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Today Frank Sharp in Today’s Focus takes us on a trip to Rhode Island, seeing the great mansions of that state, including Rosecliff, where Gilded Age architect Stanford White lavished Beaux Arts ornaments on this home. It is also known as first, the Herman Oelrich and later as the J. Edgar Monroe house. It was constructed between 1898 and 1902. Read more at Today’s Focus. (Photo by Frank Sharp.)

Issue 12.36 | Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012

:: Visit to Newport, R.I., Mystic, Conn.

:: Western ridges and the fall line

On illegal immigrants, picking up trash

Tax bills, Suwanee Day Classic

:: GTC program; GMC's 100,00th birth


:: Heaven & Associates, P.C.

:: WhichWich in Duluth

:: Legislature safeguards caves

:: Bridge over troubled ... intersection

:: Lots of events on tap

:: How mankind should aim


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Visit to Rhode Island shows how America's wealthy once lived
Special to GwinnettForum

(Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in visiting part of New England, you’ll enjoy this travelogue (even with video) from Frank Sharp, one of our most prolific contributors. Many Gwinnett residents no doubt have connections to other New England communities.—eeb)

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., August 14, 2012 – As the plane lifted off from Atlanta's  airport for Rhode Island, I thought of what we hoped to find in this very historic section of our country.  It took only one and one-half hour to fly to Providence, Rhode Island  from Atlanta.

It was in Rhode Island that the nation's oldest lending library, the Redwood Library, could be found and also the oldest synagogue in the country, the Touro  Synagogue. Not only this, but we had wondered  how the rich and famous, like the Morgans, the Vanderbilts, and Dukes, made it their own summer playground.  They built the most opulent and extravagant  houses in the country at the turn of the 19th century in Newport.  They were called their "summer cottages.” 

The cliffs at Newport

For example, the Rosecliff, built 1898-1902, by the daughter of the Irish immigrant who discovered the Comstock Silver Lode in Nevada, has  40 foot ceilings.   Mark Twain, who coined the phrase, "The Gilded Age," visited these over-the-top homes.  For you to see how they lived, watch the movie The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.

All of this opulence and wealth came to an abrupt end when Congress passed the first Income Tax law in 1913.  Then, the very rich could no longer afford the upkeep of these homes patterned after the great palaces in Europe.

Another element I was seeking was to find a two-mast schooner, like the one that carried my ancestors from Ulster, Scotland to Charlestown in 1784 .

Newport is a charming city by the sea with its many ships and rich colonial history.  I picked up a newspaper called The Mercury and was astonished to find that it was started by James Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's older brother, and is still being printed today, the longest continuously printed newspaper in the country!  It was FREE locally, but I noticed that the mailed subscription rate  was $140 per year. Go figure!

One of the other reasons we wanted to visit this historic town was to walk “The Cliffs.’  This is a scenic trail in behind the "mansions" on the bluffs overlooking the sea for 3 1/2 miles.  I was able to capture our walk and put it on YouTube. It was a wonderful walk with all the wild flowers showing their rich colors with the very blue Atlantic waters as a backdrop.  We visited five of the mansions with a combination ticket and the discount coupon from our hotel for about $5 per mansion.

We also drove to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut to visit the largest maritime museum in the world.  Here I was able to find, then board and tour, a two-masted fishing schooner, The L.A. Duncan.  Undoubtedly, it was a cargo vessel like this that brought many to freedom and a new life. Visiting the ship was close enough for me to get the feel of what my ancestors experienced. So I returned to the Peach State a happy tourist having found a two-masted schooner, and thus completing  this part of my family history.

  • To see my Cliff Walk, enter Cliff 2012-4-9 in YouTube Search Box or click here.

  • To view Mystic Harbor Seaport visit, enter Mystic 2012-4-10 in YouTube Search Box or click here.

About the ridge where the West commences and the Fall LIne
Editor and publisher

AUG. 14, 2012 – “Place” is important to many of us. For instance, I’ve always wondered just exactly where is the “ridge where the West commences,” (from the song “Don’t Fence Me In”). Best I can figure is this ridge is some north-south crest maybe in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas or Oklahoma where once you top the hill, you can see for perhaps 100 miles, mostly of the plains. In the great distance, you might could see even higher land, all with no trees. We suspect there are cowboys are out there … somewhere.


