Sandy Springs Reporter - November 2020

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NOVEMBER 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 11

Sandy Springs Reporter WORTH KNOWING

A PATH400 worker’s trail to a second chance

Perimeter Business

Shop local for the holidays ►

PAGES 7-10

Police chief can’t wait for new public safety HQ

P19

COMMENTARY

Giving thanks in a time of crisis P16

AROUND TOWN FILE

Time for Perimeter cities to plan together? P20

The future city of Sandy Springs public safety headquarters at 620 Morgan Falls Road.

More than a third of city households are burdened by rent, utilities BY BOB PEPALIS

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More than a third of households in the city pay so much for their housing that they are considered cost-burdened by it, consultants creating a housing needs assessment say. Consultants with HR&A Advisors told

BY BOB PEPALIS

the City Council on Oct. 20 that the average household earning less than $50,000 annually is pays more than 30% of its income in housing. Consultants Phillip Kash and Matthew Bedsol said presented a preview of the city’s

Police Chief Kenneth DeSimone looks forward to the day when local residents can easily find the city’s public safety building when the Police Department and Municipal Court relocate 620 Morgan Falls Road. Now they are located in the back of a business complex at 7840 Roswell Road that DeSimone said not a day goes by that someone in the parking lot has to ask how to get to court or where they go to file an incident report. The current headquarters has many woes, the chief says, and a new facility will help with recruiting and retaining officers in a challenging time. “And if you’re a 22- [or] 23-year-old young man or young woman straight out of college, straight out of the military or in your

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City Council to weigh input from meetings about race without diversity data

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Lydia Singleton-Wells, left, and state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick.

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The City Council in November will begin considering comments about race and social justice from approximately 250 attendees of a series of meetings. But that will not include any data about the attendees’ own diversity, as their race, ethnicity and other demographic information were not recorded, according to attendance records obtained by the Reporter. Two high-profile attendees -- Black Lives Matter activist Lydia Singleton-Wells and state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta) -- said in interviews that more diversity was needed in the “Civic Dinners on Inclusion & Belonging,” which were held in July and August. “The group I was in wasn’t very diverse and I think ‘building in’ different demographics might be useful,” said Singleton-Wells, who is Black and who organized Black Lives Matter protests in Dunwoody earlier this year. “The Civic Dinner I attended was great. However it took place with a group of like-minded people and you really truly need differing people from differing backgrounds to get a complete understanding of what the problem is before you can fix it.” Kirkpatrick, who is White and represents parts of Sandy Springs and Cobb County, generally agreed while saying she hopes the city continues the discussion effort. “Many people stay in their comfort zone in their daily lives, especially in this pandemic, and they may not routinely be around others from different walks of life,” Kirkpatrick said. “Developing personal relationships can really help build bridges across many lines and I hope we’ll be able to safely do this face-to-face in the near future.” In the meeting process, local residents, business people and activists took part in 44 virtual discussion hosted on the platform of the private company Civic Dinners. A city employee took notes that will be the basis of a report to be submitted to the City Council in November, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said. Mayor Rusty Paul proposed the meetings and brought the idea to the City Council on June 2 after Rabbi Brad Levenberg of the local Temple Sinai and chair of the Sandy Springs Interfaith Clergy Association asked him to have the city host a town hall meeting on racism and social injustice. The pandemic prevented in-person meetings. Attendees could sign up to volunteer to participate in sessions already scheduled. Or they could volunteer to host their own session. Kraun said demographics were not recorded. The council may take action or develop policy based on what it learns from the discussions. City Council members did not attend the sessions. “I think the Civic Dinners were wonderful for the community, but I believe that the city of Sandy Springs needs to have to be a more diverse and intentional conversation,” said Singleton-Wells. “City officials and all those in authority in Sandy Springs need to truly dig deep into the current racial divide and utilize a very diverse panel to discuss creative and in depth solutions to move forward.” The idea of Civic Dinners-hosted discussions is great because attendees can learn much through talking with people from different backgrounds, Kirkpatrick said. She liked that the discussion was structured around specific questions. Kirkpatrick said she was familiar with the concept from experiences with the Atlanta Regional Commission, so she was pleased when Sandy Springs tried it. “I hope the effort will continue to engage people from different backgrounds. Sandy Springs seems committed to the idea of community discussions and I am encouraged by this initial effort,” she said.

SS


NOVEMBER 2020

City plans proactive approach to helping small businesses A more proactive approach to helping small businesses is the main focus a strategic economic development plan the city is creating. More than 80% of the city’s businesses employ fewer than 10 people, Economic Development Director Andrea Worthy said during a City Council work session on

Dunwoody and Sandy Springs among cities getting an additional area code BY JOHN RUCH Dunwoody and Sandy Springs are among the metro Atlanta cities that will get an additional area code to be used by new phone numbers amid increasing population and

Oct. 20. The top takeaway in RKG Consulting’s report is a bigger emphasis on small busiFull implementation of the consultant’s recommendation requires a doubling of current resources, which is in line with other programs in the region, Worthy said. She said the city’s Economic Development department -- which consists of two staff members -- needs to be more proactive. But to do that, it needs more staff, specifically to reach out to small businesses. Councilmember Jody Reichel the important thing is to hire someone to be the point person between the city and local businesses. At Councilmember Tibby DeJulio’s questioning, Worthy said current priorities are creating jobs, capital investment and interacting with companies that contact the department. Most of what Worthy and Caroline Davis, the other member of the department, do is reactive by answering calls and referring companies to resources offered by other agencies. The RKG report suggests prioritizing retention and expansion of the city’s small businesses. City efforts should focus on keeping those companies and helping them grow, the report said. Especially with the pandemic, the demand for office space has reduced, with livework experiences taking a bigger priority. Worthy said a request for a staff position focused on small business will likely be brought to City Council at one of the next budget cycles. “A small business liaison is my number one priority,” she said. The prioritized implementation goals suggested included: ■ Create opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners to start and grow businesses in Sandy Springs. ■ Proactively engage existing companies to strengthen business retention and expansion. ■ Increase community awareness of the city’s economic opportunities and challenges to ensure informed decision-making. ■ Support regional efforts to attract new companies to Sandy Springs that offer better-than-average wage rates. ■ Centralize and broaden the city’s data collection efforts to better inform economic development actions and policies. ■ Continue to build the city’s implementation partner network and collaborative efforts.

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cording to the Georgia Public Service Commission. Existing phone numbers will not change. The new area code only will apply to numbers on new accounts. According to the PSC, it’s the first new area code in metro Atlanta since 470 was introduced 10 years ago. Available numbers using the existing area codes are expected to run out by the second quarter of 2023, the PSC said it was informed by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, which establishes area codes. The PSC approved the new “overly” area code at an Oct. 6 meeting. Other cities where new 943 area code will apply include: Alpharetta, Duluth, East Point, Forest Park, Gainesville, Griffin, Lawrenceville, Mableton, Marietta, Peachtree City, Roswell, Smyrna and Tucker. The new area code will take about nine months to implement and is expected to fill needs for a decade, according to the PSC. According to the PSC, Georgia’s first area code was 404, which was set in 1947 and covered the entire state. In 1995, 770 was established for metro counties outside the Atlanta city limits. In 1998, 678 was added as an overlay on that area, as was 470 in 2010.


