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Lillian Webb Park in Norcross was just one of the sites that was overflowing with people as an estimated 15,000+ people jammed the area to observe the July 3 fireworks. Similar scenes were reported from the holiday fireworks around the county. (Photo by Chuck Paul.)

Issue 11.29 | Friday, July 8, 2011

:: Gwinnett leading in job growth

:: Can we learn from history?

:: Roundabouts, plates, fees, more

:: Dancing, fundraiser

:: HCA's workplace, AT&T expands


:: Brand Banking Company

:: Mini ice cream treats

:: Mary Latimer McLendon

:: Passion and truth

:: 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.


Partnership Gwinnett helps lead Georgia in job growth
Economic Development Marketing Manager, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce
Special to GwinnettForum

DULUTH, Ga., July 8, 2011 -- Gwinnett Chamber's Economic Development program is about to enter into the second and strategic planning phase of this initiative, Partnership Gwinnett. With more than 200 relocations and expansion yielding over 10,000 jobs since the launch of the first phase in 2007, the overarching goal of the "Partnership Gwinnett 2.0" process is to take the tremendous success of the past five years to the next level. A crucial part of this process is a community survey, which gives an opportunity for the citizens of Gwinnett for their input on the future of community and economic development in the County.

The program is working. Announced recently was that Gwinnett County leads Georgia in employment growth, growing by 1.7 percent, the highest increase of any county in the state. This is also a rate that is almost double the national average of employment.

Partnership Gwinnett 2.0 is a new five-year holistic community and economic development strategic planning effort, being launched this summer in partnership with Market Street Services, a national community, economic, and workforce development consulting firm based in Atlanta. Through this effort, the Gwinnett Chamber Economic Development program seeks to garner implementation buy-in, unify local leaders, and motivate constituents with a blueprint that takes into account new economic realities. The survey will ask Gwinnettian's opinion on topics like business climate, education and workforce development, and quality of life that affect how Gwinnett County competes for companies and talent.


Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash says: "Residents and business owners in Gwinnett have an opportunity to participate in the Partnership Gwinnett community survey. This is a chance for folks across the county to share their thoughts and opinions about our community and its future."

Despite the official end of the recession, the United States, is still dealing with the challenges associated with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Local, regional, and national economies have changed radically in recent years as the "Great Recession" has significantly altered the competitive landscape for communities and their leadership.

The core purpose of the next phase is to ensure that Gwinnett continues to rebound from the recession quicker than other competing communities. Partnership Gwinnett 2.0 Co-Chair Randy Dellinger, Gwinnett district manager at Jackson EMC, says: "The success of the second phase of Partnership Gwinnett's economic development strategy is purposefully based on input from the community. The effectiveness of the effort is contingent upon the participation of Gwinnettians."

Another community leader, Renee Byrd-Lewis of Cisco, who is the Partnership Gwinnett co-chair, says: "We are passionate about creating and implementing an effective strategy that will continue to make Gwinnett County a leader in Metro Atlanta. This next phase will keep the strength and momentum of the initial Partnership Gwinnett plan while expanding the vision for continued positive community impact."

Nick Masino, vice president for Economic Development and Partnership Gwinnett with the Gwinnett Chamber, says: "Now entering the fifth year of the initial Partnership Gwinnett implementation process, we have made solid and measurable progress on a wide range of goals. Despite the Recession, Gwinnett has, for the past 12 months and well beyond, had the lowest jobless rate in the core Metro Atlanta counties. This is not by accident- it is through the partnership of dedicated individuals from the public and private sectors working in sync to generate results."

For additional information, questions or comments, interested persons may contact: Mark Farmer at Gwinnett Chamber Economic Development or Alex Pearlstein at Market Street Services.

We should be concerned about safety of nuclear power plants
Editor and publisher

"The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it." -- Frank Herbert

JULY 8, 2011 -- Do we learn from history? History maintains we seldom do.


