By John Schaffner

The Brookhaven Community Connection (BCC), which held its organizational meeting on April Fool’s Day, had its first official meeting May 12 and kicked off the group with a look at the history of the Brookhaven community through the eyes of one of its earliest settler families.

Kelly Brantley, an Edward Jones financial adviser who has spearheaded the formation of the BCC and is its president, told the 50 or so business owners, civic leaders and residents attending the morning meeting at Hudson Grille, “This is not a new idea.”

She said Brookhaven has lots of groups — zoning groups and homeowner associations — “but we felt there wasn’t a group where the business community was represented and homeowners could get together outside of their neighborhoods. That is how this got started.”

The Brookhaven Community Connection became official May 8, with the filing of the proper paperwork.

“Our vision is to have a group that connects the businesses in Brookhaven as well as the community,” Brantley said, “so that when it comes to dealing with DeKalb County, that Brookhaven exists. That we are more than just a stopover between Buckhead and Chamblee.”

She said the organization hopes to work on some branding and community involvement “so that Brookhaven has a heartbeat.”

Between April 1 and the first official meeting May 12, the group put together a board, and each member is charged with specific duties related to the growth and operation of the organization.

The board members and their responsibilities:

• President, Kelly Brantley, financial planner with Edward Jones Investments in Brookhaven.

• Vice president, Brian Long, Meridian Geomatics, surveying the boundaries of Brookhaven.

• Board secretary, Todd Banister, Jenny Pruitt & Associates.

• VP corporate community development, David Leaderman of Brookhaven Bank.

• VP residential community development, Kim Gokce, Community Radar.

• VP public relations and communications, Justin Epstein of Premier Public Relations.

• Treasurer, Jed Beardsley, a business and tax lawyer with Baker Donelson.

• VP sponsorship and fundraising, Brad Trussell, Allstate Insurance.

• VP membership, co-chairs Debbie Leonard Mayer, ReMax real estate agent, and Ronnie Mayer, Mayer Towing Service.

• VP programs and events, John Bartkus, Wireless Business Development.

Beardsley filed the paperwork to organize the BCC and establish it as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization, which allows the BCC to do politicking and lobbying. “To promote business in Brookhaven, we might have to do that,” he said. “We are a business league under the tax code.”

The organization is going to sponsor a high school or college competition to design its permanent logo. That was a suggestion of Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell as a way to get the younger generation involved in the organization and community.

The speakers May 12 were Albert Lynn Martin Jr. and daughter Lynda Martin Rule, associated with their family home, Goodwin House (

Al Martin has lived in Brookhaven and nearby Atlanta for more than 70 years. With his daughter, Martin talked about the history of Brookhaven and Goodwin House, the oldest existent house in DeKalb County, which dates to the 1830s. Martin’s family obtained land lots 239 and 240 (including much of Brookhaven and the Capital City Club) in 1929.

Goodwin House, which the Martin family owned, is open every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., and Martin usually is on hand to conduct tours.

The next meeting of the BCC will be June 9 at Hudson Grille, 4046 Peachtree Road in the Brookhaven Station shopping center. The speaker will be a representative of Oglethorpe University. The meetings begin socializing from 8:30 to 9 a.m., with by the meeting from 9 to 10 a.m.