Cumberland Connector Bus Fare To Be Free By First Pitch

The Cumberland Connector will be getting a new look, revamped routes and a better fare – free – by baseball’s opening day this year.

District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott told the Smyrna Business Association in January that following two public hearings he expects changes to be made. The Red route, serving Home Depot’s headquarters, is expected to be terminated. The Green and Blue Routes, currently both from the Cumberland Transfer Station, will be revamped with the Green route clockwise serving the Windy Hill and Interstate North area and the Blue Route serving Cumberland. They will intersect at SunTrust Park.

“There are changes coming,” Ott said. “The most significant one is that it will be free.”

The buses will be rebranded so that they don’t look like Cobblink buses. The operating costs are covered by Hotel-Motel taxes.

“It will still be operated by Cobblink, but not paid by county dollars,” he said.

“These changes will be done before first pitch,” Ott said.

SunTrust Park and Battery Atlanta should bring in more money for the county in 2018 than the cost of stadium operations. That was the bottom line of a new analysis unveiled by Ott during a Board of Commissioners Work Session in January.

Ott said money generated from the ballpark and development in 2017 came in only $27,210 short of “breaking even” for the county. This was despite the fact the Battery Atlanta development was only 50 percent built out by the end of the year and the Omni Hotel and Comcast Regional Headquarters just opened around the end of the year.

“We originally thought it would take several years for the revenue to exceed the burden on taxpayers,” Ott said. “Now it appears certain that will happen in Year 2.”

Ott says income from the Cumberland Special Service District property tax and hotel/motel fees exceeded expectations.

“The goal should be to not have the property taxpayers pay for any portion of the debt service for the park,” Ott said. “Given the anticipated growth in revenue, I believe that is now a real possibility over the next couple of years.”

From the February 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Campbell Retires Lautsch’s Jersey

Campbell High School retired the jersey of Christie Lautsch, the all-time leading basketball scorer for the Lady Spartans, in a ceremony Jan. 9.

Lautsch averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game while at Campbell. She was named to Georgia Class 5A all-state first team and Street & Smith honorable mention All-America honors in 2003.

Christie was a second team all-state selection in 2002 and as a freshman, was an Adidas Top Ten Camp Underclass All-Star, also earning all-county and Street & Smith honorable mention All-America honors. Breakdown Magazine rated Lautsch the ninth best post in the nation and the No. 40th player overall. She entered the 2004 season ranked nationally as No. 51 by Blue Star Index and No. 65 in All Star Girls Report.

In 2004 Christie was awarded Marietta Daily Journal Player of the year, 5A State Player of the Year, 5A All-State Teams-First Team, and Atlanta Tip-Off Club Naismith Trophy. She is the all-time leading Lady Spartan with 1,907 points, second in Campbell history to Brian Oliver. Christie’s record high game was scoring 45 points and a career total of 1,137 rebounds, and 407 blocks.

According to Randy McClure Sr., Varsity Lady Spartans basketball Head Coach, Lautsch earned all type of basketball accolades through her high school and college careers.

“Christie’s story is a true heart string type story,” McClure said. “What everyone did not know is that before she came to high school her father had died of cancer and all the time she was in high school her mother was battling cancer.

“Her mother, Janet Lautsch, would lose her battle with Cancer just before graduation. In a truly great gesture, Principal Kehl Arnson and Florida State head Coach Sue Samurai held a private graduation ceremony at her home before she passed so that Christie’s mom could see her actually graduate.

“She was well aware of her condition, but was determined to see Christie, the youngest of her three children and a basketball superstar, graduate from high school. Coach Samurai also promised that she would make sure that Christie would graduate from Florida State.

“I am very happy that we can honor this great young lady who certainly helped lift our program into one of the best in the state of Georgia and especially in Cobb County where the basketball has always been very competitive statewide,” he said.

Lautsch lives in Smyrna and works nearby. She said the honor is “bittersweet” without her mother, but was awed by the honor.

