Police search for a man after Kennesaw robbery
by MDJ staff
March 03, 2015 04:00 AM | 205 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KENNESAW — Cobb police say an armed, masked man entered the Red Roof Inn in Kennesaw at about 1 a.m. Monday and robbed the clerk of cash before fleeing in the clerk’s car. The motel is at 520 Roberts Court Drive near I-75 and Barrett Parkway. The suspect is described as 6 feet tall and between 170 to 180 pounds, last seen wearing jeans, a shirt, mask and gloves. The suspect, who also took personal items from the clerk, left the clerk’s car across the street behind a business, police report. Anyone with information is asked to call (770) 499-3945.
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Chief magistrate judge named
by Brittini Ray
March 03, 2015 04:00 AM | 228 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joyette Holmes
Joyette Holmes
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MARIETTA — Cobb Superior Court judges Monday named Joyette Holmes, a Cobb assistant district attorney, as chief magistrate judge. Holmes is both the first woman and first African American to hold the position, court officials say. Cobb Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Ben Williams said Holmes’ appointment brings hope to the Cobb’s black community. “I’m excited about the appointment,” Williams said. “It gives some increase to the black presence within the judiciary here in Cobb. Ms. Holmes is known in the community by her work and some of her efforts to support the quality of life for everyone in Cobb, so I’m optimistic and look forward to working with her.” State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) echoed Williams’ sentiments and said Holmes’ appointment reflected the county’s progress. “I think she will make a great addition to the bench,” Wilkerson said. “It’s always positive as an African American (to see progress like this). It lets me know that Cobb is becoming more inclusive as time goes on. The appointment overall reflects the growth of Cobb County. She’s a very bright individual with great experience.” Holmes replaces former Chief Magistrate Judge Frank Cox, who resigned Feb. 28. Previous MDJ Around Town columns reported Cox had been “abusive” to lawyers that practiced in his courtroom and made offensive remarks to women and minorities in court. Around Town said Richard Hyde, lead investigator for the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, observed Cox’s courtroom and then threatened an official investigation against Cox if he did not resign from the bench. The position of chief magistrate judge is an elected one but Cobb Superior Court judges may appoint a replacement to serve the remainder of a term when a vacancy arises. Cobb Superior Court judges chose Holmes from among 24 applicants. Holmes will serve out the remainder of Cox’s term and run for election in 2016 if she wants to continue in the position, according to Cobb Superior Court Chief Judge Stephen Schuster. Holmes, who will receive a salary of $147,000, will be sworn in March 13. Schuster said Holmes will bring a fresh perspective to the position and is excited to work with her. “We’re very excited and pleased that she accepted the position,” Schuster said. “It’s always good to have a new generation of judges and she will be part of that new generation. The court handles a lot of responsibilities.” Holmes earned degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the University of Baltimore. She was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 2005 and began working at the Cobb’s District Attorney’s Office as an assistant district attorney in 2013. She also operates a private practice on Anderson Street. “I’m super excited,” she said Monday. “I am feeling every emotion you can think of right now. I am excited for the position and humbled to have the consideration from my peers for the appointment. I am definitely hoping to make the magistrate court one that the Cobb community can be proud of.” The chief magistrate court judge oversees a staff of 50 to 60 people, which includes 14 part-time judges and one full-time one. Schuster said the county’s magistrate court is the court the public encounters most, aside from traffic court. Holmes’ responsibilities will include presiding over initial and preliminary evidentiary hearings and granting and issuing bonds for criminal cases before they are sent over to the Cobb District Attorney’s office, state court or Cobb Superior Court. The chief magistrate judge also deals with small claims cases that involve claims of $15,000 or less, dispossessory cases and county ordinance cases. Holmes will also hear narcotics cases from Marietta, Smyrna and Cobb County and will oversee the issue of 10-day temporary protective orders for family violence cases. Cobb Superior Court Judge Lark Ingram said Holmes’ diverse professional background will serve her well in the new position. “I’m just thrilled at her appointment,” Ingram said. “I think she’s going to do a great job because of her prior experience. She just has a good perspective on things.” Cobb Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard seconded Ingram, saying Holmes will be a great asset to the court. “I think that Joyette is very impressive,” he said. “I think that she possesses all the qualities that will make an outstanding judge, including things that can’t be taught such as judicial temperament and treating litigants, witnesses, attorneys with respect. I’ve known her for a long time and it won’t be an issue with her.”
