Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mayor Pro Tem Denis Shortal explains the Dunwoody Budget

Dunwoody City Budget Discussion on Video

I decided to test video taping the budget segment of the Dunwoody City Council meeting for uploading to the internet and though it worked, the processing time on the back end would make this very difficult to do on a regular basis. The entire budget discussion takes place over an hour, therefore I only processed a few clips.

The first video starts out with our City Manager, Mr. Warren Hutmacher reading the budget memo found here and then he starts explaining the finer points of the budget. The next two videos are Warren and Police Chief Billy Grogan discussing the police department. The first is a discussion on general police department information (tasers & take home cars) and the second is a police recruitment discussion (retirement). The audio of the entire 3 hour and 14 minute meeting is available here and I need to remember to break these audio files up into smaller segments in the future (79 MB).

General Budget Discussion


General Police Discussion


Police Recruitment Discussion


Monday, December 29, 2008

Dunwoody Police Department is now accepting all applications.

The Dunwoody Police Department is currently accepting applications for a number of civilian and sworn positions. At this time, the anticipated start date for the Dunwoody Police Department is April 1, 2009. Almost all employees will be hired near the first week of March in order to provide ample opportunity for training. The application and authorization for release can be retrieved at www.dunwoodyga.gov The department is taking applications for the following positions:

· Sergeant
· Police Officer
· Detective
· Crime Scene Technician (Civilian)
· Police Service Representative (Civilian)
· Property/Evidence Clerk

If you are interested in one of these positions, please complete an Application for Employment and the Authorization for Release form and mail them to:
Dunwoody Police Department
P.O. Box 888074
Dunwoody, GA 30356

All questions should be directed to 678-382-6900 or by email at jobs@dunwoodyga.gov

Dunwoody Police Application.pdf

Dunwoody Police Department Authorization for Release.pdf

Steps of the Hiring Process

There are 9 steps in the hiring process. A number of these steps are not applicable for civilian employees.

1. Application for Employment
2. Physical Agility Test
3. Oral Interview
4. Conditional Offer of Employment
5. Background Investigation (Occurs simultaneous with other steps)
6. Polygraph
7. Medical Evaluation/Drug Screen
8. Psychological Evaluation
9. Hiring Interview with the Chief of Police
Steps 6-8 may not necessarily occur in this order.

Qualifications & Salary

Police Officer
Minimum Requirements:
· Must be a US Citizen
· Must be a current Georgia certified police officer through P.O.S.T.
· High School diploma (or GED equivalent)
· Must possess a valid Georgia Class C Driver’s License
· Must be 21 years of age
· No felony convictions during your lifetime
· No discharge from any military organization less than honorable
· No termination for cause from a local, state or federal civil service or merit system job

The above requirements are not all-inclusive.

A highly competitive salary range for all positions is currently being developed. Starting salaries will depend on qualifications.

· Vacation
· Holiday
· Sick Leave
· Credit Union
· Medical Insurance
· Life Insurance
· Short & Long Term Disability Insurance
· Employee Assistance Program
· Tuition Reimbursement (Currently under consideration)
· Fitness Center Membership (Currently under consideration)

· Have a Take Home Car Program in the near future.

Wanted - Executive Assistant to Dunwoody Police Department

The City of Dunwoody is looking to hire an Executive Assistant to serve as Executive Secretary to the Chief of Police and senior command staff for the Dunwoody Police Department. Duties include high level administrative work supporting the Chief of Police, responding to the general public; and creating reports, correspondence and other documents for the Chief of Police. Duties are performed under the general supervision of the Chief of Police.

Associates Degree in business, public administration, or related field from an accredited college or university. Five years of progressively responsible experience in a professional setting. Any equivalent combination of education and experience is acceptable.

Must be able to manage multiple items at the same time; prioritize tasks; and meet recurring and period time constraints; must be able to maintain confidentiality. Must be bondable by a surety company. Certification as a notary public must be obtained within sixty days of employment with the City. Must possess a valid State of Georgia Driver's License (Class C) and a satisfactory Motor Vehicle Record (MVR).

To apply please email resume to jobs@dunwoodyga.gov by Wednesday, December 31, 2008.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dunwoody set to fund $5.25 Million dollar police force - AJC

By April Hunt of the AJC

Even as the Dunwoody City Council reviews its 2009 budget Monday night, the main issue will be police service.

The council is expected to sign off on a projected $14.4 million budget at Monday night’s special meeting, with more than a third of the total for the new city to start its own Police Department.

As of last week, that $5.25 million proposal included pay for a 40-member force: 35 sworn officers at sergeant-grade or below for patrols and investigation, three lieutenants, a deputy chief and chief of police. Five civilians — an administrative assistant, crime scene technician, a property/evidence technician and two service representatives to help with records and the public — would round out the force.

“We are committed to developing a top-notch Police Department that interacts daily with the residents and businesses of Dunwoody,” Chief Billy Grogan said. “People need to see police cars out there.”

Increasing police protection from the current service from DeKalb County police was one of the main reasons that residents in the northern DeKalb city voted to incorporate earlier this year. Advocates of cityhood pledged that the city would be able to increase patrols.

Grogan appears ready to deliver on that promise. The county force has three officers working “beats” in Dunwoody, in each of three overlapping shifts per day.

A new city force would work just two 12-hour shifts every day. With the planned force, that means at least five officers on each shift, Grogan said.

“We are working it so that we’re able to put a little bit more officers out on the street, with the same manpower,” Grogan said.

