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Issue 9.97 | Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Forward to your friends!

SOARING: The classic ballet, Peter Pan, will be presented by the Northeast Atlanta Ballet in five performances this weekend at the Gwinnett Civic Center. Peter Pan is the classic tale of the boy who never grows up. Follow this exciting tale to Never Never Land where Peter takes his friends to visit the lost boys and of course, his evil nemesis, Captain Hook. A selection of popular classical music played live by the resident orchestra, The Gwinnett Symphony, accompanies this professional production. Performances are Friday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 20, at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 21, at 2 p.m. (Photo by PKE Photo Group.)

:: Local counselors honored for work

:: Gwinnett is basketball hotbed

:: Tax proposal is shell game

:: Soup Bowl, new center, open house

:: Gwinnett Place CID, barbershoppers


_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor

_:: RECOMMENDED: Send us a review

_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: Marvin Griffin

:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Thoreau on wariness

_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries




Local counselors, UGA grad student honored for work
Special to

ATHENS, Ga., March 16, 2010 -- Two University of Georgia graduate students in the College of Education have been recognized for their work as counselors in Gwinnett County.



Leslie Harper, who is working on a specialist's degree in school counseling, was named High School Counselor of the Year for Gwinnett County.

Karen Griffith, a Ph.D. student in counseling and student affairs and a counselor at Berkeley Lake Elementary School, was named Counselor Writer of the Year in Gwinnett County for her book, Creative Small Groups, Ready-to-Use Lessons for Grades K-5.

A native Tennessean, Harper lives in Norcross and has been the school counselor at Collins Hill High School for the past four years.

Under her co-direction, Collins Hill High was recently recognized for its implementation of the American School Counselor Association Model, a comprehensive, developmental guidance program that covers accountability, foundation, delivery and management. Collins Hill was the first high school in Gwinnett to receive the Recognized ASCA Model Program award, which means that they successfully implemented the program to benefit the multicultural needs of all of their students.

Harper says: "I love working with students and want to make an impact on their lives. I also want to help students prepare to be productive members of society. It is an honor and a privilege to work with those whose mission it is to help children be successful."

Harper received an master of science degree. from Georgia State University in 2006 and a B.S. from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2000.

Griffith has worked in education for 32 years, 24 of which she has been a counselor. She has served as the school counselor for Berkeley Lake Elementary School for five years. Previously, she worked in Rockdale, DeKalb and Forsyth counties, as well as Sevier County in Tennessee.

Her book is a compilation of her favorite activities for working with students. It includes group ideas for building social skills, study skills, increasing self-confidence, managing anger, improving behavior and dealing effectively with serious illness and grief.

She says: "I tried to design activities that involve creative ways to present important ideas to the students. In addition, the students always leave the groups with some tangible representation of the concept or issue discussed in group."

Griffith, of Lilburn, is a lifelong resident of Georgia. She received her Ed.S. in school counseling from Georgia State University in 1994, a 60-hour add-on certificate for school counseling from Georgia State in 1992, an master of science degree in special education from the University of Tennessee in 1980 and a B.S. in elementary education from Samford University in 1977.

Gwinnett becomes focus as hotbed of high school basketball
Editor and publisher

MARCH 16, 2010 -- All of Gwinnett is proud of its five state basketball Georgia champions. That's right. Gwinnett teams won five out of the ten division state titles this year. The teams earned their Georgia High School Association championships last weekend in playoffs in Macon and at Gwinnett Arena.


The five Gwinnett high school winners are the girl's teams from Norcross, Buford and Wesleyan, and the boys from Greater Atlanta Christian and Wesleyan Schools, all winning their classification titles in beautiful style. Another interesting note: three titles belong to schools within a half mile of each other: Norcross High and Wesleyan School.

The victories show the high caliber of the basketball teams from Gwinnett County. These schools continually produce high quality athletes, and notably, constantly win academic and extracurricular titles also.

One of the reasons that the athletic programs are so good is because of the high caliber of the opponents in the immediate regions in and around Gwinnett. You really have to earn your way out of the region to the state tournaments.

Consider another aspect, if you will: all 10 state high school basketball champions in 2010 come from schools within a 300 square mile area east and northeast of Atlanta. Underscore that when you remember that Georgia consists of 57,906 square miles.

The other winners include the boys teams from Milton High (Alpharetta), Miller Grove (Lithonia) and Columbia High, southwest of Decatur. The other girls champions were from Southwest DeKalb High and Columbia High. History was made this year in the tournaments, as two teams, Columbia and Wesleyan, won both the boys and girls titles.

