10-12-18 Buckhead Reporter

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OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018 • VOL. 12 — NO. 21


Buckhead Reporter



► Sexism is a problem in politics, elected officials say PAGE 6 ► Anatomy Fashion Show lends hearts and hands to charity PAGE 8

Pages 12-13

‘More MARTA’ transit in Buckhead will take more money

Biking to the big screen

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Buckhead is a step closer to gaining rail connections to the Atlanta BeltLine and Emory University, plus a slate of bus service improvements, after MARTA approved a “historic” system-wide spending plan Oct. 4. But the transit agency also tempered the excitement, as the sales tax money won’t entirely cover most of those projects, and a quest for more funding will begin. See MORE on page 22 PHIL MOSIER

Jack Abshire, 7, arrives by pedal power at Livable Buckhead’s debut “bike-in” movie night Oct. 4 at Marie Sims Park at the AMLI apartment complexes on Roxboro Road. For the free outdoor screening of the Disney film “Hocus Pocus,” residents were encouraged to ride their bikes. A bike valet service was provided by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. “Riding here was easy and fun, plus I was able to carry everything we need,” said Jack’s mom Jennifer. The next bike-in movie is a screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” Oct. 19, 6:30 p.m. at Old Ivy Park, 519 Old Ivy Road. More photos, page 14. ►

EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR Livening up the library with crafts, therapy dogs

OUT & ABOUT Scare up some Halloween fun

Definitely. With stakes this high, I wouldn’t miss it. Are you more likely to vote in the November election than in past elections? See COMMENTARY Page 16

TH 14 !


BY JOHN RUCH, DYANA BAGBY AND EVELYN ANDREWS Police and a parks group are pushing more than 100 homeless people to leave wooded camps along Peachtree Creek in the Lindbergh and Buford Highway areas, alleging they’re involved in crime and scaring trail users. Meanwhile, Brookhaven police say the effort may be driving the homeless people into their city. And it remains to be seen whether the camps will move or for how long, as social service advocates say that homelessness

A 37-year-old voter

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Police and trail advocates push homeless camps to move

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See POLICE on page 23



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A proposal for a 10-story, 200-room boutique hotel at Buckhead Avenue and East Paces Ferry Road got a thumbs-up from Special Public Interest District 9’s development review committee Oct. 3. NPU-B’s zoning committee recently approved it as well. The co-development by the Loudermilk Companies and Regent Partners would replace a sizable two-story office building with the Thompson brand hotel, with construction possibly starting in late spring. The office building is currently occupied by a State Bank & Trust Company branch, which aims to relocate elsewhere in Buckhead, according to a spokesperson. The 1.1-acre site has a triangular shape, resulting in zoning requests related to setbacks, curb cuts and loading zone spaces. The project also needs a special use permit. Jessica Hill, an attorney for the developers, said the hotel would have no on-site parking, instead using a garage in a new neighboring medical office building that Loudermilk also owns. The main entrance would be via a circular drive added on East Paces Ferry. Other features would include a rooftop pool, a ground-floor restaurant intended to attract the general public, and a small ballroom and outdoor patio for events. Thompson Hotels is a brand of Colorado-based Two Roads Hospitality. The Hyatt hotel chain just announced that it is buying Two Roads, according to an Oct. 8 press release. Denise Starling and Sally Silver of SPI-9 pushed the developers to add public art to the project, which was not met with enthusiasm. Regent’s Jim Feldman said he was open to hearing more about Starling’s proposal for solar panels to be added to the roof as part of the city’s public-private “Solarize Atlanta” partnership.


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The Atlanta Fire Rescue Department’s new Station 3 at Phipps Plaza mall is supposed to open this month, but may be delayed by a hang-up in the furnishings budget. The department is having “a little problem with money” being appropriated on time, Capt. Chris Jackson of Station 21 reported to NPU-B at its Oct. 2 meeting. He said the Station 3 firefighters might have to be temporarily housed at another station until the new firehouse is fully furnished. The Fire Rescue Department did not respond to questions. The original Station 3 was built within a Phipps Plaza parking garage in 1993 as a backup to Station 21. As part of mall renovations, the station is moving to another part of the garage and is being upgraded.


The first phase of a $750,000 renovation of Garden Hills Elementary School’s field is gearing up as fundraising continues. Abbie Shepherd of the school foundation, Acorns to Oaks, reported the plan to NPUB on Oct. 2, saying the current field is a “mud pit and a disaster.” The first phase, budgeted at $350,000, would add a track, improve drainage and renovate the playground. The foundation is finalizing permits and preparing a request for proposals with the hope of starting work next summer, Shepherd said. A second phase, at around $400,000, would add a sports court, concession stand, outdoor classroom and restrooms. For more information, see fixthefield.com. BH

OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Community | 3



A man was shot to death at a Buckhead event facility in the early morning hours of Oct. 5, and police say he appears to have been a bystander to an “altercation.” No arrests have been made and the investigation continues, according to the Atlanta Police Department. Police say the unidentified victim was shot around 1:30 a.m. at the Level V event facility at 2010 Tula St. N.W., just off Bennett St. He was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital. “Preliminary information shows that the shooting was possibly the result of an altercation that started inside the club,” said Atlanta Police in a written statement. “At this time, it does not appear that the victim was involved in that altercation.” The police also say they are “reviewing the club’s permits and meeting with management to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.”


The city Oct. 1 announced a police pay increase and a plan to address the officers’ comparatively low salaries. A study of Atlanta Police Department pay completed in July found that its salaries lagged behind many departments of similar and surrounding cities. Police salaries were previously raised by 3.1 percent in the city’s 2018 budget, but the study determined that was not enough. The plan announced by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms seeks to bring Atlanta’s pay up to par in stages. By January 2019, the city will invest an additional $10 million for police pay, according to the release. Police Chief Erika Shields said at a press conference that these funds would bring yearly salaries up by $10,000, raising starting officer pay from $40,000 to $50,000. “Have no doubt, this will make a difference,” Shields said at the press conference, which was streamed live. By July 2019, patrolling police and senior police officers pay is planned to meet the competitive benchmark identified in the compensation study, which varies based on rank. By the completion of the plan in 2021, all ranks are planned meet the benchmark and pay is expected to be raised by 30 percent, Bottoms said. The city will revisit public safety compensation every two years to ensure the Atlan-

ta Police Department remains competitive, according to the release. The low salaries have caused a police officer shortage in Atlanta, contributing to the decision for Buckhead’s Zone 2 to make responding to shoplifting calls a low priority.


Early voting in Fulton County will begin Oct. 15 and run through Nov. 2 ahead of Election Day on Nov. 6. Three locations are in Buckhead. The main early voting locations will be open weekdays Oct. 15-26, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; weekdays Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays Oct. 20 and 27, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sundays, Oct. 21 and 28, noon to 5 p.m. Local early voting locations include: Buckhead Library, 269 Buckhead Ave. N.E.; Northside Library, 3295 Northside Parkway N.W.; and Chastain Park Recreation Center, 140 W. Wieuca Road N.W. For more information, see fultonelections.com or call 404-612-7020. For sample ballots, visit mvp.sos.ga.gov.

