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► CVB creates Arts & Culture Month with new tax money PAGE 2 ► As 285/400 interchange expands, air pollution is a concern PAGE 6

Two cities take different paths on EMS delivery

Waving for the Wildcats

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

PHIL MOSIER

Dunwoody High cheerleader Charlotte Taptich gets some help from Shipp Walters, 3, in holding the “Wildcat Flag” before her football team took the field against the Alpharetta Raiders at North DeKalb Stadium in Chamblee Sept. 21. The Raiders won the game, 55-21.

Battle against Tesla CEO is latest high-profile case for local lawyer Page 4

Would a local Board of Education for Sandy Springs be able to better understand the unique needs of our 10,000 students at our 11 public schools? We believe all evidence points to ‘yes.’ CHERYL BARLOW CITIZENS FOR LOCAL AREA SCHOOL SYSTEMS.

See STORY on page xx

See COMMENTARY, page 10

OUT & ABOUT Welcome fall with Apple Cider Days Page 16

A DeKalb County public safety consultant’s statement that ambulance response times have no real consequence on a patient’s treatment and care has alarmed Dunwoody officials as they seek to create their own localized EMS zone to speed up arrival times. And while Brookhaven officials say they are also concerned about slow EMS response times in the city, they have decided to work with the county to put an EMS post on Buford Highway rather than support the creation of a new EMS zone. Brookhaven’s stance, announced by City Manager Christian Sigman at the Sept. 20 EMS Council subcommittee meeting, shocked Dunwoody City Councilmember Terry Nall, who questioned the city’s motives as it works out a nearly $200,000 agreement with DeKalb County to put a new EMS station in Brookhaven. See TWO on page 22

Proposed $25M budget would cover Brook Run Park renovations BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The city’s proposed $25 million budget for 2019 includes much of the money needed to cover costs of building two new athletic fields at Brook Run Park and the construction of a small band shell for live performances. How to spend the city’s new revenue from the hotel-motel tax increase apSee PROPOSED on page 14


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CVB creates Arts & Culture Month with new hotel-motel tax money BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers. net

The Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau is promoting events and organizations for the city’s inaugural Arts & Culture Month throughout October. A $20,000 marketing budget for the monthlong event is one of the first expenditures using a new revenue stream created when the city raised its hotelmotel tax last year. CVB Executive Director Katie Williams said the idea for the Arts & Culture Month came about earlier this year when city officials began talking to residents about an Arts and Culture Master Plan. SPECIAL Katie Williams is executive director of the “Ideas were flowing from Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau. our partners,” Williams said. And because October is also National Arts and Humanities Month, the time was right to start a new arts tradition in Dunwoody, she said. Williams said the Arts and Culture Month is starting small by not creating new events during October and rather promoting events the organizations already had

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planned. But the intent is to create a sizable, annual regional attraction similar to the city’s popular Restaurant Week, she said. A website for the month is at dunwoodyacm.com. The events include a Novo Cucina wine tasting featuring food pairings and a live classical music performance at the Donaldson-Bannister Farm hosted by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust; Found Stages Wine and Reading Series, a series of new plays by nationally known playwrights including a meet-and-greet with complimentary wine and light bites, hosted by the Dunwoody Nature Center; and a performance of a children’s play “The Ugly Duckling” hosted by the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. The CVB will provide Atlanta “media influencers” — people who have established followings on social media — free tickets to these events and ask for promotion, Williams said. The media influencers can also receive a free credit for dining at a local restaurant, but they do not receive a cash payment, she added. The city estimated bringing in an additional $1.7 million when it approved raising its hotel-motel tax specifically to fund green space and trail projects in Perimeter Center. State law requires half the money, or about $850,000, to go to the CVB to be used for marketing and tourism promotion. The City Council also decided to set aside 15 percent of the new revenue in a “Tourism Facility Fund” to fund projects at the Nature Center and Donaldson-Bannister Farm. Executives with those organizations argued for a slice of the hotel-motel tax revenue pie because they said their nonprofits regularly bring people from the region into Dunwoody. The 2018 CVB budget is $1.7 million. Williams said two of Perimeter Center’s largest hotels — the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter Center at Ravinia and Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center — are undergoing major renovations this summer, including a complete closure of the Crowne Ravinia for a few weeks. With major blocks of rooms being closed, it is hard to gauge what the new hotelmotel tax revenue will be at the end of the year, she said. Economic Development Director Michael Starling said in August the city had collected about $407,000 in new hotel-motel tax. At the Sept. 11 City Council meeting, Bill Baker, general manager of Perimeter Mall and CVB board member, said the CVB was forced to use more than $100,000 of its surplus due to the hotel renovations and unexpected closure of Crowne Plaza, reducing the total surplus from $218,000 to about $100,000. He added the CVB is undertaking a three-year strategic plan for a project list to brand and promote in Perimeter Center using the new hotel-motel tax money. Williams told the council that when the hotels are back operating at full capacity and with the Super Bowl coming to Atlanta next year, hotel-motel tax revenue is expected to pick back up significantly. Using the surplus was expected, she added, because the CVB was aware of planned hotel renovations.

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SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Community Briefs

An updated illustration shows the mixed-use development Grubb Properties is proposing to build on nearly 20 acres in Perimeter Center East.

P L AN N I N G C OM M I SSI ON TO C ON S I D ER GRUBB D EV ELO PM EN T

Grubb Properties is slated to go before the Planning Commission on Oct. 9 to seek approval for its proposed 900-condo and mixed-use development on about 20 acres in Perimeter Center East where Dunwoody’s former city hall is located. Grubb Properties was forced to withdraw its original development proposal from the City Council earlier this year after members balked at density and raised traffic concerns. Apartments were also a major issue for Dunwoody officials and residents, so Grubb Properties relented to only include for-sale condos and townhomes in the proposed mixed-use development. The new proposal also includes 500,000 square feet of new office space, approximately 12,000 square feet of retail and nearly three acres of green space. The residential units will be in residential towers that could rise a maximum of 14 stories, as well as for-sale townhomes, all of which would be owner-occupied. The site will have a 12-foot shared-use path around the perimeter, which will run alongside an existing bike lane. Grubb Properties is seeking to rezone the site from Office Industrial to PC-2, or Perimeter Center subarea 2.

NO RT H F OR K N A NC Y C REEK TRA IL C ON S TR UC TI ON A PPR O V ED

The City Council at its Sept. 24 meeting awarded a $428,573 contract to Integrated Construction to build a multiuse trail including a 12-foot wide steel bridge and wooden boardwalk to connect Old Georgetown Trail with Perimeter Center East along the North Fork of Nancy Creek. The city funded $600,000 for the project as part of the 2017 budget. Perimeter Center Improvement District also contributed $200,000 for the construction of the trail and bridge. Parks and Recreation Director Brent DUN

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Walker said construction is expected to begin by the end of this year and be finished in early 2019.

MAYO R HO LD ING OC T. 16 TO WN HALL

Mayor Denis Shortal will be the featured speaker at a city town hall on Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. at City Hall, 4800 Ashford-Dunwoody Road. The city is inviting public input on topics residents want to know more about. To submit topics and issues of interest, visit www.connectdunwoody.com.

The Dunwoody Police Department is now participating in the Yellow Dot safety program to provide first responders notice where they can obtain a resident’s medical history during an emergency. Yellow dot kits include a yellow, peach-shaped decal to be placed on the driver side rear window of a vehicle. The yellow dot informs first responders that medical information is stored in the glove compartment. Yellow dot stickers can also be placed at the entrance of a resident’s home informing first responders to look for medical information in the glove compartment or on the refrigerator. Georgia’s Yellow Dot Program can be used by anyone and is especially recommended for people with multiple or serious medical conditions; people with severe allergies; children with special needs; and individuals with dementia who may be prone to driving. Yellow Dot kits are available at: Dunwoody Police Department, 4800 AshfordDunwoody Road; Dunwoody Library, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road; the Phoenix at Dunwoody, 4484 North Shallowford Road; the Alzheimer’s Association, 41 Perimeter Center East, Suite 550; and the

Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road. The Yellow Dot program is an initiative of the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services. More information is available at aging.georgia. gov/yellow-dot-program. SPECIAL

A decal like this can be put on a person’s car or at home to let first responders know where medical information is located during an emergency.

VO L UNTEER DAY S ET FO R O C T. 1 3

City residents are invited to join Trees Atlanta and the Daffodil Project on Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon as part of Volunteer Day. Projects include tree plantings at Brook Run Park and Dunwoody Nature Center, daffodil planting at Brook Run Park and along the Dunwoody Trailway, general parks cleanup and sign cleaning throughout the city. Register through the Parks Registration Portal at dunwoodyga. gov/parks. This volunteer event will help plant thousands of daffodils in Brook Run Park in memory of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust and in support for children suffering in humanitarian crises in the world today.


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Battle against Tesla CEO is latest high-profile case for local libel lawyer BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

A dramatic rescue of a dozen boys from a flooded cave in Thailand this summer was followed by a bizarre sideshow: a world-famous billionaire inventor groundlessly smearing one of the rescue advisers as a pedophile. On Aug. 28, Tesla CEO Elon Musk doubled down, taking to Twitter to ask why cave expert Vernon Unsworth hadn’t sued him over the slur. “@elonmusk should check his mail before tweeting,” came a prompt reply illustrated with a photo of an intent-to-sue letter. That mic-drop tweet came from the fingertips of L. Lin Wood, a Buckhead attorney who has become one of the nation’s top libel warriors after using similar inyour-face tactics to defend the honor of such clients as Richard Jewell, who was falsely accused of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, and the family members of JonBenét Ramsey, the child victim of a notorious unsolved murder. “[The false accusations] change their life forever, because the shout of ‘guilty’ is never overcome by the whisper of innocence,” Wood said of his clients in a recent interview. Over the years, Wood has represented both sides in prominent sexual misconduct and assault claims. Current clients include casino mogul Steve Wynn, who denies several workplace misconduct claims, and 15 years ago Wood represented the woman who accused basketball star Kobe Bryant of rape in a case that was later settled without admission of wrongdoing. Such cases leave him with some strong concerns about the “#MeToo movement” and the social media era. While saying he is often the first to go to the “court of public opinion,” Wood is also concerned it “has no rules of evidence.” “I don’t know what the future of reputation is going to be. We have normalized, in so many ways, heinous accusations,” Wood said, predicting the court system eventually will tighten protections against defamation.

