20 Aug 2014
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Mayor Burnette: 'This Is Going To Be Interesting'

New Suwanee mayor talks of then, now and beyond in first State Of The City speech.

Mayor Burnette: 'This Is Going To Be Interesting' Mayor Burnette: 'This Is Going To Be Interesting'

It was appropriate for a good ol' Suwanee boy gone straight.

"This is going to be interesting," Jimmy Burnette, wearing an open-necked shirt, said as he stepped to the podium Wednesday at .

Then he introduced himself and went ahead with a speech.

It was as Suwanee's new mayor had advertised -- a description of the Suwanee of his youth, a tribute to the present achievements, and an outline of what everyone can expect to see in the near future.

"The Suwanee of my early childhood didn't have a City Hall. They used to meet in the back of (a store in Old Town).

"For teens in the 1960s, Buford was the place to hang out," Burnette, a North Gwinnett High grad, told the gathering.

But this is not a leader who is hung up on the past.

"There's not much I miss about the good old days," he continued. He noted that his grandchildren now can play in the Big Splash interactive fountain in Town Center Park. "At least you don't have to worry about snakes (in Suwanee Creek) or trespassing on private property (as he did in his youth)."

He went on to praise the development of the signature parks system that has come since the $17 million Open Space Initiative passed in 2001. Town Center Park has hosted many events -- concerts by name rock bands, pet festivals and even a beerfest. The public arts initiative led by SculpTour also has resulted.

"SculpTour has been a huge success," Burnette noted. "Public art ... reaches the lives of our citizens."

The new mayor noted that 2012 will bring the completion of the city's 20/20 strategic planning effort, and city leaders already know one thing people want.

"Folks want immediate improvement to the Gateway," Burnette said of the stretch of Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road from Satellite Boulevard to I-85. The business-heavy district has been hit hard by business failures, and some pockets have become nests for such crimes as forgery and drug dealing.

One effort to rehabilitate the area will come Thursday, when groundbreaking will be held on the new police substation at I-85.

Most of all, Burnette remembers that when he left college in 1974, he and wife Caron (now a teacher at) could not return to Suwanee immediately because "there were no jobs and no homes."

Touting job growth, he said that he wants Suwanee to be "a community that has a place when young people want to return, they can come back."

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