Page 1

Merry Christmas!

Gwinnett’s oldest locally owned newspaper - established 1988. Covering Snellville, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Loganville

Vol. 30, No. 2

VIP in court

page 12



A Look Back - 40 Years of Carlin Vision By Tiffany Brix Staff Correspondent

Community banking page 17

When Dr. Richard Carlin opened his door for patients for the first time in 1977, the entire practice was two people: Richard and the receptionist, Linda. Forty years later, the Carlin Vision practice employs about 60 people, including seven doctors, and there is a surgery center as well as an impressive free-standing office building. Even from day one, Richard Carlin wanted something different inside his walls—he had a vision—Carlin’s vision— and used that intentional pun when choosing a name for his practice. Even with such a noble concept, surely Richard Carlin himself would have had trouble predicting 40 years ago that one day he would offer lens replacement surgery or the Lasik procedure. Richard first

See CARLINVISION on page 36

Proud to serve page 27

Special Photo

CarlinVision Doctors, Michael A. DeRosa MD, Melanie Bennett-Sims MD, David Carlin MD, Richard Carlin MD, Blake Thornhill OD, Allison R Tyler MD, and Michael Willman DO.

Life at Three Miles Per Hour

The Alexander Oak

Equestrian therapy page 34

INSIDE Picture Perfect Gwinnett Pulse Roadrunner Health & Wellness


Chad Alexander Smith Photo

4 6 28 32

Engagement photo of Chad Alexander Smith and Rebecca Clay Smith (small silhouettes) when the land was still part of Jane Alexander’s farm, which would later be turned into Alexander Park. Special Photo

A snapshot of Brett Bramble on his 2016 Walk from Lewes, Delaware to San Francisco By Paige Havens Staff Correspondent

Lilburn Man Walks Across America for Addiction Awareness

Brett Bramble grew up in Lilburn in a big family full of lots of love. In middle school he fell into


LIFE on page 38

By Mary Long Staff Correspondent The giant oak that looked out on Scenic Highway from its place in the 91 acres Alexander Park is gone now, and that big oak tree was probably just an acorn when Gwinnett became a Georgia county in 1818. Through the years after the oak became a big tree and a landmark on the

Alexander property it has seen all kinds of weather and over a century of changes in the Alexander family and Gwinnett County. J.T. and Jane Alexander moved to their farm in 1949 before their daughter Shirley was born. J.T. was the county extension agent, and Jane taught in Gwinnett. The

See OAK on page18

Page 2

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

What’s in a name? “Don’t Give Up the Ship!” By Katie Hart Smith Staff Correspondent Which city in Gwinnett was named after a naval war hero? a) Snellville b) Lawrenceville c) Lilburn The correct answer is (b), the city of Lawrenceville. Lawrenceville, the county seat of Gwinnett County, was established and incorporated by the Georgia General Assembly on December 15, 1821, and named after American Captain James Lawrence, who commanded the U.S. Frigate Chesapeake during the War of 1812. On June 1, 1813, the USS Chesapeake sailed out of Boston Harbor to battle the blockading Royal Navy ship, Shannon. After suffering a mortal wound during the attack, Captain Lawrence ordered the Surgeons Mate to tell the crew, “to fire faster and not give up the ship!” Soon after, the crew was overtaken and the British redirected the ship to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Three days later, Captain Lawrence died at sea at the age of thirty-one on June 4,

Publishers/Editor Carolyn Ekenstierna Bagheri Auveed Bagheri-Cawthon

eye like a star, just beaming on it for a moment, and falling in the midst of his brightness.” His dying command, “Don’t give up the ship,” remains a popular naval battle cry to this day. Did you know? Lawrenceville is the oldest city in Gwinnett County.

Photo by Katie Hart Smith

Commodore James Lawrence, a naval hero, commanded the USS Chesapeake during the War of 1812.

1813. Bostonians, expecting an easy victory, were stunned to learn of the outcome of the battle when the ship never returned. Commodore James Lawrence was buried with military honors in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then re-interned at Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City. After Lawrence’s death, author and historian, Washington Irving wrote, “He passed before the public

107 W Crogan St, Lawrenceville, Ga 30046 Office (770) 963-3699

The Gwinnett Citizen is a monthly community newspaper that has been providing community news for the past 29 years. It is Gwinnett’s oldest locally owned newspaper. Our readers know how to love life and have a passionate interest in the well being of our community. Through our stories and photos we bring to life the passion of living, working, playing, living healthy, and worshiping in Gwinnett. We help to connect readers with local businesses and services to promote shopping and buying local. We are a free and direct mailed publication with 3 geographic zones (newspapers) that contain hyper-local news pertinent to each community. Each zone distributes 20,000 copies via direct mail with a few select local businesses for rack distribution to total a distribution of 60,000 in Gwinnett County, Ga.

Have a Story of Community Interest or Announcement?

Community News is our passion (Scouting, Proud Achievements, Special Birthdays...) Please email: or call us (770) 963-3699

Send us your Special Announcements!

Email them to us by the 20th of the month to be included in the upcoming month’s issue. Wedding, Anniversary & Birth Announcements are FREE!

For Advertising Information Please Call or Email (770) 963-3699 |

© Copyright The Snellville Citizen, Inc dba Gwinnett Citizen, 2017. All rights are reserved, including those to reproduce this printing or parts thereof in any form without permission in writing from Gwinnett Citizen. Gwinnett Citizen is a monthly newspaper publication covering all of Gwinnett County. The publication was established November, 1988 as The Snellville Citizen. The views expressed in articles, columns and Letters to the Editor published in Gwinnett Citizen, do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Gwinnett Citizen.

Page 3

Page 4

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Wrapping Up

Meredith Chastain & Meghan Schroder Picture Perfect Football season is wrapping up, and as usual, we are supporting all of the Gwinnett teams. Gwinnett has one team still in the running, North Gwinnett High School. North Gwinnett is headed by Coach Bill Stewart (coming over from the impressive Mill Creek). This is his first year at North Gwinnett and judging by the team’s undefeated season, he is off to a good start. Featured is his impressive and talented senior class in their spirited NG formation. Coach Philip Jones has been the head coach at Brookwood High School since 2015. He is a native of Snellville and attended Brookwood High School. He was the captain of the 1996 state championship team. His dad, Tom, was the Offensive Line coach and interestingly, worked under the only two coaches in the school’s history. His brother, Tommy, is currently the

head coach at Dacula. Coach Jones’ family - Allyson and children Naomi, Hannah, Katherine and Thomas show their Bronco support every week. Brookwood is deeply rooted in tradition, and we are big fans of their program. The youth leagues have officially wrapped up their football season. The competition to win the Gwinnett Football League (GFL) championship is taken almost as seriously as the state competition. Grayson is always a serious competitor and this year had five teams represented in the final. Coach Andy Chafin’s team won in the 12 and under age group. I sensed on picture day that this team’s intensity and strong coaching was going to take them far. Another impressive Gwinnett rooted family is the Nutts. Daughter Brittany just married Michael Butler in a beautiful ceremony at the Payne Corley house in Duluth. Father, Donnie, was the head principal of Dacula High School for years and is now in behavior/discipline for the county. Mom, Darenda, ended her career working at Dacula Middle School. Unsurprisingly the kids followed in their footsteps. Bride and daughter Brittany teach at Woodward Mill and brother, Casey, is currently teaching at Discovery High School. Casey, following family tradition, is


The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017 WRAPPING continued from page 4 engaged to Hailey Powell, a teacher at Berkmar High School. With families like this committed to the education of Gwinnett student’s, our children are in great hands. Basketball season has officially begun. The Brookwood Bronco Varsity players got us off to a great start with their photo day. Brookwood always runs a smooth, organized media day headed by head basketball Coach Daniel Bowles. It helps that his wife is there keeping things on track in her role as the head cheerleading coach, Amy. They make a great team! Over at Mill Creek, Varsity basketball player Kendall Latney showed his

enthusiasm for the upcoming season by creating his own pose for picture day. Kendall is averaging 11 points per game this season in helping to take the team to a winning start. As we head into the holiday break, schools are asking Santa for winning seasons and we at Magic Moment are asking for some adorable Christmas with Santa pictures!

email: or call 770-979-4203

Page 5

Page 6

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Sharing the Joy of Christmas

Photo By Emmett Clower

Brenda Bedingfield (Center) with friends Sue Briscoe (Left) and Starr Hendrick (Right) enjoy an afternoon at Brenda’s home with Christmas cheer.

onto the front porch. Her big 9’ tree stands tall in the foyer entrance. A quick glance around draws you into wonderful little Christmas vignettes all through the house. There are fifteen Christmas trees in all. Some are themed, like the snowmen and elf trees, while others are eclectic. There’s a red bird room and Victorian room and the dining room

Photo By Emmett Clower

Brenda Bedingfield shows off her Old Fashion Utensil Tree in her kitchen

Photo By Emmett Clower

Brenda Bedingfield’s home is ‘Nana’s Place’ and it’s filled with holiday cheer

Photo By Emmett Clower

Brenda’s Elf Tree RT

By Paige Havens Staff Correspondent There’s never any doubt on Ethridge Road in Auburn that the Christmas season has arrived thanks to Brenda Bedingfield. Christmas abounds at her house and is a source of great joy and cheer for many. Brenda explains, “Well, I go a little bit crazy at Christmas. I just love it. I love sharing the joy in my heart for Christmas.” The decorations start outside and flow in. There’s a large family of snowmen in the yard. Wreaths, garland and pillows on the swing welcome you

shines with Christmas dishes and crystal. Brenda hosts many a party during the holiday season, including her ladies fellowship group, her Red Hat Club, and her Sunday School class at New Hope Baptist. In addition to her party guests, Friends and family drop in throughout the holidays to explore and enjoy her home. Recently her granddaughter brought five ladies from her office by to see the wonder of it all. When people visit Brenda notices that they tend to draw to a favorite spot. Brenda’s personal favorite is her Victorian bedroom. The furniture belonged to her parents. The décor is soft and romantic and has a special feel. Her daughter loves the unique old fashion utensil tree in the kitchen. Brenda has always enjoyed decorating for the holidays and it all just seemed to balloon through the years. When she lost her husband in 2006, that Christmas was exceptionally hard, so she really focused

Photo By Emmett Clower

Brenda made wreath’s for each of her six Grandchildren with their photos (clothes) pinned to each wreath.

Photo By Emmett Clower

Brenda’s Favorite The Victorian Bedroom

more effort on her decorating that year and it seemed to grow to a new level. Brenda said, “It helped keep me busy and give me something fun to focus on.” Brenda tells that each year is a fresh new start. Everything in the house doesn’t have a set place and decorations come and go. She loves to mix things up and move them around to make each year feel different. While the Santas, elves and reindeer abound, Brenda makes a conscious effort to place a nativity scene in each room and a bible on the beds. She says she wants to be sure that those who visit her Christmas wonderland never forget what Christmas is really all about. Brenda says, “No matter what you do and how much stuff you have, we need to remember that Christmas is all about Our Savior.” Brenda was born and raised in Gwinnett and is proud graduate of Central Gwinnett. She has a son and a daughter and six grandchildren. She hopes her love of Christmas will be instilled in the hearts of her family and that in some way she can encourage us all to still believe in “Merry Christmas!” Visit for more photos and ideas for Christmas!

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Page 7

An Unlikely Partnership of Science and Faith GGC’s New Strickland Research Lab

Photo By Tiffany Brix

Sandra and Clyde Strickland speak at the dedication.

Photo By Tiffany Brix Photo By Tiffany Brix

By Tiffany Brix Staff Correspondent Most people find it challenging to let science and faith coexist. Science demands tangible proof, and faith only exists without it. Often those with the most sincere faith do not feel called to pursue science. Likewise, those who gravitate toward science seem to be frustrated by impalpable faith. Clyde and Sandra Strickland have partnered with the Biology Department of Georgia Gwinnett College and found a way to nurture both. They forged a seemingly unlikely bond as a catalyst to propel the young minds of the students further. In a gesture of earnest gratitude, GGC, in turn, dedicated the newly renovated space to their patron - The Strickland Research Lab. Among the improvements to the lab, the Biology Department changed the layout of a few rooms to have a dark room needed for fluorescent microscopy. With the Strickland’s generous donation they were able to purchase two Biosafety Cabinets, a flow cytometer, a plate washer, a fluorescent cell counter, and renovate the lab space. Most of us may barely understand what these pieces of equipment do. However, the giddy energy radiating from each member of this department is explanation enough about the value that each addition to the lab brings to the education for the students. The President of GGC, Dr. Stanley Preczewski, even noticed the Christmas-like frenzy buzzing amongst the Biology Department. In most larger colleges and universities, TAs and faculty are the only ones who can even approach equipment like this. One of the beautiful pillars of GGC is the personal, one-on-one attention and interaction the students get with their professors. Here in the Biology Department, students will watch these tests run and participate more than is possible at larger universities. Hands-on learning makes it stick; participation can amplify education. As Dr. Elisabeth Javazon, who specializes in immunobiology, explained, the professors there don’t

Sandra Strickland explains her love for learning.

Photo By Tiffany Brix

New equipment propels research for deeper learning. Pictured above is a Flow Cytometer.

want just to lecture at the students and have them regurgitate facts. She says, “hopefully we will not just teach a class, but train our students to become scientists who then go out and make a difference in the community. Perhaps they will solve the bigger problems that loom out in the real world.” Dr. Chris Brandon, a reproductive physiologist, admits that the research that the department plans “would never get off the ground without the additions made possible by the contributions of the Strickland’s.” Dr. Javazon, Dr. Brandon, and the rest of the GGC Biology Department scrutinize biological creatures in painstakingly specific ways. With the new equipment, their investigation delves into mind-boggling details. They probe profoundly and insatiably into the whys and hows of living creatures, taking their students with them in their quest. However, when Clyde explains his reason for giving, his explanation was steeped in faith and already acquired understanding. “God is so good,” Clyde resolves, “He provides all this stuff, and we just have to use it. Stay in His good grace, and good things keep happening. Give your part, and He will pour you with blessings. This [donation] just me doing my part.” Clyde has a fascinating education journey - he went from a high school dropout to being honored as Teacher of the Year not once, but twice. Both he and his wife continue to learn themselves and also nurture education for others every chance they get. According to

Sandra, “the students are the ones who inspire me. I’m 73, and every day I learn something new.” While the Strickland’s’ faith is unquestionable, they use their conviction, and all the blessings that have followed, to encourage others to question the world around them because that is what education is - questioning and learning and proving and questioning again. Clyde came from nothing. At one point he almost lost everything. Through that he learned that “education is something that nobody can take from you.” Anyone who spends even brief time with Clyde will realize his faith—it pours from him most gen-

Photo By Tiffany Brix

Dr. Stanley “Stas” Preczewski, President, GGC.

Dr Tom Mundie, Dean, School of Science and Technology.

uinely. There is a delight in him that cannot be silenced and cannot be dampened. Clyde came from nothing. In his own words, he was “poorer than dirt.” With hard work, grit, persistence, and faith, he forged a new direction for his path. He now has wealth to spare and is on a mission to make education possible to as many as possible to change their trajectory just as he did. Clyde and

Sandra Strickland have countless philanthropic projects going on in Gwinnett, and they almost all center around education in some way. Clyde believes that knowledge is the best path toward a better life. His faith calls him to share his blessings in the form of cultivating education for others. In his mind, science and faith are not mutually exclusive. For Clyde, they are inseparable.

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 8

Parkview scholarship pageant By Laury Hartman

Special Photo

2017-2018 Parkview Scholarship Pageant that was held on November 11, 2017 at the Parkview Theater. L-R: Miss Sophomore Annaliese Mayo, Miss Junior Lindsay Kate Jensen, Miss Parkview Kamryn Ashby, Mr Parkview Aiden Hall, Miss Freshman AnnaKate Estock; Sponsorship Award Morgan Hill.

This November 11, 2017, marked the 41st pageant at Parkview High School in Lilburn! It has had great success as the only fundraiser for the Parkview Parent, Teacher, Student Association (PTSA) for all of those years! With the funds raised by the contestants, the PTSA can support its entire budget for the school year! The money goes directly back into Parkview High School by awarding Educational Support Grants for teachers, student scholarships, staff luncheons, a college fair, recycling services, school-wide beautification, support services for homeless students, Red Ribbon Week, Prom Promise and so much more! PTSA could not fund these initiatives without the generous support of its members and supporters and the Parkview Scholarship Pageant participants each year. The pageant is an excellent event for the young ladies and gentlemen that participate! They are well prepared for a panel interview with our judges. The interviews held at the home of Mayor and Mrs. Johnny Crist is always an enjoyable experience for the contestants. They are also encouraged to attend workshops that prepare them for the Evening Wear and onstage introduction portions of the pageant. All are valuable life lessons that will follow them into adult life! The week of the pageant is packed with excitement and anticipation as they learn their dances and how to walk on the stage! When Saturday afternoon arrives, it all comes together, and the pageant always proves to be an entertaining, fun and elegant event! The picture above shows the students that were crowned and won scholarship money on that fabulous evening! Congratulations to them all! When our students of the Parkview community win, we all win! We thank you for supporting the long-standing tradition of the Parkview Scholarship Pageant and continuing the legacy of excellence at Parkview High School. Parkview PTSA looks forward to your continued support in the school years to come.

