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: This sepia-toned photograph gives an inkling of what life was like at a 1900 weekly newspaper printing shop. Produced in this building was the Homer (Ga.) Banks County Journal. Main Street Publishers of Jefferson have lovingly restored the building to its 1900-era style, and made the building the Georgia Weekly Newspaper Museum. An opening is planned in the short term future. For more, read Elliott Brack's perspective today below.

Issue 12.38 | Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012

:: Taking a trip on a Megabus

:: New weekly newspaper museum

On troops, the West, schools

BrandBank is new name, festival

:: County keeps rating, Braselton CID


:: Wages and Sons Funeral Home

:: It's Not About You

:: Georgia's marble permeates D.C.

:: Back to school

:: Lots of events on tap

:: Guy says half of us are right


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Endorsements by GwinnettForum in today's runoff elections

One happy way to go traveling: On the Megabus!
Special to GwinnettForum

NORCROSS, Ga., Aug. 21, 2012 -- Gonzo Journalist Hunter S. Thompson once wrote: " the ticket, take the ride." As an individual who loves to travel, his counsel is sound indeed. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Memphis, meeting my brother, Duane, for a long week-end of blues and barbecue. That's part of the story, but the real story is how I got there.

Jim Brooks and the Megabus

Have you ever thought of trying something you enjoy, but in a manner you may not be accustomed to? Ever dream of going somewhere, having fun, meeting new and interesting people -- while en route? Wouldn't it be nice to sit back in total comfort, enjoy watching a movie, or using the free Wi-Fi? Picture looking down on the kaleidoscope of scenery passing by, not at 30,000 feet, but at 20 feet on the top of a bright blue double decker bus? Or how about traveling from point A to point B for less money than you could drive yourself?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you might consider traveling on something new being offered to the Atlanta traveling public, the Megabus!

Yeah, it is awesome! My trip began early one day near the Civic Center MARTA station in downtown Atlanta, the rendezvous point for Atlanta Megabus travel. It's not your typical bus. With courteous help from the professional staff, I loaded my bag on board, walked up the spiral staircase and took my seat on the upper level. Less than 15 minutes later, we were off.

I was most impressed with how professional and courteous the driver and the assistant both were with passengers and families. Some had ridden before and some were making their first trip. There was one family, a mother and her three daughters, who were traveling back to Memphis after visiting family in Atlanta. She told me that they bought their tickets early, and the four of them were traveling round-trip for $32, total. My own ticket cost me $37.50 total, a premium, since I bought it four days in advance. Had I signed up early enough, it would have been $1.

Soon I hooked up my iPAD to the Wi-Fi, and as I had a commanding view of the Atlanta skyline, I totally relaxed as we headed westward on I-20. The first stop is in Birmingham, just long enough to stretch your legs, as passengers got on or off the Megabus. A group of young ladies getting on in Birmingham told me of some must do's. One which was "right-on" was to try Gus's Fried Chicken in Memphis!

As my brother, Duane, and I were walking along Beale Street, I was telling him all about my Megabus adventure. Then I heard, "Is that your brother?" There they were, the "Mega-girls" I had met on the bus! We talked and laughed, and after taking a picture of them with Duane, we said our good-byes.

My brother and I went on to Nashville, via the Shiloh battlefield; saw some great country artists in Nashville and all in all had a great time, but soon Duane was headed back to Indiana. I was back on the Megabus from Nashville, and a four hour lovely ride back to Atlanta! Next trip to the Big Easy in January ... you in?

Looking back, it was such a great experience, not just a great trip.

Weekly newspaper museum to be in nearby Banks County
Editor and publisher

AUG. 21, 2012 -- Different people take different routes to their jobs. One guy who ended up being a long-time publisher of the small Homer, Ga., Banks County Journal at the turn of the 19th Century became a newspaperman because his bicycle broke down in Homer. He was from Buffalo, N.Y., and previously he rode his bike through the countryside peddling eyeglasses. It's not the way most newspapermen evolve.


