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UPGRADE: Norcross will give its community garden a facelift on Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. until noon with its spring work day. It'll be time to bring your gloves to help prepare the garden for the coming season, and get seeds in the ground. Local residents are invited to come and dig. The garden is at 10 College Street, behind the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center. For more information, contact That same day there will be a Rain Barrel Workshop from 1-2 p.m. at the Cultural Arts and Community Center. You can sign up at the above link. Cost for materials to make a 60 gallon plastic rain barrel to take home is $60.

Issue 14.06 | April 18, 2014

:: Author finds new Internet radio outlet

:: New for Norcross, Berkeley Lake

On vets' service, billboards

Volunteers, nutrition grant, sidewalks

:: College agreement, CID member, more

:: Brand Banking Company

:: Don't worry -- can't be done

:: Concerns before secession vote

:: Several spotted Crystal Bridges


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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Decatur author finds new outlet through working the computer
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(Editor's Note: Decatur Author Doug Dahlgren has found a new outlet, which give him more exposure, and even helps market his books. It's something that did not exist just a few years back, and opens the door a little wider for him. We thought you would enjoy this new way to communicate. -eeb)

DECATUR, Ga., April 18, 2014 -- When my oldest started his education at Georgia Tech, back in the late 80s, I was considered the technical go-to-guy in our family. My home had the latest in stereo and video equipment, both BETA and VHS, movie cameras and the newest toy available, the home computer.


My son had convinced me that he needed one for his studies, so I invested what was at that time, a small fortune, in an IBM clone, 8088 system. This thing had a 40mb hard drive and 640k of RAM. It could "boot-up" in under six minutes. Our neighbor watched in awe, calling it "wickedly fast."

Since my money was supporting this monster machine, I took it upon myself to learn what I could to operate it. I became a dot prompt professional, in my own mind anyway, proudly showing my son and a brother how to handle this amazing device.

Within a year, maybe two, my mastery and dominance of this technology was left in the dust with my ego. Processors went from 286 to 486 and then Pentium and beyond. The tasks and abilities of those who stayed up with the advancements, multiplied with it, leaving me behind.

Through time, this still advancing electronic beast and I settled on a truce of sorts. I retired, took up writing novels, and have again found my machine very useful. Yet I still call on my son, now a chemical engineer with a Master's degree from Georgia Tech, when the computer does something "stupid."

The writing is coming along, I'm gaining acceptance and readers seem to like what I do. I am also meeting wonderful new people through this new vocation and the computer has been a large part of that. Not long ago, one of my new friends suggested I contact an internet radio station to see if they would interview me for one of their shows.

The interview went fairly well. It also led to an offer for me to host my own internet radio show, interviewing writers and artists from my home, all done through the computer. I am off and running, four shows under my belt and bookings into June. The neat thing is, the shows run "live," yet the technology allows for later podcasts, which can be played by anyone with a computer at any time they like.

The internet radio station is and they specialize in new artists, musicians, and writers. I like what they do. As an independent writer myself, I know how difficult it is to get attention today. There's so much out there, readers tend to shy away from what they don't know. ArtistFirst helps introduce new books and music so people can make a better decision.

I enjoy being a part of this and invite you to my Gwinnett connection, the podcast of my interview with Duluth's own JL Robb, author of THE END The Book series. Just go to then click on my show and scroll to the bottom. Click on the date of Jerry's show, sit back, and enjoy.

Computers, huh? We've come a long way with each other.

Two new restaurants plan to be open this coming Monday

Editor and publisher |

APRIL 18, 2014 -- Two new restaurants are expected to open next Monday, April 21, one in Norcross, the other in Berkeley Lake ... that have a connection to one another.


Luis Hernandez will open "The Crossing" in the former railroad train station and depot in downtown Norcross. That same day, Ken Weatherford, who previously operated Norcross Station Cafe in that former Norcross depot, will open his new eatery, MacKenzie's Restaurant and Tap Room, at 4790 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, which is within the city limits of Berkeley Lake.

Weatherford says that his new restaurant reflects the name of his daughter, MacKenzie. It will have a dinner orientation, with a strong luncheon offering. His new menu has 35 of the most popular items at his Station Café, plus about 30 new eating choices. The most popular items of his previous cafe were Low Country Fried Shrimp, Chicken Fingers and Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla. New additions to the menu will find more seafood items, a new Creole gumbo each day and several new sandwiches, including a roast beef brisket and pimiento cheese sandwich.

