Peachtree Corners is fortunate to have amazing outdoor amenities we can all enjoy, such as the Chattahoochee River, federal and county parks, streams and a thick tree canopy. Everyone who enjoys being outside takes advantage of those areas of our community. The City intends to create even more of an advantage for our citizens by connecting these wonderful features together with its multi-use trail system, the Corners Connector.
The Corners Connector Trail System will one day consist of over 11 miles of trails that crisscross the city and provide connections to a variety of places people live, work and play. But to be successful, the trail system will need two essential elements: good locations and available funding. Here is an update on where we are on the Corners Connector Trail System.
Over the last six years, a number of location and feasibility studies have been completed that serve as the foundation of planning for the ultimate build-out of this trail. The Peachtree Corners Livable Centers Initiative, finished in February 2015 and funded by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), was one of the first projects that identified this ultimate trail system.
That project was followed later by studies for the Winters Chapel Road and Holcomb Bridge Road corridors. Later, the Comprehensive Transportation Plan, Innovation Hub Master Plan and the Innovative District Trails Study reinforced and further developed the idea of a master trail system in Peachtree Corners. Most recently, the ARC funded a study of feasibility on a specific segment and location of the Corners Connector along Crooked Creek from Spalding Drive east to Peachtree Parkway.
The Corners Connector Crooked Creek project is a long-range plan that will ultimately provide nearly three miles of trail at a cost of approximately $13 million. This project involves environmental permitting and procurement of easements, so the timeline is fairly lengthy.
In the shorter term, the City is pursuing federal funding for a segment of the trail from Peachtree Corners Circle to Peachtree Parkway, which is approximately 7,400 feet in length. The hope is to obtain funding for planning, engineering and construction of this segment as a first phase of the ultimate project that extends all the way to Spalding Drive.
The ultimate buildout of the Corners Connector is an exciting goal over the coming years, but some segments of the Connector have already been completed. Corners Connector Tech Park Lake was completed in 2020 and includes over 1,600 feet of trail around the lake adjacent to Technology Parkway and Technology Parkway South. This segment connects to over 4,300 feet of the Connector along Technology Parkway and Engineering Drive. Phase II of the Corners Connector around the lake is under planning and development now, and it will complete the circuit around the lake with an additional 2,600 feet of trail and provide an even greater amenity to those residents who live nearby and the office workers who enjoy direct access.
Corners Connector Town Center is under construction now. This project is directly adjacent to the recently completed pedestrian bridge over Peachtree Parkway and the Lazy Dog Restaurant. This trail will connect those areas to the eastern most portions of the Town Center and Town Green, along with connections to Peachtree Corners Circle and the development to the south of the stream. Stream connections and a boardwalk along the stream’s banks are included, along with a skywalk segment that will provide a bird’s eye view of the stream below. It will add 2,400 feet to the Corners Connector system, and with its connection to Peachtree Corners Circle, the system will then have a connection along Medlock Bridge Road and South Old Peachtree Road to existing multi-use trails in Duluth.
Corners Connector Engineering Trail is another segment under development. This portion of the system is proposed to connect Engineering Drive south to Woodhill Drive for approximately 4,900 feet of additional trail. An existing segment of the Corners Connector currently ends at Engineering Drive and Peachtree Parkway in front of the Corners Fine Wine & Spirits and RaceTrac, and this project will extend that trail infrastructure south to the Chick-fil-A area and its adjacent shopping centers.
The City is also in the planning and engineering phase of a segment of the Corners Connector along East Jones Bridge Road. This segment will connect Jones Bridge Park east to the existing multi-use trail along Peachtree Parkway. There is a narrow sidewalk along the shoulder of the road that will be enhanced to a 12’-14’ wide path to provide accommodations for more pedestrians and cyclists.
This project is part of the Chattahoochee Riverland, which includes a trail system that connects Newnan to the Buford Dam along the Chattahoochee River corridor (chattahoocheeriverlands.com). Our portion of the project along East Jones Bridge Road will be just over 9,200 feet long. We are excited to have a portion of such a large-scale project that will connect a number of jurisdictions to the remarkable Chattahoochee River amenity areas in the metro-Atlanta area.
