NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017 • VOL. 11 — NO. 24
► I-285 transit meeting is latest cross-city planning effort PAGE 4 ► Cross Keys students join immigrant book project PAGE 7
Bonding through blessings
Across Buckhead, different views, awareness of mayoral race BY EVELYN ANDREWS email@example.com
Buckhead is getting a spotlight in the Dec. 5 runoff election for the Mayor’s Office, with local resident Mary Norwood facing Keisha Lance Bottoms on the ballot. From Chastain Park to Lindbergh Center, many residents have diverse opinions about who they’ll support, while some say the campaign has turned them off from voting at all. The Reporter talked to 20 residents in the Chastain Park neighborhood, near Lenox Square and in the Lindbergh Center area. Many had not decided who they would vote for in the runoff, especially in the Lindbergh area, where several said they weren’t following the election, and a couple didn’t know an election was happening. Residents in the Chastain Park and Lenox Square area more often knew who they were voting for and expressed more support for Norwood.
Tanner, the canine companion of Savannah Bowen (not pictured), is blessed by Rev. Katie Aumann at Covenant Presbyterian Church’s “Blessing of the Animals” Nov. 12. Several other dogs were blessed during the annual event.
EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR Teaching English with an artsy eye
See ACROSS on page 22
OUT & ABOUT There’s something about sipping coffee and eating a cinnamon roll that brings back so many memories. It’s the little things! 22-YEAR-OLD WOMAN
How important are family traditions in your holiday celebrations? See COMMENTARY, Page 8
Get into the Holidays 14 Ways to Celebrate the Season
Historic store building makes endangered list BY EVELYN ANDREWS firstname.lastname@example.org
A Peachtree Road commercial building dating to 1929 is on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2018 “Places in Peril” list of threatened historic sites due to possible demolition. Currently home to Peachtree Battle Antiques & Interiors, the building at 2395 Peachtree Road was built as the National Library Bindery, a book-maker, and later housed the iconic shop Oxford Books. The developer of a planned apartment tower behind the store says it will save the building’s See HISTORIC on page 23
2 | Community
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Major path projects march forward BY EVELYN ANDREWS email@example.com
Several Buckhead multiuse path projects marched forward in recent weeks. The Atlanta City Council approved funding for paths around Chastain Park; officials broke ground on the East Paces Ferry Complete Street project; a groundbreaking date was set for sidewalks around Memorial Park; and Livable Buckhead got approval to build two segments of PATH400.
Livable Buckhead, which is spearheading PATH400, has received approval from Norfolk Southern Railway, which owns train tracks in the area, to build two trail segments: one from Miami Circle to the back of Lenox Square, and one along Adina Drive from Lindbergh Drive to Garson Drive. PATH400 is a multiuse path originally planned to run along Ga. 400 from Piedmont Road to Loridans Drive. An extension into Sandy Springs is now in the planning stages. A few minor steps are left before contactors can begin moving dirt, but construction is expected to begin on both segments by Jan. 1 and end in one year,
Starling said. Once these segments are complete, nearly three-quarters of the original Buckhead segment of PATH400 will be complete. The segment from Miami Circle to the back of Lenox Square is Starling’s personal favorite because it will bring a confluence of several transportation systems, including the Norfolk Southern railroad, Ga. 400 and the MARTA line. “You’ve got transportation nirvana going on,” she said. She also believes the ease of getting from south Buckhead to Lenox Square using PATH400 will shock people. While the Buckhead section of PATH400 nears three-fourths completion, the connection to Sandy Springs is just beginning. Officials have held public meetings to get public feedback on early plans, and Starling said the positive reactions expressed so far are a good sign and a testament to the Livable Buckhead’s public engagement during Buckhead path segments. “When we first started talking about the path there was a lot of pushback,” she said. “It’s not only a testament to the project, but of how we’ve handled public engagement. Starling said listening to residents in order to individualize parts of the trail
A map shows the planned and already constructed paths around Memorial Park. Officials will break ground Nov. 30 on paths shown in orange.
to their needs, such as different types of screening methods, has gone a long way to build trust with the community.
The City Council approved $2.2 million in funding for the extension of the Chastain Park path along West Wieuca Road. The majority of funding for the project comes from Renew Atlanta bond funds. The Chastain Park Amphitheater Trust Fund, the Chastain Park Conservancy and the PATH Foundation are also contributing to the project, which is estimated to cost $2.5 million, according to a press release. “The Chastain Park Conservancy is thrilled to invest in the implementation of the West Wieuca PATH Sidewalk Widening project,” Jennifer Richter, president of the Chastain Park Conservancy, said in the release. “Chastain Park hosts more than 2 million park users every year — from walkers and runners to kids enjoying the playground and ball fields to tennis players and swimmers — and West Wieuca Road is the park’s ‘Main Street.’” The project will widen existing West Wieuca Road sidewalks, bringing them to path standards and connecting them to the already built paths that run around Chastain Park. The path currently runs along Lake Forrest Drive and Powers Ferry Road. “I am thrilled to bring this project to fruition by working with our partners and with significant funding from Renew Atlanta Bond proceeds,” Councilmember Yolanda Adrean said in a release. “This project will complete the path, in its entirety, around Chastain Park, accommodating the thousands of walkers, runners, strollers and families that enjoy this beautiful city park and all its amenities.”
Officials will break ground Nov. 30 on the project to bring one mile of five-footwide sidewalks to Memorial Park. The project is also planned to include storm water drainage improvements, new granite curbing and invasive species mitigation. The sidewalks will be constructed along Wesley Drive and Woodward Way west of Northside Drive. The sidewalks being added will tie into the existing five-foot-wide sidewalks on Howell Mill Road, Peachtree Battle Avenue and the future five-foot-wide sidewalks on Northside Drive, according to the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy. The sidewalks are being funded with $2.8 million approved by Atlanta City Council in 2016.
East Paces Ferry Complete Street
Officials broke ground on the East Paces Ferry Complete Street project Nov. 9, signaling the beginning to the project that will bring a multiuse trail from Roxboro Road to the Gordan C. Bynum pedestrian bridge at Ga. 400. The multiuse trail will run for about seven-tenths of a mile. It will be similar to what has been constructed for PATH400 and will be located on the south side of East Paces Ferry Road along the MARTA Lenox Station property, according to Buckhead Community Improvement District, which is overseeing the project. It will also add new pedestrian signals at the Lenox MARTA station, trees and pedestrian lighting, according to a notice about the groundbreaking. The Buckhead CID committed $200,000 and the city of Atlanta committed $1 million of Renew Atlanta bond funds for the project, according to a city ordinance. BH
NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
Community | 3
Community Briefs P H IP P S P L A Z A A N N OUN CES H O T EL , OF F I C E TOWER EXPANSIO N Buckhead’s Phipps Plaza mall has announced a major expansion. Anchored by a hotel and restaurant, the expansion will also include a 12-story office tower and fitness center. Nobu will operate both the restaurant and 150-room hotel, which is planned to have a rooftop pool, corporate conference space and spa facilities. Life Time will open a 90,000-square-foot athletic facility, which would have yoga and cycle classes, a spa and a rooftop pool, Simon Property Group, the owner of the mall, announced Nov. 14. Parts of the expansion will begin to open in 2020, according to a press release. Operations of the mall, which is located on Peachtree Road near sister mall Lenox Square, will not be affected, the release said. The expansion is planned for the site of the current Belk store, which is slated to close in summer 2018. Belk spokesperson Andy Izquierdo said the decision to close the store was made before talks of the expansion and was made “on our own.” A specific date has not been set, he said.
IM P R O V EM EN TS O N TA P F OR BI TSY GRANT TENNIS CENTER The Bitsy Grant Tennis Center raised more than $33,000 in a fundraiser that will pay for new shade structures and future court improvements. Meanwhile, new tennis courts are being built as part of the Bobby Jones Golf Course renovation, which began earlier this month. The money raised at the fundraiser, which was sponsored by Friends of Bitsy Grant, will be used to finish paying for new shade structures and decks, which were built because players and spectators previously had nowhere shaded to sit, Molly Willis, the event chair, said. About 170 people attended and contributed to the fundraiser by buying event tickets or auction items, Willis said. The fundraiser’s honorary chair was William King, Jr., a founding member of the 1970s soul band The Commodores. King frequently plays at the courts and donated a gold record presented to the band to the fundraiser’s auction. United States Tennis Association President Katrina Adams, who played at the courts as a child, happened to be in Atlanta and attended the fundraiser. The USTA donated two president’s box tickets to the 2018 U.S. Open to the auction. Some courts are being relocated to make room for golf course renovations and some additional courts are being installed. In the end, the tennis center will have two more courts than they did previously — bringing the total to 25 courts, the most in metro Atlanta, said Tim Noonan, manager of Bitsy Grant. A parking deck also is being built as part of the renovations and six courts are being built on top of the parking deck, which some players have expressed concerns about, Noonan acknowledged. Building courts on top of decks draws concern from some players because they say the vibrations from moving vehicles affect the game, but Noonan said technology has improved and that should not be a concern.
