Visit the West to get an early fall,
plus have fewer tourists
Special to GwinnettForum
(Editor's Note: When we heard of one guy's vacation,
we asked him to write about it. Marshall Miller and his wife,
Rebecca, of Lilburn, have for years been making annual treks to
Colorado in the fall. We thought you would enjoy his report. -eeb)
LILBURN, Ga., Nov. 18, 2008 -- We took a nice trip to the Yellowstone
National Park area , September 16-23, flying to Salt Lake City and
driving a rental car to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We stayed two nights
there, and one night each in West Yellowstone and Gardiner, Mont.,
Cody and Riverton, Wy. and Salt Lake City.
By waiting until fall, the weather is cooler, the area less crowded
and more scenic. Usually the last week in September has the peak
color. We booked the rooms a couple of months in advance to avoid
the bother of looking for a place to stay, and this was a good move.
If you are 62 or older, buy a lifetime admission permit for $10
and you pay nothing more to visit national parks.
I have made these fall trips 15 times or so to various spots in
the West, a couple of times to New England, and have never had a
bad trip. A couple of weeks after returning I noticed on the Weather
Channel that it snowed rather hard in the area we had left.
In South Pass City
You can locate in advance on web sites good back roads for scenery
and ghost towns, such as ghosttowns.com, ghosttowngallery.com and
sandonbc.com among others. This trip we went back to Atlantic City
and South Pass City, Wy. (southpasscity.com).
The latter has been meticulously restored by the state of Wyoming,
with the old buildings retaining their original look.
A group of school children were touring South Pass City the day
we were there. Only a handful of people live around these places
year round. We stayed in Atlantic City one night back in July 1998
in an old bed and breakfast place, a very neat farmhouse. It is
still there, the only place in town to sleep or eat. Most nights
we were in Comfort Inns.
The National Parks usually have many foreigners visiting them.
This year many were from France and Asia at Yellowstone. The crowd
was about half the size you would see in summer, and generally an
older crowd with fewer kids.
One year ago in September 2007 we went to Winter Park, Colo., west
of Denver, and noticed they were ready for the snow season with
snowplows parked on roadsides. We did not see such preparations
this year on this trip, even though such efforts could be needed
soon after we were there. I can't imagine staying there in the winter,
where temperatures routinely drop to 20 below and colder. Frazier,
Colo., near Winter Park, advertises itself as "America's Icebox,"
often the coldest spot in the nation. International Falls, Minn.
disputes this claim.
- In driving around Yellowstone, you are likely to see many types
of wildlife walking and standing on and near the roadways. Many
animals will walk right up to your car, including buffalo and
- By going west in the fall, you get to experience the color change
twice, about a month earlier than in Georgia.
- Waffle House should expand to the Rocky Mountain West. I didn't
see any of their units there.
- Many high schools play eight-man football. The schools are very
small in these parts.
- There is still plenty of open space in the West. You need to
watch the gas gauge. Wyoming is seventh in land area, 50th in
population. Georgia has 13 Congressional members, Wyoming and
Montana each have one.
As usual, it was a very relaxing trip. I did not see a boom box
radio all week! Good !
Board saves money by recycling old buildings
Editor and Publisher
NOV. 18, 2008 -- The Gwinnett School Board has for several years
been involved with renovating commercial buildings into school facilities
-- and saving money. In most cases, such areas have been vacant
or undervalued properties, which the School Board was able to purchase
at a less-than-market price. As a result, by buying these distressed
properties, the School Board has saved millions on property costs
over starting from scratch.
It was something of a natural turn for Chief Operating Office Jim
Steele, who heads construction for the schools, in that he has for
years chaired the Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful organization, which
has as one of its purposes the re-cycling of materials. In this
case, it is re-cycling commercial properties into school facilities.
The first conversion was in Lawrenceville at the vacant Lawrenceville
West Shopping Center. Where once a Roses Department Store, Winn-Dixie
supermarket and Revco Pharmacy and other facilities operated, the
School Board picked up this property for $2.7 million, and in 1996
rebuilt it as Phoenix High School, an alternative school. A major
bonus was the large parking lot that came with the property, perfect
for a school. Overall savings on this school was an estimated $3.7
million, compared to purchasing land and constructing an equivalent
school from the ground up.
Other properties that have been or are planned to be converted
to school usages include:
- Radloff Middle School on Shackelford Road in Duluth, where the
New York Times erected a new building for the Gwinnett Daily News
in 2002, purchased for $9.2 million, and when renovated saved
- The main office of the School Board, the Instructional Support
Center on Old Peachtree Road, purchased in 2004 for $12 million.
It now houses the main support operations for the School Board,
including the school system main offices. The savings on this
renovation was $15 million.
