Connect with us

City Government

Peachtree Corners Awards ARPA Funds to 11 Nonprofits, Here’s Who’s Received It



Although the COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on all aspects of life, perhaps one area that is feeling the sting especially hard is nonprofits. The need for their services has doubled, or even tripled in some cases, but donations, government funding and volunteers have diminished exponentially. That’s why the signing of the federal American Rescue Plan Act on March 11, 2021 brought new hope to many whose mission is to bring hope to others. (What is ARPA?)

With its share of the $1.9 trillion allotment, the city of Peachtree Corners diligently set about devising a fair and equitable way to distribute the funds.

“We have the ability to use some funds internally, not just for nonprofits,” said Louis Svehla, spokesman for the city. “We’re also using the funds to help businesses and individuals directly.”

Although Peachtree Corners is no stranger to providing support for worthwhile causes, the $16,395,722 it received (half in July 2021 and the remainder sometime this year) and guidelines for disbursement were a lot for the city government to handle. It eventually split the funds into four piles:

  • The Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund is to assist Peachtree Corners residents who have been severely impacted by COVID-19. The funds are to be awarded to qualifying nonprofits that will distribute them to individuals.
  • The Nonprofit Operating Fund is to assist qualified nonprofits that have been especially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with funding for operating costs.
  • The Business Assistance Fund is to assist small businesses within the Peachtree Corners city limits that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
  • The Capital Project Fund is to assist businesses and nonprofit organizations in modifying their facilities to address COVID-19 prevention measures such as upgrading ventilation systems, enabling social distancing, etc. or improving the exterior areas of their business.

The Nonprofit Operating Fund was allotted over $1.5 million with 11 organizations receiving funding.

“We hired a consultant to help with the process,” said Svehla. The city used Alabama-based Azimuth Grants, a grant consulting firm with offices in Atlanta. A women-owned business established in 2010, Azimuth helped the city develop an application and a rubric to ensure that the process put money in the hands of the most-deserving organizations.

“It was very in-depth,” said Svehla. “It took two months to score the applications and review the narratives.”

Doling Out the Dollars

The 40-page document seemingly left no stone unturned to vet the 100-plus organizations that applied. Although the total amount awarded seems huge, the need is greater. And not all the nonprofits have their operations inside the Peachtree Corners city limits. What was important was that they provide services to city residents.

The awards to local nonprofits were handed out last month. One of the first to receive a big check was the Robert D. Fowler YMCA with $500,000. On Friday, January 28, Mayor Mike Mason and Councilmembers Eric Christ and Alex Wright presented it during the YMCA’s 25 Year Anniversary Celebration.

Although the Y received the lion’s share of the pot, its need is by no means annihilated.

“We are so thankful, and just so blessed to have received the money that we did,” said Katie Furlough, executive director of Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA.

She went on to explain that plans for the money are twofold. “Some is going to go to facility improvements that were deferred because of the cost of improvements during COVID. … Like everyone else, we had to shift some things around when COVID happened, so that we could really serve the community in ways that it needed at that time. … There were some projects that we moved to future plan so that we could use those resources in different ways.”

Now that it appears the pandemic is headed in the other direction, or at least stabilizing, the Y will replace and repair the whirlpool and get it up and running. As for the rest of the funds, Furlough said the leadership wants to get feedback from the community.

“What can we do to better impact the community and serve Peachtree Corners? And the people in need, really with a focus on physical activity?” she said.

The list of possibilities includes extending the backpack program where kids go home with food to tide them and their family over during the weekend. Many students rely on a free breakfast and lunch, and Saturdays and Sundays can become hungry days. By the same token, the Y is also considering expanding the summer lunch program as well.

“We also, in 2021, served 50 kids with safety around water,” said Furlough. “Drowning is the second leading cause of death for kids under 12.”

The grant could also provide scholarships to kids in the camp program, sports programs, and/or after school programs. “Providing opportunities for kids to build connections and build friends, to have a sense of belonging and a sense of achievement, and to create strong relationships with peers and adults is an important part of what we do. And some kids aren’t able to do that, or some families aren’t able to do that on their own,” she said.

