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SUPER STRUCTURE: Here's an initial view of part of the Gateway-to-Gwinnett superstructure now being erected on the Jimmy Carter over Interstate 85 Bridge. This comes with the new Diverging Diamond contract at the intersection. Because of unforeseen problems, the new roadway alignment may not be open until early 2015, officials now tell GwinnettForum.

Issue 14.64 | Nov. 7, 2014

:: Brenau, Chinese program

:: Why it was GOP year

Three letters

Infrastructure work, more

New county park

:: The IMPACT! Group

:: Wars and the military

:: More on Larry Connatser

:: Where's this place?


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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Brenau University, Chinese university OK joint degree program
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GAINESVILLE, Ga., Nov. 7, 2014 -- The People's Republic of China and Anhui Province have approved an agreement between Brenau University and Anhui Normal University for a joint degree program in early childhood teacher education. It is designed to bring scores of Chinese students to Georgia starting in 2016, as well as provide study abroad opportunities for American students and faculty exchanges from both institutions.

Brenau University President Ed Schrader, Anhui Normal University President Wang Lun and Zhu Jiacon, vice president of the 35,000-student university based in Wuhu in Southeastern China, signed and announced broad details of the agreement after Schrader and Pete Miller, chair of the Brenau University Board of Trustees, traveled to China recently to put finishing touches on the unprecedented arrangement.

The arrangement already had been approved by both the provincial government and the national ministry of education. Called "two-plus-two" programs, named so because the arrangements are for Chinese undergraduate students to spend the first two years of their college careers in country, graduating after a second two-year period on campus in another country.

The agreements are difficult to attain. The Chinese government denied 116 two-plus-two programs last year. On average over the past three years China has approved only about 30 percent of the applications. When applications are successful, it is usually only after many months - sometimes years - of negotiation. In addition, the government tends to favor science programs rather than those geared more toward liberal arts, like teacher education.

However, the Brenau-ANU deal sped through after ANU Vice President Zhu Jiacon headed a delegation on a Georgia visit in late April. Dr. Schrader said that the agreement and the speed with which it was approved underscores China's commitment to improve teacher education in the country and the recognition that Brenau - less than 1/10th the size of ANU - "is an internationally recognized and innovative leader in development of adaptive education programs."

Schrader said that Brenau's comparative size and its relatively low student/teacher ratio was a key selling point. The Chinese officials and academics "thought that would actually benefit their students because they were coming out of an environment of very large class sizes." The government approval, he said, was more an "accreditation action" than a political or diplomatic activity.

Sandy Leslie, dean of the Brenau University College of Education, said that ANU, the only university in Anhui Province to admit foreign students, boasts about 1,000 teacher education majors. In the agreement with Brenau, Dr. Leslie said that the university will select "the cream of the crop" to spend the last two years of their undergraduate years at Brenau for interns focused on learning the highly successful American techniques for educating children up to about eight years old. The program particularly stresses learning before the children begin compulsory education, typically at about age six in the United States. Once ANU students have completed their studies, those students will graduate from Brenau, but will receive diplomas from both institutions.

Under the terms of the agreement, Anhui Normal will begin now with an intense two-year preparation of 25 to 40 elite students from each freshman class for enrollment at Brenau. The first group of 27 students, already enrolled in their first year at ANU, will begin studies in Gainesville, Georgia, in August 2016. Once fully operational, with a new group of students arriving in time for each fall term, the Brenau program will have about 75 Chinese students on campus and actively engaged at all times.

Why GOP? Anti-Obama in USA and Democratic ineptness here

Editor and publisher |

NOV. 7, 2014 -- Why the Republican sweep in Georgia?


Mainly, the voting in our state, and seemingly all across the nation, was purely anti-Obama in nature, as the Republican political operatives clearly convinced the electorate that the leadership by the President is missing.

In Georgia, the Democrats had charged ahead with two well-known names to run for the top offices, and many were thinking this showed a stronger Democratic Party rebounding from its previous meager showings. This perceived strength held throughout the race at the polls with neck-and-neck results causing eyebrows to be raised. Only in the last week did the polls show an indication of a shift toward the Republicans.

Meanwhile, in Gwinnett, some new faces brought added Democratic hopes for a winning. Yet when you consider the results, the anticipated strength never showed itself for the Democrats, getting 38-40 percent, about their average showing for the past elections. Putting it shortly, the 60/40 split remains the standard in Gwinnett. If you want to win, just put a "R" after your name, and if you don't have opposition within the GOP, count on getting elected.

