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Issue 9.100 | Friday, March 26, 2010 | Forward to your friends!

This shimmering art work now suspends from the two story lobby of the Suwanee City Hall after being dedicated on Thursday. "Shimmering Echoes," by Koryn Rolstad of Seattle, Wash. is a cascading sculpture comprised of 12 groupings composed of 1,900 elliptical-shaped eco-resin elements in distinctive shades with reflective holographic radiance. Altogether, holding the elements together are about a mile of 1/32-inch stainless steel cable, plus 4,000 clips and 4,000 washers. The display is part of the City of Suwanee's commitment to public art. (Photo by Lynne DeWilde.)

:: Gwinnett population tops 800,000

:: On gardening with native plants

:: Great 30th celebration for Sheals

:: Here's looking at you

:: Three letters

:: Earth Hour at bistro, gardening info

:: Teaching honor, grants, speaker at UF


_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor
_:: RECOMMENDED: Send us a review
_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: Morton Theatre
:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Watterson on life
_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries




Gwinnett County 2009 population officially is 808,167

New figures released by the Census shows the Gwinnett estimated population as of April 1,2009, is 808,167, reports Alfie Meek of Gwinnett County's Economic Development Office. That's a 17,648 increase in the estimated population since the 2008 figure of 790,519.

The latest Census estimate shows that Gwinnett is the second most populous county in the state. Fulton County's April 1, 2009, figure is 1,033,756 residents.

Thanks, Alfie, for this update. It might be this time next year before the official 2010 census figures are finally determined.

Group offers program on gardening with native plants
Special to

SNELLVILLE, Ga., March 26, 2010 -- Do you want a beautiful landscape around your home yet one that supports the birds, pollinators and other wildlife that are so desirable and necessary in your surroundings? The Georgia Piedmont Land Trust (GPLT) will sponsor Grow Your Garden Beautifully With Native Plants, a two-part session on Saturday, April 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mary Kistner Nature Center near Snellville. The event will demonstrate that gardening with native plants can result in an eye-catching landscape that also supports an amazing array of wildlife.

There will be a picnic lunch, followed by a presentation by Walter Reeves, the Georgia Gardener and host of WSB radio's Saturday morning gardening show, about selecting and gardening with native plants. Joining him will be well known landscape designer and author Tara Dillard to talk about designing with native plants; and Laurie Fisher, of Buck Jones Nurseries, to talk about the availability of native plants. Lunch will be provided by Whole Foods Market.

The morning session will feature volunteers from Monarchs Across Georgia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering conservation of butterfly species, demonstrating how to create a butterfly-friendly garden in a container and in your garden. Participants will create their own container gardens to take home.

The choices made for gardens are more important than ever to assure sufficient habitat for the continued survival of a host of bird and pollinator species taken for granted. This is the finding of research by Douglas W. Tallamy, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, published in his 2007 book, Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press).

The GPLT session will demonstrate how homeowners can accomplish this. To register for the session, go to to download a registration form. Prepayment is required (checks only). The fee for the full day is $55; for the morning session only (no lunch included), $30; or for the afternoon session including lunch, $25. All proceeds go to support GPLT's conservation work.

The Mary Kistner Nature Center is located on a 50-acre farm south of Snellville off Lenora Church Road in Gwinnett County. The Center was created from the wish of long-time Gwinnett resident and well known local artist Mary Kistner that her property be protected from development and provide a quiet place to learn about nature and its beauty. Some information used for the session results from a resource inventory conducted at the Kistner Center through a grant from the Georgia Forestry Commission.

In just 12 years, the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust created a remarkable track record, putting nearly 900 acres of land under protection in one of the most rapidly developing regions in the country. Originally named the Gwinnett Open Land Trust, reflecting its origins, it achieved milestones despite the daunting challenges of intense development pressure and rapidly escalating land costs. Today, the name reflects its expanded service area -- the Piedmont region of Georgia. Its land conservation strategy is based upon the realities of the landscape, some of which is urbanizing before the eyes, while other parts remain suspended on the hopes of land owners who share a commitment to save and nurture the beauty and peace of rural woodlands, clean water, and perhaps pasture and farmland.

Bishop Sheals marks 30th Year at Hopewell Baptist of Norcross
Editor and publisher

MARCH 26, 2010 -- Thirty years ago, a small Gwinnett Baptist church got a new pastor. Perhaps no one in the county, and perhaps no one in his congregation, had any conception of the heights that this small church would go through after this person came to the county.


