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following is a press release from Gwinnett cities concerning the Service
Delivery Strategy negotiations with county government:
After three separate court-ordered mediation sessions, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners has refused every proposal made by Gwinnett's 15 cities to fairly resolve the Service Delivery Strategy (SDS).
Mayor Dave Williams of Suwanee says: "We absolutely wanted to reach a negotiated settlement with the county. The county refused to meet us halfway or even partway. Litigation is costly, takes time and uses scarce city and county resources."
areas of dispute are funding for police services and whether the county
will levy taxes uniformly. Mayor Rex Millsaps of Lawrenceville adds: "Chairman
Bannister will not budge from his position that will result in unfairly
higher millage rates for taxpayers in the 15 cities. If anything, taxpayers
in the nine cities that provide their own police should receive a county
millage rate credit, because they don't receive full police services from
"The state law is very clear" said Mayor Millsaps. "Elected officials are to eliminate duplicated services, not create duplication. We look forward to the court reviewing the County Commission's unequal taxation plan and resolving the matter."
Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer has also been frustrated by the lack of progress. "It was frustrating, to put it mildly, to be engaged in mediation when the other side refused to move meaningfully off of their starting point. It is regrettable that so much time, energy and resources have been spent to no end. The cities' elected officials cannot not stand by while the county taxes our citizens and businesses unfairly," concludes Oberholtzer.
* * * * *
County says major issues remain to be settled with cities
The following is a press release from Gwinnett County government concerning the Service Delivery Strategy negotiations with Gwinnett cities:
The elected leaders of Gwinnett County and its 15 municipalities have concluded a seventh day of court-ordered mediation without resolving the dispute over service delivery. Under state law, counties and cities must operate under an agreement known as the service delivery strategy (SDS). The agreement defines the services to be provided by the county and sets out how those services are to be funded.
After the county and the municipalities failed to agree on a new SDS by a Feb. 28 deadline, the county filed a petition with the court seeking alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Formal mediation sessions were the first step in ADR.
"Gwinnett County government has been seeking a new agreement with the cities for more than two years now, and we remain committed to working out our differences within the framework of Georgia's service delivery law," said Gwinnett Board of Commissioners Chairman Charles Bannister. "At this point, however, we simply cannot reach a consensus. The equitable delivery of services to Gwinnett's 800,000 residents is of chief concern to me and my fellow board members, and we continue to hope for an outcome that serves the best interest of all our citizens. We are now evaluating all available options."
Administrator Jock Connell says significant issues remain. "The essence
of the issue is how the county will use revenue received solely from residents,
property and business owners who live, work and operate their businesses
outside of the 15 cities in Gwinnett County," said Connell. "The
County's position is that these revenues should be used solely to benefit
those who pay it-in this case, 80 percent of Gwinnett County's population.
The cities oppose this view, but each of the cities in Gwinnett collect
similar revenues and use such proceeds to benefit their residents, who
make up 20 percent of the County's population. However, the County thinks
it is only fair that the people who pay should receive the benefit. I
believe it is our obligation to do all that we can to safeguard this fairness
on behalf of the large majority of Gwinnett County residents who do not
live in a city."
JUNE 16, 2009 -- With Gwinnett having such a large immigrant and minority population, old-time residents of the county probably do not understand some of the hardships these newcomers to the county go through.
Just think: what if you were transported to another country? Think of the difficulties it would be to settle in as a new resident of an unfamiliar country. (Those who have traveled to a foreign country know how difficult many situations can be.)
Among other matters, you would probably find it much more difficult to put your financial household in order. For instance, how difficult would it be to get credit?
One guy heard of a situation within his firm, where Bosnian members of his credit union were coming in to borrow small amounts of money, often about $1,000, on a signature loan. He learned that the money was sought as a down payment on an automobile, usually purchased as at "buy here-pay here" car lot.
Marshall Boutwell of Gwinnett Federal Credit Union was charging 16 per cent for this unsecured loan, and then his members were paying up to 25 per cent in interest at the car lot. "Let me talk to the next person wanting that who comes in," he told his staff.
Meanwhile, he modified his policy at the credit union, adopting guidelines for those members who had no credit history. "We wanted to help them, and had to take a few steps before we could do that in order not to violate our policies."
In a few days, he was speaking with a Bosnian immigrant seeking a loan to use as down payment for an automobile. Boutwell told that applicant: "I won't loan you $1,000 at 16 per cent interest on a signature loan for a car down payment. I'll loan you 100 per cent of the entire car price at 8 per cent interest." The Bosnian readily agreed. Soon word spread that there was a better way for Bosnians to get that first car purchase, at a much lower interest.
That incident took place about 1996. "We were just doing the right thing for our members," Boutwell says. "We just wanted to help them do better when it came to buying a car, since an automobile is so necessary in our area."