Perhaps someone reading this will know specifically, in their estimation, “where the West commences.” If so, please let us know. We would not mind going there and seeing for ourselves. And if that area of the country is not promoting itself as the “gateway to the West,” their Chamber of Commerce should be. I know of at least one tourist who would pay to go there.

However, far more important a “Place” for me is the north-south divide in Georgia, particularly the “Fall Line.” In Georgia, most people put the Fall Line as basically zig-zagging from Columbus to Macon to Augusta, a line above which the rivers become mostly non-navigable.

To me, the Fall Line was more south and east of Macon. And it had special meaning for me, particularly since I was born just about right on top of what I consider the Fall Line.

For it was what is now Georgia Highway 112, east of Allentown, Ga., in Wilkinson County, the place I was born. Being specific, it was about a mile and half to two miles on this road, east of Turkey Creek.

Here’s why I have always thought of it as the Fall Line: to a young person’s concept of the topography of that area, it seemed to me as if everything south of Georgia Highway 112 was flat, sandy soil (the Coastal Plain) and great for row crops. Everything north of that same road was hilly, red clay and difficult to plow, essentially the Georgia Piedmont. It is far better for grazing cattle than trying to break the ground and raising any crop in the mostly red-clay soil..

This dividing line was, to me, a sharp deviation in the lay of the land, north to south, similar to that “ridge where the West commences.” It puts my mind at ease about matters in general.

Yes, though I seldom get back to this “place,” it is from where my Brack family is descended. (My mother’s family, Collins, was centered about 10 miles north – in the red clay area). We get back now to these places mostly for funerals or family gatherings. And I’ll spend my last road trip when a hearse takes me back to be planted in the cemetery at Walnut Creek Baptist Church. It’s about another two miles east from my birthplace on Georgia Highway 112. We’ve already got a plot in the cemetery waiting for us.

Since the church is on the north side of the highway, I’ll be buried in the red clay soil of the Piedmont of Middle Georgia. Had it been on the other side of the road, to me that means I would have been in the sandy soil of the Coastal Plain. With modern backhoes, the grave diggers won’t have much difficulty in opening up the soil in the “place” they will be putting me.

Heaven & Associates, P.C.

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Thoughts considering illegal immigration and minimum wage

Editor, the Forum:

My topic is immigration. The issue has become a hot button topic that is widely abused by most politicians lacking real or accurate information.  
Native Americans were already living here when the European powers of the late 15th and 16th Centuries began colonizing both American continents.  If you were to ask any Native American today how legal this activity was, you know what their answer might be. 

Treaties were used and broken over and over through the migration west of the European descendants and new immigrants throughout the so called "manifest destiny" of the U.S. government.  Even recently, the Oglala Lakota tribe of the Dakotas successfully sued in court to gain their lands back.  The court decided to award a financial settlement, which the tribe has refused to accept stating the desired return of their lands as defined by the first treaty the government entered into with them in the mid 1800s. 
It is widely held by politicians that illegal immigration is part of the cause of American job loss, as they take jobs other citizens would want.  Look at the recent immigration law passed in Alabama and the harsh adverse effects it has had on the economy. 

In the first year of its passing, crops literally rotted on the vine because of a lack of labor willing to be paid piece work for their efforts.  Those who did try to take agricultural jobs quit after just a few days.  Most did not last the first day, while a few did make it a week or so.  Workers are paid by the number of "pieces" they pick or gather which rarely equates to minimum wage. The pay rate works out far below minimum wage, if you cannot pick enough vegetables or gather enough chickens in a hen house fast enough to make a meager living.  It is also fair to question the legality of states passing laws that impact or change Federal jurisdiction and policies such as immigration.

– Roger Hagen, Lilburn

The continuing problem of throwing trash out of the highway

Editor, the Forum:

Years ago, my son was working for Athens/Clarke County, and observed kids in an recreational vehicle just ahead of him toss a big drink container out the window.  They were stopped at a light. My son, Anthony, got out, picked up the drink container, threw it back into the RV and told the kids "Don't do this in my city.”  I'd love to see more actions like this.

– Rosemary Walch, Sugar Hill

  • We welcome your letters and thoughts. 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 Focus as space allows.

County tax bills expected to be in the mail this week

Gwinnett’s 2012 property tax bills will be mailed to Gwinnett County taxpayers by August 15. All bills will have a single-installment due date of October 15.

Taxpayers who prefer to pay in two installments may choose to make an earlier partial payment as long as the total due is paid by October 15.

