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SNELLVILLE BRASS: The City of Snellville has purchased the 10.7 acre Wisteria Square project, after identifying a market opportunity study last fall. The property, at the Wisteria Drive intersection with Clower Street, is across from the new Police Department. The city paid $697,450 for the plot after a bank foreclosure. The ongoing master plan initiative includes the property in its defined planning area. Eighteen months ago, the city was offered the property for over $6 million. Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said the property was bought "at fire sale prices." He adds: "We'll use some of it as green space, and hold the land for commercial development. And we'll control who we sell to, and that what is there is in the best interest of the city." From left are Tom Witt, Kelly Kautz, Mayor Oberholtzer, Barbara Bender, Mike Sabbaugh and Tod Warner, all members of the council.

Issue 11.01 | Friday, April 1, 2011

:: A national president in Snellville club

:: Reflecting on 10 years of Forum

::On Peachtree Corners (lite)

:: Who shot Button?, grant, more

:: Award, incorrect assessments


_:: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Meet a sponsor

_:: REVIEW: Send us a review

_:: GEORGIA TIDBIT: Hawkinsville artist

_:: TODAY'S QUOTE: Knowledge forward

_:: CALENDAR: Coming events

_:: ARCHIVES: Read past commentaries


Grayson resident heads National Grandmother Clubs

Special to GwinnettForum

SNELLVILLE, Ga., April 1, 2011 -- People in Gwinnett County may not realize what an important element grandmothers from Gwinnett County have been in the National Federation of Grandmothers Clubs of America (NFGCA).


Two grandmothers from Gwinnett have been national presidents of these grandmother clubs, including the current president, Kelly Burnett of Grayson. Both are members of the Designing Grandmothers Club of Snellville. It has been a member of the national organization since 1989.

The National Federation of Grandmothers Clubs of America (NFGCA) is now celebrating its 77th anniversary.

The NFGCA came into existence at an Illinois Convention of Business and Professional Women in the spring of 1934 and was chartered by the state of Illinois on April 11, 1938. While attending these annual conventions, Mary K. Brown and other grandmothers would meet for breakfast to talk about their children and grand children. These women found they had a united goal to help children. An article published by Associated Press created such interest and enthusiasm for the Grandmothers Club across the United States that the club officers applied to the Illinois Secretary of State, asking him to grant a charter to create the National Grandmothers Club. We now have clubs in almost every state in the nation, including Hawaii.

As a not-for-profit service organization, the National Federation of Grandmothers Clubs picks one national charity each year to support for the purpose of "Researching Childhood Diseases." This year the national charity is CURE Childhood Cancer. At CURE, 86 percent of every dollar donated goes to this research. Our donations help build, equip and sustain a state-of-the-art laboratory for scientific research and funded clinical studies to improve the survival rate in children with cancer.


The Designing Grandmothers Club of Snellville was granted Charter Number 1006 in August, 1989. Gwinnett's Lessie Gresham Hewatt was the founder and first president of the local club. Her daughter, Barbara Hewatt Rawlins (one of the authors of this article) is the current president of the Designing Grandmothers Club and has also served as national president.

Our members are deeply rooted in a passion for helping children and more committed than ever to making a difference for those battling cancer. Along with our donation to the NFGCA national charity, we have supported several local children with cancer related needs through our fund raising campaigns.
We accept donations from the community and participate in the Belk's Charity Days, held several times each year at the Snellville department store. We also have hosted auctions, Bunko and Bridge tournaments and dinners to raise money. Though our community's support over the past eight years the Designing Grandmothers of Snellville have given over $50,000 to CURE Childhood Cancer.

The Designing Grandmothers Club would welcome those of you with the same passions and desires. Grandparenthood is NOT a requirement for membership. If you have a passion for helping children and want to enjoy yourself with a group of women with similar interests, please join us. Our monthly meetings are held at the Snellville Senior Center on the second Monday of each month at 11 a.m. You are welcome to drop in or give us a call to learn more. We promise you laughter and a great feeling of accomplishment. For more information, contact or call Marlene at 770-972-5595.

How time flies
begins 11th year of publication today

Editor and publisher

APRIL 1, 2011 -- Ten years ago, in April, 2001, GwinnettForum began as a new venture, unlike any other, perched on the outer reaches of journalism on this new element, the Internet. This issue marks the first edition of its 11th year.


