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A Christian Devotion: Life lessons

Genesis 37: 26-28

Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. 


Reflection by Janet Derby
Once when my two sons were young, I bought a pair of toys of some kind – one green and one blue. I gave them both to Matthew and told him that he and Joshua should decide who got which one. I overheard him explaining to Joshua how cool the green on was and asking which one he wanted to have. Joshua, of course, chose the green one, which was exactly the outcome Matt desired. I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased with Matt’s diplomatic skills or concerned about how devious he was. That’s how I react to Judah in this passage. I want to give him credit for saving his younger brother’s life, but his reasoning is certainly less than ideal, and his behavior in general was not something to be praised. Yes, it all works out in the end, but this part of the story doesn’t give a lot of honorable examples. I was heard an interview recently which was a great deal more inspiring with a woman who is working in Pakistan to help immunize children against polio. This has become a major issue there because the U.S. used immunization workers to learn the location of Bin Laden, so these people are putting their lives at risk to help stop the polio outbreak. I very much doubt if I would be willing to do that for any cause, no matter how worthy. It certainly makes my volunteer efforts pale in comparison.  So, what can we learn from this story? Maybe it is that we do what we can under difficult circumstances by meeting people where they are and nudging them in a more positive direction. Or perhaps we simply learn that we are all flawed and God loves us and makes the best of things in spite of us.



Help us God, to stand up for what is right when that is not easy to do. Take our meager efforts and enable good to result from them. Amen. 

(Source: Pilgrimage United Church of Christ) 


Do you have a favorite prayer from your faith? Email Be sure to include “Faith” in the subject line. 

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American Legislative Exchange Council Honors Sen. Judson Hill with Legislator of the Year Award

Pictured with Sen. Hill are Steve Seale, Chairman of ALEC’s Private Enterprise Advisory Council, and Rep. Linda Upmeyer, Iowa House Majority Leader and ALEC National Chair.


Sen. Judson Hill (R – Marietta) received the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Legislator of the Year award last week at the organization’s 41st Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX. Sen. Hill received the award for his dedication to ALEC principles and support of Georgia’s ALEC delegation.

“Our nation was built on the core principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility, and to this day, our overall prosperity and well-being is still directly connected to these ideologies. I greatly appreciate the ALEC’s work to advance free market principles, and it is an honor to be recognized by this notable organization,” said Sen. Hill.

Sen. Hill was first elected to the Georgia Senate in 2004. He has served in several legislative delegations and senate committees including the Senate Finance, Insurance and Labor, and Health and Human Services Committees. In addition to serving as the ALEC Georgia public sector co-chair, Sen. Hill is the public sector chair of the ALEC Task Force on Health and Human Services.

“Sen. Hill has been a driving force in advancing free market principles in Georgia,” said Iowa Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, ALEC National Chair. “We are pleased to honor his tireless efforts with this award.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council is the country’s largest 501(c)(3) nonpartisan voluntary membership organization of state legislators. The organization fosters relationships between private and public sector members from around the country to develop best practice solutions to various state issues.


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Superintendent Chris Ragsdale Presents a State of The Cobb County School District

On Monday we are expecting somewhere north of 106,000 students to arrive in our schools, and that number will gradually inch upward over the first few weeks until it hits a likely 110-111,000. The operating budget you approved last month is based on a projected enrollment of 111,459, but that includes three charter schools, pre-K and the Deveroux Center.

