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Issue 9.70 | Friday, Dec. 4, 2009 | Forward to your friends!

KEEN ON GREEN. The City of Suwanee is the only community in Gwinnett County and one of only nine in metro Atlanta to be certified "green" by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). This shows bicyclists on the Suwanee Creek Greenway. The ARC's Green Communities certification program recognizes communities that have taken measures to reduce their environmental footprint and promote sustainability. Some of Suwanee's efforts noted by the ARC include: requiring that all new City-owned buildings larger than 5,000 square feet be LEED certified; adoption of a lights out/power down policy requiring employees to turn off lights and all other non-essential electronic equipment when not in use; City Hall's Energy Star-rated cool roof; the City's Open Space initiative and protection of nine percent of total land area as greenspace; implementation of a green fleet policy, no idling policy, and environmentally preferable purchasing policy; the Suwanee Farmers Market; and Suwanee's encouragement of mixed-use redevelopment and implementation of smart-growth practices in the Downtown Master Plan. (Photo by David Douglas, ten1 photography.)

:: Improvements at Gwinnett Place

:: Obama's decision may be defining

:: News print to fit?

:: Letters on trains, animals

:: Holiday tours, concert, museum

:: Train exhibit, Dwyer promotion


_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor

_:: RECOMMENDED: Westlake book

_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: Big court decision

:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Jefferson on fear

_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries


ABOUT US 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. Contact us today.



Yule shoppers will see improvements around Gwinnett Place
Area general manager, Gwinnett Place Mall
Special to

DULUTH, Ga., Dec. 4, 2009 -- The holiday season always brings the desire to find that perfect gift, that just-right item to add joy to the lives of those we care about. And now more than ever, Gwinnettians have an even stronger desire to get the most of every holiday dollar. This includes finding bargains that are close to home.


This year greater Gwinnett Place has welcomed dozens of new businesses, adding names that you already know in addition to international companies coming here for the first time. These new locations enhance and compliment our area's existing base of dining, shopping, hotel and entertainment venues.

To help make this holiday season even easier, the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (CID) has initiated numerous efforts benefiting those spending time in the county's central business district.

Before you even get in the car, there is a unique resource to get an inside track on area destinations. The CID created the site to serve as a one-stop-shop of information for businesses and retailers throughout Gwinnett Place. The site even includes special discounts and coupons available exclusively online.

Once in the District, you will find traveling from point to point is more easily accomplished because of the CID's ongoing traffic signal retiming efforts throughout this year. In peak travel times, drivers will collectively save 98,000 hours and nearly 59,000 gallons of gas annually because of the CID-funded initiative to make the signals function more efficiently.

Our visitors will see enhanced landscaping and street signage, including direction assistance, added by the CID. The area is also well maintained through the CID's daily community patrols and routine roadway cleaning to ensure it remains attractive and inviting.

In the future, area travel will be even smoother with the redesign and reconstruction of the Pleasant Hill Road bridge over I-85. This month the CID's Board of Directors approved an agreement with a professional engineering firm to complete preliminary planning to replace the now-outdated interstate crossing. Having these efforts completed ahead of time will help speed up the eventual construction.

To coincide with the bridge replacement, the CID is pursuing another key area roadway improvement. This month the Board of Directors secured funding for engineering assistance for widening and relocating Venture Drive between Steve Reynolds Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road. The realignment will allow faster, safer access to major thoroughfares.

Another recent undertaking shaping our future is the approval of a tax allocation district (TAD) to provide redevelopment incentives for greater Gwinnett Place. With TAD-supported improvements and revitalization, our area could experience as many as 11,233 new jobs resulting in $470 million in annual payroll in the coming decade.

While there are many great projects and improvements destined for our area, the CID would like for everyone seeking shopping and entertainment options to remember that greater Gwinnett Place is their best choice for neighborhood convenience.

Obama's latest move could put stamp on his presidency
Editor and publisher

DEC. 4, 2009 -- The move that President Obama announced Tuesday night to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan may be the central item that will put a stamp on his presidency for some time.


The Obama Administration may be known, as much as anything else, for the outcome of the moves in Afghanistan.

If the move proves positive….if the Taliban is neutralized more than they have been….if the Afghani government can begin to offer solid policing within its boundaries….and if the troop deployments can be reduced by 2011 as the president has indicated…..the Obama fortunes will prove successful.

