Gwinnett police said Loganville residents Kennedy Collins and Jocelyn Spencer, both 17, were arrested along with two 16-year-old juvenile females from Snellville in connection to the February murder of Faith Burns.
These are the top stories from the past week.
Gwinnett police announce additional arrests in murder of woman killed in Dacula
Four people were recently arrested in connection to a murder that occurred at a home in Dacula in February.
Gwinnett County Police announced Friday night that Loganville residents Kennedy Collins and Jocelyn Spencer, both 17, were arrested along with two 16-year-old juvenile females from Snellville in connection with the murder of Loganville resident Faith Burns, 20.
- By Curt Yeomans firstname.lastname@example.org
Burns was shot on Feb. 14 in the street in front of a residence on Uniwattee Trail in Dacula and later died from her injuries at a local hospital. At the time, police said they believed the shooting was related to a domestic dispute.
Another individual, Snellville resident Damia Mitchell, 17, turned herself in to police Feb. 16 in relation to the shooting. Collins was arrested March 17 and Spencer was arrested Friday, according to Gwinnett County jail records.
The suspects are charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. Mitchell is also charged with unlawful for a person to employ or associated with a criminal street gang to conduct or participate in criminal activity; possession of a pistol or revolver by a person under 18 years of age — 1st offense; and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of, or attempt to commit, certain felonies.
Anyone who has information about the murder 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.
A cash reward is offered by Crime Stoppers for information that leads to an arrest and indictment. Tipsters are asked to reference case No. 21-011934.
Gov. Brian Kemp signs bill barring Gwinnett tax commissioner from charging cities fees to supplement salary
A proposal from the Gwinnett County Tax Commissioners’ office that would have established a new fee for cities which funded a supplement to Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter’s salary has hit a dead end.
That dead end came in the form of a pen wielded by Gov. Brian Kemp.
The governor signed Senate Bill 201, which included an amendment added by state Rep. Chuck Efstration and state Sen. Nicki Merritt late in the 2021 legislative session to block tax commissioners for counties with more than 14 cities from using fees charged to cities that use her office for property tax billing to supplement their salaries.
The new law also turns the authority for negotiating property tax billing contracts with cities over to the county’s Board of Commissioners.
Due to the language of the amendment, it only applies to Gwinnett and Fulton counties.
“This prohibition should apply statewide, but we had to act fast in the final days of session to protect Gwinnett, particularly when it was uncertain how extensively this occurs in other parts of Georgia,” Efstration said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Gwinnett County Commissioner Kirkland Carden raised concerns about a contract Porter’s office had proposed to cities that use her office to do their tax billing. The cities had an agreement with Porter’s predecessor, Richard Steele, but that agreement expired when Steele left office at the end of 2020.
- By Curt Yeomans email@example.com
Only Berkeley Lake, Dacula, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Peachtree Corners, Snellville and Sugar Hill used the tax commissioner’s office to do their tax billing. The other cities in Gwinnett handled billing on their own.
The proposed new contract would have had the Tax Commissioner’s Office charging the cities $1.80 per tax parcel, which would go to the county, as well as $2 per parcel, which would go to Porter. Critics had claimed that $2 per parcel fee would have created a supplement of of about $110,000 for Porter’s salary.
- By Curt Yeomans firstname.lastname@example.org
The tax commissioner is paid $141,098 a year, according to salary figures county officials released for all of Gwinnett’s constitutional officers at the beginning of March.
While the proposed contract originally would have affected eight cities, one of those cities — Lilburn — decided this spring to bring property tax billing in-house, with city staff doing the work, however. Lilburn will begin its in-house property tax billing this fall.
Lawrenceville's college corridor roadway is now open
Drivers heading north from the Lawrenceville Square on North Clayton Street may have noticed something different this past week: a new roadway.
Lawrenceville recently opened the roadway for its long planned college corridor, which is officially called the Collins Hill Extension — at least on the Hurricane Shoals Road end of the corridor. City Manager Chuck Warbington said Lawrenceville didn’t expect the road to open until June, but the contractor finished a few weeks early and went ahead and opened the road to traffic.
“We thought it would be in a couple of weeks,” Warbington said. “We have a ‘opening’ event in mid-June. It’s a great project.”
Whereas the road has traditionally split just north of the Lawrenceville Depot, with North Clayton Street veering off to one side and Northdale Road veering off to the other side, it now continues straight to Hurricane Shoals Road. Access to the North Clayton and Northdale forks is now blocked off by the depot and are not expected to reopen.
