Saturday, December 27, 2008

County Extends Agreement with Trash Haulers

In response to the injunction against the County’s new solid waste plan that would have taken effect the first of the year, Gwinnett officials have today agreed to extend service agreements with current trash service providers to ensure that citizens will continue to receive garbage service.

“The County’s first order of business is to make sure that a group of approved private waste haulers is in place and working in January,” said County Administrator Jock Connell. “Gwinnett is back to a multi-provider approach with residents choosing their trash haulers based on their ability to provide service as authorized by County government.”

Residents have the opportunity to extend trash service with their current haulers or choose one of the nine haulers who have agreed to provide services in the County:
Advanced Disposal Service Atlanta, LLC – (770) 381-6420
Allied Waste Industries – (770) 339-9393
Robertson Sanitation – (770) 921-7337
Red Oak Sanitation, Inc. – (770) 455-7819
Sanitation Solutions, Inc. – (770) 886-7323
Southern Sanitation – (770) 455-8186
Waste Industries – (678) 328-1650
Waste Management of Atlanta – (404) 799-2717
Waste Pro of Georgia, Inc. – (770) 777-1447

Trash haulers will continue to pick up the following recyclables once a week with residents’ curbside garbage service: newspapers and inserts, plastic drink and detergent bottles, aluminum cans, steel cans, glass bottles and jars.

Residents who paid to activate service with Advanced Disposal in 2009 will receive a refund and notifications of when they will expect to have the trash carts removed. Residents with Waste Pro carts will need to contact Waste Pro to discuss cart retrieval and refund information. Contact Advanced Disposal at (678) 684-1493 or Waste Pro at (770) 295-0800 or (770) 451-9395 for more information.

“Residents need to understand that the underlying court case is ongoing and will take several months to resolve, at a minimum. The County will revisit the solid waste ordinance in 2009 to determine the best plan to ensure that we reduce waste and increase recycling opportunities while providing the best possible plan for our residents,” Connell said. “We appreciate our residents’ and the current waste haulers’ patience as we navigate through this process.”

Gwinnett officials advise residents to contact their prospective trash hauler with questions about setting up or continuing their service. A call center has been set up at County offices to assist with general questions about the solid waste plan. If you have questions, please call (770) 822-7141 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or visit the County Web site at www.gwinnettcounty.com. Please note that: Gwinnett County offices will be closed Dec. 24 – 25 and Jan. 1. The call center will be operable as this process continues.

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FAQs
Trash Haulers
December 23, 2008

Q: Will I still have curbside trash pickup in 2009?
A: Yes. You can opt to receive service from your current hauler or you can contact one of the other approved haulers in Gwinnett:

Advanced Disposal Service Atlanta, LLC – (770) 381-6420
Allied Waste Industries – (770) 339-9393
Robertson Sanitation – (770) 921-7337
Red Oak Sanitation, Inc. – (770) 455-7819
Sanitation Solutions, Inc. – (770) 886-7323
Southern Sanitation – (770) 455-8186
Waste Industries – (678) 328-1650
Waste Management of Atlanta – (404) 799-2717
Waste Pro of Georgia, Inc. – (770) 777-1447

Q: Can I change from the hauler the County selected for me?
A: Yes, you can choose to keep your current company or select any approved hauler.

Q: What about the recycling program?
A: The current seven-item program remains in effect.

Q: Will I be fined for not recycling?
A: There are no fines for not recycling.

Q: Should I pay the deactivation fee or will I be given a refund?
A: The new 2008 solid waste plan has been enjoined by the court. All of the waste haulers can remain in business if they wish. No company has been shut down and the County doesn't believe service has been stopped.

Q: Where is Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful in all this?
A: The court has enjoined Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful from providing services for the County while the order remains in effect.

Q: I would like to recycle more items. What about the new plan?
A: The County has listened to concerns of citizens and will certainly take those into account when considering how to rework the solid waste plan.

Q: When will the County revisit the solid waste plan?
A: Please remember the court has issued a temporary order and the lawsuit has not been concluded. A schedule for reviewing or updating the plan won't be addressed until later. Hopefully this could occur in 2009.

