A year after fire, questions plague future of Gaines Hall

Second column in a two part-series. Last week: Revival of Hancock County’s Courthouse in Sparta, Ga.

The story of two eerily similar buildings reveals a tale of two cities.

The Hancock County Courthouse in Sparta caught fire on Aug. 11, 2014. Atlanta’s Gaines Hall caught fire Aug. 20, 2015. Both designed by the same architect – William Parkins – before the turn of the 19th Century.

But the similarities end when we look at how both communities have responded since their respective fires.

Hancock County Courthouse – ‘Her Majesty’ – is reborn

First in a two-part series. Next week: Sparta’s story a lesson for Atlanta’s Gaines Hall.

SPARTA, Ga. – Take note, Atlanta. The people in Sparta have found a way to cherish their city’s landmarks – showing what can be done when a community believes in preserving its past for future generations.

No building in Sparta tells the story better than the Hancock County Courthouse.

Hank Aaron statue to remain in Atlanta – but where is still TBD

It was both symbolic and intentional to announce the pending sale of Turner Field in a tent next to the famous Hank Aaron statue.

It marked a moment. Atlanta may be losing the Braves, but it will always have Hank Aaron and his remarkable legacy – one that extended far beyond hitting homeruns. Hank Aaron built bridges between the races in the days of segregation in the deep South.

Legacy lives on from when Atlanta hosted the Paralympic Games 20 years ago

Twenty years ago Aug 15, the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games left a lasting impression as Mark Wellman, a paraplegic, pulled himself up 40 feet up a rope, using only his hands, while a flaming Olympic torch was tucked between his legs before he dramatically lit the Olympic caldron.

The Paralympic Games in Atlanta were a turning point for both the Olympic movement and for Georgia becoming a leading center for people with disabilities.

Demolition threat of Engineer’s Bookstore shows weaknesses in Atlanta’s design regs

The fight to save the 1930s-era building that most recently housed the Engineer’s Bookstore on Marietta Street exposes weaknesses in Atlanta’s preservation power.

The bookstore closed in May, and the building was sold to Omair Pasha. Contrary to what he originally told people in the community, Pasha disclosed he intends to demolish the building and redevelop the property into a gas station and EZ Mart.

Still looking for our missing Peachtree Streetcar

When my children were young, one of their favorite series of books were the “Where’s Spot?” books. Each page had flaps, and Spot would be hiding under one of the flaps.

I felt I was reading the “Where’s Spot” books as I was looking through pages and pages of different City of Atlanta lists for MARTA and the Transportation Special Purpose Local Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) projects.

Something was missing. The Peachtree Streetcar.

‘Maynard Movie’ seeking funds so that history will not die

The late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson was the ultimate disruptor.

When he was elected mayor in 1973, he was only 35 years old and the first black mayor in the city’s history.

Given that the lunch counters were already integrated, Jackson set out to make sure that all races could participate in the city’s economy. That meant disrupting the existing way of doing business to invite blacks, women and Latinos to the table.

Recent firings by Mayor Reed a contrast to Atlanta City Hall under Maynard Jackson

After the news broke of the Friday firings of two key officials from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration, once again I was struck by how much City Hall has changed over the years.

On May 20, Reed parted ways with Miguel Southwell, aviation general manager who was in charge of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; and Jo Ann Macrina, commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management.

After 20 years, LINK trips offer lasting lessons for Atlanta; Dallas delivers helpful insights

For 20 years, metro Atlanta leaders have been traveling to other cities to gain insights on how to address our most pressing issues by seeing how other urban areas address theirs.

The LINK trips – organized by the Atlanta Regional Commission – also have played another vital role. They have helped leaders from all over the region get to know each other in an away-from-home setting – hopefully creating relationships so we can reach consensus and collaborate as we move forward.

National Park Service hits home with King-Carter exhibit – possible peek into future

An axis of peace. That’s probably the best way to define the relationship between two of Atlanta’s greatest leaders and their families – the late Martin Luther King Jr. and former President Jimmy Carter.

It is a special multi-layered relationship that keeps building upon a shared foundation of non-violence, human and civil rights. And both MLK Jr. and Carter were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

Metro Atlanta leaders headed to Dallas for 20th LINK trip

The 2016 LINK trip to Dallas – scheduled from May 4 to May 7 – will mark the Atlanta region’s 20th anniversary of the annul visit to peer cities – providing metro leaders an opportunity to reflect on the value of the trips and consider their future.

About 110 metro Atlanta leaders are scheduled to be on the three-day to the Dallas-Fort Worth area – studying transportation, urban planning, downtown renaissance, the arts, education, millennials, suburban development and regional economic development.