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NUMBER ONE: Fans of Norcross High School were elated at the end of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAAA championship football game, which Norcross won 21-14. The Blue Devils came roaring back in the fourth quarter to capture their first state football championship over Lovejoy High. (Photo by Chuck Paul.)

Issue 12.69 | Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012

:: Forum offers European cruises

:: Halt sale of automatic weapons

The Bible and global warming

More on Army-Navy game, praise

Better traffic program, trail, more

:: Chamber honors, Lilburn awards


:: Precision Planning, Inc.

:: The Story of All of Us, Mankind

:: Thomas County native becomes poet

:: New grads in Braselton

:: Lots of events on tap

:: Bart Simpson and Christmas


ABOUT US 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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Consider overseas cruises to Holland, Portugal next spring!
Editor and publisher
| Permalink

DEC. 18, 2012 -- Okay, you adventurers thinking about traveling next year, let's go cruising! (It might be a good surprise Christmas gift for your spouse!)

Set for next spring, GwinnettForum is offering an overseas venture for those who enjoy world traveling. The destinations are Holland and Portugal, plus short visits in two other countries, Belgium and Spain.

In previous years, we have assembled groups of people to travel to other-world destinations. Back about 10 years ago, a group of 16 of us went to Alaska. Then a few years later, we were surprised to find 42 people anxious to visit in China. Both were marvelous journeys, coming off smoothly.

Last year we went alone to check out river cruises, to the Rhone River valley in France with Premier River Cruises. In talking to them about destinations, we have come up with first a popular cruise, that in Holland. Then they suggested a cruise to visit a country that many Americans pass by, Portugal. Those wishing to join the group may participate in either one or both of these cruises in Europe. After the first week's cruise, the group will fly directly to Porto, Portugal to begin the second week.

There is one catch: for space on cruise ships this late in the season, the availability is limited. So the date is fixed, with the sailing date for the Tulip Time trip to Holland of April 9, 2013. There will be a week on board AmaWaterways AmaLyra, moseying around Holland and Belgium, with the highlight (for me) of visiting the world famous Keukenhof Gardens in Holland, right at tulip time!

Then beginning on April 16, that's the sailing date for a trip in Portugal to explore that country's beautiful Douro River valley on board the AmaVida. There will even be one day's visit to Salamanca, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

So anyone reading GwinnettForum and even a little bit interested, should visit the web sites of the two cruises. Here are three sites to visit:

Prices for the tours are $2,799 and $2,899 (depending on what deck you are on) for the Tulip Time cruise, plus $147 port tax. For the Portugal leg of the trip, prices are from $3,169 to $3,469, plus another $147 port fee.

Airfare from Atlanta to Amsterdam, and the return from Lisbon to Atlanta, is $1,200. There is also a $450 ticket to fly from Amsterdam to Porto, Portugal.

So why a river cruise? Let's face it: river cruises are not for everyone. In general, it is an older group of passengers, who just simply like the idea of unpacking once during a week, and taking in the pleasures of the ship and the villages along the route, all done in a leisurely fashion. Enjoy the good cuisine of the ship, never having to search for just the perfect restaurant. Enjoy the complimentary wine and beer on the menu, and the activities that the ship's company presents, telling the history and the customs of the country you are visiting.

If you are interested, just let us know. Move quickly to guarantee space. Send me an email (, and we'll send you details of the two trips. We suggest that the overseas cruise will be something you will never forget!

Lawmakers: Move quickly to halt sales of automatic weapons
Editor and publisher |

DEC. 18, 2012 -- Even whisper anything about controlling guns, and the wrath of the National Rifle Association comes down on you in force.


Yet there must be even members of the NRA with a conscience who are troubled by the periodic outburst of relentless massacres of innocent people with automatic weapons. Surely some of the NRA members recognize that the United States must take steps, at least beginning steps, to control the outbursts and senseless killings by deranged people who spray down the innocent with repeated bullets from uncontrolled automatic weapons.