Early career and Richard Jewell

Growing up in Macon, Wood saw his family interact with the court system in one of the worst possible ways: his father killed his mother. “I grew up in a family household of domestic violence,” he said. While that was a factor in his decision to become a lawyer, he says his personal inclination to persuasion and advocacy was the prime motive. He recalls doing well as youth pastor for a day at his church at age 13. “Everybody was telling me I was called by God to be a preacher, and I said, ‘No, I’m going to be a lawyer,’ ” Wood says.

L. Lin Wood, left, and Richard Jewell at a 2006 event where Jewell was honored by Gov. Sonny Perdue as a rescue hero of the Atlanta Olympics bombing.

His career began with medical malpractice defense in Macon. Then he moved to Atlanta to advocate for patients in such cases. After working at various firms and other specialties, including Medicare fraud cases, he now runs his own boutique civil litigation practice in Midtown. Formerly a longtime Sandy Springs resident, he now lives in Buckhead’s Peachtree Park, close to his office, in a relatively modest home. He says what he likes best about his work is his personal connection with his clients, not material goods he can gather with the fees. “I don’t need a $5 million house. All I’d have is a lot of empty rooms,” he says, adding that he’s happy with his Buckhead neighborhood. “I love this part of the city. I love being surrounded by trees and the community.” Wood’s success in libel litigation — still a major focus of his firm — started with the extraordinary case of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, which killed one person and injured more than 100. Jewell, a security guard at the park, was at first hailed as a hero for discovering the bomb and guiding people away from its blast zone. But an FBI investigation leak led to a media frenzy suggesting Jewell was himself the bomber.

Wood got the case as a referral from another lawyer who knew him as an aggressive courtroom advocate. Among the challenges: “I didn’t know anything about libel law at the time,” says Wood. He plunged in, learning as he went, in a case that “seems almost surreal” in retrospect. Jewell had “the two most powerful entities in the world trying to put him in prison with the death penalty”— the U.S. government and the media, Wood said. “Those are spooky days.” Wood said it is important to him that he believes his clients are innocent of the accusations against them, a decision he makes after reviewing the case and his “instincts” when talking to them. So his first meeting with Jewell — in a conference room that happened to overlook Centennial Olympic Park — was crucial, especially because Wood had counted himself among those suspecting him. “Finally I said, ‘Richard, I’ll represent you if you want me to, but first you’ll have to accept my apology. … I thought you did it. I believed what I saw on TV. I believed what I read in the papers.’ ” Wood’s fierce defense helped Jewell avoid prosecution and won some settlements, including from NBC News, and

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some cases continued even after Jewell’s untimely death in 2007 at age 44. The real criminal was later revealed to be Eric Rudolph, a hate-driven terrorist who had also bombed an Atlanta lesbian nightclub and clinics that performed abortions in Sandy Springs and Alabama. But even Jewell’s vindication will not fully remove the cloud, Wood says, noting “his name does not appear in the [Olympic] park” and he never got a commendation from the International Olympic Committee or other Games organizers. “People are going to remember Richard Jewell as the guy falsely accused of bombing the Olympics,” says Wood. “Richard should be remembered as a hero of the Centennial Olympic Games. Richard saved hundreds of innocent lives. … He was a legitimate hero.” “I love Richard Jewell,” Wood adds. “I miss him every day.”

The Ramseys and presidential candidates

Wood soon was among the attorneys involved in another major media frenzy, the JonBenét Ramsey murder in Boulder, Colo., in 1996, where parents John and Patsy and brother Burke frequently involved in law-


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SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net suits to clear their names. Over 20 years of sexual assault allegations that were still later, Wood is still representing John and under investigation at press time. Wood Burke Ramsey in a pending case. likened the case to his defense of Cain on The Ramseys had previously lived in TV talk shows: “I made the point it’s a slipthe Atlanta area; JonBenét was born here pery slope and I don’t think we want to and is buried in Marietta. Wood said he got decide who’s going to govern us based on involved in the case when Patsy Ramsey guilt by accusation.” heard about him after contacting a local More generally in the social media age, family whose child had been murdered. Wood said, “The pendulum has swung too “People don’t know this. Patsy would far in favor of the First Amendment” and hear about people who lost a child and he believes libel laws will be tightened – reach out to them quietly,” Wood said. though not in the way President Trump As with Jewell, Wood developed a persometimes calls for. “The change in the lisonal connection with the family, includbel laws and First Amendment laws … it’s ing Patsy, who died in 2006. “I was a pallnot going to come from legislation. It’s gobearer at Patsy’s funeral,” he said. ing to come from the court system” and As Wood’s libel-law experience grew, how it interprets the definition of a “pubhe found himself involved in presidential lic figure” who has less defamation proteccampaigns. “I always said I want to repretions, Wood said. sent somebody who could be president,” That could make Unsworth’s case Wood says, “but realized if I’m representagainst Musk tougher, Wood said, being them, they have a problem that might cause he gave media interviews criticizprevent that.” ing Musk’s proposal for using a miniature That was the case submarine for the with Herman Cain, cave rescue, and whose 2012 Repubthus might be conlican nomination sidered a public figattempt failed amid ure “as if he’s a pressexual misconduct ident or movie star… allegations that he and I think that’s just denied and fought wrong.” with Wood’s representation. He said The Musk he also successfully case represented anothIn taking on er Republican conMusk, Wood says he tender, Rick Perry, is once again repreby killing a pending senting a rescue hero Huffington Post sto— in this case, Unry that would have sworth’s knowledge reported some sort of the Thailand cave of allegations. system was crucial Other clients information for the have included fordivers who got the mer California Consurvivors out. L. LIN WOOD gressman Gary Con“Vern is as close dit, who was caught BUCKHEAD LIBEL ATTORNEY to Richard Jewell as up in a media frenzy I’ve seen in my pracover the still mystetice,” Wood says. “But rious 2001 murder of Chandra Levy; Perri for Vernon, I’m not sure that rescue could “Pebbles” Reid, manager of the R&B group have happened.” TLC; casino and newspaper owner Sheldon As for Musk’s comments, Wood says he Adelson; and “Dr. Phil” McGraw. has seen many defamation cases and, after working with ultra-wealthy clients, is faThe ‘#MeToo’ era miliar with the “billionaire mentality.” But The “#MeToo” movement of revealing he says he was still surprised by the novellong-suppressed stories of sexual abuse ty of a tycoon issuing a slur while making and harassment raises some concerns it clear he had no evidence, then essentially from Wood’s libel-lawyer perspective. inviting the target to sue. “I have a healthy respect for the “I’ve been through enough that it ‘#MeToo’ movement,” Wood says. He said doesn’t shock me. But what Musk did is that based on what he’s read, he would declose to shocking me,” Wood said. “You cline to represent Harvey Weinstein, the can’t make this up. There’s no good explamovie producer who is now charged with nation for what Mr. Musk did.” rape after scores of sexual abuse allegaNaturally, Wood expects to win the tions against him sparked the movement. now-filed lawsuit and secure damages in Wood also says he believes the accuser he the “tens of millions of dollars.” represented in the Kobe Bryant case was “If you got $20 billion,” Wood asks, “how the victim of a crime in an “egregious case.” much do you have to pull out of your pockBut Wood also spends some time on et to learn your lesson?” Twitter defending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is the subject

People are going to remember Richard Jewell as the guy falsely accused of bombing the Olympics. Richard should be remembered as a hero of the Centennial Olympic Games. Richard saved hundreds of innocent lives. … He was a legitimate hero.

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As 285/400 interchange expands, air pollution is a concern spread vehicle exhaust similar to a smokestack, dispersing pollution over a larger area, but at lower concentrations.

Pollution types and mapping

An Atlanta Regional Commission map showing estimated levels of particulate matter pollution in the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange area in terms of average annual micrograms per cubic meter. High levels are red; low levels are green. All of the levels are within federal guidelines, but health officials say any level can cause illness.

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Air pollution is a little-discussed aspect of the state’s I-285/Ga. 400 interchange reconstruction and expansion projects, partly because planning studies said it essentially has a neutral effect by improving air quality in some ways and harming it in others. But the interchange area’s exhaust-related pollution is already among metro Atlanta’s highest, and the expanded highway lanes will have one new impact: dumping pollutants closer to homes, businesses and parks. The state’s current “Transform 285/400” interchange rebuild, and its plan to add toll lanes over the next decade, present various pollution tradeoffs, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation and air-quality experts. Faster traffic flow and possible Ga. 400 mass transit could reduce local air pollution; more traffic, ineffective transit and lanes closer to neighborhoods could increase pollution. GDOT’s environmental study for Transform 285/400 found it had no overall significant impact on air pollution and meets federal standards. But, regardless of federal guide-

lines, motor vehicle exhaust contains dangerous, tiny particles of pollution that the World Health Organization says has no known safe level of exposure. An Atlanta Regional Commission map of how such pollution spreads off highways shows that the 285/400 interchange is rivaled only by Atlanta’s Downtown Connector for concentrations of the dangerous particles. Relatively high concentrations of the pollution blows onto some Sandy Springs city parks and the Medical Center’s hospitals, among other areas, according to the map — and that’s only one type of air pollution. “Too much time spent in that area outdoors … is probably not healthy,” said Paul D’Onofrio, an ARC planner on air quality and climate change who worked on the map, about those higherconcentration spots. Transform 285/400 is expected to wrap up in 2020. The additional toll, or “managed,” lanes — four on each highway — are in the planning stages. According to GDOT’s website, environmental studies for the Ga. 400 toll lanes are underway with construction expected to start in 2021 and finish in 2024; the I-285 toll lanes have early studies underway and are expected

to start construction in 2023 for a 2028 opening. GDOT has committed to design transit bus access on the Ga. 400 lanes, and local cities are studying the possibility of some sort of I-285 transit as well. Brian Gist, an attorney in the Atlanta office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, said his advocacy organization has various air-quality concerns about the toll lanes. Those include whether transit will actually work on the lanes, whether they will use “clean” buses, and whether drivers who can’t afford tolls will boost pollution by sitting in congestion or using local streets instead. “The question is, if we want these [toll lanes] to benefit regional transit … are we really incorporating transit into those lanes?” asks Gist. His group also believes GDOT could do a better job of “taking a hard look at the aggregate impact of all these projects,” he said. Another new factor with toll lanes is the proposal for portions of them to run on elevated ramps 30 or more feet tall. That idea has drawn some local criticism about aesthetics and right of way, but it may have air quality effects, too. Gist said his group has yet to study the issue, but that elevated lanes could