During this political season, we talked to strong and weak candidates in both parties. Yet in the final tally, it seems that even the strong Democratic candidates did no better than the weak Democratic candidates. And vice-versa, the Republicans in Gwinnett who appeared to be a weak candidates fared just as well as the strong Republican candidates.

Many cited Gwinnett's growing diverse population as one possible boost to the Democratic candidates. That strength never appeared in the vote count. The county remains solidly Republican in every aspect, no matter how diverse Gwinnett is.

By the way, the turnout was relatively poor in Gwinnett, 199,550 votes cast, or 50.36 percent of those registered, which was 396,271. In presidential election years, there is always a better turnout: 75.22 percent in 2012. That year 297,824 people voted, out of the 395,934 registered. Note only the slight increase (347) in those registered in Gwinnett for this year's election. If you don't vote in the past two Federal elections, your registration is revoked. Because of this, about 50,000 people were removed from the list by the Georgia Secretary of State's office this cycle, hence the similar registration numbers as 2012, about the same number of new registrants in Gwinnett.

Another factor which has kept Gwinnett solidly Republican in recent years has been the ineptness of the Gwinnett Democratic Party. It has had erratic leadership within the party for several years. Then the current chairman, a relative newcomer to the county, has been in office a few months, and in office by surprise when the former chairman moved out-of-state. The Democrats, in contrast to the Republicans, had no plan to encourage candidates to run for office, nor efforts to train potential members of their party, in sharp contrast to Gwinnett Republicans.

So it's been a decidedly bad year for Democrats in Gwinnett this cycle, with little indication that the next election will be any better.

* * * * *

The polls also indicated early on that a third party might bring surprises. Toward the end of the race, there was an apparent consensus that in races with Libertarians, there might even be a runoff. Yet the forecast of 4-5-6 percent of the vote going to the Libertarians was far off base. The lower you went on the ballot, the more strength the Libertarians showed. Amanda Swofford had only 1.9 percent in the Senate race, Andrew Hunt scored 2.37 percent for governor, while Ted Metz for Insurance Commissioner won 3.43 percent of the vote, and Robin Gilmer for the public service commission topped the Libertarians with 4.87 percent.

The IMPACT! Group

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's underwriter is The IMPACT! Group, a full-service housing assistance agency based in Norcross. The IMPACT! Group provides a range of housing assistance services, including foreclosure prevention, homebuyer education, financial education, and transitional housing to the residents and military veterans of Gwinnett County and greater Atlanta. In the past year alone, the agency operated approximately 60 percent of the transitional housing units available to homeless families in Gwinnett and provided over 5,000 of your neighbors with housing counseling and education.

Awarded the 2010 D. Scott Hudgens Humanitarian Award by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, The IMPACT! Group is able to provide all of its services in both English and Spanish. If you or a loved one are facing a home foreclosure or are looking to access down payment assistance to buy a home, The IMPACT! Group may be able to help. All IMPACT! housing counselors are HUD-certified as well as certified military housing counselors, and all homeowner counseling sessions are kept confidential.

Ready for newly-elected candidates to get some real work done

Editor, the Forum:

Newly-elected members of Congress and State legislature, the elections are over, the votes are tallied. Whether we voted for you or the other guy no longer matters, you are now our representatives. Do not lose sight of that fact as you go about your duties.

For years we have been fed that the imbalance of power in Washington has kept you from getting work done and created a sense of tension and irreconcilable differences that give excuse for inaction. Now that is over, so put away your soapboxes and put your heads down and your hands at work and get something done! Let history decide if your decisions were right or wrong, but get something accomplished and make darn sure we know you were doing something worthy of our trust.

With the opinion of most people I know, you are on borrowed time. We want to see action and expect it from you. Congratulations to those who were elected… get to work!

Now another matter: after checking some stats that the AJC produced, I am surprised at House District 81, the I-85 corridor around Doraville. Despite a large number of voters, there were less than 1,000 votes between the two candidates. This really shows how little the residents of that zone feel the election process or candidates affects them.

It is a real shame.

-- Charles Blair, Lawrenceville

Growing North Gwinnett area needs more park fields

Editor, The Forum:

When the Gwinnett commissioners put forward the 2014 SPLOST bill that redirected funding away from parks and toward transportation and public safety, it disrupted the heart of the Gwinnett advantage.

