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DeKalb County

DeKalb CEO Pushes To Repave Roads With Possible New Tax

May 17, 2017
Alison Guillory / WABE

DeKalb County's CEO is looking to drum up support for a new sales tax.

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If voters approve a one-penny sales tax referendum, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said it could generate almost half a billion dollars in the next five years. He wants to use a lot of that money to improve roads.

courtesy of the dekalb county sheriff's office

A DeKalb County law enforcement officer is hoping to clear his name after a weekend arrest.

Sheriff Jeffrey Mann is facing charges of indecency and obstruction.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quotes an Atlanta police report that says Mann exposed himself while walking toward a police officer Saturday night in Piedmont Park.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

In DeKalb County, this past week, a well-known artist found that folk art can be a code violation.

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Kyle Brooks, usually known as Black Cat Tips, has placed his art in prominent places, like the Atlanta Beltline, and also in more obscure ones, like atop telephone poles.

But when he moved to a 2 acre property in southeast DeKalb County last year, he decided to focus on his yard.

MikeBird / Pixabay

Monday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

DeKalb County officials will meet Friday to discuss a project list for DeKalb residents to vote on in November.
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DeKalb County officials are meeting with the public today to discuss the area's water-billing problems.

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Representatives from DeKalb County Utility Customer Operations will take questions from customers at the Maloof Auditorium from 4 to 6 p. m.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Schools in impoverished areas face enormous challenges. Kids often come to school hungry, tired or troubled. Now, Georgia lawmakers are trying to address some of those issues through a new plan to turn those schools around.

A new bill would target schools on a list published yearly by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. One of the lowest-performing schools on this year’s list is DeKalb County’s Flat Shoal’s Elementary School, which is trying to meet the needs of its impoverished student population.

‘They Come With Baggage’

John Bazemore / Associated Press

Dr. Cedric Alexander, DeKalb County’s Public Safety Director, announced that he is stepping down from his position at the end of March.

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“I’m going to go home to Florida and chill out for a short while and think though some things, and see what opportunities avail themselves,” Alexander said. “I still will be on the national scene … talking about criminal justice and law enforcement and advancing policing.”

DeKalb CEO: Water Billing Crisis Not An Easy Fix

Feb 23, 2017
MikeBird / Pixabay

Progress is slow on solving DeKalb County's water billing problem, and CEO Mike Thurmond admits it is not an easy fix.

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For the last several months, some DeKalb residents have seen a water bill in the thousands of dollars while some haven't seen a bill at all.

Thurmond says those who still haven't gotten a water bill may start to see one within the next 30 days.

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An auditing firm has been hired to see why water bills are so high in DeKalb County.

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The DeKalb Board of Commissioners voted 7-0 Tuesday to pay KPMG $275,000 Tuesday for the audit.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that one in eight customers' bills have at least tripled since April 2015.

DeKalb Libraries May Be Facing Huge Funding Cuts

Feb 14, 2017
If DeKalb County's library supply funding is cut, it would mean fewer new books.
Alison Guillory / WABE

DeKalb County's library system could lose more than half its funding for new books and supplies.

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Last year, libraries got $1.1 million for supplies. This year, the system is looking at $440,000.

Sara Fountain, chair of DeKalb County Public Library's board of trustees, says the cut would be damaging.

"A lot of people who use the library don't have the financial resources to access certain materials," Fountain says. "And so it's a critical need for our community."

Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston has dropped criminal charges against a former county official who was accused of pressuring vendors for campaign contributions.

Boston said at a news conference Monday that she decided against moving forward with a retrial against former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis after the Georgia Supreme Court threw out Ellis' conviction in November.

Boston says a judge signed an order to dismiss Ellis' charges earlier Monday.

Miko Branch, co-founder and CEO of Miss Jessie’s Original, a hair care company with products dedicated to women with curly and afro textured hair, talks about becoming a pioneer and what she’s learned after over a decade in the hair care business.
Eboni Lemon / WABE

Monday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Mary-Pat Hector held a press conference Thursday about potentially being disqualified a month into her campaign. She is 19 years old and a student at Spelman College.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Next week, DeKalb County elections officials will decide how you old you have to be to run for office in the new city of Stonecrest.

