1/12: On GEDs and work in Tuscaloosa

GwinnettForum  |  Number 16.76  |  Jan. 12, 2018

A NEW BUFORD HIGH SCHOOL is rising, though the school will not be opened until the fall of 2019 or be open in the winter semester of that school year. The new school is more than 400,000 square feet in size, and will cost $69 million. It is located on a 52-acre site on Georgia Highway 13, about a half mile north of Buford City Hall. Besides classrooms, it will have two gymnasiums seating 1,100 each, and a Performing Arts Theatre, also of 1,100 seats. The contractor is Charles Black Construction Company of Cleveland, Ga., while the architect is Doug Breaux of Alpharetta. Currently there are between 200-250 construction personnel on site any given day. Buford residents approved in 2015 by a vote of 204-12 a general obligation bond to pay part of the costs, while e-SPLOST funds will also be a source of funding for the school.

NOTE: GwinnettForum will observe the MLK Holiday. The next issue will be published on Wednesday, January 17. –eeb

TODAY’S FOCUS: Over 400 Students Gain GED Diploma from Gwinnett Tech for Fall
EEB PERSPECTIVE: Work Begins at Tuscaloosa for New Building for the 17th National Trophy
FEEDBACK: Pleased To See Original Logo Design Still In Use at Rainbow Village
UPCOMING: North Gwinnett Kiwanis Plan 10th Annual Father-Daughter Dance
NOTABLE: Dr. Stephens Higgins Is New Chief Medical Officer at Eastside Hospital
RECOMMENDED: The Greatest Showman (movie)
GEORGIA TIDBIT: French Actress Sarah Bernhardt Performed Twice in Atlanta
TODAY’S QUOTE: Sentence of 81 Words Defines an Economic Bubble
MYSTERY PHOTO: Unusual Building Design of this Mystery Photo Gets Your Attention
LAGNIAPPE: Three Duluth Council Members Receive Oath of Office
CALENDAR: Martin Luther King Parade in Lawrenceville on Monday

Over 400 students gain GED diploma from Gwinnett Tech for fall

By Debra Bloom, Lawrenceville, Ga.  |  On the heels of being named Georgia’s 2017 GED (General Equivalency Diploma) Testing Center of the Year, Gwinnett Technical College’s Adult Education department reached another milestone, graduating over 400 GED students for the fall 2017 semester. Many have had to overcome great obstacles and hardships to get to this moment. Many have waited years to finally don the coveted cap and gown and walk across the commencement stage.

Stephanie Rooks, Gwinnett Tech’s dean of Adult Education says: “That’s an encouraging number! Our department is committed to our students. We don’t want them to just get their GED. We’re committed to providing students with the skills, resources, training and guidance needed to advance into college or a career.” Rooks continues: “We meet our students where they are and help them push forward with their lives and chart a new course for success.”

Phil Klein, dean of Health Sciences, gave the keynote address. Klein shared words of encouragement to the graduates saying “There was likely a time in your life when a college education felt out of reach. Today, right now, that education is right in front of you. Grab that opportunity and embrace your future.”

Raquel Mohammed, the GED graduate speaker and Technical College System of Georgia Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education finalist, told her story of walking onto campus for the first time with her son. “Sitting with my son and his enrollment adviser as he enrolled in college, I learned of the GED program at Gwinnett Tech. For the first time in 30 years I became intrigued and excited.” Out of work and living on a single income, Raquel made the decision to enroll at Gwinnett Tech and earn her GED. “The barriers and limitations we have faced have been removed. Education is a way out of poverty. Poverty of mind, body and well-being.”

According to Rooks, Gwinnett Tech’s dean of Adult Education, many of the GED-earners have already accepted that challenge. Rooks reports, “Thirty-four students from this class have already enrolled at Gwinnett Tech to further their education. They’re just getting started.”

Gwinnett Tech’s Adult Education department offers one of the best GED programs in Georgia. In 2017 the College had the most GED graduates in the state and the program received recognition as the 2017 GED Testing Center of the Year.

Gwinnett Tech’s Adult Education department serves approximately 2,300 GED prep students each year. The College offers six adult education centers in Gwinnett (including partnerships with Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department, Gwinnett County Public Schools and Gwinnett Juvenile Court) and three centers in North Fulton, as well as four GED Testing Centers.

