Friday, March 30, 2012

Final Passage of the Social Responsibility and Accountability Act.


Natalie Dale, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist

ATLANTA (March 30, 2012) – The Social Responsibility and Accountability Act received final passage in the Senate on Sine Die and is now traveling to the Governor’s desk for final approval. The bill requires recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to undergo a drug test to receive welfare benefits.

Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) spearheaded this legislation in light of evidence that shows drug abusers are less likely to maintain employment and, as a result, remain on welfare-related programs for longer periods of time. In a study surveying New Jersey TANF recipients, individuals who abused drugs stayed on welfare for an average of 12 years, compared to less than six years for those who did not.

“Final passage of the Social Responsibility and Accountability Act would not have been possible without collaboration from my House colleagues – Rep. Michael Harden, Rep. Jason Spencer and Rep. Ron Stevens,” said Sen. Albers. “The dedicated teamwork from members of both chambers helped produce a strong piece of legislation that will safeguard taxpayer dollars and ensure that we are offering citizens a ‘hand-up’ and not a ‘hand-out.’ The Social Responsibility and Accountability Act will help revolutionize how our welfare system functions and better serve those in need while being proper stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

Sen. John Albers represents the 56th Senate District, which includes portions of North Fulton County. He may be reached at his office at 404.463.8055 or by email at

Green vendors needed for Earth Day Festival.

Are you an environmentally friendly business or service looking for a great opportunity to connect with like-minded customers and Milton families? Then you need to be a part of the Fourth Annual Earth Day Festival, held at Milton’s Birmingham Park April 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This festival, organized by Milton Grows Green (MGG) and City of Milton, is part of Milton’s efforts to increase environmental awareness in the community and will include entertainment, horse-drawn carriage and pony rides, inflatable hamster balls, a rock wall, one-of-a-kind crafts and unique environmental games.

As a green vendor, you’ll be joined by similar businesses and services and receive free food from local eateries. Already signed up as vendors are:

Action Specialty Carts
Alpharetta Outfitters
Atlanta Audubon Society
Boy Scout Troop 3000
Canine Assistants
Children’s Healthcare of Forsyth
Clean Air Campaign
Comfort Zone/Dumpster Co.
Core Physique
Ed Isakson/Alpharetta Family YMCA
Electric/hybrid Car Club
Energy USA
Girl Scouts of the USA
Greenstone Recycled Stone Products
Home Depot: Green Products
Home Depot: Children’s Building Project
Karate Atlanta
Milton Chiropractic and Massage
Milton Garden Club, sponsored by Scottsdale Farms
Milton Horse Council
Northwestern Middle School
North Fulton Department of Voter Registration and Elections
Norwey Enviro Products
Red Wheel Farm
Republic Services
Roswell Pediatrics
Solar Energy USA
Tower Garden and Juice Plus
Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeepers
Verizon: Hopeline Program

“We are participating again as a sponsor this year because we thought it was a great community event, said Paige Monette Anderson of Optech, which is also a partner with the City of Milton. “Last year, our company volunteered time to drive the tractor. Hundreds of families came out to enjoy all the great activities Milton Grows Green and the city coordinated to celebrate Earth Day.”

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or vendor, please click here to download a packet of information.

For directions to 200-acre, rustic Birmingham Park, click here.

For more information, contact Cindy Eade, environmental Sustainability Coordinator, at or 678.242.2509.

The Third Annual Earth Day Festival is sponsored by the Peggy Still School of Music, Optech, Republic Services, Comfort Zone Portables, Walmart, Home Depot, Verizon Wireless, Children's Healthcare of Forsyth and Action Specialty Carts.

Milton FD now conducting hydrant maintenance.


Milton Fire Chief Robert Edgar would like to alert residents the department’s semi-annual fire hydrant maintenance is now underway.

Edgar said the city-wide maintenance effort will last into mid-May. During testing, firefighters flow the water in the hydrants and check to make sure they are in working order.

Please note: depending on hydrant placement in the water main system, this may inadvertently cause sediment to be loosened in the lines. As a result residents may see temporary discoloration in water coming from their faucets, showers, washing machines or dishwashers, said Edgar.

If this happens, please call the City of Milton at 678-242-2570.

“We’ll be happy to come out and flush the line,” said Edgar.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

'Liberty's Law' Gaining Traction Locally & Abroad.


Support for "Liberty's Law" a proposed Milton Georgia ordinance which would protect horses and other animals against abuse and harrassment, is growing quickly.

Advocates are coming in from North Fulton as well as other areas of the country and over seas. With over 270 "friends" on Facebook and 125 signatures on "Liberty's Law"'s Gopetition thus far, momentum is increasing daily.

"Liberty's Law" has spawned from the torment of a thirty year old mare named "Liberty" by local youths. Within the last seven years, she has been shot with paint balls, fireworks have been shot into her pastures and above her, and the same offenders have been caught on video yelling at her trying to scare her and intentinally directing noise in her direction. The end result is a horse that now refuses to graze without supervision and spends the majority of her time standing on a back patio or within a carport.

Even with eye witnesses, video, and physical evidence, Milton authorities claim there is no evidence and have done nothing to the offenders.

Some supporters are quite upset about Liberty's dilemma. After Alexandra Ward of Roswell signed the petition in support, she had these comments to share on the petition; "This makes my blood boil!!The police must enforce all of the laws not just the ones they personally feel are worthwhile. What does this say about Milton with police who do nothing to protect their weakest denizens and citizenry who think it's fun to scare the hell out of animals? Not a place I'd want to live in & not a place I'd want to visit. This town needs to ditch the horse emblem and go with dollar signs or a brick, something without a soul or emotions that accurately reflects Milton."

We encourage you to get involved and support "Liberty's Law".

No horse or any other animal should have to endure what Liberty has.

Roswell 'Chicken Man's' Final Resting Place To Be In Milton.


Andrew Wordes, otherwise known as "The Roswell Chicken Man", passed away earlier this week.

Mr Wordes gained local fame for his fight with the City of Roswell to keep chickens on his property in a small residential neighborhood.

Long time Milton resident Jim Bell, owner of the environmentally friendly cemetery "Milton Fields", has donated a plot in Mr. Wordes honor.

The service will be held this Friday at Milton Fields located off of Birmingham Road. Time is 10:30am. Please keep Mr. Wordes and his family in your prayers during this difficult time.

Body found in house fire ID'd as Roswell ‘chicken man'

By Alexis Stevens and Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The body found inside a charred Roswell home was identified Tuesday afternoon as that of "chicken man" Andrew Wordes.

"The Fulton County Medical Examiner has made a positive identification on the body found in the residence at 335 Alpine Drive. It is the body of Andrew Wordes. There is no cause of death at this time," police said in a statement.

The battle between one man and the city of Roswell that started over his keeping of chickens ended Monday afternoon in a fiery explosion. Investigators believe that rather than be evicted from his home, Wordes poured gasoline throughout the house and set it on fire.

"There was an initial explosion and subsequent fire," Lt. James McGee with Roswell police said during a news briefing.

A body was found inside the home, but a positive identification could not be made Monday due to the condition of the body, Capt. Paul Piccirilli with the Roswell Fire Department said.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month, Wordes blamed the city for all of his woes that helped land him in foreclosure. Wordes apparently had fallen behind on his mortgage payments while in jail for violating various property codes.

"I'm still trying to get this resolved, but it doesn't look like it's going to be happy," Wordes had said.

On Monday, Roswell spokesperson Julie Brechbill said the whole city was saddened by the man's apparent death, but the events surrounding his pending eviction were tied to his failure to keep up payments on his house and did not involve the city.

Neighbors and friends of Wordes, known by many as "the chicken man," stood behind yellow crime tape Monday afternoon, shocked at the day's developments. Later in the evening, officers removed the crime tape, giving neighbors a closer look at what remained of the home.

