Downtown Duluth’s Gwinnett County Library Now Open!

The Gwinnett County Library branch located on Main Street in Downtown Duluth is set to open on Wednesday, May 26!
Elected officials and city staff had the opportunity to tour the library today after the ribbon cutting. You are all in for a treat!
This library is not only equipped with a lifetime worth of books but also private rooms for classes and workshops, a green screen setup, learning labs, tech stations and so much fun seating.
Check out the photos below for a sneak peek at the new facility and then check it out for yourself when they open to the public!

Korean American Outreach Program

Judge Barrett and Judge Lee of the City of Duluth Municipal Court will be hosting a Korean American Outreach Program on May 19 from 6:00-8:30pm at the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta. This event is presented to enable our Korean neighbors to gain a better understanding of the various courts in Gwinnett County with which they may interact.

Judges from across Gwinnett County have been invited to participate. Guests can expect short presentations from judges representing all classes of court. This will include what types of cases the court hears, overview of special programs offered to the community and general court information. Following the presentation, the judges will take questions from the community.

There will be a Korean-language interpreter present and the event will be televised by Korean-language television.

Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta

5900 Brook Hollow Parkway, Norcross, GA 30071

 

For questions regarding this event, please email pio@duluthga.net.

Duluth & Johns Creek Officials Break Ground at Rogers Bridge Park on New Pedestrian Bridge

The City of Duluth, in partnership with the City of Johns Creek, Gwinnett County and Fulton County broke ground on the pedestrian bridge at Rogers Bridge Park this morning. Representatives from all sides were present and participated in the ceremony.

Pictured left to right: Gwinnett County District 1 Commissioner Kirkland Carden, Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris, Gwinnett County Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson, Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker and Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann

This is a partnership 15 years in the making! In 2006, Gwinnett County commissioned a study of Rogers Bridge to determine its structural integrity. The goal was to repurpose the bridge for pedestrians and in doing so, reconnect the communities on each side of the Chattahoochee River. In 2014, the City of Duluth took over the project and confirmed the study results. Duluth then applied for a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission in order to develop construction plans for the bridge. The grant provided $560,000 to the City and required a local match in the amount of $140,000. As the project is of regional significance, Duluth teamed up with the City of Johns Creek and Fulton and Gwinnett Counties to come up with the $140,000 match. Evenly split, each local partner contributed $35,000 toward what is referred to as the “preconstruction” effort, which culminated in the development of construction plans.

At the time the plans were in their initial stages of development, it was not yet known if the bridge would be rehabilitated or replaced. Along the preconstruction journey, it was determined that the existing bridge was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places due to its unique construction method. The existing bridge is a 228’ long pin-connected Pennsylvania Petit truss. As such, the design team carefully documented the bridge’s history as well as its current condition. Ultimately, the Department of Natural Resources agreed the bridge could not be salvaged as is and approved its replacement. Concurrently, the preconstruction team reached out to citizens and stakeholders through various meetings and public open houses held in multiple locations (in multiple languages) to gain feedback as to what the ultimate users of the facility would want. Participants voted on their favored selection of bridge type and it was ultimately determined that a replica truss would best suit the needs of the end users. Both Councils and both Commissions concurred and the design team moved forward with developing construction plans for the replica truss.

The preconstruction process took about 4 years to complete and followed strict state and federal guidelines. Once again, the City reached out to the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Department of Transportation to assist with funding of the construction. And again, the four local partners came together, this time to participate with $350,000 each for a local match of $1,400,000. GDOT covered approximately $700,000. And ARC covered the remaining approximate $5,100,000. We anticipate the construction to take 18 months and be completed in the summer of 2022, at which time we will celebrate the partnerships we’ve built as well as the new structure itself.

The preconstruction team included Duluth, Johns Creek, Fulton County and Gwinnett County as financial match partners along with the Atlanta Regional Commission, Federal Highway Administration, National Parks Services, Georgia DOT and the Environmental Protection Division’s Department of Natural Resources as additional governmental partners. In addition, Parks Departments from both Cities, Historical Societies from both Cities and local bike/pedestrian advocates participated on our stakeholder team. The design was led by Development Planning & Engineering with structural design support from CHA and environmental documentation and process support by Edwards-Pitman Environmental, Inc. While Duluth managed the project and the process during preconstruction and will continue to do so through construction, all major decisions were vetted by the stakeholder group and approved by the financial partners. The construction team is led by Astra Group with KCI Technologies representing the City’s interests as the construction administrator on site.

The City of Duluth is looking forward to a successful project and a beautiful bridge connecting us to our neighbors across the Chattahoochee River.

Council Member Kelkenberg Received Leadership & Service Award

City of Duluth Council Member Kelvin J. Kelkenberg was awarded the Leadership & Service Award from the Gwinnett Municipal Association (GwMA) at the City’s last Council Meeting. Kelkenberg was well deserving of this recognition for his service as 2020 President of the GwMA Board.

