Issue 14.29 | July 8, 2014
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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., July 8, 2014 -- "The truth lies somewhere in between." I do not know who first put that thought into words, yet it is a statement most of us have heard and probably used. The statement suggests one argument or perspective is not entirely correct while its opposite argument or perspective is not entirely incorrect. Consider the possibility that an unseen third position is the truth about the matter in debate.
What am I getting at? Let me say it -- I think the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a terribly flawed law and I do not advocate for it. My position is one side of the argument; others disagree with me, some do with great passion.
So is the law good or bad? (You saw this coming) The truth lies somewhere in between. Even though I do not like the law, I must admit it has been beneficial to many, including my family and friends. For example, my young adult daughter is able to remain on my health insurance (good) and family and friends with serious and expensive medical conditions are able to obtain health insurance (good). But, my insurance premium is now more expensive (bad) and my out of pocket expenses have gone up significantly (bad).
Of great concern to me as the executive director of a medical charity is the truth that while many previously uninsured people are now able to obtain insurance (good), they cannot enjoy the benefit of insurance due to expensive deductibles and copayments (bad). For example, a dear friend of mine has diabetes and for that reason was previously unable to obtain health insurance. She now has health insurance through the ACA exchange (good). Her deductible is $6,000, a significant portion of her take home income (bad). Worse, the only physician in the area who accepts her ACA health plan is in Canton; my friend lives in Lawrenceville.
My friend's situation is not unique. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently reported Georgia's average premium for insurance through the ACA exchange is the second-lowest among the states using the exchange. Georgians who qualified for subsidies or discounts for coverage are paying an average premium of $54 per month. Their average actual premium is $341, but they receive a subsidy of $287. The low premiums/high subsidies are due to the low incomes of those Georgians obtaining insurance. The obvious question then is if someone has been determined unable to spend the additional $287 per month ($3,444 per year) in premiums, how are they going to afford a deductible of $6,000 or more?
Many people tell me the need for medical charities is coming to an end. I disagree. I believe many who obtain insurance and then realize the true cost of ownership of that policy will determine it is not affordable at all. They will ask themselves, "Why pay for insurance if I cannot afford the out of pocket fees?" How many will drop health insurance for this reason?
What would happen then if medical charities have scaled back or ceased to exist because the general public thought they were no longer necessary and thus stopped offering donations to help support the non-profit clinics?
The ACA will not destroy America and neither will it solve the problem of being uninsured; the truth lies somewhere in between.
And in between is where the Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett and other safety net clinics are able to serve those who cannot afford their total cost of healthcare.
JULY 8, 2014 -- July 1 marked the beginning of my 41st year in Gwinnett County. Driving east on Crogan Street early on July 1, 1974, headed for work, as I neared what was then the First National Bank of Gwinnett, I saw a car with fire shooting out of its engine on Culver Street. I stopped, got my camera and made a photograph.
It was to be my first day as general manager of the Gwinnett Daily News. When I arrived at the office a few minutes later, I handed to the photo staff a roll of film, telling them what I had shot. By that afternoon, I had a front page photo of that incident on my first day on the job.
So began my days in Gwinnett. Since that time, I've found the county and its people to be fascinating, sometimes exasperating, but always fun and rewarding. Remember, in those days in 1974, there were only about 100,000 people in the county. I well remember wondering how in the world a small newspaper would be able to cover that big a county. Now speed forward 40 years, and realize that we have 859,304 people ..and the coverage problem only multiplies.
From my 40 years perspective in Gwinnett, I feel two main stories have developed.
Of course, the major story has been growth, and how the county has handled it. Sure, we've had ups and downs, good times and bad, but through it all, the county has continued growing. Thanks go to a lot of people with foresight, as they put in place the sewer, water, roads, schools, the planning and other elements.
Meanwhile, the county continues to thrive and be among the leaders in Georgia in number of people settling here each year. For instance, since 2010, the county population has increased 54,983, an average of 18,328 people a year. That annual growth rate alone is more than the total population of 64 Georgia counties!
The second story: how the growth happened. By 1988, Gwinnett had become 98 percent white. But that year, major change began, as first African-Americans, then Hispanic and Asian people, were attracted primarily by Gwinnett schools. And today, we are far different. In one word, it's "diversity," as people from so many nations, so many languages, and so many distinct characteristics, have begun to call Gwinnett home. It was about four years ago that the editor of the national Governing magazine told me he thought Gwinnett was the most diverse county in the entire nation. Few areas across the country have been such a distinctive growth.