Among our many concerns these days, there is an older concern fighting its way into our minds. It's that old nemesis, nuclear generation of electric power.

Questioned 40 years ago, the concept was adopted as the "modern" (and supposedly safe) way to generate power. Promoted by nations with limited power resources, it was the darling of electrical generation, and was said to be the future of the electrical generation industry.

Then Chernobyl.

And now a tsunami in Japan has suddenly re-opened the question of the safety of nuclear generation of power. The Japanese are alarmed. An energy-deficient nation, it has turned hungrily to nuclear power. Some 28 percent of Japan's electrical generation is nuclear generated. (See this link for the selected nation's nuclear generation capacity.)

Another nation concerned about nuclear energy after the Japanese catastrophe is an industrial powerhouse: Germany. A country that had been generating 29 percent of its electrical grid from nuclear energy, the German lower house voted to shut down the last of 17 nuclear power plants, the entire nuclear capacity nuclear power, by 2022. The next step expected is for the 16 federal states in the upper house to ratify this action. If the cautious and exacting German engineers are alarmed, as much of the Japanese community is now about the safety of nuclear plants, should not the rest of the world be concerned?

In the United States, we get about 20 percent of our energy from nuclear power. (Two such plants are in Georgia, plus a third was licensed to be built recently.)

The Edwin I. Hatch nuclear facility near Baxley.

So, what's the long-term possibility for nuclear?

Then there's another somewhat scary nuclear topic. The United States has 104 reactors for nuclear generation of power. Some 66 have recently been re-licensed for 20 more years.

The scary part: the original reactors in the United States were designed and licensed to operate for 40 years. But in reality, what is the safe operating life for these potentially deadly reactors? How long can these plants continue to generate electricity safely?

Instead of asking that question, perhaps the first question is to restate what was asked years ago: is nuclear generation of power safe? What about plants that sit near earthquake fault lines? What about plants, like the recent one in Japan, which are on the coast? Should we be concerned about other plant locations?

Look at it another way. Does the United States (and the entire world) want to question nuclear generation with a fresh look today? Since many nuclear plants are coming up for re-licensing, it is more reasonable to allow them to continue for a shorter period, say 10 years, and require for their replacement other means of powering these plants, such as natural gas, or even the abundant coal? (There you go, you might say, raising new environmental concerns for coal pollution. But with nuclear, you have the environmental problem of the spent rod cores!)

Consider this: with the United States in economic doldrums, how about scuttling all nuclear plants within the next 20 years, and use this period to help jump-start the economy by building coal, oil or gas-fired plants all across our nation? That would put a lot of people back to work. The funding would be private, from the power companies, and it would help remove the safety question of nuclear generation.

Some day the world may look upon the Japanese nuclear disaster as a wake-up call to help re-focus the on the overall question of long-term nuclear safety.

It's time now to raise these questions.

Brand Banking Company

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Brand Banking Company, headquartered in Lawrenceville, where it has three offices, with additional branches in Snellville, Grayson and Flowery Branch. It is the largest privately held bank in Gwinnett, with assets of $1,300,000,000. The bank's main office is in Lawrenceville on the Historic Courthouse Square, plus there is another branch on Hurricane Shoals Road. Other locations are in Grayson, Snellville, Flowery Branch, Buford, Duluth and Buckhead. Member, FDIC and Federal Reserve System. For more information, go to

Roundabouts save money, are safer and keep traffic flowing

Editor, the Forum:

There was a pretty topical article on roundabouts here. I've extracted some key points below.

Come on Berkeley Lake, it will be embarrassing to remove the round-about and less-so to put the yield signs back! Are you leaders or followers or do you just run a way?

Here are some key points:

  • The long-term financial saving is about £150,000 ($250,000), he says, due to reduced maintenance costs, and there are also fuel savings.

  • Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests there is on average a 40 percent decrease in all accidents and a 90 percent drop in fatal ones when a traffic intersection is replaced by a roundabout.

