NOVEMBER 2019 - Dunwoody Reporter

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NOVEMBER 2019 • VOL. 10 — NO. 11

Dunwoody Reporter Perimeter Business

Old-school bowling rolls on at Funtime Bowl

City’s $39.5M budget comes with tax break concerns

Celebrating Halloween on the Farm




Meet Troop 398, where girls take charge in what used to be Boy Scouts

Amy Sahar, a sixth-grader at Peachtree Middle, blows bubbles on the carefree day. More photos on page 28 ►



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Imagine your husband’s just been elected mayor of a very young city. You have a role, but no script. No one knows what to expect of you. Including you. As Mayor Denis Shortal prepares to end his 11 years of service to the city of Dunwoody, I spent some time with Meredy Shortal, who has been a very visible First Lady, to hear how she figured it all out. When I asked her how she felt when her husband announced he wouldn’t run for an-

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

other term, she said, “My first thought was, ‘Good thing I haven’t cut the tags off all those new clothes I just bought.’” Called a Doris Day lookalike in her college days, she sees herself now as a cross beCarol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the DunwoodySandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at

See DUNWOODY on page 30

The City Council approved a “tight” $39.5 million budget at its Oct. 28 meeting, as concerns about slowing revenue growth due in part to homeowner tax breaks are being raised by some city leaders. The budget also sets aside $50,000 to mitigate the state’s plans to build elevated toll lanes on the top end of I-285 adjacent to the Georgetown community. The city retains its 2.74 millage rate in the budget, which includes $25.6 million in the general fund for day-to-day operations. More than 30% of general fund revenue comes from property taxes, but that revenue flow is slowing due to exemptions and money to run the city is becoming tighter, according to Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki. “We are no longer in the land where we can count on 3% or 4% or 5% growth,” he told the council at its Oct. 14 meeting. “This budget has 1.2% growth [just over $23,000] in it … and other categories of revenue have limited room for growth.” Other categories include business licenses and franchise fees. The city also built in $50,000 in the city attorney’s budget to use for professional services for the Georgia Department of Transportation’s planned I-285 top end toll lanes See CITY on page 31


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2 | Community ■

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Grubb Properties is unsure when it will break ground on its massive mixed-use development in Perimeter Center nearly a year after the city approved the project, citing troubles with financing. The City Council approved in December 2018 rezoning nearly 20 acres at 41, 47 and 53 Perimeter Center East to make way for Grubb Properties’ project named the Park at Perimeter Center East. The project includes 900-condominiums, office towers and a pocket park and is planned to be built out over 10 to 15 years. But when construction will begin is unknown. “We are finishing up the conceptual phase of the project and are finding that financing continues to be one of the biggest challenges,” Paul O’Shaughnessy, Grubb’s director of development, said in a September email. Original plans for the proposed project included five residential towers with 1,200 apartments and condos, a 19-story office tower and several parking decks for the project. But strong opposition from the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and City Council to building new apartments forced Grubb Properties to only include for-sale condos. With for-sale units only, the proposed project’s financing is “completely at the whims of the market,” Andrew Rosti of Grubb told the DHA last August. Ground won’t be broken until 50 percent of the units in the first residential tower to be built are sold, Rosti said at the time.



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Light Up Dunwoody, the annual holiday tradition, returns on Nov. 24. The free event begins at 3 p.m., including a visit from Santa and live reindeer, music and dance performances, face-painting, cookie-decorating and other activities. It concludes with a tree-lighting and menorah-lighting at 5:45 p.m. In addition, the Dunwoody Police Department will be at the event collecting new, unwrapped holiday gifts for children ages newborn to 16. The event is held around the historic Cheek-Spruill House at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody roads. The event is sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and the Dunwoody Reporter.

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The city is granting a one-time opportunity for businesses to pay off lapsed occupational taxes without penalties or interest. The amnesty program runs through Nov. 22. Registered and unregistered businesses in Dunwoody must fill out occupational tax certificate applications, also known as business licenses, and pay taxes for all past due years by Nov. 22 to avoid paying penalties. For multiple years, businesses must complete a form for each year. “This program is to assist businesses that owe back taxes and bring their accounts current,” said Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki in a press release. “The city also wants to hear from those that are no longer in business, have sold the business or relocated so records can be updated.” Home-based businesses are also required to pay occupational taxes and are eligible for the amnesty program, Vinicki said. Forms are available the city’s website at and at Dunwoody City Hall, 4800 Ashford-Dunwoody Road. For questions or help with calculations, call 678382-6700 or email


A BP gas station and convenience store was forced to stop selling alcohol for 60 days after being cited by police this summer for selling booze to a 20-year-old buyer. The 60-day license suspension for the BP station at 4368 North Peachtree Road was recommended by City Attorney Bill Riley and approved by the city’s Alcohol License Review Board at its Sept. 12 meeting. Dunwoody Police conducted an undercover operation in July and reported the store sold alcohol to a 20-year-old person working with the department. The store was also cited in 2017 by police for selling alcohol to a minor and had its license suspended for one day. Three other businesses cited by police in July for selling alcohol to a minor were also required by the Alcohol Board to not sell alcohol temporarily.

Community | 3


Proposal to ban menorahs in city buildings draws criticism BY DYANA BAGBY

A policy that would ban Hanukkah menorahs from being displayed in city buildings is getting pushback from at least one resident who says doing so is discriminatory. But the city attorney says all religious symbols need to be banned to ensure the city does not violate the Constitution. Religious symbols on government property have been debated for decades and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in several cases on the issues. The city was hoping to avoid controversy by proposing a ban on all religious symbols from most areas in city buildings after a resident called for a Nativity scene. But the city also proposes allowing holiday trees, wreaths and Santa Claus. “All three of these have religious significance,” said Gerri Penn during public comment at the City Council’s Oct. 28 meeting. Penn, who is Jewish, explained the Christian ties to wreaths and Santa Claus and said holiday trees are really Christmas trees. “My problem is that if you are going to exclude the menorah, you should exclude the three I mentioned,” she said. She suggested the council meet with local religious leaders for more feedback before approving the policy. She also suggested allowing Kwanzaa menorahs. The council voted 5-2 to delay a decision about the policy until November. Voting in favor of deferral were Mayor Denis Shortal and Councilmembers Lynn Deutsch, John Heneghan, Tom Lambert and Pam Tallmadge. Voting no were Councilmembers Terry Nall and Jim Riticher. “This is very difficult subject and very divisive subject with our citizens,” Shortal said. The policy would ban Christian, Jewish and Muslim symbols from the common areas of City Hall and other city buildings. Employees would be able to keep religious symbols on their desks or in their offices. The issue of holiday decorations was first raised last year after resident Rick Callihan complained when the city put up a holiday tree and Hanukkah menorah in the lobby of City Hall. He told officials he wanted a Nativity scene included in the display, leading to the decision to come up with a policy. A Nativity scene is a Christian symbol depicting the birth of Jesus. Callihan renewed his request for a Nativity scene at City Hall this year in a Sept. 9 email to City Manager Eric Linton. His email was in response to the city honoring Saint Luke’s Presbyterian Church for its 50th anniversary with a proclamation. “Congrats on celebrating the 50th anniversary of St Luke’s. On the topic of religion, I’m planning earlier this year for my Nativity scene placement at City Hall. What do you need from me?” Callihan said in the email. Linton responded to Callihan letting him know the council was considering a policy in October. Callihan declined to comment about his decision to complain about last year’s holiday displays. He said in a written statement he was pleased the city was working on a policy. “Without a policy, the city could pick and choose what was displayed year-round, but I believe Dunwoody should be inclusive to all,” he said. Shortal expressed his disappointment that the policy was needed at the council’s Oct. 14 meeting. “Sometimes I think we over-legislate the world a little bit,” he said. “I understand the pros and cons, and I understand today’s world. Sometimes it gets a little much when we have to sit here and write something like this,” Shortal said. “I guess it’s the way things are today.” In 2015, a similar controversy arose when the Dunwoody Homeowners Association requested the nonprofit Dunwoody Preservation Trust to include a menorah at the Cheek-Spruill House for the annual Light Up Dunwoody event. The DHA sponsors Light Up Dunwoody and the trust owns the house. The Dunwoody Preservation Trust denied DHA’s request, saying the event was intended to be secular and that religious items could threaten their nonprofit status. In response, the DHA moved the event with a tree and menorah across the street from the house to the Dunwoody Animal Hospital’s lawn. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in some cases that municipalities with holiday displays including a Nativity scene violated the Constitution because they appeared to endorse a religion. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment bans government from endorsing religion. In other cases, lower courts have ruled religious symbols like the Ten Commandments can legally be displayed in a courthouse as a historical display. | 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody GA 30338 | 678.382.6700

November Calendar of Events 2

5 9-10 9


FREE First Saturday Dunwoody Nature Center 11 a.m.

Election Day


Polls open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Apple Cider Days

Donaldson-Bannister Farm: History Alive, Fun on the Farm, Sunset Serenade; Stephen Martin CemeteryTwilight Tour

Spruill Gallery 6-9 p.m.

Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild: Primitive Originals

North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center 10 a.m.

Walk With a Doc

Dunwoody Village Overlay District Zoning Update

Brook Run Park 9 a.m.

Vintage Pizzeria 2-4 p.m.

Dunwoody Community Garden Overwintering Plants


Holiday Artists Market Opening Night

Meteor Shower and Backyard Campout

Brook Run Park 11 a.m.

Dunwoody Nature Center 4 p.m.

Veterans Day Service Brook Run Park Veterans Memorial 10 a.m.


City Council Meeting


Town Hall Meeting


“A Nice Family Gathering”

24 28-29

City Hall 6-8 p.m.

City Hall 7 p.m.

Opening night Stage Door Players

Light Up Dunwoody Cheek-Spruill House 3-6 p.m.

Thanksgiving holiday City Hall closed

Veterans Day November 11, 2019

Dunwoody’s Annual Veterans Day Ceremony Brook Run Park Veterans Memorial 10 a.m. All invited.

