DeKalb County

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

DeKalb Police Chief Cedric Anderson 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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4:50 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

65 Too Slow? Try 70 Miles Per Hour: GDOT Increases Speed Limits In Metro Atlanta

Last year, state lawmakers set the maximum highway speed limit in urban areas to 70 miles per hour.
Credit VA Department of Transportation /

Speed limits are increasing on sections of some major roads and interstates in metro Atlanta.

Last year, state lawmakers set the maximum highway speed limit in urban areas to 70 miles per hour.

So the Georgia Department of Transportation spent months studying where it could safely increase the speed limits. 

“We’re really just bringing these speed limits in harmony with what motorists are doing and so we’re really helping them out in the long run," says GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale. "Hopefully less speeding tickets for them.”

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3:10 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

MARTA Is Making A Comeback, With Or Without Funding

MARTA is the ninth largest transit agency in the country.
Credit Allison Guillory / WABE

MARTA is no longer a four-letter word in metro Atlanta.

For years, MARTA has been the battered and neglected transportation stepchild in Georgia. But today, it's on the rebound.

The ninth largest transit agency in the country operating in the black. Its ridership is up. Its trains are running more often. It's even improving its bus service ─ cut during the Great Recession and tight budget years.

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9:28 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Inmates Released After Supreme Court Rules Tolling Is Illegal

The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled last year that private probation companies can no longer extend sentences simply because a probationer doesn’t pay the required fees.
Credit Nick NeSmith / WABE

In Georgia, at least 38 inmates were released from jail and thousands of warrants were dismissed last month.      

That’s because the Supreme Court of Georgia decision said judges can no longer allow private probation companies to put sentences on hold when probationers fail to respond or pay the required fees.

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DeKalb Cityhood
9:50 am
Fri December 19, 2014

House Subcommittee Splits Northlake Mall Area Between LaVista Hills And Tucker

The proposed cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker will have to split the commercial area surrounding Northlake Mall under a map approved today by a Georgia House Subcommittee.

Georgia lawmakers have drawn a new map that potentially puts close to 100,000 DeKalb County residents into two new cities.

The map also splits one of the biggest areas of contention right down the middle: it gives part of the Northlake Mall commercial area to the LaVista Hills and part to Tucker.

  A house subcommittee approved the map 3-1 with Atlanta Democrat Howard Mosby dissenting.

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DeKalb Cityhood
8:13 am
Thu December 18, 2014

DeKalb Superintendent Wants To Be Ready For Schools Annexation Legal Battle

Together in Atlanta wants to annex Druid Hills High School and two other schools into the Atlanta Public Schools system if the Druid Hills neighborhood ends up being annexed into the city.
Credit Titaniumjjp / Wikipedia

DeKalb County’s schools superintendent wants to set aside millions of dollars just in case the school system decides to fight a proposal to annex three DeKalb schools into the City of Atlanta.

An advocacy group called Together in Atlanta wants to annex Druid Hills High School, Fernbank Elementary School and Briar Vista Elementary School into the Atlanta Public Schools system if the Druid Hills neighborhood ends up being annexed into the city.

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5:03 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

DeKalb County One Step Closer To New Animal Shelter

Beulah is one of the puppies available for adoption with Dekalb County Animal Services.
Credit Dekalb County Animal Services

A new animal shelter in DeKalb County is one step closer to reality.

DeKalb County commissioners voted today to put out a request for design services. The Request for Proposal (RFP) calls for the construction cost of the new facility to be capped at $10 million and for design and architecture services to be capped at $800,000.

Five commissioners voted in favor of the measure.  District 3 Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton did not cast a vote nor did she officially abstain.

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DeKalb Cityhood
4:57 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

DeKalb Communities Try To Keep Up With Changing Cityhood/Annexation Plans

Druid Hills High School is on Haygood Drive just behind the Emory University campus.
Credit Titaniumjjp / Wikipedia

Two communities caught up in the DeKalb County battle for new cities are feeling the stress.

