1/9: On Rainbow Village; North Gwinnett football; Tackling problems

GwinnettForum  |  Number 16.75  |  Jan. 9, 2018

WHILE NORTH GEORGIA MISSED the unusual snow that hit the coast of Georgia and South Carolina last week, people in the coastal areas enjoyed being creative with their snow sculptures. This unusual “lighthouse” of snow came from Richard Stoppelbein in the West Ashley area of Charleston. Don’t know if that’s tape around the snow or who knows, black ice?  (Published with permission from Charleston Currents.)
TODAY’S FOCUS: Melanie Conner Becomes New CEO of Duluth’s Rainbow Village
EEB PERSPECTIVE: North Gwinnett High’s Football Win Was First State Title Ever for Boys
ANOTHER VIEW: Wants Tackling of Major Problem, Not Another Tax Gimmick
SPOTLIGHT: The Piedmont Bank
FEEDBACK: Four Letters on Four Different Subjects
McLEMORE’S WORLD: A 50-50 Marriage
UPCOMING: Special Bicentennial Mass Wedding Scheduled for 1:18 on Jan 18, 2018
NOTABLE: Bomar To Get Honor from Institute of Transportation Engineers
RECOMMENDED: Odyssey of the West II
GEORGIA TIDBIT: Georgian Becomes President of Four Colleges in 19th Century
TODAY’S QUOTE: One Idea of How We Should Look at Each Day
MYSTERY PHOTO: Check Out the Clues in This Mystery Photo
CALENDAR: Photo Workshop Coming to Snellville Soon

Conner becomes new CEO of Rainbow Village

By Michelle Alcorn, Duluth, Ga.  |  In a self-described “community of transformation,” Rainbow Village is undergoing a major change. After 24 years in the role of chief executive officer, the Reverend Nancy Yancey is handing over the reins of the non-profit to Melanie Conner, a former housing coordinator for Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry.


For three years, Conner was involved with the Georgia Prisoner Re-entry Initiative and the Healing Communities program.  This is a model for local community involvement to assist returning citizens seeking to restore relationships with their families, communities, and – when possible – the victims of their crimes. This experience makes Conner well-suited for her new position at Rainbow Village, where she’ll be able to continue working with families in need of support in a new location.

Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Conner served as executive director for Zion Hill Community Development Corporation for 11 years. Dedicated to “changing lives and serving with love,” Zion Hill is dedicated to promoting the revitalization and redevelopment of selected areas in Metropolitan Atlanta. It also serves to empower citizens through economic, residential, social, and educational programs. Rainbow Village also empowers its Villagers through programs that include childcare and early education, youth programs, life skills education classes, counseling and more.

Yancey says about Conner: “God’s been working in both of our lives to put us in this place. Melanie is a perfect fit and I could not be happier. No one wants her to be more successful than I do.”

In addition to a career that includes an eight-year turn in the corporate realm at The Coca-Cola Company, Conner holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Georgia State University, a Master of Divinity in Christian Education from Interdenominational Theological Center and a Master of Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Capella University.

She has been married to Wayland Conner for 27 years. He is pastor of the Allen Temple AME Church in Columbus. They have two adult sons.

Conner says of this new position: “I have visited a lot of non-profit organizations over the years, there’s something different here… something special. Rainbow Village strives for excellence just as I do in my own life. I don’t believe I can fill Nancy’s shoes, I can just do the best job that I can do and make Nancy proud.

“Nancy has done a phenomenal job and has given me a strong, firm foundation to build upon. Now it’s my job to ask ‘how do we get to the next level?’ Under her watch, Rainbow Village has won so many awards, has achieved such a presence in the community, and has transformed so many lives. When it’s my time to leave Rainbow Village, I hope to leave with the same satisfaction that I have served the Lord in an equally amazing way.”

About Rainbow Village:  Established in 1991 and based in Duluth, Ga., Rainbow Village is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted to breaking the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. Committed to serving as a “community of transformation”, Rainbow Village applies a holistic, two-generational approach to serving homeless families with children. With the goal of helping families achieve emotional stability and financial independence, Rainbow Village provides housing, early childhood education and after-school care, child and youth programming, financial planning, career counseling, workforce readiness, mental health counseling, community events and more. To learn more about Rainbow Village, register as a volunteer or make a donation, visit www.rainbowvillage.org.


North Gwinnett High’s football win was first state title ever for boys

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  North Gwinnett High’s recent football championship is the first state title for any boys’ team in the history of the Bulldog school.  However, North Gwinnett girls have won seven—that’s right, seven—-state championships since the school opened in 1958. It was built originally to consolidate high schools in Sugar Hill and Suwanee.

Kathy Thompson of the school’s athletic department tells us that the girls’ state championships came in four sports:

  • Girls Softball, most recently in 2016, but also in 1955, 1988 and 1989.
  • Soccer: in 2010.
  • Cross Country, 2009.
  • And cheerleading, 2000.

