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    You would hardly know it, as we are all engulfed in the swirl of Impeachment Palooza out of Washington, D.C., but we are just over a month away from hundreds of municipal elections all across Georgia this November. Georgia's more than 500 cities elect their mayors, council members, school board district seats and other local offices in the odd-numbered years, with terms staggered so that not all offices are up in the same election cycle.As a school boy, we brought home mid-term Progress Reports each quarter, these reports graded your progress and school work as Satisfactory (S), Needs Improvement (N) or Unsatisfactory (U). Any U's at our house made for a very loooooongggg night. I now use a similar grading process, to track and follow the performance of our local elected officials. My home DeKalb County contains 13 municipalities, including our capital city of Atlanta, with hundreds of elected officials, so this sometimes requires a spread sheet.
  • Chip changed the norms for suburban office development in Georgia with structured parking decks, taller buildings, attention to detail and a density component, which previously had not been seen in metro Atlanta's Perimeter sub-market,' said Bob Voyles, immediate past Chair of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Atlanta District Council, and CEO of Seven Oaks Company.   It is true in large and small towns, but particularly true in the south. Strong, positive servant leadership, more than any other trait, can make or break most any community. Metro Atlanta and many other regions in our state have been blessed with visionary leaders, and often multiple generations of the same leading families carrying a disproportionate share of that load. As our state has grown and matured, thankfully that leadership team has also become more diverse, including women, minorities and a variety of cultural backgrounds in those groups which attempt to build consensus and move communities forward.   Separating the servant leaders and community builders from the self-aggrandizers is also pretty simple. Again, from my grandparents, who long published community newspapers for several decades in five metro Atlanta counties, pay more attention to what people actually do, versus simply what they say or how they preferred to be viewed in the local press. The Davidson family in DeKalb County was long known for granite. Literally, they owned the parcel and acreage around Arabia Mountain, Stone Mountain's smaller, twin sibling, as well as granite quarries dotting the east side of metro Atlanta, atop a massive granite vein which includes Stone Mountain (long owned by the Venable family).    In 1983, Charles 'Chip' Davidson III, returned to his hometown of Atlanta to open the southeast real estate development offices of Houston, Texas based Hines. Hines has long since been a name dotting north metro construction sites and developments, but it was Davidson's ground-breaking work, developing The Ravinia complex, at what would become later known as Perimeter Center, that changed that area of modern day Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and now Brookhaven, from literally apple orchards and cow pastures, into what is now one of the nation's most robust edge cities, containing the metro area's second largest cluster of Fortune 500 corporate and North American headquarters. Davidson brought what some may now consider the 'evils' of density to the suburbs dotting north metro Atlanta, parking decks, mid and high rises, destination hotels and dining...to a market long-accustomed to heading to downtown, later Midtown or Buckhead for such options and fare. Hines is still a market leader and The Ravinia is being again refreshed even as this column is being written, but you can tie back the Dunwoody MARTA station, relocation of Pill Hill hospitals from downtown, and the massive expansion of the Perimeter Center sub-office market to decisions and bets made by leaders like Liane Levetan, Bob Voyles, Chip Davidson and others during metro Atlanta's turbulent 1980s and explosive 1990s. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently honored Davidson for a career and lifetime of vision and instrumental developments, first at Hines and later as the CEO and co-founder of his own firm, the Brockdale Group.   'At first I thought (winning this award) was a set-up. Then, when it sunk in and I looked at the previous list of winners, I was blown away,' said Davidson to The Atlanta Business Chronicle.   Prior winners of this lifetime achievement recognition by the ULI include Tom Cousins, John Portman, Egbert Perry and Lawrence and Mary Gellerstedt. Those are some pretty tough acts to follow, also proving that Chip and his career are much more than merely a blip or a chip off of the old Davidson granite block. Like most leading families, Davidson's work does not end with his own enterprises. Davidson sits on the board of trustees of the Shepherd Spinal Center as well as the Georgia Conservancy. A man of strong faith, he is also an honorary board member of Trinity House Community Ministries.   You generally know who the ground-movers are in your community, and those who all too frequently further divide their limited time, schedule and resources to make your town a better place to live, invest and raise a family. I'm going to suggest that when the opportunity arises, just say thank you or offer those folks a nice pat on the back. Remember, it was often their capital and perhaps family resources at risk, with no guarantees of return and a requisite share of near misses. Mr. Davidson, to you and your family, and the many leading families like yours across Georgia, many thanks.
