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: Someone sent us this photograph, saying that it was an earlier photograph of the Courthouse in Lawrenceville. But though it appears to be, what are these mysterious structures on the courthouse grounds. We hope some of our readers will come up with answers to these mysteries. We bet some will. Send us your guess. This is not today’s Mystery Photo, since it a far more important photograph of what appears to be early Gwinnett history.

Issue 14.32 | July 18, 2014

:: Leadership Gwinnett's shorter program

:: Can election pluralities be that bad?

On appraisals and house values

Festival on way, Andersonville

PCOM school accredited; GT students

:: Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

:: Mary Poppins

:: What this says about our society

:: More on former Gov. Northen

:: Where is this brick structure?


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


Be sure to vote in the runoff primaries this coming Tuesday

Come Tuesday, Georgia will decide several primary runoff elections. Our admonition to voters is to go vote, so that you can help decide who to nominate for the General Election in November.

Previously, GwinnettForum has endorsed candidates for the run-off. Here in a nutshell Here are its suggestions of candidates to be nominated:

Republican ballot:
For U.S. Senate: David A. Perdue
For 10th District U.S. Congress: Mike Collins
For State School Superintendent: Mike Buck
For Senate, District 9: P.K. Martin

Democratic ballot:
For State School Superintendent: Valarie D. Wilson

Let us also suggest to voters that they get re-acquainted with the views of these candidates by checking the 2014 Primary Candidate Profiles on the right side of this front page of GwinnettForum. There is also a place to look for a sample of the ballot you will face when you vote.

Your vote Tuesday will carry more weight than normal, since fewer people vote in runoffs. Now, do your duty, and vote.

Glance Gwinnett program to offer 3-day leadership sessions
Leadership Gwinnett
Special for GwinnettForum
| permalink

DULUTH, Ga., July 18, 2014 -- A second program is to start this fall out of the successful Leadership Gwinnett program. Aimed at completing the program in one weekend, “Glance Gwinnett” will provide a glimpse into the full-year Leadership Gwinnett program, while realizing that some potential leaders cannot commit to a year of activities.

Established in 1985, the original Leadership Gwinnett has been the premier resource for developing community leaders in Gwinnett and the surrounding region. Nearly 1,000 influential leaders have graduated over the past 30 years and they are found in every corner of Gwinnett, volunteering their time, talent and treasure to local causes. The flagship Leadership Gwinnett program is a nine-month commitment that trains 40 leaders each year.  

Recognizing that not everyone can commit to that time or resource requirement, this newly created short “Glance Gwinnett” is launching this fall.   Glance, an acronym for Gwinnett Leaders Acknowledging the Need for Community Engagement, will provide a glimpse into the Leadership Gwinnett program, the greater Gwinnett community and will offer a sense of how to put leadership into action. The initial class will consist of 45 people.
“Glance Gwinnett” will be fast paced, busy and full of facts---not unlike a big field trip! Participants look behind the scenes in Gwinnett and will explore various aspects of the history, culture, business and economy, arts, government, educational system and social services. The program is designed to develop leaders that ultimately create a legacy of success by applying their talents to drive positive change for the overall community.
Who should apply? Anyone with enthusiasm to learn more about Gwinnett and take a more active role as a citizen. Participants range from newcomers to long-time residents. Classes are typically comprised of a diverse group of leaders including young professionals, managers, business owners, nonprofit directors, senior business executives and retirees.
The inaugural class of Glance Gwinnett is forming now for November 13-15, 2014. Additional sessions are planned for February 19-21 and March 26-28, 2015.

The registration fee is $600 which includes transportation, meals and program materials. Class times are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday. 

  • View additional details and register online at

  • For more information, contact Brooke Waters, Glance Gwinnett Program Coordinator, 678-957-4944.

    About Leadership Gwinnett: Created in 1985, Leadership Gwinnett is the region’s leading leadership development and civic engagement organization. The organization strives to cross economic and social boundaries to inspire individuals to serve as catalysts for a stronger community. The flagship nine month program has educated and equipped 998 graduates who are challenged to apply their talents by joining professional associations, civic clubs, public boards and commissions or serve the community in an elected office.

Some states elect officials without a runoff by plurality voting

Editor and publisher |

JULY 18, 2014 -- Just what system is best for electing public officials.


Many give a short answer: “When some candidate gets 50 per cent (plus one) of the vote.” That’s called a majority election, which sometimes can require an additional run-off election when no candidate gets the required 50 per cent (plus one more vote) in the first round of voting.

There are two problems about run-offs. First, they are an additional election cost, for you must have them if there is only one race to be decided in that election cycle.

But there is another rather compelling reason to eliminate run-off elections: because of the poor turn-out of voters in such an election. Often candidates are “elected” when in effect they get only a handful of voters, compared to the number registered, to return to the polls to give one of the candidates a victory.

