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Candidate Keybo Taylor, talks about his run for Gwinnett County Sheriff [Podcast]



Keybo Taylor Candidate for Gwinnett County Sheriff

There are many candidates in the upcoming election for Gwinnett County Sheriff, so what makes Keybo Taylor different from the rest? Join Rico Figliolini as Keybo shares stories about his life in Gwinnett, his opinions, views, and ideas of what he will do if elected Sheriff. Recorded at Atlanta Tech Park in the City of Peachtree Corners.

Website: https://keyboforsheriff.com/
Social Media:

Where in the show to find these topics:
[00:00:30] Intro
[00:02:31] About Keybo Taylor
[00:08:47] Keybo and Football
[00:13:25] Faith and the Campaign
[00:17:00] Details about Sheriffs and Police
[00:18:47] Sheriff Qualifications
[00:19:17] Why run for sheriff?
[00:23:30] Keybo vs. other candidates
[00:24:50] Sheriff’s department and ICE
[00:29:57] Attracting Staff
[00:38:44] Technological Advances in the Sheriff’s department
[00:41:54] Fiscally responsible decision making
[00:47:20] Closing

“You know, when you go back to talking about faith base, I think I’ve been moved in this direction for a long time, and I didn’t even know I was being moved in this direction…I believe I would say that it started with the Trayvon Martin shooting. So social media, drove some people out to make a lot of different comments about some things. And what I was seeing was people that were in law enforcement that were making statements and taking on a particular attitude that I just knew for a fact that that’s not the position that a law enforcement officer should be taking…So back in 2016, you know, we were having more and more incidents that were starting to come out. And I was very vocal about some things, you know. Very critical about some positions that I felt like law enforcement was taking. And it wasn’t just because of that, it was just things that I was seeing and hearing from people that held those positions. And I’m like, that’s not what this is about.”

Keybo Taylor

Podcast transcript

Rico: [00:00:30] This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life here in the city of Peachtree Corners. I have a special guest today, but before we get to him, I want to say thank you to Atlanta Tech Park for being a sponsor of this podcast. We’re here in Atlanta Tech Park in the city of Peachtree Corners. They’re like, think of them as an accelerator with an incubator. This is about 70 companies I’ve worked out at this location. Well, high tech, innovative type companies, and we’re right on the Technology Parkway, which is Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners, which is also another big thing that’s going on here. 5G technology driven through Sprint. Mobile technology, IOT, the internet of everything. This is just a great place for any company to be situated in this area and to be able to work with a lot of other innovative companies. Our lead sponsor is Hargray Fiber. They are, a business that crafts customized solutions for hundreds of businesses in the Southeast, and they deal with small businesses that are looking for affordable bundle services as well as enterprise level businesses looking for a full suite of managed it services. Hargray Fiber customizes their solution that works best for your business. So the new Peachtree Corners that we’re putting up. In other cities, they’ve worked B2B, business to business. And if you’re looking for a local fiber cable company to do your internet, your voice and TV solutions. This is a company that is, works on a local basis, but it’s in the Southeast. So now that we’ve done that, let me introduce our guest today. Keybo Taylor. Hey, Keybo.

Keybo: [00:02:12] Good morning. Good evening.

Rico: [00:02:15] Well, depending on when you’re listening to this, but Keybo here, is running, he’s a Democrat.

Keybo: [00:02:21] I’m a Democrat. That’s correct.

Rico: [00:02:23] We’re not hiding from that. So we’re, we’re running for, you’re running for Gwinnett County sheriff, right?

Keybo: [00:02:30] That’s correct.

Rico: [00:02:31] Excellent. So the whole idea of this podcast would be to know a little bit more about Keybo about what a Gwinnett sheriff does. What do you expect to do out of it? And to also find out a little bit about your philosophy. So why don’t you tell us, just tell us a little bit of who you are.

Keybo: [00:02:46] Sure, again, my name is Keybo Taylor. I always like to start out with the fact that I am a lifelong resident of Gwinnett County. One of the few that was actually born here in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Back when we had the old button going at hospitals. So that dates me up just a little bit about how old I am. I’ve lived here in Lawrenceville, you know, other than just the short period of time here, there’s four school, but I’ve lived here in Lawrenceville practically my whole life. It started with the Gwinnett County police department when I was 23 years old, fresh out of school, worked there for 26 years, had a very colorful career, I would say. Yeah,
great career. Wouldn’t change anything about it for the world. I retired from the Gwinnett County police department back in ‘09, 2009. But while I was there, I had the opportunity to work. 14 years of the 26 years I was there I worked in, I spent them in special investigations, where I worked. Everything from, you know, narcotics type crimes, organized type crimes, things such as that. And, got to spend some time as the narcotics unit commander. There is a Lieutenant, and then I retired as the, as a Major out of one of the precincts. But I also retired as well as the first and only at that time, the highest ranking African American in that, in the history of the Gwinnett County police department.

Rico: [00:04:24] And a police department that really is not, maybe today it is, but it wasn’t too diverse back then. Wasn’t?

Keybo: [00:04:30] No, it wasn’t there, the diversity, I don’t remember us having any Hispanics there or Asian officers at that time. There were three other African American officers that was there to pull, what the police department at the time. But I was hired on. So, when I started, we had a total of six.

Rico: [00:04:55] Out of?

Keybo: [00:04:56] probably at that time we were probably about 150, 150, maybe 200 men in the department.

Rico: [00:05:05] Men, women came way later.

Keybo: [00:05:07] There had been women, yeah, I’m not trying to be one sided with it, but, 200 it was probably between 150-200 sworn officers that was there.

Rico: [00:05:23] And you went, you said you went to Central Gwinnett high.

Keybo: [00:05:26] I graduated from high school here in Lawrenceville.

Rico: [00:05:31] And you’re wife Linda?

Keybo: [00:05:34] My wife, Linda, she is from Dacula. Interesting story about her. I met her in the first grade. First grade, that’s correct. That was before they had actually integrated the, the school system here in Gwinnett County. So we all started a school in the first grade at Hope or Renwick, a school, which is in Lawrenceville. So she was bused over from Dacula and of course, what goes in Lawrenceville, and that’s where I actually…

Rico: [00:06:08] They brought your wife right to you.

Keybo: [00:06:11] Little did I know in the first grade that that’s how it would be.

Rico: [00:06:14] Wow. And you have it from two children.

Keybo: [00:06:17] We have two kids. Kesha and Justin. And, my daughter in law, which is also my daughter, Christina, and they have two kids. And, and, we’re looking for a third one to be on the way here soon.

Rico: [00:06:31] You’re looking, I’m assuming they’re looking also, right?

Keybo: [00:06:33] They’re looking also.

Rico: [00:06:36] That’s cool. It’s good to have, I’m waiting for, I won’t have grandkids for a while. I think they keep telling, my kids keep telling me they’re not going to have kids, so.

Keybo: [00:06:43] I’ve heard that, really. So let me tell you how quickly it changed. I heard that too. And then the next thing I heard when he got married, they came in, they told me they wanted five kids. I said, okay. I was hoping for three, but you know, let’s see, y’all five comes out for you, but if you give me five and bless me with five, I’m okay with it.

Rico: [00:07:04] They were shooting for the moon.

Keybo: [00:07:06] And let me tell you, they keep you young though.

Rico: [00:07:09] And then they’re the ones that you really want to protect.

Keybo: [00:07:12] That’s correct. One of them. Kristen, I called him my campaign manager. If you ever go onto my Facebook, you see pictures where we had the Kings day parade back here this past Monday. And he was out with me, and he was, I think he had more fun than you know, just about everybody else out there. But he got to ride in the car, got out of the car, passed out a handout, lists and things such as that. But we had a great time.

Rico: [00:07:41] That’s cool, that’s a great way to bond with kids.

Keybo: [00:07:44] Let me tell you. It is, it really is.

Rico: [00:07:48] And you, your educational background. Just to tally through some of the stuff in your background, you went to Mercer university?

Keybo: [00:07:55] I got my undergrad at Mercer, criminal justice. Got my master’s degree from Columbus State University in public administration.

Rico: [00:08:04] Cool.

Keybo: [00:08:07] May I also say something else too. Yeah, I’m a, I’ll always like to throw a couple of other things in. I’m a proud graduate of the Georgia command college class number 10. And, also, the DEA Drug Commanders Academy out of Washington. So yeah.

Rico: [00:08:29] A lot of experience, that’s for sure.

Keybo: [00:08:31] Thank you.

Rico: [00:08:32] A lot of street experience I imagine too.

Keybo: [00:08:34] I spent nine years as an investigator. Nine of those 14 years was actually working cases, so yeah.

Rico: [00:08:40] And I imagine the stories you can tell that you have from that. Did you play football?

Keybo: [00:08:46] I did.

Rico: [00:08:47] Did you enjoy playing football? I remember that was a while ago. So it’s not like people worry about concussions, that one stuff.

