Insert your email for free automatic delivery

IMPROV AHEAD: Offering a blend of Saturday Night Live and Second City, the OTC Comedy Troup comes to the Lionheart Theatre in Norcross this Saturday at 8 p.m. Those in the audience offer suggestions for the actors to create immediately, often to hilarious applause. From left are Mike Yow, Becca Parker, Kelley Cody-Grimm and Nick Elliott.

Issue 14.05 | April 15, 2014

:: Mary Poppins to be among offerings

:: Two guys on bikes: Yep, missionaries

Ethics of buying medical practices

Improv offering; hospital expands

:: Voter registration; IT winners, more

:: Gwinnett Center

:: Hippo or eagle?

:: Secession discussed for long time

:: How many got Malaysian scene?

:: Opening night


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


Aurora's 19th season features Poppins, another Les Miserables
Special for GwinnettForum
| permalink

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., April 15, 2014 -- Aurora Theatre's 19th and most ambitious season has been announced. The 2014-2015 will feature four musicals and two plays and will kick off this summer with the high-flying spectacle, Mary Poppins. It will also include a remount of the all-time biggest Aurora hit, Les Miserables, which was staged last year to smashing success, as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park. The series is sponsored by Peach State Federal Credit Union.

Aurora Theatre is rapidly gaining recognition as one of Metro Atlanta's most successful arts organizations. With over 62,000 ticket sales to 556 theatrical events and with 3,600 annual subscribers, audiences are flocking way off Peachtree Street to be entertained by Aurora's robust offerings.

The Peach State Signature Series will be rounded out with the wild and wacky The Explorers Club and new musical, Hands On A Hardbody, inspired by the acclaimed 1997 documentary film of the same name. The season will also include Gwinnett's longest running theatrical holiday tradition, Aurora's Christmas Canteen. Season tickets start as low as $84.

Rodriguez says: "Peach State Federal Credit Union has been a long-time supporter of Aurora Theatre. They have continuously increased their commitment, and to have them now as the presenting sponsor is a testament to our strength as a regional arts organization." In 2007, Peach State FCU was one of the leading contributors to the capital campaign, which allowed Aurora to expand to its current location on the square in downtown Lawrenceville.

Marshall Boutwell, CEO of Peach State FCU, says: "As an education-based credit union, we believe that the arts go hand-in-glove to help create the quality of life that Georgians value. The impressive work Aurora Theatre puts out every year has put Gwinnett County on the map as an arts center, making our community more attractive for businesses and future residents."

Rodriguez also announced that the company will continue to present its highly popular Harvel Lab Series, sponsored by Georgia Gwinnett College. Three contemporary plays will be performed in Aurora's intimate 90-seat Studio. The company will also continue to present a weekday educational play series called Learning Library, which are Mainstage performances for elementary school field trips as well as Aurora's Children's Playhouse, featuring the region's top children's performers. Rodriguez said the new season will also include Aurora's Comedy Nights, bringing quality stand-up comedy to Gwinnett and the Lawrenceville, Georgia Ghost Tours, one of the area's favorite tourist attractions.

Packed into the calendar year will be a host of other entertainment including concerts, author events, wine tastings, the Aurora Theatre Charity Golf Tournament and the Aurora Theatre Barbara Awards Gala. For more information, visit

Two young men on bikes: Yep, it's the life of Mormon missionaries

Editor and publisher |

APRIL 15, 2014 -- They're easily recognizable: two young men on bicycles, in white shirt, tie and long pants, pedaling through neighborhoods or shopping center. Instantly they are recognized as young Mormons, on a two year mission posting. Recently we spotted two pedaling their bikes.


They included Elder John Bonin from Danville, Calif., population 42,039, in Contra Costa County, Calif., near San Francisco; his father is a mechanical engineer. Elder Lincoln Pickett is from near Aokley, Idaho, a town of 763 persons near Twin Falls. Potatoes are the family's main crop, through there are cows and sheep on the family's ranch. Bonin has been in Gwinnett area for over a year, while this is Pickett's first year. The missioners pay their own way, with help from their families.

Both feel comfortable "willing to go out and serve the Lord." Bonin was thinking perhaps of service in Africa, while Pickett had hopes of Ireland, but the two got assigned at different times to Georgia. Bonin sees Georgia as similar to New York state, while Pickett says it reminds him of Richmond, Va., with all the trees.
"We've been surprised, but not disappointed," Bonin says.