In these 40 years in Gwinnett, the county has been a great place to live and work and mature. Basically, it's a good quality of life. No, Gwinnett is not the wealthiest of places; it doesn't have the biggest homes; nor the most jobs; yet what its people recognizes is its distinctiveness and pride that you don't see in other areas, plus terrific schools, from K to College. Our politicians, for the most part, have been good, credible people. Even the characters have been, in general, honorable.
Its residents are proud to tell people from other areas that they are from Gwinnett. They take pride in their home county, knowing that its businesses, its schools, its institutions are all first rate, and seek to do even better.
Forty years in Gwinnett makes me an old-timer, I realize. It's been a good place to live, watching its changes, and anticipating that the future will be even greater.
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com to you at no cost to readers. Today's underwriter is Gwinnett Center, home to four distinct facilities in Duluth: The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Gwinnett Convention Center, Gwinnett Performing Arts Center, and The Hudgens Center for the Arts.
The Arena at Gwinnett Center has had twelve years of tremendous success hosting countless concerts, family shows and sporting events, and is home to the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators. Some past concerts include George Strait, Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé, Foo Fighters, Eric Clapton, Katy Perry, Kid Rock, James Taylor and Michael Bublé. The Arena at Gwinnett Center also hosts many family shows including Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, Cirque du Soleil, Disney On Ice and Harlem Globetrotters. Gwinnett Convention Center offers patrons the opportunity to host or attend a wide variety of events, from corporate meetings to trade shows to social occasions. Gwinnett Performing Arts Center has an intimate capacity of 700-seats and is home to many local events, family shows and even some comedians. The Hudgens Center for the Arts showcases a range of artwork throughout the year along with offering a wide range of fine art classes.
Editor, the Forum:
"Uncorked Girls Art Night" is held on the third Thursday of each month at Lionheart Performing Art Center (the Old Cotton Gin) in Norcross. At this event, friends and neighbors gather in downtown Norcross and tap into that unique creative source that everyone carries with them. Here's what a few attendees have to say:
As for myself, I'm a self-taught mixed media artist who loves to create colorful, whimsical images. I enjoy mixing all sorts of materials in my work, inks, paints, papers, bubble wrap, stencils .and I have discovered that painting with friends is my favorite way to create.
Rant, rave, send us a letter
The City of Suwanee is celebrating a special 10-year-old's birthday on Saturday, July 19. This summer marks a decade since 1,200 Suwanee mommies, daddies, grandparents, business owners, football players, and other volunteers came together to build a super playground on Main Street over the course of five days. That playground, PlayTown Suwanee, continues to have an enchanting impact on Suwanee's youngest residents today.
The community will celebrate PlayTown Suwanee's 10th birthday in a fashion befitting any 10-year-old - with balloons, a DJ, clown, face painting, and, of course, birthday cake. Young residents also will be invited to create a hand-painted tile - very similar to those created 10 years ago for the playground. These new tiles will fill in available spaces among the tiles that still exist from 10 years ago. The party will take place from 10 a.m. until noon on July 19 at the playground.
Angie O'Farrell, who served as the playground's volunteer committee chair a decade ago, says: "PlayTown Suwanee has been such a treasured place for my family and me over the years. We still take out-of-town guests there and talk about the incredible experience of building a park in five days. During that week I met some of my dearest friends in Suwanee and developed a sense of pride for our community that has carried over into so many other local volunteer activities."
Ninth annual Gwinnett restaurant promotion to begin July 20
Foodies rejoice: the 2014 restaurants and menus for Gwinnett's longest running dining promotion, Gwinnett Restaurant Week, is around the corner, to begin Sunday, July 20 and continue through Thursday, July 24.
Gwinnett Restaurant Week provides the opportunity for diners to enjoy a three-course meal at one of 15 participating restaurants for one low price of $21.21, plus tax/gratuity. The average savings per meal is about 30 percent.
and farm-to-table are two of the biggest draws for several Gwinnett Restaurant
Week participants. Participating restaurants/menus are online at GRW's
official website, www.gwinnettrestaurantweek.com.
Reservations are required for most restaurants. For more information contact
J. Hawkins at 770-814-6048.
A new rowing exercise record was set, and $7,500 raised for two charities, by a Duluth High graduate and a crew member recently.
Charles Anderson, 31, who owns Rowbot Fitness of Smyrna, and Crew Member Stephen Ebbett, 35, formerly of Durham, England, completed a grueling 1,000,000 meters (621 miles) row beginning May 28 and finishing on June 1. The exercise took 89 hours, 19 minutes, 9.8 seconds to set two world records on the indoor rower. They nearly doubled the previous record (50 hours) and set a bar (previously unset) for the fastest million meters. Both were in the 30-39 Men's Heavyweight Tandem category, which required that they keep the machine in motion for the entire time.
