06 March 2015

Atlanta's Olde Blind Dog Wins International Irish Pub of the Year Award

Metro Atlanta is home to quite a few Irish pubs.

But only one can say they are the #1 Irish pub in the world.

With two locations in Milton and Brookhaven, the authentic Olde Blind Dog Irish pub was chosen Irish Pub of the Year by the Irish Pubs Global Federation. The award was announced 27 February at the Irish Pubs Global Gathering 2015 in Dublin.

(The Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub was awarded "Irish Pub of the Year" by the 6,500-member Irish Pubs Global Federation. Image courtesy Olde Blind Dog.)
"We are absolutely thrilled to receive this coveted award and recognition by our peers and experts in the industry as the 'top dog' of all Irish pubs," said Ron Wallace, owner of Olde Blind Dog.

The Irish Pubs Global Federation is based in Dublin and has 6,500 members worldwide. Criteria for selection included: authenticity, ambience, effective use of social media, market position, online customer ratings and warmth of staff.

"When we opened the first Olde Blind Dog pub in Milton in 2009, authenticity was one of our top goals," explained Wallace. "We wanted to create an environment that was warm, friendly and authentic to the Irish pub experience. When you walk in the door of either of our locations, the atmosphere feels like it's been there for many years. We accomplished this by importing from Europe many of the elements used in the design of the pub.

"Our exceptional staff and high food quality further complements the overall authentic Irish pub experience," said Wallace.

This is the first year that an American pub has won the award. Last year's winner was Killian's Irish Pub in Munich, Germany.

"This award is yet another achievement for this outstanding pub, its staff, management and owner," said Enda O'Coineen, Founder and Honorary President of Irish Pubs Global Federation. "A pub can have beautiful furniture, great service and wonderful food, but to be Irish Pub of the Year, it must also have a soul, that spark that sets it apart. That only comes through the warm and friendly atmosphere that we in Ireland call "craic". That is the essence of Olde Blind Dog."

Olde Blind Dog was named after Wallace's dog, Peaches, an American bulldog, who was in fact blind in one eye.

Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub is located in Milton at 12650 Crabapple Road, Milton, GA 30004 and in Town Brookhaven at 705 Town Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30319.

05 March 2015

CounterPoint Announces 2015 Daily Lineup & Sale of Single-Day Tickets

(CounterPoint released its daily schedule for the Memorial Day weekend music festival held in Rome, Georgia. Tickets are on sale now.)
CounterPoint Music and Arts Festival is pleased to announce that single-day tickets are now available, and the 2015 daily lineup for the Memorial Day weekend event (22 May - 24 May) has been revealed.

Single-day tickets are on-sale for $95 for Saturday and Sunday, and $65 for Friday's opening night performances. Single-day VIP Passes are $150 for Friday, and $200 per day for Saturday and Sunday. General Admission 3-Day Passes along with camping, parking and shuttle options are available at www.counterpointfestival.com. CounterPoint offers a payment plan for all ticket types, including VIP and Platinum Passes.

The lineup for the highly popular silent disco will be announced soon.

04 March 2015

Fulton County Puts Temporary Hold on People-Powered Petition to Join the City of College Park

For the second time in the past three months, Fulton County Commissioners put a temporary hold on a petition submitted to them by the people.

Fulton County Commissioners unanimously objected to a people-powered petition requesting the City of College Park annex approximately 274.985 acres of privately held land into the city limits (shown below). The objection took place at the Commission's 4 March 2015 meeting.

Proposed College Park Annexation Map by Andre Walker

Annexation is a three-step process that starts with the people; property owners petitioning a nearby municipality to join their city. The city then schedules public hearings on the proposed annexation, before seeking approval from the county. The county must then object or approve the proposed annexation, before the city can finalize it.

Fulton County's objection to the College Park annexation does not stop it, however. The proposal now goes before a five-member arbitration panel to determine if Fulton County's objection is valid, and to mediate any differences between the county and College Park.

According to the Arbitration Handbook published by the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and the Georgia Municipal Association, the arbitration panel "is not authorized to approve or deny any particular annexation proposal, but may or may not choose to attach zoning, land use or density conditions to the property in question for one year."

