December 2019 - Dunwoody Reporter

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DECEMBER 2019 • VOL. 10 — NO. 12

Olympic Park bombing investigation: Remembering dark days P8

Dunwoody Reporter COMMUNITY

New protections for cyclists begin May 1

Mayor-elect Deutsch says city is ready to ‘imagine what else it can be’

Light Up Dunwoody ushers in holiday season



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A public challenge: Reimagine I-285



‘A Tuna Christmas’ continues theater partnership P26

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From left, brothers Jayanth and Charith Savitala, ages 10 and 6, enjoy a spot on Santa’s sleigh with real reindeer. More pictures on Page 27 ►

High Street set to get $19M tax break for mixed-use project BY DYANA BAGBY

A $19 million tax break for a portion of the massive High Street mixed-use development in Perimeter Center is being considered by Dunwoody officials as it appears the long-dormant project may soon break ground.

The entire $2 billion High Street project that has been stalled for more than a decade would be built on 42 acres of property at the northwest intersection of Perimeter Center Parkway and Hammond Drive, near the Sandy Springs border and the Dunwoody MARTA station. The mini-city See HIGH on page 30

Lynn Deutsch said being elected as the city’s next mayor validates her vision that Dunwoody is ready to move beyond just providing basic services to its residents and to begin to create a city where people want to live, work and play. Deutsch, who served two terms on the City Council, defeated Terry Nall on Nov. 5 and will be sworn in as mayor on Jan. 2. She said she is ready to begin implementing a vision that includes vibrant commercial areas, multiuse paths and sidewalks for more connectivity, an arts and culture scene – attributes that residents have been consistently telling her they want to see in the city as well, she said. “There was a real risk of the city just staying in the same place and continuing down a path … of doing nothing but paving a few roads, fixing some intersections and maybe adding another park, while every community around us is doing more to meet their citizens’ needs,” she said. During the city’s first decade after it was incorporated in 2008, the mayors and councils made great strides in repairing and installing new infrastructure, she said. The Dunwoody Police Department is one of the best in the state and the city’s parks and trails are also some of the best in the area, she said. “Now that we’ve done all that, what comes next?” she asked. “People overall are happy with police See MAYOR on page 14

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The Atlanta Regional Commission will provide services for the five-year update to the city’s comprehensive plan to begin in early 2020. The one-year process with recommended updates is expected to be reviewed by the council in June and then a final vote is currently scheduled for October. The City Council voted Nov. 18 to enter into a memorandum of understanding with ARC to deliver services for the comprehensive plan update including a project manager; analysis of needs and opportunities facing the community; and holding public meetings to gather resident input. The first public meeting is expected to be held in January. The state requires local governments to update their comprehensive plans every five years. A sounding board of city staff and local residents will work with ARC to facilitate the plan. Members are: Bob Dallas, chair of the Planning Commission; Ann Hanlon, executive director of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts; Ardy Bastien, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals; Richard McLeod, Community Development director; resident Terri Polk; Public Works Director Michael Smith; Economic Development Director Michael Starling; Parks and Recreation Director Brent Walker; and Katie Williams, executive director of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Merit pay raises for the city manager and city clerk are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. The City Council approved the pay raises for City Manager Eric Linton and City Clerk Sharon Lowery at the Nov. 18 council meeting. The raises were approved separately as part of the consent agenda with no discussion. Linton, who has been with the city since 2014, is currently paid $198,432. His contract allows for annual pay raises based on performance. The council approved his salary increase to $201,408 beginning Jan. 1. Linton’s salary will be bumped up again on March 12 to $205,638 as part of a cost-ofliving raise all city employees are receiving next year. Lowery, who currently makes $115,128, is receiving a 1.5% merit increase beginning Jan. 1, bringing her salary to $116,854. She has been city clerk since 2009, shortly after the city was incorporated.


The City Council voted at its Nov. 18 to sell the approximately 3 acres located at 4553 North Shallowford Road through the city’s real estate broker Colliers International. In July, the city voted to sell the adjacent 2-acres at 4555 North Shallowford Road. Both properties have Emory office buildings on them. The vote was 5-2 with Councilmember John Heneghan and Mayor-elect Lynn Deutsch voting “no.” Heneghan questioned the process the city is using to sell the second piece of property that is now essentially being bundled with the first piece for a total of about 5 acres. He also questioned why the city had no price on the 4555 site but is asking nearly $2.3 million for the 4553 property. The zoning for both pieces of property is unclear, he said, leading to questions of what a developer may decided to build on the property. He also questioned why the second piece of property on North Shallowford Road was being put up for sale several months after the first piece was put on the market. “This is not transparent and looks like an inside deal,” Heneghan said. “This is not an open and transparent way to sell property.” City Manager Eric Linton said the buyer of the property would have to go through a public rezoning process if it wanted to build something other than the medical office buildings currently there. The city purchased the 4553, 4555 and 4575 North Shallowford Road properties in 2012 as part of a $5.5 million purchase of 19 acres that was originally meant to be park space. The property at 4575 North Shallowford was redeveloped and is now Pernoshal Park. City officials say profits from the sales of 4553 and 4555 North Shallowford Road would likely go toward parks projects.

LID L G RO C ERY S TO R E TO O P EN The German discount grocer Lidl is opening a store in Dunwoody in the Mount Vernon Shopping Center, where the former Sprouts grocery store was located. But when shoppers will be able to stroll the aisles to buy food for dinner is not yet known. It is part of a major local entry by the chain. Lidl is also planning to open stores in Sandy Springs at the City Center Crossing shopping center at 6337 Roswell Road and in Brookhaven at Brighten Park Shopping Center at 2480 Briarcliff Road. DUN

Community | 3


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Additional protections for cyclists, pedestrians go into effect May 1 BY DYANA BAGBY

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A new ordinance that adds protections for cyclists and pedestrians beyond what state law requires is now official in Dunwoody. The City Council approved the “vulnerable road user” ordinance at its Nov. 18

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“I’m proud that the City Council demonstrated leadership and we’re blazing a new trail in the state of Georgia,” said Councilmember Tom Lambert, who led the effort to pass the ordinance.

The ordinance was first in-

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troduced in September. “I think this is big public safety issue,” he said. “We want to be a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city. That’s what citizens have been asking for all along, and I believe this it is important to take this step to improve the roads for everybody.” The city’s ordinance mirrors much of state law, such as by calling for ticketing a motorist for not stopping for pedestrians in a crosswalk. It prohibits motorists from throwing objects SPECIAL

Councilmember Tom Lambert led the effort to pass the “vulnerable road user” ordinance, saying it was a needed step to make city streets safer for everyone.

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December Calendar of Events 4

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The city’s version adds enhanced penalties for violators. A violator could be sentenced to up to six months in jail, made to pay up to a $1,000 fine and have driver’s licenses suspended. The penalties could be waived if the motorist takes a courtmandated driver safety class. Tickets would be issued by officers witnessing the violations. Besides cyclists and pedestrians, vulnerable road users include those on scooters; mopeds; skateboards; tractors or other vehicles used in agriculture; motorcycles; wheelchairs; and other electric personal mobility device. Dunwoody’s ordinance says that motorists must give cyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing them on a road. Motorists are to cross the center line into the opposite travel lane to give that 3 feet of space only if it is safe to do so. If it is not safe, motorists are to travel slowly behind the cyclist until they are able to safely pass the cyclist with the required 3 feet between them. Lambert said the city’s ordinance makes it clear that using the opposite lane for


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safety is allowed, whereas the state law, he said, is open to interpretation. “This is the core foundation of this ordinance,” he said. Police Chief Billy Grogan said that any motorist who drives into an opposite travel lane and causes a crash is at fault and that the city’s ordinance does not change that. The ordinance was approved 6-1 with Councilmember Terry Nall casting the sole “no” vote. The ordinance will go into effect May 1. Between now and then, the city will undertake a public awareness and education campaign to inform residents about the new regulations.

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Change at the top of the DeKalb County School District came faster than expected in November, as the outgoing superintendent got an early boot and a temporary successor was named. Meanwhile, the county Board of Education was scheduled to start vetting resumes of permanent replacement candidates in December after a search process that drew local concerns about better community input. The board voted at a Nov. 11 meeting to immediately dismiss Superintendent R. Stephen Green before his contract expiration. A former interim superintendent, Ramona Tyson, was named to the temporary position once more. “He is a lame duck,” a board member who asked to not be named said of Green after the vote. “Green is not being as effective as he should be.” “We appreciate Dr. Green for his service to the county and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Board Chair Dr. Michael Erwin said in a press release. “With Dr. Green’s immediate departure, we have the utmost confidence in Ms. Tyson serving as the interim superintendent,” Green announced his resignation from his position in May, citing personal reasons, but planned to stay until the end of his contract on June 30, 2020. The board approved Tyson to serve as the interim chief through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, effectively immediately Tyson has been with the district for over 30 years and served as the interim superintendent in 2011. “There are some tough decisions that need to be made preferably before the next superintendent gets here,” the board member said. Tyson serving as interim will not affect the current search for a new superintendent as she will retire on June 30, 2020. “No matter what happens, rain, sleet or shine, she is out of here on that date,” the board member said. The search is on At a community input meeting for the new superintendent search Nov. 6 at Chamblee Charter High School, attendees expressed lack of trust in the district and called for a leader strong enough to reform an era of administrative turnovers, financial problems and transparency disputes. Only about 20 people attended the meeting amid concerns about spotty notice and a desire for a bigger community role in the hiring. “I’m just looking for someone who is there for the kids and is forward-thinking,” said Anna Cross, a Dunwoody parent of a Vanderlyn Elementary student, after the meeting. She was among several attendees who said the hiring process needs more community input. “I think it’s just a scam,” said Sandra Holmes, a member of Restore DeKalb, an

activist group that frequently challenges the district and the DeKalb Board of Education on financial and transparency issues. “And with the school board making the final decision, we can forget it.” BWP and Associates, an Illinois-based firm specializing in school administrator searches, is leading the hunt for new superintendent candidates, with the Board of Ed-


Former Superintendent R. Stephen Green.


Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson.

ucation making the final choice. BWP sought comments in community meetings and a survey, and also held private meetings with groups from the school, civic and business communities. In the first week of December, BWP was scheduled to submit a report to the school board featuring a “leadership profile” of the type of candidate that district stakeholders want. The board can alter that profile as well. The report will be public and the comments within it can be updated if they are incorrect, said Kevin Castner, a director with the search firm. Meanwhile, BWP is also handling the application process for superintendent candidates, which has a Dec. 14 deadline. “We already have two-dozen candidates. That’s pretty significant,” Castner said. All of the candidates’ identities are confidential at this point. Castner said BWP will vet the candidates, including with “deep Googles” and “background checks, probably with a private investigator,” and compare them with the leadership profile. The firm expects to recommend four to six candidates to the school board in early January. The school board will select its final candidate, whose identity will become public, and a twoweek comment period will come before any hiring. At the meeting, several attendees questioned the hiring of an outside firm and called for more public influence on the hiring process. There was no clear reason for the low attendance, but some attendees said publicity was poor. Castner spoke broadly about wanting more student input, but the only student present was covering the meeting for the school newspaper, and some others attending after-school activities said they were unaware of it. Castner ran the meeting by himself, handwriting summaries of public comments on a piece of paper without assistance or recording devices. Laughter and groans greeted his explanation that the school board had chosen the groups that DUN

Education | 5

DECEMBER 2019 ■ BWP met with privately for input on the search and that Tyson was involved in communicating the suggestions. Castner said that all comments will have a place in the firm’s report. “We’re not here to be Pollyanna-ish about [saying] there aren’t any problems in the system,” he said, adding that the firm will go through the comments to make sure the report is representative of community concerns. District criticisms Attendees said there are problems galore. The gist of public comments was that the new superintendent should be someone who can command reforms and who will be committed to the students rather than to personal gain or political careerism. Administrative turnover is a major issue in a district that has seen five superintendents in less than 10 years, who have

left for reasons ranging from a corruption scandal to election as the county CEO. Poor planning that has triggered perpetual school overcrowding and redistricting was another concern described by attendees. As the board proposes a controversial general obligation bond, financial issues of all kinds were also a repeatedly cited source of worry, with Restore DeKalb members saying the next superintendent should be someone capable of ordering an external audit. Another sore spot, attendees said, are different conditions in north and south DeKalb, including on school safety. Cross, the Dunwoody parent, says the school board lacks foresight and flexibility in adapting its strategic plan to changing demographics. She cited the ongoing debate over the new Austin Elementary School and its redistricting.

Dunwoody resident challenges Jester for DeKalb Board of Education seat BY DYANA BAGBY

Andrew Ziffer of Dunwoody, who volunteers with several local school groups, announced Nov. 6 he is running for the District 1 seat on the DeKalb County Board of Education currently held by Stan Jester. The District 1 seat includes voters from Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville and Dunwoody. The election is in May. Ziffer has a daughter attending DeKalb Schools. He volunteers with the Peachtree Charter Middle School Foundation and is on the Peachtree Gateway Council on SPECIAL Schools. He served on the Dunwoody Elementary School Andrew Ziffer. Principal Advisory Council and was a Dunwoody Elementary School PTO volunteer and chair of its technology committee. He has a background in Information Technology, real estate investment, and commercial property management. “[I am] a firm believer that a community working together solving problems is much better than working apart or against each other,” Ziffer said. “Few people in District 1 are happy with the way the DeKalb Schools are being run. The incumbent has been elected twice, running with no opposition.” Jester said he is planning to run for a third term next year. He was first elected to the school board in 2014. He has been outspoken and critical of the DeKalb Schools administration on issues ranging from spending to redistricting. He accused Ziffer of working behind the scenes with the school district. “He stands for closed doors and backroom deals,” Jester said of Ziffer. Ziffer said his campaign is about prioritizing students’ needs, operating with integrity and building bridges. “A leader must operate with integrity and be open,” Ziffer said. “I will be focused on solving problems.” Ziffer said in his announcement he wants to create a collaborative environment between the community and school district that results in a “partnership and not war with our school system.” He also said wants to raise awareness about overcrowding in schools and the importance of long-term planning, so students aren’t having to learn in trailers. “I will represent our community better by reaching my hand across the table looking for solutions and not faulting the other side of the table for the problems. I will represent our community better by listening more and talking less,” he said. Addressing deferred maintenance and facilities’ needs; ensuring that long-term enrollment planning is accurate, regular, and matches facility capacity; and improving the culture and climate of the DeKalb County School District are also on his agenda, Ziffer said. “I will represent our community better by taking action and looking forward for solutions rather than looking back to complain and I will represent our community by calling out misinformation, mismanagement, and fiscal irresponsibility,” Ziffer said. “My platform is laser-focused. I will represent our community better with messages of partnership and not war with our school system.” DUN


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Parents divided on Austin redistricting plan, call for long-term solutions BY HANNAH GRECO

While parents from larger schools are agreeing with a redistricting plan for the new Austin Elementary School, others from smaller schools in the cluster are opposing it. They say the DeKalb County School District’s recommended plan, revealed at a Nov. 20 meeting, unnecessarily moves students and does not equally share highdensity housing areas. The meeting began with a large group presentation by Hans Williams, the director of planning in the operations division for DeKalb Schools. The attendees were then divided into facilitated small groups spread throughout the school’s hallways in about 20 rooms, with 20 people per room, to voice their opinions. Rooms were assigned by a random number found on the top of each participant’s handout. In each room, the groups’ pros and cons were listed on sheets of paper that were to be passed on to the district. While opinions about impacts on specific schools varied, all groups were in agreement that the district has presented a lack of long-term solutions to the projected growth of the Dunwoody cluster and urged that another new school open. “For the county as a whole, there



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The DeKalb Schools staff-recommended redistricting plan for the new Austin Elementary School. SPECIAL

is a not a long-term plan,” one parent said at the meeting. “We are going to be back here in two years from being overcrowded again.” The redistricting is for the new 950seat Austin Elementary School in the Dunwoody cluster opening in January 2020 at 5321 Roberts Drive. The new districts will be in effect in August 2020. The district plans to send its final recommendation to the Board of Education in January with a vote scheduled for February. The surround-

ing elementary schools currently over capacity are Chesnut, Dunwoody, Hightower and Vanderlyn. The redistricting process of changing school attendance zones could impact any of the Dunwoody Cluster elementary schools, the district says. At the meeting, parents said the overcrowding relief provided to Dunwoody Elementary, which currently has the largest number of students in any Dunwoody cluster elementary school, is one of the top pros in the staff-recommended plan because it aligns with the redistricting criteria. Parents also praised reducing the overall number of portable classrooms from 49 to 32 and opening the new elementary school with four trailers, making the share as equitable as possible. Dunwoody parents and residents have been locked in a years-long battle with DeKalb Schools officials criticizing the use of trailers as the solution for schools being over capacity. But several parents said after the meeting they were upset because the redistricting recommendation is not equitable in its distribution of students from high-density housing, such as apartments. “The most recent option presented takes approximately 30% of Vanderlyn’s single-family homes and replaces them with high-density housing that is by far closer in proximity to the new Austin Elementary,” one parent said in an email. Parents at Vanderlyn Elementary are especially unhappy, with many saying the plan did not reflect previous draft options. Overall, parents expressed their concern with the lack of long-term solutions to the projected growth of the Dunwoody cluster and urged the district to open another new school. “Long term capacity is still a major problem,” a parent said. Some parents questioned the legitimacy of the projected growth data and called for more transparency from the district. The staff-recommended plan would move 106 students from Dunwoody to Austin and 78 students from Vanderlyn to Austin. The plan also would move 90 Dunwoody students to Vanderlyn; 40 Dunwoody students to Chesnut; 21 Vanderlyn students to Kingsley; 65 Hightower students to Kingsley; 2 Kingsley students to Vanderlyn; 6 Dunwoody students to Chesnut; and 17 Chesnut students to Hightower. Parents from Dunwoody, Kingsley and Vanderlyn questioned the district’s decision to move students around Dunwoody schools with ultimately little to no overcrowding relief. “This plan unnecessarily moves almost 200 students, causing disruption to the Vanderlyn community and emotional unrest for our children, all for a net reduction in enrollment of 7 students from our school,” one parent said in an email. “Moving two students from Vanderlyn to Kingsley, six students from Dunwoody to Kingsley and eight students to Chesnut is frankly ridiculous and isolating, putting students miles away from their closest school neighbors, and in no way is a solution,” another parent said in an email. “DeKalb County has not done this thoughtfully and is disrupting hundreds of kids with no real progress.” DUN

Commentary | 7


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

Sandy Springs resident joins the ‘Georgia Gang’ The table on the set of the state’s lonand 2007. I was told it was nonpartisan, but gest-running TV issues show, “The Georgia I saw a lot of President Obama’s stuff being Gang,” now has a new occucirculated. I didn’t understand. pant of the middle seat: Sandy That didn’t really seem nonSprings resident Janelle partisan.” CarolKing. Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the DunwoodyAs anyone who hasSandy watched Nevertheless, she was imSprings line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at the 37-year-old Sunday mornpressed by Obama and his ing talk show on FOX 5 knows, ground game. the panel consists of two com“I looked up to him and votmentators from the political ed for him the first time, even left, two from the right and a though I didn’t agree with evmoderator. erything he stood for,” she said. King, 35, joined the show “It was historical.” in August and, as the show’s But having been born in youngest panelist, offers a Connecticut and raised in youthful perspective. An North Carolina in “a totally SPECIAL Janelle King, the avowed Republican political non-political family,” she realnewest member of activist and President Trump ized she didn’t know what ei“The Georgia Gang.” supporter, she seems reasonther party stood for and decidable and thoughtful, perhaps ed to find out. because of how she became a Republican. “I researched both parties based on the It began at North Carolina A&T State values I was raised with -- school choice, perUniversity, the top-ranked historically black sonal responsibility, small government, procollege in the state. life. That’s when I said, ‘I’m a Republican.’” “When I was a junior,” she said, “I saw a She voted for Mitt Romney the next time. voter registration drive happening in 2006 So new was she to politics that she didn’t re-

alize how few minority voters nationwide agreed with her. “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I thought everyone had a right to decide,” she said. She moved to Atlanta jobless in 2007 to pursue her interest in politics and had a job within a month. A friend warned that her political views could make life difficult. Her response was to be more “vocal,” not less. If she as a young black woman identified with conservative values, might other minority voters feel the same way when exposed to Republican policies? “I went on a mission working with the state party as a volunteer educating our community,” she said. Thus began her career as a volunteer event organizer bringing Republican leaders into minority communities in Georgia’s smaller towns. The event she’s proudest of was in 2015 at a community center in East Point for minority small-business owners, where she brought in then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp. “He was my first bigname person,” she said, “and I got a lot of pushback for inviting him.” She is now a paid staffer of the Georgia Republican Party. She was in the capacity-filled room at the World Congress Center when Trump launched “Black Voices for Trump” on Nov. 8. Trump invited her husband, Kelvin King, to the dais to talk about growing a successful general contracting firm from his bedroom to its own 12,000-square-foot office building in just seven years. On the dais with him, King said she

was proud of her husband and grateful to Trump for helping to make it all possible. She told me her only regret was that “the room wasn’t big enough.” With such conservative credentials, how does she get along with the other two African American commentators on “The Georgia Gang,” Alexis Scott and Tharon Johnson, who are both staunch liberals? “It’s a respect factor,” she said. “I may disagree with Alexis and Tharon’s opinions, but I respect them.” She has particular respect for Scott, a longtime respected journalist who for 17 years served as editor-in-chief and publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, the nation’s first successful black-owned daily newspaper, founded in 1928 by her grandfather, W. A. Scott II. “Alexis endured a lot so that I don’t have to,” she said. “I appreciate that because of what she’s done, I can go my own way.” King has no desire to run for office. Instead, her goal is to recruit and help minority candidates who want to run as Republicans. “Demographics are shifting,” she said. “The Republican Party has to grow in diversity.” “You may not agree with who represents the party at this time, but it doesn’t change the foundational values the party stands on,” she said. “It’s a value system no matter who’s in office.”