Gwinnett County not only has a world-class park system, but one which keeps schools and municipal taxes low by not replicating these assets. Schools do not provide field and recreational space as in other counties, because Parks provides for youth sports.

Municipalities don't build soccer fields because that's what Parks does. But what happens when Parks doesn't? What happens when municipalities continue to grow at the rate that the northern part of the county has?

One field serves 160 kids per season with two practices per week and one game per weekend. Gwinnett has seen 16,000 new students since 2009. North Gwinnett Middle School has gained 400 new kids alone. The rec leagues in North Gwinnett/Peachtree Ridge simply don't have the fields for the kids who want to play football, lacrosse, or soccer. Just those two areas need a minimum of six mixed-use fields now. Mill Creek and Sugar Hill are also stressed for fields.

-- Joe Briggs, Suwanee

Dear Mr. Briggs: Perhaps you have some relief with the announcement in this edition about the E.E. Robinson Park in Sugar Hill.--eeb

Giving away the store five miles from Alabama line!

Editor, the Forum:

I agree with George Wilson on the issue of tax incentives for business relocations. Georgia has "given away the store" with tax incentives to lure business to the state. We're listed as the most business-friendly state in the country and yet we still have the nation's highest unemployment rate.

Something's wrong, here.

And don't forget - all those tax dollars that are given away in relocation incentives have to be made up somewhere. Georgia taxpayers pay for the ride. That's you and me, for the uninitiated.

Also, in the case of the Kia plant, Georgia gave away the store to get it, and where do they locate? Five miles from the Alabama line. I'd wager that about half the employees come from Alabama to work. They got a really sweet deal - good jobs, and their neighbors pay for them.

What a deal ! For Kia, for Alabama, but definitely NOT for Georgia.

-- Robert H. Hanson, Loganville

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.

County awards highway, sidewalk improvements in several areas

Georgia Highway 120/Duluth Highway will get intersection upgrades and pedestrians will get three new sidewalks after Gwinnett commissioners awarded contracts on this week. All are funded through the 2009 SPLOST sales tax.

Drivers on Highway 120 near Duluth will get a new deceleration lane for turning right onto Bunten Road and a new left turn lane onto Whippoorwill Circle. Further improvements to the state highway include a new eastbound through lane, signal and pedestrian upgrades for Highway120 at Boggs Road, plus a new deceleration lane from Highway120 eastbound onto Boggs Road southbound. Ohmshiv Construction LLC of Lawrenceville was the lowest of six bidders at $1,270,189.

A pedestrian safety project will connect existing sidewalks along both sides of Highway 120 from Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road to past Riverside Parkway near Lawrenceville. The project includes curb, gutter and drainage improvements plus signal and pedestrian upgrades at Riverside Parkway. CMES Inc. of Lilburn was the lowest of six bidders at $957,456.

A second sidewalk project near Sweetwater Park is on the east side of Bethesda School Road between Fork Creek Parkway and West Regal Court. It also includes curb, gutter and drainage improvement. CMES Inc. was the lowest of 10 bidders at $246,366.

There will also be new sidewalks, curb and gutter on the east side of Davenport Road and the north side of Hill Drive to finish connecting Shorty Howell Park to McDaniel Farm Park. Gary's Grading & Pipeline Company Inc. was the lowest of seven bidders at $286,482.

Deadline is Dec. 5 for second Suwanee Youth Leaders' program

Following a successful inaugural year, Suwanee Youth Leaders, an eight-month leadership and community development program for high school sophomores and juniors, will be offered again in 2015. The deadline for applications to the City of Suwanee program is December 5. Additional information, including a video, and applications are available at

The 50 students in the inaugural 2014 program met with a variety of community leaders, developed their individual leadership philosophies and skills, and logged more than 700 community volunteer hours.

Mimi Zhang, a senior at North Gwinnett High School, who participated in the 2014 program, says: "SYL has given me a chance to work deeper within my community on a level I had never experienced before. With SYL, students work with a whole new level of leaders in our community. I have a better understanding of how complicated and structured our City really is." Adds July Choi, a junior at North Gwinnett: "I was able to find out who I was as a leader."

The 2015 program will begin in March with a mandatory two-day retreat and continue monthly through September with programming and hands-on opportunities designed to enhance students' team-building, communication, and leadership skills. SYL is open to current sophomores and juniors who attend public, private, and home-based schools in the North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge clusters.

