7/14: Lessons from Gwinnett; Wind Gap, Mo.; Morning Joe and Rubio

GwinnettForum  |  Number 17.31  |  July 14, 2017  

Photo credit: Barnesville News-Gazette

EVER HEARD of Wind Gap, Missouri?  Probably not, since it’s only a fictional town in Gillian Flynn’s book, Sharp Objects.  But the town is on the minds of Barnesville, Ga., citizens these days, as a film crew has turned Barnesville facilities to look like a town in Missouri. It’s part of how the Georgia film industry is transforming many towns into other places. For more on this burgeoning new source of income for Georgia, see Elliott Brack’s Perspective below.
TODAY’S FOCUS: Looking Forward to Sign on Interstate 95 Saying “Camden Is Great”
EEB PERSPECTIVE: Wind Gap, Mo. Says A Lot About the Growing Film Industry in Georgia
ANOTHER VIEW: Hearing Morning Joe and Remembering Meeting Marco Rubio
SPOTLIGHT: Aurora Theatre
UPCOMING: Snellville OKs Document To Jointly Build New Library with County
NOTABLE: Eighth Season for Lilburn Farmers Market on Friday Nights
RECOMMENDED: The End The Book: Part One by J.L. Robb
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Screws vs. United States (1945) Becomes Landmark Court Case
TODAY’S QUOTE: Government Is There to Respect and Protect Us
MYSTERY PHOTO: Traditional Architecture of this Mystery Photo Could Be Anywhere
LAGNIAPPE: Navigate Lifeline Partners with Eastside Medical for Recovery Coaches
CALENDAR: State of Peachtree Corners Address will be July 24

Looking forward to sign on Interstate 95 saying “Camden Is Great”

By Fred Freyer, St. Simons Island, Ga.  |  I am writing to you in support of Space Port Camden.

I was in the commercial real estate business in Atlanta for 35 years before moving to St. Simons Island in 2001.


Perhaps the biggest adjustment I had to make was the transition from a very dynamic job growth economy in Atlanta to a pretty much weak job growth economy in coastal Georgia, which includes Camden County.

I remember only too well back in 1970 when Western Electric was located at the corner of Jimmy Carter Boulevard and I-85 in Gwinnett County.  At that time Gwinnett was a sleepy little community with not much going on.  The 2,500 jobs that Western Electric created was the catalyst to a major economic boom in Gwinnett which continues until today. (Editor’s note: eventually 3,800 jobs.)

My family is a major land owner (and taxpayer) in Camden County and, thus, I have a personal stake in Camden’s future.  What Camden needs (as do all the other coastal counties) are more jobs. If a community is not growing, then it is dying.

What affect did Western Electric have on Gwinnett County?  You, my friend, Elliott Brack, editor and publisher of Gwinnett Forum, explained it back then this way:

  • “It was the first big industry for the county, showing the Atlanta area that Gwinnett could compete for major industry.
  • It brought to the community many brilliant minds, people with good education, who wanted and demanded an improved education for their children.
  • It was the first big firm to become a “high technology” business, eventually spawning many major technical advances. (Fiber optics was patented out of the Norcross Bell Labs office.)
  • Western Electric helped jump start the homebuilding business in the county, with its workers demanding high quality homes. The Forest Hills section of Lawrenceville especially benefitted, but so also did contractors throughout the county. 
  • Western Electric came at the start of the big growth spurt in the county, which meant shoppers could find more supermarkets (and eventually, more stores and even malls) closer to their homes.  
  • Western Electric helped to stabilize the fledging Gwinnett water system, which now had a big commercial customer in Norcross, and soon other industries moved here, giving it an even larger base of operations.
  • Many Western Electric workers transferring to Gwinnett were members of the Catholic church. This contributed immensely to the growing Catholic population in Gwinnett, now its second largest denomination. 
  • It took 12-14 years, but the location of newcomers from Western Electric, and the eventual growth in the county population, paved the way for a change from Democratic political domination to the arrival of a strong Republican Party, in 1984…..and since.”

I applaud Steve Howard and the Camden Board of Commissioners for the vision and guts to make Space Port Camden a reality.  When Space Port Camden happens (and it will happen) it will create much excitement and opportunity not only for Camden County but all the Georgia coastal counties and the State of Georgia as well.

After Western Electric was announced, Gwinnett County put in big bold letters on a large water tank on Interstate 85 “GWINNETT IS GREAT.”  I look forward to seeing on Interstate 95 “CAMDEN IS GREAT.”