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8 | Community ■

Panel recalls FBI, AJC roles in case of Richard Jewell, Olympics bombing hero turned suspect BY JOHN RUCH


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ator John Pruitt, a former WSB-TV news anchor, read a Facebook post from Dana Jewell praising the book and saying, “I made a promise to Richard when he died, I would tell his story.” The Olympics were a watershed moment for Atlanta, stirring local pride, at-

One of the dark moments in Atlanta’s history, the 1996 Summer Olympics bombing, grew darker still when the FBI and major media wrongly fingered heroic security guard Richard Jewell as the bomber. A Nov. 12 panel discussion at the Atlanta History Center about “The Suspect,” a new book telling Jewell’s story, was a historic moment in itself, gathering significant figures from the case onstage and in the audience. Drawing a crowd of hundreds, the event was partly SPECIAL a preemptive strike Richard Jewell, right, joined by attorney L. Lin Wood at a on how Atlanta 2006 event where Jewell was honored by Gov. Sonny Perdue may be portrayed as a rescue hero of the Atlanta Olympics bombing. in Clint Eastwood’s upcoming movie about Jewell, partly a lectracting international media attention, ture on history and Jewell’s life, and partly building venues ranging from modern an emotional reflection on an investigalandmarks to white elephants, and sparktion gone astray while the real bomber esing massive downtown redevelopment caped to continue his crimes. Jewell died and gentrification. The History Center is at age 44 in 2007. the official repository of Games artifacts “The Suspect” co-authors Kent Alexanand is in the midst of remaking its Olymder, who was Atlanta’s chief federal prospics exhibit for a 2020 debut. ecutor at the time, and Kevin Salwen, the The bombing is part of that history, Wall Street Journal’s regional editor durand commemorations of Jewell’s heroic ing the Olympics, were on the panel. So role are increasing. On July 27, 1996, terwas Bert Roughton, a former Atlanta Jourrorist Eric Rudolph planted a pipe bomb nal-Constitution editor involved in the pain Centennial Olympic Park. Jewell, a seper’s decision to reveal Jewell as the FBI’s curity guard who lived on Buford Highsuspect. Roughton said it was the first way, discovered the bomb and led an eftime he had discussed the controversial fort to clear the area before it exploded. story before an audience. One person was killed and many injured, “I know that a lot of people secondbut Jewell’s effort is credited with savguess and say, ‘Oh, we would never do ing many more lives. Rudolph went on to that,’” said Roughton about publishing the bomb an Atlanta lesbian bar and abortion Jewell scoop, based on leaked information clinics in Sandy Springs and Alabama, obtained by the late reporter Kathy Scrugkilling two more people, and became a fugs. “I don’t believe that there’s a red-bloodgitive until his 2003 capture. The Georgia ed American journalist who, in that same World Congress Center recently said that set of circumstances, wouldn’t have gone a plaque honoring Jewell will be placed in ahead and published the story. …That’s the park next year, according to the Atlannot to say that what happened to Richard ta Business Chronicle. Jewell after that wasn’t awful. A new take on the bombing and its af“There was absolutely a rush to judgtermath is about to enter popular culment in the media and law enforceture: Eastwood’s movie “Richard Jewell” is ment…,” said Alexander, while also descheduled for release on Dec. 13. In a rescribing Jewell as a valid suspect. “So, rush cent AJC essay, Roughton voiced anxiety to judgment, yes. But should Richard Jewabout how the film might portray Jewell ell have been a suspect? Yes, also.” and Scruggs. Among those in the audience were Pruitt echoed that sentiment early in Watson Bryant, Jewell’s defense attorthe panel discussion, cautioning that the ney; Dana Jewell, the widow of Richard; film “will be Hollywood’s version of what Bill Rankin, an AJC reporter who co-wrote happening in our town in that horrible a crucial story casting doubt on Jewell’s time.” He said Alexander and Salwen’s guilt; and George Hamilton, who said he book gives the “truly objective” story. was Scruggs’ partner before her death in Alexander noted that he and Salwen 2001 at age 42. served as advisers on Eastwood’s project, During the discussion, panel moderthough they have yet to see it. “I would

Community | 9



From left, panelists Bert Roughton, former senior managing editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and “The Suspect” co-authors Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen, joined by moderator John Pruitt, listen to an introduction by Atlanta History Center President and CEO Sheffield Hale at the Nov. 12 panel discussion.

just encourage everybody not to prejudge the movie,” Alexander said. Salwen said the book leaves moral lessons up to the readers to conclude, because “it’s not so, necessarily, black-andwhite.” The FBI’s obsession with Jewell was one of those gray areas, Alexander and Salwen said. Jewell was one of three major suspects, Alexander said, but added that the FBI had some cause to zero in on him with their theory that he planted the bomb to look like a hero. But the FBI also delayed the use of other evidence while focusing on Jewell, Alexander said. One witness described a suspect at the bomb scene who later was

confirmed to be Rudolph. “That will haunt me forever,” Alexander said. At the AJC, Scruggs’ scoop about the investigation turned into the paper’s most notorious and controversial story. Roughton strongly defended its publication, while acknowledging some mixed feelings and certain personal qualms he had with it then and now. He also disagreed with Alexander and Salwen’s assertions that the paper may have rushed the story due to competitive pressure. “Fine, I’m happy to be a piñata,” Roughton joked at one point. But he later said, “We lose track of the fact that we’re writContinued on page 10

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10 | Community ■

Panel recalls FBI, AJC roles in case of Richard Jewell, Olympics bombing hero turned suspect Continued from page 9 ing about people,” and that his favorite part of “The Suspect” was learning more about Jewell as a person. “He had become a public character in a story that had this extremely bizarre twist and also at the same time [was] the biggest story on Earth,” Roughton said in defense of the Jewell investigation scoop. “… I still believe that we did the right thing. We had an American citizen who was being pursued by the full apparatus of the American government in some way. And this is debatable, but I would argue that we have an obligation to put some daylight on that.” But that doesn’t mean the editing and publication process was easy. Roughton was one of several AJC staffers involved before then Managing Editor John Walter made the decision to publish. “It was a very difficult discussion, I have to say,” Roughton said. “Part of what I want to personally be careful about is not becoming defensive… There are a lot of good questions around what we did at the time, and I think there are good journalistic questions about that, and those are important. And I think in the world we live in, they’re more important now than they may even have been then.” Roughton disputed Alexander and Sal-

wen’s repeated statements that Scruggs’ source was a leaker inside the FBI. Scruggs and co-reporter Ron Martz never revealed their sources, even when threatened with jail time in a subsequent libel lawsuit, and Roughton wouldn’t, either. “I won’t even acknowledge that there’s an FBI source, if there was one,” he said, though adding the source had “very deep firsthand knowledge of the FBI.” Debate over the AJC’s role comes down to whether the paper was too uncritical in reporting a mistaken suspicion. Alexander said the AJC was not aware that the FBI had other suspects as well. It was when all FBI officials stopped talking to the media that the AJC scored another scoop. Rankin, the AJC reporter, found that Jewell did not have time to both plant the bomb and to reach a pay phone used by the bomber to make a warning call. With officials not talking about the investigation, “that was the only reporting we could do,” Roughton said, and it helped to lead to Jewell’s exoneration. Jewell soon filed libel lawsuits against several major media outlets, including the AJC, CNN and NBC News. In a long and fierce case involving prominent Buckhead attorney L. Lin Wood, among others, the AJC finally emerged victorious in 2011 and was the only media outlet not to settle with Jewell or his estate.

LO CAL M EM O R IES O F A TER R O R I S T’S B O M B I NG S P R EE While security guard Richard Jewell was briefly suspected of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, the real perpetrator was right-wing terrorist Eric Rudolph. After the Olympics, Rudolph went on to bomb an LGBTQ nightclub in Atlanta and two medical clinics that performed abortions, one in Alabama and one in Sandy Springs. The Sandy Springs bombing on Jan. 16, 1997, at an office building at 275 Carpenter Drive, was the first use of his tactic of setting off a delayed second bomb in an attempt to kill first responders. He was captured in the North Carolina mountains in 2003 and is serving a life sentence in a federal “supermax” prison. Here are some memories about the Olympics and Sandy Springs bombings. If you have memories you would like to share, email and we may use them in a future story. Centennial Olympic Park bombing MITCH LEFF Then: Public relations rep for Olympics sponsors; Now: President and CEO, Leff & Associates public relations I was working for a local public relations agency, representing several major Olympic sponsors. That day was a busy one and I had fallen asleep on my couch with the TV on when I got

a call from a friend checking to see if I was OK. She thought I was working down at Centennial Olympic Park that night. Initially, Jewell was hailed as a hero for getting people away from the bomb and I was part of the team that was fielding media calls and setting up interviews with him. That lasted for a day or so. When he was named a suspect, we had to stop. Sandy Springs bombing STEVE ROSE Then: Fulton County police officer; Now: Retired Sandy Springs police captain My car was there, but I was not. I left a day earlier on vacation to Lake Tahoe. At the time, I was assigned as security for Fulton Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis. He told my sub to take him to the bomb site. They parked beside another car near a dumpster. They were standing in the parking lotwhen a second bomb went off in or next to the dumpster. The car next to mine took the brunt of it, but the blast was so strong my car assumed it was a collision and activated the fuel shutoff valve, disabling the car from starting. That Crown Vic never worked right again.

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Community | 11


Council approves $215K more for Brook Run Park; contractor cited by state environmental agency BY DYANA BAGBY

The City Council approved an additional $215,000 to Brook Run Park’s capital budget at its Nov. 18 meeting after the contractor Reeves Young said it has experienced unexpected costs. The increase bumps the total budget to nearly $7.8 million. Reeves Young was also recently cited by the state Environmental Protection Division for several issues including not maintaining silt fences to keep construction pollutants out of a stream in the park. But no environmental damage was reported, according to the agency. Reeves Young is heading up the construction of two new athletic fields at Brook Run Park as well as a new great lawn area, an amphitheater, a pavilion and other new amenities. The council last year approved a nearly $7.6 million “guaranteed maximum budget” for the projects that was to ensure no unexpected costs in 2019. Officials told the council that the extra costs requiring the budget amendment are largely due to crews hitting tons of concrete foundation from the demolished former hospital campus once located at the back of the park. The hospital served people with disabilities and was closed in 1997 before DeKalb County tore the building down in 2007. The $215,000 includes a $66,000 contingency. The money is needed to cover removal costs of the concrete, footers, grade beams, slabs and pilings, according to Eric Johnson, president of Comprehensive Program Services. The city hired CPS as project manager. Council members asked where the $215,000 will come from to cover the extra costs. “I was wondering that,” Finance Director Linda Nabors said from her seat in the audience at the meeting. Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki jumped up to say the city has money in other capital projects to pull from to cover the $215,000 and would present the information at the council’s next meeting. Crews hit the tons of buried hospital foundation in June when excavation began on the athletic fields. At that time, city officials said there would be no budget overrun because removal costs would be covered by the city’s $99,000 contingency fund included in the original $7.6 million budget.

