Cobb County voters can now apply to vote absentee in the November 2021 election. Many had applied too early under new elections laws recently passed, and those applications were rejected, 

  • All precincts will have an education SPLOST question on the ballot.   
  • Precincts within incorporated cities will also have municipal offices on the ballot.
  • Voters must register to vote or update their address by Oct. 4 at
  • Voters may submit an absentee ballot application only between Aug. 16 and Oct. 22.
  • Absentee ballots will be mailed to voters beginning Oct. 11.
  • Voted absentee ballots must be received by Cobb Elections staff before 7 pm on Nov. 2, 2021. 
    • Ballots can be returned by postal mail, or
    • hand-delivered to the ballot box inside the Cobb Elections office, or
    • hand-delivered to any early voting location during voting hours.
  • In a pilot program, Cobb Elections staff will also accept voted ballots at certain libraries starting on Oct. 25.  A schedule of dates, times, and locations will be published soon.
  • Early voting will begin on Oct. 12. A schedule of dates, times, and locations will be published no later than Sept. 27.

For questions and for more information, visit info@cobbelections.orgor call 770-528-2581.


Cobb & Douglas Public Health is hosting a diaper drive to benefit the Healthy Start program. Diapers can be dropped off from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the South Cobb Public Health Center. The address is 875 Riverside Parkway, Austell GA 30168. 

The Healthy Start program promotes positive birth outcomes in an effort to reduce low weight births and infant mortality. The program is in need of diapers to distribute to the families they are serving. If you have any questions please contact the program director Sara Harmelin at


Cobb & Douglas Public Health is hosting a diaper drive to benefit the Healthy Start program. Diapers can be dropped off from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the South Cobb Public Health Center. The address is 875 Riverside Parkway, Austell GA 30168. 

The Healthy Start program promotes positive birth outcomes in an effort to reduce low weight births and infant mortality. The program is in need of diapers to distribute to the families they are serving. If you have any questions please contact the program director Sara Harmelin at


The City of Smyrna is offering Covid vaccinations today, August 27, for Ages 12 and up. The city is extending the free community vaccination effort through September to help slow the spike. Vaccinations are available each Friday during September at the Smyrna Community Center (200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna. 

Offered at the Smyrna Community Center, Pfizer vaccine vaccinations are open for everyone ages 12 and up at the Smyrna Community Center each Friday afternoon, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. (200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna). No Appointment needed. Please bring ID. There is no cost. For ages 12 to 15, please bring a birth certificate or record of live birth (or passport).

According to information from the city, booster shots will be available in October for anyone who’s been vaccinated for 8 months.

Joseph Bennett Named Smyrna Policy Chief

The City of Smyrna has a new Police Chief. Joseph Bennett, who served as Deputy Chief under Lee, assumed the leadership role on the retirement of Chief David Lee. “I truly love this City and all who live, work, and play here. I take my position seriously and will do everything humanly possible to ensure the safety and security of those mentioned,” said Bennett.

Chief Bennett outlined his plans for serving in his new position. “Two of my first initiatives are to use education, technology, and human resources to lower the fatality rates on our local roadways. I also plan to work alongside our Fire Department to create a program that will provide tools and resources for our public safety professionals to increase their resiliency in an effort to help them live a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.”

Joseph Bennett grew up in the Smyrna area where he still resides with his wife Mary, his daughter Kaitlin, and son Joey. He is a graduate of Reinhardt College where he was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management and Leadership and graduated from Columbus State University with a Master’s Degree in Public Safety Administration. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Public Administration from Valdosta State University.

Deputy Chief Bennett is a graduate of the Mercer University Public Safety Leadership Institute, Class 50 of the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College, the 248th Session of the FBI National Academy, and the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Chief Bennett began his tenure with the City of Smyrna Police Department in March of 1995. During his tenure, he has held assignments in various positions within the police department to include Uniform Patrol Division, Community Oriented Policing Unit, Street Crimes Unit, Assistant Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, E-911 Director, and Commander of the Administrative Services Division. He served as a Marksman on the department’s SWAT Team for 10 years and was the Commander of the Team for three years.

Deputy Chief Bennett was named Optimist International Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 1997 and was a Cobb Chamber of Commerce Public Safety Recognition Awards Nominee in 2000 and 2015. He currently holds active memberships in the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, FBI National Academy Associates, and the Georgia 911 Directors Association. Chief Bennett holds Georgia POST certifications as an Intermediate and Advanced Peace Officer as well as Supervisory, Management, and Instructor Certificates. In his off time, he enjoys jogging, biking, and spending time with his family.


The Braves ballpark, originally known as SunTrust Park, has a new name. In mid-January Truist and the Atlanta Braves revealed the new name and look of our ballpark. We are excited to share the new logo and a few renderings with you so you can see what the new name will look like inside and outside of the park, said a Braves executive. 

            During the renaming event,Truist also announced that they will refurbish one youth baseball/softball field a year for the next ten years and dedicate them to our home run king, Hank Aaron.

            It was also announced that for the month of April (except for Opening Day) kids can come to a Braves game for free, courtesy of Truist. Beginning March 2, fans can come by the OnUp Experience in The Battery Atlanta to sign up and then go to the Braves ticket windows to redeem (more details to come).

