Friday, October 31, 2008

Johns Creek resident decorates 7 rooms in themes for Halloween

Upon arriving at Darlene Pawlukowsky's St. Ives home, Halloween is all around you. From gravestones to life-size skeleton statues in the front yard, decorations greet you before coming to the front door.

Once inside, Pawlukowsky's home is filled with witches, potions, skeletons and other Halloween decorations. Seven rooms are completely decked out in the holiday theme.

Pawlukowsky said she has handmade several pieces, and picked up others at thrift stores. She has put a personal touch on nearly every decoration - painting, gluing and crafting items to make the rooms complete.

It takes her about a month to erect the themed rooms and each year she continues to add more to each display.

She said she's been decorating for Halloween for several years and each year she has friends and their children tour the home to admire it all.

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Roswell, Alpharetta link their greenways

From Old Milton Parkway to Old Alabama Road, walkers, hikers and bikers can enjoy pristine areas of North Fulton along Big Creek now that Alpharetta and Roswell have linked their two trails.

For years, the two cities have worked on trails for walkers, joggers and cyclists, Roswell at its Big Creek Park between Mansell and Old Alabama roads and Alpharetta with its Big Creek Greenway, which stretches from Mansell to Webb Bridge roads.

It had always been a dream more than a plan to link the two and open up trails for just about the entire North Fulton area. Saturday, Oct. 25, the dream became a reality when the combined trail system, christened Big Creek Greenway, was opened by officials from both cities and the county.

Outdoor enthusiasts can travel nearly 10 miles by foot or by self-propelled wheels – no engines allowed – along 12-foot sidewalks that meander along Big Creek into Big Creek Park. In addition to the 3-plus miles of trail Roswell has at its park, there is a mountain bike course built by members of the Roswell mountain bike club, RAMBO.

Roswell acquired the land to make the last "link" and spent $418,000 finishing out the system to connect Alpharetta's six miles of trail to Roswell's three, not including the mountain bike trails. Georgia Development Partners, a recreational company for nearly a decade, built the last connecting bit of trail.

Mayor Jere Wood said this is not the ending but the beginning. He envisions first linking the Big Creek Greenway to Roswell's River Walk Park along the Chattahoochee, then taking it to Cobb County. Alpharetta and Forsyth County are talking about links to their respective parks along McGinnis Ferry Road, and the Johns Creek Greenway master plan calls for that city to link with Alpharetta on McGinnis and at Webb Bridge Park.

"It is just incredible what is happening," said Wood. "All of these parks and greenways see the advantages of connecting. Eventually I see it connecting to the Silver Comet Trail."

The Silver Comet Trail is over 61 miles long using abandoned railroad rights of way. It starts near in Smyrna, in Cobb County, and ends at the Georgia-Alabama state line, near Cedartown.

There the Silver Comet connects to the 33-mile Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama.

"This all part of a great system that is coming together," said Roswell Councilman Jerry Orlans.

The enthusiasm runs both ways.

Alpharetta Mayor Arthur Letchas noted his city passed three bond referendums to get its side of the Greenway built with an average approval vote of more than 80 percent.

"We start the phase to Windward next year," Letchas said. "It is a big payoff to all of the citizens when we can do something like this."

Alpharetta Councilman Jim Paine said," From day one, the idea was to connect the Alpharetta Greenway to Roswell. Now that day is here."

Alpharetta was able to acquire almost all of the land for its portion of the Greenway by approaching developers to donate their property along Big Creek. It was mostly undevelopable land, and many businesses quickly saw the advantage of having a Greenway as an amenity for its employees.

Mike Young is an avid cyclist, but he is perhaps even more excited that the extended Big Creek Greenway will now allow him to commute to work by bicycle rather than by car.

"I can now get to the trail at work or from my home. So now I can get there by bike and never get on any of these North Fulton roads," Young said. "I'm looking forward to that."

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Suspect arrested for allegedly stealing Forsyth Co. coroner’s car

A 27-year-old Riverdale man is in Forsyth County jail on charges he allegedly stole the county coroner's SUV from his home Oct. 23.

The vehicle has since been recovered and is being checked out for safety issues, according to authorities.

Capt. Paul Taylor of the Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division said the suspect, Anthony Carmon, was arrested at the BP gas station on McFarland Parkway Oct. 26. Deputies were working on a tip received the day before that led them to Carmon, he said.

"We moved on it pretty quickly. He had the keys to the vehicle in his pocket," said Taylor. "He led us to the coroner's vehicle at his residence in Riverdale, so we recovered the car the same day."

Almost all of the $16,000 worth of equipment in the 2006 Ford Expedition, which was stolen from coroner Lauren McDonald's home in the Haw Creek subdivision off Trammel Road, has been recovered. The car contained valuable county owned radios, cameras and a lap top computer. That's not all. There was, of course, also a coroner's jumpsuit, a stretcher, 10 body bags worth $500 and a heavy duty Coroner's coat.

The only things still missing were McDonald's own clothes and a county jacket.

The coroner told deputies at the time of the theft he left the keys under the floorboard in the driver's seat. He said later because of the nature of the job, deputy coroners will often stop by his home in the middle of the night and take off with the SUV to be on scene as quickly as possible.

"It's a mistake on my part, and I'll tell you, I won't do it again," said McDonald. "Before this, I didn't even lock my doors [at home]. But when something like this happens, that changes everything."

Taylor said Carmon is tied to at least three other entering auto cases in the Haw Creek and neighboring The Gates subdivisions. He said Carmon was allegedly breaking into cars, and apparently hit the mother lode when he found the keys in the coroner's car.

"He knew it was some sort of law enforcement vehicle," said Taylor.

McDonald said all of the radios and equipment in the truck was well marked, which made it tough to unload.

"He'd stripped everything out of it," said McDonald. "We're still doing the inventory, but we've got all the expensive stuff back."

The coroner's office had copies of everything, so county residents saw no lag in service, said McDonald.

"We didn't miss anything," he said. 'It was just the headache of doing the paperwork."

Carmon is charged with theft by receiving stolen property, interference with government property and three counts of entering autos. All are felonies, said Taylor.

Bail is set for $23,001, according to a detention center spokesperson.

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Roswell water main break cuts service in Holcomb Bridge area

A water main break and a no water service notice has been issued by Fulton County Public Works. The area impacted is Holcomb Bridge Road between Old Roswell Road up to the 700 Block of Holcomb (near the Krystal's).

The service is expected to be back on within the hour. If you require assistance, contact Fulton County Public Works (North) - 770/410-3421.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Carnival combines fun with food drive in Forsyth

Mentor Me - North Georgia had a carnival of fun at their first annual Spooky to be Hungry Fall Festival Food Drive. The organization raised $73 dollars in cash (pumpkin donations) and collected 133 pounds of food - which equals $150 of food supplies. All $223 in proceeds benefit “The Place of Forsyth County” food pantry. Children and their Mentors competed in sack races, croquet, played carnival games, horseshoes, bobbed for apples, had their faces painted and painted pumpkins.
Click here to view the entire gallery.

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Martin, Patel face off for House seat covering Alpharetta, Roswell

Democrat Tony Patel, a North Fulton businessman, challenges incumbent Chuck Martin, a Republican, for the 47th District seat in the Ga. House of Representatives, which covers portions of Alpharetta, Roswell and Johns Creek. Both men live in Alpharetta.

Tony Patel, Democrat
Tony Patel has owned, operated and held senior positions in several successful Georgia based companies focused in the retail, hospitality and professional services industries before cofounding Newport Design Group, which provides architectural services throughout the United States.

Patel taught economics as a middle school Junior Achievement instructor. He has investments in hospitality, retail and real estate.

Patel and his wife, Deval, live in Alpharetta with their middle school son, Pratik.

Working with at-risk youth, seniors living in assisted living centers and the Tucson city manager's office earned him Community Service awards. He dedicated time and resources toward the design and construction of his family's place of worship.

Chuck Martin, Republican (i)

Alpharetta native Chuck Martin is serving his third term in the Ga. House of Representatives. In January 2007, he was appointed vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He serves as the vice chairman of the Science and Technology Committee and on the Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications, Budget and Fiscal Oversight and Ways and Means committees.

