Brookhaven Reporter - August 2021

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Brookhaven Reporter | @reporter_news

AUGUST 2021 • VOL. 12 — NO. 8

Pets & their People


Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst with his Great Dane, Finn. See more photos of residents with their favorite animals on page 15. (Photo by Cameren E. Rogers)

Marco announces council bid


Become a citizen scientist


Restaurants grapple with worker shortage




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Contents August 2021

Editor’s Note 4 Sandy Springs Path400 grant


Buckhead Mayoral forum


Dunwoody Dunwoody Village


Brookhaven 15

Tax break


Council bid


Pets & their People Horse owners


Community pics


Commentary Worth Knowing


Education Spotlight student 14


Published by Springs Publishing P. O. BOX 9001 Atlanta, GA 31106 Phone: 404-917-2200

Editorial Editor Amy Wenk

Brookhaven Reporter | Buckhead Reporter Dunwoody Reporter | Sandy Springs Reporter

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Staff Writers Bob Pepalis, Sammie Purcell Contributors Allison Joyner, Carol Niemi, Cameren E. Rogers, John Ruch Creative and Production Creative Director Rico Figliolini


Restaurant labor


Quick bites


Head for the Hills


Business Realtors Association


Disco Kroger


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AUGUST 2021 | 3


Do your part for public safety BY AMY WENK

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Violent crime has spiked in cities across the country since the pandemic. Unfortunately, our communities are no exception. The number of homicides in the city of Atlanta is up more than 50% so far this year, compared to the same time period in 2019, according to the Atlanta Police Department. Public safety leaders are trying new tactics, but many have said that law enforcement can’t solve the problem alone. “It takes all of us to be partners in public safety,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said in June. DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox echoed his comments in a July radio interview. “We need your support,” she said. “We cannot do this alone. This is something that takes the community.” But how can residents really help? I wanted to know. So, I spoke with a team of Atlanta crime prevention officers, who work as liaisons between the police and the community, helping build rapport and offering tips and tools to keep people safe. “If we all don’t come together ... it’s never going to happen and it’s never going to last,” said Marguerita McMurray, a senior inspector with APD’s Crime Prevention Unit. “Crime is just out there right now, and it takes every individual … in order for us to combat crime as a team.” Here are some tips from our conversation:


1. Start or join a local patrol – Participation in Neighborhood Watch programs fell off during the pandemic, said Senior Inspector Sabrina Thomas. She encourages people to get to know their neighbors and look out for one another. “We wish more people would be involved,” she said. “The police department needs some eyes and ears.” There are also Business Watch programs for property owners, and some neighborhoods organize parent patrols to monitor kids at bus stops. Atlanta, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody offer information and training on watch programs. And there are volunteer policing groups, such as the Citizens on Patrol programs in Brookhaven, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody. Or get an up-close study of the police department by joining a Citizens Police Academy. 2. Keep an eye out – If you see something, say something. Call 911 if you witness a crime. Call 311 to report code enforcement issues such as abandoned vehicles, dilapidated properties or overgrown brush, where criminals could potentially hide. “If you don’t report it, we feel like you support it,” McMurray said.

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3. Be aware – While some people may feel more of a sense of “normalcy” this summer, it’s not time to drop your guard, said Inspector Jammie Tillman. Park your car in well-lit areas. If you are walking around, take a friend and stick to familiar areas. Walk in areas with bluelight police cameras, which capture video footage and read license plates. Use technology at your home, such as doorbell cameras. “I recommend residents take control of their own safety,” Tillman said. “Policing is a reactive tool. The community can be proactive.” 4. Keep a clean car - There’s an uptick of vehicle break-ins since the pandemic, Tillman said. Remove all valuable items from your car. Don’t leave guns in your car, or lock them up in a secure gun box. “Before you get to your destination, secure your items,” Tillman said, as potential thieves could be watching at parking locations to see if you put valuable items in the trunk, for example. 5. Inspect your home – Several cities including Atlanta and Sandy Springs offer free home security inspections. “You can deter a crime from someone breaking in by simply moving your furniture,” Thomas said. 6. Support youth – In Atlanta, it’s estimated that 10% of violent crimes are committed by youth under 16 years old. Often, kids turn to crime who don’t have other positive influences in their lives. Get involved in programs that help inspire the next generation, such as the Atlanta Police Athletic League. “When you give kids an outlet … and when you encourage them to see they have a purpose in their own community, it not only reduces crime, but it fosters good behaviors that will impact these youth for the rest of their lives,” Tillman said. Conveniently located on Peachtree Road adjacent to Oglethorpe University. 4 AUGUST 2021 | REPORTER NEWSPAPERS

7. Be kind – APD recently said that one solution to violent crime is “ensuring we, and our children, know how to properly handle conflict and anger.” If you get into an argument, be the one that walks away, Tillman said. “Don’t take matters into your own hands.” I hope these tips are helpful. Let’s do our part for public safety. BK

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AUGUST 2021 | 5


Federal grant could kickstart PATH400 trail in Sandy Springs

Food pantry in new location

BY BOB PEPALIS Sandy Springs has applied for a $9.3 million federal transportation grant, which if secured, would help fund about two miles of the PATH400 trail through the city. The trail segment would run along Ga. 400, from Loridans Drive (at the city of Atlanta limits) to the Glenridge Connector. It would provide a critical link to establishing a regional trail network, as PATH400 is proposed to one day extend south to the Atlanta Beltline and north to planned trail segments from the GDOT and Perimeter CID. Currently, PATH 400 has open trails through Buckhead. The city applied for the grant through the RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) program from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Surface transportation infrastructure projects that have a significant local or regional impact are eligible, said Caitlin Schankle, a transporta-


From left, Maria Bravo, Ashley Olague, Jennifer Barnes and Abbey Mixon.

A rendering of the proposed PATH400 trail through Sandy Springs. (Special/City of Sandy Springs) tion planner for the city. Sandy Springs should find out if it’s received the grant by Nov. 22.