Q: For those people who've had cans delivered by who was supposed to be their new service provider, what should people do with those cans? Will someone come back to pick them up? How can people find out what to do with them?
A: Advanced Disposal will be retrieving their carts. They will send notification to the homeowner advising them of when they can expect to have the cart removed.

Homeowners with Waste Pro trash carts will need to contact Waste Pro to remove the cart should the home owner choose a solid waste provider other than Waste Pro.

Q: Who will be paying/is responsible for removing carts that were delivered for the new 2009 solid waste plan?
A: The cans will be removed at no cost to the homeowner.

Q: For people who've received bills from who was supposed to be their new service provider 2009 (Waste Pro or Advanced Disposal), what should people do with those bills?
A: The homeowner has a choice; either pay the Waste Pro bill if they wish to retain them for solid waste collection and disposal service or disregard the bill and choose a hauler from the County's approved hauler list who provides service to their particular area. Please note that some providers have limited service areas. This is a choice the hauler made when making application to the County.

Homeowners should not pay the Advanced Disposal bill. Homeowners who have already paid the bill will receive a full refund.

Q: For people who never canceled trash service with their old provider, do they need to call that provider now to tell them they still want service in 2009? What should they do if their old provider already picked up their can?
A: It is our understanding that service providers are working to get billing statements to their current customers for first quarter 2009. The homeowner may want to make contact with their current provider for any questions concerning cart delivery and rates.

Q: Should people who received a bill for quarterly service in 2009 from their old provider pay it now?
A: Gwinnett County has extended all solid waste service agreements for 120 days. Service agreement renewals for 2009 will begin on the 121st day and carry through December 31, 2009, pending any future court decision.

Q: Will the waste haulers who charged a deactivation fee to their customers refund the fee since they are no longer required to deactivate their services?
A: The deactivation fee charged by the service providers is a private matter between the hauler and the customer. Customers who were charged this fee should contact their hauler to resolve the issue.

Q: I have other questions; who should I call?
A: A call center has been set up at County offices to field questions from residents. That number is (770) 822-7141. Call center hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. The call center will be closed for Christmas Holidays on Dec. 24 – 25 and will also be closed on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Gwinnett Tech is One of Nation's Fastest-Growing Two-Year Colleges

Gwinnett Technical College is among the fastest-growing public two-year colleges in the nation, according to an annual analysis by Community College Week Magazine. GTC ranks 20th in the country with 12.6 percent enrollment growth.

In total, six Technical College System of Georgia colleges have been named in two categories of the top fifty fastest-growing public two-year colleges in the nation. The magazine based its report on the percentage of enrollment change among 1,153 colleges in the two-year period including fall 2006 and fall 2007.

"Gwinnett Tech has recorded double-digit enrollment growth for seven consecutive quarters – almost two years. Although registration for Winter Quarter is still on-going, it appears this strong enrollment trend will continue into 2009," says Sharon Bartels, Gwinnett Tech president. "Most importantly, these trends tell us that we're meeting our goal of providing relevant knowledge and real world workforce education to ensure that our students are successful."

Five other Georgia technical colleges making the top 50 list, with enrollments of between 2,500 and 4,999 students, include Griffin Technical College (4th), West Central Technical College (8th), Middle Georgia Technical College (28th), and Columbus Technical College (47th). East Central Technical College was the 29th among two-year colleges with enrollments of 2,500 or less.

The full report is available online at www.ccweek.com

"The kind of phenomenal growth that these six colleges are experiencing is a reflection of what's happening in enrollment throughout the Technical College System of Georgia," said TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson. "More and more students are turning to Georgia's technical colleges to get the kind of 21st Century education and training that's vital to their success in today's highly competitive workforce.

Gwinnett Tech offers more than 45 degree, diploma and certificate program options. For more information, call 770-962-7580 or visit www.gwinnetttech.edu.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Lawrenceville Kiwanis Club to Provide Christmas Cheer to Children in Need

The Lawrenceville Kiwanis Club will be hosting its annual Christmas party for children in the community who otherwise would not get to experience the traditional joys of the season. The party will include lunch, a visit and photo with Santa Claus, arts/crafts with local high school Key Club members, and gifts. Each child will go home with gifts from his or her wish list to open on Christmas Day, courtesy of corporate and individual sponsors and donors.

