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North Manor Community



North Manor Community

What it took to build a neighborhood

At first glance, you might think that North Manor is an idyllic, tree-lined community with a heart of gold. And after spending some time there, you’d know you were right.

Turn onto East Jones Bridge Road from Peachtree Highway and suddenly the atmosphere changes. Almost immediately, the scenery shifts from strip malls and restaurants to a picturesque neighborhood peppered with community centers and churches.

Despite the current climate, families are still outside taking advantage of the winding sidewalks and sharing a neighborly wave. The schools and playgrounds are currently closed, but on normal spring days, happy children would be making what they’ll later describe as their childhood memories.

North Manor memories

This could be any town in “Mayberry, America,” but what you don’t know is that if it weren’t for the residents of this little community, Peachtree Corners would look very different today. Back in the 1980s when the houses were first being built in North Manor, it was still a rural area surrounding what is now modern-day Peachtree Corners.

It was considered a transient community, and houses went for the high $70s to low $80s. Most of the families moved from the Northeast for jobs in the quickly developing

Southern hub of Atlanta. Tech Park had already been built, and young families were flocking to the “city in the forest” in large numbers.

Jim Gaffey has one of these families. Because most of the residents in North Manor were transplants, no one knew each other. There was no infrastructure in place, no main roads to cut off driving distance and no recreational facilities. Gaffey knew that he’d moved to a rural area; finding an old moonshine still in one of the creeks behind his house confirmed just how far out in the country he really was.

One of the biggest obstacles he encountered was the schools in which he was to send his two young boys. The roads were still being measured by a horse and buggy journey, and the closest schools available were Summerour Middle School and Norcross High School.

Gaffey met with the Superintendant of Schools at the time to address the issue, but instead of reassurance, he was told: “We’ll never build schools in Peachtree Corners just to have them left empty when you all move on, just like you did in Dunwoody.”

He’d already tried and failed twice to start a swim club for the North Manor community, but it was hard to get anything accomplished in a neighborhood full of strangers.

A proposed road leads to a mission

Then came the big announcement that changed it all. The “East Jones Bridge project” is what caught Gaffey’s eye. East Jones Bridge Road was proposed to become the major highway to cut through in Peachtree Corners, just like the modern-day Holcomb Bridge Road.

It would have sliced the North Manor community in half with a major highway running through it. Then they’d add a Planned Unit Development (PUD) modeled after similar neighborhoods in Columbia, Md.

“I looked at the original plans in the local media and saw red,” Gaffey recalled. “I’d just moved from New Jersey where there was no thought behind the plans — they were just putting up buildings anywhere they would fit — and I felt like it was following me down South.”

At the time, there was no real sense of community in the neighborhood, no one to stick up for the little guys and no way of finding out when the hearings would be held. The writing was on the wall for North Manor community just a mere three years after it was built.

Gaffey knew from his experiences in the Northeast that the East Jones Bridge project and subsequent developments would decimate the community.

Connections + contacts = success

Obviously, that’s not the case when you look at the community today. So how did a collection of neighbors who didn’t know each other build the stately North Manor that we know today? The answer is churches.

The residents of the community banded together at the many different congregations in the area, such as Peachtree Corners Baptist Church and Simpsonwood United Methodist Church. “Then a unique thing happened,” Gaffey said. “We started to help one another.”

With the solidarity of the community growing in the churches, they had a fighting chance. By the time they held the first town meeting at the Good Age Building, it was packed with families ready to protest the new building plans.

The grassroots campaign was started, but they had little time to block the vote and almost no outlet to plead their case. The group found two members of the commission and Gaffey met with them to try and influence their vote without success.

Then, a member of the community they’d gotten to know from congregation events, Scott Ferguson, won one of the seats on the commission. He became the key to the success of their campaign. Now they had a powerful member of the campaign on their side — and inside information about when the votes were being held.

By the time the plan was put to a vote, the turnout was far beyond what they’d ever imagined. The North Manor community collected signatures and raised $96,000, all through good, old fashioned door-to-door campaigning.

They won the day and successfully blocked the project that would have changed the face of Peachtree Corners forever. The Linfield subdivision never would have been built, and Simpson Elementary or Pinckneyville Middle schools never would have existed. Jones Bridge Park wouldn’t be the tranquil place for people to escape that it is; instead, it would be a loud eyesore of a bridge. And, of course, the North Manor community wouldn’t be the beautiful oasis it is today.

The start of PCSR

Once Gaffey had a platform on which to stand, the neighbors were able to successfully start the North Manor Swim and Racquet Club. Today, you know it as the Peachtree Corners Swim and Racquet Club (PCSR) — a staple to the community.

