11/14: America Recycles Day; Gwinnett as microcosm; Shootings

GwinnettForum  |  Number 17.62 |  Nov. 14, 2017

A GIANT NORWAY SPRUCE TREE has arrived at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville and will be decorated for the holidays. Kicking off the Yuletide festivities will be the 30th Annual Lighting of the Tree at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse on November 23 at 5:30 p.m. In anticipation of Gwinnett County’s yearlong bicentennial celebration, the 35-foot Norway spruce will be festooned with tens of thousands of white lights reminiscent of candlelit trees of yore. The party includes live music and carols, food vendors, arts and crafts, and, best of all, Santa, who will light the tree and receive visitors in his living room inside the courthouse. Call 770-822-5450 for more information. (Photo by Doug Nurse.)


TODAY’S FOCUS: America Recycles Day To Be at Coolray Field on November 18
EEB PERSPECTIVE: Gwinnett Is Microcosm of What This Nation Will Soon Be
ANOTHER VIEW: Lowering the Flag and Silence Are Obscene When We Know the Real Facts
SPOTLIGHT: United Community Bank
FEEDBACK: Can We Seek Compromise, Rather Than Tearing Down Other Party?
McLEMORE’S WORLD: Need Someone at Front of the Ship
UPCOMING: Judge Rich of Gwinnett To Sit for Case on Supreme Court
NOTABLE: Villavasso Wins State Award for Work with Senior Golden Games
RECOMMENDED: Georgia Sea Grill, St. Simons Island, Ga.
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Mormons Say “No Law in Georgia for Mormons” After One Murder
TODAY’S QUOTE: What Luther Said When the Pope Demanded a Retraction
MYSTERY PHOTO: This Edition’s Mystery May Be Closer to Gwinnett Than You Realize
LAGNIAPPE: Eleven GACS Athletes Win Athletic Scholarships to Colleges
CALENDAR: Fire Tower Ribbon Cutting To Take Place Today


America Recycles Day to be at Coolray Field on Nov. 18

By Kasie Bolling, Lawrenceville, Ga.  |  Time to clean out your closets, basements, garages, storage sheds and attics, you are reminded by Gwinnett County Solid Waste and Recovered Materials Division and Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful (GC&B). America Recycles Day 2017 is just around the corner.

A Keep America Beautiful initiative, America Recycles Day was instituted in 1997 as a community-driven national awareness event designed to promote and celebrate recycling in the U.S. Although the nationally recognized date for this momentous occasion falls on November 15 each year, Gwinnett County and Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful have elected to host their event on Saturday, November 18 in hopes of encouraging the most participation possible.

In 2016 over the course of just three hours, nearly 200 volunteers helped collect 3,364 gallons of paint, 17 tons of paper, 1,700 pounds of textiles/clothes, 200 pairs of tennis shoes, 16.4 tons of electronics, 4 tons of tires and 239 printer cartridges for recycling.

Sumner Gann, program manager for GC&B, says:  “This America Recycles Day event represents the largest opportunity for locals to rid themselves of hard to recycle materials such as sensitive documents that need to be shredded, paint cans taking up space in their garage, old tires and electronics they no longer need.

“This event is an awesome chance for our neighbors to declutter their homes, and then come out to have some fun while doing something good for the environment. Over 4,000 people participated in the event last year, and we’re expecting an even bigger turnout this year! That said, we need lots of volunteers to help unload materials from people’s cars and make sure the items are properly recycled at each of the different vendor stations.”

Open from 9 a.m. to noon on November 18 at Coolray Field, located at 2500 Buford Drive in Lawrenceville, America Recycles Day 2017 will entail kids-friendly activities, touch-a-truck, opportunities to meet local haulers, refreshments, giveaways and the collection of the following items:

  • Paper (secure shredding of up to five copier boxes/vehicle);
  • Electronics ($10 cash fee per monitor or TV; $5 per printer);
  • Tires (up to eight/vehicle – no dealer tires);
  • Paint (up to eight one-gallon latex cans/vehicle); Paint cans must contain 25 percent wet, usable paint; no paint thinners, stains, spackle, oil paint cans, rusted paint cans or cans with dried paint will be accepted.
  • Ink/toner cartridges
  • Clothing and Sneakers, which will either be collected for donation to those in need or recycled into reusable surfaces for playgrounds and running tracks

Volunteers for this event for the day are still being sought. Interested parties can visit www.volunteergwinnett.net to register as a volunteer for America Recycles Day 2017.


Gwinnett is microcosm of what this nation will soon be

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher   |  Every now and then your mind wanders.

