Insert your email for free automatic delivery

ABOUT READY: The ribbon-cutting at the Sugarloaf Parkway Extension at Georgia Highway 316 will take place on Tuesday, December 11, at 3:30 p.m. at the intersection. This is hosted by the Gwinnett County Commissioners. The Sugarloaf Parkway Extension will open immediately following the ceremony. Photo by Aerial Innovations of Georgia Inc.

Issue 12.65 | Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012

:: Co-op kicking off $4.2 million effort

:: Funding economic development

Who knew that about burning bush?

Gwinnett budget to be 8.5% lower

:: Brenau to use mountain center


:: Gwinnett Federal Credit Union

:: Georgia's granite otucrops

:: Peacocks in flight

:: Lots of events on tap

:: Preaching the Gospel


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



Norcross food co-op kicking off campaign to raise $4.2 million
Special to |

NORCROSS, Ga., Dec. 4, 2012 -- The Norcross Cooperative Ministry (NCM) announces a Restoring Hope! initiative, to underwrite a new five-year program to help those in need in the greater Norcross area. Goal of the campaign is to raise $4.2 million in 60 months.


Through the Restoring Hope! Initiative, the Norcross Co-op will implement three programs to benefit the Norcross area:

  • Transform Lives -- The Norcross Cooperative Ministry will work closely with a minimum of 100 families over the next five years to help them break the cycle of poverty and return to a productive lifestyle.

  • Provide New and Expanded Services -- NCM will increase food distribution and emergency housing and begin to provide non-food items to families in need.

  • Educate and Communicate -- The Ministry will expand local awareness of the needs in the greater Norcross area.

The Restoring Hope! campaign will also provide for the ongoing operations of the Co-op.

Randy Pope (senior pastor at Perimeter Church) and Jim Ellis (president of Jim Ellis Automotive Group) have agreed to serve as Co-Chairs of the Restoring Hope! Campaign Leadership Council. Ellis says: "This is an exciting time for the Norcross Cooperative Ministry and I am pleased to serve in this important initiative."

Pope adds: "Restoring Hope! is a dynamic program that will meet the current and future needs of the Ministry and the thousands of people they serve." Pope adds, "The Norcross Co-op and Director Shirley Cabe have done an outstanding job over the last 25 years. Now, this new five-year program will take this important ministry to the next level. The Restoring Hope! initiative will enable us to help so many more and in such a better way."

Joining Pope and Ellis is Jim Copeland (retired CEO of Deloitte) who will serve as the Campaign general chairman. Copeland will be joined by church, corporate and community leaders throughout the greater Norcross area contacting churches, businesses and families to garner support for the Co-op and this important program.

Copeland says: "Now is the right time for us to focus our attention on those in need. The Norcross Cooperative Ministry has been a mainstay of our community for 25 years, accomplishing so much with so little. This new initiative will help us strengthen and enhance the Co-op's current programs, like providing much needed food and clothing. And it will enable the ministry to implement new programs to help those who sincerely want to break the poverty cycle and stabilize their families. Most of all, the Restoring Hope! program will encourage all of us, from our churches and businesses, to work together for those in need in this part of Gwinnett County. Ultimately, the Restoring Hope! initiative will significantly impact not only the lives of all who are receiving…but it will impact the lives of all who are giving."

The Restoring Hope! campaign will be aimed first to the churches in the greater Norcross area during the next four months. For further information, contact John McCrory in the Restoring Hope! campaign office at 770-239-7415.

Diversity brings many blessings, but differences of ideas, too
Editor and publisher
| Permalink

DEC. 4, 2012 -- Gwinnett is blessed with being the most diverse of counties within the United States. Most of the time this means a diversity of people, a great conglomeration of those from all over the world, bringing to us their varied customs.


This can also mean Gwinnett is inhabited by a great diversity of thought, including many great minds. Yet there is a flip side to this: Gwinnett has some serious differences of opinion among its diverse residents, from positive thinkers all the way to "nut cases."

While we could delve into several examples, today let's concentrate on those people who are out to halt taxpayer money in Gwinnett going toward economic development. For this area alone, Gwinnett stands out with its most successful "Partnership Gwinnett." While other counties are often still mired in economic stagnation and internal political and educational problems, the Partnership working out of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce has been most successful, exceeding early expectations of landing new firms within the county, while at the same time providing assistance in local companies to expand and thrive. Here's a short summary:

  • Announcing relocations/expansions, valued at $68 million, with 2,667 jobs.

