A pair of Gwinnett County teachers are among the 10 finalists for 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year
These are the top stories from the past week.
Two Gwinnett County educators among finalists for Georgia Teacher of the Year
A pair of Gwinnett County teachers are among the 10 finalists for 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced Thursday.
Gwinnett County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Rebecca Carlisle is a finalist as is Maggie Pruitt, who is the Buford City Schools Teacher of the Year.
Carlisle teaches AP World History and STEM humanities at North Gwinnett High School. Pruitt is a self-contained special education teacher at Buford High School.
The finalists were chosen from a pool of applicants all previously selected as their school district’s Teacher of the Year. The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners, administrators, community leaders and others.
The finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.
“I am incredibly proud to announce the finalists for 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year,” Woods said. “This is a group of creative, hardworking, talented teachers who pushed through great challenges this year to ensure students were still able to learn, connect, and grow. I am proud to call each of them my colleagues.”
- By Taylor Denman firstname.lastname@example.org
Because the Georgia Teacher of the Year program was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s finalists were selected from the original 2021 cohort (those initially slated to be recognized in May 2020), Woods said. This ensured that cohort would not miss the opportunity to be recognized by the statewide program.
Finalists will meet with a panel of judges for a formal interview and give speeches virtually. The Georgia Teacher of the Year will be announced Aug. 7.
- By Taylor Denman
The 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year will travel around the state and nation, as COVID-19 protocols allow, serving as an ambassador for the teaching profession in Georgia. He or she will also be entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
The 2020 and 2021 Georgia Teacher of the Year is Tracey Nance Pendley of Atlanta Public Schools.
Gwinnett will install cameras at select school zones to catch speeders
Gwinnett County drivers are going to want to slow down when driving past schools from now on, or they may end up getting their pictures taken for a not-so-good reason.
County commissioners approved a request from Gwinnett County police to install speed cameras in some school zones in the county on Tuesday. The request was based on research police did at six school zones, according to Deputy Chief J.D. McClure.
“We found fairly significant violations of speed limits,” McClure told commissioners. “The goal would be to identify and cite violators within our speed zones. The end result is increased safety for motorists and pedestrians in the form of students who may walking to and from school.”
McClure said there are some benefits to using the cameras. One of them is that officers will not have to be stationed in school zones to look for speeders.
“This will allow those officers to return to their normal patrol functions,” he said.
Initially, drivers will only be given warnings as county officials let them get used to the new process for looking for speeders. Notices will be installed before the county begins using the cameras.
The question that has not yet been answered, however, is where the cameras will be installed.
Cpl. Ryan Winderweedle said the school zone speeding research that served as the basis for the police department’s request for the cameras was conducted at Lanier and Discovery high schools as well as Beaver Ridge, Camp Creek, Duncan Creek and Ivey Creek elementary schools.
That does not necessarily mean those schools will be where the cameras will be installed, however.
“These school zones were chosen at random and will not necessarily be one of the school zones a camera is placed at,” Winderweddle said. “More research is needed before a particular school zone is decided upon.”
Gwinnett police looking for information on woman's skull found in Hamilton Mill area
Gwinnett County police are seeking information from the public about the identity of a woman whose skull was found in the Hamilton Mill area last month, as well as what happened to her.
The skull was found near the 2700 block of Hamilton Mill Road on April 11, 2021. Officers had been called to the area on a call for service and they found the skull behind some woods.
“A forensic examination determined it to possibly be a Caucasian or mixed race female between the ages of 20-35 years old,” Police Officer Senior Hideshi Valle said. “The Gwinnett Police Homicide Unit is requesting information and are asking anyone who may be able to identify the female to call the police immediately.”
Police released a forensic artist’s rendering of what the woman may have looked like on Thursday to see if anyone recognizes her.
Anyone who has information about the skull is asked to call detectives at 770-513-5300 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477. They can also visit www.stopcrimeATL.com. There is a cash reward offered by Crime Stoppers for information that leads to an arrest and indictment.
Tipsters are asked to reference case No. 21-0027870.
Andretti Indoor Karting and Games opening Buford location next week
Go karting is coming to the Mall of Georgia area.
Andretti Indoor Karting and Games announced it will open its new location at The Exchange at Gwinnett on Thursday, with a grand opening celebration set for two days later. The new location will be Andretti’s second venue in Georgia.
“We’re always striving to challenge ourselves on how we can take our entertainment experience to that next level,” race car driver Mario Andretti said. “I believe the guests at our new Buford Andretti Indoor Karting & Games location will see that it truly represents the Andretti family’s commitment to constantly exceed expectations and deliver the absolute best in everything we do.”
