6/27: Electric service increasing; Pressures on republic; Dem gains

GwinnettForum  |  Number 17.25  |  June 27, 2017  

GWINNETT’S GEORGIA SWARM lacrosse team are national champions. Governor Nathan Deal recognized the team’s honor with a proclamation recently. Mike Poulin, Swarm goaltender, is at the left; Governor Deal; Andy Arlotte, Swarm co-owner and president; and Maj. Gen. Joe Jarrard, adjutant general, is on the right. The Georgia Swarm brings to Atlanta only the second national sports championship, with the Atlanta Braves bringing championship honors in 1995.
TODAY’S FOCUS: Area’s Growing As Request for New Electric Service on Upward Trend
EEB PERSPECTIVE: Comments From Readers Show Pressures on Our Democratic Republic
ANOTHER VIEW: World’s Not Ending For Losing Democrats; Math Shows Major Gains
SPOTLIGHT: Walton Electric Membership Corporation
FEEDBACK: Success of Rainbow Village Came from Nancy Yancey’s Hard Work
UPCOMING: Re-Paving of Ronald Reagan Parkway Continues through August
NOTABLE: Lilburn Police Will Offer Junior Women’s Self Defense Class
RECOMMENDED MOVIE: Silent Light: from Carlos Reygadas Barguin
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Georgia Still Trying To Correct Camak’s Northern Boundary Error
TODAY’S QUOTE: Here’s Another good Definition of Summertime
MYSTERY PHOTO: Tell Us Where This Stunning Statue Is Located
LAGNIAPPE: Here’s a Photo of the Oldest Church in Gwinnett County
CALENDAR: Lilburn Planning Annual Fireworks Exhibit

Area’s growing as request for new electric service on upward trend

By Greg Brooks, Monroe, Ga.  |  Thousands of Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) customer-owners and their families at the cooperative’s recent annual meeting learned that requests for new electric service are on an upward trend.

CEO Ronnie Lee told the audience:  “Georgia is growing again. We see new homes and businesses coming out of the ground all around us. In just 20 years, our state is expected to grow by 4.6 million more people. That’s double the amount of people who moved here since 2000.”

Lee told the group that planning for the electricity needs of growth on this scale must be done decades in advance. “It became essential to build more power plants. Construction on two new units at Plant Vogtle began in 2009 and is still underway today,” said Lee.

Although the company building the plants, Westinghouse, has recently been in the news for bankruptcy, Lee said the decision to expand Vogtle was still a good one. “The main thing you need to know is that whatever happens, your co-op’s board and management are looking out for you and will do whatever is in your best interest,” said Lee.

Customer-owners also learned Walton EMC continues to have some of the state’s lowest rates – and even when costs rise and increases become necessary – they should remain reasonable.

Board Chair Dan Chelko of Centerville adds: “The recent [Georgia Public Service Commission] report for the winter season showed that we were one of the least-priced electric utilities in the state. I’m very proud to report that we are financially sound and our employees are dedicated to supporting our mission of reliable energy at the lowest possible cost.”

Chelko also talked about the challenge of cybersecurity. “The subject…comes up at meetings with other cooperative leaders at local, state and national meetings,” said Chelko. “Guidelines and regulations are in place to keep our systems safe and reliable.”

Three directors were re-elected to three-year terms. Those include Tommy Adcock of the Good Hope district, Dan Chelko of the Centerville-South Snellville district and Michael Lowder of the Farmington district.

Customer-owners also enjoyed entertainment, kids’ activities, a health fair and door prizes. Crystal Paden of Loganville won the grand prize – a retired Ford pickup.

The annual meeting gives Walton EMC customer-owners the opportunity to hear updates and elect representatives from among themselves to run their cooperative.

Walton EMC is a customer-owned power company that serves 127,000 accounts over its 10-county service area between Atlanta and Athens.


Comments from readers show pressures on our democratic republic

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher |  Converging pressures are on our democratic republic like never before.

Once somewhat isolated by oceans that protected us, today’s cyber world knows no boundaries.

Today it’s not just other nations that threaten us. We have significant internal problems our country has not faced ever before.

We’re not just talking about the Trump Administration’s inability to fill important posts. We’re not talking about the confusion the new president creates in his almost daily flutter of conflicting diatribes.

Look at the Senate with a 52 vote Republican majority, yet they can’t get together on the wording of a significant “Repeal Obama” medical bill. They rush to pass this flawed legislation so that they can move to re-write a tax code that is a monumental task with no indication of success.

