Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Busy Weekend on Signal Mountain

As many of you know, my acoustic trio The Orchard Band will be playing at the Signal Mountain Business Expo this weekend. Information on the expo can be found at: Mountain Cove Bluegrass will be playing from 11:30-1:30 and we'll be playing from 2-4. When I announced this event, I was reminded of all the other wonderful things going on this weekend.

First, Signal Mountain High School Theatre Dept. will be presenting the musical comedy "Little Shop of Horrors" on Thurs-Friday and Saturday night followed by a matinĂ©e on Sunday. Details can be found here: Little Shop of Horrors at SMMHS.

Saturday night will also feature a performance at the Mountain Arts Community Center by the Uptown Big Band. Information can be found by contacting the MACC at 886-1959 or checking the website at: MACC Website

Bachman Community Center is having a gardening expo on Saturday. Information can be found at:

And don't forget Signal Mountain Youth Baseball's Home Run Derby & Festival going on Saturday as well. As well as the kids' HOUR Derbies, there will be a Dads' Derby, Moms game and several activities.

This is SMYB's annual fundraiser and couldn't come at a better time. There's a bevy of talent in our youth leagues - come out and see them! More info and contacts can be found at: Signal Mountain youth sports

I'm sure this list isn't exhaustive, only a few of the other things I was reminded were happening this weekend. So... anyone who says "I'm bored" this weekend just isn't paying attention! And the last time I checked, the weather is supposed to get great! So come on out for some great music, theatre, gardening and sports!

Look for more info coming up on the "Moms and music" event next weekend!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beauty and the Beast at Signal Mountain Playhouse this summer

I've been asked to announce auditions for "Beauty and the Beast" coming up on May 14 at 10 am for children 7 to 12; and on that same day, at 2 p.m. for teens and adults.  Auditions will also be held on May 16 at 7 p.m. for teens and adults.  Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or adult at auditions. Everyone should wear closed toe shoes. Auditions will be held at the Playhouse amphitheater behind the Signal Mountain Town Hall. Production dates for the show are July 8,  9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Go to Signal Mountain Playhouse for further details.

Great weekend for music on Signal Mountain

Well, I'm sorry I'm so late getting around to commenting on last weekends fantastic music events. Friday night, April 8, the MACC Foundation hosted a dinner and concert by Fletcher Bright and the Dismembered Tennesseans. This was a fundraiser for the Mountain Arts Community Center. To say it was a success is an understatement. All 72 initial tickets sold-out rapidly and 10 more seats were squeezed in to accommodate the demand. These 82 patrons of the arts experienced a wonderful night. It started with a champagne reception hosted by Barnett & Co., a financial advising firm which has become a regular supported of MACC Foundation activities. Next, we moved into the old SME cafeteria which was elegantly decked out with black and white tablecloths and floral decorations by new florist "Poppy's" (located at Signal Mountain Plaza Shopping Center) and Crocker Produce. We had an excellent, four-course gourmet dinner prepared by the chef at Alexian Village accompanied by several fine wines and beers. Then, the highlight of the evening was 2 hours of music by Fletcher Bright and the Dismembered Tennesseans. This whole event began last fall when MACC Foundation Vice-President John Harper bid for Fletcher Bright's services at another fundraiser. John asked Fletcher if he would be willing to do a performance at the MACC. Fletcher not only agreed, but also donated the services of the rest of the band, too. In addition to Fletcher, we were also treated to a rousing rendition of "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down" by John Harper, accompanied by the Dismembered Tennesseans. I was also fortunate to be included when Fletcher invited his nephew, Robert Thatcher up to perform one of Robert's tunes. As you probably know, Robert and I (along with his wife, Alice) have performed together for over 10 years as "The Orchard Band". Robert recently recorded a song he wrote for a Bluegrass Benefit CD. The song, "Kentucky Blue" is about the mountain-top removal mining technique (by the way, Robert's against it!). Since we do this song, Alice and I joined Robert on stage to perform this song, also accompanied by the Dismembered Tennesseans. It was clearly a night to remember for me!

That alone would have made for a great weekend, but the next night the MACC Foundation followed up with a more casual concert featuring several younger music groups. Since we already had the MACC all decorated (and had already paid for insurance and liquor license...) we invited The Local Group, an acoustic duo featuring Bryce Cronan and his cousin, Jay to open, followed by Moonshoes Mumsy, an excellent original rock band from Hixson and finally closing with Bred, a dynamic power trio from SMMHS featuring Garrett Massman on guitar, Baxter Whittenberg on bass and vocals and Clare Beasley on drums. Frankly, I was impressed! Bred had an acoustic set with Baxter on guitar and Garrett on mandolin with Clare singing and playing... well it looked like a stool, but sounded like a drum.

