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Peachtree Corners Takes Down ‘Street Takeover’

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street takeover peachtree corners
Street Takeover (Picture from City of Peachtree Corners Twitter)

Coordinated efforts by several local law enforcement agencies sent a message that mayhem won’t be tolerated here.

Anyone who’s been caught in the mayhem of an illegal street takeover can attest that the speed of the cars, the noise, smoke and adrenaline of the crowd can make a ten-minute occurrence feel like a nightmare. An unsuspecting motorist recalled her encounter with a street takeover around 7:30 p.m. on Easter (April 17) at a busy Peachtree Corners intersection.

“We had an unfortunate front-row seat to some sort of very carefully planned event that took place in the intersection of Peachtree Parkway and East Jones Bridge/Medlock Bridge,” she wrote on Nextdoor.

She described how about 75 cars stopped traffic both ways on 141 (Peachtree Parkway). The license plates were taped over to avoid identification by the city’s newly installed plate readers. They took turns doing “donuts” and other crazy stunts. Tires were squealing and sparks were flying. There was a good deal of smoke as well. They also set off fireworks adding to the chaos.

It was a spontaneous event, the Nextdoor poster recalled, it appeared to be very well planned. There were also people in cars taking videos. One couple was standing on top of their car.

“Honestly it was terrifying to me. I was unable to get out of the area but I did back up a bit to put some distance between us and the action. I was in the turn lane trying to go left on E Jones when the light turned red and I stopped right where it was all going on,” she wrote.

When a lone police car showed up, the group started to break up and go their separate ways. The poster was able to continue to her destination, but not before being shaken up and scared for her safety.

“The possibility of injury or death was real. Kids (teens or young adults) were hanging out of the windows of the cars which were going crazy fast. Kids were all over the area where the stunts were taking place. Of course, all the people like us who were caught in the incident were in danger of being hit as well,” she added.

This type of scenario isn’t unusual and law enforcement officials across the country are concerned that as spring stretches into summer, there will be more of these incidents.

Recently, an effort among several Gwinnett County agencies thwarted a large takeover on Sunday, May 1 which resulted in 88 arrests. Responding to the intersection of Peachtree Corners Circle and Spalding Drive, officers blocked 26 vehicles. Gwinnett County Police and officers from nearby Norcross and Lilburn as well as off-duty officers from surrounding areas were on hand to lend assistance.

When the smoke cleared, 68 adults and 20 juveniles were taken into custody. The cars were impounded and five handguns were found. Nobody was hurt, but a pizza delivery driver who got caught in the middle of the madness had his car’s windows broken.

“This exceptional response and coordination amongst numerous agencies achieved incredible results. The Gwinnett Police Department recognizes the hazard these illegal street racing activities pose to the motoring and pedestrian public,” the police department said in a release. “These dangerous and reckless activities will not be tolerated. We are committed to keeping the streets of Gwinnett County safe for all residents and visitors.”

City of Peachtree Corners officials echo that sentiment and vowed to keep the streets safe.

Although often referred to as “street racing,” there’s very little actual racing involved, Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian Johnson said during a podcast of “Peachtree Corners Life,” a product of Peachtree Corners Magazine.

“As a reminder for those who don’t understand … what we’re talking about these [are] really intersection takeovers. … There is a degree of street racing in it. Not necessarily like two cars racing each other like Fast and Furious but street racing that cars [are] doing aggressive driving in the interest of sensationalism,” said Johnson.

He said besides doing it for the thrill, these “car clubs” create videos and post them on YouTube.

“The more outrageous the event is, the more views they get. The more views they get, the more money they get from ad revenue. And the more money they get, the more they can pimp their cars,” Johnson said. “They will take over an intersection by basically timing when they all hit usually wide, four-way signalized intersections because they need a lot of real estate in the middle and they all will have cars that stop at the light.”