The city already has the $2.3 million in matching funds required from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), Schankle said.

Solidarity Sandy Springs, which operates a food pantry to help families in need, has moved into a new location at the Parkside Shops shopping center. The food pantry is located at 5920 Roswell Road, Suite C-212. Atlanta developer Jamestown owns the center and donated the roughly 9,000-square-foot space to the organization. The food pantry will be housed there until the end of 2021. Then, the group hopes to open a permanent food pantry at a new branch of the Community Assistance Center on Northwood Drive, said Jennifer Barnes, one of the co-founders of Solidarity Sandy Springs, along with Erin Olivier and Sonia Simon. Solidarity Sandy Springs started in March 2020 to help feed families during the pandemic. BK

Thank You, Dunwoody! Thank You, Sponsors! After a challenging year, the 2021 Dunwoody 4th of July Parade was a huge success. Thank you to everybody who attended and to our wonderful sponsors who made this year’s event possible. Presented by:

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AUGUST 2021 | 7


Several mayoral candidates oppose Buckhead cityhood

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BY AMY WENK Five candidates running for Atlanta mayor at a July 21 forum spoke against Buckhead breaking off from Atlanta. It was just one of the topics during the Wednesday night forum, hosted by the Upper Westside Community Improvement District and Northwest Community Alliance. The candidates in attendance included former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, City Council President Felicia Moore, Councilmember Andre Dickens, Councilmember Antonio Brown, and attorney Sharon Gay. Other candidates have filed to run for mayor but weren’t at the event. Qualifying takes place Aug. 17-20. The Buckhead cityhood movement has ignited over the past year. A group called the Buckhead City Committee is calling for an independent city due to issues such as the recent spike of violent crime. The committee hopes, through the state legislature, to get a referendum on the 2022 ballot so Buckhead residents can vote whether to secede. “We have to restore the fractured relationship … If Atlanta breaks apart, our reputation as a ‘city too busy to hate’ falls apart with it,” Reed said, recalling the words of former Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. Reed said if a vote occurred today, he believes about 20 percent of Atlantans would volunteer to leave, taking with them 25% to 30% of the city’s revenue. “That’s never happened in the history of our city,” he said. Moore cited language used by cityhood leader Bill White, who has called for a “divorce” from the city of Atlanta. “You know, with divorce comes alimony,” she said. “It’s going to be a very expen-

sive endeavor. As they say, it’s cheaper to keep her.” Moore said the city needs a leader to unify the residents and to address crime and insufficient city services. Among her ideas, she said she’d work to boost morale among Atlanta police officers, attending roll calls to have face-to-face interactions. So far this year, there have been 8 homicides in police Zone 2, which covers neighborhoods including Buckhead, according to the most recent stats from the Atlanta Police Department. That’s up 33% from the same period of time in 2020, and 167% from 2019. “What we are hearing from Buckhead is that Buckhead wants to feel safe, and they want to feel heard,” Dickens said. If elected mayor, he’s proposing a plan to hire 250 officers in his first year, arrest gang leaders, create a strike force to go after illegal guns, and boost community policing efforts. “We can get through this together,” Dickens said. “This is just a crime spike and it’s not the new normal.” Brown said he supported the concerns of Buckhead residents but not the effort to break away. “I believe that Buckhead should have every right to have a voice and to be able to speak to their issues in the city of Atlanta,” he said. “But I believe that they should not be seceding from the city of Atlanta. I believe we should be working with Buckhead. We should be bridging the gap of communication.” Gay agreed in her statements. “They deserve to have their concerns heard. They have valid concerns … What I would do is show up. I would listen. I would respond to their concerns.”

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Railroad company Norfolk Southern’s objections have killed the Atlanta BeltLine Northeast Trail’s proposed route into southern Buckhead. A new alternative route, which is still under review, would have a tight spot forcing the light-rail transit part of the BeltLine to run on one track instead of two. The change also means that the Armour/Ottley commercial district, rather than being on the main BeltLine, would be on a spur trail that is a longer construction timeline. Atlanta BeltLine Inc., the organization building the 22-mile park, trail and transit loop around the city, unveiled the proposed new route at a July 15 virtual meeting. The proposal itself is still under review and would be at least three years away from a construction start. Read the full story on - JOHN RUCH










AUGUST 2021 | 9

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Back in August 2020, neighbors stood at the tree line they wanted to preserve between their residential neighborhood and a Dunwoody Village Overlay commercial area. (File Photo) BY SAMMIE PURCELL

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The Dunwoody Planning Commission has deferred a decision on the rezoning of two properties in the Dunwoody Village, giving members of the city’s homeowners association extra time to search for county records they say prove the reNOTES zoning would violate a zoning condition from the 1970s. “The records are there,” said Bob FisTMPL: cella, president of the Dunwoody HomePICKUP: owners Association, at a July 13 Planning MODIFIED BY Commission meeting. “We just have to CH AR 07-14-21 get to them.” On Nov. 30, 2020, the Dunwoody City APPROVAL Council approved a rezoning to remake the area known as Dunwoody Village – a of stores and shopping centers LAST MODIFIED: July 15, 2021collection 4:35 PM – into a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly spot. However, due to a dispute about the size of the buffer area between the Village and neighboring residences, the owner of one of those shopping centers – The Shops at Dunwoody at 5500 Chamblee Dunwoody Road – sued the city. The owner, Peachtree Shops of Dunwoody LLC, maintained that the buffer zone limited the available redevelopment area. Because of the lawsuit, the council removed The Shops of Dunwoody, along with an adjacent car wash that’s also part of the lawsuit, from the rezoning.