John Cherok, who lives across the street from Wordes' two-story home, told the AJC he had just seen his neighbor Monday morning.

Wordes had helped Cherok over the weekend clearing tree limbs and piling them by the curb, and the two men discussed Monday whether the debris would be picked up by the local trash removal service.

"He said, ‘Today's going to be the day, anyway,' " Cherok told the AJC. "Obviously, he planned to end it this way."

Patti Silva, a Milton woman who befriended Wordes a couple of years ago and helped him through his recent troubles with the law, agreed.

“He planned this,” she said in a phone interview with the AJC.

Silva said she suspected Wordes had turned desperate after learning his property was set for seizure last month. She even shared her concerns with police, hoping to defuse a potentially dangerous situation.

Marshals informed the 53-year-old Wordes three weeks ago that he would be evicted, and they arrived at the home on Alpine Drive about 10:45 a.m. Monday, Antonio Johnson with the Fulton County Marshal's Office said.

Wordes refused to come out or allow anyone entry, officials said. Officers tried to speak to Wordes through the closed front door and a window. During the two-hour standoff, Wordes was in contact with Channel 2 Action News reporter Mike Petchenik, who was outside the residence.

Petchenik said Wordes called him Monday morning and told him to come to the home, and with the Channel 2 truck sitting outside his home, Wordes told Petchenik to tell the marshals to get off his property.

"Once he advised us to leave his property, we retreated," Johnson said. "And that's when the explosion happened."

Among Wordes' last words to Petchenik were, "I appreciate everything, brother. I appreciate everything you've done."

"I can't tell you" what's going to happen, Wordes said. "It ain't pretty, though."
Moments later, an explosion rocked the house.

Wordes began raising chickens on his .97-acre homestead just off Alpharetta Highway in 2005.

In February 2009, the city cited him for raising livestock after a neighbor filed a complaint.

Wordes fought back, winning over many residents when he took to the streets, handing out 500 chicks, to promote his cause. Supporters wore yellow T-shirts and "I Love Chickens" buttons to his court appearance.

His fight drew the attention of former Gov. Roy Barnes, who represented him in court and persuaded Municipal Judge Maurice Hilliard in May 2009 to throw out the city ordinance.

Neighbors told the AJC that financial troubles began for Wordes that September, when much of the man's home was flooded during epic rains that doused the metro Atlanta area.

Stacey Gervickas, who lived next door to Wordes for several years, said he couldn't afford to repair his home and take care of the animals he cherished.

"He kept picking at the city, and they kept picking back," Gervickas said. "And it's a house that nobody wants. It's so wasteful."

In December 2009, the city council approved a new ordinance banning roosters and using lot size to determine how many chickens a resident can keep.

Since then, Wordes' life has been a scrapbook of mishaps and scrapes with the law: repeated citations for code violations, nuisance complaints and traffic tickets.

Last summer, about a third of the birds on Wordes' property died mysteriously.

In November 2010, he pleaded guilty to violating city codes. He was arrested in August for violating his probation related to that citation and recently finished serving 99 days in jail.

After his release, he staked out as his home, waiting for authorities to arrive and remove him.

Silva, who was hosting an informal gathering of Wordes’ friends Monday, said the fight with the city took its toll.

Alpharetta resident Cindy McEntire went further, saying she blamed part of Wordes’ condition on harassment from Roswell.

“Andrew gave as good as he received, but there were a lot of citations and traffic stops on him,” she said in a phone interview. “After the flood, everything went downhill.”

-- Staff writer Joel Provano contributed to this report.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The ‘chicken man' of Roswell: A timeline.


February 2009 -- Roswell Code Enforcement officers cite Andrew Wordes for violating the city's ban on raising livestock by having close to a dozen chickens on his nearly 1-acre property.

March 2009 -- Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes joins the fray by agreeing to represent Wordes in municipal court.

May 2009 -- Municipal Judge Maurice Hilliard dismisses the case against Wordes after Barnes argues that the city code relating to livestock is too vague.

December 2009 -- The City Council approves a new ordinance that bans roosters and uses lot size to determine how many chickens a resident can keep.

July 2011 -- Wordes tells police that someone broke into his home, accessed his pens and poisoned his poultry. About 30 of approximately 100 chickens and turkeys die. Lab tests are inconclusive.

August 2011 -- Wordes is ordered to spend three months in jail after Municipal Judge Maurice Hilliard finds him guilty of probation violation. Wordes had been granted probation for having too many vehicles on his property and for grading backfill without a permit.

February 2012 -- Wordes receives word that he is to be evicted from his home for failure to pay his mortgage. He tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he doesn't see a "happy ending" to the matter.

March 26, 2012 -- Marshals arrive at Wordes' home to serve eviction papers. Wordes responds with threats, and an explosion follows, destroying the house. A body is found but has not yet been identified.

Monday, March 26, 2012

ROSWELL | Fatal fire at home of "Chicken Man"

AM NOTE: With the City of Milton claiming "rural" quite often and utilizing pictures of horses and a borrowed horse logo, we thought the following story might be of interest.


Fulton County marshals arrived at the home of Andrew Wordes at 335 Alpine Drive with an eviction notice Monday morning. Wordes warned them to back off, according to Marshal Antonio Johnson.

"We didn't go in showing force or anything," said Fulton Co. Marshal Antonio Johnson. "We just went to the door and tried to comjunicate with him regarding the eviction."

Shortly before the explosion, Wordes called a reporter to find out if his lawn was clear of law enforcement personnel. In a recording of the conversation, Wordes warns "it's not going to be pretty." The explosion took place moments later, blowing debris into the front lawn.

Investigators are trying to figure out if Wordes detonated the explosion purposefully.

According to Deputy Chief Paul Piccirelli of Roswell Fire and EMS, a body was recovered from the house. A medical examiner was expected to officially determine whether it was that of Wordes.

Friends say Wordes drained his resources fighting city hall over the chickens and other code infractions. A bank had foreclosed on his house, forcing the eviction attempt Monday.

As the controversy dragged on, Wordes became more publicly militant. HisFacebook page calls him "Andrew AKfortyseven Wordes." The site lists his favorite quote as "sometimes I think violence is underrated."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Crabapple to have new zoning overlay.

Courtesy Neighbor Newspapers

The city of Milton is considering a new zoning overlay for the Crabapple area in order to keep the style and feel of the area consistent.

“Last May there was a community effort to essentially develop a master plan for the Crabapple area,” said Milton Community Development Director Kathleen Field. “Since then the city council adopted that master plan and asked the staff of community development to develop a new zoning overlay to implement it.”
Field said along with a stakeholder committee including business owners, principals and citizens, the city has developed a new zoning concept to create a Crabapple “village” feel.

Caleb Rasicot, senior principal at Tunnell, Spangler and Walsh, told citizens at an informational meeting March 21 that his firm has created a form-based code reform to help in this effort.

“It’s a kind of zoning that will truly allow you — the greater Crabapple community — to realize your vision from the master plan,” he said.

Form-based codes focus on the physical character of development to create a more unified city area, he said.

The model the city would use is called SmartCode, a form-based code to make a walkable community from rural to urban areas.

The new plan would also incorporate transferable development rights to target growth areas.

“It’s a market-based tool that works within the community’s code — in this case the Crabapple code — and its goal is to voluntarily encourage the redirection of growth away from places that a community wants either less or in some cases no development into places that are appropriate for more development,” said Rick Pruetz, FAICP.

Density could be “sold” from sending areas — natural areas or farm areas — to receiving areas, which are areas appropriate for more development. Developers in receiving areas who gain these TDRs would have bonus development abilities depending on their zoning.

The presentations will be available on the city’s website.


Help identify a burglary suspect.

Courtesy Milton Police Department

The City of Milton Police Department and Crimestoppers Atlanta are asking for help identifying a suspect who broke into the Dollar Tree on Ga. 9 in February.

