2013 News Releases

December 27, 2013

SNAP! SUWANEE DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 31

The deadline for the City of Suwanee's annual Snap! Suwanee photo competition is fast approaching. Photographers may submit up to five Suwanee community photos to the competition through December 31.

Photos submitted to the competition should represent the Suwanee community in some way and ideally will be taken within the City of Suwanee limits. Additional guidelines and applications are available at suwanee.com.

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

This year for the first time, the City is inviting photographers to share their entries with the community via Instagram. Use the hashtag #snapsuwanee.


December 20, 2013

POST-HOLIDAY PLANS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE

Sure, your real Christmas tree is all green, sparkly, and fragrant now. But what about after Christmas? Through the Bring One for the Chipper program, the City of Suwanee can at least help keep your tree "green" after the holiday.

Once again this year, the City of Suwanee is participating in Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful's Bring One for the Chipper program, through which real Christmas trees are transformed into mulch for parks. Last year, the City of Suwanee mulched 1,419 Christmas trees, and all of that mulch was used in City parks.

Former live Christmas trees (undecorated and unadorned) may be dropped in a designated area at Sims Lake Park from December 26-January 18. From 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, January 4, volunteers will be on hand to assist with tree disposal and to provide free seed packets.


December 19, 2013

SUWANEE'S FINEST: OFFICERS, OTHER CITY EMPLOYEES RECOGNIZED

Suwanee police officers and other employees were recognized recently by the City of Suwanee for service that exceeds expectations.

Three police officers received Merit Awards in recognition of their exemplary service on specific calls. Ofc. Chance Belcher received two, one for thinking and acting quickly to get an injured driver out of her burning vehicle and the other for judicious pursuit and the eventual arrest of burglary suspects.

Ofc. Robert McCoy, who also was selected as Officer of the Year by his colleagues, received a Merit Award for running into a blazing home – twice – and rescuing the two homeowners. Cpl. Susan Roetzer was awarded for her work and conscientious attention to developing a new departmental Field Training Officer Manual.

Others officers recognized by the police department include:

  • Ofc. Clinton Latham – received the Chief's Award for consistent high-quality work and his positive representation of the department.
  • Ofc. Brandon Mathews – also received the Chief's Award for his excellent work on the department's efforts to attain CALEA national re-accreditation.
  • Gwen Franklin – selected by police department employees as Civilian of the Year.
  • Sgt. Robert Thompson – named Top Gun for earning the highest score on the department's qualifying pistol course.

Other City of Suwanee employees also were recognized, during a December 12 event, for exemplary service that underscores the City's four anchor qualities:
Suwanee Quality – Wendy Budd, finance; James Miller, public works
Unique – Juan Beltran, public works; Catherine Eidson – municipal court
Visionary – Lynne DeWilde, community and economic development; Capt. Cass Mooney, police
Remarkable – Ofc. Elias Casanas, police; William Manigault, public work

Several employees were recognized for receiving complements from citizen-customers and were awarded SEE (Suwanee Exceeds Expectations) awards: Sgt. Jeff Dickens, police; Ofc. Elton Hassell, police; Trinity Hsu, finance; Annette Phelps, planning & inspections; and David Woulard, public works.


December 12, 2013

MAYORS' PRIDE ON THE LINE, TOO,
IN SATURDAY'S STATE HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

One thing's for sure, the next AAAAAA state football champs will be from Gwinnett County. But will it be the North Gwinnett Bulldogs or the Norcross Blue Devils who leave the Georgia Dome field victorious Saturday night? There's a lot of pride – and bragging rights – riding on the Region 7 rivals' championship game, and the mayors of Suwanee and Norcross want in on the fun.

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson and Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, who quarterbacked a much less successful Bulldogs team in the late 1960s, have placed a small wager on Saturday's outcome. The mayor of the vanquished team will display on his personal vehicle through the end of the school year the logoed license plate of the victors' hometown. So if the Bulldogs win, Johnson will sport the City of Suwanee's new logo on the front of his vehicle, but if the Blue Devils win, Burnette's vehicle will bear Norcross' "A Place to Imagine" license plate.

"We're imagining the Blue Devils bringing home another state championship trophy to Norcross," says Johnson.

"We're excited that a Gwinnett County team will be the 6-A state football champs," says Burnette, "but we'll really be celebrating when it turns out to be the North Gwinnett Bulldogs."


December 5, 2013

SUWANEE CABOOSE LIGHTING RESCHEDULED

With a stormy forecast for tomorrow evening, one that would make even Rudolph fret, the City of Suwanee has rescheduled its annual Caboose Lighting and Holiday Festival. The event will now be held at 5 p.m. Sunday, December 15, on Main Street in historic Old Town.

The rescheduled event will feature choruses from Level Creek, Riverside, Roberts, and Suwanee elementary schools, who will serenade the crowd and usher in Santa with a variety of holiday tunes. Traveling into town along Main Street, Santa will pause to magically light the red caboose before heading to the Burnette-Rogers Pavilion where children can share their wishes and get their photo taken.  Parents, be sure to bring a camera with you.

Cookies, hot chocolate, and s'mores will be available while supplies last.


November 26, 2013

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO (HISTORIC OLD) TOWN

The jolly ol' elf is scheduled to arrive in Suwanee Friday, December 6. In addition to providing face time with Santa, the City of Suwanee's annual Caboose Lighting and Holiday Festival will feature performances by local elementary school choruses, craft activities, and s'mores. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. on Main Street in historic Old Town.

Children from Level Creek, Riverside, Roberts, and Suwanee elementary schools will serenade the crowd and usher in Santa with a variety of holiday tunes. Traveling into town along Main Street, Santa will pause to magically light the red caboose before heading to the Burnette-Rogers Pavilion where children can share their wishes and get their photo taken.  Parents, be sure to bring a camera with you.

"I always enjoy visiting Suwanee," says Santa Claus. "There sure are a lot of good boys and girls who live there. The Caboose Lighting is a low-key, come-as-you-are way of welcoming my favorite time of year."

Cookies, hot chocolate, and s'mores will be available while supplies last.


November 25, 2013

SNAP! SUWANEE

You've been snapping away, and the City of Suwanee wants to see your best photos taken throughout the year at parks, events, home, school, special occasions, and anywhere a little photo magic has occurred. The City is accepting entries to its annual Snap! Suwanee photo competition through December 31.

"This competition is a fun way for residents to share their vision and personal photographs that help demonstrate why national publications continually name Suwanee as one of the country's best places to live," says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. "The old saying that a picture's worth a thousand words certainly remains truer than ever in our go-go, digital world."

Photos submitted to the competition should represent the Suwanee community in some way and ideally will be taken within the City of Suwanee limits. Additional guidelines and applications are available at suwanee.com.

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

This year for the first time, the City is inviting photographers to share their entries with the community via Instagram. Use the hashtag #snapsuwanee.


November 21, 2013

SUWANEE PD RECOGNIZED FOR 'PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE
IN POLICY AND PRACTICE'

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 CALEA national conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, last week, 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."


October 31, 2013

BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS IN A BOTTLE:
SUWANEE'S INDEPENDENT FILM SERIES RETURNS

Forget about swirling, sniffing, and sipping…. Harvest, the next film in Suwanee's Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, takes a look at the back-breaking manual labor and 2 a.m. night pickings that go into harvesting grapes and making wine. The feature-length documentary to be shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 12, at Movie Tavern, follows five family wineries in Sonoma County, California, during the 2011 harvest, which turned out to be the worst in that region in 50 years.

Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with filmmaker John Beck, who spends his time directing and producing documentaries, shooting promotional videos, and writing as a freelance journalist. The winner of numerous film festival awards, Beck was born in Nashville but now lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

Tickets are $6 each and available at Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, or online at movietavern.com. Suwanee's independent film series will continue with three additional films to be shown in February, March, and April.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.


October 16, 2013

TREK OR TREAT

Youngsters are invited to test out their costumes and get a head start on Halloween festivities at the City of Suwanee's annual Trek or Treat event. The event will be from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, October 26, at Suwanee Creek Park, 1170 Buford Highway.

Activities include festival games, crafts, inflatables, dance competitions, and pictures with Parker, the City of Suwanee's oversized canine mascot. A free hot dog lunch will be available while supplies last.

Trek or Treat is a free event designed particularly for children 10 and younger. For a more "thrilling" Halloween experience, older children and adults might consider the Aurora Theatre's Terror on the Trail, taking place at Sims Lake Park on Friday and Saturday evenings through the end of October. Tickets and information are available at www.scarystroll.com/tot.html.


October 8, 2013

WANT TO HOST A 2014 EVENT IN SUWANEE? APPLY NOW

As part of its community-building, the City of Suwanee hosts some 40 events each year, including festivals, foot races, and food truck events. Planning for these events, hosted primarily at Town Center Park, a venue of choice among event-planners around the region, begins well in advance; in fact, it begins now for 2014.

To ensure that your event is considered for the 2014 event calendar, complete and return the City of Suwanee event application by December 6. Once the City's event calendar is adopted early in 2014, additional events are not typically added. See event guidelines.

"Suwanee prides itself on offering a mix of traditional favorites and new events each year," says Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "We welcome a variety of ideas – and applications – that represent the various flavors, cultures, and interests of our community."

Submission of an event application does not necessarily constitute approval. Applications are reviewed, and applicants will be notified regarding the status of their application by the end of January.

For additional information, contact Amy Doherty at adoherty@suwanee.com or 770-945-8996.


October 8, 2013

SUWANEE BEGINS YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM

The City of Suwanee is launching a new youth leadership initiative to build up young leaders in the community and outside the classroom. The nine-month Suwanee Youth Leaders program will begin in January. Applications are available at suwanee.com; the application deadline is October 25.

The program is designed for high school sophomores and juniors in the North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge clusters, including students who attend private or home-based schools.

Suwanee is developing the program, says Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson, in response to the City's 20/20 Vision strategic plan, adopted last year, which calls for encouraging youth involvement in civic and community planning.

"We want our youth to have a strong voice and active role in planning the City's success," says Brinson. "Young people are the future of our community, and we want to engage their energy, enthusiasm, and ability to think outside the box. Our program is meant to complement programs offered through the schools while also providing a direct link to civic and community leaders."

The Suwanee Youth Leaders program will help students develop team-building, communication, and leadership skills. The initiative will include monthly programs and small-group meetings and will culminate with hands-on community service opportunities.

For more information, visit suwanee.com or contact Denise Brinson at denise@suwanee.com 770-945-8996.


October 3, 2013

ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH FOR 'TERROR ON THE TRAIL'?

The Aurora Theatre and City of Suwanee are teaming up again this year to offer scary tales and spooky chills through zombie-inspired Terror on the Trail tours at Sims Lake Park.