Boutwell had previously gone to Poland with the Georgia Poland Partnership for Credit Unions and learned about the cultural differences in the two countries when it came to credit unions. That heightened his understanding of the plight of immigrants.
Meanwhile, after that first 100 per cent loan to help his Bosnian member obtain transportation, Boutwell soon found his policies on lending credit to Bosnians spreading by word of mouth. And he has also found that Bosnians were good for his credit union, in having a lower charge-off rate than other members!
Soon Boutwell had also hired his first Bosnian immigrant as a part time employee, a student who was able to help translate for Bosnians seeking loans. Later on, his first full time Bosnian employee was Amela Dabo, who Boutwell learned had a college degree from her home country in finance. She is now a branch manager!
The upshot is that the Gwinnett Federal Credit Union has found a niche opportunity for banking Bosnians. Helping out this immigrant population turned out to be good business!
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Graphic Communications Corporation of Lawrenceville, a WBENC certified female-owned and managed company. Graphic Communications is a dynamic full-service print, large-format inkjet and photographic output, fulfillment, point-of-purchase and multi-media communications company. The firm has a digital media and graphic design department for both print and Internet use. Graphic Communications has been awarded the Chain of Custody certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and by the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI). Only a select group of printers in Georgia can provide eco-conscious customers with paper with the FSC or SFI logos, which ensure that the paper is from a well-managed, certified, sustainable forest and that the chain of custody from forest to pulp and to paper manufacturer to merchant---has not been broken. Graphic Communications' biggest strength is its ability to meet tight deadlines along with the ever-present demands for high quality and attention to detail. This ability makes the printing process seamless for its clients. Three of its greatest competitive advantages are: 1) listening, 2) being organized for speed, and 3) being detail fanatics. All of its associates are committed to giving customers exactly what they want, when they want it. Simply, at Graphic Communications, the customer's needs are the driving forces behind everything it does, from investment in technology to the friendly voices that still answer the telephone. For more information, go to http://www.gccprint.com.
Editor, the Forum:
Great job on your Forum! It is a much-needed source of info!
I do think that light rail is one of several solutions to our rush hour traffic nightmare. I've been living in Gwinnett since 1981 and been a Realtor for 22 years. During that time, I have seen voter referendums reject MARTA coming to Gwinnett.
Part of the reasoning was the high cost of the project at a time when rush hour traffic was only beginning to get real bad. The other thinking, fathered with some prejudice, was that the new stations would be an access point for crime to enter our county from the inner city. This second thought may have been the real determinant with voters who feared that property values would go down with the onslaught.
So we didn't get MARTA, but guess what happened as time went on and the traffic got worse? Property values in Gwinnett didn't appreciate as much as inside the Perimeter in places like Virginia Highlands, Doraville, Chamblee and the like. Today, a lesser house of half the size sells for almost twice as much in the aforementioned areas as compared to most of Gwinnett. That would be a multiple of almost four times.
So the outcome the voters feared, lower property values, happened to a greater degree anyway because "the commute" became so hellish that people were willing to do the previously unthinkable act of "moving inside I-285" in order to improve their quality of life. How's that for a Catch 22?
With today's new economic realities, light rail makes more sense than ever and will help bring more pricing parity to the suburbs. We can also catch up faster with shorter construction times. Our previously sleepy rural county now has almost a million people. Mass transit was no longer an option ten years ago. Today it is crucial.
Bear killing senseless; Fort Yargo deer hunts reasonable
When I saw the picture of that majestic creature, I was saddened and amazed at how anyone could kill such a beautiful creature, and then put its carcass on display in a public place of business. An enlarged photograph of the animal in its natural habitat would have been a much more fitting souvenir of the trip.
I live in Winder, near Fort Yargo State Park. Deer hunts have been held in the park during weekends in November and January for the past three years. The deer population was over-abundant and something had to be done about it.
I like the way the State conducts the hunts: they hold a lottery and only allow a certain number of hunters into the park. The hunters must shoot a female before they can shoot bucks. They can volunteer to donate the meat to a group on site and they'll be used to feed the hungry. Have a good day!
Reader gives us spelling, derivation of name of Luxomni
Editor, the Forum:
not Luxomoni. I know you know this, so it's a typo.
Library vacation reading series debuts Wednesday, June 17, featuring noted
musician, Eric Litwin. The 11 a.m. event will be held in the library's
community room and is sponsored by the Braselton Woman's Club.
Walton EMC to hold 73rd annual meeting this Saturday
There might be no such thing as a free lunch - that is, unless you decide to fill up on ice cream at this year's 73rd annual meeting hosted by Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC). On Saturday, June 20, Walton EMC customer-owners are invited to join a day of festivities planned for the entire family.
