Anti-panhandling meters effectivenes unknown

By Abbey Joris

     The parking meters read: “A donation here will provide help for the homeless. Please do not give cash to pan handlers.” There are four—one in front of Heery’s Clothes Closet, one in front of Starbucks Coffee, one in front of Yoguri and one in front of Five Guys Burgers and Fries—and the question is, do they work?
     In 2003 the Athens Downtown Development Authority installed the meters to curb panhandling in the area. Many other cities around the country use this same technique. These cities include Nashville, Denver, Atlanta and Las Vegas, along with several others.
Denver is a city that has seen widespread success with this program as part of its Denver’s Road Home initiative to end homelessness in 10 years. The city has put 80 meters in place and raises $100,000 a year through both meter donation and meter sponsorship, according to
     Kathryn Lookofsky, director of the Athens Downtown Development Authority, said that the meters are in place “to discourage people from giving cash or change to panhandlers on the street.”
     The money collected from the meters goes to the Northeast Georgia Homeless Coalition. “The Homeless Coalition is a group of area service providers of people who serve the homeless population in the Northeast Georgia area,” said Michael McGough, executive director of the Stable Foundation and secretary for the Northeast Georgia Homeless Coalition.
     The money obtained from the parking meters buys bus passes for the homeless.
     “Bus passes are a very common need because most folks who are experiencing homelessness also have a severe need for transportation,” said McGough.
     McGough said that bus passes instead of cash prevent the abuse of funds.
     “They give those to the folks who are homeless and need transportation downtown so that we’ll know what that money is used for,” said McGough.
     The Homeless Coalition received its last payment from the meters in December, McGough said. It was $300.
     Despite Denver’s success, many of the other meter donation systems across the country have seen mixed opinions that range from successes to unknowns, and Athens is the same.
     After almost eight years, the meters are still there and so is the panhandling.
     “I think they help some but as long as people give them money, panhandlers will be there,” said Lookofsky.
Lookofsky said though she thinks that they help there is no way to measure it quantitatively.
     “Folks don’t really think that there’s been much of a reduction in panhandling,” said McGough. “If local businesses were looking for it to reduce panhandling, that hasn’t really happened.”
     Sergeant Derek Scott with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department said that while he thinks the panhandling has declined, he doesn’t give all of the credit to the meters.
     “I think we’re getting more support as far as educating the public as far as the aggressive panhandling,” said Scott. “Just having officer presence down there has deterred it as well. I don’t think I could directly account the meters in declining the panhandling.”
     A long-time employee of Heery’s Clothes Closet, who wished to remain anonymous, said she has been working there since she was a teenager. She said that she hoped they helped and thinks they do, despite the fact that panhandling still occurs.
Other employees of downtown businesses either don’t believe they have helped or just don’t know.
     “I think that so few people use them and people just still give money, that I don’t know that they’ve done much at all,” said Dwight Tomlinson, an employee at Ben and Jerry’s who said he has been working downtown for seven years. “I’ve never seen people use them.”
     As an employee at Starbucks for the past five years, Jason Corrigan said he has not paid attention to whether or not the meters have done anything. He also said that he is unsure of where the money goes but has seen buses transport the homeless from place to place.
Michael Leon Davenport, a local artist who’s been in downtown since he was 15, draws pictures of UGA and the arch and displays a sign that explains he accepts donations for art supplies.
     Downtown Athens is home to several of these local artists and musicians, who play and draw for money, but Davenport isn’t a panhandler and said he doesn’t give panhandlers money; he tries to motivate them.
     “They know for a fact that I do this for a hobby,” said Davenport. “I let them know I’m not stupid and I won’t support their habit.”
Davenport also said that he tries to work with the business owners to keep the panhandlers at bay.
     Opinions throughout the downtown area differ regarding the effectiveness of the meters, and overall, it is clear that determining the actual impact is more of a guessing game than a numbers game. Some guesses are optimistic and others are not. One thing that isn’t a guess is that no one knows for sure.

Heritage tourism a benefit for the Classic City

Athens’ historical charm offers citizens more than attractive scenery. In fact, the town’s rich history plays a vital role in the economy by attracting a rewarding type of tourist—the heritage traveler.

Studies show that cultural heritage travelers stay longer and spend more money than other kinds of tourists such as business or leisure travelers, according to the National Trust of Historic Preservation.  Athens recognizes the value of these travelers and encourages their stay by using marketing tactics that showcase the city’s heritage and by maintaining the historical integrity of the Athens with legislative protection.

The tourism industry as a whole generates a significant amount of money for the city. Tourism expenditures for 2009 contributed $210.25 million to Athens-Clarke County’s economy, generated 2,460 jobs and supported a $44.93 million payroll, according to the Georgia Economic Impact of Travel Report for 2009.

