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AH-OOOO-GAA: The first of five new sirens is being installed in Duluth to warn residents of harsh weather. The first siren was installed at the Southeastern Railroad Museum in Duluth on July 28. Mobile Communications of Gwinnett installed this siren to replace an outdated version. The firm won the bid to replace the old. Other new sirens will be installed in the next few weeks.

Issue 14.36 | Aug. 1, 2014

:: Author advises writers to have fun

:: Seeking better crop of politicians

Two letters about politics

Sugar Hill's anniversary, 4 more

Dunwoody book, tax bills coming

:: Hayes Family Dealerships

:: On mowing the lawn

:: On seeing things

:: On golden age of Georgia art

:: Only one person new dune mystery

:: Traditional view of Atlanta, with sign


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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Buy the book on Gwinnett's history


Author says on writing: "Don't wait and enjoy the ride"
Special for GwinnettForum
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(Editor's Note: Author Joe Samuel "Sam" Starnes will host a free workshop and book discussion at the Suwanee branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library on Thursday, August 14, at 6:30 p.m. His first novel, Calling, was recently re-released as an eBook, and his second novel, Fall Line, was selected to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's "Best of the South" list.---eeb)

HADDON TOWNSHIP, N.J., Aug. 1, 2014 -- At a writer's conference in Baltimore more than a decade ago, I heard a scowling poet describe his writing process. It was, he said, an excruciating, painful experience, like opening up his skull and scraping out the insides and turning what he found into words.


I remember thinking, "Why do you do it? Maybe you should take up fishing to relax."

I had by this point finished one novel that an agent was unable to sell, and I was nearing completion of a second novel that would eventually find a publisher, although that outcome was yet to happen. Even though I was unpublished, I had crossed a threshold with my writing with a vital realization- - the process should be fun, fulfilling, and an activity to enjoy.

Although writing is challenging even to the most talented, and at times can be agonizing, there should be joy in it, some satisfaction in the work itself. What the poet described was a form of self-torture. I view the writing process as a privilege and a thrill to sit down and let the words flow, to be in total control of the world I am creating.

Unfortunately, not every time I sit down to write do the words flow nor am I inspired. But I've learned that I must trudge ahead and not wait for inspiration. The more times you sit down to write, the bigger your chances are that the words will flow.

The biggest mistake writers make is procrastinating. I've heard a thousand times that "I'll write when I retire" or "when I finish my research." Novelist Harry Crews had the perfect response to this: "If you wait until you got the time to write a novel, or time to write a story, or time to read the hundred thousands of books you should have already read --- you will never do it. 'Cause there ain't no time; world don't you want to do that. World wants you to go to the zoo and eat cotton candy, preferably seven days a week."

As a writer, you have to make the time, and sometimes that requires being selfish and hiding yourself away with regularity to spend time with your story. Or it requires getting up at 5 a.m. to spend some time alone in your fictional world.

And writing with regularity is the key. Like an athlete or musician honing their skills through practice, the more you write, the more you will begin to feel comfortable with your words. Writing is also much like painting a room: It requires much prep work, numerous coats, and then a lot of effort finishing the job, perfecting the trim, and cleaning it all up. It will be a mess for most of the process, perfect only in your imagination, but a sloppy work-in-progress on the page. Plan on making lots of mistakes, and be willing to spend the time to go back and try to correct them.

Ultimately, even when you've done everything you can possibly do, what you write most likely will never be perfect. Flippant rejections might rain down on your head, as they have mine. The most important thing is that you take away whatever joy you can from creating the work, and be able, as Samuel Beckett said, to "Fail again. Fail better."

Most importantly, enjoy the process. If ultimately, after a long period of time you don't find any pleasure in writing, try something else, fishing perhaps. But don't go out on a boat with that poet -- I doubt he will be any fun.

Seeking to find ways to get better candidates elected to offices

Editor and publisher |

AUG. 1, 2014 -- There's a simple reason why small turnouts at elections bother me.


Simply put: Low turnouts run the risk of having a small pinch of the electorate choosing our public officials. With a small number of people voting, splinter and fringe groups can dominate the election. This can produce elected officials representing these way-out views, often not in step with the main-line, middle-of-the-road process it takes to let our government function best.

