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Remember that "Major Prize" that Ralphie's father won in the movie, The Christmas Story? A replica of that prize, the long-legged lamp, is now on display at McKenzie's Restaurant on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Berkeley Lake. You can even see Ralphie's Red Ryder BB gun and that horrible pink pajama outfit with the rabbit footies that Ralphie hated. Well done, McKenzie's, for reminding us in this special way of the coming of Christmas!

Issue 14.74 | Dec. 16, 2014

:: Safe harbor bill

:: Muddy roads

Drop boxes, more

Roads, new store

Stopping hunger, cards

:: Gwinnett Center

:: Ted Dunagan

:: Maintenance

:: Joanne Woodward

:: Only 2 got last mystery


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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Sen. Unterman files bill for "safe harbor" for child victims
Special to Gwinnett Forum
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ATLANTA, Ga. Dec. 16, 2014 -- Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) officially pre-filed legislation in the Georgia Senate for more protection of child victims last week. Her "safe harbor" legislation will address inconsistencies in the prosecution of human trafficking cases at the state level, impose harsher punishments on those convicted of this terrible crime, and create a funding mechanism to provide for the care and rehabilitation of child sex trafficking victims.


Senator Unterman says: "It has been a long, four-year journey of advocacy, education, and sincere determination explaining to Georgia citizens exactly what is happening to vulnerable children in the child sex trafficking trade. House Bill 200, authored by former state Rep. Ed Lindsey, was a historic change to Georgia law that punishes criminals who prey on children by selling them for profit in the sex trade. This bill increased criminal penalties with prison terms and fines, as well as allowed confiscation of assets and affirmative defense."

Current state law fails to recognize that victims are not ready or conditioned to fail to identify their traffickers. This leads to a problematic situation where human trafficking victims are punished because prosecuting attorneys do not realize the depth of the case. The legislation proposed by Senator Unterman would offer immunity to minors who are forced into human trafficking, as well as proper medical treatment, counseling, and other assistance programs for victims. The legislation will add requirements that are compatible with HB 200.

According to Shared Hope, an advocacy group, Georgia is currently ranked with a "B" grade in its protections against child sex trafficking. The pre-filed legislation reflects pro-active measures that recognize children as victims and not criminals, creates a therapeutic safety net system of care and bridges the gap of public/private partnerships with community non-profits. The legislation will also incorporate required Federal guidelines outlined in HR 4980, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, passed by Congress earlier this year.

Senator Unterman adds: "Georgia is a state that deeply cares about the children who are being sold for a profit in the sex trade industry. This legislation is meant to send a strong and clear message that we do not tolerate these actions and believe in severe punishments for profiteers. We are a state that recognizes societal problems, and Georgia should strive for nothing less than an "A" grade in the protection of its children."

Sen. Renee Unterman serves as chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. She represents the 45th Senate District, which includes portions of Gwinnett County. She can be reached at 404-463-1368 or by e-mail at

Not too long ago, muddy hills were obstacles for church-going
Editor and publisher |

DEC. 16, 2014 -- My-my-my, how times have changed in your and my lifetime!

Back when I was young, our home was in a tiny, small town. To drive to our church on Sunday, about eight miles, we were riding in a model 1940 automobile, and past a grist mill. Most of the time, the drive was easy with no complications. However, after any sort of rain, first going down one Middle Georgia red clay hill, then crossing a creek where the mill was, then seeking to go up the next hill, a distance of about a mile altogether, was not necessarily a joy ride.


Remember, we mentioned the red clay. What you hoped if it had rained, was first, that the county road crew had "sanded" the red clay hills to give more traction. If the crew had not, you hoped that several cars had gone before you to carve deep ruts in the clay. If you got out of the ruts, that clay could slide the automobile toward the ditch. Sometimes throwing you ditchward could also mean that the relatively-light automobile might turn sideways, or even turn over.

So you breathed a sign of relief once getting down the first hill and crossing the creek. But then you faced an even harder task: going up the next hill. (In those days, while tire chains would give more traction, they weren't routinely used. After all, it would take 30 minutes or more to get the tire chains on, which could really get grime and mud on your Sunday clothes. So you risked it.

The driver, with his load of passengers, would attack the hill with as much speed as possible, perhaps going 30 miles an hour. Often that tactic would work, as the car maintained enough speed on the slippery road (if staying in the ruts) to gain the hill. The run was only about 200 yards, but the hill was somewhat steep. If you got outside the ruts, eventually you stalled, or were on the extreme edge of the road. At this point the passengers got out and waited by the side of the road. The driver had to carefully back down the hill. Even that was difficult, as the mud could slide the car this way and that backing down the hill.

Then the driver would rev up, by himself in the car this time, and again attack the hill. If that didn't work, the car backed down the hill again, then most of the passengers would walk down the hill, and help push the powered car up the hill. To say the least, their shoes and legs were often muddy.

