2016 News Releases
August 5, 2016
Suwanee's Proposed Millage Rate to Remain at 4.93
The City of Suwanee has proposed a millage rate of 4.93 mills, the same proposed rate used in the adopted FY 2017 budget and the same rate used by the City over the past four years.
That rate, however, is higher than the calculated rollback rate of 4.687 mills – this is the rate that would be expected to generate the same total revenue as the previous year.
City Council is expected to adopt a fiscal year 2017 millage rate at its August 23 meeting. Because the proposed rate is anticipated to generate a 5.18 percent increase in property tax revenues, due to rising property values, the City of Suwanee will hold three public hearings on this increase.
Millage rate public hearings will be in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall on:
- Thursday, August 11 at 5:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, August 23 at noon
- Tuesday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m.
The proposed 4.93 millage rate will result in a property tax increase of 5.18 percent. This proposed increase for a home with a fair market value of $260,000 is approximately $25.27 and an increase of $53.46 for a nonresidential property with a fair market value of $550,000.
August 1, 2016
City of Suwanee Once Again Awarded for Superior Management
For the eighth consecutive year, the City of Suwanee has been recognized by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for superior performance management. Suwanee was one of nine jurisdictions throughout the country this year to receive a Certificate of Distinction from ICMA's Center for Performance Measurement.
"The certificate program recognizes communities that have demonstrated leadership in continuous improvement and community engagement using performance analysis," said ICMA Executive Director Robert J. O'Neill, Jr. "Performance analysis is an integral component of professional local government management, and jurisdictions meeting the certificate qualifications serve as examples for other governments to follow."
In order to earn a Certificate of Distinction, jurisdictions must:
- Report performance data to the public through budgets, newsletters, etc.
- Undertake data verification efforts to ensure reliability
- Provide staff training
- Use performance data in strategic planning and operational decision-making
- Share performance measurement knowledge with other local governments.
According to ICMA, the certificate program assesses a local government's performance management program and encourages analysis of results by comparing to peers and gauging performance over time. Performance management aids in cost reduction, program prioritization, and quality improvement while encouraging accountability and transparency.
June 22, 2016
Suwanee Police Department Named Georgia Agency of the Year
The Georgia Chapter of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy Associates (FBINAA) presented the Suwanee Police Department with the Phyllis Goodwin Agency of the Year Award at the organization's annual summer conference last week.
The annual award recognizes agencies that excel in support of the FBINAA Georgia Chapter. Criteria for the award is measured in the categories of how the agency's efforts present themselves in a manner that lend strength, dignity, and credit to the law enforcement profession, the impact the agency's efforts have had on the Georgia chapter of the FBINAA, and the positive impacts involving agency programs and services made in the community.
"The chapter could not be successful without the support of departments like the Suwanee Police Department," said Sandy Springs Police Department Deputy Chief Keith Zgonc, who serves as the 2nd Vice President of the FBINAA Georgia Chapter. "Their support and dedication is a great example to all of our members."
The award is named for Phyllis Goodwin, who worked with the FBI for almost 38 years. During most of those years she served as the police training tech and she assisted officers who wanted to attend the national academy.
"The Suwanee Police Department personnel who have graduated from the FBI National Academy serve as active members of the FBINAA's Georgia Chapter, serving in leadership and support positions throughout the years," said Suwanee Chief of Police Mike Jones.
"I have been a strong supporter of the FBI National Academy since graduating from the 155th session in 1986. The organization does so much to enhance law enforcement profession as a whole. I am humbled at the recognition that the Suwanee Police Department has received from the FBINAA."
June 15, 2016
Accreditation Assessment Team Invites Public Comment
Suwanee, GA -- A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) will arrive June 27, 2016 to examine all aspects of the Suwanee Police Department's policy and procedures, management, operations, and support services, Suwanee Police Chief Mike Jones announced today.
"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," said Jones.
As part of the on-site assessment, agency personnel and members of the community are invited to offer comments at a public information session on June 29, 2016 at 6:00 pm at the Suwanee Council Chambers in City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue Suwanee, GA 30024.
If for some reason an individual cannot speak at the public information session but would still like to provide comments to the assessment team, he/she may do so by calling 770 904-7655 on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 between the hours of 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
Telephone comments, as well as appearances at the public information session, are limited to ten minutes and must address the agency's ability to comply with CALEA standards. A copy of the standards is available at the Suwanee Police Department, 373 Highway 23 Suwanee, GA 30024. Local contact is Lt. Dan Clark, 770 904-7605.
Persons wishing to offer written comments about the Suwanee Police Department's ability to meet the standards for accreditation/recognition are requested to write: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, Inc. (CALEA®), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, VA 20155.