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Dunwoody

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Spring 2019 |

Where brick-and-mortar

The PCIDs 20 years of shaping marks Perimeter Center COMMUNITY retail still works

P. 36

BY JOHN RUCH

johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

After 20 years of a population increasingly boom, jammed highways scraper-sprouting and skymega-developments, it may sound quaint that people about Perimeter worried Mall traffic way 1999. back in But the Perimeter Community provement Districts, Imof business propertythe self-taxing groups out of those concerns,owners that formed are among the sons the local boom has happened reawhy the traffic and isn’t even worse. to Perimeter If you go Center today, you may well get there via one of the big projects PCIDs pushed – like the Hammond the ramps on Ga. Drive 400 or the Ashford-Dunwoody Road diverging diamond change at I-285 inter– and you’ll see smaller touches they’re responsible for, scaping and rush-hour like landtraffic cops. “They had a reputation for, one, cleaning things up, providing number those cosmetic amenities we’ve some of all become used to,” said Ann Hanlon, who watched the CIDs form as resident and now a longtime Dunwoody serves as their director. “At the executive time, that was pretty revolutionary, that a private group was willing to pay for those amenities.” Back in 1999, the day cover Perimeter three cities that toCenter – Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs not yet exist. – did As the its next 20 years, PCIDs looks ahead to it has refocused sion on transportation, its misleaving previous proposals such as park-building ies. Transportation to the citthese days means erything from evhelping to build trail networks multiuse to shaping the toll lanes and future of transit on Ga. 400 and I-285. That’s in addition to some of the PCIDs currently basics the provides or coordinates, like sidewalks and crosswalks, commuter shuttles, traffic signal timing and the rimeter Connects commuter advice Pevice. serAn increasingly part of Perimeter residential sector is Center’s future, with

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Layla Smith, left, and Corrine Ovellette, eighth-graders at Peachtree Charter School, ride the swings during Middle the 20th edition of the Lemonade Days festival, which ran April 24-28 at Brook Run Park. The festival this year raised money for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and the Donaldson-Bannist er Farm.

Mother’s Words of Wisdom

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Mount Paran and Powers Ferry Joe Card, the owner of this carriage house at the a plan to build a roundabout. roads intersection is calling for the city to stop

Mother’s Words of Wisdom P19

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City Springs theater group prepares for another season of packed houses

BY EVELYN ANDREWS

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As the City Springs Theatre Company prepares the final shows of its inaugural season, it’s also prepping for what it expects to be another season of packed shows as it tries to keep up with the enthusiasm and demand from the community. The theater company survived major

leadership changes at City Springs and has succeeded in implementing one of the complex’s key initiatives – educational programming. “I’ve been involved in nonprofit theatre for 33 years now. I have never, ever in my career seen anything like the level of support and desire for musical theater,” Brandt See CITY on page 12

country store. “We’d like Sandy Springs to make a priority of residential neighborhoods and not Aar- out our podcasts Check make it a bypass for commuters,” said at ReporterNewspapers.net on Gill, a homeowner at the intersection. The start of the project is quickly approaching, with utility relocation expectconstruction ed to begin in the fall andThe DunwoodybyReporter is spring 2020. The city is currently working mail delivered to roundthe for way on securing right of homes

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about. carrier routes in The $2.5 million project is expect-ZIP 30338 ed to cost $1.2 million for construction, For information: $800,000 for right of way and $300,000 delivery@reporternewspapers.net for design. The city did not respond to a request for comment, but has said the reby safety roundabout would improve ducing side-impact crashes and installing pedestrian improvements. It’s also expected to reduce congestion, according to the city.

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DeKalb CEO touts Dunwoody unity in ‘State of County’ address

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DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond touted unity as the force behind local resurgence, and cited his “odd couple” partnership with Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal as key bridge-building, in a special “State of the County” address to

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Spring 2019 | Where

brick-and-mortar retail

The PCIDs marks 20 years of shaping Perimeter Center

still works

MAY 2019

P. 36

BY JOHN RUCH

johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Main photo, the diverging SPECIAL at Ashford-Dunwoody diamond interchange Road and I-285 as it looked shortly after opening in 2012. Inset, the Hammond FILE Drive Ga. 400 shortly after interchange with it opened in 2011.

An increasingly residential sector is part of Perimeter Center’s future, with

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business leaders April 25.

Adding to the symbolism, the event – hosted by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and the policy and lobby group the Council for Quality Growth – was not only held in Dunwoody, but in very same Crowne Plaza Ravinia hotel ballroom where the city’s own annual “state See DEKALB on page 10

Dunwoody’s old Austin Elementary School, which was expected to close once a new, 900-seat version debuts P16 open temporarily next year, may remain as DeKalb Schools searches for ways to alleviate overcrowding. Doing so would mean extending a lease agreement between the city and the school district, but officials are being tight-lipped about their discussions. COMMENTARY The city currently owns the old school at 5345 Roberts Drive, originally built in 1975, as part of a 2016 land swap deal with DeKalb Schools. The agreement included the city trading the former Dunwoody Senior Baseball fields for the school property and DeKalb Schools paying the city $3.6 million. DeKalb Schools P18 is building the new school on Roberts Drive on the site of the former baseball fields and adjacent to the NEST ROBIN’S Dunwoody Nature Center, less than a halfmile from the current AES. The city has not finalized what it wants to do with the old school property once it is vacated, but talks have generally focused on creating a park space. The new Austin Elementary School is being built using 2011 special local option salesP19 tax funding. As part of the 2016 agreement, the city agreed to lease the old school to DeKalb

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BY JOHN

RUCH johnruch@repo rternewspapers. net

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Is this the killed Buckgun that namesake head’s deer?

P10

Take steps to protect urban wildlife Mother’s Words of Wisdom

• VOL. 13 —

Buckhead Reporter

After 20 years of a population boom, increasingly jammed highways and skyscraper-sprouting mega-developments, it may sound quaint that people worried about Perimeter Mall traffic way back in 1999. But the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, the self-taxing groups of business property owners that formed out of those concerns, are among the reasons the local boom has happened and why the traffic isn’t even worse. If you go to Perimeter Center today, you may well get there via one of the big projects the PCIDs pushed – like the Hammond Drive ramps on Ga. 400 or the Ashford-Dunwoody Road diverging diamond interchange at I-285 – and you’ll touches they’re responsible see smaller for, like landscaping and rush-hour traffic cops. “They had a reputation for, number one, cleaning things up, providing some of those cosmetic amenities we’ve all become used to,” said Ann Hanlon, who watched the CIDs form as a longtime Dunwoody resident and now serves as their executive director. “At the time, that was pretty revolutionary, that a private group to pay for those amenities.” was willing Back in 1999, the three cities that today cover Perimeter Center – Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs – did not yet exist. As the PCIDs looks ahead to its next 20 years, it has refocused its mission on transportation, leaving proposals such as park-building previous to the cities. Transportation these days means everything from helping to build multiuse trail networks to shaping the future of toll lanes and transit on Ga. 400 and I-285. That’s in addition to some of PCIDs currently provides the basics the or like sidewalks and crosswalks,coordinates, commuter shuttles, traffic signal timing and the Perimeter Connects commuter advice service.

to remake Emory unveils $1B plan innovation district’ Executive Park as ‘health

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fishing regulations approved after heron’s death

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of Residents near Mount Paran and Powers Ferry roads have rallied against a roundabout expected to be built early next year. They argue the roundabout will mostly help commuters while negatively affecting their properties, including requiring demolition of a P19 once used as a nearly century-old building

ead

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LOCAL COUPLE BRINGS ANIME, GAMING EVENT TO ATLANTA

Dunwoody Brookhaven

s: ►Perimeter Busines PCIDs turns 20 ►Q+A with local couple big ’s Atlanta behind anime convention

DYANA BAGBY

evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

COMMENTARY

CongraCelebrate Memor tulatio ial Day ns to Let us feed and your family all the 2019 gradua Sandy Springs/Buckh Three & friends while 4920 Roswell Road 404-255-6368

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RUCH

Old Austin Elementary School may remain open to relieve overcr park owding New public

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rtar retail

BY JOHN

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MAY 2019 • VOL. 11 —

SPECIAL diamond looked shortly Road and interchange I-285 as after opening it Inset, the in 2012. Hammond Ga. 400 Drive interchange FILE shortly after with it opened in 2011.

