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THINK PINK: It's the time of year when the Flowering Crepe Myrtles are in big bloom, which will be beautifying the scene through the summer. There are 26 different varieties of red, pink, white and even blue crepes. One of the biggest of plantings can be found at the Mall of Georgia, near the entrance and the valet parking area. There are about 30 trees planted in pairs with a green space running the width of the parking lot. Frank Sharp of Lawrenceville, who shot this scene, says it is a "sight to behold." While the Crepe Myrtles are found all around Gwinnett, Lawrenceville calls itself the "Crepe Myrtle City."

Issue 14.30 | July 11, 2014

:: Clarifying rules on closed meetings

:: Readers know lots about Guidestones

Issues on water resources

Farmers market, Woodall

Photo contest,

:: The Brand Bank

:: Fahrenheit 451

:: Something truly useless

:: State's Blue Ridge Mountains

:: This one may be more difficult

:: Can you say toucan?


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
Buy the book on Gwinnett's history


Elected officials can speak out on proceedings of closed sessions
Transparency Project of Georgia
Special for GwinnettForum
| permalink

ATLANTA, Ga., July 11, 2014 -- Elected officials are free to speak about what goes on in executive sessions, according to a leading authority on the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

Attorney David Hudson says elected officials do not give up their First Amendment rights to free speech simply because they hold office or because they participate in an executive session of a governing body.

Hudson told members of the Georgia Press Association earlier this year: "From time to time, elected officials such as city council members, county commissioners, school board members or appointed members of the board of government authorities will receive advice (usually from a lawyer representing the public entity) that the public official may not disclose information learned in a closed session. Such advice has no basis in fact or in law."

Hudson adds: "Elected officials are subject only to the voters."

He explains there is an obvious misunderstanding of the Code of Ethics contained in O.C.G.A 45-10-3 that prohibits them from disclosing proprietary information for "personal gain" or in violation of the public trust. He says: "None of its provisions would prohibit an elected or appointed member from disclosing what occurred in an executive session if the member felt it was in the public interest to do so."

In fact, Hudson feels that the state's Constitution might even compel an elected official to disclose what occurred in a closed-door executive session.

In the same article he commented on Article I, Sec. II, Paragraph I of the Georgia Constitution. "It states: 'Public officers are trustees and servants of the people and are at all times amenable to them.' Thus if the public officer learns of something that occurs in a closed session that he or she believes should be known by the people to whom the public officer is a servant, there is no prohibition in Georgia law that would prevent such disclosure or subject the public officer to any measure of discipline."

Hudson says that disclosing information from executive sessions might anger fellow officials, but in his opinion a public servant should weigh the public trust against the risk of creating ill-will with other members of the same elected body.

Local elected officials in county and city governments have told reporters and editors they are legally prohibited to disclose what is discussed in executive sessions.

Hudson disagrees.

In addition, Hudson has consistently opined that there are no requirements in state law to hold executive sessions for any reason. Rather, he has said, it is permitted or allowed for property acquisition, pending or actual litigation and certain personnel issues.

Jim Zachary, editor of the Henry Daily Herald and Clayton News Daily, and director of the recently-launched Transparency Project of Georgia, says: "There is a significant difference between being legally permitted to do something and being required. Every single time elected officials retreat to executive session, it is a choice they are making to conceal the public's business. It is important they know that if even just one of them chooses to disclose what was talked about behind closed doors, they can do so without fear of violating any state law."

Zachary continues: "These are extremely important legal perspectives. Citizens should continue to put pressure on local officials to stop doing public business in private."

Readers have added information about the Georgia Guidestones

Editor and publisher |

JULY 14, 2014 -- There hasn't ever been an outpouring of correct guesses about a Forum mystery photo as happened in the last few days. Lots of people responded to the photograph of the Georgia Guidestones sent in by Janet Rinaldo of Dacula,with folks telling lots of detail about this mysterious formation of granite.


