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.

‘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.

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.

Memorial Day Services set

Powder Springs

American Legion Post 294 of Powder Springs will be honoring our deceased veterans at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony to be held Monday, May 29 at Noon at the Powder Springs Veterans Memorial in front of the library at 4181 Atlanta Street.

The program will include the Post’s 9-member Color Guard, commentary, a guest speaker, patriotic music, and the laying of a Memorial wreath, to be followed by Taps. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place inside the George Ford Center community room behind the library.

Our traditional Memorial Day Cookout will begin at 4 p.m. for all Legion family members and guests. The Post will provide the meats, while members are asked to round out the meal by bringing a side dish, salad and/or dessert to share. Donations will be requested in support of the local USO at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

“Please invite your friends and neighbors to join us at noon for this solemn holiday,” said Ra Barr, Commander Post 294.

Smyrna

Marking the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, The city of Smyrna will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, May 29 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

In addition to the ceremony there will be displays of military equipment which including current and vintage military and security vehicles and weaponry, a US Marine Patrol Boat, H3 Hummer and Rock Wall and other attractions.

The Georgia Army National Guard Band, Campbell High School JROTC, and USAF Honor Guard will all be participating in the ceremony.

This year’s featured speakers will be MG (Select) Jesse Simmons, Jr., commander of the Georgia Air National Guard, and CPT Donna Rowe, Vietnam theater US Army Nurse Corps.

Ceremony sponsors include The City of Smyrna, Smyrna Veterans Committee, Veterans Memorial Association of Smyrna, American Legion Post 160, Northwest Speakers, Smyrna Rotary Club, Jonquil City Kiwanis, Chick-fil-A of South Cobb, and JWC Real Estate.

The event will be at the Smyrna Veterans Memorial at 2800 King St. (between Smyrna City Hall and the Smyrna Library). The event and parking are free. The rain location is the Smyrna Community Center.

World War I created the notion of America as a superpower. Not because the United States hadn’t previously wars. It had. Not because we hadn’t beaten European powers before. We had.

What changed was that in this war the United States fought against a major, world class adversary, alongside others of the world’s best armies, held its own and was the primary force for victory.

World War I started in August 1914, as France, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Serbia, the British Empire and others went to war. What was expected to be a quick, decisive war became a long and costly stalemate, where millions died or were wounded.

The United States joined the fight on April 6, 1917. A year passed before the American Expeditionary Forces saw real action. But fight it did: at Seichepry (April 1918), Cantigny (May 1918), Belleau Wood and Chateau Thierry (June and July 1918), St. Mihiel (September 12-15, 1918) and in the large Meuse-Argonne Offensive (September 26 – November 11, 1918) – all in France.

US Air Service (USAS), US Navy (USN) and US Marine Corps (USMC) fought in the skies, while the USN escorted ships and hunted U-boats in the Atlantic. WWI finally ended at 11 a.m.  on November 11, 1918. More than 21 million had died; 11,700 of whom were Americans. Another 21 million from all nations were wounded. Everyone’s life was changed; the world changed.

In all the wars in which America participated, there have been 651,008 battle deaths and about 1.2 million deaths overall. About 42 million of our men and women have served in the military during wartime. About 2 percent (1/50th) of the people serving during a time of war have died.

We are here today for the sole purpose of honoring all who gave their lives in service to America and the defense of freedom.

Police, Fire Set Block Party

A Public Education Block Party will be held May 20 at Cobb Park in Smyrna to bring together first responders and the public for food, fun and music.

Cobb County Police and Smyrna police will be present along with Fire and emergency personnel such as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Austell Community Task Force, Animal Control, the Neighborhood Safety Commission and Safe Kids Cobb County.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cobb Park, 2776 Sanford St., Smyrna.

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

MLB App, Traffic Plan Will Get You To Braves’ Games

Arrive early, buy your parking in advance, use Uber and Waze and have patience as opening day approaches April 14 and a sell-out crowd arrives as SunTrust Park, officials advise.

The third phase of the Cobb County Transportation Management was unveiled just prior to the soft opener preseason game March 30. A portion of the plan calls for uniformed officers to be placed at approximately 30 intersections around the new ballpark to support the flow of traffic to and from the 14 primary points of access to the new stadium and The Battery Atlanta.

The traffic plan includes new technology from Uber, the team’s official ridesharing partner. Also, an updated MLB.com Ballpark app is available, and for offsite parking the Cumberland Circulator is available.

“By working hand in hand with our partners, we have been able to develop a detailed, comprehensive approach to getting to SunTrust Park,” said Mike Plant, president, development for the Braves. “Many elements of this approach are fundamentally different than the fan’s experience at Turner Field. From our partnerships with Uber and Waze to our request that all fans buy their parking in advance, these new tactics deliver a greater suite of choices for our fans. With our exhibition game against the New York Yankees on March 31, it’s important for us to let our fans know how they can access and best utilize these new transportation and parking strategies to provide them with the best experience possible.”

The Braves and their partners – Cobb County Department of Transportation, Cobb County Police Department and Kimley-Horn – are working on a collaborative approach to transportation management. A traffic control center at the stadium is staffed with representatives from each agency and can make adjustments to traffic flow and signage and in real time.

The Braves will offer more than 14,000 parking spaces owned or leased by the organization for game day. This is already 5,000 more spaces than were available at Turner Field, all serving a ballpark that features roughly 8,000 fewer seats. Additionally, Cobb County and the City of Smyrna have issued independent parking permits for several operators in the area, bringing more than 1,200 additional parking spots into play.

Greg Mize, director of digital, urged to use the new MLB app on their phones for getting to, in and around SunTrust Park.

“We have partnered with Waze to get people directly to the park,” he said. Tickets and parking can be linked to the phone app. An artificial intelligence bot on the app can also answer questions about travel, parking and the stadium itself.

Uber is piloting a new technology that makes the pick-up experience faster and more efficient at SunTrust Park.

Riders leaving SunTrust Park will be directed to the Uber Zone, which is located steps from the ballpark along Windy Ridge Parkway, through in-app messaging and physical signage. At the Uber Zone, fans will open their Uber app, set their destination and request a car as usual. Instead of having to navigate to find a specific car and driver, riders will see a personalized PIN code in their app and can simply give it to the next available driver in the Uber Zone.

“Braves fans across metro Atlanta can count on Uber for a reliable ride to and from SunTrust Park,” said Uber Atlanta General Manager Luke Marklin. “As part of our effort to help fans get home as quickly as possible, we are piloting a technology that makes it easier to find your ride when so many people are leaving a game at the same time.”

Braves officials also spoke to the evolution of the game day travel experience at SunTrust Park, one which encourages fans to make a plan in advance of their trip to the ballpark. That plan can be summarized through three key steps, all of which can be achieved through the updated MLB.com Ballpark app:

  • Buy your ticket in advance: The Braves are the first Major League Baseball team to transition completely to a system of paperless tickets. Whether they are eyeing a game a few months down the road or a few hours beforehand, fans will be able to easily use the MLB.com Ballpark app to buy their tickets. They’ll also be able to secure tickets by visiting Braves.com or calling the Braves ticket office at 404-577-9100.
  • Buy your parking in advance: With more than 14,000 spaces dispersed around the ballpark, fans are strongly encouraged to purchase their parking in advance. Doing so will enable them to save money through a discounted advance purchase, as well as receive customized directions directly to their parking lot. The majority of game day lots will require pre-payment, though some will accept credit card payment on site.
  • Trust Waze to get you to the ballpark: An official partner of the Braves, Waze will be receiving real-time information from Cobb County that will better inform fans traveling to the game than other smartphone map apps. Integrated into the MLB.com Ballpark app, Waze will provide detailed directions to individual parking lots to help spread traffic out across a broader area, while also receiving official updates on traffic conditions around the ballpark.

The Cobb County Transportation Management Plan outlines Cobb County’s strategic approach to managing vehicular and pedestrian access to SunTrust Park. Lt. J.D. Lorens of the Cobb County Police Department focused on how the Operations Center will put that plan into action, coordinating multiple agencies and resources to monitor traffic conditions and using real-time data to respond to any situations that might arise.

“All of the key decision-makers will be working in concert, monitoring what the travel conditions are for fans and commuters,” Lorens said. “This enables us to move quickly, using the most up-to-date data to respond to changing conditions in real-time.”

The Cumberland Circulator, a CObbLink bus service, launched three initial routes on March 31 with a fare of $2.50 and drop-off in front of the park. The Circulator will provide high-frequency service along convenient accessible routes in the Cumberland area, helping to reduce congestion, enhance existing transit service, increase mobility and promote economic activity.

For more information, please visit www.Braves.com/Transportation.

E-SPLOST Vote Is For Schools

On March 21 voters will decide the fate of the renewal of the penny Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education for the Cobb and Marietta school systems. A positive SPLOST vote will allow for an expected $797 million in revenue beginning in 2019 spread over five years. SPLOST is a one-cent tax on all consumer goods that must be approved by voters in a referendum. Education SPLOST (Ed-SPLOST) receipts can be used only for school-related capital improvements. The current Ed-SPLOST expires Dec. 31, 2018.

“Some 30 percent of the sales tax will be paid by people who live outside Cobb, who come here to shop and dine,” said Susan Thayer, Smyrna area school board member. “Student population growth is going to be in the South Cobb area,” she said. The school system is expecting nearly a 2,000 student increase at Campbell High School and an additional 1,178 in the Mableton and Austell area. “We’ve got to get seats for these kids. If this does not pass, we will need to go to a bond issue,” she said.

Beginning January 1, 2019, SPLOST benefits to the southern Cobb area include funding for:

  • Construction of new or replacement schools, including Harmony Leland Elementary, King Springs Elementary, and a Smyrna area new middle school to relieve overcrowding at Griffin and Campbell middle schools.
  • Construction of additional classrooms at Campbell High and Pebblebrook High. This includes upgrading the cafeteria and building a new theater at Campbell.
  • Security and technology upgrades at all Cobb County Schools.

The first Ed-SPLOST was approved in 1998 and since that time renewal of SPLOST has provided funding for 28 new schools, 2732 new classrooms, hundreds of maintenance improvements, safety improvements and many more improvements.