Gwinnett Tech to offer barbering diploma program in January

Gwinnett Technical College will host an informational session for its new Barbering diploma program on Tuesday, November 11, at 5:30 p.m., in Building 100, Room 920, on its campus. Call 678-226-6751 to reserve your seat.

The session will cover:

  • Program details and course overviews;
  • Licensing process; and
  • Barber Kit requirements.

Gwinnett Tech is now accepting applications for the Barbering program for Spring Semester. The application completion deadline is December 3. Classes begin Jan. 7, 2015. The 18-month program will prepare students with the knowledge and the required 1,500 hours of practice to take the State Barber Board Examination, which is required to obtain a barbering license in Georgia. The department has a 100 percent pass rate for its cosmetology diploma students.

The program will offer evening classes which are aimed at working students who want to switch careers or add an additional revenue stream.

County to pay $10 million for E.E. Robinson Park in Sugar Hill

Gwinnett County commissioners have agreed Tuesday to purchase E.E. Robinson Park from the City of Sugar Hill for $10 million. The sale of the land and existing facilities is expected to close in December.

The 53-acre park includes youth and adult baseball/softball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, a pavilion and covered playground, amphitheater, restroom/concession building, more than 500 parking spaces, maintenance and storage buildings and an area for future expansion.

Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash says: "Gwinnett County is most happy to partner with the City of Sugar Hill. Adding E.E. Robinson Park to our park system helps meet our mission of providing first-class parks and recreation services countywide." Gwinnett County's long-range plans have shown a need for an active community park in the Sugar Hill area. The Lanier Youth Athletic Association will use the park to expand youth sports in the Lanier School Cluster.

Sugar Hill Mayor Steve Edwards says: "The sale of E.E. Robinson to Gwinnett County is good for the taxpayers of Sugar Hill and Gwinnett County. The park will still be in the city, just like the new Level Creek Park a few hundred yards down the road, and has the capacity to accommodate the future growth of this area of the county. Our city recreation department will now focus their attention on maintaining and improving Gary Pirkle Park and other opportunities in Sugar Hill."

Sugar Hill will continue to host its annual July 3rd Sparks in the Park Celebration and its traditional Easter Egg Hunt in the park. Gwinnett County also agreed to keep the name of the park and the various named and dedicated playing fields.

Gwinnett County's system of 46 parks and historic sites received national recognition this year as a finalist for the National Recreation and Park Association's Gold Medal award. The County won the award in 2010.

Send us a review of a book, movie, restaurant

  • 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

Connatser produced more than 3,000 works in art career

(Continued from previous edition)

Larry Connatser received several public-mural commissions that gave his work increased exposure. The first, in 1974, was a seven-story-tall mural on a commercial building in downtown Atlanta. Commissioned by Urban Walls, a joint venture of the Arts Festival of Atlanta and Central Atlanta Progress with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the mural was featured on the May 19, 1974, cover of the magazine section of the Sunday (Atlanta) Journal-Constitution. It was later destroyed when the building was razed to make way for the revitalization of the city's financial district.

Twin murals, visibly present to countless commuters each day, were commissioned for the Decatur MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) station, part of Atlanta's subway system. Completed in 1981, each mural is sixty-six feet long and twenty-six feet high, and depicts stylized renderings of the mountains and sea as vacation destinations. Other Atlanta commissions include the poster for the 1984 Piedmont Arts Festival and a set of five murals for an office building at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta.

The Savannah College of Art and Design commissioned Connatser to design its first logo and a floor mural for the original library, which was located in Poetter Hall. The 36-by-64 mural dominated the reading room. Designed by Connatser and executed with the help of students, it depicts a chair, books, and an apple. The library eventually outgrew the space and relocated to another part of campus, but the mural is part of the administrative offices that are now located there.

Although he was an artist out of the mainstream, Connatser achieved wide regional recognition during his lifetime. In 1974 he was a guest artist at Coker College in South Carolina, and in 1975 he was included in a Georgia Public Television documentary about up-and-coming artists. He created 2,500 paintings, 800 drawings, and many murals in a career that lasted about three decades.

Connatser died of AIDS in 1996, and the only retrospective exhibition of his work, Southern Melodies, was held at the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah in 2002. His work is represented in numerous private collections and at the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Telfair Museum of Art, and the Morris Museum of Art, which is the residuary beneficiary of the Connatser estate.

Where is this place?

This is an old photograph for this edition's Mystery Photo, one from the Internet. But can you tell us where this is? Think about it, and send in your idea to, along with where you live.

