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Peachtree Corners’ First Lady Debbie Mason



Debbie Mason

My husband Bob and I had the pleasure of volunteering with Mike and Debbie Mason for at least two decades. We worked alongside them volunteering with middle and high school drama projects and volunteered as chaperones for the 2004 NHS drama trip to NYC.

She supported Bob’s Crooked Creek clean-up efforts where he served alongside Debbie on the City’s Green Committee. In 2012, Debbie approached me to volunteer with vendor call marketing projects with the Peachtree Corners Festival.

Subsequently, Debbie asked me to serve as board secretary, capturing meeting minutes and assisting her further in vendor projects. She was an amazing community volunteer all the way around!

Bob and Lori Howard

Debbie Mason
Debbie and Mike Mason with former Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux

PTC has been my home for my entire life and is where we now raise our children. Debbie has been a fixture of Peachtree Corners for many years, and throughout my life, starting at about 15 years old as a freshman in NHS Theatre.

Nick [Mason, Debbie’s son] was a role model for me as an aspiring actor, but more importantly, as a respectful and high-integrity young adult. Over the years, it became more and more obvious where Nick got his kind and charismatic nature.

Debbie was always so supportive of our theatre troop and continued to be a comforting smile and source of inspiration until the end. Her presence will be missed by many and remembered by all.

Sam Hoover, Brazilian Wood Depot

It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to our City’s first lady, Debbie Mason. She always had a smile for the camera. From the first time I photographed her, back in 2014, she was always kind and exuberant.

Words are not my strength, so I wish to share just a few of my photos.

Ludwig Keck, Photographer

Words cannot express how deeply sorry I was to learn of Debbie’s passing. The thought of not seeing her smiling face again makes me so very sad.

Debbie brought, and leaves behind, a great light and legacy to our City and to all who had the pleasure to know her. I am blessed to have been able to call Debbie my friend and will forever think of her with love in my heart and the memories of her will always bring a smile to my face.

Alan Kaplan

Being a community leader is not an easy task. She faced the conflict between responding to the needs of her family and the collective needs of our community. Debbie was always able to balance these needs and secure the resources necessary to accomplish the task at hand. 

She engaged the support of her family in everything she did and made them a part of the solution. That made her a magnet for any task needed. She not only showed the way, but she made things move.

Being friends and neighbors for 38 years, it was a privilege to work together on projects you championed. You will be greatly missed, dear lady, but never forgotten for all the gifts you gave us of time, talent, and treasure. Rest in peace.

Nick Mason with his Mom
Nick Mason with his Mom

Lorri Christopher

I first met Debbie early on in researching the City’s history. I’ll never forget her enthusiasm and love for Peachtree Corners or her razor-sharp memory of the events that culminated in the YES campaign. Mrs. Mason was a true community hero.

Carole Townsend

I met Debbie Mason in February of 2011 when we were brought together by a mutual friend to discuss the idea of organizing a festival for Peachtree Corners. Although neither one of us, nor any of the people we brought into the project, had any idea how to put on a festival, we found a way.

Debbie and I always had a great relationship and not just because of the festival. We learned so much together.

I always admired her work ethic and principles. She taught me “You can’t fix stupid,” and she was sure right about that. I was lucky enough at the 2021 Peachtree Corners Festival to find a plaque from one of our vendors with that very saying, and I got it for her.

Debbie absolutely loved the Peachtree Corners Festival. This photo exemplifies how much fun she and her adoring husband Mike had every year. No one had a bigger smile.

I will always miss her. 

Sam Hoover and his wife Vanessa with Debbie Mason (center) during a Peachtree Corners Fall Festival

Linda O’Connor

Debbie Mason was a great and enthusiastic leader and supporter of the Gwinnett County Public School system during the years her two sons were students in our schools and for many years after they graduated.

As parents in the school system, Debbie and Mike Mason were co-presidents of the Pinckneyville Middle School council, leaders in the development of the Norcross High School Foundation for Excellence, and among the parents who went with Mrs. Gina Parish and her student actors to see live theatrical performances in New York City.

Whatever the need in the schools, [the mayor and first lady] worked to meet it. They supported scholarships for Norcross High School students through the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association.

They supported the naming of Paul Duke STEM High School and the opportunities provided to Duke students to experience internships with businesses in Norcross and Peachtree Corners.

Debbie Mason served our community in many roles, but never in a more important role than as a supporter of public education for all students and their families in Norcross and Peachtree Corners.

We will miss her greatly.

Mary Kay Murphy, Ph.D., District 3 School Board Member

For 19 years before Peachtree Corners became a city, the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) was the de facto government for land use in our area. Debbie Mason was unquestionably one of the engines in UPCCA that drove our pride of place and the quest for our ultimate cityhood in 2012.

One of UPCCA’s big successes was to improve the look of the ragged highway medians along Peachtree Parkway. Debbie, herself a consummate gardener, administered that detailed landscape job for six years.

She dreamed up the Peachtree Corners Festival, believing deeply that we all needed space and time to celebrate Peachtree Corners and make memories.

Her thousands of volunteer hours were distributed in so many more places. 

Gay Shook

I met Debbie in July 2021 when Rico sent me to take photos of her for a feature article they were writing. She shared her story with me about her recent diagnosis and her hopes and fears for her future. I felt as if I had always known her.

We enjoyed roaming through her luscious garden and stopping to take pictures as we went. She was wearing a bright green sweater that complemented the colors in the garden perfectly. Her smile was beautiful, and her sense of determination came through in every photo.

It was a very special time, and I had no idea that one of those photos would become what Mike Mason calls her “signature photo.” 

