County by county news for Tuesday

Cobb EMC group to vet board candidates

The Cobb EMC Owners Association will hold vetting sessions for candidates for the co-op’s board of directors.

EMC members will vote March 31 on six new board members. Thirty-four candidates have qualified for the six seats.

All EMC members can participate in the vetting sessions with a copy of an EMC bill and photo identification. The sessions begin at 6 p.m. on today and Thursday, and a final session on March 13 at Butch Thompson Enterprises, 2131 Moon Station Drive in Kennesaw. Information: Janel Davis

Cobb reverses animal control adoption decision

Cobb County officials moved quickly to reverse an unapproved animal shelter policy last week that angered several area animal rescue groups.

An assistant manager at the shelter decided to require animal rescue groups wait three days before adopting pure-bred animals without management approval to allow the public adoption opportunities, said Cobb spokesman Robert Quigley. The decision was reversed the next day, and corrective action was taken with the employee. Janel Davis

Community coalition hold town hall meeting

The Cobb United for Change Coalition will hold a town hall meting on Thursday to discuss issues key to the county.

The coalition includes several community groups, focused on promoting racial understanding within the community, schools, churches, elected officials and law enforcement.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Trinity Tabernacle Baptist Church, 592 Veterans Memorial Highway in Mableton. Information: Rich Pellegrino, 404-573-1199; and at a Cobb United for Change Coalition page on Facebook. Janel Davis

Relay for Life rally to be March 12

The American Cancer Society will hold a Relay for Life rally on March 12 for northwest Georgia residents interested in the cancer fundraiser.

The rally will feature motivational speakers, more information about the fundraiser and other involvement opportunities. This year’s Relay for Life will be held in nearly 5,100 communities across the country, along with 20 other countries. The northwest Georgia rally begins at 6 p.m. at Cobb EMC, 1000 EMC Parkway Northeast in Marietta.

Information: 770-429-0089; Janel Davis

New theater company opens show Friday

Out of the Box Theatre, a new theater company in Marietta, will open Friday with Jane Martin’s play, “Talking With…,” at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and March 15-17 at Artisan Resource Center, 585 S. Cobb Parkway.

Tickets at the door are $15, and $10 on March 15.

Theater founder Carolyn Tucker McQueen for the AJC

Powder Springs to auction off equipment

Powder Springs is auctioning surplus items, including five lawn mowers and two blowers that don’t work, online, with more information and bidder application at

The auction starts March 9 and runs through March 16. Jeffry Scott


Man sentenced in near-fatal beating

A Norcross man pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated battery in connection with a near-fatal beating in 2009. Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Dawson Jackson sentenced Amir Dixon, 25, to two years in prison and six years’ probation. Dixon brawled with David Ramirez-Garcia at the Mission Heritage Apartments where they both lived on May 3, 2009. Ramirez-Garcia was throwing up blood when police arrived. He was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. District Attorney Danny Porter said the plea eliminates the need for Ramirez-Garcia, who was subsequently deported, to be brought back to Georgia to testify. Andria Simmons

Four more schools meet AYP

Ferguson and Creekland Elementaries, McConnell Middle and Duluth High -- Gwinnett schools that previously didn’t meet the state’s 2011 Adequate Yearly Progress measures -- now have, according to the state’s amended results following appeals, summer graduation and graduation tests.

The Gwinnett School Board said 104 of its 126 schools required to meet the standard have. Michael Alpert for the AJC

Schools offer transition fair for special needs

Gwinnett County Public Schools hosts its annual Transition Fair on March 17. The event is aimed at helping special needs students and their parents know about services and programs that are available to help the students transition from K-12 to adulthood. The fair is open to all students and the public and will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Peachtree Ridge High, 1555 Old Peachtree Road, Suwanee. More info: 678-301-7110. Nancy Badertscher

County challenges community to clean up

Local businesses and community groups can clean up Gwinnett County and compete for prizes during the Great American Cleanup Gwinnett Challenge this spring. Interested groups can pick a cleanup activity and be eligible for a cash prize. Projects must be completed between March 1 and May 31. Information: David Wickert

Readers Rally championship Thursday

Division winners for the 2012 Readers Rally were decided Saturday at Gwinnett County’s Berkmar High School. The Readers Rally is a literary quiz-bowl competition for student readers in grades 4-12. Competing Thursday for the championship will be Berkmar and Brookwood high schools, Crews and Sweetwater Middle Schools. The elementary quarter finalists are Chattahoochee, Gwin Oaks, Head and Jackson elementary schools. The competition will take place at the GCPS TV studios and will be broadcast March 12-18 on GCPS TV. Nancy Badertscher

Soup bowl fundraiser in Duluth

Purchase handmade bowls by teachers and students at the Hudgens Center for the Arts on March 17 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. for $25 each to support the center’s education department. With each purchase, patrons can enjoy free soups and appetizers by local caterers. Early bird sales 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., $30 each bowl. Karen Huppertz for the AJC


Milton grad awarded Purple Heart

Alpharetta and Carrollton resident John M. North was presented the Purple Heart during a ceremony at Fort Story, Va. this month. He received the award for wounds received in action, Oct. 19, 2009, while serving a combat tour in Afghanistan.