“The club founders, all North Manor residents, were involved in blocking multiple large-scale developments in the early 80s that would have dramatically impacted the area,” said Sonny Peiper, a board member of PCSR, as he recalled the swim club’s humble past.

Peiper and many other North Manor residents are excited to celebrate the 35th year of the Waverunners swim team. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter at #Waverunners35.
The swim club is an intricate part of North Manor’s charm. While other areas worship on Fridays, residents here are dazzled by the “Thursday night lights” and all that it means to their history.

North Manor creates a legacy

Nancy Minor, a real estate agent who has lived in the community since its first inception, recalls that “buying in the neighborhood was a leap of faith.” Residents of North Manor first fell in love with the forests surrounding the neighborhood, the creeks where their children might play and the idea that one day it might be a strong community.

Today, with 262 homes, the residents can marvel at having some of the most desirable schools in the county, top-notch community amenities, vibrant bus stops and sidewalks filled with smiling faces. Now, because of the affluent subdivisions that have slowly popped up around the community, North Manor will be protected from any future development plans that might jeopardize all that the residents have accomplished.

It was the neighborly bond with each other that became the most important factor in transforming the North Manor community from a rural afterthought into one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the metro Atlanta area. When Minor is asked if she’ll ever leave North Manor, she simply says, “I love my neighborhood.”

The original residents have lived there long enough to witness the evolution of the neighborhood. Now, their children are grown and looking for homes of their own, and there’s something comforting about watching them try to find communities just like the one their parents have built. ■

Kris Bird is an Atlanta-based freelance writer who specializes in Marketing and Communications. After earning her degree from Stony Brook University, Kris has been working as a science fiction and fantasy novelist for the past decade.

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Twin Authors Chronicle Antics of ‘Four-Legged Brother’



On Feb. 1, the young authors Megan and Mackenzie Grant released the children’s book, “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother.”
Megan and Mackenzie Grant

Berkeley Lake second graders make fans across the globe with sweet children’s story.

When rescue dog Apollo found his forever home with Megan and Mackenzie Grant, the Berkeley Lake twins knew they had added a special member to the family. He’s so beloved that he’s considered their “four-legged brother.”

Apollo is a Boston terrier. The breed is known for its friendliness and love of people and children. According to the Purina Company, makers of all kinds of pet food, Boston terriers  make affectionate pets and are outgoing and social. 

While they are called ‘terriers,’ they are not in the terrier group, nor do they behave like them. They are far happier at home with their owner than getting into the usual mischief. 

But Megan and Mackenzie see him as a silly addition to the family.

“He’s super cool because he’s always up for fun and loves us a whole bunch. And guess what? We love him back even more! He’s like the best friend ever, wagging his tail and making everything awesome!” they said in a press release.

Apollo’s birthday inspiration

As his first birthday approached, the girls, six years old at the time, wanted his day to be special.

“I said, ‘Well if you want to come up with something to do, let’s write it out,’” said mom Tameka Womack.  “So they started writing out all these different adventures, and it was so cute.”

Megan recalled that their teacher had told them about someone who had published a book, and she asked if they could, too.

“When I read through it, they had all the different things, like playing dress up because we had bought some clothes for him. And we take them out for long walks around the lake and stuff,”  Womack added.

Although their favorite subjects in school are PE and art, they did such a good job with the tale that Tameka worked with them to get it published. On Feb. 1, the young authors released the children’s book, “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother.”

Publishing success

The 30-page book took off almost immediately. Available for print and digital through Amazon and print editions through Barnes & Noble, the book has reached customers in the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy,  Poland and throughout the U.S.

The girls and their mom were so pleased and surprised to find out the book was No. 1 in its category on Amazon.

“They were just so excited that people actually bought the book,” said Womack. “They were just like, ‘Wow, who is buying this?’”

Feedback from fellow twins, animal lovers and teachers showed that the story resonated on many levels.

“As an educator, I am always on the lookout for diverse and inclusive literature for my students. ‘How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother’ not only captivated the imaginations of the children in my class but also served as a wonderful conversation starter about friendship, empathy and the beauty of diversity,” wrote Ashleigh Darby.

The royalties from book sales are tucked away, with a percentage going to Apollo’s wardrobe.

“He won’t go out in the rain without his raincoat … or out in the winter without his sweater,” said Womack. “We have a little budget for his clothes because every time the girls see something, they’re like, ‘Oh, I think Apollo will like it.’  I’m like, I think he would too, but let’s let it stay in the store.”

Nurturing creativity

Although both mom and dad are engineers and kind of hoped that the twins would follow in their footsteps, Womack said she’s okay with them being artistic and creative.