There are several options for property tax payment:

  • Pay online by check or credit card at (Paying by check is free; convenience fees apply for credit card transactions.)
  • Mail payments to P.O. Box 372, Lawrenceville, Ga. 30046.
  • Pay by check using drop boxes 24 hours a day at all Tax Commissioner offices.
  • Pay in person during business hours at all Tax Commissioner offices.

For property owners with an escrow account, tax information will be made available to the mortgage company; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner to ensure taxes are paid by the due date. If there are questions about who will pay the taxes, homeowners should contact their mortgage company directly, especially if their mortgage company has recently changed.

For more information, contact the office at or call (770) 822-8800.

Registration deadline approaching for Suwanee Day Classic

Registration is now available for the annual Suwanee Day 5K and 10K Classic, to be run Saturday, September 8. Participants also may choose to take part in a non-competitive 25-mile bike ride or 1K kids' fun run. Hosted by BodyPlex, all Suwanee Day Classic activities will begin and end at Town Center Park.

Registration is available at or To ensure a t-shirt in the desired size, participants are encouraged to register by September 1. The entry fee and start time for each event is listed below; please note that an additional $10 per event will be charged for entries received after September 1.

Bike Ride: 7 a.m., $25
5K: 8 a.m., $25
10K: 9 a.m., $30
1K Fun Run: 9:05 a.m. $25

The fee for the 5K/10K or bike ride/10K combo is $40.

The 5K race route takes participants through historic Old Town, while the 10K route is along the Suwanee Creek Greenway. Pre-registered runners/riders may pick up race packets the morning of the event or at the Runners Expo from 4:30-8 p.m. Friday, September, 7 at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. Late registrations will be accepted at the Runners Expo and on race day beginning at 6:30 a.m. Participants are encouraged to wear pink on race day in honor of those who have been touched by breast cancer. This year's events will benefit The Second Basemen organization.

Gwinnett Tech Respiratory Care gains credential success

Gwinnett Tech's Respiratory Care program recently received the Distinguished Registered Respiratory Therapist Credentialing Success Award, one of only 32 programs in the nation to earn this designation.

In order to receive this recognition, the program was required have three or more years of outcomes data, have earned accreditation, and have students earning a 90 percent or better on their Registry (RRT) Exams, contributing to success and positive job placement.

Bob DeLorme, program director of the Respiratory Care program, says: “We are so pleased to have earned this benchmark, and believe it reflects the excellence of our program. We’re committed to providing exemplary respiratory care education and training. I'm proud of each of our student's accomplishments and I know they are well-prepared as graduates to provide outstanding care to their patients.”

Gwinnett Tech’s Respiratory Care program prepares graduates to obtain jobs as respiratory therapists, who care for and assist patients that struggle with breathing difficulties. Classes focus on the areas of pulmonary and cardiac pharmacology, advanced critical care monitoring, mechanical ventilation, pulmonary function testing, neonatal pediatric respiratory care and more. GTC offers an associate degree in Respiratory Care and a certificate as a Polysomnography Technician.

Students graduating from the Respiratory Care program may become certified by taking the Entry Level Certification Examination administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. Upon successful completion of the Certification (CRT) Exam, the student is eligible to take both parts of the Registry (RRT) Exams. To work in the state of Georgia, all respiratory care practitioners must apply and be granted a license.

Bakers are parents to 100,000th birth at Gwinnett Med Center

Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC) recently announced the 100,000th baby has been delivered at the Women’s Pavilion located in Lawrenceville. GMC’s Women’s Pavilion first opened its doors in April 1991 and each year since, has averaged approximately 5,000 births.

The daughter of Brian and Kimberley Baker, Lucy, was born on August 9, 2012 and weighed in at 7 lbs. and 8 oz. and was 20 inches long. She is the third child for the Bakers. Byron Dickerson, MD, was the attending physician.

The mother said it was a great surprise to have given birth to the 100,000th baby. “After researching hospitals prior to the birth of our first child, we landed at GMC,” said Brian. “While Lucy was the 100,000th baby delivered here, the exceptional treatment we received previously was no different.”

During the center’s first full year in operation, 2,522 babies were delivered. Since that time the busiest year was 2008, when 6,332 babies were delivered at the Women’s Pavilion.

The Women’s Pavilion was developed to address the evolving needs of women over their lifetime, including advanced mammography and imaging services and extensive classes and education outlets for every stage of pregnancy. GMC’s Level III neonatal intensive care unit, also housed in the Women’s Pavilion, is staffed by specialists and staff members.