The pair work in the area from I-285 to Old Alabama Road, and east to I-85. They attend services at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Spalding Drive in Peachtree Corners. Going out two-by-two, they pedal their bikes, or walk. And yes, they get tired, "but we keep trudging" up until about 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Pickett says that they have met "A lot of nice people. Most are receptive, though a few don't listen." They knock on doors, and try to strike up a conversation. Bonin says: "Out of five doors, two or three we talk with, and one doesn't want to meet with us again." In general, they talk to about 70-plus people a week.

Mormon Elders John Bonin and Carlin Adona man their bicycles to travel to missionary work in the area. Another elder mentioned in the story Lincoln Pickett, recently was transferred the Marietta area.

Often in conversations, people raise questions, "…and sometimes I don't know the answer," Pickett admits. Bonin says "It is more difficult, in some aspects, for we can't think of every answer. But we keep on talking."

A typical day has them waking at 6:30 a.m., have breakfast and then study for two hours. About 10 a.m., they get on their bikes in all sorts of weather and start seeing people. "One day the temperature was down to 15 degrees," Bonin remembers. "You have to watch out for freezer burn." The best times for them are the weekend, when more people are at home, and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. each afternoon. Often the pair have dinner with a member of their stake congregation. At night, they study. They have no outside communications, such as Internet or television.

On Sundays, the pair attend services on Spalding Drive, beginning at 9 a.m. This lasts for three hours. The first hour is a reverent service, with members of the congregation talking, after preparing for two to three weeks to talk. This is followed by the sacrament of bread and water. The second hour is for Bible study, separated by age groups, with a speaker addressing a specific topic. The final hour the attendees separate by gender. "Men learn how to carry their responsibilities as patriarch in their family, and women discuss their lives as a matriarch."

Bonin will finish his two years of service in October 2014. He'll be attending Brigham Young University in Rexburg, Idaho, where he will be a sophomore, and will study the relationship between math and music.
Pickett will finish his mission trip in 2015, planning to also attend BYU-Idaho, and to study business and finance.

Gwinnett Center

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's underwriter is Gwinnett Center, home to four distinct facilities in Duluth: The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Gwinnett Convention Center, Gwinnett Performing Arts Center, and The Hudgens Center for the Arts. The Arena at Gwinnett Center has had ten years of tremendous success hosting countless concerts, community and sporting events, which include being home to an ECHL Hockey Team, the Gwinnett Gladiators. Some past concerts include American Idol, George Strait, Carrie Underwood, Beyonce, Foo Fighters, Eric Clapton, Katy Perry, Kid Rock, James Taylor and Michael Bublé. The Arena at Gwinnett Center also hosts many family shows including Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, Cirque du Soleil, Disney On Ice and Harlem Globetrotters.

Gwinnett Convention Center offers patrons the opportunity to host or attend a wide variety of events; from corporate meetings to trade shows to social occasions. Gwinnett Performing Arts Center has an intimate capacity of 700 seats and is home to many local events, family shows and even some comedians. The Hudgens Center for the Arts showcases a range of artwork throughout the year along with offering a wide range of fine art classes.

Physician raises question of doctors' referrals being coerced

Editor, the Forum:

For medical patients, it is important that Gwinnett County residents should know who owns their doctors' practices, since it may affect their referrals. There is a growing trend for hospitals to acquire physicians' practices and in effect "buy their loyalty." I am proud to disclose that my practice, Cardiovascular Group, was acquired by our local county non-profit hospital, Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC).

In my opinion it borders on predatory behavior when a hospital purchases practices in a different county and "encourages" (or coerces) referrals out of patients' home county for services which are readily and equally available locally. Patients may be led to believe that a superior service is being offered at a distant locale, which is worth the drive and inconvenience, when in fact, the referral is financially driven and the patient is merely a pawn.

I strongly believe that our county hospital, Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC) is a first-class hospital and advanced trauma center. My wife and I both have had surgery there and I routinely refer almost all my patients to GMC. There are very few services not excellently available at GMC.

A strong and sophisticated county hospital benefits our entire community and affords accessible and emergency care for all our citizens and deserves our support. GMC is highly rated by objective standards and in my opinion has extraordinary nurses and hospitalists, the back-bone of any modern hospital.

My advice to patients is to ask if their physician's practice is hospital-owned, since it may affect their referrals. Patients should always have the autonomy to ask for a specific referral if that is their desire. Complete transparency benefits patient care.

