Smyrna Hosts Spring Jonquil Festival

Smyrna will host the annual Spring Jonquil Festival on the Village Green, April 28 and 29.

This free event, presented by Superior Plumbing, features more than 175 Arts & Crafts booths, 15 food booths, an entertainment stage, and a variety of children’s activities.

Bring the family and shop, play, eat, drink and just have a great day together.

Artisans from all over the southeast feature their own hand-made crafts, paintings, clothing, furniture, jewelry and much more.  The festival foods include: cotton candy, candy apples, corn dogs, hand-dipped ice cream, snow cones, polish sausage, chicken sandwiches, and BBQ.  The huge interactive children’s area includes big and small inflatable activities, sand art, and more.  So whether it’s your child or the child in you, there are plenty of food and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

New for 2018 is an educational Grizzly Bear Show and exhibit. The Show brings an in depth into the life of North America’s most prestigious predator, the Alaskan Grizzly Bear. Tonk, the 13-year-old 700-pound grizzly and the two juveniles, Yogi and Maggie delight crowds of all ages with their impressive sizes and amazing behaviors. Throughout the day patrons will witness Tonk, Yogi & Maggie interacting with their handler and showing the amazing bond between grizzly and man.

Wildlife Wendy is an informative and interactive bird show containing birds from all over the world. Gaze in wonder at their vibrant colors & fun personalities. Wendy’s tropical birds will provide an up-close and personal encounter with the most entertaining species of the bird world.

Lady Houdini, an escape artist who has successfully performed thousands of public feats and broken Harry Houdini’s record for the most water escapes ever. Kristen Johnson is no “lovely” magician’s assistant. She is currently the only female anywhere in the world attempting the water torture cell.

Robocars are unique and fun brightly colored, life-size, transforming robot vehicles currently featuring Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles and Tractors. Operator driven, they walk and drive creating endless excitement and photo opportunities for the whole family.

Kids and adults alike will be thrilled to hear Scott Thompson of Peachtree Station performing all the songs you know and love on the Veteran’s Memorial grand lawn adjacent to the Spring Jonquil Food Court. Bring a blanket, sing-a-long, and relax in a beautiful setting with the family.

The Jonquil Jog will kick the festival off Saturday morning at 8 a.m., with the 5K Run/Walk. The jog will be held at the City of Smyrna Municipal Building next to the Village Green. Registration is required. Call 770-319-5401 or on-line at www.smyrnacity.com.

The festival hours of operation are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., on Saturday, April 28, and noon – 5 p.m., on Sunday, April 29. Admission is FREE.

The festival is a wonderful experience for the whole family! The Village Green is located just off I-75 to  (Windy Hill Rd.) head west approximately 3 miles to Atlanta Rd., turn left onto Atlanta Rd. and the festival will be one mile on the right. For more information call Tod Miller or Bill Watson at 770-423-1330.

From the April 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Campbell Retires Lautsch’s Jersey

Campbell High School retired the jersey of Christie Lautsch, the all-time leading basketball scorer for the Lady Spartans, in a ceremony Jan. 9.

Lautsch averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game while at Campbell. She was named to Georgia Class 5A all-state first team and Street & Smith honorable mention All-America honors in 2003.

Christie was a second team all-state selection in 2002 and as a freshman, was an Adidas Top Ten Camp Underclass All-Star, also earning all-county and Street & Smith honorable mention All-America honors. Breakdown Magazine rated Lautsch the ninth best post in the nation and the No. 40th player overall. She entered the 2004 season ranked nationally as No. 51 by Blue Star Index and No. 65 in All Star Girls Report.

In 2004 Christie was awarded Marietta Daily Journal Player of the year, 5A State Player of the Year, 5A All-State Teams-First Team, and Atlanta Tip-Off Club Naismith Trophy. She is the all-time leading Lady Spartan with 1,907 points, second in Campbell history to Brian Oliver. Christie’s record high game was scoring 45 points and a career total of 1,137 rebounds, and 407 blocks.

According to Randy McClure Sr., Varsity Lady Spartans basketball Head Coach, Lautsch earned all type of basketball accolades through her high school and college careers.

“Christie’s story is a true heart string type story,” McClure said. “What everyone did not know is that before she came to high school her father had died of cancer and all the time she was in high school her mother was battling cancer.

“Her mother, Janet Lautsch, would lose her battle with Cancer just before graduation. In a truly great gesture, Principal Kehl Arnson and Florida State head Coach Sue Samurai held a private graduation ceremony at her home before she passed so that Christie’s mom could see her actually graduate.