To show how powerful these local champions are, realize that the Georgia High School Association has 423 members. So the basketball teams from this 300 square mile area, 15 miles east to west and 20 miles north to south, produced all the champions for 2010 in Georgia.

That's amazing.

Add another element: many of these programs have seen other state basketball champion teams over the years. For instance, Gwinnett boys teams playing in three of the five basketball classifications have won eight of 30 state titles in the last 10 years. The record for Gwinnett girls teams in this period is even stronger, winning 19 of 30 championships.

Throw in that 300 square mile area from Alpharetta to Buford to Lithonia to Decatur, and the girl teams from this area have won 28 of 50 titles, while the boys have won 17 of 50 titles.

It amounts to Northeast Atlanta, and particularly Gwinnett County, being a center of good basketball players. Is there any doubt while big-time college spend a lot of time recruiting in Georgia, and especially the Metro Atlanta area. You need to look no further than the players on major college basketball teams. For instance, Norcross' Gani Lawal is a starter for Georgia Tech, while Loganville's Daniel Miller, gets playing time for the Jackets. Meanwhile, Maya Moore, formerly of Collins Hill, now at the University of Connecticut, is considered perhaps the best female player in the nation.

It amounts to Northeast Atlanta, and particularly Gwinnett County, being a hotbed of high performing basketball players. It makes you proud.

Our congratulations to these winners from Gwinnett County!

Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. The Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (CID) is a self-taxing district organized in March 2005 comprised of 238 commercial properties. The CID's mission is to "enhance the economic vitality of Gwinnett's central business district by strengthening the area's role as the center of commercial activity." In addition to comprehensive planning efforts to address traffic congestion, an area-wide branding and marketing initiative, daily community patrols keeping the area free from graffiti and litter, landscaping enhancements, infrastructure improvements and promoting redevelopment opportunities, the CID Board of Directors remains committed to increasing the long-term economic sustainability of greater Gwinnett Place. The Gwinnett Place CID...Keeping Gwinnett Place the Place to be. To learn more about the Gwinnett Place CID and ways to find success at Gwinnett's central business district, please visit

Compares tax proposal to traditional shell game

(Editor's Note: Patrick T. Malone is a former Snellville resident who now lives in Blairsville. He may be reached at - eeb)

Editor, the Forum:

The shell game is classic sleight of hand trick designed to con people out of their money. Follow the pea under one of three shells and if you guess right when the shells stop moving, you win. Only you never seem to guess right.


Chairman Charles Bannister's recent request to the Gwinnett Legislative delegation is a slightly more sophisticated version of the shell game. We can hear him now: "If you will allow me an additional one percent sales tax, I will roll back part of the recent millage rate increase in your property taxes."

Try following that pea.

Think of the advantages. First of all the new tax is small, only one penny on each dollar spent. A penny today is an insignificant amount compared to $100, which is approximately the amount of the property tax rollback on a $200,000 house. It sounds good so far.

Additionally a lot of people who don't live in Gwinnett County will help pay for county services because they eat, shop and play in the county. Think about all those out of the county folks who attend Gwinnett Braves games, and the stadium goes from a debacle to visionary.

Sales taxes are more of an inconvenience and therefore become more palatable to the average citizens. Ask the man of the street what taxes they pay and you will hear federal /state income taxes and property taxes. A few might remember Social Security taxes, but less than 10 percent ever remember sales taxes. For a politician's point of view, sales taxes are "safe."

Another unspoken political advantage to a sales tax increase is the lack of a cap. Millage rates are limited, while sales taxes are apparently unlimited. After the 2010 legislative session you might get to pay an additional one percent regional or statewide sales tax for a comprehensive transportation solution. I saw a recent poll that Gwinnettians are willing to pay another one percent sales tax for light rail on the Interstate 85 corridor. If all pass, that's a lot of pennies.

Now the chairman wants his penny. One can only wonder how many other pennies are being discussed in private.

Consider the impact on retailers if Gwinnett's sales tax rate differs much from our surrounding counties. Retailers make up a significant portion of the Gwinnett economy. If local sales taxes put them at a competitive disadvantage, these retailers are likely to move to more competitive counties, with less sales tax.

Then do the math. The average $200,000 homeowner saves less than $100 annually in property taxes, but pays one penny more on every taxable transaction. Buy a new or used car for more than $10,000, spend more than that on materials and appliances remodeling your kitchen, dinners out, clothes, electronics, etc, and it doesn't take much for the average homeowner's tax bill to rise quickly.