The lead drivers will go into the middle of the intersections and do outrageous stuff. They do drifting circles, donuts and all sorts of dangerous tricks. These aren’t trained stunt drivers and they could easily lose control of the car. And as the Nextdoor poster described, the perpetrators often try to make the spectacle flashier with fireworks and sometimes shooting guns.

Although it isn’t unique to Peachtree Corners or even the state of Georgia, they happen all over the country. He went on to vow that the city along with law enforcement won’t tolerate the activity here.

After the Easter incident, Johnson had a conversation with Gwinnett County Police Major Edward Restrepo, who is the precinct commander of the West Precinct. Officers that patrol Peachtree Corners are out of that precinct. Johnson and Restrepo talked about putting an end to the street takeovers.

“You can imagine that this is a very resource-intensive thing to stop,” Johnson said. “If you remove the … discharging of a firearm component, these are …  misdemeanors only.”

And when the participants flee, there is a county-wide policy against the pursuit of drivers that are not in the commission of an active felony or violent crime. So when officers show up, everyone gets away. Oftentimes there’s a scout further down the road that radios the group that the police are coming.

The two men identified a few locations where they put high-definition video cameras. The trap was set. Then early Sunday morning at approximately 4:49 a.m. Gwinnett County communications received a call referencing street racing activities occurring around Peachtree Corners Circle and Spalding Drive. West Precinct officers responded in a coordinated approach from different areas to the intersection. They put down spike strips to impede drivers from getting away.

Although the crimes won’t merit huge fines or lengthy jail time, Johnson said he hopes it sends a message that Peachtree Corners is serious about keeping people safe.

“A couple of months ago … there was the sense that there’s really nothing you can do because it’s a misdemeanor [and] the policy is not chasing after misdemeanors,” said Johnson. “It was just one too many times.”

Johnson added that he hopes the fines and impound fees will be enough of a deterrent to keep the street takeovers out of Peachtree Corners.

Anyone who has information about these incidents or any other crime is asked to call detectives at 770-513-5300 or Crime Stoppers, which lets tipsters remain anonymous, at 404-577-8477. More information is available at stopcrimeATL.com. There is a cash reward offered by Crime Stoppers for information that leads to an arrest and indictment.

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.

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Non-Profit Protecting Kids from Predators Hosting Beloved St. Paddy’s Event

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Revved Up Kids' training group courtesy of Alli and David Neal

Alli and David Neal and their non-profit, Revved Up Kids, have been working diligently for the past 14 years to address an issue that most would prefer to avoid altogether.

During that time, Revved Up Kids has equipped more than 45,000 Atlanta-area children and teens to be safer from sexual predators and traffickers.

“We recognize the challenge that this issue presents on so many levels,” said Alli Neal. “It’s scary, it’s horrible, it’s unsavory and it’s challenging for parents to talk about it with their kids.”

“That’s why we founded Revved Up Kids. We believe wholeheartedly that the easiest target for a predator is a child who doesn’t know predators exist. We want to help families with this difficult dialogue and equip kids with a response if they’re ever approached,” she added.

Revved Up Kids is uniquely positioned in the Atlanta metro area. It is the only Atlanta-based non-profit focused solely on sexual abuse prevention training.

Based in Peachtree Corners, they partner with youth-serving organizations, municipalities and private groups across the metro area to provide exceptional prevention training programs for children, teens, parents and other organizations.

Revved Up Kids charges tuition when groups can afford to pay, but one of the top priorities for its Board of Directors is ensuring that all children have access to this critical training. Whenever a group pays tuition for training, Revved Up Kids trains at least one other group at no charge.

Revved Up Kids relies on community donations, corporate sponsors and grants to provide free training programs for low-income and high-risk groups. Hosting special events is vital to their ability to reach more children.

“That’s where the community comes in,” said Neal. “Our signature fundraising event, Shamrock ‘n’ Roll, will take place at the Crowne Plaza in Norcross on Saturday, March 9, and we want to sell out this year.”

