East Cobb traffic alert: Sandy Plains Road lane closures next week

Sandy Plains Road lane closures
Cobb DOT map

Cobb DOT is reminding motorists about Sandy Plains Road lane closures that will be in effect next week:

Beginning Monday, Sept. 24, utility relocation work will reduce Sandy Plains Road to one lane for traffic traveling in both directions between Ebenezer Road and Kinjac Drive, north of Piedmont Road. The shift is expected to remain in place no later than Sunday, Sept. 30. However, completion of this work is dependent upon favorable weather conditions.

Signage and traffic control devices will be positioned to guide motorists. Drivers are advised to take Canton Road or Holly Springs Road and should reduce their speed and exercise caution in the area.

This utility work comes as part of a 2011 SPLOST road safety and operational improvements project for 8-mile-long Sandy Plains Road, where a raised median is present in all areas except between Kinjac Drive and Ebenezer Road. The project will add a median, as well as left and right turn lanes, to this road segment.

Read more about the Sandy Plains project here.

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Three Mountain View ES students killed with mother in traffic accident

three Mountain View ES students killed

Three students who attended Mountain View Elementary School were killed along with their mother in a traffic accident on Thursday, according to information shared with the East Cobb school community.

The students were Chase, Aaniyah and A.J. Standberry and their mother was Chelsea Standberry, according to a message sent Friday morning by Principal Renee Garriss.

“They touched the lives of many students, parents and staff members,” Garriss said. “Their passing is a terrible loss to all of us.”

News reports in Beaumont, Texas said the family was traveling in a vehicle on Interstate 10 early Thursday morning when it got involved in a multi-vehicle accident that included an 18-wheeler. Some of the vehicles caught fire.

Shaundrea Woodard of Houston, Chelsea Standberry’s cousin and who is organizing a fundraising drive to help pay for funeral expenses, said three others in the car survived, including Chelsea Standberry’s husband Anthony Standberry Sr. and mother-in-law.

Mountain View staff said when contacted by East Cobb News that they could not provide more information and referred questions to the Cobb County School District.

A district spokeswoman said she “could not confirm specifics” related to students in the district. All she would say is the following:

“Our counselors and crisis response team are all well-trained to help those suffering through grief, and we offer various tools and services  in addition to in-school counseling.”

Cobb schools are out next week for a scheduled fall break. Garriss said in her message that when classes resume Oct. 1, extra counselors from the district will be available at the Mountain View campus.

“During this time of loss, we are reminded of the importance of the simple acts of sharing kindness with one another each day,” Garriss said. “In tribute to their memory, I hope to see an abundance of such acts between students, teachers and community members. Please keep their family and friends in their thoughts and prayers.”


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Cobb YMCA volunteers assemble hygiene kits and blankets for needy families

Cobb YMCA volunteers

Thanks to Kali Mann of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta for the information and photos of last week’s food and housing insecurity outreach event involving Cobb YMCA volunteers, including those from the East Cobb-McCleskey Family and Northeast Cobb branches:

On Saturday, September 15, nearly 80 volunteers assembled more than 300 meal kits and toiletry kits, and knitted 50 blankets for Cobb’s food and housing insecure individuals. Volunteers included employees from J.M. Huber Corporation, members and employees from the Northwest, McCleskey, and Northeast Family YMCAs, and non-Y members.

Helping Cobb’s needy families is not new to the YMCA. Now that the “Days of Service” event is complete, the Northwest YMCA in Kennesaw will begin gathering food to feed Cobb’s children during the Fall and Winter breaks.

“Over the past 160 years, the Y has evolved to meet the unmet needs within communities around the Metro Atlanta area,” said Kristin McEwen, senior VP of operations for the YCMA of Metro Atlanta. “While times have changed since the Y’s founding in 1858, the Y’s focus on serving the community has not.”

Cobb YMCA volunteers

Cobb YMCA volunteers

Cobb YMCA volunteers

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East Cobb paraprofessionals honored by Cobb County School District

Barbara Barrington, East Cobb paraprofessionals
Barbara Barrington of Rocky Mount Elementary School is greeted by Cobb school superintendent Chris Ragsdale. (Photos submitted by CCSD)

The Cobb County School District honored its classified employees of the year earlier this week, and two East Cobb paraprofessionals were included as the grade level recipients.

