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: The City of Suwanee is accepting submissions through December 31 for its annual Snap! Suwanee photo competition. The competition provides a means for participants to share images that communicate something distinctive about the Suwanee community. Photos submitted to the competition should represent the Suwanee community in some way and ideally be taken within the City of Suwanee limits. Visit for additional guidelines and an entry form. Winning photographs will be exhibited, beginning in March 2015, for an approximately one-year period at City Hall. Karl Lamb took this photo, entitled "Colorful Cultural Sounds."

Issue 14.73 | Dec. 12, 2014

:: Two-town challenge

:: Drop box regulation

Confidence erodes

Mystery continues

Sugar Hill buys land

Brenau's new PhD

:: Heaven & Assoc., P.C.

:: The Cheeky

:: Being an actor

:: Georgia's estuaries

:: Savannah city hall

:: New grads


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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Snellville-Grayson challenge means giving hunger the boot
Special to Gwinnett Forum
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SNELLVILLE, Ga., Dec. 12, 2014 -- During the past three years, Give Hunger the Boot has helped raise more than $10,000 in food and financial donations for the Southeast Gwinnett Food Co-Operative.

Snellville Council Member Dave Emanuel and Grayson Mayor Allison Wilkerson.

Created by Snellville Council Member Dave Emanuel and his wife, Kathy, Give Hunger the Boot, which serves the area's needy, has worked primarily through promotions involving Snellville area businesses.

That's about to change -- in a big way.

Grayson Mayor Allison Wilkerson and the Grayson City Council and staff have challenged the City of Snellville to a donation-raising contest.

Wilkerson says: "I was thinking about ways to raise canned and dried food donations for the Co-Op and I thought, 'Why not a good old-fashioned challenge? Snellville has the Give Hunger the Boot program and that's perfect, so let's see which city can give hunger the biggest boot."

Snellville Council Member Emanuel welcomed the challenge. "Mayor Wilkerson has come up with a great idea that's a win for everybody," he said. "The Co-Op will receive a huge increase in donations at a time when they're needed most and win or lose, both Snellville and Grayson will have helped a great local cause. The Co-Op does an outstanding job helping families in the Snellville, Grayson and Loganville area Give Hunger the Boot."

The City Council and staff members of both cities will lead the charge by setting up drop-off stations, storing the food and delivering it to the Co-Op on Jan. 19. On that day, in honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, both cities will haul their donations to the Co-Op, where they will be counted and the winner declared. The loser will have to build a parade float and Council Members of both cities will ride on the float in the Snellville Days and Grayson Day parades.

The challenge is open to residents so anyone can participate by dropping off canned goods or dried foods at Snellville City Hall, 2342 Oak Road, Grayson City Hall, 475 Grayson Parkway, or any of the other drop off points established by the cities. For a list of locations, go to Give Hunger the Boot's Facebook page.

  • For more information, contact Snellville at (770) 985-3517 or Grayson at (770) 963-8017.

Hats off to City of Lilburn for action concerning drop boxes

Editor and publisher |

DEC. 12, 2014 -- Hurrah for the Mayor and City Council of Lilburn! They took action recently after seeing a problem fester for years. Other city councils within the county might want to look into the problem that Lilburn took action on.


It concerns unmarked "drop boxes." No, not the type some people use on the Internet, but those apparently innocuous, often wooden boxes located throughout Gwinnett County seeking residents to donate clothes, books, or other items. Many people make use of these boxes with items they don't need themselves, thinking others can use them, since the items may be in good condition.

Many of these apparently-simple drop boxes suggest to those donating items that they are giving these items to charitable institutions. That may be the case. However, these boxes can also serve to be a major source of items for unscrupulous commercial for-profit operators, who simply sell these used items. After all, these boxes in many locations are regulated in no way. They also do not add to the attractiveness of an area, and in some cases, are downright ugly, and often not well maintained.

Now the City of Lilburn is leading the way in their recognizing the need to regulate such collection boxes. The City Council, which voted 4-0 to move on this measure, will prohibit the boxes within the city limits. At present, the city has counted at least 20 drop boxes for clothing and other items in parking lots throughout the city. Some of these boxes are placed on private property without the consent of the business.

