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Last week we left out this photo of the Snellville Senior Center shrouded in scaffolding. You may remember the buildings had some engineering problems, and repairs are underway to solve the problems.

Issue 14.77 | Dec. 31, 2014

:: Andersonville tour

:: New board game is fun

About Cuba, CIA

L'ville RINGS, treecycling

Leadership classes

:: Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

:: The Little Book Store at Big Stone Gap

:: On post office photos

:: Horticulture in Ga.

:: Only 1 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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Buy the book on Gwinnett's history


Andersonville (prison) historic site offers special tours Jan. 3

Special to Gwinnett Forum
| permalink

ANDERSONVILLE, Ga., Dec. 31, 2014 -- Following General Sherman's decisive march to the coast in 1864, the prison population at Andersonville increased from a few hundred United States prisoners to over 5,000 men. Many of these prisoners had been held in numerous prisons across the South, and each man hoped never to see Andersonville again.

That winter their worst fears were realized when they re-entered the dreaded stockade in December. At Andersonville they found a plowed stockade, and increased rules that reflected a concerted reorganization of the prison by its commander.

On Jan. 1, 1865, Captain Henry Wirz issued a new set of rules and regulations for the prison under his control, hoping to curb escape attempts. The orders issued in January introduced two roll calls each day, and reintroduced the withholding of rations if a single prisoner was unaccounted for. Prisoners could request an audience with Wirz, but they were also reminded that no prisoner should cross the deadline, speak to a guard on post or purchase anything from the guards. To do otherwise would risk being shot.

You can join park staff members and volunteers for special programs on the first Saturday of January (Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015), to learn more about the Andersonville Prison. There is no admission fee and all programs are open to the public.

  • 10 a.m. Special Program: The Road To Andersonville: Departure. Join a park ranger on a guided walk following in the footsteps of the 45,000 United States soldiers held at Andersonville prison from 1864-1865. The tour begins at the National Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville National Historic Site and lasts one and a half hour. Reservations are required for this program and may be obtained online at

  • 11 a.m. Prison Site Walk: Join longtime volunteer Jimmy Culpepper at the Wisconsin Monument to explore the history of the prison site.

  • 1 p.m. The Burying Ground: A Walk through the Andersonville National Cemetery: Join a park ranger to walk through the Andersonville National Cemetery and learn more about the process of burying the dead at the Andersonville Prison. Meet at the Georgia Monument.

  • 3 p.m. Prison Site Talk: "Death Before Dishonor": Captors of both sides recruited within their military prisons, looking for men desperate enough to switch their loyalties. This process became known as "galvanizing." Would you switch sides to change your life? Join a park ranger at the prison site to explore the choices prisoners made.

All programs are subject to change due to weather and other concerns.

* * * * *

Andersonville National Historic Site is located 10 miles south of Oglethorpe, Ga. and 10 miles northeast of Americus, Ga., on Georgia Highway 49. The national park features the National Prisoner of War Museum, Andersonville National Cemetery and the site of the historic Civil War prison, Camp Sumter.

Andersonville National Historic Site is the only national park within the National Park System to serve as a memorial to all American prisoners of war. Park grounds are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The National Prisoner of War Museum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily. Admission is free. For more information on the park, call 229 924-0343, or visit at

Fun with granddaughters in "Name Five," a new board game
Editor and publisher |

DEC. 31, 2014 -- When you spend some of your Christmas vacation with your granddaughters, you learn. They both like board games. Many of the new games are obtuse, or complicated, or just not fun. But one gift this year proved popular with them, and with me, too.


It was a simple game from Endless Games ($29.99, or discounted as low as $14.63) called "Name Five." We took to it immediately. It had a "board," where individuals or teams took trips through many landings to get to the center of the board, and be declared the winner. Another quick but tough way to win the entire game was to answer correctly five questions in a row. No one did with us playing.

Depending on which location on the board you landed, you were asked a question from one of 288 cards. Each card consisted of five questions, and you answered the question corresponding to the color of the circle you landed on. If you landed on the red square, for instance, you answered the red question.

Some questions were easy; some were hard. Some had easy to understand answers, which other answers were open-ended. Here's the catch: you had only 30 seconds to answer. A 30-second sand glass timer signaled that time was up.

Each card had as its five questions, each color coded. Each card asked you to "Name Five," such as:

  • Red: Break-up Songs;
  • Yellow: Foods named after places;
  • Purple: Breakfast cereals;
  • Blue: Major league pitchers; or
  • Green: Purple foods.

Many of the categories were really hard. asking the players to name five of the Seven Seas; five soap operas (hard for me), or five songs with mountain in the lyrics; or five living celebrity families. Or bad invention dates. It was not as easy as it looks.

On the board, there were several places for the player to land which meant that the player had to "Double Down." This required the player to read the five questions on the card, then choose from two of the five question, and then answer both questions....all within 30 seconds. Wow! That was tough. At one time one of the granddaughters aced a "Double Down."

Every time you "named five" correctly, you got another round. Otherwise, the other player or team got a chance.

Many answers might be heard without a challenge, when the player spoke with confidence, or loud....and didn't get challenged!

For instance, one question was name five major league baseball teams that wore red hats. You might remember the Cardinals, Reds, Phillies, and Angels ... and one more. We said Red Sox (wrong!) and didn't get challenged! (There are nine.)

We all know that often board games flop. We think this Name Five game has enough zest, provides lot so fun in its interactions, and makes you think quickly, so to become a success. You'll enjoy it, especially if you play with your grandkids.

* * * * *

One more thought at this time of year: Am I the only one wondering if all this hull-a-boo of the North Koreans trying to stop distribution of The Interview could be a most devious ploy by none other than Sony to get attention directed at what many think is a weak and not very good movie? After all, Sony could rely on the North Koreans having little to say. And, from the publicity and the packed houses at theatres, if it was a ploy, it worked!

Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's sponsor is the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. From answering your questions and providing a host of useful information, to promoting growth in our county, there are people working every day to help make Gwinnett a place where businesses thrive and success lives.

Does not need to go to Cuba to sit and sip

Editor, the Forum:

The people who praise President Obama for normalizing relationship with Cuba see the money that can be made but are looking past the evil of the regime that controls Cuba. They point to nebulous pie in the sky and say that in time the Cuban government will see the error of its ways AND make nice to their own people.

The Castro brothers are very old people. Their passing on would have been the Cuban people's best chance for freedom. Now we will likely see a passing of the rule from one Communist to another Communist. To think that the Communists of 50 years ago were meaner than the Communists of today is ignoring the facts of life in Cuba for the ordinary Cubans. These apologists for the Castro brothers say, "It may be bad but it will get better" (AND, in the meantime, they will make a lot of money).

I have read about the murders AND confiscations of private property of Castro's liberation in this book: Exposing The Real Che Guevara by Humberto Fontova.

I always cringe when I see a young person walking around with a T-Shirt on with that famous picture of Che Guevara on it. The best that can be said of the wearer is that he does not know who Che Guevara is.

Is President Obama's "new" Cuba going to bring back the murdered? Is the "new" Cuba going to release the many political prisoners still rotting in jail? Is the "new" Cuba going to return the businesses that were confiscated & homes that were confiscated?

I do not need to go to a Cuban beach to sit and sip a drink with a little umbrella in it. I can do that on lots of beaches in this free country.

-- Alex J. Ortolano, Duluth

Remembers stint in Washington in a CIA front

Editor, the Forum:

Let's consider movies that show the "truth" about the CIA watching over our military. The last movie I shared should be Lambs for Lions. I ended up working for a front for the CIA in which we were constantly being visited by those who wore the Annapolis ring.

So, one day I asked if they knew my brother in law, (who also graduated from Annapolis), and they said they did, but did not like him, as he -- my brother in law -- was "too black and white."

We had one employee who thought I was placed there to keep an eye on him! I kept telling him that I had called the office to see if they needed any help and that is how I got the job. He never believed me and would keep his door open and talk VERY loud, so I could hear him, even though I would go to close it and he would tell me not to.

One morning he asked me if I had heard the latest out of D.C. and went on to say: "One of our guys got in to talk with the president" (Clinton was president at that time). "Our guy" meaning the CIA. We were an international business.

-- Debbie Willis, Peachtree Corners

Lawrenceville RINGS returns for 11th celebration tonight

The Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association (LTTA), in partnership with the City of Lawrenceville will host the 11th Annual Lawrenceville RINGS New Year's Eve celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. Attracting thousands of attendees to the City's Historic Downtown Square, Lawrenceville RINGS Festivities will begin at 7 p.m. and conclude with a fireworks celebration to "RING" in the New Year at midnight.

Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson says: "Lawrenceville RINGS is one of our small town traditions and we look forward to celebrating it with residents, visitors and neighbors from all over Atlanta and the State of Georgia. So join us on December 31!"

Lawrenceville RINGS will host live music from multiple bands including The Neons as well as a kid's zone of activities, food and beverage vendors and a large fireworks display at midnight to usher in 2015.

Mark Mullin, President of the LTTA Board of Directors, says: "Lawrenceville RINGS is an annual event that brings together the local community, businesses and visitors to celebrate what we have accomplished in 2014 and what is on the horizon for 2015, RINGS is an excellent event filled with music, fireworks and celebration. Great dining, shopping and activities are available throughout the Downtown. We look forward to a very successful 11th Annual event and invite everyone to join us in Lawrenceville this New Year's Eve."