“She was well aware of her condition, but was determined to see Christie, the youngest of her three children and a basketball superstar, graduate from high school. Coach Samurai also promised that she would make sure that Christie would graduate from Florida State.

“I am very happy that we can honor this great young lady who certainly helped lift our program into one of the best in the state of Georgia and especially in Cobb County where the basketball has always been very competitive statewide,” he said.

Lautsch lives in Smyrna and works nearby. She said the honor is “bittersweet” without her mother, but was awed by the honor.

“It’s an awesome feeling to know that hard work does pay off,” she said.

From the February 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

‘Sister Act’ On Stage This Weekend

2018 Encore Series and Pebblebrook High School present “Sister Act: The Musical.” Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 1-4.

This musical is based on the hit 1992 film. Deloris Van Cartier, a famous disco singer, is put into witness protection in a convent. While struggling through the restrictions of her new lifestyle, she finds comfort in the church’s choir and ends up inspiring the church and community. Enjoy powerful gospel music, dancing and a moving story. Performances will be at 8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday and 3 pm. on Sunday. Tickets are $20 each. To purchase, visit ticketmaster.com or call 770-528-8490.

Shows are at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, Cobb Civic Center, 548 S. Marietta Parkway SE, Marietta. Visit ticketmaster.com or call 770-528-8490 for tickets.

Other upcoming shows in the Encore Series include:

• Jay and the Americans, 8 p.m., Feb. 27
• Linda Eder, 8 p.m., March 10
• The Company Men, 3 p.m., March 25
• 1964: The Tribute, 8 p.m., April 7

Tickets for all shows in the Encore Series are available now on ticketmaster.com. Anderson Theatre is located in the Cobb Civic Center, 548 South Marietta Parkway SE, Marietta. For more information on each show, view the Encore Series flyer.

Jacobson Named Smyrna Citizen Of Year

She is a jewelry professional by day and a philanthropist around the clock. For that reason and many others Rhonda Jacobson was named Smyrna Citizen of the Year.

The award was presented in November by the Smyrna Division of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

“Rhonda does so much good for her community,” said Dan Byers, division chair. He noted that she is active on boards and organizations such as the WellStar Foundation Board of Trustees and co-chair for WellStar Foundation – Women in Philanthropy as well as a member of the advisory council for the WellStar Vinings Health Park where the meeting was held.

In her “day job,” as Buyers put it, she is vice president, human resources and graduate gemologist at Cumberland Diamond Exchange in Smyrna.

She gives her time to the liveSAFE Resources board and is chair-elect/VP, SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center, Cobb Executive Women and Cobb Chairman’s Club.

“As co-owner and founder of Cumberland Diamond Exchange, the businesses involvement in the community and partnerships with non-profits are key differentiators. Their Cufflinks +Charms 4 Charity makes custom designed jewelry for resale and recognition with proceeds benefitting the corresponding charity,” Byers said. In FY2016 the business made $79,593.98 in gifts, merchandise and cash donations.

The family-owned store was founded by Rhonda and Mark Jacobson in 1982. It has been named “Jeweler of the Year” in 2016 and was named Cobb Small Business of the Year in 2015.

According to her nomination, it was said, “Rhonda has the biggest heart and truly cares about others. Jewelry is her business but philanthropy is where her heart is.”

“I am overwhelmed,” Mrs. Jacobson said. “It is all about giving back.”

As a surprise, she was joined by family members, friends and staff of the business who revealed themselves after she was announced as the award winner.

From the December 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Silva Is Smyrna Business Person Of The Year

Charles Silva was named the Smyrna Business Association Business Person of the Year at the September meeting.

Silva, who currently serves as secretary of the group had a long tenure as treasurer.

Presenting the award are, left, Dennis Harding, last year’s recipient and Jabar Dozier, right, president.

A native of St. Louis, Silva grew up in St Louis Missouri and spent most of his career as a banker, working his way up to bank president. After volunteering for the Arthritis Foundation, Silva headed the Arthritis Chapter of Eastern Missouri and came to the Atlanta area as CFO of the National Arthritis Foundation in 1997.

“Today, Charlie continues to use his financial and consulting skills to assist small businesses in the Smyrna area,” Harding said. “We are fortunate that Charlie has brought his experience and talent to serving as a Board member of the Smyrna Business Association.”

He and his wife, Katie, have two grown children.

From the September 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

‘Twisted Cyclone’ Roller Coaster Coming To Six Flags In 2018

Six Flags Over Georgia—the Thrill Capital of the South— announced the all-new Twisted Cyclone hybrid roller coaster will arrive in 2018. Twisted Cyclone will offer guests the best of both worlds—a classic wooden structure combined with a modern, steel track for multiple inversions and a smoother, more thrilling riding experience.