-- Laurence M. Lesser, M.D., Lawrenceville

Rant, rave and send us your opinion

Our policy: 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.

Troupe brings improv show to Lionheart Theatre on April 19

The OTC Comedy Troupe is bringing its live comedy improvisational show to Lionheart Theatre in Norcross on Saturday, April 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person. The show infuses comedy improvisation with original sketches that offer a blend of Saturday Night Live and Second City. Audience suggestions help the actors create scenes on the spot and allow the participants a chance to be the star of the show.

Kelley Cody-Grimm, OTC artistic director, says: "We love playing at Lionheart Theatre and look forward to our Spring Fling Comedy Special which will pack in some new material and surprises. Lionheart is a fantastic venue and we appreciate their cooperation in helping us film a few webisodes of our web series there as well. The Norcross audiences are great fun to work with - we've done some of our best shows there," stated

GMC expands cardiac treatment options with electrophysiology

Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC) has announced it has expanded cardiac services to include electrophysiology (EP), which is the diagnoses and treatment of heart arrhythmias, or problems related to the heart's rhythm. Located on the Lawrenceville campus, the expanded program features two state-of-the-art labs, fully dedicated to electrophysiology. This latest addition further rounds out the offerings at the Strickland Heart Center, which opened in January 2012.

Phil Wolfe, president and CEO of Gwinnett Medical Center, says: "Based on this multi-million dollar investment, we've combined technology, technique, and specialized expertise to provide our patients with the highest-quality care, Our patients can feel assured they've chosen a facility that offers numerous options for treating cardiac arrhythmia, as well as experts who can tailor those treatments for personalized care."

A quivering or irregular heartbeat, also known as an arrhythmia, can lead to annoying palpitations, a racing heart and more serious complications like blood clots, stroke and heart failure. The most common heart irregularity, or cardiac arrhythmia, is called atrial fibrillation (AFib) and is due to a malfunction in the heart's electrical system.

Some of the electrophysiology services offered at GMC-Lawrenceville include:

  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy
  • Catheter Ablations
  • Electrophysiology Study
  • Internal Cardiac Defibrillator Placement
  • Pacemaker Implantation
  • Subcutaneous Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (SICD) Placement

GMC's highly advanced 3-D mapping systems provide precise topography of the heart. This allows cardiologist to easily pinpoint the arrhythmia, especially in the case of AFib, so the problem is quickly eliminated, thus reducing complications and promoting a very precise diagnosis.

My Voter page lets voters check registration status online

Gwinnett's Voter Registrations and Elections Supervisor Lynn Ledford said that 139 Gwinnett residents have already registered to vote using the Georgia Secretary of State's new online voter registration feature that was launched on March 31. The state also offers an interactive mobile application that has all the capabilities of the "My Voter Page" elections information page on the Secretary of State's website.

The My Voter Page allows Georgia voters to view their sample ballot, find early voting and Election Day polling locations, check their voter registration status and track the status of their absentee ballot. The mobile application is currently available on Android and will soon be available on the Apple platform; search for "GA Votes" in the app store.

Gwinnett Voter Registrations and Elections Director Lynn Ledford says: "We are thrilled this new technology is available for Georgia residents and have already noticed that online voter registration applications take less time to process. Both online voter registration and the mobile app will give Gwinnett County voters more options and information as they participate in the elections process this year."

The deadline for residents to register to vote in the May 20 General Primary/Nonpartisan Election is April 21. Voters must be a U.S. citizen, a legal resident of Georgia and Gwinnett County and at least 18 years old by Election Day. Those currently serving a felony or judicially determined to be mentally incompetent are not eligible to register.

GGC IT students earn regional acclaim, file for patent

Information technology students at Georgia Gwinnett College have earned a number of regional and national accolades this academic year, and have even filed for a patent.

Students Robert Curtis, Derek Donaldson, and Kyle Dornblaser placed in the top five submissions for best use of technology in classroom or program in the Technology Association of Georgia STEM Education Awards last fall. Their entry, "Ursi," is an original application, or app, that advances a widespread, student feedback system enabling instructors to query students at a moment's notice.

The students also developed a smartphone-, laptop- and tablet-enabled app, as a no-cost alternative to a dedicated device. Currently being piloted in campus classrooms, the complex app encompasses the students' knowledge of software development, system architecture, information technology, human-computer interaction and user-design experience. The app also follows the trending popularity of mobile apps with Apple's app store alone now reaching the 50 million mark.