This is not the first time that the Council has considered the matter. Last year, in October of 2013, the Council noted the proliferation of these drop boxes and passed an ordinance limiting the number and size of drop boxes. They also required that each drop box require a $100 permit before they could be placed on property within the city. By regulating the boxes, the Council felt, the box's owner could be tracked and kept up with.

However, this ordinance did not have the desired effect of reducing their number around the city. Therefore, the city has moved to have the city staff recommend an ordinance for their prohibition, which should be voted on at the Jan. 12, 2015 meeting of the Council.

While some institutions using such boxes may be hit hard by this new prohibition, basically it's a good move by the city. After all, there are numerous charities around the county that offer to take clothes, old television sets and other items off the hands of people who do not want them, and make these items available to those in need. This move may actually serve to benefit the Salvation Army and other worthy charities, as people may turn to these agencies.

Here we have nothing more than a measure proposed that was caused by some questionable people pushing conventional bounds, and therefore causing new ordinances to be proposed. Many of our laws are on the books because of similar actions. That is a legitimate step that governments take when it finds impropriety.

Again, hats off to the Lilburn government for this proposal.

Heaven & Associates, P.C.

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Heaven & Associates, P.C., is a certified public accounting firm. They provide solutions for success. They are located at 4720 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Suite 201, Norcross, Georgia. The firm offers cloud services for accounting and payroll. They work with clients to minimize their tax obligations, address the financial and accounting needs of their businesses and address the broader accounting needs of estate planning, business succession planning, and benefit and retirement planning. They can be reached at 770-849-0078. Their web site is

  • For a list of other sponsors of this forum, go here.

Attacks on government part of strategy to erode confidence

Editor, the Forum:

Attacks on government are part of a deliberate strategy to reduce government by eroding public confidence in this institution.

This is the institution that should act in the public interest to control special interests from putting into effect laws and regulations against the country's best interests. Yet, recently, criticism has been leveled against government employees responsible for installing these complicated laws passed by Congress.

Let's take a look at Congress. When was the last time Congress passed appropriation acts by the beginning of the fiscal year? What business would not have an approved budget before the start of their fiscal year? Congress routinely passes difficult laws to put in place, sometimes with limited funding. When implementation falters they bring the poor agency heads before them to be publicly humiliated.

How is Congress doing? Given that the fact that in 2013, Congress took 239 days off. Wouldn't you like this job? People disapprove of Congress' performance, yet we know that almost all are routinely re-elected. Furthermore, how insane would it be if Microsoft, Whole Foods or any business were to fill its executive positions with people who've stated on their job applications that they hate everything the company stands for?

Yet, voters keep putting in representatives to work in a Congress that they openly despise. We'd never send our children to a school where all the teachers hate kids.

However, we have no problem voting for people to run the government who hate it. Finally, people who hate government are not inclined to improve it or serve it well, but ignore it, diminish it, even wreck it. I'm not surprised at the dysfunction we're seeing in some agencies. As Republicans took the Senate in 2014, I anticipate more.

-- George C. Wilson, Stone Mountain (Gwinnett)

Now George: Here we go defending the Republicans, but the Democrats seem just as much at fault in the do-nothing Congress that many Americans question. Anyone can easily apply your argument on both sides of the aisle. --eeb

Beckles adds another chapter to this serial story

"The Midnight Bandit has struck, this time stealing from a cop! This adds to my quest of catching the perpetrator that has violated my castle. While on the telephone with the 911 Operator, I quickly glanced around the main entrance, putting on both my hats - that of a citizen and peace officer. I immediately noticed that a window was shattered and some blood was on the curtains. "Yes, Dispatch, this is Officer 901 Seamoss, I'd like to report a break-in." As I am inching my way through the house, I hear a noise, should I call out for the kids?"

-- Arlene Beckles, Norcross

Readers: Add a new chapter to this serial story. We'll print the best one in the next edition.--eeb

Sugar Hill buys 71 acres for conservation along Chattahoochee

The Sugar Hill City Council has agreed to purchase approximately 71 acres of property near the Chattahoochee River from The Trust for Public Land. The $1.5 million purchase is expected to close early next year.

