News for Sunday, March 26, 2006

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The vaults have it: Mill Creek's Cheek, GAC's Peters set records atGwinnett County meet

HOSCHTON - It was a great day for pole vaulters Cameron Cheek and Annalise Peters at the Gwinnett County Track and Field Championships.

Engagement Announcements

Miller - Copponex

Lawrence and Terry Miller of Lawrenceville announce the engagement of their daughter, Rachel Elizabeth Miller, to Glen Gregory Copponex Jr., son of Glen and Mary Copponex of Suwanee.

Quilt makers share work with friends, community

Across Gwinnett, quilters are passionate about the traditional craft. Quilts are the very heart of Carla McDougall's Snellville home. She has made quilts that cover the beds and created quilted pieces for the walls. In the office that also serves as a sewing room, partially sewn quilt pieces are neatly stacked alongside rows of thread spools.

"I love working with my hands," said McDougall, a self-taught quilter.

Legislature in brief

House approves shoot-first bill

•ATLANTA - In a gun rights showdown, House lawmakers passed a proposal Friday that gives Georgians the right to use deadly force to defend themselves in public areas.

Follow a modern fairy tale in 'Cinderella Lopez'

It's true that fairy tales are not terribly realistic. Every story is about some princess or poor girl finding her true love, who just happens to be a rich prince. If that's not enough, they always end up living happily ever after.

Literary Calendar

Monday

Tom Chaffin, author of "Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah," will discuss and sign his book at 7 p.m. Monday at the Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore St. in Decatur. The free event is sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book. Call 404-370-8450, ext. 2225 or visit www.georgiacenterforthebook.org.

Comfort Zone

Volunteers killed in 1836 Texas battle memorialized

LAWRENCEVILLE - It isn't every day that men clad in historic army attire gather on the grounds of the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse to honor past soldiers with a 10-gun salute and a cannon.

Thumbs Up

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

Advocates should tread carefully in reforming Electoral College

WASHINGTON

The question of how we elect a president is up for debate again, with advocates of a majoritarian philosophy having invented a new device for moving to a direct popular vote for the chief executive.

Roughing it: Change makes Sugarloaf course greener, tougher forBellSouth

DULUTH - The labor of love started almost 10 months ago.

Making that occasional trip downtown

A confirmed suburbanite, I rarely venture into downtown Atlanta. Five or six times a year, maybe, mostly to attend major league sporting events or perhaps take in a Hawks game.

That this phenomenon is not exactly rare among Gwinnettians is one of the things that surprised me most when we moved here six years ago. As someone familiar with the metropolitan area but not with Gwinnett County, I'd always assumed it was a typical bedroom community, most of whose residents work downtown. Now I've learned the truth: Hardly anyone downtown actually works.

In addition, it was eye-opening to discover that many people who live in Gwinnett are also employed in Gwinnett - and still have 60-minute-plus commutes one way.

But maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. I mean, why would anyone ever want to leave here? Since the Gwinnett Center has emerged as a major entertainment venue, we now have everything Atlanta has: large multinational corporations, ample shopping and dining opportunities, urban blight, street gangs. All we lack is a major league sports franchise - and that's coming.

Still, for those of us who say we're "from Atlanta" when visiting other parts of the country (you know, just to keep from repeatedly having to answer the question, "Where's Snellville?"), the lure of the city still occasionally beckons. It did for me last weekend, when I headed downtown to attend a professional conference. It was the first time in a while that I'd visited the city during the day, and I have to say some things have changed.

For one thing, roughly twice as many people seemed to be walking around muttering to themselves. And only about half of them, on closer inspection, turned out to be wearing wireless headsets.

I also noticed that MARTA has made significant improvements. I embarked from the Chamblee station in what appeared to be a brand new train, with a shiny interior and fresh vinyl on the seats. Also, the models pictured in the advertising posters hadn't yet been adorned with facial hair or had their teeth blacked out.

In addition, the transit system is in the process of changing from metal tokens over to bar-coded tickets, which apparently passengers are supposed to swipe at the gate, then throw on the ground.

All in all, it was a pleasant trip, and I found the city to be relatively clean and criminal-free. So perhaps my cliche-ridden suburban paranoia has been misplaced all along. Maybe I ought to go downtown more often.

Then again, once the Braves and Falcons move out here, why would I?

Lawrenceville resident Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English and director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.

Seven local students headed to state geographic bee

Seven Gwinnett middle school students are well-versed in their capitals and countries. After winning their regional geographic bees, they advanced to the state level.

Cities, counties collect big bucks from speeding tickets

LAWRENCEVILLE - There's a blue-light special in your rearview mirror, and not the kind that saves you money at K-Mart.

It's a police patrol car, and an officer has just caught you speeding. Depending where you've been pulled over, rushing to that business appointment or to pick up a child may cost you plenty.

Birth Announcements

Sept. 2

Bella Grace Januszewski was born on Sept. 2, 2005 to Christine Duncan Januszewski and Garrick Richard Januszewski of Locust Grove. She weighed 7 lbs. 12 oz., and was 191⁄2 inches long.

