Two new members of the Sugar Hill City Council were sworn in during a meeting Monday, Nov. 8, at City Hall.
The meeting opened with Mason Roszel and Jenn Thatcher taking an oath of office to serve the residents of Sugar Hill. Roszel fills a seat vacated by Brandon Hembree, who successfully ran for mayor and will be sworn in to replace outgoing mayor Steve Edwards in January. Thatcher is filling a seat vacated by Susie Walker.
The Tuesday, Nov. 2, election results were unanimously ratified by the council during this session.
On taking part in his first meeting as a council member, Roszel said, “It’s an honor to serve with this group. We have a really special group of council members and a special mayor here, and the vision that they’ve set is one that I know attracted me to get involved in the first place, and this is just the next chapter of being able to serve in a bigger capacity.”
Thatcher added, “It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to serve. It was an adventure to run, so I’m very excited to see what’s next to come. I believe in the vision of this city. I believe in what we’re doing here, and in the long-term view, and I think that we have the right people in place to make that happen.”
The city council also recognized Sugar Hill resident Andrew Jason Thiel. Thiel was joined by friends and family to be recognized for his outstanding achievements in the face of adversity. “Andy,” as Edwards called him, was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after his birth as well as a hole in his heart, which shortened his life expectancy to roughly four years. After a successful heart surgery, Andy went on to graduate high school and participated in the Special Olympics from age 8, winning gold medals in gymnastics and snow skiing. He also made time to help out with his sister’s softball team and has been a dedicated and beloved employee of the Sugar Hill Publix Super Market for 15 years. For his contributions to the community and his general compassion and positivity, Edwards presented Thiel with a commendation and declared Nov. 8 “Andy Day.”
The council also recognized the North Gwinnett cluster Teachers of the Year, honoring a number of local educators from elementary to high school levels for their inspiring efforts in the classroom. Among them was Jenny Stark, a media specialist with six years of experience teaching at North Gwinnett Middle School. Stark is one of 25 semi-finalists for Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year award.
The city council also honored Eleanor Jones, a local ninth grader at Lanier High School who won the contest to design the commemorative poster for this year’s Sugar Rush event. Council Member Marc Cohen spoke on the youth’s achievements and showcased her intricate poster design.
Jones’ mother, Kerry Murphy, said, “We are so proud of Ellie! She is an incredible artist but also a kind, smart and wonderful person. She has been drawing since she could first hold a pencil and works hard everyday to learn and grow as an artist … It’s moments like these that motivate and inspire and we will certainly remember it always!”
The council also recognized the young women of All-In Futbol Club’s U15 Georgia Premier League girls team who won the U15G division, the top division in the state. Edwards made a point to mention the team not only achieved victory, but they did it without being issued any yellow or red cards, indicating they did so with honor and class. Edwards presented the team with the Sugar Hill soccer ball and was in turn presented with a ball signed by the team’s coaching staff.
The meeting also provided time for residents to voice any concerns they had to the council. During this time, Dr. Denise Hoell addressed her concerns regarding COVID-19 restrictions that were put in place at a recent Pat Benatar concert that took place Friday, Oct. 22, at The Bowl. She read a prepared statement expressing her displeasure that residents who did not have proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 were forced to provide a negative COVID test to gain entry to the concert, calling the restrictions, “infractions on our freedom, liberty and personal choice.” Citing that the average COVID test costs $127, she also referred to the requirement as “financially irresponsible and an example of poor stewardship of our tax money.”
“There are some backstories that you may not know about,” Edwards responded. “I appreciate you coming forward and speaking to us … I’ll have somebody reach out to you with all the backstories that you may not know about.”
The council then moved to new business, the first of which was a special-use permit for LaVida Massage Sugar Hill. The new owner of the Sugar Hill Corners establishment, Umang Davé, cited his credentials and his desire to contribute to the Sugar Hill community by going beyond just massages.
“Instead of it being a regular massage center, I will also be offering additional workshops on mindfulness, meditation and mental health,” he said. “I want it to be a space for people to come in and hold fundraisers, non-profit meetings, because I have a lot of space … that I can use for these kind of events.”
The council unanimously approved the special-use permit.
Also on the agenda was approval of a contract award for the Greenway Signage Program. The bid was to be awarded to IMG of Norcross, one of several companies up for the $137,533 contract. IMG will be responsible for the construction and placement of just under 100 signs along the Greenway. The contract award was approved unanimously.
Also approved was a roadway resurfacing list to be submitted to the Georgia Department of Transportation. The following streets are recommended for the 2022 Local Maintenance and Improvement grant program: Brookdale Drive; Primrose Park Road; Primrose Park Court; Summer Creek Court; Blossom Brook Drive; Avalon Creek Road; Roberts Run Cove; Spring Hill Drive; Pinecrest Drive; Church Street; W. Broad Street; and Alton Tucker Boulevard.
The council then addressed an addendum to Memorandum of Understanding with the Sugar Hill Downtown Development Authority, which returns $5,000,000 to the city of Sugar Hill from the Solis Project for sale of property and to complete closing on all parcels necessary for the project’s development.
FEATURED PHOTO: Sugar Hill Mayor Edwards presents Andrew Jason Thiel with a commendation and declares Nov. 8 “Andy Day” during the Sugar Hill City Council meeting on Monday. Nov. 8, 2021. All photos by Chris Bellows