4 | Education ■

Parents reject Austin Elementary redistricting options, call for more new schools BY HANNAH GRECO

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The options presented by DeKalb County Schools to redistrict the Dunwoody cluster for a new Austin Elementary just shift children around already overcrowded schools and do nothing to solve the overall problem, parents said at an Oct. 23 meeting. “We need another [new] school now,” one parent said. The new, 950-seat Austin opens in January 2020 at 5321 Roberts Drive and the new districts will be in effect in August 2020. The district originally planned to use the current Austin site at 5435 Roberts Drive, but now says it is unfeasible. In the long term, additional seats will be needed for overcrowding issues, the district says, but there are no plans or timelines for more new schools. The surrounding elementary schools currently over capacity are Chesnut, Dunwoody, Hightower and Vanderlyn. The redistricting process of changing school attendance zones could impact any of the Dunwoody Cluster elementary schools, the district says. At the Oct. 23 meeting, held at Dunwoody High School, the district presented three redistricting options. It was the second of three meetings; the first was held on Sept. 26. The first option focused on balancing enrollment across all Dunwoody cluster elementary schools. The option would move 179 Dunwoody students to Austin; 22 Vanderlyn students to Austin; 22 Dunwoody students to Vanderlyn; 43 Chesnut students to Kingsley; 65 Hightower students to Kingsley; four Hightower students to Chesnut; and 15 Chesnut students to Hightower. The first option was the least favored among parents, who said it does not seem to account for projected enrollment in 2021. That estimates the enrollment of 210 more students in Dunwoody elementary schools. “The overall plan does not address the overcrowding for the future growth of the Dunwoody cluster,” a parent said. The second option was to balance enrollment and not have any portable classrooms at Austin. The option would move 85 Dunwoody students to Austin; 1 Vanderlyn student to Austin; 22 Dunwoody students to Vanderlyn; 25 Dunwoody students to Chesnut; 43 Chesnut students to Kingsley; and 65 Hightower students to Kingsley. At the Sept. 26 meeting, the district presented the potential solution of having portable classrooms at the new school in response to overflowing populations, which parents had mixed views on. Many DeKalb schools are currently using portable classrooms either in the form of trailers to house students and teachers no longer able to fit into the main school buildings. Dunwoody parents and residents have been locked in a years-long battle with DeKalb Schools officials about the use of trailers as a solution for schools being over their capacity. But some parents said the option is the least equitable amongst the three. While the new school would have no trailers, the other schools would have to carry the burden. “There are no portables at Austin and all the other schools would have five to 11 trailers,” a parent said. The third option provided relief to Hightower by redistricting 106 students to Doraville United, the new, 950-seat elementary school opening in August 2020 in Doraville. Hightower’s enrollment is more than 750 students, over capacity by about 200. Parents’ main concern with moving children from Hightower to Doraville is that it splits the feeder schools. The students would return to the Dunwoody cluster for middle school and high school at Peachtree Middle and Dunwoody High. District 1 Board of Education member Stan Jester said the reason for the split feeder option is DeKalb Schools’ decision to redistrict only the Cross Keys and Chamblee clusters into a new Cross Keys High. “Split feeders are challenging,” Jester said. “But [the district] is trying to not feed anything else into those clusters to reduce the confusion right now.” The same option was presented at an Oct. 16 Doraville United redistricting meeting in Brookhaven and was the preferred option amongst parents. Doraville United is expected to ease overcrowded conditions at Ashford Park, Cary Reynolds, Dresden, Huntley Hills and Montgomery. Overall, parents said they were not content with any of the options because it does not eliminate the overcrowding in the Dunwoody cluster. “That is the real issue… [I]f we are not getting another school, we are not really solving anything with any of the three options,” one parent said. “It is just a ‘for now’ option,” another parent said. The first of three public input meetings about the redistricting was held Sept. 26 at Dunwoody High School. During a small group session, parents expressed concern about longer travel times and traffic. The district will explore the feedback given and present a final redistricting plan at a third meeting on Nov. 20 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Dunwoody High School, 6035 Vermack Road.

Perimeter Business | 5


Perimeter Business

Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

Fall 2019 | Inside: CBD business boom

Old-school bowling rolls on at Funtime Bowl BY DYANA BAGBY

The rumble of balls rolling down the lanes and crashing into pins together with the laughter of friends are the sounds of a night at Funtime Bowl. “This is a classic bowling experience,” said Jaqui Flynn, 33, of Lenox Park, on a recent Thursday night. Flynn was there with a crowd of people who work in the nonprofit world and bowl in the Charities of Atlanta United through Sporting Events, or CAUSE, bowling league. The overhead screens keep scores, but no one is really paying attention. Neon orange, blue, green and yellow shapes painted along the back wall reflect on the oiled bowling lanes. Pitchers of beer are on several tables. The thump of loud pop music encourages some to shake their hips. “It is always hopping here on a Saturday night and you have to wait to get a lane,” Flynn said. “I just really like the laid-back atmosphere. The food’s good and cheap.” Flynn works at the Boys & Girls Club and bowls for the Knucklers. Other teams totaling about 30 people in the league include the Carter Center’s Gutter Fingers and Trees Atlanta’s Shady Dealers. “Funtime is like the classic bowling alley,” said Duncan Ross-Kinzie, who works at the Carter Center. “It’s a little dingy, has cheap beer… You come here and all you do is bowl.” DYANA BAGBY

Continued on page 10

Trees Atlanta employee Dana Russell rolls for a strike at Funtime Bowl for her team the “Shady Dealers” as part of the Charities of Atlanta United through Sporting Events (CAUSE) bowling league for nonprofit organizations.

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Wonder chemical and confusing craze: Inside the CBD sales boom BY EVELYN ANDREWS Cannabidiol – better known as CBD – is the wonder substance of the moment, showing up everywhere from dog treats in Sandy Springs to an oil-selling booth at Perimeter Mall to craft cocktails in Buckhead. Retailers say the hemp extract can help treat pain, anxiety and insomnia. But some medical experts say the booming business causes confusion with marijuana products and that CBD needs more safety research, regulation and enforcement of existing rules. The Georgia Hemp Company, a store specializing in CBD products, opened last year at 290 Hildebrand Drive in Sandy Springs. Its sells CBD oil, as well as infusing it in gummy candy, beauty products and seltzer water, among many others. Joe Salome, the company’s managing partner, said he believes the increase in CBD use is due to people hearing anecdotal stories through the internet about how it can help with their conditions. “There’s a lot more access to knowledge and positive stories about cannabis,”

he said. Ira Katz, owner of the Little Five Points Pharmacy in Atlanta, is concerned about CBD businesses proliferating without regulation. “There are hundreds and hundreds of companies that have come out of the woodwork — in the last six months, even the last year — with all kinds of CBD products,” said Katz. “I’m leery of that,” he said. “These companies are manufacturing products without any regulation or control. I recognized the value of CBD early on, but it should be from a qualified company that does the assays -- the testing -- and one that’s regulated.” Companies have introduced a wide variety of CBD products, including candy, coffee and dog treats, but officials say that food uses are banned under little-enforced federal law. And in a time when some states are legalizing marijuana for recreation or medi

CANNABIS: A PLANT WITH RELATED STRAINS, INCLUDING THOSE KNOWN AS MARIJUANA AND HEMP Hemp: Hemp is a cousin to marijuana that contains lower levels of THC, the compound that produces a “high.” Hemp sold is required by federal law to contain an “extremely low” amount of THC – no more than 0.3%, according to the FDA. Industrial hemp and marijuana are both varieties of cannabis, but they have been bred for different uses and can be distinguished by their chemical and genetic compositions. Marijuana: Marijuana contains much more THC than hemp and can produce a “high” when used. The plant is currently illegal in Georgia, most other states and federally. CBD (cannabidiol): CBD is a chemical that occurs in cannabis; the kind sold in stores is typically an extract of the hemp plant. CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, but only when it’s above 0.3% in potency.


Joe Salome, the managing partner of The Georgia Hemp Company, explains the store’s products to a customer.

Continued on page 8

Low-THC oil: Low-THC oil is derived from the marijuana plant and contains no more than 5% THC by weight. LowTHC oil was legalized in Georgia in 2015 in a law that allows only registered users to obtain the oil for use to treat select conditions, like cancer and seizures.

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Wonder chemical and confusing craze: Inside the CBD sales boom Continued from page 6 cal uses, some experts say, the CBD craze is building off confusion about the various chemicals and plants involved.

The cannabis connection

Cannabis is a plant that contains CBD as well as THC, which is the substance that causes a “high.” Cannabis has different strains, including marijuana, known for its high THC content, and hemp, which has a low-thc content. All CBD products are required by federal law to contain no more than 0.3% THC, and so CBD comes from the hemp plant, according to a Harvard Health Publishing article, one of its medical school’s publications. Dr. Vinita Singh, the director of cancer pain at the Emory Pain Center, said she believes there was a spike in interest in CBD following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of one drug containing the chemical. But that doesn’t mean all CBD products have been marked as safe, and much more research is needed into long-term effects of using the chemical, she said. There is no sign that CBD is habit-forming, Singh said. That makes it a

promising option for pain management, she said. But there is still a lot that is not known about CBD, including how safe it is, Singh said. “It has the potential, but we’re still not sure about its effects,” she said. “There is a lot of research going on.” Dr. Cynthia Rudert, a Sandy Springs gastroenterologist, says she thinks many sellers of CBD are “cashing in” on confusion with a different substance with known medical benefits: Low-THC oil. “People are confused and think they’re interchangeable. People don’t know the difference,” said Rudert. “…You’re seeing signs pop up all over, saying, ‘Come in this gas station and buy CBD.’” Rudert said she sees many patients who use CBD oil to manage stomach and digestive issues and is authorized to prescribe low-THC oil once it becomes available. Low-THC oil comes from marijuana, not hemp, and was legalized by the state in 2015 for certain conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, cancer and seizures. Georgia residents with a registration card will be able to buy low-THC oil when it becomes available from local producers, though that could be a year or more away. When people are able to obtain the

low-THC oil in Georgia, it remains to be seen whether it will affect CBD sales. Salome at the Georgia Hemp Company doesn’t see low-THC oil as a replacement or better version than CBD because many customers are using it to relieve other problems that can’t legally be treated with the oil, he said. But many customers remain confused about the differences and laws regulating them and marijuana, he said. Salome acknowledged that claims about how CBD can help have not been proven or evaluated by the FDA. People are only relying on anecdotal information at this point, and literature distributed by Salome’s company states that its CBD products are “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition.” Adding CBD to food products is currently unlawful due to FDA regulations, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. “The state of Georgia follows the rules established by the Federal Food and Drug Administration, and FDA has been very clear that CBD is not currently permissible for inclusion in food and dietary supplements,” Commissioner Gary W. Black said in an April statement.