Wind Gap, Mo., says a lot about the growing film industry in Georgia

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  Ever heard of the town of Wind Gap, Missouri?

Recently you might have thought you woke up in the wrong town if you lived in Barnesville, Ga. You see, there was a film crew all over that town shooting an upcoming HBO mini-series about Gillian Flynn’s book, Sharp Objects, which is set in this fictional town of Wind Gap, Mo.

And because of Georgia’s enticing ways that we treat filming companies, offering first rate tax credits for film production, since they had to shoot a movie somewhere, why not do it where the movie people can generate hefty earnings?

Recently Governor Nathan Deal released new figures showing that Georgia is the number one filming location in the world.  That industry generates $9.5 billion of economic impact in Georgia, including $2.7 million in direct spending. In the last year, 320 film and television productions have been filmed in Georgia.

It’s all because of the state offering production incentives that provide up to 30 percent of the Georgia production expenditures in transferable tax credits. That program, which begun in 2005, is now paying big benefits for the state in real dollars. After all, it has turned the film and TV production field on its heels!

And it’s happening in communities throughout Georgia. What once was an exotic but foreign business, is happening even right here in Gwinnett,. There’s major filming at Eagle Rock’s permanent studios, and many use the OFS site for professional filming. Lawrenceville was a few weeks ago turned into a town in Arkansas, for the filming of the series, Ozark. And Norcross is part of the filming location for the Netflix series, Greenleaf, even though it’s supposedly set in Memphis.

Photo credit: Barnesville News-Gazette

And just yesterday, it was announced that a new Clint Eastwood movie, The 15:17 to Paris, would be filmed at Robins Air Force Base and in Atlanta.

Changes came all around Barnesville to makeover the town in the last few weeks. Overnight up sprung the Wind Gap Barber Shop, lighting poles had banners saying “Welcome to historic Wind Gap,” a real estate office was called Wind Gap Realty, and painted on a window was Wind Gap Police. There’s a Wind Gap Historical Marker, (put up “in 1891 by the State of Missouri”), a Wind Gap Eye Clinic, a Wind Gap Public Library,” and one restaurant offering “Missouri’s Best Barbecue (Eat-in or take-out).”

Add to it a Wind Gap Art Gallery, a Southern Railway caboose with “Welcome to Wind Gap” on it, and a faded sign you can barely see the word “Wind Gap.” There’s even a Wind Gap Gazette newspaper, though the Barnesville Herald Gazette still comes out on time. The local Confederate monument and statue was modified to honor Wind Gap “founder” Zeke Calhoun. A faded poster advertises the Wind Gap Bow Hunters. All this in Barnesville. (See slideshow: http://www.barnesville.com/archives/10193-Welcome-to-Wind-Gap….html).

The author herself, Gillian Flynn, was quoted in the Barnesville newspaper saying that the town was “an ideal location to bring her story’s setting to life. The town is the perfect location for Wind Gap. It’s lush and green just like my home state of Missouri, and it’s almost as if the town was picked out of my own mind as I was writing the novel. (HBO) couldn’t have picked a better location for this story to come to life.”

Recently crews have been filming in Barnesville from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. in the downtown area.

While Barnesville has been surrounded by the filming, it can appear anywhere in Georgia. While it may cause some of us a temporary delay in traffic, etc., remember the overall impact to the state’s economy, and be patient. There are dollars and jobs for many in the future in the film industry in Georgia.


Hearing Morning Joe and remembering meeting Marco Rubio

By Debbie Houston, contributing columnist  |  Let me confess. I enjoy watching MSNBC’s Morning Joe. It’s a good gauge of the Democratic Party. If Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are smiling, the Dems are doing well. If frowning, the Republicans are moving ahead.

For weeks I watched the pair taunt President Trump. “He lies everyday … He’s mentally ill. … He should be impeached.”  I took a break from the show, bored by the rote nature of the criticism. I wish the president had turned the channel as I had, too, instead of whipping out his Twitter weapon. Getting hysterical and mean because of a third-rate show is beneath any president.

He tweeted that Mika is “Low I.Q.” I won’t quibble with that description, but I’d have said “vapid.” A raised eyebrow is not journalism. In truth, Joe and his fiancé (who knew?) are political hacks carrying the water for anti-Trump NBC.

The president is never so vicious as when he attacks a woman. He tweeted that he saw Mika in January and “She was bleeding badly from a facelift.” No woman wants the world to know she’s had a facelift. It was a low blow … or high blow, given the anatomy involved.

After Trump’s Mika/Tweeter attack, I turned on Morning Joe to assess the mood. Mika and Joe were giddy, as if they had planted a trap and what they caught was a president.

