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BIG GIFTS: Representatives of nonprofits in Gwinnett were the beneficiaries of a gift from the Gwinnett Rotary Club recently. From left are Chuck Warbington, Gwinnett Rotary President; Paige Havens, Brain Injury Association of Georgia; Derek Singleton and Jennifer Hibbard, View Point Health; Ellen Gerstein, Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services; Michelle Watkins, Salvation Army; Jim Hollandworth, The Path Project; Nancy Yancey, Rainbow Village; Britt Ramroop, Aurora Theatre; Karen Fine, Gwinnett Rotary Treasurer; Melissa DeGuibert, Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett; Kelly Greer, Eagle Ranch; and Kelly Herndon, Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation.

Issue 14.76 | Dec. 23, 2014

:: 11 benefit from Rotary

:: News on Cuba is good

About ALEC, lawmakers

Lilburn, Duluth eve

Jackson EMC grants

:: Gwinnett Medical Center

:: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

:: On Christmas

:: Bobs Candies

:: Seen this devil?

:: New DAR officers


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


Gwinnett Rotary provides $10,000 in Christmas grants to charities

Special to Gwinnett Forum
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DEC. 23, 2014 -- Eleven Gwinnett nonprofits shared in $10,000 gifts from the Rotary Club of Gwinnett announced at a holiday outing recently. These non-profit gifts go to a wide range of charitable institutions.

Club President Chuck Warbington says: "It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that we award these grants today in support of so many great causes. This is the season of giving. Giving back to our community is what being Rotarians is all about."

Each year the Rotary Club of Gwinnett grants to local nonprofits a percentage of the earnings from their endowment at the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia via a formalized granting process. The Club's Charitable Giving Committee works to encourage grant applications across the community and screens each request consideration.

Grants align with Rotary's six areas of focus: Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution; Disease Prevention and Treatment; Water and Sanitation; Maternal and Child Health; Basic Education and Literacy; and Economic and Community Development.

The grants that were awarded this year included:

  • $500 to the Aurora Theatre to support their "Three Little Pigs" Learning Library Program;
  • $1,000 to Behavioral Health of Georgia for their Bridgeway Village Program;
  • $1,000 to the Brain Injury Association of Georgia for a Concussion Awareness & Prevention Webinar Education Series;
  • $1,000 to Eagle Ranch for new bedding for at-risk children;
  • $1,250 to Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett for their Healthy Baby Program;
  • $1,000 to support the Gwinnett Coalition's 2015 Great Days of Service;
  • $1,250 to Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation for the International Newcomers Center Parental Engagement Program;
  • $500 to the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation for the Health Literacy Project;
  • $500 to Rainbow Village for their Rotary Media Center;
  • $1,000 to The Path Project for the K-2nd grade Reading and Literacy After School Program; and
  • $1,000 to The Salvation Army in support of their Home Sweet Home Gwinnett Program.

The Rotary Club of Gwinnett County was founded in 1973 and has been serving and giving back to the community for more than 40 years.

Warbington notes: "Rotary's motto is 'Service Above Self.' Our 100+ members are actively engaged on many fronts. We are honored to give of our time, our vocational expertise and our financial resources where we can to help make the world a better place. It is our privilege to serve in this community and it's our hope that these grants will touch and positively impact the lives of thousands."

Gwinnett Rotary also years ago inaugurated ringing the bell for the Salvation Army kettles. More than 80 percent of its members rang the bell for a minimum of two hours this year, ringing at the Wal-Mart off Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville. Their Gwinnett Rotary kettle is anticipated to bring in more than $7,000 during the current bell-ringing season.

Normal relations with Cuba will be good for both nations
Editor and publisher |

DEC. 23, 2014 -- So the United States is going back to normal diplomatic relations with Cuba?

This is good news, both for the Cubans, and as well, for citizens of the United States.


Before the takeover by Castro, and Cuba becoming thoroughly Communistic, the United States enjoyed a good relationship in Cuba. American companies had thriving interests in Cuba, and American vacationers enjoyed visiting there. Cuba welcomed the American tourists. It was good for the country.

Recognize, however, that Cuba had its problems under the Batista government. Foreign owned firms were enriching themselves off the natural resources of the island, often their operations just as oppressive as their government. Poverty was almost standard, wide opening gambling was prevalent, and Cubans virtually welcomed the overthrow and the arrival of Castro. Of course, Cubans never realized the solution might be just as bad as their previous regime.

With the Castro regime, American companies lost their possessions in Cuba, as that country veered hard right. And the reaction from the American government was to seek to isolate Cuba, somewhat effectively, from American commercial and political interests.