With this Board meeting occurring so close to the first day of school, I wanted to take a few moments to brief you on the preparations we have made, many of which you have facilitated:


  • In June, the Board voted to adopt and fund mathematics instructional materials for all schools and we are pleased to announce that we have received and delivered the teacher and student materials in time for the start of the school year.  There are a few supplemental components that are still being processed and the 8th grade materials were the latest to arrive at the district’s warehouse, so they will be in schools at any moment now.
  • In June, more than 400 certified staff participated in the Teachers Leading Cobb Forward Conference which focused on teaching STEM concepts, instructional strategies to support students with disabilities, and digital teaching technologies.
  • More than 600 new teachers were inducted and provided 4 days of training and preparation materials.
  • On July 22nd & 23rd, more than 600 principals and administrators attended the district Leadership Kickoff at Kennesaw Mountain High School, and heard from several legends in education and our community, including Sen. Johnny Isakson, state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, former principal Carole Kell, former Board member Betty Gray, and Marietta Daily Journal publisher Otis Brumby III.
  • On Wednesday, more than 7,500 certified staff participated in a district-wide pre-planning professional learning day focused on increasing our intentionality about learning engagement.
  • More than 190 assessments were developed for the Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) as part of the new Teacher & Leader Evaluation instrument.  The first administration of pre-tests is scheduled for January.

Human Resources:

  • As of Wednesday afternoon, our Human Resources team had hired 821 certified staff, 297 classified, and 217 parapros, a total of 1,335 hires. These numbers are likely to increase slightly by the end of the week, and we anticipate being approximately 99 percent staffed by the start of school.
  • This is a remarkable achievement by our employment staff, especially as this hiring took place simultaneously with the implementation of a new Payroll/Human Resources system.
  • The certified hires include 330 additional teaching positions approved by the Board with the new budget, which will help to lower our student-teacher ratio by approximately one student per class district-wide.

Financial Services:

  • As mentioned, Financial Services is in the process of converting to a new payroll system and the project is on schedule.
  • The new system will convert the district to bi-weekly and semi-monthly payrolls, which employees tend to prefer.
  • The new system also automates several previously manual tasks, by providing online earnings statements, leave requests, mileage reimbursements, and other financial forms.
  • All local school activity funds now will be audited by the outside firm Mauldin & Jenkins beginning this year.
  • All school bookkeepers have been trained.
  • And all school cafeterias are up to speed and ready for students.
  • Last year the district served more than 15 million meals.


  • Tomorrow, August 1st, our school bus drivers will conduct a practice run for kindergarten and first grade students and their parents. The practice run will acclimate the youngest riders to the school bus routine and give parents assurance that the buses are the safest form of transportation to and from school.
  • Students will be allowed to carry water on buses, as long as the container has a screw-on lid, during the months of August and September as long as temperatures reach or exceed 90 degrees.
  • Transportation staff will be on hand at the Sneak-a-Peeks and Meet and Greets to assist families with their bus routes.
  • Transportation again will be using solid yellow tags to be placed on the book bags of students 8-and-under to identify our young riders and ensure they are received by a parent/guardian at the bus stop.
  • We still have a shortage of about 50 drivers at this time, which is a little higher than normal. We have enough retainer drivers to cover bus runs, and Field Coordinators will be driving to make sure all routes are covered.
  • Teachers and parapros will be riding elementary routes the first two weeks of school to assist in safe student delivery at bus stops.
  • Bus Routes have been posted online and at schools since July 21st, and staff continues to review and update year round.
  • We also have a Transportation Phone Bank in place since July 21st, to take stakeholder calls regarding bus routes and assist parents during the first three weeks of school.


  • This summer 37 total SPLOST projects were started, impacting 44 district sites.
  • Projects included Painting; Flooring; Kitchen Modifications; Lighting Retrofit; Fire Suppression; Resilient Athletic Flooring Installation; HVAC; Playground Equipment; Paving; Bus Canopies; Fryer Replacement; and Cooler/Freezer Condenser Replacement.
  • As of Monday, 32 of 37 projects will be complete.
  • Of the five remaining projects, three will be completed within the next month, and the other two major projects, at Teasley Elementary and Wheeler High, are ongoing.


