11-24-17 Dunwoody Reporter

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NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017 • VOL. 8 — NO. 24


Dunwoody Reporter



► I-285 transit meeting is latest cross-city planning effort PAGE 4 ► Cross Keys students join immigrant book project PAGE 7

Visions of sugar plums ...

Trails vs. tourist sites: Officials debate spending BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Santa Claus hears from brothers Blake and Nathan Debold, ages 6 and 4, during Light Up Dunwoody on Nov. 19 at the Cheek-Spruill Farmhouse in Dunwoody Village. The annual kickoff to the holiday season, presented by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, included a lighting of a tree and a menorah.

EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR Teaching English with an artsy eye Page 6


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

Page 16

The mayor and City Council are expected to approve raising the city’s hotel/motel tax from 5 percent to 8 percent next month, creating a revenue stream they say will fund long-awaited park and trails projects in the busy Perimeter Center with scant green space. But how much of the new money — an estimated $850,000 a year to the city and another $850,000 to the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau — will go to existing destination spots in the city, such as the Dunwoody Nature Center and the Donaldson-Bannister Farm, is a sticking point for some. Economic Development Director Michael Starling in a memo to the mayor and council said 15 percent of the new revenue would be set aside in a “Tourism Facility fund” that would go toward funding projects at the Nature Center and DonaldsonBannister Farm. See TRAILS on page 14

Knitter spins political yarns with sweaters BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Jill Vogin wears her heart on her sleeve. And on her political sweaters. A prolific knitter who has made herself known in Dunwoody and metro Atlanta progressive circles with her colorful and political handmade sweaters, Vogin said living in an oftentimes warm and muggy environment means adapting her unique designs. They range from an American flag heart on her back to John Lennon lyrics. “I live in Atlanta, so I prefer cotton, sleeveless sweaters,” she said from her home knitting studio, where boxes of yarn are piled See KNITTER on page 15

2 | Community

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Apartment tenants oppose proposed Perimeter Center hotel development BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net The owner of an apartment complex and its residents are opposing a proposed development of a hotel, restaurant and parking deck in Perimeter Center, saying the large-scale project adjacent to their property would hurt the bottom line of the complex and negatively affect the residents’ quality of life. Troy McMahan of Northwestern Mutual, representing the Flats at Perimeter Place, and some 20 tenants attended the Dunwoody City Council’s Nov. 13 meeting to speak out against Prado Perimeter Center LLC’s proposed development of a 7-story, AC-brand hotel; a 5-story parking deck; and a large restaurant on nearly five acres of mostly parking lot at 121 Perimeter Center West. The new development is planned alongside a 3-story building that houses a SunTrust bank branch and a Tin Lizzy’s restaurant and is adjacent to the complex. “I am neither anti-development nor anti-hotel,” McMahan told the council, “but the design for this site does not take into account the existing Dunwoody residents.” The council was considering on first read a rezoning ordinance and three special land use permits for the proposed project. A second and final read, which would turn it

into law, is slated for next month. mated at $3 million to $4 million, he said, McMahan said about 400 people live in and a lost tax revenue to the county of an the Flats at Perimeter Place at 60 Perimeestimated $50,000 to $65,000 a year. ter Center. Concerns, he said, include that Other concerns McMahan cited includthe parking deck will be located just 33-feet ed increased traffic caused by the new hoaway from residents’ windows and balcotel, bright lights from the parking deck and nies on the south side of the building and hotel shining onto the apartment buildwould ining, and fringe on shading of their privathe buildcy, obstruct ing caused the city view by the parkmany tening deck’s ants curheight. The rently have, apartment and could complex also be physowner has ically harmhired attorful due to ney Greg noxious Hecht, who fumes from sent the CITY OF DUNWOODY the cars usmayor and A rendering of the AC-brand hotel, a Marriott ing the parkCity Council European-inspired boutique hotel, proposed as part of a development at 121 Perimeter Center West. ing deck. a letter on Revenue Nov. 1 statfor the coming that applex would also be hurt by the new develproving the project is an “arbitrary, capriopment, McMahan said. The apartment cious and unreasonable use of the city’s has been in Dunwoody for 11 years and is zoning power” and notes the complex “has valued at $70 million by DeKalb County. been a large contributor to the tax base of Estimated loss in value due to lost rent for Dunwoody for over a decade.” the 86 units facing the parking deck is estiThe Prado Perimeter Center develop-

