9/8: Lawrenceville arts expansion; Early voting is popular; New class

GwinnettForum  |  Number 17.43  |  Sept. 8, 2017  

SAFETY NIGHT: Members of the Snellville’s Police Department will be out in force hosting the annual Public Safety Night on September 26, starting at 5:30 p.m. on the Towne Green. Numerous exhibitors will be providing information on personal safety, road safety for adults, teens and young children, gun safety and training, financial security, home security and pet security.  One of the highlights of the event, the Snellville Police K-9 officers will give two demonstrations throughout the evening along with a “How to manage a traffic stop” demonstration.
TODAY’S FOCUS: Lawrenceville Awards Design Contract for $26 Million Arts Expansion
EEB PERSPECTIVE: Early Voting Is Available in 34 States, Popular in Georgia
ANOTHER VIEW: New Leadership Class Starts Soon, Focuses on Southwest Gwinnett
FEEDBACK: It’s Good for China to Have A Crazy Friend Next Door
UPCOMING: Lawrenceville Awards Design Contract for $26 Million Arts Expansion
NOTABLE: Retired Snellville Police Officer’s Art To Be on Display Sept. 30
RECOMMENDED: The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Iroquois Indians Were Slave Raiders in Georgia Area
TODAY’S QUOTE: You Must Be Careful Where You Get Your Ideas
MYSTERY PHOTO: Quiet Setting of This Mystery Photo May Fool You
CALENDAR: Birders To Meet Monday at GJAC in Lawrenceville

Lawrenceville awards design contract for $26 million arts expansion

By Marci Gross  |  The City of Lawrenceville has awarded the firm of Stevens and Wilkinson (S&W) of Atlanta the design project for a new $26 million Arts Complex in the heart of the downtown connected to the Aurora Theatre.

The City’s existing arts and cultural facility is currently home to the Aurora Theatre, Gwinnett’s only professional theatre and second largest in the State of Georgia.

With this expansion, designers will focus on a vertical floor plan, expanding adjacent to the existing Aurora structure, to include a new 500-seat theatre, educational facilities, additional parking and common space.

City Manager Chuck Warbington says: “We are grateful to have S&W as partners and look ahead to seeing how they capture the City’s vision architecturally and help take us one step closer to embodying the arts and education hub we are.”

He adds: “When you are the county seat and have within your borders a college, theatre, government headquarters and are serviced by the county’s first-in-class school system, it just makes sense to embrace who you are and build on it. Thanks to the vision and bold leadership of our Mayor and Council, we are excited to be embarking on the next step in this project with a goal of completing it in 2020.”

John Abbott, principal of S&W, says: “We are excited to have been selected for this unique and very transformative project in Lawrenceville. We look forward to putting our design team’s fine arts’ expertise to work with modern architectural design, usable and relevant spaces and elements of traditional flare that Lawrenceville’s historic downtown commands.”

S&W have been in the architectural design business for almost a century, having taken root in 1919. Some of their more notable achievements include design work on Columbus State University’s Corn Center for the Visual Arts, the Fine Arts Center in Albany, Ga., and the Bailey Performance Center at Kennesaw State University. Additionally, the team’s experience also spans the nation with cultural facilities projects in Minneapolis, N.J. and Columbia, S.C.

S&W will work in tandem with the city’s project management team of Croft and Associates to develop a design solution for the complex. The firm will work with the existing theatre to keep it fully operational as they expand it within the same block. For more information on the City’s vision and projects at-work, visit www.lawrencevillega.org.

Anthony Rodriguez, producing artistic director of the Aurora Theatre, says of the move: “Since the day we opened our current facility in the Lawrenceville, May 2007, we have worked tirelessly to make Aurora Theatre a central hub and gathering place for our diverse city and county. And we have succeeded. Our programming has expanded year over year and we now produce over 800 events serving more than 80,000 patrons annually.

“The new facility will host our largest productions and allow us to fully realize our Learning Library shows, which entertain and educate over 20,000 Gwinnett County students every year. To say we are excited about the future would be an understatement. Ann-Carol Pence and I believe in our community and know that the arts make a difference. We have built an organization and place where a wide range of people, with vastly different world views, can come together and through the lens of art civilly discuss and debate those views reaching a greater understanding of one another.”


