9/12: On food truck ministry; Trump Administration; Big Pharma

GwinnettForum  |  Number 17.44  |  Sept. 12, 2017   

HOW ABOUT A VISIT to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth?  See train locomotives, cars and even cabooses, and learn more about railroads. The museum is now open Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A major event will be soon when the Museum features the Smithsonian Magazine’s 13th Annual Museum Day Live! You can get free admission on this date, September 23. Download a Museum ticket by visiting https://www.train-museum.org/events/.


TODAY’S FOCUS: Dacula United Methodists Planning to Launch Food Truck Ministry
EEB PERSPECTIVE: Surprising Developments Recently Out of the Trump Administration
ANOTHER VIEW: Congress Should Put the People of the USA First, Not Big Pharma
SPOTLIGHT: Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce
FEEDBACK: Gwinnett Cities Beginning To See the Value That Art Brings
UPCOMING: Library in Suwanee To Host Virtual Dementia Tour on Sept. 14
NOTABLE: National Body Names Valerie Wilson Among Top 30 Educators
RECOMMENDED: Our First Revolution – by Michael Barone
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Oglethorpe Found Indians Were Quite Different from Those DeSoto Saw
TODAY’S QUOTE: A Stand for Compromise Is the Essence of the Democratic Process
MYSTERY PHOTO: Also Tell Us The Street Where This Photo Was Taken


Dacula United Methodists planning to launch food truck ministry

By The Rev. Alex Stroud, pastor, Dacula United Methodist Church  |  We have learned, in more than 180 years of ministry at Dacula United Methodist Church, that when God gives you a dream, doors will open. Sometimes those doors belong to a food truck.


Truck 316 started with a dream. Last fall, during a leadership retreat to plan for our church’s future, we discussed how to reach and serve more people in our community, improve worship, and better care for our people. We sought innovative ways to share Christ’s love in tangible and meaningful ways. Then, a voice from the back of the room spoke up: “What if we had a food truck?”

The conversation that day inspired and connected our faith and creativity in a powerful way.

What if we had a food truck so we could feed the homeless in our community?
…so we could give a meal to families that are struggling to put food on the table?
…so we could give comfort to a community struck by disaster?
…so we could feed people spiritually and physically at the same time?

The list kept going. We agreed to continue to talk, pray, and learn about this ministry. This project could have easily taken years to bring to reality. But what seemed daunting and impossible began to materialize almost immediately.

In early 2017, word of our dream traveled to the offices of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Conference leadership agreed to come alongside our efforts, contributing financially and with expert connections. We have learned from some of the best commercial food truck operators in the nation. We purchased a truck formerly used for linen deliveries and it is being professionally converted into a mobile kitchen.

The name “Truck 316” has dual meaning. In the Bible, John 3:16 is a well-known passage where Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We will convey this essential message to the people we serve every time we take the truck out.

Secondly, Truck 316 refers to Georgia Highway 316, a major artery that connects Atlanta and Athens, running right through our county, near Dacula, and a major part of our community life. It’s along this route that we’ll do the majority of our work – serving throughout Gwinnett County and the surrounding areas.

We are nearly ready to serve our first meals from the window on that truck. We have raised 75 percent of our funding needed to start the project. We plan to continue funding our operations with private donations and public grants as well as from proceeds at food truck events – allowing patrons to serve the less fortunate by simply eating with us.  We need sponsors that believe in this mission so we can get to our full goal of $123,000.

Follow us on our Truck 316 Facebook page. Keep this ministry in your prayers. Consider donating to this worthy, life changing cause.


Surprising developments recently out of the Trump Administration

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |   Have you been surprised as I have at the manner of our president recently?

On three occasions, what I had expected to see from the Trump Administration did not take place, bringing questions to mind, and giving our nation more hope.

The first incident came nine days ago with the response of the Administration to a move by North Korea. Instead of a presidential tweet, here was Defense Secretary James Mattis giving his own reaction on the incident. That same day at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley quietly read a restrained message about the situation.

