Sunday, December 28, 2014

Keep Your Gifts Safe This Season

News story from Channel 46:  don't leave your gift boxes by the curb, waiting and soaking until the next garbage day.  Especially if they housed electronics.  Nothing says "come steal from me!" like a cardboard box advertising a giant flat-screen TV or game system.

Someone had a great idea:  take the boxes to the dumpsters outside the Dunwoody Library.

Sanitation crews are busy picking up trash the day after Christmas.
Residents have tons of trash to get rid of, including wrapping paper and gift boxes. The Dunwoody Police Department posted crime prevention tips on its Facebook page telling people not to leave empty boxes of gifts by the curb because that will let burglars know what you have inside.
"We're asking if people have holiday gifts this year, especially expensive electronics like televisions, computers, Xbox, PlayStations, that if they have the empty boxes, do not leave them out by the trash can," officer Tim Fecht said.
They encourage people to be aware of their surroundings.
"Try not to expose your house, and not to be too flashy about items you've been receiving," Fecht said.
Police recommend that people break down boxes. Then, put them in black garbage bags, or take them to their local recycling containers.
Several people stopped by the Dunwoody Library to put boxes in the dumpsters the day after Christmas.
Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Read more:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

SDOC Never Closes. Neither do our clients.

“Power couple” Stan Jester, left, and his wife Nancy meet at their kitchen table.

The Jesters joke they soon will offer DeKalb taxpayers “one-stop shopping.”

“It’s one-stop shopping for people who want to complain [about county taxes or school problems],” Nancy Jester said. “You just call a Jester.”

Read the full article at the Dunwoody Reporter.


Small business owners and other local establishments (politicos?) in Dunwoody always have a part of their mind on work.  Nancy's new site as Commissioner is on the holiday to-do list in my house.  (Yes, it too involves a kitchen table when my office gets claustrophobic.)  Other local Dunwoody-area businesses are on the docket as well and will be launched in early 2015.

And with that, the Duncans start getting ready for the childrens Mass at All Saints.  Merry Christmas, everybody!  I'll probably be at my desk the day after tomorrow!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Early Christmas Present?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Counting Down Work for 2014...

...and all of the holidays leading up through the New Year!

So like all of the other small business owners out there, New Year's Eve is like a magical finish line where, whatever you complete or not, it's a relief.  All of my ecommerce clients are humming along and for once Groupon didn't give me any trouble on those installs.

Today, I'm reaching out to my clients via phone to line up project stopping points and get the 2015 work schedule in order.  Starting with the Annual Holy Redeemer 3rd Grade Nativity Pageant tomorrow morning, this house will be in full-scale Christmas mode.  SDOC is still open ("we never close") but most work will be to address urgent questions only.

I'm thrilled that SDOC's clientele has seen such success in 2014:  from improved sales in the brick-and-mortar stores, to increased online sales and outreach, to a winning political campaign.

I'm looking forward to continuing these working relationships into the new year and forging new ones along the way.

To all of our community, from my family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, a Heri za Kwanzaa, and Merry Solstice and Yule.  Most of all a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2015 for all!

(with Pat Sr, Maggie, Michelle, and Patrick Jr)

(Opportunity knocking for next year:  decorate this display for Christmas/Hanukkah.  Make it coincide with Light Up Dunwoody at the Farm House.)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog: Today is Election Day - Nancy Jester is the clear ...

Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog: Today is Election Day - Nancy Jester is the clear ...: Nancy Jester Several months ago there was a candidate forum where I said there were serious contenders with great backgrounds running ...

Nancy Jester is the clear choice in the Heneghan Duncan household and if you have doubts, please watch the video below in John's post. The polls close at 7 pm.


Happy Birthday Dunwoody

Posted to YouTube by Danny Ross.


Every day I see an argument or a conflict, or someone just acting like a tool in real life or on social media, I still thank God every day that we can work out our problems OURSELVES, without being at the mercy of a committee in another city that doesn't care.

Cyber Monday

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Countdown to Small Business Saturday

The final edits have been made and our e-commerce installs are humming along. If you're a local business you're gearing up to do battle with the larger stores for the holiday season.

 SDOC has been an early supporter of Small Business Saturday and Independent We Stand. I'm not against large industries, per se, because they all started out as mom-and-pop operations. But those current mom-and-pops deserve some attention too. That goes for your cafes and other dining establishments you may need when it's time to take a break from shopping!

 80% of Dunwoody's business licenses are issued to companies with fewer than 10 employees. It's easy to support your neighbors and your quality of life this season so see what treasures you can find right in your own backyard.

Business owners - I received a package of materials from American Express to help promote your participation this weekend.  Visit the SDOC Facebook page below and let me set you up with some cool stuff for your customers!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roll With the Changes

Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting, November 18.

It's OK for there to be change.  In some ways, it's its own constant.

I'm used to it with this group.  Starting from the back room of the Crier, to the old Rail Hand House, to Bill Grant's office, to - [censored pending official announcement].

Every year brought a new website theme.  With new features.  Sometimes an all-new back end.  And a branding initiative that landed in my lap with the directive to make this look good without offending anybody and by the way, it's not being received well by the public, so do the best you can.  Joy.

I'm always excited by the new challenges, parameters, personnel, and even frustrations.  There are some Negative Nellies out there who won't be satisfied until Dunwoody is as unhappy as they are.  I'm all for the positive, forward motion from last night and the quality of life we can all enjoy in the future!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day on November 8

I saw this post from Independent We Stand and immediately thought of Dunwoody's own Picayune Toys. Get a jump on your holiday shopping right here in town!

Celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day on November 8

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Woman For All Seasons

In midterm elections like this, especially in local races, every vote counts.


Every vote can make a difference in an election.  That means yes, it does matter whether or not you go to the polls today.  No one is predicting a landslide in any of the races, so the decisions are not already made.  God knows no one wants a runoff and another month-and-a-half of robocalls and political ads that intrude on the holidays.

There don't have to be runoffs if everyone registered takes ten minutes to cast their ballots.

I'm heading to the poll myself as soon as I get my last child on the school bus.

That's the general PSA part of the post.


There aren't too many people for whom I lend support 100% - not even some friends who I respect in day to day life.  Nancy has earned that support from me and my family for two simple reasons:

1)  She tells the truth.

2)  She's willing to tell the truth even if she has to stand alone and take the slings and arrows while others scurry for cover.

There are too few of these public officials left.  We need every one that we can get.  North DeKalb does not need a representative whose experience was gained via the favor of a now convicted felon.  North DeKalb does not need a representative who can't decide what party he is allied with.  North DeKalb does not need a representative who cannot control his behaviour and spends more time dealing with lawsuits and restraining orders than issues in office.  North DeKalb does not need a representative whose world view is 50 years out of date.

That leaves one option.  If everyone votes for the best candidate, there doesn't have to be a runoff.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What are you doing on Halloween?

Here's the latest info on Briers North Halloween.

Updates:  Parking WILL be available at Crossroads Church of Dunwoody (formerly North Peachtree Baptist) at the intersection of Tilly Mill and Peeler.  Please contribute a donation for the opportunity, they're raising funds for their Academy.

UPDATE:  A sign appeared yesterday on the parking lot indicating they are open for Briers North parking and they are charging $3 per car.  Still a pretty huge bargain!  Pay it forward with a 5-spot.

While on the subject of parking, some residents near Briers North set out barriers or traffic cones.  Please respect them and don't park there if they ask you not to.  With that said, get your space early.  Some of our visitors start scoping out spaces as early as 3 PM.

If you enjoy the festivities, donations will be gratefully accepted by the halloween organizers.  These donations do NOT go to the homeowners:  they are designated specifically for the cost of Dunwoody PD officers and safety equipment (lights, signage, etc) for the entrance.

If you REALLY like what you see, keep in mind this community is around 364 other days of the year.  There will be one home coming on the market soon so keep your eyes peeled and jump at the chance.  Another house is under contract right now and homes don't become available very frequently.

Finally, be prepared to meet some regional neighbors you don't see every day.  These last words I posted a couple of years ago but they've become fresh as I come off the costume parade at Coralwood last week:

With Halloween upon us, please keep in mind, a lot of little people will be visiting your home.
Be accepting. 
The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have poor fine motor skills. 
 The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues. 
 The child who does not say "trick-or-treat" or "thank you" may be non-verbal. 
 The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl may have an allergy. 
 The child who isn't wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue (SPD) or autism.

Be nice. Be patient. It's EVERYONE'S Halloween.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Welcome, Business Radio X Listeners!

Hi everyone and I hope you enjoyed the show this morning.  Don't forget to visit SDOC's main website at

If you weren't able to listen live, you can hear the recap any time here.

I talked a lot about the best practices in creating and using your business website and the Dunwoody Chamber website.

Dunwoody Chamber Members:  your first step in leveraging your Chamber membership to your advantage is to complete your member profile so customers can find you in the business directory.  The directory and the rest of the website are optimized for the best search engine results possible, so the more information you have, the better your search ranking, and the more likely you are to have customers come visit you!

You can create a detailed "about" section (think of this as your "elevator pitch"), link to your social media and website, generate a Google map to your business and post directions, and even add photos or video.

Chamber Member Login  or hit the red "open lock" icon on the front page at

Don't forget, the Dunwoody Chamber website is mobile and makes a great smartphone/tablet app if you're searching for Dunwoody services on the go!

I also got a lot of questions from friends and followers on social media about Search Engine Optimization.

Google, Yahoo, and Bing will not tell you the details of their algorithms.  Those are trade secrets.  But they will tell you how to make the most of their search engine standards so your website will get as much visibility as possible.

First things first:  Google's Official SEO Best Practices Guide (PDF)  The principles here apply to all search engines, great and small, so settle in and build your foundation here.  This guide includes some of the most fundamental basics of SEO - meta tags in the header of your pages, "alt" tags that embed text with your images, and descriptive titles for each page.

Next, remember to get your business listed in local search engine-based directories.  Search engines try to customize search results that are physically close to the visitor.  Your website is more likely to appear if it is categorized as a local or regional resource.

Google Local (requires free creation of a Google+ page, also helpful for search engine rankings)

Yahoo Small Business for local listings.  (Customizing your listing for search engine rankings is free, but a paid directory submission service is available.)

Bing Places for Business (Same idea as Google and Yahoo but owned by Microsoft.  Requires a free Microsoft account)

Finally, MOBILE MATTERS!  Your website has to be comfortable to read on even smaller smartphones.  Websites that are not easily usable on smartphones or tablets will be penalized in their search engine rankings.  Talk with your webmaster about the best way to accomplish this for your website.