Another concern is when those officers will be ready to go. When the council last week OK’d a deal to continue DeKalb police service for up to six months, members again insisted the city have its force ready to go by April 1.

Otherwise routine city business has been conducted in the shadow of hitting that mark. For instance, the council’s talk of insurance included several references of the need to insure patrol officers. Cost-saving questions for the budget included debates about whether the city should buy or lease its patrol cars, which it plans to let officers take home as a recruiting tool.

The latest plan calls for buying pool cars in the first year, since the city will not have the money to buy enough cars for each officer by this spring.

And the city will specify that only experienced police will be considered in its hiring. That will allow for just a month’s training, on internal policies and procedures, to get the department on the street by spring.

“It’s been a whirlwind of activity to meet that aggressive deadline of April 1,” said city manager Warren Hutmacher. “We know that we have to meet it, and we will.”

Monday’s meeting begins at 7 at Dunwoody United Methodist Church.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

DeKalb County Transition Report of Dec 19, 2008

For the last several years I have been a harsh critic of DeKalb County and particularly the Vernon Jones Administration for the numerous items of waste, fraud and abuses of power.

January 5th is a new day in DeKalb County and I am very hopeful that CEO Elect Burrell Ellis and his very capable Executive Assistant, Mr. Keith Barker will be able to quickly correct many of the issues now facing the County. Myself and several other members of the Dunwoody City Council will be in attendance at the inauguration to congratulate Mr. Ellis and wish him well.

Attached is a copy of the 91 page Transition Report which outlines a number of recommendations made by a blue ribbon plan to the new CEO.

Dunwoody related videos from 2008

I had a request to post all of the Dunwoody videos in one place, so here quite a few of them. For the more than 200 people who have signed up to receive this blog via e-mail, I have included the specific links to each video but you would be better served by clicking the blog entry title to see the HTML version where the video's are actually embedded.

Jill Chambers explains her vote against the City of Dunwoody


Dunwoody Cityhood being revived?


400 Dunwoody residents meet with Majority Leader Jerry Keen


Residents want control of their own destiny.


Living a Mayberry Fantasy in Dunwoody, GA while reporting on the push for Cityhood.


Dunwoody passes the GA House enroute to Sonny's Desk


Dunwoody Yes and the 4th of July Parade


Dunwoody Yes Rally of July 14th


Dunwoody Starts Voting


Dunwoody Referendum Passes with 81%


Newly Elected Council Members


Elaine hopes for a Friendly Divorce and Vernon wants Death by Bow Tie


The City officially starts on December 1st


Friday, December 26, 2008

Budget Memo to Mayor and City Council from the Dunwoody City Manager

Dunwoody Projected Expenses of 14 Million

It is my pleasure to submit to you the first budget for the City of Dunwoody. It is awe inspiring to consider the thousands of dedicated citizens and business leaders who spent countless hours working passionately to create the great City of Dunwoody since the 1970's when incorporation was first proposed in the Georgia General Assembly. All of the blood, sweat and tears have culminated in the incorporation of the newest city in Georgia - the City of Dunwoody.

Given the monumental struggle for local control this community has overcome for the past 30+ years, it is humbling to serve as your City Manager. I look forward to presenting many budgets to you over the coming years and each of those budgets will build upon a commitment to superior service and fiscal responsibility. Dunwoody is a premier community and our future depends on our financial stability.

The Fiscal Year 2009 (January 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009) budget is a challenging budget for two reasons: (1) The economic downturn nationally, regionally and locally has destabilized traditionally rich revenue sources for local governments; which limits our ability to deliver high quality services at a high cost factor, and (2) There is no history for the City of Dunwoody and therefore, a number of assumptions and well laid out plans are in place in this budget. We will need to monitor revenue collections and expenses more carefully than at any point in our future.

With all of that said, the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget collects enough revenue to support a high level of city services without any increase to the previously conceived millage rate of 2.74 mills. This rate ensures that our taxpayers pay no more to the City of Dunwoody then they have historically been paying to DeKalb County through the County's unincorporated special services tax rate. Property taxes, franchise fees and business license revenue make up 70% of our total revenue. I will be monitoring all revenue sources throughout the year to make sure we are hitting our projections, but it will be crucial for the City of Dunwoody to collect every dollar legitimately owed to the City in these top three categories to guarantee that we will have ample revenue to deliver the best municipal services to our community.

The City will be utilizing Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) financing in FY 2009 to level out cash flow problems that any new incorporated city would experience. We are estimating that the TAN will be approximately $6,000,000 and will only used on a "draw" basis to make certain that we are only paying interest on funds that we vitally need for cash flow purposes.

On the expense side, the City is prepared to deliver services on January 1, 2009 through an innovative set of partnerships with three private sector firms who will provide the City of Dunwoody with Community Development (Clark Patterson Lee), Public Works (Lowe Engineers) and Finance and Administration (Calvin, Giordano and Associates) services. All of our critical staff is in place and our citizens and business owners will not only see not drop in service delivery, but they will witness a dynamic and dedicated process of delivering high quality and responsive city services. Early projections prior to incorporation projected service delivery costs well above the costs that we are now contracted to spend. This cost savings, in my opinion, is due to this innovative approach of using several vendors to provide services instead of using one company to manage city operations. I think that in time, this model of service delivery will prove to be effective and cost efficient.

