Issue 12.77 | Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013
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., Jan. 22, 2013 -- Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash asked
every resident and business owner in Gwinnett "to be informed, to
get involved, and to stay in touch" with county government this year.
Her remarks came in the annual State of the County address to community
and business leaders on Wednesday at Gwinnett Center, hosted by the Gwinnett
Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Quality Growth.
"From the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression to wrongdoing
by now-former commissioners, Gwinnett has taken hard hits over the last
few years." She pointed to a tax digest that declined four years
in a row and is now at the 2005 level. Sales tax revenues dropped from
$13 million in 2006 to less than $10 million in 2009 but rose last year
to $11.6 million.
contained a quick review of 2012 accomplishments and emphasized a revised
ethics ordinance, a strict land-acquisition policy, expanded transparency,
funding a senior investigator to focus on potential corruption, and more
accessibility through town hall meetings, listening sessions, and technology.
JAN. 22, 2013 -- If you are planning to buy any crown molding, or other material that really enhances nice-looking buildings, watch out! We saw an abundance of beautiful material in Sugar Hill and Buford recently, to make us think these two cities may have bought out the high-end quality market on building supplies.
We're raving about the new Sugar Hill City Hall, and the Buford Community Center, each beautiful in the way they have been finished out. Both cities built these two facilities for the long-range future, with high quality materials, made them both gorgeous, and essentially paid cash for them.
The Sugar Hill City Hall is three stories, and is built with plenty of space for future expansion. There's reason: it's built to last for 75 years, so, as City Manager Bob Hail says, "Why not build it right?" The Hall consists of 33,000 square feet, and cost $11 million.
But worry not: Sugar Hill was prudent in putting aside money for several years, then adding SPLOST funds to the kitty, and paid cash for the new City Hall without going into debt. That's good use of public funds.
Of classic design, with a big two-story atrium off the front entrance, the foyer has staircases up to the third floor on both sides. More than 150 people can be seated in the Council Chambers. Elected officials have a private area off the Chambers where they can deliberate and meet with constituents. Two overflow rooms downstairs can also host another 150 people. The archives and other offices are also in the basement. And yes, the building has its own post office as the old City Hall did.
The $17 million, 40,000 square foot Buford Community Center has been opened for a while, but we had not visited. We were there for a meeting of the North Gwinnett-Buford Rotary Club.
The two key elements of the building are a Community Room, which can seat 300 people, and the two-story Sylvia Beard Theatre for live performances, with seating for 290 people. The Community Room is on the right of the third floor, while the theatre takes the left side of the building on floors two and three. When we were there last week, a theatre-group was in rehearsal on the stage, (and didn't notice us peeking in.) There's more: an outdoor amphitheatre with space for 1,800, a plaza with interactive fountain, and smaller meeting rooms. It also has space for the Buford Museum, which is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on evenings when theatre events take place.
Coming in the second floor you are impressed with the classic design and the soaring two-floor ceiling, all trimmed in dark wood molding and panels. It takes your breath away, and says loud and clear: "We're proud of this place, and plan to use it for many years." It's on Buford Highway across Hill Street from the also-classic Buford City Hall. Across Buford Highway is the relatively new Buford Village center, with many business spaces not filled yet, but which promises to be the center of Buford in the future.
The Buford Community Center is "paid for," Commissioner Philip Beard tells us, "though we borrowed money for it to begin with, not knowing what the economy would do. But now we have escrowed money in the bank to pay for it, but face a penalty if we do. So you can say it's paid for."
a lot of pride showing in the new Sugar Hill City Hall and Buford Community
Center. You can tell. It's worth a trip from anywhere in Gwinnett to see
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Editor, the Forum:
Those under fire have learned that when you are in trouble on policy positions, like Wayne LaPierre and the NRA, you do what many leaders and people do:
Let's start from the top with number one. Many schools have security officers, Virginia Tech and Columbine did and it didn't help. In the 62 mass-murder cases over 30 years, not one was stopped by an armed civilian. We have known for many years that a sheriff's deputy was at Columbine High School in 1999 and fired at one of the two killers while 11 of their 13 victims were still alive. He missed four times.
Do we also include guards at most locations where people congregate; i.e., political meetings, movies, ball games, etc.?
The expense for schools would be about $6 to 7 billion. Who pays? The Republicans have over the last ten years cut $5 billion from schools in Georgia. Where will schools get the money? Perhaps a special tax on bullets and guns could be passed?
Now the number two argument: Japan is noted for its extremely violent video games, yet the per capita deaths by guns is very small. This also applies to Germany, Canada, Great Britain, and other countries. They also look at the same movies we do and play the same video games.
The third argument is that the gun industry is enjoying a boom as five percent of the world's population in the United States owns 50 percent of all guns. Wayne LaPierre is paid over $1 million a year in salary. This money comes from the gun industry and the four million members of the NRA, keeping all in a constant state of agitation and fear in order to keep the money coming in.
