10-12-18 Sandy Springs Reporter

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


Sandy Springs Reporter



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

Rocking Oktoberfest

Pages 13-15

Mount Vernon’s future takes shape in two projects BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Two city proposals to remake Mount Vernon Highway between Roswell Road and Ga. 400 are taking shape after recent public meetings. One project is a major reconfiguration of the road’s intersection with Johnson Ferry Road. The other project would bring a multiuse path and new sidewalks to over 1 mile of Mount Vernon. Both projects are on the city’s special See MOUNT on page 22

Lilianna Watts, 4, gets into the groove with singer Joy Boyd and the rest of the band Old School during Caption the Rotary Club of Sandy Springs’ debut Oktoberfest celebration Oct. 6 at City Springs.

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 !


City plans challenge to Atlanta water rates BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

The Sandy Springs city attorney alleged at the Oct. 2 City Council meeting that Atlanta has artificially inflated its water rates, contributing to an 81 percent increase, and plans to challenge the rates as part of the city’s ongoing mission to get control of the water system or improve its service. Atlanta may also be using bond funds earmarked for local water system improvements for other purposes, attorney Dan Lee said.

A 37-year-old voter

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Page 18

See CITY on page 23



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The City Council approved an agreement with Gwinnett County to install a multiuse path as part of its Spalding Drive project, contributing $1.2 million. Gwinnett’s project includes widening Spalding Drive between Winters Chapel Road and River Exchange Drive and replacing an existing bridge. As part of the city’s agreement with the county, a multiuse path along the south side of Spalding Drive will be built. Sidewalks on the north side will be added to connect to existing sidewalks on Holcomb Bridge Road and to Sandy Springs’ new but not yet opened Crooked Creek Park. The project will be coordinated by Gwinnett County, the city of Peachtree Corners, and the city of Sandy Springs. The total estimated project cost is $10.5 million.


The James M. Cox Foundation , a local organization, has awarded a $50,000 grant to Second Helpings Atlanta, which “rescues” extra food to deliver to those in need and reduce food waste. The grant will go toward expanding the organization’s operations and reach in the metro area, according to a press release. “This significant grant allows us to sustain our growth in accordance with our strategic plan,” Sheri Labovitz, president of Second Helpings Atlanta, said in the release. “It is both a validation and a challenge to us to keep finding innovative ways to feed the hungry.” Second Helpings Atlanta, an official partner of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, currently rescues more than 125,000 pounds of surplus fresh, perishable food every month, the release said. Launched in 2004, Second Helpings Atlanta’s network now includes more than 80 food donors, 50 partner agencies and over 470 volunteer drivers. It is slated to pick up more than 1.75 million pounds of food in 2018, according to the release.




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The competition that will find sculptures to install in City Springs for over a year will begin early next year. The City Council approved small changes to the agreement between Art Sandy Springs, the local group operating the competition, at its Oct. 2 meeting. The submission deadline for artists is Jan. 3, 2019, with judge selections scheduled to be made Feb. 8. The sculptures would then be installed in April and stay up until March 2020, according to the document. The competition is an official component of the city’s Public Art Policy, which seeks to bring art to public spaces like City Springs.

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City Springs retail, restaurants begin opening, get approvals BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Restaurants and businesses have begun opening in the commercial section of City Springs. One restaurant recently received approval to enclose a patio, changing the façade of the building. Four restaurants and three retail tenants were announced earlier this year, but were not ready for the City Hall and Performing Arts Center grand openings in May and August, respectively. A health-food restaurant, Flower Child, plans to open sometime in October. The Select, a restaurant by the owners behind the Paces & Vine restaurant in Vinings, has received approval by the city to enclose an existing patio. On the retail side, “hydration” treatment clinic Vida-Flo and fitness center TURN Studio opened within the past month, according to the businesses’ social media accounts. The city’s Public Facilities Authority, which is the City Council acting in a different capacity to authorize City Springs plans, approved The Select’s plan at its Oct. 2 meeting. The authority’s approval essentially recalculated the rent based on the square footage that would change with the new enclosed patio. The restaurant, which plans to open on the southwestern side of the City Springs building, still faces other hurdles before starting construction, including building permit approval, said Dave Green, the restaurant’s co-owner. The Select is aiming to open in March. “There’s a lot of things that have to happen, I must say,” he said. The enclosure would solve issues caused by odd elevations and walls on the current space, Green said. The space currently has an overhead covering and railings outlining it. Dining tables are expected to be set up in the space. The enclosure is also planned to have large windows that can be opened during pleasant weather and closed at other times, he said. “We worked with the city to come up with a way to be more enjoyable year round,” Green said. “It will be able to be used every day of the year.” The enclosure was unanimously approved by the authority. The agreement also al-

