Sunday, August 30, 2009

Councilman Speaks Out on Trash

Below are the thoughts of Dunwoody City Councilman Robert Wittenstein on the city's future sanitation services. Apparently DeKalb County is only required to provide services for the first two years of city hood. Mayor Ken Wright, in a column printed in The Crier, explained how it will work after that. Said the mayor, "after the two years are up, the county will be like every other private contractor we contract with, in that the services offered will be negotiated with no legislation, rules or cap on charges. That means we have until November 30, 2010 to sign a contract with a sanitation provider with acceptable terms and service." The mayor says there will be no legislation or rules, so I'm guessing that means that DeKalb County is not required to continue services with Dunwoody like it does for other incorporated areas of the county (Perhaps I wasn't listening, but I never heard anyone mention the possibility of losing DeKalb County Sanitation in the lead-up to the vote on becoming a city).
Like Councilman Wittenstein, I'm all for keeping DeKalb services, provided the county doesn't decide to gouge us. And Robert - thanks for sharing your thoughts (Councilman Shortal does likewise and Councilman Heneghan has a blogsite). I wish the rest of the council would do the same.

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
It is time to talk about trash. First, let me say that, like most of you, I am very happy with the sanitation service I get from DeKalb County. Let me also say that our evaluation of sanitation alternatives isn’t some tactic to pressure DeKalb in any way. No one is pushing to get rid of DeKalb sanitation.
I must say that my thoughts on this subject have shifted a bit as we have started to move through the process. At the beginning, I felt like there was a reasonable chance that we could improve the service a bit, lower the cost a bit, and perhaps even provide some revenue to the city to help keep property taxes low. This wasn’t because there were any nagging complaints with DeKalb’s service; it is because I’m always looking for ways to improve things. As my children or my co-workers will tell you, I’m not easily satisfied. I look to improve everything.
I like the sanitation workers who have been picking up our garbage for years and I bring them bottled water on hot summer days. The potential cost savings come from the fact that labor is the largest expense in DeKalb’s sanitation service. If the three-person crew can be replaced by a driver and an automated system where identical (provided) trash cans can be auto-loaded with a robotic arm, then substantial cost savings may be possible.
I’ve now come to the conclusion that DeKalb’s sanitation service is like a comfortable pair of blue jeans or a favorite tool. Sure you can buy a replacement, and it might be newer, but it just won’t be the same. Our sanitation service from the county is very comfortable and there is no compelling reason to change.
We are going to have three public meetings at City Hall to seek input and I encourage you all to attend one or more meetings. The first one will be on Thursday, September 17 at 7:00 pm. It will provide information on several area plans including DeKalb, Chamblee, Stone Mountain and Sandy Springs—followed by public comment.
The second meeting will provide an overview of the research completed by the Dunwoody Sustainability Commission comparing and contrasting cities and counties and how they handle sanitation and recycling services followed by public comment. That meeting will be on Wednesday, September 23 at 10:00 am.
The third meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 29 at 7:00 pm and it will be a forum type meeting with a moderator. There will be several five minute presentations from private haulers bringing in bin/containers to allow residents to touch and feel options. The Georgia Recycling Coalition and Keep DeKalb Beautiful organizations will also make presentations. A Q&A session and public comment period will follow.
If you are happy with the service we have from DeKalb today, rest assured that I share your sentiment. I’ll try to keep an open mind as we go through the process, but an alternative would have to be much, much better before I would support changing what we have today.