Police are offering up to a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the suspect. He is described as a middle aged white man, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, weighing about 230 to 250 pounds.

This suspect is wanted after being caught on security footage breaking into the Dollar Tree at the Deerfield Place shopping center on Feb. 11 at 11:20 p.m. He cut into the store’s safe with what appears to be a Makita brand reciprocating saw and took all the cash inside.

Please see above for a still image from the store’s security camera.

This same man is wanted for an almost identical crime earlier in the year at the Dollar Tree in southern Forsyth County, which is also on Ga. 9 in the Grasslands Plaza shopping center.

Any information on the case can be submitted to anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477), online at or by texting “CSA” and the tip to CRIMES (274637). You do not have to give your name or any identifying information to be eligible for the reward of up to $2,000.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The “Not so Hot” GA 400 Toll Lane Idea.

By Senator John Albers

ATLANTA (March 22, 2012) – There is only one roadway in the entire state that features a fixed-rate toll - GA 400. This 24-mile stretch of interstate, which connects North Georgia to metro Atlanta , was funded entirely through a combination of toll revenues and state and federal bonds. In 1991, the State Roadway Tolling Authority (SRTA) Board approved the sale of $96.1 million in bonds to build GA 400. Despite the fact that these bonds were paid off last summer, SRTA decided to extend toll collections for another decade, causing motorists to foot the bill for additional infrastructure projects.

This is unacceptable during a time when unemployment is still high and Georgians are looking for ways to cut spending. With gas at an all-time high heading into the summer months, the last thing Georgia taxpayers need is to be saddled with an additional tax increase.

The ongoing debacle of the toll road was further exasperated when the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) initiated a feasibility study, which is estimated to cost taxpayers roughly $2.8 million. This study was designed specifically to determine whether the public is receptive to the idea of incorporating additional managed toll lanes. With the recent implementation of HOT lanes along the I-85 corridor, motorists are still unsure about the significant cost incurred from using these lanes, which has skyrocketed to upwards of $4 during peak traffic hours. If these high occupancy lanes were put into place on GA-400, commuters would still have to pay a fee to fund the expansion, plus an additional fee on top of it to use the road. The 85 HOT lanes have already cost a lot of money to convert - this would be even more of a blow to taxpayers. Can we really afford to spend more money on infrastructure that hasn't been proven successful on other roadways around the state?

The 85 HOT lanes cost taxpayers nearly $60 million to build – just to convert a lane within the pre-existing infrastructure. The Georgia Department of Transportation’s proposals for GA 400 include the addition of an entirely new lane, which would ultimately be much more expensive than converting a lane.

As part of the recent feasibility study, state transportation officials are currently holding public hearings throughout the GA 400 corridor to discuss the possible creation of electronically-tolled express lanes. Although I’m pleased to hear that state transportation officials are seeking input from North Georgia commuters, I believe we are leaving out one of the major cities along this busy corridor – Alpharetta. With five exits along GA 400, the City of Alpharetta should be directly involved in determining the fate of future toll projects.

GDOT notes in its presentation for the upcoming open houses that if the study does move forward into development of a proposed project, there currently is no funding identified for right-of-way acquisition and construction. Even with the tolling component, there may be insufficient funding to build any improvements.

We all agree additional capacity is needed on GA 400, but not at the expense of those living within the GA 400 corridor. Where is the mandatory toll for I-75, I-20, I-85 or GA-316? Why do our communities have to pay for their road and nobody else in the state?

The extension of the toll in 2010 was an unconscionable breach of public trust which is paramount in these discussions. The extension occurred months before I took office in 2010 and I was disappointed that I was unable to stop it sooner. The answer is simple – remove the GA 400 toll, then we can have a good discussion about adding capacity and options for funding our transportation needs all over Georgia .

Monday, March 19, 2012



Milton loves to use the borrowed horse logo all over everything city related; from the Milton Police Cars to "Milton Grows Green." If you go to the city website at , you will find countless pictures of horses as well.

There would be no problem with this if the image portrayed was backed with action and protection. No horse or other pet in Milton should be abused and harrassed without repercussion to the guilty party. Unfortunately, city authorities have allowed the offenders of such to get away with the abuse and harrassment of an old mare named "Liberty" who was was born and has lived on Bethany Road for over 30 years to date.

Thus, the need for "Liberty's Law" ; a proposed ordinance to protect the innocent. We encourage your support! Help us spread the word and please sign the petition here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 19 City Council regular meeting notice.

Monday, March 19, 2012 Regular Council Meeting Agenda 6:00 p.m.

INVOCATION - Dr. Ollie Wagner, Pastor at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church.



2) PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE (Led by the Mayor)

3) APPROVAL OF MEETING AGENDA (Add or remove items from the agenda)

(Agenda Item No. 12-055)



1. Approval of the February 13, 2012 Special Called Regular Minutes.

(Agenda Item No. 12-056)

(Sudie Gordon, City Clerk)

2. Approval of the February 13, 2012 Work Session Minutes.

(Agenda Item No. 12-057)

(Sudie Gordon, City Clerk)

3. Approval of Financial Statements for the Period Ending October, 2011.

(Agenda Item No.12-058)

(Stacey Inglis, Finance Director)

4. Approval of Financial Statements for the Period Ending November, 2011.

(Agenda Item No.12-059)

(Stacey Inglis, Finance Director)

5. Approval of a Contract with the Firm Davey Tree Expert Company for the Purpose of Providing Professional Services for the City of Milton.

(Agenda Item No. 12-060)

(Kathleen Field, Community Development Director)

6. Approval Indication of Roundabout Support and Lighting with GDOT for the

Intersection Improvement at SR 372/Birmingham Highway at McFarlin Lane and at DR

372/Crabapple Road at Crabapple Chase Drive.

(Agenda Item No. 12-061)

(Carter Lucas, Public Works Director)

7. Approval of a Professional Services Agreement between City of Milton, Georgia and

Universal Engineering Sciences, Inc. for a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment and

Geotechnical Evaluation for 15155 Hopewell Road.

(Agenda Item No. 12-062)

(Carter Lucas, Public Works Director)

8. Approval of a Consent to Assignment of Drainage Easements between Paul and Maura Demit and the White Columns Community Association, Inc. and Siobahn and Robert Schaffer and the White Columns Community Association, Inc.

(Agenda Item No. 12-063)

(Carter Lucas, Public Works Director)

9. Approval of a Survey Agreement between the City of Milton, Georgia and Onsite Civil Group, LLC for a Boundary and Topographic Survey for 15155 Hopewell Road.

(Agenda Item No. 12-064)
(Carter Lucas, Public Works Director)

10. Approval for the Execution of a Contract Agreement with the Georgia Council on

Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) to Receive Grant Funding for the Real Communities

Milton Project.

(Agenda Item No. 12-065)

(Chris Lagerbloom, City Manager)

11. Approval of a Parks and Recreation License Agreement between the City of Milton and YMCA to Offer an 8 Week Summer Day Camp.

(Agenda Item No. 12-066)

(John Rebar, Parks and Recreation Director)

12. Approval of a Contract between the City of Milton and Ed Castro Landscape, Inc. for the Construction of a Park at 12785 Birmingham Highway, 12-PR01, in the Amount of


(Agenda Item No. 12-067)

(John Rebar, Parks and Recreation Director)


1. A Proclamation Recognizing March for Meals Awareness Month.

(Presented by Mayor Joe Lockwood)




1. RZ12-01- To Amend Article VI, Division 2-AG-1 (Agricultural District) as it Relates to Allowing Structures Housing Animals within the Front Yard and Fencing Along


(Agenda Item No. 12-033)

(First Presentation at the February 6, 2012 Regular Council Meeting)

(Discussed at the February 13, 2012 Work Session)

(Deferred at the February 22, 2012 Regular Council Meeting)

(Kathleen Field, Community Development Director)


1. Approval of an Ordinance Restating the City of Milton's Defined Benefits Pension Plan.

(Agenda Item No. 12-048)

(First Presentation on February 22, 2012)

(Sam Trager, Human Resources Director)


1. Approval of a Resolution and Contract for Acquisition of Right of Way for Project

HPP00-0005-00 (448) State Route 372/Birmingham Highway at CR27/Providence

Road/New Providence Road.