“It’s an awesome feeling to know that hard work does pay off,” she said.

From the February 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

‘Sister Act’ On Stage This Weekend

2018 Encore Series and Pebblebrook High School present “Sister Act: The Musical.” Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 1-4.

This musical is based on the hit 1992 film. Deloris Van Cartier, a famous disco singer, is put into witness protection in a convent. While struggling through the restrictions of her new lifestyle, she finds comfort in the church’s choir and ends up inspiring the church and community. Enjoy powerful gospel music, dancing and a moving story. Performances will be at 8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday and 3 pm. on Sunday. Tickets are $20 each. To purchase, visit ticketmaster.com or call 770-528-8490.

Shows are at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, Cobb Civic Center, 548 S. Marietta Parkway SE, Marietta. Visit ticketmaster.com or call 770-528-8490 for tickets.

Other upcoming shows in the Encore Series include:

• Jay and the Americans, 8 p.m., Feb. 27
• Linda Eder, 8 p.m., March 10
• The Company Men, 3 p.m., March 25
• 1964: The Tribute, 8 p.m., April 7

Tickets for all shows in the Encore Series are available now on ticketmaster.com. Anderson Theatre is located in the Cobb Civic Center, 548 South Marietta Parkway SE, Marietta. For more information on each show, view the Encore Series flyer.

Maryline Blackburn Joins Smyrna City Council

Maryline Blackburn knew that she was making history after the votes were counted in the Smyrna Ward 3 runoff election Dec. 5.

“Some of you may not know it, but on Dec. 5 you made Smyrna history,” she said.

“For the first time in our 145 years of existence, you elected an African American to Smyrna’s City Council,” she said. “Forty-six percent of Smyrna’s population are people of color and they now have a seat at the table.”

The 56-year-old vocalist, beauty queen and founder of “Divas With A Cause,” pledged to serve as a representative of all the people after her swearing-in ceremony Dec. 18.

“I will work hard every day to gain your trust and be a councilwoman for all Ward 3 constituents,” she said.

Born in Europe, Blackburn grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. In 1984, she won the Miss Alaska Scholarship Pageant where Sarah Palin was her second runner up. Blackburn then went on to represent Alaska in the Miss America Scholarship Pageant where she was a talent finalist. She has performed with and opened for such legends of entertainment as Bob Hope on a USO tour, Cab & Chris Calloway, The Platters and Celine Deon.

During her campaign Blackburn pledged to put Families First and provide residents with a True Voice on City Council.

“I spoke of four fundamental pillars by which we should LEAD our community: Livability, Education, Accountability and Direction,” she said.

Speaking during her fist council meeting, Blackburn urged “smart growth that maintains the character and live-ability of Smyrna while balancing the needs of developer and business interests. Before we make any decision or vote on anything, we must first fully understand the impacts on traffic, schools, parks and public safety.”

She said she would work build upon the progress we have made and make Smyrna schools outstanding.

“As elected officials we must hold ourselves accountable to the people we serve. Are we meeting objectives? Are we keeping our promises?”

“As someone who has served on the Vision Committee, I understand that it all starts with a vision that clearly defines our goals and who we want to be as a community. That vision should be used to guide all of our decisions and it should represent the interests of Families First.

From the January 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Marlin Lamar Takes Austell Council Post

Born in Austell and working at his father’s store in downtown, Marvin Lamer now represents Ward 1 as councilman and wants to see the downtown area grow and prosper.

Austell’s Ward 1 includes the traditional downtown along Veterans Memorial Highway with a growing number of new shops and restaurants.

“The city is growing but my main focus is downtown,” Lamar said. “There are some new subdivisions but some of those folks don’t know there is a downtown.”

He said his main priority on council will be growth and helping what’s existing to improve.

He wants to the council to be seen as small business friendly

On election night in November Lamar thought he had won by one vote but two provisional ballots put him in a runoff in the two-man race. He takes over the seat formerly held by Kirsten Anderson who held it for 12 years before moving to Hawaii.