As a result, there will effectively be two North Clayton Streets, at least for now. There is the North Clayton Street that goes through the square as well as the now-severed fork north of the depot.
There are two roundabouts in the road to access side streets that will provide drivers with access to Northdale and North Clayton fork.
Collins Hill’s intersection with Hurricane Shoals Road was also moved to line up with new corridor.
The new roadway provides a direct route from Georgia Gwinnett College to the Lawrenceville Square — hence why it’s called the college corridor.
Lawrenceville officials plan attract mixed-use development along the college corridor.
Lawrenceville looking to end curb-side recycling; considering alternatives for residents
Recycling will change in Lawrenceville, starting next year, as city leaders look at eliminating curb-side recycling while figuring out an alternative option.
City Manager Chuck Warbington said Gwinnett’s county seat is facing a sharp rise in the cost of recycling. The city had previously been able to take recyclable materials to a company that would accept it without charging a tipping charge — which is a fee to recycle the materials — because it could turn around and sell the materials. That buyers’ pool has dried up and the cost is now being passed on to the city, Warbington said.
“There’s just no market for recyclable materials, so we’ve gone from a tipping charge of zero to $56 a ton,” Warbington said. “That is actually double the tipping charge if we just had it as regular trash, which seems kind of odd.
“So, it’s actually costing us more to dispose of recyclable materials than it is for regular trash, so that lead us over the past year to try to think through, ‘OK, what can we do? How can we streamline this?’ “
The city council will discuss its options on curb-side recycling at a work session which will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Warbington said recycling have traditionally been offered at no cost to residents, and he estimated a majority of Lawrenceville residents have taken advantage of curb-side recycling.
About half of a materials dropped into recycling bins can actually be recycled, however, because of issues such as a jar not being cleaned out before being put in the recycling bin or a pizza box having grease stains, according to the city manager.
Warbington said there are several options the city is looking at to ensure residents have a way to do recycling if they chose to do so.
One discussion is whether to replace curb-side pickup with a city-run recycling center where residents can bring in their recyclable materials. This facility would likely be located somewhere near the Lawrenceville Public Works Building. Lawrenceville officials have been talking to other cities in the area that have recycling centers to get information about how to operate one.
Another option is to have a subscription service where residents can call and pay a company to pick it up from their home.
“We’re not going to just totally eliminate and not have any type of option out there,” Warbington said. “If I had my preference, or recommendation from staff, it will be a transitioning into a recycling center where folks that want to recycle can recycle and then they can take it to a recycling center somewhere centrally located in the city.”
The city council’s work session will take place at City Hall, which is located at 70 S. Clayton St. It is possible a recommendation could come up for a vote later this month, or in early June, so city staff can work it into the city’s budget.
Either way, curb-side recycling will continue for the remainder of this year.
“It’s not going to happen immediately,” Warbington said. “It’s going to be a transition so obviously, through the end of this year, we will continue with our curb-side pick up. This is a discussion for 2022 and further out.”
Local Asian-American leaders calling for AAPI history to be included in K-12 curriculum
Local elected leaders had a simple request Friday night: include discussions on the contributions of Asian-Americans in U.S. history courses in Georgia schools.
The officials spoke during a program called “Why We Need To Include Asian-American History in K-12 Curriculum,” which was hosted by The Atlanta Korean American Committee Against Asian Hate Crime and held at the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta’s center in Norcross. Speakers included state Sen. Michelle Au, state Reps. Sam Park and Pedro Marin, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Gwinnett County Board of Education members Karen Watkins and Tarece Johnson.
“For really far too long, we realize that the history of Asian-Americans in the United States has been overlooked, it’s been ignored and it’s been minimized,” Au said. “Our faces are not seen and our stories are not heard. Our experiences are generally boiled down to stereotypes and the diversity within our communities tends to be homogenized.
“And, despite having a long history in the United States, Asian-Americans are constantly considered as being foreign, as others and told that we are less American than our friends and neighbors from other communities.”
The discussion was the latest to be had on how the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community — also known as the AAPI community — fits into the broader community in America. Those conversations had been taking place for awhile, particularly in Gwinnett since two of its cities, Duluth and Suwanee have some of Georgia’s largest Korean-American communities, while the county as a whole is also home to large Chinese, Vietnamese and Asian-Indian communities.
Those discussions gained new weight earlier this year after shootings at Asian-owned spas in Atlanta and Cherokee County, which spurred broader discussions about discrimination and acts of violence against Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Asian-American history is American history and it’s time that the students in Georgia started to learn a little bit more about that history,” Au said. “Asian-Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in this country and it is well-past time that our students learn that we’ve been here really all along, since this country’s inception.”