Tourism also supplements the city’s economy through taxes. Seven percent of tourists’ money goes straight to the city’s financial department by means of the Hotel/Motel Tax. Every month more than 20 hotels and motels in Athens-Clarke County collect and remit a seven percent occupancy tax to the finance department, according to the Athens-Clarke County Government. That money is then dispersed to various parts of the city.

“Of the seven percent hotel-motel, the ACC government receives 14.29 percent of collections, the Conventions and Visitors Bureau receives 31.42 percent, and The Classic Center receives 54.29 percent,” Communications manager of the Athens Conventions and Visitors Bureau Hanna Smith said. “For the most recent Fiscal Year (FY 10, July 1, 2009 – June 10, 2010), the CVB’s portion of hotel-motel tax was $573,378.”

Although the exact number is not available, a large portion of those visitors are heritage tourists.  In the fiscal year of 2009 to 2010, the Athens Welcome Center greeted 10,393 drop in visitors; out of that number 2,797 of those visitors frequented Athens for heritage travel reasons, according to the Welcome Centers 2010 Annual Report.  On a national level, heritage tourism ranks high in popularity for travel types.  Of America’s leisure travelers, 78 percent took part in cultural and/or heritage activities, according to a 2009 study on Cultural and Heritage Travel by Mandela research.

In addition to being a popular type of travel, heritage tourism is also extremely profitable.

“Nationally, heritage and cultural tourism is a $192 billion business,” said Nerissa Serrano, Research Director of the Tourism Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.  “Cultural and historic visitors spend an average of $994 a trip. That’s a third more than the average leisure vacationer.”

Athens is attracting a growing number of these travelers.

“I have seen a strong increase in the heritage traveler,” said Athens Welcome Center Director Evelyn Reece.

Even during the economic downturn of the past few years, heritage tourism remained strong. “When the economy declined our overall number of visitors walking through the door declined, but we were still seeing the same number of people interested in history,” Reece said. “So the percentage of the heritage tourist was increasing.”

While the Welcome Center greets tourists of all kind, the Athens Conventions and Visitors Bureau invites them here with marketing efforts.  In response to studies showing the lucrative benefits of a heritage traveler, the Athens Conventions and Visitors Bureau places a significant emphasis on these visitors in particular. “We do consider our heritage market one of our primary targets,” Smith said. The Visitors Bureau markets to the heritage traveler by advertising Athens’ historic properties and the many Classic City tours on their website. It also collaborates with other communities in the region, Smith said.

Athens is one of the seven historical cities located on the Antebellum Trail, Georgia’s first official tourism trail and a veritable heritage enthusiast magnet. Travelers are gearing up for the third annual Antebellum Trail Pilgrimage to take place April 27 through May 1. During the Pilgrimage weekend, communities along the 100-mile trail will host special events as well as entrance into private historic homes not generally open to the public, according to a press release from the Visitors Bureau.

Although the support of a historically rich region doesn’t hurt, Athens appeals to heritage travelers as a single destination as well. In 2009, Athens was named one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. To receive this accolade, Athens met the program’s requirements of having a dynamic downtown, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a strong commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization.  The same factors that earned the city this title are what draw in the heritage traveler.

The Athens Welcome Center offers a variety of tours that showcase these qualities. One of the tours is the Museum Mile Tour, a two-hour tour of Athens’ four unique house museums— the 1820 Church-Waddel-Brumby House, the 1840s Taylor-Grady House, and the 1850s Ware-Lyndon and T.R.R. Cobb Houses. The Welcome Center also offers an Athens Heritage Tour, which is a 90 minute guided tour that highlights the oldest houses, the world’s only double barrel canon and the historic downtown district.

During the month of February the Welcome Center sells discounted tickets to the African American Heritage tour. The last tour of this series will occur Saturday. The enthusiastic tour guide, native Athenian Pam Ramey, leads an intimate group through the city highlighting locations significant to the black community of Athens. Intertwining her own experiences with rich history on the city, Ramey tells the story behind buildings that many locals pass by every day, such as the Morton Theatre and the Holmes-Hunter Building on the University’s North Campus.

Local heritage enthusiasts maintain the city’s endearing qualities that make Athens so historically rich. The Athens-Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission works to “protect historic character,” by locally designating historic properties, which require a Certificate of Appropriateness for exterior changes.  Athens-Clarke County has a total of 10 local districts and 41 individual local landmarks, according to the commission’s website. “Our role isn’t to stop progress, but we make sure changes are made in a measured orderly manner,” Athens-Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission Chair Sharon Bradley said. Although the commission does not preserve Athens for the sole purpose of heritage tourism, they recognize the importance of maintaining the quality of neighborhoods or sites that people want to visit, she said.

Bradley, a heritage traveler herself, shares what makes this type of tourism so appealing.

“If you go somewhere historic there is a soul there; it has character and weight,” Bradley said. “I like an interesting story or interesting architecture.”  While some travelers come to Athens to enjoy the historic architecture of buildings, there are many other reasons a person might be interested in heritage tourism.