Early voting is available in 34 states, popular in Georgia

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  Early voting is popular in Georgia. Here in Gwinnett, about one-third of the votes cast are done in early voting.

Proponents of early voting say that you get a larger turnout this way, since it is more convenient to those registered to have several days to vote, instead of being required to vote only one day, that is, Election Day.

Opponents to early voting maintain that voters may make ill-informed decisions when they vote early. After all, what is something comes out about a candidate after the citizen has already voted?  They can’t “take-back” their vote if they find that their choice of candidate may be ill-advised because of some turn of events.

But sometimes, you wonder: while early voting is popular, did the Legislature go too far in setting the parameters for early voting.  It’s almost to the point, as one observer put it, that October seems to become “voting month” in Georgia. It’s not that bad, but seems so.

By the way, when there are federal candidates on the ballot (for instance, for an election for Congress, or for the presidency), a government must mail out absentee ballots 45 days in advance of Election Day. This allows people living overseas, such as deployed military, enough time to get their ballots by mail, and return them in time to be counted. For in-person absentee voting, it starts the fourth Monday before the Election Day.

There’s another element about early voting: it can cost governments for three people to operate the polls during early voting. There must be a manager, plus two assistant managers, on duties all day. That’s so there is transparency in voting, and no one person is charged with this.

Some cities, such as Grayson, allow regular members of their municipal staff to be the early voting officials. This way, it doesn’t cost the Grayson additional funds to maintain the early voting opening times. City Clerk Laura Cone tells me that they set up for early voting in the City Hall Conference Room. The staff continues their regular duties, then go into the Conference Room when someone comes in to vote.

The current law says that early voting will start “four Mondays prior to election day.”  With that the case this year, the election day for 2017 city elections is November 7, so early voting must commence on October 16.

For Gwinnett County in state or county elections, early voting is only done at the county election office in Lawrenceville 21 days in advance. For elections in 2018, the Gwinnett poll at the Election Center will be open four Mondays prior to the election date. However, for the week prior to election week, Gwinnett operates seven satellite locations for voting. These locations for the 2016 election were at Bogan Park Recreation Center, Dacula Park Activity Building, George Pearce Park Community Center, Shorty Howell Park Community Center, Lenora Park Activity Room, Lucky Shoals Community Center, and Mountain Park Activity Building.

While early voting is gaining in popularity throughout the nation, with 34 states allowing some form of early voting. However, there is no early voting in13 other states.

And there’s one more ripple: Three states conduct their entire election by mail, the states of Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Now that these states have perfected it, it sounds like a worthy goal for other states to consider.

One more voting fact: In Gwinnett, as of August 1, there were 479,268 people registered to vote.

CORRECTION: Through a transferring error, the listing of Catholic churches in Gwinnett somehow left off St. John Neumann Church in Lilburn, which has not only a church, but also a regional school with K through 8 classes. It has six masses per weekend, so the number of Catholic masses in Gwinnett is 64, not 58! We apologize for this overt omission.

See the revised listing of Catholic Churches adjacent.


New leadership class starts soon, focuses on southwest Gwinnett

By Betsy Corley Pickren  |  Gwinnett is Growing.  It is one of the largest counties in Georgia with over 400 square miles and more than 900,000 people.  While we enjoy being one county, the explosive growth has created specific needs for different areas.


Five years ago, Steve and Kim Dorough inspired others with the vision of bringing the three cities in Southwest Gwinnett County – Peachtree Corners, Norcross and Berkeley Lake – together to create a Chamber of Commerce focused on the needs of this area. Effective growth in business, non-profits and all aspects of our economy demands that leaders step up our ability forge new paths.

In 2015, Steve and I started the Center for Leadership with one course, The Leadership Challenge.   Why?

Today we expect leaders to establish direction in the face of complexity and constant change while they inspire a diverse workforce to channel their energies toward that future vision.

We see The Center for Leadership focusing on the following:

  • Vision: To be the role model for civic organizations to bring leaders together to develop mindsets and skillsets that equip them to serve the real needs of their families, organizations and community.
  • Mission:  To serve business, non-profits, government, education and community leaders by offering growth opportunities in their backyard – to introduce them to each other – to foster synergy – to magnify individual and group strengths for meaningful results.