Jump ahead a few days. This time, President Trump seemed to disavow a previous position about the “dreamers,” those affected about the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) proposal), saying that he might reconsider his earlier statement.  He was giving these immigrant students hope that they might not be deported, where previously all seemed lost to them.

And then a few days later, a real stunner.  Inviting the  congressional leadership to the White House, President Trump listened to ideas about solving the increase on the debt ceiling and financing the stopgap spending measure until mid-December. Included in the Oval Office  were the two Republican leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan, and their Democratic counterparts, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

After hearing several of their ideas, the president interrupted his Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and agreed with the Democrats.  The two Republicans sat silently, stunned that the president was jumping ship from the Republicans for the first time and relying on the Democrats to push this item forward.

Now here’s our take on how this came about. We think we see the hand of the president’s chief of staff,  Marine Gen John F. Kelly, in all three incidents.  Ever since the general has taken over as the president’s chief adviser, President Trump has been much more subdued. Something must account for the president’s much more restrained actions in the last few weeks. It makes sense to us that it is General Kelly who has set this new method for the Administration.

If so, more praise on the general.

And it may be that President Trump is recognizing that all his actions in the previous eight months have not gained him the success he yearns for.  Maybe he has come to the realization that taking matters in his own hands could stand some improvement.

The president perhaps confounded Republicans further by inviting, for the first time, a Democrat, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, to join him aboard Air Force One on a trip to North Dakota. Can’t you see Republicans asking, “What’s that about?” It may show the president’s new approach to bipartisanship.

We understand that the general is also taking charge in making sure that the president isn’t routinely interrupted by many who want to get his attention. A subdued list of routine visitors to the Oval Office, monitored by the general, could be paying dividends.

Our nation has been puzzled at the lack of leadership that President Trump has shown so far. He seems to get in the way of solving problems with his own abrupt actions, words and tweets.  

He seems a much calmer president in recent days.

With the threat of North Korea, and now the troubles of the hurricanes, and many more problems facing our nation, our United States looks forward to a more pragmatic form of leadership from President Trump. We can only hope that we’ll see that.

Were you also surprised at the move by more reserved tactics of President Trump recently?


Congress should put the people of the USA first, not Big Pharma

By Jack Bernard, Peachtree City, Ga.  |   We pay much more than other nations for drugs. With a 208 percent increase in pricing from 2008-2016, pharmaceutical price escalation is out of control and a key factor in driving up the cost of insurance.


In 1996, I was with an alliance of 1,100 hospitals which had the lowest drug pricing for U.S. hospitals. I approached the four Canadian Provincial Hospital Associations about joining and supervised a comprehensive analysis of comparative drug prices.

Our purchasing volume was many times theirs, but their pricing was considerably lower than ours. We went home with our tails between our legs.

In retirement, I am now a health reform activist and an American Association of Retired People (AARP) member. In May, AARP came out with a number of recommendations to moderate drug price escalation:

  1. Let Medicare negotiate drug prices;
  2. Allow more drugs to be imported;
  3. Create transparencies in drug pricing;
  4. Provide for easier drug comparisons; and
  5. Implement value based pricing.

As a nation, we should be examining what other developed countries are doing in order to keep their drug costs so much lower than ours. We are paying R and D costs for other nations, benefiting from new drugs but not paying for their development.

Congress is unable to agree on many healthcare issues, as evidenced by the recent failure of healthcare insurance reform. Drug pricing is no exception.

Not only do the Democrats and Republicans disagree, there is also significant disagreement within each party as to how aggressive a role the government should have in protecting the public and healthcare providers from price gouging. No doubt, the tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions by Big Pharma have had a chilling impact on objectively addressing the problem.

As AARP points out, President Trump stated during his campaign that drug pricing was outrageous and that it would be addressed when he became president. As is true with many of his “put America first” promises, there has been no forward movement on this topic. Why?