  • Besides cars that aren't idling at traffic lights, but starting from a dead stop takes up more fuel also. So we are saving thousands of gallons of fuel per roundabout per year.

  • There was skepticism at first, but public education is critical when roundabouts are installed. Newsletter and video campaigns to educate people about the safety and environmental advantages are necessary.

  • Police say there are accidents at roundabouts, often caused by confusion or unfamiliarity. However, they are much fewer and less serious than at a traffic light.

One guy is quoted as saying: "I think they're awesome. They keep the traffic flowing, you don't have to stop, you save gas, and there are less accidents."

-- Francis Carden, Berkeley Lake

Questions how state is selecting license plate design

Editor, the Forum:

I can't help but comment that Georgia's "poll' to select the new Georgia license tag is "fatally flawed" in that it allows for three choices of "In God We Trust." That means that anyone who wants the "In God We Trust" phrase can vote for one of three with that line. In effect, this 'splits' the vote among three similar choices, reducing the chance that a tag with "In God We Trust" will be the winner.

Assume, for example, that 60 percent want a tag with "In God We Trust," and that the design per se does not make any difference, so that 20 percent choose one of them with that line, 20 percent the second and 20 percent the third, and thus losing to another design with 30 percent of the vote. However had "In God We Trust" only been one choice, all 60 percent would have gone to that one which would have been declared the winner.

It appears that the state is trying to measure two things with one question: first, the design of the tag and second, the phrase "In God We Trust." The right way to do this would have been to split the questions: first vote on the design and then vote on whether "In God We Trust" should be on whatever winning design is chosen.

This is similarly to what we see in politics, many times. Two candidates hold the same views so they split the vote, and both lose to the candidate who would have otherwise lost.

-- Jim Nelems, Duluth

Dear Jim: You raise an interesting academic point, but it may not matter a bit. After all, this is a "straw vote," meaning nothing, and the top choice will go to the governor for his decision. So, we seem to really have is "In Deal We Trust." --eeb

Arguments for rail transportation do not sway this guy

Editor, the Forum:

As a concerned citizen I would like to plant some doubt regarding the metro area T-SPLOST movement and help enlighten the populace to this albatross.

I attended the Metro Atlanta Northern Crescent Transit Summit with an open mind to understand the proposed value of a metro rail system. To my understanding I could find no rational reasons to remove from the citizenry billions of dollars one penny at a time with the T-SPLOST for any type of rail system. It sounds inexpensive when you propose a penny tax. Depending on who you speak with that tax ends up accumulating $6 to $16 billion. Take in account we are in the worst recession/depression since The Great Depression makes it an even worse choice.

The price of laying tracks ranges anywhere from $30-$70 million per mile (not counting the inevitable cost overruns). The problem I find with the whole program is after spending these billions of taxpayer dollars, only two percent of the population is expected to ride. That means the other 98 percent will subsidize the ride for only two percent of the population.

If we take MARTA as an example, yearly maintenance costs run into hundreds of millions of dollars in upkeep. This T-SPLOST appears to be the gift that keeps on taking because the taxpayer will be on the hook for upkeep and maintenance each and every year. Not one rail system in the world is self sustaining. Each and every one must have a steady flow of taxpayer (non-rider) dollars because ridership will only, if lucky, generate 20 percent of yearly maintenance revenue.

In Gwinnett we have a very inefficient and ineffective bus transportation system. Many buses travel from stop to stop with one or two on board with that one sometimes being the driver. Until each county can figure out how to manage a bus system (also subsidized) effectively and not a burden to the taxpayer, l do not believe for one moment we should engage anything else.

