Issue 11.57 | Friday, Oct. 14, 2011
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.
Ga., Oct. 14, 2011 - A difficult economy can mobilize the very best in
human nature and that is being seen in Gwinnett.
This school year more than 162,000 students reported for class in Gwinnett County Public Schools. The enrollment count was within one percent of district projections - an amazing job by the GCPS Planning Department.
people are counting on Gwinnett County Public Schools and its communities
to prepare them for a bright future. Each and every day, GCPS teachers
and employees focus their efforts on providing students with a quality
and effective education
one that will give them the knowledge, skills,
and behaviors they need to be successful. But schools cannot do this job
me to the best in human nature. There is an army of dedicated parents
and community volunteers doing fantastic work on behalf of children and
teachers. This army consists of community groups, cluster foundations,
and PTSAs willing to support the initiatives of the public schools.
It is inspiring
that supporters for these groups come from all walks of life. In Duluth,
a childless donor gave in remembrance of a dear sister. A benefactor in
Suwanee gave in honor of his grandchildren although they live out of the
district. Meadowcreek has received donations from throughout the metro
mature school communities like Dacula, South Gwinnett, Grayson, Brookwood,
Norcross and Central have benefitted from an alumni base willing to donate.
Three newer schools - Ferguson, Burnette, and Moore- have received support
from the families for which the schools were named. Whether it is a Taste
of Berkmar, Grayson, Shiloh, Archer, Norcross, Central, North Gwinnett,
or a Movie Night at Peachtree Ridge, or a Kickoff Breakfast for Mill Creek,
Collins Hill or Lanier, there is a group of volunteers meeting at any
given time brainstorming on ways to assist public schools.
director of the larger district foundation, the GCPS Foundation Fund,
Inc., I work on behalf of the district in a macro, big picture way. Our
annual fundraiser, the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame, coupled with
corporate, state, and federal grants, helps fund initiatives that benefit
the entire district. We also experience outstanding support from GCPS
employees through payroll deduction and donations from school system retirees.
it is important to look at the big picture, I also am fortunate to have
the opportunity to see the micro view of what the citizens of this great
community are doing on behalf of their corner of the world. Individuals
can make a difference and they do every day in Gwinnett.
on November 8, voters will go to the polls to make a decision on the extension
of the education SPLOST for five more years. Our schools have benefitted
from voter support of past education SPLOSTs which have provided classrooms
and technology to meet the needs of our growing student population.
of the power of individuals
Individuals and community groups have
provided the "extras" that provide for students beyond the school
budget and pay big dividends such as Saturday tutorial sessions, after
school programs, Math Camp, author visits, Science Olympiad and so much
Below is a list of upcoming events sponsored by community groups. I urge all to support the upcoming events of our local foundations and to learn more about the work of the GCPS Foundation by visiting www.gcps-foundation.org
OCT. 14, 2011 -- Without realizing it, the Gwinnett County Commission has by its recent actions created the biggest single issue for the 2012 Gwinnett County Commission election. Three seats on the Commission will be open next year, including that of the chairman of the board.
The campaign issue will be the privatization and commercialization of the Gwinnett County Airport, if some other county hasn't snared a private operator for their own airport.
The Gwinnett Commission's inability to move forward boldly, no matter the individual opinion of single commissioners, is the key here. After all, everything doesn't have to be done by unanimous consent; if you have the 3-2 majority, it may be the time to act in the best interest of the community.
Instead, our commissioners punted. They listened to a late-arriving consultant when they have enough facts to move forward to accepting proposals now. They even made the ludicrous appointment of another advisory committee, to serve what purpose we cannot fathom. (Also: some of those appointed to this group are not open-minded citizens, but those who have taken stands on the airport question before. Why bother?)
Several factors are already visible. The airport may not cost the county any operational money these days, but breaking even is moot when you could be earning big dollars from its operations by a private firm. Why not polish the apple, so to speak, and let the airport flourish, instead of Gwinnett being listed as having an airport, but not taking full advantage of it?
A second airport is overly needed in Atlanta. What has been proposed is no major international facility like Jackson-Hartsfield, but a simple feeder airport to be operated on a limited scale. It would be most beneficial for the citizens of Gwinnett and surrounding immediate areas who would find it most useful. Its operation would save millions in dollars for local transportation each year. It also would save much consternation and frustration by being easier and faster to get to than is Hartsfield. These two factors alone are what are causing most Gwinnettians to favor privatization and commercialization of Briscoe Field.