Over the last three weekends of October, the normally idyllic Sims Lake Park will be transformed at night into a spooky backdrop for six tortured souls who have been charged by their zombie captors with dispensing tales of terror as listeners warily make their way around the park's seven-acre lake. Sims Lake Park is at 4600 Suwanee Dam Road.

The Terror on the Trail webpage warns: "It is the season of horror and, if you dare to hear these tales, a living nightmare awaits you. Not in some cozy haunted house, but in the dark, in the woods, around a lake."

The 75-minute haunted tours begin at 7 each evening Friday and Saturday, October 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, and 26. The final tour begins at 9:30 each evening. Tickets are available in advance for $15 at www.terroronthetrail.com or by calling the Aurora Theatre Box Office at 678-226-6222. Tickets also may be purchased at Sims Lake Park for $18.

The Terror on the Trail experience lies somewhere between classic storytelling and a haunted house visit. While there are some special effects, nothing will jump out to startle visitors. The tour is not recommended for children under 10; children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Guests are encouraged to wear appropriate footwear and to dress for the weather. No flashlights please (zombies don't like light). While the tour is wheelchair accessible, strollers are not permitted.


September 27, 2013

'BENDING STICKS' NEXT UP IN INDEPENDENT FILM SERIES

Bending Sticks: The Sculpture of Patrick Dougherty, the next film to be screened through the City of Suwanee's participation in the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, will be shown Tuesday, October 8.  The film will begin at 7 p.m. at Movie Tavern; individual tickets are $6 and include an opportunity to interact with filmmakers.

Bending Sticks celebrates the 25-year career of internationally renowned environmental artist Patrick Dougherty, whose projects invite collaboration and engage communities in the making and viewing of his very public art. The film follows the artist and his collaborators over a year as they transform piles of sticks into energetic lines and exuberant forms in five different communities.

Bending Sticks was created by award-winning filmmaker, cinematographer, and editor Kenny Dalesheimer and award-winning producer Penny Maunsell. Dalesheimer, who has a master's degree in anthropology from Duke University, creates locally inspired documentaries, produces nonprofit videos, and teaches youth video workshops. Maunsell travels all over the country and internationally making recruitment and fundraising films and videos.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tickets are available at Movie Tavern, located at 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, or online at movietavern.com.


September 26, 2013

DOORS TO HOMES AND HOPE

Knock, knock: A unique art exhibit of approximately 150 artist-painted doors will be on display in locations throughout Gwinnett County during the month of October, including at Suwanee's Sims Lake Park.

The Doors to Homes & Hope exhibit is designed to support both families in need of decent, affordable homes and the arts in Gwinnett County. Proceeds from auctioning/selling the doors will benefit Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity/ReStore and ArtWorks! Gwinnett.

The exhibit will open October 5 and close November 2, when all the doors will be brought to Sims Lake Park for auction pick-up and onsite purchases. Through October, approximately 30 doors are expected to be exhibited at Sims Lake Park with a few more on display at Town Center Park. Other doors will be displayed in locations throughout Gwinnett County, including in Duluth, Norcross, and Snellville.

"Some of the doors are spectacular," says Stacie Stamper, donations coordinator with Habitat for Humanity's Gwinnett ReStore. "I'm in awe of the artistic talent we have hiding in plain sight here in Gwinnett County."

Information about the auction and individual doors will be available at GwinnettRestore.org as the exhibit date gets closer. Bids will be accepted only via text.

In addition, a World Habitat Day Salute will be held at Suwanee's Town Center Park at 12:30 p.m. Monday, October 7. This event is free and open to the public.


September 26, 2013

SURVEY SAYS…SUWANEE'S A WINNER

The City of Suwanee was one of a dozen communities from around the nation – and one of two in Georgia – to be recognized for service excellence at the recent International City/County Management Association (ICMA) annual conference in Boston.

Suwanee received three Voice of the People Awards for Excellence for obtaining outstanding resident ratings through the 2012 National Citizen Survey in three categories: code enforcement, overall service quality, and parks. These ratings placed Suwanee among the three highest-rated communities among all eligible jurisdictions nationwide in each category.

Voice of the People Awards are presented by ICMA and the National Research Center.

The City of Suwanee participates biennially in the National Citizen Survey in order to gather valuable citizen data to help inform budgeting, goal-setting, performance measurement, and program planning.

Decatur also was recognized by ICMA for service excellence.


September 16, 2013

SUWANEE TO LAUNCH NEW MOBILE APP AT SUWANEE DAY

The City of Suwanee will launch Go! Suwanee, its new mobile app, at this Saturday's Suwanee Day festival (September 21). Festival-attendees who download the Suwanee app will receive a free lanyard printed with the City's new logo.

Go! Suwanee allows residents to make service requests on the go, find out what's happening next in Suwanee, and discover the community's distinctive parks.

Created in cooperation with New York-based PublicStuff, the app is now available via the Apple App and Google Play stores. Residents who need assistance downloading or who want to pick up their free lanyard should check in Saturday at the City of Suwanee/ Festival Information booth in front of City Hall.

"This project aligns with our 20/20 Vision strategic plan, which calls for employing new technologies to communicate and engage with citizens," says Assistant to the City Manager Jessica Roth. "In addition, City Council really wants citizens to be able to submit service requests from their phones."

Service requests also may be submitted through Go! Suwanee via the City's website, suwanee.com. Simply click on the Go! Suwanee icon (the Suwanee S) at the bottom right of the homepage.

Additional components to the app will be released through future updates.


September 16, 2013

SUWANEE DAY PARADE MARCHES TO A DIFFERENT ROUTE;
CONVENIENT OFF-SITE PARKING AVAILABLE

A parade will kick off Suwanee Day festivities this Saturday as usual, but participants will be marching to a different route. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. at Stonecypher Road heading up Main Street, then east on Suwanee Dam, and down Buford Highway, in front of Town Center Park, and ending at Chicago Avenue.

This year's parade theme is: 30 Years of Celebrating Suwanee – Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, Looking to the Future. Collins Hill High School graduate Kyle Maynard, a speaker, author, and award-winning mixed martial arts athlete, is the 2013 grand marshal. In January 2012, Maynard became the first quadruple amputee to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics.

Part art festival, part music/entertainment festival, and partly a fun-for-all-ages event, Suwanee Day will be held from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, September 21, at Town Center Park. In addition to the kick-off parade, the day's festivities also include arts & crafts vendors, yummy festival food, on-stage entertainment, inflatable rides, free Fastball concert, and fireworks.

Suwanee Day attendees are encouraged to take advantage of convenient off-site parking locations and a free shuttle service to Town Center Park. The shuttle service will run from 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., with limited service during the parade, from approximately 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Off-site parking is available at:
Shadowbrook Baptist Church - 4187 Suwanee Dam Road

Shawnee North Business Center - 305 Shawnee North Drive (at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road)

Southeastern Freight - 3655 Windsor Park Drive (Near the intersection of Buford Highway & McGinnis Ferry Road)
IMPORTANT: Enter from Buford Highway only.


September 9, 2013

A GLIMPSE BEHIND THE BADGE

Are you a cop show junkie? Can't wait for the new seasons of Law & Order, CSI, or NCIS? Well, you may be interested in a real-life "behind the scenes" program being offered by the Suwanee Police Department: a hands-on, eight-week course that promises to be more realistic, personal, and impactful than watching a really good television cop show.

The Suwanee Police Department will offer its popular Citizens Police Academy from 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday evenings beginning October 1 at the Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

Those wishing to participate must provide notarized applications by 5 p.m. Friday, September 20. Applications are available at suwanee.com. Applicants must be at least 19 years old, and City of Suwanee residents receive priority placement.

The program offers participants a better understanding of the day-to-day functions, risks, and experiences of Suwanee police officers. Topics addressed include crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification.

A 2012 Citizens Police Academy participant said in an evaluation: "The program is very informative, and it helps to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement."


September 4, 2013

SUWANEE DAY CELEBRATES 30 – AND COMMUNITY!

Suwanee Day Schedule of Events
Saturday, September 21
Town Center Park

Free shuttle transportation from off-site parking begins ~ 7:30 am
Parade ~ 9 am
Arts & crafts exhibitors ~ 9 am-5 pm
Inflatable rides, children's activities ~ 9 am-7:30 pm
Free entertainment ~ 10 am-10 pm
Fastball in Concert ~ 8:15 pm
Fireworks ~ 9:45 pm
Free shuttle transportation to off-site parking ends ~ 10:30 pm

For the 30th time, the Suwanee community – and several thousand others – will gather to celebrate Suwanee Day. Part art festival, part music/entertainment festival, and partly a fun-for-all-ages event, Suwanee's annual "celebration of community" will be held Saturday, September 21, at Town Center Park. The day's festivities also include a parade, yummy festival food, inflatable rides, free Fastball concert, and fireworks.

"We like to say that Suwanee Day is the best one-day festival around," says Events Manager Amy Doherty, noting that this year's Suwanee Day is a Southeastern Tourism Society Top 20 event. "We pack an awful lot into 13 hours. Thanks to our generous sponsors and hard-working volunteers, each festival seems to get just a little bit better."

This year's festival will feature about 200 vendors, more than 100 of them offering a variety of fine art, arts and crafts, and jewelry.

This year's Suwanee Day planning committee had to be more selective than ever as the festival received almost twice the number of exhibitor applications as there are spaces, says Doherty. "We really feel that the quality of craftsmanship and creativity are going to be better than ever," she says. "The 2013 festival will offer a fabulous, eclectic array of everything handmade from soaps to signs and edibles to earrings. I can't wait to shop myself!"

In addition, the City of Suwanee will officially celebrate the launch of its new logo at Suwanee Day with branded give-aways and t-shirts for purchase.

Suwanee Day festivities will begin as they always do – with a parade. The parade will start at 9 a.m., but participants will be marching this year to a different route. The parade will begin on Main Street at Stonecypher Road heading north to Suwanee Dam and then south on Buford Highway, passing in front of Town Center Park and ending at Chicago Avenue.

The Suwanee Day entertainment line-up includes creatures that slither and fly as well as sing and dance. Irish dancers and belly dancers, bands playing rhythm and blues and traditional island music will be among those performing on the main stage. Western Trails and a Reptile Wagon will provide entertainment for the young-at-heart in the children's area.

The day's festivities will close with a free concert by Fastball, interactive dance performance, and fireworks display. Fastball will take the stage at 8:15 p.m. Formed in Austin, Texas, Fastball skyrocketed up the Billboard music charts in 1998 with its second album, All the Pain Money Can Buy. The album went platinum in just six months, and hits included "The Way," "Out of My Head," and "Fire Escape." The Grammy-nominated alternative rock band released its latest single, "Love Comes in Waves," earlier this year.


