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TODAY'S PHOTO: Gwinnett Tech named its GOAL winner recently. (See story below). GTC President Dr. D. Glen Cannon (center) is with, left to right, Lauren Pelletier, 2015 GOAL winner; and other finalists Michael Nichol, Kereida Thomas, and Amanda McKeel.

Issue 14.68 | Nov. 21, 2014

:: GBT's sensory show

:: On Gov. Carl Sanders

Enjoyed Hudson story

Gwinnett Place, more

GOAL winner, upcycling

:: Mingledorff's

:: Plaque on wall

:: Hardwick native appointed

:: Not much to go on

:: Creative signage


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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"Sensory friendly" performance of The Nutcracker set for Dec. 5
Special to GwinnettForum
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DULUTH, Ga., Nov. 21, 2014 -- Gwinnett Ballet Theatre (GBT) is adding a new performance to its lengthy series of performances for children of all ages this holiday season. A "Sensory Friendly" performance of The Nutcracker will be held on Friday, Dec. 5, at 11:45 a.m. at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center.

GBT joins with the Hirsch Academy and ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Atlanta Chapter) to create this opportunity to celebrate neurodiversity in a safe and helpful atmosphere. Children and adults who may be sensitive to their environments will find this Nutcracker to be a welcoming experience.

Mary Grace Manton (center) to dance in Nutcracker

This event will be previewed in a segment on WSB-TV's People 2 People program on Sunday, Nov. 30 at 6:30 a.m.

A donation of $6 per person (teachers are free) is suggested to attend the performance. Reservations can be made by contacting Gwinnett Ballet Theatre at 404-237-0046. There is also a special order form which can be obtained by contacting the Hirsch Academy at 404-378-9706.

Celebrating all children and embracing all differences, this performance will be produced with a few changes so that all can enjoy it to the maximum. The performance itself has been shortened to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The house lights will be raised a bit so that it will not be completely dark. The music accompaniment for the dancers will also be lowered to avoid loud, unexpected noises.

Audience members will also be free to move about, clap, cheer and enjoy the performance. Should anyone prefer not to go into the theatre, a viewing area in the lobby with a large screen TV will be available. Respectful ushers and staff will provide a helpful and safe setting for all who come.

This performance came about as an idea of Jennifer Manton, whose daughter Mary Grace is a GBT dancer and whose son, Davis, is a student at the Hirsch Academy.

She says: "Mary Grace has been dancing since the age of three so Davis has had plenty of opportunities to experience the ballet. Unfortunately, due to his sensory differences and traditional theatre expectations, he has not been able to fully enjoy this live performance experience. As with Sensory Friendly movies and concerts, I know that if he has the opportunity to sing, dance and move about during the ballet, he will be hooked.

"We are excited for this opportunity for GBT, the Hirsch Academy, and ASAN (Atlanta Chapter). I believe both the viewers and dancers will walk away with a newfound love and appreciation for ballet and how, with just a few simple adjustments, the performing arts can be made available to all children and adults in our community."

As the theatre seats only 650 individuals, reservations for this event are very important to procure in advance. Call 770-237-0046 or 404-378-9706 for tickets.

Remembering Carl Sanders, who brought Georgia out of Dark Ages

Editor and publisher |

NOV. 21, 2014 -- It was a relatively young (37 year old) senator from Augusta with modern ideas who brought Georgia out from under the influences of the Talmadge machine, when he became governor in 1963. Carl Sanders brought modern politics to the state, moved the state to new heights and set the tone for forwardness and moderation that, indeed, made Georgia the capitol of the New South.


He ran against a key Talmadge protégé, and former governor, Marvin Griffin, a staunch segregationist. We remember it well. We were in our third week as publisher of the Wayne County Press in Jesup, when we endorsed his candidacy for governor. Sanders was our choice as a progressive, where his opponent, Mr. Griffin, was an old-school throwback. That made it easy for us to endorse him in his bid for the governorship.