Druid Hills and Medlock Park may be very different neighborhoods, but the people who live in each are both feeling the pressure of annexation and new cityhood plans.

The latest wrinkle: a proposal to annex three DeKalb County schools, including Druid Hills High School, into the City of Atlanta along with the mainly affluent Druid Hills neighborhood.

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Police Shooting
1:25 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Two Officers Shot By Assault Rifle; Suspects Arrested

Dekalb County Police Officers Devon Perry and Tony Luong were shot in the leg Friday while responding to a report of an early morning home-robbery invasion. Perry has been released from the hospital and Luong is expected to recover.
Credit Courtesy of the Dekalb County Police Department / Dekalb County Police

Two officers were shot with an assault rifle this morning in Dekalb County, according to police. Two suspects are in custody.

Officers Tony Luong and Devon Perry were responding to a report of an early-morning break-in at the Colony Ridge Apartments. When they arrived, they were both shot in the leg with an assault rifle.

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Site Chosen 18 Months Ago
6:00 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Still No Vote On DeKalb Animal Shelter Design

Stanley is one of the dogs living at the Dekalb Animal Shelter
Credit Dekalb Animal Shelter

Eighteen months ago, the DeKalb County Commission approved a site for a new animal shelter. But the agreement appears to end there, and that is frustrating animal advocates.

No one disagrees DeKalb County needs a new animal shelter. The current facility is one of the oldest in the state. It’s too small and in bad condition.

Animal advocates walked away from Tuesday’s commission meeting disappointed that a vote on the architect and design proposal for the shelter had been deferred yet again.

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7:27 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Residents Near Emory Gain Momentum In Effort To Join City Of Atlanta

Under Together In Atlanta's annexation plan, Emory Village is one of the DeKalb areas that would become part of the city of Atlanta.
Credit Keizers via wikipedia

As part of an effort to gain more control over basic services like public safety and trash pick-up, several neighborhoods in DeKalb County want to incorporate.

Amid the debate over boundaries, a front-runner has emerged in the contest for which cityhood campaign will attract Emory University and the affluent area surrounding it.

Emory and its neighbors aren't currently part of any city - the area exists within unincorporated DeKalb County. But most locals identify with either the city of Atlanta to the west or Decatur to the south.  

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6:32 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Witness Credibility Issues Complicate DeKalb Corruption Cases

The prosecution's case against DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis relied heavily on Kelvin Walton, shown above.
Credit Kent Johnson/AJC

Two major DeKalb County corruption cases are in jeopardy. Part of the reason is the prosecution’s star witnesses have struggled with credibility issues.

It’s a constant dilemma for prosecutors – how much to rely on witnesses with questionable character.

DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is accused of shaking down county contractors for campaign donations. During the trial, DeKalb's former purchasing director Kelvin Walton was the state’s star witness. Walton cooperated with prosecutors only after being caught accepting gifts from contractors and lying under oath.

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8:19 am
Fri October 24, 2014

DeKalb Audit Shows Commissioners' Charity Spending, Spotty Record Keeping

DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton
Credit DeKalb County Government

DeKalb County has released an independent audit of County Commission spending for the last ten years.

The audit includes on use of county purchasing cards. The so-called “P-cards,” which function like debit cards, are used by elected officials and some staff members to pay for work-related expenses. The P-cards have been the focus of ethics complaints against several commissioners.  

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1:59 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

DeKalb County to Release Purchasing Card Audit Today

Former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer pleaded guilty to federal charges last month in connection with the use of her county purchasing card for personal expenses.

WABE has learned that DeKalb County officials will release the official audit of county commissioners’ purchasing cards later today.

The so-called “P-cards,” which function like a debit cards, let elected officials and some staff members pay for work-related expenses. The P-cards have been the focus of ethics complaints against several commissioners.  

The Commission called for the audit of all P-card purchases, dating back at least to 2010, for all commissioners, their staff members, and any employees of the Board of Commissioners’ central office.