Suwanee treecycling campaign in Jan. 3 at Sims Park

When your cut Christmas tree is past its fragrant, sparkly prime, give it a new sense of purpose through the City of Suwanee's "treecycling" campaign, which is part of Keep Georgia Beautiful's annual Bring One for the Chipper program.

Area residents may drop off their former live Christmas trees at Sims Lake Park, located at 4600 Suwanee Dam Road, from December 26 through January 31. Decorations, lights, and stands should be removed from all trees, which will be mulched for use in City parks. Last year, mulch from more than 1,200 former Christmas trees was spread in Suwanee parks.

Volunteers will be available to assist with unloading and northern red oak, redbud, and dogwood seedlings will be handed out (while supplies last) from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, January 3.

  • Adult and teen volunteers are needed to assist January 3. To volunteer, contact Tammy Hiler at 770-945-8996.

Snellville presents works of two artists starting Jan. 8

The walls of the City Hall Art Gallery will feature the works of Marcella Hayes Muhammad and Leroy Banks beginning January 8.

Muhammad focuses on African-American themes through the styles of abstract and realism. She says: "Formal art training and many years of practice have allowed me to use more than one form of style to express myself. As a retired teacher, I am more of a narrative painter using my skills with realism to capture history and culture from the African-American perspective. I strive to create emotion and thought from my art. I use my signature style that I developed and have named Plastic Space abstract which explores the motion of light around objects, to tell stories of my culture and history."

The gallery, located in the Community Room of City Hall, 2342 Oak Road, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Muhammad and Banks' art will be on display until February 26. There will be a reception for this exhibit from 2 to 6 p.m. January 17.

Nominations being accepted for 2 different leadership classes

Nominations are now open for the Leadership Gwinnett Class of 2016 (August 2015 - May 2016). Now entering its 31st year, this nine-month-long Leadership Gwinnett program has been the choice course for the community's influential and esteemed leaders.

Meeting and interacting with influential leaders in business, government, arts, education and health and human services, drives positive change to the region. Nominate your circle of established leaders in business, government, education and nonprofit organizations for the next class of change-agents. There is no organization in Gwinnett with greater connections and relationships than Leadership Gwinnett.

Applications are due March 31. The initial program for the 2015 class starts in August.

* * * * *

Another of the Leadership Gwinnett programs is Glance Gwinnett.

This is a shorter-term program, lasting 2.5 days. The next Glance Gwinnett program will be from February 19-21, 2015. Nominations deadline is February 10. For those colleagues who cannot participate in the longer leadership program, Glance Gwinnett is an action-packed program that introduces participants to an overview of Gwinnett. Glance registrants will get a "glance" of the arts, economic development, city and county governance, education, health and human services, and more. The program delivers information about the challenges in Gwinnett and how, as leaders, they can commit to engagement on whatever level they wish. Many of those participants leave with wanting more and are applying to the full program.

Essay to determine winners of Constitutional Officer Scholarships

The Constitutional Officers of Gwinnett County, Sheriff Butch Conway, Clerk of Courts Richard Alexander, Probate Judge Christopher Ballar and Tax Commissioner Richard Steele, in partnership with the Constitutional Officers Association of Georgia, tell of a scholarship contest for Georgia high school seniors and current college undergraduates.

Each year, the Constitutional Officer's Association of Georgia offers Georgia students a chance to win scholarships. This year, the association will offer three scholarships, one each in the amounts of $1,500, $1,000 and $500. To be eligible for this year's scholarship, students must be residents of Georgia, graduate from high school by the spring of 2015, or be enrolled in an accredited Georgia college or university. Students must also seek a degree in a field related to government/law enforcement, political science, accounting, finance, business or pre-law.

To apply, applicants must submit a typed, 1,000-word essay that answers the question "How can the local governing authority and the four local constitutional officers in your county partner together to provide a more efficient and cost-effective government?" and provide a letter of acceptance or enrollment from an institution of higher education, a copy of a college application or transcript to provide verification of degree field, and the COAG scholarship application.

All completed applications, documentation and completed essays should be mailed flat in a 9x12 envelope to Suzanne Cross, COAG, P.O. Box 1644, Decatur, Ga. 30031, by April 1, 2015.

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.

  • CLICK HERE to see the complete list of projects, which was missing from this story in the previous edition.

The Little Book Store at Big Stone Gap
By Wendy Welch

This is the true story of an American woman and her Scottish husband who decided to turn their backs on the fast track and open a used bookstore in Big Stone Gap, a small town in the Virginia mountains. Sounds like a dream come true for most people, right? Well, throw into the mix the fact that they had very little money; the town had no industry; the economy was on a down swing; the locals were suspicious; e-books were taking off; plus they had no idea how to run a business! They faced lots of ups and downs, both with the house and with the local characters they had to deal with. They were blindsided several times, and I would never have foreseen some of their problems or the clever things they did to drum up business. Did they succeed or go down the tubes? Read it and see.