ment has run into other problems. Votes on the rezoning and SLUPs were twice deferred by the Planning Commission before the commission recommended approval of the rezoning and two of the three SLUPS. Current zoning of the property allows for two stories. The property is included in the recently approved Perimeter Center Overlay district that allows for up to 16 stories as part of a move to place denser development in a specific area of Perimeter Center. The developer also is seeking SLUPs to vary the streetscape requirements now required in the new zoning district that is intended to be more pedestrianand-bike-friendly. Councilmember John Heneghan raised fire safety concerns about the short distance between the parking deck and apartment building. The developer previously received a zoning variance for a smaller setback between the two structures in order to fit the deck onto the property. A city memo states the distance between the parking deck and apartment building is 20 feet. Den Webb, the attorney representing Prado Perimeter Center, said he and the developer had not heard from anyone at the Flats at Perimeter Place before Nov. 13 and noted an application for the setbacks with the Zoning Board of Appeals was approved in September. The setback was needed so the deck would only be five stories high, rather than taller, according to Webb. The footprint of the project is not too large for the 4.7 acres and fits the directive from the city to make this area of Perimeter Center denser, more walkable and taller area that transitions from a suburban to urban environment, Webb said. The current property also has many sizable trees on the property creating an urban park-like atmosphere. City staff members state the proposed development calls for the removal of 63 parking lot trees, including 14 willow oak specimen trees. “That area has a lot tree canopy now … and is an attractive part of the Perimeter,” Councilmember Terry Nall said. Webb said all the trees on the site were planted in 1986, when the property was first developed. They are planted in parking lot islands where the roots of the trees have grown above ground and the asphalt is cracking around them. “Most of the trees are not really worth preserving,” he said. Webb said the developer will try to save a 38-inch willow oak at the corner of the Perimeter Center West and Perimeter Center Place at the city’s request, but said the tree sits on top of a 6-foot sewer pipe. Mayor Denis Shortal closed discussion by asking the developer to mitigate some of the concerns raised by the apartment owner and tenants. “These are our citizens you are building next to and they are important to us,” Shortal said. DUN

NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017

Community | 3



The move from 41 Perimeter Center East to the new City Hall at 4800 Ashford-Dunwoody Road is expected to begin Dec. 15 with the police department FILE PHOTO set to be the first department to The new Dunwoody City Hall at 4800 Ashfordmake the move. Dunwoody Road is expected to be open by Jan. 2. Buildout of the new building is expected to be mostly completed by Dec. 1, City Manager Eric Linton told the mayor and city council at the Nov. 13 meeting. The police department will move first and should be completely operational out of the new building by Dec. 18, he said. Court services are slated to begin moving Dec. 21, with the finance and communications departments moving Dec. 26 and Public Works relocating Dec. 28. All City Hall services are expected to be fully operational by Jan. 2, when the City Council will hold its first meeting in the new building. The first meeting should also be available to view via online streaming with the installation of new audiovisual operations. The 45,000 square-foot building is the city’s first wholly-owned City Hall complex and was purchased for $8.05 million. The city has been leasing approximately the same amount of square feet at 41 Perimeter Center East to use as City Hall.


Dunwoody is joining Brookhaven and Chamblee for a shared services contract to provide traffic signal, sign and streetlight maintenance with Dunwoody issuing the request for proposal on behalf of the three cities. At the Nov. 13 council meeting, the council approved hiring Sunbelt Traffic LLC for the contract. Each city will enter into its own contract and pay only for the days and

materials used in that city. “By sharing this service, each city will have access to a local signal maintenance crew without having to bear the entire cost of a full-time crew,” Public Works Director Michael Smith stated in a memo to council. Dunwoody’s traffic signal budget is $288,000 from Public Works and another $100,000 is budgeted for sign replacement in the road maintenance budget.