COMMUNITY

COMMUNITY

SECTION

NATURE AND THEATER MERGE AT DUNWOODY’S PLAY-READIN SERIES PAGE G

| Where brick-and-mo

After 20 increasingly years of a population jammed boom, scraper-sprouting highways and skyit may sound mega-developments quaint that about Perimeter people worried, Mall traffic 1999. way back in But the provement Perimeter Community Districts, Imof business the self-taxing groups out of those property owners that formed concerns, sons the local boom are among the why the has happened reatraffic and to Perimeter isn’t even worse. If you Center today, get there you may go via well PCIDs pushed one of the big projects – like the ramps on Hammond the Ga. 400 Drive woody or the Ashford-DunRoad diverging change diamond at I-285 – and you’ll intertouches they’re responsible see smaller scaping and rush-hour for, like “They had traffic cops. landone, cleaning a reputation for, those cosmeticthings up, providing number some of amenities used to,” we’ve all said Ann become the CIDs Hanlon, who watched form as a longtime resident and now Dunwoody serves as director. their “At lutionary, the time, that was executive that a private pretty to pay for group was revothose amenities.” willing Back in 1999, the three day cover cities that Perimeter en, Dunwoody toCenter – Brookhavnot yet exist. and Sandy Springs As the – did its next 20 years, PCIDs looks ahead it has sion on transportation, refocused its to misproposals leaving such as park-building previous ies. Transportation to the citerything these from helping days means trail networks evto build multiuse to shaping toll lanes the and transit That’s in on Ga. 400 future of addition and I-285. PCIDs currently to some of the like sidewalks provides or basics the and crosswalks,coordinates, shuttles, traffic signal commuter rimeter timing and Connects the Pecommuter vice. advice serAn increasingly part of Perimeter residential sector Center’s is future, with CONTINUED

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Main photo, the diverging SPECIAL at Ashford-Dunwoody diamond interchange Road and I-285 looked shortly as it after opening in 2012. Inset, the Hammond FILE Ga. 400 shortly Drive interchange with after it opened in 2011.

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COMMENTA RY

EMORY UNIVERSITY

shows future of Executive Park it owns plan for the 60 acres and Musculoskeletal Emory University’s master colored in blue, including a new hospital and industrial. office medical and office buildings to rezone the property from retail to Center. Emory is seeking

300-plus properties could be affected ect by I-285 toll lanes proj AND JOHN RUCH BY DYANA BAGBY toll lanes on the The state’s plan to build impact a minimum of top end of I-285 could the corridor, rang300 properties all along easements to full ing from construction to city of Brookhavland takings, according en officials. City CouncilmemMayor John Ernst and about 50 people ber Linley Jones informed community meeting at attending an April 18

number they learned City Hall that was the with a Georgia Deafter a private meeting on project manpartment of Transportati did not know how ager. They also said they would be afmany Brookhaven properties fected. affected on the The 300-plus properties located between Hentop end of I-285 are area in the east derson Road in the Tucker See 300 on page 23

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Take steps to pro tec urban wildlife t

P18 revealed its $1 Emory University has Park, a “livebillion plan for Executive ROBIN’S that district” NEST work-play health innovation a hotel, multifamily includes a hospital, and office space. The housing and medical build, but to years 15 60-acre plan will take center could start work on an orthopedic this year, Emory says. Park, a neighborResidents of Lavista Park, are seekhood adjacent to Executive P19 Brookhaven, posing to be annexed into year, in part because sibly as soon as this a say in the developthey want to have

Mother’s Words of Wisdom

ment. a say because this Check out our “It’s critical we have at ReporterNew podcasts d,” said Mispapers.net comes into our neighborhoo shortly before Emchael Lappin, speaking 22 See EMORY on page The Buck

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The PCID of shapings marks 20 year s Perimeter Center

Left, John Beach, presid which repute ent dly killed the of the Buckhead Herita holds what is said to be neighborhood’s names ge Society, holds the “Buckh the same firearm ake deer in an undate in 1838. Right, Jamesead Gun,” d photo. (John Whitle Ruch/Specia y l)

After 45 ye launches a ars, a nonprofit citizen inpureview of NPU t system

BY JOHN

RUCH

johnruch@rep

orternewspape

rs.net

The Neigh borhood Plann tem that ing Unit sysreviews plann ing, zonin other big g and issues ment is gettin for Atlanta city govern g a review downtown of its own. nonprofit A called the Civic Innov Center ation has begun a quiet, for but

potentially influential, series of meetin and survey s that aims to have reform gs ommendatio recns for the 45-year-old on the table system by March 2020. “There are things about tem] that [the NPU are amazi ng, and things syswe need to that have a lot more conve about,” said rsation CCI Execu tive Direct or Rohit See AFTER on page 14

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Business: PCIDs turns 20 ►Q+A with local couple behind Atlanta’s big anime convention

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MAY 2019

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BY JOHN

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The woode with age. The n stock is beige and battere metal plate decorated above the trigger d with a pair is of birds. The long, heavy barrel is and octago nal. It’s an old sure. It might muzzleloading firearm even be the , deer that gave one that killed for Buckhead the 1838. its curious name in John Beach, Heritage Society president of the Buckh ead , is still trying to figure that For more on out, partly by trackin g John Beach, see the tales surrou Around Town, nding another little-known page 20. piece of area history – an quietly surviv 1842 ed destruction log cabin that to a Buckh ead back yard. by being moved Beach gave In the meant the Report ime, er an exclus ive close-

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Construction on Spalding/Chamblee-Dunwoody intersection to start BY ERIN SCHILLING Construction for intersection changes Spalding Drive and Chamblee-Dunwoody Road was expected to start by November after the Dunwoody City Council approved a contract Oct. 12. The $1.27 million contract is with Construction 57 and is funded mostly by previous years’ Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax funds, according to a city memo. Construction is expected to be completed sometime next year. “The reason why this intersection was so important to us is because it was rated the most dangerous in the city in terms of accidents,” Councilmember Stacey Harris said in the Oct. 12 meeting. Left-turn lanes will be added to Spalding Drive at the intersection, along with sidewalks on the east side of the road from the southern city limit to the Corona-

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tion Drive intersection. Chamblee-Dunwoody Road will be realigned to intersect at Spalding Drive at a wider angle to improve visibility. Bike lanes will be put on both sides of Spalding Drive “within the limits of the project.” The contract also includes drainage improvements at the intersection. Utility companies have already started relocating utilities at the intersection in late spring, according to the city memo. That work is expected to be finished in January 2021, but city Public Works Director Michael Smith said Construction 57 will go ahead and start on one segment of the project while the utility relocation gets completed. The city received 13 bids for the project, and Construction 57, which is also working on adding sidewalks to Peeler Road, had the lowest bid.


