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TODAY'S PHOTO: Grants from the Walton EMC Foundation benefit local charitable institutions, like Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse of Stone Mountain. For a glimpse of how it works, see below. Those involved in the Clubhouse are shown, along with the founder and executive director, Cindi Johnson.

Issue 14.61 | Oct. 28, 2014

:: Walton EMC gives locally

:: More Georgia governors

Meet candidates, more

Two letters

Traffic shifts, more

YMCA volunteer, GMC

:: Crowell Brothers Funeral Home

:: Hold on a minute

:: Freshwater mollusks

:: Replica, but where?


ABOUT US is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

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Walton EMC grants help local nonprofits, like Side by Side
Special to GwinnettForum
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MONROE, Ga., Oct. 28, 2014 -- Adults recovering from traumatic brain injuries are among those benefitting from the generosity of Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) customer-owners. Nineteen organizations as well as seven families are the beneficiaries of $115,565 in Operation Round Up grants announced during National Cooperative Month.

Operation Round Up, which is funded by the cooperative's customer-owners, donated $2,500 to Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse. It is Georgia's only non-profit day program providing support and educational activities for brain-injured adults.

John Hall of Snellville, chairman of the Walton Electric Trust Board, says: "Concern for community is among the principles by which our member-owned business operates." Among Gwinnett beneficiaries were these grants:

  • Gwinnett Community Clinic, $2,500.

  • Friends of Gwinnett County Senior Services, $14,000.

  • ViewPoint Health (Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale), $5,000.

  • Exceptional Kids Athletics (Gwinnett, Rockdale, Walton), $1,000.

  • Mother's Choice Learning Center (Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale, Walton), $2,700 for their afterschool creative writing and homework assistance program.

  • Rachel's Gift, Inc. (DeKalb, Gwinnett, Morgan, Newton, Rockdale, Walton), $2,500 for bereavement and grief assistance to families who have lost newborns.

  • Pregnancy Resource Center of Walton (Barrow, Clarke, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Morgan, Newton, Rockdale, Walton), $4,000 for materials and supplies to promote the sanctity of human life.

  • Salvation Army (entire service area), $15,000 for their emergency feeding program.

  • Seven local families - $23,653.80 to meet urgent and emergency needs.

The Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse is located in Stone Mountain and serves Gwinnett County residents. They do great work in helping people whose lives have been turned upside down by a brain injury.

Every year, more than 60,000 Georgians suffer a brain injury. That's more than those diagnosed with breast cancer and HIV combined. Brain injuries have a myriad of causes, from auto accidents to head blows, from strokes to oxygen deprivation. Such an injury could happen to any one of us in an instant.

Marian Dickson, resource development officer for the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse, says: "People suffering these injuries 30 years ago probably died. Today, many survive."

Along with an increase in survival rates comes a greater need for rehabilitation. That's where the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse comes in. The Clubhouse is Georgia's only non-profit day program for adults with brain injuries. The people served become members of the organization and volunteer to work in one of three units: kitchen, maintenance or business.

Each day, they complete tasks assigned to their unit that keep the Clubhouse running and participate in additional support or educational activities. Members also volunteer in the community.

Dickson says; "We help them regain basic skills or return to work. The average member participates with the Clubhouse for two to four years. "We're really proud of our work. Our population is growing while our resources are limited. We meet a need that's mostly unmet."

Governors of Georgia from Ernie Vandiver to George Busbee

Editor and publisher |

Part Two of three parts

OCT. 28, 2014 -- One of my most memorable vignettes of Ernie Vandiver of Lavonia was when he was campaigning in 1966 to return to the governor's office. He had first served as governor from 1959-1963, succeeding Marvin Griffin first as lieutenant governor and then as governor.


I snapped a photo of Governor Vandiver standing on a flat-bed trailer in Odum, Ga., all alone, with pine trees in the background. The only other person in the picture was an Odum farmer, leaned back against the tires of the flatbed, either listening or sleeping. The photo said a lot. Later Vandiver withdrew from the race because of health reasons.

