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CELEBRATION: Sugar Hill residents ended their 75th anniversary of the city's founding with concerts in the amphitheater behind its new city hall. It was the culmination of a full day of activities for people of all ages, as the city residents and guests explored what will someday be a more crowded downtown scene. The amenity pond behind the stage adds to the beauty of the area.

Issue 14.37 | Aug. 5, 2014

:: More warmth by 2059

:: Bus drivers have great safety record

Spectacular remembrance of park

New at Ballet, concert, exhibition

County keeps AAA rating

:: Aurora Theatre

:: My Antonia

:: Absurd, futile and people

:: On yearning for more education

:: Not many recognized landmark

:: Fan Day at Georgia Tech's stadium


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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Summer's heat nothing compared to heat 45 years from now
Editor and publisher, Statehouse Report
Special for GwinnettForum
| permalink

(Editor's Note: A recent South Carolina story about climate change raised some interesting thoughts, first detailed in a study by Emory University. While focusing on another state, it also applies to Georgia. -eeb)

CHARLESTON, S.C., Aug. 5, 2014 -- If you think it's hot this summer, just wait 45 years. Unless something is done to mitigate the amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the sky, heat waves will be longer and more intense -- and more people will die in South Carolina.

A new study of heat and its impact in the eastern U.S. by researchers at Emory University and other institutions suggests "that numbers of heat wave-related deaths are likely to be an order of magnitude higher in 2057-2059 than in 2002-2004. ... Effective mitigation and adaptation measures will be crucial to reduce the potential for catastrophic outcomes, particularly in the most vulnerable geographic regions."

In other words, the weather of the future is going to get worse unless policymakers deal with greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

According to the research, there was a 40 percent chance of at least one heat wave in the eastern United States in 2002-2004 and it lasted an average of 3.4 days. Using modeling, the study projected two outcomes for the future:

  • Reductions. Assuming moderate greenhouse gas emissions combined with a wide range of strategies and ways to reduce emissions, the study projected the Southern coast would have about two heat waves a year with an average of 1,400 heat-related deaths by 2057 to 2059.

  • More of the same. But with the continued use of fossil-fuel intensive energy consumption, the study projected up to four heat waves a year for our region with an average of 3,556 heat-related deaths for the same period.

The new Emory study reflects the kind of data found in a 2013 report by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The 101-page study, "Climate Change Impacts to Natural Resources in South Carolina," was conducted as part of the department's mission to be the steward of the state's natural resources, which DNR says pumps about $30 billion a year into the state and is responsible for about 230,000 jobs.

DNR Director Alvin Taylor of South Carolina wrote in the report's forward: "Access to abundant recreational opportunities and natural assets play an important role in economic growth and quality of life at the local, regional and state levels, so protection and enhancement of our natural resources can and should be part of our overall economic development strategy. Any changes to our coastal environment could cause substantial economic consequences. Shoreline changes affect property uses, land values, tourism, and natural resources management as well as traditional uses such as hunting and fishing, timber management and agriculture."

And as the new Emory heat study highlights, unless something is done sooner than later, it's likely that heat waves will get longer and more people will die from the heat.

Rotary Club recognizes Gwinnett's 1,600 school bus drivers

Editor and publisher |

AUG. 5, 2014 -- As the 2014-15 school year opens today in Gwinnett, it could be that traffic will get more compact as 1,600 yellow buses hit the road, transporting 127,000 Gwinnett students on three different routings twice a day. It's the equivalent to driving 130,000 miles a day, or 58 round-trips of the 2,218 mile trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles each day. That's $60,000 each day for diesel fuel! (The anticipated first day enrollment is 172,383 students, but not all ride the bus.)


Wow! Our school bus drivers put in a tremendous mileage. And they do all this while having an admirable accident record, which is half the statewide average. These drivers are something else! One of the reasons for Gwinnett having such a low accident record is that Gwinnett gives the drivers 120 hours of training, compared to about 40 hours for some other nearby districts.

We learned this last week as Dr. Frances Davis, the assistant superintendent of the Gwinnett Public schools for human resources, addressed more than 2,000 drivers, managers and other personnel at a training session at Hebron Baptist Church last week. (Thanks to Hebron for the space. You need a big hall, like Hebron, for that many people!)

