10/3: On the Skillet Lickers; On President Trump’s past week

GwinnettForum  |  Number 17.50 |  Oct. 3, 2017

STRING PLAYERS from Gwinnett continue a 90 year-tradition with a group known as the Skillet Lickers. From left are Russ Tanner, Dacula; Larry Nash, Dacula; Brian Stephens, Monroe; Joel Aderhold, Walnut Grove (banjo); Fleet Stanley, Clarkesville; and Phil Tanner, Dacula. Read more about this group in Today’s Focus below.
TODAY’S FOCUS: Dacula’s Skillet Lickers Continue Musical Tradition of 90 Years
EEB PERSPECTIVE: What a Week of One Situation after Another for President Trump
SPOTLIGHT: The Piedmont Bank
FEEDBACK: Wants Military Forces To Be in Charge in Puerto Rico
UPCOMING: Lawrenceville Proposes New Library Near Hooper-Renwick Building
NOTABLE: All 100% of GGC New Nurses Pass National Licensure Program
RECOMMENDED: The Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Creation of Georgia’s Large Water Reservoirs Began in Early 1900s
TODAY’S QUOTE: If It Works for Waiters, Why Can’t It Work for School Teachers?
MYSTERY PHOTO: Unusual Sculpture Is Subject of This Issue’s Mystery Photo
CALENDAR: Veteran’s Roundtable Coming October 11 in Buford

Dacula’s Skillet Lickers continue musical tradition of 90 years

The Skillet Lickers are composed of Russ Tanner, Phil Tanner, Joel Aderhold, Brian Stephens, Larry Nash and Fleet Stanley.

By Josh Tanner, Dacula, Ga.  |  On 1926, Columbia Record’s artist and repertoire talent scout, Frank Walker, took a trip south from New York City to put together an all-star cast of north Georgia musicians and dubbed them “The Skillet Lickers.”  Gid Tanner, Riley Puckett, Clayton McMichen and Fate Norris were already considered regional celebrities from their popularity at the Atlanta Fiddlers’ Convention and other live shows and events. They proved to be one of Columbia’s most successful groups from this new “hillbilly” brand of music.

Josh Tanner

Other musicians would eventually join the group and record alongside the Skillet Lickers.  People like Lowe Stokes, who was the inspiration for the Charlie Daniels Band classic, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, and  Burt Lanem, who was Clayton McMichen’s brother in law, were later additions to the band.  Gordon Tanner, who was Gid’s son, recorded on the Skillet Lickers biggest selling disc, Down Yonder, for RCA’s Bluebird label at the age of just 17.

Gid was the group’s leader.  Many agree that he wasn’t the best musician or singer of the group, but he was certainly the showman of the group.  As time moved by and early members of the group scattered and settled in different parts of the country, Gid kept his home in the small town of Dacula.  His son Gordon continued to play music as he raised a family in Dacula as his father had done.  Gordon’s son, Phil, took to music and to this day, still makes a home in Dacula.  Now Phil’s son, Russ, has also picked up the music and the Skillet Licker name that started three generations earlier.

Record labels and big recording contracts are no longer in the cards for today’s Skillet Lickers. They are still going after 90 years, but continuing the tradition of the original group: telling a story, entertaining people, and having fun doing it. After Gid’s passing in 1960, his son Gordon would pick up local musicians and retain the name, The Skillet Lickers, upholding the historic band’s namesake.

The current lineup of the Skillet Lickers includes Phil and Russ Tanner along with Fleet Stanley, Joel Aderhold, Brian Stephens and Larry Nash.  The current musicians have a different perspective on the music than the original members had in the 1920s.

The Skillet Lickers have recently written and performed two different theater shows.  One production tells the story of The Skillet Lickers and their role in the development of the recording side of the country music industry.  The other show tells of the history of radio and its development in America, specifically as it relates to the Skillet Lickers and roots music.

Their current project includes producing and playing in A Sanders Family Christmas, which is a musical that will run for 14 shows at the Cumming Playhouse beginning on November 24.

Earlier this year, the group was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame in Wilkesboro, N.C., and most recently received a proclamation from the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners highlighting their body of work as the Skillet Lickers.

They are recognized as the longest running group in country music history. While much has changed in this area over the 90-plus years, the Skillet Lickers have been a constant – and they’re still proud to call Gwinnett County home.