A 19-year-old Spelman student, Mary-Pat Hector, is running for City Council, but one of her opponents is contesting her candidacy because of her age.

"I'm not fighting this just for myself, but for young people all over the country who believe that they could, but who are not being allowed to run for office," Hector said.

A DeKalb County commissioner has kicked off the new year by proposing another new city.

The city of Prosperity would include Panthersville, Ellenwood, Glenwood and more neighborhoods within DeKalb's 3rd District, in the southern part of the county. Commissioner Larry Johnson represents the area and announced the proposed city at a public meeting Tuesday.

"If people keep taking all of our valuable pieces of land – the cities – they'll be nothing left for us to make sure that we have and then our taxes will go up with nothing to protect us," Johnson said.

The Budgetel Inn on Fulton Industrial Blvd. in Southwest Atlanta is home to many who are one step away from living on the streets. Georgia's new $5 a night hotel tax has an exemption for stays longer than 30 days, but both hotel operators and guests remai
Jim Burress / WABE

One DeKalb county commissioner wants to regulate how extended stay hotels and motels operate.

Commissioner Nancy Jester is proposing an ordinance requiring extended stays to beef up their security and limit how long guests can stay. However, she says nothing is set in stone as she is still working on the details. 

Pixabay Images

DeKalb County officials say the owners of the Presidential Hotel, the 15-story building at Spaghetti Junction, have violated a consent order.

Marcus Kellum, DeKalb's beautification director, says the county code enforcement staff had been working with Habib Osta and Vincent Lu, the property's owners, "trying to bring them into compliance with the codes and standards that require the property to be safe, secure and sanitary."

Embattled DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis is led out of the courtroom after he was sentenced to 5 years to serve 18 months in prison Wednesday July 8, 2015.
Kent D. Johnson / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

There was no sign of newly reinstated DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis Tuesday at the last county commission meeting of the year.

Ellis has less than three weeks remaining before the county transitions to a new CEO. Some commissioners remain unclear about what Ellis can accomplish in that time.

"I don't frankly know at all what he'll do, because he's autonomous in that regard," said Commissioner Jeff Rader outside the meeting.

Commissioner Kathie Gannon said she's not expecting Ellis' return to disrupt the board's work.

DeKalb County Reinstates Burrell Ellis As CEO

Dec 12, 2016
DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, with his wife Philippa, and defense attorney Craig Gillen, speaks during a press conference Thursday for the first time since he was convicted a year and a half ago following a second trial in DeKalb County.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Formerly suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis has been returned to his position. 

Ellis, whose attempted extortion and perjury convictions were overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court in November, was reinstated immediately following the county receiving the necessary paperwork from the high court.

According to a legal opinion released Friday by DeKalb County Attorney O.V. Brantley, the overturning of his conviction required the county to reinstate Ellis. 

via Pixabay, edited

DeKalb County is having success finding shelter for those who wore the uniform.

DeKalb is the first county in Georgia to reach a milestone known as "functional zero" for homeless veterans.

That landmark means if a homeless vet is willing to accept housing, it is available.

Counties get this status if they can prove it takes less than three months to find permanent housing for veterans who agree to take it.

According to interim DeKalb CEO Lee May, the county has found housing for nearly 400 vets thus far this year. 

DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, with his wife Philippa, and defense attorney Craig Gillen, speaks during a press conference Thursday for the first time since he was convicted a year and a half ago following a second trial in DeKalb County.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis spoke out on Thursday for the first time since he was convicted a year and a half ago following a second trial in DeKalb County.

This is after the State Supreme Court reversed Ellis' corruption convictions.  He is accused of pressuring vendors for campaign contributions.

Ellis thanked his supporters, family and legal team during the “unimaginably horrific journey.”

Jeffrey Sprecher, chairman of the Intercontinental Exchange, New York Stock Exchange and 2017 chair-elect of the Metro Atlanta Chamber spoke about the importance of opposing discriminatory bills at the chambers annual meeting on Wednesday.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The Metro Atlanta Chamber said it will keep fighting any religious freedom legislation that gets introduced in Georgia's Legislature next year.