However, if this effort goes badly, it might even cause the Democrats to lose control of the Congress, and possibly could bring about a Republican president, either in two or six years.

So far the efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan through deployment of friendly forces have not worked as anticipated. The continued bad news out of this country, along with what appears to be a strengthened Taliban, plus problems in nearby Pakistan, have caused more and more people to be concerned.

After all, why do we in the United States think that we can bring peace to a country mired in problems within its borders, when none other than the Soviet Union a few years ago could not? And take note that the Russian forces were a whole lot closer, geographically, than is the United States, which must supply men and materiel from halfway around the world! It gives you pause.

Yet President Obama has taken the time to listen to the different voices giving him advice, and has taken the counsel of his top military man in Afghanistan in agreeing to send in more force. We can only pray that this additional strength can prove sufficient to thwart the enemy. (And we haven't even addressed if we can afford the war's cost and what it is doing to our economy!)

Interestingly, President Obama did not have to take this route. After all, he inherited a war in both Iraq and Afghanistan from his predecessor. We must say that the earlier decision by President Bush to strengthen the forces in Iraq appears to have been a good move militarily. Coupled with an improvement in the political situation in Iraq, we can now see an eventual pull-out of most American forces in that country.

President Obama has taken a similar move to the adding of forces in Iraq. We can only hope and pray that this will lead to a more stabilized Afghanistan, and indeed, a quick reduction in forces by 2011 that the president seeks.

We are also reminded of another former president who inherited a war. Lyndon Johnson sought to prosecute the war in Vietnam that was not of his choosing. That war took a toll on LBJ, to the extent that he did not seek another term in office as president. We remember when President Johnson told the nation on March 31, 1968 that "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President."

Though the war ended much later, the signal that LBJ would not run was a turning point which eventually led to the US pull-out of Vietnam.

Now President Obama has made his decision. We hope it does not come to haunt him….and us.

Garden Plaza at Lawrenceville

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's underwriter is Garden Plaza at Lawrenceville, one of Gwinnett County's newest retirement communities. The 150-unit community boasts a full range of amenities, including an indoor swimming pool, spa facilities, fitness center, beauty/barber shop, Internet café, courtyard gardens and separate garages. The apartment homes (studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom) are leased on a monthly basis to senior adults 55 and older. The team at Garden Plaza is committed to providing extraordinary customer service. We believe our programs and services are operated at a level of excellence that exceeds our residents' needs and expectations. The action-packed recreational calendar includes outdoor excursions, as well as anything from movie matinees and shopping trips to educational seminars and live performances. Visit the web site at

News print to fit?

There was reason behind quick razing of train stations

Editor, the Forum:

Yes, Atlanta lost two treasures when it demolished both of its main passenger stations. Demolition started almost before the last trains were out of sight.

Terminal Station was closed in June of 1970 and demolition began a few weeks later. The building was gone by mid-1971. Union Station went even more quickly, the last train departing on April 30, 1971, and the building being destroyed by the end of the year.

While I can't prove it, I suspect that both these structures were deliberately destroyed very quickly (even though, in the case of Union Station, no use of the site was made for several years) to avoid a public outcry similar to that which surrounded the Fox Theater. The theater was, happily, saved, but Southern Bell lost quite a bit of money because of the delays in getting its building constructed. This was very fresh in the minds of the owning railroads and they wanted to avoid delays and to be able to capitalize on the extremely valuable real estate.

But I would suppose that land in Atlanta is no more valuable than that in Kansas City or Omaha. Sad; very sad.

-- Robert H. Hanson, Loganville

Passenger rail service was almost culture unto itself

Editor, the Forum:

As a native Atlantan with historical ties to the railroads, I loved the recent piece about Atlanta train stations being torn down. My father and both grandfathers worked the rails into and out of the town of Terminus, which became Marthasville, then Atlanta. I never knew my grandfathers since they passed on before my birth, but relied on Mom's and Dad's tales of the railroad life.

Dad's father was killed in Inman Yard (Southern RR) when Dad was four. Mom's father fared better and was able to retire after a career with Seaboard AirLine Railroad. My father retired in 1970 after having worked for Seaboard, which became Seaboard Coastline, which became CSX.