September 3, 2013

DEDICATION TO FEATURE 9-11 ARTIFACT, SCULPTURE

The City of Suwanee will hold a brief dedication ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 11, for an artistic display created to memorialize 9-11-2001. The display, created by Statesboro artist Marc Moulton, features a damaged, twisted relic from one of the World Trade Center towers, which was given to Suwanee a couple of years ago by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Since unveiling the artifact two years ago, the City has worked to determine a permanent location and create an appropriate display for the artifact, which was part of an exterior steel panel from floors 101-104 of one of the twin towers. Late last year, Suwanee's Public Arts Commission solicited proposals and ultimately contracted with Moulton to create the permanent display, which is being installed at Town Center Park in a raised area near the brick outer wall along Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

In addition to the 1,628-pound World Trade Center artifact, which stands to the side, the Remembrance display will include a 9-11 historical timeline with stainless steel letters and numbers embedded into a cement pad. An inverted conical sculpture, with the lower Manhattan cityscape cut into it, will stand in the middle of the pad. At night, a light-shadow impression, which offers an aerial view of the cityscape, will be projected onto the pad.

A sculpture professor at Georgia Southern University, Moulton has created public art projects for more than 20 years, but Remembrance is the first with such historical significance.

"I've never done anything quite like this," Moulton says. "I hope that it will provide a sense of respect and remembrance for the world-altering events it marks. And for those who weren't born yet, I hope the display offers a little bit of the history of 9-11."

The dedication ceremony, which will include a performance by the North Gwinnett High School Advanced Chamber Orchestra, is free and open to the public. It will take place at the Remembrance display site at Town Center Park.


August 28, 2013

INDEPENDENT FILM SERIES RETURNS TO SUWANEE

2013-14 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers

September 9 Pride & Joy
October 8 Bending Sticks
November 12 Harvest
February 24 Bidder 70
March 18 Perfect Strangers
April 9 The Retrieval

Screenings are at 7 p.m. at Movie Tavern and will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. Individual tickets are $6.

Southern food traditions, public art, and wine harvesting will be the first topics featured when the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers returns to Suwanee this fall. In all, six independent films will be screened at Movie Tavern as part of the visual arts program, and attendees will have an opportunity to discuss each film with the award-winning filmmakers.

Screenings will be at 7 p.m. on the scheduled dates. Tickets are available at Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, and via the theater's website, movietavern.com. Individual tickets are $6 each; a six-film package also is available for $30 and includes a complimentary glass of wine.

Pride & Joy, an introduction to the foodways of America's most delicious region, will be the first film screened on Monday, September 9. Six years and more than 5,000 highway miles in the making, Pride & Joy is an hour-long documentary that explores the South's food culture, presenting intimate portraits of people and places and offering insights into the region's complex history and bright future.

Filmmaker Joe York hails from Glencoe, Alabama. He received a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Auburn University and a master's degree in Southern studies from the University of Mississippi, where he currently is senior producer of documentary projects. Named Food Filmmaker of the Year at the New York Film Festival in 2009, York has won a bevy or other accolades at film festivals in the South and beyond.

This is the City of Suwanee's second year participating in the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, which is a program of South Arts.  Southern Circuit screenings are funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

"If folks would give these independent films a chance, I think they'd be really impressed," says Toni Shrewsbury, special projects coordinator. "There was this couple last year. Apparently, the husband, when he learned that his wife had ordered tickets to the circuit, told her that he hoped she would be taking one of her friends. She then informed him that he would be going with her, and he griped the entire way to Movie Tavern. After that film, though, he was hooked and looked forward to attending each and every one of the screenings."


August 28, 2013

COUNCIL APPROVES 2013 MILLAGE RATE

The City of Suwanee's millage rate for 2013 will remain the same at 4.93 mills. The rate was set last night during the August City Council meeting.

Suwanee's millage rate has remained the same or been reduced each year for over a decade. Last year the City implemented a 0.72-mill reduction.

Suwanee began its new fiscal year July 1 with a $12,164,990 balanced budget in place. Property taxes, which include real and personal property as well as motor vehicle, mobile homes, and intangible taxes, account for approximately 39 percent of the City's FY2014 budgeted revenue. Suwanee anticipates a 1.2 percent decrease in property tax revenue for the current budget year.

The City of Suwanee will issue property tax notices in October with payment due by December 20.


August 27, 2013

BACK-TO-BACK EVENTS IN SUWANEE FIRST WEEKEND IN SEPT.

The City of Suwanee will welcome food trucks to Town Center for the final time this year on Friday, September 6, while B at the Movies presents Men in Black 3 the following evening, Saturday, September 7.

Vendors scheduled for September's Food Truck Friday event include Atlanta Burger Company, Champion Cheesesteak, Healthy Nut, King of Pops, Mac the Cheese, Nana G's Chicken and Waffles, Pressed for Time, Tex's Tacos, and Yumbii. Food trucks will be set up and ready to serve beginning at 6 p.m. Beatles tribute band The Buggs will perform beginning at 7 p.m.

In Men in Black 3, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, this time along with Josh Brolin, confront aliens-gone-bad once again and, along the way, save Earth as well. Presented by B98 radio, this time-travel sci-fi comedy is rated PG-13. The movie will begin at dusk (about 8:30ish) Saturday with festivities beginning at 7 p.m.

"This mostly solid sequel is a return to form for the series and just stellar enough to make it a must-see for fans of summer popcorn fare, no matter your age," writes We Got This Covered critic Kristal Cooper on RottenTomatoes.com. Men in Black 3, adds Scene-Stealers.com critic Eric Melin, "deepens the relationship between J and K, but it's still really a showcase for more of the same offbeat humor and imaginative special effects…."


August 26, 2013

OLD TOWN AREA NOMINATED TO NATIONAL REGISTER

Last week the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) unanimously approved nomination of an approximately 67-acre area in Old Town to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the country's official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, and districts worthy of preservation; an eligible property's inclusion on the list allows owners to receive preservation benefits and incentives.

DNR's approval effectively makes owners of historically significant properties in the district eligible for state preservation grants and tax credits. The U.S. Department of the Interior will now consider Suwanee's historic district and make the ultimate decision about its inclusion on the National Register. Once officially added to the register, owners of historically significant properties will be eligible for federal grants and investment tax credits.

"We've taken a giant step toward helping to preserve our historic assets by making it less expensive for commercial and residential property owners in Old Town to maintain and improve their historically significant properties," says Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson. "We want to be clear that this designation does not place restrictions on property owners."

The Old Town historic district encompasses about 67 acres and 60 properties, including Pierce's Corner, that are centered along Main Street.


August 13, 2013

'THE CROODS' COMING TO MOVIES UNDER THE STARS

The Crood family will bring prehistoric humor and adventure to the big screen at Town Center Park when Movies Under the Stars presents The Croods on Saturday, August 24. Rated PG, The Croods is an animated film that follows a prehistoric family as they travel through strange and spectacular territory in search of a new home.

Released this past spring, the movie features characters voiced by Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, and Cloris Leachman.

On the Rotten Tomatoes website, critic Jeff Beck with Examiner.com says: "The Croods is a touching animated film that not only entertains, but also delivers a sweet message about families and how change can be a good thing."

The movie will begin at dusk with festivities starting at 7 p.m. Bring snacks, blankets, and lawn chairs, but no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. Food and beverages, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase from event vendors and Town Center merchants.


August 13, 2013

QUALIFYING FOR CITY COUNCIL POSTS
SET FOR AUGUST 26-28

Three Suwanee City Council posts are scheduled to be on the ballot this fall. Candidates who wish to be on the November 5 ballot must qualify at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue, from August 26-28. The qualification period begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday, August 26, and closes at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 28. The qualification fee is $270.

In order to run for Suwanee City Council, candidates must reside within the Suwanee City limits at least 180 days prior to the qualifying date and be registered and qualified to vote in municipal elections.

The posts up for election and the individuals currently serving in those positions are:

Post 3 – Kevin McOmber
Post 4 – Beth Hilscher
Post 5 – Dan Foster

Suwanee City Councilmembers are elected at-large, and all registered Suwanee voters may cast a ballot for each post on the ballot.

The City Council election will take place from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, November 5, at City Hall. For additional information, contact City Clerk Elvira Rogers at erogers@suwanee.com or 770-945-8996.


August 12, 2013

SUWANEE MAKES MONEY'S 2013 LIST OF BEST PLACES TO LIVE

Money magazine has once again named the City of Suwanee one of America's best places to live. The north metro community is ranked #33 on Money's 2013 list of best small towns, making it the highest-ranked community in Georgia.

Money's 2013 list of Best Places to Live focuses on towns with populations of 10,000-50,000. Starting with a database of more than 1,300 towns, the magazine considered median family income and home values; education and crime scores; quality-of-life factors such as health care, arts, and leisure; and intangibles like community spirit.

"It's great to receive national recognition for our community through such a rigorous process and from such a prestigious publication," says Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "We're excited to be recognized as the best small town in Georgia and committed to continually improving our community and the quality of life for our residents."

Suwanee has been included on Money's list of Best Places to Live in previous years, ranking #10 in 2007 and #35 in 2009. Earlier this year Family Circle magazine ranked Suwanee as one of the nation's 10 Best Towns for Families and last year Kiplinger.com ranked Suwanee #3 on its list of best places to raise children.

Other Georgia cities on Money's 2013 Best Places list are Evans at #43 and Peachtree City at #48.


August 8, 2013

PROGRAM ENCOURAGES PARENTS, TEENS
TO TAKE 'PRIDE' IN DRIVING

The Suwanee Police Department is offering a free two-hour program designed to assist parents and their new teen drivers. Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error) will be offered at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 29, at the Suwanee Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

The course focuses on driver attitude, knowledge, and behavior. Rather than a technical, hands-on driver training program, PRIDE addresses seat belts, crash dynamics, Georgia's teen driving laws, parental influence, and peer pressure.

The course is free and open to the public, but space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is required by August 19; forms are available in the "Quick Clicks" section at www.suwanee.com. A parent or guardian is required to attend with their teen.

The City of Suwanee Police Department offers PRIDE in cooperation with the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute.


August 6, 2013

NATIONAL POLICE ACCREDITATION TEAM INVITES
PUBLIC COMMENT ON SUWANEE PD

A team of on-site assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) will arrive in Suwanee August 18 to examine all aspects of the Suwanee Police Department's policy and procedures, management, operations, and support services. The City's police department is seeking national re-accreditation from CALEA.