-- Steve Ramey, Lilburn

Dear Steve: Your comments remind me that bus systems, heavy rail, light rail, etc., may not be the answer. But each is part of the answer. And when you talk about rail not being "self-sustaining," think of the monies we put into the highway system….and it doesn't "pay for itself." For Metro Atlanta to be a real world-class city, we need alternate means of getting around the area.--eeb

Wants review of county garbage collection fees

Editor, the Forum:

I'd like to make a couple of observations about the trash collection in Gwinnett:

Three trucks still come into our subdivision on two different days each week. Cost reduction has not been achieved. The first year's fee billed on property tax was the same we paid directly to the trash removal company. The county stated they will review the cost after the first year to determine future billing.

-- Jayne P. Bane, Bankston Creek Estates in Lawrenceville

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Aurora, Trackside team to offer ballroom dancing programs

Aurora Theatre has teamed up with events facility 550 Trackside and Gwinnett's All About Ballroom to create a new series, Aurora Dance Nights. Top rated TV shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance are inspiring folks to get off of the couch and hop onto the dance floor.

Take a trip down memory lane for retro fun as this new series kicks off July 16 with a 50s Sock Hop. Live music is provided by The Carwoods, a hip trio bringing the spirit of rock and roll into today.

Each dance night will feature lessons with expert Kathy Casper and All About Ballroom. Aurora Dance Nights will be held at 550 Trackside, at 550 North Clayton Street across from the former Lawrenceville train depot. This event facility contains granite walls, archways and original wood, all restored to their natural beauty.

Guests can purchase fresh crepes from American Crepe and there will be a selection of beer, wine and other soft drinks. Parking is FREE.

Upcoming Aurora Dance Nights include a Salsa Night, featuring Havana Son on September 22; a Big Band Night, featuring the Metro Jazz Club on January 28 and a Prom on April 27.

Admission at 550 Trackside is $18 for the July 16 event, which starts at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available through the Aurora Theatre Box Office at 678-226-6222 or by internet at

Duluth league plans "Evening in the Tropics" fundraiser

Experience a memorable and exotic "Evening in the Tropics" as you stroll through the artwork on display in the Duluth Art Gallery in downtown Duluth.

This third annual event is sponsored by The Duluth Fine Arts League and will be held on Saturday, July 16 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be hors d'oeuvres by Proof of the Pudding, wine, a silent auction and tropical live music featuring a steel drum musician. The dress for the evening is "tropical casual."

The Duluth Art Gallery is located at 3530 West Lawrenceville Street in Downtown Duluth. Parking is free and is located at the corner of Georgia Highway 120 (Abbott's Bridge Road) and Hill Street. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Proceeds from the event go toward several scholarships for students at Duluth High School who plan to major in the arts. Call The Duluth Art Gallery at 678-957-1942 or 770-605-6600 for more information or tickets.

The Duluth Fine Arts League is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created to promote and expand the love of the arts in Duluth.

HCA's IT professionals rate high in "Best Places to Work"

For the third consecutive years, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the parent company of Eastside Medical Center of Snellville, announces that the company has earned national recognition as one of the best workplaces in the United State for information technology professionals. The company ranked No. 32 on Computerworld's 2011 "Best Places to Work in IT" list of 100 companies, moving up from its 2010 rank as No. 42.

HCA's Information Technology and Services department (IT&S) employs more than 3,000 employees across the U.S. and includes four data centers and 14 division support centers responsible for delivering IT services to HCA, as well as more than 80 non-HCA facilities. IT&S is fully engaged in the design and implementation of hCare, the company's new electronic health record, and several other large scale technology projects.

David Cornelius, IT&S Director at Eastside Medical Center, says: "The IT&S team we have assembled here at Eastside are a dedicated group of professionals, years of service to HCA totaling more than 119 years. The longevity of the staff is just one more indicator of a superior workplace."

AT&T expanding new mobile broadband site in Lawrenceville

As part of its continuing network investment to support growing demand for mobile devices and services, AT&T has announced the activation of a new cell site in Lawrenceville that is expected to enhance network coverage for area residents and businesses.

