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Issue 9.87 | Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010 | Forward to your friends!

MEN AT WORK: Work is nearing completion on the new 72,000 square foot Lawrenceville Police Station, which is expected to completed by late March and occupied by May. The new station, at the corner of Jackson Street and Scenic Highway, is expected to come in under its $6 million construction budget. Choate Construction of Atlanta is the prime contractor. Lawrenceville Police Chief Randy Johnson says the building will house his 72 sworn officers, and 21 support personnel. (Photo copyright by Aerial Innovations, with photography by Sheri Christianson and used by permission.)


TODAY'S FOCUS
:: On Peachtree Corners' "city" status

ELLIOTT BRACK'S PERSPECTIVE
:: Commercial flights to Gwinnett?

FEEDBACK
:: Letters on Nesbit, rail, guns

UPCOMING
:: Chamber honorees, Tech Forum, more

NOTABLE
:: Museum addition, Japanese scholarships

ALSO INSIDE

_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor
_:: RECOMMENDED: Send us a review
_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: Tybee Island lighthouse
_
:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Peale on tomorrow
_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries


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TODAY'S FOCUS
Now Peachtree Corners says it wants to be a city -- sorta
By MIKE MASON
United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA)
Special to GwinnettForum.com

NORCROSS, Ga., Feb. 9, 2010 -- There was a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week announcing that Peachtree Corners was pursuing city status. This is true, but not as a typical city. Here's the background.

As you know, we had asked our legislators to explore a Planning District for Peachtree Corners in the current legislative session. After only a short time, Senator Dan Weber and Representative Tom Rice explained that the Planning District concept would face significant opposition. The reason for the opposition was that we made the Planning District look too much like a city.

For reference, we changed the legislative proposal after overwhelming citizen input favored electing our own officials rather than having the County Commission appoint them. We also insisted upon firm borders to avoid annexation by neighboring Cities. These conditions made the Planning District so similar to a city that, to avoid legislative opposition, we decided to explore an approach called a "City Lite."

This "City Lite" concept is based on limited government at a limited cost. This kind of city would provide only three services (for example, the same two services that the Planning District would provide plus trash pickup) and would receive all other services from Gwinnett County. We estimate that it would cost about the same 0.5 to 1 mills in taxes ($20 to $40 per year per $100,000 of home value), similar to the original Planning District. To validate this approach, we asked the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government to conduct a feasibility study of this "City-Lite" model (paid for by UPCCA) before we proceed.

Because we all have a stake in the outcome, we would appreciate others' input and assistance. We are forming a Charter Team (to develop the City Charter), a Legislative Team (this is Senator Dan Weber and Representative Tom Rice) and a Communications Team (to get the word out to the community).

Our time frame is short, limited by the length of the legislative session. As always, we will keep our members posted via email and at our monthly meetings. Please send this to people as broadly as you can to help us get the word out.

If you have questions, please contact me. (Email: jmichaelmason@comcast.net.)

EEB PERSPECTIVE
New efforts surface to give Gwinnett commercial flights
By ELLIOTT BRACK
Editor and publisher

FEB. 9, 2010 -- Back about 25 years ago, there was interest in making Gwinnett's Briscoe Field into a commercial airport. Envisioned were direct flights to cities of 500-750 miles away. Some called it wrongly a "second Atlanta airport." However, it was envisioned as a much smaller, feeder airport into cities from Memphis to Orlando and Miami, and up the East Coast to Washington, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, etc.


Brack

Anticipated was that many northside passengers would use Briscoe Field for two reasons: eliminating the commute to Hartsfield-International, and saving time on checking in, parking, etc., and shorter ramp-waiting times before taking off.

The Gwinnett Chamber did an extensive study of the proposal. All this, by 1990, when Gwinnett had a population of 352,000, showed that such an airport could become viable. Had off-price carriers come in here then (think Southwest), it would have had a dramatic effect on air fares unto this day.