“Writing is teaching them some responsibility and teaching them a little bit about money,” she said. “Now they want to write a book every day.”

Between raising three daughters (the twins have an older teenage sister), running a household with her husband and keeping up with her career at Georgia Tech, Womack said she’ll look for time to continue helping the girls with their dreams.

“With summer coming up, I would definitely encourage parents to help their children explore their creativity in any kind of way, from digging holes in the ground to … seeing the world … to creating books instead of being on the internet,” said Womack. I try to limit my kids’ screen time … and build real memories.”

Find “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother” on Amazon.

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Local State Reps Give Roundup of Legislative Session



(left to right) Dale Russell, Rep. Ruwa Romman and Rep. Scott Hilton // Photos by George Hunter

Hilton, Romman trade friendly banter that reflects diverse views in Georgia government

Georgia State House District 97 Representative Ruwa Romman and District 48 Representative Scott Hilton, whose constituents include parts of Southwest Gwinnett County, including Peachtree Corners, sat down for a second time to share information about legislative action at the State Capital

Their discussion was part of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast series at Atlanta Hilton Northeast.

Although they sit on opposite sides of the aisle, Hilton and Romman both seek to sponsor and pass legislation that improves and maintains a high quality of life in the Peach State and provides its residents with what they need. 

Elected in 2022, this was Romman’s sophomore year in the State House. She serves on the Georgia House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, Georgia House Information and Audits Committee and Georgia House Interstate Cooperation Committee. 

Hilton previously served in the State House from 2017 to 2019 but took a “sabbatical,” as he calls it, to serve as executive director for the Georgians First Commission under the Office of Governor Brian Kemp

He was re-elected to his current position in 2022. He is the vice chair of the Georgia House Creative Arts and Entertainment Committee and the Georgia House Education Committee, as well as a member of the Georgia House Public Health Committee and the Committee on Georgia House Urban Affairs.

Senate Bill 63

The moderator, Norcross resident and former WAGA political reporter Dale Russell started off with a topic making headlines: Senate Bill 63. This law, signed by Gov. Kemp shortly after the session ended, prohibits charities, individuals or groups from providing bail funds for more than three people per year unless they register as bonding agencies. It also expands mandatory cash bail to 30 new offenses.

“I think it’s going to bring home safety to the community,” said Hilton. “I ran on that issue because as I was knocking on doors, I’ve heard from folks who [want to] keep our community safe. And unfortunately, no community has been immune from the uptick in crime that we had seen post-COVID, so this was one of those bills in response to that.”

Hilton gave examples of crimes where individuals out on bail committed acts such as murder.

“That was our commitment back to our constituents to say, ‘Listen, we’re not going to let bad guys back out onto the streets again to do more crime.’ This bill was in response to this; it’s going to keep our community safe, hold those accountable and bring justice to those who break the law,” Hilton remarked. 

“Unfortunately, right now, we’ve got district attorneys and sheriffs across Georgia who are blatantly disregarding the law and letting folks back out on the streets who pose, you know, safety risks to law-abiding citizens like you and I and your businesses,” he continued.

Russel pointed out that there’s been a lot of criticism of this law. 

“The ACLU was totally against it. Some felt like it was imprisoning poor people in the sense, for minor crimes,” he said.

“I do agree with the criticism for a few reasons,” said Romman. 

“The problem with this bill is that of the 30 crimes that are listed as now requiring a cash bail, the majority of them don’t actually require jail time, even if you’re found guilty of them. So now, somebody who would not even have ever served time for those crimes that are listed could now serve jail time because they cannot afford their bail,” she explained.

She added that the law doesn’t address the crimes it’s supposed to protect citizens from.

“We see these headlines, but this bill doesn’t address those because what we see happening is that a lot of churches now will no longer be able to bail people out that cannot afford their bail because of this bill,” she said.

“And churches that have been trying to, for example, reunite a parent with their children for Christmas, or whatever the case may be, can no longer do that. There is actually an exception written into this bill for bail bondsmen. So, it’s not like being able to pay cash bail is completely out of the question. It just means that somebody can make money off of it now,” Romman continued.

Hilton said the state isn’t done with addressing public safety issues as they come up.

“I know that’s been a priority of the governor, and I think rightfully so; you know, there’s a reason we’ve got citizens flocking to Georgia over the last ten years; we’ve added a million Georgians to our state, and they are leaving states with policies that don’t have this. They’re coming to Georgia for economic prosperity, for safety and for good schools,” said Hilton.

House Bill 1105

Another controversial bill, HB 1105, is framed as a public safety bill that requires local enforcement to coordinate with federal immigration officials when someone in custody is suspected of being in the country illegally. 

Some say it’s an immigration bill.

