Author: Reporter Newspapers

Big Trees’ Charlie Cochrane remembered for shaping lives

By Katie Fallon katiefallon@reporternewspapers.net The July 22 memorial for Big Tree Forest Preserve director Charlie Cochrane saw no shortage of mourners who sang praises of Cochrane’s dedication to the nature park. The following is a selection of comments from those who knew and worked with Cochrane over the years. “I met Charlie in the forest, but not this forest. Charlie loved Big Trees, but if he ever cheated on Big Trees, it was with Schweitzer [Nature Preserve]. We showed up in the middle of the woods and this guy comes tromping out of the woods with his cap on and a whole bunch of privet trailing behind him and said, ‘Hey, I’m Charlie.’ That was the beginning of a relationship that I really think changed my life.” “If I ever met an individual who was able to channel God through nature, it was Charlie Cochrane. The beautiful thing about it was he didn’t let it stop there. It was not a two-way communication. He used that to reach out to all of us and to share that love, to share the spiritual healing and to share with all of us what nature did for him. But more importantly, what nature did through him.” -Fredda McDonald, Big Trees board member “Charlie looked at this as getting to go out and play every day. He actually came early because he wanted...

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Development for Glenridge, with historic site, hits a snag

By Katie Fallon katiefallon@reporternewspapers.net One local developer has hit another hurdle in his plan to build 28 single-family homes on seven present home sites along Glenridge Drive—a plan that includes saving the historic Wagon Stop House. Jason Yowell and Metropolis Homes are asking for five concurrent variances for a plan that includes building the 28 homes on 7.28-acres along Glenridge Drive between Johnson Ferry Road and Hammond Drive. Within the plan, Yowell has committed to creating an easement that would have the Wagon Stop maintained in perpetuity by the homeowners’ association of the development. At the July 19 Planning Commission meeting, however, Yowell’s plan was rejected in large part because of his insistence to stay at his requested density of 3.85 units per acre. The Wagon Stop House sits on one of the seven lots currently in the area of the development. Built in 1835, it is one of the oldest surviving structures in Sandy Springs and was used to host travelers and as the area’s first courtroom. Today, the home has retained only a small portion of its historic nature. The original space now serves as the dining room of a home located at the corner of Glenridge and Johnson Ferry Road. Some logs from the original structure remain in the face of several additions made over the years. City staff recommended conditional approval of Yowell’s plan, but...

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Sandy Springs Police Department welcomes monsignor as chaplain

By Katie Fallon katiefallon@reporternewspapers.net Members of the Sandy Springs Police Department now have an extra level of protection in addition to their bulletproof vests. At the July 17 city council meeting, Monsignor Donald Kiernan was sworn in as the first chaplain for the police department. Head pastor at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Kiernan has spent the entirety of his 58-year career at Catholic churches all over Georgia. Kiernan, 82, came to Georgia soon after becoming ordained in 1949. At the time, he said there were only 33 Catholic priests in the entire state. His first assignment was in Savannah and he has since served in communities like Cedartown, Gainesville, Monroe and downtown Atlanta. However, his work with police departments began out of necessity. Kiernan said he was assigned to a church in Atlanta in 1954 when he had to call the Atlanta Police Department because there was a prowler in the basement. “They came and the two officers asked me to go for a ride,” Kiernan said. “From then on, they picked me up every night.” As the monsignor became more known within the APD, he gradually became friends with the patrol officers, sergeants, lieutenants and eventually the chief. In fact, as Kiernan’s primary profession took him to congregations across the state, he was able to take letters of recommendation from one police chief to the next....

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100-plus attend Big Trees memorial for Charlie Cochrane

By Katie Fallon katiefallon@reporternewspapers.net Mourners were granted a brief reprieve from the rain on July 22 as the community said goodbye to one of its most vocal greenspace cheerleaders. Charlie Cochrane died suddenly on July 12 after suffering a heart attack in his office at the John Ripley Forbes Big Tree Forest Preserve, the city’s most noteworthy area of greenspace. Cochrane, 60, was the executive director of the 30-acre nature sanctuary and could often be found walking the miles of trails at the preserve or behind his desk at the log cabin that housed his office on the edge of the Big Trees property on Roswell Road. A memorial service was held Sunday evening within the preserve, where many of the more than 100 mourners noted Cochrane could be found every day from dawn until dusk. Attendees ranged in age from toddlers guided by the watchful hand of a parent to the elderly guided by the supportive brace of a cane. Whether sitting on benches made from felled trees or standing amidst the oak wood chips spread faithfully by Cochrane and his army of volunteers, mourners were even treated to a bag piper who ended the service with a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace.” During the service, mourners were invited to share thoughts about Cochrane. From board members who knew Cochrane for decades to visitors who frequented the preserve’s...

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Dog park plan causes stink among its neighbors

By C. Julia Nelson Sandy Springs City Council members may be in the doghouse no matter what they decide regarding a possible dog park at Ridgeview Park. The Sandy Springs Pooch Park Pals want a safe place for their dogs to run and play, unleashed, within the city limits. Pooch Park Pals are volunteers who act as stewards to the parks providing general maintenance and cleaning services. Additionally, the group has raised about $15,000 in private funds to add to the $25,000 already allotted by Sandy Springs City Council for the purpose of creating the dog park. On the other side of the fence, neighbors living in the immediate area surrounding Ridgeview Park are wary of increased traffic, lack of enforcement of current leash laws and oppose adding a dog park to a park that is rarely maintained and has limited space for other recreational activities. The catch 22: everyone is concerned that people continuously disregard the law and let their dogs run unleashed, putting children at risk. Last Wednesday, about 100 people attended a town hall meeting, at the Church of the Redeemer, 5185 Peachtree-Dunwoody Road, to discuss a one- to two-acre, fenced-in space for local canines to run amok without bothering others in the 20.2-acre park. District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio arranged the meeting to collect information as to how and if council should proceed with the...

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