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ROBUST REDS: We’ve learned again that you don’t have to take a drive to the Northeast USA, or even to North Georgia, to find colorful leaf locations. Drive around Gwinnett, and you can find several locations where developers, or even the county, has planted often non-native trees which burst out in color at this time of year. For instance, these colorful maple leaves are located at the Pinckneyville Community Recreational Center at 4650 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, in Berkeley Lake. So if you want to see colorful leaves, now’s the time to do it for about the next two weeks. Get out and ramble and enjoy. (Photo by Andy Brack.)

Issue 14.65 | Nov. 11, 2014

:: Driving all-electric Tesla

:: Cruising up the Hudson

Headed in wrong direction

Lilburn marshal, more

Grant, top park award

:: Peach State Federal Credit Union

:: Don't get what deserve

:: Restoration Movement

:: Wow! Look at all who recognized Rushmore

:: Dreamy groundbreaking


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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Tesla owner finds this "green" automobile is great fun to drive
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NORCROSS, Ga., Nov. 11, 2014 -- I am the enthusiastic owner of a new Tesla automobile!  I am the Mayor of Norcross, which is Certified Gold as a Green Community by the ARC.  As a member of the Board of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, I was interested in doing my part for the environment, but I did not realize it would be so much fun!

Johnson with his Tesla

I get many questions about my Model S because it has only been produced for a year.  I designed the features I wanted in the vehicle. There were many options, including upgraded stereo, moon roof, the dashboard, two seats for the trunk, different wheels and color, etc.

I put in the electronics packages, trunk unlocking, and raised suspension. I thought the standard sound system was awesome, so I didn’t pick an upgrade there. All this came as I financed and purchased the vehicle online. It took about two months to produce and deliver it to the dealer in Marietta, back when there was no dealer in Atlanta.

It took them two hours to go through the features and explain the charging procedure of the electric vehicle. The wait was worth it.

Tesla is made in the USA and is 100 percent electronic driven, with a range of 208 or 285 miles, depending on which model you purchase. It seats five and there is an optional seat that can be added in back to carry two others.  It is not inexpensive to purchase, but the operating cost and tax benefits are impressive. 

The actual cost was $81,000. There is a $7,500 federal tax credit and a $5,000 Georgia tax credit.  The cost of electricity for an entire year is estimated at $650. I have found that my monthly electricity bill at home now runs about $45 a month higher because of the charging of the car. (You can get, but I did not, a super charger for about $2,500 more, which charges the battery in about an hour.) I simply plug it in at night, and it’s fully charged the next morning. I have a 220 outlet in my garage that fully charges my car in about seven hours.  Tesla is putting quick charge stations all over the country that will charge the car to 50 percent in 20 minutes and 100 percent in an hour. It can be charged at a slower rate at any electric charging station.

When previously driving a gasoline-powered car, I usually drove about 1,000 miles a month.

A Tesla is fun to drive for a number of reasons.  The first is that it can go from 0-60 miles per hour in less than five seconds.  In addition, it has a 17 inch touch screen control module with on board Internet and plenty of bells and whistles like Slacker Radio, Google GPS and sync for phone, contacts and calendar.  It handles and rides like a luxury sports car and the styling is exceptional.

Tesla is in the news again for a newer version that is all-wheel drive and goes zero to 60 miles per hour in just over three seconds – amazing! That’s tempting, but I think I will keep mine for a while. If you ever get the opportunity to test drive one, watch out! You may find that you have as much fun as I do.

Cruise up the Hudson River turns up several surprises

Editor and publisher |

NOV. 11, 2014 -- A recent cruise up the Hudson River had an unexpected outcome, filling in on my understanding of the initial industrial development of our country.


For the last two years, we have enjoyed river cruises in France and Portugal. So this October we turned to a cruise up the Hudson. We were on American Cruise Lines, with one of the features regular lectures on important aspects of the Hudson. We also thought that cruising in October would mean colorful leaf scenes, which was somewhat disappointing. At river level, you just don’t see the colorful trees you would see at a higher elevation.

Sea level elevation was one of our surprises of the trip. The Hudson River at Troy, N.Y., some 157 miles up river from New York City, is roughly the same as at New York. The ocean tides actually affect the water level in Albany and Troy. We never knew that! It’s one of the reasons on Sept. 3, 1609 that Henry Hudson could easily sail into the internal up country, as the river runs deep and with no rapids or obstructions.

It also allowed the riches of the interior of the state, first raw products, and later manufactured goods, to get a worldwide market. This mystified us, then gave us a greater understanding of the early industrialization of our country. This also led to the enormous wealth of early manufacturers, having a ready market for their goods.

Two key sights along the river are Hyde Park, home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. We took a bus from the ship to those places.

A bronzed Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt statue on the grounds of the Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, N.Y.

