The Mayor's Thoughts

<abbr></abbr>City has stories to tell while creating new ones

Our city has many stories to tell even while we are creating new ones. Recently a state archivist was here to video some of our residents as they recalled their roles in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. As you know, the white water competition was held on Polk County's Ocoee River. Whitewater athletes from around the world were housed at Lee University during the competition.

And last weekend marked the 110th anniversary of renowned composer John Phillip Sousa's visit here. Sousa was already a celebrity when he appeared at Craigmiles Hall in 1906. The concert program that night, January 30, 1906, included eight other numbers along with The Diplomat March. It was the first time anyone anywhere had heard The Diplomat. It is Cleveland's official song.

In 2004 the Lee University Wind Ensemble played The Diplomat in a concert. The director, Dr. David R. Holsinger, presented me with a plaque and then I got to direct the band!

The Advisory Committee of the Tennessee Historical Commission gave preliminary approval last month for a Cleveland Commercial Historic District. The committee visited our city twice last year to look at our downtown. The final decision will come from the Historical Commission. 

If that happens it could have positive benefits for some business property owners. It would also give an extra boost to our already thriving promotion of downtown and its stories, thanks to MainStreet Cleveland and the Chamber of Commerce. 

It will help business property owners who seek to have their property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Already several buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The latest was the C.C. Card Building at 125 Inman Street.

And currently, we are working towards the creation of a Taylor Spring park at the place where Cleveland began. We will be watching as the story of Andrew Taylor takes shape.

Cleveland has made history in many other ways. Founded in 1880, Hardwick Clothes is America's oldest maker of tailor made suits for men and women. Even last year Hardwick was getting national attention. And at the Museum Center at 5ive Points, where many more of our stories are told, an exhibit about the famous Red Back Hymnal opened last year.

Our city is one with many stories to tell. Those stories, both old and new, help make Cleveland a great place to live and work.

Looking back on 2015

As we look back on 2015, many good things happened.

The final opening of exit 20 is a blessing to our city and I can honestly say without the hard work of Rep. Kevin Brooks this wouldn't have happened. This long awaited project opens a much improved traffic flow for the southern entrance to our city.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has been good to Cleveland this year with many improvements, not the least is 25th Street at I 75.

As I reflect on the year, with new leadership in our police department and with the valuable help of our consultant Larry Wallace, a new vision for the department has surfaced. I am extremely proud that the department has been re-accredited by CALEA. This was not an easy process, but the evaluators saw that our department is focused on the finest and most professional department it can be.

If there was a disappointment in 2015, it was our city manager Janice Casteel announcing her retirement in 2016. We will all miss Janice for her years of devotion to the city.

I was in Nashville when Jordan Smith won the "Voice" title and shared that pride with state leaders I was with. It gave me another opportunity to brag about Lee University and the great talent it produces.

All and all 2015 brought city government challenges, however I believe with those challenges come opportunities and from those we learn.

Traffic and pedestrian safety?

Traffic and pedestrian safety are always a priority in our city.

Several projects during this new year are designed to do just that; increase driving and walking safety. One of those projects will be at the intersection of Eighth, Ocoee and Broad streets, at the monuments. We all remember the traffic collision there that toppled a monument dedicated to the memory of three young Cleveland residents who died in an 1889 train wreck in Virginia. That accident brought about a renewed effort to make the intersection safer.

After our City Council, city staff and the Tennessee Department of Transportation considered several solutions, a new traffic pattern around the intersection will be put in place this year. The left lane on Broad Street approaching the monuments will become a left turn lane only. There will be pavement markings and added signs to make drivers aware of the changing traffic pattern. TDOT plans to seek bids for the project this month. Many of us drive through that intersection daily, often multiple times. This change aims to make the trip safer for all of us.

Meanwhile, just a block away, another traffic change took place in late December. The Eighth Street and Church streets intersection became a four-way stop, next to the Cleveland/Bradley County Library. The intersection confused some drivers in the past. The change was advertised before the new stop signs were installed, giving drivers time to adjust. Pedestrian safety is the focus of another project.

On Peerless Road, approaching the intersection at 25th Street, the sidewalk ends at the Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.

Your city staff is formulating plans now to install sidewalks the rest of the distance to 25th Street.&nbsp; There is a lot of work still to be done with this project. Look for still more projects like these across the city during 2016. New sidewalks are under construction by city workers now on Willow Street. Our city staff is always looking at other locations where stop signs can be installed, traffic lanes widened or other improvements made.

Each year our city takes many steps forward. Some are for public safety. Others may include services to the public, economic development and more. Some of those steps are small ones, like adding stop signs at a busy intersection. Some are big steps, like opening an expanded Exit 20 last year and a new APD 40 interchange later in this new year. Whether they are big or small, they are all important steps forward for our City With Spirit.

Exit 20 officially opens

With a pair of scissors, we snipped a ribbon on Tuesday and opened an early Christmas present to the city.

This present has been years in the making. It is a new Exit 20. This new southern gateway to our city is now open for business. It is something commuters, truck drivers, industrial leaders and just about everybody in Cleveland has wanted for a long time.

It is easier now to get to and from the Cleveland/Bradley County Industrial Park from APD 40; or get to special events at the Tri-State Exhibition Center, or to the movie theater at that new interchange.

Many of us have sat in traffic waiting our turn to squeeze through the old two-lane bridge to get to the narrow exit ramp to I-75. That's in the past now.

I remember standing beside the pavement with local and state officials and watching eighteen-wheelers trying to make the sharp turn from the old bridge onto the old exit ramp or from the just-as-narrow entrance ramp onto APD 40. Many times, those extended side mirrors on those big trucks were knocked off because of the limited space in which the drivers maneuvered.

Like many others, I have watched the construction process these past few years and anticipated the day our new I-75 Exit 20 interchange would be ready.

Many people helped make possible this new asset to our city. But one of the most persistent has been our state Representative Kevin Brooks. His drive to keep this project headed to reality over the years earned him the nickname of "Mr. Exit 20" around Nashville.

That is why I presented a resolution to our City Council this week asking the Tennessee legislature to name a portion of the interchange, or the whole interchange, whichever the legislators deem to be appropriate, in honor of Kevin Brooks. Your City Council unanimously approved the resolution. So it will be presented in Nashville next year to the General Assembly.

We must thank the Tennessee Department of Transportation and TDOT Commissioner John Schroer for seeing the project through. And thanks goes to state senators Mike Bell and Todd Gardenhire, state Representative Dan Howell and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis for their strong and valuable support.

This new interchange, with its wide, multi-lane and longer exit and entrance ramps to and from I-75 and its wider, multi-lane bridge across the interstate, solves what was once called our biggest transportation problem. It is now an important component in the plans to bring even more economic development to our APD 40 corridor.   

Praise to public service
When we think of police officers and firefighters, our first thoughts are usually about men and women who put themselves between danger and the rest of us.

Whether it is fire, hazardous materials, traffic dangers or criminal activity, our first responders are trained to stop the danger. But there is so much more to what our emergency crews do for the city residents.  In recent weeks both departments have participated in community outreach events far removed from confronting danger. Everybody in these departments are to be commended. Here are some examples of non traditional services the two departments have been offering.

The Cleveland Fire Department at Station Five on Freewill Road is offering an American flag disposal service. Many families and businesses proudly display the red, white and blue. When our U.S. flags become weathered, torn, faded and need to be replaced, there is a proper way to respectfully dispose of them. Most of us are not equipped to do that.

So fold your tattered and faded Old Glory and take it to the receptacle at Station Five. The Fire Department Honor Guard will dispose of the flags in a ceremony that shows the honor and respect Old Glory deserves.  Since the flag service began in October, Station Five has collected over 60 flags.

The Cleveland Police Department conducted a week of programs in criminal justice classes at Cleveland High School to acquaint students with what officers do and the gear they use. Each semester, officers interact with the teenagers in the CHS criminal justice classes. For some kids, it may be an interesting thing to learn about. For others, these sessions may inspire a career.

Our police department recently teamed up with the Bradley County Sheriff's Department to promote a Facebook contest called Selfie With A Cop. By getting the most Facebook "likes," some children won bicycles donated by Appliance Parts Pros to the Fraternal Order of Police. It was a fun contest that introduced more families to our officers.

