County by county news for Thursday

COBB

Police investigate home invasion in Mableton

Cobb County police are investigating a Tuesday night home invasion at a house in Mableton. Police spokesman Mike Bowman told the AJC that four or five men, all armed with handguns, dressed in black and with their faces covered, forced entry into the home on Collins Lake Way around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

“The occupants of the residence were ordered to the ground at gun point and ordered not to move,” Bowman said. “The suspects that were not watching the homeowners ransacked the house.”

Bowman said that several items, including cash, were taken.

No injuries were reported. Mike Morris

Goreham to hold town hall meeting

Commissioner Helen Goreham will hold a town hall meeting on Jan. 12 for residents in her northwest area district.

Goreham and county staff will provide updates on projects underway in the district, as well as countywide developments.

The town hall meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the North Cobb Senior Center, 4100 Highway 293 in Acworth.

Information: 770-528-3313; hgoreham@cobbcounty.org Janel Davis

Marietta offers Christmas tree pickup

Marietta residents can leave their Christmas trees curbside for pickup the first and second week of January or for Environmental Services Division pick up Jan. 11.

Trees can also be dropped at the Marietta Power and Water complex, 675 North Marietta Parkway.

Trees will be recycled into mulch that will be available to residents. Tucker McQueen for the AJC

Austell water bills are going up

Austell residents and businesses will be paying more for their water and wastewater usage, beginning in January.

They will be paying 17 cents extra for water and 8 cents more for wastewater for every 1,000 gallons, according to the city’s Public Works director Randy L. Bowens.

Austell’s rate hikes reflect increases passed along to the city by the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority, he added.

For a minimum monthly bill of 2,000 gallons, the new rates will be $7.18 for water and $5.91 for wastewater. Carolyn Cunningham for the AJC

Austell council reschedules meetings

Austell City Council members have rescheduled two meetings because of the holidays.

Their work session will begin at 6 p.m. and their voting meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 9 at City Hall, 2716 Broad St. SW.

Information: clerk@austell.org or 770-944-4326. Carolyn Cunningham for the AJC

Marietta school chief to hold meeting

Marietta City Schools superintendent Emily Lembeck will give an update on district news at a “Coffee Talk” at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at Dunleith Elementary School, 120 Saine Drive.

The meeting, open to parents and the community, will include information on the March 6 city vote on a general obligation bond referendum for an auditorium at Marietta High School. Tucker McQueen for the AJC

GWINNETT

Ivy Creek Greenway to get new section

Gwinnett County will soon begin designing a new section of the Ivy Creek Greenway.

On Dec. 13 the county Board of Commissioners accepted $1 million in federal transportation funds to help design and build a new section. The new section will start at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center in Buford and connect to the existing trail near the Mall of Georgia.

The $1.8 million cost of the project also includes $800,000 from Gwinnett’s 2005 special local option sales tax program. Construction is expected to begin next summer. David Wickert

District Attorney unveils kiosks

The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office unveiled a series of informational kiosks throughout the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center this week. The purpose of the kiosks is to make it easier for crime victims and witnesses to find information on their case.

The computer-based system provides a wide range of information via a touch screen that can be navigated based on a series of inquiries. The District Attorney’s Office hopes to expand the kiosk program into county police precincts and the Sheriff’s Department in the future. Andria Simmons

Living in Space exhibit goes to March 3

The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center will continue its Living In Space exhibit through March 3.

The exhibit, which has the look and feel of the International Space Station, allows visitors to become crew members for a day, engaging in a multitude of astronaut activities. The Center is located at 2020 Clean Water Drive, Buford.

Living in Space was created by the Children’s Museum of Memphis and is sponsored by Cisco and the GEHC Foundation. Information: www.gwinnettEHC.org. Patrick Fox

Schools to host career fair Jan. 12

The Gwinnett County School System hosts a career and technical education fair from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 12 at Maxwell High School for Technology.

The career fair is open to all of the county’s high school students. More than 50 vendors will be in attendance at the fair, where potential careers and post-high school educational opportunities will be discussed. CTE prepares students to be college and career ready with industry-recognized credentials, postsecondary certificates and two- and four-year degrees.

Info: 770-963-6838. Nancy Badertscher

11 students semifinalists in art competition

Eleven student artists are semifinalists in the DREAM Art Competition and will represent the district in the next round.

The students represent Britt, Head and Kanoheda elementary schools; North Gwinnett Middle; Lanier, Mill Creek, North Gwinnett, Parkview, and Shiloh high schools; Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology; and GIVE Center East.

Judges will select one grand prize winner, a first place winner, and two runners up in elementary, middle, and high school.