And of course, funds could also go toward activities for seniors. “We’re trying to really create a space for seniors to feel like they belong and have a sense of community because we know that when seniors experience things like loss of a partner, or just changes that happen, that can be lonely, and that loneliness really creates a lot of health concerns for people.”

So even though the huge award from the city is a blessing, the need is ever-present.

Smaller Awards Still Make Big Impacts

The same holds true for other area nonprofits.

Although Rainbow Village and the Norcross High School Foundation received the smallest amounts of the ARPA funds, both have big plans for stretching the dollars.

Pictured are Eric Christ (District 2 – PTC City Council), Amanda Credendino (Co-President NHS Foundation for Excellence), Will Bishop (Principal – Norcross High School), Tiffany Ellner (Co-President NHS Foundation for Excellence), Phil Sadd (District 1 – PTC City Council)

The NHS Foundation for Excellence was awarded $30,000 from the City of Peachtree Corners which it will use to better support NHS students and families.

“The Foundation is grateful for the support of the City of Peachtree Corners to help further our mission of positively impacting all students by cultivating excellence in academics, arts, and athletics,” said organizers in a statement.

Its mission is accomplished in part with a tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk 9th and 10th grade students that meets after school.

Similarly, Rainbow Village, is grateful for the award. “Every dollar counts for us. My staff and I say that all the time,” said Rev. Melanie Conner, director. “So, whether it’s a small or large gift, it’s always greatly appreciated.”

It offers a different kind of community support. “Primarily we provide help, hope, healing and housing for families that are experiencing homelessness,” she said. “On our campus, we actually have 30 apartments where the families can live …  for up to two years. And we provide all of the supportive services that a family would need to get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.”

Unlike day shelters that may give a bed for the night, meals, clothing and showers, Rainbow Village works with families exclusively — in any composition — to break the cycle of homelessness.

“We have a grandfather raising his granddaughters, we had a grandmother raising her grandchildren, but the majority of our families are single moms,” said Conner. “There’s nothing wrong with day shelters, they certainly have their place and serve a need. We just take a different approach.”

Rainbow Village assigns success coaches (a name change from case managers) to meet with families regularly to review their finances and to ensure that they are still employed in a job that’s paying a livable wage. The coaches also help with mental health services and legal services if the clients have any issues with those. And of course, there is childcare, tutoring for kids and life skills training.

“So really we help with every aspect of their lives, especially because they live with us,” said Conner. “They’re here in our village.”

The program has a high success rate, too. Conner keeps up with “graduates” and her stats show that in the organization’s 30 years, as much as 92% of those who leave after the two years manage to stay afloat with a job and a roof over their heads.

It wasn’t hard for Conner to find a use for the grant. The funds will support the children in its academy, a program that provides academic enrichment, social skill development, and a safe haven for children from elementary to high school age. At Rainbow Village, all the children of participants in the residential program must participate in an afterschool program of some kind. Those who do not already have an afterschool plan are enrolled in the Rainbow Village Academy.

“With the onset of the pandemic, we found that we needed additional staffing to support the children,” said Conner. “At any time, we can have anywhere from 50 to 100 kids, depending on the makeup of the families that we’re serving. So that’s a lot of kids for one person to be responsible for.”

There are volunteers, but Conner feels strongly that a staffer needs to lead the charge for ensuring the children’s favorable outcomes in the school year and over the summer. “A lot of times people don’t like [to use donations] to support staffing, but I always say that without the staff, the programs don’t operate,” said Conner.

The city of Peachtree Corners will be making announcements soon about plans for more of the ARPA funds. Check back with Peachtree Corners Magazine for updates.

Peachtree Corners ARPA Distribution to Nonprofits

Organization NameAmount
Peachtree Corners Baptist Church$175,000
Norcross Youth Baseball Softball Association  (Capital Funding)$105,000
Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA$500,000
Annandale at Suwanee, Inc.$200,000
Norcross High School Foundation for Excellence$30,000
Revved Up Kids$110,000
Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries$80,000
Norcross Youth Baseball Softball Association  (Capital Funding)$16,000
Rainbow Village, Inc.$30,000
Corners Outreach$150,000

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

Continue Reading

City Government

City’s First Employee Steps Down



At a City Council meeting on April 23, Diana Wheeler was recognized for more than 12 years of dedicated service to the city.
Diana Wheeler on stage at Town Center // Photos by Tracey Rice

Diana Wheeler starts her own consulting business

When a city is established, there’s a lot to do to get it going. One of the most important decisions is hiring effective staff. Diana Wheeler was one of those qualified employees who helped turn Peachtree Corners into the community it is today. She’s also credited with being the city’s first hire.