The 71-acre transaction will be accomplished in two separate conveyances. Approximately 41 acres will be put into conservation for use as nature trails, bike trails, environmental education and other non-intensive uses. The balance of the property (30 acres) will be conveyed without any development limitations. This area includes a stately house on top of the ridge.

Mayor Steve Edwards says: "Sugar Hill is very happy to partner with The Trust for Public Land. Adding this strategic 71 acres to our park system will provide residents a jump-start on the development of the city's Sugar Loop Greenway. Our intent is to partner with Gwinnett County, Suwanee, Duluth, The Trust for Public Land, the National Park Service and others to connect Gary Pirkle Park and the City's golf course to protected land up and down the Chattahoochee River.

"The 30 acres fronting Georgia Highway 20, including the house on top of the ridge, will be used for development opportunities down the road and as a gateway to the land put into conservation."

Council Member Mike Sullivan adds: "The land the city will hold for future development provides a unique setting for appropriate and complementary uses to the conservation acreage, including special event space, environmental education, or corporate retreats. The city will undertake a master plan over the next several months with an eye always focused on how to seamlessly connect future development to the beautiful property placed into conservation."

Debra Edelson, senior project manager for The Trust for Public Land, says that "The Chattahoochee River has been a signature focus for The Trust for Public Land in Georgia for decades, and protecting this land completes an eight-mile stretch of connected and protected land along the river for Sugar Hill, surrounding communities, and tourists to enjoy."

Council Member Susie Gajewski comments: "Those who love nature and environmental stewardship will fall in love with this property. The land put into conservation provides an attractive natural buffer for the residents of Twin Creeks and Wild Timber subdivisions. Sugar Hill has big dreams and grand plans and this timely land purchase will go a long way in helping us meet our own high expectations."

Walk through Bethlehem this weekend at Simpsonwood church

The "Bethlehem Church" is at it again! Many know Simpsonwood United Methodist Church in Peachtree Corners, for its Christmas outreach effort each year, "Walk Through Bethlehem." This is the 23th year that the church has been sharing the story of the bright star shining over Christ's birth.

Over 300 volunteers from Simpsonwood church work tirelessly each year to share the event gift with both local residents and those who travel miles to experience.

Lora King, church member and event planner, explains: "The yearly effort is woven into the fabric of who we are as a family and as a community. Seeing those we know and meeting new faces, making the connections, pondering the story---all during the busyness of the season, is a calming bright spot. It is something that you never tire of----the joy is bountiful."

The annual event will go on in full form this year, including the popular live camels being on hand! The community is invited to attend the event weekend, December 12-14, Friday and Saturday and Sunday evenings at 4511 Jones Bridge Circle, directly across the street from Simpsonwood UMC. Parking and admission are free with canned food and cash donations accepted for the Norcross Cooperative Ministry.

  • For more information on the event, visit the Simpsonwood United Methodist Church website at

Santa's Study in Norcross from Santa, elves, artists and merchants

Make plans this Holiday Season to visit a remarkable, magical dwelling where you will get to peek into the hustle and bustle created by Santa and his Elves, local Norcross merchants, artists and artisans.

It's at Santa's Study Exhibit in the Rectory at 17 College Street, Norcross. It is open Fridays, Saturdays , 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. through December 21. Tickets are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children. Proceeds benefit Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity.

Re-imagine childhood fantasies; be delighted by memories of Christmas past; be inspired with ideas for Christmas future and take with you an appreciation of the artistry that makes the season magical. A life sized Santa and a loveable company of his elves have been handcrafted exclusively for this exhibit by Debra Romero, whose works have been featured at the Biltmore Estate and reside in private collections across the United States.

Brenau University gains candidacy for physical therapy doctorate

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education has granted candidacy for accreditation to the new Brenau University doctoral degree program that is recruiting candidates for the class that begins in May 2015.

Although the program cannot receive full accreditation until after the first candidates complete their studies and receive doctoral degrees in May 2018, the pre-accreditation approval represents a significant step in the evolution of the physical therapy program at Brenau, said Dr. Kathye Light, who is chair of the Brenau physical therapy department.