Winners will be announced in February. D. Aileen Dodd

NORTHSIDE

Taxpayer group unhappy about county raises

The Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation is blasting the county’s plan to hand out $3.9 million in temporary raises. The commission approved a tentative 2012 budget that would give workers in non-supervisory positions earning $59,452 or less an extra $1,200 next year. A statement by the foundation cited the ongoing recession and falling tax revenues, concluding that raises aren’t in taxpayers’ best interests. “With next year being an election year, it makes me wonder why offer temporary raises?” Executive Director Barbara Payne said in the statement. Johnny Edwards

Commissioners honor new Eagle Scouts

In a first for Buckhead Boy Scout Troop 467, two African-American brothers reached Eagle Scout rank -- scouting’s highest honor -- on the same day. Last week the Fulton County Commission formally recognized Davis and Drew Turner, whose mother is Kim Turner, the Fulton County Health and Wellness Department’s Clinical Services director.

Both Davis, a senior at the Howard School, and Drew, a sophomore at the Galloway School, attained their ranks through work at John A. White Park, including restoring park benches and planting shrubbery. Johnny Edwards

Residents can swap trees for seedlings

North Fulton residents can swap old Christmas trees for new seedlings at the Rotary Club of Alpharetta’s “Bring One for the Chipper” event on Jan. 7, being held in partnership with the cities of Alpharetta and Milton.

Anyone who brings a Christmas tree to the Milton Home Depot on Windward Parkway to be shredded can choose between a red bud or a dogwood Georgia Forestry Commission seedling.

The club will have 250 of each type of tree. Johnny Edwards

Ga. 120 to $1.2 million upgrade

The Georgia DOT has announced plans for a $1.2 million upgrade of Ga. 120 (Old Milton Parkway) at North Point Parkway.

Work should begin in late January and the scheduled completion date is April 30, 2013.

The project was awarded to C.W. Matthews Contracting and includes several safety and operational enhancements. The radii of the right turns will be widened to make turning easier to negotiate.

New signals will be installed, and left turn lanes will be added on all four approaches. Patrick Fox

Public safety departments get grants

The non-profit Milton Public Safety Fund recently donated nearly $6,000 to Milton’s public safety departments.

A $3,500 grant was made to purchase a Stairmaster Stepmill, which will be used both by police officers and firefighters during daily workouts and to conduct annual fitness and new candidate assessments.

Another grant, for $2,375, was made to the Milton Police Department to purchase gun range safety kits for 33 officers.

Since the group’s inception in 2007, the MPSF has donated more than $19,000 to the city’s fire and police departments. Patrick Fox

ATLANTA

APS launches Saturday tutoring

Atlanta Public Schools will launch a Saturday school program in January for students needing help in Language Arts and math.

The Saturday program comes in addition to other tutoring services the district launched this school year to assist students who may have been academically affected by cheating.

The “Saturday Academy” is free, open to third through eighth graders, and will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parents must register at their child’s school no later than Jan. 5.

Lunch will be provided, as well as transportation for students who qualify. Jaime Sarrio

HIV Intervention Project asks for donations

The HIV Intervention Project, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, is accepting new or used designer clothes, shoes and accessories such as belts and precious metals to help raise money to assist HIV/AIDS patients and for HIV prevention outreach in Atlanta.

The group said donors can receive tax deductions based on the fair market value of the items donated, and added that the items will be resold by the H.I.P Let It Go thrift store.

The project asked residents to schedule a donation pick-up or drop-off time by calling 404-855-1447 or emailing ThatsHIP@gmail.com. Jeremiah McWilliams

Library to hold Kwanzaa celebration on Friday

The percussion and vocal ensemble Giwayen Mata will perform at Atlanta-Fulton’s Central Library on Friday as part of a Kwanzaa celebration of the fifth principle of Kwanzaa, nia (purpose).

Giwayen Mata means “elephant leaders of women” in the West African Hausa language.

Makeba Johnson will facilitate the communal libation and candle-lighting ceremony. The event starts at 3 p.m. at 1 Margaret Mitchell Square, downtown Atlanta.

Information: 404-730-4001, Ext. 100.

Johnny Edwards

DEKALB

Mom: Syringe in pants bought for daughter

Police are investigating after a Stone Mountain mother said she found a syringe inside pants she had just purchased for her 4-year-old daughter at The Athlete’s Foot on Wesley Chapel Road in DeKalb County.

Ashley King told Fox 5 Atlanta she bought the pants on Christmas Eve and discovered the syringe on Tuesday. Her child wasn’t injured.