Today that same road never stalls anyone, since it is smoothly paved. Few ever think of having to sand a dirt road much any more.

Muddy hill problems throughout rural Georgia gave politicians like Gene and Herman Talmadge, Ellis Arnall, Marvin Griffin and their ilk a campaign issue. They introduced "farm to market" roads to be paved, to speed Georgia crops to sale points in any weather, often winning votes this way. The Sunday church crowd benefitted, too. Remember, this was in the days of the Georgia County Unit System, when rural votes were more important than big city votes. So the issue of paved county roads was a key one, with politicians trying to out-promise one another.

My indeed, how the times have changed!

Gwinnett Center

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's underwriter is Gwinnett Center, home to four distinct facilities in Duluth: The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Gwinnett Convention Center, Gwinnett Performing Arts Center, and The Hudgens Center for the Arts. The Arena at Gwinnett Center has had twelve years of tremendous success hosting countless concerts, family shows and sporting events, and is home to the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators. Some past concerts include George Strait, Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé, Foo Fighters, Eric Clapton, Katy Perry, Kid Rock, James Taylor and Michael Bublé.

The Arena at Gwinnett Center also hosts many family shows including Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey, Cirque du Soleil, Disney On Ice and Harlem Globetrotters. Gwinnett Convention Center offers patrons the opportunity to host or attend a wide variety of events, from corporate meetings to trade shows to social occasions. Gwinnett Performing Arts Center has an intimate capacity of 700-seats and is home to many local events, family shows and even some comedians. The Hudgens Center for the Arts showcases a range of artwork throughout the year along with offering a wide range of fine art classes.

Finds Better World Books drop box helps the school cluster

Editor, the Forum:

"Yes, Virginia, there are legitimate drop boxes in our community."

The bright "Kermit-green" drop boxes are usually in front of public libraries and some churches. They are truly legitimate drop boxes. They are furnished by Better World Books (BWB)..

The Norcross Mayor's Book Club, which this summer contacted BWB, and they shipped us books. The Norcross Cluster School Partnership (NCSP), which supports the elementary and middle schools in Peachtree Corners and Norcross, assisted the book club by raising funds to buy books and by distributing books to the schools.

We asked BWB for 10,000 books. They sent 40,000. Almost 95 percent of the books were new or never opened. Volunteers helped sort the books and packaged them for the participating schools to check out for the summer. We used approximately 6,000 books for the book club. We also provided approximately 4,000 books to Alan Kaplan, who spearheaded an apartment library at complexes serving Peachtree Elementary School and Pinckneyville Middle School. We also supplied approximately 2,000 books to Beaver Ridge Elementary School for their book mobile, which distributes books to the apartment complexes near the school.

The remaining books were given to teachers in two clusters. More than 120 teachers selected books for their classrooms. We discovered that the media centers have books but not every class gets to go to the media center "at will." So, teachers need books for their classrooms. Usually they buy their own wherever they can find them. We were thrilled to help them. We also distributed books to several ministries, including Norcross Cooperative Ministry.

All of this culminated in a day at Malibu Grand Prix for those students who read 10 books over span of the book club. It was a great day! They each received a gift book signed by the Mayor Johnson for their own personal library.

We now need storage space for the 100 boxes of books we will use next year for book club purposes. So, happy to let you and your readers know that the green boxes which are can serve a fantastic purpose of getting books into the hands of children.

-- Elaine Fuerst, Norcross

Says that drop boxes in the community just cannot be regulated

Editor, the Forum:

Thanks for the article on drop boxes. If people want to donate foods, Goodwill, St. Vincent, Lilburn Co-op, several others will be happy to accept donations.

The boxes just could not be regulated.

-- Tim Dunn, Lilburn

(Editor's Note: the writer is a member of the Lilburn City Council. -eeb)

Politics can become a self-fulfilling prophesy

Editor, the Forum:

Amen! to George Wilson's letter regarding the absurd idea of placing the government in the hands of people who hate government. I've often wondered why anyone would place the operation of anything as important as the government in the hands of someone who hates the government and sincerely wants it to fail.

That's a self-fulfilling prophecy: predict the government will be a failure, and then elect someone who'll move heaven and earth to make certain that it does.

Idiocy, if I ever saw it.

-- Robert Hanson, Loganville

Peachtree Corners identifies road work through SPLOST funds

Residents who travel through Peachtree Corners during rush hour know all too well the intersections where traffic tie ups can slow them down. Thanks to nearly $20 million in SPLOST funds, relief is on its way.

The City of Peachtree Corners will partner with Gwinnett County's Commissioners on four transportation projects as part of the 2014 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).
These projects were approved as part of Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) approved by Peachtree Corners Mayor and City Council on Nov. 11, 2014 and by Gwinnett County Commissioners on Dec. 9, 2014.

