TALLEST: You may have seen similar towers, but this one is Down Under. It's Sydney, Australia Tower, taken by Frank Sharp, the roving photographer, who writes about a trip to Australia and New Zealand below. Frank reports that Sydney Tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere with a great view from the 88the floor. It was completed in 1986 and has one million visitors per year. The Tower has a 35,000-gallon water tank on the top that acts as a stabilizer on windy days. The windows have three layers with the outer layer having the frame designed to prevent panes falling outward.

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Here's a glimpse at highlights of trip to Australia, New Zealand

(Editor's Note: Roving Photographer Frank Sharp and his wife, Pearl, have just returned from an Australia and New Zealand trip. Here are some of what he saw, sprinkled in with his amazing photographs. -eeb)

By Frank Sharp, Lawrenceville, Ga. | On December 31, we caught the American Airlines Boeing 747 to Los Angeles, then had the 15-hour flight to Australia. We saved $500 per ticket by buying them on this day rather than another day, probably because of the University of Georgia being in Rose Bowl the next day.

Once at Sydney, we had three days with so much to see in Sydney before boarding the cruise ship. We took the subway to the Promenade by the coast to see the greatest example of 20th century architecture, in modern expressionism, the Sydney Opera House, designed to look like a sailing ship with bellowing sails. It took 14 years to build and the architect, Dutchman Jorn Utzon, resigned before the building was completed in 1973.

The building sits out on a peninsula near the historic steel Sydney Harbor Bridge, built during the Great Depression. The bridge was built by 1,400 workers of which 16 were killed in accidents.

The temperature was in the 70s, since they are in their summer season, opposite to us in the Northern Hemisphere. Surprisingly, unlike Atlanta they have little pollution problems, so the air was clean and my head was as clear as a bell during our 14-day stay here "Down Under" in this paradise for allergy suffers!

Australia is the driest and flattest of the continents. For instance, there is a railroad track of about 350 miles that has not one curve in it. Australia depends heavily on exports of its farms with meat and dairy products. They got a big boost by the invention of the refrigerated ships in the 1880s.

We visited the world class Taronga Zoo Sydney, which has over 2,000 animals. Australia has unique animal and plant life not found anywhere else in the world. Their coat of arms features a kangaroo and Emu on its face.

A different view of the Sydney Opera House

We boarded our ship, the Norwegian Jewel bound for Melbourne. We choose the Botanical Gardens land excursion option to see Captain James Cook's cottage owned by his parents where he stayed when not at sea.

Next the cruise ship took two days to sail to New Zealand. We visited several ports there and enjoyed seeing the country's wonderful landscapes with its many waterfalls and fiords, like Norway.

At one port, Pictor, the dock was full of cut logs for lumber. The visitor center had free internet. The onboard Internet of the ship was 95 cents per minute! So we were cut off from the world for most of the length of the cruise. We had the BBC, MSNBC and FOX in-room TV but they didn't give the score of the Rose Bowl. So I learned from the Internet Café chief the score.

Later we visited Wellington, New Zealand's capitol, and took the cable cars up to top of mountains to an observation point. We also stopped at Napier, which in 1932 was devastated by an earthquake.

The young lady who now is prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, just recently had a baby. She, wittily said in an interview, that she was multifunctional!

Afterwards, we made a walking tour of the rebuilt city of Napier, constructed in the world-wide fashion of Art Deco that was the raging style between the World Wars. It was advocated by Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Many of the houses cost a million dollars or more each to build. We were lucky in having a guide very knowledgeable in architecture. It was a great trip!

Oh! What a difference a nickel can make in a lifetime

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher | You've heard the phrase that something can "turn on a dime?"

It's used to refer to a maneuver that can be performed by a moving vehicle or person within a small area or short distance, like turning a boat "on a dime."

Well, matters can turn on a nickel, too.

We cite no one less than Jordan Shenefield of Lilburn. Speaking to a Rotary Club recently, the Lilburn resident remembered when he was a student at Susquehanna College at Selinsgrove, in Central Pennsylvania.

Looking for a summer job, with some adventure in it, he applied at Glacier National Park, and to be safe, also at Yellowstone Park.

Wow! Two beautiful areas. Either of the two parks would provide a great summer.

Then he learned that the job at Glacier Park paid $1.10 an hour back in those days, and the job at Yellowstone Park paid $1.15 an hour. It doesn't take much math to figure out which one he took.

"And a nickel changed my life," Jordan says.