P I ED M ON T R O A D WI DEN I N G P ROJECT G O ES TO B ID
The Buckhead Community Improvement District has issued a request for bids from developers for the Piedmont Road widening project, which would attempt to alleviate congestion in one of the road’s most heavily-trafficked areas. A half-mile stretch of Piedmont Road between Peachtree and Lenox roads will be widened to allow an additional lane in each direction. There are currently five lanes on Piedmont Road, two in each direction and a center turn lane. The widening would bring the total number of lanes to seven. The project is estimated to cost nearly $25 million and take 18 months to complete. About $17 million of the total cost would be used to buy right of way needed to widen the road. The CID explains in the Request for Qualifications document that “peak hour traffic congestion causes long queues and delays on Lenox Road and Piedmont Road” and the number of crashes on the road has increased in the last three years. This project is meant to alleviate those problems, as well as provide more access for pedestrians and cyclists and serve as a future connection to PATH400, the CID said in the document. The deadline for contractors to submit proposals is Dec. 8, and the CID will chose a contractor in January 2018.
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4 | Community
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I-285 transit meeting is latest cross-city planning effort BY JOHN RUCH email@example.com
A new multi-city group may form to advocate for mass transit on the top-end Perimeter following an informal Nov. 8 gathering convened by Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst. And that’s just the latest regional idea to spin out of a new four-city nonprofit called the Peachtree Gateway Partnership, which is also looking at a possible self-taxing business district in the area of Buford Highway and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.
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meet regularly” and bring in other organizations, such as the Georgia Department of Transportation and the self-taxing community improvement districts in Perimeter Center and Cobb County’s Cumberland area. Clarkson called the meeting a “great discussion” and added that “it’s always been a dream of mine to connect some form of transit, at minimum, from Doraville [MARTA] Station to Perimeter Center.” Chamblee is currently studying a possible transit circulator system for its central area, likely involving autonomous vehicles, said Clarkson. Noting a recent news item about the ride-rental company Uber’s study of flying drone taxis, Clarkson said that it is important for cities to keep up with the rapid changes in transit and transportation technology. “The Jetsons are here,” he said. “It’s no longer science fiction. It’s science fact.” Ernst said there was no presentation at the meeting, “just chatting.” While transit has long been a big topic around the Perimeter, and traffic and transportation is everyone’s top issue, these multi-city leaders had never been in the same room before, Ernst said.
Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst.
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The I-285 transit meeting, held at the Villa Christina event space in Brookhaven’s Perimeter Summit area included mayors and other city officials “from Smyrna to Tucker,” said Ernst. “It was about seeing if we had a common goal to look at transit and mobility around the region,” said Ernst. “Nothing was proposed. Nothing was foreclosed.” The multi-city gathering had no name, but the group “may be formalized” and meet again, Ernst said. Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, a strong proponent of mass transit connections in the Perimeter area, was among the attendees. “I thought it was very productive and sets in motion what could be a multicounty leadership group to focus on east/west mobility and multimodal connectivity across the Perimeter’s northern arc from Cumberland to Doraville,” Paul said in an email afterward. Paul had mentioned the gathering at the previous night’s Sandy Springs City Council meeting, where he said, “The journey of a thousand miles has to start with a step,” and praised Brookhaven for starting a conversation. Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson, another participant, said that “everybody in the group agreed that we need to
Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson.
Various forms of mass transit and alternative transportation along and around I-285 have been proposed over the years, including multiuse trails, trains and even monorails — which Paul himself recently discussed again. This year’s opening of SunTrust Park in Cobb County raised the issue again, and there is a growing sense of urgency as the state plans to widen and add ramps to the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange take more right of way. “I think it’s a concern and an opportunity,” Clarkson said of the right of way concerns. Asked whether representatives from cities in Cobb County, which has de-
NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
Community | 5
www.ReporterNewspapers.net use trail plans among the four cities so their systems will properly connect. Clarkson said the partnership also has a committee studying a possible new community improvement district, or CID, in the area between Buford Highway and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, possibly extending farther west to Dunwoody’s Georgetown area.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul.
clined MARTA service in the past, offered any different perspectives on transit, Ernst said, “Everyone’s looking for different solutions.” Officials from that area did not respond to comment requests. Doraville Interim City Manager Regina Williams-Gates attended, according to city spokesperson Robert Kelley. He said the message from Mayor Donna Pittman is that “Doraville remains supportive of any transit options put on the table.” Tucker sent City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Penkava. “From our perspective, it was a good opportunity for representatives from these cities to get together and discuss a mutual challenge,” said city spokesperson Matt Holmes. While the I-285 transit meeting was unprecedented, it spun out of discussions by another regional group, the Peachtree Gateway Partnership, according to Clarkson. A public-private group, the partnership includes the cities of Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Chamblee and Doraville, along such major businesses as Georgia Power, Epps Aviation, the Jim Ellis automotive dealership and the development firm Integral Group. Incorporated last year as a nonprofit with assistance from the Atlanta Regional Commission, the partnership is modeled on similar efforts in Gwinnett County and around Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. It’s intended to promote regional planning and economic development among the cities. The partnership’s first effort is oriented toward alternative transportation. It involves coordinating multi-
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CIDs are districts where businesses tax themselves to fund various improvements to streets, landscape or public safety. The CID concept is being studied with matching funds from Mercer University, Clarkson said. The partnership recently launched a website at PeachtreeGatewayPartnership.com.
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6 | Education
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Christine McAleer, St. Martin’s Episcopal School Christine McAleer, who has been teaching English at St. Martin’s Episcopal School for five years, traveled to Washington, D.C., the past two summers for Smithsonian American Art Museum programs, and next year will take her seventh-grade students to the museum. “Only about half of the teachers who applied were selected, so I was honored,” McAleer said of the two summer programs. Through what she learned at the programs, McAleer has integrated art into her English classes and uses programs developed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she said. She also serves as the cosponsor of the school’s literary and arts magazine, Mosaic.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I wanted to be a teacher when I was a little girl, but at college, I decided to learn as much as possible about literature and writing. Then, when my children were young, I worked part-time at the school they
attended, and the desire to teach returned. I enrolled at Mercer University and never looked back.
Q: What keeps you going year after year? A: No matter what happens outside of the classroom, family problems or the inevitable burnout we all feel at work occasionally, when the bell rings, and I close that classroom door … and turn towards those kids and think about the exciting and important and meaningful work we are about to do together, energy and happiness replace the stress, worry and fatigue. I also love to learn new ways to teach and new topics to cover.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I’m proud to teach at St. Martin’s. I’m proud of integrating art and inquiry into my curriculum,
and I’m really proud that our seventhgrade students will visit Washington, D.C., this May and tour the Smithsonian American Art Museum!
Q: What did you learn from the Smithsonian programs?
We worked with the museum’s fabulous education department and spent time daily in the galleries, practicing the routines with the artwork. I designed a very successful lesson to help the students learn and apply literary terms like plot, metaphor, setting, narrative, personification, etc., to the painting “Achelous and Hercules” by Thomas Hart Benton. The students are always really engaged, and the discussion is amazingly deep and sophisticated. Both of the institutes have helped me bring a new dimension to my teaching. The students LOVE looking at, talking about and analyzing artworks.
Q: Do you use any special programs? A: My principal, Tony Shaffer, intro-
duced me to the “Making Thinking Visible” routines created by educators at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. At the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s summer institutes, we practiced these routines and learned some additional visual thinking strategies and global thinking strategies. Basically, these routines encourage a culture of critical, creative, empathetic, and collaborative thinking in the classroom through easily implemented questioning routines that range from asking the students, “What makes you say that?” to requiring them to play “Tug-ofWar” to encourage them to explore arguments for both sides of a dilemma. I also use lots of artwork in my lessons. My students learn to “read” art and to connect it to literature, history, and their own lives.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a teacher?
A: The lure of social media and its sim-
plification of language and thought. Making reading and writing and literature relevant to my students in an increasingly inarticulate world, and teaching empathy and acceptance in our polarized society.
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What is your favorite part of teaching at St. Martin’s?
Working with my middle school colleagues. We are a close community of dedicated, innovative, excellent teachers. The administration fosters this innovation and enthusiasm through our fabulous and generous professional development program. Of course, I can’t forget our wonderful students and their supportive families!