            For full information about the Truist Park experience visit

Carrying On After Allan

The Bright Side is a good-news newspaper, but every now and then a cloud passes over the sun. A dark cloud passed over the Bright Side family – and the Lipsett family – last week with the passing of Allan Lipsett.

He and I have published the Bright Side as a team since 2007. It is a joy to bring you the news of the Smyrna, Vinings and South Cobb area, introduce you to new businesses, and keep you posted on the latest events. Allan and I have worked together to bring you the news each month, and now the Bright Side will continue without his important and steady hand.

Our family is so grateful for the kind outpouring of love from the community. From the Jonquil City Kiwanis Club to the Smyrna, Vinings, and South Cobb Business Associations, to taking pictures at many events around town, Allan spent many days in this community and both of us have made many friends.

For those who did not know Allan, or who have not yet seen it, you can see a glimpse of the interesting life he led here or in this month’s Bright Side, which is now arriving at homes and available at various places in the area. We are proud to share this month’s issue, late though it is. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Know that the Bright Side will continue. It must, if only because we know Allan would have wanted it to.

-Cathy Lipsett, Publisher

Santa House Opens

Bring your wish list and have your picture taken with Santa at the Santa House at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin in December.

Visit with Santa and have your picture taken at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin 2875 Atlanta Road, Smyrna.

This event is co-sponsored by the City of Smyrna and the Smyrna Optimist Club.

Santa House Schedule is 6 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 6 – 7; 13 – 15; and 20 – 23.

WellStar Vinings Health Place Is VBA Business of Year

WellStar Vinings Health Park was named the Vinings Business Association’s “2019 Vinings Business or Organization of the Year.” The award was presented Dec. 3.

WellStar and the three other finalists were presented at the November luncheon to their business ideas and successes. Other finalists include Cobb Community Foundation, Cumberland Community Improvement District (CID), and Crispina Ristorante & Pizzeria.

“All of these nominees are winners,” said Chairman Glenn Christian. “We have been working to get the word out that Vinings is a special place.”

Loretta Usry, executive director, Health Parks South, thanked the VBA. We have everything yunder one roof.

 “We have been in the running for this quite a while and we are thrilled to be in the community. We provide many services to the community and we give back to the community in part through our indigent care fun,” she said.

The Vinings Health Park has been open for two years and its 162,000 sq. ft. building at Atlanta Road near I-285 is fully occupied.

“The whole concept is one stop shopping,” said Joe Brywczynski, senior vice president of WellStar Health Park Development. “We hope you are wowed by your experience.”

The third of five WellStar Health Parks, Vinings saw 200,000 patients the first year and some 250,000 the second.

The three other nominees include:

Andriano Djula and Raffaele Crispino opened Crispina Ristorante & Pizzeria at Paces Mill and Cobb Parkway some five years ago.

The restaurant and the newly opened Crispina Grill in the same shopping center provide a traditional Neapolitan style, southern Italian menu.

Djula said, “We work together and provide excellent family tradition recipes.”

 When we opened it would not have been possible without working with local schools and supporting the local businesses.

The Cobb Community Foundation works with some 500 non-profits, using a donor advised funding model to collect and disperse contributions. Currently it oversees some $550,000 in funds.

“We have one purpose and that’s to support the nonprofits in Cobb and encourage giving,” said Bruce Clayton, board chairman.

The Cumberland area has grown since the Cumberland Community Improvement District (CID) was formed some 31 years ago.

Kyethea Clark, Director of Operations for the CID, said this was the first CID in Georgia as commercial property owners agreed to tax themselves to fund transportation and community improvements.

Three decades ago the area was retail and office/commercial but has added many residential properties in the past several years. “Jobs and  Housing has balanced out to make this a more vibrant area,” she said. “Now you have people who stay here to do things, such as go to the Battery.”

Lewis Wheaton Takes Ward 7 Post

Lewis Wheaton was appointed as Smyrna’s newest city council member at a special called meeting of the Smyrna City Council on Nov. 14 to complete the term of Ron Fennel for Ward 7 to end Dec. 31.

Wheaton was elected to the Ward 7 post for a four-year term and will fill the post left vacant by the resignation of Ron Fennel until the end of the year.

Mayor Max Bacon recommended that Wheaton be sworn in soon after the election was certified. Wheaton was sworn in by Cobb County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Childs. His wife Teri held the Bible while he recited the oath as provided by the judge. Wheaton’s family, friends and Cub Scout troop also were present for the event.

He is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech, according to the city website. Also, he has an adjunct appointment in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

Since his arrival at Georgia Tech in 2008, he has been the director of the Cognitive Motor Control Laboratory, which has a goal of improving rehabilitation outcomes in people with brain injury. Wheaton also has been actively involved in rehabilitation policy within Georgia as a Governor-appointed member of the State Rehabilitation Council, a congressionally mandated council that oversees the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.

Born in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania and reared in Petersburg, Va., he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Radford University in 1999 and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in College Park in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences in 2005. Wheaton was a fellow at the Baltimore (Maryland) Veterans Affairs Medical Center from 2005 to 2008 before moving to Smyrna.

He and his wife Teri have sons Lewis Jr. and Joshua, and they are active members of Powers Ferry Road Church of Christ.

From the December 2019 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.