6 | Community

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City approves demolition of Hammond Drive houses; street is resurfaced

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BY BOB PEPALIS Not long after the city approved demolition of 11 houses bought as part of the proposed Hammond Drive widening project, contractors were resurfacing that same street. On Oct. 6, the City Council approved a $185,650 contract with Complete Demolition Services to demolish homes officials said were in too bad a shape for use in a city program that offers affordable housing to public safety employees.

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The contractor will demolish the houses, grade the properties, and put seed and straw down at: 6038 Harleston Road; 6017 Kayron Drive; 6020 Glenridge Drive; and 360, 390, 446, 524, 600, 630, 640, 660 Hammond Drive. And in May, the council approved a $4 million contract with Northwest Georgia Paving to resurface streets that include sections of Hammond Drive both east and west of Ga. 400. The western section, from Lorrell Trace to Harleston Road, is within a section of Hammond within the widening project. The resurfacing also includes Hammond Drive east of Ga. 400 from Concourse

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Parkway to city limits near Perimeter Center Parkway. The widening project is in a design phase and Mayor Rusty Paul offered an opti-

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tion special local option sales tax (TSPLOST) that would include the Hammond Drive widening project. Construction would begin earlier than some of the council mem-

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bers had suggested. “I don’t think you are talking a decade, but I think you are talking five years,” he said. But five years is a long time to wait when the road needs resurfacing, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said a few weeks after the city approved the demolition contract. “We want to maintain all of our streets,” she said. “It’s a good practice to maintain all of our streets and it’s a safety mechanism as well.”

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ed. Approximately $9 million already has been spent on 26 houses, mostly on property that owners sought to sell. Police officers currently live in some of the houses in a city pilot program for affordable housing. Up to 80 properties could be impacted by the widening project, including commercial businesses near its intersection with Roswell Road. The city owns 28 of those properties. Assistant City Manager David Wells said in the meeting early in October that each house was inspected for a cost analysis of renovations. His analysis was based in part on the $15,000-per-house spending limit the council imposed in the program. Four properties along the widening project corridor owned by the city currently

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house officers, he said. A fifth property, 6017 Kayron Drive, had once been occupied by a public safety officer. But sinkholes developed on the property making it unsafe for dwelling and the officer had to move out. “It pains me to tear a house down, but I’d rather do that than create a public safety hazard,” Councilmember Chris Burnett said. Asked by Councilmember Tibby DeJulio whether more houses could be saved if the renovation spending limit were increased, Well said yes. But the council did not authorize such a change. Burnett said if the city could get 10 years of housing use by officers by spending an additional $5,000 per house, it would be a good investment, but it wouldn’t make sense if the road project began in two or three years. Wells said a lot of the homes have mold issues and their appliances are outdated. “A lot of them were rented by rooms. They are in really, really bad condition,” he said.

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NOVEMBER 2020

Perimeter Business | 7

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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.

SPECIAL

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


8 | Perimeter Business

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►Ribbon-Cuttings

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: candsoysterbar.com. Cubanos ATL, restaurant, 6450 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: cubanosatl.com. Framebridge Buckhead, custom framing, Shops Around Lenox, 3400 Around Lenox Road, Buckhead. Info: framebridge.com. Garnet Gal’s Coffee Shop & Bakery, Lenox Village, 2770 Lenox Road, Suite B-4, Buckhead. Info: garnetgalscoffesshop.com. LAKE Atlanta, clothing, Paces Ferry Plaza, 3519-B Northside Parkway, Buckhead. Info: lakepajamas.com. Weinberg Elder Law, law firm, 10 Glenlake Parkway, Suite 130, Sandy Springs. Info: weinbergelderlaw.com. Yebo Beach Haus, restaurant, relocated to Andrews Square, 56 East Andrews Drive, Buckhead. Info: yebobeachhaus.com. 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: peersempoweringpeers.org. SPECIAL

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Perimeter Business | 9

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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: atlantahistorycenter.com.

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: kazootoysatlanta.com.

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: bigfrog.com/dunwoody.

Bird-watching

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: atlanta.wbu.com.

◄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: kudzuandcompany.com.


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

SPECIAL

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 signgreeters.com.


NOVEMBER 2020

Community | 11

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Community Briefs A PARTMEN T C OMMUN I TI ES SO LD TO ATLA N TA I N VESTMEN T FIR M The Cascade at Morgan Falls and The Fountains at Morgan Falls, neighboring San-

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dy Springs apartment communities, were part of a $220 million purchase of three multifamily communities by an Atlanta-based real estate investment and management company. The Sandy Springs communities will be combined and were renamed as ARIUM Morgan Falls by the new owner, CARROLL. Also part of the purchase was The Columns at Bentley Manor in Marietta. The Sandy Springs properties are garden-style communities with 1,180 total units. ARIUM Morgan Falls is located at 8085 and 8075 Adair Lane, off Roswell Road in the North End, where the city is attempting to spark redevelopment. The new owner will spend more than $30 million in the properties to overhaul exteriors, amenities and unit interiors, it said in a press release. “At CARROLL, we believe in the long-term demand for each of these locations due to their relative affordability, proximity to local freeways and employment hubs, good schools, and the fundamentals of Atlanta’s strong, diversified economy, which has been highlighted by its resiliency through the pandemic,” said Casey Barber, CARROLL’s vice president of investments, said in the release.

C OM M UN IT Y A SSI STA N C E C EN TER CEO TO R ETIR E Tamara Carrera, who has led the Community Assistance Center since 1997, has announced her retirement. Carrera plans to remain on board until a new CEO is in place, according to a press release.

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CAC is a nonprofit that helps people at risk of homelessness and hunger in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody. It is based in Sandy Springs’ North End. It was founded in 1987 by 10 local religious congregations of various faiths “looking to provide and centralize assistance to address growing poverty in the community despite the area’s developing affluence,” the release said. According to the press release, Tamara Carrera.

SPECIAL

Carrera was the driving force behind CAC’s growth from a small charity initially housed at a scout hut at the

Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church campus, providing food and clothing to about 280 families a year, to the go-to emergency assistance agency in the community serving more than 6,500 individuals a year from 3,000 households. The organization has seen a massive increase in demand during the pandemic. Carrera joined CAC as a volunteer in 1993, an in 1997 was hired as its fourth director. “Tamara’s outstanding leadership has put CAC on the national map as an exemplary model of a successful nonprofit assistance agency,” said CAC Board President Nancy Berger. “For 23 years, Tamara has championed the needs of our lower-income families and those who fall on hard times. She will be missed at CAC and in the community.” The CAC’s board of directors “has been hard at work for over a year getting ready for this transition,” according to the press release. A formal search was expected to begin

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Art & Entertainment | 13

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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 GeorgiaTrust.org 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 atlantabg.org 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 AtlantaSymphony.org 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 atlanticstation.com.

ry of embracing womanhood, Blackness and the myriad changes of life itself. Visit actors-express.com 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 alliancetheatre.org 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 SS

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 OutFrontTheatre.org.