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4:12 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Avondale Estates Getting Cold Shoulder From Some of its Annexation Targets

Avondale Estates was founded in 1924 and designed as a planned community.
Credit Lisa George/WABE News

The cityhood movement in DeKalb County – and the annexation efforts of existing cities in response to it – have two themes that keep coming up: securing strong tax bases and providing good schools.

Both issues are creating challenges for the small city of Avondale Estates.

With just 3,000 residents, Avondale Estates has long been a sleepy little enclave in DeKalb County. Now, a potential city is trying to form near its borders, and county seat Decatur is also trying to expand. So Avondale Estates wants to annex some land while there is still land to be had.

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Burrell Ellis Corruption Trial
3:29 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Judge Issues Allen Charge to Burrell Ellis Jurors: What Does That Mean?

DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis has been suspended since his indictment in June 2013.
Credit DeKalb County

The jury in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis is wrapping up its eleventh day of deliberations. Monday, the judge gave the jury what is known as an Allen charge.

  DeKalb Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson had already instructed the jury to keep deliberating twice when they said they couldn’t reach a verdict.

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7:21 am
Wed October 15, 2014

DeKalb Commission Frees Up Money for Ethics Board

Members of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics (shown here) have tabled complaints against former county staffers Kelvin Walton and Nina Hall. Walton resigned and Hall was fired after their testimony in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Lisa George/WABE News

The DeKalb County Commission has freed up $90,000 in funding for the county ethics board, which was reconstituted just last year to deal with mounting ethics issues.

DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May very publicly announced in June he was getting his fellow commissioners to allocate money for a Chief Integrity Officer, an investigator and an assistant, three full-time employees to help clean up the county’s ethics problems.

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4:14 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Fate Of Ellis Now In Jury's Hands

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

After three weeks of testimony, attorneys for both sides in Burrell Ellis’ corruption trial delivered their closing arguments Monday. Whether Ellis goes to prison or retains his position as DeKalb County CEO is now up to a jury.

Ellis faces charges of extortion and bribery, the latter of which carries a sentence of up to 20 years. Three county contractors testified Ellis shook them down for campaign donations. Another contractor testified Ellis wanted a bribe of $25,000.

Ellis denies all wrongdoing and his lawyers claim the charges are politically-motivated.

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2:14 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Ellis Denies Retaliating Against Those Who Refused To Donate

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis on the witness stand Thursday.

Updated 4:10 p.m.

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis and DeKalb District Attorney Robert James squared off for the first time Thursday in Ellis’ corruption trial. James grilled Ellis over allegations he shook down county vendors for campaign contributions.  

Under cross-examination, Ellis denied strong-arming vendors and insisted any issues between him and vendors were over poor customer service and unreturned phone calls, not donations. 

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1:20 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Ellis Takes Stand Seeking To Refute Corruption Charges

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis on the witness stand.

Updated: 5:06 p.m.

After more than two weeks of listening to prosecutors make their case, suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis got the chance Wednesday to tell his side of the story.

Ellis is on trial for allegedly shaking down county vendors for campaign contributions, then lying about it under oath.

On the witness stand, Ellis insisted he never strong-armed vendors for donations.

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6:00 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Your DeKalb Farmers Market Owner Not Keen on Cityhood

Your DeKalb Farmers Market boasts 140,000 square feet of space, but land is being cleared next to the market for a new facility that will have more than 500,000 square feet.

A major commercial player in DeKalb County says he does not want his business to become part of a city – either new or existing.

Robert Blazer keeps a low personal profile despite the high profile of his business. Your DeKalb Farmers Market, on East Ponce de Leon Avenue, paid nearly $300,000 in property taxes alone this year, and a major expansion project is underway.

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4:07 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Key Witness Testifies Ellis Sought To End Vendor Contract For Political Reasons

Kelvin Walton testified for a second day today in the Burrell Ellis corruption trial in DeKalb County Superior Court (photo taken September 23, 2014).
Credit Kent Johnson/AJC

The state’s star witness in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis testified for a second straight day Wednesday. 