The main point of contention between the city and the property owners was a buffer of about 150 feet between the western property line of the Village and a subdivision called Dunwoody West. In order to resolve the lawsuit and get the rezoning in place to make headway on plans to revamp Dunwoody Village, the city is now recommending the space between the Village and the residences stay at about 150 feet, while offering a compromise to property owners. “We’re proposing a 35-foot minimum buffer, and … an additional 115 feet of mandatory open space,” said Planning and Zoning Manager Paul Leonhardt. He added that the open space could be something like a plaza or a green space area, but could not have any buildings. He said there are no immediate plans for development. In the 1970s, neighbors around the Dunwoody Village negotiated a 150-foot buffer with the developer at that time. At the meeting, Fiscella said the zoning condition would have to be met by any subsequent rezonings of the property. Fiscella asked the Planning Commission to defer their recommendation on the rezoning so the DHA could request records from DeKalb County. Read the full story at

Sidewalk project complete Dunwoody has completed a sidewalk project along Tilly Mill Road. The new 5-foot sidewalk is on the west side of Tilly Mill Road between North Peachtree Road and Womack Road. As part of the project, the road was also widened to accommodate a new 4-foot wide bicycle lane on both sides of the street. The city also replaced a short section of the sidewalk on the east side of Tilly Mill Road. The $1.6 million project was funded by local sales tax revenue. — SAMMIE PURCELL

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AUGUST 2021 | 11


Controversial $15M tax break for new development moves forward BY SAMMIE PURCELL

After conflict with DeKalb County’s Development Authority, a developer is moving forward with the city of Brookhaven on a $15 million tax abatement for a new, multi-use project. The Manor Druid Hills project, located at the intersection of Briarcliff and North Druid Hills roads, sits adjacent to the future Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta campus. The Brookhaven City Council annexed the 26-acre site for the development in October 2020. The developer, Related Group LLC, originally approached DeKalb County’s Development Authority, also known as Decide DeKalb for the tax abatement, which would amount to $15 million over 10 years. But after

considerable pushback from county officials and the school district, the developer withdrew the request. Related Group LLC has now approached the Brookhaven Development Authority, which on July 20 approved an inducement resolution for the project. That authorizes the authority to begin working on drafting a resolution to issue bonds. The developer has plans to replace the strip mall called Briarcliff Station with 382 multi-family apartments, about 55,000 square feet of medical office space, and a 140-room hotel. Twenty percent of the apartments will be affordable or workforce housing units. Read the full story at

Latino community leader to run for Brookhaven City Council

munity that I have seen grow stronger and closer together this past year,” Palma said. If elected, Palma would be the first Latino council member to represent District 4, which contains parts of Buford Highway and is 44% Hispanic or Latino. Palma is expected to run against John Funny and Dale Boone, both of whom have already announced their bids. Qualifying dates for elections are Aug. 18-20, and elections will be held this November.

City to launch restaurant week

Marco Palma has announced a bid for the Brookhaven City Council’s District 4 seat. (Special) Brookhaven resident Marco Palma has announced a bid for the District 4 seat on Brookhaven’s City Council. Palma, who co-founded Los Vecinos de Buford Highway and was previously the president of the tenants’ rights organization, announced his bid on July 21. “I’ve decided to give back to the community that has given me so much – a com-

Brookhaven’s first ever Restaurant Week will take place Aug. 2-8. More than 15 local restaurants are signed up to participate in the week-long event. Participating restaurants will offer three-course dinner menus ranging from $20-$55. Some restaurants will also offer three-course lunches for $15-$30. Drinks, tax and gratuity are not included. “This is a great opportunity for visitors, as well as residents, to get out and support our fabulous, locally-owned restaurants as they continue on the road to recovery,” said Renee Areng, executive director of Explore Brookhaven, which is helping organize the event. — BRIEFS BY SAMMIE PURCELL

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Scratching, Licking and Biting - 6 Reasons Your Pup Can’t Stop Is your pup keeping you up all night with their incessant scratching, licking and biting? If you think you’re distraught, imagine how your dog feels! The medical term for scratching related to excessive itching is pruritus — and it is the second most common reason dog’s visit the vet. One of the first signs of a problem may be the development of acute moist dermatitis, better known as a "hot spot" — a red, irritated area caused by persistent chewing, licking, scratching, or rubbing. Once an area become irritated, dogs

relentlessly scratch, lick, or bite, causing hot spots to pop up rather quickly. UNCOVERING THE CAUSE Dogs scratch, lick, or chew for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from allergies to boredom to parasite infestation: Allergies Scratching is often the result of allergies to food or environmental triggers. Your pup may develop a skin irritation called contact dermatitis when they encounter substances like pesticides or soap.

Boredom or Anxiety Just like people with anxiety might bite their nails, dogs can show physical responses when they’re upset too! Dry Skin A variety of factors, including winter weather and fatty acid deficiencies, can cause dry skin in dogs. Hormonal Imbalances If your dog’s body is not producing enough thyroid hormone or putting out too much cortisol, superficial skin infections can occur. You may notice bald spots, and your dog may scratch or lick as if bothered by allergies.

Pain Be sure to consider the possibility that something is causing pain or discomfort. For example, if you notice your pup biting their paw, it could be a thorn or rock stuck in his foot pad. Compulsive chewing or licking can also be a result of orthopedic problems, such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. Parasites Fleas, ticks, and mites are among the most common causes for licking, chewing, and scratching. Don’t assume your pup isn’t suffering from parasites just because you can’t see them — fleas often go unnoticed until there is a large infestation, and mites are microscopic! From changing food, eliminating parasites, topical medication, behavioral modification and more, there are many possible solutions to this "irritating" issue. As soon as you notice a problem, visit your local Scenthound for a Problem Skin Treatment! This service includes a medicated bath using Zymox shampoo and conditioner that supports skin and coat health, soothes skin and diminishes itching and irritation. If problems persist or worsen, it’s time for a visit to the vet to help you figure out the cause and determine the best treatment plan for your pup.