- A future relief high school between the Berkmar-Central Gwinnett
clusters, located on Old Norcross Road, in a former Bridgestone
Tires warehouse in Lawrenceville. The tract was bought in 2005
for a price of $19 million, and will save an estimated $26 million
when completed. This high school is to be built adjacent to the
Benefield Elementary School. The two schools occupy about 80 acres
at the site.
- Two schools, a 140,000 square foot Peachtree Ridge Elementary
and 200,000 square foot Peachtree Ridge Middle Schools, are planned
for a former Panasonic 500,000 square foot warehouse near I-85
in Suwanee. The balance of the building will also be used as a
major warehouse for the schools. The building was purchased in
2007 for $23 million, and stands to save the School Board an estimated
$15 million compared to acquiring land and building the three
- A new GIVE West (Gwinnett Intervention Education) West facility
in Norcross is to be built on the former 100,000+ square foot
SAMPO-Maltese Signs site on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The
Schools bought the site in 2008 for $6.55 million. The School
Board expects a savings of $2.7 million on this renovation..
Steele notes that purchasing already-built facilities comes "out
of necessity and economics. In some areas of Gwinnett, there is
not enough open land for new schools. These commercial properties
on the market, often at a bargain, are sometimes the only areas
large enough for us to locate schools."
Finding school sites, especially in built-up areas, is tough. Now
buildings are being recycled to provide good sites for new school
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com
to you at no cost to readers. Today's featured sponsor is The
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Are 10 innovative ways to improve employee morale
Editor, the Forum:
As we enter into the Thanksgiving season and employees have more
concerns than ever, it seems like a great time to let people at
your company know they're appreciated for their labor.
Since I am doing temporary work in the Atlanta area, I have been
able to observe up close and personal a few ways that I have seen
employers encourage their workers, and I put together a "Top
10" type list.
Ten Ways Today to Encourage and Recognize Your Workers
1. Provide doughnuts/bagels/coffee in the morning. Need I say
2. Feature your Employee of the Month on the company website.
3. An Employee of the Month special parking place always gets
4. Gas gift cards will be appreciated.
5. Special dress-down jeans day (doesn't even cost the company
6. A rotating trophy that goes from cubicle to cubicle for key
employees gets rave reviews.
7. Birthday celebrations for those by departments gets good reviews.
8. A bi-monthly company luncheon or pot luck dinner brings interest.
9. Having an on-site company "library" with books that
employees and employers contribute about improving their business
world, or other subjects, can be helpful.
10. Movie passes are a good way to say thanks in a special way
for those doing good work.
* Of course, this list is only a beginning. Perhaps its provide
you with a good jump-start for more brain-storming! Happy employee-rewarding!
-- Cindy Evans, Duluth
holiday lighting set for Nov. 27
Lawrenceville will hold its annual lighting of the tree activities
on Thursday, November 27 starting at 5 p.m. with carriage rides
and self-guided tours of the decorated courthouse. The tree lighting
ceremony begins at 6p.m., with Santa arriving at 6:45 p.m.at the
Historic Courthouse. For more information please contact the Gwinnett
Historic Courthouse at 770.822.5450.
Meanwhile, preparations are under way for the fifth annual "Lawrenceville
Rings" New Year's Eve celebration. It begins at 7 p.m. on December
31, and culminates with a pyrotechnic display at midnight. The annual,
family-friendly event features a variety of music groups in numerous
venues ranging from Motown, swing, country-rock, jazz, and teen
bands. The evening also includes children-friendly activities such
as magic shows, face painting, balloon artists, plenty of exciting
inflatables, a rock climbing wall, and much more! For more information
please visit us online www.visitlawrenceville.com
or call 678.226.2639.
Snellville kicks off
festive Christmas season on Dec. 1
On Monday, December 1 at 7 p.m., the City of Snellville will mark
its 27th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the lawn at City Hall.
Our theme this year is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
Should it rain, the event will still go on.
Featured performers include Nick Pallas, Britt Elementary School's
5th Grade Chorus, Snellville Middle School's 6th Grade Chorus and
the Singers of South. There will also be performances by Snellville's
own Clogging Connection and Snellville United Methodist's Senior
High Youth Choir. Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer will lead the countdown
to the lighting of the tree just prior to Santa's arrival.
Children will have the opportunity to visit Santa. Picture packages
will be available for a small fee. The Snellville Keenager Club
will be hosting refreshments inside City Hall. Marines with Toys
for Tots will be the city's guests and collecting toys for Christmas.
You might bring a small, unwrapped toy for a child in need or make
a monetary donation to this cause.
Contact the Snellville Parks and Recreation Department for more
information at 770-985-3535.