DeKalb County will continue to provide our community with water and sewer supply, treatment and distribution services, fire and rescue, sanitation, and E-911 services for the foreseeable future. The County will also provide Police services for a ninety day period, during such time the City of Dunwoody will be preparing to go "live" with police protection starting April 1, 2009. An intergovernmental agreement is in place that will compensate the County $430,000 per month for this service.

Fiscal Year 2009 will be an exciting year. Over the coming days, the City will add a Finance Director, City Clerk and Municipal Court Clerk. A City Hall will be chosen and built out for occupancy on June 1, 2009 and a new Police Station will be built out for occupancy on March 15, 2009. The City will be recruiting an army of volunteers to fill various boards and commissions that will regulate land development and provide the elected officials with advise, counsel and recommendations. A comprehensive plan will be developed this year that will afford the community the opportunity to create the road map for our future. Roads will be paved, potholes filled, curbs repaired and signals timed properly. Our parks will be clean and safe and our citizens, visitors and business owners will be treated like family. The new City of Dunwoody will not be a replica of what has been done in the past, but instead we will be an innovative, transparent and dynamic local government, where billions of dollars in commerce are transacted and families live a charmed life in a beautiful community.

In the final analysis, the City will take in approximately $15,000,000 in revenue and expend nearly $14,000,000 over the course of this year. Including a $500,000 contingency fund in the Non- Departmental budget, the City intends to transfer $1,500,000 to fund balance reserves for FY 2010 and beyond. This is a great start toward a fiscally stable future for the City of Dunwoody.

I am eager for January 1, 2009 to arrive so that we can begin to live the dream of residing in the City of Dunwoody. I am excited to work with all of you to bring pour vision and your goals for our great community to life.

Warren A. Hutmacher
City Manager

Dunwoody to review City Budget on Monday Night

Dunwoody Projected Revenue of 15 Million

Monday night the Dunwoody City Council will be holding a special budget meeting to review the cities finances and vote on a number of other issues. I have highlighted a few items from the full agenda and linked some of the relevant documents.

PUBLIC HEARING – City of Dunwoody 2009 Fiscal Year Budget. Presentation and Recommendation by City Manager Warren Hutmacher. (15M in Rev & 14 M in Exp with another .5 M in contingency reserves but does it meet our service needs? Service levels for Police, Code Enforcement, Roads & Parks, are they correct?)

Ordinance to adopt and approve the City of Dunwoody Interim Future Land Use Map. (Map will be available by Mon.)

Ordinance to adopt the City of Dunwoody Fiscal Year. (Jan 1 - Dec 31)
Discussion and vote on approving Resolution appointing judges for the City of Dunwoody Municipal Court. (Rick Powell, Tony Del Campo & Tim Wolfe)

Ordinance to adopt the International Property Maintenance Code.

Ordinance Authorizing the City of Dunwoody Tax Anticipation Note. ($6 Million)

Discussion and vote on Ordinance to adopt and approve Chapter 25 (“Water, Sewer and Sewage Disposal”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

Discussion and Vote on Ordinance to adopt and approve Chapter 16 (“Offenses and Violations”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances. (Breastfeeding is not indecent and I will be proposing a specific exception be added.)

Discussion and vote on Ordinance to amend a provision of Chapter 15 (“Business Occupation Tax, Licenses and Regulation”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

Discussion and vote on approving the final contract with Lowe Engineering for Public Works services for the City of Dunwoody.

Discussion and vote on approving Ordinance granting Comcast of Georgia a Franchise Agreement for Cable and Video Services.

Discussion and vote on approving Resolution terminating moratorium on business and alcohol license applications and issuance. (Dec 31st processing begins.)

Discussion and vote on approving Resolution adopting a Fee Schedule for various planning and zoning functions.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Year in Review the "City of Dunwoody"

A year ago the City of Dunwoody only officially existed in the plans of those who were working towards their final objective of creating a City. Though much work was done to get us to that point last January, several difficult hurdles needed to be overcome. With the help of Fran Millar, Dan Weber and hundreds of volunteers, we are now celebrating this holiday season officially in the City of Dunwoody.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or for you Seinfeld fans, Happy Festivus.


City of Dunwoody has major support

City of Dunwoody referendum defeated in committee


Jill Chambers spouts FUD tactics to justify her denial of Dunwoody's self determination.
(PS: there is a sexy blond featured in this video hiding behind her Foster Grants.)

Dunwoody Bill being revived? (video)

Dunwoody rises from the ashes


Jill & Vernon sitting in a tree.... ugh.. I feel sick (video)

Done deal for Dunwoody, House ok ends three-year battle.


Last Minute Dunwoody Property Transfer Bill Fails.

City Operations, Task Force Kickoff meeting for the future of Dunwoody.


Living a Mayberry Fantasy in Dunwoody, GA while reporting on the push for Cityhood. (video)

Barnes hired to Fight Dunwoody Cityhood (video)


Dunwoody Homeowners Association sponsoring Thursdays Dunwoody Forum. (video)

AJC reports that 200 request absentee ballots for City Referendum


Dunwoody Yes on the news and a wonderful 4th of July Parade. (video)

Residents approve the City of Dunwoody


Task Force Reports & will CH2MHill be a good deal for us?

Frequent question, What Dunwoody Voting District do I live in?


Dunwoody faces projected $2.3 million shortfall.

John Heneghan & Tom Taylor interviewed following election to City Council. (video)

Dunwoody Election Results

Why is this a tough decision? A $6.9 million surplus vs. $2 million deficit over 3 years.


Weber's outline of why to use the Hybrid Model in Dunwoody.