“I worked in Alpharetta for about 20 years as a community development director, and I decided that it was time to try something new and different, something I hadn’t done before. I was going to start up my own consulting business,” said Wheeler.

She was only a few days into her new career when the city of Peachtree Corners called.

“They said, ‘Hey, we’d like you to come and help us out. We’re starting up a new city, and we don’t really have any planners. We need a community development department,” said Wheeler.

So, she went back into city government work and put off starting her business.

Years of service

“I was the only employee for a while,” she said. “There were a lot of interesting times, and there were opportunities I’ve never had before, like setting up all of their programs and systems at the beginning.”

At a City Council meeting on April 23, Wheeler was recognized for more than 12 years of dedicated service to the city.

“A lot of things were accomplished, and after 12 years, I thought, well, you know, I still want that one last sort of professional challenge that I hadn’t ever done before, which was to go out on my own and take advantage of the connections that I’ve made over the years and work on projects that were of interest to me,” she said.

She let the city leadership know that it was time for that change and that she’d be making that change at the end of April.

“Diana’s daily presence was profoundly valued by her colleagues, who benefitted from her expertise, leadership, and perhaps most importantly, her composure in the face of the numerous challenges that the Peachtree Corners city government has encountered during her tenure,” read a statement from the city.

Don’t call it a retirement

As the community development director, Wheeler wore a lot of hats, metaphorically speaking.

“When I was community development director, I had four divisions: the building department, which issues permits and performs inspections; code enforcement, which basically enforces the city’s regulations in commercial and residential areas; planning and zoning, which does all the public hearings and all the zoning research work, and when we added the Town Center, we added special events,” she said. “It’s just a lot of different things. And the city has a very limited number of employees. So, everybody does multiple tasks.”

But she hasn’t entirely left the city. Through the end of the year, she’ll be coordinating the special events at the Town Center.

“We’ve got an incredible lineup. We have all sorts of really cool concerts …  and we’re also introducing a night market, which is like a farmer’s market,” she said.

The market will take place on the second Saturday of the month and will have about 14 different vendors selling produce, homemade products, and other items.

“We’re going to have a talent competition this year,” she said. “It’s called Peachtree Corners Has Talent, and we’re asking people to submit YouTube videos, and there are prizes for winners.”

Additionally, there’s a children’s festival and one for the canines in the new dog park.

“On December 4, we’re going to have the huge holiday glow event, which is our big holiday gala at the town center with a concert and Santa and all sorts of stuff for kids to do and a sing-along and lots of free hot chocolate and cookies and things like that,” she said.

Wheeler is unsure if she’ll continue working as a consultant with the city beyond December, but she’s excited about her next chapter. Her consulting business is focused on special projects.

A new journey as a consultant

“In communities where they have a limited staff but would like to take on a project, for example, the city of Jasper and the city of Milton have two different areas where they have projects that they would like to take on, but they don’t have the staff resources,” she said.

That’s where she’ll come in.

“They hire people sort of as a side project to work just on that project. And those are the sort of things that I would do,” she said. “I get to focus on a specific project and don’t deal with the day-to-day things.”

Wheeler said she likes that she gets to choose what she wants to work on and use her skills and experience to the fullest.