Both the police and fire departments recently held community forums about the work they do and the qualifications needed to become an officer or firefighter. Both were well attended.

There are more examples where all services in our first responder community go above and beyond the traditional services that we expect from them. We can also proudly say the same thing about our city personnel in other departments too. Many of them have also gone the extra mile, braved the bad weather and overcome the challenges of the past twelve months to make our city the excellent place it is.  That's why the city's employees appreciation luncheon is held this time of year. 

City is filled with Christmas Spirit
We are a City With Christmas Spirit. This first weekend of December is packed with reasons to be in downtown Cleveland.

On Friday evening we will have Carols In The City and the lighting of the community Christmas tree. After the colorful lights on the tree on Broad Street are turned on, the caroling begins. Reverse caroling has become a Cleveland tradition. The audience strolls from one place to another downtown where singers wait to share the music of the season. There will be time to visit Santa and to take a free carriage rides as well. It all takes place downtown between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Saturday is parade day. The parade begins at 6 p.m. and will follow the route we have all become familiar with through downtown. Come out and enjoy the floats, the bands and the marchers.

On Sunday, the 26th annual Classic Christmas Concert begins at 3 p.m. at the Conn Center at Lee University. This year's concert features many different sounds of Christmas from instrumental and choral groups. The Lee Handbell Choir returns after a 20-year hiatus. The concert is free but tickets are required due to limited seating. Call 614-8240 for ticket information.

And after this weekend, many of our churches, schools and civic organizations will be holding their own special events. Support your family and friends by attending as many of these as you can.
The spirit of giving is also part of the season. That means shopping for others. The gifts on your shopping list can all be found at our Cleveland merchants. From the big box stores and national retailers to the smallest mom and pop stores, our city has the merchants who have just the right gifts.

When we shop local, several things happen. We get the gifts we need for those on our Christmas lists. We support the businesses which create and keep local jobs, support community organizations, schools and sports teams. These are the same home folks you will see all year in the list of sponsors for so many special events.Shopping locally means we also contribute to a strong local economy which is the base for all the public services we enjoy.

The spirit of compassion is part of the Christmas season in our city too. Our city already has a reputation for making a difference. Many of us will give some of our time this month to programs that help others. So choose a charity and take an active part in it. 

So may this season be one of reverence, joy and happiness for each one. And remember, in Cleveland it is still okay to say Merry Christmas.

Public Works offers incredible service

The employees of your Department of Public Works offer an incredible service to the citizens of Cleveland this time of year. During leaf collection season, the department aims to collect leaves on a regular schedule along the ten brush and yard debris routes through our city. That's an ambitious goal. During the peak of leaf season they may get a little behind that schedule. That's understandable. Along some of our tree lined streets the mounds of leaves raked to the yards' edge can get very high. Each stop by the trucks along the route takes a little longer.

But it is an extraordinary service those folks offer our city tax payers. Imagine the truck load after truck load of leaves vacuumed up each day! It's a service not every city offers, at least not as often. 

Our citizens take pride in the fact we have been awarded a Tree City USA designation annually for 22 consecutive years by the National Arbor Day Foundation. We have a group of citizen volunteers who serve on our Shade Tree Board. Their task is to help us keep our city tree ordinance in line with the best urban forestry practices. To do that, these volunteers work closely with our urban forestry crew which is a division of our Parks and Recreation Department.
We all know the value of trees. An abundance of trees makes the city more aesthetically pleasing. Their shade reduces energy costs during the summer. The bare branches allows the sun to add warmth to our indoors in winter.

We all need to remember to do our part as the leaves fall. When raking leaves to the curb for collection, remember to keep them away from storm drains. Remember to keep them off the street and avoid creating a traffic hazard.

Our city leaf collection season goes on from October through February. The rest of the year leaves and grass clippings must be bagged for pickup.

 Urban forestry goes beyond the commitment of our city departments. Cleveland Utilities and Cleveland State Community College routinely win recognition for their tree friendly practices.
A beautiful urban forest goes along with a well maintained city landscape. That is where our Landscape Maintenance Division, sometimes called the forestry division, comes in. They maintain our city parks, greenway and rights-of-way. During the cold months they will also be planting new trees in those places.The city Public Works and Landscape Maintenance Division crews take on these autumn tasks each year as they continue all the other projects they do for a growing city like ours. Their work is just one more reason the City With Spirit is a great place to live and work.  

Show our American colors and thank a veteran

Over the next few days there will be more red, white and blue around our city. Veterans Day is Wednesday, November 11. The holiday began in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson declared it a day to remember American sacrifices made in World War I. Germany signed the armistice agreement on the eleventh hour of the eleventh month in 1918. Originally known as Armistice Day, it was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all those who have served in America's armed forces.

Ours is a city with the spirit of patriotism. Flags line our streets on patriotic holidays. Many of our homes and businesses will be displaying America's colors during the days ahead. Many of our schools will have special programs. Watch for these special events and attend if you can.

 Each year our citizens gather at the Bradley County Courthouse to honor our veterans. This tribute has become a tradition in our city. This year we are honored to have Tennessee Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder as our guest and speaker. Commissioner Grinder has been in Cleveland often and we are grateful for her interest.
We are the hometown of thousands of veterans who have served their country in World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. They have stood ready to defend us in peace time or lend a helping hand as National Guards and reservist forces during times of need.

And thanks go to all our veterans organization and to our county veterans services office for the support they provide to the many veterans and their families in our community.

I signed a memo of understanding in October along with Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis reaffirming our city and county commitments of $2 million each to build the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home here. The American Legion signed the memo as well. The American Legion holds in trust the site which was donated by private citizens for the future veterans' home. Thanks go to the American Legion post for carrying out that duty.

 With an added $3 million committed by an anonymous donor, we have a location and the local funds ready to make the veterans home a reality. Last March, a conceptual design was unveiled for a 105-bed home. Federal government funding is the next step.
Our community supports its veterans. The members of the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council, veterans organization's, city and county government and many individuals who take part in fund raisers each year have cooperated to get this far. We all are waiting for the day the construction can begin for a veterans' home that will serve southeast Tennessee.

In the meantime, show those proud colors and thank a veteran for their service.

Unique to Cleveland, Halloween Block Party outgrows alternative to trick-or-treating?

It's nearly time once again for a downtown event that is unique to Cleveland.For 28 Octobers, counting this one, our city has hosted the Halloween Block Party. By now we have young adults who grew up with this downtown tradition.We have become the Halloween capital, thanks to the many people involved.

It began with the Cleveland Police Department handing candy and fruit to children. It quickly outgrew it's simple goal to be a trick-or-treat alternative. It has become a celebration for the entire family.

Now the Halloween Block Party provides a safe and enjoyable evening for the 20,000 or more people who participate each year. That takes a lot of planning and work by many people. The Block Party is a great example of how our community works together. We've seen that cooperation in bad times, like the tornado aftermath several years ago, and in good times too.

Just go to MainStreet Cleveland on the Internet and look at the list of sponsors. I counted twenty-eight, including our highest level sponsors, Mars Chocolate and Check Into Cash, plus banks, businesses, city and county DARE programs, and so many more. Mars Chocolate volunteers have already prepared 10,000 bags of candy to be handed out to children on Treat Street (Church Street at 6 p.m.)

Nine of those twenty eight are in-kind sponsors, including city and county governments, local media and community service organization's. Added to these are the entertainers, the vendors for food, arts and crafts and more. In addition, there are information booths operated by local groups of all kinds.
Maybe even Tall Betsy will be seen making her spooky way through town! After all, she is Bradley County's official spook.

A lot of people are needed to make our block party the success it has become. And it's all coordinated by MainStreet Cleveland.

Our city will be a fun place to be Saturday evening. We all want it to be a safe place too. Outside the Block Party area there will be more pedestrians than usual in our neighborhoods including many children. So please drive slow and with caution. It's reassuring to know our emergency responders, as always, will be available if they are needed. With a little extra caution from all of us, we hope they will not be needed.