Dr. Jim MacLean Chief Veterinarian, Scenthound Dr. MacLean’s first job was working as a grooming assistant when he was 15 years old. Since then, he has worked in every aspect of small animal veterinary hospitals, has practiced in small animal medicine and surgery for 26 years, and has owned and started multi-doctor veterinary hospitals. With a mind for both medicine and business, Jim received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from VMRCVM at Virginia Tech in 1994 and his MBA from Georgetown University in 2011. Coming full circle, he joined the Scenthound pack to bring his expertise and experience to the grooming world. As chief veterinarian, Dr. MacLean guides Scenthound from a health and medicine perspective and helps achieve our mission to improve overall pet health on a broader scale.

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AUGUST 2021 | 13


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Celebrating the bond between horse and rider at a Sandy Springs stable

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Devon Fowler bonds with Liam at the Huntcliff stable. (John Ruch) BY JOHN RUCH with the purchase of a Bundtlet

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For over 50 years, the Huntcliff stables have been a place where people bond with horses. The exclusive enclave in Sandy Springs’ northwestern corner began construction in 1968 in a bend of the Chattahoochee River around the Cherokee Country Club with an equestrian center and horse trails. Today, it attracts lifelong local riding lifestylers like Jen Fowler and daughter Devon, 14. Liam, their quarterhorse/thoroughbred mix, is among the 28 horses and ponies that call the center’s stables home. “I just love the ability to feel the freedom to horseback riding,” said Devon during a recent visit to the center. “It gives you the sense you can do anything. But you also get to talk to your partner.” The center is operated by Go With It Farms, owned by Canton resident Halliea Milner. The human-animal bond is what draws people to the core business of lessons and camps, she says. “It’s the average person that wants to ride a horse and has a passion for that connection,” said Milner. Riders get to “be in touch with nature,” she says. And a “calm connection” can come from riding with the “powerful” animals, an experience that she says can release endorphins and lower the heart rate. Halliea’s daughter Sidnee, 13, is a nationally ranked championship rider in “eventing,” a sport that combines jumping, cross-country and dressage, or trained maneuvers. The center attracts other competitive riders, Halliea says, but cultivates a casual atmosphere more like a barbecue than a training facility. “We call it our barn family,” she says, emphasizing the human connections that riding also creates. For champs like Sidnee, the bond with the horse is also part of the attraction. “I can feel what the horse wants to do and

what it thinks, almost,” she said. Sidnee also enjoys the varying personalities of her three horses, Vista, Petey and Beau. “Vista is definitely a little more sassy than the other two are,” she said. “Petey is a little sulky and a little shy.” As for Beau, “He’s all about the food.” Vista, a Welsh pony, is also the one who recognizes the Milners’ car when they arrive and lets Sidnee hold her head in her arms. Devon’s horse has plenty of personality, too. “Liam’s such a goofball. He’s such a ham, too,” she said. And there’s horsehorse bonding going on as well; Liam’s best friend is a stablemate named Faldeus. The Fowlers moved to Huntcliff in 2018 specifically for the center, where Liam already had been boarded for about a year while the family lived elsewhere in Sandy Springs. Jen grew up riding in Lake Forest, Illinois, and is passing the tradition along to her daughter. The equestrian center sits right on the Chattahoochee at the end of a bumpy road called River Run. Its upkeep was always an expensive proposition for the Huntcliff homeowners association, and its fortunes and facilities have waxed and waned over the years. Halliea says that when she took over the operation of the center about three years ago, it was nearly vacant. Some of the old horse trails winding through the subdivision are now overgrown, says Devon. Today, the Fowlers are the only Huntcliff residents who stable a horse there, though some other residents come for lessons. But times may be changing again. Devon says there’s movement to clear out some of the trails. Jen says that other horse owners are looking to move into Huntcliff. After all, once you have the horse-human bond like Devon and Liam, you can’t get enough. “I pretty much come and see him every day,” she says. BK

Pets & Their People To celebrate our furry friends, we asked readers to submit photos of themselves with their pets. More pictures are online at

Finley Maddox, 9, with Petra, Leya and Comet.

Gary Ray Betz of Dunwoody with Doppelgänger, or Doppel for short.

Jim Holthouser of Sandy Springs with Gracie.

Shannon Coen with Rico Suave.


Emily Reed Adams of Sandy Springs with Ho-She.


Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst with his Great Dane, Finn. (Photo by Cameren E. Rogers)