I was scheduled to work the extra board (vacation filler) at Seaboard's Howell Yard during the summer of 1967 but the merger of Seaboard and Atlantic Coastline Railroad threw that by the wayside. It was the summer between my first and second years of college and since the money would have been astronomical, had I been hired, I might not have returned to school. I'm sure Dad knew it could be deadly too but he never vetoed it.

Mom was born in Winder but raised in Loganville. These were two stops on the Seaboard/Gainesville Midland RR routes through what was still very much the cotton growing South. The Loganville and Lawrenceville rail line roughly paralleled Georgia Highway 20 between the two towns. Now back to your story.

As dependents, we could ride unlimited on Seaboard and through reciprocal agreements once a year on other railroads. My, how I remember Terminal station in Atlanta and Birmingham, Penn Station in New York, and many others. But, alas, as you stated the interstate highway system led to the decline in passenger rail service and the railroads weren't about to put a big dollar freight train on a siding for a passenger train to go through. The intermediate answer was to hang a couple of passenger cars onto the tail of a freight train to comply with federal regulations. It sought the best of both worlds for everyone….but the passengers.

What will the future hold? Who knows? MARTA's light rail service was built with limited access almost entirely parallel to existing heavy rail lines. Why? In some cases because of state 100 year leases to the railroads which would run freight, not passengers, for the bucks. What about "The Brain Train" from Atlanta to Athens? How many millions (billions?) will it take to put depots and terminals back in service since there was no foresight back in the 60s and 70s? Rail was a darn good way to travel and leave the driving to someone else. It was almost a culture unto itself. And not a bad one at that!

-- Howard N. Williams, Jr., Snellville

Rail column brings back earlier train trip memories

Editor, the Forum:

Your column on railroad stations stirred many memories for this old gal. I logged several thousand miles from the Dallas Union Station. First trip was to New York, coach! Then back and forth to college in Denver. Also coach, and having to decide whether to rent a pillow or have a beer in the bar car. Much later, of trips on the rail line from Basking Ridge, N.J., to Newark, then rapid transit into NYC. Those cars were so old they had original cane seating, in poor condition. Daily commuters carried small blankets to sit on to protect their clothes.

A favorite memory is of my cousins and me running up the down escalators at Union Station. Thanks for bringing these things back to mind.

-- Rosie Walsh, Sugar Hill

More thoughts concerning use of animals in med research

Editor's Note: the following letter is from the president of the Americans For Medical Advancement ( -- eeb

Editor, the Forum:

It has come to my attention that the pros and cons of animal-based research are being debated in your publication. As a physician and co-author of several books on the subject, I want to take this opportunity to comment on the science of using animals to study human disease and drug reactions.

While there is no doubt that animals and humans have much in common, the very small differences are, in the final analysis, more important. This can perhaps best be illustrated by examining the differences between humans. For decades, physicians have known that men and women, people of different ethnicities and even identical (or monozygotic) twins respond differently to drugs and disease. We now understand the reason for these different responses is due to very small differences in genes: their regulation and expression.

Regardless of how one feels about the ethics of using animals in science, people deserve the best research for their tax and charity dollars. Society is not best served by funding researchers who claim they can predict what a drug or disease will do in human by studying animals.

-- Ray Greek MD, Goleta, Calif.

Send us a letter. We encourage readers to submit feedback or letters to the editor. Send your thoughts to editor at We will edit for length and clarity. Make sure to include your name and city where you live. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 200 words or less. However, if you write 500 words, we'll consider it for Today's Focus.

Two cities plan holiday tour of homes this weekend

Two Gwinnett communities -- Grayson and Norcross -- will have tours of their cities on Saturday, December 5.

The Grayson Arts and History Center presents the third annual Grayson Christmas Tour of Homes. Five homes will be showcased and all adorned in holiday splendor. Proceeds from the Tour will benefit the History Center and the Grayson Historic Preservation Society. Tickets can be purchased at Grayson City Hall, The Grayson Arts and History Center and the Grayson UPS Store. In an effort to eliminate congestion in the various subdivisions, transportation to all homes will be provided.

Parking will be available at the Arts and History Center, Grayson City Park, City Hall and other marked areas. The homes will be open from 10a.m. until 6 p.m. with final tickets being sold at 4 p.m. For more information regarding the Grayson Christmas Tour of Homes, call Barbara Hinkle at 678-985-7775.