December 2017

What the next generation of women needs to know

Emily Williams

Stepping Stones

Women since the early 1900’s had to fight for equality, but even today women continue to be treated unequally. Whether it’s people making assumptions about their jobs or PE teachers favoring the boys, girls as a group still feel the need to defend themselves because of stereotypes that have never ended. Many women can say they were mistreated because of their gender in their lifetime. In this day of age, many Women still feel the effects of sexism, and that shouldn’t be happening in today’s society. Some people will say that not all men treat Women unequally, but the truth is the majority of women can tell a man treated them unfairly more than once in their life and that shouldn’t be the case. Women prove that they possess strength and power by succeeding in traditionally male roles. That is most likely why Freshmen of Mountain View Jessica Cauble looks up to her older sister so much. “My sister (Christina Sanders) has a son with Autism and her husband at the time was only with her for the money. Once he found out his son had autism, he left her, and she had to raise him by herself. This had an impact on me because I never hear her complain even though this was a very tough time in her life.” Cauble said admirably. But women don’t only work hard to prove their ability to be as good as a man but earn the respect that they rightfully deserve. A resident at Yale and a former member of the Gwinnett community, Dr. Cassandra Dean, says she felt this way many times before. “I think that when people already don’t think you have the role you do, you have to work harder to prove yourself,” Dean said thoughtfully. Even as freshmen Cauble feels the need to prove that she can do anything the boys can and get the respect that she deserves as well. “While taking PE for this semester, I have realized boys, and the teachers treat the girls differently because they think the girls can’t do the same amount work because of stereotypes.” Women also feel like they need to fight for equality because statistics show men typically receive higher pay than their women co-workers. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “In 2015, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent.”

Women must be strong to do what men can do under so much pressure. 90-year-old Storie Mccormick realizes that even though some men can’t. “Yes (women are strong), because we work just as hard as boys,” Mccormick said. Women also feel the need to be strong, so they can protect themselves because of men using their power to hurt women and the many accusations against powerful men prove that. According to “The (incomplete) list of powerful men accused of sexual harassment after Harvey Weinstein” published by CNN by Doug Criss. “It’s only been a few weeks since the sexual assault allegations against media mogul Harvey Weinstein exploded into public view. Since then there have been new allegations made against other powerful men in various industries seemingly almost every day.” That is why women feel the need to be strong and protective of themselves. “I feel like I need to be more protective of myself and more aware of my surroundings because men are more likely to harm me because they don’t think I’m capable of defending myself,” Cauble said. Women work hard, so the next generation struggles less. “I hope they feel like they can accomplish anything men can,” Dean said. Cauble also expressed the same feelings. “I hope when I have children my daughters can grow up in a society where everyone is treated equally no matter their gender, race, or religion,” Cauble said. Women feel the need to fight for equality so people can stop making assumptions about their position based on their gender. “Sometimes people outside my field don’t think I’m a doctor and mistake me for a nurse,” Dean said. Women’s fight for equality is progressing, and if women keep working, their daughters and grand-daughters will live in a better world. “I think that women are moving in the right direction we went from having no rights to where we are and as each generation goes on girls will have more role models which are a great thing,” Dean said. What women want is so simple, 90 year-old McCormick explains what women keep repeating for years in 8 short words. “Boys and girls can do the same thing,” McCormick said. Women can do anything, and we proved that time and time again. From starting a movement for equality to now being able to run for president and be able to be anything they want. But women’s work isn’t done. They still need to fight for their daughters, their pay, and for all the other girls who think they can’t be what the want to be because of a man. Emily Williams is a freshman at Mountain View High School. She is a member of Exploring Venturing Program at the Gwinnett Citizen.

December 2017

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 9

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 10

December 2017

Next Star Communications Wins Top Performer Award for Sprint Retail Stores & Business Team

Special Photo

(L-R) Bobby Moeck, CEO Next Star, Communications/Sprint and Matt Moeck, COO & Business Team Next Star Communications is a Sprint Authorized Retailer and Authorized Business Dealer with 29 Sprint stores in Northeast

Georgia, and the Metro Atlanta area, as well as a business-to-business sales team that handles the wireless needs of small, medium and large

businesses in the Atlanta area. As a recognized leader in the wireless retail industry, Next Star has been proudly serving customers and their community since 2000. Next Star is recognized for its community involvement, values, and leadership. Next Star has risen to become one of the top performing Sprint Authorized Retailers in the nation. This year, the company received the top performing Authorized Retailer for 2017. Their Business Team also received recognition for ranking among the top 3 performing Sprint Business Teams in the nation. This entitled them to win a trip to the Sprint Platinum Partners Awards in Dana Point, California. The keys to success for Next Star Communications have proved to be focusing on continuous, superior customer satisfaction, maintaining the highest ethical standards, valuing clients by creating long-term relationships, and remaining up-todate with their knowledge of technology. The Next Star team works with each customer individually, listening to their unique needs to help find the wireless device and or solution for their particular lifestyle or business. Next Star seeks to help you lower your wireless cost while

providing solutions for your personal and business communications needs. They provide personalized device setup, instruction on use of device, bill plan analysis and work to ensure your satisfaction. Next Star’s employees are what makes Next Star stand apart from other wireless carriers. Leadership development and continuous product and technology training are part of Next Stars’ team approach culture. This equips employees to find new ways to meet the changing wireless communication needs of customers while striving to exceed their expectations. This Christmas season, Sprint has the BEST price for fully featured Unlimited among national carriers. The Sprint network is within just 1% of Verizon’s quality, allowing Sprint customers more for their money. “Don’t let 1% difference cost you twice as much.” Sprint is the smart choice for the Holidays. You can get Unlimited Data, Talk ,Text, 10GB Mobile Hotspot, & Streaming in HD 4 lines for $25 with 5th line free. That’s 50% off Verizon rates! Plus, you can connect multiple devices through your phone all while streaming music, watching movies, &

playing games with the 10GBs of 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot. Sprint also has the latest devices to meet your needs and budget. Get the iPhone X or iPhone 8 you want & save $350 with eligible trade-in on Sprint Flex. Switch to Sprint & get the best price guarantee on the iPhone X pledging they won’t be beat by other national carriers. Plus, Sprint has more amazing prices on other hot devices such as Samsung , LG, & Motorola. Sprint’s Next Star store locations in Gwinnett include: Buford/Hamilton Mill; Duluth/ Sugarloaf Pkwy; Lawrenceville/Hwy 120; Loganville/Hwy 78; Mall of Georgia Kiosk; Snellville/Hwy 78 in Britt’s Center; Snellville/Hwy 124 in Barron Center; Sugarloaf Mills Mall Kiosk; and Suwanee/North I-85. In addition, Next Star just opened a New Dacula Sprint Store- 2515 Field Rd. in the Kroger Shopping Center. For more information about Next Star Communications, store locations, and in-store offers, visit Next Star online at:, “Like” them on Facebook @Sprintnextstar, follow the latest happenings on Instagram @Sprintnextstar, and check out their latest tweets on Twitter: @Sprintnextstar.

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Swept iday season. I want to wish you and your families the happiest of holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from my family to yours. ~ Many Blessings, Katie. About Katie Hart Smith “Words, written or spoken, have power.” Katie Hart Smith’s column, “From the Heart,” touches the heart,

(Swept is a reverse poem. What is a reverse poem? These poems mean one thing when read from top to bottom, but the meaning or sentiment changes when you read each line in reverse order, last line to first.) Swept Life, it can sweep you off your feet When you least expect it Knocking you Pushing you Finding uncomfortable and dark places Resist Getting swept away, swept up with the crowd Push away Avoid hurt, pain Take it all in Beautiful and precious moments, forever fleeting Like sand through your hands Release, Fall. Fail. powerless. Don’t feel When you least expect it Life, it can sweep you off your feet Let life sweep you off your feet. Learn to appreciate each other, seeing and valuing each other from different perspectives. Find the beautiful and precious moments with your family and friends this hol-

inspires, entertains, and speaks to one’s heart and soul. With over 20 years of experience, Smith has written for a wide array of audiences. Her historical fiction novels, Hope Never Rests and Aspirations of the Heart, have been placed in the Governor’s Mansion Library by Georgia’s First Lady, Sandra Deal. To learn more about this Southern author, visit www.

Page 11

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 12

December 2017

Gwinnett VIP gives veterans a helping hand

Special Photo

Celebrating Graduation Day in Veterans Court (L-R) Judge Carla Brown, Gwinnett State Court, Rosanna Szabo, Melvin J. Everson, State Representative David Clark, Ron Goodbub, and Mrs. Georgia, Melanie Gossett Caceres. Photo By Carole Townsend

With Judge Carla Brown smiling next to graduate and Vietnam Veteran ‘Clark’ expressed his gratitude for the program, and for the fact that he doesn’t feel alone in the battle any longer. Explaining what he’s learned in the program, he used one word: SERVICE. When you’re serving someone else, he explained, you feel better about yourself.

By Carole Townsend Staff Correspondent Only veterans’ first names are used in this article, to protect their privacy. Judge Carla Brown stands in the middle of her courtroom this Thursday afternoon. She’s smiling and calling defendants by name, asking about their health, their families, and their general well-being. Interestingly, the defendants are smiling back at the judge, catching her up on their goings-on over the past month, and even cracking jokes now and then. In courtroom 2D in the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, there’s something happening. And it’s working. “We call our veterans’ court here in Gwinnett ‘VIP court,’ because that’s exactly who we’re dealing with: VIPs. We owe our veterans a great deal of gratitude,” Gwinnett’s SolicitorGeneral Rosanna Szabo said at the beginning of the veterans’ court session on Thursday, Nov. 9. Gwinnett’s VIP (Veterans Intervention Program) court is not like any other such program in the country. “We’ve been doing this for about eighteen months now, with the first session held last June,” Brown said. “It’s changing all the time; as we learn, we make improvements.” The November 9 session was a special one, as nine veterans graduated from the intervention program. Some had issues with drugs and/ or alcohol. Others were battling domestic violence. Some were attempting to settle housing matters. Still, others had been nearly crippled by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the host of problems that spin off of that malady. What they all had in common was that they were veterans, and their legal issues were rooted in the painful aftermath of war. But instead of cycling these people in and out of the justice system time and again, Judge Brown and some colleagues had a better idea. Why not help these people who have served (or who are still serving) this country, by assisting them to address the obstacles that are hindering successful reentry into civilian society? “I am passionate about serving our

veterans. My dad was a vet,” Brown said, adding that she wore a POW/ MIA bracelet for 15 years until the remains of a Vietnam vet and family friend were finally found. “We were never taught about the Vietnam War in school, so I did my research. Sadly, all vets returning home are ignored; Vietnam vets were treated very badly.” The idea for an intervention/ accountability court was a good one, a necessary one, and with this first graduating class, it’s proven to be a successful one. To celebrate both Veterans Day and the nine graduates of the program, several local and state VIPs were on hand Thursday to applaud the hard work of both the graduating vets as well as those still in the program. Congressman Jody Hice and Mrs. Georgia, Melanie Caceres, were just two of the respected public figures who paid their respects at last month’s ceremony. Hice, who flew into Atlanta from Washington, DC, drove straight to the celebration ceremony from the airport. “I wanted to make it a point to be here, to thank these veterans for serving their country,” Hice said. “It was important to me to be here with you today, to thank you to your faces. You’re heroes for serving and for being in this court.” Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash is another dignitary who made it a point to celebrate with Judge Brown and the veterans. “We’re lucky to have an innovative judicial program here. I want to thank each of you for your service,” Nash said, adding a very personal remark directed to the Vietnam veterans in the room. “Vietnam was the war of my generation, and I want to sincerely apologize for this country’s treatment of you when you returned home from war. It was an embarrassment and a disgrace.” Melanie Caceres, uniquely qualified to understand veterans’ struggles, also offered some poignant remarks. Not just a pretty face as Mrs. Georgia, Caceres is an Air Force veteran, having served honorably for 12 years. “We all enlisted for our own personal reasons. I was deeply impacted by 9-11. I heard and saw what happened,

Photo By Carole Townsend

Photo By Carole Townsend

(L-R) Ron Goodbub and Carla Brown work together with other county and state leaders to make veterans court a much-needed solution for the men and women who need the support of their nation.

and the next morning, I went down to the local recruiter’s office to enlist. I sat on the curb for two hours before the office opened. I could have waited at home, but I knew that if I did, my mom would try to talk me out of it,” Caceres said. She was right; after she enlisted, she went home and told her mother what she had done. “She said, ‘well let’s just go down there and tell them you changed your mind!’” Caceres smiled as she shared that story, but she took on a serious tone when she told how difficult it was for her to assimilate back into civilian life and culture. “I almost re-enlisted. That’s how hard it was. The transition was difficult for me.” She added that networking is what makes VIP court work. No one person has all the answers or knows of all the resources available to veterans, but a group of people who network with one another is very effective. Ron Goodbub, an active “behind-the-scenes” player in the local and state political world (and a good friend of Judge Brown’s), is a veteran himself. When he heard about VIP court, he began showing up for the monthly sessions. He began telling people about the program, and before long, many people with various connections offered their help. Currently, other judges, defense attorneys, probation officers, even Szabo roll up their sleeves and provide their help to veterans participating in the program. “I’m both an army wife and an army mom,” Szabo told the veterans. “So when I say I’m going to do whatever I can to help you, know that I

Photo By Carole Townsend

Congressman Jody Hice flew in from Washington, DC and came straight to the Nov. 9 court session. He expressed his heartfelt respect and honor for U.S. Veterans

Mrs Georgia, Melanie Caceres, explains to veterans in the courtroom that she too is a veteran. She understands the difficulties veterans face when they return to civilian life.

mean it. It matters to me.” Other public figures were on hand at last month’s graduation session. Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks, County Administrator Glenn Stephens, State Court Judge Emily Brantley and State House Representative David Clark each stood - not to be honored, but to pay their respects to the veterans in the room. Congressman Rob Woodall, while in Washington for the graduation celebration, sent written words of encouragement to the group. Each graduate received a copy of the constitution, as well as some tokens of gratitude and accomplishment from Judge Brown. Daniel, one of the graduating veterans, said, “It was great to go through this with others who were here for similar reasons. It’s nice to know you’re not alone.” Clark, a Vietnam veteran, said, “When I first came here, no one would talk to me. I mean, young people don’t talk to old people, so I knew I had to start talking to people first. Before coming (to VIP court), my life consisted of going to the Veterans Administration (VA), then coming home and having a couple of drinks. That’s how I got into trouble. But before long, I learned that the key is service to others. If you’re helping someone else, you feel better about yourself.” And Nick, a young three-tour veteran who still serves in the National Guard, courageously shared his story. “2015 was a bad year for me. Three of my friends committed suicide, and my girlfriend broke up with me.” Soon after, he lost yet another friend in a

tragic motorcycle accident. “I needed help, but I didn’t know how to get it, so I began treating my problems with alcohol. In February 2016, I found myself in Gwinnett County. I don’t know why I was here, but I guess I had blacked out while driving, and I got a DUI. That’s how I met Judge Brown and was able to get into this program. In civilian court, I know they would have thrown the book at me, but here, we get help along with the sentence the judge hands down.” Nick was quick to say that Judge Brown is no pushover, but she is also fair. “She’ll tell you real quick if she thinks you’re lying or making excuses, and I’ve seen her send people to jail. But you can tell she’d rather help people in here rather than just send them off to jail.” Today, Nick is happy to say that he’s getting his life together, and he’s even met a young woman. He added that last with a smile. A program such as Gwinnett County’s VIP court is always changing, and can ever use help from the public. On the horizon is a website that includes all Gwinnett accountability courts and their 501(c)3 status. At that time, donors can help veterans in the program with monetary donations. Currently, according to Brown, mentors are desperately needed in the VIP Court program. “We could use veterans who are willing to mentor. If they have experience dealing with the VA, even better.” For more information about veterans’ court, visit the Gwinnett County website at, and search “Veterans Intervention Program.”

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Page 13

Age 70.5 or older? Don’t forget your RMDs!

Roger Green, MSFS,CFP ® Green Financial Resources

In the year in which you turn 70.5 years of age, the current IRS guidelines require you to take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from your Qualified accounts (tax advantaged accounts). The types of retirement accounts impacted by the RMD requirement include, but are not limited to: 401(k), 403(b), 457 plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs. It is important to note that Roth IRAs do not have an RMD requirement while the owner is alive. The RMD from your Defined Contribution Plans, which includes your 401(k), 403(b), 457 and TSP plans, is separate from the RMD from your IRA, SEP, SIMPLE, and other IRA type accounts. While your IRA RMDs can be combined and taken from one account, your 401(k) and similar account types must have

the RMDs taken separately from each account. How are RMDs calculated? RMDs are calculated by dividing the prior year-end fair market value of the retirement account by the applicable distribution period, or life expectancy. While you must withdraw the minimum amount, you are still legally allowed to withdraw any amount above that number. To calculate your RMD, visit the IRS website to ensure you are using the correct calculation worksheet. Generally, you will need to do three things for each account: 1) Determine the account balance on December 31st of the previous year by account 2) Find the distribution factor listed on the IRA calculation tables corresponding to your age as seen in the chart below.