  • While this is only the first part of the Golden Ray and the St. Simons Sound incident, there remains a lot of work to do, threats to the environment, hazards to the people and to the Port of Brunswick continue to be addressed through a unified command,' said U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Reed, Charleston sector Coast Guard commander.   While an ongoing review and investigation unfolds of a fire and the subsequent capsizing of the South Korean automobile transport tanker, the Golden Ray, off the Georgia coast, you can bet millions that the ship's owner, automobile manufacturer/shipper and insurer were all hoping that there were some very experienced hands at the wheel the night that this massive cargo ship fell over on its side.
  • Since then President Bill Clinton was unable to keep Georgia in his win column during his 1996 re-election campaign, Georgia has been viewed as a reliably red, and safe GOP state. The state's congressional delegation made the shift to red and right in 1994, the Governor's office eventually fell in a surprise upset win in 2002 by Sonny Perdue, shortly followed by majority wins in the State Senate and State House. Since the middle of the 2000 decade, the Georgia GOP has controlled or held virtually all levers of power at state and federal government levels. The 2020 election cycle offers the most realistic potential that Georgia will move to the top of Democratic Party target lists for several reasons in a changing political landscape. The close victory for the Governor's office by Governor Brian Kemp is being misread by some as placing the Georgia Democratic Party at the cusp of multiple victories. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP Republicans will be defending 23 seats, including McConnell's as well as both Georgia's Senate seats. Senator David Perdue is seeking his second term, and by January of 2020, Governor Kemp will have named another Republican as the Interim Senator to seek the seat in a November Special Election, to replace retiring Senator Johnny Isakson. Though also held on General Election day, that contest will take all-comers from both parties, and quite possibly result in a run-off contest, the first Tuesday in January of 2021.  As of the September 12 Democratic Presidential candidate debate, the primary field of candidates, following several withdrawals and shifts to other races has essentially been winnowed to 10, versus the more than two dozen a month ago. The focus will stay on what is shaping up to be a consistently top five in polling, fundraising and among party activists - former Vice-President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeg. New Jersey Senator Corey Booker cracks this circle in some polls as well.  Back to our U.S. Senate contests, the GOP is defending 23 seats, while Democrats only have 11 incumbent or existing seats in contest. If Democrats win the White House, the party will only need a net pick-up of three seats to take Senate majority, and four seats if Trump wins re-election. Georgia will be the only state in the nation, and for the first time in our state's history, with both Senate seats on the ballot at the same time.  Senator Perdue will have a real campaign and contest, but it is always difficult to oust an incumbent U.S. Senator, and the current four announced Democratic challengers combined have yet to match Perdue's fundraising or polling numbers. An essentially 'open' seat, with only an interim incumbent of less than a year, is a much easier target. Expect renewed pressure on former State House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams, to consider entering that second Senate seat contest.  The White House race, particularly with Trump as its nominee, will cause the GOP to focus its finances on retaining the White House first, with the Senate a secondary priority. Candidates and the Republican National Senatorial Committee will raise and expend dozens of millions across 34 states, and it will be quite difficult for the RNSC to be a primary funding source for two Georgia Senate contests. Perdue, as a close ally of President Trump, and as an incumbent, will be the priority among the two. Georgia's demographic shifts, Trumps fallibility among metro area voters and the two Senate contests will move our state to the top of the target list for Team Blue pick-up. And as Georgia voters have pretty consistently split party votes in recent elections in consistent percentages from the top to the bottom of the ballot, a close or successful U.S. Senate contest for Democrats would also have substantial down ballot impact on the Georgia State House and Senate, just as Ms. Abrams candidacy impacted dozens of other state and local races in 2018.  All this adds up to Team Blue moving in campaign staffers, non-aligned 527 PAC endorsements and dollars and a record amount of green into this once reliably red state, starting almost as soon as the ink is dry on Governor Kemp's interim U.S. Senate appointment in January. Among the biggest guaranteed winners of these contests will Georgia broadcasters who will also likely also see record political spending before the end of 2020. It's off to the races!