If you are using an open source content management system, there are some add-on functions that can help guide you in your optimization

WordPress - Yoast SEO

Joomla - iJoomla SEO

Drupal - MetaTag, Drupal SEO Checklist

Many thanks to everyone at Business Radio X for having me as a guest.  I hope the information I gave helped my fellow Dunwoody and regional business owners out there.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

SDOC is on the air at Business Radio X

Listen in online tomorrow, Monday, October 13 at 10 AM EST.  I'll be a guest on the Dunwoody Chamber Special Edition of High Velocity Radio on Business Radio X.

Listen live here at 10 AM on October 13.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dunwoody High School Celebrates Everyone - Again!

From Channel 11.

 Dunwoody High School celebrated their homecoming with the crowning of the King and Queen.
You may recognize the Queen from her appearance in Channel 11's coverage of the Wildcat'fe story about the business run by the special needs class out of Dunwoody High.

Teenagers in high school have their priorities straight:  there's a place for everyone in their school and they all need each other.

Where else in Dunwoody can we apply this ideal?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Business Experience Includes Everyone at Dunwoody HS

DUNWOODY, Ga. -- Every Tuesday morning atDunwoody High School, there's a line outside Kerry Brown's classroom, which doubles as a unique cafe.

It's named for the school's mascot, and it's run by students with mild intellectual disabilities, like autism and down syndrome.

Monday, October 6, 2014

DeKalb County Commission Forum - Dunwoody Homeowners

DeKalb County Commission Forum - Dunwoody Homeowners Association
(link to YouTube)

Video by John Heneghan - (next time turn on embedding - you'll get more video views that way)

Lots of talk about experience.  Not much talk about how it was gained, from many of the candidates.

Food for thought:  when someone talks about their experience at the county level - say, on county boards and such - stop and think "Who appointed them to the county post?"  If a candidate was appointed by a commissioner that was forced to resign before being indicted by the Feds, then electing them would not be getting rid of the previous administration's corruption, now would it?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

70 + cats removed from Dunwoody home

Another animal hoarding in Dunwoody makes the news.  The 11:00 PM report indicated the home is on Atcheson Lane, on the west side of Dunwoody near Dunwoody Baptist Church and the Branches subdivision.

Investigators say the conditions inside that home were so bad, animal control officers needed hazmat suits to enter.

From news reports around the zoning rewrite ratification 1 year ago this month:

The disagreement over what should be an allowable number of pets took flight after city consultant Kirk Bishop of Duncan Associates said city staff members were recommending a limit of 10 “companion animals” per household, raising the allowable number from the existing limit of three.

But Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch thought picking any number could create problems.

“I think we need to take this number out of here,” she said. “I don’t think we need to tell people they can have 10 dogs. I think we need to regulate the nuisances.”

But wait - there's more!  The homeowners are REPEAT OFFENDERS from 2012, according to the AJC.

Still think that "no limits" on animals is a good idea?  A health hazard has to bring out law enforcement to acknowledge when there's a problem?

I'll take "unintended consequences" for 1000, Alex.  

Halloween in Dunwoody - Game ON!

If you're going to let your community go to hell in a handbasket, do it in style!

Dunwoody has a new outlet of Spirit Halloween, now open in Perimeter Expo Center (Best Buy, Marshalls, Old Navy, etc)

If you're going to come visit us in Briers North on October 31, bring your A-game.  This isn't your Grandmother's Halloween!

More video.  (You can't make this stuff up!)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Opportunity Knocking - a unique twist on Dunwoody sidewalks and park paths?

The product demonstrated was invented and patented in the UK originally for airport runways.  Then it was expanded for use on pedestrian walkways.

Get this - it glows in the dark!

If it is as cost and time effective as is promoted here and not a PITA to maintain, (and is available in the US)  how cool would this be for all of the bike and walking paths being installed and upgraded around Dunwoody?

StarPath press release

Blog Post from Slate

Saturday, September 20, 2014

SDOC Supports Nancy Jester for District 1 Commissioner

Today saw the launch of Nancy Jester's official campaign website.  Even though there is a lot of work happening in my office and with my clients, I believe Nancy is the best person for DeKalb County Commissioner and I am willing to put my keystrokes where my mouth is.

You can do everything from here - peruse the news, Nancy's social media, make a contribution to the campaign, and order a yard sign.  There is a listing of upcoming "meet and greet" opportunities so if you want to see the woman speak in person and ask your own questions, you'll have your chance.

There's even a built-in function to display income and expenditures of her office.  ;-)  That's a check register, folks.  All ready to go.

Vote November 4 for Nancy Jester for DeKalb County Commission.  The only woman in the race with no ties to the previous administration.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Real State of Dunwoody Home Businesses

Whenever a Dunwoody politician or personality wants to score some points with the community, they rail against home businesses.  It's the usual go-to whipping boy when anyone in office wants to show off how much they "support" the community.  Exaggerations and hearsay and outright lies are all fair game.  And because these business owners want to avoid negative exposure, they just keep their heads down and wait for the usual storm to blow over.  Some have gone so far as to change their official business address to hide the fact that they work from home.  Others take advantage of the numerous loopholes introduced by City Council.

Then those same elected officials solicit their votes come election day, with tales of how said official "protected their rights".

But what kind of negative impact do home businesses have?  Is there a negative impact at all?  How many home business owners actually get complaints filed at code enforcement?