Essentially, it was the fall of the county unit system earlier that year that allowed Carl Sanders, who died this week, to become governor of Georgia. The county unit system was declared invalid in April of 1962.

Here's how the county unit system worked. Election was not by who polled the most popular votes. The eight largest counties in the state were given six county units; the next 30 counties were given four unit votes; and the remaining 121 rural counties got only two unit votes each. The candidate that won the most in any county got all of that county's "unit votes." The second place finisher in any county got absolutely no county unit votes at all.

So the candidates focused their campaigning in the smaller counties, since if they won the smaller 121 counties, they would carry 242 county unit votes. If a popular person won the large and middle-sized counties, they would have 48 county unit votes from the big cities (8x6), and 120 county unit votes from the middle sized counties (30x4), but wind up with only 168 county unit votes and lose the election.


As an example, in the 1946 governor' race, Atlanta's James Carmichael got the most popular votes, 313,389, while Gene Talmadge won 297,245 votes. But Talmadge got exactly 242 county unit votes (all the small counties) being named the winner, while Carmichael scored only 146 county unit votes.

The county unit system (from out of the 1917 Nell Primary Act) meant that Georgia was dominated in politics by the smaller counties. The Talmadge Machine recognized this and used it for years to control the state.

But a lawsuit in 1962 recognized that this meant a vote in the larger and mid-sized areas was not equal to a vote in the smaller counties. The upshot was a declaration that every vote was to be given equal weight regardless of where in the state a voter lived. This moved Georgia to the present era and changed the state.

Carl Sanders was the first candidate to benefit from this distinction. He won 58 percent of the vote in the primary to Griffin's 39 percent, while three lesser candidates got 3 percent.

Carl Sanders would run a second time, in 1970, against Jimmy Carter. We had supported Carter in his first race in 1966, but didn't like his politics the second time, and we endorsed Sanders again. Carter won. We've often wondered what would have happened had Carter not won that race, and Sanders had.

Carl Sanders: 1925-2014: May you rest in peace.


The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's featured sponsor is Mingledorff's, an air conditioning distributor of the Carrier Air Conditioning Company. Mingledorff's corporate office is located at 6675 Jones Mill Court in Norcross Ga. and is proud to be a sponsor of the GwinnettForum. With 34 locations in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina, Mingledorff's is the convenient local source with a complete line for the quality heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration parts and supplies you need to service and install HVAC/R equipment. Product lines include Carrier, Bryant, Payne, Totaline and Mitsubishi.

Enjoyed reading about cruise in her native New York area

Editor, the Forum:

Thanks so much for sharing your Hudson River cruise experience. My husband and I grew up in Cornwall-on-Hudson (just a tad north of West Point) and although Georgia has been home for almost 25 years; we never tire of seeing those magnificent mountains of the Hudson Highlands. Our families still live there, so we get to visit our hometown a few times a year.

Growing up with so much history of West Point being our neighbor, as well as critical Revolution-era battles and events, it was hard to put it all in perspective and appreciate until we moved away --- which I believe is a natural occurrence when anyone grows up around something historic or important.

My cousin and her husband work with the Clearwater Sloop, a ship and foundation that was started by Pete Seeger to bring attention to the beauty and care of the mighty Hudson.

I'm glad you got to visit the Roosevelt home as well as West Point. Thank you for paying tribute to a small, but important area of our United States.

-- Mary K. Taylor, Peachtree Corners

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.

Gwinnett Place CID adds higher public safety presence

As a continued effort to keep shoppers, businesses and affiliates safe this holiday season, the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (CID) is once again increasing the public safety presence throughout Greater Gwinnett Place area.

In time for the busy holiday shopping season, extra private security professionals contracted by the CID will expand upon the current seven-day patrols. The added measures will continue for a six-week period during the balance of 2014.

Uniformed professional public safety personnel from Paradigm Security Services, Inc. will monitor retail centers, high-traffic areas and other Gwinnett Place area businesses, according to CID Executive Director Joe Allen. He says: "Gwinnett Place offers a very unique experience. We have received very positive feedback from shoppers and businesses with the added security presence in the past. We are continuing these efforts to ensure that Gwinnett Place is a fun, exciting and safe destination for everyone this season."