It's been a fun ride for lots of us, allowing people in the community to put forward their ideas on topics from A to Z. It's also allowed me to reflect on activities on the Gwinnett scene.

The whole idea of this publication is to provide a medium for the free flow of ideas, pro and con, on all sorts of subjects. The Forum provides space for the community to pen 500 words on a subject of their choice. Some of these ideas flow in over the transom, so to speak, while at other times we'll ask individuals with expertise or interest on different topics to write us 500 words.

Yes, about 500 words. Not more than 600. We look over each submission to ensure standard style, but also to check it out for correctness of grammar, etc. Often the guest contributors will present different and unique ideas. We seek to be careful not to obstruct their original meaning in our editing (mainly for style and space.)

Every now and then someone will submit something of 1,000 or more words on a topic. In those cases, we merely send it back to them untouched, asking "boil it down to 500 words." We want it short so our readers will keep reading.

Surely we must have a word about our faithful readers: many are the leaders of Gwinnett. Many write for the Forum. We also hear from many in leadership roles who talk about items which have appeared in this Forum, and not in other places.

One thing for sure: you can't get something past our readers. Someone will sound the alarm immediately, often in phone, on emails, or in person!

What we have most enjoyed in these 10 years of publishing has been the "feedback" from readers on items of interest to the community, or of ideas which have been published here. We get all sorts of responses. If they missed a point, or try to slip something by, we don't mind having a response, mainly, for the record, so that others do not get the wrong impression from their comments.

All this could not be possible without the continuing support of our underwriters. These businesses and individuals in Gwinnett recognize the benefit that such a forum provides, and back it with dollars to help pay for routine everyday business operations, such as rent, phone, insurance, Internet and computer support. (We pay no one a salary out of the Forum.) We ask our readers to recognize the underwriters for their support and help over the years, and thank them in person when they see them.

Now we begin the 11th year. It'll be fun to see what develops next, or what the next topic might be, or what direction our county and state venture into next. Seems like there's always something to write about, though I have sidestepped writing on a hot topic for today to mark a distinctive landmark time!

First National Insurance Group

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is First National Insurance Group, located at 1689 Duluth Highway, Lawrenceville. The firm, with roots going back to its founding in 1995, offers multi-lines in insurance and financial services, including auto, home, recreational, commercial and group benefits programs. It is the representative of several old-line insurance companies, including Travelers, Hartford, Auto-owners, Allied, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and Zurich firms. Call First National Insurance at 770 513-2264. Check out our web site at

Suggests PC residents read proposed charter carefully

Editor, the Forum:

I have been following your commentaries on the process and I would like to offer the following points:

1. Cityhood has been sold on the idea of "annexation insurance" by United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA). There is no threat of any annexation of the residential parts of Peachtree Corners. A city recovers no more than 90 cents for every dollar of service provided to residential sections. If the business area, that yield $1.30 or more per $1 of service is lost to another area, UPCCA would lose its dream of creating a city. Norcross, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Berkeley Lake, nor any other have any interest in our homes as a tax base. They might want the business areas.

2. Most Peachtree Corners residents are quite satisfied with the services they get from the county.

3. The businesses in the new city will get no new services to go along with the new taxes and fees which they will pay. I wonder how many of those businesses solicited Norcross to annex their area so they could get increased police patrols?

4. The charter allows the new government to encumber the residents with debt in the form of city borrowing and selling bonds. Retirement will be provided to all employees. I suppose there will be city vehicles and expense accounts. There will be a Municipal Court, Judge, City Attorney, Assistant City Attorney. The council will set up new franchise fees, license fees, fines, and so on.

This is all for what? Is this just another layer of unnecessary government? I suggest everyone read the new city charter completely.

-- Byron Gilbert, Peachtree Corners resident

Hopes to be within new Peachtree Corners city limits area

Editor, the Forum:

You had an interesting recent article on the proposed city of Peachtree Corners. It's obvious that you're not too enthusiastic about the plan.

But step back and look at the benefits. This is an area that is pretty much devoid of any significant adult leadership. I myself have almost been killed by lunatic drivers in my own subdivision more than once. There is no police force here as it is part of the county and the county has chosen to place their patrol cars in "other" areas.