Let’s look at numbers. In the May 20 Georgia primary, there were 5.04 million Georgians registered to vote, but sadly, only 19.58 percent actually went to the polls.

Consider this: if as much as 20 percent of those who voted in the initial primary return to the polls Tuesday, that’s 197,523 people. But there are two primaries: a Republican and Democratic one. So if there were 150,000 Republican votes (as an example) returning to the polls, the winner could be decided by 75,001 persons, which is 1.49 percent of those registered.

Man alive is that low!

Is this good for Georgia? Is a majority election the best way to determine Georgia’s nominees for the General Election? Or even perhaps determine a General Election winner if there are three candidates running?

Some states do not even have primaries, but just allow anyone who wants to run in a single election, with a plurality deciding the race.

Most states requiring runoff elections are the states where one party has been in control for years. That was Democrats in Georgia for years, though the state has flip-flopped and now the Republicans, are in complete control.

Let’s look at some recent voting for governor in other states:

There were several other plurality winners in these years. But you get the idea: some states allow plurality voting, and the person who takes largest number of votes wins … without a runoff.

Of all gubernatorial general elections over 62 years -- from 1948 to 2009 -- a total of 918 races, the winner got an outright majority of all votes cast in 90.4 percent of the time. But 7.2 percent were decided from 45 percent to 49.9 percent of votes cast; 1.1 percent was decided in the 40 percent to 44.9 percent range; and 1.3 percent was won by candidates with between 35 percent to 39.99 percent of votes cast. (Source: The Center for Voting and Democracy.)

One of the key national Republican candidates, Chris Christie of New Jersey, won his governor’s race in 2009 with 48.8 percent of the vote.

So majority election are generally the way winners are determined, but indeed, are not always the rule in many states.

The question before Georgia: does this state get a better slate of elected officials by spending great sums of tax money by requiring a majority election? Said another way, charged off against so few people voting, would Georgia see a better “will of the people” by electing someone with 40 or 45 percent of the vote, rather than winning with 5 percent of the vote?

Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today’s sponsor is the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. From answering your questions and providing a host of useful information, to promoting growth in our county, there are people working every day to help make Gwinnett a place where businesses thrive and success lives.

Concerned about appraisal of home in view of tax situation

Editor, the Forum:

I could never sell my home for the county appraisal.  Now a county tax hike!  

Why is this happening?  The county has to share too much with the new and largest city, Peachtree Corners, and has been forced to share as prescribed with the older cities.  So, Peachtree Corners can forgo any taxes and let the county take the hits.  The resident must be putting two and two together by now.  County taxes will continue to rise and services once covered by the county will be pushed to the city governments wherever possible?  What's it costing you?

Wonder what the whole area of Peachtree Corners beyond the UPCCA crowd thinks of the move now?

-- Byron Gilbert, Peachtree Corners

Dear Byron: Some would point out there is not a hike in millage, but only the uptick in your house’s value, according to appraisers. It hits those residents who do not intend to sell their houses, while it benefits those who want to sell their property. (Higher appraisal, perhaps higher sales price). We think the commissioners are prudent in their vote to keep the same tax millage in view of the tremendous cuts to services the county has experienced in the last seven years. But you raise interesting points about your newly-won city. --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.

Annual Trains, Trucks and Tractor Festival set for Aug. 2-3

Looking for something unique to do? Something the whole family will enjoy? Then you want to be at Trains, Trucks and Tractors at the Southeastern Railway Museum on August 2 and 3. This annual festival celebrates the workhorses of transportation past, present and future, in a fair-like atmosphere sure to delight enthusiasts of all ages.
Museum Administrator Randy Pirkle observes: “Trains, Trucks & Tractors has something for everyone. In addition to our permanent exhibits, there are antique tractors and trucks, cutting edge hybrids, and this year even an ice cream truck. It’s a chance to see and explore, even climb into the driver’s seat of all these different kinds of vehicles. There isn’t anywhere else that combines hands-on discovery with such a wide range of vehicles.”
The weekend festival includes many exhibits available only during the event, including a mix of modern and antique tractors, trucks ranging from antiques to the current-generation UPS hybrids, and of course the Museum’s signature collection of dozens of historic locomotives and railroad cars.
Family- and kid-centered fun will include temporary caboose tattoos, hayrides, and food, including ice cream. A craft corner will provide kids the chance to create a souvenir to take home.

And of course, visitors will also have the opportunity to ride the in an antique caboose or passenger car behind an historic locomotive, or take a turn in the beautifully restored vintage park train that has become a visitor favorite since its introduction in  2012.
If you visit, make sure you wear comfortable shoes; the nature of the exhibits means there’s a lot of walking. The Museum recommends that visitors avoid high heels, and suggests that closed-toe shoes are more practical than sandals.