Keybo: [00:08:54] You know, I tell people back in the old days when I played and I’m dating myself again, you know, when you came off the field, if you didn’t have that transfer, a paint on your helmet, that was a sign that you didn’t do anything. So, you know, the more paint that you have from your opponents helmet on the yours is so that you had a better game. So, but no, we didn’t really worry too much about that back at the time. But let me tell you what it did for me. Of course, I enjoy playing and you know, I’m dealing with, you know, bad knees and backs and everything else now. But what it did for me was right out of high school they had started an eighth grade program here in Gwinnett County, and I get a call from a guy one day by the name of Dick Hodges, and he called me up and told me, he said, look, you, you know, I just got your, you know, your information from, your head coach over at the high school, Talley Johnson. This is right after I graduated. And I’m like, okay, you know, what is this about? You said, I want you to come on and coach football with me. And I’m like, you gotta be kidding me. You know? Cause I felt like I said, you know, when I was playing football, I couldn’t even hardly remember the plays out there. You know, you’d be so nervous out there on the field, but, but let me tell you, it was the start of something very profound in my life. I started coaching, on the eighth grade staff with this guy. And, I’ve coached little league football in high school off and on since 1979. Any time that I had the opportunity between that to actually get out there and be involved, you know, with these kids, with these youth, you know, I’ve done it. So, you know, sometimes I’ll look at it as is my ministry. Sometimes I’ll look at it as just my calling.

Rico: [00:10:50] Have you found kids changing over the years that the fact that you’ve done it so long cause you found that the attitudes changing a little bit?

Keybo: [00:10:57] Oh yes, yes. You know, I’ve coached kids, kids of kids that I coached, you know, in a couple of situations I’ve had the grandkids of, you know, of a player that I’ve had. You know, you’re really just a little bit here, but, but the thing of it is, is that you do see there has been a change and, you know, that the one thing that is constant in life is change. From generation to generation with these kids. You have to be, you know, an agent of change is what I call it. I don’t know what anybody else would call it, but you know, you have to help people through change and you have to be willing to change and modify what you do yourself. You know, I know that some of my tact is out there. This, I coached this last year and I posted on 11 year old group. And one thing that I noticed is, is that, you know, I really. You know, had to start to change my ways too, you know, and I’ve always been a little resistant to change, but this past year, I coach with my son and he was more of the easy going guy, you know, and I was still that, you know, the one that was, you know, this whole rough guy out there. But let me tell you, when those kids, man, you know, they show you so much love. And that’s the one thing that I, you know, I’ve seen that is that, it’s more so today than it was when I first started. They require more, they require more love, and they’re not, they’re not ashamed or reluctant to show you back love, you know? It’s, you come in the practice, Hey coach, how you doing? You know, how was your day today? You know, and they would ask you how your day was. And you know, I don’t know if they were doing it just because the parents had told them that was a good thing. But yeah. But some of them, you know, it’s, it’s legitimate and it’s like they cared about you, you know, and how you were doing. A short story and I know I’m getting off on a lot. We’ve got a long way to go, but, I, I was having some bad knee problems out there and I was coaching with a cane this last year and they would come, how are you feeling today, coach? You know, how’s your knee? You know, it’s like, it hurts, man. You see me, you, you know, walking and limping out here and hurt. But, but, probably one of the best experiences I’ve had with that.

Rico: [00:13:25] It’s a good thing they didn’t tackle you on the field that would’ve been bad. So let’s, let’s go down that a little bit. And you have, countless churches, missions and pastors have endorsed you. So, you know, big question. You know, I come from Brooklyn, I’m a Brooklyn Tavin Catholic, came down to the South, became born again Christian, breaking Democrat or Reagan, although I’m not Republican. Right now, I’m agnostic to some degree, and I will choose my, my, my, poisons better. But, faith, especially in the South, I find faith that drives a lot of things. So how does faith work for you in what you’re doing?

Keybo: [00:14:14] I am very strong in my faith. I was raised Baptist. We kid about the fact that, when I was coming up, man, we spent some days on Sundays, all day in church, and you know, but it should foundation. And one thing that, no matter where I’ve been, whatever is going on with me, my faith has always been what has guided me. Sustained me, you know, lifted me up. Brought me through some things, man, that I didn’t think I was going to be able to get through. I always tell the story that when it was left up to me, I could’ve really put myself on a bad path.

Rico: [00:15:01] We all feel the same sometimes.

Keybo: [00:15:02] But I also knew too, that it was my faith that brought me back. So when I got started with this one thing that we talked about, what we were, you know, sitting around talking about what does this look like? What is it that we’re trying to get accomplished? And no matter where we went, whatever we did, who we talked to, it always came back to how you connect with the community. And what I’ve always known, man, is the people that have their ear to the ground, that knows what’s going on in the community, that can connect with the communities of faith based leaders. So we, we set it up to where, you know, we reached out to, you know…

Rico: [00:15:52] Some of the individual pastors?

Keybo: [00:15:54] Most of the, a lot of the individual pastors, cross faith, you know, and, and when we would talk to them and ask them, you know, what is important to them, you know, I didn’t go in there telling them, you know, what was important to me right? I asked what was important to them and almost to the man or woman, it always came back to, it was how law enforcement interacted with the community. You know, especially out there in parts of the community that never saw law enforcement unless they were coming in, you know, for a negative reason. So, that’s what we did is we talked about partnership and in with, you know, faith based leaders. You know, I gave them my word that, you know, when I, when you know that this partnership won’t stop, you know, we’ll continue to have these conversations and make sure that, you know, that I’m doing my part from the Sheriff’s department to make sure that, you know, we give a better light or a more positive light of law enforcement.

Rico: [00:17:00] So let’s go down that road a little bit because most people might not realize what a sheriff really does. So, so why don’t you help us out a little bit. So as far as, what’s the difference, let’s go through this fairly quick just to educate a little bit. What’s the difference between a sheriff and a police chief or a sheriff and police?

Keybo: [00:17:18] Okay. Police chiefs. All your, most of all of your police departments here in the State of Georgia is mandated by either a council or commission. Here in Gwinnett County, it is, they’re mandated by the, they answer to the Gwinnett County board of commissioners. So the police chief is actually hired by the board of commissioners and their function is, is for law enforcement. You know, investigative…

Rico: [00:17:46] Felonies, murders?

Keybo: [00:17:48] You know, whatever. Yeah, investigating all types of crimes, traffic control, at some calls, you know, responding to accidents, that type of thing. Sheriff’s department is constitutional position. And basically what the mandate of the sheriff is, is to run the jail. Secure the courts and to serve warrants and civil papers. Those are the main functions of the sheriff. But one thing about it is, is that the sheriff has a lot of other discretions of other things that you can do outside of those mandates, you know, providing that your budget and your manpower, you know, allows or permits you to do it.

Rico: [00:18:37] We, as far as the boundaries of the Sheriff’s jurisdiction, would be what? Well, I mean, you’ve already stated it, statewide.

Keybo: [00:18:45] Statewide, that’s correct.

Rico: [00:18:47] Qualifications to be a sheriff?

Keybo: [00:18:50] You have to be post certified, I believe, or get your post certification within a certain time period of you being elected. You have to go through the process or record, you can’t have felonies or, you know, those type of things. Then you go through the election process and if you are elected, then you, there’s some other training that you’re mandated to go through.

Rico: [00:19:17] All right. Let’s get back to a little bit to why you chose that you want to, I mean, you’re retired, you’re doing football. I mean your life could be a little easier. Why do you want to be sheriff?

Keybo: [00:19:29] You know, when you go back to talking about faith base, I think I’ve been moved in this direction for a long time, and I didn’t even know I was being moved in this direction. You know, just. You know, you kind of navigating through life. I was happy, you know, I was happily retired, got out and got to do some things that, you know, I had always wanted to do. Tried coaching football at a higher level that, you know, more of a professional level. You know, we own a, a fitness business on the side too. So, you know, I’ve got to dibble and dabble in a whole lot of different things, a lot. But what I was seeing was. Saw some things taking place, started, I believe I would say that it started with the Trayvon Martin shooting. So social media, drove some people out to make a lot of different comments about some things. And what I was seeing was people that was in law enforcement. That was making statements and taking on a particular attitude that I just knew for a fact that that’s not the position that a law enforcement officers should be taking. Sheriff Conway made a statement and I think he, well, I don’t think, I know. He called, made a statement about, Black Lives Matters being a terrorist group. So he and I had a conversation about it and, and, you know, I was just like, you know, look, you’re the sitting sheriff. You know, if that is your thoughts, initial thoughts, but you know, you’re the sheriff for everybody in this community and, you know, to make a statement like that is not helpful to what this situation is as the, what it calls for. So back in 2016, you know, we were having more and more incidents that were starting to come out. And I was very vocal, you know, about some things, you know. Very critical about some, some positions that I felt like law enforcement was taking. And it wasn’t just because of that, it was just things that I was seeing and hearing, you know, from people that was, that held those positions. And I’m like, that’s not what this is about. You know? So what I did was I organized, a prayer vigil up at the courthouse. This was in July of 2016 and what we did was, we brought in, you know, clergy, faith based leaders, law enforcement, and we got them together. We did a prayer vigil up to the court, the justice and administrations, on the grounds there. And what we did was, after they pray for each other, you know, we took that opportunity for everybody to meet a police officer. You know? And what was profound about it was, you know, I knew some people, man, they brought their kids up
there and they were telling me, you know, Hey, look, my kid is afraid of the police. You know? I said, well, this is an opportunity. And they got to see these police officers for who and what they really were. You know, they are people every day out here trying to do a job. You know, just trying to get home to their families and they were wanting to do the right thing. So from that, and I know that that’s a long answer, but you know, when you asked me, you know, that’s, that was the beginning of it for me. And it wasn’t until maybe about January last January, December, January, people were approaching me about running and, I finally made up my mind around about January that you know, that I would do it. So here we are.

Rico: [00:23:16] And it takes a lot of steps, obviously, I think family and consideration with the family and stuff.

Keybo: [00:23:21] It does. It helps to have the support of your family.

Rico: [00:23:24] Yes. More before anyone else’s endorsements.