Dr. Light says: "This means that we are open for business. It means that we can seat one new cohort per year, pending full accreditation, and we have already received many applications for the first cohort."

In academic parlance, a cohort is a group of students that enroll in and progress through a program on the same schedule.

The Brenau PT program already has been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional accreditation agency for all colleges and universities in the Southeastern United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

With the addition of its third clinical doctorate, Brenau moves into a unique position of universities that offer doctorates in all three of the disciplines of nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy. The clinical doctorates combined with master's degree programs in disciplines like applied gerontology, clinical psychology and health care management put Brenau in a leadership position in health care professional preparation among higher education institutions in the Southeast.

Deadline is early January for Duluth LEAD program

The seventh installment of the LEAD (Learn, Engage, Advance Duluth) Academy is set to begin on Feb. 5, 2015. It will consist of six Thursday evening sessions held from 6 to 9 p.m. There will be one Monday evening session (February 23) when the class will join the City Council for the regularly scheduled Work Session at 5:30 p.m. Sessions will take place at City Hall. Light dinner/snacks are provided each week.

Citizens engage when they are armed with good information and LEAD provides that foundation. They will be empowered to help address community issues when they understand all the possible ways they can engage. This program will spark their interest in local issues, provide insight into the decision making process and provide an avenue for participants to help advance the community to a better future.

Deadline for applications is January 5, 2015. For more information and an application go to

The Cheeky Restaurant

We recently ate on grand opening night at the just-opened Cheeky restaurant at The Forum in Peachtree Corners.. The staff was very friendly and helpful. I ordered the Ahi Tuna salad, which was tasty, and my husband got a chicken enchilada, which he liked. Next time I go, I might try one of the wraps or burritos. My husband also thought about the burger. The atmosphere was very upbeat and they are open daily. The location is 5161 Peachtree Parkway. Their phone is 678-353-6180 and website is There are also locations in East Cobb, Forsyth and Suwanee.

-- Cindy Evans, Duluth

Send us your recommendations. We're hurting without recommendations from our readers. Tell us what books, restaurants, movies or web sites have you enjoyed recently? Send us your recent selection, along with a short paragraph (150 words) as to why you liked this, plus what you plan to visit or read next. --eeb

Individual female shrimp lay millions of eggs in Georgia estuaries

(Continued from previous edition)

Some animals are adapted to living in areas of high salinity; others can tolerate only low salt levels in the water. The Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), for instance, can tolerate less than five parts per thousand salt, but its predator, the oyster drill, can stand no less than nine parts per thousand. The differences result in an oyster "line" that marks a safe zone for the mollusk.

For crabs, marine fish, shrimp, and other shellfish that live at least part of their lives in estuaries and salt marshes, variations in salinity are of utmost significance. The organisms often use salinity levels, along with other environmental cues, as ecological clocks to time reproduction so that it coincides with the best environment for their young.

Countless numbers of young crabs, fish, shrimp, and other marine creatures, born in nearshore ocean spawning grounds, enter the estuaries as tiny larvae or as juveniles. The tides sweep the teeming masses into the creeks and marshes, where they are nourished and protected until early adulthood. Then, in late summer and fall, they depart the marsh nursery grounds, reenter the estuaries, and head back to the nearshore ocean waters to complete their life cycles.

An example of this cycle is that of the white shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus), one of Georgia's most commercially important marine species. A female shrimp spawns in ocean waters offshore, releasing about a million eggs. The fertilized eggs hatch into planktonic larvae, undergo several changes, and then enter the postlarval stage. At this time they enter the estuaries in currents generated by wind and tides and migrate upstream in the estuary. The young shrimp then move into tidal creeks, where they find ample supplies of food and protection from predators. The shrimp remain in their nursery habitats for two to three months. Upon reaching adulthood, they begin to move into larger creeks and rivers and move progressively down the estuary into more saline waters. From there, they migrate back to the sea for spawning.