Classified employees are those in non-teaching roles, including parapros, librarians, administrative assistants, cafeteria workers, police officers, social workers and others.

Lisa Hamill, Pope High School

Lisa Hamill of Pope was named Cobb’s high school level classified employee of the year, and not for the first time by her school Here’s what Pope principal Tom Flugum said about Hamill, in information supplied by CCSD:

“Lisa will do everything from helping with general supervision to working a lot with kids in small groups. She is really invested in our school. She is always looking for how she can help. It’s an honor to work with Lisa.” 

Barbara Barrington, a parapro at Rocky Mount, is Cobb’s elementary school level classified employee of the year, and principal Peggy Fleming describes what she does:

“She is the right hand of the kindergarten teacher, and does such a phenomenal job. Barbara is a kind, gentle, and wonderful person, who wants to do anything that she can to help anyone in the building.” 

Recipients of classified employee of the year honors for all Cobb schools were invited to a luncheon on Tuesday at Roswell Street Baptist Church, where school board members and top staff also attended. Said Superintendent Chris Ragsdale:

“Our Classified Employees of the Year represent the departments that make it possible for our teachers to do what they do in the classroom. I can’t thank them enough. There is no other industry that we can work in where we can impact the future of not just our community, but also our county, our state, and our nation. That is very important for us to remember. We are helping to shape the future.”


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Kennesaw State athletics director discusses ‘Flight Plan’ for post-college success

Milton Overton, Kennesaw State athletics director
“Your purpose in life is where your passion is,” said Milton Overton, who became KSU athletics director in the fall of 2017. (East Cobb News photo by Wendy Parker)

While Cobb County’s college football team continues to soar on the field, how those athletes prepare for what they do once they graduate is regarded as just as important.

Milton Overton, the Kennesaw State athletics director, pointed to himself as an example.

“I’m a guy who wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for being able to play football,” said Overton, the guest speaker at Tuesday’s East Cobb Business Association luncheon.

An offensive lineman for the powerhouse team at Oklahoma, he has also earned two master’s degrees and nearly completed his work on a doctorate.

“Education is the great equalizer, the vehicle for many Americans to have success.”

Overton, who arrived at KSU last fall, has enjoyed a 25-year career as a college sports administrator, and at some of the top programs in the country, including Alabama and Texas A & M.

Along the way, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of what it takes for athletes to succeed on the field, as well as away from it.

Like many college athletic departments, KSU has a special program to help with the latter. It’s called “Flight Path,” and Overton stressed how good work habits and discipline for athletes now will help when they’re ready to begin their non-sports work careers.

In the Flight Plan program, KSU student-athletes work with a “career coach” to help them assess post-college working opportunities. Those coaches are local professionals who share information about their fields.

Current student-athletes also hear from KSU graduates who played sports, and who offer practical advice on what it’s like in the adult world.

The highly-regimented schedules of college athletes, Overton said, offer them an opportunity to enter the work world with an advantage.

He said the graduation rate for athletes is often higher than non-athletes at many universities because of additional tutoring and academic services.

If a young person is accustomed to “12-hour days over four years,” he said, he or she is “more than likely with an employer to have a good shot” at securing a good job.

Now the third-largest university in Georgia with nearly 35,000 students, KSU has quickly succeeded since beginning varsity football in 2015.

The Owls, who are ranked fifth nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), reached the national quarterfinals a year ago. Overton recently extended the contract of head coach Brian Bohannon through 2023, and KSU is trying to sell 30,000 tickets for a November game at SunTrust Park.

Overton was hired by then-KSU president Sam Olens after two years as athletics director at Florida A & M, which was undergoing financial struggles.

The FCS designation is just below the Football Bowl Subdivision, where Georgia and Georgia Tech play. Overton said that for now, there’s no desire for KSU to make a move up, as Georgia State has done.

“We want to be where we have a chance to complete,” he said. “If we keep doing what we’re doing, at some point” there may be some consideration. “This school is primed to do some good things,” he said, and not just in sports.