  • This is not one to play around with,' said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, during a September 2nd press conference ordering the partial evacuation of 6-coastal counties during the approach of then Hurricane Dorian. With the heat of summer still baking our great state, it's hard to believe that a week ago thousands were battening the hatches, boarding up doors and windows and preparing for Mother Nature's worst, before heading north on Interstate 16 and evacuating the region. Thankfully, unlike the Bahamas and large swaths of North Carolina, the South Carolina low-country and coast -- Georgia's coast and Golden Isles largely dodged this once maelstrom storm bullet unscathed. However hurricane season is far from over, and indications are that with this summer heat lingering, in the atmosphere and across the Carribean, there may be a few more like Dorian yet to come.  Thousands of home, business and property owners did choose to ignore the evacuation orders, stay and ride out the storm. Though evacuations were only mandated for residents and property owners east of I-95, most everyone took precautions and prepared for the storm. Signs of that were everywhere, from boats moved to dry dock, to grocery shelves emptied of staple items and bottled water.  The primary evacuation route also functioned as it should have, I-16 traffic became one-way heading north and traffic flow north surged overnight by 30 percent. Some admittedly grousing that the National Weather Service and Georgia Emergency Management (GEMA) were being overly cautious, would certainly be kicking themselves if Dorian had made a decisive left-hand turn.  Kemp's predecessor, Governor Nathan Deal, and Atlanta's then Mayor Kasim Reed, each learned the downside of not listening in full earnest to dangerous weather forecasts. The two were both being honored at a Georgia Trend magazine luncheon recognizing Outstanding Georgians on the morning of January 28, 2014, an unusually strong snow and ice storm was looming for most all of north Georgia, and as far south as Macon. Deal and Reed were having their photos taken and enjoying the company of many of Georgia's community and business leaders, as the first sleet and frost started landing and sticking on Georgia streets and highways outside around noontime.  Before the salt trucks could be mobilized, the ice froze and was then joined by 2-6 inches of snow, as the onset of metro Atlanta's infamous rush hour became the now historic Snowmaggedon. Thousands were trapped on metro interstates which had become practically solid sheets of ice, and many simply abandoned their vehicles and walked home. School buses were similarly delayed 8-10 hours, many idling on the roadside until they ran out of fuel. No significant injuries or loss of life were attributed to the snow, sleet and ice storm, but the north side of the state was practically paralyzed for several days.  Deal and north Georgia Mayors, county commissions, school boards and superintendents became decidedly more cautious after that. Snow days were added to the state school calendar of 180 school days. Even the hint of an inch of frozen precipitation would cause full school system closures. Erring to the side of caution since 2014 has become our rightful norm. Yes, meteorology is a science, but so is geology and the prediction of earthquakes. Both include a margin of error, as well as the very real change in temperament of winds, rain and the occasionally mercurial shift of storm fronts. Dorian stalling and sitting atop the Bahamas for several days was also something quite difficult to pre-forecast.  Having been on Jekyll Island a few times in my childhood and teen years during tropical storms, a downed tree on a home, car or family pet is a quite significant challenge moving forward just the same. Perhaps the happiest folks in reaction to the evacuation call were hoteliers, restaurant and gas station owners in points north like Dublin, Macon and Atlanta. Reports of price-gouging were thankfully minimal and multiple Georgia cities and households welcomed the evacuees into their homes and shelters with open arms. Our state and coastal citizenry have their lives largely returned to normal and thankfully, a few million are largely none the worse off after taking a course and path of taking heed, playing it safe and being better safe than sorry.  And perhaps most thankful of all are our neighbors in lower Alabama and along the Gulf coast, hammered hard a year ago by Hurricane Michael, but now also spared, thanks to the magical power of a Presidential Sharpie, from any injury or further harm.