(Agenda Item No. 12-068)

(Carter Lucas, Public Works Director)

2. Approval of a Request for the Abandonment of the Public Right-of-Ways within The

Highlands at Echelon Subdivision.

(Agenda Item No. 12-069)

(Carter Lucas, Public Works Director)

3. Approval of a Resolution to Adopt the Personnel Policies of the City of Milton.

(Agenda Item No. 12-070)

(Sam Trager, Human Resources Director)



14) EXECUTIVE SESSION (if needed)


(Agenda Item No. 12-071)

New Poll Up! / Old Poll Results!


We have a new poll up. It asks:

"Should another middle school be built in Milton?"

Have your say in the right margin today.

Past poll results are here=>

Meet Ara Baronian, Community Outreach Officer.

Courtesy Milton Police Department

City of Milton Community Outreach Officer Ara Baronian’s motivations are simple and clear: “I got into police work to help kids,” said the three-year Milton policeman and father of two.

“My passion is getting involved with as many kids’ programs as possible, because at this age you can impact them with just one phrase,” he said. “On patrol, you’re limited in the amount of time you can spend on a call because there are always other requests coming in. But now I can create programs catered toward them.”
And in his new position he’ll be doing just that. Baronian, a Canadian-born former pharmaceuticals representative, will now head The City of Milton Police Department’s Community Outreach programs, including interaction with schools, appearances at special events and maintaining the popular Milton Police and Citizens Together (MPACT) Neighborhood Watch program. He has already transitioned into the new role after three years of patrolling Milton from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. and said his experience is serving him well.

“That’s a big advantage when meeting with resident groups and homeowners associations during MPACT meetings,” said Baronian. “Their biggest concern is what’s going on at night around their home. And when everyone else was sleeping, I’ve been out knowing what was going on.”
Click here for more information.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Community Forums set to discuss middle school overcrowding relief options.

The Fulton County School System is hosting two meetings this month to receive community input on how to relieve overcrowding in North Fulton middle schools.

SPLOST IV, which was approved by voters in November 2011, calls for either a new middle school in the North Fulton area or adding classrooms to existing schools. The meetings will allow parents and other community members an opportunity to share their thoughts.

The forums, both beginning at 6 p.m., are set for March 19 at Taylor Road Middle School and March 26 at Elkins Pointe Middle School. The same information will be presented at both meetings so community members only need to attend one meeting. In addition, comments will be collected via the Operational Planning’s web site at , beginning March 19.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crowded middle schools: Fulton Schools leaves redistricting option up for parent debate.

By D. Aileen Dodd
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Fulton County parents are being asked to help decide whether redistricting is necessary to relieve overcrowding at the middle school level that is expected to worsen as the district grows in the next seven years.

Enlarge photo Jason Getz, Senator Vincent Fort, of District 39 representing Fulton County, disputes the proposed redistricting maps in the Georgia Senate at the State Capitol Thursday afternoon in Atlanta, Aug. 18, 2011.

Schools officials announced at a school board workshop Tuesday that the district’s K12 enrollment is projected to rise by a projected 6,000 new kids to nearly 99,000 students by 2018-19 thanks to the rebounding housing market in North Fulton and slow growth countywide. As the rosters swell, North Fulton middle schools are expected to be among the hardest hit.

Planners are giving parents a choice: The district could either use penny sales tax dollars to build a new North Fulton middle school and rezone kids or funds could be spent to expand existing campuses.

“We typically start the process with redistricting,” said Yngrid Huff, executive director of operational planning. “But we wanted to understand what the desires of our parents are.”

Huff said 53 additional classrooms are needed in North Fulton middle schools. Expanding some existing schools could minimize shuffling, she said.

Every North Fulton Middle School is on the table for consideration.

The construction will be paid for by Fulton's Special Local Option Sales Tax IV, which is expected to generate about $822 million through 2017.

The focus is on middle schools first because of the crowding issue and the interest parents have expressed in having direct links between middle and high schools. Elementary schools also will be built under the new SPLOST. The county has caught up to its enrollment needs in high schools so no new campuses are being planned, Huff said.

Two community meetings are scheduled this month for parents to share their ideas on growth in Fulton's middle schools. Hundreds are expected to attend and weigh in on the discussion.

The first forum is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at Taylor Road Middle. The next will be held on March 26 at Elkins Pointe Middle.

“It is great to get parent feedback first because we are the first line of defense for our children,” said Samantha Brown of Johns Creek who has a fourth grader at Shakerag Elementary. “Personally, I would rather see them make the schools and class sizes larger and increase the staff at middle schools.”

Suggestions made by parents at the community forums will be shared with school planners and board members.

“Most of our middle schools are sized to accommodate additional classrooms,” said Patrick Burke, chief operations officer for Fulton Schools.

Burke said staff is beginning to identify some possibilities, but wants to hear from parents first. A new middle school typically costs about $32 million, he said.

Additions don’t have the same construction costs, but can impact extra space in cafeterias and media centers, he said.

South Fulton is also expected to benefit from SPLOST dollars. A replacement school is planned for McNair Middle in College Park. It is slated to open in the fall of 2014.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Special needs financial planner to speak March 22.

Norm Plotkin, a financial planner with Ashford Advisors, will share his expertise with parents and family members of those with special needs March 22 as part of the Milton Disability Awareness Committee (MDAC) Community Link series.

Plotkin’s presentation, “Wills, Trusts and Legal Planning for Special Needs Families” will take place at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers at Milton’s City Hall, 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 107E. Everyone is invited, and there is no RSVP required.

“Parents and families with special needs children have a number of tough questions to answer, with the most pressing among them being: What happens when I am gone?” said Kennard Woods, MDAC chairman. “Norm’s presentation covers how to prepare for the eventuality that your child will have other care takers, and how to ensure your child has the proper financial and legal backings to lead a fulfilling, comfortable life.”

Among the topics covered during Plotkin’s presentation will be:

•Government benefit eligibility for SSI and Medicaid.
•A review of guardianship, conservatorship, and client self-determination and advocacy issues.
•Determining which type of Special Needs Trust is suitable.
•Determining appropriate funding vehicles to guarantee quality of life, including life insurance.
•How to pass on all of your special knowledge about your child to his or her future caregivers.
•How to provide for your family’s and special child’s financial future.
For more information on this program, contact MDAC at or call 678-242-2500.

Click here for more information.

GA Business Owner Reportedly Threatened With Fines & Jail Time for…Flying American Flag.

Courtesy The

An Albany, Georgia, business owner probably thought he was merely exercising his rights and exemplifying his patriotism by flying an American flag outside of his business. But when he received a ticket and was threatened with jail time, what started as a simple display of pride for one’s country has now become a legal conundrum.

Apparently Tom Gieryic’s flag, which had been outside of his automotive repair shop for more than three decades, was in violation of the city’s sign ordinance. An enforcement officer apparently told Gieryic that his flag wasn’t up to code. The issue unfolded, he says, when a group of retired Marines offered to put up a new flag at the shop. has more:

A group of retired Marines retired his old flag and placed a new one on the pole Friday, when four hours later, code enforcement showed up concerning a 311 complaint about a small sign in the front of his business.

It wasn’t his and was taken down, then Officer Ruth Lewis raised issues with the flag. “She told me my American flag was a non-conforming or illegal flag, placed on the city’s right of way.”