Highlights of Wheeler’s career with the city of Peachtree Corners:

  • She laid the groundwork for the establishment of Peachtree Corners’ inaugural City Hall.
  • She was instrumental in the development of the Holcomb Bridge Corridor Urban Redevelopment Plan, Livable Centers Initiative, Innovation Hub Master Plan, Winters Chapel Road Corridor Study and conceptual planning for the Multi-Use Trail network.
  • She established and nurtured the Arts Council, created the Arts & Culture Master Plan, and promoted other public art initiatives, bringing the residents enriching cultural experiences, artistic expression and a sense of community pride.
  • She played a pivotal role in the establishment and ongoing support of the Peachtree Corners Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Downtown Development Authority, Redevelopment Authority, Arts Council, and Green Committee.
  • She played a crucial role in securing the city’s Green Community Certification and its Tree City USA recognition.
  • She spearheaded the implementation of the city’s initial zoning laws and led the Code Enforcement, Building and Permitting and Planning and Zoning Departments.
  • She pioneered the city’s first Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
  • She played a key role in launching Special Service Districts, contributing significantly to their initiation and success.
  • She Diana guided Town Green and Town Center initiatives.
  • She organized and managed Peachtree Corners’ special events.

Continue Reading

City Government

Why Vote in the Upcoming Gwinnett County Elections? [May 21]



On Tuesday, May 21, there will be county-wide elections to choose new judges, school board representatives and party primaries.

On Tuesday, May 21, there will be county-wide elections to choose new judges, school board representatives and party primaries.

For the first time since 1996, the school board District 3 seat (which includes most of Peachtree Corners) is open as Dr. Mary Kay Murphy is not seeking re-election after serving seven terms. Five candidates are running to succeed Dr. Murphy.

There are several open county judicial seats with multiple candidates running. There are also seats open for the Georgia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Since no Republican candidates qualified for the Gwinnett District Attorney race, the winner of the Democratic Primary on May 21, will become the next District Attorney (DA). If the incumbent Patsy Austin-Gatson wins, she will continue as DA for the next four years.

If one of the other two Democratic candidates wins, they will be unopposed in November and will replace Ms. Austin-Gatson in January 2025. Any voter wishing to participate in the Gwinnett DA race would have to vote in the May 21 primary and request a Democratic ballot. If you’re ready for a new DA, waiting until November will be too late.

Where and when to vote

Voting precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21. Confirm your registration status and voting location at mvp.sos.ga.gov. You must go to your assigned home precinct to vote on Election Day.

Gwinnett offers in-person early voting every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, May 17 at 11 locations around the county. The closest location to Peachtree Corners is at the Pinckneyville Community Recreation Center.

The full list of locations is here. Voters can go to any early voting location, regardless of their home precinct.

Absentee ballots can be requested here and must arrive at the Board of Elections office by 7 p.m. on May 21 to be counted. The ballots can be mailed or put in an official drop box.

Due to changes by the State Legislature, counties are now limited to one drop box per 100,000 registered voters. Consequently, Gwinnett has only six drop boxes for the 2024 elections (as opposed to 23 boxes in 2020). Also drop boxes are not available 24/7, but only during early voting hours. The closest drop box to Peachtree Corners is at the Pinckneyville Community Recreation Center. The full list of drop box locations is here.

Primary Voting is a bit different from voting in the general election in November. You must select one of three ballots:

  • Non-Partisan Ballot: only includes the property tax referenda,  judicial candidates and the District 3 school board candidates.
  • Democratic Party Ballot: includes Democratic candidates for federal, state, and county positions, and the property tax referenda, judicial and school board candidates.
  • Republican Party Ballot: includes Republican candidates for federal, state, and county positions, property tax referenda, and the judicial and school board candidates.

Georgia has open primaries and voters do not register by party. You can select either the Democratic or Republican ballot for this primary election, regardless of how you voted in 2022 or prior years. For some races, like Gwinnett District Attorney there are only candidates from one party, so the winner of the primary will be unopposed in November.

View a sample ballot at My Voter Page.

Here are some of the local contested races on which voters in Peachtree Corners can weigh in by voting in the primary. (Many races on both sides of the aisle have only one person running, and are not listed here).


Both of the referenda on the May 21 ballot relate to the Homestead Exemption, the reduction in assessed value on a property that serves as the primary residence for the taxpayer. For example, if the assessed value on a residential property in Gwinnett is $200,000 and you claim it as your primary residence, the assessed value is currently reduced by $4,000 to $196,000 for the purposes of calculating your property taxes. The lower assessed value is then multiplied by the millage rate to determine the amount of tax owed.