Poll workers prepare for '06 elections

LAWRENCEVILLE - In just a month, politicians will start lining up to qualify for the ballot.

Fresh fun

Lawmakers eager to cater to politically active seniors

Entering this year's legislative session, Georgia seniors were in for a modest income tax break, the first of a series of phased-in reductions approved three years ago.

But that was before Senate Republicans and Democrats stepped in during an election year to raise the ante that had been established by GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Casey Cagle, R-Gainesville, who is running for lieutenant governor, started off the bidding by introducing a constitutional amendment to exempt from taxation the first $50,000 of income earned by Georgians 62 and older. Seniors 65 and older would be completely exempt from paying income taxes.

Next, it was Sen. Tim Golden's turn. The chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus from Valdosta amended Cagle's measure on the Senate floor two weeks ago to raise the $50,000 exemption for younger seniors to $75,000.

In another change prompted by Golden, Georgia taxpayers age 70 and older would get a tax exemption on their first $100,000 of income.

Either way - Cagle's or Golden's - those senior tax breaks essentially would shift millions of dollars of the state's annual tax burden from the oldest taxpayers to younger Georgians, from college students working part time to middle-aged couples struggling to keep up with mortgage payments while sending their kids to college.

But those younger taxpayers have no one to blame but themselves.

Politicians being politicians, Georgia lawmakers simply are appealing to the demographic group most likely to decide whether they are re-elected or turned out of office.

For decades, voting patterns across the country have shown that the elderly and near-elderly are much more likely to vote than younger people.

Take the last gubernatorial election in Georgia.

While only 22 percent of registered voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in that 2002 race, the turnout among voters in the 60-64 age group was 71 percent, according to the Georgia secretary of state's office. Those high numbers fell off only slightly among the 65-and-up crowd, to 68 percent.

Older adults tend to be more active participants in the political system because they feel like they have more at stake in the outcomes of elections, said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.

"Young people move around more,'' he said. "There's also the perception among young people that they're too busy to vote.''

That lack of a sense of place among younger adults also is reflected in which elections they take part in, said Chris Riggall, spokesman for Secretary of State Cathy Cox.

He said younger voters tend to turn out in stronger numbers for presidential elections than for gubernatorial races.

With their larger stage, it's easier to move around and keep up with national politics than the doings of either the state or local governments.

But, as the late U.S. House Speaker Tip O'Neill once famously observed, "All politics is local.''

Thus, a skewing of the electorate at the state and local levels toward senior voters is likely to produce policies that favor that demographic.

While it might make for good politics, critics of the Senate tax cuts say it doesn't make for good public policy.

According to a report released by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute earlier this month, the poorest 60 percent of Georgia seniors would receive just 2 percent of the tax relief the amendment would generate, while the wealthiest 20 percent would get 79 percent of the tax breaks.

"Clearly, extending tax relief to Georgia's senior citizens, regardless of income, would be politically popular,'' said Alan Essig, the Atlanta-based research group's executive director. "Unfortunately ... tax cuts such as this only shift the burden of the increasing costs of government from one segment of the population to another.''

But Cagle said Georgia needs to lower taxes for senior retirees or lose that economically lucrative market to states like Florida or Tennessee.

"We are losing so many people to neighboring states that don't have an income tax,'' he said. "We can afford to do it.''

As for the argument that the amendment would disproportionately benefit wealthy seniors, Cagle pointed to the change senators made in the original measure that got rid of the unlimited exemption in place of a $100,000 cap.

Presumably, House members also would like a crack at pleasing senior voters. But with just three days remaining in this year's 40-day legislative session, the amendment's fate in the lower chamber is uncertain.

Dave Williams is a staff writer for the Gwinnett Daily Post. E-mail him at dave.williams@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Be part of solution to teen drinking

Kimberly's parents began preparing her for driving on her own before she even got her learner's permit. They set good examples for wearing their seatbelts and driving the speed limit.

They took her out for practice drives and talked to her about safety issues and concerns. They even prepared a contract with their expectations and possible consequences should she fail to practice safe driving strategies.

When she finally passed her driving tests, they felt comfortable they had done all they could to assure she would make the right decisions about her driving habits.

High Museum of Art displays 'Quilts of Gee's Bend'

More than 60 quilts now hang on the walls of the second-floor galleries of the High Museum of Art. The works were created by quilters from the isolated Gee's Bend, Ala., a historically black community.

Best of Barrow fair features health information

WINDER - Barrow County residents will have a chance to learn about health and human services resources in the county at an annual fair to be held Tuesday.

Campaign balloon takes lengthy flight

You've heard of floating a lead balloon in politics, right?

Well, apparently Bert Nasuti has balloons that can float.

Roughing it

The rought at the TPC at Sugarloaf was dug up last year and replaced with Bermuda grass. It was previously Zoysia. The Bermuda allows the staff to overseed the rough with rye grass for the BellSouth Classic, which means thick rough will be in play at the BellSouth for the first time since the tournament moved back to Sugarloaf.