Education | 7
NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net
Cross Keys students join immigrant experience book project BY EVELYN ANDREWS firstname.lastname@example.org
A nonprofit visited Brookhaven’s Cross Keys High School Nov. 10 to record the stories of students who immigrated to the U.S. and highlight the diversity of the community. The nonprofit, Green Card Voices, filmed students describing their experience moving to the U.S. and will later publish their stories in a book titled, “Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from an Atlanta High School.” It is scheduled to be released in April 2018. Tea Rozman Clark, the nonprofit’s executive director, said the goal of the project is to amplify the voice of immigrant students. “We want to create a system where people are empowered to tell their true story,” she said. “Once you know someone’s story, it’s harder to hate them or fear them.” Faysal Ando, a Cross Keys sophomore, who emigrated from Ethiopia 10 years ago, said he was nervous about speaking on camera and being photographed, but felt it was worth it. When people think of immigrants, they mostly think of immigrants from Mexico, but there are many people from other countries here, he said. “It’s a good way to teach people about the diversity here,” he said. “It’s for a good cause and I’m excited.” Clark interviewed Cross Keys students from more than 15 countries, including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Guatemala and Ethiopia. The three previous books have featured students from St. Paul, EVELYN ANDREWS Minneapolis and Fargo, The Green Card Voices team preps Cross Keys High Minnesota. The first two School student Saifa for her interview on Nov. 10. chapters of each book can be previewed online for free. The books cost $20 and the students featured in the books are compensated, Clark said. To view the already completed books, visit greencardvoices. com. The students’ video testimonies will also be posted on that site. Project organizers were contacted by a social work professor at Kennesaw State University, Darlene Rodriguez-Schaefer, who felt that Cross Keys would be a “natural fit” to film the stories given how many immigrant students attend the school, she said. The students are able to share their thoughts on common beliefs about immigrants to thousands of people, Rodriguez-Schaefer said. For the first time since beginning the project, Clark let a student respond in Spanish during her interview. The 15-year-old student had emigrated from Mexico a few months prior, bringing along her 4-month-old baby. This student cannot be identified because she is still in the process of receiving legal permission to reside in U.S. Her appearance in the book is contingent on her receiving legal status. Clark asked the last names of the other students not be used, but Ando provided permission to use his last name. Ando said he was excited to come to the U.S. — “a better country with better education” — and made friends quickly when he arrived. “Soccer has remained a constant in my life and I made a lot of friends through it,” he said. He said he plans to go to college and send money back to his family still in Ethiopia. “It’s really hard there right now. There’s a lot of political turmoil,” Ando said. “I got lucky coming here so I really want to help them. It’s a lot of pressure,” he said. Mario, who came to the U.S. from Mexico, said he is grateful he was able to come to the U.S. He said living in Mexico is dangerous and he probably would have dropped out of school if he still lived there. “I would probably be part of a drug cartel. With the current situation, it is dangerous to be there,” he said. Aleman said he hopes to major in computer science and design video games. Saifa, who moved from Bangladesh 10 years ago, said when she found out her family was coming to the U.S., she was scared and didn’t want to move. “I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my family and friends,” she said. “We were crying almost all the time. We missed everything. Everything was so unfamiliar.” Since then, she has made friends through clubs and started a dance club. If her family stayed in Bangladesh, Saifa said she thinks she would likely be dead. “It’s dangerous to go outside, especially for ladies and girls. There is killing every day,” she said.
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8 | Community
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Survey: How important are family traditions in your holiday celebrations? When it comes to holiday celebrations, local residents like theirs seasoned with traditional family events. In a cellphone survey of 200 residents in Atlanta, Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs conducted via 1Q.com, respondents chose celebrations based on or including family traditions by 3-to-1 over ones in which family traditions played little or no role. “The best way is to be with family and friends,” one 60-yearold Atlanta man wrote. “Laughing, sharing food and enjoying one another.” Food played a big part in holiday traditions described by many respondents. “Food! It’s all about food!” a 27-year-old Atlanta woman said. And what food! There’ll be turkey, of course. Lots of turkey. It’ll come roasted, deep-fried or smoked and with belt-bust-
ing stacks of side dishes: “I love all the fixings – turkey, ham, roast oyster dressing, giblet dressing, cranberry sauce, candied yams, cornbread, corn on the cob, potato salad, collard greens, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, cheesecake, red velvet cake, carrot cake and lots and lots of different beverages,” one 45-year-old Atlanta woman wrote. But turkey won’t be the only dish adorning holiday tables this as a family tradition. There’ll also be king crab, steaks, latkes, pozole, paella, prime rib, cookies, Chinese takeout, Waffle House breakfasts, lasagna, gumbo and home-made cinnamon rolls. “There’s something about sipping coffee and eating a cinnamon roll that brings back so many memories. It’s the little things!” a 22-year-old Atlanta woman commented. Others have created traditions linked to other culinary delights. “We always have a Hanukkah party each year and it is
catered by the Varsity,” a 63-year-old Sandy Springs woman said. “A family tradition and still going strong!” Some celebrants will return to mom’s house, or a relative’s house, or go to “different events at different houses.” Others seek exotic holiday locations: New York City, Orlando, the country. “We gather in the woods,” a 20-year-old Brookhaven woman said of her family’s traditional retreat from technology and electric devices. Still others plan to celebrate in ways that blend new and old. Some want to eat turkey, watch football and nap. Others will read Christmas stories, including the story of Christmas; or sing carols; or play family board or card games; or listen to ghost stories; or devote time to “putting up an aluminum Festivus pole, like on ‘Seinfeld’ ”; or drive around to admire holiday lights; or, as one respondent put it, to perform “drunk ka-
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NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
Community | 9
raoke.” “We always cook together and then watch a holiday-themed movie,” a 36-year-old Dunwoody woman wrote. “We kick our winter holiday off the weekend after Thanksgiving and we make it look like it’s snowing inside the house.” Several respondents had made movies part of their holiday traditions. Their families’ favorites ranged from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “Die Hard” to “something picked 100 percent by the youngest member of our family.” One family, it appears, created a Christmas Day tradition of watching “Pulp Fiction” together. Respondents also cited more serious traditions highlighting the religious nature of the holidays. Some said they will attend midnight church services. “I usually don’t celebrate any holiday,” a 40-year-old Atlanta man wrote. “I cook for myself and just call my family. Other than that, I would volunteer to feed the homeless/hungry.” But most respondents said the holidays are family time. “It does not matter where we are,” a 41-year-old DeKalb County man commented, “as long as we are together.”
We have traditions, but mix in our own practices.
Family traditions play only a small role in celebrations.
Our celebration is based mostly on old family traditions.
