30 January 2015

Chick-fil-A Giving Away Free Cups of Hot & Iced Coffee Throughout February

(Chick-fil-A partners with THRIVE Farmers for free specialty-grade coffee the entire month of February. Image courtesy Chick-fil-A.)
Starting Monday, 2 February 2015 (because the restaurant is closed on Sunday), customers can wake up to free coffee at Chick-fil-A.

For the entire month of February, Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide will give customers free cups of its new specialty-grade THRIVE Farmers™ hot or iced coffee all day long.

This offer includes 12 ounce hot or 16 ounce iced sizes and is available while supplies last. The offer is available anytime during regular restaurant hours and is limited to one cup of coffee per customer, per visit. No additional purchase is necessary and no substitutions are available.

THRIVE Farmers' blend is unique to Chick-fil-A, as it has been roasted with characteristics and flavors that complement the chain's breakfast menu. Both Chick-fil-A's hot and iced coffee are prepared fresh throughout the day. The iced coffee is prepared with an exclusive blend of THRIVE Farmers' cold-brewed, specialty coffee beans and fresh two percent milk, sweetened with pure cane syrup and served over ice.

Georgia Democrat Leader Urges East Point to Take Position on Proposed City of South Fulton

A Georgia Senate leader wants an existing south metro city to take sides in the ongoing debate over creating new municipalities.

State Senator Vincent Fort (D - Atlanta), who serves as Senate Democratic Whip, appeared at a 26 January 2015 East Point City Council meeting and told local officials he does not support creating the proposed city of South Fulton.

(The East Point City Council is considering taking a position on the possible creation of a new city. Image courtesy City of East Point.)
Now in his ninth term, Fort represents portions of East Point and the would-be city of South Fulton.

After stating his opposition to forming a new city, Fort urged East Point City Council members to take a stance on the South Fulton cityhood issue and consider the impact a new municipal government will have on East Point's budget.

Fort's words did not fall on deaf ears. Later in the meeting, City Council Member Karen Rene asked East Point City Manager Frederick Gardiner to research how the creation of a new city would affect East Point. Rene also asked the City Manager to City Manager to draft a tentative letter to state legislators explaining how the proposed city of South Fulton might impact East Point.

The East Point City Council is expected to review the results of the City Manager's city of South Fulton study at its 9 February 2015 work session.

Residents in unincorporated south Fulton County are considering creating a new municipality called the City of South Fulton. The proposed city, if created, would share a border with East Point.

29 January 2015

Atlanta Movie Tours Sets City on Fire with Circuit of Hunger Games Filming Locations


Which popular movie series was filmed in and around metro Atlanta?

The answer, of course, is The Hunger Games series.

Atlanta Movie Tours is preparing to set the city ablaze with their latest offering, Girl On Fire, a new guided tour based on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1. Fans of the Atlanta-filmed blockbuster movies can feel the heat beginning Sunday, 8 February 2015.

(Girl on Fire by Atlanta Movie Tours takes Hunger Games fans on a jaunt through the filming locations of the popular series. Image courtesy Atlanta Movie Tours.)
Climb aboard and find yourself racing through the world of Katniss, Peeta, Gale and President Snow. Imaginations will be ignited as guests visit many of the filming locations used by Jennifer Lawrence and company. Wind your way through the halls of President Snow’s mansion, District 12 and the Capitol of Panem, among many other exciting sights.

“The Atlanta History Center is excited to partner with Atlanta Movie Tours for their newest product, The Girl On Fire Tour,” said Sheffield Hale, president and CEO, Atlanta History Center. “We know fans won’t want to miss the largest Hunger Games tour in Atlanta. We are looking forward to hosting them at the Capitol!”

Atlanta Movie Tours believes that a tour is only as good as its guides, which is why they are committed to providing tour-goers with the absolute best. Every guide on staff is an actor or featured extra that has worked on over a hundred movie and television sets combined, including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1. The insider knowledge and behind-the-scenes stories they share during the tours is unparalleled.