We in Gwinnett know we live in a good county, governed well at all local levels, with a beautiful mix of people from all over the world, who have decent jobs, get along nicely, and enjoy life here.

Also we know that Gwinnett is a place like no other, where its Chamber of Commerce finds it difficult to compare our county with any other with its strong workforce in many diversified fields. On top of all that, Gwinnett continues to grow, gaining since 2000 an average of 19,937 new residents a year. That’s more people migrating to Gwinnett each year than there are people living in 69 of the state’s 159 counties.

That’s the local scene.

Gwinnett is really a microcosm of what the United States will soon be. We have known that previously.

But have you thought: there is no larger country in the world like the United States, in that we have been a country of nothing but immigrants from our very beginning. A majority of us may have been born in this country, granted. But except for the native Indian population, all of us are descendants of people from across the waters.

Now think: are there other countries where immigrants make up the bulk of the population?  Yes, perhaps two major countries. Canada and Israel.

Of course, you have the South American countries. While some have large populations, we suspect that no country in South America is as diverse as is the United States.

When you think of the European and Asian major countries, none of them have been more subject to the continued influx of people than has the United States. About the only country in Europe that has added a significant immigrant population has been Great Britain, welcoming mainly populations from its colonial empire, from India, its Caribbean islands, and protectorates throughout the world. (Just think of places cricket is played: that’s where the immigrant Brits came from.)

OK, so with the United States being something of a unique nation, what happened?

Our nation adopted customs and ideas from many parts of the world, modifying them to fit into our culture, and growing from these many parts distinctive methods and practices that led to much of our success. It culminates in the American spirit of “Can do!”

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the many immigrant actions was adopting of the English language as their own tongue once they were here.  It has been only in the last 50 years that the influx of many Hispanic people has given rise to more two-tongued areas of the country. Perhaps the United States will someday be similar to Canada as being a country with two basic languages, a major change for the United States.

Serving as a melting pot in arrival of people from all parts of the world has been a major benefit for our nation. It has made us a stronger people, has driven us to new ideas and heights, and done its part in making us even a greater nation.

Now Gwinnett is leading the way in showing a people working together for the common good. Indications is that much of the rest of the country will be using this same platform as areas see the influx of a more divergent people.

It may be the catalyst of as President Trump says, “What makes this nation great.”


Lowering the flag and silence is obscene when we know the real facts

By George Wilson, contributing columnist  |  The shooters were just ordinary men, but the weapons were not ordinary.

        Killed                               Wounded

Sandy Hook                 28                                             27

Las Vegas                    58                                            489

Orlando                        49                                              58

San Bernardino          14                                              20

Aurora                          12                                              58

Sutherland Springs     26                                            20                                                                             

Totals:                      187                                        672

You and I can go into a gun store and as long as we don’t have a documented criminal record, and we can buy an assault rifle with a magazine capacity of 30, 45 or even 100 rounds. This is a weapon designed only for targeting people, in large numbers. And nobody knows your or my mindset, or just what exactly we intend to do with that assault rifle.

Many of my friends quit the National Rifle Association (NRA) a long time ago when it became obvious they were pure shills for military type assault guns, silencers, and armor-piercing bullets. Really, who outside of law enforcement should have those?

For one man’s supposed right to bear arms (let’s forget about the accompanying bit about context of well-regulated militia), 859 people and their devastated families have suffered.

Lowering the flag to half-staff and having yet another moment of silence is absolutely obscene when we know, with certainty, that some other undiagnosed psycho armed-to-the-teeth is probably already wondering how he can claim the mantle of the worst mass shooting. And yet Congress, specifically the Republicans, do nothing to head it off. It’s unconscionable.

Also, the Second Amendment is a farce, a white-only privilege. When blacks are executed by the police in open-carry states for legally possessing guns, the psycho killers at the NRA say nothing. The 2nd amendment is not about gun rights, it’s about white fear and money.

In a moment of such jarring tragedy, two sad, but indisputable realities were exposed — and then amplified — within minutes of the shooting: specifically, our gun manufacturers are heavily incentivized by market demand and lax laws in most states, and by the federal government, to allow mad men to accumulate all the firepower they crave for mass killings. This hasn’t changed even after the many mass shootings.

In fact, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have every incentive to protect the status quo, and they will until they are kicked out of office.


United Community Bank

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today’s underwriting sponsor is United Community Bank, with 30 offices within Metro Atlanta. Headquartered in Blairsville, Ga., it is the third-largest traditional bank holding company in the state with more than 134 locations throughout Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina. Since 1950, United Community Bank has been dedicated to providing platinum-level service to its customers as the foundation of every relationship. Known as The Bank That SERVICE Built, it is committed to improving the lives of residents in the communities it serves through this philosophy of delivering exceptional banking service. In Gwinnett, the bank has offices in Lawrenceville, Snellville and Buford.