-- Susan McBrayer, Sugar Hill

We need your help: We are about out of reviews of various sorts, of books, movies, videos, restaurants, or anything else you want to share with GwinnettForum readers. Keep your review short, and readers will enjoy them. Now get busy and write us a review.

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

Horticulture in Georgia is significant and expanding component

Horticulture is a significant and expanding component of agriculture in Georgia, ranking second only to the production of poultry. This industry represents production, processing, and marketing of vegetables, fruits, nuts, trees, flowers, and shrubs. Horticulture also includes such service trades as florist shops, landscaping services, and garden centers.
The diversity of horticultural products grown in our state is extensive, given its varied climates and soil types. The cool valleys of the north Georgia mountains are excellent for apples, cabbage, sweet corn, and muscadine grapes.

The long growing season and warm sandy soils of the Coastal Plain in the southern part of the state are ideal for most vegetables and fruits, including tomatoes, peppers, watermelons, and squash. The central Piedmont's sloping hills and clay soils are good for in-ground production of ornamental trees and shrubs and for the production of peaches.
Greenhouses and container nurseries have sprung up in almost every county in the state because of greatly increased demand from urban markets. They produce herbs, bedding plants, vegetable transplants, and perennials.

Development of horticultural products has a long history, beginning with the first settlers that came to Georgia. The first colonists depended upon locally grown produce and selected seeds from plants that yielded well. Seeds of vegetable, apple, melon, corn, and squash varieties were handed down generation to generation, shared between families, and maintained.

This practice extended through the 1950s, making the culture of vegetables and fruits a staple activity for most rural Georgia families. Many of these original lines, now known as heritage varieties, are still grown by gardeners interested in history or are maintained in breeding programs geared toward developing plants tolerant of Georgia's climate.

Floriculture, or the science of growing flowers, has had an interesting history since the beginning of the 1800s. During the Victorian era flowering houseplants, indoor terrariums, and extensive perennial gardens became popular. Use of bedding plants such as marigolds became widespread in the late 1940s, after World War II (1941-45). In the 1970s, as interest in the environment grew, houseplants again achieved phenomenal popularity. By the mid-1980s the use of pansies for winter color became so extensive in Atlanta, and later statewide, that it nearly doubled the incomes of most greenhouse owners. Another trend is a return to the use of perennials, and the market now has more than 1,200 cultivars to choose from.

The combined current economic value of horticulture is more than $2.4 billion. The vegetable segment is by far the fastest growing and the largest, representing more than $635 million in farm gate value (the value of a product when it leaves the growing site), a sixty-three-fold increase over the last thirty years. The fruit and nut segment of the industry produces pecans, peaches, and other fruits, which generate more than $210 million in farm gate value.

Perhaps most visible to the average citizen, the greenhouse and nursery segment is also growing rapidly, along with housing starts, large chain home-improvement stores, and an awakened interest in gardening. The farm gate value for greenhouse, nursery, and turf production is well over $516 million annually. The horticultural service industry, which represents retail florists, lawn care services, and landscaping and garden centers, generates more than $1 billion annually. Overall, the horticulture industry has expanded fifteen-fold since 1970, making it one of the few consistently profitable segments of agriculture in Georgia, and one in which even small family-owned businesses can still thrive. Georgia's excellent airports and highways make it possible to ship products worldwide.

(To be continued)

Along a highway, on the water ...

See if you can identify this location for this edition's Mystery Photo. There's a highway, and possibility a body of water, and some other features. But where is it? Send your answers to, and be sure to include your hometown.

Give Kellie Griffin of Suwanee a big congratulations. She was the only person to recognize last edition's Mystery Photo. She wrote: "The mystery photo is a water fountain in the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Gardens. My husband and I married in a small garden around the corner from this fountain and took many family photos in front of it."

The mystery photo came from Bob Foreman of Grayson, who wrote: "I took this photo last year at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It is at the entrance to the Children's Garden area. It seems kind of scary for the children's garden, with such an ugly face. My grandchildren called it an "ugly monster." This type of fountain sculpture is called a wall fountain, a face fountain or a fountain face. The Atlanta Botanical Garden has a lot of great outdoor sculpture."


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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.


The next edition of GwinnettForum will be published on January 6, and be back on a regular Tuesday-Friday cycle. -- 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.

Are Post Office Criminal Photos Displayed in Wrong Place?

"Why do they put pictures of criminals on the Post Office bulletin boards? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they put their pictures on postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?"

-- From Tom DuBose, (1935- ), Macon.




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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