page 1 platform. The host leads the discussion and a member of the city’s staff takes notes on the main issues and topics participants find important, keeping the comments anonymous. Those comments will be compiled by staff for the City Council to consider for action or future policies. The Reporter covered two of the meetings hosted by City Clerk Raquel Gonzalez and Performing Arts Center Executive Director Shaun Albrechtson with the promise of anonymity for participants who do not work for city government. In the two virtual discussions, seven local residents and two hosts from the city took part in a discussion of inclusion and diversity, answering the same three questions asked in every meeting. In the comments below, participants are identified by a letter instead of using their names.

Racist overtones in cityhood R, a White retiree in the city, said the reasons she heard some people gave to support forming cities in north Fulton had roots in racial issues. “It was couched often in economics. We need to separate from the city [of Atlanta]. We needed to separate out from Fulton County. But underlying it were a lot of racial issues,” R said about Sandy Springs and other North Fulton communities that pushed for cityhood. The younger people now moving into the area tend to be more welcoming and inclusive, she said. But, she added, some longtime residents seem resentful of what’s happening.

Affordability and gentrification The original concept of the city presented to R was that its future would be overwhelmingly single-family housing, she said. That’s unaffordable to anyone in diverse socio-economic groups, she said. “If you are not living in a single-family home you are not part of the community,” was a message she said she still hears. T, a younger White resident agreed with her take on the community, especially relating to single family housing vs. apartments. He said many people around his age would like to live in Sandy Springs, but the pressure to live in single-family homes instead of apartments makes them feel uncomfortable. Gonzalez said she and her family have experienced difficulty in finding an affordable home or an apartment in the city. “There were so many issues including gentrification that’s going on and the way SS

the city has handled gentrification in the past,” R said. Replacing apartment complexes with newer mixed-use properties will price them out of affordability for existing residents, she said. Proposals to redevelop four North End shopping centers along Roswell Road was in part to attract new shops to the area, though the city has said it intends to have mixed-income housing as well to avoid displacement. Many residents who attended a community meeting at City Hall on March 5 said they wanted North End redevelopment to have mixed-use developments and not have “poor-quality” retail. Only 4% of the attendees lived in an apartment on the North End, with 42% living in single-family homes in that part of the city. R said the reason given for the lack of quality shopping was that apartment dwellers weren’t the right people to support shopping. But she said near her home close to City Springs, a lot of retail space remains empty. “It doesn’t have anything to do with income level. It has to do with the Amazon truck,” R said. The city’s Next Ten Comprehensive Plan proposes more extensive areas of redevelopment, with property now occupied by apartment buildings designated for mixeduse or commercial mixed-use. The Next Ten plan suggests making the revitalization happen by “incentivizing mixed-used redevelopment of commercial centers and aging apartment complexes” in the North River, City Springs and Northwood/Prado areas.” Ronald Bayor, former Georgia Tech professor of history and sociology and author of “Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta,” previously said that displacement of minority communities to suit affluent White communities is part of the metro area’s pattern of systemic racism, and that Sandy Springs has seen it before.

Fear of the unknown For most residents, a fear of change seems to be the problem, T said. “Overall people in general tend to be a little bit more afraid of what we consider unknown,” T said. It’s not enough to acknowledge different people and cultures exist, he said, but also that different people have different experiences. “You fear what you don’t know,” E, a Black resident of neighboring Roswell whose work includes the city, said. “It’s almost a survival mechanism to make up a story about what you don’t know until you find someone that can prove it to be

wrong.” Though she experienced that fear firsthand after 9/11 as a Muslim suffering from portrayals by the media as a Muslim from the United States, S said things are still much better here. S grew up in Florida in a Muslim family in a very small town where people tended to be standoffish. But after she introduced

It was couched often in economics. We need to separate from the city [of Atlanta]. We needed to separate out from Fulton County. But underlying it were a lot of racial issues. R, A WHITE RETIREE IN THE CITY

herself and people got to know her, their attitudes toward her changed. S, a mother of seven, has lived in Saudi Arabia for several years, where she said people tend to stay in their own groups. It took her some time to get to know one of her neighbors who remained isolated because of this fear.

Inclusion K, a Black resident who was invited to join by a coworker said the discussion of inclusion, diversity and social injustice is nothing new. “It just raises its head again,” she said. K experienced problems growing up in the South in a Black family that was the first in their small community to have an interracial marriage. “Inclusion to me means bringing everybody to the table on equal terms, not excluding anyone for any particular reason, race, religion, anything along those lines. But making sure that everything is fair and equitable,” she said. Today, she said, she has an unexpected problem within the community.