Norcross will have its seventh annual Tour of Homes. The homes of the tour will be open during the day, and at night, from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., with the night tour by candlelight. A special collector's Christmas ornament, depicting the county's original Norcross library, will be sold.

Parking, a trolley and tickets are available at First Baptist Church of Norcross the day of the tour. For more information, on-line and group ticket purchasing, and volunteer opportunities, visit
Five homes will be open for touring. For more detailed information on the homes, go to

Gwinnett Symphony and Chorus plans concert on Dec. 8

The Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will present a Masterworks II concert Tuesday, December 8, at 7 p.m. at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center.

Among the items on the program for this concert include Shostakovich: Festive Overture; Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #2 with Huu Mai, piano; Handel's Messiah, Christmas Portion; and Williams: Three Holiday Songs from Home Alone.

Handlel's Messiah soloists will include Jennifer Coker and Elaine Wade, as sopranos; Clarke Harris, countertenor; William Scott Mize, tenor; and Bart Gilleland, bass. The organist and harpsichordist will be Ed Weaver, of Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Stone Mountain.

Patrons may purchase Masterworks II tickets online Tickets will be available at the will-call ticket window 60 minutes prior to the event.

Duluth History Museum open on weekend for holiday festival

As part of Duluth Hometown Holidays Festival, the Strickland House, Duluth's History Museum, is busy getting ready for the holidays. It will be open for Hometown Holidays, December 5 and 6. Extend your trip to the Duluth History Museum. There is lots to see and learn about Duluth.

There is bus service to the museum from the town green this year. A docent will be on the site to give bits of history about the city. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children.

Norcross group installs old-time train exhibit in storefront

Norcross resident and toy train collector Terry Bowie has set out to recreate one of those remarkable holiday window displays, mimicking their drama and stature. Set in a downtown Norcross storefront window adjacent to LaBaire's Pottery, Bowie teamed with fellow toy train enthusiasts to create an impressive display. It's a 16x8 foot display, which boasts a double tier of tracks, synchronized so that four engines run simultaneously without ever crossing paths at the same moment.

The toy train display will be activated during Downtown Historic Norcross carriage rides, beginning December 4 from 6 to 9p.m. The display will also be running during the Tour of Homes candlelight tours. For other times, visit

The Lionel trains are a toy train collector's envy, collected over several decades by Bowie. Many of the pieces had never been outside of their boxes. Jim Barrett was the team's designer, engineering a route and calculating complex algorithms that allow the trains to safely and consistently run at full speed. Brian Lynch, the team's carpenter, created a sturdy cabinet-grade base and then cut the route pattern from wood. Then Ed Bonnell, another team worker, assembled and secured the pieces of track, using hundreds and hundreds of tiny screws.

Setting up a toy train display is a far greater engineering feat than most people realize. What is especially amazing about the display is how quickly it was accomplished. Bowie says: "What these guys have pulled off in one week normally takes experienced installers over a month to do. Alan Evans is our electrician and is getting the wiring to where one train will run and blow its whistle - he still has three more to go! What these guys have created in a week is just about a miracle."

The effect is mesmerizing. Grandparents, parents and kids of all ages can see an uncommon work of art, a thing of magic, something appropriate in a little town that got its start as a train stop, well over 100 years ago.

Nancy Dwyer new human resource director at Emory Eastside


Emory Eastside Medical Center announces the selection of Nancy A. Dwyer as the hospital's new vice president of human resources. Dwyer is a 17 year veteran with healthcare and human resources, according to Kim Ryan, CEO of Emory Eastside. She will be responsible for all human resources operations at Emory Eastside and the Heritage Center, totaling approximately 1,500 employees. Prior to the move to Emory Eastside, she served as the director of human resources at Henrico Doctors' Hospital, a 540-bed multi-site facility employing over 2,200 employees in Richmond, Va. As an active volunteer in Richmond, she was affiliated with Galloping Acres Foundation for therapeutic horseback riding and Meals on Wheels. Dwyer is originally from Augusta, Ga.

