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Guests enjoy a hayride along one of McDaniel Farm's nature trails. The ride is pulled by a Massey Ferguson tractor, donated to the Environmental and Heritage Center (EHC) by AGCO Corp., a Duluth based global manufacturer of agricultural equipment. Through a grant from AGCO, the EHC is telling the story of that connection between the past and the present to demonstrate, teach and explain the complexities of both yesterday's and today's farming technology. Steve Cannon, executive director of the EHC, says: "Today's generation has no concept of how the food we eat goes from the field to the table. Showcasing life on a typical early Georgia farm will illustrate the importance of agriculture to our history and our continued development." In addition to programming support, AGCO has provided two Massey Ferguson tractors to the EHC. The tractors will prepare the fields for planting at both the Chesser-Williams site as well as McDaniel Farm, a 122-acre Depression-era farm in Duluth that is managed by the EHC. The tractors also assist with the pulling of trams to allow access to the forested trails at both sites.

Issue 14.75 | Dec. 19, 2014

:: Aurora wins big

:: CIA's atrocities

Christmas, muddy roads

Street lights, SPLOST

New park, hunger

:: Brand Banking Company

:: The Bully Pulpit

:: Band leader's b'day

:: Joanne Woodward

:: Last one stumped


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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Buy the book on Gwinnett's history


Aurora Theatre wins big again in gathering 6 Suzi Bass awards
Special to Gwinnett Forum
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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., Dec. 19, 2014 -- Gwinnett's Aurora Theatre continues as a shining star among the Atlanta professional theatre community by winning six awards in the 10th annual Suzi Bass Awards. Aurora's production of Mary Poppins was the most honored production of the season, winning six Suzi's. The Suzi Bass Awards, Atlanta's equivalent of the Tony Awards, recognizes excellence in all aspects of theatre.


Aurora Theatre Associate Producer Ann-Carol Pence won her fourth Suzi for Musical Direction, while choreographer Jen MacQueen won her seventh nomination and her first Suzi for Mary Poppins.

The show also took home honors for both Leading Actress and Actor in a Musical as Galen Crawley won for her portrayal of Mary and Andy Meeks as Bert. The breathtaking production values were nominated in every technical category with Sydney Roberts winning for Costume Design and Shannon Robert for Scenic Design.

For the third consecutive year, an Aurora Theatre production was the most decorated show. It won previously for Clyde 'n Bonnie: A Folktale in 2012 and Les Misérables in 2013. The Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre won 11 Suzi Bass awards followed by Aurora's six; no other theatres won more than two.

Aurora's Mary Poppins

Broadway's Amber Iman, an Atlanta native and past Aurora Theatre performer, helped pay tribute to deceased members of the Atlanta theater family by singing Tears in Heaven during an In Memoriam segment that include a touching tribute to late Aurora Theatre Founding Board Member Cynthia Sutt. Returning to the Aurora stage this January in Les Misérables, Natasha Drena won the Actress in a Play award for her portrayal of Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow and Marcie Millard was awarded Featured Actress in a Musical as Miss Hannigan in Annie.

Aurora Theatre Producing Artistic Director Anthony Rodriguez, says: "With the magnificent work being produced in Atlanta by all of these amazing organizations, I am grateful and humbled to have had our work recognized and honored with six Suzi Awards. But the support we have here at Aurora is the true award winner. Frankly, without a profound personal gift, we would not have been able to produce Mary Poppins. I would also like to thank all of our committed artists, staff, patrons, board members and sponsors who have helped to make Aurora Theatre a strong and dynamic organization with a very bright future."

Associate Producer and Suzi-winner Ann-Carol Pence used her winning moment as the Music Director of Mary Poppins to advocate for live musicians. Pence is known as a staunch proponent of live music in Atlanta musical theatre. "It is unfathomable to me that a football team who has won no Super Bowls is having a stadium built for them, and an internationally award-winning orchestra who has won 29 Grammys has just gone back to work. We have to find a balance."

* * * * *

Just in time for the holidays, Aurora Theatre once again offers patrons a Christmas savings with their Mini Season Ticket package. This year, the deal gets even sweeter with a package including a flexible ticket to Les Misérables, The Explorers Club and Hands on a Hardbody for $59.95. Order before Christmas and receive a certificate for two tickets to any Aurora Studio production. The entire package is a $180 value. Two gift certificates are issued with each. Mini Season Tickets can be purchased online, by phone or in-person at the Aurora Theatre box office.

Outrage! Anger! Disgust! Horror! ... Shame! on our nation
Editor and publisher |

DEC. 19, 2014 -- Outrage!






