COUNTRY COMPARISON: Life in Romania is compared to life in Gwinnett in Today's Focus by a recent Gwinnett visitor on a dental mission team. Above is a "common scene for transportation in Jibou, Romania." Read more below about how one Gwinnettian viewed this undeveloped life in Romania.
CORRECTION: We had photo problems in the last issue. There were two incorrect photos published in the last edition. Here is a photo of Heather Hatzenbuhler, one of the winners at the University of Georgia of the prestigious Udall Scholarship. In addition, in a story about the upcoming LDS choir and Gwinnett Community Band, an incorrect picture appeared, that of the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra & Choir. We regret both errors, and simply want to make you aware of them.--eeb
Issue 12.04 | Friday, April 13, 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.
Beginning today, GwinnettForum is introducing a new service to the people of Gwinnett County. It is starting the publication of GwinnettObits.com, a site published each day that will announce the funeral arrangements of people who have died recently in Gwinnett County. The information is made available through the cooperation of local funeral homes.
Information on deaths is posted each day about 6 p.m. Readers can visit the site to learn of recent deaths, or GwinnettObits will automatically send you notice of deaths if you sign up to receive emails daily. Our hope is for you to benefit from this service to learn of all Gwinnett funeral notices at one convenient site.
Click here to see today's obituaries at the new site.
AUBURN, Ga., April 13, 20112 -- Compelled by an invitation from the youth pastor at our Hebron Baptist Church, I recently traveled to Romania with my 13 year old son as a part of a mission team to a small town in northwest Romania, Jibou (Salaj County). We went with absolutely no expectations of what we might encounter, but excited for the opportunity.
During our time there, we discovered beautiful countrysides and an abundance of hospitality from a people who are surprisingly warm despite a cold and oppressive history. We found the people of Romania to be hard-working and hospitable. All have working gardens and animals they raise. They gave new meaning to the phrase, "If you do not work, you will not eat." That was literally the case.
They opened their schools and orphanages with eagerness to allow our dentistry team to treat and educate the children. They have a hunger to hear about Jesus and His message of hope for every person. And, they opened their hearts to show us kindness and generosity in return.
One memorable visit was with a 94 year old man. He grabbed my attention quickly with stories of battles he fought in World War II. As we communicated via our translator, I quickly came to realize that he had fought on the "other side" during the war. When asked about it, he responded by explaining that once Romania fell, he was forced to fight for the Nazis or suffer sure death in prison. There are some things for which no translation is needed. He proudly said that he had been a Christian for over 64 years, even through Communist rule.
While a prisoner of war, an "Englishman" had given him a Bible, which became his source of hope. He asked me if I was friends with Billy Graham. Amused, I told him that I knew him just as he did, through radio and TV. He was quick to share that he believed the Billy Graham Crusade in Communist Romania in the 1980s was the tipping point for the fall of Communism in his country. He was a happy gentleman full of stories, energy, and hope.
Hope -- it's a powerful and necessary tool for survival. And, survival is exactly what is at stake for this community. While we saw personal growth among the people, we also saw a failing infrastructure, a regressive 24 percent sales tax, $7.50/gallon for gas, and teacher salaries of $250 to $300 a month. From the first day, it was evident that significant demographic challenges faced this area (and frankly most of Romania). I spent the first evening of the trip researching the demographics to outline quantitatively what I was seeing in person.
The numbers speak for themselves:
This area exhibited eight times the "senior" population that we normally see every day in Gwinnett. As the trip continued, the stark demographic phenomenon became clearer through a new word, not commonly used anywhere in the United States -- emigration. Emigration, not immigration, that is, to leave one's country to settle in another. This area has experienced a 30 percent population decrease year after year for decades.
While we face many challenges in Gwinnett with the influx of people from all over the world, this part of Europe has been facing years of an exodus of its working class, mainly because of lack of opportunity. As a director for community improvement, I found myself wondering what could be done for the survival and stamina of their town's economy.
Needless to say, I have returned with a renewed energy and a greater appreciation for the freedoms and privileges we enjoy in our country. My son and I made this trip to Romania to offer hope and encouragement to the people, and found it offered to us in return.