For once, our elected representatives must put our interests ahead of special interests. We must establish a bi-partisan Congressional study committee charged with determining why drug costs in other nations are so much less than ours.

This committee can then come back and recommend specific actions to Congress. Then, hopefully, our president will sign legislation that really does put the citizens of America first, rather than Big Pharma.


Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today’s sponsor is the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. The Gwinnett Chamber is the forum for business, government, education, healthcare, arts/culture/entertainment, and philanthropic and public service communities to come together to advance our region’s economy and enrich Gwinnett’s quality of life. The Gwinnett Chamber strengthens existing businesses, facilitates the growth of quality job opportunities and ensures success continues to live here.


Gwinnett cities beginning to see the value that art brings

Editor, the Forum:

The article on the Aurora Theatre expansion project for the Lawrenceville downtown in regards to arts and education is exciting.  The Aurora Theatre is a local gem.  Perhaps this will lead to more visual art venues, which our area is lacking.

With the Hudgens Center having a global focus, our local (and talented) visual artists look elsewhere to regularly show their work.  As our population has grown with residents from all over, the arts are something they expect to exist in abundance as a sign of a well-rounded, culturally literate community.

Several Gwinnett cities are beginning to see the value that art of all kinds bring — let’s hope they continue to grow in this area.

Karen Burnette Garner, Dacula

Those attending town hall meetings need modicum of manners

Editor, the Forum:

Mr. Pat Malone says that Congressional town hall meetings will return when the constituents return to a modicum of manners and respect for the office.

Maybe they’ll return when the office holders cease to do things and cast votes that most people would be ashamed of.

In addition: I was taught that courtesy is a given.  Respect must be earned, and frankly, most of our representatives have done little that they can be respected for, in my opinion.

— Robert Hanson, Loganville

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


Library in Suwanee to host virtual dementia tour on Sept. 14

Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL) has partnered with Second Wind Dreams, WSB-TV’s Family-2-Family project, and the Georgia Public Library Service to host the a virtual dementia tour the Suwanee Branch, 361 Main Street, on September 14 from 10 a.m. to noon.

One of five metro Atlanta library systems selected to host the tour, GCPL will help honor Second Wind Dreams’ 20th anniversary of outreach dedicated to the elder population and improved education for Georgians who provide care for seniors.

Guests will get a glimpse into the window of dementia through hands-on, individualized, experiential learning. It is a powerful way to connect society to a forgotten truth about seniors: the truth that age does not erase hopes and dreams.

The insight provided by the virtual dementia tour will alter perspectives and change the way people approach caregiving. It has also been lauded as a game-changer in helping understand what person-centered contact actually entails.

The program is free and open to the public but registration is required. Guests can reserve a time at www.iswdd.org.

Norcross seeking input on development around Lillian Webb Park

Plans for the development area surrounding the City of Norcross’ Lillian Webb Park are coming together, with active input from the downtown development authority (DDA), mayor and council, citizens, businesses and other Norcross community stakeholders. 

On Tuesday, September 12, the DDA will host a public input meeting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Norcross Community Center to present the market research, business model and conceptual design for the proposed development. Public review and input are encouraged.  The final design will be presented, at a later date, and will be subject to approval by the DDA, council, and the Architectural Review Board.

In the event that weather conditions require canceling the meeting on the 12th, the community meeting will be rescheduled for the evening of Thursday, September 14th at the same time and location.  Visit www.norcrossga.net for more information.

Georgia Swarm announces 2017-18 National Lacrosse schedule

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) World Champion Georgia Swarm has announced its 2017-2018 regular season schedule. In their third year in Georgia, the Swarm will begin the season with two road games in December, then have its home opener at the Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, December 30 at 7:05 p.m. against the Rochester Knighthawks.

