Iron Owl




Government Meetings and Records Are Open


KENNESAW, Ga. — It’s up to elected officials to prove they can meet in secret legally, not for the public to prove those meetings are illegal, Cobb County citizens were told at a Government Transparency Workshop at Kennesaw State University.

“Everything is open unless there is an exception,” said Jim Zachery, editor of the Valdosta Daily Times. “So, the presumption in Georgia law is that it’s always open. The strong public policy of the state of Georgia is open government.

“So that there has to be an exception that allows them to go back there behind closed doors, there has to be an exception that allows them to have those executive sessions and they have to be able to cite the legal exception. You don’t have to prove that something should be open, they have to prove that it can be closed.”

Zachery, a member of the board for the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, and fellow board member Ken Foskett, investigations editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, conducted the workshop Monday night at KSU. It was sponsored by the foundation and KSU’s campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

They spoke about how to use Georgia’s open meetings and open record laws to learn what is happening inside your local and state governments. They explained how to: access public records for information on operations, attend public meetings where elected officials make decisions that affect the public and challenge public officials when they don’t comply with open government laws.

Zachery said not everyone is aware that the burden of proof is on the government to show that meetings should be closed or records denied.  In fact, he added, Georgia is one of the few states in the United States that imposes a real penalty for violating the open government acts.

“In most states the penalty for violating the act is exactly like this [makes shame on you finger gesture],” Zachery said. “In Georgia first violation can cost you $1,000, the second violation in the same twelve-month period can cost you $25,000 as can subsequent violations and they can be concurrent.”

Ken and Jim
Ken Foskett, left, and Jim Zachery, right, are conducting a government transparency workshop at Kennesaw State University. (Photo by Joseph Pieper)

And there are only a few exceptions that the government can make to deny public access to a meeting or minutes.

“There are largely three exceptions. There a few more exceptions codified throughout the law, but we usually sort of broad stroke that by saying that it’s personnel, litigation and real estate,” Zachery said. “It’s important that you know that the law is much more specific than those three things.

“So that not all personnel (issues) can be talked about in executive session, not all things that are called litigation can be talked about in executive session and not all real estate can be talked about in executive session.”

This means the government can only use these three areas as exceptions if it does not pertain to public policy. If it involves public policy then that means it’s the public’s business and it is supposed to be open to them.

“Records are public because they belong to you, because government officials are doing your business,” Foskett said. “So, what they put in documents, what they keep in their cabinet files belongs equally to you as it does to them.”

Zachery said that some of the best advice he could give when dealing with record custodians and elected officials is to be nice and reasonable.

“You don’t need to go in pounding on desk and demanding and saying the word pursuant,” Zachary said. “Saying somebody’s name, being polite—saying please, saying thank you.

“And you know what all record custodians have in common and all elected officials have in common? They’re human beings and you treat them bad and they are going to wrestle. When they could make it available to you like that, they are going to take that three days, just because you were not a nice person.”


Local church ministry expansion plans include Kennesaw State

Local church ministry helps students deal with stress


LITHONIA, Ga. – Local church-based organization, Joshua Generation Campus Ministry, has plans to expand their local organization over the next five years to include chapters within Georgia universities, including Kennesaw State.

Based on its constitution, the purpose of the ministry is to equip college students with the drive to become leaders by preparing them to pursue and fulfill God’s purpose on their college campuses.

The leaders of Joshua Generation hope to increase support and membership through their future expansion plans. Their goal is to establish a chapter on every Georgia university campus and to have an affiliated student for each chapter.

Georgia State University was the first chapter to be established, with leaders planning to move on to Kennesaw State University next.

“Joshua Generation helps students by making sure they are doing well in all aspects,” said Joshua Generation director Holbert White.

Having provided guidance and support for struggling college students for 26 years, some of the group’s key values include accountability, communication and integrity.

Students receive support through church-based teachings

Located at Cross Culture Church in Lithonia, Joshua Generation was established by assistant pastor Gregg Johnson in 1990.

