Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dunwoody Bank Robbed at Gunpoint

By Larry Hartstein
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A gunman held up Flagstar Bank in Dunwoody Thursday morning, police said.
The robber entered the Mount Vernon Road bank (across from All Saints Church) at 9:30 a.m. He demanded cash and fled on foot with an undisclosed sum.

Police say the suspect is a 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 black man weighing 180 to 200 pounds. He was wearing a black knit cap, glasses, a black mask, a black hooded North Face jacket, black gloves and dark blue jeans.
Dunwoody police are working with the FBI on the case.
Anyone with information is urged to call Det. Kelly Boyer at 678-382-6914 or email

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Suing Ourselves

The website definites absurd: utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false: an absurd explanation.
With that said, the word absurd most definitely fits to describe someone that files a lawsuit against himself (or herself). 

Burrell Ellis
That's exactly what we, the taxpayers of both the City of Dunwoody and County of DeKalb, have done.  We are suing ourselves!  We are using taxpayer money to hire one attorney, and more taxpayer money to hire another attorney to argue the case against that first attorney.  And, oh by the way, these are not discount attorneys (the attorney hired by Dunwoody is former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Leah Ward Sears).
In case you haven't heard, Dunwoody is suing DeKalb for $7 million.  That's what the city says it is owed by the county in bond money promised for Brook Run Park.  Do I blame the city for suing?  No.  I blame the county, in particular CEO Burrell Ellis, for not forking over the cash that was clearly promised for Brook Run (it's fairly easy to follow the paper trail - see John Heneghan's site).  It's a losing lawsuit, and in the end, we, the taxpayers of Dunwoody, are the big losers.  After all, it's our money being spent, and not the money of our CEO, who apparently finds it necessary to flex his ego over this issue.

At this point it would be appropriate to use the words "arrogant idiot" and pass along's definition of those words, but it might be easier to simply "google" Vernon Jones!  Harsh?  You bet!  But I'm tired of my tax dollars being wasted!!!!

Below is Dunwoody Councilman Robert Wittenstein's letter regarding the lawsuit, as well as other city business.
Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

I am sorry it has come to this, but this week we filed a lawsuit against DeKalb County in an effort to get them to turn over about $7 million in unspent bond funds earmarked for Brook Run park improvements. When we formed the city, we reconciled ourselves to the fact that we would continue to pay property taxes to retire almost $100 million in county debt from a 2005 parks bond issue. To balance that, we at least expected the county to recognize that the $7 million in unspent funds for Brook Run needed to be spent for the original purpose. We have held multiple meetings with the County CEO and members of the Board of Commissioners but they have dug their heels in. Our last letter in September was completely ignored. So now, both sides will get expensive lawyers and we, the taxpayers, will pay for the litigation expense on both sides. It is truly unfortunate that it has come to this.

Speaking of parks, we are in the final stages of developing a Dunwoody Parks Master Plan. This plan will include an updated master plan for Brook Run and highlight opportunities to improve our park offerings. I am very excited about this progress. One of the areas of DeKalb County’s neglect that is the hardest to overcome is the lack of parks they created in Dunwoody. It is easy to hire police and to pave roads but to acquire the land and develop the parks system we should have will be a commitment we will need to undertake over a number of years. The draft plan should be available in late February.

We are also making excellent progress on developing master plans for Dunwoody Village and the Georgetown area. These plans will help developers understand what the community would like to see built in these areas and should help guide private redevelopment. I hope that part of the plan will include a traditional ‘town green’ where we can have outdoor concerts and a gathering place for Dunwoody residents.

In other Dunwoody news, we will end the year with a slightly larger surplus than expected largely because the Insurance Tax payment from the state will be larger than we budgeted. This is the first time this tax has been paid to us (it is paid a year in arrears) so we had been conservative in estimating the amount.

Have a happy and safe New Year!



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Real Estate Market, Link for Sustainable Pattie

2010 will end with 143 single family homes listed for sale in Dunwoody in the 30338 zip code.  These homes range in price from $1,568,000 to $175,000.  To view any of these homes with photos (in descending order by price), click on the first link below.  To view as a list, click the second link.  There are currently eight homes under contract in Dunwoody in 30338.

The home in the photo above is a for-sale-by-owner, thus is not included in the listings in the links above.  To get more information on this wonderful 4-bedroom, 3-bath traditional in Kingsley (right across from Kingsley Racquet & Swim Club), click on the photo.
You can always keep up with current listings in Dunwoody by going to and clicking on the Dunwoody Homes link under Dunwoody Real Estate on the middle right hand column.