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Phil Kent, left, and Tharon Johnson, right, debate issues and governor race predictions at the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber luncheon on Oct. 9.

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Two hosts of Fox 5 TV’s weekly political talk show “The Georgia Gang” predicted moderate and women voters to be key to winning the race for governor during an Oct. 9 Sandy Springs event. Hosts Tharon Johnson and Phil Kent also discussed key issues, including transportation and crime, and made predictions for the next legislative session. Johnson is a Democratic consultant who has advised U.S. Rep. John Lewis, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Kent is a Republican who publishes the InsiderAdvantage and JAMES political magazines. They spoke at a Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Both said the candidate of their party, Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, will need to capture the independents and moderates that may be swayed by national factors such as President Donald Trump and the recent U.S. Su-

preme Court confirmation hearings. If Abrams can rally her base while also capturing moderate and women votes, she has a strong shot at defeating Kemp in the Nov. 6 election, Johnson said. “I’m very optimistic. I think Stacey Abrams has the money, she has the message and she has the grassroots campaign strategy to really make this race very competitive,” Johnson said. Her move to more moderate positions will help her get those votes, Johnson said. “She’s definitely fired up,” Johnson said. “She made, I think, a very smart pivot towards the middle, to be more moderate in her message without running away from her true progressive beliefs.” Kent agreed moderates are key in this election and said both Republican and Democrat bases are “energized.” “The Republican base right now is especially energized after witnessing the leftwing mob rule and character assassination in the U.S. Senate,” Kent said, referring to the hearings to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

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“Here in Georgia, I think there is a unique opportunity for Brian Kemp to reach out to those moderates and independents just like Stacey Abrams is trying to do,” Kent said. Johnson believes women voters will be key and their opinions of Trump may swing their vote toward Democratic. “I truly believe, as we sit here in Sandy Springs, there are a lot of college-educated, suburban, white, Republican women that I think are really taking a second and third look at the Abrams candidacy,” he said. If Kemp is able to keep those voters and consolidate his base, he will “probably become governor,” Johnson said. And Georgia’s long history of Republican dominance puts Abrams in a position to easily lose the race with any mistakes, he said. “She has to run a very perfect campaign because Brian Kemp, being a Republican in the red state of Georgia, is in the driver’s seat,” Johnson said.

Key issues

Community | 5


The two agreed that transportation, criminal justice reform and healthcare are the three key issues in the governor race. Kent added that crime, especially gang violence, is playing a big role, saying it has been correctly described as a “crisis.” “I don’t care if you’re a suburban housewife or someone in rural Georgia, the gang problem is out of control,” he said. “The problem is liberal, permissive judges that keep putting people back on the streets.”

Kent said he and Johnson often agree on transportation topics, including the state’s recent approval of a new authority overseeing all metro Atlanta transit called “The ATL.” Kent encouraged the use of more public-private partnerships that get more private sector funding poured into transit and transportation infrastructure. He said “managed lanes,” which charge drivers demand-based prices and are planned for the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange, are “the wave of the future.” Johnson said the push to expand MARTA farther north, past its current end at the North Springs station in Sandy Springs, should continue. Doing that will include clearing the hurdle of the racist opinions about the service, Johnson said. “One thing I’ll say as an African-American male, sitting in a room of a predominately white crowd, is that we’ve got to get over this whole connotation around crime and race when it comes to MARTA,” he said. He said Sandy Springs has been a bright spot in the push for expanding transit and that Mayor Rusty Paul and the City Council deserve credit for taking “bold” steps. In the upcoming legislative session, Kent predicted more transportation measures to be introduced, in addition to the return of “religious liberty” bills, healthcare reform and more efforts to assist rural Georgia. Johnson agreed and said he also expects medical marijuana and gambling legalization measures to return.


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Sexism is a problem in politics that should be confronted and changed, some local elected officials and former candidates said at a forum held by The Galloway School. One of the attendees, recently elected state Sen. Jen Jordan, said she did not expect sexism to be so prevaSPECIAL lent in the General AssemState Sen. Jen Jordan speaks at the Oct. 1 “All Politics bly. is Local” forum conducted by The Galloway School. “One of the things that surprised me about the state Senate is that it’s really like 1950 there,” she said in a video recording of the forum posted by the school. The Oct. 1 “All Politics is Local” forum featured elected officials who are alumni of Galloway or parents of current or former students, according to the school. Participants included Jordan; Peter Aman, a former Atlanta mayoral candidate and a Buckhead resident; Sandy Springs City Councilmember Andy Bauman; Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst; Atlanta City Councilmember Amir Farokhi; Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris; and Shea Roberts, a candidate for the local state House District 52 seat. The moderator was Michelle Maziar, the director of the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. SPECIAL Shea Roberts, a candidate Jordan, a Democrat who reprefor House District 52. sents parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, said she was surprised by the “advice” she was given by a committee chair. She said he repeatedly called her into his office and told she needed to “smile more” and should bring her children in so people “could relate to [her] better.” He asked why she got “so agitated,” Jordan said. “Every time, I kept thinking to myself, ‘Am I getting “Punk’d”?,’ ” SPECIAL she said, referring to a prank TV Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst. show. When asked by Maziar what advice she had for men, Jordan said to not perpetuate gender stereotypes and that it is as simple as treating women equally. “If you’re a leader in a community people are watching how you treat young girls, how you treat women,” she said. “It does matter.” Bauman, the Sandy Springs councilmember, said that he would like to see more women run for office because they can bring a different perspective and may be more willing to work across the aisle. “I talk to people, both Republican and Democrats, where I say, ‘I think we would all be better off if, frankly, we did nothing but elect women for the next couple of elections,’ ” he said. Morris, the Fulton commissioner, said, “We certainly need more women in government and all that is changing for the good.” When asked by Mayor Ernst if Jordan thought younger generations were less

OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Community | 7


likely to make sexist comments, she said the committee chair referenced in her story was in his 40s. “It’s not generational, and by God I wish it were, but that’s why it’s so important that we keep pushing,” she said. Roberts, a Democrat who is running for the House District 52 seat SPECIAL against Republican incumbent Rep. Deborah Silcox, said women need Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris. more voices in the General Assembly and to vocally oppose sexist statement. “We just have to call them out when we hear them and change the impression of what women can and should be doing,” she said. Jordan said the hearings on the sexual assault accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, who was later confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court SPECIAL justice, make it even more imporSandy Springs City Councilmember Andy Bauman. tant to listen to women. “Especially after last week, it may be particularly important to make sure women feel like they are being heard,” she said. The forum also included discussion on such topics as affordable housing, police, election security and transit. To watch the video, visit youtube.com/user/GallowaySchool.

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8 | Making a Difference

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Anatomy Fashion Show lends hearts and hands to charity

BY JUDITH SCHONBAK The house was packed, the music of DJ Khaled’s “No Brainer” with Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper and Quavo blared from the speakers, and the models strutted their stuff down the run-

way, decked out in original designs depicting bones, muscles and organs. This was not your mother’s fashion show. It was the third annual Anatomy Fashion Show held Sept. 28 by Phi Delta Epsilon, the pre-med professional fraternity at Brookhaven’s Oglethorpe

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Left, striking poses as the skeletal system are Denae Douglas-Ocasio, left, and Natalia Pierre-Paul. Above, Ally Benisek walks the runway in an outfit depicting the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system.

