News for Tuesday, January 10, 2006


All Stories

Steven Smith

Steven T. Smith, age 56 of Dacula, GA, passed away January 8, 2006. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-277-4550.

Skylor Whisenhunt

Little Skylor Jason Whisenhunt, died January 5, 2006, at the age of 2 months. Funeral Services for Little Skylor will be held at 2:00 PM, Thursday, January 12, 2006, at ...

Honorene Callaway

Honorene N. Callaway, age 85 of Snellville, GA died January 9, 2006. Arrangements by Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc., Snellville Chapel, 770-979-3200.

Jennifer Bostick

Jennifer L. Bostick, age 52 of Snellville, died Saturday, January 7, 2006. Arrangements by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 2246 Wisteria Drive, Snellville, Georgia 30078, 770-979-5010.

Auzie Barrett

Auzie H. (Pat) Barrett, 89, of Lawrenceville, formerly of Norcross, died January 8, 2006. Arrangements by Bill Head Funeral Home and Crematory, Duluth Chapel, 770-476-2535.

Patricia Ann Boyer-Smith

Patricia Ann Boyer-Smith, age 69 of Sparta, GA, formerly of Snellville, GA, passed away on January 9, 2006. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Donald Smith ...

Hiram Payne

Hiram Allen Payne, age 77, of Winder, GA, passed away January 9, 2006. Arrangements by Smith Funeral Home of Winder, GA, 770-867-4553.

David Palli

David Christopher Palli, 22 month old infant son of Peter and Yamuna Palli, of Lawrenceville, passed away January 10, 2006. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway ...

Linda Banks

Linda Harris Banks, age 53 of Duluth, GA, passed away January 9, 2006. Arrangements by Crowell Brothers Peachtree Chapel Funeral Home, Norcross, GA, 770-448-5757.

James Fitzgerale

James J. Fitzgerale, age 49 of Lilburn, GA, passed away January 5, 2006. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-277-4550.

William Hladik

William Hladik, age 95 of Dacula, GA, passed away Monday, January 9, 2006. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-277-4550.

Maude Elinburg

Maude Elinburg, age 86 of Buford, went home to be with her Heavenly Father Monday, January 9, 2006. A Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 P.M. Thursday, January 12 ...

Frank Pruitt

Mr. Frank Pruitt, age 61, of Dawsonville, GA passed away on January 9, 2006. He was preceded in death by his father, Mr. John Wesley Pruitt. Surviving are: Wife: Patsy ...

Parkview's King MVP of All-American combine

After wowing Gwinnett County this past football season, Parkview junior Caleb King took his act to the national level this past weekend.

Gas bill cut expected to sail through

ATLANTA - State legislators will soon consider giving Georgia consumers relief from high winter heating bills.

Police reports

Fire damages home

NORCROSS - A one-story house was extensively damaged by fire Sunday when a resident used gasoline while trying start a fire in the fireplace.




The funeral service of Kyle G. Watson, 74, of 1885 Philema Road, Albany, who died Sunday, January 8, 2006 at his residence, will be conducted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. at East Albany Church of God. Dr. Clifton Elmore, Rev. Bob Prince, Rev. Barney Espinwall and Rev. Tommy Powell will officiate. Interment will follow in Leesburg Cemetery. A native of Laurens County, GA, Mr. Watson had resided in Albany since 1970, moving from West Palm Beach, FL. He retired from Colonial Oil Company in Jacksonville, FL and was the retired owner/operator of Watson's and Sander's Union 76 Service Station. Mr. Watson was a member of East Albany Church of God and was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Cynthia Gay Watson and a son-in-law, Lum Story, Jr. Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Lillie Ivey Watson of Albany; three daughters, Cindy Story of Lee County, Rhonda Kimbrel and husband, Larry of Lee County, Terri Milton and husband, Terry of Snellville, GA; two sons, Michael Wayne Watson and wife, Dee of Lee County and Steven Kyle Watson and wife, Cindy of Tifton; a brother, H.J. Watson of Dublin; two sisters, Wanise Foskey of Warner Robins and Clarine Mullis of Milledgeville; thirteen grandchildren, Shelly (Jeremy) Kilpatrick, April (Nick) Weekley, Amber Vanlith, Chris Vanlith, Nikki Kimbrel, Jason Story, Mallory Watson, Kylie Watson, Michael Watson, Ashley Milton, Chad Milton, Chelsea Watson and Jordon Watson and four great grandchildren, Alayna Smith, Chandler Weekley, Landon Kilpatrick and Kyle Moore. The family will receive friends Monday from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at Mathews Funeral Home. To sign our on-line registry or to send your condolences to the family, you may visit Mathews' website at Mathews Funeral Home, Albany, 229-435-5657.