You see another person getting a job at Yellowstone was this co-ed from the University of Alabama. That's how he met Susan McCullough, of Birmingham, Ala. Eighteen months later, they were married. They are now residents (for most of the year) in Lilburn. Both are now retired.

Guess what they have done for the last two summers? They've been working at Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone the first year, and at Grand Canyon National Park last year. They enjoyed the work. Jordan has worked as a tour bus driver operator, taking visitors around the park, and giving them much of the lore of the park as he drives. Susan worked in the gift shop at Old Faithful Inn, and at Hopi House, where there are native arts and crafts. The Shenefields now have been married 45 years and have two daughters and five grandsons. They have lived in Gwinnett since 1986.

They enjoy working at National Parks in the summer now, and next year will be with the park service concessionaire at Denali National Park in Alaska.

That's how two lives turned on a nickel!

NEW SUBJECT: One of our favorite members of the musical community is American composer, pianist, and bandleader Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. Both of Ellington's parents were pianists, and though he hoped as a child to become a baseball player, Ellington was destined to follow in their footsteps. He led his orchestra from 1923 to his death in 1974.

Ellington considered his band as a musical laboratory, experimenting with many different styles, everything from swing to bop. He said, "Playing 'bop' is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing." He went on to compose jazz standards like "Mood Indigo" (1930). In his later career, he composed longer works such as Black, Brown and Beige (1943), a musical portrayal of African-American history.

In 1965, when he was 66 years old, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for music, but he was passed over. When reporters asked him if he was disappointed, he said, "Fate's been kind to me. Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young."

He liked to tell his band, "Let's not pout, gentlemen. It makes bad notes."

Blank resolution which many governments might adopt

(Editor's Note: This document was drafted ten years ago by Johnny Lawler as a personal exercise in coming up with a resolution that might be adopted by any governing body as a first step toward achieving governance, creating solidarity of understanding or perhaps breaking a stalemate. It is directed at no particular government or person and admittedly is very idealistic - after more than 40 years of observing dysfunctional (and functional) governing bodies. Since nearly every government has had its moments, it was drafted as a cathartic exercise. We thought you might enjoy the playfulness and tongue-in-cheek aspect of this form. -eeb)

By Johnny Lawler


WHEREAS the Mayor and Council of the City of ____________, Georgia unanimously desire to conduct the city's business in the best interest of its citizens; and, (Note: you can substitute any level of government in the place of "city.") and,

WHEREAS the governing of a city is inherently a political process with differing opinions, shifting alliances and lack of unanimity commonplace; and,

WHEREAS the expectation of complete agreement on issues is naïve and simply wishful thinking and leads to disappointment; and,

WHEREAS elected officials are subject to all the pressures common to people attempting any endeavor in any walk of life including overcharged emotions, fears and lack of knowledge; and,
WHEREAS governing the City of ____________, Georgia is the duty of just such a group of elected officials; and,

WHEREAS to reason is to use sound thought, good judgment, to think coherently and logically to argue and talk in a logical way, to analyze, to support, to justify and persuade in accord with what is reasonable in order to come to a unified, i.e. majority, decision; and,

WHEREAS, not withstanding the exceptional times in life when one has to take a stand against the crowd and go against the majority, a reasoned approach will result in a satisfying conclusion by the majority much of the time; and,

WHEREAS, the governing process is and should be, and in fact is required by law to be in the open - affording less private opportunities to soothe ego-related issues with peers than other such endeavors thereby heightening the need to act in a reasonable fashion; and,

WHEREAS, reminding oneself to be reasonable in the execution of public duties has value,

THEREFORE the Mayor and Council of the City of ____________, Georgia do hereby affirm a commitment to reasonableness in the conduct of City business.

Adopted and Signed this the ______day of _________, 20__.

(Signatures of each member of the body follow).

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So much information about when something was said; When was it?

Editor, the Forum:

Derby Waters noted rightly that President Trump, through Attorney General Sessions, rescinded DACA. However, as I listened to Sessions' speech, I did not hear him say "last year." Additionally, Trump was not president at any time in 2016, so he could not have ended it "last year," as Waters indicated in his quote.

Attorney General Jeff Session said on Sept. 15, 2017: "President Trump last year ordered a six months end to DACA by March 6, 2018. I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded."

