Thursday, February 26, 2009

Second Roswell home invasion suspect surrenders

The second suspect wanted in the Jan. 8 home invasion at Roswell's Horseshoe Bend subdivision turned himself in Feb. 20, said Roswell police.

Reuben A. Allen, 30, of Lawrenceville was accompanied by his lawyer, said James McGee, a spokesman for the Roswell police department. He was booked into Fulton County Jail the next day on charges of aggravated assault and armed robbery.

McGee — who had earlier called for Allen to give himself up saying it was just a "matter of time" before police caught him — said he has been uncooperative in the investigation, as was the first suspect arrested, 25-year-old Joseph J. Marino of Atlanta.

"He has not been talking to us," said McGee. "Maybe to his lawyer, but not us."

McGee said though Marino was arrested Jan. 15 for drug possession and charged in the home invasion two days later, he did not give police any information on Allen or his whereabouts.

"We had pretty good information from other sources," he said.

Allen has been wanted for questioning in conjunction with the home invasion since Jan. 22, when police sent out his mug shot and warned the public he was considered armed and dangerous. According to Fulton Jail records, Allen also was arrested in September 2008 for hit and run in Sandy Springs, a crime for which he was sentenced in state court.

McGee said having Allen's face and name was a useful piece of information that lead to his capture — but he didn't release much more. He said earlier in the investigation that Horseshoe Bend residents have been integral in finding the two men.

"I don't want to narrow things down," he said. "Everything we got helped us out in this case, including the information from Sandy Springs."

Allen and Marino are accused of waiting for the owner of Sandy Springs' Happy Hocker Pawn Shop outside his Steeple Chase Pointe home Jan. 8. When the man went outside to walk his dogs at 10 p.m., they allegedly pistol whipped him, then tied him, his wife, 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son up in the home.

"They were all roughed up, especially the husband," said McGee at the time of the incident.

The men took an undisclosed amount of money — which police believed was the motive of the crime — and escaped on foot while the family managed to call 911.

McGee said though Marino is facing more charges than Allen currently, it should not be assumed that he was the ringleader or did the beating.

"By the nature of their both being there they are both necessarily culpable," he said.

The family was taken to North Fulton Regional Hospital that night, where they were checked out and released.

McGee said police are being tight lipped because there is still information "out there" integral to the case.

"Even though we've got folks in jail on this case, we're still looking at it," he said. "It's not a done deal."

More on this story available on

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Atlantan guilty in arson involving Alpharetta, Gainesville men

A jury late Wednesday convicted Boyd Smith, 40, of Atlanta,on a charge of conspiring to commit an arson at "Club Onyx," an adult entertainment establishment in Atlanta.

Smith was immediately remanded into custody and awaits sentencing. Two other co-defendants, including an Alpharetta man, were previously convicted and testified against Smith during the trial, which lasted six days. The jury returned its verdict after four hours of deliberation.

According to U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias and the evidence presented in court: Smith conspired with Sandeo Pablo Dyson, 45, of Gainesville and Howard "Bit" Thrower, 51, of Alpharetta, to burn down Club Onyx, an adult entertainment club. That club was a direct rival of "Platinum 21," a club then operated by Smith and Thrower, and where Dyson worked security.

Dyson pleaded guilty on April 24, 2008. Thrower, the corporate manager of Platinum 21, pleaded guilty to the arson conspiracy on Jan. 29, 2009.

All three defendants will be sentenced on May 11 at 3 p.m. All face a minimum mandatory term of five years in custody and a maximum term of twenty years in custody.

The investigation had begun on Jan. 2, 2007, when the ATF and the City of Atlanta Fire Department were called to a fire at Club Onyx, which is located at 1888 Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta. An internal surveillance system that was not destroyed by the blaze showed a male figure moving about the club after it had been locked and alarmed by management. The jury saw video evidence of the individual starting the fire and then hurrying beyond the range of the cameras and out of the building.

The owners of Club Onyx spent nearly $1 million to rebuild and had to keep the club shuttered for more than six months.