Link for Sustainable Pattie

As I shared with you in the last entry, the Atlanta Journal Constitution's April Hunt did a nice article on Dunwoody's own Pattie Baker, affectionately known as Sustainable Pattie.  The article is now available online, to read it click Sustainable Pattie.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Alright, so maybe our Dunwoody Christmas isn't as white as the photo above, but nonetheless it is snowing!   Right now in our house it's that calm before the storm.  Or at least the calm between opening Christmas presents and enjoying a Christmas feast. 
The down time has allowed me to pick up today's Atlanta Journal Constitution and enjoy a very nice article on Dunwoody's own Sustainable Pattie, Pattie Baker, written by April Hunt.  Pattie is about all things green in Dunwoody.  She walks the walk.  I would share the article with you, or at least the link, however the AJC doesn't appear to have it in its online edition.  Of course, you can always click on the Sustainable Pattie link on the DunwoodyUSA homepage to read and learn more from Pattie.
Time to go eat!

Monday, December 20, 2010

All Saints Pastor To Retire; Tax Increase

After 25 years as the pastor of All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Monsignor Donald Kiernan is retiring.  Kiernan, who celebrates his 86th birthday on December 28, has been a priest for 61 years.  The Monsignor will continue to reside at All Saints and will continue to celebrate Mass, but will no longer handle administrative chores or chart the future of the parish.  The Most Reverend Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, has not yet named a replacement.
Msgr. Kiernan has built a legacy of service to many community and statewide organizations. He founded the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, serving as its director and chaplain for over 20 years.
He also has served as the chaplain to the Georgia State Patrol, the DeKalb County Police Department, the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms’ local division and the Knights of Columbus.
He has been a colleague to Georgia governors and Atlanta mayors over the decades, as well as to chiefs of police and public servants. He was editor of The Georgia Bulletin for over a decade in the 1950s and 1960s and a vicar general of the archdiocese from 2000-2005.
In 1984, the Boy Scouts of America recognized Msgr. Kiernan’s contributions by awarding him its highest honor, the Silver Beaver Award. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Atlanta Boy Scouts of America and the board of the USO.
Msgr. Kiernan has received many honors and awards, including the Prothonotary Apostolic, which is the highest rank of monsignor, in 1979. He has received honorary doctorates from Biscayne College in Miami, from his Alma mater, Providence College in Rhode Island, and from Georgia State University.

DeKalb Property Tax Increase

In my last blog entry, I passed along information on DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis' proposed budget for 2011, which includes a 2.32 mill property tax increase.   Dunwoody Councilman Robert Wittenstein commented that under this proposal, the average Dunwoody homeowner would see a property tax increase of $371 per year.  Bob Lundsten, who is chief of staff for DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, added, "residents in DeKalb should be shouting from the hilltops for DeKalb to reduce the number of County employees, cut non essential services and control spending before asking for what will be an increase of 300-500 bucks a year for homeowners."
Bob is right - why aren't we shouting from the hilltops?  Our tax bills are about to increase by the cost of a brand new 42" flat screen television (which would work nicely in my bedroom since my kids always commandeer the one in the great room), and no one is saying anything!   It's not like our services will be improved or enhanced.  We're already facing a 49 percent increase in our water and sewer bills over the next 4 years. 
To contact the CEO to let him know how you feel, email him by clicking on his name:  Burrell Ellis.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Expect DeKalb Tax Bill To Rise Sharply

Burrell Ellis
Love or hate the City of Dunwoody, give our Mayor, City Council and City Manager big-time credit.  They have held the line on taxes.   With that said, expect to see a major jump in the DeKalb County portion of your tax bill (which is a huge percentage of your tax bill compared with the percentage controlled by the city).  DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis' proposed budget for 2011 includes a a 2.32 mill property tax increase.  According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the average $200,000 home will have its annual tax bill rise $264 under the CEO’s proposal (read the complete story by clicking on AJC).   Combine this with a 49 percent increase over the next 4 years in our water and sewer bill - and we're talking about a serious increase!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Odds & Ends

Vanderlyn Singers perform last night at Dunwoody Library
Last night the Vanderlyn Singers sounded amazing in performing at the Dunwoody Library, tonight the place to be in Dunwoody is St.Luke's Church as its stages its live Nativity Scene (animals included).  The public is invited. 

Live Nativity scene at St.Luke's
Pruitt's Last Newscast

Tomorrow night marks the final newscast for WBS-TV's John Pruitt, who's been an Atlanta staple since 1964.  It will be sad to see John go, a news anchor who actually put the news ahead of himself (rare in today's climate)!  The Atlanta Journal Constitution with a nice article on John in today's edition.