He served on Alpharetta City Council from 1993-1995 and was elected mayor in 1996. He is a director with Ryan Inc.

Martin and his wife, Johnna, are the parents of Miles, 21 and Lance, 18.

1. Georgia's budget has serious shortfalls. What would you do to curtail the affects of this severe revenue decline, expected to be $1.6 billion – or more?

Patel: The state budget is mandated by state law to be balanced each year. Just as Georgia's families do each month, and I do in my own business, our state elected officials need to learn to live within our means.

The budget shortfall is due to some members of the Budget and Fiscal Oversight committee being out of touch with the realities of a changing economy. In our own business, we recognized the warning signs early by reviewing economic trends and having an open discussion with business owners on their future plans.

I aim to work with our state legislators from both parties, the Governor's office and the Savannah Ports Authority to pro -actively reach out to businesses and bring new jobs to Georgia.

Martin: I would not balance the budget by raising the tax rate on Georgia families, but instead would continue to demand that government live within its means. I've run a business and managed business finances; my wife and I manage our family budget to live within our means; and I have over 15 years experience in city and state government, so I know how to balance a budget.

2. What are your legislative priorities?

Patel: My top priority is to focus on education by providing schools the funding they need, more access to health care through PeachCare, and making sure our tax dollars are spent wisely by working with the Budget and Fiscal Oversight committee members. On Chuck Martin's watch as a member of the Budget and Fiscal Oversight committee, we have seen the state continually cut our school funding, forcing some local governments raising taxes or reducing programs.

Martin: I will make sure to conserve and direct well your tax dollars, and make sure Public Safety is properly funded.

I am proud to say that 5 of the top 10 high schools in Georgia, as ranked by SAT scores, are North Fulton High Schools. We must still strive to provide better schools.

I will continue...
•To push for a realistic and immediate transportation solution. I will press for the extension on the Tele-work Tax Credit Law.

•To work on the bipartisan effort to improve and fund a comprehensive trauma network in Georgia.

• To support funding to educate more medical professions that will practice in Georgia.

•To work on lowering the tax burden on Georgians, and providing tax incentives to bring new businesses and jobs to our state.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gwinnett Gladiators fall to Checkers in shootout, 4-3

For the second consecutive game, the Gladiators failed to score in the shootout, and lost in a 4-3 shootout decision Tuesday night to the Charlotte Checkers at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in a game that saw 66 penalty minutes and 4 fighting majors. The Gladiators fall to 1-0-2 after the loss.

The Gladiators opened the scoring with 8:07 left in the first period. Pat Bateman tallied his first goal with Gwinnett, taking a pass from Jordan Fox on the left boards and putting it past Checkers goalie Maxime Daigneault.

Fox added his name to the score sheet again with a goal just under 3 minutes later at 14:45 of the first. The forward picked up a rebound off a Bateman shot on the left faceoff circle and carried the puck behind the net before putting it over Daigneault on his glove side.

Jeff Miles put Charlotte on the board with 1:08 left in the period on the power play. Mike Bayrack drove the puck down the right side, and threw a pass across the middle to Miles who put it in on the left doorstep.

The Checkers equalized the game at 7:23 of the second period. Pat Bateman had just left the box after a delay of game penalty, and Julien Brouillette fired a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle. Gwinnett goaltender Kevin Nastiuk kicked the rebound to his left, directly to a waiting David Rutherford who put it in the open net.

With 6:43 left in the second period, Andreas Jamtin scored the Checkers third goal of the game on the power play with Chris Cava in the box for cross checking. Trailing 3-2, the Gladiators found themselves behind in a game for the first time all season. Mike Taylor and David Rutherford tallied assists on the goal.

The action heated up late in the second. Tysen Dowzak of Charlotte and Gwinnett's Dan Sullivan opened the fight card with 5 minutes left in the period, both receiving 5 minute majors. Less than 30 seconds later, Myles Stoesz joined the action, picking up a one punch knockdown on Andreas Jamtin, then proceeded to fight Jared Nightingale. The Checkers defensemen picked up a game misconduct for being the third man in the fight. In the ensuing Gwinnett power play, Pat Bateman centered the puck to a streaking Josh Engel who put it past Daigneault to tie the game at 3-3.

The Gladiators failed to convert on a 40 second 5 on 3 advantage with 5 minutes left in the game, and neither team was able to score in regulation taking the game to overtime.

Gladiators netminder Kevin Nastiuk made 21 saves in the loss, and his opponent Maxime Daigneault earned the win, stopping 15 shots.

The Gladiators continue the 2008-09 season on Oct. 31 at Mississippi as the team makes its road debut against the Sea Wolves.

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Israeli law enforcement officials visit Forsyth Co. Sheriff's office

A group of senior law enforcement officials from Israel visited the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office Oct. 28 for a tour of the North Precinct and a static display of the negotiations truck and mobile command center.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NCR adding jobs in Duluth

NCR will expand its Georgia operations by more than 900 employees in the next 26 months, many of them coming to work at the company's Duluth location. Gov. Sonny Perdue and NCR's Chris Wallace announced the expansion, which will include a $15 million capital investment as it creates its Center of Excellence in Georgia.

Wallace said the Duluth facility will expand its engineering group, and its existing customer services group. Some of those employees will come from NCR's Dayton-area facility, but "a lot of the emphasis is on growth and expansion," she said.

"The very fact is they touch all of our lives, whether you go to an ATM to take out money, or you go to Delta's electronic ticketing kiosk or you check out your own groceries, or Home Depot checking out – most likely you are using an innovation that was created, developed and brought to market by NCR," Perdue said.

The Fortune 500 company is based in Dayton, Ohio, and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its stock closed at $17.68 on the stock market Tuesday, up 1.28, an increase of 7.8 percent, though this is much lower than its 52-week high of $29.39.

The center will co-locate in the two communities, with the 360,000-square-foot facility in Peachtree City extensively remodeled with a $15 million capital investment to create a world-class service support environment and training facility, said Wallace, NCR's senior vice president. Customer service staff will be trained at the center, those who go out in the field, work the company call center and other operations.

"Peachtree City and the greater Atlanta area will become the worldwide customer services headquarters. So we will end up having a very large part of our operation located in both Duluth as well as Peachtree City," Wallace said.

Duluth and Gwinnett lawmakers and chamber of commerce officials applauded the expansion, announced under the Capitol Dome in Atlanta this afternoon.

Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said "this is just the kind of result that we, the current commission board, when we were designing and we launched our economic development program in Gwinnett County, pointing the focus on increasing jobs and higher wages."

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is another great day," Bannister said. "Economic development means more jobs, higher wages, more dollars in circuation and increased tax base."

NCR has had a long history with the state of Georgia, Wallace said.

"The first NCR employee who worked in the state of Georgia was in 1884," she said. When we sent people here to sell cash registers back in the day when we were known as a cash register company."

In the 1970s, the company located in Peachtree City. In the 1980s, it built its Duluth facility, initially centered on manufacturing capabilities. It now houses much of its product management, engineering, marketing and sales resources as well, she said.

"What we are announcing today, as the Governor mentioned, is an NCR Center of Excellence, and that plays a huge role in NCR's future growth," she said.

"We are at the leading edge of innovation in the self service expansion in the world," Wallace said.

The company intends to grow and develop whether through ATMs, kiosks or self checkouts. Its strategy is to be the world leader in "connect, interact and transact with consumers."

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Voters brave long lines in Johns Creek

Hundreds of North Fulton voters lined up to vote Oct. 28 at Northeast Spruill Oaks Library in Johns Creek.

Voters began lining up at 4 a.m., according to Karen Swenson, volunteer coordinator and librarian. The line wrapped around the front and side of the library. Around noon, she said the line was about an hour and a half to two hours long - one of the shortest lines she's seen yet.

Advanced voting continues from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 31 at four Fulton County locations: Northeast Spruill Oaks Library, 9560 Spruill Road, Johns Creek; Hembree Park, 850 Hembree Road, Roswell; Adamsville Rec Center, 3201 M.L. King Jr. Drive, SW, Atlanta; Welcome All Park, 4255 Will Lee Road, Atlanta.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Three Day Breast Cancer Walk passes through Duluth

Thousands of walkers took part in the Breast Cancer Three Day walk that covered 60 miles to raise money in the fight against breast cancer. Cheering Stations, two in Duluth and Norcross on Oct. 25, provided a place of encouragement for walkers. Click here to view the entire gallery.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Haunted House in Duluth

There were chills and thrills at the Haunted House at the American Legion Post in Duluth on Oct. 24 and 25. Click here to view the rest of the gallery.

