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DIFFERENT LIFE: It’s a different life in Arizona than in Georgia. This photo, taken on an I-Phone camera by a friend visiting in the area at dusk amid the palm trees, doesn’t tell you that the temperature in the middle of February for Thursday was between 49 to 80 degrees! After the cold of the Georgia winter in 2010, some people may be longing for such weather. For remembering what the winter was like in Georgia, see Lagniappe at the bottom of the Forum.

Issue 10.95 | Friday, March 4, 2011

:: Leadership group wants participants

:: Kurt's Bistro to open soon

:: Don't forget the service charge!

::Letters on taxation, Georgia legislature

:: Folk art at Hudgens, Aquatic Center

:: Hospital begins heart procedure, more


_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor
_:: REVIEW: Send us a recommendation
_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: Airports and military bases_
_:: LAGNIAPPE: Snow scene
_:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Changing society
_:: CALENDAR: Coming events
_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries


Neighborhood Leadership Institute seeks class members

Associate director, Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute
Special to GwinnettForum

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., March 4, 2011 – Calling all community leaders! Do you want to make a difference in your community and neighborhood? Would you like to meet the movers and shakers in Gwinnett that can help you make it happen? Then you need to apply for the next class of the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute kicking off in August.


The Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute (GNLI) is a program of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, a non-profit organization. GNLI has been operating for over 16 years, making a huge difference in Gwinnett. “GNLI was started as a way to get every day citizens involved in improving their neighborhoods and communities,” says Ellen Gerstein, head of the Gwinnett Health and Human Services Coalition.

GNLI is an eight-month program that meets on one Saturday a month and begins with a two-day weekend retreat. The Institute provides students a training program, provided by the UGA Fanning Institute which focuses on five core areas: understanding community leadership, effective communication, group decision making, building communities through collaboration and leading community change. One of the most valuable components of the program and a requirement of graduation is a community improvement project, which allows participants to put their training to work, all while making a practical, tangible difference in the community.

Examples of past projects include a money management courses for youth, a new and improved helpline website, senior resource support, transportation initiatives and many more. Projects like this help better our local community and give participants an up-close view of the challenges but also the opportunities that exists. Gerstein says. “Gwinnett County has poverty, homelessness, a growing immigrant and senior population – issues no different than DeKalb or Fulton. However, there are less resources and infrastructure to address these needs. It is the citizens who ultimately have to take action to address these issues. GNLI provides that forum.”

There are citizens at all levels that are interested and want to get involved because they believe they can make a difference. GNLI brings them together, builds their knowledge, increases their networks and hopefully empower them to keep it going.

There are several leadership programs that exist in this community. They are all valuable and special. GNLI is very special to our organization and community because of the direct impact in underserved communities. For 16 years, it’s been inspiring civic engagement and community improvement. Members of the GNLI team feel honored to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderful community leaders year after year.

For more information about the 2011-2012 class of the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute visit the website at Or call me at 678-377-4137. GNLI is currently accepting nominations and applications. (Individuals may nominate themselves.) Spaces are limited, so apply today!

Former Kurt’s Restaurant closed, but Kurt’s Bistro to open soon
Editor and publisher

MARCH 4, 2011 – Our favorite restaurant in Gwinnett has closed, but will open soon in smaller facilities just around the corner. We refer to Kurt’s Restaurant in Duluth, an institution in Gwinnett since 1985.


The restaurant since 1989 has been located in what was once the farm home of Irvindale Dairy near the Chattahoochee River in Duluth (behind AGCO’s headquarters). Now Kurt’s is moving to a new building across River Green Parkway from AGCO, to be at 3305 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. Restauranteer Kurt Eisele, his wife, Vreny and his son, Alexander, hope to open “Kurt’s Bistro” in the new facilities within about two weeks. “We’re waiting on the fire marshal and health inspectors,” he says.

“We’ll have a soft opening,” says Alexander, “Then come later with a Grand Opening.”

We can’t wait. We love their German and Swiss-based cooking (Kurt is from Stuttgart, Germany, while his wife is from Switzerland.) Their menu will be “updated and refined” with classic European dishes, mostly German, but touches of French, Italian and Spanish food on the menu.

Kurt assures me that his superb Wiener schnitzel will be on the menu, as well as his reincarnation of mountain trout. That makes me happy already. (Problem is that the schnitzel is so wonderfully cooked as I remember it from Germany, that I seldom look to other items on the menu. My mouth is actually watering as I write this.)