One of the main differences between Joshua Generation and other support groups is the fact that it’s church-based. All of the ministry’s themes and messages are backed by Godly advice and scriptures.

Other differences include the willingness of its leaders to come up with new ways to help students and the level of accountability kept in place there.

“Level of accountability refers to staff members making sure that students have something that is guiding them through both the easy and the difficult decisions that they have to face in life, as a college student, while on their respective campuses,” White said.

Joshua Generation members support one another

Joshua Generation helps its students in various aspects, including personal life, school, relationships, finances and spirituality. Kennesaw State University student, Angelina Allen, is a part of Joshua Generation and said she loves the ministry.


Angelina Allen (Submitted photo)

Allen said she loves the care and effort put forth by the staff members. When Allen is going through a hardship, she said she feels most comfortable talking to Holbert White’s wife, Nicole White. When they aren’t speaking over the phone, Nicole White and Allen update each other on current events after church on Sundays.

Allen said another benefit of being a part of the group is having a family who will always lift her up in prayer and being able to do the same for other students.

Support and messages come in many forms

Most outside communication is done through the social app, GroupMe, where students and staff post encouraging links and prayer requests.

“We always encourage each other,” Allen said. “We fellowship with one another and have good food and great conversations.”

Allen said she loves when staff members come to visit Kennesaw.

During the spring 2016 semester, Holbert and Nicole White made bi-weekly trips to Kennesaw State University to sit and talk with Joshua Generation students. The meetings involved food and message-guided games. The messages covered a variety of topics, including finances, romantic relationships, time management and career paths.

In addition to their expansion plans, the leaders of Joshua Generation want to host annual retreats, hold weekly bible studies via Skype and to, generally, become more prevalent on college campuses.

Local church ministry helps students deal with stress

KENNESAW, Ga. – Church-based organization, Joshua Generation Campus Ministry, assists college students seeking help for stress management.

Kennesaw State University psychologist, Dr. Josh Gunn, described stress as a normal human experience that everyone experiences differently.

Gunn said there is good stress that motives people to get things done and bad stress, which causes people to feel bad. Bad stress can cause lack of sleep, lack of motivation, over or under eating and irritability.

“Unfortunately, students stop doing exactly what will help them relieve stress when they start to feel stressed,” Gunn said.

One of Joshua Generation’s services to its students includes ways to learn how to relieve stress.

Gunn said different things can relieve stress, such as exercise, a balanced diet and good sleeping habits. Additionally, Gunn said social interaction with friends and support groups can also help with stress relief.

Joshua Generation is a Christian support group that caters to the needs of college-aged students. Joshua Generation director, Holbert White, said there are currently around 30 students that the group caters to.

Kennesaw State University student, Angelina Allen, is one of the 30 students benefiting from the group. Allen said she loves Joshua Generation because she feels it’s a safe place where she can always be herself.

Musical engineers get lost in mix


KENNESAW, Ga. — A great song simply has the right sound to our human ear.

It is almost as if a part of the brain is being massaged when the right set of notes resonate our eardrums. Good song quality is determined by a couple of different elements: the right beat, correct vocals, tempo, frequency and so on.

The average fan might not take into consideration who cohesively pieces together these elements into musical art. That is because the general public is not exposed to the reality of what makes a song great.

That person is the engineer.

In the realm of hip-hop and rap, producers have elevated themselves into stardom — almost as popular as the artist. Hearing a producer’s tag or seeing their credit on a song can give the track a greater appeal than the artist itself.

The big dogs in the Atlanta hip-hop scene include Metro Boomin, MikeWillMadeIt, Southside, Zaytoven, London On Tha Track and many others.

It is a phenomenon unlike in any other genre. So if producers are getting noticed like this now, why not engineers?

Atlanta has one of the more relevant music scenes in the country, especially in hip-hop. Atlanta could be the so-called epicenter of the hip-hop or rap genre.

Countless acts claim Atlanta as their throne: Future, Gucci Mane, Young Thug, T.I., 2 Chainz and Young Jeezy.