No one at the city - especially the politicians - are very forthcoming with that answer.  So I decided to find out exactly what is the state of home businesses in Dunwoody and quantify the results in a visual form that cannot be exaggerated for political gain.

I started making Open Records Requests with City Hall in June.  First, I requested the name and physical address (as opposed to the mailing address) of every business license in the city.  I sorted the list and confirmed the location of every business that is located at a residential address.  (Dunwoody's Occupational Tax Certificate application makes it clear that a "physical address" is the actual place where business happens.  So if a license is issued to a home address, that means "commercial activity" of some type is occurring there.)  

Then I searched the State's LLC registration database.  Sometimes an LLC is registered to a home address but a business license isn't filed.  There are all kinds of reasons for that, and it's impossible to determine which reason applies to which business.

Finally, I found a number of websites promoting businesses inside Dunwoody city limits where the contact information was a home address.

I took all of these addresses (all 680 of them) and plotted them on an interactive map.
Here is is:  The only official Dunwoody home business map.

Note that this map is an underrepresentation of actual commercial activity.  It is not possible to take into account home-based tutors or educational enterprises (legalized without permits last year) or MLM-type sales (Avon, Tupperware, Origami Owl) etc, which are known to maintain at least "stock in trade" at their homes, receive deliveries, employees, etc.  So the actual measure of residential commercial activity is greater than what can be documented here.  

The next ORRs had to do with code enforcement complaints.  I requested a list of all code enforcement complaints in residential areas starting around 2010 (when the database took on some kind of recognizable form and was searchable).  These results were reviewed and all complaints related to home business activity were matched with the locations of known home businesses.  The result is this page on the DWG blog, differentiating types of complaints - confirmed vs unconfirmed also plotted on the map by address.  The most recent ORR related to complaints includes information up through August 31 of this year.

Why are complaints restricted to those submitted to code enforcement?  Because they can be independently verified.  There's always scuttlebutt about this neighbor or that and what they are doing or not.  Some of this talk may be about a legitimate code violation.  Or it may be neighborhood gossip, or an honest misunderstanding.  Or a dishonest neighbor feud.  Unless a complaint is recorded and evaluated independently, there's no way to tell the difference.  

Here's what we learn from the research and the resulting map:

Every neighborhood, zoning designation, and housing type is saturated with home business owners.  Many of these see customers or employees regularly and these visits do not result in code enforcement complaints.

Home businesses represent 25% of all business licenses issued by Dunwoody.  That's up from 20% three years ago.  Home business ownership and activity is a clearly well-established element of both residential and business communities and continues to thrive without major incidents or complaints.  

Despite claims to the contrary, this growth in home business activity has not changed the nature of any residential community.  Those who claim they "want to know" in advance of a home business with customers getting established in proximity of their homes are blissfully unaware (or blissfully aware...) of the customers currently doing business in their neighborhoods right now.  

Code enforcement has documented a total of eight complaints related to alleged home business activity.  Out of these complaints, only two were confirmed.  Of these two, one involved a "commercial" vehicle parked in front of a residence which was resolved.  The other is the only incident of clear neighborhood nuisance, and predates the incorporation of Dunwoody.  The case has been slogging through court proceedings since early 2008.

It's not just that complaints about home businesses are not substantiated, the complaints just aren't getting filed.  Homeowners dime each other out when the grass in the yard gets too tall; so problems with home businesses are either non-existent, or they are resolved without getting the government involved.  

There are two homes that received SLUP permits since Dunwoody incorporated (lavender markers).  Each of them had a parade of fearful homeowners lined up to object to their permits.  However, since the permits were granted, neither home, nor the home businesses around them, have received any complaints.  That means, the homeowners who expressed dread about these businesses haven't filed any complaints after the fact.

If you cross reference the minutes and video from the SLUP hearings with the home business listings noted on the map, you'll see that some of those who complain the loudest about home business operation, have established home businesses of their own!!   Still other complainants are home business customers, either directly or indirectly, and are business customers in residential areas.

For the first time we can now visualize what home business activity looks like in Dunwoody.  It has not changed any community's or neighborhood's nature.  It does not generate a deluge of code enforcement complaints.  Home businesses are not a threat to neighborhood quality.  Neighborhoods do not require "protection" from them.  Otherwise there would be many more complaints.  I'm sure that after this article posts, there may be a bump in complaints submitted.  That's happened before:  someone realizes how few home business complaints are made and go out of their way to boost the numbers.  We'll find out in the coming weeks as more ORR reports come in.

But most of all, officially-sourced railings against home businesses and their owners are not to preserve neighborhoods.  They are to promote political "street cred".  Keep that and the above visuals in mind the next time the subject comes up at city hall.

Enjoy!  And Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Opportunity Knocking: Sponsorship Openings for Community Events

Need to get your company name out in public in advance of the Christmas/Hanukkah shopping season?  Look into these options right here in Dunwoody. 

Light Up Dunwoody is looking for corporate sponsors and vendors for this family tradition.  Sponsorship levels are affordable for all sizes and types of companies.

All Saints Fall Festival is accepting sponsors to place their logo on Festival Tshirts.  These sponsorship levels are also affordable for everyone, including families.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

VOTE NANCY JESTER for DeKalb Board of Commissioners

Per email from Nancy this morning:

I'm running for the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.

Please join me to kick-off my campaign and discuss the reforms needed in DeKalb County government.

