Sunday, November 29, 2020

“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving,” Erma Bombeck quipped.

As Cobb County families prepare the turkey and stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, we asked what they were thankful for on this Thanksgiving holiday.

Here are some of their answers:

“I’m grateful for the board and what they’ve done this year for the county. I’m grateful for all those volunteers that have helped get people through this time, like food pantries and (those) trying to deal with the homeless ... there’s so many things we should be grateful for right now, the list would be endless.

“I know we want to be out of this pandemic but … I know families are grateful for what they have, including mine. As you know, I have a brand-new granddaughter, and there’s nothing that lights your light up more than a new child, I’m telling you. When I held that little girl in my hand, it made what’s important come right back to me. So I’m very blessed right now.”

Mike Boyce, chairman, Cobb County Board of Commissioners

“I am thankful for life, the beauty of family and friends, God’s tender mercies that are new every morning and the people of our county — Cobb’s greatest asset.”

Lisa Cupid, District 4 commissioner and chairwoman-elect

“I am thankful for the ability to be here and share, although it’s been a turbulent year, share some of the goodness with the people that I love and care about and that I’m always hopeful for the future and thankful for each and every day, that I’m granted another day to see another tomorrow.”

Jeriene Bonner-Grimes, Cobb NAACP president

“I’m thankful that there’s hope. I am grateful and thankful for a lot of things … the opportunity to serve and that there’s hope in this world.”

Derek Easterling, Kennesaw mayor

“As always I am most grateful for my wonderful family. We will be able to share a quiet and simple holiday this year. Frying turkeys and breakfast with my son Dan Clark and his children, Emily Grace and Ryan. Then a dinner with my parents Anne and Irving Staley and sister Linda and brother John. I am especially grateful that my fiance Chuck Perry will join us. And I’m grateful to God for all his blessings. And that I am blessed to live in America and enjoy our freedom protected by those who serve to keep us free. Happy Thanksgiving.”

Mary Staley Clark, Cobb Superior Court judge

“This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that, against powerful adversity in 2020, the men and women of the Marietta Police Department continued to serve our community with dedication, distinction and honor. At the same time, I am thankful to continue to work in a community where citizens and community leaders alike avidly support and appreciate their police department, even through trying times. It continues to be a rare humbling experience.”

Dan Flynn, Marietta police chief

“What a truly blessed year. Family, friends, health, and love have made this year a wonder ... and then ... made perfect with young (grandson) Jack. It’s hard to believe he’s almost 4 years old!”

— Abbie Parks, Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society board member

“I’m thankful for so much. Most importantly, in today’s environment, I’m thankful for my health, and the health of my family and those that are close to me. I’m thankful for the changes that are taking place in my life, professionally, and looking forward to doing great things on the Superior Court, and just thankful for the love and support of all of my friends and family.”

Kellie Hill, Cobb magistrate judge and incoming Superior Court judge

“This year, after my wife and I coming through COVID-19 in March, I am so thankful for life and my new outlook of it!”

Wayne Dodd, district director for U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk

“In addition to my faith, family, friends, and freedom, I am especially thankful this year to live and work in the best community with many passionate individuals stepping up together in many ways to overcome the pandemic challenges from this year.”

Sharon Mason, president and CEO, Cobb Chamber of Commerce

“I am thankful for a God (whose) love is never ending, a loving wife and a healthy family, and the constant support of a truly Great Smyrna!”

Joseph Bennett, Smyrna police chief

“I guess I’m absolutely thankful for looking ahead to 2021, just a short few weeks away. And the opportunity and honor to be able to chair the chamber of commerce again, so I’m certainly thankful for that.”

John Loud, chairman, Cobb Chamber of Commerce

“I’m thankful for my wife Carol, and my family, and for the citizens of the Acworth, and for good health.”

Tommy Allegood, Acworth mayor

“On a personal level, I’m blessed with a wonderful wife who stood by me for my 35-plus years with the county, and great kids that have grown into great adults, so I’m very blessed in that area. On the county side, I feel blessed, and the department’s blessed, with a new training center ... and also our new headquarters which we will start transitioning to in the next few months. The police department’s gonna benefit greatly from the extra space and things that we can do within the department.”

— Cobb Police Chief Tim Cox

“During these tumultuous times, Reva and I are thankful that our family is healthy. We just canceled our trip to Kansas City to be with Jenny, Jared and Jacob as they are both doctors and work in hospitals. This seemed to be the prudent choice. The silver lining is that we will spend the day with Lara, Jim and the Mooneys. Small gathering and secure bubble.”

— Steve Schuster, Cobb Superior Court judge

“From the book of Isaiah comes that great prophecy: ‘there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.’ Those words speak of the birth of our Savior, but it’s also a fitting image for how I feel today. Over the last year I’ve been watching the tree fall, but now I see the shoots rise from the stump.

“There is illness that’s taken over 250,000 American lives, but now comes the promise of a vaccine.

“Students were sent home as education as we’ve known it came to a screeching halt, but I’ve become more engaged in our children’s lives.

“My wife and I weren’t able to go out to dinner for our 18th wedding anniversary, but I love her now more than ever.

“Our pews have been empty, but now our message reaches across the nation and around the globe on the internet.

“Life as we know it has changed, unemployment skyrockets, and funerals, which were already hard enough, can now hardly even happen, but I have seen our church turn our parking lot into a massive food distribution center and I’ve watched our congregation care for each other with the love of Christ.

“Life is different, but God is still at work among us, so what I’m most thankful for this year is hope.”

— Rev. Joe Evans, senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Marietta

ELECTIONS: Jeriene Bonner-Grimes, president of the Cobb County branch of the NAACP, was elected to a second two-year term this month, the branch reports.

Other officers elected include: Tanya Lafleur, first vice president; Janet Savage, second vice president; Michelle Williams, third vice president; Rebecca Edwards, secretary; Ashley Lester, assistant secretary; Agatha Knight, treasurer; Carla Thomas, executive committee member.

RECOGNITION: The Georgia Farm Bureau recognized U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, for receiving the Friend of Farm Bureau Award for the 116th Congress. The award is presented every two years to members of Congress who support federal legislation and regulatory initiatives to improve the lives of farmers and the rural communities they call home.

“Congressman Scott has been a good friend to Georgia farmers and rural communities for years in Washington, and we are very pleased to present him with the Friend of Farm Bureau Award for his work to improve the farm safety net, expand rural broadband, and secure much-needed agricultural disaster assistance, to name a few of his initiatives ... ” said Gerald Long, president of the Georgia Farm Bureau.

Around Town wishes you and yours a Happy Turkey Day. We will return next Wednesday.

Friday morning, word went out on social media that County County’s elections department was shredding things.

“We’re fielding a whole bunch of calls,” Janine Eveler, Cobb elections director, told Around Town Friday afternoon. “People are calling from Florida, from whole different states, saying, ‘We heard you guys were shredding ballots.’ Well of course not. But they don’t believe us because we’re the bad guys.”

As it happens, Cobb elections was doing a little shredding at its operations site at Jim Miller Park. But it wasn’t ballots being shredded; it was the blank inner envelop that voters use when they mail in their absentee ballots.

“So what they saw and what I saw on Twitter, which is what they were posting on Twitter was the white inner envelope that has nothing on it,” Eveler said.

The ballot itself and the signed envelope are saved and placed under seal by the clerk of the Superior Court.

“The white inner envelope doesn't have anything to do with evidence. It’s just for the privacy sleeve. So after the election is certified then we go ahead and get rid of those,” Eveler said.

Cobb elections contracts with a shredding company to dispose of its trash. 

“They come out every month or every six weeks, and everything just gets shredded. Well, it was bad timing I guess because they came out right after all of this and tensions are high,” Eveler said.

She's got that right. Tension is high. 

