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.

Fans Love New SunTrust Park

Cobb fans reacted positively to the Braves’ new home at SunTrust Park and even report that the expected traffic problems are less than expected.

“The traffic Armageddon didn’t happen as people had predicted,” said District 2 Commission Bob Ott. “It took me just 11 to 15 minutes to get there from my house.”

The park and The Battery drew praise from those who attended the opening game on April 14 as the Braves beat the San Diego Padres 5 to 2. There was a full house on opening night with 41,149 tickets sold.

“The excitement and energy in the Battery was palpable,” said Jodi A. Miller, a Vinings lawyer. “Of course it was the grand opening, but it looks like it’s going to be everything Cobb County and the Braves hoped it would be. Well done, Cobb County! Welcome home Braves!”

MaryJane LeCroy of Smyrna is a season ticket holder and was impressed.

“We thoroughly enjoyed SunTrust Park during opening weekend,” she said. “The ballpark itself has a more intimate feeling with great views. Food and beverage choices are abundant and go far beyond the standard hot dogs, peanuts and Coke. There certainly is something for everyone.”

Ceremonies marked the opening game with nods to the players who have had their numbers retired, a presentation of Jerseys from Braves top staff to County Commissioners and even a military jet flyover. The first pitch was thrown by Hank Aaron to Bobby Cox, just as they had done to close out the team’s run at The Ted.

Traffic was on the minds of fans and officials before and after the game. Even The Governor chimed in.

“You can get there without any real problem, Gov. Nathan Deal said. “We didn’t even have to use the blue lights.”

“So far, there have been no major traffic problems caused by Braves traffic,” said Ron SIfen of Vinings. “There have been some localized spots on Circle 75 Parkway, Windy Ridge Parkway, and Interstate North Parkway where traffic can back up perhaps a tenth of a mile. The interstates and arterials such as Cobb Parkway have not experienced backups due to anything related to the Braves.”

“Many predicted the Cumberland area would be a bad location, and there was not much transit, and traffic would be much worse than traffic at Turner Field. Braves traffic at Turner Field used to back up I-75 for miles, and traffic around the stadium was terrible. So far, the Cobb County location is proving to be a superior location, and is causing dramatically less traffic problems than the downtown Atlanta location.”

Fans packed the Cumberland Connector bus that ran a loop from the Cumberland Transit Station to the ballpark. Many had gotten on at the MARTA Arts Center Station and caught the CobbLinc bus.

Bruce LaBudde of Smyrna caught the Cumberland Connector on Cobb Parkway to the Battery.

“It was fabulous,” he said, noting that he had a long history of Braves games. “I went to the Braves’ opening game in Atlanta with my dad in 1966.”

Ms. Miller said that she was proven wrong about Braves traffic.

“I just couldn’t see how it could work successfully,” she posted on Facebook. “I could not believe how smoothly traffic moved around the stadium (in the opener). At 5:30 the Windy Hill and SunTrust Park exits were clear and moving well. In fact, you hardly would have noticed that there was a home game.”

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

Braves Welcome Fans to New Home In Cobb

The last of the cranes used in the construction of SunTrust Park was removed at the end of March and two preseason games have tested the staff operations, passing with flying colors.

The Atlanta Braves are ready to open the season in their new home in Cobb County on April 14 against the San Diego Padres.

“The pride is boundless,” said Terry McGuirk, Braves Chairman and CEO. “The effort by so many people get us here is overwhelming. There have been some 2,500 people a day working on the project, sometimes in three shifts over the past 2 1/2 years.”

“This was a five to eight year project done in 30 months,” Mike Plant, president of development, said.

Construction work, and cranes still are completing The Battery, an entertainment district venues, restaurants, 200,000 sq. ft. of retail and apartments adjacent to the park.

McGuirk said that some 150 of the planned apartments are finished, and leased.

“It’s sort of a millennial heaven,” he said.

Construction on the Battery will continue throughout the summer with the The Omni hotel opening by Thanksgiving and the Comcast office building by late summer. The first concert at the Roxy is April 7.

“By the end of the year everything will be open,” he said.

Local fans are looking forward to being a part of the new ballpark.

The Smyrna First United Methodist Church’s youth choir, God’s Light, will perform the national anthem on April 19. “They do it every year but this one is particularly exciting since it’s in our own backyard,” said Julie Lischer.