Keybo: [00:23:28] That’s correct.

Rico: [00:23:30] It’s a crowded field.

Keybo: [00:23:32] Yes, it is.

Rico: [00:23:33] So, you know, being that it’s a crowded field, what would you, you know, what differentiates you from, from the rest of that field?

Keybo: [00:23:40] Well, all of my opponents bring certain things to the table, you know, in terms of education, in terms of experience. What makes me different is my connections with Gwinnett County. My roots are here in Gwinnett County. The things that I’ve done outside of law enforcement is what sets me apart. You know, I can work across the owls with Republicans, Democrats, anybody, all social groups, racial groups. I just had that experience that, you know, what I have done and you know, the connections that I made, it just makes me what I believe to be the stronger and the best candidate. And, you know, when we talk about, all of us talk about similar things. So what we want to try to get accomplished out here, but you have to be able to build those relationships, maintain those relationships, and have the confidence of, of the people that you’re trying to build these relationships with if you’re going to be successful out here.

Rico: [00:24:50] For sure. The, so you do have a lot of candidates out there running and everyone has different issues that they’re. Issue, if you will, to a degree. You’ve been talking a little bit more, about collaborating with the DA, the police departments on the, using his existing task force, not necessarily creating new ones, but collaborating with them on their task force, with violent crime. But you’ve also mentioned mental health.

Keybo: [00:25:19] Such as something to that. I’m not opposed to create a new task force. As I stated earlier, you know, I was the commander of the drug task force. So I understand the importance of task forces. And what I didn’t mention was, was that, I was also assigned to the FBI drug task force for a period of time. So I understand the importance of task force and, if we’re going to get some other things accomplished when you don’t have, you know, the manpower. If you don’t have, you know, the funding task forces other ways to go.

Rico: [00:25:57] So Sheriff’s department can work with them.

Keybo: [00:25:59] We can. I can, yeah. I’d already said that long before. I hear now that the governor’s talking about human trafficking, but when I first started, as I talked about taking people that are participating in the, in the two 87G program, now, taking them out of that program and, and assigning them to. You know, any type of federal task force or a local task force that deals with human trafficking.

Rico: [00:26:22] And two 87G for those people that may not know, has to deal with the ice. Taking illegals off the street, arresting them, and you’re doing such, your local police doing ice work without getting paid for it. But using local police to be able to, to do federal work.

Keybo: [00:26:42] That’s correct.

Rico: [00:26:43] Which causes problems. Also locally. I mean, I know some people say, well, they’re illegal. They should be removed, but 12 million illegal aliens in the United States. I mean, you know, not, they’re not all going to be shipped home no matter how anyone looks at that. It’s just never going to happen.

Keybo: [00:26:59] That’s not going to happen.

Rico: [00:27:00] And they, a big part of not only the economy, but of our community. You were talking about. So you can, you know, I’m sure there were kids that may have been from illegal parents that were playing football, you know, that you might’ve dealt with.

Keybo: [00:27:12] Absolutely. No, absolutely.

Rico: [00:27:14] They are people, right.

Keybo: [00:27:17] And you know, some of the kids, I didn’t even know that they were coming from an illegal parent situations like that until I got into this race. Some of the best kids that I had. You know, that their parents said, you know, came here and they were not documented here. And, and, you know, and I’ve spoken to some of them and I talk about how the hardship of it was, I didn’t even know it, you know, I mean, I was gone. I had gone on back to doing my own little thing and then even know what those situations was really about. But basically, you know, immigration is a federal, it’s a federal law. It’s a federal issue. And you know, somewhat. People
talk about what, you don’t want to enforce the law. It’s not that I don’t want enforce the law. I’m going to enforce what is mandated by the state of Georgia, you know? And that is not mandated by the state of Georgia. That’s an agreement that the current share of Butch Conway entered into with ice.

Rico: [00:28:15] And that’s also a volunteer agreement, right?

Keybo: [00:28:17] Yes, it is.

Rico: [00:28:18] So we don’t have to, Sheriff’s department does not have to enter that. Then of course, tend to, they chose that to that agreement.

Keybo: [00:28:25] You look at, I think, at last count there was 90 agencies in the nation that participated in two 87G. That’s 90 agencies, 90 agencies, and three of them that I’m familiar with is here in the state of Georgia. Maybe more, I had heard that there was as many as five, but I can, you know, tell your authority. That tells you that it’s not a mandated thing. It’s a, it’s an agreement by choice.

Rico: [00:28:58] That doesn’t stop, you know, if, if, if the police arrest where you serve in your arrest an illegal that committed a felony, they will be deported. I mean, that’s just the nature of, they will, you know, you’re not talking, we’re not talking about felons necessarily, the majority of who was picked up on enough felons. They’re not criminal offenders. you know, traffic ticket. Everyone gets traffic. I got a traffic ticket once. I mean, I was going for the $3 Starbucks. I ended up getting a $100 a ticket. Five miles over the speed limit and it was shot down to 30, but whatever.

Keybo: [00:29:33] I always say Starbucks is expensive.

Rico: [00:29:37] That day it was very expensive. But, so, so that would be one of the things that you would, if you were elected sheriff, that would be one of the things you would remove.

Keybo: [00:29:46] I’ve always said that will be one of the first things that I would do is just, you know, take, the Sheriff’s department out of that particular agreement with ice.

Rico: [00:29:57] Okay. The, the, some of the other things that you talked about also is, and I, and I see there’s a problem with like, businesses hiring people. There’s ghost employees. There’s not enough people to work, restaurants and stuff happening all the time. How would you attract and retain qualified niches, qualified staff at their first staff that represents the community. How would you do that? Are they enough people to do that with?

Keybo: [00:30:20] Of course. And I may get in trouble for saying this, but I’m gonna go ahead and say it. You know, we talk about, you know, how low, the unemployment rate is today, okay? And they boast about the fact that you know that there’s jobs here, but you’ve got to ask yourself
what type of jobs are there? You know? And when you see people at a certain level that they’re working two jobs and they still can’t make ends meet, well, it’s good to sit in here and boast about the fact that I got jobs. But you know, they’re not making a decent livable wage on what they’re doing. That is Sheriff’s departments nowhere near. And that is, that’s been legendary ever since I’ve been in law enforcement starting in 1983. But you see, you know, one thing that they would come back and talk about, what we did a study and the study says that, you know, money is not the most important thing. You know, good work environment, good supervision, good, you know, and they would give you a laundry list of all of the goods. And somewhere down towards the middle of the bottom is salary. And benefits, which, you know, and I was like, you know, I said, no, you know, I’m a person out here. You know, when I started with the County police department, I was making less than $13,000 a year. So money and salary was important. You know, especially when I started having kids and I was like, no. So what I say on that is, is that, you know, when you look at, and right now use the city of Atlanta is, as a comparative agency. You know, the city of Atlanta right now have a waiting list of people trying to get into the city. And what happened was the mirror changed their, their benefit package there. So Atlanta is one of the highest paid agencies in this area. Gwinnett county’s at the bottom. As larger, you know, and as good as this County is, we’re at the bottom. If we got some of them on, it’s fine. As officers and deputies in the nation, these, these are, some of them was fine as individuals. You’ll ever see everyone across, you know. And I know that there is, bad things that happened from time to time, but for the most part, they deserve more. So in order to get them, the best. You got to give them the best. So we’re going to have to look at these benefit packages. I hear what we’re paying people.

Rico: [00:32:45] This is true. What I hear that when a police, for example, they train through the police Academy is employees or people. That would eventually be police officers. But then one Sunday, after a year or two, they leave and they, after they get some experience, they get the schooling. They leave and then go to other counties that have insurance. So we can’t retain them.

Keybo: [00:33:07] Our retention races, you know, when you talk about, you got over 150 vacancies.

Rico: [00:33:15] So you have the budgets. Supposedly there’s budget for it and they can’t fill the spot.

Keybo: [00:33:19] You can’t fill it.

Rico: [00:33:20] So you would think the money’s there, you can’t fill it. So maybe you should pay a little bit more, reduce the amount of they can see, and then you probably should be able to fill it.

Keybo: [00:33:29] We could, but I think it’s gonna take more than just a little bit. We’re going to have to seriously consider changing what we’re looking at as far as the benefit package.

Rico: [00:33:42] These are like to me, law forces at the same way. To me, print stories where people that are in. Well, the services, and they still might have to get food stamps. They may still have to do, other services from the federal government to help them meet and speak in homes with the sheriff police, fire. They’re all in harm’s way. I don’t understand why we can sit there and try to pay them less.

Keybo: [00:34:10] I think we as a society is looking at a lot of things socially wrong. We don’t take care of who and what we should be taking care of. There’s no reason why, you know, a veteran should have to worry about being homeless, you know, finding affordable housing or, finding good quality health care.

Rico: [00:34:38] It’s almost a joke. They know that it’s bad.

Keybo: [00:34:42] So when we sit down and what gets me is people, man, they want to put up this front showing how patriotic that they are. But yet, and still, you know, we got people out here and they want to, you know, Oh, it’s so sad that we have, you know, that some police officers out here committing suicide. Well, you know, what, what are we doing to change some of the things others in addition to the outside pressures that they have to deal with on a day to day basis. So you take a person and you put them in theater over there on ward, then he comes back, he’s got to worry about. You know, we’re spending, there’s no live. I mean, we, we fundamentally have this thing wrong. And you know, and when we look at. You know, even a healthcare situation, you know, and, even for Gwinnett County, and I know I’m gonna get in trouble for saying this, but I’m gonna go ahead and say it. You know, in other countries, they take care of the elderly, you know, they, they make sure that they’re taken care of. Here, it’s almost like they don’t want to, you know, once you retire, they don’t want to take care of you. So they make, you know, your health care so high, you know, and other things, you know, they’re specialists of it, you know, and it’s just like. I put my time in, I’ve, you know, have served this County or this country and here we are. Now, you know, that I need, and there is nobody there for you.

