DeKalb County

9:00 am
Fri July 3, 2015

DeKalb County Reduces Garbage Pickup To Once A Week

Dekalb County's Sanitation department will be distributing 65-gallon green garbage cans and blue recycling bins. Residents can upgrade for a $15 fee.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Starting Monday, DeKalb County will pick up residential garbage, recycling and yard trimmings only once a week. 

The county says getting rid of twice a week service will save up to $6 million a year and prevent the need for a rate hike for customers. 

South DeKalb resident Cheryl Cherry-Hill said her personal garbage bins fill up twice a week, but she's also unhappy about the change for other reasons.

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7:45 pm
Mon June 22, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Keeps Composure In Cross-Examination

Facing tough questioning from the district attorney, suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis defended his honesty on the witness stand Monday during his corruption retrial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

State attorneys got their chance Monday to question suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis in his corruption retrial, with prosecutors trying routinely to catch Ellis in a lie.

But the suspended CEO remained composed and confident as he justified his actions to the jury and rebuffed District Attorney Robert James’ tough, rapid questioning. Ellis maintained his honesty throughout, only going so far to say he once may have “misspoken.”

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Ellis Retrial
2:38 pm
Fri June 19, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Continues Testimony In Corruption Trial

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis again took the stand Friday in county superior court to continue testimony in his corruption retrial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, who’s accused of strong-arming county vendors for political donations, took the stand in his corruption retrial once again Friday morning to continue telling his side of the story.

Almost sentence by sentence, Ellis’s attorney walked the suspended CEO through some of the secretly recorded conversations that make up the bulk of the state’s case against him. As he did in his first trial, Ellis stressed any issue he had with vendors was about responsiveness and respect for the CEO’s office, not about campaign donations.

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Ellis Retrial
3:26 pm
Thu June 18, 2015

Suspended DeKalb CEO Presents His Story On Witness Stand

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis took the stand Thursday in county superior court to testify in his own defense. Ellis faces nine felony charges over allegations he tried to pressure county vendors of political donations.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  Just as he did in his first corruption trial, suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis today took the stand in his retrial to refute charges he strong-armed county vendors for campaign donations.

On the stand, Ellis began painting a very different picture of his interactions with four county vendors who testified against him earlier in the trial.

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A Closer Look
3:51 pm
Tue June 16, 2015

Sandy Springs Mayor Offers Up Template For Incorporation

Fireworks light up the sky over the King and Queen Buildings in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
Credit City of Sandy Springs

Residents in DeKalb County will decide on two cityhood measures this year.

If the votes pass, LaVista Hills and Tucker will become the latest new cities in metro Atlanta over the past decade.

There’s already been seven new cities voted into existence over the past 10 years. That includes the city of Sandy Springs.

The city, located just north of Atlanta, is now the sixth largest city in Georgia and home to the new headquarters of luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz USA.

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Burrell Ellis Retrial
3:58 pm
Thu June 11, 2015

Witness: Ellis 'Like A Bully On The Playground'

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis sits silently during the third day of witness testimony Thursday in county superior court.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Like a playground bully who says, “Bring me your lunch money, or else.”

That’s how one of the state’s witnesses described his dealings with suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis Thursday, the third day of testimony in the elected county head’s corruption retrial.

Greg Shealey and his wife, Trina Shealey, were called into a meeting with Ellis back in October 2012 about issues with their company’s responsiveness. The couple own National Property Institutes, which had a $1 million contract with DeKalb County to buy and fix foreclosed homes.

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12:38 pm
Fri June 5, 2015

Jury Seated In Retrial Of Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis

Attorneys seated a jury Friday in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis. The jury is split evenly between men and women.
Credit Kent D. Johnson, Pool

A jury has been seated in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, who’s accused of using his office to shake down county contractors for campaign donations.

Attorneys selected six men and six women to sit on the jury. Seven of them are African-American, while the remaining five are white. Four alternates were also chosen, all of whom are women.