Andretti Indoor Karting and Games is the latest business to open at The Exchange at Gwinnett, a more than $300 million mixed use development located right at the Buford Drive interchange on Interstate 85. The development has already seen some restaurants and service-oriented businesses open, as well as a massive Rooms-To-Go showroom and another entertainment venue, Topgolf. A Sprouts grocery store is expected to open soon as well, and several other components of the development, including 1,000 residential units, are in varying stages of construction.
“The Andretti Indoor Karting & Games team are making a major investment in our community,” Gwinnett Chamber President and CEO Nick Masino said. “This entertainment destination will not only bring an exciting experience to thrill-seekers and people looking for an upscale place to relax and host events, but it’s also creating 360 jobs locally. We’re thrilled at this win for all of us.”
Andretti plans to have giveaways for the first 100 people to show up for the grand opening celebration on May 15.
It’s main attraction may be its multi-level electric karting track, but it will also feature more than 100 state-of-the-art arcade games, a two-level laser tag arena, professional CXC racing simulators, a Hologate VR experience, 10 duckpin bowling lanes, the interactive Andretti 7D experience and a full-service made-from-scratch restaurant and bar.
It also features more than 10,000-square feet of event and meeting space.
“Our goal has always been to provide an exceptional entertainment experience from the décor of the building to the track and attractions,” Andretti Indoor Karting & Games Managing Partner Edison “Eddie” Hamann said. “By offering the highest minimum hourly pay rate in the industry, we are continuing to deliver on that promise, hiring the best of the best employees for the highest level of service for our guests.”
Gwinnett police looking for suspect in shooting in unincorporated Norcross
Gwinnett County police are asking for the public’s help to identify a suspect in a shooting at a Norcross-area apartment complex.
The incident — which police are calling an aggravated assault —happened at about 9:05 p.m. on May 1 at the Vida Apartments by Arium complex, which is located at 1355 Graves Road in unincorporated Norcross. Officers responding to a call about gunfire found a man who had been shot in his lower back. Police did not specify the victim’s condition after the shooting.
“At this time, investigators are trying to determine the suspects identify,” Gwinnett Police Public Information Officer Hideshi Valle said. “Detectives are asking any witnesses to come forward and provide any information they have on the shooting or the suspects’ identity.”
The only description of the suspected police have released at this time is that witnesses claimed a Hispanic male shot the victim from behind before fleeing the area.
Valle said detectives believe the suspect often visits Norcross and Tucker, and the Graves Road and Pine Drive areas in particular.
Anyone who has information about the suspect’s identity or whereabouts is asked to call detectives at 770-513-5300 or Crime Stoppers, which lets tipsters remain anonymous, at 404-577-8477. They can also visit www.stopcrimeATL.com.
There is a cash reward offered by Crime Stoppers for information that leads to an arrest and indictment. Tipsters are asked to reference case No. 21-033657.
Developer secures $12 million loan for 58-unit townhome development on Duluth Highway
Developers working on a 58-unit luxury townhome development in unincorporated Lawrenceville have secured a $12 million loan to help fund construction on the residential units.
Real estate lender Trez Capital announced this week that it provided the loan to Sweetwater Landing LLC for the Sweetwater Springs Townhomes development, which will be located at 1510 Duluth Highway. Trez Capital’s Ben Jacobson, Brett Forman and Scott Mehlman originated the loan.
“Sweetwater Springs has spacious units with high-end finishes and first-class amenities that bring a level of sophistication to the development and community at large,” said Jacobson. When you combine that with the excellent location, I believe this development is going to be extremely successful and be a catalyst for additional growth.”
The townhome development is expected to have both two and three-bedroom units that feature two and a half bathrooms as well as walk-in closets, full-size stackable laundry units, wood-like plank flooring, a playground and activity area, a covered gazebo, grilling stations, a dog park and complimentary access to a neighborhood pool.
“We remain committed to quality residential projects with strong borrowers,” Forman said. “We are dedicated to delivering creative, entrepreneurial and long-term solutions for developers. This borrower has an impressive record building homes in the Atlanta metro area.”
Officials from Trez Capital, which offers six to 36-month debt and equity financing ranging from $5 million to $100 million for development projects, said the loan for Sweetwater Springs is part of the firm’s efforts to increase its lending activities in the Atlanta area. Caperton Putt, a longtime real estate finance professional, was hired in April, to lead the firm’s Atlanta office, which is focusing on residential lot development, multifamily housing and industrial lending opportunities.
