The task is enormous.

It means finding new places for already vulnerable families to live while construction occurs, ensuring their children’s education is not disrupted and that they receive social services, and making sure tenants come back when the work is done.

Add to that a pandemic and an uncertain timeline that hinges on when The Millennia Companies, the prospective developer, finalizes its purchase of the property.

Millennia has managed Forest Cove since 2018 and plans to buy the 396-unit complex from Global Ministries Foundation for an undisclosed price. The purchase is contingent on various federal approvals. Millennia officials said the renovation won’t start until the sale is final.

Lolita Evans, with her three children and one of their friends, talks about the conditions at the Forest Cove apartments as she stands in front of several empty units on November 11, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Conditions at Forest Cove have worsened during the six years Lolita Evans has lived there.

She’s battled mold in her bathroom and had to board up a broken window. Outside, the grass grew so high residents cut it themselves, and trash piled up, she said.

Rumors have swirled that she and her neighbors would be required to move out, but Evans said there’s confusion about what the plan entails.

“I’m thinking it might happen at any time. I just don’t know,” she said. “I would love to see the renovation happen if you can find me a safer and better place to stay… until it’s done.”

Evans has three children who attend Thomasville Heights and one who goes to Price Middle School. She wants her children to stay at those schools, where she said students and parents receive extra support.

“I would like them to finish their time; they had a good experience there,” she said. “I really don’t want them to leave there.”

About three quarters of Thomasville Heights’ 308 students live at Forest Cove. The elementary school feeds into Price Middle School, where about 30% of students live at the complex. At Carver STEAM Academy, nearly a tenth of the high school’s students come from Forest Cove.

Purpose Built Schools Atlanta runs the three schools in exchange for per-pupil funding from Atlanta Public Schools.

The district hired the nonprofit in 2016 as part of a bold and controversial strategy to turn around its lowest-performing schools. The idea is that Purpose Built, which 20 years ago launched the Drew Charter School, can improve student learning by operating with more flexibility than traditional schools.

It’s unknown how many families, once they vacate Forest Cove, will continue to send their children to the same schools.

Retaining them would likely require money to bus students from their temporary homes, where families are expected to live for eight to 18 months. If enrollment dips, more funds may be needed to sustain the schools during the relocation period.

Research has shown that students fall behind and are less likely to graduate on time when they switch schools.

“It is our highest priority to keep Thomasville Heights and Price and Carver open during the redevelopment process at Forest Cove,” said Greg Giornelli, CEO of Purpose Built Schools. “What we are trying to do is maintain continuity and stability in the educational lives of students, and if we can’t figure out how to keep the schools open… there’s guaranteed to be more learning loss.”

APS said it is committed to supporting the schools during the relocation but doesn’t yet know what that might cost.

Millennia is working with partner agencies to identify places for tenants to move. The company would pay for the relocation costs.

Fernandez said the focus is on finding sites as close as possible to the schools. They’re also trying to cluster families near each other.

Fire-damaged units stand empty at the Forest Cove apartments on Nov. 11, 2020.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Fire-damaged units stand empty at the Forest Cove apartments on Nov. 11, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

A top priority is to make sure the families forced to leave are the ones who move back into the renovated units. Legal protections exist to give tenants the right to return, but the concern persists that some won’t.

Other metro Atlanta public housing projects have uprooted and displaced families, said Monique Nunnally. She leads the education committee for a neighborhood planning unit and has served on Carver’s school governance team.

“You see Forest Cove drowning, and we are just going to watch it drown?” she said. “We need the power players to step in and say, ‘We won’t lose this community like we have the others. This won’t be that moment where these families never ever get to be a part of the success of the future.”

Millennia, which owns and manages more than 275 housing communities in 26 states, initially considered shifting residents within Forest Cove while the renovation occurred. But they ultimately decided it was more efficient and safer to move everyone off-site.

Upon reopening, all units will remain subsidized, said Millennia spokeswoman Valerie Jerome. She said they’re working with partners to ensure relocated residents return.

A rendering of the proposed Forest Cove apartment renovation project as provided by The Millennia Companies.

A rendering of the proposed Forest Cove apartment renovation project as provided by The Millennia Companies.

The $51 million renovation plan is intended to transform the property. Drywall will be removed. Kitchens and bathrooms will be redone. Heating, cooling and electrical upgrades are planned, as well as siding repairs and new roofs, playgrounds and community spaces.

“It is the largest construction project we’ve taken on, and it’s one of the most important projects going on in the nation from our perspective,” said Arthur Krauer, Millennia’s director of public policy and community relations.

If the relocation plan doesn’t go well, if families scatter and never return, it will be a “huge, wasted opportunity,” Fernandez said.

“In both and good and bad ways, the most important and influential and impactful issue or place in Thomasville Heights is really Forest Cove,” he said.

