East Cobb resident Karen Wyman shares this news that her twin daughters, Kate and Kenzie—students at Mabry Middle School—have been chosen as co-captains by the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream as “Nike Game Growers.”
It’s a promotion the league has undertaken with Nike to help encourage girls to play sports.
Here’s more information from the Dream about the program and what Kate and Kenzie have been doing; the photos are from their mother:
The Dream renewed their partnership with Nike, the WNBA and the NBA for the second consecutive year, offering an exclusive opportunity for 7th and 8th Grade girls aged 13+ to share their ideas on how to encourage more girls to play sports.
Kate and Kenzie were surprised with a video from their favorite player on the Dream roster, forward Cheyenne Parker, who told them that they had been selected as the Dream’s Game Growers co-captains for 2021.
The twins’ game plan is to create a program called GEAR UP (Girls Everywhere Are Ready, Unleash their Potential) that they can then implement in elementary and middle schools in their area. The program brings current female high school and college athletes to schools to introduce their sport and share their love for the game in physical education classes.
Their program aims to keep their peers playing sports as they progress through middle school and enter high school. By the time girls reach 8th grade, they are 50% more likely to drop out of sports than boys, creating physical and social barriers that can last a lifetime.
The Dream’s pair will participate in a virtual camp with other WNBA and NBA teams’ co-captains February 19-21, building out their idea and learning how to bring it to life.
Last year, the Dream chose Dailey and Sierra, also from Marietta, who built the brand NESP Sportz (Never Ever Stop Playing Sportz) and created a social media presence that highlighted younger girls playing and learning new sports. Hear more about their project and their experience at Nike Headquarters here.
The Atlanta Israel Coalition is hosting Re-Discovering the Land of Israel, a series of five FREEvirtual tours beginning Sunday, March 28 at 10:00 am.
The Atlanta Israel Coalition, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeastern U.S., Herut, and the Evans Family Foundation, is presenting Re-Discovering the Land of Israel, a series of five FREE virtual tours of Israel beginning Sunday, March 28 at 10:00 am. These virtual tours, led by David Sussman Israel Tours, will be engaging for families, students, and individuals of all ages.
Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to connect to and learn more about Israel. You may register for all five tours or just pick specific tours. Register at https://bit.ly/TourIsrael-AIC. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Can’t attend on the specific dates? Register anyway and you’ll receive a recorded link of the tours.
Sunday, March 21st @ 10 am – The Biblical Heartland of Gush Etzion: This tour includes the Path of the Patriarchs, an ancient mikvah, biblical agriculture, Roman roads, and stunning landscapes
Sunday, April 25th @10 am – The Holy City of Hebron: Tour the tombs of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the ancient stairs and city gates where Abraham purchased the cave to bury Sarah, 1st & 2nd Temple period ruins, we will meet a soldier, and discover the modern development of Hebron
Sunday, May 23rd @10 am – The Artist Colony of Tzfat: Let’s walk the winding ally ways of this mystical city together as we tour the city of Kabbalah. We will visit important synagogues, meet local artists, learn about Jewish mysticism from a leading Rabbi, and delve into its history both ancient and modern.
Sunday, June 6th @10 am – The Old and the New in Tel Aviv/Jaffa: Described as the city that never sleeps, Tel Aviv is Israel’s financial capital. Let’s discover its roots, beaches, diversity, and the place where Israel’s independence was discovered.
Sunday, June 27th @10 am – The Golan Heights; One of Israel’s most scenic areas. It boasts extinct volcanoes, Israel’s largest mountain, sits along the border of Israel, and has a rich Jewish history. This episode will feature Major Ya’akov Selevan who will discuss with us the political climate of the Golan Heights.
Get Our Free E-Mail Newsletter!
Every Sunday we round up the week’s top headlines and preview the upcoming week in the East Cobb News Digest. Click here to sign up, and you’re good to go!
With the Small Business Administration announcing enhancements to the Payment Protection Program, the Cobb Chamber is hosting its 19th business recovery webinar on Tuesday, March 2 at 3 p.m. “PPP Changes & Tax Credit Opportunities for Small Businesses” features local experts weighing in on the changes to the Payroll Protection Program, tax credit opportunities and other upcoming deadlines to help small business owners and professionals through the impacts of the pandemic. This webinar is free to attend. Attendees will be able to ask questions through the webinar chat function.
