From a long-awaited grand reopening to claims of a hostile work environment, 2022 in south Fulton County had its ups and down. As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the South Fulton Neighbor’s most-read stories from the past 12 months.
New Mayor’s Resolution: In a story from Jan. 7, we reported that the City of South Fulton passed a resolution expressing disapproval of new Mayor Khalid Kamau’s actions during his inaugural address. City Council learned that during the inauguration activities for incoming council members, the mayor delivered a speech on the steps of City Hall calling for the resignation of the city manager, city clerk and city attorney. Two days later, city council members issued a resolution noting the mayor overstepped his authority and said his actions violated multiple sections of the city charter. At the time, Councilwoman Dr. Catherine Rowell stated that under the council-manager form of government, “The mayor does not have the authority to hire or fire, and our employees need to be assured that they will not be subjected to the political whims of elected officials.“ This was just the beginning of a tumultuous relationship between the mayor and council members and various members of city staff.
Still SMARTA: On Jan. 21, we reported that MARTA had been awarded almost $1 million dollars toward 12 new transit stations in south Fulton. The $970,000 grant was from the Federal Transit Administration and meant to conduct a planning study for transit-oriented developments at stations along 15 miles of the Clayton County Southlake bus rapid transit line. In November, MARTA announced it would be solely looking at bus rapid transit for this area. The planned rapid bus route will run for approximately 22 miles, have 17 proposed stops, and connect the East Point rail station to Mountain View, Forest Park, Clayton State University, Jonesboro, the Clayton County Justice Center, and Lovejoy in Clayton and East Point and Hapeville in Fulton County.
It’s The Little Things: In a Feb. 17 story, the Neighbor reported on the grand reopening of the home of the Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, the Dwarf House in Hapeville. The restaurant was closed for nine months while it was renovated to double the operational capacity and modernize the space. The Dwarf House first opened in 1946 and was last renovated in 1967. More than 500 hours of research including interviews with employees and customers helped shape the redesign. A dual drive-thru lane was added, as was an outdoor dining space. The little red door remains.
City to Table: On Feb. 17, we published a profile on urban farmer and College Park business owner Bobby Wilson. Wilson, who runs Metro Atlanta Urban Farm, had just been appointed to the Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production Federal Advisory Committee, a first-of-its-kind committee. Wilson said at the time, “I want to be a voice for those of us who work in the urban agriculture communities across the country…I want to speak on their behalf and hope to bring forth programs that’s gonna impact urban agriculture across the great nation of ours.” More recently, Wilson was named one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes and was awarded $10,000.
Home Sweet Tiny Home: In a Sept. 2 story, we reported that Fulton County Commissioners voted to provide $1 million in funding for a pilot program to build a neighborhood of tiny houses on county-owned land. The commission got creative when it came to finding money for the project—it comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, which allows the covid-relief funds to be spent on affordable housing. At an August meeting, Chairman Robb Pitts explained that the goal of the program is homeownership: “These tiny homes are a thing of the future…(This is) an opportunity for us to set an example nationally for other local governments to follow.” Fulton leaders are looking at land in College Park to build homes on.
Working it Out: The South Fulton Neighbor’s No. 1 most-read story this year is a Sept. 30 article regarding hostile work environment claims in the City of South Fulton. On Sept. 30, South Fulton Police Chief Keith Meadows held a press conference to address what he called inaccuracies in a television news report about the resignation of a city narcotics officer earlier in the year. Meadows wanted to clarify that claims of a hostile work environment were substantiated during an investigation into them. These were the hostile work environment claims against Lt. Shannon McKesey, which came from several other police officers. Media outlets had apparently reported that an investigation found the claims were not substantiated, but Meadows said that investigation referred to different hostile work environment claims.
Transit Transition: On Oct. 7, we reported that MARTA found its new general manager/CEO in Collie Greenwood. A former bus operator, Greenwood rose through the ranks over 30 years to serve as Chief Service Officer with the Toronto Transit Commission. He joined MARTA in July 2019 as Chief of Bus Operations and Urban Planning and was soon named Deputy General Manager of Operations where he oversaw all bus and rail operations. “Since arriving at MARTA, Collie has shown a tremendous knowledge of transit and capacity for leadership and innovation, while always keeping the customer front and center,” MARTA Board Chair Rita Scott said at the time. Greenwood was named interim GM/CEO in January after the death of the previous GM/CEO Jeffrey Parker.