By Bo Emerson

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

After 46 years in the business, John Pruitt will anchor his last news broadcast Friday. He still remembers his first story.
A new arrival at WSB-TV in July 1964, the 22-year-old Pruitt was sent to help haul equipment to cover a speech by Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett. Barnett’s white audience, assembled to protest the Civil Rights Act, suddenly discovered a group of black counterprotesters in their midst and began beating them with feet, fists and folding chairs.

The untrained Pruitt was tossed a camera and told to get film of the audience. His disturbing footage of the beating made the network news that night.
“In a strange way, it was exhilarating,” Pruitt said Tuesday as he sat at his modest cubicle in the cavernous newsroom for Channel 2 Action News at WSB's Midtown headquarters. “You’re there. You are the instrument that brings that scene to so many others.”
With that experience, the Davidson graduate was hooked. “I thought I had found a job I could love,” Pruitt said.
Click AJC to read full story.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An Opinion on Chick-fil-A

The opinion below is from longtime Dunwoody resident and zoning expert Bob Lundsten.  Bob posted this as a 'comment' on this blog, but I respect Bob's opinion enough to repost it here.
While I do respect Bob's opinion, I believe we need to explore all possibilities before putting the kibosh on Chick-fil-A.  We need to think outside the box.  If a Chick-fil-A is what the community wants, all avenues must be explored.  There must be a way without compromising zoning or the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Bob Lundsten (left)
Fran is a friend of mine, a great State Rep, and will be a tremendous State Senator. However, I disagree with him regarding the rezoning of commercial property for a drive-thru restaurant (as stated in his opinion column in last week’s Crier) in Dunwoody.

First and foremost, this issue is NOT about Chick Fil A. It IS about rezoning for a fast food drive-thru restaurant. I concede that CFA is a great corporate citizen. They are closed on Sundays and who doesn’t like their sandwiches? But none of these are LEGAL reasons to rezone a property. You do not rezone your city based on popular opinion of an end user.
Secondly, the claim is that the shopping strip is dying, vacancies are everywhere. Well as compelling as that sounds, it is not really true. Two new businesses have opened in the last couple of weeks and the consignment store is doing well and has just expanded. The vacancy of the old ACE site is by fault of the community as they “rallied” to stop Goodwill from leasing the entire space. Goodwill, a permitted user, chose to open instead in Sandy Springs and opened a second store in Johns Creek. With all the years I have been involved with development, I have never seen or even heard of a situation that a fast-food restaurant plays the role of redevelopment king. Does anyone honestly believe that if they were to open, the 30,000 square feet of empty space next door becomes A list property? The reason the strip looks so bad is the owner has not spent a penny in keeping it up. Chick Fil A will not change that.
The idea that the rezoning will not increase traffic is also absurd. Not even mentioning the fact that in the application to rezone CFA mentions a significant increase in car trips, no one wants to address the increased stops and turns that a fast-food place by design creates. I have heard that patrons have five ways to exit the center. When the site was a Blockbuster, driving around that lot was dangerous and EVERYONE will tend to use the exit directly across from Kroger.
Finally, while dismissed by some as a mere annoyance or inconvenience, the newly adopted Comprehensive Land Use Plan does have a huge role in what the future of Dunwoody will be. In the case of this property, no where does it encourage or recommend drive thru restaurants. In fact, if you actually read the plan and read the sections regarding this gateway, you will see that everything that is written is exactly opposite of what this applicant is requesting. Tell me how the proposed Chick Fil A is pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Tell me how they promote “community”. Tell me how they are a unique destination. Tell me this is the first thing you want people to see as they come into our city from the east.
You cannot rezone for a user. You cannot condition a zoning for a specific user. The proposed plan put forth by Chick Fil A does not have enough parking per the city code. It will cause additional traffic at an intersection that is already bad and will be even worse once the Ace site is leased.
This case will be litmus test for our council. Are we all talk about making things better or will we walk the walk towards a better Dunwoody?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dunwoody Housing Market; Chick-fil-A

The real estate market in the metro area continues to struggle (read more below), and Dunwoody is no different.  There are currently 140 active single family homes listed in Dunwoody in the 30338 zip code, ranging in price from $1,568,000 to $185,000.  One month ago there were 163 active listings.
Presently, there are 11 homes under contract, with two more waiting lender approval (meaning they are short sales, selling for below the mortgage owed on the property).  Five homes have sold in the past 30 days.
To view any of the active listings click on the first link below. 