We’re helping organizations grow from the inside out through leadership development in our own backyard. To date, over 35 people have completed The Leadership Challenge.  Graduates include business founders, CEOs, key leaders of organizations, city officials and non-profit leaders including those from churches.

The Leadership Challenge expands leadership skills, increases personal motivation and empowers leaders and their teams to grow together. Leaders who experience the Leadership Challenge are able to:

  • Discuss the five practices of exemplary leadership;
  • Demonstrate application of the five practices in daily life;
  • Clarify the vision of their teams; and
  • Use targeted language to enable others to take action and put heart in their work.

Consider attending and/or sending a few members of your team to the next available session starting September 14, at Brenau University, 2139 Campus Drive in Norcross. The classes are from 4:30 until 7 p.m. for seven weeks.  For more details and to register, go to www.southwestgwinnettchamber.org.

Quotes from participants:

“This class was super enlightening and opened up many deficiencies I did not know I had.”

“The leaders created an environment that fostered collaboration.  It’s great to learn from life-long learners.”

“This program was a fantastic investment of time and energy to promote personnel and professional leadership that would be an asset in any organization.”

“Of the many leadership programs, retreats, seminars and books I’ve been exposed to, the LCW stands out.  It is behavior-focused.  Talking about principles, healthy cultures and all that is great-but behavior has to change.  That’s the brass tacks, and that’s what the Leadership Challenge Workshop does.  I am walking away with a list of behavior changes that will make me a better leader.”


Brand Bank

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers.  Today’s sponsor is Brand Bank, Gwinnett County’s oldest locally-owned community bank with total assets of $2.4 Billion.  Chartered as The Brand Banking Company in 1905, BrandBank was recently named #1 in Customer Service among all banks its size in the United States as surveyed by CSP, Inc.  The full-service bank is committed to the communities it serves by combining best-in-class personal service with innovative products and services using state of the art mobile technology.  In addition to operating branches in Buford, Duluth, Flowery Branch, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Snellville, and Suwanee, BrandBank has a loan production office in the Buckhead area of Atlanta and in Cobb County.  BrandExpress offices are located in Buckhead, Suwanee, and Winder.  BrandMortgage is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Brand Banking Company and has an extensive menu of innovative lending products in 10 states.


It’s good for China to have a crazy friend next door

Editor, the Forum:

It’s interesting that China just does not know what to do to control North Korea.  China could bring that country to a grinding halt in days.  Is there an economic effect on China’s economy for the loss of exchange?

There is the problem of migration into Manchuria of people leaving North Korea, but what has stopped that now?  What keeps people in North Korea?

So having a crazy friend keeping United States engaged may be good for China.  Managing the situation to come out on top must be its goal.  China wants to dominate at least the Pacific area.

— Byron Gilbert, Duluth

Remembers first library in Lilburn in damp, dank cannery

Editor, the Forum:

Thank you for the wonderful article on the Lilburn Woman’s Club (LWC) recent donation to the Lilburn library. If memory serves; however, the first library in Lilburn was located in a dank, damp, old abandoned cannery, in the area behind Lilburn Middle School. Members of the Woman’s Club, of which I was one many years ago, read to children who would come to the library in the summer.

Later, the building pictured in the article was donated to LWC, but had to be moved from its original location to the property where it opened as a library.  The LWC purchased, and/or accepted through donations, shelves and books, the first focus being children’s books, to stock the library.

Elizabeth Neace, Dacula

Says when in-person congressional town hall meetings to return

Editor, the Forum:

Perhaps in-person Congressional town halls will return when we, the constituents, return to a modicum of manners and respect for the office.

— Patrick T. Malone, Blairsville

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


Look for lots of 5-10K runners in Suwanee on Sept. 9

Always wondered what your 5K time would be running in work boots? Consider a yellow safety vest to be a pretty good idea for road runs? Looking to wear that Village People Halloween costume again? Join us on Saturday, September 9 for the 17th annual ‘Community at Work’ Suwanee Fest Classi

This year’s construction-themed event doesn’t require a costume – but we’re pretty sure running 5-10 kilometers would be a lot more fun whilst wearing one.

Last year, more than 900 runners participated in the yearly Suwanee Fest 5K, 10K, and children’s one-mile fun run. Registration is now available at active.com. Participants will receive a finisher’s medal and race shirt. Prizes will be awarded for overall winners. Early packet pick-up will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on September 8 at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. Race day registration and packet pick-up will begin at 6:30 a.m. at Town Center Park. All races begin and finish at Town Center Park.