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Monday, October 27, 2008


It was the performance Bulldog nation has been waiting for all season. Matthew Stafford was flawless in his 249 yard, two touchdown (one rushing) game while Knowshon Moreno scampered for 163 yards and a score. Offensively, it is tough to ask for much more, especially considering they were even able to tack on one more point on LSU than the mighty Gators, who scored 51 on LSU a few weeks ago.

The game was full of big plays for the Dawgs. Moreno was able to pull off a 47 yard run that set up a touchdown and also a 68 yard touchdown run. Stafford hooked up with A.J. Green for a 49 yard touchdown pass. Daryll Gamble was able to return two interceptions for touchdowns, one coming off the very first play from scrimmage.

The defense, however, left a bit to be desired. While Georgia was able to record two sacks and three interceptions, Georgia allowed 188 yards rushing and 309 through the air. Had it not been for the mistakes of the inexperienced Jarrett Lee, the score would have been much different. More importantly these mistakes will not be made by Heisman trophy winner, Tim Tebow.

That last sentence really encompasses Georgia's 52-38 victory: it won't matter if we don't beat Florida next week. Stafford acknowledged this when asked what this victory meant for the team. He replied, "I'll let you know next week."

There's a lot to be taken from this win. Georgia has hopefully found more confidence in their ability to move the ball and make plays on defense. Stafford has shown that a hostile environment has little to no effect on his game. Moreno showed, once again, why he may be the best running back in the country. And while the defense may not be the consistent rock typical of the SEC and Mark Richt, they have the ability to create turnovers and pressure the quarterback in key situations. These are attributes that will be vital for a win in Jacksonville. More on that later in the week.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Milton vs. Roswell

Milton: 20, Roswell: 19; Click here to view the entire gallery.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Duluth Pumpkin Patch

Families enjoy the beautiful weekend before Halloween at a Duluth pumpkin patch off Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. Click here to view the entire gallery.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Halloween on the Green in Duluth

Duluth’s Town Green was packed with costumed heroes, villains and monsters for the Halloween on the Green Oct. 25. Click here to view the entire gallery.

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New jail? Voters will decide in Forsyth

It's been the hot local topic for the past few months: Will voters support constructing a new detention center and Sheriff's Office Headquarters?

The $91 million question will be answered Nov. 4 during the general election.

Past referendums have failed to approve the measure to replace the current jail built in 1976. If the new detention center is approved next month, the facility is expected to open in 2012.

Local officials have stated the county desperately needs a new jail to alleviate overcrowding. The county has already spent more than $700,000 in design fees to make sure, as Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse previously stated, voters will have all the information needed to make an informed decision.

But some in the community, notably those in the adjacent Wyngate subdivision, have spoken against the jail in two August town hall meetings citing the proposed location at 608 Veterans Memorial Boulevard near downtown Cumming and the overall cost of the proposal.

However, no one in the community has openly denied the need for a new jail to replace the aging facility.

The overcrowding resulted in 9,717 trips in 2007 transporting inmates to different counties across the state. And there's also a need to provide a safe environment for the deputies.

Regardless of what officials believe the county needs, voters will ultimately decide at the polls Nov. 4. Local election information is available at

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alpharetta Century cycling event

Bicyclists of all levels should oil their gears for "The Alpharetta Century," an inaugural cycling event Saturday, Nov. 1 that will benefit two local organizations.

Wheels will start turning at 8 a.m. at the Milton Center (Old Milton High School) in downtown Alpharetta. Cyclists of all abilities will have several riding options: 35 miles, 62 miles or 100 miles.

A 6-mile family ride is also available to parents and children.

All proceeds will directly benefit two local organizations, the Georgia Transplant Foundation and the Kiwanis Club of Alpharetta. GTF is an organization that provides financial, educational, and emotional support to organ transplant candidates, recipients, and their families throughout the state of Georgia. The Kiwanis Club of Alpharetta is a group of volunteers who sponsor events that help children and youth.

Registration fees to ride in the 100 mile, 62 mile, and 35 mile rides are $35 per person, if received prior to Oct. 24, or $45 dollars including the day of the event.

The 6-mile family ride is $10 per person before Oct. 24 and $15 after, including the day of the event. Children ages 10 and younger can ride free.

The registration fee includes a T-shirt and goodie bag.

For more information about "The Alpharetta Century," visit or call Amanda McBride at 678.514.1185 or

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Sugarloaf Scouts clean up Park in Suwanee

Sugarloaf Cub Scout Pack 846 recently completed a service project coordinated through the City of Suwanee in which scouts cleaned up the trails and trail signs at Suwanee Creek Park and spread mulch at the outdoor classroom. All five dens in the pack, Tiger, Wolves, Bears, Webelos I and Webelos II, participated in the project. The service project was designated an official National Public Lands Day activity. In addition to the service project, each den also participated in various outdoor activities like hiking, plant and tree identification.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Alpharetta Fallfest

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Roswell’s legal ads ain’t legal

The legal organ of Roswell, which has the contract to publish all of the city's paid legal notices, changed the way and the day it delivers its papers and rendered the legal ads void, according to the city attorney.

The Roswell Beacon, as the carrier of the legal notices, then substantially altered its delivery method and, more importantly, became a "Sunday newspaper."

This was a necessary change to the business model of his paper, said publisher John Frederick, but unfortunately he overlooked a little-known Georgia law which says legal notices posted on a Sunday do not satisfy the law.

"Sunday is a religious holiday and the law does not recognize legal notices published that day," said Roswell City Attorney David Davidson.

The city has had to go back and reschedule and re-advertise at least one public meeting to stay square with state law. At the Oct. 20 City Council meeting, the council decided after a long debate to allow the Beacon to continue to publish the legals on Sunday, but to keep the notices "legal" it would also print those notices in the Roswell Neighbor, a Thursday paper, as well.

The Beacon has until the end of the month to come back into compliance, i.e., forgo its decision to be a Sunday newspaper, or give up the city's legal notices. The contract is up for rebid at the end of the year.

Councilman Jerry Orlans was the only councilman to vote against the measure (Councilman Kent Igleheart was absent). He called the idea of paying double to run the legal ads "ridiculous."

"It is not the best use of taxpayers' money to pay double for ads when one newspaper is out of compliance," Orlans said. "I can't see paying twice."

Orlans' motion to drop the Beacon and use another paper for the remainder of the year died for lack of a second. Davidson said the city's contract called for The Beacon to mail all copies to city residents. Thus the city could verify circulation through postal receipts. As a Thursday newspaper, the city could squeeze in ads that came as late as Monday.

Publisher John Frederick notified the city's purchasing agent Richard Brownlee that the paper was being revamped to be a Sunday paper and thrown by carriers.

Once this came to the attention of City Attorney David Davidson, he sent Frederick a notice of termination of the city's contract. This was in the first week of October. It was only after further research that Davidson came across the point of law that legal notices on Sunday were void.

"Under the law, it is the same as if they were never published," said Davidson.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Taste of Suwanee

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Milton council looks at noise ordinance

The cries of Bethany Creek residents sick of noise coming from nearby Montana's Bar and Grill on Ga. 9 reached City Council again Oct. 13.

Montana's, which hosts live music and karaoke in a converted Ace Hardware greenhouse, backs up to the neighborhood. Residents have routinely complained to council about the noise. They've called Fulton and Milton police regularly every weekend for nearly four years, and Montana's was fined for the first time in July.

Despite meetings between residents and Montana's owner Cary Eubanks, the situation continues. At the work session, acting City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, who helped craft the city's noise law in his capacity as Public Safety director last April, brought up the possibility of tweaking portions pertaining to amplified music to try and appease citizens.

He also mentioned there have been complaints about Milton High School's noise during football season. The school is exempt from the ordinance for games. Those calls and e-mails have gone down, though, he said — it's now just one consistent complainer.