'LOOKS LIKE COBB COUNTY': Charlie Beckett pulled into the long line of cars that snaked through the parking lot of Turner Chapel AME and backed out onto North Marietta Parkway.

Beckett, who owns several businesses in Marietta, was in line Wednesday to get a yard sign from Democrat Jon Ossoff, the man hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia. Beckett said he's voting for Ossoff in the Senate runoff “To help straighten the mess out in D.C. David Perdue has done nothing for the people of Georgia in the last six years. Period. I think we need change. Trump talks about draining the swamp? We need to clean the place up.”

Ossoff handed out his own yard signs and signs touting the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democrat challenging U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia. Should both Democrats succeed in the election, they will flip the U.S. Senate blue. 

Ossoff greeted supporters, taking selfies and bumping elbows as he loaded up car after car. Cobb Democratic Party Chair Jacquelyn Bettadapur estimated 1,000 people turned out. Among them was state Rep. Erick Allen, D-Smyrna, fresh off his own election victory. Allen smoked his Republican challenger, taking 20,716 votes, or 58 percent of the vote, to Taryn Bowman's 14,773.

"I think Cobb County is not just blue electorally with the last election. I think there’s been a shift and people are encouraged by the message and the optimism that Jon brings to the ballot in this runoff, so I think what you’re seeing now is Cobb County, Marietta speaking just as loudly as they did in Nov. 3," Allen said of the turnout. 

Allen called it a festive affair with excited people and beautiful weather.

“And the good thing about it is, as you look at the cars that are driving through, this looks like Cobb County. It looks like Marietta. It’s all ages, all races, genders. I think this is not only an event for the campaign, but it's also a celebration of just the beauty of Cobb County and Marietta."

With state Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, announcing he would follow tradition in stepping down as chair of the 21-member Cobb Legislative Delegation in January after a two-year term, Allen said he was throwing his hat in the ring to succeed him.

“Rep. Wilkerson is the whip of the minority caucus. It leaves an opening, and I’ve talked to some of the caucus members, and I’m looking forward to putting myself forward to be chair of the delegation for the next two years,” Allen said.

One of the things he’d like to see on his watch is more communication between the delegation's 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans.

“But also considering we have for all practical purposes a brand new county government, I think it’s going to be very important to make sure that we’re working very closely together, so we get into a groove in the next two years,” he said. “So looking forward to working with the new chairman, the new commissioners, new sheriff, new DA, as I said, we’ve got a lot of turnover at the county government. I think it would be good to have some relationships there that we can foster.”

RECOGNITION: American Jewish Committee Atlanta honored former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson with the 2020 National Human Relations Award at a virtual event Wednesday.

The award is presented each year to a civic or business leader whose work within the community represents the mission and values of the committee. 

“We are delighted to honor Sen. Isakson as the 2020 recipient of the National Human Relations Award,” said Dov Wilker, the committee's regional director. “His distinguished record in Congress is notable today for his bipartisan leadership and building bridges across differences, qualities that exemplify what this award represents.”

Event Chairs Frank Blake and Doug Hertz, and Tribute Chairs Gov. Roy Barnes, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Gov. Nathan Deal, and Ambassador Andrew Young gave tributes to Isakson during the program. Carol Tomé, CEO of UPS and the 2019 NHRA honoree, presented the award. 

“I am honored to have worked for decades with the Jewish community and so many good friends to help bring together Atlanta’s and America’s diverse religious and ethnic communities and to help build bridges of understanding and promote democratic values,” Isakson remarked.

TRANSITIONS: This week Jim Galloway, dean of political journalism in Georgia, announced he'd be retiring on January 15. 

Galloway has worked for the AJC since 1979 and his Political Insider blog is not to be missed. 

“It’s been an honor to have had such an important front-row seat, to bear witness to all the change that has come to Georgia, the rest of the South, and the farthest corners of this nation over the last five decades," Galloway said in a virtual broadcast with fellow AJC writers.

He thanked his wife, his colleagues and his readers.

“The last 20 years or so have been difficult for the newspaper industry. And I’m fortunate that the Journal Constitution has been such a stable harbor for journalism. To be able to retire on my own say-so, my own schedule, this is not an opportunity that many journalists get to have anymore, and I’m grateful to editors like Kevin (Riley), who have kept the ship so steady that I can simply stroll down the gangplank.”

Riley said he tried to talk Galloway out of the decision and that he would be greatly missed.

Tweeting out the news, former Attorney General Sam Olens wrote Galloway “is one of the classiest and honest reporters you will ever meet. It is an honor to know him.”

Around Town wishes Mr. Galloway a happy and well-deserved retirement. 

SPEAKING OF RETIREMENTS: Commissioner Joann Birrell sent over the following photo featuring a cutout of retiring Commissioner Bob Ott perched in his office chair. 

"Commissioner Ott is so dedicated that he will be in his office 24/7 until December 31st!" wrote Birrell. 

Fun stuff, but it is true that Ott is one of the most accessible elected officials in Cobb County. His successor, Jerica Richardson, would be wise to follow his example.

A cutout of retiring Commissioner Bob Ott in his office. 

With the Nov. 3 election causing no changes in Cobb’s 21-member legislative delegation, Around Town rang the delegation’s chairman to learn what was in store for the coming year.

State Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, said tradition holds that the chair steps down after two years, a tradition he intends to honor.

David Wilkerson

So come January, a new chair will be elected.

Cobb has six state senators, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. In the Georgia House, Cobb has 15 members with Democrats holding eight of those seats, a slim majority.

Any local bill to pass the delegation requires a simple majority from both Cobb’s senators and representatives. At least that’s how local bills are usually approved. When Wilkerson was elected chair, Cobb’s House delegation didn’t adopt its governing rules by the deadline, meaning all it took for a local bill to fail was one representative objecting to it.

And that’s exactly what happened when it came to giving raises to the Cobb County sheriff and his top leadership. Several Democrats objected, killing the sheriff’s pay raise bill earlier this year.

Wilkerson said the delegation would not make that mistake again when electing its new chair in January. But because Cobb’s Senate delegation is 3-3, and Cobb’s House delegation is only majority Democrat by one legislator, cooperation is vital.

“We just need to go back to passing our rules, and I fully hope and expect that will happen, that come January we’ll pass our normal rules and get back to the way we’ve done business for however many years. I expect it to go back to a simple majority when we meet in January,” he said.

A big-ticket item next year is kicking off the redrawing of district boundaries for elected officials. The Cobb delegation is in charge of redrawing the lines of two governments: the Cobb Board of Commissioners and the Cobb Board of Education. Cities draw their own boundaries.

“That is up to the Cobb County Legislative Delegation, the 21 of us will decide what those maps look like. We can take input from the school board. We can take input from the commissioners, but at the end of the day it’s something that falls upon the legislators to draw,” Wilkerson said.

Given how the Democrats only control the delegation by a slim margin, Wilkerson believes compromise is key to a successful redistricting.

“What I would like to see is different from what we did 10 years ago, and that means that we actually work together to draw lines that make sense based on the school boundaries. You know, let the natural boundaries fall as they may and not try to maximize one party’s advantage over another,” the chairman said.

Wilkerson said tradition dictates that the full House and Senate respect the decision of the local delegations to draw their local districts.

Legislators in both chambers will be busy enough drawing the lines of their own district seats, which “usually is a nasty process.”

“(Republicans) control the House, Senate. They get to draw those lines however they want. We’re kind of observers. But at the end of the day, if you take Cobb County, the majority was 60 percent or whatever it was Democratic. You would think your legislative body would reflect that somewhat. They’re going to do their best to draw as many Democrats out as they can, but it’s going to be a challenge just based on the fact that the state is changing so much.”