"The Suwanee Police Department has to comply with approximately 418 applicable standards in order to gain accredited status," said 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. The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals, and visit offices and other locations where compliance can be witnessed. The assessors are Assistant Chief Stacy Kelly and Retired Lieutenant Rae Ferguson. Once the 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 the agency must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially 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.
June 9, 2016
Suwanee City Hall Hosts Temporary Indoor Sculpture Garden
The lobby of Suwanee City Hall has been temporarily transformed into an indoor sculpture garden for the summer by North Gwinnett High School (NGHS) art students.
Thirteen sculptures created by advanced 3D art students will be on display in City Hall throughout the summer. NGHS art teacher Debi West assigned her students to work in groups to create research-based presentations on chosen master artists. The assignment was then extended into a sculpture garden, where the student teams were challenged to create life-sized sculptures in the style of their selected master artist.
"Students really had no parameters and worked collaboratively over two-and-a-half weeks to create these incredible sculptures. They included info sheets about their master artists and then they were required to present their sculptures to the class," said West. "It is one of the most successful lessons I have taught through the years and I am beyond proud of their hard work, creative minds, and ability to work together to create something so beautiful!"
The sculptures will remain on display in City Hall through the week of August 8, 2016.
North Gwinnett Sculpture Garden Artists and Inspirations:
- Basquiat – Ryan Wilson, Lily Alford, Mark Kleinman
- Butterfield – Sharon Chong, Alexandra Chuck, Jesse Duff
- Dali – Collier Thigpen, Steven Chapell, Insiya Ujjainwala
- Dubuffet – Chelsea McGovern, Erica Wang, Karenna Pletcher
- Giacometti – Jessica Hicks, Emily Overton, Brynn Fuque
- Goldsworthy – Matt Haller, Matthew White, Patrick Stern
- Hepworth – Vince Mancuso, Lauren Maher, Kyairrah Taylor, Gabbi Johnson
- Nevelson – Eni Adeniji, Debrecca Campbell, Elisha Back
- Oldenburg – Amber Lim, Niyah White, Brooke Lougher
- Paik – Patrick Okonkwo, Lauren House, Olivia Packer, Andrea Scibilia
- Picasso – Ben Renner, Olivia Griffin, Erin Fry
- Schwitters – Michael Slusher, Derrick Fluetter, Alex Song
For more information regarding the temporary indoor sculpture garden, please contact Special Projects Coordinator Toni Shrewsbury at 770-904-3389.
June 7, 2016
"Would You Like to Take a Survey?"
City of Suwanee asking citizens what they would like in new park
The City of Suwanee is in the early planning stages of a new park, and wants to know what citizens would like to see in the new communal space.
The approximate 20-acre site (locally known as the DeLay Property) located behind the Suwanee library and PlayTown Suwanee on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, is set to be the City of Suwanee's next great park. Purchased in 2002 as a future park site, the property was an early acquisition in the Open Space Initiative.
"At this time, the park is only in the preliminary planning stages. We are not sure if we're planning for the immediate future or the midterm," said Suwanee City Manager Marty Allen.
A brainstorming session with consultants and City Hall staff was conducted in mid-May, while stakeholder interviews will take place during the month of June, as well as man-on-the-street-style interviews. Surveys have been collected at recent Town Center events including the June 3 Food Truck Friday and June 4 Movies under the Stars.
"The type and character of this park is still to be determined. The proximity to Town Center provides an opportunity to enhance both locations," said Allen. "We're hoping that the community can help us with creative ideas that have not been done in our region. By engaging the public, we hope to make this space another one of Suwanee's great places."
Citizens who are interested in voicing their opinions can take the online survey by visiting www.Suwanee.com. For more information regarding the City of Suwanee's new park, please contact Downtown & Business Development Manager Adam Edge at 770-904-3388.
May 25, 2016
Super Suwanee, Super Rate
City of Suwanee Saves $3M Through Bond Refinance
The Suwanee City Council adopted a bond resolution and bond purchase agreement at their May 24, 2016 City Council Meeting and voted to approve the refinancing of the city's outstanding Open Space bonds, resulting in savings of $3 million over the life of the bond for Suwanee tax payers.
Based on current market conditions and Suwanee's AAA bond rating, the city was able to forward refund the approximately $12.3 million bond and lock-in at a 1.96 percent rate (formerly 4.3 percent) with JPMorgan Chase. This option provides a fiscal year comparison savings of $3 million, as well as shortening the outstanding debt from 16 to 10 years.
"The City's credit and reputation again brought strong interest from the banking sector, and we received some great bids," said Amie Sakmar, City of Suwanee Financial Services Director. "Suwanee is thrilled to be partnering once again with JPMorgan Chase in these efforts to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money."