First in was Janet Gibson of Lilburn, who notes: "It's a mystery to folks in the area." Gary Webb of Lawrenceville says: "The Georgia Guidestones, aka, American Stonehenge, in Elbert County." Robert Hanson of Loganville adds: "And it's made of granite, the principal product of Elberton."

Jim Nelems of Peachtree Corners chips in with: "They are in 10 languages. Who paid for them has been a closely guarded secret." Phyllis Davis of Lawrenceville says: "This is the marker on the Georgia Highway 77 in a Hart County. It is made of Elberton granite. It is a unique marker."

Scott LeCraw of Suwanee got overjoyed at the photo: "Finally! One mystery photo I know! The Georgia Guidestones in Elbert County. Definitely a strange sight."

Karen Garner of Dacula adds: "It's commonly thought that the man calling himself R.C. Christian, the same man directly responsible for the creation of the Guidestones, did so in homage to Christian Rosenkruez, who was the founder of the mystical theology known as Rosicrucianism."

Rich Edinger Lawrenceville, says: "A message clearly conveying a set of ten guidelines is inscribed on the structure in eight modern languages, (Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Spanish, Swahili) and a shorter message is inscribed at the top of the structure in four ancient languages' scripts: Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit and Egyptian hieroglyphs."

Bob Foreman of Grayson chips in: "These granite monoliths were erected in 1980 and contain a set of guidelines or suggestions for living on the planet. The inscriptions are not exactly the Ten Commandments, but appear to be the anonymous opinion of someone with deep pockets, trying to leave his or her mark on the world."

Howard Williams of Snellville tells us: "The Georgia Guidestones are located at the highest point in Elbert County, off Georgia Highway 77."

Lynn Naylor of Atlanta finds: "The Guidestones have captured the curiosity of astronomy buffs, peaceniks, pagans, and preachers over the decades since. Conspiracy theorists have decoded them; pagans have held rituals around them; graffiti artists have defaced them. They are as riveting for their curious origins and enigmatic intentions as they are for the cacophonous range of responses they evoke in observers.

"The monument was commissioned in 1979 by an anonymous donor calling himself 'R.C. Christian.' According to the deceased Joe Fendley, then president of the Elberton Granite Finishing Company, Mr. Christian was a tall, well-dressed stranger who showed up in his office on a Friday afternoon and offered to pay a substantial sum of money for the construction of the monument. Fendley sent him over to Wyatt C. Martin, then president of the Granite City Bank.

"Within a few weeks, Christian had wired money to the bank and brought in a wooden model of the monument, and the quarrying and construction had begun. Over 4,000 letters were ultimately etched into the surface of the stones. A year later, on March 22, 1980, the Guidestones were unveiled -- in a former cow pasture."

Others identifying the stones include Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill; Dave Heydinger of Elberton, Richard Lux and Harriet Nichols of Trickum, Gary Cobb of Hartwell, David Earl Tyre of Jesup, Libby Cromer of Lawrenceville, Ruth Lachman Paul of Norcross and Jeannie Haynes of Suwanee. And meanwhile, we bet other guesses come in today! Thanks, Janet, for your good mystery stimulator!

  • For lots of images, type into Google: Location of Georgia Guidestones.

Brand Banking Company

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Brand Banking Company, headquartered in Lawrenceville, where it has three offices, with additional branches in Snellville, Grayson and Flowery Branch. It is the largest privately held bank in Gwinnett, with assets of $1.920,000,000. The bank's main office is in Lawrenceville on the Historic Courthouse Square, plus there is another branch on Hurricane Shoals Road. Other locations are in Grayson, Snellville, Flowery Branch, Buford, Duluth and Buckhead. Member, FDIC and Federal Reserve System.

Reader concerned about depletion of nation's water resources

Editor, the Forum:

I read an article on the internet about the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer in Texas and the crisis the farmers are facing there. The article was "America's Breadbasket is Running Out of Water," by Brian Brown. One can "Google " it if interested.

