ATLANTA, Ga., Aug. 9, 2011 -- For years, Georgia has been trying to site an airport to supplement Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the busiest passenger airport in the world. Suggestions have been all over the map, from Dawsonville to Macon to Chattanooga. Now a plan to make a Gwinnett County airport a regional relief valve - by privatizing it - finally holds promise.
The 600-acre Briscoe Field handled 83,458 aircraft operations and served as a base for 236 aircraft in the most recent 12-month reporting period ending March 2009. Its 2010 total economic impact was about $79 million, with $47 million in direct impact.
The FAA gave preliminary approval to Briscoe's application in May 2010 and the Gwinnett County Commission is expected to announce a request for proposals soon. Qualified private investors must deal with local political power struggles and neighbors' concerns, win support of airport carriers and cope with the fallout of the economic downturn.
In Briscoe Field, Gwinnett County faces a promising opportunity and the potential to become home to a secondary commercial airport, an origination-to-destination airport. At Hartsfield-Jackson, more than 75 percent of passengers are taking connecting flights, just "passing through" the airport.
Opponents cite the downside of Briscoe's privatization as increased traffic congestion, more flights and noise, all of which they say would hurt property values nearby. But a recent study found that no homes would be affected by noise from additional flights.
Proponents see the privatization and scheduled service approach as an enormous economic boost for Gwinnett and the region, and evidence from across the nation indicates they are correct. Privatization will take the cost of operating the airport off taxpayer books and create a positive revenue stream for Gwinnett County, whose shrinking tax digest shows no signs of improving soon. While Gwinnett maintains its AAA bond rating, it owes nearly $160 million, making it the county with the third-highest debt in Georgia, according to Moody's.
The FAA pilot program streamlines privatization and enables the expansion to commercial scheduled service, leading to growth in jobs and related industries at and around the airport. Tourism could grow through international flights. Now, international passengers headed to Briscoe must first land and clear customs at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. Briscoe (rendering of new airport at right) falls outside the current Port of Atlanta customs clearance boundary, which was drawn in 1962, when Atlanta's population was smaller than the current population of Gwinnett.
Three companies have expressed interest in Briscoe's privatization and commercial scheduled service. Propeller Airports Briscoe Field, Inc. appears the likely successful bidder. Its parent company's executives and advisors have lengthy experience in the aviation industry. Transportation expert Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation notes that the company claims access to $4 billion in investment capital, "which is plausible, given the $100-plus billion amassed by various infrastructure investment funds over the last several years."
A recent Economist magazine article focused on airport management and "grim" airports. It quoted Andreas Schimm of Airports Council International, an umbrella group, saying that in the past airports were "administered rather than managed" to serve state-owned airlines. "Governments now try to run airports on commercial lines, but few do it well. Privatization could help."
help in more ways than one, for Gwinnett and metro Atlanta.
AUG. 9, 2011 -- The phrase "Seize the moment" may have first come from a politician William Wirt, (1772 - 1834). He wrote "Seize the moment of excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts; for if you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may remain in ignorance."
Later Richard Nixon would use the phrase for a book title. (It's available as a new book in hardcover from Amazon.com for 66 cents.)
The phrase was used in a Bloomberg report after the Japanese nation was urged to "seize this moment or risk another lost decade" after its earthquake.
Allowing opportunities to pass may mean you may never have such a chance again.
We think of this phrase as the Gwinnett County Commission dawdles ("move slowly; waste time") on a proposition before it: whether to proceed in moving to accept Request for Proposals (RFP) on the airport at Briscoe Field.
Three companies have expressed interest in making proposals to the county on the airport question. The next step is for the county to issue the call for proposals on the question. But the commission continues to take no action, inviting an opportunity possibly for the idea to slip away.
Let's be real. Some day there will be a relief airport in Atlanta. It's got to happen, as Hartsfield-Jackson only continues to grow, and continues to frustrate local passengers trying to fly around the country. If these passengers had an alternative airport, especially if they were one-hopping to destination cities within 2,000 miles, many would take the opportunity to board through an airport closer to their home, one which did not have the hassles of checking in or parking.
But the Gwinnett Commission dawdles on a decision.
No doubt about it, several airports around Atlanta would jump at the chance to have the economic impact that such an airport would provide. Three present airports would love to be in the position Gwinnett is in seeking to get a commercial airport. Charlie Brown Airport in Fulton County, and two Cobb airports, Dobbins and McCollum Field, would love to have both the economic base and feather in their cap of providing the alternate for Hartsfield-Jackson.
