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ON DISPLAY: One of the featured artists at the Kudzu Art Zone in Norcross this week is Sara Grossman, with this "Lazy Day" painting. Check out other artists at this gallery on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Issue 14.79 | Jan. 9, 2015

:: Why black-eyed peas on New Year's

:: Gwinnett to host Deal's inaugural party

Send us your letters

"Build It Green" is center's program

GMC named Ga's top large hospital

:: Precision Planning, Inc.

:: A Murder is Announced

:: Why some are thought brave

:: John Houstoun, state's 2nd governor

:: Only two recognized photo


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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Here's why Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day

Special to Gwinnett Forum
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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., Jan. 9, 2015 -- Did you have black-eyed peas on New Year's Day?

If you grew up in the South, then you can relate. I grew up with this tradition, and did not know the real reason. When growing up in Terrell County, my mother always served black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. She said it would bring good luck in the new year.

I've carried this tradition forward but never knew the reason behind it. It became a way of remembrance for my mother and grandmother. "Black Eyed Peas: The Real Story," is much more interesting and has gone untold in fear that feelings would be hurt.

It is a story of war, the most brutal and bloody war in U.S. history-the Civil war. Military might and power pushed upon civilians, women, children, and elderly. Never seen as a war crime, this was the policy of the greatest nation on earth trying to maintain that status at all costs. An unhealed wound remains in the hearts of some people of the Southern states even today.

The story of the black-eyed pea being considered good luck relates directly to Major General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea in late 1864. It was called The Savannah Campaign. It began on November 15, 1864 when Sherman's troops marched from the captured city of Atlanta and ended at the port of Savannah on December 22, 1864. When the smoke cleared, Southerners who had survived the onslaught came out of hiding. They found that the blue-uniformed aggressors had looted and stolen everything of value, and everything you could eat, including all livestock was stolen or killed.

Death and destruction were everywhere. While in hiding, few had enough to eat, and starvation was now facing the survivors. There was no international aid, no Red Cross meal trucks. The Northern army had taken everything they could carry and eaten everything they could eat.

But they couldn't take it all. The devastated people of the South found for some unknown reason that Sherman's blood-thirsty troops had left silos full of black-eyed peas. At the time in the north, the lowly black-eyed pea was only used to feed livestock. The northern troops saw it as the item of least value. Taking grain for their horses and livestock and other crops to feed themselves, they just couldn't take everything.

So they left the black eyed peas in great quantities, assuming it would be of no use to the survivors, since all the livestock it could feed had either been taken, eaten or killed. Southerners awoke to face a new year in this devastation. They were facing massive starvation. But they had the good luck of having the black eyed peas overlooked, or at least not considered.

Therefore, New Year's Day 1865 forward, the tradition grew for Southerners to eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck.

My family enjoyed black eyed peas on New Year's Day because I was raised a true Southerner.

Gwinnett Arena to host Gov. Deal's Inaugural Gala on Jan. 15
Editor and publisher |

JAN. 9, 2014 -- Gwinnett will be the party capitol of Georgia next Thursday, January 15, as Governor Nathan Deal holds his inaugural gala at the Gwinnett Arena. At least 5,000 people are expected (confirmations are still coming in), as the party begins at 6 p.m. The dignitaries and invited guests will be entertained by several performers, including country music singer Alan Jackson of Newnan, local favorites Banks and Shane, and the Brody Jackson Band, based in the North Georgia area outside Chattanooga.


Emphasizing the talent to be at the event, Governor Deal says that "Georgia is blessed with a deep pool of talented musicians, and some of the most famous call Georgia home. I look forward to enjoying the performers at the inaugural gala."

Interestingly, though Governor Deal has served one term as governor already, this will be his first inaugural gala, as the 2011 party, scheduled for the Cobb Energy Center, was canceled because of harsh winter weather in 2011. That makes the gala in Gwinnett the first time such as function has been held outside downtown Atlanta.

The actual inaugural is this coming Monday, January 12, at 2 p.m. in the open air at the new Liberty Plaza, the government plaza adjacent to the Capitol.

Leading the inaugural team is Tom Willis, who has been the governor' s campaign manager for two years. Co-chairing the Inaugural Committee is Tricia Pridemore, and Edens Davis. Pridemore has worked previously in the governor's office in several positions, and was a candidate for Congress in the 11th District last year. Davis has been active in Republican affairs and is the director of governmental relations for Connect South.

More than 10,000 invitations were sent out for the event. Those getting invitations to the event may purchase general admission tickets ($50) or VIP Headliner seating for $75. One spokesman said that those invited were "flooding in" to attend the event.

As of Thursday, the Arena is expected to provide about 300 seats on the Arena floor for VIPs, with other attendees in regular seating or in the private suites surrounding the Arena floor. No plated meal is provided though attendees will have access to the complimentary food on the concourses and from concessions booths around the Arena, according to Darrell Willms of Proof of the Pudding.