It brings to mind the water crisis we are facing in the U.S.

We in southeast Georgia are blessed by having the Ocala Aquifer running under our land, so I would venture a guess that we have nothing to worry about presently. But, how about the metropolitan area of Atlanta?

Unbridled growth in that area of the state is astounding, particularly your county of Gwinnett! We must remember that for each soul up there, you must have potable water.

Thinking about the battle for water from the Chattahoochee with Florida and Alabama around causes me some concern. What is the situation up there on this? And, what is being done by our legislators?

As the Reverend Billy Ray Collins on the John Boy and Billy Show says, "Y'all keep 'em straight up thar!"

-- David Earl Tyre, Jesup

Dear David: You raise some good points. Actually, Gwinnett is doing pretty well in returning water to both Lake Lanier and the river. We'll go into more detail in an upcoming edition, for not only people in South Georgia, but our Gwinnett readers need an update on the water situation around here. Thanks for reminding us of this important subject.-eeb

Rant, rave, send us a letter

An invitation: 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 Issue as space allows.

Farmers market to host food art show on July 11

The Lilburn Farmers Market will host Slow Food Atlanta's The Lexicon of Sustainability art show on Friday, July 11 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 1400 Killian Hill Road. This pop-up show educates, engages and activates people to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy, and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier safer food system in America. This is the only time this pop-up show is scheduled to be in Gwinnett County.

The Lexicon of Sustainability is based on a simple premise: people can't be expected to live more sustainable lives if they don't know the most basic terms and principles that define sustainability.

By illuminating the vocabulary of sustainable agriculture, the Lexicon of Sustainability educates, engages and activates people to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy, and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system in America.

Republicans pick Woodall to head House study committee


Seventh District Congressman Rob Woodall has been selected as incoming chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) of the U.S. House of Representatives. Following former Chairman Steve Scalise's elevation to serve as Majority Whip, the RSC has chosen Woodall to serve as chairman until the regular committee elections later this year. The committee's leadership will officially transition to Woodall on July 16. Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.

Photographers encouraged to submit images of water resources

During the hot months of summer, our minds are often not far from imaging time spent enjoying metro Atlanta's many picturesque rivers, lakes and streams including Lake Lanier, Allatoona Lake and the Chattahoochee, Flint, Yellow and Etowah Rivers.

The Metro North Georgia Water Planning District invites individuals to capture the beauty of our natural resources in photographs in an effort to remind residents of the important role these lakes and rivers also play in providing valuable water resources to the region's water supply. Submitted photographs will be considered for inclusion in the 2015 Water Reflections calendar.

Professional and amateur photographers 18 years of age or older are welcome to submit photographs for this contest. Photographic entries should portray the beauty, heritage, activities and character of metro-Atlanta's water resources.

First place will receive $500 and 11 finalists will receive $100 each. Individual participants may submit up to three photographs and are eligible to win up to three times. Photographs must be taken within the geographical boundaries of the 15-county Metro Water District area which includes the counties of Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale. The District does not encompass the cities of Braselton and Loganville.

Full contest guidelines and entry form are available on the Metro Water District's website, The submission deadline is August 8, 2014. For more information, contact the Metro Water District by telephone at 404-463-3344 or by email.

Lawrenceville resident joins dog gear distributor in Tucker

Hopper, a manufacturing and retail distribution company providing seriously cool dog gear for seriously cool dogs, announced today the addition of Rosemary Hopper of Lawrenceville to its leadership team. In her new position as product manager for, Hopper will oversee design and production for its line of Migrubbie fashions and accessories. Hopper also serves as associate professor of fashion design at Bauder College, a position she will retain along with her role at MisterMigs.

Karen Lynn, founder and president,, says: "As an artist, Rosemary brings a new level of creativity to MisterMigs's product line. Her educational and aesthetic background is an excellent fit with our goal of creating unique pet fashions and accessories that reflect the fashion trends of their owners."