But it never happened. This died a fast death when county commissioners nixed the idea. Yet it was essentially a good proposal.

Now, with Gwinnett's population near 800,000 people, this time the idea of developing Briscoe Field as a commercial airport comes from a private firm, Propeller Investments. They want Gwinnett to be in the running for five airports that the Federal Aviation Administration wants to privatize. This firm says it has the financial backing to make this happen.

To take place, Gwinnett commissioners need to apply for one of the five spots in this privatization program of the FAA. Such a proposal is a relatively simple application that would make Gwinnett a candidate for becoming a private airport.


Drawing of what a new airport could look like.

Two major elements would come with such a privatization. Even a small airport, with as few as three flights an hour during the day, would bring a tremendous economic impact of the county. Essentially, a significant number of jobs would become Gwinnett-based, from airline positions at the terminal, to auto rental fleet slots, to those working on the runways, and more.

Airline passengers would see immediate benefits, and flow to Gwinnett from all several counties around us to catch these direct flights. The attraction, besides saving time, would the cheaper flights that new off-price airlines could bring. There's even a feeling that mighty Delta Air Lines would be forced to meet the competition and have originating flights here.

It's a win-win, in our opinion. Most major cities have some type of feeder airport relieving a small portion of flights at the main airport. Not Atlanta, as the City of Atlanta and Delta in particular have opposed the plan for obvious reasons.

While the earlier proposal for a commercial airport in Lawrenceville was sound, it lacked one element: the ready capital to get it done, which would have to be raised by the local government. By privatizing, this is no longer a burden on the county, as the county would benefit from either the sale of the airport, or, if the airport was leased to the operators, the county would gain steady rental fees each year.

The people proposing the privatizing of Briscoe Field have done their homework. About every question you could have, from How to Why, is brought up on their web site. To learn more, go to http://www.whyprivatizebriscoe.com/, and see for yourself.

Relatively cheap, quick flights to distant East Coast and Midwestern cities? It could happen with quick action by the Gwinnett County Commission. The commission's approval of such a plan could stamp their time in office with dramatically changing Gwinnett for the good for ages to come.

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FEEDBACK
Martha Simpson Nesbit was a trailblazer, and his friend

Editor, the Forum:

The first time I parked my car in front of Curtis and Martha Nesbit's house I remember well. I was there to pick up their daughter, Frances, for a date. I knocked, the door opened, and there standing before me was Mrs. Martha Nesbit, a slender, well-groomed, Southern lady. I remember thinking to myself, "If her daughter turns out like she did, I want to come back." I did not know she was a school teacher and had a very strong opinion as to the welfare and well-being of her daughter.


Mrs. Nesbit

For the next two years I considered Mrs. Nesbit my enemy.

Years passed, Frances married one of my high school friends and I traveled to Atlanta to find a young lady that would become my wife for 35 wonderful years.

Mrs. Nesbit was my oldest daughter's sixth grade teacher. During that year I began to understand something I thought I knew. She was a good person, dedicated teacher, loving mother, and outstanding human being.

In February 2001, I lost my wife. The next day Mrs. Nesbit lost her only daughter. At the funeral I stood under a tent with her and I apologized for causing her any grief. She looked at me, smiled, and confessed she always liked me. Over the past eight years we wrote each other. She would ask about the family and I would ask about her health.

On January 28, I sat in the pew at Crowell Brothers Funeral Home as two pastors and two granddaughters gave an abbreviated story of her life.

She was a trailblazer, raised her family, then went back to college, began teaching school, and eventually became the first woman to hold an administrative position in the Gwinnett County School System. When schools were integrated, Mrs. Nesbit, with open arms and an open heart, welcomed all students into her classroom, and hired the first minority teacher for a previously-all-white school. She was a visionary and without a doubt a classy, Southern, genteel lady.

When we are young we never know who will touch our life. Mrs. Martha Ruth Simpson Nesbit (1918-2010) touched my life in a very special way. I am proud we shared some of this journey together. I am a better person because I knew her and I would hope she would say the same about me.