Last week our clues may have caused some readers to wander in their thoughts, and therefore not recognize what Ross Powell of Snellville recognized as right here at home, when he sent, " The Chesser-Williams House is one of the last remaining faces of Gwinnett County's history. Built in the 1850s by an unknown individual, the most significant aspect of the house is the stenciled paintings in the interior and exterior of the home. This art work was created by a German itinerant painter in exchange for room and board, and at this time, his identity remains unknown.

"In 2008, the home was donated by Jerald and Sue Williams to the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center Foundation to be used as a living history museum. The structure has been moved to the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center campus. It is being restored and will provide hands-on education. This treasure of Gwinnett County will serve as the epicenter of the Center's cultural and heritage education program. Gardening practices, blacksmithing techniques and other cultural and environmental topics of research and programming will be pursued." Also recognizing the structure was Marsha Bomar, Duluth.


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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 Wars Should Not Be Entrusted to the Military

"War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military."

-- Two-time French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau (1841 - 1929).




(NEW) Remembrance Festival at Historic Gwinnett Courthouse in Lawrenceville, Saturday, November 8 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. A breakfast at 8:30 a.m. will include guest speakers and the unveiling of the Eyes of Freedom Memorial in the Historic Superior Court Ball Room. Re-Enactors will also be present, and tours will be given of the Gwinnett Veterans Memorial Museum. Food will be available throughout the day.

Comedy Feast at the Live Arts Theatre at Gwinnett Place Mall, Saturday, November 8 at 8 p.m. New production with the Angst Giving Comedy Feast. Tickets are $10. The theatre is located in the former Belk's Store space. For more information, visit this website or call 678-464-0115.

Solo pianist John Burke will perform at Christ the King Church, 5575 Peachtree Parkway, on November 8 at 7 p.m. He will perform selections from his new album, Chirality. This will be a program of asymmetry, pertaining to mirrored images. Burke infuses this exciting technique throughout his new album.

(NEW) Honoring Veterans will be the theme of a Providence Christian Academy program on Monday, November 10, at 8 a.m. at the school's main gymnasium. More information is available online.

Bestselling Author Rick Bragg will speak November 13 at 7 p.m. at the Red Clay Theatre. His subject will be his new book, Jerry Lee Lewis, His Own Story. Tickets are $5. A medley of Lewis' songs will be performed by Kurt Scobie prior to the Bragg appearance. The Red Clay Theatre is located at 3116 Main Street, Duluth. For more information visit or call 770-978-5154. Bragg is now a writing professor with the University of Alabama Journalism program. The program is presented as a partnership between Gwinnett County Public Library and Eddie Owens Presents.

Men of any age who would enjoy being a part of an "A Capella Experience," set aside Tuesday, November 18, at 7 p.m. to pay a visit to The Stone Mountain Chorus of the Barbershop Harmony Society at a special guest night program. It will be at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church, 4480 Peachtree Corners Circle in Peachtree Corners. For more details, call at 770-978-8053 or visit

Exhibit of eight artists continues through December 2 at George Pierce Park Community Center in Suwanee. Eight female artists will showcase their talents, including watercolor, acrylic, oil, color pencil, mixed media, collage, and pen and ink with color pencil. For more information, call 678-277-0910.


1/9: Gov's inaugural party
1/6: Our continuing objectives

12/31: Fun board game
12/23: Good news on Cuba
12/19: CIA's atrocities
12/16: Muddy, hilly roads
12/12: Drop box regulation
12/9: On philanthropy
12/5: Humor, writing contest
12/2: Simpsonwood save is good

11/25: Snellville bell tower
11/21: Remembering Carl Sanders
11/18: Talmadge House
11/14: Churchill paintings
11/11: Hudson cruise
11/7: Why it was a GOP year
11/4: Another election a possibility


1/9: Jones: Black-eyed peas
1/6: Berlo: NLT's choreopoem

12/31: Leonard: Andersonville tour
12/23: Havens: Rotary club's charity
12/19: Aurora wins big
12/16: Yarber: Safe harbor bill
12/12: Arrington: Hunger challenge
12/9: Preston: Lilburn mural
12/5: Witte: Simmons Building
12/2: Putnam: PC's community study

11/25: Okun: Robotic bariatric surgery
11/21: Calmes: Special Nutcracker
11/18: Urrutia: Primerica scholarships
11/14: Jones: GGC's growth
11/11: Johnson: Tesla ownership
11/7: New Brenau joint degree program
11/4: Two shows of A Christmas Carol


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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