"Arson is a serious and dangerous offense, whether it involves a day care center or a strip club," said Nahmias. "This defendant's conspiracy with two other men could have resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians and firefighters. Today's verdict ensures that Smith will join his co-conspirators in prison for a long time."

For several months, investigators were unable to develop any leads on the arson. A break in the case occurred in August and September, 2007, when the ATF and the FBI learned that Thrower was involved in the arson. Thrower, the corporate manager of Platinum 21, worked with Smith and Dyson to devise a plan to burn Club Onyx, which had recently converted from a predominantly white club to a venue catering to an African-American clientele.

The evidence showed that Club Onyx's conversion had an immediate and severe impact on Platinum 21's business and Thrower, Smith and Dyson ultimately determined that action was necessary to shut Onyx down so that Platinum 21 would continue to keep its profit levels. The evidence showed that Dyson was paid $5,000 by Smith and Thrower to do the burn, which he executed on Jan. 2, 2007, just after the last employees had left the building

"Regardless of motive, arson is a crime of violence," said Special Agent in Charge Gregory Gant of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Atlanta Field Division. "Law enforcement brought to bear all of our resources and expertise in solving this crime. These men should consider themselves lucky that no one was hurt as a result of their deliberate and malicious acts."

FBI Atlanta Special Agent In Charge Greg Jones said of the verdict, "Business owners should not have to fear extreme acts of violence from greedy, lawless competitors. The public rightfully expects such criminals to pay for their violent crimes, and we are pleased to have joined forces with our partners at ATF in bringing these defendants to justice."

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the ATF and the FBI. Assistance has also been provided in this case by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and the Atlanta Fire Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahra S. Karinshak and Robert C.I. McBurney are prosecuting the case.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Atlanta’s Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Launches New Live Production

North America’s longest running and most popular dinner attraction is about to “get medieval” all over again.
The local Medieval Times castle in Gwinnett County will launch the show in February 2009.
During 2008, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament announced the rollout of a completely new show – the company’s first since 2003 – blending a two-hour live performance by two- and four-legged performers with a utensil-free meal served in a castle-inspired 1,100-seat arena.
The Georgia castle is the final U.S. castle to launch the new show, as the popular Atlanta attraction had the previous show since opening during summer 2006.
More than 30 months in the making, the new Medieval Times production includes audience favorites such as live jousting, swordplay, horsemanship and falconry. Guests are taken back in time and encouraged to cheer for one of six knights of the realm, named after historic regions of medieval Spain.
In addition to a new script, the production includes new lighting, choreography and battle scenes, new horse dressage elements – executed by Medieval Times’ famed Andalusian stallions – and a new soundtrack composed in the USA and performed by the Czech Republic-based Czech Film Orchestra. A new theatrical element, Medieval Times’ first use of a high-output snow machine, also adds an unexpected magical element to the guest experience.
Creators of the new Medieval Times production say non-stop action, rather than snowflakes, will keep first-time visitors and returning fans on the edge of their seats.
“The festivities open with a sneak attack on the show’s hero, a prince sent by his father the king to deliver a peace treaty,” said Medieval Times Creative Director Leigh Cordner. “While the audience enjoys a feast and authentic tournament of knights, the action unfolds in the arena with elements of high drama and romance as the hero’s young bride and king await word of the prince’s fate.”
The new show first debuted at Medieval Times in Dallas, near the company’s new headquarters in Irving, Texas, with Medieval Times rolling out the 2008 production at eight other castles throughout last year. Audiences in Georgia and surrounding areas can start enjoying the new show in early February.