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Can we seek compromise, rather than tearing down other party?

Editor, the Forum:

As I read Jim McGraw’s feedback, it reminded me of my mother. She was appalled at the thought that over 45 percent of households pay NO TAXES and “live off of the government.” Then, I reminded her, she is one of them.

My parents worked their whole lives and paid into Social Security (which was not intended to be a sole provider of retirement income, but rather a security blanket). The funds they are receiving are merely a return of what they paid in, not mooching. 

Do the rich pay most of the taxes? Absolutely. Do they reap more rewards? Absolutely. Do some people need an extra hand up so they can get out of poverty? Absolutely. Do some people abuse the system? Absolutely. Is the abuse by the rich or poor? Both. Republicans or Democrats? Absolutely both.

Americans are not as different in their desired goals as we think. We all want to see people have food to eat, a place to stay, quality healthcare, plus education and economic opportunities. It is unfortunate that so many discussions become so adversarial and confrontational. I would love to see more balanced opinions that don’t misuse statistics,  which both sides do. 

Wouldn’t it be great if we as Americans, and especially those we elect to office were more focused on finding compromises that worked than just being against the other party. For years, the Republicans were just against Obama. Now Democrats are just against Trump. Please come up with real ideas and solutions!

America is still the greatest country in the world. Just ask the millions trying to come.  There is no problem leaving. America can be greater if we truly care for one another.

Mark Evans, Duluth

Wonders just who pays the estate tax, and how many

Editor, the Forum:

Thanks to Tommy Purser of Hazelhurst for telling us that most families with farms are not subject to the estate tax when the owner dies.  The estate tax is meant to tax large estates, and he explains that the value of family farms is usually below the threshold.

I wonder who among us pays the estate tax and how many?  Rich people like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett, reduce or eliminate their estate taxes by giving a lot of their money to charities.  Wealthy people hire lawyers to set up trusts to reduce the value of their estates and avoid the tax man. 

Does any reader of The Gwinnett Forum know where we can get a list of names of people who actually pay the estate tax?

— Tim Keith, Sugar Hill

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


Hands over your head

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Judge Rich of Gwinnett to sit for case on Supreme Court


Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Randolph G. “Randy” Rich has been designated to serve in the Georgia Supreme Court, taking the place of Justice Michael P. Boggs on the appeal. The Court will hear arguments in the case of Hines v. State (S17G0024). It will be on November 13, at 10 a.m. In this Fulton County case, a man is appealing his armed robbery conviction, arguing that his trial attorney was ineffective. Judge Rich, 50, was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor Nathan Deal in May 2014. He was reelected in 2016. Prior to his appointment to the Superior Court, he was elected to the Gwinnett State Court in 2004. Before his judicial service, Judge Rich was a litigation partner in the law firm of Rich and Smith in Lawrenceville.

Johns Creek Symphony to perform Christmas Gala on Dec. 16

The Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra will open its 2017-2018 subscription season with its annual “Christmas Gala Holiday Pops,” featuring the Christmas Gala Chorus and guest vocalist Timothy Miller on Saturday, December 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Johns Creek United Methodist Church, 11180 Medlock Bridge Road in Johns Creek.

This family friendly concert, conducted by Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra Music Director J. Wayne Baughman, will include an audience sing-along and holiday favorites. In the Boston Pops style, this performance will include a variety of seasonal, sacred, and secular music, including John Rutter’s “Star Carol,” Leroy Anderson’s “Christmas Festival,” Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” and “Sleigh Ride,” among many others, filling the audience with the wonder and awe of the holiday season.

  • Tickets for this public performance are $32 for adults; $27 for seniors; and $16 for students. For tickets, call (678) 748-5802 or visit www.johnscreeksymphony.org. This concert is always popular every year, and patrons are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets well in advance.


Villavasso wins state award for work with Senior Golden Games

A state award has been won by Alan Villavasso for his lasting contribution to the long standing tradition of the Gwinnett Senior Golden Games. The award was from the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA), which recognizes the many talented and hardworking members in the parks and recreation industry.

The prestigious Volunteer Award was given to Villavasso, who is as a longtime Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation (GCPR) volunteer, and has served as president of the Gwinnett Senior Golden Games since Sept. 2011. Under his supervision, the organization oversaw 234 individual games, managed 234 events and more than 1,700 athletes. He moved the games forward, growing from 200 athletes to more than 300 athletes participating in 39 games in 18 GCPR facilities and five private facilities throughout Gwinnett County.