Hyde Park has both the Roosevelt home, and the Roosevelt Library just a short walk apart. You can slightly see the Hudson River from the house. We learned that the Roosevelt Library was the first of the presidential libraries, and was dedicated on June 30, 1941, with FDR actually as the speaker at the opening. A history buff could easily spend a day at the home and at the library. Some people are surprised at the size of the Roosevelt home, not extremely large, but larger than most houses of that day. It seemed a comfortable place for the president, having been modified with its own elevator where the president could pull himself with ropes to the second floor. The home is supposed to be just as the president left it on his death, with the house now part of the historic site.

We visited the Military Academy on a cold, rainy day, getting off the bus only to visit the student chapel and visitor center. Traveling on a bus through the grounds, you get a feel of the military life for students. It’s definitely a campus for study and work, with little space (or time) for casual campus life as at other colleges.

Overall, we enjoyed the cruise. It can be as relaxing or strenuous as you want. The best part may be the way the ship eliminates having to seek a restaurant while on a vacation. You get great choices on the menu, and as one veteran cruiser told us, if you don’t want what is on the menu, why, the staff will cook something else for you. One day I had a simple hamburger when the other items were not to my liking.

Cruising is not for everyone. But for many, it’s a pleasant way to see more of an area, while you are being pampered. We enjoyed the Hudson tour.

Peach State Federal Credit Union

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Feels America senses nation headed in the wrong direction

Editor, the Forum:

I take issue with your comment, "Republican political operatives clearly convinced the electorate that the leadership by the President is missing." Actually, the president convinced the electorate that his leadership is missing. Examples: his public appearance expressing sadness on the ISIS beheading of a young American journalist, followed by a gleeful round of golf; the admission he had no strategy against ISIS; his assurance Ebola would never make it to our shores.

Americans sense our nation is headed in the wrong direction. We see traditional marriage weakened, faith mocked, patriotism ridiculed. We see free speech weakened through political correctness, a political class intent upon dividing us as a people, and half-baked Progressive ideas imposed on us as if we were children who cannot decide for ourselves.

Furthermore, Americans feel anguished over the health care debacle, an economy still struggling from the Great Recession, and a frightening influx of illegal immigrants, many of whom bring disease, drugs, criminal intent, and maybe even terrorism into the heart of our nation.

Meanwhile, political operatives race-bait, engage in class warfare, and accuse Republicans of a war against women. This election repudiated those claims AND the operatives who declared them.

Nonetheless, Republicans stand on shaky grounds if they don't fight for the clear message voters sent them. In fact, it is detrimental to both parties if they fail to realize that the American people have found their voice.

-- Debra Houston, Lilburn

Dear Debra: My thoughts were more in line with the great outpouring of attack advertisements in the last week of the campaign, financed by the GOP. That’s why I called them “operatives.” The key GOP figures were on the sidelines, but the PAC-powered attack ads, all funded by the virtually-anonymous organizations, were especially busy. I’ll agree that the weakened Obama Administration didn’t help any.--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.

Arcado Principal Penny Young to be Lilburn yule parade marshal

Arcado Elementary School Principal Penny Palmer Young will serve as Grand Marshal of the 2014 Lilburn Christmas Parade.


Arcado Elementary was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Education as a winner of the 2014 Green Ribbon Schools Sustainability Award. Arcado was one of only two schools in the state of Georgia to receive this honor. Principal Young, a graduate of Brookwood High School, has worked at the school for five years.

The annual Lilburn Christmas Parade will take place on Saturday, December 6. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and will move along Main Street to City Hall. Parade applications are due by November 14 at 5 p.m.

Following the parade, children will have the opportunity to have professional pictures taken with Santa. Other holiday events include the City’s annual tree lighting, which will take place on Tuesday, December 2 at 7 p.m. In addition to the lighting of the tree, the Lilburn Middle School Chorus will provide live entertainment, and holiday coloring contest winners will be announced.

GGC student wins national award toward becoming a doctor

Georgia Gwinnett College student Stephany Sifuentes, 23, plans to be a surgeon and does not shy away from the hard work required to make her dream a reality. That work includes college, meeting family obligations and working at the Panda Express near the Mall of Georgia in Buford. Sifuentes was recently named one of only 50 company employees nationwide to earn one of the Panda Restaurant Group’s Panda Leaders awards, which provides $2,000 toward college tuition and fees.


“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” said the freshman biology major. “It is the one career that has kept my interest.”

In 2001, Sifuentes’ family moved from Texas to Lawrenceville. She graduated from high school in 2012 and spent the next two years caring for her younger brother and working. A three-year veteran at Panda Express, she worked her way up to assistant manager and often exceeds 40 hours per week.

