Brookhaven Reporter - November 2020

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NOVEMBER 2020 • VOL. 12 — NO. 11

Brookhaven Reporter WORTH KNOWING

A PATH400 worker’s trail to a second chance P19

Perimeter Business

Shop local for the holidays ►

PAGES 7-10

Lynwood Residents join county officials in fighting Dresden Park’s historic Village tax break recognition draws praise



Giving thanks in a time of crisis

AND ERIN SCHILLING The city’s decision to officially honor Lynwood Park, considered the oldest historically Black neighborhood in DeKalb County, is drawing praise from its longtime residents -- and from one of the several celebrities born and raised in the tight-knit




a nice village it was,” says George Wallace,

“We can’t even explain to people what a star comedian of movies and Las Vegas headlining shows who still owns the family home on Osborne Road where he grew up in the 1950s and ’60s. “We had everything we needed,” he said, describing a self-susSPECIAL

Time for Perimeter cities to plan together? P20

The Brookhaven Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIP 30319 For information:

Part of the site plan for the Dresden Village project as filed with the city of Brookhaven. For a large version showing the controversial street changes, see the jump on p. 28. ►

BY JOHN RUCH AND ERIN SCHILLING DeKalb County officials who aim to fight the Dresden Village development’s tax break in a Dec. 1 court hearing are now being joined by neighborhood associations that oppose the street changes that are a rationale for the deal. “The city of Brookhaven is pushing,

against justified county and school board opposition, a tax abatement predicated on the delivery of an infrastructure change that the adjacent communities do not even want,” said neighborhood representatives from Ashford Park and Brookhaven Fields in a written statement. The mixed-use development would be See RESIDENTS on page 28

taining Black community. “So it may have been separate but equal. You couldn’t have asked for better schools at the time.” The city’s pledge to erect historical signs and provide other support for Lynwood Park, now gentrifying rapidly, came out of discussions about local responses to the protests about racism and police brutality that have rocked the nation since the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in May. Another city initiative is a SoSee LYNWOOD on page 30


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2 | Community ■


City names members of Social Justice, Race and Equity Commission BY BOB PEPALIS

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The City Council approved the first 32 members of its Social Justice, Race and Equity Commission at its Oct. 27 meeting. The city created the commission on Sept. 22 to start a citywide conversation about racial injustice and police brutality. The commission will review public engagement policies for inclusivity and the police department’s use of force policies and accountability. The commission will meet for one year in public meetings. Planning Commission Vice Chair John Funny was appointed chairman of the group. Members will include representatives from the faith, education and business communities, all ages from teens to seniors, and Brookhaven Character Area geographic locations. The commission will review the City’s Vision and Mission Statement and Charter, policies and procedures, public engagement and communication outreach, and the Brookhaven Police Department’s use of force policy, oversight and accountability. Mayor John Ernst thanked the group of volunteers joining the new commission, but said the city still needs more members to fully represent the city. “We still have spots open. We had an overwhelming number of applications. We do need 50,” he said. More applicants from the Latino community are needed to balance representation, he said. To apply, see the city website at The commission members appointed so far include: David Alexander Rene Alvarez Shahrukh Arif Charlene Bowden Davis Burnett Vena Cain Karen Cariello Loven Collins Chris Corces-Zimmerman Amy Corn Jose Hardy Josh Hearshen Jeremiah Hinson Monique Hudson Danita Knight Tywana Minor

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Murphey Candler Baseball is concerned about community center site BY ERIN SCHILLING The city’s proposed location for the new Murphey Candler Park community center may create more parking problems in an already congested area, according to youth sports nonprofit Murphey Candler Baseball and some residents. The community center is one of the projects approved by voters in 2018 during the $40 million parks bond referendum. It is budgeted for $1.25 million and planned to be across from the baseball fields on the west side of the Murphey Candler Park lake, according to a city map of the Murphey Candler Park bond changes. City Councilmember Linley Jones said the city intends to follow the map that was given to voters in 2018. Jim Montembeau, a past president of Murphey Candler Baseball, said the parking lot near the proposed location is overflowing most of the year because of families participating in youth sports leagues. In addition to youth baseball leagues, the park hosts youth football, cheerleading and softball teams. That parking lot has infamous traffic problems, which is one of the reasons the city is reopening a park road on the other side of the lake for people to use as additional parking. But

that move has gotten backlash from residents as well for safety and environmental reasons. “The concern is that it’s going to have additional traffic,” said Montembeau about the community center. “We thought, ‘Well, just move it to the pool.’ That would probably be the easiest thing to do so that there will be more accessibility and availability to people who want to use the community center.” The pool is further down Candler Lake West Road from the proposed location of the community center and has its own parking lot. Other residents have suggested moving the community center to the pool because of similar traffic concerns. “When ball games are happening, that place is always jammed with parking,” Murphey Candler resident Gary Harris said. “But yet the pool parking lot, 200 yards up the street, is always empty.” Jones said that voters approved maps of the park changes in the park bond votes, so the city wants to keep changes as close to what the voters approved as possible. “It’s not going to be moved to the other side of the lake,” Jones said. “It’s not going to be moved to another park. Is it going to be moved a couple of feet this way or that way? Of course it could be, because those are not scale drawings.” The city had a public input process about amenities in the community center, starting with some pop-up events in late 2019 and transitioning to virtual, small-group discussions in July. That process, conducted by CPL consultants, did not give residents the option to suggest a different location for the center. The virtual public input process asked residents to choose amenities, such as multipurpose rooms, a yoga studio and water sports equipment rentals. “It was an assumption it was going to be in that location,” said Montembeau about the virtual public input process. “I think there’s something that we can do to make it work for everyone.” Montembeau said Murphey Candler Baseball usually finds out about city park projects after they’re decided but works well with the city once they start implementing the projects. “I think that it would be better if an entity such as Murphey Candler Baseball — we’re the largest nonprofit in Brookhaven — were part of the initial discussion of these projects, especially if it’s going to affect these leagues,” Montembeau said. CPL will compile the feedback from the public input process to give to the City Council, which will then influence a design concept for the community center. That design needs to be approved before construction can start. City spokesperson Burke Brennan said there is no timeline for that process as of early October.



Community | 5

City pays off all overdue Georgia Power bills for residents, businesses BY JOHN RUCH

The city says it has paid off overdue electric bills of more than 2,500 residents and businesses with over $777,000 in federal pandemic relief funds. The credit was already applied to bills of all Georgia Power customers within the city that were more than 30 days overdue and dated between March and Oct. 16. The 2,446 residential accounts and 110 business accounts were identified without an application process or verification that they were unpaid due to the pandemic’s economic impacts, according to city spokesperson Burke Brennan.


To settle the overdue bills, the city spent $777,616 of its share of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds obtained through DeKalb County. The city received $6.3 million in CARES Acts funds and is spending it on a variety of services and programs. “The CARES Act is dedicated to providing some economic relief to people who have been hit hard by this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor John Ernst in a press release announcing the bill pay-off. “Many people have been financially devastated through a decrease of income or an outright job loss. This is one way we can utilize CARES Act funds to really help those that are in the greatest need.” In the early months of the pandemic, Georgia Power instituted a moratorium on disconnecting power for unpaid bills, but ended that program July 15. Georgia Power continues to provide installment plans to pay off overdue bills.

6 | Community ■

New ‘vulnerable road user’ ordinance aims to protect pedestrians and cyclists BY ERIN SCHILLING

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The City Council on Oct. 13 unanimously passed a “vulnerable road user” ordinance that aims to help pedestrian and cyclist safety, though Councilmember Joe Gebbia worried the penalties for drivers are too stiff. The ordinance outlines safe practices for drivers and pedestrians and increases penalties for drivers who cause an injury to “a vulnerable road user,” which is anyone using the roads who are not in cars, such as walkers, cyclists and skateboarders. It is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2021. In November 2019, Dunwoody became the first municipality in the state to enact a VRU law, said Bruce Hagen, an attorney with Bike Law, a nonprofit that promotes cyclist safety. Part of the goal of VRU ordinances is to increase awareness for driving safety around pedestrians and cyclists, Hagen told the Brookhaven council during an Oct. 4 meeting. Under the ordinance, drivers must yield to pedestrians and other “vulnerable road users” when making a turn and allow at least 3 feet when passing them.


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Cyclists must ride as far to the right side of the road as possible, yield to pedestrians and “give an audible signal” before passing pedestrians. Cyclists must also have a white light in the front of their bike and a red reflector at the back when riding at night. For a driver to be charged under the ordinance, pedestrians must follow all traffic laws and walk on the shoulder or outer edge of the road facing traffic if there’s not a sidewalk. Councilmember Madeleine Simmons, who sponsored the ordinance, said it provides “enhanced protections” for walkers and other vulnerable road users, which she said is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when more people have been walking or biking. A previous version of the ordinance included that pedestrians should wear bright or reflective clothing at night, but Simmons said that requirement “put unnecessary requirements on potential victims.” For the first violation of the ordinance, a driver may be fined up to $500. For a second offense, a driver may be fined up to $1,000 or face six months in jail. Those penalties would be waived if the driver takes a driver safety and pedestrian awareness class. Gebbia said having high penalties “right out of the box” defeats the purpose of the ordinance — to educate drivers about pedestrian and cyclist safety. He proposed taking out the penalties or only having them for habitual violators. “We need to make sure we’re helping to change the behavior with an extended period of warnings before we penalize heavily,” Gebbia said during the meeting. Councilmember Linley Jones said she supports the ordinance with its penalties because by the time a driver violates the ordinance more than once, they may have already caused harm to other people using the roads. The initial fine would be a deterrent for future violations, she said. Simmons said an education campaign for the public and for police officers will happen before and after the ordinance goes into effect, which is also noted in the ordinance. City Attorney Chris Balch said taking out the penalties creates “a code section that is toothless.” “There’s nothing for police officers to enforce,” Balch said in the meeting. The ordinance passed as written, but Gebbia indicated he would like to see it amended at a future date.