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Burrell Ellis
6:00 am
Fri June 5, 2015

Attorneys Expect To Seat Jury For Ellis Retrial In DeKalb

Attorneys expect to seat a jury by Friday in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, right.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Friday is expected to be the final day of jury selection in the retrial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

After a week of culling through potential jurors, attorneys have narrowed the field down from about 200 to a few dozen. They’ll likely get that number down to the 12 jurors plus alternates needed for the trial to begin.

In his second trial, Ellis faces nine felony charges over allegations he was running a pay-to-play scheme with DeKalb County contractors, asking them to submit donations to his 2012 re-election campaign in exchange for business.

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3:45 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Jury Selection Underway In Retrial Of DeKalb CEO Ellis

Jury selection got underway today in DeKalb County Superior Court for the retrial of suspended CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jury selection began today in DeKalb County Superior Court for the retrial of suspended county CEO Burrell Ellis.

Around 40 of the 200 or so potential jurors stood for questioning by the judge, prosecution and defense attorneys. Those who’d been called were asked whether they had prior knowledge of the case or had followed any coverage of Ellis’ first trial last fall.

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6:00 am
Mon June 1, 2015

Second Burrell Ellis Trial Starts In DeKalb County

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis' second trial starts Monday in DeKalb County Superior Court. Last year his first trial ended in a mistrial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis’ second trial starts Monday in DeKalb County Superior Court.

Ellis is accused of shaking down county contractors for donations to his 2012 re-election campaign. In his first trial last fall, he faced 13 felony counts of extortion, bribery, perjury and using county employees for campaign work.

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7:12 am
Thu May 28, 2015

DeKalb Residents Ready To Fight For New Cities

The proposed city of Greenhaven would include about 300,000 people.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE

Editor's note: Read part one and part two of this series. 

Voters will decide this year on creating two new cities in DeKalb County. If passed, LaVista Hills and Tucker would be the eighth and ninth cities formed in metro Atlanta over the past decade. 

Supporters say incorporation is a better use of tax dollars, but not all in the county agree.

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6:00 am
Wed May 27, 2015

DeKalb County Corruption Leads To New, Majority-White Cities

One place where the idea of city creation is at the forefront is DeKalb County. There are currently four different cityhood movements in the works.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Editor's note: Read part one and part three of this series.   

Cityhood is a term you may have heard recently but didn’t really know what it meant.

It’s a quick way to explain the process of unincorporated parts of counties creating proposals to become their own cities. In the past decade there have been nine of these in metro Atlanta.

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A Closer Look
4:37 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May Pressured Into Resigning Seat

Lee May, left, has been interim CEO of DeKalb County for almost two years, leaving his constituents without representation on the DeKalb County Commission. May resigned his seat Friday.
Credit Lisa George / WABE

The tangled and bitter battle over Interim CEO Lee May’s District 5 seat on the DeKalb County Commission may be nearing an end.

May announced the resignation of his commission seat in a press conference on Friday morning, after telling WABE in March he had no plans to give up his seat.

May said he changed his mind after complaints from some of the constituents in his district about the lack of representation for such a long time.

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A Closer Look
7:00 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Decaying Atlanta Prison Farm Could Be Possible Regional Park

The old Atlanta Prison Farm dormitories are now covered in graffiti.
Credit Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

Right near the federal penitentiary on the south side of town, there’s a plot of land known as the old Atlanta Prison Farm. It’s owned by the city, but is outside the city limits in DeKalb County. That’s one reason the land is overgrown and the buildings have decayed, but a group called "Save the old Atlanta Prison Farm" hopes to turn the area into a park that could be one of the biggest in the region.  

Frances Blackmon lives one house down in this quiet neighborhood. She said that, in the two decades or so she’s lived here, she’s never set foot on the property.

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A Closer Look
3:06 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Clarkston, Ga., Is Small In Stature But Big On Diversity

Clarkston City Hall in DeKalb County is known for its diverse population. It was a refugee resettlement town in the 1990s. By 2000 half of its residents came from outside the U.S.
Credit Courtesy of the city of Clarkston

Though the size of Clarkston, Georgia, is just a little over a mile, the city boasts one of the most diverse communities in metro Atlanta.