Coffee Talk with Nancy 
Thursday, September 4th 
10am at Cafe Intermezzo
4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road 
Dunwoody, GA 30346 

Sen. Fran Millar 
Sen. Josh McKoon 
Rep. Tom Taylor 
Councilman Terry Nall 
Councilman Denny Shortal 
Councilman Doug Thompson

I'm backing Nancy in her run because:
1)  She answers her own phone.
2)  She returns calls and emails.
3)  She does what she said she was going to do.
4)  I have never known her to lie or steal.
5)  She doesn't make excuses or justifications for bad behaviour because - she doesn't behave badly and then try to justify it somehow.
6)  Everything she believes about how government should run is an open book.  No secrets, no deception.

As a Dunwoody citizen, homeowner and business owner, I am beyond pissed at our (now former) commissioner and her staff.  I have never felt so personally betrayed by a representative and their staff.  Rubbing elbows at local campaign meetings, DHA meetings, city council, giving decrees and opinions as if they were the word of God and all the time they were ripping us off.

I believe Nancy is a hope for the transparency in government that we have been demanding but not getting.

There are still going to be questions from both within and without.  First, be really clear about whether there are any conflicts between holding a seat on the Board of Commissioners and having your husband on the School Board.  Second, be realistic about what one person can accomplish in the face of a majority of commissioners with different agendas and standards.  (Just like the school board.)

I've cleared my calendar for tomorrow morning.  See you at Cafe Intermezzo!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Support the Dunwoody High Academy of Finance

“We have over 180 juniors and seniors enrolled in the Academy for the 2014-2015 school year. This is a two year program that exposes students to personal finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, corporate finance, macroeconomics and international business. It is a "mini" MBA and is a great stepping stone for majoring in business in college as well as providing unbelievable experiences for the students. They are exposed to many different real life topics and compete in a number of business competitions. It sets the student apart from others in their college and job search process.”

My personal favorite is the "Dunwoody Mom Tshirt".
I purchased 2 right on the spot.
Good luck Elizabeth and mackenzie!  (And yes, they are great about delivery!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Opportunity Knocking | WANTED: Restaurant with comfortable atmosphere to serve as Dunwoody Community gathering place

No one likes change that they have no control over.  So when word started flowing that OHH was closed for "renovations", then the above linked article appeared in the ABC and on Facebook many are mourning the Dunwoody landmark.

Ironically, many are the same people who were concerned about quality of food, the deteriorating condition of the building, the staff, unacceptable health department scores, and the like.  Then there was the swindling incident right in the lobby about this time last year.

The Circle of Life continues to turn, even in Dunwoody where there are always efforts to stop time.

We won't go without BBQ (Memphis BBQ is open) and for breakfast, there is First Watch (great pumpkin pancakes), J Christopher's (another traditional Dunwoody staple) and Another Broken Egg (this one has a liquor license.  Bloody Marys and Mimosas all around!!).

In all seriousness, this is a cloud with a silver lining for someone.  There's a significant segment of the Dunwoody community, age demographic roughly on the right side of the curve, that likes to get together and talk politics and community.  Along with at least one city council member and one DeKalb county senior staff.  (Who needs to find a new "office".)  Another restaurant could benefit from Old Hickory's unfortunate demise while providing that "comfort zone".

Damn, I'm going to miss their sliced pork and BBQ sauce.  And the smell of hickory smoke in the air when I drive by.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dunwoody Crosswalk Drama

Reposted from my personal Facebook profile.

Because I'm ticked off enough to share far and wide.

To the jerk in the Lexus behind me in the exit line at Georgetown Plaza:

The reason i did not leap into the intersection the nanosecond the light turned green was because there was a pedestrian in the crosswalk coming towards the Starbucks. A senior citizen pulling a cart. Not the fastest person in the world. But how fast they are walking is irrelevant because they always have the right of way.

You and your toy horn started freaking out even more when they crossed the midway point. Believe it or not, Ripley, you still don't drive around them while they're in the street. I'd rather deal with your temper tantrum that eclipses anything my 4-year-old can pull, than get a citation from Dunwoody Police Department and possible points on my license. Or worse.

If you want to play Frogger at that intersection, be my guest. At your own risk. Leave me out of it. Enjoy your 15 minutes of shame on DPD's feed.

So save the hand waving and swearing in my rear view mirror for someone who cares. It's not going to change my driving judgement.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Love and kisses, 

PS - Tailgating me for several blocks with the continued waving and yelling doesn't change anything either. It just confirms that my first assessment is correct - you're a jerk.

More love, more kisses,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I Did This Summer - Website Facelifts

The final child has been dropped at her first day of school, the youngest gets on the school bus and sits in his seat without a fuss, and my work schedule looks like a solid block of time to be allocated, rather than a jigsaw to be worked in around summer camps and pool excursions.

My husband said I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I don't hear a child whining "I'm BOOOOOOOORED" every hour.  I know good and well what to do!  I have themes that need their responsive javascript updated, I need to have client meetings over new websites still in the hopper, WineShoe has a LivingSocial deal that needs its codes added (and there's always a glitch with Living Social), there's new staff at the Chamber that need continued onboarding with our online systems, and I've got three databases that need to be migrated and a massive new site that needs a new host that can handle the load without costing a fortune.

Plus the usual billing, renewals, meeting scheduling, proposal fielding, and professional dues.

That'll keep me busy for about a week or 10 days.

Seriously, there's been a lot of design work this summer, especially on older sites that need upgrades.