University. And those original designs? They were the systems and organs of the human body. The event was a fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a member of the national Children’s Miracle Network. The show got its start at OU in 2016 with a committee of three, including PDE president Benjamin Hopper, who presented the welcoming speech for this year’s show. In an interview, he said that, inspired by seeing other chapters’ renditions of the Anatomy Fashion Show, “We thought it would be something that the community on our campus would appreciate and vibe with well.” He added that it has caught on so well that it is now a signature event, hosted annually during OU’s Family Weekend. Students, two at a time, modeled — front and back — various systems and organs of the human body, 11 in all. Art-

fully and realistically done, the designs were painted on leotards and, in some cases, the skin of the models by more than 20 students in Oglethorpe’s art department. The more complex systems, such as the skeletal, muscular and circulatory, took as many as 18 to 20 hours to paint, while the more compact systems, such as the digestive and reproductive, took two hours or fewer. An enthusiastic audience of more than 200 gathered in the Turner Lynch Student Center, which had been transformed into a fashion show venue. The audience included students, especially from the social and professional Greek groups, parents and relatives visiting for OU’s Family Weekend, OU alums, Phi Delta Epsilon alums and medical personnel from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Hospital, Shepherd Center and other medical centers in metro Atlanta.

Making a Difference | 9


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a mix of the two as a hospital educator. At 21, she has aged out of Children’s, and is receiving therapy at Buckhead’s Shepherd Center, where she is on the adaptive ski team and sometimes volunteers to talk with patients. Since CMN’s founding in 1983, the network has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon campaigns. Funds raised within the community remain with the local member. Throughout the evening, a donation jar was passed around. The goal of the fundraiser was to top the 2017 total of $1,500. With donations coming in after the event, the sum reached $1,700, said Benjamin Hopper. A hot competition percolated among the Greek societies to see which one could raise the most money for Children’s that night. In wrapping up the evening Hopper announced the winners of the Anatomy Fashion Show: Ms. Body – Ariana Jimenez, Alpha Phi Omega, Circulatory System; Mr. Body – Tyler Stridiron, Alpha Phi Alpha, Digestive System; and Best Artist – Chrysta Avers, Digestive System. He ended with the news of the group that raised the top funds, Alpha Phi Omega with $135.

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A large screen at the head of the runway flashed detailed pictures of each body system and organs as students modeled them. The students had the runway moves down and virtually all the pairs had choreographed their performance, much to the appreciation of the audience. First to take the runway was the duo depicting the skeletal system, followed by models showcasing the muscular, nervous, circulatory and endocrine systems, each a complex, full-body, and often, colorful, work of art. After an intermission came the respiratory, lymphatic, digestive, excretory and reproductive systems, and the last was pregnancy. During intermission, the college’s Khayos dance troupe performed, most of them sporting a painted body part. The intermission speaker, Amelia Holley, 21, shared her story about her lifetime of medical care at CHOA, her “second family,” she said. Born with hydrocephalus, a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain, she has endured 41 surgeries in her young life. Holley is now an English major at Oglethorpe and expects to graduate in 2021. Her goal is to be a child life specialist, a high school English teacher, or

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Brookhaven grapples with electric scooters, bikes BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Brookhaven city leaders are being forced to find ways to regulate “dockless” rental electric scooters and bikes that have started appearing on local streets and are raising safety concerns from City Council members. The city of Atlanta is considering legislation as well. Councilmember Linley Jones said her law office in Buckhead is at “ground zero” where she regularly sees people on scooters zooming on sidewalks and between cars in heavy traffic on Lenox and Peachtree roads. Daily accidents are common, she said, and the new scooter phenomenon is “worrisome,” she said. “As a personal injury lawyer, they are really dangerous,” she said. Where people are parking the scooters is rapidly becoming a serious issue in the Brookhaven. There are currently no permits for dockless bikes or scooters in the city. A draft ordinance on dockless bikes and scooters is slated to be discussed at Nov. 13 work session. Meanwhile, the city is impounding scooters that are left in the public right of way. The scooters and bikes — most prominently owned by companies Bird and Lime — are rented most commonly using a smartphone app. They can then be parked at any location rather than at a fixed site and are usually only available for use during daytime hours. Using a tracking device, company workers can earn a fee by finding the scooters, charging them up at night, and putting them back on the streets the next day. “Parking is the biggest issue,” city planner Allison Stocklin told the City Council at a recent work session where dockless bikes and scooters were discussed. Code enforcement officers in recent weeks have impounded more than a dozen Bird scooters parked in the middle of sidewalks and in the city right of way. Several were picked up on Redding Road near Caldwell Road close to Ashford Park and many scooters are also being picked up by code enforcement at and near Briarwood Park. Parking the scooters in the middle of sidewalks impedes pedestrian access, especially for


City code enforcement officers have recently impounded numerous “dockless” Bird electric scooters that were found parked in the middle of sidewalks and impeding pedestrian access.

WEEK 2018


OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Community | 11


Sandy Springs 5975 Roswell Road, Suite A-103 Sandy Springs, GA 30328 (404) 236-2114 NothingBundtCakes.com 10/31/18

FALL WEATHER IS HERE! those using wheelchairs or with strollers, Stocklin said. A Bird spokesperson said the company is addressing some of the issues. “Bird is committed to working with the cities in which we operate to educate riders about safe riding and parking practices to protect the public right of way,” the company said in a written statement. “To help address parking concerns, we require all riders to take a photo whenever they park their Bird at the end of a ride. This will prompt our users to think of others when parking and create a log of every rider’s parking history to help ensure that rules can be appropriately enforced.” Stocklin said Brookhaven was in an advantageous position because many other cities are already finding ways to regulate the scooters and bikes, including Atlanta, allowing the city to “pick and choose” best practices. Some options to regulate where the scooters are parked include geofencing that uses GPS or cellular technology to essentially create a “virtual” boundary. An alert or notification is sent to a user when they enter the boundary. The city can also prohibit the scooters and bikes in certain area, she said, noting that Atlanta has banned parking the scooters at Piedmont Park. Another possibility is to permit only a certain number of scooters in the city, Stocklin said. The scooters top out at 15 miles per hour and typically cost $1 to unlock and about 15 cents to ride per minute. “The biggest concern for the community and citizens is just their interaction with cars; they can be tricky for drivers not used to seeing small scooters. And the number one issue is where they’re going to get left. That will be our challenge as policy makers,” she said. The scooters provide a transportation alternative, especially for people seeking “last mile” connectivity from public transportation to their job or school, Councilmember Bates Mattison said. And as Brookhaven and metro Atlanta battle with traffic congestion, these kinds of alternatives are crucial in getting cars off the roads, he said. Data shows in DeKalb County, more than 70 percent of workers drive alone to work while less than 10 percent use public transportation, Stocklin said. She said that 7,500 scooters can pass through a single 10-foot-wide lane, about the average size of a street lane, in one hour while only 600 to 1,000 cars can do the same. Riding bicycles on sidewalks is prohibited by state law, but how that applies to scooters is still up in the air. Building safe infrastructure is crucial to making the scooters and bikes a viable mode of transportation for people seeking to get out of their cars, Mattison said.