  • Referendum 1: Increase the existing Homestead Exemption from Gwinnett School Taxes from $4,000 to $8,000
    • If approved, residential property owners in Gwinnett would see a reduction in school taxes charged on their primary residence of $76.80 per year (based on the current school tax millage rate).
    • If rejected, the exemption would remain at $4,000.
  • Referendum 2: Create an additional Homestead Exemption from Gwinnett School Taxes of $2,000 just for Public Service Employees
    • If approved, “public service employees” (defined as firefighters, paramedics, police officers, teachers and staff of Gwinnett Public Schools, staff of Gwinnett hospitals, and members of the Armed Forces) who reside in Gwinnett would see a reduction in school taxes charged on their primary residence of $38.40 per year (based on the current school tax millage rate).
    • If rejected, public service employees would not receive an additional exemption but would continue to receive the same exemption as all other residential property owners.

Note: neither referenda, if passed, would affect county government property taxes or city property taxes. The new exemptions would only apply to school taxes and only to the regular school taxes, not any school taxes related to the repayment of bonds issued by the school system.

Judicial races

  • For Superior Court, Kimberly Gallant has received bi-partisan support to succeed retiring Judge Batchelor. Gallant has served on the Municipal Court, Juvenile Court, and State Court.
  • Also for Superior Court, Regina Mathews and Tuwanda Rush Willams have received strong recommendations and bi-partisan endorsements to succeed Judge Beyers.
  • Incumbent State Court Judge Shawn Bratton has also received similar bi-partisan support in his re-election campaign.

School board

For School Board District 3 (to succeed retiring Dr. Mary Kay Murphy), there are five candidates. This almost guarantees that no one will get a majority in the first round and the top two will advance to a run-off.

The first of the two leading candidates are Yanin Cortes, a graduate of Georgia State, a former teacher at Shiloh High School and a successful entrepreneur for the past 15 years.

The second, is Shana White, a graduate of Wake Forest, Winthrop University and Kennesaw State. White is a third-generation teacher (Summerour MS, Peachtree Ridge HS, Sweetwater MS, Creekland MS, and Pace Academy) and a computer science instruction consultant.

White has earned the endorsement of the Gwinnett County Association of Educators, while Cortes has been endorsed by Dr. Mary Kay Murphy and Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason.

Key Republican primary races

  • For District Attorney, there are no Republicans running. The winner of the Democratic primary will be the next DA.
  • For County Commission Chair, there are two Republicans running, John Sabic and Justice Nwaigwe. Sabic ran in 2022 for Commission District 2, losing to incumbent Ben Ku. Sabic has been very visible in the community and is now running for Commission Chair. Nwaigwe is a first time candidate, but is also running a strong race.
  • For State Senate District 7 (which covers central and eastern Peachtree Corners), four Republican candidates are running: Fred Clayton, Gregory Howard, Louis Ligon, and Clara Richardson-Olguin.

    With four candidates, this race will likely go to a run-off between the top two contenders. Richardson-Olguin is running as a small business champion and has received several endorsements from state and local Republicans while Howard has focused his campaign on public safety and education.

The other local Republican races like Congressional District 4, State House Districts 48 and 97, State Senate District 40, and County Commission District 1 only have one Republican candidate each. Those candidates will automatically advance to the November general election.

Key Democratic primary races

  • For District Attorney (which prosecutes felony crimes in Gwinnett), career prosecutor Andrea Alabi has received bipartisan support as she seeks to oust Patsy Austin-Gatson. Alabi worked under former DA Danny Porter, has tried over 1,000 cases, and has never lost a single murder case. Alabi has been endorsed by eight mayors in Gwinnett, including Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason. The third candidate is Daryl Manns, a former Assistant District Attorney who worked for Ms. Austin-Gatson until resigning in 2023. With no Republican candidates in this race, the primary winner will be the next District Attorney.
  • For County Commission Chair, incumbent Nicole Love Hendrickson faces former state representative Donna McLeod. Hendrickson, first elected in 2020, has been endorsed by 12 Gwinnett mayors including Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, Norcross Mayor Craig Newton, and Buford Mayor Phillip Beard. Dozens of state legislators have also endorsed Hendrickson.
  • For State Senate District 40 (which covers the western edge of Peachtree Corners), incumbent Senator Sally Harrell is opposed by David Lubin. Harrell has served in the Senate since 2018 and has been a strong supporter of the cities in her district, including Peachtree Corners.