“I would think that in 2020 that wouldn’t have been an issue, but I have not found a church base that I felt comfortable in,” she said.

‘Siloed’ groups E said we’ve always heard that the United States is a melting pot. “It’s not. It’s a very siloed group of different people,” she said. Different racial and ethnic groups stick together and don’t mix in their communities. When she and her husband lived in Los Angeles, she saw more of a melting pot because they’d see families with all kinds of nationalities in one family unit. G, another participant said five years ago he got a job that required regular travel to India. The White male in his late 20s made his first trip on his first day with the new company with no expectations. He admitted having almost no exposure to other cultures. He decided to pay attention only to the positives. “Because I realized at that point even what I may view as a negative is only based on my view of what negative is,” he said.

Hope for the future Gonzalez’s first job with the city as executive assistant to the city manager and her recent return March 9 as city clerk have shown her a change at City Hall, she said. She worked with the city manager for seven years before accepting a job as city clerk for Doraville in 2018. Initially she saw little diversity around the offices or at public meetings. As the city has become even more diverse, that has been changing. “I’ve been encouraged to see a real effort on behalf of the city to translate items or translate some publications, really do some footwork to get in and out of communities where the city has felt it didn’t have a lot of participation,” Gonzalez said. “We’re not there yet. But I think the demographics are changing. And with that change, and with that shift, we’re going to change,” R, the Sandy Springs retiree, said. “There’s too much to lose and too much to change not to change.” “We need a safe place in the community where people can come together and just meet each other without trying to change anybody’s mind,” S said. City leaders should bring together Black people who can explain the problems they are facing so everyone can learn how to make things better, several of the participants suggested. Having these conversations in the Civic Dinners program is a positive step, all the participants agreed.

14 | Community ■

River study calls for 100-mile trail, local connections Continued from page 1 The study can be downloaded at RiverLands proposals directly affect the Sandy Springs/Buckhead area, where the plan proposes trail connections and tributary trails. RiverLands would install pedestrian bridges near Roswell Road linking Sandy Springs to the main trail and Roswell’s Riverside Park. Another pedestrian bridge at Morgan Falls Overlook Park would connect it to Hyde Farm, linking the city to the trail in Cobb County. A Bull Sluice Lake kayak launch and Morgan Falls boat ramp would be two of the 43 water access points along the RiverLands trail. One of the proposed tributary trails would provide access to Sandy Springs and the North Springs MARTA Station and possibly to the planned PATH400 trail extension there. Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Riverwood International Charter School and Heards Ferry Elementary School would be some of the schools linked to the main trail via a tributary that would parallel I-285 and cross the river at Powers Ferry Bridge. The Trust for Public Land has done a good job preserving 18,000 acres of land and 80 miles of riverfront, said George Dusenbury, its executive director. But the organization realized its mission is to preserve land and to build parks. He said it has done a good job preserving land, but really “not done as good a job giving people access to the river.” To make the Chattahoochee River metro Atlanta’s public space, he said, it brought together the cities, counties, state and federal agencies and dozens of nonprofits working toward that common goal. Dusenbury said preliminary estimates of the cost to complete everything proposed for the RiverLands would be between $500 million and $750 million, with the project taking 20 to 25 years to complete.