Curtis, Donaldson and Dornblaser have been part of GGC's STEC undergraduate research group, which includes students ranging from freshmen to seniors, as well as a high school intern from the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology. The group is led by Drs. Robert Lutz and Evelyn Brannock, both assistant professors of information technology.

Curtis and Donaldson were included by Brannock and Lutz on a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent combines EEG brain signals from multiple, human respondents and renders these as sound waves. This invention allows observation of patterns of emotion across a group of people and can be applied to areas such as health, fitness, education and entertainment.

"The patent will advance efficiency across multiple arenas," Lutz said. "For example, the application could help an instructor sense student anxiety or class calmness. Other applications could encompass focus group data collection, game playing or other forms of entertainment."

Parks and Recreation recognizes Allum, Obode

Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation (GCPR) held a Volunteer Reception on March 23 to recognize contributions of the volunteers who had dedicated their time to GCPR in 2013. There were 130 volunteer pin recipients, two Silver Star Awards recipients, and 97 Presidential Volunteer Service Award recipients. A total of 130 One volunteers received a special volunteer lapel pin for dedicating 40 hours or more on park beautification projects, helping at special events or providing office assistance.

Silver Star Awards, a GCPR recognition, were presented to Norman Allum and Arnelle Obode.

Allum was recognized for leading the charge as head engineer with Vines Garden Railroad in 2013, serving 111 hours operating the largest G-scale railroad in the southeast. He was instrumental in hosting the National Train Day event as well as acquiring new and younger volunteers.

Obode was recognized for her for dedication and leadership in the HOOKED Teen Club. She volunteered 161 hours during 2013, promoting teen alcohol prevention, provided leadership, facilitated team building activities and recruited additional teens to join the club.

Got a review? Send it along

  • 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

Georgia's secession was topic discussed for two decades

Georgia's secession from the Union followed nearly two decades of increasingly intense sectional conflict over the status of slavery in western territories and over the future of slavery in the United States. The secession of southern states hastened the outbreak of the Civil War (1861-65).

Secession had been seriously mentioned as a political option at least as far back as the Missouri crisis of 1819-21, and threats to disrupt the Union were commonplace in every sectional crisis from the nullification era (1828-33) onward. While white Georgians, along with other white southerners, disagreed over whether secession was a constitutional right (embodied in the national compact that grew out of the 1787 Constitutional Convention) or a natural right of revolution (arising from the inherent power of the people to form and abolish governments), in a practical sense this distinction mattered less than the fact that secession was widely recognized as a legitimate potential remedy for perceived southern grievances.

Thus, when Abraham Lincoln, the candidate of the antislavery, northern Republican Party, won the 1860 presidential election, states in the lower South moved quickly to call state conventions to consider secession. Georgia's state legislature set January 2, 1861, as the election date for a state convention, which was to meet on January 16.

Opposing camps formed rapidly in the campaign for the election of county delegates to the state convention. Immediate secessionists, mostly former Democrats headed by Howell Cobb, Thomas R. R. Cobb, Joseph E. Brown, Henry Rootes Jackson, Robert Toombs, and others, believed that Lincoln's election violated the spirit of the U.S. Constitution and provided clear evidence that a tyrannical northern majority intended to trample on southern rights and ultimately abolish slavery.

Honor and safety depended, immediate secessionists argued, on severing ties with the Union as quickly and completely as possible, to protect the South from its enemies and promote southern unity. Immediate secessionists had the advantage of a decisive plan of action and a strong set of allies in neighboring Deep South states-South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama would secede before Georgia's state convention even met.

(To be continued)

Pin the right name to this model

CLUE: This edition's mystery photo is an architectural model of a relatively new facility. Check out the buildings, the water, etc. and see if you can figure out where this mystery is located. Send your name and hometown to

Only two people last week recognized the park at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center in Malaysia. The first in was Philomena M. Robertson of Duluth, while Ruthy Lachman Paul of Norcross also recognized the mystery photo. She said: "The Picasso of landscape architecture, Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994), designed the Central Park of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) shortly before he died. Roberto Burle Marx, a Brazilian, created gardens like abstract paintings, using native plants to create blocks of color. The park has been designed to provide greenery to Petronas Twin Towers and the areas surrounding it." The photo was provided by Frank Sharp of Lawrenceville, who visited there recently.