SunTrust Park was designed as a fan’s ballpark, with good sightlines and an intimate feel.

“The advantage of this orientation is that from the upper deck you can see the Atlanta skyline,” said Joe Spears, architect.

Another unique feature is the connectivity available at the park. With Comcast next door, and wi-fi repeaters located at numerous spots around the field and in the seats, fans can enjoy free high speed wi-fi.

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

Braves Show Off Menu For SunTrust Park

Opening Day is April 14 and there’s more on the menu at SunTrust Park than just peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jack.

The ballpark’s concessions are provided by Delaware North Sportservice – a division of global hospitality and foodservice provider Delaware North. Other food vendors include Chick-fil-A, Waffle House and Fox Brothers Barbeque.

“Like the ballpark, the food service is state of the art,” said Shawn Mattox, Delaware North’s general manager at SunTrust Park.

A variety of themed outlets will provide regionally inspired, fan-favorite dishes using local ingredients and companies. The “Taste of Braves Country” program will feature traditional items from around Georgia and five other neighboring states considered “Braves Country,” while a “Farm to Fan” initiative will bring fresh, homegrown ingredients to the ballpark from Atlanta-area farms and other local producers.

Delaware North Executive Chef  Smithing  noted that while the ballpark food prices are usually higher, “It’s all made in house so it’s similar to fine dining, but at the ball park.”

He noted that for a family of four you might expect to budget about $60 for a meal during the game. A kids’ meal of a hot dog, chips and a drink is $7.

“Delaware North has done an incredible job creating an authentic southern food experience for fans coming to SunTrust Park,” said Mike Plant, Braves president of development. “With everything from the flavors to the vendors having a local tie, we know our fans will enjoy and appreciate the food experience and the quality service.”

The Taste of Braves Country program was designed to showcase the best southern cooking from “Braves Country,” which encompasses Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Time-tested dishes and flavors from around the south will be found on concessions menus across the ballpark. Some highlights include:

  • Georgia: Fox Bros. BBQ; Hugh Acheson 1st & 3rd Hot Dog and Sausage Shack, Chick-fil-A; Waffle House.
  • South Carolina: Pimento Cheese Patty Melt, served with caramelized onions and smoked paprika on rye.
  • North Carolina: Smoked whole hog BBQ sandwich, served on white bread with chopped southern slaw and vinegar BBQ sauce.
  • Tennessee: Nashville Hot Chicken, served with bread & butter pickles.
  • Mississippi: Blackened Catfish Po’ Boy Taco, served with slaw and Comeback Sauce.
  • Alabama: Fried Tomahawk Pork Chop, served on an extra-large potato roll with collard green slaw and white BBQ sauce.

“Braves fans come from far and wide, and each one has a different and delicious food they enjoy while watching a baseball game,” said Shawn Mattox, Delaware North’s general manager at SunTrust Park. “We designed a menu that underscores the diversity of southern cooking and created dishes that we know all fans will enjoy while in Atlanta for a game.

For its Farm to Fan initiative, Sportservice will draw from a network of more than 40 Atlanta-area farms, urban and college gardens, and other local producers to incorporate their produce into a variety of concessions dishes. The produce and fresh ingredients will vary throughout the season based on market availability and each game will feature a different farm or local company. A guest farmer component will also bring the farmers to the ballpark to work alongside Sportservice chefs and meet with fans as they try the locally sourced dishes.

Fans can look for the Farm to Fan logo at concession stands throughout the ballpark to try the featured produce item of the game, or follow on social media as farms and participating concession stand locations are announced throughout the season.

Despite the myriad choices of food at the ballpark, the Braves will allow outside food in SunTrust Park, reversing an earlier announcement.

The organization initially said no outside food or drink, except a sealed water bottle, would be allowed into the new stadium.

Just before the March 31 preseason game, the Braves tweeted that, after receiving feedback from fans, they have changed that policy.

“Over the past few days we have heard feedback from our fans expressing their desire to continue to bring food items into the ballpark on game days. We listened and have decided to amend our approach,” the organization posted on Twitter.

Fans will now be allowed to bring food inside SunTrust Park as long as it fits inside a clear, gallon-sized plastic bag. Fans may still bring a sealed plastic water bottle.

“One bag of food and one bottle of water per ticket will be permitted,” the tweet said.

All bags of food are subject to additional inspection.

Exceptions to the policy will be made for those with dietary concerns and infants.

