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Reporter’s Notebook: Record-high visitation at Chattahoochee Rec Area, Georgia Trust to hold ‘Spring Ramble’ of historic sites, Kaiser Permanente donates to 10 rural Georgia hospitals

The week in local news.

It’s time to spring forward, Atlanta! Sunday, March 12, marks Daylight Saving Time. With the time change and all this pollen, spring has certainly arrived. Here’s to longer days!

On to other local news:

The fog drifts over the Chattahoochee River at Paces Mill. (Photo courtesy of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.)

Record-high visitation at Chattahoochee National Rec Area in 2022

Last year, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) was the 21st most visited among all NPS units. CRNRA saw over 3,500,000 visitors in 2022, according to a newly released National Park Service 2022 Visitation Report. That’s a record-high for visitation, increasing more than nine percent compared to 2021. 

Overall, the National Park System had 311,985,998 visits last year, with 12 parks breaking their records for most visitations. 

CRNRA includes 15 locations along 48 miles of the Chattahoochee River, including Island Ford, Cochran Shoals and the Palisades. Additionally, the team recently started repairs on the Powers Island step-down ramp at Cochran Shoals — a river access point for tubers, rafters and paddlers. The project is expected to wrap up this summer.

— Hannah E. Jones

Georgia Trust to hold ‘Spring Ramble’ of historic sites, plus special events

Historic homes and sites in College Park and Atlanta’s Ansley Park and Buckhead neighborhoods can be toured during the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2023 “Spring Ramble” from April 20 through 23. 

The “rambles” held by the Atlanta-based Georgia Trust include self-guided tours and social events in historic properties that are not typically open to the public. Advance registration is required, with no walk-up attendance allowed. 

Along with many private homes, the Spring Ramble includes tours of the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead. 

On April 22, the Georgia Trust will hold its annual Preservation Awards ceremony at Buckhead’s historic Peachtree Christian Church as part of the events. 

Besides the Ramble events, the Georgia Trust is holding two separate events to celebrate its 50th anniversary. On April 20, free tours of the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead will be offered, with advance registration required. And a Ramble preview party will be held on March 30 at “the oldest home in Ansley Park.” 

A variety of ticket packages are available for each day or the entire weekend, with and without meal options. For details, see the Georgia Trust website.

— John Ruch

Kaiser Permanente donates $600,000 in total to rural Georgia hospitals

Kaiser Permanente recently made a significant donation to increase healthcare access in rural Georgia, giving $60,000 to 10 hospitals around the state. The funds will increase access to care, reduce preventable hospital readmissions and reduce unnecessary use of hospital emergency rooms.

Rural Georgians face several health disparities compared to their suburban and urban counterparts, according to Georgians for a Healthy Future. Rural residents are less likely to have job-based health insurance, may have to travel further to receive care and face higher rates of chronic health conditions.

The following hospitals each received a $60,000 donation: 

  • Candler County Hospital
  • Colquitt Regional Medical Center
  • Donalsonville Hospital
  • Elbert Memorial Hospital
  • Evans Memorial Hospital
  • Irwin County Hospital
  • Jasper Memorial Hospital
  • Jefferson Hospital
  • Liberty Regional Medical Center Foundation
  • Wills Memorial Hospital Foundation

“At Kaiser Permanente, we believe access to proper health care should be available to all Georgians, no matter where you live in our state,” Pam Shipley, president of Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, wrote in a release. “These donations are a representation of our ongoing commitment to provide care to more Georgians. Access to quality health care leads to thriving communities.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Morehouse Film Festival host ‘Blurring the Color Line’ screening and conversation

On Tue. Mar. 28, the Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival will be hosting a film screening and conversation at the school’s African American Hall of Fame at the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel.

Blurring the Color Line opens up critical conversations on where the Chinese community fit into the black-and-white dichotomy of the segregated south, how anti-Blackness was established and perpetuated, and how marginal groups were pitted against each other in the hierarchical structure of white supremacy.

A discussion of the film with its writer, director and producer, Crystal Kwok will take place. 

The event is free and open to the public. For more information and to reserve tickets, log onto their website

— Allison Joyner

Hala Moddelmog, CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, asks questions of Carol Tomé, CEO of UPS, at the Rotary Club of Atlanta meeting on March 6. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Atlanta Rotary, UPS’ Carol Tomé and women

The Rotary Club of Atlanta now has 100 women members — roughly 20 percent of its membership, announced Stephanie Blank, this year’s president of the club, on March 6.

Rotary didn’t even allow women members until 1987 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the organization’s policy of no women members.

Coincidentally, the speaker at Monday’s meeting was Carol Tomé, the first woman CEO of UPS, an Atlanta-based Fortune 500 company now 115 years old. 

“It was three years ago that I made that jump,” Tomé said. “We were going to have some fun and kick some ass. Then a week later, the world shut down.”

But UPS couldn’t shut down because, during the pandemic, the world needed the delivery of goods more than ever.

“We weren’t ready for that,” Tomé said. “We had to make a mad scramble. It was the wild, wild west.”

Tomé grew up in Wyoming, where she learned to hunt, fish and live off the land.

“I’m incredibly blessed,” she said. “My parents said I could do anything I wanted. I can live off the land, so I was never ever afraid of losing my job.”

During her conversation with Hala Moddelmog, CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, Tomé shared today’s mission statement for UPS — one that was developed during her tenure: “Moving our world forward by delivering what matters.”

That process also made her re-examine her own life’s mission beyond her desire to have a difference. Tomé settled on: “Lead to inspire. Serve to create. Give to remain.”

Tomé also knows that how she leads matters beyond UPS.

“You are not CEO of a company,” she said. “You are a CEO in a community.”