Julie McPeake, a state Department of Agriculture spokesperson, confirmed the practice is still illegal, but added the state department only enforces the rule when it is in a product manufactured in the state. If it is a product shipped to Georgia to be sold, the state leaves it to the FDA to regulate. “It is rampant issue at this point. There are a lot of products out there,” McPeake said. “There’s not enough enforcement capabilities.” The FDA warns that it is important to talk with a doctor before using CBD to treat a disease, as it has not been proven to be effective or safe. The agency says it is working to study the effects CBD could cause in the body, because it’s unclear what the effects are when people are using it far more widely than the single medication with CBD that the FDA has approved. The FDA also formed a working group in April to “explore potential pathways for dietary supplements and/or conventional foods containing CBD to be lawfully marketed” as interest in products containing CBD continues to grow, according to the agency’s guide. Salome confirmed that he sells food products with CBD added, but said he’s

Perimeter Business | 9

NOVEMBER 2019 ■ “not concerned” about enforcement.

Local retailers

The Georgia Hemp Company, which has a wall decorated with a design of hemp leaves, carries CBD in a wide range of forms other than the traditional oil. There’s brownie mix, bath bombs, coffee, gummy candy, kombucha, seltzer water, lotion and pills. The store also sells vape pens that allow CBD oil to be inhaled, and such supplies for pets as dog biscuits. Most of Salome’s customers use CBD to relieve anxiety, inflammation, pain or insomnia, he said. The company saw a boom in pet products around July 4, when many pet owners were looking for ways to keep their dogs calm during holiday fireworks, Salome said. He also believes the millennial generation is increasingly looking for options other than traditional pharmaceuticals. Celebrities have begun endorsing it, and

The Georgia Hemp Company sells CBD-infused gummy candy, on the left, and chocolate, right.


big box retailers like CVS and Walgreens are introducing it in stores. Mari Geier, the co-owner of Nuts ‘n Berries Healthy Market, a health store in Brookhaven that has sold CBD since 2015, said she thinks it will become increasingly important as more businesses sell CBD to pay attention to the quality of the products and “not get duped in marketing.” Some businesses use words like “full-spectrum” and “broad-spectrum,” but they don’t mean much when it comes to what the product actually is, she said. “You should not be buying CBD oil from a gas station shelf or on the internet from a business you don’t know,” she said. Geier said the store started selling CBD products in 2015 after they begin seeing a small demand, starting with one trusted supplier. The store has since expanded to carry over 30 brands and beauty products and edibles. “We thought we could help people by providing CBD,” she said.

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10 | Perimeter Business

H I G H ■


Old-school bowling rolls on at Funtime Bowl Continued from page 5

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

Funtime Bowl opened in 1958 in the Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway and thrived during the bowling industry’s golden age of the 1960s and ’70s, when millions of Americans joined leagues, professional bowlers made more money than NFL players and pro tournaments were regularly broadcast on network TV. There were approximately 12,000 bowling centers operating across the country in the mid-1960s, according to White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group. The Kansas City architecture and development firm’s research includes the bowling industry. The sport’s popularity waned beginning in the 1980s as people quit joining leagues and bowling centers began shutting down. Today, there are approximately 3,700 bowling centers in the U.S., according to White Hutchinson.

Affordability is key

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Luke Brundidge, 60, has worked at Funtime Bowl for 25 years. He started as a counter employee and is now the manager. Competitive leagues kept the center packed when he started working in 1994. “Originally, bowling was about teambuilding and camaraderie,” he said. “But then leagues started to go by the wayside.” In the early to mid-2000s, a revival of the sport was underway. Arcade games, big-screen TVs, music, strobe lights, updated chairs and tables were added to Funtime Bowl to attract new customers. “Cosmic bowling” with black lights and glow-in-the-dark balls and painted walls now happens every weekend. “You have to have it to survive,” Brundidge said. Children’s birthday parties were packaged. And the menu expanded to include craft beer and $5 well drinks. Affordability is key to Funtime Bowl’s success. Prices range from $2.75 to $4.50 per game; shoe rental ranges from $2.75 to $3.25. A plate of chicken fingers costs $6.50. For $6.75, you can get a hamburger and fries or tater tots. Owner Ellen Brown if Dunwoody said business is good and she caters to leagues to create a niche for Funtime Bowl where bowling remains the focus. One league has bowled there every Wednesday for 20 years. Her major concern is what the city of Brookhaven wants for Northeast Plaza. The city is constructing the Peachtree Creek Greenway behind the shopping center. The multiuse path that plans to eventually connect to the Atlanta BeltLine is intended by city officials to bring redevelopment to Buford Highway. City officials secretly bid on the second Amazon headquarters in 2017, paying an architectural design firm more than $45,000 to create dramatic drawings as part of a bid named “Project Passport.” The illustrations showed a major campus at Northeast Plaza and a smaller campus at Corporate Square. “I believe Brookhaven is trying to up-

scale the area,” Brown said. “I’m not sure what they’re going to do with that center.”

Before it was Funtime Bowl

When Brundidge started working at Funtime Bowl, the center was named Jim Maxey’s Tornado Lanes for an owner who purchased the center in 1990. Before then, it was named Northeast Plaza Lanes. The bowling center’s original name in 1958 was O’Neil’s Bowlerama. Maxey was a well-known competitive bowler who earned a spot in the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in 1984. The USBC is the national governing body of bowling. Brundidge said Maxey only competed regionally “because he had a business to run.” Other bowlers urged him to go national and join the Professional Bowlers Association because of his skill, but Brundidge said Maxey was dedicated to running Tornado Lanes and his other bowling businesses in Chamblee, Decatur, Fayetteville and Forest Park. “He was Mr. Bowling in the Southeast,” Brundridge said. After Maxey died, his wife sold off the businesses, Brundridge said. Ellen Brown purchased the bowling center in 2005 with her now ex-husband. The bowling center’s official name registered with the Secretary of State remains Jim Maxey’s Tornado Lanes. Joanne Taylor, 76, has worked at Funtime Bowl’s concession stand for more 20 years and cooks up pizza and pours beer three times a week. She started working there after she lost her job at the JCPenney’s department store in Northeast Plaza when it closed. “I’ve just always enjoyed working with the public,” she said Another longtime employee is Cesar Quezada, 33, who has literally worked behind the scenes for 12 years oiling and tinkering with the massive machinery behind the back wall. When a ball gets stuck, a pinspotter malfunctions or a sweep bar takes someone’s spare, Brundridge speaks into a microphone at the front counter and announces the problem to Quezada over the loudspeaker. It is almost deafening in the narrow passageway where Quezada works as balls loudly crack into pins and against the back wall of the lanes. “I’m used to it, but it’s loud,” he said. Born in Nicaragua, Quezada moved to the U.S. when he was 19. Quezada said he’d only been exposed to bowling through the TV show “The Simpsons” before he started working at Funtime Bowl. He lives on Buford Highway and was walking through Northeast Plaza in 2007 when he saw the “Bowling” sign over the doorway. Curious, he walked down the stairs and asked about a job. He was told to come in the next morning to start. He continues to walk to work.

A market for luxury lanes

The bowling industry shifted its focus

NOVEMBER 2019 ■ even further than “cosmic bowling” to become “family entertainment centers” or “boutique” bowling venues in recent years. The newer centers cater to young professionals and upper-class families with disposable income. This class of bowlers expects clean carpets, a menu with something other than fried food and their beer served in a glass. And they want options other than bowling. Stars and Strikes opened its first family entertainment center in Cumming in 2005. Its Sandy Springs location is packed with arcade rooms, laser tag, bumper cars and escape rooms. There is also a private VIP bowling room with eight lanes. At Stars and Strikes, an adult party costs $26.99 per person for two hours on the lanes. The Painted Pin in Buckhead opened in 2014 and describes itself as an “upscale boutique bar, bowling and entertainment venue” where visitors can play giant Jenga if bowling is not their game. It costs $25 per hour per lane to bowl at the Painted Pin on weekdays and $35 per hour on weekends. Shoe rental is $4.50. The menu includes wood-fired pizzas for $14 and such signature drinks as the Buckhead Betty. At Bowlmor in Chamblee on the Dunwoody border, a plate of lamb lollipops can be delivered to a lane when hunger strikes. Online reservations at Bowlmor for a party of five adults and four children begin at about $152, not including food and drinks or credit for the arcade games.

Perimeter Business | 11

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Dive-y is better for some

The trendier, high-end bowling centers are not for everyone, however. “That’s not what we want,” said Dana Russell, 26, sipping her cup of beer. “I like it here because it’s cheap and it’s fun.” “That’s not what bowling is,” Brian Marafino, 26, said. “Bowling is beer, french fries and friends. Here, it is a nice, simple, enjoyable atmosphere … the Painted Pin is extra. It’s pricey.” Mike Vinciquerra, 48, said he grew up bowling as a child of the 1970s. Funtime Bowl’s “old-school style” and cheap prices keeps him coming back. And for Mary Johnson, 45, who comes from Cobb County to bowl once a week, Funtime Bowl “has a lot character.” “Even the paintings are quaint,” she said of the center’s mural-style art. “It’s not like those more modern ones.”

LOCAL BOWLING CENTERS Bowlmor 2175 Savoy Drive Chamblee Funtime Bowl 3285 Buford Hwy in Northeast Plaza Brookhaven Stars and Strikes 8767 Roswell Road Sandy Springs The Painted Pin 737 Miami Circle NE Buckhead


12 | Home & Real Estate ■

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When you already have closet space, you can make it look better, too. “Instead of a boring 6-foot-wide wide closet with sliding doors, we made this one look like an English wardrobe closet.”


Home & Real Estate | 13

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Awkward spaces can become useful with a different door. “We have also used doors that slide up for easier access to the contents -normally this client puts her hair dryer, hair spray and other items in the area out of sight.”