When Mr. Trump acts presidential, as he did during the G-20 meetings, we tend to forget, if not forgive, his meanness. But let’s do remember…..

During the first Republican Primary Debate, Megyn Kelly earned Trump’s wrath when she stated, “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Days later, he reacted by stating, “There was blood coming out of her eyes … blood coming out of her wherever.”

And don’t forget what he said about rival Carly Fiorina in Rolling Stone. “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” Let’s not also forget his tweeting out an unattractive photo of Ted Cruz’s wife. Nasty, nasty, nasty, Mr. Trump.

Rubio on the campaign trail.

The president reminds me of a boss I had who believed every woman was in love with him. If a woman slighted him, he’d blow his stack like an insecure 13-year old boy. The only difference is that the president is a grown man with a Twitter account.

Like a lot of conservative women, I voted for Mr. Trump because I couldn’t vote for Mrs. Clinton. I like his Supreme Court pick and the fact that illegal immigration has slowed under his watch. But, in 2020, I’d leave him in a New York minute for a better candidate.

I’ll finish with this: I once met Senator Marco Rubio. I shook his hand and told him it was an honor to meet him. He said: “The honor is all mine.”

You may call him Little Marco, Mr. President, but I call him a true gentleman.


Aurora Theatre

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers.  Today’s sponsor is Aurora Theatre, home of the best entertainment in northeast Georgia. With over 750 events annually, Aurora Theatre, set to open their 22nd season, has live entertainment to suit everyone’s taste. Aurora Theatre’s Peach State Federal Credit Union Signature Series is comprised of Broadway’s best plays and musicals alongside exciting works of contemporary theatre. Additionally, Aurora produces concerts, comedy club events, children’s programs, and metro Atlanta’s top haunted attraction, Lawrenceville Ghost Tours. Aurora Theatre is a world-class theatrical facility with two performance venues. It is nestled on the square in historic downtown Lawrenceville, with free attached covered parking and is surrounded by a myriad of restaurants and shops.  Now showing: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Victor Hugo classic-turned-Disney musical, through August 27.


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


Snellville OKs document to jointly build new library with county

It looks like Snellville will get a new public library right in the center of town!

EVENTUAL LIBRARY? It’s just a pencil sketch right now, and could end up in a completely different design. But Snellville officials are giddy about the prospect of locating their library near City Hall and the Towne Center. Click image to see larger version.

The city has approved an agreement with Gwinnett County that will create a City Market and new public library on Wisteria Drive. The county is anticipated to formalize the agreement on July 18.

Announced Monday, this is the first development step in the Snellville’s Towne Center project. Mayor Tom Witts says: “This is a major step in bringing the Towne Center vision to reality. With the help of Gwinnett County, the new City Market and Library will be a centerpiece of our ambitious plan to create a new downtown Snellville, one that will spur commercial and residential growth and be a catalyst for development in the city for decades to come.”

The City Market will house local merchants as well as restaurants. A 22,000 square foot LEED certified state-of-the-art library is planned for location on the first floor in the three-story building, which opens onto Wisteria Drive. The City Market will be above the library.

Witt said that it was in the best interests of the staffs of both the City and County to jointly design this public asset.  He adds: “It is efficient and economical to combine these design projects to create an amenity that is in the best economic and cultural interests of their respective citizens.”

The facility will be jointly owned and operated by both the city and county. One-third of the space is to be occupied by the county as the Snellville Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library System and the remaining two-thirds will be used by the city as a public market, restaurants, retail shops and other public, civic or educational facilities. The city will design and build a parking structure to serve the library (128 spaces) as well as other needs of the Towne Center.

Included will be an attached parking structure to be jointly owned and operated by the parties. The property on which the Library/Market is proposed to be constructed is currently owned by the city. City officials are currently in talks with potential private and public partners expected to lead to the building out of the planned Towne Center area.

The city will provide stormwater detention for the Library/Market and will be responsible for the designing, construction, operation and maintenance of the basin.

Suwanee SPCA offers benefit concert featuring Nashville’s Manditori

What happens when you combine a celebration for the adoption of more than 10,000 animals, a 10-year anniversary, animal lovers and music? You get the Georgia SPCA’s Benefit Concert featuring Manditori, a Nashville duo with a passion for animals in need.

Since the shelter opened in 2007, the Georgia SPCA chapter has rescued and found homes for over 10,000 abandoned, abused and neglected cats and dogs. These animals were given a second chance to know what it means to be loved and to feel the warmth, comfort and security of a forever home.