The planned enclosed patio is shown at the center of this illustration.

lows the city to ask The Select to remove the enclosure when and if they vacate the space. The Select will offer “a light interpretation of contemporary American comfort food” with a slightly French twist. Flower Child will offer “fast casual, healthy food” with a menu devoted to “veggies, grains, fruits and healthy proteins,” according to a press release. The City Springs location is its second in Georgia, following its first opening in the Shops Around Lenox in Buckhead earlier this year, the release said.

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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.

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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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North end task force disagrees on affordability goal BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Members of the city’s North End Revitalization Task Force grappled with its potential role in gentrifying the area with its proposals for redevelopment at its Oct. 3 meeting. Some members disagreed on the task they are charged with — not displacing the lower-income people who live there currently or ensuring workforce housing exists in the redevelopment plan. “We are half kidding ourselves if we don’t address that some people are going to be displaced,” Colin Hubbard, a developer, said. The task force is focused on creating practical solutions for redeveloping the north end, which, for task force purposes, is defined as the area along Roswell Road between Dalrymple Road, Ga. 400 and the city’s border with the Chattahoochee River. The group is considering a variety of potential projects that range from creating new community centers to stronger school partnerships. Main tenets of

the “revitalization” are creating higherend retail and new residential developments. The task force has been charged by Mayor Rusty Paul with avoiding displacing the working-class residents of the city’s perhaps most diverse area. The task force agreed this is a hard ask, but disagreed on what the specific ask is. Gabe Sterling, a former City Council member who previously represented the north end, argued the task force should focus on suggesting policies that encourage affordable housing. It shouldn’t focus on making sure each individual that currently lives there can immediately remain in the north end when redevelopment begins. “If we focus on the individual human being, it makes this lift nearly impossible in real life,” Sterling said. Most developers on the group agreed, while the affordable housing advocates said the proposals do need to focus on relocating people who are displaced by the redevelopment. Jeff Garrison, a retail developer, agreed the task force should focus on

Gentrification is going to happen. Do we want it all to be lowerincome up here or do we want to spread it throughout the city? JEFF GARRISON RETAIL DEVELOPER

those policies that encourage “the invisible hand” of the market to create affordable housing. “Gentrification is going to happen. Do we want it all to be lower-income up here or do we want to spread it throughout the city?” Garrison said. Richard Munger, a residential developer, said most of the existing affordable housing should be redeveloped because it is “on its last leg” and “functionally obsolete.” Melanie Noble-Couchman, an affordable housing advocate, pushed back against that, saying that while not luxury housing, it is still functional and valuable for people who live there. “Somebody that’s working for $40,000 or $50,000 and has kids in school, that eight-foot ceiling doesn’t mean anything to them,” Noble-Couchman said. “Nobody is saying that we don’t want redevelopment. The value has to be placed on the families.” Intentional relocations that assist people displaced by redevelopment is, while complex and difficult, possible, Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic, an afford-

WEEK 2018


OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Community | 11


able housing adviser, said. “It’s not unheard of,” ShannonVlkovic said. “We have to agree that it’s addition without subtraction.” Shannon-Vlkovic said she can bring examples of affordability that have been created in redevelopment projects in other cities. Munger said he believes the market could support a mixed-income redevelopment once a “sense of place” is created. The task force’s proposal needs a “catalytic” project that transforms the area. Without that, it will stay the same, he said. “We can’t get so laser focused on one thing,” Munger said of focusing only on displacement. The group’s members presented ideas on several other topics at the meeting, including school partnerships, green space creation and the limits of the city’s current zoning rules. The task force will present highlights at a public open house currently set for Oct. 18 in City Hall. That may change, pending finding available space in the north end. The first open house was held in a north end event hall that is unavailable for this meeting, but members agreed the city should try to find space in that area if possible.