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A standard pantry with large shelves can get a boost with handy pullout drawers. “[The clients] wanted a lot of open storage, but we added the pull-out drawers for snacks. They wanted their four children to be able to run in a grab snacks to pack to take with them.”



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14 | Community ■


The City Council put the brakes on passage of a proposed ordinance to add protections to cyclists and pedestrians beyond what state law requires, including fines and jail time for violators. Dunwoody City Council members voted 5-1 on Oct. 14 to defer a decision until November on the “vulnerable road user” ordinance proposed by Councilmember Tom Lambert. The vote was 5-1, with Lambert voting “no.” Councilmember Pam Tallmadge was absent. Dunwoody would be the first city in the state to have such an ordinance. The ordinance would mirror much of what the state law says when it comes to an affiliate of

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pedestrians in a crosswalk. It prohibits motorists from throwing objects at cyclists, of driving too close to try to intimidate them and of turning right in front of them. The city’s version would add enhanced penalties for violators for what would be a misdemeanor. They could be sentenced to up to six months in jail, made to pay up to a $1,000 fine and have their driver’s license suspended. The penalties could be waived if the motorist takes a court-mandated driving class. Lambert said the proposed ordinance is not meant to be punitive but to instead change behavior of motorists with such penalties. Mayor Denis Shortal said at the Oct. 14 meeting he thought the penalties were too severe, especially for first-time offenders. Teaching residents about the law would be hard, he said. Teaching the law to those passing through the city would also be a challenge, he said. Shortal also said he believed the new law if enacted could be “making criminals out of very good citizens.” State law only requires motorists to give cyclists 3 feet of space when passing them. The Dunwoody VRU ordinance was originally proposed to require commercial vehicles to give at least 6 feet of space when passing a cyclist. Most of the council balked at that request. Lambert agreed with a recommendation by Councilmember Lynn Deutsch that if the new ordinance is approved there be a 6-month public education and awareness campaign before it goes into effect.

Community | 15




An illustration of the proposed mixed-use development at 11 Ravinia Parkway in Perimeter Center includes a hotel and restaurants and retail.



The Planning Commission is again recommending approval of a project to add a hotel, restaurants and shops at 11 Ravinia Parkway in Perimeter Center after the City Council sent the project back last month for more vetting, including review of a traffic study. But the developers’ decision to reduce the project’s density by lowering the height of the hotel and retail shops to address council concerns about density and traffic was met with resistance from commissioners. Perimeter Center is where high-density, high-end projects are supposed to go, they said. “If traffic is the issue I don’t know if it’s going to be solved by reducing the density of this project,” Chair Bob Dallas said at the Planning Commission’s Oct. 15 meeting. “That to me is key point … density creates value.” The project site is now about 4 acres of a grassy hill surrounded by trees at Ashford-Dunwoody Road and I-285. The original site plan included an 8-story hotel with more than 270 rooms and four restaurant and retail buildings. Two of the retail buildings were to be 2 stories tall and the others 1 story. After hearing City Council ask questions about traffic, the developers decided to lower the hotel to 5 stories and 156 rooms and build only 1-story restaurant and retail buildings. A proposed rooftop restaurant would not be counted as a second story, according to the city. Kathy Zickert, an attorney for the developers, said her clients were trying to address City Council concerns by reducing density. “By making this smaller, we are responding to council comments,” she told the Planning Commission. “We’re kind of caught a little bit. This is the direction we thought the council wanted us to take.” The PC-2 district in Perimeter Center allows for building heights up to 30 stories, city staff said when asked by a commissioner about the density allowed in Perimeter Center. In their unanimous vote to recommend rezoning for the project, Planning Commission members voted to recommend developers go back to the original plan and build an 8-story hotel with 275 rooms and allow restaurants and retail be built up to 2 stories. The project first got the Planning Commission’s OK in July to rezone the area from office, commercial, residential (OCR) to Perimeter Center 2 (PC-2). But in September, in a surprise move, the City Council sent the project back to commissioners after learning they did not have a traffic study to consider as part of their deliberations in July. The City Council is expected to consider a first presentation of the renewed project in November and a final vote on the rezoning could come in December.

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16 | Commentary

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

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Commentary / Is paying college athletes fair or foul? The rules appear to be changing when it comes to who benefits financially from college sports. The National College Athletic Association’s board of governors has decided to allow college athletes the chance to be paid for the commercial use of their images, names and likenesses. The board adopted the change Oct. 29 after California lawmakers adopted new law called the “Fair Play To Play Act.” Under that law, California would have become the first state to allow college athletes to be paid for use of their images or identities in commercial ventures such as video games or if they sign endorsement deals. Players would not be paid by their colleges for playing in games. Before the NCAA governors’ vote, Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) planned to introduce a version of the “Fair Pay to Play” legislation in the next Georgia General Assembly. The Reporter asked Mitchell why he thought of the NCAA policy change was needed and also asked long-time Marist Football Coach Alan Chadwick for his thoughts on the subject.

An idea whose time has come When the National Collegiate Athletic Association was originally formed in 1906, with the stated goal of creating and governing eligibility Rep. Billy Mitchell (D- rules in intercolStone Mountain) repre- legiate sports, its sents District 88 in the founders could Georgia Legislature. not have contemplated that the day would come where college athletic teams would be such a revenue generator that it would sustain multi-million dollar buildings, facilities, commercial dealings, media contracts, athletic administrations, coaches, conferences and even the NCAA itself. The NCAA currently prohibits athletes, who make the entire enterprise possible, from receiving payment for competing, working with an agent or permitting the use of their name or likeness for commercial products or services, although virtually everyone around the athlete are able to

profit, and profit handsomely. Illustrative of the incongruent treatment of scholarship athletes, is the fact that there are no similar restrictions for academic scholarship students. Nothing in the rules prevents them from writing books, giving paid speeches, etc. Similarly with scholarship band students. No rules prevent them from performing in a band to work weekends, sell their music, being paid for their appearances, etc. Why the disparate treatment of scholarship athletes? Georgia and other states are replete with examples of scholarship athletes being suspended and/or having their eligibility challenged for such infractions as selling a game jersey or autographing memorabilia. Some will say that is an easily understood temptation when you place some students from impoverished backgrounds into situations where their own game jerseys and posters are available for sale in the bookstore, but they themselves cannot afford to purchase them. Some are placed in a situation where they cannot travel home and back to school on long breaks or to go to a movie with friends.

Will wonders ever cease?! I had planned to file a bill this upcoming legislative session that is modeled after California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which was recently signed into law that would allow college athletes to be compensated in certain situations. Just a few weeks ago, the NCAA was threatening legal action and bemoaned that this was a threat to amateurism in collegiate athletics. But as a result of the most recent NCAA Board of Governors meeting held in Atlanta and their unanimous vote to allow athletes to be compensated for the use of their image and likeness, it renders mine and other state’s legislative efforts unneeded! I do agree with the NCAA’s leadership that a patchwork of states law addressing this issue from various different perspectives could have created more problems. This clearly was an idea whose time has come, and am grateful to them for recognizing my legislation as part of the reason for them addressing this issue so quickly and I am therefore glad to withdraw my efforts in support of the NCAA’s efforts to do what my legislation proposed.

Amateur sports are worth saving The recent approval of the NCAA board of governors to consider allowing college athletes to be compensated for the use of their names, imAlan Chadwick is the ages and likenesshead football coach es for marketing at Marist School purposes will no doubt have ongoing ramifications on several interesting issues. First and foremost, is this a step toward a “pay for play” policy that the NCAA, the nonprofit organization that regulates college athletics, has tried to avoid for so many years? If it does indeed become the first step in that direction, then college athletics for male and female athletes could see sweeping changes in its entire landscape and structural balance. The NCAA governors were reacting to the recent passage in California of a new law allowing college athletes to receive payment for use of their images, names and

likenesses. Lawmakers in other states, including Georgia, were planning on considering similar legislation. Former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL player Tim Tebow was recently quoted as saying the California law could change the way people view college sports. “If I could support my team, support my college, support my university, that’s what it’s all about,” he said, according to various news reports. “But now we’re changing it from ‘us’ -- from being an alumni where I care, which makes college sports special -- to then, okay, it’s not about ‘us,’ it’s not about ‘we.’ It’s just about ‘me.’” But schools are not going to sit by and let others raid their states of the best athletes without some sort of response. “I know we live in a selfish culture, where it’s all about us, but we’re just adding and piling it on to that, where it changes what’s special about college football,” he said. “We turn into the NFL, where who has the most money, that’s where you go.” This type of ruling could also affect the recruiting landscape of high school athletes, although it is uncertain at this time how much and how large an effect it may

generate. Still, it there’s no doubt that some schools could view pay for endorsements as creating an unfair advantage when it comes to signing five-star athletes. Whether the potential changes are for the better or worse, only time will tell. Remuneration of college athletes is a very heated topic that is not going to be enacted easily and without much controversy. Colleges and universities make millions of dollars from the work of unpaid athletes and many people think it is only fair to compensate them for their efforts on behalf of their school. But others feel that doing so lessens the amateur status of college athletes and simply makes them paid performers like those on the professional level. Personally, I feel that this will open up a whole great magnitude of issues and problems for intercollegiate athletics. Once you let the cat out of the bag, how do you get it back in? College athletics, although not perfect by any means, has been a huge part of the fabric of American life for 150 years. The amateur status of college athletes, in my opinion, is worth saving.

