Issue 11.96 | Friday, March 9, 2012
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.
CHEROKEE, N.C., March 9, 2012 -- News of a developer wanting to bring a casino to Norcross hit a couple of days after a first-time visit to Harrah's Cherokee casino in North Carolina. I purchased a Groupon for two nights in a Creek Tower room for $139, which came with $60 in coupons for food, gambling or cash-redemption. I took the cash. So my boyfriend and I were already "up" $60!
Cherokee was fairly deserted. Motels, shops and attractions were either closed for the season or permanently closed. The approach to Harrah's 21-story hotel complex was dramatic in the contrast of old Cherokee and the new-ish casino.
The Creek Tower is the newest part of the hotel, and the owners of Harrah's hired the right decorators/designers, as everything was sleek, modern, and tasteful. Our room -- a king with sitting area (remember, we're talking $46.25/night after cashing in the $60 promotional "coupons"!) -- came with a dorm-size refrigerator, large flat-screen TV, and a nice bathroom with a mix of textured and colored tiles and quartz counter. The most useful feature of the room was a rolling table that fit under the built-in desk - this table could be used for impromptu meals or as another desk in the room.
The first night, my boyfriend, who is a World Tavern Poker third-place national champion and has won several regional and local tournaments, went to check out the poker situation. Cherokee is licensed for video slots, blackjack and poker. On the floor: 3,000 video slot machines, probably 25 blackjack tables and another 20 poker tables (positioned WAY in the back of the casino). His first night, he was up $186 after 30 minutes of play. For the visit, he was up $358.
I walked around the gaming floor a bit, and was disheartened at what I saw. A lot of older people (60s, 70s, 80s) with dull eyes punching the video slot machine buttons. The last time I was in a casino was in 1988 in Las Vegas (for a work convention), and at least then, one had to actually pull the "one armed bandit" lever, a bit of exercise. Now, apparently players just have to push a button. And there's no fanfare of coins rattling into a tray, or sirens announcing a big payoff. Anything won is "quietly" recorded on the winner's electronic casino card. But it's still loud, as horrific music pounded to keep the gamblers going. Some areas of the casino allow smoking, so if you're sensitive to smoke, look for the non-smoking areas.
Downsides to the trip:
we encountered from the hotel was courteous, helpful and generally in
a good mood.
One other note: The GPS doesn't work well in Cherokee. It got us all turned around.
In the public bathrooms, I saw something I'd never seen in a hotel (or anywhere outside of a hospital), a "sharps" collection box for insulin needles. Either this attests to the high rate of diabetes among the workers or guests, or both!
all, we'll likely go back, especially if there's another Groupon deal!
MARCH 9, 2012 -- Bigger is always better, right?
Not always. But it is tough to get that understood by some people. And bigger certainly doesn't necessarily mean better. In fact, bigger can often be detrimental.
You want evidence?
Go into some fast food restaurants or convenience stores. Many offer larger size soft drink cups. No, not merely 12 or 24 ounces .for I saw one of 32 ounces the other day. What happened to the six ounce Coke, which once was adequate? No wonder our bodies are getting heavier .and perhaps even softer, too.
Just recently, Delta Airlines floated a trial balloon over the possible purchase of US Airways. We've seen consolidation of the airline industry for years. Most of you can testify that, indeed, bigger airlines do not automatically mean better airlines.
Consolidation of many other companies, big and small, doesn't always add up to improvements for the customers, nor often for the company itself. Time-Warner's romance and marriage with AOL, and its subsequent problems, was nothing less than a disaster. A big disaster!
Other firms find too late that their two companies just don't fit. Meanwhile, there are possible huge losses for the company stockholders. "Whose bright idea was it to merge them to begin with?" many ended up thinking.
Watch out for another problem with firms merging. Once it gets down to only two big players in any industry, that's bad for customers. For in effect, the two giants of any industry really stop competing, happy with their segment of the industry they have carved out. Prices jump, as do ways to increase prices without competition, since each knows that the other company won't try to wedge into their exclusive territory.
Back to individuals: bigger football players, especially linemen, automatically means better players, right? Only now we are hearing of terrible long-range problems that football players are experiencing as they get older. How much of that came from the heavier and heavier people banging into one another?
Today in Gwinnett you are also seeing many of the 16 cities of the county often expanding their borders, gobbling up unincorporated parts of the county. One reason: "We don't want (the nearby city) to annex that land." That's no excuse.
Why can't our charming 16 cities recognize that so far they amount to only about 22 percent of the land mass of Gwinnett, and are distinctive as they are now. What makes these city commissioners think that getting immediately bigger through annexation can automatically be positive?
