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Issue 10.28 | Tuesday, July 6, 2010 | Forward to your friends!


HOME STAND:
The Gwinnett Braves open a six-game home stand tonight against Norfolk. Two daytime games are scheduled this week, at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday against Norfolk, and the same time on Sunday against second place (by half a game) Charlotte. The Braves have a 41-43 record, and are in third place in their division. Attendance for 2010 so far is 191,249, third from the last in the league, or an average of 4,781 per game. Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Pa.) leads the league in attendance, averaging 9,077 per game, or 372,160 for the year.


TODAY'S FOCUS
:: Be careful with vacation rentals

ELLIOTT BRACK'S PERSPECTIVE
:: Technology can't replace movie writing

FEEDBACK
:: Benefits of early voting

UPCOMING
:: Intersection upgrade, camp, bees

NOTABLE
:: Salvation Army arrivals, Gwinnies

ALSO INSIDE

_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor

_:: RECOMMENDED: Send us a recommendation

_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: Inmate workers

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:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Looking back

_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries


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TODAY'S FOCUS
Be careful when contracting for vacation accommodations
By DOTTIE CALLINA
Special to GwinnettForum.com

ATLANTA, Ga., July 6, 2010 -- Vacation rentals can be a great way to save money when traveling on a tight budget. Many travelers are foregoing the mint-on-the-pillow experience for more reasonable and less cushy accommodations. Better Business Bureau advises vacationers to do their research before booking rentals, since sometimes the properties are not as advertised.

In a tough economy, a vacation rental is one way to save if you're willing to forego some of the luxuries. According to a summer 2009 survey by TripAdvisor.com, 43 percent of respondents said that they were planning to stay at a vacation rental in the coming 12 months. On average, the price per square foot for a U.S. hotel is more than twice the price per square foot of a vacation rental according to a report by HomeAway, an online vacation rental company.

Fred T. Elsberry, Jr., president and CEO of the BBB serving Metro Atlanta, Athens and Northeast Georgia, says: "Many travelers have shaved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars off of their vacation costs by renting a house or condo instead of paying for a hotel or resort. A vacation rental can seem riskier than booking a hotel, but if you do your research and pay attention to the fine print, it can be a safe way to save money."

There are many different Web sites that travelers can turn to for finding a vacation rental. Some companies specialize in connecting renters and vacationers---and take a cut for their efforts---while other sites cut out the middleman and potentially some consumer protections like money-back guarantees.

BBB offers the following advice to travelers looking to save money with a vacation rental:

  • Start planning now. Rental properties in popular locations get snatched up quickly so start your search early before all of the best properties are booked.

  • Do your homework. If you plan on enlisting the help of a business, such as a third-party Web site or professional service, to connect you with a renter, always check them out with BBB first at www.bbb.org.

  • Manage your expectations. A home rental is not a hotel so you can't necessarily expect the same level of professionalism, cleanliness or modernization. Some companies will guarantee that the property meets your expectations. If a guarantee isn't being offered, consider travel insurance.

  • Take a virtual tour. Sometimes the pictures and descriptions of the property posted by the renter can be deceiving. Research the property on your own online and take a virtual tour of the surrounding area using Google Maps Street View. Don't be tentative about asking plenty of questions about the property.

  • Get it all in writing. Make sure that all of the verbal agreements are included in the rental contract including details on the deposit, rules on pets, refunds, and what is included in the cost of the rental such as utilities, internet, etc.

  • Use a secure form of payment. Do not send money until you've signed the rental agreement and never pay via money wire, such as through MoneyGram or Western Union. When possible, use a credit card which can provide some amount of consumer protection.

  • Vacation rentals by owner. Take extra precautions when renting from an individual, particularly for international rentals. If possible, get references from previous renters and double-check the location of the property to avoid getting stuck in international waters.

More tips for the budget-savvy traveler can be found at http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-travel/.

EEB PERSPECTIVE
Technology can't replace good writing in modern movie scripts
By ELLIOTT BRACK
Editor and publisher

JULY 6, 2010 -- Technology is ruining the movie business.


Brack

What was once a tremendous medium for telling a story is speedily eroding into a billboard for special effects, outlandish possibilities, expanding fireballs and weirdo blue morphing of people, all at the loss of storytelling.

Today's modern movie-goers get continuous explosive action of unreal possibilities. You wonder do they want their minds cluttered with visual effects? What's the use of any meaningful dialogue anyway, except for "Golly-Gee," "Look-at-that!" and "Wow."

Subtlety is out the window.

Perhaps it's the background of today's generation of so-called script "writers," who were trained on hand-held action games and computer generated warfare, where every next moment presents nothing short of catastrophe. It makes you think we are raising a generation who need continuous frenzy. In the meantime, this generation's reading of decent books has plummeted. They seem to be hooked on continuous action, with little contemplation possible.