Don't forget to put up any pets that might be startled or confused by all the activity going on around them. Also, take care of any objects in the yard that might become obstacles someone could trip over in the dark.

So have a fun and safe Saturday evening and remember, as the Christmas season approaches, there will be much more to see and do downtown.

Make A Difference Day is one more act of a City With Spirit

We have many October traditions in our city and one of them is Make A Difference Day.But a primary national sponsor of Make A Difference Day, USA Weekend, which was included in our Sunday Cleveland Daily Banner, has ceased publication.

The Banner and I however believe Make A Difference Day should live on in our city. So we are promoting it for next Saturday, Oct. 24. Thank you Steve Crass and all your staff.

It is one of the simplest campaigns to take part in. Anybody - a community or civic group, church and scout groups, businesses and corporations, schools, even individuals - can participate. First, find a need. Then make a plan to meet that need. And then follow through with the plan on Saturday. 

As I have said many times over the years, just look out your front door and you are going to find something you can do to help somebody. It may be helping a neighbor with yard work. It could be a neighborhood litter pickup.
Take one more step. Let my office know how you or your group made a difference or plan to make a difference. The project needs to be done on Saturday or by October 31. Call my office at 423-476-8931.We know others will want to continue Make A Difference Day too. We want to keep a ledger of all the good works done in our city this Saturday.

Last year, Cleveland was recognized during a national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. for the many ways our citizens made a difference. More than 800 people took part in a variety of projects. The city was awarded a $10,000 prize which was donated to a local charity. Make A Difference Day is promoted nationally by the Gannett Company, Points Of Light and Newman's Own foundations. Cleveland is familiar with Points Of Light Foundation in other endeavors too. Last Monday I and others took part in Read Across The Globe at E.L. Ross Elementary School. That event promoted reading with children. It is also a Points Of Light project. 

Cleveland's charitable spirit knows no bounds. It includes caring about the well being of a next door neighbor. It can expand to projects around the world, such as People For Care and Learning's work in Cambodia.

One of the great things about our City With Spirit is that individuals and groups of many kinds are always doing things for others; always making a difference. That spirit is evident every day. As part of that spirit of helping others, let's keep Make A Difference Day going strong.

Idol Clark Beckham headlines Halloween Block Party

An amazing number of activities are taking place downtown this month. Our Halloween Block Party will once again be the grand finale for an October filled with reasons to come downtown. The party draws 20,000 people or more to the center of our city each year for treats, costume contests, vendors, Tall Betsy and music. The 28th annual block party is Saturday, October 31, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Treat Street opens for the youngsters at 6 p.m.

And this year's headliner is Lee University's own Clark Beckham and his band. You already know Clark was American Idol 2015 runner up. His two hour concert starts at 8 p.m.

 But before the block party, there 's much more going on downtown. The annual Cleveland Apple Festival is next weekend, October 17 and 18. A non-profit organization, the festival offers family friendly entertainment and a celebration of arts and crafts, food and entertainment that benefits local charities.
MainStreet Cleveland has done an incredible job once again planning a special night. Since 1990, MainStreet Cleveland has been promoting our downtown events, businesses and service organizations. They are among the many special groups that make not only downtown but all of our city a great place to live and work. And then there is the Cleveland Cruse-In on Saturday, October 24, 1-6 p.m. Hundreds of car enthusiasts gather downtown the fourth Saturday during the warm months of the year.

Our city is blessed to have a vibrant downtown. We also have a growing number of shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities throughout Cleveland. Add downtown to this mix and we have a combination that enriches our city's quality of life and energizes our economy.
Just a few days before the Block Party, Bank of Cleveland's main office hosts local story tellers presenting the seventh annual Evening of Mystery And Folklore, October 26 and 27, from 6:30-8:15 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students; on sale now at Bank of Cleveland's Main Office and the Chamber of Commerce.So there is much to see and enjoy downtown this month. And there will be more to come as Christmas approaches.

We are blessed to live in a region with great year round outdoor scenery. It gets even better during this colorful time of year and during the holidays coming soon. But when it comes to celebrations of the seasons, our own downtown has it all.

City workers are transforming 25th Street

The median landscaping on 25th Street has already changed the appearance of one of our city's busiest gateways. The latest section, between Georgetown and Peerless roads, was finished this past summer. Our city crews worked through the cold last winter and the hot days of summer to complete the job.

What was once a deep drainage ditch bordered by grass and weeds is now basically a rain garden. Beneath a layer of decorative rock, crepe myrtles and other shrubbery, are layers of sand, gravel and drainage pipes. The landscaping is designed to slow down floodwater and direct it away from the street. That aspect of the design was put to the test last week during the heavy rains.

With funding from a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant and from our city, Public Works along with Parks and Recreation crews were able to install the latest median work.
The design also has public safety in mind. Less water standing on the pavement means safer driving, although drivers must always exercise extreme caution in bad weather. The rocky groundcovering also reduces the need for mowers in the median, another safety advantage.

And as those crepe myrtles and other flowering shrubs grow and bloom, that rocky bed will become less noticeable. We are already seeing that on the older section of the median makeover, from Peerless Road to Keith Street, completed in 2011.

And along with everything else going on, 25th Street from Spring Creek to Cleveland Middle School on Georgetown Road has been resurfaced. We are grateful for TDOT's consideration to our businesses and motorists for conducting that repaying during the overnight hours.

But much more has been going on around 25th Street. TDOT is adding extra lanes at the I-75 interchange. A decorative wall will be added in the near future where exiting traffic from the interstate turns onto 25th Street. Like the median landscaping, the wall will be designed to improve the appearance at this very busy front door to our city.

At times, traffic has been observed backing up to I-75 from the exit lane at that intersection. These new lanes should alleviate that dangerous situation.

Our city is also adding some turn space at Georgetown Road and 25th Street. The turn lane from 25th onto Peerless Road has been extended too.

All this work is meant to ease traffic, improve safety, create a pleasing gateway and support the businesses along the 25th Street corridor.

The relationship between our citizens and their police is strong
Over 300 people came to this year's Cleveland 100 dinner to honor those brave and dedicated men and women who serve us all through our community's emergency services.

The dinner, held this year at Lee University, brought together some of the extraordinary people from Cleveland and Bradley County's law enforcement, fire and rescue and emergency medical services. These are the people dedicated to keeping us safe and sometimes risking their own lives to do so.

They are the reason the late Courtney McGrady and I began a program 19 years ago. The purpose is to financially help the families during those tragic times when one of our heroes falls in the line of duty. Cleveland 100 members contribute $100 each year to the fund. Corporations give $1,000.

This year we recognized two city police officers, Jacob Varnell and Jody Musselwhite. Their response last summer to a dangerous kidnapping situation put them in harm's way but saved the lives of five people, including three children. The officers were attacked as they freed kidnapped victims.

Thank you to all the individuals and businesses whose contributions support these families.

Cleveland 100 also provides a way for all our community to come together to honor the courage and commitment of our first responders.

The Citizens Hero Award was given to Jillian Leigh Davis, who was one of the victims who took heroic action herself.On Monday the City Council room was filled as family and friends gathered to see Mark Gibson take the oath of office as our police chief. We wish all the best for Chief Gibson.

The fact that there were many more recognitions during the dinner, in addition to these, is a testament to how well our community is served by all our city and county emergency services. 

And the fact that so many people attended the dinner to applaud these heroes shows our community's deep support. After the oath ceremony, Chief Gibson took part in recognizing other officers for recent lifesaving actions. Some new officers were sworn in. And two veteran officers were recognized for their years of service to our youth.

The relationship between our citizens and their police is strong. And last week, about 83 people came to a community meeting for people interested in police careers. The encouraging news is that it was a diverse crowd that came out to ask questions and learn more about police work.

All of these events underscore the fact that many of our best citizens put on our city's uniform every day and take on the job of looking out for the rest of us.

We are a prosperous and blessed city with a heart to help others reach their home ownership goalsSeptember has been a month of good news for our citizens who need some help acquiring a home of their own or assistance making the home they already have more energy efficient.