In the name of greed, just deny it.
The Duluth Gateway Art Project Committee (GAPC) and Mayor Nancy Harris have narrowed to three finalists for an original art work to be installed in the center of the newly constructed roundabout located at the intersections of West Lawrenceville Street, McClure Bridge Road and Irvindale Road. Originally, 85 letters of intent were received from around the country, and that list was then shortened to 18 artists.
Art Project finalists are:
will be given a honorarium to produce a model of the concept and will
be interviewed in February before the final decision is made. This roundabout,
in an historic residential setting, is considered a "gateway"
into downtown Duluth. The work is expected to become a significant icon
and important symbol to welcome people into the heart of Duluth.
2013 Barbara Award to honor Sandra and Clyde Strickland
Aurora Theatre will present the 2013 Barbara Awards Gala Celebration on Monday, February 11, 2013 at 7 p.m. Named in honor of arts philanthropist Barbara Howard, this year the award will honor a couple who helped build Aurora Theatre's new home and for whom its stage is named, Sandra and Clyde Strickland.
providing the lead gift for Aurora Theatre's Creating the Castle Capital
Campaign, they continue their critical support as season sponsor and sustaining
patron. Sandra and Clyde Strickland have been a vibrant part of our community
for many years, and have become active philanthropists. In the last few
years alone, they have given generously to the Gwinnett Medical Center,
Hope Clinic, and Rainbow Village. Their other philanthropies include Gwinnett
Historical Society; American Cancer Society; Habitat for Humanity, and
the Central Gwinnett Cluster Foundation. February 11 will be an opportunity
for all to honor their many contributions to this area.
for the Barbara Awards are $40 per person or $75 per couple and include
a $25 per person tax-deductible donation. Heavy hors d'oeuvres by Celebrate
the Occasion Catering will be served, along with a cash bar.
The article included some misinformation about the property located across from the Forum (on Peachtree Parkway). This article has, unfortunately, perpetuated discussion based on that erroneous information. First, let me assure you that we all share a desire to see quality development across from the Forum and we also share a complete lack of interest in seeing another apartment complex developed there. While we have made, and continue to make, concerted efforts to prevent that from happening, we're dealing with some significant constraints that were handed down to us.
This property was zoned for apartments as part of a legal settlement between Roberts Properties and Gwinnett County. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a consent order on Oct. 22, 2001 mandating that the property be rezoned RM-13, specifically for apartments.
The County Commission had denied Roberts' request for rezoning; but after the court ruling, the County not only had to rezone the property for apartments, but had to pay Mr. Roberts $390,000 to cover his legal fees.
As a result of this ruling, the City (of Peachtree Corners) has no legal basis to change that zoning decision or in any way deny the owner their property rights. As much as we might want to, the City Council cannot overturn a court decision.
However, the City can try to mitigate some of the impacts of this development.
For example, the original property was one large parcel zoned for approximately 297 apartments. At this time, the property is planned for development as three parcels, two of which are now designated as commercial. Those commercial developments will reduce the overall number of apartments that may be built on the remaining parcel, which is still zoned for apartments. We have held, and will continue to hold, many meetings with the proposed purchaser in an effort to persuade them to develop a project more acceptable to our community. We are also seeking parties who might be interested in partnering with the proposed purchaser to change the nature of the development. These efforts will continue until there is no time left to us.
The article in the Patch states that the apartment plans will have to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and will ultimately need the City Council's approval to proceed. This is just not true. If the plans meet the building and zoning code requirements, the city will be obligated to issue a development permit. We don't have the ability to reject a permit application if all the codes have been met. You can be assured that we will do everything that we can, legally, concerning this property. But also understand that we are just as disappointed that there are limitations to what we can legally do.
State-approved Gwinnett Place area as opportunity zone
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in partnership with Gwinnett County, Gwinnett Place CID and Gwinnett Chamber Economic Development, has approved an Opportunity Zone in the Gwinnett Place area. The incentive, which is available for new or existing businesses that create two or more new net jobs to Georgia, offers the State's maximum job tax credit-$3,500 per job-and additional credits to be used against the business's income tax liability and state payroll withholding.
Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash says: "We congratulate Gwinnett Place on this achievement and look forward to the positive economic impact the zone will have on our community. The implementation of this Opportunity Zone will strongly benefit local businesses and will continue to put Gwinnett at a competitive advantage in its recruitment efforts."
Designed to foster job growth and revitalization, Opportunity Zones assist areas with a strong economic base, but in need of redevelopment, by providing tax incentives to generate the creation of new jobs. Opportunity Zones allow businesses located within its boundaries to enjoy the waiver, abatement or exemption of certain state taxes, while promoting additional investment into the community.