Shamrock ‘n’ Roll is an adults-only event that features casino-style gaming, dancing, an exciting raffle, auction items and exquisite food and drinks. Tickets are on sale now, and sponsorships are also available for the event. Visit revvedupkids.org/shamrock for details.

“The support of our community, including our amazing sponsors, has a huge impact on our ability to reach more children with our life-saving training. This event is a fun way for everyone to join Revved Up Kids in protecting children,” said Neal.

Scan the QR code to learn more.

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Changes at Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries Help Further Community Mission

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Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries vegetable truck

Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries has been battling poverty, food insecurity and homelessness, among other crisis events, in southwest Gwinnett, for 27 years. In total, NCM served more than 25,000 individuals in 2023, through direct support and personal empowerment programs.

Over time, the county’s demographics have changed, meaning the organization has needed to adapt to serve the community.

Families now face long-term needs due to fixed incomes, homelessness, abuse, language barriers, single-parent homes and many other circumstances, according to the NCM website.

NCM now serves 50 to 70 families each day from a 12,000-square-foot facility. In addition to a food pantry, NCM offers job readiness classes, on-site hiring events, money management courses and regular health fairs.

A new course of leadership

Perhaps one of the biggest changes took effect this January. After almost 30 years of service to NCM, Executive Director Shirley Cabe will now give her primary focus to what she loves the most, the organization’s clients.

Cabe has been with NCM since its inception and has helped grow the organization tremendously as needs in this service area have drastically changed.

NCM’s Board of Directors supported Cabe’s request and developed a new role specifically for her. She will now serve as Director of Client Operations, allowing her to use her exceptional gifts and talents to serve those in need.

Additionally, Cabe will lead the expansion of the food program as refrigerated products will be added to client food offerings. Healthier food options such as protein, produce, reclaimed food and more will also be added.

“Healthier intake directly correlates to improved health and more productivity,” said Cabe in a news release. “This new initiative is huge for the clients we serve. We want to positively contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty. I am excited about the opportunities ahead for NCM and grateful to transition into this new role, focusing on more impactful service to our clients.”

With Cabe’s new role, former Director of Community Relations Ryan Jones will take over as Executive Director.

Jones has been with NCM for three years. Under Jones’ leadership, the organization held its most successful fundraising event to date, bringing in over $519,000 to continue its mission of making a difference one family at a time.

“Building out our team and people is the next step in the process,” said Jones. The big thing with the staffing change is just honoring Shirley and her years at this organization and allowing her to serve people, which is the heartbeat of our organization; that’s how she best serves–interacting with our clients in our community.”

Cabe’s larger role in the food program will help keep it running smoothly, he added.

There is already an established pickup schedule from Publix and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Jones explained that about 40% of food in the United States is wasted.

With new resources in place to access surpluses from supermarkets, restaurants, distributors, farmers and more, NCM can put a sizeable dent in southwest Gwinnett county’s share of the waste.

“We hope to use food as a resource, as we have more touch points with families that we see. So, as things come up in their lives, they’re seeing us more often, and we can step in when unexpected emergencies happen and try to address kind of the issues that have brought them to us in the first place,” Jones explained. “And with that comes just a lot more work.”

Dedicated board members

Les Harper, who succeeded Elizabeth Gross, has taken over as chairman of the board of directors to help with the vision for that work.

“My wife and I have been involved with Neighborhood Coop for a long time, volunteered through the church, and supported financially through the church over the years,” said Harper.

When I retired from working a couple of years ago and was looking for opportunities to give back to the community … one thing led to another, and I had the opportunity to join the board,” he added. “I started on the board a couple of years ago, and then last year, I was asked if I would consider stepping into the board chair role [this year], which I was excited to do.”

Harper’s experience on the board and working closely with Gross for an entire year allowed him to step in almost seamlessly into the new position.

“Elizabeth and I had a chance to work together in some leadership roles at church over the years. So, we have chaired and co-chaired a number of things over the years,” he said.