Says Suwanee Police Chief Mike Jones: "Verification by the team that the Suwanee Police Department meets the Commission's state-of-the-art standards is part of a voluntary process to gain accreditation, a highly prized recognition of public safety professional excellence." 

As part of the on-site assessment, agency personnel and members of the community are invited to offer comments at a public information session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 20 at the Crossroads Center, 323 Buford Highway.

Individuals who cannot attend the public information session but still would like to provide comments to the assessment team may do so by telephone or in writing.

The public may offer comments via telephone from 2-4 p.m. Monday, August 19 by calling 770-904-7655. Telephone comments as well as those offered at the public information session are limited to 10 minutes and must address the Suwanee Police Department's ability to comply with CALEA standards. A copy of the standards is available from the Suwanee Police Department, 373 Buford Highway; contact Lt. Dan Clark at dclark@suwanee.com or 770-904-7605.

Those who wish to offer written comments about the Suwanee Police Department's ability to meet accreditation standards are requested to mail their comments to: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, Inc., 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia, 20155.

"The Suwanee Police Department must comply with approximately 418 applicable standards in order to gain accredited status," says Jones. "CALEA accreditation is the benchmark for the professional standards a law enforcement agency needs to meet today."

The CALEA Program Manager for the Suwanee Police Department is Vincent Dauro. The assessment team is composed of public safety practitioners from similar, but out-of-state, agencies. Assessors will review written materials, interview individuals, and visit offices and other locations where compliance can be witnessed.

The assessors for Suwanee are: Director Bob Morgan and Retired Lieutenant John Tucker.
Once CALEA assessors complete their review of the agency, they report back to the full Commission, which will then decide if the agency is to be granted accredited status.

Accreditation is for three years, during which a recognized agency must submit annual reports attesting to continued compliance with those standards under which it initially was accredited.

For more information regarding the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., please write the Commission at 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville Virginia, 20155; or call 800-368-3757 or 703-352-4225 or visit www.calea.org.


July 23, 2013

SUWANEE UNVEILS NEW LOGO

Change is bubbling in Suwanee as the City unveils a new logo. City Council voted unanimously this evening  to adopt the new logo created by Hein van der Heijden, an Atlanta-based, award-winning designer with 25 years' experience.

"Suwanee is an uncommon city," says van der Heijden. "Its residents have fun living there and there's a lot going on. I wanted the community's logo to reflect that. I used a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters and dropped the capital S in the logo's word art to help suggest the community's originality and playfulness. The graphic offers a bird's-eye view of Suwanee, bubbling with color, activities, and energy."

The City's new logo will replace one that features a lamp post and has been used since 1998. The Suwanee S, another branding mark utilized by the City, will continue to be used along with the new official logo.

"Suwanee has changed a lot since 1998," says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. "We felt that the lamp post no longer offered an accurate representation of our dynamic community. Our goal was to create a logo that is more unique and remarkable, that better represents Suwanee's personality today, and that indicates that our community is focused on the future."

Suwanee began the redesign process in the spring. After receiving 28 statements of qualification from design professionals, mostly from metro Atlanta but also from six other states, the City selected six finalist firms to participate in a design competition. Each finalist presented three or more Suwanee logo design concepts.

As a result of the competition, the City selected van der Heijden, a native of the Netherlands who came to the United States four years ago. Principal at his Atlanta-based DesHein visual design service firm, van der Heijden's  "bucket list," had until now, included creating a city logo.

The City's research into logo redesign found that the decision not to rebrand a logo can often be an indication that an organization is static or resistant to change. "This reasoning really resonated with me," says City Manager Marty Allen. "The City of Suwanee is a dynamic, high-achieving community. My hope is that our new logo reflects that."

The City of Suwanee will begin using its new logo immediately, but the official launch/celebration of the logo will take place during the 30th Suwanee Day festival on September 21.


July 22, 2013

FOOD TRUCKS ROLL IN TO SUWANEE AUGUST 2

Taste buds in Suwanee are gonna be happy! Food trucks are coming back to Town Center Park on August 2.

The first two Suwanee food truck events, held in May and June, were extremely popular, drawing large crowds. The City is inviting additional trucks for its August and September events.

Trucks scheduled for August 2 are: Buen Provecho, Freckled and Blue, Hail Caesar, Happy Belly, King of Pops, Mighty Meatballs, Nana G's Chicken and Waffles, and Smiley's Street Eats.  Please note that truck vendors are subject to change and availability.

Trucks will be set up and ready to serve beginning at 6 p.m.

As part of the event, Band of Gold will perform on the Town Center stage beginning at 7 p.m.


July 16, 2013

JINKIES! MONSTROUS FUN COMING TO TOWN CENTER STAGE

Green ogres and meddling kids will take to the Town Center stage when Suwanee Performing Arts presents Shrek The Musical and Shooby Doo, an original music mystery, on Friday, July 26, and Saturday, July 27. These Broadway in the Park performances will begin at 7 p.m. each evening.

The Suwanee performances mark the first amateur production of Shrek The Musical in Georgia.

"We always try to pick something that will appeal to audiences of all ages," says Director Patty Etherton. "The writing for Shrek is so fresh and wonderful. I laughed out loud and smiled all the way through it."

The performances are free and open to the public, but the event is Suwanee Performing Arts' largest fundraiser so donations will be requested. In addition, a variety of audience-participation items (such as Shrek ears and a dragon call) will be available for purchase. Children also are invited to sit in "The Swamp" area close to the stage where they will better be able to interact with performers; "Swamp" tickets are $10 and available at Town Center Park beginning at 4 p.m. on performance dates.

The 2013 show is the seventh Broadway in the Park performance produced by Suwanee Performing Arts. The production will include about 75 mostly high school and middle school cast members, a stage crew of about a dozen, and volunteers. "It takes a village," says Etherton.

"There's something really magical about opening your heart as a performer and allowing the audience in," says Artistic Director Bernie Davis. "This is a lot of fun for these kids. How many kids can say that they've performed in front of 5,000 of their friends and community members?"


June 25, 2013

'FAMILY CIRCLE' NAMES SUWANEE
ONE OF 10 BEST TOWNS FOR FAMILIES

Suwanee has been identified as one of the nation's 10 Best Towns for Families by Family Circle magazine. The lifestyle magazine released its 2013 exclusive survey results today. The story is featured in the August issue of Family Circle, which hits newsstands July 2; it's also available online at www.FamilyCircle.com/besttowns.

"We're thrilled and proud," says Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "Through our bi-annual National Citizens Survey, we know that 99% of our residents find Suwanee to be an excellent or good place to live. For Family Circle to confirm and share Suwanee's high quality of life on a national scale is really rewarding."

Family Circle used demographic information and family-friendly criteria – including affordable homes, quality schools, access to health care, green space, low crime rate, and financial stability – to assess cities and towns with populations between 10,000 and 150,000. The magazine article about Suwanee features the Chun family, who moved to the community from Maryland in 2001.

Suwanee was ranked #10 on Money magazine's list of Best Places to Live in 2007 and made the list again in 2009. Last year, Kiplinger.com ranked Suwanee #3 on its list of best places to raise children.

Suwanee was the smallest community to be named to Family Circle's list of perfect places to call home. The north metro Atlanta community, which is served by Gwinnett County Public Schools, was one of three to score a perfect 10 on the "great schools rating."

Other communities to make the 10 Best Towns for Families list are: Allen, Texas; Boulder City, Nevada; Madison, Alabama; Marion, Iowa; Morton, Illinois; Rio Rancho, New Mexico; Troy, Michigan; Upper Arlington, Ohio; and West Hartford, Connecticut.


June 25, 2013

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES FY2014 BUDGET

Suwanee City Council approved this evening a fiscal year 2014 budget that is balanced, proposes to maintain the City's current 4.93 millage rate, uses no fund balance, and represents a 1.3% increase over the 2013 adopted budget. Suwanee will begin the new fiscal year July 1 with a $12,162,550 budget in place.

"As the economy begins to improve, we feel good that our budget remains stable and maintains our quality service levels," says City Manager Marty Allen. "This budget and Fitch Ratings' recent affirmation of Suwanee's AA+ rating are good indicators of Suwanee's fiscal strength and stability."

The FY2014 budget funds a new police detective as well as a part-time equipment operator in the public works department and covers 9% of increased health insurance costs. The budget also anticipates an approximately 4% increase in salaries to implement recommendations from the City's classification and compensation study as well as merit pay increases.

Capital expenses covered in the new budget include two mowers, a replacement vehicle for both public works and the police department, landscaping along the Main Street railroad bank, development of a City phone app, additional electrical capabilities in Town Center Park, a generator and trailer, and street banners.

Council also approved the City's 2014-18 Capital Improvements Plan, a five-year program that provides funding for 30 different long-term capital projects, such as corridor improvements for Buford Highway, street maintenance and resurfacing, facility maintenance, and pedestrian and bicycle upgrades. Suwanee's Capital Improvements budget for 2014-18 is $18,731,122.


June 13, 2013

FITCH CONFIRMS SUWANEE'S AA+ RATING

Fitch Ratings has affirmed the City of Suwanee's AA+ general obligation bond rating, having determined that the City "has a solid history of conservative budgeting, and its consistently strong reserve levels are evidence of prudent financial management."

Fitch completed a review of the City of Suwanee's finances and released its rating confirmation, along with a "stable" rating outlook, yesterday (June 12).

"A double-A-plus for an organization and community of our size is a really strong rating," says Financial Services Director Amie Sakmar. "We're proud that our strong, conservative practices, policies, and forecasting have been so recognized by Fitch Ratings."

Fitch's news release states that Suwanee's "conservative budgeting practices, consistent operating results, maintenance of reserves above policy levels, and detailed financial monitoring and forecasting reinforce the City's financial flexibility and strong financial performance."

The City of Suwanee holds $19.6 million in general obligation and revenue bonds. These funds were used to fund the acquisition of greenspace and development of parks through Suwanee's award-winning open space initiative as well as for construction of City Hall, which opened at Town Center in 2009.

Fitch found the City's debt level to be "moderate" and noted that it is expected to decline as the City has limited infrastructure demands and no additional long-term borrowing plans.

Other factors considered by Fitch in its rating review include:

  • The cultivation of a sizeable business presence clustered around the I-85 interchange.
  • The City's unrestricted fund balance equaled a healthy 46% of spending in fiscal year 2012.
  • Suwanee lowered its tax rate 14.6% in fiscal year 2013. The 0.72 millage rate decrease was due to increased intergovernmental revenues associated with a new service delivery agreement with Gwinnett County.
  • The City's pension benefits continue to be well-managed.
  • Commercial growth in the Suwanee area is bolstered by the City's positive economic characteristics; proximity to Atlanta; and access to extensive road, rail, and air transportation infrastructure.