Pricing for the tour is $65 for 3 hours, which includes the tour, fun trivia games to test your knowledge, on-board video screens to view each and every tour stop location in action, complimentary bottled water, and a group photo emailed to guests after the tour.

Shannon Mall Almost Completely Demolished, Construction on Atlanta Metro Studios Begins in March

After three months of demolition, all that's left of Shannon Mall in Union City (shown below) is the old Sears auto care center.

Construction on the first eight sound stages at Atlanta Metro Studios of Union City begins in March.

When completed, the sound stages will total 170,500 square feet. In addition, Atlanta Metro Studios will feature 80,000 square feet of office space.

"Atlanta Metro Studios will provide large-scale film and television content creators the additional benefits of a purpose-built studio facility, central location only five minutes from Hartsfield International Airport and less than 20 minutes from Midtown Atlanta, and a marketing and management team with extensive industry knowledge and experience," said Ed Richardson.

Richardson is an executive with 404 Studio Partners. 404 Studio Partners is a team of film and television production professionals that will serve as the exclusive sales, marketing and operations management company for Atlanta Metro Studios of Union City.

"We couldn't be happier to have one of the largest studio facilities in the state call Union City home," said Union City Mayor Vince Williams.

Legislative Annexation of Unincorporated South Fulton County Cannot Occur Without a Referendum

Attend one of the many meetings promoting the proposed city of South Fulton, and you're likely to hear some variation of this:

If we do not create the city of South Fulton, the Georgia General Assembly will force you into an existing city of their choosing.

Cityhood advocate Harold Reid told residents gathered at a March, 2014 Cliftondale Community Club meeting that one of the pro-city organizations, South Fulton United, was formed to "protect ourselves against forced annexation into existing cities" [Lesser, Gayle (2 April 2014). March 2014 Minutes. Cliftondale Community Club. Retrieved on 29 January 2015.].

Fulton County government employee James Reese, a resident of unincorporated south Fulton, wrote on the Cascade Patch website, "My family and I are under the threat of forced annexation vs city hood. No choice vs a choice. I choose CITYHOOD."

Even Fairburn Mayor Mario Avery raised the spectre of forced annexation by the state legislature in his annual State of the City address.

If south Fulton County becomes a city, he said, there will be hit to Fairburn’s collection of local option sales taxes, divided by population among the municipalities.

If it does not, the Legislature may decide to annex unincorporated parts into cities, requiring police and fire services to be provided for more residents.

“That costs money that’s not budgeted,” Avery said.

Cochran, Noreen (28 January 2015). Fairburn mayor touts city’s growth. South Fulton Neighbor. Retrieved on 29 January 2015.

But what does state law have to say about all these rumors of forced annexation should the proposed city of South Fulton not be incorporated?

28 January 2015

Georgia House Committee Adopts New Rule Governing Process of Creating New Cities

The House Committee on Intragovernmental Coordination, chaired by state Rep. Jan Tankersley (R - Brooklet), met 28 January 2015 to adopt its rules for the 2015 legislative session.

One new rule that governs the committee's work centers around the process of creating new cities.

Currently, four possible cities --LaVista Hills, South DeKalb, South Fulton, and Tucker-- are under consideration by the Georgia General Assembly.

Under the new rule adopted by the House Committee on Intragovernmental Coordination, any bill proposing the creation of a new municipality would have to be introduced in an odd-numbered year with an accompanying feasibility study saying the proposed city can stand on its own two feet financially.

This rule is similar to the one adopted by the House Committee on Governmental Affairs, which has considered the creation of new cities in the past.

To date, only the proposed city of South Fulton is the only new cityhood bill to be introduced in the state legislature. State Rep. Roger Bruce (D - Atlanta) pre-filed the legislation on 11 December 2014. City of South Fulton supporters say their proposed municipality is financially viable. However, recent annexations by Union City, along with a pending annexation of 4,920 acres by the City of Chattahoochee Hills, has some questioning if South Fulton remains feasible.