Sifuentes cites her family’s support and work ethic are particularly meaningful in keeping her medical school dream alive along the way. In 2014, she enrolled at Georgia Gwinnett College – the first member of her family to pursue a bachelor’s degree. She says: “I am very impressed with GGC. The faculty are all so helpful and willing to provide guidance. GGC is also affordable, which is very important for me.”

Despite her long work hours and family obligations, Sifuentes maintains excellent grades, which she knows will be key to getting into medical school. In fact, she strategically makes scheduling decisions to ensure that her studies do not suffer. “I particularly appreciate how my employer is so supportive of my working toward a college education,” she said. “In fact, my manager even encouraged me to apply for a Panda Leader award.”

Duluth accepting nominiations for 7th LEAD class

The seventh installment of Duluth’s LEAD (Learn, Engage, Advance Duluth) Academy is to begin on February 5, 2015. It will consist of six Thursday evening sessions held from 6 to 9 p.m., with one Monday meeting. Sessions will take place at City Hall. A light dinner/snacks will be provided each week

Citizens will engage when they are armed with good information and LEAD provides that foundation. Enrollees will be empowered to help address community issues when they understand how each can help. This program will provide insight into the decision making process and provide an avenue for participants to help advance the community to a better future. The deadline for applications is January 5, 2015.

Wells Fargo makes $1,000 grant to The IMPACT! Group

The IMPACT! Group was honored by Wells Fargo with a $1,000 grant at the Days of Giving celebration in North Atlanta recently at the Marriott Perimeter Center. Wells Fargo Area President Scott Asher, who led the ceremony, is shown with Tom Merkel of The IMPACT Group. “To some a $1,000 grant may seem small,”Asher said, “but we know each of these great groups will be able to make a huge difference with this,” he said. “And collectively this will have a major impact in our community.” Merkel said: “These funds will go directly to the operations of our IMPACT! For Vets program, which provides a complete spectrum of housing options as well as financial literacy for our Veterans and their family members. Of the 48,000 veterans who live in Gwinnett County, approximately 3,600 of them are facing serious housing issues or homelessness.”

Parks Association recognizes Gwinnett having top park agency

The Georgia Recreation and Park Association has recognized Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation as the number one park agency in the state serving populations of 150,001 during the group’s annual conference held November 3-6 in Jekyll Island, Ga.
Gwinnett County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state and among the most culturally diverse in the Southeast. Gwinnett Parks and Recreation Operations Director Tina Fleming said, “Gwinnett has risen to the challenge of serving a growing community and one that is becoming increasingly diverse through public-private partnerships, alternative funding mechanisms, creative planning, design and development and resident input.”
Gwinnett County took home three other awards. GRPA recognized Kidsplosion for outstanding minority programming. The organization is one of Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation’s community partners and provides underserved areas with creative summer camp programs and connects the community with various programs within the park system. In addition, Jason Duncan won the Facilities and Grounds Distinguished Professional Award and the Aquatics Distinguished Professional Award went to Jason Cutchins.
“Kidsplosion helps us reach so many more children with recreation opportunities who may not otherwise be able to participate, and I am pleased they received this much-deserved recognition,” said Fleming. “And I am proud GRPA chose to recognize Jason Duncan and Jason Cutchins for their dedication to Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation and the exceptional service they provide to the residents of Gwinnett County every day.”

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

Restoration Movement of Protestants eventually leads to Georgia

The Restoration Movement began about 1800 by Protestants who wished to unify Christians after the pattern of the primitive New Testament church. Restorationism is an indigenous American religious movement that avoids creeds, declaring "no creed but Christ" in the hopes of bringing all Christians into accord with the New Testament pattern described in the book of Acts. Today numerous congregations in Georgia exist as the result of the Restoration Movement.

The Restoration Movement began in several places on the frontiers in Kentucky and southwest Pennsylvania. The success of the Cane Ridge Revival (a Kentucky camp meeting) persuaded Barton Warren Stone, who had taught school in Georgia, that all denominations needed to work together in order to reap the harvest of souls on the frontier. Together with several other ministers, he organized the "Christian" (or restoration) movement.

In 1807 Thomas Campbell, a Presbyterian minister of the Seceder Presbyterian Church of Scotland, immigrated to America. He had by this time adopted the idea of restoring the primitive church of the New Testament. After he was suspended from his Presbyterian ministry for practicing open communion, he formed the Christian Association of Washington (in Washington County, Penn.). In 1809 he published Declaration and Address, a treatise rejecting denominationalism. That same year Campbell's son Alexander (pictured at right) joined him in Pennsylvania after completing his studies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, where he had learned about the ideas of James Alexander Haldane and Robert Haldane regarding restorationism.