North was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 2007 after receiving a bachelor’s degree from The Citadel. The Milton High School graduate is serving as a logistics officer with the Coordination, Liaison and Assessment Team at Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group in Virginia Beach, Va. Patrick Fox

Fire destroys Cherokee office complex

An early morning fire Monday destroyed an office complex in Cherokee County, authorities said. Cherokee fire spokesman Tim Cavender said the fire on Sixes Road near Bells Ferry Road was reported just after 5 a.m. “Firefighters arrived on the scene to find heavy flames and smoke coming from the Vince Merolla Executive Suites,” Cavender said.

The complex contained nine businesses, including the Bridgemill Property Association, River Church, an accountant’s office and others. Mike Morris

River Trail students win math competition

Mathletes at River Trail Middle School of Johns Creek won the MATHCOUNTS regional competition and will advance to the state round.

River Trail’s team competed against more than 400 students from over 50 schools in the metro Atlanta area to win a spot in the state division.

MATHCOUNTS is a national program that encourages students to improve their math skills and find enjoyment in problem-solving.

The state competition will be held on March 23 at Georgia Tech Student Center in Atlanta.

It is being organized by the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers. D. Aileen Dodd

Students honored as scholar-athletes

Two metro Atlanta students have been recognized for their prowess as scholars and athletes. The Atlanta Sports Council has named Cyrus Wilson of The Lovett School and Jennifer Shults of Roswell High School as “High School Scholar Athletes of the Year.” Shults is a varsity volleyball player. Wilson is a varsity football and basketball player. D. Aileen Dodd

Tom Morgan to address Cherokee students

Author and former longtime DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan will speak on laws impacting teenagers today at Freedom Middle School in Canton.

Morgan will present two programs to sixth through eighth graders in the morning, and will give a general public presentation at 6:30 p.m. that evening. Information: 770-345-4100. Mark Woolsey for the AJC

Teen writers workshop at library Saturday

Budding writers can get feedback on their work Saturday at the Sandy Springs Library’s Teen Writers Workshop. Participants can bring samples of short stories, poetry, monologues or other literary forms.

The workshop starts at 12:30 p.m. at 395 Mt. Vernon Highway. Information: 404-303-6130. Johnny Edwards


Ethics nomination delayed again

Stacey Kalberman’s nomination as the city of Atlanta’s ethics officer was slowed for another two weeks by a subcommittee of the Atlanta City Council. The committee voted Monday to hold Kalberman’s nomination for two weeks to allow three members of the City Council -- Joyce Sheperd, H. Lamar Willis and C.T. Martin -- to meet with her. That decision came two weeks after a similar vote to delay a decision for at least two weeks. Jeremiah McWilliams

Cold case murder conviction upheld

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the murder conviction against a man who killed an Atlanta woman more than 17 years ago.

Sherman Ridley was convicted by a Fulton County jury in 2006 for the 1994 strangling of Lorraine Lansford, 28, in a vacant house on McAfee Street. Years after Ridley had pleaded guilty to raping two other woman, Atlanta Police began investigating the cold case involving Lansford, who was attacked in a similar manner. A DNA test tied Ridley to her murder, prosecutors said. Bill Rankin

Ex-soldier sentence in inmate scam

Former soldier Sandeo Pablo Dyson was sentenced last week to 18 months in prison aiding and abetting fellow inmates give false information to prosecutors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Dyson, 48, while held in the Atlanta City Detention Center in 2009, obtained information about crimes and sold the information to another inmate for $20,000 so they could share it with prosecutors to get a reduced sentence. Bill Rankin

$10,000 incentive for natural gas station

The Buckhead Coalition is offering a $10,000 incentive grant to the first company to develop a compressed natural gas station in Buckhead. Meanwhile, Atlanta Gas Light has initiated a statewide compressed natural gas infrastructure program which will provide $11.57 million to assist in the development of CNG stations. Jeremiah McWilliams


Singer: $120,000 in jewelry stolen

A member of the Backstreet Boys pop music group tells police that $120,000 in jewelry was stolen from a Stone Mountain hotel where he and his wife were staying.