Commentary | 17


In and out of the Facebook conga line I have a November birthday. You may not know this, but Facebook does, and if you follow me on FB, you’re bound to be given that information because my name will pop up in your inbox next to a birthday cake and a cheery reminder to let me know you’re thinking of me. People often note that one thing Facebook gets right is birthdays, and it’s true that this particular social network provides ample reminders to its users of the birthdates of fellow users. But, as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben once said, with great power comes great responsibility. Once you are equipped with the powerful knowledge of the birthdates of your 983 Facebook friends and friends of friends, you are faced with the responsibility of wishing all of them a happy one. And let’s face it: this takes time. Even if Facebook’s helpful algorithm created a special video of you and your birthday buddy floating on a hot air balloon over a field of flowers bursting into bloom, you still have to type a personal message and post it on the timeline, and then inevitably, you’ll start reading all the other birthday messages that your friend’s friends have left. Before you know it, your coffee’s cold and you’ve got to get back to work. And this sets the stage for my current situation. Several months ago, a friend sent me a chain letter Robin Conte lives with her cleverly disguised as a Facebook post for the literary-minded. husband in an empty nest She nominated me to post the name and cover of a favorite in Dunwoody. To contact book every day for seven days, and each day ask a friend to her or to buy her column join the challenge. It was honestly kind of her to think of me, collection, “The Best of the because I do like to read, but then paralysis of choices took Nest,” see over and I never followed through, and then I was so disappointed with myself for having broken the book-challenge chain that I was compelled to slink quietly away from Facebook, and THEN I became too embarrassed to show my cyber-self there again. But in my hiatus the birthdays amassed, compounding daily like a 30-year mortgage at 8.75%, and even though I often toyed with the idea that the occasional birthday greeting might help reduce the debt, I finally admitted that there was no hope of amortization. I had missed five months of birthday greetings and 146 notifications, and it would take me a solid 267 hours of posting to break even. So, I filed for birthday bankruptcy with Facebook. And then I began to enjoy my retreat. It was like slipping away from a Sandals resort to a quieter beach and hearing the faint strains of the conga line across the bay and being kind of glad that you’re not part of it. I ditched the conga line and spent more time with Instagram. Instagram is a no-strings attached relationship. There are no birthday reminders. There are no videos created for you that someone somewhere hopes you’ll enjoy. There is no post of you and a random neighbor spinning in a canoe together, reminding you of your FB friend anniversary. Nope. All Insta asks of you is that you scroll and like. And I scrolled and liked in the Intsa way for a couple of months, but then I began to miss my friends in the Facebook conga line, so I cha-cha-cha-ed my way back in. Now I move through my days scrolling and liking and dancing and kicking, and every so often I stop and wish a friend a happy birthday.

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18 | Commentary ■

Around Town

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

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OK, let’s get this out of the way right at the start: Yes, these girl scouts have sold cookies. Not those familiar Girl Scout cookies in their brightly colored boxes. No, these scouts raised money for their new troop by selling chocolate chip cookies and brownies they’d baked. After all, they’re not Girl Scouts. They’re scouts who happen to be girls. JOE EARLE They’re members of Members of BSA Troop 398 gather around the troop flag. They are, back row, left to right: Vivian Works, Greer Crow, Emi Troop 398, a new gathering of girls organized at Reina and Lela Ganske; front row, left to right: Emily Holman, Della Bohlen; standing at right, Laurel Anne Alexander. Northside United Methodist Church under the scouting program created by the 109-year-old Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts announced in 2017 that it would allow girls to join its iconic scouting program for youngsters aged 11 to 17. It changed the program’s name to Scouts BSA and this year, the once boys-only Boy Scouts started allowing the creation of all-girl BSA troops. In February, when the new program opened for business, Troop 398 filed for a charter. Now it counts 10 girls as members. “I think it’s awesome,” said Troop 398’s scoutmaster, Brian Bohlen, who’s also an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 298, Northside UMC’s boy scout troop. “My daughter came along and did everything my son ever did when he was Cub Scout. … She was pretty bummed when he graduated to Boy Scouts and she couldn’t do things with the boys.” But it’s 2019. Who needs boys? Now Della, Bohlen’s 13-year-old daughter, can do anything in scouting that her brother does. That includes collecting merit badges, camping and working toward the rank of Eagle Scout, the BSA’s top award, an honor only a small percentage of scouts achieve. Several of the girls in Troop 398 say the chance to be Eagles played a significant part in the allure of the BSA program. They want to be part of the first flight of girl Eagles. “It’d be cool to be one of the first girls who are Eagles,” said Greer Crow, who’s 12. “It would be cool to be one of the girls the younger girls look up to.” “It’s a big accomplishment in scouting,” said Troop 398’s senior patrol leader, Laurel Anne “L.A.” Alexander. “Especially for girls.” L.A. turns 14 this month. She said she tried Girl Scouts when she was younger, but it didn’t take. She was attracted to Troop 398 by the chance to do more camping and outdoor activities, she said as she and several other girls grilled hot dogs and roasted marshmallows over an open fire built in a pit in the dark woods behind the church. Bohlen said the troop had been on campouts eight or 10 times since it formed. “My family has always been outdoors,” L.A. said. “My dad hikes the Appalachian Trail and my brother is in scouts in a different troop. I really like camping and hiking… and cooking.” The new troop caught the attention of some dads, too. Rod Ganske said he worked all the way through the Scout program when he was boy. As an adult, he let scouting drop because he had daughters, but no sons. Then his daughter Lela, who’s 12 now, joined Troop 398. “Last year, when girls could join, I dived back in,” he said, pointing to the knot badge on his new, adult-sized scout shirt that showed he’d earned his own Eagle badge when he was young. Troop 398 joined an expansive scouting program at Northside UMC. The church’s Scout Hut, which features a large stack-stone fireplace and canoes hanging from its ceiling, also hosts meetings of a 68-member boys BSA troop, a Cub Scout pack with 157 boys and six girls, and a couple of Girl Scout groups. The boys in Troop 298 haven’t complained about sharing space with the new girls’ troop or the presence of girls in scouting, Troop 298 Scoutmaster Lee Mann said. The two troops keep their activities separate for the most part, he said, but they have held some joint merit badge classes. “At least for now, things are great,” he said. Several parents said the girls did face some boyish taunts during a regional scout gathering, but they didn’t let it bother them. They gave as good as they got. Scoutmaster Bohlen says one thing he’s noticed about Troop 398’s girls is that they’re eager to make their marks in scouting. “They’re super into ranks,” he said. “The girls have something to prove. Because they’re pioneers.”

Community | 19


Planning Commission OKs hotel, restaurants to replace bank building BY DYANA BAGBY

The closed bank building in Perimeter Center that had its 15 minutes of fame in the 2017 smash hit film “Baby Driver” could soon be replaced by a hotel, restaurants and stores. The Dunwoody Planning Commission on Oct. 15 recommended approval of a mixed-use project on approximately 3 acres at 84 Perimeter Center East, where the former bank sits, and wooded lots at 130 and 140 Perimeter Center East. The property is located across Ashford-Dunwoody Road from Perimeter Mall. The project would include a hotel up to 12 stories with 160 rooms. The development would also include an approximate 12,000 square foot retail, restaurant and commercial building fronting Ashford-Dunwoody Road; and a 2-story, 30,000 square foot building fronting Perimeter Center East. The former bank at 84 Perimeter Center East was transformed into “Perimeter Trust” in the action-packed movie “Baby Driver,” about an eclectic band of bank robContinued on page 20



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Planning Commission OKs hotel, restaurants to replace former bank Continued from page 19 bers. The “Perimeter Trust” scene included a heist that went wrong and had the getaway driver forced to drive up on the stone walls in the bank’s parking lot to escape the police. But other than that memorable moment in motion pictures, the building and property have been unused for several years. In 2008, the property was zoned by DeKalb County for a 12-story hotel and a 70,000 square foot fitness center. Branch Properties tried to revive the hotel plans two years ago and replace the fitness center with commercial and retail. Branch Properties presented its 84 Perimeter Center East plans to the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and filed a pre-application with the city in 2017, but never made an official presentation to the Planning Commission. Branch Properties is now expected to break ground early next year on a 10-acre mixed-use project just down Ashford-Dunwoody Road that includes a grocery store, restaurants and retail, and filling in the large detention pond. A new developer, JSJ Perimeter LLC, is picking up the flag to build a mixed-use project at 84 Perimeter Center East, located on the prime real estate in Perimeter Center. To do so, the developer needs major modifications to the 2008 rezoning to make room for 40,000 square feet of retail. Laurel David, attorney for JSJ Perimeter, said the hotel would be a boutique hotel, but did not reveal which one. She said there is interest by restaurants and retailers, but nothing has been nailed down yet. Conditions included as part of the rezoning request include a minimum of 20% open space, including green space and landscaping that could include a plaza area or outdoor patio. The Planning Commission is requesting the project include a crosswalk and pedestrian refuge across Perimeter Center East on the northeast corner of the property to provide a connection to Park Place shopping center where Alon’s is located. Credit unions and savings and loans offices would only be allowed on the second story of the retail building and any kind of traditional bank with a drive-through is banned. City staff reports 235 trees would be cut down for the development, including 10 specimen trees. Approximately 75 percent of the trees are pine. The project would include an 8-foot-wide street buffer, 8-foot-wide sidewalk and 16 feet of extra sidewalk width for patio dining along Ashford-Dunwoody Road. On Perimeter Center East, the project would have a 6-foot street buffer, 6-foot sidewalk and 7- to 10-foot of extra sidewalk or landscape buffer or potential patio seating. The City Council is expected to take up the first presentation of the proposed development in November.

Art & Entertainment | 21


‘Little Things’ make for a big show at the Swan Coach House Accepting New Patients! Primary Care of Brookhaven is a full-service primary care practice providing the highest quality care possible to families of the Brookhaven and the Atlanta Metro Area. Our board-certified physicians, Dr. Jennifer Burkmar and Dr. Jeffrey Reznik provide care for the whole patient, and offer a full range of family medicine services, including: • Primary Care for Patients of All Ages Including Newborns • Immunizations for Children and Adults • Acute Illness Care & Chronic Disease Management • School & Sport Physicals • Women’s Health Services • Preventative Health Consultations We take pride in serving each patient with personalized attention and care, accept most insurance plans, and offer same day appointments for sick visits.

