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Snellville mayor honors students

SNELLVILLE -- Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer honored students at both Pharr Elementary and Starling Elementary schools Monday night, giving the kids kudos for their service to families in need in Snellville and surrounding communities.

Children in the multi-age classrooms at Pharr Elementary took note earlier this year that the number of families needing assistance from organizations like the southeast Gwinnett co-op has doubled. To mark the 100th day of school, the kids brought 500 cans of food to school the next day. They challenged other classes and within 6 days, the children had brought in 8022 cans of food.

Responding to Pharr Elementary's challenge, students at Starling Elementary also collected more than 2000 food items. All of the food donations were delivered to the southeast Gwinnett co-op.

Oberholtzer read a proclamation in honor of the students, parents and teachers on Monday. Dozens of the young humanitarians were present Monday to have their picture taken with the mayor and to walk across the area where council members are seated, getting high-fives and congratulations from their city's leaders.

Volunteer honored

Delrose Johnson was named Snellville's 2009 Senior Center Volunteer of the Year on Monday. Oberholtzer presented Johnson with a plaque and thanked her for her selfless service to the community.

Marilyn Sweeney took the oath of office during Monday night's council meeting. Sweeney will serve on the the city's Board of Appeals.

TADs back on the table

Mayor pro-tem Barbara Bender re-introduced the notion of Snellville designating Tax Allocation Districts Monday night, although about 56 percent of voters said "no" to TADs last November. Bender needed council's approval for Rep. Melvin Everson to take the idea back to the Georgia General Assembly this year.

Local governments need the legislature's approval to present the TAD option to voters, so even though voters gave TADS a thumbs-down in November, Monday's action keeps the option of holding another referendum alive for the next two years.

Council woman Kelly Kautz said Monday that she would not support Bender's request because voters already said no to the idea.

"We need to do some things to educate our citizens," Kautz said. "It's too soon to ask our legislators to do this now."

Councilman Mike Sabbagh agreed with Kautz, saying that he wants to learn more about TADS before bringing the matter to voters again.

Oberholtzer and council members voted 4-2 to approve the resolution, allowing the matter to go before the Georgia General Assembly again this year.

Bender added that simply passing the resolution does not mean that a TAD will ever be identified in Snellville or that the matter will ever be put to a vote again.

"It's just another tool in the toolbox" for the city, Bender said. "We can't wait" on a TAD, said Oberholtzer. "We need every tool possible."