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Perimeter Business | 7

Perimeter Business

Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

November 2020 | Pandemic-Era Holidays

For the pandemic holiday, shop local and shop early BY JOHN RUCH

tions due to the uncertainties of supplies and pandemic precautions. “Home for the holidays” will be the theme for shoppers in ways that have pros and cons for local businesses, Bowman said in an email. “Those who shop in-person will visit fewer stores (something we have been seeing in grocery) and travel shorter distances for shopping (which should help small local retailers),” he said. Market surveys predict a small uptick in holiday spending over last year, Bowman said. Households that kept their income intact through the pandemic may now have more spending power due to fewer expenses for commuting, vacations and work lunches. But the spending may still be on the low end. Bowman cited a recent survey by

decrease from last year. The pandemic is hitting the brakes on some recent gift trends, like buying “experiences” such as spa visits and concert tickets, Bowman said. And it may create others, like people buying more gifts for themselves, “especially work-from-home items for those who are finally realizing this is lasting longer than expected.” Home holiday lighting and decorations should see a boost, too. With those trends in mind, here are some gift suggestions from local retailers.

Shop local and shop early. That’s the message from retailers for those fortunate enough to be seeking holiday gifts in a season gone haywire from the COVID-19 pandemic. Buying locally has the obvious benefit of supporting the economy here at home at a time when stores are struggling. Several local retailers offer their gift suggestions below. Shopping early isn’t just about convenience. The pandemic has disrupted wholesaler supply chains, pushed delivHome cooking ery services to their limit, and forced safeThe Atlanta History Center’s museum ty precautions that could mean long lines shop remains open during the pandemand limited access to stores. ic, with many gift items for sale. For hol“As you may have heard, retail stores iday shopping, the museum recommendare a mess this year,” Buckhead’s Kazoo ed a book about home cooking and local Toys warns on its website. “... It’s important for holiday shoppers to be prepared. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping -- you may find nothing but empty store shelves and shipping delays.” Douglas Bowman, a professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, says he wouldn’t be surprised to see Left, “Nathalie Dupree’s Favorite Stories and Recipes” is available at the Atlanta History Center. large malls doing Right, the Toniebox lets kids hear recorded stories without going online and is available from Kazoo Toys. timed-entry ticketing for shoppers as the holidays get closer. He noted that the market research firm Morning Conflavor: “Nathalie Dupree’s Favorite Stories Walmart has set an industry standard by sult showed 24% of consumers expect to and Recipes,” by the renowned Southern spreading the typical Black Friday over spend less than $100 on holiday gifts -- a cuisine chef who ran a restaurant in Sothree dates in November. He also points 5-point increase from last year. Another out that many retailers aren’t saying yet 19% plan to spend over $500 -- a 6-point Continued on page 9 what their plans are for December opera-

A booming business of yard displays is a sign of the times

Stacie Francombe, founder and CEO of Sign Greeters.


BY JOHN RUCH As 2020 dawned and “coronavirus” was just a word in international news briefs, Stacie Francombe was working in the wedding industry, helping to market tuxedos. Now the Sandy Springs resident is wrapping up the year as CEO of her own business, renting celebratory yard signs to pandemic-era partiers, which in a few months has expanded to 11 states. Call it a sign of the times. Or more specifically, Sign Greeters. “Like millions of Americans, I was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic, unfortunately, from my corporateworld job,” Francombe said in a phone interview. In search of a Plan B, she relied on an entrepreneurial background to find a timely opportunity. “I really wanted to do something that was really going to help people like myContinued on page 10

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New businesses in Reporter communities BY JOHN RUCH While the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the local economy and put a hold on traditional ribbon-cutting ceremonies, some new businesses are still opening their doors. The following businesses recently joined the community. C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar, Modera Sandy Springs, 6125 Roswell Road, Suite 700, Sandy Springs. Info: Cubanos ATL, restaurant, 6450 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: Framebridge Buckhead, custom framing, Shops Around Lenox, 3400 Around Lenox Road, Buckhead. Info: Garnet Gal’s Coffee Shop & Bakery, Lenox Village, 2770 Lenox Road, Suite B-4, Buckhead. Info: LAKE Atlanta, clothing, Paces Ferry Plaza, 3519-B Northside Parkway, Buckhead. Info: Weinberg Elder Law, law firm, 10 Glenlake Parkway, Suite 130, Sandy Springs. Info: Yebo Beach Haus, restaurant, relocated to Andrews Square, 56 East Andrews Drive, Buckhead. Info: Celebrating the Sept. 23 ribbon-cutting of Peers Empowering Peers, a recovery services organization at 7770 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, are, from left, Jeff Breedlove of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse; Amanda Ippolito and Emanuel Hargrove of PEP; GCSA Project Director Emily Ribblett; and PEP Executive Director Paul Thompson. Info: SPECIAL


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Perimeter Business | 9

For the pandemic holiday, shop local and shop early Continued from page 7 cial Circle, Ga. “Atlantans especially will love all the local history, people and places that weave its way through her stories that tell how Dupree helped put both Southern foodways and the Atlanta food scene on the map,” says Kate Whitman, the History Center’s vice president of author talks and community engagement. The museum shop is within the Atlanta History Center at 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:

Kids’ stuff One thing that a pandemic won’t change about holiday shopping: Kids still want toys. Kazoo Toys in Buckhead has plenty of recommendations for all ages groups and is offering one-person-at-atime shopping for pandemic safety. A recommendation for ages 8 and up is a gift that could keep on giving: a pottery wheel from Mindware ($84.99), which comes with everything kids need to make their own art objects from clay. For kids ages 3-5, a popular toy is the Toniebox ($99.99), a speaker that plays recorded stories without connecting to the

internet -- thus avoiding any unwanted surprises about adult content or hackers. Kazoo Toys is in the Powers Ferry Square shopping center at 3718 Roswell Road, Buckhead. Info:

Shirts and More in Dunwoody is adding face masks to the collection as well. “Masks are getting customized, and we’ve printed quite a few for the quarantine birthday parties or small gatherings,” says owner Tracey Carothers. Prices vary by type of clothing and design. The store is offering a free printed mask with any customized sweatshirt. Big Frog is located at 1400 Dunwoody Village Parkway. Info:


Spending time with nature is a great alternative to pandemic lockdowns. Buckhead’s Wild Birds Unlimited offers gifts that can bring wildlife a little closer to home. For novice birdwatchers, the store has a “Flying Start Combo”for $14.97, which includes three types of bird food and a free feeder. Wild Birds Unlimited is at 4279 Roswell Road, Buckhead. Info:

◄Home decor

Custom shirts and masks T-shirts and sweatshirts with customized designs have become popular gift items for sharing a child’s artwork or celebrating family unity. Big Frog Custom T-

Home redecoration and renovation have seen a boom as the pandemic has many people staring at their rooms all day. Kudzu and Company, a furnishings shop in Sandy Springs, has items that can serve as individual gifts or be assembled into decor for a room. One set suggested by the store is a Thymes simmered-cider candle ($48), a box of Darling inscribed matches ($4), a silver picture frame ($41) and greenery in a decorative container ($167). Kudzu and Company is located at 6450 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. Info:

10 | Perimeter Business ■

A booming business of yard displays is a sign of the times Continued from page 7


A publicity photo of a Sign Greeters birthday display.

self who had recently been laid off, along with helping people who were stuck at home,” she said. She hit upon the pandemic trend of yard signs, a popular way for people to express themselves in the era of social distancing. Such signs have popped up everywhere, from thank-yous to healthcare workers outside hospitals, to congratulations for Class of 2020 seniors celebrating via car parades, to the “Everything Will Be OK” artist fundraiser based on an iconic Dunwoody mural. The sign business was a fit for Francombe’s background in marketing and events. A former CNN producer and writer, she had started her own production company, then moved into the wedding industry, where she started a national TV show and website for brides. In recent years, she also ran the Maccabi Games sporting event at Dunwoody’s Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. Francombe had a connection in the sign distribution business, and partnered with Ivonne Simon, a corporate recruiter in Coral Springs, Florida and a friend of 28 years. And so was born Sign Greeters, which rents and arranges customized yard-sign displays for holidays, birthdays and other celebrations.



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Francombe and Simon started the business this spring in their respective neighborhoods, working at first by word of mouth. Francombe says the business quickly proved it could meet her original goals: the signs pleased customers and offered work to some people she knew who were laid off or furloughed, like wedding planners and airline flight attendants. But the pair had bigger plans for the business: licensing it to other entrepreneurs nationwide, who get the signs and marketing helping. The Sign Greeters website, with its licensing offer, launched on June 11. As of late October, Francombe said, the company had 44 licensees across the country, including in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. And more were in the process of joining. Sign Greeters lets customers choose from an inventory of signs representing letters of the alphabet and various graphics, which the company staff will set up and arrange to make messages and displays. With longer notice, customers can order graphics from commercial brands -- recent examples include college football team logos and Disney’s “Frozen” movies. Sign packages start at $110, with $75 for each extra night of display. The company has set up signs for birthdays, marriage proposals, and every holiday since June. One customer even ordered a Labor Day sign. Francombe said the socially distanced signs are overlapping with other trends, like the growth in home renovations.

“There’s definitely a boom. Everybody’s yard is decorated right now,” she said. “It’s just like how people are redoing their homes right now… Because we’re stuck at home. We want to make it nice.” The vast majority of customers ask for the signs to be set up facing the street, not their own home. Francombe said she thinks a factor is that people want to take a social-media-worthy souvenir photo of the sign in front of their home. The placement also has the effect of make the sign “speak” to neighbors and passers-by, inviting them to join in the celebration from afar and enjoy the colorful display. “It just puts a big smile on everybody’s face when they see the signs,” said Francombe. And, aside from a stray, grumpy homeowners association, the signs have yet to run afoul of any local signage rules, she said. While it remains to be seen whether the yard-sign trend will outlive the pandemic that inspired it, Francombe is confident that she’s found the way to be her own boss. She figures that yard signs will become a celebratory standard, like greeting cards used to be. “I think I’m done with corporate America,” she said. “...I know this business is going to stand the test of time because the truth of the matter is, nothing is ever really going to go back to normal when it comes to events and celebrations.” For more information about Sign Greeters, see


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Local arts groups get creative to ring in the season during the pandemic BY COLLIN KELLEY

ceeds benefit the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Reservation are required at or by calling (404) 885-7812.

There’s no getting around it: the holidays are going to be different this year due to the pandemic. Many beloved annual events have been cancelled or will go virtual, while others are taking a “wait and see” approach. But don’t despair. There are still events happening to help ring in the season and we’ve rounded up some recommendations for November and beyond to get you in the holiday spirit.