Nationally, The housing market continues its uneven and gradual recovery without the aid of the tax credit. Experts believe this will be the trend moving forward. Interest rates hit another record low but have started moving back up as the overall economy improves.
Despite a less-than-expected employment report, consumers seem to be feeling brighter about the future. While the Consumer Confidence Index about the Present Situation rose only slightly, the Expectation Index showed substantial improvement. As we enter into the holiday gift-buying season, consumers are expected to be out shopping and buying more gifts for under the tree this year. Reports indicate a 13-24% increase in retail sales from last year. Consumer spending accounts for about half of all economic activity in the US; as long as consumers are spending and using debt responsibly, this is a positive indicator for economic growth.
This march back up continues to provide excellent opportunities: an ample selection of homes, affordable prices, and historically low interest rates.

Chick-fil-A Defers

The Dunwoody Community Council was expecting to hear from Chick-fil-A last night on its request for a zoning change at the old Blockbuster location near Jett Ferry, in order to build a new double, drive-thru restaurant.  Instead, Chick-fil-A said it will defer its request until it can get the city and the Dunwoody Homeowners' Association on board (Sunday night the DHA voted against Chick-fil-A's request).
While Chick-fil-A had little to say, Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce President Bill Grant spoke in favor of the proposed restaurant; ditto for a few residents of nearby Brooke Farm. 
Stacey Harris of the DHA spoke against a zoning change as did zoning expect Bob Lundsten.  Both saying it does not fit with the city's new Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Community Council Hears from Chick-fil-A

Click on Photo for Community Council Agenda
Tonight the Dunwoody Community Council will hear from representatives from Chick-fil-A on their proposal for a restaurant, with a double drive-thru, at the site of the old Blockbuster near Jett Ferry Rd.  According to the city's website, the Community Council board, which is made up of seven Dunwoody residents, serves as a recommending board to the Planning Commission and the City Council.  Its main function is to provide the public additional opportunity to review rezoning requests, special land use permit requests and code text amendments.
It will be interesting to see the council's recommendation to the city, especially with the Dunwoody Homeowners' Association voting against it (I did not vote as I was in Kiawah Island, South Carolina on a cold and windy golf trip!  See photo below).  I know of at least one member of the council who would like to see Chick-fil-A become the flagship business to re energize this sleepy shopping center, however, might not agree with the necessary zoning change to allow it.  My guess is, the Community Council will follow in the footsteps of the DHA (see previous post for reasons why). 
Personally, I'd love to have a Chick-fil-A at this location.  But not if it means rezoning - the consequences are too great.

Friday, December 3, 2010

DHA Discusses Chick-fil-A & Kroger

The Dunwoody Homeowners' Association meets 7:30 pm this Sunday night in Room 4 of the Cultural Arts Center (next to the library) and among the hot-button issues:  Chick-fil-A's interest in opening a restaurant in Williamsburg, and renovation of the Georgetown Kroger.  Representatives from each will be on hand to answer questions.
If you've never been to a DHA meeting, the public is invited and it is interactive.  This is your chance to voice an opinion on Chick-fil-A.  As for my opinion, I think Chick-fil-A would be a great addition, replacing the old Blockbuster across from the vacant Ace Hardware.  The problem is the shopping center is not zoned for a drive-thru, and if an exception is made for Chick-fil-A it opens up Pandora's Box for a whole lot of businesses that many of us would not like to see, not only at this location but other locations throughout Dunwoody. 
As for the vacant Ace Hardware, Kroger owns the lease on the property and is being very careful about picking a tenant.  Trader Joe's would love to have the spot, but Kroger is not about to let a competitor occupy it.  Both Dollar General and Goodwill also wanted to open a store there, but public opinion shot that down in a hurry.
Click on the photo below to see the DHA's agenda for Sunday night's meeting.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jester Wins School Board Position

Click on photo to link to Dekalb Election Results
If Nancy Jester works as hard as a member of the DeKalb County School Board as she did getting elected (and there's no reason to think she won't), brighter days could be ahead for the DeKalb County School System, still trying to dig itself out from under the scandals that have rocked the system.  Tuesday night, Jester received 55 percent of the runoff vote to defeat incumbent Jim Redovian and claim the District 1 position.  Among the issues Jester ran on:  improving academic achievement, reforming the budget (zero-based, from bottom up) and finding and hiring a reform-minded, innovative superintendent. 
Perhaps the best news for residents of DeKalb County is that challenger Donna Edler defeated incumbent Zapora Roberts to win the District 7 seat.  Roberts' work on the board has been highly questionable at times, while Edler appears to have a much better command of the issues.  Edler received better than 72 percent of the vote.
It was a tough loss for Redovian, who was elected to the position in 2006 when he ran unopposed.  Redovian definitely gave Dunwoody schools their just due when it came to funding from the DeKalb, but he couldn't escape the shadows of the scandal involving superintendent Crawford Lewis and chief of operations Pat Pope.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Election, Dunwoody Updates

A reminder that the runoffs from the November 2 election are tomorrow.  The race with the greatest impact locally is that for DeKalb County School Board, District 1.  Incumbent Jim Redovian is trying to fend off a strong challenge from Nancy Jester.  Passions run high in this race.  Many feel that Jim, a longtime Dunwoody resident, would continue to make sure our neighborhood schools are not overlooked by the board (I know my neighborhood is appreciative of his hard work over the last 4 years, as well as Jim stepping in to right a wrong), while other think Jester is the right person to hire a new superintendent and oversee his or her work. 
Be sure to make your voice heard by voting!

