Sunday, July 29, 2012

Around the neighborhood

At the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve:
The pond is pretty dry but so lush and green!
Below are two trees that sustained fire damage after lighting struck the tool shed last year.  You can see the scorched bark still. The tree to the left is now dead and has been left standing (for the benefit of wildlife) but the top was removed was removed for safety purposes. Notice the mushrooms growing on it (a sign of dead wood, as was noted on a recent item on tree care). Compare that to the new growth on the tree to the right, which had some limbs removed due to fire damage.
Click to enlarge.
Elsewhere, a fall webworm colony on a branch overhanging the creek. You can see some little wrigglers inside (around 11 o'clock on the silk tent). The adults are small, white, nocturnal moths.
Click to enlarge.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Selig: Suburban Plaza development update

Selig Enterprises has asked MANA to share the following:
Click to enlarge, or see pdf file link below.
Click for above statement in PDF format.

Addendum: for discussions on this release, see Decatur Metro and The Champion newspaper and Neighborhood News.

T-SPLOST: hyperlocal and blue chip support

Johnathan Shapiro at WABE, our NPR & PBS radio station, interviewed MANA president Sharon Johnson and other locals in Much at Stake for Clifton Corridor Rail In Upcoming T-SPLOST.

Elsewhere, the Atlanta Business Chronicle lists close to two dozen local businesses that have made substantial contributions to the T-SPLOST campaign.

The AJC continues coverage as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

West Nile Virus is back in town

DeKalb has reported the first West Nile virus-infected mosquito of the season via the AJC. No human cases have been reported for this year, but Georgia usually reports 10-20 cases/year.

According to CDC's fact sheet on West Nile virus

  • Most people who are infected with West Nile virus (80%) experience no ill effects. 
  • Up to 20% experience symptoms such as "fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks."
  • Under 1% experience severe symptoms: "high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
  • People over 50 years of age are more likely to experience symptoms.
The virus persists year-round but is a primary concern during warm weather, when adult mosquitoes are most active.  As a neighborhood rich in creeks and floodplains (potential breeding ground), animals (many domestic and wild animals may function as year-round reservoir for virus), and outdoorsy folks, we should protect ourselves and our neighbors by checking for and eliminating standing water sources that may be used as mosquito breeding areas at least on a weekly basis and avoiding  mosquito bites via protective clothing and application of insect repellent.

The NY Department of Health offers the following advice:

See MANA's 2011 mosquito warning and the Georgia State Department mosquito-borne disease page.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

T-SPLOST: The senior perspective

The AJC has an item focusing on the needs of a demographic that is closely watching the Atlanta-area transportation debate: baby boomers. According to census figures, the metro Atlanta region's 20 counties is home to 1.3 million people aged 48 and older. With advancing years, people may face mobility issues as well as transportation worries (in particular, those who can no longer drive but live in areas that are not walkable and also lack public transportation). As expected, some seniors are in favor while others do not see how the referendum will benefit them.

The Atlanta Regional Commission acknowledges this trend in their website and has a section on aging resources. One of their foci is Lifelong Communities, which emphasizes housing, transportation, and healthy lifestyles throughout an individual's lifespan.

MANA is part of the Toco Hills Naturally Occurring Aging Communities (NORC). Per their website, 15.7% of residents in this area are 65 or older.  Compare that to the county at large (8.6%) and to the nation as a whole (13.3%).

AJC's coverage of the T-SPLOST vote is summarize in this page.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

That quintessential sound of summer

Cicadas feature in both mythology and cuisine and provide the soundtrack for the dog days of summer. This time of year, cicadas emerge from the ground as mature nymphs that molt into their adult form while clinging to nearby trees. Below are some images of a Medlock-bred cicada of the genus Tibecen.

Recently emerged cicada (left) and the exoskeleton it wore as a nymph. Notice the vertical slit on the nymph's exoskeleton through which the adult emerged.  Also note bits of dirt and sand on the molted shell, pointing to the nymph's recent whereabouts. Click to enlarge.
This annual cicada's colors will deepen to mostly black and forest green as her exoskeleton dries. The process continued off-camera, as negotiations with the photographer broke down around this point...

As found, and approximately 2.5 hours later. Click image to enlarge.
We come in peace! Notice the large compound eyes at either side of the head and between them, the ocelli (set of 3 simple eyes that detect light)Click image to enlarge.
This is a female and won't be singing for us. With some luck, her sons will serenade us next year. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good morning, sunshine

Peachy at dawn, with a crescent moon.
Close up, also at dawn today: waxing crescent moon with Venus (at 6 o'clock) and Jupiter (at 12 o'clock).

Friday, July 13, 2012

ICS Volunteer Days [Aug. 4 and 11]

from the  International Community School...

We have been busy planning a few volunteer workdays on the Medlock grounds in anticipation for the school's opening.

Saturday, August 4th and Saturday, August 11th we plan to work primarily on the garden as it needs another round of weeding as well as other projects beautifying the school grounds. (we would like to have two shifts on each day. shifts will be from 8-12 and from 12-4). Water will be provided.

Please keep in mind we will not be able to provide child are, so these events are targeted for children 13 and older and adults.

Please email the volunteer coordinator, Laura Grundy at to get your name on the info list.

If you have already expressed your interest to volunteer and have spoken with Laura, your name is already on the contact list.

Thank you! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Map of property assessment changes (2011-2012)

via CHCA website...

Commissioner Rader shares a map highlighting changes in county residential property assessments for 2011-2012. Visit the CHCA website to view a full-size map and read the rest of Commissioner Rader's statement.