APRIL 13, 2012 -- Real estate developers seek to get the "highest and best" use of any tract of land. If worked right, they get the highest prices for that land, since it is being used for the greatest revenue that the land can produce. Translated: the developer makes more money out of it.
In reality, the landowner does not even control this. Regulations of the various cities and counties, the zoning, often dictate "best use."
What would be the "highest and best" use of land at the intersection of Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Interstate 85, the property where Western Electric and it successor companies once thrived? Today the company owning the land is OSF, a Japanese fiber optic manufacturer. OFS uses only a small part of this tract, and would like to market the rest of the property.
The economic downturn hasn't helped in marketing this site. Though several firms have sought its development, none have succeeded. So out of this morass, one developer sees an opportunity: use the land as the site of a gambling casino, anticipated to bring in immediate development for the 122 acres that OFS is not using .and attracting gambling revenue to the area like magic.
This idea is presently in the hands of the Georgia Lottery Commission. Some feel that the Lottery officials have the authority to make this island for re-development into a gambling site without the vote of any government or of the people. The thinking is that if it is a facility that could channel dollars into the Georgia Lottery, and therefore into the Hope Scholarships, then the citizens of Georgia have already granted that authority when they voted originally for the lottery.
While the majority of Georgians approved the idea of a lottery back in 1992, the people of Georgia never realized that they were also approving open casino-type gambling in this vote. All they thought they were voting for was the simple "chance" of purchasing lottery tickets in order to fund scholarships for bright students to attend Georgia colleges.
If the Lottery officials now want to maintain that Georgians were voting for open gambling back in 1992, this question should be tested through the court system. It should not be imposed automatically by fiat from an appointed Lottery Board.
Some people will be bugged by the fact that Georgians, especially those in Gwinnett County where developers want to locate the casino, apparently do not get a vote on this question. The way the Lottery officials are moving, even the Gwinnett County Commission would not have veto power over such a lucrative gambling casino.
It makes you wonder.
Right now all this casino talk is predicated on the fact that the Hope Scholarship, funded by the Georgia Lottery, is in financial trouble, already cutting back on grants to students, and anticipating the day when it could not pay as now for college for bright Georgia students.
All this has been caused by (1) high school grade inflation; (2) the unregulated and continued increases in state college tuition; and (3) more students qualifying for the Hope Scholarship.
In the next few weeks, look for more movement toward gambling in Georgia. And the sad part is that the land involved may not get its "highest and best use" but will simply become another piece of land under-utilized but benefitting developers and casino operators.
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Editor, the Forum:
I agree with your views on e-mails. If I didn't want an e-mail read, I wouldn't have sent it.
Now, about text messages: I absolutely refuse to read or respond to them. First, they cost money; second, they demand a response RIGHT NOW and I'm usually not prepared to do that; and third, they're a pain.
I have a physical address, a mailing address, a personal land line phone (with answering machine,) a company land line phone (with phone mail), a personal cell phone (with phone mail), a company cell phone (again, with phone mail). a personal e-mail address and a company e-mail address. That's eight different ways of contacting me. If you can't reach me one of those ways, you aren't really trying. Text messaging will not likely help you reach me if those don't do the job.
Piles of unread emails is new status symbol ... for jerks
Editor, the Forum:
I believe some people think unread emails are the new status symbol. The more unread emails you have, the busier and more important you must be. These are some of the same folks who had the first "brick" mobile phones, first netbooks, first iPads, etc., to enhance their status. You might also notice their voice mail box is always full and they will always be in a meeting if you drop by to see them.
In many cases you will notice underneath that brusque, "I'm too busy" exterior, dwells an insecure, boorish person who will make a lousy friend and an even worse customer or business associate. Finally, if you are unfortunate to work for someone like this, you would be well served to find another job.
How does this guy manage 10,848 emails in his inbox?
Editor, the Forum:
I appreciate your position, but in my industry, I am pounded by so many emails that I only open maybe 20 percent at best. If one is on Facebook or other professional networks, emails will come from all kinds of solicitors. Everyone wants me to sell their stuff. I have 10,848 emails in my Inbox right now. A big chunk is political, but most of it is business.