Trains, Trucks & Tractors will run Saturday, August 2 and Sunday, August 3, from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission to the Southeastern Railway Museum is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors (65+), and $5 for children ages 2-12; younger children enter for free. Caboose rides cost an additional $3 per person. Rides on the  restored park train are $2 per person. The Museum is located at 3595 Buford Highway, just north of Pleasant Hill Road and south of downtown Duluth

Andersonville Historic Site to offer special program Aug. 2

The month of August in 1864 marked the dramatic climax of the notorious military prison at Andersonville, Ga.  When Pvt. Francis Hosmer arrived that month he remembered, “We stood in the midst of a tangled mat of humanity, of thirty thousand men or more, apparently, all strangers to each other, and to us…each apparently struggling against the adverse fate they were powerless to avert, and all praying that powerful entity, the United States government to come to their relief.”  

The prison population reached an all-time high of over 32,000 prisoners, and the scorching heat of the summer only compounded the disastrous conditions, claiming almost 100 lives a day.  Relief came in only two ways that month; a storm that washed over the prison site and revealed a spring that prisoners called “providential” and rumors of liberation under General Sherman approach gave hope to the desperate men.  While the spring water aided the prisoners, freedom was not so easily gained.      

Join park staff and volunteers of the Andersonville National Historic Site, 10 miles south of Oglethorpe, Ga., for special programs on the First Saturday of August (Saturday, August 2, 2014), to learn more about the worst month at Andersonville Prison. There is no admission fee and all programs are open to the public.

  • For more information on the park, call 229 924-0343, or visit at

Suwanee's PCOM Pharmacy School gets accreditation

On June 26, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education acted to re-affirm the accreditation status for Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and the Georgia campus of PCOM. Middle States examines each of its member institutions on a 10-year cycle in order to promote educational excellence and ensure compliance with its outlined standards of quality.

In addition, on July 2 the PCOM School of Pharmacy has advanced from candidate accredited status to accredited status by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), which sets standards for the education of pharmacists to prepare them for the delivery of pharmacist-provided patient care. Officially, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy's Doctor of Pharmacy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education of Chicago, Ill.

This achievement caps an effort that began in 2008 to launch the new PharmD program on the Suwanee campus and obtain full accreditation.

Bryan Ginn, Georgia-PCOM Chief Campus Officer, says: “Accreditation is the lifeblood of a college,” said. “Our success in multiple accreditation processes is a testament to the quality of the PCOM faculty and staff, and ultimately to the education our students receive across all academic programs.”

Gwinnett Tech's Medical Assisting Program earns 100% pass rate
The most recent graduates of Gwinnett Technical College’s Medical Assisting program have recorded a 100 percent pass rate on the CMA national certification exam. The CMA credential designates a medical assistant who has achieved certification through the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
Jessica Ennis, program director, says: “Our program has a strong history of 100 percent pass rates and we’re extremely proud that this group of graduates extended that tradition through their hard work and preparation. We also had a student earn a rare perfect score on the exam – and that’s a first at Gwinnett Tech as far as we can confirm.”
Gwinnett Tech Medical Assisting graduates typically score in the top 2 to 5 percent of the nation on the CMA exam. Fifteen GTC grads took the exam this semester.

Mary Poppins
At Aurora Theatre

If for no other reason, go to the current presentation of Mary Poppins at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville to see the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” scene. It’s a joy, with 28 people stomping happily around the stage in bouncy, raucous, continuous movement in an array of colorful character costumes. It’s a showstopper! From this, you eventually see how to spell the big word itself! Following this scene is another terrific offering of finding ghouls from a nightmare spilling all over the stage. Kicking off this 19th Aurora season with this production tops its earlier well-received and award-winning Les Miserables production of last year. The Aurora has notched up its offerings with another dazzling, spectacular performance. Mary Poppins may well top the attendance records, so move quickly to get tickets, and make sure to include your kids!

-- eeb

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

Gov. Northen works hard for progressive legislation

(Continued from previous edition)

Between 1887 and 1890, William Northen served as president of the prestigious State Agricultural Society (SAS). That position propelled him to the forefront of the race to replace John B. Gordon as governor in 1890. After competing with Leonidas F. Livingston, president of the Georgia Farmers' Alliance, Northen emerged as the only candidate, and his successful campaign was managed by William Y. Atkinson.

As governor, Northen pursued progressive legislation by advocating prohibition, railroad reforms, an improved educational system, and reforms in the prison system. He also pushed hard for the passage of anti-lynching legislation, but it was never achieved. Despite opposition from the influential publisher Thomas E. Watson, who supported the Populist Party's candidate, William Peek, Northen won a second term in 1892.