We suspect most Americans, perhaps even three-fourths of them, would recognize and applaud sportsmen and homeowners who want to own a gun, no matter the reason. Many also share the underlining basis of ownership, the Second Amendment "right to bear arms."

But certainly in this right to bear arms, most Americans don't think you should be allowed to own canons, howitzers, battleships, AK-47s and automatic pistols within the scope of this law. These weapons are something that defense forces need, not individual deer hunters, or people safeguarding their home.

Yet the senseless killing in Connecticut last week of 28 people, 20 of them first graders, should bring everyone in the country to a position of questioning how our nation allows individuals to have control of these weapons. Automatic guns are, essentially, weapons of mass destruction, in that they can inflict bodily harm to so many people so fast. No doubt many of those shot in the Connecticut school would have survived had they been shot only once with a single-shot weapon. But the automatic weapons can tear into anyone's body several times in a split second, pushing their killer powers to a higher degree.

Incidents such as our nation witnessed last week seem to be popping up far more often than in the past. Those thinking through the causes of these mass killings give more than one reason for how they come about. After all, we live in a complex society. It may take action on several fronts, over a great deal of time, to address these causes and take action to eliminate the causes.

Yet what is needed is relatively quick action, best driven by our national Congress, to take on the National Rifle Association, essentially a uniting of Democratic and Republican forces, who need to show they are fed up with the killings.

It is time to say to the NRA and others with their never-wavering agenda, simply "Enough!"

No one needs to ban all arms, or require registration across the board. What is needed is action to halt manufacturers and arms-dealers (even those in our own neighborhoods) from selling automatic weapons to anyone save the government. Put up the money to buy out these weapons from the dealers, and to halt immediately their manufacturing. Require stiff penalty, including prison, to any arms exec or dealer who violates this law. Let's get something solid done about dealing in automatic weapons, the sooner the better, so that our nation won't have to suffer through another mass killing.

So, hunters and those safeguarding your home, relent some! Tell Congress you want this limited action of banning the automatic weapons. And sleep better afterward, knowing your Second Amendment right to bear arms is still in effect just like the Revolutionary War soldiers had…..without automatic weapons.

As for the Congress, our nation should hold each Senator's and Representative's feet to the fire until they move into action.

We're fed up with mass killings. The USA needs to take on the NRA! We want the repeal of automatic weapon sales!

The Bible and global warming

Precision Planning, Inc.

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's underwriter is Precision Planning, Inc., a multi-disciplined design firm based in Lawrenceville, Georgia with a 30-year history of successful projects. In-house capabilities include Architecture; LEED® Project Management; Civil, Transportation and Structural Engineering; Water Resources Engineering; Landscape Architecture; Interior Design; Land and City Planning; Land Surveying; and Grant Administration. PPI has worked diligently to improve the quality of life for Georgia communities through creative, innovative planned developments, through the design of essential infrastructure and public buildings, and through promoting good planning and development principles. Employees and principals are involved in numerous civic, charitable and community based efforts in and around Gwinnett County. For more information, visit our website at or call 770-338-8103.

  • For a list of other underwriters of this forum, click here.

Why you need Army-Navy football game on your Bucket List

Editor, the Forum:

I read with interest your article about the Army-Navy Game, especially since I was there as well! I was across the field from you on the "proper side," that of the senior service, the Army. A long time ago, I was an Army officer, having received my commission through ROTC. My father before me had been an Army officer, so as the saying goes, my blood runs olive drab green.

On the field, the game was certainly another heartbreaker for Army. Eleven years in a row those Navy people have won! But off the field, what an exciting Woodstock of military patriotism! The game is billed as "America's Game" and I think the name is apt. All of us can take tremendous pride in what the game represents.