“Six Flags was the first in the industry to introduce this hybrid technology and Twisted Cyclone is a shining example of Six Flags innovation at its very best. Year after year, our park keeps delivering unique thrills for all ages and this state-of-the-art hybrid coaster is an absolute game-changer,” said Park President Dale Kaetzel. “Our guests are going to be blown away by the unbelievable features of this coaster.”

Twisted Cyclone highlights include:

  • An insanely steep 75-degree initial drop from nearly 100 feet into a jaw-dropping reverse cobra roll sending riders perpendicular to the ground;
  • Three hair-raising upside down inversions and 10 airtime moments along 2,400 feet of track at speeds of 50 miles per hour;
  • The feeling of weightlessness through a 360-degree zero gravity roll;
  • One-of-a-kind custom coaster trains modeled after a classic 1960’s sports convertible; and
  • A smoother, sleeker, more intense ride than ever before.

Construction on Twisted Cyclone is underway and the ride is expected to debut in the spring of 2018. For more information about next season at Six Flags Over Georgia, visit www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia/newfor2018.

Six Flags Over Georgia is also announcing the start of 2018 Season Pass sales with its special Flash Sale through Labor Day weekend featuring the best deal of the year— savings up to 70% off on a 2018 Pass!

August 31 through Sept. 4, guests will receive a free upgrade to a Gold Combo Season Pass with every Pass purchased. Gold Combo Season Passes include admission to Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water, and any other Six Flags theme park, as well as free parking and special admission offers for friends.

Campbell Is Now Cobb’s Largest High School

Campbell High School opened the school year with some 2,957 students enrolled, making it the largest high school in Cobb County.

“We are bursting at the seams,” said Principal Jeannie Walker. Rooms that had been converted from classrooms to other purposes have been reconfigured as classroom space to accommodate new staff, she said. With some no-shows after the first day’s count, the student population is at 2,800 “but that continues to grow, and will do so again after Labor Day,” a school spokesman said.

Campbell had 2,664 enrolled in March, and by August 1 had increased nearly 10 percent. North Cobb was the largest school in Cobb in March’s count with 2,851.

“We’ve got more bodies crammed into the same space,” she added. The classrooms were built in the 1960s and are not as adaptable as newer construction.

Campbell has added 6.5 new teaching positions for the upcoming year and has 38 new employees.

“The Spartan staff is strong and keeps appositive attitude” she said.

“Campbell High School exceeded the previous year’s performance in all areas on the end of course test last year,” said Walker. Not only did they have the highest SAT, ACT & CCRPI gains for 2016, they achieved a 93 percent IB diploma rate and 92 percent of the seniors enrolled in 2017 graduated on time.” Other notable Campbell accomplishments are listed on page 9 of this issue.

Other changes coming to the school include a new football coach who arrived in the spring and will lead the Spartans on the field this fall. Kyle Adkins comes from Pope High school. His wife April is also a teacher at Campbell.

Parking space will also be an issue this school year as construction of a new gymnasium has removed a parking lot in front of the Nash Gym. It is expected to open in January.

The reduction in parking will be felt during sporting events and open houses and only seniors will be allowed to park on campus.

From the August 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

‘Everybody Wants To Live In Smyrna,’ Mayor Says

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon welcomes Jean Brannon, his fifth grade teacher, to the State of the City address in July.

Smyrna is the hottest spot to live in the metro area according to Mayor Max Bacon.

Bacon addressed an overflow crowd at the annual state of the City Address for the Smyrna Business Association and Smyrna Division of the Cobb Chamber in July.

“We’ve always had great people, even the Braves moved out of Atlanta to be next to Smyrna,” he said. “Everybody wants to live in Smyrna. We were strong before the 2008 blip on the economy.”

“We will not raise taxes,” the mayor told the crowd. Smyrna will maintain the millage rate of 8.99 mills for 2017. This rate has been in effect since 2007. Homeowners who maintain a primary residence in Smyrna and have filed for the floating homestead exemption will not see a tax increase on their 2017 property tax bill.

“We are as fiscally sound as any government anywhere,” Bacon said. “We show that in our bond rating.”

Smyrna has a AAA bond rating, one of only six in the state. The city’s $92 million budget is broken down by: public safety, 38 percent; general government, 21 percent; Public works, 18 percent; debt 9 percent; parks and recreation, 8 percent; community development, 3 percent; library, 2 percent and Keep Smyrna Beautiful, 1 percent.

“We have a great police force and fire department,” Bacon said. “We have superior service.”

