News for Sunday, March 18, 2007

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Lilburn couple celebrates their 70th anniversary

NORCROSS - When Joseph and Dorothy Phillips got married 70 years ago, they kept it a secret from their families.

Birth Announcements

Dec. 2

Logan Anthony Laughlin was born on Dec. 2, 2006, to Carrie Laughlin and Michael Laughlin of Buford. He weighed 7 lbs., 10 ozs. and was 20 inches long.

Literary Calendar

Best Book Bet

•What: Dave Eggers, author of "What is the What," will discuss and sign his work

•When: Today. A reception will be held at 6 p.m., and the discussion begins at 7 p.m.

Gwinnett Gab

Water resources

has new program

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County's Department of Water Resources has recently implemented a program to address water pollution generated by pressure washers operating in Gwinnett County.

Pressure washing creates left over wash water that may contain oil, grease and other chemicals. Disposal of this waste into a storm drain causes water pollution and is a violation of county ordinances.

Former Columbia forward Thompson helps Gladiators smother Inferno

DULUTH - In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, the Arena at Gwinnett Center ice was green. But as each period wore on, the ice was cut up by skates and the resulting snow turned the areas of heaviest use a much lighter shade.

Student-made robots face off in techno-thriller

DULUTH - Most sporting events don't include flying inner tubes, joysticks and scores determined by exponents. But then, most sporting events also have humans on the field.

Peachtree Ridge wins county title

WINDER - It wasn't as close as last year's one-point win, but Peachtree Ridge still had to wait for the last score to come in to feel safe.

The Lions' golf team defended their Gwinnett Open Championship with an eight-point win over Brookwood on a blustery and chilly spring afternoon at the Chimney's Course.

The Broncos had a slight lead as the final groups came in. But it was a 36-point performance from freshman Zack Estep that put the Lions over the top to capture their second straight county title.

"It is a real good win," Peachtree Ridge head coach Bert Green said. "A couple of scores were disappointing, but overall it was a good team score. We had some young guys that came through."

Tech advances with win over DePaul

MINNEAPOLIS - Georgia Tech took a long time to get going, but Jacqua Williams sent the Yellow Jackets to their first NCAA tournament victory at the end of a sluggish half.

Engagement Announcements

Crumbley - Klinect

Mike and Cathy Crumbley of Snellville announce the engagement of their daughter, Heather Lynn Crumbley of Snellville, to Brian Terry Klinect of Grayson, son of Terry and Bonnie Klinect of Grayson.

Prep Roundup: Parkview sweeps Florida tourney

VALDOSTA - The Parkview Panthers swept through the state of Florida on Friday and Satruday.

sports calendar

Baseball

March 24: The Auburn Dixie Youth baseball and softball teams will host their opening day March 24. Activities provided by Braves Around Town. Activities are only for Auburn Dixie Youth players and their siblings only. For more information call 678-887-5702, e-mail auburndixieyouth@yahoo.com or online at www.eteamz.com/auburndixieyouth.

Georgia's win ugly but effective

MINNEAPOLIS - There was nothing pretty about Georgia's victory over pesky Belmont in the first round of the NCAA tournament on

Saturday.

Kids should do as we say, not as we do

As parents, we all know that children learn more from what we do than from what we say. Interestingly, this doesn't always cause us to DO anything different. Instead, we just say it louder.

Barrow briefs

Husband of grocery store employee

charged with shoplifting

•AUBURN - The husband of an Ingles employee was arrested by Auburn police March 7 and charged with shoplifting.

Indigent defense funding revisited

Spending tax dollars to defend poor people accused of committing crimes has never been a favorite cause among Georgia lawmakers.

In fact, the General Assembly was so reluctant to create a statewide network of public defenders several years ago it took two years to accomplish.

Facing lawsuits challenging a mishmash of local indigent defense efforts that were adequate in some counties and woeful in others, the Legislature created the statewide system in 2003 but didn't fund it.

Lawmakers put up the money the following year only after Gov. Sonny Perdue called them into special session to plug a $58 million hole that opened in the state budget when they failed to pass a bill funding the program during the 2004 regular session.

Now, indigent defense is a hot topic again under the Gold Dome, thanks to a shortfall plaguing the agency that oversees the system and the hugely expensive Brian Nichols murder case.

The Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council is asking for $9.6 million to stay afloat through the end of the current fiscal year June 30.

The bill for defending Nichols, accused of gunning down a judge, court reporter, sheriff's deputy and U.S. Customs agent two years ago, has shot past the $1 million mark. Reacting to those soaring legal expenses, the council has reduced the hourly fees it is paying lawyers in other death penalty cases.

The agency's budget crunch prompted two Republican senators last month to introduce a flurry of bills designed to tighten up on the system's costs.

Three of those bills would allow counties more involvement in the council, which would give local officials greater say over how the system spends its money. Another would shift the agency from the judicial branch to the executive, which would give the governor more control over its purse strings.

A fifth measure would create a joint House-Senate study committee to evaluate the indigent defense system.

"I am concerned about the money being spent on this program,'' said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the Senate and plays a key role in the flow of legislation.

"The Nichols case is an example of providing a world-class defense with public dollars. ... If we're not careful, indigent will receive a better defense than private pay ... That was never the intent of the Legislature.''

But the worst thing the Legislature could do is overreact to the Nichols case and abandon the statewide system, said former state Rep. Tom Bordeaux. The Savannah Democrat, a lawyer, was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when the system was created.

"I think it's outrageous that (Nichols) is getting a $1 million defense,'' Bordeaux said. "I don't think the Constitution requires that. I don't think any system can afford that.

"(But) you've got to have a system where poor people are given lawyers. If you don't, you get sued - justifiably - and taxpayers would have to pay for something that is indefensible.''

Bordeaux seldom saw eye to eye with House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, when the two served together in the Legislature.

But Richardson, too, urged caution on any attempt to reverse the Legislature's commitment to a statewide indigent defense network.

Last week, he said the House version of the midyear budget will include the money the council requested.

"I'm not proposing that we just cut and run,'' said Richardson, who also is a lawyer. "(We) need to have an adequate defense for people accused of crime, but not an extravagant defense.''

While Cagle was noncommittal on whether the Senate would go along with the House on the $9.6 million the council is seeking, he and Richardson are on the same page when it comes to the need for a study committee.

"I think we need to do a complete study, gather the facts and make an intelligent decision,'' the lieutenant governor said.

"We're going to fund it this year ... look at it over the summer and try to rein in some of the costs,'' Richardson added. "I think we can put some more predictability in certain areas.''

E-mail Dave Williams at dave.williams@graypub.com.

Sugar Hill backs superdistrict idea

At least one government has signed on to a proposal to expand Gwinnett's Board of Commissioners.

New Congress will certainly investigate, but will it legislate?

Ten weeks into the new Congress, it is clear that revelation, not legislation, is going to be its real product.

The Week That Was

A look back at the Gwinnett Daily Post's top stories of the week.

Traffic violators paying for Auburn police car upgrades

AUBURN - Auburn police cars are getting a new look and new digital cameras, paid for by traffic violators.

The Statham Police Department will purchase five of the old cameras for $1 each.

Miltary News

Joanna E. Lange has been promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. Lange is a duty officer assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina. She is the daughter of William and Debra Lange of Buford and the sister of Janine Lange in Flowery Branch.

Lange is a 2000 graduate of North Gwinnett High School. She is a 2004 graduate of the University of Georgia, where she received a bachelor's degree.

Road closures

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

Tkachuk, Zhitnik eye playoff run with Thrashers

ATLANTA - The acquisitions of Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik couldn't have worked out better so far, but it's not time for any self-congratulations.

Not yet, anyway.

"We have to make the playoffs first," Atlanta Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said, "and that's just step one."

A smaller cake

Celebs rally in Atlanta to keep the music going

The Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium was transformed into a sea of color, glitz and glamour last Sunday, during the second annual Don't Stop the Music Gala.

A fundraising event for the Dallas Austin Foundation, the gala brought together a wide spectrum of people from the arts community, all striving to support music and education.

Gordon's focus stays on present

AP Auto Racing Writer

HAMPTON - Slogans like ''The Drive for Five'' are on the back burner for Jeff Gordon. For now, he and his team are just focused on the next race.

Wedding Announcements

Helms - Zittle

Kasey Leigh Helms and Robert Wayne Zittle were married March 10 in Aruba. The Rev. Patrick Edwards officiated the ceremony.