“For the past 12 months, she’s been great at including me in everything and making sure that I was up to speed on everything, fully involved, and ready to go,” he said.

Anyone involved in large-scale non-profit activities appreciates the time, energy, and resources that go into community organizing. To be good stewards of community trust, funds and well-being, NCM has focused on making operations run smoothly.

“NCM is definitely a feet-washing ministry, especially with the food. … A lot of times it’s heavy, and it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s well worth it,” Jones said. “I’m moving from strictly fundraising to overseeing all aspects of the organization and strategic oversight of all the initiatives that we have going on. … I was born in Gwinnett County. “So, really, the big reasons that I left my corporate job to come to NCM is how impressed I was with the board and the staff when I met them before coming on and the fact that it serves an area where I grew up that has a lot of need,” he commented.

Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries
500 Pinnacle Ct
Norcross, GA 30071
www.ourncm.org
770-263-8268

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15 Upcoming Kids’ Summer Camps in and around Peachtree Corners

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We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
UFA Norcross Academy summer camps

Many of us can probably recall fond childhood memories of camp. I know I can. From conquering my fear of heights on a rock wall to learning how to throw pottery and perfecting my serve in tennis, summer camps allowed me to explore my curiosities and try new things.

I can still remember Jenna, my favorite camp counselor, blasting Queen’s famous “I Want to Ride My Bicycle” while a gaggle of 13-year-old girls sang at the top of their lungs.

Now more than ever, it’s important for kids to feel safe in a fun environment, free of stress, where they can make similar memories that will last a lifetime.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area. Whether at a local school, park or museum, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect summer camp for your children.

Community camps

1. Pinckneyville Park Community Recreation Center, located off Peachtree Industrial Blvd in Berkeley Lake, is offering two Summer Specialty camps for children ages 8 to 12. From Tuesday, May 28, to Friday, May 31, campers will learn old and new world drawing, painting, and sculpting techniques to create their very own masterpieces.

2. The second Summer Specialty camp is for the young actors in the family. From Monday, July 8, to Friday, July 12, campers will stretch their creative muscles and showcase their passion for performance.

There is a $40 supply fee due to instructor Chris Harris on the first day of camp. Campers are advised to bring lunches and snacks with them. Registration is now open. Call 678-277-0920 for more information.

3. The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) is offering a mind-blowing ten weeks of summer days camps from May 27 to August 2, for children of all ages. MJCCA has a diverse range of activities, including sports, dance, faith, leadership, arts and cooking.

The center also has a brand new outdoor aquatic center for summer 2024. This facility offers a zero-entry pool, shallow areas with multiple options for all ages, an in-pool sundeck, a water slide, a shaded pool, deck areas, renovated locker rooms, picnic areas and more!

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
MJCCA summer day camps

At MJCCA, summers are truly life changing. Campers will master new skills, form friendships that will last a lifetime and strengthen their Jewish identities. Visit mjccadaycamps.org/camps to see the full lineup of camp offerings.

4. Summer is a time for kids to find their sense of adventure and expand the limits of their imagination. From exploring nature to building imaginary worlds, Robert D. Fowler YMCA focuses on social-emotional learning and offers kids new experiences to discover what they love.

Robert D. Fowler YMCA has over 100 half-day and full-day traditional and specialty camp options happening from May 28 to August 2.  

Specialty camps allow kids to expand their interests and learn new skills. Whether it’s cooking, basketball, drama or STEAM, children will have space to grow stronger, try new things and build their confidence in a safe and nurturing environment.

The traditional campers will have fun engaging in a wide variety of games, activities and team projects, in an environment that allows them to connect with new people.

Preschool-aged children, teenagers and everyone in between can find their perfect camp at ymcaatlanta.org/camp/day-camp.

5. Give your child a summer adventure to remember at Duluth’s Shorty Howell Park. Campers ages 7 to 13 can choose from four diverse day camp options.