What a week of one situation after another for President Trump

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  Just about any week this year, news people all across the country….and the world….can take that week’s developments out of the Trump White House and write continuing  analysis.

Last week proved to be an unusually apt week to consider the Trump presidency.

It starts out (again) with Presidential Tweets. It was the president continuing in the football arena with his thoughts about footballers who didn’t, he felt, show proper patriotism during the singing of the National Anthem. By the end of the week, even the football owners who had supported him were upset with his tweets into the football world.

Earlier, on September 21, Hurricane Maria was wreaking devastation on Puerto Rico, and soon the island was in devastation.   However, days later, Mr. Trump was still concerned about the football aspect.

Only this week is he finally going to Puerto Rico to witness the damage, after 11 days. You wonder why he could not take Air Force One, which was standing by, sooner. We hope his visit is enough to have him rush more efforts to help our American citizens there.


Then later last week came more uproar over one of Georgia’s own, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was chartering private jets to travel around the country.  The Washington journalism  company, Politico, had first reported of the Secretary’s fondness for private jets, rather than commercial airplanes, for his travel.

(You might like to know: Wikipedia says this of Politico: … an American political journalism company based in Arlington County, Virginia, that covers politics and policy in the United States and internationally. It distributes content through television, the Internet, physical newspapers, radio, and podcasts. Its coverage in Washington, D.C., includes the U.S. Congress, lobbying, media and the presidency.)

Then we later hear that not only Secretary Price, but other members of the Trump cabinet have used private, or U.S. military jets, for their own transport to sometimes private events. You wonder what punishment, if any, the president will lay on them.

Amid all this, remember, there is a real problem coming out of North Korea. And the president seems to be of no help in this issue, either, even dissing his Secretary of State on trying to open talks with the North Koreans.

You can see that the week was not stellar for President Trump.

Meantime, the smallest figure for Price traveling in private jets is $400,000, while some report that it could be as much as $1 million.  But never worry, Secretary Price said on Thursday that he would repay the government not in full for his authorization of the flights, but would pay back $50,000 for “his seat” on these planes.

Then on Friday, another turn for Secretary Price: he’s out as the secretary.

You see, Mr. Price “resigned.”  At least some say that. In the end, we are sure that he faced the ultimatum “You’re fired” from the President. Only by resigning, it is more seemly, and the President isn’t involved.  Sure, he wasn’t.

But, oh, the $50,000 check from Mr. Price?   We haven’t heard if it has cleared the bank yet, especially after “his decision” to resign.

We’ll give our president this much: never in all the years of any president, has he and his cabinet and White House staff had as many ups and downs during their first nine months. Mr. Trump is the all-time champion of an upheaved presidency.

Meanwhile, the country tries to continue, in spite of the president.  His leadership style amounts to no leadership at all….often because of his own shooting himself in the foot.


The Piedmont Bank

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. The Piedmont Bank, which opened its doors on June 30, 2009, is a full-service bank. It recently closed a merger with Mountain Valley Community Bank in Cleveland. It now has offices in 10 locations, with its home offices at 5100 Peachtree Parkway in Norcross; and other locations at 185 Gwinnett Drive in Lawrenceville; east of Interstate 85 near Suwanee at Old Peachtree and Brown Roads; and in Dunwoody at 1725 Mount Vernon Road, in Cumming at 2450 Atlanta Hwy. Suite 1801 and in Cleveland, Gainesville and Jefferson. It has a capitalization of $80 million, and more than $800 million in assets now. The bank is making substantial business and personal loans. Its directors include Lamar Black, Ray Black, Paul Donaldson, Robert D. Cheeley, Marc Greene, John J. Howard, J. Paul Maggard, Monty G. Watson (who is chairman) and T. Michael Tennant. Deposits in The Piedmont Bank are insured by the FDIC.


Wants military forces to be in charge in Puerto Rico

Editor, the Forum:

A TV program featured a former governor of Puerto Rico. What was evident to me was the vast war-torn conditions that exist in the island after Hurricane Marie and the lack of organization by the civilian authorities. Like so may political remedies, all the efficiency ends at the top.

The military should go in with enough troops to cover the entire island and with total authority. In the short term, the food should consist of primarily dried food like Advocare Products that are high in vitamins and protein and dried milk for the children. Then they could concentrate on water delivery and purification. The food stuffs could be distributed by helicopter.