During the 1990s, refugee asylum programs identified the small DeKalb County city as an ideal place to resettle the new immigrants in the United States.

Since then Clarkston has become known for its diversity – residents from more than 50 nations now call the tiny enclave home.

The town's diversity is something the city is proud of, according to Mayor Ted Terry.

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9:23 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Emory University Reuses Sewage Water To Heat, Cool Campus

Inside Emory University's WaterHub, water is treated in tanks with suspended plant roots with microbes attached to the bottom of the roots.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Emory University is taking raw sewage water from DeKalb County to heat and cool its campus. It’s the first university in the country to recycle water this way with a system called the WaterHub.

Emory’s WaterHub looks like a fancy greenhouse with a solar panel installation on the side, but there’s a lot more to it.

Matthew Early, vice president of campus services at Emory, has been working on it for more than three years.

“It takes wastewater, cleans it, and then we’re reusing it in our steam plant and chiller plants,” Early says.

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A Closer Look
6:00 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Two Atlanta Metro Cityhood Proposals Move Forward

Out of multiple cityhood proposals in the state legislature, only two got state legislative approval: Tucker and LaVista Hills. Residents will vote on incorporation of the cities in November.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Georgia’s legislative session ended last week, and WABE is taking a look at what happened under the Gold Dome.

This year, a number of cityhood proposals were being floated in the legislature. While a few proposals were passed, others stalled in committees and failed to go to the public vote.

LaVista Hills and Tucker

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12:46 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Voters To Decide On Cities of Tucker, LaVista Hills

The proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills made it through the state legislature after a last-minute compromise to the cities’ borders.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Voters could get a chance to create two new cities in DeKalb County later this year, after the Georgia General Assembly approved two proposals Thursday night. The proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills made it through the state legislature after a last-minute compromise to the cities’ borders.

If the governor signs the bills, voters will decide on the cities in a November referendum.

Throughout the state legislative session, there were a total of five cityhood proposals in DeKalb County, including Stonecrest, Greenhaven and, then later, Winship.

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3:28 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Former DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer Sentenced To 14 Months In Prison

Former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer was sentenced to 14 months in prison this afternoon on federal corruption charges. She pleaded guilty to stealing more than $90,000 from the county.

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5:06 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

DeKalb Commissioner Says She Welcomes Investigation

Former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers said a request for an investigation of the executive branch is ''unprecedented.'' He and his legal team will be paid $400 per hour for its work.
Credit Lisa George / WABE

DeKalb’s Interim CEO has called for a full investigation of possible corruption in the executive branch of the county government.

But what about the legislative branch – the DeKalb County Commission?

Interim CEO Lee May says he wants to restore the public’s trust in DeKalb County, but he can’t ask for an investigation of the County Commission.

Commissioner Nancy Jester says she wants to help and welcomes a probe and an audit of the commission. 

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3:01 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

City Of Winship Latest Proposal In DeKalb County

A separate proposal would annex the Druid Hills neighborhood into Atlanta, including Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Rep. Michele Henson, D-Stone Mountain, said the city of Winship proposal "is to show there are additional opportunities for DeKalb County."
Credit Daniel Mayer / Wikimedia Commons

Two state lawmakers have introduced a bill to create yet another city within DeKalb County. That puts the total to at least five cityhood movements trying to carve themselves out of the county. 

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Former Ga. Attorney General Tapped
5:28 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

DeKalb Appoints Investigator To Probe Possible Corruption

DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May and newly-appointed special investigator Michael Bowers are pictured here.
Credit Lisa George / WABE

DeKalb County’s interim CEO has appointed a special investigator to look into possible corruption in his administration.

Interim CEO Lee May wants a full investigation into the executive branch of DeKalb County government, saying as he made the announcement Wednesday, “Public cynicism continues to grow as the stench of corruption and distrust permeates our air.”

May is appointing former state Attorney General Mike Bowers to investigate county operations.

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1:01 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Protests Over Police Shooting Stop Traffic In Decatur

Decatur Deputy Chief Keith Lee asks activist Nelini Stamp to move off the street.
Credit Lisa Hagen / WABE

Protesters upset over the fatal police shooting of Anthony Hill marched in the streets of Decatur last night.