Last fall, the City of Suwanee refinanced 2006 revenue bonds – also with JPMorgan Chase – that were used to help fund construction of Suwanee City Hall, saving the city approximately $180,000.
"This allows us the opportunity to save the taxpayers millions of dollars by getting out-of-debt sooner," said Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "Like the previous refunding, it's a win-win situation."
May 23, 2016
Suwanee Hosts Double-Header Event Weekend
The City of Suwanee is kicking off summer by hosting two events the first weekend of June: Food Truck Friday on June 3 and a double-feature Movies Under the Stars on Saturday, June 4.
The tentative food truck line-up includes Buffalo's Café, Bustin' Butts, Deep South Biscuit Co., Flatbread Bistro, Freckled and Blue, Island Chef, King of Pops, Mac the Cheese, Tasting Maine, and Wheely Grilly. The Food Trucks will begin serving at 5:30 p.m., and musical guests Live Well and Salt Flats will take the Town Center Stage at 7:00 p.m. and play until 9:30 p.m.
Two movies will be shown during the June 4 Movies Under the Stars event. The 7 p.m. movie, to be shown on a digital board, is Finding Nemo. When his son is taken from him by a diver, Marlin (Albert Brooks) the clown fish sets off on a journey across the Great Barrier Reef in search of Nemo. Together with Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a blue tang fish with short term memory loss, they set off through the oceans, joining a club with sharks, dodging jellyfish, hooking a ride with turtles – all while Nemo plots his escape from a dentist's fish tank. Get ready for the upcoming sequel, Finding Dory, hitting theaters on June 17!
The final installment in The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay – Part 2, will be the second feature, shown on an inflatable big screen starting around 8:45 p.m. Realizing the stakes are no longer just for survival, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and Finnick leave District 13 to liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland). What lies ahead are mortal traps, dangerous enemies and moral choices that will ultimately determine the future of millions. Rated PG-13, "It's a story of war and peace, love and bullets, pegged to a girl-woman who fights for her family, her friends and the future. It's aspirational and inspirational, personal and communal, familiar and strange, and it speaks to the past as well as the present, sometimes unnervingly so." [Manohla Dargis, The New York Times]
The movies are free and open to the public. Bring chairs, blankets, and snacks. No alcohol may be brought into the park, but food and beverages, including beer and wine, may be purchased from Town Center merchants.
For more information regarding the City of Suwanee events, please contact Events Manager Amy Doherty at 770-904-3387 or email@example.com.
May 19, 2016
RED, WHITE, BLUEGRASS & BACH
Suwanee's annual concert kick-off to the Memorial Weekend will feature bluegrass and classical performances, a musical salute to the troops, and the Silver Wings parachute team "dropping in" for a visit.
The Red, White, Bluegrass & Bach concert will kick off the Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 27, at Town Center Park. All eyes will be to the sky at 7:00 p.m. as the Fort Benning Silver Wings parachute into Town Center (weather permitting).
The National Anthem will be performed at 7:15 p.m., followed by a classical performance by the Main Street Symphony – an adult amateur orchestra associated with Huthmakers Violins. This string orchestra is open to amateur string players who love music and love making music. There is no audition process – musicians are simply encouraged to attend rehearsals and join the fun.
At 8:30 p.m., bluegrass band Sideline will take the stage. Known for capturing so much of what was great about bluegrass in the 1980s and early 90s, Sideline's killer harmonies and propulsive rhythm, well-chosen blend of new and old material, and focus on being an equal ensemble will take concert-goers back in time to when these guys were simply jamming around a campfire.
For more information regarding Suwanee's Red, White, Bluegrass & Bach event, please contact Events Manager Amy Doherty at 770-904-3387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 16, 2016
Suwanee Adds to Already Impressive Greenway System
The City of Suwanee is pleased to introduce the newest member of our community – the brand-new Brushy Creek Greenway! The path is a half-mile multi-use trail that will connect Suwanee Dam Road at Delay Road to Stonecypher Road near Main Street.
A combination of concrete and boardwalk, the heavily wooded trail will follow the Brushy Creek corridor. The shade, combined with shorter distance, makes the Brushy Creek Greenway ideal for treks with younger children – particularly since it connects to PlayTown Suwanee and the library.
"The Brushy Creek Greenway is integral to our connected greenway system," said Marty Allen, Suwanee's City Manager. "The new trail is also in-line with the alternative transportation portion of our Downtown Suwanee Master Plan by creating more walking and biking opportunities for our citizens."
The Master Plan also calls for a greenway connection from Stonecypher Road south to McGinnis Ferry Road – a link that will also occur along Brushy Creek, helping to form the spine of the future Town Center Park West and improve connections among residential areas, Old Town, and Town Center.
