LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., April 26, 2011 -- Privatization of Briscoe Field (Gwinnett County Airport) has been a local topic for over a year. However, facts have been less readily available. The following is meant as a brief review of the current situation and the potential.
What is privatization? Congress established the FAA Airport Privatization Pilot Program to allow access to new sources of private capital for airport improvement and development. The program allows for only five privatized airports nationwide. Currently, Gwinnett's Briscoe Field is one of four accepted applications. A private company researched regional airports across America and selected Briscoe as ideal for this project.
Why privatize? Can't the county run the airport and generate money? Under Federal law, no government-owned airport which has accepted Federal dollars can use any revenue generated from the airport for non-airport use. With privatization, the county could collect commercial property tax for the airport. All taxes, lease revenue and other income paid to the county could be spent on the general budget or other expenses, as determined by the commission.
A private, self-funded company that has the investment dollars to update and transform Briscoe Field into a world-class facility would provide the foundation to move forward. With the addition of passenger service the airport would become an economic development engine for Gwinnett.
Economic impact: Airports have real financial impact. Look at a recent example: Northwest Florida Beaches Airport, where commercial service was recently added. The result has been of significant benefit locally. Panama City was recently ranked No. 1 for economic growth based on its "economic initiatives," including the new airport.
What is the current status of the privatization process? On May 26, 2010, the FAA approved the preliminary application by the Gwinnett commissioners to privatize Briscoe Field. On August 16, the commissioners received three responses to their Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a private company to assume responsibility of Briscoe Field. The next step is for the commission to release the Request for Proposal (RFP).
Until the RFP is released, the community does not know what the county will request, and the county does not know what a private company is willing and able to provide. One of the three responding companies, Propeller Investments, has created a website with some project details, www.whyprivatizebriscoe.com.
have chosen to have a public forum on Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m., before
releasing the RFP. Traditionally, public forums are only held after proposals
are received to allow for discussion on the facts of the proposals. The
commission vote to release the RFP has been set for the next BOC meeting
on May 3.
APRIL 26, 2011 -- On Friday we wrote: "Given enough time, people will usually do the right thing. The problem often is that there is not enough time given to always make the right decision. Having more time to deliberate over matters, and realizing that many of the so-called "facts" that are often presented amount to little less than trash, helps immensely."
Now we find this applies to another key local matter.
You may remember that back in 2006 the Hog Mountain Baptist Church voted to change its name to the Hamilton Mill Baptist Church. Well, no more.
At a meeting on April 17, the church membership reverted to its original name of Hog Mountain Baptist Church. Only two members of the meeting voted against the change.
Pastor Scott Tanner, who has been the minister of the church since 2007, was pleased with the decision. He told the Forum: "When I became pastor here, I had no intention of addressing that issue. But over a period of time, the Lord dealt with my heart, and when we put it before the church, they voted to go back to the original name."
He adds: "The motivation is not to please people, but to do what the Lord wants."
The Hog Mountain church has quite a heritage, which few churches in Gwinnett can claim. It is among the oldest churches in Gwinnett, organized in 1854. Winford Gower, one of the deacons and clerk of the church, says that "we have the original minutes book, and all of the minutes since then." That in itself is a historical treasure, which many older churches do not have.
When the church voted to change its name, it had a sign with its new name. The sign with the original name was rotten and falling apart, and was taken down. Pastor Tanner says that the name will be changed on the existing sign within a week or so. "We're just going to paint over the former name."
Hog Mountain Baptist church has about 150 members, and like many churches, carries some inactive names on its rolls. There is an attendance of between 50-70 at its regular services. One of its slogans is that it is "A church like no other."
The Rev. Tanner and his wife and two sons live in Flowery Branch. He is bi-vocational, with him working with the Hall County Board of Education as a food service technician. He was previously the assistant pastor of the Murrayville Baptist Church in Hall County. The Hog Mountain pulpit is his first full pastorate.
Mr. Gower, who with Scott Twiggs, is a deacon at the church, is retired after 19 years from Gwinnett County government, where he was director of the Department of Administrative Services.
The Hog Mountain congregation has remained in its original structure for 100 years. Then came the addition of "Sunday Schools rooms in 1954, and then bathrooms after that, I believe," says Gower. A small fellowship hall was added at the end of the Sunday School rooms about 1970. Since then a separate building, a new Fellowship Hall, was built in 1997. But the congregation still meets in the original structure. That's quite a distinction in Gwinnett County.
Hog Mountain Baptist Church took the time .to make the right decision.