Orientation, assessments and classes are offered to students for free. The cost to take the GED test is $40 per subject area. Residents of Georgia who earn a GED may also be eligible for a $500 HOPE GED grant, which can be used toward continuing postsecondary education in Georgia. To learn more about the GED program at Gwinnett Tech, visit GwinnettTech.edu/ged or call 678-226-6702.


Work begins at Tuscaloosa for new building for the 17th national trophy

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  We bet there’s a lot more work going on over at the University of Alabama these days, after winning their 17th national football championship trophy.

That’s because ’Bama’s got to build another entire building to house their latest national trophy.  Seems like it’s the university’s tradition to house national title trophies in separate buildings.  In the days before Bear Bryant when they didn’t have much to gloat about, it seemed like a good idea to showcase (literally with a whole building) the big accomplishment.

While joy reigns supreme in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for one group, it’s more back to hard-work and fundraising.  They must raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the building to house and commemorate the latest new national football trophy and national title. (Each of the 16 previous trophies has its own building). The campus is about to run out of land area for these buildings. But, like the football team, they’ll find a way.

All this came about years ago when a former president of the University of Alabama didn’t want to keep all the football trophies in his own office. Would seem like bragging.

So all around the campus, there are individual three-story buildings built for each trophy, all distinctly designed, with similar floors.  Of course, you don’t just build a structure for the trophy. Other items belong in the same structure that houses the trophy.

For instance, the team uniforms.  On each second floor, about 3,500 square feet in size, is about a half-size locker room, and stalls. Each individual stall has individual jerseys and pants and shoes neatly arranged, which has the name of the player stenciled above it. (Shoulder, knee and other pads are not there. That would make it look cluttered.) Since the players don’t practice or dress here, there are no showers, so that cuts down on the size of the floor.  However, it does take up the entire second story.

The third floor is the media room. Just think of the wall space it takes to display the many different sports pages after each Alabama championship! Doing it first class, the media room wants every single championship story displayed, especially national media. All this is climate-controlled, of course, so the newsprint doesn’t yellow. The media area takes up so much room there is no rest room on this floor. And the storage for the game and highlight tapes is just off the small (about 100 seat) auditorium in each of the Trophy Houses.

Then there’s the replica of Coach Nick Saban’s office. Naturally, it’s on the first floor. On special days, you can find the coach in the latest Trophy House, signing autographs. There’s only a ten-dollar charge to get near him.

We hear that even the late John Portman wanted to design a Trophy House, but they told his firm they didn’t need an atrium.  While the competition is open to designers all over Alabama, would you believe it, no one from the Auburn Architectural School has ever snared this contract.

It’s all part of what makes the University of Alabama great. Other universities just wish they had such trophy houses, an Alabama tradition.

* * * * *

Ever recognized fake news before?


Walton EMC

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today’s sponsor is Walton EMC, which provides electric service to 70,000 Gwinnett homes and businesses in the Lilburn, Snellville, Grayson, Loganville and Dacula areas. Because its customers own the company, service — not profit — is Walton EMC’s primary focus.


Pleased to see original logo design still in use at Rainbow Village

Editor, the Forum:

Wow! It was great for me to see that Rainbow Village logo and they are still using it. When Rainbow Village was just beginning, we were doing some pro bono work for Christ Church.

I think that it was Nancy Yancey who asked me if my company could do a logo for the Village, and an art director who worked with me created it. I loved it and so did she. Nice article, and, as usual, a great and interesting edition.

— Ross W. Lenhart, Pawleys Island, S.C.

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Filthy rich

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North Gwinnett Kiwanis plans 10th annual Father-Daughter Dance

Exciting times are just around the corner as the Kiwanis Club of North Gwinnett celebrates a major milestone and presents their 10th annual Father Daughter Dance. Cherished memories will be made once again at the Buford Community Center over two evenings where guests will have three opportunities to choose. The club will host dances this year, on Friday, February 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. and two on Saturday, February 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.  

With each passing year, young ladies have joined their fathers (or father figures) for this prom- like experience with the daughters ranged in ages from infant to their mid 30s.  The Kiwanis Dances are open to daughters of all ages, young to adult.  In the past, families that have relocated to other states have returned for the annual event just to keep the tradition alive, some from as far away as New York and Arizona.