This person is Bishop William L. Sheals, pastor of the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church of Norcross. He was honored at the Norcross Community center on Saturday, then again honored Sunday afternoon at his church for his 30th anniversary at Hopewell.

In his ministry at the church, this congregation has grown beyond its wildest imagination. With less than 200 members when he came to the Norcross pulpit, today it marks over 15,000 members, and fills the community with a Godly spirit whenever this congregation gets together, or puts its mind to a project.

We have watched this growth of the congregation and the physical plant with amazement. Early during Bill Sheals's ministry, my own church (Christ Episcopal) and Hopewell formed a common bond. When the original Hopewell "rock church" needed expansion, and the congregation wanted to remodel and enlarge it, Hopewell was searching for a place to worship during the renovation.

Bill Sheals and two of his members saw the late Maxwell Berry Jr. painting the red door to Christ Church one afternoon, and stopped to talk with him. Before the conversation was over, Max had offered Hopewell the opportunity to share space with Christ Church during the construction period, which eventually lasted 15 months. Of course, Max Berry had no authority to make this offer, but Christ Church's ruling body, its vestry, affirmed his idea. And from that one move, Hopewell and Christ Church have had a close friendship since.

Rep. Pedro Marin and Sen. Curt Thompson flank Bishop William Sheals as he is presented with a resolution from the Georgia House recognizing his 30 years as Hopewell Baptist Church Pastor (Photo by Eleanor Frazier)

Over the years, often parishioners from Christ Church have attended special activities at Hopewell, and vice versa. For many of the earlier-mainly-white Christ Church family, this was their first attendance at a black church. But soon a close bond was formed, including Episcopal members realizing that the Hopewell services could last for quite a while, sometimes up to three hours.

On one occasion, my wife and I attended a Hopewell special service, and had planned to go to another function afterward. So we sat near the back of the congregation, planning to slip out early.

"Will the Rev. Joel Hudson please come forward?" Bill Sheals asked from the pulpit early on during the service. He wanted our rector on the dais that day. As the congregation sang another song, no one came forward, since the Rev. Hudson was not in attendance that day.

Then the Rev. Sheals asked, just before another song: "Will a representative from Christ Church please join me on the stand?" We sang, and no one came forward, as my wife and I were about ready to sneak out. Then came another announcement from the lectern: "Will Mr. Brack please come forward."

Ooops! So I paraded down the aisle to the platform, and sat with the others there the rest of the three hour service. What else could you do? And yes, we again enjoyed the service.

Today Hopewell has a thriving congregation, a Christian academy, and during his pastorate, Bishop Sheals has ordained 139 new ministers. On Sunday 117 of them were present to help honor him on his 30th anniversary.

Keep it up, Bill. We think of you as in the message of the talents in Matthew 25: "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Gwinnett Medical Center

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Now celebrating the 25th anniversary of its flagship campus, Gwinnett Medical Center is a not-for-profit healthcare network providing award-winning healthcare services to the Gwinnett community and beyond. Campuses in both Duluth and Lawrenceville provide acute care, outpatient services, orthopedic and neuroscience specialty care as well as a full continuum of wellness services. Digital imaging is the standard of care at all GMC facilities including the newest imaging center in north Gwinnett's Hamilton Mill area. In 2008, GMC's 4,300 associates and 800 physicians served more than 400,000 patients. Gwinnett Medical Center's incredible vision for the future is to transform healthcare. Visit online.

Here's looking at you

Feels programs will chase businesses out of country

Editor, the Forum:

The view from your Ivory Tower through your rose colored glasses is both distant and clouded, to say the least. You conveniently overlook what is for most business persons like myself, the simple truth of "no free lunches" when you applaud the addition of these two new services to our menu of government offerings.

Two questions. First, where does the need for government intervention in our personal and business lives end?

Second, how long will investors invest and entrepreneurs risk before the tax burden and regulation exceeds the return to the point that firms elect to go elsewhere?

I think Gwinnett County and the USA have crossed that imaginary but very real line, and unless genuine fiscal conservancy makes a comeback, and note I didn't say "Republicans make a comeback", we are off to the "third world" races.

Believing in free market capitalism and republican democracy are like being pregnant. Either you do or you don't, you is or you ain't. Thanks, as always, for the opportunity to participate in the debate.

