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Korean auto manufacturer to open facility in Braselton

Duckyang recently announced it will invest $10 million in opening its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Jackson County. Duckyang is an electric mobility parts supplier of automotive battery modules and energy storage systems to SK Battery America (SKBA).

Duckyang's new 230,000 sq. ft. facility will be located at 284 Broadway Ave. in Braselton and will create 285 jobs in the area.

“It’s great to see Duckyang create high-paying, advanced automotive manufacturing jobs for the hardworking Georgians of Jackson County,” said Governor Brian Kemp in the announcement May 20. “Georgia is home to the best workforce training programs in the nation and has remained the number one state for business for the past eight years, so I’m confident Duckyang will find long-term success in Georgia.”

Headquartered in Ulsan, Korea, Duckyang supplies cockpit modules to customers around the world including Hyundai, Kia, Renault Samsung Motors, Genesis and Mobis. Cockpit modules are integrated auto parts comprised of more than 130 sub-components found near the driver’s seat of a vehicle.

Company leaders say that opening a facility in Georgia will allow Duckyang to better serve several of its automotive customers within the region.

“By entering the U.S. electric vehicle battery market with SKBA, we will have the opportunity to cooperate with many other automotive companies, including Hyundai and Kia Motors, that already have a manufacturing base in the U.S.,” said Dong-in Son, CEO of Duckyang Ind. Co. Ltd. “It is expected that we will have business expansion opportunities to supply not only electric vehicle parts but also interior parts, including the cockpit module, door trim panel module, and other flagship parts to global automakers based in the United States.”

The company will be hiring for positions in production, maintenance, logistics and warehouse management. Individuals interested in careers with Duckyang are encouraged to contact mgkim@dyauto.kr for additional information.

“The Town of Braselton looks forward to welcoming Duckyang to our community and is delighted to see a new manufacturing facility located in our town,” said Braselton Town Manager Jennifer Scott.

“As the automotive industry continues to move toward electric, great companies like Duckyang are helping Jackson County and the State of Georgia secure a place in the industry’s future,” said John Scott, Director of Economic Development for the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re very excited to welcome Duckyang to our community!”

Director of Korean Investment Yoonie Kim represented the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s (GDEcD) Global Commerce division on this project in partnership with the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority, Georgia Quick Start and Georgia EMC.

“In Georgia, we’re focused on growing the entire electric mobility supply chain,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Our strong relationships with SK Battery America and other Korean companies, such as Duckyang, are helping us do just that. This is also a great example of how we help our companies bring their suppliers to the state in order to secure their local supply of needed parts. I appreciate our partners in Jackson County for their support of these projects and look forward to seeing the new opportunities this will create locally and for the entire U.S. mobility sector.”

Tree House Inc., a Winder-based nonprofit whose mission is to prevent child abuse in Barrow, Jackson and Banks counties, raised over $110,000 through its annual “A Night of Hope” live and silent auction, held Friday, May 21, at The Venue at Friendship Springs in Flowery Branch. The event included a surprise visit from Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp (pictured with Tree House staff).

Tree House board member Joel Tonge and wife Lauren are pictured. 

Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith encourages bidding at the auction. 

Woman killed in early morning wreck in West Jackson

A Lawrenceville woman was killed in an early-morning wreck in West Jackson on May 24.

Georgia State Patrol troopers were called for the wreck on Hwy. 53 at Braselton Pkwy. shortly before 3 a.m.

A dump truck, driven by Vernal Bailey, 55, of Snellville, was traveling south on Hwy. 53. A Nissan Sentra driven by Raven Brown, 27, of Lawrenceville, was trying to make a left turn from Hwy. 53 onto Braselton Pkwy., but failed to yield right-of-way and collided with the dump truck. Brown was killed in the accident. She was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the GSP.

Bailey sustained minor injuries and declined transport to the hospital. His dump truck, which was carrying a load of asphalt, overturned off the Hwy. 53 shoulder after the impact.

No charges are expected.

Local elections board member party to state voting lawsuit

A member of the Jackson County Board of Elections is among the plaintiffs signing onto a lawsuit that seeks to overturn some provisions of a controversial new Georgia elections law.

Elections board member Judy McNichols, who represents the Democratic Party on the board, is one of 13 named co-plaintiffs in the suit. In addition, the suit is being supported by the Jackson County Democratic Committee as a signee.

