News for Thursday, December 15, 2005

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Jessie Mcarthur

Jessie Ilene McArthur, age 110 of Lawrenceville, died December 14, 2005. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 770-277-4550.

Nellie Berry

Nellie Irene Berry, age 83 of Dacula, GA passed away on Thursday, December 15, 2005. She was preceded in death by her husband, William V. Berry, Jr. and her son ...

Clifton Berrong

Clifton A. Berrong of Lawrenceville died Wednesday December 14, 2005. The funeral will be at 11 A.M. Friday December 16, 2005 at Bill Head Funeral Home, Duluth Chapel, with Dr ...

Beverly Long

Beverly Long was an exceptionally talented and compassionate woman who loved and lived life to the fullest. She loved to help others and always had a soft spot for children ...

Betty Johnson

Betty Joe Johnson, age 67 of Snellville died Wednesday, December 14, 2005. Arrangements by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045, 770-962-3100.

John Puckett

Mr. John Anderson Puckett, age 43, of Athens, passed away Wednesday, December 14, 2005. Arrangements by Evans Funeral Home, Jefferson, 706-367-5467.

Fired up about safety

Parental intervention only way to keep teens from having sex

More than the weather gets hot in Tampa, Fla. A survey of the Hillsborough County school district has revealed nearly half of high school students and one in five middle school students claim to have had sexual intercourse.

Buford putting old City Hall up for sale

LAWRENCEVILLE - Buford is putting its old City Hall up for sale.

Holiday design on a dime

Legislator to push overcrowding law in 2006

It comes up every election year, but next year school overcrowding could even become a hot topic under the Gold Dome.

Utilities deal made in time for DOT construction to start

LAWRENCEVILLE - Just in time for construction to begin, county officials have finished their last piece of work on the rebuilding of the Pleasant Hill Road/Buford Highway intersection.

Legislator: General Assembly will be friendly to business

NORCROSS - In 2006, legislators will continue their push to create a friendly business environment, House Majority Leader Jerry Keen told corporate and civic leaders Wednesday.

Bill aims to stop state from hiring illegal immigrants

ATLANTA - The head of the General Assembly's immigration caucus vowed Wednesday to aggressively push legislation that would prohibit the state from hiring contractors that employ illegal immigrants.

The bill is part of a package introduced this year by Sen. Chip Rogers that also would deny taxpayer-funded services to illegals and prohibit illegal immigrants from enrolling in Georgia's university system.

During a news conference last September, Senate Republican leaders said they would make the bill stopping illegals from receiving taxpayer-funded services their top priority and put the others aside for now.

Since then, however, both civil rights groups and opponents of illegal immigration have taken lawmakers to task for failing to go after employers who hire illegal workers.

"I think it would be unfortunate to have a policy discussion about illegal immigrants apply only to benefits,'' said Rogers, R-Woodstock, chairman of the Joint House and Senate Immigration Caucus. "We need to look at everything.''

But Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, said the only portion of Rogers' package of bills on which Republicans have reached consensus is the measure denying taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants.

He said the bill aimed at state contractors raises issues that must be worked out before it's likely to garner enough support to pass, including whether the state should make business owners responsible for screening the people they hire.

"How does an employer know if the documentation they're looking at is valid?'' Johnson asked. "I have no problem with tightening down on businesses as long as we're not trying to make businesses a branch of the INS (federal Immigration and Naturalization Service).''

"How much can we micromanage a subcontractor?'' added Rep. Judy Manning, R-Marietta, a member of the immigration caucus.

Rogers acknowledged that it wouldn't be fair for the state to ask contractors to make sure every subcontractor involved in a project they're overseeing isn't hiring illegal immigrants. But he said the state should set an example with its hiring policies.

"If we're going to do something on the employment side, I suggest the state take the lead ... so we can claim we're not part of the problem,'' he said.

Rogers said he also will introduce a resolution during the upcoming legislative session authorizing state or local law enforcement agencies to apply for federal funds to train their officers in enforcing federal immigration laws.

Current law requires those agencies to pay for the training.

Cheap, easy ways to decorate for the holidays

Time is ticking, but if you haven't decorated the house for the holidays - or if your month's budget is earmarked for presents - there's still hope.

Regional transit explored

LAWRENCEVILLE - County leaders from across metro Atlanta will decide today if they want to create a board that would help organize the region's various transit systems.

High-stakes girls matchup coming on Friday

During his highly successful run as Dade County's girls basketball coach, Gene Durden faced fellow state power Greater Atlanta Christian just once.