A new opportunity for funding came to light recently when Congresswoman Carolyn Bordeaux held a press conference here at Jones Bridge Park recently to reveal her proposed national grant program to fund suburb greenway expansion.
The overa ll project called, FutureFit the Suburbs, has an initiative called the National & Regional Greenways Act, which would create a grant program to fund active transportation projects, including the construction and connection of national and regional greenways. This sounds promising and may offer an opportunity to have our tax dollars come back to our community! As you can see, exciting things are underway and already in place for Corners Connector, andmany more amazing additions are coming soon.
Mayor Mike Mason
Local Indie Author Day is Coming Back to Gwinnett County Public Library Branches
Gwinnett County Public Library looks forward to celebrating Local Indie Author Day on Saturday, November 4, 2023.
The library invites independent local authors to showcase their works with author talks, readings, book sales and signings each year. This event aims to unite libraries, indie authors and readers throughout our community.
Multiple library branches are hosting author talks or author panels. Participating branches include:
- Buford-Sugar Hill,
- Five Forks,
- Norcross and
Local Indie Author Day will begin at the Duluth Library branch at 2:30 p.m. and features authors Stella Beaver, Chere’ Coen, Tamara Anderson and Cassandra Kempe-Ho.
The Norcross Library branch will host its showcase at 3:30 p.m. with authors Linda Sands and M.W. McKinley.
Check the library’s event calendar for author information and times. All events are free and open to the public. For questions or comments, contact Duﬃe Dixon, Director of Marketing and Communications for Gwinnett County Public Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to explore more public library events happening in November.
Good Grief: Life After Loss, Part 3
Losing Our Furry Friends
The conclusion of my “Good Grief” series seemed ideal in this issue featuring pets and their people. Paris Hilton lost her beloved chihuahua this year. In a farewell tribute on Instagram, the socialite wrote, “In 23 amazing years, she brought endless love, loyalty, and unforgettable moments to my life.”
Some may not understand — eye rolls may ensue — but fellow pet people know all too well that losing a companion animal is just as heartbreaking as losing a human loved one.
“The pain I feel right now is indescribable,” Hilton posted.
Yet our cultural playbook is devoid of any protocols for those mourning pets. There are no pet obituaries, no official rituals or religious ceremonies to support us through the loss of a fur baby. When such perfectly normal and deep emotions can be considered a mere overreaction by some people in our own tribe, one could argue that losing a pet is even more difficult.
The ultimate interspecies bond
Though domestic companions can be scale or feather-covered too, I spoke to the bereaved owners of the furry variety.
Thousands of years of evolution have led to dogs morphing from the wild wolves they once were into man’s best friend, able to read our emotions and willing to sit, bark, roll over and play dead on command – all to please us. If you’re not a pet owner yourself, you’re sure to have friends with pets.
Max, tennis ball chaser extraordinaire
Long before Matt and Faith Harding had children, they had their dogs, Jazzy and Max, who were part of their lives for over 11 years. Losing them was hard.
“We lost Max and Jazzy within a year of each other. We had to put Jazzy down because she was older and suffering. It was the right thing to do. What made it more difficult with Max was that it was so unexpected,” Matt said.
The Hardings had been treating Max, who suffered from seizures common to Belgian Malinois. They were able to keep the seizures under control for years.
What makes a grown man cry
It was a week like any other. Faith had gone out of town. The kids and Max were left in Matt’s care. Max chased tennis balls in the backyard. There were no warning signs that something was about to go terribly wrong.
Matt found Max in his kennel when he came home one evening. It looked as though he’d had a seizure — like those he’d recovered from many times before. Matt rinsed him off and brought him back inside.
When Matt came downstairs after putting his daughter down for a nap, Max drew his last couple of breaths and passed away. “He waited for me to come back,” Matt said.
Having to call Faith to share the sad news while she was traveling was heartbreaking. “After the initial shock and plenty of tears, you’re stuck with trying to figure out what to do next,” Matt said.
With their baby on one arm and their wailing toddler holding his hand, Matt walked the kids over to the neighbors’ house. The only thing he could utter was, “Please watch them.” Seeing his tear-streaked face, his neighbor took the children without hesitation.