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Development Authority of Cobb County to vote on Home Depot’s tax breaks today
by Hilary Butschek
March 03, 2015 04:00 AM | 255 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Home Depot
The Home Depot
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MARIETTA — The Development Authority of Cobb County is scheduled to vote on granting The Home Depot tax breaks at a special-called meeting today. The company, headquartered in Cobb, is asking to borrow $200 million to spend over the next 10 years on renovating its Cumberland headquarters and a building it plans to lease in Marietta near Franklin Road. Clark Hungerford, development authority chairman, said the board delayed voting on the tax abatement for The Home Depot at its Feb. 17 meeting because the company turned in the required documents detailing its financial plans late. It’s been two weeks since the delay and Hungerford said board members should be ready to vote on the abatement, which he believes would be the first of its kind in Cobb. “It’s my feeling that (the board members have) gotten sufficient time (to look at the documents). … Everybody kind of knew where we were going,” Hungerford said. Karen Hallacy, who serves on the development authority board, said Monday that she was uncomfortable with The Home Depot’s request for $200 million when it came before the board two weeks ago. Since that time, Michael LaFerle, vice president of real estate and construction for The Home Depot, made a presentation to the Cobb Board of Education and threatened the company may need to move outside of Cobb if the tax abatements weren’t granted. Hallacy, who sat in on LaFerle’s presentation to the school board, said she found it helpful. “(I) saw a presentation that was very different than the one presented to the (development authority) two weeks ago,” Hallacy said. “I appreciated hearing the additional details. ... Home Depot is a strong, corporate citizen for Cobb and I respect and appreciate all that they’ve done for our county. I still have reservations about the (development authority) issuing a $200 (million) blank check, even to one of our most respected corporate citizens.” Cobb school board Chairman Randy Scamihorn said he was still on the fence after hearing from LaFerle. “Home Depot is a little more complex, and I’m still studying it,” Scamihorn said Monday. “I thought his presentation was good. … As far as I know our finance budget people are still looking at the numbers. It’s a complex proposition — the kind where you have to put all the pieces together, and I’m anxious to see the development authority and their questions and what they decide.” If granted the abatements, The Home Depot would get $200 million in bond money to spend as it wants over the next 10 years. However, The Home Depot’s plan on how to spend the money is different than how most developers use the bond money from the development authority. Cobb won’t get a new building out of the exchange between the development authority and The Home Depot. The company plans to spend the sum in chunks over the next 10 years to renovate its 38-year-old buildings in Cumberland, as well as a building it plans to lease on Newmarket Parkway in Marietta. Hungerford said the development authority will keep track of how the money is spent each year. “They’ll present to (the development authority) a listing of what they’ll want,” Hungerford said. “(The Home Depot) can’t say, ‘We’re going to buy a rocket ship.’ … If they come with something that doesn’t fit into what they said they would do or something that doesn’t fit the schedule, we have the right to stop that.” Because the company’s headquarters are so old and so small, compared to the rate at which The Home Depot is growing, without a renovation and expansion, LaFerle threatened the company could leave Cobb. “Without any type of incentive, my recommendation would be we move out of the buildings (in Cumberland) and move into newer buildings either somewhere else in the Atlanta market or in another market,” LaFerle said at the school board meeting Thursday. The Home Depot has a lot of offers to move elsewhere, LaFerle said. “There’s a lot of communities that are competing, frankly, for our office center. We’re going to need some type of incentive to make it competitive with some of the other opportunities we have,” LaFerle told the school board. “I know it’s a little bit different than what you’ve been seeing because it’s not new construction and we’re already in (the Cumberland) facilities.” If the company does get the tax breaks, it could bring 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs to the county over the next 10 years while The Home Depot invests money into Cobb, LaFerle said. Hungerford said he doesn’t doubt that other communities are competing with Cobb to draw The Home Depot away. “Every day I am sure there are other locations that are making pitches to Home Depot to get them to relocate to their area. … So, we do everything we can to make sure that they feel safe, secure, welcome and a needed part of the community, an involved part of the community to keep them a part of the community,” Hungerford said.
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Chatterbox: Marietta Police in top 3 departments nationwide
by MDJ staff
March 03, 2015 04:00 AM | 396 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A police task force established by President Barack Obama recognized the Marietta Police Department as an example to follow, according to a release from Marietta police Monday. On a January 30 meeting of the President’s Task Force on 21 Century Police, which was created by an executive order from the president, Marietta police were named one of the top three departments out the total 19,000 departments in the country, according to the release. The other two top departments are located in Austin, Texas and Charlotte Mecklenburg, North Carolina. The task force is working “to identify best practices and make recommendations to the president on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust and examine, among other issues, how to foster strong, collaborative relationships between local law enforcement and the communities they protect,” according to the release. Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn said he’s proud of local police for the honor. “The men and women of the MPD place a high priority on community outreach and partnering. Through our community programs we reach out to numerous segments of the community we serve. Our programs reach out to Marietta’s students and educational community; minority communities, pastors and the faith community; residents and business communities ...” Flynn said.
MHS students to perform ‘Considering Maya’ March 15 Marietta High School students and staff, as well as members of the community, will perform ‘Considering Maya: A Performance Dialogue’ on Sunday, March 15 at 3 p.m. in the Marietta Performing Arts Center at Marietta High School. The performance is in honor of Women’s History Month and will highlight some of Maya Angelou’s work. The performance will include singing, dancing, poetry and speaking. Tickets can be purchased online at mpac.marietta-city.org and will also be available at the box office an hour before the show. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. The performance will benefit the YWCA of Northwest Georgia, an organization that provides help to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Contact the Marietta Performing Arts Center with any questions or concerns by email at mpac@marietta-city.k12.ga.us.