-- Raymond J. Mattison, Winder

Upset that Georgia didn't get high-speed rail funding

Editor, the Forum:

While surrounding states have received billions in 2010 to fund high-speed rail projects, the state of Georgia received a measly $750,000. When asked why, Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood simply stated that "Georgia doesn't have its act together. Any region that got money had their act together."

In Charlotte N.C., funding was received for high-speed rail transportation from Charlotte to Washington D.C., with a stop in Richmond. I can only imagine the economic advantage that this gives Charlotte over Atlanta.

In Florida, high-speed rail will connect Tampa to Orlando and Miami, providing fast and reliable transportation for thousands of commuters.

When will Georgia get its act together? We've been talking about the Brain Train for years, and it remains just talk. This would connect most of our university campuses with high-speed rail from downtown Atlanta to Athens. It would include 12 stops, four of which are in Gwinnett County. It is estimated it would serve up to 10,000 commuters each day. In a metro area where the average commute is 30 minutes to an hour each way, can you imagine taking thousands of cars each day off our interstates? Studies show it would not only remove more than 5,000 cars per day from our interstates but it is also 25 times safer than driving.

Our Governor's plan to address transportation issues is to add another sales tax. Let me get this straight. Other states are receiving billions in transportation funding, while we as Georgians are being asked to pay more in sales taxes to fund our projects? Wake up Governor, we didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday.

-- Brian Mock, Norcross

Here's one who wants concealed guns on college campuses

Editor, the Forum:

You have made it clear that you do not agree with a proposed new gun law. I have a license to carry a concealed weapon. There are certain places by law I am not allowed to have a weapon for my protection, so I don't carry a weapon in those places.

My point being: The laws we have only work for law-abiding citizens. The law does not stop criminals from breaking the law. The terms you use, "thugs, gang members, people associated with drugs, unsavory elements of society"--- these people are not law-abiding citizens. The law as it stands today protects the unsavory elements of our society from law-abiding citizens.

If the man in Griffin was reported for spraying his backyard with gunfire, why was he not in jail? Was he allowed to legally have a weapon? If I went out in my backyard right now and fired one shot in the air, Gwinnett's finest would be here in five minutes hauling me to jail. I would lose my right to carry a concealed weapon or even the right to bear arms completely. I am a responsible gun owner, I know what goes up must come down. I have no intention of pointing my gun at anyone unless I feel the need to protect my life.

As for guns allowed on university campuses: what better place for an unsavory member of our society to go on a shooting spree? Not one law-abiding citizen is allowed to have a firearm to stop you from killing as many responsible members of our society as you want.

The proper law would be to give me the right to protect myself anywhere the unsavory element of our society is allowed to go.

Could you please not use my name? I do not want some thug reading your Forum to look me up and come still my guns while I'm away. Thanks for getting my feathers riled. I love the Forum.

-- Female in Lawrenceville

Dear Female: At least we got you to thinking. We have differing views. We feel guns cause more problems than they solve. As for guns on campus, protecting students is the job of the University police, and they do a good job, as long as guns are not allowed on campus.--eeb

Send us a letter. We encourage readers to submit feedback or letters to the editor. Send your thoughts to editor at elliott@brack.net. 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.

UPCOMING
Chamber honors Dr. Sandler, others with annual awards

Several Gwinnenttians were honored by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce at its 62nd annual dinner over the weekend. The Chamber honorees include its Citizen of the Year, Public Service Award winners and others at its annual program.

To read the accolades of the honorees, click here.

Tech forum to hear panelists on local data center trends

The February 16 meeting of the Gwinnett Technology Forum will feature a panel on the topic, "Data Center Trends and Happenings." It will start at 7:30 a.m. at the Busbee Auditorium of Gwinnett Technical College. Panelists include John Welch of McDean; Brenda Robbins, Georgia Power; and Tom Lowry, Corus360. The moderator will be John Cobb Lynx of Real Estate Group.

