Silva Is Smyrna Business Person Of The Year

Charles Silva was named the Smyrna Business Association Business Person of the Year at the September meeting.

Silva, who currently serves as secretary of the group had a long tenure as treasurer.

Presenting the award are, left, Dennis Harding, last year’s recipient and Jabar Dozier, right, president.

A native of St. Louis, Silva grew up in St Louis Missouri and spent most of his career as a banker, working his way up to bank president. After volunteering for the Arthritis Foundation, Silva headed the Arthritis Chapter of Eastern Missouri and came to the Atlanta area as CFO of the National Arthritis Foundation in 1997.

“Today, Charlie continues to use his financial and consulting skills to assist small businesses in the Smyrna area,” Harding said. “We are fortunate that Charlie has brought his experience and talent to serving as a Board member of the Smyrna Business Association.”

He and his wife, Katie, have two grown children.

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

‘Twisted Cyclone’ Roller Coaster Coming To Six Flags In 2018

Six Flags Over Georgia—the Thrill Capital of the South— announced the all-new Twisted Cyclone hybrid roller coaster will arrive in 2018. Twisted Cyclone will offer guests the best of both worlds—a classic wooden structure combined with a modern, steel track for multiple inversions and a smoother, more thrilling riding experience.

“Six Flags was the first in the industry to introduce this hybrid technology and Twisted Cyclone is a shining example of Six Flags innovation at its very best. Year after year, our park keeps delivering unique thrills for all ages and this state-of-the-art hybrid coaster is an absolute game-changer,” said Park President Dale Kaetzel. “Our guests are going to be blown away by the unbelievable features of this coaster.”

Twisted Cyclone highlights include:

  • An insanely steep 75-degree initial drop from nearly 100 feet into a jaw-dropping reverse cobra roll sending riders perpendicular to the ground;
  • Three hair-raising upside down inversions and 10 airtime moments along 2,400 feet of track at speeds of 50 miles per hour;
  • The feeling of weightlessness through a 360-degree zero gravity roll;
  • One-of-a-kind custom coaster trains modeled after a classic 1960’s sports convertible; and
  • A smoother, sleeker, more intense ride than ever before.

Construction on Twisted Cyclone is underway and the ride is expected to debut in the spring of 2018. For more information about next season at Six Flags Over Georgia, visit www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia/newfor2018.

Six Flags Over Georgia is also announcing the start of 2018 Season Pass sales with its special Flash Sale through Labor Day weekend featuring the best deal of the year— savings up to 70% off on a 2018 Pass!

August 31 through Sept. 4, guests will receive a free upgrade to a Gold Combo Season Pass with every Pass purchased. Gold Combo Season Passes include admission to Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water, and any other Six Flags theme park, as well as free parking and special admission offers for friends.

Campbell Is Now Cobb’s Largest High School

Campbell High School opened the school year with some 2,957 students enrolled, making it the largest high school in Cobb County.

“We are bursting at the seams,” said Principal Jeannie Walker. Rooms that had been converted from classrooms to other purposes have been reconfigured as classroom space to accommodate new staff, she said. With some no-shows after the first day’s count, the student population is at 2,800 “but that continues to grow, and will do so again after Labor Day,” a school spokesman said.

Campbell had 2,664 enrolled in March, and by August 1 had increased nearly 10 percent. North Cobb was the largest school in Cobb in March’s count with 2,851.

“We’ve got more bodies crammed into the same space,” she added. The classrooms were built in the 1960s and are not as adaptable as newer construction.

Campbell has added 6.5 new teaching positions for the upcoming year and has 38 new employees.

“The Spartan staff is strong and keeps appositive attitude” she said.

“Campbell High School exceeded the previous year’s performance in all areas on the end of course test last year,” said Walker. Not only did they have the highest SAT, ACT & CCRPI gains for 2016, they achieved a 93 percent IB diploma rate and 92 percent of the seniors enrolled in 2017 graduated on time.” Other notable Campbell accomplishments are listed on page 9 of this issue.

Other changes coming to the school include a new football coach who arrived in the spring and will lead the Spartans on the field this fall. Kyle Adkins comes from Pope High school. His wife April is also a teacher at Campbell.