The mayor and City Council approved Nov. 13 hiring ConnectSouth lobbying firm for $70,000 for 2018 state legislative support. ConnectSouth has been used by the city since it was founded to represent its priorities and concerns at the General Assembly, Chris Pike, Finance Director, states in a memo. The $70,000 approved this year is an increase of $5,000 over 2016 and 2015 rates. “As with many professional services contracts, the value grows as the relationship grows,” Pike stated in the memo to the mayor and City Council. The mayor and council at the Nov. 13 meeting also approved a resolution outlining its General Assembly legislative priorities for 2018 including: continuing toward the goal of passing a constitutional amendment to make way for independent school districts; look for existing bills or opportunities to raise the $1.50 E911 fee to cover costs of technological advances in the E911 industry; to watch for legislation from cell phone companies that attempt to reduce a city’s zoning authority and regulate right-of-way, traffic poles and other means the companies want to use to increase their capacity; and keep an eye on property tax policies following the Fulton County appraisal issues that may not help the city of Dunwoody. The city also wants to push for an update to the Systemic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program. According to a memo by Pike, the biggest complaint his department receives each year is from businesses objecting to the process of complying with the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act.


The City Council on Nov. 13 approved an $83,039 contract plus 10 percent contingency with Trees Atlanta to install landscaping around the Tilly Mill Road and North Peachtree Road intersection. As part of the contract, Trees Atlanta will provide a twoyear maintenance plan for the landscaping.The plan includes the planting of more than 150 small trees and 400 shrubs.



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4 | Community

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I-285 transit meeting is latest cross-city planning effort BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

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-



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?


Christine McAleer.

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 evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

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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“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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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. DUN

NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017

Commentary | 11


‘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 snarrobinjm@earthlink.net. 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.

Robin’s Nest

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Leng A Lifetime of Learni ss is more page 12

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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



Continued on


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12 | Community

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Nature Center pavilion slated to open in May BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The new North Woods Pavilion at the Dunwoody Nature Center is expected to be open in May, in time for the many field trips and outdoor concerts that pack the park each summer. The mayor and City Council on Nov. 13 unanimously approved a contract for the construction of the pavilion in a pine and hardwood area overlooking the creek and main event area. The price for the work is not to exceed $665,000. The city of Dunwoody will pay $400,000, while the nonprofit Nature Center will cover the remaining costs. City officials in April approved $200,000 for the Nature Center pavilion through the city’s Facilities Improvement Partnership Program for the pavilion. An additional $200,000 for the pavilion was approved by city officials in October, after DNC Executive Director Alan Mothner told the council the cost would exceed the original 2016 estimate of $300,000. The Nature Center operates in the city-owned park as part of a public-private partnership with the city. A planned new Austin Elementary School is to be built next to the Nature Center, where the baseball fields that had been used by Dunwoody Senior Baseball were located. Groundbreaking for the school is set for Dec. 15, Mothner said. The 900-seat school is slated to open in the fall of 2019. Programming between the school and the Nature Center is expected. As part of the first phase of the school construction, a new parking area for the Nature Center is to be built that will include spaces between trees as a way to blend with the park’s natural setting. That extra parking space should help when visitors come to the Nature Center, once the 1,800-square-foot pavilion construction gets underway early next year, Mothner said. Plans are to have the pavilion open by May just as the busy spring and summer programming begins, he said. Mothner has said the pavilion is needed to allow for more programming, including Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop meetings and school field trips. Opportunities for rent-

Rendering of the North Woods Pavilion.


ing the facility for corporate events also would be available. Mothner has said the Nature Center’s space now is so limited that when there is inclement weather, there is nowhere to put visitors. This summer, for example, it rained during nearly all of the Nature Center’s outdoor concerts and people were forced to cram together on the main building’s deck. The pavilion, which will be enclosed in glass and built on the hill overlooking the center’s meadow, will provide that much needed space for such times, he said. The Nature Center also is undertaking a $2.6 million capital campaign that includes the future construction of a new 7,000-square-foot building in the parking lot area. The new building will include exhibit space, classrooms and community meeting space. The current Nature Center building will be renovated into office space.

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Community | 13


Planning commission defers decision on City Hall redevelopment BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Grubb Properties, the developer seeking to redevelop the current Dunwoody City Hall and surrounding buildings, will have to wait at least one more month for the planning commission’s decision on its rezoning request. The Dunwoody Planning Commission unanimously voted Nov. 14 to defer the rezoning request to redevelop the Perimeter Center East office complex into a mixeduse complex. The developer’s proposal includes about 1,200 residential units, retail and 500,000 square feet of office space to the 19.5-acre complex. The commission will review the proposal again at its Dec. 12 meeting. The commission was in support of the project overall, but wants the developer to resolve some disagreements with city planning staff. Staff recommended several conditions, including one that would require the developer to build a road through a proposed park. The developer is opposed to this condition, and the disagreement is one of the main reasons the commission deferred the proposal. Commissioners also were concerned the development could attract families with school-aged students and suggested limiting the number of three-bedroom units to help mitigate this effect. Chairman Bob Dallas said at the end of the meeting that if those problems are resolved, the commissioners will likely recommend approval. The developer has asked for a rezoning to PC-2, which would allow the mixed-use development, and three special land use permits, including one to build a development of regional impact and one to allow buildings to be closer to the road than now allowed.