GwMA is a 501-c3 nonprofit organization lead by Managing Director, Randy Meacham. This association was created by the cities of Gwinnett to help foster better cooperation within the county, improve the understanding of the complex issues that cities face and to provide for maximum efficiency and economy of taxpayer dollars. Traditionally, the GwMA board meets monthly at varying locations within Gwinnett County. 2020 looked a bit different with regular meeting being moved to a virtual forum.

Kelkenberg was uniquely qualified to act as President of GwMA during 2020’s ongoing battle with the COVID-19 pandemic through his 20 years of experience working in emergency management with FEMA. Together with Meacham, Kelkenberg hosted weekly meetings with the 16 GwMA cities to create a unified message and plan of action.

 

Randy Meacham & Council Member Kelvin J. Kelkenberg pose with the Leadership & Service Award.

 

“Leading this organization during a pandemic may look like a heavy lift from the outside but it was the right thing to do. I appreciate the challenge of emergency management and was proud to utilize my years of training to guide the City of Duluth and other Gwinnett County cities during this time,” said Kelvin J. Kelkenberg.

Through his connections, Kelkenberg was able to arrange for Dr. Audrey Arona, District Health Director for Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments and Greg Swanson, Emergency Management Director of Gwinnett County to be a part of these weekly calls. Their combined efforts enabled Gwinnett County cities to launch a campaign to encourage mask wearing, practice social distancing and celebrate our first responders.

GwMA and representatives from the 16 Gwinnett Cities are still holding regular weekly meetings with Dr. Arona and plan to continue doing so until all willing citizens receive a vaccine and we have achieved herd immunity.

Duluth’s Events Coordinator, Kristin Edwards, Awarded Director of the Year by SFEA

The Southeast Festivals and Events Association (SFEA) recognized Duluth’s Events Coordinator, Kristin Edwards, as Director of the Year for her efforts in providing Duluth with a fun, creative outlet, even during these challenging times.

Kristin Edwards has been coordinating events for the City since March of 2019. As you all know, most events in 2020 were cancelled with community health and safety coming forward as a top priority. By April of each year, the events coordinator typically has most of the events planned for the remainder of the season; so you can imagine how much work Kristin put into the events that never got to come to fruition. By late spring, discussions between the Events & Marketing Department, City Manager’s Office and the City Council led to the cancelling of all remaining scheduled events through the end of July.

Although she was disappointed, this tough but necessary decision did not stop Kristin from continuing to plan virtual and socially distanced events to bring entertainment to the community. During lockdown, a few virtual events were hosted. This included a TikTok Challenge and a Duluth Shines talent competition. Once lockdown was lifted, she really sprang into action. Her top priority was to stay on top of the current executive order given by Governor Kemp to ensure that we were following all restrictions and taking the proper precautions.

The first step back into normalcy was weekly Duluth Live “events”. These events consisted of music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the Town Green main stage and in Parsons Alley. These live musical performances were not meant to draw a crowd but rather enhance the ambiance for those that were utilizing the outdoor dining space. Other socially distanced activities were creatively themed photo-ops, Seek Duluth scavenger hunts, and a drive-in theater. The season ended with the annual Deck the Hall event which featured unique social distancing activities including photos with Santa inside a snow globe, free caricatures and tree lighting.

The award was accepted virtually at the annual SFEA Conference on February 24, 2021. The SFEA Kaleidoscope Awards, which recognizes the marketing, programming and overall event, acknowledges the highest level of achievement in the festival and event industry throughout the southeast United States.

The mission of SFEA is to strengthen, educate and unify the festivals and events industry throughout the Southeast. Comprised of festival and event planners, venues, and industry service providers, SFEA was founded to strengthen the festival and event industry throughout the southeast United States by hosting educational sessions, networking opportunities, award recognition, and additional events throughout the year; thus allowing for continued professional growth within the festivals and events industry.

For more information about upcoming events visit www.duluthga.net/events, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cityofduluth or contact our Events Coordinator, Kristin Edwards at events@duluthga.net.

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Southeastern Railway Museum Launches Fast Track to the Future Campaign

The Southeastern Railway Museum (SRM) announced the Fast Track to the Future campaign to underwrite a new five-year initiative to expand and enhance the Museum.

Over the next five years, through the Fast Track to the Future program, SRM will:

  • Enhance the Educational Experience – SRM will develop a classroom at the Museum to host elementary, middle school, and high school classes visiting SRM to study transportation.
  • Improve and Expand Museum Exhibits – SRM will redevelop and revitalize the Museum’s collection of historic railway locomotives and cars to enhance the visitors’ experience.
  • Modernize the Museum for Growth – SRM will develop a new Master Site Plan to better portray the impact of transportation on our country; make the Museum grounds more visitor-friendly while improving safety and security.
  • Expand Professional Staff – SRM will recruit a full-time professional Executive Director to implement the dynamic Fast Track to the Future program.

The Southeastern Railway Museum Board of Trustees launched the Fast Track to the Future campaign in October following months of strategic planning as well as a comprehensive feasibility analysis. John Pollock, an SRM board member, is excited with the area’s early response to the project:

 

Pollock says: “This is an exciting time for the Southeastern Railway Museum. Fast Track to the Future is a dynamic program that will meet the current and future needs of the Museum and the thousands of visitors they serve.” Pollock added, “SRM and all of our volunteers have done an outstanding job over the last 35 years. Now, this new five-year program will take this Museum to the next level. The Fast Track initiative will enable us to do so much more in a better way.”

