Sugar Hill honors volunteer

SUGAR HILL -- Marcus Ray credits growing up with mentors for his success in life.

Monday night, Sugar Hill credited Ray for success of its youth.

At its monthly meeting, the Sugar Hill City Council awarded him a plaque and proclaimed March 12, 2012, Marcus Ray Day.

"When I got the email, it took me totally by surprise," Ray, 29, said of learning he'd be honored for his volunteer work in Sugar Hill, chiefly with kids. "It took me totally off guard."

Ray, who graduated from North Gwinnett High in 2001 and played football there, is a familiar face around his hometown. Not only did he play for the Gwinnett Jets in the semipro team's inaugural football game at the city's Gary Pirkle Park, but he also coached youth football players in the Lanier Athletic Association.

Many know him as an employee of Sugar Hill's Publix supermarket, on whose behalf he often attends community events, sometimes as the store's dinosaur mascot, Plato. He has cooked hamburgers for Sugar Hill Elementary's Fall Festival and Lanier High football games.

"My son is 10 years old," Mayor Gary Pirkle said upon bestowing the award, "and one of his favorite people in the world is Marcus Ray."

Ray said it pleases him to give back to kids.

"Having those mentors was a big part of keeping me out of trouble," he said. "Now its my turn to be a mentor and keep kids going in a positive direction."

Separately, the council:

-- Appointed Ben Roberts and Tim Beck to the six-member Alcohol Review Board.

-- Approved property owner David Horne's request to convert a half-acre residence at 492 Riverside Road, near the corner of Suwanee Dam Road, to a State Farm insurance agency location.

-- Approved a request to enhance the sign and facade of a two-story, multi-tennant building at 4955 Alton Tucker Blvd., the site of North Gwinnett Dental Care and a Latin market and cafe.