The public safety officers operate in close cooperation with Gwinnett County Police to notify law enforcement of any potential criminal activity. Officers will use vehicles bearing CID markings.

County contracts for wellness center for employees, retirees

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners have approved a contract to operate a wellness center for employees and retirees. Healthstat Inc. manages more than 300 centers across the nation and is accredited by the National Committee of Quality Assurance in wellness and health promotion. Locally, the company operates Cobb County's employee health center.

Gwinnett County Human Resources Director Scott Fuller says: "The wellness center will play an important role in assisting our employees to better manage their health and health-improvement efforts."

The facility, to be located on the second floor of the Gwinnett County Government Annex Building at 750 South Perry Street in Lawrenceville, will have a multipurpose room for training and wellness activities plus five exam rooms, a laboratory, a dispensary and office space for medical and wellness program staff.

At a meeting earlier this month, commissioners awarded a $666,500 construction contract to low bidder Beatty Construction Inc., which includes build-out of approximately 5,000 square feet for the center. The project also includes renovation work on restrooms and other public areas of the building.

The wellness center will be a cooperative venture between Healthstat and the County's health insurance and other benefit providers. All Gwinnett County employees, retirees and their dependents age 18 and older who are enrolled in one of the county's medical plans will be eligible for services and treatment at the Center.

Suwanee moving holiday kickoff to Town Center Park this year

After ringing in the holiday season and welcoming Santa in historic Old Town for about two decades, the City of Suwanee has made the bittersweet decision to move its annual holiday celebration to Town Center Park. The former Caboose Lighting is now Suwanee's Jolly Holly-day Celebration. The holiday event will still be at 6:30 p.m. Friday, December 5, but at Town Center Park instead of on Main Street.

On the Town Center stage, several elementary school choruses - from Burnette, Level Creek, Riverside, Roberts, and Suwanee - will perform favorite holiday tunes from around the globe. Sounds of Suwanee performers from the Suwanee Academy of the Arts also will perform.

Craft activities and free hot chocolate, cookies, and s'mores will be available while supplies last. And, of course, the jolly ol' elf himself will be the guest of honor and will magically light the Christmas tree at Town Center Park.

Lane to become Grayson community development director


Gail Lane has joined the city as its Community Development Director. She will begin in this new position on January 1, 2015. Lane previously served as manager of the Grayson Downtown Development Authority since 2013 and will continue in her capacity as Grayson's Main Street Manager as she assumes the additional duties of Community Development Director. Lane will oversee and manage events, promotions, and the Grayson Arts and History Center.

Lane brings the experience of one who is already involved in Grayson events and activities. She has spent the last year training on behalf of Main Street Grayson while serving as the city's representative on several boards.
Mayor Allison Wilkerson says: "I'm confident that Gail's knowledge, talent and commitment will benefit our city. I am pleased to see her taking on a bigger role for Team Grayson."

Snellville student Pelletier is Gwinnett Tech GOAL winner

Lauren Pelletier, a healthcare science student, is the winner of Gwinnett Technical College's 2015 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL). As Gwinnett Tech's GOAL winner, Pelletier will continue on to the statewide GOAL competition. The state's GOAL winner serves as the student ambassador for technical education in Georgia.

The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) sponsors the GOAL program, which recognizes outstanding technical college students and honors excellence in academics and leadership. Local GOAL winners are selected at each of the state's 23 technical colleges.

Pelletier, from Snellville, was nominated by Biology instructor Margaret Long. "Lauren's wonderful disposition and attention to her work make her a welcome addition to the classroom. She has a noticeable presence and tremendous leadership potential that will make her an excellent representative of Gwinnett Technical College," says Long. Pelletier plans to study Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and Long foresees a bright career for her student. "I am confident that Lauren will be successful in attaining her educational goals and will make an admirable and caring healthcare professional," she added.