His father, M.L. Lamar operated Lamar’s Clothing on Jefferson Street for 61 years, selling everything from Levi’s and ladies dresses to shoes and bolts of cloth.

“I grew up in the business,” he said. “But the downtown started fading away when the malls the big box stores came along.”

The 63-year-old Lamar has a long history in Austell, serving on city board sand volunteering in civic events.

“I’ve always been active in the city, served on the zoning board and variance board,” he said. Now it’s my turn to serve.”

He was sown into office Dec. 19 along with returning council members Ollie Clemons, Jr. and Randy Green by Traffic Court Judge David Daren.

Lamar works at the Town Center Hilton Garden Inn as an engineering superintendent.

“The revitalization of downtown is on its way,” he said. “That’s the heartbeat of the city.”

He noted that the city recently expanded its city limits by annexing the Big Lots center on Austell Road. But, he does not foresee any “big box” stores in the city, in part due to lack of space.

His focus is on the community based businesses and specialty shops that continue to move to Austell.

“Things are starting to revitalize,” he said. The city purchased a property on Jefferson at Love Street, rebuilt it and leased it to the South Cobb Diner.

“That was a stimulus,” he said. “It has been a good attraction and the parking lots are full. Now we’ve got sidewalk traffic. And it’s only just begun.”

Now that he has been sworn in he’s ready for the first council meeting in January.

“I’m eager to get started and get to work.”

From the January 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Rep. Anulewicz Begins Work In General Assembly

After a decade on the Smyrna City Council, Teri Anulewicz understands the needs of the community. So she’s pleased that one of the top issues – transportation – is one her new committee assignments in the Georgia House.

Rep. Anulewicz won the House District 42 seat formerly held by Stacy Evans who is running for Governor.

Along with six other newly elected House members, she got a “crash course in Legislature 101” in December, she said.

The Speaker assigned her to committees on code revision, intragovernmental coordination, and transportation.

“Transportation is a tremendous issue, one of the biggest we face as a region,” she said. “(District 42) is cradled between I-75 and I-285.”

“This is a community where people and businesses want to be,” She said. Transit has been missing in this conversation and the Speaker has made that clear that (a solution) doesn’t mean just one thing.”

“Imagine if we had better and more efficient transit so we had an extra hour and a half with family each day,” she said.

She agreed that her predecessor’s work on HOPE grants for vocational colleges “Is defiantly on the agenda as we talk about the budget. It will be important as we talk about Amazon so that Georgia continues to have the workforce that we want to have.”

“I’m looking forward to getting things started,” she said. “It will start slow and gather speed like a freight train.”

Cobb has a very good delegation

She said that she has relationships with many of the Cobb delegation already. “I’m a known commodity, on both sides of the aisle. I’m familiar with the language and the culture.”

As the only name on the ballot, Anulewicz spent her campaign time getting to know the rest of the district. District 42 includes much of her former Smyrna Ward 3, plus Fair Oaks on the west, I-75 to the east and even the southern edge of the Marietta Square. She met with Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn, School Superintendent Grant Rivera and numerous community groups.

“It’s a large district partly because it has Dobbins Air Reserve Base,” she said. “The joint use runway is going to bolster and strengthen that base, so it is important to keep it roust, vibrant and vital.”

“I spent time getting to know the Marietta part of the district,

Anulewicz said she will work to keep in touch with all of her constituents.

“My goal is to be assessable; my cellphone number is the same. Please reach out to me,” she said.

She has scheduled two listening sessions; on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. at The Smyrna Library, and another at Yell’s on Franklin Gateway Jan. 18 at 6 p.m.

From the January 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Dogwood Golf Celebrates 50th Year

Dogwood Golf Club in South Cobb recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Members and guests gathered Nov. 20 to note the 50th anniversary of the Club. The event included a buffet dinner and throwback pricing to 1967.