In addition to the Sweetwater Springs development, the firm has also provided a $26.7 million loan for land acquisition and construction of The Exchange at Gwinnett mixed-use development at the Buford Drive interchange on Interstate 85, as well as a $25.5 million first mortgage for the acquisition and renovation of a hotel in downtown Atlanta.
Gwinnett County man charged with murder in death of 2-year-old
A Duluth man was arrested Sunday night and charged in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter at a Quality Inn Hotel near Gwinnett Place Mall.
Malik Kennedy, 24, has been charged with felony murder and first degree cruelty to children. Kennedy had been watching the girl while her mother was at work. The mother came back to the hotel, which is located at 3500 Venture Parkway, and discovered the girl was not breathing and could not be woken up. The mother then called 9-1-1 at 5:42 p.m., and paramedics from the county’s fire department were called to the scene.
“The fire department attempted to revive the child but were unsuccessful,” Gwinnett Police Public Information Officer Hideshi Valle said. “The child had several bruises on the cheeks with finger and fingernail impressions, a swollen eye, swollen forehead and bruises on the body.”
- By Curt Yeomans email@example.com
Gwinnett County jail records show Kennedy was arrested and booked into the jail shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday. An autopsy was performed on Monday, and it was determined that the girl had a closed head injury on the back of her head.
Kennedy is being held at the jail without bond.
Anyone who has information about the case is asked to call detectives at 770-513-5300 or Crime Stoppers, which lets tipsters remain anonymous, at 404-577-8477. They can also visit www.stopcrimeATL.com. Tipsters can receive a cash reward from Crime Stoppers if their information leads to an arrest and indictment. Tipsters are asked to reference case No. 21-033855.
Semi-truck driver arrested after hitting car, pushing it out of his way at Duluth intersection
A semi-truck driver was arrested after he used his truck to push a car in front of him into another vehicle and eventually into a busy Duluth intersection and out of his way last week.
Canon resident Henry Cain, 63, has been charged with following too closely, reckless driving and hit and run-failure to stop and render aid. A police reports states he hit a car driven by Ri Wang on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard north, at Pleasant Hill Road, while the traffic light was still red around mid-morning on April 27. Wang’s car ended up hitting the side of Derek Stay’s car.
“(Wang) told me that before the arrow turned green, the driver of a semi tractor trailer moved forward and hit the rear of his vehicle,” Duluth Police Officer Clifford Cavorsi wrote in the report.
“When the light did turn green, the driver of the truck accelerated forward and pushed his car into another vehicle and then into the intersection. Mr. Wang said the driver never stopped and made a U-turn going the other direction.”
A witness followed Cain’s truck to Suzanna’s Kitchen on Blue Ridge Industrial Boulevard and called 9-1-1 to report his whereabouts to law enforcement. Cavorsi and another officer responded to the restaurant where Cavorsi asked Cain about the accident.
“Mr. Cain stated that he had no idea that his truck hit a car or caused an accident,” Cavorsi wrote in his report. “When I looked at the front of the truck, I saw the steel bumper was pushed in; touching the passenger side tire. I also noticed blue paint and plastic transferred from Mr. Wang’s vehicle from the point of impact.”
Cain was then arrested and taken to the Gwinnett County jail. His supervisor was also contacted about the incident.
Duluth police also secured traffic camera footage which showed the accident taking place.
Community rallying to help Dacula restaurant owner hospitalized with COVID-19
As the owner of a barbecue restaurant in Dacula, Steve Robb is used to being the one doing the serving, but friends say he is now the person who needs to be served.
Robb, who owns Fat Cap BBQ with his wife, LeeAnne, has been hospitalized with COVID-19. He was moved out of ICU this past weekend, but he remains hospitalized and has to continue taking medications and receiving high-flow oxygen, his wife said in an update on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“His right lung has extensive damage and the doctors say it’s going to take a while to recover,” LeeAnne Robb said. “No promises that it will ever be back to ‘normal,’ but that’s ok because he’s still with us.
“We don’t know how much longer he’ll be in the hospital, but we want him to stay until he’s well enough to be home without anymore scary incidences.”
The community has been rallying around the Fat Cap owners, raising money through a GoFundMe campaign to help them cover medical costs as well as lost business revenues.
As of Tuesday, the campaign had raised $13,000 out of its $15,000 goal.
“Let’s show them that #onefamilyoneDacula is not just a hashtag,” said Becky Turner, the fundraiser’s organizer, on the GoFundMe page.
When the campaign started in mid-April, Steve Robb had been recovering from COVID at home, although Turner said he was on oxygen at all times. The restaurant had to close at that time because of his illness.