Rico: [00:36:06] So it’s amazing that we constantly do this, not only with our military, but with the police and fire and even teachers. I mean, these are people that protect us.

Keybo: [00:36:18] That’s correct.

Rico: [00:36:18] In the, spend more time with our children than we do the escort. And yet we don’t treat them willingly.

Keybo: [00:36:25] And we don’t.

Rico: [00:36:28] I’m sorry. We can see that. Sorry. It’s just like.

Keybo: [00:36:31] This all falls outside of the rails of the Sheriff’s department, but you know, but it’s still real, you know? And another thing too, you know, if I’m elected sheriff, I want to work with the board of commissioners. And you know, if you got people coming into Gwinnett County that wants to, you know, develop homes, okay, what’s wrong with a certain percentage of those homes being set aside for law enforcement at a reduced rate that we can afford?

Rico: [00:37:03] You know, that’s interesting cause I heard someone else talk about doing that with developers, having them, if they’re going to ask for rezoning, right? The high intensity that this should really, because everyone talks about affordable housing, but the real trick is how do you force that into the marketplace? Cause there are expensive places to look in. The property is going to be expensive unless you, unless government can do something about it and the worker that’s going to be working, the, your police force, you know, locality, like Bobcat can’t live in Bobcat. They might be coming from coming maybe with somewhere else. You know.

Keybo: [00:37:40] I know that they have somewhat of a pilot program like that that’s going on over in the city of Atlanta. But you know, what I’m talking about is, you know, being able to be, you know, more diverse than more than different communities. So, not just then. You know, an identified area, but anywhere that you know that you have a development that you know, we can look at, you know, getting officers there because you know, it’s safer. It’s a crime deterrent to have either a patrol car or a deputy’s car or, you know, just folks knowing that, Hey, there’s a, you know, law enforcement on the, in the community, you know, that’s, that’s worth the money of having security there.

Rico: [00:38:32] For sure. And most police drive their own cars home and stuff.

Keybo: [00:38:35] In Gwinnett County, the police officers doing most of the, not most of the deputies, but ones that are signed in certain areas drive their cars.

Rico: [00:38:44] I had last about six, eight months ago maybe. I had the, last year actually I was, I spoke to a couple of witness superior court judge candidates, and we talked about technology in the courtroom. That would really make things work faster, especially if you have, you, if you could do sort of a FaceTime type of deal where you don’t have to come down to the court. All we’re asking for is a disposition of moving things through a different date. There’s no reason to take up court time for that. Okay. How would technology the internet, the approach to law enforcement in the past decade. Do you think that the Sheriff’s department has gone far enough with the use of technology, or has it, or, or has it not? I mean, what would you do there with that?

Keybo: [00:39:31] One thing that I did have a discussion with, it was about the wait time that attorneys have the have or use, at certain times over the jail waiting to see clients. And part of that is because of the shortage of manpower at the jail or maybe other things. But they talk about a wait time. Some of them talked about it up to three hours. I haven’t had to wait before they can get in and get the interview of the client. One thing I would like to take a look at as far
as technology goes is, is that if there was a system, a secure system, but what we could put a client in front of a camera or whatever it would be, and remote, that car, you know, the interface with their attorney so that the attorney would have a set block of time, you know, at three o’clock on Friday. I know I got a time, you know, I have my candidate, you know, in the pot so that he can, you know, we can have, the secure conversation, secure conversation, and I could, you know, then this interview with my client, that’s a time saver.

Rico: [00:40:43] Now with that, obviously there’s some complications there for privacy and whether that recording is deleted later and stuff and not used for law enforcement than.

Keybo: [00:40:54] It wouldn’t be necessarily a recording. It’s not a recorded video conference.

Rico: [00:41:00] Do you see any other uses online uses or do you see more online crime that the Sheriff’s department may have to deal with?

Keybo: [00:41:08] I don’t know, as far as what the Sheriff’s department itself would be. I will like, you know, take a look and make sure that, you know, we have, you know, up to date technology as far as, inside of the jails, especially in the courthouse. You know, courthouses are becoming more of a target for, you know, certain, certain things. So, you know, you want to make sure that your technology is up to par there, technology around the courthouse, so that you can get, you know, more real time information in the event that you do have an incident either at or around the courthouse. Yeah, I do see a greater need for technology.

Rico: [00:41:54] Okay. It’s, it’s interesting in the city of Peachtree corners, for example, is putting in, license ID cameras and also facial recognition cameras. Just to be used to be retained. To possibly be used in case there was a felony act or something like that in the community. So it is getting more of a, of a cyber, you know, having cameras out there and, and, being able to track things. Fiscally responsible decision making, reducing costly lawsuit liability. That’s one of the things that you, you, you spoke about it. How would you speak to that then? As far as that?

Keybo: [00:42:37] A lot, I don’t know if you looked at the news, but back here a few days ago, Randy Travis was reporting on, on a case of a lawsuit where a deputy was just arrested by the FBI, and he’s being prosecuted federally, for force, excessive force on an inmate, a mentally disabled inmate inside of the jail. One thing that he talked about was, was that he had checked on the calls because there’s, there’s so many. I think right now we’re up to about 75 plaintiffs. That’s involved in a law, in lawsuits over there at the Sheriff’s department for either excessive use of force, wrongful death, and there are some other ones. I don’t know what the other titles are, but I do know right about now you’ve got about 75 plaintiffs that that’s a, that’s a tremendous number of people.

Rico: [00:43:31] And worse than has 250 odd people, right?

Keybo: [00:43:33] So, well, or no, no, I think, yeah, they got almost a thousand folks. Yeah. But see, here’s the deal. You know, when you look at not only the calls that, it’s costing the County attorney’s to defending his lawsuits. You also bring in outside attorneys, and Travis reported that he checked back in August and at the time, back in August, the amount that the County has spent on these lawsuits. Outside attorneys was over $500,000 so that’s what, six months ago, almost six months ago. So you know that, that tab is rolling. We spent millions of dollars out here defending these lawsuits, and then if we lose, then you’re paying out multiple million dollars to these plaintiffs. I hear, and it starts from the top, you know. When those lawsuits first started, he did nothing to change the practices of that rapid response team that was operating inside of that jail.

Rico: [00:44:45] So you’re saying possibly training?

Keybo: [00:44:48] Oh, well, first of all, it starts with your hiring. Who do you have? Who do you have in charge? As a sheriff, who do I bring in and who do I put in charge? And, what is the mindset and the philosophy that we’re going to go at and how do we deal with conflict and how do we deal with, you know, with people, man, that are, that are you know, combative or mentally challenged in there. You know, when you look at it, probably 85 to 90% of the people, that is incarcerated, you know, they have some sort of mental disability. You know, you think about who goes into a jail and start fighting. So, you know, we’ve got to have a better screening process of folks that are going in, you know, if there are services that we need to provide to people, you know, as far as putting them in special areas, you know, we’ve got to train our deputies better with, you know, more a CIT training and crisis individual type training.

Rico: [00:45:45] Then that doesn’t this also come back to paying more money to paying the right salary base to attract the right candidates?

Keybo: [00:45:52] It does, but you know, even to get those salaries up to par and to get the right people in, you know, you’re talking about, you know, three to four years. So it may take a whole term to get that, but what I’m saying is we have to change the culture of that place immediately. They want, I’ve got to have a plan going in there to how we’re going to reduce and how we’re going to deal with conflict resolution inside that jail. How do we deal with a physical force? How do we report physical force? When do we use physical force? And how do we evaluate fairly if we’re using proper force. So I can’t, you know, some people will sit there and say, well, you know, you got, you know, it’s going to take you time. Well, yeah, you’re right. It is going to take time, but I don’t have time to sit back and wait until some of these things take care of themselves. We’ve got to have a plan from day one going in the door. What are we going to do?

Rico: [00:46:50] How long is the Sheriff’s term?

Keybo: [00:46:52] Four years.

Rico: [00:46:53] Sounds like a long time, but.

Keybo: [00:46:55] It’s in the blink of an eye. Yes. Would be like, especially when you get our age, man, four years go by real quick.

Rico: [00:47:02] Especially when you’re on a mission and you want to change things. Four years may not be enough time to do it.

Keybo: [00:47:07] Well, I plan hopefully, you know, my plan is, is to bring the right people in, from the start and, you know, people that I’ve got the confidence that it’s going to hit the ground on it.

Rico: [00:47:20] We’ve been with Keybo Taylor talking about his run for sheriff, his background, where he’s grown up, who he is and his faith. And I’m glad to have you on here. I appreciate you coming out. So why don’t you, I normally do this on candidate interviews give, give us a two minute, two minute thing, a two minute elevator speech to go ask for that vote. Tell us why we need to vote.

Keybo: [00:47:47] For sure.

Rico: [00:47:49] And tell us when the election is, all that.