The new Berkeley Lake restaurant will seat 120 people, while another 40 can sit on its patio. (His former restaurant had a seating capacity of 130.) The staff is "mostly the same, changed only slightly. We will start with 18, though we soon will need about 25." Hours will be from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. He eventually plans to be open on Sunday, and will offer a special Mother's Day Brunch Buffet this June.

While MacKenzie's already has an alcoholic beverage license from the City of Berkeley Lake, as of Thursday the state Revenue Department had not approved his license. A feature of this restaurant is the tap room, with 28 taps for draft, with 70 craft and domestic beers on hand.

"We want to go ahead and open on Monday anyway, and anticipate that the state license will come soon," Weatherford says. "It always takes longer than you think it will to open a new restaurant, and it always cost more than you thought it would."

Meanwhile, Weatherford, who has previously operated the Hounds Tooth Grill in Braselton, says that he had just this week sold that restaurant, and will devote full time to his new venture.

* * * * *

Hernandez, whose family has operated Mojito restaurant across from the Depot for seven years, plans a trial run for friends this weekend, then will open on Monday for full service. The renovated dining room has white walls, though it remains much as it was before, in keeping with the Depot theme of the early 1900s. It will open with a staff of 20.

"The Crossings" will be operated as a steakhouse, but will also have a full American fare. Lunches will have reduced steak prices and portions, averaging $10-14, while dinner choices will be in the low $20s.

In Hernandez' newly-decorated restaurant, there is a seating capacity of about 200. The restaurant will operate from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with live music. Hernandez wife, Yani, a recording artist with EMI and Sony Records, will be the featured singer. A Sunday buffet will be from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Besides steak, the featured items will include seafood (scallops and crab cakes), macaroni and cheese as the significant side item, and a flaming crème brulee for dessert. For lunches, hamburgers with Certified Angus beef will be the house specialty.

Many from Gwinnett will be eager to try out these two new eating establishments.

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 $1,780,000,000. 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.

IMPACT! Group seeking help in assisting local veterans

Editor, the Forum:

Recently a national survey conducted by the Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, released the following data:

  • 53 million adults (22 percent) only have enough savings to tide them over for a month.
  • Nearly a third (29 percent, or 70 million) don't have any savings that would allow them to respond to an unanticipated crisis.
  • Only 5percent of consumers say they are currently saving to create a buffer in case of a financial emergency.

We saw similar numbers just before the collapse of the housing market and our plunge into the major recession. Now add to those number the latest information compiled by HUD and the VA regarding our Veterans and their families.

  • Homelessness among veterans is at an all-time high.
  • The overall unemployment rate in Metro Atlanta is currently approximately seven percent, but for all veterans it's 14 percent and for those coming back from Afghanistan/Iraq it is over 35 percent.
  • According to the Atlanta Regional Commission on Homelessness, veterans account for 21 percent of the homeless population in metro Atlanta compared to 11 percent nationally.
  • The homeless rate for Afghanistan/Iraq returning veterans is over 33 percent, which almost mirrors their unemployment rate of 35 percent.

The IMPACT! Group this year introduced a comprehensive program which provides emergency shelters, rapid re-housing, transitional housing and permanent housing for veterans and their families. Led by organizations such as The IMPACT! Group and the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, Gwinnett County is the leader in the region for volunteerism and helping those in our community who are in need. We can't do this alone. We need your help. I encourage you to be a partner in ensuring that all Gwinnettians - especially our veterans - receive a high quality of life. Contact me today at to see how you can help.

-- Tom Merkel, president, The IMPACT! Group

Let's put a toll on billboard companies for creating such a blight

Editor, the Forum:

In 1965, the U.S. Congress enacted the Highway Beautification Act with the intent of restricting the growth of billboards and junkyards along our nation's public highways. The act restricts billboards to areas where they were allowed by local or state zoning laws.

States are required to demonstrate that they are effectively controlled billboards under the act or risk losing 10 percent of their federal highway appropriations.