"However, I want to caution us that we don't change a law just to deal with one issue," said Lagerbloom.

Lagerbloom said in discussions with City Attorney Ken Jarrard it became clear restricting certain types of amplified noises wasn't the best way to fix the problem. Instead, it was a better plan to simply change the decibel levels allowable at certain times.

As it stands now, Milton's ordinance states that noise cannot exceed 65 decibels in a person's property before 10 p.m. After then until to 7:30 a.m., that level drops to 60, about the level of common speech from a foot away.

It's a conservative law, said Lagerbloom.

"Our decibels are lower than any of the cities that surround us," he said.

Councilwoman Karen Thurman asked how much over the ordinance Montana's Bar and Grill was during all these calls from residents.

"I can tell you he's right on the line," said Lagerbloom. "There must be a tape mark on the amplifier. It is consistently at the highest allowable decibel level for that particular time of day."

Lagerbloom said he and former City Manager Billy Beckett had a meeting with Eubanks, but the mediation was not successful.

Councilwoman Tina D'Aversa said she thought since the complaints were limited to basically two buildings, figuring out a solution to those problems without changing the city-wide noise ordinance was a better idea. She proposed looking at zoning ordinances to catch the problem before it became protracted and creating a new set of rules for "outdoor entertainment."

"There's got to be a point where we put pressure that there will be a solution here," said Mayor Joe Lockwood.

Councilman Burt Hewitt suggested taking the fact that Milton was looking at changing the ordinance to something "he wouldn't be able to do business with" back to Eubanks for that pressure.

Councilwoman Julie Zahner Bailey wanted to know if the law could be tweaked simply because Montana's is so close to residences. In other parts of the city that's not a problem, she said.

The spectre of uncertainty that looms over the issue, said Jarrard, is the "law of unintended consequences."

"Do we know the outcome of lowering the ordinance 10 or 15 decibels?" he asked. "I'll tell you right here I do not. I'm not used to a restaurant playing a game of chicken with the local jurisdiction to see who blinks first."

Lagerbloom said he would bring forward the same ordinance with a new drop of ten decibels for night time noise.

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Duluth Police Hold a Seatbelt Check Point

The Duluth Police Department along with the Governors Office of Highway Safety will be holding a seatbelt checkpoint on Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. The check point will be at or near Brock Road in Duluth. Duluth Officers from the COPS Division and HEAT Unit will be checking vehicles for passenger seat safety belt usage and providing safety information. Teen drivers found utilizing seat belts will be awarded a coupon for a free sandwich from Chick fil-A Howell Station.

Members for the Duluth Police Department's HEAT Unit will be on hand to issue citations to drivers not buckled up as a part of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety's "Click it or Ticket" campaign. The Duluth Police Heat Unit is funded by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety and specializes in accident/injury reduction through aggressive traffic enforcement.

The Georgia Teen Safe Driving program was designed by the Duluth Police Department in 2000 in partnership with GOHS and Chick fil-A. Within two years, the program started in Duluth became a statewide initiative.

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Gwinnett falls 3-2 to Augusta in a shootout

The Gwinnett Gladiators could not score in the shootout after giving up the game tying goal with less than a minute left in regulation in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Augusta Lynx on Tuesday night at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Gwinnett falls to 1-0-1 on the season after the shootout loss.

Gwinnett took a 1-0 lead on the Lynx on Jordan Fox's first goal of the season 16:56 into the first period. Fox found a loose puck sitting in the crease after it slipped past Augusta netmidner Riku Helenius and tapped the puck into the next for the marker. Ryan Mahrle and Bryan Esner collected the assists on the power play goal for the Gladiators.

Augusta answered on the power play as Aaron Slattengren powered down the left wing side, past a Gladiators defenseman and flicked the puck over the shoulder of Gwinnett netminder Kevin Nastiuk for the goal. Matt Auffrey and Tim Branham posted the assists on the goal at 18:53 of the first period.

Jeff Prough's first professional goal gave Gwinnett a 2-1 lead late in the second period. Prough threaded the puck thorugh traffic and past Helenius for the marker with 3:19 left in the middle stanza. Gwinnett got assists on goal from Josh Engel and Brad Schell.

Augusta equalized the contest with less than a minute remaining in the third period. Auffrey beat Nastiuk over the glove after sliding by a Gladiators defenseman and walking into the slot before beating the netminder. Slattengren and Scott Thauwald notched the assists on the goal for Augusta at 19:29 of the third period.

Nastiuk notched 27 saves in the shootout loss for Gwinnett. The Gladiators went 1-for-8 on the power play in the contest while Augusta was 1-for-5 on the man advantage in the win.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Milton appoints Smedley interim city manager

By a unanimous vote Oct. 20 Milton's City Council appointed 31-year government veteran Mortimer Smedley its interim City Manager.

After the vote, Mayor Joe Lockwood said he was confident Smedley could handle Milton's notoriously tough political climate.

"I was speaking with Mort earlier and he said 'Growing up with a name like Mortimer made me tough and ready to handle anything,'" he said.

The semi-retired Smedley comes to Milton from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Ft. Pierce, Fla., where he has spent the past two years as 2nd mate on a research vessel.

Prior to that, though, Smedley spent 18 years as municipal manager of the borough of Lehighton, Pa., then nine as county administrator for Carbon County, which is also in Pennsylvania. He finished his career with a two-year stint in Maryland as county administrator for St. Mary's County, where he oversaw a more than $100 million budget and oversaw more than 600 employees.

He spent three years in the Navy and more than 30 in the Army Reserves. Smedley replaces acting City Manger Chris Lagerbloom, the city's Public Safety Director. Previous City Manger Billy Beckett left in mid-September citing tensions with council members.

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Gwinnett Gladiators face Lynx tonight

The Gwinnett Gladiators looked to build off their victory in the season opener when they face the in-state rival Augusta Lynx tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

The Gwinnett Gladiators open their sixth season as a proud member of the ECHL in October of 2008 - season ticket packages are on sale now. In addition, the Gladiators offer several unique multi-game ticket packages as well as discounted group rates, suite rentals, and birthday parties. For more information call 770-497-5100 or log on to

The Gladiators are the AA affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers and play all home games at the spectacular 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth, where parking is always free.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Bridal Expo in Alpharetta

The Wedding Alliance of North Georgia held their first Bridal Expo on October 19, 2008 in Alpharetta. Click here to view the rest of the gallery.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Milton HS Homecoming parade & game

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PHOTO GALLERY: Roswell Mayor's BBQ Ball

Jere Wood, Mayor of Roswell held the Mayor's BBQ Ball on October 18, 2008. Click here to view the rest of the gallery.

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Forsyth YMCA wants to join case against Bethel Park plan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fired back in the legal battle over who ultimately will have use of Bethel Park on Lake Lanier in Forsyth County.

The Corps has filed a lengthy brief asking federal Judge Richard Story to dismiss Forsyth County's request for a preliminary injunction to stop the Corps from leasing its 62-acre Bethel Park to the YMCA.

The Corps said the county is not entitled to any injunctive relief concerning the agreement, saying Forsyth's complaint had met none of the requirements under the law to receive such relief.

Meanwhile, the YMCA said it did not want to stand on the sidelines and asked Story for permission to intervene in the case as a co-defendant with the Corps. YMCA attorney Myles Eastwood said while the YMCA is in agreement with the Corps' response that it has acted properly in granting the Y its lease of the site for a $20 million summer camp, the Corps may not see the need to defend some of the county's accusations aimed at the YMCA as thoroughly as the YMCA might wish.

In its rebuttal of the county's claim, the Corps says:

1.) The county is wrong when it says the Corps under the Flood Control Act (FCA) must surrender the use of Bethel Park to the county. "The FCA requires only that the Corps award the property to the county when doing so is in the public interest, which the Corps determined - in proper exercise of discretion - it was not."

2.) The county is wrong when it claims the Corps must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, wrote Corps attorneys in its motion. Corps experts made an adequate environmental impact study and disclosed those results which complies with all that federal regulations call for.

3.) The county's assertion that it is "suffering irreparable injury, requiring immediate intervention" because the county's "alleged statutory rights have been violated" do not hold water because there were no such "violations." The Corps points out two other parks have already been leased on Lake Lanier in Forsyth County.