  • A total of 116 projects started between July 2011 and October 2012.

  • The above creating the lowest unemployment rate among the five core metro counties.

Now, against this Gwinnett success, come people who see funds funneled from the Gwinnett Board of Education and the Gwinnett County Commission for economic development as a waste of taxpayer money. While we recognize that others are entitled to their opinion, we think their way of thinking amounts to little more than rubbish.

Governmental agencies have a responsibility to ensure that their county stays healthy economically. In Gwinnett, that's taken to mean that a balance must be maintained between commercial and residential activities. Without this balance, homeowners would pay a far higher tax rate. In Gwinnett this is counterbalanced by a positive commercial tax flow. So, ipso facto, governments know what they are doing when they channel taxpayer money into economic development, since the results is all-around calculated stability for all.

After all, what has fueled the Gwinnett climate, even in harsh economic times? For, while some Gwinnett businesses have lost sales and employment during recent years, other established firms have found continued success here. Then there are the other employers who have looked to re-locate their businesses, and found that the Partnership Gwinnett program of community support for business attracted them. Their move to the county helped offset the firms caught up in the recessed economy, and allowed Gwinnett to continue to be among the healthiest counties in the area.

We question the proposals advance by some in Gwinnett to defund contributions by government for economic development. We suggest that the tactic of funding professionals in this field at the Chamber is far better than having a large economic development department within government. In effect, Gwinnett has privatized this function, which is working.

Yes, Gwinnett is diverse in our many ways. And every idea that comes down the pike isn't valid. Those opposing government economic development through the Chamber are out of order.


Gwinnett Federal Credit Union

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Gwinnett Federal Credit Union is a $227 million credit union that serves more than 41,000 members in Barrow, Clarke, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Jackson, Oconee and Walton counties. Operating as a not-for-profit financial cooperative, Gwinnett Federal's mission is to provide quality financial services that meet the needs and exceed the expectations of its member-owners. For more information about our products and services, or to find one of our 13 convenient branch locations, please visit

  • For a list of other underwriters of this forum, click here.

Oh no! Now we find that burning bushes are invasive!

Editor, the Forum:

First, we love your GwinnettForum and read every issue. We appreciate what you do and the evenhanded nature of the reporting.

However, we were dismayed to see the Burning Bush featured as the lagniappe in the latest newsletter, Issue 12.64. English ivy, Japanese privet, or even kudzu-the poster child of invasive plants-may just as well have been selected; they are all equally offensive and detrimental.

The winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is an invasive species of the woodlands of eastern North America and is on the list of "Invasive Plants in Georgia: Significant Threat," as determined by The University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. It is also similarly listed in Connecticut and Virginia (and probably more states), and its importation and sale is prohibited in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

E.O. Wilson, probably the foremost living biologist, has said that "The two great destroyers of biodiversity are, first, habitat destruction and, second, invasion by exotic species." We should not endorse, glorify, and thus encourage, explicitly or implicitly, the use of invasive species.

I understand that many people are in the early phase of the learning curve on this topic, but like other environmental threats, we need to ramp up pretty soon or pay the consequences. For further information and enlightenment, suggest the reader peruse sites for the Georgia Invasive Species Task Force,, the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health,, Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council,, and Georgia Native Plant Society,, for an introduction to, yet thorough treatment of the topic.

-- Rick and Sandy Krause, Lilburn

Dear Lilburnites: Gee, we never knew. Beautiful, but now we learn problematic. Thank you for your insight and your scholarship.---eeb

  • Send us your opinions. 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 budget from chairman is 8.5% lower for next year

Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash has formally presented her proposed fiscal year 2013 budget to the Board of Commissioners. The proposed budget totals $1.3 billion, which is 8.5 percent lower than this year's $1.43 billion.

Six county residents and business people helped craft the proposed budget by serving on the chairman's budget review committee. After hearing presentations from elected officials and department directors, the group studied departmental business plans and revenue projections to make recommendations for the budget.

Those included on the review committee included Houston Bass, BB&T; Mark Brock, Gwinnett County Public Schools; David Crews, View Point Health; Lois Love, retired capital budget manager for Gwinnett County; Marian Lucia, retired Executive Vice President of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta; and Herman Pennamon of Georgia Power Company.

The proposed budget preserves core services, maintains necessary reserves and addresses the impact of some legislated changes. It also adjusts for the loss of revenues resulting from a further drop in property values, changes mandated by the consent order that ended the Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) litigation between the county and its cities, and the creation of the new city of Peachtree Corners.


