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Norcross highlights city's success stories

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson hands out volunteer of the year awards at the State of the City address at Norcross High School's Paul Duke House on Monday evening.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson hands out volunteer of the year awards at the State of the City address at Norcross High School's Paul Duke House on Monday evening.

NORCROSS -- By celebrating its successes of 2012, and looking ahead to a checklist for 2013, Mayor Bucky Johnson led a lively celebration of Norcross on Monday night.

The State of the City adddress had a football theme, thanks to the Blue Devils' recent state championship, but also trumpeted economic development stories, such as a new FedEx ground facility. The event, at Norcross High School's Paul Duke House, showed several videos about the Atlanta region and Norcross, including one narrated by former NFL star Terry Bradshaw, who showed a clip of Johnson riding a motorcycle and said, "being hip makes this mayor one of the regulars."

Two new, yet well-known faces, Norcross Principal Will Bishop and Police Chief Warren Summers also added their perspective on the city. Both began their jobs about a year ago.

Citing a diverse community of students and teachers, Bishop said, "That community is what makes this place what it is."

In 2013, Johnson said the city is looking for additional park space in east Norcross, and to resurface the Cultural Center parking lot. A new website is on the docket as are park upgrades, he said.

A $40,000 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission is expected to study intersection improvements, and there will be a feasibility study about a multi-use trail from Norcross to Lilburn, Johnson said.

Johnson referenced the service delivery settlement with Gwinnett County that brought a $1.5 million settlement, and a 1.6 mill reduction. But it also included a more efficient 911 service dispatch communication between the county and each city.

FedEx's new facility, which opened last year, followed recent economic development successes such as RockTenn and Hyundai Construction.

One of the most noticeable improvements came following an annexation referendum, the city counted 3,500 citation cases last year by its code enforcement department, and resolved 98 percent of those without going to court, Johnson said. "Most everybody appreciates it," Johnson said.

Summers referred to a news report that Norcross police officers helped reduce crime around the holidays by 40 percent. But there was also an uptick in overall crime last year, Summers said, which was attributed in part to a larger geographic area to cover and about 5,000 more residents.

Five new officers and a crime suppression team look at crime "hot spots" around the city, "to make sure officers are in the areas when they're needed," Summers said.

Johnson also handed out volunteer awards to Art and Nancy Geist, Gordon Tomlinson, Nanette Arceneaux, Terri Hoye, Donna Blanton, Deborah Harris, Chuck Cimarik and Faye McFarland.