Cordner said the process to launch the new Medieval Times production began during spring 2005, about two years after the most recent production process was completed. The timeline to make the two-hour live productions a reality began with the gathering of ideas and feedback from virtually every department at Medieval Times.
Leading the process for the second time in his 30-year tenure at Medieval Times, Cordner and his co-creators collaborated with management, actors and actresses while remaining ever-mindful of the horses – each with their own choreography and experience levels – and their trainers, as well as sound technicians, lighting experts, costume designers and food and bar service operations team members’ input. Each department works in tandem on every one of Medieval Times’ 3,600 annual performances, and Cordner said each team has a checklist of special needs that must be met in order to deliver a production of consistently high quality.
“After gathering ideas from everyone, we started putting things on paper, and it is challenging to incorporate all of the fine details of our operations,” said Cordner. “For example, you can’t have the biggest battle scenes or ‘in the dark drama’ play out while the meal’s main course is served – you want the audience to be engaged and entertained with a story they want to witness and characters they want to cheer, or jeer, depending on the scene.”
Creation of many new production details was inspired directly from guest feedback. Medieval Times looked at audience comments received at the castles and via, and took customer responses and ideas to heart while crafting the new show.
“Fans told us they wanted more action, chivalry and romance, and the new script delivers all of these elements,” said Cordner. “We added the prince – a new character created for this show – and separate him from his princess and kingdom to add to the drama.”
During the openings of the new show in other cities, audiences have responded favorably to the new “prince/princess” drama, as well as the new soundtrack composed for the show.

The new Medieval Times script also challenged the knights and production team on the technology front. For the first time, one of the six knights in each performance – the Green Knight, who emerges as the story’s villain – has a speaking role through many key scenes.
“In the past, the knights did not have speaking roles because they could not be wired for sound during their precision-choreographed fights,” said Medieval Times Corporate Head Knight Tim Baker. “We worked with the knights and designed a custom-fitted wireless microphone pack, sort of an abbreviated sports bra or undershirt that fits under their armor across the chest.”
The new wireless microphone holder has tested well in early performances, and will likely be replicated to expand speaking roles for future shows, with one catch.
“The knights are pretty candid with each other during the battle scenes, so our sound team has to keep on their toes to be sure only the right knight chatter is heard by the audiences,” said Baker.
For the new show, the sound and light teams worked with Cordner, Baker and the cast to create new lighting and sound queues. Each castle has a multi-million-dollar sound and intelligent lighting system.
“There are more than 120 sound queues connected to the music alone, and since no two shows are exactly the same in terms of the knight tournament, battles and horse dressage elements, our sound and light team members are always on their toes,” said Baker.
Baker also oversaw the new choreography for three equestrian segments of the new show, involving new routines for the Andalusian stallions.
Medieval Times Entertainment launched in Majorca, Spain, in 1973, and opened its first North American Castle in Kissimmee, Fla., in 1983. Now regarded as North America’s longest running and most popular dinner attraction, more than 40 million guests have experienced Medieval Times at Castles in Buena Park, Calif., Schaumburg, Ill., Hanover, Md., Lyndhurst, N.J., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Dallas, Atlanta, and Toronto, Ont., Canada. In 2007, the company moved its North American headquarters to Irving, Texas, close to the company’s Chapel Creek Ranch in Sanger, Texas. Medieval Times is online at and reachable at 1-888-WE-JOUST (888-935-6878).

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Alpharetta celebrates Arbor Day at Wills Park

Arbor Day comes to Alpharetta Saturday, Feb. 21, and the city will hold its 19th celebration at Wills Park this year.

This nationally celebrated holiday encourages tree planting and care through educational programs. The festivities will be held off of Old Milton Parkway in the pavilion behind Mansell House starting at 10 a.m. and last until 2 p.m..

As with last year, the ongoing drought has shifted the focus from planting trees to an event filled with educational activities for the entire family. Earth Friendly games, a Victorian scavenger hunt called Letterboxes and an interactive puppet show will be part of the scheduled children events. In addition, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will have badge earning opportunities including Brownie Try It points.

Workshops will be held on tree planting, how to make a rain barrel and water conservation. Informative guided tours of the new Alpharetta Arboretum at Wills Park will also be available.

One ceremonial tree will be planted in Wills Park in keeping with Arbor Day tradition. The planting and recognition ceremonies will begin at 11 a.m.

During the ceremonies the winners of the annual Arbor Day Art Contest will be announced. The contest, which drew 130 entrants this year, was open to children from first through eighth grade who drew their interpretation of the importance of Arbor Day.

