News for Wednesday, March 8, 2006

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Lewis Richardson, Sr.

Mr. Lewis M. Richardson, Sr., age 93, of Sugar Hill, GA passed away on Friday, March 3, 2006. He is survived by his: Wife of 60 years: Mrs. Marjorie C ...

Emil Wyka

Emil Edward Wyka, age 87 of Duluth, died March 7, 2006. A Funeral Mass will be said 11:00 AM Friday, March 10, 2006 at the Catholic Church of St. Monica ...

Donald Green

Mr. Donald Eugene (RED) Green, age 61, of Flowery Branch, died Tuesday, March 7, 2006. Arrangements by Memorial Park South Funeral Home, 4121 Falcon Parkway, Flowery Branch, GA 30542, 770-967-5555 ...

Fonnie Burke

Fonnie Burke, age 87 of Norcross, GA, passed away March 7, 2006. Arrangements by Crowell Brothers Peachtree Chapel Funeral Home, Norcross, GA, 770-448-5757.

John Mitchell, Sr.

Mr. John K. Mitchell Sr., age 63, of Flowery Branch, died March 8, 2006. Arrangements by Memorial Park South Funeral Home, 4121 Falcon Parkway, Flowery Branch, GA 30542, 770-967-5555.

Frances Roberts

Frances P. Roberts, age 81 of Stone Mountain, died Tuesday, March 7, 2006. Arrangements by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 2246 Wisteria Drive, Snellville, Georgia 30078, 770-979-5010.

Anthony Green

Anthony Dean Green, age 44 of Oxford, died Tuesday, March 7, 2006. Arrangements by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 670 Tom Brewer Road, Loganville, Georgia 30052, 770-466-1544.

Jo Ann Gunter Marchman

Ms. Jo Ann Gunter Marchman, age 75. Ms. Marchman passed away Tuesday, March 7, 2006 at a private nursing home following an extended illness. Funeral services are scheduled for 2:00 ...

Prep roundup: Meadowcreek girls win first home soccer match since2003

NORCROSS - Meadowcreek won its first game at home since 2003 with a 4-0 shutout over Stone Mountain on Tuesday night.

Me and my shadow

Battle for company's future may be settled

DULUTH - Novoste Corp. may not be dead after all.

Still rolling

Gladiators' Awe gets ECHL player of week award

DULUTH - His first professional hat trick and six points in four games earned Gwinnett Gladiators defenseman Jon Awe the ECHL's player of the week honor.

Democrats weigh in on immigration

ATLANTA - Senate Democrats unveiled legislation Tuesday that they said would be tougher on illegal immigration than a Republican-backed bill due to hit the Senate floor today.

The Democratic measure would require businesses with 20 or more employees to verify whether the workers they hire are U.S. citizens or in the country legally. Companies also would have to keep copies of employee identification documents on file for three years.

Violators would be subject to fines of $12,800 for the first offense and $25,600 for each subsequent offense.

The Republican bill, which cleared the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee last week, would use the tax code to keep businesses in line.

It would prohibit companies that pay an illegal worker more than $600 a year from writing off that amount on their state income taxes.

The Democratic bill also would not require people seeking public benefits such as food stamps or nonemergency health care to prove their citizenship status, which is a major portion of the Republican legislation.

"The magnet that gets people to Georgia is not social services,'' said Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown, D-Macon. "They're enticed here for work. If you really want to deal with the issue, you have to do it at the point of the spear.''

Sen. Kasim Reed, D-Atlanta, the legislation's chief sponsor, said Democrats will attempt to insert its provisions into the Republican bill during today's floor debate.

With time growing short in this year's legislative session, that's the only way the Democrats' proposals have a chance to make it into law.

Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson said majority Republicans will not resort to any procedural maneuvers to block the Democrats.

But Johnson, R-Savannah, said he will oppose the Democrats' legislation as too onerous on businesses.

"You're asking them to be law enforcement agents to determine if (a worker's identification paperwork) is a forged document,'' he said. "If they make a mistake, they're subject to hefty fines.''

Reed's bill would create a division within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to enforce the new employer requirements.