Fashioned by Peachstate Construction, Brushy Creek Greenway brings the current mileage of Suwanee's greenway system to 3 miles. Eighty percent of the project was paid for with Transportation Enhancement Grant funds from the Georgia Department of Transportation, with the remaining 20 percent coming from SPLOST and the general fund. Access and parking for the greenway is currently off of Main Street and PlayTown Suwanee.
April 28, 2016
City of Suwanee Names Two New Associate Judges
The City of Suwanee has named two new associate judges to its municipal court:
Richard Ryczek, Jr. of Lawrenceville is an experienced traffic and DUI attorney with in-depth experience and knowledge in representing individuals in municipal, recorders, and state courts. Ryczek began his law career as a public defender in Rockdale County before moving into the private sector in 2001 and starting his own firm in 2004. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Georgia and his Juris Doctorate from Georgia State University College of Law. He is a frequent lecturer and police academy guest instructor, as well as the trial team coach for the Emory University School of Law mock trial team.
David S. Lee of Duluth is a criminal defense and civil litigation lawyer who has experience in numerous jury trials, motions, arraignments, and pleas in both the superior and state courts of Gwinnett, as well as other jurisdictions. Lee began his law career at a small private firm before being named Senior Assistant District Attorney in Fulton and Dekalb counties. He completed his undergraduate degree at Emory University before attending Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. Lee is fluent in Korean.
The City of Suwanee received 34 applications for the two vacant associate judge positions. After team interviews, Ryczek and Lee were unanimously recommended to the City Council at the monthly council meeting on Tuesday, April 26, where they were voted and sworn into office.
"I am excited to welcome these two very well-respected and knowledgeable attorneys to the bench," said Suwanee Chief Judge Norman Cuadra. "Each will bring respect, honor, experience, and fairness to our court. The City of Suwanee and its citizens will be well served."
April 25, 2016
Beautiful, Musical Art
Suwanee's Annual Art on a Limb Program Kicks off May 1
This year's Art on a Limb pieces are a treat for both the eyes and the ears: Johns Creek artist Judy Isaak – creator of the clay birds and tiles featured in the 2013 Art on a Limb program – fashioned clay double bell wind chimes as this year's winning entry. The wind chimes are stamped with various nature motifs, as well as the Suwanee "S" and the year.
"I thought wind chimes would offer a nice outdoorsy feel in the parks," said Isaak. "I knew they could withstand being outside in the elements until someone found them, since that's what they're designed to do in the first place."
Born and raised the daughter of a farmer in Manitoba, Canada, Isaak married Bill, her high school sweetheart. Five years into their marriage, and after multiple moves pertaining to Bill's job, Judy had the opportunity to take a pottery class that would mold the rest of her life. After a handful of "Pottery 101" classes, Isaak was hooked – beginning a 30+ year career in the world of pottery.
Largely self-taught, Isaak "sometimes has had to make all of the errors before learning the right way to do things." Her artistic education has taken the form of workshops, books, and observation of other artists in various fields.
Pottery became a full-time occupation in 2004, when she moved into her current studio at the Tannery Row Artist Colony in downtown Buford, where she still works and studies in the rich environment that the group of artists provides.
While the wind chimes are simply stoneware, Isaak is well-known for her raku-fired art pieces. Raku is a low-fire method in which the pottery piece is quickly heated, removed from the kiln once the applied glaze has melted, and subjected to post-firing reduction (or smoking) by being placed in containers of combustible materials, which blackens raw clay and causes crazing in the glaze surface. This exciting firing process lends an aura of unpredictability to the final product.
"My work is largely functional, but raku firing gives texture and excitement to the non-functional pieces I create," said Isaak.
The greatest variety of Isaak's work can be found in her studio at Tannery Row Artist Colony. Her work is also featured in the Spruill Gallery in Atlanta, GA.
A beloved Suwanee tradition, Suwanee's annual finders-keepers, month-long Art on a Limb program will bloom along the Suwanee Creek Greenway as well as Sims Lake and White Street parks throughout the month of May. 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.
March 23, 2016
Suwanee Youth Leaders Program Wins Top Regional Award
SUWANEE, GA -- The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) recently awarded Suwanee Youth Leaders – a community-based program of the City of Suwanee – a 2015 CREATE Community Award in the category of Educational Excellence. City Assistant Manager Denise Brinson and Downtown & Business Development Manager Adam Edge, along with several Suwanee Youth Leader alumni, were on hand at the March 23 ARC board meeting at the Loudermilk Center for Regional Community to accept the award.
"The Suwanee Youth Leaders program allows the City to make a genuine commitment to the youth in our community," said Edge. "While it's an honor to win a CREATE Community Award, it's an even greater reward to see kids becoming invested in their community through this initiative."
