News for Sunday, January 22, 2006

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Baker on verge of record for steals

ATHENS - Barely one month after she moved into the SEC's career top 10 list for steals, Georgia's Sherill Baker is on pace to grab the record today.

Auburn officers launch department's first Web site

AUBURN - For more than a year, two Auburn officers have been toiling over a side project on top of their normal city duties: creating a Web site for the police department they work for.

Literary Calendar

Monday

Maryn McKenna, author of "Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service," will sign copies of her work at 7 p.m. Monday at the Borders Books and Music at Johns Creek, located at 3630 Peachtree Parkway in Suwanee. The signing is free. Call 678-417-1425.

Programs give those with disabilities the opportunity to succeed

Opening doors and creating possibilities for people with disabilities is the cornerstone of Creative Enterprises Inc.'s (CEI) mission.

Here we strive to give individuals with disabilities every opportunity to succeed and become contributing members of the community. We offer a variety of services. These services are day habilitation, work adjustment, employment training, job placement and social skills, along with recreational and educational programming.

Eclectic Avenue

Republicans turn redistricting tables on Democrats

Republicans were livid in 2001 when Democrats then in control of the General Assembly twisted Georgia's legislative maps into all kinds of weird shapes to maximize Democratic voting strength.

Five years later, Republicans now in charge of the Senate are seeking to use their power in a new round of redistricting, although on a smaller scale.

Rather than redrawing the entire Senate map - a process already taken care of to the GOP's satisfaction by a federal court panel - a bill introduced by Sen. Ralph Hudgens, R-Comer, and passed by the Senate would split Clarke County between two districts.

Gwinnett to break ground on new park

LAWRENCEVILLE - County citizens will soon have another option to enjoy life along the Chattahoochee.

Lesson of politics: When all else fails, make like a fool

The camera may not steal the human soul, as some aboriginal peoples believe. But the camera may steal one's intelligence, as British politician George Galloway recently demonstrated by pretending to be a four-legged feline on television.

Galloway, the flamboyant left-wing socialist and anti-war critic also known as "Gorgeous George," has always been a bit of a showstopper - reputedly fond of fancy suits and limousines as he pursued egalite for the masses - but he has outperformed himself this time. What could he have been thinking?

For decades now, Galloway has been in the thick of things in the Middle East, especially with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, though it's sometimes tricky following his trajectory with Saddam. In the 1970s, he was critical of Saddam's human rights abuses, and he later criticized American and British support of Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war.

Then in 1991, apparently having switched sides, he opposed the Gulf War and vehemently opposed sanctions against Iraq. During a 1994 meeting with Saddam, Galloway famously told the tyrant: "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability."

More recently, Galloway appeared before a U.S. Senate subcommittee to deny charges that he had benefited from Iraq's oil-for-food program. Now widely viewed as a Saddam apologist - or a hero, depending on one's point of view - Galloway regularly articulates arguments embraced by the anti-war left.

And then last week, apparently, he lost his mind.

The performance in question was via a television game show called "Celebrity Big Brother," where people you've never heard of - or vaguely recall from some long-ago past - enter an isolated house for a lockdown and let the public watch whatever it is they do. The goal is to not be evicted by viewers. The last man standing wins a large cash prize.

In last Thursday's episode, the show's orchestrators decided to test whether human beings can communicate with animals. I'm not sure how that translated into Galloway's making like a cat, but there he was looking like someone ready to be hustled up to the attic away from the startled gazes of curious neighbors.

Down on all fours, Galloway - politician, provocateur, polemicist - purred while pretending to slurp imaginary milk from the cupped hands of one Rula Lenska. Of course you remember Rula - Luce Habit in "Queen Kong"? 1976? Perhaps this memorable line will nudge your memory: "Sanga banga wanga danga! Him? No! But I pay you much to see Konga."

Ron McLarty's first novel depicts cross-country trip

Author Ron McLarty constantly edits and rewrites his work. He even travels with his manuscripts so he can read them again and again.

Center offers shopping aimed at women

LAWRENCEVILLE - Think supersized outdoor food court.

That's one way to look at Avenue Webb Gin, the new 56-acre lifestyle center taking shape on Ga. Highway 124 halfway between Lawrenceville and Snellville.