Corporate and individual sponsors have signed on to sponsor more than 300 children. Companies and organizations like Gwinnett Technical College, which hosts the party, participate in the event by donating popular toys and video games, as well as winter clothing and jackets, school supplies and other common items that top the list of children's wishes – and needs. This year, faculty, staff and students from Gwinnett Tech will provide gifts to 57 children. The event is held in cooperation with the Gwinnett County Department of Family and Children's Services.

When: Children and their families, sponsors and supporters of the Lawrenceville Kiwanis Club's Christmas program will attend the party on Saturday, December 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: The party will take place on the campus of Gwinnett Technical College in the Busbee Center, Building 700, 5150 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville, 30043

Who: A special appearance by Santa Claus will take place during the party, where an anticipated 300 children, ranging in age from newborn to teens, will be the honored guests.
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gwinnett Annouces Organizational Changes; Eliminates 93 Positions

Gwinnett County is announcing organizational changes in two areas of government. A total of 93 positions will be eliminated from two departments: 79 in Planning and Development, which has been heavily affected by slowing development, and another 14 in Water Resources, which has been investing in new, more automated plants and equipment in order to close older, less efficient facilities. The total projected savings is $4.5 million in 2009 and $5.9 million the following year.

Over the last couple of years, development activity has slowed both locally and across the nation. As a result of both the dramatic slowdown and efficiencies the department gained through implementing recommendations from a comprehensive study, current staffing levels in Planning and Development’s plan review, development review, building inspections and development inspections sections are no longer justified given the workload both today and forecast into the future.

Staff reductions in Water Resources are part of the department’s long-range plan that includes decommissioning several older water reclamation facilities upon the completion of newer facilities and computerized maintenance and control systems upgrades. The Beaver Ruin Water Reclamation Facility is slated to close by the end of the year.

The organizational changes will be undertaken in three phases with the intent to impact as few employees as possible in the end. First, a retirement incentive will be offered to employees in the targeted areas who are currently eligible or will be eligible to retire by the end of 2009. That will be followed by an effort to match up employees in positions where staffing changes are needed to other job opportunities. Finally, the last phase will consist of layoffs.

“This is one of the most difficult and painful decisions I have ever had to make,” said County Administrator Jock Connell. “It affects real people and their livelihood, and it’s hard. We are hoping that voluntary retirements and transfers will help lessen the impact on individuals, although I can’t guarantee that outcome in all cases.”

This organizational change is the first action taken as the result of a comprehensive services and cost management review prompted by slowing growth, rising expenses and flattening revenues. Dozens of employees on 10 evaluation teams have been working since August towards a goal to find ways to improve efficiency and cut ongoing expenses by $35 million. Areas under examination include: non-core services, administrative functions, rates and fees, productivity, facility operations and maintenance, equipment, inventories, supplies, and personnel costs including overtime and benefits. Although the overall review is still underway, and most recommendations are due in late November, this reduction was quickly identified as necessary and requiring immediate action.

Gwinnett County, which has held the line or reduced its county tax rate every year since 1992 for a total reduction of 27 percent, has also maintained the highest possible credit ratings. But since 2000, forecasts have projected slower revenue growth and increasing costs. This year’s budget allocated $32 million in reserve funds to help cover operating costs, a necessary move but one that is not sustainable over the long term.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TerraSol Partners with Gwin Oaks Elementary to Expand Environmental Educational Opportunities by Beginning Construction on Outdoor Classroom

On November 15, 2008, parents of students at Gwin Oaks Elementary will be bringing their tools, rolling up their sleeves and continuing the work that Vesmont, LC, developer of the new, eco-friendly lifestyle community TerraSol in Gwinnett County, and Highlight Homes, one of the builders for that subdivision, began on the Gwin Oaks outdoor classroom. Establishing roots in the community by entering into a professional learning partnership with Gwin Oaks Elementary School, Vesmont and Highlight Homes pledged funds and labor to restore the Gwin Oaks Nature Preserve and outdoor classroom.

“We plan to do all of the clearing, grading, paving and other heavy lifting in advance and help to coordinate the efforts of the parents that are going to volunteer to bring this project to fruition,” said Lawrence Kasmen, a principal of Vesmont, LC and Highlight Homes, LLC. “This partnership was a natural fit for our companies, and we are committed to being a vital part of the community here in Gwinnett County. Through our eco-friendly development, TerraSol, we want to promote the value of our environment through education just as Gwin Oaks Elementary’s outdoor classroom will do.”