Keybo: [00:47:52] You know. One more time, man. My name is Keybo Taylor and I’m running for sheriff of Gwinnett County, the election I have a primary okay. The primary is in May, May the 19th, 2020 this year. I’m asking for, I need your support. I need for people that if you believe in what we’re talking about, and if you want to get behind my campaign, go onto my website, go to my social media pages. If you like it, please repost it. Spread the word out as best as you can. What I tell people is, is that, you know, if you support me, find me 10 more people. And then ask those ten people to find me ten more people, you know, you know, it’s kinda like the old chain letters, man. We just gonna keep it going. But you can find my information at Keybo For Sheriff and you spell out for sheriff.com. KeyboForSheriff.com. Then, I’m also on social media. I’m on Facebook, I’m on Instagram, and, I believe you might even be able to find me on Twitter. I’m not really sure about the Twitter.

Rico: [00:49:14] I know Facebook and Instagram for sure. I’ll tag you on that one, great. We’ve been with Keybo Taylor, I appreciate you coming out. Keybo thank you, and good luck with getting the word out and telling your story.

Keybo: [00:49:27] Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Rico: [00:49:29] Thank you.

Continue Reading

City Government

7 Things You Should Know that’s Going on In Peachtree Corners [Podcast]



Prime Lunchtime with City Manager Brian Johnson

Prime Lunchtime with City Manager Brian Johnson

As always, every month we talk with Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian Johnson to discuss current topics and the future plans for the city. This episode includes more discussion on the East Jones Bridge project, the Governors Lake Multi-Use rezoning application, the refunding revenue bond, the pedestrian bridge, events on the Town Green, rezonings and Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners.

“We are in a position to save some money and do it without really doing anything other than
using mechanisms that we have at our disposal and the current economic conditions and
interest rates as they are. And so that’s real savings that we can turn around and invest back in the community.”

Brian johnson

Timestamp, where to find it in the podcast:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:58] – Fiserv Property and 55+ Community
[00:10:34] – Townhouses at Town Center
[00:13:49] – Rezoning
[00:22:38] – Refunding Revenue Bond
[00:28:34] – Curiosity Labs
[00:39:10] – Events at Town Center
[00:42:39] – Pedestrian Bridge
[00:45:26] – Closing

Podcast Transcript:

Rico: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini host of Prime Lunchtime with the city

manager, Brian Johnson. Let’s bring Brian on with me and, Hey Brian, how are you?

Brian: [00:00:41] Rico, good. Nice to be here.

Rico: [00:00:43] Great. Always good to have you on. So this segment, we’re going to be

discussing a bit about the bond resolution that was discussed. And I believe passed as the

public facilities authority. We’re going to be discussing the Governor’s Lake master plan,

Medlock bridge, the rezoning that’s going on there along with Curiosity Lab celebrates its first

anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. And so we’re going to be talking about all that.

But before we get into that, I just want to thank our lead sponsor and a great sponsor, they are

Hargray Fiber. They’re a local southeast company that provides internet service and solutions

for our, for companies, small and large enterprise companies as well out there that are looking

to create a place for their employees to be able to continue to work off site as well as to be able

to now come back to work possibly in some places. So they’re not the cable guy, they’re a

company that really is involved in local community. And we actually will have an article about

them in the next issue and you can see what they’re doing here in Peachtree Corners. So check

them out at HargrayFiber.com or Hargray.com/business. I believe they have a promotion going

on, a thousand dollars visa gift card you can have, if you meet certain criteria to become a client

of theirs. So thank you Hargray Fiber. I appreciate you being our lead sponsor to these

podcasts. So let’s continue on with the city manager, Brian Johnson. So we could probably keep

talking about all sorts of issues, but the hot and moving thing right now we’re going to get onto is

what I’ve seen comments on, on the Next Door app. Of course, we’ve cleared up some of the

facts and some of the things going on in the last podcast. But let’s get back to it again for a little

bit. The East Jones bridge project which is also known as, the property is also known as the old

Fiserv property. 55 and older, 55 plus senior community center that’s been adjusted. I don’t

know if we need to go through all those details, but we certainly want to talk a bit about what’s

going on with the clearing that’s going on right now and stuff. So can you give us a little bit

more, Brian, about progress over the last few weeks on that piece?

Brian: [00:02:58] So, you know, since we last talked, you know, council did have a change of

conditions request by the developers to allow for the institutional use, the memory care and

assisted living, to allow the developers to build it at the end of the project, instead of at the

middle. And also to allow for the age restriction of 55 and older to be removed from some of the

product types. So at the end of the day, what you’ve got is you have, I think it’s probably fair to

say an age targeted community. It still has to be targeted to active adults. It still has to have the

institutional use. It still has a bunch of restrictions against, you know, constructing things that

would be considered family-friendly, young family friendly that is. But about a third of the units

could be inhabited by somebody who is not 55 or older. But two thirds of the units will ultimately

still have that, but that request was approved. And so the developer was able to maintain their

financing. So they started on that project. And of course, as is the case with any project that is

both as large as this one is, is on a piece of property that has been vacant for as long as this

has been and is of course developing in a more dense way, at least from a, you know, at grade

perspective. Meaning how many square feet within the parcel is going to have an improvement.

When you factor all those things in there, there’s been some, you know, significant change to

the property. You know, in that, you know, there has been a lot of the initial tree removal

necessary to construct, you know, new buildings and it’s, you know, it’s been eye catching

because we’re all used to looking in there and seeing just no activity and all these trees and

that’s it. But yes, so that has been significant, you know, there’s more, you know, construction

traffic there. Of course, part of the construction traffic actually, as it stands right now is also due

to Gwinnett County department of water resources. They are doing a large sewer main upgrade

project. And they are upgrading the sewer line from essentially the Forum, headed West

through Amber field subdivision and a number of the other subdivisions and basically crossing

underneath East Jones bridge right there, where the old Fiserv property interest is. And then

they’re running it down to the transfer station they have, which is basically at the back of

Simpsonwood. Where Simpsonwood, you know, meets the Chatahoochee but anyway, so

there’s a big utility project there also, but there’s a bunch of construction activity there. And, you

know, it’s again, optically it’s a big change.

Rico: [00:06:16] Yeah. Well it’s the same change though. That would have happened regardless

of the change of removing the 55 on those properties. It would have been because it’s the same

amount of units nothing’s changed with that. Even the site plan hasn’t changed, correct? It’s the

same site plan set up.

Brian: [00:06:32] That is a great point, Rico. This exact activity you would have seen regardless

of changing conditions. Now, you know, some people were not aware that this project had even

been approved two and a half years ago. So to some people they weren’t even aware a project

was coming. So I get that. And again, even from somebody who, you know, sees it every day,

when your eye is used to seeing, you know, this large area where there’s a bunch of trees and

no activity, it’s eye catching. But it is important to note though that, you know, the entire property

is within the river corridor. So all of the tree removal is keeping with the metropolitan river

protection act, the tree removal and, you know, replanting plan. For the development was

approved by AARC and as a part of the project. And so as with all projects like this, you often

see a period of time where, where the trees have been removed, but the replanted trees haven’t

been replanted yet and the buildings haven’t been there. So, you know, we are in that period

where there’s the least amount of vegetation on the parcel, but it’ll get better.

Rico: [00:07:50] They’re going to replant. I mean, granted, they’re not going to replant 50 year

old trees.

Brian: [00:07:54] It’s different.

Rico: [00:07:55] Forty foot trees. They’re going to be like 10, 12 foot trees, maybe. It’s going to

take some time for them to grow in. But you know, no different than quite frankly when I moved

here in ’95, no different than the Forum being built, then the town center, you know, years later.

Or even the people that lived here before Amberfield was actually built and all that had to be

removed. You know, the fact that the city bought Simpsonwood And they actually, Gwinnett

County with city help with a million dollars in there, to be able to save that 300, almost 300 acres

of land and keep it forest and smack in the middle of Peachtree Corners. You know, could we

have bought the Fiserv property? Would the citizens have had enough, sort of enough, courage

or belly to be able to take that and invest whatever that would have taken. Millions of dollars

probably that and preserve it? Doubtful. People have been complaining about that also. And like

you said, I mean, you know, that was forested typical of high technology companies. Siemens

was there. You have a beautiful campus, you have a great place for your employees to work.

Now it’s shifted from that to residential. You’re going to have clear cutting to a degree. And

obviously there’s a lot of land that’s back there. That’s not going to be clear cut.

Brian: [00:09:14] And that’s another good point too, is when you see from East Jones bridge, is

this alley. This narrow corridor, and you can kind of see around the corner, but what you can’t

really see unless you’ve got on the property, is there are a number of tree save areas that are

still in there. You know, there are some specimen trees that were saved. And so it wasn’t

completely clear cut. But too optically it kind of looks that way just because you were used to

just seeing it. So anyway, you know, but that’s proceeding. I guess the good news here is we

are getting that phase one. I mean they’re moving forward as fast as they can. And it’s always

good to see that, you know, the financing was in place for them to get this going. And so it’s not

going to live vacant you know, for a long period of time. Or again, for it to revert back to use by

right stuff that we don’t like. So, you know.

Rico: [00:10:09] And the fact that they clear cut it, you’d hope that they, you know, the

development will move fast. I mean, the worst thing to have is clear cut land that just sits there.

Brian: [00:10:17] No, they are wanting to, they’re wanting to get as much of the site work as they

can before the weather turns against us. And it either gets, you know, rainy or cold or both. So,

you know, they’re blowing and going. And you know, again, when that happens fast, it’s

oftentimes like, woah, that’s a change, but yeah.