Speakers for the business recovery webinar will include the following:
Carl Garner, Mauldin & Jenkins CPAs & Advisors Partner
John Garner, OneDigital Benefits Consultant
Darin Mitchell, Chase Bank Executive Director for Middle Market & Commercial Banking
Drew Tonsmeire, Georgia Small Business Development Center Area Director
Sharon Mason, Cobb Chamber President & CEO John Loud, 2021 Cobb Chamber Board of Directors Chairman
To register for this virtual event, visit cobbchamber.org/events. There is no cost, and Chamber members and non-members are welcome to attend on a first, come first served basis up to 500 attendees.
For more information about the PPP Changes & Tax Credit Opportunities for Small Businesses webinar, contact Monica Gonzalez at [email protected].
Comcast RISE Investment Fund seeks BIPOC business applicants
The Comcast RISE Investment Fund will soon accept applications for grants being provided to hundreds of Black, Indigenous and People of Color-owned small businesses in five cities nationwide — including $1 million in metro Atlanta. Beginning March 1 through March 14, eligible businesses in Atlanta can apply for a $10,000 grant at comcastrise.com. A total of 100 grants in Atlanta, or 500 grants overall, will be awarded in May. The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE, a multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched in October that initially focused on black-owned, small businesses and then extended to BIPOC-owned to help those hardest hit by COVID-19. The Comcast RISE Investment Fund is focused on small business owners who have been in business for three or more years with one-25 employees. Businesses must be located in the City of Atlanta or the five surrounding metro counties (Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett) to be eligible.
The Sprayberry Crossing case is still scheduled for Tuesday, according to the meeting agenda, but the developer has asked for another continuance until April.
That’s according to the Sprayberry Crossing Action, a citizens group on Facebook that has been pushing for the blighted shopping center to be redeveloped for years, as well as a group opposed to the project.
Atlantic Realty, an apartment developer, made the request for a continuance on Thursday, a day after the deadline for getting an automatic delay.
When that happens, the planning commission must vote whether to grant a continuance or not.
If the planning commission denies a continuance, the Sprayberry Crossing case would be the first item to be heard following the consent agenda.
Those against the project are strongly opposed to apartments coming to an area dominated by single-family subdivisions.
Atlantic Residential has reduced the number of apartments and townhomes in the project, which includes a grocery store, other small retail and event space.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday and can be seen on the county’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels, as well as Channel 23 on Comcast Cable.
Limited in-person attendance is available in the meeting room, the 2nd floor board room of the Cobb government building, 100 Cherokee St., in downtown Marietta.
Residents in two older neighborhoods along the Powers Ferry Road corridor have been organizing for several months to fight mixed-use proposals filed with the City of Marietta.
After several delays, both of those cases are scheduled to go before the Marietta Planning Commission Tuesday night (you can view the agenda here).
Both proposals are on either side of the South Marietta Parkway, on land that’s in the city of Marietta, and both projects would be developed by Macauley Investments, an Atlanta firm that specializes in mixed-use projects.
The Nexus Gardens project we’ve written about before would have apartments, senior living and restaurants on nearly 17 acres, mostly undeveloped and facing Interstate 75. Some of those parcels include 19 single-family homes, as seen above on Meadowbrook Drive, and all of the land is owned by Ruben McMullan, an East Cobb resident, or his related entities.
Sole access to Nexus Gardens would be via Meadowbrook Drive, which is in unincorporated Cobb. That’s one of the major objections, in addition to the density of the project, which calls for two five-story apartment buildings totalling 280 units served by a three-story parking deck, a five-story senior-living building with 160 units, 39 townhomes and restaurants and retail space.
A group called Save Marietta has been created to oppose the project, and includes residents of the Meadowbrook neighborhood that’s partly in the city and also in the county.
McMullan’s real estate interests also include an assemblage of 22 parcels on 30 acres, mostly undeveloped but some with single-family homes, also off Powers Ferry and across the Loop.
That’s being proposed by Nexus Marietta for a 204-unit townhome development called Laurel Park.
