7/18: Aurora’s 22nd season; Ding-a-lings; Health care

GwinnettForum  |  Number 17.30  |  July 18, 2017

WOW! That’s a reaction by one person, at the left, learning that the person in the middle is pregnant. This takes place in the Lionheart Theatre’s production of Clybourne Park July 21 through August in Historic Norcross. Brandi Kilgore plays hearing impaired and pregnant Betsy (center). Diane Dicker plays Bev and Greg Fitzgerald plays Karl. For more details, see Upcoming below.  (Photo Credit: Sean Casey.)

PLEASE PUT  the Duluth Fall Festival on your calendars now.  This family-friendly event will take place on September 30th and October 1st. This is the 35th year, and it is consistently voted one of the top festivals in the whole area.  In fact, last year it was voted ‘Best Large Festival in the Southeast.’ It includes more than 350 arts, crafts and food booths, a huge parade, entertainment at three venues, “Man’s Corner,” a 5K road race, Gold Medal Shows Carnival, and much more. It is always Duluth’s biggest event of the entire year. www.duluthfallfestival.org.  


TODAY’S FOCUS: Aurora Opens 22nd Season With Hunchback of Notre Dame on July 20
EEB PERSPECTIVE: Those Ding-A-Lings Kept Adding Up….To Another Scam
ANOTHER VIEW: U.S. Should Abolish Health Insurance and Go To Single Payer System
FEEDBACK: Suggests That All School Districts Require School Bus Seat Belts
UPCOMING: Lionheart’s Clybourne Park To Be Staged from July 21-August 6
NOTABLE: Summer’s the Time To Watch Out for Scams in Home Improvements
RECOMMENDED: Brooklyn, a movie, directed by John Crowley, 2016 
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Auto Magnate Howard Coffin Leads Development of Coastal Georgia
TODAY’S QUOTE: Using Beliefs To Support Your Own Existence
MYSTERY PHOTO: Colorful Clues Look You in the Face in This Photo Mystery
LAGNIAPPE: Peggy Freeman Wins Daughters of the American Revolution Award


Aurora opens 22nd season with Hunchback of Notre Dame on July 20

David DeVries and Julissa Sabino

By Laurel Haislip, Lawrenceville, Ga.  |  Transporting audiences into one of the greatest literary works of all-time, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is set to kick off the 2017-2018 season at Aurora Theatre July 20 through August 27. This world-acclaimed play will kick off the Aurora Theatre’s 22nd season.

In partnership with Theatrical Outfit of In The Heights and Memphis acclaim, the show is based on the worldwide bestselling Victor Hugo novel with songs from the Disney film. This grand production will sweep crowds away into the adventures of a motley crew of characters in 1482 Paris, as they discover the true meaning of humanity.

Justin Anderson, associate artistic director of Aurora Theatre, says: “Many know and love this story, whether from reading the novel or watching the film. At its heart, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a story of faith: a faith in something beyond us and the faith that we are each something bigger.”                

Under the direction of Anderson, The Hunchback of Notre Dame traces the journey of Quasimodo, a deformed bell ringer in a cold, cathedral tower, as he discovers his inner strength. His guardian, Archdeacon Frollo, is torn between his vows to the church and his obsession with the beautiful dancer, Esmeralda. This epic tale set to music features an award-winning score by Alan Menken of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.

Vocal powerhouse Haden Rider stars as Quasimodo, joined by David DeVries, best known to Atlanta audiences as Scrooge in the Alliance Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, as the conflicted Dom Claude Frollo. Julissa Sabino plays Esmeralda, while stars Kevin Harry as Clopin Trouillefou and Lowrey Brown as Captain Phoebus de Martin help lead the impressive cast of 24 that will give voice to this award-winning score.

Season tickets are currently on sale, with individual tickets available beginning July 1. Tuesday discount matinee shows will be offered on Tuesday, August 1, 15 and 22 at 10 a.m. with tickets starting at $20. Regular tickets range from $30-$65 and may be purchased online at tickets.auroratheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at 678-226-6222. Season tickets and group rates are also available. For more information on this production or other programming, please visit auroratheatre.com.