I have never met a website that was "set it and forget it."  Web languages and CSS (cascading style sheet) codes are always evolving so what looked nice at the time it was written may be ineffective and slow in only a year or two.  The biggest change in recent years has been the growth of mobile devices with their smaller screens.  The psychology and design principles of arranging information on smaller and smaller screens is a gigantic new consideration in both website design and function and it's no longer optional.

Here's SDOC's first summer facelift:  the Atlanta Panhellenic:

The Atlanta Panhellenic is a conglomerate of 20 sorority alumnae groups affiliated with the National Panhellenic Conference.  AAPA was founded almost 90 years ago and has called Dunwoody home for more than 10 of those years.  AAPA has been assisting high school women through the membership recruitment process in local colleges and universities, has awarded increasing amounts of scholarship funds to high school, collegiate, and alumnae scholars, and encourages philanthropic work in metro Atlanta communities.  

I upgraded the website from static HTML to WordPress a year ago, but even WordPress has changed greatly in that amount of time.  The new theme is now fully responsive.  That is, its elements rearrange themselves to fit the screen being used to view it.  I was also able to streamline the plugins required to arrange and maintain all of the content, between updating the theme and WordPress' latest 3.9.x release.

The leadership wanted to maintain the left-anchored vertical menu and update the feminine font in the menu and page headers.  But how does that work for, say, an iPhone?
In this new theme, the page headers remain in their script, but the vertical menu of the desktop site disappears on smaller screens and is replaced with an icon and dropdown menu in simpler lettering.  This makes the site easier to read and navigate on smaller screens without excluding any content.

There's also a greater move toward presenting social media, both by the collective and each individual member group.  Facebook, for all of its controversies and faults, still has the most flexible API (application programming interface) that permits information from the social network to be displayed in numerous ways on a website.  AAPA has an open Facebook group to encourage communication between members and the general public.  Many members have Facebook pages as well.  So the new theme devised a way to display the open group on the front page:

The feed from the Facebook group is in the lower right corner, right of the calendar  listings and below the MailChimp newsletter registration form.

Member groups also have their Facebook feeds displayed on their pages if they are using an open page.   Space is also available for Twitter feeds and linked to closed Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups.

Even though Facebook is phasing out the organic reach of Pages, they are still useful in engaging an audience.  I'm getting a lot of requests to embed Facebook page information on website home pages.  Updates to the page are automatically added to the website, so to speak, so to the viewer there is always something fresh to read and some interactivity to join.  Twitter also has an API that is easy to integrate into a webpage.

Take a look at your website and decide if it's still as useful today as it was when it was created on current technology.  If it takes a long time to load, if your content management system is out of date, if it looks miniscule on a phone or a tablet, then it's time for a professional upgrade.

One down, several more to go.  Happy Back to School Week!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Famous Last Words Friday

"We don't crash EVER!"

Everyone goofing off on Friday, you have to find some other way to run out the clock than playing around on Facebook.
Armageddon's next!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Turn in a neighborhood vandal, earn a reward from Dunwoody Police

From the Dunwoody North Driving Club via Facebook:


Between July 1 and July 2, 2014, an individual (or individuals) trespassed into the locked pool area, threw a guard chair into the pool and threw several items of furniture into the pool as well. One of our lifeguard team discovered the items and coordinated the cleanup.
But wait, there's more....

CRIME ALERT: The vandals have had their "fun" in our neighborhood for a few weeks now. From slashing car roofs, breaking into cars, destroying landscaping, and more. It's time to put a stop to it. If you have any information or see anything suspicious, please contact Detective Sgt. Patrick Krieg at or 678-382-6908 as soon as possible.

Dunwoody Police is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the guilty party(ies).

Dime out the losers, earn some cash! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dunwoody homeowners do not need a SLUP to have tutors visit their homes

If this sounds obvious, it's not.

The Dunwoody Crier reported the following comment during the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting of June 16 to decide upon whether to accept the appeal made by Manget Way homeowners against a facility developed by Centers for Discovery:
She also said that the facility would involve tutors for the girls in treatment. “Tutors going to and from a home require a special land use permit,” she said, pointing to a case involving an in-home violin teacher.

This statement is incorrect for a couple of reasons.

First, at no time has there ever been a restriction on what type of workers could be hired in a homeowner's private residence.  Any homeowner may have any contractor at any time without seeking permission first.  This includes tutors.  Or doctors or other medical personnel.  Or dog walkers.  Or landscapers.  Or even salespeople.   Chapter 27 of Dunwoody's municipal ordinances only dictates that home business owners from conducting business activities in their own homes.  This is one of the many contradictions in the home business-related ordinances introduced during the ratification process.  Any business representative, home-based or not, can visit any home they wish.  A sales representative can host a "party" in a customer's home with their consent.  The law just wants to see that not take place in the rep's own home.

It's a similar standard for yard signs:  a home business owner may not put a sign in their own yard advertising their business.  But they may put a sign in a customer's yard with the customer's permission to show that they had worked there.

The other problem is that home-based tutors are exempt from the SLUP requirements for "customer contact" as of a special city council meeting of September 17, 2013.    After much demand for "research" and an outright refusal to compromise on the extensive SLUP process that exceeds any "impact" a business owner has, city council voted to allow exceptions for home tutors.  Tutors and other educational enterprises weren't going to obey that requirement anyway.  This exception introduced a number of contradictions in the zoning code as well but home-based educators aren't about to argue and I don't blame them.