The move by the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) deserves merit because it understands that it must have a good tax base to draw from in order to provide any kind of services. The community of Berkeley Lake (I hesitate to call it a city) has learned this lesson the hard way. The citizens in this community hesitated in annexing adjoining properties, preferring to remain a quiet community. Now it finds itself on the brink of bankruptcy as it is burdened with a costly dam repair that the small community of homeowners will ultimately have to bear the cost of, all while servicing a huge loan that provided a land buffer for an extremely small portion of the homes in the community.

It's interesting that your list of services provided by cities indicates that my small subdivision could be considered a city by those standards, as it could be argued that it does provide at least three of the services provided. We've had discussions within our subdivision about "gating," but when the ultimate costs of servicing the roads within the subdivision was considered, we decided that we did not have the financial base to go in that direction.

This is a lesson the Community of Berkeley Lake is learning as the taxes continue to increase but there is no net increase in services. No wonder they don't support the City Lite proposal, as they would lose the ability to annex properties into their own community for their tax basis. That is something Berkeley Lake should have considered years ago.

UPCCA has done its homework. It understands that it must have a strong tax base or it will wither on the vine much as Berkeley Lake finds itself doing. They have been a strong advocate in development ensuring that Georgia Highway 141/Medlock Bridge did not turn into a Peachtree Industrial or Memorial Drive….which is the direction many developers would have gone had it not been to the strong oversight of this group. They have been a strong advocate for the citizens in this area and have demonstrated that they can easily take this community to the next level and provide the types of services that Berkeley Lake or the county itself cannot provide. My only hope is that after the area is granted its city position, that there is some way to get my side of the subdivision moved into their city.

-- David M. Garramone, 3581 Mansions Parkway, Berkeley Lake

(Dear Dave: two things: Under the proposed "city lite," Peachtree Corners would not offer police services, so the routine patrols would remain as it is now. As for you wanting to be within the new city limits, depending on which map you look at, it appears to me that your subdivision is within the proposed boundaries of the map that was put out as the new limits, since the Bush Road area up to Berkeley Lake is shown to be within the new city. -eeb)

  • Send us your thoughts. Our policy: We encourage readers to submit feedback (or letters to the editor). Send your thoughts to the editor at We will edit for length and clarity. Make sure to include your name and the city where you live. Submission of a comment grants permission for us to reprint. Please keep your comments to 300 words or less. However, we will consider longer articles (no more than 500 words) for featuring in Today's Focus as space allows.

Gwinnett submits transportation projects to state DOT

Gwinnett County has submitted a list of potential transportation projects to the state transportation planning director and the Atlanta Regional Commission. These projects will be considered for inclusion in the metro Atlanta region's project list for the Transportation Investment Act of 2010.

Local governments were asked to submit potential projects for consideration in advance of a referendum for a 10-year, one percent regional transportation sales tax to be considered by voters in 2012. The submitted list will first be reviewed by the Georgia DOT Planning Director Todd Long, who will provide the Metro Atlanta Regional Roundtable with an unconstrained list for funding consideration. The project selection process for the referendum will include substantial public involvement and will continue throughout the summer and fall of this year.

Gwinnett County, the cities and four Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) worked together to create a comprehensive, combined list. Gwinnett County submitted projects from the Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP), which is part of the County's 2030 Unified Plan adopted in 2009. The cities and CIDs selected projects based on the CTP, corridor studies and other approved studies. Gwinnett County did not attempt to prioritize the list or constrain it financially.

Charlotte Nash, Gwinnett County chairman, says: "Through this collaborative effort, Gwinnett County, its cities and CIDs have compiled a broad range of transportation projects. I want to emphasize that the submission of the potential project list is the beginning of the selection process. The public will have multiple opportunities to affect the final project list and will ultimately determine if the slate of approved projects is worthy of a positive vote in the referendum."

The Metro Atlanta Regional Roundtable is made up of the 10 county commission chairs, a mayor from each of the 10 counties and the mayor of Atlanta. Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash and Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson represent Gwinnett County on the roundtable. Learn more.

Gwinnett Village CID to get Georgia GATEway Grant

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) recently awarded the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District (CID) with a $35,000 GATEway grant to aid in their revitalization efforts. This is the third consecutive year this competitive grant program chose Gwinnett Village CID. The grant will be used for landscaping enhancements at the intersection of Brook Hollow Parkway and Mitchell Road (along Interstate 85).