4.) Finally, the Corps says Forsyth has not shown its injunction would serve the public interest, "especially when the Corps has already determined that the public interest is best served by granting the land to the YMCA."

Forsyth County has been in a bitter struggle over the right to develop Bethel Park. The county maintains it has the "right of first refusal," and should have been given that opportunity. Further, the county claims the RV campground it wants to put on the property is more environmentally sensitive than the summer camp proposed by the YMCA.

But the Corps has affidavits from former Forsyth commissioners and the Corps' Lake Resources manager between 2000 and 2004 saying the county was offered the use of the property but turned it down.

Supporters of the YMCA plan say that the County Commission is not pursuing this lawsuit out of any desire to see its park plan built. Indeed, they say the county likely would never build it at all.

They say this is simply an attempt by commissioners to placate a minority of voters who live near the area and don't want to see the park developed.

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Martin lauded by state firefighters in Alpharetta

When it became apparent that the fire training facility at the Georgia Fire Academy in Forsyth known as the burn building was getting, well, burned out, it was state Rep. Chuck Martin who engineered a $1.7 million bond to build a new training facility.

The Fire Academy is where many firefighters across the state receive their certification.

For his support in the General Assembly for this bill and other work, Martin was named the 2008 Legislator of the year jointly by the Ga. Association of Fire Chiefs and the Ga. Firefighters Association.

"The Ga. Fire Academy is where most firefighters, especially those from the southern part of the state, are trained. The burn room pods, where firefighters got their live training, were essentially worn out," said Randall Windham, executive director of the Ga. Fire Chiefs Association.

"Live fire training is essential for those who fight fires. It would be like your favorite football team never practicing with the ball. What Rep. Martin has done is make sure that won't happen with our firefighters."

Martin said he first gained special insight into just what public safety means when he was a councilman and later mayor of Alpharetta.

"It's like I tell my children. When we wake up on Christmas morning or go out New Year's Eve, there is always a shift of firefighters on duty working and ready to be wherever they're needed," Martin said.

Martin commended his fellow lawmakers for supporting the bill in these harsh economic times.

"They understand that there are places that you just can't cut," he said.

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Trick or Treat for Troops in Johns Creek

Johns Creek area real estate team, The Gebhardt Group, will once again offer its successful Trick or Treat for the Troops in hopes of sending at least 80 care packages to soldiers spending the holiday season overseas.

Donations will be collected for the troops at their RE/MAX Greater Atlanta office, 10220 Medlock Bridge Road on Oct. 24 and 25. This is the 3rd Annual Trick or Treat for the Troops, which has had tremendous success the past two years.

The team, which consists of Pam Gebhardt, Maura Gebhardt, Nancie Torrence and Deirdre Graf, has a steady track record of giving back. Past events have also collected donations for the Atlanta Humane Society, No More Homeless Pets Atlanta, and the Gwinnett Children's Shelter.

In addition to the collection days at their office, the team is combining the event with their Annual Client Appreciation Dinner, asking clients, past clients, "raving fans" and vendors to show their support by bringing donations to the party, which includes a dinner, door prizes and entertainment.

The team is collecting everything from toiletries to magazines, books and DVDs to non-perishable snack items, like Pringles, trail mix and hard candy.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

UGA SPORTS BLOG: Georgia vs. Vanderbilt

I was satisfied yet disappointed with the Dawgs 24-14 win over Vanderbilt this week. We'll start with the positives.

First, the run game was great. I was pleased with Moreno's 172 yards and the commitment to the run throughout the game. There were very few plays where I was left scratching my head afterwards which is the first time I can say that this season. In terms of play calling, I was pleased with the first quarter. Georgia came out and ran the ball 5 out of 8 plays which was capped off by a missed field goal. The second drive began with another run play to Moreno. After 6 out of 8 plays were runs, Georgia went deep to A.J. Green for a 50 yard gain. That drive was finished with a touchdown. This type of play call is what I've been screaming about all season. When Georgia establishes the run, their wideouts have little difficulty getting open.

I was also pleased with the ability of Georgia to run the ball in the 4th quarter. With about 8:30 left in the game, Georgia ran the ball downfield with ease, 8 of 9 plays were runs and the lone pass being a screen to Shaun Chapas. This drive resulted in another missed field goal but I was still impressed by Georgia's march down the field late in the game.

Now to the negatives.

This new habit of throwing the ball away in the red zone is worrying. I hate having to settle for field goals down there but Stafford throwing interceptions really shoots us the foot. Through the first six games, red zone offense was our specialty and Georgia will need to find that form again in the upcoming weeks. The second was Blair Walsh's missed chip shots this week. What was that about? Third, getting pressure on the quarterback is the last remaining issue that has not been addressed this season. The Dawgs desperately need to find a way to get to opposing quarterbacks particularly when they play the Gators in a couple of weeks. If Tebow has time in the pocket, he will eat us alive. Finally, Georgia needs to put its opponents away. I'm tired of doing just enough to win. This is true for the victories against South Carolina, Tennessee and now Vanderbilt. I thought and hoped this would happen against Vanderbilt but Georgia blew two separate 14-point leads. LSU is the kind of team that if Georgia lets hang around, they will find a way to punish us. More on that game as the week goes on.

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Suwanee PD seek assistance identifying robbery suspect

The Suwanee Police Department is seeking assistance in identifying a suspect who robbed the BB&T bank at 2885 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road shortly after 11:30 on Monday,October 20.

The suspect is described as a dark-skinned black male in his mid- to late-20s. He is approximately 5'8"-5'10" with a stocky build, approximately 180 pounds.

The suspect was wearing black jeans, black shoes, a gray Chicago hooded sweatshirt, and Oakland As ball cap.

Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Det. Shane Edmisten with the Suwanee Police Department, 770/945-8995.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Duluth Oktoberfest

The first ever Duluth Oktoberfest was held Oct. 18 at the Duluth Festival Center and Town Green. The day included live music, jugglers, a moonwalk, a slide, face painting and much more. Click here to view the entire gallery.

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Gwinnett Gladiators best Sea Wolves, 6-2

The Gwinnett Gladiators used a pair of goals from Bruce Graham and four power play goals to roll past the Mississippi Sea Wolves 6-2 in the Gladiators season opener at The Arena at Gwinnett Center Oct. 18. Kevin Nastiuk finished with 25 saves for the Gladiators in his first start for Gwinnett.

The Gladiators jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Josh Engel's first pro goal at 13:23 of the first period. Engel ripped a slapshot from the blue line through traffic past Mississippi netminder Jeremy Duchesne for the goal. Pat Bateman and Andy Brandt collected the assists on the power play goal for the Gladiators.

Brad Schell's first goal of the season pushed Gwinnett's lead to 2-0 late in the first period. On a 5-on-3 power play, Schell beat Duchesne over the glove for the goal. Jeff Mason set up the goal on the power play feeding Schell on the right wing side. Bruce Graham also had a helper on the goal at 19:23 of the first period.

Mississippi got on the board early in the first period. With the Gladiators scrambling in their own zone, Alexandre Parent beat Gladiators netminder Kevin Nastiuk for the marker. The Sea Wolves got an assist on the goal that came just 3:31 into the second period from Mathieu Melanson.

Bruce Graham and Bryan Esner capitalized on a Mississippi turn-over just inside the Sea Wolves blue line to regain a 2-goal advantage for Gwinnett. Esner tapped the puck ahead to Graham as the forward walked in and whipped the puck thorugh the legs of Duchesne for the goal. Graham's first goal of the season came at 13:33 of the second period.

Melanson pulled the Sea Wolves back within a goal late in the second period chopping the puck out of the air past Nastiuk for the marker. Mike Wirll and Jeremy Hall collected the assists on the goal that came with 2:17 left in the second period for Mississippi.

Gwinnett added three third period goals to put the game away. Ryan Mahrle's first goal of the game gave the Gladiators a 4-2 lead 7:29 into the third period. Brandt added his second assist of the night on the marker while Jordan Fox collected a helper on the power play goal for Gwinnett.