Now in its third year, Suwanee Youth Leaders (SYL) is an eight-month leadership program for high school sophomores and juniors who attend public, private, or home-based schools and live within three Gwinnett County Public School districts. The program centers on civic involvement, leadership skills, and volunteer opportunities. SYL develops young leaders through structured monthly educational programs and teambuilding activities. Participants gain genuine exposure to local initiatives and community and civic leaders, while helping the City engage with youth so that they have a strong voice and active role in planning the City's success. Meetings, led by local leaders, include engaging subjects such as leadership principles and practices, ethics in society, law and justice, and community involvement. The program culminates with hands-on service opportunities at Suwanee Fest, serving alongside adult volunteers from the community.
Thanks to SYL, says Brinson, "We now have a group of young people who have more knowledge of their community and how local government works and the work that goes into building community. The City wanted to develop a real connection with our schools and find a way to meaningfully encourage youth involvement as prescribed in our strategic plan – not just checking a box, but building sincere, authentic relationships."
The CREATE Community Awards honors local government and community leadership excellence and innovation in six categories. The category of Educational Excellence recognizes programs or processes that make education a priority in collaboration with city/county policies and practices and educational institutions to affect positive change and quality of life in the community. Suwanee previously won a CREATE Community Award in 2013 in the Arts & Culture category for the City's public arts initiative, as well as in 2009 in the Application and Innovation in Technology category for utilizing social media as a tool to engage citizens.
Congratulations to the Suwanee Youth Leaders Class of 2016:
- Samantha Allison
- Djenabou Barry
- Jordyn Blake
- Anett Castro
- Lea Cha
- Jun Chen
- Dana Chen
- Esther Choi
- Andrew Collins
- Kaitlyn Crumrine
- Shannon Davis
- Cortlin De Maine
- Ashley Duong
- Alyssa Featherston
- Reed Fernandez
- Medha Gaddamanugu
- Sara Hart
- Emily Hilscher
- Ryan Hoffman
- Ethan James
- Wesley James
- Enaara Jariwalla
- Rajan Jayasankar
- Sarah Jeon
- Ibaad Khan
- Myra Khushbakht
- Jayden Kim
- Sydney Kohne
- Jack Kronenberger
- Regina Kyei
- Adrienne Latham
- Amy Lee
- Madison Luney
- Jillian Manners
- Noah MacDonald
- Demarcus McFadden
- Xander McIntosh
- Natalie Merizalde
- Najib Muhammad
- Jeremiah Munvengango
- Jonny Park
- Binisha Patel
- Jenny Pham
- Dorothea Popa
- Mckenna Raker
- Kendall Robinson
- Lauren Seroyer
- Connor Shea
- Dongju Son
- Medha Suthar
- Palvee Taludker
- Hannah Taylor
- Oliver Thigpen
- Divine Uwagerikpe
- Sandeep Veludhandi
- Molly White
- Maya Wiley
- Eric Yan
- Asmarah Yaqoob
- Richard Yoo
March 22, 2016
City of Suwanee Full of Tree Huggers
Suwanee Recognized as One of Georgia's "Tree Cities" for 25th Consecutive Year
The City of Suwanee was among 25 Georgia communities designated as a "Tree City USA," recognizing the city for its commitment to caring for and managing their public trees during the 2016 State Arbor Day celebration at Trees Atlanta.
Tree City USA provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across the country. With the help of volunteers, the City planted elm and oak trees at the municipal court/Crossroads Center, which helped it meet the standards necessary to be a Tree City USA for its 25th consecutive year.
"Trees clean our air, filter our water, spur economic growth, and provide countless opportunities to enjoy recreation, contributing to a better quality of life," said Robert Farris, Director of the Georgia Forestry Commission. "The citizens of Suwanee can take pride in their community leaders' commitment to trees and forested land."
As part of its ongoing commitment to being a Tree City USA, the City of Suwanee will plant trees along the new Brushy Creek Trail on Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. Volunteers interested in assisting with the planting should contact City Planner Dan Robinson at email@example.com.
"While planting an oak or elm tree might sound arduous, we promise that helping to plant these trees really is not back-breaking work," said Robinson. "Just about anyone can do it, and it's a great way to give back to the environment and to make an impact on the community for many years to come."
March 21, 2016
Snap Suwanee Photo Contest Winners on Exhibit at City Hall
Suwanee, GA – From getting back to nature to experiencing public art; enjoying the fresh air at a festival to taking photos from high in the air (via drone), the 2016 Snap Suwanee submissions illustrate the Suwanee community in a unique and beautiful way.
Sponsored by Suwanee's Public Arts Commission, the annual Snap Suwanee competition provides a means for participants to share images that communicate something telling about the Suwanee community.