Around Georgia Tech University, known as Homepark, there are countless studios known nationwide for their contribution to the rap scene: Patchwerk Recording Studios, Hot Beats Studio, Zac’s Recording Studio, Icon Studios and so on.

According to Webster Dictionary, “An engineer is a person who has scientific training and who designs and builds complicated machines, systems, or structures.”

An audio engineer is in charge of shaping and controlling the sound. This includes recording, mixing, reproduction, reinforcement and manipulation of the sound.

Kori Anders (Submitted photo)

“An engineer is like the liaison in the studio between the creatives and getting their work recorded, mixed and mastered,” said Kori Anders, a veteran engineer from Patchwerk Recording Studios. “We are creative, but we are technical, so we bridge that gap between the creators of the music and being able to actually get it into a form that we can distribute to the world.”

It can take days to make sure a song is correctly edited to perfection — or mixed.

Usually, it does take multiple days or multiple sessions to get the sound just perfect, making for very meticulous work.

The unsung heroes of the entire rap scene could be the engineers. They have the ability to take a song from mediocrity and turn it into a chart-topping hit single.

Yet, there seems to be an under appreciation for these musicals inventors. Engineers are considered to be part of the behind-the-scene crowd, the same grouping as a producer or songwriter.

“Well, I think it is by design because most engineers that I know do not crave the limelight,” Anders said. “And, just by the nature of what we do, we do not need to be the center of attention.”

“I honestly do not know why producers have ended up getting so popular and in the spotlight,” said Dillon Lawter, a freelance engineer in Atlanta. “But, you know, engineering I feel like is such a nerdy aspect. I do not even know if people would consider that cool. But production, they were able to create an image for themselves where people became more accepting of it.”

Their work helps them land clients on a day-to-day basis. In regards to royalties in the musical world, the individuals who receive money from music are known as creatives. This includes talents such as, the artist, a songwriter or producer.

Engineers do not fall into the same category. The only money an engineer earns is from the initial base price they charge for mixing the song, and if they happen to be working at a studio full-time, they might also receive hourly pay.

Glenn “GT” Thomas is an engineer from Las Vegas, Nevada, who came to Atlanta to start his music career. He worked out of multiple studios in the city and currently calls Patchwerk Recording Studios his home.

“Once we get paid for whatever fee we give, it is over,” Thomas said. “That song could go 50 times platinum, and we do not get anything. All we get is, ‘Oh, you were the guy that worked on that?’ and a pat on the back. But a pat on the back does not feed your kid and wife. But you’re in there longer than the artist, longer than the producer, your’re in the studio longer than anyone. You know the song better than everyone, but once you get your fee, it is over.”

“I think the people that are compensated well are the top 10, the Tony Maserati’s, the Manny Marroquin’s,” Lawter said. “I feel like we are scraping by just to get people to notice us.”

Engineers are in charge of structuring the entire song and making sure every aspect is in-line with how the artist wants the song to sound. They are able to bring the artist’s vision to fruition and get it ready for the masses.

They put in countless amount of hours to perfect a track. Some engineers can spend marathon stretches etching out every detail to a song.

“Believe it or not, I am one of the quicker engineers,” Anders said. “So it can take anywhere from four to six hours, but, obviously, every song is different.”

Engineers are the backbone to the music industry. They are the cogs who keep the machine going. They are the blue-collar workers of the musical world.

“It is going to be blurred lines here shortly: We are going to be producers, we are going to be the artist,” Thomas said. “I see engineers as becoming one full package. We see artists making hits, we see how producers make hits, and we have the sonic aspect as well. So now it is like we have all three, and we will start seeing more engineers becoming artists and producers and we will be a face now. We will not be in the background.”

Food truck park gives community environment


ATLANTA — Food trucks are popping up all around big cities, but if one is looking for a spin on food trucks, then hold on tight.

The Atlanta Food Truck Park, which was established in 2012 by Sweet Auburn BBQ food truck owner Howard Hsu, is open for business. Families, friends and couples line up along the food trucks to indulge in barbecue, jambalaya or whatever their hearts desire.