Scott Marchesi's first goal of the season at 12:07 of the third period gave the Gladiators a three goal lead. Parked on the off wing, Marchesi found a loose puck and beat Duchesne for the goal for Gwinnett. Pat Bateman and Marty Mjelleli had the assists on the goal for Gwinnett.

Graham's second goal of the game finished the scoring at 16:23 of the third period. Graham beat Duchesne from point blank range for the marker for Gwinnett. Esner and Mason each added their second assists of the game on the power play goal for the Gladiators.

Nastiuk made 25 saves in the contest in the win for Gwinnett. The netminder improves to 1-0-0 with his first win as a Gladiator.

The Gladiators continue the 2008-09 season on Tuesday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center as they host the Augusta Lynx at 7:05 p.m.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Gwinnett Gladiators vs. Mississippi Sea Wolves

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Alpharetta OKs liquor store outside North Point Mall

A "beverage superstore" planned for the former CompUSA store near North Point Mall gained approval from Alpharetta City Council Monday night in a repeat of a public hearing first heard in June.

A tie vote last summer and a lawsuit brought by the rezoning applicant, Total Wine & More, led to the new hearing. As at least one point under protest appeared to be a problem - the public notice was advertised only 14 days in advance of the summer hearing, rather than the required minimum of 15 days - City Attorney Sam Thomas proposed council hold a new hearing provided the lawsuit was dropped no matter what the result of the new hearing.

Councilwoman Cheryl Oakes provided the deciding vote, having been absent from the summer meeting because of a family medical emergency.

"Times change and uses change. I think we have to be cognizant of that change and forward thinking," she said in support of fellow Councilman David Belle Isle's motion to approve Total Wine & More's application.

At issue was the perception of several council members and city residents that a liquor store has no place so close to North Point Mall. Another point made by Councilmen Doug DeRito, John Monson and Jim Paine was that the North Point Master Plan should not be changed to meet the business needs of an applicant.

"I think the mall master plan over the years has served us well," Paine said.

Councilman D.C. Aiken – and the applicant's attorney, Don Rolader - said the council has amended the plan in the past. Most recently a hair salon within the same area was allowed to add massage therapy to the master plan.

Community Development Director Diana Wheeler told council the application met the six criteria for a conditional use permit.

She said setting a precedent was not an issue as several restaurants up and down North Point Parkway and the Cheesecake Factory, which is just across the mall's ring road, serve alcohol. Planning Commission had recommended approval.

Michele Del Monaco of Mimms Enterprises, which owns the property, said many months were spent to find a long-term tenant of quality for the site. The 20,450 square feet of space is too big for the "mom and pop" retailers which constitute 95 percent Mimms' tenants.

Had its application in Alpharetta failed, company CEO David Trone said the store likely would have leased a site at The Avenue Forsyth several exits north on Ga. 400.

"The Alpharetta location is the spot that we would like to be in the [Ga.] 400 corridor. The demographics in Alpharetta are perfect," Trone said.

Greg Smith of Alpharetta was among the residents speaking in opposition to the application. A lot of talk was made about spirits, as in alcohol, he said.

"What we are talking about is the spirit of Alpharetta," he said in urging council to deny the store.

Belle Isle, in making his motion to approve the master plan amendment and conditional use permit, saw two issues at stake: When is it OK for council to help business, and when is it not OK for council to interfere with business?

Councilman D.C. Aiken backed the motion. Council can't be arbitrary in approving master plan amendments for one business and not others, he said.

"And so I've got to look at alcohol. To me, alcohol is alcohol," he said.

Opponents of the package store draw a distinction between liquor stores and restaurants.

"Any way you look at it, they consumed alcohol and got behind the wheel of a vehicle," Aiken said.

With that line of thinking, drinking and driving was OK, but buying a case of beer or wine and taking it home was not, he said.

At the same time, people who are 21 or older can go to the Publix or Kroger grocery store and buy wine or beer.

"Publix and Kroger are in our neighborhoods, not at the mall," Aiken said.

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Odometer tampering rolls Buford man to prison

Rolling back odometers on used cars and trucks drove a Buford man into an 18-month sentence in federal prison. The prison term will be followed by a year of supervised release, the first six months of which will include home detention, the Justice Department announced today.

Ronald Dale Cole, 55, pleaded guilty on May 30 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta to two counts of odometer tampering. Cole was sentenced on Oct. 14 by U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story, who also ordered the defendant to pay $191,395 in restitution, reflecting the amount the court found Cole had defrauded victims through his odometer fraud scheme.

Cole purchased high-mileage cars, sport-utility vehicles and trucks at wholesale auto auctions in Georgia and South Carolina, rolled back the odometers by an average of 97,742 miles and resold the vehicles at auto auctions. At sentencing, Judge Story found that Cole had sold 56 vehicles with altered odometers, with an average loss per victim of $3,418. Most of the vehicles Cole sold were more than 10 years old when he sold them.

Because of the age of the cars, Cole was not required to sign a disclosure certifying the mileage on these 10-year old vehicles as accurate. But each time he altered an odometer with intent to change the mileage on the odometer, he violated federal law.

"Just because a car dealer does not have to certify the mileage on so-called 'exempt' cars, that does not give him a license to roll back odometers," said Gregory G. Katsas, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. "We are vigilant in enforcing this important consumer protection law and will prosecute anyone who tries to skirt the law by rolling back odometers on vehicles of any age. This is especially important as cars last longer and longer and as people rely on older cars for reliable transportation."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA) investigated this case. NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the U.S. results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually and has established a special hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints. Individuals having information relating to odometer tampering should call 800-424-9393 or 202-366-4761.

The case was prosecuted by Justice Department trial attorney Josh Burke with the Civil Division's Office of Consumer Litigation.

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North Fulton voters can vote early, avoid lines

Fulton County is expecting a heavy voter turnout estimated to be 80 percent to 90 percent of the electorate. Fulton Voter Education Manager Mark Henderson says means for those who wait until Tuesday, Nov. 4 to vote should be ready for the possibility of long lines at their precincts.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Voters can avoid the hassles of Election Day lines by taking advantage of one of several options to vote ahead of time. The state has a plan called early voting. It is the same as absentee voting.

Here's how it works:

EARLY VOTING - Through Oct. 24. This allows voters to come in any convenient business day and vote at one of a few designated places in the county.

In North Fulton the nearest poling place is:

North Service Center, Suite 209

7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs

Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.


Fill out the application at the location and present one of the permitted forms of photo ID which include a valid Georgia driver's license, Georgia ID, a city, county or state employee ID or passport. You will then vote on the machine.

VOTE BY MAIL - Just fill out the absentee application. Then, mail it or drop it off to your county registrar's office. To go the Secretary of State's Web site to download a form go to:

You may also go to the county registrar's office to get a ballot request. Mail-in ballots must be received by your county registrar no later than close of the polls on Election Day. Georgia law prohibits anyone other than the voter from personal delivery of a voted mail-in ballot.

ADVANCE VOTE WEEK - Mon., Oct. 27, thru Friday, Oct, 31. Fulton will have multiple voting centers and even extended hours. A photo ID is required to vote in person. Voting hours in this week are 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Those sites in North Fulton in addition to the North Fulton Service Center are:

• NE Spruill Oaks Regional Library

(Spruill Road @ Old Ala. Rd.)

9560 Spruill Road, Johns Creek

• Hembree Park, Roswell

Hembree Road @ Elkins Road

ELECTION DAY is Tuesday, November 4, and the polls open at 7 a.m. On Election Day, you must vote at your assigned precinct and present a photo ID.

According to Henderson, some 20,000 voters have already cast their ballots and Fulton County has received 26,700 requests for absentee ballots.

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PHOTO GALLERY: West Forsyth present "Frog & Toad"

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Alpharetta's engineering director, John Moskaluk, dies

John Moskaluk, Alpharetta's director of Engineering & Public Works, died early today.

Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard said officials in City Hall are in a bit of a shock, as they had believed Moskaluk's health was improving.

Moskaluk had been a key figure in getting Westside Parkway's latest phases - including the southern section between Mansell Road and Sanctuary Parkay - funded and built.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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Milton finds new interim city manager

According to city's communication's department, Milton City Council will vote Oct. 20 on making 31-year government veteran Mortimer Smedley its interim City Manager.