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BY JUDITH SCHONBAK When the opening night crowd surges through the Swan Coach House Gallery red door on Nov. 14, they will be greeted by an array of more than 240 artworks filling the walls. The much-anticipated “Little Things” show is up. The “Little Things” exhibition celebrates its 20th year this holiday season. Two decades ago, the gallery’s first curator, Marianne Lambert, initiated the small works concept with a modest show of sketches from artists’ sketchbooks. It quickly expanded to include a broad array of mediums and styles to become an annual tradition which, today, draws large crowds ranging from new and veteran collectors to art lovers and gift-seekers. “It’s our biggest night of the year,” said gallery general manager Michelle Laxalt. Lambert, who retired in December 2018 and is now curator-in residence, came out of retirement to curate the 2019 show. Long active in the Atlanta art scene, she consulted her lengthy scroll of Georgia artists and invited some 120 to bring three to five pieces apiece to deck the walls. The works are a mix of paintings, drawings, mixed media, 3-D wall pieces and photography. Images may be no larger than 8 inches on any side, and, if framed, no more than a 2- to 4-inch frame. There are mini-sculptures as well. “’Little Things’ is a way not only to showcase a great variety of art by emerging, mid-career and established local artists, but also to give many artists a space to display their work and to present works affordable for the general public,” said Lambert. As pieces are sold, they are replaced by another 200-plus works waiting for their turn on the walls of the 864-square-foot gallery. Shows of small works is now a concept that is popular in many galleries during the winter holiday season. The Swan Coach House – which includes an art gallery, restaurant and gift shop -- is located at 3103 Slaton Drive, at the back of the 33-acre Atlanta History Center grounds in Buckhead. It is the original carriage house for the Edward Inman estate known for its historical Swan House mansion built in 1928, which is considered a masterpiece of renowned Atlanta architect Phillip Trammel Shutze. Edward Inman died in 1931, and his wife Emily, with family members, lived in the house until 1965. A year later, the Atlanta Historical Society acquired the house and grounds and has since maintained the home as a historic house museum and expanded the campus to include the Atlanta History Museum, Smith Family Farm House, Wood Family Cabin, Atlanta Cyclorama, Veterans Park, gardens, trails and woodlands. Enter the Forward Arts Foundation. Founded in September 1965 as a non-profit organization by 12 dedicated arts patrons and community-minded women, the group selected the carriage house as its home. The Forward Arts Foundation renovated the Swan Coach House, creating the restaurant, then considered a tearoom, and the gift shop, and opened to the public in 1967. The gallery opened in 1985 and serves as an outreach program for the Foundation. All proceeds from the Swan Coach House entities, along with several major annual fund-raising events by the Foundation -- Flea Market, Fashion Show and Swan Ball -- go to support the visual arts in Atlanta. In 1999, the organization established the annual Emerging Artist Award, now called the Edge Award, to recognize an outstanding up-and-coming artist in the greater Atlanta area. The mission of the Swan Coach House Gallery is to engage the Atlanta community through art exhibitions and educational programs, said Michelle Laxalt. “We support and promote Georgia artists and curators. “We focus on education, not the commercial aspects of a gallery, and that gives us a lot Continued on page 22

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of freedom to bring in a wide variety of shows in all mediums from paintings, photography and sculpture to textiles, ceramics, folk art, installations and more,” she said. “We can present exhibitions that are more conceptual and experimental and that are often more challenging. What makes us special is that we continue to evolve.” Laxalt is one of a four-member team of curators and gallery staff and each is an artist in her own right. Karen Tauches, former manager, is part-time creative director and curator; Carson Keith is part-time curator and assistant gallery manager; and Maria Bruckman is gallery and exhibition assistant. In addition to curating, the team develops programming for the year. In a September meeting, the curators pitch their passions for the next year’s shows and vote for what will be a good mix of exhibitions. “There are way more artists than we can include, and so much talent out there,” said Tauches. “Deciding is a big challenge.” The schedule is set for 2020, and it includes shows curated by members of the Swan Coach House Gallery curators as well as invited emerging and career curators in Georgia and artists from around metro Atlanta and the state. Adjoining the gallery, just a few steps through a doorway is the Swan Coach House Gift Shop, currently decked out in holiday array. It is chock full of decorations and ornaments along with gifts for everyone from babies, youngsters and teens to brides and grooms and everyone else. Shoppers can find jewelry, home décor, pottery, kitchenware and place settings, and there is a special section of clothing and shelves of handbags. And, of course, swans. Swans in all sizes SPECIAL Works by Leisa Rich on display at and material; more than you are likely to see the 2018 “Little Things” show. in any one place. Swans show up in the Swan Coach House Restaurant, too, in paintings and as a decorative touch atop a classic dessert favorite. The restaurant foyer is just a few steps down from the gift shop to the foyer or you can enter from outside through the red door. “We are on our third generation of family members and of bridal and baby showers,” said Jonathon Betti, general manager of the restaurant. “For many, lunch here is a tradition.” The clientele has expanded in more recent years as tour groups from around metro Atlanta as well as from out of town visit the Atlanta History Center and want to experience the Swan Coach House Restaurant. The menu is expansive and updated with seasonal items. The homemade soups and casseroles are popular, noted Betti, but the favorite, by far, even for return diners, is the classic chicken salad (secret recipe) with a frozen fruit salad and Coach House cheese straws. And that signature dessert? Chocolate mousse served in a meringue cup swathed in whipped cream with a whipped cream swan gracing the top. A word of advice: If you hope to have lunch or especially a banquet or special event S WA N C O A C H HO US E in one of the private rooms, make your reservations well ahead of time. 3130 Slaton Drive, Buckhead Holidays, especially the Christmas season are very busy, said Betti.

Art & Entertainment | 23


An artists’ haven celebrates 65 years of teaching and sharing art BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN The aptly named Art McNaughton, president of the Atlanta Artists Center, just got elected to another term as the nonprofit organization celebrates its 65th anniversary. The Reporter paid a visit to him at the AAC’s home at 2979 Grandview Avenue in Buckhead to find out about the nonprofit’s past and future. For more information, see atlantaartistscenter. org. Q. What was the genesis of the Atlanta Artists Center? A. The organization has been around since 1954 and started out as a watercolor group -just a small group of people who were living here in Buckhead trying to find different places to paint. They were renting small rooms anywhere they could, frustrated at not having a place to call home, so they formed an organization, pooled their money and eventually bought this building -- a 1920s house -- in the early ’70s. Buckhead was still pretty reasonable then. The membership started to grow. It wasn’t just watercolors anymore; they started to involve other artists, and in 1990 added studio space in the back so they could have meetings and bring in models to draw and sketch. The front part turned into the primary gallery space where they could show artwork.

you pay five dollars for the model; you don’t have to register or anything - just bring your materials and draw. You pay a small fee, $30, to submit three pieces of your work. It gets juried by someone with credentials in our industry, and we have ongoing exhibits every six weeks so you get to display your artwork in Buckhead. There are very few places you can do that. We focus on life drawing primarily, so we have live models. Another benefit is if you sell any pieces here, we take only a 30% commission, which is significant. With most galleries it’s a 50-50 split. I’m the exhibit chair and we look at everything that gets submitted, and sometimes I’m amazed at what doesn’t get chosen -- really high-quality stuff. We have another show in which we’ve already juried in all the submissions. That will go up mid-November.

Q. So is the AAC the oldest arts organization in Georgia? A. It’s a safe bet we are the oldest in the Southeast. It’s a well-kept secret. In June we had a 65th anniversary celebration. It was relatively successful, but there were people here from right down the street, our own neighbors, who had no idea what this was or who we were. Q. You are an artist yourself, right? A. Yes, I still paint, but my duties as president have cut into that a little bit. I’m hoping to change that. Q. What is the hardest part about running the show? A. It’s an all-volunteer organization, so trying to get such a diverse membership engaged... Some of them are elderly, set in their ways, then we have younger people who want to push the envelope and do things differently, so making sure everyone is marching in the same path -- that’s tough. Q. How does being a member of the AAC work, and what are some of the benefits? A. We have workshops that go on constantly. We have sketch groups five days a week:


Atlanta Artists Center president Art McNaughton.

Q. What else should people know about the AAC? A. We are open to anyone. We have a gallery that shows great artwork any time of the year. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so we do some charitable work: we are looking at bringing disabled veterans here for some drawing sessions. We also have a program that covers memberships for individuals who have the desire to attend classes but are unable to pay.

Q. What’s next? A. We are having a holiday fundraiser here on Dec. 7. Some benefactors have already donated to us, which is awesome. In January, at the W Hotel in Buckhead, we’re sending an artist over to do some demonstrations, and we will have an exhibit there. On Wednesdays there is an evening group for sketch class that comes here. I want to do more in the evenings to engage young professionals and students who can’t come in the middle of the day, so I’m going to add a Thursday night and probably a Saturday.

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Monday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. A ceremony at the Veterans Memorial, presented by the Dunwoody VFW Committee. Free. Brook Run Park, 4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody. Info:


Monday, Nov. 11, 11 a.m. The Atlanta History Center’s Veterans Day Program includes a keynote address from Rear Admiral Wendi B. Carpenter, U.S. Navy (Ret.), the first woman Navy aviator to be promoted to flag rank; a performance of the national anthem; and a presentation of the colors. Free. Atlanta History Center’s Veterans Park, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:


Monday, Nov. 11, 11:30 a.m. With keynote speaker U.S. District Court Judge J.P. Boulee, a former captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps who founded DeKalb County’s Veterans Treatment Court. Free. City Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


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children under 18. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info:


Saturday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Fine art and crafts from over 185 vendors, a children’s area, acoustic music and food vendors. Free. Chastain Park, 4469 Stella Drive, Buckhead. Info: chastainparkartsfestival. com.


Saturday, Nov. 9 and Sunday, Nov. 10 The Dunwoody Preservation Trust’s annual celebration of local history. Nov. 9 events at the Donaldson-Bannister Farm, 4831 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, include: “History Alive” presentation on frontier life, 9:30-11 a.m. (admission $5); Villagefest with historic demonstrations, crafts and games, music, artisan booths and children’s activities, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (free); and “Sunset Serenade” picnic and concert with local bands, 6-8 p.m. (free; table available for $50). The Nov. 10 event is a free twilight tour of the 1859 Stephen Martin Cemetery at 244 Periemter Center Parkway, Dunwoody, 4-5 p.m. Info:


Saturday, Nov. 9, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Over 240 vendors of handcrafted gifts, art, jewelry and artisan foods, with food and raffles. Tickets: $5 and include reusable tote bag. Marist School, 3790 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info:

Friday, Nov. 8-Sunday, Nov. 24 Performed by Act3 Productions, the musical examines how parents-to-be experience the emotional stresses and triumphs, as well as the desperate lows and the comic highs. Tickets: $16-$33. Act3 Playhouse, 6285-R Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: act3productions. com.