It reminds us of modern weaponry of the military. You give a general or an admiral a new weapon, and what do they want to do? They want to shoot it. No wonder we and other nations are continually involved in war.

"Wow!" goes the general. "Can you shoot down another?"

Same for movies. Today's modern-makers and writers use an approach built with continuous and unrealistic action. They figure this is what is needed to keep the movie-goers returning to the screen. After all, they are competing with television, which also suffers from a void of good writing, itself hooked on action, adventure, exploits and out-of-the-world possibilities, too. Reality TV is no replacement of good plots and good writing.

These misplaced antics allow you to understand why a few of the television channels have built a solid following by presenting movies from their earlier days....those with sound dialogue in writing surrounded by a reasonable plot line. The verbal communications between the actors, sometimes highlighted by the sound and scenes, and produced successful motion pictures.

And today AMC, the Movie Channel, TNT, A&E and even once thriving local stations devoid of few good network programs, are filling their air time with old movies. How many times have you heard: "These old movies are the best thing on television!" When you look at their competition, you can agree.

Today's movies are replete with computer-generated special effects. The result is less memorable movies. We can't image people 50 years from now watching today's movies. They may even be watching what we love today, such movies as "White Christmas," "The Best Days of Our Lives," "Stalag 17," "A Christmas Story," and our longtime favorite, "Bad Day at Black Rock." All had superb writing, memorable characters and believable action.

It's sad to say, but the movie industry, truly, is not making them like they did before. Action does not beget quality.

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FEEDBACK
Sees multiple benefits from 20-day early voting program

Editor, the Forum:

Early voting is not new to us in Northern Virginia. As a user of this option, I take exception to those who oppose having this electorate choice. Twenty days out from election day is a small amount of time for candidates to substantially change voter turnout in their favor. Rather, voters appreciate the opportunity to cast their ballot when they've made up their minds on a timetable that works better for them.

Employers appreciate the fact that, on election day, their workers aren't forced to choose between standing in line for hours to do their civic duty or be on the job. Gwinnett County is living in the 21st century and should do everything it can to accommodate commuters, family schedules and employers by making voting hassle-free. Any candidate running on that platform is sure to pick up support for advocating flexible voting days.

I came to Northern Virginia in 1985. By the way, I visited Gwinnett last November for Thanksgiving and traveled around on some of the old [and new] roads, visited neighbors in Harbins, Lilburn and Lawrenceville as well as seeing family. Some areas have undergone a lot of change but others were as recognizable as ever. Daughter Jennifer caught up with a number of her Dacula and Lawrenceville school friends who didn't move away. It didn't take her long to start speaking just like her old girl friends which was a delightful déjà vu moment for me.

-- Gail Hoskins Johnson, Gainesville, Va.

SEND YOUR LETTERS: 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
Gwinnett Village CID gets funds to upgrade busy intersection

The State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) has awarded the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District (CID) a $1.5 million grant to be used toward their intersection improvement project at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Singleton Road.

Gwinnett Village CID will be using its grant to help fund a $4 million pedestrian safety and congestion relief project at the intersection. Improvements will be funded through this SRTA grant, CID funds, Gwinnett County SPLOST revenue and federal dollars.

The new design will include pedestrian and vehicular safety enhancements as well as congestion relief benefits at the heavily traveled intersection. When compared to the existing intersection configuration using projected 2032 traffic volumes, the proposed improvements will reduce overall delay experienced at the intersection by approximately 35 percent during the peak AM periods and approximately 48 percent during the peak PM periods.

In a 2006 Atlanta Regional Commission study, the Jimmy Carter Boulevard/Singleton Road intersection was identified as one of the most dangerous in the region. Improvements for the intersection were suggested in a 2006/2007 Livable Centers Initiative study funded by Gwinnett County. Since that time Gwinnett Village CID has been studying possible enhancements and conducting preliminary engineering.

Chuck Warbington, executive director for Gwinnett Village CID, says: "We've been successful in moving projects forward because of our ability to leverage our locally collected funding to attract investment from state, county and federal partners. I believe those entities look favorably on projects that have the support of a local community willing to invest alongside them."

Brian Allen, director of Gwinnett County Department of Transportation, says: "This is yet another great example of the strength of partnerships among local, regional, state and federal entities. The much-needed project at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Singleton Road, once completed, should greatly improve safety in this area for both pedestrians and the motor-traveling public."

The project includes construction of dedicated right turn lanes and additional left turn lanes on the north and westbound approaches. Pedestrian improvements will include construction of sidewalks, refuge islands and countdown pedestrian signals.

Deadline today for second summer camp at SE Rail Museum

The Southeastern Railway Museum will host its second section of its 2010 Summer Camp from July 112-16. The camp will extend from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., with the theme of "I've been working on the railroad."

