|Issue 9.96 | Friday, March 12, 2010 | Forward to your friends!|
NATIVE SON: New signs will show up soon in Duluth recognizing the accomplishments of its native son, George Rogers. He's shown with Mayor Nancy Harris, who gives him a copy of the signs. The Duluth High graduate was an all-state football player in Duluth, who went to the University of South Carolina, where he achieved All-American honors and won the Heisman Trophy. Later he was Rookie of the Year in the National Football League for the New Orleans Saints, where he played four seasons, followed by three years with the Washington Redskins. He is honored at South Carolina with the street along the north end of their football stadium named George Rogers Boulevard. He credits former Duluth Football Coach Cecil Morris with his success: "What I am in football is because of this man," he says. He lives in Columbia, S.C., where he is on the staff of the University.
SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM
By Fred Freyer
BRUNSWICK, Ga., March 12, 2010 -- A new jail for coastal Glynn County has been in the planning stages for years, amid a political tug-of-war over where it should be built. Millions of dollars have been set aside from a special local option sales tax (SPLOST), but the project remains in a stalemate.
Now, a newly formed group, Glynn Judicial Development LLC, of which I am an investor, has developed a proposal that potentially could break the deadlock in the county's detention center planning. We propose to partner with the county and a public authority for the design, construction, lease, and finance of a detention center and administrative offices within the county. Here's how it would work. The public authority would purchase the land, while we arrange financing and build the detention center on a turnkey basis.
Working closely with the sheriff's department and other county staff, we would design a modular jail that could be expandable to meet the county's needs for the next 100 years. Assuming all construction risk, we would structure the construction finance and build the facility. The construction financing would be secured by a long-term lease between the public authority and the county. At the end of the lease, for a token payment of one dollar, the county would take ownership. County lease payments would come from general operating funds, and these could be lowered by allocating some SPLOST funds to the initial construction.
Public-private partnerships for building public facilities, known as P3s, are common in Europe and Australia, and they have recently been catching on in the United States, including here in Georgia. For example, Gordon and Jackson counties have implemented judicial projects with P3 lease payment financing structures. Using a turnkey design, build and finance P3 approach, an office building was built in Athens and leased to the Georgia Department of Labor.
Ben Slade, a member of our group, recently observed, "This proposal is a win-win for the county and local taxpayers. There are so many advantages, including a fixed-price contract that relieves the county of any construction risk and streamlines financing. All the risk is assumed by our development group."
Our proposal is flexible. We have placed a site under contract that we are confident would be very suitable. However, we could, in cooperation with the county, request additional bids for land and construction. The important point is that regardless of the contractor, we are prepared to deliver the job with no construction risk to Glynn County.
is a fast-track way to get a county facility built, and there's no better
time than now. Construction prices are low. Our financing structure can
be implemented while using interest rates that are at rock bottom without
issuing bonds that require a public referendum. And the job gets done
with no heavy financial burden on counties and taxpayers. The Glynn Judicial
Development team includes an architect, an engineering firm, a construction
company, and Ben Slade and me as the developers.
MARCH 12, 2010 -- Perhaps it was because of the times that it took place. After all, two exemplary school superintendents had varying views on how to build schools, something we are seeing played out today.
We remember Jim Cherry, who was superintendent of schools in DeKalb County from 1947-72, serving in that capacity in what was then a quickly-growing county. His idea was to build neighborhood schools, particularly if they were associated with large subdivisions. The idea was to keep the students close to home, in relatively convenient schools, where the parents would "buy into" the neighborhood concept.
Coming along a generation later, Alton Crews was superintendent of Gwinnett schools from 1977-89, in a county also experiencing quick growth in population. However, Dr. Crews rejected the neighborhood school concept, instead building much larger schools pulling students from several neighborhoods, often double the size of schools in smaller systems.