CH2M Hill withdraws Dunwoody bid & Boyken presents their plan to assist city.

Election Day, Boyken, Attorneys, Alcohol & Murder


Warren Hutmacher named as Dunwoody's first City Manager.

Councilman Robert Wittenstein provides a comprehensive update on Dunwoody.


Dunwoody ribbon cutting and decision to take over a number of County services.

Billy Grogan named Dunwoody's first Police Chief.

On December 29th there will be a budget hearing where I believe we will be announcing that Dunwoody will be operating in the Black in year one. Compare that to the news stories above from September.

We've come a long way since last January but there is still much work to be done, I'm just happy to have been a part of it. Thank you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 Year in Review - My Personal Blog Favorites

Oh what a year it has been! I published over 400 blog entries in 2008 many of which were just simple news tidbits that I wanted to pass along, but then there are others that I am truly proud of writing.

Prior to my election to the Dunwoody City Council my blog was focused towards obtaining for my neighborhood the best governmental services available. Lately the goal of my blog has been to set the Gold Standard for Transparency in Government, while now providing the best governmental services to the entire city. It has been a lot of work maintaining this site but I am told that the City of Dunwoody website will be completely overhauled in several months and will fully meet or exceed my expectations. When that happens my blog may morph again but until then I will continue to do what I have been doing, thereby setting a minimum level of service for the City to aspire to on their new page.

Here are some of my personal blog favorites going back to last December and before the year is out I will be compiling a separate list related just to the quest of Dunwoody becoming a City.

Dec 2007

If this isn't pointing a finger then maybe it's just a one finger salute?

Jan 2008

HB968 - Speed Enforcement Legislation proposed for Parks.

Feb 2008

DeKalb Park Master Plan redo costs $249,600.00 - Open Records Request

Mar 2008

Civic leader forces action on PCMS crosswalk - Crier

If I were a reporter in DeKalb on Tuesday, Police & Parks would be my focus.

Apr 2008

Being a part time blogger doesn’t make me a journalist in the eyes of the Atlanta Press Club.

Has Brook Run been properly cleaned up or was it just buried? Show me proof & test results.

May 2008

GA Speeding Laws need to be Changed - here is just another example.

Jun 2008

Odd that Rep. Jill Chambers' street was repaved last year by DeKalb County when there are 45 miles of roads in Dunwoody, rated as poor quality?

Is it possible to take local politics out of road maintenance? We can only dream.

Jul 2008

Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog

John Heneghan announces candidacy for Dunwoody City Council, District 3 at large.

Bird aviary vs. needed roads improvements, we can’t afford it all, must have items will take priority over nice to have.

Aug 2008

My personal ethics keep getting in the way, not to mention the State & Federal Laws.

My top priorities for Dunwoody

Sep 2008

Proudly not being endorsed by the Atlanta Board of Realtors !!

Where were you seven years ago today?

Oct 2008

Brook Run averages 2,250 voters per day, 2 hour wait and Tom keeps waving.

Nov 2008

Busy day in Dunwoody

Dec 2008

Local Blogs all the Rage

The abbreviated History of Dunwoody available on YouTube

Friday, December 19, 2008

Recap of the 12/18 Dunwoody City Council Meeting

It was a late night meeting for the Dunwoody City Council working for about 3 and a half hours, so I am going to cut this recap short.

Take a look at the agenda and everything passed except for the Public Works contract for Lowe Engineering which was tabled until our next meeting of December 29th because the City Council wasn't given the proper notice to properly review the $700,000 contract.

We passed the Sign & Zoning ordinances, the police IGA was passed (AJC Article here), the Sexually Oriented Business ordinance was passed and we approved the Ethics ordinance for the final time.

Finally a Sustainability Board was created and if you want a preview of what they will be working on, just look here.

There were a number of breaks during the meeting therefore there are three separate audio files. Take a look at the agenda, Audio 1 is start until the end of Signs, Audio 2 is Sexually Oriented Businesses until the end of the discussion of our Tax Anticipation Note and Audio 3 is New Business until the end. No meeting on the 22nd & our first budget meeting is December 29th.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dunwoody comes to an agreement with the DeKalb P.D. and looks to sign off on Large City Contractors.

Thursday Night is a Special Meeting of the Dunwoody City Council to conduct hearings on Zoning and Sign ordinances but besides those items the agenda is packed with a number of noteworthy action items.

It looks as if we have come to final contract terms with our three vendors but City Hall forgot to attach the documentation on the public works contract. We will be hearing an expert presentation on sexually oriented businesses and voting on the proposed ordinance. It also looks as if we have come to an agreement with DeKalb County for an IGA on extended police services which will be costing us $430,000.00 per month until at least March 31st. I have placed on the agenda a resolution for the city to form a Sustainability Commission to explore becoming a certified ARC Green Community and with a little oversight we should be able to meet the requirements for basic certification within a year.

All of the relevant documents that I had available are either linked below or found here. If you are able to make it to tonight's meeting and we haven't had the pleasure of meeting, please come up and introduce yourself to me either before or after the meeting. Thanks, John

Full Agenda

PUBLIC HEARING – City Council Policies and Procedures for Zoning Hearings.
Discussion and Vote on Ordinance to adopt the Dunwoody City Council Policies and Procedures Governing Public Hearings.