The Zoning Board of Appeals opens every meeting with a preamble with the gist of how the board interprets code, but does not create it.  It is unfortunate that this mistake was made during a critical case that is probably  headed to court where subtle interpretations of the law and the credibility of the parties will play a role in the final outcome.  After all of the work that the Manget Way neighbors have put in to build a credible case and seek support from the DHA and legal specialists, I would hate to think that it was all put in jeopardy by this ignorant remark.   Further, it puts the credibility of the ZBA into question for further applicants.  How can any citizen trust in the fair judgement of the ZBA for their zoning questions if they can't get this simple fact right?

I call upon the ZBA members to acknowledge this publicly documented error in their next meeting and correct it for the record and for the edification of the community they serve.**  The correction should be at least as obvious and public as the original error.  Otherwise, the citizens of Dunwoody have no reason to trust in your decisions.

I also call upon the city council to ensure that errors made by the ZBA and other appointed boards are acknowledged publicly for the benefit of the community.**  You seven appointed and voted to approve these board members.  You seven have to accept some responsibility for their accuracy in interpreting our ordinances and ensuring that the public is not misled.  If you are unwilling to hold appointed boards accountable for their actions, then your decisions are equally suspect.

Let's see who has the personal courage to correct an obvious mistake.  I'm sure it will come out eventually on video.  And if this mistake is not corrected publicly... well we have another wrinkle in the next election cycle.

**By this I intend that these clarifications or corrections would be made sincerely.  I wouldn't put it past some of our citizen board members to meet the demand for accuracy in a facetious or otherwise insincere manner.  Once more, let's see how credible are boards and council are.

Disney Junior Channel looking for "unique" homes to shoot promo videos

News alert from Film Friendly Georgia.

If you're interested, don't delay - they are scouting locations fitting the description below immediately.

The City of Dunwoody does not require a SLUP for this type of commercial activity in a home, so the City of Dunwoody will not require paperwork from homeowners.  (Only the production crew.)  But if you are willing to engage in this or any other media activity, please be a good neighbor to the homeowners around yours:

  • Advise them well in advance of the shoot schedule.  One day is not enough.
  • Speak with your neighbors in person.  Taping a flyer to a mailbox is not only illegal, (per US Postal Inspector) but comes across as rude.
  • Make every effort to mitigate any inconvenience to other homeowners.  Listen to their concerns, even the cranky NIMBY ones.  Convey them to the producers and advise the film crew how to avoid encroaching on neighbors property and driveways.
  • Remember, other home business owners can be cited for merely having a "commercial vehicle" parked in front of their house.  Even if you are not bound by the same standards, they're good to follow for film crews as well.


The Disney Junior digital cable and satellite television network is scouting for a very unique home to feature in an upcoming series of on air promos that will feature young children embracing the fantasy of being their favorite Disney character in the confines of their lovely home.

Production is planning to film over a three day period of filming- PLUS one prep and one wrap day – July 15-19, 2014.

The key attributes of the home Disney Junior is hoping to find and film within 30 miles of Atlanta are:

• Approx. 4000 square feet home.
• 2 car garage would be helpful for green screen.
• Nice GREEN GRASS sod yard. Rolling hill a bonus
• Needs wooded- forest like area near or behind…hope to have sidewalk.
• The look is typical American Suburban w/ Pottery Barn & Crate Barrel stylings not Ikea or Modern.
• 4 to 6 bedrooms or rooms that could play as bedrooms for children. Cast will be 4 - 6 years of age.
• Fantasy request girls bedroom w/ built in stage.
• Would like to allow wardrobe/mu and bathrooms in house.
• A deep back yard – maybe 25 feet or larger wide. Portion of yard fenced in.
• Nice Large Kitchen and or dining room
• Other attribute requests will surface later during pre-production.

Because of the impending July 4th holiday, the required bi-coastal location approvals, prop preparations and the permitting process, all scouting needs to hopefully be finished by this Thursday, June 26.

Please send pics to TODAY. We will be touring locations tomorrow/Wednesday.


Wanda Morganstern had this wild idea during a conversation with a location manager while on set. With all the film work pouring into Georgia, it seemed silly to not have a comprehensive database of locations where the property owners have already agreed to have their property used for filming!!

Solace, starring Anthony Hopkins, was FFG's first location for a film and we haven't looked back!!

20+ years of commercial real estate experience in Atlanta and throughout the state allowed Wanda to create a company that eases the process for location managers while representing the property owners to the film and TV industry. The FFG team brought hundreds of locations to the table and our database was born! Within a few chaotic months that wild idea turned into Film Friendly GA.

As Georgia's film industry continues to grow, FFG makes the job of searching for locations easier for the entire film production team.

Please let us know if you'd like your property included in our database!

See you in the movies!
Wanda & the FFG team
Like us on Facebook!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's Official: Free Organic Facebook Advertising is Out the Door

From Forbes Magazine on June 6:

Facebook’s Brian Boland has taken to a Facebook blog to talk about the decline of a post’s organic reach in the social network. In his role as ‎VP Ads Product Marketing, he walked through the implications as organic reach becomes a less effective engagement tool.

Boland has suggested why brands should continue to engage in Facebook and gather fans, but the suggestions all feel rather ‘second tier’ to me; fans give you credibility; fans can offer insights into your customer base; fans can be used to create social context which improves auction price for advertising; and fans can make ads more effective when they interact with them, increasing the chances of them being shown on the news feeds of other fans.

