Friday, January 28, 2022

Some DeKalb County bridges in poor or deficient condition

DeKalb County has two of the most-traveled structurally deficient bridges in the state of Georgia, according to a national trade organization.

The "structurally deficient" designation by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) means that one of a bridge's key elements is in poor condition. More than two percent of Georgia's 14,987 bridges are in this category. It would cost $12 billion to repair them all, the association says.

A bridge on Houston Mill Rd. over S. Fork Peachtree Creek, built in 1958, ranks fourth on the list, with 18,960 daily crossings. A bridge on Cedar Grove Road over the Norfolk Southern Railroad has 9,560 daily crossings and is ranked sixth. Both are classified as "urban collector" roads.

DeKalb County commissioners get 2022 committee seats

The DeKalb Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday to formally approve Presiding Officer Robert Patrick's new committee assignments.

Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson (Superdistrict 7, representing the eastern half of DeKalb County) will continue to chair the Public Works and Infrastructure (PWI) Committee, as she has done since 2020. She will also be a member of the Finance, Audit & Budget (FAB) Committee chaired by Commissioner Jeff Rader.

Commissioner Steve Bradshaw (District 4, parts of central DeKalb County) chairs no committees this year, but will serve on the FAB panel and the Employee Relations & Public Safety Committee (ERPS) chaired by Commissioner Ted Terry.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

DeKalb NAACP to hold virtual King Day parade

The DeKalb NAACP will hold a virtual MLK Parade on Monday, after cancelling its plans for a parade from Green Pastures Christian Ministries to MLK High School because of winter weather.

The kick-off ceremony for the virtual 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade will take place at 11:30 a.m on Monday. The virtual parade will follow, beginning at noon.

You can join the event at

The theme for the parade is "Marching To The Sound Of Justice."

Stone Mountain to host virtual King Day celebration

The City of Stone Mountain and the city's St. Paul AME Church are hosting a virtual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday at 11 a.m.

The keynote speaker will be Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church.

The event can be viewed on the City of Stone Mountain's Facebook page, which appears to require a Facebook account to log in.

Monday, January 10, 2022

General Assembly to consider DeKalb County commission map, new cities, guns and ballots

DeKalb County lawmakers expect election-year politics to dominate this year's General Assembly session, which will consider new county commission district maps and proposals for two new cities.

"I anticipate that many of the issues that we will be deliberating upon will be those issues that put the majority party in good stead with their base because this is an election year," State Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) told an online delegation town hall meeting on Saturday.

"There's probably going to be at least two cityhood issues that will have to be analyzed and deliberated upon and discussed. I would encourage you to stay active, get involved, let your state senator and state representative know how you feel about these issues because that carries the day," Mitchell said.

A proposal for a new city in south DeKalb County, first launched in 2014, remains active. Previously called Greenhaven, proponents are now calling it the City of DeKalb. There is also a proposal for a city encompassing Atlanta's Buckhead shopping and business district.

"The effort to have Buckhead secede from the City of Atlanta is on the table," State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) said, adding that she assumed most DeKalb legislators "would be adamantly against that for a variety of reasons." She said Georgia's Governor, Lieutenant Governor and House Speaker have "been a bit lukewarm to that, but it remains a very dangerous issue and, frankly, it's been over a decade since the state should have revamped its approach to the creation of new cities and put a better process in place. This is yet another example of why that should have been done." 

Legislators will also consider revamped DeKalb County commission districts. The Board of Commissioners approved new district maps without revealing them publicly or allowing the public to comment on them directly at a commission meeting. Critics say the proposed maps would divide county neighborhoods while favoring existing cities.

State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), the chair of the DeKalb Senate delegation, acknowledged the county's proposed maps. "We appreciate their input but the responsibility of redistricting and reapportioning in DeKalb County lies squarely on the state legislature and not the county commission," he said. 

"It's the delegation's responsibility to redistrict the seven commission districts for DeKalb County," Jones said. "We have members of DeKalb County government that have a lot more members in the district than some of the DeKalb County government officials on the south side of the county."

Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), chair of the county's House delegation, encouraged DeKalb County residents to provide comments to the county's state legislators on the "tentative" proposed maps. "Our process is just starting, your opportunity to weigh in is invited," she said. "All of us will be involved."

Lawmakers said Republicans can be expected to make further changes to Georgia election law, building on last year's legislation that restricted the locations of ballot drop boxes and increased state influence on local election boards.

"They're literally creating cheating empires," Mitchell said. "There's going to be an attempt, primarily through the local legislation process, to change the non-partisan nature of these election boards. They started last session and I expect to see much more of that."

Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, will "tack much harder to the right in order to try to win the primary," Parent said. He is "now pushing for the elimination of all [ballot] drop boxes, which was not a position he was taking last year," she said.          

Teacher pay raises will be on the agenda, as well as mental healthcare reform and gambling, such online sports betting, destination resorts and horse racing, said Mitchell.

He said permit-free gun carry legislation will be considered. "This is a big issue to the base of the majority party," Mitchell said. "There are those who believe that you ought not to have to apply and have a permit to carry a gun in public. It's an incredible notion when you think about it."

Vernon Jones claims DeKalb County ballot box violated state rules

Former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones says he has filed a complaint with the Georgia Secretary of State's office, alleging that the county violated state election rules by placing a ballot drop box on private property.

Jones, a Republican candidate for governor, alleges that DeKalb County advertised, listed and used an absentee ballot box located on privately owned property in violation of State Election Board Rule 183-1-14-0.6-.14, the Albany Herald reports.

"I will always be a fighter and protector of election integrity and voters' rights," Jones said in a news release. 

Jones announced he was switching to the Republican Party at a pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., just hours before the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He said last year that Georgia's November 2020 presidential election was "fixed." 

A Fulton County prosecutor has told the Associated Press she expects to ask for a special grand jury to investigate efforts by Donald Trump and others to overturn the Georgia election results.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

DeKalb Elections Board meets Thursday

The DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections will hold its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, January 13, at 4:30 p.m. The agenda for the meeting has not yet been published.

Public comments of two minutes or less can be made through the Zoom link:  

The county says it will also stream the meeting at: