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.

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.

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.

 

Frying A Turkey; Recycle Your Oil

The City of Smyrna wants your used cooking oil. The used oil will be made into biodiesel fuel for the City’s vehicles, and recycling is so easy for you.

Smyrna residents may recycle the used oil by putting it in a plastic milk jug with a screw top and leaving the jug at the curb on their recycling day. Free containers are also available from any of the drop-off locations listed below. Non-residents and residents may bring filled containers to the Smyrna Recycling Center at 3475 Lake Drive, the Smyrna Public Works Department at 2190 Atlanta Road, or the Smyrna Fire Stations on Atlanta Road, South Cobb Drive, Concord Road or Park Drive.

Biodiesel fuel burns much cleaner than petro diesel, which keeps the air in our community cleaner.  It also helps to clean the engines, saves the City money in fuel costs and helps us to be less dependent on foreign oil. Please, never pour oil down the drain. This will cause clogging in your pipes and cost you expensive repairs.

Additional information can be found at the City’s website, www.smyrnacity.com or by calling Smyrna Public Works Department at 770-431-2850 or Keep Smyrna Beautiful at 770-431-2863.

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

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.