The shell game works for you if you can keep your eye on the pea. The sales tax game only works if the family that lives in that $200,000 house, and spends less than $10,000 annually on taxable purchases.

-- Pat Malone, Blairsville

(Dear Pat: Good insight. But we don't think you have to worry about one element: we see no way Georgia voters will approve any sales tax if put to a referendum this fall. Those wishing for added revenue through additional sales tax, we feel, are whistling in the dark. One reason is that once a sales tax passes, it's most difficult to remove it, and voters know that! Remember: Trust the voters; always trust the voters.-eeb)

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Hudgens Center plans Soup Bowl Benefit for education

The Hudgens Center for the Arts is holding a Soup Bowl Benefit on Saturday, March 27, from 12:30 to 5 p.m., to raise needed funds for the Education Department. There will be pottery for sale, featuring free food and beverage with every bowl or cup sold; live musical entertainment throughout; a silent auction of art and art supplies; and live pottery demonstrations/studio tours on every hour.

A bowl by potter Vernon Smith

The benefit will have over 300 handmade bowls and mugs for sale, created by Hudgens staff and students and donated for this event. Each pottery purchase includes a free serving of soup, chili, or a beverage, to be selected from many tasty options. The motto is: leave with a full belly and a handmade treasure!

The soups, chili and bread are being provided by several local businesses, including Bokay Catering and Flowers, Inc; Carol Parks Catering, Inc.; Chef David Catering; Classic Caterers; Magnolia Bakery Café; Rico's World Kitchen; and Taste Sensation.

Those who wish to ensure that they get first choice of the pottery are encouraged to attend during the Early Bird Selection period, from 12:30 until 1:30 p.m. Pottery will be $30 during this time. Regular price is $25 for pottery purchased between 1:30 and 5 p.m.

The benefit will also feature live musical entertainment by Jake Hood, cello; the Harmony Express Quartet; Kim Vinson, cello; the Gwinnett Young Singers; GreySkiesBlue, guitar and mandolin; Jordan Sommers, piano; and a Korean orchestra.

Another feature of the benefit is a silent auction of donated artworks. There will be a drawing by artist Jenny Bishop Heaton, for example, whose work is also in the current Tannery Row: Selected Works exhibit at The Hudgens. There will also be pottery by Vernon Smith, Ceramics Studio Manager at The Hudgens, as well as large scale vases and bowls by various community artists, and reclaimed textile items created by Angela Nichols, Programs & Education Director at The Hudgens. Bidding will begin at 12:30 p.m. and end at 5:00 p.m., and participants do not have to be present to win.

Funds raised through the benefit will be used to directly support the Education Department at The Hudgens. For more information about art exhibits, events, classes and summer camps at The Hudgens, please visit the Web site at

New Braselton distribution center to bring 92 new jobs

Braselton will get a new distribution center, employing 92 people, as Safelite Group of Columbus, Ohio, plans to relocate its current southern distribution facility from Enfield, N.C.

The new 357,000 sq. ft. facility, located in Braselton will support distribution of vehicle glass to the states east of the Mississippi River. The facility has infrastructure that will support LEED-certification, which designates a building as environmentally friendly. It expands capacity from the Enfield facility by 36 percent, allowing for storage of 250,000 windshields
and 90,000 other vehicle glass parts. It is expected to be operational by September 2010.

Company officials reviewed sites along I-85 between Atlanta and Charlotte in areas that would allow for more efficient and lower-cost transport of manufactured glass to points east of the Mississippi River before selecting the Braselton location.

Last year as part of its supply chain expansion, the company opened a 282,000 sq. ft. distribution center in Ontario, Calif.

Suwanee schedules open house on transportation plan

The City of Suwanee will host a community open house Thursday, March 18, in order to share the final draft of the Buford Highway Transportation Plan. The open house will be from 6:30-8 p.m. in the lobby of City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue.

Over the past eight months, the City of Suwanee has worked with URS Corporation to study and develop alternatives for Buford Highway, from McGinnis Ferry Road to the entrance of George Pierce Park.

The plan examined two alternatives. One alternative is to add lane capacity to Buford Highway and redesign it to serve primarily regional vehicular traffic. The plan is scheduled for consideration by City Council at its April 27 meeting.

Gwinnett Place CID ups contribution to Partnership Gwinnett

Board members with the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (CID) have increased the CID's funding commitment to the Partnership Gwinnett economic development initiative. The board voted unanimously this week to add $2,000 to the CID's annual contribution of $20,000, a 10 percent increase in funding.