Indie Craft Experience The annual holiday shopping tradition is going virtual this year with digital sales platform. The digital marketplace will be available via ice-atlanta.com 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 poncecityroof.com 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 high.org.


14 | Public Safety

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Police Briefs B U C K H EA D K IDN A P P I N GRO B B ERY S US P EC T MAY H AV E C O M M I TTED SAN DY S PR I N GS C RIME The Atlanta Police Department has issued a sketch of a suspect in two Buckhead kidnappings and robberies who may also be responsible for a similar incident in Sandy Springs. Two women were kidnapped and robbed in Buckhead in September in separate crimes that may have been committed by the same suspect — a man who entered their vehicles, forced them to withdraw cash from a bank, and threatened their ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT lives if they called police. A sketch of the suspect in two The Sandy Springs Police Department kidnapping and robbery incidents in Buckhead on Sept. 25 and 27. is “investigating a kidnapping with a very similar m.o.,” said SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Salvador Ortega. “Our detectives are working with Atlanta PD investigators, as we believe it involves the same perpetrator,” he said. The Sandy Springs kidnapping happened on Oct. 9 around 6 p.m. in the area of a condominium complex at 5151 Roswell Road, about a mile north of the Atlanta city limit, according to SSPD. An image of the kidnapping and robbery suspect in a screenshot from a surveillance video released by the Atlanta Police Department. The Buckhead crimes happened Sept. 25 at 2531 Piedmont Road in the Lindbergh Plaza shopping center and Sept. 27 at a QuikTrip gas station at 761 Sidney Marcus Boulevard. The suspect is described in APD reports as a Black man with an Afro and is shown in a previously released surveillance video as wearing a T-shirt, pants and ball cap, all dark in color. He gave his name as “Robert” to one Buckhead victim. Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta offers a reward up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. Anyone with information can call 404-577-8477 or visit StopCrimeATL.org.

WO M A N DRI VI N G MOP ED ON I -285 D IES I N MULTI P L E-VEH I C L E A C CID ENT

A woman operating a moped on I-285 near New Northside Drive was killed in a multiple-vehicle accident at 8:20 p.m. on Oct. 22, the Sandy Springs Police Department reported. A motorist spotted the moped driving in the same lane and unsuccessfully tried to swerve to avoid a collision, according to SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Salvador Ortega. The vehicles collided and the moped driver fell onto the interstate and was struck by another vehicle, according to Ortega. Both motorists stopped at the scene, called 911 and cooperated with investigators, Ortega said. The moped driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Her identity was withheld pending notification of next of kin. Georgia law prohibits mopeds from driving on any limited-access highways or other roads where the minimum speed limit is above 35 mph.

CH I R O PR A C TOR C H A RGED WI TH SEXU AL BATTERY

A Sandy Springs chiropractor has been charged with sexual battery after a patient accused him of inappropriately touching her, according to the police department. A woman told police on Sept. 4 that she visited the Atlanta Spine Doctors at 4 Concourse Parkway, Suite 301, for an appointment with a chiropractor, according to the Sandy Springs Police Department. When she arrived, she realized only herself and the chiropractor were in the office. She alleged that he undressed her and

touched her inappropriately throughout the appointment. Rashad Oronde Sandord, 29, of Atlanta, was arrested on Oct. 7 by the SSPD Street Crimes division on a sexual battery warrant. He was released on Oct. 8 on a $7,500 pretrial release signature bond, according to Fulton County Jail records. An employee at Atlanta Spine Doctors who identified herself as the practice manager but declined to give her named said the business has no comment. SSPD said it is seeking information about other potential victims at the chiropractor’s practice. Anyone with information should contact Detective M. Burson at MBurson@SandySpringsGA.Gov or by calling 770-551-2570.

SANDY SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT

The 2006 Ford Crown Victoria driven by a Sandy Springs Police officer was heavily damaged in the Oct. 15 accident.

O FFICER R EC EI V ES M INO R I NJUR I ES IN PAT R O L C A R A C C IDE NT A Sandy Springs Police officer received minor injuries and his patrol car was heavily damaged in an Oct. 15 accident. The accident happened at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Abernathy and Johnson Ferry roads, said Sgt. Salvador Ortega, a spokesperson for the Sandy Springs Police Department. The officer was driving east on Abernathy when a 2002 Ford F-150 pickup truck turned left in front of the patrol car, according to Ortega. The officer had the green light and was not at fault, Ortega said. The pickup truck driver was cited for failure to yield, Ortega said. The officer was taken to the hospital for treatment and released and was resting at home the next day. The driver and three passengers in the pickup truck were not injured, according to SSPD. The officer’s car, a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria, was one of SSPD’s original vehicles at its founding that same year, Ortega said.

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NOVEMBER 2020

Community | 15

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Layoffs at Perimeter Center’s larger companies slowed in third quarter BY BOB PEPALIS More than 29,000 metro Atlanta employees were the victims of layoffs in 2020 that required 60 days notices to employees and the Georgia Department of Labor (DOL), including 3,832 in the Perimeter Center area, including Sandy Springs, Buckhead, Dunwoody and Brookhaven. Few of those layoffs occurred after the second quarter, but they aren’t over yet. Workers at The Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia in Dunwoody

aren’t done seeing layoffs after 114 staff

totrader, Dealer.com and Kelley Blue

members were laid off March 27. The

Book, had two layoffs of 344 and 118

hotel announced another 72 layoffs

employees on May 17.

would be effective Nov. 30. Sodexo, a food and facilities management company in 67 countries, announced it was laying off 141 employees

The second quarter wasn’t a good one for hotel workers in Buckhead, as

The Westin Atlanta Perimeter hotel

the Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Mer-

laid off 97 staff members effective May

ritt Hospitality’s Westin Buckhead and

20.

The Whitley Hotel laid off 430 people

Enterprise Holdings, which oper-

in Sandy Springs on Aug. 28.

May 17.

on May 20 and June 5.

ates Alamo, Enterprise and National

The Federal Worker Adjustment and

In Sandy Springs, 685 employ-

car rental agencies, laid off 110 people

Retraining Notification Act (WARN)

ees from four companies were part of

in the city on April 30. Asbury Automo-

went into effect in 1989, requiring em-

WARN notices sent out in the second

tive Group laid off 16 of its workers on

ployers with 100 or more employees to

quarter of 2020.

April 3.

submit a layoff/closing notification to

Cox Automotive, a dealer servic-

Cox Automotive laid off another 76

es organization that also operates Au-

workers at its Brookhaven location on

the DOL, employees or their representatives.

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16 | Commentary

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COMMENTARY

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.

KEEVA KASE

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.

REV. BILL MURRAY

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. SS


NOVEMBER 2020

Commentary | 17

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

SS

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 robinconte.com. 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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NOVEMBER 2020

Commentary | 19

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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 worthknowingnow@gmail.com.

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 worthknowingnow@gmail.com. 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 works.net. “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. 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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@ reporternewspapers.net

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

JOE EARLE

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? SS


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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. Healthcare.gov, 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 hotels.com. 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 healthcare.gov 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. SS


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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 recordstoreday.com. And for more about Fantasyland, see fantasylandrecords. com.

GIVING RECORD STORE DAY A SPIN AT BUCKHEAD’S FANTASYLAND

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.