As our roads become more congested, one user group profits more without paying more and that is the billboard companies. We should look to this industry for additional revenues to help offset the cost of maintaining roads that they benefit from, while the public suffers from this ugly blight. We should be tolling the billboard companies for every person that passes by and sees the signs.

We should look to states such as Vermont, Hawaii and Maine that have more effective billboard laws that help maintain the scenic beauty of both states. Indeed, Vermont was the first state to ban billboards. The process began in the 1930s as local citizens, committees and garden groups concerned with preserving the natural beauty and character of the landscape started to confront the increasingly influential national billboard lobby.

But until this is accomplished the industry needs to be paying for the privilege of using Georgia's roads. Maybe than we could get rid of some of these potholes that seems to become more prevalent every day.

-- George C. Wilson, Stone Mountain

Rant, rave and send us your opinion

Our policy: 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.

Metro water district seeks members in Gwinnett for Oconee Basin

The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (Metro Water District) is seeking interested residents from Gwinnett County to serve on the Oconee Basin Advisory Council, one of six councils in the 15-county region that help develop and implement water resources plans for the region.

The councils provide valuable input to the Metro Water District's planning process and related implementation activities by representing the wide variety of stakeholders that rely on the region's water resources.

The Metro Water District encourages interested citizens to apply as well as persons who represent recreation, civic, development, urban agriculture, media, academic, power and natural gas and other interests. Individuals must reside within the river basin of the council for which they apply. Members serve two-year terms and may be reappointed for additional terms. Councils hold regular quarterly meetings but may also hold special meetings as needed to provide input on Metro Water District activities and actions.

The application for Basin Advisory Council membership is available on the Metro Water District's Web site, The deadline to apply is April 30, 2014. For more information, contact the Metro Water District by telephone at 404.463.3344 or by e-mail.

Gwinnett is only county in state to get nutrition grant

Gwinnett Commissioners have accepted a grant from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) for $26,200 and in-kind training materials valued at $10,000 for Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation to use in its nutrition education and out-of-school time programming. The funding comes from a partnership between NRPA and the Walmart Foundation and supports NRPA's new Commit to Health campaign. Gwinnett was the only Georgia recipient this year of the grant.

One of the grant program's three goals is to increase the number of healthy meals children in low-income communities receive during summer and after-school programs. Gwinnett's Parks and Recreation Operations Director Tina Fleming says that these children may not have access to quality food when school is not in session, "making Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation's work even more critical."

The grant also seeks to change kids' eating habits by teaching them the importance of healthy eating using evidence-based, age-appropriate nutrition literacy education materials and to increase access to healthier foods and opportunities for physical activity through the implementation of nutrition and physical activity standards.

More sidewalks coming along Crooked Creek Road near school

Gwinnett County Commissioners have awarded a construction contract for two school safety projects along Crooked Creek Road near Peachtree Elementary School in Peachtree Corners. Gregory Bridge Company was the lowest of four qualified bidders at $260,028.

The first project will install sidewalk, curb and gutter on the northwest side of Crooked Creek Road from Woodmont Boulevard to Peachtree Elementary School and from the school to Creekstone Place. The second project will add a right turn lane for better access to the school. Funding comes from the 2009 SPLOST program, and the expected completion date for both projects is the end of July.

Gwinnett Tech, Valdosta State sign Pathway Program agreement

Gwinnett Technical College (GTC) and Valdosta State University (VSU) have signed a Pathway Program agreements. Through the agreements, GTC students who successfully earn an Associate in Applied Science degree are eligible to work on a Bachelor of Applied Science in human capital performance or Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership at VSU.

In addition, GTC students graduating with an Associate of Science in biology from GTC can begin working on a Bachelor of Science in biology at VSU, once it has received approval from appropriate state governing boards and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The Pathways Program centers on the priorities of Complete College Georgia, an initiative developed to increase the number of Georgians earning a college degree. In 2012, institutions in both the Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia submitted plans to achieve the ambitious goal of adding more than 250,000 postsecondary graduates to Georgia's workforce by 2020.

Hoyt of Prologis elected to Gwinnett Village CID board

A new member has been elected to the board of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District (CID). He is Ryan Hoyt, leasing manager for Prologis, elected by his fellow property owners to fill Post 4 on the CID board.