Opening night

Enjoying the Gwinnett Braves opening was this group on the outfield bank at Opening Night last week. Photographer Frank Sharp says he "really enjoyed my visit a the ballpark. It was my first visit to Coolray Field, and I was impressed with the wholesome family environment. It was hard to photograph at first, but after the sunset, the lighting was more even. I became more interested in the people than the game itself."


GwinnettForum is provided to you at no charge every Tuesday and Friday. If you would like to serve as an underwriter, click here to learn more.

Send your thoughts, 55-word short stories, pet peeves or comments on any issue to Gwinnett Forum for future publication.


We hope you'll keep receiving the great news and information from GwinnettForum, but if you need to unsubscribe, click here.


We encourage you to check out our sister publications:

Georgia Clips offers a similar daily news compilation for the scores of newspapers in Georgia's 159 counties.

SC Clips -- a daily news compilation of South Carolina news from media sources across the state. Delivered by email about the time you get to work every business day. Saves you a lot of money and time. -- an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Charleston, S.C.

Statehouse Report -- a weekly legislative forecast that keeps you a step ahead of what happens at the South Carolina Statehouse. It's free.

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.


Are You More a Hippopotamus or an Eagle?

"There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud."

-- Poet and Historian Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), via Lowell Douglas, Atlanta.




Vidalia Onions Pre-Sale, by the Kiwanis Club of North Gwinnett, is now underway, for the 20th year. Ten pound bags will be delivered in several weeks. Fund generated help benefit local Kiwanis scholarships. To support this project, visit this web site or call 404-386-4782. The price is $12 per bag or three bags for $30.

Spring Plant Sale of perennials, herbs, shrubs, flowers and vegetables by Gwinnett Tech Horticulture Students, April 15-17 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the campus greenhouse, near Building 600.

Crime Prevention Seminar focusing on commercial crime, Thursday and Friday, April 17-18, hosted by the Evermore Community Improvement District office at 5525 Bermuda Road, Stone Mountain. Two sessions are planned, on April 17 at 6 p.m. and April 18 at ll:30 a.m. Each is expected to last an hour. RSVP at

Easter Bunny Lunch, including egg hunt, Saturday, April 19 at The Cottage at the Payne-Corley House in Duluth. There will be two sittings, at 11 and noon. The $10 children's menu includes finger sandwiches, fruit and carrots, while a $15 adult menu is also offered. For details, call 770-476-5366 or send email.

Clean-up Day at the Wynne-Russell House in Lilburn, Saturday, April 19 from 9 a.m. until noon. Volunteers are sought by the Lilburn Community Partnership to donate three hours. The first monthly yard and craft sale is planned for May 3. For more information,

(NEW) Lifestyle Showcase at Bethesda Senior Center, Saturday April 19 at 10 a.m. Presented by the Gwinnett Council of Seniors, this will feature speakers and 40 vendors with topics ranging from Living Options, to Scam Targeting Seniors, and Downsizing Your Living. Details: call 678-277-0179.

AGCO Corporation Annual Meeting, Thursday, April 24, at 9 a.m. at the company's headquarters, 4205 River Green Parkway, Duluth. The firm is an international producer of agricultural equipment, and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Photographic exhibit by Lawrenceville's Frank Sharp will be open at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History through August 24. The show is entitled "Birds of Bali." Admission is $13 for adults; $12 for seniors, students.


4/11: Five great local schools
4/8: Endorsements coming soon
4/4: A look at state politics
4/1: Forum's 14th year starts

3/28: Better recruiting needed
3/25: Why meet so much?
3/21: Be careful of wishes
3/18: GGC's Buildings A - D
3/14: What if legislature met less?
3/11: When Brits fired on French Navy
3/7: Sutts to get Aurora award
3/4: Tests not best predictor


4/11: Jones: Jackson EMC's 75th
4/8: Nichols: Hudgens Prize winner
4/4: Fenton: Kiss-A-Pig coming
4/1: Eberle: The White Castle

3/28: Wilkerson: Valor Awards
3/25: Callina: Scholarship scams
3/21: Mays: Water for Ghana
3/18: Fitch: Linen Closet collaboration
3/14: James: United Way to honor 4
3/11: Erdy: Simpsonwood property
3/7: Wiggins: Cleaning up Gwinnett
3/4: Fenton: Annandale at top


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.


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.

PHONE: 770.840.1003

Site designed and maintained by
The Brack Group.