Coming at a time when the local economy is in the doldrums, the financial impact of re-furbishing Briscoe Field or any other airport to an commercial airport is immense.
Yet the hands-on best location for a second commercial site is Gwinnett, many tell you. The Federal Aviation Administration has already given preliminary approval for Gwinnett to submit an application to privatize its air service. That was back in May of 2010.
But Gwinnett dawdles.
Keep on delaying, keep on offering excuses, and Gwinnett will lose its anchor position as the one airport invited by FAA for privatization.
There's no doubt that establishing Briscoe Field for commercial service will dictate the future for Gwinnett more than any single idea that has been proposed in the last 10 years. The site is ripe, a majority the people we feel are generally ready, and we hear there is even a majority of the county commission ready to vote for this proposition.
Now is the time to bring it to the table, vote (even if 3-2), and move forward with the privatization possibility. To continue to dawdle may mean a lost opportunity, and a setback from which the county may never recover as a leader in all of Georgia.
it's time to "Seize the moment!"
The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Aurora Theatre, recently named Best Theatre Company in Atlanta (Creative Loafing Best of Atlanta 2010). It is the professional theatre of Gwinnett County and home of the best entertainment in Northeast Georgia. With over 300 events annually, Aurora Theatre has live entertainment to suit everyone's taste. The Aurora Theatre main stage season is comprised of Broadways best plays and musicals alongside exciting new works of contemporary theatre. Additionally, Aurora produces concerts, comedy club events, children's programs and metro Atlanta's top haunted attraction Lawrenceville Ghost Tours. Aurora Theatre boasts a world-class facility with two performances venues, an elegant 250-seat main stage and an intimate 90-seat studio theatre. The facility is nestled on the square in historic downtown Lawrenceville, with free attached covered parking and is surrounded by myriad of restaurants and shops. Now playing, through September 4, A Chorus Line is the opening performance in its 16th season. Season tickets are available offering patrons the best seats at the biggest discount. (Most couples save $150 off the cost of single tickets.) For more information: http://www.auroratheatre.com/ or call 678-226-6222.
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Gwinnett County Public Library and its partners invite citizens to an annual celebration of the literary, performing, and visual arts. Fall Into The Arts (FITA) is an annual celebration of the literary, performing, and visual arts.
Its mission is to foster a sense of community in Gwinnett County through jointly sponsored arts programs and to encourage a lifelong love of the arts. Thanks to the availability of free or reduced event tickets, the program will expand the availability of the county's cultural life to those citizens for whom access to the arts may be limited.
As a part of the 2011 FITA program, the library will host receptions for local artists at four branches. They will be held Saturday, September 17, from 1-4 p.m. at four libraries for this program. They include:
These library event are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.gwinnettfallintothearts.org or call 770-978-5154.
New L.E.A.D. Duluth class is accepting 2011 applications
(Learn, Engage, Advance Duluth) Duluth is accepting applications for the
fourth annual L.E.A.D. Academy
to improve pedestrian safety in the Gwinnett Place area for sidewalks
advanced when Gwinnett commissioners approved contracts.
Jamie Aye of Duluth, a fourth-year student in the Mercer University School of Medicine doctoral program, will be spending the next four weeks in Norcross, assisting local physician Dr. Tayaba Fatema as a part of community-based medical training required by Mercer. Her parents are Michael and Audrey Aye of Duluth.
Filling the role of a Community Medicine preceptor for the Medical School, Dr. Fatema will provide office-based and community experiences that augment medical education with real-world situations. Students participate in these required preceptorships in order to learn more about community medicine, the impact of family dynamics on health, interviewing techniques and patient care, as well as disease prevention and health promotion.
be the third time that Aye has worked with Dr. Fatema. The visits during
the first year (two weeks) and second year (four weeks) allowed Aye to
complete and update assessments of two families, conduct a community needs
assessment, complete a chronic disease management report, and provide
clinical care to the preceptor's patients.
These community placements demonstrate the commitment of Mercer School of Medicine to its mission of providing medical care for rural and medically underserved areas in Georgia. Founded in 1982, the Mercer University School of Medicine has granted degrees to 1,154 Doctor of Medicine students, 49 percent chose primary care as a specialty and 62 percent of Mercer School of Medicine graduates currently practice in the state.
Of those who practice in the state, 83 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. The Medical School operates two four-year campuses. Clinical experiences for Macon students are provided by the Medical Center of Central Georgia, while in Savannah, Memorial University Health Center partners with Mercer for training and educational needs.