That old newspaper shop in Homer is to now become the Georgia Weekly Newspaper Museum, thanks to the efforts of the newspaper publishing family in Jefferson, in neighboring Jackson County. Scott and Mike Buffington are co-publishers, having followed their parents into the business and expanded the operations tremendously. They now publish six newspapers out of their office in Jefferson under the banner of MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.

The evolution to a newspaper museum began in 2011 when MainStreet bought the old building where the former Homer newspaper was once published. The Homer paper printed at the shop until 1969 when the owner died. The Commerce News continued to operate the Banks County Journal after that, but that paper was closed in 1987 when The Herald purchased the News. When The Commerce News operated the paper, however, it was printed offsite by offset printing.

Editor Mike Buffington of The Jackson Herald is the person with a love for old letterpress machinery, such as he found at the former Banks County Journal building.

Mike Buffington with old job press.

He explains: "When Commerce operated the Banks County Journal in 1970, they inherited the use of the building in Homer but only had a small office and didn't use the equipment. The former newspaper owners, A.J. Hilton and his son, Pat, had been publishing the newspaper by the letterpress method in the building, which had all the old equipment. When Pat died, the old equipment was abandoned, even leaving ink in the fountain of the old newspaper press."

The old building sat empty after 1987, but was maintained by the local Garrison family who owned the property. Last year, the Garrisons" and MainStreet swapped some property in the town so the old building could be remodeled, the equipment cleaned and a museum established.

Since then, Mike and his family have worked painstakingly to restore the printing equipment to working order. That didn't come easy. "We had to clean out the junk, then scrape and dig the ink out of the presses. Much of the equipment had rusted, so we worked to restore that. And the floor was rotted in two-thirds of the building."

The building itself was erected about 1900, specifically to house a newspaper. About that time, a "Campbell Country" press was installed, a unit which slowly prints two pages at a time by pressing the paper onto the reverse type which had been set by hand. After the newspaperman completed his run of printing two pages, he then had to flip the pages over, and restart the press to print the back sides of the paper from two new pages. Most newspapers printed in this manner were four page newspapers. Once the newspaper was printed, all the type had to be cleaned, then returned letter-by-letter to the cases prior to starting the next week's newspaper.

We visited the Homer site the other day, as finishing touches are being completed. Later this month, the Buffingtons are inviting newspaper people across Georgia to come visit the museum. Many present-day publishers have never seen the way newspapers were once painstakingly produced by letterpress. The museum will be open to others visiting, especially school groups.

A big salute to Main Street News and the Buffingtons for preserving what was once a slow but routine way of life in keeping people informed. The guy who rode his bicycle into newspapering in Homer would feel at home at the weekly newspaper museum.

Wages and Sons Funeral Home and Crematories

The generosity of our underwriters is what allows us to offer at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Wages and Sons Funeral Home and Crematories, a family owned and operated funeral provider that has cared for metro Atlanta families for more than 40 years. Wages and Sons offers a soothing environment, unmatched attention to detail, personalized, affordable services and compassionate care to families in their greatest time of need. The funeral home's professional, friendly staff will ensure your family's comfort and guide you through the arrangement process every step of the way. Wages and Sons has two facilities, conveniently located in Lawrenceville and Stone Mountain. The Lawrenceville location features a recently renovated lounge, which now offers complimentary Starbucks coffee to families and guests. Discover first-class funeral care. Discover Wages and Sons. Call 770-277-4550 (Lawrenceville) or 770-469-9811 (Stone Mountain) 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate assistance. Visit for more information.

Phrase "Support the Troops" has hollow sound to his thinking

Editor, the Forum:

There is a worn out, empty political phrase, "Support the Troops!" I hear it frequently but rarely if ever do we see evidence of the political mantra (both parties use and abuse this) in action.