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HERE’S WHAT SOME OTHER RESPONDENTS HAD TO SAY “Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, same food every Christmas and Thanksgiving, using the same centuries-old recipes.” – 51-year-old Atlanta man “Every Christmas morning, we go as a family to Waffle House for breakfast. All in our PJs. We have been doing this for 16 years.” – 46-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs woman
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“My family tradition is to eat spaghetti the night before Thanksgiving and to also go out to eat the night after.” – 28-year-old Sandy Springs woman “Usually for the holidays we do different Latin dishes or another country’s dish for the main meals because our workplaces will usually do a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas lunch.” – 30-year-old Sandy Springs woman
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10 | Commentary
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Commentary / GOP tax reform would help local families The House GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the first meaningful overhaul of the U.S. tax code in three decades. Today, the average American spends 17 hours completing their taxes, and our economy loses $400 billion in annual productivity as a result. Even worse, coming out of the worst recession many of us have seen in our lives, our economy continues to limp along with anemic growth and stagnant wages. But for economic growth in the 21st century, we need a tax code designed for the 21st century. The status U.S. Rep. quo is not good enough. Karen Handel The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a bold, transformative approach to tax reform that simplifies the code and reduces the tax burden on working Americans and middle-income families. The bill cleared the House Nov. 16 by a vote of 227-205, and I was proud to play a part in passing this historic legislation. H.R. 1 cuts federal income tax rates, eliminates loopholes and encourages investment in America’s economy. It replaces deductions and credits with broad tax reduction, eliminating a system that
has played favorites and distorted economic decision making for decades. Our plan is about Americans, especially low- and middle-income families, being able to keep more of their own, hard-earned money. We’re lowering federal income tax rates across the board — consolidating the existing seven tax brackets into four — while nearly doubling the standard deduction for individuals and married couples. According to Census data, the average family of four in the 6th Congressional District makes $132,066 per year. Under this bill, using the increased standard deduction, that family will take home an additional $4,658 per year. The bill also increases the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $1,600 per child and raises the credit’s annual income threshold from $110,000 to $230,000. Over 40,000 people in the 6th District already claim this credit, and even more will be able to under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. And the fact that this is a credit — rather than a deduction — means the money goes in your pocket whether you itemize or not. At the same time, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT currently impacts 26,877 filers in the 6th — almost twice the national average. Finally, our bill encourages economic growth and job creation by lowering
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small businesses’ taxes to their lowest rates since World War II. Unfortunately, those who cling to the status quo are already hard at work employing the same old scare tactics and false innuendos. Don’t fall for it. The Washington Post’s recent fact check gave Senate Democrats “four Pinocchios” for saying our plan raises taxes on Americans — its strongest possible rating. The Post wrote that anyone spreading the claim “should delete their tweets and make clear they were in error.” In the coming weeks, there will be conversations about changes to make our proposal better. One such change has already been made, restoring the adoption tax credit for families opening their homes to children from around the world. Again, some will focus on the fact that our plan eliminates most deductions in the current tax code. But, by broadly cutting rates and doubling the standard deduction, we ensure that the overwhelming majority of 6th District residents see their taxes cut — with or without individual credits and deductions. In fact, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation recently confirmed that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would cut taxes for Americans at every income level. Over the years, Washington has created special-interest loophole after special-interest loophole, creating a system that benefits those whose lawyers and accountants can best navigate and exploit the tax code. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will remove those loopholes, adding fairness to the system and making the tax code so simple that nine out of 10 Americans will be able to file their return on a form the size of a postcard. The plan isn’t perfect. Few things are. Still, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a critical step forward for families, small businesses, and for our hopes of modernizing America’s economy for the 21st century. As the House and Senate continue working on a compromise bill that can be signed into law by the President, I will remain focused on simplifying the tax code and lowering taxes on a vast majority of Americans. Our economy depends on it. Karen Handel represents Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes parts of Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. She serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
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NOTE TO READERS
The Reporter will publish one issue next month, on December 15. In addition to regular news coverage and features, the issue will contain a special section commemorating the city of Brookhaven’s fifth anniversary. BH
NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
Commentary | 11
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‘Friendsgiving’? Thanks, but no thanks. I was at the salon a few weeks ago for my seasonal haircut, engaging in mindless chit-chat with the cute young gal who was washing my hair, when she asked me about my plans for the Thanksgiving weekend. “Well, we have a pre-Thanksgiving chili night with neighbors on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” I began. She, being under 30 and thus recognizing all things “trending,” perked up and said, “Oh! You’re having a Friendsgiving!” “No,” I frowned, admitting to my own un-trendingRobin Conte is a writer ness. “It’s pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors.” and mother of four who I won’t have my fun chili night cheapened by a trendy cliché. lives in Dunwoody. She Friendsgiving, for those of you who are as un-trending can be contacted at as I am, is marketed as Thanksgiving, only better. A email@example.com. kier definition is that it’s a Thanksgiving meal ostensibly shared with people you really WANT to eat with instead of with the people you really DON’T want to eat with … or something like that. It can happen anytime during the month of November: the Wednesday before or the Friday after, the weekend after, or really any day at all except on Thanksgiving … no, it can even happen on Thanksgiving. Friendsgiving has its own invitations, Pinterest pages, Wiki page and page on Merriam-Webster.com. It has its own set of rules on Buzzfeed and The Kitchn, created by people who write for Buzzfeed and The Kitchn. (Here I digress just long enough to wholeheartedly endorse a rule listed on both sites which states that if you are assigned to bring a dish, bring it completely prepared — do not bring its components and assemble it in the host’s kitchen. Thank you, social network site writers, for validating my personal pet peeve.) Southern Living has even gotten into the game, devoting a post to Friendsgiving recipes that look suspiciously like Thanksgiving recipes. So maybe our pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors doesn’t qualify as Friendsgiving anyway, because we don’t do the traditional turkey and sides. Either way, I like our plan much better. I have enough trouble cooking one turkey a year; I don’t want to do two in one month. Besides that, it will be July, and I will still manage to discover a Tupperware container of leftover turkey or SPECIAL sweet potato casserole in the back of Robin prepares a dish of Thanks Con Carne. the freezer — I don’t need more of the same from an identical dinner. Like a Disney sidekick, a bowl of chili provides a welcome relief to the barrage of leftovers on the one end and the barrage of preparations on the other. Back to our pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors, whose names I will now reveal as Lisa and Andy. We take turns hosting and supplying the chili; Lisa makes Cincinnati-style, and I make halftime-style. We also supply kids, parents, and occasional surprise guests, and we always have a great evening, unmarred by the fact that we are practically trending — but not quite. The only other snag in our Pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors is the clunky title. I admit that “Friendsgiving” is a whole lot catchier. So what shall we call it? “Chili Night” is too generic. “No Thanks-giving” is too harsh. Thanks Con Carne? Three Alarm Neighbors? Friends Five Ways? Let me know, and I’ll start my own trend.
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Methodist Dunwoody United Gil Yates, about to begin at for his classmate Coast Indians was making a beeline A class on Pacific strode into the room, Church when a man OK.” approached. “Shuffling’sbuddy, who would not front row, center. said, as the man his “No running!” Yates is a year older than all in good fun. Yates The teasing was share his age: 91. with Perimeter Adults did but spring this name, classes reveal his 175 students taking The men are among most of whom (PALS). By Kathy for senior adults, Services education & Learning continuing the start.Dean year of providing been members from PALS is in its 25th need for of Dunwoody, have Wethe hear takes care of it all and his wife, Dot, and this kind of are 60-plus. Yates rings especially the time: less is more. The to help other people, phrase true for older “People our age want made lifelong friends.” adults who are empty nests and Yates said. “We have facing are4 ready to Continued on page fellowship,” Dot of their enjoy the lives. Intown and north metro second half many comforta Atlanta offer ble options for them. “Baby boomers have spent much working and of their lives building said Dawn Anderson their wealth for retiremen t,” , Realtor, Dorsey “As retiremen Alston Realtors. t becomes more of a reality, they plan their transition begin to to downsize. Ease and affordability of life, proximity are certainly the goals of most downsizing common boomers.” The trend of continues to grow, 55+ active adult commun ities Anderson said. well qualified “Baby boomers buyers and know are looking for.” exactly what they are Kim Isaacs, aged Avalon in Alpharet 58, said that her townhom e in ta gives her everything they and her husband want. “We had home in Johns lived in our previous Creek for 19 years. left for college, When our last we child and really didn’t decided that we wanted a change need a large house of us,” she said. for just the two
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12 | Community
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Legislators need to help end Fulton tax problems, officials say BY EVELYN ANDREWS
idents should pay their tax bills, which were sent Nov. 9, as soon as they receive them, to alleviate cash flow problems exFulton County residents’ property perienced by some jurisdictions, includtaxes will remain high next year and ing Atlanta Public Schools and the Fulton providing relief rests mostly on the County School District. shoulders of local state legislators, lo“We need those funds. We have bills to cal officials said at a Nov. 9 pay,” Meister said. Buckhead Council of NeighThe tax digest, which docborhoods meeting. uments the county’s properFulton County Commisty values, was recently rejectsioner Lee Morris, who reped by the state Department of resents Buckhead and parts Revenue, causing bills to be of Sandy Springs, and Nandelayed and school districts cy Meister, who represents to receive tax revenue months Buckhead on the Atlanta Publater than anticipated. lic Schools board, both believe The rejection prevents the state needs to step in to help Fulton from collecting propprovide tax relief, they said at erty taxes, but a judge apSPECIAL the meeting. Legislators could Lee Morris, proved a Temporary CollecFulton County extend exemptions or make tion Order, which allows the Commissioner. them more uniform, as well as county to collect taxes. allow a third party to perform the assessAlthough bills were sent Nov. 9, they ment process, Morris said. will be dated Nov. 15, in compliance with Fulton County property assessments the judge’s order, Morris said. In Atlanta, have been a source of controversy since taxes are due 45 days after bills go out. In bills went out over the summer and many the rest of the county, the deadline is 60 residents were shocked by large increasdays, pushing the due date into 2018. es in their property assessments. The bills will be based on the 2017 digest “It’s certainly been a disaster and a fisent to the Department of Revenue, which asco,” Morris said. used numbers from the 2016 digest for resiThey both also emphasized that resdential properties. Although the digest was firstname.lastname@example.org
rejected by the department, the bills will that also means commissioners do not not be altered and the amount residents have enough power to solve most probowe will not change, Morris said. lems with the process, Morris said. Commissioners voted to freeze propThe board is comprised of residents erty assessments at 2016 levels to relieve the board appoints, and Morris doesn’t residents from high increases, but the asfault them for the problems. sessments will still increase in 2018. “They did the best they could,” he said. “Arguably, what we did was One option, which would kick the can down the road for likely take General Assemanother year,” he said. bly action, would be allowing To prepare for next year the assessment process to be when residents will again see completely outsourced to a similar increases, commisthird party company, which sioners are looking at ways is the way Cobb County does to reform the assessment proits assessments, Morris said. cess, Morris said. They are Morris would also like the also preparing to send notice General Assembly to make of probable increases to resihomestead exemptions more SPECIAL dents in advance of 2018 bills uniform across cities and Nancy Meister, being sent so they are not school districts in the counAtlanta Board of shocked by the increases like ty. The income levels and ages Education District 4. they were in 2017, he said. needed to qualify for exempProperty assessments increased drations differ for different jurisdictions, matically in 2017 because assessors were leading to mistakes and confusion, Mornot increasing the assessments in line ris said. with increases in property values for sevState legislators could also create a floateral years, Morris said. ing homestead exemption, which would alThe Board of Assessors is in control of low homestead exemptions to rise at the the assessment process and, by law, comsame rate with property values, Morris said. missioners do not have input on the proTaxes effectively would not rise for residents cess. The state intended to prevent politiwith a homestead exemption even if their cians from meddling in the process, but assessed property value rose, he said.