President Bush could learn from his baby brother

I'm an only child. My parents apparently felt one - or perhaps this particular one - was enough. I've never known what it's like to have a more successful, lucky or popular brother or sister.

Gwinnett Gab

The River Club gets recognition from Audubon

SUWANEE - The River Club's Greg Norman-designed golf course in Suwanee not only accentuates the natural beauty of the landscape - it also provides a habitat for native wildlife. Audubon International has certified The River Club's course as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary golf course. The recognition is bestowed on golf courses that take extra steps to enhance wildlife habitat.

To accommodate wildlife, The River Club's golf crew built bluebird houses and wood duck boxes and planted special flowerbeds for butterflies and aquatic plants to nourish wetland areas.

Letters to the Editor

Let Christians have our holiday, please

Right of religion should not affect Christmas. In response to Sarah Nagy's recent letter ("Right to freedom of religion applies to Muslims, too," To the Editor, Nov. 18), the Bible claims Jesus to be God, so all religions are not the same and they all do not promote love and good wishes.

Three arrested in Statham convenience store robbery

STATHAM - Three men were charged in connection with a Statham robbery.

GCC Drum to shut down

LAWRENCEVILLE - GCC Drum is shutting down, eliminating 95 jobs, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Escaped inmate captured in Tennessee

LAWRENCEVILLE - A county inmate who allegedly escaped from work detail and reportedly stole a car was recaptured Tuesday in Tennessee.

Fringetree a favorite among gardeners

A group of master gardeners gathered last week at Fort Yargo State Park to plot out a planned installation around a new flagpole in one of the areas.

The trouble with master gardeners is that everyone's favorite plant is anything that has green leaves, and all this enthusiasm makes consensus difficult.

Review finds former DOT staffers paid more for consultations

ATLANTA - The state Department of Transportation is paying far more to consulting companies with former senior-level DOT employees on their payrolls than to competing firms, according to an independent report requested by the agency's board.

The review, which examined DOT payments during the past six years, found that consulting firms with such ties to the agency were paid an average of four to six times more than consultants who lacked former DOT managers.

"Just from appearance, that raises a little bit of a red flag,'' Marty Berry of North Highland Co., the firm that conducted the review, told members of the State Transportation Board Wednesday. "From a perception standpoint, there could have been bias in the selection.''

However, Berry said the review concluded that the disparity was the result of inconsistent application of the criteria evaluators within the DOT use in selecting consultants rather than actual bias.

He said that inconsistency may have led evaluators to lean toward consulting companies with employees who understood the agency's selection process because they had worked for DOT.

"It could be that the knowledge that person has makes them more qualified to do the work than someone else,'' he said.

The board asked for the review last spring following complaints from consultants who felt they were being shortchanged in the selection process.

Rather than awarding consultant contracts to the lowest bidder, the DOT uses what is known as "quality-based'' selection.

But board Chairman David Doss said such a system only works if the selection criteria are being enforced fairly.

"If we're operating on quality-based selection but are applying the criteria inconsistently, we might as well say we're not using it,'' said Doss, of Rome.

Berry said North Highland interviewed consultants that have done business with the DOT as part of the review. They rated the Georgia DOT's selection process as less subjective than those of transportation agencies in other Southeastern states, he said.

But they also expressed concern that the DOT evaluators were rotating contracts among favorites and not awarding work based on a company's past performance, the report said.

Board member Sam Wellborn of Columbus suggested that the board consider banning employees who leave the DOT from going to work for a consulting company that does business with the agency for a limited period of time.

Congress has a "revolving-door'' provision against former members becoming lobbyists immediately upon leaving office, and the General Assembly passed a bill this year with a temporary ban on lawmakers turning lobbyist.

At the DOT, former Commissioner Tom Moreland of Gwinnett County is among the senior-level employees who have gone on to become consultants who do business with the state.

"We tend to lose lots of good people early,'' Wellborn said. "It might help retain some good people longer.''

But Berry said developing consistent, objective selection criteria based on past performance should be enough.

Indeed, that's the review's chief recommendation, along with a suggestion that the agency improve communications with consulting companies so they have a better understanding of the process.

Buddy Gratton, the DOT's director of preconstruction, said the agency has created a position of "competition advocate'' to serve as a point person for consultants who believe they are being treated unfairly and to act on his or her own if a contract is being awarded improperly.

Board member Bill Kuhlke, of Augusta, chairman of the board's Consultant Services Committee, said his panel also will be keeping an eye on the agency's progress in putting in place the recommended changes.

"This is part of our agenda as we move forward,'' he said.