We should also question the Democrats for their virtual puny job of being the Loyal Opposition. They so far have provided no reasonable alternatives.

And our country, and really the world, is threatened today with a scientific advancement that has tremendous potential, yet which comes with startling problems: social media.  We are now realizing the problems of putting a brake on this new phenomenon which promises unlimited potential….but which we now recognize as a two-way street bringing solutions plus problems.

Comments from some of our readers show the extent of our situation. Let’s quote some of their comments, with no names used since the thought is more important. These comments are taken randomly from people on both sides of the aisle.

Comment A:As societies become more diversified, unity based on beliefs and values can be very difficult if not impossible.”

Person B:Can we ever regain whatever it was that made our representative democracy so special? Possibly not, but definitely not if we think one person in the Oval office is the real issue.

Comment C:I think the Democrats need to really soul search about why someone like Trump would become the appealing choice to so many.”

Reader D:Political effectiveness requires saying what you have to say to advance a cause, no matter which party you belong to.”

Comment E:As long as the focus is on Trump — rather than the issues that allowed Trump to win the presidency, and the support of the masses who put him there — then the debate is misdirected. And I am no Trump fan”

Reader F:Life in Russia proves that a free, prospering society cannot exist where basic truth and trust are not at its foundation.”

Comment G: “I’m convinced unless this country returns to Biblical Christian morals and values, the end is truly near. I’m actually scared for our children and especially our grandchildren.” 

Reader H:I believe that accord is far easier to accomplish in a homogeneous society where values and beliefs are wholly shared. “

Comment I:It is too bad that when a political leader is wrong, and seems to be incapable of admitting it because it supposedly will make them look weak.”

Comment J:Sen. Patrick Moynihan’s ‘You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own fact’ seems to be forgotten.

Reader K:A loss of a basic agreement on what is true and what isn’t is the division resulting from that.“

Comment L: “I’ve thought for years that cable news is problematic. I now think that internet information is even more of a problem. The onus is on institutions to catch up. I have faith that they will.”

Reader M: The relentless misinformation that fills the airways, the written word, and mostly the internet as the transmitter, provides so much vitriol as never before has been made available to the average man. Without ethics and morality, there are no limitations as what can be made available in every living room in the country.”

Your ideas?


World’s not ending for losing Democrats; Math shows major gains

By Andy Brack, Charleston, S.C.  |  Boy, listening to the talking heads and sputtering pundits, you’d almost think the world was ending for Democrats after narrow losses in two special U.S. House elections in South Carolina and Georgia.

But the world’s not ending.  In fact, Republicans should be a little worried.

Yes, the Democrats lost again.  But they lost in safe, strong GOP districts  – contests for which most people never thought Democrats could get so close.  In November, Tom Price won his Georgia House seat by 23 points over his challenger.  In South Carolina’s 5th congressional district that includes Rock Hill and Sumter, Mick Mulvaney won by 20 points.  Both became part of President Trump’s cabinet, which prompted the special elections.

Look now at Tuesday’s paltry margins.  The GOP victor in Georgia won by just four points.  In South Carolina, former S.C. GOP Rep. Ralph Norman beat Democrat Archie Parnell by three points.

Simple math shows that Democrats got a swing of 19 points in Georgia and 17 points in South Carolina.

That’s huge!  And it’s something that Mr. Huge and his party are taking much more seriously than arrogant surrogates are parroting on television.

The Georgia election was the most expensive House race in history, a contest in which Democrats and Republicans pumped in more than $55 million.  On Tuesday, GOP candidate Karen Handel polled 52 percent of almost 260,000 votes, compared to 48 percent by newcomer Democrat Jon Ossoff.  Seven months earlier, Price got 10 percentage points more of a total of 311,328 votes.

In South Carolina, the special election was more typical and under the radar with far less money spent.  As such, only 90,000 voters headed to the polls, compared to 298,000 just seven months ago.

Democrats are obviously frustrated because they came so close in South Carolina and Georgia.  But there are some lessons they can apply in 2018, particularly if the electorate remains volatile because of the Trump Administration and if Congress continues to flop around like a fish out of water.