“A stop work order was issued and the contractor was informed of violations, including paperwork reporting deficiencies,” said Rich Edinger, a city engineer, in an email. “The contractor performed this maintenance and corrected the paperwork problems within the time frames prescribed by the city’s code,” he said. “At no time did any sediment move into state waters.” The EPD conducted an evaluation of the Brook Run Park construction site on Oct. 23 after receiving a citizen complaint. According to the EPD’s report, no sediment entered the state creek in the park and there were no state violations. Sediment, such as rocks and minerals, around construction sites can include pesticides and other pollutants that can harm the land and the wildlife if dumped into natural streams. Edinger said the city appreciates the EPD’s “oversight and participation in assisting the city and addressing citizen concerns.” The City Council earlier this year approved a controversial variance allowing the city’s contractors to encroach into the city’s 75-foot stream buffer to build retaining walls for the athletic fields.

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The city recently issued a one-day stop work order against Reeves Young after the contractor was cited by the state Environmental Protection Division for not maintaining required silt fencing to keep pollution out of the Nancy Creek tributary in the park while constructing the athletic fields. Other deficiencies the EPD noted included Reeves Young not keeping proper paperwork such as required sample testing. City officials say all repairs have been made and proper paperwork filed. They also said no sediment entered the stream. DUN

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12 | Community ■

How a ‘blue wave’ helped elect an independent mayor BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.nt

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Lynn Deutsch will be the city’s next mayor beginning Jan. 2, and she acknowledges she benefited from the Democratic “blue wave” sweeping the traditionally Republican suburbs in her Nov. 5 election. But, she said, she is an independent, not a Democrat as many people perceive her to be. And winning a City Council seat was Joe Seconder, who came out publicly as a Democrat in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory and helped found the now defunct group Perimeter Progressives. The winning candidates said national politics had no direct impact on their victories. They say they focused on local issues, kept their campaigns nonpartisan and worked harder to reach more voters with their visions for the city’s future. Others say it mattered. A new wave of activists, volunteers and voters were awakened following Trump’s election who are now becoming involved at local levels, said state Rep. Mike Wilensky. Wilensky beat Dunwoody’s founding mayor and Republican Ken Wright last year to replace Republican Tom Taylor in the General Assembly. “I think we did see [national views] trickle down to the city level by people who want to see progress in their cities and businesses thriving and leaders looking out for their citizens,” Wilensky said. “I do think Dunwoody is moderate and leaning Democrat,” he said.” Deutsch beat Terry Nall with approximately 61% of the vote on Nov. 5 to replace Denis Shortal as mayor, according to unofficial results. In the wake of Trump’s election, Deutsch publicly backed Democrat Jon Ossoff when he ran against Republican Karen Handel for the 6th Congressional District seat in 2017. Nall backed his friend Handel. The local race for mayor, as seen by some, was Democrat versus Republican. Nall, however, said he is not a Republican. He said he identifies as “servant leader with conservative principles.” And Deutsch said she is not a Democrat. “I am an independent. Truly,” she said. “I hate being pigeonholed and have supported candidates from both parties. I vote by the issue, not the party.” That may surprise the Democratic Party of Georgia. In a press release congratulating Democrats for winning municipal races, chair Nikema Williams said, “From city council victories in Rome and Statesboro, to mayorships in Dunwoody, Savannah and Valdosta, Georgia Democrats have proved that our movement is powerful, and that our voters will not be ignored.”

Deutsch said she was not contacted about the press release and she did not receive any support from the state Democratic Party during her campaign. “This was not a race about partisan politics, but [about] the future of Dunwoody, and my message resonated with voters about how we can move Dunwoody forward, across political spectrums and ages and stages of life,” she said. Fran Millar lost to Democrat Sally Harrell last year in an election largely defined by anti-Trump sentiment, changing demographics in the affluent suburbs, and overwhelming Democrat voter turnout spurred by Stacey Abrams’ historic bid for governor. He said Deutsch being a woman contributed to her victory because he and Nall fall into what he called the “O.W.G. category.” That means, “old, white guy,” Millar said, a pejorative term used by some to describe conservative politicians who oppose progressive policies. And what is happening at the national level, he said, permeates to the local down to the local level. “I still think they are nonpartisan races … and I wish they were still viewed that way,” Millar said. “They are a lot more partisan than they were. The need for nonpartisanship is more important than ever.” Seconder, a first-time candidate known for his bicycling advocacy, narrowly defeated Heyward Wescott for the District 2 at Large seat with nearly 52% of the vote, according to unofficial results. He said he ran a bipartisan campaign with bipartisan support and his service in the Army and Georgia National Guard appealed to many voters. “When people did ask me about what my national party is, I kept pivoting back that this was a nonpartisan election,” he said. “People want good governance and good stewards of taxpayer funds.” The new political activists spurred by Trump’s election, particularly women, have decided it was time to not only fight against his policies, but to also fight for their communities, said state Rep. Sally Harrell. That means women are taking more active roles at the local level. “Because we’ve realized that the values we share impact our local communities … values such as people over profit,” she said. Harrell said the new political activists she met during her campaign, most of whom live in Dunwoody, are the “emergency democracy workers, like the Red Cross, that kept the energy level up.” “I think Trump started the movement in 2016, when emergency democracy workers rose up and became a community, and now it’s not so much about being against Trump as it is being for something,” she said.


Community | 13


Some residents, officials champion city investing tax dollars to revitalize Dunwoody Village BY DYANA BAGBY

City officials are finalizing details on recommended changes to Dunwoody Village to create a more vibrant mixeduse downtown district. How to pay for some of the recommendations such as public green spaces include calls for the city to invest taxpayer dollars to update the area known as the heart of the city. Dunwoody Village is a retail and restaurant hub at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody roads surrounded by residential neighborhoods. A 2011 master plan for the 165acre area envisioned the commercial area with a “village green” that would attract residents and visitors to its dining, retail and entertainment options. But that vision has failed to materialize within the several shopping centers currently dominated by large surface parking lots. City leaders are hoping an update to zoning regulations will guide future redevelopment to create more of a mixed-use, vibrant downtown area. “The main question is how will we make this come to fruition,” said City Councilmember-elect Stacey Harris at a Nov. 16 community meeting to review the suggested updates. The council is expected to get a final Dunwoody Village plan for review early next year. Harris was one of nearly 100 people who crowded into a room at Vintage Pizzeria on Nov. 16 to hear the proposals from consulting firm TSW. The proposals are based on a survey, city staff and community input made online and during a June meeting. Participants at the Nov. 16 meeting also submitted more comments to be considered before a final draft is submitted to the city for a council vote. An online survey for more input is on the city’s website through Dec. 13. TSW recommended the city consider making public/private investments in what is now an area largely owned by private companies Regency Centers and Brand Properties. The shopping centers are mostly full of tenants with long-term leases and some say they have no incentives to change what is already there because the businesses and property owners continue to see profits. Harris said she supports the city investing in public green spaces and parking decks as suggested in the plan. Parking decks can replace the vast surface parking lots and green spaces can draw people to the city’s center. “But how will we invest, from where will we get the money and how much DUN

will be invested still has to be decided,” Harris said. “The 2011 plan did not take into account this was on private property … but this [plan] takes into account we have to work hand-in-hand with private property owners.” Robert Wittenstein, a former City Council member who also worked on the 2011 plan, said it is time for the city to make financial investments in the area, including possibly buying parcels of land. “Setting up zoning is a passive way to encourage change,” he said at the meeting. “Let’s spend some taxpayer dollars to make a green space instead of waiting for another entity to make an open space sometime in the future.” Danny Ross, who served on the inaugural council and worked on the 2011 plan, also said private property owners have no reason to make any of the changes being recommended unless the city provides incentives. TSW outlined some suggested land uses, such as open spaces and parking decks, that would only be required when new redevelopment takes place, according to the draft plan. Key recommendations include: ■ Dividing Dunwoody Village into four districts: DV-1 would be Village Commercial and includes existing shopping centers area outside Dunwoody Village Parkway and Chamblee-Dunwoody Road such as where Mellow Mushroom is as well as Dunwoody Plaza ; DV-2 would be Village Office and includes current small office parks along Mount Vernon Road ; DV-3 would be Village Residential and includes the new townhomes along Dunwoody Village Parkway, the Dunwoody United Methodist Church site, and where the Spruill Center for the Arts and Dunwoody Library are located; and DV-4 would be Village Center and would include the major shopping centers enclosed within Dunwoody Village Parkway. ■ Maximum building heights in DV-4, the Village Center, would be 5 stories; building heights in the other districts would be 3 stories. ■ Single-family detached houses would not be allowed in any of the new districts. ■ Multiunit residential buildings would be allowed in all districts. However, apartment buildings would be required to obtain a special land use permit from the City Council. Owner-occupied townhouses and condominiums would be allowed by right. This would allow for people to live in condos above storefront retail, for example, according


An illustration of a recommended map for the Dunwoody Village area that divides the area into four districts with different land uses. Consultants are recommending residential uses in the center area of the Dunwoody Village where the major shopping centers are located. Parking decks and green spaces are also suggested.

to TSW. Maximum density for residential would be capped at 12 units per acre. ■ Commercial buildings would not be allowed to be more than 50,000 square feet to prevent “big box” retail. ■ Drive-throughs would be prohibited. No new banks would be allowed within a quarter-mile of an existing bank. ■ Gas stations, car sales lots and car repair businesses would be prohibited. ■ Open space requirements for any new development would be required to be designed as a “high-quality spaces” such as a plaza, park or common area. For example, a redeveloped site under 1 acre would require a 5% open space; a redeveloped site over 10 acres would require 15% open space. ■ Two large open green spaces are recommended to in the Village Center area where surface parking is now located around the U.S. post office. ■ Two public parking decks are recommended in the north and south sec-

tions of the Village Center district. ■ Storefront retail would be required along Chamblee-Dunwoody Road portions of Dunwoody Village Parkway and Mount Vernon Road within the Village Center district. A long-term proposed street framework to create more of a grid within the Dunwoody Village area so the area is not only served by Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody roads is also proposed. The two major roads are often congested with traffic and by planning for smaller, connecting streets within Dunwoody Village, traffic could be alleviated, according to TSW. New streetscape designs on Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody roads include multiuse trails and landscape buffers to protect pedestrians. Slower speed limits and narrowing the roads is also being recommended to slow traffic. Slide presentations and more information on the Dunwoody Village update can be visiting

14 | Community ■

Mayor-elect Deutsch says city is ready to ‘imagine what else it can be’ Continued from page 1 and paving and parks. When we do the big things well, we can imagine what else we can be,” she said. “And I think that’s the referendum of the last eight years.” Deutsch said she plans to convene a meeting with all DeKalb mayors within the first three months in office to address serious issues facing the DeKalb County School District, including overcrowding, redistricting and facilities maintenance. Schools are not under the city’s control, but Deutsch said Dunwoody and other municipalities can collaborate with DeKalb Schools to come up with a strategy to determine what role local governments can play in helping to solve the problems. She’s also focused on “getting a strong handle” on ways to revitalize the 165-acre Dunwoody Village overlay at the intersec-

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working with federal and state agencies to get funding for more trails across the city; and using hotel-motel tax dollars to expedite building a park and trails in Perimeter Center. “We have thousands of residents who live in Perimeter Center and they have no public park,” she said. “And I feel strongly that the people who work in Perimeter Center should not have to drive to get lunch. There are so many options to eat there and we should make it safe for them to walk … and that means less traffic.” Deutsch said it is crucial that Dunwoody participates in in regional and state discussions with agencies like the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Atlanta Regional Commission and MARTA. Their plans directly impact the city, she said, and she wants to make sure Dunwoody has a voice.


