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Ga. May 22, 2009 -- With the end of school, Aurora Theatre reminds parents
that it is not too late to enroll students in the second year of its summer
programs. Aurora will offer camps and intensives for students from rising
Aurora Theatre Director of Education Susan Reid has put together a team of teaching professionals, including a voice instructor with Broadway experience. Scholarships are available to help offset the cost participation in Aurora Academy's Summer Programs. Recognizing the importance of these artistic programs, Aurora Academy has received support from the Scott Hudgens Family Foundation and Kiwanis Club of Suwanee.
Aurora's summer programs apart from others is the years of experience
its instructors have in professional theatre. After the program, students
will take with them confidence, communication and life skills that will
be a valuable part of their futures.
on the square in downtown Lawrenceville, Aurora Theatre is committed to
educating young actors in our world-class facility. A summer with us will
create memories to treasure for a lifetime.
To see the Aurora Academy faculty, go to the web site at www.auroratheatre.com. For registration and more information, contact Susan Reid, director of education at 678-226-6226 or by email at email@example.com.
MAY 22, 2009 -- Let's face it. Gwinnett County government will need a property tax increase this year, to make up the lost revenue from the economic downturn. That's necessary if the citizens of Gwinnett are to expect the same level of services this year from the county. After all, if efficient government has been our mode in the past, certainly a slight tax hike is to be expected to continue a similar level of services in these tough times.
And indeed, now county commissioners are saying that we can expect a higher millage on our property tax bill this year. However, it's the way that the commission is proposing the increase that smacks us as downright wrong, and probably illegal. All five county commissioners need to get their heads screwed on straight about this potential increase in taxes.
The county is seeking to impose a "county wide" tax for police services. This would be paid by all county residents, including those living in cities which have their own police services for their residents. In other words, city residents will be paying twice for police, while getting service only from their own city.
It's probably illegal for the county to charge city residents for something that they do not get from the county. It's certainly not right as such, and also ranks as one of the most preposterous political moves we've seen in a long time.
Many Gwinnett residents take pride in the fact that, in general, Gwinnett government at all levels, including county, city and School Board, is for the most part well-run. We don't see continual bad decisions, or local officials going to jail, as can be seen in some neighboring counties. Local officials do their job well, make decent decisions, and keep the name of Gwinnett virtually unsullied. Most of the actions of our elected officials are reasonable, and justifiable to the citizens.
But not this idea of taxing people twice for the same service.
Under the Department of Public Safety there are fire, police and emergency medical services. Two of these three services (fire and EMT) are provided throughout the county, while people living within the cities that have police forces do not have county police service. The total Public Safety budget for 2009 is $200 million, and of that the budget for police is $112 million, or 56 percent of the department expenditures.
Let us note here that, from time to time, county police assist municipal police in investigations, such as in murders. But we maintain that more than 90 per cent of the policing within the cities is by municipal forces, not the county. The cities can help the county, too, at times.
Currently the county is also proposing to give credits to people living in unincorporated areas of Gwinnett who generate tax revenue through payments to financial institutions, for insurance premiums and through occupational taxes. Well and good. That sounds fair. For those who live in cities, these revenues go to that particular city.
So, if the county can give a credit along this route, what's wrong with the county giving credit to people who live in cities who do not get police services? All that is required is for the county to deduct the overall cost of the Police Department (56% of the Public Safety budget) from proportional city residents' tax bill where residents get municipal police service.
The county's result of convoluted thinking is to propose a double-tax of municipal residents for police services. It is a bad proposal. In the long run, it will get the county commissioners in trouble as quickly as "taxation without representation" got the British King in trouble before the Revolution. It is, essentially, taxation without a service, and we maintain, illegal. Let's ask the county commission to tax us fairly, but leave their fuzzy thinking for other counties and jurisdictions to use.
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I'm glad to see Coach Jerry Queen's Throw-yo selling so well. I ordered two for my grandsons as they need help in throwing a baseball properly. Many youngsters need instruction in this basic skill and should find this product beneficial. I remember Coach Queen from years back when he was at Marist and I worked in the sporting goods and trophy awards field. He is a great fellow and fine coach. Let's hope his invention continues to succeed.