Suwanee again cited for superior performance management

For the fourth consecutive year, the City of Suwanee has been recognized by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for superior performance management. Suwanee was one of 15 jurisdictions throughout the country this year to receive a Certificate of Distinction from ICMA’s Center for Performance Measurement.

“Jurisdictions meeting the qualifications have demonstrated leadership in continuous improvement and community engagement, and they serve as examples for other governments to follow,” says Wayne Sommer, acting director of the Center for Performance Measurement.

In order to earn a Certificate of Distinction, jurisdictions must:

  • Report performance data to the public through budgets, newsletters, etc.;
  • Undertake data verification efforts to ensure reliability;
  • Provide staff training;
  • Use performance data in strategic planning and operational decision-making; and
  • Share performance measurement knowledge with other local governments.

According to ICMA, the certificate program assesses a local government’s performance management program and encourages analysis of results by comparing to peers and gauging performance over time. Performance management aids in cost reduction, program prioritization, and quality improvement while encouraging accountability and transparency.

WhichWich in Duluth

“We enjoyed having lunch at the new WhichWich in Duluth. Their menu has many varieties of sandwiches and also salad possibilities along with a variety of floats, drinks and cookies. You fill out a printed paper sack offering many different combinations to direct all sorts of ways to build your “Whichwich” sandwich.The staff was nice and seemed to be enjoying their new location and positions. The food tasted great! I had a chicken pesto bowl but thought about the turkey sandwich. They had a great selection of toppings and options and the place had a colorful and fun atmosphere. They are located at 6600 Sugarloaf Parkway, near Meadow Church Road, in Duluth.”

– Cindy Evans, Duluth

  • 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 caves protected by Act of 197 General Assembly

Georgia's caves host many troglobitic organisms (those living only in caves) and troglophilic organisms (those capable of living entirely in caves). These include various flatworms, isopods, amphipods, pseudoscorpions, crayfishes, spiders, millipeds, springtails, cave crickets, flies, beetles, fishes, and salamanders.

Frick's Cave in Walker County is home to Georgia's only known population of Tennessee cave salamanders. Climax Caverns in Decatur County is home to the rare Georgia blind salamander (Haideotriton wallacei) and the Dougherty Plain crayfish (Cambarus cryptodytes), both of which lack skin pigment as the result of evolution in a lightless environment.

Georgia's caves are also home to many of the state's 16 bat species. Bats use caves as hibernation
sites during the winter months and as maternity colonies and bachelor colonies at other times of the year. Many bats are also migratory, and caves serve as crucial daytime habitats during their migrations. Gray bats (Myotis grisescens), an endangered species, are found in Lowry Cave in Chattooga County, Frick's Cave in Walker County, and Deatons and White River Caves in Polk County. Frick's Cave is home to as many as 15,000 gray bats.

Caves and their wildlife enjoy some legal protection in Georgia, although implementation is largely at the discretion of landowners. The Cave Protection Act of 1977 makes breakage, burning, defacement, or destruction of a cave surface, artifact, or speleothem (cave formations, such as stalactites) without consent of the cave owner a misdemeanor in Georgia. The sale or export of a speleothem without consent of the cave owner is likewise a misdemeanor. Storing or dumping hazardous chemicals, garbage, or animal remains in a cave is a misdemeanor, as is killing, disturbing, or removing wildlife from a cave. Because landowners determine the fate of caves under this law, caves can be stripped or even completely destroyed by quarrying at the discretion of the owner of the land or the owner of the mineral rights to that land.

Bridge over troubled ... intersection

These steel beams are the first signals in Lawrenceville of what will soon be part of a bridge of Georgia Highway 316 over Collins Hill Road, aimed at alleviating the current struggle to negotiate through both this and the Georgia Highway 20 intersection with Route 316. Completion date for the work is December 31, 2014, though construction is now slightly ahead of schedule. (Photo by Frank Sharp.)


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2012, 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.

IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE that the 30th annual Duluth Fall Festival is right around the corner. We hope to see you in Duluth on September 29th and 30th! There will be more than 350 vendors, a parade, music at two venues, entertainment, "Man's Corner", a carnival, a 5K road race and much more. All of the proceeds are used for improving Downtown Duluth, and as you will see, this mission is paying off!  The Historic Downtown has never looked better. For more information, visit

(Paid advertisement.)

Visit this site to see details of the upcoming funerals of Gwinnett Countians from local funeral homes. On the site, sign up at top right and we'll send you GwinnettObits each day.