When the census data is released this coming summer, Wilkerson expects lawmakers to get to work on the maps, with approval likely in the 2022 session.

LAST TIME, Wilkerson said the Cobb school board presented a redistricting map its members had agreed on to the delegation and then-state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, presented another map. He said Ehrhart’s map moved one of the school board seats west which some believe caused Democrat Cobb school board member Alison Bartlett to lose her seat to Republican Brad Wheeler.

Lindsey Tippins

Those were the days on the board when Republicans and Democrats worked together. For instance, although the board was majority Republican, Bartlett served a term as chair. And that wasn’t unusual. Democrat Betty Gray, a retired Cobb County principal, also served as chair when she was on the board in addition to being then-Republican school board member Lindsey Tippins‘ closest ally.

But that was then. Nowadays, the school board is bitterly partisan, voting along party lines.

“I don’t know if it’s a reflection of society as a whole. That could be part of it, but I’ve been getting calls about trying to make the board nonpartisan,” Wilkerson said. “I think after this last election people saw people were locked down by party.”

Wilkerson said he hates to see the ugly partisanship.

“I’d like to see it go back. I’ve always had good relationships with both parties on the school board and it is getting harder to actually discuss legislation. I don’t know what it is, but it definitely seems to be more difficult.”

By contrast, the Marietta school board, whose members tend to get along with one another, is non-partisan.

“It’s a big difference, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation for another day. I think (Superintendent Grant Rivera) is doing a great job over there. He gets in the weeds with everyone else and is not afraid to be visible so I think they’re doing a good job at Marietta,” Wilkerson said.

Tippins went from serving on the Cobb school board to serving in the Georgia Senate.

The west Cobb senator said looking at changing the Cobb school board to a nonpartisan board was certainly worthy of discussion.

“I don’t think providing education for kids ought to be something you see a board constantly wrangling over,” he said. “If it would make the wrangling on the school board go away, I’d say do it in a heartbeat. But I’m not sure that’s going to do that.”

The senator said his desire is to see the school board operate as a cohesive unit.

“And realize you’re going to have differences of opinion, but one thing I think all elected bodies ought to learn, at least when you’re in public you need to be respectful of your fellow board members. If you’re going to argue and work out problems, it doesn’t need to be a public spectacle. People have to individually commit themselves to the resolution of differences in an adult manner instead of trying to fire off volleys at one another and see who can insult the other to the greatest extent. You need to No. 1 define the problem, and then you need to work toward a common solution.”

That doesn’t mean you’ll always agree, he said.

Betty Gray

“There were times Betty Gray was my closest ally. There were times Betty and I didn’t vote the same way. But we were always friends, and that’s what we agreed on right from the start was that regardless of what the outcome was, when the discussion was over Betty Gray and I were still going to be friends, and we stayed that way the entire time.”

ON THE LEFT: The Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the two Democrats vying to unseat Georgia’s Republican U.S. senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, rallied at the Cobb Civic Center on Sunday. Wilkerson said his truck was turned into a makeshift platform, with a lectern hauled up on the truck bed in which to speak from.

“The crowd was energetic. It was pretty amazing. That parking lot was full of cars and people. It was easily a couple hundred,” he said.

Wilkerson has high hopes for the Dems winning the special election.

“I would put it as our best shot in years of winning a special election,” he said.

Speaking of Ossoff, he’s hosting a drive-thru yard sign pick-up event in Marietta at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Supporters have the chance to meet Ossoff safely from their cars while wearing masks and receive an “Ossoff for Senate” yard sign. The event is at Turner Chapel AME Church, 492 North Marietta Parkway, Marietta.

UNCORKED: Friends of Kennesaw Mountain is hosting a meet & greet from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the Marietta Wine Market. The public is invited to stop by and meet the group, along with Patrick Gamman, the new superintendent of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.

There will be a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres, plus live music. Cost: $10. Location: 18 Powder Springs St SW, Marietta, GA 30064.

COVID-19 protocols will be followed, so wear a mask.

AROUND TOWN: Preserving our history

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Superintendent Grant Rivera gave former Marietta Councilman Anthony Coleman and George Miller a sneak peek of the renovations underway at their old elementary school Friday, which both men attended during the days of segregation.

Miller attended Lemon Street Elementary School in the early 1950s and Coleman in the early 1960s.

“We had students here from Kennesaw, from Acworth, from Smyrna, from Powder Springs, Austell,” Miller said.

Coleman, who lived in an apartment complex where the Marietta Police Department is now, recalled walking down the sidewalk to the school every morning.

“I remember at this particular school how passionate the teachers were about teaching and about us learning and getting a quality education,” Coleman said, mentioning his history teacher, Harvey Maxwell.

“I’ll tell you, he was a disciplinarian too. He didn’t play. Those teachers back in the day, they came to your house to talk to your parents. He’d walk down here to where we live to talk to my parents about what I needed to be improving in. If I was acting up and carrying on in school or whatever,” Coleman said.

Miller said after completing grades 1-5 at the elementary school, there used to be a building in the back where he attended grades 6-8. He then headed across the street where the segregated Lemon Street High School building used to be.

“I feel I got an A-1 education,” said Miller, a retired postmaster who lives in Marietta.

The first Black students to attend the all-white Marietta High School from Lemon Street were Daphne Delk and Treville Grady in August of 1964.

Reflecting on this time in elementary school, Coleman said, “The first thing we did in the morning at the school was the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. No. 2 was roll call. No. 3 was we had prayer.”

Rivera said the elementary school had different uses over the years after integration. When he arrived in 2017, it was used as storage for maintenance and for old files.

His second day on the job as superintendent, Rivera said someone came to meet him wanting to know if he would sell the property so they could build a townhome development.

“I didn’t know much on my second day as superintendent, but what I knew was we weren’t going to be tearing down a building that really had a whole lot of history and a whole lot of heart to it,” Rivera said.

At that point, he began to learn more about the history of the building. He was initially told it couldn’t be saved. A second and third opinion said it could be. So the district opted to renovate and furnish the building for a cost of $3.7 million. The plan is to open it to students in spring semester.

Across the street is the Performance Learning Center, a supplement for Marietta High School students, where they can take both in person and online classes. The PLC building also has an alternative program for students who are suspended. Those 100 to 150 students will move into the renovated Lemon Street Elementary building beginning in February.

“We’ll have some type of event for the community when we feel like it’s safe to do such,” Rivera said.

Rivera said the long-term plan was to build a replica of the former Lemon Street High School building on the grassy field where it once stood, using that building as a new central office. But the pandemic threw a wrench in those plans, and at the moment, the district is watching its revenues before embarking on that next project.

Following the tour of his old elementary school, Miller said, “It’s like having flashbacks. Good flashbacks. We actually had good times here.”

He said his grandchildren already know about the building but he plans to bring them to see it once it’s been renovated.

Coleman called it a blessing his old elementary school wasn’t bulldozed and turned into another townhome development.

“I just feel God would have this history be here for future generations that we can share with my grandkids, my son, tell them this is where we went to elementary school, this is way before your time, how things were back then, and have a conservation about it.”

Rivera said he looks forward to bringing his own daughters to tour the building once it’s finished.

“There will be historical panels on the walls, stories and a way in which we honor everyone who’s been through this building before. It will be something I’ll be really proud of because I don’t think there are many opportunities for us to tell a story like Lemon Street to future generations. That history cannot be lost, and when I think of all the things the legacy of what I want my daughters to remember is this community cared enough about the generations before it to tell that story, and that’s something that as a life lesson will go so far beyond just a textbook.”

SPEAKER CIRCUIT: The Kiwanis Club of Marietta has a strong lineup of guest speakers for the club’s next Thursday luncheons:

Dr. Michael Andrews, director of oncology at WellStar Health Systems, will be Nov. 19.