Forest Cove apartments

Years built: 1973-1974

Number of units: 396

Occupied units: 253

Number of residents: 860

Renovation cost: $51 million

Schools by the numbers

Thomasville Heights Elementary School

Enrollment: 308

Students who live at Forest Cove: 229

Price Middle School

Enrollment: 398

Students who live at Forest Cove: 116

Carver STEAM Academy

Enrollment: 439

Students who live at Forest Cove: 41

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state tops 19K cases","_id":"3JKFJ6MYOVFF5GSXWL3QMDV4ZQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Georgia's jails and prisons remain crowded as COVID-19 spreads","_id":"UVY6FNKMIVBKBLAQO4WUYWVPQY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Two Georgia hospital workers die, 17 patients sickened with COVID-19","_id":"LCTVOVXKIZBYFKVT52NV5VJD6E","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"KEG5FOCU5BDX3HDPDL23JVAMJA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737413,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 19 local updates:","_id":"BQQ7OG4CSVABXOXZOHQ4TB7AOI","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Coronavirus deaths in Georgia increase to 687; 18.3K confirmed cases","_id":"O3DQNURW2FGCHLC3L67WYBCGLE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"WQUSV3VO4RFZ7DM2BBL6XN7GVM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737415,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 18 local updates:","_id":"CVHIHI66NRCFJL4X7N6ZSBG7WU","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia's coronavirus deaths increase to 677; 17.8K confirmed cases","_id":"E4ULY5FH55AALFKYFMQO3QLFGY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Georgia may already have reached peak of coronavirus deaths, model suggests","_id":"DZJ46OT2MZFGNC3BH3XTZQFPQQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"HDKC7MS6EJCABPBW2OV7VXMCM4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737417,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 17 local updates:","_id":"BSKQKH446FDMHN57TSYDZZSQJA","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"650 coronavirus deaths reported as Georgia tops 17K cases","_id":"LEU5WIWKVJAUFPFH57OSPEUKHQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Undercount of COVID-19 deaths means full effects on Georgia unknown","_id":"LU6OKGECPJGSVI525QBZ6KXTY4","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"UFJWK7AEBZHC3HBP67K4EWPKOM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737419,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 16 local updates:","_id":"AGMF6Q2CQJF3LNPNYGONIUW63M","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Coronavirus death toll surpasses 600 in Georgia; cases top 16.3K","_id":"ALTYPV2SIVFC7AMREZ6UY3ALTI","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"5EVTAXY5RBD4TPSPX2CYKPKZ4Q","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737421,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 15 local updates:","_id":"YHKFU3JOAREETAJP7PYVQJHAII","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia's coronavirus cases top 15K; death toll increases to 576","_id":"XAB4YMCFQVC4LOK7NFOFDOIVMM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Georgia to expand COVID-19 testing, key to reaching 'new norm'","_id":"CORQCE74MVCZVOTUI4TPGZQGVY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"2HS5BXSW4BEUTAYZVJMHOKGJGI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737423,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 14 local updates:","_id":"X4Q5YJTX75CTZKFPU3O74PZ7WE","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Coronavirus claims the lives of more than 500 Georgians","_id":"UN5YZOHKKFHSVBR4VC2WV7X3CU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"TSA agent in Atlanta dies from the coronavirus","_id":"OMO3ZNNSQNGBZGBUCORU6CA6IQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Coronavirus hits Southwest Georgia county hard","_id":"O2JFOU6QAZHT3B7JAU6Z3RXSQQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Former Clayton teacher dies after 'hard-fought battle' with COVID-19","_id":"KTGBCDOGE5EHFD7ZOHSLRUJQHU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"LQP576I6Y5A2NAWS5O4ETHF2JI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737425,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 13 local updates:","_id":"6QKGWSE7VBHBXJME2PCD5CJIAM","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia's coronavirus death toll at 480; cases top 13.6K","_id":"OOKTKYXMUZCOTEKRSI3BFZCMTU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"4 Fayetteville firefighters diagnosed with COVID-19","_id":"6TR7ZQHFOJFQBEHKRAATGTVFUU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"D5RANNAXO5CYJKH2ZTMR4KTZ4Y","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737427,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 12 local updates:","_id":"HOJXZYKE2JHAZD6D5PEPFBCIWA","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Coronavirus cases hit 12,452 in Georgia as deaths increase to 433","_id":"7SF6XEIN4NC5TILQP4QUVVFHBU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Worker at Georgia governor's mansion tests positive for coronavirus","_id":"AMXHPIRODJBUXIK6POWLEH35WI","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"22-year-old diagnosed with COVID-19 wasn't killed by virus, Ga. coroner says","_id":"Z2ZIXDQR7FAMLHNN42ZYKICKBQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"CU3TURDMEZANZCSHRFM6JYISWY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737429,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 11 local updates:","_id":"ZGNVBUPZCRB5LNT5FCIR726BTQ","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia surpasses 12,000 coronavirus cases; 428 deaths reported","_id":"WACRTVZYYZHSBEPACIZ4K6MNBU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"CQ2JJHJA2RGPRPJHIUNHDNDJ5A","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737431,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 10 local updates:","_id":"5HZNQ3CONVBVTN4GVWITTXDECA","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia's coronavirus death toll rises to 425; cases reach 11,859","_id":"J64FMMEKVNEXRBORTXAK3AJ5YU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"List of infected Georgia nursing and senior care homes nearly doubles","_id":"MN5ZLOS2MVGMDLWE6O6DG67UNM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Outbreak apparently taking heavier toll on blacks","_id":"GAZNKOCJC5D6PJVJ4OJD5QIXTY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Just a handful of Georgia counties have no reported coronavirus outbreaks","_id":"IGOQVMH5WFGJ3OWK3MPBUBDJOQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"ICE detainees in Georgia test positive for novel coronavirus","_id":"JT4RYDODHVCDLCAF2IQT64SSLE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"2 Macon inmates test positive for coronavirus","_id":"MTMP7HERKJAPPFLB2DPK3K5MGY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"67 residents, 7 employees reportedly test positive at Augusta nursing home","_id":"43DIFWQSINBULAWXABVKXFIG7E","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"At least 1 more Kennessaw Whole Foods employee tests positive for COVID-19","_id":"J2ZWOQ3T2NEXFJZMNYRGS3RWUA","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"DINM2GN5CZATVA3U7X6OGSXUVE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737433,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 9 local updates:","_id":"6HM6IL4LUVB5HEKC3BQU3WDXEQ","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"33 more coronavirus deaths bring Georgia's toll to 412; cases reach 10,885","_id":"TXCZQVXJ2ZE2TN7VAA2MLSSCDE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"2 Tyson chicken factory workers die from COVID-19 in South Georgia, union says","_id":"FWPJEVPXLNCJBH6WPQC7ZX6QAE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Clayton quarantines courthouse staff, closes building after 'multiple' COVID-19 cases","_id":"LWRJNRWDSRHU5JMHVFRZCNRUKU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"MARTA turns to masks, sick pay as pandemic sickens workers","_id":"QH6FAVHB3BDZPCMVFCUYLVKS4U","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"TOLNNBJSBJHTDFSIDYQMW7WQTI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737435,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 8 local updates:","_id":"2H7WN63VVNDRRBHKZETXNWW7E4","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia tops 10K coronavirus cases as deaths increase to 369","_id":"UDRJPFKXZ5CZVK6YY3WQDXEPVU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"A dozens die in senior care homes, Kemp extends statewide lockdown","_id":"7GDRNYOMVVEEZIC5UBUXDJF4JA","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"XVVQF3SACZD4JN5RZP2FDVC7GY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737437,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 7 local updates:","_id":"IS7XD2TLQJG2XMMVXHTF6IMD6A","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia reports 35 more coronavirus deaths as cases reach 8,818","_id":"VRODHCLCL5B3RPHPFB3MTWZXRM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Kennesaw Whole Foods employee diagnosed with COVID-19","_id":"HIMHLCJH4RBRFJFGHXMVNFL2YQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"WAY4KMEZDZFABNJP4P6A5UAIAM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737439,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 6 local updates:","_id":"4Y3ANPVCBBAWNJTENVUM57G5N4","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"65 more coronavirus deaths bring Georgia's toll near 300; cases surpass 7.5K","_id":"N2WXVVG55JGPRI2NQWFTDOU6UM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Fear spreads behind bars after two prisoner deaths at Lee State Prison","_id":"2X6KU3F3XZH5BKMVICVPVTWTGQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Two more Georgia juvenile justice employees test positive for COVID-19","_id":"RRAJJYAJJRBOLHO2O2XESZS4BM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"75 more deaths in a day; Georgia enters devastating phase of outbreak","_id":"BCE4TRWDUFFJDCSB2EO2765GWQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"E32MR7ZVNVDNPA77Y4MWGMD6PM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737441,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 5 local updates:","_id":"YLKU4BAO35EQJANAXRQYHVB4HU","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"6,742 coronavirus cases now confirmed in Georgia; death toll rises to 219","_id":"KGD53HVPUZHPZMMKIM4V4XBOUM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Second Lee State prisoner dies of COVID-19","_id":"LPSWIGDIB5H6RFWRMXXCFKVJGU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"EPVBBA7TEBDEZC56C566UZDRZU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737443,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 4 local updates:","_id":"E4QUTMJLCFB6HCXSDWPCQVO4PQ","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Seven more coronavirus deaths reported as Georgia's cases increase to 6,383","_id":"STERL2WONFABDILL4AL7UFIR5M","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Rockdale County sheriff tests positive for COVID-19","_id":"5KWOIYD5SBBPLDJH4Y2YTAA75Y","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"YYEUJIQ5GVCJBH7CWW25667MZ4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737445,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 3 local updates:","_id":"6EM54AGONJFK5O245JUDWN5MII","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"14 