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
We continue to work through alternatives for providing 911 service. At the moment we are focused on two alternatives, staying with DeKalb County or moving over to ChatComm, the joint Sandy Springs/Johns Creek 911 center. It really comes down to how much to spend for what level of service.

A 911 center is really two different call centers in one building. On one side you have call takers. They spend their time talking over phone lines to folks who call 911. They figure out what kind of emergency it is, who is calling, and where the problem is. Then they enter all of this information into a computer system. On the other side you have dispatchers. Once a call taker transfers a call to the dispatcher, the dispatcher works with responders to coordinate emergency response. Both teams have to function well for a call to be handled quickly and efficiently.

Industry standard benchmarks require call takers to answer 90% of calls with no delay and to complete the information gathering process within 60 seconds on average. DeKalb County 911 habitually misses both of these benchmarks. ChatComm (after their initial 6 month startup) has a consistent track record of exceeding these benchmarks. Seems like a simple decision, right? Well, maybe or maybe not.

ChatComm will cost Dunwoody as much as $300,000 per year more. That is $300,000 we can’t spend on Roads, Parks and Police. While DeKalb hasn’t hit the 90% mark in years, they do manage to hit 88% with some regularity. They don’t average 60 seconds, instead they average 99 seconds. Is that good enough? How much is 30 seconds per call worth? Is it worth almost a thousand dollars a day?

There are other issues as well. One advantage of ChatComm is their ability to coordinate response between Sandy Springs police and ours. That could be an important service improvement for both cities. Another big advantage to ChatComm relates to cell phone towers. When someone calls 911 from a cell phone, they are transferred to the 911 center related to the tower their phone connects to. If you are calling anywhere along our borders, that tower may not be in Dunwoody. If you are transferred to the wrong center by the cell network, valuable time is lost when the call is re-routed to the correct 911 center. With ChatComm, because Sandy Springs wraps around us, our Dunwoody residents would be insulated from that problem along half our boarder. If we go with ChatComm, whether your phone connects to a tower in Dunwoody or Sandy Springs, you will still be connected to the correct 911 center.

Finally, DeKalb’s 911 center has been in disarray for many years. They are trying to bring in a new director and they are in the process of acquiring a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system but the department has been understaffed and poorly managed for years. I tried to find out how many callers were on hold for two minutes or longer and was told, “no one knows how to get that information.” That is a bit scary.

On the other side, there is a disadvantage to ChatComm: Fire and EMS service will continue to be provided by DeKalb. While Fire and EMS make up a small portion of the total call volume, calls for those services to the ChatComm 911 center will need to be transferred to DeKalb for dispatch. There is also a one-time equipment and setup cost of $500,000 to transfer to ChatComm.

I’m not sure which way the City Council will ultimately decide to go, or when the decision will be made, but it is clearly not an easy call.

In other Dunwoody news, we have just received a grant to study the feasibility of creating a Dunwoody Greenway along the Georgia Power high-tension power easement that runs through Dunwoody from Sandy Springs to Gwinnett. This is a very exciting potential opportunity to create a path for runners, walkers and bicyclists.

Have a wonderful holiday season!


Update from Councilman Shortal

My Fellow Citizens .... The following are a few update items of interest:

1. Thanksgiving .... My hope is that each of you and your Family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for as we are so blessed to live in this great Country. My thankfulness go out to all those Americans in foreign lands, away from their Families, who are facing off against the tyrants of the world. I am also thankful for the vast majority of my fellow citizens who demonstrate can-do positive spirit by putting the welfare of all our city's citizens ahead of the welfare of self.

2. 911 ... This topic has received a lot of publicity. The update is that no final decision has been make to date. Our choices are staying with DeKalb County (DC), going with Chat-Com (Sandy Springs & Johns Creek) or starting our own 911 service. About two weeks ago the discussions with DC intensified starting with a face to face meeting between our 911 committee (I am a member of that committee) and the DC 911 principals. We have received a proposal from DC and have sent them a counter proposal. If we can come to a mutual agreement with DC it would be the most economical route for us as the cost would be paid by the monthly $1.50 fee that each of us pay with our phone bill. Both Chat-Com and internal 911 service cost estimates are in the $300,00 range annually from our general funds plus an initial start up cost. I will keep you informed on this important issue.