Parking space will also be an issue this school year as construction of a new gymnasium has removed a parking lot in front of the Nash Gym. It is expected to open in January.

The reduction in parking will be felt during sporting events and open houses and only seniors will be allowed to park on campus.

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

‘Everybody Wants To Live In Smyrna,’ Mayor Says

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon welcomes Jean Brannon, his fifth grade teacher, to the State of the City address in July.

Smyrna is the hottest spot to live in the metro area according to Mayor Max Bacon.

Bacon addressed an overflow crowd at the annual state of the City Address for the Smyrna Business Association and Smyrna Division of the Cobb Chamber in July.

“We’ve always had great people, even the Braves moved out of Atlanta to be next to Smyrna,” he said. “Everybody wants to live in Smyrna. We were strong before the 2008 blip on the economy.”

“We will not raise taxes,” the mayor told the crowd. Smyrna will maintain the millage rate of 8.99 mills for 2017. This rate has been in effect since 2007. Homeowners who maintain a primary residence in Smyrna and have filed for the floating homestead exemption will not see a tax increase on their 2017 property tax bill.

“We are as fiscally sound as any government anywhere,” Bacon said. “We show that in our bond rating.”

Smyrna has a AAA bond rating, one of only six in the state. The city’s $92 million budget is broken down by: public safety, 38 percent; general government, 21 percent; Public works, 18 percent; debt 9 percent; parks and recreation, 8 percent; community development, 3 percent; library, 2 percent and Keep Smyrna Beautiful, 1 percent.

“We have a great police force and fire department,” Bacon said. “We have superior service.”

Early this year Bacon admitted that he had a heart condition. After being referred by his family doctor, Bacon said, “My doctor was wrong, I had not had one heart attack, I had two,” he said.

He had two stents installed and has since recovered.

The health scare has brought up questions of whether Bacon, who has held the mayor’s job since 1985, will run for another term.

“Am I going to run again? Right now I’d say yes, because I’m not going to tell you no,” he said.

“I know that I will finish this term (through 2019) then I’ll make a decision,” he said. “My health’s good for 68.”

“I thank Jack Halpern and Halpern Enterprises for hanging in there with us,” Bacon said. “They donated the land for the Smyrna Elementary School and what we got back was a great investment in or city.”

Bacon noted that the Belmont and Jonquil developments are essentially done, although some storefronts are still being built out. Belmont is a 48-acre mixed-use development with homes, apartments, retail, restaurants and Smyrna Elementary. The Belmont Physicians Center is under construction on Windy Hill and David Weekly homes will build a second phase of houses along Atlanta Road. Jonquil, anchored by Publix, is an 11 acre mixed-use site in downtown Smyrna including apartments and retail and restaurants.

“Concord Road is finally finished,” he said.

The $12 million SPLOST road widening project on Concord Road is complete, he reported. The Downtown Development Authority sold one property to a restaurant and many parcels on the north side of Concord is being developed as a passive linier park.

The next road project is the Windy Hill Road improvement that will begin next year from South Cobb and Atlanta Roads.

“Windy Hill will be an express route,” he said. Four express lanes will move east-west traffic with frontage roads on each side.

“It’s going to be a mess for the next five years,” he said.

“The Reed House will top my list of things I am proud of,” he said. The city purchased the home on Atlanta Road for $18 million and will spend $1.3 million renovating it to use as an event facility.

“This is going to be a great addition once it is finished,” he said.

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

Golf Cart Parade Honors Fourth, Veterans

 

  Presbyterian Village in Austell held its annual golf cart parade to honor the Fourth of July with more than two dozen golf carts decked out in patriotic bunting. Where in previous parades there has been a Grand Marshall seated in the lead car; this year some 14 World War II veterans were honored as Grand Marshalls, riding in individual carts.

Among them was, below left, Navy veteran Bill Smith, a pharmacist’s mate 3rd class, who served aboard the USS Wyoming in WWII.

Hilliard Pouncey, right, an original Tuskegee Airman, rides in the lead car as one of more than a dozen “Grand Marshalls” at the annual golf cart parade at Presbyterian Village in Austell on July 3.

 

 

 

 

Bringing up the rear in a 1915 Model T, below right, are Robert and Bryant Brough of Mableton in vintage uniforms to honor the veterans.

