County by county news for Thursday


Sunday alcohol sales begin in Acworth Dec. 4

Acworth will be the first Cobb County city to start Sunday packaged alcohol sales on Dec. 4, when stores can legally sell beer, wine and liquor for takeout. The City Council amended the alcohol ordinance last week, setting a launch date, according to City Clerk Regina Russell. Seventy-three percent of Acworth voters approved Sunday sales. Two other Cobb cities — Kennesaw and Smyrna — approved, but they won’t start until Jan. 1. Unincorporated Cobb voters will decide on the issue March 6, with sales potentially starting June 3. Powder Springs also will vote in March.  Johnny Edwards

Powder Springs council cuts inmate services

The Powder Springs City Council voted Monday night to stop using Paulding County inmates for janitorial and landscaping services.

Greg Ramsey, the city’s new public works director, said $75,000 in savings will come from no longer having to pay for fuel, vehicles, insurance, safety equipment and tools in its contract with the Georgia Department of Corrections. The city will use Aspire Landscaping at $30,000 for the next year and Bonus Building Care of Atlanta at $8,300 for janitorial services.Carolyn Cunningham for the AJC

Children locked in room, deprived of food 3 days

A Marietta woman is accused of barricading four children inside a room for three days while she was under the influence of methamphetamine. Yolanda Mendez, 35, allegedly did not allow the children – ages 16, 13, 9 and 3 — to attend school and deprived them of adequate food while keeping them in unsanitary conditions, according to an arrest warrant.

Mendez faces four misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon during a crime, according to jail records. The children were released to a relative, police said.  Alexis Stevens

3 finalists selected for provost job at KSU

Eight months after the man picked to serve as provost for Kennesaw State University withdrew, three new finalists have been chosen.

Campus interviews will be next week, and President Dan Papp expects to fill the job next month.

The finalists include the interim provost, Ken Harmon, who has filled in since Lendley Black stepped down in July 2010 to be the chancellor of the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Harmon’s interviews are scheduled for Dec. 1. David Cordle, a dean at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, is scheduled to interview Tuesday.

Interviews with Michael Gealt, a dean at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will be next Wednesday.

This is the college’s second attempt at filling the job, which was offered to Timothy Chandler in February. He withdrew following a community debate over an academic paper he co-authored in 1998. Laura Diamond

Library offers class for kids on archaeology

School-age children are invited to a free event Tuesday about archaeology. The program will be at the Powder Springs Library, 4181 Atlanta St., 3-5 p.m. Information: 770-439-3600.  Carolyn Cunningham for the AJC


Emory Healthcare expansion approved

Emory Healthcare is one step closer to building a new nine-story, 210-bed tower that will include new intensive care unit rooms, operating rooms and an expanded emergency department.

The boards of the health system, Woodruff Health Sciences and Emory University boards recently approved $30 million for the $200 million project, which is slated for completion in 2016. It will allow utility work to begin at the site off of Clifton Road across from the current hospital, as well as contract with a design team.  Misty Williams

AIDS quilt will be displayed at Emory

Emory University will host one of the largest collegiate display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on Dec. 1, which is World AIDS Day. More than 1,430 panels will tell the lives of those who died from the disease.

The program will be presented by Emory Hillel, a Jewish student group, and will take place on McDonough Field from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to the display, there will be 25 panels arranged at various locations on campus.  Shelia M. Poole

Agnes Scott College promotes sustainability

Agnes Scott College has launched multiple sustainability efforts in recent years and the Decatur school is now diverting 73 percent of its waste through recycling and composting, officials said.

Without these efforts the waste would have gone into landfills. The college recycles chip bags and candy and cookie wrappers on campus and gives the material to a company that transforms it into toys, tote bags and other items.

The school diverted just 28 percent of its waste in 2008. The goal is to produce zero waste.  Laura Diamond

Museum School benefit exceeds goal by $30,000

A benefit to support the Museum School in Avondale Estates recently raised $80,000 for the DeKalb County charter school. The auction, which had a goal of $50,000, raised twice as much as last year’s fund-raiser.

School officials are trying to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the expansion of the Museum School’s temporary facility and renovation of a permanent facility.  D. Aileen Dodd

St. Thomas More hosts FISH session Wednesday

St. Thomas More Catholic School is hosting a FISH (Fresh Ideas Start Here) Curriculum Night for grades k-8 on Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visit classrooms and see presentations by students.