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12 | Community

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to key races on Nov. 6 ballot For full answers from the candidates, see ReporterNewspapers.net


Democrat Flynn Broady is challenging Republican incumbent Barry Loudermilk for the 11th Congressional District seat. Loudermilk did not provide Voters Guide answers.

FLYNN BROADY flynnbroady.com

What is motivating you to run for Congress? I want to return the governing process back to Georgians. For too long, the citizens of Georgia’s 11th Congressional District have had effectively no access to their representative. Constituents have a right to access. We must close the bitter divide that has overtaken our nation. We see too much anger, pettiness and bickering. We have lost the ability to discuss issues with one another. To move forward, to uphold the Constitutional rights of all our citizens and improve their lives, we must overcome this problem. I will engage in dialogue with colleagues and constituents on all sides of important arguments.





Republican Leah Aldridge is challenging Democratic incumbent Jen Jordan in Senate District 6. It is a partial rematch of last year’s special election, where Jordan won the seat and Aldridge was among five Republicans who were winnowed out before a runoff.


Democrat Erick Allen and Republican Matt Bentley are competing to replace retiring Republican incumbent Rich Golick in the House District 40 seat.


What is motivating you to run for this office?

What is motivating you to run for this office?

I am running for state Senate because I am a believer. I believe in the ingenuity and freedom of individuals and the private sector to do what the government simply cannot. We must seek Georgia solutions to Georgia’s problems, and not look to D.C. for our values or priorities. I have been endorsed by Gov. Deal and Sen. Isakson because they trust that I will continue the commonsense policies which have brought Georgia economic prosperity, low unemployment and robust education funding. As senator, I will work to move us towards a place where safety, prosperity and optimism thrive.

I am running to be the state representative for District 40 because I have the passion and experience needed to make our state government more efficient and effective. I was formally a director for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, where I saw firsthand how our legislature can make progress very difficult for everyone in our state, especially the vulnerable. If elected, I will be one of the only legislators that has worked as a leader in one of our state’s largest agencies.





What is motivating you to run for this office?

What is motivating you to run for this office?

Growing up, my teachers were like family. As a product of this state’s public education system, I know how much of a difference our public schools and teachers have on the lives of children. I want every Georgia child to have the same opportunities that I had to work hard and succeed. This means growing education opportunities for children and families, and not starving our local systems of funding. I have witnessed this happen over the last decade. I am determined that we can have a responsible fiscal policy and also a robust public education system that values all children.

House District 40 has been my home for nearly my entire life. I was raised in Vinings, attended Emory Law School, and now live in Smyrna with my wife, baby girl and two rescue Labs. I want to give back to the community that gave me so much opportunity, and ensure that my 6-monthold daughter has those same opportunities years from now. I look forward to being able to proudly tell her that I made a real difference for our community, and that I did it for her.


OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Community | 13



In House District 52, Democrat Shea Roberts is challenging Republican incumbent Deborah Silcox.





What is motivating you to run for this office?

What is motivating you to run for this office?

I’m running because I’m concerned about the polarization and over-politicized climate of our state. I’m running because we need leaders who have something at stake in all of this and who know, firsthand, that we deserve more from our legislators. As a mother, wife, small business owner and attorney, I know that I’m capable of being that voice of accountability and action under the Gold Dome. It’s time we had real solutions for healthcare quality and accessibility, traffic, safe schools that prepare our children socially and academically for their future, and an infrastructure that supports our working families.

I am running for this seat because it has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the people of my hometown of Sandy Springs and the citizens of Atlanta, and I want to continue the important work I have started. I have been extremely effective in my first term in office. I passed more legislation than any other freshman legislator in the General Assembly. As a lifelong resident of Sandy Springs, I deeply understand the character of our district and have represented and advocated for our needs and desires in a way that is reflective of our district.


In House District 54, Republican incumbent Beth Beskin faces a challenge from Democrat Betsy Holland. Holland did not provide Voters Guide answers.

BETH BESKIN BethBeskin.com

What is motivating you to run for this office? I want to continue the work I’ve done over the last four years to improve educational outcomes for all Georgia’s public school children; to continue to strenuously advocate for property tax relief for Atlanta homeowners (passed the city of Atlanta 2.6 percent tax cap bill this year, which is on the ballot in November); by legislating for improved public safety; by supporting improved transportation and transit; by continuing to advocate for the best interests of Atlanta taxpayers as Atlanta considers future annexations and large-scale economic development projects; and to make sure that Georgia continues to have a competitive business climate. BH

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14 | Community

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Biking to the big screen Residents were encouraged to cycle their way to Livable Buckhead’s debut “bike-in” movie night Oct. 4 at Marie Sims Park at the AMLI apartment complexes on Roxboro Road. They were treated to a free outdoor screening of the Disney film “Hocus Pocus” and bike valet service provided by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. The next bike-in movie is a screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” Oct. 19, 6:30 p.m. at Old Ivy Park, 519 Old Ivy Road. A - Denice Rivera and Manny Manzia provide free bicycle valet service to attendees. B - Amanda Thomas and Steven Zambrzycki arrive at the bike-in movie night. C - The crowd gathers on the lawn at Marie Sims Park, with food trucks lined up along the street in the rear. PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER



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Community | 15


Officials disagree on path bridge funding BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

The official overseeing PATH400’s construction is questioning the effectiveness of a proposed bridge connecting several multiuse paths in the Lindbergh area, leading the Buckhead Community Improvement District to delay a co-funding decision. The “Confluence Bridge,” designed by the South Fork Conservancy, would be constructed at the confluence of PATH400, the BeltLine and Brookhaven’s Peachtree Creek Greenway at an expected cost of $2.38 million. The conservancy is building multiuse trails along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek, which runs between Buckhead and Emory University. It unveiled a design for a bridge at the confluence of those trails in April. The BCID board on Sept. 26 chose to hold off on a decision about providing some funding after Denise Starling questioned the bridge’s ability to handle crowds. Starling is executive director of Livable Buckhead and is overseeing PATH400. The bridge is planned to be 8 feet wide, but the BCID had committed funding in the hope the conservancy would widen it by two feet to better match trails in that area. The trails that would feed into the bridge range in width from 10 to 14 feet. Kimberly Estep, the executive director of the South Fork Conservancy said a wider bridge could still be possible, but fundraising would have to match the large increase in construction costs. “As an organization, we would like to build the widest bridge possible,” Estep said. “We know we could go a little bit bigger, but the cost would be a lot more.” Site limitations and increased work that would be needed to accommodate the added weight would add to the already increased construction costs, Estep said. “It’s not just a simple equation,” she said. BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett

and Starling disagreed on what funding the BCID should offer now that the bridge’s design likely won’t be widened. “I believe it is important for us to move forward in a collaborative way to achieve at least this connection down there,” Durrett said. The BCID approved $200,000 at a July 25 meeting to fund widening the bridge, designed by the South Fork Conservancy. Starling believes the widening is necessary for the path to handle the expected traffic. Starling said she believes widening is necessary to accommodate anticipated use and said funding should not be contributed if that’s not in the plans. “Ten feet is the absolute minimum. It is going to be a bottleneck,” she said. The funding was contingent on the conservancy raising the remaining needed funds for the estimated construction cost of $2.38 million. “They haven’t raised all the money. They still have a ways to go. Us putting this money in makes the reach a little bit easier,” Durrett said. Although the bridge would be outside the BCID’s official boundaries, Durrett


An illustration shows the concept design for the Confluence Bridge planned for Buckhead.

said the district is allowed to fund design and engineering of projects as long as they would serve the district. The BCID board chose to wait to make a decision until the conservancy raises more money and it becomes clear if it is needed or not.