new coronavirus deaths brings Georgia total close to 200","_id":"U2V5UNNKY5BEHGQCJM2MFUECKM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"State provides first accounting of outbreaks in senior care facilities","_id":"TGTLB7NYSFHJPBTLN3DLTXJKAA","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Update: No Georgia children have died from the coronavirus","_id":"ILPOWYE3BFGV3OUZ34FNHW7IQ4","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"FFNNZ3HOHVBIJF47TCILAHMSHY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737447,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 2 local updates:","_id":"HRBD3PT4SRERTJBJXBWBHIHQPU","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Coronavirus deaths increase to 176 in Georgia, cases reach 5,444","_id":"NYIZSNGBTFGH3CKG3JIWZTTOGY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Coronavirus cases now reported at 58 Georgia senior care facilities","_id":"S7ZMYFJO45AD5OK5AXC3OCNKUU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"E5LDYKHKC5DXNPOSIXYO7RGAJ4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737449,"inline_comments":[],"content":"April 1 local updates:","_id":"HLZQGOM7CBFGBNZGBKBXZPT5KQ","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia surpasses 150 coronavirus deaths, reaches 4,748 total cases","_id":"C3L6U54D6JFGHHKOZBPVF6QM6I","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Days after helping UGA students move out, housing employee diagnosed with COVID-19","_id":"CFODXMYROFHULBLZJLSBKRCFDQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Cobb Health Department employee tests positive for COVID-19","_id":"QOZX7236D5G4PIQJTYFOP6U3LM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"DeKalb jail operations supervisor tests positive for COVID-19","_id":"RH3RTMLQRFDRVJPGLVJB3IGJ5U","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"MTDIIBWZAVD45F6ZY25E7UFYTI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737451,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 31 local updates:","_id":"TMDKGZUNIVHBDHDFRFGVDLBV5M","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia surpasses 4K coronavirus cases, reaches 125 deaths","_id":"AOWFQZBI4ZH5LIRORSXOQFJ3II","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Georgia immigration detention employee tests positive for coronavirus","_id":"IDXKPVIZI5EHRFUVNYR32EJ7M4","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"GRDSY32KUJFPRCIZNG4IZ663IA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737453,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 30 local updates:","_id":"7R7GAVLUABFEPKC7AGN2NBCIKQ","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Georgia surpasses 3K cases of coronavirus; reaches 100 deaths","_id":"TCYIY7XUJ5DUHA4MG3QGGVHX24","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Study: Georgia COVID-19 pandemic to peak week of April 22","_id":"ENEC3PAGVBGDRK2YN4TSST3QKY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Sheriff: 14 Fulton jail inmates have contracted COVID-19","_id":"6IHRZZJ6FZCKLN2NOCDTKLHMEI","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"CC42HP4MZRG6ND3KZJOM4UBTZE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737455,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 29 local updates:","_id":"C2VILHCLNBAGHLGJBIAECP62RU","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ga. climb to 2,683; deaths increase to 83","_id":"4GYUJEGOZFEZ3MZUIGVZBRSOTE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Atlanta city employee who distributed laptops tests positive for COVID-19","_id":"ZJTWO3T2EBD6BOL2BIY2EWY5ZI","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"D2KN7GOSYZBLPGSA4YK7LTTE5M","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737457,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 28 local updates:","_id":"VFSM5RP4UBFXPMUYQ7CXWHSENQ","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"10 more deaths reported as Georgia's coronavirus cases rise to 2,446","_id":"QABK7KFS5BEXNLNKTKKUUTSRGE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Atlanta Public Schools reports 2 more coronavirus cases","_id":"SP7H7PYDS5A7LMISIU2IBUAJPM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Another DeKalb Jail inmate tests positive for coronavirus","_id":"FBLXJBN7WRCLRDBB4MPWJPCLHE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"7QR2R7W2O5G4HCGMRQNXOYNWRA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737459,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 27 local updates:","_id":"G5XYMRSB3VFV7PP6WRPSQH7I3M","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Coronavirus death toll increases to 65 in Georgia; 2,198 total cases","_id":"ZVE7KUPEZ5CVDANZ475UQ56VXY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Ga. inmate dies from COVID-19 as outbreak worsens in prisons","_id":"FT3OBNBGXNGD7HPL3AK5UNZRQI","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Four TSA screeners at Hartsfield-Jackson test positive for coronavirus ","_id":"TLPAMLV3GVA2DO357UWKTEF7PI","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"HTUFYVANDFGH3IY7KU6FYPH2LM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737461,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 26 local updates:","_id":"MIOMRENJIRELZLSL5SY62HSQ6Y","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"8 new coronavirus deaths brings Georgia's toll to 56; 1,643 total cases","_id":"VRZODWWTRNGJLC3ZKQVQ2QU4K4","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Third TSA screener at Hartsfield-Jackson tests positive for coronavirus","_id":"4RUMVJVQ65BNPCSRF72ED7USCM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"First Georgia state House member tests positive for coronavirus","_id":"WNLW7HE2BNCDXGF6FTR5FQR2WQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"KNDHJR7UQFHPVFXJULNJLCBDCU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737463,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 25 local updates:","_id":"G6ON7FFWTNA6NPF46NF2CSMTSA","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"7 more coronavirus deaths confirmed in Georgia; case total rises to 1,387","_id":"SNPKOLFT3NB5JPZ2EZ3PSEWRMM","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"2nd APD officer contracts COVID-19 as others await tests, results","_id":"WIZW4CQHOFFUDIUQIOYEWLIN2U","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"MARTA employee reports testing positive for coronavirus","_id":"CKWN3RMSDRHFRDLWHFCXKMWCBQ","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Metro Atlanta juvenile justice employee tests positive for coronavirus","_id":"GW27K3N65RHWJGUTEVO4IUAOTI","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Second North Georgia church member dies after coronavirus diagnosis","_id":"WUJTZPPJ4ZA77IMBUO3CF7XTFE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"University of North Georgia student tests positive for COVID-19","_id":"VMCTNIACQFHCHFRA7NLOKB3HNE","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Fifth Georgia state senator tests positive for coronavirus","_id":"SGBWS6TERJCXTOD2QYNIW2UGAU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"KX3RLGVDZBHCDGEYEWLXDOTLFA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737465,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 24 local updates:","_id":"A4W6KBIAJNFT3J2BQ5J5NO2JHA","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Death toll rises to 38 due to coronavirus; 1,097 total cases","_id":"34TBOO2PYJGPXPRKINPDNYSK3A","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"DeKalb Jail inmate, employee test positive for COVID-19","_id":"PAIETUKCSFC7LMKIITNCN3XGEY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Clarke County reports first death from the coronavirus","_id":"J2YWD6ZGXJANPEBVOEJPIBFBPU","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Civilian army employee at Fort Stewart tests positive for coronavirus","_id":"2TTYHYQGGZDJXBI22SMKMT7UWY","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Employee at Cumming Publix tests positive for coronavirus, store says","_id":"SCERLEW3EZFZJFWHDM5HAPNR5I","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":,"type":"text","content":"Fulton courts closes room after visitor tests positive for COVID-19","_id":"NU6RWHW75RBLRCKSZXADN22R3M","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"block_properties":],"_id":"LMCLIDFAZ5ADBKWWHYVKHFOGYU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"_id":1594840737467,"inline_comments":[],"content":"March 23 local updates:","_id":"PMZW3CARONHIJIR7HIUS7TB6FE","type":"list","list_type":"unordered","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"items":["type":"text","content":"Coronavirus death toll rises to 26 in Georgia; 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That will change next month, when Tarece Johnson and Karen Watkins take office.","_id":"3Q4MIBOB3VDDRHIGPHLGHHRHEI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608662013141,"content":"If the new members have their way, more than just the look of the board will change.","_id":"D4W4AQF2BJAINCDK5RJ2TQYOUU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608747291023,"content":"Johnson and Watkins campaigned together with closely aligned priorities, and Blair agrees with many of them, setting up a new majority on the five-member board. Those priorities include more support for students in lower-income areas, and improved procedures to tackle the disproportionate discipline against students of color.","_id":"5S6UUIBFZZCXZE63GJSRJ2YONM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608670926736,"content":"It’s not clear what the changes on the board mean for J. Alvin Wilbanks, the school district’s superintendent for the past 24 years. Wilbanks’ contract expires in 2022. Many who supported this year’s opposition slate have called for his replacement, saying a new leader would be more in tune with the shifting demographics in Gwinnett schools.","_id":"YOMJNT2HGZEELPYGFCGG6STBDE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608670926737,"content":"“Our constituents will have a voice,” said Watkins, 45, who is Black and Filipina. “That’s immediate. 