What's New

'Take It to the Limit' at spring concert

The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band On the Border will put the exclamation point on Suwanee's Super Incredible Day Saturday, April 19, when they take the Town Center stage as Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and other members of one of the 1970s' biggest rock bands. On the Border reproduces the Eagles' song catalog with stunning guitar work and spot-on vocals.

The free concert will begin at 7 p.m., shortly after the conclusion of Suwanee's Super Incredible Race, a team-based challenge that begins at Town Center Park at 3 p.m. (The deadline for required pre-registration for the race has passed.)

Come enjoy the best of the Eagles, including "Life in the Fast Lane," "Heartache Tonight," and "Take It Easy," to name just a few. Bring blankets, chairs, friends, and neighbors, but no alcohol may be brought into the park. Food and beverages, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase from concert vendors as well as Town Center merchants.

Fresh and local

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

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

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

Suwanee Day x 2 = Suwanee Fest!

After 30 years, Suwanee's annual celebration of community is becoming a two-day festival. Suwanee Day is being rebranded as Suwanee Fest and will be celebrated Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21, at Town Center Park.

"For many years, we prided ourselves on the fact that Suwanee Day was one of the best and most well-attended one-day festivals around," says Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Our popularity has caught up with us, and now we look forward to making Suwanee Fest even bigger, and especially better."

Applications for Suwanee Fest are now being accepted from fine arts and arts and crafts exhibitors, who will be selected through a jury process, as well as food vendors and entertainment acts. The deadline is June 1.

S&P upgrades City to highest rating

Town Center Park, circa August 2003

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

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

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

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

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

Be part of Peace, Love & Arts in the Park

Arts in the Park will return to Town Center Park for the fourth year on Saturday, May 17, with a retro theme of Peace, Love & Arts in the Park. Presented by the North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) and sponsored by Nalley Automotive, Arts in the Park celebrates art in all its wonderful forms.

Artists who wish to exhibit – and perhaps demonstrate – their work at the juried May 17 festival are invited to apply for booth space at suwaneeartsinthepark.com.  Artwork to be exhibited will include jewelry, painting, pottery, woodworking, glass, photography, iron, multimedia, and more. Applications are due April 30; the application fee is $75. Cash prizes will be awarded to best of show exhibitors in a variety of categories.

"I love all the creativity in the air," says NGAA President Vickie Johnson of the annual festival. "It's exciting for me to see how young people really get into this. There's just such an energy. It's really an extension of Suwanee's play, live, and smile. It's the creative side of Suwanee."

'Retrieval' to close 2013-14 indie film series

The final film in Suwanee's 2013-14 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is enjoying some buzz regionally as it has been commercially released. The Retrieval, a Civil War-era coming-of-age story, will be shown in Suwanee Tuesday, April 8, at Movie Tavern.

The film follows a fatherless 13-year-old boy who is sent north by his bounty-hunter gang to trick a wanted freedman into coming back to the South. During their journey toward the unwitting man's reckoning, the initially distant pair develops unexpected bonds. The boy is consumed by conflicting emotions and a gut-wrenching decision: Betray the father-figure he's finally found or risk being killed by his gang for insubordination. 

In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the film is described by filmmaker Chris Eska as "part Western and part family drama."

Eska studied sociology and art at Rice University before earning his master of fine arts degree in film directing from UCLA. His first feature film, August Evening, won the $50,000 Target Filmmaker Award as well as the 2008 Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award.

Tickets are $6 and available at the theater or online at movietavern.com.  Attendees will have an opportunity to interact and ask questions of the filmmaker.

2014 Snap Suwanee winners

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

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

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

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

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

'Perfect Strangers'

It's fitting that in March, which is National Kidney month, the next film in Suwanee's Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers features a kidney donor and recipient. Perfect Strangers, which explores what motivates donors to act with such compassion, will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at the Suwanee Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

The $6 admission ticket also allows filmgoers to meet and interact with the filmmaker.

Perfect Strangers tells the story of two unique, engaging characters: Ellie is determined to give away one of her kidneys. Kathy, who lives 500 miles away, endures nightly dialysis and is losing hope of receiving a transplant. Both women face unexpected challenges as their parallel stories twist and turn over the course of four years.

Filmmaker Jan Krawitz has independently produced documentary films for 35 years, exhibiting at film festivals and museums throughout the United States and abroad. She is director of the graduate program in documentary film and video in the department of art and art history at Stanford University.

Tickets are available at the theater or movietavern.com.

