DeKalb County

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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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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