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AUGUST 2021 | 15


Citizen scientists needed in the Perimeter area

According each for analyzing their genetic make-up. to the World Participation is easy. If you spot an EastHealth Organiern Kingsnake, immediately take a photo zation, healthy and mark the exact location. If it’s alive, call communities one of the two numbers on the Facebook Carol a marketing consultant lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line rely Niemi on is wellpage. Then,who even if it’s dead, send the photo writes about people whose lives Contact worthknowingnow@gmai functioning ecoandinspire detailsothers. to one of theher twoatemails listed. systems to proSometimes the project involves rescuing vide clean air, a snake in trouble, such as happened with fresh water, Amy Gutierrez of Brookhaven, a biologist medicines and and lifelong snake fan. food security, as “I’ve always been fascinated by snakes,” well as limit disshe said. “It started with their incredible colease and stabiors and the way they’ve adapted to so many BY CAROL NIEMI lize the climate. environments, climb trees, cross deserts, A major key to swim.” a healthy ecosystem is biodiversity. But bioAn avid gardener, she had covered her diversity is disappearing at unprecedented strawberries with bird netting, unaware of rates worldwide. StudyingCarol thisNiemi process on the dangerwho it poses Upon returnis a marketing consultant lives onto thesnakes. Dunwoodyeven the smallest scale can help address the ing from a trip, she found an Eastern KingSandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire problem. tangled in the netting, dehydrated and others. Contact her atsnake Since a wildlife habitat can be as small as near death. a neighborhood or even a backyard, picture “We called Bryan because I didn’t think I a habitat of leafy backyards where a particcould unentangle it without hurting it,” she ular species is thriving. If that neighborhood said. “I got instructions from Samantha and becomes surrounded by barriers to the anidrove it to the Chattahoochee Nature Cenmal’s movement, such as busy streets, shopter. They nursed it back to health. If I had reping centers or tall buildings, the animal will turned a day later, it would have died.” mate only with others it is already related to. Over time, the genetic diversity of its descendants will decrease until they become extirpated or extinct in that neighborhood. Their extirpation reduces the overall biodiversity of the neighborhood’s ecosystem and threatens everything else in it. Since 2019, a research project in metro Atlanta has been assessing the impact of urbanization on wildlife by tracking a particular snake to see how its survival, genetic diversity and disease status are affected. The project is led by Bryan Hudson, a PhD student in the Forestry and Environment Conservation Department at Clemson University, in partnership with the Chattahoochee Nature Center. “We chose to focus on snakes because they represent model movement-restricted Bryan Hudson with an Eastern Kingsnake. vertebrates and on the Eastern Kingsnake (Special / Samantha Kennett) in particular because of its generalist nature and positive reputation among people,” said A week later, Kennett brought it back. Hudson. Gutierrez’s two young children watched The Eastern Kingsnake is easily recogas Kennett gently pulled the snake from a nized as a large-bodied black snake, often cotton sack. Before she set it free, they all got five feet long with yellow rings covering the to pet it. entire length of its body. Known by many as If you are among the many humans who “the good snake,” it’s harmless to humans dislike snakes, a visit to the Urban Kings and impervious to the venom of native venFacebook page may change your mind. The omous snakes and in fact feeds on them. page is full of pictures of happy children and The study, called “Urban Kings: A Citiadults with Eastern Kingsnakes. zen Science Project,” uses its Urban Kings But there’s another reason for you to visit Facebook page to recruit ordinary citizens – the page. Though participation in the northcalled citizen scientists – to report Eastern ern Atlanta suburbs has been good, it has Kingsnakes in the core metro counties for been spotty in Buckhead, Brookhaven, SanHudson and his associate, Samantha Kendy Springs and Dunwoody. The project will nett, previously with the Chattahoochee Narun through the end of the year, and Hudson ture Center, to study. needs our participation. Hudson has taken many of the snakes to Ultimately, he plans to publish his findthe UGA Vet School for implantation of tiny ings for use by urban planners in designing radio transmitters that enable him to bring healthier cities, where people and animals them back to their original habitat and track will co-exist in biodiverse ecosystems where their movement. He also clips a scale from all will survive and thrive.


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Spotlight: Riverwood rising senior earns perfect ACT score BY AMY WENK Nathan Nichols, a rising senior at Riverwood International Charter School, has earned a perfect ACT score of 36. According to ACT, less than 1% of students earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2020, only 5,579 of 1.67 million students who took the ACT scored a 36. The ACT consists of separate tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. “Earning a top score on the ACT is a remarkable achievement,” said ACT CEO Janet Godwin. “A student’s exceptional score of 36 will provide any college or university with ample evidence of their readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.”

While he did take practice tests to prepare, Nichols will admit it comes naturally. “Honestly, I’ve always been kind of a test taker,” said the 17-year-old, son of Richard and Valerie Nichols. “It’s come a bit easy to me.” It’s quite an achievement, especially considering the challenging school year he weathered due to the pandemic. “I really let my work ethic go as a result,” he said. “I kind of lost some determination.” Nichols said he’s interested in pursuing a career in mechanical or computer engineering. This fall, he plans to apply to schools including Georgia Tech. “I’m really excited to look into what kind of college opportunities I can have,” he said, adding math and computer science are

his top subjects. He’s also president of Riverwood’s mountain biking club and is involved with the Georgia Cycling Association, where he competes in races. Some of his favorite places to ride include the trails at Sope and Blankets creeks. This summer, he’s working at the Springs Cinema & Taphouse in Sandy Springs. His best advice for future ACT test takers? “Read the question first in the science section,” Nichols said. “They describe an experiment, and then the questions show up. You want to read the questions, and then check through the experiment.”

Nathan Nichols at Tallulah Gorge. Nichols, a rising senior at Riverwood International Charter School, earned a perfect ACT score. (Special)

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Restaurants grapple with worker shortage


State-wide shortage

If you’ve been to a restaurant or fastfood joint lately, you’ve likely noticed “We’re Hiring” signs. That’s because local eateries are struggling to find employees to fill positions after the pandemic shutdown. Fast food restaurants like Cook Out are offering $12 an hour, bonuses, raises, and contributing to health insurance to attract employees. On a recent Saturday afternoon, the Krystal on Northside Drive at 14th in West Midtown had to temporarily shut down its busy drive-thru window as it waited for employees to arrive. But it’s not just the fast-food industry that’s facing staffing issues.

Karen Bremer, president and CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association, said restaurants across the state are still short 50,000 to 70,000 workers. “Restaurateurs are struggling to find workers. Many have reduced hours and days open due to worker shortages,” Bremer said in a statement. “Some are offering signing bonuses, guaranteed schedules, and higher hourly wages.” ‘Where is everybody?’ Robby Kukler, a partner with Atlanta-based Fifth Group Restaurants, said the labor shortage is preventing his company from reopening one of its res-

taurants. Fifth Group operates ten restaurants including South City Kitchen, Alma Cocina, Lure and Ecco. Alma Cocina in downtown Atlanta has been closed since March 2020. Fifth Group hoped to reopen in July, but the company has been unable to hire the management team. Its other restaurants have staggered hours. Fifth Group still needs to hire in excess of 100 people. In fact, its peak employment before the pandemic (including its catering company Bold Catering & Design) was around 950 workers. Today, it has about 450. To help attract workers, Fifth Group has a “generous and aggressive referral program” where it offers current employees $500 if they refer a new hourly employee. The company also offers signing bonuses for new hourly workers, giving them an additional $1,000 after they work 100 days. “It really isn’t attracting a lot of people,” Kukler said. “Where is everybody?” Mitchell Anderson, who owns MetroFresh in Midtown, said he’s also been having trouble finding workers, including a cook. “I’ll make appointments for people to come in for an interview and 90 percent of the time they don’t even show up,” Anderson said. “It’s super frustrating and ultimately may lead to shorter hours for the restaurant if I can’t fill the position soon.” Rethinking operations