LIVING ROOM COVER.JPG

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


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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 go-astronomy.com 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

SPECIAL

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


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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

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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 (streetartmap.org) 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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Talent, transportation and incentives brings fintech company to town BY BOB PEPALIS Talent, transportation and still-secret government incentives is bringing financial technology company Deluxe Corp. to town with more than 700 jobs, according to president and CEO Barry McCarthy. “We’re very confident that the Sandy Springs area and the [Ga.] 400 corridor in particular would be fertile ground for us to hire and develop talent,” McCarthy said in an interview. Minnesota-based Deluxe announced in September that it will open a “FinTech and Customer Innovation Center” sometime next year at 5565 Glenridge Con-

We’re very confident that the Sandy Springs area and the [Ga.] 400 corridor in particular would be fertile ground for us to hire and develop talent.

cloud solutions, promotional solutions and its legacy check systems. McCarthy said during the reorganization, the company realized it needed to hire more people skilled in fintech and payments, and began a national search. “Georgia quickly went to the top of that list,” he said. That’s because Georgia is a global fintech capital, with 70% of all payment volume passing through a company headquartered in the state or with a meaningful presence here. Other factors included the University System of Georgia establishing the FinTech Academy and the Technology Association of Georgia having 40,000 paying members in technology in Georgia. The Perimeter Center area was an attractive location, McCarthy said, due to its community amenities and easy access to Ga. 400, I-285 and MARTA stations. “And then it got down to the specific property in specific geographies or specific addresses, and the Sandy Springs site went to the top of the list for

a number of factors,” McCarthy said. Then there was the package of tax breaks and other incentives offered by the state and the city. McCathy said he isn’t at liberty to release the amount yet. The City Council previously authorized a package of tax exemptions and fee waivers worth up to $255,000. “We put all those things together with a great building, with spectacular views, you know, [and a] great allaround economic package. It became the obvious SPECIAL choice for us going forBarry McCarthy, CEO of Deluxe Corp. ward,” McCarthy said. Deluxe will hire people in the fields of product manCarthy said employees suited to those agement, product development, applicaroles will have degrees from technical tion development, artificial intelligence, colleges and master’s degrees or doctormachine learning, data analytics and ates. positions that support those areas. Mc-

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nector. Deluxe say it will hire 709 people at an average salary of $91,000. McCarthy said that fintech is “the underlying technology that enables commerce of every kind,” from swiping a credit card to applying for a mortgage. Deluxe is more than 100 years old and was best known for its founder, W.R. Hotchkin, creating the checkbook, which changed the payment system forever. “We still print checks, and we ship about 150,000 packages every day, but it’s less than 40% of our company’s revenue,” McCarthy said. Earlier this year, Deluxe reorganized around four businesses: payments, SS

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28 | Education

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Fulton County Schools is installing hospital-grade air filters in schools to fight COVID-19 BY JOHN RUCH

ter, according to ASHRAE. That means the filters could capture most of the particles

The Fulton County School System says it is installing hospital-grade filters in its schools’ heating and air conditioning systems to fight the airborne spread of the coronavirus. FCS had installed the filters in six of its 11 Sandy Springs schools by late October and expects to have them in all facilities in November, according to FSC spokesperson Shumuriel Ratliff. Ratliff did not respond to a request to identify the local schools with the filters. FSC returned to optional in-person classes Oct. 14. Since then, it has already had to close two high schools due to COVID-19 diagnoses, though there is no information about how those students or staff members got infected. Asked why the filters were not installed before the Oct. 14 reopening, FCS’s Facilities Services Department cited supply issues. “We are committed to updating all filters as quickly as possible,” the department said in a written statement provided by Ratliff. “Filter material is limited due to the worldwide demand on MERV 13 filters as a result of COVID, and we are replacing the filters as they become available.” “MERV” stands for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value,” a scale of how well an air filter removes variously sized particles from the air on a scale of 1 to 16, with higher being better. MERV is a standard of ASHRAE, an international HVAC industry standards group headquartered in Brookhaven. A MERV 13 filter is at least 85% efficient at removing particles that are 1 to 3 micrometers in size, according to ASHRAE’s website. A coronavirus by itself is smaller than that and could get through such a filter, but it typically is spread through the air when it is exhaled by people within saliva droplets that are around 1 microme-

that could spread the pandemic through the air. Filters with a MERV rating of 13 to 16 are used in such high-sensitivity places as surgical hospitals, according to the website of the National Air Filtration Association, a Wisconsin-based industry group. The grocery store chain Lidl announced Oct. 20 that it is installing filters with a rating of MERV 13 or higher in all of its U.S. stores by the end of the year. ASHRAE’s website says that for fighting COVID-19, MERV 13 is the minimum standard and that MERV 14 or better is “preferred.” However, the benefits of filters depend on the specific details of an individual building’s HVAC system. Another standard filter rating is “high-efficiency particulate air” or HEPA, which may be more familiar from a variety of consumer products. According to ASHRAE, HEPA filters are even more efficient than MERV filters. “By definition,” ASHRAE says, HEPA filters must be 99.97% efficient at capturing particles 0.3 micrometers in size. Since April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned about the possibility of COVID-19 spreading through droplets within indoor air, but it took several months for that idea to catch on. Now there is great demand for a variety of systems to filter or disinfect the air, ranging from improved ventilation to virus-killing ultraviolet lights mounted within HVAC systems. A wide variety of local businesses and institutions, from restaurants to MARTA, have upgraded their HVAC systems due to the pandemic. Experts say that, like precautions, HVAC system upgrades can only reduce the risk of getting COVID-19, not eliminate it completely. HVAC systems in particular vary widely in their capabilities among buildings.

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30 | Public Safety

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Police chief can’t wait for new public safety HQ Continued from page 1 first big job, you want to go somewhere that’s nice,” DeSimone said. The city closed on the new site, a former office building, in a $10.9 million purchase for the new public safety building, officials announced on Oct. 6. City spokesperson Sharon Kraun said the city is in the process of developing a timeline on the new location. The next step is its design and a request for proposals will be issued to secure those services.

Our lobby is so small that it’s basically standing room only a lot of times. Now, since the pandemic, you can only get one person in a lobby at a time. KENNETH DESIMONE POLICE CHIEF

The four-story, 109,000-square-foot building off Morgan Falls Road dates to 1990. It sits on a 12.3-acre property with parking for more than 750 vehicles. The building’s most recent tenant was WorldPay. The city purchased the property from the TPA Group. The city has paid $757,174 annually for three buildings in the Morgan Falls Office Park for its police department and court. The buildings are not secure for citizens, officers or court staff, he said. The police headquarters lacks public bathrooms. “Our lobby is so small that it’s basically standing room only a lot of times. Now, since the pandemic, you can only get one person in a lobby at a time,” he said. Sensitive items and property evidence are stored in a room that has a shared wall with other, non-government business. When renovations are completed at the new headquarters, he expects to have a completely secure property room. The current buildings have no secure way to bring prisoners into the courtroom and lack a secure way to hold them while waiting for court to start. “They’re just basically handcuffed and sat in plastic chairs until their time to see the judge comes up,” DeSimone said. Renovations to the property bought for approximately $11 million will include secure entries. The current headquarters also lacks a generator, so if power goes out a department that operates 24/7 is hamstrung. Formerly owned by a financial technology company called Worldpay, the building has a substantial generator on the property that was needed to assure credit card transactions could be processed. He hopes they can make use of it to assure operations such as the 911 center. “Actually, this past Saturday night, one of our buildings flooded where we are now because the rain was so heavy,” DeSimone