The Great American Outdoors Act passed by Congress on July 23 and expected to be signed by President Trump into law would double the amount of funds available for parkland, he said, which is promising for RiverLands. Cities have begun to develop their own trails that could be part of the RiverLands trail or tributary trails connecting their communities to it. Johns Creek received tentative approval for a $3 million grant in February for its 200-acre Cauley Creek Park on the ChattaCHATTAHOOCHEE RIVERLANDS hoochee River between AbThe Chattahoochee RiverLands proposal includes a bridge connecting Morgan Falls botts Bridge ChattahoochOverlook Park to Hyde Farm, with tributary trails giving Sandy Springs residents ee River NRA and National river access from the Big Trees Forest Preserve and several nearby schools. Park Service land, the Georgia Department of Natural major partners in the Chattahoochee Rivercal impact or the environmental impact,” Resources (DNR) reported. Lands Greenway Study. The ChattahoochHodges said. “Of course, there are laws and The Trust for Public Land is a finalee National Park Conservancy served as a regulations on the book, such as the Metist for a $2.26 million grant for a 48-mile minor partner in the study, Phillip Hodges, ropolitan River Protection Act. Rules and long camp and paddle trail on the river, its board president, said. regulations will have to be followed.” It all Dusenbury said. The three rustic campHodges said the Chattahoochee River would be subject to U.S. National Park Sersites planned within the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area covers 48 miles vice approval as well, he said. NRA boundary will enable multi-day padof the 100 miles of trails proposed. To that end, Dusenbury said the Riverdling trips. “And the idea is to have this, something lands proposal does not state there will be a Both Johns Creek and the Trust for Pubpeople refer to it as a multimodal path for concrete trail. That question was left open. lic Land need to meet environmental, projwalking and bicycling,” he said. “You could The design is to have the trail support bicyect and budget reviews in the second levaccess it from many points, and it has side cles and walking, but it doesn’t have to be el of applications before they can receive trails to points of interest.” concrete. the grants. They will have 24 months after The proposal tries to follow the rivThe demonstration projects should be approval of their applications to complete er core as closely as possibly, “but as you completed in three to five years and a pilot their projects. would guess, that’s very difficult because of project in Cobb County that’s already headDusenbury said the Trust for Public different landholders,” Hodges said. ing into the design phase will show local Land previously raised $50 million for its At some sections the trail can come residents, public and private organizations Chattahoochee River land conservation down to the river, but in other places it goes what the features would look like. Riverwork. In 2021 they plan to launch a camaround some properties. Lands branding should be seen by visitors paign to raise a similar amount of money Three demonstration sites are proposed within five years also, Dusenbury said. for the Chattahoochee RiverLands project. to create a clearer picture of what the enThe Atlanta Regional Commission, the tire project would look like. city of Atlanta and Cobb County were other “They are very sensitive to the ecologi-

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16 | Commentary

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

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

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

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


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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IS THERE A SIMPLE WAY CLIENTS CAN ENSURE THEY ARE ALWAYS UNDER THE FIDUCIARY UMBRELLA? Ask your advisor to answer one question, in writing: “Will 100% of the recommendations you make to me in all of our business interaction be subject to the fiduciary legal standard?” Imagine how a “Yes” response can eliminate a myriad of concerns in the client-advisor relationship. This is the model we follow at Linscomb & Williams. Now in our 49th year of business, our experienced team is ready right now to meet and renew your confidence in a truly client-centered wealth management relationship, either virtually, or in person, from any of our locations.

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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 SS

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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Agreement could resolve Atlanta-Sandy Springs water utility dispute, attorney says BY BOB PEPALIS An intergovernmental agreement could resolve a dispute between the cities of Atlanta and Sandy Springs over local water utility service and rates, Sandy Springs’ city attorney said. The long-running dispute is headed into binding arbitration, possibly starting in September, as Mayor Rusty Paul previously revealed in his July 9 “State of the City” address. Most of the water system within the city is owned and operated by Atlanta. City Attorney Dan Lee said the dispute

Class of 2020

is boiling down to the lack of an intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, about

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how the system operates.

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be outside of your jurisdiction in an-

“The law is clear that you cannot other jurisdiction without an IGA,” Lee said. “The issue is whether Atlan-

ta can provide water service in Sandy Springs and if so, what is the appropriate charge for it.” “We do not find it appropriate to comment on pending litigation,” said Michael Smith, the press secretary for the Atlanta Mayor’s Office. Retired 11th Circuit Court Judge Stan Burch will decide the dispute over what the city claims is excessive water rates. Burch was appointed as special master to preside over the arbitration, Lee said. The judicial emergency created by COVID-19 has Burch planning to reschedule an August arbitration hearing to September. Paul said city residents pay $60 for 10,000 gallons of water, while in Roswell, residents pay $25 for the same amount of water from Fulton County. Lee told the City Council in 2018 that Atlanta’s rates were artificially inflated. The city had considered attempting to buy the system from Atlanta earlier that year. Paul said the law states customers can only be charged what it costs to bring the water to the faucet – and a surcharge. He said the source for the city’s water is a section of the Chattahoochee River that is much closer to the city than Atlanta, suggesting the cost should be lower. He said Atlanta repairs leaking pipes at times but has made no significant upgrade of the system in decades. Lee said Georgia law requires all cities and the county to agree via an IGA who will deliver what services, with renewals every 10 years. An expert hired by the city determined $80 million in restorations and additions are needed in the city, Lee said. That study was shared with Atlanta, he said. If Atlanta enters into an IGA to maintain the system and charge appropriate rates, the city would be glad to buy water from it, Lee and Paul said.



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 SS

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22 | Special Section ■

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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.

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▲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. SS



Special Section | 23

24 | Special Section ■

Imagine the Escape ...

Small Is Beautiful

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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


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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. SS

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.

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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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| 32

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