Succeeding Vandiver was Carl Sanders, a young legislator from Augusta. The first I had heard of him was in 1962 when spending one year in graduate school at the University of Iowa. At 10 p.m., we would tune in an old stand-up radio, and we two Georgians would hear clear-channel WSB Georgia news. Pretty soon it was obvious that Sanders would be a candidate for governor. Then when we began publishing a weekly in Jesup; the third issue, we endorsed Sanders for Georgia. (That raised some readers' ire, but that is another story.)

Back in the mid-60s, Georgia was deeply embroiled in segregation, and making news was not so much a politician, but a restaurateur, Lester Maddox of Atlanta. After being defeated as mayor a few years earlier, Maddox ran for governor in 1966, and surprised everyone as the Democratic nominee. That led to all kinds of shenanigans, one of them being the Georgia legislature having to choose the next governor. The Republican opponent, Bo Callaway, had won the popular vote, but a third candidate kept him from being governor, and the Legislature chose Maddox. From our viewpoint, Maddox was a surprisingly good governor, and later served under the next governor Jimmy Carter as lieutenant governor. (Georgia governors could not succeed themselves then.)

Again in Odum, Ga., we saw the future governor stop at a service station, pump gas, then go in and pay $5 for it. His next stop was another station about two blocks away, where he pumped gas, went in and paid $5 again. Service station operators could brag that Maddox stopped there. What a way to campaign!

Maddox also had a unique way of going to an event. He would often come through the back door of a hall, shaking hands with the kitchen staff before going to a ballroom, then working it from back to front, grabbing as many hands as he could.

Maddox campaigning in the 1960s in Jesup, Ga., by helping a stranded motorist. Photo by Elliott Brack.

Next as governor was Mr. Carter, whom we first heard talk in a furniture store in Ailey, Ga. We endorsed his candidacy that year, but he lost. Running four years later, Carter won, but we endorsed his opponent, meaning we lost two in a row.

We heard George Busbee of Albany talk in Jesup in 1973, as he flew there in his private airplane himself. He was the speaker of the House at the time. Just after moving to Gwinnett, we attended a meeting in Winder where Busbee was continuing to run his campaign to become governor. Know what? It was the same speech we had heard two years before. (By the way, the late Mr. Busbee is the only former governor who is buried in Gwinnett, at the cemetery behind Crowell Brothers Funeral Home.) The governor had moved to a new home in Duluth after leaving office.

(Editor's note: this started out to be a two-part series on former governors I had known. Now it is to become a three-part series. Look for the concluding part in a future edition.-eeb)

Crowell Brothers Funeral Home

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Crowell Brothers Funeral Home is located on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Norcross, Ga. It has been a family owned and operated business in business for over 30 years, and prides itself on caring, individualized service. The staff at Crowell Brothers works to help families properly honor their loved one, according to his or her own personality and life experiences. Many families follow their own traditions when arranging services; others seek something different, a way to celebrate an extraordinary life. Crowell Brothers strives to personalize each service and help those affected begin their healing process. Whether you are currently in need of our services, or are simply educating yourself about your choices, this site was established with you in mind. Crowell Brothers is here to help you through any questions or concerns that you may have.

Vote for obstructionism and intolerance? Then don't complain

Editor, the Forum:

Do you want to know what is wrong with politics in this nation and Georgia? Look in the mirror. We are the ones who elected this government, voting for party affiliation rather than the best candidate for the job. My Congressional district, Georgia's 10th, is a good example.

Jody Hice, the GOP nominee, is a talk show host accustomed to exaggeration and hyperbole. His well known, extremist positions regarding women, abortion, gays and Islam are far to the right of my party (the GOP) as well as the district electorate. Based on his previous hyperbolic statements and writings, Hice is clearly a divider, not a uniter. As Mike Collins, his opponent in the GOP primary, correctly stated: "He just wants to be Dr. No."

Hice will only grandstand and obstruct, accomplishing nothing. Do we need yet another government shutdown?

Let's compare these views with those of Ken Dious, a moderate Democrat, who understands that it will take Republican votes to get things accomplished.