The Welcome Center tries to accommodate every type of heritage traveler, so as to help visitors get the most out of their stay. The two most common types of heritage traveler that Reece sees in the Welcome Center are families that are trying to tie in an educational aspect to a vacation, and retired couples who are taking the time to do and see things they did not have time for before. “We keep tally sheets; when the visitor comes in we have a general conversation and try to find out what brought them to Athens,” Reece said. “Often they are interested in some form of history of Athens, whether it is Antebellum, African American or sometimes it is music history.”

Heritage tourism remained fairly steady during the economic downturn, and has promise to continue contributing to Athens’ economy.  Whether citizens recognize the financial benefits of the Classic City’s heritage, many locals appreciate the rich culture and charm of the city and want to protect it.

“We have a stewardship for the historic elements and affection for them,” Bradely said.  “Athens has an attitude that those things are important.”


Undercover officers cause widespread panic for some before concert

They’re taking a crack at weeding out the dopes.

Athens-Clarke County Police teamed up with the University of Georgia Police Department earlier this month to crack down on illegal drug use before the first of a two-concert engagement for Widespread Panic at the Classic Center. The undercover investigation landed about a dozen people behind bars.

“We don’t do that for every concert,” said University of Georgia Police Chief Jimmy Williamson, adding that the practice isn’t even done once a year. “I like Widespread Panic music, but the crowd that follows them, we do see a good use of drugs.”

Williamson said each department dispatched about 15 officers Feb. 10, each charged with the task of curbing illegal drug use by attempting to purchase the substance outside the Classic Center. The departments dispatched plainclothes officers to purchase marijuana and Ecstasy from suspected dealers.

He said the goal wasn’t to nab everyone who’d been using drugs per se, but to use discretion and “find people out there with a criminal enterprise.”

“The main emphasis that night was to catch people who were distributing and selling drugs,” he said, adding that not everyone who had used drugs before the concert was arrested.

But when it comes to curtailing cannabis in the Classic City, how do the police manage to walk the fine line between keeping Athens’ citizens safe while not stereotyping the fans of specific musicians?

“I’ve got a problem with it but I understand why they would,” said Michael Barone, a UGA student and Widespread Panic fan who has seen the band in concert about 10 times, including one at the Classic Center several years ago. “However, Widespread Panic fans, they’re not hurting anybody.”

Williamson said that the situation is different for campus events, which never draw as many people or as much drug activity.

At the Classic Center, the number of hired security personnel fluctuates depending on the age of the fans, expected alcohol consumption and reputation, said Philip Verrastro, assistant executive director of the Classic Center.

In this “case-by-case” basis, patrons suspected of being under the influence of anything that causes them to be disruptive or incapacitated are given three options: have a sober friend drive them home, accept a taxi ride paid for by the venue or deal with the police.

The third option, he said, “rarely happens.”

He said the venue has no official stance on the undercover investigations and pays little attention to what law enforcement is doing outside the Classic Center walls.

“We simply are doing concerts and shows,” he said. “We’re making sure people who are coming to our shows are having a good time.”

This month wasn’t the first time undercover officers descended to the Classic Center in preparation for a Widespread Panic concert. In 2007, twenty people were arrested during a similar operation. In 1998, there were more than 200 drug arrests when the band played a concert in the streets of Athens to film a music video.

As for the stereotyping, Williamson said “it all depends.”

“There are some groups that have a much younger following,” he said, citing increased police presence when a band has a following more closely associated with drug use. “[It’s] basically on a historic perspective.”

Williamson said the actions stemmed from the community wanting law enforcement to take increased action against drug use.

However, he added that actions by law enforcement to arrest people dealing drugs may not be decreasing drug use in Athens.

“I’m not necessarily of the opinion that arrests are necessarily a cause and effect,” he said. “I’m not convinced there is always a reduction. The people who are gonna do wrong are gonna violate the law.”

Undercover operations can decrease use if there is a large epidemic, but the main focus of the police is to uphold the law and spread accountability, he said.

“I do not want it to be a police state,” he said. “There has to be some accountability, and we typically try to deal with just the most extreme folks.”

Mike Hunsinger, drug task force manager for ACCPD, declined to comment for the story.

Barone said he understands why law enforcement would target Widespread Panic fans: the prevalence of drugs at the band’s shows.

“But at the same time it’s a dick move,” he said. “Everyone’s trying to have a good time.”

Health Scores Downtown: What does an 88 really mean?


For restaurants, low health scores are scary –– especially if they’re in the 70s.

It doesn’t require a cockroach in a meal for a restaurant to fall short of the expectations of public health departments, according to public health information.

And just because it has a low score does not mean it’s going to make people ill either.

There are  restaurants in the downtown area whose most recent published health inspection scores from the Public Health Department of Northeast Georgia fell below a grade of 90.

New Orleans ‘N Athens, the eatery that replaced Harry Bissett’s New Orleans Style Cafe and Oyster Bar on Broad Street within the last year, was one of those restaurants.