Chuck Warbington, executive director for Gwinnett Village CID, says: "These landscaping projects are improving more than just the overall aesthetic of Gwinnett Village. They help create an environment that is appealing to residents and businesses and enhances the sense of pride and security in the community."

Gwinnett Village CID will be using the grant to help fund a $70,000 aesthetic improvement project that will include landscaping along the east side of Brook Hollow Parkway (directly adjacent to I-85). The newly landscaped plot will serve as an extension of the previous beautification projects that the CID has undertaken, including the landscaping of the interchanges at Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Indian Trail Road and Beaver Ruin Road, and the recently completed Center Way overpass. The improvements on Brook Hollow Parkway will mirror those of the other projects to help create a sense of continuity throughout the Village.

College explores on April 13 just who shot Button Gwinnett

Who shot Button Gwinnett? History buffs will explore this question, as well as the colorful past and bright future of Gwinnett County at the 2011 Button Gwinnett Day, to be held at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC), April 13, from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the Student Center LVIS room.


Button Gwinnett Day evolved from the former Button Gwinnett Society, and is currently a periodic lecture event presented by the college.

Linda Hughes, assistant professor and chair of the college's Speaker Series Committee, says: "We are excited to host this Gwinnett County tradition at GGC. The program will be of interest to those familiar with the county's history, and those who want to get a good overview of our local heritage."

The county's past, present and future will be explored by Michael Gagnon, GGC assistant professor of history; Kelly Greer, publisher of Gwinnett Magazine; and Jose Perez, president of Target Market Trends and a member of the GGC Board of Trustees.


As part of the day's program, GGC's Barnes & Noble Bookstore will sponsor a session featuring local authors J.W. Brown and Rusty Brown. They will discuss Whole Lotta Shakin,' a memoir of years spent with what is described as "the most explosive story in rock music history," Jerry Lee Lewis. J.W. Brown knew him as cousin, son-in-law, fellow band member and legendary American music pioneer.

The event is free and open to the public. Parking will be identified by event signage. The Aurora Theater and the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center are participating in Button Gwinnett Day.

Mountain View High wins Northrop Grumman award

A team of students from Mountain View High School in Gwinnett County was awarded a Northrop Grumman scholarship in the Junior Engineering Technical Society's 2011 Tests of Engineering, Aptitude, Mathematics and Science competition recently hosted by the University of Georgia.

Teams from the Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology and Heritage High School joined the Mountain View High team in the academic competition that had the theme "Smart Energy. Clean Planet."

Three schools join in academic competition

The Northrop Grumman scholarship will fund TEAMS conference registration fees for Mountain View High. The Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company that provides innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

The event featured high school students, grades nine to 12, participating in teams of four to eight members, using real-world applications of math and science to solve some of today's greatest engineering challenges. There were two parts: a 90-minute, 80-multiple choice question session, and a 90-minute, open-ended, four-question session.

County mails incorrect commercial property assessments

The commercial property value assessment notices that were mailed on Friday, March 25, by the Gwinnett County Board of Tax Assessors should be disregarded. The notices were sent to the incorrect owner because of a production error. Corrected notices will be issued on April 6. The Board of Tax Assessors contracted with a private company to print and mail the 13,944 commercial property notices. "On behalf of Gwinnett County and the Board of Tax Assessors, I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this error may cause," said Steve Pruitt, Gwinnett County Tax Assessor.

The printing company will bear the entire cost of reprinting and mailing the notices of assessment to the correct property owners. Since the mailing date has shifted by more than a week, the last day to appeal commercial assessment values will be May 23. In addition to sending new notices of assessment next week, the printing company will mail postcards today to alert all commercial property owners about the processing error. "The County and the printing company recognizes the seriousness of this error, and they are working hard to make it right for all affected by the error," said Pruitt.

Have a review?

  • An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus what book you plan to read next. --eeb

Hawkinsville native embarks on art career late in life

Nell Choate Jones, a Georgia native, embarked on an artistic career when she was in her 40s, and she spent the rest of her long life painting, exhibiting, and sustaining an active involvement in the arts and in women's organizations.