So, live music is alive and well on Signal Mountain. The MACC Foundation has plans for more such events in the near future including a day of live music on May 7 at Signal Plaza to honor Mother's Day and raise money for the Karen Shropshire Memorial Scholarship Fund which will offer tuition assistance to low-income students at the MACC. This was started by Karen's children to honor her memory and her 10 years of service as the MACC's first director.

Before I close, I have to acknowledge several folks who really made this past weekend a success. As a matter of fact, without them it wouldn't have happened at all! First, MACC Foundation President and Vice-President Buffie and John Harper were really the initial driving force and generous donors for this event. SMMHS senior students Baxter Whittenberg and Logan Whitlow then approached the foundation about helping out with an event as their senior projects. Their energy and "elbow grease" were essential to pulling this off. Finally, last but not least, Patrick Emanuel was the organizing force that made these events happen. He worked with Baxter and Logan on all details, made contacts with our sponsors who included Alexian, Pruetts, Barnett and Co., FSG Bank, Miller and Martin Attorneys-at-law, Poppys and Eberle Bros. Tire Co. who sponsored the Saturday Nite Jam Concert. His unflagging energy was an inspiration to us all.

Hope to see everyone on May 7 and keep your eyes open for future events!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Community Meeting with Mayor Coppinger

I'd like to start this blog with a request. I had a recent computer "crash" and lost a LOT of email addresses. If you are reading this (and I know you are!), please send your email address to me at And include your name. Sometimes its hard to figure out who "mom1234@" really is! Thanks!!

Last night I attended the community meeting with County Mayor Jim Coppinger at the theater in SMMHS. This was a well attended event. My estimate was approximately 150 people attended. As you might expect, education issues dominated the discussion. Clearly the "elephant in the room, however was funding, ie, money! The meeting did start off with a question from Dr. Cleaveland about funding for the Health Department. The looming expiration of the sales tax agreement between the county and the city has left many questions about jointly funded departments and, while a county health department is mandated by state law, as pointed out by Mayor Coppinger, Dr. Cleaveland asked how well it was to be funded. Like most questions last night, however there really was no concrete answer.

This was the theme of the evening... lots of problems but no answers. A few themes did emerge from the questions from the audience. One was the obvious but important message that we, the local residents care deeply about our kids and their education. While this is hopefully true of all communities, it was clearly pointed out that we have put our money where our mouths are. The $10 million raised by the Towns of Signal Mountain and Walden was crucial to getting SMMHS built. Since then more millions have been raised by local residents to fund our local schools. This doesn't include the increases in sales taxes which the town passed. One of my great regrets about my term on the town council was my failure to convince the rest of the council to commit this sales tax money to further improvements in the school before it opened. This reminds me that Vice-Mayor Susan Robertson, whose vote along with Mayor Bill Lusk was critical in defeating my proposal to dedicate this money to the school, was present at this meeting along with newer Councilmembers Dick Gee and Bill Wallace.

But I digress. The other message of the night was that the local residents were tired of being responsible for paying for everything from books to IB program expenses for our local schools while other schools receive such basics from the county, including a new IB  program being proposed at Ooltewah High School. There was a mood of "we're not gonna take it" anymore from the crowd.

Chip Baker

I should mention that the other officials on the stage with Mayor Coppinger were County Commissioner Jim Fields and School Board Rep. Chip Baker. Chip was running late because of a budget committee meeting. At that meeting it was apparently announced that the school board deficit is an even greater $14 million. This information is in today's Times Free Press. Several questions were directed to Commissioner Fields about the PILOT money from the Volkswagen plant being withheld from the School Board by the County Commission. PILOT means "Payment In Lieu Of Taxes". Commissioner Fields began his defense of his support of this effort by arguing with citizen and former School Board member Annie Hall about the definition of property taxes. "It's not property tax money, its PILOT money" he insisted. That's like arguing whether the ocean is green or blue... either way it's all wet. Let's get real. Mr. Fields insisted this money would be used for "construction and maintenance" and, I do compliment the County Commissioner for agreeing to pay for the purchase of the old David Brainerd private school which saved money for the school board. However, the need is now. Schools have leaking roofs and many other maintenance problems now. The School Board is looking at significant draconian cuts in programs, benefits and personnel. The real life effect will be larger classrooms, continued problems with buildings falling down around our children and teachers leaving our county to work in Georgia. It makes no sense to withold current revenue from current needs. Frankly, my impression of the crowd was that they were not impressed with Mr. Fields position and his defense of it. I hope he will reconsider in light of a very clear message from his constituents.

The Greater Signal Mountain Community has shown its commitment to education through millions of dollars in actual cash raised not to mention incalculable amounts of volunteer hours. We have built a middle/high school which critics claimed no one would send their children to and which would sit empty yet which is projected to reach capacity in its third year. The County Commission needs to stop playing political games with the school board and give them the resources they need to do their job. It that means a tax increase, well, here on Signal Mountain we can say "been there, done that, got the t-shirt". Literally. Maybe if they get this job done it will give Congress a clue about how to do it right. Frankly, I'm not optimistic.