-- Michael L. Wood, Peachtree Corners

Send us your thoughts: We encourage you to send us your letters and thoughts on issues raised in GwinnettForum. Please limit comments to 300 words. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and length. Send feedback and letters to: elliott@brack.net

Super Bowl thought

Lawrenceville Housing tells of $4 million redevelopment project

The City of Lawrenceville together with the Lawrenceville Housing Authority announces plans for a new development project to replace existing housing with new multi-family units. This public-private partnership, being designed and built by Richport Properties, will yield a capital investment of around $4 million and includes a complete redesign and build out of existing units on new property located at Scenic Highway and Constitution Boulevard.

Chuck Warbington, city manager, says: "This development will blend today's new urban living style and walkable environment with affordable housing options for those in need. It is the goal of the city to focus on implementing the Downtown Master plan, fill-in those areas needing a facelift and bring affordable housing, diverse housing options and a walkable environment to Lawrenceville's core. This project supports that vision in redefining a blighted corridor with a beautiful and new residential community that compliments the Oak Street project and the South Lawn project in quality and connectivity of the downtown area."

This new development will provide the Housing Authority residents with modern floorplans, upgraded amenities and improved energy efficiency. The new units will replace the existing, outdated apartments currently surrounding City Hall and will include a common area, ample parking and a playground for children living in the community.

Lejla Slowinski, executive director of the Lawrenceville Housing Authority says: "Our goal with this project is long-term preservation of affordable housing. Often times when cities redevelop their downtowns, affordable housing is just an afterthought. I commend the City of Lawrenceville for working collaboratively with us to provide viable, quality housing options for residents at all income levels."

Porter is also developing the privately funded $20-million City View project along Oak Street in Downtown Lawrenceville. Together with the South Lawn project, these three developments will create an area for continued in-fill opportunity to the development community.

The housing authority's development project is currently in the design stage. Construction for this project is expected to be underway in the spring of 2018 with a goal of completion in early 2019.

County offers 2 self-service kiosks to renew auto tags

North Gwinnett Tag Office Manager Elaine Melvin-Morgan and Tax Commissioner Richard Steele stand next to the new self-service kiosk at the North Gwinnett Tag Office in Buford.

Tax Commissioner Richard Steele announces the addition of two new self-service kiosks for citizens to renew their tags on nights and on weekends. The kiosks are located at the Lawrenceville tag office, 750 South Perry Street, and the North Gwinnett tag office, 2735 Mall of Georgia Boulevard, in Buford.

Customers will be able to renew their vehicle registrations and immediately receive current decals for their license plates. Credit and debit cards accepted are Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Processing fees apply and are added to the total due.

In addition to the two new kiosks, Gwinnett citizens can also use self-service kiosks located in Kroger stores in neighboring counties, including DeKalb, Walton, Hall, Clayton and Fulton. For locations, visit dor.georgia.gov/mvd.

To renew your tag at a kiosk, you must have a valid Georgia driver's license, and your address must be correct on your renewal notice. Your proof of liability insurance must be transmitted to the state system, and if applicable, you must have a valid emission inspection on file.

The kiosk located in the entrance foyer at the North Gwinnett tag office is available 24/7. The kiosk in Lawrenceville is available 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday - Friday, and 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Gwinnett Tech, AARP team up again for free tax form assistance

Gwinnett Technical College has partnered once again with the AARP Foundation to offer free tax assistance and preparation for community members, faculty, staff and students. The service will be available starting February 1. For timing, call 770 962 7580.

Taxpayers wanting to take advantage of this service should bring all tax forms, W2s, Form1095, last year's return, government issued photo ID, Social Security cards for everyone on the return, and checkbook (necessary if you want automatic deposit or withdrawal.)

Clients will be seen on a first come, first served basis, within the set times provided. There is no charge for this assistance and users do not have to be an AARP member. No appointments are necessary.

Returns will be filed electronically. Volunteers go through a four-day training program and must pass IRS certification exams each year. In addition, each state and federal return is double-checked by a second certified tax counselor before it is filed electronically.

GGC students conduct project on gerontology at Beltline

Students in Georgia Gwinnett College's Human Development and Aging Services are conducting a project to assist aging and disability professionals of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). The purpose of the project is to experience the Atlanta Beltline from the perspective of individuals with a disability or age-related impairment.

Participants will wear goggles, use earplugs and travel the Beltline using crutches and wheelchairs to simulate an array of physical limitations as they maneuver throughout the Beltline. The project will result in a "photo voice" product presented to the AGHE that tells the story of those experiences using photography.