She was born in Hawkinsville, in Pulaski County, on May 27, 1879. Nell was four when her father died, and the family then moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. Educated at Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn, Jones was a kindergarten and elementary school teacher in the New York public school system. Upon her retirement from teaching, and with the encouragement of her husband, the artist Eugene A. Jones, she established a second career as an artist.

Although she had left her native Georgia as a young child, Jones considered herself a Southerner, and she ultimately returned to the region of her birth for much of her artistic inspiration. Her approach to painting evolved from early impressionistic landscapes into an expressionistic, vividly colored, and simplified style that may be best described as American Scene painting of southern subjects.

In 1925 three of her paintings were exhibited in Atlanta at the annual exhibition of the Southern States Art League. In 1929 she was awarded the first of two scholarships to attend the Fontainebleau School of Art in France, and she later traveled to England for additional study.

In 1936 Jones returned to Hawkinsville for the burial of her sister, Coralie. After that she traveled to Georgia periodically, capturing the lush rural landscape and the leisure activities of African Americans, who were frequent subjects in her work.

Among the highlights of her career were the inclusion of her work at the 1939 New York World's Fair; her 1945 solo exhibition of Georgia scenes at Argent Galleries in New York, the headquarters of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors; and her exhibitions at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958, the National Academy of Design, and the New York Watercolor Society.

Jones, through philanthropic gestures, helped to bring American art to her home state. In 1941 she corresponded with Martha Berry, the founder of Berry College in Rome, concerning the donation of paintings by prominent American artists to start an art museum at the college. Jones made a personal donation of more than a dozen paintings the following year. In 1979 she donated nineteenth-century portraits of her parents to the Pulaski Historical Commission, the county historical society located in Hawkinsville.

Jones died in Brooklyn on April 15, 1981. Her ashes were placed in the Georgia clay of the Hawkinsville city cemetery.


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It's simply impossible to stop knowledge going forward

"It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge."

-- Physicist Enrico Fermi (1901 - 1954).




Meet the Author Kristin Hannah: 7:15 p.m., April 1 at Atlanta Marriott, Norcross (475 Technology Parkway). This kicks off her national book tour for her new novel, Night Road. The event is sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public Library. For more information, visit or call 770-978-5154.

Caboose Days: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 2-3, at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth. Activities included with free admission are caboose-themed arts and crafts, a caboose hunt, caboose facts and slide show. The museum is located at 3595 Buford Highway in Duluth. For more information visit the museum's Web site.

First Pitch: 7:05 p.m., April 7, Gwinnett Braves Stadium. Braves vs. Durham Bulls. Former Atlanta Braves Manager Bobby Cox will toss out the first pitch at the Class AAA Gwinnett Braves home opener. For more info, call at 678-277-0340, or go online.

Civil War Talk: 2:30 p.m., April 10, sponsored by Snellville Historical Society at Snellville City Hall. Author Barry Brown, author of Crossroads of Conflicts, will be the speaker.

Fifth Annual Plein Air Festival: April 15-16 at Tannery Row Artist Colony in Buford. Artists will begin painting on April 15 and 16. Judging will be April 16, and the show will be open to the public at 7 p.m. The artists' work will be available for purchase.

Gwinnett Technology Forum: 7:30 a.m., April 19, at Gwinnett Technical College’s Busbee Center. The focus will be display technology. Presenters include Rick Cope, CEO of NanoLumens and Clif Parker, CEO of Reach 3D.

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.

Flora and Fauna Art Exhibit: Kudzu Art Zone, Norcross, through 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.


6/14: Gwinnett, Polish credit unions

6/10: Immigration concerns global

6/7: Wally Odum Jr.

6/3: Gwinnett's redistricting

6/1: Tornado damages forests

5/27: Gwinnett will miss four

5/24: Briscoe Field and study

5/20: Classical evening model

5/17: The dogs of our family

5/13: OFS redevelopment

5/10: Berkeley Lake's lake

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


6/14: Sanders: Australia and business

6/10: Mechling: Dacula filmmakers

6/7: Pope: Road improvements

6/3: Ramey: New GGC alma mater

6/1: Chandler: Traveling with friends

5/27: Bolling: LanierWorld opens

5/24: Callina: For-profit school caution

5/20: Olson: Arts, Center join forces

5/17: Mabin: Reverse mortgages

5/13: Watson: Clean Air entries

5/10: Nelson: Change is good

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


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