Commissioners End Another Bill Edwards' Era Dispute Between North & South Fulton

William "Bill" Edwards was a polarizing figure on the Fulton County Commission.

He was often at the center of the north-south divide in Fulton County; angering some by referring to north Fulton as "podunk" [Edwards (7 March 2013). Attorney says commissioners unwittingly broke open meetings law. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 4 March 2015.].

For years, Bill Edwards obstructed the sale of Providence Park to the City of Milton.

Providence Park is a 42-acre facility, currently owned by Fulton County, but located wholly within Milton. Providence Park has been closed since 2004.

The City of Milton wanted to purchase Providence Park for $100 an acre, for a total price of $4,200 acres. Former Commissioner Edwards wanted to declare Providence Park surplus property and sold at the fair market value, which some estimated to be more than $6.2 million.

Fulton County Commission Vice Chair Liz Hausmann told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2011, "Unfortunately, [Edwards] seems to be out to get north Fulton. For the commissioner, at the 11th hour, to try to change the status of the land, to try to take something away from a north Fulton city, is shameful.”

Edwards, a Democrat, was defeated in the 2014 party primary, bringing an end to his fourteen years on the Fulton County Commission.

With Edwards no longer dividing the county, the Fulton County Commission is now moving to end long-standing disputes initiated by him during his time in office.

Commissioners began the post-Bill Edwards' era by withdrawing an objection to Chattahoochee Hills annexing 4,920 acres of land into the city.

And, at its 4 March 2015 meeting, the Fulton County Commission authorized the sale of Providence Park for $100 an acre.

The vote on the park's sale to the City of Milton was 5 - 1 supporting the land deal.

5 Upscale Condos at The St. Regis Atlanta Sell for Over $3 Million . . . Each

In the past sixty days, condo sales at the upscale St. Regis Atlanta have been on fire.

Between 1 December 2014 and 31 January 2015, The Residences at The St. Regis Atlanta sold five units for $3 million or more each, totaling $16,507,130, demanding the highest price per square foot in the city. According to the owner, Tavistock Group, the trend of sales to current owners looking to expand within the building helped boost sales figures heading into 2015.

“The Residences at The St. Regis Atlanta achieved tremendous success in 2014 with nearly $18 million in sales, and the activity in early 2015 signals another strong year,” said Douglas McMahon, senior managing director of Tavistock Group. “With just over ten residences left, we have limited inventory – this product offering clearly matches the needs of the affluent market in Atlanta.”

(The ritzy St Regis Hotel and Residences is home to some of Atlanta's most expensive condos.)
Located at 88 West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, the St. Regis Atlanta Hotel & Residences (shown right) is a 26-floor development featuring 151 luxuriously appointed guest rooms and suites, 53 St. Regis Residences, more than 16,000 square feet of contemporary meeting and event space, two exclusive bars, world-class culinary options, a state-of-the-art fitness facility that overlooks an exquisite 40,000-square-foot Pool Piazza and poolside Bar, and a 7,800-square-foot Rem├Ęde Spa.

Chattahoochee Hills Annexes Tomorrowworld Property, Approves Permit for Festival Until 2025

On a foggy March evening, the Chattahoochee Hills City Council unanimously approved an annexation petition powered by the people.

(At its 3 March 2015 meeting, the Chattahoochee Hills City Council unanimously approved the annexation of approximately 4,920 acres [shown above] into the City of Chattahoochee Hills.)
Effective 1 April 2015, 4,920 acres of land (shown right) will be part of Chattahoochee Hills.

The City Council chamber, which seats about eighty people, was nearly full of citizens who worked tirelessly to take their property into the city of their choice.

After the vote, the new Chattahoochee Hills residents stood up and applauded as Mayor Tom Reed welcomed them into the city.

"We are doing the right thing," Reed said. "These are people who wanted to be in Chattahoochee Hills from the beginning."

The immediate effect of this annexation is that, for the first time, the massive Tomorrowworld festival will held inside the Chattahoochee Hills city limits.

Tomorrowworld, which attracts thousands of electronic dance music fans for three days in September, was billed as a Chattahoochee Hills event, despite actually being held just outside the city limits.

For the 2015 edition of Tomorrowworld, the words and reality will finally match.