The event is a project of the Alpharetta Tree Commission and is being coordinated by commissioners Becky Beal, David Cox and David Flannery.

Volunteer supporters include the Alpharetta Garden Club, Alpharetta, High School Key Club, Amana Academy, Milton High School Environment Club and St. Aiden's EYC.

For more information, contact City Arborist Nancy Beckemeyer at 678-297-6000.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

North Fulton, Forsyth businesses might be scam targets

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration is not sending letters to small businesses asking for bank account information to qualify them for federal tax rebates. It's a scam.

The SBA issued a scam alert today to small businesses. The fraudulent letters were sent out with what appears to be an SBA letterhead to small businesses across the country, advising recipients that they may be eligible for a tax rebate under the Economic Stimulus Act, and that SBA is assessing their eligibility for such a rebate. The letter asks the small business to provide the name of its bank and account number.

These letters have not been sent by or authorized by the SBA, and all small businesses are strongly advised not to respond to them.

The scheme is similar in many ways to e-mail scams often referred to as "phishing" that seek personal data and financial account information that enables another party to access and individual's bank accounts or to engage in identity theft.

The SBA is working with the SBA Office of Inspector General to investigate this matter. The Office of Inspector General asks that anyone who receives such a letter report it to the OIG Fraud Line at 1 800-767-0385, or e-mail at

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Monday, February 16, 2009

$18K in cell phones stolen from North Point store

Alpharetta police are investigating a Feb. 12 burglary of the T Mobile store on North Point Parkway in which thieves stole 70 cell phones worth roughly $18,000.

According to Alpharetta police, the store's alarm was activated a few minutes before 1:15 a.m. Officers were at the store in two minutes and found the front glass door shattered.

Investigation revealed two interior doors were forced open by a sledge hammer, said authorities.

The burglary is under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Division.

The Alpharetta Department of Public Safety reminds business owners to remain vigilant, especially while opening and closing their businesses. With the economy being one factor, the department has seen an increase in the "smash and grab" type incidents in the metro Atlanta area.

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Sex offender charged in 2-year-old's death

A 39-year-old convicted sex offender is in jail, charged with beating his girlfriend's young son to death at her Catalina Drive home Feb. 13.

Christopher B. Gilreath is in Forsyth Jail without bond, charged with aggravated battery, cruelty to children and felony murder in connection with the death of 2-year-old Joshua Pinckney, said Capt. Paul Taylor, Commander of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division.

He was arrested at the home on charges of possession of a firearm — a handgun — by a convicted felon and failure to register as a sex offender in Georgia when authorities were called to the home shortly after 7 a.m. Taylor said Gilreath is a registered sex offender in Pennsylvania, where he last registered in 2005, and may have fled that state.

Gilreath was convicted of rape in 1996 in Tennessee according to the state's sex offender registry. However, the child does not appear to have been sexually assaulted.

"Preliminary investigations do not reveal indications of a sexual assault," said Taylor.

Capt. Frank Huggins, a spokesman with the Sheriff's Office, said investigators discovered Pinckney's body in the boy's bed. Taylor said that preliminary autopsy results at the GBI Crime Lab indicated the child suffered multiple blows to the head.

As the Sheriff's Office has not received a final report from the medical examiner, Taylor would not comment on the exact method of those blows.

The boy's mother, Miriam Pinckney, was home at the time, as was Gilreath, said authorities. Taylor would no comment on whether Pinckney knew her live-in boyfriend was a convicted sex offender.

The victim's 2-year-old sister was taken into protective custody on Feb. 13 and placed with DFACS. Both children were adopted, said investigators.

The investigation into the events surrounding the child's death are continuing, Taylor said, and the case is still active.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gwinnett, Atlanta's big twin sister

Gwinnett County has become Atlanta's twin sister, but a report card prepared by Norton Native Intelligence shows it is the bigger sibling with more to offer.

"Just let the numbers speak for themselves," said Frank Norton Jr., president of The Norton Agency in the company's report.