Cobb County’s own Vic Reynolds, former local district attorney before Gov. Brian Kemp tapped him to be director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, will be Dec. 3.

And on Dec. 10, speaker will be Watson Bryant, attorney for Richard Jewell in the 1996 Olympic bombings case. The Jewell case has received renewed scrutiny due to the Clint Eastwood produced and directed movie “Richard Jewell.” Actor Sam Rockwell played Bryant in the 2019 biographical drama film.

POLITICAL PLATTER: The Cobb County Republican Women’s Club will have their last monthly meeting for the year Nov. 20, featuring Phil Kent on “The Future of the Republican Party in Georgia.”

Kent is the CEO and publisher of Insider Advantage Georgia and James Magazine and panelist on Georgia Gang. National Federation of Republican Women President Ann Schockett will also attend. There will be a special reception for her prior to the meeting from 11 to 11:30 a.m. The luncheon is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hilton Marietta Conference Center. Attendees are asked to wear a mask while going through the food line and not move dining chairs to ensure the event complies with the facility’s COVID-19 precautions.

For more information and to make reservations, visit

Kennesaw police are asking for the community’s help in supporting families in need this holiday season.

Kennesaw Police Department’s Jerry Worthan Christmas Fund provides assistance for less fortunate families in the Kennesaw area.

Police are asking for donations of money, food and new toys. Donations can be dropped off 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at Kennesaw Police Department headquarters, 2529 J.O. Stephenson Ave. Monetary donations can be mailed to Kennesaw Police Department, Attn: Officer Scott Luther, 2539 J.O. Stephenson Ave., Kennesaw GA. 30144. Checks should be payable to the Kennesaw Police Foundation. The deadline for all donations is Dec. 18.

Additional drop-off locations in Kennesaw will be at Conner Dental, at 1200 Barrett Parkway, Suite 200-204, Desktop Coworking Community at 3070 North Main Street, Turquoise Otter located at 2237 Whitfield Place NW, and Eaton Chiropractic, 2847 Main St. If you or someone you know needs assistance this Christmas season, contact the department’s records division at 770-429-4532.


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"History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” Mark Twain observed.

In the aftermath of the Nov. 3 election, which swept from office Republican County Chairman Mike Boyce, Republican Sheriff Neil Warren, Republican District Attorney Joyette Holmes and Republican Superior Court Clerk Rebecca Keaton, Twain’s quote or something like it is bound to be in the thoughts of those who remember the last time Democrats controlled Cobb County in the early 1980s.

The first Republican to be elected to a countywide office in Cobb was Tom Charron, who unseated Democrat District Attorney Buddy Darden in 1976.

Charron said when he ran for office, the population and power concentration in Cobb was primarily around the city of Marietta. But with the explosion of the suburbs in east Cobb and later west Cobb, things began to change and that growth brought Republicans.

In 1984, Earl Smith, namesake of the Earl Smith Strand Theatre, was elected the first Republican chairman of the county commission. Accompanied by Commissioners Emmett Burton and Barbara Williams, “the GOP for the first time had a three-to-two majority on the county commission,” according to Tom Scott’s “Cobb County, Georgia and the Origins of the Suburban South.”

By defeating Chairman Boyce, Commissioner Lisa Cupid will be the first Democrat elected county chair since the highly regarded Ernest Barrett gave up the seat in 1984. She’s also the first woman and first African American to serve as chair. And joined by newly elected Democrats Jerica Richardson and Monique Sheffield, she will govern a board that is majority Democrat and majority African American. Not to mention with existing Republican Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Keli Gambrill, the commission will also be entirely female.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes

In a chat with Around Town, Georgia’s last Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, who like Charron has been around long enough to see Cobb’s changing political tides, offered a few words of advice for how best to move forward now that Democrats are back in charge of the county.

“One of the great things about Cobb County is even when the Democrats and Republicans were changing from Democrats to Republicans, there was one thing that we had in common,” Barnes said. “If it affected Cobb County, and it was good for Cobb County, all of us were going to support it, whether it was Democratic or Republican.”

Take for example how the first local option sales tax came to be, he said. When Smith was elected chairman, the county’s elected leaders got together.

“Earl Smith came to us and he said, ‘I got to have some money for some roads and bridges and all. Is there anything y'all can do?’”

The county had considerable muscle in the General Assembly with Democrat Joe Mack Wilson, who chaired the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Democrat Al Burruss of Marietta, who was House majority leader; Republican Johnny Isakon, who was House minority leader; and Barnes, Senate floor leader for Gov. Joe Frank Harris.

One Sunday afternoon after church, Barnes said Burruss and Wilson came over to his office.

“I had a long table, and Al Burruss and I wrote that bill out — the first SPLOST — in long hand,” Barnes said.

Barnes said he typed it up that very night.

“The next morning I took it to all of them, to Johnny and to Joe Mack and Al, and I said, ‘I think this works.’ And I said, 'We’re going to have to have a constitutional amendment now,' but I said, ‘I can deliver two thirds in the Senate.’ I had a pretty good handle on that then.”

Paul Coverdell was Senate minority leader at the time, and despite being in different political parties, one of Barnes’ best friends. Barnes later did the eulogy at his funeral.

“Johnny and I went to see Paul together. I said, ‘Paul, look at this. I think I can get enough Democrats, but I’m going to lose some Democrats and to get two-thirds vote, I have to have all of y'all (Republicans).”

Barnes said there were nine Republicans in the Senate at the time.

“But anyway, we did it and that is the way that got passed. And it was very close in the House. And that was for a Republican chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Cobb County. He’s the one that came to us about it, and we all worked together and that’s how we did it. That was the Cobb Way.”

Barnes said Cobb voters were the first in Georgia to approve the local option sales tax in 1985.

“And that’s how we built Barrett Parkway. That’s how we built all of these other things, the East-West Connector. Imagine what we would be like without all of this? How we did all of the widening and all of the improvements that we did. And it was all of us working together,” Barnes said. “Johnny and I and Joe Mack and Al would sit down and make up lists of projects that the county needed, and I never will forget this. Joe Mack told me one time, he said, ‘Now you realize all this is doing is just going to bring in more Republicans?’ And I said, ‘Yes, that's probably true.’ I said, ‘But Joe, we’ve got to do it.’ He said, 'I know.'"

So yes, Barnes said, history rhymes. And you have to get along with each other.

“If you don’t say ‘Listen, we’re going to do what’s best for Cobb County regardless,’ then you’re not going to grow, and you’re not going to prosper, and that’s the message that needs to be learned here,” Barnes said. “There’s always a little revenge — a feeling of revenge: ‘Remember what they did to us and such and such.’ Well, that may be so, but you have to put it aside and you have to say, ‘Am I just going to be an empty seat in the General Assembly or on the school board or commission? Or am I going to actually do something during the time that I’m there? And I always said, ‘What's the use of being elected if you can’t do something?’”

TRANSITION IN GRACE: Making his first public comments since losing his reelection bid, County Chairman Mike Boyce congratulated Chairwoman-elect Lisa Cupid at the close of Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

He also noted that almost 400,000 Cobb residents voted in the election — a record — and called it a “great example of true democracy in action.”

The outgoing Republican then turned his sights on his fellow elected officials. See if you can guess who he’s talking about.

“But I think it’s also important that as part of this process, that we have a transition in grace. That we acknowledge the voice of the people, we hear them and we move on.

Mike Boyce

“I think Commissioner Cupid knows that I stand ready and able to assist her in this transition, in every aspect of this important role that she’s about to assume … because it’s for the best interest of the people of Cobb County that we have this transition in grace.

“And I hope that this message gets loud and clear to our national and our state leaders: That this transition in grace is part of the election process.

“I find it extraordinary that four years ago nobody complained about the results of the election, and yet four years later, we have people who question the integrity of the voting process because they lost.

