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Give Johns Creek some love. It's been a long year in the media for the north Atlanta suburb thanks to one famous resident.
There has been a lot of coverage in 2017 of famed singer R. Kelly - who this time last year was celebrating his forthcoming Christmas album in an interview with Melissa Ruggieri - and the specifics of his living situation with a group of women who share his Johns Creek home. An extensive feature on Buzzfeed told a strange tale of alleged brainwashing and kidnapping and raised the possibility that Kelly "held women against their will in a cult" in the home. After the Buzzfeed break, the story was covered by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Complex, Mic, USA Today, Variety, NBC Washington and many others.
Most of the stories mentioned Johns Creek, and it's never flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence as "sex cult" and "brainwashing."
The city's mayor, Mike Bodker, is the first to admit that he was shocked to hear the news. "We're all sensitive to anything that feels like human trafficking. As a police force, we'd be doing even more to investigate any allegations in that vein. In this particular case, we've mostly handed everything over to the FBI, and are in a supporting role from here."
So, let’s offer the world a little more information about Johns Creek. Here are some things you should know about the city north of Atlanta, wedged between Roswell, Alpharetta, Duluth and Norcross, some of it straight from Mayor Bodker:
When the story broke, the mayor asked, "Who's R. Kelly?"
"When the story broke, I had to ask 'who's R. Kelly?'" Bodker says. Though he has gotten to know many famous residents during his time as mayor, Bodker had never even heard of the singer prior to the controversy. "I don't know a thing about pop music. Not a thing."
There are other famous residents of Johns Creek.
In addition to R. Kelly's home, Johns Creek is also home to comedian Jeff Foxworthy, singer and actor Usher Raymond, television personalities Karen Greer and Russ Spencer, "a dozen" active Falcons, Braves and Hawks, as well as Hall of Famers John Smoltz and Leo Mazzone. TLC's Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopez lived in Johns Creek prior to her death, as did singing legend Whitney Houston.
Mayor-ing here is (supposed to be) part-time work.
You'll have to forgive an overworked government official for not having taken the time to listen to the “Space Jam” soundtrack. In Johns Creek, like in most other cities in Georgia, the office of mayor is budgeted as a part-time job. Of course, Bodker points out it's the kind of part time job that requires 40 or more hours each week.
But 40 hours spent in Johns Creek each week are 40 little blessings.
"People who first hear of Johns Creek because of R. Kelly should stick around to find out that residents of Johns Creek have one of the highest average incomes in the state. And that the city is known for its schools, and for ranking as the safest city in Georgia, and among the top safety cities nationwide," says Bodker.
Been at a left hand turn with its own lane, and gotten the yellow flashing yield arrow?
Johns Creek says you're welcome for the convenience. "We're a great place to pilot programs in Georgia. We were the pilot city for the yellow flashing lights for left hand turns that has since spread around the rest of the state. We're open to trying things out here," says Bodker.