“I was shocked, man – a complete loss for words. I told [the enforcement officer] I wasn’t going to be moving my flag,” he said in an interview with FOX News. “She stomped off to her car, got her ticket book and demanded my license. She wrote me a ticket for flying my American flag on the city’s right of way.”

Gieryic claims that the officer said he could face a $1,000 per day fine and up to 60 days in jail if he refused to comply. But rather than buckling under the pressure and purported threats, he says he stood firm and kept the flag where it was. He decided to take the issue up with city officials and the ticket was subsequently reduced to a warning. Still, officials would like the flag moved by one foot.

“I’m boiling on the inside. They didn’t demand that I move it. They suggested I do it as a gesture of good will,” Gieryic explained.

The business owner isn’t shutting his mouth or backing down, as he says he’d like the law changed. Lawyers and people in the community, too, are joining him and pledging support.

“My local city manager has been more than fair,” he said. “He stands behind me, but the law is the law and his hands are tied.”

Gieryic is angry over the government‘s involvement in issues he believes shouldn’t concern officials. He claims that he‘s an American and that he should have every right to fly the nation’s flag wherever he wants, so long as there is no safety issues associated with doing so.

“That flag represents my dad to me that’s no longer with us, it represents our freedom, everything good about our county,” he also said.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Calling All Milton Georgia Horse Advocates!

Do you own horses in Milton Georgia? Does your child ride in one of the beautiful farms amongst the city? Do you enjoy seeing horses graze throughout the city? If so,we want to speak with you!

Please contact Tim Enloe at 770 653 0552 or email direct at

Thank you!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Everything Is Relative...

AM NOTE: We had a citizen request that we repost the following article on Milton Police compensation. Enjoy!

Time to look out for our own.

By Tim Enloe;

Recently, I had the honor of enjoying another "ride along" with one of Milton's Police Officers. I was assigned to fifteen year veteran officer Lt. John Borsey for a few hours. His shift would run from 5am to 5pm.

As we patrolled the city, discussion would take us to Lt. Borsey's career. He started in Hapeville in 1997. From there, he transferred to Woodstock in '99 and then jumped over to Kennesaw in 2003. He decided to come to Milton in '07. While his knowledge is vast, his main area of expertise is traffic and fatality investigations. For those Milton families who have lost a loved in one of Milton's open road neighborhoods, Lt. Borsey was most likely the lead investigator.

I was also surprised that Milton typically has only four officers on duty for our 35,000 plus population. Earlier this week, our home town suffered a great tragedy when a father gunned down his teenage step son. According to authorities, all four officers on duty rushed to the scene. Those scheduled for the following shift had to be called in early for coverage purposes. However, during that brief moment of exchange, our citizens were left in great jeopardy as the rest of the city was unprotected. Before the end of 2012, our elected officials must guarantee six or more officers per shift. This would
insure one officer in each of our three zones remain when emergencies take place.

Our officers typically work over forty hours a week. When an emergency takes place, the last thing I want are first responders who are exhausted. When seconds equal years, these men and women need to be as well rested as possible so that they can perform their important tasks clearly with extreme focus. Again, more officers are needed.

With citizens having the honor to employ such a credentialed hero, I had to ask myself what can we do to keep Lt. Borsey, Sgt. Kiel, Officer Hayes and others like them here? Much like thousands of industries throughout the US, all are looking for the better deal to provide the best life for loved ones and themselves-including police officers.

There is quite a bit of overlapping from city to city in North Fulton. Johns Creek residents go to Alpharetta for various things, Milton residents go to Roswell for the same and vice versa. Our communities are interlinked via many routes.

One such commonality is the pursuit of good professional officers with offerings of competitive pay and benefits. So how does Milton's offering stack up against it's neighbors? Some elected officials past and present have claimed that our officers were either on par with "similar municipalities" or above. As stated earlier, North Fulton is a community within itself, but I digress...

It is time to expose the truth of the matter.Ranks included here are Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain.

For starters, let's take a look at the typical patrol officer. Milton's yearly average is $35,956.23, while Alpharetta sits at $51,450.00, Roswell at $44,289.00,
and Johns Creek at $47,788.80.

In regards to the rank of Sergeant, Milton is the only municipality amongst these cities to carry this level. The average here is $49,223.87.

Next we have the rank of Lieutenant-Milton; $51,936.29 , Alpharetta; $66,150.00 , Roswell; $65,435.00, and Johns Creek at $67,433.60.

And finally, Captain. Milton; $64,298, Alpharetta; $79,150.00, Roswell; $72,142.00, and Johns Creek at $70,699.20.

Our compensation is dead last across the board. In a city where local leaders past and present have boasted that Milton "is the second wealthiest city in Georgia", shouldn't our officers be some of the better paid amongst the state? After all, everything is relative. Our tax monies should be spent in a priority fashion. On the top of that list should be the protection of family, friends, and property and so on. Rest assured, an old house on a hill isn't going to come to your aid in time of great perile.

Not only does adequate policing by experienced officers keep our loved ones safer, it also has a positive impact on property values. There is a reason why we are told to stay out of a "bad area"; the primary reason being not enough officers on hand to insure a safe community.

In conclusion, it is time to look out for our own. Milton's officers are willing to lay down their lives for us. The least we can do is contact council and demand that our officers are paid aggressively. Tell them that more officers of the highest caliber and experience are needed to properly protect our Milton and tell them the time to act is now. Otherwise, we run a higher risk of danger and the reputation as the last place any good public servant would want to serve.

If you would like to contact the mayor, please click here and the council can be reached here.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Feelin' Lucky With The Beverage Depot!

To find out more about The Beverage Depot, click here!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Al-Anon Family Groups.

AM NOTE: Many thanks to "German Shepherd fan" for bringing this group to readers attention.

How do you know if you have been affected by someone's problem drinking?

In Al-Anon, members do not give direction or advice to other members. Instead, they share their personal experiences and stories, and invite other members to “take what they like and leave the rest”—that is, to determine for themselves what lesson they could apply to their own lives.

The best place to learn how Al-Anon works is at an Al-Anon meeting in your local community. Personal contact is an important element in the healing process. These Web page selections may give you some encouragement to visit your first meeting.

Newcomers to Al-Anon are often interested in learning from members whose personal situations most closely resemble theirs. After attending Al Anon meetings, they begin to understand how much they have in common with everyone affected by someone else’s drinking, regardless of the specific details of their personal situation.

To find out more about Al-Anon, please click here.

Councilman, mayor participate in school’s veteran appreciation event.


Councilman Bill Lusk, a Navy Seabee during Vietnam, and Mayor Joe Lockwood took part in Summit Hill Elementary’s 5th grade service project assembly March 7 to honor veterans and current troops.

The fifth graders are collecting items to send to soldiers in Afghanistan, and to illustrate who their work would benefit, veterans from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam joined currently enlisted servicemen in speaking to the children about their experiences.

As part of their service project, students are collecting items for care packages, and community members can help with donations. Organizers are looking for magazines, books, CDs, DVDs and other small items soldiers can use to make their experience in war time more comfortable.

If you would like to help donate any of these items or make a monetary donation, please contact Paula Roland at 678-576-6942 or e-mail

To see photos from the event, click here to view the Mayor and City Council folder on the City of Milton’s flickr Page.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Crabapple plan implementation meeting March 21.


Residents interested in how the City of Milton is implementing last year’s Crabapple Visioning Study will want to be in attendance March 21 at 6 p.m. when the city discusses its plan for a new zoning district in Crabapple.

This meeting will take place at Alpharetta’s Crabapple Government Center, located at 12625 Broadwell Road in the heart of historic downtown Crabapple.

At this meeting, Milton Community Development Director Kathleen Field will discuss the city’s recent efforts to establish form-based coding and transfer of development rights in Crabapple. These two zoning tools will allow Milton to create a uniform, community-approved aesthetic in the area while protecting the surrounding open spaces from development.