Film tour returns with a look at civil disobedience

Suwanee's 2013-14 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers returns over the next couple of months with three new screenings. Civil disobedience, the altruism behind voluntary organ donation, and a gut-wrenching decision are topics covered in the upcoming films, each of which will be screened at 7 p.m. on scheduled dates at Movie Tavern. The $6 ticket includes an opportunity to meet and interact with filmmakers.

Bidder 70, a film that looks at Tim DeChristopher's act of civil disobedience, will kick off the 2014 screenings on Monday, February 24. In 2008, DeChristopher, then a college student, bid $1.8 million for 22,000 acres surrounding Utah's national parks through a government oil and gas lease auction. In protest of plans to drill on the land, DeChristopher had no intention of covering his bid.

Bidder 70 filmmakers George and Beth Gage create compelling, personal films that empower viewers, initiate dialogue, and prompt action on provocative issues. Their films have won dozens of awards at national and international film festivals.

The two remaining films to be shown this spring are Perfect Strangers on March 18 and The Retrieval on April 8.

Races, concerts & festivals, oh my!

The City of Suwanee 2014 event calendar boasts more than 40 events and offers something for just about everyone.

  • Like to walk or run? Private organizations are offering more than a dozen walk/run events, including races as well as community walk/run evenings sponsored by Big Peach.

  • Like to gather with your friends? The 2014 calendar includes several popular festivals: Suwanee Beer Fest, the Braves Game on the Green, Star 94's Woofstock, and the North Gwinnett Arts Association's Arts in the Park, to name a few.

  • Like to eat? The very popular Food Truck Fridays have been extended. Come enjoy food truck fare the first Friday of the month from April through October (with the exception of July). A wing festival has been added as a component to the annual community concert in August.

Probably the most significant change to the event calendar is the expansion of Suwanee Day to a two-day festival. The fall community festival has been rebranded as Suwanee Fest and will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21. Click here to see the full event listing.

Season of 'fresh' returning soon

The season of fresh crops and locally produced honey, jams, salsas, baked goods, and more is nearing. And one of the best places to access all that good stuff is the Suwanee Farmers Market, which will return to Town Center on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings beginning in May.

Applications from those interested in selling their produce or other products at the market are now being accepted. The deadline for applications is Monday, March 24, and new vendors must attend the annual market meeting at 7 p.m. that evening at City Hall.

In addition to produce, herbs, and flowers, other items that may be sold at the market include jams, jellies, cakes, cookies, breads, pies, and honey as well as appropriately licensed meat, dairy, and organic products; eggs; and plants. No re-selling is permitted; products sold at the Suwanee Farmers Market must be grown or made by the vendor. Arts and crafts are not permitted at the market. See more detailed guidelines.

The 2014 Suwanee Farmers Market opens Saturday, May 3. Saturday markets are from 8 a.m.-noon through October 4. Tuesday markets are from 4-7 p.m. through August 5.

Super. Incredible. Fun!

On your mark, get ready, get set for some super incredible fun! The City of Suwanee will rev up the event season on Saturday, April 19, with its Super Incredible Day. The really, really fun day will begin at 3 p.m. with Suwanee's Super Incredible Race, a high-energy, clue-sleuthing team race featuring mental and physical challenges. Think Amazing Race meets small-town America.

Following the race, the City will host an incredibly fun spring concert at 7 p.m. with Eagles tribute band On the Border headlining. The concert is free and open to the public.

The Super Incredible Race tasks team members with solving about a dozen clues that require them to race to locations throughout downtown Suwanee where they will complete a variety of challenges.

"It's a great way to exercise your mind and body while discovering places you never knew existed right in your own backyard," wrote two-time participant Donna Whalen in an email to the City after last year's race.

Here's how to get in on the fun! Pre-registration is required by April 4.

Going paperless Suwanee's paperless municipal court is part of what makes Suwanee a Green Community.

Certifiably green

Green is a really good color for the City of Suwanee. So says the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), which recertified Suwanee in January as a Green Community. Suwanee first earned certification as a Green Community in 2009.

In order to be certified by the ARC as a Green Community, the City had to earn a certain level of points for environmentally friendly policies and practices. Suwanee was certified at a bronze level.

"We view ourselves as a leader in smart growth in metro Atlanta," says Senior Planner Daniel Robinson. "We put a lot of value in open space and parks. The ARC green certification fits with our efforts to be environmentally conscious and friendly."