PUBLIC HEARING – City of Dunwoody Zoning Ordinance.
Discussion and Vote on Ordinance to adopt and approve Chapter 27 (“City of Dunwoody Zoning Ordinance”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

PUBLIC HEARING – City of Dunwoody Sign Ordinance.
Discussion and Vote on Ordinance to adopt and approve Chapter 21 (“Signs”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

Evidentiary Presentation, Second Read, Discussion and Vote on Ordinance Establishing Licensing Requirements and Regulation for Sexually Oriented Businesses Within Dunwoody, Georgia.

Second Read and vote on approving Ordinance Adopting Chapter 7 (“Building Code”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

Second Read and vote on approving Ordinance Adopting Chapter 14 (“Land Development and Environmental Protection”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

Second Read and vote on approving Ordinance Adopting Chapter 17 (“Traffic and Public Roadways”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

Second Read and vote on approving Ordinance Adopting Chapter 23 (“Streets and Sidewalks”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

Second Read and vote on approving Ordinance granting Comcast of Georgia a Franchise Agreement for Cable and Video Services.

Second Read and vote on approving Ordinance Adopting Chapter 9 (“Ethics”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS - Discussion of Tax Anticipation Note’s.

ACTION ITEM: Discussion and vote on approving the final contract with Clark Patterson Lee for Community Development services for the City of Dunwoody. $1.556 M

ACTION ITEM: Discussion and vote on approving the final contract with Lowe Engineering for Public Works services for the City of Dunwoody.

ACTION ITEM: Discussion and vote on approving the final contract with Calvin Giordano & Associates for Financial and Administrative services for the City of Dunwoody. $1.857 M

First Read of Ordinance to adopt and approve Chapter 25 (“Water, Sewer and Sewage Disposal”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances (First Read).

First Read of Ordinance to adopt and approve Chapter 16 (“Offenses and Violations”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances (First Read).

ACTION ITEM: Discussion and vote on approving expenditure for sexually oriented business license ordinance expert presentation.

Discussion and vote on approving Resolution adopting fees for business occupation taxes and licenses. Same tax rate as DeKalb but we included more exceptions so less people have to pay.

First Read of Ordinance to amend a provision of Chapter 15 (“Business Occupation Tax, Licenses and Regulation”) of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances (First Read).

Discussion and vote on approving Resolution adopting and approving amended Rules and Procedures for City Council Meetings. Invocation to be added to agenda and I will make an amendment to add public comment prior to final vote of all ordinance changes.

Discussion and vote on approving Resolution approving the Intergovernmental Agreement with DeKalb County for Police Services. $430,000 per month

Discussion and vote on approving Resolution creating a Sustainability Commission for the City of Dunwoody. Checklist for certification.

Blackburn Tennis Contract Cancelation, it doesn't pass the smell test.


County angers Blackburn players
By Bill Florence for The Crier

Charlie Dixon and his friends are worried.
Every weekday for the past 19 years, Dixon and his group of almost 70 mostly retired men in their 60’s and 70’s meet at Blackburn Tennis Center for three hours of tennis and fellowship. It’s an important daily ritual that provides the men with good exercise, a chance to get outdoors and companionship. As Dixon puts it, “it helps keep us alive.”

Dixon is effusive in his praise for Jon Niemeyer, who has held a county contract to operate Blackburn since the center opened in 1976. When Niemeyer opened Blackburn on Ashford Dunwoody Road 32 years ago, there were only four courts and a trailer that housed the pro shop.
Today, Blackburn boasts 18 lighted courts, along with a fully-stocked pro shop, a staff of five teaching professionals, wheelchair access, ball machine rentals and a junior tennis academy. In 2005, USA Today named Blackburn as one of the top 10 public tennis centers in the country.

But, Niemeyer’s days operating Blackburn may be numbered.
Approximately one month ago, Niemeyer met with a representative of Economics Research Associates, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm. The representative told Niemeyer the firm had been retained by the DeKalb Parks and Recreation Department to assess the operating contracts for the county’s three tennis centers and two golf courses in preparation for the county seeking to rebid the contracts. DeKalb officials are expected to receive the consultant’s report this week.

The news stunned Niemeyer. Not only does he still have two years remaining on his current contract to manage both Blackburn and the DeKalb Tennis Center near Emory, but, according to Niemeyer, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) believes the two tennis centers he manages are the only two public tennis facilities in Metro Atlanta, and perhaps the state, that earn a profit.

“We clearly have the number one public tennis center in Atlanta, so it seems very odd the county wants to do this now,” said Niemeyer. “Every other public tennis center around us is losing money, including the county’s facility in south DeKalb, and the county want to end our contract? Something is rotten, because this just doesn’t make sense.”

Niemeyer said Blackburn had made money despite the county’s refusal to maintain the center’s asphalt courts, as required in the contract. “Our courts are in terrible shape,” said Niemeyer. “The county says they don’t have money to resurface the courts. Because the county won’t fix the courts, we’ve lost the national wheelchair tournament we held for 20 years.” “Worse, we’ve lost the opportunity to host major USTA Southern and national events. Last year, a USTA event we’ve hosted four times in the past brought in $8 million for Mobile, Alabama. USTA has told me they would love to come back here, because of our proximity to Perimeter Mall hotels and restaurants, but they won’t come back until our courts are fixed.”

The county’s desire to terminate Niemeyer’s contract prematurely, and after 32 continuous years of operating Blackburn, infuriates Dixon. “This just isn’t fair,” said Dixon. “How can they do this when he still has a contract? My friends and I can’t understand the county’s rationale. It’s such a no-brainer to keep Jon here. He’s good for tennis, good for business, and he’s good for DeKalb.”