That’s why she and UPS spoke out after the death of George Floyd, saying there’s no place for hate in the world. UPS also spoke out about changes in election laws that could restrict voting.

“We are not red or blue; we are brown,” Tomé said, adding UPS was focused on how to make it easier for people to vote.

In her time at UPS, Tomé has been a change agent — loosening up regimented rules about the appearance of employees. Men can now wear facial hair. Black team members can have natural hair. Everyone can bring their authentic selves to work, she said. 

Tomé also described how decision-making was pushed down from the top executive ranks to being closer to the customer. UPS also is now tagging all packages so they can better track where they are in the shipping chain.

And Tomé has been intentional about training women to work in non-traditional jobs. It created a “women in operations” program, and already 1,1,00 women have graduated.

“We are being intentional,” said Tomé, who knew employees need better childcare. “We put childcare in two of our facilities, and turnover has dropped significantly. Now we want to have childcare throughout our network.”

At the end of the Tomé conversation, Blank asked her to become a Rotarian: “We would love to have 101 women members.”

— Maria Saporta

Additional information about the Wellness Expo.

Links host Black Family Wellness Expo, blood drive at Greenbriar Mall

On Mar. 18, local chapters of the Links, Incorperated are hosting a Black Family Wellness Expo to celebrate National Impact Day of Service.

The event will be held at Greenbriar Mall from noon to 4 p.m. with wellness activities, health screenings, immunizations and more. 

The American Red Cross will also hold a blood drive for attendees to donate. 

Free giveaways and raffle prizes will also be given out to winners. 

To register to give blood, click on the website.

— Allison Joyner

Additional community resource events will be held each month until June. (Photo courtesy of Feed the Children.)

Resources donated to Atlanta Public Schools families, more events on the calendar

Last week, Americold, Feed the Children and the Mayor’s Office of International and Immigrant Affairs held a resource event, distributing supplies to 300 Atlanta Public Schools students and their families. They provided a variety of critical items to each family, including 25 pounds of food, 15 pounds of toiletries and five pounds of toys and activities.

Community partners like Atlanta Public Schools, CORE, Department of Parks and Recreation, Children’s Museum Atlanta and the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library were on-site to share information about their available resources and programs. Atlanta Braves representatives also led games for the kids and their families. 

Additional community resource events will be held each month until June, more information can be found on their social media pages.   

— Hannah E. Jones

Atlanta’s Design Awards nomination deadline extended to March 13

The nomination deadline for part of the City of Atlanta’s 2023 Design Awards has been extended to March 13.

The awards honor people and projects that improve the built environment and community life. There are two categories of awards whose nominees are voted on by different groups with different deadlines: the Awards of Excellence, chosen by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, and the Community Design Awards, voted on by Neighborhood Planning Units. 

The Awards of Excellence is the category with the nomination deadline extension from the original March 6. Anyone can make a nomination. For details, see the Design Awards website.

The Community Design Awards nomination deadline already passed in late February. 

The awards ceremony will be held sometime in the spring.

— John Ruch

Raphael Holloway, CEO of the Gateway Center, talks to Paul Donahue, CEO of Genuine Parts, after the March 7 meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

Atlanta Kiwanis, Paul Donahue and future of EV technology

Widespread use of electric vehicles likely will take longer than most people expect, Paul Donahue, CEO of Genuine Parts, told members of the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta on March.

“There’s a long way to go,” Donahue said. “We are not really going to see a shift in the automobile business for 20 years. Emerging technology is coming, but it’s going to be glacial in terms of when.”

The main reason is the number of combustion-engine cars currently in use and the fact that millions more cars keep being sold every year. 

Genuine Parts, a Fortune 200 company based in metro Atlanta, is now operating in 17 countries, expanding into Spain and Portugal last year.

The use of electric vehicles is “happening faster in Europe than here,” said Donahue, adding that Genuine Parts is getting ready for the transition.

During the question-and-answer portion, Donahue was asked about the use of hybrids.

“We love hybrids because we’ve got both technologies,” Donahue said. “There’s a great middle-ground, and that’s hybrids.”

In fact, Donahue said that Toyota has decided that hybrids will play a much larger role in its product line going forward.

Donahue has been CEO of Genuine Parts for almost seven years. “We’ve only had five CEOs in 95 years. The company proudly boasts that it has had 67 consecutive years of dividend growth. 

As part of its vision for 2025, Donahue said Genuine Parts aspires to be a $25 billion business with $2.5 billion in profit in two years.

“I’m pleased to say we are on a good track, to get there,” said Donahue, who also is serving as the 2023 chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. 

— Maria Saporta

(L to R, top to bottom) Cromwell Baun, Grace Huang, Sam Hosokawa and Patrick Belinski. (Photos courtesy of Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities.)

Atlanta Ronald McDonald House announces new board members

The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities (Atlanta RMHC) recently welcomed three new members to its Board of Directors, in addition to a new Board Chair. The newest members will support Atlanta RMHC’s work to improve pediatric healthcare access and the experiences of families with ill, injured or recovering children. 

Grace Huang, president of Cox Automotive Inventory Solutions, was selected as the Board Chair. In her new position, Huang will prioritize diversity and inclusion within the organization, using it as a key metric.

The new board members include:

  • Patrick Belinski, vice president of Communications, Engagement and Partnerships at The Coca-Cola Company – McDonald’s Division
  • Cromwell Baun, financial advisor with UBS Financial Services Inc. 
  • Sam Hosokawa, vice president of Patient Experience for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Since 1979, Atlanta RMHC has offered safe, reliable housing for over 50,000 families whose child is receiving care nearby.

— 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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