Suwanee earned green points through several large initiatives, including obtaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for City Hall, reducing paper usage annually by some 30,000 sheets by transitioning to a paperless court and City Council, and saving nearly 50,000 miles over two years by fueling City vehicles at a local retailer rather than at a county facility in Buford.  Additional points were scored, Robinson notes, by having sidewalks and bike paths along many streets, recycling at City Hall, and installing bike racks at all City facilities.

Historic district now part of National Register

Photo by Cindy Cooksey

Approximately 40 properties within a 56-acre area of Suwanee's historic Old Town district have now been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service approved the designation on December 24.

Suwanee's historic district is centered on Main Street, Stonecypher Road, Russell Street, and the railroad corridor. Contributing properties within the district will now be eligible for federal and state tax incentives for improvements that help preserve the property's historic value.

"This is undoubtedly a win for Suwanee," says City Councilmember Beth Hilscher, who is also a member of Suwanee's Downtown Development Authority, which nominated the area for inclusion in the National Register. "The registry designation is a step toward honoring Suwanee's heritage while providing tax incentives for those property owners willing to invest in the preservation of our historic properties.  While I am personally looking forward to seeing the progress that will come about from renovations to Pierce's Corner, the district designation is great for other eligible property owners who may be able to avail themselves of the tax incentives."

According to a press release from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources: "National Register listing encourages preservation of historic properties through public awareness, federal and state tax incentives, and grants. Listing in the National Register does not place obligations or restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property."

Get a glimpse behind the badge
through Citizens Police Academy

Did you promise yourself to try something new, something different in 2014? Here's a great opportunity to do just that. The next session of Suwanee's Citizens Police Academy begins February 18. The once-weekly classes, often hands-on or scenario-based, will conclude April 15.

Through the Citizens Police Academy, participants gain a better understanding of police practices as well as the risks and responsibilities that officers face on a daily basis. Classes generally will be held from 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday evenings at the Police Training Center at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

Notarized applications are due Wednesday, February 12. Applicants must be at least 19 years old; those who live or work in the City of Suwanee receive priority placement.

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

The Suwanee Police Department hosts the academy at least once each year in order to build a productive partnership between officers and residents. The class beginning in February will be the 25th offered since the program was begun in 2002.

Put your art on a limb

These are 2013 Art on a Limb pieces created by Judy Isaak. The City of Suwanee is seeking proposals for 2014.

The City of Suwanee is seeking proposals and samples from artists willing to go out on a limb to commemorate the 10th year of the City's finders-keepers art-in-nature program.  Since 2005 through its Art on a Limb program, the City of Suwanee has hidden two pieces of original artwork daily throughout the month of May along the Suwanee Creek Greenway and at other parks.

Artistic proposals for this year's program will be accepted through February 24. Click here for guidelines and an application.

Art on a Limb is an award-winning, month-long program designed to celebrate and bring attention to the arts as well as the natural beauty of the Suwanee Creek Greenway and parks. Past Art on a Limb pieces have included clay birds and 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.

Disc golf course coming to Suwanee Creek Park

What will feature 18 holes that dog-leg left and right through a largely wooded course and have pars that range from 3-5 yet won't require golf clubs or balls "fore" fun? It's Suwanee's newest park enhancement: a disc golf course currently under construction at Suwanee Creek Park.

The Suwanee course, expected to open in the spring, will be the fourth disc course in Gwinnett County and the first to be installed by a city.

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

Suwanee's moderate-level course will begin and end near the Buckeye Pavilion at the top of the Suwanee Creek trailhead and will meander largely along the soft surface trail.

"Our course will be very wooded," says Roth. "Trees and other objects will be used to make it challenging. We're working around the natural environment as much as possible."

Linnea Miller joins City Council

When the calendar turns to 2014, Linnea Miller – wife, mother, preschool teacher, and community volunteer – will take on a new role: She will become the City of Suwanee's newest Councilmember.

Miller was the only candidate to qualify in August for the Post 3 City Council position. The Post 3 position has been filled since 2007 by Kevin McOmber, who opted not to run for re-election.

"I've always believed in giving back to the community," says Miller, "and have served where I'm planted. As a result, I've been involved in volunteer work in my children's school, our church, our neighborhood, and the community at large."

Most recently, Miller served as chair of the City's Public Arts Commission. She's also volunteered with Arts in the Park and Suwanee Day.

Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Miller and her husband of 19 years, Eric, moved to Suwanee 15 years ago. The Miller family includes four children ages 8-17, who currently are enrolled in Roberts Elementary, North Gwinnett Middle, and North Gwinnett High schools.