Mr. James M. Mercer, age 94, of Buford, GA, passed away January 9, 2006. Service and Arrangements will be announced later by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford, GA, 770-932-1133,



William Hladik, age 95, resident of Dacula, Georgia, native of the Czech Republic, passed away on Monday, January 9, 2006. He is survived by his children, Milena Klaus, Helena Horlbeck and William Hladik, Jr; grandchildren, Fred Klaus, Richard Klaus and Astrid Horlbeck; and great-grandchildren, Michelle Klaus, Patrick Klaus, Abigail White and Chloe White. A funeral service will be held at the Dacula First United Methodist Church on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 2:00pm with Rev. Susan Ashe officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to be made to the Dacula First United Methodist Church. Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, 770-277-4550.


Steven T. Smith, age 56, of Dacula, Georgia, passed away on Sunday, January 8, 2006. He is survived by his: Wife: Sue Ann Smith; Sons: Timothy James Smith of Dacula, GA, Barry Alan Smith of Statham, GA; Mother: Evelyn H. Smith; Brothers: Phillip A. Smith, Elwin G. Smith, all of Chamblee, GA, Brian Smith of Atlanta, GA; Grandchildren: Ana Smith and Daniel Smith, both of Statham, GA. Steven was preceded in death by his father, Elwin L. Smith. Steven was a Marine and served in the Vietnam War in 1970 - 1974. He was employed with the Gwinnett County School System as a Grounds Keeper. He attended the North Metro Baptist Church, Lawrenceville. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel. Dr. Frank Cox and Dr. Al Jordan will officiate. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Gwinnett County Special Olympics, for the Floor Hockey Team, c/o Oakland Center, 950 McElvaney Lane, Lawrenceville, GA 30044. The family will receive friends on Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. until the service time at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Hwy., Lawrenceville, 770-277-4550.



Auzie H. (Pat) Barrett, 89, of Lawrenceville, formerly of Norcross, died January 8, 2006. Funeral services will be 2:00 PM Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at Bill Head Funeral Home, Duluth Chapel, with burial in Peachtree Memorial Park, Norcross. Mrs. Barrett was a member of Norcross First United Methodist Church, she owned and operated Barrett's Florist in Norcross for 27 years, she was a member of The Eastern Star and during WWII worked at the Bell-Bomber Plant in Marietta. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert L. Barrett and son, Joe Barrett. Survivors include: Son: Melvin (Doc) Barrett of Lawrenceville, GA; Grandchildren: Robbie Barrett of Lawrenceville, GA, Joe and Hio Barrett of Flowery Branch, GA, Domineec and Bill Heisel of Charlotte, NC, Glenn and Jodi Birts of Alto, GA, David and Pam Barrett of Gainesville, GA, Lisa Collins of Winder, GA, Curt and Renee Couch of Gainesville, GA, Joey Barrett of Gainesville, GA; Nine Great Grandchildren; Daughter-in-law: Phillis Barrett of Cleveland, GA; Sisters: Evelyn Sanders, Emily Mahoney, both of Hartwell, GA; Brothers: George Holcomb of Hiawassee, GA, Tom Holcomb of Abbeyville, GA. The family will receive friends Tuesday 4:00 to 8:00 PM at the Bill Head Funeral Home and Crematory, Duluth Chapel, 770-476-2535.


Jewelle Estelle Burt, age 82 of Lawrenceville, GA died January 9, 2006. Arrangements by Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc., Snellville Chapel, 770-979-3200,



Florence Anna Crawford, age 99 of Lawrenceville, GA, passed away January 8, 2006. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-277-4550.


Carlos F. Pavon Lora, age 50, of Lawrenceville, GA, passed away January 7, 2005. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville, Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-277-4550.