Hot Chick-Fil-A meals await bus drivers.

Dr. Davis was in front of the bus drivers speaking also as a member of the Gwinnett Rotary Club. The club recognized the drivers by handing out door prizes, and also provided them with a Chick-Fil-A meal. (It took the work of four different Chick-Fil-A franchises to have a hot chicken sandwich for that big a group.)

Gwinnett Rotary President Chuck Warbington welcomed the drivers and praised them for what they do.

"These incredible individuals carry our most precious cargo daily. They are the first to greet our children in the morning and the last to get them home safely after a full day at school. They do this with the utmost concern for safety and with little fanfare. The bus drivers are one of the critical components to the fabric of what makes Gwinnett a great place to live and work."

Grant Reppert, the school district's director of transportation, said: "I am thrilled by the Rotary Club's recognition of the effort and commitment our bus managers and monitors make to the children of Gwinnett County. This is a fine gesture to recognize a very valuable group of GCPS employees. Every day our bus managers and monitors are focused on student safety while transporting students. They are trained and trusted to make the safe decision on the spot and in the moment."

Dr. Davis gave the drivers successful tips in driving. They included:

  • Have an exit strategy: "That's important to know where to go if things go South in a hurry."

  • Anticipate: "Great drivers look as far down the road as they can. Anticipate your next move, but don't fixate on it."

  • Be aware of limits: "Not just speed limits, but the limits on yourself, your bus and the road you're on."

  • Eliminate distractions: "Distractions behind the wheel can be costly. It's as simple as that."

  • Consistency: "There's no shortcut around this one. The more time you spend behind the wheel, especially when just starting out, the better driver you'll become."

Yet more than anything else, Frances Davis challenged the drivers to work toward good thinking, for "good thinkers are in demand. When success is concerned, people are not measured in inches or pounds or degrees, or family background. They are measured by the size of their thinking."

Aurora Theatre

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Aurora Theatre, the professional theatre of Gwinnett County and home of the best entertainment in Northeast Georgia. With over 600 events annually, Aurora Theatre has live entertainment to suit everyone's taste. Aurora Theatre's Peach State Federal Credit Union Signature Series is comprised of Broadway's best plays and musicals alongside exciting works of contemporary theatre. Additionally, Aurora produces concerts, club comedy events, children's programs, and metro Atlanta's top haunted attraction, Lawrenceville Ghost Tours. Aurora Theatre is a world-class theatrical facility with two performances venues. It is nestled on the square in downtown Lawrenceville, with free attached covered parking and is surrounded by myriad of restaurants and shops.

Now Showing, Disney's and Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins, the Broadway Musical, with several dates already sold-out -- tickets are going fast.

Oh, how she remembers Great Sand Dunes National Park

Editor, the Forum:

I forgot to email my answer to you for last Tuesday's mystery pix (had I done so, you would have had two correct responses...oh well).

Here's my little anecdote about what happened during one of my family's Colorado vacations years ago that included the Great Sand Dunes area.

While we were there, we actually got caught in a sandstorm and there was no "safe haven" in sight. Thank heavens we were inside the car. But, you should have seen the car afterwards!! Most of the paint was sandblasted off the surface. What a mess.

Lucky for us it was a rental car and, lucky for us and the rental car company, insurance paid for the entire repair costs. How's that for a vacation snippet?

-- Lynn Naylor, Atlanta

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.

Jones is new administrator for Gwinnett Ballet

The Board of Directors of Gwinnett Ballet Theatre have announced that Whitney Sue Jones will be the new School Administrator effective immediately in preparation for the new school year just beginning.


Ms. Jones has been affiliated with Gwinnett Ballet Theatre since childhood when she began taking ballet at the age of 4. She continued dancing with GBT under the direction of Lisa Sheppard Robson, performing roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in GBT's annual production of "The Nutcracker" and many other leading roles.

She holds a Masters of Science in Education and a Professional Training Certificate in Dance from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, in collaboration with North Carolina Dance Theatre. She married Stephen Snuggs in July.

Ms. Jones has been in charge of GBT's outreach program "The Dance Project" for the past two years, a project that has seen great growth and influence on the lives of Title 1 school children over that period of time.