OBITUARIES

ATHENS

PUCKETT, JOHNNY

Evans Funeral Home of Jefferson announces the death of Mr. Johnny Puckett, age 43 of Athens, Georgia who died Wednesday, December 14, 2005. Funeral services will be announced by Evans Funeral Home of Jefferson, GA, 706-367-5467.

GAINESVILLE

POWELL, ELOISE

Eloise Allison Powell, age 81, of Gainesville, died Tuesday, December 13, 2005. Funeral services will be held Friday, December 16 at 2 P.M. at the Mason-Ward-Rogers Funeral Home, 1190 McEver Road, Gainesville. The Reverends Gerry Davis and Carrie Austin will officiate. Burial will follow at Hillside Memorial Gardens, Gainesville. Mrs. Powell was predeceased by her husband, O.L. Powell. She was a long-standing member of Chicopee United Methodist Church. She is survived by her brother, V.C. Allison of Gainesville, sister and brother-in-law, Gene and Sam Coker of Atlanta, and was predeceased by a sister, Myrtle Allison Day. Also surviving are nieces, Cathy Coker Brewer and husband, Oby, of Atlanta, Carol Coker Bennett of Valdosta, and Doris Day Kretzing, and husband, Paul of Waldorf, Maryland, also nephew, Bobby Day, and wife, Nancy of Colorado Springs. Step-sons and wives surviving are, Richard D. and Marie Ann Powell, Michael D. and Dianne Powell, Anthony O.L. and Emily Powell, all of Lawrenceville, and Philip W. and Elizabeth Powell of Richmond, VA. Also many grandchildren, great grandchildren, great nieces and nephew and one great-great niece, Anna. Her quiet nature belied her rich experiences. During World War II, Mrs. Powell served in the Pentagon on the staff of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, also working with Amelia Earhart's husband at the Department of Defense. From 1947 until 1954, Mrs. Powell was the personal secretary to Dr. Charles Allen of Grace United Methodist Church, Atlanta, typing and editing many of his well-known Christian books. Following the death of her father, the Rev. R.W. Allison, Mrs. Powell returned to Gainesville to work in the private sector as an executive secretary to the CEOs of Chicopee Manufacturing Company and Owen of Georgia, Inc. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Chicopee United Methodist Church, 5 First Street, Gainesville, Georgia 30504. The family will receive friends from 12 noon until 2 P.M. on Friday, December 16, at the funeral home. Mason-Ward-Rogers Funeral Home, Gainesville, GA, 770-287-0220.

LILBURN

GREENE, PHRISTAL

Mr. Phristal "Pete" Ronelk Greene, Sr., 79, of Lilburn, Georgia passed away Tuesday, December 13, 2005 at Wesley Woods Budd Terrace in Atlanta. Jones-Wynn Funeral Home, Douglas Chapel in charge of arrangements, 770-942-2311.

SNELLVILLE

JOHNSON, BETTY

Betty Joe Johnson, age 67 of Snellville died Wednesday, December 14, 2005. Graveside Services will be held 1:00 PM, Saturday, December 17, 2005 at Eternal Hills Memory Gardens, Snellville. Rev. Carl Fowler will officiate. Mrs. Johnson is survived by: Husband: Herschel "Bill" Johnson, Snellville; Nephew: Ray Starnes, Forest Park; Niece: Rhonda VanWinkle, Florida; Other Nieces & Nephews also survive. Family will receive friends from 2-4 PM and 6-9 PM, Friday, December 16, 2005 at the Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045, 770-962-3100.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL

PETERSON, LYNNE

Lynne Lumpkins Peterson, 52, St. Augustine, FL, passed away December 12, 2005. She was born August 1, 1953 in Cookeville, Tennessee, daughter of Jim and Norma Lumpkins. She was preceded in death by her husband of 13 years, Pete Peterson. She is survived by her children, Lindsay Huband of Palm Coast, Caroline Huband of Orlando; Stepchildren, Andy/Tina Petersen and Kristie/Tom Renaud and grandchildren Courtney, Emily, Katie Petersen and Nathan and Matthew Renaud. She grew up in Jacksonville, Florida with her parents and one brother, Chip Lumpkins. She graduated from the prestigious girls' school Bartram in 1971. She was presented as a debutante to Jacksonville society the summer of that year. She received a B.S. of Education from Peabody University, Nashville, TN, in 1975. After college, she worked for the Jacksonville Time Union in advertising sales. She later relocated to Peachtree City, GA and worked for the Gwinnett Daily News. Besides raising her children, she was an active member of Christ Our Shepard Lutheran Church in Peachtree City. A supporter of the American Cancer Society, she and her husband, Pete, hosted an annual horse show to raise funds. Later, after they moved to Palm Coast, FL she and Pete used their love of golf to continue their charitable works by hosting tournaments for local charities. Her life legacy is her loyalty to family and friends and her faith in God. All it ever took were the words, "Lynne I need you..." and she was there for us. Rest in peace. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to a charity for battered women, P.O. Box 3319, St. Augustine, FL 32085, Attn: Mary Johnstone. Visitation will be held Thursday (today) from 5-7 p.m. at Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home, 4115 Hendricks Ave. Services will be held from the Graveside in Oaklawn Cemetery, Friday, December 16, 2005 at 1:00 P.M. with The Rev. Betsy P. Skinner officiating. Arrangements by Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home of Jacksonville, 904-346-3808.