Project proposals Over a month-long break from meeting, the members were tasked with coming up with proposals for specific topics they were assigned, including parks, transportation and zoning issues. An overall component of the north end’s recommendations is expected to include several “nodes” that have different character and proposed developments. The members have discussed

proposing small community centers in those nodes or one large center, which was a main recommendation residents made at an open house. One transportation proposal made by Sterling, who led that policy research, was a gondola lift. A gondola, a compartment supported and propelled by cables from overhead, would cost much less than light rail in right-of-way costs, Sandy Springs’ main roadblock from building new transit, he said. Other possibilities include creating a tax allocation district or proposing a special sales tax similar to the city of Atlanta’s MARTA funding tax, Sterling said. Garrison, who gave the “smart development” presentation, which essentially focused on zoning issues, said some city zoning requirements are “very discouraging” to development. He used the large North River Shopping Center, which holds the Stars and Strikes bowling alley, Dollar General and a few other stores, as an example. “This project will never be redeveloped under the current code,” Garrison said. A discount grocer chain proposed to redevelop the site into a new store, but cancelled plans in 2017 after opposition from the city and residents. Garrison said the frontage, streetscape and two-story requirements deter most developers and the task force should recommend the city change or remove them. On developing stronger partnership with schools, Charles Crosby, the president of a local construction management company, said the task force should help the community connect to services already offered at local schools or use their facilities as community centers.

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Pediatric urgent care right in your neighborhood Children’s at Chamblee-Brookhaven Now you have convenient access to pediatric urgent care in the Chamblee-Brookhaven neighborhood. So the next time your child’s doctor is unavailable, ours will be standing by, including evenings and holidays.


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OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Community | 13



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


Republican incumbent Karen Handel and Democrat challenger Lucy McBath are competing for the 6th Congressional District seat. McBath did not provide Voters Guide answers.

KAREN HANDEL Karenhandel.com

What is motivating you to run for Congress? The people of the 6th District, our great state and this exceptional nation are my motivation. The citizens here know me and know my deep commitment to working on their behalf. My business roles, public service and my own personal experiences — along with my nearly 25 years as a resident of the 6th District — give me a unique perspective and broad understanding of the issues facing our community. As a first-term member of Congress, I have helped to deliver meaningful results on important policy matters — reducing taxes, creating jobs and helping to combat opioids and end human trafficking.





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 common-sense 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.

A dual background in healthcare and business is a good combination for the complex health and insurance issues facing Georgia. Since my retirement last year, I have had full time to work on my priorities for the state and our district. This is an opportunity for me to use the leadership skills developed over a lifetime as a female orthopedic surgeon and former president of Resurgens for a great cause, bringing a common-sense approach to solving problems.



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.

I was motivated by the results of the November 2016 presidential election. I did not like the way candidate Trump was mocking a disabled reporter. I was also concerned about the character, values and comments I observed by candidate Trump. I was concerned during the debate when candidate Trump stated that if he won the election, he would have his political opponent investigated — something we do not do in elections in the United States. I initially ran in the 2018 special election for state Senate District 32 and received 42 percent of the vote. In November, I anticipate over 50 percent!

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.




In Senate District 32, Republican incumbent Kay Kirkpatrick is facing a challenge from Democrat Christine Triebsch in a rematch of last year’s special election.



14 | Community

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What is motivating you to run for this office?

What is motivating you to run for this office?

We are at a crucial moment in Georgia’s history -- a time that calls on us all to embrace our future. I believe that government is an integral part of making that happen. All our citizens deserve affordable healthcare; universal, quality education, including affordable child care and debt-free higher education; efficient transportation options; and clean air and water. I look forward to working with the people of Senate District 40, shaping an agenda that works to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and throughout Georgia, now and in the future.

My motivation is to serve families. I have passed dozens of bills focusing on improving the economy, supporting our military and first responders, ending human trafficking, lowering taxes, reducing regulations, fully funding and supporting education, adding new roads to relieve traffic, helping families with special needs, etc. I will continue these efforts by leading the Senate School Safety Committee and focusing on serving others. Georgia is the number one place to do business for five years in a row and we will continue the momentum to assure jobs and opportunities.



