County by county news for Friday


Kennesaw gives developers more options

The Kennesaw City Council approved an ordinance amendment Tuesday that officials say will make it easier for developers to build.

The new city law waives a requirement for developers to obtain bonds as surety that they will build roads, gutters and other infrastructure. Instead, they can get a letter of credit confirming they’ll have money for the improvements, said Earnie Via, the city’s public works director.

Via said the recession has made it difficult for developers to obtain bonding but banks are extending lines of credit to those with good finances. Ty Tagami

New super to be sworn in Monday

Cobb school board members will meet at 8 a.m. Monday at the district’s headquarters, 514 Glover Street in Marietta to swear in Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. Hinojosa’s contract officially started July 1, but the new leader is moving from Dallas, where he just wrapped up a six-year run as superintendent. The board agreed to give Hinojosa 10 one-time vacation days for use during his first month on the job. Hinojosa wanted to start in August. Jaime Sarrio

Rodeo at Jim Miller Park this weekend

Saddle up for two days of rodeo fun Saturday and Sunday at the Down N Dirty Rodeo at Jim Miller Park.

The weekend will feature champion bullriders, and competitions including team roping, bareback riding, calf roping and steer wrestling. The rodeo will also include a health fair to educate and screen men for prostate cancer.

The rodeo begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at the park, 2245 Callaway Road in Marietta. Information: 404-931-1042

Janel Davis

Smyrna seeks input for economic study

Smyrna City government is encouraging residents to take an online survey on economic development from the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative and Cobb’s Competitive EDGE.

The Georgia Competitiveness Initiative will develop an economic development strategy using the study to assess strengths and weaknesses.

Smyrna residents and business owners have just a few more days to take the survey online, which is due by Monday and can be found at Rich McCay

Powder Springs picks new police chief

Morrow’s former police chief was chosen unanimously Thursday by Powder Springs City Council as police chief.

William Sewell, current police chief of McMinnville, Tennessee, replaces L. Rick Richardson who was accused of selling surplus police vehicles in 2007 on his own instead of through public auction as required by the City Council. Carolyn Cunningham for the AJC

The Walker School has new headmaster

The Walker School in Marietta named Jack Hall as new head of school. He succeeding Don Robertson who retired after 26 years. Hall previously served as head of the Augusta Preparatory Day School, worked at The Westminster Schools and The Lovett School, and served as president of the Georgia Independent School Association. Jaime Sarrio


Online charter extends registration

The registration deadline for enrolling in Gwinnett County Schools’ new online charter campus is approaching.

The extended registration period runs through Thursday. Students and their parents must come to the Gwinnett Online Campus at 2595 Beaver Ruin Road in Norcross to sign up in person. Registration will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Information: gwinnettonline D. Aileen Dodd

‘Bluesberry’ fest continues in Norcross

Norcorss’ Bluesberry Fest is 6 -- 11 p.m. Saturday at Jones and Peachtree streets.Several local blues artists will perform at Betty Mauldin Park; restaurants in historic downtown will feature blueberry specials and local farmers will have fresh blueberries for sale. Information: Alaya Boykin

Dance school hosts hip hop workshop

Gwinnett School of Dance, 1142 Highway 78 in Grayson will host a hip hop workshop 2 -- 4 p.m Saturday taught by choreographer Darnell Powell. The price is $15 for current students and $25 for non members. Registration: 770-962-8078 or e-mail Alaya Boykin

Free outdoor movie in Snellville

The city of Snellville is hosting a free outdoor movie as part of its “Popcorn in the Park” series July 16 at Briscoe Park.

The movie, “Rio,” from the creators of “Ice Age” is part of Snellville community events being held this summer. Information: Andria Simmons

Conversational Spanish classes offered to kids

Gwinnett County will host conversational Spanish classes for children age 8 to 12 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 11-15 or July 18-22 at Centerville Community Center, 3025 Bethany Church Road, Snellville.

The cost is $40, plus a $10 nonrefundable registration fee. Information: Grisel Amargos at For preregistration and payment information call the community center at 770-985-4713. David Wickert

Bingo night July 15 in Lawrenceville

Gwinnett County will host a bingo night from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 15 at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse, 185 E. Crogan St., Lawrenceville.

