10/20: Artist comes full circle; Faster computer; Congress abdicates

GwinnettForum  |  Number 17.55  |  Oct. 20, 2017

NOW ON DISPLAY at the Pinckneyville Community Center walls are 38 paintings by Artist Karen Burnettte Garner, including this one of shrimp boats. For an insight into how this Dacula artist became a success as a commercial painter, see Today’s Focus below.
TODAY’S FOCUS: Artist Comes Full Circle, to Pinckneyville, Where Her Creativity Began
EEB PERSPECTIVE: One Way to Solve the Problem of Getting Your Child a Faster Computer
ANOTHER VIEW: Congress Abdicates, While the President Uses Executive Orders
SPOTLIGHT: Howard Brothers
FEEDBACK: Weather Forecasting in Atlanta: Area Is the Size of Massachusetts
UPCOMING: First Public Orchard and Playground in SE Opens Oct. 22 in Suwanee
NOTABLE: County Chooses Pond and Company for 2040 Unified Plan
RECOMMENDED: Alexandria Reborn by Mark Wallace Maguire
GEORGIA TIDBIT: 30,000-Acre Cohutta Wilderness Is Largest in Eastern United States
TODAY’S QUOTE: Benjamin Franklin on Our Precious Freedoms
MYSTERY PHOTO: This Tranquil Mystery Photo Site Asks You for Identification
CALENDAR: Lilburn Candidate Forum Scheduled for Monday, October 30

Artist comes full circle, to Pinckneyville, where her creativity began

By Karen Burnette Garner, Dacula, Ga.  |  Over 30 years have passed since that first formal art class at the Gwinnett County Pinckneyville Arts Center near the Chattahoochee River  I’ve learned a lot since that first anxious, uneasy day of instruction.


Thankfully I met a wonderful mentor, John Baden-Nuttall, who taught me all he knew about art.  I learned how to “see” as an artist. I experienced many media, from oils to scratchboard, watercolor, acrylic, you name it.  I learned to draw figures from life. I learned the business of art, and how to hold a show of my work.  I also met some of the finest quality people I could ever meet, who shared my passion for creativity.

I became an artist through my class experiences.  Once, we all met next to an old mill to paint plein air.  It was autumn, with a blue sky the shade of sapphires.  The golden grass surrounding us moved like waves in the light breeze.  I had prepared fried chicken, a friend brought fresh bread and cheese, another brought fruit, and of course, someone brought a bit of wine to share.  Music from a tape deck played Mozart as a background.  The painting, the laughter, the LIFE in that single day was a watershed of my art journey.

As the years passed, I continued to learn in many ways, attending a few workshops, consistently painting, teaching myself to throw clay, and assembling stained glass pieces through molten lead and sharp corners. Creating eclectic designer jewelry, and teaching myself to use hot wax and torches has been a delight.

Indulging my thirst for learning, I spent hours researching art, its history, and technique. Atlanta galleries, design firms, and early outdoor shows began to expose my work to the public. I found commercial success for 15 years in the lovely city of Charleston, and my work hangs in the fine homes and businesses of many of its natives.

Creating has been a delicate balancing act. For over 20 years, I worked as an administrative assistant for Gwinnett County Public Schools while I grew as an artist.  After work, nights and weekends, I created art.  One of my friends used to joke that I worked for the school system to support my “art habit,” and they weren’t far off.  Two roles, each fully engaging, enriched both the art and the educational sides of my life.  With my recent retirement from the school system, art has taken center stage, and I am ready!

The riverside center where I began this journey has come and gone. It has been reborn into the Pinckneyville Park Community Recreation Center, a gorgeous, spacious center along Peachtree Industrial in the town of Berkeley Lake.  The classes are still going on, with new teachers and learners, and it is a popular event center.

A few months ago, I was approached to exhibit in a solo show there.  From now until January 4, 2018, I have 38 pieces of original art on exhibit and for sale, including one of my very earliest oil works, created at the original center.

I looked at the many pieces of art on display with a deep satisfaction in knowing that it all started with a parks and recreation class.  I found my calling at Pinckneyville.  Now I’m coming home.


One way to solve the problem of getting your child a faster computer

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  It’s a problem any growing family can have. Your son or daughter, already a whiz at computing, says that the computer now being used is “too slow.”  After all, those amazing games that many people enjoy, are best played on a modern, super-fast computer.

Recycled laptops you give to your children can be mighty slow.

Should you look into what your child recommends as a computer that might work for  these games, you will probably find that the price tag may be $1,500 or $2,000. That’s a bit of change!