Police Chief Kenneth DeSimone

said. The city operates now with a single courtroom. A long trial backs up routine speeding tickets, misdemeanor larceny and shoplifting cases. “If you have a long trial that lasts a day, maybe two days then all those other cases get backed up because there’s no other venue,” he said. He hopes to have at least two courtrooms in the new building so they can have multiple trials going on at the same time without a single case log jamming the whole system. The police department needs locker rooms for its officers. In more than 30 years in law enforcement, DeSimone said, this is the first police department he has seen that didn’t have a locker room. If an officer is working on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and gets covered with vegetation and gets wet, they can’t shower and have no place to store a new uniform. The new building will have plenty of parking for the public and space for secure parking areas for police vehicles and those seized as evidence. The new headquarters will enable a fire

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station to be constructed on the property. Having a dedicated parking lot will give the police department a place to set up a cone course to train citizen volunteers instead of going to a school parking lot. The property provides plenty of space for K-9 training also. DeSimone said the city pays about $57,000 monthly for rent on six different facilities in two different counties. They include three buildings in the office park, a gym on Hammond Drive and an indoor training facility in Doraville. “And that’s not including our outdoor range,” he said. The department constantly visits sheriff’s offices in the north metro area for outdoor shooting. “That’s a lot of hours spent outside the city for training and increases gas costs and wear and tear on cars. If we could consolidate it in one area, I think there will be a big savings,” he said. The new public safety building will have a gym area that’s not just a weight room. Floors and walls will be padded for use in training for defensive tactics.

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NOVEMBER 2020

Community | 31

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More than a third of city households are cost-burdened by rent and utilities, consultants say Continued from page 1 Housing Needs Assessment. More than 12,000 renter households make less than $54,000. Almost 3,500 owner-occupied households make $53,000 or less. The gap between median renter income and median owner income is at its lowest since 2011, dropping to $76,000. For homeowners, the median income is $131,000. But for renters, the median income is $55,000. Almost two-thirds of the housing units built in Sandy Springs since 2010 have been multi-family, making it the central driver of the city’s growth, the consultants said. Bedsole said 6,011 housing units have been built since 2010, with 4,377, or 65%, of them multifamily units. Renter households increased by 3,600 between 2011 and 2018 to 24,010. Rental households include rented houses, townhomes, condos and apartments. Owner-occupied homes rose by 1,400 in that same time to 21,823. That meant renters comprised 52% of the city’s households, compared to 48% who were owner-occupants. The city designed the assessment to review existing housing conditions; demo-

graphic and market demands; housing gaps and issues; current and anticipated unmet housing needs; and an outlook of anticipated housing demands over the next 10 years. Kash and Bedsole will provide additional updates before the final re-

6,011

HOUSING GROWTH IN THE CITY

HOUSING UNITS BUILT SINCE 2010

21,823 24,010 OWNER-OCCUPIED HOMES

RENTER HOUSEHOLDS

port, due by the end of the year. The City Council could then use the report to set goals and develop or change housing and development policies for those goals. The assessment comes at a time when the city is promoting redevelopment along Roswell Road in the North End, where there are many older shopping centers and apartment complexes. The median household income is lowest in the multi-family communities in the North End centered along Roswell Road, designated as subarea 7 in the assessment. Household incomes in that area range from $50,000 to just under $100,000. The southwestern parts of the city, and its northeastern panhandle have the highest for household incomes, reaching $150,000 or more. The city’s median household income is $74,100. Subarea 7 had 9,900 renter-occupied units and 2,500 owner-occupied units in 2018. Subarea 1, the southwestern portion of the city, had the highest median home values at $854,000. The city has a concept study underway for theoretical redevelopments of four shopping centers in the North End. The

effort has sparked some concerns about gentrification from such groups as Sandy Springs Together and was a topic brought up by residents in a recent city program of discussions about “Inclusion and Diversity.” Mayor Rusty Paul told the consultants that he is worried about older apartment developments falling prey to gentrification. Paul asked them about the likelihood of multi-family developments in the North End being torn down for redevelopment, which would result in existing tenants losing their homes. Kash told Paul and the council that high property values and city code enforcement make it less likely that aging homes will fall into disrepair, though absentee landlords could be a worry. Kash said a developer would need to increase the number of apartments by 50%, drastically increasing housing density on the property, to make redevelopment worthwhile for investors. Just rebuilding the same number of units and increasing rent wouldn’t bring a big enough return on investments to be worthwhile.

