Lawrenceville adopts MLK holiday

LAWRENCEVILLE -More than 20 years after Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a national observance, the city of Lawrenceville will begin celebrating the holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.

The Lawrenceville Council voted unanimously Monday to adopt Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a city holiday starting in 2008. The council's action was greeted by applause from spectators at the meeting.

MLK Day became a national holiday when then-President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on Nov. 2, 1983, said Lawrenceville Mayor Rex Millsaps. The state of Georgia adopted the holiday in 1984, and Gwinnett County passed it in 1986, he said.

"It's time for Lawrenceville to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by adopting Martin Luther King Jr. as a holiday for Lawrenceville," said Mayor Rex Millsaps. Closing City Hall and giving Lawrenceville's 260 employees the holiday off will cost the city about $40,000 to $50,000, Millsaps said. This figure includes employee salaries plus overtime pay for police and other essential personnel, he said. MLK Day will be observed Jan. 21.

After Snellville voted in November to recognize MLK Day, Lawrenceville was one of three cities in Gwinnett yet to adopt the holiday. Lilburn and Grayson are expected to consider adopting the holiday at their upcoming meetings in December.

In other action, the Lawrenceville Council approved a 2008 salary budget for city employees that authorizes raises up to 5 percent of the current salary budget for each department and individual salary increases up to 7.5 percent.

The council passed a resolution supporting an application by the Gwinnett County Hospital Authority to the State Department of Community Health for a certificate of need to allow Gwinnett Medical Center to do open heart surgery. The hospital is also soliciting letters endorsing the application.

The first readings of amendments to Lawrenceville's zoning ordinance regulating the number of billiard tables allowed in establishments selling alcohol were approved. The second readings are scheduled to be considered at the council's January meeting.

The council also approved a solid waste management plan for the city with Mayor Millsaps saying that the city needs to encourage residents to increase recycling.