What is motivating you to run for this office?

What is motivating you to run for this office?

I helped give people the right to vote on cityhood in Fulton and DeKalb. I have authored legislation on education reform, various disabilities, infrastructure and tax relief. In DeKalb, I am the last Republican and help stop bad legislation such as increasing the MARTA tax or repealing my property tax freeze. I have worked on similar legislation in Fulton. I have been endorsed by six of the seven mayors and a large amount of our local elected officials (Democrats and Republicans) because, unlike my opponent, I have actual accomplishments, not sound bites and slogans.

I believe that Georgia has an opportunity to step forward and be seen as a leading state for business and healthy communities. In the past several years, the legislation coming out of the House and Senate does not promote unity and can drive both small business and larger industries away from Georgia. It is obvious that Georgia needs to expand Medicaid as we are watching our rural communities lose access to healthcare. I also believe that education in our public schools must be funded at a 2019 level and not a 1985 level.





What is motivating you to run for this office?

What is motivating you to run for this office?

I love and care about my home community. District 51 is where I was raised, where my family and I live and work, and where my wife and I bought a home to make our life and future. We are deeply invested in the fabric of this community. I was taught the importance of tikkun olam, meaning that I have a responsibility as a member of my community to make the world a better place by improving the opportunities for all people. I believe that the best way to accomplish this is with limited but compassionate common-sense government.

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.



What is motivating you to run for this office?

What is motivating you to run for this office?

I’m in this race because Georgia’s legislature has veered away from issues people care about, and the course needs correcting. Voters care about access to affordable healthcare and quality public education. They care about reducing commute times and protecting the environment for our families to enjoy. If our elected officials cared about the same things, we wouldn’t have such ugly and divisive politics. We need a new direction.

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.

Democrat Sally Harrell is challenging Republican incumbent Fran Millar in the state Senate District 40 race.



In House District 51, Republican Alex Kaufman and Democrat Josh McLaurin are competing to replace retiring Republican incumbent Wendell Willard.



Republican incumbent John Albers is facing a challenge from Democrat Ellyn Jeager in Senate District 56.



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




OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

Community | 15



In state House District 80, Republican incumbent Meagan Hanson is challenged by Democrat Matthew Wilson.

MEAGAN HANSON hansonforhouse.com

What is motivating you to run for this office? As your state representative, I have brought significant positive change to our community through transit reform, increasing education funding and leading the charge to keep Georgia free from hate and discrimination. This past year, I co-authored game-changing transit legislation to transform and unify the multiple transit systems serving the Atlanta metro area under one banner, the “ATL,” and expand service to areas like Cobb and Gwinnett. But there is more work to be done. My next legislative task is to reform transit funding to meet the needs of our communities.

MATTHEW WILSON matthewforgeorgia.com

What is motivating you to run for this office? I’m running because I’ve seen firsthand how our state legislators haven’t been working for the people who elected them, but instead for the special interests and corporate PACs filling their campaign war chests. For many people, the 2016 presidential election was a wake-up call that signaled we all need to do more. For me, that meant stepping up to run for this seat so we can have better representation in north Atlanta.

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16 | Commentary

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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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3 Days + Over 200 Bites


Beer + Wine + Cocktails



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.


You have seen their story on Narcos on Netflix- now hear the stories of Capturing Pablo Escobar live with DEA Agents Javier Pena and Steve Murphy, who were tasked with investigating the world’s most notorious drug trafficker.



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.



Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School | hies.org

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-

Bariatric Innovations Bariatric Innovations of Atlanta & General Surgery

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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Mount Vernon’s future takes shape in two projects Continued from page 1

COME TALK TO US ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE NORTH END City of Sandy Springs to host open house on draft redevelopment vision and goals.

An open house is planned for Thursday, October 18, 2018 6:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Sandy Springs City Hall 1 Galambos Way Sandy Springs, GA 30328 For more information please visit sandyspringsga.gov

• • • •

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transportation tax list, which was approved by voters in 2016.