Regular show times are as follows: Tuesday through Saturday: 8 p.m .and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Through their partnership with Theatrical Outfit, this production of Hunchback of Notre Dame will also run at the Rialto Center for the Arts from September 7-17, 2017. Tickets are available for purchase at bit.ly/TheatricalOutfitHunchback


Those ding-a-lings kept adding up … to another scam

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  Here’s a new twist on a scam. It started with a call to our house last Thursday.  On the line was a person saying he was a representative from the U.S. Marshal’s office in the Russell Building in downtown Atlanta, with an “urgent family matter.” We learned this in the answering machine message.

Those three words “Urgent Family Matter” should have been the first Ding-A-Ling.

However, I called the number back. It took several tries, but I finally got someone saying they were the U.S. Marshal’s office, and then they sent me to the correct “sergeant.”

He stunned me, asking why I had failed to appear to a federal court Grand Jury summons.

“What summons?” I asked.

“Didn’t you sign a postcard for a summons, not once, but twice?” the sergeant asked.

“No, not me.”

“Maybe your wife signed your name.”

“She hasn’t done that,” I told him. “She would have told me.”

“Well, we have to get to the bottom of this, for someone is signing your name to this summons. We need to see a copy of your signature to make sure it isn’t your signature on the card. Can you come down to the Russell Federal Building to do that today?”  

By then it was about 3:30 p.m. ”No, not today.”

“Could you go to the sheriff’s office, or your local police station to verify your signature?”  

“Well, maybe, but how would that work?”

“You would give them a copy of your signature, and within two to four  hours our office would verify it through our database. If it was not you who signed the summons, your failure to appear would be removed. You would have to give them a retainer while we verified your signature. That would be $2,500 on each citation, or a total of $5,000.”

Ding-A-Long No. 2.

“What, a $5,000 retainer?”

“Yes, and if the failure to appear signature was not yours, we would immediately mail you a certified check……”

Third Ding-A-Ling.

Click. (Us hanging up.)

* * * * *

We immediately went to see Norcross Police Chief Bill Grogan.

Relating the story, he started shaking his head, “Yep, that’s a new twist, but the same old story. We hear different versions of it all the time. “

Then Bill Grogan added:

“What I have thought for so long is that if these people trying to scam others, and other people who are hacking computers….they’re all smart people. They have so much ability. Why can’t they just put their talents to something positive? They could be successful in about any field.  Look at how slick they are once they get your name, address and telephone. But no, they make their living illegally these ways. They could do so much better if they applied themselves to conventional work.”

* * * * *

The Ding-A-Linging came down to a few key words.

“Urgent family matter.”

“Retainer” of $2,500 each.

“Certified check.”

How those scam artists would get the money was a subject I didn’t wait around to hear.  The Ding-A-Lings were enough for me.


U.S. should abolish health insurance and go to single-payer system

By George Wilson, contributing columnist  |  As the U.S. Senate is attempting once again to replace the Affordable Care Act with something more complicated and expensive, the Commonwealth Fund has released its latest evaluation of what, exactly, ails the U.S. health-care system.

Once again, the think tank found the U.S. medical system performed the worst among 11 similar countries, all while spending more. Moreover, the United States fared especially badly on measures of affordability, access, health outcomes, and equality between the rich and poor. The United Kingdom ranked first, and the other countries in the comparison were Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, Canada, and France.

Why is health care connected to insurance? The insurance companies make money by denying service. It’s monumentally insane, and the result is that we pay twice as much as similar countries for health care and by every marker, get abysmally less effective health care. Our infant mortality rate alone is utterly shameful.

As far as I can tell from this, every major problem goes back to health insurance. Health insurance is a cancer on our system. It undermines doctor’s professionalism by constantly double-guessing their most basic decisions. It reduces their options for where they can work, forcing clashes with hospital administrators.

The Commonwealth Fund  says that the percentage of doctors who report spending time getting patients medications:

  • Australia              11 percent;
  • Sweden                  6 percent;
  • United Kingdom  15 percent; and
  • USA        54 percent.