GBT Board Chairman Len Diprima says: "Initially a beautiful dancer and student at GBT, later an excellent instructor and now in a leadership role, we are very excited about this development and believe that Whitney Sue will be a great asset to our organization in wonderful new ways."

  • For more information about GBT, Ms. Jones, or the new fall schedule of classes, call 770-237-0046 or visit the web site at

Suwanee's Concert and Wing Fest to be August 16

Alternative rock band Everclear will headline the City of Suwanee's August 16 Concert and Wing Fest. This summer's community concert marks the 10th anniversary of music, movies, festivals, and more at Suwanee's Town Center Park. Sean Mullins headlined Town Center Park's very first concert on August 14, 2004.

Everclear was Billboard's Modern Rock Band of the Year in 1998. Over a decade from 1994-2004, the band had three platinum or double-platinum albums and several hits, including "Father of Mine," "Wonderful," and "Santa Monica."

This summer's community concert is being combined with a wing festival that will feature a variety of the saucy, finger-lickin' fare from area restaurants. The wing festival and musical performances will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Town Center Park with Everclear taking the stage about 8:30 p.m.

Hunter Callahan, Nine Times Blue, and The Athens Band will perform before Everclear.

A celebrity wing-eating contest will be part of the evening's activities. Attendees also will be invited to vote for their favorite wings from among the vendors at the festival.

Bring blankets, chairs, and picnics, but no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. Beer and wine will be available for purchase from concert vendors and licensed Town Center merchants.

Gwinnett Tech photography program to have Buford exhibition

The 2014 graduating seniors of Gwinnett Technical College's photography program will display their work at a portfolio presentation at Hot Pan Productions in Buford on August 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Hot Pan Productions is located at 554 Main Street in Buford. To reach them, call (770) 932-1670.

The portfolio presentation will consist of work from the photography program's graduating seniors representing genres such as photojournalism, advertising, wedding scenes, portraiture and landscape. All images will be for sale.

The portfolio presentation will move to Gwinnett Tech's campus Media Gallery in September for additional public viewing.

Fitch gives Gwinnett another AAA financial rating

Gwinnett officials have learned that Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed the government's AAA credit rating with a stable outlook. The rating affirmed Gwinnett County's debt of $19.1 million in general obligation bonds, $806.3 million in water and sewer bonds and $89.9 million in development authority bonds.

Fitch noted in its report that Gwinnett County's strong reserves, stable operating performance and favorable debt position were key drivers for its rating. The report said "careful budgeting and financial monitoring has contributed to a lengthy history of positive operating results." In addition, the report noted the County's strong fund balance position and "prudent approach" to retirement funding. It specifically pointed out that the OPEB trust has a 59.9 percent funded ratio, which is unusually high relative to other U.S. local governments.

In addition, Fitch cited Gwinnett's participation in a metropolitan economy as favorable. According to the report, "the economy is diverse with major employers spanning numerous industries and is home to a significant number of Fortune 500 companies." The report also notes the county's low unemployment rate and above-average household income.

Gwinnett County has held the highest bond ratings from all three major rating agencies since 1997. Fitch's reaffirmation of Gwinnett County's AAA is the result of a routine review process undertaken by rating agencies. The other agencies are likely to perform a similar review according to their own practices.

My Antonia
By Willa Sibert Cather

On a train traveling west, the narrator, Jim Burden, discovers he has a mutual friend with a fellow traveler. Burden begins to reminisce on childhood days in Nebraska, as he focuses on the rugged, harsh landscape and the many immigrants who staked a claim to homesteads. One in particular, Antonia, befriends him, and in return, he teaches her English and they explore the open prairie. As they grow older, changes in social status force them apart, with Jim going to college and Antonia leaving the homestead to marry a suitor in faraway Denver. As the years progress, we see Antonia struggle while Jim is a successful attorney in New York City. They reunite after 20 years, Antonia now happy and settled in a large, boisterous family, while Jim reflects on how Antonia has been a constant force in his life.

-- Karen Garner, Dacula

  • 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

After war, Georgia's freed slaves yearned for formal education

From the first days of their freedom, Georgia's freed slaves demanded formal education. Legislation passed in 1829 had made it a crime to teach slaves to read, and legislation and white attitudes discouraged literacy within Georgia's small free black community.