Gwin Oaks Elementary is one of the schools in the Brookwood Cluster that was approached by Vesmont as a voluntary effort to help enrich the schools in the local area. The scope of this project is to clear away debris from the existing nature trail and then to expand the trail to begin at the new outdoor play area and make it handicap accessible. In addition, the plan calls for a 100 seat outdoor classroom, a 30 seat gathering area, an extension and widening of the existing trail and a picnic area. Parents that volunteer to help will contribute to this effort by planting shrubs and ground cover, building the benches in the outdoor auditorium, clearing away debris such as leaves and sticks, marking the trail by laying down gravel and installing posts connected by ropes, and adding signs to denote the various points of interest along the trail.

“With Vesmont’s and Highlight Homes’ help, we will add a new 100 student outdoor auditorium for outdoor presentations. We look forward to sharing the new and improved Nature Trail with the community,” said parent and volunteer Anna Fallen. “This project will expand the outdoor learning space for our students. We also hope that it will encourage parent and student involvement.”

Vesmont, LC regularly visits the local schools in areas in which they are constructing new subdivisions to see what they can do to improve the learning environment at the schools. The focus of the new Terra Sol subdivision is on sustainable construction and preserving the natural environment so it is fitting that they will be renovating the Gwin Oaks Nature Preserve, which has fallen into disrepair, so that the students can enjoy an enriched outdoor education next to the Yellow River.

TerraSol, a distinctive eco-friendly community developed by Vesmont, LC, is located in Gwinnett County along the scenic Yellow River. The name TerraSol, derived from the Latin terms for “earth” and "sun,” suits this pristine community perfectly as more than 40 percent of the land at TerraSol remains in an untouched, natural state. Residents are given the opportunity to discover natural wonders on a nearly two mile long, all-natural mulch walking trail winding throughout the property and to explore history in a three acre archaeological site, also located within the community. TerraSol will offer 128 single-family homes on generously sized lots priced from the $500,000s.

Consistent with its mission to be an environmentally friendly development company, Vesmont will incorporate sustainable design principles, recycled materials and EarthCraft building methods into the construction of the amenity area and community activity center. Children attend Gwin Oaks Elementary, Five Forks Middle and the highly acclaimed Brookwood High School.

To visit TerraSol, take I-85 North to Indian Trail/Lilburn Exit 101. Turn right onto Indian Trail/Lilburn Road (which becomes Killian Hill Road) and travel approximately 6.6 miles. Turn left onto Five Forks Trickum Road. The entrance to the community will be one mile ahead on the right. For more information on TerraSol, call 678 344-4878 or log on to the Web site at www.terrasolga.com.

Vesmont. Vested in the future. Today. For more information, visit www.vesmont.com
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gwinnett Tech Opens International Education Center at Gwinnett Place

Gwinnett Technical College has opened the International Education Center at Gwinnett Place Mall, created to prepare residents and businesses alike to prosper and thrive in an increasingly international environment.

The center will host a number of Gwinnett Tech's continuing education classes, including language offerings and workforce training courses that support area businesses and meet the needs of Gwinnett's multilingual population.

Leaders from higher education, business and the international community joined Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels and Carl Swearingen, board chairman of the Technical College System of Georgia, for the center's opening yesterday.

"We live in an increasingly global environment, providing new opportunities and challenges for businesses and residents alike. Our International Education Center was created to provide the progressive education and training that students of all ages will need to be successful in an international world and workplace," Bartels explains.

The International Education Center occupies just over 32,600 square feet on two levels, with 23 classrooms. The center includes testing facilities to support language classes and a Recruitment and Information Center for Gwinnett Tech.

"The International Education Center brings Gwinnett Tech's specialized courses into the heart of the community where they are needed most. Technical colleges play a vital role in the economic development of our community, and we're pleased to contribute positively to the economic growth and vibrancy of the Gwinnett Place area," Bartels says.

A full slate of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes will begin at the center on Oct. 6, with several computer, construction and business training courses also scheduled to start early this fall. A full course schedule for all Gwinnett Tech continuing education classes is available online at www.GwinnettTech.edu/ce.