Cubans who came to America, meanwhile, have thrived here, through their intelligence, their hard work and stick-to-itive-ness. They tapped into the American work ethic and made it their own.

But Cubans who remained on the island have seen their livelihood crushed by the harsh and antiquated Cuban policies. It's a classic example of how a nation trying to control all aspects of everyday activities, has failed miserably. The Cuban way of life reminds one of another Communist state who failed under state rule, for instance, East Germany.

Now we look to what may happen. Cuban relations with the West should bring much greater prosperity for the country.

The main beneficiaries will be the Cuban people. Among the areas of change anticipated:

  • More consumer goods for Cubans.
  • More American companies setting up operations in Cuba.
  • More Americans vacationing there, enjoying the sun, the surf, the fishing…the food and the Cuban people.
  • More Cubans adopting the modern world, through open communications.
  • Overall, with time, a general improvement in Cuban family welfare.

Georgians, with its close proximity, should find a welcome market for many products, especially agricultural goods, such as chicken and grain crops, and manufactured items, such as tractors and new automobiles.

Cubans meanwhile, will be visiting friends in this country. This becomes a two-way street, with Cubans taking back an understanding of our life, and no doubt, seeking changes in their own.

Here's another thought: baseball has long been a popular major sport in Cuba, and it produces many good players. We can see more Cubans on the roster of American teams. And who knows? Perhaps some day Havana will be an American major league baseball city, as is our neighbor to the north, in Toronto.

The move by President Obama to recognize Cuba after being ostracized more than 50 years came as quite a surprise. While some die-hard anti-Obamists may rant and rave about this move, we feel most Americans will approve of helping bring Cuba into the modern world. The effort could be one of the few legacies of the Obama presidency. We applaud the presidency that opens the doors to Cuba. It should have been done long ago.

We anticipate this new relationship with the United States will be a major means by which Cuba as a nation and as individuals become more of a part of the modern world. We welcome them.

Gwinnett Medical Center

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Gwinnett Medical Center is a nationally-recognized, not-for-profit healthcare network with acute-care hospitals in Lawrenceville and Duluth. Offering cardiovascular, orthopedic and neuroscience specialty care as well as a full continuum of wellness services, GMC's 4,800 associates and 800 affiliated physicians serve more than 400,000 patients annually. Through services like the Concussion Institute and Strickland Heart Center, GMC is continuing to meet evolving community needs. To learn more about how GMC is transforming healthcare, visit or follow us at Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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

Finds Gwinnett legislators working with Koch brothers' ALEC

Editor, the Forum:

A number of people have wondered about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. They wonder who they are, what they do, and who supports them with money and who among the Gwinnett representatives is in their pocket. This is a nonprofit organization founded by Koch brothers and other major corporations.

As an organization, ALEC Is responsible for countless bills that eliminate worker protections, roll back environmental laws and suppress voter rights across the country.

Among their issues are "The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act," which makes it against the law to film/take pictures of livestock slaughter houses; eliminating public schools; and using taxpayer dollars for private schools. Among their other issues include the Stand Your Ground Laws; legislation that prohibits a living wage; and anti-paid sick law.

Moreover, the American Legislative Exchange Council's education agenda puts profits before performance, and corporations before children.

The question is who in Gwinnett county's legislative delegation is a member and subscribes to the secretive radical agendas espoused by ALEC. What's so troubling about our legislature's cozy relationship with a group that sells legislation to the highest corporate bidder? ALEC uses pay-to-play politics and backroom deals to push their dangerous agenda through statehouses across the nation.

Among local legislators working with ALEC are:

House of Representatives:

  • Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-101); Communications and Technology Task Force;
  • Rep. David Casas (R-103); Education Task Force; and
  • Rep. Tom R. Rice (R-51); Public Safety and Elections Task Force .


  • Sen. Renee Unterman (R-45); Health and Human Services Task Force.

Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo have all left ALEC's radical political agenda behind, and resigned from this organization. Shouldn't your representatives do the same?

-- George C. Wilson, Stone Mountain

Raises questions about street lights and underground power lines

Editor, the Forum:

In the story about some communities getting approvals for street lights, it's mentioned that they are required now for new sub-divisions. Seems to me when this happened some of these newer subdivisions also had their power lines and cable installed underground. I'm assuming this was either required with the street lights or somehow became a lower cost alternative to overhead power lines.

So is there a process for older subdivisions who have streetlights and overhead power lines to have them buried? Will these older subdivisions that are getting street lights, getting lights installed on their power poles or are they getting modern buried cables and post mounted street lights? Seems to me the power companies would benefit with buried lines over pole mounted ones.