Tracey R. Rice

There was no cause too great and no task too small for Debbie Mason. She was always ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work without a thought as to whom would get credit. She was in the foreground when necessary, but also a humble and diligent worker behind the scenes.

Debbie often said, “You can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit.” What she accomplished through the gift of her time and tireless efforts on behalf of our City will live on in perpetuity.

Lewis and Amy Massey

Debbie had many titles, some official and some unofficial, but after wife, mother, and grandmother, she was proudest of being the first First Lady of the City of Peachtree Corners. 

She and Mike were true partners, and she was instrumental in creating the vibrant community in southwest Gwinnett that became the City of Peachtree Corners in 2012. For the past 10 years, Debbie has supported the development of the City in many ways, both large and small. 

Debbie will be missed deeply by the entire PTC community.

Eric Christ, Council Member, Post 2

For those of us fortunate enough to know Debbie Mason, it is impossible to overestimate her contributions to our community and city. She was involved at some level with so many worthwhile organizations that make this area such a wonderful place to live.

It was my privilege to work with Debbie on the Peachtree Corners Festival committee, the festival she helped to found. She was always thinking of ways to make the festival more fun and meaningful for our attendees, vendors, and sponsors.

If I had to describe Debbie in one word, it would be “selfless.” She knew so many people in our community and she knew how to get things done. She is truly irreplaceable.

Dave Huffman

The City of Peachtree Corners has lost a shining light. Our first lady, Debbie Mason, lost her battle against cancer, and we lost a great lady. Watching Debbie accomplish goal after goal was not surprising because she had such a positive attitude and a strong belief in others. When she spoke, you were compelled to act. 

Many times, I would see Debbie quietly working in the background to do something that would benefit our community. Long before there was a city, and long before there was a title of First Lady, Debbie was working to improve the neighborhoods we love. I remember Saturday mornings, Debbie giving of her time to clean 141. 

Anytime Debbie was asked to be involved, she did so with great enthusiasm. Christmas Parades and The Peachtree Corners Festival are both a result of her strong desire to create a better community.

There is no question about her love for family, friends, and our city. It was evident in all that she did. She will be missed by all, but her imprint on our hearts and our great city will remain forever.

Nancy Minor

Debbie Mason has had a tremendous impact on the City of Peachtree Corners. She was the type of person who was willing to not only get involved in a project but also take a leadership position to help it be more successful.

She sacrificed much of her time and effort to bring growth and progress to our community. She did so much for others and had a burning drive to bring about positive change. She was a hard worker and knew how to make things happen!

Debbie was also a great wife, mother, and grandmother. She was very devoted to her husband Mike, and it was rare to see one without the other. I’m grateful to have known Debbie and for the positive example, she represented to me and many others.

Phil Sadd, Council Member, Post 1

Debbie Mason was a person of courage and leadership, who demonstrated a “can do” attitude and a never-ending love for her family and friends. Once Debbie set her mind to getting something done, she believed failure was not an option, and she would rally the people and resources around her until she got the job done.

Her footprint laid part of the foundation for the City she loved so much. She will be remembered for the love, guidance, and support she showed to her family and friends. The Peachtree Corners Community will continue to grow and develop because of the seeds she planted and shared with us all.

Lisa Proctor, President, Sanford Rose Associates – Lake Lanier Islands

Debbie was an incredible individual whose presence lit up every room and created an amazing environment for everyone. We learned at her funeral service that Debbie had an army of resources at her disposal.

But what is remarkable for me was the gift of love that she showered to her team of volunteers — and the community at large. Debbie was generous and gave to us without hesitation whenever we asked.

She welcomed us to Peachtree Corners and made us feel like family. I am blessed to have known her and I will forever miss her.

Thank you so much, Debbie Mason. We lost an angel.

Helen Odundo-Wanda, CPA, MBA

I had the good fortune to interact with Debbie a number of times for a number of different reasons. Debbie was a shining light in our community and meant so much to so many. Debbie was, and always will be, The First Lady of Peachtree Corners!

Gene Witkin

Peachtree Corners resident since 1994

I wish to send my sincere condolences to Mayor Mike Mason. I regret I never got to meet Debbie! Mike Mason is a great mayor and I assume the First Lady of Peachtree Corners was very supportive of her husband and his activities on behalf of Peachtree Corners residents. May Debbie rest in peace!

Clément Desaulniers

I had the privilege and honor of volunteering with Debbie for more than 20 years — UPCCA Board, PTC Tour of Homes, and the PTC Yes Campaign. We sat around many tables together. It was a joy to work with her. You knew if Debbie said she was going to do something, she did and gave 110%. And she was an A+ hostess who made the best lasagna. RIP, dear Debbie.

Pat Bruschini

Contributing Editor Kathy Dean has been a writer and editor for over 20 years. Some of the publications she has contributed to are Atlanta Senior Life, Atlanta INtown, Transatlantic Journal and The Guide to Coweta and Fayette Counties.

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Twin Authors Chronicle Antics of ‘Four-Legged Brother’



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apollo’s birthday inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

Publishing success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nurturing creativity

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

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

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

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

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

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Local State Reps Give Roundup of Legislative Session



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Bill 63

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House Bill 1105

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

Some say it’s an immigration bill.

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

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

Romman doesn’t see it that way.

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

She talked about her work keeping unaccompanied immigrant minors safe.

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

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

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

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

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

Business-related legislation

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

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

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

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

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

This was one area where both representatives had similar views.

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

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

Looking ahead

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

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

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

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

Hilton mentioned school safety. 

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

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

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City of Peachtree Corners Unveils Space-Inspired Tot Lot Playground



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

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

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

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

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