“KSU is a rocket ship,” Overton said. “I’m just trying to hold on.”


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Lassiter High School graduation rate tops Cobb schools for 2018

Lassiter High School graduation rate

The Cobb County School District announced today its graduation rates for 2018, and Lassiter High School is tied for the best in the county.

Lassiter students graduated at 95.6 percent, the same at Harrison High School in West Cobb. Walton High School was right behind at 95.1, while Pope’s graduation rate was next, at 94.1.

Sprayberry’s graduation rate was 86.2, Kell was 83.8 and Wheeler was 77.3, according to the Georgia Department of Education, which released figures for all public high schools in the state (you can view the spreadsheet here).

Cobb schools said the overall cohort graduation rate for all 16 of its high schools is a district record of 85.18 percent, an increase of 1.7 percent from last year and above the statewide average of 81.6 percent.

In the metro Atlanta area, only Fulton County schools (86.8 percent) had a higher graduation rate than Cobb.

Sprayberry was one of several Cobb high schools that has had a significant increase in its graduation rate, up 5.3 percent since 2014.

In a release issued by Cobb schools, Sprayberry teachers Carlos Barrera and Amy Pothel said that staff recognizes the school’s diverse student body. “We provide additional support such as individualized tutoring, more opportunities to master the standards, and assistance with college applications and scholarships,” they said.

The method for calculating graduation rates is mandated by the U.S. Department of Education. It includes all students enrolled during a four-year period, even for a single day of classes.

Cobb schools said when only students enrolled in a county school were counted, the graduation figure is 90.5 percent. For those students who are enrolled in Cobb for all four years of high school, the rate rises to 97.1 percent.

The Georgia overall graduation rate of 81.6 percent is an all-time high.

Grad class size # Graduates 2018 rate 2017 rate
Kell 382 320 83.8 87.9
Lassiter 565 540 95.6 95.7
Pope 474 446 94.1 91.8
Sprayberry 435 375 86.2 85.5
Walton 675 642 95.1 94.5
Wheeler 520 402 77.3 81.1
Cobb 9,041 7,701 85.2 83.6


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Walton football jumps up to No. 2 in state poll; unbeaten Wheeler unranked

The Walton football team’s big nationally-televised win over state champion North Gwinnett on Friday catapulted the Raiders to No. 2 in the latest high school football rankings.

The Raiders moved up from third in the Georgia Sports Writers Association Class 7A poll that was released Tuesday, getting 120 points and edging Grayson, which had been second, by two points. Colquitt County remains on top with 139 points. Two other Cobb schools, McEachern and Hillgrove, also are ranked in the Top 10 this week.

Wheeler, which like Walton is also 4-0, is not. In fact, the Wildcats, the only other unbeaten team from East Cobb, didn’t get any votes at all from the GWSA voters.

But they have a chance to make a statement on Friday at home against Roswell, which received 12 votes, just missing the rankings. Marietta got 13 votes.

Walton will also be at home Friday, against Newnan.

The only other ranked East Cobb team dropped out. Kell, which had been No. 10 in Class 5A, lost to East Paulding last week and still got eight votes, just out of the rankings.


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East Cobb students named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists

A total of 64 East Cobb students have been named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.National Merit Scholarships, East Cobb students

They come from Pope, Lassiter, Wheeler and Walton, which has a total of 31 semifinalists, the second-most for any school in the state, according to the Cobb County School District.

The CCSD said 80 students from seven of its schools have made the next round of the process, including Campbell, Kennesaw Mountain and North Cobb.