All in attendance were decked out in their respective team's colors and the good-natured ribbing started at the airport the night before. I rode a shuttle bus with one older gentleman wearing a Navy jacket indicating he was from the class of '47! He quickly sized me up after glancing at my Army Cavalry hat. After firing a few friendly shots at each other's team, we settled in to a nice conversation as if we'd known each other for years. That camaraderie is what I miss about not being in the Army.

Vendors were selling all manner of souvenirs, but there was one t-shirt in particular that caught my eye. It read "United 364/Rivals 1." And the United was in red, white and blue.

Finally, my seatmate on the flight home was a woman from Kennesaw who had no affiliation with the military at all, but had gone to the game to accompany a friend. She said the experience had been a thrill and had filled her with pride for this great country. America's Game is definitely worthy of being on anybody's bucket list and I encourage all your readers to get there as soon as they can.

-- Scott T. LeCraw, Suwanee

Army-Navy story prompts letter of son's accomplishments

Editor, the Forum:

The article on your going to the Army/Navy game this year in Philly, I gotta tell you, I've been there and had a tear in both eyes for the entire game.

You may remember that my son got accepted to the Naval Academy through the hard work of then Congressman Ed Jenkins and Former Superintendent of Schools J.W. Benefield. He served 24 years, achieved his Master's Degree in Monterey, Calif. and retired as a lieutenant commander. He flew the S3 Viking jets off several aircraft carriers. He is now employed with Target Stores.

While he was at the Naval Academy, he had the opportunity to play on the Lightweight Football team, which is for students that have talent but weigh no more than 155 pounds. While he was playing for the Academy, I was fortunate enough to attend their games against Army, and even had the opportunity to ride the team bus to the Army game at West Point.

During his career I also had another ride along trip on the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier where we cruised from Bermuda to Jacksonville. While onboard we watched the awesome display of talent by our country's top pilots and their support teams.

The events I was fortunate enough to have participated with my son will never be forgotten. My thanks go to Congressman Jenkins and Mr. Benefield, and of course to my son who served with distinction and gave his Pop a lot to talk about and remember.

Just thought you'd like to know.

-- Joe Staffieri, Cumming

Likes quality of GwinnettForum, coverage of wider community

Editor, the Forum:

I was just browsing the most recent Gwinnett Forum and was again reminded of what a pleasure it is to read a quality newsletter. I appreciate your thorough coverage of a [much] large[r] geographic area, with an eye to raising the sense of community.

-- Margot Ashley, Lilburn

  • We welcome your letters and thoughts. Our policy: We encourage readers to submit feedback (or letters to the editor). Send your thoughts to the editor at 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.

County to upgrade traffic management using NaviGAtor

Gwinnett commissioners have to upgrade the traffic management system at the Traffic Control Center by expanding use of the Georgia DOT's NaviGAtor system.

Gwinnett DOT Director Kim Conroy said, "This contract will improve our ability to monitor and manage traffic conditions across the County. It also integrates our system with police, fire, the 911 Center and the Emergency Operations Center, enabling them to monitor the state's cameras along I-85, which is critical to their incident management operations."

The upgrade will also add to the information available to motorists through GC Smart Commute, which currently provides live, streaming video of select major intersections from Gwinnett County traffic cameras. This resource is available online at and on TVgwinnett weekdays between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Once completed, the upgrade will allow commuters to select a specific intersection and receive a static image that will be updated every 1 to 2 minutes.

The 2009 SPLOST sales tax program will pay for the $341,763 contract with Delcan Corporation.

GGC receives $500,000 DOT grant for pedestrian pathways

GGC has been awarded a $500,000 Transportation Enhancement (TE) Grant by Georgia's Department of Transportation to implement a pedestrian pathways project. The project will connect the college's Admissions Building and the Valentine Building along Collins Hill Road to Building A, the Parking Deck, and University Center Lane near the campus' new loop road and varsity athletics complex.

Project design funding is provided by a $125,000 Infrastructure Project bond fund, much of which will be used for project concept planning, preliminary design, and construction documentation for the project before construction bids are issued in late 2013. The availability of these funds was a requirement of the grant, and GGC provided them as matching dollars to comply with the TE grant agreement.