In 2009, Gwinnett and North Fulton issued a Mission Critical Whitepaper identifying a strong and vibrant data center presence in North Metro Atlanta. With multiple options for fiber, electricity and space, Gwinnett and the north metro region stands poised as one of the Southeast's leading locations for data center and mission critical sites.

Experts from the industry will discuss its various aspects and what they consider when looking to locate their operation in a community; everything from power consumption and cooling, the pros and cons of buying, building or leasing and trends to watch for in 2010.

Register here or contact Lindsay Wing at lindsay@gwinnettchamber.org or by calling 678 957-4944.

Suwanee offering 2 lessons on organic gardening

All 76 available plots at Suwanee's new organic community garden have been claimed for the 2010 season. Construction at the White Street Park site, including Suwanee's Harvest Farm community garden, is underway.

FOSCO Inc. of Duluth is the contractor for phase one of White Street Park, Suwanee's fifth park to be created using open space bond funds. Current construction includes the community garden and core park infrastructure, such as parking and irrigation. Mathias Corp., also of Duluth, has been contracted to renovate the existing barn.

Planting is anticipated for the spring, and a community grand opening celebration is tentatively scheduled for June 19.

Meanwhile, the Harvest Farm Founders Committee is offering a class on organic gardening the last week of February. The course, offered in two sessions, is open to anyone; participants need not have a plot in the new community garden.

The class will be offered at 10 a.m. at City Hall on Wednesday, February 24, and Saturday, February 27. The same information will be offered in each session. Pre-registration is not required.

Sierra Club to hear of goings-on at state Capitol

The Gwinnett Group of the Sierra Club will hear Lobbyist Neill Herring and legislative and chapter chair, Mark Woodall, give the low down on what is going on in the Georgia Legislative session. The meeting will be February 18 at 7 p.m. at Berkmar High School. For more information, contact Tom Morrissey at thmorrissey@bellsouth.net or call 404-513-4069.

NOTABLE
Duluth Railway Museum adds educational coordinator

An educational coordinator has joined the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth. She is Beth Kovach, who grew in Lawrenceville. She joins the Museum from the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Va. The rail museum will be expanding in new directions in 2010 under Ms. Kovach's leadership.

Ms. Kovach's responsibilities will include educational programming, staff training in the education department, promoting and scheduling tours, public outreach and educational staff recruiting.

She received a degree in anthropology from the University of Georgia and a Master's Degree in Anthropology and Museum Training from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. While in D.C. she completed an internship at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

She is married to Dr. Charles Kovach and they have a two year old son, Westley, and a six month old daughter, Caroline.

Japanese offering scholarships overseas for U.S. citizens

Since its establishment in 1954, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Scholarship Program has funded about 65,000 students from some 160 countries to study in Japan. The Consulate General of Japan announces that it is currently accepting applications in two categories:

The Japanese Studies Scholarship is a one-year scholarship for undergraduate Japanese or Asian Studies majors or minors to study the Japanese language and culture at a university in Japan. Benefits of the program include a monthly allowance of approximately $1,200; transportation to and from Japan; and university tuition. To qualify, applicant must be a citizen of the United States, be between 18 and 30 years old. All applicants must have a good knowledge of the Japanese language and be able to arrive in Japan in early October 2010.

The Teacher Training Scholarship is a year and a half program available to U.S. primary or secondary school teachers (or academic staff at teacher training institutions) who wish to study at a Japanese university for professional improvement. Benefits of the program include a monthly allowance of approximately $1,500; transportation to and from Japan; and university tuition. To qualify, applicant must be a U.S. citizen, and be under 35 years of age. All applicants must be graduates of a university or teacher training college and work as teachers in a primary or secondary school, or as an academic staff at a teacher training institution, and have at least 5-years of experience. No knowledge of Japanese is required, though applicants should be willing to learn Japanese and receive instruction in that language.