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

Braves’ Economic Impact Nears $4 Billion

First pitch at the Braves’ new SunTrust Park is next month, but already the economic benefits are being felt, not only in the Cumberland area, but across southern Cobb County.

Some $4 billion in new investment will be realized in the Cumberland area by 2018, with approximately $3 billion going toward enhancements in public infrastructure, according to figures from Malaika Rivers, Cumberland CID Executive Director. The Cumberland CID has more than 20 construction projects underway within a three-mile area. These infrastructure improvements are set to improve safety and better manage the traffic congestion within the area

Cobb Chamber President David Connell noted that Cobb will soon be home to three professional sports franchises. Preceding the Braves’ relocation to Cobb was the Atlanta Blaze, a professional men’s field lacrosse team based in Kennesaw, while Arthur Blank’s Atlanta United Football Club is building its headquarters and training complex on a 33-acre site on Franklin Gateway in Marietta; the soccer team will begin play this spring and eventually play its home games at the Atlanta Falcons’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Six Flags and White Water expect an attendance boost from Braves fans.

“We are interested in working with the Braves; we expect to see a lot more attendance at both parks,” said Six Flags President Dale Kaetzel. “The combination will make people want to stay an extra night, and usually they stay closer to the theme park so they can get in early.”

“District 4 (southwest Cobb represented by Commissioner Lisa Cupid) has been leading the county in permits for the last six months,” said Cobb Commission Chair Mike Boyce. “There’s a lot happening there – new homes, new business. South Cobb is in a great position because there’s a great infrastructure already in place.

Other parts of southern Cobb are working to get their piece of the pie.

“We hope to market the area as a pit stop for travelers to the Braves’ games,” said Stephanie Aylworth, economic development coordinator for Powder Springs.

Powder Springs is looking at future downtown plans and funding. Mayor Al Thurman said he favors building upscale apartments in downtown to draw more businesses. City officials are reviewing several plans which would involve the investment of $3 to $5 million for “a public amenity” in downtown with its design and location not yet determined.

Austell is looking toward housing for new residents and working to improve its downtown.

“The Braves will be bringing in service sector workers,” said Darrell Weaver of the city’s Community Development Department. “Austell is looking to provide housing for the workforce as part of our residential growth because land costs are lower.”

“We want to re-activate our downtown,” he said. Using data from Georgia Power economic development, the city realized that it was losing millions of dollars in a 15 mile radius from Austell residents. The city worked to reactivate the Austell business Association. Austell has purchased several holdings in the downtown area, renovating them and marketing them to new business. Two of the newest businesses are in city-owned buildings. Oz Antique Market opened the end of last year, and South Cobb Diner, a second location for West Cobb diner, is expected to open in the next couple of months.

The biggest growth is in the Cumberland area.

“Residential developments are being constructed at an all-time high right now in Cumberland,”  Rivers said. These new residential developments cause a 71 percent population increase over the next 10 years in Cumberland.

According to the Cumberland CID’s 2015 annual report, here are some projects that are coming to Cumberland:

  • 6 office, 5 retail, and 5 hotel projects.
  • 11 multifamily projects.
  • 1,582 hotel rooms.
  • 625,500 square feet of new retail.
  • 1.7 million new square feet of Class A office space delivered by 2017.
  • 6,806 housing units bringing more than 13,500 new residents.
  • $2 billion in public infrastructure improvements in and around Cumberland.

“The world is changing so much. If you look at what’s happening over here with the Braves at SunTrust Park, we’re going to be host to a lot of new people here (in Cobb),” Gary Bottoms, Cobb Chamber Chairman, said. “The chamber’s going to work really hard to accommodate in any way we can to make that a positive experience.”

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

Braves Reveal Traffic Plan

With just 10 weeks before the Braves’ first pitch at the new SunTrust Park, Cobb officials are expressing concerns on whether everything will be ready.

“The Braves are going to be ready,” Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon said. “The stadium will be ready. But we still don’t have agreements among multiple jurisdictions on a traffic study.”

Cobb Commission Chair Mike Boyce has warned that the county could not afford any missteps.

“We’re all in this ship together,” Boyce said. “We’re not going to fail on opening day.”

The Chairman in January named a 28-member joint task force for the Braves stadium with the aim of making the ballpark a success.

The task force will be an advisory body under the auspices of District Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the Cumberland area. Ott put forward a list of 28 names of private individuals, public officials and employees of the county, as well as business owners.