The new cell site is one part of AT&T's ongoing efforts to drive innovation and extend its mobile network. It is also to build the networks that will fuel economic growth and create jobs, and enable AT&T's customers to quickly access the content, applications and services that matter most to them.

Delores Crowell, regional director of external affairs, AT&T Georgia, says: "Supporting mobile broadband growth is our No. 1 investment priority."

Keith Holmes, vice president and general manager of Georgia, adds: "We're working to make this possible by investing in new wireless coverage in Lawrenceville."

AT&T's mobile network is based on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) standard, the most open and widely used wireless network platforms in the world. AT&T offers data roaming in 200 countries, as well as voice calling in more than 220 countries.

For more information about AT&T's coverage in Lawrenceville or anywhere in the United States, consumers can visit an AT&T Coverage Viewer. The online tool can measure the quality of coverage based on a street address, intersection, ZIP code or even a landmark.

Mini ice cream cones from Trader Joe's

Great size for your smaller grandchildren. "Hold the Cone!" frozen mini vanilla ice cream treats from Trader Joe's. The cone has a chocolate coating and comes eight to the box. Trader Joe's found this product in Germany, and now stocks it for Americans. Unlike the grown-up cousin of a chocolate-covered cone, this treat has no nuts sprinkled on top, which is probably better for small children. Quite tasty. For adults, the box asks: "Think you can eat just one?" -- eeb

  • 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

McLendon was leader for Prohibition, Women's Suffrage

Mary Latimer McLendon, along with her older sister Rebecca Latimer Felton, was a leader in the prohibition and woman suffrage movements in Georgia. She is perhaps best known for her long tenure as president of the Georgia Women's Suffrage Association (GWSA). After her death in 1921, the GWSA and Georgia Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) placed a marble fountain bearing her likeness in the state capitol; the inscription recognizes her as the "Mother of Suffrage in Georgia."

Mary Latimer was born in DeKalb County in 1840, the daughter of Eleanor Swift and Charles Latimer. A graduate of the Southern Masonic Female College in Covington, she married Nicholas A. McLendon in 1860 and moved to Atlanta. When Union troops ordered Atlanta evacuated during the Civil War, she and her family moved to Crawfordville, returning to Atlanta in 1868.

By the 1880s Mary McLendon had founded one of the Georgia WCTU's most active chapters, the Francis Willard chapter in Atlanta. McLendon also served the state WCTU in numerous capacities. She headed an effort to secure passage of a state law mandating school instruction about the debilitating effects of alcohol use; for 20 years she coordinated annual public speaking competitions for students. A lifelong Methodist, she was outraged when Georgia Methodist leaders forbade the WCTU to meet in their churches because the national WCTU supported woman suffrage. McLendon, in fact, unsuccessfully lobbied Georgia WCTU members to endorse the vote for women.

Despite being rebuffed on the suffrage issue, McLendon remained a mainstay in the organization, rejoicing in 1907 when the legislature approved a state prohibition amendment. In 1918 the Georgia legislature endorsed federal prohibition, ratifying the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In 1894 Mary McLendon founded the Atlanta chapter of the GWSA, the second local woman suffrage organization to be established in the state. By 1896 she was president of the state organization, serving in that capacity until 1899 and then from 1906 until her death in 1921. McLendon believed that women would use their votes to pass a comprehensive reform program, including abolishing child labor, raising the age of consent for girls, instituting compulsory school attendance, and hiring female guards for the state's female prisoners.

Though often opposed to the tactics of rival suffrage organizations in the state, McLendon led the GWSA to join with them to sponsor parades and distribute leaflets on behalf of the cause. Beginning in 1913, she wrote a series of newspaper columns in support of woman suffrage and other reforms. After years of GWSA campaigning, Atlanta permitted municipal woman suffrage in 1919. In that same year the U.S. Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which, despite the Georgia legislature's opposition, was ratified in August 1920. State authorities, however, refused to let women vote in the November elections because they had not registered by the spring deadline. McLendon spent the last year of her life working to ensure that the state of Georgia recognized women's right to vote.

