Around Town: Departures: MRC days numbered? Olens bow-out date nears
by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney, Joe Kirby
Around Town columnists
March 09, 2010 12:05 AM | 1695 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE CITY COUNCIL IS PATTING ITSELF on the back for last week's purchase of a rundown 13-acre, 200-unit apartment complex in the crime-infested area of Franklin Road. Meantime, the sun may be going down on the Marietta Redevelopment Corp.

The $2.7 million purchase of the Preston Chase apartment complex was bought from Regions Banks, which had originally foreclosed on the property for $7.5 million. The council plans to raze the complex and turn the property into parkland over the next year. Council members believe that will help reduce the crime rate and ease the strain of flooding the Marietta City School District with transient students.

While patting themselves on the back for their Franklin Road purchase, city officials have been less than enthusiastic about the amount of money the Marietta Redevelopment Corp. has spent in its land buys. The MRC has been buying up property in the dilapidated Hedges-Gramling neighborhood across from the Hilton Marietta Conference Center, focusing on a seven-acre tract where it has shelled out about $4 million. The plan was to turn over the seven-acre tract to a developer, but with the economic downturn, the MRC was forced to hold onto the properties and continue to rent them out.

The MRC has also spent $760,575 on 1.5 acres outside that seven-acre tract. MRC Chairman Ron Francis, who is expected to be reappointed to the position this week, says the MRC has a "burn rate," or negative cash flow, of between $25,000 and $30,000 a month. City officials say that negative cash flow is caused by bank interest payments, utility payments and management fees for the duplexes. The MRC owns a total of 35 rental units.

In a clear slap at the MRC, the council recently asked the Marietta Housing Authority to manage the Preston Chase units until it was prepared to raze the complex, as opposed to asking the MRC to do the job.

As for the MRC's future, one council member said don't expect it to be around this time next year, since it's about out of money, and the council has no intention of giving it a dime more.

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FORMER MARIETTA CITY MANAGER LYLE LACY III died Wednesday at age 63. Services will be held in Danville, Va.

A native of Roanoke, Va., Lacy was city manager from May 1986 through June 1988.

Lacy's tenure in Marietta coincided with the "Marietta 7" case, which saw Lacy fire seven ranking police officers for insubordination. The seven sued the city, prompting a protracted legal battle that played out before the Marietta Civil Service board and then Cobb Superior Court, and eventually got their jobs back. POLITICAL PATTER: It's 21 days and counting for Cobb Commission Chairman Sam Olens. The chair, who is already campaigning for the GOP nomination as state attorney general in this summer's primary, will resign his chairmanship March 30, he told AT on Monday. He had already said he would resign sometime in March, before officially qualifying in April to run for AG.

Northeastern District Cobb Commissioner Tim Lee is the only announced candidate for Olens' seat. ...

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NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT COBB COMMISSIONER HELEN GOREHAM will kick off her re-election campaign from 2 to 6 p.m. March 21 with a barbecue at the home of Chris and Steve Welsh on Main Street in Kennesaw.

"The event will feature (Kennesaw Mayor) Mark Mathews' famous BBQ, roasted corn and an iced tea and sangria bar," reads the invite.

The event will also coincide with the commissioner's birthday. Parking will be across the street at Adams Park.

Hosts for the event are the Welshes, Bill and Brenda Borden, Jeff Duckett, Bruce and Julie Jenkins, Mathews and Bill Thrash. RSVP to (770) 429-9733. ...

Earl Stine, candidate for the Northeast Cobb seat on the Commission being vacated by Tim Lee, will hold his campaign kick-ff from 6-9 p.m. March 16 at the Rib Ranch on Canton Road. A $50 donation is suggested. RSVP by Friday to Earlstine@att.net or to (770) 423-1011.

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COBB DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR Will Fowlkes reports that Attorney General and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Thurbert Baker will speak at the Cobb County Democratic Party Breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Piccadilly Cafeteria at 536 Cobb Parkway in Marietta. He mentioned this is the first in a four-part series of bringing the Democratic candidates for governor to the monthly Cobb County breakfast. The breakfast is held on the second Saturday of the month at the Piccadilly. ...

Supporters of David Wilkerson for state representative will host a meet-and-greet on March 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the home of Edith Page Gude in Powder Springs. The public is invited to attend and speak with former Cobb Democratic Party Chairman Wilkerson, who is running in the July primary, about his campaign to represent the 33rd House District. For details and to RSVP, contact Penny Wilkerson at (770) 436-7241. ... Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond will speak at the Betty Gray Scholarship Luncheon today at 11:30 a.m. at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta. ...

The Cobb Democratic Women will have their monthly meeting on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. at House of Lu, 89 Cherokee Street in Marietta. Guest speaker will be Jane Bradshaw, president of the Georgia Young Democrats. There will be a buffet dinner for $9.95. Both women and men are invited. RSVP to RuthE Levy at (770) 650-1106 or Levyruthe1@juno.com. ...

The House District 33 forum, March 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., will feature a legislative update with Rep. Don Wix, Sen. Steve Thompson and other invited guests at The George Ford Community Center, 4484 Marietta Street in Powder Springs.

Call (770) 948-3278 for more info.

FOOD NETWORK STAR ALTON BROWN of Marietta is soon to be cooking up an unusual recipe: a graduation speech. Around Town has learned that University of Georgia alum Brown will be the commencement speaker at the school's spring undergraduate exercises May 8 at Sanford Stadium. Brown is star of the show "Good Eats" and commentator on "Iron Chef America."

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PEOPLE: Former MDJ editor Alec Tregone, 96, broke his arm in a fall. While in the emergency room, he was also treated for dehydration. The staff at WellStar Kennestone has decided to keep him for additional tests. He is in Room 745 Green at Kennestone. ...

Veteran Mariettan banker Terri Bunten has returned from New York City, having surprised her son with a weekend trip to the Big Apple for his 18th birthday. They jammed the weekend with every site possible between Central Park and the Statue of Liberty and enjoyed all the refinements of the city from street vendor hot dogs to gelato in Little Italy.

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CHATTAHOOCHEE TECH and the state's other technical colleges are switching over to a semester system from a quarterly one. The change, which will take effect in August 2011, will bring it in line with the state's other colleges and high schools, according to President Dr. Sanford Chandler. Chattahoochee Tech is the largest of Georgia's 34 technical colleges, with seven campuses and 11,500 students.

IN ANSWER TO SUGGESTIONS that the county's 287(g) program jail-house screening program could have been used to preclude illegal aliens from working construction on the new Cobb Superior Court Building, Sheriff Neil Warren answers that the program is only allowed to be used for checking the identities of those arrested and taken to the jail - not those seeking employment with the county.

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THE EARL SMITH STRAND THEATRE will open its event rooms and Cobb Terrace overlooking the square to the public during the Square's Art Walk in 2010 during its Brew With A View series. The second-floor event room and gallery wall will feature a different fine artist each month, including Linda Flournoy, Eduin Rosell, Frank Buckner, Nita Burge, Claire Dunaway and Brandon Hunt.

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THE STRAND THEATRE will bring the beach to "Mariettaville" via a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show, "A1A," April 10, starring Marietta native Chaz McDonald.

"Patrons are encouraged to get in the island spirit and don your beach duds, even if you have to wear a sweater underneath: the more cheesy-beach-resort your look is, the better," said Christy Rosell, director of business development and marketing at the Strand.

Buffett remains one of the nation's most popular concert draws even though his commercial peak came with such 1970s hits as "Margaritaville" and "Come Monday."
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