Further details and applications are available at the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta's Web site. Applications are due March 1, 2010.

RECOMMENDED
Send us your recommendations

  • 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

GEORGIA ENCYCLOPEDIA
Tybee lighthouse near Savannah was first in Georgia

Located at the mouth of the Savannah River, the Tybee Island Lighthouse was the first on Georgia's coast. Erected in 1736 and standing only 90 feet high, this structure served as a day mark for ships coming into the port of Savannah. It was, unfortunately, built too close to shore and was toppled by a severe storm in 1741.

Rebuilt in 1742 again too close to the sea, this second structure suffered the same fate. A third tower, 100 feet high and constructed of brick, was completed in 1773 at a site farther back from the ocean. In 1790 the Tybee Lighthouse joined the federally operated U.S. Lighthouse Establishment. Using large candles with large metal discs as an illuminate for the lantern room, Tybee changed its status from day mark to lighthouse.

In 1822 a second, shorter lighthouse was built on Tybee Island adjacent to the first. By sailing to a position where the two lighthouses were aligned, a mariner could accurately approach the Savannah River channel. This system of two lights is called range lights.

By 1857 a second-order Fresnel lens was installed in the main lighthouse. Invented in 1823, the Fresnel lens produces a bright beam by concentrating and magnifying light, which can be seen up to 18 miles out to sea. First-and second-order lenses (the largest) are used on seacoasts and are called landfall lights; third- and fourth-order lenses signal harbor entrances; and fifth- and sixth-order lenses (the smallest) mark rivers and channels.

The light produced by the Fresnel lens was so brilliant that in 1861, when Union troops occupied Tybee, Confederates stationed nearby at Fort Pulaski were sent to burn the lighthouse's wooden stairs and landings. The Union soldiers repaired the damage, however, and used the tower until the surrender of Fort Pulaski in 1862. Four years later a new lighthouse was built, using the lower 60 feet of the 1773 structure as a foundation. Activated in 1867, this 154-foot tower was reclassified as a major aid to navigation and required three keepers to staff the station.

Once the light was converted to electricity in 1933, there was no longer a need for three keepers. Maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard until 1987, this lighthouse remains one of America's most intact light stations, with all its historic support structures still on site. The station is now maintained by the Tybee Island Historical Society and is open to the public.

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TODAY'S QUOTE
What you should do about tomorrow

"Let nothing that happens today or has happened before discourage you about tomorrow."

-- Minister, author and progenitor of the theory of positive thinking Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (1898 -1993), via Cindy Evans, Duluth.

MODERN HISTORY OF GWINNETT

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 http://www.elliottbrack.com/ 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

MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE

4/27: Asian temple to open

4/23: Airport delay

4/20: Red Cross building

4/16: Grand openings

4/13: Congressional races

4/9: Gwinnett in great light

4/6: About flag lapel pins

4/2: Starting our 10th year

3/30: Perdue and history

3/26: Bishop Sheals' 30th

3/23: Health, waste issues

3/19: On Cox' lottery proposal

3/16: Gwinnett is BB hotbed

3/12: Big schools save money

3/9: Health insurance co-ops

3/5: Politics, garbage, more

3/2: "43" takes on meaning

EEB index of columns

MORE RECENT COMMENTARY

4/27: Malcolm: Health care, taxes

4/23: Grant: New iPad great

4/20: Trujillo: Jazzy Thing

4/16: West: Earth Day celebration

4/13: A. Brack: Civil War and today

4/9: Bolling: Lanier venues

4/6: Ebner: 5 things about Gwinnett

4/2: McDowell: Lilburn CID

3/30: Brown: Market terminals

3/26: Spitzler: Native plants

3/23: Millsaps: Campus innovation

3/19: Hoffman has poetry book

3/16: DiLeonardo: Counselors noted

3/12: Freyer: Turnkey jail needed

3/9: Collobert: Francophone Fest

3/5: Seupersad: Corruption study

3/2: Boyce: Vietnam trip


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