Prologis is an owner, operator and developer of industrial logistics real estate across the Americas, Europe and Asia. Hoyt works in the leasing and marketing of Prologis' Atlanta portfolio.

Hoyt is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor in Business Administration, majoring in Real Estate. He is a member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors, National Association of Office and Industrial Properties and Shepherd Center Advisory Board. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, golfing, fishing, tennis and volunteering at the Shepherd Center.

Lisa Reeves, operations officer for NDI Development, and Erika Heller, senior vice president and principal for Colliers International Management, retained their seats on the board and will fulfill another term in posts two and five respectively.

Mountain View's Jenkins wins EMC's Harrison Scholarship


Jackson EMC recently awarded graduating Mountain View High School senior Stephen Jenkins a 2014 Walter Harrison Scholarship. The son of Brent and Carol Jenkins of Lawrenceville, Jenkins will attend the Georgia Institute of Technology this fall and pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

He is a member of the Boy Scouts of America, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society and the Academic Team, among others. He is the Salutatorian of the Class of 2014, Star Student, UGA Certificate of Merit, Eagle Scout and AP Scholar with Honor. The Walter Harrison Scholarship, named in honor of a rural electrification pioneer, is awarded annually to deserving high school students and college undergraduates who serve their community, possess exceptional academic ability and demonstrate financial need.

Nobody's Fool

Use your streaming movie service and see this delightful 1994 light-hearted movie of life in a small New York town in winter. Paul Newman stars as the down-but-not-out town character, on a streak of bad luck with his odd jobs, his family, his truck and even his daily lottery play. It's a place where the police chief sits in on the town poker game, and when losing, says 'I ought to raid this place.' It's also where the chief lets a person out of jail temporarily to be a pall bearer. Several twists in the movie keep this story moving smartly. And, at the end, you know life will continue similarly for the people who find life in their town always interesting, and sometimes, fun." -- eeb

  • An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus what book you plan to read next. --eeb

What legislative concerns were before sessionist vote

(Continued from previous edition)

Cooperationists, a varied collection of former Whigs and conservative Democrats, were led by Alexander Stephens, Herschel Johnson, and Benjamin Hill. Cooperationists agreed that the South faced great dangers and that Republicans would have to be forced to provide strong guarantees that would protect slavery and southern rights if Georgia was to remain in the Union. In other words, cooperationists differed from immediate secessionists more in tactics than in underlying principles.

Cooperationist plans for delay and deliberation typically involved the holding of a convention of the southern states as a vehicle for framing ultimatums to extract concessions from the Republican Party. The secession of nearby states, however, made the logic of cooperationist proposals suspect and weakened their resolve; they were far less active during the campaign than their immediate secessionist counterparts.

White Georgians spoke very clearly on the issues at stake in 1860-61. A series of debates was held in the state capital of Milledgeville, and county conventions denounced northern aggression; reiterated familiar claims regarding southern rights to expand slavery into the territories; vigorously defended southern honor; conjured up the horrors of abolitionism, race war, and racial amalgamation; and insisted upon security for the South's peculiar institution.

Liberty and freedom, for the white male voters of Georgia, meant preserving their right to hold slaves and to rule their family households without interference from outside forces, most especially from the federal government, which in their view had fallen into the hands of abolitionist fanatics. Republican and northern hostility to slavery was cited as the sole compelling reason for contemplating secession, and white Georgians agreed that what they interpreted as repeated and unprovoked assaults upon slavery must cease or the Union must be dissolved.

(To be continued)


CLUE: There are not many places you can read newspaper front pages from the sidewalks. How many of you can tell us where this photograph was taken? If you can, send your name and hometown to

The last mystery photo was an architectural model of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, at Bentonville, Arkansas, the largest private art museum in the United States, funded by Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart Founder Sam Walton. Bob Foreman of Grayson was the first to tell us about it.

Then came Ruthy Paul of Norcross, who added that the "six buildings were designed by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie . Two buildings are designed in the form of a bridge over natural lakes. Crystal Bridges is both a museum and a cultural center. The project is located in a ravine with a creek fed by Crystal Springs. Two suspended-cable-and-wood buildings span the ravine, creating two ponds. These structures serve as dams as well as bridges. The design aims to protect the natural beauty of the site while emphasizing a strong sense of place, and certain materials - wood, field stone and limestone aggregate - are drawn from the region."