He said the GBI could do a more effective job than the state Department of Revenue, the enforcing agency under the Republican bill.

"They're relying on revenue agents, who are responsible for handling millions of tax returns in Georgia,'' he said.

The Democrats' legislation also calls for the creation of a toll-free telephone line to receive tips from people who believe a business is not complying with the law.

Brown said the line would give illegal workers an avenue to report abuses by employers without fear of retribution.

Ga. 316 rezonings pushed back

LAWRENCEVILLE - As expected, Gwinnett County planning commissioners tabled a group of rezonings Tuesday that would allow 313 homes and commercial development on the outskirts of Dacula.

Beckett parents winners in House budget

ATLANTA - Georgia families cut off from a Medicaid program for their children with severe disabilities would get their coverage restored under a budget bill the House is expected to pass today.

Lawmakers are expected to set aside $7.6 million for families who have been dropped from the Katie Beckett program because of stricter eligibility requirements being enforced by the state.

"We're going to take care of these families who were depending on Katie Beckett and lost it,'' Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said shortly before the panel approved Gov. Sonny Perdue's $18.7 billion 2007 budget request and sent it to the full House.

The committee also tacked on 3 percent pay raises for about 10,000 state public safety employees, on top of the 2 percent to 4 percent increases Perdue recommended for teachers and state workers.

That means employees of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the departments of Corrections, Juvenile Justice, Pardons and Paroles and Public Safety would receive raises of least 5 percent.

And House budget writers made a host of changes to the governor's proposals in health care spending, including funds to provide community-based services to an additional 2,000 of Georgia's elderly, mentally retarded and developmentally disabled.

The Katie Beckett coverage would go to more than 1,600 Georgia kids with diseases including Down syndrome and autism whose families have lost coverage since last fall.

That's when the state Department of Community Health began tightening eligibility on orders from the federal government.

Several weeks ago, Senate Democrats spearheaded an amendment to the 2006 midyear budget earmarking $3.6 million to help those families get through the rest of this fiscal year, which ends on June 30.

House Republican leaders put in another $4 million during subsequent negotiations with their Senate counterparts.

"It's not going to cover everybody who wants to get in the program,'' Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, said Tuesday. "The ones we're trying to take care of are the ones who did qualify and then the criteria changed.''

But the money would come with strings that have advocates for the Katie Beckett program concerned.

The budget the House will take up today refers to the $7.6 million as "one-time'' funding. It calls for the creation of an independent foundation to handle the program in the future.

Johnson said lawmakers hope the foundation will be able to "leverage'' private contributions to augment what the state provides.

"The state can't afford to take on the whole Katie Beckett program,'' he said.

Harbin said the "supplemental'' raises for public safety employees would let Georgia catch up with what surrounding states pay their troopers and prison guards.

"We should have been embarrassed,'' he said. "We were way under everyone around us in payroll for these people.''

The additional funds the budget committee earmarked for community-based services would allow the state to serve another 500 elderly Georgians and 1,500 mentally retarded and developmentally disabled - half children and half adults.

The state has been plagued for years with long waiting lists for those services.

Gwinnett County also fared well in the House budget. Lawmakers kept a couple of spending items recommended by the governor and made an addition steered in part toward Gwinnett.

The spending plan includes $2 million in bonds to build the Hamilton Mill branch library and $1 million in startup costs for Georgia Gwinnett College, both part of Perdue's budget request.

The House even goes one-up on the governor with the library money, suggesting that it be put in the midyear budget instead of being held until fiscal 2007.

House budget writers also added $500,000 for health departments in 10 fast-growing counties - including Gwinnett - that have outstripped the state's decades-old formula for public health grants.

Closing arguments in Campbell corruption trial set for Wednesday

ATLANTA (AP) - Closing arguments will come Wednesday in the federal corruption trial of former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell.

County buys Meadowcreek land for park

LAWRENCEVILLE - Fulfilling the No. 1 priority in Gwinnett's parks master plan, county officials agreed to purchase 11 acres of land in the Meadowcreek area for a park.

