County's EXCEL 2008 class gives dream
Special to GwinnettForum
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., Sept. 2, 2008 -- The 2008 Gwinnett County Executive
Competence, Excellence and Leadership (EXCEL) class identified,
designed and fulfilled a big dream for The Dream House this summer.
The 153-hour program, required for current and future Gwinnett County
management employees, helps the participants refine their leadership
skills. In addition to normal coursework, the EXCEL program features
a number of extracurricular activities, one of which is a community
service project to be completed outside of work hours.
The Dream House is designed to provide support in a loving home
environment for medically-fragile children, their parents, foster
families and others in the community who are interested or involved
in their welfare. One of Dream House's most important elements is
its use as a transition home for children from hospitals or adult
nursing homes to their permanent home.
Dennis Baxter, EXCEL class project manager, met with Kim Marks,
the development manager for the Dream House, to discuss options
for a service project. The meeting concluded with the decision to
redesign and renovate the seldom used and somewhat inaccessible
sandbox and turn it into a sandbox pavilion. Baxter says: "We
wanted to provide a quality product to the Dream House that would
enhance their ability to care for the children."
The EXCEL class raised a total of $12,500 (50 percent cash and
50 percent in-kind donations), most of which was acquired from private
business donations. The group designed the sandbox pavilion to provide
accessibility to children in wheelchairs and shade for children
who may have slight sensibility to sunlight.
Members of the EXCEL class tackled the project in phases which
included building a retaining wall, paving sidewalks, staining deck
furniture, framing and constructing a pavilion and new sand boxes,
landscaping with trees, shrubs and flowers, conducting a final inspection
and obtaining a Completion Certificate from the Gwinnett County
Planning and Development Department.
Working together and on their own time, the class finished the
project in seven weeks. EXCEL construction expert Michael Jenness
said, "This project has made a tremendous impact on the lives
of these children. This project was more than just building a sandbox;
it was about giving children a place where kids can just be kids.
It was a very rewarding experience."
Jenness, whose own personal struggle with his seven-month-old daughter's
heart condition connected him to the Dream House, went on to say,
"The EXCEL class's creativity and resources gave the Dream
House something that will be used for years and years for the children
who come in and out of this facility."
Surprise GOP Veep announcement tempers Obama
Editor and Publisher
SEPT. 2, 2008 -- After last week's surprise announcement that Alaska
Governor Sarah Palin would be the vice presidential running mate
on the Republican Party, few announcements will be coming out of
this week's GOP convention of that magnitude.
Sen. John McCain grabbed the spotlight from the Democrats with
that announcement. It not only surprised everyone, but also provides
for new ways to look at this year's election.
While women across party lines thought one female would be in the
limelight, suddenly Hillary Clinton is no longer the female focus
of the election. In the spotlight is a virtual unknown with little
time-in-grade in politics, running for the second highest office
in the nation.
Will the choice change the outcome of the election? We doubt it;
the key issues are still there for both major candidates. But it
does put a new angle on the way to look at the election.
However, the selection of Mrs. Palin seems to take away one of
the ways Republicans were attacking Barack Obama. Citing his lack
of time in office and no experience at the executive level, some
of their argument now cannot be as barbed as it was in the past.
Governor Palin has limited experience, and even with that, at a
relatively low, obscure, level.
She has four years as a city councilwoman in a town, Wasilla, Alaska,
of approximately 8,000 people. She was the town mayor for two terms,
and then got elected governor of Alaska 20 months ago, the state
with the smallest population in the nation. While technically she
has experience, her depth in office is certainly questionable. And
with Mr. McCain to be 72 years of age should he become president,
Governor Palin would be a vice president sorely lacking national
experience. Should she ever have to succeed McCain, her credentials
would seriously be in question.
For McCain, while the choice was stunning, it may not serve as
a means to convince female voters to join the Republican causes.