It doesn't matter is the electorate if one third right, one-third left, and one-third in the middle or independent. If these different thirds don't turn out to vote in significant numbers, we'll always have dysfunctional government, which we must say, guides the Congress these days.

Maybe there's a better way of structuring our elections. The key element of Georgia's present election system is the requirement that the winner get one more vote than 50 percent, in other words, election by a majority of those voting. As we saw in Georgia during the primary voting, some races did not see a majority winner, so the result was the run-off primary of a week ago. And sadly, only 10 percent of Georgia's registered cast ballots, giving the possibility of five percent determining the nominees in those races.

We all ought to say together, "Horrors!"

For several years now, we're been mulling plurality races, which takes place in many states, meaning either the candidate polling the most votes is the winner, not having to obtain a majority.

Now New York Sen. Charles Schumer, seeing the divisions in the Congress, wonders if states might adopt an "open primary," also known as the "top two" primary, in voting, to help eliminate polarization. Under these rules, it reduces the focus on party, allowing anyone to run in the single primary. The two candidates who gain the most votes then proceed to the General Election to see who is elected. In this process, the two top candidates polling can even be from the same party, or from no party at all. This system eliminates the low-turnout of runoffs.

The system has been in use since 2010 in California, since the 1970s in Louisiana, and in 2008 began in Washington state. Colorado and Oregon are considering this system.

Part of the theory of this system is that it encourages more participation in the primary. It also discourages appeals to extreme views. Others maintain that two well-financed zealots could end up as the eventual winner, eventually backfiring the process. But this could happen in any voting.

One thing for sure: such a process would undermine the political parties, no longer requiring a candidate to kow-tow to party leaders.

The process itself does not automatically produce better candidates. The best possible way to do that is to encourage good people to run, and lots of other good people get behind them…..and increase the number of people going to the polls. That, more than anything else, may be the panacea for producing better quality candidates.

Say what you want, but even with a low turnout, we're pretty pleased at the candidates facing Georgia voters in the governor's and the U.S. Senate races. While we can't say that about all the recent candidates, at least it gives us another chance to turn out heavily for good candidates.

A good turnout trumps even the worst of candidates. Lincoln said it best: "Trust the people. Always trust the people." The recent problem is that the people haven't turned out!

Hayes Family Dealerships

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Hayes Family Dealerships with Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC. Mike, Tim and Ted Hayes of Lawrenceville and Gainesville with Terry Hayes of Baldwin and Stan Roberts of Toccoa invite you into their showrooms to look over their line-up of automobiles and trucks. Hayes has been in the automotive business for over 40 years, and is North Georgia's oldest family-owned dealerships. The family is the winner of the 2002 Georgia Family Business of the Year Award.

Feels presentation of Sam Nunn's record was flawed

Editor, the Forum:

Re: Michelle Nunn comment from a reader in the last issue: The letter writer really missed the boat on this one in trying to paint Sam Nunn as a liberal. Although Sam Nunn is a Democrat, I don't think anyone in his right mind could possibly accurately paint him as a liberal

This person obviously is not familiar with Nunn's record.

-- Robert Hanson, Loganville

She's ready to see those political signs removed immediately

Editor, the Forum:

Here's you one. A comment to Mike Collins, and Mr. Jody Hice, about taking their signs down. The race is over. Come down Harbins Road and Bold Springs Road in Dacula and Bethlehem and take those darn signs down. It's over boys.

-- Sharon Cassidy, Bethlemem

Dear Sharon: Well, give Jody a little more room. He's not quite there yet. He still faces a Democrat in the November elections….. -- 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.

City of Sugar Hill marks 75th anniversary all day Saturday

The City of Sugar Hill is turning 75 years old. In honor of the big event, the City is hosting the 75th at Sugar Hill, an all day and all night family friendly celebration of the history, residents and businesses of the City.

The festival features something for everyone and most of the day is free to the public. The celebration will be held on Saturday, August 2, from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. in the City's downtown area on West Broad Street. The event takes place rain or shine. When the sun goes down, the evening concludes with a ticketed (paid) community dinner and main stage concert.

