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Reporter’s Notebook: HUB404 park gets $750K in federal funds, MLK Day events, updates on local news publications

The week in local news.

Happy New Year, Atlanta! The SaportaReport team is looking forward to another year of keeping our readers up-to-date on the most important news around the city and metro area. As we dive into 2023, let’s take a moment to enjoy our top stories from 2022.

On to local news from the week:

HUB404 park gets $750K in federal funds

HUB404, the proposed park capping Ga. 400 in Buckhead, has secured $750,000 in federal funds. 

That’s still a baby step toward the estimated $270 million in public and private funds required for the project, which was proposed by the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) and is led by the nonprofit HUB404 Conservancy.

The federal funds were secured in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development budget by U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams late last month as part of a Congressional spending bill.

“On behalf of the entire Buckhead community, we thank Congresswoman Williams for her hard work and leadership to obtain this federal funding,” said BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett in a press release. “This is a significant step toward building HUB404, which will provide safe walkways, greenspaces and easier access to MARTA for residents and visitors.”

Two other highway-capping projects are proposed elsewhere in Atlanta: the “Midtown Connector” and a Downtown “Stitch.” Williams last year helped to secure $1.16 million for the Stitch.

— John Ruch

The King Center announces line-up for 54th annual commemorative service

The King Center recently announced the plans for its 2023 Martin Luther King, Jr. Beloved Community Commemorative Service on Monday, Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. The service will be held at Ebenezer’s Horizon Sanctuary on Auburn Avenue and shown live on FOX 5 Atlanta and the Center’s Facebook page.

During the service, Bernice King will give the Call to Commemoration and Bryan Stevenson — founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative — will join as the keynote speaker. U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens will also attend as guest speakers. Reverend Natosha Reid Rice and Pastor Sam Collier will preside over the event. Additional speakers will present a tribute to the King family. 

The service will also feature performances from the choir, The Covington Regional Ballet and Far East Broadcasting Company Korea Children’s Choir.

Click here for additional information about the King Holiday Observance.

— Hannah E. Jones

Atlanta Intown, Reporter Newspapers rebrand under Rough Draft Atlanta

At the turn of the new year, Publisher and Owner Keith Pepper announced that hyperlocal sister publications Atlanta Intown and Reporter Newspapers will now fall under the joint umbrella of Rough Draft Atlanta. 

The team will continue to print Atlanta Intown and Reporters Newspapers for Brookhaven, Buckhead, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, but Rough Draft Atlanta will serve as the digital home and all-encompassing brand. The daily morning newsletter is also named Rough Draft Atlanta.

Additionally, the monthly publication Atlanta Senior Life will now go under the name Silver Streak Atlanta.

“Embracing Rough Draft gives us the ability to continue to build in new geographic and vertical markets in and around metro Atlanta, and I think it reflects a forward-looking brand that has proven to engage digital audiences,” Pepper wrote in a post on LinkedIn. “Plus, it’s going to look sharp on our new swag!”

— Hannah E. Jones

Additional details. (Courtesy of the City of East Point.)

East Point host MLK day of service in honor of Atlanta native

To recognize the third Monday in January as MLK Day of Service, the City of East Point will host a community-wide service event on Monday, Jan. 16 at the Jefferson Park Recreation Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

“It is important that we continue to do all we can to create a beloved community where justice, equal opportunity, equity and love for humanity abound,” said Deana Holiday Ingrahm, mayor of East Point.

Volunteers will serve hot meals and provide complimentary meal bags to families in need while supplies last. 

The East Point Fire Department will conduct CPR demonstrations and perform diabetes, blood pressure and high cholesterol checks also. 

Check out the city’s website for more information.

— Allison Joyner 

AJC hires digitally focused publisher as it plans to cut print editions

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has hired a digitally focused publisher as it moves toward ending its weekday print editions.

Cox Enterprises, the AJC’s parent company, announced on Jan. 4 that Andrew Morse will be the new president and publisher. He fills a publisher position left vacant since last spring when Donna B. Hall retired.