"That doesn’t reflect well of leadership. That doesn’t happen in Cobb County. That’s not going to happen in Cobb County as long as I’m the chairman. … We are different here in Cobb County because the people themselves are such decent, wonderful and caring people and they expect that of us as (leaders), that we do all we can to make this transition in grace, so that when (Cupid) assumes the leadership on Jan. 1, it will be without any kind of interruption.

“So tomorrow, we celebrate Veterans Day. As you know I’m a veteran, as is Commissioner (Bob) Ott. … Tomorrow I just think it’s a great time to remember, if nothing else, what this country stands for: that although veterans fought for freedom, and still fight for freedom, we all fight for freedom in our own ways. And one of the ways to do that is to acknowledge the will and the voice of the people. And to continue, and to encourage, what I call this transition in grace.”

Jon Ossoff, left, and U.S. Sen. David Perdue

You may remember the three “Rs” as Reading, ‘Riting and “Rithmetic, but for Georgians this holiday season, Santa’s bringing Races, Recounts and Runoffs.

Georgia’s razor-thin margins posted in Tuesday’s election has nationwide implications. We’re already seeing television advertising for the runoff in the Senate between Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock. Sen. David Perdue’s lead over Democrat Jon Ossoff dipped below the 50% margin. If that holds, both races will be on the Jan. 5 runoff ballot. And the miniscule margin held by Democrat Joe Biden in his race with President Trump is well within recount territory.

At the time of this writing, U.S. Senate seats are deadlocked at 48 Republican, 48 Democrat with the results of Georgia and North Carolina’s seats still hanging fire.

So, imagine Georgia’s Jan. 5 runoff, especially if a Senate majority hangs in the balance: the nationwide attention, the campaign dollars flowing into Georgia from both parties, the constant advertising leading up to the race. Hang on, it will be wild.

Other takeaways from this historic election:

LADIES FIRST: Not only will the Cobb commission have a 3-2 Democrat majority, the chair and four district commissioners will be all female.

Dems were also victorious in the top law enforcement and court positions, displacing Republicans in the positions of sheriff, district attorney and Superior Court clerk. Gone are the days when Cobb picked its elected leaders during the Republican primaries.

BUCKING THE TREND: But Democrats failed to make any gains on the Cobb school board and Cobb’s legislative delegation, where incumbents held their seats.

Brad Wheeler

David Banks

Randy Scamihorn

That’s a head scratcher … why did the Dem sweep not penetrate those races? One theory is “all politics are local,” and those seats were contested in small districts while the notable Democrat victories came in county-wide votes.

Regarding the three school board races, Republicans Brad Wheeler, Randy Scamihorn and David Banks bucked the Blue Wave. Some opine the tumult on the previously unified board created by Democrats Jaha Howard (taking a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance) and Charisse Davis created a backlash that drove conservatives to the polls.

As Cobb GOP Chairman Jason Shepherd remarked: “I want to thank school board members Jaha Howard and (Charisse) Davis for their antics which caused many people to split their votes and continue to keep the Cobb County School Board in GOP hands.”

MDJ online columnist Oliver Halle believes many voters feared the Democrat school board members’ willingness to revisit the senior tax exemption that gives those 62 and older a break on paying school taxes. While the Democrats never proposed doing away with the exemption, they have made overtures of “taking another look” at it since Davis was elected two years ago. That was enough, Halle proffers, to tilt the ballot in the GOP incumbents’ favor. People vote with their wallets.

PENNIES SAVED: Two-thirds of Cobb County voters see the merit in the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, with 254,035 voting to extend the 1% sales tax for another six years after the current SPLOST expires at the end of 2021.

TOP OF THE BALLOT: Around Town always likes to report the top vote-getter on the Cobb ballot. That honor goes to …. Republican incumbent Carla Jackson, who ran unopposed for Cobb tax commissioner. The 2020 title holder garnered 295,759 votes, with about 1,000 ballots left to be counted. And if you need more evidence that Cobb has flipped from right to left, the contested race top vote-getter honor goes to Joe Biden, who tallied 221,234 votes to President Trump’s 164,965.

Carla Jackson

BEES NEST: When historians look back on this era of American politics, they will refer to it as the Trump Phenomenon because President Donald Trump “as a candidate, as a president, is different from anything we’ve ever seen before in so many ways.”

That’s according to Kerwin Swint, a wizard of political science at Kennesaw State University, who served as guest speaker at the Kiwanis Club of Marietta just two days after Tuesday’s historic election.

“President Trump is one of the most consequential, significant leaders of the last 50 years. He’s inspired millions to follow him and fight for him because they believe he fights for them,” Swint told the masked, socially distanced Kiwanians at their Thursday luncheon.

“So in an important sense, he is an inspirational leader to millions of Americans and millions of voters. However, he has also engendered incredible hatred by those who oppose him. It’s incredible, the anti-Trump feelings that many Americans have … ”

Swint explained that Trump’s relationship with the national press has worked against him for the last five years.

“He’s drawn the hatred of the media. Now, some of that, or maybe all of that, is self-inflicted. He chose the media as an opponent and has constantly fought with them and poked at them. So it’s no surprise they poke right back. And they’ve given him some of the worst coverage that a candidate’s ever had in American history.”

Despite the challenges, Trump’s position as a political outsider allowed him to accomplish many things career politicians can’t — or won’t — do, Swint explained. But those same accomplishments can come at a cost.

“He ... poked the Washington bureaucracy — what do you call it? — the swamp. He exposed what he calls the deep state. He exposed a lot of what’s going on in the federal bureaucracy and what we call the ... military industrial complex, the intelligence community. He’s poked a lot of bees nests ... and it pokes back, you know, so that’s a dangerous thing to do.”

Closer to home, Swint, who is chair of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at KSU, explained the transition from Republican to Democrat in Cobb County has been brewing for years.

“I’m a longtime Cobb County guy (Swint’s lived in Cobb for 24 years) and I’ve seen this blue wave coming for a while now. It’s not hard to see, and, that blue wave in Cobb County showed up in 2020, right? It’s here and in Cobb County along with Gwinnett County along with DeKalb County and other metro Atlanta, suburban counties ... you can say it’s now a Democrat county …

Although he said Cobb may no longer be red, the GOP shouldn’t despair.

“It doesn’t mean Republicans are dead in the water. (GOP candidates) can win elections with good candidates, good messages, money. You can still win elections. You can still be competitive. ... That means that both parties, Republicans and Democrats, really have to work hard, raising money, finding good candidates, having good messages and getting out there and knocking on doors …”

GAME DAY: On Monday, the day before Election Day, state Rep. Matt Dollar, R-east Cobb, who was in a contested race for re-election against Sara Tindall Ghazal, had an important question for the entire state Legislature.

“Representative Dollar is looking for an extra pair of Georgia-Florida tickets. If your member is not using them, could you please contact our office?” one of his assistants said in an email that was sent to all state House and Senate employees.

The email was followed by another email recalling it, but it was too late. Several elected officials and other state office employees had seen the message, and it was circulating on Twitter.

As of Friday, Dollar was easily leading with 19,263 votes or 54.8%, compared to Ghazal’s 15,884.

RIDING WITH THE BLUE: Cobb Police Department will host a “Riding with the Blue” charity poker run on Sunday at the Cobb Safety Village. This event will benefit SWAT Santa, which assists families who experience financial hardships during the holiday season. There is a $20 admission fee per motorcycle and there will be free T-shirts for the first 75 motorcycles.