3. Parks Survey ... As you know we have hired a firm to do a Master Park Plan (MPP) for our City. We are seeking input from each of you. I ask you to go to our city website and fill out the on line survey. The survey can be found our Parks and Recreation website at ... ... the survey will only take a few minutes of your time. Also, be alert for future town hall meetings concerning our MPP.

4. Recycling .... There is an old saying that there is nothing worst than a reformed smoker. I guess I can now call myself a reformed non-recycler ... yes, after listening to my conscience and being encouraged by the work of our Sustainability Committee Meredy and I have joined in and become "recyclers." Actually I am very happy that we started recycling. As a rough measurement, I have noted almost one-half of our total trash output has proven to be recyclable items. This means that the Shortal's trash contribution to the sanitary landfill has been reduced by 50%. Also this means 50% of our trash is being recycled into usable items. Recycling is easy and cheap to get started .... simply go to this DC website .... and about half way down the page you will see this paragraphs:

"How to Participate ... Call the Sanitation Customer Service (404) 294-2900 or email and subscribe to the residential recycling program. Initial subscription cost is $30.00 which includes the bin and bags as described above. To subscribe to our recycling program, please fill out the application form below and send it along with your check or money order of $30.00. to our Sanitation Division at 3463 Camp Circle, Building B Decatur, GA 30032. Make checks payable to DeKalb County.

Residential Subscription Curbside Application ."

You will note there is an initial subscription cost of $30 .... $15 for the "Blue Recycle Box" and $15 for 200 blue bags (that is a two year supply). I highly encourage each of you the join the "Blue Box/Bag Recycle Brigade," .... like us, I think you will be glad that you join!

5. Voting ... The Runoff Election voting is this Tuesday, November, 30th. Voting will be at your normal polling place from 7 AM until 7 PM. Because of the historical low voter turnout in runoff elections your vote is extremely important. There are four Nonpartisan Election Runoffs on our ballot. To see a runoff ballot go to DeKalb Election .... and under Current Election Information the 4th item in "Sample Ballot-Voter Specific" ... click on this, fill in your info and hit submit .... when the next page comes up about half way down the page in blue is "Sample Ballot." In these four elections ... please take it for what it is worth ... the following are the candidates I will be supporting and that I believe are worthy of your considerations:

Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia .... David Nahmias .... A Dunwoody resident with high moral values.
Judge, Court of Appeals of Georgia.... Chris McFadden .... The most qualified IMO.
Judge, Superior Court of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit ... Michael Rothenberg ..... IMO, definitely the best of the two choices.
DeKalb County Board of Education District One .... Jim Redovian .... A Dunwoody resident who has had several children go through the local public schools. During his tenure we have several million dollar worth of new and renovation construction on our public schools in Dunwoody..... including construction of Dunwoody Elementary School and the ongoing major addition/improvement to Dunwoody High School. A strong proponent of charter schools and keeping taxes low.

Of course, whomever you vote for is solely your choice but what ever you do ... PLEASE VOTE THIS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH!!!

6. Thanks ... My special thanks to the over 700 volunteers who took park in the "Clean, Fix and Shine-Up Dunwoody Day." This effort was spearheaded by North Atlanta Church of Christ, Dunwoody Baptist Church, Life Center Church and All Saints Catholic Church. The head of the Dunwoody Volunteer Coordination Committee ... Mr. Bill Tobin .... coordinated the effort that included trash pick up, major park improvements and painting fire hydrants with shiny yellow paint donated by Sherwin Williams.

7. Thanks # 2 ..... If you have driven by the Donaldson Chestnut Farm lately you have the notice the beautifully decorated mailbox compliments of one of our citizens .... Linda Shulin. Thanks Linda for your community spirit!

8. Litter Ordinance .... We recently passed a new City Litter Ordinance. We hope this will discourage folks from throwing litter around our City. Part of this ordinance prohibits blowing / throwing leaves, grass clipping and other yard waste into the street. The main purpose behind this effort is to keep these items out of our storm sewer and thus reducing costly future repairs.

9. I best close as I have to get up in the morning and get is a "workout" in an effort to work off the effects of the superb Thanksgiving food. Please forward this to any of your friends and neighbors that maybe interested. Anyone who wants to be added to my email list just let me know and I will make that happen. Again, thanks for you support!