Charles Anderson is a graduate of Duluth High School and Georgia Tech; he is also an Eagle Scout out of Troup 26, at Christ Episcopal Church in Norcross. He is the son of Martha Bomar of Duluth and Walter Anderson of Sumter, S.C.
The two alternated on the rowing machine, day and night. There were 62 full and partial wardrobe changes during the endurance. The pair would trade off each hour during the day, and at night would alternate sleeping for two hours (in a RV parked outside) before starting to row again. The pair consumed 6-7,000 calories a day. A total of $5,600 was raised for Kidney Research, and another $2,000 raised for Open Hand Atlanta.
Gwinnett Water Department has new internship program
County Department of Water Resources is underway with a new summer internship
program for area college students to gain real-world experience in the
water utility industry. The program's 15 participants attend the University
of Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Georgia Gwinnett College,
Southern Polytechnic State University, University of West Georgia and
Duluth Foundation awards 4 leukemia grants for 2014
When Everyone Survives Foundation of Duluth has awarded four $50,000 leukemia research grants for 2014.
The four recipients are: Dr. Chengcheng Zhang, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas; Dr. David Frank, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of the Harvard Medical School in Boston; Dr. Edmund K. Waller, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta; and Dr. Gang Huang, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati.
Funding for all four initiatives began July 1. On that date, the Foundation's cumulative funding since inception reached $1.15 million.
W.E. "Bill" Smith, founder and president of When Everyone Survives, says: "The research these doctors are conducting were judged by our Medical Advisory Board to be innovative and likely to be curative against the fight of leukemia and other blood related cancers. We are honored and excited to fund these research initiatives."
When Everyone Survives Foundation is a Gwinnett County Georgia based nonprofit established by the Smith family after their 22 year-old son, Wes, succumbed to leukemia in 2005. The Foundation's primary purpose is that of collecting and distributing funds for leukemia research.
Engineering technology is new Gwinnett Tech program
Technical College is launching a new Engineering Technology associate
degree program, now accepting students for Fall Semester 2014. Classes
start August 20.
engineers often design products or systems, engineering technologists
help to implement or build those designs. "The world needs both to
solve its problems," says Bray Bonner, program director. "One
of the rewards of this work is getting to see your projects turned into
finished products that help people."
Success in the field takes an aptitude for math, an interest in science, good communication skills and an ability to work well in teams or individually. Students will learn to think logically through a blend of theory and hands-on applications in the laboratory. "We use the latest equipment and teach the most current processes and skills, because our purpose is to offer an education that you can take to work. We want you to succeed," says Bonner.
Five county bridges to get upgrades this year
Five bridges in Gwinnett County will undergo repairs to extend their useful life under a new contract that Gwinnett commissioners approved for $375,000 from SPLOST funds recently.
The bridges are on Steve Reynolds Boulevard, Ingram Road, Connemara Trace, Rockbridge Road and Arnold Road. Sunbelt Structures Inc. of Tucker was the lowest of five bidders at $375,000. The work includes cleaning and painting steel beams, sealing bridge deck joints, encasing bridge pilings with concrete and filling erosion voids at the abutments. The rehabilitation projects will begin in August with an expected completion date by the end of the year.
Recently, I saw the Dinesh D'Souza film, America: Imagine a World Without Her. At the end of the movie, the audience clapped and cheered and stood up during the credits for a very contemporary version of the National Anthem. Instead of being depressing, like his last film, D'Souza presented a quite positive view of the U.S.A. from the different perspective of an immigrant who chose to make America his home. The film proves wrong the critics of this country that America is an evil movement, especially the liberal professors, progressive politicians, and media elites who have deliberately created a false image of our nation, and who say it has stolen its wealth and deserves no credit for the great good it has done since its founding. One by one, he picks apart the false impressions being told and sets the record straight. I highly recommend it.
(Continued from previous edition)
Although whitewater paddling is an enjoyable way to experience the majestic scenery of Georgia's waterways, it is not without risk, and fatalities do occur. To reduce the risk, some safety precautions should be observed.