Because the contents of five river watersheds flow into Georgia's estuaries, pollution from as far away as Atlanta and Augusta, along with pollution from points in between, can end up in estuaries. Such contamination adversely affects the health and productivity of the coastal ecosystem. Upstream from the estuaries, dams and heavy withdrawals of water from rivers for municipal and industrial use can significantly reduce the amount of freshwater flowing into the estuaries. The result can be higher salinity levels in the estuaries, which jeopardize the life cycles of many estuarine organisms. Of special concern in Georgia are applications by various groups for new surface-water withdrawal permits in the Altamaha, Ogeechee, and Savannah rivers.

Since the 1980s the quality and productivity of Georgia's estuaries and inner shelf have declined remarkably due to both natural environmental deterioration and adverse human activities. Commercial fishery stocks have dramatically decreased with an increase in the salinity levels and harmful algal populations in coastal rivers and estuaries. The rapid growth of Georgia's coastal population, human removal of freshwater from rivers, and pollution from the land have had a pronounced influence on the estuarine and coastal ecosystems of Georgia.

Beautiful silhouette

This week's photo mystery may be difficult, unless you have seen this particular boat before. Note the skyline behind the boat. That may be some help.

Send your ideas for this Mystery Photo to, and be sure to include your hometown.

Last week's mystery photo was closer to home than most recognized. It was a scene taken by Roving Photographer Frank Sharp recently. He says: "What a lucky decision (to visit the Westin Hotel on Hutchinson Island) since I was able to get some skyline shots of Savannah. This photograph is of City Hall, easily recognized during the daytime. I was fortune in getting a pinkish cloud. These were made with my Canon Powershot SX-50."

The only two recognizing the photo were Rick Edinger of Lawrenceville and Eddie Copeland of Alpharetta.

New grads

Four local officials have graduated from Georgia Academy for Economic Development 2014 Region 3 Multi-Day Training Program. The Academy provided each of the graduates an opportunity to gain a unique understanding of the complexities of economic and community development on the local, regional, and state levels. From left are Carrie Barnes of Georgia EMC, Lilburn Mayor Johnny Crist, Duluth Councilwoman Marsha Anderson Bomar, Sugar Hill communications officer Scott Andrews, Johnna Robinson, Academy Board Member and Community Development Manager with Georgia Power, and Steve Foster of Georgia Power. Not shown is a fourth local grad, Jim Brooks of Evermore CID. The next Region 3 Georgia Academy for Economic Development will begin in August, 2015. For more information on this, contact Corinne Thornton at 706-340-6461.


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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, attractive 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.

Why Being An Actor Is Not Such A Big Deal

"Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four."

-- Noted Actress Katharine Hepburn (1907 - 2003).




Dinner Theatre in Sugar Hill, Friday, December 12, at 7 p.m. at the Community Center, 1166 Church Street. Presenting The Crudgemuffin's Christmas Traditions is a humorous look at the silly traditions families can perpetuate, as directed by local playwrights Ane Mulligan and Michael Wright with revisions by co-directors Bob Seelig and Marty Snowden. The dinner theater is catered by Catering for Atlanta, and is a fundraiser for Players Guild @ Sugar Hill, one of the City's newest arts groups. Tickets are $35 and are available at

(NEW) Toy Drive: The Norcross Women's Club is holding an annual toy drive on December 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the historic Norcross Library at 65 North Peachtree Street. It will benefit the Norcross Co-op. A few local artists will also be showcased at the event.

Marry or Re-Marry at 10:11 a.m. on Dec. 13, 2014, (that's 10:11 on 12.13.14, FYI) by registering to take part in a free mass wedding ceremony at Pinckneyville Park Community Center. The ceremonies will be conducted by Chief Magistrate Kristina Hammer Blum and Gwinnett Probate Judge Christopher Ballar. Couples must have a valid marriage prior to the wedding, or bring their original license and identification. More info: 770 822-8250.

Handel's Messiah in two performances by Goossen's Orchestra. Two different concerts: Saturday, December 13 at 7 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 5575 Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners; and Sunday, December 14 at 7 p.m. at First Christian Church of Atlanta, 4532 LaVista Road in Tucker. Admission is free. Guests are invited to attend receptions following the concerts. Produced by the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

(NEW) General Membership Meeting of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday, December 17 at 11:30 a.m. at the Sonesta Gwinnett Place in Duluth. Speaker will be 7th District Congressman Rob Woodall. To register go to this web link.


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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