Information posted on the proposed city of Tucker's website says, "The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University is updating the city of Tucker Feasibility Study and members of our team are working continuously with legislators to ensure that the City of Tucker moves forward."

The city of South DeKalb is currently raising funds to pay for its feasibility study. And, according to Decaturish.com, leaders in the city of Lavista Hills movement plan to conduct a feasibility study "after being advised by members of the state legislature that it would be a good idea" [Whisenhun, Dan (20 January 2015). Supporters of proposed city of Tucker updating economic feasibility study. Decaturish. Retrieved on 28 January 2015.].

2 Chainz for Mayor of South Fulton? He Can Run There, But Not in College Park

(Mayor 2 Chainz? It could happen if the Grammy award-nominated rapper decides to run in the proposed City of South Fulton.)
Tauheed Epps, the rap artist who performs under the name 2 Chainz, recently made headlines when he announced an interest in running for College Park mayor [XXL Staff (26 January 2015). 2 Chainz Wants To Run For Mayor Of His Hometown. XXL. Retrieved on 28 January 2015.].

“I’m a musician, not a politician,” the Grammy award-nominated rapper told XXL Magazine in an interview. “I’m supposed to be running for mayor in College Park. I got everybody wishing. I’m really gonna do this little mayor thing in College Park. I’m just trying to make sure I have the right qualifications.”

Georgia Unfiltered researched 2 Chainz voting record (shown below), and found he is not registered to vote in the City of College Park.

2 Chainz is a registered voter in unincorporated south Fulton County.

Residents in that area are considering creating a new municipality called the City of South Fulton. If approved by the Georgia General Assembly and voters in a referendum, citizens in the new city would then elect a mayor, city council president, and seven city council members.

If 2 Chainz wanted to run for mayor in the proposed city of South Fulton, he could. But the earliest 2 Chainz can run for Mayor of College Park is 2019, assuming 2 Chainz establishes residency in the city a year prior.

James Bond Boosts Georgia-Built Kia Sorrento in 60-second Super Bowl XLIX Ad [Watch It Here]

("James Bond" actor Pierce Brosnan boosts the Georgia-built Kia Sorrento in new Super Bowl ad. Image courtesy Kia Motors of America)
Two of the best selling cars manufactured by Kia Motors of America (KMA) are built in Georgia.

The Optima and Sorrento, built at the West Point Kia Motors plant, were responsible for 261,540 (45%) of KMA's total auto sales in 2014.

With the big game just days away, the Georgia-built Sorrento is about to get a big boost from James Bond in a 60-second Super Bowl XLIX advertisement.

Pierce Brosnan, who portrayed Agent 007 in four James Bond films, stars in a new commercial promoting the all-new 2016 Kia Sorento CUV. The ad, which can be seen below, will air during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLIX.

"The Perfect Getaway" Super Bowl ad by Kia Motors of America

In the spot, Brosnan listens to a Hollywood agent pitching a starring role in an upcoming project. As the agent describes various scenes, Brosnan confidently interjects one movie cliché after another, wrongly assuming he and the Sorento will encounter danger at every turn.

27 January 2015

U.S. News & World Report Ranks The Lodge at Sea Island as One of America's Best Hotels

(The Lodge at Sea Island was picked as Georgia's best hotel, and one of the best hotels in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Image courtesy The Lodge at Sea Island.)
Georgia is home to one of the best hotels in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.

In rankings released 27 January 2015, The Lodge at Sea Island claimed a spot among the top five U.S. hotels.

The Lodge at Sea Island is no stranger to accolades — it was named a 2015 Travel + Leisure 500 World's Best Hotel and received the 2015 AAA Five Diamond Award, plus last year it was named U.S. News' No. 1 Best Hotel in the USA. Though it was nudged out of the top spot, this hotel still maintains a high standard of excellence by providing guests with an abundance of amenities and attractive accommodations. The property features three championship golf courses, a massive spa and fitness center, tennis and squash facilities and multiple restaurants. Meanwhile, the Lodge's English country manor-styled rooms are outfitted with hardwood floors, Oriental rugs, marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and 24-hour butler service. Plus, according to recent travelers, simple gestures like employees calling guests by their names make visitors feel truly special at this hotel.