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Watkins, a Democrat, defeated Carole Boyce, the current vice chair. Her win tips the board to a Democratic majority.","_id":"NQJFVYFARBHUBFLIJJKGD2BOBI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911655,"content":"Johnson and Watkins also have children going through Gwinnett schools, unlike any other board members this school year.","_id":"E2WRNQYLPNFLVGPHQIF6Z7ZSG4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911656,"content":"Watkins said she wanted to address large class sizes in some schools as an equity issue. She also said the school district, one of the few in metro Atlanta to open its buildings in the fall, seemed to be taking a lot of risks during the coronavirus pandemic.","_id":"B6YLF3Z5E5G6HJRJPODXQT6C7U","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911657,"content":"Johnson’s wish list included pre-kindergarten in all Gwinnett elementary schools, along with academic before- and after-care programs in more schools. She is pushing to hire more teachers who are bilingual or certified to teach English as a second language, increase diversity in the curriculum and require anti-racism training for everyone in the school district, including students and board members.","_id":"KFGHIWYL45ABLBSEKMN64MM7EM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911658,"content":"She wants more counselors and social workers in the schools to address children’s traumas, and favors the “restorative justice” model of discipline that relies on mediation. She said school resource officers should not be involved in discipline unless the matter is criminal.","_id":"XKUK5TLOHBGLBCFOKNARBWZ4WU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911659,"content":"Their slate included Tanisha Banks, a special education teacher in Gwinnett who planned on finding another job had she defeated Mary Kay Murphy, who won narrowly.","_id":"4KF3GX5ZW5FL7DVUPESYZVDZXU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911660,"content":"Murphy took office in 1997 and will now be the most experienced member on the board. Come next month, every other member will have served for less than two years.","_id":"VX65URRK4ZEBNHUF5TH2Y7MBEE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911661,"content":"“I want to be mindful to respect what the voters have said to us and who they have sent to us, and I want to listen to their ideas,” Murphy said. “Most especially, I think it’s going to be very important for us to assure the employees of the school system, the parents of our students and our community members that we have one thing in mind as a unified board, and that is what is best for the students in our community.”","_id":"FX6DCMETSVA3RAKBT4QHHEUCVI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911662,"content":"Banks is still pushing for a new superintendent, saying Wilbanks has gained too much power and faulting him for publicly scolding a teacher who frequently criticizes the administration.","_id":"LHSYTZH3GZGGZLWJKULJHYHQRA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911663,"content":"“The leadership needs to change,” Banks said. “The climate of Gwinnett County needs to change, and the community and the people need their voices heard, and that’s what I ran on and almost made it.”","_id":"22PAUZJSDFHBXIGMMJ67LK3DIE","type":"interstitial_link","additional_properties":"_id":"TXVMY57B5JCX7F2NQL5Z63XKAU","comments":[],"url":"https://www.ajc.com/staff/alia-malik/","content":"More stories about Gwinnett County Public Schools","_id":"JM4JAEVN4NA4DDVAZHZ2UU7TQM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911665,"content":"Blair said he encouraged Banks, Johnson and Watkins to run and gave his perspective, although he did not recruit them. His priorities include setting thresholds based on coronavirus metrics that would trigger increased public health restrictions in the school district and creating a more formal process for teacher feedback.","_id":"P6YPVQM72BHBVG52PJEOCYB3K4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911666,"content":"“I’ve always been the spokesperson for the south side of the county and have felt alone in advocating for more for our students, so that’s where I feel like we’re going to have a real bolstering of that view,” Blair said. “I anticipated this result, or more change.","_id":"4AFRIGHIL5AQNMCQO57FJCLNU4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608747291041,"content":"“We’ve come a long way in a short time and we’ll continue to push forward and go further.”","_id":"4PTL4K2TIFAVTGVCT75AP5ULXM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911667,"content":"Steven Knudsen, who was elected two years ago, said he expects Blair to be the next board president and would like to serve as vice president. Knudsen, like most of the incumbent board members, said he hopes his new colleagues take time to learn what’s working in Gwinnett before making changes.","_id":"5UZB4AORUBATDITXOJRXQDZA3M","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911668,"content":"“It’s really easy to screw up something that’s been good for a long time,” Knudsen said. “It’s really difficult to keep it at a high level of excellence year after year after year.”","_id":"7TLF4OAJ6FCQPMUPJEIKGPXXT4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911669,"content":"The school district held a socially distanced, live-streamed sendoff for Radloff and Boyce before the board’s December meeting, during which they both highlighted the strengths of a district generally thought of as high performing, and cautioned against divisiveness.","_id":"O7HF4EZTKRHPPAZXVGX77JGLGY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911670,"content":"Radloff ended the meeting by saying, “If we as a community come together, we can resolve the issues that are out there, but unless you stand as one, we will not be successful on behalf of our children.”","_id":"QHGJ6T4VMREFBHMBYUDUHPBUVQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608732911671,"content":"“Happy holidays. 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It was early 1981 and, unless you looked closely, the rebel banner in the corner wasn’t all that different from the Georgia state flag of the time, which drooped from another nearby pole.","_id":"G3RD2RLQTVAKTFV4BW4BJ3PZFE","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608039221011,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"But once Seeliger spotted it, he knew what he had to do.","_id":"Q47OJGBIG5DBFHZG3KSMT5IX2A","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764939,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"On the morning of Feb. 5, in front of a crowd waiting for the day’s arraignment hearings to begin, Seeliger ordered bailiff Nesby Thomas to remove the Confederate flag. Seeliger had recently hired Thomas, making him the first Black person to work at the DeKalb courthouse as something other than a custodian. 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It made headlines in local and national newspapers. It garnered plenty of hate mail too: “I expect to be present at your lynching,” one postcard read.","_id":"CQPZHGCJGNCYVF54OXOOZIG5UQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608221590266,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"The decision also helped set the tone for Seeliger’s storied, four-decade career on the bench.","_id":"BCCBW4O3NZBL5BCUZDPQMOHIRM","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1606936166214,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Within a few years of “evicting Dixie’s flag,” as one Atlanta Constitution headline put it, Seeliger would move on to DeKalb’s Superior Court. From there, he would build upon his reputation as a thoughtful jurist and an outspoken advocate for domestic violence victims.","_id":"YXCHD3HFARHWVN6E67XKB7TELQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608673782328,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"He would preside over one of the most contentious cases in Atlanta history, effectively stopping a highway from being built through the heart of several local neighborhoods. And, decades later, he would issue the order allowing a long-standing Confederate monument to be removed from its perch on the Decatur square.","_id":"U6YHWGOPQZAA3KCW6UXU23IIJ4","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608039221018,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"The latter happened just this summer and, as 2020 nears its end, Seeliger’s career is winding down too.","_id":"OWCCIJU5B5EPVGN5ZWYED26GDI","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608039221019,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"The newly minted octogenarian did not seek reelection this time around. Come January, his seat will be filled by a former Fulton County public defender, Yolanda Parker-Smith.","_id":"4Y6IXNHDPFCPXOZDJ4ZT4O2ZTM","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608039221020,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"As Seeliger prepared for retirement, he said it’s nice to be remembered and recognized for the things he’s done. But he doesn’t like to take credit for, in his mind, simply doing the job that he was elected (nearly a dozen times) to do.","_id":"MBYS3REFGFDBPOHCIIJSF2ETIQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1606936166217,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"“I just happened to be here,” Seeliger says. “And may have helped edge things along from time to time.”","_id":"O4WLDNT7QRCXNEWQ3Z2XAMTEKE","type":"header","level":1,"additional_properties":"_id":1608673782333,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"‘Restoring dignity’","_id":"MI7K4QGQJZFD7KPQ63T7LJTWCU","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608039221022,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Clarence “Chuck” Seeliger grew up in Seattle, Wa. during the 1940s and 50s, then came to Georgia for a woman.","_id":"Z5R3RVBLGNEG7GC4HU55NZJFJM","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764951,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"He’d met Gwen Hagler while training for the Air Force, which he’d joined as war brewed in Vietnam. Gwen was an engineer working in the space program before she landed a job at the Lockheed Corporation in Cobb County.","_id":"X3B52KYLGVBUZAR4M3WPFYJYJU","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608673782336,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"After the service, Seeliger was accepted to Emory University’s law school and followed his future bride to the Peach State.","_id":"V6X776QIFBH4FH62QY4YJO3TQI","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764952,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"In the summer of 1968, Seeliger interned at the Southern Regional Council, rubbing elbows with civil rights legends like John Lewis and Julian Bond. After law school, Seeliger started a private practice.","_id":"IHIWTV67DJCHDOULLSZY725IIE","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764953,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Several years later, a young Black attorney named Dwight Thomas — the son of Nesby Thomas, Seeliger’s future bailiff — was looking to open his own practice in Decatur. Frustrated after being repeatedly turned away from office spaces because of his race, Thomas mentioned it to Bond and state Sen. Leroy Johnson.","_id":"XV4OTBHY25GOJOHEOW5MFHDMBQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764954,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Both told him to see Seeliger.","_id":"4RKEZBPRONGLHM5QYB3BSTLTVE","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764955,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Seeliger immediately agreed to rent him space in the home he’d converted into an office. That made Thomas the first Black attorney based in Decatur’s city limits.","_id":"OAQSQKE6TNAPFL5R2OMWI26M3Y","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764956,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"“It meant a lot that he would open his doors to me,” Thomas said recently. “I was just a guy trying to hang a shingle.”","_id":"EZU7OV74BFAU5FPRRN5XGVWI34","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764957,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"In 1979, Seeliger, by then an experienced defense attorney, decided on his next career move. He was eyeing a state court judgeship. He wanted to take down J. Oscar Mitchell.","_id":"SDUPQH5LMBBILPMXYPKUKZ22NA","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764958,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Mitchell was a 30-year incumbent with a booming voice and an iron fist. He was known for briefly sending Martin Luther King Jr. to a hard labor camp in Reidsville in 1960 after a dubious traffic stop. 