  • Not even a decade out of the University of Georgia (Class of 1966), Johnny Isakson was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1976, in the aftermath and GOP wreckage of Watergate. Most Americans were still running from the party of Nixon, while Isakson and a handful of others in Georgia were instead trying to build out a two-party system. Throughout the remaining 70s and 80s, Isakson, soon the Georgia House Minority Leader, would join his State Senate counter-part Paul Coverdell, along with DeKalb GOP Senator Bob Bell, in building a party calling for smaller, more efficient government, free markets, individual responsibility and the fiscal conservatism which would long define the Georgia Republican Party. Isakson, Bell and Coverdell were a strong trio, raising funds, credibility and visibility, traveling the state and particularly seeking support from Georgia's fast growing business community. Then Congressman Newt Gingrich would arrive later on the scene, create GOPAC and begin building out the machinery which would result in the GOP take-over of the U.S. Congress in 1994 (as well the Georgia Congressional delegation majority which it has held since). But while Gingrich was a grenade thrower always seeking the spotlight and attention, the man who would later hold his congressional seat (Isakson), was instead focused on building consensus and getting results. Thank you Johnny.  Isakson would carry the mantle for a GOP contest for Governor in 1990, losing to then Lieutenant Governor Zell Miller. Miller thought enough of his opponent that he would later appoint him chair of the State School Board. Isakson would serve as State GOP Party Chair, a member of the State Senate and all the while continuing to build out the family business, Northside Realty, which would go on to become one of the largest independent realtors in the southeast. Through the Reagan/Bush and later Bush again years, Isakson was continually seen as a voice of consensus and moderation, reaching across the aisle whether from the minority or majority position.  'I've been in the Minority and the Majority. The majority is better (pause, wink and smile), but you still need the other side to reach a solution, pass laws and solve the problems facing our nation. Compromise may seem to some a dirty word, but it is necessary to the infrastructure of building legislation,' Isakson said. This moderation would be viewed by some critics as weakness and caused a few election nights to last longer than they otherwise might have for Isakson. But thankfully, in part due to a loyal core of support in metro Atlanta, as well as a healthy percentage of moderates and independents who long followed and supported him, he only lost the one political contest in 1990. Isakson is the only Georgian to have served in both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly, as well as in the U.S. House and Senate. He is also the only GOP U.S. Senator to win three terms and the only current member of our Senate to chair two committees, Veterans Affairs and Ethics. Thank you Johnny.  Slowed by the onset of Parkinson's Disease, which Isakson took public in 2013, Georgia's senior senator was still walking 10 miles each day on his home treadmill to maintain muscle strength and coordination. Though his steps were smaller and slower, his mind remains sharp as ever. His recall for detail, names and faces, figures to the decimal point as well as minor amendments made to legislation is legendary. And though some of his critics would occasionally forget his role as architect and builder of the Georgia GOP, calling him a RINO, moderate or worse...Isakson was never one to exchange that kind of fire. His political campaigns and commercials would remain positive and focused on GOP priorities and his vision for Georgia and our nation. I will miss those jingles and upbeat ads as well. Thank you Johnny.  The bumper of my late model Jeep Liberty proudly holds a bumper sticker in its right hand corner, touting Isakson's last statewide contest, it says simply 'Johnny 2016.' It definitely says something about the place you have reached in life when one word clearly tells folks who you are and what you are asking about... Cher, Farrah, Prince...Johnny. We now know that Johnny won't be seeking our votes again, though he will always have mine. They don't make'em like that anymore. And that sticker isn't coming off the Jeep. Again...thank you Johnny.