Rico: [00:10:34] So let’s move along a little bit. Also the Town Center, those townhouses are

coming up. I’ve been noticing that. I think, I don’t know if half of them are up now or, but quite a

few of them are up. Is that going well, do you know anything about that development at this


Brian: [00:10:50] Much like townhomes though, especially at that price point, they typically go in

phases, meaning they will do a percentage of them and then sell them. And the proceeds of the

sale of that, you know, phase then are used to go into the next one. They are proceeding. I

mean, there has, they have not hit any kind of a wall where they’re saying, Oh, we, you know,

we’re not able to fill units. So we have every indication that it is proceeding exactly how Lanar

had planned it to proceed. So, yes, that’s good. Rooftops at Town Center slash Forum, you

know, Rooftops at what has become art downtown are important because those are walk up

customers to the businesses that are there that help keep these businesses in business.

Rico: [00:11:45] Are you hearing anything more about, I know we asked about, I asked about

this a month ago, but you know, things change, about the apartments project? Slash Indigo on

Town Center? Anything more about that?

Brian: [00:11:59] No. I mean, you know, again, other than having been notified that, you know,

hotel construction is probably not in the cards for that site within the time period we gave the

owner of the site to construct it. Because he was given, I believe it was four years to start

construction to actually, you know, have an approved site plan and move forward with it. And

he’s now within two years left. And so yes, there will not be not because our site is not, but there

is nobody building new hotels right now.

Rico: [00:12:39] Is Hilton hotel closed? That’s what I heard. The Hilton is closed and the Marriott

hotel might only be about a 20% occupancy rate. I could be off, but I understand the Hilton hotel

is actually closed at this point.

Brian: [00:12:54] I don’t know the answer to that. I have not heard that. I do know that as Hilton’s

go in Metro Atlanta, that is one of the better performing ones. According to, you know, Gwinnett

County and the tourism, you know, who has a real good. But, you know, these, there are

transitions. I also do know that that property had some upgrades that have been kind of in the,

on deck circle for them. They may have taken this as an opportunity to do those while the

occupancy is down. And, you know, and I know that the Marriott, all hotels, occupancy is way

down. I don’t know what percentage, but we do, I see Marriott’s parking lot because I drive past

it more than the Hilton. And there are significant enough cars in the parking lot for me to know

that it’s not just staff. So with…

Rico: [00:13:49] You know sure. And the Hilton I’m thinking is temporarily closed to what I

understand from a couple of restauranteurs that I’ve spoken to. Other developments going on

the Governor’s Lake across the Peachtree industrial Boulevard, depending where you come

from. 75 acres, they’re looking to rezone that to multi-use development. How’s that going? I

understand there’s a first read that happened this past Tuesday. How does that look to you?

Brian: [00:14:17] Well, so to go back about three to four months. Those who you know are

involved in the city may remember there was an application, a rezoning application by the owner

of the undeveloped property in this area to rezone a portion of the property he owns. He owns

about 87 total acres over there. And he was wanting to have about a third of it rezoned for

townhomes. And they were basically on both sides of Jones Mill Road in that area. And his

application was significant to the city because to rezone it in the direction he wanted away from

industrial and towards residential or mixed use, was significant because he was asking the city

to change our future land use map and our comp plan. Because, you know, the rezoning would

have been contrary to how the future land use map looks for that area. And so it’s kind of a

significant move in the city’s eight and a half years. We have never had a rezoning that required

us to change our future land use map. And as you know, as a former planning commissioner,

you know, that that map is pretty, it’s kind of sacrosanct because it’s, that’s kind of the get guide

you use. If people want to rezone and you’re all like, okay, they want to resume, well, what do,

what is our future land use map hold for that property to ultimately become in our mind. And if

it’s not headed that direction, it causes you to pause.

Rico: [00:15:55] Also, you’re planning things out. The County and the state, they’re planning

roads, water, traffic. I mean, it’s not just, we rezone it it’s because there’s plans being developed

because of that plan.

Brian: [00:16:06] Right. And so it’s kind of a big step. And so there was some concern by council

expressed to the applicant that, you know, Hey, all right, this is a big step. Well, what about the

other two thirds of the property that you own that’s undeveloped? Because when you consider

the whole thing, it’s basically the last large remaining undeveloped track we have in the city. And

so there was some discussion about what that would be. And so then the applicant or the owner

withdrew the application. And has gone back and has had some discussions and done some

things, you know, planning wise and has resubmitted a rezoning application that includes the

entire remaining undeveloped acreage. So that’s what the app, that’s the application that’s going

back through council instead of just wanting to rezone a portion. It’s to rezone the whole thing.

And so that discussion, which will, you know, when it ensues will be about all of it.

Rico: [00:17:08] Does it, does it pretty much include the townhouses where he had specked

them out? I guess he must have submitted a site plan, I guess.

Brian: [00:17:15] So, originally there was two, it was really two separate rezonings for each side

of Jones Mill Road. There was about, I want to say it’s about 12 acres on what would be, I

guess the South side of Jones mill road, the farther away from the Governor’s Lake property

that had already been approved by council. That company building those homes, McKinley

homes had been interested in taking and doing their product on the other side of the road. That

had been part of the application. When the owner withdrew the application, he did decide and

McKinley homes are still moving forward with the original, like 12ish acres townhomes. That

development is still happening. But the part that was in the 80 acres, has been withdrawn. And

now it’s just waiting on the entire rezoning to work its way through the system.

Rico: [00:18:15] See my fear would be that he just came back three months later and decide,

let’s do this. And then still build what he wants and then still, maybe not do the rest of it. So, you

know, multiuse development means a lot. It means different things to different people, right? It

could be… I mean, that area is perfect for mid-rise, let’s say with office retail, and creating really

nice look to it, or it could be someone that says, well, we’re going to have townhouses in this

portion. We’re gonna have offices here and we’re going to have retail separate. You know, I

mean, hopefully there’s, like you said, it’s the last 75. It’s the last largest parcel. And, then

where it’s located could stand to have a better their development. And something forward

thinking first is the run of the mill, same stuff that they’re always is. They break up the parcels.

So we’re going to do residential here. We’ll do some office here. We’ll do some retail here and it

becomes a strip thing and stuff versus something a little bit more thought out.

Brian: [00:19:23] We agree. Remember that was by design included in the area that the

redevelopment authority will be looking at. Council recognize the importance of it, which is why

it kind of wanted to have a discussion about all of the parcels so that we make sure that it’s

done in a, you know, kind of cohesive well-thought-out manner. We definitely do not want to

necessarily have it just cut up and have conventional use there. I think it’s an opportunity. So

what we’re trying to do, we’ve kind of taken the property and help the applicant. You know,

guide them a little bit, say, look, break the parcel up into kind of pods, or we call it a bubble plan

where you kind of break the large thing up into areas of the site that may have, that may be

better served for certain types of uses. You know, like maybe closer to PIB might be a better

place to have businesses that need high visibility. You know, maybe closer to some of the lakes

back there might be a good place to have some, you know, multifamily, you know, I mean,

maybe there’s some mix. I mean, so we’re trying to, you know, get the applicant to come give

the applicant flexibility, but ensure that the ingredients are there for the applicant to maybe

come up with a product that we all are like, wow, that’s really cool.

Rico: [00:20:52] So there’s a second read that’s going to happen in October’s city council


Brian: [00:20:57] November city council meeting.

Rico: [00:20:59] November. Okay. November. And then it’s going to be voted on after.

Brian: [00:21:04] It’ll be voted on at the same meeting.

Rico: [00:21:08] Okay. All right. So if anyone cares about that and they should, that’s the

meeting to be at, right? You know, like you said, the weren’t a lot of people maybe that

remembered or were around two and a half years ago about the East Jones bridge project. That

also went through public notice that also went through public meetings. It was not a surprise to

anyone. There was 900 plus acres. What was surprising to me back then was that no one that I

knew really cared about the density there. They will all for it, regardless of 55 and older, it’s like,

it doesn’t matter. It’s still 900 units, but you know, everyone was, I didn’t hear a peep and they

might’ve been some people maybe, but obviously it wasn’t enough. I don’t remember city

council, and I went to that city council meeting. So I can’t help but tell people, if you are

concerned about certain things, you really need to show up to the city council meetings, right?

Even in COVID, I mean, you could do that safely there, I think. So there’s that. The, one of the

biggest things also that just happened in this last city council meeting is the public facilities

authority that was established. A refunding revenue bond that was voted on and approved to be

put together. And so tell us about that. That’s to pay back some of the purchase money I think

for city hall, we said, and for the Chili property, that’s next to the Town Center property that was

purchased. So give us a…

Brian: [00:22:38] So a number of years ago, we created the public facilities authority. The

purpose at the time was for the city to have a mechanism to enter into long term leases. And the

reason we were doing it is because we had just entered the final year of the lease at the original

building that was city hall. And so when you enter the last year, you start to talk about, alright

what do we want to do? Do we want to stay here? Do we want to find another location? Do we

want at lease? Do we want to buy? But the one thing that, this was shortly after I got to the city,

the one thing that I knew would be a constraint would be if the city itself was entering into a

lease. Cities cannot enter into long term leases because councils cannot commit future councils

of obligations. So the city can have like, can enter into a contract that has five, one year

automatic renewals. Technically speaking at the end of every year, the city has to have the

ability to say we’re out without any repercussions. So it’s really one year leases. But you can

imagine that if the city is negotiating with the property owner for a lease, if I wanted to lease

something from you, and I said, I can only do, guarantee you one year at a time. Even though I

want to do it for five years, but each year I can just leave. You wouldn’t give me the same terms

with that much flexibility on my part versus if I came to you and I said, yes, I’m prepared to

execute a five year lease. And if I leave before the five years, you get to keep, you know, down

payment or there could be other, you know, penalties. So the public facilities authority was

created so that if the city was going to lease city hall, the public facilities authority could be the

one who negotiates and enters into the lease because it can enter into long term leases.