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She was shaking and crying, one of many Black people Mitchell mistreated in court.","_id":"QGRT2PHCOZHQNETKTUHRZAVXLU","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764962,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"DeKalb’s Democratic power brokers were not happy about Seeliger, then just 39 years old, challenging Mitchell. But Nesby and Dwight Thomas were in his corner, as were other young lawyers like Wayne Purdom (now DeKalb’s chief State Court judge), Hank Johnson (now a member of Congress) and Mereda Davis Johnson (now a DeKalb County commissioner).","_id":"EYWXLU4W25AYHH64XAWQO2EG4Y","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764963,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"In a TV ad the campaign surreptitiously shot in Mitchell’s courtroom, they talked about how the incumbent “disposed of criminal cases behind closed doors” and often had decisions overturned on appeal, Seeliger said.","_id":"TNCKORHHIZG6XO7AFFCYQKA36I","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608673782349,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"They talked about “restoring dignity to the courtroom.”","_id":"J44GQGYWQ5DSPFD333KC6A4EWE","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764964,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"In a what seemed like a longshot bid, Seeliger beat Mitchell soundly. No one has defeated a sitting DeKalb County judge in an election since.","_id":"CPTSZOFBAFFNRMKI35WM7TOG5U","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764965,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"One of Seeliger’s first moves was hiring Nesby Thomas as his bailiff. Within a few years, about 20% of the DeKalb State Court staff was Black.","_id":"34JP4MZFHREJBOZDJF3SL2UJVQ","type":"header","level":1,"additional_properties":"_id":1607714825900,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"‘Our hero’","_id":"2CG3KWTHEFDR3G4TSQLX4WJS3I","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764967,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"In 1984, Seeliger won a post in DeKalb Superior Court, which handles the county’s most serious cases. 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The DeKalb-based Women’s Resource Center recently named an award after him.","_id":"4YKFM6IE7NZWC73NPQQBEZM3TE","additional_properties":"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/photo/resize/LEUl1oMRdIL-K_NQ80djm1Mv5hQ=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/4YKFM6IE7NZWC73NPQQBEZM3TE.jpg","galleries":[],"iptc_job_identifier":"5fc67f12ddcaa069fbe14767","keywords":["AJC Freelancer"],"mime_type":"image/jpeg","originalName":"s3://ajc-arc-photo-integration/Freelancer/aajc 122520 ev lnx seeliger. 01.jpg","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/4YKFM6IE7NZWC73NPQQBEZM3TE.jpg","proxyUrl":"/photo/resize/LEUl1oMRdIL-K_NQ80djm1Mv5hQ=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/4YKFM6IE7NZWC73NPQQBEZM3TE.jpg","published":true,"resizeUrl":"http://thumbor-prod-us-east-1.photo.aws.arc.pub/LEUl1oMRdIL-K_NQ80djm1Mv5hQ=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/4YKFM6IE7NZWC73NPQQBEZM3TE.jpg","restricted":false,"takenOn":"2020-12-04T00:00:00Z","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/2AMHpyWB2ZV8FaaOjz56HUqOeDc=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/4YKFM6IE7NZWC73NPQQBEZM3TE.jpg","version":2,"comments":[],"_id":"UOK7F6XUYZFMTI5VMLTGXRACJI","address":"locality":"Decatur","caption":"DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger shows off his tennis shoes in his DeKalb County Courthouse office in Decatur November 4, 2020. Seeliger will be retiring at the end of the year after 40 years on the bench. 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Lewis Freedom Parkway, was the result.","_id":"F2V3WUFANJHO3FELSXBR7AV7D4","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764975,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Gale Walldorff was a board member of one of the resident groups at the forefront of the fight.","_id":"WAAXS5UVARBEXN6JLHKEOAQAU4","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764976,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"“Our hero,” she recently called Seeliger.","_id":"LKWTW7TZGJD53ASN6J43SO6PUQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764977,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"“It really would’ve just completely decimated this part of town,” said Walldorff, who later became a DeKalb County commissioner. “And these communities now that are thriving ― it just wouldn’t have happened.”","_id":"URCH5K5O6VFUTPC676DL7LIECA","type":"header","level":1,"additional_properties":"_id":1608123067167,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Making a change","_id":"JZ2RPBP7P5FALEADY7QAN22D6Y","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764979,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"Earlier this year, as the coronavirus pandemic and protests over systemic racism and police violence raged, a new case landed in Seeliger’s court.","_id":"WUQKQOD2C5H2TOTQEX7Y66MGXM","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764980,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"The Confederate obelisk on the Decatur square — a 30-foot pillar erected in 1908 to pay homage to the “covenant keeping race” of soldiers that fought against the United States in the Civil War — had become a frequent target of graffiti and a magnet for protests.","_id":"MCFW55TELZDWPFDGVNVC3I4XPM","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608673782368,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"The city wanted Seeliger to declare it a public nuisance and order DeKalb County, the monument’s reluctant owner, to take it down.","_id":"COVWUUIFNJEXHBR6TAIKWTWXA4","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764981,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"The nuisance approach was an attempt to circumvent Georgia state laws protecting Confederate monuments.","_id":"BQ4I2QSM7NBNLJIFNODYWATCQA","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764982,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"In a June 12 order, Seeliger called the obelisk a “lightning rod for friction among citizens, and a potential catastrophe that could happen at any time if individuals attempt to forcibly remove or destroy it.”","_id":"BSU7P5JZSBFTPF2NGUV4Z74SSA","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764983,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"The obelisk fell a week later, as the night of June 18 turned into the morning June 19 ― Juneteenth, a day when many Black Americans commemorate the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they were free.","_id":"XPNPIJSLDZF7PFBT726QTTRGVI","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764984,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"The date of the removal hadn’t been announced beforehand, but word spread fast and a crowd quickly assembled. 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Champagne flowed.","_id":"7YXIIJXDNFDTDP7QFXKMKBWFAY","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764985,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"“He’s leaving just like he came in,” said Davis Johnson, the county commissioner who worked on Seeliger’s original judicial campaign. “Making a change.”","_id":"KF4CPHWV4E2D7V3S47DL2SPBTY","additional_properties":"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/photo/resize/Bxt-Ds07zhZclsJsgAiOgpT_Qq0=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/KF4CPHWV4E2D7V3S47DL2SPBTY.jpg","galleries":[],"mime_type":"image/jpeg","originalName":"https://www.ajc.com//rw/Pub/p11/AJC/2020/07/11/Images/newsEngin.25880973_200619JA_01.jpg","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/KF4CPHWV4E2D7V3S47DL2SPBTY.jpg","proxyUrl":"/photo/resize/Bxt-Ds07zhZclsJsgAiOgpT_Qq0=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/KF4CPHWV4E2D7V3S47DL2SPBTY.jpg","published":true,"resizeUrl":"http://thumbor-prod-us-east-1.photo.aws.arc.pub/Bxt-Ds07zhZclsJsgAiOgpT_Qq0=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/KF4CPHWV4E2D7V3S47DL2SPBTY.jpg","restricted":false,"takenOn":"2020-07-11T12:00:00Z","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/NFNhpNrJw-CDbkQ4iW9Yiub0pTM=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/KF4CPHWV4E2D7V3S47DL2SPBTY.jpg","version":2,"publicationStartDate":"2020-07-11T12:00:00Z","comments":[],"_id":"3D23XNPPGVH25FFP4NH2SJXZ6Y","caption":"The spot where a Confederate obelisk once stood on the grounds of the DeKalb County courthouse in Decatur. 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One phone call from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, one letter from another Georgia judge curious about his order — and that’s it.","_id":"ECTJMAHE2ZGILLXGZPIZK2GN5A","type":"text","additional_properties":"_id":1608304764990,"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"content":"“I think my story is interesting mainly because it does show the transition of the county,” Seeliger said. “And I think that’s kind of important.”"],"created_date":"2020-11-10T20:50:04.140Z","revision":"revision_id":"C4OGJIVOSJHTBMNO37ORG5DXLU","parent_id":"3GRVAVJJEFCVRJQE6Z2ZFCTZS4","editions":["default"],"branch":"default","user_id":"[email protected]","published":true,"last_updated_date":"2020-12-23T17:17:21.681Z","canonical_url":"/news/atlanta-news/dekalb-county-judge-clarence-seeliger-retiring-after-40-year-career/YIVT77XTSZCSXO3W34QVB7PEZM/","headlines":"basic":"DeKalb County Judge Clarence Seeliger retiring after 40-year career","mobile":"","native":"","print":"","tablet":"","web":"","meta_title":"","owner":"sponsored":false,"id":"ajc","content_restrictions":"content_code":"premium","address":,"comments":"allow_comments":true,"workflow":"note":"","status_code":3,"subheadlines":"basic":"","description":"basic":"","language":"","label":,"source":"name":"AJC","source_type":"staff","system":"composer","taxonomy":{"primary_section":"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","_website":"ajc","type":"section","version":"0.6.0","name":"Local News","description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","path":"/news/atlanta-news","parent_id":"/news","parent":"default":"/news","additional_properties":"original":"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","site":"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","site_title":"Atlanta Local News","navigation":"nav_title":"Local News","Sponsor":"sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":"","sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","_website":"ajc","name":"Local News","order":"TopNav":2002,"default":2004,"ComposerNav":1103,"TopNavRedesign":2004,"parent":"default":"/news","ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/","TopNav":"/news","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":"/news","ancestors":"TopNav":["/news"],"TopNavRedesign":["https://www.ajc.com/","/news"],"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","primary_site":"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","type":"site","version":"0.5.8","name":"Local News","description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","path":"/news/atlanta-news","parent_id":"/news","additional_properties":"original":"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","site":"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","site_title":"Atlanta