Exhaust-related air pollution is broadly trending downward due to tighter fuel-efficiency standards and other regulations, Gist and D’Onofrio said, but remains a significant problem, and new transportation technology hasn’t solved it. Electric vehicles, which eliminate local pollution, are still a small factor, and such new developments as ride-sharing services and autonomous vehicles may increase congestion and pollution, Gist said. Fossil-fuel vehicles produce several types of air pollution, such as ozone, which can cause health problems, and greenhouse gases that SPECIAL contribute to climate change. They also produce “particulate matter” — tiny particles of pollutants that, when inhaled, can cause cancer and heart and lung disease, among other lethal ills. Metro Atlanta’s highway pollution was a major issue and legal battle in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gist said, when the region was ruled out of compliance with federal air-quality standards. Various regulations, along with tighter federal fuel-efficiency standards, now have the region in compliance, Gist said. Road projects like Transform 285/400 are required to be built in ways that do not increase air pollution above those federal rules. But federal standards don’t tell the entire story about such dangerous pollutants as particulate matter. An example is a type known as “PM2.5,” meaning particles 2.5 micrometers in size — so tiny they can go directly into the bloodstream when inhaled. PM2.5 from vehicle exhaust usually falls out of the air within 300 to 500 feet of roads, Gist and D’Onofrio say. The federal limit for PM2.5 exposure is an annual average of 12 micrograms per cubic meter, which the metro area at least meets, according to Gist and D’Onofrio. But the World Health Organization recommends a practical standard of 10


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SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net micrograms per cubic meter, and also says that any amount of PM2.5 air pollution has demonstrated illness-causing effects. “There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure or a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur,” the WHO said in a 2013 report, which estimated 3.1 million deaths from the pollution worldwide in 2010. To the ARC, even today’s lower levels of PM2.5 are a significant health concern. In 2016, the ARC produced the “Atlanta Roadside Emissions Exposure Study” to look at the local effects of PM2.5 pollution from vehicle exhaust. A major motive, D’Onofrio said, is informing governments that might build along roadways about pollution risks. “People shouldn’t be building schools right next to freeways. Playgrounds shouldn’t be next to freeways,” he said. The study includes a highly detailed map of how PM2.5 pollution is estimated to spread from metro Atlanta roadways, color-coded to show annual average concentrations of 1.2 to 7.1 micrograms per cubic meter. The map uses traffic, emissions, weather and physics modeling based on 2015 data that D’Onofrio said would not have changed significantly yet; an update is planned in about two years. On the map, the 285/400 interchange puts much of Perimeter Center into red and orange areas reflecting higher PM2.5 concentrations. The most intense estimated pollution is along I-285 in Sandy Springs between Long Island and Glenridge drives. Allen Road Park, featuring a playground and sports courts, is within that area; the city’s Hammond and Ridgeview parks are in higher-concentration areas as well. So are Dunwoody’s Georgetown Recreation Club and the publicly accessible green spaces in Perimeter Center’s Concourse and Ravinia skyscraper complexes. All of the “Pill Hill” hospitals — Northside, Emory Saint Joseph’s and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite — are also in higher-concentration zones; Northside said it uses industry-standard air filtration and monitoring systems that would keep out pollutants. But air patterns make some results surprising. Fulton County’s Heards Ferry Elementary and Riverwood high schools are directly next to I-285, but in lower-concentration areas for PM2.5 — though they still get some, between 2 and 3 micrograms per cubic meter. D’Onofrio said that exhaust-related particulate matter is only about 30 to 50 percent of overall air pollution, so areas with higher PM2.5 concentration probably have other significant air pollutant levels as well. “You should be worried about any kind of air pollution in general,” he said.

285/400 impacts

When GDOT’s 2015 environmental study for Transform 285/400 reported “no significant impact,” that meant it will meet federal pollution standards. What that means at the local level has some nuances. The study broadly refers to what Gist calls the typically “give and take” concept of vehicle-caused pollution: If traffic moves through the area faster as intended by the project, vehicles will dump less pollution in any given spot; but the improved road might attract more drivers, which will boost overall pollution. The study does not quantify the assumptions and generally presented it as a canceling-out effect. The study predicted that Transform 285/400 will slightly reduce carbon monoxide emissions in the entire area, but may slightly increase around certain interchanges. Particulate matter pollution would continue to meet federal standards, and GDOT avoided doing a “hotspot” analysis of the effects after a state and federal review. Another type of pollution addressed by GDOT’s study was “mobile source air toxics,” referring to various particular pollutants, including cancer-causing substances. GDOT said there are no agreed-upon standards for measuring and controlling them yet and predicted the project would have “no appreciate impact” on their local levels. But that still meant a projected 9.4 percent increase in the interchange area by 2039. And, GDOT said, new lanes added as part of the interchange reconstruction would put such pollution closer to homes and businesses. GDOT also addressed “environmental justice” issues, saying that minority and low-income households within the project area were clustered along the western section of I-285. GDOT reported no project impact on that area, but it’s the zone that the ARC maps show as having the highest local concentrations of PM2.5 highway pollution. As GDOT begins planning the additional toll lanes, Gist said air quality should be a significant concern. The bus transit, which could reduce vehicle trips, will only work if the design doesn’t leave the buses “stuck in traffic like everybody else,” he says. There is also the possibility the buses themselves will produce pollution.

A closer look at the interchange’s particulate matter pollution in the Atlanta Regional Commission map.

“We strongly support clean buses,” Gist said, saying his group prefers compressed natural gas fuel over diesel, and electric power above all. Another concern is that drivers who cannot afford the toll lanes will be stuck in traffic and divert their trips onto local streets, increasing conges-

tion and pollution there. Pollution on local streets has a bigger impact, Gist said. “Where there are people walking and riding bikes and waiting for the bus,” he said, “they’re breathing that automobile exhaust.”

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8 | Education

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State school superintendent talks local control, start dates BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

State Superintendent Richard Woods spoke on his support for local control, including on trade-oriented classes and school start dates, during a Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce luncheon Sept. 14. Woods, who took office in 2015 and is running for re-election this year against Democrat Otha Thornton, has focused his platform on decentralizing control, saying he thinks local districts should make the big decisions for their schools, including school schedules. Legislation was introduced in the General Assembly’s last session that would prohibit schools from starting prior to the third week in August. A state Senate study committee is researching how changing the school schedule could affect the travel and hospitality industries. Woods said he understands some industries could be helped by a longer summer, but the school calendar would have to be made up somewhere, either by ending later or cutting mid-year breaks, he said. He also believes the start date should not be mandated by the state. “I really believe in local control and I think they know what is best for their kids,” said Woods, who oversees 1.8 million students across 180 districts. About 90 percent of Georgia children attend public schools, he said. He also believes the importance of tests should be de-emphasized, Woods said at the luncheon, which was held in the City Springs Studio Theatre. “Success is not measured by test scores,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure our kids are ready for life.” Encouraging every student to pursue a college degree from a four-year university is also unnecessary, he said. There is a shortage of employees to fill manual labor jobs, including electrician and contractor positions, he said. “Those are good and honorable trades. They are things that we need,” he said. Shop classes have upgraded dramatically to fill that need in recent years, he said. Increasing local district decisions also includes creating programs focused on trades, Woods said. He has encouraged prominent industries to partner with their local districts to create coursework that could support that business, such as mining in North Georgia or entertainment industry needs. One of the major missing pieces in Georgia needed for the entertainment industry is people who write scripts, so they created new coursework for that, he said. “We want to make sure that we are listening to businesses throughout the state,” he said.

EVELYN ANDREWS

State Superintendent Richard Woods speaks with luncheon attendees at the end of the Sept. 14 event, which was held in the City Springs Studio Theatre.

Agriculture remains the largest industry in the state, he said, but entertainment jobs have grown rapidly as a state tax credit and other incentives draw film and TV productions to Georgia. “Opportunities like we have never seen are at the doorstep for our children,” Woods said. Large school districts in the north metro area should be leaders for smaller districts in the state, Woods said. “You are great incubators of innovation,” he said of Fulton County and other large districts in the area.

Education Briefs S CHO O L S A F ET Y C OMMITTEE NEAR S EN D O F RESEA RC H

The Senate school safety study committee held its next-to-final meeting at Chamblee Charter High School on Sept. 18 as it begins to wrap up its research. The study committee has met with teachers, students, parents and local first responders across the state. Its members inSPECIAL clude local State Sen. Fran Millar. Sens. John Albers, who chairs the committee, Kay Kirkpatrick and Fran Millar. Following the meeting, where the committee heard mostly from Gwinnett County community members, Millar said he expects recommendations to center around needing more funding for safety improvements. That may include allowing schools to

use special purpose tax, or EPLOST, funds for the projects or initiatives, Millar said. “We have to make a safe environment for children,” Millar said. Millar does not support or expect any recommendations to arm teachers. “I don’t see that happening in the metro area,” he said. “It is more important to arm school resource officers.” The committee will meet a final time with community members in Savannah on Oct. 26 before reviewing the information in November at the state Capitol. The committee will then draft a report on its findings and recommendations for the Senate.

N EW GRAD U ATIO N R ATES MI XED F OR LO CAL SCHO O LS

Graduation rates for DeKalb and Atlanta public school districts increased last school year while Fulton’s remained the same, according to state data. Statewide, the graduation rate rose to 81.6 percent in 2018 from 80.6 percent in 2017. DeKalb County School District DeKalb’s graduation rate for 2018 was 75 percent, an increase over 2017’s rate of 74 percent. Chamblee Charter and Dunwoody high schools are two of nine schools in the dis-

trict with rates above 80 percent. Chamblee Charter’s new rate is 83 percent, an increase over 2017’s 81.9 percent. Dunwoody’s is 86 percent, an increase over 2017’s 85.7 percent, according to the state. Cross Keys High’s rate fell to 64.4 percent. Last year, it was 68.7 percent. Fulton County School District The district’s rate remained the same at 86.8 percent, the highest graduation rate of all large metro Atlanta school systems, according to the district. North Springs Charter High School’s rate fell from 90.4 to 90.1. Riverwood International Charter School’s rose from 87 to 92.2, according to the district. Atlanta Public Schools Atlanta Public Schools’ rate increased to 77 percent in 2018. The rate in 2017 was 71.1 percent, according to the district. North Atlanta High School’s rate fell from 94.9 percent to 92.5, according to the state.

R IVERWO O D CLU STER FI R S T IN D ISTR ICT TO R ECEIV E IB CER TIFICATIO N

Three elementary schools that feed into Riverwood International Charter School have received International Baccalaureate certification, making Riverwood the first Fulton cluster to be completely certified.