Dixon said he’s heard rumors out-going DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones wants to terminate Niemeyer’s contract before Jones leaves office at year’s end. The reason? To allegedly open the door for one of Jones’ friends to take over the profitable Blackburn and DeKalb tennis center’s contract. However, Dixon said even if the Jones rumors are false, he and his friends don’t understand the county’s reasons for ending Niemeyer’s contract. DeKalb County spokesperson Kristie Swink said the Parks and Recreation Department has no complaints with Niemeyer. Instead, Swink said the Parks Department, like all county departments, was reviewing its operations to find additional revenue sources and reduce spending.

“With the challenging economic conditions we face, the new CEO, Burrell Ellis, has asked every department to go over their existing contracts with a fine tooth comb,” said Swink. “The Parks Department feels it’s in the county’s best interests to rebid Mr. Niemeyer’s contract. No one is saying he’s not going a good job. But, he’s held the contract for more than 30 years. Mr. Niemeyer is welcome to submit a new bid in the next few months when we post the request for proposal. The county wants to make sure taxpayers dollars are being spent wisely.”

Dixon isn’t satisfied with the county’s response. “I’m worried that the county may be strapped for cash, particularly with Dunwoody becoming a city,” said Dixon. “But, Niemeyer is part of the solution, not the problem. This is Jon’s livelihood, and something he’s invested the last 32 years of his life in making a success. Ending his contract now just isn’t right.”


Tennis, anyone? "A lot of sports, over the years, become a game," says legendary tennis star Billie Jean King, ranked No. 1 in the world five times between 1966 and 1972, listed in the top 10 for 17 years and a four-time winner of the U.S. Open, which starts Monday and runs through Sept. 11. "If you are into tennis, it becomes part of your lifestyle," she says.

Today, she is an active promoter of public access and public programs in tennis (70% of all tennis in the USA is played on public-access courts). "I'm a product of the public parks system, and if I had not had my first free group lesson at Houghton Park in Long Beach, I may not have become a tennis player." Here, she shares with USA TODAY's Shawn Sell some favorite public spots to "keep tennis alive in hometowns" and elsewhere.

Blackburn Tennis Center, Atlanta
Here in Atlanta, "they really enjoy their tennis," King says, and there is "an abundance of excellent tennis facilities, such as the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, Stone Mountain and Blackburn, an outstanding county facility that features 18 lighted hard courts and instruction for all levels." 770-451-1061

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dunwoody Mayor Ken Wright profiled in Creative Loafing highlighting his commitment to the arts.

Mayor Ken Wright

Creative Loafing's blog, Fresh Loaf did a nice interview on our esteemed Mayor that I thought I would share. My wife & I also had the pleasure of attending the current show at Stage Door, "A Taffeta Christmas" and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Next week we will be attending the "Sound of Music" at the Center Theater of the MJCCA. Both shows run for at least another week and are well worth the price of admission.

Speakeasy with Ken Wright by Curt Holman

Ken Wright is literally putting his money where his mouth is, both as the first mayor of Dunwoody and as a supporter of the arts. President of health care software company eHealthcareIT, Wright has pledged to donate his first year mayoral salary of $16,000 to Stage Door Players, a small, 24-year-old professional playhouse. Artistic director Robert Egizio says “It will go into a general operating fund to be used as needed. His backing has jump-started a new and profound interest in Stage Door.”

How long have you known the work of Stage Door Players?

I’ve known of them for quite a long time, but have been a regular patron for four years or so. My wife and I have season tickets, and it’s a rare date night for us. Robert is an extremely talented director, and I think it’s important to keep the group whole and give them as much of a future as possible.

How did you decide to give them your first year’s salary?
I was — how shall I put this — convinced to run for mayor, because I’ve never been interested in public office. I’m a businessman and an entrepreneur. But I think community involvement is important. I’ve never done anything for the community and gotten paid for it. I thought a nice way to kick the city off would be for Dunwoody to pick a cause and donate to it. These are guys who could certainly utilize the funding, and it would let folks known they’re out there. The marketing aspect is always a struggle for a performing arts group. They’re certainly an important aspect of our community

It sounds like those auto industry CEOs being paid $1 a year.
They’re not as innocent, though. (Laughs.) It’s the right thing to do.

How did you tell them, and how will they get the money?
I told one of their board members. I didn’t make a big production of it: “Get a picture of Ken with a giant check!” I told them I’m donating my salary after Uncle Sam takes his bite. For a year, it’ll flow right to them.

How important do you think the arts are in a community?
I’ve always been a believer that you have to have a healthy arts aspect to be a well-rounded community. If you don’t, you’re missing something important. If you have a community of all industrial sites, you’re missing a hell of a lot. You have the industrial sites, but no residences, no arts. We’ve got various groups in Dunwoody. We’re fortunate that we have the Spruill Arts Center, which offers classes from A to Z.

Has anyone hit you up for your next year’s salary?
My term is for three years, and we’ll have to see. I’m not Daddy Warbucks. I’ve got a 529 college fund to build up for my children.

Roswell wins a Billboard Battle but the War rages on.

I have more questions than answers regarding the Billboard story in the Dunwoody Crier but thought this little video from tonight's news was interesting enough to share.


Nine billboards sought in heart of Dunwoody

By Cathy Cobbs for the Dunwoody Crier

The Dunwoody City Council heard Monday night at its work session of a series of applications submitted Monday to DeKalb County for nine billboards in the new city. Almost all of them appear to be aimed at the interior of the city, not commuter arteries such as I-285 and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. One seems to be at the corner where the symbolic Dunwoody Farmhouse stands.