Those last two points are my big takeaway. Not that fans can improve your adverts, but Facebook signalling that you should be using adverts around your brand on Facebook if you want to reach your fans and other users. For all the talk of improving the news feed and making it a more engaging place, these efforts are on making it a better place for users. Not for brands.

From Boland's Blog specifically:

There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.
As a result, competition in News Feed — the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses — is increasing, and it’s becoming harder for any story to gain exposure in News Feed. In addition to the growth in content, people are also liking more Pages. Facebook’s director of product management for News Feed told TechCrunch this April the total number of Pages liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year. With each new Page like, competition in News Feed increases even further.
The second reason involves how News Feed works. Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.
A Facebook presence still has a role to play in boosting your SEO via Open Graph Protocol.  By associating your personal Facebook ID with your website, or individual pages within it, the site's content has more credibility as that created by a human being, rather than mass spam content from Timbuktu.  Which can improve your search engine rankings and increase your visibility.  It will also improve your site's appearance on Facebook or Google + if a visitor shares the info on their personal profile.   Of course you can always pay for ad placement in Facebook and adjust your advertising budget accordingly.

But at the end of the day, whether your website makes sales or changes a visitor's mind on an issue, depends on the quality of what you say and the quality of the visual presentation.  As usual, the techniques to get them through the website front door are constantly changing and require more than one approach, including the old-fashioned, in-person handshake.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dunwoody Town Hall hosted by District 3 - TONIGHT

You wanted 'em, you got 'em!  The next in the local neighborhood Town Hall series is at the Dunwoody North Driving Club tonight.

A word to the wise:  everybody has something they disagree with City Council on.  (Ask me how I know this...!)  Give them a chance to answer questions, even if you're pissed about something.  It's the courtesy you would want from them.  Hear the answers and give them a shot before blowing off the official you already decided you don't like.  Some of the nasty comments in the gallery after the first town hall at DHS directed at Mike Davis were really discouraging.

Due to work obligations I can't attend tonight, but I do have some questions of my own.  If you seven folks are reading, please consider an answer to the following.

1)  Feelings about developments at Brook Run are still raw.  Some will never forget the number of trees that were removed for the walking trail.  There is still conflict over the location of the dog park and whether the trees there are in fact harmed by the dogs.  Then you have the nearby neighborhoods who are watching for any trouble due to both of these.  You're also in the process of (finally!  thank you!) destroying the unusable buildings toward the front.  The trail is as yet unfinished and the outcome of the dog park move remains to be seen.  Why would you consider an unsolicited offer from a company to make use of the park for an obstacle course (which is not even close to being on the parks master plan) when there are still conflicts and concerns for "negative impact" over current developments?  Why was it necessary to move ahead with a treetop obstacle course plan when current development in other areas is still underway and their benefit and potential problems are far from clear?  Why did you not choose to put this request on hold until prior developments and their questions were closer to resolution?

2)  Congratulations on the state grant to fund the redevelopment of the Tilly Mill/N. P'tree/Peeler intersection.  As a resident who drives through it several times a day I concur it is long overdue.  I would have been satisfied with any plan, so long as it expedited traffic through the intersection safely.

With that said, there is much more to safety and shorter wait times than just infrastructure.  Because these roads are arteries to I285 and Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) you have some additional issues:  namely, a large concentration of college students with a limited amount of driving experience and the "ten-feet-tall-and-bulletproof" view of themselves that all college students experience.  Infrastructure alone - including striping, bike lanes, signage, lights, etc - does not necessarily persuade drivers (including bicyclists) to drive safely.  In addition to speed traps and occasional jaywalking warnings at the college itself, how is the City working with GPC to reinforce and encourage safe driving/bicycling habits in this population?

2a)  Even though a street is on the drawing board for redevelopment, the lane striping still needs maintenance.  It is not acceptable for striping to be allowed to disappear from use just because a refurbishment is coming.  That's an accident waiting to happen and you don't need the liability.  Try driving south on N. Peachtree approaching Tilly Mill.  The center yellow lines are *gone* and it is almost impossible to determine where the left-hand turn lane ends and the northbound lane begins.  See above re:  college students.  You also have a population driving through here that doesn't live in Dunwoody, is not as familiar with the streets as those who live on them and an accident is bound to happen.

3)  You may be interested to know that if the City plans to install tennis courts at Brook Run in place of the office buildings (thank you, again!) and even refurbish those at Windwood Hollow Park (please?), facilities grants are available from the USTA for their installation.  ( - scroll down to "Facilities".)  Milam Park in Clarkston ( was a recipient of one of these grants and they created an outstanding facility for their community, including scaled-down "quickstart" courts for smaller children.

If/when these courts are installed/upgraded, please consider additional markings to scale the courts down to 60' and 36' for younger players.  (aka, "blended lines")  You don't have the space for dedicated smaller childrens' courts, and I'm sure you're not planning any professional-grade play, so additional blended lines will do the job.  (For info see:

This is just an FYI from a tennis mom who has seen kids of all ages enjoy the sport when it is scaled for them.  I'm sure other sports enthusiasts can include their two-cents on other sport amenities.

Thanks for hosting this event tonight and I look forward to hearing your responses to the above questions and more.  Please give answers as honest as the questions.  They are going to be posted somewhere, right?