Rico: [00:24:45] Right. It can also do what they’re doing now.

Brian: [00:24:50] That’s correct. So we didn’t use it. Because as you know, most people know

we found a deal that we could buy a building, renovate it, lease the upstairs. And at the end of

the day after what do we have? Like seven years left, we will own a 60,000 square foot building.

Versus, for only about $400 a month more than we were paying to lease 12,500 square foot. So

really great deal. We bought the building, but recently the city’s finance director is, you know,

and I have some good staff members, was kind of kicking over stones to see where maybe we

can, you know, look for savings and this and that. And did a little bit of consulting with some,

you know, consultants of ours and realized that with the current economic conditions as they

are, using the public facilities authority the city could take the two debt notes that we currently

have. One on the city hall building and one on the property, the remaining undeveloped property

out at the Town Center. That’s along, you know, the town green there. And put them together

and have the public facilities authority do a float of public bond and refinance it. And so we’re

going to use the public facilities authority to combine those two notes and put it out on the

municipal bond market. And the current terms as we will get them look like we will be saving

about $1.2 million over the course of the note. Or about a little over a hundred thousand dollars

a year for 10 years.

Rico: [00:26:42] Wow, that that is very smart. Who is your finance person?

Brian: [00:26:48] Cory Salley is the name of our finance director. And so yes, that is why I

recruited him. And he has been my finance director in other municipalities and he has done it

there too. And so yes, that is why you surround yourself with people who are smarter than you

and I have done that in, in all of my you know, department level positions that work directly for

me. So, yeah, it has been, you know, that’s just an example where we, you know, we are in a

position to save some money and do it without really doing anything other than using

mechanisms that we have at our disposal and the current economic conditions and interest

rates as they are. And so that’s real savings that we can turn around and invest back in the


Rico: [00:27:33] So that money that’s being raised is that raising just the amount? I think that

was about 5.1 million or so. Is that just raising that or is the bonds are the bonds going to raise

more money?

Brian: [00:27:46] No, no, no. You know, the 1.2 million over the course of the 10 years is just in

the savings that we’ll realize yearly. But we’re not pushing the, we’re not amortizing it over any

longer period of time. And it’s just that the interest rates are better when we do it on the public,

you know, the municipal bond public market, then the privately placed bonds that we did initially.

And the PFA has some aspects to it that makes, you know, bond investors, you know, feel

better. So when you just combine all those ingredients in the economic conditions, this is just

savings realized by merely having the bond redone.

Rico: [00:28:29] Sure, okay. So it’s the same money, it’s just done in a different way.

Brian: [00:28:32] That’s exactly right.

Rico: [00:28:34] Alright. We want to also, I want to recognize the fact that city, the smart city

we’ve been involved in. I mean, you’ve been speaking at a lot of places that deal with smart city

technology. A lot of conferences, there was a big smart city expo here in Atlanta a year ago.

Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners celebrates its first anniversary this past week or so, a couple

of weeks ago. So it’s been a year. A year of development work, a year of having companies

come in. Companies come in, companies leaving. I think we had the Olie at one point. It’s not

there now, but we have E-Scooters. But there are certainly more companies like Bosch

technologies I believe is there. There’s a bunch of companies coming in. So where are we with

you know, Curiosity Lab, as a magnet for bringing into a living lab, different technologies? It’s

not just autonomous vehicles. People may just think it’s that, but it’s a lot more than that, right?

It’s everything that involves 5G technology, smart city, everything from lamp posts to traffic, to

buildings, even. I mean we have ASHRAE building a building. Renovating a whole building with

new HVAC that’s supposed to be smart technology and cutting edge, right? So tell us a little bit

about what’s going on now a year later with Curiosity Lab.

Brian: [00:29:49] Alright so, you know, as a reminder, when we decided to build, you know, a

living lab, you know, Curiosity Lab, the purpose then and now is for economic development. And

so this was our way of looking at economic development. And in addition to doing your

conventional stuff, we thought we were in a unique position to leverage something that the city

already is uniquely qualified to leverage. And that is take public infrastructure we own and make

it available to private companies to use for the purposes of testing or demonstration. And by

doing that, by offering something that private companies can’t do on their own, we get activity

and that’s where we’ve benefited. So again, the thought here was if you were a company that

wanted to come out and use Curiosity Lab just for one day. Wanted to come out here and run a

vehicle up. If you wanted to put a device out there and track some things, whatever you did, but

even just one day. Generally speaking, you’re going to still be hungry at lunch and that means

you’re going to probably eat in our restaurants. That’s activity. If you’re here a couple of days,

cause you’ve got a team and you’re going to test, you’re going to probably stay in our hotels.

And there’s the activity that we, by creating this magnet get. Now we were at the time that we

did this, our wildest dreams were that we have what’s called permanent economic development

activity is the recruitment of companies to do things in the city permanently that weren’t there

doing there before that action. And we have had that happen even in the first year. Because of

Curiosity Lab, we had two buildings that are on the track itself. One was the former Honeywell

Aerospace building and one was former recall building. That had been vacant for a number of

years and the fact that in Honeywell building’s case longer than the city had been a city. And

because of Curiosity Lab, two companies decided to relocate their global headquarters here.

And the final reason that they chose it was this location over others that they were looking at

was because of Curiosity Lab and the synergy they wanted to be a part of with the companies

that were here doing testing. And these are companies that are not even direct users of the lab,

but they wanted to be close to companies that were using it because they were like, we may

end up having synergies together. I mean, you mentioned Bosch. We have Cisco that has

become a partner. In addition to it we’ve got Georgia power and, you know, T-Mobile, which

used to be Sprint. And you know, Georgia tech and Kennesaw state university. And these are

companies that are doing real things out here, bringing people out here to test, to demonstrate,

to collaborate. It wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for us, these companies want to be here. And

so within the first year, we’ve already filled over a hundred thousand square feet of vacant office

building and had over 500 jobs move here that wouldn’t have had if it hadn’t been for Curiosity

Lab. And those are people who ultimately are going to want to live close to where they work.

They’re going to shop in our stores. They’re going to eat in our restaurant. Primarily they may be

renting or buying houses here. And so that’s real activity. And that’s why we did this and it is

paying in spades. We’re excited about the possibilities moving forward, but, you know, we just

have activity that we would’ve never had if it hadn’t been for COVID the hotels were that are

especially the four that are on the track. And even a couple that are just, you know, like just a

couple of hundred yards off track, were already showing increased numbers. Of you know, of

people staying in the hotel that could say, yeah, we’re here because of something at Curiosity

Lab. And so that’s why we did it. That’s why it has been working. That’s why it continues to

work. And, you know, we’re working hard to, you know, continue those efforts. So when this

COVID, you know, fog is lifted, we’ll hit the ground running again. And like you said, we’re

talking at a lot of conferences, you know. Of course it’s, you know, virtual conferences right now,

but the word gets out. And people are, you know, lots of companies are here kicking the tires

saying, Hey, you know, we want to do something. One interesting note is, you know, so

Curiosity Lab has a vehicle that is available to companies to put technology on, to test, you

know, in the advanced vehicle arena. And with COVID, we’ve had to get creative in how we do

things. We have an Israeli company that is in the LIDAR you know, arena. And they have a new

LIDAR that they want to test on a vehicle for use in autonomous vehicles, you know, later on.

And, but because of COVID, they can’t fly over here and do it. So what they’re doing is they are

shipping the technology, the components to the States. They’re shipping it to an office they have

in New York city and then that individual is assembling it. And then is shipping it from New York

down here. And they are virtually going to talk us through some technicians we have on how to

install it on the vehicle and start testing it. And then without actually having people having to fly,

you know, given that they can’t do it right now. So we’re, we’re thinking outside the box. But you

know, those kinds of things will help again, get some people and some activity out here, so

exciting stuff. But again, it’s hard to gauge in some cases how much more activity has happened

before because of Curiosity Lab. But in year one, we at least have two buildings and two

companies and over 500 jobs that we can put our finger on and say, thanks to Curiosity Lab.

Rico: [00:36:21] For sure. And there are definitely other companies still coming to Peachtree

Corners like CarMax with their consumer, I think their call center. They’ve added, I don’t know,

three, four, 500 jobs or something.

Brian: [00:36:32] Yeah. CarMax’s experience center has expanded beyond 500 jobs even in the

COVID environment because we worked hard when they initially located here. It’s about

relationships. And if you work hard to develop, you know, to cultivate a relationship when that

corporate office, it was time for them to look at the areas of the US where there were already

experienced centers and they wanted to expand because they’re doing well. They could have

gone to any of them, but they decided to expand here because our economic development

department and my individuals that are in that are, you know, work really hard to have that

cultivate those relationships and they pay off.

Rico: [00:37:15] You know, we were discussing before we started the podcast that, the

economy, has really taken a hit. But that, you know, there’ll be, there may yet be several more

businesses, closing restaurants and stuff like that unfortunately. But that, you know, there’s

going to be such a celebration I think after, you know, hopefully within, by maybe second or third

quarter, we were talking 2021. Where, you know, the vaccine has been spread out to people.