Gwinnett has an estimated population of 797,000, compared to Atlanta's 500,000 in 2008. The "big sister" is projected to grow to 930,000, but Atlanta only will gain another 55,000 residents in five years.

"In 2013, next door to North Georgia will live 1 million people in Gwinnett County," Norton said.

The county is growing at a rate of 16.7 percent. More than 65 percent of its residents have at least some college education. The power of the consumer in Gwinnett is $21 billion, but Atlanta resident's purchasing power is $15 billion.

"Atlanta may have a twin, but it's bigger and more powerful," Norton said.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Head on crash kills 22-year-old Duluth woman

A 22-year-old Duluth woman is dead after a head-on collision Feb. 7 on Webb Road, said Alpharetta police.

Investigators said the crash happened just after 2 p.m. adjacent to Alpharetta High School. Mechelle Mendez, who was driving a black 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier, hit a family of five in a white 2005 Volvo XC90.

Mendez was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center in critical condition, where she died.

Alpharetta Police spokesman George Gordon said the case is still under investigation, so no cause for the accident could be released.

The two adults in the Volvo and one child were transported to North Fulton Regional Hospital. The other two children in the Volvo were transported to Scottish Rite Hospital.

All have been released and are expected to make full recoveries, said Gordon.

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Forsyth County's No Longer Bound expanding ministry

No Longer Bound, the ministry on Pine Grove Road in Forsyth County that gives addicts a chance at redemption through self-help and prayer, is expanding its operations and making room for more 12 more clients at the same time.

Jeremy Edmondson, director of operations at No Longer Bound, is understandably proud of the newest addition to the South Forsyth campus, a 6,000-square-foot thrift store that will be yet another pillar of self-sufficiency to the non-profit organization.

"The new structure will provide low-cost items – mostly furniture and clothing – for the community and at the same time broaden our footprint," Edmondson said. "We get other items donated from time to time such as tools and construction materials. The sale of these items will go to helping us be more self-sufficient."

At the same time, the former thrift shop, a house donated and moved to the campus, has been turned into a new dormitory to provide room for 12 more men to enter No Longer Bound's program.

The steel structure was donated several years ago. Another $250,000 has gone into finishing the building that its architect estimates will have a value of $450,000. It will join a number of other small businesses that provide work for the clients as they make a contribution and regain self-worth as they work through the problems created by their addictions.

In addition to the thrift store is a greenhouse operation that produces 75,000 plants for sale each year, an automobile shop and a print shop.

The men work, eat and sleep together while they spend most evenings in Christ-centered therapy. More than 40 men live on the campus as they go through the program. The 12 beds freed up by the addition of the new thrift shop quarters reduce the waiting list of men who want to come and regain their lives, Edmondson said.

Clients pay $2,000 to enter the 10-month program that does not come close to paying for the $15,000 cost of their stay.

"What we have found, though, is that we double our success rate by requiring this fee," Edmondson said. "When we charged nothing, two-thirds of the men would drop out. Our graduation rate has more than doubled when we started the fee.

"It's like most things. People value something if it costs them something. If it's free, then people think it is of no value. If they have to invest in the program, they put more into it."

Next on the agenda is a $10,000 expansion of the dining room.

"But when you look at the men who put their lives back together, return to their wives and families. You can't really put a value on that," Edmondson said.

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Arrest made in rape/home invasions

The suspect in three recent armed home invasions – one in which a young woman was allegedly raped and sodomized –was arrested Monday night on an unconnected incident in Sandy Springs.

Within hours of his arrest Gregory Toumani Miller, 19, of Roswell, confessed to having committed an armed rape and home invasion Aug. 10 in the Huntington Farms apartment complex, said Alpharetta Detective Sean Woods.

He was charged with rape, armed robbery, aggravated sodomy, kidnapping and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony for the Aug. 10 incident, said Woods.

As of press time, Alpharetta Police was busy trying to tie Miller to an Aug. 4 armed home invasion at Lexington Farms and an armed assault Aug. 7 at the North Point Ford dealership.

"We're looking at him as a suspect, but we don't have anything yet to tie it together," said Woods.