Health insurance undermines the doctor’s ability to perform by squeezing payouts to General Practitioners. It accelerates costs by making General Practitioners divert anything of moderate complexity to a specialist, who then orders tons of tests. It increases costs by adding massive billing overhead to every possible little thing that can be done in a clinical setting.

Finally, health “insurance” is a terrible model for healthcare. Do AWAY with it and go with a single payer system.


MTI Baths Inc.

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today’s featured sponsor is MTI Baths Inc. of Sugar Hill. MTI Baths is a manufacturer of high-quality acrylic and engineered solid surface bath products, including whirlpools, air and soaking baths; lavatories; shower bases; and kitchen sinks. MTI’s patented Fill-Flush® and Simple Touch® whirlpool cleaning systems are the best on the market. MTI now offers engineered solid surface–counter tops and sinks. Every product is custom-made to order and shipped within seven business days. We are now operating in an additional manufacturing plant of 38,000 square foot. CEO of the firm is Kathy Adams, while Russell Adams is president.


Suggests that all school districts require school bus seat belts

Editor, the Forum:

You can be arrested, if the police stop you, for not wearing a seat belt. Police may also charge any passenger without a seat belt. And young children must ride in the back seat in a specially-designed car seat. That seat must face a certain direction, or the responsible party can be put in jail.

All this being said, why do we allow someone we do not know to drive our children in a school bus crammed with students with no seat belts? After all, in case of an accident, children riding with no seat belts may be seriously injured!

The school districts spend millions on construction, salaries, and transportation to conform with State and Federal guidelines. But because neither the State nor Federal law requires seat belts on buses, they did not spend the money and require the buses to have seat belts for the children when they could use the money to pay a superintendent or a football coach over $100,000 a year.

This situation is unreasonable and almost criminal. We should require all school districts to affix seat belts in all their school buses.

— Alvin Leaphart, Jesup

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


Lionheart’s Clybourne Park to be staged from July 21-August 6

Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer and Tony award-winning play, runs July 21 through August 6 at the at Lionheart Theatre in Historic Norcross. It is being  produced by Merely Players and Lionheart.

Written as a companion play to Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, the play’s two acts are set 50 years apart.  Act I takes place in 1959 when the all-white neighborhood is preparing to receive its new neighbors, the Youngers, an African-American family who have purchased the home at 406 Clybourne Park.  In Act II, the neighborhood is in its present-day setting, predominantly African-American, facing gentrification.

Merely Players director, Joan McElroy, was drawn to the play because of its topical themes.  He says: “Though the two acts are set decades apart, we learn that things haven’t really changed in regards to relationships between race and class in America; instead, we’ve just become more open about the contempt between these groups.”

The cast features area veteran actors:  Steven Pryor (Russ/Dan); Diane Dicker (Bev/Kathy); Parris Sarter (Francine/Lena); Raleigh White (Jim/Tom/Kenneth); Darrell Grant (Albert/Kevin); Greg Fitzgerald (Karl/Steve); and Brandi Kilgore (Betsy/Lindsey).

Tickets are $15 or $12 for seniors and students. Tickets for all shows at Lionheart are available at www.lionhearttheatre.org . For information only, call 678-938-8518. Lionheart is located at 10 College Street, Norcross.  Free parking is located behind the theatre as well as in historic downtown Norcross.  The theatre is within walking distance of many fine restaurants.

Lionheart is also reprising the romping comedy Moonlight and Magnolias, about the exploits of the writers of Gone with the Wind.  Written by Ron Hutchinson, Moonlight and Magnolias runs August 10-13, and is directed by Debbie McLaughlin and Tanya Caldwell. Tickets are $10.

Vines Garden Railroad to be in operation this coming Saturday

The Vines Garden Railroad will operate this Saturday, July 22, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Garden Railroad will be open to visitors monthly the second and fourth Saturdays through September 9.