Event schedule:

♦ Noon: Registration

♦ 1 p.m.: Poker run, including four stops

♦ 4 p.m.: Poker run celebration

The Cobb Safety Village is located at 1220 Al Bishop Drive, Marietta. For more information or to register email or

WHAT NOW? The Cobb GOP’s monthly breakfast program Saturday features Jan Jones, speaker pro tempore; Sue Everhart, former Georgia GOP chair; Amy Kremer, chair, Women for America First; moderated by Julianne Thompson. The program is a conversation on the future of Georgia Republican politics, what happened in the election and how to make a difference in the recount.

You can come in person or watch the live stream at Due to COVID-19, all attendees must have purchased an advance ticket. Doors open at 8 a.m.

Neil Warren

Craig Owens

Mike Boyce

Lisa Cupid

Lucy McBath

What will Tuesday election results reveal? With so much propaganda out there from candidates, commercials and campaign operatives, Around Town turned to elections specialist Kerwin Swint to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Karen Handel

Swint, a political scientist at Kennesaw State University, is already on record projecting President Donald Trump will carry Georgia.

David Perdue

Jon Ossoff

He also says it’s very likely Cobb County will see another blue wave.

Cobb was soaked with the first blue wave in 2016 when the county went for Hillary Clinton. The wave got even bigger in 2018 when Democrat Stacey Abrams, running for governor, won the county.

File PhotosU.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, left, and Rev. Raphael Warnock, right, are headed for a runoff in one of two contested Senate seats in Georgia. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, center, called Loeffler to concede and support her campaign around 10:30 p.m. on Election Day, his campaign confirmed.

"It really is trending blue, and frankly, that endangers a lot of Republican candidates: county offices, legislative offices, you know, the trend lines are a threat, there’s no doubt.”

The only thing Swint believes could slow the wave is if the Trump campaign is able to convince everyone and their sister to turn out for him.

“If Trump can have a huge turnout for the presidential it could possibly drag people across the finish line who originally would suffer defeat,” he said.

That’s not to say Republicans can’t win.

“They can win. The right candidates. The right message. Enough money. They can still be competitive, but it’s a challenge for them, no doubt."

SHERIFF'S RACE: Looking at the race between Republican Sheriff Neil Warren and Cobb Police Maj. Craig Owens, a Democrat, it would seem the sheriff is in trouble. Warren doesn’t just have a county trending blue to worry about. He has the added burden of being in the headlines for the past two years due to inmates who have died while in his custody.

“It’s a PR nightmare. And it’s a lot to overcome,” Swint said.

That former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, libertarian Trump supporter Lance Lamberton and the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge are all backing Owens is not a good sign for Warren.

CHAIRMAN'S RACE: Turning to the race for chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners, the candidates are incumbent Republican Mike Boyce and Democrat Commissioner Lisa Cupid.

“I would say Boyce’s prospects might be a little bit brighter because he’s been very transparent, he’s been very open, he’s not seen as an ideologue. Of course, the same Democratic blue wave could sweep Cupid into office too, but I just think that Boyce has perhaps more of a fighting chance,” Swint said.

COBB BOARD OF EDUCATION: What of Cobb's school board? The board became bitterly divided with the election of highly partisan Democrats Jaha Howard and Charisse Davis two years ago. The board is now split with four Republicans and three Democrats. Three Republicans are on the ballot Tuesday: Chairman Brad Wheeler and board members David Banks and Randy Scamihorn. All it takes is for one of them to lose for the board to flip to Democrat control.

“There’s much less consensus on the board than there was in the last couple years. The new members have brought an aggressive partisanship, an aggressive ideology to the board, which is new,” Swint said. "If it flips, though, I would attribute it to the rising blue wave in Cobb and not necessarily to anything the newer board members have been able to accomplish or communicate." 

Cobb GOP Chairman Jason Shepherd has been sounding the alarm about the threat of the school board flipping Democrat and allowing left-wingers like Davis to control the school system and replace Superintendent Chris Ragsdale. Shepherd has also warned about the Cobb Board of Commissioners turning Democrat if east Cobb picks Democrat Jerica Richardson and the county chooses Cupid as chair.

Most significantly, Shepherd argues if the Cobb Legislative Delegation is in Democrat hands next year, the year redistricting occurs, Democrats will gerrymander the lines to keep Republicans out of office. The stakes are huge.

“He’s absolutely right," Swint said. "The stakes are huge right now and all of those things he said could happen. That would be significant for the county."

But let's not forget this isn't the first time the county was switched from one party controlling Cobb County to another. 

Folks of a certain age like former U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden, D-Marietta, and former Gov. Roy Barnes were around when the county was controlled by Democrats up through the 1970s and '80s before changing to Republican control. Now that it appears to be changing back to Democrat again, what is the takeaway?

“Well nothing is forever. Vote trends change. It takes along with it communities, counties, legislative majorities. It looks like it’s going to flip back Democratic, but this isn’t the party of Buddy Darden anymore. The party of Roy Barnes represented a different kind of Democratic Party than the one that is rising right now,” Swint said.

Today’s Democrat Party, left progressives, Swint described as those who believe in more redistribution of income policies and much higher taxes along with being focused on social-issues. In other words, much more to the left than your father’s Democratic party.

FEDERAL RACES: Looking at the federal races, such as that between U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, and former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, Swint believes Handel needs a strong Trump grass-roots turnout to survive.

“If she doesn't get that, I don’t think she can win that seat back,” he said.

In the race between U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, and Democrat Jon Ossoff, Swint, believes Perdue will win.

“I guess the big question is can he avoid a runoff in January?” he said, given the Libertarian candidate in the race.

“Then we’d have two U.S. Senate runoffs in January,” Swint said, referring to U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s race.

If the polling is accurate, Swint said Democrat Raphael Warnock will make it to the runoff in that race. Whether Loeffler or U.S. Rep. Doug Collins joins him is anyone’s guess. But one of them will, and once Republicans reunite in that runoff, Swint believes the Republican will take the seat.

“I’m pretty sure the Republican, whoever it is, will win that runoff."

Time will tell.

GIN AND TONIC:  If the Marietta City Council ends up allowing an open container district on Marietta Square, you don’t need to worry about being questioned should your beverage of choice be coffee or Coca-Cola, council members and a city police major said this week. 

Tuesday, council members Michelle Cooper Kelly and Cheryl Richardson revived the idea for an open container district, which would allow people to walk with alcoholic drinks on the sidewalks in part of downtown Marietta. The idea had council support last year but was struck down by the mayor’s veto.

Michelle Cooper Kelly

Kelly proposed creating a unique cup to help police identify those drinks following the new rules — the proposal as it stands would ban open bottles and cans of alcohol, and restrict the drinks to clear plastic cups. Currently, no alcoholic beverages are allowed in any type of open container on city public property, other than certain special events.

Councilman Johnny Walker asked what the proposal would mean for those who bring their own beverages to drink alcohol (as it stands, it wouldn’t be allowed):

“What about people who have their own cup, a Yeti or something?”

After some discussion, Richardson said there are already people bringing their own alcohol to the Square.

“It’s pretty much the same as right now,” Richardson said. “There is somebody walking around the park right now with a Yeti, and it’s got a gin and tonic in it, OK? And the police are not walking up to them and testing them. We are not going to stop those people. ... This isn’t about them.”

At this point, Mayor Steve Tumlin had a concern about the proposal, which led to this exchange:

Steve Tumlin

Tumlin: I’m against it —

Richardson: I know you are, Mayor —

Tumlin: No, don’t put words in my mouth, like you’ve told me. I meant, I’m against telling somebody they can’t walk outside with a Yeti.

Richardson: So you want to have outside open container ... so what are you saying, that somebody can bring a drink from their house, or bring it in their own cup?

Tumlin: I’m on the Square 60 hours a week at a minimum, and I walk outside with my Yeti of Coca-Cola. So I would be arrested for being a bootlegger?

Richardson: No, no, that’s not what I’m saying, Mr. Mayor.

