Saturday was Mableton Day 2017, and the popular event had something for everyone. Music, dancers, classic cars, and food vendors were just a few of the attractions.
Mark Petry drove his 1955 Pontiac Fire Chief to the car show. Petry’s son and daughter-in-law, Drew and Jamie Petry, live near Nickajack Road in Mableton, and the family was on hand to exhibit the beautifully restored car. Petry talked about the connection of the 1955 Fire Chief with a popular 1950s situation comedy. “If you remember the old ‘I Love Lucy show’, there was a whole series where they drove to California, This was the car. I don’t mean this exact car. They made that model to commemorate that drive to California.”
Mark Petry said that unlike many people who own classic cars, he drives his car on the roads.
“We’ve had this car since 1999 … If you’re not a car person you may not understand what I’m about to say. It was a show car when I bought it, but it was what they call a ‘trailer queen’, it only went on and off a trailer, and it was not roadworthy. If you think about it, if you have a car that just goes on and off the trailer, it doesn’t have to run well. When I bought this from the guy that I bought it from, I told him ‘This car is going back on the road’.”
The community organization We Thrive in Riverside Renters Association, representing renters in the south Cobb area, had a table at the event. Monica Delancy, the founder and executive director of the group said, “We’re an association that helps mobilize renters that live in the Austell and Mableton area.” She said renters are the majority in the part of Cobb County within the 30168 zip code. “Also, our schools have a 40 percent renter by resident rate. So with that being said, there’s a need for an organization such as the renters association to mobilize, to get them involved in community issues, (like) schools and government, and also to help empower parents, to let them know that they’re the leaders of the community. So that’s what the renter association does.”
At the other side of the Mable House property, in front of a stage set up for Mableton Day, a youth dance troupe from the Beacon of Light Church in Austell, and representing young people of a wide age range, performed for the crowd.
The pastor of the church, Malcolm Lewis, and his wife Nedra, were there to support the dancers. Both of them said that Mableton Day was an important event to build a sense of community. Nedra Lewis said, “I think it’s a really special event to bring the community together in oneness and in unity and encourage one another as well as the businesses of the surrounding area.”
Pastor Malcolm Lewis and Nedra Lewis — photo by Larry Felton Johnson
Civic organizations active in Mableton and the surrounding community were on hand, too. At the Austell Community Task Force table, Tamisha Peterson said, “Austell Community Task Force is all about uplifting the community. Also letting people know what’s going on as far as zoning, and other kinds of interesting things … new developments that are coming up. We just got Six Flags Drive’s name changed to Riverside Parkway. So big or little, whatever changes there are. When we have candidates, we invite them into the community. Then we have our annual Back to School Jam, where we give out free school supplies.”
She said ACT works with other community organizations to get the word out about what’s going on in the area.
The South Cobb Lions Club has also been very active in Mableton, and is involved in many social support efforts and community improvement projects.
Barry Krebs, who’s been with the club for four years, said the club is active in the Adopt-a-Mile program. He displayed the Keep Georgia Beautiful award the club won in 2016, and the Keep America Beautiful Community Improvement award the South Cobb Lion’s Club received in Washington D.C. in 2016.
Kim Krebs added, “We do eye screenings. We’re trying to get into the Cobb County schools with the Spot machine, that actually can detect, at the age of six months and up, if there is an eye problem. And we try to tackle it early on. We assist people with eye exams, the cost for glasses, eye surgeries; we give to the Georgia Lighthouse.”
Lion’s Club member Frank Osukoya said that the club had assisted with the rehabilitation of a house for a senior citizen in Mableton.
The Cobb DOT was at Mableton Day to display a map with the status of the cycling and pedestrian multi-use trail networks in the county. They were on hand to both inform the community of the current state of existing and planned trails, and to receive input about where the neighborhoods in south Cobb would like new trails to be built.
Eric Meyer, a planning manager at the county DOT, said, “We’re out here talking to folks about how they use trails already. There are a lot of dog walkers here in Mableton … jogging, biking, things like that. And then we’re talking about what trails they currently use, and most folks use the Silver Comet, or [pointing at map] come over here to the Cumberland area and get on the river trails. We’ve had a lot of people talk about how they’d like to see the [Chattahoochee] river trail and the Mableton Parkway trail. So we’re just trying to see where people want investment, and some attention paid.”
He said a lot of people in the River Line part of Mableton had expressed an interest in the Connect the Comet effort. He also said that it was challenging to get foundation and business support for trails in Cobb County comparable to the support businesses provide in some other areas in metro Atlanta.
The tiny house movement has been in the news over the past few years. A tiny house is sometimes described as a house of between 100 and 400 square feet of floor space. Wesley Boozer and Joseph Wesley of Boozer Wesley Tiny Homes were on hand to advocate for these unique dwellings.
Boozer said that current zoning creates obstacles to building tiny houses, and his company intends to approach Cobb County to ask for changes that would make the construction of the houses feasible. He said, “This is our first public outing to gauge interest and take it to the next step.”
His business partner Joseph Wesley added, “With big companies like Berkshire-Hathaway now entering the market and announcing that they’re coming with a partner, Clayton Homes, and also Jim Chapman who’s a native Atlantan who’s been a builder, and he’s in tiny homes, there’s more than enough interest. But we’re concerned that they’re going to get away from the ethos of tiny homes, which is a small movement and not all about the money, which is where we got to where we are after the housing debacle in 2008, [that] unhoused and unhomed so many American families. So we want to help make more affordable housing, and more approachable housing, in the Mableton and southwest Cobb, and ultimately what they call the ABC triangle: Atlanta, Birmingham, and Chattanooga as well.”
Asked why Mableton Day is an important event for the community, Joel Cope, the president of Mableton Improvement Coalition said, “One of the things that we love about Mableton Day, in particular, is the fact that it brings together all different aspects of our community. People get to fellowship, you make new friends, see friends you’ve already got. And it’s all about community and building us all up together, whether it’s a business, or as neighbors. And so I think that’s the beautiful part about it. The weather cooperated very nicely today, which is another plus.”