  • My beloved hometown of Decatur is well managed and in many ways offers an idyllic, walkable downtown, like generations of Georgians can remember. Though one can seldom get too much of a good thing, it is still possible to over-indulge,' said columnist Bill Crane in a July 2012, Georgia View column in Georgia Trend magazine.Nearing a decade ago now, we started a raised bed vegetable garden behind our Scottdale home. I wanted to try my hand at tomatoes and a few other home-grown veggies, as well as educate my youngest child on where our food supply comes from, and perhaps broaden her interest and taste for vegetables that weren't potatoes. We’ve had great success with the former, and the latter...not so much.Those years in the 'grotten,' toddler Olivia's early name for our tiny green space, don't make me into an expert like DeKalb County's famed Extension Agent, Walter Reeves, but it has caused me to learn more than a little bit about what will and won't grow well in our non-amended and heavily under-fertilized DeKalb County topsoil atop a miles-long granite shelf which eventually raises to become Stone Mountain, twin Arabia Mountain and the several granite quarries nearby.
  • I'm outraged, and you should be too. This entire nation should be outraged,' said El Paso, Sheriff Richard Wiles in the wake of a mass shooting at a Walmart ending more than 20 lives.  I suspect like many Americans, I am still a bit numb with the horrific news of the latest two back to back mass shootings, still ringing in the ears of local law enforcement in the border town of El Paso, Texas as well as in the heart of Ohio, Dayton. And as advocates on both sides of the gun control debate line up and open fire on each other across online spaces...I sit and wonder if this too isn't part of the division these shooters want to foment? A race war? A new civil war?  Another young white male, another 'manifesto,' more than 30 innocent lives lost, dozens more injured...and where/when does it end? No one really has an answer for that, so perhaps we should try harder to determine where this is all beginning.  I have spent in my volunteer life, much of the past few decades remaining engaged with college students, both through my alma mater, the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, as well as through my college fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, at both the local and national levels. Where much of college life remains the same, as campus culture and society evolve, I've noted a significantly general softening among my younger male counter-parts on most college campuses today, which has at times caused me both pause and concern.  Alienation, non-socialization and remaining a virgin against one's will or life plans are powerful seeds planted towards building resentment and hatred. Who is to blame? How to reassert or change one's status? It's not difficult to see a pattern to fame and glory and even some degree of notoriety playing out an afternoon of Fortnite in the real world. For those unfamiliar, Fortnite (created in 2017) is an online video gaming platform with three separate games, each played by millions. Fortnite Battle Royale, which can be played simultaneously by as many as 100, pits player against player in a battle of survival of the fittest, ending when all but one player has been eliminated or killed. I have walked in on a few groups playing this game with great passion and enthusiasm, the gun play and swearing might only be louder at a convention among mercenaries of war.  There will again be talk of gun control reform. However, Chicago, Illinois, with some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation, and also one of the world's highest rates of murder and violent crime, experienced dozens of separate shootings and nearly 40 deaths the same horrific weekend. Yes, we can revisit the law, but isn't it time we also re-visit how we raise our young men?  I did not walk six miles to school, through the snow each day, barefooted...but household chores, mowing our lawn and part-time jobs became routine during what would have then been middle school years. Real life lessons of adversity, work ethic, dues paying, conflict resolution and accepting constructive criticism had all been learned well before the middle of high school.  As a late Baby Boomer, we were also towards the end of the Selective Service and potential draft, which I'm not suggesting be re-instated, however I can see great benefit in renewing discussions of a year or two of national service work just after high school. As with serving in our nation's military, the common duty, common mission and shared surroundings might help serve as a great equalizer.  We are yet entering fall of this year, and 125 Americans have already lost their lives in mass shootings. As schools start back, how many children are heading to their classrooms in fear, and how many parents are wondering if they have done enough to prepare their offspring for sudden attack?  Whether or not you agree with it taking the whole village to raise a child, I'll wager a majority of you can well remember when your neighbors almost all knew one and other, and at times came to assist without ever being asked. Conflict is a part of life, and building coping skills for such challenges are as important as developing coordination, balance and muscle strength for sport.  It is time for a national conversation and determining the root causes of this plague. If the Ebola virus or some other virulent strain attacked and killed a few hundred Americans in a period of months, we would fight back with all of our national will and unlimited resources. Finding this cure may take a bit longer, but certainly there are steps we can begin to take as soon as today to move us in a better and safer direction. Our sympathies and condolences to those grieving the lives lost. And prayers do matter as well.