Our friends at the Tennessee Valley Authority announced that Cleveland Utilities and United Way of Bradley County's Impact Cleveland will receive $3.75 million for energy conservation work in older homes in the Blythe Oldfield neighborhoods.

The award comes through TVA's Smart Communities Extreme Energy Makeovers project and will benefit some 300 households in the Blythe area neighborhoods. Those folks will benefit from reduced energy costs thanks to the cooperative effort by Cleveland Utilities, Impact Cleveland and TVA. Blythe area residents are already making a big difference in their historic communities.

They are to be commended for their enthusiasm and hard work. Recipients will be announced and projects will begin in April, 2016. These projects will add value to older homes, some built in the 1920s.

Meanwhile this month the volunteers of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland marked their organization's 25th anniversary by building their 124th home. Habitats volunteer and aspiring homeowners have been a vital part of what makes Cleveland a great place to live. Our local Habitat organization was organized by men in a Sunday School class at Broad Street United Methodist Church in 1990. Showing their Cleveland Spirit, other long term partners — Ocoee Region Builders Association, Pyramid Construction, First Cumberland Church — have been part of many projects over the years, including the latest one.

The Cleveland Housing Authority, CLEAResult, the City of Cleveland and The Home Depot also joined the effort. 

Plus, 26 community leaders pledged to raise funds to go towards the Blitz Build in honor of their personal Habitat Heroes.
When our citizens' spirit of compassion combines with our enthusiasm for a job well done, the result is always good news for all of us.

Both of these stories are examples of that Cleveland Spirit. We are a prosperous and blessed city with a heart to help others reach their own goals.

Cleveland 100 supports those who serve with bravery
Just a week ago, our nation marked the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Our community preserved the day with prayer. We took time to thank our own first responders for standing ready to serve each and every day.

We are a city grateful for their service. Our city has the only monument in the state that combines all emergency services in a tribute to those who have fallen in the line of duty.

Thanks to intensive training and the best equipment our city can provide, the men and women who answer our calls for help can safely meet the challenges. We pray that they can always return to their loved ones at the end of each shift.

But a tragedy can happen. A few times, it has happened. What then?

The late Courtney McGrady and I discussed this years ago. We founded Cleveland 100 in 1996 to provide immediate financial support for the dependents of those first responders lost in the line of duty. The fund has been used three times, to help the families of Sgt. Scott M. Berry, Bradley County Volunteer Fireman who lost his life in 1997; Cleveland Police Lt. Kenneth Simpson, 2008; and Cleveland Police Officer Justin Maples in 2012.

Cleveland 100 also has a scholarship program through Cleveland State Community College to benefit children and families of those who were lost. It also offers education scholarships to high school students seeking an emergency services career, or to first responders seeking further education. 

Membership to Cleveland 100 is by private donors who give $100 a year to the organization for its Fallen Heroes Fund. Corporate members give $1,000 a year for membership.
The Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner is funded by sponsors and private donations, and membership dues are not used. They are used only to assist families of fallen heroes.

Next Wednesday, Cleveland 100 will hold its annual meeting and awards dinner at Lee University. There will be special recognition for members of our emergency services.
Tennessee Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn, accepted my invitation to come and honor our very special heroes.

Next year Cleveland 100 will have its 20th anniversary year. It's longevity is also a community monument to our commitment to support those who serve us with such bravery.

My thanks also goes to those who serve with me on the Cleveland 100 Board, Brenda Lawson, president; Joe Wilson, vice president; Zandra Welch, secretary; and Kelvin Bishop, treasurer, along with Stephen Crass, Jeff Cunningham, David Gilbert, John Holden, Janey Patten, Drew Robinson, Scott Taylor and Angie Underwood, daughter of the McGradys.

 Shared compassion makes Cleveland a desirable place to liveOne fact that makes our city such a desirable place to live is the spirit of compassion we share.

Throughout the year many events take place in Cleveland when our people demonstrate their willingness to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. People here reach out a helping hand and make a difference in someone else's life.

Dwelling Place Church International and the DPCI Life Clinic plus volunteers from other organizations will be following that commandment Saturday at the third annual free medical clinic.
Sandra and I are proud to be asked to be the honorary chairpersons again this year. Event coordinators are Toni Miles and Dwelling Place Church Pastor Jamie Tuttle and his wife Judy Jacobs-Tuttle. They have inspired others and impacted lives here and the surrounding area for years now. Their community partners for this clinic include the Blythe Avenue Family Support Center, the Bradley County Health Department, Memorial Hospital Mammograms, Operation Compassion, United Health Care, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Divine Design, Signal Health Center and St. Mary's Legacy Medical Mobile from Knoxville. These partners, along with STAR Touring and the Feed the Children Program and our volunteers providing medical and other services are to be commended for coming together for this event. By reaching out and providing free medical services to anyone regardless of income, age or nationality, they are truly being God's hands extended in our city. Those hands also reach into our neighboring communities where there are people with medical, spiritual and other needs. The clinic is held at the Family Support Center at 1075 Blythe Avenue S.E. beginning at 10 a.m. Ours is a prosperous city with outstanding opportunities for careers and businesses. Many find great jobs in our industries. It is a place where many people achieve success. As a result, ours is also a city where people believe in giving back to the community. That is why we have so many wonderful volunteers for events like this.
 Recently more than 700 people from our community and even many other states came to the Remote Area Medical Clinic for medical, vision and dental services. Saturday's Free Medical Clinic is just one more example of why we are A City With Spirit.

City offers opportunities, support for job holders, job seekers and job creators

A frequent comment made by people who bring a new industry or business to our city or expand an existing one is that we have a great workforce.
They are correct. Our city has been a leading American manufacturing center for well over a century now, thanks to local entrepreneurs and great workers. We remain a leading source for many products for national and world markets.

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, although it has a few weeks left on the calendar. Labor Day is also the day we celebrate the achievements of American workers who built the world's strongest economy.

We don't have to look very far to see how that happened. Cleveland and Bradley County is home to 13 Fortune 500 companies and home to people with a strong work ethic.

Our city has a can-do spirit and a spirit of pride in a job well done. And the good news is our city spirit continues in a new era with a new generation and new technology. 

Our Chamber of Commerce's Workforce Development Program plays an important role. Its job shadowing project lets high school juniors learn about careers that interest them by "shadowing" people working in those careers. Through the Teachers Academy, classroom teachers each summer get workplace experience related to the subjects they teach. And our local businesses and industries partner with our schools in the BEST (Business and Education Serving Together) program.

There are other programs too, like the Youth Leadership and the Career Fair for ninth graders. Our classrooms prepare our future citizens for 21st Century jobs. Just one of many examples is Cleveland High School's broadcasting program being recognized this summer as the nation's best.

Beyond the classroom, our community offers support for career and job skills development too. Recently the Tennessee Career Center, a service of the Tennessee Department of Labor, moved onto the campus of Cleveland State Community College. It offers help searching for a new job or writing a resume and other job related skills.

In the same building is ?the Cleveland State OneSource Workforce Readiness Center, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center and the entrance to the Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator. So our city offers opportunities and support for job holders, job seekers and job creators.We still want passenger rail service

The last time anyone could board a passenger train in our city was the 1970s.

Passenger rail service through Southeast Tennessee, including Cleveland and Chattanooga, is still a good idea, just as it always was.
There has been some renewed discussion lately about possible passenger rail service returning to the area someday.

In the 1990s the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, and I started an effort to bring passenger service back. The proposal to Amtrak then was a route through western Virginia to Bristol then Knoxville, Cleveland, Chattanooga and Atlanta. Our efforts included many trips to Washington and meetings in Blacksburg, Va., and in Chattanooga and three in Cleveland. One of those Cleveland meetings was in November 1995 and included representatives from Knoxville, Bristol and Roanoke.
But Amtrak needed money for equipment and rolling stock. And there was concern that passenger trains would reduce the time those same rail routes were available for freight service through the region.In recent months, however, Amtrak announced plans to extend passenger service from Lynchburg down to Roanoke. News reports in Virginia indicate this service is expected in 2017.