J. Q. Swan "Jake" Lanier, age 87, of Loganville, Georgia died January 8, 2006. Arrangements by Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc., Snellville Chapel, 770-979-3200,




Pauline Conn-Reich, age 93 of Stone Mountain, GA died January 9, 2006. She was preceded in death by her husband, J.B. Conn and Rudolph Reich and is survived by her daughter, and son-in-law, LaRue and John Walton of Stone Mountain; son and daughter-in-law, Bradley and Brenda Conn of Lawrenceville; 5 grandchildren; 5 great grandchildren; one great great grandchild. Mrs. Conn-Reich was a homemaker, member of Columbia Drive Baptist Church, Eastern Star and was past Worthy Matron with Ann Winn. Funeral services will be held Wednesday, January 11 at 11am at Wages Snellville Chapel with Dr. J. Don Aderhold officiating. Interment College Park Cemetery. The family will receive friends Tuesday from 6 until 8pm at the funeral home. Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc., Snellville Chapel, 770-979-3200,



Ruth Doris Vollbrecht, age 84 of Sugar Hill, GA, passed away January 8, 2006. Arrangements by Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville, Highway, Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-277-4550.



Louise Cates Matthews, 91, of Tucker, GA, died January 9, 2006. Arrangements are pending by Bill Head Funeral Homes and Crematory, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel, 770-564-2726.



James Lamar Hayes, age 70 of Winder, GA, passed away January 7, 2006. Arrangements by Smih Funeral Home of Winder, GA, 770-867-4553.

Probe goes on in dog deaths

LAWRENCEVILLE - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says at least 76 dogs nationwide may have died from eating contaminated pet food, and another 21 have become sick.

Panel clears revamped photo ID bill

ATLANTA - A Republican-controlled committee Monday approved a new version of a bill requiring Georgians to show a photo ID at the polls, over the objections of Democrats and voting rights advocates.

The bill is aimed at concerns about the photo ID law the General Assembly passed last year that prompted a federal judge to issue a temporary injunction last fall prohibiting the state from enforcing it.

Under the new measure, which is expected to reach the House floor later this week, Georgians who don't have a photo ID would be able to obtain one for free.

Also, photo IDs would be available at county registrar's offices in all of Georgia's 159 counties.

In last October's ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy compared the photo ID requirement to an illegal poll tax because people would have had to pay a fee to get one and IDs would have been available only at the state's 41 driver's license offices.

"We want to make sure that it is as easy as it can be for people to get an ID,'' Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, chief sponsor of photo ID legislation in the Senate, told members of the House Governmental Affairs Committee. "Free IDs, easily accessible and, yet, something that will assure us in Georgia that our elections are free and fair.''

Throughout last year's debate, Republicans said that requiring a photo ID would be the best way to prevent voter fraud.

But Democrats and voting rights advocates who attended the committee meeting on Monday, opening day of this year's session, argued that more fraud takes place in absentee balloting than at the polls. Yet, the Republican-backed bill enacted last year doesn't require Georgians wishing to vote absentee to show a photo ID.

"We're trying to fix a problem that simply does not exist,'' said Cass Robinson, state president of the AARP.

The bill's opponents also questioned whether registrar's offices in rural counties, which typically have small staffs, would be capable of handling a deluge of requests for photo IDs.

But their most fundamental complaint was that requiring a photo ID to vote would place an unfair burden on large groups of Georgians who don't have passports or driver's licenses, including the elderly and poor people.

"This bill will disenfranchise thousands of Georgians,'' Robinson said.

Civil rights activist Joe Beasley, Southern regional director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, charged Republicans with seeking to discourage minority voters from going to the polls.

"This has racial dimensions to it,'' he said. "This is clear and simple voter suppression.''

House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, said Republican leaders plan to address the funding question by earmarking $150,000 to $200,000 for the equipment county registrars will need to produce photo IDs.

As for the voter suppression charge, Republicans countered that many more Georgians already have photo IDs than are registered to vote.

"We're really talking about a very narrow section of people we're trying to help here,'' said House Majority Whip Barry Fleming, R-Harlem.

Cause of death disclosed in unsolved murder case

LAWRENCEVILLE - Police initially kept under wraps the cause of death in the case of a 21-year-old woman whose burned body was found in a private vineyard in


Effort the same regardless of game for two-sport stars

The Macon Telegraph

WARNER ROBINS - Quintin Banks plays basketball the same way he plays football. And that has some of his friends worried.