Estep said the conservancy continues to look for Buckhead donations because it would improve trail access in that area. “We are looking for local community partners to help this bridge become a reality because it would bring access to Buckhead,” she said.

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16 | Commentary

Reporter Newspapers

Our mission is to provide our readers with fresh and engaging information about life in their communities. Published by Springs Publishing LLC 6065 Roswell Road, Suite 225 Sandy Springs, GA 30328 Phone: 404-917-2200 • Fax: 404-917-2201 Brookhaven Reporter | Buckhead Reporter Dunwoody Reporter | Sandy Springs Reporter www.ReporterNewspapers.net Atlanta INtown www.AtlantaINtownPaper.com Atlanta Senior Life www.AtlantaSeniorLife.com

C O NTA C T US Founder & Publisher Steve Levene stevelevene@reporternewspapers.net Editorial Managing Editor John Ruch johnruch@reporternewspapers.net INtown Editor: Collin Kelley Editor-at-Large Joe Earle Staff Writers Dyana Bagby, Evelyn Andrews

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Community Survey / Divided politics make for eager voters Turnout for the November election could be high, if the voters follow the lead of respondents to a Reporter Newspapers community survey. About six in 10 of the 200 respondents said they are more likely to vote in the November election than in past elections. And more than a third of the people who responded that they weren’t more likely to vote this time said that was only because they vote in every election anyway. The survey was conducted by 1Q.com via cellphones to residents in Reporter Newspapers communities. The results are not scientific. Why do so many plan to vote this November when they otherwise might give the ballot box a pass? “The U.S. is in a mess,” a 34-year-old Buckhead woman said. Dozens of other respondents appeared to agree, and they offered a variety of reasons for their beliefs. In fact, responses illustrate just how divided our politics is now. “There’s so much noise from extremists that level-headed, thinking people need to step up and exercise their right to vote to keep things on track and moving forward,” a 64-year-old north Atlanta woman said. “I want to be sure and express my preference for intelligent public servant leadership and not power-hungry career politicians!” Others were more bluntly partisan in their responses. Many said they planned to vote because of their feelings about President Donald Trump. “I will vote Nov. 6,” a 46-year-old man said. “[I] didn’t vote in previous years, but we need someone to offset what Trump is doing.” However, a 33-year-old Sandy Springs woman wrote she would vote because “I want to keep Republicans in power.”


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Respondents to the survey were fairly evenly divided among political parties. About 30 percent were Republicans, about 27 percent Democrats and about 30 percent independents. About 13 percent identify as “other.” When asked to name the issue that most motivated them, respondents, taken together, provided a list that touched on just about every imaginable political debate. Their responses ranged from the economy to immigration, from healthcare to welfare reform, from gun safety to women’s rights, from international trade to local education, from impeaching President Trump to keeping Democrats out of office. Several respondents listed the controversy over the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, while others said they were interested in the election of a new governor in Georgia. And a 37-year-old Dunwoody woman said she was motivated by “every single issue.” Several respondents who said they were no more likely to vote this election than in past ones said they thought casting a ballot was pointless. “Voting has little effect on actual legislation,” a 41-year-old Atlanta man wrote. “Republicans and Democrats are on the same team against our freedoms.” And a 52-year-old north Atlanta man said, “I’m so disillusioned with our political process that by and large, I’ve stopped paying attention.” But many respondents seemed eager to head to the polls. This election, several said, would count more than others had in the past. One 19-year-old Sandy Springs woman noted the reason she was more likely to vote in the election this November than in prior ones was simple: “Because I’m finally old enough to vote.”

Here’s what some of the other respondents had to say when asked whether they were more likely to vote in November than in past elections “The Left is getting ridiculous and it scares me to see how they want to throw away the fundamental tenets of our civilization, such as truth, jurisprudence and free speech.” – 50-YEAR-OLD SANDY SPRINGS MAN

“I’m not ‘more likely’ because I always vote. I think voting is a privilege and you should exercise that privilege every opportunity you get, regardless of the current situation or your desired results.” – 52-YEAR-OLD SANDY SPRINGS BUCKHEAD WOMAN

“No. The media has ruined politics.”


“Yes, I always vote, but these midterms are especially crucial in ensuring our administration is checked and held accountable, and that human rights are protected.” – 23-YEAR-OLD BUCKHEAD WOMAN

“Trump and the Republicans are lunatics.”


“I believe it is even more important to vote now to protect the civil liberties that our so-called president and the right-wing members of Congress wish to roll back.”


“Definitely. With stakes this high, I wouldn’t miss it.”


“I feel that the Republicans must maintain control to advance our conservative agenda. Things are going very well with the economy and I am fearful of what will happen if the Democrats take control. If you can ignore all of the noise coming from the media about the discontent of America, I think the reality is that most people are happier and more optimistic about their economic position today than they were four years ago.” – 40-YEAR-OLD ATLANTA MAN

Letter to the Editor


I just wanted to thank you for the outstanding article on air pollution from traffic in north Atlanta. (“As 285/400 interchange expands, air pollution is a concern,” Sept. 28.) Your report highlights the urgency for us to transition to electric vehicles while greening the grid. Hopefully your reporting, coupled with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (and many others) will spark much-needed action to reduce pollution. Tina Wilkinson Chairperson, Solarize Dunwoody and United Methodist Church Earthkeeper

OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Commentary | 17


Taking a spin on the Wheel of Worry

Robin’s Nest

Everyone from Christ to Buddha and from Bob Marley to Pinterest preaches about worry, and I hear the same “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” theme played regularly. I don’t mean to discount any of them. And I may be teetering on sacrilege here, but I do imagine that the Blessed Mother worried a bit about Jesus. I think that all moms have a Wheel of Worry. I think it comes with the territory. You have a kid, you begin to worry. Yet I will add that nothing compels me to prayer most sincerely and frequently and often than my Wheel of Worry. I will spin the wheel, and wherever it lands will be the focus of my prayer — and action — for the day. If it satisfies the preachers and Rastafarians out there, I can call it “concern.” I have a healthy concern for my kids and their well-being, as we all do. And when I’m in a calmer mood, I will spin my Carousel of Concern.