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NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
Community | 13
Voters Guide: Atlanta City Council president
The Atlanta City Council president position is on the Dec. 5 runoff ballot. The council presidency is an at-large position elected citywide. The president appoints council committee chairs and serves as acting mayor when necessary. The Reporter asked the candidates, Felicia Moore and Alex Wan, for their biographies and positions on Buckhead issues.
Occupation: Real estate broker
Occupation: Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Emory University
Previous experience holding elected offices: Atlanta City Councilmember Other community service experience: Past member of the Board of Governors for the Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia; member of the National League of Cities; past president and current board member of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO), a constituency group of NLC, and a past chair of the NBCLEO Foundation; member of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA); cofounder and past president of the Georgia Municipal Black Caucus. What is motivating you to run for the City Council presidency? I’ve served 19 years representing the hardworking families and small businesses of northwest Atlanta, including parts of Buckhead, making our neighborhoods safer, cutting our property taxes and stabilizing our city’s economy when we needed it most. I want to do for all of Atlanta what I’ve been doing for NW Atlanta as a proven voice of reform. What role do you see Buckhead as playing in the city’s civic life? As someone who’s had the distinct honor of being a northwest Atlanta homeowner for over 30 years and representing some of the most vibrant and historic Buckhead neighborhoods for nearly 20 years, I strongly believe Buckhead is the premier Atlanta civic destination. Buckhead business leaders have ably led Atlanta’s economic growth for decades and largely contributed to Hartsfield-Jackson’s status as the world’s busiest airport and the Southeast’s largest economic engine. I see no reason to fix what isn’t broken. Are you satisfied with the Atlanta Police Department’s efforts to fight neighborhood crime? Would you suggest any other strategies? I do think there is more we can do, together. We need to fully staff out our already approved number of police officer positions, continue to fight for pay raises for our first responders so we can keep the best trained officers in Georgia working right here in Atlanta, and decrease police zone sizes so we can decrease response times. I’m also a big supporter of programs that help our police officers move in from Griffin, Lithonia and Douglasville to live in the communities they are patrolling — it helps morale, builds relationships and helps decrease crime. What is your position on the proposal for a new park capping Ga. 400 in central Buckhead? I’m known for being a stickler about costs and deadlines, so I haven’t reached a final decision on the deck park, but I really like what I’ve heard so far. As our next City Council president, I would be proud to help make the new park a reality for our families and businesses.
A Place Where You Belong
Previous experience holding elected offices: Atlanta City Councilmember, District 6, 2010-2017 Other community service experience: Leadership Atlanta, Class of 2001; Leadership DeKalb, Class of 1993, Board Chair 1999; Piedmont Park Conservancy Board, 2010-present; Olmsted Linear Park Alliance, 2010-present; Little Five Points Community Improvement District Board, 2015-present; Morningside Lenox Park Association, Board, 2008; For the Kid in All of Us (children’s charity), founder. What is motivating you to run for the City Council presidency? I want to ensure that we continue applying the tight fiscal oversight that I brought to City Council in 2010 that has led us back to solid financial footing so that we don’t make the same bad decisions as the previous council. I also want to “build the team” with the new members as quickly as possible so that we are better prepared for deliberations and are able to stand up against bad initiatives and proposals. Finally, I want to make sure that City Council creates a forum where all stakeholders have a place at the table. What role do you see Buckhead as playing in the city’s civic life? Buckhead has always and continues to play an integral role in the city’s civic life. I have always admired how the residents, business community and civic organizations have actively engaged in shaping the quality of life in the area. In many ways, it can serve as a model for other communities in the city, especially those areas that are now increasing in development/density along its commercial corridors, of how urban planning can and should be done. Are you satisfied with the Atlanta Police Department’s efforts to fight neighborhood crime? Would you suggest any other strategies? One of the first priorities must be to fully staff our police force. We continue to face challenges in recruitment and retention, and I have been working with my colleagues and the administration to address the compensation issues that have been one of the primary factors in that challenge. I also believe we need to continue building out our crime-fighting technology (security cameras and license plate readers, sensors, etc.) as support for our officers on the street. We also need to continue putting pressure on the court system with regards to helping us keep our chronic offenders off the street. What is your position on the proposal for a new park capping Ga. 400 in central Buckhead? While I think the proposal and concept is intriguing, the price tag is certainly jawdropping. I would certainly support the project provided there is a feasible way to fund it, knowing that there will be limited financial capacity on the city’s side.
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14 | Community
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Fulton chair candidates differ on leadership, tax issue BY JOHN RUCH firstname.lastname@example.org
As Robb Pitts and Keisha Waites head toward a Dec. 5 runoff election for Fulton County Commission chair, they are staking out differences on leadership styles and the property tax assessment issue. They also show different appetites for the endorsement of former candidate Gabriel Sterling, a Sandy Springs City Councilmember who topped the vote in north Fulton and most of Buckhead, but was eliminated in the Nov. 7 election. Pitts says he has the most experience, while Waites pitches herself as a more collaborative, regional leader. “I think that what differentiates me from [Waites] is my experience … my background and experience are far, far, far superior to hers,” Pitts said, noting he has served as a Fulton commissioner, Atlanta City Council president and City Councilmember chairing its finance and development committees. “So I’ve done it. I’ve been there.” Pitts added that on “image and style … there is no comparison.” That’s important, he said, because “the chairman is the face of the county.” “I see myself as a major consensus-builder and bridge-builder,” said Waites, adding that she views the chair position as a regional leader in modern metro Atlanta. Waites said that residents everywhere in Fulton “have the same desires” — fixing an “archaic, antiquated tax system,” ensuring clean air and water, and expanding MARTA. “When we fight, everybody loses,” she said, pledging to bring people together. Pitts said his experience includes “a demonstrated track record of working with elected officials up north,” such as legislation to help Sandy Springs buy parkland at a nominal rate when the city incorporated. One of those current north Fulton officials is Sterling, who said he is considering whether to endorse one of his former competitors. Sterling said he is “undecided” on whether he will endorse and “undetermined” on whether he will discuss it with either of them. Waites said she has requested Sterling’s endorsement and hopes he would join her transition team if she wins election. She said Sterling’s message was “more conservative than mine, but we are like-minded individuals” on such ideas as leading by consensus and using innovative practices.
Tr a n s f o r m y o u r s p a c e t o f i t Y O U
Pitts said he has not spoken to Sterling, but claimed to have gained support of many of Sterling’s backers. During the campaign, Sterling hammered Pitts with a TV ad showing him waving a handful of taxpayer money and filed an official complaint accusing Pitts of misreporting campaign spending.