Heards Ferry, High Point and Lake Forest elementary schools have been certified by the elite education organization, the Fulton County School District announced Sept. 14. Riverwood International Charter School was certified in 1999 and Ridgeview Charter School in 2009, the district said in a press release. IB certification is a long process that includes consultations and verification visits from the international organization. Becoming an IB school allows it to be part of global of network of schools that focus on the personal development of students and academic rigor, according to the website. Schools pay thousands in fees to apply and annual fees each year to be a member. There are also fees associated with the special tests administered to students, according to the website. Lib Roberts, High Point’s certification coordinator, said in the press release that the certification is expected to increase student performance and provide more opportunities for students after graduation. “The greatest benefit will be that entire generations of students will begin to see the world as a more connected place where people with varied heritages and cultures are able to celebrate and embrace our human commonalities rather than our differences,” Roberts said in the release.


Education | 9

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Riverwood International Charter School budget rises by $5M

FULTON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

An illustration shows the planned design for the new Riverwood International Charter School.

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

After expressing surprise and disappointment, the Fulton County Board of Education voted unanimously to increase the budget for a phase of the new Riverwood Charter International School in Sandy Springs by more than $5 million. District 5 Board Member Linda McCain said she understands that construction costs are rising nationwide, but is concerned that the Riverwood project has risen to encompass about 10 percent of the district’s capital budget for the next five years. “This is unbelievable,” McCain said. “Did we design this building to be one of the most expensive buildings we’ve done in Fulton County? That’s my only takeaway from this,” she said. The Fulton County School District staff attributed the increases to rising construction costs, particularly for such materials as cement and steel. The school, located off of Heards Ferry Road at 5900 Raider Drive, is being built in seven phases to allow the school to remain open during construction. That process is causing the construction time to be much longer than typical, another factor driving up costs, said Patrick Burke, the district chief operating officer, said during a presentation at the board’s Sept. 13 work session, which is archived in video online. Delaying approval of the “Phase 2B” contract increase, which totals $5,766,746, could affect costs and schedules, he cautioned. The total budget for Phase 2B, which includes roofing, doors, windows, interior finishes and landscaping, now comes to $29,580,046. To prevent similar increases for the following phases, Burke said phases 3 through 7 will be bid in a way that locks in the prices. District 2 Board Member Katie Reeves expressed disappointment and shock that district staff or the construction manager did not see the cost increase coming.

“Somebody should have caught this,” Reeves said. “I’m having a tough time trying to absorb that every single gut check along the way failed us.” District 4 Board Member Linda Bryant said that this is not the only project funded by the special purpose local option tax that has gone over budget. She renewed her call for an audit of SPLOST projects that gets into more details than the annual audit already done.

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10 | Commentary

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Commentary / A call for Sandy Springs’ own school system When it comes to education, bigger is not better. Simply put, the mega county school systems in the Atlanta area are too big to be effective. This is why Sandy Springs needs its own school system and I am supporting a school feasibility study. It’s hard to comprehend the size of Fulton County Schools. FCS serves an area that is 70 miles from north to south; oversees 105 schools and more than 10,000 employees; has nearly 100,000 students; and has an annual budget of $1.7 billion. It’s an enormous school district. This enormity became apparent when I worked with a group of parents called Citizens for a New North Springs. We successfully lobbied for a new facility to replace our local high school — the oldest in Fulton County. It was noticeable to many, besides the two school board members representing Sandy Springs, that the board was unfamiliar with North Springs High School. Understandably, it is a challenge for seven board members to have in-depth knowledge of 105 schools. This begged the question: Shouldn’t all those governing have a comprehensive knowledge of all schools they are making decisions about? Would a local Board of Education for Sandy Springs be able to better understand the unique needs of our 10,000 students at our 11 public schools? We believe all evidence points to “yes.” A new group has formed — Citizens for Local Area School Systems — and is raising funds to commission a study to look at the feasibility of a Sandy Springs school system. We know that the creation of the city of Sandy Springs resulted in improved services for citizens, greater accessibility to

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elected leaders, more accountability, a noticeable tax increase this year. Last increased community input for desired year, Sandy Springs paid $135 million outcomes, and better fiscal responsibilin local school taxes — or 25 percent of ity. the FCS local tax budget. Yet we have 10 Local control of school systems folpercent of the students and schools in lows the same result. It’s no surprise the county. We could keep our tax monthat six of the top 10 ranked Georgia ey here in Sandy Springs for our stupublic school systems are city school dents. systems. Dozens of studies show smallFounding Mayor Eva Galambos said er, local control means better student of her fight to create the city of Sanoutcomes, regardless of dy Springs: “The thing that the racial makeup and really brought about the economic status of stuchange was when we startdents. ed paying huge income taxBetter outcomes for es and we realized how students are key. Smallmuch of our income was beer school systems are able ing redistributed. When you to be more flexible in how see how the money is wastthey approach education. ed, you get a different phiA smaller school district losophy.” knows the strengths and The city of Dunwoody needs of the local schools, commissioned an economstudents and communiic feasibility study that ty. For example, Sandy showed a city school system Springs is home to more would result in a $30 million businesses than any muis a member of Citizens dollar annual surplus. It folnicipality in the area. for a New North Springs lows that Sandy Springs Our city is rich in busiand Citizens for Local should see similar results. ness, civic commitment, Area School Systems. This could mean better use volunteers and activism. of tax money, breaks for seWe could better leverage nior citizens, and increased this strength for students. compensation for teachers. Currently, there is a limited amount of In the next state legislative session counselors and internship/vocationthere will be many people working for al training coordinators. Many parents locally controlled, smaller school sysfeel earlier counseling and more coortems. The first step for the citizens of dinated internship experiences could Sandy Springs is to fund this feasibility better serve our kids on college applistudy to see if we can support our own cations or career success after high school system. We can then bring it to school. our mayor and City Council to ask for Beyond student outcome, properfurther action. ty owners in Sandy Springs should For more information about the take notice. Fifty percent or more of study effort, see gofundme.com/localyour property tax bill goes to schools. area-school-systems. Many residents, myself included, saw

Cheryl Barlow

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

Remembering an old-fashioned journalist One of the things that takes some getting used to as you get older is that you have so much more to remember. Not new things; you forget those. Old things. Something you see will set off a little Roman candle in the back of your brain and suddenly you’re remembering something that happened in 1969 or someone you knew in 1975. The confluence of recent high-profile funerals for John McCain and Aretha Franklin sparked in me the memory of the quite different memorial event that occurred a generation ago. I hadn’t thought about my friend Jim in a long time, but (although I was living half a continent away at the time, so I wasn’t present in person) stories I heard of his funeral stick with me all these years later. It was either the saddest or the most affectionate memorial I’ve ever heard of. And I still can’t quite figure out which it is. Jim was an old-fashioned newspaperman. He was a little guy, had a white beard and wore a coat and tie to work every day. He’d hacked his way for years around small-town papers scattered across the Carolinas. I knew him when I was just starting my career at the afternoon paper in my hometown and he was finishing up his as the daily columnist on the bigger morning paper. Jim was like other newspaper columnists I’ve known through the years — very little like the man his readers thought he was. In real life, he was a quiet guy who was friendly, but mostly kept to himself. He dated a woman on the copy desk and may have been married before, but he never talked much about his personal life or history. He smoked a lot of cigarettes and loved a cherry-flavored soft drink called Cheerwine that was made in his hometown and that he enthused over in print whenever he couldn’t think of anything else to write about. The person he appeared to be in his column was quite different. He came off as a complete extrovert, a friendly guy who loved to chat anytime, anyplace about anything. People who’d never met him thought he was a gabby, bubbly guy. He wasn’t. There were a few stories about him that made the rounds, of course. One time, the office wags said, Jim was sitting quietly in the newsroom when a call went out over the police scanner about an armed robbery that had just taken place. The dispatcher described the getaway car and Jim looked up, bemused. The car sounded a lot like his car. Then the dispatcher called out the license plate number and it was his license plate number. Then the dispatcher broadcast Jim’s address and said officers were being dispatched there immediately to arrest him. Jim scrambled to the phone to call the cops and say it couldn’t be him because he had been sitting in the newsroom all morning surrounded by fellow reporters and please don’t come arrest him. It must be a mistake. It wasn’t. It turned out the robbers had stolen it from a parking lot to use in the holdup. Jim was probably best known among us younger reporters for his group beach trips. He’d worked at a lot of papers and knew a lot of writers, so every year — sometimes twice a year — he’d gather a crew of 15 to 25 at the Cadillac Motel in Myrtle Beach for a long weekend of poker, drinking, fishing and eating seafood. Jim loved to play a game we called “monte.” A player started with a two-card or three-card hand and could improve it with several draws of replacement cards followed by betting. Best two-card or three-card hand won. Jim liked it because it moved fast and a lot of us could play at once. He also liked it because he won a lot. He didn’t drink alcohol, so he’d sit at the table with bottle of Cheerwine and quietly stack up the chips as the rest of us grew drunker through the evening. After Jim died, there was some sort of service, but his buddies held on to his ashes. A few months later, some of the beach trip regulars carried his urn along on a poker trip to the Cadillac Motel. At some point during the evening, someone called for a round of monte. They set Jim’s ashes at the head of the table, opened a bottle of Cheerwine and set it next to him and dealt him a hand. Jim won the hand. The players gathered the chips and put them in the urn with his ashes and raised a glass to him. The next morning, they dumped the ashes and chips into the ocean at a spot where Jim like to fish. There were no anecdote-filled eulogies or public outpourings of affection and grief that I ever heard about. Just a few guys sharing a last card game and a drink. Perhaps that’s sad. But I think Jim would have liked it that way. He always kept to himself.