Au said the history of Asian-Americans that is taught in schools should include the darker periods that are harder to talk about as well as the contributions made by members of the AAPI community to American society.
Panelists at the event discussed statistics that showed 42% of Americans who were asked to name a famous Asian-American could not do so, and of those who could, the most common responses were Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. Students also discussed seeing classmates display a lack of knowledge about Asian culture, or even geography.
Watkins, who is both African-American and Asian-American and serves as the school board’s vice-chairwoman, said about 10% of students in Gwinnett County Public Schools are of Asian descent.
“Having a culturally diverse curriculum is as important to me as a mother as it is to you,” Watkins told attendees at the discussion event. “We have an opportunity here. We’ve started the discussion, we are hearing your voice.
“The opportunity is for you to help our school board to help our system through policy, to give you the culturally diverse curriculum you seek.”
Watkins encouraged attendees to reach out to members of the school board about what they would like to see in the curriculum.
Meanwhile, Park said legislation is being worked on to require Georgia schools incorporate Asian-American history into their curriculum. Park and Au are among a small handful of Asian-American legislators in the General Assembly.
Park, who is the head of the Gwinnett legislative delegation, said the bill that is pending in the legislature is similar to one in Illinois.
“Of course, the bill that we would be working on introducing would be specific to the state of Georgia and the southeast,” Park said.
As he discussed the bill, he said the Korean-American community — which he is a member of — has “done so much to ensure the economic vibrancy and cultural diversity enrichment of our community.” He said the bill would require the K-12 curriculum include discussions on the contributions of individual Asian-Americans in government and the arts as well as the contributions of all Asian-American communities.
The bill would also require “that the studying of this material would constitute an affirmation by students of their commitment to respect the dignity of all races and peoples, and forever eschew every form of discrimination in their lives and their careers.”
Andretti Indoor Karting and Games now open in Buford, grand opening celebrations set for Saturday
Race car driving is serious, competitive business in the Andretti family and, as it turns out, so is go karting.
Just ask Jarrett and Adam Andretti. Both have followed in the family business of being professional race car drivers — Adam is the son of Aldo Andretti and nephew of Mario Andretti while Jarett is the son of NASCAR driver John Andretti and also a nephew of Mario Andretti — and they said the entire family loves to race in go karts as well.
“We love each other, but it’s also a little bit competitive,” said Jarett Andretti, who is an LMP3 Le Mans Prototype driver. “I think not only go karting, but even playing bowling or laser tag or anything else with the Andretti family is a little more intense.”
Andretti Indoor Karting and Games opened the doors of its new location at The Exchange at Gwinnett mixed-use development near the Mall of Georgia in Buford to customers on Thursday. A grand opening celebration — which will include giveaways for the first 100 guests — was held Saturday for the new entertainment venue, which employs about 400 people.
- By Curt Yeomans email@example.com
Race car legend Mario Andretti is expected to visit the new location at a later date this summer for an official ribbon cutting.
The main attraction is the multi-level karting courses, with each kart featuring speakers behind the driver’s head to blast the sounds of high-powered combustion race engines accelerating, decelerating and taking sharp curves into the driver’s ears as they race around the tracks.
“There’s also a turbo boost button, if you will, not necessarily that these have turbo, but it gives you an extra 2,500 rpm out of the electric motor for three seconds a lap,” Adam Andretti said. “So, when you’re with your friends and family — I know, with our family, we’re going to use it as a strategic tool to I’m sure not only pass but to block each other and to keep each other behind — I think it just adds to the fun and the experience.”
There are also more than 100 games available at the new location, ranging from Skee-Ball, basketball toss, ball toss, claw games and to electronic Monopoly, air hockey, electronic shooting gallery, motorcycle and virtual reality games. There is also a duck pin bowling alley at the venue.
It is one of the major entertainment venues at The Exchange at Gwinnett, which also features a Topgolf next to Andretti Indoor Karting and Games. A hotel is also scheduled to be built next to Andretti, and the development will eventually feature luxury apartments, a Sprouts grocery store that is set to open in August, a food hall and several restaurants.
Adam Andretti praised the operations management team at Andretti Indoor Karting and Games for layout of the new location, calling it “amazing.”
“This is such a wonderful achievement that even Marietta, our other facility in the area, is getting $4 million worth of improvements just to keep up with this facility,” he said. “It’s going to get an all-new track, new karts, new video games, new aesthetics with obviously carpeting and furniture and other things.