  • It wasn't a single attempt. They're doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign. ...I hope this is not the new normal. I fear it is,' former Special Counsel and FBI Director, Robert Mueller, regarding Russian election interference attempts, during his U.S. House testimony on 7/24/2019.Robert Mueller wrapped up his nearly four decades of service to our nation with a less than glorious farewell appearance on Wednesday, July 24, 2019, before two U.S. House committees, answering their queries about his Special Counsel Report on Russian interference attempts throughout the 2016 Presidential Election.Some view Robert Mueller as a patriot and war hero, with two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart among many honors from his Vietnam era service in the Marines, or his later work as a U.S. Attorney, Deputy Attorney General and F.B.I. Director, appointed and then re-appointed by three very different Presidents, from both major political parties. Others see a biased partisan tool of Congressional Democrats and/or the Democratic Party, and still others...something in between.
  • A little healthy fear is a good thing.' Anonymous.For many, summertime means more time spent outdoors, recreating and on occasion taking risks which we might not normally consider. A lesson I learned early, though it admittedly took longer than it should have to sink in is, “Large risk, small reward…don’t take the risk.”Two recent tragedies hit close to home, impacting many friends and families we know well, and in both cases potentially avoidable, reminded me of the importance of reminding others of two very simple words which can mean a great deal in your lives as well as the lives of others...take care.Georgia’s Lake Lanier has already had 12 fatalities this summer, either due to drowning or watercraft accidents.

News

  • A black woman was watching her 8-year-old nephew when she was fatally shot by a white police officer inside her Texas home. >> Read more trending news  A Fort Worth police officer did not announce that he was an officer before firing a single shot striking Atatiana Jefferson, who was inside the room with the boy, Fort Worth police Lt. Brandon O’Neil said at a news conference Sunday.  “What the officer observed and why he did not announce ‘police’ will be addressed as the investigation continues,” O’Neil said in a statement. “The members of the Fort Worth Police Department share your very real and valid concerns, as do the members of this city and people across the country. This tragic loss of life has major ramifications for all involved, especially the family of Ms. Atatiana Jefferson.” O’Neil declined to answer reporters’ questions and said Fort Worth police Chief Ed Kraus plans to conduct a more in-depth news conference Monday. The family also confirmed Jefferson was watching her nephew at the time. The two typically lived with an older woman who’s been in the hospital. Jefferson’s family is seeking answers. “It’s another one of those situations where the people that are supposed to protect us are actually not here to protect us,” said Jefferson’s sister, Amber Carr. “You know, you want to see justice, but justice don’t bring my sister back.” Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, said the officer never had time to perceive a threat.  “You didn’t hear the officer shout, ‘Gun, gun, gun,’” Merritt said. “He didn’t have time to perceive a threat. That’s murder.” Neighbor James Smith called a nonemergency line Saturday for a welfare check after noticing the lights were on and a door was open. Fort Worth police released bodycam footage soon after the incident Saturday.  Video shows officers with flashlights and guns drawn scanning the perimeter of the home. The front door appears to be open although the screen door is closed. As officers continue to walk through the property, one of them sees a person standing at a dark window and yells: “Put your hands up. Show me your hands,” before firing a single shot.  Police located a gun in a bedroom when they entered the house. Investigators did not indicate if Jefferson was holding the firearm. The officer, who has not been identified, has been placed on administrative leave. He has been with the department since April 2018. He is scheduled to be interviewed by investigators Monday.  