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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An afternoon with Mayor Peeples and Charlie Company

By: Brian D. Anderson Sr.
President & CEO
Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce

An afternoon with Mayor Peeples and Charlie Company!

Let me start this week by saying how much I appreciate the many kind words many of you have shared about my columns. Although I have never pretended to be a writer or journalist, I do try to deliver interesting columns each week. I am truly grateful for your words of encouragement. Although there are always many issues that a column could speak to, I am always open to ideas. If you have an idea about something interesting, let me know and I will research it and report on it.

One such idea came to me via email even as I was preparing for today’s column. It came from Bethany Richmond of the Carpet and Rug Institute. Bethany sent an article from a Texas newspaper outlining a local approach to economic stimulus. A Texas businessman in Whitehouse, Texas, outlined an ingenious approach to stimulating the local economy.

Basically, Mr. Max Anderson proposed that money spent in the local area could be passed on to stimulate other local businesses. For instance, if a consumer came in to purchase carpet from Mr. Anderson and the sales tax came to $300, he would issue a check for $300 (equivalent to the sales taxes) to another local business of the customer’s choosing. In other words, the consumer could choose a local appliance business to receive a local stimulus. The same consumer then takes the “stimulus check” to the appliance store and uses it to purchase appliances from them.

Based on the passing it on principle, Mr. Anderson appropriately called his idea the “Pass it On” campaign. So far, Mr. Anderson has passed on over $20,000 in local stimulus. This sounds ingenious to me and would love to hear from our local businesses that might have an interest in a similar campaign. If so, your Chamber of Commerce will work to develop the framework for creating such an opportunity in the Dalton-Whitfield community.

On another note, on Monday of this week I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Mayor Dan peoples of Varnell. Mayor Peeples is an exciting, energetic, focused, and impassioned young leader. He has a great vision for the City Varnell and the North end of Whitfield County. We looked at and discussed their infrastructure improvement plans / needs, there growth plans, and basically discussed the thorough plan that the Mayor and Council are working to implement.

Given the growth in employment slated to occur north of us in Bradley County and Hamilton County, the leaders of Varnell are to commended for looking at the opportunities available to Varnell for growth in new residents who may work in Dalton, Cleveland, or Chattanooga. Working with Dalton Utilities, the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, and the Whitfield County School System public sewer availability will be extremely beneficial going forward.

Given that we have a need for real estate offerings in the $175-$225K price range, two subdivisions in the Varnell area could be re-designed to offer homes in this price point. The Rockingham subdivision and possibly even a new phase in the Highland Point subdivision could be developed with these price points in mind. In addition to the appropriate price points, such subdivisions need to offer a swimming pools, tennis courts / basketball courts, and playgrounds.

If we are going to keep and attract young professional families, we have to have real estate offerings that are comparable to our surrounding / competing communities. If we are not able to provide this range of price points within the two subdivisions suggested, we will have to work with developers, real estate firms, and possibly regional builders who could create a development in this price range with the recommended amenities. New homes will be built again in the future, we should prepare for when that will occur by knowing what we need and then building it.

As I left Varnell to return to my office, I stopped at the new Dalton Village Shopping Center. What an interesting and aesthetically pleasing new retail development. Although the center is new and only has a couple of tenants, this center is one to watch. It is beautiful, unique, and will offer its tenants a terrific place to conduct business and provide goods and services to consumers in our community. If they are successful in attracting the right kind of retail offerings, we might even be successful in keeping some of the retail leakage that goes to Cleveland and Chattanooga.

The anchor tenant of the center is Value fresh Supermarket. I had the pleasure of visiting with John Burton, the General Manager of the supermarket. This new retail edition to the grocery segment will provide additional grocery shopping north of the bypass. Those living up and down Cleveland Highway can shop in our community without feeling like they need to travel north into Cleveland. I look forward to meeting with John in a few months and discovering that their success has been even better than they expected.

Let me close this week with just a snapshot of yesterday’s welcome home tribute to Charlie Company. The hundreds of well-wishers / greeters came to Harmon Field to celebrate the safe return of our community’s citizen-soldiers. They are not soldier-citizens. These are local people who answer the call when called on by their country or state. A little over one year ago, Captain Lewis promised to bring back all 90 members of Charlie Troop. Yesterday he could proudly state that he kept his promise.

This ceremony was spectacular! Special kudos to: the Dalton HS ROTC Color Guard, Mayor David Pennington, Captain Jason Lewis (Troop Commander), First Sergeant Ronnie Perryman (Troop First Sergeant), SFC Eric Rochelle, Rev. Mickey Shealy, and Maj. (ret.) Raymond McCranney. An extra special THANK YOU goes to Rick Brown who worked tirelessly during the deployment to insure these soldiers were prayed for, cared for, and provided for!

Mayor Pennington in thanking these troopers for all that they had done for us, also pledged that our community now stands ready for them. Let me echo that sentiment! For all of us who are grateful for your service, we are here for you. Let us know what we can do for you! God bless each of you and your families!

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