Like the Nexus Gardens project, this one also has singular access via a residential street on Crestridge Drive, in the Cloverdale Heights neighborhood.
School nurses, police officers and school staff 65 and older already have been able to get vaccinated through other providers.
Starting March 8, school employees can book an appointment for a vaccine at any public health agency in the state. But they’ll have to vie with others already on the eligible list for those vaccines, including people over 65, health care workers and first responders.
Cobb and Douglas Public Health has not been booking new appointments for the last three weeks due a shortage of vaccine supplies, and has said it may not get an increase until March or April.
The Cobb school district’s message to staff indicated that “as soon as vaccine supply is in hand, we will quickly schedule our mass vaccination drive-through events for Cobb educators. Specific dates, times, and locations will be made available once vaccine supply is in hand. At this time, only full-time and part-time school staff are eligible.”
Those appointments will be booked online and eligible individuals will be required to have an appointment to get a vaccine. The district said the vaccines are not mandatory.
Timber Ridge Elementary School teacher Laurie Weiner, who is older than 65, has received both doses of the vaccine. In the district’s release, she said that “I am appreciative of the seamless sign-up and procedures taken through the process. . . . Timber Ridge has implemented suggested guidelines as well. I feel more secure teaching my students since I have received both vaccinations.”
COVID-19 case rates in the Cobb school district continued their fall this week after staff and students returned from winter break.
The district announced in its weekly update on Friday that there were 229 new confirmed cases of the virus, the lowest weekly figure since before the Thanksgiving holidays.
Kell High School in East Cobb was the only school in the 112-campus district to report double-figures in new cases, with 11 this week. There were nine new cases at Pope High School.
Since the district began compiling figures last July 1, there have been 3,960 cases reported. The district recently began indicating cumulative cases per school, and Walton High School and North Cobb High School have the most, at 102 cases each.
There have been 94 cases at Lassiter High School, 9 each at Pope and Kennesaw Mountain High School.
Cobb District Attorney Flynn D. Broady Jr.announces the Family Justice Center “Listening Tour” kickoff, hosted by Cobb’s FJC Site Coordinator TaNesha McAuley, and Jenny Aszman of Georgia’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
The Listening Tour will begin March 1 with the FJC’s Core Partners and service providers.
“The listening sessions will give us the opportunity to meet each of our Core Partners in small-group sessions to hear why they believe a Family Justice Center in Cobb County would be ideal and to gain perspective into how we can ensure that all of our ideas come together to best serve the needs of individuals who have been harmed by domestic or family violence or other types of interpersonal violence,” McAuley said.
Cobb was one of three counties in Georgia awarded a grant last fall through the Victims of Crime Act to implement this model, which has proven to reduce domestic violence, sexual assaults, child and elder abuse, and human trafficking. The four-year grant, worth up to $400,000, is administered through Georgia’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
The Family Justice Center initiative is one of the most inclusive and evidence-based models that brings all our partners together in one location to best meet the needs of victims and survivors of abuse.
The listening sessions will be held with Core Community Partners of the FJC, including Cobb’s Public Safety Department; the Cobb Solicitor General’s Office; liveSAFE Resources; SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center, Inc.; Kennesaw State University’s WellStar College of Health and Human Services, and others.
The Listening Tour will expand into our Cobb communities as we invite residents to be part of the planning, development, and implementation of Cobb’s FJC. Earlier this year, dozens of community members responded to the readiness assessment, providing input to tailor the FJC to meet Cobb’s specific needs. Also, a recording of the December 2020 kick-off meeting is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koyu5s3P090.
“Johnny was a great Kiwanian and leaves a legacy of passion and service that is rare but sets a high standard which we should all strive to emulate.”
For more than 40 years, Johnson was the owner of Edward-Johns Jewelers, located at Woodlawn Square Shopping Center on Johnson Ferry Road for many years until moving to the nearby Regency Park office building in 2018.
He served on the Cobb school board from 1997-2008, one of many public roles he took on after settling in the East Cobb area in the 1970s.
He was a leader of the East Cobb Area Council of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, which names a citizen of the year each fall. After being named an East Cobb Citizen of the Year, Johnson had the honor of presenting future recipients with the same award.