The Braves revealed the first facet of their traffic plan last fall, returning the starting time of games to 7:30 p.m. and noted the 14 primary access points to SunTrust Park, which will open in April.

In a mid-January briefing, the Braves and key partners unveiled Cobb County’s Transportation Management Plan. Also announced were additional game day parking spaces, a Braves-operated game day shuttle, the launch of A-List season parking sales and new partnerships with Uber and Waze.

“The amount of planning and coordination that has taken place between our organization and our partners is staggering, and today’s announcement is a testament to their hard work,” said Mike Plant, president, development for the Braves. “With three months to go until Opening Day, we have already secured significantly more parking than we had for a ballpark that is much smaller. Additionally, we have already analyzed and forecasted traffic flow through every corridor entering our development. While we know this plan will continue to evolve, we couldn’t be more pleased with where we are at this time.”

Last fall, the Braves and their partners – Cobb County Department of Transportation, Cobb County Police Department and Kimley-Horn – provided an overview of the collaborative approach to transportation management where they shared plans to return the starting time of their games to 7:30 p.m. and detailed the benefits of the 14 primary access points to SunTrust Park, which will open in April.

The Cobb County Transportation Management Plan outlines the community’s strategic approach to managing vehicular and pedestrian access to SunTrust Park. In crafting the plan, Lieutenant J.D. Lorens said the county focused on minimizing the impact of traffic on daily commuters by utilizing the 14 primary points of access to ballpark.

The Cobb County Police Department will have uniformed officers at approximately 30 intersections around the ballpark to help support game day travel. Combined with a variety of access enhancements in the surrounding area, such as the utilization of contraflow lanes – reversing the traffic flow of designated lanes before and after games – and the construction of a dedicated exit lane from I-285 that funnels into The Battery Atlanta, these steps will facilitate safe and efficient vehicular and pedestrian travel.

Lorens encouraged property owners in the area that are interested in parking vehicles on game day to apply for a permit with the County so they can work them into the overall plan.

“Our Transportation Management Plan is a working document that will continue to evolve as we move toward Opening Day and more parking lots come online,” said Lt. Lorens. “We have identified the most critical intersections based on the current distribution of parking, but we know more parking will come online as property owners in the area apply for and are granted permits to park cars. Once this takes place, we will integrate them into this plan.”

The Braves also announced they would be able to offer more than 11,000 parking spaces owned or leased by the organization for game day. This is already 2,500 more spaces than were available at Turner Field, all serving a ballpark that features roughly 8,000 fewer seats, with more parking to be added prior to Opening Day. The Braves will begin selling season parking to A-List members immediately, with single game parking to be sold when single game tickets go on sale March 10.

The Braves also unveiled plans to launch a private shuttle service that will serve both their managed parking lots and key points of interest in Metro Atlanta. Specific routes will be released closer to Opening Day.

In Waze and Uber, the Braves have identified two leaders in transportation technology to help provide for safe, efficient options for fans headed to the ballpark.

Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, will collaborate with the Braves and Cobb County to share data and real-time updates with fans and commuters. Waze currently serves more than 760,000 active users in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville area, and its real-time updates will enhance the data being provided by Cobb County DOT from its on-site traffic control center. Fans will receive directions from their doorstep directly to their assigned parking lot, each of which has its own address.

The Braves also shared updates on their partnership with Uber. The ridesharing giant has experienced consistent, strong growth in Metro Atlanta, and this partnership will offer an alternative for fans traveling to the game. SunTrust Park will feature a designated drop-off/pick-up zone on Windy Ridge Parkway, adjacent to the ballpark, enabling fans to safely and easily find a vehicle following the game.

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

Cobb’s First Baby of 2017 Born in Austell

Cobb County’s first baby born in 2017 arrived at WellStar Cobb Hospital in Austell at 12:02 a.m. Jan. 1, hospital officials say.

Jayce Hanna is 7 pounds, 1.4 ounces and 20 inches long. The baby boy was born to parents Verneka Hodo and Chevron Hanna of Austell. He was also welcomed by a big sister, 1-year-old Journey.

The Austell couple was given a due date of Jan. 4, but expected him to arrive before then. “I’m feeling blessed,” Hannah said. “This is the best Happy New Year’s gift ever, and it was the best way to spend New Year’s.”

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