A major challenge for the 2013 budget preparation was the implementation of special service districts, as required by the SDS consent order. Three new service districts for fire, police and development provide services and collect revenues only within certain geographic areas of the County rather than countywide. For example, the police service district includes unincorporated Gwinnett and the cities that do not have their own police departments. A fourth district, funded through a contract with the County, will provide emergency medical services to residents of incorporated Loganville who live in Gwinnett.

The budget provides funding to handle the implementation of state legislation, including tax reform and judicial reform, but very little else in the way of improvements could be funded. Pay raises for county employees are not included in the budget for the fourth consecutive year, and the county will continue a policy of holding vacant positions unfilled for at least 90 days.

The proposed budget for daily operations in fiscal year 2013 totals $922 million, up slightly more than one percent from this year. The proposed capital budget is $385 million, down about 25 percent, primarily attributable to the completion of SPLOST projects in earlier years and the resulting decrease in SPLOST project budgets for 2013.

Under current estimates, the millage rate for residents who live in unincorporated Gwinnett County will increase by less than one mill, while residents in cities that operate a police department will experience a more than one mill decrease. Residents of cities that do not operate a police department should see a millage rate increase of less than half a mill. The greatest reduction in rates will occur within the city of Loganville, where property owners will pay county taxes only for the general fund, recreation district, and general obligation debt.

Brenau University to use Ga. Mountain Center for instruction

Brenau University will take possession of the Gainesville-owned Georgia Mountains Center December 15 as part of a long-term lease agreement with the Gainesville Redevelopment Authority. The move will pave the way for a $6.5 million expansion of the University's health care professions graduate programs.

Brenau President Ed Schrader said that Brenau's occupancy of the building means that it can start work in January 2013 on major internal renovations to the property. Pending approvals by various academic and professional standards accrediting boards, the university plans to offer graduate programs in physical therapy and other professional health care disciplines in 2014.

Although the lease technically commences December 15, the ceremonial hand off will occur on December 17.With the execution of the lease, the university assumes responsibility for managing all aspects of the facility, including renting the theater, ballroom/meeting rooms, commercial kitchen and other public use areas in the building.

A major change, which takes place immediately, is that the 2,500-seat arena will no longer be available for rent. The redevelopment design calls for doubling usable floor space in that portion of the building by using it for classrooms, laboratories and other academic-oriented space.

Although the Mountains Center has been an asset for the city, the 30-year-old facility has been losing money steadily in recent years, primarily because of the availability of newer, larger convention and meeting centers that have emerged in North Georgia to accommodate the size audiences that are required to keep such a facility vibrant. Ironically, one of the remaining major events in the arena each year has been Brenau's May commencement exercises, which will now have to find a new home.

Brenau's investment in the project totals about $6.5 million. That includes costs of renovations, building technology infrastructure, equipment for high-level health-related graduate programs and research, and other costs associated with starting new professional health care programs. Funding will come from the university with monies raised through donations, grants and possibly bonds. Schrader says Brenau already has commitments and cash on hand representing about two-thirds of the projected costs.

The Casual Vacancy
By J.K. Rowling

"The older you get, you realize you don't have to finish reading every book you start. That's what's happened for me with J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy. Though I'm two-thirds into it, it's going back to the library because it's just not an enjoyable read. The book centers on warring factions of the town council, profiling emotionally maladjusted adults who always seem at their wits' end. Overall, the fiction in this book seems 'strained.' It feels overwritten because every small daily interaction -- from eating breakfast to a dinner party to a doctor's visit -- is perceived to have such an impact. Readers are constantly on an emotional rollercoaster. Style-wise, Rowling's writing is detailed, descriptive and pinpoint, just as in her Harry Potter series. But just as the series dragged on and on, so did this new book."

-- Andy Brack, Charleston, S.C.

  • 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 granite outcrops provide distinctive habitat patterns

Granite outcrops are exposed granitic rocks, found in the Piedmont and Appalachian Mountain regions, that weather in characteristic patterns and provide unusual habitats where a unique set of plants and animals have adapted. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of the approximately 12,000 acres of exposed granite in the Southeast is located in Georgia, including Stone Mountain, the largest of the Piedmont outcrops.

Geologists estimate that most of the granitic rocks that outcrop in the Piedmont of the southeastern United States are approximately 300-350 million years old. These outcrops were formed by the intrusion of molten granite into preexisting country rock at a depth of about sixteen kilometers below the surface. Over millions of years, erosion removed thousands of feet of overlying rock, exposing the more resistant bodies of granite.