At left, Ike Strueusee, an Infantry Staff Sgt. during the war, fought at the Battle of The Bulge in the Army.

Brenda Humphrey Names Braves Honorary Bat Girl

ATLANTA, GA – MAY 19: Honorary Bat Girl Samantha Timmons poses with Brandon Phillips #4 of the Atlanta Braves before the game against the Washington Nationals at SunTrust Park on May 19, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves won 8-4. (Photo by Logan Riely/Beam Imagination/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Brandon Phillips

Brenda Humphrey of Mableton served as Honorary Bat Girl for the Atlanta Braves at the May 19 game.

The Honorary Bat Girl contest recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and have demonstrated a commitment to battling the disease.

After supporting and caring for her mother and three sisters as they each battled various forms of cancer over the years, Ms. Humphrey was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2014. The single mother of a Marine serving in Japan, she immediately began to educate family members and friends about the disease while going through treatment and recovery. Diagnosed again in March 2016, Ms. Humphrey continues to fight the disease while never letting it break her spirit.

The Braves hosted Ms. Humphrey on May 19 as the Braves played the Nationals at Sun Trust Park for a VIP experience that kicked off with a special lunch with the Braves wives. Following lunch, she watched batting practice from the field and stayed for the game. Ms. Humphrey also took home limited-edition pink MLB merchandise. This year, Atlanta Braves player Brandon Phillips served on the Guest Judging Panel for the Honorary Bat Girl Contest.

During the Honorary Bat Girl contest entry timeline, fans from across the United States and Canada shared how they, or their loved ones, support the cause to raise awareness and find a cure for breast cancer. The winners were selected by a panel of judges, including special guests, who chose the winning submissions based on the following criteria: quality of writing and description of personal connection to breast cancer, demonstration of commitment to the battle against the disease and public appeal (as determined by online fan votes).

The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative celebrated on Mother’s Day. In nine years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted and millions of fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a Major League Baseball initiative supported by MLB charitable partners, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen. This initiative raises awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.

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

Mableton Farmers Market Is Open

The Mableton Farmers Market is off to a running start of its eighth season. The Market, a community project of the Mableton Improvement Coalition, operates every Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., through August 24. Come  to the Mable House Complex at 5239 Floyd Road, Mableton, and shop for fresh and nutritious locally-grown fruits and vegetables, eggs, breads, homemade jams and jellies, organic bars, bites, nuts and more. Visitors will also experience quick and easy food preparation demonstrations sponsored by partner Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

Wholesome Wave Georgia, another of the Market’s partner organizations, is again on board this season to double the value of SNAP EBT transactions. Believing that every family in Georgia should have access to quality food,  Thursday, July 13, will be the next and last SNAP Assistance visit at the Market this season.  If you or anyone you know has questions about Food Stamp eligibility or issues with an existing account, WWG will have an expert representative to advise inquiring market shoppers about SNAP (food stamp) benefits, complete online applications and/or investigate problems with existing accounts. Consultations are completely confidential.

Stop by the Mableton Farmers Market.

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

Russell Students Perform Successful ‘Space Shuttle’ Mission

Wearing orange full pressure “pumpkin suits,” the astronauts turned and waved one last time before boarding the space shuttle. Cameras snapped; parents waved, and with that they were locked in their home for the next 27 hours. Meanwhile, mission control began to work through the calculations and systematic steps to send a shuttle into space. The clock in the room ticked down to launch time. A television monitor featured a split-screen of the astronauts, now wearing helmets, as they prepared to embark on an out-of-this world lesson.

The student astronauts and their teammates in mission control were part of the 19th mission to space for the Russell Elementary School Space Program, which first launched in 1998.

The unique space program sends student astronauts on a simulated space mission inside a replica NASA shuttle. The space mission includes a launch, landing, payload deployment, spacewalk, onboard experiments and around-the-clock monitoring of onboard systems from the school’s mock mission control center.

Students in the space program start in August to prepare for launch day.

“They learn about orbital dynamics,” said Chris Laster, Space Team teacher coordinator and founder. “They learn how to work together as a team. They learn how to track telemetry, which is data that is sent down by radio from our space shuttle simulator. They learn how to monitor that for trends to detect problems and malfunctions and how to take measures to solve those problems.”