Over 70 entries were received for this year's annual community photo competition. The winning photographs will be on display until February 2017.
"Snap Suwanee is a fantastic opportunity to see the various aspects of our community through the eyes of our citizens and visitors," said Suwanee Public Information Officer Abby Wilkerson. "The photos submitted for this year's contest capture everything we love about Suwanee, including quite a few from unique perspectives that we've never seen before."
For the first time, a Judges' Choice Award was given, as well as a People's Choice Award, which was chosen via voting on the City of Suwanee's Facebook page.
The winning photos and photographers in the exhibit are:
- Art in the Park – Steve White
- Can I Have a Bite – Amanda Myers
- Foggy December Sunrise – Amanda Myers
- Ice Castle – Dick Goodman
- Jars of Flowers – Amanda Myers
- Let's Play – Amanda Myers
- JUDGES' CHOICE WINNER Rainy October Morning – Glen Sharpe
- Rock-n-Roll – Terri Lynn Bealle
- Sims Lake Bench – Tiffany Kelly
- PEOPLE'S CHOICE WINNER Snow Unicorn – Andea Smith
- Stairs – Tiffany Kelly
- The Drone – Anand Vyas
- Tower in the Sky – Joseph Ader
March 8, 2016
Suwanee Cocktail pARTy Celebrates Public Art Initiative
SUWANEE, GA – Swanky, well-dressed art lovers descended upon Suwanee City Hall Saturday night, March 5, 2016 to celebrate the arts in Suwanee. A black-and-white, black-tie optional event, 'Guess Who's Coming to Cocktails,' served as a fund- and awareness-raiser for the City's lauded public arts initiative.
Nearly 300 guests were welcomed to the event by a literal fiddler on the roof: violinist Daniel Butman played on the City Hall awning, to the delight of attendees as well as patrons of Town Center Park. Horse-drawn carriage rides around the park showed off several pieces of public art, both permanent and temporary as part of the 2015-2017 SculpTour program.
Upon entering City Hall, guests mingled with multiple artists, including Phil Proctor – creator of the popular goat herd at the corner of Buford Highway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road – former NFL player and sculptor George Nock, actor Zane Stephens, filmmakers Scott and Sharon Sowers and Bruce Downs, glass artist Hans Fräbel, authors Lee Martin and Harmon Snipes, and Aurora Theatre artistic director Anthony Rodriguez.
Pop-up performances were given by violinist Roland Huthmaker, ballerina Christina Leamon, performing artists Patty Etherton and Bernie Davis, and the Royal Dance Academy. The event also featured an Iron Chef-style cooking competition that included former "Hell's Kitchen" contestant Chef T Gregoire.
Guests could follow a painted path down the street to tour the North Gwinnett Arts Association's new gallery and enjoy desserts, music, and observe artists at work in their new space. The culmination of the evening was the unveiling of Suwanee's newest piece of art: a piece of the former infamous 'Success Lives Here' water tower. The LIVES portion of the tower is a 7-foot tall, 19-foot long piece of steel weighing just under 2,000 pounds.
"This was just such a great event, and we are so honored to have been a part of it," said Keith Nabb, Lead Educator at Affordable Medicare Solutions, a sponsor of the event. "One of the things that makes the City of Suwanee so unique is that it is a welcome center for creativity and diversity. Being a long-time resident of Suwanee has allowed me to witness that first hand. I'm thrilled to help support this initiative, as well as the great work that the North Gwinnett Arts Association is doing for our community. The past president of the NGAA is Vickie Johnson, a prominent art educator. Her decade-long vision has been achieved and her enthusiasm and leadership is a main inspiration for our involvement."
Suwanee created its Public Arts Commission in 2008 with the goal of encouraging developers to incorporate artwork into their projects. At the same time, the city began its own public arts programs, including commissioned pieces for city hall and city parks. Suwanee's first Public Art Master Plan, adopted by City Council in August 2015 meeting, calls not for placing public art everywhere, but rather for putting art where it matters most. The plan suggests that Suwanee focus its efforts on public art that is "engaging, fun, memorable, and distinctive;" helps strengthen community connections; and that, in many cases, is temporary.
"There are numerous events, art festivals, and talent here that need to be not only celebrated, but supported and preserved. Making the decision to become a patron of the public art initiative is going to do great things for our company's area and foundation. I am a raving fan and cannot wait to see what the next ten years hold," said Nabb.
March 1, 2016
City of Suwanee Benefits from Multiple Scout Projects
After eight months of planning, four work days, and countless hours of preparation, Girl Scout Troop 2440 has completed work at the Suwanee Harvest Farm, as well as the Sugar Hill community garden at Pirkle Park, towards a Bronze Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve.
