‘The Walking Dead’ sets come to life on Atlanta-based move tour


Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

ATLANTA — Atlanta Movie Tours tour guide Charlie Leach prepares to lead movie fans on their site visits for the day.

Atlanta Movie Tours was established in 2012 by Carrie Sagel Burns. These tours take movie buffs, fans and many other participants to several filming locations of today’s popular movies and television shows filmed in Georgia.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

Fans from all over the world come to indulge in their movie site fantasies with Atlanta Movie Tours year-round.

“We have had people come all the way from England, and I love that about this job,” tour guide Kent Wagner said.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

Atlanta Movie Tours’s Big Zombie Tour Part 1 kicks off with a visit to one of the film industry’s favorite shooting locations, Nelson Street Bridge, where Rick Grimes of “The Walking Dead” has some of his first scenes in Season 1.

This company is composed of six different tours, Big Zombie Tour Parts 1-3, which emphasize on “The Walking Dead” series; Victory Tour, which focuses on the “The Hunger Games” movie saga; the Gone with the Wind tour, which visits sites where the movie “Gone with the Wind” was filmed; and the Atlanta Film Sites Tour, which covers the different array of films and series filmed in Georgia.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

Tour participants step on board the Atlanta Movie Tours bus to continue their film site journey.

All tours are conducted to many different filming locations in an on and off bus settings all throughout Atlanta. Tour participants stay comfortable as they ride through the city in style on a state-of-the-art bus equipped with a bathroom and televisions.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

Leach guides the group to the next tour location, The Goat Farm Arts Center.

Tour guides who work for the Atlanta Movie Tours company are required to have previously worked as talent for a film or series filmed in Georgia. Leach was a principal zombie on “The Walking Dead” Season 1 and can provide insider knowledge about the cast and filming.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

Above is a roadway within The Goat Farm Arts Center that served as a walk for the second  installment of “The Hunger Games saga: Catching Fire.”

Atlanta Movie Tours sections its tours based on the fandom community. Yet, the tour guides do not mind discussing facts from other films like “The Hunger Games” on their Big Zombie Tour.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

“The Walking Dead” fans, this tower, located at The Goat Farm Arts Center, served as the “vato” scene location during Season 1 when character T-Dog was seen peering out the window, taking aim at the group’s opponents.

The Goat Farm Arts Center is the location used by Atlanta Movie Tours for participant rest and relaxation. Participants can take a restroom break, get a cup of coffee and get many great photo opportunities.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

“The Walking Dead” fans take rest stop at The Goat Farm Arts Center.

Sophia Metevia (center), friend Katherine Flores and sister Emily Metevia traveled from Ovida, Florida, with their parents to take the zombie tour for her birthday.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

Fans are getting a photo at one of the most iconic shooting locations, which is where “The Walking Dead” character Rick Grimes exits the hospital to find hundreds of dead bodies during Season 1.

Atlanta Movies Tours offer many different movie locations to get as many photo opportunities during its three-hour tours.

Monday, June 6, 2016 (Photo by Kimberly Vargas)

Freedom Parkway, where “The Walking Dead” character Rick Grimes rode on horseback into Atlanta in search of his family during Season 1.

The Jackson Street bridge allows fans to get an unforgettable view and photo opportunity of the Atlanta skyline. Atlanta Movie Tours also allows fans to travel down to Senoia, Georgia, where they can take The Big Zombie Tours Part 2 and Part 3.

PODCAST: KSU professor speaks on Syrian refugee crisis


Click here to listen to the podcast.

KENNESAW, Ga. — Stories shared of struggles essentially no American can understand: struggles of a war-torn country.

Syrian citizens are leaving their homes, their lives and their families in search of a better life. Thomas Hartwell takes a look at what kind of challenges these people face and what they’re after in the new communities that they join.

KSU’s Dr. Sherrill Hayes, professor of conflict management, joins him for this podcast.

Whale sharks at Ga. Aquarium give researchers hope for rest of species


ATLANTA — The Georgia Aquarium has always been known for rescuing animals and its  conservation efforts, but its latest developments and research as recent as May 2016 have the potential to save the whale shark species as a whole.