◄Garden Lights, Holiday Nights

This year’s light show at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, presented Nov. 14 through Jan. 16, will provide a far more intimate experience than in years past with limited guest capacity each night of the run. Masks and social distancing will be required so guests can have a worryfree experience. Tickets are selling quickly, so visit to secure your reservation.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra The ASO will be streaming a live tribute to Ravel including Le tombeau de Couperin, Shéhérazade, and Mother Goose Suite on Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. Visit for tickets.

Atlantic Station The annual Light the Station event is set for Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. with the lighting of the giant Christmas tree, fireworks, music and more. The event will be live streamed on 11 Alive. Skate the Station will be open Nov. 16 for socially distanced ice skating. More details at

ry of embracing womanhood, Blackness and the myriad changes of life itself. Visit for more information.

◄Out Front Theatre Company

Radio Play.” Capacity will be limited to allow for distance between cars. General admission tickets start at $50 per car. Also coming up as part of the Alliance Theatre Anywhere streaming platform on Nov. 27 is “A Very Terry Christmas,” as writer and star Terry Burrell visits iconic Atlanta holiday destinations while sharing stories and jazz-inspired versions of favorite holiday songs. Visit for tickets and streaming information.

▲▲Alliance Theatre The pandemic is giving the Alliance Theatre an opportunity to breathe new life into its holiday war horse. From Dec. 4-23, the Summerhill Lot at Georgia State University’s Center Parc Credit Union Stadium will transform into a drive-in theater, with a stage for live actors and big screens providing a live concert-style experience for “A Christmas Carol: The Live BK

Actor’s Express The theater’s Virtual Downstage platform will be streaming a filmed production of Charlayne Woodard’s “Neat” directed by Eric J. Little and starring Charity Purvis Jordan as the one woman show’s title character, Aunt Neat. What begins as a nostalgic personal remembrance blossoms into a magical and compelling sto-

The city’s LGBTQIA+ theatre company will stream two productions during the holiday season. “Bright Colors & Bold Patterns,” written Drew Droege, follows a drunken, drug-fueled party in Palm Springs on the eve of a wedding. It will stream Nov. 20-22. “The Santa Closet” by Jeffrey Solomon contemplates Santa coming out of the closet and diving headlong into the culture wars Dec. 1113. For more information, visit

Indie Craft Experience The annual holiday shopping tradition is going virtual this year with digital sales platform. The digital marketplace will be available via and each craft vendor will be listed with a brief description of what they offer, product images, links to their social media, links to their website and online shop, and information about their live event. Upcoming “Shop in Place” events are set for Nov. 14 and Dec. 5 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Santa at Rhodes Hall The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation will host the annual Santa at Rhodes Hall each weekend from Nov. 29 to Dec. 19. There will be enhanced safety and sanitation protocols due to the pandemic, but kids will still get to spend some quality personal time with Santa. Pro-

▲The Roof at Ponce City Market

Head to the top of Ponce City Market to “Skate the Sky” on 3,500-square-foot ice skating rink, enjoy food and beverages in socially distanced private igloos, and have some Instagrammable moments with the holiday decorations beginning Nov. 27. Visit for details and reservations.

Children’s Christmas Parade The 40th annual parade hosted by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has been cancelled, but there will be a special documentary and a salute to healthcare workers in a program called “A Look Back At 40 Years of the Children’s Christmas Parade,” which will air on WSB-TV on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.

High Museum of Art The High has reopened to patrons, with social distancing in mind, and will close out the year with a big touring exhibition of the work of renowned photographer Dawoud Bey. The show, “Dawoud Bey: An American Project,” will open Dec. 12 and continue through March 14. Bey is known for his powerful images from underrepresented communities and exploring African American history. For tickets and information, visit

14 | Community ■


A Place Where You Belong We are open and ready to welcome you! Stop in for athletic shoes and apparel, the perfect outfit for a fun occasion and beautiful home furnishings and décor! Please check with individual businesses for current operating hours.


Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has named its newest hospital, located in Brookhaven, for Arthur Blank after a $200 million donation from his foundation. The Arthur M. Blank Hospital, a $1.5 billion project located near the I-85 and North Druid Hills Road interchange, is set to open in 2025. The donation from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is the largest in Children’s Healthcare’s history, according to a press release. “It’s a great honor for me and my family to be connected to Children’s, and a great honor for us to be connected to a system that has dealt with research, illness and disease for the most precious commodities that we have in the world, our children,” said Blank, who owns the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, in the press release. The 1.5 million-square-foot hospital will have one 19-story tower with two wings, operating rooms, specialty bed and diagnostic equipment, according to the press release. It will be connected to an 11-story medical office building. It will also be the only Level 1 pediatric trauma center in the state, according to the release. The hospital is part of CHOA’s new 70-acre campus in the city, which will include about 20 acres of green space and multiuse paths. The campus is located across from Emory University’s “health innovation district,” which is currently under construction and will include a hospital, hotel, multifamily housing and medical and office space.


DeKalb County started a new program Oct. 1 that aims to improve ambulance response times and hospital waits by offering advice to non-emergency patients, according to a press release. The Nurse Navigator Program is in partnership with American Medical Response, according to the release. Calls to 911 may be transferred to a “nurse navigator” if the complaint is not life-threatening. The nurse gives the caller a list of healthcare providers near them, such as clinics or urgent care centers, and can also schedule an appointment. The city of Dunwoody has long considered the county’s ambulance response times inadequate and looked into setting up its own emergency medical services in 2018. That same year, the city filed a “Declaration of EMS Emergency” because of “failing emergency service response times and patient care for residents/ businesses and visitors of Dunwoody.” Mayor Lynn Deutsch said in an email she is a “big fan” of the new program and thinks it will help with “response time and resource availability.” The program aims to help better allocate the county Fire Rescue Department resources to provide “timely, appropriate and high-quality patient care,” according to the release. “During our negotiations last year to select an emergency medical transport service, we requested innovative ideas that would improve response times and quality of care,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said in the release. “We believe the Nurse Navigator Program addresses this goal.” AMR said the county’s program is the first of its kind in the state.

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The Brookhaven Police Department has received a total of $108,000 in state grants to improve road safety and reduce car crashes. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety awarded BPD a $47,000 Pedestrian Safety grant and a $59,000 High Visibility Enforcement grant, according to a BPD press release. “The Brookhaven Police Department is proud of our efforts to work collaboratively with our community and to use innovative tools and techniques to ensure that pedestrian and vehicular traffic moves safely through our city,” Police Chief Gary Yandura said in the release. The pedestrian safety grant aims to reduce pedestrian-related crashes in the city through educating people about best road practices, according to the release. BPD has gotten the grant for five years in a row and started a pedestrian safety program in 2017. Through that program, the department has distributed more than 4,000 grant-funded safety items, such as reflective belts and flashing lights, according to the release. The high visibility enforcement grant will provide resources for the department to monitor speeding and tailgating, according to the release. BK


Community | 15

The announcement of the grants comes after the city passed a “vulnerable road user” ordinance, which aims to help pedestrian and cyclist safety through road safety education and increasing penalties for pedestrian-related crashes.

The 8,0000-square-foot center is located at the bottom floor of the Wooldridge Center on the school’s campus at 3790 Ashford-Dunwoody Road. The center includes resources for robotics; engineering; 3D printing and design; virtual and augmented reality; immersive media; podcasting; broadcasting; documentary filmmaking; and music technology, according to the website. The school also added a 5,700-square-foot, two-story addition to the building with a new admissions office, classrooms, collaborative spaces and a student exhibit gallery, according to the press release. In March, the City Council changed its zoning approval process to speed up certain kinds of projects, a move triggered by the school’s plan. Officials said at the time that the change saved the school three months of planning and review for the additions. The new process allows the director of the Community Development department, rather than the council, to approve “technical” changes to zoning conditions that do not “involve significant public interest,” in the city’s legal language. While the decision in such cases would be made internally without a public meeting, there is a public notice and comment requirement in the code language. A sign about the modification request must be posted on the property at least 10 days before applying. Members of the public can submit written comments up to 15 days after the notice is posted. Like other zoning decisions by the city, the community development director’s approval could be appealed in DeKalb County Superior Court.


The Marist School’s new campus technology center in Brookhaven opened at the beginning of the school year. Construction on the Goizueta Center for Immersive Experience and Design began in the spring after the city loosened restrictions on zoning approvals to speed the project’s approval. The goal of the center is to help students learn empathy and make a positive impact through service, according to the school’s website. The center is part of the school’s “STEAM 2.0” program, which combines its Global and Humane Studies program with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). Marist has a $2 million grant from the Goizeuta Foundation for STEAM 2.0. Marist is a private Catholic school. President Bill Rowland said in a press release that the center “provides our students with new tools with which to serve the world in the name of Christ.” An illustration of Marist School’s Woolridge Center after the renovation for the Center for Immersive Studies and Design. (Special)

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Feeling thankful in a challenging holiday season Thanksgiving 2020 will be like no other in recent memory. How to celebrate is a question that weigh heavily in the midst of a pandemic that continues to take lives and livelihoods. The Reporter asked some local leaders how they will gather and what they feel thankful for.


President and CEO, Buckhead Christian Ministry This year, Thanksgiving is going to be different. Our family will visit relatives in Virginia, but we are still working out the details of how to serve the dinner, whether or how older and more at-risk relatives will attend, and what social distancing will look like with smaller children who have not been around each other at all during the pandemic. We are a faithful family, so no matter what we will be giving thanks to God for all our blessings in the face of all the uncertainty. At BCM, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church will once again sponsor Thanksgiving for 50 BCM families. This is a bright spot our community should celebrate during these trying times. I think we all need a moment to just pause and give thanks, even for the smallest measures of providence in our lives. A spirit of gratefulness will go a long way in getting us through this thing, together.