Meetings between Tomorrowworld organizers and Chattahoochee Hills officials are already taking place, with Chattahoochee Hills reviewing its special events permit process to make sure all the legal hurdles are cleared before the first revelers arrive at Tomorrowworld, 24 September 2015.

In addition to annexing the Tomorrowworld property, the Chattahoochee Hills City Council also unanimously approved a land use permit allowing for the event to be held until 2025. Carl Bouckaert, the owner of the land where Tomorrowworld is held, asked the City Council to approve his land use permit as a part of the annexation petition.

03 March 2015

Series of Mistakes Leads to Introduction of 5 Different City of South Fulton Bills

Cityhood advocates in unincorporated south Fulton County frequently say, "The vote is coming."

The vote refers to a referendum on creating a new city, called South Fulton. But a mad rush, by state legislators, to authorize the cityhood vote resulted in a series of mistakes and five different city of South Fulton bills being introduced in the Georgia General Assembly.

The vote may be coming, but citizens may find themselves confused about what exactly is on the ballot.

In December, 2014, state Representative Roger Bruce (D - Atlanta) pre-filed House Bill 27. This bill authorized a March, 2015 referendum on the city of South Fulton, and increased from $65,000 the mayor's salary to $70,000 annually.

Several weeks later, Rep. Bruce introduced another version of the city of South Fulton bill; House Bill 165. Calling House Bill 27 a mistake, Bruce said House Bill 165 moved the cityhood referendum from the third Tuesday in March, 2015 to the November General Election. House Bill 165 also gave citizens ninety days from the date of the November election to complete any annexations into an existing city.

State Senator Donzella James (D - Atlanta) took a verbatim copy of House Bill 165, and introduced it into the Georgia Senate as Senate Bill 140.

A third mistake has now caused two more South Fulton cityhood bills to be introduced, bringing the total pieces of legislation on this one issue to five.

In an email to constituents, Rep. Roger Bruce writes, "There was a fatal mistake made during the advertising of [House Bill 165] that is required before the bill could be dropped.

"We are required to publish an ad in the official county legal organ announcing that the Bill is going to be introduced. During that process, the word 'Fulton' was mistakenly turned into 'Hilton'. If this Bill had gone through the entire process and was later discovered to have this error, it would have given legal support to challenge the establishment of the proposed city," Bruce continued.

The two new city of South Fulton bills are House Bill 514 and Senate Bill 189.

Comcast Expanding Fiber Optic Network, Bringing Faster Internet Speeds to Chattahoochee Hills

The City of Chattahoochee Hills is a small, rural community. But their residents increasingly need higher bandwidth and faster internet speeds in an era where connecting to the world wide web is critical to the conduct of business.

At the 3 March 2015 Chattahoochee Hills City Council meeting, IT Director Harlan Hamlin announced the municipality's bandwidth would be increasing to over fifty times the current rate.

Comcast, according to Hamlin, is expanding its fiber optic network to the City of Chattahoochee Hills.

Currently, Chattahoochee Hills has a maximum bandwidth of 1 mbps. Once Comcast completes its network upgrades, Chattahoochee Hills will have a maximum bandwidth 50 mbps.

The fiber optic network expansion by Comcast is expected to be completed within the next sixty to ninety days.

Verizon Wireless Spent More Than $227 Million Enhancing its Georgia Network in 2014

Georgians in 2015 will experience faster, more reliable wireless calling, data streaming and Web surfing on the Verizon Wireless network thanks to heavy investments the company made in 2014.

Over the course of the past year, the company invested more than $227 million in network enhancements across Georgia. Its total network investment in the state now totals more than $2.5 billion since the company was formed in 2000.

(Verizon Wireless continued investing in its Georgia network, putting more than $227 million into 2014 enhancements. Image courtesy Verizon Wireless.)
"We have a relentless focus on providing our customers with the most reliable network possible," said Jonathan LeCompte.

LeCompte is the Verizon Wireless president for the Georgia/Alabama region.

"The significant investments we made across Georgia in 2014 are evidence of that unwavering commitment. No matter what is happening, Georgians expect our network to deliver. These devices have become a part of our lifestyles, and there is no question our network technologies are revolutionizing the way people communicate and execute their daily lives."

