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BEARING UP: When you're six going on seven, how do you make a difference in the world? Taylor Shepard of Peachtree Corners has a plan! She's decided to skip the presents that guests would normally bring to her Saturday birthday and, instead, ask them to donate new teddy bears for the Red Cross. The bears will go to children who have lost their own toys in local home fires. On a recent visit to Red Cross headquarters, Taylor was excited to hear how the Red Cross has provided many a stuffed animal to disaster-stricken children, along with food, clothing, shelter and other essentials for their families. Red Cross officials told Taylor how happy children are to have something of their own to hug after a disaster, and encouraged her to keep working toward her goal of collecting 700 bears by her seventh birthday. More info.

Issue 14.34 | July 25, 2014

:: Lightning destroys Duluth home

:: Looking forward to November voting

Send us your letters, thoughts

GMC to have residency program, more

Couple dishes out ice cream

:: Precision Planning, Inc.

:: Tip for dealing with deer in gardens

:: Churchill and voters

:: Vet tech program at Fort Valley State

:: Recognize this person?

:: Lifeguards win state title again


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.

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Lightning bolt strikes nearby causing fire inside Duluth home
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DULUTH, Ga., July 25, 2014 -- Three years ago, my wife, Kristi, and I began planning a remodel of our 1956 brick ranch home in town. In February 2013, we moved out and construction began. We were out for eight months while our home was almost completely gutted, then re-done. We finally moved back in on Labor Day weekend 2013.


Fast-forward 10 months to July 9 at 11:15 p.m. As I was getting ready to watch the weather and go to bed, I spilled a cup of orange juice. It covered the nightstand and made a large spot on the new carpet. As I sopped and scrubbed, I was mad at myself for such a clumsy act and the possibility that I stained our new carpet. Little did I know, a mere 45 minutes later, spilled orange juice would be the least of my worries.

My 10-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son both had friends spending the night and my 1-year-old daughter was asleep in the nursery. A little after midnight, a deafening bolt of lightning struck. We immediately jumped out of bed to the screams of three little girls. My wife woke the baby and we all ran outside to see what happened. We immediately noticed flames in the trees and on the power lines leading to the house and large flames emitting from the gas meter by the road, about 100 yards away. The power line was struck and began arcing, setting off three large explosions before the transformer was finally blown off the power pole. As I called 911, my 14-year-old son ran back outside saying there was smoke in the house.

The fire department arrived in a matter of minutes. The firefighters were not able to drive their trucks up to our house since live power lines had fallen along the driveway. However, two firemen entered the smoke-filled house and soon located the source of the fire in the mechanical room in the basement. They began tearing out walls while another fireman used our garden hose outside to begin extinguishing the flames.

The firemen knew what they were doing with regard to the fire, but they also knew how to take care of my family. They were great! My wife and I stood in the front yard knowing we had waited so long for our dream house, and now it was possibly going up in flames. The firemen kept us updated throughout the night.

The fire was soon put out. The rapid response of the Gwinnett County Fire Department kept the fire localized and prevented it from spreading to other areas of the home. It only damaged the mechanical room, hallway, and upstairs into the master bedroom closet.

As my 10-year-old daughter stood crying asking when we could move back in, my lack of knowledge led me to respond: "Oh, I'm sure we'll be back in within a week or two." Little did we know the education that we were all about to receive regarding fires and smoke damage.

(To be continued in next edition)

Can the GOP maintain control of the state in 2014 election?

Editor and publisher |

JULY 25, 2014 -- Now that Georgia's 2014 runoff primary is over, people are asking: "What do you think about the general election? Are the Democrats for real?" Or "Will the Republicans continue to dominate the state?"


So, for the next 15 weeks, until Wednesday after the General Election, November 5, people will be asking those questions. Finally, on that day, barring a spoiler by the Libertarians, we'll know.

So, after the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2002, will Georgia turn around and vote for a new array of what-some-call attractive Democrats in 2014? Can Michelle Nunn upset the teacart and beat David Perdue for the Senate seat? Will Jason Carter be able to take advantage of the many stigmas on Nathan Deal's record and return the governorship to the Democrats?

We doubt both. Somehow, even though more people are registered to vote than ever, and though many new registrants are thought to be more Democratic than Republican, we can't see any statewide Democrat sneaking up on the GOP in the 2014 General Election. Even though some polls put Jason Carter several points ahead of Governor Deal, that comes several months before the actual balloting. And though a poll may find Michelle Nunn dong better or within striking distance of Mr. Perdue, we can't see Georgia flipping to the Democrats in 2014. Maybe by 2018, but in 2014? We doubt it.