The project will consist of footpaths, crosswalks, cart paths, sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and vehicle drop-off locations - all serving to connect the east and central sectors of the Georgia Gwinnett campus.

Eddie Beauchamp, vice president for Facilities and Operations, says: "This project will be a major step in the completion of our vision for the campus as a pedestrian friendly community. This transformation began last summer with the completion of a streetscape project near the Library and Building H. These projects will make traversing the campus much easier for those on foot."

Design work will begin in December 2012, with construction targeted to start in the fall of 2013. The project should be complete in early 2014.

DNR grant, SPLOST, combine to fund connecting trail

With help from a $100,000 Recreation Trails Grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Gwinnett commissioners have approved a new greenways trail connection in Lilburn.

The project will create a bike and pedestrian link from the Camp Creek Greenway to Lions Club Park, which is currently undergoing renovations. The new 0.8-mile trail will connect to the two-mile Camp Creek Greenway trail built by the City of Lilburn. The construction includes a new 700-foot boardwalk, asphalt trail and a 60-foot long concrete bridge underpass at Rockbridge Road along Camp Creek.

Long term plans include extending the trail south to Harmony Grove Park through the Camp Creek Greenspace at Lions Club Park.

Astra Group Inc. was the low bidder at $260,000. Construction is expected to take about 90 days. SPLOST program funds will cover the remaining cost to enhance the Gwinnett Greenways program.

Chamber winners of Citizen of Year and Public Service awards

Announcement has been made of outstanding Gwinnettians who will be honored at the 65th annual Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce awards dinner on February 1, 2013. The dinner will be in the Hughes Ballroom of Gwinnett Center in Duluth.


Winning the Citizen of the Year award is Barbara Howard of Suzanna's Kitchen of Duluth.

Other award winners include:

Public Service Awards:

  • Judge Stephen Franzen, Gwinnett Juvenile Courts;
  • Mayor Nancy Harris of Duluth;
  • Paige Havens of Lawrenceville;
  • Joe McCart, The McCart Group;
  • David McCleskey, Gwinnett Public Schools; and
  • Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, Gwinnett School Board Member.

Wayne Shackelford Legacy Award: Barbara King, Primerica Inc.

Scott Hudgens Humanitarian Award: Jackson Jinright Foundation and the Partnership Against Domestic Violence.

City of Lilburn honors employees for service, achievements

The City of Lilburn has recognized employees for their dedicated service and achievements. The City currently has 56 full-time and six part-time employees.

Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley presents Trey Taylor with the Bentley Cup Award for excellence in weapons qualifications.

Police Officer Trey Taylor received the first Bentley Cup Award. This new award is named after Stephen Bentley, a longtime Lilburn police officer who lost a battle with cancer earlier this year. The award goes to the officer who achieved the highest level of excellence during the annual weapons qualification. Taylor scored 97 percent. He has been with the department for three years.

Other service awards went to:

  • 25 Years: Veleta Bogar, Support Services Manager, Police Department; and Sergeant Grant Peehler, Police Department.

  • 10 Years: Ed Poste, Park Maintenance Worker.

  • 5 Years: Officer Andy Blimline, Police Department; Investigator Rob Kirschner, Police Department; and Michael White, Park Monitor.

  • New Hires: Melissa Penate, administrative clerk, City Hall; Officers Matt LeGerme, Daniel McCarty and Chris Hall, Police Department; Nikki Young, public relations manager; Paul Calcaterra, code enforcement officer; and Charles Milton, Public Works.

Gwinnett Tech promotes Post to VP of student affairs

Julie L. Post is Gwinnett Technical College's new vice president of student affairs.


She joined Gwinnett Tech in 2004, and has been in administration at Gwinnett Tech since 2005, focusing on institutional effectiveness since 2007. In that realm, she also managed the college's initiatives for Special Populations, Disability Services and Veteran's Affairs.