Rector, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church

In a year of discomfort and confusion, I find gratitude is the best way to engage the world. While I am an extrovert by nature and a traveler at heart, I have found that this season of life has invited me into being grateful for the presence of God is the smallest of ways -- spaces where I can be in such a hurry that I cannot or will not pause to take in the won-

der. I can grouse about washing dishes or say a silent prayer of gratitude for the food prepared and eaten, for the fellowship in eating, and the task of cleaning up. I can hurriedly open the computer for the next Zoom meeting or take a moment to give thanks that I can see and engage with people who are equally frustrated with distance learning and conversations. I can lament the thousands of ways we are separate or delight in the phone calls and the old but trusted system of mailing notes and letters. The cultivation of gratitude is not meant to ignore the deep wounds of hurt and loss during COVID. Mourning and grieving are important aspects of our lives and our faiths. And this season has featured countless losses, of jobs and connections and even lives. In some ways, grief is a different type of gratitude -- a yearning for something for which we were deeply grateful. We don’t tend to miss the things we dislike. Being grateful is not a simple cheerful view of the world. To truly be thankful is to recognize the gifts that we have, and some that we have lost are profound gifts. The work is not to take inventory of how great things are. The practice is to be thankful in such a way that we can open our hearts to give and receive on a deeper level.

ADRIENNE DUNCAN President, Dunwoody Homeowners Association

All of our family is out-of-state, so in our home, Thanksgiving is a time for the five of us to wind down and spend some quiet and peaceful time with each other without tight schedules and overlapping activities. 2020 is a challenge for us just like everyone else. Regular jobs with their medical insurance were lost, so we turned to consulting to make ends meet. At the same time, our youngest child faced a major medical diagnosis whose treat-

ment would not be covered by insurance or the Affordable Care Act. Through it all, we were able to make all of our bills and pay for some intensive medical care for our son. At times like this, we are very grateful to keep our family’s head above water and ensure our children have what they need.

REV. ALLEN JACKSON Senior Pastor, Dunwoody Baptist Church

I am aware of all of the memes that rightfully declare with much wit and wisdom that 2020 is a year like no other. It is true that a global pandemic has brought sickness to many, unwanted transition to some, and anxiety to all. As a pastor, I feel the pain with each email, phone call, text or personal conversation. I hurt as well for the anger and incivility that permeate our public dialogue in an election year. I will likely gather with my family here in Dunwoody for Thanksgiving, though we will be careful and keep it low-key. And I am thankful. I am thankful for my bride of 37 years, my children and my grandson. I am thankful to have come through a heart scare, thankful for the doctors at Emory Saint Joseph’s (and every person at every other medical facility). I am thankful for a community like Dunwoody, and thankful for my faith family at Dunwoody Baptist. I am grateful for the ability to livestream worship services into the homes of our folks as well as homes in many other states and even countries. I am grateful to live in freedom, ever mindful of those who paid for it through military and public service. I am grateful that I am able to worship a God who is over all and who paid for spiritual freedom by sending His son Jesus to give peace in the midst of pandemic -- and everything else. BK


Commentary | 17

The exhausted state of the pandemic’s front-line healthcare workers


Being a hospital medicine physician ter yearly. It’s true that we are better at and leader, I am accustomed to chaos and treating COVID-19, and are much more orworking through daily challenges in a hosganized to navigate another surge during pital environment. As stressful as it is, I this pandemic. But the difference now is thrive on solving and troubleshooting isit does not feel exhilarating or exciting. Insues. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought stead, it’s a challenge and a strenuous upa whole new level of challenges and stress, hill battle. and it initially was exhilarating. Members of the healthcare teams, inAt the beginning, including physicians, nurses, formation was constantly respiratory therapists and changing as we were learnothers are exhausted. The ing and adapting to this new duties of caring for non-COdisease process. It brought VID patients has returned the worst of fears to most of back to baseline, which alus. But, at the same time, it ready is busy and chaotic. felt thrilling as I was part of But these duties are further a historic pandemic by leadchallenged with an entirely ing and caring for patients. changed hospital environThe excitement was fueled ment, and having to conby the constant change of sider all aspects of care in information. During those relation to COVID. It has first few weeks, it was trucompletely misshapen the ly mind-blowing seeing how human and patient expefast the daily number of COrience in medicine. There VID cases were increasing. is nostalgia thinking back Dr. Dhaval Desai is a As a clinician directly caring eight months ago to the practicing hospitalist and for patients, I felt constant“pre-COVID” days when carmedical director of hospital ly stimulated from the latest ing for a hospitalized pamedicine at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. He is on clinical guideline or developtient was much more open Twitter as @DrDesaiMDx. ment on how to best care for and welcoming. Now, it’s a a COVID-19 patient. closed, isolated, and a more During that first phase, I did not feel demanding environment. that there was an “off button” to escape the On top of the internal challenges, the pandemic. Once home, I would be glued politics and divide in the country cause to my phone or computer, addressing the more unrest. We are constantly seeing conlatest challenge, communicating with coltroversy on masking, and how some are beleagues, and handling acute situations ing dismissive towards small behaviors to that arose. On top of that, I had a newprotect themselves and each other. Fundaborn and4-year-old at home. My wife and mentally, masking is the only major stratI constantly questioned if we were doing egy we have to mitigate the spread of COthe best to protect our children, and each VID-19. And ultimately, the healthcare other. I felt tired, but reassured myself that system is going to be plagued with COVwe were part of history in the making. BeID-19 if cases keep rising, which is so mading a frontline physician and leader during dening and frustrating, as we have a degree a pandemic felt like a once-in-a-career opof control on this. portunity. In a way, it felt like a privilege. It’s clear to me now that the first six Weeks into the pandemic, across the months of the pandemic were adrenalinecountry, there were celebrations and confueled. And while the support for healthstant inspiration for healthcare workers. care workers is largely still present, the There were meals delivered to the hospiadrenaline that was first felt has waned. tal, letters and posters sent showing supThe same feelings of fatigue and frustraport. We were deemed heroes, and it was tion experienced by most during the panflattering and inspiring. The communidemic are shared by healthcare workty and country were constantly cheering ers. Outside of the medical environment, for healthcare workers on the front lines. healthcare workers face the same chalThis support was palpable, and lifted us lenges on the social and psycho-social front through the darker days of the pandemic in their home lives, including virtual learnthrough two major surges. It continued to ing for children, social isolation, and stayfuel our adrenaline to fight this disease. ing well during a pandemic. They are no Months passed in the pandemic, and afdifferent. And, while I continue to strive to ter getting through a second surge, it felt give each patient the best care I can while like the worst was over. While there was partnering with a multidisciplinary team constant advocacy to protect ourselves and other physicians, I also recognize that and each other, life was trying to get back it’s more challenging than ever. to normal (a new normal). The chaos was With the projected increase in cases of starting to subside, and maybe we had just COVID-19 during the upcoming months, adapted to functioning in a pandemic. For there has to fundamentally be a message a few weeks, it felt as if it were the end of to protect ourselves and each other by the commotion caused by COVID-19. But, masking, socially distancing and following the harsh reality was that it was the end of community guidelines. We still have time the beginning. to make the reality far better than the grim As we enter the fall season, we are proprojections. And, if we do that, we are not jected to have a grim few months with COonly helping ourselves, but also will relieve VID-19 cases surging on top of the already a huge impending burden on the healthhigh number of patients we see in the wincare system and its workers.

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Sorry, word processor, you’re just not my type Did you ever wonder how Shakespeare did it all without the help of a word processor? I can’t even write an email without drafting it and redrafting it 12 times. Then again, maybe Shakespeare had more time to write because he didn’t need to waste so much of it rebooting his laptop. But consider all the things he did without: the cut and paste, the thesaurus, the spellcheck, the handy tab of CliffsNotes at the ready. That’s a lot of brilliance flowing freely without the aid of helpful tools, plus he had to come up with plots and jokes and make the words rhyme, and do most of it in iambic pentameter. It’s astonishing to think about. He also did it all without the backspace key, but maybe striking through an unwanted phrase with an inked quill takes less time; I don’t know. What I do know is that I, for one, spend an inordinate amount of time at the backspace key. I’ve spent more time with the backspace key than I have with my husband. The problem is, I really can’t type. I could have added five years to my life if I had typed the thing correctly the first time. There’s always a scene in a suspense action film where someone has to break into the control center room and hack into a random computer. The hacking part does not impress me — computer hackers are a dime a dozRobin Conte lives with her en. What always blows my mind, what flattens my sushusband in an empty nest pension of disbelief, is when said sleuth starts clacking in Dunwoody. To contact all over the keyboard with no problem. Who can adapt her or to buy her column so effortlessly to an unknown keyboard? I mean, I’ve had collection, “The Best of the a new laptop for three months now, and I still can’t type Nest,” see the words “thank you.” Auto-correct will eventually put me out of my misery. I can’t type my own name, either. It always comes out “Roibn.” I have the same problem with “y9ou” and “belive.” My mother loved to brag on me during my high school years but was sufficiently humbled when she met my typing teacher. For most people, typing was an easy course, but if I could have taken it pass-fail, I would have. Maybe it’s a matter of hand-eye coordination (even though you’re not supposed to be looking at the keyboard anyway) but I do think coordination must have a role to play. I wasn’t good at dodgeball either. Then I graduated and moved away to a campus of higher learning, with nothing but a footlocker of clothes, my lousy typing skills, and my brand-spanking-new electric typewriter. It’s still in the house, crammed beneath the bed in the basement. It was a top-of-the-line Corona, the color of sleek tan, and (I know I’m dating myself here), it was the gift de rigueur for college-bound students back in the day. Half of you out there are snickering and half of you are nodding your heads. The thing that made it revolutionary was the Correct-O cartridge, which was a groundbreaking advancement for me over the bottle of Wite-Out. Somehow, I slogged through four years clanking away with that and its redemptive cartridge, embroiled in a love-hate relationship with its ultra-sensitive electric keys, but the thing about it is, it never asked me a question I couldn’t answer. It never blanked out on me and started updating, unprompted, with the promise of it taking only 57 minutes…56, 55, 54… It never bossed me around. It never changed my security questions, pretending all the while that it had not. It never hid my files or shut down without saving my documents. It never asked me to spend $250 on an updated office program, threatening to take all my work hostage if I didn’t. It never suddenly and completely without warning converted to dark theme/white type mode, requiring me to spend 30 minutes in anguished attempt to undo it until I finally spent another 45 minutes at the mercy of tech support. I could go on, but I’ll stop myself there. I am indeed grateful for the advances of modern technology. Besides, methinks I doth protest too much.