Shortly after his arrest Roswell Police charged Miller – a known member of the Gangster Disciples street gang – with armed robbery and sexual battery resulting from a morning robbery Aug. 10 at Park Ridge Apartments in Roswell.

In the Aug. 10 home invasion in Huntington Farms – a short distance from Park Ridge – the victims told Alpharetta Police that Miller forced them into their apartment shortly before noon as they were returning home from grocery shopping.

"He made both of them strip. He tied up the male and then sexually assaulted the female," said Woods.

Miller then took the woman's ATM card, and her pin number at gunpoint and went to a nearby gas station on Old Roswell and took around $400 dollars out of her account, Woods said,.

With the victim's description of her attacker, police were able to create a lineup of potential suspects, including Miller, who recently had been arrested on a weapons charge. He was out on bond on that charge. The woman was able to identify Miller from the photo lineup and his picture was immediately put out an all-points bulletin.

"Based on the victim's positive ID, we were able to get search warrants and we served one [Monday, Aug. 14] on his mother's house, where he lives. He wasn't there, but we found items stolen from Huntington Farms," said Woods.

Later that night, Sandy Springs Police were called on a noise complaint to an apartment building, not far from Miller's mother's house on Hanover Place in Roswell.

Inside were a number of people smoking marijuana, including Miller. He was recognized and arrested and based on the alert Alpharetta Police had sent out three days earlier, Sandy Springs quickly notified them. According to Alpharetta detective Jimmy Rives, who serves on the FBI's Gang Task Force, Miller's street name is "Memphis."

"His father lives there. He's been in trouble for along time. I've arrested him in the past on gang activities. His brother, Anthony, was shot in the head and killed in 2004. He was a gang member, too," said Rives.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Two charged with arson in Jan. 18 Forsyth fire

The Forsyth County Fire Department Fire Investigations Division announced today two individuals have been charged with arson in the first degree in the Jan. 18 fire that occurred at the 8075 Lanier Drive residence of Pamela Graf in Cumming.
Those charged have been identified as Pamela Graf, 47, and Steven Strobel, 46.
The fire, which was heavily involved upon the Fire Department's arrival, resulted in a total loss of the structure.
"These charges are based on information obtained through scene investigation, interviews and search warrants," Fire Department Chief Investigator Steve Anderson said. "I would like to commend the entire Investigations Division staff for their fine and diligent work in this case."
Anderson noted the investigation is continuing and additional charges could be forthcoming.
Both Graf and Strobel were arrested on other charges February 3: Graf's arrest stemming from drug charges unrelated to the fire and Strobel being arrested on charges of obstruction of justice and giving false statements. Both remain in the Forsyth County Detention Center.
Working this case with the Forsyth County Fire Department Fire Investigations Division have been the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Milton looks to make Lagerbloom permanent City Manager

MILTON — City Hall officials announced Feb. 3 that Public Safety Director Chris Lagerbloom, who was sworn in for a third time as acting city manager the day before, is council's leading choice for the permanent position.

If there are any other candidates, nobody is saying.

Mayor Joe Lockwood appointed Lagerbloom, who at 11 months as interim manager has served as Milton's city manager longer than any of the three previous job holders. Lockwood said giving Lagerbloom the job permanently had been on his mind since Milton hired Mort Smedley to a four-month interim contract in October.

Smedley was an experienced manager, but he was also a semi-retired 2nd mate on a research vessel. He recently opted out of his contract a month early for more time at sea.

"Chris had expressed a desire for the job a while back," said the mayor.

Lockwood said Lagerbloom's assertiveness and comfort level with council, City Hall staff and Milton's citizens were big factors in his position as front runner for the permanent job.

He gained that experience after stepping into Milton's top spot from August to April 2008 following the resignation of Aaron Bovos. Lagerbloom filled in a second time after Billy Beckett left Milton in September 2008.

"You know, sometimes you don't truly find something until you come back home," said Lockwood.