The shopping center has lined up Mexican restaurant On the Border, Romano's Macaroni Grill, Chili's and Doc Green's gourmet salads. More restaurants may be added by the time Avenue Webb Gin opens in about seven months.

Jackson lands large industrial Cousins project

Jackson County's industrial market keeps booming.

Mercer, Georgia men snap Ole Miss' streak

ATHENS - Mike Mercer scored five points in the final minute as Georgia beat Mississippi 72-65 Saturday, ending the Rebels' seven-game winning streak.

Prep roundup: Collins Hills girls still rolling

SUWANEE - The top-ranked Collins Hill girls played their best defensive game of the year as it rolled past Peachtree Ridge 64-17 on Saturday.

For governor, magic number is 65 percent

ATLANTA - From teacher pay raises to reducing class sizes, most of Gov. Sonny Perdue's 2006 education agenda would cost state taxpayers millions of dollars.

Martin Luther King Day event draws political crowd

In a more diverse Gwinnett, the annual Martin Luther King Day celebration is becoming a political event.

Top cats again

Firefighters awarded for service

DULUTH - Just over a year ago, 22-year-old Travis Hunnicutt was in the hospital with a gunshot wound to his head and a grim prognosis.

On Saturday, he was shaking hands with the paramedics who saved his life at the Gwinnett County Fire Department's annual awards ceremony.

County gets additional funding for food, shelter

LAWRENCEVILLE - Organizations providing emergency food and shelter to Gwinnett residents have been given an 18 percent increase from last year in funding from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

Road closures

•Bogan Road from Harmony Elementary School to Hamilton Mill Road will require intermittent lane closures from

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through March for safety improvements to include curb and gutter, sidewalk and a multi-use path.

County's leaders interview candidate for hospital CEO

LAWRENCEVILLE - Hospital officials are turning to community leaders to help decide on the new leader for two of Gwinnett's hospitals.

Reed loses supporters to Cagle

camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com

LAWRENCEVILLE - A half dozen Gwinnett County political and business leaders have jumped Ralph Reed's ship to hop on Casey Cagle's bandwagon.

State briefs

Proposals aim to close pregnancy loophole for would-be brides

•ATLANTA - When it comes to marriage laws, the nation's states are far from wed to a single standard. In Georgia, Florida and a handful of other states, pregnancy is the only exception needed to toss out the minimum age requirements for marriage - even without parental consent.

OBITUARIES

AUBURN

SMITH, JOHNNIE

Mrs. Johnnie P. Smith, age 88, of Auburn, GA, passed away January 20, 2006. Funeral services will be Sunday, January 22, 2006 at 2:00 PM at Smith Memory Chapel with Rev. Kenneth Brewer and Rev. Billie Ray Banks officiating. Interment will be in Auburn Cemetery. Mrs. Smith was preceded in death by her husband, William Ray Smith, parents, John W. and Eula M. Cruce Parks, and great grandchild, Steven Johnson. She is survived by her daughter, Elaine Zabiel of Statham; son, William Ray (Smitty) Smith of Auburn; 4 grandchildren; 4 great grandchildren; brother, Roy Parks of Auburn; sister, Lourene Baird of Braselton; and several nieces and nephews. Arrangements by Smith Funeral Home of Winder, GA, 770-867-4553.

DACULA

COLE, ROBERT S.

Cancer society offers fashion show tickets, awards volunteers

Are you aware of an event or project that benefits our community? Contact Shelley Mann at 770-963-9205 ext. 1305 or shelley.mann@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Gladiators rally past Pilots

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The Gwinnett Gladiators used two third-period goals and three-point-nights from Scott Kelman and Milan Gajic to knock off Pensacola 4-3 on Saturday night in Pensacola.

Engagement Announcements

Whitworth - Hay

Robert and Debbie Whitworth of Elberton announce the engagement of their daughter, Brianna Michelle Whitworth, to Joseph Godfrey Hay Jr., son of Joseph and Lisa Hay of Thomasville.

Berkeley Lake 'concerned' over demographics

BERKELEY LAKE - Mayor Lois Salter on Thursday shared with the council her findings regarding residents' concern over the changing demographics at Berkeley Lake Elementary School.

"Several residents have expressed their concern over this," Salter said. After trying unsuccessfully to establish a citizen committee to look into the issue, Salter took on the task herself.