Saturday, Nov. 9-Sunday Nov. 10, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Sandy Springs Society market feature 90 local and regional artisans in gifts, art and food. Proceeds promote the arts, heritage, education, the environment and social services in Sandy Springs. Tickets $5. City Springs, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Thursday, Nov. 14 through Monday, Dec. 23, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Works of art and handcrafted gifts by local artists. Spruill Gallery, 4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: holidayartistsmarket.


Sunday, Nov. 17, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Annual event by the Swedish Women’s Educational Association showcases the culture and holiday traditions of Sweden with crafts, gifts, food and more, plus children’s activities and performances. Admission $2; free for

Thursday, Nov. 21- Saturday, Nov. 23, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24, 2 p.m. Oglethorpe University Theatre and RRC present Larry Kramer’s searing drama about public and private indifference to the AIDS plague and one man’s lonely fight to awaken the world to the crisis. Recommended for ages 14 and older. Free. Conant Performing Arts Center, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info: oglethorpeuniversity.thundertix. com.


Wednesday, Nov. 20, 7:30-8:30 p.m. The launch of a new student symphony, with music by Karl Jenkins, Edvard Grieg, Jean Sibelius, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Free. Oglethorpe University, Lupton Auditorium, 4484 Peachtree Rd, Brookhaven. Info:

Art & Entertainment | 25



Thursday, Nov. 21, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Peformance by Oglethorpe University’s jazz ensemble. Free. Oglethorpe University, Lupton Auditorium, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info: events.


Through November 18, 2019 This year’s Book Festival repertoire of more than 45 authors, including headlining authors such as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, Nikki R. Haley, Jodi Kantor and Adam Rippon. Prices vary. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA), 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc. org/bookfestival.


Wednesday, Nov. 6, 6:30-7:30 Author, lawyer and Sandy Springs resident R. Craig Henderson shares his second book in the “Solemn Vows” Series, a fast-paced thriller set in rural Georgia, as part of the “Titles @ Twilight” author series. Free. Heritage Sandy Springs administrative building, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info:


Tuesday, Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m. The authors discuss the story of Richard Jewell, a heroic security guard who was falsely suspected of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. Admission $10 non-members, $5 members. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:


Monday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m. Jean-Pierre, a former Obama White House

staffer and now the chief public affairs officer for, discusses her memoir with CNN Newsroom Anchor Natalie Allen. Admission $10 non-members, $5 members. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:


Nov. 19 through Jan. 14, 2020, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Works by Jamaican-born Cosmo Whyte, who currently splits his time between Montego Bay, Jamaica and Atlanta, where he is a professor at Morehouse College. Tickets: $8 Adults, $5 Students/Seniors. Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, 75 Bennett Street, Buckhead. Info:


Through Sunday, Dec. 15 Selected works from the permanent collection of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art that align with current course offerings will be exhibited, ranging from 14th century Japanese sculpture to contemporary abstract works. Tickets: $5 adults, free for children under 12. Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info:


The genealogy columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has unraveled the truth of how Wieuca Road got its name, separating myth from fact, in this presentation to the Buckhead Heritage Society. Tickets: Members $10, non-members $15. Cathedral of St. Philip, Gould Room, 2744 Peachtree Street, Buckhead. Info:


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26 | Education ■


A former student was inducted into the Riverwood International Charter High School 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 18. The ceremony was held on the school’s campus at 5900 Raider Drive in Sandy Springs. Alexis de Groot, 24, is one of the youngest people to ever be inducted in the Riverwood Hall of Fame, according to a press release. Groot was the captain and a four-year starter for the Riverwood varsity soccer team and helped them qualify for the State Playoffs 2010SPECIAL 2013, according to Riverwood Athletic AssociaAlexis de Groot at the tion President Mike McQuary. Riverwood Lady Raiders’ soccer Her accolades included Rookie of the Year, state play offs in 2013. Player of the Year and the Raider Award, McQuary says. Her senior year, Groot was named one of the state’s top eight players. She went on the play soccer at Elon University, where she was the team captain and on the All-Academic Colonial Athletic Association conference team.


Where authentic Christian mission and academic excellence aren’t mutually exclusive


Chris Brodnan.jpg From left, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Amy Jacobs presents Chris Brodnan with the 2019 Georgia Afterschool and Youth Development Leadership Award.

A Buckhead resident was recognized for her work serving Atlanta’s disadvantaged children by the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network at the second annual Georgia Afterschool and Youth Development Awards ceremony on Oct. 19. Chris Brodnan was presented with the 2019 Leadership Award. This award is given to one Georgia afterschool and youth program professional who has contributed significantly to their community, according to a press release. Brodnan is the regional program director of Horizons Atlanta, an affiliate of Horizons National, a nonprofit that provides tuition-free summer learning programs for underprivileged children. Before this role, she was the Site Director for Horizons Atlanta at Holy Innocent’s Episcopal School, according to Horizons Atlanta’s website. Brodnan’s implemented a continuous improvement strategy which resulted in a 67% improvement in literacy and a 64% improvement in reading for Horizon students, the release said. “My wish is to use my skills and knowledge to support communities most in need in ways that are most impactful and sustainable,” Brodnan said in the re-

lease. “We are honored to recognize fantastic leaders across the state,” said Katie Landes, director of GSAN. “Chris Brodnan exemplifies the kind of leadership needed in the youth development field to lead Georgia’s youth to brighter futures.” The GA ASYD initiative was created in 2012 as a partnership with by GSAN and Gwinnett United in Drug Education, Inc. to create a unified vision for afterschool and youth service programs in Georgia. To learn more about the GA ASYD initiative and awards, visit



U.S. Rep. John Lewis attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Brookhaven elementary school named for him on Oct. 4. The ceremony was held at the new school, John Robert Lewis Elementary school, 2630 Skyland Drive, Brookhaven. The 900-seat public school opened at the beginning of the school year, on Aug. 5. “I feel blessed, more than lucky, blessed. These children are beautiful and smart,” Lewis said. “They will help save America.”

Education | 27


Three Riverwood teachers honored for garden BY HANNAH GRECO

Three teachers led Sandy Springs’ Riverwood International Charter School to bringing an award-winning outdoor garden and classroom coming to fruition. The garden won the District 3 Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment award on Oct. 16. The teachers involved included Patti Lawrimore, chair of the science department; Elissa Oliver, a chef and culinary arts teacher; and Isaac Seals, a science teacher and coach. “The garden project is the consummate opportunity to bring a diverse group of students together to learn important...lessons with real-world applications, while also benefiting the school and greater Sandy Springs community,” said Lawrimore. “We are grateful to receive recognition for this project.” The garden features raised beds, herbs and annuals, vegetable plants and fruit trees and serves as an outdoor educational space for all Riverwood students. The award was given by the FCCE, a citizen advisory group appointed by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners that aims to increase awareness of environmental issues. Awards are given to those who have excelled at improving the environment within Fulton County. Due to the construction of new buildings at Riverwood, a previous outdoor garden closed in 2015. Seals and his students wrote and submitted a proposal and budget for a new garden. With support from the Riverwood Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the school’s efforts, and grants from both the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program and the Whole Kids Foundation by Whole Foods, the new, advanced garden space broke ground in May 2018. Lawrimore, Oliver and Seals worked together in conjunction with the Riverwood Foundation to seek additional funding to sustain and expand the garden, and in 2019, the garden got further grant funding from Fiskars Project Orange Thumb and Scott’s Gro More Good Grassroots.


current garden and were involved in the actual groundbreaking and building.


solving the problem by developing a solar power irrigation system and a water collection system off of the dugouts. Oliver: Keeping up with all the products that come out of the garden and keeping up with it outside of school hours. Culinary gives all compost for the garden and so there is close to zero waste. Seals: The demolition [of the original garden] created a hardship because it was done without any warning after my environmental science classes had planted their fall garden. This demolition also destroyed the irrigation system, which was not replaced in the new garden. Q: What is your favorite memory involving the garden? Lawrimore: I loved the construction phase, the kids using tools to build and layout the garden. They were so collaborative and their problem-solving skills were amazing. Oliver: The day we got our first grant and got to break ground! Seals: When my...students wrote the proposal for and designed the layout of the

Q: What is next for the garden? Lawrimore: [We] are hoping to expand into a walking trail and native plant areas and seating areas for small group instruction [and] discussing, and developing the retention pond and making the outdoor learning accessible for the entire campus. Oliver: New fall [and] winter crops and we just received another grant to expand. Seals: I expect that each class will be creative in learning about the process and how it all relates to the environment around us. Q: What do you hope the students learn from the garden? What do you think gardening teaches students? Lawrimore: I hope they get an understanding of the interconnectedness of our world: the soil, food, pollinators. Even understanding that diversity is so important for resilience and stability in an ecosystem then translating that into the human realm. Oliver: I think it teaches them time management, discipline, and where their food comes from. I hope they learn that planning, planting, growing and harvesting your food is a cool thing to do. It is econom-


From left, Chef Elyssa Oliver, Coach Isaac Seals and Science Department Chair Patti Lawrimore with the District 3 Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment award for Riverwood International Charter School’s garden.

ical and makes an impact on our Earth. Seals: The curriculum and garden teach sustainability, ownership and pride in their work, physical activity, healthy eating and changes in their lifestyle. They actually get to plant a bulb and a seed and see that grow into a plant.