Marc Cohen, mayor pro tem and chair of the 75th Anniversary Committee, says: "The Mayor and Council have worked hard to build the infrastructure to develop a thriving downtown from scratch and make Sugar Hill a destination. The 75th at Sugar Hill is an opportunity for the City to shine and showcase the new direction we are taking from an economic development and community standpoint. What better way to get that message out there than an all day, all night family friendly celebration in honor of the City's 75 years?"

The day's events begin with a 5K Sugar Rush, sponsored by the Sugar Hill Downtown Development Authority and Coca-Cola, followed by a parade 75 years in the making, that features floats, service organizations, classic cars and a few surprises. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and runs north on Peachtree Industrial Blvd towards West Broad Street and past City Hall. From 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. There is a free carnival featuring a zip line, real amusement rides, kid's rides and bounce houses.

The Broad Street Stage in front of City Hall heats up with local talent including: The Sugar Hill Church Band, Suspect B, Alexa Gilomen, Bulletproof, the Bird Dogs, and the Broad Street Concert Band. The classic car and motorcycle show kicks off at noon featuring everything from antique classics to modern day speedsters.

After the Community Dinner catered by Hammerheads Sports Grille, the headline concert featuring openers Haley and Alexis Band, followed by Andy Velo. The highlight group will be the Bacon Brothers, a gritty rock and Philly soul band fronted by actor Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael.

The dinner is sold out. Tickets are available for the concert. For more information go to:

Church Street in Lilburn closed for next three months

Starting July 31, Church Street in Lilburn will be closed for about 90 days. Motorists are advised to use Lawrenceville Highway (U.S. 29) or Poplar Street to access Main Street.

The closure is part of the Main Street Realignment Project that kicked off in February and will be finished by the end of the year. The reconfigured Main Street will create a safer, more traditional intersection at Lawrenceville Highway and set the stage for future development. Utilities are being relocated, the roadbed cleared, and the detention pond completed. Church Street will be lowered 8 feet to improve sight distance and safety.

The $3.5-million project is supported by the City of Lilburn, Gwinnett County, the State Road and Tollway Authority, and the Lilburn Community Improvement District. The contractor for the project is E.R. Snell.

Button Down Dash set for Saturday from Chamber area

The Gwinnett Chamber's third Annual Button Down Dash 5K/10K and Fun Run, presented by Gwinnett Medical Center, will be held on Saturday, August 2.

The race will kick off at 7:30 a.m. at the Gwinnett Chamber parking lot at 6500 Sugarloaf Parkway and will conclude there as well. The Button Down Dash was created in an effort to help drive the greater Gwinnett County area toward becoming the healthiest community in the state of Georgia while providing an opportunity to give back through the Charity Challenge.

The Charity Challenge is a way for every participant in the race to support their favorite nonprofit while promoting healthy competition among teams and charities. This year's chosen nonprofit partners include Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Dream House for Medically Fragile Children, Inc., and "Just" People.

Business colleagues, family and friends are encouraged to visit and sign up to race together. Race materials for registered participants can be obtained at the Button Down Dash Packet Pick-up held at the Gwinnett Chamber on Friday, August 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

New exhibit at Norcross' Kudzu Art Zone is "Fragments of Time"

Kudzu Gallery and Art Zone's August exhibit is entitled "Fragments of Time." In this modern age many feel pressured by time - never seeming to have enough. But this exhibit presents those brilliant moments in time when creativity takes hold and something wonderful happens.

Come relax and enjoy these happy discoveries in this show. The works are by member artists, showing their interpretation of time fragments, in a variety of styles and media. The Opening Reception will be on Friday, August 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. The exhibit runs from August 8 through September 6.

Kudzu Gallery and Art Zone is located at 116 Carlyle Street in Norcross, with hours on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • For more information on this exhibit, classes or workshops, call 770-840-9844 or see the website at

UGA professor plans talk here as part of Civil War 150 project


Gwinnett County Public Library will present an evening with author and Professor of History at the University of Georgia, John C. Inscoe, as part of Civil War 150, a national program designed to encourage public exploration of the impact and contested meanings of the American Civil War.

The program will be held on September 15 at the Five Forks branch at 6:30 p.m. It is made possible through a grant from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the American Library Association, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The discussion will focus on Inscoe's most recent book, The Civil War in Georgia, and is a compilation of articles drawn from the on-line "New Georgia Encyclopedia," of which he has been an editor since 1999. Discover some of the lesser known aspects of the Civil War and how it has been commemorated and remembered in Georgia.