  • Summer is the busiest time for our Maintenance Department, and while students and staff are out of the school buildings, Maintenance performs many preventive measures to help ensure systems run as needed.
  • Systems tested include: fire alarms, security systems, HVAC and hot water heaters.
  • Maintenance also has been active consulting on the numerous SPLOST construction projects and inspecting work to ensure it meets CCSD design standards.
  • Since July 7, Maintenance has responded to more than 3,800 work orders submitted by schools and other facilities.
  • More than 2,600 of those work orders have been closed out.
  • Since July 7, grounds crews have been working seven days a week beautifying and maintaining the district’s 3,000 acres of grounds, as well as repairing cracked sidewalks and filling potholes in school driveways and parking lots.
  • And as always, HVAC repairs and replacements are guaranteed each summer. At least five schools were serviced just this week, and all will be up and running by the time students arrive.


  • Document cameras have been added so that they are now in all schools, and they are consistent from school to school.
  • Providing microphone for audio/visual systems in classrooms to allow teachers to more readily engage with students by recording lessons and providing a means for students to access lessons outside of class time.
  • The district has launched iPTV, a network-based internal video system. iPTV already has been used to broadcast a live pre-planning event to thousands of teachers at 16 locations across the district.

Chief of Staff/Communications:

  • The Communications Department and web developer Lee Hill are implementing a new design for the school district web site that is much cleaner in appearance, and is much more user friendly. Information is now labeled in such a way that it is much easier for parents and the public to find what they are looking for. Eventually, school web sites will be converted to a similar look.
  • Student folders and the Parent Information Guide have been designed, printed and delivered to all schools – one per student and one per teacher. They will go home with students next week.”

The past two weeks have been active for this Board member with all of the events, presentations, student orientation, and school Meet & Greet.

Talking with Principals and teachers there seems to be a breath of fresh air and a great deal of enthusiasm for  the coming school year.  Also, parents who have participated in the Meet & Greet seem to have positive expectation for this school year.

Some of this enthusiasm is due to the planning and actions of our Executive Cabinet which has done things different in planning the implementation for this school year.

As expected, there will be issues during the first few days, but lets all work together to make adjustments that benefit the student.

Debbie Randazzo, Director of Internal Compliance for the CCSD Financial Services division, received the 2014 Pinnacle Award from the International Association of School Business Officials (ASBO).

The ASBO International Pinnacle Awards were established to recognize outstanding practices and new ideas that result in significant contributions to school entities or the profession of school business management. This is a very important achievement in that this award recognizes innovation in the area of school finance.

Ms. Randazzo successfully coordinated the implementation of the Financial Services University last year to provide an online financial tool for Principals and Administrators to utilize. The Financial Services University provides easy access to financial procedures, processes and training and is accessed from the main school district website. During the year, this university was presented to the Board and school district leadership and has received positive input from district staff and other financial organizations throughout the State of Georgia.

Chief Financial Officer Brad Johnson said, “Very few individuals receive this award and we are very proud of Ms. Randazzo and the detailed accounting work that she performs on a consistent, daily basis.”

Ms. Randazzo will officially receive the honor and a award check for $1,000 during the 2014 ASBO conference this fall in Orlando, FL.

(Source: The newsletter of David Banks. See more at:


SPLOST funds help keep stormwater draining properly

A before and after of work completed on Clubland Drive in Indian Hills Subdivision.

Proper roadway storm water drainage is essential to keeping roads and highways safe for traveling and protecting property. When it rains, storm water needs to be directed into appropriate ditches, channels and pipe systems so the runoff will flow to natural streams and rivers. If this does not happen, many problems can arise including ponding, sinkholes, localized flooding, erosion, sedimentation of sensitive waterways and even damage to private property.

Special Local Option Sales Tax funding is used for drainage projects to identify problems and implement solutions including replacing failing pipes, failing catching basins, redefining drainage ditches, pipe lining and site specific treatments.

An intense summer storm in July 2012 caused a 20-foot section of drainage pipe, under Clubland Drive in the Indian Hills subdivision, to separate, causing catastrophic damage and dangerous conditions. The emergency project took three weeks to complete and cost $130,000.

For information about transportation projects in Cobb County, click here or visit www.cobbdot.organd click on 2011 SPLOST tab.