“I had to text her and let her know what was happening. I could not even get words out of my mouth. They were a huge help and very sympathetic to what was happening,” Matt shared.
Maximize the memories
What helped the Hardings most was looking at pictures and reminiscing about their “incredible dog,” Max.
“He loved people. Plenty of people reached out to tell me some of their favorite memories with him and I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at how he left an impression on so many,” Matt said.
Conversely, Matt viewed the act of putting away the dog beds, bowls and toys as an admission that Max was now just a memory. “I couldn’t bring myself to do it,” Matt confided.
“The loss of Max is still hard to think about. Faith and I budget. We have a line item for Max. We were doing the budget a couple of nights ago and couldn’t bring ourselves to remove him as a line item,” Matt said. “Thank you for letting me share our story.”
Before Sandra Hutto and her siblings could spread their parents’ ashes, she was faced with the sudden death of her 11-year-old Doberman, Rio.
Three losses in rapid succession were a hard knock-back for Hutto. She is grateful for supportive friends and being able to process her grief with the help of her husband Mark, a psychiatrist.
According to Hutto, sharing stories about her parents was as helpful in dealing with her loss as it was funny. “There were things I didn’t know. It was fascinating,” she said. “Family stories are important. Apparently, my mother was kind of a floozy,” she laughed.
Her aunt had shared about her mother misleading a boy to spend a day at the lake. When he asked her out, she claimed to have gotten a headache from all the sun. But later, she called another boy about going to a movie.
Hutto advised, “You have shared stories and individual stories. You can let that isolate you or bring you closer. You could say, “That wasn’t my experience, I’m shutting it out,” but it lets you know more about your parents. They have stories from before you were born.”
Dad and the Doberman Pinscher
Before her father’s passing, Hutto and her husband took her dad on a road trip to Wyoming, along with Rio, in their 1993 Bluebird Wanderlodge to visit her sister. Unsure how her father would take to such a big dog, she was pleased when they bonded.
“He fell in love with her. Rio would get up in the middle of the night to lay down next to him. I joked with dad, “You know daddy, we do keep the dog.””
After he died, people said, “That trip was great for him. He never stopped talking about how much fun he had.” That was heartwarming,” Hutto said.
She danced on the sand
An American Kennel Club purebred dog, Rio’s registered name is, She Dances on the Sand, after the Duran Duran song.
Bred in Germany to be the intimidating protectors of tax collectors, Dobermans are strong, intelligent dogs, able to attack on command. Rio didn’t exactly fit the bill. Terrified of a neighborhood Yorkie, she’d watch him as she cowered behind Hutto.
Her tail was docked but she had natural, floppy ears. She wasn’t steely-looking, but she did have a big bark. “Mostly she would try to convince people that she was neglected. She was a drama queen; such a good, funny dog,” Hutto said.
Rio passed almost exactly the same way their previous Doberman, Jet had. (Jet was named after the Paul McCartney and Wings song.) Though Rio had a longer life, Hutto expressed the common sentiment among pet-owners: it’s never long enough.
Rio had received a clean bill of health and a rabies shot that day. By the evening, she was restless and wouldn’t settle in her bed. Mark had gone out.
“She got up and started walking around. She walked into our dining room, went around the table, her back feet collapsed from under her. She struggled to get up. She howled a couple of times and she was gone,” Hutto said.
Hutto believes cardiac arrhythmia killed both Jet and Rio. Heart issues are common in Dobermans, partly because of breeding and because they’re deep-chested dogs.
“Not again!” Hutto remembers shrieking as she witnessed Rio’s passing. Jet had passed away in the same manner, but she was with Mark. The swift but horrible departure allows for the only consolation, “at least she didn’t suffer.”
A Dobie’s departure
After the ordeal of burying 70-pound Jet in the rain, the Huttos decided to have Rio cremated. They were pleased with Deceased Pet Care, Inc. in Chamblee.
“They were kind, empathetic and respectful. They knew we were in pain. They took good care of her, made a point to tell us that they cremate each dog individually, and gave us her paw print in clay,” Hutto recounted.
“Peachtree Forest is the neighborhood to live in if you want to come back as a dog. People here love their dogs. They’ll greet your dog — and then they’ll say hi to you,” Hutto chuckled. When neighbors learned about Rio’s passing, some sent sympathy cards.