The current site, which is owned by developer Grubb Properties, has three midrise office buildings, one of which serves as City Hall. The property is located off Ashford-Dunwoody Road near the Ravinia complex. In 2016, Dunwoody purchased a property at 4800 Ashford-Dunwoody Road to serve as the site of a new City Hall. It is expected to open in early 2018. The company plans to keep the six-story building now housing City Hall and a five-story office building next to it as office buildings with retail spaces on the ground floor. The company plans to demolish the other six-story office building, near I-285, to make room for two 14-story residential towers and a new office tower. Seventy-five percent of the residential units are planned to be owner-occupied and the remaining 25 percent would be rental units, a ratio commissioners appeared to be happy with. The development would be built in three phases over 10 years. The main issue the commission wants the city and developer to come to an agreement on is the city’s condition that the developer build a road through a proposed park in the development. The developers plan to build a large park that would be open to the public at the center of the development, and don’t want any of the park land to be lost to a road. “Frankly, it really would decimate the centerpiece of the property,” said Clay Grubb, the owner of Grubb Properties. The city proposed this as a condition because it would create a full access intersection that would make it easier to access the property and possibly reduce traffic congestion. A traffic study has found the development would bring over 10,000 new car trips to the area. Grubb also said his company tries to


A bird’s eye view illustration of the proposed redevelopment of Perimeter Center East.

emphasize using public transit and make driving less convenient. The confusing nature of the complex and the inconvenience of entering and exiting may make it more likely people take transit to it, he said. The commissioners also asked city staff to add stronger language to a condition that the developer continue a shuttle to the MARTA station it currently runs. Commissioner Thomas O’Brien said he wants stronger language to ensure the service does not end. Grubb said they are committed to making the development accessible to pedestrians and transit and bicycle commuters. Commissioner Paul Player said the developer should work to ensure the development does not overcrowd schools or pay for necessary school improvements to accommodate them. A study has found the development is projected to bring 65 new students to the area. A limit on three-bedroom units was proposed by commissioners as a potential way to limit new students. Larger units often

are more likely to house families with children. The president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, Robert Wittenstein, spoke during public comment and also said the developer should take steps to mitigate this. Wittenstein said he was speaking for himself and not on behalf of the DHA, which, after six months of debate and discussion, voted last month to take no position on the proposal. Grubb said he “does not want to burden the school system” and said they would consider not building any three-bedroom units, in the first phase. Dallas said he was overall in support of the project, including the developer’s vision for connectivity and a less car-oriented complex. “My only hope is that it actually gets built,” Dallas said. The developers will go before the commission again in December, pushing the date the proposal will go to City Council to January.

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14 | Community

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Trails vs. tourist sites: Officials debate spending Continued from page 1 Nature Center Executive Director Alan Mothner and Dunwoody Preservation Trust President Jim Williams requested at the Nov. 13 council meeting that percentage be increased to 20 or 25 percent. “These facilities are not just for citizens, but for tourism, so there is a connection,” Williams said. Mothner added that 15 percent is just $127,000 and is not enough to fund any of the master plan projects at the Nature Center. “Trails are great, but they need to lead to somewhere,” he said. But it is the hotels in Perimeter Center that agreed to be taxed and because it is their money, the money should be spent to enhance their resources, argued Bill Grant, a board member of the Dunwoody CVB. “We told them the money would be in Perimeter ... and this affects them,” Grant told the council. “The nonprofits are terrific assets and they need your support. But not with this money.” The General Assembly approved the legislation earlier this year granting Dunwoody the authority to raise the hotel/motel tax. City staff is recommending a majority of the new money go toward trails and parks in Perimeter Center that have had plans sitting on the shelves for several years. A recent CVB survey showed that the number one priority for business and recreational travelers staying in Dunwoody hotels is the desire for a running or walking trail and small parks to visit close to where they are staying. “This is a unique situation ... we do not often find a revenue source we did not have before,” Economic Development Director Michael Starling told the council. “We focused on parks and trails early in the process ... because that is the number one wish from visitors.”