The Christian Association of Washington was reconstituted as the Brush Run Church, and by the summer of 1812 Alexander Campbell believed that the New Testament mode of baptism was by immersion. The Campbells joined the Redstone Baptist Association in 1813. The younger Campbell then began preaching and debating publicly throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and western Virginia.

In 1832 the "Campbellites," or Disciples of Christ, as they preferred to call themselves, joined with the "Christians," or followers of Stone, at Lexington, Ky., and grew rapidly. However, half of Stone's group did not join the new group, forming instead a Christian fellowship that merged nearly a century later, in 1931, with the (Puritan) Congregational Church (part of the United Church of Christ since 1957).

(To be continued)

Where is this specifically?

Many of you may have visited a similar site, where certain activities took place. Can you identify this specific site? Put on your thinking caps, and send your idea to, and be sure to include your hometown.

The last mystery photo was a real creampuff, indicated by the number of people responding. And many comments were great. Bob Foreman of Grayson was first in, saying: “The photo is of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This is the mountain that was turned into the sculpture of four famous presidents of the United States.” Then Karen Burnett Garner of Dacula added: “That looks like Mount Rushmore under construction!” She also reported on the previous mystery: “I didn't recognize the Chesser-Williams House!!! I previously drove by it every day (near where I live).  It looks wonderful! What an asset to Gwinnett!”

Others spotting the recent mystery picture were Rich Edinger, Lawrenceville; Elaine Morgan, Lawrenceville; Bill Baughman, Snellville; Rick Hammond, Duluth; Ross Lenhart, Pawley’s Island, S.C.; Richard Daneke, Duluth; and Lou Camerio, Lilburn, who said: “This is Mount Rushmore, before the dynamite.”

Ross Powell was right on one of his thoughts: “It is either Mt Rushmore or Crazy Horse Mountain before their respective carvings started, in the Black Hill of South Dakota, outside Rapid City.”

Lynn Naylor of Atlanta recognized Mount Rushmore, adding: “Obviously this pix was taken before the sculpture we know today had been completed showing the busts of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt (Teddy). Sculptor-designer John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum (1867–1941) was contracted in 1927 to carve the solid-granite memorial. Borglum conceived the model figures, brought them to life within the mountain's stone, and directed 400 artisans until his death in 1941. Later that year, his son Lincoln finished the project, which had spanned 14 years (6.5 years of actual carving) at a cost of $1 million.”

Other spotters of this eventual carving: Margot Ashley of Lilburn; Mimi Anderson of Peachtree Corners; and Tim Sullivan of Buford wasn’t quite sure, asking: “Would that be Mt Rushmore before the carvings were completed. There appears to be some dust in the air; perhaps the shot was taken after a blast?”

Others with the correct answer were Howard N. Williams, Jr., Snellville; Greg Baughman, Peachtree Corners; Michael Green, Milton; Harriet Nichols, Trickum; Tom King, Huntsville, Ala. (finally); Billy Chism, Cleveland; Gary Rowe of Lawrenceville; David Miller of Peachtree Corners and Hoyt Tuggle, of Lawrenceville.


A Dreamland Barbecue franchise restaurant broke ground on its new location in downtown Duluth. The City is demolishing a portion of the 60 year old Parson’s warehouse building on West Lawrenceville to make way for a 1,500 square foot addition attached to the remaining 5,000 square foot dry goods building. The 56 year old BBQ restaurant chain will create 100 new jobs in downtown Duluth.  Dreamland is expected to open operations sometime in 2015. At the groundbreaking were Patrick Hall and Tim Clark from Dreamland, Council member Jim Dugan, Betsy McAtee, CEO of Dreamland, Mayor Nancy Harris, Council members Billy Jones, Kelly Kelkenberg and Greg Whitlock, and city Economic Development Manager Chris McGahee.



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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.

You Don’t Always Get What You Deserve

“I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either.”

-- American comedian with that certain look, Jack Benny (1894 - 1974).




(NEW) Tribute to Veterans, Tuesday, November 11, at 11 a.m. at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville. The keynote address will be given by the Adjutant General for the state of Georgia, Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth. Honor guard units from the Gwinnett County Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Sheriff’s Departments and the Lawrenceville Police Department will also take part in the event. Gwinnett County residents who have served in any branch of the armed forces and their families are encouraged to attend and participate in the event.

(NEW) Art Demonstration: Wednesday, November 12, at 7 p.m. at Lilburn City Hall: The Lilburn Arts Alliance welcomes mixed media and watercolor artist Susie Schklar, who will demonstrate ways to become a more confident, colorful and creative artist. Working in contemporary and abstract form, Susie Schklar expresses her compositions on canvas and paper.

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.

(NEW) Open House at the Georgia Campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Friday, November 14, from 5:30 until 8 p.m. The campus is located at 625 Old Peachtree Road in Suwanee. For more information, call 678 225 7500. Register to attend the open house online here

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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