GCPR also won the Marketing and Visibility Publication Award for the marketing campaign of Older Americans Month to celebrate older Americans, their stories and their contributions. The Outstanding Programming Award was presented for the Aquatic Literary Nights, held in partnership with the Gwinnett County Public Library. GCPR hosted two events that brought to life different literary works. GCPR would like to congratulate all the winners of the GRPA District 7.

Simulation exercise draws Peach State FCU together

Each year, on the Columbus Day holiday, the entire Peach State Federal Credit Union staff gathers together for training. This year, training included participation in a life simulation. Designed by the National Credit Union Foundation, the life simulation was developed to help credit union staff, volunteers and leadership better understand the challenges faced by many credit union members and their families.

The life simulation lasted approximately three hours and immersed employees of the credit union, including the executive team, into the lives of typical families.

Peach State’s Training Manager, Crow Hunter, a CUDE graduate and lead facilitator of the simulation, believes that back-office and leadership staff would benefit from facing the same struggles that many credit union members face on a daily basis—even for a few hours. “Our goal was to enhance a sense of empathy within our staff so that they are better equipped to help our members from a place of understanding.  As a result, the staff gained a renewed sense of pride in their daily functions and are better connected with the members they serve.”  

Peach State’s Chief Administrative Officer Demitra Houlis said: “While our staff members are aware of the credit union difference and our overall goal of helping members afford life, the Foundation’s Life Simulation allowed us to emphasize that in an impactful way. The exercise was a great way for all of our employees, executive team included, to be reminded of our mission.  It was evident that the life simulation definitely made an impact on our staff.”


Georgia Sea Grill at St. Simons Island, Ga.

We are all creatures of habit. We have favorite restaurants on the Georgia coast and since we get to the coast seldom, we usually go back to the same ones. Yet this time when on St. Simons Island, Ga., we went to the Georgia Sea Grill, right on Mallory Street down from the Dairy Queen, and had a great dinner. It’s a little upscale, and serves great tastes from pimento cheese to a delicious low crab soup, cornbread dusted oysters, to other seafood and steaks. A nice touch were the hot rolls with bourbon nut butter. It’s open from 5 p.m. daily. Everything we tried was mighty tasty. We’ll return.–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


Mormons say “no law in Georgia for Mormons” after one murder

Mormon missionary Joseph Standing, an an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), was murdered in Whitfield County in 1879 at the hands of a mob comprising 12 local residents. He was laid to rest in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Latter-day Saints erected a monument bearing the words: “There is no law in Georgia for the Mormons.”


Joseph Standing, the son of Mary and James Standing, was born on October 5, 1854, in Salt Lake City. He was baptized in 1862 and subsequently ordained an elder. In 1875 he was one of seven men called to serve in the newly organized Southern States Mission, but he fulfilled his mission duties in Illinois and Indiana instead, laboring alongside friend and fellow missionary John Morgan.

In early 1878 he was again set apart for a mission to the South and assigned to the state of Georgia. There he was reunited with Morgan, who had assumed leadership of the Southern States Mission, as well as the responsibility for “gathering” the southern saints to the West. Like Morgan, Standing focused his proselytizing energies on the mountainous counties of northwest Georgia, and soon converts from Catoosa, Chattooga, Floyd, Walker, and Whitfield counties were making their way to a new Mormon colony in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. But conversion to the LDS Church in the 19th century often created separation—both physical and psychological—between converts and loved ones, which led some north Georgians to view the Mormon missionaries as a threat to family and community.

On July 21, 1879, as Standing and missionary companion Rudger Clawson traveled from Whitfield County toward a church conference in Chattooga County, they encountered an armed mob of 12 men. It is not clear that the mob intended murder, but by sundown Joseph Standing was dead, having suffered at least 20 gunshots to the head and neck. Clawson survived the encounter and resolved to return Standing’s body home to Utah. The Deseret News of Salt Lake City reported that 10,000 people attended the funeral service, which was conducted in the tabernacle at Salt Lake City on August 3, 1879.

By the time arrest warrants were issued for the 12 who participated in the mob, most had already slipped across the border into Tennessee. A posse finally captured three of the men and returned them to Whitfield County to await trial. When the grand jury met in Dalton in October, they returned indictments against all 12 members of the mob, charging them with murder and riot.

Individual trials for the three captured men followed, but within days a jury acquitted them of the charges. The grand jury then moved to absolve the entire mob of blame. Mormon authorities reacted angrily to the decisions and publicly denounced the state’s failure to hold Standing’s killers accountable. They did not, however, abandon the mission field in Georgia.