Source: IRS 3) Divide the account balance by the distribution factor number to determine your RMD. When Should I take my RMD? The IRS requires you to begin receiving at least a minimum distribution from your Qualified accounts every year by Dec. 31, starting with the year in which you turn 70.5. Failure to take the withdrawal

as required may result in a 50% IRS excise penalty on the amount of the distribution you should have taken. There is, however, a special exception to this 12/31 deadline for your initial RMD year, allowing you to delay that first year RMD until April 1 of the following year. For instance, if you turn 70.5 in 2017, then you have until April 1, 2018 to take that initial 2017 RMD, but all subsequent RMDs must be taken annually by 12/31. The drawback to waiting until 4/1 is that you are still required to then take your 2018 RMD by 12/31/18, resulting in two RMDs within the same calendar year. And remember, the RMD amount is calculated based on the total in the retirement account as of December 31 of the prior year. This means your 2017 RMD would be based upon 12/31/16 balances, but the 2018 RMD would be based upon 12/31/17 balances. Because this can become confusing, we recommend you take even your initial RMD by 12/31 of the year in which you turn 70.5 . If you have multiple IRA accounts you may take the aggregate required total from one of the accounts, or the required amount from each account, or any other mixture of withdrawals from those impacted accounts; as long as you satisfy at least the full amount of the RMD as calculated across all accounts. There are valid investment planning reasons why you may want to vary how you take your RMDs from your IRAs. If actively working beyond 70 1/2, you may be able to defer

401(k)/403(b) RMDs without penalty. Generally, you must take your distribution each year whether you are working or not from your IRA type accounts. However, if you are still actively working past the age of 70.5, it is possible to defer your Defined Contribution Plan RMD’s (such as 401(k)/403(b) accounts) until retirement. As with anything else, conditions apply and require: • That you are actively employed currently. • Your current employer sponsors the 401(k) plan in question (a former employer 401(k) requires an RMD after age 70.5.) • You have funds in the account. • Your plan allows for it. • You are not a 5% or more owner of the company. (Owners holding 5% or more are required to take RMDs beginning at age 70.5.) There is, however, a way to prevent the need for an RMD from a plan you have with a prior employer; when still actively working and eligible for a current employer’s plan. If you have more than one 401(k) and your plan allows for rollovers, it may be possible to consolidate all 401(k) funds into the 401(k) of your current employer, allowing you to delay RMDs on all of the funds in the following year, if the other exceptions apply. This will also simplify RMD planning once you retire by minimizing the number of different RMD distributions you must calculate and take.

Additionally, because RMDs are not required from Roth IRAs, conversion of IRA accounts to Roth IRA accounts is another way to potentially avoid the need to take RMDs after age 70.5. Inherited IRAs also must have RMDs taken from them. Generally, if you have inherited an IRA from someone age 70.5 or older, for the year of the account owner’s death, use the RMD the account owner would have received. For the year following the owner’s death, the RMD will depend on the identity of the designated beneficiary. Many other rules apply. This is a highly simplified overview of RMDs. There are multiple rules to follow, so for these decisions the input of a financial advisor and/or a tax professional is recommended. To inquire about your situation, please contact our office at 770.931.1414 to schedule a free consultation, or sign up for one of our upcoming retirement planning classes. Learn more at We are here to help! This information is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied upon for the purpose of avoiding any federal or state tax penalties. Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisors LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Roger’s office is located at 3700 Crestwood Parkway Duluth, GA 30096.

Page 14

The Gwinnett Citizen

Snellville Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade

December 2017 Photos by Emmett Clower

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

The Golden Girls

Bill York

Nonagenarian They were not the original television cast, but they really were Golden Girls, serious and concentrating. At McDonald’s in Dacula, in a window booth. On our way to Kroger my wife Dot, and I stopped in for a sandwich. We headed for a window booth adjacent to a booth occupied by four ladies. I have never seen anyone playing cards in McDonald’s, but there they were. Still curious at age 91 I glanced over the back of my seat. I studied the cards. One Golden Girl looked up and smiled. “We’re playing Canadian Canasta,” she said. Wobbling, as I do at my age, I

went over to their booth. “I played Canasta in the navy,” I said. My jacket was monogrammed NAVY WWII. One lady glanced up at me, “I was in the Navy in WWII. I was a nurse.” After my 3rd stroke and no longer able to do the vigorous stuff, I have conceived a method to entertain myself. “I think I dated you in the navy,” I said, as I stared into her eyes. The other ladies began to giggle. They now knew a secret about their friend. The Navy nurse was nearest to me. She held out her hand. “How old are you?” she said. I took her hand. “I’m 91.” “I’ll be 94 soon.” “I really lusted for mature girls.” “Ooh, she never mentioned this one,” one of the ladies giggled. She squinted at me. “I don’t remember you,” she said. “Where were you stationed?” “I was in Jacksonville a long time.” “I knew it! I had just come back from the Mediterranean, and I was stationed in Green Cove Springs on the St. Johns River. We went to the beach. I remember a wonderful weekend.” “I don’t remember that.” “You said you would never forget me!”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “So am I, I often think about it. We had a great time.” More knowing grins. My wife stared out the window. She knew my nonsense would end eventually. The Golden Girls meet two times each week a little after lunch so no one would complain about them hijacking the booth. One of them went to place an order and then spoke to my wife. ”Did he really date her?” “I don’t know; I wasn’t there.” “He sounds serious?” “He is some of the time.” She explained to the woman that during our forty-five years together she found me frequently weird but harmless. Dot and I figured we had made some friends and we planned on coming back to McDonald’s sometime when the Golden Girls were there. I tried to remember how to play canasta. I wondered if I could be a sub sometime when one of them couldn’t make it. My fish sandwich was cold. As we drove away, I wondered what it would have been like to have dated the nurse. I can imagine. Bill is a WW II Navy veteran and retired President of York Furs in Buckhead. You can contact him by email at

Page 15

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 16

December 2017

Top 10 Holiday Gift Ideas from About Face Skin Care Are you tired of “stuff” for Christmas? Of course, you are grateful for gifts from family and friends, but the thoughts of one more handbag or another pair of earrings are not on the top of your list. Many clients tell us that we are on their Christmas list every year. For those of you who have not met us yet, here is a list of our top 10 gift ideas to make your season merry and bright! 1. Signature Facial: Who doesn’t love to relax and get a beautiful glow at the same time? Our hour-long Signature Facial is customized to address your specific skin needs in a safe and relaxing environment. Want to know more about what we do? We are happy to offer a free consultation to discuss your aging concerns. We offer a no pressure environment and we are proud of that! $95 2. Lip Restoration: Most people with “smoker’s lines” have never picked up a cigarette. Unfortunately, as the lips age and lose volume, the skin around the mouth creases and looks drawn. A small amount of injectable filler can make lips look more smooth and hydrated while knocking out those lines at the same time. $450-$725 3. Latisse: The aging process can make lashes and brows thin. Latisse is a product that will enhance the growth of this area and produce thicker, longer lashes and fuller brows in about 8 weeks. Definitely a client pleaser for years! $179 for 5oz. 4. Moisture-Rich Body Crème by Elta MD: We have never been so in love with a body product. This luxurious cream will soften, heal and last all day. Once again, Elta MD impresses us at a price point that is tough to beat! $25 for 8 oz. 5. Save My Face Pillow: Are you a side sleeper with a morning crease that lasts for hours? Worry no more. With the Save My Face Pillow you can rest easy on your favorite side while putting no pressure on the delicate skin of the face. As a side note, this pillow is a great option for

treated once per month for three months. Winter is a great time to have IPL! Starts at $395. 10. Restoration Handware Package: This incredible offer consists of our specially formulated Hand and/ or Arm peel and one Intense Pulse Light Treatment of the Hand and/ or forearms. This spe-

Chrissy Thomas

About Face Skin Care

those with neck issues or those who sleep with a CPAP mask. $79.95 6. PRP Hair Restoration: Men and women have been thrilled with the results of our PRP Hair Restoration treatments. Clients are seen once per month for four treatments. A small amount of blood is drawn and spun in a centrifuge to yield the Platelet Rich Plasma component from the blood. This PRP is placed in the scalp area to stimulate new hair growth. We have many satisfied clients who thought there was no hope for new hair growth. $1,995 for the series of four treatments 7. About Mind and Body Membership: Exercise is the ultimate way to maintain youth. Our fitness boutique offers a full schedule of classes including, yoga, strength training, barre, Zumba, Piloxing and more. We also plan events that are free to members- from Sip n Paint events to classes on decorating, nutrition, wine tastings and much more. $49.99 per month 8. Hydrafacial MD Treatment-: This treatment has it all- cleansing, extracting, exfoliating, hydrating and color balancing in a 45 minute treatment. A definite favorite for staff and clients. Safe for all skin types and exceptionally great for those with dry skin. $179 9. Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL): This amazing technology will wipe out brown spots, repair broken capillaries and tighten skin with no downtime. Clients are typically

cially priced package will be under many trees this season. Package starts at $219.95 No matter your budget or aging concerns, About Face Skin Care has the perfect gift to make you say, “ho, ho, ho!” If you are not sure which treatment would serve you best, our

gift cards come in any amount, and we offer a free consultation. Gift certificates may be purchased on our website at Be sure to like us on Facebook to see sale prices on these and other products and treatments. We wish you all a special holiday season, and we can’t wait to meet you!

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Why choose a community bank?

Page 17

What’s in Your Stocking?

Marlene Ratledge Buchanan Hey Y’all

Photo by Emmett Clower

The staff at United Community Bank in Snellville. (L-R) Chris Lee, Kathleen Knight, Tami Rhine, Amber Bowman, Rae Merck, Nathan Umberg and Snellville Branch Manager Ginger Kilman (Center). By Carole Townsend Staff Correspondent It seems that there is a bank on every street corner in Gwinnett County; deciding which bank to choose can be overwhelming. Some customers choose a bank with convenient locations. Others choose based on recommendations from friends or family members. Still others select a bank based on introductory offers made to new customers. Ginger Kilman, Branch Manager and Vice President of United Community Bank in Snellville, has been in the banking industry since the early 1980s. She has seen many changes over the years, as some banks merged and others went out of business. “Most banks offer the same services, so choosing a bank based on what they offer their customers really makes no difference anymore,” said Kilman. “What makes us different here at United Community Bank is the personal service we offer our customers.” For instance, said Kilman, in the event a customer falls prey to check or identity fraud, there is something reassuring about talking to someone you know – and who knows you – at your bank. That personal connection is much more comforting than placing a phone call to a 1-800 number and hoping your problem gets handled. “We have several families banking with us, in which we’ve served the grandparents, the parents and now, their children, the millennials. All three generations prefer to do business in different ways. Our senior customers prefer to pick up the phone and make a call to our branch, no matter what they need. Millennials, on the other hand, prefer to handle most everything by email,” Kilman said. Too, different generations of customers have different banking needs. More senior customers are likely investing and managing funds.

United Community Bank’s “middle” generation might be interested in home loans or equity lines of credit for remodeling their homes. And the younger generation is often just getting started, establishing credit, perhaps buying a first home, and starting their families. “We know our customers, and they know us. There are customers who walk in here and, if they don’t see me at my desk, they ask where I am – even if they don’t need to talk to me that day,” said Chris Lee, Customer Service agent at United Community Bank. Lee also has decades of experience in the banking industry. “We offer the best of both worlds here. With branches in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, we could be considered a large bank. But we have managed to maintain that small-town bank feel. That’s what distinguishes us from other banks, both large and small,” Lee added. “At United Community Bank, you’re a name, not a number.” Kilman stated that maintaining that policy of personal service extends to all the staff at United Community Bank. “Our tellers know everyone by name, too. In fact, they probably know more customers personally than I do, but that makes sense. The tellers are typically who customers walk in to see.” Another advantage of doing business with a community bank is the staff’s goal of making every process as simple for the customer as possible. For example, when a client applies for a loan, Kilman simply requests that they gather all the information required. She does the rest. Perhaps the best advantage a community bank offers its customers is the attention to detail that only comes with knowing customers well. “If we see a check come through that is for an unusual amount or one that seems out of the ordinary for one of our clients, we will usually call them to verify that they did, indeed, write

that check or authorize that payment. It’s a great way to head off trouble before it begins,” said Kilman. Lee recalls working for larger banks over the course of his career. “I remember working for one very large bank, and as employees, we were tasked with one thing – opening new accounts.” That focus was very common among big banks and as a result, personal service fell by the wayside. As a result, many banks “automated” themselves out of jobs, as so much business was transacted without ever talking with a human being. “One of the things I love about working at United Community Bank is the longevity of the staff and the loyalty of our customers,” Lee said. He believes that both are a direct result of the bank’s commitment to personal customer service. It’s no surprise that United Community Bank has been recognized for the highest customer satisfaction score in the Southeast by J.D. Power for the past four years. Most banks offer pretty much the same services across the board, but the difference with a community bank is that personal touch, the ability to make many decisions at the local level. Both Kilman and Lee want to let people know that, if they’re considering changing banks, the end of the calendar year is a great time to do it. “It’s a fresh start for the new year,” said Lee. Also, and of utmost importance, Santa will make an appearance at the Snellville branch of United Community Bank from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm on December 22. Bank patrons and those in the community who want to put in a word with the big guy are invited to do so. United Community Bank has been located at 2168 Scenic Highway in Snellville for 14 years. To contact a banking representative, call 770-985-2337.

Christmas presents. Oh, I hate shopping for Christmas presents. I have a very small family to shop for, but still, I feel like I am never good at picking out presents for them. I guess we have reached the age where when we need something or want something; we just buy it. I know that is what Snell and I do. One year he bought himself a steering wheel for the 1948 Cadillac, and we called that his Christmas gift. I came home one day and told him that he didn’t need to worry about getting me a present. I had bought my 40th anniversary and Christmas present. He said, “Do I like it? Did I do good?” I told him he had excellent taste and he was thrilled that he had found something I loved so much. Are we pathetic, or what? But we are happy with our arrangement. Our son gets Christmas surprises. Well, they are rarely surprises. He either finds them wherever I have hidden them or he just tells me what he wants. But one year, he was really and truly surprised. Actually, so were we. Jimmy, Snell’s brother, was better known as Jimmy Buck by most people and Ucca Buck to James. Jimmy and his wife Debbie managed Silverwood Farms. This was a ranch for people who boarded their horses and wanted a wooded area and fields in which to ride. Lenora Park is located on that property now. I miss seeing the ponds where James and others would fish. Snell’s horse Sealy, a buckskin cutting horse who lived to be 23, is buried there. I have to tell you about the style of the house. It still exists at Lenora Park, but they have changed its outward ap-

pearance and the use of the interior space. The house was an A-fame in the center of two long buildings making a “T” with the top of the “T” coming off each side. The long sections were tack and feed rooms and horse stalls. These horses were not just riding ponies, some of them were champions in their fields. Security was necessary, and Jimmy kept a close eye on everything. The back door of the short leg of the T opened into the long top of the T”. Back to my story. Every Christmas Eve Snell’s family gets together for dinner and presents. When my parents were living, we would be together on Christmas day, but Snell and James are all I have now except for two cousins who live very far away and who have their own families. We rotated Christmas Eves, so I should have been suspicious when Debbie called and asked if we could do our holiday at their house this time. Well, sure, any time I don’t’ have to cook and clean the house is okay with me. We had a lovely time, eating and laughing and opening presents. Our niece Emily had just turned two, so she was having the best time with the wrapping paper. James, who was seven, had gotten something with which he and his Maw-maw, Miss Bobby, were enthralled. Snell’s mother was known as Miss Bobbie to many people. She taught first grade at the Snellville Consolidated School until her arthritis became so severe she could no longer work. Bobbie Snell Buchanan was one of the most loved people in Snellville. Suddenly we realized that Debbie and Jimmy were gone. Before anyone could get up, Debbie opened the back door singing “Merry Christmas, James!” Jimmy walked in the kitchen door leading Cricket, a Shetland pony. All the air left the room as we gasped in unison. James was so stunned that he could only look at Cricket and couldn’t move. Finally, James got up and went to Jimmy and just stared at him. Jimmy was laughing so hard he was in tears. Debbie, who was James’ most favorite person in the whole room, grabbed James and put him up on Cricket’s back. From the time James began talking, he never stopped. He stopped this time. He just looked from Cricket to Jim

Page 18

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017 OAK continued from page1

Chad Alexander Smith Photo

Photo of large red oak in the field.

Chad Alexander Smith Photo

Photo of large red oak in the field at sunset. Now gone, but not forgotten.