Pick up a FISH bowl near the office, head to a classroom and learn about what happens at the school every day. St. Thomas More Catholic School is at 630 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur.

For information, contact Eileen Maron at 404-373-8456. Nancy Badertscher

Clarkston launches new community website

Clarkston is launching a new website designed to strengthen ties in the community.

The site,, will feature everything from lost pets to government announcements. Registration is free.

More information:  April Hunt


Students win big in media production competition

Ninety student projects from Gwinnett County Schools were selected for top awards during the 2011 International Student Media Festival. At the annual event, which celebrates excellence in student media projects, 90 of 112 Gwinnett Schools’ entries, which included animation, were recognized with the Excellence in Media Production award. Mason Elementary’s entry “Sew What? American History is a Patchwork of Stories” won the Best of Festival award, the highest honor. Thirty-six entries received a Judge’s Favorite award.

State Rep. Pak recognized by national legal group

State Rep. Byung J. “BJay” Pak (R-Lilburn) has been recognized by the National Asian Pacific Bar Association as one of the organization’s best lawyers under the age of 40. The bar group presented the awards to Pak and 19 other national lawyers at a recent dinner at the group’s annual convention in Atlanta. Pak, the first Korean-American elected to the state House of Representatives, is a former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta and a partner with Schiff Hardin.

Bill Rankin

County agency seeking heaters for seniors

Local residents can help Gwinnett seniors stay warm this winter by donating portable heaters. Fire stations will accept brand new portable electric heaters until Feb. 28. The heaters will be given to seniors in need. To qualify for a heater seniors should be age 60 or older, live in Gwinnett and have financial challenges. For more information, contact Adrienne Noble of Gwinnett County Senior Services at 678-377-4150 or e-mail  David Wickert

UGA, Tech fraternity to make benefit run

The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech Sigma Nu chapters are teaming up Friday for the annual Gameball Run, an event benefiting the American Heart Association.

The run begins at the UGA fraternity house in Athens, then heads down Ga. 8 to Lawrenceville, followed by a meeting at the Historic Gwinnett Courthouse for the football handoff to the Tech Sigma Nus who will take it to their campus. Kenneth Musisi

Tree-lighting ceremony tonight at courthouse

Gwinnett County will host a tree-lighting ceremony from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse, 185 E. Crogan St., Lawrenceville.

The free event will feature live music, kids’ crafts, live entertainment and a visit with Santa. David Wickert

Groups focus on healthy weight for teenagers

i.DEAL Inc. and the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta will begin the Keep Moving Project in January to address unhealthy weight among teenagers in Gwinnett County.

Informational meetings will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 and Dec. 8. at the Boys & Girls Club at 382 Stone Mountain St., Lawrenceville.

Information: visit or 877-748-2859.

Sandra Marshall Murray


North Fulton group proposes budget cuts

Fulton Commissioner Liz Hausmann’s budget committee, composed of north Fulton residents, activists and city council members, is eyeing about $5 million in possible cuts to help beef up the county’s 2012 reserves.

A draft budget would plug a $77.7 million shortfall by taking the reserve fund down to 7.02 percent — below the industry standard of 8.33 percent of expenditures. The committee suggests reducing several departments’ allocations to 2010 levels, including public works and finance. Johnny Edwards

Reinhardt group holds clothing drive

The Reinhardt Organization of Student Educators at Reinhardt University is conducting a book and clothing drive to benefit MUST Ministries in Canton. Drop-off locations are in the Lawson and Tarpley Academic Buildings or Paul Jones Hall at the Waleska campus through Nov. 28. Monetary donations can be sent to: Betty Miller, R.O.S.E Book Drive, 7300 Reinhardt Circle, Waleska.

Information: or 706-587-8709. Kenneth Musisi

Johns Creek installs recycling receptacles

Visitors to Johns Creek parks have access to recycling for water bottles and soda cans. The city has placed 40 bottle-shaped recycling receptacles in city parks.

“We’ve had a number of people ask us about recycling at the park, but we didn’t have any recycling receptacles in the past,” said James Swope, solid waste manager.