How about it boys: you gonna catch the girls in winning state championships?

IF VISITING HISTORIC WESTVILLE, that community once near Lumpkin, Ga., stop!  It’s not there anymore.  Come this fall, you can visit Westville in a new location, in Columbus, on South Lumpkin Road across from the National Infantry Museum and next to Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center. That will no doubt be a far better site than in its previous site in rural South Georgia, where few tourists wander.  The new site, some 20 acres, is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

So far, 12 of 17 buildings have been moved to the new site in the first phase, as well as administrative offices. A second phase will add a rural and farm area to the location.

Did you know that there’s a bit of Gwinnett for the Westville site? Hugh Wilkerson of Lilburn tells us that William McDaniel, the original settler of the Lilburn area, erected a cabin in Gwinnett after he won a tract in the 1820 land lottery. He settled near where present-day U.S. Highway 29 and Rockbridge Road converge in Lilburn. The cabin was later moved to a private collection in Jonesboro, and eventually to the Westville Living History Museum in Lumpkin County.   It’s good to see such buildings preserved.

HEADLINE that I enjoyed recently, in the Pike County Journal-Reporter in Zebulon: “Arrests made minutes after theft.”  Attaway, Zebulon policemen!

HOW HOT OR COLD? One guy who should know, Bud Mingledorff of the air-conditioning firm of Mingledorffs, headquartered in Gwinnett, tells me that 2017 was cooler in these parts than 2016 by 11 percent. Now it seems that 2018 has started off that way.  That’s different from most parts of the world, where it is getting warmer. Sure does throw a hammer into the climate change argument!

SINCE BRITAIN was the first country to use prepaid postage stamps, that country has never printed the name of their country on their stamps, just a portrait of the reigning monarch.

WE OWE THE ZIPPER becoming popular to a shoemaker.

Over 100 years ago, on April 29, 1913, a Swedish engineer named Gideon Sundback was living in Hoboken, New Jersey, when he patented the modern zipper under the name, “Hookless No. 2.”

The public, however, was far from sold.

Preachers initially called the device “the Devil’s fingers” because it eased the process of removing clothing. Other early zipper models were patented under names like “C-curity Fastener” and “The Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.”

However, the zipper didn’t take off until a boot company adopted the technology for their “Zipper Boot,” launching both the method and the word into fame. Now you know.


Wants tackling of major problem, not another tax gimmick

By George Wilson, contributing columnist  |  Here’s the problem: Georgia has 159 counties, and 124 of them had a population growth of less than five percent for the last five years.

With our state government led by Republicans, I am reminded of a quote by Stephen Leacock:

“He flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions”.

Why would you want to locate to these shrinking Georgia counties? The state seems to be working at cross purposes.

Thirty-six Georgia counties now have death rates higher than their birth rates. All are in rural Georgia, according to statistics compiled by the rural development council. Many rural hospitals are closing because of the failure to expand Medicaid.

Another reason that discourages location and jobs in these rural areas are that the schools are inadequately funded by the state and have been for many years.

The one idea that seems to make sense is to expand broadband systems to make accessing the internet easier and faster, especially in these rural counties.

Also, it would also seem that many of these counties, with shrinking populations, could consolidate not only the county but all local governmental bodies within those counties for greater savings and efficiency.

Now we have a suggestion put forth from a legislative study committee on a program to re-populate rural Georgia. The “Rural Relocate and Reside” program would offer one-time, 10-year state income tax deductions of up to $50,000 to new residents of certain counties.

If a county wants to snag a particular individual or group, and obtains approval through a referendum for accompanying property tax abatement, the state would be willing to up that 10-year income tax deduction to $100,000.

Finally, why not put a priority on health, education and infrastructure to solve this problem rather than another ineffective tax gimmick?


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.


Thorium is the most abundant, cleanest and safest energy source

Editor, the Forum:

Thorium is a lustrous silvery-white metal, slightly radioactive.  When heated, thorium incandesces a brilliant white.

Its atomic number is 90, and has an atomic weight of 232, and is the second heaviest element found in measurable amounts in nature, behind uranium.  Thorium is about four times as abundant as uranium, or as prevalent as lead!

The International Nuclear Energy Agency estimates the U.S. has 440,000 tons of thorium reserves.  That’s TONS, folks!  According to the author Richard Martin, “Thorium is no panacea, but of all the energy sources on Earth, it is the most abundant, most readily available, cleanest and safest.”  End of quote:  I would argue that water is a better source.  But, in defense of thorium, the information provided here should satisfy the “Carbon Footprint” guys and gals.

There is some talk now of some mining of thorium in the U.S.A.  Might be a good time to get rich quick!