2 W To GA 018 in p Pr & ne C e 2 r ol ss 0 um A 17 ni ssn st !

I have a Wheel of Worry. It came into existence with the birth of my first child, and it started small. It spun to topics such as HIGH FEVER, WHY WON’T HE STOP CRYING? and STRANGE RASH ON BABY’S CHEST. I had more children, and the wheel grew. It got bigger as the children did, and its topics became more varied, ranging from to WHAT DID SHE JUST SWALLOW? and THEY’RE TOO QUIET UP THERE to CROSSING THE STREET and WILL THEY MAKE FRIENDS? By the time the last two children hit adolescence, the wheel was pretty substantial. It spun between KIDS LEARNING TO DRIVE, KIDS DRIVING ALONE, MY KIDS DRIVING THEIR FRIENDS, THEIR FRIENDS DRIVING MY KIDS, KIDS DRIVING TO A PARTY, KIDS DRIVING TO ATHENS … driving took up a full half of the wheel, with what was happening at the destinations occupying the other half. As my kids got older and became more adventurous, the wheel began to spin to increasingly esoteric, but nevertheless valid, matters. When the daughter was working in Nicaragua for a year and our weekly Skype conversations with her were regularly interrupted by the bat that lived in her house grazing her head, my wheel spun consistently between MALARIA and RABIES. Robin Conte lives with One son was studying in China and not advised until too her husband in an emplate to get a particular inoculation, so the wheel rested for ty nest in Dunwoody. To months on JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS. And naturally, the son contact her or to buy her with severe allergies to stinging insects loves to hike for weeks new column collection, in remote wooded locations. Spin the wheel to ANAPHALEC“The Best of the Nest,” TIC SHOCK ... spin again to BEAR ATTACKS. Both twins love see robinconte.com. bouldering and rock climbing, so FALLING OFF A CLIFF is a regular resting spot on the wheel. The son who hitchhiked across Europe kept the wheel spinning to topics I can’t even bring myself to print. Why do they do this to me?

Read Robin Conte’s debut book ‘The Best of the Nest’ “The Best of the Nest” offers 49 of Reporter Newspapers columnist Robin Conte’s witty essays on suburban family life, organized by seasons. They include some of the pieces that won Robin the first-place Lifestyle/Features Column award in 2017 and 2018 and first-place for Humorous column in 2018 from the Georgia Press Association.

Order the book at bestofthenest.net Follow Robin’s book-related appearances at robinconte.com.

18 | Art & Entertainment

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Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 19, 20, 26, 27, 7-10 p.m. The 33rd annual Halloween Hikes at the Chattahoochee Nature Center are non-scary guided walks into woods dotted with costumed nature characters. After the hike, there’s hot chocolate, cookies, popcorn, s’mores and family fun events. All ages. $12; children 2 and under free. Save $2 off admission during the first weekend. No ATM on site; cash is needed for drinks and snacks. Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: chattnaturecenter.org.




Thursday, Oct. 18, 7-9 p.m. Cultural critic Greg Garrett, author of more than 20 books, including “Living with the


Friday, Oct. 26, 6-10:30 p.m. Heritage Sandy Springs announces the return of a night of eerie entertainment including live music, psychic readings, fire pit and s’mores bar, costume contest with cash prizes, and a movie screening of “Hocus Pocus.” Also returning are the Haunted Hikes on cemetery tours featuring North Springs Charter School’s Thespian Troupe #4389. Pizza and cocktails available, with beverage proceeds benefitting the Heritage Sandy Springs Museum. Free; tour tickets $15-$35. Heritage Sandy Springs Museum at Heritage Green, 6075 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org.


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Saturday, Oct. 27, 3-9 p.m. Boy Scout Troop 477 presents trick-ortreating, a Halloween-themed farm tour, food court, games and s’mores as part of Dunwoody’s month-long Apple Cider Days. Free. Donaldson-Bannister House and Gardens, 4831 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: appleciderdays.org.



Saturday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 21, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Featuring musical performances and more than 140 artists with works of fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography and sculpture, this 14th annual festival will be held behind the Brookhaven MARTA station. Food, kids’ activities and on Sunday there’s a classic car show. Free. 4047 Peachtree Road N.E., Brookhaven. Free parking in the MARTA lot. Info: brookhavenartsfestival.com.


Saturday, Oct. 27, 3-10 p.m. This first annual family-friendly event will in-

Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse,” will be featured in a Jane Baird Lecture at the Cathedral of St. Philip. Garrett will discuss how zombie stories such as “The Walking Dead” are retelling some of the most powerful secular and sacred stories. Free. 2744 Peachtree Road N.W., Buckhead. Reserve a seat: connecting.episcopalatlanta.org/events.


Thursday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m. Author Amy Stewart discusses her book “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” Book-signing and a reception will follow this Cherokee Garden Library Lecture at the Atlanta History Center. $25. 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Reservations required: 404-814-4150.

clude daytime games, beers and food for purchase and a lineup of bluegrass, folk, Americana and roots musicians, including Sailing to Denver, Sierra Hull, Early James and The Latest. Free. City Springs, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: citysprings.com.


Saturday, Oct. 27, 8:30 a.m. The Melanoma Research Foundation holds a 5K run/walk to raise funds for research, education and advocacy for melanoma. The Atlantic Station event includes free skin checks by presenting sponsor Dermatology Associates of Georgia, LLC and breakfast pastries courtesy of Da Vinci’s Donuts and Proof Bakeshop. Site opens at 7:15 a.m. $45-$55 runners, $40-$55 walkers, $15 youth, free for ages 5 and

OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Art & Entertainment | 19


under. 1371 Market St. N.W., Atlanta. Info: dermga.com/milesformelanoma.


Sunday, Oct. 28, 3-5 p.m. Eve Hoffman discusses her new book “Memory & Complicity” at the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church Chapel, hosted by Friends of the Sandy Springs Library. A sixth-generation Georgian, Hoffman grew up on a dairy farm by the Chattahoochee River. Free. 471 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs. Reservations required: eventbrite.com/e/fossl-author-talk-featuring-eve-hoffman-tickets-50411536262.


Sunday, Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. The Jewish Grandparents Network presents: “Grandma, Grandpa, Tell Me a Story: The Special Role of Grandparents as Storytellers in Jewish Family Life” at The Temple. Marshall

Duke and Ron Wolfson, two master storytellers, will discuss how stories frame our lives and strengthen our families and the essential role that grandparents play in sharing these stories. A dessert reception and book signing will follow the presentation. Co-sponsored by The Temple and the Breman Heritage Museum. Free. 1589 Peachtree St. N.W., Atlanta. Info: jewishgrandparentsnetwork.org.


Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m. The Atlanta Concert Band presents “Bernstein at 100,” a musical celebration of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Free; donations accepted. 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: atlantaconcertband.org.


Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m. The Choral Guild of Atlanta performs the works of composer Dan Forrest as artist Clara Blalock simultaneously paints her interpreta-

OCTOBER 27, 2018

Atlanta Concert Band tion of the music. The painting will be sold at silent auction following the concert. $15; $12 seniors; $5 students. Northside Drive Baptist Church, 3100 Northside Drive, Buckhead. Info: 404-223-6362 or cgatl.org.


Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m. A concert highlighting vocal music features songs by composers including Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin and C.G. Walden. Free. Dunwoody United Methodist Chapel, 1548 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: Brentley Cauthen at 770-542-1661 or brentley.cauthen@dunwoodyumc.org.


Sunday, Oct. 28, 4-5 p.m. Harpist John Alan Wickey performs in the Skylight Gallery Concert Series at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. Wickey has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New World Symphony and with soloists ranging from Mel Tormé to Cab Calloway. $5. Lowry Hall, Third Floor, 4484 Peachtree Road N.E., Brookhaven. Info: museum.oglethorpe.edu.

Fans of Bluegrass, Roots, Americana and Folk music will enjoy a full Saturday of music on the Green as the City of Sandy Springs presents its first annual Harvest Music Fest.

FREE • STARTS AT 3:00PM Performance by Early James & The Latest • Sailing To Denver • Sierra Hull • City Strings Picking Party with: The Gibson Brothers, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley For more information visit citysprings.com

20 | Education

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Open House Saturday, Dec. 1 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.

Paula Boston, E. Rivers Elementary


Paula Boston, left, a media specialist at E. Rivers Elementary, holds books made during a bookmaking activity taught by Greg Christie, right, the owner of a children’s bookstore.

Paula Boston, media specialist at E. Rivers Elementary, a public Buckhead school, is working to make the library the star of the school, transforming it from a quiet space to a place of collaborative information. Boston, who was nominated as “Exceptional Educator” by school Principal John Waller, has also partnered with a group to bring in trained therapy dogs for students to practice reading aloud. The activity is hoped to make any student a more confident reader, Boston said. Trained therapy dogs are used because they have been screened for behavior and temperament. She’s implemented “makerspace” activities, which include a variety of craft activities from web coding to cardboard activities. Boston has been at E. Rivers for five years. She has been a media specialist for eight years, following a 13-year career as a classroom teacher.



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Q: Why did you decide to start the therapy dog reading program? A: I have always wanted to have a therapy dog at school. This year I was contacted by Mer-

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ilee Kelley from Reading P.A.W.S. One of her volunteers, Sis O’Hearn used to work at E. Rivers as a speech teacher. She really wanted to do the Reading P.A.W.S. program at E. Rivers. I was so happy to say yes! We are hoping Reading P.A.W.S. will help our readers become more fluent in their reading abilities. We have collected reading achievement data before the program and will collect data at the end of the program. We are hoping the program will yield reading progress and fluency. Research says that reading to a dog is less intimidating than reading to a human.

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Q: How do you think libraries/media centers in schools have changed in recent years? A: Media centers are not the quiet libraries of the past. They are vibrant places where chil-

dren can explore, build, design and imagine new things. They are collaborative places to share ideas and learn from one another. I am currently working to change the furniture in the media center to encourage collaboration. Libraries are a place for exploration through books, technology and hands-on manipulatives. I compete with the morning “Power Up” class in the gym, where lots of exciting games are played before the 8 a.m. morning bell.

Q: What keeps you going year after year? A: I love trying new things. A few years ago I worked to set up the media center with mak-

erspace activities; last year I added the Lion’s Tale Book Clubs for Kids; and this year I am tackling bookmaking with students. Changing things up keeps things new and exciting for everyone! I also love finding books that children are excited about reading.

Q: Why did you decide to work in a media center? A: I had gone back to school for a master’s in educational leadership, but I realized I still wanted to teach children. I found out that being a media specialist was a combination of administrative work and teaching children in the media center. It was the best of both worlds.

Q: What are you most proud of in your career? A: I love helping students learn how to choose a book that is just right for them. I love help-

ing students become readers. I love helping students find books they will love to read! I love having books in the media center that kids want to read.

OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Classifieds | 21


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22 | Community

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‘More MARTA’ transit in Buckhead will take more money Continued from page 1 “Think of this as a major and transformational down payment on our future commitment to the city and to the region,” said MARTA General Manager & CEO Jeffrey Parker in a press release. “This is an important milestone, but it’s not the finish line.” The local projects are part of “More MARTA,” a huge transit expansion plan funded by a half-penny sales tax approved by voters in 2016. It is expected to raise $2.5 billion over the next 40 years. But even that amount won’t cover such major items as building a light-rail line around the entire BeltLine or the new “Clifton Corridor” light rail between Lindbergh Center and Emory. Pressure from various interest groups prior to the MARTA board’s Oct. 4 vote led the agency to tweak the amount of “More MARTA” funds going to the BeltLine and the Clifton Corridor, among other adjustments. And MARTA promised to seek other funding sources, including private money. It also remains to be seen how much money the sales tax actually raises. City officials are currently examining whether a separate but related sales tax earmarked for roads and sidewalks is raising less money than projected. Meanwhile, some of the less construc-

tion-heavy improvements have already started or are more likely to happen soon, such as the bus service improvements on Peachtree Road and Northside Drive. The “More MARTA” tax was approved with a proposed list of projects. Some of the biggest ones involved southeastern Buckhead, including constructing light rail on the BeltLine, a 22mile path, park and transit loop being built around the city; building the new Clifton Corridor light rail line between Lindbergh Center and Avondale stations through the Emory University area; and adding a new station on the Gold and Red lines at Buckhead’s Armour Yard, offering connections to the BeltLine and Amtrak. But MARTA recently said it can’t afford all of the projects — the Armour Yard station is among the casualties — and debated funding and construction priority on others. Major controversy erupted over MARTA’s plan to prioritize the Clifton Corridor and delay BeltLine rail or even change it

A map of the “More MARTA” transit expansion plan.

into bus service or something else. In the final vote, both BeltLine and Clifton Corridor rail remain, but with funding earmarked only for segments of both. In Buckhead, that would make Lindbergh Center Station a hub of those new rail lines. The Clifton Corridor would run between Lindbergh Center and the Emory University area. And a BeltLine rail segment would connect Lindbergh to Ponce City Market and other downtown areas. Still not funded at all is a “Northside” section of BeltLine rail that would run through southern Buckhead and was supported for priority by the Shepherd Center hospital, which is along the proposed route. The Clifton Corridor is earmarked for $250 million of the sales tax money. A total of $570 million is devoted to various BeltLine rail segments, amounting to 61 percent of the planned route along the 22-mile circular park, according to MARTA. Even the segments that will get sales tax money need further funding sources, and MARTA says it will work to secure it. “MARTA intends to engage expertise in transit public-private partnerships to help us design a path forward for complete build out of the BeltLine corridor,” Parker wrote in a Sept. 27 letter to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms about the updated project list. “We will work in partnership with Atlanta BeltLine Inc. with the goal of having an actionable plan to leverage BeltLine and MARTA development assets to access private funding and financing. This approach will prioritize joint development of transit and affordable housing along the corridor.” Emory indicated a willingness to get involved in the funding campaign, too. “Today, MARTA and the city of Atlanta made an historic commitment to pub-