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A hole in the sidewalk near a Dunkin’ Donuts at 6060 Roswell Road marks where a fire hydrant was knocked down by a veFamiliar sights hicle nearly a year ago and remains misscrowd the new exhibit ing. And for the last four months of 2015, at the Atlanta History if firefighters had needed water to battle a Center. Georgia Tech’s Ramblin’ blaze there, they would have found a fire Wreck holds BY DYANA BAGBY vancy. that we center stage. hydrant across the street gone as well. to let you know A billboard-re dyanabagby@ ady “I am pleased has a reporternewspapers.net Chick-fil-A cow Such long repair times and uncertain that Dunwoody protests in one are now certain corner. A few there is siginspections for the city’s 4,000 public and Eugenia Calloway feet away, a Varfacility and that for need for this flipped through sity car-hop’s tray private fire hydrants are an ongoing conpages of the 1968 in the community the hangs Cross Keys High nificant support President door of a ’63 Plymouth from a cern for Sandy Springs fire officials. Fire yearbook, glancing School Conservancy Valiant. over the photographs that need,” states to the counIt’s no surprise Rescue Chief Keith Sanders is now gearof many white a Jan. 15 letter that the items faces. But in Danny Ross in in this particular the back of ing up a tighter, more accountable inspecthe yearbook museum show she found first at cil. seem familiar. the boys’ basa new theater tion system. Step one: bringing hydrant ketball team They’re all part and then the The cost to construct cost $24.5 milof girls’ basketball Atlanta. Each inspections in-house instead of using priteam. would size was chosen same to repabout the resent some important city vate contractors, as the study states. “That’s me,” she said, pointing PHIL MOSIER lion, the feasibility PHOTOS BY the city, the exhibit’s feature of sent its feasibility has done since its smiling girl at to the curators say. Cutno breaks the far right The conservancy recently The exhibit, player Anjanice in the girls’ members varsity founding. varsity a basketball “Atlanta in 50 Council team photo. court during High School One other black study to City Objects,” which come up at the At left, Dunwoody as she heads down her home Wolverines on Jan. 15. 2016 “The was on the far girl opened Jan. 16 is expected to pack left; all the players and is and the issue High School Lady away from the to be on display and the coaches in between inspections the Miller Grove 25 meeting. through July game against were white. council’s Jan. support 10, is talks is intended Nash there done that will be “That’s when to show, in Coach Angela I had the most While Ross argues Above, Lady Wildcats with her players. what makes Atlanta its own way, Theater, he may fun, when I was playing by the SanAna Avilez, 14, renovating Brook Run over strategy basketball,” she Atlanta. for a member of PHIL MOSIER said. “I think my favorite from the council. the Danza dy Springs Calloway was battle “Dia de Losface Aztec Dance Group, uphill top, 62-37, and anfestival thing is the one of 17 students was still Reyes” came out on and family leadership, prepares for a are 8-9 King manuscript, Jamie Chatman,fire departat the Atlanta on page 22 integrated Cross a nonprofit that helps achieve financial independence, personal growth who of Every ”Woman performance The Lady Wolverines ContinuedHistory Center Tillie O’Neal-Kyles, founder The Lady Wildcats one of the “Lynwood page 15.► guest Works, Keys High School during the Day celebration at City Hall on Jan. 18. Story onwho curator a 12- 8 record. PHIL MOSIER on Jan. 10. See integrated Cross Integrators,” on page 15.► SandWilson said of the Year, at the 10th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ly 50 years ago, 2016 Humanitarian ment,” currently have the city’sAmy nearnamed additional photos Three Kings Day or attends a Rev. Keys additional photos High School nearly on the day bepart of that by graduates on page 15.► Martin Luther this season. See fore the show 50 years ago. first group of Lynwood said. of black students ers High School, The Jan. 18 program, King Jr. Day dinner and opened, as she Cross Keys High to attend an celebration honoring PHIL MOSIER and History Center all-white School and Chamblee held at Lynwood Park school in DeKalb “That way, I the 17 students exhibitions direcRecreation Center, County and now Charter High featured comments tor Dan Rooney School. See additional as the “Lynwood known know all hymade last-minute photos on page Integrators.” Reporter Newspapers firm, tweaks to the 13.► drants have exhibit. She market research is working with point- Reporter Newspapers is working with a new mobile market research firm, Atlanta-based a new mobile a new mobile ed toward a case Continued on page been touched 1Q, to survey periodically about is working with market research holding a series 12 residents of our about communities topics of state firm, of handwritten Reporter Newspapers proposed Atlanta-based 1Q, to survey residents of our communities periodically communities and have been residents of our and local interest. pages from a ask about the Reporter Newspapers periodically about 1Q, to survey In our first poll, Religious Freedom first poll, we yel- topics of state and local interest. In our first poll, we ask about the proposed our low LegislaAtlanta-based In legal is inspected.” state working we ask about pad on which in the Restoration Act with a new mobile Atlanta-based and local interest. the proposed are two the Rev. Religious Freedom Restoration Act being considered in the state Legislature. Nearly two-thirds 1Q, to survey being considered being considered Martin Luther topics of state market research That will mean be rejected. Here residents of our Restoration Act King Jr. had in the state topics of state of 200 respondents firm, said the bill should communities reactions to the writ- ture. Nearly two-thirds of 200 respondents said the bill should be rejected. Here are two Legislaand local interest. ten the acceptance Religious Freedom on page 11. ► said the bill should “more accuracy, more Religious periodically about law. Read more of 200 respondents In our first poll, local comments speech for his be rejected. Here 11. ► page on about Freedom comments local and poll the about we the it more Read 1964 adding law. ture. Nearly two-thirds more about the poll and said, ask the poll Restoration Act Page 18 reactions to Nobel Prize. “It’s about the proposed are two and local comments accountability,” Sanders ture. law. Read being considered Nearly two-thirds the original on page 11. ► manuscript.” reactions to the hands-on knowlin the state of 200 respondents will also give firefighters reactions Legislasaid the bill should to thein law. Read more Wilson and edge of where the city’s hydrants are be rejected. Here about the poll Rooney started Page 18 are two and local comments BY JOE EARLE Page 18work on the project case they need to find them in an emers.net on page 11. ► rternewspaper in Novemjoeearle@repoI’m so sick ber 2014. The proposal gency. of Georgia original idea Even having a beEven having a proposal off on the city’s hind the exhibit sick of Georgia law so looking I’m But those inspections are where the fire Even having a to sound like freedom chance Georgia to – The backwar of BY DYANA BAGBY gathering proposal of a religious crucial objects that I’m so sick than 120 people d bufof a religious freedom law department’s direct control moreThis foons. looking like backward bufof a religious freedom represent impord bufI’m ofsothe in the dyanabagby@ parks drew sick of Georgia on Jan. 12. is just reporternewspa tant themes safety devices ends. The 2,910 hydrants seems to be a step start looking like backwar library branch law pers.net seems to be a step in the or events in legalized foons. This is just seems to be a step Dunwoody’s looking by the Even having a histoto room, standdiscrimin ry – had been on city streets are actually ownedlike backward bufinto a meeting proposal ation, used in a few City officials right direction... a foons. This is just ation, right direction... to start They packed are preparing othplain legalized discrimination, right direction... in the their ideas on foons.of This Watershed er high-profi of a religious freedom voicesimple. city of Atlanta’s Department toand to look for a new city manager le museum shows is just to start If that plan. ing room only, having more considerlegalized discriminIf that having more considerlaw to replace Marie and books, such take months to isn’t city’s five-year parks plain and simple. If that having more considerManagement, which can legalized seems to be a step period. rett, who held Garas “The Smithdiscrimination, rewrite of the enough, it’sa bad bit familthe job since for sonian’s History plain and simple.bad for ation for religion, Brookhaven’s make repairs. ation for religion, period. the discussion inception. isn’t enough, it’s bad for the state plain and “chalation for religion, of America in right direction... in the Some found economically. Sanders called that situation a simple. to start If that period. isn’t enough, it’s D WOMAN A national search Continued page iar. A 34-YEAR-OL isn’t enough, the state economically. having more considerally. A 34-YEAR-OLD WOMAN went to all these of for a new city 14 not aware it’s A 44-YEAR-OL ago, we A 34-YEAR-OL lenge,” though he added he is IN SANDY SPRINGS ager was expected bad for manD WOMAN “A few years the state economic D WOMAN WHO LIVES WHO LIVES IN SANDY SPRINGS to trouThe Atlanta History ghters had firefistate ation for religion, WHO LIVES Continued on page 12 any recent fire wherethe WHO LIVES tails of a separation begin as soon as deA 44-YEAR-OLD WOMAN economic IN BROOKHAV IN SANDY SPRINGS ally. period. D WOMAN exhibition, “Atlantacenter’s between the city EN ble finding a working hydrant on a public A 44-YEAR-OL Garrett could EN WHO LIVES IN BROOKHAVEN Objects,” showcases in 50 A 44-YEAR-OL be reached. Council and A 34-YEAR-OL IN BROOKHAV unique, D WOMAN 14 D WOMAN WHO LIVES Continued on page local items like bers met behind memWHO LIVES this katana from WHO LIVES closed doors with IN BROOKHAV IN SANDY SPRINGS “The Walking and a mediation Garrett Dead” TV show. EN attorney on Jan. 20 to try to work out an agreement. Mayor John Ernst and members of City Countinued on page 14

OUT & ABOUT

law Surve om’try y: No to ‘Relig on parks Puppe ious Freed ious Freed Arts Opinions

Survey: No to ‘Relig

some feel

Center expandsvary, as under Atlanta’s they’ve been this own puppet maste e way r befor

OUT & ABOUT om’ law

Puppetry Arts Center expands under Atlanta’s own puppet master

OUTlaw Survey: No to ‘Religious Freedom’ & ABOUT

Puppetry Arts Center expand s under Atlanta’s own puppet maste r

Survey: No to ‘Relig

ious Freedom’

law

Nationwide search planned for new city manager


NOVEMBER 2020

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