A glimpse behind the badge

Get a glimpse behind the badge and gain a better understanding of some of the complex situations that Suwanee police officers experience through this fall's Citizens Police Academy. Classes will be held from 6:30-9 p.m. weekly beginning October 7, usually on Tuesdays but sometimes on Mondays depending on the week, at the Suwanee Police Training Center, 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. Classes will end December 9; check the online application for specific dates.

Registration is free, but notarized applications must be received by September 26.  Priority is given to City of Suwanee residents or to those who work within the City.

Topics covered include crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification.

The City of Suwanee Police Department offers this nine-week program to help strengthen the bond of friendship and cooperation among citizens and police officers. Through classes, citizens gain a better understanding of the risks and responsibilities of Suwanee police officers.

Final 2014 food truck event
on menu for October 3

Suwanee's final Food Truck Friday of 2014 will be held at Town Center Park on October 3. Come enjoy the music of the Hilaire Band and grab dinner from one of your favorite food trucks.

Food truck vendors expected to be on site include The Blaxican, Freckled and Blue, The Fry Guys, Hail Caesar, Mighty Meatballs, A Moveable Feast, Nana G's Chicken and Waffles, Tex's Tacos, and WOW!

Food will be served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. with music beginning at 7 p.m. Beer and wine may be purchased from licensed Town Center merchants.

Buford Highway project open house

Broad concept plans for reconstruction of Buford Highway as a context-sensitive, multi-transportation roadway will be shared at an open house on Thursday, October 9. The open house is a drop-in event from 5-7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue.

No formal presentations will be made during the open house, but representatives from the Georgia Department of Transportation, City of Suwanee, and URS, the City's planning consultant on this project, will be on hand. In addition, a court reporter will be available to record citizens' verbal comments about the project.

The City's vision for the future of Buford Highway, from George Pierce Park to McGinnis Ferry Road, calls for the roadway to remain a local road that accommodates multiple modes of transportation and helps connect residents and visitors to a variety of activity centers. The project is expected to include sidewalks, medians, additional turn lanes, bike lanes, landscaping, on-street parking, and a roundabout at Russell Street.

Construction on the project is expected to get underway sometime in 2016 and will require about two years. Funding for the reconstruction is anticipated to come from a variety of sources, including a Livable Centers Initiative grant through the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Snap – and share – Suwanee

Photos offer a great way to communicate – be it a thousand words or just 140 characters. The City of Suwanee's annual Snap! Suwanee photo competition provides a means for participants to capture and share images that communicate something telling about the Suwanee community.

Photo submissions for the 2015 Snap! Suwanee competition are now being accepted through December 31.

Photos submitted to the competition should represent the Suwanee community in some way and ideally be taken within the City of Suwanee limits. Click here for additional guidelines and an entry form.

Winning photographs will be exhibited, beginning in March 2015, for an approximately one-year period at City Hall.

Photographers may also share their entries with via Instagram. Use the hashtag #snapsuwanee15.

Photos by Karl Lamb

Fore! Disc golf course is open

Suwanee's new disc golf course at Suwanee Creek Park is now open on a first-come basis to area residents. Hole one is located near the Buckeye Pavilion, but golfers may start play from any of the course's 18 holes.

"A disc golf course was one of the suggestions that citizens put forward through the park enhancements survey we did in 2010," says Assistant to the City Manager Jessica Roth. "It fits with the passive nature of Suwanee Creek Park yet offers another reason for folks to come use the park."

The course opened on May 3 with a tournament organized by the Gwinnett Disc Golf Organization. About 80 people played in the tournament. Designed by John David, a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association's Hall of Fame, Suwanee's moderate-level course begins and ends near the Buckeye Pavilion at the top of the Suwanee Creek Greenway trailhead and meanders largely along the soft surface trail. No fee or registration is required to use the course.

Early users of the course seem to be impressed. "Awesome course," said Jennifer Montgomery on the course's Facebook page. "Tight and technical, keeps you honest! And heads up y'all, 15, 16 and 17 are brutal!"

"Great addition to the Gwinnett Disc Golf scene," said Kason Moody. "Lenora is pretty much wide open, Alexander is the perfect mix of open and wooded, Suwanee Creek is a beautiful, wooded, and technical course…. A great course to get better at your accuracy."

Click on the image to enlarge a photo.

City starts new fiscal year

At its June 24 meeting, City Council approved a $13.6 million fiscal year 2015 Citywide operating budget. The FY15 balanced budget anticipates that revenues will be down slightly by almost 2 percent, Suwanee's millage rate will remain 4.93 mills, and no resources from the City's fund balance will be required. Suwanee's fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30.

The general fund is the City's main operating fund and is proposed to total $11.2 million, with Suwanee's debt payment accounting for another $1.6 million in expenses. Operating expenditures for the general fund are anticipated to increase by about 5 percent.

Suwanee's FY15 budget funds downtown and public art master plans, a new public works equipment operator position, 10.5 percent increase in health insurance expenses, and a merit salary increase for employees, up to 4 percent depending upon performance.

"Overall," says City Manager Marty Allen, "our 2015 budget conveys our community's financial stability. Revenues are anticipated to be similar to 2014's with a small increase in expenses. When Standard & Poor's upgraded our bond rating to AAA earlier this year, they told us that some of what they liked about Suwanee was our financial stability, conservative fiscal policies, and healthy fund balance."

2014 SPLOST will reduce
transportation travails

Together Gwinnett County and the City of Suwanee have allocated approximately $20 million in 2014 SPLOST funding toward various transportation and sidewalk improvement projects throughout the Suwanee area. Voters approved the three-year countywide one-penny sales tax program in November, and collections began in April.