Oh, some city fathers say, "We're only going to annex the commercial areas," indicating that such land additions brings in a positive cash flow to the city. But there are flaws in this argument, too.
There are hidden costs of annexing commercial property that the city does not recognize: annexing is not always a linear relationship and most people (even engineers) do not understand the complexity of exponential functions especially when finances are involved. Many city's industrial/commercial growth developed as the city grew. Acquiring additional acreage is very different from organic growth.
There's another consideration: when Gwinnett's unique cities continue to grow, some of the distinctive charm of that particular city erodes. After all, the city now is much larger, and councilmen and mayors have to listen to and look out for more people. You lose a little more of the close relationship that a smaller city has.
Getting bigger in about any venture, we maintain, doesn't mean all is better. There are too many examples that make us know that.
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Editor, the Forum:
Kudos to Dave Heydinger for stating that the principle of the separation of church and state has somehow been reversed from its first use. That was when Thomas Jefferson used the phrase to state that the restriction from "the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," he was referring to the government imposing such a wall of separation.
Clearly, the prohibition rests against the government, not those people or bodies of believers who practice their faith. Saying it is implied in the Bill or Rights is a way of saying that government should rightfully sanction the establishment of religion, rather than allow the freedom intended by the founders, who were here to practice that freedom.
When government restricts the freedom of religion, it is itself imposing its own beliefs on its citizens. And I believe that I know the God to whom our founders were referring to when they allowed our coins to carry that phrase.
Apparently planning new book concerning land below dam
Editor, the Forum:
It was great to see you and Steve Rausch figuratively swapping kisses in the March 2 edition. Knowing you both, I want the readership to know neither one of you discounted the other during that exchange. Mutual respect, yes. Mutual admiration, maybe. Mutual love, don't even go there.
I may have to break down and buy a copy (of the history book, Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta) since I'm expending too much time Googling trying to find answers to questions. In truth, I knew there was only half of Jones Bridge and why but I haven't discovered the who and the when. Maybe that will come out in my book, Button: Just a Little Below the Dam Powerhouse.
"Time's a wastin' !", Snuffy Smith: "We have met the enemy and he is us," (Pogo.) Both sound apropos.
The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved a contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation on Tuesday for $2.5 million in state funds for the Sugarloaf Parkway extension from Campbell Road to State Route 316.
Some $2.5 million in state funds for an extension of Sugarloaf Parkway extension from Campbell Road to Georgia Highway 316 have been approved by the Gwinnett County Commission.
Work on the current section is the last of four projects to extend Sugarloaf Parkway from Georgia Highway 20 south of Lawrenceville to Route 316 in the Dacula area. Once completed, the four-lane, divided, limited-access roadway will have interchanges at New Hope Road, Martins Chapel Road, Campbell Road and Route 316.
Construction of the final section is already underway by ER Snell Contractor, Inc. of Snellville, which previously won the contract. The ramps on the south side of Route 316 are anticipated to be opened to traffic in August with the north side ramps expected to open by the end of the year.
Construction of the first section (Route 20 to New Hope Road) began in late 2007 and opened to traffic February 2010. Construction on the second section (New Hope Road to Martins Chapel Road) began in early 2009 and opened to traffic December 2010. Construction of the third section (Martins Chapel Road to Campbell Road) began in early 2010 and opened to traffic last August.
Third annual Soupbowl at Hudgens Center on March 17
Center's third annual Soupbowl Benefit will be Saturday, March 17, from
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This exciting fundraiser has become a noted community
event, as patrons rush to secure unique handmade bowls.
The soups, chili and bread will be provided by popular local businesses, including La Madeleine, Magnolia Bakery, Marlowe's Tavern, Olde Town Tavern and Panera Bread.
Those who would like first choice of the bowls should be sure to come for the Early Bird Sale, from 11 a.m. to noon, during which the bowls will be available for $30 each. At 12:30, the bowls will go on sale for $25 a piece, and food will be served.
Guests will be also able to participate in a silent auction, which will continue throughout the day and includes one-of-a-kind art by friends of the Hudgens, as well as gift certificates. Auction winners will be notified by phone, as it is not necessary to be present to win.
Gwinnett Clean-Up, nation's largest, underway for 3 month run
It's time again for the Great American Cleanup in Gwinnett. This is part of the largest community improvement program in the nation. In Gwinnett, it begins March 1 and runs through May 31.
GC&B Executive Director Connie Wiggins says: "Improving our community's appearance causes big things to happen. We become a better place to live and learn, to conduct business and to raise a family. This is the annual event when volunteers work to put the best face on their community."