In Jan. 2010, Harry Bissett’s closed due to unpaid taxes. As the economy fell, the owners of the store said they got behind on remitting sales taxes to the state Department of Revenue which caused the loss of their liquor license, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

Following in the cajun and creole style of Harry Bissett’s, New Orleans ‘N Athens, also known as “NONA,” opened in mid-September 2010 with a score of 100. However, less than a month later, a new score of 88 was posted on the front wall for customers to see.

Not only had the score dropped below an A, but the public health website for Clarke County shows NONA constituted a “high risk” due to violations considered critical by the health department at the time of their inspection.

The establishment was cited for two different kinds of violations: one non-critical violation and two critical violations. These critical violations cause the restaurant to be considered a “high-risk.”

Restaurants with non-critical violations can still have a score in the 90s, such as the Farm 255 or Porterhouse Grill restaurants in the area. Non-critical violations do not pose an immediate public health threat and can be corrected at the time of inspection, according to public health information.

However,  improper cold holding temperatures and improper cooling time are critical violations because they are more likely to contribute to food contamination or illness.

As of Feb. 22, 2011, NONA’s score still remains at 88.

NONA’s executive chef, Justin Gregg, said he understands the pressures associated with a low score from a customer perspective as well as professionally.

“Normally if I see anything below an A –– below 90 –– I usually veer away from it,” Gregg said. “Granted you could go into somewhere not as nice as us with a 92 and get deathly ill.”

Gregg said their score of 88 does not reflect the restaurants standards at the time of inspection, or today.

“I told my entire staff when we started, if a violation came in the kitchen, it would be somebody’s job,” he said. “You want to create that healthy environment and way of thinking.”

Gregg said their violations did not involve cross-contamination or inadequate equipment, which can cause sickness and heavy expenses for the restaurant.

“We have a server here that’s deathly allergic to pork and a regular [customer] that’s allergic to corn,” he said. “The owner’s daughter has a soy and peanut allergy. Cross contamination is a thing that should never, ever happen, especially at a restaurant at our level.”

Gregg said that the critical violations were actually one violation hitting on two different notes.

“Our prep cook was not cooling the food down properly, just putting it straight in there, which raised the temperature of the cooler and lost us three points,” he said. “Not cooling the food down properly cost us the other nine points.”

Gregg said  the prep cook problem was a result of improper training, which was immediately fixed.

“It’s very disappointing to have that score, especially after opening,”  Gregg said. “But it was an easy fix for us, because it was personnel.”

After remedying the violations quickly, Gregg is very confident their next inspection will be much better.

“[Having to wait] is like a kick to the pants,” Gregg said. “I’ve got people coming in thinking I’m not taking care of them, but I am.”

Gregg and his staff are eager to prove an 88 is not the performance they are giving their customers.

“Every time I get a call of a visitor, I say to myself, ‘Please be the health inspector.’ I’m probably the only kitchen manager in town who thinks like that,” Gregg said.

He said people should be aware of the scores but, as a consumer, take them with a grain of salt.

“It’s a good guideline, because I look at them, but I’m privy to behind the scenes,” Gregg said. “And sometimes that’s a scary thing.”

To avoid the scary things, Gregg suggested looking at corporate chains more closely because most of their food is pre-packaged, and he also recommends looking at the various distinctions of health violations.

Independent restaurants, like NONA, handle their food more often, making them more susceptible to violation, according to Gregg. Lower scores in the corporate world are usually more significant than in his business, he said.

For the wary customer, visit the Northeast Health District’s website at for the most recent health scores of Clarke County restaurants.

Bike officers in Athens and around the land.

Kelby Lamar

February 24, 2011

Trend Story Final

Many police officers that patrol the streets of downtown Athens and elsewhere must endure serious training to do their jobs effectively.

Officers must be physically fit, pass a written examination, and request assignment to the bike patrol unit in order to be part of that unit.

Most bike officers have several similarities to more traditional officers that patrol in squad cars.  These officers are trained to use firearms effectively, administer pepper spray, as well as place handcuffs on a detained suspect.

Many bike officers across the nation are a part of an organization known as the International Police Mountain Bike Association or IPMBA.  Membership in the IPMBA requires several tasks to be completed.

According to the organization’s website, in order to become a member of the IPMBA officers must “successfully complete the practical test, earn a score of 76% or better on the written test, become members of IPMBA, and submit applications for certification accompanied by the appropriate fee.”

Currently, there are 55 police departments in the state of Georgia. that have the technology and the certification to use bike patrol officers.

However, another city, Memphis, Tenn. also uses bike officers in its Downtown district.  It’s been six months since Memphis Police started regularly patrolling the Downtown area on bikes.  According to Col. Robert Shemwell of the Memphis Police Dept. it has made a big difference in how safe people feel.  “These officers have gone in, and, within a matter of months, have cleared this up,” said Col. Shemwell.  “What they do is they address any issues that occur inside that Downtown Core area,” Col. Shemwell said.  “Mainly, aggressive panhandling, the Downtown area has the perception of being unsafe because of those types of individuals.”