Store manager Damien Hughes said he would review surveillance footage with police. Associated Press

Emory project focuses on health of Latinos

Emory University will join forces with the Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia to conduct new research and develop programs aimed at improving health among Georgia Latinos.

Based on census figures, 32.4 percent of Hispanics are uninsured, compared to 21 percent of blacks, 17.2 percent of Asians and 12 percent of whites.

The Emory group includes the university’s Urban Health Initiative, Office of University-Community Partnerships and Rollins School of Public Health. The project is funded by Healthcare Georgia Foundation and will allow the partners to conduct new research in key areas and hold a summit on Latino health during the summer of 2012 at the Rollins School of Public Health. Shelia Poole

Grant extended to help victims of crime

The DeKalb County District Attorney’s office has received an extension of a federal grant that helps provide specialized service for female victims of violent crimes.

The $51,000 Violence Against Women Act grant, along with a $346,000 match from the DA, pays for two prosecutors, two investigators and two victim advocates for female victims of murder, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated assault and others.

DeKalb first received the grant in 2006 and has since included the local matching funds in the DA’s annual spending plan. April Hunt

Residents asked to recycle Christmas trees

Keep DeKalb Beautiful asks residents to recycle their old Christmas trees curbside or at four drop-off spots around the county. Trees four feet or less in length can be left for county sanitation crews to collect during regular trash pick-up.

Residents also can drop off trees between Jan. 2 and Jan. 7 at the Seminole Road Landfill, 4203 Clevemont Road, Ellenwood or at three Home Depot stores: 2295 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, 4343 Tilly Mill Road in north DeKalb; and 4325 New Snapfinger Woods Dr., Ellenwood. Trees will be used as wildlife habitat or chipped into mulch, which is free for county residents. Information: 404-371-2654 or kdb@dekalbcountyga.gov. April Hunt

Former mayor begins lecture series

The DeKalb History Center begins its 2012 lecture series with former Decatur Mayor Elizabeth Wilson. Wilson, the city’s first African-American mayor in 1993, will speak about the Beacon Hill community, the segregated part of Decatur that housed black churches, schools and businesses. Wilson will speak at noon, Jan. 17 at the Old Courthouse on the Square, Decatur. The lecture is free.

Information: www.dekalbhistory.org. April Hunt

SOUTHSIDE

Henry fire department gets $15,000 grant

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency awarded a $15,000 grant to the Henry County Fire Department to purchase needed equipment for the county’s hazardous material response team.

The Board of Commissioners voted this week to accept the grant. Henry County’s Level II HAZMAT team is one of 53 HAZMAT units in the state and there are no other units between Henry County and Macon, according to county officials. Monroe Roark for the AJC

Video promotes Peachtree City charm

The Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau has produced a new video that describes the lifestyle of the Fayette County planned community.

“Discover Life at 15 mph” – a reference to the golf carts the city is famous for – is a two-minute visual introduction to local amenities, including recreation, shopping, performing arts and conference facilities.

The video is online at www.visitpeachtreecity.com. Jill Howard Church for the AJC

Allstate awards grant to volunteer

Hapeville Allstate agency owner Eric Chennault received the Agency Hands in the Community Award for his commitment to helping others.

With the award comes a $1,000 grant from The Allstate Foundation for the Ridgeview Charter Middle School in Sandy Springs, where Chennault volunteers.

The Allstate Foundation awards more than $1 million every year to nonprofit organizations across the country in honor of agency owners who give back.

To be eligible for nomination, Allstate agency owners must volunteer, mentor, or lead a nonprofit of their choice. Mea Watkins

Club logs 215,000 bicycling miles

Members of The Southside Cycling Club have logged 215,000 bicycling miles so far this year.

The three-year-old club includes members from Fayette, Coweta, Clayton, South Fulton, Meriweather and Douglas counties.

The club promotes all types of bicycling and safety measures.

Miles are logged on road and mountain bikes and path riding. The club has sponsored or contributed to several charities.

It also participated in hosting the Georgia Cup bicycle race in Senoia and Brooks.

Interested in joining, log onto www.southsidecycling.com. Tammy Joyner

Nugget Drop returns to ring in 2012

The annual Nugget Drop, billed as “the Southside’s largest New Year’s Eve party,” is back this Saturday night at Truett’s Grill on Jonesboro Road at I-75 in McDonough.

The family-friendly event will feature live entertainment, contests, a 4D movie ride and video game center, plus numerous other activities for all ages including a special area for children ages 6 and under.

Crowds in recent years at this event have numbered in the thousands. Monroe Roark for the AJC