Gwinnett County has allocated approximately $12.6 million to four Suwanee-area projects that it will undertake through its Department of Transportation:

  • construct an interchange at I-85 and McGinnis Ferry Road
  • widen Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to six lanes between McGinnis Ferry and Moore roads
  • implement intersection improvements, including adding a turn lane and improving pedestrian safety, at Peachtree Industrial and Suwanee Dam (this project is a secondary priority)
  • implement intersection improvements at Suwanee Dam and West Price roads

"These projects will improve traffic and travel in the area and serve well all residents who live in the area," says Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks, who represents District 1, which includes the City of Suwanee. "I'm pleased that we are able to use SPLOST funds to effectively serve so many."

The City of Suwanee will work jointly with Gwinnett County to fund four additional projects, with the county contributing $1.86 million. These projects include installing sidewalks where there are gaps on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard near McGinnis Ferry Road, Smithtown Road, and Suwanee Dam Road near North Gwinnett High School.

Suwanee employs geese police

The Canada geese at Sims Lake Park must have heard about Suwanee being one of the country's best places to live. As it turns out, though, Canada geese aren't very good "tenants" at public parks. They're messy, rude, noisy, and, sometimes, aggressive.

So, the City of Suwanee is undertaking a humane strategy to "evict" the geese from Sims Lake Park, using trained border collies with Geese Police of North Georgia to convince the loud water fowl to move elsewhere. Ducks at the park will not be impacted by the program.

"Over time, the goose population at Sims Lake Park has grown, and they really create a mess," says Public Works Director James Miller. "The birds are prolific poopers, often leaving their waste on the paved trail and stone streamscape. Waste from the geese is raising aesthetic, safety, health, and lake water quality concerns."

Geese graze constantly, and each goose can generate 1.5 pounds of waste on a daily basis.

"Through Geese Police of North Georgia," says Miller, "trained border collies will convince the geese that it's no longer safe to make their home at Sims Lake Park. The dogs never actually touch the birds, and this process is approved by various wildlife agencies, the Humane Society, and PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals]."

Fresh and local

Fresh produce, spicy salsas, sweet honey, and colorful flowers return to Town Center when the Suwanee Farmers Market opens for the 2014 season on Saturday, May 3. The farmers market will be open from 8 am-noon Saturdays through October 4 and 4-7 pm Tuesdays through August 5.

In addition to produce, herbs, and flowers, other items available at the market include jams, jellies, cakes, cookies, breads, pies, and honey as well as eggs, plants, and meat, dairy, and organic products.

"We're excited and amazed that the Suwanee Farmers Market is already in its 10th season," says Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "We've been fortunate to have a loyal group of farmers and other vendors as well as a lot of regular customers. The market has really become not only a great place to find fresh, delicious items, but also a place for old friends to gather."


Town Center Park, circa August 2003

S&P upgrades City to highest rating

Standard & Poor's (S&P), one of the big three among financial rating agencies, has upgraded the City of Suwanee's rating for its general obligation bond debt to AAA, the highest rating available.

After completing a review of the City's rating, which had been AA, S&P upgraded the City to AAA with a stable outlook based on the City's continued economic expansion. "We consider the City's economy to be very strong," S&P says in its report. "The stable outlook reflects our anticipation that the City will maintain its very strong liquidity and budgetary flexibility."

Suwanee is one of only four Georgia cities to have earned a AAA rating from S&P. The others are Roswell, Peachtree City, and Smyrna, which also was just upgraded. Alpharetta has a AAA rating from Moody's.

"This is like going to the doctor and getting a really clean bill of health," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "We are confident that Suwanee is fiscally strong with sound financial policies and practices, but sometimes people don't believe you unless someone else says it's so. We're extremely proud that S&P has independently found Suwanee to be extremely fiscally fit."

The City of Suwanee initially obtained a general obligation rating in 2002 when it issued bonds to fund its award-winning open space initiative, which resulted in the acquisition of more than 300 acres of greenspace and the creation of six parks. The City's initial rating was a AA- from both S&P and Fitch Ratings. Since then, the ratings from each agency have been periodically recalibrated and upgraded. The City currently has a AA+ rating from Fitch.

Cowboy Dancers by Alan Akins Around the Bend by Kyle Breen Pump Up Suwanee by Kyle Breen Sayonara Summer by Autumn Crowley Millenials are the Image Nation by Andrew Draper Recovery by Andrew Draper I've Got My Eyes on You by Carla Hoff Reflection by Boo Kirsch Hynes Colorful Cultural Sounds by Karl Lamb Quiet Time by Karl Lamb Iron Angel by Jammie Partee Monkey in the Middle by Laura Shinliver Remember by Terry Vegte
Click on the image to enlarge a photo.

2014 Snap Suwanee winners

Suwanee's new 9-11 memorial, other public art, parks, and events are featured in the 2014 Snap Suwanee photo exhibit, currently on display at Suwanee City Hall. Thirteen photographs by 10 different photographers were selected to be part of the 2014 exhibit, which will remain on display at least through the remainder of the year.

Each year the City of Suwanee hosts a community photo competition. This year, 76 Snap Suwanee entries were received from 23 photographers. The winning photos are displayed in the first floor foyer area at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. The exhibit may be viewed 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For the first time this year, some of the winning photographs were submitted via Instagram.

"They say that a picture's worth a thousand words," says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. "Each of the Snap Suwanee winning photos tells a story about the Suwanee community. We're excited to share the colorful, contemplative vision portrayed in the 2014 exhibit."

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