(Source: Cobb County Government)

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US Senate nominee David Perdue to Speak at August 2 Cobb County Republican Party Breakfast

David Perdue

US Senate nominee David Perdue will speak at the August 2014 Breakfast for the Cobb County Republican Party on Saturday, August 2, from 8:15 to 10am at the Cobb County Republican Party headquarters, 799 Roswell St, Marietta.
The breakfast buffet opens at 8:15, and the program begins at 8:45. Admission is $10 per person.  There is no extra charge for breakfast or coffee.
For more information, please contact Joe Dendy at 770-820-6545.


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Zoning meetings scheduled for August 19

Every month the Cobb County Zoning Division prepares information, which provides analysis and staff recommendations for all rezoning, special land use permit and land use permit requests. These items are presented to the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners for their review, recommendation and consideration. 

The Board of Commissioners will hear zoning cases 9 a.m., TuesdayAug. 19

All meetings begin at 9 a.m. at the Board of Commissioners building at 100 Cherokee Street, second floor meeting room, Marietta. To view a list of cases scheduled to be heard visit

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SPLOST passes 4-1; Special tax headed to November ballot, voters

Bob Ott


Tuesday’s runoff elections set up several choices for voters on November’s ballot, and the Cobb Board of Commissioners added one more Tuesday night: a potential one percent special sales tax.

Commissioners voted 4-1, with Bob Ott opposed, to put a six-year special purpose local option sales tax before voters in November.

Several changes were made late Tuesday night to the list of projects to be funded by the SPLOST, which is expected to raise $750 million over its duration. Among the changes were a removal of a $72.5 million dollar project for intersection and pedestrian improvements along Cobb Parkway from the “tier two” section of the list, a move suggested by Chairman Tim Lee.

The $72.5 million line item was one of several in the SPLOST project list cited by critics as being connected to a controversial bus rapid transit project.

Initially, the BRT project was on the SPLOST list, but after receiving public comment on the issue, the commissioners decided to remove the project from the list. Lee reiterated the BRT absence from the list during the meeting.

“The project in its entirety has been removed from any paperwork, any project list,” Lee said.

Still, Lee recommended removing the $72.5 million earmark from the list before the vote.

Commissioner Lisa Cupid suggested another $60 million line item for improvements to Cobb Parkway be removed from a list of projects to be funded if federal, state or other funds become available. Cupid said she wanted the line item removed because constituents expressed concern the project could be used to fund BRT in the future, including some residents who made this argument during the public comment portion of the meeting.

In the July 2 draft of the SPLOST project list, the $60 million line item included a reference to BRT in its description, but in the July 15 draft, the reference to BRT was removed. Cupid said the lack of clarity regarding the project and its relationship to the proposed BRT gave her pause.

“Constituents shouldn’t have to play detective in understanding our line items, and I feel that is what they’ve done to uncover that BRT was referenced with one particular line item, which has not been removed, which is a $60 million project,” she said.

Lee argued the $60 million was put on the list by the Georgia Department of Transportation and it is necessary and unrelated to the BRT. Still, Cupid encouraged the board to remove the earmark before the vote.

“I’m not trying to diminish the need for improvements to the intersection beyond BRT,” Cupid said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that it was included in the SPLOST list with BRT included in that section prior to that. And I’m not the one that needs to be convinced at the end of the day; the voters are. And by now, there is overwhelming concern by them on things that have been changed that referenced BRT that no longer reference BRT.”

Ott and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell agreed with Cupid, and before the vote, the project was removed.

Commissioner Helen Goreham, along with Lee, disagreed with the change.

“I support the SPLOST. I don’t support this change,” Goreham said. “I will vote to support the intergovernmental agreement, but I do not support a change that has no basis, and for us to act out of some fear that has been created.”

Despite the removal of these two projects, Ott still voted against the measure because he believes the project list contains too many unnecessary items.

“I think (the project list) strays too far from special purpose. There’s too many projects on there that I don’t think are needs,” he said.