Berkeley Lake residents have been voicing their fears about a possible decline in property values because of the increasingly international makeup of the school's student body. In a letter to Salter from Principal Leigh Westcott, Westcott acknowledges that, while demographics have changed over recent years, standardized test scores meet or exceed standards, and 100 percent of the students passed the language arts portion.

Salter's written report to the council said "the student population is about 30 percent white with increasing numbers of ESOL

(English as a Second Language) students." Based on further research Salter conducted comparing county and state data, she added, "What stood out to me in studying this data was that although they do have a growing percentage of ESOL students, the test scores do indeed continue to look very good. Their (the school's) population as compared to other Gwinnett County schools has less black students than the county average and more Asian and Hispanic ones. The large majority of retained students were Hispanic."

The mayor has also taken residents' concerns to District 2 county commissioner Bert Nasuti, who reassured her there are several factors that should help keep Berkeley Lake property values healthy.

"(Nasuti) noted that the county has not been approving any more multifamily residential developments for quite some time," Salter said. Nasuti also made reference to a planned police precinct in the Peachtree Corners area, which will be much closer than the Gwinnett Place-area precinct which now serves Berkeley Lake.

Also, the planned park/aquatic center just across Peachtree Industrial Boulevard from the city will be under way soon, an attractive feature to both current and prospective homeowners nearby. Salter also said she has persuaded officials to add a dog socialization park to Pinckneyville Park, adding to that park's value to residents.

Salter concluded the report by encouraging residents, whether they have children enrolled in the school or not, to get involved by volunteering. "Our citizens of all ages could visit BLES regularly to read to students, to share their talents or experiences in specific careers, to mentor struggling students as individuals, or to do any number of volunteer tasks."

Council considers

cutting back meetings

Council members will vote at the next council meeting whether to continue to hold two meeting per month or scale back to just one, which would be held on the third Thursday of every month.

New city inspector, procedures on board

City residents can soon go online to request building permits soon, City Clerk Jackie Wall said. Permit fees also will be published on the city's Web site.

"I think this is going to be a good thing for the city," Salter said.

Under the new policy, residents do not have to travel to Lawrenceville for permit issues, then duplicate some of the same efforts for the city. The entire process is a city matter now, saving homeowners time and money.

Permit fees are lower than when the county was involved because, the mayor said, "We don't want to charge citizens any more than we have to."

Permit and inspection fees are not intended to be a source of revenue generation for the city.

County asks legislators for help stopping annexations

LAWRENCEVILLE - Last summer, Commissioner Mike Beaudreau spent hours trying to work out a solution to a rezoning request along the Alcovy River.

Gwinnett Gab

Library program gives key to arts

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett County Public Library is giving patrons a new way to check out the arts.

Dalton leads Parkview to another state wrestling title

MACON - Conner Dalton is used to winning close matches, but Saturday's victory in Macon was his biggest.

Base new sex-offender laws on merit

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

It's a sure bet that most of us, when it comes to sexual predators, have precious little sympathy; for those who prey on children, none whatever. For the worst of the worst, there is no sentence long enough to compensate for the damage - sometimes permanent - they inflict on their victims.

Files show past arrests, reprimands

LAWRENCEVILLE - A review of the personnel files of more than 60 employees of Prison Health Services, the contracted medical provider for the Gwinnett County Detention Center, reveals several employees have something in common with the inmates they treat - six have been arrested in the past.

More than 130 look for jobs at Sheriff's Department fair

LAWRENCEVILLE - Saturday's gray drizzle didn't deter more than 130 applicants from applying for Gwinnett County deputy sheriff and jailer positions.

Help pick a new mascot for college

Not to jump the gun or anything, but Georgia Gwinnett College needs a mascot.

Yes, I know the college doesn't have any students yet. Or classes, or even faculty. While those things are nice, this is, after all, the South. Here, we concern ourselves first and foremost with what is truly important: sports. As any legitimate Civil War historian will tell you, the South didn't really secede over states' rights. It was all about the Bowl Championship Series.

However, we must be very careful. The process of choosing a mascot, once simple, is now as fraught with political correctness implications as your average Gulf Coast hurricane.

The first rule of mascot selection is that negatively depicting specific ethnic groups is not allowed. For example, the NCAA's stance on Native American-inspired nicknames has made it clear that all such mascots are considered stereotypical and demeaning. I see no reason we shouldn't apply that same standard to other primitive cultures, such as Vikings, Trojans, Spartans and Senate Democrats.

