The week in local news.

This weekend, Atlanta’s green heart will be converted into an outdoor gallery for the annual Piedmont Park Summer Arts Festival. The two-day festival will feature up to 250 painters, photographers, sculptors, glassblowers, jewelers and more. The free arts festival will also include live artist demonstrations, live musical performances, a children’s play area and food trucks.

On to other local news:

The NCL Cup qualifying event and race will be held this weekend. (Photo by Tom Sam.)

National Cycling League hosts race in Atlanta 

This Sunday, Aug. 20, the National Cycling League (NCL) will host the third race of its inaugural NCL Cup race series in Atlanta. At 12 p.m., ten teams of professional cyclists will compete in a lapped-style race circuit at the Porsche Experience Center. 

The NCL is the first gender-equal professional sports league in the country and is also the first majority-women and minority-owned league. Proceeds of the race will benefit Bearings Bike Works, a local nonprofit that uses bikes as a mode to teach Southwest Atlanta youth critical skills.

Among the competing cyclists are Olympians, former Tour de France competitors and national champions. The team qualifying event will be held on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 6 p.m., competing in a 150m drag race in front of Bearings Bike Works on Murphy Street. 

“Atlanta is arguably one of the country’s great cycling metropolitan areas with projects like the BeltLine, the Silver Comet trail system and a wide array of neighboring mountain-biking paths,” NCL CEO Andrea Pagnanelli wrote in a release. “As such, the city was a natural destination for our inaugural series set.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw answers questions from Metro Atlanta Chamber CEO Katie Kirkpatrick at the Aug. 14 Atlanta Rotary meeting. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw talks to Atlanta Rotary about benefits of rail

At the Aug. 14 Rotary Club of Atlanta meeting, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw answered questions from Katie Kirkpatrick, the CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Shaw emphasized the railroad’s relationship with Atlanta that goes back long before the company relocated its corporate headquarters from Norfolk, Va., to Atlanta in 2019. He described Atlanta as the cultural, economic and educational hub of the Southeast, and he said the company was proud to continue to expand its presence in the city.

“Atlanta has its roots deep in rail, and we have our roots deep in Atlanta,” said Shaw, adding that there are 5,400 Norfolk Southern employees in the state. “We have hired 1,400 people in Atlanta just within the last year alone.”

After answering several questions about leadership, economic development and the East Palestine derailment, Shaw made a point to talk about the environmental advantages of rail and the evolution of the company’s business.

“We have to transform Norfolk-Southern,” Shaw said. “Fifteen years ago, 35 percent of our revenues came from coal.” Today that has gone down to about 12 percent, and the railroad is continuing its shift from shipping commodities to consumer goods.

Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s Corp. and a long-time environmentalist, asked Shaw about the carbon impact of rail.

“Rail is the green alternative to the truck,” Shaw responded, delighted to talk about the environmental benefits of rail. “Rail is so much more carbon efficient than truck. It’s three to four times as carbon efficient as the truck.”

Because so many companies are worried about their carbon footprint, Shaw said many are shifting the transport of goods from truck to rail.

“Just in the state of Georgia, we estimate we save about 900,000 metric tons of carbon by taking trucks off the highway,” Shaw said. “We’re a solution there. And that’s part of our growth story going forward.”

He added the railroad estimated that in Georgia last year, Norfolk Southern pulled 3.9 million trucks off the road.

— Maria Saporta

Midtown’s Pershing Point Park, which dates to 1918. (Photo by Atlanta Preservation Center.)

City moves to landmark Pershing Point Park

The City is proposing landmark protection for Midtown’s Pershing Point Park following advocacy from the Atlanta Preservation Center (APC).

The proposal is scheduled to get an initial review from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission (AUDC) at an Aug. 23 meeting. If the feedback is positive, that will start a public review process culminating in a City Council vote. Landmark status would require City and AUDC review, at the least, for any material changes to the park.

The park is a triangular green space at Peachtree and West Peachtree streets that includes a World War I memorial dedicated in 1920. 

APC has argued that landmark designation is needed to protect the park from speculative development and as a precedent for other green spaces. Only two other City parks currently have such protections: Oakland Cemetery and Washington Park. 

— John Ruch

Football Fest kicks off football season 

Football season is almost here! To get in the spirit, the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame is hosting its annual Football Fest on Saturday, Aug. 26. 

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors can enjoy free admission to the Hall of Fame. The festival is also free and open to the public and will include games, local team mascots, cheerleaders and marching bands.  

There will also be several live DJs, including DJ Jay Envy (official DJ for the Atlanta Falcons), DJ Euphoria and DJ Danny M (who play The Home Depot Backyard before Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United games). The program will be led by emcee Carlos Morales.