“This work is the logical first step in creating the popular Crabapple Visioning Study completed by Lew Oliver Inc. Wholetown Solutions last year,” said Field. “At this meeting we’ll explain how this new form-based coding zoning district can create the type of idyllic, design-oriented town center residents desire. We’ll also introduce the concept of transfer of development rights, which will allow Crabapple to grow smartly while preserving Milton’s valued agricultural land.”
Click here for more information.

Ga. 400 meetings held March 13-20.


The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is looking at options to improve mobility along the Ga. 400 corridor, including adding express lanes. What do you think? What are the needs and issues of the corridor?

They want to hear from you.

Please drop by one of the public information open houses listed below to learn more about the study, discuss issues with staff, and share your ideas. All meetings are from 5 to 7 p.m.; come by anytime.

March 13
5-7 p.m.
The Cottage School
700 Grimes Bridge Road
Roswell, GA 30075

March 15
5-7 p.m.
Piney Grove Elementary School
8135 Majors Road
Cumming, GA 30041

March 20
5-7 p.m.
First Baptist Church Sandy Springs
650 Mount Vernon Highway
Sandy Springs, GA 30328

For more information, visit or contact Kristine Hansen-Dederick at 404-377-9147 or

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Another Wreck In One of Milton's Open Road Neighborhoods.

AM NOTE: Hopewell Road is home to over one hundred Milton families. Many thanks to Milton Police and Fire Departments for coming to those in need.

Courtesy Milton Police Department.

DATE: 2.25.12




MAKE: Jeep

YEAR: 1997

REMOVED BY: United Towing

INJURED TAKEN TO: North Fulton Regional Hospital



REPORT BY: Grey, K.-Milton Police Department

REPORT DATE: 2.26.12

CHECK BY: Borsey, J. - Milton Police Department


Double click to enlarge image.


Vehicle 1 was traveling south bound on Hopewell Road, just north of Newton Drive. Vehicle 1 crossed over the double yellow line, crossing in to the Hopewell Road north bound lane. Vehicle 1 then entered back into the south bound lane. Vehicle 1 left the road way, running off the west side of Hopewell Road. The vehicle continued through a ditch. The vehicle struck a wire fence, continuing west bound and striking a tree. Witness 1 advised that he was traveling Hopewell Road north bound. He advised that as Vehicle 1 was approaching him in the south bound lane, he appeared to be driving very fast. Witness 1 stated that vehicle 1 crossed over the double yellow line into his lane of travel (north bound lane), causing witness 1 to slow down drastically. Vehicle 1 then entered back in to the south bound lane and ran off the west side of Hopewell Road. Vehicle 1 left the roadway,traveling through a ditch and striking a fence. Vehicle 1 continued west bound through the fence and struck a tree. Witness 1 stated that he stopped to check on driver 1. Witness 1 stated the vehicle was smoking and he was fearful that the vehicle may catch fire. Witness 1 removed driver 1 from the vehicle. Witness 1 stated that driver 1 was unconcious and leaned over the center console, not wearing his seatbelt. Upon arrival, driver 1 was concious and alert, but suffering from injuries. Driver 1 had no recollection of what happened. Driver 1 did not appear under the influence of alchol or drugs. Driver 1 was transported to North Fulton Regional Hospital for further evaluation.

*******ADDITIONAL CHARGES*********

VEHICLE #1 -Citation # -Basic Rules - Too fast for conditions.
VEHICLE #1 -Citation # - Safety Belts; Required Useage
VEHICLE #1 -Citation # - Reckless Driving 1st offense.

Gun Wisdom.

Many thanks to "Jesse James" for forwarding this information about gun facts. Remember, knowledge is power!

Gun Wisdom

Some words to the wise.
Shooting Advice from various Concealed Carry Instructors.
If you own a gun, you will appreciate this.
If not, you should get one and learn how to use it:

A: Guns have only two enemies rust and politicians.

B: It’s always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

C: Cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you.

D: Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside arms-length.

E: Never say "I’ve got a gun." If you need to use deadly force, the first sound they hear should be the safety clicking off.

F: The average response time of a 911 call is 23 minutes, the response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second.

G: The most important rule in a gunfight is: Always win - cheat if necessary.

H: Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets . . . You may
get killed with your own gun, but he'll have to beat you to death with it,
cause it'll be empty.

I: If you’re in a gun fight:

1. If you're not shooting, you should be loading.

2. If you're not loading, you should be movin,

3. If you're not movin', you're dead.

J: In a life and death situation, do something . . . It may be wrong, but do


K: If you carry a gun, people call you paranoid. Nonsense!
If you have a gun, what do you have to be paranoid about?

L: You can say 'stop' or 'alto' or any other word, but a large bore muzzle
pointed at someone's head is pretty much a universal language.

M: You cannot save the planet, but you may be able to save yourself and your family.

If you believe in the 2nd Amendment, please forward.

Companionship - A Beautiful Thing...

Many thanks to "Steal Magnolia" for sending this to!

"Here is a poor homeless man that, in reality, is truly blessed with companionship.

The dog probably doesn't even know that they are homeless. All he knows is that he is loved.

It makes you appreciate life and what's really important. Don't sweat the small stuff. Enjoy life!"

Sen. Albers to Honor Members of “Bridging the Gap of Georgia ” with Senate Resolution.



Natalie Dale, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist

ATLANTA (March 5, 2012) – Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) will present Senate Resolution 884 to members of “Bridging the Gap of Georgia” on Thursday, March 8, 2012 at Jarmin Law Group in Buckhead. “Bridging The Gap of Georgia” is a non-profit organization that helps veterans find employment and reestablish themselves as contributing members of society through the bridging the gap mentorship program. Sen. Albers will present the resolution to Executive Director Keith Laseter and members of the Board of Directors.

WHEN: Thursday, March 8th
1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Jarmin Law Group

1801 Peachtree Street NW

Suite 155

Atlanta , GA 30309


Sen. John Albers represents the 56th Senate District which includes portions of North Fulton County . He may
be reached at his office at 404.463.8055 or by email at

Milton High grad receives Purple Heart.

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Longtime Alpharetta and Carrollton resident John M. North was presented the Purple Heart during a ceremony at Fort Story, Va. this month. He received the award for wounds received in action, Oct. 19, 2009, while serving a combat tour in Afghanistan.

North was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 2007 after receiving a bachelor's degree from The Citadel.

The Milton High School graduate is currently serving as a logistics officer with the Coordination, Liaison and Assessment Team at Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group in Virginia Beach, Va.

Monday, March 05, 2012

2011 Road To Safety Winner; 3rd Place!


We conclude the wonderful top three Road To Safety videos for 2011 with readers!

Our Third Place Winners are from Alpharetta High School. Kailey Monahan and Victoria Panasyuk created this beautiful video anticipating a wonderful evening that ends in tragedy. With third place, these young ladies took home $150.00 in cash and prizes! Great job!

Milton considers front yard horse arenas.

Courtesy The Milton Neighbor.

By Angela Abbamonte

Milton City Council is considering changing the zoning for agricultural districts as it relates to animal housing in front yards.

At the Feb. 22 meeting, the council generally decided on a minimum of five acres in order to have barns and riding arenas. The final decision was deferred to the March 19 meeting in order to give time for staff to clean up the amendment.

Currently, on non-residential parcels with a minimum of 10 acres, buildings housing animals are considered “accessory structures” and need to be a minimum of 100 feet from property lines.

On parcels with single family residence buildings housing animals and riding arenas are only allowed in the rear or side yards.

City council’s discussion went through front yard uncovered riding areas, uncovered with lighting and bleachers, covered riding areas and covered with lighting and bleachers.

For all but the last scenario – covered riding arena with lighting and bleachers – council discussed a five acre minimum along with a special use permit. For the covered and lighted arena a 10 acre minimum was discussed.