International association recognizes Suwanee for third time
City/County Management Association (ICMA) knows a thing or two about local
government management. The organization is so impressed by practices in
the City of Suwanee that it awarded Suwanee, for the third straight year,
with a Certificate of Distinction for "superior performance management
efforts." Suwanee is one of 47 jurisdictions throughout the country
to be recognized through ICMA's certificate program and one of 11 to receive
the Certificate of Distinction.
Georgia School Nurses recognize Snellville resident, Cagle
Two Georgians are the recipients of the annual School Health Hero Awards from the Georgia Association of School Nurses. Cathalene Teahan, right, of Snellville, was recognized for helping school nurses keep up to date on pending state legislation that could affect their practice or the health of Georgia schoolchildren. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of Gainesville was honored for founding the Healthy Kids Georgia program, which strives to reduce childhood rates for being overweight or obese in Georgia.
The Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia make up the state's highest mountain range. The range of rugged ridges and rounded, weathered peaks varies in elevation from 1,600 to 4,700 feet and harbors spectacular mountain scenery, as well as some of the world's richest biological diversity. In addition, the range contains Georgia's wettest areas, with higher elevations getting more than eighty inches of rain annually on average.
The Blue Ridge, so named because its peaks and ridges often appear wrapped in a soft blue haze, consists of a nearly unbroken chain of mountains stretching from Virginia and North Carolina and extending nearly 100 miles into Georgia. It makes up the southernmost part of the Appalachian mountain chain, a vast complex of ranges that extends from north Georgia through New England.
Northwest Georgia consists of several smaller ranges-the Cohuttas, the Unakas, and the Cumberland Plateau. They are separated from the Blue Ridge by geologic formations known as the Hightower-Jasper Ridges and the McCaysville Basin in north central Georgia, along a boundary roughly marked by Georgia Highway 5. The Blue Ridge's southern boundary is along the Brevard Fault, at an elevation of 1,700 feet, where the Piedmont province begins. The Blue Ridge occupies all or portions of eleven counties in Georgia: Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Pickens, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White.
The Blue Ridge Mountains' crest, for much of its length, forms the drainage dividing line known as the Eastern Continental Divide, which separates rivers flowing eastward into the Atlantic Ocean from those flowing westward to the Gulf of Mexico. For instance, Georgia's Chattahoochee River basin, whose waters flow into the gulf, rises near the borders of Union and Towns counties. The Etowah River, which also flows to the gulf, rises in Lumpkin County. The headwaters of the Savannah River, which flows to the Atlantic, are the Chattooga River, which rises in the Blue Ridge near the juncture of the Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina borders.
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"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
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30-year anniversary of Ace Truck Body and Trailer Repairs,: 11 a.m. To 2 p.m., Aug. 10, 4930 Buford Highway, Norcross. Food, music and door prizes are planned. Help Owner Al Karnitz celebrate 30 years in business.
Business After Hours, hosted by Snellville Commerce Club: 5:30 p.m., Aug. 11, at Snellville Senior Center, adjacent to the City Hall.
(NEW) Volunteer Night for Great Gwinnett Days of Service. Starting 5 p.m., Aug. 15, Gwinnett Braves Coolray Field. For information, contact Nicole Love.
(NEW) Gwinnett Technology Forum at Gwinnett Tech's Busbee Center: 7:30 a.m., Aug. 16. Speaker will be Radhika Subramanian, CEO of Gabacus, an Atlanta firm that summarizes Twitter.
(NEW) Second Annual Duluth Music Festival on three stages. Starting 2 p.m., Aug. 20, downtown Duluth. Featured recording artist is Trent Tomlinson. For details, visit www.duluthga.net or call 770-476-3434.
(NEW) Reforming the food and farming system in Georgia will be the subject at the 7 p.m. Aug. 21 meeting of the Gwinnett Group of the Sierra Club at Berkmar High School. Leah Garces, with the Compassion in World Farming, will be the speaker.
Brunch and Book signing with author Evelyn Coleman: Aug. 27 at California Pizza Kitchen in Norcross. Sponsored by Friends of Gwinnett County Public Library. Tickets are $25 for each child. For more information, visit www.friendsgcpl.org.
8th Annual Legacy Awards, honoring Gwinnetts exemplary women: 10 a.m., Aug. 27, Gwinnett Place Marriott. Sponsored by United Way Leadership Council in Gwinnett. More info.
(NEW) Taste of Duluth: 6:30 p.m., Sept. 15, Payne Corley House in Duluth. For more information, go to www.duluthfallfestival.org.
Meet the Author: 7 p.m., Sept. 21, at the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center. Author Stuart Woods will discuss and sign his books. Sponsored by Gwinnett County Public Library. For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.
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