Thinking locally, no one saw the 1984 turn-around in Gwinnett County when the Republicans won every office where they had candidates (17 out of 17 offices.) And when there is a surprise turnaround, even the experts seldom see it coming. So, it could happen. But we don't think 2014 will be the year.

Of course, even if the Democrats get their act really together in 2014, and many statewide candidates win office, that immediately causes another problem-governing with another party controlling the Legislature. For we see no flip-flop in the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives.

Still, it would be good for the state to have a governor from one party, and a Legislature from another. We suspect that Georgians will always get better government when we have elected officials sharing the offices, instead of being completely dominated by either of the parties. That's why one of GwinnettForum's Continuing Objectives (see column at bottom right) is "Democratic candidates for local offices" in Gwinnett. If the Democrats were holding most offices in the county, we would have as an Objective the very opposite: "Republican candidates for local offices." Complete political control by any party is never good for the people.

* * * *

Well, "non-voters," you did it. I'm talking about that 90 percent of Georgians who did not vote: you allowed some extremes from both sides to dominate the election. With a low turnout, roughly 10 percent on Tuesday, an extreme faction of the party can dominate the returns. Candidates won nomination by polling only about five percent of those registered. That's horrible!

You see, the wing-nuts on both sides always come out, and in a low turnout, dominate the electorate, meaning that the rank-and-file (who didn't vote) are not heard from. That translates into the moderates (the majority) of either party virtually giving up their influence by not offsetting the extremes. We'll be talking more about that in coming issues.

Mainly for now, we wait to see what direction Georgia will take: a continuation along the GOP Road, or allowing the Democrats to get a toehold. No matter how attractive some Democrats may seem, we don't see the GOP losing much of the state in 2014.

* * * * *

Local comment: P.K. Martin's victory in the Ninth Senate race was fascinating. In the May 20 primary, a total of 14,515 people voted, with three people running. But in the runoff, a whopping (for a runoff) 14,939 voted, even more people! Martin came from finishing second with 4,810 to Mike Beaudreau's 5,548 in the primary… to run past Beaudreau and get 7,915 in the runoff! Martin gained 3,105 votes while Beaudreau got half that -- 1,476 more. There was heavy politicking on both sides. We congratulate both for working so hard!

Precision Planning, Inc.

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  • For more information, visit our website at or call 770-338-8103.

  • For a list of other sponsors of this forum, go here.

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.

Medical Center anticipates developing residency program

Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC) has announced the hiring of Kimberly Carter Bates, MD, as director of the internal medicine residency for the Graduate Medical Education Program.


Dr. Bates will be responsible for developing a residency program that allows medical school graduates to further their knowledge and skills to become board certified internal medicine physicians.

Along with Mark Darrow, MD, director of GMC's Graduate Medical Education Program, Dr. Bates will guide residents through the extensive curriculum of general internal medicine, highlighting the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of adult diseases. Resident program highlights include:

  • A significant focus on outpatient training,
  • An emphasis on quality outcomes, and
  • Resident participation in community-based chronic disease workshops for patients.

According to Phil Wolfe, GMC's president and CEO, the significant hospital expansion over the past five years allows GMC to provide a depth of exposure and a one-on-one experience for a robust education program.

Dr. Darrow says: "Dr. Bates is extremely skilled in managing patients' complex healthcare needs. We will provide students with a solid medical education foundation to practice internal medicine in a hospital or outpatient setting."

The program goal is to develop internal medicine physicians who can care for people challenged by complex health problems despite living longer lives. Residents will also understand the dynamic between how a high-level primary care physician and high-level specialists can work together to provide high-level patient care. The exposure to a range of healthcare issues based on the diverse patient population in Gwinnett County will add depth to the program.

Most recently, Dr. Bates held staff physician positions at the Ohio State University in internal medicine and in pediatrics. She also served as director of FACES HIV Program at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the co-director of Med 4 Chronic Care Curriculum at The Ohio State University's College of Medicine. She is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.

The first internal medicine residents will begin the summer 2015. Interested medical students will be able to apply for positions this fall. The internal medicine residency program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and is pursuing dual accreditation with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

Had to happen: Gwinnett Tech will offer social media degree

It had to happen, as demand grew. Gwinnett Technical College will now offer a degree and diploma in social media, providing students the skills and techniques to harness the power of social media.