She also created and launched the college's Customer Care Center and oversees its operations. A graduate of Northern Kentucky University, Post earned a master's degree in the art of teaching from Marygrove College and will complete the doctoral program in workforce education at the University of Georgia this spring.

Mankind: The Story of All of Us
By Pamela D. Toler

"This book by Pamela D. Toler, Ph.D., published by the History Channel, is a winner! It follows the rise of man and civilization from caveman to astronaut. The book is also presented as a six-part series on Tuesday night on the History Channel. Being a former world history teacher, I would recommend this splendid book for all age groups. It begins appropriately with the discovery and use of fire, which allowed man to come out of Africa to colder climes. This book is profusely illustrated with color maps, tables and photographs on nearly every page. Another plus for this book is that it doesn't have to be read chronologically, since each unit is self-contained. The book would make anyone interested in history a perfect Christmas present. The only downside is no index, so take good notes!"

-- Frank Sharp, Lawrenceville

  • 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

Thomas County's Van K. Brock finds career as a poet
(Part 1 of 2)

As a poet who craved a connection with language from an early age, Van K. Brock began to contemplate a career in poetry while studying as an undergraduate at Emory University in Atlanta. Since his days there as both a student and a teacher, Brock has published several books of poetry.

Vandall Kline Brock was born on October 31, 1932, near Boston in Thomas County to Gladys Lewis, a teacher, and William Arthur Brock, a farmer. He first encountered poetry when his mother read it to him on a regular basis. He also began reading a great deal for himself. As a child, he told his mother that he wanted to be a poet.

At 16 Brock entered Florida State University in Tallahassee as an engineering major. He soon transferred to the Georgia Institute of Technology, where a humanities course caused him to change directions. He transferred to Emory University in the winter of 1952 to major in humanities and graduated two years later.

After attending Garrett Theological Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., from 1954 to 1956, Brock returned to Atlanta and began working in the Medical Records Department at Emory. While this job consumed his nights, he spent the rest of his time reading major contemporary poets and experimenting with his craft.

During this time Brock met Paul Engle, the director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, who asked him to enter the graduate program at the University of Iowa. Brock graduated with an M.A. in English in 1963 and an M.F.A. in poetry in 1964. He returned to Atlanta in 1964 and took a job teaching English, creative writing, and humanities courses at Oglethorpe University from 1964 to 1968. He then moved back to Iowa to complete his Ph.D. in modern letters, which he earned in 1970.

(To be continued)

New graduates

The second annual Citizens Academy of Braselton has graduated two citizens. Ed Roach, left, and Fred Irvin were recognized by the Town Council for their efforts. They are shown with Mayor Bill Orr in the center. The Academy is designed for an in-depth study of town operations including administration, finance, public works, library, police and municipal court, planning and development and its associated volunteer-entities including the Visitors Bureau Authority and Downtown Development Authority. Applications for the 2013 academy will be available in February.


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2012, Gwinnett 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.

Visit this site to see details of the upcoming funerals of Gwinnett Countians from local funeral homes. On the site, sign up at top right and we'll send you GwinnettObits each day.

Click on the names below to see details of their funerals.

Bart says we must remember the true meaning of Christmas, right?

"Aren't we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know... the birth of Santa."

-- That crazy cartoon kid, Bart Simpson (1979 - ).

Looking for that perfect, unique gift?

Consider a book about Gwinnett history.

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:

  • Atlanta History Center, Atlanta
  • Books for Less, Buford
  • Gwinnett Historical Society, Lawrenceville
  • Vargas and Harbin Gallery, Norcross

You can also order books through the Internet. To do that, go to 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.

Or call me (Elliott Brack) at 770 840 1003 and tell me how to dedicate a book to a friend (or to you) as he adds his signature!