Homes threatened by brush fire near I-85

LAWRENCEVILLE - A brush fire along Interstate 85 threatened several houses and a business and shutdown portions of the interstate Saturday afternoon.

Hawks fall hard in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS - Troy Murphy scored 22 points and Mike Dunleavy added 21 to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks 113-90 on Saturday night to snap their 11-game losing streak.

Just a few idol thoughts

I didn't have any Hollywood idols as a kid, except maybe Dale Evans. She never cussed at the president, flipped birds or shaved her head. And if there was ever a question about who fathered any of her children, it would only be because four of them were adopted.

PeachCare borrowing was needed

The decision by top state leaders to borrow temporarily from one pot of money to keep children's health insurance plan funded is a responsible action to protect some of Georgia's most vulnerable residents.

The State Children's Health Insurance Plan, which covers about 273,000 children from low- and middle-income families, should not be allowed to run out of money at the end of March at the expense of children who have no other options.

For children who are well and have to see a physician only on rare occasions, the shortfall of federal dollars might not have been felt.

However, there are plenty of children who have ongoing health problems or who might develop an emergency situation at which parents would hesitate taking them to the doctor.

The PeachCare program in Georgia is enormously popular, to the point that the federal funds allocated here were used up, as they have been in similar programs in 13 other states, before the end of the fiscal year.

Georgia's shortfall was so severe that the program ceased taking new applicants this week.

Democratic leadership in Congress has finally decided to include an additional $750 million in the fiscal year 2007 supplemental appropriations bill, which is to be considered in the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia's 2nd District has played a major role in working with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allocate additional funds for the 14 states, including Georgia.

The General Assembly has been on hold for the last two weeks, waiting for congressional leaders to decided whether more dollars would go to these states before fiscal year 2008 funds are released this fall.

The announcement this week in Washington gave state leaders comfort that they believed they could proceed with an alternative funding mechanism for the next several weeks or months.

The State Department of Community Health, which administers PeachCare, needs an estimated $131 million to bridge the span between March and when fiscal year 2008 funds will be available late this fall.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker Glenn Richardson's agreement Tuesday to alter state law in order to borrow state Medicaid funds for use in PeachCare temporarily is a responsible decision.

When the additional federal funds are received, the money is to be repaid back to the state.

We wouldn't want state government to make a practice of borrowing from one place to use in another, but the alternative in this situation was not acceptable.

The tougher decision ahead will be how to operate the program to avoid repeating the shortfall. Have any thoughts about this editorial? Share them with us at letters@gwinnettdailypost.com. Letters should be no more than 200 words and are subject to approval by the publisher. Letters may be edited for style and space requirements. Please sign your name and provide an address and a daytime telephone number. Address letters for publication to: Letters to the Editor, Gwinnett Daily Post, P.O. Box 603, Lawrenceville, GA 30046-0603. The fax number is 770-339-8081.

'It's stuck all these years'

Riverboat gambling offers a fun alternative to Las Vegas

Sure, every gambler's dream vacation is a trip to Las Vegas. But sometimes you just want the gambling without the glitz, glamour - and hassle - of Vegas. Instead, check out one of the many riverboat casinos that have sprung up across the country.

Try 6-inch pan for petite dessert

Like Goldilocks searching for the perfect bowl of porridge, you've been looking for just the right cake - not too big and not too small. Well, look no more. One 6-inch cake is ideal for small gatherings, while several of them can allow your guests to try more than one cake flavor.

Blueprint magazine provides advice on decor and books

I have been trying to resist picking up Blueprint, the new magazine from Martha Stewart. My life is already filled with plenty of reading material, including the many magazines that I subscribe to and buy on the newsstand.

Letters to the Editor

Many worked hard on service project

As a sixth-grade teacher at Notre Dame Academy, I thank you for the fantastic article and specifically on the sixth-grade service learning project ("Academy donates books to foster kids," Page 1A, March 14).

I appreciate that the kids' service and hard work are central to the article. They deserve the thrill of seeing their work recognized. I would also like to recognize some other individuals that helped run this project.

Crackdown on illegal immigration won't happen without more political will

It was fascinating to watch the tango between President Bush and Presidente Felipe Calderon in the Yucatan a few days ago. Bush pledged to try to pass "comprehensive" immigration reform, while Calderon put forth that America needs to "do more" for Mexico.