That news has renewed interest and hopes here that passenger service could return here in the future. One idea that has been raised is Amtrak service from Louisville, Ky. through Bristol and Chattanooga to Atlanta. If or when Amtrak comes to our region, we want Cleveland to be included.
Earlier this month, the Cleveland Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization discussed the latest Amtrak news. Our MPO includes both Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and me as chairman as well as representatives from the Southeast Tennessee Human Resources Agency and the governor's office.

Our MPO is responsible for transportation planning. We unanimously approved a resolution expressing our desire that Cleveland be included in any future regional passenger rail planning. The resolution asks Tennessee to begin planning for the possibility of expanded rail passenger service in our state, including Cleveland.

Our city's early history is linked to both freight and passenger rail service. We all know that freight rail service has always been important to our city's economy. It still is.

Like our neighboring cities, including Chattanooga and Knoxville, it has now been decades since we could board a passenger train here and ride to other places in our country. We still want that service that many people remember to return.

Lee University takes an historic step

About this time last year, we celebrated the opening of Lee University's Communications Arts Building and Pangle Hall. During their first year, both of these additions have already proven how valuable they are to students and the community.

Lee's phenomenal campus growth is a reflection of its strong, national academic reputation.

Once again, as a new academic year begins, Lee takes another historic step. Lee has been in the process of becoming part of the NCAA, Division II. That process is now completed. Beginning September 1, Lee's student athletes are competing in the Gulf South Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Division II. It is a conference that includes universities in five southern states; Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee.

The NCAA decision ends a provisional year for Lee after two candidacy years beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. Beginning in September, all Lee varsity teams will have full membership and be eligible for post season play in their new conference and the NCAA.
Congratulations to Lee's athletes, the Lee University Athletics Department and University President Paul Conn for successfully completing a multi-year process that led to this success.

Lee is known nationally as a university that offers great opportunities for its students in many academic fields. Its student athletes likewise have already won a reputation as first class competitors. This move to the NCAA gives the athletes in Lee's many sports programs an opportunity to take their games to the next competitive level. The move offers exciting new levels of competition for fans too.

Lee was in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) for 39 years. The schools in that conference are great schools and were great competitors.
Our city benefitted from all those visiting teams and their fans. But Cleveland will be introduced now to visiting teams, families and fans from a new set of universities and colleges across the South.

But like those young people who are arriving on campus now for the next significant chapter in their lives, it was time for the university to move ahead with the next chapter in its athletic history. Lee is to be commended for seeking a higher competitive level while keeping its already high scholastic level for student athletes.

So the 2015-2016 school year begins at Tennessee's second largest private university. It is going to be an exciting year, and an historic one.

Firefighters must be ready for any situation

Among the 266 calls answered by the Cleveland Fire Department in July included 15 fires and a woman who went to Station No. 3 with a ring stuck on her finger.

 The crew of Bradley County EMS Unit 503, which was at the station, used its ring cutter to remove the ring from her finger and with that, Engine No. 3 and EMS Unit 503 returned to service.
Firefighters assist the public in many other ways besides fighting fires. Though rescuing cats from trees fall under the duties of Animal Control, city firefighters would assist with a rescue if called upon. Because of the myriad of situations in which firefighters could find themselves, they never stop training and never stop learning how to protect and extract the public and themselves from danger.

Four new employees begin their training in August. The 480-hour academy in covers such topics as basic fire suppression, hazardous materials, vehicle rescue, and medical first responder training and end with the student "falling" into a swimming pool while dressed out in full bunker gear.

In July, the department's veteran personnel logged a cumulative attendance of 1,290 in 290 classes totaling 2,410 hours of training.

 In July, fire runs accounted for only 5.6 percent of the total incidents but accounted for 97 percent of about $333,678 in property damage. Exactly 50 percent of the calls (133) were in the category of "Rescue and Emergency Medical Service Incidents."
Of the emergency medical service calls, 35 were reports of chest pain/cardiac arrest; 21 for difficulty breathing/respiratory arrest; 20 were classified as unresponsiveness/unknown/person down.

 False alarms accounted for 22.5 percent of July activity (60 calls). Of those, there were 15 alarm system activations, 12 smoke detector activations and 11 alarm system malfunctions.  

City finance staff cited for 'excellence' for 27th consecutive year

Winning a prestigious annual award for excellence is a challenging thing to do. Receiving that same award for 27 consecutive years is a great achievement.

That is what your city financial staff has done. Cleveland has received its 27th consecutive certificate for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. The GFOA is an association of government financial officers across the United States and Canada.
In a letter to City Finance Director and City Clerk Shawn McKay, Stephen J. Gauthier, director of GFOA's Technical Services Center, wrote that the certificate is the "highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting."

We are proud of our city's public servants whose many hours of hard work is reflected by this award. Our city's finance team has done an excellent job, just as they and others in the past have done for more than two and a half decades.

Their recognition is good news for our citizens as well. The GFOA established the CAFR (Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting) program to encourage local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles. It encourages transparency. The goal is to ensure that users of the city's financial statement have the information they need.

GFOA's panel of experts review the financial reports of many local governments each year before recognizing those that clearly inform the public.

In the readers' guide at the start of this year's financial report, it says "this budget document has been organized with the main purpose being to make it user friendly." The budget staff means that sincerely.

The city staff members who work on our report each year have done just that. In fact, our city has been presented with this certificate for several years going back to 1983, before this 27-year winning streak began.

The current budget and financial report, plus those for the past ten years, is available at your city website,, then click on "Departments" and then "Finance."

 Great strides made in city school system
The new school year will be starting in a few days. And while students have been away for at least part of the summer, a lot has been happening in our Cleveland City School System.Great strides have been made in the construction of Raider Arena. The work has reached a point now where weather will no longer be a major factor.

It is exciting and gratifying to watch a new venue for community events, sports competitions and future graduations taking shape. Raider Arena will be just one more reason for community pride in our schools.

As we all know, it takes more than good facilities to make a great school system. Great things happen inside our schools every day as well. We were reminded of that just a few weeks ago with the success of CHS's broadcasting program. The National Federation of State High School Associations named the CHS program the best in the nation.

CHSLive was recognized for the quality of the student productions, the diversity and number of broadcast events and more. No doubt about it, some great broadcast journalism careers are beginning right now on Raider Drive!

And there is more to celebrate as a new school year begins. The F.I. Denning Center of Technology and Careers will be dedicated on Sunday, August 2. The Denning Center is a hybrid non-traditional school that replaces the Teen Learning Center. It is named for former City Schools Director Rick Denning.

And in June, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the nine finalists for 2015-2016 Teacher of The Year. Among them is our own Adam Moss at Arnold Memorial Elementary School.

Adam was named Southeast Tennessee Teacher of the Year this summer, the third consecutive year a Cleveland City Schools teacher has received the honor.City Schools Director Dr. Martin Ringstaff is correct when he says the city has amazing teachers who are constantly raising the bar.

So our school system has been working towards a new sports facility, a new teaching concept in a renewed school and celebrating the state recognition of another great teacher. It's been a wonderful summer!Now, our thoughts and prayers are directed to our students, their families, our teachers and school administrators for a new year of success and learning. 

Lowered flags honor Chattanooga dead

Our flags have been at half staff this week to honor the lives of four United States marines and one United States sailor who died in last week's Chattanooga attacks.

 A week ago today, a lone gunman shot them and others at two locations. We honor the memories of Lance Cpl. Squire Wells, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Sgt. Carson Holmquist and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt who died during the attack. We also honor Petty Officer Second Class Randall Smith who died two days later from his wounds.
It would have been a tragedy if they had lost their lives in a war zone. Some of them, in fact, had served recently in combat. That they died just a few miles from our own city limits, brought a deep shock to us all.We commend the law enforcement officers whose valor, professionalism and quick action saved their city from even more carnage.

The shock and horror of that day affected our own community. When word that shots might have been fired at Bradley Square Mall began to spread through our city, our Cleveland Police quickly responded. The rumor proved to be untrue.

The Cleveland Police Department, plus the S.W.A.T Team, Bradley County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol secured the mall, the surrounding businesses and parking lots. Military members at a recruiting office were escorted to their vehicles as a safety measure.

The Cleveland Fire Department, Bradley County EMS, the Southeast Tennessee Drug Task Force responded as well. Then, along with mall security and maintenance staff, the emergency personnel searched the entire mall interior.