These projects include:

1. Peachtree Parkway at Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The proposed project will create an additional southbound lane on Peachtree Parkway from Holcomb Bridge Road onto the "controlled access" portion of Georgia Highway 141 and create an additional lane on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard southbound to Winters Chapel Road. This will be a joint project between Peachtree Corners Public Works, Gwinnett County and Georgia Department of Transportation. The county will contribute $1.62 million and the city $380,000 in SPLOST funds.

2. Buford Highway at Jimmy Carter Boulevard. The city and county will fund $3 million toward the estimated cost of $10 million for the right-of-way to improve traffic operations to the intersection.

3. Widening of Spalding Drive from Winters Chapel Road to Holcomb Bridge Road. The work will improve the angle and narrow lanes for vehicle operation and safety and to alleviate a bottleneck leaving and entering the city. The total project cost is estimated at $3 million with $730,000 from the city and county.

4. Safety Improvements at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Holcomb Bridge Road. The project at the corner of Jimmy Carter Boulevard (Georgia Highway 140) and Holcomb Bridge Road will be managed by the Peachtree Corners Public Works Staff. Improvements involve intersection operations, safety improvements for vehicles and pedestrians. Approximately $600,000 is allocated for this project.

Work on the projects are expected to begin in 2015.

Snellville approves plans for At Home, a new decorating superstore

Landscaping plans were reviewed by the Snellville's Board of Appeals last week, putting into motion a plan to bring a new $1.2 million home décor store project to the city. At Home, a 30-year-plus home decorating superstore company, has plans to occupy the Kmart on Wisteria Drive which has announced it is closing in the near future.

The 84,146-square-foot building will be remodeled and could be open as an At Home by July 2015, city officials said.

"From quirky to traditional, modern to exotic, we pride ourselves on having something for everyone," a statement on the store's website,, reads. "Express your personal style by choosing from our expansive selection of patio furniture, home furnishings, wall décor and decorative accents, rugs and housewares."

Suwanee Methodists double 2013 record in Stop Hunger campaign

(Editor's Note: the following first appeared in the online bulletin of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. -eeb)

It all started at Suwanee United Methodist Church's Worship Center's 2013 Stop Hunger Now campaign. The church was packaging 10,000 meals, when a Missions Ministry team member, Beverly Finney, yelled "next year we will package 20,000 meals!"

Members left last year's packaging feeling very thankful and rewarded that God had blessed them to provide such a magnificent Service to those in need! The church was happy to send out an announcement to the congregation that it would indeed seek to double its packaged meals in 2014.?The Suwanee Worship Center 2014 Stop Hunger Now Project was launched in July with a three-pronged fundraising program to raise the $5,000 required to package 20,000 meals. That included a community yard sale, a 5K Fun-Run-Walk, and an ongoing appeal for donations.

The November 15 packaging event far surpassed the projection of 80 packagers, as 109 participants arrived at Level Creek Elementary School and packaged 20,088 meals in two hours! This festive group consisted of children (as young as four), SWC members, friends and family members.

Tired but wonderfully fulfilled, the packagers traveled a mile to Suwanee Worship Center and celebrated with a well-earned Pizza Party and with the thought, "Let's Do It Again next year."

Thoughts about purchasing or giving those gift cards

The Atlanta Better Business Bureau warns that one of the easiest universal gifts, those gift cards, are always a popular choice during the holiday season. While a gift card allows the freedom to let the recipient choose what they want, it also creates a bigger opportunity for fraudsters to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.

Although often overlooked, gift card fraud can happen either when a gift card is purchased or redeemed. Some fraudsters can purchase gift cards with stolen credit card information, or steal the gift card number and PIN, but leave the actual card in the store. From there, thieves can resell these cards or use the funds at the designated store to buy resalable goods. Thieves can also try to return stolen merchandise for store credit which they can later resell.

Better Business Bureau Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens and Northeast Georgia shares a few ways to protect yourself (and your gift receiver) from fraud on your gift card:

  • Use trusted sources - While you may get a good deal on gift card resale sites, the risk may outweigh the reward. Not all of these sites guarantee the face value of the gift card, as retailers can cancel stolen gift cards or a criminal might resell a gift card they have already used. The best way to combat this is to buy directly from the store you want the gift card from.

  • Look for tampering - The safest gift cards to buy are those that are in a thick plastic casing. If the gift card you want to buy is not in this packaging, check the back of the card to make sure the PIN hasn't been scratched off. Thieves will often enter the store and write down the credit card number and PIN to make purchases online. Another good safe option is to use digital gift cards, as they are resistant to physical tampering.