Local News","navigation":"nav_title":"Local News","Sponsor":"sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":"","sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","name":"Local News","order":2004,"parent":"/news","inactive":false,"node_type":"section","sections":["_id":"/news/atlanta-news","_website":"ajc","type":"section","version":"0.6.0","name":"Local News","description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","path":"/news/atlanta-news","parent_id":"/news","parent":"default":"/news","additional_properties":"original":"_id":"/news/atlanta-news","site":"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Atlanta Georgia city and county news, as well as Georgia state and regional news at ajc.com","site_title":"Atlanta Local News","navigation":"nav_title":"Local News","Sponsor":"sponsor_desktop_banner":"","sponsor_mobile_banner":"","sponsor_url":"","sponsor_url_open_new_tab":"true","_website":"ajc","name":"Local News","order":"TopNav":2002,"default":2004,"ComposerNav":1103,"TopNavRedesign":2004,"parent":"default":"/news","ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/","TopNav":"/news","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":"/news","ancestors":"TopNav":["/news"],"TopNavRedesign":["https://www.ajc.com/","/news"],"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website_section_id":"ajc./news/atlanta-news","_id":"/news","_website":"ajc","type":"section","version":"0.6.0","name":"News","description":"Atlanta Georgia News main page: Breaking News, Atlanta Weather Forecast, Crime, Politics, GA Schools, Local Articles - 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The board also met in closed-door executive session for 80 minutes.","_id":"GYHKMLYRBFECNGYPM6E74RAAQI","type":"interstitial_link","additional_properties":"_id":"4RSMRWQVDNG65E4H4MN5W7XRZM","comments":[],"url":"https://www.ajc.com/politics/eligibility-of-364000-georgia-voters-challenged-before-senate-runoff/3UIMDOVRFVERXOJ3IBHYWZBWYI/","content":"Eligibility of 364,000 Georgia voters challenged before Senate runoff","_id":"YJQATB4HMZHQTPJ2CWUNYU5VBY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202672,"content":"Fulton Commissioner Bob Ellis last week warned the county elections head Richard Barron that he and his staff should not retaliate against the women. “I was simply making a point about behavior I did not expect to occur, well, obviously it has occurred,” Ellis said Thursday.","_id":"CZ36D4T5MZGV5OFWQKVXH6UYFY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202673,"content":"State Sen. Greg Dolezal, a Republican from Cumming, said Fulton not rehiring Suzi Voyles and Bridget Thorne for the Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoff was unacceptable. He tweeted a copy of Voyles’ letter from the county.","_id":"GM4FQJ4IDBHM3AEHOLEKTZ4NJM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202674,"content":"When asked for comment, a Fulton spokeswoman said that the county “employs thousands of workers to perform elections work. 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Raffensperger on Friday condemned the “political firing” of the two “whistleblowers” and called on the county to rehire Thorne and Voyles.","_id":"HGEKEGXS3BDZ7HGTFGPDOTQIFM","type":"interstitial_link","additional_properties":"_id":"Z3GMVSNJCNDL7A5RJAGKXSPY6Q","comments":[],"url":"https://www.ajc.com/politics/what-counts-for-brad-raffensperger/AALHFQA3SRDONKVR2WEGHWGKDM/","content":"What counts for Brad Raffensperger","_id":"JEHUTUHNGREDTDASUCHQKHJJXQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202682,"content":"“Though we have found no credible evidence of widespread fraud, it is important that individuals can raise their voice when they believe they have seen wrongdoing,” Raffensperger wrote. “Retribution against whistleblowers poses a threat to the continued strength and vibrancy of our democracy.”","_id":"HNHRTAJNGREIRHQOIDBTIUCJSU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202683,"content":"Thorne, who was certified as a technician to help Dominion Voting Systems, tested and calibrated voting machines. Part of that job was printing realistic ballots. She claimed Dominion employees handled those ballots in a “haphazard and careless way.”","_id":"FMTAZ354WVEXDPDAFPLXXYQR4M","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202684,"content":"“I am personally aware that some batches of test ballots were lost during the process and I was required to reprint entire polling districts test ballots a second time,” she wrote in her affidavit.","_id":"Q53G4LOEHVDZZC3LJ7CD5JNZ2U","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202685,"content":"Voyles was one of Georgia’s delegates to the 2020 Republican National Convention, she serves as state chairwoman for Maggie’s List (a group that encourages Conservative women to run for Congress) and is a member of Women for Trump. She also appeared on the Fox News “Hannity” program earlier this month to discuss her alleged elections irregularities.","_id":"5N7QW7GOMBAADPL24ULQEREAMI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202686,"content":"A poll worker for more than two decades, Voyles wrote in her affidavit that she was asked if she would participate in the recount for $200 a day starting Nov. 14. She wrote that “everything was in total disarray at the counting location.”","_id":"MO2DRFL7TJDEBN3ESFSAHHNWG4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202687,"content":"She said that one batch of “absentee-style” ballots was “pristine” and didn’t appeared to have been folded or handled like she would have expected from her 20 years of working elections. In that batch of about 110 ballots, basically all appeared to have been copies and were votes for former Vice President Joe Biden, she claimed. 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She added: “We were amazed at the count. Every one that was in the entire batch was for Biden, overwhelmingly.”","_id":"3MCJTD3P75GMJJYM6GHV3OKUJY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202690,"content":"When she said the same during a state House Governmental Affairs committee meeting on Dec. 10, State Rep. Bee Nguyen, a Democrat from Atlanta, questioned Voyles.","_id":"PB6SABVXA5GBRGF2BBHFMALNP4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202691,"content":"The votes were from Quality Living Service, which is non-profit that offers housing for those over age 50 in southern Fulton.","_id":"FL2HDIWFKFDTHDMZQP35PRV5CI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608678202692,"content":"Nguyen said that demographics show that an overwhelming Biden vote isn’t suspicious in that part of the county. Voyles, who lives in Sandy Springs, said she hasn’t visited the facility but intended to do so.","type":"video","_id":"4HEA5F4UMAIXSDIAZ7APSNA4KE","version":"0.8.0","canonical_url":"/life/top-trump-aide-mark-meadows-visits-georgia-ballot-signature-audit/4HEA5F4UMAIXSDIAZ7APSNA4KE/","canonical_website":"ajc","short_url":"/life/top-trump-aide-mark-meadows-visits-georgia-ballot-signature-audit/4HEA5F4UMAIXSDIAZ7APSNA4KE/","created_date":"2020-12-22T22:06:58Z","last_updated_date":"2020-12-22T22:06:58Z","publish_date":"2020-12-22T22:09:04Z","first_publish_date":"2020-12-22T22:05:34Z","display_date":"2020-12-22T22:05:34Z","headlines":"basic":"Top Trump aide Mark Meadows visits Georgia ballot signature audit","meta_title":"Top Trump aide Mark Meadows visits Georgia ballot signature audit","description":"basic":"White House chief of staff Mark Meadows made a surprise visit Tuesday to observe Georgia’s .naudit of absentee ballot envelope signatures and ask questions about the process.nMeadows, accompanied by Secret Service agents, showed up at the Cobb County Civic Center, .nwhere investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and secretary of state’s office were reviewing absentee ballot envelopes to check whether voter signatures match those on file.nHe met with Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs in a hallway to inquire about the signature audit and what it would find.nHe wasn’t permitted inside the room where investigators were examining ballot envelopes.nSecretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said the signature audit will restore confidence in Georgia’s elections and further dispel unsubstantiated fraud claims.nThe audit, scheduled to be completed by next week, won’t change the outcome of Georgia’s election, .nwhich Democrat Joe Biden won by about 12,000 votes over Republican President Donald Trump","credits":,"taxonomy":"tags":["text":"rct-video","text":"rct-video-an"],"primary_site":"type":"site","_id":"/life","version":"0.5.8","name":"Life","path":"/life","primary":true,"sites":["type":"site","_id":"/life","version":"0.5.8","name":"Life","path":"/life","primary":true],"primary_section":"type":"section","_id":"/life","_website":"ajc","version":"0.6.0","name":"Life","path":"/life","primary":true,"sections":["type":"section","_id":"/life","_website":"ajc","version":"0.6.0","name":"Life","path":"/life","primary":true],"seo_keywords":["rct-video","rct-video-an"],"promo_items":"basic":"type":"image","version":"0.5.8","credits":,"url":"https://d1fegwn2wjh0cs.cloudfront.net/12-22-2020/t_9e2b2512822348c3b445a0651ff4e40b_name_3ccd43305d5e46cab0dd7df1a46f7181","related_content":"redirect":[],"basic":[],"planning":"scheduling":,"revision":"published":true,"syndication":"search":false,"source":"source_id":"b6fe952d92ce8479f97f4aea4f813c419","system":"Wibbitz Videos","edit_url":"https://ajc.arcpublishing.com/goldfish/video/5fe26e02c9e77c000122864d","distributor":"mode":"reference","reference_id":"c64b6e89-2a90-48f5-9749-8efd44b05d77","tracking":"in_url_headline":"top-trump-aide-mark-meadows-visits-georgia-ballot-signature-audit","additional_properties":"subsection":"Life","videoCategory":"wibbitz","anglerfishArcId":"77EJT7NYTZHUPH73AEXGOMADNI","isWire":false,"gifAsThumbnail":false,"videoId":"5fe26e02c9e77c000122864d","vertical":false,"embedContinuousPlay":true,"published":true,"imageResizerUrls":[],"advertising":"allowPrerollOnDomain":false,"autoPlayPreroll":false,"enableAdInsertion":false,"enableAutoPreview":false,"enableServerSideFallback":false,"forceAd":false,"playAds":false,"playVideoAds":true,"videoAdZone":"wpni.video.oodef","disableUpNext":false,"videoAdZone":"wpni.video.oodef","permalinkUrl":"/life/top-trump-aide-mark-meadows-visits-georgia-ballot-signature-audit/4HEA5F4UMAIXSDIAZ7APSNA4KE/","platform":"desktop","sha1":"a6b2e48b984bac1155325cb7439666c3baeb5cf5","playVideoAds":true,"77EJT7NYTZHUPH73AEXGOMADNI":"12-22-2020/t_9e2b2512822348c3b445a0651ff4e40b_name_3ccd43305d5e46cab0dd7df1a46f7181","playlist":"/life","forceClosedCaptionsOn":false,"doNotShowTranscripts":false,"useVariants":false,"has_published_copy":true,"playlistTags":["/life"],"comments":[],"_id":"GD6YSZ4WY5CG3JWKA325YW4ALI","duration":78524,"video_type":"clip","streams":["height":540,"width":960,"filesize":16328364,"stream_type":"ts","url":"https://d189dz6wvushk1.cloudfront.net/wp-ajc/20201222/5fe26e02c9e77c000122864d/t_05dc0c84fd384b21a49dfc0ce84546da_name_00ddedeb88d8423e9cb480bdea5385c4/master.m3u8","bitrate":1500,"provider":"mediaconvert"],"subtitles":,"promo_image":"type":"image","version":"0.5.8","credits":,"url":"https://d1fegwn2wjh0cs.cloudfront.net/12-22-2020/t_9e2b2512822348c3b445a0651ff4e40b_name_3ccd43305d5e46cab0dd7df1a46f7181","embed_html":"