The suit is being organized and filed by the interest group Coalition for Good Governance and relates to SB202, which passed the state General Assembly this year.

It is one of several lawsuits attacking the new law, which critics say is designed to limit voting rights in the state.

The suit focuses on the "takeover" provision in SB202 and on new limitations for elections observers and the media.

“The ‘Takeover Provisions’ are so egregious and dangerous to every concept of free and fair elections that they must be stricken from the law before they undermine Georgia’s elections,” said Marilyn Marks, CGG’s Executive Director. “The Takeover Provisions, together with the unconscionable new statutes that criminalize long-standing practices of citizen and press oversight of elections, compelled us to organize this lawsuit. The voter intimidation and attacks on Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech embodied in SB202 are abhorrent to modern democratic societies. We are resolute as we work together with 13 co-plaintiffs in this fight to protect voters from the assault on democracy embodied in SB202. The lawsuit defends three pillars of liberty."

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger defended the legislation last week, saying the state needs the power to takeover counties that mismanage elections. He specifically cited Fulton County, a largely Democratic urban county in Atlanta.

Specifically, CGG said its suit focuses on:

Takeover Provision — permits the State Election Board to remove entire boards of elections and registration, appointed by county political parties, local officials and Superior Courts, and substitute the State Board’s appointee essentially permanently. (Separation of Powers)

Elector Observation Felony — makes it a felony to “intentionally observe” other citizens’ votes displayed on the large touchscreen voting machines in the polling place. The law is ripe for the arbitrary and capricious abuse of false allegations and enforcement, for a “crime” that is hard to avoid, because of the flawed design of the machines.  (Right to Vote)

Gag Rule — criminalizes the public’s, party-appointed monitors’ and the press’s reporting of absentee mail ballot processing or tabulation problems or progress. (Freedom of Speech)

Estimating Ban — prohibits the press or monitors from estimating the absentee tallies they are monitoring as ballots are processed. (Freedom of Speech)

Photography Ban — criminalizes photography of voted ballots or of the touchscreen while in use by a voter, despite the century-long history of routine press photography and videography of such election activities. (Freedom of Speech)

Relaxed Voter ID Rule — degrades mail ballot security by removing the “gold standard” verifiable signature requirement, substituting easily stolen ID numbers and dates of birth, inviting widespread identity theft and mail ballot fraud. (Right to Vote)

Impractical Application Deadline — narrowing the window for absentee ballot applications so restrictively that absentee voting is impossible in some runoff elections, and for voters with unforeseen hardship conditions, preventing their presence at the polls. (Right to Vote)

Planners recommend approval of B&B

Braselton planners recently voted to recommend approval of a short-term rental/bed and breakfast in the downtown area.

At its May 24 meeting, the Braselton Planning Commission voted to recommend approving two requests from Kacie de Leon for .41 acres at 88 Lakeshore Dr. A second hearing is planned at the Braselton Town Council's June 10 meeting.

De Leon has requested a conditional use to allow a bed and breakfast on the property, which has an existing 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home. She also requested a variance for relief on a rule that requires the B&B operator to live on the premises.

The property won't be a traditional B&B. De Leon plans to run an Airbnb on the property.

Six people will be allowed to stay at a time (two per bedroom). The property will be rented as a whole (not as individual rooms).

De Leon also noted there's ample parking in the driveway, security measures in place and said strict rules to prevent disturbances of the neighbors.


In other business, planners recommended approval of a rezoning request from David Elder with Valiant Services on 46.6 acres at 587 Ednaville Rd.

Developers are requesting a change from R-2 to R-3 on a previously approved subdivision to allow a slightly smaller house size. No changes are planned to the layout and design of the project, which includes 80 lots.

Planners recommended approval with a number of the town planning staff's conditions, including limiting the development to detached single family, requiring a minimum of 2,000 sq. ft. houses and having a maximum of 80 lots. Planners also recommended a condition that the subdivision's covenants restrict rentals to 30% with a hardship exception. The commission also suggested that developers incorporate amenities consistent with other developments in the town.

Braselton couple indicted for CARES Act fraud scheme

A Braselton couple has been indicted for defrauding the U.S. Small Business Administration out of millions of dollars by filing fraudulent applications in the Economic Impact Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) Program. EIDL is part of the CARES Act.