“We are thrilled to once again kick off the college football season with this spectacular event,” College Football Hall of Fame CEO Kimberly Beaudin wrote in a recent release. “This is a wonderful opportunity for fans of all ages to come together and join the excitement and buzz surrounding the start of a new season and showcase why Atlanta is the capital of college football.”

For additional event information, click here.

— Hannah E. Jones

Dru Hill set to headline East Point Wednesday Wind Down

Next week, the city of East Point, in partnership with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, continues its Wednesday Wind Down in the Point series with performances by R&B group Dru Hill.

Hip Hop stars Slick Rick, 8 Ball and MJG, along with singer Cherrelle will also perform on Aug. 23 at the Downtown Commons on East Point St. 

Lawn chairs are permitted for this free event; however, tents, pets and outside food are not allowed.

For more information, check out the city’s website.

— Allison Joyner

The new courts at the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA. (Photo courtesy of YMCA.)

YMCA in Southwest Atlanta unveils new sports courts

Earlier this month, the team at the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA debuted their newly constructed Peach Bowl Sports Courts. The courts are multi-purpose and can be used for tennis, pickleball, basketball and more.

Peach Bowl, the charitable organization, funded the renovation through a $250,000 grant. The Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA was founded in 1959, making it one of the earliest Ys in the city. Formerly known as the Southwest Y, it’s now named in honor of Atlanta icons Ambassador Andrew Young and Walter Young.

The new courts are part of an overarching renovation at the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA, including an enhanced lobby space, a new play center, an updated indoor pool, renovated locker rooms and more. The projects are expected to be complete by Jan. 2024.

“We take very seriously our role to enhance our community in ways that make a positive impact in people’s lives,” Peach Bowl CEO and President Gary Stokan wrote. “These sports courts are going to provide a much-needed resource for the children in this area – a special place they can be outside to play and just have fun being kids for years to come. We’re thrilled to be able to help make this project a reality.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Metro editor recalls working at Kansas newspaper targeted by police raid

A metro Atlanta newspaper editor once worked at the small-town Kansas newspaper whose raid by police on Aug. 11 has drawn widespread condemnation as an assault on the First Amendment.

The Marion County Record in Kansas was essentially shut down by the local police department, which seized computers and files at the newspaper’s office and its publisher’s home. Joan Meyer, the paper’s 98-year-old co-owner and mother of the publisher, dropped dead amid the stress

Based on a still-unclear allegation of identity theft for a reporter’s research on a business owner’s DUI record, the raid has been condemned by local and national press rights groups as illegal, unnecessary and politically motivated. The paper has resumed publishing, and the search warrant was withdrawn.

Patrick Fox, managing editor at the Alpharetta-based Appen Media Group, wrote a column last week recalling how he cut his reporting teeth at the Record and worked alongside Meyer. He described him as “furious” about the raid.

“The Marion County Record was my professional nursery,” wrote Fox. “Now, its ability to publish has been seized. I know of no other instance in my lifetime in which police shut down a newspaper in the United States. There are countless cases of it happening in Turkey, China and Russia.”

Appen Media publishes community newspapers in Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Forsyth, Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell and Sandy Springs. Carl Appen, the organization’s director of content and development, also wrote a column about the raid and the lasting work of its late owners, Joan and her husband, Bill Meyer.

“I know Bill and Joan had an impact on the people of Marion County. I also know they had an impact on the people of metro Atlanta,” wrote Appen. “The Meyers coached Pat, who in turn has fostered a group of reporters at Appen Media.”

— John Ruch

NBA vet, Morehouse alum appointed athletic director of alma mater

Earlier this week, Morehouse College announced Harold Ellis will be its new athletic director.

Ellis was a former school basketball team member in the early 90s and played professionally with the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. He later moved to coaching and management in the NBA’s Development League and was the director of player personnel for the New York Nicks and in charge of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons.

“As athletic director, we believe he will be a strong role model for our student-athletes, empowering them to excel in academics and athletics while instilling the values of sportsmanship, teamwork and community service,” said Dr. David Thomas, president of Morehouse. 

— Allison Joyner

Farm Fair gives immersive, family-friendly event centered around food practices, connection with Earth

In an effort to cultivate empathy and appreciation for the natural world, Chattahoochee Nature Center is hosting a Farm Fair on Sept. 17.

The fair will introduce agriculture to the visitors and educate them on the importance of biodiversity by building a connection with nature. 

Guided bird walks, gardening tips and a petting zoo will be there for families to enjoy.  

Visit their website for more information.

— Allison Joyner

Hannah Jones is a Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for...

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