Dious strives to be bi-partisan, supporting a strong defense, a balanced budget amendment and energy independence. He opposes taking away Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system, which would shift the increasing financial burden to our seniors.

The choice would appear clear: either vote for a common sense candidate who will get things done or a Tea Party naysayer railing against the storm. But, Hice is a white minister and has an "R" after his name. Dious is black and has a "D." In a District that is 70 percent white, the radical Hice is, unfortunately, the odds on favorite.

What is the bottom line? If you vote for obstructionism and intolerance, then do not complain when that is exactly what we get out of Washington.

-- Jack Bernard, Monticello, Ga.

Remembers kind gesture from former governor's wife

Editor, the Forum:

Loved your column on previous governors. My only regret is that Bo Ginn is not on your list instead of Joe Frank Harris from the 1982 race. That being said, I count it a privilege to have met or known eleven of the governors you listed. Of course, Governors Russell and Talmadge were Senators when, as a kid, my dad served as chief of staff to Talmadge. I played in their DC offices with my cars and trucks on Saturday mornings.

Of note, when my Dad died on January 6, 2005, I received a phone call on my cell phone within 15 minutes of his death from Elizabeth Harris, Joe Frank's wife, which was truly, a thoughtful gesture from a former first lady.

Keep these Georgia history-focused stories coming……brings back wonderful memories of fascinating people.

-- Bryan Ginn, Jr., Augusta

(Editor's Note: The writer is the son of the late Bo Ginn, who ran for governor in 1982. He is the campus officer at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. --eeb

Rant, rave, send us a letter

An invitation: We encourage readers to submit feedback (or letters to the editor). Send your thoughts to the editor at We will edit for length and clarity. Make sure to include your name and the city where you live. Submission of a comment grants permission for us to reprint. Please keep your comments to 300 words or less. However, we will consider longer articles (no more than 500 words) for featuring in Today's Issue as space allows.

Highway 316 traffic changing this week at Highway 20

Georgia DOT announces Georgia Highway 316 traffic in Lawrenceville moved Monday night and Tuesday night off the Georgia Highway 20 ramps and goes under the bridge at Highway 20. This eliminates Highway 316 through traffic from getting stopped by the signal at the top of the Highway 20 ramps!

Overnight Monday crews shifted Highway 316 eastbound traffic. Overnight Tuesday, crews will shift Highway 316 westbound traffic.

Harold Mull, district construction engineer says: "Remember that we lowered Highway 316 by 20 feet under the Highway 20 Bridge. This change puts traffic in its final configuration. Traffic on Highway 316 west seeking to go to Highway 20, Collins Hill Road or Georgia Gwinnett College will need to exit Highway 316 at Highway 20 and go through the signal at the Highway 20 ramps. To continue to Collins Hill Road and the College cross over Highway 20 and use the ramp to Collins Hill. These are major changes to the current traffic patterns. Please slow down in the work zone especially as we all get used to this traffic shift.".

This $37.4 million construction project includes 2.23 miles of new roadway and two new bridges over SR 316. The project completion date is May 31, 2016 and the contractor is GP'S Enterprises, Inc. of Auburn.

Peachtree Corners offers program to reduce crime in apartments

Raising the safety and welfare of residents living in one of Peachtree Corners 24 apartment complexes has been a top priority for city leaders. Recently the city announced that it will join forces with Gwinnett County Police Department in promoting a program aimed at reducing crime in multi-family housing units.

The "Crime Free Multi-Housing Program" has been effective in other Gwinnett communities and is now being offered to Peachtree Corners property managers and owners. The program works through the cooperative efforts between apartment managers, residents and police.

Mayor Mike Mason says: "Keeping Peachtree Corners' residents safe is on the top of the city's list. Statistics show that after implementing the program, communities have seen a significant drop in robberies, burglaries, auto theft, drugs, gangs and other crimes by as much as 16 percent in just the first year."

Luisa Luperdi, property manager for Barrington Hills, who is familiar with the program through another apartment complex she had managed, says: "It's actually super effective."