The combined force spent a long, hot and tense afternoon, just to be sure all of us remained safe. We thank them for their bravery and their caution. They train many hours to be ready to serve and their readiness was reassuring to us all on that terrible day.

I commend area institutions who locked down their facilities until authorities could rule out any danger here. I ask Clevelanders to keep the families of the fallen in their prayers, as well as the family of the shooter and the Chattanooga police officer and others who were wounded.

We must always be thankful for the service of our city's own emergency responders and our community's own men and women in the military.

Our flags have been at half staff this week to salute those who died last week so near us. One week day for each of the five men. After Friday, those flags will be raised proudly to their full height again to remind us we are the land of the free because we are the home of the brave.   

City of Cleveland has a new flag

Our city now has a flag of its own. In another month or so, the flag should be flying at the municipal building. Our city flag will also be displayed inside the City Council meeting room and at the Greenway Park.
The flag is just one recent step towards bringing a new and updated look to our city icons. Earlier this year a group of University of Tennessee students studied the people, history and images of Cleveland as part of a rebranding plan and a future marketing effort. The students were part of UT's Smart Communities Initiative.

As a result of the SCI students' rebranding work, our city has begun the long process of securing a trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for two versions of a new logo. The patent process is so extensive it could take a year to complete.

Just a few years ago, our citizens took part in a slogan contest. The City Council picked the winner, "The City With Spirit," from many ideas submitted by the public. That slogan is already a part of our city's identity.

The city seal, the logo, the motto and the flag play important roles as symbols of our city. They are visual and verbal images and statements of who we are. They are a shorthand that says "Cleveland" when printed on paper or published on line. Which is why our flag committee, Cameron Fisher, Melissa Woody and Vice Mayor George Poe considered several designs before recommending options to the City Council.

The Chattanooga City Council changed their city's flag in 2012. They replaced a 1933 flag design with one that shows their city seal on a background that features a blue horizontal stripe (representing the Tennessee River) and green stripes above and below the blue stripe (representing the mountains).

This is our first city flag. At its center is the Cleveland City Seal. The images in the seal represent our city's commitment to commerce and education. These are core values Cleveland has upheld since its earliest days. The Cherokee Chieftain image on the seal is a statement of our respect for the past. The flag's background is a dark blue. Over the top of the seal is the city slogan.

The Cleveland flag has some features in common with other Tennessee cities. The Nashville and Davidson County flag and the Memphis flag also features their local seals.We thank the committee. Their work gives us a new way to show our spirit.

Cleveland: A host city

Every day, our city is hosting visitors. They may be here to visit family and friends or to attend a business meeting, a Lee University, Cleveland State or church event or to just enjoy our scenery.This week is a great example with two events taking place.

Twenty young ladies from across the state are in town for the Distinguished Young Women of Tennessee scholarship competition. They are staying with local host families and making special visits to places like Garden Plaza, Bradley Square Mall, the greenway, Cleveland State and the competition site - Lee University's Dixon Center.

Next Saturday and Sunday our community will welcome back the Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps, or RAM. Volunteer dental, medical and eye health providers will set up shop for two days at Walker Valley High School to provide their services to those who have no means to pay.

Some of the volunteer professionals are from our own community. The clinic will be assisted by many many other volunteers from our city and surrounding area. They will be providing transportation, running errands, directing patients and bringing food donated by yet more people from our community. The two groups of volunteers will total nearly 200 people. Over 900 people are expected to drive here for medical and dental help during the two days.
The local volunteers are great ambassadors representing our city. Their spirit of compassion and volunteerism are on display to many hundreds of people from around the country.

Headquartered in Rockford, Tennessee, a small town in Blount County, RAM conducts these clinics across the country and in other parts of the world. They have been in Cleveland several times before, setting up at Bradley Central or Cleveland high schools.
We have hosted visitors to other big events this year as well, beginning in March when the Tennessee Society of the Sons of the American Revolution held their annual state convention here. That convention's activities included events at the Museum Center at Five Points and Red Clay State Park.

These are just three examples that illustrate the great variety of events our city is capable of hosting. Our city is an increasingly attractive venue not only for shopping, dining, movies and music but a great meeting place too.

City With Spirit has strong link to Spirit of '76

Colonel Benjamin Cleveland never visited our city. He passed away before Cleveland, Tennessee was founded and named for him. The colonel was one of the leaders of patriot forces at the important Revolutionary War battle at Kings Mountain in North Carolina.
But no doubt the colonel would be pleased these days with his namesake city. As we approach another Independence Day and the founding of our country, the Spirit of '76 is alive and well here.

This weekend there will be special worship services, patriotic music and a giant fireworks display. Many of our homes and businesses are flying the American flag. The red, white and blue is everywhere around here.

Many people will buy and enjoy fireworks of their own. Just be sure to observe fireworks safety rules and keep this Fourth of July celebration joyous. A lot of us will be traveling to friends and relatives or to our parks and nearby rivers and mountains this weekend. Again, please have a safe holiday.

The fine men and women who serve us as first responders will be on the job this holiday weekend looking out for our community's safety and well being. We thank them for that service.

Other men and women from our hometown will be on duty with our nation's military this holiday, protecting those very freedoms we are celebrating.

We are a community where many of our civic and sports events, business and government meetings begin with the Star Spangled Banner or a recitation of The Pledge of Allegiance.

This weekend's activities celebrate the freedoms we have as our inalienable rights. Freedoms founded by a generation of Americans 250 years ago and strengthened by the courage of so many others since then. Every time we express an opinion, worship God, cast a vote, choose a school, seek a court decision and so much more, we are exercising those freedoms.

Col. Ben might also be pleased that his namesake city has a statue in his honor in our First Street Square. Our City With Spirit has a strong link to the Spirit of '76.  

Cleveland is among the best for business start-ups

It seems like every week one or more businesses open their doors to the public for the first time in our city. Those ribbon cutting ceremonies and other grand opening events are indicators of a strong local economy.
NerdWallet, a San Francisco based Internet company that focuses on consumer economics, last week ranked Cleveland among the best cities in Tennessee to start a new business. They ranked us fourteenth out of 85 cities and towns they studied.

The report looked at data showing the average revenue of businesses, the percentage of businesses with paid employees and the number of businesses for each 100 people. Median annual income, monthly housing costs and the unemployment rate were other factors they considered.

Fourteenth is a high ranking but we believe our city will grow higher in future rankings. This study comes almost a year after another NerdWallet report placed us at number seven on a list of Tennessee cities "on the rise."

In that 2014 report, NerdWallet said median income growth earned Cleveland that high ranking for growth. It cited small businesses and tourism as leading the way in Cleveland's economic progress.

The report noted we have many resources including the Cleveland/Bradley Business Incubator, which offers new businesses low-cost office space, technology services, advertising and assistance from the Tennessee Small Business Development Center.

Our community encourages new, and established, businesses in many ways through local government and our Chamber of Commerce. The latest NerdWallet study found we have 4,356 businesses here, or a ratio of one business to about ten people. And we continue to see reports of new restaurants and shops opening their doors, including some this month. It is good when someone from far away recognizes the positive things taking place in our city. Small businesses are finding Cleveland and the surrounding region a good place to do business for the same reasons large industries have been attracted here.
A strong workforce, great schools, a great quality of life and consumers who support their local businesses are all part of the mix that gives entrepreneurs and corporate leaders confidence in our city.

Cleveland is growing greener
Over the years, our city has not only grown and prospered; it has gotten greener.

Just a few weeks ago, the very first Cleveland Recycle 5K attracted an impressive number of runners and walkers to the greenway. An amazing amount of recyclable material was collected as the entry "fee" for this event.
The venue for this run/walk was the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway, a linear park which has become an environmentally friendly feature through our city. Its popularity, and length, is still growing.

Just a few years ago, the city added a new downtown park, First Street Square. It has become the home for a downtown farmers' market and live outdoor summer music events.

And of course another new downtown park is still to come. Taylor Spring, being planned now, will celebrate our city's beginnings and the water source that attracted people here in the first place.