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is E.R. Snell Contractor, Inc. of Snellville. Founded in the 1920s, ERS was built on Christian beliefs with honesty and integrity leading the way. Specializing in roads, bridges and culverts, its goal is to build a safe and modern highway system while preserving our natural environment. Through quality production and high safety standards, it strives to be the best contractor possible, while continuing to be a positive influence on its employees and the community. Internet access is available at sponsors of this forum, go to: www.ersnell.com.
Editor, the Forum:
My good friend, Fred Johnson of Norcross, died on March 4 of this year, just 26 days before his 93rd birthday. He always said he was "shootin' for a 100." It's sad to say he didn't make it. It is our loss.
I was Fred's' mailman for the last 10 years. I would take my afternoon break with him almost everyday. It became a high point of my day.
speak on a ton of topics; his World War II escapades in Alaska; his days
playing drums with numerous bands; his travels; work; gardening advice;
coin collecting; and sports. Fred loved the Braves, and was huge fan.
(Myself, I'm a Phillies fan, and would kid Fred about the Braves' recent
futility.) He would simply smile, spit his tobacco into the blue plastic
cup he kept beside his chair, grin, and say "There's always next
Maintains there's no such animal as quiet jet airplane
Editor, the Forum:
a commercial pilot for more than half my life. There is a reason why I
chose to live on the north side of Atlanta - the airport is on the south
Compelling video could be made for opposing airport, too
Editor, the Forum:
Without taking a stand on whether or not Briscoe Field should be privatized, with all due respect, the "Fly Gwinnett Forward" video promoting such privatizing is simply what those who favor it, think. No doubt those opposed could put together an equally compelling argument for their side of the issue.
Lawrenceville resident doesn't want reduced quality of life
Editor, the Forum:
Your recent editorial stated that most of the opposition to the airport expansion is coming from the Lawrenceville and Dacula areas. Aren't these the two areas most affected? For these residents, the business impact of an expanded airport is less important than the quality of life impact.
As a resident of Lawrenceville, I hear three or four small jet aircraft take off over my house daily. How many flights of large commercial aircraft would go over my house from the expanded airport?
My concern and that of all of my neighbors is that the increase in air traffic would dramatically lower the quality of life for residents near the airport. The value of our homes would be even less than in the current economy or impossible to sell because of the proximity to the airport.
What I hear the supporters of the airport saying is that I should be willing to sacrifice my quality of life and my home equity for the greater good of those who live in Norcross or Duluth or Mountain Park. Those of us who live in Lawrenceville or Dacula don't want to see either become the next East Point. I have not heard convincing evidence that won't happen.
The Gwinnett business community always tries to convince us that anything that brings in more money is a good idea. I think it's time we looked at something other than the bottom line. Instead of writing the airport opposition off as people who don't understand the importance of this issue, realize we are the very people who do understand. We will have to live with this decision every day, not just when we want to take a convenient flight. I wonder how many of those supporting the expanded airport would do so if their neighborhoods were at the end of the runway?
Theatre will end its 15th Anniversary season with Over the River and
Through the Woods by Tony Award-Winner Joe DiPietro running from May
12 until June 5. Aurora Theatre gives patrons a chance to start their
summer with a side-splitting comedy. In the heart of an Italian-American
neighborhood in Hoboken, N.J., Sunday dinner at the Gianelli's house is
not to be missed. Nick is the only grandson, so when he is offered a promotion
that will take him to the west coast, the family goes into panic mode
and no amount of cooking can solve the problem. In this heartfelt comedy
about growing old, one generation struggles to understand another.
Playwright Joe DiPietro is one of the most successful contemporary American librettists having received the Tony Award in 2010 for his work on the Broadway musical Memphis. His play The Thing About Men was also presented at Horizon Theatre in 2006.
Artistic Director, Anthony Rodriguez says: "I saw Over the River
and Through the Woods in 2001. It amazed me how poignant and funny
the relationship is between young adults and grandparents. I know this
comedy will resonate with our audience as well."
To help prevent prescription drug abuse, the Suwanee Police Department is again participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration's "Take Back" event. The Suwanee Police Department and law enforcement agencies across the country will accept - no questions asked - expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 30. Note that because of storage and disposal issues, this is the only timeframe during which the police department can accept prescription drugs.
During the inaugural program last September, Americans turned in 121 tons of prescription drugs at 4,100 sites. More than 20 pounds was collected in Suwanee.
Back campaign allows residents to dispose of prescription and over-the-counter
medications in a safe, legal, and environmentally sound manner. Flushing
prescriptions and other medications down the toilet or throwing them away
in the trash pose potential safety and health hazards.