June 11, 2013

CAPTAIN'S FIRST DAY: ARMED ROBBERY, TWO CHASES, TWO ARRESTS

Capt. Shane Edmisten's first day as Suwanee's patrol commander was a busy one. By the end of the day Monday, Suwanee police officers had pursued and captured an armed robber and pursued and captured a man who previously had been charged with kidnapping his children.

Suwanee Police responded to a 7:45 p.m. call related to a man with a knife seen behind a home in a neighborhood along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. As police searched the area, the suspect was identified by his former girlfriend as Daniel Cleary, who in December was charged in Fulton County for kidnapping his two sons and taking them to Texas. Cleary was out on bond on condition that he could not see his sons nor be within 10 miles of his former girlfriend's Suwanee home.

As officers drove through the subdivision, they encountered Cleary's PT Cruiser. Officers attempted a traffic stop, but Cleary fled. Suwanee officers pursued Cleary south on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard into the Duluth city limits.

Cleary crossed a median and turned back north on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to avoid Duluth officers' attempt to stop him at the intersection of Highway 120. At this point, a Georgia State Patrol trooper engaged in the pursuit and executed a PIT maneuver on the suspect's vehicle.

The suspect exited his vehicle with a knife to his throat. When Cleary failed to comply with officers' commands, a Suwanee police officer deployed his Taser, thus incapacitating Cleary and preventing him from harming himself. The suspect was taken into custody and was booked at the Gwinnett County Detention Center.

Cleary, of Roswell, has been charged with aggravated stalking, DUI, fleeing/attempting to elude, speeding, and reckless driving.

Earlier in the day, Suwanee police officers engaged in an approximately 14-mile pursuit of a suspect who brandished a gun and a note that said "give me all your money" at the Quiznos on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The initial call to police was received at 11:09 a.m. A Suwanee officer encountered the armed suspect as she was leaving the store and a pursuit ensued. The robbery suspect, driving a white SUV, surrendered in a parking lot near Old Peachtree and Buford Drive.

Jacquelyn Nhu Tran has been charged with armed robbery, reckless driving, and fleeing/attempting to elude.

Edmisten has served as dispatcher, officer, and detective with the Suwanee Police Department for 20 years. Monday was his first day in his new role as patrol commander. "It certainly was a memorable first day," he says.


May 23, 2013

'PILGRIM' PALS: COUPLE'S DONATION KEEPS
PUBLIC ART PIECE IN COMMUNITY

Scott and Debra Dovel have been long-time friends and supporters of the City of Suwanee. So when the Public Arts Commission expressed interest in keeping Charlie Brouwer's Pilgrim sculpture, which was part of the 2012 Suwanee SculpTour, Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson knew who to turn to for help.

She wasn't disappointed. The Dovels came through with a donation that allowed the City to purchase the eight-foot wood sculpture, which will remain on display in front of the Gwinnett County Public Library branch on Main Street.

It's not that he's a huge art fan, confesses Scott Dovel, who is director of sales for Vancouver-based Teradici, Inc., although he believes that the City's emphasis on public art will generate its own momentum. It's more that the Dovels believe in their community.

"We want to leave a better community for our kids and grandkids," says Scott Dovel. "It's about leaving a foundation for others to build on. Whether my kids stay here or not, certainly my children will forever consider Suwanee their hometown.

"The City has a vision about the arts being a part of this community," Dovel adds. "If they're committed to that, then I'm going to help."

Dovel recalls being contacted by Brinson earlier this spring. "Denise said that people really liked the Pilgrim piece, that the library liked it. It was something that I was able to do."

Says Gwinnett County Library Executive Director Nancy Stanbery-Kellam: "The Pilgrim statue adds character and interest to the grounds of the Suwanee library. We are proud the library will be the home of this SculpTour piece."


May 21, 2013

'AMAZING' FOOD TRUCKS, MOVIE COMING TO SUWANEE

Food trucks return to Town Center Park on Friday, June 7, and the following night Movies Under the Stars will present The Amazing Spider-Man.

Suwanee's first Food Truck Friday in May drew a large crowd, despite cool, overcast, rain-threatening weather conditions. The food trucks expected to serve up Friday night dinner June 7 are Bubble Tea, Champion Cheesesteak, Freckled and Blue, Hail Caesar, King of Pops, Mac the Cheese, Nana G's Waffles and Chicken, Tex Tacos, and Yumbii. The event begins at 7 p.m., but some trucks may be set up a little earlier.

Also being served up that evening is a free performance by Funk Sandwich and Nathan Angelo, a band based at Gwinnett Church. The performance will begin at 7 p.m.

Food Truck Fridays will take a break in July and return in August and September.

On June 8, Movies Under the Stars will screen The Amazing Spider-Man. Released in 2012 and rated PG-13, The Amazing Spider-Man stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. In this rendition of the arachnid-hero's story, Peter Parker, an outcast high-schooler abandoned by his parents as a boy, is trying to figure out who he is when he encounters Oscorp's Dr. Curt Connors and his alter-ego, The Lizard. Peter makes life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

Movies Under the Stars is free and open to the public. The screening will begin at Town Center Park shortly after dusk. Bring snacks, blankets, and lawn chairs, but no alcohol may be brought into the park.


May 17, 2013

NEW SUWANEE SCULPTOUR PROVIDES ARTISTIC TAKE
ON NATURE, FAMILY, HUMAN BODY & MORE

Arranged as a walkable art encounter, the 2013-15 Suwanee SculpTour pieces offer artistic interpretations and reflections on a broad range of topics, from nature to the human body, from love of family to an appreciation for well-worn tools.

Officially opened at the May 18 Arts in the Park festival, the SculpTour exhibit is arranged as a walking tour through and around Town Center Park. The exhibit will remain on display through March 2015. Suwanee SculpTour is part of the City's public arts initiative. The program is coordinated by the Public Arts Commission and funded through private donations.

The artists in the exhibit hail from seven different states. Several are from Georgia with the remainder coming from Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

New York City sculptor Jack Howard-Potter's red Dancer 10, which can be seen on the edge of Town Center Park along Buford Highway, seeks to convey the motion of the body in extremely stressful and beautiful positions. In Blue Trees and Sky, Cathrin Hoskin combines ideas about the body's landscape of veins and nerves with similar linear patterns found in nature. Human bodies aren't the only life forms represented in this SculpTour. Two pieces, Who Let the Dogs Out? By Jim Collins and Giraffe by Jonathan Bowling, represent animals.

Motion is another common theme among some of the sculptures. In Crescendo, Gregory Johnson examines how Mother Nature in motion – be it in the form of a crashing wave, a rolling cloud, or an avalanche of snow – suggests meandering circular movements. A kinetic sculpture, Phil Proctor's Iron Canopy actually rotates as it's blown by the wind. The 17-foot piece recognizes that life supports life – in this case, the tree is a habitat for a great owl.

Relationships – be it the relationship of a couple or the connection between fine art and American subcultures such as hot-rodding or that between a musician-father and his child – also are pondered by SculpTour artists.

"Whether people see one or two pieces at a time as they visit Town Center or see all of them at once as they take the approximately one-mile walking tour," says Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson, "we hope that the accessibility of public art in Suwanee will make folks pause, reflect, connect, and maybe smile."

Pieces included in the 2013-15 SculpTour exhibit are:

  • Aplomb – Luke Achterberg, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Blue Trees and Sky – Cathrin Hoskinson, Brooklyn
  • Crescendo – Gregory Johnson, Cumming, Georgia
  • Crossing V – Christopher Newman, Chicago
  • Dancer 10 – Jack Howard-Potter, New York City
  • Fay – Cecilia Lueza, St.Petersburg, Florida (Note: This piece will be installed within the next few weeks)
  • Giraffe – Jonathan Bowling, Greenville, North Carolina
  • Iron Canopy – Phil Proctor, Atlanta
  • Music from My Father – Fred Ajanogha, College Park, Georgia
  • Pick – Andrew T. Crawford, Atlanta
  • Reflection – Michael Russell, Athens, Tennessee
  • Ring Bound – Davis A. Whitfield IV, Mountain City, Tennessee
  • Vertigo – Robert Cordisco, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
  • Who Let the Dogs Out? – Jim Collins, Signal Mountain, Tennessee

More information about the 2013-15 SculpTour is available at www.suwanee.com/whatsnew.sculptour.php. Website visitors also may vote for their favorite current sculpture. At the end of each exhibit, provided funding allows, the Public Arts Commission purchases at least one sculpture to be added to Suwanee's permanent public art collection; unique daily votes are among the factors considered in making the decision of which piece to purchase.


May 16, 2013

3-D SIDEWALK ART BEING CREATED AT TOWN CENTER
AS PART OF ARTS IN THE PARK FESTIVAL

Suwanee's Arts in the Park festival isn't until Saturday, but the first pieces of art are already in place (think Suwanee's SculpTour, a walkable public art encounter) or in the process of being created onsite. Artist Truman Adams of Sarasota, Florida, is in the midst of creating a 57-foot-long, 3-D sidewalk painting in Suwanee's Town Center Park.

The interactive painting of a mountain stream includes a beaver, duck, and butterflies as well as stepping stones and is designed to appear 3-D when looked at through a camera lens. The artist explains that in order for the painting to appear 3-D in photographs, it cannot look multidimensional to the naked eye. "It's all about perspective," says Truman. "The 3-D illusion is based on angles. I'm putting a vertical picture on a horizontal surface and then the painting will be viewed from a vertical perspective."

The interactive aspect of the painting relates to the stepping stones. When someone steps on the painted stones and someone else takes their photograph from the designated spot, it will appear as if the first person is actually crossing a gurgling mountain stream.

Adams estimates that, including prep time and planning, the painting will require a total of six days. Using a paint brush duct-taped to a bamboo stick, Adams began painting on Tuesday and hopes to be finished before the Arts in the Park festival begins at 11 a.m. Saturday. The sidewalk painting was commissioned by the Suwanee Public Arts Commission.

An artist his "whole life," Adams has undertaken a full gamut of "all things artistic," including murals, stained glass mosaics, street art, and portraiture.

He's created street art over the past four years and loves the scale of it. "I fell in love with doing larger work," he says. "It's very Zen to work outside and do this. I feel like a Zen master making a garden on the street."


May 16, 2013

SUWANEE PLANS EVENT DOUBLEHEADER MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

The City of Suwanee will host back-to-back events Memorial Day weekend.

First up on Friday, May 24, is the University of West Georgia Concert Band, which will perform a free concert as part of the City's annual Memorial Weekend celebration. The band, comprised of the most advanced woodwind, brass, and percussion players at West Georgia, will take the stage around 7:15 p.m. at Town Center Park.

Before the band's performance, the Aero X aerial demonstration team, made up of active duty, veteran, and civilian personnel, will "drop in" via parachute at Town Center Park at approximately 7 p.m., weather permitting. The Silver Wings out of Fort Benning, who usually perform at this event, cannot appear due to federal sequestration budget cuts.

The following evening – Saturday, May 25 – come back to Town Center to cheer on the Upton brothers and other Atlanta Braves as they travel to New York to take on the Mets. The Braves are bringing the big screen as well as inflatables, activities, and Homer to Suwanee for Game on the Green. Activities begin about 6 p.m. with a performance by the Full Circle band; first pitch is at 7:15.

Also, on May 25, the Berlin Wall section currently on temporary display in front of City Hall will be auctioned at 4:30 p.m. by the Auction Management Corporation. Bids may be submitted onsite or online via live webcast at www.auctionEbid.com.


May 4, 2013

BE A SUWANEE PARK AMABASSADOR

The City of Suwanee is offering a training program on Wednesday, May 22, for residents interested in volunteering as park ambassadors. Suwanee park ambassadors help provide information and assistance to park and Suwanee Creek Greenway visitors as well as feedback to the City on any security- or maintenance-related issues.

The one-hour training program will take place at 6:30 p.m. May 22 at the Suwanee Police Department training facility at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Roads. Applications are available at www.suwanee.com; notarized applications are due Monday, May 13.

For more information, contact Ofc. Elias Casanas at elias@suwanee.com or 770-904-7612.


May 3, 2013

WOOFSTOCK: STAR 94 THROWS A PAW-TY AT TOWN CENTER PARK

Star 94 Radio will unleash the fun – for both two-legged and four-legged creatures – when it hosts its annual Woofstock event from 12-7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, in Suwanee's Town Center Park. The event will include dog exhibitions, pet contests, live musical entertainment, inflatables for children, and a variety of vendors, including pet adoption and rescue groups.

Musical performances will be presented by Departure, a Journey tribute band, Gareth Asher, and the Dave Matthews Tribute Band. For performance times and additional activities, please see event schedule below.

Admission to Woofstock is free. Dogs, cats, birds, and ferrets are welcome; all animals must be on a leash.

Food and beverages, including beer and wine, may be purchased from event vendors as well as Town Center restaurants, but no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park.

Limited parking is available at Town Center behind the businesses. Additional parking may be available along Main Street, from which patrons can access Town Center via the pedestrian tunnel.


May 2, 2013

CITY OFFERS CARS, LAWN & OFFICE EQUIPMENT VIA ONLINE AUCTION

The City of Suwanee is offering more than 100 items – including five vehicles, dozens of pieces of office equipment, and even a chicken coop – via an online surplus auction. The auction begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow (May 3) via the GovDeals website; to see and bid on City of Suwanee items, go to www.govdeals.com/cityofsuwanee. Bids will be accepted until the evening of Monday, May 13.

The vehicles being auctioned are former police vehicles. The minimum bid for each is $500. In addition, lawn equipment, office printers, computers, file cabinets, and other miscellaneous items, including a former chicken coop, will be offered, for which bidding may begin as low as $5.


April 29, 2013

HISTORY MEETS ART: SUWANEE'S BERLIN WALL TEMPORARY EXHIBIT

It's a piece of concrete. It's a piece of art. It's a piece of history. It's a section of the Berlin Wall, and it currently is standing in front of Suwanee's City Hall at 330 Town Center Avenue.

This iconic symbol of the Cold War era stands approximately 13 feet tall and weighs 8,000 pounds. The once-western-facing side of the concrete section features graffiti artwork that depicts a building, people, and the American flag. The wall section is anticipated to be on display in Suwanee over the next couple of months while Auction Management Corporation prepares to auction off the four-ton historic/artistic marker.

This section of the Berlin Wall was found in an East Berlin work camp and has been in the Atlanta area since 1991, but has rarely been on public exhibit. The current owner is a court-appointed federal receiver who plans to auction off the wall section, and the exhibit in Suwanee is designed to generate interest in the piece. Sections of the Berlin Wall can be found at museums, colleges, and businesses in at least 26 U.S. states, according to a 2009 USA Today article.

"We're thrilled to be able to exhibit this section of the Berlin Wall," says Suwanee's Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson. "It's a cool way to bring an important piece of art and history to area residents. This display fits in well with Suwanee's goal of making art accessible."

The Berlin Wall was an approximately 100-mile barrier constructed beginning in 1961 – and re-enforced over the years – by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The barrier effectively cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, prevented free passage by East Germans to the West, and became the iron curtain that literally separated Eastern and Western Europe until 1989.

Auction details for the wall section on display in Suwanee are still being determined.


April 24, 2013

B AT THE MOVIES: SUWANEE TO SCREEN 'MEN IN BLACK 3'

B at the Movies Saturday, May 4, when B98.5 brings Men in Black 3 to the big screen at Town Center Park. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, this time along with Josh Brolin, confront aliens-gone-bad once again and, along the way, save Earth as well. Released last year, this time-travel, sci-fi comedy is rated PG-13.

"This mostly solid sequel is a return to form for the series and just stellar enough to make it a must-see for fans of summer popcorn fare, no matter your age," writes We Got This Covered critic Kristal Cooper on www.rottentomatoes.com. Men in Black 3, adds Scene-Stealers.com critic Eric Melin, "deepens the relationship between J and K, but it's still really a showcase for more of the same offbeat humor and imaginative special effects…."

The movie, which will begin shortly after dusk, is free and open to the public. Bring snacks, blankets, and lawn chairs, but no alcohol may be brought into the park. Concessions will be available for purchase.


April 24, 2013

GET FRESH AT SUWANEE FARMERS MARKET

Suwanee area residents will be able to get fresher, locally grown produce – and a whole lot more – when the Suwanee Farmers Market opens for the season on Saturday, May 4. The farmers market will be open at Town Center Park from 8 am-noon Saturdays through October 5 (except for September 21) and 4-7 pm Tuesdays through August 6.

In addition to in-season produce, a wide array of natural and homemade items will be available at the market, including honey, bread, meat and eggs, salsa, baked goods, rubs, locally roasted coffee beans, goat cheese, gourmet popsicles, plants and flowers, herbs, and organic cotton candy products.

The number of vendors at the market will vary from week to week, from about 15 to nearly 30, depending on the day and what's in season.

Every other Saturday, beginning on May 11, representatives from the Gwinnett Cooperative Extension will be on hand to share recipes and discuss in-season produce.


April 24, 2013

SUWANEE SERVES UP FOOD TRUCK FARE

Do you savor tasty trends? You can sink your teeth into innovative takes on street food at Suwanee's Food Truck Fridays. On the first Friday of May, June, August, and September, Suwanee will serve up some of metro Atlanta's favorite food truck vendors at Town Center Park.

Suwanee's first Food Truck Friday is scheduled for May 3. The event officially begins at 7 p.m., but dinner – and music – will be served up as early as 6:30.

"We've had an extraordinarily enthusiastic response to our Food Truck Fridays announcement," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "It seems everyone wants to be in on this trend. People are so excited, you'd almost think the food being served up was low-calorie as well as being delicious."

Food truck vendors on May 3 will include Atlanta Burger Truck, Chay J's New Orleans Candies, King of Pops, Mighty Meatball Mobile, Nana G's Chicken and Waffles, One Love Jerk Grill, and Pressed for Time. Food truck vendors are subject to change.

Free entertainment also will be served up on Food Truck Fridays. The Peachtree Ridge, North Gwinnett, Collins Hill, and Flowery Branch high school jazz bands will perform May 3.


April 20, 2013

SUWANEE GOES OUT ON A LIMB WITH ANNUAL ART PROGRAM

Suwanee's annual finders-keepers, month-long Art on a Limb program will bloom along the Suwanee Creek Greenway as well as at Sims Lake and White Street parks throughout the month of May. Through this perennial program, which is designed to bring attention to Suwanee's arts efforts as well as its parks, two pieces of original artwork are hidden each day; those who find a piece of art along one of Suwanee's trails get to keep it.

This year's Art on a Limb pieces are clay birds and tiles created by Suwanee artist Judy Isaak. On the tiles are representations of nature and Suwanee landmarks. The pieces are created from red clay, which Isaak chose to represent the ubiquitous red Georgia soil.

"Through Art on a Limb, 62 pieces of art will be claimed by area residents," says Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Being out enjoying the Greenway or one of Suwanee's parks in May has its own benefits, but this program takes park perks to a whole new level."

"Suwanee's doing a great job of promoting the arts," says Isaak. "I'm very honored to be part of the Art on a Limb program."

Born and raised in Manitoba, Canada, Isaak has made pottery for about 30 years, but it's only been over the past decade, shortly after she and her family moved to Suwanee, that she's taken it on as a full-time occupation.

In her Tannery Row studio in downtown Buford, Isaak creates functional pieces as well as items that are raku-fired to add texture and excitement. Her pieces also demonstrate flashes of her sense of humor: She creates face jugs that have been rakued as well as fish with bright red lips.


April 18, 2013

SUWANEE ADDS SCULPTURES TO PERMANENT COLLECTION

Suwanee's Public Arts Commission (PAC) has purchased two pieces from the 2012 Suwanee SculpTour exhibit, which closed in March.  The sculptures, purchased with private donations made to the public arts program, are now part of Suwanee's permanent art collection and will be moved over the next couple of weeks from Town Center to new display locations at Sims Lake Park.
The PAC purchased Audubon by Tennessee artist Jim Collins and Wind Sculpture Weathervane, which was the People's Choice winner, by Blairsville artist Al Garnto.
Public art pieces, like those exhibited and acquired through Suwanee SculpTour, says Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson, "make our community more interesting."
"SculpTour has given us a jumpstart on our public art collection," she adds. "It gives us a way to test out pieces before we buy them, to figure out how well they hold up and what it takes to maintain them."

SculpTour is Suwanee's walkable public art encounter. The privately funded program brings sculptures created by artists from around the country for display in downtown Suwanee. The 2012 exhibit ended in March; the 2013-15 Suwanee SculpTour will officially open at the May 18 Arts in the Park festival.


April 15, 2013

SUPER INCREDIBLE & FREE CONCERT

The Journey tribute band Departure will "Faithfully" perform the top hits of the San Francisco-based, 1980s hit-makers "Any Way You Want It" when they take the Suwanee Town Center stage this Saturday, April 20, for a free concert. The 7 p.m. concert punctuates Suwanee's Super Incredible Day, which includes a registration-required team scavenger race/challenge through downtown Suwanee.