Meanwhile, Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau officials are mighty pleased to have Gwinnett chosen as the site for the gala. Lisa Anders of the Bureau says that the Bureau has reserved some 700 rooms in area hotels for the event. That includes The Sonesta Gwinnett Place, Holiday Inn at Gwinnett Center, Wyndham Garden Inn in Duluth, The Courtyard Marriott at Gwinnett Mall, the Hilton Garden Inn at Sugarloaf, the Atlanta Marriott at Peachtree Corners, Hilton Atlanta Northeast, and the Residence Inn, Hampton, and Homewood facilities in the Sugarloaf area.

Anders adds: "With the transportation provided, and other activities from these attendees, it will well be a six-figure bonanza for the Gwinnett hospitality industry."

Gwinnett's arena is almost a natural for the inaugural gala, with Governor Deal being associated so closely with nearby Gainesville and Hall County (though his home now is in Habersham County), and having so many friends there.

So, come on over, Governor, and enjoy your inaugural gala in Gwinnett.

Precision Planning, Inc.

The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring to you at no cost to readers. Today's underwriter is Precision Planning, Inc., a multi-disciplined design firm based in Lawrenceville, Georgia with a 32-year history of successful projects. In-house capabilities include Architecture; LEED® Project Management; Civil, Transportation and Structural Engineering; Water Resources Engineering; Landscape Architecture; Interior Design; Land and City Planning; Land Surveying; and Grant Administration. PPI has worked diligently to improve the quality of life for Georgia communities through creative, innovative planned developments, through the design of essential infrastructure and public buildings, and through promoting good planning and development principles. Employees and principals are involved in numerous civic, charitable and community based efforts in and around Gwinnett County.

  • For more information, visit our website at or call 770-338-8103.

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

Rant, rave, send us a letter

An invitation: We encourage readers to submit feedback (or letters to the editor). Send your thoughts to the editor at We will edit for length and clarity. Make sure to include your name and the city where you live. Submission of a comment grants permission for us to reprint. Please keep your comments to 300 words or less. However, we will consider longer articles (no more than 500 words) for featuring in Today's Issue as space allows.

"Build It Green" is theme of Jan. 19 program at Heritage Center

The Environmental and Heritage Center (EHC) plans to explore STEM (science - technology - engineering - math) with a "Build It Green" event that highlights the sustainable features of its own building.

The Environmental and Heritage Center's new turtle pond is one of the features it will highlight during its Build It Green event on January 19.

Build it Green will take place at the EHC on Monday, January 19, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Program fees for the event are $5 for ages 13 and older, $3 for ages 3 to 12 and free for children two and younger and EHC members. (The EHC was the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building in Gwinnett County. Its green features include one of the largest, sloped vegetated roofs in the country.)

Activities for guests at the Build It Green event will include constructing a model building with recycled and edible materials, learning about the relationship between architecture and ecosystems and understanding how green building methods benefit the watershed.

Guests will attempt to design an earthquake proof building and test its resilience on a LEGO EV3 shake board. There will also be opportunities to experiment and build with K'NEX and photovoltaic cells as well as some free building LEGO and K'NEX stations.

As an added bonus to the day, the EHC will offer multiple showings of the recent premier of NatGeo Wild Pond Stars. The reality television show features details on the design and build of the EHC's new turtle pond.

  • For more information on the Build It Green event and the Environmental and Heritage Center, visit

Bosom Buddies duo returning for another Snellville show

Back by popular demand, the Bosom Buddies, Gail Mosby and Kathie Van Landingham, will share stories of their lifelong friendship from their book Thanks for the Lift, Bosom Buddy! on January 22.

The duo will start the free book reading and night of entertainment at 7 p.m. in the Community Room in Snellville City Hall, 2342 Oak Road. The authors shared their relationship based on faith, love and laughter last year.

Judy Leavell, of the Snellville Arts Commission, which is putting on the production, says: "These ladies don't just read from their book; they do a presentation with props and costumes, which is delightful. It's best suited for ladies and makes a good 'Girls' Night Out'."

"Joy of Movement" Kudzu Art Show will begin Jan. 16

Kudzu Art Zone and Galleries are beginning the New Year with a new exhibit, "Joy of Movement," which will open January 16 and continue with a reception for the public on Friday January 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. It will be on exhibit through Saturday February 28. The member artists working in various media will show their individual ideas about movement or how movement resonates with them.

The galleries are located in downtown Norcross and are open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.. There are also artists' working studios with opportunities to meet artists at work. Another feature is a "Wall of Small" with original, affordable works available. Also please check the website to see the exciting new classes being offered this winter.

Show of exotic pets, Repticon, comes Jan. 10-11 to Lawrenceville

Repticon, a nationwide promoter of reptile and exotic animal expos, brings its unique blend of vendors, breeders, and educators back to the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds In Lawrenceville, for a family-oriented, event on Saturday, January 10 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The expo brings thousands of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, spiders, and small exotic animals to area enthusiasts. Top breeders and vendors will offer animals, merchandise, cages, supplies, live and frozen feeders, and much more, as well as their expert advice where needed. In addition, seminars by industry experts will educate and entertain throughout the
event. Many of the seminars feature live animals with an opportunity for guests to interact with.

  • Tickets are available the door. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12. Children under 5 are admitted free.

Gwinnett Medical Center named as top large hospital in Georgia

The Gwinnett Medical Center has been recognized by Georgia Trend as the top large hospital in the state. The data used to compile the rankings came from publicly available information on quality of care, patient satisfaction, mortality and readmission statistics and hospital acquired infections and conditions. The information comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

To determine the rankings, Georgia Trend staff members grouped hospitals of similar size and mission together and compared them with their peer institutions.

Each year, Georgia Trend produces an annual Top Hospitals feature, which includes a number of various rankings including Top Teaching Hospitals, Top Large Hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals, among others. Gwinnett Medical Center was categorized among those hospitals having 400 or more beds.

Phil Wolfe, president and CEO of Gwinnett Medical Center, says: "It's gratifying to see our commitment to excellence reflected in these rankings. We are proud that the work of our talented and dedicated physicians and staff has garnered statewide recognition."

DOT at work on project on Highway 347 near Braselton with detour

The Georgia Department of Transportation announces a detour is in place now on Georgia Highway 347/Friendship Road in Braselton. A total of 500 feet of Dunbar Road closest to its intersection with Highway 347 is now closed so the grade of Dunbar can be raised to meet the grade of the new Highway 347. The closure may last a maximum of 21 days to January 27, 2015. If the weather cooperates, the roadway could open sooner.

A signed detour route is Dunbar Road to Sardis Church Road to Thompson Mill Road to Spout Springs Road to Highway 347.

The contract for construction of this 7.97 mile long project is $38.4 million and the contract was awarded to E.R. Snell Contracting Inc. of Snellville, Georgia. The contract completion date for the entire project is January 12, 2016.

More highway improvements coming along U.S. Highway 78

Pedestrian and intersection improvements are coming to two new schools that will open in August and an intersection on U.S. Highway 78. The county approved construction contracts for the three SPLOST-funded projects recently.

The Graves Road intersection at McDonough Drive will get a traffic signal and an entrance to the new Graves Elementary School will be created. The $2.1 million contract, which also includes area sidewalks that connect the school to Graves Park, went to low bidder C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc.

The existing signal will be modified and turn lanes and sidewalks will be installed at the entrance to the new Baggett Elementary School at Old Norcross Road and Oakland Road. CMES Inc. of Lilburn was the lowest of five bidders at $1 million for the contract that also includes new turn lanes on Cruse Road.
Both projects will be complete prior to the August school opening dates.

A third project will relocate the intersection of U.S. Highway 78 and Old Highway 78 across from Walton Court to create a four-pronged intersection. A separate project to follow will build a parallel access road along U.S. Highway 78 between Britt Road and the new intersection. CMES Inc. was the lowest of three bidders at $852,256. The project is funded 67 percent by the Evermore Community Improvement District, 27 percent by the state, and 6 percent by the 2009 SPLOST program. Work should be finished by early 2016.

A Murder is Announced
By Agatha Christie

Although any Agatha Christie book is like comfort food to me, this one is my favorite. It was written during the golden age of the British detective novels and is what's known as a 'cozy mystery.' The setting is a small village in the genteel English Cotswolds, where everybody knows everybody. One day an ad in the local paper announces that a murder will be committed at 6:30 p.m. that night at the home of an elderly village lady and the neighbors are invited. Everyone shows up. Sure enough, at 6:30, with people gather in the lady's living room, the lights go out, two shots are fired and somebody dies. The redoubtable Jane Marple shows up to see if she can uncover information the police can't. More deaths follow and there is a confusing mix of characters. But it's worth it in the end.

-- Susan McBrayer, Sugar Hill

* * * * *

An invitation: W hat 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

Houstoun served as second governor of Georgia

John Houstoun was twice governor of Georgia, the first mayor of the city of Savannah, and an early supporter of independence from Britain. He commanded the Georgia militia in the invasion of Florida during the American Revolution (1775-83) and represented Georgia in the Continental Congress. Houston County, in central Georgia, is named in his honor.