Before the discussion of the amendment, Laura Bentley with the Milton Horse Council said she thought it was wise for the council to evaluate smaller parcels of land.

“I have a 10-acre horse farm and I thought what that might be like if I put a covered riding arena in the front of my property where I’m very close to neighborhoods on each side,” she said.

“I think it would really change the complexion of my area and I think you might have the potential to affect negatively more people than positively.”

Tree care to be discussed this Saturday at Bell Memorial.


The City of Milton, an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA, will host a free tree care informational event this Saturday, March 10, at Bell Memorial Park from 9 a.m. to noon.

This event is a required component of the city's current tree inventory. Two consulting arborists from Davey Resource Group, along with city staff, will be on site to discuss proper tree care, mulching, pruning, signs of disease, tree species identification and answer any questions the public might have about the tree inventory.

“Residents can learn how the inventory information will be gathered and how it will be utilized,”
said Mark Law, Milton’s arborist. “Additionally, the city will perform future inventories and will need volunteers to assist in this endeavor, so we’ll be taking contact information for interested residents.”
Law also said residents who would like to be on a contact list for future tree inventory projects can e-mail him at if they cannot make the event Saturday.

This project is funded by the Georgia Forestry Commission's Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program and is the first step toward a tree management and maintenance plan.

Click here for more information.

Backstreet Boy reports $120,000 jewelry theft.


NOTE: With Brian being a resident of Milton, we thought the following story would be of interest.

..STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (AP) — A member of the Backstreet Boys pop music group tells police that $120,000 in jewelry was stolen from a Stone Mountain hotel where he and his wife were staying.

Brian Littrell tells WSB-TV ( ) they were leaving Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta when they realized the jewelry had been left on a nightstand in their hotel room. He said that when they returned to the hotel to retrieve the items, they were gone.

Leighanne Littrell says the $120,000 in jewelry included her engagement ring valued at $110,000.

WSB reports that police were at the hotel Sunday night. It wasn't immediately clear when the reported theft occurred.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Great Video on Rain Barrel Installation.

Courtesy Aquascape.

A Moving Photo.

By with courtesy to the Associated Press.

With dangerous storms having hit the Southeast over the past few days, many families throughout the country have been affected. Just last night, Milton Georgia experienced tornado warnings and flooding.

The following picture was sent to us by Jessica P with a request to share it with AM readers. Great find, Jessica...

Greg Cook hugs his dog Coco after finding her inside his destroyed home in the East Limestone, Ala. on Friday, March 2, 2012. A reported tornado destroyed several houses in northern Alabama as storms threatened more twisters across the region Friday (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr.)...

Friday, March 02, 2012

Coyotes go from predator to prey.

NOTE: With Coyotes being seen in Milton, we thought the following story would be of interest.


Atlanta neighborhoods struggling to deal with coyotes turn to trappers.

By Mark Davis
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Chip Elliott turned the steering wheel sharply to the left. His truck came to a quick stop in a cluster of hardwoods hard on the Chattahoochee River. “There,” he said, pointing.

Enlarge photo Bita Honarvar, Chip Elliott, owner of Atlanta Wildlife Relocator, stands near a coyote trap, buried because of heavy rains, in a partially developed subdivision in Conyers. He had not caught any coyotes on this day.

Enlarge photo Bita Honarvar, A fresh coyote footprint in the mud of a partially-developed subdivision in Conyers.

Enlarge photo Mark Davis, "Coyotes," Elliott says, "are everywhere." He uses a 4-foot control stick to handle coyotes before removing them from traps.

Something moved in the morning shadows. It jumped and flipped. It kicked leaves and dirt.

Elliott lowered the tailgate of his Dodge Ram. He retrieved from the pickup bed a 4-foot aluminum pole with a retractable noose. He donned heavy gloves.

The thing in the shadows tried to run. A steel trap held its left front leg.

In a moment, Elliott slipped the noose over its head and tightened the cord so that the creature understood: It couldn’t get away.

Elliott opened the trap and freed the paw. He carried the unmoving animal to his truck, slid it into a mesh cage and secured its door with a length of twisted wire.

For a moment the captive looked at its captor with wide, gleaming eyes.

The eyes of a coyote. It was the 11th Elliott had trapped in two weeks behind homes in the Moore’s Mill community of Atlanta, a five-minute drive from the city’s high rises.

“A female,”
he said. “You want to catch them before they have their pups.”
He slammed the tailgate shut. This coyote would never have a litter.

Across metro Atlanta, neighborhoods and communities are wrestling with how to coexist with this primarily nocturnal predator. Some put the onus on humans: contain garbage, keep pets indoors at night, leave the coyotes alone.

Those who regard coyotes as a dangerous nuisance hire men like Elliott to trap — and kill — them.

Elliott, the owner of Atlanta Wildlife Relocator, has been catching unwanted animals for 24 years, trapping everything from squirrels to geese. For the past five years, he’s focused on coyotes.

He’s been busy this month. February is the breeding season for coyotes; the creatures are at large, meeting and mating.

Soon, pregnant coyotes will retire to dens to have pups. Their mates, aided by coyotes the mothers birthed a year ago, will bring them food. In spring, the young coyotes will emerge from their lair to join a growing population of Canis latrans.

“Coyotes are everywhere,” said Elliott, 47, a resident of unincorporated Walton County who spent his teen years trapping animals in Gwinnett County. “There are more and more coyotes coming.

That’s not just a sales pitch. In just the past year, officials from Atlanta to Loganville, Grayson to Douglasville, have discussed what to do about the wily intruders. Across the metro area, homeowners have compared notes — coyotes sighted, pets vanished, backyard chickens slaughtered.

The state Department of Natural Resources, which licenses trappers, lists more than 300 companies that remove wild creatures from backyards, golf courses and other places where they’re unwanted. Few, said Elliott, specialize in coyotes: Tracking and trapping them is time-consuming.

He admits that trapping them is a temporary measure; eventually, more will take their place.

“He’s the perfect predator,” said Elliott, who estimates he traps more than 100 in metro Atlanta every year. “He’ll eat anything — a dead squirrel in the road, tomatoes in your garden, berries, your cat.”

Western transplants

Coyotes came here from the American West, leaving their traditional arid range for the easy pickings of eastern cities and suburbs. They live in every state in the intercontinental United States, as well as in Canada.

State officials have “no idea” how many coyotes live in Georgia, said Don McGowan, a senior wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources. Unlike bear or deer, which are protected and subject to annual counts, the coyote is an unprotected species. DNR doesn’t track coyote populations.

“They appear pretty evenly distributed,” said McGowan, who regularly fields calls from people reporting coyote sightings. “There may be an even higher density of them in urban and suburban areas.”
State law requires trappers to kill what they catch, or sell them to fox-hunting clubs. Some trappers, Elliott included, keep a few coyotes in captivity long enough to collect their urine, laying down tarps under their cages and bottling the stuff. It smells awful, but is an effective scent to bait coyote traps. Other coyotes he skins, dumping their carcasses in a trench.

Coyote pelts aren’t in great demand in the United States, where faux fur clothing is preferred over the real thing. But other nations aren’t as picky. The fur of a coyote captured in Cobb County may end up lining a parka in China.

Still, some coyotes are worth more than others. An animal fancier recently learned of a black coyote that a Rockdale County deputy killed and buried after discovering the animal in one of Elliott’s traps. Because it was unusual — most coyotes are tawny colored — the collector wanted it mounted. He offered Elliott $150 for the unskinned carcass. Elliott dug it up.

Not everyone thinks the coyote needs to be chased off or killed. In a meeting last year, the Decatur City Commission urged residents to coexist with their shaggy neighbors.

In Atlanta, city officials’ plans to trap a coyote family seen at a southwest city park fell apart when a homeowner on whose property the animals were living said she wouldn’t allow “cruel” traps on her land.