Departure will take the stage at 8 p.m. following the performance of an opening band. One of the most respected Journey tribute bands in the nation, Departure was voted Atlanta's "best local entertainer" in 2011 and 2012. The five Departure musicians replicate the look, sound, and feel of the original '80s rock group.

Bring blankets, lawn chairs, picnic baskets, and your dancing shoes, but no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. Food and beverages, including beer and wine, may be purchased that evening from Town Center restaurants and concert vendors.

Limited parking is available at Town Center. Additional parking may be available along Main Street, from which patrons can access Town Center via the pedestrian tunnel.


April 8, 2013

'HEART OF STONE' TO CLOSE SUWANEE'S 2012-13 FILM CIRCUIT

Heart of Stone, the final movie in Suwanee's 2012-13 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday, April 15, at Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. Tickets are $6 and available at the theater or www.movietavern.com.

Heart of Stone chronicles the efforts of Principal Ron Stone to restore order and learning at one of the most violent schools in the country, Newark's Weequahic High School. The documentary demonstrates how disparate groups, including gangs, can work together to rebuild and revitalize older communities.

On the Rotten Tomatoes website, on which the film scored a 100 percent on the tomatometer, Los Angeles Times critic Kevin Thomas writes: "Heart of Stone is a portrait of a dedicated man – smart, articulate, strong, and tough-minded yet warm and compassionate, willing and able to reach out and communicate with his students on an individual basis."

Ticket price includes refreshments and an opportunity to interact with filmmaker Beth Kruvant.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.


March 26, 2013

MAKE SUWANEE A STAR

Make Suwanee the star of your original 1-3 minute video and you could be the winner of up to $1,000. The deadline for submissions to the City of Suwanee's 2013 video competition is May 24.

"Videos, especially ones that are funny, unique, or little bit off somehow, have become part of our social media-fueled culture," says Public Information Officer Lynne Bohlman DeWilde. "We'd love for a Suwanee video to be an intentional part of that conversation. We'd love to have folks around the country buzzing, asking: 'Did you see that funny video about living in Suwanee?'"

Videos must be submitted in WMV or MOV format on a DVD along with an application, which is available at www.suwanee.com. Submitted videos may be posted to the City's YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The City hosted its first video competition last year and received seven entries.


March 15, 2013

SUWANEE HOSTING SUPER INCREDIBLY FUN RACE, CONCERT

The City of Suwanee is bringing back its award-winning, super incredibly fun Super Incredible Race on April 20. The race is a scavenger-like hunt, a la Amazing Race meets small-town America, in which teams of two or teams of family members receive a series of clues that require them to complete a variety of high-energy mental and physical challenges. During last year's event, contestants slurped spaghetti noodles, danced, raced on hippity-hops, solved a multi-step math equation for which the answer was 30024, and told a joke, among other activities.

The City is extending the fun this year by presenting its spring concert immediately following the race. Departure, a Journey tribute band, will perform at Town Center at 7 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.

Race participants may compete on foot or bike and will travel to a variety of locations throughout the Town Center and Old Town areas. Participants should expect that they may walk (or run) or bike up to 5 miles, and completion of the race course is expected to take between one to three hours. The race will begin at 3 p.m. at Town Center Park.

Pre-registration is required; the deadline to register is April 5. The registration fee is $25 per two-person team plus $10 per additional participant for family teams.  All registrants will receive a 2013 Super Incredible Race t-shirt. Contestants will need to bring a camera, smart phone or other means of Internet access, and at least one canned good per team member. Prizes will be awarded to winning teams in both the pedestrian and bike categories. Prizes also will be awarded for best costume/themes.

"We had a blast," says Suwanee resident Cris Koenigs, who participated in the Super Incredible Race last year with her husband and son. "The route was fantastic, the trivia relevant to 30024, and the tasks were super fun."

The inaugural Suwanee's Super Incredible Race has been recognized as Best New Event by the Southeast Festival and Events Association.


March 7, 2013

ARBOR DAY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

The City of Suwanee is looking for a little more Zen by planting Japanese maple trees at Sims Lake Park on Saturday, March 16, in celebration of Arbor Day.

Volunteers are needed to help plant the trees in the landscaped area along the lake where the Sunset sculpture sits. Planting will begin at 9 a.m. To volunteer, contact Daniel Robinson at drobinson@suwanee.com.

This year marks the 23rd consecutive year that Suwanee has been recognized as a Tree City USA for excellence in urban forestry management by the Arbor Day Foundation.


March 4, 2013

'DUNDERHEADS' COMING TO SUWANEE

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers continues March 18 with a screening of The Misadventures of the Dunderheads, which stars big-name actors Olympia Dukakis and Haley Joel Osment. The movie will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday, March 18, at Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. Tickets may be purchased for $6 each at the theater or online at www.movietavern.com; ticket price includes a light snack and an opportunity to engage in discussion with filmmakers.

The Misadventures of the Dunderheads follows an eccentric Montana family: a grandmother who can't read, a 17-year-old who accidently kills his best friend, and his 18-year-old sister who is several degrees off kilter. The trio is on the run to Canada, but end up in Mexico, in this funny and poignant fable of the human family.

The film was directed by DG Brock, who has worked with legendary film producer Roger Corman and as a Disney screenwriter, and produced by Bruce Stubblefield, whose sound credits include three Academy Award winners. Misadventures won Best Feature Film at The Big Apple Film Festival at Tribeca Center.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded, in part, by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.


February 27, 2013

CITY PURCHASES GATEWAY PROPERTY

As part of its ongoing, long-term efforts to improve the Suwanee Gateway, the City of Suwanee closed today on a 3.4-acre tract at 2955 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. The property currently houses the former May Queen Hotel, which has been closed for approximately a year for safety reasons.

The City purchased the property from First Intercontinental Bank for $1.25 million. The City's immediate plans are to demolish the dilapidated buildings, clean up the site, and land bank the property for the future.

"This purchase represents one more step in the City of Suwanee's efforts to improve the Suwanee Gateway and ensure the long-term viability of this commercial area," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "This purchase allows the City to eliminate a vacant, rundown building and invest, as have several private businesses and other public agencies, in the long-term success of the area. We're extremely optimistic about the future of the Suwanee Gateway."

One of the top community goals identified through Suwanee's 2020 Vision strategic plan, in which some 800 community members participated last year, is improving the Suwanee Gateway, the City's oldest commercial area, developed largely in the 1960s and '70s after I-85 was extended to Suwanee.

"Over and over again through the strategic plan process," says City Manager Marty Allen, "we heard that focusing on the Gateway and getting rid of blight need to be top priorities."

The existing hotel structure on the tract that Suwanee has purchased is antiquated, visually unappealing, and financially impractical to rehabilitate. In addition, before and since closing of the hotel, the property has become a setting for increased criminal activity. Police Chief Mike Jones says that recent calls from that location have included theft, trespassing, manufacturing and selling methamphetamine, and verbal disputes.

"A vacant building like that," says Jones, "is a magnet for crime. If we can get rid of the building and clean up the property, then we can reduce the police time spent on calls to the property and avoid the spread of crime to the surrounding area as well as the deterioration of nearby properties."

Says Allen: "Significant improvements in the Gateway area are going to require bold measures like this. We've had success in the past in acquiring land, creating a master plan, and turning to the private sector for implementation. While we have no immediate plans for this particular property, we're confident that in the long run the City's acquisition of this property is a positive step toward improving the Gateway and enhancing the community at large."

The City's purchase of the property, Allen adds, is yet another example of recent public and private investments, totaling several million dollars, in the Gateway area. Recent improvements in the Gateway have included opening of the new Suwanee police training facility; extension of McGinnis Ferry Road; the recently completed streetscaping project around the interstate interchange; opening of Movie Tavern, QT, and other businesses; development of Northolt Parkway; and construction of 335 apartment units.


February 27, 2013

THE 2012 BEST OF SUWANEE'S FINEST

Suwanee Police Department Awards for 2012 were announced at the February 26 City Council meeting. Ofc. Michael Troutman was elected by his colleagues as the 2012 Officer of the Year, and Dispatcher Gabriel Bunch was elected Civilian of the Year.

Several officers were recognized with a Chief's Award, which is presented each year to officers who distinguish themselves day in and day out through their professionalism and strong work ethic. Officers winning a Chief's Award were:

  • Capt. Clyde Byers
  • Det. Sgt. Shane Edmisten
  • Ofc. Rob McCoy
  • Sgt. Robert Thompson

Ofc. Simon Byun is the department's 2012 Top Gun, earning the highest score in the annual firing range competition.


February 21, 2013

CALENDAR ANNOUNCEMENT
March 2: Cultures of Suwanee

Students in the Studio I program at North Gwinnett High School are hosting Cultures of Suwanee, a communitywide event from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at Town Center Park. This free event, which will include food, performances, music, activities, and vendor/sponsor booths, is designed to celebrate and enhance understanding of various cultures.


February 21, 2013

SUWANEE EVENTS NOT ONLY FUN – ALSO AWARD-WINNING!

The City of Suwanee's events are not only fun, they're also award-winning. The City received six Kaliedoscope Awards from the Southeast Festival and Events Association (SEFA) during its annual conference in Auburn, Alabama, earlier this week.

Suwanee's Super Incredible Race, a mind-bending, heart-racing team scavenger hunt/race through downtown Suwanee, was named Best New Event. The inaugural Super Incredible Race was held last spring. This year's event will take place April 20; applications, available at www.suwanee.com, are due April 5.

The City's Suwanee Day festival won five awards, including:

  • Best Sponsor (gold) – Lewis Expo and Logistics
  • Best Event Photo (silver)
  • Best T-shirt (bronze)
  • Best Creative Idea (bronze) for the festival volunteer pocket guide
  • Best Vendor/Supplier – FunFare.

"I was really excited that Suwanee won more awards than any other city or organization," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "We take a lot of pride in putting together creative, fun events that help enhance our sense of community."

In addition, the 2013 Suwanee Day festival, which is the 30th celebration of the community event, has received recognition from the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 event for the fall. Suwanee Day will be celebrated on September 21. Find more information as well as exhibitor/vendor applications beginning in mid-March at www.suwaneeday.com.


February 19, 2013

SUWANEE PD EARNS STATE RE-CERTIFICATION

The City of Suwanee Police Department has once again received statewide certification from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. State certification, which the Suwanee law enforcement agency first earned in 2000, confirms that agency practices are consistent with progressive professional standards. State certification is valid for three years.

"State certification helps us to be vigilant in maintaining efficient and effective operations and practices," says Chief Mike Jones. "It helps to keep us on task."

In 2010, the Suwanee Police Department was nationally accredited for the first time by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Suwanee is scheduled to be reviewed by CALEA for re-accreditation later this year.

National accreditation is based on an agency's ability to meet more than 450 standards. State certification encompasses more than 100 standards, 21 of which are unique to the state and not included in national standards.


February 18, 2013

STATE SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF SUWANEE
IN SETTLES BRIDGE FARM/NOTRE DAME SCHOOL CASE

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the City of Suwanee in a suit brought forward by Settles Bridge Farm landowners, vacating a Gwinnett Superior Court award and determining that the City did not act inappropriately in 2008 when it implemented a 90-day development moratorium and subsequently a special-use process for large-scale projects.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court overturned a January 2012 Gwinnett County Superior Court decision by Judge Warren Davis to award approximately $1.8 million to Settles Bridge Farm, who had contended that the City's actions devalued its 36.5-acre property near the intersection of Moore and Settles Bridge roads. The development company had entered into a contract with a private school that had planned to build a multi-grade campus in the established residential area.

"Of course, we're pleased that the Supreme Court ruled in our favor," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "We were confident all along that our actions were legal and appropriate for our community and that the Supreme Court would understand the complexities of this case. While the process of protecting our community can sometimes be difficult, we will continue to implement appropriate zoning and planning tools to maintain the integrity of our award-winning community."

The special use permit process for large-scale projects implemented by the City of Suwanee in 2008 remains in place today. This process does not prohibit such development, but rather allows the City to more closely evaluate such projects. At the time the school project was being proposed, the City was in the final stages of drafting its 2030 comprehensive plan, which calls for the preservation of established residential neighborhoods.

"Throughout this process and the subsequent court case," says Burnette, "the City has received tremendous support from residents along the Moore Road area, who did not want to see the character of their area changed."


February 6, 2013

PROGRAM ENCOURAGES PARENTS, TEENS TO TAKE 'PRIDE' IN DRIVING

The Suwanee Police Department is offering a two-hour program designed to assist parents and their new teen drivers. Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error) will be offered at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 27, at the Suwanee Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

The course focuses on driver attitude, knowledge, and behavior. Rather than a technical, hands-on driver training program, PRIDE addresses seat belts, crash dynamics, Georgia's teen driving laws, parental influence, and peer pressure.

The course is free and open to the public, but space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is required by February 15; forms are available at www.suwanee.com. A parent or guardian is required to attend with their teen.

The City of Suwanee Police Department offers PRIDE in cooperation with the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute.


February 5, 2013

RESIDENT RATINGS PUT SUWANEE AT THE TOP

For the third time, Suwanee residents have been asked to rate community characteristics and government services through the National Citizens Survey. For the third time, residents have rated Suwanee highly, generally above and often much above ratings received from residents in some 500 other jurisdictions across the country.

In the 2012 National Citizens Survey, conducted in November, residents' ratings placed Suwanee among the top 10 performing communities in 32 of 117 questions addressed – that's 27 percent. Residents' responses made Suwanee #1 in four areas: land use, planning and zoning; preservation of natural areas; city parks; and availability of affordable quality child care.

Suwanee conducts the National Citizens Survey every two years. The survey allows the approximately 500 participating communities across the country to benchmark themselves against one another and to identify local challenges, evaluate improvements, and monitor services and amenities. The statistically valid and scientifically administered survey is managed by the National Research Center and International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Suwanee residents continue to be pleased with overall community quality. Ninety-nine percent of survey-takers rated Suwanee as an excellent or good place to live and would recommend living in Suwanee. Ninety-seven percent rated the overall quality of life as excellent or good.

"This scientific, objective analysis allows us to measure citizen desires and our performance," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "What we're really pleased with is how we've stayed strong. Our numbers have stayed consistently high across the board and across time. It seems clear that residents, too, are pleased with our direction as a community."

In the area of public trust, 89 percent of residents said they are pleased with the overall direction Suwanee is taking (putting Suwanee second among 300 communities) and 76 percent felt that the value of services for taxes paid to Suwanee was excellent or good, ranking Suwanee fifth among 366 communities that asked their residents that question. As a comparison, 40 percent of Suwanee residents said that services provided by the federal government were excellent or good, a rating that is similar to that of other communities.

Of 31 community characteristics for which comparisons are available, Suwanee residents rated their community above the national benchmark in 30 areas. Suwanee ranked below the benchmark in the area of contact with neighbors. Of 36 services rated, Suwanee scored above the national benchmark in 33 areas. Two services (snow removal and recycling) were ranked similarly to the benchmark, and bus/transit service scored below the benchmark.

Two areas in which Suwanee excelled were preservation of natural areas (Suwanee repeated its #1 ranking from 2010) and city parks, moving up from #2 in 2010 to #1.

"This is another affirmation of the 2001 Open Space referendum," says Burnette, "of how it has shaped our community and was so much the right thing to do."

Other survey findings include:

  • Suwanee's overall image/reputation was rated excellent or good by 98 percent of respondents.
  • Suwanee ranked seventh among 277 communities for availability of affordable housing and eighth among 201 for variety of housing options.
  • The excellent/good ratings for Suwanee's land use, planning, and zoning was up 13 percent over 2010 survey results, putting Suwanee at the top of the benchmark.
  • Court services' excellent/good rating was up 12 percent over 2010, going from 69 to 81 percent.
  • Eighty-four percent of residents visited a neighborhood or City park more than three times in the previous 12 months; 51 percent more than 13 times; and 30 percent more than 26 times.
  • Suwanee as a place to work was rated more highly in 2012, up 12 percent.
  • Forty-eight percent of respondents moved to Suwanee within the past 5 years and among areas that were most important to their selection of Suwanee as a place to live were police/public safety, community appearance, overall community feel/vibe, neighborhoods, park system, and Suwanee's image/reputation.

The National Citizens Survey was administered in November. Suwanee's overall response rate was 25 percent; the typical response rate on citizen surveys ranges from 20-40 percent.


February 1, 2013

INDEPENDENT FILM CIRCUIT RETURNS TO SUWANEE

The second half of the 2012-13 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers returns to Suwanee and Movie Tavern with a screening of TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives at 7 p.m. Monday, February 18.

Tickets may be purchased for $6 each at Movie Tavern or online at www.movietavern.com and include an opportunity to engage in discussion with the filmmaker, Nancy Kelly.

Part of Kelly's award-winning trilogy on the transformative power of art, TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives follows members of Chicago's Albany Park Theater Project as they transform the traumatic story of an 18-year-old Honduran immigrant into a daring, original play. TRUST is about creativity and the unexpected resources inside young people, who may be discounted because of their youth, race, or ethnicity.

The film received the Jury Award from the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, the Youth Vision Award from the United Nations Association Film Festival, and Best Documentary Award from the Reel Rasquache Art & Film Festival.

Parental note: Although TRUST is about youth, the subject matter includes adult topics; this film may not be appropriate for children.

Two additional films will be shown through the film circuit: The Misadventures of the Dunderheads on March 18 and Heart of Stone on April 15.


January 11, 2013

WANTED: FARMERS, BUTCHERS, BAKERS,
EVEN SOAP AND CANDLE-MAKERS

As the Suwanee Farmers Market gears up for its ninth year, farmers who can provide fresh produce as well as vendors with other items – including jams, breads, honey, meat products, eggs, flowers, and more – are invited to apply to participate in the 2013 season.

Applications are due by March 18, on which date the Suwanee Farmers Market Annual Meeting will be held. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue.

Guidelines and applications are available at www.suwanee.com. Typically, the City receives more applications than can be accommodated by available vendor space. All products sold at Suwanee markets must be grown or made by the applicant; no re-selling of goods is permitted. In addition, vendors who sell products requiring state licenses must possess current licenses issued by the appropriate agencies.

The 2013 Suwanee Farmers Market will be open at Town Center Park from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May 4 through October 5, and from 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays, May 7 through August 6.


January 10, 2013

A REAL GLIMPSE BEHIND THE BADGE

Are you a cop show junkie? Can't get enough of the Law & Order, CSI, or NCIS programs? Well, you may be interested in a "behind the scenes" program being offered by the Suwanee Police Department, a hands-on, eight-week program that promises to be more realistic, personal, and impactful than watching a good television cop show.

The Suwanee Police Department will offer its popular Citizens Police Academy from 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday evenings beginning February 19 at the Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

Those wishing to participate must provide notarized applications by 5 p.m. Monday, February 4. Applications are available at www.suwanee.com. Applicants must be at least 19 years old, and City of Suwanee residents receive priority placement.

The program offers participants a better understanding of the day-to-day functions, risks, and experiences of Suwanee police officers. Topics addressed include crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification.

A 2012 Citizens Police Academy participant said in an evaluation: "The program is very informative, and it helps to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement."


January 9, 2013

SUWANEE SEEKS ARTISTS TO HELP IT PUT 'ART ON A LIMB'

The City of Suwanee wants to hear from artists who are willing to go out on a limb – literally. Suwanee is accepting proposals and samples from artists who wish to have their work considered for the City's month-long, award-winning Art on a Limb program.

Through Art on a Limb, two pieces of original artwork are hidden along the Suwanee Creek Greenway or at one of the City's parks each day throughout the month of May. Those who find the art pieces get to keep the unique trail treasures.

Past Art on a Limb pieces have included clay orbs, small paintings on canvas as well as pieces of the City's old water tower, magnets, gourds painted to look like birds, the Suwanee S shaped from metal, and pottery pieces that include leaves found along the Greenway.

The deadline for submitting entries to be considered for the 2013 Art on a Limb program is February 15. More information and an application are available at www.suwanee.com.

Area residents have come to look forward to Art on a Limb as part of spring in Suwanee. Last year, Michawne Clark found a clay mug created by Sandra Nissan: "I cannot tell you how excited I was to see it hanging from the fence separating the Greenway from McGinnis Reserve…. Once I realized what it was, I screamed like I had won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes…."


January 3, 2013

MAYOR TO PRESENT 'STATE OF THE CITY' JANUARY 9

Mayor Jimmy Burnette will give the annual State of the City address on Wednesday, January 9, in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. The State of the City address is part of the January meeting of the Suwanee Business Alliance, which begins at 6 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public.

The mayor will share City accomplishments from 2012, which include opening of a police training facility and substation in the Suwanee Gateway, streetscaping projects at I-85 and along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, and a 0.72 reduction in the City's tax rate.

In addition, Burnette will share information about the 20/20 Vision strategic plan process as well as highlight some of the priorities and strategies identified in the plan. Suwanee's strategic plan, which engaged more than 800 area residents, business owners, and community stakeholders, resulted in seven driving principles, 33 goals, and 140 potential strategies.