To become eligible for the tax credit incentives offered through the Gwinnett Place Opportunity Zone program, a business is first required to submit a formal application and receive eligibility approval from the DCA, while also creating and maintaining two or more net new jobs for the State of Georgia. Since the OZ designation is retroactive to the beginning of 2012, companies that added jobs in the OZ in 2012 are also eligible to receive the tax credits.
massive six volume masterpiece biography was a Christmas gift. It's a
daunting, 3,500 page treatise on the life of Lincoln, from the Prairie
Years to his time as president. Yet now after I have finished the first
volume (up to 1850), I can report why this is such a distinguished treasure
to read: the lyricism of the writing of Sandburg propels you to the next
chapter. It's more than a story of Lincoln, though in itself that part
is wonderful. But it is also a social history of the time, giving you
not a glimpse, but an understanding of what each element of that period
means. Sandburg writes beautifully, though long, to make sure the reader
understands. You see why this work is held in high esteem by scholars
everywhere. The task now is to finish the other five books, but the effort
is more looked forward to, than daunting, with one book under my belt."--eeb
In 1926 John Donald Wade left the University of Georgia. The next year he became assistant editor of the Dictionary of American Biography (for which he wrote 116 sketches) and devoted himself to researching a second book. The subject of this new biography was John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, to which Wade's family had been devoted for generations. As biography, John Wesley (1930) is exemplary, though its literary style and occasional use of irony engendered confusion and even contempt in some Methodist circles.
In 1928 Wade was recruited by Vanderbilt University to direct its newly formed graduate program in American literature. Here he soon fell in with a group of scholars and writers who were enthusiastically engaged in writing and talking about the South and its future in an increasingly modern world. After the Dayton, Tenn., Scopes "monkey" trial in 1925 provoked the widespread ridicule of traditional southern values, these "Twelve Southerners," as they called themselves, responded with a defiant symposium that extolled the southern agrarian life and the virtues it embodied, while decrying the rapid spread of industrialism and urbanization. It was Wade who titled the book I'll Take My Stand, and his contribution, "The Life and Death of Cousin Lucius," is often called the most entertaining and readable piece in the collection.
Predictably taking the form of a biographical sketch, the essay is based on the life of Jacob Walter Frederick, Wade's maternal uncle and a man who embodied the "southern way of life" as defined by many of the book's other contributors. Frederick (fictionalized as "Cousin Lucius") is described as hard working, self-reliant, learned, and tradition bound. As he grows older and times change, Cousin Lucius sees the new generation of young people leaving for the city and recognizes that they desire and expect "without effort, things that have immemorially come as the result of effort only." Wade vividly but dispassionately dramatizes Frederick's life, avoiding the temptation to comment on its lessons until the final two sentences of the essay: "And all who wish to think that he lived insignificantly and that the sum of what he was is negligible, are welcome to think so. And may God have mercy on their souls."
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"McGill had this pursuit of the stony truth just built into him, no matter where the chips had to fall. And so he taught me to tell the truth, to quit beating around the bush, to quit hiding my convictions, in the hope of pleasing my readers, but instead to lead."
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.
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!
SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM
"Flesh eating bacteria" is the subject of the Health To You general meeting at the Snellville Senior Center, on Wednesday, January 23, at 2 p.m. Presenting the program will be Dr. Karuna Kusan, chairperson of the Infection Control Committee at Eastside Medical Center.
(NEW) Ribbon Cutting at Briscoe Park: 10 a.m., Jan. 25, in Snellville. This will mark the completion of Phase II A of recent renovations at the park. Engineering for this project was by HDR Engineering, with Reeves Construction doing the project.
(NEW) Business Owner's Day at Capitol: 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Jan. 31, Floyd Room on the 20th floor of the West Twin Towers Building. State Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick of Lithonia will host this second annual event., along with Reps. Karen Bennett, Brett Harrell and Ron Ramsey. To learn more about the event or to RSVP, visit this site.
Bob, a new play, by American playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, continues through February 10 at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville. Armed with nothing but an unfailing optimism, Bob is the epic, fast-paced comedy of one man's desire for greatness. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Call 678-226-6222 or visit online for details.
Civil War Lecture Series at the Lovett School, 4075 Paces Ferry Road in Atlanta, continues a series of four lectures, on Thursday, January 31, at 6 p.m. The next speaker will be Dr. George W. McDaniel, executive director of Drayton Hall, a National Trust historic site, in Charleston, S.C. His topic will be "The Civil War, Vietnam and the Shaping of Values." Reservations are requested via (404) 262-3032, ext. 1717.
Water Conservation Workshop: 7 p.m. Feb. 7. at Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville. Attendees will receive indoor and outdoor water efficiency kits and a do-it-yourself home water guide. For more information about the workshop, send an email or call (678) 376-6722.
(NEW) Kick-Off Meeting for 2013 of Peachtree Corners Business Association: 7:30 a.m., Feb. 11, Peachtree Corners Marriott. Get details by email.
MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE
CONTINUING OBJECTIVES FOR GWINNETT
Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.
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