Trapping works, said Atlanta resident Jay Smith. Two years ago, he and others in the Mount Paran Road area of Buckhead hired Elliott, who removed eight coyotes. Last fall, Elliott caught 13 more.

Suddenly, said Smith, the coyotes were gone. Their pets were safe again.

“If you allow a coyote to remain in your neighborhood, the longer it’s there, the bolder it gets,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of time ... before these animals will go after larger pets.”
Christy Bosarge agrees. Last month, the Decatur resident organized a meeting to discuss trapping the animals. On a misty night, more than 50 people turned out.

Removing a few coyotes from an area teaches the remainder to avoid humans, Bosarge, whose cat, Zaya, died in a mid-day coyote attack last year, told the group.

“We’ve got to do something to restore their fear of humans,” she said. “It’s not my goal to make them go away, but we’re their only predator.”

Bosarge didn’t succeed in changing Caroline Ledbetter’s mind.

“I am wholeheartedly against trapping and killing coyotes,” said Ledbetter, who suggested removing pet bowls from outside to deter coyotes, as well as keeping pets inside. “It’s not like one is going to attack you.”

Attacks are rare but do happen. An urban coyote study under way in Chicago reports 142 coyote attacks on humans in the United States and Canada between 1985 and 2006. It also notes two fatalities — in 1981, when a 3-year-old California girl was killed, and in 2009, when several coyotes in Nova Scotia mauled a 19-year-old hiker.

The two-hour meeting in Decatur ended as it began — with attendees about evenly split on whether they should hire a trapper.

“That’s how it usually works,” said Elliott, who attended the meeting and answered questions. “Some [communities] take a year or more to make up their minds. Some never do.”

Ground work

Elliott charges $1,000 for a two-week contract to remove coyotes. His clients include subdivision homeowner associations, country clubs, golf courses and people with large tracts. He posts signs across the area warning that coyote traps are set.

He’ll set as many as 50. They’re typically doused with coyote urine and buried under a light cover of earth. The traps have rounded jaws to keep from breaking skin or bone. Each has a tag with Elliott’s name and phone number.

“I’ve had people call me up saying, ‘You trapped my dog!’ ” Elliott said. “If I do, it’s their fault. They were warned.”

Other animals stumble into his traps. On a recent morning, he freed a trapped possum, which hissed once and ran for cover. Deer, he said, also trip his traps, which are engineered so that the animal can yank its hoof free.

Law requires him to check his traps every day. His 4-year-old truck has 199,000 miles on its odometer.

Elliott’s day usually starts at sunup. He likes to be home by dark to spend time with his wife and 4-year-old daughter.

His day often ends with gunshots.

The young female Elliott took near the Chattahoochee was his second catch of the day. Earlier that morning, he caught a mangy old male in a Rockdale County subdivision. “When he saw me,” Elliott said, “he started howling.”

Back in Walton County, Elliott unloaded the cages from his truck. He reached for his .22-caliber pistol.

He fired twice.

Father files $10.5M suit over Roswell student's death.

By David Ibata
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A father has filed a $10.5 million lawsuit against the Fulton County schools, holding teachers and administrators responsible for the death last year of an 18-year-old special needs student, Channel 2 Action News reported.

Aaron Hatcher, who had muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy and could not talk or walk on his own, died last March after a teacher at Roswell High School allegedly fabricated a neck brace and made the youth wear it.

The suit contends the student suffered repeated abuse at the hands of the special needs teacher, including the neck brace. The litigation names several dozen defendants including Fulton County School Board members.

"I wanted it to stop. I even said in my email, if you don't stop this, he’s going to die. They did nothing,” Aaron’s father, Ronald Hatcher, told Channel 2.

Trey Sauls, the father's attorney, said the teacher “fastened this neck brace not for any medical reason but to force his neck in a position to look at her. … In turning his head in this position, it restricted his airway. In essence, it stopped him from breathing.”

The father has said the restraint led to several emergency room trips from school when Aaron stopped breathing. On March 19, after being released from the hospital, the teen died at home.

Sauls said that the unauthorized neck restraint led to the student’s death.

A Fulton County schools spokesman told Channel 2 that school officials had not seen the lawsuit and had no comment on it.

Community Partnerships.

If you are a regular reader of the City of Milton newsletter, you’ve probably noticed we’re striving for more of a community focus in lieu of a strictly government news-centered announcement. The reason, of course, is that we recognize you, our residents, love seeing yourselves, your friends and your children in a fun, colorful newsletter delivered free of charge to your e-mail account. It highlights the ways you’re living your lives to the fullest and singles out neighbors doing the same.

Now, I’d love to have you all at the City of Milton every day when you’re off work, but the simple fact is it’s just not feasible. Instead, you’re at your child’s school, or one of our recreation programs, or working with others to make your community a better place through volunteer work. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help spread those programs and messages.

At the City of Milton, we value of community partnerships. This is a somewhat new way of doing business in local government, and we’re very pleased with the results. This type of work is especially important in a relatively young city, as community isn’t built overnight. Instead, it takes years of work, friendship and caring.

That said, let me take you through some of the neat city and community items we’ve got in our newsletter this month.

We’ve got news about several City of Milton programs built specifically for community interaction – Camp Joyful Soles, the Evergreen Schools environmental project, tree appreciation events, an art project, the Disability Awareness Committee’s Community Links series, Bulky Trash Day, the Earth Day festival, our Memorial Day Ceremony and summer sports camps. I hope to see you at one of these great events or programs.

Then we get into news sent to us: Summit Hill’s kindergarten tours, Birmingham Falls’ third annual race, YMCA programs for special needs children, info from Cambridge High, Hopewell Middle students doing great things and a local girl who’s headed to a national equestrian competition.

It’s this type of news we’re trying to include more each month. But the only way we can do that is if you continue to send it to us. If you’ve got news you’d like to see in the monthly newsletter (which goes out to about 2,600 people, by the way, plus Facebook and Twitter uses numbering more than 1,000) send it to Jason Wright, our Communications Manager. His e-mail is

That’s it for this month. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Why not stop by or contact me directly?

Mayor Joe Lockwood

Registration now open for special needs camp.


Registration is now open for Camp Joyful Soles, Milton's special needs day camp for children age 12 to 18.

To register for Joyful Soles, click here to download the form. It may be filled out online, then mailed or dropped off at Milton's City Hall, 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 107 Milton, GA 30004 . Please make sure if mailing to clearly mark the contents are for Tom Gilliam.

Camp Joyful Soles, held in conjunction with Alpharetta's Camp Happy Hearts, will take place at Hopewell Middle School from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 4 to July 27 (with no camp July 4). This small, specialized camp is limited to just 20 participants a week and includes arts and crafts, games, special guests, fitness classes and swimming once a week.

Cost is $125 for Milton and Alpharetta residents and $187.50 for non-residents (a 50 percent increase) per week. Guardians may register for all eight weeks or a week at a time. The first week must be paid in full. There is a $50 per-week, non-refundable, non-transferable fee to hold spaces in future weeks. Remainder of the balance is due prior to the week reserved.

For more information, contact Tom Gilliam, Recreation Program Coordinator, at 678.242.2519 or .

City hiring three counselors for camp Joyful Soles.


The City of Milton Parks and Recreation Department is hiring three part-time, seasonal positions - a lead counselor and two counselors - to help run and staff Camp Joyful Soles.

Interested applicants need to have graduated high school by June 1, 2012.

Full information on job qualifications, pay and more is available at the City of Milton's online Career Center. For mobile device users, simply choose the "Careers" tab on the city's mobile site, then choose "Lead Counselor - Joyful Soles" or "Counselor - Joyful Soles."

Applications are due April 6.

For more information, contact Tom Gilliam, Recreation Program Coordinator, at 678.242.2519 or .