Beginning with a single dance of 188 guests, the dance attendance has increased each year with overwhelming support from local and neighboring county communities! With such support, the club now hosts multiple dances so all can enjoy. From a red carpet entrance, magnificently decorated ballroom, and an assortment of light hors d’oeuvres provided by a fully staffed caterer, the evening comes alive with family friendly music screened to fit the musical taste of each and every one. Long stem red roses, an annual club tradition, are presented to each young lady as they depart for the evening.

With a limited number of tickets available and past sell-out history, those interested are encouraged to purchase their tickets while they are available. Tickets can be purchased online at: www.northgwinnettkiwanis.com.  Professional photography will be offered.  Proceeds from the dance are reinvested back into the community in the form of scholarships for area high school seniors or for other community charitable needs.

  • For more information, visit the Kiwanis website or call David Williams at 404 386-4782.

Aurora Theatre presents Maytag Virgin through Feb. 11

Maytag Virgin is set to weave a tale of love, loss and everything in between at Aurora Theatre, January 11-February 11. When two recent widows find themselves living as neighbors, both coping in their own way with the aftermath of tragedy, they drive each other crazy before finding common ground.

Audiences will follow Lizzy Nash as she battles her grief and the quirky behaviors of her new neighbor, Jack Key, with whom she might have more in common than she realizes. Will this encounter between Lizzy and Jack change their paths and their hearts for good? Kick off the New Year with this non-traditional romance from Aurora Theatre’s 2017-2018 Signature Series!

From the creative efforts of award-winning American playwright Audrey Cefaly, Maytag Virgin is a classic southern love story offering laugh-out-loud comedy and poignant moments from beginning to end.

Under the direction of Melissa Foulger, Maytag Virgin stars Suzi Bass award nominee Courtney Patterson as Lizzy Nash and showcases the talents of Brad Brinkley in the role of Jack Key. The show is brought to life by the creative and ingenious design team of Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay (set), Jordan Jaked Carrier (costumes), Sarah Thomson (scenic artist), Kevin Frazier (lights) and Angie Bryant (sound).

Check out the Tuesday discount matinee show, which will be offered on Tuesday, January 23 at 10 a.m. with tickets starting at $16. Regular tickets range from $20-$55 and may be purchased online at tickets.auroratheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at 678-226-6222. To make the most of Aurora Theatre’s 2017-2018 season, season tickets and group rates are also available. For more information on this production or other programming, visit auroratheatre.com. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets for 2018 Suwanee Beer Fest go on sale today at noon

Tickets for the 2018 Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest go on sale Friday, January 12 at noon at suwaneebeerfest.com. The award-winning festival and St. Patrick’s celebration has sold out in previous years, so people are encouraged to purchase tickets as early as possible. With the festival taking place on St. Patrick’s Day itself this year – March 17  at Suwanee Town Center Park – the event is bound to be even more epic (and more green) than ever before.

This event is for those age 21 and over only. Tickets are $50 through February 28 and $55 beginning March 1. General Admission includes unlimited samples of 300+ craft beers, live music, festival games, a Social Lounge tent, food trucks, local artists and vendors, plus St. Paddy’s festivities such as Irish dancers and bagpipe players. The benefitting charity of this event is Cooper’s Crew, a local nonprofit that is dedicated to raising funds and awareness to cure childhood cancer. Tickets and information are available at http://suwaneebeerfest.com.


Higgins Is new chief medical officer at Eastside Hospital


There’s a new chief medical officer at Eastside Medical Center in Snellville. He is Dr. Stephen Higgins, who officially assumed the role mid-December.  He will collaborate with Eastside Medical Center’s medical staff and hospital management teams, facilitating teamwork to ensure quality performance and lead improvement initiatives. Dr. Higgins will also lead clinical performance expectations and establish best practice standards within the hospital to ensure optimal outcomes and unparalleled patient experience.

Dr. Higgins comes to Eastside Medical Center with a 28-year career in the Air Force, having served, most recently as the Regional Chief Medical Officer for Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.  Prior to that, he was the Chief Executive Officer and Commander of Wright Patterson Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio.

Dr. Higgins received his Bachelor of Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy and his Medical Degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

Suwanee one of only six cities winning national Crown award

The City of Suwanee has recently been named a 2017 Crown Community by American City and County magazine for its work on the Orchard at White Street Park.

