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UPDATE: Peachtree Corners Resident’s Jeopardy! Run Ends

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Danielle Maurer defeated 23-game winner Mattea Roach Friday on the nationally syndicated game show, but missed the Final Jeopardy! question on Tuesday and is now out.

The start of Tuesday’s Jeopardy! broadcast was looking a little rocky for Peachtree Corners resident Danielle Maurer. After faltering a bit, she moved ahead of the pack of all women. Although it didn’t offer much in the way of additional money, another Atlanta-based clue may have boosted her confidence.

But the Final Jeopardy! category “Live Music” proved too much for the cosplayer and self-proclaimed “foam-smith.”

Picking up both Daily Doubles in the first eight clues and keeping contestant Mallory Kass from scoring during the first 13 clues of the round, Maurer looked like she might be able to pull off another win. Maurer led going into Final Jeopardy! with $13,400. Kass had $9,100 and Cherry Ignacio, who hadn’t made much of an impact, was at $2,800.

Before the parting music played, Maurer ended up in second place with $8,599. She’ll go home with an additional $2,000, bringing her total Jeopardy! winnings to $29,999. Ignacio bet $2,100, placing third. Kass bet 5,000, had the correct question and took home a one-day total of $14,100.

Maurer will probably never forget that “two and a half months after Woodstock ’99 made headlines for the terrible behavior of its attendees, the Coachella festival debuted at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, 150 miles southeast of Los Angeles.”

Read previous stories about Maurer’s run below:

Although she pretty much stayed ahead the entire show, Peachtree Corners resident Danielle Maurer finished triumphantly on her second Jeopardy! appearance. With no help from geography on the Final Jeopardy! question, she still defeated newcomers Kasim Oliver and Emily Levant.

Literature didn’t appear to be her strong suit in the early Jeopardy! rounds and Maurer missed the question in the category “Novel Titles” in Final. But smart wagering saved the day once again. At $14,600 going into Final Jeopardy!, Maurer was well ahead of Levant who had $8,400 and Oliver whose incorrect answers when he did ring in left him at $1,400.

A conservative wager of $2,201 left Maurer with $12,399 for the Monday and a two-day total of $27,999. Will she continue the streak? Check back Tuesday evening for another update.

The original story is published below:

Peachtree Corners resident Danielle Maurer is a two-day Jeopardy! winner.

A Final Jeopardy! question set in metro Atlanta may have been the catalyst that catapulted Peachtree Corners resident Danielle Maurer into game show history. She defeated a seemingly unstoppable contestant, 23-game winner Mattea Roach, on Friday and was crowned the new Jeopardy! champion. 

After placing a calculated wager of $4,200 and coming up with the correct response in Final Jeopardy!, the 31-year-old digital marketing manager from Peachtree Corners took down the long-running Canadian champion and won the game by $1 with a total of $15,600 in winnings. 

“I was just standing up there with my pen and paper thinking this is the most important math that I will ever do in my life,” Maurer said in an interview with Sony Pictures, producer of the highly-rated game show. “I knew Mattea would bet to defend. She will bet as if I’m going to bet everything. So, if she gets it right, I lose. There’s no win scenario there for me. So, I’m going to bet as if she gets it wrong because that’s the only chance realistically that I am going to have.”

Maurer’s intuition proved to be right in the end. Roach, who placed a wager of $3,601, was unable to provide the correct Final Jeopardy! response and finished in second place with a total of $15,599. 

“I did not expect to win going in there until they revealed her answer, and then I could just feel my heart start pounding,” Maurer said. “I’m from Atlanta, I’ve lived here for almost 10 years. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the airport I fly out of constantly. So, I looked at that clue like surely it can’t be that easy, can it?”

(Reminder: Final Jeopardy! clues are written well in advance and selected randomly.)

Figuring out what to do with her prize money was also a no-brainer, the new Jeopardy! champion said in the interview. 

“I have a basement that needs finishing,” Maurer said. “I do cosplay work and the basement is supposed to become my craft room. So, that’s a pretty good payment to get it completed.”

As a lifelong Jeopardy! fan, who has been trying out to be a contestant since she was 13, Maurer said winning her first game while slaying a giant like Roach in the process was a monumental accomplishment.

“I have been trying to get on the show for more than 15 years,” Maurer said. “This is something that I’m going to carry with me the rest of my life. It means more to me than I can say.”

When Maurer found out she was going to be a contestant, she said she knew there was a “strong possibility” that she may have to face off against a super-champion and she wanted to be prepared.

“I had been following the season. I knew about Matt (Amodio). I knew about Amy (Schneider),” Maurer said. “In fact, Amy’s episodes were airing when I got the call. So, we sort of practiced as if I was playing against Amy.”

Maurer spent countless evenings playing Jeopardy! with her husband and best friend using clues from previous games.

“We would check my results against Amy’s, like ‘Oh well, Amy missed the Final, but you got it,’” Maurer said. “‘So, you might have had a chance to take her there.’”

Amy Schneider’s run had come to an end before Maurer taped her first game, but she said she knew all of her practice against the 40-game champ would come in handy when it was her turn to play against Roach. 

“When I walked into the studio, and they were like, ‘Our current 19-day champion Mattea Roach,’ I could just see the color draining out of everyone’s faces around me,” Maurer said. “For me, I’m sitting there like — yeah that’s about what I expected.”

While Maurer admits it is intimidating to go up against Jeopardy! giant, she said she wants future contestants to know one thing: “It doesn’t matter how well you do the day that you’re on the show. Just getting there is such an achievement within itself.”

Jeopardy! airs at 7:30 p.m. on WXIA, Channel 11 in the metro Atlanta area.

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Twin Authors Chronicle Antics of ‘Four-Legged Brother’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apollo’s birthday inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

Publishing success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nurturing creativity

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

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

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

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

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

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Local State Reps Give Roundup of Legislative Session

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Bill 63

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House Bill 1105

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

Some say it’s an immigration bill.

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

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

Romman doesn’t see it that way.

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

She talked about her work keeping unaccompanied immigrant minors safe.

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

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

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

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

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

Business-related legislation

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

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

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

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

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

This was one area where both representatives had similar views.

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

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

Looking ahead

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

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

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

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

Hilton mentioned school safety. 

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

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

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City of Peachtree Corners Unveils Space-Inspired Tot Lot Playground

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

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

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

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

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