Athens is in a very similar situation in its own downtown district.  Officers who are on bike patrol in downtown Athens are a part of the downtown substation uniform division.  Major Carter Greene, who has over 26 years of experience with the Athens Police Department, heads this division.

According to Greene, the types of crimes that officers witness downtown vary greatly based on the time of year as well as the time of day.  “The typical crimes that we see downtown are shoplifting, graffiti, entering autos, and ordinance violations,” he said.  “Obviously, an officer on a bicycle can witness someone trying to break into a car easier than an officer driving around can.  People in Athens are pretty aware of the 3 types of cultures that exist downtown.  You’ve got your day-time business community, your evening people, and the people who come out late at night.  With all of the different types of people coming and going, the opportunities for crime increase.”

However, bike officers cannot be everywhere at once.  When large crowds gather on the streets, bike officers utilize their radios to call for back-up from officers who are patrolling the surrounding area in their squad cars.  The importance of calling for back-up cannot be overestimated when the sidewalks are littered with people coming out of night clubs and bars.

A hand creeping inside of a purse or a jeans back pocket is the last thing that people want to be worried about when they are out and about downtown.

Though both Athens and Memphis have had problems with panhandlers and the homeless in the downtown district, there have been no recent arrests in Athens of these individuals.

However, over the past two weeks there have been several arrests made on

W. Broad Street and S. Milledge Avenue.

According to data obtained from, there have been 8 instances of breaking and entering, 5 drug related charges, 6 D.U.I.’s, 1 instance of theft by taking, and 1 instance of entering auto.  However, the data does not specify whether the arrests were made by bike officers or otherwise.

Many of the bike officers in downtown Athens focus on certain areas in the district that have the most activity.  Broad Street and Washington Street are two key areas that bike officers like to pay attention to because of the large number of people who congregate in these areas.

Underage students walk in and out of bars as if they’re practicing a scene in a play.  Fake identification cards are such a common occurrence that it’s second nature for officers to question almost every I.D. that they see.  In case of any violations, officers are equipped with handcuffs and ticket pads to issue citations and arrest individuals who are causing a problem. 

Along with the Athens Clarke County bike patrol officers, the University of Georgia also has bike officers that patrol along and in the downtown district as well.  The two departments often partner together on game day weekends as well as weekends with big events to ensure that the downtown district does not become unruly.

Although bike officers are posted at the most pivotal places downtown, they are not a catch all for crime.  Officers cannot be everywhere at once, and they cannot solve every case.  It is still up to the citizens to lock car doors, travel in groups, and always bring a designated driver if you plan to drink alcohol.  Although crime is relatively low in the downtown districts of Athens and Memphis, it is still important to remember that it exists.  Col. Shemwell summed it up best when referring to the Memphis bike patrol officers.  “When crime does happen, our bike cops are on it.”

Simpler recycling program will benefit collection companies, customers

By Briana Gerdeman


By the end of this year, Athens residents will be able to recycle more items with less hassle.

The Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission approved $1.5 million to switch Athens from dual-stream to single-stream recycling. The ACC Solid Waste Division will update the recycling facilities and add new processing equipment by the end of 2011.

“Single-stream, over the last four to five years in the state of Georgia, has made a resurgence,” said Suki Janssen, waste reduction administrator with the Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department. “Just like fashion, recycling has its trends.”

A Solid Waste Task Force of 17 Athens citizens and two commissioners recommended in 2009 that Athens switch to single-stream recycling. Nationwide trends are shifting toward single-stream, especially on the East Coast and West Coast, said Lori Scozzafava, deputy executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America.

After the switch, Athens-Clarke County will also accept additional plastics for recycling – #4, #5, some #6, and #7 plastics. These include yogurt containers, margarine tubs and 6 pack rings. Athens already recycles #1 and #2 plastics, which make up 90 percent of plastics, Janssen said.

The difference between single-stream and dual-stream recycling lies in the number of containers used for collection. Dual-stream recycling requires that citizens separate different types of recyclables into two bins before collection, but in single-stream recycling, haulers collect all items together and separate them at the recycling center.

Single-stream recycling is cheaper and more efficient for companies who haul recyclables because they don’t have to sort the items in the truck like they do with dual-stream recycling. They can save on fuel, since they can pick up all recyclables at the same time, and in the case of Athens, they save a trip to Gwinnett County and back – the nearest single-stream recycler.

For customers, single-stream recycling offers simplicity.

“The biggest benefit for the customer, instead of having two bins, you have one roll cart that you can throw everything in,” said Jim Corley, director of the ACC Solid Waste Department. “The downside is more processing at the recycling facility.”

