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11 February 2016

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Exempt Major Sporting Events from State Sales Taxes

In a bid to secure large-scale sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation to exempt such events from state sales and use taxes.

House Bill 951, sponsored by Blackshear Republican Chad Nimmer, reads:

Code Section 48-8-3 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to exemptions from state sales and use taxes, is amended by deleting "or" at the end of paragraph (95), by deleting the period and adding "; or" at the end of paragraph (96), and by adding a new paragraph to read as follows:
"(97)(A) Sales of admissions to major sporting events in this state.
(B) As used in this paragraph, the term 'major sporting event' means the National Football League championship game; any semifinal game or championship game of a national collegiate tournament; a Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, or National Basketball Association all-star game; or any other major sporting event determined by the commissioner of economic development and the state revenue commissioner to be expected to generate revenue of at least $50 million in the host locality. The revenue projections for purposes of this paragraph shall include, but not be limited to, lodging, meals, vehicle rentals, and admissions to tourist attractions."

House Bill 951 was referred to the Committee on Way and Means, chaired by another of the bill's sponsors -- Jay Powell.

Democrats Stacey Abrams and Calvin Smyre are also listed as co-sponsors of the legislation.

10 February 2016

Principal Photography Begins in Atlanta on Iraq Veteran Drama Starring Amy Schumer and Miles Teller

Principal photography has begun on the DreamWorks Pictures film adaptation of David Finkel’s book, “Thank You For Your Service,” it was announced today by the studio. The film stars Miles Teller (Whiplash), Haley Bennett (The Girl on the Train), Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders), Amy Schumer (Trainwreck), Beulah Koale (The Last Saint), Scott Haze (Child of God), Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), Brad Beyer (42), Omar Dorsey (Selma) and Jayson Warner Smith (The Birth of a Nation).

Oscar® nominated screenwriter Jason Hall (American Sniper) makes his directorial debut on “Thank You For Your Service.” Hall also wrote the screenplay for the story that follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield. Jon Kilik (Foxcatcher, Babel) is producing with Ann Ruark (Love & Mercy) serving as executive producer. \

Filming is taking place in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Thank You For Your Service” was published in 2013 by Sarah Crichton Books and was a follow-up to Finkel’s previous book, “The Good Soldiers,” where he embedded with the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion on the front lines of Baghdad. “Thank You For Your Service” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and named as one of Ten Favorite Books of 2013 by Michiko Kakutani at The New York Times.

Universal Pictures is distributing the film in the U.S. and select international territories while Mister Smith Entertainment is overseeing distribution in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. DreamWorks’ partners, Reliance, will distribute the film in India and Entertainment One (eOne) in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Australia and New Zealand.

Union City Teen Named One of State's Top Volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Damacia Howard, 13, of Union City, was named one of Georgia's top two youth volunteers of 2016 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

(Damacia Howard and Devneet Singh was named Georgia's top two youth volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Image courtesy Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.)
Damacia was nominated by Georgia Cyber Academy in College Park, where she currently attends school.

A seventh-grader, Damacia has collected thousands of books in her community for students in Africa, working with a national charity called Books for Africa. Damacia was looking for a community service project to take on in conjunction with her membership in the National Junior Beta Club and her title of 2015 Miss Georgia Pre-Teen Spokes Model. She researched possible projects with her mother, and upon learning that books are desperately needed in Africa, she knew she’d found her mission.

“Education is important,” she said, “and when help can be given to children in other countries, I feel those of us that can help should.”

Damacia started by packing up books out of her own collection, and then asked friends and family members for help. She spoke to middle school students about her effort, obtained some publicity on a radio program and set up a collection drive at her church. All of the books she collected were turned over to Books for Africa to be shipped overseas. In addition to providing a valuable educational resource to African kids, Damacia’s project has helped emphasize “what a privilege it is to have access to books via libraries, schools, electronic devices and bookstores,” she said. “Knowing that helps me not take books for granted.”

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.

Devneet Singh, 17, of Duluth joins Damacia as Georgia's top two youth volunteers of 2016.

As State Honorees, Devneet and Damacia each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2016.

09 February 2016

Druid Hills Civic Association Announces 2016 Tour of Homes & Gardens, 22 - 24 April

The Druid Hills Civic Association, today, announced the 2016 Druid Hills Tour of Homes & Gardens and Makers Market, 22 - 24 April 2016.