Secondly there has been a huge hue and cry about the trash bill going on the property tax bill. How come no one opposes the billing of street lights this way? Seems like one would be entirely against it or entirely for it. Just wondering.

-- Tim Sullivan, Buford

Dear Tim: Some of what you say is true. There is no requirement by the county to have underground power lines in new subdivisions. In addition, we understand that there is considerable higher cost for installing underground power lines. There is also a higher cost when repairing power lines buried underground.

However, you raise an interesting philosophical questions on the billing of street lights. While there was a question raised by a vocal minority about billing trash through normal tax methods, the majority of homeowners seemed to have no problem with this. And while you are on the trash subject, it seems to this corner that Gwinnett's method of paying for and hauling off of trash is working pretty well, compared to many problems in other areas. --eeb

Firm proposing 7.7-acre commercial-residential tract in Lilburn

The Lilburn Planning Commission has recommended approval of a proposed development for businesses and residences on the southwest corner of Main Street and Lawrenceville Highway (U.S. Highway 29). The project would be a key piece in the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Lilburn.

Nacoochee Corporation has come forward with a proposal for the 7.7-acre assemblage across Main Street from the future City Hall-Library site. The Lilburn Downtown Development Authority owns the property, which is zoned for commercial use.

The firm plans businesses fronting Lawrenceville Highway and Main Street, and a multi-story residential building fronting Church Street and Main Street. A parking deck would be constructed in the center of the square with the same design elements of the businesses and homes. The property is located within the Lawrenceville Highway Corridor Overlay District, which means it is subject to strict standards for landscaping, architecture, and signage.

There was a public hearing during the Planning Commission meeting on December 18. The Commission voted 4-0 with one absence to recommend approval of a Special Use Permit to accommodate the housing component. There will be a second public hearing and City Council will consider final approval of the permit on January12 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 76 Main Street.

City of Duluth to host Chase Bryant at New Year's celebration

Ring in the New Year with the City of Duluth and country music artist Chase Bryant. The City of Duluth and Kicks 101.5 are joining forces to ring in the New Year in style.

Chase Bryant is an up-and-coming country artist who is taking the music industry by storm. He has been touring with Brantley Gilbert. Check him out at

Besides Chase Bryant , there will be more live entertainment, family friendly activities, a gigantic snow slide, and a winter carnival. The festivities kick off New Year's Eve at 7 p.m. on Duluth Town Green and Amphitheater Stage. The event is free to the public. Party tables are currently on sale.

This is a licensed merchant zone event, have your family and friends meet on the Town Green to kick off the year!

Jackson EMC Foundation grants $18,000 to Gwinnett groups

The Jackson EMC Foundation Board of Directors awarded a total of $86,000 in grants to organizations during their November meeting, including $18,000 to organizations serving Gwinnett County residents. They include:

  • $8,000 to Athens Urban Ministries, a grassroots organization dedicated to assisting those who need a hand up in eight of the counties Jackson EMC serves, to help provide instruction and materials for GED training to promote self-sufficiency.

  • Jackson EMC District Manager Randy Dellinger (left) presents a $5,000 Jackson EMC Foundation grant check to ChildKind representatives, from left, April Saffor, Vice President-COO Stephanie Owens, Kim Boykin, Executive Director Karl Lehman, and Catherine Embry.
    $5,000 to ChildKind, a non-profit supporting families that care for medically fragile children, to help provide in-home care instructions through its Home Based Services program, preparing parents in Banks, Barrow, Gwinnett, Hall and Jackson counties to adequately and successfully care for their child or foster child at home.

  • $5,000 to Freedom from Bondage, an Athens recovery residence for women with drug and substance abuse dependency from Clarke, Banks, Barrow, Gwinnett and Hall counties, to help pay entry fees and rent for those who have no resources, as well as providing bus passes and a desktop computer to help the women look for employment.

Any individual or charitable organization in the ten counties served by Jackson EMC (Clarke, Banks, Barrow, Franklin, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison and Oglethorpe) may apply for a Foundation grant by completing an application, available online or at local Jackson EMC offices. Applicants do not need to be a member of Jackson EMC.

Why is Snellville's Senior Center encased in scaffolding?

Why is there scaffolding around the Snellville Senior Center? Workers are replacing materials not up to standard on the original construction at a cost of $126,000. The materials were further impacted by the recent string of cold winters' freeze and thaw cycles, city officials said.