Herd immunity might take hold if there is such a thing with this. And businesses will slowly be

coming back as they are now. But I think people will be more confident later and you know, no

doubt there’ll be an explosion of activity. We’ll probably see an economic expansion at that

point. Because I even see it now, there are businesses opening now that are taking advantage

of different things. You know, tutoring companies, new franchises opening because of the

distance learning and things going on with that. People taking advantage of opening up new

restaurants, especially in Atlanta. When you’re seeing restaurants closing, but there are

restaurants opening because they’re able to get better rates. They’re able to find equipment that

was someone else’s equipment. So they’re smaller investments in some of these restaurants

opening up. And of course people, maybe because of the you know, out of work and stuff,

they’ve decided to open up their own business. They’re finding places to do that and maybe

businesses to be in. So there’s a little bit give and take in this environment it seems. You know, I

know the city has been very helpful to business community, especially holding off, you know, at

the beginning, holding off business license payments and stuff like that. I know that sign

ordinances have been, you know, adjusted to allow business, to be able to put up.

Brian: [00:39:08] Outdoor seating…

Rico: [00:39:10] Yeah. And even the events that are going up, so the city’s still putting on

concerts. The last one even, you know, I mean Town center can hold 5,000 people, I guess. But

maybe there were about five or 600 people there, but that was the max, right? You guys sold

out that within 24 to 48 hours I think. Sold out, you know, and…

Brian: [00:39:32] Well, you know, speaking of that real quick. It’s interesting, you know, we do

feel strongly about if we can do it, continue to do it responsibly and safely to have events out

there because A, it helps the businesses at the town center. Because oftentimes those people

spend money before or after. And too just, you know, it’s a quality of life thing. Our residents

want to have something to go do and just, you know, get out of the house or whatever. But we,

you know, we can only it’s just around 600, maybe just under max where we had 6,000 at that

second concert last year out there. And so, yeah, it’s a stark difference, but you know, there’s a

lot of demands. So when we, so you got to reserve the circles, you know, that have put it out

there. We sold out in nine minutes. For drive in, this Saturday night, nine minutes.

Rico: [00:40:34] Wow.

Brian: [00:40:35] So, you know, people want to. Now, unfortunately we’re struggling a little bit

with, it’s really we’re, because it’s limited. We want it to be for Peachtree Corners residents.

Rico: [00:40:48] Yes.

Brian: [00:40:49] And there might be some indications of some gaming of the system by people

who don’t live in Peachtree Corners. So unfortunately there might be some, you know, residents

that we would have liked to have participated in this, and they can’t because others, you know,

moved in. But we’re working on trying to, you know, we’re not trying to have everybody show us

their ID, but it is, you know, it is unfortunate when, you know, we’re trying to make it for our local

community and others not so local jump in and get it. But anyway, yes, those are the little things

that we’re trying to do to try to, you know, local economy as much as we can.

Rico: [00:41:28] Yeah. I never thought about that, but I guess there would be people coming in

from outside that would want to see the concert. It’s tough. You know, and there’s probably

some somewhat easy ways to do it, but intrusive ways to do it, right? Because you’d have to

know where people are living, geolocate them. Maybe they purchase it through an app and or

maybe they registered their home somehow as part of that purchase and stuff. But, oh well

things happen. But the city’s moving along. Great, great stuff is happening. I’m really proud of

the way the city has been moving along. Sure there’s things that I, you know, that I hate too.

The clear cutting and things, but those are part of development, would have been on the East

Jones bridge road would have been the same thing as we see now, regardless of anything

happening. But you know, we are an expanding city, and it’s going to be that way. Nothing

shrinks. Unless you’re a small town out in some place and you’re losing businesses and then do

you want to be that town? You know, so I don’t think so. I think we want to be able to.

Brian: [00:42:39] We would agree. I mean, again, growth, you know, and change can

sometimes be uncomfortable and, but it’s better than the alternative because there is no pause

button. You’re basically either growing or you’re not. And we’d much rather be the growing than

the not. One other thing, when it comes to that though that may be of interest is, you know,

pedestrian bridge. So we’ve got, we are just a couple weeks away from finishing the bridge.

We’ve got the elevators, you know, got to go through final inspections and all that kind of stuff.

On the road you probably have seen the lanterns as we call it, which are the caps on the towers

that will have interior lighting. So those are what are being assembled on the side of the road.

And then a crane will lift them up to the top and those will be installed. And we’ve got the stairs

going down from the bridge into the Forum side are getting ready to be constructed. And then

the last is the panels. If you look at the bridge, you’ll notice that it looks like about four panels on

each side. There’s gaps for four panels to come in. Those panels should be getting here shortly

and assembled. Those are the remaining panels that had to be precision cut based on how the

arch came down through the panels. And, you know, there’s a lot of very precise cutting of those

panels to get them in. And so, you know, lead times, you know, companies are just not

operating as efficiently. The company that cuts the panels had, is a smaller precision metal

company that had a big COVID outbreak. So it kind of shut them down for a period of time. And

so anyway, just wanted to let everybody know that, you know, the bridge is not but a number of

weeks away from it being done. And then, you know, when it’s open, you’ll be able to walk from

one to the other and then we’ll be able to remove at great crossing opportunities down below it

at town center. And so that means that there won’t be the ability for a pedestrian to force the

traffic to wait at that intersection longer because they actuated the pedestrian crossing, that’ll be

removed. So it should help traffic at least get through that section quicker because there will

never be that time when you’re sitting there with no, you know, waiting on it to be changed but

aunt Mabel, is still. So anyway, that’s where that is.

Rico: [00:45:26] Okay. It’ll be the normal traffic of cars moving around other than, someone

pressing that pedestrian button. Yeah. Well, great. We’ve spent a good 45 minutes talking about

things that affect the city, the residents of this city. And it’s always good to be able to get the

facts, to be able to discuss things that are going on, things that are upcoming. It’s always a

pleasure, Brian, to be able to do this with you.

Brian: [00:45:52] Hey, thanks for having me. Thanks for providing this, you know, vehicle to get

information out for, you know, our residents. People get it different ways and your podcast is

certainly one that I hear people getting it from. So I appreciate the opportunity.

Rico: [00:46:05] Love doing it. Thank you, Brian.

Brian: [00:46:07] All right, take care.

Rico: [00:46:09] Bye.

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Vineyard Johns Creek, Assisted Living & Memory Care Community, Announce Information Center Opening and Recent Hires



Annette Fields- Executive Director at Vineyard Johns Creek.

Vineyard Johns Creek, an assisted living and memory care community, announced September 23 the opening of their information center for COVID-safe visits. In addition, the community has announced the hiring of two new members to their executive leadership team. The information center is located at 10475 Medlock Bridge Rd STE 410. 

“As we welcome visitors to the Vineyard Johns Creek Information Center, the health and safety of our visitors and employees remains our biggest priority,” said Kevin Suite, President and Chief Operating Officer of Valeo Senior. “We are implementing daily practices and procedures that will help reduce the spread of the COVID-19, have been reviewing daily the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and are complying with local, state and federal guidelines.”

From a personnel standpoint, Vineyard Johns Creek is thrilled to announce Annette Fields as Executive Director. With over 10 years of industry experience, she is nationally certified as a Director of Assisted Living (CDAL) and has experience in both social services and education. “I’m dedicated to creating a collaborative atmosphere within which residents, staff and family will thrive and have a sense of belonging and purpose,” said Fields.

Jennifer Farine joins the Vineyard Johns Creek team as Sales Director. She has extensive knowledge and experience in the senior living community in Johns Creek and the surrounding areas. “I’m incredibly excited to be part of the growing Vineyard family, and look forward to providing the highest quality of care to residents and their families,” said Farine.

Vineyard Johns Creek boasts the proprietary T.H.R.I.V.E. residence experience programming framework designed to foster a continued sense of purpose for seniors and will be equipped with industry-leading advanced smart technology throughout the building as a part of parent company Valeo Senior’s focus to evolve the senior living experience. In addition, the community has dementia care certification and assisted living training for all employees that exceeds state standards.

Valeo Senior has two new communities set to open this fall, with four more in the development pipeline for 2020 and another five to commence in 2021 – including Vineyard Johns Creek.

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Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA Relaunches Manning Playground Fundraising Campaign



Playground rendering courtesy of Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA.

YMCA of Metro Atlanta announced September 18 that it has relaunched the John Manning Playground Fundraising Campaign to raise an additional $25,000 to reach its $200,000 goal for a new state of the art playground for the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA, an initiative introduced in fall 2019 that was halted due to the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic. 

John Manning was a dedicated YMCA volunteer, active church member, respected family and corporate lawyer and Peachtree Corners community member who left a legacy of service and friendship. The new playground will incorporate educational and creative-based play structures for all ages. Landscaping in and around the playground will provide a new park-like setting for families to enjoy. The Y is looking to volunteers, members and business for their support in bringing honor to Manning and his legacy through the new amenity.

“We are excited to safely welcome back our members and children into our daycare programs,” said Mark Thornell, executive director, Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA.  “The Manning playground is something for us all to look forward to as we are on schedule to break ground in the fall.”

A featured donor is Manning’s 12-year-old granddaughter Caroline, who has instructed acting camps for her peers the past three summers to raise money for the playground. Caroline aims to raise enough money to reserve a “Camp Caroline 2020” brick on the park grounds in memory of her grandfather.

“We are blessed with an amazing playground committee who has worked tirelessly to secure donations to make this dream come true,” said Sarah Manning Locke, playground committee co-chair and Manning’s daughter.  “We are so close to our goal and are having to get creative to see everything to completion due to the coronavirus uncertainty.  I love that Caroline is on board to pitch in with her Camp Caroline donation.”

Those interested in donating or purchasing a brick to help pave the way for Y children, can do so on the organization’s website ymcaofmetroatlanta.givingfuel.com/john-manning

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