The applications have been submitted by Covenant Media of Georgia, a Buford-based company. All are to be electronic, and 672 square feet in size, the same size as the billboard erected November 30 at the Chevron station at Chamblee Dunwoody Road and I-285.

The applications do not indicate the height of the signs. The paperwork, submitted to DeKalb County’s Planning and Development Department as The Crier went to press, indicates the signs are to be erected at:

# 5395 Chamblee Dunwoody Road (at the corner of Mount Vernon Road in the Dunwoody Village overlay district near the Dunwoody Farmhouse.)

# 2460 Jett Ferry Road (near the Williamsburg Shopping Center)

# 0 Old Georgetown Trail (near the Georgetown Shopping Center)

# 5528 Chamblee Dunwoody Road (near the Dunwoody Hall/Publix Shopping Center)

# 5468 Chamblee Dunwoody Road (near the Burger King at the corner of Nandina Lane)

# 4630 and 4639 N. Shallowford Road (between Village Drive and Dunwoody Park Drive)

# 4537 Chamblee Dunwoody Road (at the corner of Old Spring House Lane)

# 4540 Ashford Dunwoody Road (at the corner of Ashford Dunwoody Road and Perimeter Center West)

It’s unlikely, city officials say, that DeKalb County would take action on the applications before January 1, when Dunwoody begins city operations and takes over planning, zoning and development functions from the county.

According to DeKalb County spokesperson Kristie Swink in November, the county stopped taking applications for new businesses then, saying that it would take too long to process the applications, and that business owners would have to reapply when Dunwoody began operations.

Dunwoody’s city attorney, Brian Anderson, said the applications should be denied or deferred by DeKalb County.

"At the point of the permit application," Brian Anderson said, "case law indicates the company has a vested right and a reasonable argument that the permit will be granted. But we take the position they have no such right because there is a zoning moratorium in place and they should be aware the city of Dunwoody will be approving its own rules and permitting on billboards."

Local Blogs all the Rage

As a reader of many online local news sources I enjoy the personalities that are expressed by the stories they tell. When I find a local blog of note, I promote their good works by either a separate entry or I add them to my blogroll located at the bottom right of this page and encourage others to read.

Today "Griftdrift" a respected writer and political pundit in Atlanta who writes the "Drifting through the Grift" blog listed the 5th biggest blog story of the year, the rise of the local blog.

Besides the DecaturMetro and inDecatur blogs that were honored by Atlanta Magazine this year as the best neighborhood news, Griftdrift named my little Dunwoody Blog as an example worth noting. He also named several of my favorites, including DeKalb Officers and the newly created DeKalb County School Watch as standouts in the category.

The point is don't listen or watch just one stream of media news, look for the opinionated quirky blog that stretches the imagination and questions the establishment. My blogroll is a snapshot of what I read and I encourage you to explore the blogosphere outside your comfort zone.

My last suggestion, is to read the comments. The DeKalb County School Watch has a post that says basically nothing yet there are 45 comments going back and forth regarding the new Dunwoody 4/5th grade elementary school roof and the arrogance of the the DCSS. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sandy Springs follows Chamblee's lead on publishing Crime Stats. Is Dunwoody Next?

The City of Sandy Springs just announced that the City has started using the online crime mapping program offered by Crimereports.com. The City of Chamblee started on the program back in February and I want something like this for Dunwoody.

In fact I campaigned on the issue of open and transparent government and I strongly believe that all crime statistics should be available on line for the citizens who are depending on and paying for the services.

While I am looking at my original list of priorities for Dunwoody, I am reminded that I would like to see financial incentives offered to officers who live within the city limits. This evening the City Manager discussed take home cars for each of the estimated 37 officers and I would prefer to see the money usually spent on gas paid directly to the officer who is willing to make Dunwoody his home.

Retention of every officer in a competitive market is a long-term savings over the additional costs associated with obtaining & hiring new recruits; because of this our compensation and benefit program should be just as competitive and innovative as anyone else out there.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Meeting audio from Monday Night & check out the Crier for the new Signs being proposed.


At Monday's work session we reviewed and worked though the details of several proposed ordinances and then went over the budget which shows a surplus of about 1 Million dollars.

The AJC noted that we have made a huge financial turnaround from September when we were entertaining the idea of contracting out to one master contractor. Saving the peoples money is a good thing but the service level being purchased with those dollars should be at an acceptable level for those same citizens who are paying the bills. That point is still yet to be seen.

Trees were a big topic of discussion and it appears to me that we may need to carefully review the tree policy being discussed as a community or at least discuss an effective enforcement strategy on preserving as many trees that we can. To do this we may want to start working towards the Tree City USA Certification and I will be discussing this with other members of the council.


I also discovered that Dunwoody's Comprehensive Land use plan will be fast tracked with heavy resident participation with the RFP interviews taking place very soon. Here is DeKalb's Comprehensive plan (Large File 30 MB) for a preview of what we have in strore.

The final big news of the evening came from the City Attorney notifying the Council that DeKalb County has received NINE more applications for large scale signs to be placed through out Dunwoody. Check out "The Crier" on Tuesday since Dick Williams stated that he is running the story in tomorrow's edition. I will repost the article as soon as I get it.