AGHE's design charrette committee will use that information to develop best practice implementation scenarios to help improve the Atlanta Beltline experience for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

This project is being coordinated by Dr. William Sweatman, part-time sociology faculty, as part of a course in GGC's newly launched bachelor of science degree program in human development and aging services.

ARC recognizes Suwanee by again citing it as a "Green Community"

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has recognized the City of Suwanee for its efforts to lead the way to a greener Atlanta region by once again citing the city as a Green Community. The community was recertified at the bronze level through ARC's Green Communities program for their commitment to environmental stewardship and their leadership in sustainability practices.

City Planner Kylie Adams is flanked by ARC Chairman Kerry Armstrong and Executive Director Doug Hooker at the right. The city offers residents both enjoyment and increased access to pedestrian and bicycle activity via Brushy Creek Greenway Trail, which connects Stonecypher Road and Suwanee Dam Road.

The Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson

Reviewed by Karen J. Harris, Stone Mountain | Stories about sexual awakenings with an underpinning of spirituality are somewhat rare and oftentimes elusive in the message that is being conveyed. April Ayers Lawson's title, The Virgin and other stories is no exception. In each of the five short stories the protagonists are at a crossroads in understanding intimacy. They are also either seeking peace from past traumas, establishing their identity or are possessed with a curious daring. While several of the stories are unsettling, the beauty of the writing, including the attention to detail, description and the lyricism will keep the reader reading.

An invitation: What books, restaurants, movies or web sites have you enjoyed recently? Send us your recent selection, along with a short paragraph (150 words) as to why you liked this, plus what you plan to visit or read next. --eeb

Wofford continues to serve Georgia with distinciton

(Continued from previous edition)

For the next two years Brig. Gen. W.T. Wofford served with the Army of Northern Virginia. He led the Georgia brigade at Chancellorsville, Va., and Gettysburg, Penn., where his men fought in the assault through the Peach Orchard battlefield and defeated Union troops on the Wheatfield battlefield. They were forced to stop just before the newly formed Union line near Little Round Top. Wofford also saw action in 1864 during the Overland campaign in Virginia at the Battle of the Wilderness and in Spotsylvania. During the Battle of the Wilderness, Wofford helped plan and implement Lieutenant General James Longstreet's flank attack of the Union left. Wofford was injured in both of these engagements, hit once in the ribs and then in the breast; he returned home to Georgia to recuperate in July 1864. Although not fully recovered, he soon rejoined his regiment, but in October he fell from a horse and was again granted a leave of absence.

Wofford spent his leave in Murray County, at the home of his in-laws. Union troops occupied Cassville, where many homes, including his own, were burned. Slaves had fled, and deserters were looting the area. After Wofford recovered from his wounds at the end of 1864, he requested that the Eighteenth Georgia Brigade return to its home state. When Confederate general Robert E. Lee declined to grant his request, Georgia governor Joseph E. Brown asked that Wofford not return to his brigade but instead assume command of the Department of North Georgia. Charged with defending Georgians from rogue forces and guerrilla attacks, Wofford rounded up stragglers, deserters, and any available men in north Georgia to strengthen his forces. He held this position from January until his formal surrender to Union general James Steedman at Kingston, in Bartow County, on May 12, 1865. He was later paroled at Resaca, in Gordon County, and eventually pardoned in July 1865. Four thousand men came into Kingston to surrender. Wofford's Confederate soldiers were the last significant troops east of the Mississippi River to surrender to the Union.

In 1865 Wofford was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans dominated Congress, however, and kept Wofford, along with other Georgia Democratic congressmen, from assuming his seat. Wofford focused his energy on the law, Democratic politics, and the expansion of railroads. He also sat on several education boards and donated a parcel of land in Bartow County as the site of a public school, called Wofford Academy, which functioned as a church school on weekends. In 1877 he served as a member of the state constitutional convention, where he took a stand against convict leasing and argued for Confederate veterans' benefits and African Americans' rights.

Soon after his wife died in 1878, Wofford married Margaret Langdon. Following a long illness, Wofford died on May 22, 1884, in Bartow County. He is buried in Cassville's Confederate Cemetery alongside 300 unknown soldiers of the Civil War.

Period cottage is this edition's Mystery Photo

Note how well built this house is, solid with brickwork. There're even people in period costumes at this location. Try to figure out where it might be. Send your ideas to elliott@brack.net and be sure to include your hometown. Difficult? We think yes.