2014 upgrades to the company's network included more than 145 new cell sites and the rollout of the company's XLTE technology into multiple Georgia markets, including Atlanta, Athens, Augusta Albany, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Rome, Valdosta and Waycross.

In the capital city of Atlanta, 2014 network enhancements included XLTE network technology for the AmericasMart® Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), installed the previous year, to deliver improved wireless coverage on every floor and exhibit hall across the three-building campus. '

Verizon Wireless also activated new DAS technology to serve the Marriott Marquis, Westin Downtown and Grady Hospital downtown, as well as 22 new small cells at Centennial Olympic Park, and executed a XLTE upgrade within the Georgia Dome. The company also completed a significant DAS upgrade and activated XLTE at the University of Georgia's Sanford Stadium in Athens. These investments support large crowds and ensure that both residents and visitors get the best experiences from their wireless devices on Verizon's network.

Roswell Republican to Hold Hearing on Proposed City of South Fulton This Week

State Senator John Albers, a Roswell Republican who supports resurrecting Milton County from the ashes of Fulton County, has scheduled a hearing on Senate Bill 140.

Senate Bill 140 is legislation that would create the city of South Fulton out of the remaining unincorporated areas in Fulton County. Albers is a sponsor of the South Fulton cityhood legislation, and also chairman of the committee that will hear the bill.

A public meeting notice was published, 2 March 2015, announcing that the Senate Committee on State and Local Governmental Operations has Senate Bill 140 on its Wednesday, 4 March 2015 agenda. The committee meeting is scheduled to start at 4PM.

The city of South Fulton bill is a controversial piece of legislation that proponents say allows citizens local control over local issues. Detractors of the bill say the city of South Fulton is another Republican attempt to strip down Fulton County so that no one will complain when legislation is introduced to split Georgia's largest county.

Distinguished Georgia Tech Alumni George P. Burdell to be Honored by Georgia State Senate

George P. Burdell is quite possibly the most famous and most accomplished graduate in the long hallowed history of Georgia Tech.

Since enrolling in the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1927, Mr. Burdell enrolled in every class offered by Georgia Tech, en route to a record-setting eight degrees. George Burdell also flew combat missions in World War II; and has demonstrated a strong loyalty to country by serving in every military action that put American troops in harm's way, far away.

In 2001, George P. Burdell was a leading vote-getter in the balloting for Time magazine's Man of the Year award.

And now, the Georgia State Senate is honoring George P. Burdell for his "exceptional accomplishments and achievements in the Georgia Institute of Technology community, nationwide, and around the world."

Senate Resolution 401, sponsored by Senator Charlie Bethel (R - Dalton) is a fitting tribute for such a classy person like Mr. Burdell.

The resolution honoring Burdell was authored by a University of Georgia graduate, showing that Clean, Old Fashioned Hate can be put aside when it comes to commending a man all Georgians can be proud of.

28 February 2015

Irish Prime Minister to Lead St. Patrick's Parade During Atlanta Visit in March

Georgia Unfiltered has learned that a foreign head of government will visit Atlanta in March.

Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach or Prime Minister of Ireland, is scheduled to be in the Peach State for meetings with Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Mr. Kenny will also deliver remarks to the Irish Chamber of Atlanta.

(Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach or Prime Minister of Ireland, is scheduled to visit Atlanta in March for meetings with Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Kenny will also serve as Grand Marshal for the 133rd St. Patrick's Parade.)
"The fact that the Taoiseach is visiting Atlanta at the busiest time of the year for the Irish Government shows the priority and value the Government attaches to our transatlantic relationship,” said Paul Gleeson, the Consul General of Ireland in Atlanta.

As part of his visit to Atlanta, Enda Kenny will serve as Grand Marshal for the 133rd annual Atlanta St. Patrick's Parade.

"The Irish Prime Minister is the most popular man in the world on St Patrick’s Day. Out of the tens of thousands of St Patrick’s Day Parades around the world, we’re absolutely delighted, and extremely honored, that Enda Kenny has chosen to come to Atlanta to be Grand Marshal of the 133rd St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” said Dave Fitzgerald, chairman of the Atlanta parade.

The parade steps off at noon, 14 March 2015, in midtown Atlanta.

Mr. Kenny, the leader of the Fine Gael political party, has been the Taoiseach of Ireland since 2011.