Cobb High school student honored as Best Delegate A student at the North Cobb High School magnet program was honored as the Best Delegate at the University of Georgia Model United Nations Conference. Sam Smith received the award based his performance at the conference, which was held in Athens on Feb. 6 through 8. Smith is a sophomore at the North Cobb School of International Studies. According to the conference website, UGA operates a traditional-style Model U.N. conference consisting of three General Assemblies, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and the U.N. Security Council. Other student winners were Rebecca Goldstein and Sam Fulkerson for Outstanding Position Paper; Shelby Estroff received an Honorable Mention; and Sean Brennan and Alex Flack won Outstanding Delegates in the Special Political Committee.
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Kennesaw nonprofit says it wants to amend contract: The Edge Connection looks to end $75K grant-backed kitchen incubator program
by Ricky Leroux
March 03, 2015 04:00 AM | 227 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KENNESAW — A nonprofit the city of Kennesaw gave a $75,000 grant to is asking the City Council to amend its contract with the city and allow it to shut down the program the grant helped start. The Edge Connection is a Kennesaw-based organization developed to help entrepreneurs through education and training, and in 2011, the nonprofit entered into an agreement with Kennesaw to set up a kitchen incubator to provide a space to cook for those who want to start a culinary business. For instance, someone who wanted to start a restaurant could take classes to help with the business side and use the commercial-grade kitchen to work on recipes and cooking. These services are offered for a fee, but because the program is geared toward low-income entrepreneurs, the fees vary based on income levels. The incubator was set up on Jiles Road, just off Cobb Parkway, and Edge Connection used the city’s grant to purchase equipment for the kitchen. However, Edge Connection CEO Terri Elhaddaoui told the council Monday evening that the demand for the kitchen incubator is not what was anticipated. “Our last fiscal year, we ran about a $4,000 deficit, and this year, we’re expecting to end the year, should we finish the year, at over an $80,000 deficit,” Elhaddaoui said. “That strains our core nonprofit, which appeals to a broader scope of entrepreneurs.” Elhaddaoui said her organization, which operates out of Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business, will continue to work with the city’s businesses. Entrepreneurs who go through the city’s economic development office can be vetted and referred to the nonprofit, which will then provide other services Edge Connection offers, including help with a business plan and financial consulting, for free. “I believe we can better service that particular market, as well as the broader market of entrepreneurs, by engaging the city on the side of our greater nonprofit,” Elhaddaoui said. The City Council took no action Monday, but only heard a presentation from Elhaddaoui. Robert Fox, director of economic development for Kennesaw, said after the meeting that he could have an amended contract for the council to consider in two to four weeks. Mayor Mark Mathews, who approved the original agreement in 2011, said offering these services for free to all Kennesaw businesses that qualify may actually be better for the city than the kitchen incubator. “Obviously, we’re heartbroken it’s not working out, but I think what they’ve proposed is actually going to be a larger service to our community than what we even had before,” Mathews said. “We were very specialized before in what we thought was going to be a very niche business that could benefit the city. What we’re being provided now as an alternative is actually much broader and goes to a broader base.” Despite the lower than anticipated returns from the Edge Kitchen investment, Mathews sees a silver lining. “It’s very unfortunate that the model we started with wasn’t really successful, but we all learn and we grow from our failures, and I think this is a great opportunity, not just for the Edge Connection to grow further … but for us to learn and be able to expand the services and the opportunities that we offer,” Mathews said. “It gives us more tools in our toolbox from an economic development standpoint. It gives us an advantage that other communities do not have.” Mathews said he would not characterize the investment as a loss. “I wouldn’t say that it’s a failure,” he said. “The city bought into a proposal of the Edge Connection in expanding their service offerings that did not work to the advantage that they anticipated working towards. … That didn’t happen, and what we’re left with now is something much better.” Additionally, Elhaddaoui said the Edge Connection will try to find commercial kitchens in the metro Atlanta area to continue providing kitchen space for culinary entrepreneurs. The value of these services vary because the nonprofit has a sliding scale based on each entrepreneur’s income, Elhaddaoui said, but the core program costs $3,000 and includes a series of classes. It does not include other additional workshops offered by Edge Connection, she added. Elhaddaoui said the Edge Kitchen’s lack of success is a nationwide trend, saying kitchen incubator programs are not succeeding in non-urban areas and the kitchen could have fared better if it were inside the Atlanta perimeter. According to a report Edge Connection provided to the city, a total of 26 entrepreneurs participated in the Edge Kitchen program in 2014. The report also states 21 business licenses were issued for start-ups coming out of the incubator in 2014. Of those, 19 businesses were responsible for 52 jobs being created, 40 of which were sustained. Elhaddaoui told the council she would like to cease operations at the kitchen and try to get out of the lease it has on the kitchen space, but the nonprofit has to have the 2011 agreement amended to do so because it stipulated the kitchen must remain open for five years. The equipment purchased using the grant would be sold or left with the property owner, Elhaddaoui said. During Monday’s work session, Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh said she has liquidated a kitchen before and told Elhaddaoui she would likely get back only 10 percent of the money spent on equipment if it is sold.
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