During the camp, children will be involved with educational activities, including exploring over 50 historic trains. Each day they will learn more about railroad jobs, how to make a railroad craft, and be involved in rail-themed activities. Included will be a ride in a caboose. The camp will conclude with a presentation of a railroading certificate. Camp costs are $145 per child, which includes a snack each day. Children ages 4-10 may attend. For more information, call Beth Kovach at 770 495 0253, x 2. Deadline for sign up is July 6. The Southeastern Railroad Museum is located in Duluth.

Sierra Club plans meetings on attracting bees to your garden

The Thursday, July 15 meeting of the Sierra Club will hear Carol Hassel of Suwanee on bee pollination gardening. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Berkmar High School.

Hassel, former Suwannee city council member and executive director of the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust, will tell of ways to select the best bee-rewarding plants that you can attract to your flower and vegetable gardens or backyard. For more information, contact Tom Morrissey or call 404-513-4069.

Then on Saturday, July 17 at 11 a.m. the monthly Suwanee Creek monitoring event will be held - rain or shine. This is a learning opportunity and fun for families to learn about the importance of maintaining the health of our local streams. For more information and to attend, contact Michael Hallen at 678-200-0455, or Lynn or Michael Beach at 770-985-5135.

NOTABLE
New Gwinnett Salvation Army leaders arrive from Maryland

The Salvation Army reports that Captains Cameron and Paula Henderson are the new commanding officers of the Lawrenceville Corps Community Centers. The captains, who began their duties on June 23, 2010, will oversee The Salvation Army's spiritual and social services programs throughout Gwinnett County.


Capts. Paula and Cameron Henderson

Cameron Henderson grew up as a child of officers in The Salvation Army and lived all over the southeast with his family (in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Atlanta, Wilson and Charlotte, N.C., and Cumberland, Md.). He graduated with a BA in history from Frostburg State University, in Maryland.

Paula Henderson is also a child of officers of The Salvation Army and spent most of her youth growing up in North and South Carolina and Virginia. She graduated with a BA in Christian Education from Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky.

The two met during various Salvation Army youth ministry outings in the Carolinas division as teens and served on Salvation Army summer camp staffs together. As young teens, after sensing a call from God to each other and to become officers in The Salvation Army, they married in the fall of 1995 and entered The Salvation Army's College for Officer Training in Atlanta in 1996.

Captains Paula and Cameron were commissioned Salvation Army officers and appointed to Arlington, Va. from 1998 - 2003. They served as corps officers responsible for Lawton, Okla. in 2003 - 2005; in Enid, Okla. 2005 - 2007, and in Salisbury, Md. from 2007 - 2010. The Hendersons have two children, Cameron, 9 and Ellison, 7.

Captain Cameron enjoys theological studies and teaching, golf and Duke basketball, while Captain Paula enjoys teaching, reading and scrap-booking.


Hall and Vedejs

Hudgens Center for the Arts presents three with Gwinnies

Two individuals and one firm are the recipients of the 2010 Gwinnie Awards of the Hudgens Center for the Arts. The Award Winners were Art Vedejs, for his work transforming the pond and the subsequent revitalization of the Sculpture Garden at The Hudgens; Bill Brogdon, for his unwavering dedication and support of The Hudgens; and the Gwinnett Daily Post, for their public support of the arts and coverage of the arts. The awards came at the annual Appreciation Evening and Member Meeting recently. Stan Hall, left, chairman of the board, presents Art Vedejs with his award.

RECOMMENDED

  • 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
State gets into the business of leasing prisoners for work

During the antebellum period, Georgia and the rest of the South relied heavily on slave labor for farming and jobs that required hard labor. But with emancipation and the passage of the 13th Amendment, slavery as an institution and a form of labor became illegal. After the Civil War (1861-65), landowners had a difficult time finding, and controlling, a labor force.

Some Georgians saw the prisoners at the state's penitentiary in Milledgeville as the solution to their problems-a workforce that could be firmly controlled. Georgia leaders were also concerned about the costs associated with operating a penitentiary, as the prison population increased and included many more African Americans. In an effort to resolve these issues, officials during Reconstruction (1867-76) approved the leasing of prisoners to private citizens.

Provisional Governor Thomas Ruger awarded the first convict lease to William A. Fort of the Georgia and Alabama Railroad on May 11, 1868. Fort was given 100 African American prison laborers for one year at the price of $2,500. Fort was responsible for taking care of the prisoners' basic needs during the year that they were in his possession. Sixteen prisoners died during that first year while working for private entities.

From the government's point of view, the program was successful. In 1869 the state decided to lease out all of the 393 prisoners in the penitentiary for no fee to the contracting firm Grant, Alexander, and Company to work on the Macon and Brunswick Railroad. Although it was agreed that the convicts would be treated humanely, reports to then-governor Rufus Bullock indicated that leased convicts were being overworked, brutally whipped, and killed while under the care of Grant, Alexander, and Company.