It is extremely inadvisable and in some locations illegal to boat alone; experts strongly advise paddling with a partner or group. At least one member of the party should be familiar with the river being attempted. Furthermore, it is important to "scout" rapids where one's view might be obstructed from the river by getting out of the boat and evaluating from shore the safest route. It is important to realize when a rapid should be portaged, that is, when the boat should be pulled from the stream and carried around the rough water. Entrapment beneath trees, undercut rocks, or other objects in the river is the most common cause of death in whitewater accidents. Georgia law requires that lifejackets be worn on rivers in the state. Helmets, although not required on all rivers, are also necessary for safety.
An international rating scale for comparing river difficulty was developed using six classes or difficulty levels. Class1, the easiest level, is defined as fast-moving water with small waves, a few obvious obstructions, and relatively little danger to accidental swimmers. The classes increase in difficulty, culminating in Class 6, which is described as extreme and exploratory. These runs are almost never attempted, even by expert paddlers, and offer extremes of danger and unpredictability. The consequences of a mistake can be severe or fatal.
As interest in whitewater paddling has increased, several terms have been developed to describe river phenomena and paddling maneuvers. They include:
Although Georgia's whitewater rivers and creeks are far too numerous to describe in detail, two rivers in particular, both in the northeast Georgia mountains near Clayton, deserve special recognition.
The crown jewel of Appalachian whitewater, the Chattooga River is one of the few remaining free-flowing streams of substantial size in the Southeast. The river has its source in the mountains of North Carolina and flows south, forming the border between Georgia and South Carolina. Pristine for much of its length, the Chattooga received federal protective status in 1974 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Chattooga has been divided into four sections, three of which are available for whitewater paddling. The Chattooga has sections to accommodate all skill levels: Section II is suitable for novices, Section III is suitable for intermediate paddlers, and Section IV is considered an advanced run.
The Tallulah River and the gorge through which it flows are among the geological marvels of the Southeast. The Tallulah River is also one of the premier whitewater runs in the world. Located in Rabun County, Tallulah Gorge and the nearby town of Tallulah Falls were once tourist destinations, until a hydroelectric dam completed in 1914 silenced the mighty falls. In 1988 the Georgia Power Company and the federal government reached an agreement allowing recreational releases of water from the dam at the head of the gorge five weekends per year. Overnight a world-class, expert-level whitewater run was reborn. The fall and spring releases in Tallulah gorge draw whitewater enthusiasts from around the globe as well as hundreds of spectators.
As increasing numbers of paddlers are beginning to discover, whitewater paddling offers a wonderful way to enjoy the natural beauty of Georgia.
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For the 2014 primary season, GwinnettForum asked all candidates facing primary opposition in Gwinnett County to provide answers to six questions.
You can read answers of candidates who are in the runoff by clicking on the links for each race. (Candidate answers are provided by race; scroll down the document if you don't immediately see the candidate you want to read about.)
U.S. CONGRESS, DISTRICT 10
GEORGIA STATEWIDE CANDIDATES
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
GEORGIA LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES
SENATE DISTRICT 9
Meet Author Karin Slaughter on July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Peachtree Corners Barnes and Noble store. Slaughter will discuss her new book, Cop Town, her first stand-alone novel. This will be Slaughter's exclusive Metro Atlanta appearance on her national book tour. She is being presented by the Gwinnett County Public Library.
Free Brown Bag Concerts on the lawn at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville. Bring a lunch and enjoy music and other activities. Dates for the 11 a.m. Brown Bag concerts are on July 11 and August 1, all sponsored by the Gwinnett Parks and Recreation Commission.
Historical Findings Presentation of the Wynne-Russell House in Lilburn will take place July 12 at 11 a.m. by David and Shannon Byers of Timeless Paranormal. Elmer Nash, fifth generation Lilburn resident, will also give a commentary on the architectural and historic aspects of the 1826 house, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Meanwhile, there will be a yard sale beginning at 9 a.m. at the house.
Southern Wings Bird Club meets Monday, July 14 at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center at 7 p.m. Speaker will be Emily Jo Williams. She is the Migratory Bird Chief/Assistant Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Southeast Region. Her presentation is entitled "You had me at Hello .... how birds can inspire us to save the natural world and the breathable air and drinkable water that come along as a bonus."
Peachtree Corners State of the City Address by Mayor Mike Mason will be July 21 at 7:30 a.m. at the Atlanta Marriott Norcross. The breakfast event is hosted by the Peachtree Corners Business Association. Admission is $5 for Association members and $20 for others. For details, send an email here. Reservations are required.
MORE EEB PERSPECTIVE
CONTINUING OBJECTIVES FOR GWINNETT
Gwinnett Forum publisher Elliott Brack suggests that Gwinnett County needs a long-range list of continuing objectives for improving the county. Read more.
GwinnettForum.com 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.
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