CID Chairman Mark Williams said the strong working relationship between the CID and Partnership Gwinnett is vital to the continued success of greater Gwinnett Place. By working with Partnership Gwinnett, such large-scale, high-wage employers as NCR's global headquarters, Medical Business Services and Bright Ideas have located to Gwinnett Place area.

In April 2007, the Gwinnett Place CID became the first official financial contributor to Partnership Gwinnett.

Stone Mountain barbershoppers win Dixie championship

The 65-man Stone Mountain Chorus of the Barbershop Harmony Society captured the 2010 Dixie District Chorus Championship at its Spring Convention in Greenville, SC, on March 13. The group won over 20 competing choruses from the southeast. The local barbershop a capella singers, directed by Tim Brooks, performed "Embraceable You" and "I Didn't Want to Fall" to earn the championship trophy.

The next event for the group on its upcoming calendar is its 2010 Spring Music Concert, scheduled for Mountain Park United Methodist Church on June 5. Special guest for this year's concert is Georgia Connection, a local chapter of Harmony, Inc., an international women's barbershop harmony singing organization. Georgia Connection recently captured seventh place at the recent international competition of Harmony, Inc.

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Bainbridge newspaper publisher becomes governor of state

Marvin Griffin served as governor of Georgia from 1955 to 1959. Griffin was one of the first governors to serve as a "good will ambassador" to attract industries to Georgia. Griffin, a Democrat, was also a segregationist and promised to close the state's public school system if federal authorities tried to enforce desegregation.


Samuel Marvin Griffin was born September 4, 1907, in Bainbridge. In 1929 Griffin graduated from the Citadel in Charleston, S.C. and then taught at Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, Va. While in Virginia, Griffin met and married Mary Elizabeth "Lib" Smith, and they had two children, Patricia Ann and Samuel Marvin Jr. In 1933, when his father became ill, Griffin moved back to Bainbridge to take over editorship of the family newspaper, the Post-Searchlight.

Griffin became involved in politics when he was elected to the General Assembly in 1934. After losing a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1936, he became executive secretary to Governor E. D. "Ed" Rivers.

During World War II (1941-45) Griffin attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1944 Governor Ellis Arnall appointed him adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard, a post he held until 1947. In 1948, Griffin won a special election to become the state's first lieutenant governor to actually serve in office. Georgia voters reelected him to that position in 1950.

In 1954 Griffin ran for governor in a field of nine candidates. Because most Georgians saw Griffin as the chosen candidate of the outgoing governor, Herman Talmadge, he won the election, capturing a majority of the county unit vote. Upon taking office, Griffin pushed through an increase in the state income tax, which was needed to offset an expected shortfall in revenues. The Griffin administration's Rural Roads Authority paved nearly 12,000 miles of rural roads in the state. Appropriations for education increased by 50 percent, and teacher salaries rose approximately 25 percent. Griffin oversaw the building of a new science complex at the University of Georgia as well as a nuclear reactor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The state also purchased Stone Mountain for use as a state park.

Like his contemporaries, Griffin ran for office on a staunch segregationist platform. During the Griffin administration no Georgia schools were integrated; the desegregation process did not begin until 1961, two years after he left office. Despite his segregationist rhetoric, Griffin did a great deal to improve education for African Americans. When pushed by more-ardent segregationists to defy federal court orders on desegregation, Griffin commented that "being in jail kind of crimps a governor's style."

Despite Griffin's accomplishments in office, his administration was marred by charges of corruption. Some members of his administration were found guilty of various crimes. The corruption allegation would haunt Griffin's political legacy. In 1962 Griffin attempted a comeback by running for governor again. Carl Sanders defeated Griffin, in large part by playing up the corruption issue.

This election was the last of the great campaigns in which candidates held large rallies and barbecues. After the election Griffin said, "Everybody that ate my barbecue I don't believe voted for me." He retired from active politics, citing ill health-though not his own: "The voters were sick and tired of me." In 1968 Griffin was temporarily the vice presidential nominee of the American Independent Party when George Wallace ran for president on that ticket, but he never seriously ran for elective office again. Griffin died of lung cancer on June 13, 1982.


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Some enterprises plainly should make you beware

"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."

-- Reclusive philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), in his book, Walden.

Only three copies left!

If you have delayed ordering the history of Gwinnett published in 2009, there are only three 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 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


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


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

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.


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