The shooting comes less than two weeks after a white former Dallas police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of her black neighbor inside his own apartment. Amber Guyger, 31, said during her trial that mistook Botham Jean’s apartment for her own, which was one floor below Jean’s. Merritt also represents Jean’s family. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Kenny Dixon, the longtime drummer for Georgia-raised country music star Kane Brown was killed in a car accident, the band confirmed Sunday. >> Read more trending news  Dixon was from Dalton, Georgia. It's unclear where the crash happened but his bandmates say he died Saturday. 'It is with profound sadness and disbelief that we confirm we lost our drummer Kenny this weekend in a tragic car accident,' the band wrote in a statement. 'Kenny was a member of our family from the very beginning, and our hearts are with his fiancée Sarah, his son and everyone who knew and loved him. He was truly one of the greatest and kindest people on and off stage we’ve ever known.” Dixon's fiance, Sarah Hendrick, also confirmed the musician's death in an Instagram post on Sunday. 'I’m at a loss of words. I don’t even know how to write this or ever thought I would have to. Kenny passed away last night in a car accident. I know I have to be strong for Levi and God is gonna pull us through this. We have a forever guardian angel watching above us now. Please keep Levi, my family, and Kenny’s family in your prayers,' she wrote. Dixon and Hendrick were set to wed Nov. 30 in Dalton, according to the couple’s wedding website on The Knot. They were parents to a son, Levi. Brown also commented on the drummer’s death on social media.
  • A former University of Georgia student pleaded guilty Friday to running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors, including fellow students and their families, from his Athens fraternity house. >> Read more trending news  Syed Arham Arbab, 22, of Augusta, admitted to defrauding 117 people in a scheme that attracted about $1 million from investors, prosecutors said. A news release said Arbab spent funds on clothes, shoes, adult entertainment and gambling trips to Las Vegas. “The defendant engaged in a pattern of deceit to gain the trust of unwitting investors who gave him their hard-earned money for what they believed was a sound investment,” Charlie Peeler, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said in the release. From May 2018 to May of this year, Arbab sought investors for Artis Proficio Capital Management and Artis Proficio Capital Investments. Prosecutors said Arbab issued false account statements and misrepresented the size of the funds and returns. Among his false claims, prosecutors said, Arbab said a former UGA athlete and NFL star was among his investors. Arbab pleaded to a single count of securities fraud. He is scheduled for sentencing in January. In late May, the Securities and Exchange Commission initiated a civil complaint against Arbab, which is pending. In June, a federal judge froze Arbab’s assets and those of his investment funds. At the time, the SEC alleged Arbab defrauded at least eight investors of $269,000, but warned that the size of the scheme could be larger. In text messages, Arbab allegedly told investors his firm was “different because we target young investors/college kids,” and he charged lower commissions, the SEC complaint said. Arbab allegedly told investors he guaranteed investments of up to $15,000. The SEC said Arbab also sold “bond agreements,” which were like loans. Instead, Arbab allegedly deposited funds in his bank account and used new proceeds to pay off previous investors who sought money. A bio on the website for Artis Proficio stated that Arbab graduated cum laude from UGA with a degree in cellular biology, and that at the time, he working on a masters of business administration at UGA’s business school. Prosecutors said Arbab had in fact been rejected from the MBA program at UGA’s Terry College of Business.