Paul Hoover, vice president of Precision Planning Inc., the firm in charge of the repairs, says: "The existing cast stone cornice around the perimeter of the building requires repair. The repair will include epoxy injection into the units, removal and repair of mortar joints and an application of protective top coat. The building perimeter will be surrounded in scaffolding for the duration of the work. The project started on the first week of December and will complete in March of 2015. There will be no change in access to the facility during the work."

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
By Melanie Benjamin

First of all, this is not an autobiography. It is a work of fiction. I thought this book was overly sweet and melodramatic, and the author portrayed Mrs. Tom Thumb (Lavinia Warren) as quite vain and conceited. However, it was still an interesting book. Born in Massachusetts to a proud family descended from five Mayflower passengers who had continually intermarried, Lavinia was normal sized at birth but stopped growing at 32 inches. Together, Lavinia and Tom Thumb were among the most famous people in the 1860s, socializing with the Vanderbilts and the cream of society. Even President Abraham Lincoln held a wedding reception for them. With the help of P.T. Barnum, they amassed and spent a fortune over the course of their lives together and were multi-millionaires by today's standards. And -- oddly enough -- they were not in the circus, except for one year toward the end of their careers.

-- Susan McBrayer, Sugar Hill

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

Bobs Candies thrives since 1920, but was sold and is no more

In the 1920s a cherubic child in a red-and-white hat hawked the quintessential Christmas treat-the peppermint candy cane-to Albany natives in an advertisement for a local candy company. Some sixty years later, that family-owned company, known as Bobs Candies, commemorated its place in the national candy and snack-food world by producing the world's largest candy cane, an eight-foot-long crook that weighed more than 100 pounds. In 2005 the company's founding family, the McCormacks, decided to sell the organization to a larger, diversified candy manufacturer in order to keep the family legacy alive.

The candy company began in 1919, when Bob McCormack, an investor based in Birmingham, Ala., visited Albany and decided that it would be a good location for a candy business. Helped by other investors back in Birmingham, McCormack started producing sticks of candy for his Famous Candy Company.

As the economy began to improve in 1940, Americans began purchasing more candies and snacks. But it wasn't long before Bobs Candies fortunes were reversed. A tornado hit Albany's business district on February 10, 1940, killing 17 people and causing an estimated $9 million in storm losses. The Bobs building was among those leveled, and because the company had no tornado insurance, it had to rebuild on its own.

By August 1940 the company was back in business. During World War II (1941-45), when sugar was rationed, coconuts were in short supply, and pecans were expensive, Bobs took advantage of a plentiful local product-the peanut-and sold peanut-butter crackers and vacuum-packed peanuts.

By the end of the 1950s Bobs was producing 1.8 million sticks of candy each day and had national sales of $3.3 million. McCormack Sr. died in 1967 before he could see the company's new facilities, which opened in 1968 and included a climate-controlled storage area.

In spring 2005 the McCormacks sold the company to Farley's and Sathers Candy Company, a large distributor that manages such major candy brands as Now and Later, Jujyfruits, and Super Bubble. Farley's and Sathers shut down all of Bobs Candies' Albany operations by the end of 2005.

The devil is in the details

You often catch fleeting glances of objects when you are out and around and vacationing. Can any of GwinnettForum readers recognize this devil looking out at you? If you know where you saw it, tell us where it is. Send your answers to, and be sure to include your hometown.

Last edition's mystery was sent in by Karen Garner of Dacula, and several people immediately recognized it. Ross Lenhart of Pawley's Island, S.C., was first, identifying "Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy."

Michael Keefe of Lawrenceville came in next, then Cindy Hall of Snellville said: "This looks like the Amalfi Coast in Italy to me." Ruthy Lachman Paul of Norcross and James Savadelis of Suwanee also sent in the right answers.

New officers

The Philadelphia Winn Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution has named new officers. The chapter, which has 185 members, is located in Lawrenceville. The new officers for 1014-16 are, ascending, Regent Lydia McGill, Snellville; First Vice Regent Kitty Watters, Duluth; Second Vice Regent Ann Story, Bethlehem; Treasurer Connie Rifkind, Lilburn; Registrar Cindy Gaskins, Buford; Historian Helen Dalton, Buford; Mary Swint, Lawrenceville; Sandi Christman, Grayson; and Linda Olson, Monroe,. Not pictured is Librarian Jean Axelberg, Auburn.


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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.


During the holidays, there will be only one edition of the Forum each week. The next edition will be published Wednesday, December 31, 2014. -- eeb


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.

About That True Meaning of Christmas

"Aren't we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know, the birth of Santa."

-- The Simpson's creator, Matt Groening (1954 - ).



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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