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Commentary | 19

Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at

In Buckhead, a hard worker follows the path from jail to a second chance

These days, the most popular person on tions that will. One of its ing other Georgia Everyday for 30 days, he went to group Buckhead’s PATH400 greenway seems to most important partners, Works clients astherapy, took classes and met with Al. He be Walter Dixon, the new community prothe Buckhead CID, hires signed to the CID. also joined Narcotics Anonymous to deal grams coordinator for the Buckhead Comits clients to pick up lit“It was evident with his alcoholism. munity Improvement District. ter along major corridors to everybody he’s “I had to change my thought patterns, People along the path say he knows within the CID, including a special man,” do something positive instead of somethe name of every dog-owner and dog he the PATH400. said Buckhead thing negative, do what’s right even when Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who livesmen on theusually Dunwoodymeets. The work CID Executive Dinobody’s watching,” he said. Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire “We first met Walter in March, when in pairs, often with minrector Jim DurDixon readily owns his mistakes. others. Contact her at my dog Lou was a puppy and we had just imal supervision. Dixon rett. “His attitude “I got sick and tired of being sick and begun walking the PATH400,” says resistarted working for the and personality tired and learned to live a new and betdent Jackie Greene. “Walter always stopped Buckhead CID under the convinced us to ter life,” he said. “That’s when good things to say hello, and Lou got used to seeing him Georgia Works program keep using Georstarted happening.” every day. She can spot him from far away in early 2020 and soon gia Works and Despite his celebrity, he keeps his ego in and starts tugging on the leash to get to stood out. ultimately offer check and even seems a bit surprised at his him.” “Walter’s the hardhim a full-time success. “My dog Scarlett knows Walter too,” est worker I’ve ever met,” job.” “People living in huge homes say I insaid Stephanie Midkiff, “and loves to see said Al Sims, Dixon’s case Dixon credits spire them, and I don’t have nothing but him.” manager. “We needed a his faith, Georgia what I have in that little dormitory.” But dogs aren’t the only ones who like leader to take ownership Works and Al, his And about Jim Durrett, the man who Walter. of that site. We had alhired him? SPECIAL case manager, for Walter Dixon pauses in his PATH400 “I look forward to seeing him and catchready rotated several peohis success. “A great guy. He gave me a second work to say hello to Lou, who, along ing up each day,” said Greene. ple out trying to find the “Al kept tellchance.” with owner Jackie Greene, has gotten Walter’s new boss, Matt Gore, the Buckright person.” ing me to let my Georgia Works is supported entirely by to know him in recent months. head CID’s projects and programs managDixon was that perego die,” said Dixcorporate and private donations. To donate er, says he hears such comments frequentson. He immediately on. “I prayed and money, clothing or toiletries, go to georgialy. went beyond just litter pick-up to noticing prayed and finally had to admit I had a “Walter is a really kind-hearted human things like a handrail needing to be painted, problem causing my life to be unmanagebeing,” said Gore. “He always represents doing the painting, and advising and guidable.” the CID well.” What most of Walter’s fans don’t know is that a year ago, he was homeless and just released from stints at the Clayton and Fulton county jails after pleading guilty to simple battery and criminal damage to property, which violated a prior probation for assault and battery. He got the job through a program called Georgia Works. “I heard about Georgia Works in jail,” said Dixon in a recent interview. “The day I got out, I went straight there.” “There” is the Gateway Center in Downtown Atlanta, where Georgia Works occupies the second floor. But even though he thought Dixon was “clean and sober,” he flunked the required 12-panel substance test that picks up even the tiniest amount of a banned substance. A person who tests positive for even one fails. That was a cold Thursday in November. He could try again the following Monday. “I spent the next four nights out in the cold,” said Walter. “I never want to drink again.” If it helps pets thrive, HEALTHY NATURAL PET EXPERTLY SAME DAY On that Monday, he passed the test and you’ll find it at PetPeople. FOOD & TREATS PRODUCTS TRAINED STAFF DELIVERY entered the program. At Georgia Works, homeless men who are substance-free and willing to face their addictions, criminal past and other factors DUNWOODY BUCKHEAD SANDY SPRINGS that led to their homelessness get a second 5556 Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd. 2349 Peachtree Rd. NE 4920 Roswell Rd. chance -- a chance at a job, their ticket out Dunwoody, GA 30338 Atlanta, GA 30305 Atlanta, GA 30342 of homelessness. (678) 353-6660 (678) 949-9347 (404) 500-2653 The program provides them with a bed, Grooming + SPAW Dog Wash! SPAW Dog Wash! SPAW Dog Wash! food, help dealing with their issues and a case manager to guide them. For the first 30 days, they take classes and receive theraIN-STORE OR ONLINE PURCHASE py for everything from anger management Online use code ATLANTA to addiction to become job-ready. OFF Coupon must be presented at time of sale. Cannot be used Since few employers hire people copwith any other discount or promo. USE RPRO# 17371 ing with addiction or convicted felons, Georgia Works contracts with organiza-

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20 | Commentary ■

Around Town

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

It’s been 15 years since Sandy Springs Mayor-to-be Eva Galambos launched a new age of “let’s get small” political thinking in the sprawling Atlanta suburbs. Things have changed a bit since then, of course. Inspired by Sandy Springs’ incorporation in 2005, more “new cities” roared to life as their voters became convinced that governments that were smaller and closer-to-the-ground had to be better than the ones running counties that were as populous as major cities. Now “new cities” carpet north Fulton and DeKalb and western Gwinnett counties wall-to-wall in a crazy-quilt pattern of interlocking towns. Last month, a few planners from new cities gathered at a wood-paneled Dunwoody steakhouse to talk about whether they should give more attention to what’s going on in the communities around them. Bob Dallas, chair of the Dunwoody Planning Commission, called the meeting. Conversations about regional issues often have been hard to launch in the metro Atlanta suburbs. This informal meeting was no different. Of the dozen city officials Dallas invited to meet for dinner, only three -- Dallas and Mark Willis and Alan Kaplan, planning commissioners from Peachtree Corners – showed up that night. But a couple of hours of wideranging discussion convinced them they should meet again. They figure the others will join them eventually. As Dallas sees it, they’ll have to. There have been efforts at cooperation among the cities in the past – the 911 service, for instance – but Dallas argues that planners and elected officials in these cheek-by-jowl communities regularly confront various trou-


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Planning for a bigger, booming suburbia


From left, Peachtree Corners Planning Commissioner Mark Willis, Dunwoody Planning Commission Chair Bob Dallas and Peachtree Corners Planning Commission Chair Alan Kaplan met at a Dunwoody steakhouse in the first of a series of proposed discussions of regional issues.

bles that cross city lines. Think traffic and transit. Then again, there are projects the leaders of these cities want to pursue that work best when they link together. Think trails or development at the corners where cities meet. “You ain’t an island,” Dallas said. Instead, he argues, one city’s planners should know how the city-next-door plans to deal with an issue or a project. So should planners in the city-next-door-to-that. And the next one down the line. As they have grown, several of the new cities have developed their own personalities of sorts. Peachtree Corners bills itself as High Tech Town with fiber optics and a city test track for driverless vehicles. Sandy Springs is building itself a shiny new downtown at what was once a country crossroads. Chamblee has grown up into what some declare to be a hip place to live. Changes among the towns are readily apparent. “Dunwoody hasn’t changed all that much,” Dallas told the other planning commissioners at their meeting, “but with Chamblee, you can’t recognize what it was 20 or 25 years ago.” Big projects now underway -- the nest of serpentine lanes that will carry cars through the multi-level intersection of I-285 and Ga. 400, or the construction of connected strolling/hiking/biking trails that eventually should allow cyclists to roll through city after city without stopping — are knitting the communities together even more. And, of course, there’s a pandemic to deal with. Dallas argues that the communities’ planning leadership needs to at least stay in touch about how things are going. He’s proposing city planners gather regularly to chew over regional issues at restaurants and other gathering spots throughout the area. “Periodically, we will continue to reach out to each other,” he said. “This is an open-ended discussion.” And city officials don’t always agree on how the area should change as it continues to grow. What Brookhaven and Chamblee officials want south of I-285 may not match what Dunwoody folks want north of the Perimeter and vice versa. The same is true of other places where cities are separated only by a few lanes of pavement. The Perimeter area is expected to continue to grow in coming years, but one community’s development opportunity may sit alongside an adjacent town’s settled subdivisions, a mix that can give heartburn to residents and elected officials alike. After all, many Dunwoody voters decided to create their city as a way to slow or stop the construction of new apartments in their community. But more people are moving to the metro area each year -- apparently, whether you build places for them or not, they still will come -- and developers often want to include multi-family living in new projects. “During the Great Recession,” Dallas said, “you heard people saying, ‘Suburbia is dead.’ Suburbia isn’t dead. It’s going to be here. …. How do we manage that growth?” Now that the map of Suburbia has been redrawn, is it time to start thinking a bit bigger again? BK


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22 | Community ■

Brookhaven woman died due to hotel’s negligence, daughter claims in lawsuit BY ERIN SCHILLING The 2018 death of a Brookhaven woman found with a maggot-infested wound in a local hotel was due to the staff’s negligence, her daughter claims in a recently filed wrongful-death lawsuit. Natalie Burson filed the lawsuit Oct. 1 in the state court of DeKalb County against Residence Inn by Marriott, the temporary housing company ALE Solutions, and hotel management company Aimbridge Hospitality. Residence Inn and Aimbridge Hospitality did not respond to requests for comment. Burson alleges that the hotel staff at the Residence Inn Atlanta at 2220 Lake Boulevard, near the Buckhead border in Lenox Park, neglected to check on her 70-year-old mother Joanne Burson despite Natalie repeatedly asking them. That neglect led to her mother’s death, the lawsuit claims. Natalie and Joanne Burson lived together but were moved out of their house and into separate temporary housing by ALE Solutions via their insurance company because of home repairs, according to the lawsuit. Joanne Burson was in the hotel for eight months before her death. SPECIAL Tony Frank, an attorney for ALE SoluJoanne Burson. tions, said in an email the company “does not manage, own, or have any influence or control over the day-to-day operation of the hotels our clients choose.” “She thought her mother was part of this family, that the people who worked there cared for her, said attorney Lloyd Bell, who is representing Natalie Burson. “Natalie still believes that, but she believes the hotel has put down a wall of silence to try to avoid responsibility, and that’s what really infuriates her.”