This reminds me of a line in the novel, The Caine Mutiny,  “When in danger . . .When in doubt. . . Run in circles . . . Scream and shout.”

As the Chinese say: “The first thing we need is order.”

Army occupation forces who follow the Infantry and other forces into a war torn area after conquest know how to reorganize quickly from chaos . That is what we need to save thousands of people both sick and well from starvation and death due to lack of food and medicine.

— 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


Lawrenceville proposes new library near Hooper-Renwick Building

Gwinnett County and City of Lawrenceville officials have begun formal discussions for a new library in Lawrenceville. It will relocate the Lawrenceville Branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library to a site near where the city plans to preserve of one of its most historically significant sites, the African-American Hooper-Renwick School.

The historic building, owned by the City of Lawrenceville, is located in a strategic part of its Downtown. This development marks the first step in a multi-phased project to expand Lawrenceville’s Downtown and infuse Gwinnett’s core with an urban residential, retail, and cultural focus in a mixed-use environment.

Gwinnett County Chairman Charlotte Nash says: “The county is very pleased to accept the city’s offer of a site for a new Lawrenceville branch library within its exciting downtown development. It is especially meaningful that the library will be adjacent to the historic Hooper-Renwick School building, which has great significance for the African-American community and for the story of Gwinnett.  The City and the County aim to pay tribute to history while providing learning opportunities for the future. We look forward to working with the City to weave these shared objectives together into an experience that touches and enriches all who visit.”

Hooper-Renwick School was Gwinnett’s original school for the African-American community prior to integration in the late 1960s. In efforts to learn more about the facility’s history and explore options for redevelopment and use of the space, the City of Lawrenceville appointed a 12-member legacy preservation committee that provided insight and a framework on which to build this strategy for a combined civic space.

Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson says: “Hooper-Renwick is a significant part of both the City and County’s history. Thanks to the leadership of the Hooper-Renwick Legacy Preservation Committee (HRLPC) and city staff, we now have a deeper understanding of the profound impact this facility has had on the African-American community – its past, present and future.”

Theresa Bailey, chairperson of the HRLPC, says: “Today, we, the Hooper Renwick Preservation Committee, having met at the table of compromise in working to preserve the building’s original 12-room structure, are proud to declare before God Almighty that the demolition ball, once assigned to the dismantling of our beloved Hooper-Renwick High School, by its own destructive forces has been demolished!” Hooper-Renwick school was originally built in the 1940s and expanded its facilities until 1968.

The City hopes to begin design and initial preservation activities in 2018 with the goal of completion by 2020/2021. Funds for this facility have been identified through the 2017 SPLOST.

Meeting Sunday is about old times at the Snellville Historical Society

The next meeting of the Snellville Historical Society is Sunday, October 8 at the Snellville Senior Center 2 p.m.

It will celebrate the community and the people who helped to pull all the kids and families together over this large territory that was Snellville Consolidated and South Gwinnett school districts.

The topic for the meeting will focus on the influences of the athletic programs on the school and the community. In many ways, the sports and after school activities brought the vast  territory together.

The  school district covered from the DeKalb County line to Rockdale County, Walton County and up to the city limits of Lawrenceville. The territory was over seven miles in each direction:  Possum Lake, Lithonia, Loganville, Grayson, Trickum, Promised Land, Snellville and all parts in between.

The speakers include Jack Britt, Bobby Johnson, John Sawyer, Roger Parham and Dale Vickery.


All 100% of GGC’s new nurses pass national licensure program

Gwinnett College’s (GGC) spring 2017 bachelor of science in nursing graduates achieved a highly coveted 100 percent first-time pass rate for the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Nursing program graduates are required to take the NCLEX exam to receive their registered nursing license (RN). The exams have been administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. since 1994, on behalf of the boards of nursing for all 50 U.S. states, four U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

Dr. Sharon Grason, director of nursing at GGC, says: “Each of our 72 alumni have passed the NCLEX-RN, but we are particularly proud that our spring 2017 graduates all passed it on their first attempt. This achievement is directly related to the dedication, compassion and commitment of all GGC nursing students, faculty and staff.”