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The mall has fallen out of favor. And Gwinnett Place, in particular, has suffered.","_id":"Q5XUZXIBMVEB7O6GPHCBWHSTCM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154557,"content":"After years of prodding, Gwinnett County commissioners this month announced they had bought much of the 1.278-million-square-foot mall and its parking lot — a total of 39 acres — for $23 million.","_id":"WTVB3VJ5EBHNZBIC43PGZJHMOA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608674088302,"content":"» MORE: What has been proposed at Gwinnett Place Mall?","_id":"O4NLFQ4Q7NFCRJCMD6AVQT3BH4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154558,"content":"What will happen to the property is yet unknown. The remaining three anchor stores own their land, a fourth was purchased previously by a developer and there are still a handful of stores open in the mall’s interior. Three new county commissioners, who will take office next month, will help set the tone for the site’s future.","_id":"UWUJ6AJAMVAZHKLDBWRKNC7ZLQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154559,"content":"But chances are high that its days as a mall are numbered. And so for Lowrey and others, even as they lauded the opportunity to remake the area into something better, the tears were not far from the surface.","_id":"L5QTXLKCUNCS5ALI7FK4BCUU4U","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154560,"content":"“It’s pretty sad even talking about it,” Lowrey said of Gwinnett Place’s demise. “It was like a slow-moving train wreck.”","_id":"TOW7362C6ZE3BP7KMBVCLY3OFY","type":"header","level":1,"additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154561,"content":"‘Flying high’","_id":"ELVOXBJOWJBOHELL55OJHLU4WE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154562,"content":"Gwinnett Place was the brainchild of Scott Hudgens, a real estate developer who put the shopping palace at the site of a former trailer park, near a 24-hour truck stop. When it was built off I-85 and Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, Tom Wheeler remembered, “There weren’t that many roads out there.”","_id":"GPWVVUHAMVHBTCZMOLEPPR6XWM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154563,"content":"The 1984 opening drew then-Gov. Joe Frank Harris, wielding a $30,000 pair of diamond-studded scissors and declaring Gwinnett Place a “monument to the free-enterprise system,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Two years later, Wayne Shackelford, a developer who went on to lead the state Department of Transportation, called the mall “the nerve center of Gwinnett County.”","_id":"KZQ7OKBTY5DTPK2M6JW5YMI724","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154564,"content":"“Regional malls have replaced city halls as the centers of activity,” Shackelford said in 1986. “Development radiates from them now, just like our nation grew up around city halls.”","_id":"PKMACGVHUBCCRIQ3FWHFIFCXWA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650154565,"content":"Hudgens “was a visionary for his time,” said Wheeler, who was president of Hudgens Cos. when Gwinnett Place was built. “This was a coming of age for Gwinnett.”","_id":"OWS4UX2AWVH7HGQSYVZYHK52CE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226191,"content":"Bill Gullion, the general manager when Gwinnett Place opened, remembers it as a no man’s land when the mall was being built. He said in the early days, he had to run off prostitutes who came from the nearby truck stop. At the same time, the “tremendous crowds” caused backups on Pleasant Hill. An opening night party featured a string orchestra and more than $5,000 worth of liquor for 3,000 invited guests.","_id":"O7B5TECNEVHJPIAKWPVL5OGF7E","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226192,"content":"“There was so much hope, so much enthusiasm and optimism,” Gullion said. “Success came a lot faster than we anticipated.”","_id":"EDARZBGQOBG2LCRDRMBGQJDDUQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226193,"content":"People drove from as far as South Carolina to shop, and the mall was fourth in sales per square feet in metro Atlanta, Gullion recalled. Glenn Wisdom, the former general manager of the Gwinnett Place J. C. Penney, said it had been the highest-grossing Penney store in the state.","_id":"ML2ZCUO3MFHYRHGGDE6RUZNWWY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226194,"content":"“It was flying high, it was the place to be,” said Wisdom, now the director of operations for the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District. “We were dying to get into the market.”","_id":"HF4XCLWR5ZFB3FEE33Y2W4YVVA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226195,"content":"But the heyday ended when the Mall of Georgia opened in Buford in 1999, followed by Discover Mills — now Sugarloaf Mills — in Lawrenceville in 2001.","_id":"EIJSOEGLWZD7RDYZGB4BXA6RPA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226196,"content":"The new shopping destinations cut sales in half, said Lowrey, who left Gwinnett Place to become the Mall of Georgia’s general manager in the early 2000s. Tenants left for the new malls, leaving empty holes.","_id":"OBVDXG3EUBE3FHBHPCWO2QKBZE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226197,"content":"The mall sputtered. In 2013, it was purchased by Moonbeam Capital Investments, a group that promised revitalization. But it never came.","_id":"EVDGKZTOKZEMJASUSR4QJTJQ5M","type":"header","level":1,"additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226198,"content":"‘In our DNA’","_id":"7CNMR3LP75GTZKORZ6HPEIEWV4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226199,"content":"For nearly 20 years, Joe Allen has been working to improve the area around the mall. As executive director of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District, Allen said it pains him to see “the ghost town it has become.” He remembers when the mall “was the center of the universe;” thinking of taking his son to meet Santa there still gives Allen chills when he thinks of how his face lit up.","_id":"EXKWG7IL6ZFXZMVPRM6YIAPZNQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226200,"content":"“It really put Gwinnett on the map,” Allen said. “Everyone knows where Gwinnett Place is. It’s in our DNA; we can probably find it blindfolded.”","_id":"VCEQDH5ILBH2VMVBDLUQM6MOMM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226201,"content":"Eric Teusink, who grew up in Gwinnett, recalls running around the mall in a pack of 13-year-old boys, hoping to find a pack of 13-year-old girls near the mall’s fountain to make awkward conversation. He has fond memories of skateboarding “briefly and poorly” in the parking lot and of an easily accessible cigarette machine near a Ruby Tuesday on the mall’s upper level.","_id":"VWZI3VP5DVE65OUQKX5EU4ZNFU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226202,"content":"“It was a somewhat unregulated playground for young teens and preteens,” said Teusink, 39. “It was a brief and beautiful period in a young boy’s life.”","_id":"YOIFZS5XUVDONFJZ7LMRQXG7TQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226203,"content":"Joshua Garcia, 19, is also mourning Gwinnett Place. The Lawrenceville resident remembers shopping at J. C. Penney with his family before the store closed, and eating lunch at a Chinese restaurant in the food court. He went to the mall at least once a month.","_id":"BSBAYOYG5BC7ZP3CZURO7IUCMU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226204,"content":"“If you were just bored in the house, you would go to the mall and see what was there,” he said. “Nobody goes to the mall like they used to before.”","_id":"U7777LVWD5BCXGAKPRJCDRSC6Y","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226205,"content":"Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of architecture and urban design at Georgia Tech, said men tend to be more nostalgic about malls — which were often anchors for their social lives. Women, she said, tend to comparison shop and are quicker to move on to the next set of stores.","_id":"76BL67WPYNDH3G4WYHG55GX3ZA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608667307305,"content":"Gwinnett Place had long been a default downtown for Gwinnett County, and became a symbol of the suburban lifestyle the county could provide, Dunham-Jones said.","_id":"XUDJZXR76FFNHM3U6KLGRZZMJA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226207,"content":"“I think it definitely ends a significant establishment or moment in Gwinnett history,” said Kirkland Carden, the newly elected county commissioner representing the area whose first job was at the Gwinnett Place Abercrombie & Fitch.","_id":"YGIU5KVG5FG6PN35MZJI5B4CWM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226208,"content":"Carden and his friends saw celebrities at the mall — Bow Wow, Bonecrusher, Lil Jon — and MTV scouting people for reality shows. At the time, he said, it was “full of young people with time to kill.” Now, Carden describes Gwinnett Place as “hollow and empty and cold.”","_id":"SPL6GBI24JCLHPKD2ILROEACCI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226209,"content":"He doesn’t see much purpose for the mall anymore. As a member of the board that will make the decision about Gwinnett Place’s future, Carden will have a say in what happens to the “obsolete” Gwinnett Place.","_id":"EBWJRKJK5VDWNPTUPDSHVB7YUM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608659226210,"content":"“Nothing lasts forever,” he said. “We have a chance to make something modern. ... Gwinnett is not the Gwinnett of the 1980s. It’s different. 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He’s the primary caretaker for his son and daughter, so he asked how DeKalb is going to help teachers who are also parents.","_id":"TVVM4JD67NFDFOXD72ZUJN46DI","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607852506,"content":"DeKalb wants to begin its reopening process Jan. 4, with staff returning to school buildings first. Students in grades prekindergarten through second, sixth, and ninth grade will have the option to begin in-person learning on Jan. 19. Students in third through fifth grades, seventh through eighth, and 10th through 12th grades can return Jan 25.","_id":"NZVM73MZLVGSTN7HPKGCUJQ54E","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608665059164,"content":"DeKalb, in accordance with its metrics for reopening, maintained an online-only learning model this school year. 