The idea that Dr. Crews had was that by allowing the schools to be larger, they would serve a wider area, and would less likely run the risk of having to close once a particular school's area began to lose population through gentrification. The school population, therefore, would be larger for a longer period of service, which would be financially beneficial to the county, by allowing schools to be kept open for a longer, useful life.
All this came to mind this week when headlines proclaimed that DeKalb County would have to close more schools than it had anticipated. It had earlier thought it might close four schools next year. The number of schools which may close has now zoomed to a potential of 12 schools in DeKalb County, as areas lose enrollment because of home foreclosures and vacant homes.
You can get a grasp of what is happening in DeKalb (and Gwinnett) counties simply by looking at the 2009-10 enrollments in these two educational systems.
In DeKalb County, for its October 9, 2009 (the latest available) enrollment report, it showed that there were 99,406 students in the system with 147 schools. That's an average of 676 students per school.
In Gwinnett County, on the comparable day in 2009, it shows that Gwinnett had 159,296 students enrolled in its 123 schools. That's an average enrollment per school of 1,295 students.
Gwinnett schools have almost twice the size in enrollment as DeKalb schools. What essentially bites DeKalb again as it closes schools is that if one neighborhood school closes, the students must be shifted to another neighborhood school. That school may be too small for the students from the two schools. Therefore, this can mean mobile classrooms for DeKalb students, for a different reason than why Gwinnett has mobile classrooms, mainly because of its school-age population growth.
Meanwhile, Gwinnett, with larger schools to begin with which draw students from a larger geographic area, has not had to routinely close any schools in the last 25 years. This saves taxpayers dollars, both through economy of scale during construction, later by operating larger schools, through keeping these schools open for more years, and by not having to build replacement schools.
Essentially, Gwinnett erects "standard" schools when possible for 1,100 elementary, 1,500 middle and 3,000 high school students.
School systems throughout Georgia are strapped these days because of the declining state revenue brought on by the recession. But so far, Gwinnett has not made headlines on closing schools, because of its policy of larger schools.
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Hayes Family Dealerships with Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, and GMC. Mike, Tim and Ted Hayes of Lawrenceville and Gainesville with Terry Haynes of Baldwin and Stan Roberts of Toccoa invite you into their showrooms to look over their line-up of automobiles and trucks. Hayes has been in the automotive business for over 38 years, and is North Georgia's oldest family-owned dealerships. The family is the winner of the 2002 Georgia Family Business of the Year Award. Check their web sites at: www.hayeschrysler.com or www.hayeschevrolet.com or www.hayesgmcars.com.
Sees other culprits in force in health care question
Editor, the Forum:
Your recent thoughts about the health care system seemed to imply that only the insurance industry was the problem in the United States. While the insurance industry might could improve itself, there are many other segments of the health care industry that could stand improvement.
Among them: drug-producing firms, tort reform and medical equipment manufacturers the for-profit hospitals, the doctors themselves, and the unions representing hospital workers. You never mentioned those in your piece, and seemed to have presented an incomplete picture of the woes of our systems.
And I'll admit that it surprises me to see that the world's health professionals consider France as having the best medical care system. I didn't know the French had the best system, and I don't know how it works. However, I believe social medicine will only drive out the top talent doctors.
Doesn't want Congress to get hands on health dollars
NCR Vice President and Chief Information Officer Bill VanCuren will headline the program at the March 16 meeting of the Gwinnett Technology Forum. The meeting will be March 16 at 7:30 a.m. at Gwinnett Technical College's Busbee Center.
recent expansion and relocation of its global headquarters to Gwinnett,
NCR continues to implement its corporate growth and development strategy.
VanCuren will reflect on his career with NCR, showcasing the company's
2010 projections, and divulging information on where the Fortune 500 giant
will be investing in the future. Attendees will get a glimpse at what's
on the horizon for Gwinnett's newest global headquarters operation and
meet the IT side of NCR.
New London Theatre to stage Alice beginning March 19
New London Theatre will present Alice in Wonderland opening March 19 and continuing through April 11 on Fridays, Saturday and Sunday.