The author of several books about race, politics, and the Civil War in Southern Appalachia and in Georgia, Inscoe has edited or co-edited volumes on Appalachian history in the 19th century, southern Unionists during the Civil War, and Confederate nationalism and identity. Inscoe is a native of western North Carolina, and is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (MA and PhD).

Former Lawrenceville councilwoman pens novel about Dunwoody


Having written for medical publications and authored children's books, Katie Hart Smith of Lawrenceville will release her latest work, Couch Time with Carolyn.

The book, set in Georgia, is a memoir, delivering intimate reflections about Smith through the relationships she has maintained with her uniquely close-knit group of Southern girlfriends, known as the "Dunwoody Girls." Smith, a former Council Member for the City of Lawrenceville, and her husband Jeff, a captain at the Lawrenceville Police Department.

One of the central characters is Carolyn, a mom of one of the Dunwoody Girls and a dear friend in her own right. Although battling cancer, the older, wiser woman has plenty of fire in her to reminisce about her colorful past, delve into Smith's life, and offer priceless advice. While sipping wine, sampling chocolates and puffing on cigarettes, they chat, laugh, cry and conclude that neither life nor love is random, and that even darkest days present valuable life lessons and moments worth cherishing.

The author says: "When I decided to write about Carolyn's life lessons, I realized I had to tell real stories, most of which involve the Dunwoody Girls. The five of us have been dear friends since elementary school, so as one might imagine, we've had our share of hilarious and heartbreaking episodes. Interestingly, both male and female readers relate to the Girls' bond, and they keep telling me that they laughed and cried throughout the book. That was my intention. After all, real friendship is all about experiencing the highs and lows in life together."

The book is released on August 1.

Hooray, Hooray: County tax bills coming this week!

The 2014 property tax bills are being mailed to Gwinnett County taxpayers by August 1. All bills will have a single-installment due date of October 1. Taxpayers may choose to make partial payments as long as the total due is paid by the due date.

For property owners with an escrow account, tax information is available to the mortgage company. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner to ensure taxes are paid by the due date. If there are questions about who will pay the taxes, homeowners should contact their mortgage company directly, especially if their mortgage company has recently changed.

There are several options for property tax payment:

  • Pay online by check, credit or debit card at (Paying by check is free; debit card: $3.95 flat fee; credit card: 2.29 percent service fee.)
  • Mail payments to P.O. Box 372, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.
  • Pay by check using drop boxes 24 hours a day at all Tax Commissioner offices.
  • Pay in person during business hours at all Tax Commissioner offices.

You may view your property tax information at To contact the office, go to or call 770-822-8800.

On mowing lawns

One of the most important components of lawn maintenance is mowing. It directly affects the health and quality of the turfgrass. Improperly-mowed lawns will suffer and develop an unsightly appearance.

Proper mowing consists of cutting the grass at the correct height and frequency. Doing so will create a healthy lawn by encouraging the development of a dense stand of turfgrass which helps reduce weeds and other pests. Mow frequently enough so that no more than one-third of the grass blade is removed. For example, if you want to maintain the lawn at a height of two inches, mow when it is three inches high. The blades should be kept sharp at all times. Dull blades will shred the ends of the grass, causing the lawn to develop an unsightly brown to white appearance. This makes it more prone to diseases and water loss. Sharpen the mower blades as needed or replace them.

-- Tim Daly, 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

In 1930s-40s, art in Georgia termed "Golden Age" by some

The period of the 1930s and early 1940s was rich with discovery for artists in Georgia and engendered what may be termed a "golden age" in the history of painting, drawing, printmaking, and documentary photography in the state.

"Georgia Sunset," by Eliot O'Hara

During this decade and a half, as with other cultural areas of expression in the state, art in Georgia demonstrated an interest in the distinctive qualities of the state's varied land and peoples, in keeping with the nationwide trend toward regionalism. The federal government encouraged this emphasis, commissioning nationally recognized artists to decorate post offices in the state with paintings and sculptures and commissioning photographers to document social conditions in various communities, especially poor, rural ones. All in all, the era was a substantial one for the visual arts in Georgia.