That’s because different types of recycling can contaminate each other, Janssen said. Broken glass dust contaminates paper pulp and damages recycling equipment, and food remnants that cling to cans or plastics can contaminate paper.

Helping the environment is usually not the reason for changing to single-stream, but because customers often recycle more and haulers often drive fewer miles or use more efficient trucks, it usually has some environmental benefits.

Because it makes recycling simpler, the switch to single-stream is expected to increase the amount of items recycled.

“What we’re finding is that because it becomes easier for people to participate, they collect up to 30 percent more materials,” Scozzafava said.

In Athens-Clarke County, where 14,752.19 tons of materials were recycled in fiscal year 2010, experts have slightly lower expectations. Janssen said the Solid Waste Department hopes to see a 20 percent increase in tonnage, and Corley predicted a 10 to 15 percent increase.

Recycling more materials sounds good, but sometimes it’s not all good. In a “Single Stream Recycling Best Practices Implementation Guide,” Susan Kinsella, executive director of Conservatree, a source of information on paper choices, and Richard Gertman, president of Environmental Planing Consultants, a meteorological and air pollution consulting company, wrote that contamination poses a serious challenge for single-stream recycling. Materials are poorly sorted and increasingly contaminated, which increases manufacturing costs and reduces the amount and types of products that can be made with the recycled material.

The switch to single-stream will require buying new roll carts for the ACC Solid Waste Department’s 10,000 customers, Corley said. The carts cost $40 each, as opposed to the 18-gallon bins now in use, which cost $6.

The department is applying for a Coke grant, which aims to promote recycling of bottles and cans, to pay for the wheeled carts, which encourage people to recycle more because they have more space and are easier to carry out to the curb.

They will find out in a few months whether they will receive the grant. If not, they have $150,000 set aside to buy the carts, but the process of switching to roll carts would be more gradual, Corley said. The department is also considering selling advertising on the sides of carts to pay for them.

The switch to single-stream may also result in changes in jobs. Some haulers may choose to use automated trucks, Janssen said, which would mean fewer jobs in recycling collection. But on the processing side, more sorting and new equipment may require more employees, Corley said.


Students Who Booze Can Lose

By Zack Taylor

For some students, drinking is a fun and relaxing activity. For others it is a dangerous risky endeavor.

Every year the University of Georgia Police Force arrests hundreds of underage drinkers.

While it may be the common thought among students that police are out to catch them for drinking underage, University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson has a different insight.

“Typically anytime a student any contact with the police is when they over consume,” Williamson said.

“It’s then that students will have poor decision making or become a victim and police will get involved.”

Williamson said that when he asked is asked who complains most about student behavior the answer shocks people.

“What happens is [students] over consume, they do something silly and other students call in and complain.” Williamson said. “If we find they’re drinking and under 21 there are going to be arrests.”

There is a misconception about underage drinking that Williamson addresses.

“The law doesn’t say you have to be drunk, the law is about possession.” Williamson said. “If you have one drink in the hand and the other in your body, that’s possession under Georgia law.”

Williamson said that the simple act of an underage individual just holding a friend’s beverage can constitute possession, however police are at liberty to use discretion.

“If you explain to the officer that you are just holding it and the officer doesn’t smell any beer on you, then he’ll probably cut you some slack,” Williamson said.

A student arrested for underage possession is not only directly taken to the Athens-Clarke County police department where they are charged, but also is punished by the University for a Code of Conduct violation.

According to the University code of conduct, underage possession of alcohol is in violation of the Code of Conduct.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act gave University the authority to contact the parents of a student who has been charged with alcohol possession.

However, this measure is completely optional and is at the complete discretion of The Office of Judicial Programs.

According to the University code of conduct there are two levels of violations relating to alcohol.

A Level I offense concerns possession and or use of alcohol. A Level II violation concerns use paired with operating a vehicle, committing a violent act, disorderly conduct or damage of property.

There are punishments for both Level I and II violations. For Level I the punishment includes the mandatory attendance of an alcohol education program and 6-12 months of probation.

For Level II offenses there are additional sanctions including suspension and other measures to be determined by the University based on the individual case.

Students are arrested for underage possession every year, but it is not a priority of the University Police department, which only arrests approximately 250 students a year for underage drinking.

The amount of students they notice who are underage and intoxicated is far higher, however.

“If we wanted to arrest every underage drinker it would be so easy,” Williamson said. “It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Even with the risks, students still drink and are arrested for underage possession.

“My friends and I used to go skate at the Hull Street parking deck and drink a beer,” said Zach Parker, who was arrested for under possession last year. “It’s sound dumb and it really was.”

Parker had found the area to be s safe zone and really considered it no less risky then drinking at his own residents.

The protocol for Parker and his friends was to drink a beer while riding a skateboard to the bottom of the parking deck and then ride the elevator back up to the top.

“In our minds we had done so many things before in that parking deck,” Parker said. “What could go wrong?”

On this particular day one of Parker’s friends felt something was wrong.