My nephew is in the Navy and will be flying home for Christmas hopefully, if leave is approved. One option is to take a "free" MAC flight, most likely losing at least two days of time, while waiting for an open seat. Instead he has opted for the more costly but time-saving purchase of his own ticket. The USO is out at Hartsfield-Jackson every day clapping for returning troops from all branches of service. Why not let them all fly for free to return home for breaks? I say they have earned it.

In addition Veteran's Administration hospitals are still the furthest thing from top-of-the-line or state-of-the-art when it comes to treatment, prosthetic limbs aside. Of course this leads into the need for such limbs, among it poor and inadequate under-armor for vehicles in combat theaters. How does this happen with a military budget larger than the combined military spending of the world's top 20 military powers?

One out of three or four women in service experience rape either by their direct leader or their unit members. When reported to their chain of command, she is either laughed off, ridiculed or worse. This is a national embarrassment and highlights the officer corps' disdain for allowing women in the military. Commanding officers who allow this behavior to continue should be court martialed.

We have permanent overseas bases in about 130 of the 180 nations today. Sending young men and women overseas to protect corporate interests here at home is no way to show our support.

Our service men and women deserve the best money can buy, and also some perks. Instead we have a military system that is a cash cow and revolving door for corporate and Congressional elites. The are the same people who decide why, when and where our military goes into harm's way, rarely for the claims of national security touted.

-- Roger Hagen, Lilburn

(Yes, Roger, we agree with your thought and direction. What you also did not bring up are the almost obligatory American flags nearly all politicians wear, trying to get elected. That bugs me, for it means little to most who never have, and never will, serve in the services. -eeb)

Two people think the West begins in Flint Hills of Kansas

Editor, the Forum:

Enjoyed your piece on the beginning of America's West. I'm inclined to agree with Author William Least Heat-Moon that it starts in the Flint Hills of Kansas, where forested land opens up into the plains. Here's how Heat-Moon describes it his 624-page "deep map" of Chase County in PrairyErth (1991):

"When an English woman, inspired by Isabella Bird's travels in 19th-century America, asked me last year how she might see the full dimension of the country, I said to drive U.S. Highway 50 from ocean to ocean. If she begins in the East, I know the very mile where she will exclaim from behind her windshield that she has at last arrived in the American West. That spot is in Kansas in the Flint Hills in Chase County: if Highway 50 is a belt across the midriff of America, then the Flint Hills make a buckle cinching East to West." (p. 11).

-- Andy Brack, Charleston, S.C.

Likes idea of competition for Gwinnett County Schools

Editor, the Forum:

According to Gwinnett school board member Robert McClure, if charter schools receive state support, they "will be our competitor, not our partner. "

Good. Competition is great, in education as well in business. All the more reason to vote "yes" on the upcoming amendment in November.

-- Jim Nelems, Peachtree Corners

  • 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.

In operation since 1905, firm now to be known as BrandBank

Brand Group Holdings Inc., the parent holding company of Lawrenceville-based Brand Banking Co., announces the rebranding of the bank as BrandBank. The new name and branding reflects BrandBank's re-emergence as a leading community bank that maintains strong roots in Metro Atlanta for over 100 years.

Bartow Morgan Jr., CEO of BrandBank, says: "A lot has changed since The Brand Banking Company began serving Gwinnett County families and businesses in 1905. You now have more account choices, convenience and access to your accounts than ever before, while continuing to enjoy the advantages of a local banker who understands the needs of our customers and our community."

Morgan adds: "Our ongoing commitment to providing the latest products and technology means you can always look forward to brand new ways to bank with us. To demonstrate that commitment, as well as our promise to deliver personal and professional service, we are today introducing our brand new look."

Over the next several weeks, the new BrandBank logo, comprised of two letter "Bs" joined to create a friendly community tree, will replace the existing Brand Banking Company logo at branches throughout the area. The dark and light greens introduce liveliness to the BrandBank brand with continued emphasis on stability. A one-word, gray letter format in all capital letters is used to express the company name in a professional tone.