Bob Foreman of Grayson was Johnny on the spot in recognizing the most recent Mystery Photo. He writes: "The mystery photo is the Grice Inn, built in 1906 and located in Wrightsville, Ga. This" building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Wrightsville has some great Georgia architecture. However, this particular house or inn resembles the architecture of the Gulf coast of Florida, Apalachicola, perhaps New Orleans." The photo came from Brian Brown of Fitzgerald in his Vanishing South Georgia series.

Also recognizing the house was Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill and George Graf of Palmyra, Va., Graf writes: "The Grice Inn is the home of the Johnson County Historical Society since its organization in 1977. It is one of Wrightsville's most historic structures. The two-story brick and wood frame structure located was built in the spring of 1906 by John Robert Grice. Mr. Grice, born in 1857 was a carpenter, brick mason, furniture maker, and architect. The house was built for a residence but the Grices, who already had a reputation for good food, turned it into a boarding house in 1907 for students of the Nannie Lou Warthen Institute, which was going strong at the time. In 1907 Grice tiled the sidewalk in front of the house, probably the first such sidewalk in the city. The house is on the National Register and shares this distinction only with the county court house."


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2018, Gwinnett Forum.com. Gwinnett Forum is an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

Issue 16.81 | Jan. 30, 2018

TODAY'S FOCUS: Here's a Glimpse at Highlights of Trip to Australia and New Zealand

EEB PERSPECTIVE: Oh! What A Difference a Nickel Can Make in a Lifetime

ANOTHER VIEW: Blank Resolution Which Many Governments Might Adopt


FEEDBACK: So Much Information about When Something Was Said; When Was It?

McLEMORE'S WORLD: Super Bowl Thought

UPCOMING: Lawrenceville Housing Tells of $4 Million Re-development Project

NOTABLE: Gwinnett Tech, AARP Team Up Again For Free Tax Form Assistance

RECOMMENDED: The Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson

GEORGIA TIDBIT: Brig. Gen. W.T. Wofford Continues To Serve Georgia with Distinciton

TODAY'S QUOTE: How Smooth Is the Language of the Diplomat?

MYSTERY PHOTO: Period Cottage Is This Edition's Mystery Photo

CALENDAR: Four Films Are Scheduled at Library During Black History Month

How smooth is the language of a diplomat

"A diplomat can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip."

-- Mary Ann Peters, chief executive of the Carter Center, in the January 2018 issue of the Rotarian magazine.

Four films are scheduled at library during Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, join Gwinnett County Public Library for a film screening and discussion surrounding the plight of the Civil Rights Movement. A different film will be shown each Saturday in February at 2 p.m. at the Five Forks Branch, 2780 Five Forks Trickum Road, Lawrenceville. All viewings, discussions, and popcorn are free and open to the public. The film schedule is below:

  • February 3 - Fences;
  • February 10 - Marshall;
  • February 17 - Southside with You; and
  • February 24 - Selma.

    For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

Also on the Calendar:

Developmental Disabilities Resource Fair: On January 30, learn about services for those with developmental disabilities in advance of summer. Meet vendors who provide specialized services such as camps, music therapy, equine therapy, and adaptive aquatics. The All About Developmental Disabilities Family Support staff will be present to discuss various options available to help support families in accessing the supports and services they need. Join Gwinnett County Public Library, in partnership with AADD, for this event on Tuesday, January 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lilburn Branch, 4817 Church Street, Lilburn. This resource fair is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

Bogan Kids' Club will mark National Polar Bear Day with an evening of swimming, games, crafts and fun on Friday, February 2 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Bring swimsuit, towel and change of clothes. Dinner and snack will be provided. Children ages 6 to 12 is $7 per person for Gwinnett residents, $14 per person for non-Gwinnett residents. Bogan Aquatic Center is located at 2723 North Bogan Road. Register at www.gwinnettparks.com using activity code BOP15900 or call 678-277-0853.


Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.

  • Development of a two-party system for county offices
  • Moving statewide non-partisan judge election runoffs to the General Election
  • Light rail for Gwinnett from Doraville MARTA station to Gwinnett Arena
  • Extension of Gwinnett Place CID area to include Arena and Discovery Mills Mall
  • Banning of tobacco in all Gwinnett parks
  • More diverse candidates for political offices and appointment to local boards
  • Creative efforts to support the arts in Gwinnett
  • Advancement and expansion of city and Gwinnett historical societies
  • Stronger regulation of late-night establishments with alcoholic licenses
  • Requiring the legislature to meet once every two years.
  • Development of more community gardens.


GwinnettForum.com is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

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