lic transportation and to the future of our community,” said Emory President Claire E. Sterk in a press release issued the day of the MARTA board vote. “The entire region is one step closer to a smart, sustainable and efficient transit network that connects communities as never before. Emory University and Emory Healthcare look forward to joining with businesses, government entities, and others who recognize the importance of this public transit opportunity and are committed to work in broad partnership to make it a reality.” Buckhead is also marked for two significant bus route improvements. One is “arterial rapid transit” bus service on Peachtree Street and Peachtree Road. Arterial rapid transit means a bus that runs especially frequently and with priority at signals and in lines. The Peachtree route would run through Buckhead between Five Points station in Downtown to the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe Gold/Red Line station in Brookhaven. The other major bus project is “bus rapid transit” on Northside Drive. Bus rapid transit means the bus would travel mostly in a dedicated lane. The Northside route would run between southwest Atlanta and I-75 on the Buckhead border. Other items on the adjusted project list include more than $600 million for “highcapacity transit projects” in southwest and southeast Atlanta, including light rail on Campbellton Road and bus rapid transit between Summerhill and downtown; $238 million for improvements and route additions to the existing bus system; and $200 million to improving existing transit stations, with a priority list that does not include any Buckhead stations. For more information, see itsmarta. com/moremarta.


OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Community | 23


Police and trail advocates push homeless camps to move Continued from page 1


is a persistent issue in a metro region with high income inequality and rising housing costs. The South Fork Conservancy, a group building paths along the creek, joined Atlanta Police officers, city code enforcement and solicitor’s office representatives, and outreach specialists from the homeless assistance organization HOPE Atlanta on Sept. 25 visits to the camps, which were later publicized in a conservancy press release. “It was wretched,” said Sally Sears, a board member and founding director of the conservancy, describing a camp of 80 to 100 people under Buford Highway near the Atlanta-Brookhaven border. Sears is also a CBS46 TV news journalist who reported on the issue as well. No one was immediately forced out of the camps, Sears said. Instead, there was a carrot-and-stick approach, with police reminding them that “urban camping” is illegal and urging them to leave within a few days or lose their belongings and face arrest, while HOPE workers advised them on shelters and assistance programs. Property owners may be cited as well, Sears said. Homeless people have long lived in the area and there have been similar official sweeps in recent years. Why the current push to remove them? Sears said the camps and homeless people are “more and more unattractive for our trail users,” but added, “I think the tipping point was the burglary rate.” Police officials in Buckhead’s Zone 2 have said burglary is on the rise, especially in storage units, and Sears said there was concern that some campers are involved. Identifiable stolen items were found at one camp in the Morningside Nature Preserve, she said. Atlanta Police Department spokespersons confirmed that they believe there is a connection between crime and the camps, but also said none of the homeless people were charged. “For the record, we made no arrests,” said APD spokesperson Carlos Campos. “Our main goal in these initiatives is to help connect homeless individuals with the proper resources — be it housing assistance, mental health or substance abuse counseling, access to healthcare, etc. We want to focus on a long-term solution, rather than getting them to simply move.” “We all have to recognize how politically sensitive this is in the city of Atlanta,” Sears said of officials avoiding a forceful pushing out of the campers. “You don’t just run the bums out. … [They are people] who need and deserve the quality of care HOPE provides.” Ronald Jones, HOPE’s director of homeless outreach, said in a written statement that of the many people his organization spoke to during the camp visits, only one requested assistance and was placed in a shelter. However, Jones said that low response rate is common, as it often takes several visits for someone to accept help

Atlanta Police officers examine a homeless camp off the Cheshire Farm Trail during a Sept. 25 visit. SOUTH FORK CONSERVANCY/SALLY SEARS

with counseling, shelter and access to permanent housing. There are no shelters in the immediate area. Economic factors mean that homelessness is a persistent issue in metro Atlanta, said HOPE spokesperson Beth Haynes. “Most of us would be amazed to learn how many of the working poor find themselves episodically homeless,” Haynes said. “When a large percentage of the population is one paycheck away from eviction, you can see how it happens.” Because of those factors, it is unlikely that all of the homeless campers will get into housing or remain away from the creeks for long. Maj. Brandon Gurley of the Brookhaven Police Department says he thinks the Atlanta effort is simply pushing homeless people to move a short distance into his city, where his department has similar crime concerns. “We have seen an increase in our homeless population,” Gurley said. “Atlanta has taken some steps that have pushed them into our jurisdiction.” Gurley said the Brookhaven Police work with the Salvation Army to assist homeless people. The Salvation Army has a local headquarters on Buford Highway, but does not have a shelter. “We are trying to guide them to services,” Gurley said of local homeless people. “But some have said they are happy right there. We have to enforce our urban camping law ... and try to get them to areas better suited for them.” A city survey three years ago, conducted with DeKalb County officials, count-

ed 35 to 40 homeless people living in Brookhaven. Gurley suggested that Atlanta officials could have another motive for driving out homeless people: the Super Bowl the city is scheduled to host in February. Some Super Bowl host cities have drawn criticism in recent years for forcing homeless people off the streets to make the city look nicer for tourists and TV cameras. Other sporting events have had similar impacts, including Atlanta’s 1996 Olympics, where the city faced civil rights lawsuits for a crackdown on homeless people in public places. Haynes said HOPE has “no information” about any such plan for this year’s Super Bowl, and Sears said she did not get the sense that was a motive. Another factor in the area’s homeless population may be last year’s controversial closure of the Peachtree-Pine shelter downtown, where more than 200 men lived. Haynes said it is impossible to say where each person went, but that HOPE offered assistance to each Peachtree-Pine resident directly. “The majority accepted the assistance, but there were some who refused help,” she said. Some of the local camps have persisted for years, Sears said. The largest camp she saw was beneath Buford Highway in “one of those wonderfully ambiguous locations” on the city line that can fall between jurisdictions, she said. She estimated it had roughly 80 to 100 people. She estimates about 50 people total in other camps that were visited. Those other sites

include an area along the PATH400 multiuse trail at Miami Circle; the Cheshire Farm Trail around Cheshire Bridge and Lindbergh roads; and the Morningside Nature Preserve around a train trestle that notably caught fire last year, with some speculating that a camp’s fire was the cause. Noting that a similar camp has existed off of I-20 west for more than two decades, despite similar outreach and crackdown efforts, Haynes said that economics and location may keep the local camps going. “Atlanta is one of the most economically inequitable cities in the country,” Haynes said. “We have a severe shortage of affordable housing and have seen rents increase rapidly, but low-end wages remain stagnant ... This creates a flow of people who become homeless due to a host of reasons — illness, job loss, escaping domestic violence, substance addiction, even a car breaking down. In sheer numbers, the metro area’s homeless numbers have decreased over the past decade but it is still significant.” And wooded creeks have similar attractions for people who lose their homes as they do for people who like walking along trails. “In some cases, [homeless people] are banding together in places that feel private, somewhat safer than the streets or under bridges, in order to create their own version of a community,” said Haynes. “If you had to choose, would you pick a creek bank or a freeway underpass?”

24 |

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