SunTrust Bank executive vice president and Metro Atlanta Chamber chair Jenner Wood said even the discussion of religious liberty bills like the one Governor Nathan Deal vetoed earlier this year, is not healthy for business.

A sunken boat is exposed by receding water levels on Lake Lanier. Rainfall is expected Monday night, but water restrictions are expected to stay in place through the winter months.
David Goldman / Associated Press

After more than 42 days of no rain in metro Atlanta, scattered showers are expected Monday evening, with steadier rain overnight.

In Cobb County, the rain will be “the first rain in Cobb in 67 days, a record since record keeping began in the 1880s,” according to Kathy Nguyen, the county’s water department’s senior project manager.  

Jason Lary is chairman of the Stonecrest YES Committee. He launched a campaign to form the city of Stonecrest in 2012.
Glenn L. Morgan / OCG News

Voters approved two new cities in metro Atlanta last week: Stonecrest in DeKalb County and South Fulton in Fulton County. Cityhood leaders are now getting ready to form new governments.

About four years ago, DeKalb County resident Jason Lary noticed a trend:

"Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Peachtree Corners. Every city that branched off flourished. Flourished. And without raising taxes," said Lary.

Ankita Ackroyd-Isales

For Board of Commissioners District 7 (To Fill the Unexpired Term of Stan Watson, Resigned)

STATUS: Likely runoff between Adams (26.19 percent) and Mangham (16.38 percent) as of 12:50 a.m. on Nov. 9, according to the Secretary of State's office

Ronda Hinton said it took her 20 minutes to vote early because there was confusion over whether she was registered to vote. She successfully cast hear ballot early in Fulton County at the Southeast Atlanta Public Library on Tuesday.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Georgia voters made history this year with more than 2.3 million people casting their votes early – surpassing a record set in 2008.

A total of 2,381,416 people cast their votes early or with an absentee ballot. In 2008, 2,129,316 people cast their votes early.

In metro Atlanta, several counties – including Gwinnett, Cobb and Fulton – beat their early voting records set in the last presidential election.

Martha Dalton / Public Broadcasting Atlanta

One of the less-successful venues from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics is the former tennis stadium. The site sits, unused, in Stone Mountain. But now it may get a new life, thanks to a land swap deal.

Gwinnett County will buy about 35 acres near Stone Mountain Park in DeKalb for about $1.2 million. Then Gwinnett will exchange the property for the deed to the tennis venue, which is held by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association.  

Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated Press

Lawyers for a group of people suing DeKalb County over its old court system are seeking class-action status, saying the court could have potentially mishandled thousands of other traffic cases.  

The lawsuit, which includes 17 plaintiffs, alleges DeKalb County’s Recorders Court reported mistakes about people’s traffic cases to the state Department of Driver Services. That led, the suit says, to the wrongful suspension of people’s driver’s licenses or the failure to reinstate a license.

Jim Burress / WABE

This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation is beginning to add lanes on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County.

It's the latest in an effort to add toll lanes to the busiest interstates in metro Atlanta.

GDOT is adding 10 more miles of toll lanes northbound and southbound between Old Peachtree and Hamilton Mill roads on Interstate 85. It would be an extension of the 16 miles of toll lanes on I-85 that stretch from Chamblee-Tucker Road in DeKalb County up to Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County.

WhosThisValGirl / flickr.com/whosthisvalgirl

DeKalb County admitted this week that it failed to report a number of sewage issues over the last four years, including 35 spills that reached the region's waterways. The county is required to report such issues to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency according to a 2010 federal court order.

Findings from an internal investigation submitted to the EPA show county employees sometimes didn't record a spill or overflow if they didn't witness it themselves. They also didn't report many cases where sewage simply flooded an area or building.

McAfee Rd passes over the Buena Vista Lake Dam in Decatur (Dekalb County).
Alison Guillory / WABE

Hundreds of miles of roads in DeKalb County will have to wait on special funds for resurfacing until state lawmakers can change a wording error in state law.

DeKalb County Commissioners voted this week against putting a special penny sales tax on November’s ballot because if the tax was approved, it would trigger an end to some property tax breaks for homeowners because of how one two-page state bill had been written. 

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