While any beautification project can be part the Great American Cleanup, this year's campaign will target abandoned and neglected properties. Gwinnett County has a high rate of foreclosures. These homes and empty lots can become eyesores, reducing neighboring property values and inviting crime.
In her State of the County address, Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash identified these foreclosed properties as one of the issues lowering the quality of life in Gwinnett and encouraged a volunteer effort to clean them up.
Clean and Beautiful sees its annual Great American Cleanup campaign as
the perfect tool to address this problem.
While the chronically vacant and abandoned properties will be a special focus of the campaign, any project that beautifies Gwinnett is eligible to be part of Great American Cleanup Gwinnett Challenge 2012.
Interested citizens can suggest projects, organize cleanup efforts and learn more about the beautification campaign at www.gwinnettcb.org and clicking the Great American Cleanup Gwinnett Challenge link.
Gwinnett commissioners accepted a $158,766 federal grant for the Get in Gear medical transportation program for disabled individuals 18 years and older who have no other transportation options. This marks the second year Gwinnett has received funding for the program through the Federal Transportation Administration's New Freedom Act.
The nonprofit Friends of Gwinnett County Senior Services (Friends) organization will fund the required local match of $98,754.50 through private donations and program participant copayments. During the first six months of operation, Get in Gear provided vouchers for 593 trips that covered more than 10,000 miles. This new grant will increase the program's capacity by 25 percent.
Lutherans in Gwinnett begin Habitat rehab project
Members from the Gwinnett Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans kicked off their first home rehab project with a "First Nail" ceremony recently at 3877 Burnt Leaf Lane in Snellville. The home rehab project is part of Thrivent Builds, the company's ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
Teams of volunteers from Gwinnett's Lutheran churches will work at the home most Saturdays from March through May. Participating churches include All Saints, Amazing Grace, Christ the King, Christ the Lord, Community of Grace, Epiphany, Oak Road, St. James and Trinity.
Results from the long-standing Thrivent Builds partnership with Habitat for Humanity are impressive -- almost 3,000 homes built worldwide, with more than 3 million volunteer hours donated by over 480,000 Thrivent member volunteers. The Snellville rehab is one of 142 homes that Thrivent Financial members will be funding in 2012.
"This is the first rehab project for the Gwinnett Thrivent Chapter," Jeff Huenniger, Lutheran Engagement Specialist observes. "While we've been successful building new homes in the past, we realized that we could serve our community more effectively this year by making major improvements to an existing house."
Charles R. Craig, executive director of Gwinnett County Habitat for Humanity, says: "This is the eighth house that the Gwinnett Chapter of Thrivent Financial has sponsored. Last year in addition to the financial commitment required, they provided 165 volunteers who contributed 1,364 volunteer hours."
County awards 2 road projects for Sugar Hill, Norcross areas
Two construction contracts have been awarded by the Gwinnett County for pedestrian safety improvements and road widening on Old Norcross Tucker Road in the Norcross area and pedestrian safety improvements on Johnson Road in Sugar Hill.
The project on Old Norcross Tucker Road includes widening for the addition of a center turn lane and sidewalks from South Norcross Tucker Road to Guilford Drive/Payton Way. While the widening will end at Guilford Drive/Payton Way, the sidewalks will continue to Britt Road. The $1.7 million construction contract was awarded to CMES, Inc. of Lilburn, the lowest of eight bidders.
The north side of Johnson Road will get sidewalks from Riverside Elementary School to Settles Bridge Park and from Settles Bridge Park to Suwanee Dam Road. The project also includes curb and gutter and improvements to the roadside shoulders. Triscapes, Inc. of Cumming, the lowest of 12 bidders, will perform the work for $219,457.
Funding for these projects comes from the 2009 Sales Tax Program. The Old Norcross Tucker Road work is expected to be completed by early 2013, while the work on Johnson Road should be complete by this fall.
In 1911 Juliette Gordon Low met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a war hero and the founder of the Boy Scouts. The two shared common interests and quickly became friends. She admired the scouting movement and soon began working with the Girl Guides, the Boy Scouts' sister organization in Great Britain. With Baden-Powell's help and encouragement, she made plans to start a similar association for American girls. She returned to Georgia early in 1912 and formed several troops in Savannah in March.
Low previously had tended to embrace new projects enthusiastically, only to abandon them when her interest flagged. Scouting, however, was different; at age 51 she had found her life's work. She devoted the next 15 years to building the organization, which would become the largest voluntary association for women and girls in the United States. She enlisted friends and family in the cause and traveled throughout the nation recruiting leaders and members. She drafted the Girl Scout laws, supervised the writing of the first handbook in 1913, and provided most of the financial support for the organization during its early years. By 1925 there were more than 90,000 active Girl Scouts in the United States.