After acquiring four whale sharks in 2008, the staff continues to learn more about how to protect the species by researching patterns in the whale sharks’s behaviors that deal with their growth and health. They hope to eventually study baby whale sharks that will be able to maximize their conservation efforts.

Whale shark at the Georgia Aquarium (Submitted photo)

“Since they’re in a closed environment, we have the opportunity to do a lot of research on them because not much is known about whale sharks, especially about breeding,” said Parker Ivey, an aquarium employee who works with life support systems.

If the whale sharks do breed, they would be the first ever documented baby whale sharks in the world. This documentation could be used to further conserve the species as a whole.

The four whale sharks the aquarium currently houses are still juveniles but have the possibility of reproducing when they mature.

The reason not much is known about whale sharks is that the Georgia Aquarium is only one of two aquariums in the entire world to have them. The aquarium rescued its whale sharks from a Thailand fishery that was trying to use the animals as food.

Instead, the aquarium gave them a different fate and placed the whale sharks in a 6.3-million-gallon enclosure, the biggest in the world, that was built to house six whale sharks.

Before rescuing them, the aquarium was only able to research the whale sharks in the wild through its research station in Mexico. Ivey said, although this is amazing, only so much research can be done in the wild.

If babies are born in the aquarium, it would open up new doors for researchers.

Although whale sharks have never been born in captivity, the employees try to ensure a live birth by trying to make them feel as much at home as possible.

Angel Foster, a life support operator technician, focuses on ensuring that the marine life interact with an environment that is closest to their natural home. She makes sure the temperature, water motion and filtration mimic that of the ocean.

The technicians also attempt to replicate the diets, currents needed for migration and the situations that allow the animals to use all their senses.

“We always strive to make sure that all of our mammals use all of their senses that they would normally use in the wild,” Foster said. “We also use training techniques to make sure they are using it in fun and creative ways to keep their mind sharp and make sure they don’t get — I guess ‘bored’ is the word.”

The aquarium also allows certified divers to dive in the enclosure with the whale sharks. The aquarium continues to improve its conservation efforts by teaching the divers more about these gentle giants as the research develops.

Much like a regular dive in the ocean, the divers are instructed not to disturb the whale sharks or parts of their environment. In fact, most of the divers remain close to the surface and simply observe the animals from a distance.

This is just another activity that the aquarium uses to conserve the environment. Aquarium researchers also release sea turtles, conduct research in the wild and practice coral conservation, Ivey said.

“They really do a lot to educate and inform people about the environment and how they can sustain it,” Ivey said. “There’s something unique there, and they actually do care.”

College gamers form team, enter growing sport

Tournaments are battleground for this local e-sport team


ATLANTA — A collegiate community of gamers living in Georgia have recently developed teams to compete in nation-wide gaming competitions.

Georgia Tech recently held its yearly “Gamefest,” which students and gamers from across Georgia come together and compete for cash prizes and more. Although the competition is over, there are still teams based in Georgia that are looking to succeed in future tournaments.

The team known as “Battle Grounds” uses players from Georgia’s collegiate teams in an attempt to create a group that plays well enough to advance to international tournaments.

Variety of genres

The gaming community in general is open to competition from all genres of video games — even retro video games. Whether it be fighting video games, shooting video games or simulation video games, Georgia’s gaming community has developed and organized many different events that players can make a name for themselves while playing their favorite video games.

One such player, Abbas Alemi, has recently made waves in Marietta, Georgia: his local gaming community.

Alemi plays the popular video game by Valve titled “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.” This is the fourth installment of the shooting video game, involving two teams that compete to either eliminate each other or set off a bomb to obtain victory.

“I’ve been playing ‘Counter-Strike’ since I was 10,” Alemi said. “When I was offered to play with ‘Battle Grounds,’ I got very excited to take my game to the next level.”

Alemi keeps practicing by playing in online tournaments and meeting up with his teammates for scrimmage matches.

“Wintertime is when you see the most live tournaments, but ‘Battle Grounds’ keeps practicing year round,” Alemi said. “We are trying to make a name for ourselves.”