          — David Earl Tyre, Jesup

Has cherished memories of founders of Waffle House

Editor, the Forum:

About your recent info on Joe Rogers Sr. and Tom Forkner: I had the privilege of working for these two gentlemen for 28 years and having them as friends for 45 years.

They were two of the most unselfish people I have ever known. They both were anonymous benefactors to many people and causes. Their anonymity was by choice, as they neither sought fame nor publicity. Joe, Sr.’s dedication to their customers and employees was genuine.

— Tommy Franks, Marietta

Surprised to see Waffle House guys remembered by Jane Pauley

Editor, the Forum:

I really enjoyed your great column in the Friday edition of GwinnettForum. Writing about people and their accomplishments is really your forte´.

I was trying to watch the CBS Sunday Morning show as grandchildren ran through the kitchen. CBS does a superb job of remembering those who died who had an impact on our country and world. And yes, when Jane Pauley read about the Waffle House founders and showed their photo, I thought, yes, they did need mentioning, although I was quite surprised to see it happen.

Billy Chism, Toccoa

Takes issue with commentary about previous commentary

Editor, the Forum:

You recent letter writer, Rick Hammond, may think he is right about a few things in his latest letter to you about George Wilson’s commentary on Tax Cuts.  What he seems to miss is a lot of big companies are laying off workers.

Take AT&T for example, the day the tax cut law was signed, they announced they were giving $1,000 bonus to their employees (their union employees) while laying off several divisions of workers, especially those who worked for DTV all over America.  Wells Fargo may have raised their employees’ wages, but they too laid off a lot of middle managers.  So who exactly is benefiting from this Tax Cut?

This tax cut is nothing more than the same old tired “Trickle Down Economics” trick that corporations and the one percent want us to believe is beneficial to all Americans. Unless corporations and the one percent put their big tax cuts back into their businesses and not in their pockets, it could work, but it hasn’t yet.

— Sara Rawlins, Lawrenceville

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A 50-50 Marriage

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Special bicentennial mass wedding scheduled for 1:18 on 1-18, 2018

It’ll be a timely mass wedding.

At exactly 1:18 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2018, a special mass wedding and vow renewal ceremony to mark Gwinnett’s Bicentennial will take place in the Superior Court Ballroom at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse.

Chief Magistrate Kristina Hammer Blum and Probate Judge Christopher Ballar will perform the free “On 1-18-18…Two Become One” ceremony. Couples must provide a marriage license from a Georgia Probate Court; no out-of-state weddings will be performed. Each couple may bring a maximum of six guests.

Couples and their six guests can celebrate with an exclusive reception in the ballroom for $15 per person. The reception will include a DJ, first toast and dance, light refreshments, cake and a ceremony keepsake.

  • Preregistration is required for both events; call 770-822-5450. The Gwinnett Historic Courthouse is located at 185 Crogan St. in Lawrenceville. For more information or to rent the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse, visit www.gwinnettparks.com.

Duluth budget review advisory team to work on 2019 budget

Duluth officials feel it is important that citizens have confidence in the city’s financial health and practices, and be provided full access to all financial data.  Accordingly, the City is set to begin its seventh collaboration with the Citizen’s Budget Review Advisory Committee on February 21, 2018 for the FY2019 budget. Past Citizen’s Budget Review Advisory Committees reflected a great cross section of the citizenry and provided helpful feedback and recommendations. All meetings will take place in the City Hall Community Room between 6 and 8 p.m.

The first (February 21) meeting establishes an overview of the City’s budget process and what the Budget Committee’s role will be in the process. All Budget Committee participants will be given the City’s current operating budget (FY2018) and year forecast presentation. They are asked to study the material and be ready to discuss them at the next meeting.

Subsequent meetings will be February 28 and March 7.

The recommendations of the Citizen’s Budget Review Advisory Committee will be presented to the City Council. For additional information or if you would like to be a part of this committee contact, Kim Jackson at kjackson@duluthga.net or call 770-497-5321.


Bomar to get honor from Institute of Transportation Engineers


Gateway 85 Community Improvement District Executive Director Marsha Anderson Bomar of Duluth was recently recognized as an Honorary Member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).  Since 1933, when the first Honorary Member was selected, only 80 individuals have been so honored. The award will be presented during the ITE Annual Meeting in August in Minneapolis, Minn. She holds a bachelor of science in mathematics and a master’s degree in transportation planning and engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. She also holds a master of civil engineering from Princeton University.


Odyssey of the West II

Reviewed by Karen Harris, Stone Mountain  |  This compact disk to listen to is the second book in a series of four that presents works by Greek historians and philosophers, Roman poets and the Christian Bible. Through the lectures, the origins of Western culture emerge for the reader/listener.  Four professors are the authors. One is Timothy Shutt from Kenyon College who has demonstrated enduring commitment to the liberal arts for 20 years. He lectures on Homer, Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, Virgil and Dante.  Kim J Hartwick is academic director of the City University of New York. His field of expertise is in Greek and Roman sculpture. Joel F. Richeimer is an associate professor at Kenyon College who has presented philosophical articles in the areas of law, Aristotle and Science.  Finally, Lawrence Schiffman is a professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University.  Through these presenters, history is gloriously alive. The full title is A Classic Education Through the Great Books from Athens to Rome and the Gospels.)