On another subject, Wednesday was (I hesitate to mention him) the 69th birthday of Frankie Lorenzo, of Texas International Airlines, "The Airline Builder," ultimately of Eastern Airlines. That was after Congress deregulated airlines. I'm seven days younger than Lorenzo, the ------------- (fill in dirty word here). Think of the financial ruin Frankie put so many people through.
Lorenzo was a media hero for a time. That sort of tells you about the media. Time zips on by, doesn't it? I hate to see a second hand ticking off, but it's also great to be around, isn't it ! Many do not make it this far. I'd still love to run it back a few years. Who wouldn't?
Monday of Memorial Day will be at 1 p.m. at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes
Memorial in Lawrenceville. This event is held each year to honor the county's
past and present military heroes and public service personnel.
Guest speaker Brig. Gen. Daniel J. Kaufman, president of Georgia Gwinnett College, will give this year's keynote address. No new names will be added to the memorial this year.
Board Chairman Charles Bannister, District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter and County Administrator Jock Connell will lead this year's ceremony. Honor guard units from the Gwinnett County Corrections, Fire and Emergency Services, Police and Sheriff's Departments and the Lawrenceville Police Department will also take part in the event.
will be televised on May 25 at 7:30 p.m. on TVgwinnett. Gwinnett cable
customers can access TVgwinnett on cable channel 23 or 25, depending on
the cable provider. TVgwinnett programming is also available streaming
and on demand at www.tvgwinnett.com,
where viewers will also find a program guide.
County plans hearings on proposed property tax increase
The Gwinnett County Commission has announced plans to conduct a series of public hearings on a proposed increase in the county's property taxes. The public hearings will be held at 4:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. on May 26 and at 10:30 a.m. on June 2 in the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center (GJAC) at 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.
Citizens are also encouraged to attend public information forums that will be conducted one hour before each hearing. The commission is expected to act on the proposal following the final public hearing on June 2.
The commission's consideration of the tax increase follows its adoption earlier this year of a $1.7 billion 2009 budget that reflected needed increased staffing in the county's police, fire and emergency services departments, efficiency in government service and long-term financial stability. Over the past 12 years, the commissioners have rolled back property taxes by a total of 3.98 mills. The rollback was possible in part because the county's rapid growth generated sufficient tax revenues to cover the cost of expanding service needs. In recent years, however, the county's growth rate has begun to slow.
New London 10th anniversary production is Charlotte's Web
Marking its 10th anniversary, New London Theatre in Snellville will present a production of Charlotte's Web May 29 until June 21 on the weekends. The play is being produced by Dawn Berlo and directed by Teagan Eley. Shows are performed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday each weekend for the duration. Special pricing of $10 is offered for all seats for the first Sunday show.
The performance on June 7 will include a special 10th birthday marking of New London Theatre celebration. For additional information about this and future auditions, future performances, ticket purchases, volunteering, or donations, visit www.newlondontheatre.org or by mail at NLTSnellville@yahoo.com, or call at 770-559-1484.
Stand-alone performance set by Gwinnett Community Chorus
The Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra Chorus will embark on their first ever stand alone choral concert since its inception two years ago. The event will be May 31, Sunday, at 2 p.m. at Eastminster Presbyterian Church on Hugh Howell Road in Stone Mountain. The concert is free.
Featured artists will include organist Ed Weaver, pianist Kimberly Nilsson, tenor David Berry and baritone Jeff Bunce; as well as a chamber orchestra, wind quintet, combo band and solo percussionists. The Chorus consists of approximately 40 members, and is conducted by Rick A. Smith.
Wind Quintet will perform with the Chorus at the upcoming Choral Works
concert. The Quintet is a residence ensemble of the Gwinnett Symphony
Orchestra and includes Kathy Farmer on flute, Brian Seaton on oboe, Diane
Hargreaves on clarinet, Steve Acklin on bassoon and Adrian Norris on horn.