From natural wonders to cultural traditions, campers will explore every corner of the globe during Around the World from June 24 through June 28. Mix it Up features a variety of classic camp activities to keep kids entertained and engaged. This camp will take place from July 8 to July 12.

The Shorty Howell Olympics are also back from July 15 to July 19. Campers can go for the gold through friendly competition, athletic showdowns and inter-camp games. The last camp of the season, Build It, allows participants to unleash their creativity and design their best craft creations from July 22 to July 26.

Lunch is provided, but campers are welcome to bring their own. Registration is now open and can be completed by calling 678-277-0900.

School camps

6. Greater Atlanta Christian camps are where active play, enriching experiences and true relationships meet.

With more than 30 summer enrichment programs in athletics, arts, academics and fun, campers can make new friends, discover new talents and explore in a safe, Christian environment.

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
Greater Atlanta Christian School summer camps

With a group of trained counselors, your child will be encouraged and celebrated in all they do.

GAC parent Erica Pierre was thrilled with her children’s camp experience. “From the contagious smiles of the counselors that greet them in the mornings to fun times at the pool, this camp finds so many ways to create not only a fun, but also a meaningful time for each child.”

Learn more at greateratlantachristian.org/campus-life/summer-camp.

7. Marist School invites children and teens, ages 5 to 17, to enjoy a summer filled with a wide array of camps that cater to a myriad of interests. For those with a passion for athletics, multiple sports camps are available. Budding musicians and producers can explore their talents in the music technology and production camp.

For students seeking to boost their academic skills, Marist School provides a personal essay startup workshop and an intensive SAT/ACT boot camp.

STEM fans will find the science camp both educational and exciting, while those interested in health and wellness can dive into the sports medicine camp.

Future broadcasters can develop their skills in the sports center and entertainment tonight broadcasting camps. Additionally, the theater camp is the perfect stage for aspiring actors and performers to shine.

These programs run from June 3 to August 2, promising a summer of learning, fun and personal growth for young individuals at Marist School. For the full list of available programs, visit maristschoolga.myrec.com/info/activities.

8. For nearly three decades, Pinecrest Academy has hosted an array of summer camps filled with fun and educational value. These camps play a pivotal role in boosting confidence, fostering friendships and imparting new skills to children in a secure and caring Christian environment.

Pinecrest welcomes children of many ages, from rising kindergartners to 12th graders, at their 68-acre campus.

The schedule of activities includes a Coding Camp, Spanish Immersion Camp, Culinary Arts Camp and many more specialized programs like Paladin Boys Basketball Boot Camp, Play-Well TEKnologies and Sewing Camp.

The camps are scheduled from June 3 to July 19. Registration is forthcoming and the complete camp lineup can be found at pinecrestacademy.org/campus-life/summer-camps.

9. Wesleyan School’s summer camps have been a highlight for kids ages 5 to 14. With a blend of arts, athletics, STEM and life skills, these camps offer a rich mix of activities for kids. Wesleyan offers flexible half-day options starting at $175 and full-day camps for $400, fitting both schedules and budgets.

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
Wesleyan School summer camps

This summer, the fun runs from June 10-28 and July 8-19. These camps have everything from sports like soccer and lacrosse to creative pursuits like chess and sewing.

Kids can also dive into science with robotics programming or get artistic with photography. Each session is led by skilled counselors and coaches, ensuring a safe and engaging experience.

Contact Kelly Weatherly, Wesleyan’s Director of Auxiliary Programs and Outreach for more information at kweatherly@wesleyanschool.org.

Arts, sports and STEM

10. Creativity and fun await at Spruill Summer Art Camp! This summer, young artists ages 5 to 14 are invited to an extraordinary journey of discovery. From May 28 to August 9, each camp has its own captivating theme.

Camp hours are set from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with additional before-care and after-care options available to accommodate various schedules.

For the younger age group (5 to 10 years), campers start with a morning session led by a teacher, followed by a lunch break, and then an afternoon session with a different instructor.