Hill was killed Monday by a DeKalb County Police officer responding to a call saying he was wandering naked near his home.

While waiting for the march to start, Marcus Coleman reminded his son to stop fidgeting with the bull horn they brought.

“Unfortunately, at 9 years old, he’s been to too many of these,” Coleman said. 

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5:44 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Few DeKalb Police Trained In Crisis Intervention

Fewer than 10 percent of DeKalb County Police get specialized training on how to deal with the mentally ill.
Credit Mikel Manitius /

Fewer than 10 percent of DeKalb County police officers get specialized training on how to deal with the mentally ill.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating why Anthony Hill, 27, was shot Monday while wandering naked near his home. On his Twitter feed, Hill often referred to being bipolar.

DeKalb County police officers get six hours of basic academy training on dealing with the mentally ill, said DeKalb County Captain Steven Fore.

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A Closer Look
4:57 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May Talks Cityhood, MARTA, His Vacant District Seat

Lee May in the Closer Look studios
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

To say DeKalb County is in the midst of a hectic time would be an understatement.  

A few short hours before Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May walked into the "A Closer Look" studios the Georgia House of Representatives approved HB 520, which would create the City of LaVista Hills.  

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6:36 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Deadline Looms For DeKalb Cityhood Proposals In State Legislature

The deadline nears for cityhood proposals to be introduced in the state legislature for bills to succeed this year.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE

The clock is ticking for new cityhood proposals to make it through the state legislature, but as of Friday, no lawmaker has introduced a bill for any of the DeKalb County city proposals.

In order for cityhood to happen, they’ll need state legislative approval first.

Allen Venet, co-chair of LaVista Hills YES, said he’s cautiously optimistic that his state representatives will sponsor a bill.

“We are hopeful that members of the legislature will agree that the people in our area have the right to vote on cityhood,” Venet said.

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4:06 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Cold Snap Turns Fire Stations Into Warming Centers

Peggy Ann Schnitzius, 77, looks inside a garbage bin while braving the cold weather in front of a frozen fountain in 2010 in downtown Atlanta. Dekalb County and the city of Atlanta are preparing for the winter weather this week by using recreation centers and some fire stations as warming centers and overnight shelters.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

DeKalb County says all of its libraries and recreational centers are operating as warming centers during this cold snap. It’s also using four fire stations as overnight shelters. They are Fire Station No. 6, 8, 21 and 25.

Captain Sell Caldwell at Fire Station No. 8 on Clairmont Road says no one has come by yet, but he expects visitors on Wednesday night when temperatures will drop to 13 degrees.

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5:06 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

DeKalb School District Must Return $2 Million To State

About 80 percent of schools - 102 - are designated Title I schools in DeKalb County. Title I schools receive federal funding in addition to local government funding.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

DeKalb County Schools have to pay back more than $2 million to the state because the district didn’t equally distribute money among the schools.

From the perspective of the DeKalb County School District, the letter from the Georgia Department of Education wasn’t too shocking. 

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A Closer Look
7:25 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

DeKalb Police Chief Cedric Alexander Discusses Lessons Learned From Ferguson

DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander in his office at headquarters in Tucker, Georgia.
Credit Denis O'Hayer / WABE

DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander has a Ph.D. in psychology, and he is leader of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).  

President Barack Obama recently tapped Alexander to serve on the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing, part of the administration's efforts to "strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve."

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5:03 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

DeKalb CEO Wants To Move Government Center Out Of Decatur

DeKalb CEO Lee May announces a proposal to move the DeKalb Government Center out of Decatur during his Thursday State of the County address.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

DeKalb County’s Government Center could move from downtown Decatur to Memorial Drive. DeKalb CEO Lee May announced the relocation proposal today during his state of the county address.

CEO May says the move is needed because it would spur redevelopment along the Memorial Drive corridor. He believes that’s essential for DeKalb’s future.

“This vision is about giving attention to a part of the county that has been neglected for decades.”

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