Volunteer engineers will be holding information sessions on trains and the model train hobby as well as demonstrating the outdoor garden railroad at the largest garden railroad in the Southeast. The Vines Garden Railroad features a “G” scale model railroad with over 1,000 feet of track, a 25-foot suspension bridge, tunnels and viaduct, airport, towns and villages.

Vines Park is located at 3500 Oak Grove Road in Loganville. For more information on the event, visit www.gwinnettparks.com or call 770-822-5414. For additional information on the Vines Garden Railroad, visit www.vines garden railroad.com.


Summer’s the time to watch out for scams in home improvements

Summer is often the time we dust off the tool box and tackle some of those home improvement projects. Knowing that many Georgians have home improvement projects on the mind, scammers seize the opportunity to knock on your door and offer “assistance.” And, some of that assistance may come in the form of offering a security system upgrade or special offer.

Vince Raia, EMC Security President and CEO, says: “Nearly every summer we see an influx of young door-to-door salespersons who prey on EMC Security customers, or Jackson EMC members who may have security with a different company. These sales representatives claim to represent EMC Security, or even Jackson EMC, and say they are there to upgrade your security system.”

During the visit, the scammers often present the homeowner with documents to urgently sign, claiming they are just administrative and there are no additional costs. In reality, the homeowner may be agreeing to service with a completely different company and signing a long-term, irrevocable contract with escalating fees.

Raia explained that legitimate security companies will always allow you time to review an offer for service. “Don’t be pressured into signing anything on the spot. Ask to have copies of documents to review for at least 24 hours,” he said. He added that if a company is unwilling to give you time to review an offer, or leave documents for you to review, that’s a reason to be wary.

And, while individuals normally have three days to change their mind after executing an in-home sales contract, those rights may be voided if the homeowner allows the work to be completed prior to the decision to terminate the contract.   

Raia adds: “EMC Security will never send anyone to a customer’s home without their prior knowledge. If members experience a visit like this, they should contact EMC Security and are also encouraged to call the police.”

Gwinnett library offers new access to digital magazines

Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL) customers can now access their favorite digital magazines using Flipster® from EBSCO Information Services. Flipster is a next-generation magazine service that allows people to browse digital versions of the latest issues of popular magazines, courtesy of the library.

GCPL has both Flipster and hardcopy versions of magazines such as People, Sports Illustrated, Time, and more so patrons have the option of accessing the content at the library or remotely. Magazines can be downloaded to Android™ phones and tablets, Apple® phones and tablets, and Kindle Fire tablets for offline reading anytime, anywhere.

Flipster offers an easy, browse-able reading experience. Users can browse magazines by category as well as perform searches for specific periodicals. An online newsstand provides a carousel of the most recent issues, as well as a carousel of all issues allowing for quick access to magazines. Visit www.gwinnettpl.org to learn more about accessing the library’s digital magazines through Flipster.

Snellville’s Arnold completes Clerk’s Educational Institute

Snellville City Clerk Melisa Arnold has completed the Georgia Clerk’s Education Institute Certificate Program. Arnold was originally hired in July of 1991 at the Snellville Police Department, later transferring into the city’s Administration Department. She became City Clerk in 2009. The program for city and county clerks is designed to establish minimum standards and professional goals for municipal clerks. From left are Snellville Councilman Roger Marmol, City Clerk Melisa Arnold, Councilman Dave Emanuel and Councilwoman Cristy Lenski. The Georgia Clerks Education Institute Certificate Program is jointly sponsored by the Georgia County Clerks Association and the Georgia Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers Association. State law requires anyone hired as of April 1, 1992, holding the title of “clerk” or performing the duties of a municipal/county clerk pursuant to the local charter, ordinance, or code shall attend a 15-hour mandated orientation training.


Brooklyn , a movie directed by John Crowley, 2016 

Reviewed by Karen Burnette Garner, Dacula:  In the 1950s, people from all over the world were coming to America, many through Ellis Island in New York.  A young Irish woman, Eilis (Ronan), leaves her small village behind to find a new life in Brooklyn.  Her voyage, settling in, and finding her way leads her to a young man, love and a quick courthouse marriage.  Tragedy strikes when her sister in Ireland dies, drawing Eilis back to her former home.  Her marriage a secret, she finds a new life of possibilities in Ireland, only to realize that she left her heart in Brooklyn.  Beautifully photographed, poignantly told, it is a story of the American dream.