Within five years, (by 1874) convict leasing was a major source of revenue for the state. Over a span of 18 months in 1872 and 1873, the hiring out of prison labor brought Georgia more than $35,000. With this success, the state legislature passed a law in 1876 that endorsed the leasing of the state's prisoners to one or more companies for at least twenty years. Three companies took on these convicts at the price of $500,000 to be paid at intervals over the 20-year span of the lease.

(To be continued)

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2010, Gwinnett Forum.com. Gwinnett Forum is an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

TODAY'S QUOTE
What Tallulah thought upon looking back on life

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."

-- Southern actress Tallulah Bankhead (1903 - 1968).

CANDIDATE PROFILES

For the 2010 primary season, GwinnettForum asked all candidates facing primary opposition in Gwinnett County to provide answers to a few questions. You can read their answers below by clicking on the links.

Candidates with no primary opposition are noted. They'll be asked in the fall by us to fill out issues surveys, which we'll publish before the November election.

PROFILE KEY

  • (DNR) indicates a candidate did not respond to our survey
  • (+) indicates a candidate has received GwinnettForum's endorsement. Statewide and commission endorsements will be published in forthcoming issues.

2010 FEDERAL CANDIDATES

U.S. Congress, District 4

Democrats

U.S. Congress, District 7

Republicans

2010 STATEWIDE CANDIDATES

Georgia Governor

Democrats

Republicans

Georgia Lieutenant Governor

Democrats

  • Tricia Carpenter McCracken (DNR)
  • Carol Porter (+)

    Republican Casey Cagle faces no primary opposition.

Georgia Attorney General

Democrats

Republicans

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture

Republicans

Democrat J.B. Powell faces no primary opposition in the Agriculture Commissioner race.

Georgia Commissioner of Insurance

Republicans

Democrat Mary Squires faces no primary opposition in the Insurance Commissioner race.

Georgia Labor Commissioner

Democrats

Georgia Secretary of State

Democrats

Georgia State School Superintendent

Democrats

Georgia Public Service Commission

Republicans

Democrat Keith Moffett faces no primary opposition in the race for Public Service Commission.

2010 LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES

Georgia State Senate, District 9

Republicans

Democrat Rashid Malik faces no primary opposition in this Senate race.

State Senate, District 40

Republicans

State Representative, District 51

Republicans

State Representative, District 88

Democrats

State Representative, District 95

Democrats

State Representative, District 96

Democrats

State Representative, District 98

Republicans

State Representative, District 101

Republicans

State Representative, District 102

Republicans

Democrat Porter D. Deal faces no primary opposition in this House race.

State Representative, District 103

Republicans

Democrat Allan Burns faces no primary opposition in this House race.

State Representative, District 104

Republicans

Democrat Lee Thompson faces no primary opposition in this House race.

State Representative, District 106

Republicans

Democrat Steffini Bethea faces no primary opposition in this House race.

2010 GWINNETT COUNTY CANDIDATES

Gwinnett County Commissioner, District 2

Republicans

Democrat Robert Lee Byers faces no primary opposition in this commission race.

Gwinnett County Commissioner, District 4

Republicans

MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE

9/3: Governments, ancestry

8/31: Grand jury findings

8/27: Coveting artifical turf

8/24: N. Ga. to control House

8/20: Salvation Army ties

8/17: Civility and society

8/13: Good ole boys got pick

8/10: GGC opens new facilities

8/6: Sophisticated scam

8/3: Howington celebrates

7/30: Humor in books

7/27: Runoff endorsements

7/23: Looking beyond primaries

7/20: What price freedom?

7/16: Early voting concerns

7/13: UGA headline-maker

7/9: On Bannister incident

7/6: On classic movies

7/2: Malcolm Gwinnett

EEB index of columns

MORE RECENT COMMENTARY

9/3: Thomas: Great Days of Service

8/31: Severino: Tucker crematory

8/27: Regan: Anti-privatization

8/24: Pope: HOT lanes info

8/20: Stilo: Aurora kids' theater

8/17: Morrison: Artistic collaboration

8/13: Pirello: Culinary center

8/10: Mock: Sharing worthwhile

8/6: Sherman: Opp zone

8/3: Morrison: Brenau's plans

7/30: Heaven: Federal tax info

7/27: Nelems: Media surveys

7/23: Urrutia: Fish vaccines

7/20: Paul: Norcross group

7/16: Stilo: Aurora's 15th season

7/13: Jackson: PCOM's new school

7/9: Jones: Energy audit

7/6: Callina: Vacation rentals

7/2: Williams: Gwinnett Place

 

ABOUT US

GwinnettForum.com 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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