  • Recruit good candidates.  Parnell and Ossoff were good candidates for Democrats. They had gravitas and crossover appeal.
  • Raise money.  Both candidates proved they could raise money.  Because the South Carolina election was under the radar screen, we’ll never know whether an extra million dollars would have been enough to push Parnell over the line.
  • More vulnerable districts.   Both the Georgia and South Carolina districts were rated “strong Republican” prior to this week.  But if Democrats across the country have potential swings of 17 or 19 points in 2018, more Republicans are at risk than traditionally thought.  According to the Cook Political Report, there are 42 GOP seats now that are competitive and rated as likely Republican, leaning Republican or tossups.  This number could increase.
  • Change the leadership.  House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is a lightning rod.  Every time Republicans smell a little trouble, they trot out nasty ads painting Pelosi as a devil.  And it works by inflaming their base.  Replacing Pelosi with younger, fresher leadership could erase hundreds of millions of dollars of negative branding that the GOP has spent demonizing Pelosi.  As one Democratic wag told us, “How many times do we have to watch them run the same play and not learn how to stop it?”

Democrats have a path to retake the U.S. House.  All they have to do is flip 24 seats.  With more than 40 in play – and with the special elections as indicators that voters will shift – the next 16 months should be filled with action.

Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Statehouse Report, a weekly political and legislative forecast in South Carolina.


Walton Electric Membership Corporation

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today’s sponsor is Walton EMC, which provides electric service to 70,000 Gwinnett homes and businesses in the Lilburn, Snellville, Grayson, Loganville and Dacula areas. Because its customers own the company, service — not profit — is Walton EMC’s primary focus.


Success of Rainbow Village came from Yancey’s hard work

Editor, the Forum:

As  a representative of Episcopal Charities Foundation, which had provided a grant for Rainbow Village, I first became acquainted with Nancy Yancey in the 1990s. At that time it was located on property rented for $1 a year by Southern Company near power lines.

About a half-dozen homes were occupied by the families being assisted and another was used as an office/community center. From your recent article we can see the amazing progress made by this worthwhile and effective ministry over the years. While many have contributed to this outcome, Nancy Yancey’s hard work, managerial skills, heart for the work, and strong faith were, I believe, the keystone of its success.

— John Titus, Peachtree Corners

Send us your thoughts:  We encourage you to send us your letters and thoughts on issues raised in GwinnettForum.  Please limit comments to 300 words.  We reserve the right to edit for clarity and length.  Send feedback and letters to:    elliott@brack.net


Re-paving of Ronald Reagan Parkway continues through August

Motorists are advised to use caution on Ronald Reagan Parkway as crews begin applying new asphalt on the popular four-lane, divided roadway on June 25.

The resurfacing project, which covers the entire seven-mile road from Pleasant Hill Boulevard to Presidential Circle, will be performed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. to minimize inconvenience to residents. Weather permitting, the project should be finished by the end of August.

On June 25, crews will start repaving one lane on the westbound side at Presidential Circle and work their way to Pleasant Hill Road. Then they move to the eastbound side and work back toward Presidential Circle. Then, they’ll repeat the cycle on the remaining lane in each direction.

During the resurfacing, lanes near the worksite will be reduced from two to one. The moving work location will be well-lit, but people should note signs and flaggers advising motorists to slow down and use caution. The resurfacing will not affect the two lanes in the opposite direction across the median.

State and federal funds are paying 80 percent of the $3.2 million project with the County covering the balance with revenue from 2009 SPLOST.

New Kudzu Art Zone exhibit asks “What would Vincent do?”

“What would Vincent do?”

The current exhibition at Kudzu Art Zone in Norcross poses this question to member artists and the speculative answers are many and varied. Anne Labaire’s work titled “Love, Vincent” is the most evocative and amusing  of the show. Her other entry echoes Van Gogh’s own irises with one lone white iris among the blue flowers; she said this is his representation of  being an outsider.

Lorraine Kimsey’s “Iris in Bloom” is again the iconic irises but in her own unique glowing colors and soft impressionistic  technique.  Included  in the exhibit is one of Miriam Gaisner’s beautifully rendered figures, landscapes similar to those Vincent may have seen (a lovely example is a small pastel by Donna Clark titled “Turquoise Trail”) and abstracts which leave the viewer wondering if these scenes could have also inhabited the under-appreciated artist’s lively imagination.

The exhibit opened June 9 and continues through September 8, with a reception on Sunday August 27. There will be food and wine, an opportunity to meet the artists and awarding of prizes.  Kudzu Art Zone is located at 116 Carlyle Street in Norcross and galleries are open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone is 770-840-9844 and the website is: kudzuartzone.org.


Lilburn Police will offer Junior Women’s Self Defense Class

The Lilburn Police Department’s Junior Women’s Self Defense Class on Saturday, July 15 is perfect for any young woman entering high school or college.

