Reporter’s Notebook: Atlanta Mayor talks crime and COVID 

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School might be back in session, but that doesn’t mean the summer fun has to end! This weekend, the 85th annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival is coming to Piedmont Park. The festivities include a 5K race, booths from over 200 artists and a variety of live performances.

On to other news around the metro area:

During Tuesday’s press conference, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms urged residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (Image taken from the livestream.)

Atlanta Mayor talks crime and COVID 

On Tuesday, Aug. 3, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a press conference about the rising COVID-19 cases and crime rates in the city. 

Bottoms gave updates on recent tragedies, like the murder of Jakari Dillard, a 17-year-old who was shot at the Anderson Park pool. She announced that APD has identified the killer, and there is a warrant out for their arrest. 

Atlanta has also been rocked by an unsolved crime, including the fatal stabbing of Katherine Janness in Piedmont Park. The police have yet to publicly name any suspect, and the city is offering $20,000 for helpful information. 

The reward amount was originally set at $10,000, but PETA doubled the reward, as Janness’ dog, Bowie, had his life taken that night, too.

Bottoms asked reporters to get information directly from APD and to avoid sensationalism.

“I know there have been several rumors that there is a serial killer on the loose in our city. We don’t have any evidence of that. Also, that this was a hate crime. As of now, we don’t have any proof of that as well,” she said. “That’s not to say that things won’t change, but at this point, we don’t have any confirmation of either of those things.”

Bottoms also discussed the city’s COVID-19 five-phase reopening plan. Fulton and DeKalb County are deemed areas of high transmission, according to CDC data.

The City of Atlanta was in phase four of the five-phase plan, but with rising rates of infections and an increase of the Delta variant, Bottoms reports that the city could soon return to phase two.

Phase two calls for folks to stay home besides essential trips, closes non-essential city facilities and implements to-go and curbside pickup for restaurants and businesses.

Click here to watch Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ full press conference on COVID-19 rates and crime in Atlanta.

– Hannah E. Jones

Prior to the extension, almost 20 percent of metro Atlanta renters owed back rent, according to Atlanta Civic Circle. (Credit: Unsplash)

Eviction ban extended for 80% of U.S. counties

The federal eviction moratorium ended on July 31, leaving some 251,700 Georgia renters fearful of eviction

But on Aug. 3, the CDC issued a new eviction moratorium for areas of substantial or high transmission, which applies to most counties in Georgia, according to their data

The eviction ban covers 80% of U.S. counties and 90% of renters, according to CNN, and will last until Oct. 3. Renters behind on rent must file a declaration with the CDC and prove that the pandemic impacted their financial stability to be protected from displacement.

DeKalb County renters are doubly protected from eviction after the County Superior Court Chief Judge Asha Jackson signed an emergency judicial order on July 30, extending the moratorium by 60 days for county residents. 

Some landlords aren’t happy. A group of real estate groups and landlords filed an emergency motion to uphold the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the moratorium couldn’t be extended past July 31. 

Judge Dabney Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia set a deadline for the Justice Department to respond by Friday, Aug. 6, at 9 a.m., and the plaintiffs must respond by 7 p.m., according to CNN.

– Hannah E. Jones

A mother learns how to properly use a child restraint from Scottdale Early Learning. (Credit: SEL)

Scottdale Early Learning wins national award for distance learning program

A DeKalb County early learning program that helps low- and moderate-income families learn to provide care and educational support for infants and children has won a national award for creating a distance-learning program during the coronavirus pandemic.

The award recognizes the non-profit Scottdale Early Learning for devising virtual classrooms to help families keep abreast of community resources and activities, Tyeichia Mason, SEL’s interim president/CEO, said in a statement.

Based in Scottdale, SEL received the Losos Prize for Innovation from the international organization Parents as Teachers program. PAT awards two Losos Prizes a year to PAT blue ribbon affiliates. The award is named for Carolyn Losos, a noted advocate of early childhood learning and founding board member of St. Louis-based PAT.

The PAT program helps adults learn to teach their children, and helps watch for signs of developmental delays and health issues, Mason said in the statement:

  • “Our Certified Parent Educators meet twice a month with over 100 families in the home to coach and mentor each parent as he or she develops safe and healthy attachments with their young children.
  • “They facilitate educational activities and play for the parents and children to enjoy together. During the visits, the PAT professionals educate the parents about early childhood development, and improve parenting practices, including preventing child abuse and neglect.  
  • “The PAT professionals also provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues, and connect the family with community resources, when needed.” 

– David Pendered

The feature documentary titled “Atlanta The City Too Busy to Wait” was featured in the 2020 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. (Credit: Jacob Ross)

Over $21 million in funds to support Atlanta’s Jewish community

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta has committed to investing $21.4 million into programs and resources that serve the Jewish community in the next year. 

The funds will support the Atlanta Jewish community in several areas: inspiring Jewish journeys, making Jewish places, rising up to strengthen our communities and ourselves, moving towards global Jewish peoplehood and creating radically welcoming spaces.

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival North, a mini-version of the annual film festival, receives a portion of these funds. 

The festival will showcase five feature films and six short films. Showings will be offered in-person for the first time since the pandemic at the Aurora Cineplex in Roswell and online on Aug. 28 and 29.

Tickets to the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival North can be found here. 

– Hannah E. Jones

Bricks from the demolished College Street bridge, in Macon, were reused in a nearby monument that details the bridge’s history. (Credit: Liz Fabian, CC-BY-SA, via bridgehunter.com)

GDOT honored for historic preservation effort in Macon

Bricks from the demolished College Street Bridge in Macon have been reused to build an historic monument in a bridge replacement project that won GDOT a top award in the category of, “Quality of Life/Community Development, Small Project.”

The task was to raise two bridges to raise their vertical clearance, which was necessary to accommodate the double-stacked train cars used to transport cargo to and from the ports of Savannah and Brunswick, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

GDOT highlighted the fast design/build aspect of the project. The bridges had to be replaced by August to avoid any delays in freight mobility. Using the design/build business model that has become a standard for GDOT, the Pio Nono Avenue bridge was completed in 25 days and reopened June 2. The College Street bridge reopened in February.

Community engagement and the historic preservation aspects of the project were highlighted in a statement issued by the entity that made the award, Southern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials:

  • “Georgia DOT worked with the community and local historians to preserve the bricks, which are now part of a monument detailing its history at a nearby park.”

The project tied for first place, out of 80 projects, in the American Transportation Award sponsored by the regional affiliate of ASSHTO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AAA, according to GDOT’s statement.

– David Pendered

Calling all local filmmakers

Georgia filmmakers, it’s your time to shine!

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