Kurt first came to the area as the chef at the Atlanta Athletic Club for 7.5 years, then in 1985 opened his first restaurant on Peachtree Parkway (near Spalding Drive). Scott Hudgens enticed him to move to the Duluth address in 1989, and he’s been an institution there since.

His restaurant was in a sprawling 12,500 square foot building, with activity scattered all over the rambling-and-added-onto house. That included a special meeting room at the back of the building, where civic clubs and institutional gatherings were held.

However, it took 30-35 staff to run the place, a high overhead. Business boomed for years. Kurt remembers: “We had a lot of business from the sales and distribution companies and from Japanese firms. We did a lot of entertainment. But then the dot-com bust came along, and shortly after that, the economic downturn. We just couldn’t keep the large place open any longer.”

But soon he’ll be back in business, in a 2,400 square foot newly designed bistro, where he can seat 90 people. It’ll only take 10-12 staff members for this new operation.

Among his offerings at the bistro will be Kurt’s always-deep wine list, and eight beers on draft. Already set up at the bar are the giant levers advertising his beers on draft. It’s a major offering of famous beers.

There’s Warsteiner.

Then Spaten Munchner

Munchen Dunkel.

Franziskamer Weissbier.

Widmar Hebeweissen.


And then something not entirely German: Miller.

This beer line-up is just the accompaniment for what will go on at Kurt’s Bistro. The beer and wine will bring zest to the meal, but it’s the old-world touches from the chef himself, Kurt Eisele, that will make this new restaurant a success.

Kurt’s an institution in Gwinnett. We’re pleased to see his efforts to re-open in a location just-around-the corner. It’ll allow those of us who enjoy his own European fare continue to be satisfied in Gwinnett.

Howard Brothers

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Howard Brothers, which has outlets in Duluth, Norcross and Oakwood. John and Doug Howard are the owners/operators of the Howard Brothers stores, which specialize in hardware, outdoor power equipment and parts and service. Major trade brands are a hallmark of Howard Brothers. And did you know that Howard Brothers is the largest seller of Stihl Outdoor Power products in the United States. Howard Brothers also carries Makita Power Tools. Visit the web site at

Don’t forget the service charge

Feels Georgia taxation policies need much more modernizing

Editor, the Forum:

In your March 1 column, you rail about the evils of taxing services. In doing so, you are editorially supporting an antiquated, unfair taxing structure that needs to be modernized for the knowledge economy.

Here's an example of why not taxing services is unfair. Let's say you want your yard mowed. If you do it yourself, you have to buy a lawn mower on which you will pay sales tax. But if you hire someone to do it, you'll pay a flat fee with no sales tax. Under Georgia's current tax structure, that gives the advantage to the service provider and puts the retailer who sells lawn mowers at a disadvantage.

As we outlined in our 2006 book on tax reform strategies for the American South, Georgia taxes only 36 services of the 168 classified by the Federation of Tax Adminstrators (2004 data). That's much like most Southern states. More:

Unlike some columnists today, you're not opposed to all taxes because you know they're necessary for our government to maintain freedom. But increasing the tax on services is not necessarily as bad as you think it may be. If done correctly, the state could make the measure revenue neutral after its current budget crisis. In turn, that might mean Georgia's overall sales tax rate could go down because of the broader sales tax base due to more services being taxed. Wouldn't it be better to pay five cents in sales tax for everything with a few more services added, than to continue the old system and pay six cents on every dollar? Yes, sales taxes are regressive, but they're less so if they're broader -- and legislators don't use increased revenues as slush funds without reducing the rate.

– Andy Brack, president, Center for a Better South, Charleston, S.C.

Dear son: we’re glad we raised you to think independently. We happen to disagree on this, since we think it’s a grasp by the legislators to impose MORE taxes while not taking the time to overhaul the tax code. --eeb

Confused over Georgia firms and corporate taxes

Editor, the Forum:

I am confused. Are you saying corporations do not pay taxes? They collect taxes from the final consumer and pass them on to the government!  I believe you recognize that. All taxes are always paid by the final consumer always! Every time ! No final consumer, no profit no tax No sale, no tax.  Where does the money come from to pay the tax? = It’s the final consumer, always every time !

– Frankie Miller, Lilburn

Dear Frankie: The taxing policies are very much convoluted, often to the benefit of particular industries. But corporations surely pay taxes on their profits, which is understandable, and reasonable. And yes, even the most basic industries have built into their product costs the long-range tax, which the consumer ends paying. (Firms do not pay corporate taxes if they are not profitable.) So far Georgia does not impose heavy taxes on services like accountants, barbers, auto repair work, etc. ---eeb

Observations on today and yesterday's Georgia legislature

Editor, the Forum:

As I watch and listen to reports regarding the Georgia Legislature, I am once again reminded of two adages, one very old, the other not so old.