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12 | Community

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In DeKalb ‘no man’s land,’ residents debate annexation, new cityhood BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

in February when state Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) introduced a bill to create the city and state Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) signed on to carry it in the Senate. The Vista Grove bill must be introduced for a second time in 2019. But Taylor is not

tended the Sept. 20 community meeting. Flake said the Vista Grove initiative is a nonpartisan one and support is being sought from legislators on both sides of the aisle in the upcoming session. He said he hopes the cityhood initiative

would start raking in about $9 million a year in the new special local option sales tax approved last year that is now going to DeKalb County for public safety and transportation improvements. Marjorie Hall Snook is part of the group

John Ziegler walked up the steep hill of the Enclave at Briarcliff condominium complex’s parking lot overlooking roaring trucks and massive cranes a short distance away. After living here for nearly eight years, the new noise isn’t too bad, he said with a smile. He looked across the DeKalb County line into Brookhaven where crews are building two new office buildings and a parking garage as part of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s massive development at the North Druid Hills Road and I-85 interchange. PHOTOS BY DYANA BAGBY The property Left, the proposed map for Vista Grove encompasses land below I-85 and includes approximately 61,000 residents. Middle, State Rep. Scott Holcomb, left, and state Sen. Fran Millar attend a recent community meeting to discuss the Vista Grove cityhood movement. of Ziegler and his Right, John Ziegler, a resident at the Enclave at Briarcliff condominiums, stands on the parking deck neighbors is poised of the complex that overlooks Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta construction. to be annexed into Brookhaven. But that comes only after seeking reelection and Millar faces Demomakes it way through the General AssemDeKalb Strong that opposes new cities. backers of the proposed city of Vista Grove crat and former state representative Sally bly next and the Vista Grove referendum is If people want to live in a city, Snook said tried to bring the Enclave at Briarcliff into Harrell in November. Dunwoody residents placed on the November 2019 ballot. If so they could move to one of DeKalb’s existtheir struggle for what one observer calls Mike Wilensky, a Democrat, and Republiand if approved, the new city would hold ing municipalities. DeKalb’s “no man’s land.” can Ken Wright are vying for Taylor’s seat. city elections in March 2020. Many Vista Grove supporters also supThe debate between annexation and Millar attended the Sept. 20 meetBut why not seek to have smaller arported LaVista Hills and Snook said this cityhood rages throughout metro Atlanta ing held at Embry Hills United Methodist eas annexed into another city, such as new attempt at cityhood is like the movie as local governments fight over millions in Church. He said he supports Vista Grove Brookhaven, rather than creating a new “Groundhog Day” where the protagonist taxes and fees. For Ziegler, the decision to because 61 percent of his constituents supcity? lives the same day over and over. seek annexation into Brookhaven is about ported LaVista Hills. Angela Barnett, an Oak Grove neighbor“Enough already,” she said of the latest eliminating uncertainty. “I said I would not sponsor a [new city hood resident and Vista Grove supporter, Vista Grove initiative. “There’s a group that “We voted in September last year to be bill], but I will carry it in the Senate,” he said cities are not seeking to annex neighdoesn’t want to be deterred and can’t acannexed into Brookhaven and then Vista said. “As a legislator, I believe in giving peoborhoods like hers. “My area is predomicept they lost.” Grove announced its plans in November,” ple the right to vote.” nantly residential … and nobody is trying As a native DeKalb County resident, she Ziegler said. “We want to be part of a city He also said if he is not reelected to the to get us,” she said. “There is no big comsaid she purposefully chose to live in uninthat is already known.” Senate, Vista Grove is likely to fail because mercial district here … like they have in corporated DeKalb because she wants to be The Enclave at Briarcliff was included the General Assembly and DeKalb County Dunwoody and Brookhaven.” part of the “broad diversity” of the county. in the proposed city of LaVista Hills, which delegation are tiring of cityhood efforts. Sandy Springs initiated the north metro “I don’t want to be pulled off into some was rejected by voters by a slim margin in “And this is a political reality — if I’m Atlanta cityhood movement in 2005 when enclave,” she said. 2015. Ziegler said he and many Enclave at not there in the Senate to push [the Vista 94 percent of voters approved breaking off Residents frustrated because they feel Briarcliff residents opposed LaVista Hills. Grove bill] it won’t happen,” Millar added, from Fulton County. In DeKalb, voters apthey are not getting the services they feel Despite this, Vista Grove organizers includimplying Harrell would not support Vista proved Dunwoody in 2008 and Brookhavthey deserve for the tax dollars they pay are ed the Enclave at Briarcliff in their newest Grove. en in 2013. the impetus for all cityhood movements. map. Harrell said in an email Millar is “misAdvocates for cities often tout the “three “That frustration builds up,” said GaThe proposed Vista Grove has a popularepresenting” her position on Vista Grove Ps” for forming: improving street paving, briel Starling, a former Sandy Springs tion of about 61,000 residents and includes and if elected in November she would lispolice and parks. Flake explained the Vista City Councilmember who has consulted much of the LaVista Hills map including ten to constituents and study the issue. Grove initiative is also about ensuring tranwith other cityhood movements, including Lakeside High School, Briarlake, Sagamore “However, cityhood is not a simple ansit options such as trails, sidewalks, bike Brookhaven, Johns Creek and LaVista Hills. and Oak Grove elementary schools, and swer,” she said. lanes and multiuse paths, as well as having “That section of DeKalb [below I-85] Northlake Mall. She noted Gov. Nathan Deal this year a local say in zoning issues and community is a no man’s land,” he said, because resi“We really have a historical opportuniexpressed his own unease with the cityplanning and economic development. dents feel they don’t have someone on the ty to strengthen our civic ties and sense of hood process when signing the controverDeKalb County has 13 municipalities DeKalb Board of Commissioners living in identity,” said Andrew Flake, a Vista Grove sial bill to carve out land from the existing and 750,000 residents. The county protheir area looking out for them. organizer, at a Sept. 20 community meetcity of Stockbridge to create a new city of vides major services to most cities, like waFor Flake, though, the area is more than ing attended by more than 50 people. Eagles Landing. ter and sewer, but Flake said it is a “natural a “no man’s land”; it’s prime real estate for After the creation of eight cities in metDeal asked the legislature to next year progression” for smaller areas to break off a new city. ro Atlanta following Sandy Springs’ apdevelop a “comprehensive, detailed and from the county. Fulton County is entirely “We’ve been a community for more proval in 2005, the General Assembly in uniform process” for creating new cities. municipalized, he noted. than 50 years,” he said of the area. “Vista 2016 mandated proposed new cities pay “Cityhood should not be rushed and But cityhood opponents note that when Grove is a new name … but having our own for financial feasibility studies. Vista Grove there should be widespread consensus bethe affluent, mostly white communities city means we have the opportunity to decleared that hurdle earlier this year. fore moving forward,” Harrell said. of north DeKalb break off, the rest of the fine ourselves.” The two-year process for Vista Grove State Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) county suffers. to become a city was kicked off officially and his GOP opponent Ellen Diehl also atIf approved, for example, Vista Grove

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| 13

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14 | Community

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proved last year is not part of the 2019 budget, however. The city approved raising the hotel-motel tax specifically to fund green spaces and trails in Perimeter Center where the hotels are located. City officials are waiting to see how much money will be generated and how to best finance the various projects. The proposed budget is slated to go before the City Council in October to be approved. “Brook Run Park is big on the budget this year, probably the biggest item,” Mayor Denis Shortal said in an interview. How to pay for Brook Run Park’s proposed new amenities has been a hot topic among the council this year. A yearlong master planning process was undertaken and council members are planning to approve funding by the end of the year before construction costs rise. Current estimates for all the proposed new amenities at Brook Run Park total $7.5 million. These include the two new fields, the band shell, but also a new picnic area, a new open play field, a new entrance and a disc golf course. The fields and band shell with amphitheater seating together are estimated to cost right at $5 million, according to the latest estimates. The council will consider the final estimates in December. Shortal said the proposed budget includes spending the nearly $3 million left over from a DeKalb parks bond set-

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tlement in 2015 at Brook Run Park. Another approximate $1.5 million is also being picked up by the city this year from DeKalb County from the now defunct homestead option sales tax, he explained. When DeKalb voters last year approved a special local option sales tax to fund transportation and public safety, they also approved an equitable homestead option sales tax. Revenue from the EHOST and SPLOST started flowing into the city from the county in April. But that meant their HOST funding was still in play for January, February and March. And for Dunwoody, those three months of HOST money means about $2 million for Brook Run Park, Shortal said. The city expects to receive about $7 million a year for the next six years in SPLOST funding. Other highlights of the proposed 2019 budget include more than $3 million for paving and sidewalk improvements, including money for the Chamblee-Dunwoody Road at Spalding Drive intersection improvement project and the Tilly Mill Road sidewalk project. Another hot topic — what to do with the Dunwoody Village Overlay — is addressed in the proposed budget with $100,000 for a consultant to work with the city on any needed updates and zoning revisions. The bulk of the city’s revenues next year is expected to come from more than $21 million in taxes and another $1.6 million from licenses and permits.

$9.4 million $125,000

Public Works:

$2.58 million

Parks:

$2.86 million

Community Development:

$1.95 million

Economic Development:

$300,012

Contingency:

$100,000 DUN


Community | 15

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

We are pround to welcome

Luxury senior housing community proposed in Kingsley neighborhood

Dr. Abubakr Chaudhry to our team.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

A proposed infill development on 4.5 acres in the Kingsley neighborhood would include seven luxury homes for people 55 and older. The concept comes on the heels of anothA Google Earth image shows the property surrounding 2281 Whitfield er proposed Drive where a developer is proposing building seven houses. housing development on The 79-unit Dunwoody Village townRoberts Drive also targeting older adults. homes include eight “master on main” A community meeting for the Kingsley units for older seniors who cannot climb development is set for Oct. 1 at 11:30 a.m. at stairs. The City Council mandated the mas2281 Whitfield Drive, located down a priter on main units when they approved revate driveway off Seaton Drive. zoning for the project in 2016 due to the Robert Donner, owner and president of lack of such housing in the city. Southern Gentry Homes, said he is proposThe Dunwoody Village townhomes ing building the new cottage-style homes were also designed to target active seniors, starting at $750,000. The custom-designed, the same demographic Donner wants to single-story homes are expected to be 2,800 live in his proposed community. to 3,500 square feet and would include access to the master bedroom, kitchen and other rooms on one level, he said. The gated housing community is intended to provide an option for Dunwoody’s older residents who want such amenities as master bedrooms on the main floor, Donner said. “Dunwoody is deficient in this product,” he said. The proposed community would provide concierge services, community areas for social activities, nature trails and private access to a nearby lake, Donner said. “This is a serene setting conducive to retirement,” he said. Another developer wants to build 10 houses on Roberts Drive, across the street from the new Austin Elementary School and the Dunwoody Nature Center, for “empty-nesters.” Starting price would be $700,000. At a recent community meeting on that proposed development, more than 50 people showed up and most expressed skepticism that retired adults would live there. Many said the property so close to the new school would attract families with young children. Donner said the area where he wants to build is tucked into a private setting. There are many single-family homes in the area and Kingsley Elementary School is close by. He said he hears from many Dunwoody residents who tell him there needs to be more senior accessible housing in the city. He added that a lengthy waiting list for the Dunwoody Village townhomes was proof enough to him his proposed development would be successful. DUN

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GET ACTIVE SUNDAY COMMUNITY CYCLE

BROOKHAVEN

BUCKHEAD

DUNWOODY

SANDY SPRINGS

PERFORMANCES ‘THE UGLY DUCKLING”

Sunday, Oct. 7, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. New Orleans-based Lightwire Theater brings the story of “The Ugly Duckling” alive on a stage lined with electroluminescent wire and charged with a blend of puppetry, technology and dance. $12-$16. Morris & Rae Frank Theatre at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/boxoffice or call 678-812-4002.