Granitic outcrops vary tremendously in size, shape, and position in the landscape. Some consist of small, flat-lying exposures (or flatrocks) only a few square feet in area. At the other extreme, Stone Mountain is a steeply sloping outcrop that covers nearly 600 acres and rises approximately 825 feet above the surrounding countryside.

Granite itself is often very heterogeneous in mineral composition and texture. Often neighboring outcrops that would appear to have developed as parts of the same rock actually occur on distinctly different types of rock intrusions. For example, Stone Mountain, Panola Mountain, and Arabia Mountain all occur within about 15 miles of each other, east and southeast of Atlanta. Yet each represents a distinct and separate rock type: Stone Mountain granite, Panola granite (above right), and Arabia Mountain gneiss, respectively.

The mineral composition and texture of various rock units may have their greatest significance as evidence of weathering patterns that produce distinctive rock outcrop habitats. The rock surface is commonly subject to exfoliation, with "shells" of rock sloughing away to create crevices and talus piles at the base. Uneven weathering of the rock surface results in shallow depressions, called weathering or solution pits. It is in these depressions that the most distinctive granite-outcrop plants and animals occur.

(To be continued)

Beautiful in flight, too

We all know of the colorful plumage peacocks show when they spread their feathers while walking around. But this bird is beautiful, too when flying, as seen in these two photos shared with us by John Pentecost of Lawrenceville.


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: is a daily compilation of the latest area deaths, brought to you by local funeral homes and

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.

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.

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.

Preaching the Gospel can take many different routes

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

-- Italian religious leader who founded the religious order, the Franciscans Saint Francis of Assisi, (1182-1226), via Herb Hamby of Lawrenceville.

Looking for that perfect, unique gift?

Consider a book about Gwinnett history.

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
  • 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.

Or call me (Elliott Brack) at 770 840 1003 and tell me how to dedicate a book to a friend (or to you) as he adds his signature!





A Christmas Carol, via the Southern Gwinnett Community Arts (SGCA), presented one time: 6 p.m., Dec. 4, Snellville Senior Center, 2350 Oak Road. Performing will be members of "The World's Our Stage" Division of SGCA, directed by Kathleen L. Mardis. Cost, including dinner, is $15. For information phone 770-402-6669, or send email.

(NEW) Lights of Love and Remembrance: 7 p.m., Dec. 4, Duluth's Gwinnett Medical Center Gallery. Faith Community Nursing of the Hospital offers this program to honor or remember someone during the holiday period. Luminaries will be lit in honor of persons for a $20 donation. For more information, send an email or call 678-312-2423.

Two Christmas Concerts by the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra and Chorus: 5:30 p.m., Dec. 9, Johns Creek Christian Church, 10800 Bell Road in Johns Creek; and 6 p.m., Dec. 17, at the Performing Arts Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, in Duluth, with the Youth Orchestra in a pre-concert. Both are free. Those attending are asked to bring non-perishable food items to support the local food bank. For more information, visit

Artists in the Home Tour in Duluth: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Dec. 8. Tour begins at City Hall. Four homes are included, one condo, one town home and two historic homes on West Lawrenceville Street, both dating to the mid-1800s. Tickets are $20 each and may be purchased at the City Hall. This is an event of the Duluth Fine Arts League.


Holiday Concert by the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve: 7 p.m., Dec. 10, Long Forum at Greater Atlanta Christian School. For tickets, contact the band's web site.


12/21: Fort Daniel, Chambliss
12/18: Ban assault weapons
12/14: Army-Navy game
12/11: Who stole American dream?
12/7: Lock 'em in a room
12/4: On Partnership Gwinnett

11/30: Hera Lighting
11/27: Voting out scalawags
11/20: Arts alive in Gwinnett
11/16: Hope Clinic needs help
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


12/21: Wiggins: Recycle trees
12/18: Two canal cruises to take
12/14: C. Brack: Give a little
12/11: Goodman: Suwanee's art
12/7: Duke: Director of Encouragement
12/4: Dorough: Food co-op

11/30: McHenry: CID redevelopment
11/27: Sutt: Gwinnett arts' questions
11/20: Urrutia: Grad wins award
11/16: Collins: Las Vegas
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?


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 local offices
  • Transparent operations to restore faith in Gwinnett's County Commission
  • 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
  • Approval of Educational SPLOST in 2013
  • 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


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.

PHONE: 770.840.1003

Site designed and maintained by
The Brack Group.