The first public orchard in the southeast, the orchard is a collaboration between the city, non-profit community garden Harvest Farm, and local landscape architect Roger Grant. White Street Park’s 2009 master plan included Harvest Farm and space for an orchard, which officials desired so as to improve community knowledge of gardening, local food, and the environment.

Once the trees bear fruit the summer of 2018, visitors will be able to pick the orchard’s blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries, while making use of the playground, lawn areas, pathways, and pavilion.

Suwanee funded the $183,471 project using special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds. A local construction company graded the area and built its pavilion, lawns, and pathways, as well as two built-in embankment slides in early 2017. Community volunteers sowed fruiting plants and installed birdhouses, trellises, and huts made of living willow trees. Grant’s 200 hours of donated design and work contributed an estimated value of $22,000.

Moving forward, the city will give an annual $1,000 to the orchard’s management committee, while its public works department will handle ongoing maintenance, which will involve organic pesticides.

Since 1909, American City and County has recognized local governments for extraordinary work in their communities. The magazine received over 75 applications from cities and counties across the U.S. and recognized only six innovative and impactful local government projects in 2017, choosing projects with meaningful issues, clever solutions, innovative implementation, measurable results, and ultimately replicable ideas.

Braselton gets another restaurant with Chick-fil-A opening

Chick-fil-A’s January 11 restaurant opening in Braselton (and reopening in North Druid Hills) expands its successful business model to the new location in Braselton.


Award-winning Operator Brandon LaMarque invites the community to visit his new stand-alone restaurant at 2600 Old Winder Highway. As part of the opening LaMarque is hosting a children’s book drive as part of his desire to make a difference in the area from day one of opening.

In April 1986, the North Druid Hills restaurant was the chain’s first stand-alone location in the country. Its operator is Greg Mapoles. The location has been refurbished with updated design and more efficient operations.

The celebration in Braselton continues with the children’s book drive benefitting West Jackson Elementary School. A three-foot Book House, built from reclaimed wood, will be filled with the donated books. Since 2014, Chick-fil-A has donated nearly 57,000 books to 325 local organizations in 45 states. The North Druid Hills location Book House will benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

LaMarque received both the Chick-fil-A Leadership Scholarship and the top-tiered S. Truett Cathy Scholar Award, which he used to graduate in marketing from Auburn University (Montgomery).

LaMarque has nearly 20 years of Chick-fil-A experience, having been at Chick-fil-A all his working life. He started working at age 16 at Montgomery’s Eastdale Mall restaurant and within his first year of work quickly developed a love for the brand and a desire to become an operator.  He also fell in love with one of his team members, Holli, whom he would marry and who is expecting their fourth child.

To pursue his dream of becoming an operator, LaMarque entered the chain’s interim manager program, helping with openings and restaurants across the country. A short five months later he was named operator of South Park Mall in Moline, Ill., one of that state’s few locations. He would earn one of the chain’s highest operator awards – Symbol of Success — within his first year. That increased to four awards, including his time operating a new free-standing location in Saint Louis, Mo.

LaMarque’s new 4,900-square-foot Braselton restaurant has been especially designed to enhance a guest’s experience from the drive-through, to the counter experience, to in-restaurant dining. Highlights include:

  • A heritage design with a dining room that seats 122 and showcases handmade, authentic materials for a vintage-inspired interior, including a large gathering table made from reclaimed wood and light fixtures from recycled Coca-Cola bottles and peach baskets. It also has an interactive two-story, indoor play area.
  • Chick-fil-A has an ordering app parking with designated inside counter to further minimize guest’s wait time.
  • Full-service menu with a variety of healthy and dietary options, including breakfast until 10:30 a.m. It will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday. As are all Chick-fil-A locations, it will be closed Sunday to provide a day of rest and time with family and friends for team members.
  • Award-winning dual drive-through ordering with single pick-up/payment lane that can handle upwards of 200 cars per hour.

The Greatest Showman (movie)

Reviewed by Cindy Evans, Duluth  |  Over the holidays, we saw this movie and really enjoyed it! Hugh Jackman was at his best! The dancing and music were also wonderful! I especially liked the A Million Dreams song. There were also great messages about making people smile and being loyal to your family and treating all people right. I would strongly recommend seeing this uplifting film on the big screen over the long holiday weekend! It’s rated PG and is under two hours.