"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session"-- Unknown Pennsylvania writer, mid 1800's.

And: "To bring Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey into town while the legislature is in session is a total redundancy." – Unknown Atlanta Constitution, writer, circa 1980.

The current session of the Legislature is proving both of these assertions true beyond a shadow of a doubt.

– Robert Hanson, Loganville

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Hudgens Arts Center to open folk art exhibit on March 8

A new folk art exhibit is opening at the Hudgens Center. Featuring a wide range of colorful and creative work, the show, “We Are Folk: Exploring Traditions in Southern Folk Art” opens on March 8, and will be on view through May 21. This Southern folk art and Georgia pottery exhibition is co-curated by Steve Slotin and Michael A. Crocker. 

An opening reception for the exhibit is scheduled for Thursday, March 10, from 6-8 p.m., featuring an informal Gallery Talk by co-curators Slotin and Crocker at 7 p.m. There is no cost for the reception.

Slotin is the producer of Folk Fest and owner of Slotin Art Auctions in Buford.  Crocker, curator of the folk pottery component of the exhibit, was heavily involved with the formation of the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia in Sautee Nacoochee and is a co-curator there.  He is also a historian, collector and folk potter.  Both curators loaned pieces from their personal collections for the Hudgens Center's exhibit.
The exhibit showcases works by Southern folk artists and potters, such as a collection of works by the historically significant North Georgia Meaders’ family potters, including Cheever, Arie and Lanier Meaders face jugs on loan from Crocker.  Works on loan from several local collections include such significant artists as Howard Finster and Minnie Evans as well as several 'Memory Paintings' from Georgia's own Mattie Lou O'Kelley and Louisiana's Clementine Hunter.
According to Slotin, "[folk] art is produced by untrained people who draw on their culture and experiences in an isolated world; made with a true, untutored, creative passion.  It's raw, expressive, unconventional, nonconforming, genuine and truly original.  Artistically acclaimed acceptance has caused this art form to blossom."

The Hudgens is announcing a partnership with Creative Enterprises to showcase outsider art by their clients in the Gift Shop. Creative Enterprises is an area non-profit that assists individuals with disabilities in developing an optimum level of social, vocational and economic independence in their community. The Hudgens Center for the Arts is located at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, in Duluth, in the Gwinnett Center complex. For more information visit or call 770-623-6002.

Get into shape by using West Gwinnett Aquatic Center activities

Is your New Year’s resolution to get in shape starting to fade? Do you want to get ready for swimsuit season?

Change up your exercise routine with water aerobics classes at West Gwinnett Park Aquatic Center, located at 4488 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. These programs are a fun, high-energy way to get a low-impact workout. The programs use music, foam noodles and dumbbells to spice up workouts. Deep water classes use flotation belts to keep the chest and head above the water, so they are perfect for those with joint problems.

Drop-in classes are for people age 15 and up at all skill levels and require no pre-registration. The shallow water classes are better suited for beginners. Deep water classes are geared for those more advanced in water aerobics. No swimming skills are necessary. Fees, from $2 to $5 per session, are charged for Gwinnett County residents, and the fee is double for non-Gwinnett residents.

For more information about other fitness and recreational opportunities, visit

Gwinnett Medical Center performs first PCI intervention case

Gwinnett Medical Center has recently performed a first procedure in its cardiac catheterization lab. PCI is short for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, the formal name for coronary angioplasty and stenting.

Philip R. Wolfe, GMC president and CEO , says: “This is a significant milestone in Gwinnett Medical Center’s history and a great advancement for the community we serve. Before, cardiac patients needing interventional treatments had to leave Gwinnett. Now, they are able to receive this advanced service here in our community. This moves us one major step closer to offering the complete array of advanced cardiovascular care right here in Gwinnett.”

The ability to perform PCI is one component of what will be a full suite of advanced cardiovascular services at Gwinnett Medical Center. Approval to provide the service was granted by the Georgia Department of Community Health, complementing the approval to offer open heart surgical services. The hospital is currently constructing its Heart & Vascular Center at GMC-Lawrenceville, but is able to perform PCI services within its existing cardiac catheterization labs. The Heart & Vascular Center is scheduled to open in early 2012.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Louis Heller of Cardiovascular Group, P.C. Dr. Heller is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases, Interventional Cardiology and a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He is the director of the cardiac cath lab at GMC.