Tuberculosis cases on the rise in Georgia

LAWRENCEVILLE - Heavy coughing and night sweats were just some of the side effects Javier Perez suffered before he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a resurfacing disease with cases in Gwinnett.

The airborne disease that attacks the lungs was once all but obsolete, but due to widespread complacency it's making a comeback, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Jennifer Ruth.

"I think before there had been more awareness (of TB) but it's been put on the back burner," said Dr. Kartikeya Patel, a doctor at Gwinnett Internal Medicine Associates.

Although normally found in third-world countries where overpopulation and squalid conditions are prevalent, Lawrenceville alone ranks as the third highest health district out of 19 in Georgia for reported TB cases, according to East Metro Health District data.

Snellville City Council meets for first time in its new city center building

SNELLVILLE - The Monday night meeting of Snellville's mayor and council convened in the city's impressive new city center.

The city's new seal is prominently displayed behind the council seats. There is a new audio-visual system, and each council member's seat is equipped with a sleek notebook computer.

"I didn't think this was going to happen. It really is a dream come true," said Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer. Former council member and current state Rep. Melvin Everson presented Oberholtzer and mayor pro tem Mike Smith with U.S. flags sent from the state capitol.

"This is a magnificent structure that all our citizens can be proud of," said Everson. But I remind each of you, do not forget the history of this great city."

Rezoning request denied

A .904-acre parcel of land at 2496 Lenora Church Road will remain residential property, following a lengthy public hearing and council vote. Property owner Willis Bennett petitioned the council to rezone the property to office professional and planned to relocate his insurance office to the existing home on the property.

Jessica Roth, the city's planning and development director, said that her department and the planning commission recommended denial, as Bennett's plans were not in compliance with the city's 2012 Comprehensive Plan in which the area is designated residential.

Bennett's representative argued that such a use for that property is neighborhood-friendly and much safer and more stable than renting the home to a temporary resident.

Difficulty breathing

Lofty aspirations

'06 session gets down to business

ATLANTA - Republicans in control of the General Assembly wasted little time Monday in moving ahead with key portions of their agenda for this year's legislative session.

On opening day, a time normally reserved more for speeches than action, a House committee approved revamped legislation requiring Georgians to show a photo ID at the polls.

And a second House panel passed GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue's bill to temporarily cut in half the state sales tax on natural gas and liquid propane, a measure aimed at keeping the lid on heating bills this winter.

"We are going to get to work and tackle those issues that are important to voters early in the session,'' said House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island.

Not to be outdone, Democrats countered with several initiatives of their own. Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor - a Democrat running for governor this year - unveiled a plan to offer health insurance to all Georgia children.

And House Democrats unveiled an agenda dominated by education, health care, open government and economic development.

"These are the issues that are really important to the people of Georgia,'' said House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, D-Dublin.

In the Senate, President Pro Tem Eric Johnson asked legislators to consider the "tattoo test" when deciding which bills to move forward.

"We don't always want to do something because of a fad,'' said Johnson, R-Savannah. "We want to think about what it will look like 30 years from now.''

Johnson said the 2006 session will focus on education and jobs.

The session began on a positive note in the Senate, with Johnson leading a standing ovation for Taylor.

"No one would question he hasn't been a fighter for the people," Johnson said of the lieutenant governor, who presided over his eighth and final opening day Monday.

The tone in the House was more partisan, as Democrats and Republicans took opening shots in what is expected to be an election-year war of words.

Rep. Bob Holmes, D-Atlanta, charged House Republican leaders with stifling the voices of Democrats last year, the GOP's first in control of the lower chamber, and urged the GOP not to repeat that approach this year.

"We need to respect the right of (political) minorities,'' he said. "In order for us to represent our constituencies, we need the right to speak.''

After Monday's floor session, Keen noted that Holmes' comments were made on the House floor.

"If you have access to the well of the House, how can you say you don't have an ability to speak?'' Keen said.

Much of Monday's hourlong session in the House was taken up with first readings of bills being introduced for consideration this year, the second in the 2005-06 legislative term. Bills aren't voted on until after they are read for a third time.