Due to publishing deadlines, the outcome of that vote is not known. Please visit for a full run down of the meeting's events.

Smedley spent 18 years as municipal manager of the borough of Lehighton, Penn., then nine as County Administrator for Carbon County, which is also in Pennsylvania. He finished his career with a two-year stint in Maryland as County Administrator for St. Mary's County, where he oversaw a more than $100 million budget and oversaw more than 600 employees.

He spent three years in the Navy and more than 30 in the Army Reserves.

Interestingly, the semi-retired Smedley most recently spent the last eight years at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Ft. Pierce Fla. There he worked with research scientists as 2nd mate on the Seward Johnson II throughout the Atlantic Ocean, Adriatic Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Carribean.

Smedley will likely replace acting City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, who is the city's director of Public Safety. Lagerbloom stepped in for the second time after former City manager Billy Beckett, a 30-year government veteran, tendered his resignation in late August, citing tensions with a minority of council members.

Beckett joined Milton in late April, ending Lagerbloom's first fill in period. The director previously served as city manager for eight months starting in August 2007 after Milton's first captain, Aaron Bovos, resigned following the city's failure to apply for an insurance premium tax kickback. He now works as deputy city administrator in Roswell.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Roswell Rotary's Honor Air Program takes WWII vets to D.C.

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Early voting happening in Gwinnett

As time ticks inside of one month for this year's very important election Nov. 4, Gwinnett County is preparing to handle the thousands of expected voters to turnout to the polls. This past Monday meant the end of voter registration across the state, and now it's full steam ahead until election day.

This county, like others in the metro area, is helping to solve the problem of long lines on election day by offering convenient early voting to its citizens in the weeks leading up to the big day.

Those registered to vote in Gwinnett County have the option of going ahead and casting their ballot for a variety of national, state and local races. Until Friday Oct. 31, voters can cast their vote in advance at one of four satellite polling places in the county. One of these sites includes the George Pierce Community Activity Center, at 55 Buford Highway in Suwanee.

These advanced voting sites are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. There will be no advanced voting on the Monday preceding election day.

But, if you're looking to do it the old fashioned way and vote in person, but are not sure of your polling place, the county's Board of Elections Web site has a handy polling place locater. Simply enter in information like your name and address and it will tell you where to be on that first Tuesday in November.

Those that are out of the area but still registered in the county can use absentee ballots which are then mailed to the county Board of Elections office in Lawrenceville. For more information about requesting an absentee ballot, and to view your polling information, voter frequently asked questions and more, visit the county's site at, then click "Departments" at the top of the page, followed by "Elections and Voter Registration" under "Community Services."

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PHOTO GALLERY: Trimmed in Pink fundraiser

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Blank makes bid for MLS expansion team in Atlanta is reporting:
Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced late Tuesday afternoon that he will seek a Major League Soccer franchise for Atlanta.

The AMB Group, Blank's management and investment company, submitted a bid to the nation's premier men's soccer league. Blank and league officials wouldn't comment on possible sites, although Cobb and, to a lesser extent, Gwinnett counties are considered front-runners.

Blank, who also owns the Georgia Force of the Arena Football League, would have to come up with an estimated $40 million for a franchise.

"Filing this application represents an important next step as we continue to explore the possibility of bringing Major League Soccer to fans throughout metro Atlanta," AMB spokesman Brian Farley said in a statement. "We're also looking at how best to create a sports-and-entertainment center that can not only serve as a premier soccer destination, but also a community resource for soccer enthusiasts at various levels of play throughout the region."

A 20,000-seat stadium, along with land and other amenities, could add an additional $80 million to the package. Public money would likely become part of any financing mix. Naming rights could help defray the overall cost.

Cobb and Gwinnett counties, with burgeoning soccer enthusiasts of all ages and large Hispanic populations, are considered the likeliest locations for a soccer stadium. Sam Olens, chairman of the Cobb County Commission, said Tuesday that a proposed site near Kennesaw State would be ideal.

"The ability to link a soccer franchise with KSU is a very exciting opportunity from the county's perspective," said Olens who cautioned that financing remains a hurdle.

MLS officials had earlier labeled Atlanta a "tremendous" potential market for a franchise. A half-dozen other cities, though, including Las Vegas, Ottawa, Portland and Vancouver, have also expressed interest in a franchise. Atlantans could be watching major league soccer in 2012.

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Annual Roswell Mayor’s Ball spiced up with BBQ

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood's annual cookout, aka The Mayor's Ball, Oct. 18, will for the first time feature an invitational barbecue contest.

Roswell's BBQ restaurants, Dreamland, Spiced Right Ribhouse, Shane's Rib Shack, Talk of the Town, The Swallow in the Hollow, along with the Roswell Fire Department and Wood's own team, Two Mayors BBQ, will be serving its best.

Guests will be voting to decide who wins the title for the best BBQ in Roswell.

The Mayor's BBQ Contest and Ball will be held at 10850 Stroup Road beginning at 6 p.m. Previous visitors will know to park on the street and take the shuttle bus to Tillie Wood's house down in the hollow.

After feasting and enjoying beverages from Atlanta Beverages and Roswell Beverage, Judie will lead us by dancing to the classic rock party music of the band, CRAVER, until the police come.

Entertainment at intermission will be furnished by our local candidates including Congressman Tom Price and state Sen. Dan Moody.

A donation of $25 is requested for adults, children under 12 free. Proceeds will go to the Roswell charity, Foster Care Support Foundation. For more information or tickets call the mayor at City Hall office at 770-594-6288, the Foster Care Support Foundation at 770-641-9591, or Wood's law office at 770-587-5870.

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Georgia Football Overview

The Dawg Blog is coming back with a vengeance. I apologize for my long absence but during my long abyss I've had plenty of time to gather many thoughts about the current football season while my eager anticipation for the upcoming basketball season slowly builds.

I'll begin with the football season. Georgia's current rank of 10 is about fair, although I think they are the seventh best team in the country. I don't think Texas Tech is any good and BYU is, well, BYU but they're undefeated and I can't dispute their ranks. People have jumped on Oklahoma State's bandwagon recently which I think is ok, but keep in mind, this is the same OK State team that was dismantled by the Dawgs last season, 31-10, and that was well before the Dawgs hit their stride. This leaves us behind Florida, USC, Oklahoma, Penn State, 'Bama and Texas. I'd put Florida ahead of USC and OU because Florida has a signature win (LSU), while UGA, USC and OU have beat the teams they were supposed to beat but don't have a big win. And don't tell me Ohio State was a big win. Just spare me.

There's little point in discussing the season for the Dawgs thus far: we've all seen the games. But I'll tell you this: Georgia is about to hit their stride. Nothing proves this more than their fourth quarter last week against Tennessee. Georgia, with an injured offensive line, took 11 minutes off the clock with a heavy dose of Knowshon Moreno and Caleb King. FINALLY!!! This is what I've been waiting for all season. It seems as though the loss to Alabama shook something loose in the coaches' heads. I mean, last season the gameplan was a heavy dose of Thomas Brown and Moreno then Stafford would pick defenses apart. This year, it seems the philosophy has shifted to get the ball to A.J. Green. While I love Green, Moreno is the foundation of our offense. In that drive against Tennessee, Georgia rediscovered the running game. Clint Boling shifted over to left tackle to replace Vince Vance, who tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season, and Georgia ran right behind him with several toss plays to the left. If Boling, the SEC Offensive Lineman of the week, is able to move defensive lines like he did in that drive, Georgia will be able to consistently count on the run game again.

The development of the run game will become increasingly important as we count the days until Jacksonville. Against a Florida team that completely dismantled LSU 51-14, Georgia will have to control the clock and keep the speed of Percy Harvin and Jeffery Demps on the sideline. I see this happening in the next couple of weeks.

Now, to the most immediate concern: Vanderbilt. Vandy has not faced an offense like Georgia's this season and just came crashing down to earth in their last game, a loss to Mississippi State. I see Georgia running wild against the Vandy in preparation for the test in Baton Rouge. The main thing I would like to see improved in this game is the pass rush. Georgia must get pressure on Vandy's quarterback, who hasn't officially been announced yet but both can make things happen with their quick feet. This has been the overwhelming weakness for Georgia and will have to be improved before major SEC clashes in the upcoming weeks. I think the running game has been solved and this is the last real chance for Georgia to try out some new ways to get sacks.

