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South Fulton year in review
by Noreen Cochran
December 31, 2013 11:08 AM | 1849 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye. From left, volunteer Dellaphine Bingham and Judge Penny Brown Reynolds.
Staff / Katherine Frye. From left, volunteer Dellaphine Bingham and Judge Penny Brown Reynolds.
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Staff / Katherine Frye / 
Creekside junior Bricen Terry (44) tries to outrun Tucker Friday night.
Staff / Katherine Frye / Creekside junior Bricen Terry (44) tries to outrun Tucker Friday night.
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Staff / Noreen Cochran. From left, Turnbury Apartments owner Isaac Kleider, interim property manager Jacqueline Calhoun and Hammond Residential Group District Manager Hope Clark look forward to the complex's upcoming renovations.
Staff / Noreen Cochran. From left, Turnbury Apartments owner Isaac Kleider, interim property manager Jacqueline Calhoun and Hammond Residential Group District Manager Hope Clark look forward to the complex's upcoming renovations.
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Staff / Maurice Dixon
Staff / Maurice Dixon
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Staff / Katherine Frye<br>Edith Hamler and her son, Lorenzo Hamler, 8, of Fairburn, visit Duncan Park every day after school to feed the geese and are looking forward to the park renovations.
Staff / Katherine Frye
Edith Hamler and her son, Lorenzo Hamler, 8, of Fairburn, visit Duncan Park every day after school to feed the geese and are looking forward to the park renovations.
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Staff/Katherine Frye. From left, Hapeville city employees Allie O'Brien and Jamila Criss.
Staff/Katherine Frye. From left, Hapeville city employees Allie O'Brien and Jamila Criss.
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Staff / Christine Fonville<br>From left, School Board Member Julia Bernath, Councilman Ambrose Clay, Councilman Joe Carn, School Board Member Linda Bryant and City Manager Terrence Moore overturn the ceremonial first shovel of dirt at the building site for College Park Elementary School.
Staff / Christine Fonville
From left, School Board Member Julia Bernath, Councilman Ambrose Clay, Councilman Joe Carn, School Board Member Linda Bryant and City Manager Terrence Moore overturn the ceremonial first shovel of dirt at the building site for College Park Elementary School.
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The year 2013 was a time of struggle, accomplishment and change for south Fulton.

New brooms
Election Night upsets swept almost an entire governing body out the door as East Point voters selected a new mayor and four new city council members during nonpartisan municipal elections.

Jannquell Peters triumphed in a runoff victory to become the new mayor, unseating Earnestine Pittman in the latter’s try for a second term.

Also out are council members Marcel Reed, Sharonda Hubbard, Jacqueline Slaughter-Gibbons and Patricia Langford.

Part of the changeover may have been linked to the reports of a “missing” $200 million, which auditors said was not actually lost by the city but the handling of which had the “appearance of vendor/employee impropriety.”

County bounty
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners dished up its fair share of issues, from Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand’s company car to a south Fulton tax hike and from fighting crime to taking care of its inmates.

Also on the docket was the $626 million 2014 annual budget, with outcry from the public protesting slashes to arts and Grady Hospital funds.

Nearly $500,000 in arts money dodged a bullet, but the board has not yet voted on whether $25 million to Grady will go under the knife in an attempt to overcome a $70 million shortfall.

Go team
A legendary sports team received White House honors, but a survivor’s widow was not invited.

The late Charlie “Tinky” Leigh was the first African American to enter the NFL directly from high school in 1968 and by 1971 he was a running back for the Miami Dolphins.

In 1972 the team went undefeated all season and won Super Bowl VII in 1973, for which President Barack Obama honored the team in August.

Leigh’s widow, Marie Leigh, of south Fulton, said the Dolphins Alumni Association did not allow family members or widows to attend the White House ceremony.

Another team in the spotlight belonged to Creekside High School, whose Seminoles football team overcame the death of defensive back De’antre Turman early in the season to beat powerhouse rival Tucker for the state title Dec. 13 at the Georgia Dome.

“Through the death of our teammate, we all came together and it made us even closer,” running back Dexter Knox said. “Everybody fought for one cause and we got it done.”

The ultimate sacrifice
Also honored in an inaugural Memorial Day observation were World War II heroes the Tuskegee Airmen, in a ceremony produced by South Fulton Community Organizers leader Waymon Harley.

The event included a parade, speech, movie screening, waterskiing exhibition and fireworks.

In other military news, the Fort McPherson commissary closed for good, despite protests by veterans, seniors, organizations and elected officials.

Smart arts
Creekside academic honors accrued to the winner of an arts and essay contest, in which junior Danielle Black beat more than 2,000 competitors to achieve the first place prize, a 10-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Turkey.

The Fulton County School System reported standardized test results exceeding expectations and beating state.

South Fulton high schoolers made double-digit gains in geometry on the End of Course Tests, Banneker High School posted a 73-point gain in SAT scores and middle school students scored perfect 100s on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.

The school system courted controversy in south Fulton, however, with its plan to move its central office to Sandy Springs.

Whole lot of breaking going on
Ground was broken ceremonially at large-scale construction projects, including a cultural center at Charlie Brown Airport, renovations at Clarence Duncan Park in Fairburn, a new Wolf Creek library and the new College Park Elementary School, all slated for completion this year.

Paying it forward
Volunteers contributed their time and donors their treasure to nonprofits like Future Foundation, which provides an after-school program and mentoring for boys and girls at its East Point teen center, and the Judge Penny Brown Reynolds Foundation, which staged the inaugural SisterTalk empowerment conference for 500 teen girls.

“What Judge Penny does is extraordinary,” said parent Marnessa Vital, an independent educational consultant. “We have young teens that are looking for mentors. They find it in her. She is so approachable.”

Under new management
Desperate residents at a College Park apartment complex discovered their water restored and renovations under way as new owners took on the challenge of rebranding a once-popular multifamily residence.

“The challenge is the renovation cost,” Isaac Kleider, representative of Elite Trust Escrow Co., said about “millions” to be invested in the Turnbury Apartments, which sold for $850,000.

Keeping it reel
The city of Hapeville branded itself as a cinematic city with its new film festival, Reel to Real Arts, featuring the work of independent filmmakers and talk-back sessions at each of its three free screenings.

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