This is only the second year GGC has graduated bachelor degree-prepared nurses. Its highly selective program uses an innovative, concept-based curriculum and complete “flipped-classroom,” co-learning approach.

In an effort to mitigate the nursing shortage in the region, Georgia Gwinnett founders made a commitment to the Gwinnett community to develop a baccalaureate degree in nursing. Since then, the college has graduated 72 nursing alumni who all work in the Gwinnett and Atlanta areas. The college’s program launched with just 31 students in fall 2014 and has grown to the current roster of 133 students, about 34 of whom will graduate in December.

Gwinnett Tech gives awards, outlines Launch Pointe program

Gwinnett Tech’s Volunteer and Benefactors of the Year showcase the awards they received at Gwinnett Tech’s 2017 State of the College Address. From left are Jennifer Hendrickson, Gwinnett Tech’s director of Institutional Advancement; Mikhail Britt, CFO of Shumate Air Conditioning and Heating; Mary Byerly, Gwinnett Tech’s vice president of Institutional Advancement; Dr. Julio Ortiz, department manager, Aftersales Training; and Robert Tomlin supervisor of Technician Recruitment, Development and Retention with Mercedes-Benz USA.

Dr. D. Glen Cannon, president of Gwinnett Technical College, made the address, outlining the college’s achievement of goals for the year. He also announced the launch of the College’s new Center for Internships and Entrepreneurial Excellence, now known as Launch Pointe. It will serve as an innovative, career- and workforce-focused resource center for student career development and training. Launch Pointe will offer internships, apprenticeships, networking and high-level career coaching. Eventually, Launch Pointe will dovetail into entrepreneurship and small business development training.

Special recognitions were awarded. The Automotive Advisory Board was recognized as the 2017 Advisory Board of the Year. Jan Webster, 2008 graduate in Culinary Arts, won the Alumni of the Year Award. Mercedes-Benz USA received the 2017 Benefactor of the Year Award.  Mikhail Britt, chief financial officer for Shumate Heating and Air Conditioning, was recognized as the 2017 Volunteer of the Year.

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful announces new youth council members

The “Class of 2017-2018” for Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful’s (GCB) Green Youth Advisory Council has been announced. The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) seeks to create a framework for youth engagement and environmental stewardship. The newest group of 19 student-leaders represents the local eco-focused nonprofit organization’s fourth Green Youth Advisory Council (GYAC).

During their time in the Council, GYAC members will collaborate with other youth and government leaders to promote sustainability and civic engagement throughout the Gwinnett County community. At the end of the school year, GCB will award a $1,000 post-secondary scholarship to the GYAC member who best demonstrates exceptional leadership and program development skills.

The Youth Council members for the 2017-2018 School Year are:

  • Sarah Parker – Archer High School;
  • Jaqueline Sanchez – Berkmar High School;
  • Joshua Tyrell and Juwon Slater – Central Gwinnett High School;
  • Theresa Argott and Malika Montgomery – Dacula High School;
  • Alondra Montiel and Kathy Ho – Discovery High School;
  • Cameron Karambelas – Grayson High School;
  • Abigail Mathews and Justin Fung – Gwinnett Online Campus
  • Lauryn Saddler and Kevin Chen – Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology;
  • Hanh Bui – Meadowcreek High School;
  • Sarah Grace Fanczi – Mill Creek High School;
  • Jasing Yang, Kimberly Cang and Yung Ning Jao – Norcross High School; and
  • Celine Johnson – North Gwinnett High School.

The Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

The usually prolific McCall Smith has written a charming book which has nothing to do with his No. 1 Ladies Detection Agency series, or his several other series of books mainly about Scotland. This time it’s a male Scots food writer, headed to Tuscany to write at the height of the tourist season, and…..there are no cars to rent. But a friend knows someone….and the only vehicle available is a bulldozer, which he rents. And off we go off into the adventure. The inventive mind of McCall Smith never falters with the story, or in giving readers pleasure.  It’s a little complicated, with three women involved. Then there are the people of a small Tuscan mountain bringing character and story, and always there’re the strange Italian customs, such as the geographical limits of a certain Tuscan wine, adding more twists to the story. Again, purely delightful! Read and enjoy!–eeb

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


Creation of Georgia’s large water reservoirs began in early 1900s

The creation of large reservoirs in Georgia began in the early 1900s, when the Georgia Power Company impounded waters for use as cooling structures for coal-fired electrical plants and hydropower. Additional reservoirs were built in the 1930s by the Tennessee Valley Authority as part of a large flood control and power generation project in the Tennessee River valley.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began constructing dams in Georgia for navigation and flood control in the 1940s and 1950s under the Flood Control Act of 1944 and the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954.