I host a sports radio show for WUOG in Athens (90.5), so I'll have to hold off on any predictions but I'll be back with some more thoughts on the game next week, if not sooner.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TB scare at Gwinnett's Meadowcreek High School

Gwinnett County School officials said about 175 students and staff members at Meadowcreek High School have recently undergone testing for tuberculosis, and 25 individuals had positive readings.

According to Jorge Quintana, director of media relations for Gwinnett County Public Schools, the health department identified students and staff members on Oct. 8 to undergo testing and the tests were administered as a precaution.

The individuals who were tested had at some point come in contact with a junior at Meadowcreek who had a suspected case of the disease.

Initial test results were read by the health department Oct. 10, and the 25 individuals with a positive reading were requested to have a chest x-ray within 72 hours. So far, no one has had any signs or symptoms of the disease.

Quintana said a positive reading doesn’t mean the individual has the disease, only that they were exposed to it at some point in time and further testing is needed.

The World Health Organization, responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, describes TB as a contagious disease, much like the common cold. When a person with the infection coughs, sneezes, talks or spits, germs known as bacilli are propelled into the air.

When another person inhales the germ, they too can become infected. The germs can survive in the air for several hours. Typical treatment for the disease includes a regimen of several medications. Quintana said the student suspected of having TB is currently under medical care. For more information regarding TB, visit the CDC Web site at

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The Gwinnett Gladiators begin their '08-'09 season

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Alpharetta senior gets perfect score on SAT

To say Alpharetta High School senior Marissa Pan is smart would be redundant – the 2400 she scored on the SAT speaks for itself.

Pan is the first student at AHS to obtain a perfect score on the notoriously difficult college entrance exam. She seemingly has it all: beauty, grace, brains and a brilliant future ahead of her.

"She is everything a teacher could ask for — sweet, caring, loving and well-rounded. It's true, everybody loves her," said AHS Spanish teacher, Claudia Alldredge.

The adulation is overwhelming to Pan, who couldn't believe her eyes when the score came in.

"I was in shock. I had to have someone else come over to the computer to make sure I wasn't reading the scores wrong," she said.

The three-hour and 45 minute SAT is broken down into three scored parts: math, reading and writing. Each part is worth 800 points. Pan got every question in the reading and math portions of the test correct, and then was given the highest possible score on the writing portion, which is more subjective.

"I think my family was in disbelief at first," she said, of her parents Yi and Michelle Pan, who immigrated to North Fulton from China. "But they're really proud of me."

Pan – whose favorite subjects are science and Spanish – hasn't yet applied to colleges, though it seems she will have her pick. She plans to apply to Georgia schools first, but Yale University is her ultimate goal.

For a student who just thinks of her self as "lucky," Pan sure works hard. She is on the student council, in the medical club, is president of the Spanish National Honor Society and tutors Spanish-speaking students. She also dances 20 hours per week, has participated in the Governor's Honors Program and the Junior Travel Program and has done some modeling. Not to mention the fact that she's fluent in English, Spanish and Chinese.

Even her intended major shows she's up for a challenge. She wants to study epidemiology (the study of health and illness factors within society).

"It uses my different strengths. I love science, and the languages I can speak would help me interact with different people," Pan said, who speaks Chinese at home with her family.

A lot of people would say that a student who scores a 2400 on the SAT is "lucky." But Alldredge said, like Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey's famous quote, that luck is the residue of preparation.

"She's not lucky. She is always challenging herself ... looking for ways to go beyond," said Alldredge. "She's a blessing to teach, she makes my job so pleasant. Students like her are the reason I teach."

Pan's number one piece of advice to other students looking to ace the SAT would be to get a practice book. It can help with deciphering the format of the test and being prepared for what is expected. Additionally, most books allow you to take practice tests, which can show you the areas in which you need to improve.

And keeping it all in perspective helps, too.

"Whatever you do, don't think your life hinges on [the SAT]. That will just stress you out," said Pan.

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Founders Day celebration expanding to weeklong affair in Johns Creek

Response to the City of Johns Creek's first Founders Day celebration marking the anniversary of the City's incorporation was so overwhelming last year that organizers are expanding the party to a full week, culminating in the Founders Day Parade on Saturday, Dec. 6.

Several thousand people turned out for last year's event, a day-long affair that featured the parade down State Bridge Road, a visit with Santa at Newtown Park, and culminating with a music and holiday light extravaganza at City Hall featuring performances by students of Johns Creek's award-winning schools.

This year, city officials are spreading out the events and adding even more activities to engage and delight residents young and old.

The festivities begin with lighting of the holiday display at City Hall on Monday, Dec. 1. Throughout the week there will be a holiday decoration-making event in conjunction with the Johns Creek Arts Center, the Mayor and City Council will read their favorite holiday tales in local schools, there will be a combination holiday card signing for the troops and Toys for Tots drive at City Hall, and Emory Johns Creek will host a holiday workshop featuring crafts and children's activities.

Details for several of the events are still being worked out, but it's not too early to make your plans to participate in the Founders Day parade. The first edition drew some 75 entries ranging from the popular Yaarab Shriners to high school marching bands, Scouts, community floats, classic cars and a special appearance by Santa himself. This year, organizers expect over 100 units to take part. If your neighborhood, school or other organization would like to be among them, fill out a parade application available on the City Web site and submit it by Nov. 7 to secure your space.

The route remains the same, travelling down State Bridge starting from West Morton Road and ending at Kimball Bridge Road at Ocee Elementary School. Emmy Award-winning news anchor and Johns Creek resident Karyn Greer from WXIA 11Alive News will once again serve as emcee.

To download a parade application, review the parade rules, and for Founders Day updates, check the City's Web site at

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Roswell author to address Tourette's

Roswell resident and author Brad Cohen will discuss Tourette Syndrome Oct. 15 at A 'Novel' Exchange Book Event and Benefit from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the Roswell Parks Adult Recreation Center on Grimes Bridge Road.

Cohen, who is the author of "Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had," will be discussing the abuse he has endured, the numerous obstacles he had to overcome to become a teacher and the difficulties he faced when looking for a job. Reservations are required.

Cohen has been featured on Oprah, in People Magazine and NPR, and a movie about his life is scheduled to air on CBS in December.

Guests are encouraged to bring a book and browse the "Book Swap Shoppe." Attendees will also be asked to submit the names of books they believe should be included on the "Best of 2008 Book List" when they RSVP. This comprehensive reading list will be distributed the evening of the party.

A minimum donation of $18 per person will be requested for admission. The money will go to the Georgia Tourette Syndrome Association of Georgia's Camp Twitch and Shout Fund to help children with Tourette Syndrome attend Camp Twin Lakes.

If you are interested in attending A 'Novel' Exchange Book Event & Benefit and want to hear Cohen speak, please email Israel at or phone (770) 667-1931.

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Par for Paws at the Atlanta Golf club

Enjoy a day on the links on Friday, Oct. 17 at the Olde Atlanta Golf Club with Par for Paws, a golf tournament benefiting the Humane Society of Forsyth County No-Kill Shelter's feral cat program.

Registration begins at 12:30 p.m., boxed lunches are served at 1p.m. followed by a shot-gun start at 2 p.m. The format is a four-person team scramble.

The $100 per player fee also includes a cocktail party following play. Those not wishing to play can attend the party for $25 per person.

Hole sponsorships are $250. Prizes will be awarded for Best Team Score, Longest Drive, and Closet to the Pin – and there will be raffles for other prizes. Tournament sponsor is Canongate Golf Clubs.

The golf club is at 5750 Olde Atlanta Parkway, Suwanee.

The cat program assists ferel and stray cat colony caregivers by providing humane traps, spay/neuter vouchers, rabies vaccinations and medical care, feeding stations and food. The Feral Cat Program has responded to 822 calls for help with stray cats and has spayed or neutered over 506 cats.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

PHOTO GALLERY: Johns Creek FD ceremony and ribbon cutting

The Johns Creek Fire Department launched Oct. 7. The department held a ceremony and ribbon cutting Oct. 11 at the fire station on Medlock Bridge Parkway.
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