County by county news for Friday


Powder Springs finally has train quiet zone

Downtown Powder Springs is quieter now that trains no longer have to toot their horns at the Brownsville Road crossing.

None of the cost had to be paid by the city but by Cobb County from a legal settlement with Norfolk Southern Railway at no more than $474,000, according to City Manager Brad Hulsey.

In recent days, the crossbar towers have been replaced with two taller, more durable towers and the crossbars with two longer crossbars to keep vehicles from driving over the crossing.

In exchange, the city will hold Norfolk Southern harmless from any accident at the crossing. Carolyn Cunningham for the AJC

Kennesaw chooses council member

The Kennesaw City Council in a 3 to 2 vote Tuesday approved Matt Riedemann to fill the council seat held by Bill Thrash who died May 22 of cancer. Riedemann, a Kennesaw Development Authority member, will serve until the term expires Dec. 31. The council did not choose Thrash’s widow Suzanne who wanted to finish her late husband’s term. The post 4 seat will be up for election in November. Tucker McQueen for the AJC

Kids can sign up for musical theater camp

Curtain Call Youth Players will hold a musical theater summer camp at The Art Place - Mountain View, 3330 Sandy Plains Road, Marietta. The week-long camp for rising third through fifth graders will be held July 15-19.The camp for rising sixth through eighth graders will be held July 22-26.

Both camps end with a performance for family and friends. Tuition is $215. Information: 404-692-CCYP or visit Jaime Sarrio

Powder Springs to celebrate Fourth

Powder Springs will observe its 18th Annual Independence Day Celebration 4-10 p.m. July 4 at the Historic Town Square, 4488 Pineview Drive.

While the cost is free, reserved table seating is available by calling 770-423-1330.

Attractions include entertainers Scott Thompson and The GLOW Band, food for purchase, children’s activities, a patriotic program at 9:15 p.m. and fireworks around 9:45 p.m.

Information: 770-423-1330 or 770-943-8001 ext. 307.

Carolyn Cunningham for the AJC

East Cobb Park holds anniversary event

Friends for the East Cobb Park will celebrate the park’s 10th anniversary 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 13 at the park, 3322 Roswell Road, Marietta.

Food, refreshments, bounce houses, guest speakers, a disc jockey and entertainment will be on site. The park’s founders and the East Cobb Civitan Club will be honored.

Information: Jaime Sarrio

Smith-Gilbert Gardens changes days it’s open

Kennesaw’s Smith Gilbert-Gardens has changed days of operation to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The 16-acre public garden at 2382 Pine Mountain Road, Kennesaw will close Sundays and Mondays for maintenance and upkeep.

The city garden will also hold docent or volunteer training for tour guides 10 a.m. to noon starting Aug. 14 for five weeks.

Information: Tucker McQueen for the AJC


Peachtree Corners taking development proposals

The Peachtree Corners Downtown Development Authority has extended the deadline for request for proposals to 11 a.m. Aug. 1 for a developer to purchase and develop a mixed-use project on a 20-acre site across from the Forum shopping center.

The city hopes to develop the land as a city-center with retail, restaurant, office and residential use along with a one-acre town green for community events.


Karen Huppertz for the AJC

HOT lane price hits record-tying $7

The cost for using the I-85 HOT lane through Gwinnett and DeKalb counties hit $7 during Thursday’s morning commute, tying a record set just a day earlier.

The price to bypass slower traffic along the 16-mile stretch of I-85 southbound reached the $7 mark shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday.

The HOT lane toll is set on a sliding scale depending on the level of congestion on I-85 and in the HOT lane.

According to the State Road and Tollway Authority website, “when HOT lanes become too congested, the price increases and this in turn reduces the number of cars entering the lane.”

The website says that the authority’s goal is to keep traffic in the HOT lane moving at an average speed of greater than 45 mph during peak hours.

Mike Morris

Local man drowns in Utah lake

The body of a Gwinnett County man who drowned while helping his wife was pulled from a Utah lake Wednesday.

Joe Coffield, 61, of Snellville, was trying to assist his wife, who had drifted away from the couple’s rental boat, when he went under around 1 p.m. Monday at a Utah lake.

Dive crews, working with the National Park Service, Utah Department of Public Safety and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, were able to locate and recover Coffield’s body around 11 a.m. Wednesday. Utah State Parks and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary assisted with the recovery. Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado river and is situated in both Utah and Arizona.

Alexis Stevens

Buford man wins more than $137K on ‘Jeopardy!’

Andrew Moore ,28, of Buford won six games and $137,803 on Jeopardy! the syndicated gameshow.