Lake Allatoona

Several of these dams also produce hydropower. The Georgia Power Company and the Corps of Engineers continued to impound rivers for power production and flood control into the 1980s. The majority of new reservoirs in Georgia at the start of the 21st century are being constructed for the purpose of increasing the local water supply. The state of Georgia in 2003 had 30 large reservoirs.

Many of the smaller impoundment structures in Georgia were also begun under the Flood Control Act of 1944 and the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under the Small Watersheds Program, 357 watershed structures were constructed in Georgia. Many of these structures are nearing the end of their 50-year life span and require repair or rebuilding to meet dam safety laws.

The larger impoundments of Georgia are primarily concentrated in the northern half of the state, in the Piedmont. The land flooded by many of these impoundments was largely left intact; that is, buildings and many of the trees in the area were submerged as the waters accumulated behind the dam. The underwater landscape in these impoundments includes standing vegetation and building remnants that provide fish habitats.

Many smaller impoundments are built by either excavating or clearing depressions before filling them with water. In the construction of many small impoundments, particularly in the unconsolidated soil of the Coastal Plain, the soil is compacted, or liners (of fabric or compacted clay) are used to prevent water loss through seepage.


Unusual sculpture is subject of this issue’s Mystery Photo

Where and what does this issue’s Mystery Photo represent?  In a way, it looks like merely a bug, but the detail shows children included.  Send in your thoughts to elliott@brack.net and be sure to include your hometown.

The sculpture of Benjamin Franklin relaxing proved somewhat difficult. Only two readers correctly identified it.  Kay Montgomery of Duluth was first, saying: “This is in downtown Jackson Hole, Wyoming.”  The photo was sent in by Mark Barlow of Peachtree Corners.

George Graf of Palmyra, Va. added this tidbit: “This is at Mountain Trails Gallery, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  The bronze sculpture is the work of Gary Lee Price, whose hundreds of works are included in public and private collections in homes, galleries, museums, libraries, corporations, cities, and educational institutions throughout the world.  The 61-year-old sculptor resides in Mapleton, Utah.”


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.

The Elisha Winn Fair is scheduled for October 7 and 8 at the birthplace of Gwinnett at the Elisha Winn house, 908 Dacula Road, near Dacula. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Sponsored by the Gwinnett Historical Society, admission is $3 for those 12 or older. The fair will feature tours of the house, with period furnishings, a one-room school, a working blacksmith shop, an old log jail and barn, live demonstrations, and a real cotton patch. Other entertainment includes arts and crafts, antique vendors, re-enactors, live bluegrass music, a handmade quilt raffle and food vendors.

Kudzu Art Zone’s annual 12×12 show runs through 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) Veteran’s Roundtable: Gwinnett Public Library, in partnership with Goodwill Industries, has a Gwinnett Veterans Monthly Roundtable Meeting. The next will be October 11 at the Buford Branch of the Library. 2100 Buford Highway. Enjoy comradery and receive help and advice on filing VA claims, medical and educational resources, housing, job resources, and more.  No reservations are needed.  Drop-in between 1 and 3 p.m. For more information, email cwalker@ging.org.

RE-SCHEDULED: The Fall Community Forum on Domestic Minor Human Trafficking has been rescheduled for Tuesday, November 14 at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 2140 Beaver Ruin Road, in Norcross. For more details, contact Muriam.Nafees@gwinnettcounty.com.


HANDYMAN SERVICES: Whatever your home maintenance problem is, Isaias Rodriguez can help. An experienced painter, he is dependable in installing or repairing siding, gutters, ceramic tile, plumbing, garage doors, or any other problem around your home. He’ll even fix your bike! He is originally from Mexico and has been in Georgia since 996. He is legally allowed to work in the United States and is insured. Give him a call at his home in Norcross at 404-569-8825 or email him at rodriguez_isais@yahoo.com. Visit his Facebook page at Neza construction and home repair to see some of his past work.


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