(NEW) Lawrenceville Rings: 6 p.m. until midnight, Dec. 31, historic courthouse, downtown Lawrenceville. The 9th annual New Year's Eve Celebration will feature be family fun, inflatables, dancing, shopping, and at midnight, fireworks to usher in the new year. Free lawn seating for a 9 p.m. concert. Details online.


12/21: Fort Daniel, Chambliss
12/18: Ban assault weapons
12/14: Army-Navy game
12/11: Who stole American dream?
12/7: Lock 'em in a room
12/4: On Partnership Gwinnett

11/30: Hera Lighting
11/27: Voting out scalawags
11/20: Arts alive in Gwinnett
11/16: Hope Clinic needs help
11/13: Casino coming?
11/9: GOP and Georgia Dems
11/6: Early voting, more
11/2: Will Sandy impact election?

10/30: Georgia and GI Bill
10/26: Barge making name
10/23: Our 2012 endorsements
10/19: Pet peeves, more
10/15: Long plane flights
10/12: NO on Amendment 1
10/9: Elisha Winn Fair
10/5: Lots of construction
10/2: Texting while walking

9/28: WSB sets lower bar
9/25: State Archive fracas
9/21: Charter concerns
9/18: Benefits of living here
9/14: Continuing objectives
9/11: Trip to France, Spain
9/7: Community pride

8/31: Conversation on guns
8/24: More robocalls ahead
8/21: Newspaper museum
8/17: Seem easier to vote?
8/14: Western ridges, fall line
8/10: Runoff endorsements
8/7: New UGA health campus
8/3: Primaries raise more questions


12/21: Wiggins: Recycle trees
12/18: Two canal cruises to take
12/14: C. Brack: Give a little
12/11: Goodman: Suwanee's art
12/7: Duke: Director of Encouragement
12/4: Dorough: Food co-op

11/30: McHenry: CID redevelopment
11/27: Sutt: Gwinnett arts' questions
11/20: Urrutia: Grad wins award
11/16: Collins: Las Vegas
11/13: Barksdale: Storm prep
11/9: Houston: Kettle Creek
11/6: Stilo: Christmas Canteen
11/2: Crews: View Point Health

10/30: Willis: Amendment One
10/26: Brown: Doc's research
10/19: Hudgens Prize jurors picked
10/15: Urrutia: $2 million gift to GGC
10/12: Young: Lilburn city hall
10/9: Long: Charter schools
10/5: Jones: PGA golf to return
10/2: DeWilde: Suwanee's red code

9/28: Stilo: Pinter's Betrayal
9/21: Love: Model for Nigeria
9/21: Walsh: Childhood obesity
9/18: Ashley promoted
9/14: Wiener: CID's initiative
9/11: Olson: $50K Hudgens contest
9/7: Stilo: Acting classes for all

8/31: Havenga: Great Days of Service
8/24: Griswold: Casino for OFS site
8/21: Brooks: Taking the Megabus
8/17: Summerour: Newspaper family
8/14: Sharp: Newport visit
8/10: Thomas: On schizophrenia
8/7: Carraway: Amendment wording
8/3: Willis: Ready for school parents?


Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.

  • Development of a two-party system for local offices
  • Transparent operations to restore faith in Gwinnett's County Commission
  • Moving statewide non-partisan judge election runoffs to the General Election
  • Light rail for Gwinnett from Doraville MARTA station to Gwinnett Arena
  • Extension of Gwinnett Place CID area to include Arena and Discovery Mills Mall
  • Banning of tobacco in all Gwinnett parks
  • Making Briscoe Field a commercial airport for jet-age travel
  • Approval of Educational SPLOST in 2013
  • More diverse candidates for political offices and appointment to local boards
  • Physical move of former St. Gerard's Catholic Church in Buffalo, N.Y., to Norcross
  • Creative efforts to support the arts in Gwinnett
  • Advancement and expansion of city and Gwinnett historical societies
  • Stronger regulation of late-night establishments with alcoholic licenses


2001-2012, Gwinnett 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.

PHONE: 770.840.1003

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