veteran David Abes said he’s never seen a worker shortage like this in his 30-year career. “That’s the number one topic for my clients – staffing,” said Abes, owner of Dash Hospitality, a restaurant consulting business. Abes is also behind a planned restaurant and entertainment district in the Dunwoody Village. “I think it has to do with attitude and the perception of restaurant business,” he said, explaining that with the pandemic, many people started to examine the hours they spend working. In response, restaurant owners are having to rethink their operations. Some are using technology to counter labor shortages, such as investing in pay-at-the-table devices and new equipment to help automate back-of-house operations, Abes said. “The good operators have pivoted,” he said. Future outlook A recent survey conducted by job search website Indeed doesn’t offer any immediate relief but is hopeful for the fall. The survey indicated that workers don’t feel a sense of urgency to get back to work this summer. However, many unemployed workers said increased vaccination against COVID-19, shrinking savings, and the opening of schools in the fall will be key catalysts for stepping up their job searches, the survey said.

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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.

Bill Kring, MaryJane LeCroy, and Phillip Hamman discuss the importance of using advisors who advise clients exclusively under the fiduciary standard. (Left to right: Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)

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 50th 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.

Linscomb & Williams is located at 2727 Paces Ferry Road SE, Building Two, Ste. 1475 in Atlanta, GA For more information call 770 333 0113 or visit Linscomb & Williams is not an accounting firm.



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A Weekend in Chattanooga Where to stay, what to see, and where to eat in Scenic City Hunter Museum

The Read House

BY COLLIN KELLEY AND CHAD RADFORD When you think of Chattanooga, the kitschy cuteness of Rock City and the Tennessee Aquarium probably spring to mind, but there’s plenty more fun to be had in the Scenic City besides gnomes and fish. Chattanooga is perfect for a weekend getaway. Just a two-hour drive from Atlanta, it’s a straight shot up I-75 to a city with a decidedly more laid-back vibe. Lookout Mountain rises over the city, while the serpentine Tennessee River winds its way through downtown.

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Where To Stay There are plenty of Airbnb options to be had, but why not try a boutique hotel like the historic Read House ( or in the Edwin Hotel ( in downtown? The Bluff View Inn (, nestled along the river in the city’s Bluff View Arts District (more on that below), is actually three different historic homes: the English Tudor-style McClellan House, the American Foursquare T.C. Thompson House, and the Colonial Revival Martin House. If you want to get historic and touristy, The Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel ( is located in the circa 1909 Terminal Station and adjacent restored Pullman cars. There’s also gorgeous gardens, live music, and dining on the station grounds.


What To See The Bluff View Arts District situated high above the Tennessee River is a great place to start your weekend. Stroll through the River Gallery Sculpture Garden, grab a coffee of freshly roasted joe at Rembrandt’s Coffee House, have dinner at Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria, and enjoy the stunning views from the neighborhood. Another artsy place with a view is the Hunter Museum of American Art (, also situated along the river, with fantastic views outside and thought-provoking art inside it’s three galleries. On show through Sept. 6 is “Power, Passion & Pose: Photographs by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory,” while Chattanooga artist Baggs McKinley’s

denim installation “Indigo” is up until next February. Susan J. Barron’s photography series, “Depicting the Invisible: A Portrait Series of Veterans Suffering from PTSD,” opens Aug. 20. After the museum, take a walk across the river on the pedestrian-only Walnut Street Bridge, which connects downtown to the hip and happening NorthShore neighborhood. The circa 1890 truss bridge plays host to the annual Wine Over Water Food + Wine Festival in October (it’s on hold until 2022) and is vacation selfie central. Once you cross the bridge. check out the NorthShore ( mix of independent clothing and jewelry boutiques, cozy cafes, gastropubs, and popular neighborhood restaurants. Grab coffee at (Be)Caffeinated or Stone Cup Café, a gourmet hot dog at Good Dog, some authentic Japanese at Sushi Nabe, or a sandwich at River

Street Deli. If you’ve never been to the Tennessee Aquarium (, it’s a much different experience than Atlanta’s. Located in downtown, the aquarium’s 400,000 gallon freshwater tank is one of the largest in the world with turtles, seahorses, frogs, otters, alligators, and free-flying songbirds. The 700,000 gallon saltwater tank has sharks, rays, penguins, and fluttering butterflies. Yes, Lookout Mountain – home to Rock City, Ruby Falls and the Incline Railway – is a tourist trap, but it still has its charms, especially if the kids are in tow. Rock City’s twisting paths lead visitors past and through formations like Fat Man’s Squeeze, Fairyland Caverns, and Mother Goose Village. If you aren’t claustrophobic, take the plunge into the middle of the mountain to see the giant underground waterfall knowns as Ruby Falls. And if heights aren’t a problem, the one-mile Incline Railway up the side of the mountain offers unparalleled views of the city.