Also participating in the opening of the International Education Center were Georgia State Senator David Shafer; Louise Radloff, GCPS Board Member; Joe Allen, executive director, Gwinnett Place CID; James Song, vice chairman, Georgian Korean Chamber of Commerce; Demming Bass and Nick Masino, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce; Marty Solomon, Simon Properties; Michael Sullivan, board member, Technical College System of Georgia; Marian Lucia, board chair, Gwinnett Technical College; Charlene Fang, board member, Gwinnett Tech Foundation; and Maria Hall, board member, Gwinnett Tech Foundation.

For more information on course offerings at the International Education Center, call 770-995-9697 or visit online at www.GwinnettTech.edu/ce. The International Education Center is located at 2100 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, GA, 30096.
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Gwinnett Tech is Now a Microsoft IT Academy

Gwinnett Tech is now a Microsoft IT Academy, a designation that offers a host of benefits to students enrolled in the college's Computer Science programs.

The Microsoft IT Academy provides technology students access to the latest Microsoft products and resources, including free software, e-learning materials, the company's E-Reference Library and Microsoft's developer products.

"We're focused on giving our students the most up-to-date education possible, so our partnership with Microsoft is a major plus for students. Being able to access such a wide variety of Microsoft products, services and educational tools is an amazing resource for a student to have," says Anthony Rojo, division director for Computer Sciences at Gwinnett Tech.

As a member of the Microsoft Developer Academic Alliance, Gwinnett Tech can provide students with free licenses for the latest Microsoft software. Students will also have access to Microsoft's Designer Academic Alliance. This allows students in design-related courses to use the latest Microsoft Express tools.

The college's relationship with Microsoft is also great news for students taking the various Microsoft Certification tests. They will now receive discounted testing fees, and have the Second Shot option, which allows them to re-take a Microsoft Certification test for free if they fail the first attempt.

GTC faculty members will benefit, too, with full access to the E-Reference Library, including 500 full-text technical titles from MS Press.

Gwinnett Tech offers associate of applied science degrees and diplomas in computer programming, computer simulation/game development, networking, information security and Web site design, plus a host of certification options in fields like Cisco CCNA and CCNP, cyber crime and more.

For more information about Gwinnett Tech's Computer Science offerings or other programs, contact 770-962-7580 or visit www.gwinnetttech.edu.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gwinnett Welcomes Four New Fire Trucks

Four more new fire trucks will soon join the dozen that Gwinnett County bought during the past two years. Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $1.7 million contract, to be paid with SPLOST funds, from North America Fire Equipment Co. Inc., of Decatur, Ala.

Fire stations 2, 10, 14 and 25 are slated to get the four new triple-combination rescue-style pumper trucks that can pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute to douse a fire. During 2008, the County has received 12 similar fire engines ordered previously from the same company. Three of those were for new stations 28, 29 and 30. The other nine went to stations 4, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 20, 22 and 23.

Fire Chief Steve Rolader said, “These purchases not only equip our newest stations, which are also built with SPLOST funds, but they also upgrade and modernize our ability to fight fires from many of our existing stations as well.”
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Section of Rock Springs Park to Open Saturday

Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation will open up a section of the new 114-acre Rock Springs Park in Lawrenceville this Saturday. Open will be the new football field with a lighted walking track, a concession building, press box, and two miles of paved multi-purpose trails.

Collins Hill Youth Athletic Association will play their football games at the park this Saturday as well and will run their football and cheerleading programs out of the park. The association sold honorarium/memorial bricks to fund the purchase of a P.A. system for the football program.
The remainder of the park will open by the end of the year and will feature six lighted tennis courts, a playground and a pavilion.
Construction of the park was funded through the 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

“Rock Springs is considered a ‘sister’ park to nearby Collins Hill Park, “ said Sharon Plunkett, Division Director of Operations for Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation. “Both parks complement each other’s offerings and give us a way to serve the citizens and the strong youth athletic association at the park that has been in existence for many years.”

The park was designed by Lose & Associates. Inc. and the contractor for the project is ACE Grading Company, LLC.

Rock Springs Park is located at 550 Rock Springs Rd. in Lawrenceville. For more information, call 770-822-8840 or visit www.gwinnettparks.com.