Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Man convicted for pimping teenage cousin

Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. announces the conviction by jury trial of 26-year old Zaccheus Obie of Atlanta. Obie was convicted this afternoon of one count of felony pimping for prostituting his 16-year-old cousin.

The victim was picked up by police in May of 2008 on Metropolitan Parkway, an area known for prostitution. According to testimony, Obie sent the victim out on three separate occasions to solicit "dates". In preparation, he bought clothes for the young girl, paid to have her hair done and later pocketed all of the money she received. Obie was arrested in January for this case but investigators believe he has been operating as a pimp for at least four years. One of his previous girlfriends testified at trial that she prostituted for Obie as well. Jurors deliberated for 3 ½ hours over two days before returning with a verdict of guilty. Obie, who has other pending charges, will be sentenced at a later date. He is subject to a minimum five year sentence.

Obie's conviction comes in the wake of recent public discussions before the State Legislature regarding the decriminalization of prostitution-- as concerned clergy and citizen groups urge lawmakers to recognize the young girls as victims rather than criminals.

Senior Fulton County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Manis presided over the case. It was prosecuted by Senior Assistant ADA Kate Thornton with assistance from ADA Lee Young Williams and DA Investigator Crispin Henry. APD Officer J. Hoos led the initial investigation.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Roswell's nonprofit arts industry adds fuel to economy

Roswell – Everyone knows the arts in Roswell raises the city's cultural I.Q., but a recent economic impact study released shows the arts also puts $13.6 million into the city's economy.

Nationally, the arts economic contributions are an astonishing $166 billion in economic activity, up 24 percent in the last five years according to the Americans for the Arts, national organization supporting the arts and culture through private and public resource development,

Randy Cohen of Americans for the Arts is vice president of Local Arts Advancement and a consultant to local arts communities including Roswell.

"The nonprofit arts industry goes beyond its ability to entertain, inspire and improve the quality of life. What our study has shown that beyond fostering beauty, creativity and originality in the community there are huge economic impacts as well," said Cohen. "These economic impacts are a conservative estimate based on a survey developed by professors at Georgia Tech."

The Tech survey devised a means of calculating the value of $1 spent by the arts industry as it rippled through the community. Also it determined that each arts customer spent an average of $15.71, not counting the ticket, on food, lodging or shopping in the city.

Some 31 non-profit arts organizations in Roswell were sent a survey, and the economic impacts are based solely on the 24 that responded.

"The numbers are a real myth-buster," said Cohen. "We interviewed 981 customers and charted their ZIP codes, and we found 31 percent of attendees came from outside Fulton County. Investing in the arts makes sense. It is a vibrant industry for Roswell."

The results showed the arts organizations spent about $7.8 million in the community and audiences contributed another $5.8 million.

In addition, arts events such as the Colors of Roswell, The Magnolia Storytelling Festival, the Georgia Ensemble Theatre, The Michael O'Neal Singers, Rosewater Theatre and the Roswell Cultural Arts Center among others combined to bring 117,585 non-residents to the city where they spent an average of $20.54 each. The 260,502 residents who attended arts events spent an average of $13.03 each according to the study.

The arts also created 418 full-time equivalent jobs in Roswell.

"The arts often pay out locally and hire locally," Cohen said. "So the money spent by the arts tends to circulate in the community longer."

One of the many intangibles a strong culturally vibrant community does is attract new residents and employers to relocate. That protects local property values as seen in local assessments. Roswell has not been as hard hit by property devaluation as in other metro areas.

"The goal of the study was to show that it is wise to invest in the arts, both culturally and economically," Cohen said. "There is still a lot of untapped headroom in the city."

Roswell Historic and Cultural Affairs Manager Morgan Timmis said one had only to look at the Canton Street community where arts and entertainment contribute to a healthy urban lifestyle with excellent property values.

Ultimately, the goal of the study is to show the value of the arts to the community.

"In its most idealistic terms, we hope the report will show the community and the powers that be the true value of arts and culture to the community and realize they are not just the icing on the cake," Timmis said. "It has genuine economic importance and deserves public support.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cumming man killed in head-on collision

FORSYTH COUNTY — A 39-year-old Cumming man is dead after slamming head-on into a large landscaping truck June 3 on Ga. 9 in southern Forsyth County.

Investigator Ron Tomblin of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office said the deceased, Sean T. Strickland, was killed on impact when his 2004 Nissan Altima crossed the center line of Ga. 9 north near Castleberry Road and hit the landscaping truck, which was traveling south at about 2:02 p.m.

More on this story here.

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