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She said teachers should have more involvement in the planning for in-person learning.","_id":"SSF7DTL54JHI7PBDOXKUJYTCEA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607852504,"content":"Debra Jones of the Organization of DeKalb Educators, which organized the protest, said the district’s actions suggest it doesn’t “value” its educators or else it wouldn’t have changed its reopening threshold.","_id":"XDKBX6O465BDLEEW7SCM76MIBQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608665059168,"content":"“Our teachers want to be teaching in the buildings but they can’t keep the children safe if they’re not safe,” Jones said.","_id":"ML5U4JDU5JHKTASFB7UZLZMYOU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607852510,"content":"A district spokesperson also told the AJC that superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris could always “revise the plan” if there are suggestions from health officials or executive orders from government leaders. The spokesperson said in a statement that “the future response to the COVID-19 pandemic is extremely difficult to predetermine and must be situational.”","_id":"NAW4ORSIRRHZTOMZG5RE5BULFA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607852512,"content":"Several public school districts in the metro area, including Fulton and Gwinnett counties, reopened for face-to-face learning this year. 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Gwinnett’s career and technical education department is working with the Georgia Department of Education, local universities and industry leaders to design a three-course pathway in artificial intelligence, said Babak Mostaghimi, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.","_id":"ZOYYIZUPCFFYZAWHBRWDEKGLOM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650777343,"content":"The artificial intelligence pilot isn’t just about math and programming, Mostaghimi told the school board.","_id":"JMCFN372J5EYNOXNR324P6PWDY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650777344,"content":"“It’s also about creative problem solving, thinking deeply and collaborating with individuals around you to solve the things that matter in your communities,” he said. “It’s about ethics and decision making. An algorithm doesn’t just decide on its own what happens. There’s a human behind it that builds up the code and the programming, and we want to make sure our kids are thinking about bias and the principles.”","_id":"7STLKZBDIVGQ3FBG22GYGIDSZY","type":"interstitial_link","additional_properties":"_id":"3HG5RFGR7ZAN7BITK5O77OBRTI","comments":[],"url":"https://www.ajc.com/staff/alia-malik/","content":"More stories about Gwinnett County Public Schools","_id":"TGQHAEXRSVHWJPOZ4YBATC6WSQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650777345,"content":"The artificial intelligence pilot goes “hand in glove” with Computer Science 4 All, an initiative to expand access to computer science classes beyond the usual high school elective offerings, Mostaghimi said. Computer science and artificial intelligence have overlapping components, such as data analysis and ethics, that have become foundational lessons for every student, administrators said.","_id":"44VQWS4S55EILIGDQOBBO435W4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650777346,"content":"More elementary schools will offer computer science as a new rotating “special” class, along with others such as art and music, Malm said. More schools will also offer the established science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) special, which teaches skills necessary for middle school computer science, Malm said.","_id":"2R3KEVIZYFDV7HA6W2GPIQW7H4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608650777347,"content":"To comply with a new state law, most Gwinnett middle schools last year started offering three electives related to computer science, said Tim Hemans, executive director of career and technical education. 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The group also installed a 30-foot obelisk a few feet away from the cannon in 1908 to honor DeKalb’s Confederate soldiers.","_id":"IFGCFXVZNJAZDAM6TAOSHBN5KQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608602970362,"content":"But DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger declared the obelisk a public nuisance this summer, so it was removed in June.","_id":"4EGAXZO2D5BZVCLICCJAIE4DWM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608602970363,"content":"Several Decatur High School students told the commission on Monday that the cannon should be removed because of its ties to the government’s forced removal of indigenous peoples in the 1800s. According to the Muscogee Nation’s website, the U.S. Army enforced the removal of more than 20,000 Muscogee people to Indian Territory in 1836 and 1837.","_id":"PJWLSSCOURGKLHLW4SM3ARKTFY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607783563,"content":"“We have a hard time with those cannons sticking up there. Some of us are still afraid,” said John Winterhawk of the Muscogee Nation.","_id":"SK3KORMR5BENFCOBSXHWF6EFGM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607783564,"content":"Winterhawk told the commission the Muscogee people question the presence of that cannon because “we have no intention of rising against anybody.” The presence of relics like the cannon, he said, are reminders that “we are an oppressed people.”","_id":"OMOVXEJHENCVXA6XCFSYTJTBV4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607783565,"content":"Decatur High School senior Genesis Reddicks stressed that “Decatur must remove the cannon.” Mark Pifer said it shouldn’t be viewed as a monument to the war. He added that it’s one of Decatur’s oldest pieces of history.","_id":"2ENTJXGVTNFFFE6Q6SYHQCY6IQ","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607783566,"content":"“I think that leaving it in the public eye is a proper reminder that not all of American History ― and personally ― not all of our town’s history is something that we’re proud of, but it is what happened,” Pifer said.","_id":"E4XCJWWBGBF3JPR64I5VAY7ZUE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607783567,"content":"Commissioner George Dusenbury said the cannon should be placed in a museum. DeKalb also needs to figure out how it should handle all of its controversial monuments, he said.","_id":"E4XCJWWBGBF3JPR64I5VAY7ZUE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608607783568,"content":"Commissioner Lesa Mayer said she appreciates the community’s efforts “to justify a wrong” from the past. 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Department spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said some facilities requested Moderna because of the easier storage and handling. Additionally, Moderna will ship a minimum of 100 doses, while Pfizer-BioNTech’s minimum is set at 975 doses.","_id":"4QHGJ4H7TNEDFM64SJ4OLEV5RY","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055858,"content":"The state’s first allotment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 84,000 and a second of about 60,000 doses is scheduled to arrive this week.","_id":"T2D55UJ3KVGJJDUDLLEVCRBTME","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055863,"content":"Georgia was among several states last week that said it received fewer allotments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than anticipated. U.S. Army Gen. Gustave Perna, the operation’s chief operations officer and who’s leading the federal government’s vaccine distribution effort, told reporters Monday that “the forecasted number was one (number). 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CVS and Walgreens have contracted with the federal government to administer those vaccines.","_id":"XFWHEFS6AJBVXEU6E6CRU4JOOA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055859,"content":"Also Monday, DPH launched a vaccine dashboard, which, similar to the coronavirus dashboard will track the number of providers enrolled to give vaccines, as well as the number of vaccines requested and number of vaccines administered. The link to the vaccine dashboard is on the homepage of the DPH website.","_id":"HOHYJOWTW5GWFNN33SWR2TQCOE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588964176,"content":"The ramp-up for vaccinations comes at an especially dark time. Sixteen hospitals recently reported that their intensive care units were so full that they couldn’t accept more ICU patients. 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After a summer peak, the number of new cases, hospitalizations and positivity rate had been steadily falling. But in early October, the trend line took an upward turn, and the number of new infections have been soaring since.","_id":"3R3PJUPBFBFTDAAKWCO4VJZMPA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055860,"content":"For now, vaccine shots have been limited to health care workers, people living and working in long-term care facilities and some federal elected officials.","_id":"XLX2HIMEUVGIDMQNMZJXDFXQ7M","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608593658709,"content":"There are about 537,000 health care workers in Georgia, according to the state health department. As of Monday, 1,258 vaccines had been administered to them. None has reported adverse effects from the vaccine, the department said.","_id":"GVU4CVYIV5H4ZFITI3I56TM4FA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055861,"content":"Doses were also sent to several federal agencies, including the Veterans Health Administration. Last week, the VA complex in Augusta was among 37 nationwide that received doses. On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will begin vaccinating workers at more sites around the country, including at the Atlanta VA in Decatur and the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin.","_id":"QRLYVJFP5FAXDPZHCW6WZY37AA","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055862,"content":"Federal Operation Warp Speed officials said they envision more Americans being able to get vaccinated by late February or early March.","_id":"4BLAS3IVFNEALND5OUHOVZLYV4","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055866,"content":"Meanwhile, nearly three dozen Savannah Fire Department workers, who are first responders, got vaccinated Monday morning.","_id":"XY5OXJXKQRGHRDJTNFSSQEA2II","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055867,"content":"Assistant Chief Elzie Kitchen said the workers respond to medical emergencies.","_id":"WUWJ2V6S4ZCTRKFBSW4VGZREKE","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055868,"content":"“It’s important to (the workers) and important to the citizens and their families to mitigate the spread and get vaccinated,” Kitchen said.","_id":"A4BZ555I6NF5BHHWPRRV2YGEIM","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055869,"content":"Kitchen was among those who received a shot. Two of his sons tested positive for COVID-19. They had minor symptoms and recovered. Some family members are hesitant about being vaccinated, so he’s sharing information about the experience with them to increase their comfort level.","_id":"WIN6V2LT3BGSFHUPN2WVLHNT6U","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055870,"content":"“I believe in the scientists, and I believe in the work that they’ve done,” he said.","_id":"KLHBTMVFHJE4RM2BNUGELIPMMU","type":"text","additional_properties":"comments":[],"inline_comments":[],"_id":1608588055872,"content":"
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