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Georgian becomes president of four colleges in 19th century

(From previous edition)

By the time of the oration, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet had probably begun to commit his “Georgia Scenes” to paper. The first to appear in print was “The Dance,” published in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder in 1833. Seven additional scenes appeared in the Southern Recorder before Longstreet purchased the federalist North American Gazette, which he renamed the Augusta State Rights Sentinel. Scenes began to appear in the Sentinel in January 1834; the last was published in March 1835.


Longstreet’s literary sketches would probably have been forgotten had he not collected them into a book. In September 1835 he published Georgia Scenes, Characters, Incidents, Etc. in the First Half Century of the Republic from the Sentinel office. The poet Edgar Allan Poe gave it a rave review, and in 1840 the book was reissued by a New York publisher, Harper and Brothers. Longstreet hoped that his book would not be forgotten, as his purpose in writing it was to preserve Georgia’s social history. In his words, he wanted “to supply a chasm in history which has always been overlooked—the manners, customs, amusements, wit, dialect as they appear in all grades of society to an ear and eye witness of them.”

Between 1838 and 1843 Longstreet published eight more “Georgia Scenes,” and in 1864 he published his only novel, the poorly received Master William Mitten; or, A Youth of Brilliant Talents, Who Was Ruined by Bad Luck. Most of Longstreet’s later writings were political, including two lengthy defenses of slaveryLetters on the Epistle of Paul to Philemon(1845) and A Voice from the South (1847). Shortly before his death, Longstreet completed a work of biblical scholarship, A Correction of the Canonized Errors in Biblical Interpretation. Unfortunately, this manuscript was lost in a fire at the home of his literary executor.

Longstreet’s brief career as a full-time minister ended when he became president of Emory College in Oxford in January 1840. In 1844 he came to national prominence when he played a central role in the division of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Four years later, in 1848, he resigned his post at Emory, and the following year he served briefly as president of Centenary College in Jackson, La. He was president of the University of Mississippi from 1849 to 1856. After resigning his post in Mississippi, the 65-year-old Longstreet considered himself retired. He left retirement in 1857, however, when he was offered the presidency of South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina).

Longstreet served South Carolina College until late 1861, by which time most of his students had left school to join the Confederate effort in the Civil War (1861-65). Longstreet then moved to Oxford, Miss., where his ill wife had been living with one of their daughters. In December 1862 Federal troops reached Oxford and, using Longstreet’s papers as kindling, burned his house. The Longstreets relocated to Oxford, Ga., and then to Columbus. Longstreet served the Confederacy as he could with his pen. His efforts included a leaflet of encouragement for Confederate soldiers and letters of advice to his nephew, the Confederate general James Longstreet. After the war Longstreet returned to Oxford, Miss., where he died on July 9, 1870.

In 2000 Longstreet was inducted as a charter member into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.


Check out the clues in this edition’s Mystery Photo

There may be one or two obvious clues in this edition’s Mystery Photo. Figure ‘em out and send your idea to elliott@brack.net.

The last edition mystery found several readers spot-on in identifying it.  Alan Peel of San Antonio, Tex. says: “This Mystery Photo appears to be part of a large cliff, made up of basalt columns. There are several areas around the world with these types of formations, including Iceland, Scotland, Japan, Mexico, and even here in the USA (California, Yellowstone), so narrowing in on the exact location may be a challenge. However, I am going to go out on the edge of a cliff (pun intended) and guess that this photo was taken at the Giant’s Causeway near the town of Bushmills, Ireland, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. Hopefully, I am not standing on the wrong cliff!”

George Graf of Palmyra, Va. contributes: “The Giant’s Causeway located in County Antrim on the north coast of Northern Ireland. According to legend, an Irish giant by the name of Fionn mac Cumhaill constructed the causeway himself so that he could skip over to Scotland to defeat his Scottish rival, Benandonner. Apparently, while in transit to Scotland, Fionn fell asleep, and Benandonner decided to cross the causeway to look for his competitor. To protect her slumbering husband, Fionn’s wife gathered him up and wrapped him up in cloth in order to camouflage him as their child. When Benandonner made it to Northern Ireland he saw the large infant and could only imagine how big Fionn must be. Frightened, Benandonner fled back to Scotland. But the causeway remained.”

Good tales, right?  Also identifying the photo were Susan McBrayer, Sugar Hill; and Stewart Woodward, Lawrenceville.


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.

(NEW) 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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