Chad Alexander Smith Photo

Chad Alexander Smith’s sons, Clay Smith (left) and Rett Smith (right) standing on the large trunk with their grandfather Don Smith on the right. county acquired the land in 2002. And the county agreed to preserve the giant oak and four other large oak trees on the property. In 2003 the Alexander family posed under the giant oak tree facing Scenic Highway with County Commission Chairman F. Wayne Hill. That tree was a landmark and important to the Alexander family for several reasons. One of which was on Valentine’s Day 2001 Chad Alexander Smith, an Alexander grandson, proposed to his future wife Rebecca under the tree where at lunchtime Chad had left a rose and the ring under the big oak for Rebecca to find later in the afternoon. The ring was still where Chad put it. Sixteen years later Chad and Rebecca have triplets and busy lives but good memories of that tree

and the important role it played in their lives. In addition to having a couple become engaged beneath its limbs, the tree has watched a rarely traveled dirt road become a two-lane paved road then a four-lane Scenic Highway with bumper to bumper traffic during late afternoons. Gwinnett has gone from a rural county with cotton fields along most of the roads to a metro county with lots of traffic, the largest school system in the state and a large multicultural population. The tree has seen changes in the Alexander family; it has grown since J.T. and Jane purchased the land. J.T. died in 1975 and daughter, Shirley and her husband Don have two sons, Chad and Brian. They and their

Chad Alexander Smith Photo

Large portion of the tree saved for a table top. (L-R) Chad Smith, Rett Smith, Clay Smith, Don Smith

parents all are graduates of South Gwinnett High School. Chad and Brian hold master’s degrees, Brian’s from UGA and Chad from Princeton. Brian is a builder and Chad is an architect. Their wives are teachers in Gwinnett schools. Chad and his wife Rebecca have triplets, and Brian and his wife Jenny have a daughter and a son, all five of the children are in school now. The family of two has expanded to a family of twelve. The Alexander family members now enjoying the park and missing the big oak are Jane Alexander, her daughter Shirley Smith and Shirley’s husband Don, the Smith sons Chad and his wife Rebecca and their children Liza Jane, Rett and Clay, Brian and his wife Jenny and their children Lily and Nile. Strong as an oak is a simile used to describe a person of character and that describes the Alexander/Smith Families.

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Page 19

Georgia, along with Gwinnett County, leads the Nation in Criminal Justice Reform under Governor Deal By Russell Gray The Greater Gwinnett Reentry Alliance, a local nonprofit, hosted a Gwinnett County Legislator Appreciation Luncheon at Georgia Gwinnett College Thursday, November 9, 2017. The theme of the meeting, Changing Laws, Changing Lives, was directed at the Criminal Justice Reform Legislation passed over the past few years by Georgia General Assembly. This was all part of a legislative initiative taken up by Governor Deal and supported unanimously by Gwinnett Legislators devoted to helping men and women getting out of jail or prison to stay out (decreasing recidivism). County Commissioner Jace Brooks presented Proclamations of Commendation on behalf of all Gwinnett Senators to Senator Renee Unterman and all Gwinnett Representatives to House Floor Representative Chuck Efstration. Over 300 attended the luncheon including Gov. Deal who spoke and is seeing his vision on Criminal Justice Reform coming to fruition. Read what happens when Great visions collide: Who is involved in the Reformation? The collaboration between the county and state along with

Special Photo

GGRA Chuck Efstration Accepting BOC Proclamaton of Commendation November 9, 2017.

private citizens, and many organizations and businesses are proving to be a successful formula for changing lives of those caught up in the prison and jail system. This includes helping returning citizens to the county overcome the barriers they face. Other states are taking notice and looking at Georgia’s and Gwinnett’s formula to implement in their locales. Because it is innovative and it is working. Why should you care? Stats gave from 2010 for Georgia: 1.1 Billion spent and 1 in 13 incarcerated or under supervision. This means that over half-amillion Georgians were either in jail, in prison, on parole or probation in that year. How many families are destroyed

and how many families fall victim? And at what cost? More prisons and jails haven’t been the answer PLUS 95% of those incarcerated will return. The answer is in changing laws and lives in ways that have a real impact on our society and our safety. The story behind the walls of the Prisons and Jails is changing in Georgia and Gwinnett: For many years Faith-based organizations have been going into these facilities bringing the good news of hope and redemption - working to improve the hearts and minds of those who reside there. Now to the government is providing educational opportunities and job skill training and additional programs to equip the residents with tools to lead a successful life outside of the walls. Second chance programs and Accountability courts have been implemented by the state and are working to head off continued cycles of crime. Laws have been changed, lives helped. Our State legislature has worked in a completely nonpartisan way to smooth the way for these changes. HOWEVER, the stigma of having a Felony still brings many barriers when a citizen returns to the county. The Scarlet F (Felony) poses rough waters to navigate: Where will they live – not easy to find a place who will accept them if

their family isn’t willing • Where will they work – not easy to find a business that will employ them • What will they wear – they come out with the clothes they entered with – or perhaps someone or organization has provided an outfit. • How will they get transportation to find a job? And if found, how will they get there? • How will any mental health issues be addressed? • How will they get help if they get sick? • Spiritual guidance – who will continue to guide them through the rough transition – hope and redemption promised – where will it come from? • PLUS – court fees, probation fees, inaccessibility to loans, educational acceptance, restitution owed, The barriers mount. Now comes another Great Vision of Reducing Recidivism through combined Community Effort: To help overcome the barriers - The Government cannot do it alone. Visions of leaders with heart and passion for helping outside the government entering for walking along with the State for providing desperately needed services. Enter GGRA – Enter GRIP – Enter United Way, Enter private citizens and

organizations – Enter The Salvation Army and Goodwill - Enter Georgia Gwinnett College - Enter Businesses – Enter 501C3s – Enter churches and faith-based resources. A myriad of groups who THINK BIG and step in to help complete the needs of returning citizens have come together in the County of Gwinnett to create a true net of hope and help to reduce recidivism. Of this Gwinnett, citizens should be PROUD! This is an innovative story that can be used by other counties and states. This is an innovated approach to a very serious issue which every state and county faces. Come Together: GGRA who sponsored the luncheon is the melting pot where many of the private and government organizations meet on a monthly basis at the Gwinnett County Jail. Here groups educate and share their services and assistance and formula for working together. There is MUCH going on here. GGRA President Karen Klett and the forward-looking leadership of this group invites you to join in if you have the passion for helping. To learn more – to volunteer – to participate – contact: Lee Robbins for DCS Gwinnett at 404 985 8701 or Karen Klett for Greater Gwinnett Reentry Alliance at 678 251 4118. Also for more information see: .

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 20

December 2017

Who’s Watching the Kids?

James Miskell

Estate Planning

It is natural to focus on our families during the holiday season, to think about everything they add to our lives and how lucky we are to have them. As people think about Estate Planning, they often focus on dividing and distributing their belongings and financial assets. They decide who gets which of their favorite possessions. They decide which family members get money and how much, and perhaps that a certain amount of money will go to a favorite charity. This focus on “things,” however, neglects an important issue. In addition to what will we be giving our loved ones, we need to decide who will be taking care of them—and who will be taking care of us.

This issue is especially crucial if you have minor children. If both parents are deceased, who will serve as Guardian? When a minor child is left without a parent guardian as the result of death, Probate Court can appoint a Guardian to care for the child until adulthood. Who will Probate Court appoint as Guardian? Well, it depends upon who applies to serve. While it would be nice if all extended families had good relationships, unfortunately, that is not the reality for some people. There may be disagreement between relatives about who is best suited to serve as Guardian, and there may be competing petitions. This is not ideal for a child who is trying to adjust to the loss of their parents. Conservators are appointed by the Probate Court to handle the financial affairs of those who need Guardians. Just as the Guardian cares for the person, the Conservator is charged with the duty of taking care of the finances in the best interest of the ward. This is often the same person as the Guardian, but it can be another person. Do you know someone who is nurturing but terrible with money? One person may be an ideal Guardian, but someone else may be a better choice for

“In addition to what will we be giving our loved ones, we need to decide who will be taking care of them—and who will be taking care of us.” Conservator. Who will Probate Court appoint as Conservator? As with Guardianship, the process can be complicated by disagreements within the family that result in objections and even competing petitions. It may seem obvious that minor children need a Guardian and Conservator appointed to look after them and make decisions on their behalf, but it is also true for those with a mental disability that leaves them unable to care for themselves. One day it may also apply to you. If you are unable to make or communicate significant decisions concerning your health and safety or the management of your property, who will take care of YOU? There must be a way to avoid some of this uncertainty. There must be a way to ensure that the people you trust to watch over your loved ones are, in fact, appointed by the Court. The good news is that it is possible. You have the power to remove un-

certainty from the process by nominating—ahead of time—the people you know are best suited to serve as Guardians and Conservators. By consulting with loved ones and qualified professionals, you can develop a plan for the future and execute the best documents to make that plan a reality. Your family will be grateful that you did. The time to start is now. James M. Miskell received his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1993. His Asset Protection, Estate Planning, and Elder Law practice has offices located in Lawrenceville and Johns Creek. He offers educational workshops and free consultations to assist clients as well as fellow professionals in creating individualized solutions. Visit his website: www. For more information, see his ad in this issue.

GCPS educators earn state honors By Staff Reports Four Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) educators were recognized by the Georgia School Counselor Association, (GSCA) as tops in the counseling field. The GSCA awards are bestowed upon deserving individuals every year in recognition of their outstanding commitment to, performance in, and support of school counseling. The award winners and their respective honors are as follows: GSCA School Counselor of the Year: Samela Tucker Reid Parkview High School Supervisor of the Year Award: Penny Palmer Young, Principal Arcado Elementary Emerging Leader Award: Laura Ross Five Forks Middle School Writer Award: Simone Sheppard Rosebud Elementary School

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Holiday Reflections

Barbara McClure RN, BSHA

The Holiday Season for me creates a time for family, friends, memories and reflection. As a culture, I feel that we have become so engrossed in the material aspect of the Season that we have nearly displaced the reason that we are celebrating. We often forget how very blessed we are as a Nation, and neglect the importance of being thankful and appreciative for the truly important things in our lives; no matter how small they may seem. Thanksgiving is the perfect beginning to the Season. I am so very thankful for the wonderful women and men that choose my business when there are many to choose from. I am thankful for my family and friends that support my efforts in choosing to create a new vision. I am thankful for the vendors

and businesses and networks that support the many ways a business needs to function. These are blessings, indeed. Christmas is the time for giving, honoring, and showing appreciation for others. As a Christian, the birth of Jesus is reason for our Celebration, and our giving of gifts is a symbol of the gifts brought to Jesus by the Magi and Wise Men. The gifts we give can come in the form of service to others or helping those less fortunate or honoring the services of others or reaching out to those who may not have friends or family around them. When you are planning your gift list, I would like you to consider giving a toy to Toys for Tots, giving much needed food and supplies to a local food bank, visiting a nursing home, sending cards and greetings to Soldiers in active duty; even donating a unit of blood to help someone survive…the list is endless. Wishing you all a Blessed Holiday Season filled with joy, peace and love. ~ Barbara Barbara McClure, RN is the Owner/ Operator of A Defined Image Med Spa.

Page 21

What is Gratitude in Gwinnett? By Ellen Gerstein Executive Director, Gwinnett Coalition I’m asked lots of questions in my line of work, but of all them, this one by far is my favorite. Why? Because answering this question is easy when I think of Gwinnett Great Days of Service. Whether it’s the child I get to hug after they’ve finished collecting cans for a local food co-op, the senior citizens out cleaning the roadsides who are thanking me for the opportunity to ‘always help’, or the veteran who expresses his heartfelt thanks to me for beautifying the outside of his home, the same theme rings true: Gwinnett Great Days of Service fosters an ‘attitude of gratitude’ from those who give and receive just a couple days’ worth of intentional acts of kindness. Serving…that’s where it all starts. Project leaders, year after year you see a need; be it for your own non-profit agency or someone you serve, and you faithfully go about doing what is necessary to serve those who need help, often without asking anything in return. We had over 440 projects this year, and I’m so proud to say that they were the very demonstration of what happens when preparation meets opportunity, greatness takes place! Giving…our project leaders identify the needs but it’s our sponsors that provide us the seeds to meet them in our Gwinnett community. Several of you have shared with me why you sponsor Gwinnett Great Days of Service (GDOS), creating a legacy of giving. To some you love sponsoring the collective impact that GDOS provides of multiple non-profit agencies and volunteers, collaboratively building a stronger community. For

Ellen Gerstein

Special Photo

others, you feel like a corporate citizen you hold a responsibility to give back to the County, and Gwinnett Great Days of Service provides an avenue for your team to give back. Whatever the reason, and whatever the motivation, you are critical to making Gwinnett Great Days of Service a success, and I’m grateful I can always count on you. Loving…Of the five love languages that exist, “acts of service” is one that can be overlooked by a few, but when expressed, is felt by many. Volunteers, your heart to serve our Gwinnett community is BIG. It is evident from your hard work on the streets, homes, playgrounds, and gardens you improve, and in the stories shared with me of how you showed up early, stayed late, and even came from the neighborhoods and asked, “Can I help?” when you saw other community volunteers serving people in need. That’s love in action. I saw it on display from our younger, 5-year old volunteers all the way

up to our more seasoned, senior volunteers. Over 52,000 volunteers loved and gave back to Gwinnett this year. If you look back over our 18 years of Gwinnett Great Days of Service, you will see over 1 million who have loved on this county. Wow! Gwinnett Great Days of Service would be incomplete without recognition of one of our biggest supporters: Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash, recipient of this year’s “Barbara King Community Hero Award.” Thank you for being a hero to all of us through your many years of service to Gwinnett County! So thank you, volunteers, sponsors, and project leaders! You’ve made this year’s Gwinnett Great Days of Service truly great. I’m grateful to call Gwinnett County, a community known for its volunteerism, my home, a great place to live, work, and play. If you would like to learn how to get involved with the Gwinnett Coalition this year and take action to give back to our community, please visit To learn more about Gwinnett Great Days of Service, please visit About the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services The Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services is a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the health and human service needs of everyone in Gwinnett County, Georgia. It does so through a collective impact model, an innovative and structured approach working across government, business, philanthropy, non-profits, and residents to achieve significant and lasting improvement in our community.

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 22

December 2017

Holly and mall sales and mistletoe...and scams There’s a Grinch in every crowd, isn’t there? While I like to think I’m no green, hairy, grouch, and while I love the Christmas season with all my heart, I still feel that I must sound a warning to benefit all of us. Every year like clockwork, as the rest of us are thumbing through leftover turkey recipes and digging out our stretchy

pants, there are some crafty and clever creatures gearing up for their most profitable season: Christmas. Maybe it’s because I’m in the “over 50” crowd, or maybe it’s because I can spot a rip-off easier now than when I was younger, but I know as sure as the “best prices of the year” are upon us that so are the

Carole Townsend

(Not So) Common Sense

con men and scam artists. Sounds cynical, I know, but I came to this conclusion based entirely on my own experiences. My father, God rest his soul, lived to the ripe old age of 93; we lost him almost five years ago. While he remained pretty sharp right to the end, he still needed the help of his children to sort out the busy-ness of daily life. Managing his medications became complicated. He couldn’t safely drive, so he depended on us for transportation. And I know that he thought that he was scam-savvy (he answered every phone call by growling, “What are you selling?” and hanging up, even if it was one of his children), but it was during those last years of his life that my eyes were opened to the number of opportunists, crooks, and cons lurking around every corner.

They would try to reach my father by telephone, mail, and even by knocking on his door. With pitches that ranged from tree services, gutter cleaning, magazine subscriptions and life-alert bracelets, I’d say there were about 50 people standing in line for every dollar my dad had left to his name. When my mother-in-law lost her husband several years back, I was appalled by the number of calls and letters she received, all claiming to be entitled to her money for this reason or that. On more than one occasion, she’s called my husband in a near panic, having been tricked into giving this person or that her banking and other personal information. In turn, he’d spend hours on the phone undoing the damage that was swiftly and efficiently done to her finances. For some reason, these con artists ramp up their efforts during the holiday season. Perhaps it’ s because we’re all so busy, and they know we might not be paying attention. Perhaps it’s because they know we’re likely making more purchases than usual, and a fraudulent charge can slip by an unsuspecting person rather easily. Whatever the reason, a slick scam like the ones I’ve seen can ruin the season, and probably a lot more, if it’s not spotted and reported right away. I implore you to be vigilant this

season, while you’re shopping and cooking and visiting with friends. And I’ll ask one more thing: look out for an elderly person you know, too. Whether that person is a neighbor, family member or friend, chances are they need your help in protecting themselves. There are so many ways to steal from people these days, ways an elderly person has never heard of, much less can he understand. Check in on these people. Ask them if anything unusual happened that day, whether they got any phone calls that seemed strange. Depending on how well you know the person, come right out and ask whether they’ve made any purchases via phone, through the Internet or with a stranger at the front door. And if this person is a parent or grandparent, and if they trust you, sit with them and review their bank statements for a couple of months in a row, starting now. All of this may sound a bit over the top, but as I stated earlier, I know what I’ve seen happen to my dad and my husband’s mom, and it’s shameful. There. That’s the last of the Grinch-y things I’ll utter from now through Christmas, From now on, it’s cookies, presents, celebrations, family and decorating. And then, there’s the New Year. That’s a whole different ball of wax, as Dad used to say

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Music reduces stress, anxiety, and pain in seniors

learned in childhood -- particularly when listened to in your loved one’s native language -- may trigger a more significant response. Top songs for every generation In order to get the benefits, it’s important to play music that your senior enjoys and connects with. Do you remember The Andrew Sisters, Glenn Miller, Doris Day, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley and The Rat Pack to name a few!