CONCERT AND CAJUN DANCE

Sunday, Oct. 7, 4-7 p.m. The Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association presents Carolina Gator Gumbo, a group of musicians from Charlotte, N.C. who mix traditional Cajun and Creole arrangements with touches of country and blues. Cajun/Creole food for sale. All ages. No partner necessary. $18; $14 active military; $5 students. Free beginners’ dance lesson at 3 p.m. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: aczadance.org or 877-338-2420.

“THE GRADUATE”

Friday, Oct. 12 to Sunday, Oct. 28 Act3 Productions presents a play adaptation of the 1967 romantic comedy film “The Graduate,” the story of a recent college graduate who is seduced by an older woman and then falls in love with her daughter. $15-$23. Act3 Playhouse in Sandy Springs Plaza, 6285-R Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: act3productions.org.

“TWELFTH NIGHT”

Sunday, Oct. 7, 3-4 p.m. Join Bike-Walk Dunwoody on the first Sunday of each month for a community bicycle ride. The event starts at 2:45 p.m. at Village Burger on Dunwoody Village Parkway with a short pre-ride safety talk. Riders depart at 3 p.m. for a 4.5-mile loop around Dunwoody. All ages and abilities welcome. Helmets required. Free. Hang out after the ride for $1 custards, $1 off beers, and postride socializing at Village Burger, 1426 Dunwoody Village Pkwy., Dunwoody. Info: bikewalkdunwoody.org.

FOOTPRINTS FOR THE FUTURE 10K/5K AND LITERACY EVENT

Saturday, Oct. 13, 7:30-11:30 a.m. Races begin at 7:45 a.m. The Sandy Springs Education Force hosts its fifth annual Peachtree Road Race qualifying 10K/5K and a new post-race Literacy Event featuring author and illustrator meet and greets, book signings and presentations, a book character dress-up parade and storytelling. Race fees vary. Literacy Event is free. City Springs Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: active.com/sandy-springs-ga.

FESTIVALS AND COMMUNITY EVENTS APPLE CIDER DAYS

Through October The Dunwoody Preservation Trust presents a series of fun and educational events at historic venues. Among the highlights are an Oct. 6 guided tour of a burial ground of some of Dunwoody’s founding families; an Oct. 13 “Village Fest” at the 1870 Donaldson-Bannister Farm with musical performances, food and family activities; and an Oct. 20 genealogy seminar on tracing your family tree. Most events are free. Info: appleciderdays.org.

Friday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 13, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Galloway Theatre Company presents a one-hour-long version of “Twelfth Night,” a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare characterized by mistaken identities, love triangles and emotional reunions. $10; $5 students. Chaddick Center for the Arts at The Galloway School, 215 West Wieuca Road. N.W., Buckhead. Info: gallowayschool.org.

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Art & Entertainment | 17

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

HIGH

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Enjoy free admission and special programs on the second Sunday of each month.

CERAMIC BOWL SALE

Friday, Oct. 5, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 7, noon to 5 p.m. The annual Spruill Center for the Arts Ceramic Bowl Sale offers pieces created by students and instructors of the center’s Ceramics Department. All proceeds benefit the Ceramics Department. On Friday night, a variety of chili can be sampled. Free. Spruill Arts Education Center, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: spruillarts.org.

BLESSING OF THE PETS

Sunday, Oct. 14, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Animal lovers are invited to Brook Run Dog Park for the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s Blessing of the Pets. Rabbis and pastors will give public and private blessings to people and leashed or caged pets of all faiths and backgrounds. Vendors, pet adoptions, low-cost vaccinations, microchipping. Free. 4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/pets.

HARVEST ON THE ’HOOCH TASTE FEST

OCT. 14 & NOV. 11 Designed for little kids, big kids, and the whole family, Second Sundays are for everyone. Visit us each month and experience new interactive, innovative family activities inspired by our collections and ever-changing exhibitions. Second Sundays are sponsored by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

Sunday, Oct. 14, 1-4 p.m. The Chattahoochee Nature Center holds its annual outdoor food and craft beer event featuring food tastings from local chefs, samplings from local craft breweries, live bluegrass music and games. The event raises funds for the nature center’s urban farm which supplies more than five tons of fresh produce annually to the North Fulton Community Charities food pantry. $50 adults ($45 advance); $15 children; ages 10 and younger free. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: chattnaturecenter.org/ special-events/fundraisers/harveston-the-hooch.

LEARN SOMETHING HISTORIC

GROWING FRUIT IN GEORGIA

Mondays, Oct. 1 and Oct. 8, 7-8:30 p.m. Coming up next in a series of Monday fall lectures by North Fulton Master Gardeners at the Lost Corner Preserve: Oct. 1 — Learn about fruits that grow well in Georgia, even in small backyards; Oct. 8 — Composting. $10 donation requested. 7300 Brandon Mill Road, Sandy Springs. Info: friendsoflostcorner.org/master-gardenerclasses.

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FALL WEATHER IS HERE!

Continued from page 17

DUNWOODY FINE ART ASSOCIATION PROGRAM

Wednesday, Oct. 3, 9:30 a.m. Artist and instructor Maureen Engle, who uses a fresh approach in her palette knife and watercolor paintings, presents the October program of the Dunwoody Fine Art Association. Refreshments and social time are followed by the program at 9:45 a.m. Open to all interested artists. Free. Spruill Arts Center, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Room 4, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodyfineart.org.

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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 9:30 a.m. Daniel Tindol, owner of Floristique Weddings and Events, offers tips on designing a holiday wreath at the next meeting of the Dunwoody Garden Club. The club meets monthly on second Wednesdays from September to May. Free. New Pavilion at the Dunwoody Nature Center, 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodygardenclub.com.

Come watch Braves Playoff Run, the Falcons & Atlanta United!

“FREDERICK DOUGLASS: PROPHET OF FREEDOM” Thursday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m.

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Author and editor David W. Blight discusses his biography of Frederick Douglass, who escaped from slavery in Maryland and went on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. $10, $5 for members. Reservations are suggested. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road N.W., Buckhead. Info: 404-8144150 or AtlantaHistoryCenter.com/Lectures.

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Saturday, Oct. 13, 10 a.m. Kids can make a bird feeder out of materials such as sticks, cardboard tubes and pine cones in this edition of the monthly Little Diggers family gardening series. Suited for ages 6-10 with an accompanying adult. Presented by Heritage Sandy Springs in partnership with the North Fulton Master Gardeners. Free. Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market, 220 Mount Vernon Highway at City Springs, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org.

PARTY WITH A PURPOSE VINTAGE AFFAIR

Saturday, Oct. 13, 6-10 p.m. The Community Assistance Center hosts its 16th annual Vintage Affair at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church. This year’s theme is the Golden Age of Hollywood and guests are invited to dress as their favorite Hollywood icons or in vintage Hollywood style. Food from local restaurants, wine tasting, auction. The Vintage Affair benefits CAC, a nonprofit that promotes self-reliance and helps people meet basic needs in the Sandy Springs and Dunwoody communities. $110; $200 couples. 805 Mount Vernon Highway N.W., Sandy Springs. Info: vintageaffair.org.

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Community | 19

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Between Buckhead and Bankhead, life expectancy has a 25-year gap BY ANDY MILLER Life expectancy at an English Avenue neighborhood address, in a low-income section of Atlanta, is 63.6 years. But less than 10 miles away, an address in the affluent Margaret Mitchell area of Buckhead, named after the famous writer, has a life expectancy of 87.2 years. Such startling variations commonly appear in new data that break down life expectancy at birth — the average number of years a person can expect to live — for most of the census tracts in the United States, for the period from 2010 to 2015. A census tract is an area roughly equal to a neighborhood. We all have heard how life expectancy can vary from nation to nation. But this is the first statistical information of its kind that speaks to how our health in the United States is influenced by conditions in the localities where we live. The data was collected through a joint effort of the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC, the National Association for Public Health Information Systems, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the project. “This is really the first measure of health at the neighborhood level,’’ said Abbey Cofsky, managing director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which also helps produce health data by county in the County Health Rankings. The data comparing counties, she noted, “can mask differences between

neighborhoods.” Even a modest-sized county can have great internal diversity, and in some states, especially in the West, counties can be geographically very large.

What’s the problem? Life expectancy has been dropping in the United States over the past couple of years, though there is debate among experts about exactly why. The opioid epidemic may be a major reason for recent declines in Americans’ life expectancy, a new study said in August. Yet a second study found rising death rates among Americans ages 25 to 64, but cited a number of factors as potential causes, HealthDay reported. Nationally, average life expectancy at birth for the 65,662 census tracts studied was 78.8 years. Georgia’s is slightly lower, at 77.4 years, according to the tables. The report on neighborhoods, released in September, said that people in Vinings, an affluent area just outside the city of Atlanta, have the highest average life expectancy at birth in the state, at 87.6 years, while Georgians in Macon have the lowest average life expectancy at birth for the state, at 63.3 years. Factors influencing life expectancy can include access to stable jobs, good education, affordable housing and business investment in a community, Cofsky of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation added. “Some neighborhoods can be cut off from opportunity.’’ Areas with high poverty can lack access to healthy food, and may have safe-

ty problems for residents, she said. The life expectancy data can spark a conversation among stakeholders and community leaders about potential improvements, Cofsky said. The new resource is accompanied by an interactive tool that allows you to plug in your ZIP code or street address and see life expectancy rates in your own neighborhood and how it compares to county- and state-level data, as well as the national average.