For more information go to cobbk12.org/splost/.

SPLOST funds pay for necessary repairs and for construction of new or replacement schools. About 90 percent of the district’s budget goes directly to support the classroom with payment of salaries for teachers, administrators, bus drivers, food service employees, custodians, and other staff. The other 10 percent pays for items such as textbooks and supplies, as well as utilities such as fuel, gas, electricity and water.

State funding and local property taxes do not provide for regular building maintenance or for technology enhancements. Prior to Ed-SPLOST, the district issued bonds that had to be paid back over many years with interest and resulted in a property tax increase.

Through Friday March 17), registered Cobb County voters can go to any advanced voting location. Please note that hours vary by location.

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Feb 27 – March 17, Monday – Friday: Elections Office at the West Park Government Center, 736 Whitlock Ave., Marietta, 30064-4663

9 a.m. – 5 p.m., March 13 – 17, Monday – Friday at the following locations:

  • East Cobb Government Service Center, 4400 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta
  • South Cobb Community Center, 620 Lions Club Drive, Mableton
  • Boots Ward Recreation Center (Lost Mountain Park), 4845 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs
  • NorthStar Church, 3413 Blue Springs Road NW, Kennesaw

Any voter may apply for a vote-by-mail ballot instead of voting in-person. Applications are available at CobbElections.org. For more information call 770-528-2581.

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

Free Shredding Offered

Keep Smyrna Beautiful and Calandra Financial Group, LLC will host a free Document Shredding event March 25 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Aline Wolfe Adult Recreation Center, 884 Church Street, Smyrna. Shredding will be done on site and the paper will be recycled. Papers must be dry. Up to 5 file-size boxes (9” x 12” x 24”) per car will be accepted.

These services are free of charge due to a partnership with Calandra Financial Group, LLC. No commercial trucks or commercial materials will be accepted. This event is for residential paper only. Electronics, cardboard, binders, or plastic will not be accepted.

Call Keep Smyrna Beautiful at 770-431-2863 for more information.

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

Smyrna Business Expo Is April 27

Smyrna area businesses and restaurants will show off their wares at The Smyrna Business Expo on April 27.

Exhibitors will set up in the Smyrna Community Center, 200 Village Green Drive, Smyrna, from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

“This is your chance to meet more than 200 local business owners, generate  business leads, close deals and enjoy great food,” said SBA President Jabar Dozier. “Join us for networking, building business relationships and meeting local entrepreneurs.”

The event is free and open to the public and door prizes will be awarded throughout the evening. All proceeds will support the Smyrna Business Association scholarship fund.

Exhibit tables are now on sale at Smyrnabusiness.org. Food sponsors are also being accepted.

The SBA works to engage, inform and grow businesses in the greater Smyrna community. On the first Thursday of each month the SBA host a luncheon featuring a guest speaker relevant to business improvement, government affairs or community involvement. Social and networking events are held throughout the month. For more information on membership visit smyrnabusiness.org.

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

Smyrna Welcomes New Parks Director

Smyrna’s new Director of Parks and Recreation has a 25-year legacy of working in recreation and even worked summers as a teenager at a camp in South Carolina.

Richard Garland, who turns 50 this month, previously served as executive director of the Rome- Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority. He worked his way up from gym instructor in Rome, to Park superintendent and served nine years as executive director as the city and county merged operations.

“This is my passion,” Garland said. “I’ve been working in public recreation since I was 15.”

At Rome-Floyd, Garland helped write the existing recreation agreement and was heavily involved in multiple SPLOSTs and annual budgets during his tenure. He saw tennis courts added, and transformed an old Marine Corps armory into the new recreation headquarters and assisted with renovations to Barron Stadium.

Garland graduated from Shorter College with a major in recreation management and has a wife, Gail, and two grown children: Bennett, and Rachel.

Garland spent the past two years working with a private company but decided to get back into recreation.

“I’ve been to Smyrna several times and knew it was a great area with a lot going on,” he said. “You’ve got a great foundation here with the Market Village and a good system of parks and recreation in place.”

“You’ve got a City Council that is not satisfied with the status quo,” he said. “I want it to be the best system possible.”

Several new projects will be coming online shortly, he said.

  • New fitness equipment for the Patty Wilson trail at the Aileen Wolfe Recreation Center will be coming in by the spring.
  • The Reed House, a 1910 historic home on Atlanta Road, is getting $1.5 million in renovations. Demolition is underway but the historic appearance will be retained. It will be used as a small event locale similar Brawner Hall. Plans are for it to open by late summer.

What future projects does Garland have in mind? He’s going to let the community decide the future plans.

“Beginning this year we will start some steps to get hold of the pulse of the community,” he said. “It’s important for me to say that is not what I want to see, it’s what the community wants.”

He noted that Smyrna is a unique community. “I hope to help it increase the overall quality of life,” he said.

He asked the public to be patient. “I want your ideas, and your suggestions are welcome. Call or e-mail if there’s a problem and we will address it. My door is always open.” (The phone and email are on the smyrnacity.com site.)

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