What Gwinnett is seeing from its commission is a failure of leadership. Other communities, we know, are seeking to become the privatized airport that the Gwinnett commission has so far failed to approve. Yet all indicators point to Gwinnett as the best location for a second airport. That's why companies are interested in getting the commission approval to privatize Briscoe Field.
Losing this privatized venture will not only be an immediate loss, but could set back the county's ability to be a viable force for economic development for years to come. Gwinnett could have a central hub of activity from this airport that would be the envy of other communities. Its impact on the county will have a similar impact that Hartsfield-Jackson proved for Atlanta. Remember when Birmingham and Atlanta were similar in sizes and impact on the South? Then the Atlanta airport started flourishing, and Birmingham had to take a back seat. We don't want Gwinnett to be in a back-seat position.
There is no doubt that the airport will be the main campaign issue in 2011. The inaction by the commission assures that. Viable candidates who take this as their main campaign issue in 2012 will, we feel, benefit from the endorsement of the voters.
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Editor, the Forum:
It seems to me that no one is addressing the key issue surrounding the potential privatization-commercialization of Briscoe Field. Forget the convenience, noise, traffic, economic development, etc. The real issue, in my opinion, is maximizing an asset.
Briscoe Field is a county asset that is not part of the core governmental services. The current economy has played havoc with the county budget, reserve funds and property taxes. Someone was wise enough to consider monetizing the non-core assets of the county as a means to build back a substantial reserve fund and to eliminate the need for additional property tax increases in the immediate future.
The Board of Commissioners has a fiduciary responsibility to maximize the value of those disposable assets while balancing the greater good of the majority of the 800,000 citizens. Privatizing Briscoe without commercializing it will generate some return on that investment but still have a negative impact (increased private flights, traffic, pollution, etc.) on some Gwinnettians. However I don't believe that course of action will come close to maximizing the asset and as a result could leave the county vulnerable to a lawsuit. Gwinnett has a history of poor results and expensive settlements to past lawsuits.
Commercializing Briscoe would, in my opinion, maximize the asset but have a negative impact on a greater number of citizens. However even if it was a negative for 100,000 citizens, it could be seen as serving the greater good of the other 700,000 by avoiding additional property tax increases for the immediate future. So the BOC could be seen as getting maximum value for a non-core asset while acting in the greater good of its citizens.
In any case, discussing the future of Briscoe without including the maximizing of an asset in that conversation is avoiding the elephant in the room.
Perspective on Georgia's technical colleges warms her heart
Editor, the Forum:
Your Perspective on technical schools warmed my heart today. I grew up beside Georgia's first technical college in Clarkesville and married a graduate. I later went back to the college as director of public relations.
In that position, I met many graduates of the school, and their stories of success made me a firm believer in technical training. I'm sure each of your readers can tell of an incident where Georgia's technical colleges attracted new business to the state and gave individuals the skills needed for good livelihoods. The HOPE program pays tuition for all first-time diploma or certificate students. The technical system puts Georgia a step ahead in offering its citizens a path to personal achievement.
Dennis Hayes remembers and appreciates Steve Jobs
Editor, the Forum:
we will miss you.
way out of the parking lot my associates asked me what happened. I explained
how we were going to set up a project to see what can be done to enhance
the communications of the Next machine, other than just attaching one
of our modems to it.
Steve, Thank you for all you have done and the impact your vision had on the world. I will miss you.
Wonders if Snellville needs to change the city's name
How many times has bulldog "Brutus" been unfairly blamed for vicious behavior, or poddle "Pookie" never blamed for her household destruction? Exactly my point.
What if Snellville changed its name. Would that put a different lens on how it might conduct business [uncoupling self-fulfilling prophesies] or how people perceive its merits? Are its residents proud to be Snellvillians? I don't have those answers but if local historians wish to explore the impact of names on positive or negative outcomes over time, Snellville would be my suggestion to explore.
Politicians like being big fish in small pond, but it limits them
Editor, the Forum:
Concerning your recent commentary on economic development in the state: Georgia is a socialist state. The people of Georgia like it that way.
Presumably, our petty potentates like it too. What do they really mean when they go on about "small" government? They are referring to a smaller political subdivision which is easier to run. Better to be a big fish in a little pond, than a little fish in a big pond.