Music is an amazing drug-free way to improve quality of life for older adults. Many studies show the benefits of music. It reduces stress, anxiety, and pain. It also improves immune function, helps memory, and encourages exercise. The Healing Power of Music A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine revealed that music therapy leads to increased secretion levels of “feel-good” brain chemicals, including melatonin, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and prolactin in Alzheimer’s patients. The results are manifold: music can boost mood, reduce stress and agitation, foster positive social interactions, coordinate motor function, and even facilitate cognition. How? Even as the disease progresses and cognitive function declines,


y a pp

Special Photo

the human brain still naturally responds to music. And the benefits continue long after the music stops playing. Amazing Associations Music has the unique ability to evoke memories and emotions from long ago. Choose favorite songs or musical styles from your loved one’s formative years -teens to mid-20s are ideal -- to elicit the most engaged response. If your loved one is still relatively mobile, attend a concert or go out dancing. Or, buy a karaoke machine so you can sing along together to favorite tunes at home. If a particular type of music causes your loved one to exhibit signs of distress, avoid playing it in the future; it may be associated with an upsetting memory. For adults in advanced stages of dementia, reaching further back in time may be an effective technique. Songs

We invite you to join us this month at Dogwood Forest of Graysonwe have quite a few musical events scheduled for our residents! December 11 at 10 amMusic with Dennis GoodwinChristmas! December 15 at 6:30 pmFountain Dance Company performing

Page 23

County converts football field at Mountain Park Park to synthetic turf The football field at Mountain Park Park will be rebuilt this winter as a 100,000 square-foot synthetic turf field for football, soccer, and lacrosse. Completion of the SPLOST-funded upgrade is scheduled for July. The old field and press box was demolished along with a baseball backstop and dugouts. The new field will have a new press box, lighting, fencing, and goals. Work will also include drainage improvements, paving and retaining wall construction. Gwinnett commissioners awarded the nearly $2.3 million contract to low bidder Precision Turf LLC on Nov. 7. Mountain Park Park covers 44 acres southeast of Lilburn at 5050 Five Forks Trickum Road. It features baseball/

softball fields, tennis courts, a skating complex and sand volleyball court plus playgrounds, a pavilion, restrooms, and trails. The associated Mountain Park Aquatic Center is located nearby on Rockbridge Road. Commissioner Lynette Howard said the use of SPLOST funds to upgrade existing facilities helps the County keep up with increased use by a growing population. “Converting existing grass fields to artificial surfaces improves drainage and eliminates the need to take fields out of use to let the grass grow and recover, and ultimately, residents get more play out of the fields,” said Howard.

December 18 at 2:00 pmChildren’s Christmas Concert December 20 at 2:00 pmDogwood residents Christmas Caroling! December 21 at 4:00 pm – Johnny Cash cover artist If you have any questions please call 678-496-2319 or visit our website

ays! d i l o H

Here are some of our Dogwood Forest Difference: • Activities and design features that promote our belief that our bodies have the ability to heal itself given a healing environment and lifestyle. • Our structural design maximizes windows, porches, walking gardens and pressurized air systems that forces healthy air into common areas. • Our buildings are designe to incorporate some of the highest safety levels in the world and are constructed with concreate and steel foundations and structural walls.

Please call for our YEAR END SPECIALS! Dogwood Forest of Grayson

(678) 496-2319

Assisted Living | Memory Care | Respite Care | Adult Day Care

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 24

Ask the Senior Care Expert


Tim Golden BrightStar Care

Special Photo

I am often asked by families how to broach the subject of care with their loved ones. Since it is that time of year again where families are together after, perhaps, not seeing each other for an extended period of time, I thought this would be a good question to address this month. I get calls this time of year usually from adult children who haven’t seen mom or dad in a while. They are calling because they were surprised if not downright shocked at their parent’s condition. “Things seemed fine when we talked on the phone but when I spent time with them….” Being around parents also allows one sometimes to see how spouses are “covering” for each other. Maybe one spouse is beginning to experience dementia, and the other is facing physical challenges. You talk to them on the phone weekly, and everything seems OK, maybe a bit odd but OK nonetheless. Then you actually are with them for the holidays, and you notice one of your parents is asking the same question repeatedly and the other is much more mobility challenged than you had realized. On the phone, you don’t see the physical limitations, and in short conversation, you might not have a chance to experience the repetition. The adult children often come to a sudden realization that things are not OK with their parents and they ask me how to have the conversation about what the best next steps should be. But here’s the challenge – mom and dad usually don’t think they need any help at all. It starts with “you know how forgetful your father

is” and often progresses fairly rapidly to downright defensiveness on the part of the elderly parents. The conversation is hard to have, but we all will likely face it at one time or another, either as the adult child or as the parent. I really want to encourage the parents whose children have approached them with concerns to be open to listening. Your children are not trying to take over your life. They are concerned for your safety. You should be willing to listen to your children if for no other reason than their peace of mind. If your children are willing to have that incredibly awkward conversation about your well-being, shouldn’t you be at least willing to listen? Likewise, your children should be willing to hear your thoughts. Maybe your children want you to consider alternative living arrangements, like an independent or assisted living facility. Be open in telling your loved ones how you feel about that and the reasons why. Don’t just shut down the conversation by refusing to talk. Maybe there is a compromise that can be reached. How well do you know the neighbors? Would everyone involved be comfortable with a neighbor kind of keeping an eye on things and calling the adult children if something seems amiss? How about more frequent phone calls or, better yet, video chats with Facetime or something similar? “Eyes on” often reveals issues that would have remained hidden through the typical phone call. The best advice I can give about having “the conversation” is just to do it. Don’t put it off – the health and wellbeing of the people most important in the world to you could be at risk. Be willing to listen. Sometimes it takes several conversations to find a resolution to these issues. Putting off the first of those conversations only delays that resolution. Tim Golden is the owner of BrightStar Care, Lawrenceville. You can reach Tim at (404)281-1537 or by emailing For more information please visit http://www. -Tim Golden BrightStar Care (404)281-1537 PO Box 634 Lawrenceville, GA 30046 email:

December AP Events

VETERANS ROUNDTABLE In partnership with Goodwill of N. Ga Meets the 2nd Wednesday of every month Wednesday, December 13 at 1:00 pm Buford Branch 2100 Buford Highway, Buford 30518 Meet with experts on Veterans resources. Discuss your needs and get real help on filing VA claims, medical care, housing, and job resources. Newly discharged or older retirees welcome! For more information, please email

WRITERS WORKSHOP WITH DREW JUBERA Reservations requested: events@ Saturday, December 16 at 1:30 pm Lilburn Branch 4817 Church Street, Lilburn 30047 Drew Jubera is a five time Pulitzernominated journalist and the author of Must Win: A Season of Survival for a Town and Its Team. Jubera has written for The New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, Esquire, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and many others. He is also a consulting producer of the new sports Netflix documentary series Last Chance U.

December 2017

‘Tis the Season! Thanksgiving is my favorite Holiday. I love the food and the friends and family. Reflecting on this past year, I am grateful for the many blessings in my life including family, friends, and many happy clients. I am often guilty of rushing through the day and thinking only of my own immediate obligations and overlooking the needs of people who are ill-physically or otherwise, the service men & women who bravely defend our great nation all day, every day, those who, through no fault of their own, do not have enough food to eat or money to buy the bare necessities, and the list goes on. This is the time of year when we act to offer gifts, money, food, toys, or time to members of our

Joan Miller

The Blind Ladies

community who need help. Right here in South Gwinnett, there are charities such as the “Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry” and the “Grayson Children’s Fund,” not to mention the countless religious

organizations who work tirelessly year-round to assist those in need by organizing charitable events and collecting food and money. A great big THANK YOU to the many folks who make that all happen! Please consider donating to one of these organizations ALL YEAR, not just at Thanksgiving or Christmas time. My New Year’s resolution is to raise the bar and give more and to give more often than this past year. I hope if you are able that you will, too. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!

The Power of Giving Back

Carolyn Wright

Art Matters

This time of year, we feel that special tug on our hearts to do more and give more to our fellow man… ‘tis the season”! We look for ways to engage in acts of kindness to make the lives of those who need a helping hand a little better and hopefully a little brighter, especially during the holidays. We are fortunate in Gwinnett to have many outstanding organizations who work tirelessly giving of their time, talent and treasure to be of service to the community, all year long. One such dedicated group is the Lawrenceville Woman’s Club. Chartered in 1970, by the national, General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) and a member of the Georgia Federation of Women’s Clubs (GaFWC), the Lawrenceville Woman’s Club (LWC) has been serving our community nearly five decades. The LWC’s purpose is “to provide an organizational framework for its members to improve the quality of life on a local, state, national, and international level.” Over the years the LWC has provided the leadership to begin such projects as the Gwinnett Council for the Arts, Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, and the Gwinnett Hospital Auxiliary and continues to receive regional and national recognition for its service projects. Consisting of women from diverse backgrounds and interests, the Lawrenceville Woman’s Club mem-

Special Photo

The 2017 Lawrenceville Woman’s Club Fashion Show Models pictured from left to right are: Sylvia Culberson, Rachel Fowler, Allan Fowler, Marsha Schmalhorst, Phyllis Prunty, Mackensie Hallmark, Pennie Drada, Patty Watson, Margaret Colclough and Mallory Culberson.

bers come together to determine the needs of the community and then develop projects to fulfill those needs. Each year the club president establishes a motto for the club. 2017 has been the year of “Doing small things with a Big Heart” as proposed by current president, Brenda Perdue. Members participate on Community Service committees which include, the Arts, Conservation, Education, Home Life, International Outreach, and Public Issues. The committees engage in individual projects and fundraisers throughout the year but they all come together to plan and execute the club’s main annual fundraiser, which for the last few years has been a Fall Luncheon and Fashion Show. This year’s event was held November 4th in the Fellowship Hall of Bethesda United Methodist Church. Upon arrival attendees were warmly greeted by club members and then encouraged to mingle and shop the many silent auction items donated by local businesses as well as the elaborate opportunity baskets created by club members with themes such as Spa, Wine, Christmas, Family Game Night and more! Attendees also got to enjoy the festive luncheon tables; each one

decorated with a different theme by individual club members. Following lunch, the beautiful fashion show took place courtesy of Dillard’s Mall of Georgia. The exquisite attire was modeled by LWC members, family and friends. All proceeds from this lovely annual event goes back to support organizations and programs in the community. Maya Angelou said of the power of giving, “the person who receives gets the thing, but the person who gives gets the bigger blessing—your heart expands.” For almost 50 years, the women of the Lawrenceville Woman’s Club have practiced the art of giving back with style, grace and “Big Hearts” and for that, our community is a better place. To join or learn more about the Lawrenceville Woman’s Club visit: Joy and blessings to everyone this Holiday Season! Carolyn Wright is an Atlanta native and resident of Snellville, Georgia since 1987. Carolyn describes herself as a lover of art, world traveler and a student of life. She and her sister Sylvia Culberson own The LONA Gallery located on the square in Historic Downtown Lawrenceville

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Page 25

Class of 1955 Snellville High School

Photo By Emmett Clower

Seated L to R: Carol Camp, Marylyn Moon, Ann Britt, Martha Snell, Jerry Thompson, Peggy Malone, Carolyn Gaylor, Barbar Chadwick, May Buice. Second row L to R: George Brown, Thelma Brown, Marvin North, James Thompson, John Briscoe, Sarah Briscoe, Norman Malone.

Rotary’s Ongoing Christmas Spirit Detailing and Full Service now available!

Sign Up For $


Leigh McIntosh

Ringing the bell for Christmas.

Off ANY Exterior Express Wash $15 or up!

Special Photo


Lawrenceville Rotary

There is a good chance you know someone who is a member of a local Rotary club. If you are not a Rotarian, you may not realize what they do and how the Christmas Spirit is evident throughout the year. They have a goal to serve humanity by improving lives all across the planet. The mission of The Rotary Foundation is to enable Rotary members to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotary members and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of creating a better world. This support is essential to make possible projects, funded with Foundation grants, which bring sustainable improvement to communities in need. Since the work of Rotary begins in the community, The Rotary Foundation has chosen six key initiates to focus their efforts on in order to maximize results. These efforts include: PEACE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION Through partnerships with several leading universities, Rotary Peace Fellows develop the skills to strengthen peace efforts, train local leaders to prevent and mediate conflict, and support long-term peace building in areas affected by conflict. Did you know? - 90% of casualties in armed conflicts are civilians, and at least half are children. DISEASE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT Rotary aims to improve and expand access to low-cost and free health care in underdeveloped areas. Members educate and mobilize communities to help prevent the spread of major diseases such as polio, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Many projects ensure that medical training facilities are located where the workforce lives.

1245 Scenic Hwy, Lawrenceville, GA.


Special Photo

Gathering Christmas gifts for a local family

Did you know? - 1 in 6 people worldwide cannot afford to pay for healthcare. That’s over 1 billion people. WATER AND SANITATION Rotary projects give communities the ability to develop and maintain sustainable water and sanitation systems and support studies related to water and sanitation. Did you know? - 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to adequate sanitation facilities, with 783 million people living without access to clean water. MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH Rotary provides immunizations and antibiotics to babies, improves access to essential medical services, and supports trained health care providers for mothers and their children. Projects ensure sustainability by empowering the local community to take ownership of health care training programs. Did you know? - 80% of maternal deaths could be prevented with access to reproductive health services and trained health care workers. BASIC EDUCATION AND LITERACY Rotary’s goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy. Did you know? - 775 million people worldwide over the age of 15 are illiterate, with 64% of them being women. ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Special Photo

Gathering food for the food bank

Service projects enhance economic and community development and develop opportunities for decent and productive work for young and old. Rotary also helps strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly women, in impoverished communities. Did you know? - 1.4 billion people – nearly half of which are employed – live on less than $1.20 per day. Local clubs can choose service projects that serve their communities. The Rotary Club of Lawrenceville can be seen ringing the bell for the Salvation Army in December, reading to students at Lawrenceville Elementary School, gathering food for the local Cooperative Ministry and supporting a family for Christmas. If you wish to help, you can support our efforts by visiting our website at or attending a meeting on Mondays at noon at Garden Plaza in Lawrenceville. In a world with so much need, the only way to make a difference is for each of us to take responsibility for what we say and for how we treat others. December is a time of year when we count our many blessings and think about how we can bless others. In Rotary, this is a year-round endeavor, and for many people in the world, this support may mean the difference between life and death. Wishing you the best of the holiday season now and throughout the year and hope to see you on the front lines in the fight for humanity.


C a r Wa s h . c o m

Discover unique and elegant antiques for every room of your home. • Furniture • Collectibles • Housewares • Estate jewelry collection

Fond Memories

25%OFF Must present coupon. Expires 12-31-17

4850 Sugarloaf Pkwy Lawrenceville, Georgia (678) 225-5118

Open Monday-Saturday 10-6:00, Closed Sunday

Like us on

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 26


Ella Thomas

Brookwood High School

Every family has traditions that signal the beginning of the holiday season. From building gingerbread houses to picking a Christmas tree, everyone has a different idea of what is the biggest indicator of the holiday season. For me, I can say for certain that this is not just one thing, but a conjunction of many different events that lead to this feeling. One of the biggest indicators of the coming of Christmas time is decorating. Decorating for Christmas is a task that requires at least a full day of devotion to the single goal of transforming your house into a

winter wonderland. And it absolutely cannot be done without the help of a playlist of Christmas music to blare on full volume throughout the house (to get into the Christmas season, of course). Although the decorations vary from year to year based on the latest trends, there are many aspects that remain the same throughout the years. One of these is the Christmas trees. Most years, we have three large trees, each with a specific theme. For example, the first is a travel tree. Throughout the year, anywhere we travel- whether it’s together or separate, near or far- we pick up an ornament. By the time Christmas comes, we have a tree full of ornaments that are reminiscent of all of our past adventures, and many new ornaments that signify all of our recent journeys. The second Christmas tree is one that contains all of our crazy ornaments for the past 17 years (at least). This tree is my favorite because there is no rhyme or reason, and no rules. We always use a fake tree for this one, with many mismatched colored light strings (since the lights

attached to the tree went out years ago). This tree contains everything from the dog treat ornament I made in preschool, to the cheeseburger ornament that my brother and I “just had to have,” to ornaments commemorating all of the sports that I have unsuccessfully attempted in the past (which is quite a few). The final tree is huge and beautifully decorated each year in correlation with the style of the season. This tree is always a spectacle and often comes to mind when I imagine on the beautiful side of the season. I know that my favorite time of the year is near when it both looks and smells like a winter wonderland (even if Georgia weather doesn’t always get the memo). Another way that I know that the holiday season is near is by the number of baked goods strewn throughout the kitchen. I have no idea what it is about the holidays that makes me want to go crazy in the kitchen, but I’m not one to complain about it. One item, in particular, is lemon thumbprint cookies. These tiny little lemon joys have become a definitive mark of Christmas in my house. This reputation is due to the fact that they are “Santa’s favorite,” which also happens to be my Dad’s favorite (wink wink). Also, frosted sugar cookies are never a rare sight around the holiday season. Sometimes I’ll bake up to 90 at a time (somewhat accidentally), and we will all wake up the next morning to decorate them in a “creative” fashion. Although all of these cookies are impossible to eat, they have become a Christmas classic nonetheless. What seems almost like a chore most other days of the year suddenly becomes a care-free way to pass the time (that yields a delicious result). Also, watching Christmas movies is always an important way to kick off the season. There are many old favorites that are absolutely vital to watch every year (such as A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and the Polar Express), but there is one that stands out among all others as the greatest Christmas movie of all time- Elf. This complex yet simple cinematic masterpiece is the ultimate way to get into the Christmas spirit. Sure to leave you crying from a combination of laughter and joy, Elf is the decisive mark of the Christmas season in my family. No matter what it is, that gives you the feeling of the holidays or fills you with the spirit of Christmas, enjoy that feeling this holiday season. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Email me at Ella Thomas is a sophomore at Brookwood High School.