Others identifying this photo were Scott Mullennix of Peachtree Corners; and Billy Chism, Cleveland.


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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.


Have No Worry; You See, It Can't Be Done

"If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can't be done."

-- British Actor, Playwright, Director Peter Ustinov (1921 - 2004)




Crime Prevention Seminar focusing on commercial crime, Thursday and Friday, April 17-18, hosted by the Evermore Community Improvement District office at 5525 Bermuda Road, Stone Mountain. Two sessions are planned, on April 17 at 6 p.m. and April 18 at ll:30 a.m. Each is expected to last an hour. RSVP at

Easter Bunny Lunch, including egg hunt, Saturday, April 19 at The Cottage at the Payne-Corley House in Duluth. There will be two sittings, at 11 and noon. The $10 children's menu includes finger sandwiches, fruit and carrots, while a $15 adult menu is also offered. For details, call 770-476-5366 or send email.

Clean-up Day at the Wynne-Russell House in Lilburn, Saturday, April 19 from 9 a.m. until noon. Volunteers are sought by the Lilburn Community Partnership to donate three hours. The first monthly yard and craft sale is planned for May 3. For more information,

Lifestyle Showcase at Bethesda Senior Center, Saturday April 19 at 10 a.m. Presented by the Gwinnett Council of Seniors, this will feature speakers and 40 vendors with topics ranging from Living Options, to Scam Targeting Seniors, and Downsizing Your Living. Details: call 678-277-0179.

AGCO Corporation Annual Meeting, Thursday, April 24, at 9 a.m. at the company's headquarters, 4205 River Green Parkway, Duluth. The firm is an international producer of agricultural equipment, and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

(NEW) Annual Gala of Norcross High School Foundation, Friday, April 25 at 7 p.m. at The Fields Club in Peachtree Corners. This ninth annual Gala celebrates the success of the school and honors new member of the Hall of Fame.

(NEW) Spring Fundraiser and Winetasting at Niko's Wine Corner, Friday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. benefiting the Snellville Arts Commission. Tickets are $15 for a couple, or $10 for singles. The commission fosters the development of and participation in the arts of the community.

(NEW) Recycling in Lilburn, in the overflow parking lot (76 Main Street), Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Items accepted include electronics recycling, bulk trash (no construction materials), cell phones, clean towels, washcloths, socks and t-shirts for animal shelter, tires, and scrap metal, plus there will be secured paper shredding. All is free of charge, with exception of paint recycling.

(NEW) Student Pottery Creations on sale at Pickneyville Park Recreation Center, 4650 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Norcross, Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. See handmade gifts by local artists. For more information, call 678 277 0920.

(NEW) Stone Mountain Barbership Chorus in concert, Saturday, April 26 at 3 p.m. at Mountain Park United Methodist Church, 1405 Rockbridge Road. Featured will be A Mighty Wind, the 2013 International Bronze Medalist Quartet. Tickets are $15 at the door, or $12 in advanced sale. Details: Visit online or call 770-978-8053.


4/18: Two new restaurants
4/15: Two missionaries
4/11: Five great local schools
4/8: Endorsements coming soon
4/4: A look at state politics
4/1: Forum's 14th year starts

3/28: Better recruiting needed
3/25: Why meet so much?
3/21: Be careful of wishes
3/18: GGC's Buildings A - D
3/14: What if legislature met less?
3/11: When Brits fired on French Navy
3/7: Sutts to get Aurora award
3/4: Tests not best predictor


4/18: Dahlgren: Internet radio
4/15: Stilo: Aurora's 19th season
4/11: Jones: Jackson EMC's 75th
4/8: Nichols: Hudgens Prize winner
4/4: Fenton: Kiss-A-Pig coming
4/1: Eberle: The White Castle

3/28: Wilkerson: Valor Awards
3/25: Callina: Scholarship scams
3/21: Mays: Water for Ghana
3/18: Fitch: Linen Closet collaboration
3/14: James: United Way to honor 4
3/11: Erdy: Simpsonwood property
3/7: Wiggins: Cleaning up Gwinnett
3/4: Fenton: Annandale at top


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.


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