 With our city's recent green history, it was especially gratifying last week to accept the Tennessee Municipal Leagues' "Excellence In Green Leadership" award. The award was presented during the 76th Annual TML Conference in Nashville.
The award highlights Cleveland's partnership with other organizations to create a city where many people want to live, work and do business. Among the partners are Cleveland State Community College, Tennessee Valley Authority's Green Power Switch and Tree City USA.

Cleveland is also part of a network of 92 city and county mayors and businesses called the Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council. The council's mission is to promote and connect renewable energy with economic development and energy efficiency in Tennessee communities.

Cleveland, Cleveland State and Cleveland Utilities have consistently been recognized over the years for promoting a tree friendly environment.Our city has often shown its spirit of innovation the past few years when it comes to strengthening our economy and benefiting our environment. We have a new industrial park that was designed for maximum business use while protecting local creeks. We also work closely with Keep America Beautiful on local projects.

For all these reasons and more, we are not only a green city but a green leader.

City police, firefighters show courage, compassion

Two recent news stories illustrate the compassion and courage of our city's police officers and firefighters.Three Cleveland Police Department officers were credited in May with saving the life of a woman who was suffering from a seizure.

Alerted by a neighbor of the woman, officers Nicholas Lorenzano, Anthony Cochran and Stephen Warner responded to the call. The sound of moaning and someone struggling to breathe could be heard inside the house, according to the news reports. There was no response to efforts to get someone to come to the door.

The officers forced their way inside and found a woman lying face down and unresponsive. They called the Bradley County Emergency Medical Service and started CPR. The woman survived, thanks to alert neighbors plus officers trained to expect the unexpected.
A similar story happened a few days later, this time involving the Cleveland Fire Department. Firefighters responded to an automatic home alarm. They could smell smoke coming from the house. Searching inside they found a sleeping woman and a small kitchen fire. The fire was put out. The woman was treated at the scene by the emergency medical service. Her two pets also were treated too. Everybody was okay.

These stories show how the dedication by our city's officers and firefighters to continuous training pays off. Their goal is to be ready for whatever situation they may face, to act quickly and professionally. It could be a tragic car crash, a medical emergency or a hazardous materials situation.

Not long ago our Fire Department and the Bradley County Emergency Medical Service teamed up with Whirlpool for an extensive training drill. They were able to refine skills that we pray will never be needed except as a training exercise.

Our Police Department keeps officers up to date on law enforcement topics and community relations. It has been certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement since 2009. It is one of only a few departments in Tennessee that has achieved this high level of certification.
There are many other stories of dedication to public service by the men and women who wear our city's uniforms. Some of them make the news. Some do not. But the preparedness of all our community's first responders is good news for all of us.

City gateway gets new look

One of our city's major gateways is in the process of getting a new look, thanks to the hard work of the Cleveland Public Works Department and the Forestry Division of the Parks and Recreation Department.Anyone exiting I-75 at 25th Street and going towards town, has seen the new shrubbery being planted that in a short time will beautify the median between the Georgetown Road and Peerless Road intersections. Beneath the median are layers of sand and gravel designed to collect rainwater. This system is designed to control stormwater runoff in an environmentally friendly way.

The first phase of this project was done in 2011 between the 25th Street intersections at Peerless Road and Keith Street. It shows passers by how this new section will eventually look.The third and final phase, according to the plan, will be between Keith Street and Spring Creek Crossing. There is no date scheduled for this final phase.

The work for the second phase began last January and continued as weather permitted. Our thanks go to motorists for their patience along one of our busiest streets while the work is taking place. We appreciate the tolerance of merchants in the area too.

We all recognize the hard work of the city crews who are making it all happen. They have many year-round tasks to perform, and keeping up the city's great appearance is just one of them.

Homeowners know the challenge of maintaining just a small part of our city's outdoor environment. Our city crews, along with codes enforcement officers, are tasked with keeping the whole city looking good.

Fortunately we are blessed with many businesses and institutions that also place a high importance on their outside appearance. We should always keep in mind that the next visitor may be a future resident or a future business owner. Along with being good for our economy, a great appearance enhances the quality of life for everybody.That's why the Cleveland Bradley County Keep America Beautiful presents monthly and quarterly awards recognizing the neighborhoods and businesses that help our city look it's best.

So whenever a project comes along that enhances our city plus provides an important benefit like controlling stormwater runoff, like the work on 25th Street, everybody wins.

Saluting Our Veterans

Some day soon, pause and read a name or two on the monuments at the courthouse. Some of the names may already be familiar. Those names represent stories of bravery shown by people from our community who made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.
Last Monday many of us gathered at the courthouse plaza to remember those heroes. The names, from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq echoed through our city once again, as they should each year on Memorial Day.

The number of young people either attending or participating in this annual event is especially encouraging. The U.S.Naval Sea Cadets presented the colors. Drummers and buglers from the Cleveland High School Band provided the musical inspiration. Several days earlier Boy Scouts placed American flags at each grave in the Veterans Cemetery section at Fort Hill.

The presence of our youth at events like this is a good indication for our nation's future.

The ladies of the Aldersgate Garden Club read the names of our fallen. It was my honor to read aloud the names of our veterans who passed away since the last Memorial Day.

Our congratulations goes to Robert Lee Goins, recipient of this year's Bill Norwood Award for service to veterans. He was recognized for his tireless maintenance work at the veterans section at Fort Hill Cemetery. The award was presented by the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council.
A survey made several years ago for the Council indicated there are many thousands of veterans who live in or near our city. Many of our sons and daughters are serving our country this day. The Spirit of '76 is certainly alive and well in our City With Spirit.

Which is why our community continues to plan for the day we will have a veterans home here to serve southeast Tennessee. A sign is now in place at the location on Westland Drive off APD 40 announcing the future home for veterans. Last month the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council was shown an architect's conceptual drawing of how the home will look.
The land has been donated and local funds have been committed. When federal funds become available, we will be able to make this community dream come true.

The Old Woolen Mill
One of Cleveland's most recognized landmarks, the Old Woolen Mill, is being transformed for the city's future.

About 125 years ago, Hardwick Woolen Mill began providing jobs for Cleveland families. Now, in a new century, the Old Woolen Mill, under the ownership of Dr. Ron Coleman, is the center of attention again.
A group of architect students recently presented their ideas on what the future could look like for the landmark on South Church Street.

The students, from UT's master's degree program for architects, spent months studying each of the buildings that make up the mill. They looked at forecasts for our city's future growth and needs. They worked closely with Dr. Coleman.

The presentations took place in the oldest part of the mill, built around 1890. The ground level already has an active events center and some commercial tenants. The second floor of that section is being prepared for four more tenants.

As each of the young architects made their presentations, a very interesting picture emerged. They envisioned the Old Woolen Mill as a place for apartments, a boutique hotel, a restaurant, a micro-brewery, artist studios and exhibition spaces. Their drawings show green spaces, open areas linked to the creek or, in the future, to the greenway.

Dr. Coleman's work is a reminder of what can happen when a community comes together to make a dream become a reality. Nearly fifty years ago, Colonel James F. Corn recognized the significance of another Bradley County location and purchased it to preserve it. We know it now as the Red Clay State Historic Area.

The Old Woolen Mill is already a place for community events. Many others now are looking at the Old Woolen Mill of the future as a venue attracting more people downtown for meetings, social events, dining and living. The students from UT were part of the university's new program called Smart Communities Initiative. During an academic year, hundreds of students from many different studies work closely with one local government or other entity on a wide variety of projects.

Watch for a final report from UT later this year on this unique one year partnership with our city.

A Caring Spirit

A Cleveland-based organization is doing an extraordinary thing. They are building an entirely new town in Cambodia.

People For Care and Learning started its Build A City project in Andong, Phnom Penh, Cambodia three years ago. They are closing in on their goal of 1,000 homes for people who once lived in a garbage dump. With 800 homes soon to be completed, they have just about reached Phase II of that goal. Future plans include some amenities like a sports center and a learning center.

Many people in our city have contributed funds to this project. Several years ago, we became a sister city with Andong, just outside the capital city of Phnom Penh, to help the project.