Dunwoody Nature Center Winter Update

The holidays are right around the corner - give yourself a much-needed "time out" with a walk in the park. Early in the morning you might spy a fox trotting across the meadow or the tracks of a deer creekside. Migrating birds are clustering around our many feeders and unseen animals are rustling through the wetlands. The sun sets early these days with some spectacular colors peeking through the trees. Dunwoody Park is a respite in these busy days . . . join us!

Article imageHoliday Camps at DNC

December 29-31

Get your kids outside, playing and learning, during the December holiday break! Campers will enjoy age appropriate hikes, games, songs, stories, outdoor activities, and art. New this year . . . Extended Care! SIGN UP NOW!

Now Registering! WINTER NATURE CLASSES for toddlers through 3rd graders. HOMESCHOOL NATURE CLUB - meets the second Tuesday of each month, beginning in January. ECO-EXPLORERS for Homeschoolers, 5th-8th grades.

Article imageNever Stop Learning Something New

Research continues to support the importance of nurturing our physical and cognitive wellbeing. DNC has an ever-evolving schedule of adult classes so you can explore new ideas and experiences. Try one this winter!

SQUARE FOOT GARDENING What can you plant in 4 square feet? You'll be amazed.

MEDITATION Relax . . . reflect . . . renew.

PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS WITH ALAN MOTHNER . . . learn how to use your digital camera with a professional.

Wild Bird Center Round-Up for DNC Our friend David Boyd says “Round UP for theNature Center!” Any Wild Bird Center purchase you make in December, round up your check or charge to the nearest dollar. For example, you’d pay $17.00 instead of $16.39. The Wild Bird Center will collect the difference, and match each customer's total for a double donation to DNC. Thanks, David!

Support YOUR Dunwoody Nature Center with these special needs!

Thanks to the wonderful donors who have provided us with a television, dvd player, scanner and one of the two desk/chair sets we need!

  • Magnifying glasses for field study kits
  • 1 great-condition desk + 1 rolling chair.
  • 4-Drawer Filing Cabinet
  • Bookshelves
  • "Newish" sofa for our library - great used condition will be fabulous!

Article imageBoredom Busters

It's cold or wet or windy outside - enjoy it! Bundle up, visit our park, and see what nature is up to when the weather is brisk. Then warm up in our classroom and try the low-key activities in our handy-dandy Boredom Busters Box. Visitors are welcome to explore the kid-friendly items we have placed inside - and they'll change every week.

Article imageMark Your Calendar for Members' Priority Registration for 2009 Summer Camps!

March 2, 8 am - 5 pm (in person only)

Online registration for members begins March 3
March 16 - General Public registration begins

We have an exciting line-up of summer camps planned for 2009. By popular demand, we're increasing the number of camps. MORE camps for 3's and Young 4's! MORE camps scheduled so siblings can attend at the same time! MORE special themes, including geocaching, orienteering, vegetable gardening, and tree-climbing! The return of our hugely popular Junior Ranger Camp for 4th-6th graders! Check our website in February for complete summer schedules and themes. Summer camps begin May 27!

Johns Creek & Dunwoody - working the same issues of Alcohol, Signs and Zip Codes.

New cities typically deal with the same start up issues and Dunwoody is trying to learn from our fledgling sister cities of Johns Creek, Milton & Sandy Springs. Here are a few recent examples from Johns Creek.

It appears that Johns Creek just matched the same alcohol serving hours of Dunwoody.


Dunwoody will be reviewing our sign ordinance at tonight's work session and I would like to review the situation in Johns Creek before we finalize our ordinance, in order to learn from their mistakes.


I am about to finalize my report and submit the data requested by the U.S. Postal Service in order to modify the city designation for the zip code of 30360.


Isn't nice to have older siblings?

Friday, December 12, 2008

National Children's Memorial Day - Candle Lighting Sunday at DHS

National Children's Memorial Day happens every year on the second Sunday of December and is observed internationally to honor the 80,000 children who die each year. Families around the world light candles at 7 p.m. in their corresponding time zones. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light that encircles the globe. This remembrance ceremony provides the world with lit candles for an entire 24 hour period in order to honor the children we have lost, the children who lived and died, and who, even in death, continue to matter.

This year National Children's Memorial Day will be recognized on December 14th and a special Dunwoody candle lighting service will be held at

Sunday, December 14th, 2008 at 6:45 p.m.
Dunwoody High School
5035 Vermack Rd.
Dunwoody, Georgia

(LGN Memorial Park - behind the high school.) We will be gathering beginning at 6:45p.m. for the candle lighting to begin at 7:00p.m. Candles will be provided or you may bring your own. If you are unable to attend a candle lighting service, please remember our children by lighting a candle in your home. Because they lived, there is more love in the world than there would have been without them. And for them, that was the reason above all others for the gift of life.

Dunwoody Soccer Mom catches Burglar by buying her stolen goods on Craigslist.

What an incredible story of having your home burglarized, seeing your things on Craigslist and then buying them back prior to turning thief into police.

More information on the suspect here.


Dunwoody man arrested for multiple area burglaries.


DeKalb County police appear to have arrested a man renting a home on North Peachtree Road in connection with a string of home burglaries. Damon Thompson, 30, is linked to a series of break-ins in the Dunwoody area, said police. Investigators said they found a wide variety of stolen property in Thompson’s home while executing a search warrant, including household appliances, electronics and yard equipment. Authorities said Thompson may be responsible for as many as 20 burglaries since September 2008.

Detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the owners of the recovered items. If you would like more information about the property recovered, call the DeKalb County Police Department at 404-294-2807.

Update here.