The other local Democratic races like Congressional District 4, State House Districts 48 and 97, State Senate District 7, and County Commission District 1, only have one Democratic candidate each. Those candidates will automatically advance to the November general election.

This information was sourced from Peachtree Corners Councilman Eric Christ’s monthly digital newsletter. Sign up for his email list here.

Continue Reading

City Government

Crime and Safety Concerns Dominate Town Hall Meeting



Eric Christ

Besides his monthly newsletter, Peachtree Corners City Councilman Eric Christ occasionally hosts town hall meetings to allow constituents to catch up on what’s going on and give him feedback on a variety of issues. 

On Sunday, March 24, several dozen residents and stakeholders gathered for updates at City Hall’s Community Chest room. Christ probably expected the gathering to last 90 minutes at the most, but the discussion lasted nearly three hours as he shared information about the Marshal program, development projects, the new dog park, deer and the May 21 primary election.

Cutting down on crime

Probably to nobody’s surprise, crime and public safety took up the bulk of the meeting. Christ wanted the audience to take away that crime in Peachtree Corners is down 25% from pre-pandemic times. He showed a chart with crime rates from 2019 through 2023 that showed a significant drop in crime overall.

  • Residential burglaries are down by 48%.
  • Thefts are down by 34%.
  • Robberies are down by 24%.

“Prior to the pandemic in 2017, 2018 and 2019 we were averaging about 100 total [part one crimes] every month, and that dropped almost by half during the pandemic. Then, in 2021, it went back up a little bit again,” said Christ. 

Even though the rate has increased year over year since 2020, it has not returned to pre-COVID levels. However, compared to the previous year, crime has increased by 23%. One solution may be the new City Marshal program that kicked off in November. 

Having a relatively small population, the most heinous crimes, such as homicide and aggravated assault, have stayed lower than in many other areas. However, auto thefts, car break-ins, robberies and other property crimes remain somewhat high.

The City Marshal’s involvement

Chief City Marshal Edward Restrepo gave anecdotal evidence that the marshal program is working and will continue to get better because it fills the gaps left between the Gwinnett Police Department and the city’s code enforcement department.

Edward Restrepo

“We had a jewelry store robbery, and about the time we came in, we had started building up the camera registry as well as the integration system of cameras all around the city,” said Restrepo. “With only three of us, we have to rely on technology as much as we can.”

Although the marshals didn’t apprehend the bad guys, their assistance helped other law enforcement officers do their jobs more effectively. Several residents asked if there were plans to increase the marshal force to provide 24-hour, 7-day-a-week service.

The initial cost was around $900,000, said Christ, and maintaining the three officers and an administrative assistant will require about $700,000. Although Peachtree Corners doesn’t levy a property tax, the city’s share of county taxes goes toward that type of expense.

“It’s up to the people of Peachtree Corners if they want to increase the program,” said Christ. “It will come at a price.”

Those in attendance indicated that they thought that would be money well spent. Several said they liked seeing marshals at city-sponsored events because it sent a message that Peachtree Corners is serious about keeping its residents and visitors safe.

Christ said he and the rest of the council would consider that, but he reminded everyone that they should still report crimes to the police.

“I’ve had people tell me that they left a message on the city’s answering machine on a Friday evening and hadn’t heard back,” he said. “I tell them the first step is always to call 911.”

Catch the episode of the UrbanEBB podcast featuring Edward Restrepo from this past January here:

Continue Reading

Read the Digital Edition


Peachtree Corners Life

Topics and Categories


Copyright © 2024 Mighty Rockets LLC, powered by WordPress.

Get Weekly Updates!

Get Weekly Updates!

Don't miss out on the latest news, updates, and stories about Peachtree Corners.

Check out our podcasts: Peachtree Corners Life, Capitalist Sage and the Ed Hour

You have Successfully Subscribed!