STORIES OF THE YEAR: A look at Gwinnett's top headlines

An artist rendering from federal district court of John Fanning, left, Carl "Skip" Cain, Shirley Lasseter and an unknown attorney.

An artist rendering from federal district court of John Fanning, left, Carl "Skip" Cain, Shirley Lasseter and an unknown attorney.

» Commissioner jailed for bribery

When Gwinnettians had finally begun to put some trust back in government after 2010 scandals, then-Commissioner Shirley Lasseter admitted in May to taking a bribe from an undercover agent posing as a developer during a federal sting.

The operation led to a 33-month prison sentence for the former Duluth mayor, whose son John Lasseter and business associate Skip Cain were also implicated in the scheme.

After she wore a wire, the feds also arrested former Planning Commissioner Mark Gary, who pleaded guilty to giving Lasseter and Fanning poker chips in exchange for her favorable vote in a waste transfer station zoning.


Lasseter pleads guilty to bribery charges, resigns from BOC

Lasseter’s prison stay scheduled


Katie Couric, right, applauds as Aimee Copeland, who survived a rare fleshing-eating disease, arrives for an interview on the new daytime talk show "Katie," Sept. 11, 2012, in New York. Copeland walked to the stage using a new walker.

» Aimee Copeland beats all odds

Aimee Copeland, a Snellville resident and graduate student at the University of West Georgia, contracted a rare infection after she suffered a deep cut falling from a broken zip-line in May.

Copeland returned home in August after more than 50 days in rehab, and the amputation of her left leg, right foot and both hands.

Her life was in danger for weeks as organs shut down and circulation struggled, but she pulled through and left Doctors Hospital in Augusta in July.

Through a fundraising event called “Aimee’s Weekend” in June, the Snellville community contributed $16,500 to the Copeland family.

A 2,000-square-foot, $200,000 addition to her parents’ home, known as “Aimee’s Wing,” was also donated by Pulte Homes.


South Gwinnett grad's survival chances grim

Aimee Copeland to leave hospital

VIDEO: Aimee Copeland greets locals in appearance at Snellville Town Green


Jake (left) and Griffin Prince

» Tragedy strikes on Lake Lanier

On June 18, the Prince family changed forever — and may have spurred change on the state’s largest lake.

Jake Prince, 9, and brother Griffin, 13, were killed when their family’s pontoon was struck by an alleged drunk boater on Lake Lanier. It took authorities nine days of massive searches to locate Griffin Prince’s body.

Since then, changes to the state’s boating under the influence laws have been proposed.


Authorities ID victims, resume search for teen in lake

Mourners remember 2 boys killed in boating crash


Taylynn Bell, 10, and friend, Olivia Gates hold up signs in support of a constitutional amendment slated for the Nov. 6 election.

» Charter amendment passes in November

In November, Georgia’s voters settled a heated dispute over the state’s power to charter independent public schools. It was a decision echoed by a majority of Gwinnett County voters as well.

About 58 percent of the state’s registered voters said “yes” to a referendum, which was commonly called the “charter amendment,” that sought to create an appointed commission at the Capitol. In Gwinnett, about 63 percent voted yes.

The new process will place a charter commission at the Capitol: a board that proponents of the “yes” vote feel will underscore the state’s power to grant applications. It also will replace the state board of education as the alternate authorizer.


Charter amendment passes


An anti-TSPLOST sign is posted along a Georgia road.

» Transportation tax defeated on ballot

A massive public outcry led to the defeat of a measure to impose a regional sales tax to fund road and transit projects in July.

With a multi-million dollar campaign and the backing of Gov. Nathan Deal, the one-percent tax was touted as a way to boost metro Atlanta’s economy and put a dent in gridlock.

But the opposition brought together tea party activists and the Sierra Club, along with other diverse groups, easily defeating the ballot initiative.


T-SPLOST issue gets a resounding 'no'


Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers, right, and Capt. Brian Harr exit Su Jung Health Sauna following a murder-suicide in February.

» Homicide leaves 5 dead and 2012 in a bloody start

Just two months into the year, Gwinnett’s murder total climbed nearly to half of 2011’s total.

By March 1, 12 homicides had already been recorded in the county — including five dead in a murder-suicide at a Norcross spa and three drug-related incidents with multiple deaths.

Only 29 murders were tallied in all of 2011.


Police search for motive after 5 killed at Norcross spa


Gwinnett County Commissioners Charlotte Nash and Mike Beaudreau listen to Brett Smith, the CEO of Propeller Airports, during the Board of Commissioners meeting at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville. Commissioners rejected Propeller's proposal to add commercial flights at the Gwinnett County Airport.

» Commission rejects airport proposal

After years of studies and debates, commissioners rejected a proposal to transform the Gwinnett County Airport into a regional airline hub.

Despite the promise of jobs, the $110 million proposal stirred an outcry from nearby residents worried that the expansion of Briscoe Field from a small general aviation airport to a commercial venture would bring traffic, noise and growth.

Hundreds of people attended the June vote that ended the debate, just days after a federal sting revealed Commissioner Shirley Lasseter had offered her vote up for sale.


BOC says no to commercial flights plan


From left, demonstrators Nathan Foote, Shawn Fugett, and Stacy Gray, all of Buford, attend a rally in favor of local voting for Sunday retail liquor sales outside the State Capitol in Atlanta.

» Sunday sales gets the go-ahead

With a two-thirds majority, Gwinnett residents gave the go-ahead in March for the sale of beer and wine on Sundays.

The once-controversial topic got widespread support four months after residents gave approval in 13 cities, allowing the sales in unincorporated areas. On that date, Buford residents also gave the go-ahead.

The yes votes ensured that sales would be allowed at any grocery store in the county seven days a week.


Sunday sales passes in Gwinnett, Buford by wide margin


Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, right, chats with District 1 City Councilman Phil Sadd during the Peachtree Corners Festival which kicked off the celebration of becoming a new city in Peachtree Corners in June.

» Peachtree Corners officially becomes a city

Peachtree Corners was incorporated as Gwinnett’s 16th city July 1.

After residents voted for a minimal municipality in 2012, the western Gwinnett community’s government took over at mid-year. That day, Peachtree Corners became the county’s biggest city with 26,000 residents north of Norcross and west of Berkeley Lake.

Council members elected in March have been piecing together the government structure, with a transition period expected to last through 2013.


Peachtree Corners now a city, but services start-up will be slow

Residents celebrate birth of Peachtree Corners


Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Nicholas Calabrese runs a laser speed detector along Ga. Hwy. 316. While the county's police departments were unable to run radar amid a service delivery lawsuit, the Sheriff's Department decided to do so on a temporary basis.

» County, cities agree on service delivery strategy

After three years in court, Gwinnett and its 15 cities came to an agreement in February on a required service delivery strategy. The county agreed to divide services into separate tax funds, which are supported only by those who receive the services. The move gives a break to city residents on county development services and, in nine cities, police protection, and it ended months of state sanctions, which left the forces without the use of radar guns to catch speeders.

In late 2012, leaders announced that the new formula will likely mean a tax increase in 2013 for residents of unincorporated Gwinnett and the six cities who do not have their own police force.


Judge signs off on Gwinnett service settlement

Service settlement price tag $31 million for county

A guide to how services and taxes will change based on lawsuit settlement

New budget, service districts could mean higher taxes


kevin 2 years, 8 months ago

Is this the best Gwinnett can do for 2012? Most of the top stories seem to all be about "politicians" or "political issues." We have come to know that most are crooked. That is why you should NEVER re-elect one. We can thank the 50% of the voters that ever go to the polls. We must have other greater things that happened that could take over these top spots here.


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