The program consists of three phases which are to be completed by the apartment manager or landlord and supervised by the GCPD. The steps include an eight-hour seminar, participating in a crime prevention survey that addresses various safety issues, and organizing for tenants to meet police and their management team.

Brookwood High student organizes Little Free Library for Lilburn

Now neighbors can share their favorite books through a Little Free Library in Lilburn City Park. Visitors are encouraged to "take a book, return a book" at this Little Free Library location on the path that winds around the Lilburn City Park lawn.

For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Ambassador Girl Scout Jolee McManus, a senior at Brookwood High School, designed and installed the library. This library finishes her Gold Award project, which had the goal of promoting reading for all ages by providing easy access to free books.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a high school girl can achieve in Girl Scouts. It requires more than 80 hours of project work and must address a community concern or issue that is of interest to the Girl Scout.

Little Free Libraries are being installed all over the country, started by the originator Todd Bol of Hudson, in 2009, Now there are more than 17,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide. Lilburn's library is registered on the official site at

Grayson resident is cited as Tull YMCA top volunteer

Chris Wheeler, a resident of Grayson, will receive the YMCA of Metro Atlanta's 2014 Volunteer of the Year award for his service at the J.M. Tull-Gwinnett Family YMCA in Lawrenceville. He will be honored at the annual volunteer recognition dinner Monday, November 10.


Wheeler is an advisory board member for Tull-Gwinnett YMCA and chaired the "WHY IT MATTERS" annual giving campaign. This raises money to assist children who come to the Y needing financial assistance to be involved in programs.

Wheeler says: "I love being part of an organization that gives so much back to the community and has many supportive and genuine people. The Y provides opportunities, for many, and a chance to succeed."

Along with his commitment, Wheeler is a member at Graystone Presbyterian Church and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. He is the general manager of Cintas Uniform Service in Decatur.

New GMC neurosurgeon specializes in brain and spine

Gwinnett Medical Group announces that neurosurgeon Robert Ayer, MD, has joined the Brain & Spine Institute at Gwinnett Medical Center.


Dr. Ayer comes to the Institute after having completed training at Loma Linda University Medical Center and the University of California Irvine Medical Center. He completed a fellowship in Complex and Minimally Invasive Spine at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle. At the University of California, Irvine, he was a clinical instructor for the Department of Neurosurgery as well as a Fellow in Skull Base Surgery.

Dr. Ayer's expertise is in adult spinal deformity, which refers to abnormal curvatures of the spine in patients who have completed their growth.

Dr. Ayer also worked at the Loma Linda University neuroscience laboratory. During this time he published numerous articles on spinal trauma and spinal cord injuries, stroke and brain injury. He also has published many articles on the clinical management of stroke and brain injuries and subarachnoid hemorrhage. For his efforts, Loma Linda University elected him to Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society (AOA), a professional medical organization that recognizes and advocates for excellence in scholarship and the highest ideals in the profession of medicine.

Send us a review

  • An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus what book you plan to read next. --eeb

Freshwater mollusk diversity plentiful in Georgia waters

The freshwater molluscan fauna of Georgia is one of the most diverse and abundant found anywhere in the world. In the southeastern United States, which has the greatest freshwater mollusk diversity in the world, Georgia's 165 mollusk species (67 snails and 98 mussels) rank fourth in total diversity.

However, freshwater mollusks are the most imperiled group of animals today. Since the 1920s 12 species of mussels and three species of snails have become extinct in Georgia. As of 2003 a total of 13 species of freshwater mussels were protected under the Endangered Species Act, and four more were candidates for listing. Only a single species of freshwater gastropod was listed in 2003, and one other species was a candidate. The overall conservation picture is staggering: fully 46 percent of freshwater snails and 75 percent of freshwater mussels in the state are considered at risk. The primary cause for species loss has been human alterations to natural stream and river habitats.