Money for Nothing by Donald Westlake

"Donald Westlake is one of the best crime-suspense authors around these days. He is particularly good when you hear his recorded books, with his plot moving easily with well-drawn characters. He's the author of over 100 books, winner of numerous awards, and quite entertaining. This book involves an almost-randomly chosen guy who, after seven years finds out what checks arriving monthly for $1,000 can lead up to, with the unanticipated and complex drama that unfolds involving a possible assassination of a Third World leader at Yankee Stadium. It's easily followed, and thoroughly entertaining….and best of all, keeps you awake while driving." -- eeb

  • 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

1973's Doe v. Bolton was key decision in abortion issue

In early cases, such as Fletcher v. Peck (1810), the U.S. Supreme Court flirted with the notion that American citizens may possess rights enforceable against governments even when those rights are not spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. The Court may have been willing to entertain this idea in part because the original Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government and not to the states.

The legal proceedings behind Doe v. Bolton began in 1970, when the Atlanta branch of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society hired a lawyer named Margie Pitts Hames to challenge the abortion restrictions that Georgia's lawmakers had enacted in 1968. These restrictions allowed abortion only upon approval by a hospital committee in cases that involved serious threats to the pregnant woman's health, risks of serious birth defects if the fetus were carried to term, or a pregnancy that had resulted from rape. Hames enlisted Sandra Bensing, a pregnant woman with three children who had separated from her husband, to initiate the lawsuit, as Georgia law prevented Bensing from obtaining an abortion in the state. Bensing sued Arthur Bolton, the attorney general of Georgia, and demanded that the state eliminate the laws that limited women's ability to obtain abortions. The case was titled Doe v. Bolton, and on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court announced its verdict.

In Doe, Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for seven members of the Court, held that the Constitution rendered invalid not only absolute bans on abortion but also more qualified prohibitions as well. Rejecting in particular the state's committee-review requirement, the Court spoke broadly of "the woman's right to receive medical care in accordance with her licensed physician's best judgment," free from significant restriction by the government.


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It is all depending who does the fearing

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

-- Thomas Jefferson, the third US president. via Roy McCreary, Dacula.


Those interested in the history of Gwinnett need to know that the recently published book: Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta, has sold fast, with the first editions about sold out. Get yours before they're gone. Go to to order, or buy the book at a local bookstore shown on the site.

The books are available at:

  • Books for Less in downtown Snellville and Lawrenceville (Highway 20 near the Braves park);
  • Labaire Pottery, downtown Norcross


12/30: Loss of confidence

12/23: We say, "Happy Holidays"

12/18: Remembering Mr. Tubs

12/15: Hidden weapons not jolly

12/11: Gwinnett most diverse

12/8: County is arrogant

12/4: Defining moment for Obama?

12/1: Atlanta train stations razed

11/25: Remembering John Adams

11/20: Better schools needed

11/17: Privatizing rest areas

11/13: Batty congressman

11/17: Privatizing rest areas

11/13: Batty congressman

11/10: About Ga's bank failures

11/6: Freida Hill, more

11/3: Shepherd of the Hills

EEB index of columns


12/30: Guynn: Teaching giving

12/23: Barksdale: White House tree

12/18: Mason: P'tree Cnrs tipping pt?

12/15: Anders: Hospitality honors

12/11: Wascher: Rail favored

12/8: Page: Be safe during holidays

12/4: Piccolo: Gwinnett Place

12/1: Collins: Turkey dinners

11/25: Dominy: Great liftoff

11/20: Bland: Gwinnett, Nicaragua

11/17: Sharp: Homelessness

11/13: Baxter: A Better South

11/10: Markwalter: Lawrenceville

11/6: Pope: DOT project

11/3: Kurtz: About P-cards

FOR CHARITY. You can give "A Gift of Laughter," a great book of cartoons by Bill McLemore, to help raise money for Rainbow Village. At just $20, it's a fun way to help. To order, call 770-497-1888, or email to


We encourage you to check out our sister publications:

Georgia Clips offers a similar daily news compilation for the scores of newspapers in Georgia's 159 counties.

SC Clips -- a daily news compilation of South Carolina news from media sources across the state. Delivered by email about the time you get to work every business day. Saves you a lot of money and time. -- an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Charleston, S.C.

SC Statehouse Report -- a weekly legislative forecast that keeps you a step ahead of what happens at the South Carolina Statehouse. It's free.


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