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


Auto magnate Howard Coffin leads development of coastal Georgia

A successful pioneer in the automobile industry, Howard Coffin rebuilt an abandoned antebellum mansion on Sapelo Island and revitalized the agricultural potential on it, developed St. Simons Island and Sea Island as Georgia’s premier coastal tourist destinations, and provided seed money for the mighty pulpwood industry that continues to thrive in the state’s Coastal Plain. 

Coffin, right, with President Calvin Coolidge

Born in 1873, Howard Earle Coffin grew up on an Ohio farm and in Ann Arbor, Mich, where he studied engineering at the University of Michigan. It was there that he constructed his first automobile. It was steam-powered, and he used it to deliver the mail around town. He also made use of the university’s engineering shop in 1898-99 to build his first internal combustion engine. 

In 1902 the Oldsmobile Company hired him as chief experimental engineer. By 1905 Coffin was Oldsmobile’s chief engineer. Later he worked for the E. R. Thomas–Detroit Motor Car Company, the Chalmers–Detroit Motor Company, and the Hudson Motor Car Company, serving as vice president and chief engineer of each and designing many of their early models.

Coffin is known in automotive circles as the “Father of Standardization,” a result of his initiative in standardizing material and design specifications and in arranging for automobile manufacturers to share their patents. These accomplishments enabled the American automobile industry to grow quickly.

Before World War I (1917-18) Coffin served on the Naval Consulting Board, which helped plan the possible involvement of the United States in that conflict. 

Coffin led the 1916 preparedness campaign, including an inventory of the nation’s industrial capacity, something that had never been attempted before. When the United States entered the war, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson named Coffin to the Council of National Defense, which served as the country’s unofficial war cabinet. Coffin’s job was aircraft production. Through his leadership the U.S. Army Air Service ultimately became a significant arm of the military. He also led in building the revolutionary Liberty airplane engine.

After the war Coffin helped launch the nation’s commercial aviation program. He helped found and served as board chairman of the National Air Transport Company, a forerunner of United Airlines. In 1925 he served on the Morrow Board, which President Calvin Coolidge named to investigate and make recommendations regarding the federal government’s role in air safety and in creating an air defense system. The board’s recommendations established the principle of federal regulation of civilian flying, a vital step toward a federal air law.

(To be continued)

  • To view the Georgia Encyclopedia online, go to http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org


Colorful clues look you in the face in this photo Mystery

This week’s Mystery Photo doesn’t give you much in the way of clues, but we’ll tell you it’s a popular place at this time of year. Figure out where this is and send your idea to elliott@brack.net.

Last edition’s mystery was a simple photo, from Brian Brown’s Vanishing South Georgia site. It was of the Telfair County Jail in McRae, Georgia. And the only two eagle eyes among the readers was Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill. Ga., and George Graf of Palmyra, Va. George added: “The jail was built in 1902 and had some additions made in 2016.  I believe it is still in use.  Telfair County, designated in 1807 with territory taken from Wilkinson County, remembers Governor Edward Telfair. Born in Scotland, Telfair championed the colonists’ complaints against King George III and served as a delegate to both the Council of Safety and the Continental Congress. McRae, the county seat, is named for a pioneer Scot family of the area. Most of the early settlers here were immigrants from Scotland, Presbyterians who had come first to North Carolina and then moved south to obtain better lands.” 


Freeman wins Daughters of the American Revolution award

Peggy Freeman of the Philadelphia Winn Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Lawrenceville won a National Commemorative Events Award for her outstanding service to veterans of the Vietnam war. She also won a Department of Defense Vietnam Commemoration and a Georgia Certificate of Appreciation.  This came at the 126th annual Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington D.C. Twelve representatives of the local chapter were in attendance.


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