The concert will be held in downtown Duluth at the Eddie Owens Presents @ Red Clay Music Foundry, on Saturday July 22, located at 3116 Main St, Duluth. The evening’s host will be fellow animal lover and Fox 5 Anchor, Randy Travis. The event will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and will include live music, a video montage of some of the animals the shelter has saved and the families that adopted them, a silent auction of gift baskets, a 50/50 raffle, and much more. An  “After party” with complimentary desserts will follow.

The event’s net proceeds will benefit the Georgia SPCA’s operating fund which will allow the shelter to make infrastructure upgrades and help even more animals find their forever home, as we embark on our next 10,000 saved.  Event tickets can be purchased for $35 at the door, at the Georgia SPCA, or online .

Tickets are on sale now, and seating is limited.


Eighth season for Lilburn Farmers Market on Friday nights

The Lilburn Farmers Market continues its eighth season of their seasonal market operating every Friday through August from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 1400 Killian Hill Road. The market is a producer- only market that specializes in locally grown and produced items. Food Trucks are available for a quick Friday dinner.

The Lilburn Farmers Market is sponsored by Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church to provide a venue for local farmers and producers to sell their products directly to the consumer. More information can be found at www.lilburnfarmersmarket.org.

Nourish, a guide to incorporating local food at the family table, will host chef demonstrations each Friday using foods found at the market. Come by to see how to create the dish, taste the dish and take home the recipe to make it at home. It’s a great way to get your kids to eat healthy.

Live music from local artists, face painting, free kid’s activities, North Georgia Two Cylinder Club free tractor rides, and Lilburn Woman’s Club’s Little Free Library are weekly events.

Partnering with Wholesome Wave Georgia, the Lilburn Farmers Market participates in the Georgia Fresh for Less program which doubles the EBT/SNAP benefits on eligible purchases at the market. If you swipe $20, cardholders receive $40 to spend at the market.


The End The Book: Part One by J.L. Robb

Reviewed by Kipper Tabb, Duluth  |  About five years ago, I met Jerry Robb of Duluth after his first book was written. It had been recommended to me as an interesting, fictional account of the Book of Revelation. As a pastor, I appreciate Robb’s references to the Bible. As a 28 year Duluth resident, I also appreciate him using local landmarks to enhance the narrative. His fictional account of this coming biblical event begins in Duluth; and there is much action in the Gwinnett County area, as well as the Middle East and China. His main characters are well-developed and you find yourself laughing and crying with them. My favorite characters are Abe the Bartender, The Admiral, and I have a special appreciation for Angel Missy.  In this book, Islamism makes its way to the Bible Belt. Hang on to the seat of your pants. This thriller really is a thriller. I give it five stars!

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


Screws vs. United States (1945) becomes landmark court case

The U.S. Constitution grants to the U.S. Congress only a limited range of lawmaking authority. Perhaps the most significant source of congressional regulatory authority lies in its power to regulate interstate commerce—a power broadly defined in such important cases out of Georgia as United States v. Darby (1941) and Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964).

Another distinctively important grant of authority, however, permits federal legislators to enact “appropriate legislation” to enforce the 14th Amendment’s prohibition on state action that denies persons “the equal protection of the laws” or deprives persons of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Close on the heels of the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868, Congress passed several civil rights statutes, including one that makes it a federal crime for a person “willfully” to deprive another of “any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution” if the deprivation occurs “under color” of state law. This statute lay largely dormant for decades, but in 1943 the federal Justice Department invoked it in the Screws case to prosecute three Baker County law enforcement officers, including Sheriff Screws, who allegedly killed an African American by “beating him with their fists and with a solid-bar blackjack” in the absence of provocation following his arrest for the suspected theft of a tire.

After the defendants were convicted in federal court, the U.S. Supreme Court in Screws ordered a new trial, reasoning that the trial judge had not given accurate instructions to the jury on the meaning of the statutory term “willfully.” (Justice William Douglas observed that “even those guilty of the most heinous offenses are entitled to a fair trial,” and in fact, upon retrial, all three defendants were acquitted.)

The key precedent established by the Screws case, however, came in the Supreme Court’s declaration that the taking of the victim’s life had, despite the defendant’s contrary argument, occurred “under color” of state law so that a prosecution under the federal civil rights statute in federal court was permissible. Three of four dissenting justices argued that the beating did not meet the “under color of state law” requirement because the defendants had violated, rather than adhered to, the laws of the state according to the prosecution’s own evidence in the case. The dissenters also urged that permitting a federal prosecution for what they viewed as essentially a local murder would work “a revolutionary change in the balance of the political relations between the National Government and the States.”