The eleven Scouts – all fourth and fifth graders at Riverside and Walnut Grove Elementary – worked for the better part of the last year, focusing on rehabilitating Harvest Farm's butterfly garden. The troop also created and installed folk art of the United States flag for both parks, after noticing that Scouts frequently hold ceremonies in these areas and that there was currently no flag present.
"We trimmed back some trees that had started behaving like bushes!" said Girl Scout Maya White.
Visitors to Sims Lake Park may have noticed a new addition to the park in the form of a concrete ping pong table. Sixteen-year-old Boy Scout and Suwanee resident Andrew Winton recently completed the project to earn his Eagle Scout badge.
The actual construction of the table took approximately four days to complete, including the mixing of 78 bags of cement – at 80 pound apiece – that went into the creation of the table.
"A lot of my friends built benches for their projects. I was looking for a unique idea that I was interested in," said Winton. "Originally I was going to build checker tables out of wood, but I came across this idea on while researching the wooden checker tables."
February 26, 2016
Suwanee Police Attain Georgia Law Enforcement Re-Certification
The Suwanee Police Department is proud to announce that it has once again achieved State of Georgia Law Enforcement Certification. The State Certification Program, administered by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, establishes professional standards for which each certified agency must demonstrate compliance.
"Certification status represents a significant professional achievement and is confirmation that Suwanee Police practices are consistent with professional standards," said Suwanee Police Chief Mike Jones. "This certification should instill confidence in our citizens that the standards we hold our personnel to adhere to the highest standards for law enforcement in Georgia."
Experienced law enforcement professionals from outside agencies inspected the Suwanee Police facilities, examined policies and procedures, and auditing files built for each of the 129 certification standards to verify compliance.
"In order to meet certification standards, which cover a wide array of subject matter, the department analyzed in detail both internal and external operations," said Lieutenant Dan Clark, who serves as the certification/accreditation manager for the Suwanee Police. "Meeting the 129 standards enables the department to provide the highest professional service to community."
Chief Jones believed the state certification to be important, and began pursuing the distinction upon taking office in 1999; Suwanee received the endorsement for the first time on January 9, 2000. Certified agencies must file annual reports attesting to their continuing compliance and identify any instances of significant non-compliance, as well as go through a reassessment process every three years.
The Suwanee PD is also accredited by the national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
February 18, 2016
Tic Tac Toe No Mo
Suwanee, GA – A beloved public art installation in Suwanee Town Center has gone away – but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Hundreds of Suwanee citizens have sat, climbed, and had their photos taken on the infamous Tic Tac Toe City Bench, displayed directly in front of Suwanee City Hall. On any given day, the bench could be found covered in children, along with their iPhone-wielding parents, attempting to preserve the memories.
"The Tic Tac Toe City Bench was one of the entries in our SculpTour program," said Suwanee Assistant City Manager Denise Brinson. "Another sculpture by the artist, Love Hurts, stands in Town Center Park as part of the 2015-2017 SculpTour series."
Created by brothers Aaron and Zac Benson out of 180 2 x 4 wood building studs, the Tic Tac Toe City Bench stood proudly in front of City Hall for 11 months. Rather than fill up a dumpster with the used materials, the former art installation has found new life, helping give a worthy family a new home at the same time. Habitat for Humanity will be using the wood from the Tic Tac Toe City Bench in one of their next Gwinnett County home builds.
"Each time we have created a wooden sculpture, we have worked with Habitat for Humanity to repurpose the wood," said Betty Benson of Benson Sculpture. "A screw was placed in the ends of each board and attached to the one below to make the piece secure, and also more usable for Habitat for Humanity."
Benson Sculpture has created wood sculptures in Key West, Indianapolis, Washington, DC, and Sydney, Australia, among other locations. The sculptures are different in form and style and created for the public to interact with them.
Suwanee launched its public art initiative in 2008 with the creation of the Public Arts Commission, adopting a policy of encouraging developers to include public art in their projects and pledging the city to do the same. Since then, the city has commissioned and acquired numerous artworks for its City Hall and major parks, welcomed more than a half-dozen installations placed by developers on their properties, and organized several rounds of SculpTour: a walkable outdoor exhibit of more than 25 temporary and permanent art pieces displayed throughout downtown.
"Our Public Art Master Plan allows for a constant rotation of fresh, new pieces, specifically during our event season, allowing Town Center Park to be dynamic and ever-changing as well," said Brinson. "The Tic Tac Toe City Bench was designed to be one of these temporary installations."
February 10, 2016
Guess Who's Coming to Suwanee?