This image highlights changes to our neighborhood; see CHCA link for full-size county map.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Latest News on Suburban Plaza Redevelopment

from Theresa Same, MANA Zoning Chair

Our cross-neighborhood committee met with Selig on June 27th for our first design and redevelopment meeting. As a result, I have some new design concepts to share with you as well as some general updates on the project.

Detail of façade; click to enlarge. Additional renderings appear below.

Design – Selig has hired Associated Space Design (ASD) to design the redevelopment of Suburban Plaza (SP). ASD recently designed the Shops Around Lennox near Lennox Mall. The redevelopment at SP will have some similar design concepts that you see at the Shops Around Lenox and yet will have a unique look as they attempt to blend the many different architectural styles found in the Decatur area.  ASD began this design process by studying the architecture of the surrounding areas (which varies greatly). They identified the following as dominant styles in the area: Modern-retro Industrial, American Traditional, Modern Deco, Urban Chic, and Italianate Classical. ASD then began creating a plan for SP that attempts to incorporate design elements from all of these styles. The attached renderings are preliminary design concepts for the façade renovation at SP.  The design process is always mutable, and changes should be expected as the plans are further refined.

I wanted to point out a few design elements that I find most interesting.  The mixture of building materials will likely include brick, metal, wood, stucco, glass, etc. This adds interest and texture to the buildings. There is an attempt to differentiate the storefronts with variation in the signage and adding facades so that the building will not longer appear flat and one-dimensional. The new design removes the existing canopy over the front of the building, allowing additional greenery and landscaping to be added to the storefronts and parking area.

Walmart is responsible for the design of their building.  Once Selig has selected the final material/color palate for the redevelopment, Walmart will incorporate similar elements to create a cohesive look for the shopping center.

Selig has also hired Bilson and Associates to complete the landscaped design and they will continue to work with Perkins and Will on the site layout and design.

Permitting/Schedule/Process – Walmart submitted plans for their land disturbance permit in early June. They are currently addressing county comments and anticipate submitting revised drawings by the end of this month.

Demolition and renovation of the existing shopping center remains on schedule to begin in the first half of 2013.

After permits are secured and necessary tenant leases are terminated, Selig Enterprises, Inc., as master developer of the project, will be responsible for all building demolition (including the site of the new Walmart) in preparation for new construction. This includes approximately 80,000 sf of building. Selig, owner of over 250 commercial buildings in the metro Atlanta area, has a reputation for following proper protocol and regulated procedures during demolition, material handling and remediation and we expect nothing different on this project.

Leasing – Selig is in continuing talks with several national retailers and local businesses who are interested in locating at the redeveloped Suburban Plaza. They plan to announce the new tenants in the coming weeks.

Please continue to check the website for the most recent information on the Suburban Plaza redevelopment.

Red on yellow, kill a fellow...

If you worry about how to identify poisonous snakes, insects and plants, consider signing up for free classes being offered by DeKalb County.

Registration is free but reservations are required. See the AJC article for details.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve work day [July 14]

From Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve acting president Gene Beck:
Event Date and Time:  07/14/2012 - 9:00am - 12:00pm 
Come lend a hand this Saturday 9 to 12 at the nature preserve. Join us for mulching, weeding and general clean-up and see the progress being made on our new kiosk and invasive plant removal through out the preserve. Do you have a wheel barrel? Please bring it as we have to mulch lots of trails! Can't volunteer this Saturday... but can help at other times? Reply to and we will get in touch to use your help.
Please reply if you will be attending so we can plan for volunteer numbers.

Zaxby's now open (N. Druid Hills, next to North DeKalb Mall)

... located at 3809 N. Druid Hills Road, next to the North DeKalb Mall. The new 3,400-square-foot location will seat 96 in Zaxby’s unique design — a bright, open interior décor complemented by custom vintage prints and school memorabilia. Zaxby’s also offers drive-thru services to meet the needs of customers on the go.
For those who like supporting local-ish businesses, here's the Zaxby's story: "Childhood friends Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley hatched the Athens, Ga.-based chain in 1990 to provide a fun, relaxing atmosphere that would keep guests coming back for more."

 For the full write-up, see

Good Growth DeKalb rally [July 13]

Good Growth DeKalb is hosting a rally at the Medlock/Scott Blvd./North Decatur Rd. intersection
July 13, 5-6:30pm
For more information see their website:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Civic Association Network Candidates Fair [July 9]

Civic Association Network (CAN)  Candidates Fair
7-9 pm, Tonight July 9th
Hellenic Community Center / Greek Orthodox Cathedral
2500 Clairmont Rd NE, Atlanta 30329

MANA is a sponsor for this event where candidates are arranged at tables by the office they are seeking and YOU, the voter, circulate among them talking to the ones you want to know more about.  You might have a specific question OR you might just ask them what they plan to do better in that particular office OR what qualifies them to hold that office OR you might just chat to get a feeling for the person.

We hope to see you there!

What the heck is the Higgs boson?

The Economist has a great summary of why this is news.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

60% success rate for DeKalb property tax appeals [AJC]

The AJC reviewed finalized tax appeals for 11 Metro Atlanta counties and DeKalb appealers had some of the highest success rates, at 60%. Other notables: Clayton, Fayette and Gwinnett (75-80%),  Cherokee (60%), Fulton (57%), Henry and Forsyth (56%). "Success" reflects a 10%+ reduction relative to the tax bill being appealed.
Dissatisfied owners can seek a reduction in value through three procedural levels. First they appeal to the local board of tax assessors. If they don’t get what they think is fair, they can turn to a board of equalization, a citizen panel that conducts formal hearings. If they’re still not satisfied, they can appeal to Superior Court.
See the AJC article for recommendations of what documents to bring to your appeals hearing.

The appeal deadline for DeKalb is July 14.  Follow this link for  instructions on how to appeal in DeKalb county.