We talked to one parent recently who found an innovative way out of this situation that paid extra dividends. It was Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley, whose 13-year-old son, Bruce Jr., was wanting that faster computer.

Let Chief Hedley pick it up from there:

“Our son is at Creekland Middle School, in the PROBE class, and he was so determined to get a faster computer that it was killing him.  He had been using my 10-year-old Nextel laptop, and it just did not have the speed he needed.  And he was getting blocked out, or the frames were freezing up.

“I had a hard time justifying spending that much money on a new computer.  But my wife, Michelle, and I came up with the idea of a contract with him.

Among the items in the contract were that he would treat everyone with dignity and respect, including the family; that he would not argue, pout, bicker or fight with anyone; he would keep his grades at least 85 or higher; he would finish his homework before playing games on the computer, which would be limited to two hours on weekdays; he would help around the house, such as running the vacuum cleaner and dusting twice a month; he would clean his room and bath and wouldn’t leave his shoes around, he would take out the trash, and bring the containers back in. He agreed to this contract and signed it.”

Bruce Hedley Jr. with his computer

That was about two months ago.

Bruce Sr. continues: “So our son did all the research on what he would need, and began ordering through the Internet parts for the computer from different manufacturers. I had gone over the list with him and approved the list, though really, I didn’t understand what he would be getting.

“The components came in within about two weeks. During this time I asked him why he wasn’t beginning to assemble the different components, and Bruce Jr. told he me wanted to wait until he had all the parts before he began. Meanwhile, he was tracking the parts  online. He finally told me, ‘Dad, I think the final piece will come in tomorrow.’

“And so the last part arrived. That day, young Bruce went to work assembling the components he had ordered. What astounded me is that within two hours, he had it all done. He was really motivated by wanting to get to faster gaming.”

Bruce Jr. had hooked his computer to the family’s previous 34-inch television as his monitor.

His father is impressed with his work. “It taught him so much more than just assembling the computer. It could open the door for future employment, or interest in science, or robotics, or coding. And the computer parts cost only $600. It was a win-win for us all.”

So, watch out for the next generation. They will surprise us all where they take us.


Congress abdicates, while the President uses executive orders

By George Wilson, contributing columnist  |  Speaker Paul Ryan to MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, about President Trump’s attacks on GOP lawmakers: “It’s what he does. We’ve kind of learned to live with it.”

Whether it is for raw partisan politics or failure of leadership or both, the legislative branches of the government continue to hand power over to the executive branch.

First Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader engaged in massive obstructionism topped by the refusal to bring up Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. This violated the spirit of the Constitution and was beneath the dignity and role of the senate. Indeed, it was McConnell’s stated policy to obstruct Obama’s agenda. This policy forced Obama to resort to executive action to get anything done thereby increasing the power of the executive branch of the government.

Now comes Donald Trump with a radical right-wing agenda and a divisive outlook on governing which includes attacking members of his own party!

After weeks of seeing his agenda imperiled by Republican divisions and infighting among his aides, President Trump has been reasserting his campaign priorities and trying to deliver wins for his fervent but frustrated base of supporters.

For example, President Trump took steps to dramatically undercut the Obama care health system, sent notice he was willing to scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran, moved to roll back coal-plant limits, and again demanded a wall.

Meanwhile, he has been using executive orders to roll back Obama’s previous executive orders: the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program; the Paris climate accords; the Iran nuclear deal; transgender people serving in the military; and on and on.  Plus, that most personal of policies for the former president: The Affordable Care Act.

Finally, the issue becomes: are we going to be ruled by laws that have been properly vetted and passed by the Congress or a series of executive orders that can be rescinded with a stroke of the pen?


Howard Brothers

Today’s sponsor is Howard Brothers, which has retail stores in Alpharetta, Doraville, Duluth, Oakwood and Athens. John and Doug Howard are the “brothers” in Howard Brothers. This family-owned business was started by their dad, and continues to specialize in hardware, outdoor power equipment and parts and service.  Howard Brothers are authorized dealers of STIHL, Exmark, Honda, Echo outdoor power equipment and Benjamin Moore paint.  Howard Brothers is also an authorized Big Green Egg, Traeger Grill and YETI Cooler dealer.


Weather forecasting in Atlanta: Area is the size of Massachusetts

Editor, the Forum:

I, too, have similar and additional gripes as Howard Hoffman does.  I understand that the weather folks in Atlanta have a huge weather radar that does all kinds of fancy things and it reaches far and wide. I also understand that the “metro” area is pretty large. As an aside, I once Googled the comparative size of Metro Atlanta. It is the size of the entire state of Massachusetts, my home state. Let that one sink in.