Those are some of the emotions I feel after hearing of the way the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States has treated people in detention in the War on Terror. For this to be happening in a nation that says that all individuals have certain human rights, no matter what their station, the CIA actions are the highest of hypocrisy, which also goes against the basic principles that the American people hold high.

On top of that, the prolonged detention of these detainees, some later found not to be terrorists at all, shows what can go wrong when a unit of our government, in this case the CIA, is not properly scrutinized by oversight authorities.

It's even worse than that. Apparently the CIA was not even telling our leaders the whole truth, and even lulling them into thinking that matters were not as bad as they appeared.

As one report called the activities of the CIA were from a "broken agency" using "a failed approach" to mislead the White House and Congress. For instance, the agency had secret prisons around the world and failed to provide basic oversight of them.

As is often the case, our government, in a more-than-panic mode after the September 11 terrorist attacks, took the "usual approach" of throwing money after the problem, hiring consultants to handle the problems. They used unapproved, grotesque techniques. Hard to believe but, the so-called consultants had little experience in this field, and were working with little supervision. Of course, the CIA should have been more aggressive in its supervision, and ultimately bears the blame for these excesses.

What will happen, we fear, is that the CIA will deny all it can, politicians will try to make it all seem like someone else is to blame, and in the long run, no one will be punished for these atrocities. It's the similar old story we have heard before, with no one really being punished for these crimes. (Think of how few bankers have gone to jail for their misdeeds.) All this undermines confidence in our government, and little is changed.

Our nation owes Senator Dianne Feinstein and her Intelligence Committee a major thank you for not letting this horrible chapter in the CIA history be merely swept under the rug. Though some people within the government criticize the release of this information, the American people need to know more about this, and take measures to insure that it will not happen again. If similar tactics happen to crop up once more, the perpetrators should be severely punished, and banned from any future engagement in government.

What particularly worries one after reading about these atrocities is that the various brutal techniques yielded little, if any, intelligence that the CIA did not already know. No lesser authority on such techniques than once-tortured Sen. John McCain has spoken out about these revelations with his condemnation of the use of torture. Does his earlier suffering go for nothing? But many would want to skip over the recognized fact that nothing good comes out of such tactics.

These revelations are a stain on the USA's values and heritage. It has diminished the way other nations look upon us. However, we admit to the world that it happened, and must do our best to see that it never happens again. It will take lots of time, but we hope that some day that our country will be recognized again for being a nation of high moral force.

Brand Banking Company

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is Brand Banking Company, headquartered in Lawrenceville, where it has three offices, with additional branches in Snellville, Grayson and Flowery Branch. It is the largest privately held bank in Gwinnett, with assets of $1,920,000,000. The bank's main office is in Lawrenceville on the Historic Courthouse Square, plus there is another branch on Hurricane Shoals Road. Other locations are in Grayson, Snellville, Flowery Branch, Buford, Duluth and Buckhead. Member, FDIC and Federal Reserve System.

Traditional church year follows Christ ... and is color-coded

Editor, the Forum:

In the Anglican/Catholic tradition, the church year follows the story of Jesus's life. It is a very old "learning tool" for lay folks to keep in mind the Christ story compressed into a year.

And it is color-coded! The color of clergy vestments and altar hangings tells us something about what we should pay attention to during a particular season.

The church year begins with Advent, four Sundays before Christmas, a period of thoughtful waiting for the birth of Jesus. The color associated with Advent is purple or dark blue (penitence).

Advent ends on December 25th with Christmas-a great celebration! The color for Christmas is white, connoting purity, innocence, and light. The season of Christmas lasts for 12 days-yes, the 12 days of the famous song!

So if we were to adhere to the old traditions, we would begin to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Day (or Eve) and continue the celebration for 12 days! Oh, and wait for it-the Magi don't arrive until the end of the Christmas season!

-- Susan Nortcutt, Grayson

Also remembers trying to navigate those muddy roads of the past

Editor, the Forum:

I enjoyed your "Muddy Hills" column. It brought a chuckle. We once lived at the bottom of Church Road. At the top was Bethesda Methodist Church. I identify with the driving skills required to navigate a muddy road, especially if climbing a hill. Fortunately, we have fewer muddy roads. Unfortunately, we have fewer hills after the county shaved so many down during our heavy development period (for instance, think of "Scenic Highway.")

-- Debra Houston, Lilburn

Three more move to get streetlights in pact with county

Three more subdivisions have accepted Gwinnett County's offer to install streetlights. Once a majority of homeowners sign a petition agreeing to pay annual operating costs, the lights may be installed. Commissioners agreed last year to use 2009 SPLOST funds to install streetlights in neighborhoods that were built before 1997, when the County began requiring developers to put streetlights in new subdivisions.