What To Eat Market Street in downtown is full of eateries to try on your weekend getaway. Grab a casual breakfast or lunch at Kenny’s (, just a short walk from Chattanooga Choo Choo. Hair of the Dog ( offers up craft beers and good pub grub, while St. John’s is located inside a historic former hotel building serving up seasonal, American fare. For a sweet treat, Clumpies (clumpies. com) ice cream has been a Chattanooga tradition for more than two decades. BK

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AUGUST 2021 | 21

A Little Piece of Heaven

Folk artist Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden is a unique experience

BY CHAD RADFORD “I took the pieces you threw away, put them together by night and day. Washed by the rain. Dried by the sun. A million pieces all in one.” — Howard Finster Just under a two-hour drive from Atlanta, the small town of Summerville is home to Paradise Garden, the former house, studio, and stomping ground of

folk artist and Baptist minister, Howard Finster. As the story goes, one day in 1976, Finster was touching up the paint on a bicycle when a face appeared in the paint telling him to create sacred art – 5,000 pieces. And that’s exactly what he did, but he didn’t stop there. Finster was a man of visions, and he became an obsessive chronicler of these vi-

70th Annual Georgia Mountain Fair Summer Line-Up

sions through his art and words. He had a busy mind, and even busier hands. Now, Paradise Garden is teeming with nearly 47,000 individual sculptures, paintings, mosaics, and out buildings that he created before he died in 2001. It’s enough work to take an entire lifetime to untangle. Taken together, the work constitutes its own landscape within the four-acre property, standing in the shadow of the iconic Prayer Tower. Finster saw true beauty in the world, especially in the trashed, discarded items that other people had thrown away, which became his medium. His charm was not lost on his contemporaries. Finster’s work landed him an appearance on the Johnny Carson show. The Talking Heads used his artwork on the cover of 1985’s Little Creatures, and R.E.M. filmed much of the “Radio Free Europe” video there. Pop artist Keith Haring, who died shortly after visiting Paradise Garden, is even represented by his signature style along the path. Taking a leisurely stroll along the path through the cluttered buildings and towContinued on Page 24

Concerts Camping Events Hiawassee | 706-896-4191 22 AUGUST 2021 | REPORTER NEWSPAPERS BK


AUGUST 2021 | 23

Continued from page 22 ering fixtures is the best way to soak up the mystical beauty of the labyrinth he built. Finster created a truly inviting environment here, a gathering place with-

out pretense. And it can be as secular as one makes it—no fire and brimstone on display here. Paradise Garden is a fantasmagorical experience. The sheer quantity of Finster’s work and the whimsical flourishes on display chronicle the South in captivating and endearing ways. If you’d like to take a stroll through Finster’s world under the moonlight, Paradise Garden offers three Airbnb’s suites. Packages include the cost of admission to the park with unlimited access to the grounds. The duplex cottage is decorated by acclaimed designer Summer Loftin. See the website for details about each suite and the shared front porch. A perfect time to visit Paradise Garden might Oct. 9-10 when the annual “Finsterfest” will bring together three stages of live music and more than 60 folk and craft artist. For more information, visit paradisegardenfoundation. org.

Fair Time!

Georgia Mountain Fair returns with new rides, music, and more BY COLLIN KELLEY Like everything else last year, the Georgia Mountain Fair was cancelled due to the pandemic, but it’s whirling back to life Aug. 13-21 in Hiawassee. The 70th annual fair will feature a new midway vendor who will be bringing all new carnival rides to the fairgrounds. There will also be games, arts & crafts, and musical performances. This year’s live music shows will include The Gatlin Brothers, Wyatt Espalin, Andrew Chastain Band, The Primitives, T. Graham Brown, Country River Band, Southwind, Darryl Worley, and Ronnie McDowell. Some of the daily cultural events will be the Hot Glass Academy with glass blowing demonstrations, A Grizzly Experience featuring two 600 pound bears, and “Old Ways” demonstration that shows how moonshine, corn milling, quilts, and soap were made back in the day. The Pioneer Village will be open daily featuring a mercantile store with products only your grandmother might recognize, plus an old, one room schoolhouse, and a log home with smoke house, barn and corn crib. Tickets for the fair are $12 for a one-day pass (children 12 and under get in free); $33 for a three-day pass and $90 for the nine-day run. Midway rides are an additional $25 ($20 in advance). For tickets and details, visit

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Mountain Fun Farm Animal Fun Day Hardman Farm Historic Site in Sautee Nacoochee, GA hosts the annual event on Aug. 14 where you can pet some furry farm critters as well as tour the home and grounds. Visit for more information.

Georgia Mountain Tennis Championships Young Harris, GA plays host to the annual tennis extravaganza Farm Animal Fun Day on Aug. 28-29 featuring the best players in North Georgia. The tournament benefits Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Cherokee County. Visit for details.

Highlands Mountaintop Art & Craft Show Take a daytrip or weekend getaway to Highlands, NC on Aug. 29 for the annual arts and crafts fair taking place in Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There’s free admission to the festival featuring pottery, wood work, jewelry, weaving, basketry, and more. all made by local and regional artisans. Visit for more information.

and Foghat and Night Ranger (Nov. 27). Visit georgiamountain for tickets and details.

Oktoberfest Helen, GA’s big German festival is starting early with events Sept. 9-12, Sept. 16-19, Sept. 23-26 and then Sept. 30 and continues daily through the month of October. Music, food, and plenty of drinks will be flowing. Tickets are $8 per person Monday-Friday, $10 on Saturdays, and free on Sundays. Visit for more. Oktoberfest

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Mountain High Music, Craft & Car Show Franklin, NC plays host to this daylong event on Oct. 9 with food, music, classic cars and more. Tickets are $55. Visit for more details.

Concerts at Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Head to Hiawassee this fall for concerts by Gene Watson, Janie Frickie and Marty Haggard (Sept. 4), TobyMac (Sept. 11), Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee (Oct. 1), Tracy Lawrence (Oct. 9), Ronnie Milsap and Mark Wills, (Oct. 16), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Oct. 30),

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Obtain the Property Report required by Federal Law and read it before signing anything. No Federal agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. This is not intended to be an offer to sell nor as a solicitation of offers to buy property in Old Toccoa Farm by residents of any state where prior registration is required.