Using the money on proposed parks and trails in Perimeter Center that have been studied and designed with the Perimeter Community Improvement District on connectivity, bike and pedestrian plans, last-mile connectivity as well as commuter trails was a major selling point to gain legislative approval. Councilmember Jim Riticher said he would never vote for a hotel/motel tax increase, but is supporting it because the hotel owners supported it. “I don’t have heartburn ... but I’ve got some minor unease with allowing 15 percent to go to a fund, but I’m OK with it,” he said. He added that state Rep. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) “quizzed me ... and wanted the money going into that district. The money really hits an underserved area.” The proposed parks and trails also benefit Dunwoody residents and continue the city’s mission to create more connectivity throughout the city. “I’d like to be able to bike to Dunwoody Village from Georgetown and not have to take Chamblee-Dunwoody Road,” said cyclist Bill Black during a Nov. 15 open house at City Hall to view the proposed Perimeter Center trails and parks. “I like seeing Dunwoody taking non-automobile transportation seriously and this is a great step in that direction.”

New tax to go toward revenue bonds?




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A map outlining the proposed parks and multi-use trails to be built with the new hotel/motel tax money generated from a tax increase.

Starling told the council that hotel ownership would like to see some trail and parks projects completed quickly in Perimeter Center. He said that using the tax money to issue revenue bonds is an idea that received support in stakeholder meetings but staff decided not to “push it.” The topic of revenue bonds will likely be discussed early next year, perhaps at the City Council retreat in February. In Brookhaven, for example, which also raised its hotel/motel tax from 5 percent to 8 percent, the city is using the new revenue to finance a $9 million revenue bond to pay for the first phase of its Peachtree Creek Greenway, a linear park along the Greenway expected to connect to Chamblee and Doraville as well as to PATH 400 in Buckhead and eventually to the Atlanta BeltLine. The Brookhaven tax increase, however, expires once the Greenway is completed. Councilmembers Lynn Deutsch and Pam Tallmadge in interviews said they support the idea of using the money to issue revenue bonds. Mayor Denis Shortal said he prefers to “pay as you go” with the new tax revenue but could be talked into supporting revenue bonds if the amount is conservative. Councilmember Jim Riticher said he hasn’t made a consideration of bonds yet. Councilmember Terry Nall wants to wait and see the numbers before making a decision.

“We owe it to the people paying the tax, the visitors to our city, to get projects done as quickly as possible so that they can be enjoyed by all sooner rather than later,” Deutsch said. Tallmadge said she also supports revenue bonds because she said she would like to see the projects completed quicker rather than later. “I’ve been waiting for that bond word to surface,” Tallmadge said. “That’s a yes. ... It’s a bond, it will be paid off. I want to see this in my lifetime.” “Our first task is to understand expected annual revenue stream consistency and be very conservative in this calculation based on actual revenues received,” he said. Construction project prices are continuing to increase at high rates in the metro Atlanta region, he said, and the current low interest rate environment may allow the city to build new parks and trails sooner using today’s construction prices and low interest costs rather than incurring higher construction costs in the future due to waiting to accumulate the funds. “For me, the bottom line is it is a calculation of the overall least cost to implement the greatest amount of parks and trails amenities within the consistent revenue stream received over 10 years or less,” he said.


NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017

Community | 15


Anita Pandey DMD Michael Press DDS

Knitter spins political yarns Continued from page 1

think,” she said. Other colorful and one-of-a-kind politihigh against the wall. cal sweaters include one with Hillary ClinSince the election of Donald Trump, Voton slogans created from about $100 worth gin estimates she has knitted about a dozen of yarn and weeks of work. A Lady Libersweaters that include some kind of political ty sweater with the word “Persist!” on the message meant to inspire hope. back was created as an ode to U.S. Sena“I’m heartbroken, but when I wear one tor Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) following of my sweaters, people around me say the infamous Senate confirmation hearsomething. It makes them feel good, which ing for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes me feel good,” she said. in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McVogin moved to Dunwoody from WashConnell silenced her with the phrase: “Sen. ington, D.C., in 2008, and learned fairly Warren was giving a quickly to keep her liberlengthy speech. She had al views to herself. appeared to violate the While campaigning rule. She was warned. for Barack Obama in She was given an ex2008 in Dunwoody, she planation. Nevertheless, said she stepped into she persisted.” the local REI to make a Vogin said her quick purchase. Instead, grandmother taught she said she was accosther to knit and crochet ed by a man talking to as a young girl and her a group of people in the love for the craft has store about how Obama evolved over the years was not an American from a simple hobby and was a terrorist. She to a hunger to create said she was escorted to meaningful art. her car by the store manDYANA BAGBY “When I knit the poJill Vogin stands in front a wall of ager because she did not litical ones or ones to boxed yarn at her home studio. feel safe. make a statement, there “I didn’t know what is always a sense of urgency,” she said. “My I was getting into before I moved down knitter friends would pick them apart ... but here,” she said. “That level of hatred and I’m not worried about being technically acsense of fear was new to me.” curate. Usually I have a deadline. And makIt took her until this year and the 6th ing these is more of an emotional experiCongressional District race that pitted Reence.” publican stalwart Karen Handel against The history of knitting has ties to politiDemocratic newcomer Jon Ossoff for her to cal movements, Vogin said. Before women step out again to voice her political views. could speak out politically, they could knit “I’d never put out a sign in my yard unand weave to express themselves. In recent til Trump got elected. The Ossoff race was years, young women have taken up knitthe first time I put out a sign in our yard,” ting, shattering the image of knitters being she said. only “old white women.” Handel eventually beat Ossoff for the Then, after Trump was elected, knitseat in the U.S. House of Representatives vating became a powerful movement with cated by Tom Price when he was appointthe renowned “pink pussy caps” worn by ed Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human hundreds of thousands of people who parServices. ticipated in the Women’s March on WashAs part of that campaign, Vogin knitted ington. her own “Vote Your Ossoff” sweater that she Knitting is not all political for Vogin, wore repeatedly when canvassing door-tohowever. She is the current president of the door. When some local politicians alleged Atlanta Knitting Guild that was formed in Ossoff supporters were paid protesters, she 1985 and currently meets at St. Luke’s Presknitted her own “Vocal Local” sweater bearbyterian Church in Dunwoody. The group ing Dunwoody’s 30360 ZIP code. has more than 150 members who travHer first major political sweater, and el from throughout metro Atlanta and the what she calls her masterpiece, is a porSoutheast for special events. When the trait of John Lennon on the front with some guild meets each month, between 50 and of the words of his song “Imagine” on the 100 members show up to knit together. back. Much of the knitting the group does is This sweater was created after several for charities, such as area hospitals that terrorist bombings in Europe several years need baby blankets. The group also holds ago, she said, leaving her feeling helpless special events and invites “knitting celebribut wanting to say something political, but ties” and authors from across the country not overtly political. “I tried to make people to give workshops and lectures.



Meets first Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 1978 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338. A social hour is held from 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. atlantaknittingguild.org

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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.


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.




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.


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.


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.


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 bazaar@orveshalom.org or visit orveshalom.org.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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, mswindell@heritagesandysprings.org 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 johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

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.

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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.

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DeKalb legislators preview upcoming session

From left, state Rep. Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain), state Sens. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) and Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), and state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) in a legislative preview panel discussion moderated by Greg Bluestein of the AJC.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

As state lawmakers prepare to return to the General Assembly in January, DeKalb lawmakers made a few predictions during a Nov. 14 panel discussion hosted by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber. The panel discussion was moderated by Greg Bluestein, political reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. All panelists agreed the 2018 session will likely be very short due to it being an election year and several legislators are running for higher office. Some key takeaways:


The recent meeting with mayors and city leaders along I-285 at the top-end of the Perimeter to discuss the future of public transit was greeted overwhelmingly with approval by state lawmakers. “It’s wonderful to hear the mayors had a conversation,” said Rep. Meagan Hanson (R-Brookhaven), who added she thinks such a meeting should have happened long ago. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (DDecatur), who serves on the 14-member state transit commission formed by House Speaker David Ralston this year to study Georgia’s transit needs and analyze ways to plan and fund those needs, said she was pleased with how leadership was coming together to find ways to fund transit. State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) added he was optimistic to see something happen soon with transit funding, but noted he didn’t think there would be state funding without regional governance of that funding. He added that

DeKalb and Fulton counties have long paid for MARTA funding and it was time for other counties to pay. “The regional governance piece is crucial to getting state funds,” state Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) agreed. Parent said she believes an important state leader, such as the governor, needs to make a public commitment to ensure funding of transit. “Until some really important leader commits to it I fear nothing is going to happen,” she said. Millar said that any new transit will not include heavy rail. He said he didn’t believe the long-talked about plans for heavy rail to Stonecrest would ever happen due to the cost, unless Amazon does relocate its second headquarters to the city. Oliver said part of the reason Emory wants to be annexed into the city of Atlanta is because of its commitment to fund public transit. DeKalb County does not have a good plan to get public transit dollars, she said, and she was looking for better leadership on the DeKalb County Commission.