Fifty-four percent of 91 homeowners in Old Dominion off Five Forks Trickum Road between Lilburn and Snellville voted in favor. Installation of 28 lights there will cost $13,319 with estimated operating costs of $4,722. Near Snellville, a majority of the 26 homeowners in Meadow Oak Place agreed to split estimated operating costs of $1,462 for nine lights that will cost $4,044 to install. And the 74-home Dickens Creek subdivision south of Norcross will get 16 lights with installation costs of $32,786 and estimated operating costs of $2,120.

The County divides annual electricity and maintenance costs among all affected homeowners on their property tax bills. Residents who are interested in the petition process for the streetlight program should send an email or call (770) 822-7400.

* * * *

Also recently, Gwinnett commissioners approved an agreement with the Evermore Community Improvement District to build a half-mile access road parallel to U.S. Highway 78 between Britt Road and Old U.S.Highway 78/Walton Court. The project will tie to a realignment of Old U.S. 78 with Walton Court at its intersection with U.S. 78. The CID will provide funding for right-of-way acquisition while the County will manage the right-of-way acquisition and will provide funding for engineering and construction.

Major road improvements coming from city-county SPLOST funds

Three major road improvements, eight intersections, 35 sidewalk/pedestrian safety upgrades and 14 resurfacing projects will share city and county funds from the current SPLOST sales tax program. Acting Transportation Director Alan Chapman shared details about the projects with commissioners during a briefing on Tuesday.

The 60 projects are included in 22 agreements hammered out between the county government and its 16 cities. The 2014 SPLOST program requires cities and the county to use at least 65 percent of their share of SPLOST revenue for transportation projects.

The County must also use $25 million for joint projects if cities pay at least 19 percent of the cost for transportation-related projects that benefit both city and county residents.

Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, who also serves as president of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, says: "The term win-win is probably overused, but it does seem to apply here. I am proud that the cities and Gwinnett County were able to develop a mutually beneficial approach that seems to meet the needs of both groups while simultaneously putting forth the types of projects that the community wants and needs."

The County held 15 meetings with individual cities and three group meetings with the Gwinnett Municipal Association between last December and February of this year to discuss potential projects. A Citizens Project Selection Committee recommended specific joint-funded projects on March 24 and commissioners approved the list on April 16. Cities will manage construction for projects in 12 of the 22 agreements; Gwinnett County will manage the rest.

County to build new 26-acre park on Five Forks Trickup Road

Construction is slated to begin soon on the new J.B. Williams Park at 4925 Five Forks Trickum Road in Lilburn. Gwinnett commissioners approved a $5.18 million construction contract Tuesday with Vertical Earth Inc. of Cumming.

Designed to complement existing facilities at nearby Mountain Park Park, the highlights include a 325-foot lighted baseball field with bleachers, a central plaza and a restroom/concession building. Other major park components include a 1.8-acre fenced dog park, a skate plaza, and a three-quarter mile paved trail, plus a picnic pavilion, playground and open play lawn.

The County bought the 26-acre property in 2008 from the J.B. Williams family. A citizens' steering committee helped develop the master plan and the final design was approved by the Recreation Authority last year. Funding comes from the 2009 SPLOST program

Southeast Gwinnett co-op benefiting from Give Hunger the Boot

Efforts to fill the shelves of the Southeast Gwinnett Co-op got a big boost Wednesday at the Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce luncheon. There, a check for $2,296 was given to the Co-op through funds raised by the Give Hunger the Boot Challenge - a spirited competition between the cities of Snellville and Grayson.

A total of $1,296 was raised in donations, and $1,000 was donated by the GECC. Another, $165 came in after the event. Snellville collected $849 through Wednesday, while Grayson collected $447. From left above at right are Grayson Community Development Director Gail Lane, Snellville Councilman Bobby Howard, Grayson Mayor Allison Wilkerson, Snellville Councilman Dave Emanuel and Greater Eastside Chamber of Commerce President Jamie Dempsey with a $2,296 check collected at Wednesday's GECC luncheon to benefit the Southeast Gwinnett Co-op. The winner of the Snellville-Grayson challenge won't be known until January 19, as more food continues to come in.