Click on the names below to see details of their funerals.

Mankind should not just aim, but do it much higher

"Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something."

– The man who saw from isolation, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), via Lowell Douglas, Atlanta.


Meet the runoff candidates

For the 2012 primary season, GwinnettForum asked all candidates facing primary opposition in Gwinnett County to provide answers to a few questions.

You can read their answers below by clicking on the links. Candidates with no primary opposition are not listed. Those with opposition in the General Election will be asked questions, which we'll publish before the November election.


  • (+) indicates a candidate has received GwinnettForum's endorsement.


Gwinnett County Commission, District 3



Superior Court

State Court

Gwinnett history book in second printing

Previously out of print, Elliott Brack's 850-page history, "Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta," is now available again. Since its original publication, the book was declared the winner of the 2010 Award of Excellence for documenting Georgia history by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board. It is also the winner of the Gwinnett Historical Society's Whitworth-Flanigan Award for 2011 for preserving the history of Gwinnett County.The book includes 143 demographic and historic tables, with more than 4,000 names in the index, and 10,000 names in the appendix.Two versions of the book are available. The hardback edition is priced at $75, while a softback edition is $40. Books are available at:

  • Atlanta History Center, Atlanta
  • Books for Less, Buford
  • Gwinnett Historical Society, Lawrenceville
  • Parsons Gifts and Cards, Duluth
  • Vargas and Harbin Gallery, Norcross

You can also order books through the Internet. To do that, go to to place your order. For mail orders, there is a $5 shipping and handling fee. Purchases are also subject to the 6 percent Georgia sales tax.





Business After Hours of the Buford Business Alliance: 5:30 p.m., Aug. 14, Ivy Springs Manor, 3177 Gravel Springs Road in Buford.

(NEW) Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech basketball coach, will speak noon Aug. 16 at the Rotary Club of South Gwinnett. Meetings are held at Northwood Country Club, 3156 Club Drive.

(NEW) Second Annual Chili Cook-Off, downtown Duluth: 6 p.m. 7o 9 p.m., Aug. 16, Town Green, 3142 Hill Street. Come taste what council members cook, cast your vote for who’s best, and hear live bluegrass music by Smokey’s Farmland Band. There will also be family-friendly games, including tug of war, sack races and other activities….plus trivia. Councilman Billy Jones is defending champion.


11/13: Casino coming?
11/9: GOP and Georgia Dems
11/6: Early voting, more
11/2: Will Sandy impact election?

10/30: Georgia and GI Bill
10/26: Barge making name
10/23: Our 2012 endorsements
10/19: Pet peeves, more
10/15: Long plane flights
10/12: NO on Amendment 1
10/9: Elisha Winn Fair
10/5: Lots of construction
10/2: Texting while walking

9/28: WSB sets lower bar
9/25: State Archive fracas
9/21: Charter concerns
9/18: Benefits of living here
9/14: Continuing objectives
9/11: Trip to France, Spain
9/7: Community pride

8/31: Conversation on guns
8/24: More robocalls ahead
8/21: Newspaper museum
8/17: Seem easier to vote?
8/14: Western ridges, fall line
8/10: Runoff endorsements
8/7: New UGA health campus
8/3: Primaries raise more questions


11/13: Barksdale: Storm prep
11/9: Houston: Kettle Creek
11/6: Stilo: Christmas Canteen
11/2: Crews: View Point Health

10/30: Willis: Amendment One
10/26: Brown: Doc's research
10/19: Hudgens Prize jurors picked
10/15: Urrutia: $2 million gift to GGC
10/12: Young: Lilburn city hall
10/9: Long: Charter schools
10/5: Jones: PGA golf to return
10/2: DeWilde: Suwanee's red code

9/28: Stilo: Pinter's Betrayal
9/21: Love: Model for Nigeria
9/21: Walsh: Childhood obesity
9/18: Ashley promoted
9/14: Wiener: CID's initiative
9/11: Olson: $50K Hudgens contest
9/7: Stilo: Acting classes for all

8/31: Havenga: Great Days of Service
8/24: Griswold: Casino for OFS site
8/21: Brooks: Taking the Megabus
8/17: Summerour: Newspaper family
8/14: Sharp: Newport visit
8/10: Thomas: On schizophrenia
8/7: Carraway: Amendment wording
8/3: Willis: Ready for school parents?


2001-2012, 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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