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Falcons prepare for Minicamp

Falcons prepare for Minicamp

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga -- The OTAs are winding down at the Atlanta Falcons' headquarters in Flowery Branch.  The voluntary off season workouts have been well attended and the participation looks to be paying off.

With new Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, the team has spent the past few weeks digesting changes that are being put in place for the 2012 season.  Wide receiver Harry Douglas is glad the changes are taking place this year rather than last summer, when the NFL teams were locked out.  Douglas has spent time working special teams as a punt returner during OTAs and says "I did it some during my roookie season and fell in love with it."  It will be something to watch for during training camp.

Meanwhile, Head Coach Mike Smith was pleased with the level of participation and what the team has accomplished during the OTAs and says the upcoming Minicamp will be a continuation of what has been taking place the past few weeks.

Appraiser: School board shortfall data released weeks ago

DECATUR, Ga. -- The DeKalb County School System basically lost $12 million in projected revenue in what appeared to be the wink of an eye. But the county agency that crunches the numbers says the school board may have overlooked numbers that had been available for weeks.

The revenue projections are based on data gathered in downtown Decatur at the tax assessor's office. It's no secret that property assessments are down, which is why property tax revenue is down.

But on Monday night, school board officials said they got new data -- just in the previous day or so -- that drastically reduced those projections.

But that data was available weeks ago, says the man behind the data, Dekalb chief appraiser Calvin Hicks.

Atlanta Chef/Restaurateur Ford Fry Hosts Fourth Annual JCT. Kitchen Attack of the Killer Tomato Fest

Atlanta Chef/Restaurateur Ford Fry Hosts Fourth Annual JCT. Kitchen Attack of the Killer Tomato Fest

ATLANTA -- On Sunday, July 22 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., JCT. Kitchen & Bar is hosting an event to celebrate some of  the South’s best chefs, farmers and mixologists, who will join forces to benefit Georgia Organics in the fourth annual JCT. Kitchen Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival.

Tickets are now on sale and cost $60 per person ($50 for Georgia Organics members). Beginning June 15, tickets will cost $70 per person. Tickets can be purchased online through Xorbia. A total of 1,400 tickets will be available for attendees. Last year’s festival raised close to $40,000 for Georgia Organics.

WASTE WATCHERS | DeKalb Schools spent $175K to study staffing, salaries

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- As part of 11Alive News' ongoing commitment to investigating potential government waste, we decided to take a closer look at the DeKalb County School system's decision to spent more than $175,000 to hire an outside company to analyze staffing and salaries in the central office.

WASTE WATCHERS | Tax dollar waste investigations

Some parents suggested the study was a needless expense for a school system facing an estimated $85 million budget shortfall.

"I can't imagine running a school system without having appropriate accounting officials who keep track of the money," said parent Eva Atkins.

District spokesman Walter Woods said the school board approved the expense back in November.

Woods said it's the first time in a decade the school system has taken a top to bottom look at its staffing and salaries.

Smoothie King raising money for Bert's Big Adventure

Smoothie King raising money for Bert's Big Adventure

ATLANTA -- Smoothie King locations across metro Atlanta are spending the entire month of June raising money for Bert's Big Adventure.

PHOTOS | Bert's Big Adventure 2012

Customers who give $1 to the non-profit will receive a $2 "bounce back" coupon from Smoothie King.

The goal is to raise at least $5,000 by the end of the month.

Bert's Big Adventure, which was founded by Bert Weiss of Q100's "The Bert Show," sends children with chronic and terminal illnesses on an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World.

Metro Atlanta has a number of Smoothie King shops:

* 12280 Houze Road
* 5530 Windward Parkway, Suite 320

* 1591 South Lumpkin Street
* 2361 West Broad Street

DeKalb schools budget an extra $12 million in red

DeKalb schools budget an extra $12 million in red

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- The DeKalb County School Board members received shocking news on Monday night that the system faces another $12 million dollars in cuts on top of the $73 million dollar hole they've spent weeks trying to fill.

The panel tabled a vote on the budget after learning the news they now have to consider $85 million in budget cuts.

"Based on some new figures from the county that the tax digest would actually be worse," said Walter Woods. 

"The original projection was 6 percent lower, when it's actually 9 percent lower," Woods said. "We'd have to account for another $12 million in the budget."

That now brings the total budget gap to $85 million; but who does it affect?

Here are some of the areas already on the chopping block:

Fernbank Science Center back on chopping block

Fernbank Science Center back on chopping block

STONE MOUNTAIN -- The Fernbank Science Center is back on the DeKalb School district chopping block.

As of Monday morning, hours before the scheduled budget vote, school officials want to cut $3.2 million of the $4.7 million Fernbank Science Center budget.

"The Science Center would remain open as an educational resource for children to learn firsthand about science and nature," said Walter Woods, Chief Communications Officer for the DeKalb County School District.

The system must trim the budget by $73 million from the current budget and proposed closing the 40-year-old Fernbank Science Center two weeks ago.

Fernbank Science Center is operated independent of Fernbank Museum of Natural History, which is not a part of the DeKalb County School District.