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MOUNTAINS TO SEA:
Georgia's topographic diversity is varied from the mountains (see Georgia Encyclopedia below today) to the sea. This view is from Darien, on the coast north of Brunswick, as shrimp boats get ready to parade by in the annual Blessing of the Fleet. Note the flatness of the terrain, with tall trees in the distance interrupting the horizon. It's far different from the peaks and valleys of North Georgia.

Issue 11.38 | Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011

TODAY'S FOCUS
:: Foundation: Privatize Briscoe Field

ELLIOTT BRACK'S PERSPECTIVE
:: Commission should stop dawdling

FEEDBACK
:: Send us your letters

UPCOMING
:: Library arts program, LEAD, sidewalks

NOTABLE
:: Mercer student, two honors

ALSO INSIDE

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
:: Aurora Theatre

GEORGIA TIDBIT
:: Blue Ridge Mountains

TODAY'S QUOTE
:: Two most beautiful words

OUR SPONSORS

ABOUT US

GwinnettForum.com 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.

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TODAY'S FOCUS
Feels privatization of Briscoe Field can be helpful to area
By BENITA M. DODD
Special to GwinnettForum

(Editor's Note: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank, recently released this information about Gwinnett's Briscoe Field, by Vice President Benita M. Dodd, and about privatization the airport. Here are key portions of that report.-eeb)

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.


Dodd

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."

It can help in more ways than one, for Gwinnett and metro Atlanta.

EEB PERSPECTIVE
Time for Gwinnett Co. Commission to "Seize the Moment"
By ELLIOTT BRACK
Editor and publisher

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."


Brack

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.

Indeed, it's time to "Seize the moment!"

ABOUT OUR SPONSORS
Aurora Theatre

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.

FEEDBACK
Want to vent?

Send us your letters. Our policy: We encourage readers to submit feedback (or letters to the editor). Send your thoughts to the editor at elliott@brack.net. 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.

UPCOMING
Libraries planning four programs for arts beginning Sept. 17

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:

  • Buford Branch: Watercolor artist Jim Mengason and Rosemary Williams another watercolor artist who presently teaches watercolor classes at Sugar Hill Community Center.

  • Dacula Branch: Lois Colborn, a member of the Georgia Watercolor Society, and Jean Richardson, whose work includes landscapes, floras and still lifes.

  • Grayson Branch: Ralph Beach, a member of Northeastern University's African American Master Artist-in-Residence Program; Liz Borkhuis, a largely self-taught artist and member of the Art Station in Stone Mountain; and Dorette Smith who is retired from a teaching career.

  • Lilburn Branch: Latifah Shakir is from New Orleanian who has exhibited her work in both in the United States and abroad; and Judith Surowiec, who paints with a colorful energy.

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

L.E.A.D. (Learn, Engage, Advance Duluth) Duluth is accepting applications for the fourth annual L.E.A.D. Academy

It's a program that allows class members to learn more about the City of Duluth operations and the City itself. L.E.A.D. teaches about city operations, services, and the overall essential functions of city government. It offers an interactive learning experience, which includes information about city services, programs and responsibilities. Additionally, citizens casually interact with elected officials and city staff. Class participants are afforded the opportunity to ask questions and gain a better understanding of Duluth government and their role in local government.

The Academy is a six week program, beginning Tuesday, September 20 and continuing each Tuesday through October 25, from 6-9 p.m. Applications are available online at www.duluthga.net or may be picked up at City Hall. Deadline for applications is August 24. For more information contact Alisa Williams at 678-475-3506.

More sidewalks coming to two areas near Gwinnett Place

Two projects to improve pedestrian safety in the Gwinnett Place area for sidewalks advanced when Gwinnett commissioners approved contracts.

Pleasant Hill Road from Satellite Boulevard to Interstate-85 will get new sidewalks, curb and gutter, lighting, seating, signage and landscaping. A future project will extend the streetscaping to Breckinridge Boulevard. Federal funding will provide $350,000 toward the project. Gwinnett County and the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District will provide any additional funds for the sidewalks and pedestrian enhancements.

The second project will provide sidewalks on Club Drive connecting Pleasant Hill Road to Club Drive Park. The work, expected to begin next year, will also include curb and gutter installation, roadside shoulder and drainage improvements.

NOTABLE
Med student from Duluth to be preceptor in Norcross

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.


Aye

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.

This will 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.

During this four week visit, Aye will continue the longitudinal experience begun in Year 1. The student prepares a Practice Management Report that determines the feasibility of beginning or joining a medical practice in the community or completes an Alternative Population Health Project of the student's design and choosing. During this four-week block in the Senior Year, approximately 80 percent of the rotation is allocated to clinical activities.

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

The International 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.

Amie Sakmar, Suwanee's director of financial services, says: "We know that people's eyes probably glaze over when we get geeky about performance data, comparisons to other jurisdictions, and operational decision-making But for Suwanee, these measures and practices are important components in effective decision-making. They help us to know that we're headed in the right direction and provide us with red flags on those occasions that we're not."

According to ICMA, performance management encourages accountability and transparency and aids in cost reduction, program prioritization, and quality improvement.

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.

RECOMMENDED

  • 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

GEORGIA ENCYCLOPEDIA
State's highest peaks are in Blue Ridge Mountains

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.

(To be continued)

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2011, Gwinnett Forum.com. 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.

TODAY'S QUOTE
Thinks these two are two most beautiful words in English

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

-- American-born writer Henry James (1843 - 1916), via Cindy Evans, Duluth.

SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM

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GWINNETT CALENDAR

The biggest event of the year for Duluth is its 29th Annual Fall Festival, scheduled the weekend of September 24-25. Plans are well underway, with promotional signs going up now by some of the 400 volunteers in this city-wide event. Last weekend was the reception and Annual Festival Cookout. Next on the program is a free Festival Concert on September 10 at the Duluth Festival Center. Sponsors are still coming on board. For more information, go to www.duluthfallfestival.org.
(Paid Advertisement)

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 Gwinnett’s 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.

MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE

9/20: Privatize postal service

9/16: Remembering W.C. Corley

9/13: Remedial education

9/9: Huntsman idea

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


MORE RECENT COMMENTARY

9/20: Sharp: Owens' Duluth book

9/16: Wickham: Municipal courts

9/13: Tatarsky: Headed to Brazil

9/9: Kaufman: On David Petraeus

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

COMMENTARY INDEX


CONTACT US TODAY

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