  • Register the card - If the retailer allows you to register the card, do so immediately upon purchasing it. That way, if it is ever lost or stolen, you can protect the balance.

  • Be cautious - If you get a gift card, try to spend it as soon as possible. While gift cards rarely have expiration dates, the longer you hold onto your gift card, the better chance that you will forget about it, lose it, or the company may go out of business.

The Salvation of Miss Lucretia
By Ted M. Dunagan

Ted Dunagan is a retired school teacher and staff writer for The Monticello (Ga.) News whose avocation is as an author, writing a series of books about growing up in southwest Alabama during the late 1940s.


This is the fourth in a series, as he recounts the ways of his native land through two early-teen boys, one black and one white. Dunagan knows how to throw first one twist of a plot after another to keep his books moving along at a lively pace. This latest installment includes teaching dogs how to hunt squirrels, outdoor life, a voodoo queen, panther pit, rattlesnakes, an evil nephew and other elements of the deep woods. It's a rollicking tale, nicely done, and one which keeps you reading. Dunagan is the recipient of several Georgia Author of the Year awards. His work is available through New South Books of Montgomery. -- eeb

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

Georgia native Joanne Woodward among most respected actors

Joanne Woodward, a Georgia native, is an Academy Award-winning actress and activist. She ranks among the most well-respected actors of the 20th century.

Joanne Gignilliat Woodward was born on February 27, 1930, to Elinor Trimmier and Wade Woodward in Thomasville, where her father was a school administrator. In the late 1930s the family moved to Marietta. Her mother worked at the Bell Bomber plant, and her father became a traveling salesman. She attended Marietta High School before the family moved again, in 1945, to Greenville, S.C.. Her older brother, Wade, would later also work for Bell Bomber before becoming an architect.

As a child, Woodward, at left, shared with her mother a great interest in movies. In 1939 she and her mother attended the premiere of Gone With the Wind in Atlanta. After the family moved to Greenville, Woodward began acting in the local theater, the Greenville Little Theatre, and received good reviews.

She graduated from high school in 1947, and although a drama teacher encouraged her to move to New York City to pursue an acting career, her father insisted that she go to college instead. She attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and majored in drama but left school after two years and returned home. Only when her father saw her perform in Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie was he convinced that she had real talent; he then allowed her to pursue acting in New York.

Relocating to New York City, Woodward joined the Actors' Studio and Neighborhood Playhouse. She worked with the distinguished dramatic coach Sanford Meisner, who told her that she must lose her southern accent. Woodward started out with small modeling jobs and bit parts in television. In 1952 she was introduced to another young actor, Paul Newman, by the agent that represented them both. Shortly thereafter, they were both cast in William Inge's play Picnic, she as an understudy and he in a small part.

Woodward moved to California in 1955 to take on her first major film role in the Hollywood western Count Three and Pray. She next appeared in the films A Kiss before Dying (1956) and The Three Faces of Eve (1957). In the latter, she plays a real-life (but anonymous) Georgia woman plagued by multiple personality disorder, a demanding role that required her to switch constantly between the three very different personalities that her character manifested.

The film was written and directed by Georgia native Nunnally Johnson. Woodward won the Academy Award for her performance in March 1958, just two months after marrying Newman, who had himself emerged as a major star by that time. The couple eventually had three daughters, Elinor Terese ("Nell"), Melissa Stewart, and Claire Olivia. Both Nell and Melissa have worked as actors.

(To be continued)

May look familiar, but where?

Here's today's Mystery Photo, which reminds us of several places. Now it's up to you to figure out where this mystery is located. It's not your everyday building. Put on your thinking caps and tell us where this photo was taken.

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

Last week only two people correctly identified the Mystery Photo, though several people realized it was somewhere in the Northeast, particularly in Maine. First in was Bob Foreman of Grayson, who said that the photograph "Looks like the harbor at Camden, Maine to me. I was just there in October. The boats look like the windjammer fleet that is headquartered there in Camden harbor. It's a beautiful place!" He was right. The photo was submitted by Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill.

Also sending in the right answer was Ruthie Lachman Paul of Norcross, who wrote: "This is Camden, Maine harbor with Mount Battie rising above the harbor. It may have been taken during the Camden Windjammer Festival, a community-led celebration of Camden's maritime heritage and living traditions over Labor Day weekend."


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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, 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.

Hey, Realize That Some of Our Products Need Some Maintenance

"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to maintain."

-- American Novelist Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - 2007).




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.

(NEW) Santa and his sleigh and reindeer will appear at Farmhouse 17 and Moonvine in Norcross on December 17 from 7-9 p.m. to benefit the family of the late Maria Lopez, a cancer victim. Sip hot chocolate, enjoy goodies and even get a photograph with Santa! Or donate to benefit the Lopez family at 770-409-1717, or online at


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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