Brain Train supporters give legislators a ride

If they don't know about it already, legislators won't be able to avoid learning about the proposed Brain Train, a passenger rail linking Atlanta and Athens.

The decision-makers usually meet at one end of the proposed line - Atlanta - but this weekend they'll be at the other terminus.

They will gather today in Athens for the 25th Biennial Institute, a training clinic before the legislative session begins in January.

There, Georgians for the Brain Train will provide transportation services for the legislators between key venues, including Athens' new Multimodal Transportation Center, which is ready to receive commuter rail traffic.

The recently formed Bulldogs for the Brain Train - an advocacy group made of students at the University of Georgia - will provide tours of the new facility and give presentations on the benefits of commuter rail to students and all Georgians.

Those presentations are scheduled for 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Empire Room of the Georgia Classic Center Foundry Street Facility.

According to proposals, the commuter rail service will make 12 stops in the northeast Atlanta corridor including connections to nine state colleges and universities and the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

"Gwinnett, Athens-Clarke, Oconee and Barrow County residents believe that traffic congestion will continue to worsen over the next 10 years and that the state government is most responsible for addressing traffic problems," said Snellville resident Emory Morsberger, chairman of the Georgia Brain Train Group. "The Athens Multimodal Transportation Center is also ready to accept commuter rail service and is a shining example to the region of the facilities and initiatives we can embrace to reduce traffic congestion, increase economic development opportunities and improve the quality of life for residents in the Atlanta to Athens corridor."

White House Christmas

A couple of local legislators got to kick off the holidays in grand tradition.

Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, and Rep. David Casas, R-Lilburn, were guests of President George W. and Laura Bush at the annual White House Christmas party.

Balfour and his wife Ginny and Casas and his wife Ann represented the Georgia General Assembly at the festivities.

In a press release, Balfour said the president's home was beautifully decorated with hundreds of red flowers and Christmas trees. He added that he was most impressed by the White House Gingerbread House, the Red Hat Box Mascarpone Cake and the Barney and Miss Beazley cookies. Barney and Miss Beazley are the Bush's two Scottish terriers.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@ gwinnettdailypost.com.