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BEST OVERALL: The Lilburn Woman's Club (LWC) has been awarded "Best Overall" in the state of Georgia for their 2010 Education Community Service Program by the Georgia General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC). Some of their activities last year included working with local schools and libraries to fight illiteracy, teaching ESL classes, donation of books to local schools, promoting local authors at public venues, and awarding scholarships to local high school and college students. Present at the awards presentation at the Callaway Gardens convention were, from left, Mary Ruth Kimsey, Peggy Wilson, LWC President Gail Zarnik, Jackie Thornberry, Carlene Garner, who is the GFWC International president, and Sharon Carter, Georgia State president. (Photo by Pat Gabilondo.)
Issue 11.08 | Tuesday, April 26, 2011

:: More on Briscoe privatization

:: Hurrah for church's old name

::Postman misses friend, more

:: Aurora comedy, Take-back program

:: Walking regimen, Duluth


: : E.R. Snell Contractor Inc.

: : Send us a review

: : State Botanical Garden

: : Toast@TownCenter

: : No withholding taxes

: : Read past commentaries


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.


Timetable and facts on privatization of Briscoe Field

Special to GwinnettForum

(Editor's Note: Kellie Austin is a resident of Gwinnett and lives two miles from Briscoe Field.-eeb)

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,

The Commissioners 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.

Hog Mountain Baptist Church reverts to founding name
Editor and publisher

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.

E.R. Snell Contractor, Inc.

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring 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:

Postman misses his daily visits with 92-year-old Fred Johnson

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.

We would 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 year."

Fred had a Mark Twain-sort of personality as well as a physical resemblance. He relished telling a joke, good or bad. His joy came in the telling not the punch line. One day a group of Harley riding Viet Nam Veterans surprised him at his home to honor his WWII service around his 92nd birthday. He was out on his porch, and off the top of his head, did a twenty minute stand-up routine. He slayed them!

He enjoyed telling stories of his childhood in North Georgia, such as stories of his Mother's cooking and Father's team of mules hauling freight and of his wife of many years, Margaret, his son Tommy's success, and countless tales of his daughter and grand and great grand children. He was a family man through and through. He loved them and they all loved him. It was obvious.

It's been nearly six weeks since he passed. Everyday as I drive by his home while delivering my route, I fight the urge, like an old milk horse, to stop and say hello. On every occasion Fred would thank me for stopping and I would thank him for having me. I got far more out of our visits than he did.

Fred's passing left a hole in my heart. I miss him.

After each visit as I was leaving Fred would say "Glad you got to see me!"
You know... I was.

-- Jim White, Cobb County

Maintains there's no such animal as quiet jet airplane

Editor, the Forum:

I've been 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 side!!

There is NO SUCH THING as a quiet jet. The larger the airplane, the larger the noise footprint. I fly to commercial airports all over this world. Airports are placed, in most cases, AWAY from civilian populations. When they are close to the populations, there are all kinds of NOISE issues. Property values are adversely affected (add that to the list of why my house is not worth what it used to be).

I live in Berkeley Lake. It takes me all of 35 minutes to get to the airport on a nice day. It takes longer to park the car, check in, go through security and travel to your gate. You will not, in most cases, get to your final destination from a local commercial airport. If airlines can't come up with an 85 percent load factor on a daily basis, they are not going to invest the resources to schedule a daily flight to Chicago. You'll end up with a small little airplane that will only take you to a larger airport to take you to your final destination. And your cost for the extra flight will go up! YOUR TAXES will go to SUBSIDIZE the airports.

We need a better mass transit system. The Europeans travel all over their continent on trains. Trains are quite nice actually, not like the train from the Chicago airport to downtown where you can't hear yourself read the newspaper.

You see the walls in your house, that is, the gypsum board. You don't see the two by fours, wiring, plumbing…all the things that go into the room you parked your 60 inch TV. I see the infrastructure….and I haven't even addressed that nightmare.

-- David M. Garramone, Berkeley Lake

(Dear David: We appreciate your comments, and like to provide this forum for you. We hear the argument for more trains all the time, especially compared to Europe. But distances between countries in Europe are short, and with the USA a big country, trains are wonderful, and we would love to have more train travel, but it is problematic, compared to Europe. But of course, you know this. -eeb)

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.

-- Jim Nelems, Duluth

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?

-- Beth Thompson, Lawrenceville

Dear Beth: Thanks for turning to GwinnettForum to voice your views. That's the reason we are here, and though there are differing views on this question, we hope to help air the various points of views. --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.

Rollicking Italian-family comedy next for Aurora Theatre

Aurora 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.

Aurora Theatre has the pleasure of welcoming some of the region's most accomplished actors for this production. Eddie Levi Lee, Susan Shalhoub Larkin, Karen Howell and Barry Stoltze headline the cast. Youngsters in the cast include Jeremy Harrison and Nicole Dramis.

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.

Producing 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."

Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 - $30 and can be ordered by calling 678-226-6222 or through

Suwanee police again offer drug "Take Back" program April 30

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.

The Take 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.

Web-based walking regimen seeks better health for Americans

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,, 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

Between 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 contractor for this project will maintain the traffic control plan to insure safe travel through West Lawrenceville during this construction period. Georgia Development Partners was awarded the contract for $410,000.

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

Five miles of color-coded trails at State Botanical Garden

(From previous edition)

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.

A little bit more

TOAST@TOWN CENTER: The fourth Thursday of April through October, Suwanee holds the Toast @ Town Center, as merchants offer special deals, entertainment, and in-store events from 6-10 p.m. The first Toast @ Town Center event of 2011 will be held on Thursday, April 28. Patrons may purchase drinks at Town Center restaurants - coffee, sodas, beer, and wine - and take them from shop to shop and within the park. Downtown and Business Development Manager Alison Starnes says: "Merchants have really gotten into the Paint the Town Purple theme in a fun way. For example, one restaurant may serve up sandwiches on purple bread and a hair salon is putting on a streaking event - hair streaking, that is."


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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.

One arena where there are no withholding taxes

"Remember that there are no withholding taxes on the wages of sin."

-- Actress Mae West (1893-1980.)




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, 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.


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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