Interiors student Shelton wins Gwinnett Tech GOAL Award

Sharon Shelton, an Interiors student, second from right, is the winner of Gwinnett Technical College's 2011 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL). She’s shown with Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels (center) and Gwinnett Tech GOAL finalists (from left) Maggie Waddell, Andres Navarrete, and Alfred Sanalila, at the right.

Shelton holds a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Louisville and earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resources from the Indiana University in Bloomington. She chose to attend Gwinnett Tech because of the award-winning status of its Interiors program and a passion for design. As a brain tumor survivor, Shelton has overcome many obstacles in her life and is an inspiration to her fellow students.
Gwinnett Tech's other GOAL finalists include:

  • Andres Navarrete, a Horticulture student;
  • Alfred Sanalila, a Networking Specialist student; and
  • Maggie Waddell, a Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management student.

As Gwinnett Tech's GOAL winner, Shelton will continue on to the statewide GOAL competition. If she wins the state competition, Shelton will serve as an ambassador for technical education in Georgia and win a Chevrolet Cruze.

Thirteen photographers win in Suwanee shutter competition

Suwanee locales and people are featured in the 13 photos selected as winners of the 2011 Snap Suwanee competition. The photos were chosen from among 114 entries received from 35 shutterbugs and are on exhibit through the remainder of the year on the first floor of City Hall.

If there was a common theme among the entries, it would be the snow that arrived in Suwanee, both in February and on Christmas day of last year. More than two dozen of the entries featured snow.

Winning photographers include Suwanee residents Donna Charpentier, Natasha Fullard, Janet George, Dave Gillett, Michael Howard, Cris Koenigs, Mary Shaffer, Laura Shinliver, and Sandy Weaver. Other winners include Chrissy Jones of Dacula, Keri McDaniel of Lawrenceville, Jessica Roth of Snellville, and Steve White of Sugar Hill.

Send us your reviews

  • 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

DeKalb Peachtree Airport example of growth in air facilities

(From previous edition)

DeKalb Peachtree Airport in Chamblee outside of Atlanta is an example of how Georgia general-aviation facilities have improved the state's air transportation system and overall economy. PDK, as the airport is commonly called, has averaged 230,000 operations—takeoffs and landings—annually for more than 30 years. PDK is the second-busiest airport in Georgia, behind only Hartsfield-Jackson.

PDK is for metropolitan Atlanta a "general reliever airport"; it helps reduce congestion by providing local service for smaller aircraft, allowing Hartsfield-Jackson to serve commercial airlines exclusively. General aviation at PDK includes corporate jets, aircraft charters, flight lessons, aircraft maintenance, personal planes for business and recreation, and helicopters.

DeKalb Peachtree Airport occupies the original site of Naval Air Station Atlanta, which operated from 1942 to 1959.

Afterward the airport became a department of the DeKalb County government. By 1975 more than 400 aircraft, as well as 48 corporations, were based at PDK. In 1988 the FAA completed a $2 million, 130-foot freestanding control tower for the airport. In the 1990s PDK obtained a modern helipad, where most media organizations in Atlanta base their helicopters.

Today PDK has four aviation service companies, seven flight schools, and two helicopter operations. Corporations with flight departments at PDK include Bank of America, Southern Company, Kimberly-Clark, Post Properties, Rollins, and Honey Baked Ham. The airport consists of 765 acres, which encompass four runways (each more than 5,500 feet), 25 large hangars, and 90 smaller ones, with about 590 aircraft based at the facility.

PDK, which is financially self-sufficient, is the third-largest payer of property taxes in DeKalb County, responsible for an estimated 7,300 jobs, and generates approximately $130 million in income for local residents. In 2000 the National Air Transportation Association named PDK one of "America's 100 Most Needed Airports," critical for the growth of the nation's aviation and economy.

(To be continued)

Winter scene

“Snow on Main,” by Cris Koenigs of Suwanee is one of the winners of this year’s Suwanee photo contest. The photos are being exhibited. See story above for more details.


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2011, Gwinnett 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.


Be sure to check out our special section below that highlights positions of the four candidates vying to be the next chair of Gwinnett County Commission.



Who to reach first to change society

"Society’s course will be changed only by a change in ideas. First you must reach the intellectuals, the teachers and writers, with reasoned argument. It will be their influence on society which will prevail, and the politicians will follow.”

-- Austrian Nobel Prize winner, economist, brain theorist, historian of ideas, philosopher, and legal theorist F.A. Hayek (1899-1992.)