-- Mike Dominy, Braselton

Dear Mike: You either believe everyone has a right to health care or you don't. And you either believe we should keep our county as pristine and clean as possible or you don't. Keep up the independent thought free from rose colored glasses. --eeb

Wants taxation only for what he can't provide for himself

Editor, the Forum:

Sorry Elliott, but your statement that " Taxes are used to pay for the common good…." is the kind of short term assumption that has our country in social and economic decline. Taxes should only be used for those items that the individual cannot furnish for himself like defense, a national transportation system, and public health initiatives (like mass immunizations). Individual health care and garbage hauling do not come close to qualifying. The "end game" of this trend is poor service, higher costs, fewer choices and diminished freedom.

-- Gary H. Webb, Lawrenceville

Dear Gary: Taxes from the time of Washington have paid for the common good. Granted, the way it has developed over the years pays for lots of things, like Social Security, which you may not agree with either. Interesting that you include public transportation. Those supporting local mass transit will like that. You can't tell me that all our people can furnish medical care for themselves, the way the insurance and pharmacy lobby has driven it. Yes, we think the right to health care is up there with the right to bear arms, though not written into the Constitution. -eeb

Feels commissioners voting for garbage fees will be replaced

Editor, the Forum:

Anyone that votes for this new fee will be voted out of office next time around, I will help campaign against them. Have a wonderful day.

-- Frankie Miller, Lilburn

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.

Kurt's and Vreny's to note Earth Hour on Saturday night

Kurt's and Vreny's Restaurant is planning to turn off all non-essential lighting at their Duluth location for Earth Hour, and encourage their employees to do the same. Earth Hour, which takes place Saturday, March 27, at 8:30 p.m. local time, is an event in which millions of Americans will turn out their lights for one hour in support of action on climate change and toward creating a cleaner, safer and more secure future.

The year 2010 marks the third year of the event, which attracted more than 80 million participants in the U.S. last year, and nearly a billion people around the world, as lights dimmed on such global icons as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sydney's Opera House, the Great Pyramids of Gaza and New York's Empire State Building. The Duluth restaurant will be offering candlelight dining starting around 8 p.m. in celebration of this effort. Customers can also sign up for Earth Hour on the restaurant Web site

Notable U.S. landmarks will turn off non-essential lighting for the hour, in what is expected to be the largest-ever call to action on climate change. This includes Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, St. Louis' Gateway Arch, Sea World in Orlando, the strip in Las Vegas, New York's Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Washington D.C.'s National Cathedral, California's Santa Monica Pier and the Space Needle in Seattle. It is expected to be the largest-ever call to action on climate change.

Suwanee to offer free classes on Square Foot Gardening

The City of Suwanee will host a 90-minute class on Square Foot Gardening at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 27, and Monday, March 29, in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. The classes are part of Suwanee's Harvest Farm Community Garden educational series.

Class participants will learn how to grow bigger, healthier vegetables, conserve space, and minimize use of fertilizers and pest controls. The class is free and open to the public; participants need not be Harvest Farm gardeners. The same information will be offered at both sessions. Participants are asked to bring something with which to take notes and are reminded that the class is not designed for young children.

Saturday's class will be offered in conjunction with an organizational meeting for 2010 Harvest Farm gardeners. This organizational meeting will begin at 11 a.m.

Gwinnett Tech names Hyche to teaching excellence honor


Jane Day Hyche, an instructor in Gwinnett Technical College's early childhood education program, has been named the college's 2010 Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Education honoree. The award has been an ongoing statewide program since 1991 and is designed to recognize and honor technical college instructors who make significant contributions to technical education through innovation and leadership in their fields.

Hyche joined the Gwinnett Tech faculty in 2006, bringing over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She earned a Master of Science in early childhood education from Brenau University in 2005 and a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from the University of Illinois in 1990.

The past president of the Atlanta Association for the Education of Young Children, Hyche is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and seminars. She has presented on a number of occasions at the University of Georgia, as well as at several Georgia Head Start Association conferences. Hyche is also a member of the Georgia Association on Young Children and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Jackson EMC awards grants to two community groups

The Jackson EMC Foundation, a charity funded by the cooperative's members, has awarded Interlocking Communities in Lawrenceville a $10,000 grant to upgrade the educational software used to provide English as a second language classes.

Executive Director Louise Radloff explains: " Interlocking Communities began as an effort by a few community-minded members of a church to reach out to a community that had evolved drastically in recent years into a high-poverty, highly transient, very low socio economic, international community. Our students are better able to work with their child's teachers, keep up with their child's activities and friends, better able to communicate on the job, more competitive and more confident in their ability to communicate with others."