Property tax crisis
Property tax assessments went from controversy to crisis this year. The situation began with SPECIAL surprise sharply increased assessments for many Robb Pitts. homeowners. County assessors said that merely reflected the booming real estate market’s realities, while officials widely acknowledged that increases should have happened gradually over recent years. In June, the county commission, under former Chairman John Eaves, froze assessments at 2016 levels as a stopgap measure, but the state Department of Revenue later rejected the freeze, sending school system budgets into chaos. A court order allowed tax collections to continue while a long-term solution is found. Pitts opposed the assessment freeze, while Waites expressed uncertainty about the tactic, and the candidates had different points of emphasis in dealing with the situation. “I don’t know what I would have done, SPECIAL looking back,” Waites said when asked about Keisha Waites. the assessment freezing tactic. But she expressed concern that some areas saw sharp increases while others did not, raising “equity” issues and concerns of “back-door … tax increases” when appraisals of houses go up due to expensive infill housing nearby. She said she supports limits on the size of infill housing proposed by Atlanta City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Mary Norwood. Going forward, Waites said, she wants to “completely revise the dispute and appeal process.” She noted she has some personal knowledge of the process as an owner of rental properties. Tax bills and liens on those properties became an issue after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story that Waites calls “slanted” and “mean-spirited.” She said the taxes were never left unpaid, but rather are on a repayment plan, and that most of the liens were placed when other family members owned the property. Pitts said that some of the appraisals were probably wrong, but that nothing unusual was happening. “Obviously, what I said early on and still stand by was [the situation was] a reaction to public outcry over huge increases in some cases. But property values are what they are,” he said. “I was convinced that [assessment freeze] was not going to be acceptable to the state and I turned out to be correct,” he added, saying property owners now likely face another adjustment in the first quarter of next year. However, Pitts said he believes the county needs more appraisers and “better technology” — and should consider outsourcing the services.
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NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
Community | 15
District 6’s blue flip is a numbers game, expert says BY JOHN RUCH email@example.com
While the Dec. 5 runoff election for the state Senate District 6 seat has yet to be held, one result is already certain: the district will flip to Democratic control for the first time in five years. In a surprise ending, the eight-way race ended up with Democrats Jen Jordan and Jaha Howard as the top two vote-getters. The red-to-blue flip drew surprise and concern from some local and state Republican leaders. But Hunter Hill, the last person to hold the seat, and Joseph Knippenberg, an Oglethorpe University political science professor, say the result was mostly about Republicans cannibalizing the vote. “Too many Republican candidates cost the party a seat,” said Knippenberg, noting that the Democratic candidates combined won under 50 percent of the votes. “It isn’t evidence of an even more resurgent Democratic resistance to Trumpism in affluent suburbs. It’s just an unusual result produced by unusual circumstances which tells us exactly nothing about how the race will turn out next time.” That next time comes in less than a year, as the special election only fills Hill’s unexpired term after he resigned to run for governor. Knippenberg said that, while Republicans hold the advantage in the number of voters, they should not take a regular-election win for granted in the district next year. “I’m not about to predict that Republicans should just assume that they’ll win the seat back in 2018,” he said. “A lot will depend on the energy generated by the races at the top of the ballot, and the quality of the candidates and organizations in the district.” “I don’t like the result,” Hill, a Smyrna Republican, said of the Nov. 7 special election, which shed five Republican contenders. “I wanted to make sure my constituents were well-represented, and now I don’t think they will be.” On the other hand, Hill said, he resigned the seat to focus on his gubernatorial run and ensure his constituents
could elect a replacement rather than have one appointed, and that’s what they’re doing. “The district is a very evenly split district,” Hill said when asked about the local political significance of the flip. He noted that five candidates split the Republican vote and the Democrats combined got under 50 percent, so “it becomes a math problem.” He indicated he was surprised that a Republican did not come out on top. District 6 includes southern Cobb County, a large swath of northern Buckhead, and sections of southern and central areas of Sandy Springs. The district has long been a partisan battleground. For many years, it was a Cobb-centered seat held for four terms by Democrat Doug Stoner. In a highly contentious 2011 redistricting, the Republican-led legislature redrew the district to include the Buckhead and Sandy Springs areas. Republicans said that just reflected population changes. Democrats argued it was a move to flip the district Republican and ensure a supermajority that could override vetoes and push state constitutional amendments. The seat indeed flipped Republican with Hill’s election in 2012. But it was not solidly Republican. Last year, Hill barely defeated Howard, 52 to 48 percent, in one of the electoral close calls that drew the attention of local GOP leaders. Precinct-based results in this year’s special election showed Republican candidates winning most votes in Buckhead’s single-family suburban areas. But Jordan won a plurality in central Buckhead and
Runoff election is Dec. 5 Runoff elections will be held Tuesday, Dec. 5 in major city, county and state races. All Buckhead voters can weigh in on three races: Atlanta mayor, where Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood are competing; the Atlanta City Council president, where Felicia Moore and Alex Wan are candidates; and the Fulton County Commission chair, where Robb Pitts and Keisha Waites are contending. Voters in state Senate District 6, which includes most of Buckhead, can choose between Jaha Howard and Jen Jordan. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information about your polling place and elected officials, see the Fulton County website at fultonelections.com. BH
many of the Sandy Springs precincts. The result cleared surprised many in the GOP. Several local Republican officials early on Election Night predicted a runoff between two Republicans – though each had different guesses about which two Republicans it would be. Afterward, state Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), a candidate for Georgia secretary of state, proposed that special elections be required to have a party primary. Knippenberg said the result showed how a special election “rewards campaigns with the best organizations and the most intense supporters.” He noted the low turnout — about 24,000 people voted, while Hill alone drew 42,000 votes in his win last year — and that the GOP’s total share of the vote, 50.7 percent, was similar to Hill’s winning share in 2016.
“The most intense and active GOP voters barely outnumber the most intense and active Democratic voters [in the district],” Knippenberg said. “A primary here would have helped the Republicans, as would have a strong local organization that could have discouraged one or two or three of the GOP contenders.”
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The City of Brookhaven hosts its annual Christmas tree lighting and Hanukkah display at Blackburn Park in an event featuring music, free crafts and refreshments, a hot chocolate sale hosted by local Girl Scouts, and pictures with Santa. Toys for Tots donations accepted. Free. 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info: 404-637-0508.
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Dunwoody’s Stage Door Players present a hometown celebration of the season written by award-winning Atlanta playwright Phillip DePoy and based on the writings of Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Celestine Sibley. Adults $33; seniors $30; students $22; ages 12 and under $15. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Tickets: 770-396-1726. Info: stagedoorplayers.net.
BACK TO NATURE HOLIDAY MARKET
Saturday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
More than 40 vendors of handmade and eco-friendly gifts for the holiday season will sell their wares at this Chattahoochee Nature Center event. A Holiday Market Cafe will offer sandwiches, salads and soups. Many vendors can only take cash or check and there is no ATM on site. No pets. Limited parking. Free admission day at the nature center. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: chattnaturecenter.org or 770-992-2055 x238.
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Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3, 12:30 to 5 p.m.
Covenant Presbyterian Church presents a market featuring handcrafted gifts, jewelry, home decor, Christmas decorations, fashion accessories, fair trade food products, baskets and more from around the world. Proceeds support the efforts of Ten Thousand Villages and the LaGonave Haiti Partnership. Free. Covenant Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 2461 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. Free parking is available on the top deck of the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, immediately south of the church. Info: covpresatlanta.org.
ATLANTA NATIVITY FESTIVAL
Saturday, Dec. 2, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
This fifth annual event features a display of more than 200 nativity sets and crèches from around the world, artwork dedicated to the life of Jesus Christ, a children’s craft workshop, live nativity, and a music festival featuring jazz ensembles, children’s choirs and a Christmas carol sing-along. Free. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6449 Glenridge Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: atlantanativitycelebration.org.
HOLIDAY CONCERT AND DANCE PARTY
Saturday, Dec. 2, 8 to 11 p.m. Free beginner’s dance lesson 7 p.m.
The Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association hosts the Carolina Gator Gumbo band for a concert and dance at the Dorothy Benson Center. Cajun/Creole food for sale. 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. $18; $14 active military; $5 students. Info: aczadance.org or 877-338-2420.
SWEDISH CHRISTMAS MARKET Sunday, Dec. 3, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Swedish Women’s Educational Association International showcases the culture and holiday traditions of Sweden at this event featuring Lucia processions, children’s activities and live entertainment. Swedish items for sale include baked goods, chocolates, traditional and modern handicrafts and used books. Swedish foods and drinks available. $2 adults, free for ages under 18 and for anyone wearing a Scandinavian national costume. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: atlanta.swea.org/julmarknaden.
“MORE THAN A BABY” Sunday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m.
Dunwoody United Methodist church hosts its annual family Christmas extravaganza featuring children’s choirs, youth bells and choir, and tone chimes choir. Live nativity, food truck dinner and cocoa at the church Christmas tree lot. 1548 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: 770-394-0675.
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Sunday, Dec. 3, 5 to 8 p.m., continuing daily through Dec. 31
A holiday display of miniature houses decorated by local organizations and artists and illuminated at night. The Dec. 3 opening event will feature a fire pit, food trucks and music from the Riverwood International Charter School Band, the Ridgeview Charter Chamber Orchestra, and the School of Rock Atlanta House Band.
NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
Free. Heritage Sandy Springs, Entertainment Lawn, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: visitsandysprings.org.