As in the 1920s, new organizations devoted to promoting art in Georgia were established, while outside organizations and visiting artists continued to be attracted to the state. In 1929 the Association of Georgia Artists, affiliated with the Southern States Art League, was founded, and Hattie Saussy served as president in 1933-34.

Its first exhibition opened in Savannah and traveled to Atlanta, Macon, Athens, Columbus, and Augusta. In Savannah during the early 1930s, the Telfair Art Museum worked closely with the American Federation of Arts to bring exhibitions and speakers to the city. Savannah artists also formed the Savannah Art Club. Art exhibitions in Georgia during the 1930s were listed in Art Digest, a champion of the realist American Scene aesthetic that spread throughout the country during the decade.

Where is this harbor?

Can't you just hear the sounds of the harbor, as the boats bump up against the pier, the ropes getting taut, and then being relieved. Oh, the sounds of the water! But where is it? Send your thoughts to and include your hometown.

Though several people tried, only one person spotted the recent Mystery Photo as from the Great Sand Dunes National Park near Mosca, Colorado. That was Ruthy Lachman Paul of Norcross, who asked: "Did you know that the tallest sand dunes in all of North America are in Colorado?" Who would have thought? The photograph was sent in by Beverly Lougher of Lawrenceville.

Atlanta skyline

It's a view of the skyscrapers. But what makes this photograph so much part of Atlanta is that "V" of a Varsity sign on the right side. Frank Sharp shot this recently on a hot, but really clear, day in downtown Atlanta. We bet the Varsity reminder would make Atlanta old-timers homesick.


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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.


A comment by Elliott Brack in the previous GwinnettForum incorrectly stated the birthplace of Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. He was born in Columbus, Ga. We regret the error. --eeb

Another Way of Saying Eye of the Beholder

"Most people do not see things as they ARE, rather, they see things as THEY are."

-- Franciscan friar, inspirational speaker, author Richard Rohr (1943 - ), via Cindy Evans, Duluth.




Food Trucks return to Suwanee Town Center Park on August 1 from 5:30 until 9:30 p.m. The tentative food truck line-up includes Freckled and Blue, King of Pops, Mac the Cheese, MG's Burger Que, Nana G's Chicken and Waffles, On Tapa the World, Pressed for Time, Smiley's Street Eats, Tex's Tacos, and Tracey's Tasties. Students in the Suwanee Youth Leaders program are responsible for planning activities and entertainment at the August Food Truck Friday event.
Georgia Cup Criterium debuts Saturday, August 2, in downtown Duluth at 1 p.m. With some 600 cyclists, this bicycle race will feature some of the top professional and amateur racers in the Southeast, and offer $15,00 in prizes. Races will continue throughout the afternoon. There will be a festive atmosphere, with food, games and fun for kids and grown-ups alike. For more info, call 678-475-3506.
Stuff the Bus and Stuff Your Belly, Saturday, August 2, $10 for two meats and trimmings, Noon to 3 p.m. at Farmhouse 17 on Holcomb Bridge in Norcross. This benefits school children through your donation of school supplies. Sponsored by Norcross Cluster Schools Partnership, Lions Lighthouse Foundation, Farmhouse 17 and Communities in Schools.

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.

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.

Workshop for Aspiring Writers, at Suwanee Public Library, Thursday, August 14 at 6:30 p.m. Leading the workshop will be Author Joe Samuel Starnes (author of Fall Line), using the topic: “Research: A Writer's Best Friend and A Writer's Worst Enemy- Using Research in Your Fiction.” For more details, visit


10/17: Simpsonwood update
10/14: German student visits
10/10: GwinnettForum's endorsements
10/7: Why so few candidates?
10/3: Regents on smoking, USS Georgia

9/30: Ostracize women-bashers
9/26: Policing peril, disasters
9/23: Scottish referendum, more
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


10/17: Hacknett: Annandale race
10/14: Smith: Choral Guild concert
10/7: Dubin: Reducing recidivism
10/3: Hendrickson: T-shirt winner

9/30: Nelson: Move around
9/26: Buchanan: Keeping out the sun
9/23: Nichols: Hudgens Prize judges
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


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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