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Year in Review: Big names, familiar faces converge on area
by Everett Catts
December 26, 2012 01:55 PM | 2844 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
File / Nathan Self<br>
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis gives his State of the School System Address in August.
File / Nathan Self
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis gives his State of the School System Address in August.
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File / Nathan Self<br>
From left, "Dallas" actors Linday Gray and Josh Henderson promote the TNT show at a press junket at the Four Seasons in Midtown in June.
File / Nathan Self
From left, "Dallas" actors Linday Gray and Josh Henderson promote the TNT show at a press junket at the Four Seasons in Midtown in June.
slideshow
File / Nathan Self<br>
Stephen Newland, of Buckhead, stands next in a line that stretches in loops out the door to vote at E. Rivers Elementary School in Buckhead during the Nov. 6 general election.
File / Nathan Self
Stephen Newland, of Buckhead, stands next in a line that stretches in loops out the door to vote at E. Rivers Elementary School in Buckhead during the Nov. 6 general election.
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Staff / Nathan Self<br>
President Barack Obama speaks to his supporters Tuesday at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel in downtown Atlanta during a campaign fundraiser. The main focus of his address was the economy.
Staff / Nathan Self
President Barack Obama speaks to his supporters Tuesday at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel in downtown Atlanta during a campaign fundraiser. The main focus of his address was the economy.
slideshow
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Wright Mitchell and the Buckhead Heritage Society are looking for a new location for the historic Randolph-Lucas House on Peachtree Road.
Staff / Nathan Self
Wright Mitchell and the Buckhead Heritage Society are looking for a new location for the historic Randolph-Lucas House on Peachtree Road.
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In Buckhead and Vinings, the storylines were plentiful in 2012. Here are the top five stories of the year, in no particular order:

APS issues

Atlanta Public Schools started the year with a controversial elementary school redistricting plan and things got worse from there. Parents protested some parts of the proposal, which included moving some Buckhead elementary students from one district to another, but the final plan impacted far less students and pleased most parents. In the spring, parent groups fought over different plans to make Sutton Middle School either a sixth-grade academy and move seventh and eighth grades to the current North Atlanta campus when the new campus was built or to add on to the existing Sutton campus. In April, Superintendent Erroll Davis recom-mended the academy plan.

In October, North Atlanta had a series of problems, beginning with the removal of Principal Mark MyGrant and five other leaders.

Also that month, the school announced it is being investigated for improper grade changing and racial discrimination.

The latter accusation caused one teacher, Amy Durham, to resign. Davis was criticized for saying the school’s academic performance was the reason for removing school leaders, and though in December his contract was extended another 18 months, the school board has the right to terminate him with 90 days’ notice.

T-SPLAT

T-SPLOST, the 1 percent, statewide transportation special local option sales tax Georgia and local officials lobbied heavily for, was defeated soundly in July, with all but three regions of the state voting against it.

In metro Atlanta, 62.3 percent of voters in a 10-county area rejected the proposed tax, which would have paid for $8.5 billion in metro highway and mass transit projects.

In Buckhead, the tax would have supplied funds for a handful of projects totaling $6.9 million, including upgrades to Piedmont, Howell Mill and Peachtree roads, Piedmont Avenue and Northside Drive. There were no projects slated for Vinings.

Incumbents rule

In both the primary and general elections, incumbents led the way. Only one current official, District 6 State Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, lost.

Stoner, whose district was redrawn by Republicans in 2011 to now include parts of GOP-heavy Buckhead and Sandy Springs (it already included Vinings), was defeated by Republican Hunter Hill in November.

All other incumbents won, including President Barack Obama, even though he lost Georgia to Republican Mitt Romney. Both candidates campaigned in Atlanta. The race drew 399.237 voters (70.39 percent) in Fulton County and 311,245 (74.9 percent) in Cobb.

Elections problems

The Fulton County Registration and Elections Department had a rough year. During the July 31 primary, it was slow to report election results.

The next month, then-Director Samuel Westmoreland apologized to the county commission for the county’s problems.

They included having 700 voters, including 343 from one Sandy Springs precinct, having their ballots allocated to the wrong state Senate seat election and a recount in the Fulton sheriff’s race where 15 extra votes were found but did not change the outcome.

In September, Westmoreland resigned after being arrested for DUI.

The county was criticized by the Secretary of State’s office for having voters wait hours to cast ballots and even longer to get provisional ballots during the general election in November.

Late last month the secretary’s office issued two letters of instruction, or official warnings, to the department for problems it had during the 2010 elections, and more punishments could be coming.

Development issues

In Buckhead and Vinings, progress was made on some developments and related issues. In July the Cobb County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the Vinings vision plan, which protects the community from developers wanting to use the “Vinings” brand for new projects outside the village.

In April, OliverMcMillan, developer of the Buckhead Atlanta project, announced it was starting pre-construction on the site, which had been stalled for more than three years. Buckhead’s historic Randolph-Lucas House, which was at one time to be demolished, now instead will be moved to another location once a buyer is found.

Efforts by Walmart to build a new store as part of a mixed-use development in Buckhead’s Lindbergh neighborhood were defeated in October when the Atlanta City Council voted against it after weeks of debate.

What was the top story of 2012 in Buckhead and Vinings?


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