Brian Littrell tells WSB-TV they were leaving Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta when they realized the jewelry had been left on a nightstand in their hotel room. He said that when they returned to the hotel to retrieve the items, they were gone.

Leighanne Littrell says the $120,000 in jewelry included her engagement ring valued at $110,000. Associated Press

Commission clarifies leave policy

The DeKalb County Commission recently clarified its leave policy, to ensure that no worker’s leave can exceed 60 days when they leave the county.

The county approved that change last June as a way to control costs after seeing high payouts during a major staff reduction.

The county had allowed any leave over 480 hours to be converted to sick leave at the end of each year. That time could then be applied to years of service for payouts.

Some police officers in the county have been the most vocal critics of the change. They argue that workers with 25 years’ experience now only accrue 27 days of vacation time, versus the previous 30 days. April Hunt

County signs $1 million software deal

The DeKalb County Commission recently agreed to pay Oracle America $1.029 million this year for technical support services for the firm’s software.

The county’s police department, which will cover $14,290 of the contract, and watershed department, which will pay $67,038, are the two public offices that use The county’s information services department, which remains without a director, has the bulk of the contract at $948,041. April Hunt

County to charge fee for utilities’ work

The DeKalb County Commission recently enacted a new fee that utilities must pay when they do underground work, in a bid to cover county costs to clean up that work.

The county had long assumed financial responsibility for cleaning up utility cuts in the right-of-way, including new landscaping or paving work.

The $150 application fee, and smaller fees specific to the type of repairs such as installing a pole or cutting into pavement, should recoup most of those costs, officials said.

The fees are based on those charged in neighboring Fulton and Gwinnett counties. April Hunt

Avondale Estates renews manager’s contract

Avondale Estates’ Board of Mayor and Commissioners renewed the contract of city manager Clai Brown for one year. Both Brown, who’s held the job since Feb. 2008, and Mayor Ed Rieker declined to release salary details except that Brown received a five percent raise. “Before Clai, we had five city managers in four years,” Rieker said. “He came into a dysfunctional, mismanaged organization and turned it around in terms of motivation and productivity.”

Brown’s late father, Dewey Brown, was Avondale Estates city manager from 1945 to 1991. Bill Banks for the AJC


Fayette teen found dead in hot tub

Fayette County police are investigating the death of a 16-year-old boy who died early Sunday in a hot tub at his home near Peachtree City. Chase Burnett was found by his father around 6 a.m. Sunday in the hot tub at his Diamond Point residence, according to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Brent Rowan. Rowan said Burnett attended McIntosh High School in Peachtree City. The school’s resource officer has been notified, Rowan added. The he Georgia Bureau of Investigation perform an autopsy, Rowan said. Fran Jeffries

Student honored as ‘Child Champion’

A Woodward Academy student was recently hailed as a “Child Champion” for her leadership and work to raise $9,000 for charity. Seventh grader Grace Hensel was honored by the nonprofit Kate’s Club, a support network for kids facing life after the death of a parent or sibling. She is one youngest to earn the title.

Hensel joined the group soon after her father’s death in 2010 and emerged as a leader. She recruited friends, parents and teachers to participate in the GeneRACEtion memory walk, raising more than $9,000. She also works to promote grief support services at school. D. Aileen Dodd

Piedmont Henry hires new director

Manuel Diaz is Piedmont Henry Hospital’s new director of Health Information Management. He has 35 years of experience in health information management. Prior to joining Piedmont Henry, Diaz worked at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic’s Florida campus.Diaz has extensive background in implementing electronic medical records (EMR). He has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from Florida International University. He is a member of the American Health Information Management Association. He and his wife and two daughters live in Henry County. Tammy Joyner

Fayette chamber to hold breakfast meeting

The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce will host a free breakfast meeting Wednesday to promote its business-friendly programs.

The Maximize Your Membership event is open to members and nonmembers to teach organizations how to tap into business education resources, gain visibility and improve networking. The meeting begins at 7:30 a.m. at 200 Courthouse Square in Fayetteville. Call 770-461-9983 or visit for details.

Jill Howard Church for the AJC

Residents can weigh in on family program

Clayton residents wanting to participate in the 60-day public comment period regarding the state’s annual application for Babies Can’t Wait funding can view the documents at the Clayton County headquarters library on Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro, as well as at any Clayton County branch library from now until April 10. Babies Can’t Wait is a statewide early intervention program for families with infants and toddlers with special needs. The Georgia Department of Public Health administers the program. Details: Tammy Joyner

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