The social media option is offered as a concentration within Gwinnett Tech's Marketing Management program and is available for Fall Semester 2014, which begins August 20. The application deadline for fall is just around the corner, on July 31; late registration is August 5 - 13. Visit

In addition to courses specific to social media, students will study marketing, consumer behavior, professional selling and business regulations, among other topics.

O'Briens' now dishing out ice cream with Irish flair

Many businesses in the Metro Atlanta area know entrepreneurs, Lori and Frank O'Brien, as the owners of Atlanta Special Events, a full service award winning corporate event company. Many know Lori as a vocalist and performer. But now it is Frank O'Brien's turn to be in the spotlight. Frank, otherwise known as "DaddyO" to his kids, has a new found passion and talent for making homemade ice cream.

DaddyO's Irish Ice Cream Pub, as he calls it, features many recipes that have an Irish flair to them. Some come straight from Dingle, Ireland, others from family recipes like his grandmother Re's Rice Pudding. But primarily the Irish flair appears in his Alcohol flavored Ice Creams such as his Guinness McGinnis, O'Bailey's, Irish Coffee, and O'Bailey's Irish Pistachio.

Lori and Frank O'Brien

Frank and Lori O'Brien use local farmers for their ingredients, whenever possible. Their cream comes from a Georgia dairy; they buy Georgia peaches and blueberries in making Georgia Peach cobbler, Peaches 'n Cream, Blueberries 'n Cream and Blueberry Wine sorbet. DaddyO's is also a member of "Georgia Grown." of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

O'Brien has been pumping out his homemade Ice Cream for about four months now.
Compliments are pouring in. One person said after tasting his berry wine sorbet: "The berry wine sorbet is so ridiculously good I can't properly articulate in English how good it is! You guys are amazing!"

DaddyO's even had to rename their Triple Chocolate to "Chocolate OMG" because every person said the same three words after taking their first bite... "Oh My G..!"

People ask: "Where is your storefront?" The answer: "We haven't found the perfect location yet." So one can find DaddyO's Irish Ice Cream Pub at Duluth Food Truck Friday's, Dunwoody Food Truck Thursdays and occasionally at the Duluth Farmers Market. The O'Briens will serve their ice creams at Suwanee Days on September 20-21 and the Bluegrass Festival in Lawrenceville on September13.

Corporations are booking DaddyO's Ice Cream at their company picnics and employee/customer appreciation days. Assurant, Home Depot, Republic Services, Pirelli Tire and many other companies have enjoyed DaddyO's Ice Cream at their events. They are a great addition to holiday parties and weddings as well. Their website is

Upgrades coming to Crooked Creek water facility

More upgrades are in store for the Crooked Creek Water Reclamation Facility at 6557 Plant Drive in Peachtree Corners after Gwinnett commissioners have signed off on an $8.86 million contract for engineering design and construction support.

The 71-month contract covers project management, preliminary engineering, detailed design and construction administration. CH2M Hill Engineers Inc. was selected as the highest-scoring of four short-listed bidders. Systems involved include chemical addition, activated sludge treatment, secondary clarifiers, disinfection, post aeration, solids handling and electrical systems. Work will begin this fall and end when construction is finished in 2020.

Previous projects over the past five years included a new influent pump station, headworks building, operations center, maintenance facility, diffused air conversion and filter rehabilitation.

The 20-year-old plant treats up to 16 million gallons of wastewater per day. Water Resources Director Ron Seibenhener says: "These modifications will ensure cost effective operations that meet or exceed all permit requirements. It will be a facility that will continue to serve the needs of Gwinnett residents and our downstream neighbors for decades to come."

Deer control

One animal that frequently troubles homeowners are deer that like to feast on their garden plants. Deer prefer to feed on some plant materials more than others. Hosta lilies, daylilies, candytuft, and hibiscus are among their favorites.

If deer are a problem in your area, avoid these plants . Select plants deer keep away from, such as butterfly bushes, barberry, Carolina jessamine, marigolds and zinnias. Several brands of deer repellents have an offensive odor that deters them. Hinder Deer Repellent has an ammonia smell and is labeled to be used on edible plants. Deer-Away is an egg based repellent that smells and taste like rotten eggs. Milorganite is an organic fertilizer containing composted sewage sludge that has been shown to deter deer. These repellents are only effective for a limited period of time and periodically must be repeatedly applied, especially after rainfall.

-- Timothy Daly, Gwinnett County Extension Agent

  • 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

Fort Vally State offers programs for veterinary technicians

As the demand for veterinary technicians exceeds the supply, Fort Valley State University's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences, and Technology is helping to meet that need through its Department of Veterinary Science. Fort Valley State University prepares students for careers in veterinary medical practices, research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and other animal-oriented enterprises.