Robert Wittenstein
Dunwoody City Council
Home Phone: 770-396-4747

Friday, August 28, 2009

St.Pius Trounces Marist in Opener

The high school football season opened up with a shocker on Friday night, as visiting St.Pius roughed up favorite Marist 28-3 before a sold out gathering at Hughes-Spalding Stadium. Marist entered the game as the 4th-ranked team in AAAA, looking to make amends for last year's 21-10 loss to the Lions.
I don't have the game statistics, but I was there to witness a heck-of-a-performance by St.Pius sophomore quarterback Trey White, who completely out-played his much-more heralded Marist counterpart Andy Perez. White threw a couple of touchdown strikes while running the option to perfection. Meantime, Perez and the Marist offense looked confused most of the night, and the defense wasn't much better.
Whether a fan of St.Pius or Marist, it was a perfect evening for football - and what a great place to take the family on a Friday night! I can't tell you how many neighbors I ran into. (Photos courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gotta Love A Little Controversy; Sanitation Services

As I stated in the last post, logging onto John Heneghen's website reminded me to post the fact that DeKalb County Superintendent Dr. Crawford Lewis would be speaking at Dunwoody High School next Thursday - his "State of the System" update. I mentioned that I would be attending, and that one of the questions I had for Dr. Lewis was, "what are the plans for the Dunwoody cluster of elementary schools over the next 5-to-10 years." Talk about starting a firestorm! There are now 43 comments on John's blog concerning the superintendent's update. And quite a few of them are taking pot shots at Vanderlyn parents. I think it would be worth you time to take a peek on John's site, and to submit your two-cents worth! Otherwise, it seems it's just Flashburger and I are sticking up for Vanderlyn parents. If nothing else, I think you will find it quite entertaining!!!
I hope you had a chance to read the letters to the editor in this week's Crier. One letter in particular attracted my attention. It was written by Kevin Copeland, the owner of justTRASHit!, a sanitation collection company based here in Dunwoody. Kevin talks about the Dunwoody City Council seeking bids from private companies to replace DeKalb County Sanitation should we no longer have the option to use the county's services or deem them too expensive. If there's one company that could provide the same service as DeKalb, I believe it would be Kevin's company. I don't know Kevin all that well, but what I know I like. He's built his company from the dirt, and the man has a never-quit attitude. Click on the photo for more on his company.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Answer to Tilly Mill/N.Peachtree Question; Meet with Dr. Lewis

Yesterday we asked the question, "why is there a Dunwoody police car parked at the intersection of Tilly Mill and North Peachtree seemingly every day of the week? With a policeman simply sitting in his car?" Thanks to the rapid response of Councilman Tom Taylor and Police Chief Billy Grogan, we now have the answer. Chief Grogan said it all stems from the traffic jams created by Georgia Perimeter College. "The officer parked there is working a part-time job, paid for by Georgia Perimeter College to help with traffic," said Grogan. "In most instances, the officer is there to observe traffic and assist in the intersection if it becomes blocked. In rare instances, the officer will actually work traffic in the intersection. However, his main job is to keep the intersection clear. This is only a temporary job during the start-up of the new semester." Taylor said that the city of Dunwoody has held meetings with GPC on a traffic plan, and in addition, the college has altered its class schedules to help alleviate backups.
Reading Councilman John Heneghan's blogsite reminded me to pass along next Wednesday's meeting with the DeKalb County School System superintendent. Thanks to the Dunwoody Chamblee Parent's Council, Dr. Crawford Lewis will give his "State of the System" update at Dunwoody High School on September 2 at 9:15 am, with refreshments served at 8:45.
I am planning to attend the meeting. The question I have for Dr. Lewis is, what are the plans for the Dunwoody cluster of elementary schools in the next 5-to-10 years? It's quite apparent that the new Dunwoody Elementary School was built to one day be a K-5 school (one peek at the restrooms will tell you that). Obviously, the current arrangement is the best the DeKalb County School System could come up with at present. But the DCSS certainly has its eye on changes in the future, perhaps in the next couple of years. I'd like for Dr. Lewis to let the taxpayers know exactly what the DCSS is thinking. This is a hot-button issue that I'm certain Dr. Lewis would like to avoid, but as taxpayers I feel we have the right to know.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Springfield Newsletter; What are Dunwoody Police Up To?