What irritates me is the huge coverage area they report on, not that the folks in Eatonton, Blairsville and eastern Alabama don’t deserve a weather forecast. But we now know what the weather in Blairsville, 72 miles from Buford, Rome, 90 odd miles from Buford etc. They then proceed to give a single prediction for the entire area. I’ve wasted too many good weekend days due to a report of 40 percent chance of rain only to find out the chance in Gwinnett was zero but there will be rain in Hiawassee, another 75 odd miles away.

It is one thing to cover such a large area. It is almost 150 miles from Eatonton to Rome, both cities in the weather broadcast. But couldn’t we simply break the forecast into areas and not treat the entire northern half of Georgia as one area experiencing the same weather? It would help if they would break it into zones. It would make planning a day much easier.

— Tim Sullivan, Buford

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


First public orchard and playground in SE opens Oct. 22 in Suwanee

The first public orchard and playground in he Southeast will open October 22 at 2 p.m. in Suwanee. The Orchard at White Street Park opening will feature a ribbon cutting, guided tours, activities for kids and adults, prizes and giveaways and the unveiling of donation plaques.

This is a fully functional orchard that will be open to the community. It is designed to provide families with a fun and engaging space that changes through the seasons. It will also encourage creative and self-guided outdoor play, and grow fresh fruit, The Orchard also includes lawn areas for relaxation and play, a pavilion, winding pathways, and natural children’s play features throughout the one-acre site.

Orchard landscape architect Roger Grant says: “The orchard was designed to incorporate fruiting plants, winding paths, lawns, and natural play features. It will be a unique and exceptional space for discovery and exploration and offer hands-on learning opportunities with a wide variety of fruiting plants.”

Annual Sugar Rush in Sugar Hill scheduled for Oct. 21

Sugar Hill will host its annual Sugar Rush Festival on Saturday, October 21from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Downtown Sugar Hill.

The day’s schedule includes rides, inflatables, a “chill-out zone” for dogs, face painting, vendors, pumpkin painting, plus arts and crafts. The Bowl stage will feature live music from Sugar Hill Church’s band and local musicians Chris Gonzalez and The Gasoline Brothers.  Nearly a dozen food vendors will also be on site.

Of special interest during the event is the Sugar Hill Arts Commission’s juried art show, which will be behind City Hall.  Nearly 100 pieces of art will be on display. Greg Mike will also be painting a live mural during the event.

Also of note, the city’s Historic Preservation Society will be hosting a gem-panning activity where children can pan for gems, reminiscent of the way that gold miners would pan for gold in the area.

This festival, which was re-branded as Sugar Rush after the city’s 75th anniversary in 2014, typically brings approximately 10,000 people into Downtown Sugar Hill \.  Previously known as the Sugar Hill Fall Festival, it has become a staple event in Gwinnett County.


County chooses Pond and Company to perform 2040 unified plan

Gwinnett County’s 2040 Unified Plan will be developed by Pond and Company under a $955,120 contract approved by commissioners on Tuesday. The plan will include population projections, land-use policies, public input and plans for future County development. It will integrate numerous departmental plans into a long-term vision for addressing growth in Gwinnett County.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash said the process will give the public a voice in how the community develops. “The new comprehensive plan will guide our future land development and economic growth and, we hope, help build support for local government policies,” said Nash.

State law requires the county to conduct research, involve citizens and compile a comprehensive plan every 10 years. State approval is required for many types of funding for infrastructure and other improvements. The 2030 Unified Plan was approved in 2009.

Pond is a full-service architecture, engineering, planning and construction firm based in Peachtree Corners that serves government, corporate and private sectors. The 2040 Unified Plan will be completed in late fall 2018. After review and approval by the Board of Commissioners, it will be sent to the Atlanta Regional Commission for review. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs must approve it by February 2019.

Partnership Gwinnett hands Echo Lakeside an award before it is built

A new housing community in Peachtree Corners has received recognition from the Gwinnett Chamber as an outstanding example of redevelopment, following the demolition of two 38-year-old office buildings. The removal of the buildings made room for Echo Lakeside, a 295-unit high end apartment complex that will offer interconnected hiking and biking trails, lake access with a dock and a dog park.

