Monday, February 25, 2019

Community Meeting notes (2/25/2019)

Swag for your porch! Thanks to Rebecca Huynh Thongkham
for adapting her winning MANA logo design.
Brief notes from tonight's meeting:

Unveiled, and available for pre-order soon.... the MANA banner!  We still have pillows available... Paypal purchase options coming soon.

Medlock Neighborhood Patrol: membership is on a revolving basis (renewable once/year from the date when you first sign up). Leslie gave us some examples of how having a patrol presence has helped address concerns very quickly.

ICS will hold a lantern parade again this year on Friday March 1, 6-7:30pm. They start at the Medlock Park pavillion, proceed on to Gaylemont, Desmond, Scott and back to the park. They are looking for volunteers. If you can assist, email

Fernbank PTA representatives gave lots of great information about what to expect following our redistricting to Laurel Ridge. They emphasized visiting the Fernbank PTA (Foundation) website (this is a separate, complementary website to the school district website at
- there will be a new family open house on March 13
- parent tours are available monthly
- clubs
Sample of club offerings at
Fernbank Elementary. Click to enlarge.
- play date for new families on May 4 (3-5pm)
- Fernbank's annual PTA fundraiser is on March 15 (Trolley Bar at Inman Park)
- Summer camps will be available for students newly redistricted to Fernbank (as well as all students in the cluster). They will cover they whole month of June, $125 per child per week, 8am -5pm. Registration deadline is in April.
- They have a music teacher (chorus for 4th graders, band for 5th graders; strings taught in middle school).
- art program for all students
- carpool is very efficient
- Parents with questions should contact the front office.
- pre-K lottery on March 13
Also see our previous post on redistricting here.

School facts, pg. 2.
The Fernbank PTA members also shared these documents:

School facts. Click to enlarge.
Theresa took a moment to celebrate and appreciate Larry Diehl's long commitment to service through his participation in the DeKalb Planning's Community Council. Larry is stepping down after many many years representing our area. The Community Council meets 6 times/year and reviews proposals pertaining to District 2 (special land use and zoning). The Commissioners consider recommendations from their staff and the Community Council as they deliberate proposals brought to the County for consideration. If you might be interested in serving in this committee, please contact for more information.

Theresa gave a zoning update that pretty much followed her report on our latest newsletter (pdf). Please see her article as well as a Q&A with Commissioner Rader that focused on the withdrawal of plans for North DeKalb Mall's redevelopment.

The need for a left-turn signal at the Medlock intersection was brought up.  Given this intersection is controlled by GDOT, we discussed that it may be time to bring our concerns to our state representatives. Also, we should soon see some improvements to signals and crosswalks for the intersection.

Jonah McDonald, the new park naturalist for Medlock Park, Mason Mill Park, Ira B. Melton Park and the South Peachtree Creek PATH, greeted the audience and explained he has been directed to:
1) to coordinate volunteer efforts at these parks
2) develop programs for the public (such as nature and history hikes, he's also a story teller)
3) be a presence in the parks and coordinate maintenance and safety concerns/requests.
Jonah's office is at the Senior Center at Mason Mill Park but he's at the trails regularly.
We had featured Jonah's book (Hiking Atlanta's Hidden Forests) a few years back as it included hikes as it referenced our neighborhood's Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve and the South Peachtree Creek PATH.
Jonah's in the process of setting up a Facebook page and already can be followed on Instagram and Twitter.

Ed Fowler reminded us of "CAKE with a Cop" at City BBQ. They are apparently serving chocolate cake instead of coffee! This is on Wednesday Feb 27.

The last order of business was an uncontested (re)election of MANA president (Lynn Ganim), vice-president (Sharon Johnson), Secretary (Ted Ward, new role, although he remains as our greenspace coordinator too) and Treasurer (Charlie Charoenlap). Thank you for your service, folks!
Thanks to all who attended!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Support Needed: DeKalb Co. Ethics Board

Many of us remember that voters approved the establishment of a much-needed DeKalb County ethics board a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, because of the way its members were selected, its existence was challenged and undone in court. (For a brief history and update see

There is action in the legislature this year to undo that damage and create a new ethics board whose members must come more directly from the voters or their representatives than the earlier version. This action should resolve the problems the court found and create a strong, objective, and independent ethics watchdog group. But there is also the predictable opposition.This issue is important for the future of the county and the integrity of OUR government. The MANA Board urges you to contact the following members of the DeKalb County delegation to the Georgia House of Representatives as soon as possible to let them know how you feel.

Previous MANA posts pertaining to ethics reform in DeKalb can be accessed through this link.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Medlock neighborhood redistricted to Fernbank Elementary

The Dekalb County School District has finalized its attendance zone review and on February 4, 2019 approved the redistricting of Medlock children from Laurel Ridge Elementary to Fernbank Elementary. Attendance to Druid Hills Middle and High Schools remains unchanged. Fernbank Elementary is authorized to teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme and is located in the Druid Hills neighborhood.

New Fernbank Elementary attandance map (in green), approved Feb 4, 2019.
Medlock Area Neiborhood Association homes are outlined in bright pink.
Please refer to full-size map at Click to enlarge
This announcement is not unexpected (multiple meetings are documented in the DCSD website, with the final approval available here). The news is still bittersweet for many. As is the case for most neighborhoods, our elementary schools have served as community engagement cores as parents partner with local teachers and administrators in the care and education of the little ones. When Medlock Elementary closed in the spring of 2011, that focus primarily turned to Laurel Ridge Elementary (and later, also to the International Community School, a DeKalb K-5 charter school that relocated to the old Medlock Elementary site). Laurel Ridge welcomed Medlock's kids and parents with open arms and, with an influx of young families moving to our neighborhood, grew by leaps and bounds in recent years.

Laurel Ridge is now beyond capacity, and, as an older school, the physical plant is in need of upgrades. Enter Fernbank Elementary, whose prior buildings (circa 1957) were replaced by a new, larger facility that opened in 2015. Since reopening at 157 Heaton Park Drive, Fernbank has also welcomed school children from the Cross Keys attendance zone while a new facility for the John R. Lewis Elementary was built. As the new John R. Lewis school opens in Fall 2019,  Cross Keys children will leave Fernbank, passing the baton to our Medlock kids (as well as others, please see the new attendance map here). Elementary is helping the transition as follows:
"If you are a parent who is being redistricted into Fernbank's attendance zone, we are excited your family will be joining us! We are planning some things for you:
  • One evening in March, we will host an open house for parents and students alike. This date and more details will be announced soon! 
  • On Saturday, May 4th, at 3pm, we will be holding a "family play date" on our playground and back field. This will be an opportunity for our existing Fernbank families to welcome, mix and mingle with our new ones before school lets out. 
  • For all new families who will be joining Fernbank in the fall, we will be extending an invite (and accepting new members) to join our Fernbank Parent Facebook group once the cluster redistricting is finalized."
Additionally, campus tours are available as outlined in its Future Students page at Please visit Fernbank's website for information on the Pre-K lottery. Also note that Fernbank is inviting new and transfer students to participate in their summer camp