SUGAR HILL

MERCIER, BENNY

Mr. Benny Mercier, age 56, of Sugar Hill, GA, passed away December 14, 2005. Service and Arrangements will be announced later by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.

SUWANEE

JENKINS, FRANCES

Mrs. Frances T. Jenkins, age 90, of Suwanee, GA passed away on December 14, 2005. She was preceded in death by her husband, Carl J. Jenkins. Surviving are: Sons and Daughters-in-Law: Larry Jenkins, Suwanee, GA, Bob and Sunny Jenkins, Bowling Green, KY, Bucky and Pat Jenkins, St. Simons Island, GA; Grandchildren: Robin Church, Bowling Green, KY, Cathy Gallup, Marietta, GA, Julianne Miles, Charleston, SC, Lori Oldknow, Snellville, GA, Shannon Jenkins, St. Simons Island, GA; Great Grandchildren: Christy Gallup, Christopher Church, Hannah Miles, Jacob Oldknow, Justin Oldknow, Jonathan Oldknow; Several nieces, nephews and cousins. Mrs. Jenkins was a native of Bibb County, GA, born on December 10, 1915. She was a homemaker, a Southern Lady, a great cook and hostess. She was a 1933 graduate of Miller High School. She attended Shadowbrook Baptist Church, Suwanee, GA. Funeral service will be held on Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. at the Chapel of Flanigan Funeral Home with Rev. Bobby Linkous officiating. Interment in White Chapel Memorial Gardens, Duluth, GA. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Friday from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Arrangements by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home & Crematory, Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.

WINDER

MASTERS, MICHAEL

Michael Horace Masters, age 46, of Winder died Tuesday, December 13, 2005. Funeral Services will be held 2:00 PM, Saturday, December 17, 2005 in the Lawrenceville Chapel of Tim Stewart Funeral Home. Rev. Tim Bradley will officiate. Burial New Rock Springs Baptist Church Cemetery, Dacula. A Taxidermist and member of New Rock Spring Baptist Church, Dacula, Mr. Masters is survived by: Son: Matt Turner, Winder; Parents: Horace & Dorothy Masters, Dacula; Brother: Dennis Masters, Doraville; Sisters: Robin Jarrard, Dacula, Kelley Hubbard, Lawrenceville; Nieces, Jessica Carter, Amanda Jarrard, Brittany Jarrard, Taylor Hubbard; Nephew: Zachary Hubbard; Great Niece, Gabrielle Carter; Several Cousins, Aunts and Uncles. Family will receive friends from 10AM - 9PM, Friday, December 16, 2005 at the Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045, 770-962-3100.

Sports calendar

Baseball

Dec. 18: A 12-and-under Lanier Baseball League travel team will have tryouts at Alberta Banks Park in Flowery Branch from 1 to 3 p.m. Call Jim Harter at 770-271-2344.

Good fences and screening plants make good neighbors

Homes in suburbia are getting closer together. Lot sizes are shrinking, and houses

are getting bigger. Space is limited, and privacy is at a premium.

Humphrey a find for UGA, Felton

A friend of mine who happens to be a big Georgia fan posed the question to me a week or so ago, but I'm sure his thoughts were shared by many in Bulldog nation.

Gwinnett falls to Ice Pilots in a shootout, 2-1

PENSACOLA - The Gwinnett Gladiators remained unbeaten in regulation in their last six games (4-0-2) with a 2-1 shootout loss on Wednesday night against the Pensacola Ice Pilots at the Pensacola Civic Cener.

Police Reports

Two men arrested in child sex sting

•LAWRENCEVILLE - Two people have been arrested in Gwinnett County in connection with an FBI-led investigation of child sex predators.