This department, established in 1976, is one of three veterinary technician programs in Georgia, and the only institution in Georgia to offer both the two-year and four-year degrees in veterinary technology. Of the 98 veterinary technology programs in the United States, Fort Valley State's is one of only 15 offering a four-year degree in veterinary technology.

In 1983 the two-year Associate of Applied Science degree program received full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association. In 1986 a Bachelor of Science degree in Veterinary Science was first available, and the program received full accreditation in 2001.

In 1987 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began providing support for the Department of Veterinary Science through the Strengthening Veterinary Technician Programs initiative. The USDA continues its financial support and also offers students opportunities for summer employment and permanent employment after graduation. At the start of the 21st century, departmental graduates had a record of 100 percent employment within the field. Students who plan to go to veterinary school can fulfill their pre-veterinary curriculum requirements in the Fort Valley State University program while completing the four-year degree.

In the summer of 2002 the department completed a molecular biology laboratory, where older technology is combined with newer state-of-the-art equipment to give students the opportunity to extract and purify DNA, RNA, and proteins from animal tissues and to culture cells from primary animal-tissue sources. The department trains future veterinary technicians for careers in the growing aquaculture industry. Students raise marine shrimp indoors to learn about the requirements of aquatic animals and how to care for them. Students also learn about the transmission, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases. This knowledge enables them to assist veterinarians who commercially treat aquatic animals. The department also raises Japanese quail to be used for research and teaching purposes. It continues to maintain animal colonies that include horses, cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, reptiles, birds and lab animals.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents and the governor's office approved $3 million for use in expanding the O'Neal Veterinary Technology Building. The new facility includes 17,000 square feet of space under one roof and makes the building one of the nation's most modern training facilities for veterinary technicians.

Who's this?

Do you recognize a person in today's Mystery Photo. If so, tell us who this is and where the photograph was taken. Send with your name and hometown to

Those steel pipes in the last Mystery Photo are right here in Gwinnett County, at Jones Bridge Park. They are part of the support columns for what was once part of a bridge. You may remember that thieves dismantled the bridge for scrap in 1945, after the bridge had been closed for several years. (The bridge-dismantlers were never caught.) Rich Hammond of Duluth was first to tell us:

"Those are the support columns from Jones Bridge on the Chattahoochee River. I've drowned a few worms while standing on those pipes!" Another fisherman who recognized the location was Jeff Allen of Norcross, saying: "They are part of the remains of Jones Bridge taken at Jones Bridge Park."

James D'Angelo of Lawreneville gave us more detail about the pipe, though he did not locate the site: "These are riveted steel pipe appearing to be between 1' and perhaps 20" in diameter. Riveted pipe was not made until after the 1850's when the Bessemer process for making steel made large diameter pipe by cold forming of plate for rolling possible. I have seen riveted pipes like these on mining sites out west dating to the 1870's. The ability to weld pipe was fully developed by the 1920's, but riveted pipe is was still manufactured, I believe, through the 1940's."

State champs

For the third year in a row, Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation (GCPR) took first place at the annual Georgia Recreation and Park Association State Lifeguarding Competition held on July 21 in Greene County. Six lifeguards from various GCPR aquatic centers earned spots on the team after proving their lifeguard skills and abilities during the tryouts. There were 13 teams from across the state competing for the title. Overall, the team acquired 45 points to secure a first place victory while the second place team had 18 points. Members of the team include on the front row from left, Virginia Brinkley, Brad Miller and Alex Yang. On the back row are Christine Greenfield, Christina Wang, Stephen Brinkley, Victor Barr and Jason Cutchins. The team is supervised and coached by Aquatics Coordinator Christine Greenfield and Aquatics Supervisor Jason Cutchins.


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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.

What Churchill Learned in Five Minutes from the Average Voter

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

-- Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965).




(NEW) Informal Discussion with members of Duluth City Council, Monday, August 4, at 6:30 p.m. at Point Berkeley International Village, 3645 North Berkeley Lake Road. The program calls for an informal chat with Council members about Development and Redevelopment in the Duluth area.

(NEW) Housing Forum, Monday, August 4 starting at 6 p.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville. Hosted by the Northeast Atlanta Metro Association of Realtors, there will be a panel of experts to discuss the programs and options available to eligible low, moderate, and middle income homebuyers. For more information about the Housing Forum, contact Tim Hur at 404-954-2322.


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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