High-rise on track despite split

DULUTH - A business rift between two companies developing Gwinnett's first residential high-rise will not prevent the towers' construction.

OBITUARIES

AUBURN

TANNER, ROSEMARY

Rosemary C. Tanner, age 85 of Auburn died March 16, 2007. Arrangements by Smith Funeral Home Memory Chapel, Winder, GA, 770-867-4553.*

BUFORD

BENSON, BERT

Mr. Bert Benson passed away peacefully at his home in Buford, Georgia on March 17, 2007. A loving husband for 59 years, a guiding father of five, a grandfather of six, and a great-grandfather of one, he is preceded in death by a son, John Charles Benson (1983) and a daughter, Louise Benson Jacobs (2005). He is survived by his wife, Mary Ella Everett Benson, daughter and son-in-law Lois and Harry Puzey of Cumming, sons and daughters-in-law, Gordon and Helen Benson of Cumming, Dave and Theresa Benson of Dunwoody, and son-in-law Bill Jacobs of Cumming; grandchildren, Emilie Jacobs, Amanda Jacobs Turner, David Puzey, Kate Puzey, Chris Benson, and Anna Benson; and a great-grandson, Luke Turner. Visitation will be Tuesday, March 20, 2007 from 6:00pm - 9:00pm at Ingram Funeral Home in Cumming, GA. A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 11:00 am at New Prospect United Methodist Church Cemetery, 2018 Buford Dam Road, Buford, GA and a celebration of his life will follow at 3:00 pm at Kingswood United Methodist Church, 5015 Tilly Mill Road Dunwoody, GA. The family will receive friends in the church fellowship hall immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice Atlanta. Ingram Funeral Home, Cumming, Georgia in charge of arrangements.

LAWRENCEVILLE

COUCH, SAMUEL

Samuel Elkin Couch went home to be with his Lord on March 15, 2007. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Kathleen Garmon Couch. He is also survived by his loving daughter and son-in-law, Rena and Craig Hanson, Lawrenceville, Georgia; granddaughter and her husband, Alyson and David Clifford, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; and a precious great-grandson, Logan Clifford, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina; Sisters and brothers-in-law, Venelle and John Stanley, Valdosta, Georgia, W. T. and Edith Kemp, Lawrenceville, Georgia; sister, Mary Ann Simonton, Lawrenceville, Georgia; brother and sister-in-law, Roy and Lynette Couch, Snellville, Georgia; sister-in-law, O'Reese Couch, Lawrenceville, Georgia, and a host of nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by parents, Jimmie Bell Garner Couch and Isham Nesbit Couch; sisters, Evelene Greeson Burton and Margie Williams; brothers, Neal Couch, M. G. Couch, Marlyn Couch, and Edgar Couch. A lifelong resident of Gwinnett County, he was born May 22, 1926. He was a devoted member of Lawrenceville First Baptist Church for 58 years. He worked for General Motors in Doraville for 30 years before retiring in 1978. After his retirement he began working at Sosebee Auto Parts in Lawrenceville where he worked repairing small engines/lawnmowers for 28 years until January 2007. Elkin was a World War II veteran where he served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and proudly served his country in the Philippines. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He loved his church, his family, his friends and his country. Funeral services will be Sunday, March 18 at 3 p.m. at the Lawrenceville First Baptist Church with Dr. Lamar Holley officiating. Interment will be at Gwinnett Memorial Park. Those desiring may make donations to the Lawrenceville First Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 228, Lawrenceville, GA 30046 or to the American Cancer Society. Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, GA, 770-277-4550.

LILBURN

COX, LOUISE

Louise M. Cox, age 93 of Lilburn, GA, died March 16, 2007. She is survived by her daughter, Dean Jennings; sons and daughters-in-law, Marvin and Barby Cox, Terrell and Lillian Cox, all of Lilburn; brothers and sister-in-law, Leon and Wilma Moore of Mableton and Donald Moore of Richmond, VA; 7 grandchildren; 8 great grandchildren; 9 great great grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, W. W. Cox and daughters, Josie Helen Chick and Betty Jean Cox. Mrs. Cox was a member of Snellville Church of Christ and worked for the Wayne Watson Company for several years. Funeral services will be held Monday, March 19, 2007 at 1:30 pm, at Wages Snellville Chapel with Minister Harold Savage officiating. Interment Peachtree Memorial Park. The family will receive friends Sunday from 2 until 4 and 6 until 8 pm at the funeral home. Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, LLC, Snellville Chapel, 770-979-3200, www.wagesfuneralhome.com.