Not that all groups are necessarily taboo. A college or university is always free to name its sports teams after a group that has positively impacted the culture of its region or with whom the region is commonly associated. For example, consider the Cowboys of Oklahoma State University, or Southwest Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns.

Unfortunately, Georgia Gwinnett doesn't have that option. While there is one clearly identifiable group that defines the region, Cussin' Commuters just doesn't have the same ring.

Another rule of mascot selection is if you're going to have an animal nickname - which seems to be the current rage, since animals don't own casinos and therefore can't afford lawyers - you should pick one known for its ferocity, or at least its tenacity.

No offense to Kennesaw State, which has a fine athletic program, but come on. The Owls? Hardly a name to inspire fear: "We're the Owls. We're going to win because we're wiser than you." I mean, what are they playing, chess?

Instead, a college should choose a vicious predator, like a lion, a wolf or a jaguar. Or, if a bird, at least one that's known for being fierce, like an eagle. (I think we can eliminate Hawks and Falcons based on that criterion.)

With these parameters in mind, I hereby unofficially open the mascot selection process for Georgia Gwinnett College. Readers are invited to e-mail me their ideas at the address below. If I get enough suggestions, and if they're imaginative and entertaining enough, I'll put them in a future column.

I'll even start the ball rolling with a nomination of my own: Razorbacks. This animal is both fierce and tenacious and, like native Southerners, once roamed Gwinnett County in abundance.

For good, clean, wacky fun, students could refer to their teams affectionately as "The Pigs" and nickname their home football stadium "The Poke."

Two teachers selected as Science Teachers of Year

SUWANEE - The Georgia Science Teachers Association recognized two Gwinnett teachers as being among the best science teachers in metro Atlanta.

Students honored for their artwork

Fifteen Gwinnett high school students were honored for their artistic talents in the 2006 Scholastic Art Awards.

The awards honor artists and writers in seventh through 12th grades for their creative achievements.

The Atlanta College of Art sponsored the competition, and will put winning student work on display at its gallery. Seven Gwinnett students won the Gold Key awards, making them eligible for the national competition. Winners of the Silver Key awards were also recognized this month at an awards ceremony.

Parkview wrestlers win duals

Sports calendar

Baseball

Through February: Early registration for T-ball for players ages 4-8 is $50 through January. It's $60 after. Register online at www.firstbaptist.net or call 770-921-1220 ext. 256. Sponsored by the Recreation Ministry of First Baptist Lilburn.

River recreation

Seeing England in a novel way with two new books

I spent part of last week with a family in London. OK, I wasn't really in England, but I was reading about it in "The Great Indoors" by Sabine Durrant (Riverhead, $14).

When the novel begins, Martha, who owns an antique shop in London, finds out that her stepfather has died. The death affects each member of her family differently.

Martha's sisters end up fighting over who will get furniture and a painting from the house where their mother and stepfather lived. Martha isn't really interested in the sentimental value of her family's furniture, though she does take home a bag of papers from her past. After she reads the old notes, she can't stop thinking about her first boyfriend.

Her sisters, however, are more interested in seeing Martha end up with a more recent ex, the guy she broke up with two years ago. They invite him to the funeral, hoping for the best.

Birth Announcements

Nov. 8

Dylan Boyce Hammock was born on Nov. 8, 2005, to Kelley Simmons Hammock and William Henry Hammock Jr. of Buford. He weighed 7 lbs. and was 21 inches long.

Court not likely to endorse expanded powers

WASHINGTON

Is there a message for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in last week's 6-3 Supreme Court decision, rejecting the claim by his predecessor, John Ashcroft, that the federal government has the authority to overrule Oregon's assisted-suicide law? In my nonlegal opinion, it casts serious doubt on Gonzales' effort to defend President Bush's authorizing wiretapping of domestic residents without a court order.

Suwanee residents recognized for being trendsetters

SUWANEE - Suwanee residents got a well-deserved pat on the back recently.

They've been very busy working to improve their community: planning and building parks, offering feedback and insights through various master planning processes and working with police officers to enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods.

Thumbs up

The Daily Post gives a thumbs up to Gwinnett citizens who have stood apart this week.