The event will feature pizza, beverages and prizes. It is open to those age 4 and up. The cost is $3 per person by July 14 or $5 at the door. Register: 770-822-5450. David Wickert

Gwinnett sponsors night bike ride

Gwinnett County will sponsor a night bike ride at 6 p.m. July 14 at Tribble Mill Park, 2125 Tribble Mill Parkway, Lawrenceville.

Bikes must have head and tail lights. The event is open to those age 15 and up. The cost is $5 per person. Information: 770-418-2331. David Wickert


Ga. 400 closed early Sunday for bike race

Southbound lanes of GA 400, from Holcomb Bridge Road to Northridge Road, will be closed from 6:20 -- 7 a.m. Sunday during the annual “Century Bike Ride.” The ride is scheduled to begin at 6:30 a.m., and move south on Ga. 400 from Holcomb Bridge Road to Northridge. Riders will exit onto Northridge Road and travel to Roswell Road, head north on Roswell Road, cross the river, and ride back into the city of Roswell. Michelle E. Shaw

Young author to offer publishing tips

Michelle Izmaylov, the 20-year-old, Atlanta-based author of “Dream Saver” and “Galaxy Watch,” will give a talk on book publishing Saturday at the Sandy Springs library, 395 Mt. Vernon Highway. “The Write Way: Novel Writing and Publishing, Step by Step, with Michelle Izmaylov,” starts at 11:30 a.m. Information: 404-303-6130. Johnny Edwards

Two Cherokee schools among nation’s best

Sequoyah High School and Creekview High School were listed in the Washington Post’s “Best High Schools in America.”

Schools are ranked based on the number of graduating seniors who take college level tests. Sequoyah High School was ranked No. 1,286 and has made the list since 2004. Creekview High School was ranked No. 1,576 and was also on the 2010 list.

Only seven percent of public high schools make the list, according to the post.

Information: Elise Hitchcock

Canton Farmer’s Market open Saturdays

Bring home nature’s bounty on Saturday from the Canton Farmer’s Market, where shoppers can peruse the produce from 8 a.m. to noon at Cannon Park every Saturday through October.

All the produce is Georgia grown and most is organic. The market is open, rain or shine. Items available for purchase include produce, seafood, breads, soups, jellies, candles, honey, fresh flowers and plants, herbs, jewelry, soap, lotions, birdhouses, jewelry and other artisan crafts. Information: Andria Simmons

Plantation hosts Civil War lecture

Roswell’s Smith Plantation will host a free lecture on the Signal Corps during the Civil War at 11 a.m. July 20 as part of a sesquicentennial observance.

Steven Rauch, a military historian who also teaches at Augusta State University, will speak on the history and function of the Signal Corps throughout the war. His discussion will include the unique evolution and importance of this arm of the military.

Information: 770-641-3978. Patrick Fox

Cherokee schools to start Aug.1

School will begin on Aug. 1 for Cherokee County schools. School front offices will be open 8 a.m. -- noon beginning July 19 for registration.

Class schedules and teacher assignments will be available at each school’s scheduled open house. Information: Elise Hitchcock


Cycling group to document bike lanes

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition needs volunteers to ride Atlanta bike lanes on Saturday afternoon and document them.

The city of Atlanta asked the advocacy group for help confirming the existence and condition of its roughly 30 bike lane segments and of its “sharrows,” marks reminding drivers that cyclists will be in the lane.

Meet at 2 p.m. at the coalition offices, 213 Mitchell St. Information:, 404-881-1112. Ty Tagami

Local Episcopalians to join Alabama pilgrimage

Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta will participate in a pilgrimage in remembrance of people killed in a civil rights struggle on Aug. 13 in Hayneville, Ala.

The annual Jonathan Daniels and the Martyrs of Alabama Pilgrimage will be aided by the Diocese of Atlanta Commission on Anti-Racism. Daniels was an Episcopal seminarian from New England who was shot and killed during the incident.

Contact Jenna Strizak by July 29 at 732-221-7285 or Sheila M. Poole

KIPP WAYS reopens doors

KIPP WAYS Academy students will return to a newly remodeled school today in Atlanta that was made over after a December 2010 fire destroyed the facility.

Early classes for the 2011-12 school year will be held through July 21. After the summer session concludes, students will then return on July 25 to continue classes.

KIPP WAYS is a public charter school serving students in grades 5-8. D. Aileen Dodd

Local non-profit featured in NYC

An Atlanta-based non-profit is to being featured on Times Square in New York. Reuters and NASDAQ digital signs will feature Wilkins Parkinson’s Foundation until July 25.