Civil War monuments

Parent and Oliver have pre-filed bills in the House and Senate that would give local governments the authority to remove or relocate Civil War monuments. State law currently prohibits municipalities from doing so. The DeKalb County Commission approved a resolution 6-1 last month asking its legal counsel to find a way to remove or relocate a Confederate memorial located outside the former DeKalb Courthouse in the Decatur square. But who owns the memorial — the county or a private entity — is still being researched. DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester of

Dunwoody cast the lone no vote. Millar said he does not think anything will happen in the upcoming session on Civil War monuments, other than a study commission possibly being formed. He added he thought the issue would be debated heavily because it is an election year. “You’ll see a lot of play on it,” he said. Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta) said there has been a groundswell of activism surrounding Civil War monuments that cannot be ignored, but added a great deal of work must be done before any legislation is passed.

‘Religious liberty’ bill

For the past several sessions, GOP legislators have brought up a “religious liberty” bill. In 2016, the bill was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal. The bill, some say, is discriminatory, especially to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents of Georgia. Another argument against a “religious liberty” bill is that such a bill will harm the state’s economic development as corporations embrace LGBT equality for their employees. Numerous corporations in Georgia have also spoken out against such a bill. But the bill is expected to come up again in 2018, said Bluestein, who asked if the panelists believed such a bill would hurt the state’s businesses. “This is a complex issue,” Mosby said. “I don’t know how many different ways you can say no [to the bill]. This is extremely dangerous. We tout ourselves as the No. 1 state to do business. This [bill] is the No. 1 thing we can do to destroy that slogan.” Last year’s “religious liberty” bill called for the state to apply the federal Freedom Restoration Act passed in 1993


at the state level. Millar, who voted in favor of the bill in 2016, said he would not support a “religious freedom” bill this year, calling such a bill “DOA [dead on arrival].” “I think it’s a Republican primary issue. That’s about as far as it will go,” he said. “I don’t see it going anywhere in Georgia this year. The governor made the right decision.” Millar said he thought some parts of the bill were good, such as allowing religious adoption agencies to deny same-sex couples from adopting a child because they believe homosexuality is a sin. But that also opened the door to legal issues, he added. Oliver said the attempt during the last session to update the adoption code failed due to Republicans trying to add “religious liberty” language to it in the final minutes of the General Assembly’s last day. “This is a very bad symptom of how destructive these debates can be,” she said.

Incentives for Amazon HQ2

Bluestein said the state submitted the High Street site in Dunwoody and the Doraville GM site as potential sites for a new Amazon headquarters as part of a nationwide attempt by states to attract the corporate giant. He asked what levels of incentives are acceptable. Parent said an analysis of a project including incentives should determine what that project brings to the state and that the amount should be more than incentives. “We should not be lining the pockets of a company that already has a lot of money,” she said. She also noted that several big retailers, including Home Depot, are not pleased about Amazon possibly coming to metro Atlanta. DUN

NOV. 24 - DEC. 14, 2017

Public Safety | 23


Police Blotter / Dunwoody From Dunwoody Police reports dated Nov. 12 through Nov. 18. The following information was pulled from Dunwoody’s Police-2-Citizen website.

B U R G L A RY 200 block of Perimeter Center Park-

way — On Nov. 12, someone reported that two chop saws, two ground compactors and a cordless drill were stolen during the night from a construction site. Someone at another site reported Nov. 13 that it had been burglarized, with the loss of a chop saw and a generator. 5100 block of Chalet Court — On Nov.

12, in the morning, a man reported that his home was forcefully entered and burglarized. 2600 block of Peeler Road — On Nov.

12, in the afternoon, a woman reported an attempted burglary of her home. 4900 block of Winters Chapel Road —

On Nov. 13, in the morning, a man reported a forced-entry burglary in progress.