County has agreed to lease Stone Mountain tennis facilities that were
built for the 1996 Olympics. The Stone Mountain Memorial Association (SMMA)
owns the facilities, which are located in Gwinnett County. The 50-year,
$1 per year lease agreement covers a 24.5-acre site at 5525 Bermuda Road
and includes 15 outdoor tennis courts and support facilities. The existing
tennis stadium on the site is not included in the agreement.
300 citizens signed a petition asking the County to lease the property
for a public park after it was closed recently. County Commissioner Mike
Beaudreau credited the strong citizen support for the move. "This
is a vital gateway to our county. Much of the credit for this goes to
Brett Harrell and the Evermore CID for working behind the scenes with
the SMMA to make this day a reality."
More open space improvements coming to City of Suwanee
The City of Suwanee is planning additional improvements and programming through its award-winning open space initiative. The City will undertake enhancements at PlayTown Suwanee later this year, including the addition of a trail on an adjoining, recently purchased property. The City also has begun planning for a community garden at the Williams Farm property on Buford Highway.
Jessica Roth, assistant to the city manager, says: "Our goal is to have the garden ready for the community to plant in the spring of 2010, Establishing a community garden in our historic Old Town area is a nice way to pay homage to the property and to our history. Suwanee was for many years a small, agricultural community."
The nearly seven-acre Williams Farm property, purchased in 2003, is among more than 300 acres of open space the City of Suwanee has acquired through its open space program since 2002.
The City issued a request for qualifications recently for landscape architect services to design and prepare the infrastructure for the garden, which also will serve as a passive park. Work will include constructing garden plots of various sizes, rehabilitating the existing barn, and adding pathways and other park elements. The City has allocated $225,000 in remaining open space funds for design and construction of the garden.
In March, Suwanee used $102,000 in open space funds to purchase a 5.5-acre property located on Stonecypher Road near the intersection with Eva Kennedy. A trail will be built on this property as part of upcoming enhancements at PlayTown Suwanee, the community-built playground on Main Street. In addition, a picnic pavilion will be constructed at the playground. The additions are expected to be completed next spring. The anticipated cost of about $315,000 will be covered through open space and 2005 SPLOST funds.
Suwanee has received several awards for its open space program through which the community has built four new parks and added three miles to its Suwanee Creek Greenway. Citizens approved $17.7 million in open space bond funds in November 2001
of the Anglican
Church, or Church of England, in Georgia reaches beyond religion,
for it was largely due to the political influence of the church's key
members that the English established the colony of Georgia in 1733. Before
the American Revolution (1775-83) Anglicans constituted the largest and
most influential group of Christians in Georgia.
originated in the 16th century, when King Henry VIII left the Roman Catholic
Church to establish a new state church. At the time Georgia was founded,
anyone holding a political position in England was required to be Anglican.
James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia colony, was a member of the British Parliament in the 1720s, before he ventured to America. With the new colony, Oglethorpe sought a more humanitarian way for England to deal with its "worthy poor," who at the time were often incarcerated for indebtedness.
Other members of Parliament hoped to convert Native Americans in the region to Christianity, while the British government saw a need for a political and military buffer to protect its colonies in Virginia and the Carolinas against possible encroachment by the Spanish, who had colonized Florida. Sending settlers to Georgia promised a way to meet all three of these needs. Missionary priests (Anglican ministers) would provide moral leadership to the colonists and preach to Native Americans, while the settlements established by these newcomers would act as a barrier against Spanish incursion.
Among those working with Oglethorpe was the influential Anglican priest Thomas Bray, founder of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to Foreign Parts. Bray had for 30 years worked with other church members to send missionaries to English colonies. He had also visited several of the colonies in America and had gathered a group of solid supporters at home, called Associates of Dr. Bray. One major thrust of their activities was the solicitation of donations to pay missionaries' salaries. Another was the provision of books for the missionaries. Bray's group sent books by the caseload, intending for them to be used by the ministers and to form "a publick library" in the new colony. Early Georgia records show that religious books in the "Indian language" and in German (for working among Moravian settlers) were sent as well.
(To be continued)
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