The letters were received Tuesday morning at Marietta High and Marietta Middle schools and threatened that the schools would be blown up Friday if the money was not received, news editor Kim Isaza has learned from two sources with knowledge of the investigation. Neither was authorized to speak on the record.
Both schools were briefly locked down while police searched the buildings, though police were confident by Thursday night that there was no bomb in either school.
That’s when Marietta Police announced that they had traced the letters to a man in Chicago, who was in jail there on an unrelated charge when they located him.
The letters listed the names of three young women to whom the money was to be delivered. None of the women are students at the school, the sources said, and may have been people the sender was trying to incriminate.
Marietta may not have been the only target of the threats. The Journal was told that the same letter was sent to other schools in metro Atlanta, including Gwinnett, DeKalb, Sandy Springs and Johns Creek, though that could not immediately be confirmed.
One of the sources told the Journal that the suspect — whom police still are not naming — was apparently released from a Georgia jail in December, where he had been serving time as a sex offender.
WORD FROM CITY HALL is that Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, with the help of an almost unanimous City Council, will have the 14 Dumpsters that long have been parked on streets around Marietta Square gone by year’s end.
The city pays Waste Management $95,094 annually to service the 14 Dumpsters and 40 ninety-five gallon roll-carts in the downtown Marietta Square area. The receptacles are owned by Waste Management, which the city began contracting with in 2003 on a yearly basis. The Dumpsters are positioned to provide trash collection for downtown businesses. The city charges varying rates to the downtown businesses for the service. In fiscal year 2010 the revenue was about $80,000, which is considerably less than the $95,000 a year the city has been paying Waste Management for the service. So in essence, Marietta taxpayers have been subsidizing the on-street Dumpsters.
City watchers believe Tumlin first floated a trial balloon about getting rid of the eyesores so as to ban Councilman Philip Goldstein — whose family is the largest private landholder downtown — from adding more of them to the Square, should he ever get his hoped-for high-rise off the ground on the site of the old Cuthbertson Building, which he demolished just before Christmas.
However, since council feedback was so positive about ridding the Square of existing Dumpsters along with future ones, Tumlin probably will be able to persuade the council to ban them altogether.
Perhaps having seen the handwriting on the wall, Goldstein remained unusually quiet during the Jan. 26 meeting on the subject.
EAST COBB NOVELIST and Kennesaw State University professor Jeffrey Stepakoff is to be honored Thursday via passage of a resolution by the state Legislature declaring that day “Toccoa-Stephens County Fireworks over Toccoa Day” — an honor prompted by Stepakoff’s novel of the same name.
Stepakoff is a veteran Hollywood TV and film writer, with such credits to his name as “The Wonder Years,” “Sisters,” Disney’s “Tarzan,” “Major Dad” and “Dawson’s Creek”. He moved back to Georgia several years ago to raise his family and pen novels. His next novel, “The Orchard,” will be set in Ellijay.
“Fireworks over Georgia” (St. Martin’s Press 2010) is a coming-of-age love story set in Toccoa during World War II. That town on the edge of the north Georgia mountains was in fact during the war the home of Camp Toccoa, an Army camp at which four regiments of paratroopers (including the one depicted in the award-winning HBO series “Band of Brothers”) were trained.
“Fireworks” has been translated into four languages and will be released in paperback March 15. A movie version is in the works.
Stepakoff is a professor of film and television writing at KSU.
BRIAN NOYES, president and senior consultant with Brock Clay Government & Public Affairs, will be the 2011 Chairman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Southeast Public Affairs Group. That body brings together professionals in government affairs and with chambers of commerce in a series of informational forums to exchange information on the most critical issues facing business at the federal and state levels. Noyes has been with Brock Clay since 2005 and before that served senior advisor to the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
MARIETTA attorney Ben Mathis, managing partner with Freeman Mathis & Gary, has been appointed a Special Assistant Attorney General by Sam Olens helping represent Georgia in the legal challenge to the Federal Healthcare Reform Act, better known as Obamacare.
Mathis joins a team of attorneys working pro bono over the constitutionality of Obamacare, among them retired heavyweight Frank Jones of the silk-stocking King & Spalding firm and attorney Pitts Carr, known for representing Butch Thompson and Bo Pounds in their suit against Cobb EMC claiming CEO Dwight Brown milked Cobb Energy for himself and other insiders.
A HAPPY BIRTHDAY to insurance exec, Bill Smith who celebrates his 80th birthday Wednesday. Smith, a Bethel, N.C., native, came to Marietta in 1957 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a stint in the U.S. Navy. While in the service he met A.D. Little, who asked him to join him in the insurance business here.
Although a transplanted Tar Heel, Smith is as committed to our town as any “OM” (“Old Mariettan”). He has served as chair of the Marietta Board of Education and as president of the Marietta Country Club and as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia.
His three children have long since graduated from Marietta High, but he still has season tickets on the 50-yard line to Blue Devil games at Northcutt Stadium.
IT WAS NOT EXACTLY “church as usual” on Sunday at Freedom Church in Acworth. When the offering baskets were passed through the audience, the pastor, the Rev. J.R. Lee, encouraged people to take money out of them rather than put it in.
The baskets were filled with envelopes containing $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, or $1,000. The congregation was instructed to take an envelope and then use the gift to bless someone in the community. They also were told it could not be used on themselves or their families.
“People in the audience were a little stunned. After the shock wore off, people began to get excited about the opportunity to bless their neighbor, co-worker, waiter or even a random stranger. We believe in cultivating generosity and we felt it was time to take that to a different level,” said Lead Pastor J.R. Lee.
The church meets at Barber Middle School in Acworth and is raising funds to build a sanctuary along North Cobb Parkway.
THREE COBB KIWANIANS have been recognized with Outstanding Leadership Medallions by Kiwanis Lt. Gov. Clarence Estepp of the Lost Mountain Golden K.: T.O. Sturdivant III of the East Cobb Kiwanis, Marie Cetrulo of the Lost Mountain Golden K, and Alan Wilgus of the Smyrna Golden K.
OOPS! Saturday’s Around Town item about the “Celebrating History Through Her Story” symposium contained an incorrect date for the event. It will take place from 10 a.m.-noon at InfoMart on Terrell Mill Road, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the YWCA and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. ... The Foundation 2000 For Children reminds that the eighth annual Betty Gray Scholarship Luncheon, in honor of the retired south Cobb educator and school board member, will be at 11:30 a.m. March 7 at Roswell Street Baptist Church. Speaker will be Cobb Chamber President/CEO David Connell. Contact Barbara Hickey at (404) 276-0808.
THE FIRST “MARTINIS & MUSIC” of 2011 is from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, reminds director Sally McCauley. The event — usually one of the best-attended in town — will feature guitarist Myles Brown. Admission is $8.