“He suggested we get rid of our beers before we went down and my other friend and I didn’t listen to him,” Parker said. “We should have listened to his infinite wisdom.”

On what would be there last ride down, a University police officer approached the three students and questioned them about their activities at the parking deck.

“You can’t really skate in the parking deck so that’s why she approached us,” Parker said.

The officer noticed Parker and one of his friends were holding beer cans and after an ID check they were immediately arrested for minor possession.

“My other friend was let go, even though he had been drinking,” Parker said. “He just didn’t have any beer on him at the time.”

University police are not the only law enforcement that catches underage drinkers.

“The first semester of my freshman year I got a minor possession charge downtown,” said Bryan Thompson, a student at the University.

Thompson said he was caught when his friend tried to sneak him a fake ID downtown when an officer noticed the handoff.

“He made me show him the fake and both me and my friend were arrested,” Thompson said.

Even though he was arrested by an Athens-Clarke County officer outside of University property, Thompson was still liable for a Code of Conduct violation because he was a student.

Consumption of alcohol is a part of not only University life, but life in general. While it is tempting for young students to engage in underage consumption there are risks involved.

If students decide to run the risk of drinking underage there are things that can be done to keep them safe.

Although Williamson said he could never condone drinking underage, he said the problem does not lie with drinking, but excess.

“If everyone drank in a responsible manner then I would never know how old you are because I would have no reason to ask,” Williamson said.

Consulting coordinator helps local businesses flourish

By Mitch Blomert

Even in a recovering economy, small businesses in downtown Athens are managing to keep their heads above water, and Anne-Marie Johnson’s consultants may be part of the reason.

Johnson is the Program Coordinator of the Small Business Development Center in Athens, and is responsible for the arrangement of consulting among Athens’ locally-run businesses that dominate the downtown economy.

“We are about building stronger, more educated business owners,” Johnson said. “The more powerful they are, with knowing how to better their business policies and having the best business practices, then that trickles into the community.”

Under Johnson, the SBDC helps business owners by offering continuing education for first-time entrepreneurs—including classes on marketing and QuickBooks accounting software—as well as confidential consulting by experience business informants.

“All the consultants here have an MBA, and experience working different fields—sales, marketing, human resources, accounting, and things like that,” Johnson said.

Since its founding in 1977, the SBDC has grown exponentially, now operating 18 offices across Georgia.

The Athens’ location is especially important because it is the original branch of the organization, having been founded W.C. Flewellen, former dean of what is now the Terry College of Business.

Its proximity to the University of Georgia also makes it an often-used starting point for recent graduates and new business owners in general.

“If you go on our website you can see that we’re located at seven universities, or right on university campuses,” Johnson said. “So I think the dynamic culture that the University environment creates does lend itself to making SBDC vital.”

Because all of the SBDC’s clients remain confidential, Johnson cannot exactly describe the range of her clients’ backgrounds.

But Johnson says that the organization does consult recent graduates and even current University of Georgia students looking to establish their business.

“We don’t share who our clients are and talk about that,” Johnson said. “But we do have graduates. Several other UGA grads have come here while they’re in school, and even when they graduate.”

Johnson was once one of them, as a UGA graduate herself.

Prior to joining the SBDC, she and her husband operated their own local business for 10 years and received consulting from the organization.

When they opted to downsize their business, Johnson opted to stay within the SBDC’s program.

“There was an opening here, and the mission of the Small Business Development Center is something I feel strongly about,” Johnson said. “So I took an opportunity to work and we ended up selling our business, actually.”

Johnson is coordinating the SBDC during a time when downtown Athens and is seeing change from a small business standpoint.

Aside from the usual openings of new bars and leisure venues that dominate the downtown area and cater to the enormous University clientele, other entrepreneurs are shaping their businesses online and benefit greatly from consulting.

Brandon Boyer, a senior Management Information Systems Technology major in the Terry College of Business and a freelance graphic designer, has used consulting to kick-start two of his business ventures, both of them online.

Boyer founded BBThemeDesigns in February of 2009, where he designs custom-themed backgrounds and icons for the BlackBerry Storm smart phone users.

By managing his business through the help of consulting, he has made over $15,000 in profit from the company.

“It was my first business, so I talked to a lot of people before I made any major decisions with how I ran it,” Boyer said. “I think back and realize that it was really crucial that I did that. Now I’m fortunate to say that I’m confident in how I manage things.”

Boyer also connects with the downtown Athens economy as a founding designer of, which generates a list of daily drink specials among downtown bars.

The website was founded in January and is still in its early stages but is already profitable through on-site advertising—a result of strong consulting.

“When you’re dealing in relations with so many different clients, you have to know what direction you’re headed,” Boyer said. “It’s really big that we have insight from experts who can point out where we can improve.”

Based off his positive experiences with business consultants, Boyer plans to work as consultant himself with Ernst & Young in Atlanta when he graduates this summer.