The 30-gallon containers, placed near trash cans, are expected to siphon 25 to 35 tons of recyclable waste a year from landfills. The containers cost about $100 each. Patrick Fox

Alpharetta church hosts handbell concert

A Christmas concert featuring the Golden Bells of Atlanta, a nonprofit community handbell choir, will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Alpharetta First United Methodist Church. The concert will feature a variety of musical styles. Admission is free and donations are accepted. Information: Veronica Fields Johnson

Cherokee Historical Society releases book

The Cherokee County Historical Society is debuting “Cherokee County, Georgia: A History,” written by Rebecca Johnson. The hardcover book is the first comprehensive history of the county since 1932.  Veronica Fields Johnson


New scholarship created for grad students at CSU

The Clayton State Retirees Association has raised about $33,000 to create an annual scholarship for graduate students. The group already has awarded five $1,000 scholarships. Two retirees came up with the idea of creating an endowed scholarship in 2005, just before the college started its first graduate program, a master of arts in liberal studies. The group is still raising money. Donations can be sent to: Clayton State University Foundation CSRA, 2000 Clayton State Blvd., Morrow, GA 30260.  Laura Diamond

East Point explains hikes in utility bills

To deal with controversy caused by water and electric bill hikes, East Point is launching a campaign called “What’s Up With My Utilities.” It starts with the city’s first virtual town hall meeting, accessible by Internet, 7-8 p.m. on Tuesday. Another will be at the same time on Dec. 7.

The campaign also includes booklets and video vignettes that will air on Comcast Channel 22. Both meetings will have question-and-answer sessions, and virtual seats are limited. Reservations: Johnny Edwards

Peachtree City police collect toys for needy

The Peachtree City Police Department kicks off its 2011 “Light up the Night” toy drive Saturday. The event helps local needy families this holiday. The Police Department has two partners this year — the Fayette Chapter of Toys for Tots and the Angel Tree Project with the Fayette Holiday Helpers. The drive needs new unwrapped toys for girls and boys, ages 2 to 17.

In lieu of toys, money can be donated at the Police Department. The toy drive is today at the Wal-Mart Shopping Center from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Information: police Capt. Stan Pye at 770-487-8866, Ext. 1303. Tammy Joyner

Sessions offer seniors help on paying bills

Fulton County seniors can get help Monday and Wednesday signing up for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — the final two sessions being offered this month at senior multipurpose facilities. The program offers help paying energy bills and is for households with members age 65 or older who meet income guidelines, or any household facing a life-threatening crisis.

The sessions will be Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mills facility in Atlanta, and on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bowden facility in East Point.

Assistance is for seniors who are registered at the facilities, so others seeking help will have to register first. Information: 404-613-6000.  Johnny Edwards

Hampton, Locust Grove host lightings tonight

Two of Henry County’s cities will host their official Christmas tree lighting ceremonies Thanksgiving night.

The festivities in Hampton begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Train Depot with Christmas carols performed by various groups. The gathering at Locust Grove City Hall begins at 7 p.m. with singing and concludes with the arrival of Santa Claus, who will be available for pictures. Monroe Roark for the AJC


Atlanta man pleads guilty to counterfeiting

An Atlanta man has pleaded guilty to turning $5 bills into more than $1.2 million in $100 bills, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Vincent Gerome Rome Jr., 25, is to be sentenced Feb. 7 in federal court for making counterfeit $100 bills and being a felon in possession of a handgun.

Over two years, until this August, Rome created the counterfeit bills by removing the original images from $5 bills with cleaners and solvents, and then running thousands of those bills through printers to make fake $100 bills, prosecutors said. Bill Rankin

Visitors have positive view of downtown

The positive perception of downtown Atlanta is on the rise, according to a study commissioned by Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.

The Atlanta-based Schapiro Group conducted a telephone survey of more than 400 residents in Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. The majority lived outside the I-285 perimeter and visited downtown Atlanta more than twice a month.

The number of respondents who would consider moving into downtown has not changed significantly since 2002. But the perception of safety downtown has increased, with 69 percent of respondents saying downtown was either very or somewhat safe, compared to 61 percent in 2002.

Jeremiah McWilliams

City Council seeks to boost small businesses

Atlanta’s City Council has declared Saturday “Small Business Saturday” in Atlanta to encourage shoppers to support local businesses. Nationally, Small Business Saturday is marking its second year.

Several Atlanta leaders said small businesses promise less hustle and bustle than larger chain stores, and they also help preserve the unique character of Atlanta neighborhoods.

“When you make your list this year, first think of our local small businesses,” said Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean. “Behind each of those storefronts are our friends and neighbors.”

Jeremiah McWilliams