Thomson Reuters selected the foundation to feature on the billboards to raise public awareness about Parkinson’s disease and the search for cure. Steve Visser


City of Decatur approves 2011-2012 budget

Decatur recently approved its 2011-12 city budget, with total expenditures coming to $44,644,000, an increase of about $9 million over 2010-11. The bulk of that increase is in Capital Improvement Funds, which finances or is financing major renovations on Glenlake Park, the Decatur Cemetery, the city’s two fire stations, and the Decatur Recreation Center, among others. The largest of the city’s 16 funding sources is the General Fund, which pays for the police, firefighters, the court system and the day-to-day budget, among others. The General Fund’s $18,815,000 is an increase by only one percent over last year. Bill Banks for the AJC

Grease clog causes sewer leak

Grease and debris clogged a private manhole on Bouldercrest Road in DeKalb County Monday, spilling 17,520 gallons of raw sewage into the South River.

County crews notified the property owner, who made repairs, according to county water reports.

DeKalb plans a $1.35 billion upgrade in the next year to its water and sewer system to meet a federal Environmental Protection Agency consent decree to prevent such spills. April Hunt

Tucker to host gardeners’ work day

The Tucker Civic Association will host a Master Gardeners of DeKalb work day 8 a.m. -- noon July 14.

Gardeners and other volunteers will remove envasive plants and add wooden signs to identify plants along the Trees of Tucker Tour, starting at the Tucker Rec Center on LaVista Road.

Information: April Hunt

Chamblee group seeks business owners’ input

Chamblee, which added 6,000 people in January through annexation, is asking residents to help the city plan for its future.

To do so, the city is reviewing its comprehensive plan. To help with the work, the Chamblee Business Association will host a Community Roundtable 8 -- 10 a.m. July 21 at the Chamblee Civic Center, Broad Street. April Hunt


Palmetto to vote on Sunday liquor sales

The Palmetto City Council unanimously approved a second and final reading Tuesday of a resolution calling for a referendum on Sunday package sales of beer, wine and liquor. Residents will decide in November if grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores should be allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays within city limits.

Palmetto is the sixth Fulton city to call for an election, made possible by Senate Bill 10. The others are Alpharetta, College Park, East Point, Johns Creek and Union City. Johnny Edwards

Henry approves funds for five agencies

The Henry County Board of Commissioners approved allocations to five community service agencies for the new fiscal year: A Friend’s House ($53,125); the Flint Circuit Council on Family Violence ($33,150); Helping in His Name food pantry ($10,625); Hands of Hope Clinic ($10,200); and Community Gardens ($6,375). Monroe Roark for the AJC

Leadership academy applications accepted

Applications are now being accepted for the East Point’s Citizens’ Leadership Academy. The academy runs from September 1-November 3, and features 10 sessions designed to familiarize participants with the structure of the city government. The Citizens’ Leadership Academy is open to all East Point residents and/or business owners 18 years of age, or older and is free. The deadline to apply is Aug. 17. Applications are available at East Point City Hall, Jefferson Station and online at John Thompson for the AJC

Peachtree City earns safety honors

The Peachtree City Police Department earned honors in a national traffic safety contest.

The department placed third in its division for the 2011 National Law Enforcement Challenge, sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The emphasis was on occupant protection, impaired driving and speeding.

The department also received a top award for using technology fortraffic safety. Jill Howard Church for the AJC

New hours for Henry animal shelter

Henry County Animal Care and Control office at 527 Hampton Street in McDonough is now open 8 a.m. -- noon Saturday, 9 a.m. -- 4:30 p.m. weekdays and closed Sunday. In 2010, the department responded to 9,992 calls for service and provided shelter and care for over 6,200 animals. Information: Monroe Roark for the AJC

Henry fire department receives grant

The Henry County Fire Department has been selected to receive a $49,810 grant for participation in the Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s Automated Vehicle Location System project, designed to allow GEMA to track EMS resources in the event of a major disaster within the state. The HCFD and 911 dispatchers will be able to view real-time locations of their medical resources and also transmit important medical data to receiving hospitals prior to the arrival of emergency vehicles. Acceptance of this grant was approved July 5 by the Board of Commissioners. Monroe Roark for the AJC