The situation took a turn for the worse later in the month and he developed pneumonia and one of his lungs collapsed, prompting him to be admitted to ICU, GoFundMe officials said.
A tube was inserted to keep his lung inflated, although his wife said it was removed when he was moved out of ICU.
Fat Cap has been sharing information about the GoFundMe campaign, which can be found at bit.ly/2RmponZ.
“There aren’t enough words to sufficiently thank you all for your prayers and support,” LeeAnne Rob wrote on Facebook. “It means so much to our family. Please keep the prayers coming. They’re working! We can’t wait to see everyone again.”
Piedmont buying 4 HCA hospitals, including Gwinnett's Eastside Medical Center
Piedmont Healthcare is adding four HCA hospitals to its network, including Eastside Medical Center in Snellville, in a deal valued at close to $1 billion.
The purchases from HCA, announced Monday, would make Atlanta-based Piedmont the leading system in Georgia in number of hospitals, at 15. The Emory and Wellstar systems are next, at 11.
The deal had been rumored for several days.
If regulators approve the acquisitions, as expected, the nonprofit Piedmont system will acquire Eastside Medical Center; Coliseum Medical Centers and Coliseum Northside, both in Macon; and Cartersville Medical Center in Cartersville.
The targeted closing date is July 31. HCA, a chain based in Tennessee, valued the acquisition price at $950 million.
“We’re very excited to bring our care model to these communities,’’ Kevin Brown, the Piedmont president and CEO, told GHN in an interview after the announcement.
Piedmont already serves communities that have more than 70 percent of the state’s population. The system’s goal, Brown said, is to provide seamless, high-quality care in the hundreds of medical locations, including urgent care facilities, that Piedmont operates.
HCA is expected to sell its Rome hospital, Redmond Regional Medical Center, to Florida-based AdventHealth, which already has two hospitals nearby in northwest Georgia.
But HCA is moving to strengthen its presence in east and southeast Georgia. On Saturday, it announced that it had finalized its $73 million purchase of Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia.
HCA said in a press release Monday that “the commitment of HCA Healthcare colleagues at these hospitals [being sold] has helped the facilities achieve national recognition for quality patient care, even though these facilities were not able to fully benefit from a broader HCA Healthcare presence in their areas.
“Given Piedmont Healthcare’s history of serving the region’s health care needs, the affiliation will better position the hospitals to continue providing excellent care to their patients,’’ the statement added. “At the same time, the transaction provides strategic value to HCA Healthcare by increasing financial flexibility for investments in ongoing and future initiatives in core markets.’’
Brown of Piedmont noted that of the four HCA hospitals that his system is buying, three scored an “A’’ grade in the recently announced Leapfrog Group ratings.
“We’re not trying to grow for growth’s sake,’’ Brown added. “We probably passed on 15 other opportunities.’’
HCA has done “a phenomenal job’’ on operating the four hospitals, he said.
He said Piedmont will eventually issue bonds to cover purchase costs.
Among Piedmont’s notable purchases have been Athens Regional Medical Center, in 2016, and Columbus Regional, in 2018.
Josh Berlin, CEO of rule of three, a health care consulting firm, said the transaction makes strategic sense for both HCA and Piedmont.
HCA previously “was pretty spread out’’ in Georgia, and didn’t have much presence in metro Atlanta, Berlin said. The deal will allow the system to concentrate on its eastern and southeastern markets in Georgia, he added.
Besides Rome, HCA operates hospitals in Augusta, Savannah, Waycross, Dublin and now Vidalia.
“For Piedmont, it gives them a great opportunity to expand their network in metro Atlanta and outside metro Atlanta,’’ Berlin said.
A bigger health care system brings economies of scale, including on purchasing supplies and technology, Berlin added. Larger companies have the clout to cut better deals with vendors and insurers.
Among the properties Piedmont is purchasing is Eastside Medical Center, a 310-bed, two-campus system in populous Gwinnett County. The north campus has 229 beds supporting acute care services, including a 46-bed emergency department.
The south campus currently offers a 61-bed inpatient psychiatric center, a 20-bed inpatient rehabilitation facility, and an 11-bed emergency department.
Coliseum Health System includes two acute care hospitals: Coliseum Medical Centers with 310 beds, including a 40-bed inpatient behavioral health facility (Coliseum Center for Behavioral Health), and Coliseum Northside with 103 beds. In addition, Coliseum operates an ambulatory surgery center in Macon with three operating rooms.
Cartersville Medical Center is a 119-bed acute care hospital that includes a 43-bed emergency department, with a Level III trauma center.
In addition, Piedmont would become a partner in a joint venture for 12 urgent and family care clinics.
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