Let Us Continue To Build Our City Together

Denny Shortal
Dunwoody City Council, District One, Post-1
Mayor Pro Tem
Ph (O) 678-382-6700 (C) 678-246-9006

Friday, November 26, 2010

Music Hall of Fame in Dunwoody?

Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon
Dunwoody City Councilman Danny Ross is looking into the possibility of relocating the Georgia Music Hall of Fame to Dunwoody.  The Hall of Fame, currently located in Macon, is in financial distress.  The state of Georgia has been subsidising the Hall, but state legislators have no interest in continuing to funnel money its way.  Would the Hall be profitable in Dunwoody?  That is the question.  Click on the photo to watch a video of the Hall, forwarded by Councilman Ross, and please vote (top left) on whether you want the Hall to come to Dunwoody.

City Hosts Brook Run Park Planning Meeting
Brook Run Park

The City of Dunwoody Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a public meeting to discuss the future of Brook Run Park.

WHAT: The Dunwoody Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a public meeting to develop plans for the future of Brook Run Park. Lose and Associates will lead the meeting to guide participants in developing possible options for the park’s future. The meeting will include a review of the 2003 Brook Run Master Plan, information collected from previous public meetings, and the current site analysis.

WHO: Everyone is invited to participate in the public meeting.

WHEN & Saturday, December 11, 2010

WHERE: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church
4755 North Peachtree Road
Dunwoody, GA

A Wondeful Thanksgiving
I sincerely hope that you had a happy Thanksgiving.  Despite my beloved Longhorns losing to hated-rival Texas A&M Thursday evening to finish their worst season in 54 years, it was a fabulous day with family and friends (not to mention, the kids' noon football game at Dunwoody High School, pictured below).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fun at Light Up Dunwoody

Dunwoody High School Band

Dunwoody Elementary Singers

Police Chief Billy Grogan with Councilman Wittenstein & wife Susan 

Christmas Tree at the Farmhouse

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dunwoody Shooting

Below is the latest from WBS on the shooting in Dunwoody Village yesterday that resulted in the death of 36-year old Russell Sneiderman.  Click Dunwoody Police to read the official report.

DUNWOODY, Ga. WSB -- Dunwoody police said they continue to review surveillance video in the hopes it will help them figure out who shot and killed a father in front of a preschool.

Russell Sneiderman
Police said a man shot and killed 36-year-old Russell Sneiderman, a father of two, outside Dunwoody Prep Preschool on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road on Thursday morning.
Detectives returned to the scene on Thursday night in search of evidence.
Police said someone shot Sneiderman in the chest multiple times after he dropped off his 2-year-old son. 
Click on WSB to read the rest of the story - click here to see photos. 

Police Need Gift Wrappers

The Dunwoody Police Department's 2nd annual Christmas for Kids drive needs volunteers to wrap gifts on December 5 from 9am-1pm at Dunwoody Baptist Church.   For more information go to Christmas for Kids, or contact Liz Stell at the Dunwoody Police Department at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shooting at Dunwoody Village

The story below is from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  I spoke with someone who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident.  They said there was a visable pool of blood, and from what they saw, the shooting may very well have resulted in a fatality. 

By Kristi E. Swartz
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gunfire broke out Thursday morning in the parking lot of a Dunwoody preschool.
An unidentified bearded man believed to be in his mid-30s pumped four bullets into the victim, who was taken to Atlanta Medical Center, said Dunwoody Police spokesman Mike Carlson. His condition is unknown.
"All we know is that he pulled up about 9:10 in the morning, and the witnesses, they saw another white male walk up to him and start firing," Carlson told the AJC.
Carlson said investigators do not know if either the shooter or the victim had ties to the preschool.
"We're looking at all possibilities," Carlson said.
The shooter was spotted leaving the Dunwoody Prep Preschool in a silver Dodge Minivan, Carlson said. Shortly before noon, a silver Infiniti was towed from the school parking lot.
The school's staff and children did not witness the incident but parents' nerves were frazzled nonetheless.
Click on AJC to read full story.

Light Up Dunwoody

Dunwoody's Tree?  Close
 A reminder that Light Up Dunwoody is this Sunday from 4:30-6pm.  If you have children under the age of 13 - Light Up is a must (and parents like it too)!  Sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners' Association, this year's event will begin with a parade at the DHA office (on the side of Dunwoody Village that faces Jiffy Lube) and conclude with a magnificent tree lighting at the Farmhouse.
I just got off the phone with organizer Renate Herod - who, by the way, is doing an amazing job - she says in between the parade and tree lighting, Santa will be on the Farmhouse porch from 5-6pm for photos (bring your camera as pictures are free), the Dunwoody Elementary School singers will perform, there will be a balloon sculpturer, and Jim Jarrell with lead residents in Christmas carols.
And if that's not enough:  SunTrust Bank is providing hot chocolate with Primrose School decorating cookies.
Renate tells me many of the area restaurants have donated gift cards that will be raffled off - for FREE!  For example, the New York Butcher Shop is giving away fillets, with free gift cards courtesy of, among others, Village Burger, Wright's Gourmet, Old Hickory House and Jason's Deli.
Hope to see you Sunday afternoon.