Are you on the email list for the Springfield News e-Newsletter published by our neighbor Kathy Wilson (sample snapshot above). If not, you can contact Kathy at and she will be happy to place you on the list.
I've had a few folks ask me, "why is there a Dunwoody police car parked at the intersection of Tilly Mill and North Peachtree seemingly every day of the week? With a policeman simply sitting in his car?" Good question. I have no answer, but I'll try to get one.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Real Estate Statistics

I thought you might be interested in the second quarter real estate statistics for the metro Atlanta area. While their numbers are not Dunwoody specific, our city basically mirrors them. These propriatary numbers were generated by our Keller Williams office.
The good news is that inventory continues to decline, however so does home sales which are down 15 percent for the second quarter of 2008.
According to our KW statistics, 60 percent of all homes sold in the metro Atlanta area during the second quarter were priced under $200,000. The actual median average was $162,000. The stats also say that while 31 percent of all home sales were foreclosures, in the under $200,000 category that number rose to a staggering 43.2 percent. With foreclosures bringing down overall pricing, homes are now selling at pre-2003 prices.
Here’s the good news for sellers - if you get your home priced correctly right out of the gate, our statistics show that you will receive 96.1 percent of your list price and sell your home in 25 days. However, if your home is not priced correctly and needs at least one reduction, that number drops to 73.8 percent of the original list price and the days on market jump to 252. Unfortunately, in the second quarter, 9 of 10 homes required a price reduction.
As I stated above, inventory in the Atlanta market continues to decline, from 11.3 months of inventory in the first quarter to 10.7 months the second. Six month is considered a balanced market, so as you can see we are still, very much, in a buyer’s market.
It is extremely important for both buyers and sellers to know the market statistics, which are not provided by many real estate companies. The numbers above tells buyers that good homes at good prices will still sell fast and that there needs to be a sense of urgency. Meantime, it tells sellers that if they do not price their home correctly right from the start, be prepared for a long haul on the market.
If you know of anyone buying or selling a home or needs answers to real estate questions, please have them call (404.644.5220) or email me (

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

City Hall Open House; Dunwoody Pervert; Bus Stop Snacks

My son Jack and I attended the Dunwoody City Hall open house this past Monday, and we were impressed to say the least. While I was piqued by the sleek look and state-of-the-art equipment in the renovated offices, Jack was dazzled by the array of food on hand (nothing like ice cream and chicken wings), courtesy of the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce.
Below is an article that appeared in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the man exposing himself to a Dunwoody jogger.
Dunwoody police are searching for a man accused of exposing himself to a female jogger Saturday. Police say the incident occurred around 8:30 a.m. at the intersection of Womack and Vermack Roads, when a heavy-set balding white man in a yellow sports car flagged the woman down and said he needed help with his GPS unit.
As the jogger approached, she saw the man was exposing more than a global positioning system.
The woman immediately fled and called 911, but the man could not be found.
Dunwoody police say the man’s car may have Florida tags. Anyone with information should call police at 678-382-6900.

It will be all smiles at the Springfield Dr./Summerford Dr. bus tomorrow afternoon. That's because every Thursday is snack time! Eight Moms are on a rotation, providing the 13 kids that ride the bus (and their siblings) with a sweet treat in recognition for their hard work at school. It's a lot of fun to watch the kids smiling from ear-to-ear as they pop off the bus!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Shortal Gives Dunwoody Update

The following are the comments of Dunwoody City Councilman Denis Shortal.