The organization owed much of its success to Low, who embodied a unique combination of resources and attributes. Equally at home in Britain and America, she had close ties to scouting's originator, Baden-Powell, and an extensive network of influential relatives and friends in the United States. She was unencumbered by family responsibilities or the necessity of earning a living. Witty and charming, Low was at ease when she met new people. Above all, she possessed boundless energy, an indomitable will, and an unshakable conviction that scouting would benefit girls and the nation. When Low called on adults to support the fledgling movement, few refused.
Low resigned the presidency of GSUSA in 1920, assuming instead the title of founder. She became increasingly involved in the international association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides. She realized one of her fondest dreams in May 1926, when the United States hosted an international encampment in New York. Thirty countries were represented; Low personally subsidized the travel expenses of some of the girls from overseas.
time of the encampment Low's health was failing. In 1923 she had been
diagnosed with cancer. She concealed her illness from family and friends
as long as she could and maintained a busy schedule.
Low was inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement in 1992, and in 2005 she was named an inaugural nominee of the Extra Mile Points of Light Volunteer Pathway, an evolving national monument in Washington, D.C.
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© 2012, 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.
"The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone."
MORE COPIES AVAILABLE
Previously out of print, Elliott Brack's 850-page history, "Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta," is now available again. Since its original publication, the book was declared the winner of the 2010 Award of Excellence for documenting Georgia history by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board. It is also the winner of the Gwinnett Historical Society's Whitworth-Flanigan Award for 2011 for preserving the history of Gwinnett County.
The book includes 143 demographic and historic tables, with more than 4,000 names in the index, and 10,000 names in the appendix.
Two versions of the book are available. The hardback edition is priced at $75, while a softback edition is $40. Books are available at:
You can also order
books through the Internet. To do that, go to www.elliottbrack.com
to place your order. For mail orders, there is a $5 shipping and handling
fee. Purchases are also subject to the 6 percent Georgia sales tax.
SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM
IN THE COMING WEEK
Fan Fest of Gwinnett Braves: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 10, Coolray Field. This year this include National Anthem auditions, a merchandise sidewalk sales, ballpark tours and other activities.
(NEW) Local Appearance of Antique Road Show's Selma Paul: Noon to 4 p.m., March 10, Norcross Community Center, 10 College Street. The filming of the road show begins at 1 p.m. There is no charge, though space is limited, so "first come, first admitted." For info, call 678-421-2049 or send email here.
(NEW) Girl Scout Reunion Tea: 2 p.m., March 12, Bethesda Park Senior Center. Open to any woman who was a Girl Scout prior to 1969. Cost to attend is $5 per person. Pre-registration is required by calling 770-564-4680 or visit www.gwinnettparks.com.
(NEW) Business after Hours: 5:30 p.m., March 13, Sears Store, 1428 Buford Highway, Buford. Each member business attending is eligible or drawing for GE 18 cubic foot refrigerator. Details: visit www.visitbuford.com.
(NEW) Blood Drive by the American Red Cross: Noon to 5 p.m., March 15, Norcross City Hall. Visit redcrossblood.org and enter "norcrosspolice" to schedule an appointment.
(NEW) Annual Dinner, Blaze 4 Life: 6 p.m., March 15, Happy Valley Restaurant, 5495 Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Norcross. Proceeds to support Blaze 4 Life, Inc. Violence Prevention Programs and promote human trafficking awareness in Gwinnett County.
NEXT WEEK AND ONGOING
(NEW) Soupbowl Benefit: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 17, Hudgens Center for the Arts, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. This third annual event will have over 300 handmade bowls for sale made by local artists. Each purchase includes a free serving of soup, chili and bread. Info: www.thehudgens.org or call 770-623-6002.
(NEW) Success Lives Here Breakfast: 7:30 a.m., March 23, Sugarloaf Country Club. Speaking will be Clyde and Sandra Strickland, Lawrenceville philanthropists, who are the 2012 Gwinnett Chamber Citizens of the Year. For more information, call 770 232-3000.
Open House at Georgia Gwinnett College, Lawrenceville: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 24. Included is an overview of the college plus sessions providing information about financial aid, student success programs, student clubs and majors. A special session is provided for parents. To learn more, go to www.ggc.edu.
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© 2001-2012, Gwinnett Forum.com is Gwinnett County's online community forum for commentary that explores pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.