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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.


TODAY'S FOCUS
:: Looking for turnkey jail solution

ELLIOTT BRACK'S PERSPECTIVE
:: Size of schools saving local money

McLEMORE'S WORLD ARCHIVE
:: Like the stock market

FEEDBACK
:: Letters on health, 5-day mail service

UPCOMING
:: Tech forum, Alice, rail museum

NOTABLE
:: Early voting cuts precincts, saving H20

ALSO INSIDE

_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor

_:: RECOMMENDED: Send us a review

_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: Nap Rucker

_
:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Hill on get-well cards

_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries


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TODAY'S FOCUS
Group seeks turnkey plan to build Glynn County jail
By FRED FREYER
Special to GwinnettForum.com

(Editor's note: Fred Freyer is a resident of St. Simons Island, Ga., and former resident of Atlanta, where he was active in real estate, including many projects in Gwinnett. Since moving to the coast, he has been active in the Land for the Public Trust. Now he and partners are offering to build a new facility for Glynn County that would relieve county expenses. Obviously, such a program could be used by many other communities in Georgia, as he points out, is the case in Europe.---eeb)

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.


Freyer

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.

Design/finance/build 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.

EEB PERSPECTIVE
Size of Gwinnett schools results in saving taxpayer dollars
By ELLIOTT BRACK
Editor and publisher

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.


Brack

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.


Cherry

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.


Crews

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.

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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.

McLEMORE'S WORLD ARCHIVE
Like stock market


FEEDBACK
Suggests Tuesday for no delivery of the U.S. mail

Editor, the Forum:

The talk is that the U.S. Postal Service wants to discontinue Saturday mail delivery. I oppose this, but I suppose it'll likely happen.

If they MUST go to five-day delivery, why not discontinue deliveries on Tuesday? Have you ever looked at any Tuesday's mail? Ninety-five per cent of the time it consists entirely of junk mail. This is because little enters the system on Saturday and virtually nothing enters it on Sunday and the postal service uses Tuesday as a catch-up day to distribute advertising flyers that can -- and usually do -- wait for a light volume day. Certainly nothing that couldn't wait another day for delivery. Were it not for these "leftovers," there'd be nothing on Tuesdays anyway.

Saturday's mail, conversely, usually contains mail that entered the system on the latter part of the work week, and therefore usually contains something of importance, even if it is only bills.

Think about it. I wish the USPS would.

-- Robert H. Hanson, Loganville

Dear Bob: While we favor five-day delivery as a cost-saving mechanism, we'll admit to not having your thinking about Tuesday. Of course, the postal union officials would probably oppose having to come back to work on Monday, then skip Tuesday. They would rather have two straight days off, I suspect, and not one or two at a time. --eeb

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.

-- Name Withheld in an affected industry

Doesn't want Congress to get hands on health dollars

Editor, the Forum:

It is a matter of personal opinion whether France, Germany or Japan have a better health care system than us. Frankly, I don't believe they do. If as you say it works, then it is because they don't have a U.S. Congress running it.

The only way a health care makeover can succeed in this country is to assure that Congress can't ever get its hands on the money, or play any role in deciding what kind of health care my children should have.

As a longtime provider of private services to governments, those in my profession agreed. Our only competition is government; therefore we have none.

The only thing Congress can do when they manage a program, is to benefit us into bankruptcy, as is threatened with Social Security and every other program done for the common good, bless their hearts.

Keep up the good work though. Love the Forum.

-- Scott B. Fuller, Lawrenceville (though nearer Suwanee)

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
Technology Forum to hear NCR official on March 16

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.

With the 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.

This event is free to all attendees and walk-ins are welcome. Registration for head-count purposes is most helpful. Register at www.gwinnetttechnologyforum.com or contact Lindsay Wing at lindsay@gwinnettchamber.org or (678)957-4944.

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 education@southeasternrailwaymuseum.org.

NOTABLE
Early voting one reason county to close some precincts

Gwinnett 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."

Early and absentee voting now makes it possible to consolidate some locations without creating long delays on Election Day, Ledford says. Absentee/Early voting ballots are available for 45 days before an election through the Elections Office, 455 Grayson Highway in Lawrenceville. Applications for mail-out ballots are available now for primary election absentee ballots. Details are online at www.gwinnettcounty.com.

Early voting for next summer's primary election will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 12 -16 and for the general election on Oct. 25 - 29. During these weeks, there will be four locations, in addition to the Elections Office, for early voting: Centerville Community Center, Dacula Activity Building, George Pierce Community Center and Lucky Shoals Community Center.

Gwinnett uses new toilets, other means, to cut water usage

Gwinnett 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.

Water Resources 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, first-served basis.

Those residents with pre-1992 home can take advantage of this effective program. Details and an application are online at www.northgeorgiawater.com or by calling 404.463.8645 or e-mail at toiletrebate@northgeorgiawater.org.

Water Resources is also promoting "Fix a Leak Week," March 15 - 21, as an annual reminder to check household plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks. "A single home with dripping faucets and toilets that don't shut off can waste as much as 10,000 gallons a year," Frank said. Gwinnett's annual water use of 26 billion gallons was 18 percent lower last year than in 2007.


RECOMMENDED
Send us a review

  • 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
Crabapple native enjoyed fine pro baseball career

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.


Rucker

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.

Rucker 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 debuted in Brooklyn in 1907 and immediately became the team's best pitcher, leading the Superbas in games, innings, strikeouts, and earned-run average. His 15 wins were second best on the team. In 1908 he emerged as a National League star, winning 17 games for a club that managed only 53 victories. He also pitched a no-hitter, striking out 14 Boston Doves.

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.

Rucker 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.
Rucker was also a prominent businessman and politician in Roswell. He owned a plantation, several cotton farms, and a wheat mill, and he invested in the local bank. Rucker was elected unopposed as Roswell's mayor during the Great Depression, and he brought the town its first supply of running water. After serving as mayor he was the city's water commissioner for many years. Rucker died at the age of 86 on December 19, 1970. He is buried in the cemetery of Roswell Presbyterian Church.

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TODAY'S QUOTE
Reason not to throw away get-well cards

"Always keep several get-well cards on the mantel. Then if unexpected guests arrive, they will think you've been sick and unable to clean."

-- Larkin Hill, Charleston, S.C.

MODERN HISTORY OF GWINNETT
Only five copies left!

If you have delayed ordering the history of Gwinnett published in 2009, there are only five copies left. Most fast to secure your copy of Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta. Call 770 840 1003 to reserve your copy!

Hurry. No second printing is anticipated. Get this local bestseller before the supply is exhausted!

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

5/4: Governor's race

4/29: New math-sci school

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

5/4: Olson: Hudgens' contest

4/30: Corley: Golf tournament

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


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 info@gwinnettforum.com.

ABOUT US

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