The majority, however, concluded that it sufficed to meet the “under color of state law” requirement that the “officers of the State were performing official duties,” whether or not “the power they were authorized to exercise was misused.” In so ruling, the Court opened the door for sweeping invocations of the long-unused Reconstruction-era federal civil rights statutes in federal court actions in later decades. The majority’s ruling also bespoke something more—a rising willingness of the Court to address issues of racial injustice that would, within a decade, produce the seminal school-desegregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).


Traditional architecture of this Mystery Photo could be anywhere


Today’s Mystery Photo could be anywhere in the United States (or not), with this traditional design that many have seen across the nation. Tell us where you think it is, and what the building’s use was when constructed.  Send your answers to elliott@brack.net.

With travel to Cuba being more open these days, we thought the Mystery Photo submitted by Sandy and Rick Krause of Lilburn would be readily identified. It is a photo of the majestic Chamber of Commerce building in Havana. The crafty George Graf of Palmyra, Va. was the only one to identify the building. He wrote as identifying it: “Lonja del Comercio building, Havana, Cuba. The structure was built in eclectic-style by the architectural firm of Purdy and Henderson as a center for commodities trading which opened in March 1909.  The ground floor was originally used for warehouses and the stock market, the second and third floors provided office space, while the fourth and fifth floors, which adopted a more sober ornamentation, were leased to customs brokers and trading companies.  In the 1990s the entire building was gutted and new, very contemporary styled, innards built with effusive use of stainless steel and glass. It now houses various international trade and diplomatic offices, the radio station Habana Radio of the City Historian’s Office, plus offices of Etecsa and foreign news bureaus and tour companies.”


Navigate Lifeline partners with Eastside Medical for recovery coaches

Eastside Medical has partnered with Navigate Lifeline Gwinnett to provide peer recovery coaches to patients in need of this service during their visit to the emergency room. At the left is Kevin Dalrymple, director of Emergency Services, and Trent Lind, Eastside CEO. Eastside Medical Center recognizes the growing need for services such as Lifeline Gwinnett because of the growing addiction crisis. By partnering with Lifeline Gwinnett, Eastside is striving to make a difference in the long term health and well-being of those who are struggling with addiction. Lifeline connects with people who have overdosed, or those who are at high risk for overdose, and their families with Peer to Peer Recovery Support Coaches, every day 24/7. Peer recovery support services like Lifeline have been highly effective in combating the opioid crisis in other parts of the country.


Screenplay Writer’s Workshop with Michael Buchanan will be held on Saturday, July 15 at 1:30 pm at the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center, 10 College Street, Norcross.  This event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Gwinnett County Public Library and the Atlanta Writer’s Club. Buchanan is the creator of the award winning feature The Fat Boy Chronicles. Buchanan will discuss the ingredients of a screenplay that works and explain what not to do in a story, including novels.  He will also teach the structure of a film and show examples of scenes that drive a story to its finale. For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

Ribbon Cutting and Open House at the restored Isaac Adair House and Lawn, on July 18 at 4:30 p.m. at 455 South Perry Street in Lawrenceville. The house is one of the oldest houses in the county, built circa 1827. The home is well constructed and represents a building style found in the southern states from 1780-1820. The architectural style is considered to be both Federal (Adam) and Georgian. The construction of this home used hand-planed boards and mortise and tenon joints.

Gwinnett Quilter’s Guild and the Gwinnett County Public Library will host Ann Hite on July 18 at 10 a.m. at the Cannon United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall, 2424 Webb Gin House Road, Snellville. Hite’s debut novel, Ghost on Black Mountain, was a Townsend Prize finalist and won the Georgia Author of the Year award in 2012.  Her latest novel, Sleeping Above Chaos, is the fourth book in the series and was published by Mercer University Press in September 2016. If you are interested in quilting or enjoy reading a good book, this meeting is for you! For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154

(NEW) Peachtree Corners State of the City Address, by Mayor Mike Mason, will be Monday, July 24 at 7 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 5575 Peachtree Parkway. Learn about the upcoming events in Peachtree Corners, including the Ground Breaking of our new Town Center. The event will be presented by the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association.

Free Photography Workshop is coming to the Grayson Public Library on July 25 at 6 p.m. Join the Georgia Nature Photographers Association for this informal talk and Q&A photography workshop.  They will provide information about cameras, editing software, and tips for getting better photographs with the equipment you already have. There will be 31 photographs on display.


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