Early next month, a group from our city and around the country will be going to Cambodia to take part in the celebration of our sister city's achievements so far. This group will be great representatives of our nation, state, county and city.

Of course we already know about People For Care and Learning. Their volunteers built the playground and park on the Greenway Park at Raider Drive. They are currently building the outdoor stage on that site too.

People For Care and Learning will later be building another greenway restroom facility. A groundbreaking event was held earlier this year for that project.
The work of People For Care and Learning reminds us once again how blessed we are to live in a city with spirit — both a spirit and a heart for people in our own neighborhoods and even halfway around the world. We see it all the time from our businesses, churches, clubs and ordinary people, including our young people. Many Cleveland High School environmental science class students volunteered part of their weekend last Saturday to pick trash out of the creek along a portion of the greenway that we all enjoy.

The spirit of pride in our city and caring for others has a bright future with young people like these. We are indeed a City With Spirit and we express it in many incredible ways. 

Cleveland Summers

Look no further than our city for a great summer this year. In fact, a full calendar of events has already begun.

Many people took part last weekend in "Chalk The Walk" on the greenway or "It's All About The Green" at Cleveland State. Look for other events coming to the greenway this summer. A walk on the greenway during any season is an event itself.

 Downtown will be busy the rest of the year too. Main Street Cleveland kicks off its season on April 25 with the Main Street Cruise-In. It's a great way, on the fourth Saturday afternoon each month through October to spend some time downtown. Main Street Cleveland's farmers' market returns in June for the garden growing season, each Thursday, 4 to 7 p.m. at First Street Square.

Main Street Cleveland's lineup keeps things happening downtown all the way to Christmas. The city's downtown is its heart. It is where the city began. It's where we go to celebrate significant days, like Memorial Day. A vibrant downtown attracts a community of restaurants, retail shops, national chains and industries around it. We have all of that, from Paul Huff Parkway to APD 40, I-75 to Wildwood Avenue.

Shopping, dining and celebrating anywhere in Cleveland this summer is good for our city, our economy - for everybody.

 A Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development report recently said Tennessee Main Street communities generated more than $95 million dollars last year and created more than 1,500 jobs. Cleveland is part of those statistics.
Our city has an attraction unique to Cleveland this summer at the Museum Center at Five Points. A visit to see "Khirbet El-Maqatir, History of a Biblical Site" brings a bit of The Holy Land to the City With Spirit. In partnership with the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria and the Associates of Biblical Research, this exhibit of ancient artifacts is here through December 26. It is an exhibit you might expect to drive elsewhere to see, but it is here - on Inman Street.

We are blessed with great places to just spend a summer day. Red Clay State Historic Area is one of them. Go for special events or just enjoy the blue spring and picnic at a place significant to our nation's history.Then there is the Cowpea Festival organized by our friends in Charleston and a full calendar of horse shows and competitions at the Tri-State Exhibition Center.

It's plain to see that our area has something for everybody this summer. There's many more than mentioned here. Our Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce keeps up with it all. They have plenty of other possibilities at Visit Cleveland Website.

Project Round Up
Project Round Up at Cleveland Utilities has nothing to do with the Old West and rounding up longhorns. It is about rounding up your utility bill to the next whole dollar. It applies to all CU bills, including the biggest businesses and industries in our city. Project Round Up amounts to a few extra pennies for customers. And, the contribution is tax deductible.

That tiny amount of change, plus other people's small change, adds up to a very big help for some of our neighbors. The money goes to another agency through the United Way to help people struggling to keep their lights on in our community.

 Anyone can opt out of Project Round Up by contacting Cleveland Utilities. But most of their customers participate. It just goes to show that in the City With Spirit, the spirit of helping others is alive and well.

At a recent Board of Public Utilities meeting, we learned Project Round Up will be expanding the service provided by those same few pennies. A small portion of Project Round Up contributions will be going to The Caring Place to assist with the purchase of some of the food supplies distributed there. The Utility Board approved the plan to help The Caring Places' Neighbors In Need program.
That program helped 415 people in 2014. Each recipient also signs on for a financial counseling program. Over two-thirds completed the program.

Project Round Up began in 2010 to support the utility assistance program. Several municipal utilities across Tennessee started Operation Round Up programs about the same time. Now, our local effort will be helping local families even more.

Many of us know about The Caring Place. It is a nonprofit organization on Wildwood Avenue. Currently it is a consortium of 53 churches representing 12 different denominations. Hundreds of people from our community volunteer some of their time each week in its many programs. This kind of teamwork is part of our city's generous spirit. It is also not an unusual story for Cleveland. We have many other partnerships where volunteers, other nonprofit groups and government combine their efforts to benefit the most people. The Caring Place's Neighbors in Need program has been a partner in Project Round Up since its inception.have been able to double the number of people that we serve through the generosity of Cleveland Utilities customers," The Caring Place Executive Director Reba Terry said.  

Great Youth Organizations

Our community is blessed with many great youth organizations. From the Boys and Girls Club and all its satellite locations to school and church programs and sports leagues and our own Parks and Recreation Department and many more, there's always plenty for kids to do.

Recently, our City Council heard from one of our communities' newest opportunities for young people. Y-CAP is part of the YMCA. Y-CAP's initials stand for Community Action Project. The program works with students ages ten through 14 referred to Y-CAP through juvenile court or the school systems. It has three components, tutoring, mentoring and counseling. It also has a great track record for improving grades and improving young lives.

Y-CAP started November 1, 1998 under the direction of the Chattanooga Metropolitan YMCA. It expanded to Cleveland in 2002.

A new component of Y-CAP in our community is an amateur boxing program called Jabbin' for Jesus. Joe Smith, Y-CAP regional director, introduced the program to the city and the Council during our February 9 session.

Joe served as the United States men's boxing team manager for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. His son Andy helped in Olympic preparation camps in 2008.

The amateur boxing program has already established a successful track record in Chattanooga. Jabbin' for Jesus is about more than boxing, Joe says. It's about teaching values too. Lessons learned from the sport, like hard work and dedication to a goal are lessons that can be carried over to math and science classes too, he rightly points out.

Which is why Joe wanted to speak to the Council. Jabbin' for Jesus now has a Cleveland presence too. What they don't have is money for a space. He hopes someone here has 1,500 or 2,000 square feet of floor space to donate.

Joe says his Council appearance was to get on the city's "radar screen." We welcome this new Y-CAP program and its service to youth. Cleveland Teachers for three consecutive years now, a teacher from Cleveland City Schools is competing for Tennessee Teacher of the Year.

No matter what the final outcome is this year, making that prestigious list three years in a row shows a consistently high level of quality in all our city's classrooms.

This year's city representative is Adam Moss, a fifth-grade teacher at Arnold Memorial Elementary School. Adam has already been named the Southeast Region Teacher of the Year for fifth through eighth grades in a region that includes 14 school districts.Our congratulations goes to Mr. Moss.

Last year, Cecile Williams, who teaches sixth-grade math, science and social studies at Cleveland Middle School, won the regional honor. And two years ago, Christy Duncan, at Mayfield Elementary School, was the regional winner in the kindergarten through fourth grade group.

 The first round of competition is among teachers at the school building level. Building winners are selected by their peers. From the regional winners, the state will select three teachers as finalists. One of those will be the state's teacher of the year.

For our community, the story doesn't stop there. In our community, a Bradley County teacher, Lori Raper at Prospect Elementary, is a finalist in the pre-kindergarten through fourth grade category this year. The state winners will be announced next fall by the Tennessee Department of Education. It is evident we live in a community that places a high value on the education of our children who are, after all, our next generation of citizens. We show that support every day. One way is our Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce programs that pair schools with local businesses. And, our teachers consistently win state and even national attention. Strong schools are a priority when big industries come to town. Our schools influence decisions by retail stores and families who move here too.

There is an important link between a strong local economy and strong classrooms. Our goal is to retain many of our young alumni in Cleveland. As the next graduation ceremonies draw closer this spring, we know some of them will be moving on to the military or college. Wherever they go, we know they will be fine ambassadors from the City With Spirit, thanks to great teachers.

As they say at Cleveland City Schools, "Every Child, Every Day."