Johnson also dressed up as Santa Claus for the Holiday Lights celebration at East Cobb Park, riding in on a sleigh and visiting with children.
Each December he would dress up as Santa at his Edward-Johns store and pose for free pictures with children.
Johnson was an active member of the Golden K Kiwanis, as well as Kiwanis International and its board of trustees, and was a past president of the Cobb County YMCA.
Get Our Free E-Mail Newsletter!
Every Sunday we round up the week’s top headlines and preview the upcoming week in the East Cobb News Digest. Click here to sign up, and you’re good to go!
Cobb County has filed a motion to enjoin the Tokyo Valentino adult retail store in East Cobb from doing business while local and federal court cases continue.
On Feb. 4, Scott Bergthold, a Chattanooga attorney hired by Cobb County to handle the Tokyo Valentino matter, filed a motion for an interlocutory injunction, seeking to close the store on three grounds.
The county says Tokyo Valentino is currently open without a general business license and without a sexually oriented business license, and is operating an adult business “in a zone where it is not allowed.”
Bergthold said in his motion that Tokyo Valentino has not applied for a general business license or a sexually oriented business license for 2021, and the current General Commercial category zoning where the store is located does not include and adult business.
During a contentious due-cause hearing, the county argued that the Tokyo Valentino store, which opened in June, was issued a business license in March under false pretenses.
The company that applied for the license, 1290 Clothing Co., LLC, indicated on its application that it would be for a general retail store at 1290 Johnson Ferry Road, in the former Mattress Firm location.
But the county argued that after the store opened as Tokyo Valentino, a vast majority of the inventory consisted of lotions and lubes, sex toys and smoke products not included on the application.
Only 14 percent of the merchandise, mostly adult lingerie, was clothing, according to evidence presented at the due-cause hearing.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to revoke the business license, and Tokyo Valentino’s lawsuit includes each of them, including former chairman Mike Boyce and retired commissioner Bob Ott of East Cobb, among the defendants.
Cobb County Attorney Bill Rowling told East Cobb News through county spokesman Ross Cavitt this week that “the filing speaks for itself,” and declined further comment.
Cavitt said a hearing for the injunction motion has not been scheduled (you can read it here), and it wasn’t clear when that might take place given COVID-19 restrictions that have delayed court proceedings.
“They have filed in federal court, we have filed in Cobb Superior Court where we believe the case belongs, so there will eventually be a determination where the venue should reside,” Cavitt said.
In a dismissal motion filed in Cobb Superior Court Feb. 1, Tokyo Valentino attorney Cary Wiggins said Cobb County “is rather transparently attempting to prevent Tokyo from litigating a pending case in Tokyo’s chosen forum, i.e., federal court.
“And because the County is attempting to punish Tokyo’s exercise of constitutional rights of petition and free speech by tying up its resources and driving up the costs of litigation,” the Cobb court also should “strike the complaint.”
When contacted by East Cobb Newsfor comment this week, Wiggins said in reference to the East Cobb Tokyo Valentino location that “the store is a high-end, couples boutique. It’s a well-run operation, and a good corporate citizen. My client is disappointed that the county is spending a great deal of money trying to shut it down.”
In that Feb. 4 motion, Bergthold asked for an injunction “because Tokyo’s illegal activity is systemic, continual and contrary to governing law.
“Denying injunctive relief,” the motion states, “would appear to ratify Tokyo’s unlawful business practices and embolden them to operate in violation of the law.”
In late May, East Cobb Newsfirst reported that a business named 1290 Clothing Co. had received a business license amid concerns that it would become a sex shop instead.
The store didn’t need rezoning as a clothing retail business to open in the general commercial (GC) category under the Cobb County Code.
The Cobb County legal dispute is the latest for Tokyo Valentino founder Michael Morrison, who has taken several metro Atlanta jurisdictions to court over his adult retail businesses.
Bergthold, who has been hired by local governments across the country in seeking to restrict adult businesses, also was retained by the county as it overhauled Cobb’s adult business code last fall.
He has served as the attorney for the cities of Atlanta, Brookhaven and Doraville in their attempts to shut down Morrison’s stores.