  • For more information regarding the Suwanee Fest Classic, contact City of Suwanee Events & Outreach Manager Amy Doherty at 770-904-3387 or adoherty@suwanee.com.

Retired Snellville Police Officer’s art to be on display Sept. 30

Retired Snellville Police Officer Linda Nixon will have her art featured at Cobble Creek Studios September 30. This free event is open to the public and is from 6 to 9 p.m. at the studio at 2257 Scenic Highway. Nixon’s art will be on display, along with pieces by John R. Duke, a watercolor artist and art instructor.

Nixon began working with the Snellville Police Department in 1996 as an officer in the Uniform Division. She served 10 years then moved into the Detective Division. In February of 2016, she retired after reaching 20 years of service to return to her artwork and gardening. She is now a member of the Southern Heartland Art Guild and has completed the classroom training required to become a Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer through the University of Georgia Extension.

She says: “Over the years I had taken photos of flowers, old barns, animals and places that I wanted to paint one day when I had time again. I had been painting in oil and drawing since high school. But painting had to take a back seat to my career and family. Just before reaching retirement, I met John R. Duke, a watercolor artist and instructor at Cobble Creek Studios in Snellville. John introduced me to ink-based watercolors as his student and has been quite an inspiration. So, I’ve been painting since and am really excited to be able to show my work.”


The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle

Reviewed by Karen J. Harris, Stone Mountain |  This is a compact but thorough road map for developing and improving skills.  The three sections; Getting Started, Building Skills and Sustaining Progress, each outline specific steps that can assist in achieving goals and making adjustments when necessary.  The author’s 52 steps can be used to improve skills in math, sports, and even music, and can provide the means  to enhance the performance of organizations. The steps are scientifically proven and are effective in a variety of professional or recreational arenas.  The explanation of the ‘sweet spot’ or the area just beyond the mastery of skill is compelling and worth exploring as way to improve performance.

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


Iroquois Indians were slave raiders in Georgia area

(Continued from previous issue)

The Iroquois Indians, seeking access to European goods and war captives whom they adopted into their kin groups to replace their dead, began doing business with English, French, and Dutch traders in the first few decades of the 17th century. Almost immediately this trade created a shatter zone of regional instability from which shock waves radiated out for hundreds of miles. The Indians of Georgia certainly felt these shock waves since some Iroquois raiders probably raided into north Georgia and since many of the northern groups suffering under Iroquois raids began to break up and move long distances west and south, seeking refuge.

Slaving in the South, however, probably did not become fully established until some time in the late 17th century, when Jamestown traders, recognizing the need for slaves to work the tobacco plantations, engaged Piedmont groups like the Occaneechis and the Tuscaroras as slave raiders. Like the Iroquois, these Piedmont slavers first raided among their enemies close at hand. During this time Cherokee-speaking people living in the southern Appalachians may have moved southwest, away from the slave raiders, with some perhaps moving into areas of north Georgia that had been vacated during the collapse of the chiefdoms.

In the late 1650s another group of Indians fleeing Iroquois slave raiding, possibly the Erie, settled on the Savannah River. Here they became known as the Westos to the English and as Chichimecos to the Spanish. The Westos were predatory slave raiders, allied with English slavers in Virginia and heavily armed.

By 1679, in their strategy of playing the English and French off each other and in an effort to replace the hundreds who had died in an epidemic, Iroquois slave raiders struck out to the west and south. Thus began the Iroquois southern campaigns against the “flatheads,” a term the Iroquois applied to all of the southern groups because of their custom of flattening the backs of their infants’ skulls at birth. In the South the Iroquois ranged far and wide. The extant records document their presence in the Carolina Piedmont, in Georgia and Alabama, in northern Florida, in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The Iroquois campaign lasted almost40 years; the Westos’ reign of terror lasted almost 20 years.

Assailed from the north by the Iroquois and from the east by the Westos, Indians deep in the interior of Georgia sought refuge by moving southward and westward. The groups that had settled along the upper Oconee dispersed, with some moving to the Chattahoochee River and with some perhaps joining the Timucuas and Apalachees. Others moved closer to the Spanish mission Indians of Guale and Mocama, on the Georgia coast, and became known as the Yamasees. The Cherokees, somewhat protected by their mountain location, began to coalesce as an identifiable political entity.