“I know that the federal administration is trying to tell us there’s not a crisis. But there is a humanitarian crisis going on right now on our southern border.  … But they’re not handling it the right way, and it’s starting to impact our communities,” said Hilton.

“We’ve got sheriffs who have folks in their custody, who [need] to be reported up to ICE. And essentially, they’re sort of ignoring what’s in the law right now that says you got to report these folks,” he explained.

Romman doesn’t see it that way.

“Again, when you read the contents of the bill, that is, unfortunately, not what it does,” she said. “I’m one of the few, if not the only, member of the legislature that’s done any border project work,” she remarked.

She talked about her work keeping unaccompanied immigrant minors safe.

“I want to remind people that when we talk about immigration, there’s an entire spectrum of people that we are talking about. And it’s not just at the border, it’s also people that fly into our country legally, that gets narrowed into a terrible immigration system,” Romman said.

“It forces our state and county and city police to do federal-level work without more funding. What we’re doing is we’re actually adding an increased burden, essentially onto their workload that we are not paying for. And in addition, within this bill, if they do not do this, they could lose more funding.”

She added that this will take the police away from focusing on local issues and trying to work with people who live in their communities.

“If a community member feels like if they reach out to police for help, and the police are going to deport them, they are less likely to report crimes and less likely to work with our local police department,” Romman said. “If we’re serious about immigration and its relationship to crime, immigrants are 30% less likely to commit crimes, and I don’t want to vilify an entire group of people.”

Romman said she supports a holistic, three-pronged approach that includes improving conditions on the border and pathways to citizenship.

Business-related legislation

When the smoke cleared, both Hilton and Romman joked that they had different opinions about many issues but agreed that’s a healthy part of how the government works. 

“The fact that we do disagree and the fact that you, the community, have varying choices and options out there. I think it’s a healthy part of the process,” said Hilton. “And we do have fun. I was telling somebody we play kickball about halfway through the session, and we do get along.”

The discussion moved on to topics such as the FTC ruling on non-compete clauses and tort reform, which just about everyone in the room agreed upon. Although employees could see the beauty of disallowing non-compete clauses, as business owners, they’d hate to see trade secrets put in jeopardy or valuable time and money put into training to benefit another company. 

And everyone wanted to see caps on personal injury claims for things like slip-and-falls and fleet vehicle accidents.

“One of the few regrets I have coming out of session is that we didn’t do more on tort reform,” said Hilton. “Right now, Georgia is the number one judicial hellhole in the nation, meaning that we have more lawsuits on businesses and payouts than anywhere else in the country.”

This was one area where both representatives had similar views.

“I don’t think this is a left or right issue,” said Romman. “I want to make sure that whatever tort reform we pursue does not let, for example, a bad-acting company off the hook. But on the flip side, if somebody is just going around and suing everybody all the time to try and make some money off of it, how do you protect corporations and businesses from those kinds of bad incidents litigation?”

“What I will continue to look for when it comes to tort reform is, how are we going about balancing that?” she added.

Looking ahead

As the session wrapped, Romman and Hilton pointed out legislation they’d like to see move forward next year.

“House Bill 971 creates a $300 tax credit for taxpayers who sign up for firearm safety training or purchase a safe storage device. It’s a bipartisan measure, viewed by some as a small but perhaps significant move for gun safety advocates, which was tabled in the Senate room,” said Romman. 

She said the bill wouldn’t even require someone to disclose that they owned a firearm, but it was meant to incentivize people to store their firearms properly.

“There wasn’t a lot of appetite if somebody didn’t properly store their gun to have consequences for that, so we thought it would just incentivize better behavior,” she said.

Hilton mentioned school safety. 

“Over the last three years, every single school in Georgia has gotten a one-time $100,000 grant for School Safety. That’s every school in Georgia; in this most recent budget, we included $45,000 in recurring money for every school in the state to do whatever they want to ensure their campuses are safe,” he said. This includes private schools as well.

At the end of the event, Hilton and Romman reminded the audience that they weren’t running against each other, and even though their views were different, their goals for a better Georgia were equally as passionate.

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City of Peachtree Corners Unveils Space-Inspired Tot Lot Playground



Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration. 
Photos by Dorie Liu

On Friday, May 10, 2024, the City of Peachtree Corners held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony of its new space-themed Tot Lot Playground on Town Green.

Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration.  This new play area includes a rocket ship, a moon rover, a crashed UFO and other fun designs. It was also created to be fully accessible, ensuring all children can enjoy it.

During the ribbon-cutting, children and their guardians enjoyed fun activities, including an ice cream truck, bubble lady, balloon animals, face painting and even a visit from Buzz Lightyear.

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