Early this year Bacon admitted that he had a heart condition. After being referred by his family doctor, Bacon said, “My doctor was wrong, I had not had one heart attack, I had two,” he said.

He had two stents installed and has since recovered.

The health scare has brought up questions of whether Bacon, who has held the mayor’s job since 1985, will run for another term.

“Am I going to run again? Right now I’d say yes, because I’m not going to tell you no,” he said.

“I know that I will finish this term (through 2019) then I’ll make a decision,” he said. “My health’s good for 68.”

“I thank Jack Halpern and Halpern Enterprises for hanging in there with us,” Bacon said. “They donated the land for the Smyrna Elementary School and what we got back was a great investment in or city.”

Bacon noted that the Belmont and Jonquil developments are essentially done, although some storefronts are still being built out. Belmont is a 48-acre mixed-use development with homes, apartments, retail, restaurants and Smyrna Elementary. The Belmont Physicians Center is under construction on Windy Hill and David Weekly homes will build a second phase of houses along Atlanta Road. Jonquil, anchored by Publix, is an 11 acre mixed-use site in downtown Smyrna including apartments and retail and restaurants.

“Concord Road is finally finished,” he said.

The $12 million SPLOST road widening project on Concord Road is complete, he reported. The Downtown Development Authority sold one property to a restaurant and many parcels on the north side of Concord is being developed as a passive linier park.

The next road project is the Windy Hill Road improvement that will begin next year from South Cobb and Atlanta Roads.

“Windy Hill will be an express route,” he said. Four express lanes will move east-west traffic with frontage roads on each side.

“It’s going to be a mess for the next five years,” he said.

“The Reed House will top my list of things I am proud of,” he said. The city purchased the home on Atlanta Road for $18 million and will spend $1.3 million renovating it to use as an event facility.

“This is going to be a great addition once it is finished,” he said.

From the August 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Golf Cart Parade Honors Fourth, Veterans

 

  Presbyterian Village in Austell held its annual golf cart parade to honor the Fourth of July with more than two dozen golf carts decked out in patriotic bunting. Where in previous parades there has been a Grand Marshall seated in the lead car; this year some 14 World War II veterans were honored as Grand Marshalls, riding in individual carts.

Among them was, below left, Navy veteran Bill Smith, a pharmacist’s mate 3rd class, who served aboard the USS Wyoming in WWII.

Hilliard Pouncey, right, an original Tuskegee Airman, rides in the lead car as one of more than a dozen “Grand Marshalls” at the annual golf cart parade at Presbyterian Village in Austell on July 3.

 

 

 

 

Bringing up the rear in a 1915 Model T, below right, are Robert and Bryant Brough of Mableton in vintage uniforms to honor the veterans.

At left, Ike Strueusee, an Infantry Staff Sgt. during the war, fought at the Battle of The Bulge in the Army.

Russell Students Perform Successful ‘Space Shuttle’ Mission

Wearing orange full pressure “pumpkin suits,” the astronauts turned and waved one last time before boarding the space shuttle. Cameras snapped; parents waved, and with that they were locked in their home for the next 27 hours. Meanwhile, mission control began to work through the calculations and systematic steps to send a shuttle into space. The clock in the room ticked down to launch time. A television monitor featured a split-screen of the astronauts, now wearing helmets, as they prepared to embark on an out-of-this world lesson.

The student astronauts and their teammates in mission control were part of the 19th mission to space for the Russell Elementary School Space Program, which first launched in 1998.

The unique space program sends student astronauts on a simulated space mission inside a replica NASA shuttle. The space mission includes a launch, landing, payload deployment, spacewalk, onboard experiments and around-the-clock monitoring of onboard systems from the school’s mock mission control center.

Students in the space program start in August to prepare for launch day.

“They learn about orbital dynamics,” said Chris Laster, Space Team teacher coordinator and founder. “They learn how to work together as a team. They learn how to track telemetry, which is data that is sent down by radio from our space shuttle simulator. They learn how to monitor that for trends to detect problems and malfunctions and how to take measures to solve those problems.”

That’s not all the students learn. Grueling, that’s how Laster described the material the students learn over the course of the eight months leading up to the space launch.

“All the kids learn how to read acronyms from NASA. They have to learn how to read flight plans and time stamps,” explained Tracey Steiner, a Russell science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lab teacher.

The students tackle the grueling material after school hours. Some of the students spend four days a week for several hours each day preparing for their space mission. The teaching staff help the students develop the math and science skills to understand the different systems aboard the space shuttle and the complexities of the spaceflight operations.

“We learned a lot about technology like radios and computers,” said fifth grader Samantha, one of the student astronauts. “Before I joined the program, I used to call it a space shuttle or a rocket. Now, I know the full term for everything.”