Starting a walking regimen of 30 minutes a day, five days a week is a step toward better health. That simple, take-charge message is at the center of Every Body Walk!, Kaiser Permanente's new public awareness campaign to spark a national conversation about the health benefits of walking.
More than 70 percent of all adult Americans lead sedentary lifestyles, and it is impacting our physical and financial health. In the United States, an estimated 80 percent of the $2.5 trillion dollars spent annually on medical care is for the treatment of chronic diseases that can be prevented or treated by regular physical activity, such as walking.
Every Body Walk! is an online educational campaign aimed to get Americans moving. The walking hub, www.everybodywalk.org, provides news and resources on walking, health information, walking maps, lists of existing walking groups, a personal pledge form to start walking, as well as a place to share stories about individual experiences with walking.
The centerpiece of the Web site is a series of video vignettes featuring everyday Americans sharing motivational stories about how walking has changed their lives. The videos are intended to be shared with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and anybody else interested in improving their health and feeling better. New videos will be added to the site each week, and the project will culminate with a 30-minute documentary on the health benefits of walking, which will also be accessible online.
Duluth's West Lawrenceville Street is new streetscape project
April 21 and June 30 construction will be underway along West Lawrenceville
Street in the City of Duluth. This streetscape project, funded through
the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), includes
new five foot wide sidewalks on the north side of the street, new five
foot wide sidewalks on the south side of the street, and resurfacing and
restriping of the asphalt roadway.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens has five miles of color-coded nature trails extend into the far reaches of the garden. The longest is the White Trail, which parallels the Middle Oconee River for several hundred yards and extends into the upland plateau areas of hardwood forest. The Red, Green, Blue, Purple, and Yellow Trails are shorter, interconnecting segments. The Orange Trail traverses the eastern section of the garden. It also parallels the river for several hundred yards.
The Callaway Building, constructed in 1975 with funds provided by the Callaway Foundation of LaGrange, serves as administrative headquarters for the garden. In addition to a library, laboratories, and offices, the building contains an auditorium, reception area, and conference and meeting facilities.
The Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center and Conservatory was completed in 1984 and serves as a stunning focal point for the garden. The building contains offices, classrooms, a gift shop, the Garden Room Cafe, and a 10,000-square-foot conservatory featuring tropical plants of economic interest. Changing art exhibitions featuring botanical and horticultural themes are on display in the foyer. The Day Chapel, completed in 1994, was the third major building constructed at the State Botanical Garden. Funding was provided by the family of Cecil B. Day Sr. in his memory. Modern in design, the chapel contains an eclectic combination of styles and details. Abundant doors and windows provide views into the surrounding hardwood forest.
The Garden Club of Georgia State Headquarters was completed in 1998, at which time the club moved its headquarters from the Founders Garden on the University of Georgia campus to the State Botanical Garden. The building, located on a high knoll between the Day Chapel and Visitor Center, is a house museum containing exceptional furnishings and decorative arts.
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"Remember that there are no withholding taxes on the wages of sin."
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Gwinnett Golden Games: Continuing through May 20. For a list of the places and times, click here.
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 www.kudzuartzone.org, or telephone 770-945-4896.
(NEW) Recycling Day for Gwinnett for articles not collected curbside: April 30, Lowes, 3260 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, Suwanee. The event is free, and items will be collected, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and household batteries. The event is sponsored by Gwinnett County Solid Waste Division, in partnership with Lowes, Advanced Disposal and Sanitation Solutions. For more information, click here.
Health Forum: 7:30 a.m., May 6, at Gwinnett Technical College's Busbee Center. The subject will be "Stroke: Every Second Counts." Presented by Gwinnett Medical Center and Partnership Gwinnett. The program will highlight signs and symptoms of a stroke, risk factors, treatment and rehabilitation. There is no cost. Registration.
Gardening Workshop: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 7 at Mary Kistner Nature Center, 2689 Lenora Road, Snellville. Master Gardener Shannon Pable of Buford will conduct a workshop on translating garden design concepts to a workable plan. Lunch will be served. More.
Spring Festival, Historic Buford: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 14, on East Main Street. (Rain date is May 21.) Highlight of the day will be a barbecue cook-off, with all contestants preparing pulled pork barbecue for tastings.
State of County Address: 11:30 a.m., May 18, Gwinnett Civic Center Ballroom. Hear Charlotte Nash, newly-elected chair of the Gwinnett Commission, give her views on where the county stands and her outlook for the balance of the year. Hosted by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Quality Growth. To register, contact Rachel Jeffers at 770-232-8816.
© 2001-2011, Gwinnett Forum.com is Gwinnett County's online community forum for commentary that explores pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.