Intersection concept

The Sandy Springs City Council chose to instruct staff to begin the full design process for the “compressed” grid option for the Mount Vernon and Johnson Ferry intersection reconfiguration at its Oct. 2 meeting. The grid concepts would change the unusual X-shaped intersection into two independent streets connected by the new, controversial cut-through road east of the Sandy Springs Library. The council previously delayed picking one of the two options, which include a full grid that would require the taking of most businesses on the south side of the intersection between Roswell and Boylston. The compressed grid would likely save those properties, and an estimated $5 million to $10 million on right of way acquisition. The full grid would create a miniature park of 2.4 acres. The compressed grid would save 0.8 acres. The expected cost for the compressed would be $26.6 million to $31.6 million, according to a city presentation. For the full grid, it would be $31.4 million to $36.4 million, the presentation said. Of the comments submitted at an Aug. 30 meeting, Alan Johnson, the city’s manager of projects funded by a transportation special local option tax, said 13 people were in favor of the full grid and 10 were in favor of the compressed. Many who chose the compressed option said they did so because of cost, Johnson said. City Councilmembers Tibby DeJulio and Jody Reichel preferred the full version. DeJulio worried the city would later regret constructing the compressed option. Reichel said many neighbors she has talked to favor the full version, and that increased green space could be used for a dog park the city has previously considered. Councilmember Chris Burnett said he is in favor of the compressed version because it would avoid taking businesses and comes at a lower cost. Councilmembers John Paulson, Steve Soteres and Andy Bauman made similar statements. The council instructed staff to move forward with the compressed version and to try to save room for as much green space as possible. A full design will later come back for public input and city approval. “This is not written in stone yet,” Bauman said.

Proposed path and sidewalks We don’t rest until you do! Call 404-257-0080 or visit SleepCenterGA.com for an appointment today.

The city proposed concepts for a multiuse path, sidewalk and center lane on Mount Vernon at an Oct. 4 public meeting about the path, where some residents

voiced a desire to see the project’s orientation flipped due to property-taking concerns. The project is expected to need some residential property under the current plan. The project is funded by the special transportation tax and is intended to provide walkability and last-mile connectivity to the Sandy Springs MARTA Station. The concept presented at the meeting would add 6-foot-wide sidewalks on the north side of Mount Vernon and 10- to 12-foot-wide sidewalks on the south side, running from Vernon Trace to just north of Abernathy Road. Design and right of way acquisition is expected to take up the three years. The project also feeds into the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Mount Vernon bridge project, which is widening the road from two to four lanes. The wider path would be better on the more commercially-dominated side of the street, where the sidewalk is currently planned, rather than the residential side, some residents said at the meeting, which was held in the Studio Theatre at City Springs. “The south side has potential to infringe more on residents’ property,” one resident said. The city chose to put the wider path on that residential side because it would be more accessible to residents living in the single-family homes and condos along that street, Allen Johnson, the city’s TSPLOST manager, said. They are trying to minimize right of way acquisition as much as possible, he said. But some residents said they would prefer to cross the street to access the path rather than have it eat into more of their property. The project would also add turn lanes onto Mount Vernon from Glenridge Drive, Barfield Road, Crestline Parkway, Peachtree-Dunwoody Road and Abernathy Road, according to a meeting handout. A center turn lane would be created down the length of the project on Mount Vernon, providing refuge for merging cars, Johnson said. In some places, there is enough space to accommodate adding the center lane, but in other spots the road would need to be widened, Joe Gillis, a TSPLOST project manager, said. The center turn lane also adds flexibility for possible future transit projects, Gillis said. The project is expected to be reviewed at the City Council’s work session on Oct. 16 held in City Hall, 1 Galambos Way. Comments can be submitted to rsherwood@ sandyspringsga.gov until Oct. 15. For more information, visit the project’s webpage at sandyspringsga.gov/mvc. SS