December 2017

Gwinnett County Master Gardeners Association

Start the New Year off right! Join the Gwinnett County Master Gardeners Association and learn about ‘WELCOMING BLUEBIRDS TO YOUR GARDEN.’ JUDY STOOPS, co-owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Suwanee, will offer tips on making our gardens bluebird friendly. Our meeting, Monday, January 15, 2018, will begin at 11:30 a.m., at Bethesda Senior Center, 225 Bethesda Church Road, Lawrenceville, 30044. Bring your lunch and drinks will be provided.

Oh Christmas Tree! Keep Yours from Catching on Fire

Jamey Toney, CFP®, ChFC®

Country Financial

Most of us love the wonderful, fragrant smell of a fresh-cut Christmas tree. Twinkling lights and colorful decorations add the final touches to the dark green needles. But Christmas trees can be dangerous, too. From 2005-2009, about 240 Christmas trees caught on fire each year throughout the United States. These fires caused an average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries and $16.7 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A Christmas tree can be completely engulfed by fire in less than 40 seconds, so it’s important to be cautious with your tree. To help keep you and your family safe this holiday season, I urge you to follow the Christmas tree safety tips provided below. Make sure it’s fresh • Buy a locally-grown tree. Trees transported to our area were cut earlier and are more likely to be dry. • Break a few needles. They should be flexible, moist and sticky. They should also be fragrant when crushed. If they’re not, then the tree probably isn’t very fresh. • Check the color of the tree. Some trees are sprayed with a blue-green dye. The dye is harmless, but you need to make sure the paint is not hiding a dry tree. • Shake the tree to see if green needles fall off. If they do, the tree is dry. Brown needles that fall from the inside probably fell years ago and were trapped in the tree.

• Cut about 1 inch off the base of the tree to help the water move through it (most vendors will do this for you). • Put the base in a bucket of water when you get it home. Leave it outside in a cool, shaded place until you’re ready to decorate. • Check the water level daily. A sixfoot tree should use a gallon of water every two days. Display it safely • Keep the tree in a cool room. The cooler the room, the longer the tree will stay fresh. • Don’t put the tree near heat sources that can dry it out or even ignite it. • Keep the tree away from doors and exits. If a fire occurs, the tree could block escape routes. • Secure the tree so it can’t be knocked over. • Dispose of your tree as soon as possible after Christmas. Don’t burn it in the fireplace because trees burn hot and quick. It could start a fire in your home. Trees also contain oils that could damage your fireplace. Decorate smart • Avoid using older, larger bulbs, which are hotter and dry out the tree. • Don’t use lights with frayed cords. Check all lights to make sure they are in good working condition. • Always unplug or switch off tree lights before leaving home or going to sleep. • Don’t burn candles on or around the tree. Use small light bulbs to light your tree. • Avoid overloading electrical cords. Putting more than three strands of lights together can be a fire hazard. • Avoid combustible decorations such as inflammable reflectors for colored lights, foil icicles, and tinsel. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season! Jamey Toney, CFP®, ChFC® is an exclusive multi-line agent with COUNTRY Financial. He holds a Chartered Financial Consultant designation and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER. For more information call 770-985-9757.

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Page 27

Proud to Serve

Photo provided by the Glenn Family

Photo provided by the Glenn Family

Helen Glenn celebrated her ninety-ninth birthday in August, 2017.

Photo provided by the Glenn Family

Major Glenn fell in love with Butch, the unit’s canine mascot. The enlisted officers helped her smuggle Butch out of Brussels, Belgium on a ship, stowing him away in a duffel bag with air-holes cut out of it. By Katie Hart Smith Staff Correspondent

Long-time Snellville resident, Helen Glenn celebrated her ninety-ninth birthday with family and friends in August 2017. She is proud to have served her country with pride and patriotism. A veteran of the armed forces, Veteran’s Day holds a special meaning for her. Major Glenn served in the Women’s Army Corps as an intelligence staff officer during World War II. Stationed in a town located outside of London, England, Glenn worked alongside the British allies. She taught and prepared troops for the unimaginable, how to survive if they became a prisoner of war. For four years, Glenn managed the daily operations of the intelligence staff, and her unit helped decipher secret

messages from captured Americans. WWII began in 1939 when Hitler and Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Germany, at that time, was conquering and controlling much of Europe, later forming the Axis alliance with Japan and Italy. The global war lasted for six years, involved more than thirty countries, and claimed between fifty to eighty-five million military and civilian deaths. For Glenn, surviving the German’s heavy bombing in London, referred to as the “blitz” or Blitzkrieg, was paramount. “We lived every day – day by day. We had to learn to adapt and survive,” recalled Glenn. Glenn shared an ingenious method that tried to keep the soldiers safe. “The pilots wore silk scarves and printed on the scarf was a pattern that indicated escape routes in the event their plane went down.” What was it like to serve in the all-women battalion in the European theater? “I had a strong sense of patriotism, and I knew I could be helpful. There was no reason why I shouldn’t serve my country,” Glenn added. While sharing vintage photographs, scrapbooks, articles, and memorabilia, Glenn even reflected on an invitation to attend Thanksgiving dinner at Buckingham Palace where she met King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and her family. ‘Service to country and community’ remained Glenn’s mainstay throughout her career. In the 1960s, Glenn was appointed as the Dean of Women at Mercer University. On September 29, 2017, Alpha Delta Pi headquarters invited Glenn to a luncheon to celebrate seventy-five years of membership. Initiated in 1937, Glenn became an active member of the sorority, serving as the Director of Executive Office and

Photo provided by the Glenn Family

Major Helen Glenn served in the Women’s Army Corps as an intelligence staff officer during World War II..

Grand Secretary-Treasurer from 1948 to 1957. She and her father were instrumental in finding the final destination of Alpha Delta Pi’s executive office and memorial headquarters located at 1386 Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta. Glenn smiles looking back on her military service, her role at Mercer University, and active involvement with Alpha Delta Pi sorority with pride on a life well-lived.

Helen Glenn enjoyed riding motorcycles throughout life. In 2001, Cycle World magazine featured the vintage photograph of Glenn on her Indian motorcycle at the age of fifteen. With a twinkle in her eye, she looks forward to celebrating the upcoming

holidays and her 100th birthday in 2018.

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 28

The Gwinnett Roadrunner

December 2017

“ON THE RUN” By Mar y Frazier Long VILLAGE OF HOPE

Mary Frazier Long

Gwinnett County Author, Historian QUOTABLES The best present for your children is your presence “When your children are teenagers it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is glad to see you.” Nora Ephron “I’m thankful for the three-ounce Zip-Loc bag, so I have somewhere to put my savings.” Paula Poundstone Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. IMPORTANT DECEMBER EVENTS • United States Presidents born in December were Van Buren, Johnson, and Wilson. • George Washington died on December 14, 1799. • The Continental Army camped for the winter at Valley Forge, Pa. in 1777. • James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, was born December 22, 1796. LOOKING BACK IN GWINNETT • Gwinnett County was created December 15, 1818 • The population of Lawrenceville in 1900 was 863. • In 1922 gas was 22 cents a gallon. • December 1, 1931, Alford Brothers bought McGee’s store. • The Gwinnett Journal December 7, 1921, “The municipal election in Lawrenceville reported that J.J. Baggett and G.C. Montgomery were elected councilmen.” • The Gwinnett Journal, December 23, 1941, “At a meeting of the Lawrenceville unit of Civilian Defense Corps held Monday night the completion of the organization of the unit was effected.”

Six years ago Jan Jones established The Village of Hope which gives special attention to the homeless and to children who need attention at Christmas. Jan works with counselors at Lawrenceville Elementary, Jenkins Elementary, Jordan and Moore schools to identify children who will be invited to attend the event at the Lawrenceville First Methodist Church. This year they will celebrate the season on December 21. A meal will be served, entertainment provided by Minister of Lawrenceville First United Methodist Church Dr. Royesse Stowe. Last year 162 children from 60 families took part in the special celebration and this year Jan expects to have 180 children at the party. Volunteers with the Christmas spirit are needed and anyone who will assist Jan as she works with other volunteers, please call 770-703-0737 or www.villageof

Mary Long Photo

Carter and three of his friends dressed alike for the trick or treating.

OPPORTUNITIES IN GWINNETT • Christmas Canteen is now playing at the Aurora Theatre, and this is the 22nd time that Christmas Canteen has played there. The current production is amazing, and it will be on through December 23, 2017. For ticket information call 678-226-6222. • Hope Never Rests the latest book by Katie Hart Smith, and it is a great read. • Saturday, December 9 Winn property in Dacula is open from 12-4 pm. • Monday, December 4 at 7 pm the Gwinnett County Historical Society will meet at the Historic Court house in Lawrenceville for the awards presentations and Christmas party. • The Northeast Civil War Round Table will meet on second “Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Gwinnett Museum, 455 South Perry Street in Lawrenceville. The December meeting will be December 10 and will feature an author with books available. • Story time for toddlers is presented at the Lawrenceville library on Highway 29 West at 10:30 a.m. on Monday and Wednesday. STRICKLAND RESEARCH LAB A research lab at Georgia Gwinnett College has been named in honor of Sandra and Clyde Strickland to honor the many contributions that the Strickland’s have made to the school over the years. CONGRATULATIONS TO DOUG DOBLAR Doug teaches science at Head Elementary, and he has been selected Teacher of the Year for 2018. Doug Doblar has been an educator for 15 years and has taught from kindergarten to college level. After earning his doctoral degree, Doug

Mary Long Photo

Hunk a hunk a burnin’ love.

was technology coordinator, and in 2015 he began teaching at Head Elementary. Doug attended Head as a child.

Doug Doblar CURRENT NEWS The Lawrenceville City Council will have the final 2017 meeting on December 4, 2017. The meeting will be at City Hall, 70 South Clayton Street in Lawrenceville. Council meetings are open to the public. SCHOOL HOLIDAYS GWINNETT PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL HAVE WINTER HOLIDAYS FROM DECEMBER 21, 2017 UNTIL JANUARY 3, 2018. THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL MAY 23, 2018. The Frontier Affair Gala, an event to celebrate the Gwinnett Historical Society will be held on December 15, 2017, at the Historical Courthouse in Lawrenceville. This prelude to Gwinnett’s Bicentennial will begin at 6 pm on December 15.

Jan Jones

Mary Long Photo

Beta Rho meeting at Discovery High. It was hosted by Debbie White, assistant principal at Discovery High. Beauty Baldwin was the speaker.

Mary Long Photo

Beauty Baldwin speaks at Oct. Beta Rho meeting.2017

Mary Long Photo

Debbie White, Jana Hensey, Louise Radloff. Oct.2017


Mary Long Photo

Janice Ferguson, attended the book signing. Mary Long Photo

Photo left. Author, Katie Hart Smith and Jan Babcock, President, Deeds Publishing, publisher of Katie’s “Hope Never Rests”

Mary Long Photo

Jo Freeman, Mary and Maurice Frazier in 1934.

Mary Long Photo

Maurice Frazier, Jo Freeman Brownlee and Mary Frazier Long around 2004

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Gwinnett runs on volunteers and it would be impossible to name all the generous volunteers in this county. Just a few of them are here: Mary Pickens, now deceased, and Jimmie Sosebee volunteered with the Beta Rho Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, Jimmie Mae has spent many hours volunteering in the Lawrenceville First Baptist Church choir

Page 29 ANNUAL VETERAN’S BREAKFAST Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson hosts an annual breakfast honoring military veterans, the 2017 breakfast was held on November 3 at the Lawrenceville First Baptist Church.

Delores Kenessey Photo

Terry Green, Henry McGee, Faye and David Hunt, Victor McKelvey Mary Long Photo

Bob Baroni, Phyllis Davis and Bobby Sikes spent hours in 2003/04 upgrading and putting a fence around the Historical Cemetery in Lawrenceville. Phyllis also volunteers at the Gwinnett Historical Society.

Mary Long Photo

Mary Long Photo

Tom Ewing has spent many hours vol- Harriett Nichols and Frances unteering with the Gwinnett Historical Johnson volunteer at the Gwinnett Society and with the Snellville Historical Historical Society. Society.

Delores Kenessey Photo

Veterans Billy Haney and Charles Mitchell

Mary Long Photo

Mary Long Photo

Tom Ewing with Gene Ramsay speaker at Gwinnett Historical Society in November.

Mary Long Photo

Lori Cronin with Satin, a one year old pit mix. Lori volunteers at the animal shelter many hours each week.

Mary Long Photo

Reba Bridges, Sula Clack and Grace Cain have volunteered with the Lawrenceville High School Alumni Group.

Delaina Gilmore, Charles Warbington, Dr. Jim D’Angelo and Beverly Paff, all volunteers for the Gwinnett Historical Society and Ft. Daniel.

Mary Pickens and Jimmie Sosebee.

Delores Kenessey Photo

Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson

Delores Kenessey Photo

Robert Norton and Paul Kelley

Mary Long Photo


Mary Long Photo

Retired Gwinnett County educators Jane Alexander and Reid Mullins taken at the annual luncheon for Gwinnett Retired educators held on November 3, 2017.

Mary Long Photo

Henry Froeschl and Noah Banks enjoyed Story time at the Gwinnett Library on Highway 29 in Lawrenceville.

Mary Long Photo

Storyteller to toddlers at the Lawrenceville Branch of the library.

Mary Long Photo left

Jamie Lust, storyteller at the Lawrenceville Branch of the library.

Mary Long Photo

Nancy and Steve Narrie, at North East Ga. Civil War Round Table, where Steve was president for many years..

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 30

Scents of the Season

Dear Sister Knowitall, I am looking for natural alternatives for my home for the holidays I want to avoid candles and store-bought scents if possible. Can you help? ~ Nosey Nelda Mistletoe Dear Nosey Nelda, There are so many alternatives to artificial scents for the Holidays. Here are a few simple scents of the Season; Easy Hot Apple Cider Place apples in a large stockpot and add enough water cover by at least 2 inches. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. Strain apple mixture though a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Drain cider again though a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Serve hot or cold. Homemade Christmas Potpourri 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries OR 1/2 cup dried cranberries. 2-3 cinnamon sticks crushed. 1-2 star anise optional. 1 tablespoon cardamom crushed. 2 teaspoons whole cloves. 1/4 cup candied ginger. 1 vanilla bean halved lengthwise. 1 fresh pine or 1 sprig rosemary.

Parental Insomnia (Part 3)

More Is Caught Than Taught

Jonathan Howe

Lead Pastor Graystone Church

Cindy Pitts Gilbert Sister Knowitall

Evergreen Garland or Wreaths. Nothing says Christmas like the smell of fresh pines in wreaths and swags as well as fresh-cut trees. Peppermint Use Dried Peppermint to make peppermint tea. This makes a great alternative to candy canes Make a Liquid Candle Create a custom-scented candle with a mason jar, lantern wick, and any oil that burns—even the olive oil. Add your favorite aromatics, like vanilla bean, cinnamon, clove, pinecones, or oranges. More cost-effective than a wax candle, it will both look decorative and smell delicious.

December 2017

The first step in overcoming our parental fears is to give it to God. The second building block is to be the parent that God has called us to be. Last month, we talked about focusing on God. Today, I want us to focus on ourselves. I do not mean we need to focus on ourselves selfishly. Like, we need to pamper ourselves with manis, pedis, and full body massages. I mean we need to focus on our personal growth and development. I truly believe that being a parent is the greatest and highest calling in life. God has blessed us with these children, and it is our responsibility to raise them and set them on the path that God has for their lives. For us to be the parents God has called us to be, we have to reach a certain level of spiritual growth and maturity. Here’s the deal: more is caught than taught. Even though we “preach to” and teach our kids every day, they are more than likely to do what we do and not what we say. They are going to follow our example. So, we need to strive to model for them in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

So, if our kids are following our example, we want to make sure that we are living a life worth emulating. “If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” we need to make sure we are producing the right kind of apples. I know this is a huge responsibility. Let me suggest narrowing our attention to three areas of personal growth and development. First, we need to be secure in our faith. We need to have a firm foundation and know what we believe. As James says, “we must believe and not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by wind (James 1:6). A strong faith begins with a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We grow closer to God just like we grow in any relationship, by spending time with God. God speaks to us through his word, the Bible, and we speak to God, through prayer. Prayer is just talking with God just like we would talk with a close friend. There is nothing more powerful in a child’s life than seeing his father or mother reading the Bible and on his or her knees in prayer. The second area we need to develop is a secure identity in Christ. We need to have a positive view of ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us. I hear so many parents say that they are not equipped to raise their kids. And quite honestly, none of us are. But our confidence comes from the Lord. He is the one who has blessed us with these kids, and He will equip us to be the parent He has called us to be. Our security or insecurity directly relates to our effectiveness as parents. When our security is in Christ, resulting in a healthy view of ourselves, it will help us lead our kids in every area of their lives. Lastly, we need to have solid Christlike character. Our character, good or bad, will be passed down to our children.