Atlanta History Center reading for annual Fall Folklife Festival

Each year, the Atlanta History Center ushers in the autumn season with the Fall Folklife Festival. Traditional crafts, southern foodways and environmental sustainability are at the center of the festivities.

This year, the festival expands with the introduction of a new Friday night kick-off event. Join the Atlanta History Center on Friday, September 21 from 7 until 10 p.m. for Folklife Fest Kick-Off, an evening foodie affair that celebrates southern culture and food with an emphasis on Atlanta's unique cuisine.

Sample delicious food from Atlanta restaurants and businesses committed to serving local and sustainable ingredients. Stop by one of three bars to enjoy a specialized punchbowl cocktail created by area mixologists. Meet with a sommelier from Restaurant Eugene who curates Georgia wines. Stroll through the museum's award-winning exhibitions. Enjoy live music from Georgia's own Little Country Giants. Learn about the evolution of Atlanta dining with a panel discussion featuring some of Atlanta's most beloved chefs including, Steve and Marie Nygren, founders of Serenbe; Linton Hopkins, Executive Chef and Co-owner of several Atlanta restaurants, including Restaurant Eugene; and Duane Nutter, Chef and Owner of One Flew South and Rolling Bones.

  • Folklife Fest Kick-Off tickets are $60 for members; $75 for nonmembers and includes food and beverage. Purchase tickets online at

  • The traditional Fall Folklife Festival occurs on Saturday, September 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Atlanta History Center's Smith Family Farm. For more information or schedule of festival activities, visit online at

  • Admission to the Saturday festival is free to members and included in the price of general admission for nonmembers.

All three rating services reaffirm county's AAA credit level

Gwinnett County officials have learned that Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch Ratings have reaffirmed the government's AAA credit rating with a stable outlook. The County intends to take advantage of lower interest rates by refinancing a general obligation bond from 2003 that funded construction of the Pre-Trial Detention Center expansion. The move could save as much as $1.8 million in interest when it refinances the bonds in a negotiated sale later this month, according to Finance Director Maria Woods.

Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash says: "This is great news. Gwinnett County's sound financial management over the long-term has paid off once again with tangible results. I am pleased that we can reduce debt payments and save taxpayer dollars."

Gwinnett County has held the highest bond rating since 1997. The three rating agencies also reaffirmed the top rating on other Gwinnett County debt, including $969.5 million in water and sewer bonds and $94.7 million in Development Authority bonds.

Moody's cited Gwinnett's "strong fiscal management of the county as evidenced by ample reserves and demonstrated commitment toward maintaining its financial position." The agency's report also said "the favorable operations are due to conservative budgetary assumptions resulting in significant favorable variances in both revenues and expenditures, diligent budget monitoring, and proactive multi-year forecasting."

According to Standard and Poor's, the agency's rating reflects the county's "good financial management policies and practices and moderate overall debt levels, with no plans for additional new debt." The report went on to say "the county was able to generate these strong results … from conservative budgeting of its tax digest reductions, position vacancies, savings from limited capital contributions, and other departmental reductions."

Fitch noted in its report that Gwinnett County's position in a regional economic and employment center was one of the key drivers for its rating. The report said "the regional economy remains well positioned for growth over the long term, benefiting from solid in-migration patterns, a well-educated workforce, a large and diverse economy, and below-average living costs."

Two elected to board of Braselton LifePath CID

Terry Evans and Mary Neuman were recently elected to the board of directors of the Braselton LifePath Community Improvement District.

Evans, at left, and Neuman

Evans, a career banker, is president and CEO of Independence Bank in Braselton. He earned a BBA in banking and finance at the University of Georgia and graduated from the School of Banking at Louisiana State University. Formerly with the Citizens Bank of Gwinnett and the First National Bank of Gwinnett, he was an organizer and is the president of Independence Bank. He is a graduate of Leadership Gwinnett.