More than 3,000 Walton EMC customer-owners and their families are expected to participate in the meeting held at Walton County Agricultural Center off Criswell Road, south of Monroe.
The meeting will begin at 8 a.m., with registration and entertainment. The first 1,000 registered customer owners will receive a traditional meeting bucket with items such as a deluxe L.E.D. flashlight and compact fluorescent light bulb.
Duluth Library marks 20th anniversary on June 24
branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library will mark its 20th anniversary
on Wednesday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Duluth Branch is located
at 3480 Duluth Park Lane.
Branch was one of nine libraries built with funds from a $16 million library
bond approved in 1986. The library was relocated to its 10,000 square
foot building after residing for eight years in city hall.
Gwinnett College will open its campus doors on Saturday, June 27, so that
prospective students may visit the 200-acre campus as they begin to make
decisions about where they want to attend college. Check-in and refreshments
will begin at 8 a.m. and guests will be treated to lunch. Parents and
other interested parties also are invited to attend the Open House to
see what Georgia's newest four-year public college has to offer.
Special sessions will cover topics about the admissions process, financial aid, the extra academic support GGC offers, transferring credits to GGC and the services the college offers to the disabled. There will be opportunities to meet with advisers who can help potential students choose the right majors; and faculty and deans, representing each of GGC's academic areas of study, also will be available to meet with students who are considering attending Georgia's "Campus of Tomorrow."
This spring, nearly 1,700 students attend GGC---more than double the student population this time last year---and GGC expects close to 3,000 students on campus next year. Last summer, the college was granted "candidacy status" by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and initial accreditation is expected sometime this year.
The Annual Partnership Community and Economic Development Summit is Gwinnett County's premier event for reporting on the year's business development successes while focusing on the core elements that support positive change and business growth in the community. Highlights from leaders in the economy, business, education, quality of life and marketing offer a snapshot of the year's most noted achievements in these key areas of focus for Gwinnett and the metro Atlanta region.
The summit will begin on July 23 at 7 a.m. with registration and breakfast. The program will begin at 7;30 a.m. at Gwinnett Technical College's Scientific Atlanta Auditorium.
Keynote speaker will be Mac Holladay, president of Market Street Services.
Special guests will include John Baumstark, president and CEO, Suniva Inc. and Carol Henderson, director of Innovation and Technology of the Georgia Department of Economic Development Department; Sharon Bartels, president of Gwinnett Technical College; Glenn Stephens, director of the Gwinnett County Planning and Development; Sharon Gay, partner, McKenna Long and Aldridge; Chuck Warbington, Executive Director, Gwinnett Village CID; Trinity Hundredmark, of Andersen, Tate & Carr; Raychel Rizzo, Georgia Gwinnett College; and Rachel Marascalco, United Way
Gwinnett Ballet Theatre seeking students
Gwinnett Ballet Theatre is seeking new students!
The 2009-2010 Season begins with classes for children ages 3 and up on Monday, August 10. Classes are taught in classical ballet, tap, jazz, modern and hip-hop. Attention to the individual and excellence of instruction are emphasized.
Students are welcomed to audition for GBT's annual production of The Nutcracker during the month of September. Come get acquainted with GBT's teachers and tour the facilities at a special open house on Saturday, August 8 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. For more information, call the GBT studios at 770-978-0188 or visit www.gwinnettballet.org.
The Okefenokee Swamp and environs are a distinctive folk region, shaped by Celtic ethnicity, geographic isolation, and Primitive Baptist religion. The swamp alone covers more than 700 square miles of southeast Georgia and northwest Florida.
Indian peoples occupied the "land of the trembling earth" through the early 1800s, when most were driven out or forcibly removed by Europeans. From the early 19th through the mid-20th century, the swamp was home to an independent, self-sufficient community of "crackers," most of whom came to Georgia from North Carolina and were of Scottish and Scots-Irish origin. They scratched out a living through livestock herding, subsistence agriculture, and naval stores.
For periods in its history, the Okefenokee Swamp was a refuge for Indian people, escaped slaves, Civil War (1861-65) deserters, and others seeking concealment. Various traditional narratives deal with these topics, including accounts by present-day descendants of Indian people who fled to Fort Moniac on the St. Marys River during the Indian removals. In contrast to the widespread view that "there are no Indians in Georgia," family folklore among these descendants suggests that some Indian people stayed in the Okefenokee area, hiding their heritage and intermarrying with early European American settlers.
During the 1800s this region had one of the smallest African American populations in the state. After the Civil War more blacks were drawn to the interior of southeast Georgia by jobs in farming, turpentining, logging, and the railroad industry. Oral accounts describe the work songs of gandy dancers (crews of black railroad track layers), sacred music of black churches, and the blues and juke joints of the black turpentine camps. Of these only the sacred music traditions continue in the region today.
(To Be Continued)
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