BEYOND EXPECTATIONS At Galloway, students are inspired to be fearless learners, to embrace challenges, and to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

Q: How did you get involved with the garden? Lawrimore: When I started at Riverwood five years ago, there was a small garden. When construction demolished the site, we decided to scale the project up from four to 16 beds, 14 fruit trees, a pollinator garden and an [Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant] raised garden annex. Oliver: We had the idea to collaborate...and create a farm-to-table experience. Seals: Lori Leech, Riverwood’s first environmental science teacher, came up with the idea for the garden about 15 years ago. Lori and I worked together on the initial garden and I have been involved with it since that time. Q: What has been the biggest hardship and success with the garden? Lawrimore: We do not have a convenient water supply, but the kids are working on

Join us for Discover Galloway Open House Dec. 8, 1-3 p.m. AGE 3-GRADE 12 GALLOWAYSCHOOL.ORG

28 | Community ■

New legal opinion says Dunwoody has no authority over DeKalb Schools construction, trailers BY DYANA BAGBY

The Georgia Department of Education is the only government entity with authority over the DeKalb County School District when it comes to school construction and maintenance, including adding trailers to alleviate overcrowding, according to a legal opinion from an attorney hired by the city of Dunwoody. The new legal opinion backs up the city’s claims that it cannot force the school district to stop adding trailers to overcrowded schools as part of a yearslong war. Frustrated residents have demanded the city stop the school district from adding more trailers by enforcing

local building codes, but officials say they are handcuffed by state law from doing anything. “The Georgia Constitution does not give municipalities the power to affect local school districts, nor has the General Assembly delegated any of its power to the city,” wrote William A. White, a partner with Smith Welch Webb and White Attorneys at Law, in the Sept. 26 report to Assistant City Attorney Bill Riley. “It is my opinion that the city does not have the authority to directly compel a local school system to comply with its local ordinances,” he said. “This is the case even in the realm of the construction, maintenance and report of school facil-

ities.” Requests for comment from DeKalb Schools and the state Department of Education on the legal opinion were not immediately answered. School officials have said adding trailers is currently the most cost-effective and efficient way to alleviate severe overcrowding at Dunwoody and many other north DeKalb schools. The City Council requested the legal opinion in August. The unanimous vote to do so followed community backlash after the school district added more trailers to DHS over the Independence Day holiday week. The council in August also revoked

Dunwoody celebrates Halloween on the Farm Halloween came early to Dunwoody on Oct. 26. Scout BSA Troop 477 hosted its annual “Halloween on the Farm” at the historic Donaldson-Bannister Farm on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. Proceeds benefited Troops 477 and 1919, both based at Kingswood United Methodist Church.

A - Spider-Man’s secret identity, Tyler Baldwin, 4, enjoys a s’more at a campfire. He attended with dad Calvin (not pictured), who also wore a Spidey costume. B - Zoey Edge, 2, is all smiles while making “slime” as a Halloween fun project. C - Sofia Walker, 7, of Troop 1919 runs the obstacle course. She is also a firstgrader at Dunwoody Elementary. D - Paul Joignang, a Dunwoody High Senior, helps Tessa Nicholson, 7, takes a shot at the “Shoo Kitty” carnival toss game. Nicholson is a secondgrader at Austin Elementary. PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER





a memorandum of understanding with DeKalb Schools that requested the district obtain a city permit before adding trailers to schools. The school district did not get a permit to add the DHS trailers in July. White sent the report to Riley Sept. 26, but the city waited until Oct. 28 to release it to give the council and staff time to digest the information, according to spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher. White and his law firm were chosen based on their experience representing cities and boards of education in Georgia, according to the city. The full report is available at

Classifieds | 29




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30 | Community ■

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

Continued from page 1

munication skills to promote the non-proftween that star of music and movies and its she feels are “the backbone of the city.” newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck. “A city is a lot more than paved streets, Clearly, she’s doesn’t take herself too serisynchronized stop lights, well-positioned ously. But her role as First Lady is another bike racks and an abundance of sports matter. fields,” she said. “I’ve tried to see what each She’s been throughCarol fourNiemi campaigns duris a marketing consultant on the Dunwoodyofwho thelives major nonprofits needed and fulfill Sandy Springs line4,000 and writes about people whose lives inspire ing which she knocked on more than that need with my talents, be it writing or others. Contact her doors and has attended 90 percent of atall fundraising.” the City Council meetings during her husShe considers herself a “cheerleader” band’s tenure as a councilmember, mayor for the Stage Door Players, where she’s pro tem and mayor. been a board member for the past five “Part of my job is to listen and bring years. back comments and feelings from the com“We are entertained, educated and enmunity to Denny,” she said. thralled week after week, year after year, at “Besides supporting me, Meredy is wellthe Stage Door Players,” she said. known in her own right for her volunteer Her love of live theater shows in the anwork,” said the mayor. “She leads by her nual fundraisers she has co-organized and actions. She doesn’t just talk the walk; she all the fundraising tickets she has personwalks the walk.” ally sold. Those include 40 percent of the As a radio-and-TV major at the Univertotal tickets for last spring’s theatrical funsity of Missouri, she learned the art of comdraiser, “Murder in the Vineyard.” munication and honed it as a writer for “She’s very fiscally responsible, always the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis. As Dunlooking out for the welfare of the organizawoody’s First Lady, she’s used those com-

tion,” said Stage Door Artistic Director Robderful citizens will find their niche, roll up ert Egizio. “She’s also one of our biggest litheir sleeves and see what a great journey aisons with the city and local businesses.” volunteering can be,” she said. “I try to make sure we don’t spend monHer most visible legacy is the Duney we don’t have,” she said. woody Adopt-a-Bench program, which she To do that, she often does work that started in partnership with the city Parks paid staff would do at and Recreation Departa larger organization, ment and the Woman’s such as writing grants, Club in 2014. Since its arranging for the donainception, more than tion of new front doors 60 green, vinyl-coated and ensuring that the steel benches with percity keeps the entrance sonalized commemoraand walkway clean. tive plaques have been Beyond the performpurchased by private ing arts, she’s worked citizens and businesses for the continuing and installed throughbeautification of Dunout the city’s parks. woody as a co-organizer Meredy has not only of the Dunwoody Garpersonally sold many den Club’s major fundof the benches, but she raiser, its annual fashalso wrote the promoSPECIAL Meredy Shortal. ion show. tional brochure that is At the Dunwoody available at dunwoodWoman’s Club, she’s found no job too large The benches sell for or too small. In addition to co-organiz$1,000, their cost to the city. ing the annual home tour, she also books “The benches are for happy things -the homes, sells the tickets and serves as a celebrating an anniversary, honoring a house monitor. loved one, thanking a friend or showcasShe believes her legacy to Dunwoody is ing a business or organization,” she said. enthusiasm for contributing time and tal“They’re so Dunwoody.” ent to the community. And so Meredy. “My hope is that more of our truly won-

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Community | 31


City’s $39.5M budget comes with concerns about property tax breaks Continued from page 1 project. The elevated toll lanes would run adjacent to the Georgetown community. The $50,000 would be used to mitigate the impact on residents living there who are fearful of possible property takings for the toll lanes. Property tax revenue to fund city operations plateauing The city’s tax digest was a record $4 billion in 2019, but exemptions were also at an all-time high of $882 million, according to the budget documents. That means 21% of Dunwoody’s total value of property was exempted, decreasing overall revenue by approximately $2.4 million a year. The largest spending from the general fund goes to the Police, Public Works and Parks & Recreation departments. Each department continues to grow and require more funding, including additional staff to provide new services expected from residents since the city was founded over a decade ago. General fund tax dollars to pay for city services are plateauing in part due to the city’s homestead freeze and 1 mill exemption that have been in place since the city was incorporated, Vinicki said. In Dunwoody, homeowners average a 49% exemption in assessed values. A homeowner with a house valued at $615,000 pays just $316 a year in city taxes. Residents with a house valued at $450,000 pay only $286 in city taxes. Dunwoody homeowners who qualified for a homestead exemption pay no more in city taxes than the amount paid in 2009, based on the residential property assessment freeze exemption effective since the city’s inception. That exemption is on top of the 1 mill exemption also in place, granting qualified homeowners a 1.74 millage rate. One mill is one dollar per $1,000 dollars of assessed value. Mayor Denis Shortal did not express concern about the city’s budget and praised the city’s low taxes. “You know what folks I don’t know if you’ll find that anywhere else around here — anywhere,” Shortal said at the Oct. 14 meeting. “We’ve been very prudent, but we have to maintain a good watch on it.” The budget document includes a section titled “Future Challenges” and says that while the city has nearly $13 million in unassigned reserves, or enough to fund the city for five months, “the city must start having conversations about key challenges as it enters its second decade.” The Parks & Recreation Department’s 2020 budget is nearly $3.4 million, up from $2.8 million as parks services remain popular and demand for more activities and programming grows. The parks department budget funds the hiring of two more employees. Councilmember Terry Nall said Oct. 14

that when the city was founded, the millage rate and exemptions were set for the 2009 fiscal year when the city was not responsible for funding parks maintenance or services. “We assumed [control of] parks using the same millage that wasn’t set up to cover parks,” he said. “Parks is now at $3.5 million with a millage never designed to fund parks.” When DeKalb County voters overwhelmingly approved a 1% special local option sales tax increase in 2017 to fund transportation projects, such as paving, they also voted to eliminate the homestead option sales tax. HOST money was used by the city for many years to cover parks expenses. “HOST went away and there is no parks capital money in SPLOST,” Nall said. “It seems like that is going to be a problem for the long term.” Nall told Shortal the 2020 budget was the “tightest budget” he had seen in his eight years on the council. “And how you and the department heads pulled it out of the hat, kudos to you,” he said. “It is a tight budget,” Shortal said. But the city continues to stay in the black while making infrastructure improvements, including paving streets and stormwater repairs. “One of the things I’ve also realized is we are in a McDonald’s society, which means I want my hamburger in 30 seconds,” Shortal said. “That’s not the way we’ve decided, so far, to go, and I applaud that because I’m not a big tax guy. I like low taxes. I think we all pay enough.” The Police Department’s total budget is $9.8 million that includes the hiring of two officers funded with savings. SPLOST money will cover $494,000 needed to replace the department’s computer equipment. The Public Works Department’s budget is $9.3 million with $3.1 million in SPLOST dollars going toward paving. Other projects include adding sidewalks in various parts of the city. The budget also includes $60,000 to go the Economic Development department to start a city public art program; a 3.1% pay increase for police officers; raises for other city employees; and increasing the city’s contribution to employees’ 401 (a) plans from 10% to 11%. Another $800,000 in hotel-motel taxes would pay for parks and trails in Perimeter Center. Shortal closed his comments on the budget with a warning about hiring more staff. “One of the other things I think we really have to watch is personnel creep,” he said. “Everybody likes to have a couple more staff members and I understand that but there’s also a time when you have to make due with what you got and everyone works more efficiently and a little bit more and still get the job done.”

Honor Our Veterans Monday, November 11th 10:00am Join us in honoring those who have served our country. Victoria L. Collier, CELA, will speak about the power of generational legacy followed by a special pinning ceremony. Refreshments will be served. To RSVP, please call 404.381.1743.

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| 32


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