The Red Clay Theatre in Duluth will present the Atlanta Workshop Players Company's The Wiz, a fanciful, mysterious, funky adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, on Saturday, April 28 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sunday, April 29 at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the theater at 3116 Main Street, Duluth.
The entire family will enjoy Dorothy's adventures in the Land of Oz set to music in a dazzling mixture of rock, gospel and soul. With driving rhythms and soaring songs, this show radiates so much energy you can hardly sit in your seat!
Director Lynn Stallings says, "What a privilege it is to work with Jillian Hanes and the stellar cast and crew of The Wiz. They are gonna rock the house!"
tickets are $15 each and are available
online. Tickets are available for $12 each for groups of ten or more.
As the City of Suwanee begins to consider its fiscal year 2013 budget, the City invites residents to send comments and suggestions by April 23 to email@example.com. The budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, is expected to be adopted at the June 26 City Council meeting.
"We want to implement a mechanism that allows citizens to offer input on the upcoming budget earlier in the planning process," says City Manager Marty Allen. "We want to ensure that citizens' concerns, ideas, and priorities are considered through this process."
Suwanee's fiscal year 2012 budget is approximately $11.8 million with a millage rate of 5.65. FY2012 general operating budget funds were allocated as follows (click here to see pie chart):
Approaching the seventh anniversary of its opening, The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett, a non-profit organization, expects to deliver more than 6,000 medical appointments in 2012. Opening its doors in Lawrenceville in June 2005, the goal of the Center is to provide primary, non-urgent health care services to the uninsured poor of Gwinnett County and surrounding areas. A faith-based organization staffed almost entirely by volunteers, the Center strives to meet the physical and spiritual needs of its patients. Gwinnett County is home to more than 180,000 uninsured people.
Gregory E. Lang, executive director, says: "We logged just over 1,400 appointments in the first quarter. The need for our services is clear, and I'm pleased to work with a group of volunteers so willing to respond to the call."
During 2011, the Center was initially open only two days per week and then eventually three days. Since January the Center has been open five days per week, offering medical service four days and counseling services on the fifth day. "We are currently supported by the efforts of 38 active medical volunteers and countless para-professional volunteers," Lang says. "We have not had to reduce our new schedule by even one hour because of a volunteer shortage." The Center sees patients by appointment, but often accepts walk-ins. It is located at 3700 Club Drive in Lawrenceville.
Typically, the uninsured have few choices when in need of on-going medical care. Going to the emergency room for treatment of non-emergent services is financially overwhelming, and although many physicians discount their fees for the uninsured, the fee must still be sufficient to fund a payroll. "We are not a free clinic," Lang explains, "but we are able to offer very low flat fees thanks to the thousands of hours of professional labor donated to us." Last year the Center received nearly 5,000 volunteer hours valued at $205,000.
Yet, the Center faces staffing challenges. Although volunteers may serve for an extended time, they eventually move on to other commitments. "It often takes four to six people to fill one full-time roll," Lang says. The Center specifically needs physician and nurse practitioner volunteers, as well as bilingual individuals willing to translate medical terminology for its large number of Latino patients. Lang also works with physicians who cannot see patients at the Center but who wish to volunteer services in their own offices.
In spite of its operational success, a second, more threatening, challenge looms on the near horizon. The non-profit's mortgage comes due in less than a year, and the downturn in the real estate market has hurt the Center in the same way as it has hurt many others - its Club Drive property is no longer worth as much as is owed on it. "We need to raise $150,000 in the next ten months so that we might successfully refinance our mortgage," Lang says. "We provide an invaluable service to the community and I believe that is recognized by many; I'm sure we will somehow become able to settle this debt."
The coastal and offshore waters of Georgia provide a tremendous and varied resource. The continental shelf off Georgia is about 80 miles wide and is the widest in the South Atlantic Bight, which extends from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to Cape Hatteras, N.C. The Gulf Stream marks the eastern boundary of the shelf.