Hopper joined Bauder College in 1992 as an instructor in fashion design, where she helped develop courses and deliver instruction in clothing construction, draping, specialty design and collection production. She has also produced the annual Bauder Black Tie Design Show and Portfolio Exposition for the past 12 years. Since joining Bauder, Hopper has been lauded for her success in raising the standards of finished garments produced at the college for design competitions and fashion shows.

Hopper graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a Bachelor of Science and is currently pursuing graduate studies in Fashion Design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Fahrenheit 451
By Ray Bradbury

This classic novel portrays the future that, in some ways, could be today. It's not a particularly fun read, but I can see why it's a classic. The story takes place in a dystopian society where life is based on empty pleasures and is devoid of real connections to other people. People focus on entertainment and shy away from the unpleasant aspects of life. Society is technology based and discourages the exchange of ideas. Owning books is illegal! Firemen don't put out fires: they start them! They burn books! The protagonist is a fireman who begins to see how dull and empty his life is when he gets to know a teenage neighbor who is thrilled by the ideas she finds in some illegal books. That's all I'll say here, but it gets better. I first read this book in high school and it made a lasting impression.

-- Susan McBrayer, Sugar Hill

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

Blue Ridge Mountains are Georgia's highest mountain range

The Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia make up the state's highest mountain range. The range of rugged ridges and rounded, weathered peaks varies in elevation from 1,600 to 4,700 feet and harbors spectacular mountain scenery, as well as some of the world's richest biological diversity. In addition, the range contains Georgia's wettest areas, with higher elevations getting more than eighty inches of rain annually on average.

The Blue Ridge, so named because its peaks and ridges often appear wrapped in a soft blue haze, consists of a nearly unbroken chain of mountains stretching from Virginia and North Carolina and extending nearly 100 miles into Georgia. It makes up the southernmost part of the Appalachian mountain chain, a vast complex of ranges that extends from north Georgia through New England.

Northwest Georgia consists of several smaller ranges-the Cohuttas, the Unakas, and the Cumberland Plateau.

They are separated from the Blue Ridge by geologic formations known as the Hightower-Jasper Ridges and the McCaysville Basin in north central Georgia, along a boundary roughly marked by Georgia Highway 5. The Blue Ridge's southern boundary is along the Brevard Fault, at an elevation of 1,700 feet, where the Piedmont province begins. The Blue Ridge occupies all or portions of 11 counties in Georgia: Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Pickens, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White.

The Blue Ridge Mountains' crest, for much of its length, forms the drainage dividing line known as the Eastern Continental Divide, which separates rivers flowing eastward into the Atlantic Ocean from those flowing westward to the Gulf of Mexico. For instance, Georgia's Chattahoochee River basin, whose waters flow into the gulf, rises near the borders of Union and Towns counties. The Etowah River, which also flows to the gulf, rises in Lumpkin County. The headwaters of the Savannah River, which flows to the Atlantic, are the Chattooga River, which rises in the Blue Ridge near the juncture of the Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina borders.

This might be kind of tough

This mystery photo may be more difficult than the last mystery, which we discussed above. All we will say is that since we are in Georgia, just think outside the box. Send your guess, name and hometown to:

Unusual beak

You have heard of people who were sensitive about the size of their nose? We hope this Toco Toucan that Frank Sharp of Lawrenceville shot at one of our favorite place, Iquacu Falls on the Paraguay, Argentine, Brazil border isn't sensitive. In fact, we think he should be proud. Frank says this is the largest of the Toucan breed and can be found in Northern South America in both forest and open woodland. Wow. Some beak.


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2014, 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.

Now Here Is Something That Is Truly Useless

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

-- American Management Guru Peter Drucker (1909 - 2005).



Meet the runoff candidates

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.)


  • (DNR) indicates a candidate did not respond to our interview request.