This class is geared towards young women who are interested in arming themselves with the tools and knowledge to potentially prevent an attack or defend themselves in the event of one. It will cover personal security, situational awareness, potential threats and ploys used by predators, physical skills, and when to use those skills appropriately.

The first portion of the class will discuss various forms of safety: general, dating, campus, and internet safety, before learning physical defense moves like strikes, blocks, and pressure points. The second portion of the class will pair students and have them work together on a variety of movements as well as working against the instructors. The instructors will then don protective gear and simulate a threatening encounter, which will allow students to practice their learned moves. This part of the course has been described as “physical but amazing and empowering.”

The eight hour class is recommended for all high school and college girls age 15 – 20 who are residents of Lilburn. The only males allowed in this course will be the instructors.

Those interested in attending the Junior Women’s Self Defense Class should complete an application and waiver and mail it to Lilburn Police Dept., 76 Main Street NW, Lilburn, Ga. 30047. The form is available online: http://www.cityoflilburn.com/DocumentCenter/View/951

Local Insurance man gets Nationwide’s Community Service Award


Jim Lloyd, founder of Lawrenceville’s InsuranceHub, was recently granted Nationwide Insurance’s Regional Community Service Award. As a result of this honor, Nationwide Insurance will donate $1,000 to the Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter – Lloyd’s charity of  choice. What drew the attention of Nationwide Insurance in honoring Jim Lloyd with its Regional Community Service Award was a charity event in March 2017. InsuranceHub was proud to be the title sponsor of the second annual Sip and Swine BBQ Festival, which raised over $50,000 for the Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter, with over 8,000 people in attendance. Since its inception over 30 years ago, InsuranceHub has featured Nationwide Insurance as a major carrier.

City of Snellville hires Shelton as new city planner


The City of Snellville has a new city planner. He is Austin Shelton, who previously was an research analyst at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  Shelton has bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga. and a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech. Before graduating from Georgia Tech, he worked in real estate and marketing for a real estate team in Chattanooga, Tenn. Shelton was born in Columbus, Ga. and lived in Cataula, just outside Columbus.


Silent Light from Carlos Reygadas Barguin

Reviewed by Karen Harris, Stone Mountain  |  Johan, a married Mennonite who maintains a quiet, simplistic lifestyle in rural Mexico, experiences a moral dilemma as a result of his passionate — and torturously public — affair with Marianne, a neighbor. As he goes through the ritualistic motions of his daily life in a bucolic landscape, he is forced to weigh his love for Marianne against the survival of his marriage, his family and his deeply felt religious beliefs. Though the theme is difficult, this is a beautifully rendered picture replete with gorgeous cinematography and characterizations.  The viewer is pulled into the Mennonite world and becomes invested in the evolution of the souls of the characters. The film is in German with English subtitles.  It is simply not to be missed for its beauty and the meditative mood it creates in every scene.

An invitation: what books, restaurants, movies or web sites have you enjoyed recently? Send us your recent selection, along with a short paragraph (100 words) as to why you liked this, plus what you plan to visit or read next. –eeb


Georgia still trying to correct Camak’s northern boundary error

(Continued from previous edition)

After Tennessee defines its boundary with Georgia, the State of Georgia then asked Camak in 1819 to take a team to Ellicott’s Rock and mark a line west from there to connect with the line from Nickajack. The team members proceeded westward, and when they came to where they had stopped measuring the year before, they noted that they were located “661 yards” north of the earlier mark. Instead of re-measuring all their surveys, they simply connected the westward and eastward lines and marked the junction. This offset is still there today and is labeled on all maps as “Montgomery’s Corner,” located in Towns County, just east of Blairsville. Even this portion of Camak’s survey was never on the 35th latitude north.

Alabama was admitted as a state in 1819. Seven years later, in 1826, the governors of Georgia and Alabama agreed to survey the western boundary connecting Nickajack and Miller’s Bend (now West Point), a town on the Chattahoochee River in west central Georgia. Alabama sent commissioners to oversee the work, believing that it was Georgia’s responsibility to mark the line.

Georgia again called on Camak as its mathematician. Approaching the mark that he had made eight years earlier, Camak noted that Nickajack was “about one quarter of a mile north of the Georgia/Tennessee boundary as surveyed in 1818.” Modern measurements, however, indicate that Camak’s surveyed line is almost a mile south of the 35th latitude north.