Hutto was almost thankful for a sprained knee shielding her for a while from the inevitable moment she takes her first walk alone and people will ask, “Where’s Rio?”
“I’ll probably bawl in the street,” she predicted.
Able to better prepare for losing her parents, Hutto remarked that her grief journey is different for Rio because it was so sudden. “It was a shock and harder in some ways. It’s important to talk about it so people see you can get through it,” she said.
When they’re ready, the Huttos plan to get another Doberman. “I’m going to name her Roxanne. You’re not going to be able to help yourself when you call her. You’re going to have to do the song,” she said.
Paw prints on our hearts
Pets are not “just animals,” as some may be tempted to say when we lose them. For those who form strong bonds with our four-legged friends, they become part of our favorite routines, our protégés, our sweetest companions, delighting us daily with joy and unconditional affection; they become family.
If the emotional connections we can form with pets are virtually indistinguishable from those we form with people, it stands to reason that pet bereavement can be on par with the grief we experience for our cherished, human loved ones. Let’s remember to be kind to those grieving the loss of their pets.
Teen Cancer Survivor Aims to Raise Funds for Research
When Lex Stolle was 10 years old, he started behaving in ways that weren’t like the energetic pre-teen.
“There were a lot of things that just weren’t right, like I wasn’t eating well. I was losing a lot of weight; I had fluid in my lungs. There were just so many problems that ultimately did lead to my diagnosis,” he said referring to high risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALS.
The medical team initially told Stolle’s family that there would be three and a half years of intense chemotherapy. At that time, they didn’t have a complete diagnosis.
“Additionally, I would have 10 months of going in every week, taking lots of shots and pills,” he said. “And then if I ever had a fever, I would have to stay in the hospital for days, weeks or even months.”
However, updated research allowed Stolle to have a year cut off his chemotherapy.
“In total, I took over 2,000 chemotherapy pills. I had about 36 spinal taps, which is where they stick a needle in my spine to send chemo to my brain. …I spent over 50 nights in the hospital. I missed 163 days of school and my fifth-grade year,” he lamented — but doesn’t feel sorry for himself.
Ask him how he’s doing now.
“I’m awesome! I finished treatment in January of 2022. I’m a year and a half out of treatment and I’m feeling a lot better. I still go in every few months, and then I’ll have to go in every year for, I think, the rest of my life,” he said. “And I’ve started to get back into the shape that I was in — but it’s still hard to be a teenager.”
Paying the blessings forward
Stolle’s cancer journey began in 2019. Now at 14 years old, he wants to do what he can to keep the deadly disease from other kids.
“I have always had a passion for helping others, and especially with my cancer, I know what it’s like to be put through everything I went through. I don’t want any kid to have to suffer, let alone someone younger,” he said. “So I decided to do this project last year just for Peachtree Corners.”
He’s talking about his brainchild, Cancer Cards.
“Seeing so many kids go through what I did really got to me, and I felt the urge to make a difference. That’s how the idea for Cancer Cards came about. …They’re about the size of a credit card and they hold special discounts (between 15% off meals to free appetizers) for 9 to 12 local businesses.”
This year, he’s gone beyond Peachtree Corners to include cards exclusive to Milton/Alpharetta, Marietta, Buckhead and Athens. The cards are $25 each and the money raised goes to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — the same place where Stolle received his treatment.
“We are so proud and honored to have Lex Stolle’s support of the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” said Lydia Stinson of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation. “After three long years of undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Lex was inspired to give back to help kids like him, and he has been determined to give back to Children’s in so many ways.”
The lengths that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta went to keep his spirits up — therapy dogs, clowns, etc. — made many of his worse days some of his best, Stolle said.
“I raised around $500 last year, but this year, I’m hoping to raise a little over $90,000,” he added.
Stolle hopes the funds can help wipe out childhood cancers. “I want one day for my grandkids to not even have to think about getting cancer, or if they do get cancer, that it can be a very easy treatment,” he said.
Cancer cards are on sale now and are active through May 25, 2024. They can be purchased online at cancercard.net.
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