Morse is the former chief digital officer for CNN Worldwide and led CNN+, a subscription streaming service that was quickly and abruptly killed amid a corporate merger. 

As SaportaReport revealed last year, the AJC plans to discontinue its weekday print editions, most likely this fall, while continuing a “digital-first” reporting model. Cox also recently bought Axios, a digital newsletter-focused outlet that has an Atlanta division. Morse told The New York Times that he intends to work with Axios on expanding its business.

— John Ruch

Shalia, the expecting mother. (Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta.)

Zoo Atlanta expects newest addition to gorilla family this summer

Zoo Atlanta recently announced that two of its ​​Western Lowland Gorillas — Willie B., Jr. and Shalia — will welcome an offspring later this year. The team detected the pregnancy in November and with gestation around eight-and-a-half-months-long, Shalia is expected to give birth between early May and mid-June. 

The baby is Willie B. Jr.’s first offspring and Shalia’s second, a win for the critically endangered species.

“We could not be more thrilled to announce that Shalia is expecting. To see Willie B., Jr. become a father is to experience a wonderful new chapter in the story of his father, who came to define Zoo Atlanta in his lifetime and who still lives large in the memories of countless people in our city,” President and CEO Raymond B. King wrote in a press release. “Importantly, the infant will also be a new member of a critically endangered species that needs our help now more than ever.”

Willie B. Jr. is the sole son of Zoo Atlanta’s most famous gorilla. Brought to Atlanta in 1961 and named after former Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield, Willie B. was the Zoo’s only gorilla. For many years, he lived exclusively indoors. In 1988, the Zoo finally opened its Ford African Rain Forest — a symbol of the Zoo’s transformation — and around 25,000 visitors saw him take his first outdoor steps since childhood. He passed away in 2000, and his ashes were placed inside a statue honoring the beloved gorilla.

Zoo Atlanta recently announced a commitment to five international conservation programs, including an initiative to mitigate threats to apes in the Congo Basin. Click here to learn more about the team’s commitment to conservation.

— Hannah E. Jones

Further details. (Courtesy of the City of Atlanta.)

Local artist needs help completing Adamsville mural

On Saturday, Jan. 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs is asking residents to help paint murals in Adamsville on what they’re calling community paint day. 

Ashley Dopson, community mural artist for the Adamsville Legacy Mural is calling people of all ages to help paint the city’s newest mural at 3455 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. near the Cascade Skating Center. 

The mural will celebrate the people who have contributed to the legacy of civil rights in the capital city including Civil Rights leader CT Martin, Senator Horace Tate and Anne English, the former principal of Peyton Forest Elementary.

Supplies, snacks and chairs for senior citizens will be provided and will be fun for the whole family. 

— Allison Joyner

(L to R) Carole Cox, Darion Dunn, Cheryl Richardson and Ray Thomas. (Photos courtesy of Cobb Community Foundation.)

Cobb Community Foundation welcomes four new board members

In the first few days of January, the Cobb Community Foundation (CCF) announced four additions to its board of directors. In their new roles, the board members will support the nonprofit’s mission to inspire charitable giving, build resources and connect donors with critical causes. 

“Like all our board members, these four individuals are all so well-respected and deeply connected to Cobb County,” CEO Shari Martin wrote in a press release. “I cannot wait to see the impact they will have as we continue to grow our donor-advised and other charitable funds so we can do even more to help our community thrive.”

The four new board members include:

  • Carole Cox, senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments.
  • Darion Dunn, managing partner at Atlantica Properties.
  • Cheryl Richardson, City of Marietta councilwoman and founding attorney at Richardson Legal Services.
  • Ray Thomas, president of Mableton Improvement Coalition.

CCF now has 26 board members serving two-year terms. Members Neera Bahl, Bill Dallas, Frank Howard and Michelle Cooper Kelly concluded their service in 2022.

— Hannah E. Jones

Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and 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 two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.


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