The lawsuit says that Joanne Burson became acquainted with staff members, who would help walk her dog and bring food to her room. In late September 2018, Natalie Burson tried to check in with her mother over the phone but could not reach her. She called the hotel to check on her mother, and allegedly was told she was “fine and well.” Burson was not able to get in contact with her mother for days, according to the lawsuit, and the hotel staff allegedly would not let her go see her mother. After Burson threatened to call the police to be able to see her mother, she got a call from ALE Solutions telling her that her mother had fallen and was being taken to Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital, according to the lawsuit. Joanne Burson was unresponsive at the hospital and had a wound on her hip that was infested with maggots, according to the lawsuit. A doctor told Natalie Burson that her mother “must have been left lying on the floor for days,” according to the lawsuit. Joanne Burson died Oct. 4, 2018. “Natalie is a very strong woman,” Bell said. “She would describe herself as a tough New Yorker, as her mother was, but she’s just been traumatized by this. She was very close to her mother.” The hotel would not give Natalie Burson a copy of the ambulance’s incident report, the lawsuit alleges. When Burson went to her mother’s old room, the room “was infested with bugs, flies, worms, maggots and dog feces,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges negligence by the hotel for not cleaning Joanne Burson’s room or checking on her, and fraud for telling Natalie Burson that her mother was doing well. It also alleges negligence against ALE Solutions for placing the mother and daughter in different temporary housing. “The Residence Inn staff violated multiple duties, and those violations caused Joanne Burson to lie injured and stranded in her room, as a wound developed, as vermin ate her flesh, as infections went without medical treatment, and as she went into the septic shock that ultimately killed her,” the lawsuit says. Bell said the lawsuit was filed at the beginning of October because the two-year statute of limitations was almost up. The defendants have 30 days to answer the lawsuit, Bell said.



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BY ERIC DAVIDSON Record Store Day began in 2007 as a grassroots idea from a few record store owners to highlight the realization that they and a lot of their friends still bought vinyl albums. Like, a lot. By last year, vinyl outsold CDs for the first time since 1986. Record Store Day -- with its limited-edition rarity reissues and expanded versions -- skipped along parallel to the “Vinyl is Back!” trend of the last 10 years, as Urban Outfitters and even Walmart started stocking new $25 Taylor Swift albums and $35 Led Zeppelin reissues. Record Store Day – a day in April and on Black Friday – has helped keep interest in records going, and many indie stores will exclaim that it’s their biggest shopping day of the year. The argument of whether it has translated into those RSD newbies coming back to shop on other days is debatable. But around the country, many small, Mom-and-Pop record shops have opened in the last few years. Even Jack White’s Third Man Records label opened a record pressing plant in Detroit a few years ago with three machines in use. And like the few other record plants left in the world, they are a year behind on orders. Will this last? The many great record shops of our area sure hope so. We checked in with Mark Gunter, manager of one of the longest-running and most respected regional shops, Buckhead’s Fantasyland Records, to get his thoughts on Record Store Day, and to see how it’s doing in the face of the anti-Mom-and-Pop shop reality of COVID. For details about Record Store Day’s Black Friday edition on Nov. 27, see And for more about Fantasyland, see fantasylandrecords. com.


How long have you been involved with Record Store Day? We’ve been taking part in Record Store Day since 2010. It’s a lot of work, but people love it. It’s a cool, fun event, and a great promotion for indie record stores. They come up with some great limited edition releases each year. ... Most people enjoy it and have a great time -- even the standing in line! People enjoy meeting and making new friends with fellow vinyl lovers. As for our store, the April RSD is always our biggest sales day of the year, and the Black Friday event is always a good day.

This year, the usual twoday RSD schedule was thrown into chaos, right? Yeah, this year’s April RSD was postponed due to COVID. They decided to stagger the releases on three separate Saturdays, at the end of August, September and October, to keep the crowds down a bit. We weren’t sure how it was going to work out, or even if anyone was going to show up for it. But we were blown away by the turnout for part one in August. Part two was equally successful, as was last Saturday’s [Oct. 24]! It’s worked out well. Everyone masked up and social-distanced. We do it all instore. No online sales. First come, first served. No holds. One per person, per title. The usual RSD rules.

Are there any regional releases coming for Black Friday RSD that you’re really excited about? Ed Roland of Collective Soul put together a new band during the early days of COVID shutdown called The Living Room. They wrote and recorded songs in their living room that have a ’70s New Wave kind of sound inspired by bands like Roxy Music, the Cars and ELO. So that should be really cool!

Give us a quick history of Fantasyland Records. Fantasyland Records was opened in 1976 by Andy Folio, who still owns the shop. The original location was [on Peachtree Road] in the old strip that contained Garden Hills Cinema, and where Fellini’s Pizza is still located. We moved to our current location at 360 Pharr Road in Buckhead in 2010. I began working part-time at the store in 1979, became manager in 1983. We sell new and used vinyl, plus used CDs and cassettes in every genre that exists. Also, cool posters and other music-related memorabilia. These days, vinyl is around 90% of our sales. Teenagers and 20-somethings have rediscovered cassettes, like they have vinyl records.

Speaking of the pandemic, how is Fantasyland holding up? Our store was closed from midMarch to mid-May. We did a little curbside business while we were closed. Since we reopened, business has been better than ever, actually. We’ve been open for in-store shopping, the same as usual. And we thank each and every one of our wonderful customers/ friends for that! I think the future continues to look very bright for indie record stores!

So you would say that the ’Vinyl is Back!’ trend may not be a trend? Yeah, vinyl is definitely back. Sales

are increasing each year. Although for indie record stores, it never really went away, there are just a lot more new young people who’ve entered the vinyl world in the last 10 years or so. Plus, the pressing of new vinyl has exploded.


The cover of The Living Room’s special album for Record Store Day’s Black Friday edition.

24 | Art & Entertainment ■

Looking up! Seeing the beauty of the night sky Say the idea of looking at the mountains, craters and shadows of the Moon gets your interest. Perhaps a distant and colorful nebula inspires awe and wonder. Or maybe the prospect of checking out Saturn and its rings hanging like a jewel in space gives you goosebumps. You just might be a future amateur astronomer. Several observatories in Georgia, most of them associated with academic institutions, offer observation and research opportunities for students and others seeking astronomical knowledge and almost all throw open the doors to the public during non-pandemic times. A healthy number of amateurs are increasingly taking up astronomy as a hobby, sometimes spending thousands of dollars on gear. The and Middle Georgia Astronomical Society websites together list nearly a dozen sky-scanning clubs in the state Experts caution that budding cosmologists will need a healthy dollop of patience and advance planning as well. But the rewards for being deliberate are spectacular. “The most common reaction is, ‘Wow!’” said David Dundee, a genial astronomer who presides over the 20-inch telescope and observatory at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, along with its associated planetarium. The ob-

servatory has opened with social distancing and safety measures during the pandemic, unlike most others. Their 120-seat planetarium also is open on a limited basis for sky shows. “The most important thing is the ability of a person to come here and put their eye to the telescope and say ‘I can see the rings of Saturn or ‘I am looking up at the Orion nebula,’ “ Dundee said. “To me that’s so much better than being at home and punching buttons and up come pictures.” He said the most popular viewing targets are the Moon, Mars and Saturn, as well as Orion and other nebulae, which are giant gas and dust clouds far away in space. The Andromeda galaxy, star clusters and lunar and solar eclipses also find favor. “You can call them the greatest hits of space,” he said with a grin. Tellus volunteer, amateur astronomer and retired chemist Bob Gossman said his interest in the heavens flickered to life while viewing astronaut Ed White’s groundbreaking Gemini 4 spacewalk in 1965. “I excitedly woke my parents and they told me to go back to bed,” he recalled and told of a similar, much more recent epiphany. During a public program one night he coaxed a frazzled mother riding herd on her kids into taking a look through the


Astronomer David Dundee looks after the observatory and planetarium at the Tellus Observatory.

eyepiece. Saturn and its rings held center stage. When she looked herself, she was so surprised by what she saw that she yelled an obscenity, Dundee recalled. Then she was embarrassed because she had blurted the words in front of her kids. “I asked her to describe what she was seeing,” he said, “and her voice began cracking. She was tearing up.” The modest masonry, brick and steel-

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girder observatory at Tellus has a 20-inch telescope that looks a bit like a planetary probe. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dundee said, the domed building about 10,000 visitors a year. This year is different, he said, because the observatory was shut down for weeks. He says “this is a big date night location.” Recently a group of teenagers celebrating a birthday showed up. During public nights, smaller telescopes set up near the observatory and volunteers with laser pointers spotlight highlights of the heavens. The Tellus telescope is a 20-inch reflector utilizing mirrors. Refracting telescopes, by contrast, use lenses. Each has advantages and disadvantages, said Gossman. A refracting telescope is typically cheaper and a bit brighter, while a reflecting device can gather more light with a more compact design. Dundee said novices might think magnification is most crucial, “but the name of the game in astronomy is aperture. The bigger the telescope, the more light it can gather up and the fainter the objects you can see.” Those who are newly interested in the Moon, planets and stars can start out in a more uncomplicated way. “Astronomy is like most hobbies,” said Dr. Greg Feiden, assistant astronomy professor at the University of North Georgia and the director of its observatory, which recently was rebuilt and which uses 24inch and 28-inch telescopes. “You can spend as much or as little as you want on equipment. It can be completely free as you walk out and take a look at the night sky.” An inexpensive star chart can make sense of the constellations. For somewhat more, a pair of sturdy binoculars costing less than $100 can bring the brighter celestial objects into view, astronomers said. For those doing their own viewing, patience pays off, Gossman stressed. He advises taking time to let your eyes adjust and utilizing peripheral vision to spot additional objects like planetary Moons. He advises people with home gear to


adjust their “finderscopes,” an aiming device, and align them with the main telescopes during the day. After dark, he noted, getting one’s celestial bearings can take a while even with advance planning and fancier computer-controlled systems. Increasing light pollution and Georgia’s typical summertime heat and humidity pose issues. Dundee said such pollution has increased greatly in recent years as metro Atlanta has surged northward. Georgia State University’s Dr. Sebastien Lepine, who chairs the physics and astronomy department, said the school’s observatory at Hard Labor Creek likewise grapples with the issue. He suggests getting at least 30 to 50 miles away from downtown Atlanta for better views, or perhaps climbing Stone Mountain. Likewise, he said, spotting the bands of the Milky Way are a well-outside-the-city experience. C