Lynn Deutsch, center, celebrated her victory as the city’s next mayor at her Nov. 5 election party with supporters Steven Strasberg, left, and Jill Vogin.

tion of Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody roads that has long been considered the “heart” of the city. The overlay includes privately owned commercial areas with restaurants and retail surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The commercial areas include several surface parking lots with no green spaces and different-sized streets and sidewalks that are not friendly to pedestrians or bicyclists. Making the city safer for pedestrians, cyclists and others who don’t drive in cars is also a priority, she said. She said in talking to people ranging from older residents to the youngest families on the campaign trail, many said the same thing – they feel the city lacks a true town center. “What I want for Dunwoody residents is to feel like they can spend their leisure time in Dunwoody and not feel like they have to add to the regional traffic problem by getting in their car and driving two cities over for dinner or to take an art class or see a play or even go to a playground,” she said. “That’s what I think the next 10 years [of cityhood] are about.” Strategies she said she’s ready to take on next include: gathering public input on the city’s year-long process beginning in January to update its comprehensive plan;

Deutsch made headlines earlier this year protesting GDOT’s plan to add toll lanes on I-285. She expects the toll lanes to severely impact the Georgetown community. She once even said she would lay down in front of a bulldozer to stop the project. Now, she said, it’s clear GDOT “will just run over me.” Working with GDOT on mitigation is now her focus, she said. That includes having the agency build sound walls before construction begins, even if it means relocating the sound wall after the project is finished, she said. She also said she wants to convince GDOT to build a multiuse trail on Cotillion Drive that the city was ready to move forward on, but had to stop because of the plan for toll lanes. The city’s next decade also includes preserving and enhancing the city’s numerous neighborhoods that, Deutsch said, make Dunwoody the “best place to live.” “I want Dunwoody to be relevant and for it to be people’s first choice to live and have a business,” she said. “Truthfully, there is no better place to raise a family than Dunwoody and I wouldn’t trade this city for anything. “My election validates my vision and I’m really excited for Dunwoody’s future.” DUN

Community | 15


Shortal honored with proclamation for years of service to city BY DYANA BAGBY

Denis Shortal was honored with a proclamation thanking him for his service to the city that spanned from its incorporation more than a decade ago to his term as mayor that ends this year. The proclamation was presented to Shortal at the city’s annual volunteer dinner held Nov. 14 that recognizes residents who service on local boards and commissions as well as other nonprofit organizations. “Denny stuck to his principles … and played such an important role in the formation of the city,” said Mayor-elect Lynn Deutsch in an interview. “He stuck to his principles and values and he will be a tough act to follow.” At the Nov. 14 dinner, Deutsch presented Shortal with a proclamation declaring Nov. 14, 2019, as “Denny Shortal Day.” The proclamation said, in part, that Shortal is “known for staying true to his principles, working through critical issues by careful consideration of all angles and relevant information, he is also known for his quick wit and astuteness when the occasion warrants, an ‘Oorah!’ for his beloved U.S. Marine Corps.” The proclamation further said that Shortal’s influence “will continue to be to the betterment of his comDenis Shortal. munity.” Shortal said it has been a “labor of love” to serve Dunwoody over the past 11 years. “I love this community; I love the citizens. And I think we’ve made some very substantial progress,” he said. “Our number-one goal is to enhance the lives of our citizens.” Shortal said he wished the best for the new mayor and council members. “My wish for them is to continue to listen to the citizens and to continue to provide

them with the service that we have provided to our citizens over the last 11 years,” he said. Shortal said he may not be completely done with public service and said he would be willing to assist in any future projects if city leadership asks him. But his plans for right now are to take time off to spend time with his children and grandchildren. Councilmember Terry Nall praised Shortal for his “passion for making our Dunwoody community a better place to live, work and play.” “The first decade of Dunwoody as a city definitely is filled with his imprints on accomplished results and with promises made that remain to be fulfilled as an ongoing work-in-progress,” Nall said. “We offer our gratitude for Denny being involved in our city’s earliest years, as he leaves a solid foundation for our bright future.” Councilmember Pam Tallmadge said Shortal’s love for his country was instilled in him at a young age while growing up on a farm. That love for country transferred easily to his service in Dunwoody, she said. “He went into the Marines, climbing to the honorable rank of brigadier general … and his flying passion into another career, commercial airlines pilot, where he had the talent to use his people skills,” Tallmadge said. “His love of country has become the cornerstone for building his devotion to Dunwoody,” she said. “We thank you for your service to God, country, family and serving our city of Dunwoody well.” Shortal announced in April at the city’s 10th annual State of the City that he was not seeking re-election and was stepping down from public life to spend more time with his family. Shortal was treasurer of the Dunwoody Yes group that organized and lobbied the General Assembly to give residents the opportunity to vote to establish the city. Residents got the vote in 2008 and overwhelmingly approved the measure. Shortal was then elected to the inaugural City Council in December 2008. He represented District 1 until 2015 when he decided to step down from his post and challenge incumbent Mike Davis for the mayor’s seat. Shortal defeated Davis and was sworn in as mayor in January 2016.

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Reporter Newspapers

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

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Commentary: Police cameras are always watching More than 10,000 cameras are watching Atlanta for 24 hours a day and on every day of the year, according to the Atlanta Police Foundation. The foundation says the cameras, through a video surveillance program called Operation Shield, allow police “to prevent crimes before they happen and quickly solve them when they do.” Meanwhile, surveillance cameras have become a target of protests in such places as Hong Kong. We asked Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the foundation, a half-dozen questions about Operation Shield and camera surveillance. Here are his answers. Q: How and where does Operation Shield gather information for police?

Q: What benefits have local police seen from use of the cameras? Do you have any statistics for arrests made through use of cameras or before and after crime reports from areas that use the cameras?

Operation Shield consists of a network of cameras and license plate readers placed across the city that feed footage into the Atlanta Police DepartThe cameras provide APD ment’s (APD) Video Integrawith a “smart policing” tool tion Center. The program that can be used during or acts as both a preventative after a crime’s occurrence. and investigative measure The program has been infor crime. APD signage and strumental in solving some a signature blue light athigh-profile cases including tached to each camera serve the tragic homicide that ocas a crime deterrent to let curred in 2018 at the Barcepotential criminals know lona Wine Bar and the firethey are being watched. bombing of an APD officer’s Dave Wilkinson, home earlier this year. Areas Should a crime occur, the president and CEO of the where cameras are installed cameras provide real time Atlanta Police Foundation have experienced a 20%information to APD for increased situational aware50% reduction in crime. ness, as well as access to past Q: Who gets information from the camfootage for investigations. eras and how is it used? Q. How many cameras are now in operaThe camera footage belongs to the owntion and monitored by Operation Shield ers of the cameras themselves. Some of in the city of Atlanta? In metro Atlanta the cameras are owned by the city of At(if you know)? lanta, while others are privately funded There are nearly 11,000 Operation Shield by businesses and philanthropic organicameras placed throughout the city of Atzations. APD has access to the cameras lanta. Additional cameras are networked for real-time information, should a crime in from the city of Sandy Springs. We occur in the cameras’ views, and limithope to eventually expand the program ed access for a period of two weeks afterto other jurisdictions in the metro area. wards for the purpose of investigations.

Following this, footage needs to be requested from the camera owner. Q: Does Operation Shield use facial recognition software? Can the software used to operate cameras for Operation Shield be converted to use facial recognition software in the future? Operation Shield does not currently use facial recognition software. The Atlanta Police Foundation’s Technology Innovation Center researches and pilots multiple smart policing tools each year, but we are not currently working with a platform that incorporates that type of software. Q: In some places, such as China, cameras reportedly have been used to invade people’s privacy or to identify people who in some way are at odds with the government. What keeps that from happening here? All Operation Shield cameras – even privately funded cameras – exist in public spaces such as streets, sidewalks, public parking lots, parks, etc. They only record where the general public has free and unfettered access. The program is designed to be a “force multiplier,” increasing police presence and public space surveillance.

Letter to the Editor

DeKalb Schools’ Austin redistricting process is dividing communities As most Dunwoody residents are aware, the opening – and subsequent redistricting – of Austin Elementary has been top of mind as we move through the 2019-2020 school year. It is – to put it mildly – not going well. The DeKalb County School District has not approached this process in a way that is thoughtful or considerate to the community. With each map presented, emotions run high. Communities are divided, neighbors are fighting, and the students are quite frankly stressed out at not only the idea of changing schools, but the fact that the process has divided their community in such a significant way. The latest option, presented on Nov. 20, proposes 533 children moving from one school to another – more than the new seats at Austin Elementary represent. With, at last count, 4,226 students in the cluster, 13% of children in the Dunwoody community will have their school

lives upended. Many of these children are moving in small groups, unnecessarily disrupting a community with no real impact to the school’s student load. DeKalb County School District, and especially Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson, if you’re reading this: please understand that this process has placed a dark cloud over this school year. Consider the stress you’re putting on our community, and approach the final stages of this process in a way that benefits all of the schools in the Dunwoody cluster, not just the one with the loudest voice. The latest map benefits Austin and Hightower, and gives a small amount of relief to Dunwoody Elementary, but leaves Chesnut, Vanderlyn and especially Kingsley with extreme overcrowding issues in the immediate term, not to mention that with projected growth the situation will be worse than it is today in only a few years. We ask that whichever map ends up

being the final – and you’ve made it clear that the final version may be a completely different option that anything we have seen during the community feedback sessions – consider a longer-term solution for the Dunwoody community. Our middle and high schools are facing the same overcrowding issue as the elementary schools. Consider the option that disrupts the fewest children in the immediate term, as we will face this issue again very soon. Thanks for listening, Dunwoody community. Please encourage DCSD to approach the final stages of this process thoughtfully and with consideration to the most important stakeholders in this process – the children. Marissa Evans President Dunwoody Trace HOA/Huntington Hall