We asked the four candidates for the county's March 15 special election for county commission chair to answer six questions, so GwinnettForum readers could become better informed about the candidates.

Here are their responses to our request. You can read their answers below by clicking on the links.

County Commission Chair candidates


Flora and Fauna Art Exhibit: Kudzu Art Zone, Norcross, March 4 until April 30. There will be a flower arranging workshop April 30 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., led by Chris Sherry, noted Atlanta instructor. For more info, go to, or telephone 770-945-4896.

Midsummer Night Dream: 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., March 5. Presented by Gwinnett Ballet Theatre at Gwinnett Performing Arts Center, Duluth. For more information, call 770-978-0188 or visit the Web site.

Business After Hours, at Embroidered Impression, 2721 Faith Industrial Drive, Buford: 5:30 p.m., March 8. Sponsored by the Buford Business Alliance.

State of Norcross Address, at Norcross Community Center: 7 p.m., March 8. Mayor Bucky Johnson will make the report, with city councilmen present. Norcross Neighbors will host a short reception at this affair.

Formation meeting of more Neighborhood Watch Groups: 7 p.m. March 8 at Lilburn City Hall. Police Chief John Davidson will lead the program. For more information, email

Greater Lilburn Business Expo: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., March 10 at Berkmar High Gym. Sponsored by the Lilburn Business Association, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Solutions Marketing. Over 100 businesses are expected to participate. Go to for details.

Meet the Author at Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center,: 7 p.m., March 12. Lisa Gardner, who has authored 12 detective novels, and was recently awarded the International Thriller Writer's Award for the best hardcover of the year for The Neighbor, will visit. The event is free and sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public Library system.

Special Election for Gwinnett County Commission Chair, at all polling places in Gwinnett County: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., March 15.

(NEW) Gwinnett Tech Forum: 7:30 a.m., March 15, Gwinnett Tech’s Busbee Center. Speaker is Brian Shield executive vice president of the Weather Channel.

(NEW) Water Forum: 11:30 a.m., March 17, at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Education Room. Sponsored by the Green Chamber of the South and the Gwinnett Chamber, the session will focus on the demands on water resources. Panelists include Mike Lloyd, Kimberly Clark; Maury Zimring, the Coca-Cola Co.; Chris Dimmick, Rainbird Corporation; and the moderator, Kim Karch, of the Green Bridge Council. Cost is $20. For more info, go to

Success Lives Here Breakfast, Sugarloaf Country Club: 7:30 a.m., March 18. Philip Wolfe, president and CEO of Gwinnett Medical Center, will speak. Deadline for registration is March 14. For more information, contact

Civil War Lecture: 2 p.m., April 10, for Snellville Historical Society at Assembly Room of Snellville City Hall, Speaking will be Author Barry Brown.

Art Show, "Walk Like a Gwinnettian: Through April 25, at Gwinnett Historic Courthouse, Lawrenceville. Features work of T. J. Haugh. Reception for artist is Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at the site.


5/6: Worrying celebrations

5/3: Water plant surprise

4/29: Higher ed burden

4/26: Hog Mountain church

4/22: Briscoe Field

4/19: Ga's 2 senators

4/15: Mfg. improvements

4/12: Aviation school thrives

4/8: Unterman sets record

4/5: AJC missed land options

4/1: Celebrating 10 years

EEB index of columns


5/6: Wiener: Gwinnett Place CID to improve

5/3: Perez: Long view of Gwinnett

4/29: Peterson: Sons of Union Vets here

4/26: Austin: Airport privatization

4/22: Sutt: Barefoot festival

4/19: Myers: Preventing blindness

4/15: Moore: Hidden homeless

4/12: Maine: Lord inducted

4/8: Willis: Cutting a chicken

4/5: Ruth: Aurora's camps

4/1: National Grandmothers



2/22: Ramsey: GGC labs

2/18: Corbin: Interchange idea

2/15: Cranon: Organ donation

2/11: Johnson: L'ville's future

2/8: Unterman: Child prostitution

2/4: Thanks from local church

2/1: Crawford: Ga. battlefields

1/28: Bland: Artists to Nicaragua

1/25: Boehm: Biz efficiencies

1/21: Stone: Play's world premier

1/18: Doctors: Stem cells

1/14: Watson: Teleworking tips

1/11: Fowler: Filmmakers' showcase

1/7: Freeman: Our real estate market

1/4: Malone: Reorganizing county

1/4: Malcolm: Tax bill bodes well

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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