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Brockett Heights Meeting Poses More Questions; Gets Few Answers

The Brockett Heights Community met Nov.11  at the Greater Atlanta Homebuilder's Association Building at 1484 Brockett Road in Tucker.  Here is a rundown of the concerns they shared with state Senator Steve Henson:

AREAS OF CONCERN FOR BROCKETT HEIGHTS

  • City Border Negotiations and Disputes, 
  • Negative impact of this process on neighborhoods, 
  • Many vacant homes or homes for sale now,
  • Growing concerns over the large refugee population still being brought to Dekalb, 
  • Annexation Areas Identified by Clarkston and 
  • The previously approved plan to create a city of Northlake 
  • Who is representing us? Why can’t we get any answers?  What can we do about being gerrymandered away from our community of interest?
  • Lobbyists not identifying themselves as such when making public comments or when addressing the legislature in front of the public.  
  • City groups treating Tucker and other areas with a different set of rules compared to Emory or neighboring cities who  have asked for territory to be left off the Lakeside/Briarcliff map.  
  • POTENTIAL harm that could come from inexperienced negotiators being manipulated by those with expertise in the law and government. 
  • What can be done to protect our CORE Tucker communities, easily identified by the 30084 zip code?  Zip codes were used as core areas for previously created cities but are not respected in the current proposals.


At the conclusion of the meeting, the community decided to email the House Committee members to lodge their complaints against the deadline of Nov. 15 and request an extension of that date until Dec. 15 so that a District 1 commissioner could be elected and participate in the border agreement.  The email list for the committee, chaired by Rep. Amy Carter (R - Valdosta), is available by request.

Sen. Henson reminded the group that the deadline was only a House-imposed rule that would affect their hearing process.  It is not a legal agreement or any indication that the committee would  pass a bill that was sent to them for review.  "It still has to pass the Senate, regardless of what they come up with," he said.

Sen. Henson also stated that he grew up in the area and even graduated from Henderson High School, which is now Henderson Middle School and is part of the controversy since it is the school where Mary Kay and Mark Woodworth served on the PTA and school council.

Recently, Save Tucker! has questioned whether the Woodworths were serving beyond the time normally allowed for participation in the schools in that capacity.  Statements in the press have indicated that they took the last of their children out of public school before the SACS commission threaten to yank accreditation.  But other statements were made that they were currently still serving on the school council.  State law requires a parent on the school council to have a currently enrolled student in that school, which would have required them to step down from that position.*

"I was the elected school council representative at Brockett," said  Cheryl Miller, a  homeowner and resident of Brockett Heights and co-founder of Save Tucker! "and I had to give up that role in 2011 when we decided to pull our child and place her in private school.   If I would have been able to remain in touch with the community and school system in that capacity, perhaps we would not have been taken so off-guard by what has since transpired with Lakeside.  It is another example of the people who are in the friends and family network in our schools following a different set of rules.  Their needs  always get bumped to the top of the priority list. They have local control here."

Save Tucker also questions the Woodworth family's recent fundraiser for Republican Nancy Jester of Dunwoody, who is running for the County Commission seat in District 1.  The rules for non-profit status are pretty clear in that they do not allow political advocacy.  "The idea that it could be seen as a conflict of interest with their fundraising arm of Lakeside City should really be examined," said Miller.

Sen. Henson said he always thought of the Northlake Mall as being a part of Tucker.   Residents noted that there is a large, valuable amount of land that many consider "Northlake" that is called "Tucker" with Tucker addresses and the Tucker zip code, but it does not include the mall itself.   Save Tucker! group members have suggested that the legislature protect Tucker's zip code boundary and let other areas prove they can create viable cities without taking what does not belong to them.

Henson has not favored a city in Central DeKalb, but did present a compromise amendment last session that would have created a combined city of Tucker and Lakeside, presumably matching the shared school board district that they now occupy.  That amendment failed to win a majority of voters in the Senate Committee.  The Lakeside bill passed the Senate, but did not get through the House Government Affairs Committee last session and it was effectively killed.  That bill's sponsor, Sen. Fran Millar, has said he will not bring it up again but he will carry a bill to the Senate if one can make it out of the House in the 2015 session which begins January.

Tucker 2015 representatives and Tucker Civic Association members were present but did not disclose any new information, frustrating residents.  They brought a laminated copy of their existing map and Frank Auman, previous year's spokesman who is now an official board member along with Michelle Penkava and Anne Lerner, made a brief comment that the group would like to hold a meeting but he had another appointment and had to leave early.

Lerner handed out some information about the zoning code with the county and noted that tweaks were made in the section on cell phone towers.  She also stated her personal support for the Independent candidate running for District 1 commissioner, a seat previously held by Elaine Boyer for 22 years and which the Brockett Heights community was drawn out, partially, during the redistricting process of 2011.  "Holmes Pyles," she said, "I really liked him.  We need to try to get him elected."

The meeting concluded with an overview by Troy Bush, pastor of Rehoboth Baptist Church on Lawrenceville Highway.  He has been working with local government to help clean up some of the crime along the corridor and encouraged the neighborhoods to be more vocal in what they want to see happen in the future.  "Regardless of what city we end up in eventually," he said, "we all share the responsibility of what happens.  I don't want to come back here in 10 years and see that nothing has changed.  We can do something here that will make everyone proud."

County Commissioners Stan Watson and Sharon-Barnes Sutton, who picked up this community during redistricting, were both unable to attend due to other commitments for the Veteran's Day holiday.  Rep. Dr. Karla Drenner and Rep. Michelle Henson also sent their regrets for being unable to attend.  Rep. Earnest "Coach" Williams, who represents Brockett Heights, was also invited.

If  you live in the Brockett Heights community, please join the Next Door Online Discussions Board at:  https://nextdoor.com/invite/tzsbvvqnztctygtzeysw.

The next meeting will take place sometime in January and the community will meet at the nearby North/Central precinct for a tour of the county's state of the art 911 facility.  Email questions to cherylpaulmiller@att.net or leave a comment below.

 Less than a half mile from Brockett  Heights, the county's impressive police, fire and emergency complex, complete with 911 HQ and a  helipad.  City organizers for Lakeside continue to put down Tucker's decision to keep their safety with these experts.  Perhaps they do not realize how lucky BOTH groups are to live, work and play within the reach of the state's top safety officials and officers?












*  From the DeKalb County School System website:  The A+ Reform Law required that every school in Georgia have operational school councils by October 1, 2003. All DeKalb County Schools organized school councils at the start of the 2001–2002 school year.
School councils bring communities and schools closer together in a spirit of cooperation to solve education problems, to improve academic achievement, to provide support for teachers and administrators, and to bring parents into the decision making process. School-based decision making is designed to increase the involvement of teachers, parents, and the community in the important decisions about how the school operates and performs.
Each council must have a minimum of seven members: four parents/guardians, two certified teachers, and the principal. Parents/guardians must hold a majority on the school council and a parent/guardian must serve as chairperson (Official Code of Georgia Annotated [OCGA] § 20-2-86[d]). School council members have been trained to organize meetings and develop school council bylaws, understand advisory status and authority, recognize legal issues such as open meetings and open records laws and confidentiality, make recommendations to increase student achievement, and to create a school improvement plan. Councils provide an opportunity for local school decisions by representing the interests of that school council to the principal, who in turn conveys the information to the area assistant superintendents, Superintendent, and if necessary the Board of Education.
The role of the school council in the principal selection process shall be advisory and specified in policy written by the local board of education and regulations developed by the superintendent (OCGA § 20-2-86[t] and Board of Education policy BBFA).  bylaws found here.

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