Cheryl Richardson

Later, Richardson asked Marietta Police Maj. Jake King to confirm that police would not stop someone with a beverage container without probable cause.

“The actions of the person are way more important than the cup they’re carrying. We wouldn’t be stopping people just because they’re carrying a cup,” King said.

The clear cup restriction was tabled for the council to revisit next month. The mayor and council will consider authorizing a six-month trial for an open container district at a work session Nov. 9. If it moves forward from there, it will need a final vote on Nov. 11.

Three million Georgians have already cast their ballot in the Nov. 3 general election. Nearly a quarter of a million did so in Cobb (in-person and absentee) as of close of business Monday. That’s caused some insufferable wait times at the voting locations, especially in the early goings, although times have since come down.

Election central on Whitlock at around 10:30 a.m. Saturday saw a labyrinth of voters progressing in queue. On arrival, a poll worker was asked about the wait. He eyeballed the line and estimated 90 minutes to progress to the building’s entry.

Hazy skies, but no rain, made the sojourn tolerable weather-wise and volunteers kept those in line fed with offers of bottled water, cookies, candy, Granola bars and even a selection of tacos, beef and chicken, wrapped in tinfoil and handed out to the scores of voters.

Everyone donned a mask and gapped the line so as not to infringe on anyone’s social distance. Actual time of arrival for entry was one hour and 50 minutes, 20 minutes longer than the earlier estimate but within an acceptable margin of error.

The kick in the pants came from the poll worker ushering voters into the building. This individual felt obliged to chide the voters by informing them all other county voting sites had waits of around 20 minutes.

“I’ll bet you check the website for wait times next time you vote,” she chastised.

Well, yes, but wouldn’t that have been good information to share at the front —not the end — of the line?

BAMBI ALERT: Watch out for deer on or near roads as we enter peak deer activity season this fall, advises the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“Motorists should be alert and pay close attention to roadsides as we are nearing the annual peak time of year for deer movement,” said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist. “Keep in mind that deer often travel in groups, so if a deer crosses the road ahead of you there is a good chance that another will follow. In many cases, that second deer is the one hit as the driver assumes the danger has passed and fails to slow down.”

The DNR says there are two main reasons why drivers may see more deer along roads in the fall:

  • Mating season occurs between October and late December, depending on location.
  • Rush hour for most commuters tends to fall during the same hours in which white-tailed deer are most active — dawn and dusk.

SCHOOL BOARD FORUM: The East and South Cobb PTA councils are hosting a school board candidate forum on Thursday. 

The virtual forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Leaders from both PTA councils, as well as a pair of high school students, will moderate.

The meeting ID is: 823-4679-3448. The passcode is: 043533.

SPEAKER CIRCUIT: Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler will speak on “Trends in the South Cobb Labor Market” during a talk to the South Cobb Area Council of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

The meeting is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Riverside EpiCenter, 135 Riverside Parkway in Austell.

EAT YOUR VEGGIES: State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, notes Georgia Grown returns to Cobb County on Friday.

“Back in the Spring I was honored to be a part of the first Georgia Grown event in Cobb, where we sold 1000's of boxes of veggies and fruits, which were grown by our Georgia Farmers,” Reeves said in a Facebook post. “The effort has continued throughout the summer and spring, to help our Georgia Farmers sell their harvest.”

Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, go to Williamson Brothers BBQ, get in the drive-thru there, and pay $20 for a box of delicious vegetables.

For every box purchased, a donation will be made to the Davis Direction Foundation and Feed Marietta.

A BLUE SANTA:  The Cobb County Police Department is set to host a pair of community events to raise money for SWAT SANTA, an effort to deliver Christmas gifts to families in need across the county. On Sunday, Cobb police will hold their “Cool Cars and Cops” event at the Safety Village near the fairgrounds from noon until 4 p.m., featuring a car show, a kids costume contest, food trucks and prizes.

“It is our hope with the help from our community, that we will be able to bring some much-needed Christmas joy to so many children whose families might be experiencing financial hardships,” Cobb police wrote in a Facebook event.

Community members who want to show off their cars at the car show can contact Officer Raymond Granell by email at or Sgt. Larry White at There is a $10 entry fee for participating vehicles. The event is free for spectators.

The event will take place at the same time as “Riding with the Blue,” an opportunity for motorcyclists to participate in a “charity poker run” with four stops. That event is scheduled for noon at Safety Village. Admission fee is $20 per motorcycle, and the first 75 bikers will receive T-shirts.

MASKED PARADE: Show off your spooktacular masks and costumes and say a socially distanced hello to your favorite costumed librarians during South Cobb Library's Masked Parade on Saturday.

The parade is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. around the perimeter of the library. The library will give out goodie bags with a craft and treat, while supplies last.

All participants must follow social distancing guidelines and stay with their family group during the parade. Children must be accompanied by a parent/caregiver. South Cobb Library is located at 805 Clay Road, Mableton. For more information, call 678-398-5834.

ENDORSEMENTS: State Rep. Mary Frances Williams, D-Marietta, who is being challenged by former Cobb GOP Chair Rose Wing, is trumpeting her endorsement by Stacey Abrams.

“I am proud to announce this endorsement from Stacey Abrams. Her leadership continues to inspire, and it’s an honor to be listed among so many impressive representatives and candidates. We must continue to vote, volunteer, and support leaders that are committed to a better, brighter future for all Georgians,” Williams writes on Facebook. ... Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico, who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor against Geoff Duncan before striking out in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by David Perdue, has endorsed Democrat Flynn Broady for Cobb district attorney. 

ON THE RIGHT: U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler is holding a meet and greet Saturday in Smyrna. 

The event is from noon to 1 p.m. at Adventure Outdoors, 2500 South Cobb Drive. To RSVP:

ON THE LEFT: Cobb Democrats running for countywide office: Lisa Cupid for county chair, Craig Owens for sheriff, Flynn Broady for district attorney and Connie Taylor for Superior Court clerk will hold a rally at 10 a.m. Saturday at 591 Cherokee St. in Marietta. 

GRADING THE GOV'NA: In a report on the nation's governors, the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council has good things to say about Georgia's.

Here's what the "Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom" wrote about Gov. Brian Kemp:

Georgia continues its position as one of the leading states of the “New South” in Gov. Brian Kemp’s coveted second-place ranking out of all 50 governors. After taking office in 2019, Gov. Kemp ranks among the top 10 governors in fiscal policy and economic performance. Gov. Kemp also ranks sixth for his efforts in making Georgia well-prepared for unforeseen economic shocks. Georgia’s budget shortfall was one of the lowest of any state during the COVID-19 pandemic, due in large part to the Governor’s leadership in re-opening the economy, and well-managed state savings allowed Georgia to avoid more painful spending cuts. Ample state savings also allowed Georgia to provide aid to workers and businesses hurt by the economic shutdown without raising taxes. Gov. Kemp’s leadership prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed Georgia to emerge from the crisis better prepared than nearly any other state. Gov. Kemp has also shown leadership in resisting calls for a federal bailout of the states.

Brian Kemp

Taryn Bowman

Erick Allen

Taryn Bowman released her plan to address the Sterigenics stink this week, and it has set off quite the online food fight.

A little background: Bowman is the Republican challenging state Rep. Erick Allen, D-Smyrna, on Nov. 3.

Sterigenics is the embattled medical device sterilization company whose Smyrna plant has drawn sizable community opposition after a 2019 report in Georgia Health News, which found an elevated risk of cancer in surrounding communities due to its use of ethylene oxide in the sterilization process.

If elected, Bowman pledged she would draft a bill offering Streigenics tax credits on the condition it:

♦ Relocate to a rural area in the state, presumably where its toxic gas is less likely to kill anybody;

♦ Employ the same number of people at the new location as it did in Smyrna;

♦ Stay in Georgia for at least 10 years;

♦ Sell its existing facility “within a reasonable time period”;

♦ And clean up the existing facility.