Finding out who needs help

“Public health professionals have understood for a while that social determinants of health — the conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, and age — are powerful predictors of one’s life opportunities and health outcomes, including life expectancy,’’ said Dr. Harry Heiman, a health policy expert at Georgia State University. In Atlanta, Buckhead and Bankhead are only a few miles apart, but the difference in life expectancy in the two neighborhoods is almost 25 years, he said. “Even in larger geographic areas whose health outcomes appear to be good, it is critical to assess disparities within the population or geographic area, particularly for disadvantaged groups — those with higher disease burdens, worse health outcomes, and shorter life expectancies,” Heiman said. The data should prompt a “call to action for state leaders and policymakers to not only address the gaps in our health care system, especially for low-

income and rural populations, but to also address the upstream, neighborhood-level social determinants critical to improving health and life opportunities,’’ he said. Tabia Akintobi, associate dean for community engagement at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, said the data “allow us to develop approaches that are more targeted’’ to individual neighborhoods ‘‘so we can target limited public health resources more equitably.’’ “In metro Atlanta and the broader state of Georgia, there are huge differences between communities,” said Akintobi, who’s also principal researcher for the Prevention Research Center at Morehouse. “These differences are not only related to individual behaviors, but, more importantly, the political investments, or lack thereof, in communities that result in poorer housing, lower community economic and workforce development and educational achievement. All of these issues result in the connection between where people live and how healthy they are.” Investment in neighborhoods with poor health outcomes is critically important to address health disparities and advancing health equity, she said. “We have to have strong alliances with businesses,’’ Akintobi said. Policy experts, researchers, government officials, community leaders and businesses and health care providers are all critical “to creating this culture of health that is a return on investment for all,” she said. This story was reported and published in partnership with Georgia Health News.

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e’re honored that Reporter Newspapers has won 24 awards in its division in the Georgia Press Association’s 2018 and 2017 Better Newspaper Competitions, which are judged by newspaper professionals from around the country.

Photography /4 awards Lifestyle Column /5 awards Layout & Design /3 awards Local News Coverage / 3 awards Newspaper Website / 2 awards Business Writing / 2 awards

Thank you to our readers, advertisers and peers who support our mission of providing trusted, hyperlocal community journalism.

Enterprise Writing Special Issue Religion Writing

The #1 preferred source for local news and information!* MAY 12 - 25, 2017• VOL. 8 — NO.

MAY 26 - JUNE 8, 2017 • VOL. 11— NO. 11

FACEBOOK.COM/THEREPORTERNEWSPAPERS

Sandy Springs Reporter

TWITTER.COM/REPORTER_NEWS

► New law is a boost to local beer, whiskey crafters PAGE 4 ► Cuban sandwich shop mixes tastiness with tenacity PAGE 5

Dawn of a new church

10

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Dunwoody Reporter

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Perimeter Business

ERS

TWITTER.COM/REPORTER_NEWS

► Eyed for trails, pipeline routes are serious business

Current City Hall site City proposes targeted for redevelopment $106 million

Little-known vet memorials | 8

johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

The city is proposing a $106 million operating budget for fiscal year 2018, an increase of about a half-percent over the current year, officials said at a May 23

OUT & ABOUT Lantern Parade will light up the Hooch

Page 20 buys condos, displaces tenants

Page 16

johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

JAN PAUL

Chairperson, Georgia Public Broadcasting

See Commentary, Page 14

GRUBB PROPERTIES

OUT & ABOUT Storyteller ‘Rosie the Riveter’ comes to town Page 19

BY JOHN RUCH

From documentaries on diversity and inclusion to community partnerships on autism awareness, GPB is an educational lifeline to millions of Georgia students, teachers and residents.

TERNEWSPAPERS

TWITTER.COM/REPORTER_N

reporternewspapers.net

EWS

MARCH 3 -

on ► MARTA’s CEO speaks response to I-85 disaster PAGE 5

► ‘The good, the bad the ugly’ of 2017 legislative session

SPECIAL SECTION | P22-26

PAGE 14

City’s new medical center wants to grow

Mary Hall Freedom House, a nonprofit that helps women with homelessness and addiction issues, has bought 33 units of a Sandy Springs condominium complex for use as transitional housing and possible redevelopment into a larger facility or headquarters. One of the two dozen tenants currently renting those condo units is complaining about the “irony” of losing her home to an organization that helps the homeless. See HOMELESSNESS on page 22

I want to see a competition that celebrates our everyday Home Kitchen challenges. ... The Chairman would be the Original Iron Chef’s Mother-in-Law. Prizes are a month’s supply of lasagna and a spa weekend. A chef wins if her kids eat her food. Robin’s Nest, page 15

See CURRENT on page 22

DeKalb CEO: EMS response time improves BY DYANA BAGBY

dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Ambulance response times in the city are improving after changes were made by the private company contracted by DeKalb County to provide the emergency service, including hiring more staff, according to county officials. The City Council in December raised serious concerns with the DeKalb Fire & Rescue chief and the regional director of American Medical Response over ambulance response times in the city, noting there were numerous instances of ambuSee DEKALB on page 13

PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER

on April 8 as part Corporate Boulevard page 19. of Peachtree Creek around For more photos, see a bank of the north fork “Sweep the Hooch” event. Volunteers clean up Riverkeeper’s annual of the Chattahoochee

EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR Passing on her culinary passion Page 27

OUT & ABOUT Get grounded with Earth Day events I believe [President

Trump] is strong enough to force Congress to break through this nonsense and get something done. DAVID PERDUE U. S. Senator

See PERDUE, page 21.

Page 6

11 — NO. 5

FACEBOOK.COM

Glowing for a cause

BY DYANA BAGBY spapers.net dyanabagby@reporternew

A developer plans to build two residential towers and an office tower at Perimeter Center East, where Dunwoody City Hall now is located. Representatives from North Carolina-based Grubb Properties described their proposal, which is still in the concept stage, to the board of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association on May 7. The company owns about 19.5 acres in Perimeter Center East, with three mid-rise office buildings, one of which serves as City Hall. The property is behind the Ravinia complex off Ashford-Dunwoody Road. The city is relocating to a new City Hall

16, 2017 • VOL.

Buckhead Reporter

and

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.n et

percent decline. The police department would get a budget boost of more than 9 percent to about $22.8 million. Part of that is a salAbove, a a bird’s eye view of the proposed redevelopment in ary increase to remain competitive as Perimeter Center East includes, residential towers and a new office to the left, two new tower. In the State Patrol pay boost is attracting offiremain and have retail on the ground center are two current mid-rise office buildings that would floor. To the right are two new apartment Inset, an illustration of what the buildings. cers away from the department, city offistreetscape might look like in the development. cials said. The boost also includes hiring

EXCEPTIO 11 See CITY on pageNAL EDUCATOR ss literature Teaching Homelessne through life nonprofit

FACEBOOK.COM/THEREPOR

Picking up at Peachtree Creek

BY JOHN RUCH

PHIL MOSIER

VOL. 9 — NO. 8

Brookhaven Reporter

PAGE 6

FY2018 budget

home of St. Joseph Maronite to the first Mass, held Sunday, May 14, at the new Rev. Dominique Hanna welcomes his congregation the former building of Apostles St. Joseph moved from an Atlanta location into Catholic Church at Glenridge and Hammond drives. attended St. Joseph’s debut. financial turmoil. More than 400 parishioners Church, a Lutheran congregation that closed amid

Pages 18-19

APRIL 14 - 27, 2017 •

► Buckhead company keeps ‘quirky’ old-school sodas fizzing

City Council meeting. The budget will take effect July 1. The council will hold public hearings on the budget on June 6 and June 20. The budget projects revenues of about $92 million, with money from a reserve fund balancing the expenditures. The revenue projection is about 1 percent higher than fiscal 2017. While most revenue sources are projected to increase, property taxes are expected to show a 2.2

EDUCATION Top of the Class

reporternewspapers.net

PAGE 4

/THEREPORTERN

EWSPAPERS

TWITTER.COM/R

► Historic locomotive makes tracks to Buckhead PAGE 4 SPECIAL SECTIO N | P22-27

Buckhead ma ster plan to allow more input on big ideas

Wearing glow necklaces and Garden Hills shirts with in the Garden Hills/Pe second annual Family reflective shoeprints, adults, Flashlight Fun achtree Park kids of all ages, Run, held Sunday Friends Group strollers and PHOTO BY volunteers, PHIL MOSIER dogs take benefits Childre evening, Feb. 26. The nearly 1-mile to the streets of n’s Healthcare race, organiz of Atlanta. More pictures, page ed by 18.►

BY DYANA BAGBY

apers.net

dyanabagby@reporternewsp

Classroom gam from math to es, Shakespeare

to the April 18 As the days tick down the open 6th Conspecial election to fill each of the 18 cangressional District seat, furiousPage are trying 28 didates in the large field from the pack. ly to separate themselves was at The latest public opportunity forum hosted by the April 9 candidate rs Association the Dunwoody Homeowne Dunwoody High at Crier and Dunwoody early voting in School. Voters are already seat that had been the election to fill the Tom Price, who reheld by Republican

See 6TH on page 18

reporternewspa pers.net

PAGE 5

of Atlanta is seekChildren’s Healthcare along the Northing to have 11.4 acres into the city of east Expressway annexed 8-story office Brookhaven for a proposed massive expansion of building as part of a at North Druid Hills its new 45-acre campus includes buyRoad and I-85. The expansion ing out a church. city officials say is It’s just part of what redevelopment commajor medical-related to the Execuing after years of anticipation tive Park area. request with CHOA filed the annexation is asking for a spethe city on April 5. It also for some of the propcial land-use permit 8-story, 340,000the build to order erty in on land currently square-foot building also wants CHOA zoned only for five stories. to build a parking deck. SLUP requests are The annexation and up by the Planning expected to be taken Council in June. Commission and City is approved SLUP and “If the annexation See CITY on page 20

6th District hopefuls squareEXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR off in debate

EPORTER_NEWS

► New prog ressive attracts activ group ists

OUT & ABOUT A very

[Students need] special more ‘reallife’ education scenarios: finan es, investing, c- performance of budgeting. A lot of ‘The kids graduate Wizard of Oz’ and don’t know how to balan ce a checkbook, Page but know how 6 to do some math problem with only symbols.”

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@rep orternewspape rs.net The Buckh ead master plan will keep on planning for a while. A Feb. 27 community meeting for the “BUCKHEAD REdeFINED” scheduled to plan was be the last, but now input will continue into April to hash out some controversial ideas, said Eric Bosma lead consul n of tant Kimley -Horn. Those clude ideas inlarge and small for Buckhead’s commercial core, from a new Ga. 400 terchange to ina neighborhood trail loop. A crowd of about 100 at the Atlant Internationa a l School receive ing, 90-min d a sprawlute presen tation that rowed some narearlier ideas, others, and elaborated introduced still more concepts, all new while mingli ng short- and long-term plans. Several of its steps” are alread recommended “first y underway, ing the PATH4 like finish00 trail along Ga. 400; some See BUCKHEAD on page 16

Massell: Buckhead getting bigger busier, wealth , ier

BY JOHN RUCH

johnruch@repo

rternewspapers.