He said choosing the location across the street from Merchants Walk and Whole Foods was intentional: “‘We like to be by organic grocery stores,’ he says. That means the shoppers in the area have ‘expendable income’ and are ‘liberal and more educated.'”
But there was plenty of community opposition voiced against Tokyo Valentino by East Cobb residents, who said the store’s proximity to Mt. Bethel Elementary School and Johnson Ferry Baptist Church is inappropriate.
East Cobb resident Daniel White, who started an online petition last summer against Tokyo Valentino, e-mailed East Cobb News on Feb. 4, when the county’s latest motion was filed.
He said he had not received a response from Ott’s successor, newly elected commissioner Jerica Richardson, and urged other residents to contact her as the case goes through the courts.
“While the order has been to shut this location down, of course the owner has appealed. It is the same strategy used in other counties and with their other locations,” White said. “Legal troubles are not uncommon for this owner. Nor are the legal stalling techniques. Maybe the community will bore of it. Maybe the news will stop covering it. Maybe the new commissioner will reprioritize it.”
All six of Morrison’s stores remain open, including his original store on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta. The city has been trying to limit activities there, including the rental of private suites.
Morrison, who opened that store as Inserection in 1998, filed a civil rights lawsuit against Atlanta in 2015, after he had rebranded his business under the Tokyo Valentino name.
A federal appeals court ruled in favor of the city in 2018. Tokyo Valentino’s federal lawsuit against Cobb is on similar grounds (you can read it here).
Among the chief claims of that suit is that Cobb revised the adult business code specifically to put Tokyo Valentino out of business.
The other Tokyo Valentino stores are retail-only, including the Johnson Ferry Road store, Morrison’s first business in unincorporated Cobb County.
The Marietta City Council voted to shut down a Tokyo Valentino store on Cobb Parkway last summer for 180 days, claiming the store inventory didn’t match what was on its business license application.
Tokyo Valentino also has filed a federal lawsuit against Marietta on First Amendment grounds.
In the Reason interview, Morrison discussed his ongoing legal issues with metro Atlanta jurisdictions, including Brookhaven, which has tried to close his Stardust adult store for several years, claiming he’s lied about the intent of his business there.
“We’ll get this thing rectified,” Morrison told the magazine. “At the end of the day, [Brookhaven] will have spent a million dollars to fight something where ultimately they lost.”
The Cobb County School District said Wednesday that its emergency alert system that was set off on Feb. 2, prompting a brief Code Red lockdown at all schools, was not a false alarm but a deliberate cyber attack.
The district said in a news release that what’s being investigated as a cyber crime by the Cobb Police Department is continuing.
Spokeswoman Nan Kiel said in the release that the district can’t reveal more details, but “we have been given permission to share the Technology Based Crimes Unit’s conclusion that the false alarm signal occurred through a targeted, external attack of CCSD’s AlertPoint system.”
AlertPoint is an emergency alert system which allows each employee within a school—including administrators, teachers and other staffers—to activate a device should an emergency occur. This includes fires, active shooters and other intruders, physical altercations and medical emergencies.
When an AlertPoint device is activated, alert information is relayed via computer and mobile devices to school-level administrators and security personnel, as well as at the school district office, within seconds.
The location and identity of the person sending the alert also is transmitted. When a “Code Red” alert is triggered, flashing lights, beeping sounds and voice messages ring out, and the intercom system indicates a lockdown situation is underway.
The AlertPoint system is patterned after existing school fire emergency procedures.
On Wednesday, however, the district said it immediately asked for police assistance in investigating the matter as a possible cyber attack.
“Fairly quickly, it appeared that the false alarm signal (1) was intentionally triggered rather than a malfunction, and (2) was uniquely limited to the AlertPoint system in CCSD,” according to the statement, which said the district then contacted police,
“We do not yet know the motives of those attacking the District’s AlertPoint system,” Wednesday’s district statement said, which did not indicate possible suspects.
“However, it appears the crime was committed to disrupt education across the District, create district-wide chaos, and produce anxiety in the District’s students, parents, and staff. This was not a ‘prank,’ nor will it be treated like one.”
Kiel said that anyone with information related to the cyber attack is asked to contact the Cobb County Police Department’s Tip Line at 770-499-4111 or the CCSD Police Department’s Tip Line at 470-689-0298.