Though, when it comes to real ponds and fishes, the size of the pond actually constrains how big the fish can get.
Gwinnett residents are reminded to continue to conserve water. The Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources asks residents and businesses to conserve water during the current drought.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts that Lake Lanier's level will drop below 1060 feet by mid-October, which is more than 10 feet below full pool.
homeowners can take advantage of the department's toilet rebate program,
which provides up to two $100 rebates per residence for homes built before
1993. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, multifamily residences will also be eligible
to receive the credit as long as funds last.
Attendees will receive a low-flow retrofit kit for showers and faucets, an outdoor water efficiency kit and a do-it-yourself home water audit guide. Homeowners also may pick up the kits from the customer service counter at Water Resources' Central Facility located at 684 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
South Gwinnett Rotary seeks to honor World War II veterans
Club of South Gwinnett County plans to honor Gwinnett's World War II veterans
at a Veteran's Day recognition ceremony and luncheon on Friday, November
11. The club has gathered World War II veteran's names from a number of
sources. It is also seeking the public's help in finding more residents
of Gwinnett County who served in this war.
Council meeting Monday, Braselton
Mayor BillOrr said, "We need the opportunity to work with Mayfield
and to express our willingness to make it make sense for Mayfield to keep
the visitor's center open because it does make sense for Braselton."
Richard Mayberry met with Visitor's Center staff on Saturday and Monday.
He cited the center's opening in 1997 and heralded by then-Governor Zell
Miller as a key industry in a state long known for its agricultural leadership.
"Employees donated products and souvenirs to Town festivals and parades.
Mayfield is a vital part of our Visitors Bureau Authority and strategic
partner attracting tourists from many states. School-age children have
taken educational tours since its inception, bringing revenue to the center
and the Town. So, we urge Dean Foods, with a time-honored southern expression,
to 'hunker down' through this recession."
County saves big through negotiating insurance with broker
The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners has taken steps to save big in insurance costs. It approved contracts with five insurers to provide health care coverage to employees and retirees in 2012 resulting in a savings of approximately $5.2 million over the previous plan year.
awarded to BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia, Kaiser Permanente, Humana,
CVS CareMark and The Hartford Life Insurance Company reflect significant
savings to the County due to lower prices from the insurers as well as
health care provider discounts obtained by the insurers on the County's
(From previous edition)
Georgia broadcasters were early to develop their own broadcasting association and, thanks to strong support, the Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) was founded in 1934 and became the nation's largest, and one of the most active, state associations.
GAB has enjoyed a long history of association with the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at UGA and has developed unique working relationships with numerous other colleges and universities around the state. The Georgia Broadcasting Hall of Fame, housed at UGA, recognizes those who have made substantial contributions to Georgia broadcasting. Likewise, the nation's most prestigious broadcasting awards, the Peabodys, are administered by the Grady College of Journalism.
During the early 1950s, with television encroaching on audiences, budget, and talent, a Georgia radio broadcaster developed a nationwide campaign to resurrect the medium. Elmo Ellis used the platform "Removing the Rust from Radio" to encourage all American stations to make strong efforts to revitalize their operations. The movement was considered to be very successful with Ellis, a Peabody Award-winning executive, at the helm.
By 2003 the FCC had licensed 448 Georgia stations. Trends in ownership are changing because of a more liberal FCC policy, with some companies owning dozens of stations within the state. Just after 2000, satellite radio networks appeared, and new technology allowed satellite signals to reach moving cars.
Some observers have questioned whether traditional radio can survive in this technological environment, but radio is now enjoying its greatest prosperity. Radio broadcasting in Georgia has emulated the tremendous pattern of growth within the state. With about 8.5 million potential listeners, and thousands more in neighboring states, Georgia stations offer programming as diverse as the population itself.
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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.
"It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that."
second printing of Elliott Brack's modern history of Gwinnett County,
entitled "Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta," is underway. The
book should be available about November 1. The first edition sold out
earlier this year.
Two versions of the
book will be available. The hardback edition will be priced at $75, while
a softback edition will be $40. The books will be available at selected
local book stores and also available by purchase through www.elliottbrack.com.
SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM
(NEW) Colored Pencil Odyssey exhibition of six artists: Now through Nov. 25, St. Edward's Episcopal Church, 737 Moon Road in Lawrenceville. These 24 drawings are from members of the Atlanta chapter of the Colored Pencil Society. The gallery is free to the public, with viewing hours 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 770-963-6128.
Dracula: Oct. 14 through Oct. 30, Fridays through Sundays. The melodrama will be performed at the New London Theatre in Snellville. More.
Education Forum: 7:30 a.m., Oct. 14, 1818 Club, with Dr. John Barge, state school superintendent, as speaker, discussing "The Business of Education." Hosted by Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Register online.
Market extension: Originally scheduled to close October 1, the 2011 Suwanee Farmers Market has been extended two weeks. The market will now be open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays through October 15. About a dozen farmers/vendors are expected to participate in the extended market.
PhotoMix Exhibit: Third Annual Kudzu/Atlanta Celebrates Photography Event Fridays and Saturdays, through Oct. 29 at Kudzu Art Zone in Norcross. This month-long exhibit of 12 Kudzu members seeks to expand the awareness of visual arts. The opening reception is Friday, October 14. Details here.
City Wide Clean-Up Day, in Norcross on October 15. Clean out your garage, basement or attic. There will be electronics recycling (including television sets for a fee), paper shredding, paint recycling plus can collection for the food bank. More info.
Third Annual Frontier Faire and Public Archaeology Event: Oct. 15-16, 2505 Braselton Highway in Hog Mountain. Re-Enactors and site archaeologist will work to promote awareness of the historic Fort Daniel site. A lecture on the site will be October 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Fort Daniel Elementary School. More details.
Tales of a Lost Fort will be the subject of the Gwinnett Historical Society meeting 7:30 p.m., Oct. 17, at the Historic Courthouse. Bruce Maney of Snellville, a member of the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution, will talk about the 1780 "Lost Ft. McCluskey in Madison County, Ga."
Candidate Forum in Lilburn: 7 p.m. Oct. 17, Lilburn City Hall. Candidates running for mayor and two posts on the council will answer questions from the audience and discuss their positions. This is sponsored by the Lilburn Woman's Club.
(NEW) Game Technology is the subject of the Gwinnett Technology Forum: 7:30 a.m., Oct. 18, Busbee Center of Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville. Speakers will be Deborah Thomas, CEO of Silly Monkey, and Dov Jacobson, of Games That Work. Register here.
Superintendent speaks: 11:30 a.m., Oct. 19, 1818 Club, Duluth. Education is the topic at a Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce meeting on October 19. Speaker is Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett County School Superintendent. Tickets are required. For more information, contact the Gwinnett Chamber at 770-232-3000.
Plant Sale: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 18-20, Gwinnett Tech Horticulture Center Greenhouse. Among items will be perennials, fall annuals, vegetables, herbs and shrubs.
Plant Vogle Nuclear Plant will be the focus of the Sierra Club 7 p.m. meeting on Oct. 20 at Berkmar High School. Speakers will be Bobbie Paul and Courtney Hanson with Georgia WAND (Women's Action for New Direction.) They will discuss the plant's impact on Georgians.
(NEW) Health Fair, "All About Women": 9:30 a.m., Oct. 21, Busbee Center of Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville. Sponsored by Gwinnett Medical Center. There is no cost. RSVP/register here.
(NEW) Second Annual Fall Festival in Snellville: 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 22. The event will be downtown in front of the City Hall on the Town Green. There will be entertainment, food, kid's area and arts and craft vendors. Email for more info.
Rainbow Village Gala: 6:30 p.m., Oct. 22, Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek. Wilmington Trust is the presenting sponsor. Dinner, entertainment and a silent auction will mark the 20 years of celebration. Entertainment will be with Blue Sky Atlanta. Reserve seats.
(NEW) Fifth Annual Salvation Army Breakfast: 8 a.m., Oct. 28, Gwinnett Salvation Army Center, 3455 Sugarloaf Parkway. Speaker will be Jeff Foxworthy. This benefits the Army's "Home Sweet Home Gwinnett," an innovative program for emergency rapid re-housing of homeless families. Tickets at $125. More information via email.
Masterworks Concert: Oct. 30. The first concert of the season by the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (GSO&C) is scheduled for Sunday, October 30 at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. It will be a family concert entitled, "Masterworks 1: A Young Persons' Guide to the Orchestra and Chorus."
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