That’s not all the students learn. Grueling, that’s how Laster described the material the students learn over the course of the eight months leading up to the space launch.

“All the kids learn how to read acronyms from NASA. They have to learn how to read flight plans and time stamps,” explained Tracey Steiner, a Russell science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lab teacher.

The students tackle the grueling material after school hours. Some of the students spend four days a week for several hours each day preparing for their space mission. The teaching staff help the students develop the math and science skills to understand the different systems aboard the space shuttle and the complexities of the spaceflight operations.

“We learned a lot about technology like radios and computers,” said fifth grader Samantha, one of the student astronauts. “Before I joined the program, I used to call it a space shuttle or a rocket. Now, I know the full term for everything.”

Some of what Samantha learned shocked her, for example, reading about the lack of privacy and bathrooms in space.

Samantha was motivated to join the space team by the stories her brother shared about the program when he came home every day. He was a member of the space team a few years prior.

Samantha’s fifth grade classmate Joy also made the space team a family tradition. Joy’s two sisters are both veterans of the Russell Space Program. Her sister, Princess, was there for Joy’s launch day as commander of the STS-19 team.

“The fact that she was able to buckle down and do all that work and reach the point where she is actually commanding the [space team] is wild,” Princess said.

The older sister has regaled stories of her time in the space program with her new college friends, who she said are shocked that her elementary school has such an elaborate space program.

“I loved the program, and I love how it is growing,” Princess added. “Mission control looks a lot more realistic.

Princess, who is studying biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia, credits the space program for impacting her interest in science.

Joy and Princess’s dad credits the space program for helping his daughters excel in school.

“[The space program] teaches them how to be leaders,” their father Muhammed Dikko explained. “It teaches them how to stay on task when they are given assignments. It teaches them to take life, in general, seriously. We have seen the changes in [Joy’s] life. We have seen it in our other daughters. I’ve never had to tell them to go do their homework as a result of this [program] because they look forward to it.”

The proud father studied the material with his daughters, but has a confession about wanting to actually join the space team himself.

“It is a lot of hard work,” he said. “I couldn’t do it.”

Students in the space program have gone on to be chemical engineers, high-ranking service members and business owners. According to Laster, one space program veteran and graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology will soon be writing orbital trajectories and trajectories for space probes. This student, too, credits the space program for propelling him on his career track.

Steiner, who has flown on 10 space flights with students, has a theory about why the space program encourages student success.

“The kids learn that there is a final goal,” Steiner explained. “They work hard and dedicate themselves to making something happen. We either fail together or succeed together, and when they learn they can succeed together, even if it may be the hardest thing they have ever done, they will be up for the challenges of life.”

The students who join the space team undergo a rigorous application process including physical fitness tests. The student astronauts earn the top fitness scores.

“To be selected for space team, you have to write an essay on why you want to join, how you think you can benefit and what skills that you can bring to the team,” astronaut Samantha added. “You basically have to prove that you are good enough to be on the team.”

Although the students must have high grades to join the team, Laster sometimes sees something in a student that others may not. He said that after some students join the program, they start to thrive and do things that they didn’t even know were possible.

Fifth grader Edith, who served as the STS-19 capsule communicator in mission control, said the space program helped her develop better study habits. Her favorite part was making friends and learning how to work more as a team

Princess still keeps up with the friends she made on STS-10 mission.

Astronaut Kelsie, 5th grade, signed up for the STS-19 mission because she knew it would be a great teamwork experience and “It looked fun.”

The students cite varying reasons on why they want to enlist in the space program, but their teacher only has one.

“I’m here for the kids,” said Laster.

He launched the space program after taking Russell students on a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. A student asked why Russell Elementary couldn’t have a space program like the one in Huntsville. That question started the countdown to the school’s first space mission.

The program started off in the classroom and moved into the separate simulator set up in a trailer outside of the school, which is painted to look like a NASA space shuttle.

Steiner, who hung up her pumpkin suit for the last time after the STS-19 mission, described the space program as the heart and soul of Russell Elementary.