Lagerbloom has been with Milton since before the city incorporated, serving as the Public Safety work team leader for the city's steering committee. On Dec. 1, 2006, he was appointed public safety director and oversaw the herculean task of launching the municipality's police and fire services, which went online nearly a year before those of sister city Johns Creek.

"I am very excited about this opportunity," said Lagerbloom. "Having lived in Milton for nearly two decades, I have a lot of faith in the city and would be honored to help lead Milton in this position."

Lockwood said what Lagerbloom may lack in classic city manager experience he more than makes up for other areas.

"We have the resources [for him to learn]," said the mayor. "He'll research something if he doesn't know it. You know, attitude and willingness to work can offset experience."

However, Lockwood was cautious to point out an official vote needs to be taken on the matter. That vote is expected in a few weeks to give the city time to legally advertise his appointment.

"Nothing is set in stone until it happens," Lockwood said.

Prior to joining Milton, Lagerbloom served as captain for the Alpharetta Police Department for 11 years. He has been an adjunct instructor at Reinhardt College since early 2008 teaching classes in public safety leadership.

Lagerbloom also is co-chair of the State Certification Committee for the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and a council-appointed member of the Alpharetta Code Enforcement Board. Lagerbloom is also a member of the International Association of City/County Managers, Georgia Municipal Association and International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Lagerbloom holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Georgia State University and a master's degree in public administration from Columbus State University. He is also a graduate of the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College and the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Class.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NOAA Weather Radio triggers tornado warnings Wednesday

When your weather radio starts broadcasting a tornado warning at 9:10 a.m. on Wednesday, listen closely because it is planned as a practice tornado drill.

The message that accompanies the warning signal will identify it as a practice drill.

The drill is part of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Georgia.

The National Oceanic and Atmopsheric Administration is encouraging schools, businesses and the public to use the drill to practice tornado safety plans.

The warning drill is planned to run from 9:10 to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

In case of severe weather, the drill will be rescheduled for Friday, Feb. 6.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Liberty Bell visits CIRCA in Roswell

One of the enduring symbols of American liberty is the famous Liberty Bell. But why is it called that, and why that bell?

The answer to these questions and a chance to hear its clear, E-flat tone ring out in all its glory can be found at the Circa History Guild on Holcomb Bridge Road at the entrance to The Ellard residential community.

A 3,200-pound, full-sized bronze replica is on view at Circa through the month of February. It is one of the many features of Circa, an organization dedicated to fostering the love of history in the community.

The Liberty Bell was cast in 1751 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn's Charter of Priveleges of 1701, which, among other rights, guaranteed the right of religious freedom. Twenty-five years later it was adopted as a symbol for political freedom as well during the Revolutionary War.

Bill Potter, curator and historian at Circa History Guild said Circa has free admission and is open six days a week (closed Sundays).

It is the idea of commercial developer J.T. Adams, who has a passion for history and is determined to see that its lessons are passed down to future generations.

"It actually started when I noticed my wife reading a magazine, and every other page seemed to be about Paris Hilton. I told her I thought it rather obnoxious to have so much written about someone who has done so little," said Adams. "She told me I should quit complaining and do something about it. So this is what I have done."

What that turned into has been for Adams to dedicate one of his stores in the Ellard Mercantile Exchange shopping center to be the Circa History Guild.

"First, it is a place to display my historical collection of manuscripts and artifacts. We have speakers who come are either firsthand witnesses to history or are experts in their field," said Adams. "Later, we hope to add a theater and a genealogy library."

The ultimate goal of Circa, he said, is to inspire, enlighten and educate the next generation.

Some of the older generation can pick up a thing or two just walking around the hardwood floors (salvaged from a 19th century factory) looking at books, art and historical artifacts that fill the building.

There's one thing about having a board with only one director. Decisions are made quickly. When Adams heard the HBO miniseries on his forebear John Adams was auctioning off its inventory, Adams quickly made arrangements to buy it all. Like just about everything in Circa, the props do have a price. But making a profit is not what moved Adams to start Circa.

"I want young people to discover America through their own eyes. I want them to realize that America's history is their history. It was their ancestors who lived it and made it. It is their legacy," Adams said.

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