Remember that those pushing the candidacy of Hillary Clinton were
died-in-the-wool feminists with a liberal bent. We doubt many of
them will be pulled to the other side because of Mrs. Palin's femininity.
Her largest strength seems to be that she is a right-wing conservative.
This could help McCain, in that it might get more people of this
persuasion to the polls, since some GOP stalwarts had questioned
Mr. McCain's oft-wavering support of right-wing causes.
Yet we wait and see whether it was an inspired choice by Mr. McCain,
or whether the choice will turn out to be a dud.
* * * * *
The next turn of events comes as we see what reaction the Democrats
will have to the vice presidential nominee of the Republicans being
a small state governor with relative little experience. Since newcomers
to the political scene get tremendous scrutiny from all elements,
it'll also of interest to watch what comes out of left field about
the finally-introduced candidate.
You also wonder how Governor Palin's candidacy will play alongside
the Obama phenomenon among new and minority voters? We seriously
doubt it will cut into this group.
The GOP show is ongoing this week. Yet it may produce fewer fireworks
during the week than the announcement of Governor Palin as the vice
presidential nominee did last Friday.
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timing of recent cartoon; comment on Ms. Palin
Editor, the Forum:
I found it amusing that your recent GwinnettForum with the
"Boys Still Rule" cartoon
was only a few hours old when John McCain announced Sarah Palin
as his running mate. With one of the rumors being that he might
pick Kay Bailey Hutchison, wouldn't it have been a good idea to
hold back that cartoon until McCain announced his pick?
I think it was a gutsy move, but I can see where it gives Obama's
camp a lot of ammunition, though much of it will be straw-man arguments.
They can say "she has even less experience than Obama, so how
can McCain complain about Obama's lack of experience!" Well,
that's comparing apple of oranges.
1. She is running for vice-president, while Obama is running
for president. Yes, I know there is the "heartbeat away"
line, but until something (God-forbid) does happen to McCain,
she is getting her on-the-job training.
2. She actually has more "executive" experience than
either Obama or McCain, since she has been at the "buck stops
here" position in two jobs, mayor and governor, and as governor,
she's been commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard.
Personally, I'm not exactly happy that neither of the presidential
candidates has ever been a governor. I'm one of those whose contend
that governors and ex-vice-presidents, i.e. executives, generally
make better presidents than do members of Congress that run for
the presidency. This is not only the first election in memory where
neither one of the nominees is a sitting president or an ex-vice-president;
this is also the first election since Kennedy won where the presidency
will go to someone having only been a member of congress.
Members of Congress develop skills related to making "You
scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" deals. Those are not
the type of qualities need to be the leader of the world's most
powerful country and the one who makes the clichéd "hard
decisions" over "3 a.m. phone calls."
Maybe I'm naïve, but I would want someone that does not feel
the need to determine what "political hay" can be gained
from every decision.
I saw Obama's acceptance speech. There were some middle-of-the-road
things he said that I am in agreement with, but I got a feeling
he was just trotting them out for their own sake. There was not
one ounce of individual responsibility in it.
While I'm not in agreement with McCain on many issues, his military
experience shows a far better command of leadership skills than
Obama's "community organizing" experience and "We're
from the Government and we're here to make your aches and pains
go away" attitude.
-- Tom Fort, Lawrenceville
Dear Tom: Thanks for your thoughts. Last week's
cartoon was drawn on Monday, after the Democratic vice presidential
pick. It got upstaged by the McCain announcement. -eeb
Two letters in front
of "male" doesn't help nominee
Editor, the Forum:
I think the vice presidential choice of the Republicans is very
amusing. Snatching themselves up a half-frozen woman from Alaska
won't fool women voters. McCain must be half-brain dead to think
women were supporting Clinton merely because she has two extra letters
in front of "male".
-- Nancy South, Jesup, Ga.
plans PACT program for Suwanee Gateway area
Suwanee police officers and business owners are teaming up to bring
the police department's neighborhood-based, relationship-rich PACT
program to the Suwanee Gateway, the commercial area surrounding
Suwanee's I-85 interchange.
Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson says:
"We're hoping to duplicate the success of the residential PACT
program in the Gateway area. This is a great opportunity for businesses
to develop relationships with one another as well as with the City."
Suwanee's residential PACT program, established in 2002, is designed
to build relationships between citizens and the police department
and to resolve quality-of-life issues before they become criminal
problems. Neighborhoods meet with their PACT officer three times
each year, and officers are always available to "their"
residents via phone and e-mail. Last year, more than 1,000 residents
attended some 78 PACT meetings.
The same strategies will be applied to the approximately 400 businesses
in the Gateway area, with four officers serving as Gateway liaisons.
The first Gateway PACT meeting will be 10 a.m. Tuesday, September
16, at the Courtyard Marriott, 310 Gwinco Boulevard; the meeting
is open to all Gateway businesses. Six meetings will be offered
each year with participating businesses required to attend three
of those meetings.
Through PACT, officers hope to build better relationships with
business owners and employees, which, they believe, will result
in reduced criminal activity. And when criminal issues do arise,
the relationships established through PACT will allow officers and
businesses to more effectively resolve those issues. Police will
have established avenues for sharing information, alerts, and crime
Says Lt. Dan Clark, one of Suwanee's investigators and a Gateway
PACT liaison: "This is a win-win situation for us. By forging
these relationships, businesses will come to know us, develop a
level of trust, and have a means to share information with us and
with one another, which ultimately will help us to be better able
to solve and prevent crimes."
Author to speak at
fete marking 66th birthday of Landers
Author Elizabeth Whitley Roberson will speak Saturday, September
27, at 2 p.m. at the Historic Sweetwater Chapel to celebrate the
life and 166th birthday of Gwinnett County Civil War soldier, Eli
The author will also be signing her award-winning book Weep
Not for Me, Dear Mother. When her neighbor handed her a stack
of yellowed letters that had been rescued from a pile of trash in
1960s Atlanta, Ms. Roberson had no idea what awaited her.
She had become enamored with the facts and history of the Civil
War when, as a child, she listened to stories about her grandfather.
Her book is comprised of Confederate soldier Eli Pinson Landers
emotional letters to his mother, Susan Landers, in Yellow River
(present day Lilburn), with annotation that sets the letters in
Partners for this event include Atlanta Chapter 18 UDC, The Gwinnett
County Public Library, The Gwinnett Historical Society and the Eli
P. Landers Camp 1724 SCV. Volunteers will be dressed in period costume
and will conduct tours of the Eli P. Lander's home and of the historical
cemetery. Eli and members of many other prominent Gwinnett County
pioneering families, 33 Confederate soldiers, veterans of the Revolutionary
war, the War of 1812, and World Wars I and II are buried there.
Birthday cake will be served during Eli's 166th birthday celebration.
Sweetwater Chapel is located at 1000 Pleasant Hill Road.
Gwinnett Tech, Suniva
hook up for Quick Start training
Gwinnett Technical College and Suniva, Inc., a solar energy technology
leader, have entered into an agreement that will provide training
for Suniva employees through the college's Quick Start division.
The training is based on Suniva's goal to provide 100 jobs at its
new manufacturing facility in Norcross.
The agreement was signed today by leaders of the three training
partners: Suniva, Inc., Gwinnett Technical College and Quick Start.
Based in Norcross, Suniva develops, manufactures and markets high-value
crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells for clean, earth-friendly
power generation. Suniva's new facility in Gwinnett is designed
to redefine the manufacturing process for high-efficiency solar
cells in order to bring down the cost of photovoltaics, with an
initial capacity of 32 megawatts (MW) on its first line. The company
is already planning additional lines and expects to scale to more
than 130 MW over the next two years.