Some of what Samantha learned shocked her, for example, reading about the lack of privacy and bathrooms in space.

Samantha was motivated to join the space team by the stories her brother shared about the program when he came home every day. He was a member of the space team a few years prior.

Samantha’s fifth grade classmate Joy also made the space team a family tradition. Joy’s two sisters are both veterans of the Russell Space Program. Her sister, Princess, was there for Joy’s launch day as commander of the STS-19 team.

“The fact that she was able to buckle down and do all that work and reach the point where she is actually commanding the [space team] is wild,” Princess said.

The older sister has regaled stories of her time in the space program with her new college friends, who she said are shocked that her elementary school has such an elaborate space program.

“I loved the program, and I love how it is growing,” Princess added. “Mission control looks a lot more realistic.

Princess, who is studying biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia, credits the space program for impacting her interest in science.

Joy and Princess’s dad credits the space program for helping his daughters excel in school.

“[The space program] teaches them how to be leaders,” their father Muhammed Dikko explained. “It teaches them how to stay on task when they are given assignments. It teaches them to take life, in general, seriously. We have seen the changes in [Joy’s] life. We have seen it in our other daughters. I’ve never had to tell them to go do their homework as a result of this [program] because they look forward to it.”

The proud father studied the material with his daughters, but has a confession about wanting to actually join the space team himself.

“It is a lot of hard work,” he said. “I couldn’t do it.”

Students in the space program have gone on to be chemical engineers, high-ranking service members and business owners. According to Laster, one space program veteran and graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology will soon be writing orbital trajectories and trajectories for space probes. This student, too, credits the space program for propelling him on his career track.

Steiner, who has flown on 10 space flights with students, has a theory about why the space program encourages student success.

“The kids learn that there is a final goal,” Steiner explained. “They work hard and dedicate themselves to making something happen. We either fail together or succeed together, and when they learn they can succeed together, even if it may be the hardest thing they have ever done, they will be up for the challenges of life.”

The students who join the space team undergo a rigorous application process including physical fitness tests. The student astronauts earn the top fitness scores.

“To be selected for space team, you have to write an essay on why you want to join, how you think you can benefit and what skills that you can bring to the team,” astronaut Samantha added. “You basically have to prove that you are good enough to be on the team.”

Although the students must have high grades to join the team, Laster sometimes sees something in a student that others may not. He said that after some students join the program, they start to thrive and do things that they didn’t even know were possible.

Fifth grader Edith, who served as the STS-19 capsule communicator in mission control, said the space program helped her develop better study habits. Her favorite part was making friends and learning how to work more as a team

Princess still keeps up with the friends she made on STS-10 mission.

Astronaut Kelsie, 5th grade, signed up for the STS-19 mission because she knew it would be a great teamwork experience and “It looked fun.”

The students cite varying reasons on why they want to enlist in the space program, but their teacher only has one.

“I’m here for the kids,” said Laster.

He launched the space program after taking Russell students on a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. A student asked why Russell Elementary couldn’t have a space program like the one in Huntsville. That question started the countdown to the school’s first space mission.

The program started off in the classroom and moved into the separate simulator set up in a trailer outside of the school, which is painted to look like a NASA space shuttle.

Steiner, who hung up her pumpkin suit for the last time after the STS-19 mission, described the space program as the heart and soul of Russell Elementary.

After STS-19 landed on May 9, the astronauts and mission control reunited and celebrated with a parade through the school.

There is a lot of emotion that takes place with the students, parents and teachers on landing day, according to the dad of three veteran space team members.

“There are a lot of tissue boxes being used. Even people who think they never cry, they always end up in tears,” Dikko said.

There was a lot to celebrate this year. About three minutes prior the shuttle landing, a power surge knocked out power in mission control and the simulator. The school staff does sometimes inject malfunctions so the students can use their skills to overcome challenges. This was not a drill.

“[The students] actually trained for that sort of thing,” Laster explained. “What we had not anticipated was that power was also knocked out in the simulator. So that really sent us into a scramble. It also messed up some of the tracking systems the students were using. So they basically had to go it blind at that point. They handled it very well.”

After all the excitement of the landing, the STS-19 team had a lot to discuss during the school press conference. The entire school gathered in the cafeteria to listen to the team answer questions about their mission.

“I hope the space program gets adopted in other schools nationwide because it teaches them a lot of leadership skills,” said Joy and Princess’s father Dikko. “It helps prepare them for the future and life and general. It teaches them how to relate to each other. It goes way above and beyond their everyday school work.”

From the June 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.