“So we’re obviously excited about everything they’re doing in the area and this region, but this facility (in Buford) is absolutely breathtaking and in every corner there’s something for the entire family to do.”
Jarett Andretti added that it is important for visitors to understand that, despite the family’s ties to racing, there is more to the venue than go karting. He said the Andretti family is proud of how the Buford facility turned out.
“There’s not just karting here,” he said. “You have the games, you have the laser tag, you have the 7D ride, you have all of the other things — duck pin bowling, virtual reality games.
“It truly is a family entertainment center. I think that’s really what makes this different. You can come here and mom and dad can have fun and kids can fun. You have a mini Mario track, which allows kids that are younger and can’t ride the go karts to participate as well.”
Guests at the new venue can also help support the fight against cancer while they are there. Andretti Indoor Karting and Games has the CheckIt4Andretti Foundation, which was set up in memory of John Andretti — who died from colon cancer last year — to help people suffering form the disease get the help they need. Customers can round their transactions up to the nearest dollar, with the change going to the foundation.
Andretti Indoor Karting and Games is located at 2925 Buford Drive, Suite 300 in Buford, and it is open from 10 a.m. until midnight on Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Former Gwinnett Chamber CEO Jim Maran has died
A local businessman who spent nine years leading the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, and more recently served on the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation Board, has passed away.
Duluth resident James “Jim” Maran died last Friday, according to his obituary. He was 74 and the cause of death was not listed.
Maran led the Gwinnett Chamber as its CEO for nearly a decade until he retired at the end of 2012, and the business organization named its annual international award, which recognizes foreign-based businesses that have a presence in Gwinnett, for him.
“During his time at the Chamber, the organization experienced one of the largest increases in membership and revenue,” his obituary states. “Under his leadership the Chamber was recognized as one of the top Chambers in the United States.”
Prior to leading the chamber, Maran worked for Motorola Inc., where he rose through the company ranks to serve in an executive role. He is survived by his wife, Jane, and son, Mark.
He was also involved with the Gwinnett Medical Center foundation for several years.
“Jim had been a Foundation Board Member and Keystone Society Member for over 11 years,” foundations officials said in a statement on social media. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Jane and son Mark during this difficult time.”
Mourners are asked to make donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in lieu of flowers.
The obituary does not list funeral service information, but Tom Wages Funeral Home in Lawrenceville is handling the arrangements.
Sprouts hiring 100 employees for new store opening near Mall of Georgia in August
The new Sprouts Grocery Store at The Exchange at Gwinnett mixed use development near the Mall of Georgia will open its doors to customers in August, but first it needs to hire 100 employees.
The grocery chain announced it is now hiring full-time and part-time workers for the store, which will open Aug. 4 at 2925 Buford Drive. A virtual hiring event for management positions is scheduled for June 9 and a virtual hiring event for team member positions is scheduled for June 23-24.
Available positions include: department managers and assistant department managers and clerks for the produce, vitamins and body care, meat and seafood, deli, grocery and bakery departments; cashiers; courtesy clerks; backup receiver, administrative coordinator and scan coordinator.
Information about employment opportunities can be found at sprouts.com/careers.
Daily Post's Generations Expo returns to Gwinnett County Fairgrounds under 'new normal'
The Gwinnett County Fairgrounds was buzzing once again on Saturday as attendees of the seventh annual Generations Expo: 50+ Boomers and Seniors live event went booth by booth collecting topical information.
All around people smiled at each other as they exclaimed, “It’s nice to see you again!”
The free event was hosted by the Daily Post and presented by Northeast Georgia Health System and Clover Health. It included nearly 50 vendors, free health screenings, and presentations about key topics of interest to those age 50 and over.
The event was canceled last year due to COVID-19, but one of the busiest booths this year was for Expedia Cruises as people showed excitement for the improving conditions of the pandemic.
“People are so excited to be out and about and they’re so ready to travel again,” said Expedia Cruises Travel Consultant Bonnie Johnson. “You know, people haven’t been able to travel over the last year and a half or at least a year now so they’re very anxious to hear about what’s available for travel and when it’s going to start up again. Everybody’s tired of COVID. They’re really anxious to be able to plan trips and have the world open up again.”
Currently, she said, cruises are supposed to start in late summer to early fall, and Expedia Cruises has already started booking trips for the end of the year and early 2022. Additionally, many people have booked land travel trips for summer vacations in a few months.