(880 Clifton Road is one of six homes featured in the 2016 Druid Hills Tour of Homes. Image courtesy Druid Hills Civic Association.)
One of the longest running and premiere tour of homes in Atlanta, the 2016 Druid Hills Tour of Homes & Gardens and Makers Market celebrates its 48th year with six homes and one garden that feature the work of master renovators and landscape designers:
  • 393 The Falls Court, Mary Emma and Dan McConaughey
  • 1092 Springdale Road, Melanie and Mac Platt
  • 938 Springdale Road, Joni Winston
  • 940 Springdale Road, Michele & Jimmy Etheredge
  • 1072 Oxford Road, Ann and Stephen Yarbrough
  • 880 Clifton Road, Angela and Brian Orkin
  • 1026 Clifton Road, Lindsey and Dr. Peter Sones
The tour will also feature a series of free events open to the public including:
  • Makers Market on Saturday 10:00AM – 9:00PM Slice & Pint Parking Lot, Emory Village
  • Local Bands on Saturday 5:00 – 9:00PM, Slice & Pint Parking Lot, Emory Village, featuring 688 Band (Ron Huey, Nic Huey, Charles Calhoun and Price Carlton) and Bradley Cole Smith
  • Druid Hills Youth Music Showcase on Friday 5:30 - 7:30PM, Emory Village Plaza, featuring the Red Handed Band – CeCe Yarbrough, Charles Eastman and Nate Marquardt; Rowan Kennerly and Friends; duet by Chase Calhoun and Taylor Liebold; and solos by Charles Eastman.
  • Patch Dash 5K Fun Run/Walk and Tot Trot on Sunday 8:00AM (requires registration and entry fee; proceeds benefit Press On To Cure Childhood Cancer:
  • Fernbank Elementary Open House Saturday and Sunday from 11:00AM - 3:00PM
  • Lullwater Conservation Garden Plant Sale
The tour events take place Friday, 22 April, 1:00 – 5:00PM; Saturday, 23 April, 10:00AM – 5:00PM; and Sunday, 24 April, 10:00AM – 5:00PM.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Groups of six or more are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets may be purchased in advance on the website: Proceeds from the tour and events benefit the Druid Hills neighborhood, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

08 February 2016

Senator Vincent Fort to Participate in Town Hall Meeting on Proposed Creflo Dollar Highway

South Fulton County residents will have an opportunity to voice their concerns about Senate Resolution 805; a bill to re-name a 5-mile stretch of Old National Highway in honor of controversial pastor Creflo Dollar.

Community activist Marcus Coleman, founder of Save Ourselves, is organizing a town hall meeting to discuss the issue.

Scheduled for Thursday, 11 February 2016, the town hall will feature Senator Vincent Fort, who represents the area in the Georgia Senate.

The meeting will be held at New Life Presbyterian Church, located at 6600 Old National Hwy., Atlanta, Georgia 30349.

The town hall starts at 6:30PM

05 February 2016

Shaky Knees Festival Adds Five New Artists to Already Impressive Lineup

Slowdive, Deer Tick, LANY, Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady) and The Japanese House have been added to the stellar lineup for this year's Shaky Knees Festival.

The fourth annual event returns in 2016 with performances from Florence + The Machine, My Morning Jacket, Jane's Addiction (performing Ritual de lo Habitual), At The Drive-In, The 1975, Deftones, The Decemberists, Walk the Moon, and many more. Over 75 bands will perform on 5 stages, 13 - 15 May 2016 at Centennial Olympic Park and International Plaza in downtown Atlanta, Georgia

The lineup by day has been released and Single Day General Admission Tickets ($97) and Single Day VIP tickets ($250) will be on sale starting at 10am ET today. Advanced General Admission 3-Day Tickets ($215) as well as Advanced VIP 3-Day Tickets ($614) are also available. Kids 10 and under are welcome for free with a ticketed adult.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

House Committee Approves City of Stonecrest Bill, Sets Referendum for 24 May 2016

The House Committee on Government Affairs gave final approval legislation that would allow roughly 50,000 residents to vote on creating a new city.

Senate Bill 208 establishes a 24 May 2016 referendum date on creating the proposed city of Stonecrest.

(The proposed City of Stonecrest received final approval from a key committee, setting up a vote before the Georgia House. Image courtesy Stonecrest City Alliance.)
If approved by the voters, a mayor and five city council members would be elected in November 2016.

The Stonecrest city bill now sits in the House Rules Committee, where legislative leaders will schedule the proposal for debate and a vote before the full House.

Post Properties Announces New 438-unit Apartment Complex That Will Rise Above Centennial Olympic Park

Post Properties announced today the development of Post Centennial Park™, a mid-rise luxury apartment community located in Atlanta, Georgia, planned to consist of 438 apartment units with an average unit size of approximately 808 square feet.

The community will be located in Atlanta’s central business district, adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park, and walkable to the MARTA Civic Center and Peachtree Center rail stations, and the Atlanta Streetcar.

(Post Centennial Park™ is a new development by Post Properties, and will feature 438 apartments adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park. Image courtesy Central Atlanta Progress.)

Post Centennial Park™ is walking distance to sporting events, concerts, restaurants, downtown Atlanta attractions, and some of Atlanta’s largest employers. The project is expected to have a total development cost of approximately $96.0 million and is expected to initially produce an estimated stabilized yield on cost of approximately 5.8%, calculated on current market rents and after a 3% management fee, $300 per unit replacement reserve and a 10-year partial property tax abatement.

The community will include a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments, with market rents forecast to average approximately $1,620 per month. Ten percent of the planned units will be designated as workforce housing, with rents forecast to average approximately $1,090 per month.