SUGAR HILL

RAUGHTON, JEFF

Mr. Jeff Larry Raughton, age 24, of Sugar Hill passed away Thursday, March 15, 2007. Jeff was one of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. He was a joy to be around and willing to do anything for those he cared about. An affinity for and talent in photography was something he took great pride in. His passion for photography was bettered only by his love of the outdoors. Camping and fishing with friends and family made him truly happy. He is survived by father and mother, Larry and Cathy Raughton of Sugar Hill; grandmother, Bettie Deal of Cumming; aunts and uncles, Susan and Alan Settlemyre of Hickory, NC, Herb and Margaret Law of Birmingham, AL, David and Leslie Deal of Sugar Hill, Rip and Lyn Jones of Augusta; cousins, Nikki Deal, Amy Deal, Jason Jones, Bobbie Jo Parkhurst, Richie Parkhurst, Lesley Graham, Tammy Carpenter, Robert Law, and Suzanne Bruner. Memorial services will be held Monday, March 19, 2007, at 11:00 am at Ingram Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Danny Hughes officiating. Ingram Funeral Home, Cumming, Georgia in charge of arrangements.

Fightin' fire

Commission to vote on Gwinnett Village expansion, study bids

LAWRENCEVILLE - Georgia's largest community improvement district could grow even bigger Tuesday, if commissioners approve the expansion.

Overhaul gets extra emphasis

DULUTH - Members of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District wanted to make sure a proposed interchange improvement at Interstate 85 and Pleasant Hill Road got their full attention.

New management style already saving money

LAWRENCEVILLE - A new decision-making process adopted by the Department of Water Resources has already saved the county $50 million, officials said.

Top picks for rain gear

This time of year, Georgia's weather is like a menopausal woman. One minute it's hot, the next minute it's cold.

There's only one rule for spring weather trends: expect the unexpected. Sunny days turn to torrential downpours in an instant. Cool temperatures seamlessly shift to make way for warm breezes. And occasionally, a week of 70-degree heat is interrupted by a freak snow storm. (Who can forget the paralyzing blizzard of '93?)

Man shot dead, another hurt

LAWRENCEVILLE - Two men were shot, one fatally, at a Lawrenceville house on Saturday afternoon in what investigators believe was a robbery attempt.

With passport policies in place, it's a good time to brush up on the basics

It didn't look like a very long line. Just four families ahead of me, that's all. This wouldn't take more than 15 minutes, I optimistically guesstimated.

An hour later, I had moved up one spot. The woman behind me had bailed half an hour ago, leaving me and my new line neighbor to chat about why we were waiting there in the first place.

The U.S. government has changed federal passport policies, and as of January of this year, simply having a birth certificate will no longer suffice for getting out of - and more importantly, back into - the country. Travelers must now present a valid passport when flying from the United States to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. As early as January of next year, they'll need a passport if they're traveling to those places by land or sea, too.

Smoke forces evacuation at Gwinnett Place Mall

DULUTH - Gwinnett Place Mall was evacuated Saturday night after a fire started in a clothes dryer at a nail salon on the lower level.

Rosemary C. Tanner

Rosemary C. Tanner, age 85 of Auburn died March 16, 2007. Arrangements by Smith Funeral Home Memory Chapel, Winder, GA, 770-867-4553.

Jeff Larry Raughton

Mr. Jeff Larry Raughton, age 24, of Sugar Hill passed away Thursday, March 15, 2007. Jeff was one of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. He was a joy ...

Bert Benson

Mr. Bert Benson passed away peacefully at his home in Buford, Georgia on March 17, 2007. A loving husband for 59 years, a guiding father of five, a grandfather of ...

Louise M. Cox

Louise M. Cox, age 93 of Lilburn, GA, died March 16, 2007. She is survived by her daughter, Dean Jennings; sons and daughters-in-law, Marvin and Barby Cox, Terrell ...

Samuel Couch

Samuel Elkin Couch went home to be with his Lord on March 15, 2007. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Kathleen Garmon Couch. He is also survived ...