Commentary | 17


Family ‘tree-dition’ brings the thrill of the last-minute Christmas tree If it’s Thanksgiving weekend and you’re reading this by the glow of your Christmas tree lights, then you won’t understand. My family is not one to eat the turkey and trim the tree in the same weekend. We like to push the envelope around here. We have our own tradition, which is that is that we wait until the Christmas aisles in the drugstore are packed up to make way for boxes of Valentine’s candy before we finally pick out the tree. The thing is, we’ve always chosen it together. We’d drive home with the tree strapped to the car, on, perhaps, a brisk December evening, and I’d turn on seasonal music, they’d move furniture, I’d pour drinks, they’d tarp the floor, I’d make food, they’d bring in the tree, my husband would pull out the ShopVac, and everyone would scatter. It was a sweet and manageable tradition when the kids were all younger, but it’s getting to be increasingly more difficult. It’s not that we venture to a tree farm in the Carolinas and chop it down ourselves. We just try to find an hour that we all agree on, and that is challenging enough. Each year, the kids are further away from home and arrive later in the month of December, and each year around the 17th, I launch a frantic campaign of texts and WhatsApps designed for us to choose a three-hour time slot during which we can convene for the annual (ahem) tree-dition. Robin Conte lives with her Last year, the appointed day was Dec. 23. We knew that the husband in an empty nest tree-nabbing window was quickly closing and we were cutin Dunwoody. To contact ting it dangerously close and that pickins would most likely be her or to buy her column slim, but we were fortified by the memory of the Tanenbaum collection, “The Best of the of 2004, a 12-foot-tall beauty which we bought at Home Depot Nest,” see on Christmas Eve for 10 bucks. But last year, you may recall, was an especially wet one near Christmas, not the ideal conditions for peddling holiday greenery, and when we finally set out at 7 p.m. to our favorite tree lot (three-quarters of a mile from our house), we were stunned to find that the lot was completely closed. There was nary a pine needle in sight. We drove to the next one down the street, and it, too, was closed. Then, mild panic set in. We called Costco. No trees. Walmart. No trees. Home Depot. Yes, there were a few left. We drove in the rain to the tarped lot, where another forlorn family was picking in the rubble. On one side of the tent was a pile of trees, flopped on their sides, sacked out like a group of diehards on the final night of a three-day music festival. We picked through the pile, searching for a suitable tree. They were all soaked and puny, supposedly a bargain at $30. We each scouted around the debris as I got the sinking feeling that I would have to create a facsimile that season using a bicycle pump and some green felt. My son eyed a possibility in the midst of the pack and picked it up with one hand, giving it a little shake while needles tinkled to the ground like they did for Charlie Brown’s tree. The tree-lot guy agreed to 10 bucks for it (basically $2.50 a foot), and we took it home and mounted it on a stool. It held approximately 1/154 the amount of ornaments we had, which meant that we decorated it in 15 minutes, and -- even better -- a few weeks later, it came down in an hour. Now I know the appeal of a tabletop tree. And now, I really do feel old.

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

An activist and grandmother writes her memoir

Sherry Frank wears a small gold necklace. The unobtrusive chain displays a single word: bubbe. It means grandmother, or, more specifically, a Jewish grandmother. “I wear it every day,” Frank said, smiling when the word draws notice. “Bubbe fits me.” Others may see the 77-year-old Sandy Springs grandmother as an energetic activist who has lived a very public JOE EARLE life. But her jewelry proudly proclaims Sherry Frank she’s also the kind of woman who likes to bake cookies for her grandkids. Still, she’s no homebody. She served 26 years as executive director of the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee. She was president of the Atlanta section of the National Council of Jewish women for two years in the 1970s, and now is again president of the group. She helped create the Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition and worked to build bridges between religious and ethnic groups. Frank has worked to promote human rights, civil rights and women’s rights. She describes herself as “a pretty passionate feminist.” She’s been involved in Atlanta politics for decades. She helped start a successful synagogue, Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs, and served as its president. She recently published a memoir called “A Passion To Serve: Memoirs of a Jewish Activist,” which was included in the 2019 book festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center Atlanta. Frank came to politics early. She remembers that back when she was growing up in the Morningside neighborhood of Atlanta, her family had one of the first TVs on their block. It made a big impression when members of her third-grade class came over one night to watch election returns. Atlanta was different then, she remembers. She grew up in world that was segregated racially and culturally. “The only African American I knew was the housekeeper,” she said. At the same time, “it was Jewish world. My social life was Jewish,” she said recently during a chat at The Temple in Atlanta, where she had appeared as part of a panel discussion about the history of Atlanta’s Jewish community. “I was very much in a Jewish world.” But she doesn’t remember being conscious of overt anti-Semitism as a child. Atlanta seemed a welcoming place for her as she attended public schools, including Grady High. The world seems much more threatening now, she said, as anti-Semitism grows more visible. “You can’t but be fearful in this day, when you see so much hate out there,” she said. She grew interested in social service and political activism in part because of the times and in part because of her upbringing. She gave money for trees in Israel. She was a teenager when The Temple in Atlanta was bombed by white supremacists. She remembers, a decade later, the devastating news of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She hasn’t given up on politics. Throughout her career, she’s sought ways to bring racial and ethnic groups together and she wants to keep doing so. “I’ve said 1,000 times that if this country is not safe for Jews, it’s not safe for blacks,” she said. “And if it’s not safe for blacks, it’s not safe for Jews.” She’s worked with Christians and with Muslims to allow people to get to know others they might otherwise vilify. As she’s done that, she’s wanted people to understand her Jewishness. She said Jewish leaders once worked behind the scenes. Not her. “I want people to know a Jew is in the room,” she said. “I want them to know Jews are a part of our coalition. I think that’s part of my desire to heal the world.” She’s proud of the work she’s done. That shows up in her conversation and in her memoir. She’s takes pride in trying to make the world a better place by bringing together different types of people to address common issues and improve understanding among various groups that might otherwise be opposed. “It’s given my life great purpose,” she said. “I remember after 9/11, thinking what I do really matters. … It was such a threat to the Muslim world. I thought building bridges of understanding was a great cause and I was part of the chorus.”


Community | 19


All religious symbols banned from City Hall common areas BY DYANA BAGBY

City Hall will not be decorated with any religious symbols this holiday season as part of a new policy approved Nov. 18 by the City Council. But a list defining which religious symbols were to be banned was scrapped after some residents said including menorahs on the list could be discriminatory. The council began discussing in October a policy to ban religious symbols in common areas of city buildings after a resident wanted to put up a Nativity scene in City Hall. The resident said he wanted to put up the Nativity scene, which depicts the birth of Jesus Christ, after seeing a holiday tree and menorah in the City Hall lobby last year. The city’s legal staff suggested banning all Christian, Jewish and Muslim symbols -- including crosses, the menorah and the Quran -- to avoid violating the Constitution. But after some Jewish residents said the menorah is secular, not religious, the council decided to eliminate the list entirely and use “common sense” judgment on what is religious. “This is not just about menorahs,” Councilmember and Mayorelect Lynn Deutsch said. “If we strive to be an inclusive and open LYNN DEUTSCH community, then the menorah is a symbol of what is wrong with MAYOR-ELECT the policy. “It’s not whether I think what religious symbols are, it’s what the courts have ruled,” Deutsch said. She added later, “We got into trouble with the list.” The debate over what is a religious symbol and what is allowed on government property stems from the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment that bans government from creating a religion.

The Supreme Court has ruled in some cases that municipalities with holiday displays including a Nativity scene that depict the birth of Jesus Christ violated the Constitution because they appeared to endorse a religion. The Supreme Court has also ruled menorahs are religious symbols. But conflicting rulings and opinions over the years keeps the issue alive and ripe for legal challenges. City administrators hoped to avoid any local controversy by implementing a policy defining exactly what would be and would not be allowed as part of any holiday display. The policy had recommended prohibiting displays in public areas of city buildings with Nativity scenes; menorahs; drawings of Jesus or Mohammad; the Bible or Quran; the Star of David; a cross or crucifix; and the Star and Crescent, considered the symbol of Islam. Decorations to be allowed were flowers, greenery, wreaths, holiday trees, bells, snowmen, winter scenes, Santa Claus, animals, flags and Pilgrims. But some Jewish residents said the menorah should be added to the list of allowed symbols to be on display. Councilmember John Heneghan said the policy should be kept simple and said eliminating the lists of what could be and could not be allowed would make the policy much easier to understand. The decision on what is a religious symbol should be left up to the city manager, he said. “I think we as a council make policy … and we can direct the city manager to not put religious items in City Hall,” he said. The religious symbols are only prohibited from common areas of City Hall and other city buildings. Employees can keep religious symbols on their desks or in their offices.

This is not just about menorahs. If we strive to be an inclusive and open community, then the menorah is a symbol of what is wrong with the policy.


20 | Community ■

99-year-old GDOT ‘legend’ and WWII veteran tours I-285/Ga. 400 interchange project BY HANNAH GRECO

To many metro-Atlanta residents, the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange reconstruction project is considered a nuisance. But to Wendell Lawing, a 99-year-old former state bridge engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation and a World War II veteran, it is a sight to see. “I have been around a century and I have seen a lot of changes,” Lawing said during a Nov. 7 tour of the “Transform 285/400” project guided by project manager Marlo Clowers. Lawing is considered a legend by the state transportation department, paving the way for the designs of the I-285/I-85 interchange known today as Spaghetti Junction, among other accomplishments during his career. But before he began his more than 30-year tenure with GDOT, Lawing was an aircraft radio operator and, after being gunned down, a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. In 1943, before Lawing’s crew’s departure overseas, his girlfriend Mary caught a train from Chattanooga, Tenn., to where he was stationed in Sioux Falls, S.D., to ask to marry him. “She got in touch with Dad and said, ‘I am here and think we should get married before you get shipped overseas,’” said Mike Lawing, Wendell Lawing’s son. Lawing could not get a pass to leave his base, so he took what he called an “opportune point” and hopped the fence to get married, all without getting caught. “That was quite a feat,” Lawing said. The couple was married for 75 years, up until Mary’s death in October 2018. “Can anybody believe it,” Lawing said. “We had been together in high school.” In 1945, the plane carrying Lawing and his crewmates, a B-17 “Flying Fortress,” was shot down in Berlin and he was captured by the Germans. “The awful thing about it was we had two crew members killed in that engagement,” Lawing said. He was a prisoner of war for a little over a year. After being freed, Lawing returned to Atlanta and enrolled at Georgia Tech, graduated with a civil engineering degree, and began working for GDOT. Lawing was a career GDOT employee, meaning he stayed with the department up until retirement, working his way up from being a bridge designer to become the state bridge engineer. “I can say he truly enjoyed his tenure with the DOT,” Mike Lawing said of his fa-





Wendell Lawing, center, surveys GDOT’s “Transform 285/400” interchange project during a tour guided by project manager Marlo Clowers, right, and joined by his son, Mike Lawing, left.