In 1952 a small memorial park was dedicated at the site of Standing’s murder in Whitfield County.`


This edition’s Mystery may be closer to Gwinnett than you realize

Today’s Mystery photo may be closer to Gwinnett, though not in Gwinnett, than you think. That’s all the clue we’ll pass along. Now send your answer to elliott@brack.net, and be sure to include where you live.

Mystery Photo at Brookgreen Gardens

The most recent Mystery Photo was set up as difficult by the contributor, Ross Lenhart of Pawley’s Island, S.C. You see, he sent two photographs, one more recognizable than the first. One photo he sent was taken near his home, at the entrance of Brookgreen Gardens, which was the Mystery Photo. He also had been to the American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mere in Normandy, where there is a similar statue. Ross did a good job of making the mystery difficult.

Only two people recognized the statue—in France. Allan Peel of San Antonio, Tex., wrote: “Unless this statue is replicated somewhere else, this photo was taken at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mere in Normandy, France. The statue is called ‘The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves’ and was created by Donald Harcourt De Lue. This was one of his seven works for a memorial to the fallen soldiers of D-Day located on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. This statue is the most famous of his works. It is a 22-foot high nude bronze figure of an American youth shown with arms outstretched and looking toward the sky. His legs and feet are curved back together as his curved body appears rising from the waves below. Not visible in this photo is the bottom of the pedestal with the inscription ‘MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE COMING OF THE LORD.’”

Statue in France

Good work, Allen, but nope.  Then George Graf of Palmyra, Pa. also came up with the same incorrect answer, saying: “I think the cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach.  Hopefully you didn’t use some Georgia trickery on this one.  There is a duplicate of the statue in Cantigny Park Il., but I couldn’t seem to locate any flagpoles in either of the locations that were very close as shown in the photo, so I’m going with the France location. On June 8, 1944, the U.S. First Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II.  After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site. At the center is a 22-foot bronze statue entitled The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves by Donald De Lue.  Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission, a small independent agency of the U.S. federal government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils.”


Eleven GACS athletes win athletic scholarships to colleges

Eleven Greater Atlanta Christian School athletes have signed intent agreements at 11 different colleges. Athletic Director Dr. Tim Vick says: “God blessed each of these athletes with great talent, coaches,teammates, and supportive parents. Anyone who witnessed this event walked away feeling grateful that these students will continue their journey at the college level. We congratulate them and pray that they will continue to honor God even in the games that they play.” From left are Amanda Briskin, softball at Samford; Maddie Marchiando, Stetson, softball; Taylor Sutton, Middle Tennessee, basketball; Jada Jones,Harvard, track; and Robyn Benton, Auburn, basketball. On the back row are Mary Martha Turner, Wofford, basketball; Jonathan Stuckey, Queens College, wrestling; Caria Reynolds, Hofstra, basketball; Tony Stewart, University of Louisville, diving; Carson Taylor, Virginia Tech, baseball; and Bruce Davis Smith, Jacksonville University, golf.


(NEW) Ribbon Cutting of the fire training tower at Maxwell High School of Technology will be Tuesday, November 14 (today) at 990 McElvaney Lane in Lawrenceville. The $600,000 fire tower was funded by the 2009 SPLOST program, except for $70,000 for the four-story tower from Gwinnett County Public Schools. The Maxwell school partners with the Gwinnett County Fire Department  to serve students in its Fire and Emergency Services Program.  

A Free Diabetes Expo will be held on Tuesday, November 14 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the North Tower Classroom 1 of Eastside Medical Center in Snellville, at 1700 Medical Way. Attendees will be provided with diabetes education by guest speakers and vendors, hear from experts on food planning, and what is new in diabetes treatment, and more. The hospital will also be offering free blood sugar screenings.

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.

Ribbon Cutting of a fire training tower at Maxwell School of Technology will be at noon, November 14, at the school located at 990 McElvaney Lane, Lawrenceville. For more information, all 770 822 7180.

The third annual Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Career Connections will be November 16, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Gwinnett Infinite Energy Arena. This allows the district’s eighth grade students to see what career opportunities are available in Gwinnett County. Businesses and organizations will have exhibits at the event.

Songwriter Radney Foster will appear Saturday, November 18 at 8 p.m. at the Red Clay Music Foundry in Duluth. Foster is a prolific songwriter. His newest work, For You to See the Stars, is in both CD and book format.  The book is a collection of short stories and each is coupled with a song from the 10-track album. The performance is through the Gwinnett County Public Library. For more information, visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

Ribbon cutting of the Lilburn Activity Building, on December 5 at 4:30 p.m. The building is at 788 Hillcrest Road, and was formerly the Lilburn Library. It is now under the supervision of the Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation Department.


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