Village CID wins award for intersection landscaping
Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District (CID) has been
honored with the Grand Award for "Outstanding Streetscape Revitalization"
in Georgia from the Georgia Urban Forest Council The CID was recognized
for their $825,000 landscaping project for the three southernmost
I-85 interchanges in Gwinnett County; Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Indian
Trail Road and Beaver Ruin Road.
Mary Lynne Beckley executive director of the Council says, "We
commend the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District for
creating sustainable landscapes that provide environmental benefits
for the community and applaud them for their ongoing efforts in
In March of 2007, Gwinnett Village CID, the largest CID in the state
of Georgia, announced their Village Green landscaping initiative.
The initial phase was the landscaping of the three I-85 interchanges.
Additional projects include landscape maintenance for all major
corridors, median plantings and streetscapes throughout the Village.
Chuck Warbington, executive director of the Gwinnett Village CID,
says: "Each of these interchanges is a gateway to our community.
This project is an opportunity to beautify the landscape and roll
out an impressive 'welcome mat' for our businesses, their employees,
residents and visitors on a daily basis."
The now award-winning landscaping project was designed by landscape
architect PBS&J. Leach Landscaping (Loganville) and Imagescape
(Duluth). The project was completed in late 2007. Details of the
planting elements included 11 acres of sod, 300 trees, 11,000 shrubs
and 34,000 ground covers.
Impact Group suggests
ways to curb natural resources
As the seasons change and demand for natural resources increases
over the next several months, it pays for Gwinnett's families to
be energy efficient. According to the U.S. Department of Energy,
the average American household spends about $1,800 per year on home
energy. The IMPACT! Group offers several tips that can help you
and your family reduce energy costs and improve the way all our
homes use energy.
- Monitor your heating and cooling systems. Be sure to
replace the filters once a month to maintain an adequate and clean
air flow and in turn reduce energy costs. Keep registers and vents
free of dust, dirt and other blockages. If you have rooms that
are not used often, keep their registers and doors closed; doing
so will save your system from heating or cooling unused rooms.
- Add or replace insulation. Appropriate insulation can
save you up to 30 percent on your heating bill, according to the
Alliance to Save Energy. Insulation of your attic, floors, exterior
walls, and crawl spaces can help prevent energy loss. Be sure
to choose high-quality materials, and replace matted or torn insulation
to maximize its effectiveness.
- Caulk or add weather stripping around windows and doors.
Your home may have small openings around doors and windows that
allow for heat or cool air loss. Caulk and weather stripping can
reduce energy loss and protect your home from moisture damage.
- Install ceiling fans. A ceiling fan will help more evenly
distribute warm and cool air generated by your heat pump, furnace,
or A/C unit throughout the year.
- Attic fans or vents can keep hot or cold air from being
trapped in your attic.
- If you need to buy new appliances, get the most energy efficient
models you can afford. Look for household appliances that
have earned the Energy Star® -- these products have met the
guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and DOE.
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, households that replace
existing equipment Energy Star® qualified products can cut
annual energy bills by as much as 30 percent, or more than $450
- Install storm windows and storm doors with screens for
spring and summer use. Storm doors and windows can reduce energy
usage by serving as a barrier to your outdoor environment.
- Try not to keep the thermostat too high in winter or
too low in summer. Energy experts recommend that you keep the
thermostat around 78 degrees in the warm season, and 72 degrees
in the cooler months. For each degree you lower your thermostat
you can save up to five percent on the heating portion of your
energy bill, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.
- An invitation: What
Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your
best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have
read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus
what book you plan to read next. --eeb
Fox Theatre, now
historic landmark, was once to be razed
ON THE FOX THEATRE)
Theatre was once in danger of being razed. It was rescued through
the efforts of Atlanta Landmarks, Inc., a nonprofit organization
of interested, energetic, and committed Atlantans who purchased
the property in 1975. A four-year "Save the Fox" fund-raising
campaign enabled Atlanta Landmarks to pay off the mortgage in 1978.
Since 1975 the Fox has operated as a multipurpose performing arts
center. Rock and classical music concerts, ice shows and magic shows,
Broadway musicals, dancing waters, circuses, and many organ concerts
(with and without an image on the silver Cinemascope screen) are
among the range of events at the theater. The Fox continues to attract
nearly three-quarters of a million visitors a year, from local residents
to tourists to international dignitaries, and generates millions
of dollars annually for the Atlanta economy.
The theater stands today as a fiercely protected landmark and a
nationally acclaimed venue, having withstood economic depression,
mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcy, competition, the advent of television,
and real-estate development. The Fabulous Fox has enjoyed an operating
surplus every year since 1975 and is now protected as a National
The study of physics
is trouble enough
"In physics, you don't have to go around making trouble for
yourself -- nature does it for you."
-- Physics Professor and Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek (1951-
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