Wendell Lawing, left, and Marlo Clowers pose for a photo during a tour of Georgia Department of Transportation’s “Transform 285/400” interchange project.

ther’s career. “He was always very pleasant and upbeat about what he was doing.” During their tour together, Clowers and Lawing realized many commonalities, including that both graduated from Georgia Tech with civil engineering degrees. Clowers said although there have been changes over the years, Lawing’s ideas are still being used today, including his design of Georgia’s first curved steel girder, a structure used for building bridges. “We are still using…the curved steel,” Clowers said. “I had something to do with that,” Lawing said with a grin. Now, Lawing resides at Dunwoody Place, a senior living community in Brookhaven, and remains passionate about engineering. “It is all just wonderful,” Lawing said. “I learned so much today.”

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Public Safety | 21


Police Blotter / Dunwoody From Dunwoody Police reports Oct. 13 through Oct. 26. The following information was pulled from Dunwoody’s Police-2-Citizen website.

LARCENY/ SHOPLIFTING/THEFT 4700 block of Ashford Dunwoody

Road — On Oct. 13, in the evening, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 4700 block of Ashford Dunwoody

Road — On Oct. 13, in the evening, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 4300 block of Winters Chapel Road —

On Oct. 13, in the evening, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting.

100 block of Perimeter Center West —

On Oct. 14, in the afternoon, items from a car were reported stolen. 4300

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 14, in the morning, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting.

Road — On Oct. 15, in the afternoon, a shoplifting incident was reported. 100 block of Perimeter Center Place —

On Oct. 15, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 4700

100 block of Perimeter Center West —

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 15, at night, items from a car were reported stolen.

On Oct. 14, in the morning, a shoplifting incident was reported.


1000 block of Crown Pointe Parkway

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 16, in the afternoon, a shoplifting incident was reported.

— On Oct. 14, at night, items from a car were reported stolen.



block of Ashford-Dunwoody

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 16, at night, a larceny was reported.


block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 16, at night, a shoplifting incident was reported. 4500

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 17, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 4500

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 17, in the evening, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 4300

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 17, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting. Continued on page 22

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Continued from page 21

4000 block of Townsend Lane — On


Oct. 22, in the evening, items from a car were reported stolen.

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 18, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 100 block of Perimeter Center Place —

On Oct. 18, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 19, after noon, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 1200 block of Hammond Drive — On

Oct. 19, in the afternoon, a shoplifting incident was reported.



block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 19, in the afternoon, a shoplifting incident was reported.

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block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 23, in the morning, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 1100 block of Hammond Drive — On

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 23, in the afternoon, a shoplifting incident was reported. 4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 23, in the evening, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 300 block of Perimeter Center North

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 20, at night, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting.

— On Oct. 25, in the morning, a man was arrested and accused of stealing items from cars.

900 block of Ashwood Parkway — On


Oct. 20, at night, a larceny was reported. 4700

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 20, at night, a woman was arrested and accused of shoplifting. 4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 21, in the evening, a shoplifting incident was reported. 4400

block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Oct. 21, at night, a man was arrested and accused of shoplifting.

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Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. With ice skating, food trucks, live music, “Bouncy” snowman, Coca-Cola polar bear, and a showing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at dusk. Free; $10 to skate. Brook Run Park, 4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody. Info:



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Sunday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. With gifts and jewelry from local artisans, Mediterranean food and pastries, premium liquor auction, used books sale, and children’s activities. Admission $5 at door. Congregation Or VeShalom, 1681 North Druid Hills Road, Brookhaven. Info: 404-633-1737.


international crafts and artist creations for purchase. Tickets: $20, $15 members, $10 children. Atlanta History Center; 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:


Through Dec. 23 Works of art and handcrafted gifts by local artists. Spruill Gallery, 4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Featuring a winetasting event Tuesday, Dec. 10, and special Handmade Gift Bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 14. Free. The Spruill Gallery. 4681 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: holidayartistsmarket.



Sunday, December 8, 4-7 p.m. Grammy-nominated band The Revelers play roots music during the Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association (ACZA) Holiday Party, with Cajun and Creole food for sale. Tickets: $20, $5 students, $14 active military. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info:


Through Sunday, Dec. 8 The Stage Door Players return with a holiday comedy prequel to last season’s A Nice Family Christmas. Tickets: $34 Adult, $24 Student, $16 Youth. Stage Door Players, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info:



Sunday, Dec. 8, 4 p.m. Sandy Springs hosts its inaugural Sparkle Sandy Springs Holiday Parade, which will serve as a prelude to the Sparkle Sandy Springs Celebration and the tree-lighting. Event begins with a snow machine and hot chocolate at 4 p.m.; parade begins at 5:30 p.m. near the Heritage water tower and continues on Mount Vernon Highway to City Springs. Sparkle Sandy Springs features a holiday village 6-foot-tall wooden houses painted in holiday themes and adorned with lights, which remains on display all season. Free. City Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Friday, Dec. 13, 20 5:30-9 p.m. Santa Claus welcomes visitors to each of the three historic houses to experience Southern holiday traditions during the eras of the Civil War (Smith Family Farm), 1930s (Swan House) and pioneer days (Wood Family Cabin). Plus Holiday Market filled with local and

Through Sunday, Dec. 8 The Roswell Dance Theatre performs the holiday dance classic. The cast includes world-class artists who have danced nationally and internationally and aspiring young professionals from the performing company of the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance. Tickets: $25-$38. Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way. Sandy Springs. Info:


Dec. 13 through Dec. 22 The City Springs Theatre Company performs a show-business holiday musical, based on the classic film and featuring Irving Berlin songs. Tickets: $30-$65. Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:

Art & Entertainment | 25



Sunday, Dec. 8, 4 p.m. The Atlanta Concert Band and Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church will spread holiday cheer with sing-alongs, a bell-ringing, and hot cocoa. Free. Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church, 471 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs. Info:


Tuesday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. A concert to ring in the New Year. Optional pre-show dinner at 6 p.m. for VIP ticket-holders and an optional dessert package for after the performance. Tickets: $60-$150. Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Jan. 6 through March 2 Perimeter Adult Learning Services offers eight-week session of classes in such topics as faith traditions around the world, history of American flags, first aid, Atlanta history, economics and more. Fee $50 for eight weeks; lunch can be brought or purchased for $8. Dunwoody United Methodist Church, 1548 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: or 770-698-0801.


Tuesday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. The storyteller and cookbook author joins At-

lanta local Cynthia Stevens Graubart in discussing her decades of cooking. Tickets: nonmembers $10, members $5. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:


Sunday, Dec. 15, 4-6 p.m. Learn how to make all the Hanukkah dinner. Fee: members $20, non-members $25. MJCCA at Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info:

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Wednesdays, Dec. 11 and 18, 6 p.m. Holiday-themed crafting with supplies provided. Sandy Springs Branch Library, 395 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs. Info: 404-303-6130.


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Saturday, Dec. 14, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. With outdoor art installations, tree decorating, hot cider and cocoa, and a guided walk of the decorated trees. $25 to decorate a tree as a group. Blue Heron Nature Preserve, 4055 Roswell Road, Buckhead. Info:


Wednesday, Dec. 25, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. With inflatables and push toys, crafts, community service projects, open swim in the indoor pool, basketball competitions, familyfriendly movies, music, and more. Free; food available for purchase. MJCCA at Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: H IG H


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


Thursday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m. The Buckhead Heritage Society will celebrate the holidays with a gala at one of the earliest homes built on Peachtree Battle Avenue. The event will feature a cocktail buffet, music and valet parking. Tickets: members $120, non-members $150. Info:


DEC 8 • JAN 12 Designed for little kids, big kids, and the whole family, Second Sundays are for everyone. Visit us each month and experience new interactive, innovative family activities inspired by our collections and rotating exhibitions. Generous support for Second Sundays is provided by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

26 | Art & Entertainment ■

‘A Tuna Christmas’ marks the holidays, and a theater partnership BY JUDITH SCHONBAK The Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s production of “A Tuna Christmas” this month is a way to celebrate the holiday season – and a successful new partnership with Oglethorpe University’s Conant Performing Arts Center. “A Tuna Christmas” is the second production GET, the resident professional company at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, has brought to Oglethorpe under a “binding partnership” forged in 2018. The first, in June, was a remount of GET’s 20182019 season hit “Driving Miss Daisy.” Connections between the theater company and the university, however, were already ongoing. GET produced “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Conant in 2017. A number of Oglethorpe alumni work or have worked with GET and others have acted in season productions. And the university also hosts two of GET’s summer theater camp sessions. The Conant partnership grew out of a conversation between Anita Allen-Farley, GET’s co-founder and producing artistic director, and Sharon Moskowitz, the center’s managing director. “Sharon and I had a conversation that GET was going to have to find satellite space to perform if we wanted to increase the number of our productions each year,” said Allen-Farley. Another benefit, she said, would be to expand the theater company’s audience.

oped the terms of the partnership. It is ongoing and will expand as opportunities arise, including opportunities for university students for onstage and technical experience. The Conant is heavily scheduled during the school year, so GET has claimed a timeframe for a production during the summer and during winter break each year. GET pays an amount unSPECIAL der a licensed agreement for Enoch King, left, and Jill Hames star in the Georgia each use of the theater, and Ensemble Theatre’s production of “A Tuna Christmas.” Oglethorpe takes a “very small portion” of ticket sales, Moskowitz said her role as managing said Moskowitz. director of CPAC is “to bring in partnerThe Conant production of “Driving ships and collaborations in the performing Miss Daisy” was a success for the partarts with our mission in mind to enhance nership. Large crowds of new audiences the cultural landscape of the university packed the intimate 513-seat theater to see and the community.” After seeing GET’s the iconic show. production of “A Comedy of Tenors” last “A Tuna Christmas” is one of the six proseason in Roswell, she brought the partductions in GET’s 27th season and will be nership ideas to Oglethorpe President Larperformed only at the Oglethorpe location, ry Schall. running Dec. 13-29. A roundtable of 10 officials from In the comedy, two actors take on the Oglethorpe and GET assembled in earpersonae of 22 different citizens of the litly 2018 to design the partnership, includtle town of Tuna, Texas, with quick-change ing Schall, Moskowitz and Theatre Departartistry of personalities, voices, ages, atment head Matt Huff on the university titudes and attire. It’s a study in speed, side. adaptability and comedic talent. The fastBy March 2018, the group had develest head-to-toe costume change must be

completed in 8 seconds. The plot centers on a hot competition in the annual Christmas lights competition, won 14 years in a row by town snob Vera Carp, leader of the Smut Snatchers of the New Order. On the loose is a “Christmas Phantom” vandalizing the yard display and creating contest chaos. “A Tuna Christmas” is the second in a series about the town of Tuna written by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams. The GET production is directed by wellknown Atlanta playwright Topher Payne. “This play is hilarious,” said Allen-Farley. “I like to laugh, and we chose it for the holidays so people could enjoy laughing for a couple of hours. It’s a respite from the same old bad news that is out there every day. And the characters are wonderful. You will recognize a lot of them. You may not like some of them, and there are some that will melt your heart.”