Administered through the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG),
Quick Start provides customized workforce training at no cost to
qualified new, expanding and existing businesses in Georgia. Since
1967, Quick Start has trained more than 600,000 employees through
5,100 projects with a broad range of industries.
Three Gwinnett nonprofits
get assistance from Jackson EMC
Three Gwinnett County non-profit organizations have been awarded
more than $22,000 in grants by the Jackson EMC Foundation for projects
as wide-ranging as inmate recovery, traumatic brain injury rehabilitation
and food pantry services.
Getting the grants were:
- Good Samaritan Ministries in Buford has been awarded
a $15,000 grant by the Jackson EMC Foundation to help fund its
residential recovery program for recently released prison inmates.
Following their release, former inmates begin the one-year program
with three months of self-study assignments, assignment evaluation
classes, meetings and work therapy, all held within the ministry.
Residents are required to attend Celebrate Recovery meetings,
AA meetings, and may be required to assist with some community
service projects. During the next nine months, residents can obtain
employment either inside or outside the ministry. The program
is designed to help inmates become productive members of society
by working on drug and alcohol issues, and building discipline
and self esteem.
- The Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse, a Gwinnett non-profit
organization that assists individuals recovering from traumatic
brain injury, has been awarded a $5,040 grant by the Jackson EMC
The organization serves as a bridge for adults who have suffered
a traumatic brain injury by helping them transition from medical
patient to fully active community member. Using a "side by
side" approach with professional staff working alongside
them, members regain employment and living skills through performing
the day-to-day operations of their clubhouse to reach their short
and long term goals.
- The North Gwinnett Cooperative Ministries, a non-profit
that provides food, clothing, medication and utility assistance
to Buford families in need, has been awarded a $2,000 grant by
the Jackson EMC Foundation to replace four upright freezers. The
organization provided goods and services to nearly 11,000 people
during 2007. Grants are made possible by Jackson EMC members'
contributions to the Operation Round Up program, which rounds
up electric bills of participating members to the next dollar
amount and uses the spare change to do charitable work.
Any individual or charitable organization in the ten counties served
by Jackson EMC (Clarke, Banks, Barrow, Franklin, Gwinnett, Hall,
Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison and Oglethorpe) may apply for Foundation
funding by completing a grant application, available online at http://www.jacksonemc.com/Guidelines-for-Funding.106.0.html
or at local Jackson EMC offices. Applicants need not be a member
of Jackson EMC.
- 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
seeks to improve quality of lives
The Atlanta-based Goizueta Foundation is an independent private
foundation established by Coca-Cola executive Roberto
Goizueta in 1992. Its mission is "to assist organizations
that empower individuals and families through educational opportunities
to improve the quality of their lives." In 2003 the Goizueta
Foundation reported assets of more than $499 million, which placed
them third in a list of Georgia's top 50 foundations. It ranked
seventh in terms of total giving.
Since Goizueta's death in 1997, the work of the foundation has
been managed by his widow, Olga, and their three children. The trustees
have aimed for the foundation to follow Goizueta's philanthropic
vision, and they have aimed to support efforts that bring about
sustainable change and have a long-term impact in the community.
Unlike some other private foundations, the Goizueta Foundation
works closely with potential grantees as they develop proposals
and project plans. This partnership and close communication comes
after a two-step screening process by which the foundation identifies
organizations whose missions and programs meet the goals of the
foundation. Of the many organizations that contact the foundation
about support, very few are invited to submit full proposals.
Funds from the Goizueta Foundation support program expenses as
well as endowments. A particular area of interest in recent years
has been funding scholarships for Hispanic students. Georgia higher
education institutions that have received such grants include Emory
University, University of Georgia, Georgia Southern University,
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Brewton-Parker College, Reinhardt
College, and Oglethorpe University. Other nonprofit organizations
that have received major Goizueta Foundation grants include the
Girl Scouts and Junior Achievement.
How Winston Churchill
looked upon himself
"I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In
fact, if anything, I am the prod."
-- Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965).
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