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Lee said the city sent a letter to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Oct. 4 requesting the rates be corrected. If that fails, the next step is seeking a legal resolution under a state utility law. A city of Atlanta spokesperson said that the accusations are untrue and the conclusions drawn by Sandy Springs legal staff and consultants are “incorrect and irresponsible.” “A narrative of poor service on hydrant leaks and water main breaks is being peddled as a basis for purchasing the water system the city of Atlanta owns outright,” city of Atlanta spokesperson Michael Smith said in a written statement. “To disparage and make inaccurate assumptions regarding the use of water and sewer revenues based upon information obtained in open records requests, without a clear understanding of the business operations of the utility, is an obvious attempt to lay a misleading foundation for an argument to challenge the Atlanta rate structure and ownership of the system.” Smith also said, “The city has used revenues appropriately and any assertions to the contrary are both unfounded and reckless. The presentations, assessments and conclusions drawn by consultants retained by Sandy Springs are incorrect and irresponsible. Their assertions, as presented to Sandy Springs officials, demonstrate a lack of expertise in water utility finance, a lack of understanding of the material they have requested and are an obvious attempt to continue a false narrative.” Last month, the Sandy Springs City Council tabled a proposal to begin charging Atlanta a water fee, fearing it would backfire. The proposal was not reintroduced at the meeting, but instead council approved a plan to send the city of Atlanta a letter requesting the rates be “corrected.” If a response is not “immediate and appropriate,” Sandy Springs plans to take a legal route to get the rates changed under the state’s Service Delivery Strategy law, which the city believes Atlanta to be violating. The “alternative resolution,” or mediation, process is “not unlike a lawsuit,” Lee said. “It’s an attempt to get both sides to a happy medium,” he said. “As I presented to you, the [city of Sandy Springs] is willing to partner with the [city of Atlanta], but in the end, citizens of Sandy Springs require a better and improved water operation, with legitimate water rates,” the letter stated, which was signed by Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul. If Lee does not receive a response to the letter from Atlanta by Oct. 14, he will send a second before moving forward with mediation. The battle over control of the water system is one of the city’s long-standing issues. The city launched a new priority in January this year to seek improvements to the Atlanta-run water system or sue to seize control of it. Sandy Springs claims the sys-

tem is aging and leaky. Since early this year, the city has been asking Atlanta for records to use for an appraisal of the water system, including what rates the city charges Sandy Springs customers. Atlanta was slow to respond to Sandy Springs’ requests, and has so far fulfilled 30 percent of them, Lee said. In Paul’s “State of the City” address, he said the city was considering trying to purchase the system from Atlanta. The analysis of water system documents is being done by Hartman Consultants, LLC, a specialist in water service studies. The city is charged an hourly rate for the consulting work, and the city has budgeted up to $260,000, according to the contract. The city entered into the agreement on Sept. 26, following indirect City Council approval at a Sept. 4 work session when it instructed Lee and staff to continue on water service research, Kraun said. The council did not vote specifically to approve the contract. In response to an open records request, the city initially claimed the contract was a private document between Lee’s law firm and the consultant, but later provided the Reporter with a copy. Lee said Atlanta is using the water service system to subsidize the wastewater system. Documents Sandy Springs has received show Atlanta is using some of the water revenues improperly, including diverting Watershed Department funds to the city’s general fund, Lee said. “I hope that the current administration didn’t know about all this, and will learn about and fix it,” Lee said. “It wouldn’t be a hard job” to stop commingling to funds and correct the rates, he said. Atlanta charges a 21 percent surcharge to Sandy Springs, which is “erroneous,” Lee said. Atlanta has also inflated the base rate charge by 81 percent between 2010 and 2014, contributing to the water bills being among the highest in country, Lee said. “It appears that over 15 percent of the current water bill in Sandy Springs is attributable to these bogus charges,” the presentation says. Lee said Atlanta has not done the required studies to justify the rates, making the rates “arbitrary.” Atlanta has sought bonds based on proposals for $45 million of water system improvements, but the city has not produced any documents showing improvements that have been done in Sandy Springs, Lee said. “So they’ve asked the bond market for system improvements they’ve stated are going to occur in Sandy Springs, but, to our knowledge, have not actually been done?” Paul asked, which Lee confirmed. Paul said he wants to know if Sandy Springs has any standing to challenge future bonds Atlanta may seek for the water system.


6210 Riverwood Drive 904 Dunwoody Chace

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Continued from page 1

Can’t Find Your Home in Sandy Springs? Call Me!


City plans challenge to Atlanta water rates


Community | 23




OCTOBER 12 - 25, 2018

The Varsity

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