Fellow Citizens of Dunwoody ... Just some brief updates concerning our City:
1. City Hall Open House - Tonight, 17 AUG, from 4 to 7 PM there will be an Open House at your City Hall. I invite and urge all of you to come see your beautiful new City Hall. They will be tours and various other activities. Your City Hall is located at 41 Perimeter Center East. Quick directions .... coming south on Ashford Dunwoody Road make a left turn at the corner of the Bank America Branch and the McDonalds. If coming north on Ashford Dunwoody Road make a right turn at the same corner. Follow the road around to 41 Perimeter Center East ... the building will be on your right. Hope to see all of you there. After the Open House you are all invited to stay for your City Council's work session meeting that starts at 7 PM.
2. Security - We have had some home break-ins within our city. The hot items for the thieves seem to be flat screen TVs, laptop computers and any jewelry that they can find quickly. They are in and out in a very short time. Our police have a steady stream of patrols but the police need every citizen's help. We need everyone to step up and be the "eyes and ears" of our police. We are not asking anyone to confront suspicious people ... that is the police's job. What we do need is for everyone to be vigilant of what is going on around your home, street and neighborhood. The following are a few action items that will enhance your security and the security of our neighborhoods:
1. If you are leaving your house, even for a short time, let your neighbors know and ask them to be watchful.
2. If you see a suspicious person/s and/or a car on your street or at your or your neighbor's house ... call 911 ASAP. Do not hesitate to
call ... you are not bother our police ... you are helping them.
Remember call 911 ASAP!!!
3. Make a written note ASAP of the your best description of the suspicious person/s, car etc. Make the note when the info is fresh in your mind. Any specifics, like make, model, color and/or license plate
number (if you can only get two or three numbers of the license it
will be of great help to our police) of the car or a specific description of the person is extremely helpful.
4. Keep a camera handy and take pictures through your window of any suspicious person/s, cars , etc.
Security (Part 2) - Almost every car break-in that we have is caused by someone leaving something of valve - a computer, cellphone, purse, etc. - that can be seen from the outside. This is like leaving an open invitation to a thief. We will save ourselves a lot of grief if we keep everything of value that we have in our car hidden and out of view.
Security (Part 3) - Ladies when you are out shopping only take those items into the store that are absolutely necessary for you to conduct your transactions. If you must take your entire purse into the store - and I recommend you don't do that - make sure your purse is closed and you keep it secure at all times. As above, an open purse in the top of your shopping cart is a open invitation to thieves. At lot of times the thieves operate in pairs ... one to distract you with questions while the other thief snatches your wallet, etc. out of you purse.
3. Cross Walks and School Zones - School is back in session and I just want to emphasize slowing down, observing the speed limits around our schools and stopping when a pedestrian is in a cross walk. We have already had incidents of speeding around our schools and motorist not stopping for students and other pedestrians who are in the cross walks.
4. Personal Note - I will be having my reelection campaign kickoff one evening during the week of 31 AUG - 3 SEP. More info to follow on this when we have the date solidified.
My sincere thanks to each of you for your continued interest, involvement and support as we "Continue To Build Our City Together." ...

Denny Shortal, City Council District One - Post 1/ Mayor Pro Tem.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dunwoody Elementary on Fox News

In just its 4th day of existence, Dunwoody Elementary School made the national news! Fox News was at Dunwoody Elementary on Thursday morning to interview principal Johnathan Clark on the preventative measures the school is taking to combate illnesses such as the H1N1 virus - otherwise known as Swine Flu. Click on the picture to watch.
Curriculum night at Dunwoody Elementary is 6-7:30 pm Monday for 4th graders and 6-7:30 pm Tuesday for 5th graders. The evening will provide parents with the opportunity to visit their child's classroom and learn about the curriculum planned for the academic year. After attending the PTO meeting on Thursday night, I would suggest all parents make the effort!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dunwoody Elementary PTO Meeting; City Hall Open House

The new Parents Teachers Organization at Dunwoody Elementary School will hold its first board meeting at 7 pm on Thursday night at the school. I'm planning to attend and would love to have some company.
By the way, it was great to see a Dunwoody Police Officer stationed at the corner of Womack and Vermack this morning! It sure did ease the traffic.
The City of Dunwoody is hosting an Open House from 4-7 pm this coming Monday. All residents of Dunwoody are invited to tour the administrative offices, the police department, as well as the municipal court and city council chambers. City staff will be on hand to meet and greet all that attend. Light refreshments will be served and attendees are encouraged to stay for the City Council meeting which will commence at 7:00pm. For more information, click here: City of Dunwoody Open House.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Springfield Just Misses $1 Million Mark; Story of Inspiration