Besides Perdue's natural gas relief bill, the new legislation also included a bill on his agenda requiring local school systems to dedicate at least 65 percent of their funds to classroom expenses.

Another House measure being pushed by lawmakers representing southwest Georgia and the state's northwestern counties would require that the state Board of Community Health include at least one teacher.

Teachers and state employees from those regions raised an outcry last fall after the state, in a cost-cutting move, entered into a contract with United Health Care to serve members of the State Health Benefit Plan.

Many hospitals and doctors in those areas were not part of United Health Care's network and were reluctant to sign on with the company.

Taylor's plan to make health insurance for children more affordable also stems from a problem that plagues state employees.

The proposed "PeachKids" initiative is similar to the current PeachCare program, which funds health care for 200,000 children in low-income families.

Taylor said PeachKids would apply to families who make more than the $40,000 salary cap for PeachCare.

The current program does not have an income cap but bases premium costs on income level.

Lessons learned and not learned from French riots


The French have had two months to sort out the lessons of last fall's riots in predominately Muslim neighborhoods. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says the rioting was caused by racial bias, lack of business opportunity and insufficient education for immigrant children.

He vows tax breaks for business, better education for immigrant children and tougher enforcement of anti-bias laws. For this conclusion, the French media, which is more left wing than the American press, praised him.

Library system to limit number of items for checkout

LAWRENCEVILLE - Hoping to reduce theft and taxpayer costs, the Gwinnett library board will soon limit the amount of books and other items customers can check out at once.

Gwinnett's Library System allows individuals to check out 250 items, but the Board of Trustees voted Monday to limit that number to 75. The new policy is effective April 3.

Parkview senior Lofton has eyes set on state title

This is how Ron Lofton's wrestling career began.

City acquires 14 acres for future park

LAWRENCEVILLE - More land near Sugarloaf Parkway has been donated to the city of Lawrenceville for use as a park.

What others are saying

New drunk-driving policy good for all students at UGA

The Augusta Chronicle:

It could be an unhappy new year for University of Georgia students who booze it up and get out of hand.

Instead of receiving a citation from UGA police, they're going to be hauled off to jail. This isn't so much a change in policy as it is a reversion to an old policy that was abandoned in 1998, after parents complained about the way students were treated after being arrested.

Gwinnett freshman Everson starts new duties

ATLANTA - Gwinnett's newest representative was welcomed into the General Assembly with a standing ovation Monday morning.

Snellville's Melvin Everson is the first black Republican under the Gold Dome to have won a contested election.

Fall Out Boy scheduled to play arena

DULUTH - Grammy-nominated rock group Fall Out Boy will come to the Arena at Gwinnett Center on April 30, the band's label confirmed Monday.

Man pleads guilty to $4 million loan fraud

ATLANTA (AP) - A 35-year-old man pleaded guilty Monday to masterminding a scheme to defraud banks out of $4 million in small business loans by inventing fake companies backed up by phony tax returns and invoices.

DeLay scandal just normal for Texas politicians


It is hard to develop much sympathy for Tom DeLay, who resigned last week as Republican majority leader of the House, after his indictment in Texas on campaign finance charges was followed by guilty pleas from Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, two of his lobbyist buddies who now threaten to blow the whistle on congressional corruption.

Buford house heavily damaged by fire

From staff reports

Buford - A house fire broke out about 9 p.m. Monday at Bona Road and Washington Street in Buford.

Firefighters arrived to see heavy fire coming from a home at 35 Bona Road.

One female occupant was treated and released at the scene. No other injuries were reported.

The single-story wood-frame house was heavily damaged, said Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Thomas Rutledge. Rutledge said the fire was caused by a kerosene heater in a front bedroom and was an accident.

Academy fires back in lawsuit

LOGANVILLE - After expelling a student for a same-sex kiss, officials at Covenant Christian Academy are claiming a constitutional right to ban homosexual students.

How much trans fat in that cookie? Labels tell you now

LAWRENCEVILLE - A decade after the first cries about the hidden dangers of trans fats the Federal Food and Drug Administration now requires food labels to list how much is in each serving.

The new law also requires companies to list common allergy triggers, such as wheat, milk, eggs and peanuts or their derivatives in plain English on their products. Before, cryptic words normally found included "casein," which comes from milk, or "semolina," which comes from wheat.

Off and running