Freshwater snails and mussels derive from ancestral lineages originating in the Cambrian period, some 500 million years ago. Most of the freshwater fauna found in Georgia today evolved from saltwater species that invaded freshwater river systems along three primary routes and thus developed into three general groups: the Atlantic Slope fauna of the Altamaha and Savannah River basins, the Apalachicola- Chattahoochee- Flint rivers fauna, and the fauna of the Coosa River basin, which is part of the Mobile River system.

Freshwater snails may inhabit almost any type of water body, although most species require flowing waters to survive. Freshwater snails use their rasplike tongues to feed on algae, detritus, and fine particulate matter scraped from the surface of rocks, leaves, and plants. The majority of mussel species live in streams or rivers, but a few species can survive in lakes. Mussels live in a variety of beds, but most species prefer mixed sediments (sand-gravel-cobble) that are stable and free of silt. As adults, freshwater mussels are primarily filter feeders, straining food particles, including algae, organic detritus, and bacteria, from the water. As the water is siphoned through the body cavity, these tiny particles are collected on the surface of the gill and transported to the mouth for ingestion.

(To be continued)

Where is this version located?

OK, so you recognize this image. But you also recognize that it is on land, not as the real lady is standing on an island in New York Harbor So where is this replication located? Tell us your guess and send that to, and be sure to include your hometown.

Two readers recognized last week's Mystery Photo, sent to us by Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill. They were Ruthy Lachman Paul of Norcross, who said: "I think it is the Chief Mountain, Montana." And Dick Daneke of Duluth said: "This week's picture is Chief Mountain in the Glacier National Park in Montana." Congratulation to you both for recognizing this obscure scene.


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2014, Gwinnett Gwinnett Forum is an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

Meet the candidates

Check out the views of candidates for political office in this column below.

Candidates speak directly to local readers in answering questions posed to them. Use these tools to help you decide which candidate you will support. This exclusive feature of GwinnettForum will run until the General Election.

Hold It a Minute Before We Need To Believe That!

"When we hear news we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation."

-- Famed French Philosopher and Mathematician Voltaire (1694 - 1778).



For the 2014 General Election, GwinnettForum asked all candidates facing primary opposition in Gwinnett County, and also asked all statewide candidates, to provide answers to six questions to post on our web page. You can read their answers below by clicking on the links.

Gubernatorial and Libertarian candidates were not contacted. Candidates with no opposition are not listed.


  • (NR) indicates a candidate did not respond to our interview request.

  • (NoQ) means the candidate visited with GwinnettForum, but did not send answers to six questions.

  • indicates a candidate has received GwinnettForum's endorsement.



M. Michelle Nunn (D) (NR)
David A. Perdue (R)

Amanda C. Swafford (L)


Robert "Rob" Woodall (R) (NR)
Thomas D. Wight (D)


I.K. "Kenneth" Dious (D)
Jody B. Hice (R)



Jason J. Carter (D)
J. Nathan Deal (R)

Andrew T. Hunt (L)


L.S. "Casey" Cagle (R) (NR)
Connie J. Stokes (D)


Gregory K. "Greg" Hecht (D)
Samuel S. Olens (R)


Gary W. Black (R) (NoQ)
Christopher James Irvin (D)


Ralph T. Hudgens (R) (NR)
"Liz" Johnson (D)
Edward T. "Ted" Metz (L)


J. Mark Butler (R)
Robbin K. Shipp (D)


Doreen Carter (D) (NR)
Brian P. Kemp (R)


Valarie D. Wilson (D)
Richard L. Woods (R)


H. "Doug" Everett (R) (NR)
John. H. Monds (L)


Daniel A. Blackman (D)
Lauren "Bubba" McDonald(R)

Robin Aaron Gilmer (L)



P.K. Martin (R)
Timothy Andrew Swiney (D)


Tamara Y. Johnson (D)
Francis R. "Fran" Millar (R)


James R. "Jim" Duffie (R)
M. Scott Holcomb (D)


Karen L. Bennett (D) (NR)
Bradley J. Young (R)


Amreeta Regmi (D)
Thomas R. "Tom" Rice (R)


Joyce H. Chandler (R)
Renita Hamilton (D)