  • When Stoneham firefighters arrived at a two-alarm fire around 12:30 p.m. Saturday, a woman living at the single-family home was on her roof overhang escaping the flames. >> Read more trending news   Stoneham police officers instructed her to jump from the overhang, and she was caught by Stoneham police officers Stephen Aprile and John Burton. She was the only person at the home at the time of the fire. 'Today marks the last day of Fire Prevention Week and the theme for this year covered how important it is for people to have an escape plan to get out of their home,' says Stoneham fire Chief Matthew Grafton. 'The resident who was at home at the time of (Saturday's) fire is an excellent example of someone who knew to find an available escape route and got herself safely out of the house as quickly as possible.' The fire was in the kitchen on the first floor and smoke was billowing from all windows. Crews from the Woburn, Melrose, Wakefield, Winchester and Reading fire departments helped on scene while Saugus, Medford and Malden firefighters helped with station coverage. Firefighters prevented the flames from spreading to the rest of the house, but the home sustained heavy damage from smoke and water, estimated at $150,000 to $200,000. The family of six who lived at the home is being helped by family and friends in the area. One dog was rescued and taken to a vet for evaluation. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
  • The final day of the Atlanta Air Show is canceled after a pilot ejected from a plane Sunday afternoon. The airshow began Saturday and was scheduled to continue Sunday afternoon at Tara Field near the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton.  >> Read more trending news  Capt. Kevin Domon-Grenier, a pilot with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, ejected from his aircraft shortly before the squadron was due to perform, the Snowbirds announced on Twitter on Sunday.  Domon-Grenier’s CT-114 Tutor crashed prior to the show’s opening, Airshow officials said. He made it safely to the ground and is OK, the CF Snowbirds said.  Nobody was injured when the plane crashed in an unpopulated area, according to the Snowbirds.
  • New Birth Missionary Baptist Church plans to redirect a donation it received from rap artist Kanye West to Atlanta’s Morris Brown College, officials said.  Rev. Jamal Harrison Bryant on Sunday announced a financial contribution to the HBCU’s general scholarship fund, according to a New Birth spokesman.  The announcement came during the 9:30 a.m.  church service. Bryant, senior pastor of New Birth in Stonecrest, said the funds  will be used to make a financial contribution in honor of the Grammy Award-winning artist’s late mother Donda West, who previously served on the faculty at Morris Brown.  The size of the donation wasn’t immediately announced. Morris Brown College has struggled financially since losing its accreditation in 2002. Only a few dozen students attend the college, down from as many as 2,700 in the mid-1990s. Among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, it is the only one in Georgia founded by African Americans. Kevin James, the college’s interim president, told New Birth’s congregation Sunday that Morris Brown was approved Friday as a higher learning institution by the Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission. He called it a “major step” toward accreditation.  “When you lose your accreditation, you close,” James said during the Sunday service. “But for some reason, for the past 17 years, Morris Brown College has been able to survive. We will be the first historically black college in history ... since 1837 to actually come back and be fully accredited under these circumstances.”   Kanye West visited New Birth Sept. 15 for a popup Sunday performance as a part of his “Sunday Service” series. Lines waiting outside New Birth began forming several hours before the service. RELATED: Kanye West brings ‘Sunday Service’ to Atlanta West has been making such appearances on Sundays this year, including one in Dayton, Ohio, to help that community in the wake of a mass shooting and on Easter Sunday to bring a message of faith to those attending the music festival Coachella. The announcement from New Birth came a day after West brought his Sunday Service series to Howard University, a prestigious HBCU in Washington, D.C.  It also came weeks after West defended his endorsement of President Donald Trump, whose support of HBCUs has been mixed.  MORE: HBCUs and Trump: up and down relationship “I went into prayer, and it dawned in me in prayer that Dr. Donda West, who was the mother of Kanye West, is a former professor at Morris Brown College,” New Birth’s Bryant said during Sunday’s service.  Donda West started her teaching career at Morris Brown College as an English instructor in the 1970s, and later became the department chair, according to an obituary. “I know what Dr. Donda West represented while at Morris Brown, and her mind for African American literature, was to empower, equip and engage students to be something radical that can change community and change society,” Bryant said.  In other news: