It's fitting that in March, which is National Kidney month, the next film in Suwanee's Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers features a kidney donor and recipient. Perfect Strangers, which explores what motivates donors to act with such compassion, will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at the Suwanee Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.
The $6 admission ticket also allows filmgoers to meet and interact with the filmmaker.
Perfect Strangers tells the story of two unique, engaging characters: Ellie is determined to give away one of her kidneys. Kathy, who lives 500 miles away, endures nightly dialysis and is losing hope of receiving a transplant. Both women face unexpected challenges as their parallel stories twist and turn over the course of four years.
Filmmaker Jan Krawitz has independently produced documentary films for 35 years, exhibiting at film festivals and museums throughout the United States and abroad. She is director of the graduate program in documentary film and video in the department of art and art history at Stanford University.
Tickets are available at the theater or movietavern.com.
Races, concerts & festivals, oh my!
The City of Suwanee 2014 event calendar boasts more than 40 events and offers something for just about everyone.
Like to walk or run? Private organizations are offering more than a dozen walk/run events, including races as well as community walk/run evenings sponsored by Big Peach.
Like to gather with your friends? The 2014 calendar includes several popular festivals: Suwanee Beer Fest, the Braves Game on the Green, Star 94's Woofstock, and the North Gwinnett Arts Association's Arts in the Park, to name a few.
Like to eat? The very popular Food Truck Fridays have been extended. Come enjoy food truck fare the first Friday of the month from April through October (with the exception of July). A wing festival has been added as a component to the annual community concert in August.
Probably the most significant change to the event calendar is the expansion of Suwanee Day to a two-day festival. The fall community festival has been rebranded as Suwanee Fest and will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21. Click here to see the full event listing.
Season of 'fresh' returning soon
The season of fresh crops and locally produced honey, jams, salsas, baked goods, and more is nearing. And one of the best places to access all that good stuff is the Suwanee Farmers Market, which will return to Town Center on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings beginning in May.
Applications from those interested in selling their produce or other products at the market are now being accepted. The deadline for applications is Monday, March 24, and new vendors must attend the annual market meeting at 7 p.m. that evening at City Hall.
In addition to produce, herbs, and flowers, other items that may be sold at the market include jams, jellies, cakes, cookies, breads, pies, and honey as well as appropriately licensed meat, dairy, and organic products; eggs; and plants. No re-selling is permitted; products sold at the Suwanee Farmers Market must be grown or made by the vendor. Arts and crafts are not permitted at the market. See more detailed guidelines.
The 2014 Suwanee Farmers Market opens Saturday, May 3. Saturday markets are from 8 a.m.-noon through October 4. Tuesday markets are from 4-7 p.m. through August 5.
Super. Incredible. Fun!
On your mark, get ready, get set for some super incredible fun! The City of Suwanee will rev up the event season on Saturday, April 19, with its Super Incredible Day. The really, really fun day will begin at 3 p.m. with Suwanee's Super Incredible Race, a high-energy, clue-sleuthing team race featuring mental and physical challenges. Think Amazing Race meets small-town America.
Following the race, the City will host an incredibly fun spring concert at 7 p.m. with Eagles tribute band On the Border headlining. The concert is free and open to the public.
The Super Incredible Race tasks team members with solving about a dozen clues that require them to race to locations throughout downtown Suwanee where they will complete a variety of challenges.
"It's a great way to exercise your mind and body while discovering places you never knew existed right in your own backyard," wrote two-time participant Donna Whalen in an email to the City after last year's race.
Here's how to get in on the super incredible fun:
- Recruit a team member for the two-person category or sign up your spouse, children, siblings, or grandparents for a family team.
- Come up with a creative name for your team. C'mon, we mean it, get creative, have fun!
- Think about what costumes you can wear to match your team theme/name.
- Pre-registration is required; the deadline to register is April 4.
- Plan to bring a camera, smart phone or other means of Internet access, and one canned good per team member.
Going paperless Suwanee's paperless municipal court is part of what makes Suwanee a Green Community.
Green is a really good color for the City of Suwanee. So says the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), which recertified Suwanee in January as a Green Community. Suwanee first earned certification as a Green Community in 2009.
In order to be certified by the ARC as a Green Community, the City had to earn a certain level of points for environmentally friendly policies and practices. Suwanee was certified at a bronze level.
"We view ourselves as a leader in smart growth in metro Atlanta," says Senior Planner Daniel Robinson. "We put a lot of value in open space and parks. The ARC green certification fits with our efforts to be environmentally conscious and friendly."
Suwanee earned green points through several large initiatives, including obtaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for City Hall, reducing paper usage annually by some 30,000 sheets by transitioning to a paperless court and City Council, and saving nearly 50,000 miles over two years by fueling City vehicles at a local retailer rather than at a county facility in Buford. Additional points were scored, Robinson notes, by having sidewalks and bike paths along many streets, recycling at City Hall, and installing bike racks at all City facilities.
Disc golf course coming to Suwanee Creek Park
What will feature 18 holes that dog-leg left and right through a largely wooded course and have pars that range from 3-5 yet won't require golf clubs or balls "fore" fun? It's Suwanee's newest park enhancement: a disc golf course currently under construction at Suwanee Creek Park.
The Suwanee course, expected to open in the spring, will be the fourth disc course in Gwinnett County and the first to be installed by a city.
"A disc golf course was one of the suggestions that citizens put forward through the park enhancements survey we did in 2010," notes 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."
Suwanee's moderate-level course will begin and end near the Buckeye Pavilion at the top of the Suwanee Creek trailhead and will meander largely along the soft surface trail.
"Our course will be very wooded," says Roth. "Trees and other objects will be used to make it challenging. We're working around the natural environment as much as possible."
Photo by Cindy Cooksey
Historic district now part of National Register
Approximately 40 properties within a 56-acre area of Suwanee's historic Old Town district have now been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service approved the designation on December 24.
Suwanee's historic district is centered on Main Street, Stonecypher Road, Russell Street, and the railroad corridor. Contributing properties within the district will now be eligible for federal and state tax incentives for improvements that help preserve the property's historic value.
"This is undoubtedly a win for Suwanee," says City Councilmember Beth Hilscher, who is also a member of Suwanee's Downtown Development Authority, which nominated the area for inclusion in the National Register. "The registry designation is a step toward honoring Suwanee's heritage while providing tax incentives for those property owners willing to invest in the preservation of our historic properties. While I am personally looking forward to seeing the progress that will come about from renovations to Pierce's Corner, the district designation is great for other eligible property owners who may be able to avail themselves of the tax incentives."
According to a press release from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources: "National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property."
Linnea Miller joins City Council
When the calendar turns to 2014, Linnea Miller – wife, mother, preschool teacher, and community volunteer – will take on a new role: She will become the City of Suwanee's newest Councilmember.
Miller was the only candidate to qualify in August for the Post 3 City Council position. The Post 3 position has been filled since 2007 by Kevin McOmber, who opted not to run for re-election.
"I've always believed in giving back to the community," says Miller, "and have served where I'm planted. As a result, I've been involved in volunteer work in my children's school, our church, our neighborhood, and the community at large."
Most recently, Miller served as chair of the City's Public Arts Commission. She's also volunteered with Arts in the Park and Suwanee Day.
Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Miller and her husband of 19 years, Eric, moved to Suwanee 15 years ago. The Miller family includes four children ages 8-17, who currently are enrolled in Roberts Elementary, North Gwinnett Middle, and North Gwinnett High schools.
Suwanee PD earns national re-accreditation
The City of Suwanee Police Department has earned national re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), receiving recognition, according to CALEA, for "demonstrating a commitment to professional excellence in policy and practice."
Suwanee Police Chief Mike Jones, who accepted the accreditation award at the November CALEA national conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, notes that this is Suwanee's first re-accreditation, which can be harder to achieve than the original accreditation, which Suwanee earned in 2010.
"The first time," says Jones, "you're creating policies to meet CALEA's more than 400 standards. To get re-accredited, you have to prove that you've done what you said you would."
The CALEA assessment team that visited Suwanee in August wrote in its final report that the Suwanee Police Department "provides a superior level of law enforcement services to the citizens of Suwanee and Gwinnett County. The agency's accreditation program is one example of the agency's level of professional excellence."
CALEA accreditation is awarded for a three-year period.
Chief Jones adds: "We are able to provide better services to the community because of the CALEA standards we are required to meet."
'Suwanee in your pocket'
In its first few weeks, more than 600 people downloaded the City of Suwanee's new app and are engaging with the City via their mobile devices. Officially launched at Suwanee Day, the Go! Suwanee app has a dual purpose: to allow users to report and track non-emergency requests for services (such as potholes or a leaky park water fountain) and to access, through "mini apps," information about City events, parks, and social media links.
"Suwanee in your pocket," wrote one Android user about the new app. "Great way to keep up to date with a wonderful city…. This is a great start and definitely moving in the right direction."
You can put "Suwanee in your pocket," too, by downloading Go! Suwanee at either the Apple Store or Google Play. It's free! Currently, about two-thirds of downloads have been for iPhones. The service request component of Go! Suwanee also is available via this website.
Through October 21, the City had received 22 service requests through the app and website. Of those, 19 had been resolved or closed, notes Assistant to the City Manager Jessica Roth. The most common requests related to Suwanee parks and then street and sidewalk maintenance or repair.
"We're really pleased with the response to the app so far," notes Roth. "We want Go! Suwanee to have a definite, unique, and useful purpose. We're trying to not duplicate other apps, rather we want to provide a Suwanee-centric app."