L. Thomas "Tom" Kirby (R) (NR)
G. Keith Thomas (D)



Gregory McKeithen (D) (NR)
Rosanna M. Szabo (R)


Lynette Howard (R) (NoQ)
Jaime "Jay" Trevari (D)

SCHOOL BOARD, District 4

Bob McClure (R)
Zachary Rushing (D)


(NEW) Solo pianist John Burke will perform at Christ the King Church, 5575 Peachtree Parkway, on November 8 at 7 p.m. He will perform selections from his new album, Chirality. This will be a program of asymmetry, pertaining to mirrored images. Burke infuses this exciting technique throughout his new album.

(NEW) Bestselling Author Rick Bragg will speak November 13 at 7 p.m. at the Red Clay Theatre. His subject will be his new book, Jerry Lee Lewis, His Own Story. Tickets are $5. A medley of Lewis' songs will be performed by Kurt Scobie prior to the Bragg appearance. The Red Clay Theatre is located at 3116 Main Street, Duluth. For more information visit or call 770-978-5154. Bragg is now a writing professor with the University of Alabama Journalism program. The program is presented as a partnership between Gwinnett County Public Library and Eddie Owens Presents.

(NEW) Men of any age who would enjoy being a part of an "A Capella Experience," set aside Tuesday, November 18, at 7 p.m. to pay a visit to The Stone Mountain Chorus of the Barbershop Harmony Society at a special guest night program. It will be at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church, 4480 Peachtree Corners Circle in Peachtree Corners. For more details, call at 770-978-8053 or visit

Exhibit of eight artists continues through December 2 at George Pierce Park Community Center in Suwanee. Eight female artists will showcase their talents, including watercolor, acrylic, oil, color pencil, mixed media, collage, and pen and ink with color pencil. For more information, call 678-277-0910.


10/24: Georgia's governors (pt. 1)
10/21: Losersville for arts?
10/17: Simpsonwood update
10/14: German student visits
10/10: GwinnettForum's endorsements
10/7: Why so few candidates?
10/3: Regents on smoking, USS Georgia

9/30: Ostracize women-bashers
9/26: Policing peril, disasters
9/23: Scottish referendum, more
9/19: Gwinnett's special weekends
9/16: Four legacy candidates
9/12: Remembering Jim Cowart
9/9: DeKalb to offer Sunday voting
9/5: The 2014 elections
9/2: Police personnel raids


10/24: Jones: New neonatal ICU
10/21: Sawyer: New police chief
10/17: Hacknett: Annandale race
10/14: Smith: Choral Guild concert
10/7: Dubin: Reducing recidivism
10/3: Hendrickson: T-shirt winner

9/30: Nelson: Move around
9/26: Buchanan: Keeping out the sun
9/23: Nichols: Hudgens Prize judges
9/19: Hendrickson: Great Days of Service
9/16: Paul: Recent visit to Israel
9/12: Hassell: Land Trust
9/9: Varga: Peace Corps novel
9/5: Szabo: Solicitor's caseload
9/2: Foreman: Phone hacking


Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.

  • Development of a two-party system for county offices
  • Moving statewide non-partisan judge election runoffs to the General Election
  • Light rail for Gwinnett from Doraville MARTA station to Gwinnett Arena
  • Extension of Gwinnett Place CID area to include Arena and Discovery Mills Mall
  • Banning of tobacco in all Gwinnett parks
  • Making Briscoe Field a commercial airport for jet-age travel
  • More diverse candidates for political offices and appointment to local boards
  • Physical move of former St. Gerard's Catholic Church in Buffalo, N.Y., to Norcross
  • Creative efforts to support the arts in Gwinnett
  • Advancement and expansion of city and Gwinnett historical societies
  • Stronger regulation of late-night establishments with alcoholic licenses
  • Requiring the legislature to meet once every two years.
  • Development of more community gardens.

ABOUT US is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

:: Contact us today
:: Subscribe for free
Buy the book on Gwinnett's history


2001-2014, Gwinnett is Gwinnett County's online community forum for commentary that explores pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

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