LARCENY/ SHOPLIFTING/ THEFT 4400 block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road

— On Nov. 12, in the afternoon, a woman reported her ZTE Zmax Pro cellphone missing. 8400 block of Azalea Garden Drive —

On Nov. 13, in the morning, a man reported rims and tires were removed from his car, which then had been supported with two rocks. 1300 block of Azalea Garden Drive —

On Nov. 13, in the morning, a woman reported that her wheels had been removed from her car sometime overnight. 4400 block of Pineridge Circle — On

Nov. 12, at night, a woman reported someone tried to enter her Mustang. 4500

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 13, during the day, a woman said her laptop was stolen from her hotel room. 4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 13, in the afternoon, a woman said diapers and a Medicare card were stolen from her car. 4700 block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road

— On Nov. 13, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested for shoplifting $16 worth of merchandise at a discount superstore. 100 block of Perimeter Center West

— On Nov. 14, at night, a man reported a book bag was missing from his car. It contained earphones, gym shorts and a folder with resumes, he said. 100 block of Perimeter Trace — On Nov.

14, in the early morning, officers were dis-


patched on several reports of auto breakins at a parking deck. One man said his wallet, containing various cards, a driver’s license, and $40 cash, was stolen from his car. A woman said her laptop was stolen. At least 15 others filed reports of cars being entered, too. A puncturing device or a jimmy tool was thought to have been used in many of the incidents.


block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 14, at noon, a simple assault took place during an alleged shoplifting in progress at a department store.

stopped a car for a window tint violation. The driver, who was unlicensed, was arrested and accused of charges related to the violation.


4800 block of Peachtree Road/ Peel-


200 block of Perimeter Center Park-

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 13, in the evening, someone broke the glass to a car window, taking a backpack containing a MacBook. 4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 13, at night, employees of a department store caught one member of a pair accused of stealing a pair of Ugg boots. Both were under 18. 100 block of Ravinia Drive — On Nov.

14, in the afternoon, a woman said her new iPhone 8 was stolen from her desk. 4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — Overnight into Nov. 15, someone stole a 2009 Honda Accord. 4400 block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road

— On Nov. 15, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and accused of trying to steal a Kendra Scott necklace and a Londyn necklace from a department store. 4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 15, in the afternoon, two woman were caught and accused of trying to shoplift a Versace gift set from a department store. They were arrested.

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 14, in the afternoon, officers were dispatched to deal with an armed man near a loading dock. way — On Nov. 15, in the afternoon, an officer responded to a civil dispute.

ARRESTS I-285/Chamblee-Dunwoody Road —

On Nov. 12, in the morning, an 18-yearold male was arrested and accused of reckless driving and speeding. I-285/Shallowford Road — On Nov. 12,

in the morning, a woman was stopped for failing to move over for stopped emergency vehicles and accused of driving with a suspended license. She was arrested. I-285/Cham-

blee-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 12, in the morning, an officer

er Road — On Nov. 13, in the morning, a woman was arrested and accused of leaving the scene of an accident after a hit-and-run accident. 4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 14, in the evening, a woman was arrested following a traffic stop and accused of driving with a suspended license and no tag light. I-285/Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On

Nov. 14, at night, a man was arrested and accused of speeding and reckless driving. 4400 block of Tilly Mill Road — On

Nov. 15, in the morning, a wanted person was located following a traffic stop. She was arrested and accused of driving unlicensed and failing to obey traffic control devices.



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


block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 15, in the evening, someone attempted to shoplift cosmetics from a beauty store. 2400 block of Brookhurst Drive — On

Nov. 15, in the evening, a man said a baby carrier was stolen. 5500 block of Chamblee-Dunwoody

Road — On Nov. 16, in the evening, a man reported two laptops missing from his car. Both were recovered. 4400 block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road

— On Nov. 17, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 100 block of Perimeter Center Place —

On Nov. 17, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting.

A S S AU LT 4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Nov. 13, at noon, a dispute took place at a restaurant. 300 block of Perimeter Center — On

Nov. 12, in the early evening, an officer was needed to break up a dispute.







24 |

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Opening Event celebration at Heritage Sandy Springs December 3 • 5-8PM

A magical, walkable mini-house and light display on display through Dec. 31

info at visitsandysprings.org DUN