This format allows children to create an array of artworks, which are then showcased to parents at week’s end. A dedicated team of volunteers, including many former campers, is always ready to assist, ensuring that each camper receives the necessary support to thrive.

For rising sixth to ninth graders, the Spruill offers specialized Studio Art Camps. These sessions are conducted by professional teaching artists who introduce new art skills, assist in refining techniques and provide opportunities for campers to express their creative ideas. Visit spruillarts.org/camps to register.

11. This summer, the High Museum of Art invites young artists to immerse themselves in fine art through its weeklong camps designed for first through eighth graders.

The 2024 Summer Art Camp, opening for registration on February 13 (early access now available for members), offers a unique way for children to explore the Museum’s galleries and learn about its collections.

We’ve compiled a list of upcoming summer camps in the Peachtree Corners area at local schools, parks and museums,
High Museum of Art summer camps

They will also get to visit special exhibitions and develop their artistic skills in drawing, painting and design.

Guided by professional teaching artists, campers will engage in activities that enhance their creativity and allow them to experiment with new techniques.

The camps run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., during various weeks from June 3 through August 2, with morning drop-off starting at 8:30 a.m. and afternoon pick-up until 4 p.m.

There is also an aftercare option available until 6 p.m. for late pickups at an additional cost. Members of the High Museum are eligible for discounts and early registration, and non-members can easily add a membership during registration.

For more details or assistance, the Museum provides a Camp FAQ and can be contacted at HMAcamps@high.org or 404-800-0547.

12. The 2024 season at Top Dog Volleyball Club is underway, focusing on teams from 12U to 17U. This summer, the club is planning clinics and open gyms for May and June, which are open to everyone, not just club members.

Key dates to watch out for include the club tryouts scheduled for July 12-14. For the latest events and registration, the club suggests subscribing to their newsletter and is open to queries at info@topdogvolleyball.com or 678-333-0982.

13. United Fútbol Academy Norcross will host its 2024 Summer Ball Mastery Camp this June and July. Players of all skill levels born between 2011 and 2018 are welcome to participate.

Directed by Juan Cruz, this camp is an excellent opportunity for young soccer players to improve their ball-handling skills, foot speed, 1v1 moves, stop/start techniques, and clever maneuvers that keep opponents guessing.

The camp runs weekly from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday, with sessions scheduled for June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21 and July 8-12.

The Academy meets at Summerour Middle School in Norcross. Participants must bring their own ball, shin guards, plenty of water or ice, snacks or sports drinks and any necessary medications or EpiPens.

Parents can reach Juan Cruz at norcrosscamps@unitedfa.org for further information or to register their children for this rigorous training experience.

14. Club SciKidz believes that every child is a scientist and that they can become better scientists!

This summer, Club SciKidz will introduce a new format with many different camp options for a wide range of age groups.

For Pre-K to Kindergarten, camp themes include “Jurassic,” “Little Scientist” and “Mini Medical School,” among others. First through third graders can choose from “3D Creator,” “Junior Robot Engineer,” “Video Game Maker” and more.

Fourth through seventh graders have more advanced options like “Emergency Vet,” “Forensic Detective” and “Young EcoExplorer.”

Camps run Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, parents can contact Club SciKidz at 678-483-5651 or support@clubscikidz.com.

15. Paul Duke STEM High School in Norcross is hosting an array of Summer STEM camps for ages 7 through 12, with dates including June 3-7, June 10-14 and June 17-21.

Campers will learn tons of new skills like Scratch, game development, Roblox, Python and robotics, with an emphasis on hands-on learning and building technological acumen.

The camps have small class sizes and a 7:1 student-to-instructor ratio and are taught by vetted instructors from top universities.

Paul Duke STEM provides full-day and half-day options, along with pre-camp and post-camp care for additional fees. Half-day summer programs are also available for younger participants, specially tailored for those at least five years old, focusing on educational Minecraft lessons and creative projects.

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