Last week was a good one in East Ridge, wasn’t it?
The weather finally broke, for one. Rain and gloom gave way to blue skies and crisp temperatures perfect for yard work, golf, boating and football. Football in East Ridge in mid-November is rare, isn’t it? Nevertheless, football it was Friday night and the Pioneers continue to “Defend the Ridge.”
It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Raymond James Stadium was condemned in August and it seemed as though more than the stands were going to crumble. The news was a body blow to many. Not to Coach Tracy Malone and the young men who play on Shanks Field. Malone refused to let the issue of a neglected stadium distract his team from methodically going about its business. The idea of playing “home” games away or at Camp Jordan was rejected by the administration, Malone and his team.
No, Shanks Field is hallowed ground and that’s where the Pioneers would make their stand. And they have stood their ground, baby. They have “Defended the Ridge” against all comers deep into the TSSAA Class 3A playoffs. Notre Dame is next and there is no reason to think the result of this game will be any different than the 12 previous ones.
Not only has the football team responded in a positive way to the condemnation of the stadium, the community has as well. A group of folks got together in September at a storefront on Ringgold Road and started talking about forming an alumni association of all things. Some in the community scoffed. I distinctly remember one person telling me, “Anyone who has made something of themselves in East Ridge has left.” I don’t know what his definition of being a “made man” (or woman) really is.
I think I understand what that person really meant. He was looking for one or two people with really deep pockets coming in and writing a big check to help rebuild the stadium. It seems the folks behind the East Ridge Alumni & Supporters Association have found a way around that by offering membership to the group at a modest price. At Friday’s game they had a recruiting table set up and it was like old home week. I ran into people at the game who I haven’t seen in many years and they were all pumped up about the success of the team and the alumni association’s effort to recruit members, get behind the school and make a difference for the future of the school.
_ Speaking of “Defending the Ridge,” our City Attorney, Hal North, will continue to suit up for East Ridge. At Thursday’s City Council meeting, an item on the agenda called for “discussion/take action” on City Attorney’s compensation. There was plenty of discussion about North’s $120,000 a year salary. Vice Mayor Marc Gravitt led the charge to bump that number up 10 percent. I’m not good with math, but that figure is $1,000 a month raise. Let’s see, $250 a week raise, right? In a five-day work week, what’s that, 50 bucks a day?
From the discussion, you would have thought that the board was contemplating another expenditure along the lines of The Border Region Act. There was wringing of hands, wiping of the brow, bluster, sighs. Gravitt even disclosed that Hal and/or his wife had contributed money to the Vice Mayor’s re-election bid for the State House. Councilman Denny Manning put it all in context when he told the board that North would actually return phone calls when staff or a member of the council left him a message. That, dear reader, cannot be overemphasized.
Councilman Jacky Cagle was the white knight. He sided with Gravitt and Manning voting for the salary bump, sending a message to North and his law firm that they are a valued member of our team. The last thing the City needs now is to be searching for a permanent City Manager, City Treasurer and a City Attorney.
Tip of the hat to Jacky.
_ More good news. Diane Qualls, the city’s resident numbers cruncher, announced at the City Council meeting that our sales tax revenue for 2015 is way up from 2012, the base year for getting back something called incremental sales tax under the Border Region legislation. She announced that the city is in line to get a $739,000 check from the state in the next fiscal year.
That will most certainly offset North’s salary increase.
_ And what could be better than a parade, a Christmas Parade … in November. Well, how about a Christmas Concert? Stump Martin announced last week that there will be a concert at Camp Jordan Arena on Saturday afternoon, prior to the city’s traditional Christmas parade. It will feature a 300-member chorus from various churches. It costs six bucks to get in and organizers are asking that concert goers bring an unwrapped gift for the Needy Child Fund, headed up by Fire Chief Mike Williams and his wife, Cynthia.
After the parade people can head back down to Camp Jordan and take in the Christmas Nights of Lights display at the park. Don’t forget to stop by Santa’s Village.