“BELLS, BABS & BEYOND”
Friday, Dec. 8, 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The 37th annual Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus holiday concert features arrangements made famous by Barbra Streisand as well as “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.” The Handbell Choir of Morningside Presbyterian Church will join the chorus, as will a guest string quintet. $15$50. A free ice cream social follows the concert. The Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road NW, Buckhead. Info: voicesofnote.org or 404-320-1030.
Sunday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Or VeShalom Synagogue is celebrating its 103rd anniversary and hosting its 42nd Annual Hanukkah Bazaar. Guests can sample authentic Sephardic/Mediterranean cuisine and handmade delicacies and pastries. Art, jewelry, crafts and used books will be for sale, and children can explore an art and game room. $3. 1681 North Druid Hills Road, Brookhaven. Info: email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit orveshalom.org.
ENCHANTED WOODLAND WONDERS
Sunday, Dec. 10, 3 to 7 p.m.
The Chattahoochee Nature Center brings on the holidays with live reindeer, performances, crafts, reindeer games, a campfire, food trucks, and the launch of the Enchanted Woodland Trail featuring Fairy Houses and Gnome Homes. Included with admission. $10 adults; $7 seniors (65+) and students (ages 13-18); $6 children (ages 3-12); free for children under age 3. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: chattnaturecenter.org or 770-992-2055.
CHRISTMAS CONCERT AT DUNWOODY UMC Sunday, Dec. 10, 4 p.m.
The Dunwoody United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and chamber group Musica Gloria present a concert featuring Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and other orchestral works. Free. Dunwoody United Methodist Church sanctuary, 1548 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: DunwoodyUMC.org.
A BUGLER’S HOLIDAY
Sunday, Dec. 10, 5 to 8 p.m. Doors open at 4 p.m.
Out & About | 17
er beverages available for purchase. $20 Heritage Sandy Springs members; $25 non-members. Heritage Hall, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info and tickets: heritagesandysprings.org.
PERFORMANCES “HOME: AN ARTISTIC JOURNEY UNITING GALLOWAY ARTS”
Thursday, Dec. 7 to Saturday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m.
The Galloway School Arts Department presents a festival of music, theater and dance in three acts featuring more than 120 Upper Learning students in theatre, theatre tech, dance, chorus, band, orchestra, and visual art. The student-produced piece explores the students’ own concepts of home, drawing inspiration from personal accounts of teachers, parents, schoolmates and friends. All ages. Free, reservations required. Chaddick Center for the Arts, Galloway School, 215 West Wieuca Road NW, Buckhead. Tickets: gallowayschool.org.
KIDS AND FAMILIES DISCOVER NATURE LECTURE SERIES: WILDLIFE IN WINTER Sunday, Dec. 10, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Learn about some of the adaptations that allow local wildlife to survive Georgia winters and how you can make your yard a winter haven. Ages 6 and up. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. $5 individual; $10 family. Lost Corner Preserve, 7300 Brandon Mill Road, Sandy Springs. Info: 770-206-2035. Registration: registration.sandyspringsga.gov.
LEARN SOMETHING INTRODUCTION TO SCREENWRITING AND STORYTELLING Saturday, Dec. 2, 12:30 p.m.
Mark Staufer, former head of production at Universal Studios Networks and a Hollywood screenwriter and script doctor, will give tips on how to tell your story so it can be heard. Reservations required. Free. Buckhead Library, 269 Buckhead Ave. NE, Buckhead. Info: 404-814-3500.
TITLES @ TWILGHT: “AFTERMATH”
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
George Weinstein, former president of the Atlanta Writers Club, discusses his book “Aftermath,” about a fictional woman who gets tangled in the secrets of a small Georgia town when she returns there as the inheritor of her murdered father’s valuable estate. Free. Garden Room at the Williams-Payne House, 6075 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs. Info: Melissa Swindell, email@example.com or 404-851-9111 ext. 2.
Renowned jazz trumpeters Cecil Welch and Joe Gransden join forces with guest vocalist Robin Latimore for Heritage Sandy Springs’ Heritage Winter Classics. Complimentary appetizers and SUBMIT YOUR EVENT LISTING WITH US AT desserts; beer, calendar@ReporterNewspapers.net wine and oth-
Healthy Holidays!! 5 TIPS FOR OLDER ADULTS TO STAY ACTIVE AND ENGAGED DURING THE HOLIDAYS • Physical activity: Taking a walk after a hearty holiday meal is a good idea for those of any age, but it is particularly beneficial to seniors. • Healthy diet: Lean meats, such as turkey breast, serve as a healthy alternative to red meat. Other “super foods” for older adults that are beneficial in holiday meals are blueberries, flax seed, carrots, eggs, nuts and salmon. • Sharp minds: Designing holiday festivities around skill-based games such as Scrabble, checkers, backgammon or Wii, not only makes the event fun for party-goers, but it can also help seniors enhance cognitive function. • Social ties: While group activities in family homes or senior centers can be the focus of holiday celebrations, aging adults can also benefit from receiving daily calls or emails to help them feel connected to those they care about. • Calmness and Purpose: For some older adults, participating in a religious service helps them maintain a calm center and focus on their life purpose; others may prefer practices such as yoga or meditation.
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Local state judge makes Trump’s Supreme Court short list BY JOHN RUCH firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultimately, it’s your experience that matters. To be sure, we’re proud of our 29 years of experience in senior living. But, to us, what really matters is your experience at our communities. We do everything with that idea clearly in mind. So, go ahead, enjoy yourself with great social opportunities and amenities. Savor fine dining every day. And feel assured that assisted living services are always available if needed. We invite you to experience The Piedmont for yourself at a complimentary lunch and tour. Please call 404.381.1743 to schedule.
Home for the Holidays Tour of Homes Saturday, December 2nd • 12:00pm Experience our community and take a tour of our residences. Afterwards, enjoy a chef-prepared lunch and a festive gift to go! To RSVP please call 404.381.1743.
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A judge who sits on the state’s highest court and hails from Sandy Springs has made President Trump’s short list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees. Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant, speaking at a Sandy Springs Bar Association lunch days before Trump’s announcement, declined to comment on rumors that she was being considered for a federal judgeship. “I hope my future [is] continuing to serve on this court for a really long time,” she said when asked more generally about her future in government service. Grant also described her conservative judicial philosophy and how it was shaped by the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, which were committed while she worked in the White House. “I remember from those days understanding our government was JOHN RUCH under threat,” as was the U.S. ConstiGeorgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant speaks tution, she said at the Nov. 9 lunch to the Sandy Springs Bar Association Nov. 9. held at Heritage Sandy Springs. At the time of the lunch, Grant had been named in media reports as on Trump’s threeperson list of candidates to replace retiring federal Judge Frank Hull on the Atlanta-based U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and that is the rumor she declined to comment on. On Nov. 17, the White House announced that Grant was among those added to Trump’s public, 25-person list of potential candidates to fill any vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. The White House describes the list as an attempt to “Make the Judiciary Great Again,” and Trump previously used the list to nominate the newest Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch. Grant’s legal background includes clerking for a federal judge; serving in Georgia’s Attorney General’s office under Sam Olens and Chris Carr, including as solicitor general, or top trial attorney; and working in private practice. She also worked for current Gov. Nathan Deal when he was a congressman and served in President George W. Bush’s White House in domestic policy jobs. Deal appointed Grant to fill a Georgia Supreme Court vacancy last year. She took office on Jan. 1 and, along with the rest of the justices, must stand for election next year. At the Bar Association lunch, Grant spoke about her local ties. She said she is a descendant of the Burdett family, whose “milk house,” dating to around 1860 and preserved on the Heritage Sandy Springs site, is the city’s oldest unaltered structure. Grant was born at Buckhead’s Piedmont Hospital and attended The Westminster Schools before heading to Stanford Law School in California, which she jokingly described as a “foreign trip” from the conservative Georgia perspective. While working for Olens, she said, she had a “strong desire to sing the praises of Sandy Springs” as he talked so much about his home of Cobb County. Grant described her judicial philosophy as “separation of powers” and change by “democratic process rather than by judicial fiat.” “Our job is to respect what the text of the law is,” as well as jury decisions, she said. A big factor in her perspective, she said, is her service in all three branches of government at both the federal and local levels, “when you’ve been in the shoes of the person who had to make that decision.” Another big influence: the “unnatural disaster” of Sept. 11. “It affected me very deeply based on what I saw and heard that day,” said Grant, who was working in the White House’s West Wing at the time, while her husband Justin — also a Sandy Springs native — worked at the CIA. Grant recalled that even within the White House, information was scant and no one believed it was a deliberate attack until TV news showed the second plane hit the World Trade Center. “I remember being in the hall and [hearing] everyone scream,” Grant said. “I even remember hearing [then U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice saying, ‘Now we know it’s terrorism.’ ” She recalled CNN reporting that the West Wing had been evacuated, when in fact she and other staff members huddled in a basement room, holding hands and praying. Finally, she said, a Secret Service agent did evacuate them, saying, “You need to run. Ladies, take off your shoes.” Grant said the attacks reinforced her idea that the U.S. Constitution is something to defend. She said they also were followed by a time different from today’s “polarized politics.” “Such a comparatively short time ago, we all knew and believed we’re all in this together,” she said.
NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
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Across Buckhead, different views, awareness of mayoral race Continued from page 1 In the Nov. 7 general election, Norwood received the vast majority of Buckhead votes, while Bottoms received the majority of southwest Atlanta votes. All but three Buckhead precincts were won by Norwood. Bottoms won those three precincts, which were in the Lindbergh area. In recent conversations, residents there were less likely to know who they were supporting than in the Chastain and Lenox areas. DeJah Ault, a Lindbergh resident, said she isn’t worried about Buckhead’s future, and is looking for a candidate she believes will protect residents of the gentrifying West End neighborhood. “In Buckhead, everyone is cool. I’m not worried Buckhead is going to get in trouble,” said Ault, who supported Vincent Fort in the general election. “There are going to be people that are affected and someone needs to look out for them.”
PHOTOS BY EVELYN ANDREWS
DeJah Ault said neither candidate has impressed her and she remains undecided about who she will vote for.
But she says neither candidate fits the bill. Bottoms is too close to current Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration, and Norwood has not run a substantive enough
campaign, she said. She doesn’t want “I thought Aman had a clearer vision there to be a “political influence” from for what he wanted to do, but Norwood Reed’s administration, and if Bottoms is was my second choice,” he said. elected, Ault thinks that is likely to hapOne resident who lives near Chastain pen. Park said she does not think she will vote Ault said she doesn’t know much in the election, citing a disdain for politics about Norwood, saying her camand a concern that the campaigns have paign has not offered enough been presented in racial terms, not besubstance to learn about her potween candidates and their positions. sitions and her vision for Atlan“Most of what I’ve heard is just about ta. Like a couple of others in black versus white,” said the resident, who the Lindbergh area, Ault didn’t didn’t want her name published. know Norwood is a Buckhead A resident who lives near the Lindresident. bergh MARTA station said he has not deAult said she is worried cided who he will vote for in the runoff. people will vote for a candiThe resident, who did not want his name date just because they are a published, said he didn’t vote in the genwoman or are African Amerieral election because he knew it would can, and said they shouldn’t just come down to Bottoms vote for them automaticaland Norwood, ly for those reasons. but he still Sarah Culverson, hasn’t a Chastain Park resbeen ident, said she voted for Norwood in the general election and will vote for her again in the runoff. She said she felt she was the most ethical candidate in the election and would help the city remain financially stable. “I feel like I can trust her Carlos Perez said he is not planning to take care of able to vote because the political Atlanta,” she to declimate has exhausted him. said. cide which Culverson he thinks would said was excited to vote for Norwood in make the best mayor. the election and is excited to vote in the Although he lives in Buckhead, he said runoff. Norwood’s longtime ties to the communi“She is what we need to keep Atlanta ty don’t factor into his decision. strong and grow it because she knows the “For me, it’s all about moving all of Atcity and she’s been here a long time,” she lanta forward, not just where I live,” said said. the resident. Culverson said she feels Buckhead Norwood has picked up a major Buckneeds more attention than the current adhead endorsement. Sam Massell, a former ministration has given. Atlanta mayor who leads the Buckhead Carlos Perez, who lives near the BuckCoalition, has announced the organizahead border with Brookhaven, is among tion has endorsed Norwood for mayor. those saying he is not planning to vote in Massell said his group made a decision this election. He said the political climate mostly based on her reputation in the city. during last year’s presidential election He said he was confident that despite her and this year’s mayoral election has been ties to Buckhead, she would serve all the toxic. He said he hasn’t been following the city equally. Her race will also not have an election because politics have become exeffect on her serving all Atlanta residents, hausting. he said. Rob White, a Pine Hills resident, said “It boils to mostly her knowledge of the he voted for Peter Aman — another Buckcity and the city’s knowledge of her,” Mashead resident — in the general election, sell said. “She has proven herself as a beand will probably vote for Norwood in the ing sensitive to the needs of the communirunoff election because he feels Norwood ty in all decisions.” would best represent Buckhead.
NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017
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Historic store building makes endangered list Continued from page 1 historic façade, but the Georgia Trust says that isn’t certain. “Everybody takes this building for granted,” said Laura Dobson, a Peachtree Hills resident who nominated the building. “All buildings don’t need to be the Fox [Theatre] to be important and worth saving.” Mark McDonald, executive director of the Georgia Trust, said in an interview that the building is unique. “It represents a different type of building and the old Buckhead,” McDonald said. He said the organization hopes to work with the developers to ensure the building survives. The building’s owner, Branch Properties, received a permit last year from the city of Atlanta to demolish the building and construct a new apartment building. That’s the reason the Georgia Trust fears for the building and placed it on the list. The developer says it is dedicated to preserving part of the building, but its possession of a demolition permit caused preservationists to fear for the building’s future. “While Branch Properties later agreed to save an undetermined amount of the façade, nothing is certain at this point,” the Georgia Trust said in a press release. The building was designed by A. Ten Eyck Brown and Alfredo Barili, Jr., two prominent Atlanta architects, McDonald said. Brown is known for designing the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building and the Fulton County Courthouse. McDonald said the awareness created by past “Places in Peril” lists has helped save several buildings, but he acknowledged the bindery may prove hard to save because it sits on high-value land. “It would encourage the developer to build something [that] it can make more money off of,” he said. The developer that owns the property, Branch Properties, agreed in 2016 to save the building’s front section and use it for shops or restaurant space in the proposed mixed-use apartment development. Richard Lee, Branch’s executive vice president, said Branch at one point had considered abandoning that original plan, but has returned to it and will move forward with it. “Branch has gone to great lengths and expense in the design of the project to preserve the front Tudor Revival part of the National [Library] Bindery building facing Peachtree Road,” Lee said in an email. “Although we looked at the possibility of a retail project as an alternative, we are not now pursuing that use.” Branch is not planning to save any part of the back of the building, which was added to the original building in the 1950s or 1960s, Lee said. BH
Carl Freggens, a staff member at Peachtree Battle Antiques who moved to Atlanta from Pittsburgh last year, said he was surprised by the lack of historic buildings in the Atlanta. “I think it’s rather sad they don’t save more historic buildings in this city,” Freggens said. No one at the store had heard that the property was put on the list, but they were happy to hear the organization is advocating for its preservation. Donna Corrales, who operates a booth at the store, said she is happy it has been placed on the list “if it is going to help it be preserved.” Corrales said she was born and raised nearby on West Wesley Road, and often took her son to Oxford Books, which used to be in building. She doesn’t want to see one of the last historic buildings on Peachtree Road be lost, she said. “That building needs to be preserved. It is part of Buckhead’s history and it is doesn’t need to be lost or changed,” she said. “If everything is torn down we won’t have anything left to look back on.” Ray Magola, also a dealer at the store, said if the building was demolished, the
owners of the antique business likely could not find a building as perfect for an antique store again in Atlanta. “It’s sort of quirky. The wood floorboards creak, and the windows provide the perfect lighting. It’s just pretty,” Magola said. “I think it’s one of the last places that’s going to have this much character.” Wright Mitchell, founder of the Buckhead Heritage Society, a preservation organization, said the group supports the efforts of the Georgia Trust and is determining how it can help save the building. “It’s a historically significant building and it’s important to the fabric of the neighborhood,” said Mitchell, who now serves as an emeritus board member. The group is also having to determine how to help during a time when it has no executive director. Carmie McDonald, the previous direc-
tor who was hired in 2016, resigned in September to take a job as a preservation consultant. “Obviously, in a perfect world, we would have an executive director in place, but these things happen,” Mitchell said. SPECIAL
Above, A rendering shows Branch Properties’ plan for the building, which includes saving the front of the building for use as a retail or restaurant space and building an apartment tower adjacent to it.
PHOTOS BY EVELYN ANDREWS
Left, The Peachtree Battle Antiques building, which is located at 2395 Peachtree Road, has been placed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2018 “Places in Peril” list.
Below, The Peachtree Road building has its original brick walls and windows, which dealers who sell antiques at the store said add to the building’s character.
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Opening Event celebration at Heritage Sandy Springs December 3 â&#x20AC;˘ 5-8PM
A magical, walkable mini-house and light display on display through Dec. 31
info at visitsandysprings.org BH