The Swarm will have a banner raising ceremony celebrating its first-ever Champion’s Cup title. Swarm players will also receive their championship rings at the home opener.

Swarm fans with the purchase of four Season Tickets can receive a replica Swarm Championship Ring.

The 2017 NLL Season saw Georgia emerge as the dominant force in the league, finishing with a league-best regular season record of 13-5 and a postseason sweep of the Toronto Rock in the East Division Finals and the two-time defending champion Saskatchewan Rush in the Champion’s Cup Finals.


National body names Wilson among top 30 educators

The Center for Digital Education has announced its 2017 Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers – 30 education and technology leaders across America who are transforming the education landscape through the use of digital tools.


The only Georgian recognized is Valarie Wilson executive director of the Georgia School Board Association of Lawrenceville. Mrs. Valarie Wilson joined the Georgia School Boards Association in the summer of 2015 as its fifth executive director. Mrs. Wilson was elected to the school board of the City Schools of Decatur in 2002 and became the moving force behind the establishment of the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center, acting on research that shows that early childhood education is critical to success in the K-12 years.

A native of Swainsboro, Wilson is a graduate of Clark College and completed coursework graduate studies in public administration at Troy State University. She now lives in Decatur with her husband Carter, and has one son, Nicholas.


Our First Revolution by Michael Barone

Recommended by Sara Rawlins, Lawrenceville  |  Who knew in 1688 the British government had a revolution called the ‘Glorious Revolution’ that would change the course of our history with our own revolution many years later?  After Cromwell’s rule, Britain put Charles II back in power after beheading his father. His brother, James II, would also rule since there were no legitimate heirs. The ‘Glorious Revolution’ is about the struggle between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church and the declarations by King William III, Prince of Orange, Denmark (son-in-law to James II). The book was a bit boring since the author went over the same point numerous times, though adding bits of facts about some of the people who helped bring about the change in England. The book can be found in the Gwinnett Library system.

The full title is Our First Revolution – The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America’s Founding Fathers.

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


Oglethorpe found Indians were very different from those DeSoto saw

(Continued from previous edition)

By 1700 Carolina and Virginia traders also began to make contact with many of the natives in the interior of Georgia, along the Chattahoochee River. Both became slavers, and the latter group even moved to the Ocmulgee River, near present-day Macon, to be closer to the English traders. Here they continued to take in refugees and became known as the Ochese Creek, forming the nucleus of the people who would become known as the Lower Creeks.

Lower Creek slavers, along with Yamasee and Shawnee slavers, continued to target the mission Indians of Florida, probably under English persuasion but certainly to their own benefit. Through a series of devastating slave raids, the few remaining Timucuans were forced into southern Florida and later fled to Cuba. The last remaining province of mission Indians, the Apalachee, was gone by 1704, when the handful of refugees who remained fled west, to present-day Louisiana.

Meanwhile, the same forces swept into the west and north of present-day Georgia, as native slavers, trading with the English, French, and Dutch, raided far and wide throughout the eastern woodlands. 

The same process of dislocation and migration took place, and many groups banded together. These new groups became known as the Catawbas, the Chickasaws, the Choctaws, and the Upper Creeks, who later joined the Lower Creeks to form the Creek Confederacy. We still lack an adequate vocabulary to describe the Indian societies of the 17thh and 18th centuries. They have been called “confederacies,” “tribes,” and “nations.” For convenience some scholars call them “coalescent” societies, because they were all, in varying degrees, coalescences of people from different societies, cultures, and languages.

As the coalescent societies began to form, Native Americans in Georgia and throughout the South revolted against the slave trade and the English, in particular. This revolt, known as the Yamasee War of 1715, served the Indians’ purpose of reforming the trade, if not annihilating the English. Although Indian slaves continued to be bought and sold, the Yamasee War redirected English economic interests from Indian slaves to the skins of white-tailed deer. The Native Americans had made it clear to the English that slaving on such a large scale was dangerous, and the English concluded that importing slaves from Africa was safer and more profitable. The Indians of Georgia, now fully incorporated into the new economic system, turned to the deerskin trade as willing and savvy participants.

When General James Edward Oglethorpe settled Savannah in 1733, the natives he encountered were quite different from the native peoples that Hernando de Soto had encountered 200 years earlier; they were different even from the native peoples that the Virginia traders had encountered 100 years earlier. For Oglethorpe encountered the great coalescent societies of the Late Historic Period, the Cherokees and the Creeks—societies quite experienced in dealing with Europeans. Their societies had been shaped by their experiences with Europeans and in response to the new world economy in which they now were enmeshed.


Also tell us the street where this photo was taken

There’s an international element to today’s Mystery Photo.  Figure out where this photograph was taken, and please tell us the street and city and what this is. Send details to elliott@brack.net and be sure to include your hometown.

Last edition’s Mystery Photo was relatively easy for a few people. The photo was sent in by Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill.

George Graf of Palmyra, Va. was first to solve the mystery. He says: “This is Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County, West Virginia. I visited Harpers Ferry a few times many years ago and recognizing the Stephenson’s Hotel gave away the location.  Paths wind through Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which has over a dozen sites of interest some of which are the Restoration Museum, the Industry Museum, a Blacksmith Shop, A Place in Time Museum, the Provost Marshal Office, Stipes’ Boarding House, the Dry Goods Store, Arsenal Square, John Brown’s Fort, the John Brown Museum, the Civil War Museum, White Hall Tavern, and the Harper Cemetery where Robert Harper, who operated the original ferry is buried.” 

Other regular recognizing it include Tim Sullivan, Buford; Jim Savedelis of Duluth; and Stewart A. Woodard, Lawrenceville.


Virtual Dementia Tour: Spend 20 minutes experiencing life as it is like for those experiencing dementia.  This powerful free simulation teaches how to better respond and support those with dementia. This Tour is hosted by Gwinnett County Public Library in partnership with Second Wind Dreams.  The program sheds light on the positive aspects of aging.  This event will take place at our Suwanee Branch, 361 Main Street, Suwanee, on Thursday, September 14 from 10 a.m. until noon. The event is free but registration is required at www.iswdd.org. For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

Kudzu Art Zone’s annual 12×12 show begins on Sept. 15 and closes on October 8. The original art is all 12×12 inches original works. The paintings are an eclectic group of work on canvas.  Proceeds will support Kudzu’s efforts to bring art to the community through exhibits, classes, workshops and art camps for deserving children. A silent auction, with bidding closing at 2 p.m. on October 8, is part of this show. It is open during his year’s Norcross Art Splash. Kudzu Art Zone is located at 116 Carlyle Street in Norcross and is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., also open for the reception on October 8. For details see website: www.kudzuartzone.org or phone 770-840-9844.

10th Annual Rock’n Ribville Barbecue Festival will be Saturday, September 16 on the Lawrenceville Lawn. It will bring together local businesses, a Kansas City BBQ Societynational competition and traditional Southern barbecue together with live music, arts, crafts and kid-friendly activities. Festivities will run from noon until 8 p.m. with live performances throughout the day from Mia Green, Laughlin, Adam Craig, and a special performance by country music artist Rodney Atkins!  For more details visit www.RocknRibville.com.

Favorite Places, Favorite Things is a new art exhibit now open at the Pinckneyville Community Center at 4650 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The works reflect each individual artist’s depiction of objects and locations that bring them joy, and this is evident in their glowing imagery. Ranging from small, precious still life paintings to an enormous landscape of red rock mountains of the southwest, this is an eclectic exhibit. Hours of the exhibit are from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday. This exhibit closes on October 3.

(NEW) Ribbon cutting for Phase II of Rock Springs Park will be at 4:30 p.m. on October 3 at the park. It is located at 310 Old Peachtree Road in Lawrenceville.


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