Entry of new video games

Each year, video game developers produce new video games that eventually become a new e-sport.

A recent video game made by Blizzard titled “Overwatch” has become a new catalyst for competition gaming events and tournament.

Released May 24, 2016, the video game involves picking a hero — with certain skills and abilities — whom the user plays in a variety of game modes such as capture the flag.

Georgia, like many other states, will begin hosting “Overwatch” tournaments in that competitive players will hopefully create a large championship series.

One of the problems with new games becoming popular is the loss of popularity for already established games.

“’Overwatch’ will likely take players from the ‘Counter-Strike’ community because it is also a shooting game,” Alemi said. “I think it will be harder to create large prize pools and motivate pro players to play ‘Counter-Strike’ once that game becomes more popular.”

Preparation for Competition

Weeks of practice are required to compete with other teams that look to make a name for themselves in e-sports.

Although “Battle Grounds” doesn’t practice day-and-night and doesn’t put any limitations on the members’s personal lives, there is still a level of commitment and intensity required.

“The players practice for at least 30 hours a week depending on which game they play,” said Rakan Nassederin, a coach for team “Battle Grounds” and former player on Georgia Tech’s team. “Some players who are very committed play for as long as 60 hours a week.”

Georgia’s gaming community will continue to grow as long players and spectators continue to be committed to the sport.

If the trend of competitive video gaming becoming a real sport continues, then Georgia gaming community will likely grow alongside it, nurturing a community full of great people.

Historic Roswell cottage to become coffee shop


ROSWELL, Ga. — Canton Street’s historic Campbell Cottage is being turned into a coffee shop and bookstore set to open this fall.

Perry and Sandra Pettett petitioned the Roswell city government to allow the transformation of the nearly 200-year-old building into a cafe. The property was previously a law office until the Pettets purchased it and submitted a letter of intent for the transformation.

The couple’s proposals for the historic building have been approved by the Roswell Historic Preservation Commission after department meetings in May and June.

Roswell’s Campbell Cottage (Photo by Michael Strong)

“The building has been around since the late 1800s and has not been kept in great shape,” Perry Pettett said. “We purchased the property with the intention of making it an important part of the historic Roswell district once again.”

The couple initially intended for the property to become a small cottage inn, serving as a bed-and-breakfast. It would provide overnight lodging for guests as well as off-street parking for meals.

Most the 3,000-square-foot acreage comes from the back side of the house, which would serve as a sizeable parking lot. But the Pettetts changed their bed-and-breakfast plans and are now focusing on making the building into a small cafe and bookstore, which will serve coffee, lunch and desserts.

“We believe that our coffee shop will be a great addition to Canton Street,” Sandra Pettett said. “Since it is surrounded by restaurants and stores, it will be a great place for people visiting historic Roswell to stop and take a break.”

There will be minimal exterior changes made to the building in order to preserve the residential character of the 1920s the building has maintained.

There will also be no increase to the building’s footprint, according to the couple’s letter of intent presented at a Roswell city meeting. In order to be granted approval by the Roswell Historic Preservation Commission, the Pettetts were given design recommendations by the city.

“We were told that the historic Queen Anne style windows in the front of the house should be preserved,” Sandra Pettett said. “They also recommended that the old style railing on the porch be saved and reused on the new porch we build for the cafe.”

The property currently features a metal warehouse behind the main building.

Property listings for the location describe the warehouse as a 1,600-square-foot structure that could be used for a number of utilities.

The Pettetts originally intended to conduct renovations on the warehouse in conjunction with the house being turned into a bed-and-breakfast. The extra building in the back of the property would have been used for three guest rooms with covered porches.

The couple changed their plans to remodel the warehouse and now intend to remove the structure completely. Their plans for the warehouse changed when the decision to turn the property into a cafe and bookstore was made.

“The current structure is a deterrent to the aesthetics of the entire development,” Perry Pettett said.

The new coffee shop has yet to receive a name and is expected to open in the fall of 2016, but the Pettetts have not provided a specific date yet.

The Campbell Cottage is located at 1088 Canton Street, just south of Woodstock Road and just north of Norcross Street in Roswell, Georgia.