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

The Bully Pulpit
By Doris Kearns Goodwin

Dorothy Kearns Goodwin may be the finest author of historical books today. She has the knack for easily catching your interest in her subject, moves the story along well, sparkles her writing with great research, and connects ideas that seem obvious after she introduces them. A recent blockbuster and thoroughly enjoyable book is The Bully Pulpit, revealing the close relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and his successor in the White House, William Howard Taft. She also lets us glimpse into what she calls the "golden age" of journalism, as key figures in that day's media are prominent in forging the country's issues in that day. This included S.S. McClure, Ida Tarvell, Ray S. Baker, Lincoln Steffens and William Allen White. This is a magnificent book, which ends with Roosevelt, the Bull Mooser, running for a third term, against Taft and Woodrow Wilson, which insures the Democratic take-over in 1913. It's bully good history! -- 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

Joanne Woodward is director emeritus of Connecticut theatre

(Continued from previous edition)

The Three Faces of Eve made Joanne Woodward a major star, and she would remain so throughout the 1960s. Often cast as a southern character, she appeared in the film adaptations of two William Faulkner novels: The Long Hot Summer (1958; adapted from The Hamlet), the first of many films in which she costarred with her husband, and The Sound and the Fury (1959). She also starred with Marlon Brando in Tennessee Williams's The Fugitive Kind (1959).

Woodward, left, and Newman continued to appear together in such films as From the Terrace (1960), Paris Blues (1961), Winning (1969), WUSA (1970), The Drowning Pool (1975), Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990), and the HBO production of Empire Falls (2005). Woodward also starred in a number of films directed by Newman, including Rachel, Rachel (1968), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972), and The Glass Menagerie (1987).

Woodward received Oscar nominations for her roles in Rachel, Rachel; Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973); and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge. She plays a psychiatrist to Sally Field's title character in Sybil (1976), another true story of a woman with multiple personality disorder. Woodward won Emmy awards for Do You Remember Love? (1985), in which she plays an Alzheimer's patient, and for See How She Runs (1978), in which she plays a middle-aged woman who runs in the Boston Marathon. She appeared primarily in made-for-television movies during the 1980s and 1990s and had a small role in the acclaimed film Philadelphia (1993).

In the late 1980s she returned to college to complete her degree, and in 1990 she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, N.Y., alongside her daughter Claire.

Before Newman's death in 2008, he and Woodward, longtime social and political activists, worked together on a variety of other projects. She assists with Newman's Own, a line of food products that donates all profits and royalties after taxes to various charities, primarily the Hole in the Wall camps for children with debilitating diseases, which was founded by Newman. The couple has worked for drug abuse prevention through the Scott Newman Foundation, which they established after the drug-overdose death of Newman's son from a previous marriage.

Woodward continues to visit and support her childhood home. In recent years she has donated money in support of local efforts to restore the Strand Theatre, a historic movie house in downtown Marietta, as well as to Cobb County's Georgia Ballet company. In 1992 she attended the Marietta High School Foundation banquet to celebrate the hundred-year anniversary of the city school system.

From 2000 through 2005 Woodward served as the artistic director of the Westport Country Playhouse, in Westport, Conn., where she and Newman were longtime residents. She is artistic director emeritus for the theater.

Where in the world is this?

This edition's Mystery Photo, for sure, is not on the relatively flat east coast of the United States. Elevation ought to tell us that. But just exactly where was this photograph made. Take a guess and submit it to, and be sure to include your hometown.

Bob Foreman of Grayson submitted last edition's Mystery Photo, and stumped the entire readership of GwinnettForum.

It is the Chatlos Memorial Chapel at The Cove, the Billy Graham training center, near Asheville, N.C.


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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.

Band Leader Fletcher Henderson's Birthday

It's the birthday of jazz musician Fletcher Henderson, born in Cuthbert, Georgia in 1897, and died 1952 in New York. He attended Atlanta University, majoring in chemistry and mathematics, then moved to New York City to find work as a chemist. Instead, he was hired to play piano on a Hudson River boat, and several years later (1924), he formed the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. His innovative arrangements, which emphasized the horns and left room for improvised solos between arranged passages, shaped a new sound for big band jazz. (From the Writer's Almanac, Dec. 18, 2014).



Great for holidays, a modern history of Gwinnett

There only about 30 copies of this 850-page modern county history, Gwinnett: A Little Above Atlanta. This will make an ideal Christmas gift for anyone with interest in knowing about how the county developed at such a rapid pace since 1950, and backgrounds on the people who led this growth. Ensure that you get it in time for Christmas for a family member, a friend or anyone who has an interest in Gwinnett's past.

The book won the Award of Excellence for documenting Georgia history from the Georgia Historical Records Board.

Order by email or phone through the author at or by calling 770-840-1003. Hardbacks are $79.50 while softbound copies are $42.40, both including tax. Make checks out to GwinnettForum.


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


2001-2014, Gwinnett is Gwinnett County's online community forum for commentary that explores pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

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