Shields, Erin (27 January 2015). Best Hotels in the USA 2015. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved on 27 January 2015.

The Best Hotels methodology combines a hotel's industry accolades with expert and guest reviews and hotel class ratings. U.S. News scored luxury hotels, identifying the top 10 percent in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean with Gold badges and the top 30 percent within specific markets with Silver badges.

"We're taking the guesswork out of finding a great hotel," said Erin Shields, travel editor for U.S. News. "The Best Hotels of 2015 represent the top properties recognized by experts and travel ers alike for their exemplary service, ample amenities and comfortable accommodations."

The Lodge at Sea Island was also ranked as Georgia's best hotel.

The St. Regis Atlanta, the Ritz-Carlton Lodge in Greensboro, the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, the Cloister at Sea Island, and the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta were all listed as some of the best hotels in the U.S. too.

Win Free VIP Tickets to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Concerts Held in 2015

(Enter now! for a chance to win VIP tickets to shows at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.)
The 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, in Alpharetta, first opened its doors to music fans in 2008. The venue has since hosted an eclectic mix of artists ranging from the Charlie Daniels Band and Alan Jackson to Green Day and Fall Out Boy, making the amphitheatre one of metro Atlanta's hottest places to go.

Promoters at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre are putting together a stellar lineup for the 2015 concert season. ZZ Top, Darius Rucker, and Rush have already been announced for shows in May. More events are expected as spring rolls in, and the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau wants to make sure one lucky fan does not miss a single moment.

The Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau is giving away two VIP seats to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park concerts scheduled April-July 2015. The lucky winner won’t miss a minute of the excitement and will receive VIP parking, seats and access to the Carl Black Club.

Enter to win at www.awesomealpharetta.com through March 2015. Only one entry allowed per person. The winner will be announced during the week of 1 April 2015.

Taxpayers in Atlanta & North Fulton Help Pay for Sidewalk Project in South Fulton

It is no secret that unincorporated south Fulton County is drowning in a sea of red ink.

The recently adopted FY2015 budget for south Fulton shows $45,796,219 in revenues and $49,383,156 in expenses, leaving a deficit of $3,586,937.

Given that sobering reality, it's understandable why south Fulton would need a little help from the entire county to pay for long-overdue public works projects.

At its 21 January 2015 meeting, the Fulton County Commission unanimously approved an additional $300,000 for a sidewalk project on Enon Road. The money came from the general fund, which includes tax dollars collected from all Fulton County taxpayers regardless of where they live.

Enon Road, in south Fulton, stretches from Campbelton Road to Stonewall Tell Road.

26 January 2015

For #MusicMonday, "Insomnia" by Faithless

"Insomnia" by Faithless

Georgia Celebrates National School Choice Week With Over 360 Events Across the State

School Choice Week starts today in Georgia and across America. Throughout the Week, which runs until January 31, there will be 360 school choice events across the Peach State.

“In recent years, Georgia has made significant growth in providing parents with increased access to challenging, motivating and effective schools. Georgia parents have far more options today than they did a decade ago,” said Andrew R. Campanella, president, National School Choice Week

The events are part of National School Choice Week, which will feature 11,082 events across America – the largest celebration of educational opportunity in US history.

School Choice Week events in Georgia include open houses, information sessions, policy roundtable discussions and more – planned by schools, organizations, homeschool groups and individuals. The goal of the events is to inform parents about the K-12 education options available for their children, while raising awareness of the benefits providing families with a variety of different options for their children’s education.

Georgia cities with the most events include Atlanta (98), Alpharetta (31), Roswell (19), Duluth (11), and Marrietta (10). To help raise additional awareness, the mayors of Columbus and Savannah – as well as county leaders in Fulton County – have issued proclamations officially recognizing Jan. 25-31, 2015 as School Choice Week in their localities.