“It’s really becoming our new normal,” Johnson said. “We’re getting back to normal again.”
She guessed that many of the people who stopped by her booth were in their 60s to late 70s. Genevieve Rupley of Suwanee said she herself was curious about the future of travel. However, that was not the only reason she was there on Saturday.
“I was actually wanting to get information for my significant other who’s turning 65 this year and see if there was anything I could get for him to help him some because it’s a difficult process in my opinion,” she said.
While at the event, she sat in on presentations from speakers Blake Morris with The Lloyd Group and Steve Aleksandrowicz with Medicare and Other Red Tape.
Morris addressed top retirement concerns and how to plan for them in a post-pandemic world. He said there are five areas that advisors at The LLoyd Group look at to help everyday people deal with retirement planning — volatility, inflation, taxes, healthcare and money out of money.
“A common question I get is was the COVID crash normal?” he said. “No, it was highly unusual, but we have to plan for it. Part of what we have to do for retirement planning is we have to make sure that you plan for the market dropping because it is going to happen.”
He added that one of the biggest lessons from the pandemic is that things will change and so he advised people to have a plan that is adaptable.
“Have a written income plan and quit worrying,” Morris said.
Meanwhile, Aleksandrowicz provided a roadmap to Medicare.
According to Aleksandrowicz, the average life expectancy in 1966 when Medicare was first started was about 72.5. Today, over 61 million Americans are on medicare and the life expectancy has risen to 83. That means, he said, that more than three times as many people are on Medicare now and are living twice as long.
“So Medicare has evolved since 1966 and all the options that go with it,” Aleksandrowicz said.
Lance Martin of Sugar Hill said the presentations were helpful to him in particular because although he’s 53 and things like retirement are still a little down the road, he wants to know about the services that are available to him.
“I decided to come just for overall health reasons,” Martin said. “I ended up getting my blood pressure checked, and I was told that it was slightly elevated. So that was good to know because that was a surprise to me because usually I’m in the normal range, so I need to get on top of that and figure out why it was that way today.
“Everybody seems to be so helpful, and I’m just glad that we can have this today and be here because we’ve had to miss things like this in the past. Hopefully, this is the start of good things to come and means that everything is going to open back up again.”
Johnson, who said this was her first live event of the year, said she was glad to be out and about too.
“It’s nice meeting people again,” she said. “We’ve all felt the crunch of COVID and it’s just a nice experience to be out and meeting the public again. We’ve all missed it.”
- Todd Cline
Photos of every 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian from Gwinnett County's public and private high schools.
- Unvaccinated Americans are at risk of an aggressive and more dangerous Covid-19 variant. These are the most vulnerable states
- Good morning! It's Monday, June 21, 2021.
- A Tennessee father, his infant daughter and eight other children were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on an Alabama highway
- 7 killed, more than 40 injured in 10 mass shootings across the US over the weekend
- US-China rivalry is extending from Earth into space. That poses a challenge to American dominance
- Grocery store Lidl opening new store in Duluth next week
- Gwinnett school board meeting goes on without disruption, but Critical Race Theory dominates public debate
- GCPS appoints principals for three schools
- Gwinnett Solicitor Brian Whiteside questions GCPS police's handling of security at May 20 school board meeting
- Jacob "Jake" Cardiello
- Gwinnett residents, business owners have until July 1 to register security alarms with the county
- Suspects in Albany murder captured by U.S. Marshals, Gwinnett County S.W.A.T.
- HomeFirst Gwinnett preparing to open county's only shelter for homeless, housing insecure residents
- Another insurance showdown looms in metro Atlanta hospitals
- GCPS officials say security will be increased at this week's school board meeting
- MUGS: 10 felony bookings in Gwinnett County Jail
- WANTED IN GWINNETT: Week of June 14
- PHOTOS: Gwinnett Animal Shelter Adoptable Pets of the Week — June 14
- ON THE MARKET: The pool at this Suwanee home is amazing — and the inside is impressive as well
- PHOTOS: Barrow County Animal Control Adoptable Pets of the Week — June 14
- PHOTOS: Charles Hale Soil Collection Ceremony on the Lawrenceville Square
- ON THE MARKET: This Duluth home features open floor plan, beautiful tropical aquarium
- Weekly Gwinnett County restaurant health inspections for June 20, 2021
- IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Top Gwinnett County stories from June 7-13
- PHOTOS: Collins Hill 7v7 National Showcase
Find a local business
This is not a scientific poll — results reflect only the opinions of those voting.