Letters to the Editor

No one voted to spend tax dollars on theater

Douglas Sams' article on the proposed Norcross cultural arts center ("Norcross center plans on hold," Page 1A, March 4) does an excellent job of presenting both sides of an issue that mayor and council must work through.

Few television characters were more human than Barney Fife

"I feel like we just lost a member of the family." Those were my wife Cheryl's words. She was reading the obituary of actor Don Knotts, who died Feb. 24 at age 81.

Chipper leads U.S. to victory

PHOENIX - One after another, the American pitchers were untouchable. A pair of big blows provided all the help they needed.

City to get public input on annexation proposal

LAWRENCEVILLE - Amid concern over a proposal to annex the Gwinnett Progress Center and other land into the city limits of Lawrenceville, the city has scheduled a public hearing to air out the issue.

Building to be named after Button Gwinnett

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Lawrenceville landmark will be christened after the county's namesake today.

Thanks, but we've had enough

To the Georgia General Assembly: Please stop and go home. We'll drop your checks in the mail. Don't do anything else. Wait till next year. Maybe you'll have better ideas and smarter help by then.

County to prosecute first feticide case

LAWRENCEVILLE - If Lydia had survived, she would have been born in September.

Panel takes cloning ban out of bill

ATLANTA - The Senate is poised to pass a compromise bill aimed at encouraging stem cell research in Georgia.

Wildcats win on great goal by Gonzales

SUWANEE - The Duluth boys soccer team got off on the right foot to their region season Tuesday, thanks in part to the right foot of Jose Gonzales.

Man to turn himself in on charge of stalking missing woman

LAWRENCEVILLE - The ex-boyfriend of a missing Norcross woman who is accused of stalking her on the night she vanished has reportedly agreed to turn himself in to police.

'Idol' hopeful enjoying ride, misses home

LAWRENCEVILLE - Don't let the glitz and glamour of Kinnik Sky's "American Idol" performances fool you - the Duluth resident still has Georgia on her mind.

Jury to begin deliberations in Hogsed murder trial

WINDER - A woman accused of murdering her husband wrote in her journal that she would "seek revenge at any cost" for years of verbal and physical abuse, but her attorney said Tuesday that the shooting was an accident, or an act of self-defense.

North Gwinnett girls win fourth straight

SUWANEE - The North Gwinnett girls soccer team scored early and scored often in Tuesday's game. By the time Peachtree Ridge was able to get on the scoreboard it was too late as the eighth-ranked Bulldogs won 6-2 to open Region 7-AAAAA play.

DOT open house brings 350 people

SUGAR HILL - Gwinnett residents carefully considered aerial photographs and maps of the proposed road widening project at the Georgia Department of Transportation public information open house Tuesday.

The DOT's four-year plan is to widen the stretch of road from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to James Burgess Road in Forsyth County. It also includes widening the bridge over the Chattahoochee River where rush hour traffic backs up.

OBITUARIES

AUBURN

HOWINGTON,

ROBERT

Mr. Robert E. Howington, age 86, of Auburn, Georgia died March 7, 2006. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Carter Funeral Home of Winder, 770-867-6706.*

DECATUR

LAMAR, ALRICO

Mr. Alrico J. Lamar, age 29, of Decatur, GA, passed away March 5, 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.*

POST, MARY

Mary Post, age 80, of Decatur, GA, died Tuesday, March 7, 2006. Arrangements are pending with the Bill Head Funeral Homes and Crematory, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel, 770-564-2726.*

DULUTH

HUFF, C. D.

Dacula claims area weightlifting crown

Dacula's team took first place last weekend at the Area II Weightlifting Championships, hosted at Salem High School.

Sleeping residents escape house fire

BUFORD - Four adults were displaced on Tuesday after an early morning fire broke out at a one-story home in Buford.

Board to discuss nontraditional education

SUWANEE - The Gwinnett Board of Education will be updated on the school system's nontraditional education programs at its monthly meeting Thursday night.

In brief

local

Norcross boys ranked 23rd by USA Today

Fresh off their dominant performance in the state championship game on Friday night, the Norcross Blue Devils have cracked the USA Today Top 25 in boys basketball for the first time all year.