This story is one of the greatest childhood fantasies ever and is captured in a colorful production adapted from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Sometimes she's too big. Sometimes she is much too small. Sometimes things are backwards. And there's always too much pepper in the soup! Nothing is quite right since Alice chased a very unusual White Rabbit and stumbled into an adventure that grows curiouser and curiouser. Alice in Wonderland is being directed by Teagan Eley and produced by Leah Smith.
Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 on the day of the show. Children and students with ID are always $8. Tickets can be purchased either online through the theatre Web site, or at the theatre box office. Shows are performed at New London Theatre 2485 East Main Street, Snellville.
Rail museum plans second Thursday preschool program
The Southeastern Railway Museum will begin its new Second Thursday Preschool Program April 8. The museum will be presenting a different transportation-themed program the second Thursday of each month from 10:30 a.m. until noon. The program will be tailored to children ages one to four and will include a circle time, activity, and craft.
They will take part by exploring trains, trucks, tractors, and other transportation themes with their children. The program is $7 per child with one adult free per family. Attendees do not need to sign-up for the program. To attend, check-in at the ticket counter by 10 a.m. each second Thursday of any month. For more details, contact the museum's Education Coordinator, Beth Kovach, at 770-495-0253 extension 2, or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
County will reduce the number of voting precincts from 163 to 155 to save
money and operate more efficiently. In about 15 precincts, poll locations
will change. Elections Director Lynn Ledford says: "These changes
will affect about ten percent of Gwinnett voters, so we want to notify
people that they'll get an official postcard in the mail if they are affected."
Gwinnett uses new toilets, other means, to cut water usage
residents are now saving 54 million gallons of water every year thanks
to a rebate program that started two years ago. The rebates pay homeowners
either $50 or $100 for replacing old, inefficient toilets. About 5,000
have been replaced so far.
Deputy Director Peter Frank said the more efficient toilets save the average
customer about 15 percent on the water bill and help reduce demand for
water from Lake Lanier. He said the County has spent about $400,000 on
the program since it began and the savings are well worth the investment.
The department is budgeting $300,000 each year to pay rebates on a first-come,
Largely forgotten today, Nap Rucker was one of the premier left-handed baseball pitchers in the major leagues during the first two decades of the 20th century.
George Napoleon Rucker was born on September 30, 1884, in Crabapple, near Roswell and Alpharetta. After dropping out of school, Rucker worked as an apprentice printer. One day he set in type the headline, "$10,000 For Pitching A Baseball." Upon seeing the headline, Rucker decided to become a professional pitcher. He began his minor league career late in 1904 with the Atlanta Crackers.
spent his entire 10-year major league career playing for the hapless Brooklyn
Superbas of the National League. (The team later became the Brooklyn Dodgers.)
Rucker lost the speed on his overpowering fastball in 1913, and he hurt his arm the following season. For the last four years of his career, he relied on an assortment of off-speed pitches, especially the knuckleball. Evidence suggests that Rucker, in collaboration with fellow pitcher and Augusta teammate Eddie Cicotte, may have invented the knuckleball in 1905.
Rucker compiled a lifetime .500 record of 134 victories and 134 losses while performing for teams that posted a cumulative .442 winning percentage during the time he pitched. Baseball Magazine selected Rucker for its National League all-star team four times and to its best-in-baseball squad three times. The legendary Major League Baseball Hall of Fame manager John McGraw deemed Rucker the best left-handed pitcher of his era, and venerable sportswriter Ring Lardner chose Rucker for his all-time all-star team. In 1967 Rucker became the third professional baseball player (after Luke Appling and Ty Cobb) to be inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
retired as a player after the 1916 season and scouted for Brooklyn. He
also helped to launch the baseball career of Earl Mann, who, as president
and owner of the Atlanta Crackers, was one of minor league baseball's
most respected and successful executives.
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