Places where you can observe the night sky The Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville is open for public viewings with safety and social distancing requirements in place. Their planetarium is also open on a limited basis. Their planetarium is also open on a limited basis. Here are some other places in north Georgia where you often can find public events that allow you to study the night sky. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many now are closed to the public, but say they plan to reopen. Check their webpages for more up-to-date information. The University of Georgia observatory in Athens is closed and no date has been set for a reopening. The University of North Georgia astronomical observatory in Dahlonega is listed as closed due to its transition into a new facility as well as COVID-19 concerns and aims for to re-open in early 2021. Georgia State University’s Hard Labor Creek observatory east of Atlanta has eliminated open houses until further notice due to COVID-19. The same applies to the observatory on their Dunwoody campus. Bradley Observatory at Agnes Scott College in Decatur is closed until further notice. The Ralph Buice Jr. Observatory at Fernbank Science Center in DeKalb County is closed and aims to reopening for viewing opportunities around the first of the year. — Mark Woolsey




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Mapping Atlanta’s Murals

Atlanta Street Art Map celebrates documentation of 1,000th mural BY COLLIN KELLEY The convergence of retirement, a trip to New York City, and Instagram led Art Ruddick down an art-filled rabbit hole and the creation of a website to track Atlanta’s many murals. Ruddick’s Atlanta Street Art Map ( has become a go-to site for finding Intown’s colorful wall art, as well as acting as an archive since so many of the murals disappear over time – either covered by graffiti or replaced with something new. Ruddick retired at the end of 2016 after a 32-year career with Coca-Cola. Shortly thereafter, he and his wife took a trip to New York to visit his niece. Before a street art walking tour of the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn, Ruddick’s niece suggested he download Instagram to his cell phone. “I was fascinated with the street art in Bushwick and started looking for more of it when I got back to Atlanta,” Ruddick said. “I thought my Instagram account would be perfect for street art content.” Beyond the visible and well-known murals in the city, Ruddick had no idea where to start looking for more. “I looked online and there was only a handful of websites that mentioned mu-

Ashley Dopson’s concept art for her new mural, “Fish Are Jumpin’ and the Cotton is High,” for the wall outside the Krog Street Tunnel in Cabbagetown.

rals and when they did there was only a dozen or so,” he recalled. “And some of those had already been painted over.” As Ruddick set out on a quest to find more murals, he also figured out how to start his own website. By the time Atlanta Street Art Map went live in 2017, he had already photographed and documented 200 murals. The site not only divides the city into easily walkable districts, but also provides

a map, photo, and links (if available) to the artist’s website or social media. He’s constantly updating the site and has become Instagram friends with more than 160 artists who alert him about new murals going up in the city. Ruddick enjoys walking and driving to discover and document new street art. He also regularly checks on murals to see if they have been painted over or altered to keep the site as timely as possible. “Archiving the murals is important, because no one else is doing that,” Ruddick said. Late last year, Ruddick realized he was nearing 1,000 murals on the website and decided that an event should be held to celebrate the milestone. His idea was to mark the 1,000th mural he had documented with the creation of a new mural. Ruddick came up with the idea for an ATL1000 festival, which would include walking tours, artist talks, and more. Then the pandemic hit. Undaunted, Ruddick contacted John Dirga with the Cabbagetown Initiative about possibly having the commemorative mural painted on the wall leading to the entrance of the iconic Krog Street Tunnel. The Cabbagetown Initiative has curated the walls leading to the tunnel since 2003.

The Cabbagetown Initiative agreed to put up the mural with ATL1000 as a sponsor. A call went out over social media for artists to submit resumes and qualifications. More than 30 responded, and six were invited to submit mural proposals. By coincidence the 1,000th mural Ruddick documented for his site and the mural chosen for the Cabbagetown wall were created by the same local artist, Ashely Dopson, who goes by Ashely D. for her artwork. Dopson created a colorful Black Lives Matter mural for the KIPP Strive Academy in southwest Atlanta, which became Ruddick’s 1,000th mural for the Street Art Map site. For the Cabbagetown project, Dopson pays tribute to Miss Bertha, a three-decade resident of the former mill neighborhood. In the mural, called “Fish are Jumpin’ and the Cotton is High,” Miss Bertha floats happily in in a colorful koi pond. Dopson was still painting the mural at press time. Another ATL1000 partnership Ruddick is excited about is wish Power Haus Creative and its founder, Ash Nash. The “Goddess Glow” project will se multiple murals created by Black women for Black women and girls to see authentic reflections of themselves in street art.

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS THREE KEYS FOR A STRANGE WORLD EVERYONE AGREES – 2020 MAKES THIS WORLD LOOK “STRANGE”. WHAT’S THE IMPLICATION FOR WEALTH PLANNING? The three things we hear from our families are these. Interest rates are virtually zero meaning that traditional “safe” investments are offering no meaningful return. Our retired clients are mostly in a “higher risk” age category from a pandemic context. Now more home-bound, they see changing spending patterns. They need to re-evaluate budgets and capital sustainability. Also, living through a bitterly partisan election cycle this year leads to a lot of uncertainty about the future economic and investing environment. SO, MOST COULD BENEFIT FROM SOME SOUND ADVICE TO ADDRESS THESE QUESTIONS. WHAT SHOULD ONE LOOK FOR IN WEALTH ADVICE? There are three keys. The first key is to find an advisor legally obligated to look out for your best interest in 100% of your interactions, throughout the relationship. Despite what most people believe, that is still not a legal requirement for the vast majority of the 300,000+ people in the United States who call themselves “financial advisors”. Get that assurance in writing. YOU SAID THERE WERE THREE… Seek an advisor with deep experience and solid credentials. Phillip Hamman, CFP®, CFA, who heads our Wealth Planning Committee has often said, “After our firm’s nearly 50 years of working with families, we like saying, ‘This is not our first rodeo!’”. In a complicated world that finds intersections between taxes, investments, risk management and the like, look for an experienced

Bill Kring, MaryJane LeCroy, and Phillip Hamman, discuss three keys for sound wealth planning advice in this “strange” new world. (Left to right: Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)

fiduciary advisor who is part of a well-credentialled team that includes CPAs, attorneys, and other similarly designated professionals to collaborate on your advice. WITH THE RIGHT ADVISOR, ARE PEOPLE LIKELY TO HEAR NEW AND DIFFERENT ADVICE THAN WHAT WAS SAID BEFORE WE ENTERED THIS STRANGE WORLD? Probably not as different as one might imagine. Good disciplined financial decision-making is a long-term exercise and should not be unduly reactive. That said, we are finding that our advice has to be somewhat adaptable to these newer challenges. Our team is ready right now to meet, either inperson, or virtually, to discuss the challenges you see in your current world.

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Community | 27

Breaking down Georgia’s health coverage plan after Medicaid waiver is granted BY ANDY MILLER Federal health officials gave formal approval Oct. 15 to Gov. Brian Kemp’s request for a waiver to expand health coverage options for low-income Georgians. States have to seek federal permission for changes in certain healthcare programs, and Gov. Kemp submitted two proposals for federal waivers several months ago. The plan under the newly granted Medicaid waiver is called Pathways, and it would increase eligibility for uninsured single adults with incomes up to 100% of poverty, about $12,000 annually. There are strict eligibility rules, called “qualifying activities,’’ where an individual must fulfill at least one. These include working at least 80 hours a month. Because of those restrictions, Georgia officials have estimated that about 50,000 people will get coverage through Pathways. Critics, including many Democrats, note that this number is just a fraction of the 500,000 who would get coverage through a standard Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Medicaid expansion has been adopted by 38 states but has consistently been rejected by Georgia’s Republican-led government, whose leaders say it would be too costly. State leaders celebrated the federal approval at a Capitol ceremony Oct. 15. Kemp, citing Georgia’s high uninsured rate, said “the status quo is simply unacceptable.” Too many Georgians, he said, can’t afford healthcare coverage. The administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, attended the ceremony, praising Georgia’s “market-driven, innovative approach.” Kemp administration officials say the goal of Pathways is to get a person started with Medicaid coverage, then, as the person’s income increases, to move the person to employer coverage or to an individual policy purchased on the insurance exchange. The second waiver request is for a plan called Access, which would feature “reinsurance’’ and a new portal for individuals enrolling in coverage for individuals. The feds have completed their review of that plan, and state officials expect it to be approved in the coming days. Premiums should fall under reinsurance by an average of 10% for people seeking individual and family policies, Kemp administration officials say. Reinsurance has been adopted in about a dozen states and has broad support, even from those who generally oppose Kemp’s waiver plans. The Medicaid waiver approval comes


as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many Georgians to lose jobs and employer health insurance. Two new national studies have estimated that 6 million to 8 million Americans have slipped into poverty in the past few months during the pandemic. Georgia’s uninsured rate, which at 13% is third-highest in the nation, has undoubtedly increased since COVID-19 has gripped the state. And the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a case next month, supported by Georgia’s attorney general among others, asking that the ACA be overturned. If that were to occur, the Access waiver would die along with the health law, but Georgia officials insist that the Medicaid eligibility changes would continue in any case.

Would expansion be better?