Parents across Georgia have a variety of K-12 education options for their children. Families in the Peach State can choose from the following education options for their children: traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online academies, private schools, and homeschooling. The state has also enacted laws making it easier for children to attend traditional public schools outside of their zoned districts, policies known as open enrollment. In addition, the state allows qualifying children, in some cases, to receive scholarships to attend private schools.

Our Opinion: AJC Report Points to Potential Cronyism in Proposed New Cities

Seven new cities --Brookhaven, Chattahoochee Hills, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Milton, Peachtree Corners, and Sandy Springs-- have incorporated in the metro Atlanta area since 2005.

Four new cities --LaVista Hills, South DeKalb, South Fulton, and Tucker-- are proposed in 2015.

The question before residents in each of the four areas listed above is whether to create new government; and cityhood advocates, in each proposed municipality, argue the best reason to incorporate a new city is local community control over local tax dollars.

It all sounds great in theory, but a recent report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points to big problems in the new metro Atlanta cities created since 2005. Most of those problems center around cronyism, possible unethical behavior, and quid pro quo.

. . . forming a city means creating a new bureaucracy, and entrusting another set of personalities with power to spend millions of taxpayer dollars. Newbie politicians may not immediately grasp the ethical strictures that go with public service. Or perhaps they do, but don’t care.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found numerous problems among the growing ranks of metro Atlanta’s new cities, from Johns Creek to Brookhaven, Dunwoody to Sandy Springs. Elected leaders have faced complaints that they steered city business to relatives and campaign donors, accepted gifts and favors barred by ethics codes, spent too freely on salaries or dreamed up mega-dollar development deals that many constituents didn’t want.

Edwards and Schneider (24 January 2015). Cityhood solution comes with pitfalls. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 26 January 2015.

Officials in each of cities featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article denied any wrongdoing. Still, the potential of cronyism is sure to raise fresh concerns among those considering whether to follow the lead of Brookhaven and form a new city.

Should the citizens of LaVista Hills, South DeKalb, South Fulton, and Tucker trade in their old crooks for new crooks?

Only time will tell which decision the people will make.

South Fulton Business Leaders Schedule Summit to Address Growing Crime Wave on Old National Hwy

Since the beginning of 2015, 75 crime incidents occurred on Old National Highway in unincorporated south Fulton County. Assaults, burglaries, and car thefts were among most frequent incidents reported to CrimeReports.com by the Fulton County Police Department.

A 9 January 2015 story aired on WSB-TV spotlighted one of the community's worst areas, saying that, in the past year, 22 violent crimes happened at the Kroger supermarket on Old National Highway [Artz, Liz (9 January 2015). 22 violent crimes reported at south Fulton Kroger. WSB-TV. Retrieved on 26 January 2015.].

Seeing Old National Highway on the news is becoming commonplace among local residents, and helping to build a reputation that Old National is not safe. That sobering reality has business leaders concerned, and ready to take action.

Georgia Unfiltered has learned of a planned community summit to address the crime wave that some are saying is out-of-control. The summit, sponsored by the South Fulton Business Coalition, is scheduled for Tuesday, 11 February at Piccadilly Cafeteria on 2449 Godby Road, Atlanta, Georgia, 30349.

The summit starts at 6:30PM, and the general public is invited to attend.

“South Fulton County is quickly developing a notorious reputation in the metro Atlanta region,” said South Fulton Business Coalition chairman Dominique Huff. “That reputation can be summarized in five simple words: South Fulton is not safe.

“And businesses are not opening up in a community where their customers do not feel safe,” Huff continued.

The South Fulton Business Coalition is an organization that includes 82 business owners, and they hope to save the community’s name before it's irreparably harmed by crooks and thugs who are destroying south Fulton County’s future.

“Our businesses will not be run out of business because of crime,” Huff said defiantly. “The South Fulton Business Coalition remains determined towards its purpose of promoting economic growth in the community so many of us call home.

“Crime in south Fulton is completely unacceptable, and our organization will work tirelessly towards curbing crime’s growth.”