Springfield almost had its first million dollar home sale. The property at 1539 Summerford Ct. closed at the end of July. The sales price: a cool $975,000!!! It certainly won't hurt our neighborhood property values. At the other end of the spectrum, the foreclosed property at 4795 Springfield Dr. is under contract. The home is not scheduled to close until November (so I won't know the sales price until then), but it was listed for $254,000.
Need inspiration? Click on the picture (left). It's the story of two physically handicapped wrestlers overcoming the obstacles. A tremendous story weaved together by my old friend and colleague Tom Rinaldi of ESPN.

Monday, August 10, 2009

First Day of School; DHA Supports Vernon North

Monday marked the first day of school in DeKalb County - as well as most public schools across the state - and the bus for Dunwoody Elementary and Vanderyn came early. The first Springfield stop was promptly at 6:42 am! After the bus picked up my kids at 6:50, I started on my morning jog down Womack - and man-o-man you should have seen the backup! I was rather surprised that the Dunwoody Police Department didn't have an officer directing traffic at the flashing red light at Womack and Vermack, as cars stacked up 20-25 deep. My suggestion: walk or ride the bus - it will save a ton of aggravation. Oh by the way, WSB-TV was live at Dunwoody Elementary this morning.
The Dunwoody Homeowners Association held it's monthly business meeting last night. Among the items of interest: Bill Grant unveiling blueprints for a new bank (Piedmont Bank) that will take over the spot formerly occupied by Wolf Camera near Fresh Market. Grant says he hopes to have construction complete by the end of the year. The bank building will be slightly bigger than Wolf, with one drive-thru window and one ATM drive thru.
The DHA also heard from the Vernon North neighborhood which plans to appeal the decision by the Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals to grant the Goddard School the necessary stream buffer variance to build an 11,000 square-foot playground that will abut its property (the Goodard School plans to open a childcare facility in Dunwoody Village Court adjacent to the Vernon North neighborhood). Vernon North says the city did not follow due process. The DHA voted 10-1 to give Vernon North $2,500 to help with legal fees for the appeal, which the neighborhood estimates will run $10,000-$15,000. Not convinced that the city followed proper procedure, I voted yes to helping Vernon North in its appeal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Opening Ceremony at Dunwoody Elementary; DHA Meeting

The new Dunwoody Elementary School held it's opening ceremony on Saturday before a packed gathering in the new cafetorium (cafe + auditorium). Among the dignitaries on hand, DeKalb County School System superintendent Crawford Lewis. All systems appear ready to go for Monday's first day of school.
The Dunwoody Homeowners Association (of which I have been a member of the board for the past 8 months) meets tonight at 7:30 pm at the Arts Center (next to the library). As always, the public is not only invited but encouraged to come.
The agenda is below:
Dunwoody Homeowners Association
Board Meeting
Sunday, August 9, 2009, 7:30 P.M.


Welcome Board Members and Visitors

1. Approval of Minutes – for July 2009 meeting
2. Zoning and Development
a. New Dunwoody Bank – Bill Grant
3. Community Affairs
a. Dunwoody Bike Information - Doug Thompson / Joe Seconder
b. Dunwoody Arts Festival – Frances Schube
c. Dunwoody Library – Ron Leonard
d. Vernon North Neighborhood – Terry Nall
4. Messages & Updates from President
a. LUD
5. Board Discussion and Votes
6. Adjourn

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dunwoody Elementary Registration

Wednesday was registraton at the new Dunwoody Elementary (as well as Vanderlyn). It appears that the school will be ready in time for the first day of school on Monday.