During his tenure as governor, Northen also rose to prominence as a leading Baptist. He had joined the church in 1853 and remained a devout Southern Baptist for the rest of his life, holding leadership positions in nearly every church that he joined. He also served as vice president of both the Southern Baptist and Georgia Baptist conventions during his gubernatorial career, as well as president of the SBC's Home Mission board. In the late 1890s, he was called to the presidency of both the Georgia Baptist and Southern Baptist conventions.

Though out of formal politics by 1894, Northen kept himself in public affairs until the early 1910s. In the years surrounding the turn of the century, he traveled the country delivering speeches on the South's status with regard to the economy, racial problems, and the church's role in society. After the Atlanta race riot of 1906, Northen toured the state under the auspices of the Business Men's Gospel Union, a biracial coalition of influential Christian laymen and clergy, in an effort to establish a network of anti-lynching leagues that might avert such future disasters as the riot.

Northen also contributed to the history of Georgia by compiling a seven-volume collection of biographical essays, published between 1907 and 1912 as Men of Mark in Georgia. In 1911 he replaced Allen D. Candler as the compiler of state records and contributed to the ongoing publication of the Colonial Records of Georgia series.

Although Northen continued to involve himself in public life, however, his fatigue was becoming evident. Radical racism was gaining strength as his efforts to foster cooperation between the races stalled. Soon after his appearance in 1911 at the Men and Religion Forward Movement convention in New York, Northen retired from public life with "his skirts clear," believing that he had done his duty for God and for Georgia. He died two years later at the age of 77 and was buried in Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery.

What in the world is this?

Where’s this? What’s this? Figure it out and send your guess of this edition’s Mystery Photo to, along with your hometown. It may be more utilitarian than you think!

Several people spotted the Old North Bridge in Massachusetts as the mystery photo of last week. It was sent in by Karen Garner of Dacula. First in was Denise Auger of Duluth: “I believe it is from my home state of Massachusetts. This was a terrific place to grow up because we could be easily bussed to historical treasures such as Boston, Salem, and the North Bridge  in Minute Man National Historical Park.” Others recognizing the site were Ross Lenhart, Pawley’s Island, S.C.; Mark Barlow, Peachtree Corners; Channing Haskell of Peachtree Corners; and Harriet Nichols, Trickum, who said: “Old North Bridge, which crosses the Concord River outside Boston, where the opening battle of the American Revolution War was fought between militiamen and British regulars on April 19, 1775. It’s another one of those places that I visited 50+ years ago.”


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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.

Consider what this says about our society

“What can you say about a society that says that God is dead and Elvis is alive?”

-- Gossip columnist from Chicago Irv Kupcinet  (1912-2003).



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 July 22 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



Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest at Lilburn Farmers Market Friday, July 18, from 4 to 8 p.m. Kids and those of all ages are welcome to try to top the record of 20 feet for kids and 37.5 feet for adults, set last year. The Lilburn Farmers Market is a co-sponsored event with Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church located at 1400 Killian Hill Road, Lilburn.

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.


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"

5/30: GGC's Ginger
5/27: Remembering Jesse Long
5/23: Primary election recap
5/20: Trip out West
5/16: Get out and vote
5/13: Our top 5 denominations
5/9: Political winds shifting?
5/6: Not even once on meth
5/2: Bottleneck relief, more

4/29: Sparring with 56 candidates
4/25: Primary endorsements
4/22: Franken takes on cable
4/18: Two new restaurants
4/15: Two missionaries
4/11: Five great local schools
4/8: Endorsements coming soon
4/4: A look at state politics
4/1: Forum's 14th year starts

3/28: Better recruiting needed
3/25: Why meet so much?
3/21: Be careful of wishes
3/18: GGC's Buildings A - D
3/14: What if legislature met less?
3/11: When Brits fired on French Navy
3/7: Sutts to get Aurora award
3/4: Tests not best predictor


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

5/30: Tran: Berkmar grad's story
5/27: Bowen: Political webinar
5/23: Ramey: New GGC president
5/20: Wilson: Wealth inequality
5/16: A. Brack: Atlantan's play
5/13: Stilo: Aurora's camps
5/9: Leiba: Barefoot in the Park
5/6: LaBarbera: Report from India
5/2: Wilkerson: Chamber winners

4/29: Toppins: Forest trash
4/22: Putnam: P'tree Crnrs CBD
4/18: Dahlgren: Internet radio
4/15: Stilo: Aurora's 19th season
4/11: Jones: Jackson EMC's 75th
4/8: Nichols: Hudgens Prize winner
4/4: Fenton: Kiss-A-Pig coming
4/1: Eberle: The White Castle

3/28: Wilkerson: Valor Awards
3/25: Callina: Scholarship scams
3/21: Mays: Water for Ghana
3/18: Fitch: Linen Closet collaboration
3/14: James: United Way to honor 4
3/11: Erdy: Simpsonwood property
3/7: Wiggins: Cleaning up Gwinnett
3/4: Fenton: Annandale at top


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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