Gwinnett Tech's other GOAL finalists include:

  • Amanda McKeel, from Suwanee, a Medical Assisting student;
  • Michael Nichol, from Duluth, a Criminal Justice student; and
  • Keredia Thomas, from Lawrenceville, a Nursing student.

Consider "upcycling" as part of your holiday activities

In this upcoming holiday season, the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center (EHC) encourages you to get in touch with your "green" side and consider "upcycling" as a part of your holiday activities.

You can learn all about upcycling and enjoy lots of festive fun at the annual EHC Green Your Holiday Festival on Tuesday, November 25, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Program fees for the Green Your Holiday Festival are $5 for ages 13 and up and $ 3 for ages three to 12. Children two and under and EHC members are free.

Jason West, EHC's director of programming, explains: "Upcycling refers to the use of old, reusable or recycled goods to make something new and exciting. Guests at our Green Your Holiday Festival will enjoy turning leftover materials into great holiday crafts and potential gifts."

Participants will have science with Santa activities, tram rides around the EHC campus, seasonal crafts and games and viewing the popular Tech City engineering exhibit. There will also be an opportunity to make a special Chesser-Williams House ornament to commemorate the recent dedication of the newest addition to the EHC campus, as well as enjoy a festive exterior tour of the historic home.

In conjunction with the event, the EHC's Gift Shop and Brewed Café will hold a Holiday Open House and Arts and Crafts Market. For more information on the Green Your Holiday Festival and the Open House and Arts and Crafts Market, visit

GwinnettForum needs recommendations from its readers

Why have GwinnettForum readers stopped sending in their recommendations, for books, movies, places to eat….or even recommendations for travel? There are no recommendations left in our files. So get busy and send in what you can recommend to us.

  • An invitation: 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

Usery from Hardwick is first Georgian to be Secretary of Labor

W. J. "Bill" Usery Jr. became the first Georgian to serve as Secretary of Labor when U.S. President Gerald Ford appointed him to that position in 1976. During his illustrious career, Usery received five appointments, by both Democratic and Republican presidents, to serve the national interest in resolving labor-management disputes.

Willie Julian Usery Jr. was born on December 21, 1923, in Hardwick (Baldwin County). He attended Georgia Military College and Mercer University. From 1943 to 1946, he served aboard the USS Tutuila in the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet.

In 1948 Usery began working for the Armstrong Cork Company in Macon as a maintenance machinist and remained there until 1956. He joined the International Association of Machinists (IAM; later the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers), AFL-CIO Local 918; he then became a founding member of Local 8 and held a series of local union posts, including the presidency.

From 1956 to 1969, Usery served as an IAM Grand Lodge representative. His first assignment was as the IAM's special representative at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Test Facilities in 1956. From 1961 to 1967, he was the union's representative on the President's Missile Sites Labor Committee at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He was the coordinator for union activities at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Te. Usery also assisted in forming the Cape Kennedy Labor-Management Relations Council in 1967 and became its chairman in 1968.

In 1969 U.S. president Richard Nixon appointed Usery as the assistant secretary of labor for labor-management relations. In 1970 Usery helped to resolve a postal strike by persuading Nixon to name a blue ribbon commission that was acceptable to both parties. From this commission grew the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, which officially created the U.S. Postal Service and gave its workers the right of collective bargaining.

Usery served as director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, 1973-74; special assistant to the president for labor-management affairs, 1974; and special assistant to the president for labor-management negotiations, 1975-77. On January 22, 1976, U.S. president Gerald Ford nominated Usery to be Secretary of Labor. In this position, he continued to use his mediation skills, preventing some disputes and resolving others, including the longest strike ever staged in the rubber industry and a potentially crippling trucking strike. Usery's reputation for understanding real-world workplace issues and negotiations served him well during his year as secretary of labor.

After his term was over, Usery founded Bill Usery Associates Incorporated, a Washington-based firm specializing in promoting cooperative labor-management relations and innovative human resource strategies. Usery facilitated the negotiations between General Motors Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation that established the New United Motor Manufacturing, Incorporated in 1984. This first-ever joint venture between an American car company and a Japanese car company created more than 2,500 jobs at GM's plant in Fremont, Calif.