Below are the names of the East Cobb semifinalists, followed by more information about the program, and how the process works, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation:

Lassiter High School
Sophia D. Babish
Eric Chow
Dennis G. Goldenberg
Peter R. Jacobson
Carter B. Johnson
Carter H. Kubes
Peyton R. Lamb
Delia K. Pung
Audrey J. Safir
Dylan Walters

Pope High School
Jacob T. Evans
Griffin W. Haarbauer
Edward C. Kokan
Maya Nambiar
Olivia D. Popovich

Walton High School
Albert Chen
David Cornell
Alison Cumberledge
Thomas DeBoer
Ava Edmunds
William Ellsworth
Eashan Gandotra
Vineet Gangireddy
Nicholas Hong
Emma Hunt
Jeffrey Key
Darren Kosen
Varun Krishnaswamy
Grace Lee
Ryan Li
Jesse Liu
Arundhati Mahendrakar
Isha Palakurthy
Anika Park
Sara Patyi
David Phillips
Varsha Ramachandra
Alice Shen
Daniel Shu
Elizabeth Sims
Albert Ting
Illahi Virani
Jayson Wu
Kevin Wu
Grace Xu
Margare Zhang

Wheeler High School 
Saman A. Bhamani
Fianko Buckle
Mariah K. Butts
Caden M. Felton
Ayush Goyal
Adith Guna
Vanessa I. Leonardo
Andrew J. Mayne
Arya N. Mevada
Shivam A. Patel
Abhinav Piplani
Shraddha Sekhar
Keshav K. Shenoy
Rebecca G. Simonson
Hanna E. Waltz
David M. Weinberg
Zachary R. Yahn

Over 1.6 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. More than 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to be named National Merit Scholar finalists in February.

To be finalists, semifinalists and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2019. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis.

About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards
for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

The 2019 National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join some 338,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

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Panhandler still at-large after fleeing Sope Creek trails of Chattahoochee National Recreation Area


We’ve just heard from Jeffrey Glossop, the chief ranger at the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, who said this morning the panhandler who fled from a pursuit at the Sope Creek trails by his rangers and Cobb Police on Tuesday is still at-largeSope Creek trails, panhandler photo

The park also has released some surveillance photos of the man, who may be homeless and living in the nearby woods.

He’s described as a black male in his early 40s, and is around 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10 and weighs around 170 pounds, and has a droopy or lazy eye.

Glossop said the man was last seen wearing a dark t-shirt and spotted or plaid light-colored pants.

“We don’t have any reason to think he’s a threat to anyone,” but if you should see him do not approach him but call 911, Glossop said.

The saga actually began on Monday, when Glossop said his office got a call from a park visitor who said a man was sleeping in the woods in the Sope Creek unit.

He said park rangers responded and found him in a tent, but the man got away.

On Tuesday, he said, they got complaints from park visitors about panhandling by a man who matched the description of the individual they spotted on Monday.

Glossop said that man has an outstanding warrant in Rockdale County, but doesn’t know what for.

The Sope Creek trails are open to the public today; Glossop said only the Paper Mill Road parking lot for access to those trails was closed briefly while Cobb Police units were on the scene assisting with the search.

Glossop said visitors were asked during that time to park in the lot off Columns Drive to access the Sope Creek trails.

The park area is located near Sope Creek Elementary School, which was  “operating on a normal schedule” on Wednesday, according to a Cobb County School District spokesperson.


The National Park Service was searching for a panhandler who slipped away on Tuesday in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area Cochran Shoals Unit in East Cobb, prompting a closure of the Sope Creek Trails.Chattahoochee River NRA

The Chattahoochee NRA released a public message about the closure around 11 a.m. Tuesday, but didn’t say why.

Sgt. Wayne Delk, a spokesman for Cobb Police, said Cobb Police were called to assist in the search.

He said the individual being sought also has an outstanding warrant in Rockdale County, but he did not know the reason for the warrant.

Delk said the panhandler isn’t considered a threat to the public, and that the NPS is continuing the search.

East Cobb News has left a message with the Chattahoochee NRA and will update with more information.