The date and place of Houstoun's birth are not known. The best evidence indicates that he was born sometime between 1746 and 1748 in either Frederica or on the Houstoun plantation, Rosdue. Houstoun's father was Sir Patrick Houstoun, fifth baronet of Scotland, who was one of the earliest settlers of the colony of Georgia. His mother, Priscilla Dunbar, came from Scotland to Georgia in 1736. John Houstoun married Hannah Bryan, though the date of this union is unknown. They had no children.

Houstoun practiced law in Savannah for many years before he began his career in politics. In 1774 he joined Archibald Bulloch, George Walton, and Noble W. Jones in calling for a meeting of "all persons" to discuss "the arbitrary and alarming" acts of the British government. In 1775 Houstoun attended the Georgia Provincial Congress as a representative from Savannah. There he was elected as one of five delegates to represent Georgia at the Continental Congress. Of these five, three-Houstoun, Bulloch, and the Reverend John J. Zubly -traveled to Philadelphia and became Georgia's first representatives at the Continental Congress.

Houstoun, Bulloch, and Zubly were suitable choices for this responsibility. Each represented a major faction of those in Georgia who opposed the policies of the British. Bulloch represented the large numbers of Georgians who favored independence from Britain and supported the measures to stop the importation of British goods. Zubly represented the many who opposed both independence and the non-importation agreements. Houstoun spoke effectively for those who favored independence but opposed the restrictions on trade called for by the policies of nonimportation. Early in his tenure at Congress, Houstoun joined Zubly in favoring measures designed to relax some of the requirements of the nonimportation agreements. In 1776, though elected to serve, he did not return to Congress and thus did not sign the Declaration of Independence. Instead, he remained in Georgia, where he provided effective opposition to Zubly's efforts to convince the citizens of Georgia to oppose independence.

On January 8, 1778, Houstoun was elected Georgia's second governor. Conservatives such as Lachlan McIntosh, who felt aggrieved by the policies and actions of Georgia's first governor, the radical John Treutlen, welcomed Houstoun's election. His first order of business was to improve the miserable military position of the new state.

(To be continued)

Yep, it's a plaza

OK. This edition's Mystery Photo is obviously a plaza, and looks old world. But where is this plaza? Tell us where you think it is by sending an email to, and be sure to include your hometown.

Two people recognized the last mystery photo, sent in by Susan McBrayer of Sugar Hill. (Actually Susan recognized it too, but sent it in a few months ago!) Ruthy Lachman Paul said it was "The Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island." She added: "You had few months ago The Chinese Tea House as the Mystery Photo from this same area."

Then Bob Foreman of Grayson emailed: "I was in Newport, R.I. this last Fall and took the tour of mansions of the area. This one is called Marble House."


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2015, 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.

Why Some People Are Considered as Brave

"Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away."

-- English clergyman and historian Thomas Fuller (1608 - 1661).




Southern Wings Bird Club will meet January 12, 2015 at the Gwinnett Justice and Administrative Center, in Conference Room C at 7 p.m. A movie, A Birder's Guide to Everything, will be shown. Bring snacks to enjoy this 86 minute movie, starring Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley.

(NEW) Georgia Cares Presentation, Monday, January 26 at 10:30 a.m. at the Gwinnett Council for Seniors office, 196 East Pike Street, Lawrenceville. Learn more about health insurance information, counseling and assistance for senior adults, and their families as well as other eligible individuals when they need help understanding Medicare. Call 770 822 5247 to make a 45 minute appointment.

(NEW) Photographing Your Own Work Workshop: January 31, 10 a.m. until noon at Kudzu Art Zone in Norcross. Are you an artist or business owner who uses images of your work/product online or on a business card? This two-hour workshop is the perfect way to start your weekend! Local photographer James Sims will lead the workshop (using any camera or phone!) Cost is $20 for Kudzu members, $40 for non-members. Register here.


2/20: Acrimony between UGA, GSU
2/17: Two school proposals
2/13: GSU once university stepchild
2/10: Deal's bus drivers' attacks
2/6: Great series: Foyle's War
2/3: Innovative thinking on boxes

1/30: Remembering George Black
1/27: Crummy radio content
1/23: Funerals are changing
1/20: Think on Simpsonwood
1/16: Buford schools top list
1/13: Ga. needs real leaders
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


2/20: Bohannan: Barbara Awards
2/17: Brown: Against domestic violence
2/13: Jones: GGC's 10th birthday
2/10: Durant: Jamaican restaurant
2/6: Norton: Excerpts from report
2/3: Myers: "Standardized patient"

1/30: Solomon: Black History Month
1/27: Myers: PCOM bans tobacco
1/23: Rawlins: Publishing a book
1/20: Arrington: Snellville marketplace
1/16: Wascher: Gwinnett CID
1/13: Bohannon: Les Mis is back
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
  • More diverse candidates for political offices and appointment to local boards
  • 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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