In recognition of its redevelopment efforts, the city of Peachtree Corners and developer Brand Properties received the community redevelopment award for Echo Lakeside. The workforce housing project is currently under construction off Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. And, amazingly, Echo Lakeside is just beginning construction.

The award was presented by Partnership Gwinnett, a public-private initiative of the Gwinnett Chamber dedicated to economic development in Gwinnett County.

The project was more than a straight-forward housing development. It involved a number of entities and a public-private partnerships. The developer worked with city leadership in the assemblage of 10 parcels in the Technology Park area. Through land donations and the transfer of density credits, the project was made financially feasible. The land donations were made to the city for the construction of a multi-use trail system and trail hub.

Project partners also included project architect Niles Bolton and Associates; general contractor Oxford Construction; landscape architect HGOR, and property manager Woodward Management Partners.

Lawrenceville branch library to offer access to 10 p.m. all week

Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL) will offer Open+ evening hours at the Lawrenceville Branch beginning October 30. Open+ will expand to 10 p.m. seven days a week after normal closing hours, giving customers increased self-service access to library resources beyond the morning hours currently offered.

The system, developed by Norcross-based technology supplier Bibliotheca, is a complete solution that automatically controls and monitors building access, self-service kiosks, public access computers, lighting, alarms, public announcements, and patron safety. GCPL became the first library system in North America to offer the service when it launched in June 2016.

Customers who are 18 years of age or older and hold a library card in good standing may register for Open+ at any GCPL location. Upon arrival, customers will insert their own library card into a reader at the entrance, enter a pin, and gain access to library resources.

  • For more information about Open+, call the Library Help Line at 770-978-5154 or stop by your local branch.

Two GGC students win scholarship from GC&B

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful (GC&B) has awarded two local students with scholarships and honored outstanding environmental stewards from the community. They are  Tyler Heath and Candi Abbey, both of Georgia Gwinnett College.  They each received $2,500 scholarships in honor of Gwinnett County Public School’s former chief operating officer, Jim Steele of Lawrenceville, who was also chair of GC&B.

Other 2017 awards from GC&B included:

  • Green Business Award – Rubicon;
  • Green Community Partner – Yellow River Water Trail;
  • Green Government – City of Peachtree Corners;
  • Jim Steele Green Educator – Lanier High School; and
  • Connie Wiggins Environmental Legacy Award – Rudy Bowen.

The awards came at the 11th annual Environmental Address by Gov. Nathan Deal. During his talk, Governor Deal highlighted the dichotomy between Georgia’s impressive and continued growth paired with its status as one of the Top Five Cleanest States in particulate pollution levels and a 30 percent decrease in water usage statewide. He also touted Gwinnett County as the “poster child” for the treatment and return of clean water back to the system, setting an example for other communities in the state.


Alexandria Reborn by Mark Wallace Maguire

This is the second of a three-part trilogy by a Cobb County author, who has been nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year award. He also works for the Marietta Daily Journal and is director of the Cobb Business Journal and Cobb Life magazine. This book is somewhat of a fantasy, as a person with powers that most others don’t have is brought into an organization that sees the world differently, and is out to save the world. There are other forces which must be conquered or put out of business. That’s where a science fiction type of approach comes in. The simple tale soon turns into an action thriller, with you wondering how this person can get out of his situation. It makes for fast reading and a fast page turner.  We look forward to the third volume in the series!—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


30,000-Acre Cohutta Wilderness is largest in eastern United States

(Continued from previous edition)

After the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838, much of the Georgia mountains was awarded to white settlers in 40 and 160 acre tracts. The better land along the main watercourses was settled first and immediately put under cultivation. Most property, however, was left forested—as much as three-fourths, according to federal census records. Major crops included corn, oats, rye, and wheat, but minor crops like sweet and Irish potatoes, flax, and sorghum were also commonly grown.

Committed to animal husbandry, mountain farmers raised hogs, horses, mules, oxen, and beef cattle. Of less economic importance but still vital to the household economy were the kitchen gardens, milk cows, and poultry—the responsibility of mountain women, and all influential in shaping mountain culture. On the eve of the Civil War, north Georgia farmers were also becoming known as exceptional shepherds. On just 267 farmsteads, Rabun County herdsmen kept a total of 7,824 sheep—an astounding average of 29 animals per farmstead.

Farming in the Georgia mountains suffered greatly during the Civil War (1861-65), with notable reductions in crop production and improved acreage.

Afterward, a new wave of land speculators and timber barons entered the mountains, hoping to transform them into their private domain of capital and wealth. One of the first industries to exploit the natural resources of the area was the copper industry. It needed vast amounts of timber to fuel its smelters and was devastating to the environment—by 1878 forty-seven square miles of timber had been eliminated from surrounding forests.