Friday, Saturday and Sunday December 13 – 29, 2019 Conant Performing Arts Center Oglethorpe University 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven Ticket sales through Georgia Ensemble Theatre only Ticket sales: www.get. org or call 770-641-1260

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Community | 27


Light Up Dunwoody ushers in holiday season Hundreds of people attended the annual Light Up Dunwoody event on Nov. 25 that officially kicks off the city’s holiday season. The annual tradition includes photos with Santa and other activities at the Cheek-Spruill House at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody road in Dunwoody Village. The official lighting of the Christmas tree and a menorah take place at a green space across the street at the Dunwoody Animal Hospital. Members of the Dunwoody High School band entertained as part of the ceremonies and there were also performances by Atlanta Jazz Theatre dancers. This year the Dunwoody Police Department also collected new, unwrapped gifts to be given to young children. The event was presented by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and the Dunwoody Reporter.

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Top, Evie Wong, 3, and brother Oliver Wong, 5, pose for pictures with Santa at the Light Up Dunwoody holiday tradition in Dunwoody Village. Right, Phoebe Cermack, foreground, plays the mellophone at the annual holiday tradition. With her, from left, are Matthew Koss and Jaxon Jester on saxophones, and Marco Hoyos in the Santa hat.

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28 | Community ■

BeltLine creator holds contest for reimagining I-285’s uses BY JOHN RUCH

el. “…So I like the idea of 285 becoming something that people love. And I don’t know what it would take to do that. I definitely think that it’s possible and I don’t think that it comes, necessarily, at the expense of cars.” “The thesis of the Atlanta BeltLine was that adaptation of underutilized infrastructure could make a new way of life possible in Atlanta,” says Gravel’s contest announcement. “Inspired by the success of that proposition, Generator is asking you to pitch your ideas for

The urban planning guru who dreamed up the Atlanta BeltLine is staging a contest for rethinking the car-centric uses of I-285 and turning the entire Perimeter highway into “A Bigger Better Loop.” Ryan Gravel launched the contest for the concepts Nov. 15 at Generator, his downtown nonprofit that serves as a brainstorming club. He was expected to announce winners and display their ideas Dec. 6. He circulated the contest on social media, using a graphic showing I-285 as a huge ring and the BeltLine as a smaller loop within it. In an interview, Gravel said the contest is just for playful, casual fun and he’s aiming for farout concepts, while at the same time acknowledging that one never knows where brainstorming might lead. After all, that’s how the BeltLine came about 20 years ago, an anniversary that is the occasion for the I-285 contest. This year also happens to be the 50th anniversary of I-285. “I do like the idea SPECIAL of rethinking I-285. It The “Bigger Better Loop” design competition entry form could do more than just includes a graphic showing I-285 and the Atlanta BeltLine. carry cars,” said Grav-

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tional place and just sort of go design transformation of Atlanta’s larger loop: something for everybody,” he said. “At Interstate 285.” the end of the day, toll lanes are still for “Early advocates for the Atlanta Beltcars, right? I just don’t think that ordiLine were proposing a wildly ambitious nary cars are the future.” idea for a loop of land they didn’t own, “The magic of the BeltLine is that it to be transformed by money they didn’t is absolutely a transportation project,” have, in a political climate that – at the he said, “but it starts with [the question time – was hostile to everything they of] what kind of life we’d like to lead.” were proposing,” the announcement Gravel’s contest calls for clear, consays. “Given that, Generator’s hope for cise concepts that Generator can publithis competition is that you not burden cize and adapt. Winners will get unspeyour idea with today’s politics, budgets cific awards “in a range of categories.” or other constraints. It could be anyHe said that won’t be taken too seriousthing – think big and be creative.” ly. I-285 gets prominent discussion in His idea is that all submissions will Gravel’s acclaimed 2016 book “Where be hung on the wall and some judges We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrahe’ll gather will choose winners in catestructure for a New Generation of gories that may be whimsical. He reeled American Cities.” Gravel is a Chamblee off such ideas as, “Best for People,” “Best native who says his family moved there for the Planet,” “Best Utopia” and “Best because of the suburban development Dystopia.” the Perimeter made possible. “I grew up The prize part is playful, too. What 285… We drove to Perimeter Mall when will the winners get? Perhaps a driving there were cows across the street,” he tour of the Perimeter? “Honestly, it just said. occurred to me today, what will people The latest solid plan for the future be expecting? I might of I-285 is the Georgia Decraft something… But partment of Transportait’s going to be handtion is embarking on a made for sure,” he said, massive and controversial adding with a laugh, plan to add toll lanes to “But I do like the idea of the top end of the Perima personal tour of 285.” eter. Brookhaven, DunGravel apparently woody, Sandy Springs and was introduced to the other area cities are advoFILE idea of rethinking I-285 Ryan Gravel. cating that transit buses in 2017, when he made use the lanes as well. Grava keynote speech to the Sandy Springs el said the toll lanes were not an inspiConservancy, a parks advocacy group, ration for the contest and made it clear on the night that part of I-85 burned in he’s not a fan. a notorious fire. During the event, con“The toll lanes are fine. But to me, servancy Executive Director Melody we should be jumping ahead to transit Harclerode asked about the future of and being real about transit,” he said. I-285 and its possible alternative uses. “I just don’t get that. I don’t get those However, in the recent interview, he [toll lanes].” said he doesn’t recall the exchange. “Y’all are so lucky to have Melody Like officials in the top end Perimehere because I’ve never heard that quester cities, Gravel suggest bus rapid trantion….But I love it,” Gravel said at the sit on western I-285 in his work on the time. “I love the idea of rethinking 285.” city of Atlanta’s urban planning vision “It’s a public space,” he continued, book. He said such projects as a rail line suggesting that some of its many lanes ringing the Perimeter could be a transbe used for something other than cars. formative connection between metro “Instead of thinking of it as a barrier Atlanta communities. “You could do it,” between ITP and OTP [inside and outhe says. “You don’t have to build anyside the Perimeter], think of it as a place thing new. You could take the middle that people come to somehow.” lanes.” Generator is based at 828 Ralph McRegarding GDOT’s current plan, he Gill Boulevard in Atlanta. For more insaid he understands the benefits of formation about Generator, see genercharging for driving and that cars will persist in American culture, but that toll lanes raise questions about equity, lifestyle and the future of transportation. “I’d rather start in a more aspiraDUN

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High Street set to get $19M tax break for first phase of mixed-use project Continued from page 1 and transit-oriented development would span 10 city blocks and include 8 million square feet of residential, retail, restaurant, hotel and office space. James Linsley, president of GID Development Group, master developer of High Street, told the Dunwoody Development Authority at its Nov. 14 meeting plans are to break ground by next spring on the first phase where the 211 Perimeter Center Parkway office building is located. A land disturbance permit was submitted in August and is being reviewed. The $19 million tax abatement over 10 years is needed to make the first phase of the project financially feasible, Linsley said. “We are deep into our construction documents … and we’re in the final stages of really making sure from a cost perspective we know where this is headed,” he said. “And [the abatement] allows us to enter the financing market, which is where we’re going out right now. “We are headed into a really tough finance environment for projects like this,” Linsley said. “For investors and lenders, the numbers are very challenging. Every little bit of inducement

James Linsley, president of GID Development Group, discusses the High Street mixed-use development at the Nov. 14 meeting of the Dunwoody Development Authority.

has a tremendous advantage as we go out and [get financing].” The first phase encompasses about 17 acres and is expected to cost about $230 million. This portion of High Street would include 598 apartments

in two residential buildings with retail on the first floor; 199,000 square feet of retail including a luxury movie theater; 40,000 square feet of new office space; 2,279 parking spaces; and about a ¾-acre public green space in


the central area, where GID envisions community events such as concerts or yoga in the park. Linsley said constructing the first phase with the public area would “create a sense of place” and be a catalyst


Above, In this illustration of phase one of High Street, the 211 Perimeter Center Parkway building is the tallest one toward the center of the picture. The apartment buildings are the two square-shaped buildings with open areas in the middle. The white structure in the center is a parking deck with a luxury movie theater sitting on top. Below, this illustration is a view of the High Street central park area with the movie theater at the left and the residential buildings toward the back. The taller towers in white would be part of future phases of the project. an affiliate of


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DECEMBER 2019 ■ for the future phases. Completing this piece of High Street could take about 30 months, he said. The entire project is expected to be built out over three phases and could take up to 10 years to finish, he said. The second phase would include tearing down the building where the Atlanta JournalConstitution is headquartered at 223 Perimeter Center Parkway and the 219 building. DDA members expressed excitement about the project and voted to begin negotiations with GID to issue $230 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance the first phase. The deal would not put the city on the hook for any debt and allows GID to offer tax-exempt bonds due to the DDA’s nonprofit status, officials say. The DDA also voted to begin negotiations to provide High Street a $19 million tax abatement over 10 years that GID said is needed to make the project financially feasible. A final vote to approve the bond issuance and tax abatement is set for January. Dunwoody Economic Development Director Michael Starling explained that if High Street was assessed at its entire $230 million value, property taxes for the city, county and school district would be about $43 million over 10 years.

The DDA is set to give High Street a 45% tax abatement over 10 years, Starling said. Doing so results in High Street paying just $24 million in property taxes over 10 years, for a tax break of roughly $19 million. The abatement would go into effect a year after the certificate of occupancy is issued. The apartments and condos are not included in the value of the abatement, Starling said. GID has been behind the High Street project for about a decade and last year teamed up with North American Properties to develop branding. NAP was behind Avalon in Alpharetta, a 1.1 million square-foot mixed-use development. North American recently left the partnership. DeKalb County approved the High Street project in 2007, a year before Dunwoody became a city. GID has also announced partnerships with Brasfield & Gorrie as the general contractor, and Newmark Knight Frank as the landlord representative focused on retail leasing. Dwell Design Studio is the architect. Brasfield & Gorrie led construction of many well-known mixed-use projects, including SunTrust Park, Comcast at One Ballpark Center and the Omni Hotel at The Battery Atlanta.

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Stacie Miles an authorized licensed insurance agent for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Georgia License number: 2733354

1-470-522-8815 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 5 days a week

*Monthly, quarterly and/or annual limits apply. Please contact the plan for additional details. This policy has exclusions, limitations, and terms under which the policy may be continued in force or discontinued. For costs and complete details of coverage, please contact your agent or the health plan. Other providers are available in our network. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is an HMO D-SNP with a Medicare contract and a contract with the Georgia Medicaid program. Enrollment in Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield depends on contract renewal. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. Independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Anthem is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. Y0114_19_35654_U_M_223 10/01/2018 DUN