Moore’s run ended on his seventh show Tuesday with a wrong answer.

Moore’s days on the game show aren’t over. He will be competing in Jeopardy!’s Tournament of Champions, which will be taped next year.

Bryan Cronan

Grayson to hold public hearings on millage rate

The Grayson City Council will conduct public hearings to review the city’s millage rate 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. July 1 and 6 p.m. July 8 at Grayson City Hall, 475 Grayson Parkway. Information: 770-963-8017 or

Karen Huppertz for the AJC

Duluth Public Arts Commission seeking applicants

Duluth is seeking local citizens to apply to serve on a soon to be formed nine member Duluth Public Arts Commission. The commission’s goals will include promoting performing arts, maintaining the City’s existing public art collection and acquiring new works of art. Deadline for applications, available at, is July 15.

Karen Huppertz for the AJC


Controversial Forsyth rezoning wins okay

The Forsyth County Planning Commission has approved a controversial rezoning request, while downsizing it.

The commission voted to rezone 83 acres from agricultural to single-family residential on Daves Creek Drive for construction of 240 single-family homes. 88 Daves Creek LLC had sought to build 378 attached homes, drawing fire from neighbors concerned about traffic, schools and the character of the area.

County commissioners vote on the plan in July. Mark Woolsey for the AJC

Cherokee county to consider millage rate

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners holds a public hearing on proposed 2013 millage rates at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Cherokee County Administration Building and Conference Center, 1139 Bluffs Parkway, Canton.

Commissioners are considering setting the rate at 5.793, down from the current 5.825.

Final adoption is set for July 16. Mark Woolsey for the AJC

GDOT wants input on Ga. 20 project via Web

The Georgia Department of Transportation is taking to the Web to get input on proposed improvements to Ga. 20 from I-575 in Canton to Ga. 400 in Cumming.

A survey’s been posted to asking about the need to upgrade the over-capacity road and alternatives for improvements and their impact. The survey will be active until July 15.

A series of public meetings was held on the project in May.

Mark Woolsey for the AJC

Nonprofit to give backpacks to students

The nonprofit group Give a Kid a Chance-Cherokee will provide as many as 4,000 filled backpacks for needy Cherokee County students 9 a.m.-3 p.m. July 20 at Hillside United Methodist Church, Woodstock and First Baptist Church, Canton.

Information: Mark Woolsey for the AJC

Centennial High seeks softball players

All rising sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls zoned for Centennial High School, 9310 Scott Road, Roswell, who want to play softball must register by July 15.

Softball season begins in August. Information: Marty at or 678-230-5155. Veronica Fields Johnson

Forsyth annual reports now available online

Forsyth County officials say the Forsyth County 2012 annual report and the Forsyth County Fire Department 2012 annual report are both now available.

The county report summarizes the county’s projects, finances and progress this past year.

The fire department report gives details on fire department facilities, divisions and more.

The reports are available at the county administration building, 110 E. Main St., Cumming, and online at

Mark Woolsey for the AJC


Men sentenced for federal hate crimes

Dorian Moragne and Christopher Caine, part of a group in the so-called Jack City street gang that attacked and robbed 20-year-old Brandon White while shouting anti-gay slurs at him,were convicted for the state’s first federal hate crimes against sexual orientation and sentenced Wednesday to 10 months in prison.

In April, Caine, 19, and Moragne, 21, pleaded guilty to targeting and attacking White because of his sexual orientation.

The men — along with Dareal Damare Williams, who was 18 at the time of the incident and considered a juvenile by federal officials — surrounded and repeatedly punched and kicked White and stole his cell phone on Feb. 4, 2012. Moragne and Caine were also sentenced to five years behind bars and five years of probation for charges in Fulton County that included aggravated assault, robbery by force, theft by receiving stolen property and obstruction. Williams received the same sentence in July 2012 as his co-defendants.Marcus K. Garner

Memorial signs for fallen officer installed

The memorial signs for Atlanta policewoman Senior Officer Gail Thomas, who was killed in January 2012 when she was struck by a drunk driver while directing traffic, were installed this week under exit 251 on I-75 south, near where the accident happened.

The driver who killed Thomas, Chasity Jones of Stone Mountain, was convicted of vehicular homicide and failure to obey the direction of an officer. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Bryan Cronan

Co-host of “The View” to sign books

Sherri Shepherd, co-host of “The View” is a diabetic. For years, she was told she needed to drop the pounds, exercise and get healthy.Today, her diabetes is under control and she wrote a book to help others. She will discuss and sign copies of “Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (even if you don’t have it )” 7 p.m. today at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore, 946 Ralph D. Abernathy Blvd. S.W. Doors open at 6 p.m. There will also be free health screenings. Shelia M. Poole


Man accused of killing woman in front of kids

Angelo Dennard, 32, allegedly shot Dianna Cruz-Sagrego three times in front of two children outside of an apartment off Redan Road on June 16, his mother told police.