Before commissioners voted on whether to put the SPLOST before voters, they approved an intergovernmental agreement, which described how the funds raised by the SPLOST would be divided between Cobb County’s six cities and the county itself. Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the agreement.

After the agreement’s approval, commissioners began discussion of the SPLOST project list and the changes they would like to make. However, the county attorney, Deborah Dance, informed commissioners the project list was included in the intergovernmental agreement; the subsequent vote was solely to decide whether to put the issue before voters. Learning the $60 million line item had been approved, Cupid called for a revote to revisit the intergovernmental agreement, which commissioners agreed to do, 4-1, with a frustrated Lee opposed.


(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Ricky Leroux July 23, 2014. View the original MDJ article HERE.) 

Runoff Election Results as of 8:20 am

In case you called it a night before the results were tallied, here are the unofficial results from Tuesday’s races as of 8:20am, reprinted from The Marietta Daily Journal. Click HERE to see the original MDJ post


Unofficial Cobb County and State of Georgia results as of 8:20 a.m.

NOTE: Provisional ballots are NOT included.

State Results

United States Senator, Chambliss – REP

158 of 159 Counties Reporting

J. H. ‘JACK’ KINGSTON 49.12%, 237,190

DAVID A. PERDUE 50.88%, 245,723

Total votes – 482,913

State School Superintendent – REP

158 of 159 Counties Reporting

MICHAEL L. ‘MIKE’ BUCK 49.91%, 198,531

RICHARD L. WOODS 50.09%, 199,257

Total votes – 397,788

State School Superintendent – DEM

158 of 159 Counties Reporting


VALARIE D. WILSON 54.38%, 73,590

Total votes – 135,315

U.S. Representative, District 11 – REP

4 of 4 Counties Reporting

R. L. ‘BOB’ BARR 33.94%, 17,794

BARRY D. LOUDERMILK 66.06%, 34,641

Total votes – 52,435

Cobb County Results

United States Senator, Chambliss – REP

145 of 145 Precincts Reporting

J.H. ‘JACK’ KINGSTON 46.26%, 21,827

DAVID A. PERDUE 53.74%, 25,359

Total votes – 47,186

State School Superintendent – REP

145 of 145 Precincts Reporting

‘MIKE’ BUCK 46.50%, 17,533

RICHARD L. WOODS 53.50%, 20,175

Total votes – 37,708

State School Superintendent – DEM

145 of 145 Precincts Reporting


VALARIE D. WILSON 42.77%, 2,610

Total votes – 6,103

U.S. Representative, District 11 – REP

73 of 73 Precincts Reporting

R. L. ‘BOB’ BARR 40.66%, 9,314

BARRY D. LOUDERMILK 59.34%, 13,591

Total votes – 22,905

Cobb Commission-Dist 1-R

43 of 43 Precincts Reporting

W. ‘BILL’ BYRNE 38.49%, 5,960

‘BOB’ WEATHERFORD 61.51%, 9,523

Total votes – 15,483

Cobb School Board-Dist 2-R

19 of 19 Precincts Reporting

TIMOTHY ‘TIM’ STULTZ 29.55%, 1,271

SUSAN THAYER 70.45%, 3,030

Total votes – 4,301

Superior Court Judge, Cobb Circuit (Bodiford)

145 of 145 Precincts Reporting

ANN B. HARRIS 61.67%, 30,993


Total votes – 50,253

Acworth Alderman

3 of 3 Precincts Reporting

BRETT NORTH 52.19%, 656

C. KEVIN WIGINGTON 47.81%, 601

Total votes – 1,257

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Vote today!


Hey East Cobbers! Don’t forget to vote today!

East Cobb voters return to the polls July 22 to help determine nominees for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and State School Superintendent. If you have questions about your eligibility to vote or where to vote, go to


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SPLOST Hearing Scheduled Tomorrow

A public hearing for the SPLOST will be held at 7 p.m.July 22, at the Board of Commissioners meeting room, second floor, 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta.

For more information, go to


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