Mortgage Rates on the Rise

In the last couple of weeks, record-low mortgage rates are starting to creep up.  30-year fixed rates for folks with excellent credit were as low as 3.875, but have now risen to 4.375, which is still pretty darn good.  For more questions concerning home mortgages, contact Julie Devine at Brand Mortgage - she's one of the best in the business.  Julie's number is 770.639.4022.  Her email is

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Smaller School Board?

DeKalb School Board
The following story appears in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution. In my humble opinion, decreasing the size of the DeKalb County School Board would be fabulous!  The current nine-person board is simply too big.

By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County voters may get the chance to cut two of their school board seats next year to help save the troubled district’s accreditation.
On Monday, DeKalb legislators called for a November 2011 referendum to ask voters to decrease the school board from nine seats to five or seven.

“Smaller boards create better opportunities for the board to work together,” state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is about making a more effective school board to ensure we keep our schools’ accreditation.”
Click on
AJC to read the full story. 

Nothing Like College Football

I know there are some who feel football, in general, is a much too violent game.  I won't argue the point.  But I will tell you there is nothing like father and son bonding at a football game.
I took my son Jack to his first college football this game weekend for his 12th birthday.  We flew down to Houston, then made the 2-1/2 hour drive to Austin to watch my Alma mater, the University of Texas, take on Oklahoma St.  And while my beloved Longhorns suffered another humiliating loss (we're in the midst of our worst season in 54 years), we couldn't have had more fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dunwoody Celebrates Veterans Day

The City of Dunwoody will honor local military men and women in a Veterans Day ceremony held at Brook Run Park today at 3:00 p.m. The event honors all those who have served or are currently serving in all branches of the United States Military. 
The event will be hosted by Dunwoody Councilman and retired Marine, Gen. Denis Shortal. Several speakers have been invited to participate including retired Army Sgt. Maj. Ray Jones and veteran Army 1st Lt. Robert Hopkins. Special musical performances will be provided by Greg McLean, Associate Professor of Music and Michael McClary, Assistant Professor of Music from Georgia Perimeter College.
The event is open to the public.

My Father and two of his grandchildren
On this Veterans Day, I want to send out a big salute and hug to my dad, George Fiscella.  A resident of Houston, my father, now 84-years old, served in the Navy in World War II aboard the C-class carrier the USS Randolph, which earned three battle stars during the war.  He was a 135-pound, 18-year old when he enlisted just days after graduating from high school  He served aboard a ship that saw extensive combat duty off the coast of Japan.

Dad, your three children might not say it enough, but we're proud of you!  See you on Friday. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Vote is In!

My poll asking what you thought of the City of Dunwoody's new brand expired this afternoon.  I have no idea who cast votes (and who knows, some folks might have voted twice, although the system disallows that from one computer), but the total was as follows:

Love it:       3      (2 percent)
Like it:       19   (15 percent)
Dislike it:   46   (36 percent)
Hate it        58   (46 percent)

Like I said, this was a very unscientific poll so the results do not represent a cross-section of Dunwoody residents.  However, when 82 percent say they either dislike it (that's how I voted) or hate it, it says something.  And judging from what I've read on other blogs (Dunwoody Talk) and in Dunwoody newspapers, my poll is not an anomaly. 
Will the city change the branding anytime soon (other than changing "Smart place" to "Smart city" once it realized Plano, Texas had already adopted that slogan)?  I doubt it - too much money was spent on it (I'm still wondering exactly what "research" Sky Design did).  However, perhaps it will change over time.  I don't really mind the Walmart-like *asterisk, but I agree with those that the said the branding makes Dunwoody seem pompous and presumptuous.  To borrow a phrase from a thousand different coaches, "act like you've been there before."  This branding doesn't.
While I don't believe the city will change the branding anytime soon, I do love what the Comp Plan Steering Committee came up with, "Small town feel - Big city appeal."  To me, this phrase better defines what Dunwoody is - who we are.  It does a much better job of capturing the essence of our community.  And it is not braggadocio. 
Perhaps city officials are listening, and will fall on their swords.

Chamblee Charrette

I was unable to attend the DeKalb County School System charrette that was held last night in the Bulldogs gymnasium.  Fortunately, DeKalb School Watch was there.  Click on the link for a recap.