Dennard’s mother said the children were her grandchildren, but DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said the relationship between the children, Dennard and Cruz-Sagrego is unclear.

Dennard is charged with murder, aggravated assault and two counts of third degree cruelty to children.

Since 2001, charges against him have included simple battery, criminal trespassing and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, authorities said.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477 or the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office at 404-298-8200. Cailin O’Brien

Decatur becoming popular movie location

The feature film Solace, starring Colin Farrell and Anthony Hopkins, has been shooting all week at the Avondale Marta Station with a planned Saturday wrap.

It’s the 18th project (feature film, documentary and several commercials) that Decatur has issued permits for this year.

Last year had 27 last year and there was a record high of 50 in 2011. Special Events Coordinator Katie Abel said the city is popular with film companies because of its diversity of terrain, historical and architectural styles.

Favored locations include the cemetery, the square, downtown store fronts and the old courthouse. Bill Banks for the AJC

South River focus of upcoming canoe outing

The South River Watershed Alliance is again organizing a canoe/kayak outing of to encourage more awareness and conservation of the river.

The next outing begins at 9 a.m. on July 13 and will cover about 5.5 miles of the river. Cost is $30 and includes canoe rental, lunch and insurance.

Information/registration: April Hunt

South DeKalb Festival coming in September

A free outdoor festival, featuring food and entertainment from the multi-cultural area, is coming to south DeKalb County in September.

The Heart of South DeKalb has already secured several local restaurants to serve as corporate sponsors. Additional community groups are invited to join in planning and programming for the event, slated for the Gallery at South DeKalb Mall on Sept. 28.

Information: 404-683-3599 or April Hunt

Schools expansion one step closer

Decatur’s School Board authorized a $59.5 million bond referendum to pay for renovations to Decatur High and Renfroe Middle schools, but it still has to be approved by the city before Aug. 1 and submitted to the state election board by September to appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Superintendent Phyllis Edwards warned that any delay means the referendum wouldn’t get on the ballot until Nov. 2014, and both schools would then require a total 49 trailers for overflow students.

Both schools are projected to reach capacity by the end of 2014-15. Bill Banks for the AJC


Henry adjusts to rise in building permits

The Henry County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment to the county’s Unified Land Development Code which will allow the Building Department’s director or his designee to withhold permits in situations where zoning conditions have not been met.

The action came at the June 18 regular Commission meeting. Overall building permits have risen 36 percent, according to county officials. Information: Monroe Roark for the AJC

Fayette County files required elections plan

The Fayette County Board of Commissioners has complied with a court-ordered requirement regarding new voting districts.

Although the county is appealing a May 21 decision that found its at-large voting system in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the board on Monday submitted a plan for a revised district system.

The commissioners called the mandate “a racial gerrymander.” Jill Howard Church for the AJC

Fayette kid heads to national championship

Fayette County High School student Jake Ruiz won first place in a national competition sponsored by Microsoft on June 12-13 in Utah.

After taking top honors for his PowerPoint 2010 skills, Ruiz is advancing to the Microsoft Office Specialist Worldwide Championship in Washington, D.C., on July 31.

FCHS is part of Microsoft’s IT Academy program. Jill Howard Church for the AJC

Candidate announced for Stockbridge mayor

Local insurance business owner Tim Thompson announced last week that he will be a candidate in this fall’s Stockbridge mayoral election.

He is the first to publicly declare a challenge to incumbent Mark Alarcon, who was named mayor by his fellow City Council members in late 2012 after Lee Stuart was removed from office.

Alarcon said recently in a public meeting that he will be running as well. Monroe Roark for the AJC

Peachtree City hosts July 4th celebration

The City Council of Peachtree City has approved amendments to two ordinances that will restrict how early spectators can set up tarps and blankets to watch the July 4th parade and fireworks.

Such items cannot be placed in public areas before dawn on the holiday.

Unattended items, including golf carts, are subject to removal and disposal.

Stakes, tents, and other obstructive items are prohibited altogether. Jill Howard Church for the AJC

Church to sponsor free legal workshops

World Changers Church International Legal Resources Department will host Law Day 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 10 at the church, 2500 Burdett Road, College Park. Attorneys will offer free legal consultations.


Registration is required.


Veronica Fields Johnson

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