The exploitation of forests in north Georgia also inspired the national forest movement, which sought to set aside large tracts of public land for future use. Among the first acquisitions in the United States were Georgia mountain lands, a 31,000-acre tract sold to the federal government in 1911 by the Gennett Land and Lumber Company of Atlanta for $7 per acre. This land later became the Chattahoochee National Forest. The consolidation of land into large private and federal timber holdings greatly decreased the size of mountain farms, so that by 1930 the average homestead was fewer than 80 acres.

Today, much of the mountains are federally or state-protected, and these lands are used by thousands of residents for numerous outdoor activities. The Chattahoochee National Forest comprises more than 700,000 acres of public lands in the north Georgia mountains, including the 30,000-acre Cohutta Wilderness Area, the largest in the eastern United States.

Since the 1980s, large areas of north Georgia’s national forests have been subjected to clear-cutting and road-building projects, timber management practices that have forced environmental groups to challenge them in federal courts. On private lands, second-home development and telephone towers continue to erode the scenic beauty of the mountains. Although the long-term ecological health of the area is very much open to debate, the mountains of north Georgia will undoubtedly remain one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations.


This tranquil Mystery Photo site asks you for identification

This Mystery Photo seems to be in a tranquil area, with the water and the trees and a walk. Figure out where it is and send in your idea to elliott@brack.net. Be sure to include your hometown.

The last edition Mystery Photo was a plain building in plain site, sent in by Jerry Colley of Alpharetta. but only George Graf of Palmyra, Va. was able to pinpoint its location. George writes: “It’s the Indian Springs Chapel at Indian Springs, 1834 Highway 42 South, Flovilla, Georgia. According to a published history, the Indian Springs Chapel was built around 1890, from wood left over from the construction of the Wigwam Hotel, one of several hotels that once dotted the area to serve visitors to  the springs. The Baptist congregation that once met there turned the building over to the Butts County Historical Society in 1992, and since then, members have been working to maintain and restore it.  It sits along the side of Georgia Highway 42, south of Jackson, in the heart of what is known as the Village at Indian Springs.  The chandelier on the ceiling is original, though it was long ago switched from kerosene light to electric light.  The carpet has been removed, air conditioning installed, and windows replaced.  Several years ago, the building was painted yellow after a paint analysis found that it would’ve been authentic.”


A Candidate Forum will be held in Peachtree Corners on Monday, October 23, hosted by the United Peachtree Corners Community Association. The Forum, for the Post Four position, begins at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Christ the King Lutheran Church, 5575 Peachtree Parkway. Candidates are Jeanne Aulbach, Joe Sawyer and Luke Crawford.

Drug Take-Back Day is October 28. Dispose of expired or unwanted medication in an environmentally safe manner by dropping them off in front of the Sheriff’s Office at 2900 University Parkway (jail location). Drugs may be disposed of between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Water Resources Fall Festival is on October 28 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Yellow River Water Reclamation facility at 858 Tom Smith Road in Lilburn. Learn how water is reclaimed, cleaned and returned to the environment. Wear a Halloween costume, enjoy games, decorate a pumpkin, have a hot dog and win prizes at one of the best wastewater treatment facilities in the nation.

(NEW) Author appearance: bestselling author and Edgar Award winner Stuart Woods will talk and sign books on Monday, October 30, at 7 p.m. at the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center, at 10 College Street. The event is presented by the Gwinnett County Public Library. The event is free and open to the public. A silent auction and beverage bar will be sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Woods’ latest book, Quick & Dirty, is an action-packed adventure featuring Stone Barrington. For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

(NEW)  A Candidate Forum will be held in Lilburn on October 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lilburn City Hall. Meet the candidates running for Post 3 on the City Council: Shabaka Fletcher, Phillip Holland and Eddie Price.  Moderator will be Emory Morsberger. The event is presented by the Lilburn Woman’s Club and the City of Lilburn.

Extra Mile 5K Walk/Run will be held November 4 at Suwanee Town Center Park starting at 8 a.m. Registration begins at 7 a.m. The Extra Mile 5K benefits Annandale Village at Suwanee, to bring awareness to adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries. To register visit www.Extramileclub.com.

Veteran’s Day, November 11 at 11 a.m., will be observed by Gwinnett County at the Fallen Heroes Memorial, in front of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Building.

Trafficking Forum (rescheduled): 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.


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