Residents grad on preparing e schools students for careers and civic life See COMMUNITY SURVEY Page 14

*Source: independent reader survey

www.ReporterNewspapers.net ■ Published by Springs Publishing LLC

net

Buckhead is big, busy and wealthy. And by 2020, it’ll be even bigger, wealthier. busier and So said Buckhe ad Coalition Sam Massel president l in his annual “State of the Community” address Feb. 23 at the City Club of Buckhe ad, hosted by the Buckhead Business Associa tion. Massell listed branding points” several “bragging and projecting the the neighborhood booms in ’s population, real estate See MASSELL on page 17


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22 | Public Safety

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Two cities take different paths on EMS delivery Continued from page 1 He said there also appeared to be a disconnect between Brookhaven elected officials and city administration. “Brookhaven City Council hasn’t formally taken a position on EMS, so it’s unclear why its city manager said anything at the EMS Council subcommittee,” Nall said. “It’s clear Christian Sigman spoke without having the policy direction of council, which would be a no-no in Dunwoody.” Brookhaven City Manager Christian Sigman batted away Nall’s disappointment. “It is unfortunate that Mr. Nall thought the city of Brookhaven would support the Dunwoody solution before the county could work the issue in a deliberate and holistic fashion,” Sigman said. The Sept. 20 meeting of the Region 3 EMS Council subcommittee was the third meeting of the group tasked with studying DeKalb County EMS response times and the possibility of creating new EMS zones. The final meeting of the subcommittee is slated for Oct. 4 when it is expected to make recommendations to the full EMS Council.

He said DeKalb firefighters, who are often the first on the scene of an emergency but cannot transport patients to a hospital, were quoted on the scene as saying, “This lady needed to get to the hospital right away. Where is the damn ambulance?” The woman died at the hospital, Nall said, and it’s not known if she would have survived if an ambulance arrived sooner. “Response times do matter,” Nall said. The current performance-based contract with AMR requires ambulances respond to calls in under 9 minutes for 90 percent of calls. Dunwoody and

its contract with AMR on a month-tomonth basis. Nall said DeKalb’s own slow response in waiting to address the bad contract until after Dunwoody declared an “EMS Emergency” is more reason for Dunwoody to have its own EMS zone.

Brookhaven to work with DeKalb and AMR, doesn’t back new EMS zone

Sigman announced at the Sept. 20 meeting that Brookhaven was working with DeKalb County and AMR to put a new EMS post on Buford Highway and

Do response times matter?

DeKalb County hired public safety firm AP Triton for $67,000 in June following Dunwoody’s declaration of an “EMS Emergency” in May. The Dunwoody mayor and City Council have complained to DeKalb for several years of AMR’s slow response times. Scott Clough of AP Triton said at the Sept. 20 meeting there is compelling evidence that “response times have no impact on patient outcome” except for a small number of patients with severe trauma or illness, such as a stroke. “Response times in all reality are [made] to ensure contractual compliance,” Clough said. Clough’s statement angered Nall, who has led the city’s effort to create its own EMS zone or at least create a separate EMS zone for DeKalb residents north of I-285 to possibly include other municipalities. “I’m appalled a consultant hired by this county is saying response times don’t matter,” a visibly frustrated Nall told subcommittee members. Nall said EMS response times are a public safety issue that Dunwoody elected officials have a “moral obligation” to address to ensure safety of the city’s 50,000 residents and the 150,000 employees working in the state’s “economic engine” of Perimeter Center. Nall noted that in 2016, it took an ambulance approximately 30 minutes to respond to call of a woman with a head injury on Dunwoody Club Forest.

DYANA BAGBY

Dunwoody City Councilmember Terry Nall, left, tells Brookhaven City Manager Christian Sigman at the Sept. 20 meeting of a state subcommittee that he was stunned Brookhaven is not supporting Dunwoody’s decision to create a new EMS zone in north DeKalb.

Brookhaven have documented many instances where responses times are longer, with Dunwoody citing some ambulances don’t arrive for 20 to 30 minutes or more. The county has fined AMR nearly $1.9 million for failing to meet the contracted response times. Sigman also took exception to Clough’s statement that response times don’t matter. “I don’t buy into that statement about response times,” Sigman said at the Sept. 20 meeting. “We’ll hold the county accountable.” The county and AMR argue the contract signed in 2013 is a bad one. Right now, for example, the county doesn’t pay AMR at all; instead, the company gives the county money for every response. Dunwoody officials say that set-up is backward and creates the wrong incentives. The contract expires at the end of this year and DeKalb officials said at the Sept. 20 meeting a new RFP likely would not be ready until early next year when the consultant’s report is finalized. The county is able to extend

was not supporting Dunwoody in its quest to carve out more localized EMS zones. Nall said in an interview he had been told by Brookhaven City Council members Joe Gebbia and Bates Mattison they wanted Brookhaven to be part of Dunwoody’s decision to seek to create a new EMS zone because Brookhaven was also having issues with slow ambulance response times from the county. Nall added he was “stunned” to hear Sigman contradict what Gebbia and Mattison told him. “Either they have a problem with EMS or they don’t,” Nall said. “This is no way to be a partner for an adjoining city.” Gebbia said he and Mattison did discuss EMS response times with Nall in June at the Georgia Municipal Association’s conference in Savannah. However, Gebbia said he did not tell Nall that Brookhaven wanted to be part of a new EMS zone. Mattison did not return a call for comment. Instead, Gebbia said, he later learned Sigman was working with AMR and

DeKalb to address Brookhaven’s issues with slow response times by putting a new ambulance post at 3292 Buford Highway where a shuttered QuikTrip sits. Three ambulances are expected to be stationed on Buford Highway by the end of the year, Sigman said. The city purchased the QT site in May for $1.7 million to gain a foothold on Buford Highway and hopefully guide redevelopment there. Gebbia has said he’d like to maybe see a city welcome center there. The new EMS post would serve all of DeKalb, but is also intended to provide quicker response times to the northern quadrant of DeKalb County, Sigman told the subcommittee. Brookhaven currently has no ambulance posts in the city. An intergovernmental agreement between DeKalb and Brookhaven for the new ambulance post is slated to be finalized in October. As part of the IGA, Brookhaven would front the approximate $170,000 cost to build out the former QT building so it can be used as an AMR post and DeKalb will then pay back the cost through a year-long rental agreement, Sigman said. Nall said he wondered if Brookhaven’s decision to not support a separate EMS zone was because it did not want to interfere with the “money flow” from DeKalb to pay for the new ambulance post. Gebbia said Nall’s allegation was “irresponsible” and that he understood Nall has spent significant political capital in trying to create a new EMS zone for Dunwoody. “I think what we have is a very good outcome,” Gebbia said of the Buford Highway post. If after a year the response times are not satisfactory for Dunwoody and Brookhaven, Gebbia said Nall’s option to create a new EMS zone might be more viable. Sigman said in an email following the Sept. 20 meeting that Dunwoody officials were aware of Brookhaven’s efforts to establish an EMS post on Buford Highway to improve response times in northern DeKalb. He said the Brookhaven City Council has not provided policy direction to city management to support a carve out for Dunwoody and that the mayor and council were aware of the efforts to establish an EMS post location on Buford Highway. “Only Dunwoody can decide what is best for their city,” Sigman said. “For Brookhaven, we believe DeKalb County Fire Rescue is working the issue in a professional manner with a deliberate pace.”

DUN


Public Safety | 23

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 11, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Police Blotter / Dunwoody From Dunwoody Police reports dated Sept. 16 through Sept. 23. The following information was pulled from Dunwoody’s Police-2-Citizen website.

On Sept. 17 and Sept. 18, four incidents of thefts from vehicles were reported.

LARCENY/ SHOPLIFTING/THEFT

„„100 block of Perimeter Center West —

„„4300

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Sept. 16, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting.

On Sept. 17, in the evening, a theft was reported. „„100 block of Perimeter Center Place —

On Sept. 17, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting.

„„100 block of Perimeter Center Place —

„„2200 block of Charleston Place — On

On Sept. 16, in the afternoon, a shoplifting incident was reported.

Sept. 17, in the evening, items were stolen from a vehicle.

„„100 block of Perimeter Center West —

„„6200 block of Charleston Place — On

On Sept. 16, in the evening, two people were arrested and accused of theft.

Sept. 18, at midnight, items were stolen from a vehicle.

„„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Sept. 16, in the evening, a theft was reported.

„„2300 block of Dunwoody Crossing —

„„4600 block of Peachtree Place Park-

„„5300 block of Ashley Court — On Sept.

way — On Sept. 16, at night, a street robbery involving a weapon was reported.

18, in the morning, a theft from a building was reported.

„„4500 block of Olde Perimeter Way —

„„100 block of Perimeter Center — On

On Sept. 17, in the afternoon, items were reported stolen from a building.

Sept. 18, in the evening and into the next morning, three incidents of thefts from vehicles were reported.

„„100 block of Azalea Garden Drive —

DUN

On Sept. 18, in the early morning, items were stolen from a vehicle.

„„100 block of Perimeter Trace — On

Sept. 18, in the evening and into the next morning, five incidents of thefts from vehicles were reported. „„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Sept. 18, in the evening, a business was robbed at gunpoint.

— On Sept. 21, in the early morning, a theft was reported. „„6700 block of Peachtree Industrial

Boulevard — On Sept. 21, in the morning, a theft was reported. „„4400

„„4700 block of North Peachtree Road

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Sept. 21, in the morning, a shoplifting incident was reported.

— On Sept. 19, in the evening, items were stolen from a car.

„„1200 block of Hammond Drive — On

„„6700 block of Peachtree Industri-

Sept. 22, in the afternoon, a man was arrested on larceny changes.

al Road — On Sept. 19, in the evening, items were reported missing from a car.

„„4400

„„100 block of Perimeter Center East —

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Sept. 22, in the evening, a robbery was reported.

On Sept. 19, at night, items were reported missing from a car.

„„4400

„„100 block of Perimeter Center East —

On Sept. 20, in the early morning items were reported missing from a car. „„4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Sept. 20, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting. „„2400 block of

Lake Ridge Lane

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Sept. 22, in the evening, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting. „„1100 block of Hammond Drive — On

Sept. 23, at noon, a shoplifting incident was reported.

READ MORE OF THE POLICE BLOTTER ONLINE AT

www.ReporterNewspapers.net


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