Joining John Pollock and the SRM Board in supporting the initiative is Lisa Anders, Executive Director of Explore Gwinnett, the county’s tourism agency. Anders says: “Now is the right time for us to focus our attention on this important education treasure. The Southeastern Railway Museum has been a “well-kept secret” in our community for years. I’m impressed with how much SRM has accomplished over the last twenty years at this location through hard work and determination. This new initiative will help us strengthen and enhance SRM’s current programs and enable the Museum to implement new programs that will make it a stronger more vibrant tourist destination. Ultimately, the Fast Track to the Future program will significantly impact not only the lives of all who visit the Museum…but it will impact the lives of all who live and work in our area.”

Pollock added, “The Fast Track to the Future campaign is off to a great start. We focused our early efforts on organizing the campaign, enlisting leadership, and soliciting pledges from our SRM staff, Board of Trustees, and volunteers. We have already raised 20% of our goal in the process! Excitement is building for this important initiative as we enter 2021!”

The Fast Track to the Future campaign has established a five-year goal of $1 Million to be raised from corporate and community leaders in the Gwinnett County / North Metro Atlanta region. The Southeastern Railway Museum is located at 3595 Buford Highway, one mile south of the Duluth city center. For further information or to get involved in the campaign, please contact Steve Dorough in the Fast Track to the Future campaign office (678-906-4081) or at sdorough@fcdusda.com.

NYE in Duluth

New Year’s Eve will look a bit different this year but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a great experience while also supporting our local businesses! Check out the Duluth restaurants and entertainment venues that are offering a socially distanced NYE experience this year.

Reserve your seat for Brotherhood at the EOP Presents at the Red Clay Music Foundry here or tune into the live stream here.

Reserve your table at Good Word Brewing by sending an email to events@goodwordbrewing.com.

Reserve your table or curbside to-go order at Kurt’s Euro Bistro here.

Reserve your table at Noona Meat & Seafood here.

 

We wish you a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve!

 

Holiday Lights in Downtown Duluth

Are you always on the lookout for the next best instagrammable backdrop? Well, we’ve got news for you! Downtown Duluth is THE metro Atlanta destination for all your festive selfies and holiday portraits this December!

Duluth City Hall & Town Green; Dustin Grau Photography

This year’s installation lineup includes:

  • Light tunnel in front of City Hall on Town Green
  • 22ft decorated tree on Town Green in front of the Festival Center
  • Giant blue light-up ornament on Town Green near Truck & Tap
  • Giant red light-up ornament at the top of Town Green near Sweet Octopus
  • Santa’s sleigh with moving reindeer in Parsons Alley
  • 14” decorated tree in Parsons Alley
  • Light tunnel between Good Word and Nacho Daddy in Parsons Alley
  • Red & green lights on City Hall
Parsons Alley; Dustin Grau Photography

Bonus! Most installations can be seen from the comfort of your vehicle if you don’t want to brave the chilly weather.

 

“We are always looking for new opportunities to create interactive enhancements to our Downtown. We love to see our community utilizing these installations, so don’t forget to tag us in your social media posts!” said Senior Marketing Coordinator Talore Ruedt.

 

Facebook: @CityofDuluth

Instagram: @City_of_Duluth

Twitter: @CityofDuluthGA

Hashtags: #DiscoverDowntownDuluth #DuluthGA #DecktheHall #RockinAroundDuluth

Giant Red Ornament on Town Green

Most of these displays will be up through the New Year, weather dependent.

Another new enhancement that will be around all year is outdoor public seating on the Town Green, Parsons Alley, and Main Street. Surface and hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the Downtown.

The City encourages all visitors to practice social distancing and wear a mask when in a public space.

Deck the Hall

Help us Deck the Hall as we kick off the holiday season on Saturday, December 5! Enjoy free professional photos outside of Santa’s snow globe from 1-5pm and live entertainment, festive decorations, and free holiday caricatures from 1-6pm. All on Duluth Town Green!

A few snack/food vendors will be available throughout the event.

Photos with Santa taken by our photographer will be available for free download on the City’s Facebook page the week after the event. To keep Santa & the elves safe, he will be social distancing inside of his snow globe at the event. Letters can be dropped in our North Pole mailbox before posing for a picture outside of Santa’s snow globe!

Please plan to wear a mask and social distance as you wait in line for your professional picture with Santa. Masks may be removed while posing for your photo. Images will be available for free download the week after the event.

Due to COVID-19, this event will look different than it has in previous years. We look forward to providing you with festive activities that allow guests of all ages to practice social distancing and remain safe during the pandemic.

For additional event information, please visit: www.duluthga.net/events

Thank you to our event sponsors: Sugarloaf Grove, Highlands at Sweetwater Creek, and Mercedes Benz of Atlanta Northeast!