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News Briefs: Fire chief retires; BeltLine & Atlanta Opera grant; Morningside Mile

Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker

Atlanta Fire Rescue Chief Joel Baker will official retire on Feb. 15.  During his tenure, Baker led the effort to ensure that the AFRD maintained its ISO Class 1 rating and international accreditation by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. He also led the development and management of department initiatives including the Atlanta Emergency Preparedness Institute and Citizens Fire Academy. Baker began his professional fire service career with the City of East Point Fire Department in 1986 and joined AFRD in 1988. First Deputy Chief Randall Slaughter will serve as Interim Fire Chief.

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and The Atlanta Opera are joint recipients of a Collaborative Innovation Grant from The Home Depot Foundation and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. The $51,000 grant will fund a new collaboration between the organizations to provide free operatic performances at locations along the BeltLine and in parks and schools along the trail, including “The Magic Flute” and “The Barber of Seville.”

The eighth annual Morningside Mile will be held Sunday, March 25, at 2 p.m. Participants will run down North Highland Avenue from the YWCA at 957 N. Highland to Morningside Village at 1424 N. Highland.  The Rock N. Highland Block Party will take place after the event. The race features three corrals to accommodate everything from very competitive runners vying for the cash prizes to kids, walkers, and strollers.  A new addition this year is a contest for youngsters—there will be prizes awarded for bike and strollers decorated to usher in spring. To register and find more information, visit

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