The park’s four-acre location was originally an old hotel site The park offers a place to gather with friends, family and significant others.

With the park in its fifth year, locals and non-locals gather to make connections over food.

Bringing the community together

Food trucks are necessary because they bring the community together, said Atlanta Food Truck Park owner Tan Bowers.

“The concept of the Atlanta Food Truck Park is to create a small platform where families and couples enjoy each other’s company,” Bowers said. “The park has a very laid-back feel and is a great location to bring a small or large gathering. Open air dining is fun and people enjoy being able to eat under the rays of the sun or the twinkle of the stars.”

Alan Gorman and his girlfriend explained they do not like going to busy places like a restaurant. Gorman does not like being a part of big crowds, so that’s why he and his girlfriend chose to attend the food truck park instead, he said.

“It’s different,” said Gorman. “It isn’t the same things.”

The Atlanta Food Truck Park’s emphasis on community separates it from other parks.

The large facility provides long picnic tables, fire pits, a playground area, a covered stage and cool cafe lights locals and non-locals enjoy, which other parks may not have.

“Out here, you’re outside, and you can experience nature, but you’re in the city,” said Kristian Johnson, owner of Bailey Grace Boutique .

The collectiveness of the park keeps people coming back, Johnson said. The experience patrons feel should be welcoming as they get something special out of the park, Johnson said.

The Atlanta Food Truck Park is not a regular fast food restaurant or store that just anyone can enter said, Johnson.

This is especially true for food truck attendee Gorman and his girlfriend. He explained that since he does not enjoy eating at regular restaurants, the food truck park was the perfect date night for him and his girlfriend.

“The Atlanta Food Truck Park has been rated three consecutive years by Jezebel magazine as one of the top locations for a first date,” Bowers said.

Gorman said he always drives by the park located on Howell Mill Road because it’s conveniently located right down the street from where he lives.

With this in mind, people have become more receptive of the food truck industry. The success of food trucks, in general, has people flocking to not only to the Atlanta Food Truck Park, but to food truck events all over Atlanta.

But some visit the park not out of convenience, but because of other interests.

The park’s appeal

Food trucks have consistently been growing popular, so popular that they have been setting up shop outside local schools and stores, Bowers said.

Even though there are food trucks all over the state of Georgia, the Atlanta Food Truck Park is significantly different.

“It’s the first and only permanent food truck park in Atlanta,” Bowers said.

Food trucks provide not only a connection over food, but create a peaceful and kind energy, Bowers.

“To be able to actually speak to the creative mind behind your meal is a rarity even in fine dining, yet very common among food trucks,” Bowers said.

Bowers said she thinks people also enjoy the unique menu concepts, the fusions and intriguing combinations at the Atlanta Food Truck Park.

In the long run, the Atlanta Food Truck Park is a community. Families, couples and friends gather together to enjoy one another’s company by making connections over the love of food explained Bowers.

A growing industry

For Joshua Neeld and his family, the food truck park is even more special since they want to open a food truck themselves. He and his family came from Brunswick, Georgia, which doesn’t have market for food trucks, Neeld said.

They had heard through the Atlanta Street Food Coalition website about the Atlanta Food Truck Park. The Neeld family decided it was in their best interest to travel to Atlanta to check out how food trucks are run and how food trucks provide for their customers.

With 10 years of service industry experience, Neeld realized opening a food truck now would be the perfect time since there is no competition in Brunswick, Georgia.

“The entrepreneurship in the food truck industry is what makes me want to start a food truck,” Neeld said. “Starting your own little small business is what makes food trucks likable. Food trucks also bring a fun and festive feel. Having food trucks also located in a park makes it a little more open. There is a lot of variety and people get to try a lot of different food items in one spot.”

The food truck industry is one of the faster growing businesses in Georgia, Bowers said.

“Being a new industry to Atlanta, the resurgence helped the food truck industry here become the fastest growing small business segment in the state,” Bowers said.

According to the park’s website, the goal of the park was to find a location with good visibility and a good demographic.