Georgia’s legislature has voted to revisit its northern boundary line with Tennessee and North Carolina a dozen times over the past 200 years without receiving any response from Tennessee or North Carolina. Confusion over property lines on the boundary has resulted in lawsuits between property owners, but there has never been a lawsuit between Georgia and Tennessee or between Georgia and North Carolina.

The drought of 2008 in Georgia brought renewed attention to the fact that if the Georgia/Tennessee boundary had been properly surveyed along the 35th latitude, then plenty of water from the Tennessee River would be available for Georgia’s citizens. That year Georgia’s legislature passed another resolution, signed into law by Governor Sonny Perdue, strongly urging him to initiate negotiations with the governors of Tennessee and North Carolina to correct Camak’s flawed survey. The legislature also authorized the state’s attorney general to take “legal action to correct Georgia’s northern border at the 35th parallel,” should such negotiations fail to correct the situation. Nothing further occurred as a result of this resolution.

In 2013 Georgia’s legislature passed another resolution proposing a settlement of the northern boundary issue, which became effective without approval of the governor. This resolution provides that “if an agreement resolving the boundary dispute is not reached as of the last day on which the General Assembly convenes in regular session in 2014, the Attorney General of Georgia is hereby authorized and directed to take such action as is required to initiate suit in the United States Supreme Court against the State of Tennessee for final settlement of the boundary issue.”

(End—-whew!—of several articles about Georgia’s boundaries)      


See if you can tell us where this stunning statue is located

This ornate, brightly golden statue is the today’s Mystery Photo. Scratch your head and tell us where you think this statue is located. Send in your thoughts to elliott@brack.net and be sure to include your hometown.

Several people immediately recognized where the plaque of Archibald Butt was located. Bobbie Tkacik of Lilburn told us: “The plaque hangs in the Washington National Cathedral.”

Vickie Watkins of Lawrenceville added more information: “The location of the Archibald Butt Memorial Plaque is at the Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC. He died on the Titanic and served under two presidents.”

Tommy McBride of Duluth was familiar with Butt, telling us that he was “born in Augusta and died in the Titantic sinking.  A bridge was built in 1914 and was first memorial for Titantic sinking.  I grew up in Augusta and drove over that bridge more times than I can count.”

George Graf of Palmyra, Va., adds this about the Butt story: “As a young man, Butt  was a student at the University of the South, at Sewanee, Tenn., and decided upon journalism as his profession. He came to Washington as correspondent for a syndicate of Southern newspapers.  When General Matt Ransom was sent to Mexico as ambassador, Archibald Butt was selected to go with him. Returning from Mexico the young newspaper man and budding diplomat entered the Spanish-American War, saw three years’ service in the Philippines and at the close of the war returned to Washington as depot quartermaster.

“During his service in Washington, Captain Butt, as his title was then, attracted the attention of Colonel T.R. Roosevelt.  The colonel, then President, appointed Captain Butt his military aide.  Butt was equally well known among his friends for his hobbies. Chief among them was dogs. Pointers he owned in numbers and some of them were the best bred.  Major Archibald Butt, chief of staff to the President of the United States, assisted women into lifeboats of the Titanic and then stood back to go down with the ship.”


Here’s a modern view of the oldest church in Gwinnett County

This photo beautifully  taken by Roving Photographer Frank Sharp is of the oldest church in Gwinnett County, the Fairview Presbyterian Church on Georgia Highway 120 near Highway 316 in Lawrenceville. It was founded in 1823, five years after Gwinnett County was formed.  It is beautifully preserved, and is the precursor of all the Presbyterian churches in Metro Atlanta. From this church was started the Decatur Presbyterian Church, formed in 1825.


(NEW) Watch fireworks on the 4th in Lilburn! This annual July 4 celebration in Lilburn City Park will include a variety of food, children’s activities, and of course, fireworks! The Breakfast Club, known as the longest running and most recognized ’80s tribute band in the U.S., will perform at 7:30 p.m., and the fabulous fireworks show will begin at 9:30 p.m. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., Balloon artists and family photos will be available at no cost, while supplies last, until 9:30 p.m. Food trucks/vendors and bounce house tickets will be available for purchase. The fireworks are anticipated for 9:30 p.m.

(NEW) Southern Wings Bird Club will meet Monday, July 10, at 7 p.m. at the Rhodes Jordan Park Community Center meeting room in Lawrenceville. Speaker will be Linda May, an educator with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division. She has a particular interest in songbirds, frogs, backyard habitats, nature photography, and citizen science projects. More info: www.southernwingsbc.com.


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