Reserve your tickets now for the Suwanee social event of 2016: Guess Who's Coming to Cocktails, hosted at Town Center March 5 from 6:30 – 10:00 PM. Join the swankiest, hippest, and best dressed of Suwanee at this black-and-white, black-tie optional event in support of the Suwanee public art initiative.
"Public art has become such a part of the fabric of our community," says Public Arts Commission member Cherie Heringer. "We wanted to create an annual event to celebrate the arts and to encourage residents to continue to support public art, not just financially but through involvement as well."
Party-goers can look forward to cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, music, and dancing, plus an opportunity to brush elbows with mystery guests, including prominent artists, actors, chefs, musicians, and athletes.
The City of Suwanee launched its public art initiative in 2008 with the creation of the Public Arts Commission, adopting a policy of encouraging developers to include public art in their projects and pledging the city to do the same. Since then, the city has commissioned and acquired numerous artworks for its City Hall and major parks, welcomed more than a half-dozen artworks placed by developers on their properties, and organized several rounds of SculpTour: a walkable outdoor exhibit of more than 25 temporary and permanent art pieces displayed throughout downtown.
"This event," says Heringer, "will give people an opportunity to get dressed up, enjoy an evening out, and meet some new, interesting people who are on board for a fun cause."
Tickets for this event can be purchased prior to February 26 at SuwaneeGuessWhosComing.com.
February 9, 2016
CALLING ALL FARMERS AND FOOD TRUCKS!
SUWANEE, Ga. – Warm days, fresh produce, and eating al fresco will return to Suwanee before you know it! The famed Suwanee Farmers Market and Food Truck Fridays return to Town Center this spring.
The Farmers Market – open from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May through the first week in October, at Town Center Park – is in search of farmers, herb and flower growers, butchers, bakers, jams and soap makers, and others to participate in its 12th season.
"The Suwanee Farmers Market has a loyal customer and farmer base," notes Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Our market is almost as much a social event as it is an opportunity to access locally grown produce and a variety of other items, such as salsa, honey, eggs and meat, and baked goods."
Vendors are required to attend the annual Farmers Market meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 21, at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. For more information and an application, visit www.suwanee.com.
Food Truck Fridays return in April, May, June, August, and September, with each month will bringing great food and music from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm (music begins at 7:00 pm). Enjoy an evening of dining on the grass in Town Center Park, enjoying good food, good company, and good tunes. Interested food truck vendors can apply to be part of these annual events by returning the application found at www.suwanee.com.
For more information on the Suwanee Farmers Market or Food Truck Fridays, contact Event Manager Amy Doherty at 770-904-3387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 8, 2016
SUWANEE FESTIVALS TAKE TOP HONORS
Suwanee's Big Cheesy and Suwanee Fest Win 2016 Kaleidoscope Awards
SUWANEE, Ga. – The City of Suwanee's brand new event, Big Cheesy, and one of its oldest events, Suwanee Fest, each took home prestigious Kaleidoscope Awards from the Southeast Festivals and Events Association's Annual Conference in Charleston, SC on January 26. Top festivals and events throughout the southeast were recognized for their outstanding contribution to the events industry.
Suwanee's Big Cheesy took home the top prize in the 'Best New Event Category,' as well as a bronze award for 'Best T-Shirt.' The Suwanee Fest Volunteer Planning Committee won the silver award for 'Best Volunteer,' and the festival won a bronze award for 'Best Children's Program.'
"The quality of submissions continues to increase each year, making it more difficult for the judges to select the winners," noted Brenda Pierce, executive director of the Southeast Festivals and Events Association. "Of course, to 'win gold,' becomes all the sweeter when there is additional competition, and the recognition a festival receives for winning is priceless."
The Southeast Festivals & Events Association is a membership based organization comprised of festival and event planners, venues, and industry service providers. A panel of experts in event planning, marketing and tourism spent an entire day reviewing the entries from five states. The judges looked for originality, creativity, media impact, volunteer programs, and the overall impact to the community.
"We always enjoy putting on some of the best events in the southeast here in Suwanee. After winning the best festival last year for Suwanee Fest, we knew Suwanee's Big Cheesy Festival had what it takes to be the best new event," said Suwanee Events Coordinator Amy Doherty. "I'm so proud of our staff and volunteers for continuing to make our events award-winning."
February 4, 2016
SUWANEE SEEKS ARTISTS TO HELP PUT 'ART ON A LIMB'
Are you an artist willing to go out on a limb – literally – for your art?
The City of 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 2016 Art on a Limb program is February 29. 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.
"My husband and I were walking our dogs one morning at Sims Lake and came upon a piece of art that was designed by Tina Walke. A heart ornament that simply states, "Suwanee <3 Smile More," said resident Alison Lakebrink. "We have lived in the area since 1998 and have watched the city of Suwanee grow into something so wonderful for the community and the arts."