  • (NoQ) means the candidate visited with GwinnettForum, but did not send answers to six questions.

  • indicates a candidate has received GwinnettForum's endorsement.



Republicans (click on link for answers)

J.H. "Jack" Kingston
David A. Perdue


Republicans (click on link for answers)

Mike Collins
Jody Hice



Democrats (click on link to see answers)

Alisha Thomas Morgan (DNR)
Valarie D. Wilson

Republicans (click on link for answers)

Michael L. "Mike" Buck
Richard L. Woods



Republicans (click on link for answers)

Mike Beaudreau
P.K. Martin



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."

(NEW) Ribbon Cutting at Little Mulberry Park, Tuesday, July 15, beginning at 4:30 p.m., with activities lasting until 8 p.m. This will commemorate the opening of an 18 hole disc golf course in the wooded area, a 2,400 square foot open pavilion; new playground, new restroom facilities, 0.3 mile paved track connecting to the existing trail system, and a new 600 square foot wooden deck overlooking the lake. The park is located at 3900 Hog Mountain Road near Dacula.

(NEW) Summer Stage Concerts in Duluth begin on Saturday, July 19, featuring the Bicho Brothers at 8 p.m. on the Town Green. There will be two other events in the series, on August 16 and September 13.

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.


9/19: Gwinnett's special weekends
9/16: Four legacy candidates
9/12: Remembering Jim Cowart
9/9: DeKalb to offer Sunday voting
9/5: The 2014 elections
9/2: Police personnel raids

8/29: Little Free Library
8/26: Buford's Michael Brown
8/22: Oh, for Braves of past
8/19: Good idea about Olympics
8/15: Churchill and battlefronts
8/12: New Duluth manager
8/8: On corporate moves
8/5: Club recognizes bus drivers
8/1: On better candidates

7/29: Good week for Atlanta
7/25: Can GOP keep control?
7/22: Peachtree Corners update
7/18: On election runoffs
7/15: Gwinnett's water use
7/11: Georgia Guidestones
7/8: 40 years in Gwinnett
7/3: Primary runoff endorsements
7/1: About the shining sun

6/27: A busy Congress
6/20: Property mystery solved
6/17: Civil War, tanning, more
6/13: On cleaning your plate
6/10: Fairness cuts several ways
6/6: Obama's carbon emissions plan
6/3: "Community Through Diversity"


9/19: Hendrickson: Great Days of Service
9/16: Paul: Recent visit to Israel
9/12: Hassell: Land Trust
9/9: Varga: Peace Corps novel
9/5: Szabo: Solicitor's caseload
9/2: Foreman: Phone hacking

8/29: Waters: Consider liberalism
8/26: Swanson: On an internship
8/22: Stewart: Dog-tethering law
8/19: Sever: Road timing improves
8/15: Brill: Helmet sensors
8/12: Light: Cannon heads GTC
8/8: Fenton: Corporate Games
8/5: A. Brack: Summers to be hotter
8/1: Starnes: Enjoy writing

7/29: Lail: House fire, part 2
7/25: Lail: House fire, part 1
7/22: DeWilde: Suwanee's Cinderella
7/18: Zaken: Glance Gwinnett
7/15: Callina: Gift card scam
7/11: Cochran: Closed meetings
7/8: Lang: On health care act
7/3: Miller: Leukemia grants
7/1: Andrews: Sugar Hill's EpiCenter

6/27: Georgia Cup criterium
6/20: Gross: L'ville's 4th
6/17: Gardner: Senate bid
6/13: Adcock: Clinic openings
6/10: Wilson: GGC's top athletics
6/6: Waters: Leadership Gwinnett
6/3: Myers: GA-PMOC graduation


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 county offices
  • 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
  • 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
  • Requiring the legislature to meet once every two years.
  • Development of more community gardens.

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
Buy the book on Gwinnett's history


2001-2014, 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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