Council to vote on planning nominees

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Snellville City Council will vote Monday night on two nominees for the city Planning Commission.

Park reopening draws crowd of more than 1,000

LILBURN - Cindy Valdes flew a kite with her father. Kamaria Mustafa ran around a baseball field with her siblings, waving a pennant. Kayla Basak jumped in the Bounce House. And Brad Cooper shot some hoops and tested his pitching arm.

Department of Family, Children Services seeking donations

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.

Manufacturers shipping out record numbers of digital video recorders

LAWRENCEVILLE

The voracious consumer demand for digital video recorders continues to increase so fast it's creating a shortfall of the devices at one local cable provider.

City to mull sex offender crackdown

SNELLVILLE - Snellville's City Council will consider moves to crack down on sex offenders and force absentee owners to keep up their property.

OBITUARIES

BUFORD

DUNCAN, PEARLINE

Mrs. Pearline Duncan, age 89, of Buford, GA passed away on Saturday, March 25, 2006. Service and Arrangements will be announced by: Junior E. Flanigan of: Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com *

FRANKLIN, NC

JENNEY, JACK

Mr. Jack D. Jenney of Franklin, NC died March 23, 2006. Funeral arrangements by Carter Funeral Home of Winder, 770-867-6706. *

GAINESVILLE

MICHELLI, VINCENT

Vincent J. Michelli, Jr., age 63 of Gainesville, GA died March 18, 2006. Arrangements by National Cremation Society, 770-923-2940. *

LILBURN

STAINBACK, JIM

Jim Stainback, age 58 of Lilburn, GA died March 23, 2006. Arrangements by Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc., Snellville Chapel, 770-979-3200, www.wagesfuneralhome.com *

STONE MOUNTAIN

BUSBY, VIRGINIA

Virginia D. Busby, 80, of Stone Mountain died March 24, 2006. Mrs. Busby was preceded in death by her husband, Herman Busby. She is survived by a son Larry and Jean Busby of Lawrenceville, a daughter Sharon and Van Nichols of Decatur and a granddaughter Tara Simmet of Lawrenceville. She was a 40 year member of Mountain Park First Baptist Church. Funeral services will be 3:00 pm Monday from Ward's Stone Mountain Chapel with Rev. Doug Cox officiating. Interment to follow at Eternal Hills Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends Sunday from 2-6 pm. Arrangements by Horis A. Ward Stone Mtn Chapel Rockbridge Rd. at Five Forks Trickum, 770-381-5722.

SUGAR HILL

FERENCIK, LOIS

Mrs. Lois B. Ferencik, age 77, of Sugar Hill, GA passed away Saturday, March 25, 2006. 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 *

Sports Calendar

Baseball

April 3-7: Renz Baseball will be holding a baseball/softball Spring Break Camp April 3-7 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. each day. The cost per camper is $125. Eight indoor baseball/softball cages and private lessons are available. For more information or to register, visit renzbaseball.com or call 770-271-4554.

Prep Roundup: North's Peters no-hits Fayette County

SUWANEE - Mike Peters retired the last 14 batters he faced en route to a no-hitter, as North Gwinnett remained perfect on the season defeating Fayette County 1-0 on Saturday.

Forecast good for Gwinnett SPLOST collections

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett should expect another robust year of tax collections.

Gwinnett Gab

Man receives $2,500 in Kroger gift cards

LILBURN - Gwinnett County resident Henny Baham won $2,500 worth of Kroger gift cards.

DOT crews to clean up litter along Interstate 85

LAWRENCEVILLE - The temperature may have dipped well below 70 degrees, but spring is still in the air. And that means it's time for spring cleaning.

This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation will be out to clean up the roadside in its annual March maintenance campaign.

Few willing to tackle Georgia's most pressing issue - growth

To paraphrase an old campaign slogan, it's the growth, stupid. It's not the economy. It's not hurried divorces or Jane Fonda or Bible studies or even undocumented immigrants, though they are part of it.

First high-rise request filed

LAWRENCEVILLE - A group of investors have filed the first rezoning request for high-rise condo towers in Gwinnett County.

Miss Basketball: Moore given top honor by GSWA; Meeks also honored as AAAAA's top boys player

The postseason honors keep rolling in for Maya Moore.

Body discovered in Suwanee woods

SUWANEE - Two men searching for a lost dog Saturday instead found a dead body in the woods.

Seniors to receive gas bill relief

Georgia's low-income seniors are distressed by soaring natural gas bills.

Threat made against Porter

LAWRENCEVILLE - A death threat that "came out of nowhere" has left District Attorney Danny Porter with ramped up security and worried about his family's safety.

Barrow County tests new voting technology

WINDER - Ernie Austin gets excited about elections.

Road Closures

n Arnold Road at U.S. Highway 29 will require intermittent lane closures from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through July for road widening and safety improvements.

Caught in a trap