Neuman's corporate career includes professional responsibilities in risk management, financial systems, private consulting and is a principal partner in the Mulberry Walk Center of Braselton. She earned degrees from DeKalb Technical College and Georgia State University.

Braselton LifePath CID was chartered by the General Assembly and is governed by a seven-person volunteer board. Its principal mission is to design and construct safe and convenient pathways connecting neighborhoods to local commercial districts in western Braselton.

It's Not About You
By Bob Burg and John David Mann

"This easy-to-read business book is in the form of a parable-type story. We follow the journey of Ben who has recently been tasked with trying to make a merger happen. As he grows in learning about the company and the people, he learns even more about himself and also important business and relationship principles. I enjoyed many of the characters' conversations and their loaded implications. Each chapter was interesting and had its own nuggets of wisdom."

-- 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

In Washington, D.C., 60% of monuments are of Georgia marble

Marble, a metamorphosed limestone prized for its hardness and variety, is quarried in north Georgia near Tate, in Pickens County. This marble has been used extensively for gravestones and in buildings throughout the United States, including the U.S. Capitol. Sixty percent of the monuments in Washington, D.C., in fact, are made from Georgia marble.

The earliest known use of Georgia marble dates to 1400, when effigies, bowls, projectile points, and other necessities were carved out of native marble. These early artifacts, found in Pickens County, are part of the permanent exhibit at the Etowah Mounds near Cartersville.

The area's marble industry began after the mid-1830s, when Henry T. Fitzsimmons, an Irish stonemason, was traveling through north Georgia and discovered outcroppings of surface marble in the Long Swamp Valley of what was then Cherokee County. He immediately obtained the land, opened the Long Swamp Marble Company, and quarried the marble by very crude means. He then carved monuments and memorials that were sold throughout the area.

Georgia's next entrepreneur in the marble industry was Samuel Tate, who in the 1830s purchased land lottery tracts in north Georgia, much of which included large marble deposits. In 1845 Tate signed an agreement with James Ferrel, James C. Holmes, and Gideon Roberts, all from Alabama, that allowed for quarrying on his land. There is no evidence, however, that this agreement was ever enacted. In 1850, while continuing to farm, Tate became a partner in a marble company that opened a quarry in the vicinity of the present Georgia Marble Company in the town that later became known as Tate.

By 1880 the marble industry was defunct, lacking the necessary capital and transportation network to thrive. The arrival of the railroads by 1883 to Pickens County, with the establishment of the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad system, revitalized the industry by providing a means of transporting blocks and finished marble products. Northern capitalists invested in the industry, and the Tate family created the Georgia Marble Company in 1884. Marble finishing plants sprung up in Pickens County; Ball Ground and Canton in Cherokee County; and Marietta in Cobb County.

(To be continued)

College year begins

About 3,500 new Georgia Gwinnett College students participated last week in the college's March Through the Arch, a tradition with which GGC faculty welcome students into the campus community. The students were greeted by a gauntlet of applauding faculty. After the march, students sat on the lawn for a welcome program featuring college and student body representatives. When the students complete their studies, graduates of this incoming class will end their college career by exiting the same arch as part of their graduation ceremony. The arch is an architectural feature off to one side of the Library and Learning Center.


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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

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

At least the guys says half of us are right

"Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman President, everything will be all right. But it won't be."

-- The late Novelist Gore Vidal (1925-2012), 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.






Chamber address by U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss: 11:30 a.m., Aug. 22, Atlanta Marriott at Gwinnett Place. Tickets for the event are $45. Call 770 232-3000 for more details.

Sneak Peek of Gwinnett Ballet Theatre's new studios: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Aug. 23, 1800 Macleod Drive, Lawrenceville. Come see the 20,000-square-foot facility and its amenities. No RSVP needed. Just drop by and see for yourself!


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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