Cherokee towns took in many refugee groups and organized themselves into the divisions known during the Historic Period—the Overhill Towns, the Middle Towns, the Out Towns, the Valley Towns, and the Lower Towns. The latter two divisions made up the Cherokee inhabitants of north Georgia.

Westos slaving ended in 1681. When it became obvious that they were not under English control, the Carolinians hired a group of Shawnees, who had moved to the Savannah River in 1674 (possibly as one of many groups leaving the Ohio Valley because of Iroquois raiding), to destroy the Westos. A few years later, English pirates forced the Guales, Mocamas, and Yamasees to flee south to Amelia Island. In another testament to the unsettled alliances of the time, in 1685 the Yamasees, now allied with the English, began raiding the mission Indians for slaves, decimating the Timucua of northeast Florida by 1704.

(To be continued)


Quiet setting of this Mystery Photo may fool you

For this edition, the Mystery Photo may look like a simple military station, or perhaps Out West. But this may fool you. Send your best guess to elliott@brack,net, and include your hometown.

Spotting the most recent Mystery Photo was Mark Barlow of Peachtree Corners. He writes: “This is an interesting view of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. The 1978 movie, Star Trek, was partially shot there. I worked at the park that summer.”  The photo was sent in by Beverly Lougher of Lawrenceville.

Others recognizing the photo were Greg Stopher of Peachtree Corners; Logan Duke of Atlanta; and George Graf of Palmyra, Va. George writes of the photo:  “The Mammoth Hot Springs area sits on a bed of limestone which gives the terraces their white coloring. The natural landscapes at Mammoth are some of the most dynamic in the park and many of the features here can change on a daily basis. Hot water rising to the surface creates chemical reactions that dissolve and transform the limestone, depositing calcium carbonate in the form of travertine on the surface of the terraces. Microorganisms known as thermophiles (heat-loving) that survive in these extreme temperatures create the unique color palettes associated with the hot springs at Mammoth.”


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.

Fall Vegetable Garden Workshop: Join Gwinnett County Public Library and Gwinnett County Extension Agent Timothy Daly for this workshop on September 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Five Forks Branch of the Library. .  Daly will discuss the many vegetables that can be grown in our area and how to care for them to produce a bountiful harvest.  There is no charge but preregistration is requested by August 31 by contacting the Gwinnett Library at events@gwinnettpl.org.

Tours of Lilburn: Mayor Johnny Crist will host four tours in Old Town Lilburn on Saturday, September 9. These one-hour, air-conditioned bus tours will educate residents about future development sites in the city. The bus, provided by Providence Christian Academy, will transport 14 passengers on each tour, beginning at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. The tours begin at Lilburn City Hall-Library, 340 Main Street. To sign up for a tour, contact Public Relations Director Nikki Perry at nperry@cityoflilburn.com or 770-638-2223.

A service animal can make a difference in a veteran’s life. Join Pulitzer Prize Winner Ellis Henican and Musician Doc Todd, a combat veteran, on September 10 at 3 p.m. at the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center to hear of this program from these two people. Henican is the co-author of Tuesday’s Promise – One Veteran, One Dog, and Their Bold Quest to Change Lives, which is the follow up to the late Ret. Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan’s bestselling memoir Until Tuesday.  The book illuminates the disturbing reality of those living with PTSD and the hope and inspiration brought to so many by one man and one dog. Todd’s new CD Combat Medicine is dedicated to personal healing and restoration to give veterans a voice through music.  The program is presented by the Gwinnett County Public Library and is free to all.

(NEW) Southern Wings Bird Club will meet Monday, September 11 at 7 p.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville. Speaker will be John Shauger, about “birding in the Mayan Ruins,” including photos of exotic birds. For more information, visit www.southernwingsbc.com.

(NEW) Memorial Service: The city of Duluth will commemorate the September 11 attacks with a memorial service on Monday, September 11 at 6 p.m. on the Town Green.

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.

(NEW) 10th Annual Rock’n Ribville Barbecue Festival will be Saturday, September 16on 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 GreenLaughlinAdam Craig, and a special performance by country music artist Rodney Atkins!  For more details visit www.RocknRibville.com.


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