More is caught than taught. They are watching our every move. So, we need to be men and women of integrity. We need to strive to exemplify the Fruits of the Spirit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It takes a long time to develop strong, Christ-like character. And this is not an area of our lives we can fake or put on a show. Our kids see us every day, and we cannot fool them. They know if we are walking the talk or simply giving lip service. I think we all like the idea that our strengths will be passed on to our kids. But not only will they receive some of our strengths, but they will also pick up some of our weaknesses as well. As we strive to be the parents that God has called us to be, let’s focus on these three areas. Let’s commit to growing as close to God as we can, develop a strong self-worth based on our identity in Christ, and exemplify the character qualities of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. More is caught than taught. Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church. Locations include the Ozora Campus: 1551 Ozora Road Loganville, GA 30052, the Walton Campus: 723 N Broad St Monroe, GA 30655 and the Oconee Campus: 1275 Lenru Road Bogart, GA 30622. Phone: (770) 466-3159 Email: Website: Blog: Twitter: @JohnnyHowes

Vote- and Take At Least One Woman With You

Simmering Pot Get a pot of water simmering on the stove or the small, inexpensive simmering crock pots. Drop in a combination of natural aromatics like cinnamon stick, pine, orange peel, or cloves. Real Beeswax Candles Few things smell as heavenly as beeswax, with its potent honey scent. It’s a smell that never loses its charm and provides excellent alternative to the artificial candles. Cinnamon Few things bring out the warmth and comfort of the Christmas season like the smell of cinnamon: try in mulled cider or hot chocolate, Orange and Cloves The delicious combination of orange to make pomanders to set out in bowls at Christmas. Pre-punch the holes in the orange with an awl or knitting needle, and the cloves should go right in. Evergreen

Christmas with Essential Oils Many of these scents can be mixed and diffused or sprinkled on pinecones or clay balls or even potpourri: Pine, Cinnamon, Peppermint, Frankincense, Myrrh, Clove, Sweet Orange, Nutmeg, Anise, Sweet Ginger, Cedarwood. All of these are a pleasant scents to diffuse throughout the entire winter season to make your home feel like a cozy and inviting retreat from the harsh cold weather outside. Cindy Pitts Gilbert is the Home Remedy Guru of the Blog Sister Knowitall: sisterknowitall.blogspot. com. She has been learning about natural home remedies after she developed allergic reactions to chemicals in household cleaning products. Send your questions to Tips are based on Cindy’s experiences, as well as “old wives tales” and local lore. They are not to be considered medical advice.

Dave Emanuel

Cut to the Chase

Each time an election rolls around, I find myself wondering how to best perform my civic duty to vote. I always figured that my sole responsibility was simply to cast a ballot; the decision is whether to vote early or wait for election day. But some time ago, I received an e-mail that prompted me to consider another option. The authors of this e-mail were two women, let’s call them Anne and Amy, who were members of a group that proposes to make Georgia better by espousing a political philosophy with which I don’t agree. (How I got on their mailing list is still a mystery.) In any event, Anne and Amy were kind enough to acknowledge that they know I’m busy. Then they went on to tell me that they are busy too. That set me wondering. I don’t know these people; I don’t know how they got my e-mail address and how do they know I’m busy? I also have to wonder why they would

think I care if they are too? Perhaps they were trying to establish that we had happiness in common, seeing as how busy hands are reputed to be happy hands. And it naturally follows that if your hands are happy, so is your whole being. Or perhaps they were just citing busyness in an attempt to bond with me. If we’re both busy then there, we are standing on common ground, holding hands and soon to be bursting out with a few verses of Kumbaya. And I suppose they thought, if we can both take time off from being busy to hold hands and sing, we could have other things in common too. Having established what they assumed to be our common pursuits, they moved on to their suggestion that had me reevaluating my voting options. Their message was that they didn’t care when I voted, but when I did, they wanted me to, (I’m not making this up) “Vote, and take at least one woman with you.” Although they mentioned mothers, daughters, and sisters, they didn’t indicate that I should be particularly discerning in who I should drag to the polls. That prompted me to wonder whether I should select a woman I already know, hire a professional or just pick one at random. Were it not so insulting on so many levels; I would have found their request amusing. Apparently, being a man, they assumed I would jump at the chance to don my finest “wife-beater” shirt, (which was hopefully back from the cleaners) find a woman, (who hopefully wasn’t car-

rying pepper spray, mace or a firearm) and proclaim, “Me man, you woman. You come with me. We vote.” While the concept of cavemen dragging women to the ballot box might work as a plot for a comedy skit, it fails miserably in real life. At least with the women, I know. I can’t think of one who would not be highly insulted at the mere suggestion that she couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to get to the polls without masculine direction or supervision. It’s just a guess, but I’m sure the inspiration for Anne and Amy’s e-mail was the thought that the majority of the women who were dragged to the polls would vote in favor of their agenda. That’s more than a little ironic because women’s concerns indeed wouldn’t be at the top of the list of any Neanderthal who would be inspired by an e-mail message to drag a woman off to the polls. I’m sure in their zeal to get voters to the polls, Anne and Amy were oblivious to the insulting nature of their message. And it isn’t only women who should be offended. I find it insulting that they think, A- that I would drag any woman off to vote, or anywhere else for that matter, and B- that in the 21st Century, that any reasonable man would even consider coercing a woman to vote. And something else bothers me. In their e-mail, Anne and Amy say they had recently voted. Surely, they were taken to the polls by men, yet they didn’t give credit to the men who took them. I wonder how they got there.

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Dancing with the Demons

Jack Power

The POWER of Words Going to the doctors with me is a bit like a soap opera, it’s probably a little dramatic, and something is usually wrong. You see I have a mild condition of Cerebral Palsy, not so severe as to make it unable to speak but critical enough not to walk and deal with aches and pains every day. It’s as if God said; we’re going to screw you over in your own special way. Buckle up kid it’s going to be a bumpy ride. He wasn’t lying; as of this writing, I’ve had seven operations. Including hip, knee, eye, and foot. It has been eight years since my last surgery. I celebrate, a year away from the operating table like a drug addict or alcoholic celebrate sobriety; you take it one day at a time. Well, that celebration could soon

be over as about three weeks ago; I felt the tweak in my right leg while transferring… to the TOILET. (Yes I have no shame!) Initially, I thought it was a simple injury, but I was more wrong than I was about the elect ability of a particular orange haired individual. Both were horrible calculations, which I regret deeply; I digress. The doctor comes in, looking like Johnny Bravo hit 45. For those who don’t know who that is, he was a cartoon character in the 90s. Winks at my mother, I’m thinking, go ahead buddy shoot your shot but maybe not the best time; a total Weinstein wannabe. It turns out for the past eight years since my first hip operation, my right hip is out of alignment, and I have very little cartilage. He’s suggesting a Cortisone shot for my first round of treatment. I have yet to have a shot, as he wants to be sure the pain is coming from the hip. In my world that meant, we don’t think you’re crazy, but you might be. As if I don’t know my own body better than anyone else. I’m also deathly afraid of needles my one true phobia. I will eventually need to have the hip operation, but hey that’s my life, pain has no reason a season it just occurs. Jack Power is attends Georgia Gwinnett College.

Page 31

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 32

December 2017

Health, Beauty & Wellness 6 Healthy Ways To Sleigh Holiday Stress With the holidays just around the corner, you know the drill—holiday songs on every radio station, festive parties to attend and special gifts to find. Heck, just reading this article, you can probably feel the stress starting to grow, right along with your to-do list. And if miraculously getting everything done wasn’t enough, you’re expected to be merry and jolly all season long or risk being called a Scrooge. So, is there anything you can do to put a ho-ho-hold on these seasonal stressors? According to Barbara Joy Jones, DO, a primary care physician at GMG’s Gwinnett Family Medical Care in Snellville, here are six easy things you can do to stay feeling holiday-obsessed instead of seasonally-stressed. 1. Get organized. Oftentimes,

trying to keep track of everything you need to do by memory alone can be anxiety-inducing on its own, let alone during the holidays. We tend to overthink things, going over them again and again, which only amplifies things and makes them feel more stressful. Takeaway Tip: The next time you have a few minutes to spare, sit down, think through everything you need to do and write it down. 2. Stick to your routines. Whenever you’re stressed out and tight on time, healthy habits tend to fall by the wayside. But the holidays are no time to change-up your schedule as this may only worsen stress. Takeaway Tip: Whether it’s sticking to your diet and going to your usual exercise class or simply just

brushing your teeth before bed, these habits will help you—and your body— handle stress. 3. Give your presence instead of presents. With so much to do and so little time, it’s easy to develop a justget-it-done mindset instead of actually enjoying the moment. Takeaway Tip: Try to focus on one thing at a time and be mindful about what you are doing while you are doing it. You’ll enjoy the time you spend with your friends and family more and so will they. 4. Give back. It isn’t just gifts that you should be giving this holiday season. Whether it’s your time, energy or money, giving back to your community can make a big difference—and not just for those you’re helping. In fact, studies have shown that generosity and compassion can support overall health and longevity. Takeaway Tip: If you feel like time is just too tight, remember that even one small random act of kindness can go a long way. 5. Don’t overdo it. We’ve all been guilty of getting caught-up in the moment and spending more than we planned on. After all, you can’t find the perfect gift just anywhere - right? Unfortunately, though, overspending can be a major stressor that sticks with you even after the holidays have long gone.

Special Photo

Takeaway Tip: Don’t be afraid to be honest. Try recommending an amount or price limit so no one feels like they are over-spending or being out-gifted. You can also plan to exchange gifts after the holidays are over, when there is no shortage of sales, specials and deals. 6. Don’t go it alone. No matter how hard you try, there’s simply no way you can do everything on your own this holiday season—something has to give. But it doesn’t have to be your health. Takeaway Tip: Work with your

primary care provider to address all of your unique health needs. As the expert that knows you best, they can help you to navigate this stressful time of year and overcome the season’s biggest health hazards. Gwinnett Medical Group is your partner in good health this holiday season. With convenient locations, knowledgeable providers and an extensive range of services, you can count on GMG for all of your winter health needs. To find a location near you, visit

December 2017

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 33

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 34

December 2017

Parkwood Farms Therapy Center

Photo By Stephen Brust

Parkwood Farms Equestrian Team Georgia Special Olympics 2017 By Dennis McGowan Staff Correspondent

It has been almost sixteen years since a small barn, and riding area was built on a few open acres on the southwest side of Snellville. It started as the site of therapeutic interaction between three specially selected and trained horses and 22 riders with a range of emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties and disabilities. Parkwood Farms Therapy Center, founded by Dr. Marilyn Peterson, specializes in equine assisted activities and therapeutic riding for children and

young adults with special needs. From its modest beginnings, it has grown to include a covered arena, an outdoor dressage ring, perimeter fencing, mounting platforms, hay and feed barn, a wash rack for horses, wheelchair access ramps in both arenas and a “Parent Corral” seating area. Lights and a sound system were added to the covered arena, and an almost mile-long trail system now winds through the woods. A broad spectrum of people with special needs is served at the Center. Since its opening in 2002 over 1800 riders have benefitted from the therapies provided at Parkwood. The history of the improvements that accompany horse therapies is over 300 years old and have been demonstrated to help mildly to profoundly handicapped individuals. Equine Assisted Activity participants can be as young as two years of age, and their participation is an exercise in safety first. All riders are supervised by a horse leader and one or two side walkers or spotter, depending on the level of skill and ability. Parkwood Farms growth is not limited to the physical additions to the property. Its mission has also grown, dramatically, and a variety of therapeutic programs are today included in the offer-

ings of the Therapy Center. The initial Hippotherapy/Equine Assisted Activities were expanded and augmented with Therapeutic Riding, and the Center is home to a Special Olympics Equestrian team. Therapeutic Riding addresses a different set of skills and leads to increased freedom, purpose and independence. It focuses on strength, balance and coordination, all as responses to the movements of the horses, to improve muscle tone, flexibility, awareness and physical response to enhance confidence and increase self-esteem. In some cases, the effects of riding have been profound. Individuals who, as children, had been unable to walk, can now run and jump as a result of the therapeutic effects that result from the rhythm of the horse’s gait. Sessions typically last about a half hour from the initial assisted mount to the dismount. Each rider’s needs are included in the formula for the day’s ride. For some, the benefit is directly linked to the movements of the horse. For others, it can be the peaceful riding environment and the sound of the horses’ hooves on the wooden bridge. The sights, sounds, and smells of nature are sometimes supplemented by sensory exercises on the decorated wooded trail. Therapeutic riding has a different focus, more in line with traditional horseback skills. Walking, halting, trotting and backing up among the exercises that allow the rider to control the horse, with a goal of independent ridership. Benefits from this type of advanced therapy include improved posture, self-control and problem-solving. Achieving success in this venue directly benefits a rider’s listening and communication skills, sensory awareness, concentration, and patience. Mastery of independent riding is a significant contributor to a real sense of accomplishment. Decorative elements of the Center’s

Special Photo

Molly at work (Molly is the horse)

Photo By Stephen Brust

Peyton Brust was a double Silver Medalist in the 2017 Georgia Special Olympics

trails are designed to serve as an additional stimulus to the rider’s senses. The trail winds past a goat barn, a chicken coop, decorative butterflies, frogs, flamingos, hummingbirds and a curtain of soft foam pool noodles. All of these provide opportunities for discussion about colors, shapes, animal recognition and counting. Walkers who accompany each rider on the trail engage in talks to add to the therapeutic experience. The walkers, as well as other members of the Center’s volunteer army, are also beneficiaries of the equine experience. One of the volunteers, Wally, offered that “I get more from the riders than I could ever give them.” That spirit is a contagious thread throughout the staff.

Special Photo

So much fun it doesn’t feel like therapy.

Special Photo

Lucy at the noodles (Lucy is the horse)

Dr. Peterson is determined to see the programs at Parkwood Farms continue to grow and prosper even in the face of the daunting cost of maintaining the Center. Donations of building materials, gravel, sand, and fencing would support that goal. Basic maintenance for each of the horses runs into the hundreds of dollars a day. The cost of hay alone is substantial. Anyone wishing to help support Parkwood Farms can contribute directly to the therapy center or go to https:// to donate. In addition to financial support, the Center welcomes volunteers who wish to contribute their time and energy.

Understanding CTE

Paige Havens

The Concussion Discussion

In the sports world, there’s quite a buzz about CTE, so I think it’s something we should chat about it. Recent medical studies released have parents paying closer attention to this discussion and asking questions about the well being of their children that play youth sports. Let’s take a look at what CTE is and what we know about it. CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) is a degenerative brain disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. CTE was first identified in 1928 and was known as dementia pugilistic or “punch drunk syndrome” associated with boxing. In 2002 Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered and published findings of a similar degenerative disease (CTE) in the brains of former pro

football players. His discovery prompted researchers to explore what other vulnerable populations there might be to this medical condition, such as military veterans. The Concussion Legacy Foundation, one of the leading institutions funding CTE research, reports on their website that the best evidence available today suggests CTE is not caused by any single injury, but instead it is caused by years of regular, repetitive brain trauma. Most people with CTE suffered hundreds or thousands of head impacts over the course of many years, not just a handful of concussions. The evidence further shows sub-concussive impacts or hits to the head that don’t cause full-blown concussions, as the most significant factor. In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death through brain tissue analysis. What this means is that the only brains we are studying are those of people who choose to donate their brains for post-mortem examination to support this research. The majority of brains being donated are those of former athletes and military personnel because of the strong connections found in these professions. As we read studies that report that 99% of studied brains from deceased NFL players have CTE, we need to keep those numbers in perspective.

That was a study of just 202 brains of a very specific population of people. We can’t assume that everyone that plays football or serves in the military will suffer from CTE. The reality is there are many individuals who suffer years of head impacts but do not develop CTE. Research has yet to determine who is susceptible and who is not. It’s like trying to predetermine who will develop cancer over their lifetime or not. Researchers and physicians are only beginning to understand CTE. As parents struggle with the decision to let their children play sports because of the threat of CTE, I encourage you to act on the best available evidence today. What we know is that there is a risk we need to be aware of, but there is still much to learn. We need to take concussions more seriously, recognizing they are traumatic brain injuries. We need to know the signs and symptoms, get baseline tests, and be more diligent about making sure our children play in environments that take concussion seriously. We need to make sure their equipment fits right, they are learning safe techniques, and be sure we aren’t asking more of our kids on the field than their bodies can safely handle. There are so many great benefits to youth sports that help them live healthy, happy lives. Don’t shy away. But be mindful of the research as concussion science evolves and be head smart!

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

Page 35

Neurosurgery 101 Chiari malformation (a congenital condition where a portion of the brain protrudes from the skull into the spinal canal), an obstruction of the spinal fluid pathways, or cranial nerve disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia, and many other conditions. However, many headaches such as migraines or tension headaches are not caused by a structural abnormality and are instead treated by a medical neurologist.