A brief history of the Club was given by Andy Schival, General Manager, who recognizing the Course Superintendent, Tony Poole, whose grandfather established the Club in 1967.

Dogwood Golf and Country Club opened in the summer of 1967 on part of the 1,000 acre dairy farm owned by Claude “Mack” Henderson. Although Mr. Henderson himself was not a golfer, his son-in-law, Doyle King, convinced him his property was perfect for a golf course. With the help of two Cobb County amateur golfers, John Causey and Bud Laurent, King built the course for about $200,000.

“Like many other avid golfers, I had always longed for a golf course that was challenging, close to home, uncrowded and with a price tag that isn’t prohibitive to the average businessman,” King said.

The earliest members of Dogwood were surgeons, lawyers, as well as tradesmen and many others. Through the years Dogwood has hosted many dignitaries such as President Jimmy Carter, several Governors as well as the home course to the late Dr. Richard Hammonds of Austell.

Dogwood has always held true to be a course of the people and one that is affordable and fun for the everyday golfer. Today, Dogwood is a beautiful; tree lined 18 hole, 6500+ yard Par 72 course that is open to the public Monday – Friday and private on the weekends.

For more information, contact Andy Schival, General Manager, at (678) 296-9410.

From the Janujary 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Jacobson Named Smyrna Citizen Of Year

She is a jewelry professional by day and a philanthropist around the clock. For that reason and many others Rhonda Jacobson was named Smyrna Citizen of the Year.

The award was presented in November by the Smyrna Division of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

“Rhonda does so much good for her community,” said Dan Byers, division chair. He noted that she is active on boards and organizations such as the WellStar Foundation Board of Trustees and co-chair for WellStar Foundation – Women in Philanthropy as well as a member of the advisory council for the WellStar Vinings Health Park where the meeting was held.

In her “day job,” as Buyers put it, she is vice president, human resources and graduate gemologist at Cumberland Diamond Exchange in Smyrna.

She gives her time to the liveSAFE Resources board and is chair-elect/VP, SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center, Cobb Executive Women and Cobb Chairman’s Club.

“As co-owner and founder of Cumberland Diamond Exchange, the businesses involvement in the community and partnerships with non-profits are key differentiators. Their Cufflinks +Charms 4 Charity makes custom designed jewelry for resale and recognition with proceeds benefitting the corresponding charity,” Byers said. In FY2016 the business made $79,593.98 in gifts, merchandise and cash donations.

The family-owned store was founded by Rhonda and Mark Jacobson in 1982. It has been named “Jeweler of the Year” in 2016 and was named Cobb Small Business of the Year in 2015.

According to her nomination, it was said, “Rhonda has the biggest heart and truly cares about others. Jewelry is her business but philanthropy is where her heart is.”

“I am overwhelmed,” Mrs. Jacobson said. “It is all about giving back.”

As a surprise, she was joined by family members, friends and staff of the business who revealed themselves after she was announced as the award winner.

From the December 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Coming Home For Christmas In Smyrna

 

 

Election Runoffs Set Dec. 5

There will be a runoff Dec. 5 in Southern Cobb to fill two posts: the Smyrna Ward 3 council and Georgia Senate District 6. There was a 12 percent voter turnout.

Jaha Howard led the 8-person Senate field with 43 percent of the vote and will face Jen Jordan, who had 22 percent, in the runoff. Both are Democrats.

In Smyrna, Travis Lindley took 32 percent of the vote with Maryline Blackburn in a close second with 29 percent in the five person race.

The city seat was vacated by Terri Anulewicz who ran for Georgia House.

In Austell, Ollie Clemons Jr. was reelected to the Council At Large Post 1 over Melanie Maria Elder by a vote of 70 percent. Marlin Lamar defeated  Ikaika Anderson for Council Ward 1 by just two votes. And in Council Ward 3, Randy Green held on to the seat over Trudy Causey.