Yet when schools for freed people opened in early 1865, they were crowded to overflowing. Within a year of black freedom, at least 8,000 former slaves were attending schools in Georgia; eight years later, black schools struggled to contain nearly 20,000 students.

While northern private benevolence and the federal government deserve credit for aiding black education in Georgia during Reconstruction, the primary impetus and sustaining force came from the state's African Americans. The first postwar schools were former clandestine schools, operating openly by January 1865. Literate black men and women opened new, self-sustaining schools. Northern freedmen's aid organizations began establishing schools in mid-1865. Of the nearly fifty aid societies working in freedmen's education in the 1860s, only seven were active in Georgia. These benevolent organizations raised funds, recruited teachers, and attempted to keep the future of the freed people before the northern public.

Meanwhile, Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, popularly known as the Freedmen's Bureau, in March 1865. Though it did not hire teachers or operate schools itself, the Bureau assisted the aid societies in meeting the burgeoning African American demand for education. It rented buildings for schoolrooms, provided books and transportation for teachers, superintended the schools, and offered military protection for students and teachers against the opponents of black literacy.

Even where the Bureau and northern aid did reach into Georgia, however, the freedmen themselves provided a substantial amount of support for the schools. They paid monthly tuition fees, raised funds for teachers' room and board, purchased lots for schoolhouses, and donated material and labor to build them. They also created and supported schools that were independent of northern efforts. Until 1870, while sustaining their own schools, the freedmen-nearly half of the state's population-were also required to pay school taxes for privileges from which they were excluded.

Adult freedmen sought the benefits of literacy for themselves as avidly as they sought schools for their children. In winter and in the slack times between planting and harvesting, fathers and mothers recited beside their children in freedmen's schools. To meet the demand for education from adults who could not attend regular classes, the teachers organized night schools and Sabbath-day schools.

Throughout Reconstruction, teachers reported that adults often constituted one-third of their students. Adult students were also served by formal secondary and higher education institutions, ranging from normal schools for teacher training in Macon, Columbus, Savannah, and elsewhere, preparatory schools attached to colleges, and the colleges themselves: Atlanta University, Clark College (later Clark Atlanta University), and the Augusta Institute (later Morehouse College).

(To be continued)

Where's this?

Looks like some animals are enjoying cavorting. But where is this, and what is the significance of this picture? Tell us your guess by emailing, and be sure to include your hometown.

Here we thought that the boats alone, with the background, would find a tremendous number of people recognizing last edition's mystery photo in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass. But no, not many people sent in answers this week to last edition's mystery photo. Karen Burnette Garner sent the first, saying "It's McMillan Wharf in Provincetown." Also spotting the photo was Lynn Naylor of Atlanta. The photo came from the reliable Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill.

(In the last edition, we failed to mention that Wayne Waldrip of Smyrna also recognized the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

Fan Day at the Flats

Photographer Frank Sharp showed up at Fan Day at Georgia Tech's Fan Day at Bobby Dodd Stadium of Grant Field. Fans mill around on the turf, meeting players and coaches. Meanwhile, the skyline of Atlanta forms a dramatic background. To get this photograph, Sharp had to climb to the highest level of seating, which highlighted the structure of the stadium.


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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.

Why The Absurd, Futile and People Go Together

"Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together.

-- U.S. (Spanish-born) Philosopher George Santayana (1863 - 1952).




(NEW) Groundbreaking for Phase Two of the Gwinnett Fire Department expansion of its Fire Academy, Tuesday, August 5, at 3:30 p.m. at 3608 Braselton Highway in Hamilton Mill. The new facility will feature a new academic building, three-bay apparatus building with classrooms and a large training pavilion The project is funded by the voter-approved 2009 SPLOST sales tax.

(NEW) Herbs in the Garden class taught by Gwinnett County Extension Service. It will be held August 14 at noon (one hour) at the Extension office at 750 S Perry Street in Lawrenceville. Herbs are excellent garden plants that require minimal maintenance and come in a variety of scents, flavors, and colors. There is no cost, but register by August 12. Contact Timothy Daly or call 678-377-4010.

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


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