In 2008, Interlocking Communities enrolled more than 125 students, and had enrolled more than 135 as of September 2009.

In addition, Jackson EMC has awarded the Southern Ballet Theatre in Lawrenceville a $5,000 grant to provide underprivileged children in Gwinnett County with free tickets to a performance of Cinderella. Grant funds will provide 500 students with free tickets. Jackson EMC members fund Foundation grants by having their monthly electric bills rounded up to the next dollar amount. Since October 2005 this "spare change" has funded 395 grants to organizations and 157 grants to individuals, putting more than $4.2 million back into local communities.

In the photo above, Jackson EMC District Manager Randy Dellinger is shown with members of the Southern Ballet troupe.

Bomar to be inaugural speaker at Univ. of Florida program

Marsha Anderson Bomar, president of Street Smarts of Duluth, will speak at the University of Florida in Gainesville on April 1as the inaugural speaker in the newly added Distinguished Professional Lecture Series.

Ms. Bomar will present A Professional Life in Balance... A Life of Work, Family and Service. Speaking on the seasons in our lives and careers, she will address decisions about how to act and be successful from starting your first job, to being an experienced professional, to choosing the last major role of your career.

Through a series of life and work vignettes, Ms. Bomar will share her thoughts in the hope that participants will be inspired to be their personal best at all times. Currently, she is the President of American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) Transportation and Development Institute, chairs a Transportation Research Board (TRB) committee and is serving her second term on the Duluth City Council. Street Smarts ( is a privately held planning, design and engineering consulting firm. For 20 years, the company has provided a wide variety of services to both public and private sector clients.

The Greatest Slump of All Time, by David Carkeet

You don't expect books about baseball to focus on the emotional lives of the players. But one well-drawn character of this baseball novel might be standing in left field trying to figure out how to put diapers on his new twins; or the shortstop might harken back to wondering why his grandmother was so tough on him; and the rightfielder, though a star player, is Hispanic with little English, and always wonders what his teammates are talking about. Then the third baseman? Think of a guy with problems like Frank Burns of MASH fame. Add to that a neurotic manager, and a catcher whose father boos him on many a play, and soon you wonder if the whole team is batty. Though leading the National League, you wonder when the team will entirely crack up. Get set for a innovative baseball novel. -- 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

Morton Theatre building in Athens was vaudeville center

Located in downtown Athens, the Morton Theatre was the first vaudeville theater in the United States that was built, owned, and operated by an African American.

The successful businessman and politician Monroe Bowers "Pink" Morton financed the construction of the Morton Building (1909-10), on the corner of Washington and Hull streets. The building was the anchor of "Hot Corner," the commercial center of black life in Athens. The largest of the 30 buildings Morton owned, the four-story brick structure served a dual purpose. Many of Athens's black professionals, including doctors, dentists, pharmacists, jewelers, and barbers, practiced in the Morton Building. The second and third floors of the building, however, housed the Morton Theatre, one of the few establishments in Athens that hosted entertainment exclusively for the city's black community.

Originally built to seat 550, the Morton boasts a balcony forming a full horseshoe with tiered risers, pagoda-style boxes, and seating for about 300 on the orchestra floor. Wired for electricity at the time of its construction, the theater also retains its original gas-lighting outlets.

In the 1930s Morton's son, Charlie, turned the theater into a movie house. It remained an important meeting hall for the African American community. Following a fire in the projection room in the 1950s, the fire marshal closed it down after discovering only one wooden stairway exit for the entire theater.

The Morton family sold the building in 1973, and the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The Morton Theatre Corporation bought the building the following year, and in 1987, a local option sales tax referendum was passed, which provided $1.8 million for the theater's restoration. Construction was completed in 1993 under the new ownership of Athens/Clarke County, with the architect J. W. Robinson leading the historic preservation of the Morton. The following year the theater officially reopened as a community performing arts center.

Before the Morton was renovated, the B-52's used part of the building as rehearsal space for a time. R.E.M. filmed a music video for the song "The One I Love" in the renovated theater. The Morton Heritage Players present contemporary American theater productions throughout the year, as do the Athens Creative Theatre, the Black Theatrical Ensemble, and the Town and Gown Players.


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One logical reason given for surest sign of life in universe

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."

-- "Calvin and Hobbes" Cartoonist Bill Watterson (1958 - ).

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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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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