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East Cobb Restaurant Scores: Aurelio’s; Ming’s Asian Kitchen; Salata; Tijuana Joe’s; schools and more

Ming's Asian Kitchen Opens, East Cobb restaurants, East Cobb restaurant scores

The following East Cobb restaurant scores from Sept. 4-14 have been compiled by the Cobb & Douglas Department of Public Health. Click the link under each listing to view details of the inspection:

Aurelio’s Is Pizza
1255 Johnson Ferry Road Suite 22
September 6, 2018 Score: 88, Grade: B

East Valley Elementary School 
2570 Lower Roswell Road
September 14, 2018 Score: 91, Grade: A

La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe 
4101 Roswell Road Suite 812
September 14, 2018 Score: 86, Grade: B

Little Caesars Pizza 
2200 Roswell Road Suite 180
September 14, 2018 Score: 96, Grade: A

Mabry Middle School 
2700 Jims Road
September 10, 2018 Score: 100, Grade: A

Ming’s Asian Kitchen
4665 Lower Roswell Suite 101
September 14, 2018 Score: 91, Grade: A

Mount Bethel Elementary School 
1210 Johnson Ferry Road
September 6, 2018 Score: 100, Grade: A

PIzza Hut
2520 E. Piedmont Road Suite 124
September 7, 2018 Score: 100, Grade: A

Pizza Hut 
1386 Roswell Road
September 10, 2018 Score: 90, Grade: A

4101 Roswell Road, Suite 1100
September 13, 2018 Score: 82, Grade: B

Shahi Naan and Curry
2100 Roswell Road, Suite 2104
September 6, 2018 Score: 91, Grade: A

Starbucks Coffee 
1207 Johnson Ferry Road
September 4, 2018 Score: 97, Grade: A

4880 Lower Roswell Road, Suite 115
September 14, 2018 Score: 96, Grade: A

Tijuana Joe’s Cantina 
690 Johnson Ferry Road
September 6, 2018 Score: 97, Grade: A

2238 Roswell Road
September 6, 2018 Score: 98, Grade: A


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Bells Ferry Road senior living development approved by Cobb commissioners

Bells Ferry Road senior living development

A Bells Ferry Road senior living development was approved Tuesday by the Cobb Board of Commissioners, on a chunk of green space that’s been eyed for a variety of uses over the years.

They voted to rezone 35.8 acres of low-density residential land on Bells Ferry Road and North Booth Road at I-575 for 155 single-family, detached homes for seniors 55 and older. Here’s the agenda item packet.

The vote was 4-0, with commissioner Bob Ott absent.

It was one of two major zoning cases on Tuesday’s agenda that asked for the Residential Senior Living (RSL) category, which is becoming a more frequent request from developers in Cobb.

There was no formal opposition to the application by Jim Chapman Communities Inc., which had initially proposed 178 units. The homes will range between 1,600 and 2,400 square feet and will have an attached two-car garage. The request was supported by the Bells Ferry Civic Association.

District 3 commissioner JoAnn Birrell of Northeast Cobb wanted to have the case heard due to some e-mails she had received.

Before making a motion to approve the request, she noted that the land had drawn the interest of developers for other types of development, including commercial, which she opposed to due nearby residential communities.

The land is located across North Booth Road from Chalker Elementary School. She also said the property had been nominated to be purchased as county parkland, but that use was rejected.

“The applicant asked for what we wanted,” Birrell said of the Jim Chapman proposal. “RSL is the best fit for this area.”

Among the stipulations as part of the rezoning include a right turn lane to be built from Bells Ferry Road southbound onto North Booth Road, and for sidewalks to be constructed along the frontage for both roads.

Before that case, commissioners approved a similar rezoning near Powder Springs, for 123 senior homes on 53 acres on Old Lost Mountain Road, that drew opposition from nearby residents for traffic and density reasons.


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East Cobb Taqueria Tsunami restaurant gets to keep old sign

East Cobb Taqueria Tsunami restaurant

One of the stipulations that was included in a revised site plan last year for the East Cobb Taqueria Tsunami restaurant was that an existing frontage sign had to go.

But the owners of the popular Asian-Latin fusion spot at 1275 Johnson Ferry Road have already attached their logo to the old round frame in front of what was the Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagel eatery.

UPDATED: Commissioners approved the request, which was on the consent agenda.

On Tuesday they’ll be asking Cobb commissioners to amend that stipulation (agenda item packet here). It’s included in the other business portion of a zoning hearing that begins at 9 a.m. on the 2nd floor of the Cobb government building, 100 Cherokee St., in downtown Marietta.

Taqueria Tsunami opened its doors in East Cobb in May, and the sign went up over the summer.


Related story


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