The decision wouldn’t be a surprise to Johnson, who believes the SBDC’s close ties with the University has helped imaginative students and Athens citizens alike become successful with help from strong business consulting.

“Not only is it important just to the environment in general but it’s really important here, this being it’s the birthplace in it,” Johnson said.

Athens Chamber of Commerce Treasurer’s final term comes to a close BY SARA CALDWELL

Sara Caldwell


JOUR 5300

February 24, 2011

Profile a Newsmaker: Phil Bettendorf


He’s leaving, but he won’t be gone.

After six years of serving on the board of the Athens Chamber of Commerce, in Athens, Georgia, Phil Bettendorf is stepping down at the end of the current term.

Bettendorf–– acting treasurer for the Chamber –– is rotating out of his position and Athens First Bank and Trust work colleague Dean Mannheimer –current treasurer elect for the Chamber– will step into Bettendorf’s shoes.

And they’re big shoes to fill.

After 17 years at the AFBT of downtown Athens off Hancock and Hull streets, and years of involvement with the Chamber of Commerce, Bettendorf’s familiarity with the community proves daunting to an individual fresh to the area, but Bettendorf said he is not anxious about leaving.

“I have somebody that I’ve developed a good rapport with that I’m bringing in behind me,” he said. “I step down, he steps up.”

Because of Bettendorf’s banking background, and position as senior Vice President at AFBT, he said he is more civic minded.

“The Chamber of Commerce fits with my passion well because I like to be involved with the community and make it a better place,” he said.

In his attempts at building a better community for the Athens area, Bettendorf is involved with L.E.A.D. Athens, Athens Rotary Club, Recording for the Blind & Dyslectic, S.E. Regional & Ga. Unit, councils for local elementary schools and the East Georgia Chapter for the American Red Cross.

“There are certain things I get involved with because it reaches me personally, or it reaches somebody I know personally,” Bettendorf said. “The Red Cross was one of the first things I was ever involved with, and that was because of my dad.”

Tammy Gilland, board chair of the American Red Cross, East Georgia Chapter, said Bettendorf really believes in the mission of the Red Cross organization.

Although Bettendorf no longer serves on the board for the East Georgia Chapter, his involvement with the local area Red Cross is still strong, Gilland said.

“Phil is active in preparing and training people for the organization, and he is very giving of his time,” she said.

But Gilland knows Bettendorf from other circles.

In 2002, Gilland met Bettendorf on a day trip for “L.E.A.D. Athens,” –– 9-month leadership education advocacy and development program, where local leaders learn about the Athens community through one day sessions once a month –– and she said she knew he was a leader.

“Phil leads by example. He’s not someone who tells you what to do, he practices what he preaches,” Gilland said. “He is a living example of servant leadership, and he is someone you can count on –– he has the historical perspective [of the community].”

Gilland and Bettendorf also serve on the Athens Chamber of Commerce board together –– for now at least –– and Gilland said Bettendorf is a businessman.

Banks like to place their top people on various boards, she said, and they want them to be seen by the community as a priority, or to act as part of a family for that group, Gilland said.

Yet, Bettendorf is more than just a name or a sponsor.

“Phil is one of the few businessmen that’s actually involved,” Gilland said. “He comes to things. He’s very hands-on. That’s what makes him stand out.”

Bettendorf might not be on the Chamber of Commerce board for much longer, but his passion for the organization will not be transitioning anywhere.

“The Chamber of Commerce is a conduit,” Bettendorf said. “It’s a way for people to get involved. It’s hard for a small business to do that, and the Chamber is committed to building a vibrant business community in the area.”

Serving on multiple boards throughout his 17 years in the Athens area, Bettendorf takes responsibility when asked by those involved in various local organizations, but he recognizes when it’s time to move on.

“We all have jobs. We have to prioritize our lives,” Bettendorf said.  “For an organization, I’ll have to make the time. You do your stint, do your time with it –– your job with it –– but  then you also got to know when you need to step aside and let somebody new, hopefully someone you’ve brought along or mentored, take the leadership role.”

Gilland is sure Bettendorf will still be involved after this term with the Chamber comes to a close.

Gilland said he will probably spend time on a subcommittee within the Chamber, and possibly pick up a position with another local organization.

“There are so many non-profits in Athens,” Gilland said. “When people like Phil become available, they’re not free for long. They snatch them up quickly.”

Gilland speculates Bettendorf might run for a form of political office in the coming years, but if not, she knows he will always be involved with the Athens area.

Bettendorf loves Athens, and doesn’t plan on leaving it anytime soon, he said.

“I love the community, the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s big enough, but small enough.”

And while the size of Athens doesn’t take away from the amount of time Bettendorf dedicates to the area, Mannheimer will stand in the wake of a significant figure graciously bowing out to offer more opportunities for the individuals involved.

“Letting someone new step in –– it’ll make it better,” Bettendorf said. “Because they have new ideas.”