Grist for the mill: Gun-running, Sharon Tate’s bed and a city called Prosperity

Greetings, kind readers. Here is our weekly feature on The Yeast called “Grist for the mill,” which is a rundown of the what the local news media is covering. I will look for the most interesting and newsworthy stories across the three-county area and deliver them with commentary. I am aware these newspapers have small staffs with people dedicated to the craft, so my hope is that whatever analysis I provide is offered as constructive feedback and not intended to tear people down.

Your tax dollars at work:

In Rockdale, the Conyers City Council, and Rockdale County Board of Commissioners made history by meeting formally for the first time in memory that did not involve a judge’s order.

The Citizen also reported on Covington’s plans to widen the runways at the municipal airport. In my recollection, Oxford residents who live close to the airport raised Cain years ago when the city attempted to lengthen the runway to accommodate jet planes. It’s a budget item now but keep your eye on this story.

The Oxford City Council voted to activate the town’s Downtown Development Authority, according to the Covington News. The News is hiding details of the story behind their paywall, but this is a big deal in economic development in Oxford, which does not have much of a downtown.

As of late last night, The Champion had not uploaded any new stories since the weekend. However, one story about DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson pushing for a new city in southwest DeKalb caught my eye. The proposed city of Prosperity would include 150,000 residents and somehow help economic development.

I am skeptical since I find it odd for an elected county officeholder working to reduce his authority. Rather than form a new city – outside of the county’s jurisdiction – why not work to improve county services to the area?

The most interesting person of the week:

The Citizen had a great piece on Newton County resident Doug Doster, who drives a truckload of Christmas gifts each year to impoverished communities in Mexico. Doster explained he does it in memory of friends and missionaries who died in a 2000 bus accident on their way back from a mission trip to Mexico.

It’s Black History Month again, and the Trey Clegg Singers of Atlanta will perform free at the Porter Center for Performing Arts. The Yeast beat everyone on this story. Beth Sexton does her usual good work with her story for the Citizen here.

The Rockdale NAACP is planning its annual Black History Month Celebration Saturday.

Public Enemy No. 532:

A Conyers man was sentenced to 2-5 years in prison by federal authorities for gun running. According to the Citizen, Jermine T. Prosper had purchased 50 guns legally in the Atlanta area for the intentions of shipping them to his home country of Guyana, where Prosper planned to sell the weapons on the streets. The Citizen provides us all with a geography refresher by noting that Guyana is a South American country located “on the eastern coast of South America, with Venezuela to the west, Brazil to the south, and Suriname to the east.” No word on whether Mr. Prosper had a moll.

In all my days as a lowly reporter, I enjoyed the canned quotes attributed to U.S. attorneys in these press releases announcing a federal arrest or conviction. Current Georgia Supreme Court Justice and former U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias was the master of hyperbole in his pressers. There is not enough space here to explore his past statements.

U.S. Attorney John Horn did not let me down with these bon mots:

His greed mattered more than the danger these firearms posed to the citizens of Guyana. This successful prosecution reflects federal law enforcement’s dedication to combating illegal firearms smuggling, whether here or abroad.”

The Covington News has hidden the usual crime gems behind their paywall. There are plenty to look at like Newton Sherriff’s Office investigating a gas station burglary, or three arrested on drug charges at a local motel, or a couple arrested after male jumps from a balcony. The most interesting crime-related story from the News is something that happened nearly 50 years ago and did not occur in Newton County: A Social Circle auction house will sell a bed frame rented by Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate that was in the house during the Manson Family murders. The story link is here.

The Champion had a story about the GBI busting up illegal gambling shops at eight gas stations, here.

On Common Ground only had a story about the DeKalb DA dismissing a retrial of former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis. It’s a stretch as a crime story since the Georgia Supreme Court overturned Ellis’ conviction of extorting campaign contributions from county vendors. Nothing to see here, folks. Let’s move on.

Local media pet peeve of the week:

Pay walls are my pet peeve this week. The Covington News has them again, so there’s not much for me to look at besides school honor rolls and gardening tips. I hear the argument that if you want good journalism, you better pay for it. I, admittedly, am cheap and cannot see my way of paying for local news.

I would argue that these small papers can offer more services for subscribers and still leave the Web site open, like access to an archive of stories and photos or combined a subscription with Internet access or companion paper subscription to a major newspaper. The Citizen attempted to do this in partnership with the Washington Post, which I do not know if they still offer or had any success.

I do give comps to the News for having a big blue “Subscribe” button at the top of its home page. If you want to subscribe to the Citizen, you will have to call since I could not find anywhere to do so on their Web site.

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