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Georgia State Parks passes, travel guide available During the pandemic, parks across Georgia welcomed record numbers of visitors looking for fresh air, peaceful scenery. and exercise. With Georgia State Parks continuing to see high visitation rates, frequent visitors may want to purchase an annual park pass. The $50 pass is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase and provides free parking at more than 40 destinations, including Fort Yargo, Tallulah Gorge, and Providence Canyon. A separate historic site pass ($50 for family, $30 individual, $25 students) covers admission fees at 15 sites, including Etowah Indian Mounds, Dahlonega Gold Museum, and Fort King George. “One advantage of having an annual park pass or historic site pass is that it en-

courages people to explore parks and historic sites they’ve never been to before,” said Georgia State Parks Director Jeff Cown. “Your parking and admission fees are already covered for the whole year, and you may even find a new favorite campground, historic site museum or hiking trail.” The 2021 Guide to Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites is a helpful resource for planning romantic retreats, summer vacations, and fall getaways. The booklet is filled with tips on the best hiking trails, fishing spots, pet travel, golf courses, cabins and campsites, as well as photos shared by park users. The 2021 Travel Guide is available free in park offices or can be viewed on Passes may be purchased at the website, by calling (770) 389-7286, or in park offices as well.

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Realtor association drafts letter apologizing for past discrimination BY ALLISON JOYNER This summer, Cynthia Lippert, president of the Sandy Springs-based Atlanta REALTORS Association, wrote a letter to her fellow members apologizing for the organization’s past actions and discriminatory practices that prevented Black realtors and clients from purchasing residential and commercial property. “In light of political and racial unrest that became evident during the past year,” Lippert mentioned in the letter, “the Atlanta REALTORS Association decided to look inward to review our diversity, equity and inclusion issues within our association.” Lippert was brought to this issue when a diversity and inclusion council was assembled late last year. ARA member Dr. Lee Davenport joined the committee at the beginning of the year, but slowly became more frustrated. She said, “I noticed things that I would say are counterproductive to the very definition of what diversity and inclusion are supposed to be,” and which is, “welcoming people from different walks of life and in welcoming them, they have a voice, and I did not see that happening.” She said the meetings were getting worse and it raised many concerns for her, and going through the proper channels didn’t yield meaningful results. Davenport was so disappointed that she wrote an op-ed for a real estate trade website to lay out the changes that needed to be made if progress was to happen. Lippert read the article and was heartbroken about how Davenport felt about the organization as a whole. Trying to figure out why Davenport was so upset, Lippert reached out to the ARA’s president-elect, Karen Hatcher, to see why some members would feel this way. Hatcher, who is Black, told Lippert,

‘Disco Kroger’ leaving Buckhead shopping center Buckhead’s “Disco Kroger” shopping center is losing its landmark anchor tenant. A renovation planned for the Piedmont Peachtree Crossing shopping center will demolish the grocery store and build another one. “We do not expect Kroger to be a tenant in the future,” Paul Munana, a senior manager of investments with Regency Centers, said at a July 7 meeting of the Buckhead’s Development Re-


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

who is white, that the Black community lacks trust with leadership and has seen in the past that nothing that they asked for was ever given any thought or prioritization. She added that “discrimination is not happening because of Black people; it’s being done to Black people by another group.” Lippert told SaportaReport that she had several heart-to-hearts with Hatcher and Davenport that lasted hours and resulted in tears. She knew she needed to change herAt center, Cynthia Lippert, president of the Sandy Springs-based Atlanta REALTORS Association, self as well as the ARA. in a June video addresses diversity, inclusion and equity issues in the real estate industry. Davenport encouraged Lippert to read The Color have to do to heal is to say you’re sorry, tinue to skyrocket each year. Her letter of Law by Richard Rothstein, exposing and once you’ve apologized, your actions says that the ARA will create an explorhow the American government deliberfrom that point forward are critically imatory task force on affordable and equiately imposed racial segregation on metportant.” table housing to educate and promote reropolitan areas nationwide. Lippert drafted the apology to the sources, like down payment assistance, Lippert mentioned in the letter that ARA’s members addressing the issue and for equal access to housing for all. an example of this was in the National announcing an action plan that she will The ARA executive committee also Association of REALTORS’s code of ethenforce during the rest of her adminiscompleted extensive, unbiased leaderics which read: tration. ship training to ensure that everyone is “A REALTOR should never be instruShe knew that communicating with part of the inclusion process. mental in introducing into a neighborthe members on what they would like Lastly, the committee approved the hood a character of property or occupanto see was vital. That is why the diversifull-time position for someone to create cy members of any race or nationality ty and inclusion council created a survey strong alliances with other diverse-affilor any individuals whose presence will for members to fill out to measure if they iated real estate organizations like the clearly be detrimental to property values feel included in the organization. Empire Board of Realists, the National in that neighborhood.” Dealing with the issue of affordable Association of Hispanic Real Estate ProAfter reading the book, Lippert and housing is something that Lippert has fessionals (NAHREP), the Asian Real EsHatcher agreed that changes needed to wanted to address for many years. She’s tate Association of America (AREAA) and be made within the organization, but recently noticed that realtors are only the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, which those changes would be in vain if they dealing with clients who have money and will continue to foster a continued condidn’t first start with an apology. ignoring those who struggle to pay rent nection, year after year, even when lead“If you’ve harmed another person,” and the elderly who own their homes but ership changes. said Lippert, “you’re having relationship can not afford to maintain the repairs issues with anyone, the first thing you or pay the high property taxes that conview Committee. Regency Centers owns the shopping center. He said there will be another full-line grocer at the center, but he did not name which one. Construction could start in third-quarter 2022, Munana said. The Kroger got its “disco” nickname for the famous Limelight dance club that once occupied the site in the 1980s. Munana said Regency Centers planned to preserve a disco ball inside the grocery store, along

a disco-themed mural painted on the side of the Binders art store. The Kroger had opened in 1975, as one of the first 24-hour Kroger stores in the city, according to a Reporter Newspaper article from 2008. In that article, a Buckhead resident recalled the Limelight moving in next door in February 1980 with a glass floor and a shark tank. Patrons of the club trickled into Kroger until the wee hours, earning the store its nickname. A rendering of a planned renovation at the Piedmont Peachtree Crossing shopping center, now home to the “Disco Kroger.”



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