After STS-19 landed on May 9, the astronauts and mission control reunited and celebrated with a parade through the school.

There is a lot of emotion that takes place with the students, parents and teachers on landing day, according to the dad of three veteran space team members.

“There are a lot of tissue boxes being used. Even people who think they never cry, they always end up in tears,” Dikko said.

There was a lot to celebrate this year. About three minutes prior the shuttle landing, a power surge knocked out power in mission control and the simulator. The school staff does sometimes inject malfunctions so the students can use their skills to overcome challenges. This was not a drill.

“[The students] actually trained for that sort of thing,” Laster explained. “What we had not anticipated was that power was also knocked out in the simulator. So that really sent us into a scramble. It also messed up some of the tracking systems the students were using. So they basically had to go it blind at that point. They handled it very well.”

After all the excitement of the landing, the STS-19 team had a lot to discuss during the school press conference. The entire school gathered in the cafeteria to listen to the team answer questions about their mission.

“I hope the space program gets adopted in other schools nationwide because it teaches them a lot of leadership skills,” said Joy and Princess’s father Dikko. “It helps prepare them for the future and life and general. It teaches them how to relate to each other. It goes way above and beyond their everyday school work.”

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

Linda Keeney Retires After Decade At King Springs

After a decade at King Springs Elementary, and 30 years in Cobb Schools, Linda Keeney has retired as principal.

Her daughter, Amanda Laine Chalk, in a Facebook post, described the scene on her final day and the last day of school. “In true Linda Keeney fashion, she led the buses out and waved goodbye to all of her ‘kids.’”

“She loves this school and the community and what a difference she has made.”

During her tenure as principal King Springs was named a Georgia School of Excellence in 2013; was a Platinum School for Student Achievement during her second year as principal and was twice named a PTA national school of excellence for parent involvement.

“We have rally added a lot a of parent involvement,” she said. “We have a strong PTA and a strong school council.”

Before becoming principal, she worked at Griffin Middle School and Blackwell Elementary.

“I love kids,” she said. “A principalship is a calling. It’s hard to retire because I can’t get beyond having the kids come in in the morning and grabbing me around the legs and saying I love you.“

During the past decade the school has grown from 625 students to some 950 presently. It serves a diverse area with a student population of 43 percent Caucasian, 38 percent African-American and 11 percent Hispanic.

“We ae a true melting pot,” Mrs. Keeney said. “We have parents of all ethnicities involved in the school. We are getting more and more kids. Parents want to get their kids in the King Springs area. Realtors tell me they can’t get enough homes to sell in this district.”

She received praise from the school community and the public.

“She has had a great deal to do with the revitalization of King Springs Elementary,” said Susan Thayer, Cobb Board of Education member from Smyrna. “She put her heart and soul into that community and that school and made it what it is today. She has been a wonderful part of our community and a great principal.”

“Congratulations to retiring King Springs Elementary School Principal, Linda Keeney. Thousands of young lives were enriched through her dedication to excellence and leadership,” said Jeff Jones, chair of the Smyrna Arts and Cultural Council.

What will she be doing in retirement?

“Visiting my grandchildren, there’s a new one due July 26,” she said. “And doing some traveling.”

She plans to take her grandson, who is turning 16 this summer, to Washington D.C.

“I will miss the kids and the teachers most,” she said. “And least, the getting up at the crack of dawn.”

I telling the school about her retirement, she used a quote from Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

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

Sweetwater Mission Seeks Aid For Summer Lunches

During the summer break many children from low-income families in Cobb and Douglas Counties won’t have access to meals provided at school. Sweetwater Mission believes there is nothing more important than helping parents provide healthy meals for their children.

During June and July Sweetwater Mission will provide an additional 80,000 pounds of food by offering additional groceries to families with children. The focus will be nutritious foods like fresh bananas, apples, carrots, potatoes; fresh and frozen meats; 100 percent fruit juice; and kids’ favorites like applesauce, mac and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly.

Sweetwater Mission needs your help. Together, we can ensure that more than 3,500 children eat healthy, play hard and are ready for school at the end of summer break. Donations can be mailed to Sweetwater Mission — Summer Food, P. O. Box 802, Austell, GA 30168 or online at www.SweetwaterMission.org.

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