  • 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.  Send to:  elliott@brack.net

French actress Sarah Bernhardt performed twice in Atlanta

Sarah Bernhardt, the premiere French actress of her time, performed in Atlanta in 1881 and in 1906. She debuted in the Comedie Francaise in 1862 and went on to present her repertory of classical  drama internationally. A gifted artist, she was also a sculptor, painter, and writer and appeared in a number of silent films.


On both visits to Atlanta, Bernhardt performed Camille by Alexandre Dumas. The local media primed theatergoers for the performance, summarizing the plot and describing the actress’s magnificent costumes and jewelry. The parallels between the play about a courtesan’s tragic love for an aristocrat and Bernhardt’s own life made for good melodrama: the Daily Constitution reported that Bernhardt had “secured her bread at the sacrifice of her virtue in the haunts of poverty.”

Arriving on February 16, 1881, in her private train car, the “City of Worcester,” Bernhardt met that evening the enthusiastic Atlanta audience who packed the original DeGive’s Opera House at the corner of Broad and Marietta streets. The actress was ill, however, and was forced to shorten the performance. Even so, reviewers had high praise for her acting, especially in a realistic death scene.

By the time she returned in the “Bernhardt Special” in 1906, she had become the victim of a syndicate war between her sponsors, the Shuberts, and Klaw and Erlanger’s theatrical combine. Barred from the syndicate’s theaters, she was booked into the Peachtree Auditorium Skating Rink. On the morning of the performance, workmen constructed the stage, installed lighting, put up a “carriage awning,” and arranged 3,000 seats. They also decorated exposed beams and crossbars with flags and bunting to welcome the visitor.

Bernhardt had invited Marie Stewart, billed as the “Atlanta Girl” by the Atlanta Constitution to travel with her from Chattanooga, Tenn. to Atlanta in the special car. Stewart described Bernhardt as “a pale-faced woman with deep-set blue eyes, long black lashes, and narrow dark brows; a woman tall and slender with curly, light hair, and long, slender hands. If I had not known her age, I should have guessed it at 35.” (Bernhardt was actually 61.)


Unusual building design of this Mystery Photo gets your attention

It’s an unusual architectural design for this edition’s Mystery Photo. Figure out where this is and let us know by sending your idea to elliott@brack.net.

As to the last Mystery Photo, apparently even key players like Alan Peel and George Graf were stumped. There was a key clue….snow on the ground, something unusual for the area where this photo was made. It is the old well in Ludowici, Ga., from Brian Brown of Fitzgerald as part of his Vanishing South Georgia portfolio.


Three Duluth council members receive oath of office

Three Duluth City Council members were sworn in Monday, January 8 and the Mayor Pro-Tem was appointed. Leading the ceremony was Duluth Chief Municipal Judge Charles Barrett, left.  Council members (from left) Marsha Anderson Bomar (Post 1), Billy Jones (Post 3) and Kirkland Carden (Post 2) received the oath of office. Councilman Greg Whitlock was named Mayor Pro Tem.


(NEW) Gwinnett’s Martin Luther King Day activities will be Monday, January 15 in Lawrenceville, starting at 11 a.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville. A parade will proceed from there via U.S. Highway 29 to the Moore Middle School near Johnson Road. The United Ebony Society of Gwinnett County, Inc. will host the 17th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The 2018 theme is “Honoring The Past And Empowering The Future​.”  More details: ​http://www.gwinnettmlkparade.com/about-the-parade.html.

BUSINESS EXPO: The Northeast Atlanta Metro Association of Realtors (NAMAR) will hold their 10th Annual Business Expo January 18, at the Infinite Energy Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

CHILDREN’S PROGRAM: Bestselling children’s author Carmen Agra Deedy of Atlanta, along with John McCutcheon, a Grammy nominated singer-songwriter, will appear in Gwinnett on Saturday, January 20 at 4 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 5575 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners. Gwinnett County Public Library is the sponsor, and the program is part of the North Georgia Reads program, created to promote collaboration between neighboring library systems and to bring bestselling authors to a community of 46 libraries in the region. For more information, please visit www.gwinnettpl.org or call 770-978-5154.

Free Photography Workshop at the Centerville Library Branch, 3025 Bethany Church Road in Snellville, on January 27, at 2 p.m. Join the Georgia Nature Photographers Association for this informal talk and Q&A photography workshop.  They will provide information about cameras, editing software, and tips for getting better photographs with the equipment you already have.


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