On the witness stand, DeKalb purchasing director Kelvin Walton, who for months wore a wire for prosecutors, said he and Ellis discussed shutting out county vendors who didn’t respond to Ellis’ phone calls for campaign donations.

During one exchange, Walton said Ellis told him to phone a county vendor that had been unresponsive to his calls for campaign contributions.

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3:19 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

State's Star Witness Testifies Against Ellis

Kelvin Walton, director of Purchasing and Contracting for DeKalb County, identifies suspended Dekalb County CEO Burrell Ellis as he testifies in court Tuesday afternoon.
Kent Johnson/AJC

A key witness in the state’s corruption case against suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis testified Tuesday. Kelvin Walton, who was in charge of vendor contracts for the county, described Ellis as a bully who used him to help pressure county vendors for campaign contributions.

On the witness stand, an emotional Walton apologized to DeKalb residents for his actions. He said he had “nothing left to lose” and wanted “to come clean.”

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6:00 am
Tue September 23, 2014

DeKalb County/South DeKalb YMCA Partnership Falls Apart

DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson was one of the co-sponsors of the proposed partnership between the County and the South DeKalb YMCA. Commissioner Johnson did not return WABE's repeated calls for comment after the deal fell through.
Credit DeKalb County, GA

The controversial partnership proposed between DeKalb County and the South DeKalb YMCA is dead ... or is it?

According to Curtis Winston, the South DeKalb Y’s executive director, “Because of the demands or the requests, we’re just not able to do it. And the last meeting we had, it’s done, it’s dead, we’re not revisiting it.”

DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon has a slightly different take, telling WABE, “We would like to continue to talk about a partnership so that the YMCA can provide services to everyone.”

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5:08 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Burrell Ellis Assistant Forced To Testify

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

The former assistant of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis was forced to testify Monday in Ellis’ corruption trial, despite invoking her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Sitting beside her attorney on the witness stand, Nina Hall held back tears as she repeatedly cited the Fifth Amendment.

"On the advice of my counsel I’m exercising my right to remain silent," said Hall.

She repeated that more than two dozen times. In almost every case, the judge ordered her to answer the prosecution’s questions.

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6:00 am
Fri September 19, 2014

DeKalb Cityhood Movement Affects Decatur's Annexation Plans

Credit City of Decatur

  The City of Decatur has mapped out its latest annexation plans, but the cityhood movement in DeKalb County could mean this is Decatur’s last shot at growing its borders.

  “A city can’t annex from another city,” says Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss, stating a simple fact that makes trying to grow Decatur more complicated than it used to be.

“So the question now isn’t, ‘Would you prefer to be in the City of Decatur or DeKalb County?’” says Merriss. “We believe the question is clearly, ‘Which city do you prefer to be in?’”

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5:36 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Business Owner Says Ellis Threatened To End Contract Without Donation

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

It was day two of testimony in the corruption trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

A DeKalb vendor took the stand and testified work with the county dried up after his company refused to donate to Ellis’ re-election campaign.  

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3:12 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Burrell Ellis Trial: Quick Review

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis

Now that the trial of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis has begun, here are some of the events leading up to the trial.

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3:13 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Attorneys Deliver Opening Statements In Ellis Corruption Trial

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

Lawyers in Burrell Ellis’ corruption trial delivered opening statements Tuesday in a DeKalb County court room. It comes 15 months after the suspended DeKalb CEO was indicted on felony charges of bribery, extortion, and theft.

Speaking to a jury of ten women and two men, DeKalb prosecutor Lawanda Hodges said Ellis used his position as CEO to solicit campaign contributions, retaliate against those who didn’t give, then lied about it afterward.

"Power. Punishment. Perjury. That, members of the jury, is what the evidence will show you this case is all about," said Hodges.

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