From 1993 to 1995 Usery served on the Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations and was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton as special mediator for the major league baseball dispute. In 1997 Georgia State University established the W. J. Usery Jr. Center for the Workplace in his honor, with the mission of helping organizations "find innovative solutions to workplace problems and issues." The center closed in early 2010.

Mr. Usery, who will celebrate his 91st birthday next month, is retired in Milledgeville.

Look hard and think hard on this one

Recognize this? It may take some looking hard and thinking hard to understand where this Mystery Photo is. When you figure it out, send your thoughts to and be sure to include your hometown.

The last Mystery Photo came from Frank Sharp of Lawrenceville, and was a mystery indeed to all but two people.

Several thought it was an old photo of Atlanta, or Chicago. The first to send in the correct answer was Rick Edinger of Lawrenceville, who had an aunt who once lived in San Diego, Calif., so he had a reason to recognize the street. Then came Ruthy Lachman Paul of Norcross, who told us the picture was "Looking to North 5th Street in San Diego, Calif. The 10 store building is the First National Bank at 5th and Broadway."

Big "Attaboys" to these two sharp-eyed readers.

Clever signage

Another way to promote the upcoming performance of your daughter being in the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre is to place a yard sign in your home, as the Mantons did as they daughter Mary Grace is to dance soon. (See Today's item, above.) This sign was spotted in front of the Manton house in Norcross.


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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.


Prime professional office space

If you're wanting to relocate your professional office to the Peachtree Corners, Norcross or Johns Creek area, you need to see this space. It's located in Technology Park, offers 4,770 square feet, and has its own easily recognized, private entranceway in a well-maintained, beautiful office location. There's plenty of parking, and the building is situated well back from the street, with the office overlooking a beautiful wooded area with lake. This office space should go fast, so call 770-925-0111 before someone else grabs it. Ask for Lisha Stuckey.


The City of Lilburn Tree Lighting ceremony is Tuesday, December 2 at 7 p.m. The city's parade is scheduled for December 6 at 10 a.m. We regret the information published before was incorrect. --eeb

What Regular Brushing Could Have Prevented

"Regular brushing could have prevented this plaque."

-- Wall sign in the office of Lilburn dentist, Dr. Laura Kleinschmidt.




(NEW) Christmas in the (Peachtree) Corners is an all day affair November 22, starting with a parade at 10 a.m. The celebration continues through 5 p.m. with arts and crafts booths on Woodhill Drive at The Corners Parkway. Visit Santa's Workshop and enjoy the food trucks in the area. The grand marshal of the parade is Retiring Gwinnett County Police Chief Charlie Walters.

Bestselling author John Connolly will speak on November 22 at 7 p.m. at the Norcross Cultural Arts Center. The event is free. The author will be signing "The Wolf in Winter," the latest in his Charlie Parker thriller series. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Connolly has won the Shamus, the Agatha, the Edgar and Anthony awards for his writings. The event is sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public Library.

(NEW) Anne Byrn, the bestselling author of The Cake Mix Doctor series of cookbooks, is the Gwinnett Library's Meet the Author series next presentation. She will appear on Wednesday, December 3 at 6:30 p.m.. at the Peachtree Corners branch, located at 5570 Spaulding Drive The event is free and open to the public, with books available for sale and signing.

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.

(NEW) Duluth's 36th Annual Tree Lighting will be Saturday, December 6, near city hall and will kick off at 4 p.m. There will be activities including arts and crafts and other events before the lighting at 6 p.m. BB Harris Elementary and Duluth High School Chorus sing holiday classics. Santa and his reindeer will be present.

(NEW) Sugar Hill's Tree Lighting will start at 5:30 p.m. on December 6 at the Bowl, behind City Hall. Anticipated among the activities will be ice skating, trains, music, food, hot drinks and the annual Tree Lighting, plus of course, Santa. The event will last until 8:30 p.m.


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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