Special Photo

Michael T. Stechison, MD, PhD

By Michael T. Stechison, MD, PhD Neurosurgery Atlanta at Eastside Medical Center Q. What conditions do neurosurgeons treat? A. Any structural disorder of the nervous system including the brain, the spine, and the peripheral nerves. This includes brain tumors, hemorrhages, trauma, fractures, blood vessel disorders, nerve and nerve root compression, disc herniations, vertebral fractures, nerve entrapments, just to list a few. Q. If I have back pain, and my primary care physician sends me to the neurosurgeon, does that mean I am having surgery? A. No. There are many causes of back pain, and most back pain gets better with conservative treatment. After a diagnosis is made from history, neurological examination, and imaging, I usually start with nonsurgical treatments including anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and sometimes epidural steroid injections. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal themselves if we are patient. If these methods fail to provide relief, surgery may be necessary. Depending on the diagnosis, sometimes urgent surgery can be required to preserve nerve function, especially if there is weakness or bowel or bladder dysfunction. Q. I am an athlete. If I have spinal surgery, will I be able to return to my sport? A. Many of my patients are athletes. Being a marathon runner and weight lifter myself, I recognize the importance recreational sports have in the physical and emotional wellbeing of my patients. It is a priority for me whenever possible to select a treatment plan and surgical options that will most likely allow my athletic patients a chance to maximally improve and get back to their active lifestyle. Q. Do neurosurgeons treat headaches? A. Neurosurgeons treat headaches that have a structural basis such as brain tumors, a

Q. I have a herniated lumbar disc and have been told I have sciatica. How long would recovery be if I had surgery to treat this condition? A - When I operate on lumbar disc herniations, I typically make an incision that is just under 1 inch long. I remove the herniated portion of the disc using a microscope which allows for minimal disturbance of spinal tissues. The surgery takes approximately 1 hour. A band-aid is placed over the incision, and I have my patients walking 1 hour postoperatively. Patients either go home the same day or may stay overnight. Depending on the physical requirements of the job, patients may return to work in a few days. Q. My cousin was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. How should she select a neurosurgeon to treat it? A. This is a very important decision. Not all neurosurgeons routinely operate on brain tumors, and some have more experience than others. It is important to ask your neurosurgeon how many brain tumor surgeries they have performed, how long they have been in practice, and how many surgeries they have performed on the specific type of tumor your cousin has. Some tumors are malignant and may not be cured with surgery. In these cases, technical skill and experience are essential to provide as complete a surgical resection as possible. This is proven to directly impact patient survival and quality of life. Other brain tumors may be benign and are curable with surgery; however, some benign tumors may be in dangerous locations. Having a technically skilled and experienced surgeon with a record of successful outcomes is vital. Q. What sets you apart from other neurosurgeons? A. In addition to training in neurosurgery, I simultaneously obtained a PhD in Experimental Neuroanatomy. This fostered a career-long interest in using anatomical knowledge to expand the boundaries of my brain tumor and general neurosurgery practice beyond what I was trained to do in neurosurgical residency. I started my career in academic practice with an interest in dangerous brain

tumors occurring at the skull base. The first of my three decades of practice was primarily focused on brain tumors involving the skull base. I was privileged to serve as the Neurosurgical Director of the Center for Cranial Base Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. I was fortunate to have been hired by and served with my partner, Dr. Peter Jannetta who refined and popularized the microvascular decompression operation for trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm. This partnership with Dr. Jannetta provided valuable input and perspective to my practice as a young neurosurgeon with a strong interest in cranial nerve disorders. I spent a significant portion of my early career working to introduce and promote neurophysiological monitoring techniques during surgery to make surgery of the brain and spine safer. I was licensed by the FDA as an early investigator of magnetic stimulation of the brain to monitor the motor pathways under anesthesia. I developed a technique to electrically map the trigeminal nerve root at the brainstem during surgery. This directs the surgeon to the precise point on the nerve that corresponds to the site of the facial pain. I also developed a procedure used during surgery to electrically monitor parts of the vagus nerve to protect the fibers that supply the vocal cords. In addition I developed a formulation for a protein glue made from a patient’s own blood. This was widely used to prevent and treat cerebrospinal fluid leaks

before commercial products were developed for this purpose. I was one of the early users of image-guidance technology in its developmental stages, and I collected data from large numbers of skull base tumor surgeries which helped to establish the role of this technology in brain tumor surgery. I was also the first neurosurgeon to use the digitized frameless stereotactic brain biopsy needle currently known as Stealth on the day the FDA approved this technique for use in the United States. When Dr. Stechison isn’t working

he spends time running, biking, boating, and at the gym. He enjoys playing the piano and performing along with his wife, a drummer, and their band Nervous Habit. For more information, please call Neurosurgery Atlanta at (770) 8093292 or visit

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 36

December 2017

CARLIN VISION continued from page 1

CarlinVision is located on Lenora Church Rd in Snellville.

Special Photo

Special Photo

Dr. Richard Carlin in the 1990s

Special Photo

The early years, Dr Richard Carlin with his young son David.

came to Gwinnett from up north on a misconception. He stayed, despite not knowing anyone besides his wife, and opened his practice in an area that had no eye care facility anywhere close. In fact, in 1977 there was not much of anything in the city limits of Snellville. In his first week of operation, Richard saw 39 patients. In between patient appointments, he would change out of his tie and lab coat and wallpaper the bathroom

himself. From that first week until today, Richard has confronted every step with the same plan: 1) give the patient a better, personal experience; and 2) just do whatever needs to be done to make #1 happen. Carlin Vision now has seven doctors to serve their patients. One of them is Dr. Richard Carlin’s son, Dr. David Carlin, who joined the practice in 2004. The mutual love and respect between father and son,

even in this professional setting, is just as refreshing and comforting as the coffee and chairs in the office waiting area. David says of his decision to follow his dad’s profession and business, “My dad is my best friend and my hero. I always knew I wanted to be a physician but tried to keep an open mind for which direction I would take. When it was finally time to decide on a specialty in med school, I knew that I would never find a better mentor than my dad. I knew that working with my best friend and hero every day would be my best decision.” The respect is entirely mutual. Hearing them talk to and about each other was like a big, verbal group hug. It was heartwarming and was evidence that their feelings about their work were inseparable from their feelings for each other. Their drive to respect and care for their patients grows from the kind of respect and care they will always give each other.

Special Photo

David Carlin MD with his father and founder Richard Carlin MD of Carlin Vision

We have been conditioned to accept the norm for doctor visits of any kind to look like this: sign in, sit down, wait, talk through glass to fill out forms, sit down, wait, get called back, get evaluated by a disenchanted nurse who seems to inevitably add that extra 3 pounds on the scale for her own pleasure, get ushered to the exam room, answer the same questions that you just wrote down on the forms, wait, wait, wait some more while you hear the doctor talk about lunch plans for 5 minutes, feel your blood pressure double, wait some more, finally see the doctor for a rushed 8 minutes, spend the whole drive home trying to shake off the herded cattle feeling and try to remember if the doctor actually suggested anything that would make you feel better. Sound familiar? Maybe parts? Maybe the entire thing? Dr. Carlin’s Vision for his practice is for his patients never to feel shuffled through the system while under his care. Their motto, “Advanced eye care with a hometown touch” is a litmus test for every decision they make. Every detail of the patient experience is to help every individual feel cared-for. When asked about challenges in the past or hurdles they may face in the future, the answer was the same—they figure out how to keep their quality consistently better than expected. It does not matter what headaches insurance companies may conjure in the future, a patient at Carlin Vision will not feel any decline in their experience. Beyond the full Optical Boutique and Contact Lens Department to cover all of your lens needs, Carlin

also has a Lasik Surgery department and cataract department for laser cataract surgery and even lens replacement. Carlin Vision also has a Cosmetic Department and offers cosmetic and prescription Botox and Latisse. Cosmetic or medically necessary eyelid surgery is also available. There is also a separate building just next door dedicated entirely to surgery and servicing the patient and loved ones at all stages of the process. If it involves your eyes in any way, Carlin Vision can take care of any possible medical or cosmetic needs. If there is a procedure you need and have been dreading, go to Carlin Vision and feel the difference of care they can offer you. If there is a voluntary service you have been considering, have a consultation with one of the experts at Carlin Vision. Their philosophy and service will earn your trust to work toward your best eye health and beauty. Both Dr. David and Richard Carlin lead their whole practice in better healthcare. Better patient experience is paramount and the first question to answer in every detail. They also want your eye health to begin before you even walk through the doors. When asked what they as doctors want you as patients to know and do for your eye health, the answer was “Eat healthy (lots of green leafy vegetables), exercise, lower stress, and don’t smoke.” If we all implement those healthy habits, our entire body and mind, not just our eyes, will benefit and flourish. For more details about any of the products and services offered at Carlin Vision, visit or call 770-979-2020.

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

A Teenage Holiday Season

Soraya Bagheri

Grayson High School Everyone’s favorite time of the year is here, Christmas, New Years, whatever your holiday maybe! The festive season is approaching quickly. And this month I want to let you all into the world of a high schooler’s perspective on the holidays. To begin the holiday season, we are first of all out of school! Which is hands down alone, something to be excited about regardless of the holidays. We get two weeks off of no exams, homework, study guides, and of course waking up at 6:30. Right after being let out of school is Christmas! Christmas is by far my favorite holiday (besides the Fourth of July). Not just, because of the presents, but it’s the only time of the year that counts as a good excuse to put up

lights, listen to my favorite, Michael Buble Christmas albums, watch Christmas movies, decorate the tree. Along with some of my favorite parts of Christmas that I listed above, is the food. Christmas in my house comes with 2 of my most favorite meals of the year… besides Chickfil-a! In the morning, my mom makes Christmas breakfast, and later that day is Christmas dinner. When I was younger, just like every other kid, presents were the absolute best part of Christmas. However, as of now, just taking the time to spend time with family has become more special. In a fast and busy world, it’s hard to match everyone’s schedule to find a time to spend together. However, every Christmas Eve my family all meets in one house to eat, play board games, exchange gifts, and read The Christmas Story. It’s moments and times like those I’ve learned to value over the latest iPhone, clothes, shoes, whatever it may be. As I said earlier, we only get two weeks off of school. In that time, I also like to spend time with my friends. Every year one of my closest friends has a Christmas party, and ever since elementary school, we have exchanged ornaments within the group of our friends, made some craft, and took pictures for Instagram of course! Along with the Christmas party, I love

getting my friends together and going ice skating. My favorite place to go is Avalon in Alpharetta or the small ice rink in downtown Conyers. And last but not least… decorating gingerbread houses. It typically becomes a competition of who can decorate the best one. However, everyone’s usually ends in a complete mess!! Moving on from Christmas is New Years. And for most high schoolers or any student, New Year’s not only starts the countdown for 2018 but for the days that we start school again. Just like everyone else, my friends and I spend the night waiting for the ball to drop and taking time to make new year resolutions. Within the final stretch of the break, I try to spend as much time as I can, getting the most sleep, and spending as much time with family and friend. Overall just enjoying the time spent away from school. And just like that, the holiday season and break is over. And that’s what’s going around with the holiday season of teens! I wish everyone a safe holiday’s, and Merry Christmas! Any questions, comments of recommendations email What Goes Around at: And that’s what’s going around! Soraya Bagheri is a freshman at Grayson High School.

Live Local, Shop Local, Support Local Thank you to all our advertisers and community partners.

Contact the GWINNETT CITIZEN today to share your community news & inquire about advertising and partnering. (770) 963-3699 • •

Page 37

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 38

December 2017

LIFE continued from page1 the wrong crowd and stared using. By 17 he was in trouble with the law and ultimately went to jail. It was there, at 20 years old, that he made the decision to get clean and not let drugs define his life anymore. Twelve years into his recovery, he had no idea that drugs would circle back into his life. Unbeknownst to him, his younger sister, Brittany, was struggling with addiction. He knew she occasionally smoked marijuana and took some pain pills for a bad back, but he had no idea those pain pills had drawn her into a deep addiction. The family started to notice a rapid decline in her well being. Then she overdosed and luckily survived. It was then they learned about the deep darkness of her heroin addition. The family didn’t know how to help her. The heroin had a far bigger grip on her than anything Brett had experienced himself.

On March 15, 2014 the Bramble family got the call they prayed they’d never get. Brittany had overdosed again and didn’t survive. As Brett stood to speak before friends and family at her funeral he felt the need to share more about the pain of addition. Brett tells, “Brittany always had a heart to help others. I knew that she’d want others to learn from her walk.” To deal with his grief, Brett began to search for ways to do just that – help others. He was astounded to learn that 175 people a day in the U.S. die from drug overdose. Those deaths impact thousands, of people. Brett knew first-hand the lack of awareness, stigma, and agony that exists for those dealing with addiction. Not just the addicts, but their families too. His started by engaging with local advocacy groups. He told his and Brittany’s stories to anyone that

would listen. He helped raise money and awareness every chance he got. But he wanted to do more. An idea began to stir in Brett that seemed rather crazy at first. He felt the call to walk across America to reach a broader audience of people. Brett said he told his family, “This is what my heart is telling me to do.” And they embraced his mission. Brett had no idea how he would do it, but he was determined to figure it out. He spent the next ten months preparing. On the 2nd anniversary of Brittany’s death, Brett laced up his shoes in Lewes, Delaware and began walking towards San Francisco, CA. Eight months, 5 pairs of shoes, and 3,200 miles later he arrived at his final destination. He has many stories to share of people he stopped and talked with along his journey. Brett shared, “Every time I got close to breaking, someone would share words of inspiration and hope that made me keep going. I met so many families who had lost loved ones and they thanked me for what I was doing to help. It was amazing.” As Brett took life at three miles per hour, walking 20 miles a day, he

Special Photo

Overdose Deaths in US

had lots of time to think. He began to vision a transitional homestead retreat center where people in recovery and others with a troubled past could go to heal, strengthen and rebuild their lives. When he came home he put a business plan together and established a non-profit called Freedom to Grow (www. with a mission to build such a place. His next step is to raise the money to buy the land. To do that, he’s going to take on another crosscountry walk, with a focus on fundraising. This time he will travel with a group of five. Three on the team are in recovery. Three are from Gwinnett and two from Missouri. Two are U.S. Veterans and one is a 59 year-old stand up comic that promises to bring smiles along the miles. On January 27, 2018 Brett and team will begin their 6-month walk along the East Coast Greenway,

Special Photo

The East Coast Greenway

which spans 2,400 miles from Key West, Florida to Calais, Maine. Brett invites everyone to follow them online at While Brett doesn’t look forward to the physical strain of the walk, he says, “I’m excited to keep the conversation going on this important issue. It’s amazing to wake up every day and know exactly which direction you are headed with such a clear goal and purpose.”

Christmas 2017, Maybe the Your Best Christmas Ever!

Rev. Robert Thompson

Chapel Woods Presbyterian Church

When Christmas Season comes around we should be reminded of the glorious scene in the dead of night before a group of shepherds watching their flock. Wonder if we knew this time was our last Christmas as we know it. Would we treat it any differently? Would it mean any more to us this time? Hear again Luke 2:13-14 which states: “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’” (NASB) These words from the heavenly host are short but full of eternal importance for us “men.” So eternal and so important to us that it bears the particular necessity of understanding our relationship to the Lord God Himself. All men on the earth are told through this proclamation: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Peace with God

through His grace to His people is the message of Christmas! With so much ill will towards our fellow men around us today, so many countries in turmoil and reports of growing unrest and disasters, remembering this glorious truth declared in praise to our Lord God is an essential foundation for our Christmas joy! A joy that is everlasting and present for us now especially during this Christmas Season. “Peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Peace among men because God made it possible for man to appease Him by receiving the offering of the Lord Jesus. Glorious! Joyous! The Lord Christ was given to suffer and die for your sins instead of your having to pay for them. Make peace with God and receive life eternal! Day after day so many people are losing their souls, pursuing their selfwill and greed in rebellion against Almighty God! I encourage you especially this time of year, especially this year, to focus your attention on the above event that can ensure your relationship with the Heavenly Father. This may very well be the last time we will have the freedom and resources to enjoy Christmas as we know it. Christmas is the season to receive His peace. Receive the Christ and call on His name for the forgiveness of your sins and He will be pleased. May we who have already received this gift, this “Good News” make sure all those we are around are given the opportunity to receive it! Let us strive to make peace and rec-

oncile family members and friends that need to receive the Peace with God through Jesus Christ. Like never before may we pursue goodwill, not ill will, towards our fellow man because of peace with God. Christ Jesus the best Christmas present ever! There is no other peace or hope available to man except through this best gift. This is Christmas! May you and your family enjoy Christmas this year like none before, with the Glory to God, peace with God through His grace in the gift of Christ. May you offer this gift to all you know and all you are around this Christmas Season. May this be your best Christmas ever! Robert Thompson has been the senior pastor of Chapel Woods Presbyterian Church in Snellville since May 2003. He graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary in 1986. Robert is also Chairman of the Board of Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship. He and his wife Wanda have been married for 43 years. They have three adult daughters, Amanda and twins Rebecca and Sarah. Amanda is married to Jerry Jones and they have three daughters of their own. Rebecca is married to Wesley Payton; they have two sons. Sarah is married to Mark Magdziarz and they have two daughters and two sons. Chapel Woods Presbyterian Church 3800 Lenora Church Rd., Snellville, GA 30078 web: e-mail: phone: 770 978 1445

December 2017

The Gwinnett Citizen

Page 39

Page 40

The Gwinnett Citizen

December 2017

December 2017 Gwinnett Citizen: Snellville, Lawrenceville, Grayson, Lilburn, Loganville  

December 2017 Gwinnett Citizen: Snellville, Lawrenceville, Grayson, Lilburn, Loganville

December 2017 Gwinnett Citizen: Snellville, Lawrenceville, Grayson, Lilburn, Loganville  

December 2017 Gwinnett Citizen: Snellville, Lawrenceville, Grayson, Lilburn, Loganville