Allen, who had bragged just days earlier in this paper’s voter guide about having taken on Sterigenics, apparently didn’t like Bowman stepping on his turf.

“The plan released today by my opponent is ill-informed and offensive to our rural neighbors,” Allen began in a Facebook post.

“Drafting a plan that does nothing to address the Ethylene Oxide issue is offensive,” he continued. “I don’t care if you are in the city, the suburbs, or rural Georgia, you and your family deserve to have clean air, clean water and clean soil. We should not pay polluters to move to another part of the state to protect just our family … that is simply privilege manifested in the worst way.”

Allen pledged to continue to fight for all Georgia families, making sure regulation and standards are enforced by the EPD, EPA and FDA.

“If the companies will not meet them (which we know they won’t) they leave and we don’t have to give them our tax dollars to do so,” he said.

Bowman shot back on Allen’s Facebook page, posting that he had “now been unveiled as someone who has no plan to solve the problem of Sterigenics.

“The reality is that you have had two years and have done nothing and still have no plan. Is that the result of laziness or incompetence?” Bowman asked. “You complain in shallowness about bureaucratic agencies needing to do more. My plan gets Sterigenics out of here. Your whining and simpering does not.”

All the while, Bowman’s political consultant, Mark Rountree, was sparring with Allen’s supporters on Facebook.

(Bowman has spent about $15,000 with Rountree’s Landmark Communications, according to the most recent elections contribution filing.)

Allen apparently didn’t like that either as Rountree claimed Allen blocked him on social media.

“Rep. Erick Allen blocked me from commenting on his page when I called him out for his provably false claims that he has sponsored or cosponsored successful legislation. He hasn’t,” Rountree wrote. “Rep Allen has repeatedly and publicly claimed that he has passed threepieces of legislation — which is patently and probably untrue,” Rountree continued. “When Erick Allen was asked to specifically cite the pieces of legislation that he sponsored or cosponsored successfully, he refused to do it. When I repeated the question, Erick Allen then blocked me — which is illegal because his social media account is used to discuss official matters such as this. There is tremendous legal and established precedent that elected officials, previously including Donald Trump♦ , cannot block citizens on pages where official business is used for discussion.”

Indeed, a quick review of legislation Allen has cosponsored shows that the only such bill ultimately signed by the governor was one to change the salary of the executive assistant to the clerk of the State Court of Cobb County.

But, Allen said in response to a constituent’s question on Facebook, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In January he filed legislation as he promised in his town halls, a bill he said was buried in committee without a hearing.

“After countless conversations with the Governor’s staff and pressure from the community the Governor’s office decided it had to move forward but would not allow my bill to move forward,” he continued.

Allen said the governor’s floor leaders introduced identical bills in both the House and Senate in March.

“However there was one glaring omission … they both excluded the public transparency pieces.”

Allen said he chose not to worry that his name wasn’t on the bill “because that would definitely kill it, but my mission became making sure we (got) the full transparency language added back in. ... I thank Sen. Brian Strickland ... for his openness and collaboration to get the best bill we could for all Georgians.

“I stand by my claim that my language that I worked on all summer, appealed to EPD for feedback, explained the value to the Governor’s staff … is the same language that was passed. So yes, 2 things can be true. My name is no where on the bill that were passed because of politics but also the facts bear out that I drafted the legislation, I lobbied for the legislation, and what was passed is a win for our community even though it has become a political landmine for me, but so be it. Right is Right!”

Larry Savage

Fitz Johnson

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: East Cobb’s Larry Savage, former candidate for Cobb Commission chair, has weighed in on the race to replace retiring Commissioner Bob Ott. The candidates are Democrat Jerica Richardson or Republican Fitz Johnson.

“Both are attractive and accomplished, although Johnson has a stronger resume with his military service and corporate success against Richardson’s corporate position with its somewhat amorphous title,” Savage says on his Facebook page.

Jerica Richardson

Savage highlights another measure of Richardson he believes should be considered decisive: She has served as campaign manager for such Democrats as Jaha Howard.

“Dr. Howard has distinguished himself mainly as a disruptive force on the school board,” Savage said. “Most recently, he intentionally disrespected our country by stepping away from the dais to ‘take a knee’ during the ritual Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the regular Board meeting. That seems typical for Dr. Howard, with his priority being publicity for himself rather than the serious business of the school board. That act bordered on repudiation of the Oath (of) Office sworn by every elected official in this state to defend the state and Federal constitutions.”

(Howard is quoted in the AJC as saying he kneeled during the pledge in protest of conditions at the county jail.)

Savage goes on to say Howard will continue to be troublesome until he is hopefully removed in the next election.

“Jerica Richardson successfully helped to lift Dr. Howard into public office. I expect that the two share philosophies of ‘public service’. I am deeply concerned about the risk of electing someone from that line of thought to the influential position of County Commissioner. I suggest strongly that voters in District 2 vote to elect Fitz Johnson as the next commissioner to replace Bob Ott.”

The post set off a conversation in which Richardson herself, who is on Facebook more than Mark Zuckerberg, offered up her phone number.

“Regardless of where your support sits, I would be happy to speak with you and answer any questions or discuss any points for clarification. I do open office hours three times a week, and you can text/call 404-969-5116,” she cheerfully posted.

Cobb school board member Jaha Howard kneels during the Pledge of Allegiance.

ENDORSEMENTS: The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has endorsed U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, in his bid for re-election.

The chamber announced the endorsement Thursday, crediting Perdue with an “outstanding record of defending free enterprise, creating jobs, and supporting small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.”

SPEAKER CIRCUIT: Jesse Evans, deputy chief assistant district attorney, is the keynote speaker at Monday’s Metro Marietta Kiwanis Club.

Evans will speak on cold cases being solved and prosecuted in Cobb County.

The meeting, which begins at noon, is virtual. You must make a reservation to have access to the meeting. For more information or to make a reservation for the meeting, email and provide your name and email address so the club can provide the access code to the meeting.

WELLSTAR WAIT TIMES: A Letter to the Editor published in the MDJ recently raised more than a few eyebrows over at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

MDJ reader Donald Simon of Marietta had penned a letter that began thusly: “I called Wellstar to ask how long it takes to get results from a COVID-19 test and they said up to seven days …” Mr. Simon went on to say that Wellstar, which he described as “a huge, overall well-run health care system” should be able to do better than that.

The letter published Thursday morning and it was but a few hours before the PR department for Wellstar was on the horn with the MDJ.

The wait time mentioned was inaccurate, Wellstar said, pointing out that the turnaround for COVID-19 test results is one to two days, not near the seven Mr. Simon cited.

In fact, the Wellstar team performs about 1,000 COVID tests each day.

“Of these, half are being performed in-house for critical patient scenarios and have a turnaround time of less than four hours. The other half are conducted with lab partners for less critical patient scenarios and have a turnaround time of 1 to 2 days. With very few exceptions, 99% of our test results are available within these timeframes. In some limited situations, the results could take longer, for example, if additional review is needed,” a statement issued by Wellstar said.

It seems some miscommunication between the hospital and Mr. Simon was at the heart of the issue. When the MDJ contacted him again, he again confirmed that when he called he was told it would take seven days to get results.

Perhaps, “up to” in the “up to seven days” was a case of playing it safe.

The point to be made is that 99 percent of those tested by Wellstar will receive their results in two days or less, according to the health system.

Cobb Women for Trump 

ON THE RIGHT: Who says suburban women don’t care for President Donald Trump? Not the more than 40 Cobb County Republican Women who waved signs for him Monday night at the corner of Cobb Parkway and Roswell Street.