Paul Kwak and Michelle Kwak allegedly conspired to submit fraudulent EIDL applications in the names of shell companies that had no employees and conducted no business activities. An EIDL application must provide, among other information, the amount of revenue the business generated in the 12 months prior to the application and the number of employees. The applicant must certify that the information is correct and that he or she is legally eligible to apply for an EIDL.

The Kwaks are reportedly connected to over 70 fraudulent applications. Approximately half of those were successful, resulting in over $4 million in fraudulent loans.

“Fraudulent applications divert the limited pool of funds Congress allocated for pandemic relief from legitimate businesses in need of assistance,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “By defrauding the Small Business Administration, the defendants harmed hardworking business owners whom the CARES Act was intended to help.”

Paul Kwak also reportedly posted related videos on his YouTube channel. In a May 2020 video titled “EIDL, disaster assistance you don’t have to pay back” in Korean, Kwak explained that applicants can receive tens of thousands of dollars in assistance without collateral or a co-signor, using only the applicant’s electronic signature. One of his clients, according to Kwak, had recently received $150,000 in EIDL proceeds.

Paul Kwak, 63, and Michelle Kwak, 60, both of Braselton, were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 18.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Qin is prosecuting the case.

Clyde's insurrection comments create huge backlash

Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde, who lives in Jackson County and represents Georgia's 9th Congressional District, created a firestorm of controversy last week when he downplayed the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, saying that some of those involved looked on video footage like "tourists." He claimed the events of Jan. 6 were not an insurrection, saying that label was "a bald-face lie."

"You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit," he said.

Clyde's comments were quickly met with a backlash from many who pointed out that the Jan. 6 mob had entered the U.S. Capitol Building violently. Five people died from the events of the day.

Poltifact, a political fact-checking service use by many news organizations, called Clyde's comments "a ridiculous assertion."

The Jan. 6 insurrection happened as Congress certified the votes of the Electoral College for president, votes which gave Democrat Joe Biden the victory over incumbent Donald Trump. Trump said repeatedly following the Nov. election that it had been stolen from him. Some involved in the insurrection attempt said they were acting on behalf of Trump, believing the election had indeed been stolen from him.

Over 400 people have been charged in the riot, many for misdemeanor violations for unlawfully entering the Capitol building. One local man with ties to Jackson and Banks counties was among those charged.

Some protestors vandalized the building, stole property and attacked Capitol police officers who were unable to stop the crowd. While some in the crowd were peaceful, others carried bear spray, zip ties and other instruments meant to do damage.

Clyde himself helped barricade the doors to the U.S. House chamber during the Jan. 6 insurrection. The House floor wasn't breached, but the U.S. Senate chamber was.

Most of those who rioted at the Capitol that day were Trump supporters who were upset with the outcome of the election. Trump had earlier encouraged people to protest in Washington on Jan. 6, a move that was seen by some as encouraging an effort to forcefully overturn the election results.

Clyde, a Trump supporter who was elected in November to his first term in office, had earlier this year made waves in Congress for refusing to go through a metal detector to reach the House floor, a rule put in place after the riots.

Hoschton DDA plans first meetings

The newly-formed Hoschton Downtown Development Authority will have its mandatory training session on Thursday, May 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Train Depot, located at 4272 Hwy. 53.

The group will hold its first official meeting on Tuesday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at City Hall, located at 79 City Square.

Hoschton to have long list of rezoning items at upcoming meeting

The City of Hoschton has a large agenda of rezoning-related items at its upcoming June 3 meeting.

Among the items slated for a public hearing at the meeting are:

• a rezoning for 41 townhouses on 5.87 acres on the north side of West Jefferson St. at Panther Court.

• a rezoning for a convenience store with gas and fast-food restaurants on Hwy. 53 south of Town Center Parkway.

• three variances for the city itself for two one-story office buildings at 92 Jopena Blvd.

• a rezoning and three variances for a commercial development on Hwy. 53 near Bell St. and White St.

• amending city codes to repeal a section that requires a subdivision of 50 lots or more to have more than one entrance/exit and to provide for golf cart paths. The council is also looking to amend some of its requirements for townhouses in the city.

Tree House board member and Jackson EMC representative Joe Hicks and wife Emily are pictured.