Mary McLendon died November 20, 1921, survived by a daughter, Nellie Henderson, and a grandson.


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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.

The passion of defenders often dampens the truth

"Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders than from the arguments of its opposers."

-- Quaker philanthropist and founder of Pennsylvania William Penn (1644-1718).




Brown Bag Concert: 10 a.m., July 8, Gwinnett Historic Courthouse. Scott Douglas Steel Drums on the Historic Courthouse lawn, crazy hair, face painting, bounce house. There is no admission fee.

Book Signing: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., July 9, Norcross Welcome Center. Billie Van Dyke, owner of the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle, will be signing copies of her cookbook, "The Bible of Southern Cooking." She will also answer culinary questions and share samples of her desserts.

Bark at the Park: 10 a.m., July 13, Rabbit Hill Park, Dacula. Spend the day with your pooch, meet the park staff and enter drawing for prizes (no admission fee.)

Brown Bag Lunch in Duluth's Town Green Park: Noon to 1 p.m. on July 14 and July 28. Among entertainers will be Puppeteer Peter Hart, Magic Debbie, Juggler Ron Anglin and Solo performer Craver, presenting an upbeat party rock concert. For more information call 678-475-3512.

Therapeutic Recreation: 6:30 p.m., July 15, Dacula Park Activity Building, Dacula. This is a specialized and inclusive program for those with special needs. Ages 6-up. Cost is $6 ($8 for non-residents of Gwinnett.)

(NEW) Gwinnett Technology Forum: 7:30 a.m., July 19, at Busbee Auditorium of Gwinnett Technical College. Tino Mantella, president and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) will discuss the importance of technology to Georgia's economy and job outlook based on results of the 2011 TAG State of the Industry: Technology in Georgia Report. More.

National Hot Dog Day: 10 a.m., July 23, 10 a.m., Bay Creek Park, Grayson. Bounce House, vendors, games, face painting/tattoos and food vendors (no admission fee.)

Intercamp Games: 10 a.m., July 28, Bogan Park, Buford. Competition between all the Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation summer campers.

Splash and Bash: 1 p.m., July 30, Rhodes Jordan Park Pool. Enjoy wacky games, prizes and cool treats. Regular admission fees apply


9/6: Summerour excels

9/2: College football reform

8/30: Meeting a Gwinnett

8/26: Watching power corrupt

8/23: Buford gets new newspaper

8/19: World needs big ideas

8/16: Redistricting out of our hands

8/12: Not much to trigger riots, market

8/9: Commission should stop dawdling

8/5: Peach Pass free for 300,000

8/2: 3 sales tax votes ahead

7/29: Pass will provide faster ride

7/26: Watch Murdoch's empire

7/22: Channel Islands cool

7/19: Traveling in Britain in lots of ways

7/15: Keep alert to drivers

7/12: Gem Shopping Network

7/8: Careful on nuke plants

7/5: The airport wars

7/1: County, Buford's garbage fee

EEB index of columns


9/6: Olson: Bunnen exhibit

9/2: Povah: Underground lines

8/30: Anders: Restaurant Week

8/26: Nelson: Duluth Ice Forum

8/23: Rausch: Big Internet idea

8/19: Morris: Duluth dealer reopens

8/16: Keane: Tuggle wins honor

8/12: Pritchard: Savannah places

8/9: Dodd: Privatize Briscoe

8/5: Urrutia: GwTech's nursing program

8/2: Ramey: GGC's 1st athletic director

7/29: Britt: Snellville tourism, trade

7/26: White: Duluth actress stars

7/22: Hanson: Old No. 750 locomotive

7/19: Foreman: Gwinnett architect wins

7/15: DeWilde: Suwanee art voting

7/12: Callini: Home burglaries

7/8: Saputo: Gwinnett job growth

7/5: Bland: Nicaraguan mural

7/1: Tyler: View from Afghanistan



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