The Medicaid waiver plan is set to begin in July 2021. The qualifying activity for that coverage includes meeting the work threshold, or education, job training, volunteering or other eligibility standards. The state would pay for a person’s employer-sponsored insurance or enroll the person in Medicaid. The new enrollee will be required to pay a nominal premium, based on a sliding fee scale. “Georgia Pathways is a ‘hand up’ for hard-working Georgians in our state who are more than deserving,’’ Kemp has said. Kemp administration officials estimate the cost of the two waivers at $218 million, comparing it to their estimate of $547 million for a full Medicaid expansion. But the latter figure doesn’t include the savings in state spending that expansion would provide. Those savings were included in a 2019 fiscal note, requested by Democratic state legislators, that put the cost of Medicaid expansion at $148 million and cover up to 526,000 people in the first year. The estimates for the cost and impact of expansion increase to up to $213 million in fiscal 2022, covering as many as 598,000 people, according to the fiscal note. Any increase in insurance coverage is a good thing, said Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University. But he adds, “It’s hard to figure this [waiver] as fiscally responsible.’’ “The state is overpaying for the results and underappreciating the potential of Medicaid expansion,’’ Custer said. Tracking people’s hours of work, Custer added, would be a documentation burden for both the state and the individual. Federal courts have vacated other states’ waiver plans imposing work requirements, finding that CMS did not

show how such policies could be consistent with Medicaid’s objectives. But Kemp administration officials insist that what’s being contemplated here is not a work requirement, but one of a group of qualifying activities. Laura Harker of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, which supports Medicaid expansion, points out that the Georgia waiver will not receive the 90% federal match that an expansion would provide. The latter, she said, “would bring billions

Those premium reductions from this change may be 5% in metro Atlanta, where there is currently more competition among insurers, but 25% in markets that have a lone carrier offering coverage. The more controversial part of this waiver would launch a new platform for people to sign up for insurance coverage., the current government portal for ACA plans, would be replaced by a system that would allow people to enroll directly with insurers, with

The state is overpaying for the results and underappreciating the potential of Medicaid expansion. BILL CUSTER HEALTH INSURANCE EXPERT

of new dollars into our healthcare system at a critical moment.’’

Arguments over website

The Kemp administration says the 1332 Access waiver will help promote competition among insurance companies, reduce premiums and streamline enrollment for coverage. Officials say 53% of counties in Georgia have just a single insurer selling policies through the health insurance exchange, which was created by the ACA for people who don’t have job-based or government coverage. The Kemp administration said that 129,000 Georgians left the exchange from 2016 through 2019. But Custer noted that those years were a period of economic growth, when many people may have obtained job-based insurance. It was also when Congress scrapped the ACA’s tax penalty on people failing to buy health insurance. The Kemp plan is to market the new program statewide to the uninsured, especially those who qualify for a subsidized exchange plan with no premiums but haven’t signed up for one. Reinsurance, which would go live in January 2022, aims to stabilize health insurance premiums by capping the cost that insurers incur in covering people with high medical costs.

local brokers or agents, or through private-sector broker sites. The current system is “clunky and cumbersome,’’ said Ryan Loke, healthcare adviser to the governor. What’s envisioned is a set-up something like the commercial travel site People seeking insurance would be given options beyond ACA-qualified health plans. Georgians would also get information about short-term health plans and catastrophic health plans, which may not have the entire array of benefits that the ACA plans guarantee. These plans may not cover pre-existing health conditions. Kemp, though, said people with health conditions would be protected: “Junk insurance is not an option.” Critics worry about the state abandoning the current website. “Separating Georgia from puts people with pre-existing conditions, rural Georgians, and people of color at unnecessary risk of enrolling in substandard health insurance or becoming uninsured altogether,” said Laura Colbert of the consumer advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future. The switchover from one portal to another would bring ‘‘heavy, heavy IT costs,’’ said Georgia State’s Custer. This story was reported by Georgia Health News and published here in a partnership with Reporter Newspapers.

28 | Community ■

Residents join county officials in fighting Dresden Village tax break Continued from page 1 on a 4-acre lot on Dresden Drive near Caldwell Road. The Brookhaven Development Authority in August approved a tax break worth up to $13.5 million over a 22-year period to the project, under the code name “Project X.” The tax break has strained the city’s relationship with the county and drawn criticism from some residents and officials as unnecessary and lacking transparency. The county and the DeKalb County School District consider the project a drain on their tax base. The tax break has to be approved in a DeKalb County Superior Court bond validation hearing to take effect. In October, Judge Stacey Hydrick ruled that the county government and the DeKalb County School District can present objections to the bond validation at a Dec. 1 hearing. Neighborhood residents can’t directly join the court battle, but some are applying political pressure to the city administration and City Council members. Dresden Village has been locally controversially, especially for potential traffic impacts, since its zoning approval in 2017. The project was supposed to break ground in 2018, but stalled out. Connolly Investment & Development, the project’s developer, says it is back on track, but needs the tax abatement to cover costs of the street and traffic changes. Those changes include creating a new extension of Green Meadow Lane -a residential street -- past Caldwell Road to Dresden Drive. The plan also would eliminate a traffic light and pedestrian crossing at Dresden and Caldwell. Ricardo Kamenetzky, chair of the

A site plan of the Dresden Village development, showing the controversial Green Meadows Lane extension.

Zoning Committee for the Brookhaven Fields Civic Association, said that neighborhood groups fear those changes would increase traffic on residential streets and reduce pedestrian safety. He said that in recent informal voting among 119 residents of Ashford Park and Brookhaven Fields, 89% opposed the project’s traffic changes, and the same percentage opposed the tax abatement. On Oct. 5, residents from those neighborhoods held a virtual meeting with Hari Karikaran, director of the city’s

Public Works Department, and City Councilmembers John Park and Madeleine Simmons. In a presentation, the residents made several demands: changing the Dresden Village site plan back to roughly the original version from 2017; canceling the tax abatement; commissioning a Dresden Drive corridor traffic study; and placing a moratorium on high-density development in that corridor pending such a study and a related implementation plan. “I am listening to my constituents

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and I understand why some of those in Brookhaven Fields are upset,” Simmons said in email. She noted that the elimination of the traffic light is in a city transportation plan that predates her election to the council. As for the new cut-through street, she said, “... I understand the opposition to the Caldwell and Green Meadows connection and am committed to researching viable options to address the concerns.” Park and the city administration did not respond to comment requests.

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30 | Community ■

Lynwood Park’s historic recognition draws praise Continued from page 1

the neighborhood, promising monuments

cial Justice, Race and Equity Commission

and plaques in that community and sup-

that will meet for a year to consider policy changes. “Ooh, man, I wish I could be there for that,” Wallace said of the commission, describing “systemic racism” within Lynwood Park of his era from White cops who did things like enter the family garage in the middle of the night to figure out why his hard-working father had a Cadillac. Speaking just as an emergency vehicle passed his Atlanta home, about a mile from Lynwood Park, Wallace said: “I have never known a day in my life where I don’t flinch if I see a police officer. I hear a siren coming right now -- [I’m] getting ready to run in the closet.” The Lynwood Park legacy of thriving community amid racism and segregation is what the city now aims to better preserve. On Oct. 13, the City Council passed an ordinance recognizing the history of

porting events that celebrate its past. “Lynwood Park is known for its unity, strength and independence even in the era of legal racial segregation,” said Lynwood Park Foundation Chair Kathy Wells at the meeting. “This ordinance speaks clearly to the strong moral values of the original residents of Lynwood Park.” Black residents settled Lynwood Park in the 1930s after being displaced from Buckhead, which was on its way to becoming majority-White in deliberate gentrification. Recognized as DeKalb County’s oldest Black community in the ordinance, it is located north of Windsor Parkway and bordered by Nancy Creek and the Fulton County line. As Wallace recalls, the community had three grocery stores, a nightclub, its own taxi service. There was a baseball park behind Georgia Avenue where a Black league team named the Lynwood Tigers played.

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BF20_Ad_Reporter_HalfVert_CMYK-WF ol.pdf desegregation,


uments will mimic the style of welcome

wood Park students, who are now recog-

signs that the city has installed on its bor-

nized as “Lynwood Trailblazers,” integrat-


ed schools, and the community has been

The city will support the annual Lyn-

a former home to celebrities, such as Wal-

wood Park Community Day by provid-

lace and Olympic gold medalist relay-run-

ing resources and promotion, according

ner Mel Pender. Wallace’s brother Steve,

to the ordinance. It will also host the an-

a three-time Super Bowl champion in the

nual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Dinner

NFL, still lives in the area.

with free admission for former Lynwood

Councilmember Linley Jones worked

schools students and faculty with three

with the Lynwood Park Foundation,

free guest tickets. The city will also recog-

which preserves the community’s histo-

nize other Lynwood Park events, such as

ry, to help create and pass the ordinance.

the 100th anniversary of Little Zion Bap-

Jones and residents unsuccessfully tried

tist Church in 2023. A room in the recreation center will be dedicated to historic Lynwood Park community members and be made free-

Lynwood Park is known for its unity, strength and independence even in the era of legal racial segregation. This ordinance speaks clearly to the strong moral values of the original residents of Lynwood Park. KATHY WELLS LYNWOOD PARK FOUNDATION CHAIR

ly available for meetings about the neighborhood, according to the ordinance. “The city of Brookhaven owes a great debt of gratitude to these citizens of Lynwood Park for their contributions to our community despite these difficult conditions,” the ordinance reads. Barbara Shaw, a Lynwood Trailblazer and 62-year resident, remembers the C

neighborhood as a friendly and safe place M

growing up, where residents could call Y

their neighbors for help and not worry CM

about locking their doors at night. RecogMY

nizing that history has been particularly CY

important to Shaw as the neighborhood CMY

has become more gentrified.


“This is very heartwarming for me because I’ve been waiting for this for years,” Shaw told the council. Jones and other residents said that gentrification is one of the reasons they pushed for historical markers. Residents

in 2018 to get a Civil Rights history mark-

shared fond memories with the council of

er for the Lynwood Park Recreation Cen-

growing up in the tight-knit community,

ter, a former school for Black elementary

and the change of its culture has made the

and high school students, from the Geor-

historic recognition more necessary.

gia Historical Society. Jones said in an interview she wants to try again for the state marker, but in the

The recognition coming during, and

meantime, it was time for the city to rec-

from, a new era of civil rights activism

ognize the community.

had Wallace reflecting on a new genera-

The city will install a historic marker at

tion’s street protests unlike others Atlan-

the Lynwood Park Recreation Center that

ta has seen. He’s no fan of the looting and

provides an account of the area and its

rioting that spun out of some protests,

role in the city’s history. A bronze plaque

but that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bot-

will also be inside the building with the

toms did a “great job” of letting the peace-

names of Lynwood Trailblazers, accord-

ful demonstrations continue with a major

ing to the ordinance. Granite monuments


with the neighborhood’s establishing date will be installed at its entrance. The mon-


“We’re trying to preserve the history of our ancestors,” Wells said.

“You know what?” he said. “The young kids are always right.”



1:58 PM

Community | 31


When we get to where we want to be, we call that home.

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Average sale price change Sept Oct 2020

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