With respect to natural resources, commercially important fishes such as snapper and grouper collect along bottom reefs throughout the middle of the shelf waters. Numerous commercial and recreational migratory fish also pass through these waters seasonally, including Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, wahoo, and dolphin fish. Several migratory species are known to spawn in the offshore waters, often near the Gulf Stream: these include menhaden, bluefish, mackerel, and squid. On the inner shelf the shrimp fishery provides a large fraction of the total value of the seafood industry.
The offshore waters are also the migratory routes of several species of marine turtles, which nest on Georgia beaches; several of these species are threatened throughout their ranges, so the hatching success on Georgia beaches is critical. The extremely endangered North Atlantic right whale, currently thought to number less than 350, uses the shelf waters off Georgia and northeastern Florida during winter as its calving grounds.
Because of the value of the offshore natural resources, scientific research in the coastal and offshore waters of Georgia has been conducted since the 1970s.
The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, located in Savannah, is an autonomous research unit of the University of Georgia. Research activities at the institute are conducted on scales ranging from local economic and environmental issues to global processes and phenomena. In addition, the Skidaway Institute serves regional and statewide educational and management needs for access to marine research facilities. Coastal marshes and nearshore water are studied at the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island.
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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.
Encountering others often rekindles our spirits
"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
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
Show extended: The well-received musical, Clyde n Bonnie: A Folktale, has been extended at the Aurora Theatre through April 15. Many performances are sold out. For tickets, order by phone 678-226-6222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plein air painting event in Buford, April 13-14. A reception highlighting the two days of artists' work will be April 14 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Tannery Row Artist's Gallery. Paintings will be for sale, including a Live Auction on April 15 at 7:30 p.m.
(NEW) Walk MS: Georgia 2012: Registration starts at 8 a.m., April 14, with the Walk starting at 10 a.m. At Piedmont Park in Atlanta. This is a 5K walk to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. A Closer Look, Inc. of Norcross, a nationwide mystery shopping company has chosen the MS WALK as its primary charity for over 20 years. For more information, click here.
(NEW) Community Gardens is the topic of the night at the next meeting of the Greater Gwinnett Group of the Sierra Club. Next meeting is 7 p.m. April 19 at Berkmar High School. Fred Conrad, Community Garden coordinator, with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, will be the speaker, talking of how to plan for one, and how they work in urban environments, how individual HOAs or condo communities can have one. Email for more info.
The Old Snellville School will be the topic of the Snellville Historical Society meeting: 2:30 p.m., April 15, Snellville City Hall. Clark Britt will host the program, which will have several class members talking about the past. Class photographs will also be on display.
SMTA Expo: 9:30 a.m. To 4 p.m., April 19, Gwinnett Civic Center in Duluth, open from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. This is the electronics industrys Surface Mount Technology Association free annual trade show and presentation. For more information, go online to this page.
SOON AND ONGOING
Ribbon-cutting and blessing of new building of Rainbow Village: Noon, April 20, at 3427 Highway 120 in Duluth. An open house of the new facilities will continue until 7 p.m. A complimentary lunch will be provided by Sandra and Clyde Strickland.
(NEW) Fourth Annual Senior Lifestyle Showcase: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., April 21, Bethesda Senior Center, 225 Bethesda Church Road. The Showcase will have products and services specifically cater to senior's lifestyles. For more information call (770)-822-5147 or visit gwinnettcouncilforseniors.org.
Car Show at Vines Botanical Gardens: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 5. This is the second annual show sponsored by St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Snellville. There will be a Kids' Zone, vendors, and unique crafts and products from local artisans. Admission is free. Visit www.stmattscarshow.com for more details.
Snellville Days Festival: May 5-6, T.W. Briscoe Park on Lenora Church Road in Snellville. The annual parade will start from Wisteria Drive on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. For more details, visit www.snellvilledays.com.
Beauty and the Beast Ballet, presented by Northeast Atlanta Ballet at Gwinnett Center in Duluth: 7:30 p.m., May 18, and 3 p.m., May 20.
MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE
© 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.