Extreme Home Makeover: Orange Grove Edition

By: Robresha Jackson and Charnele Box

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) -  For the intellectually disable, The Orange Grove Center is a safe haven. It is a place that is primarily focused on their mental and physical development in hopes of providing  more comfortable life like the rest of the world.

OGC

This is the document filled with the city of Chattanooga for assistance.

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, the Chattanooga City Council agreed to continue this movement by approving funds for Orange Grove, Inc. to create affordable rental housing. These funds were awarded on behalf of the HOMEAgain Program, a program that assists in creating supportive rental housing for underprivileged individuals and families to prevent homelessness.

According to documents from the Chattanooga City Council, the Department of Economic and Community Development are to award HOMEAgain Program funds in the amount of $45,000. The owner is to contribute $73,250 to create these affordable apartments.

Orange Grove residential services help support about 50 individuals in 23 homes located throughout the metropolitan area. While the non-profit organization may not own the homes, they help assist the individuals in leasing their home in the community and provide the staffing and oversight for the homes.

Orange Grove also provide residential rehabilitation housing. OGC has 25 homes serving 146 individuals. The residential rehabilitation housing supports two to eight individuals in Orange Grove Center homes with a house manager and support staff as needed. The staff helps with life skill development and many activities throughout the community.

OGC 2

One of the Rehabilitation Homes provided by Orange Grove

Many agree that Orange Grove is a staple in the Chattanooga community that provides a safe environment for the mentally ill and that this initiative will only improve the private, non-profit organization.

“Orange Grove has worked hard to become the establishment that they are. If it wasn’t for Orange Grove coming along individuals with developmental disabilities would be left at home or in mental intuitions,” said Diamond Pride OGC employee.  She also stated that OGC allow the individuals have regular lives help them feel more inclusive in the community.

Darious James, Direct Support Professional at OGC weighed in on the mentally ill clients and OGC’s initiative to make them feel more independent. “Orange Grove does a great justice to the community plus they also let the individuals work and make money on real jobs. ”

Although it is not clear on who the new, affordable apartments will be made available to, it is clear that Orange Grove is always finding ways to improve their organization.

More information will be provided as the story continues to unfold.

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New Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund: Burning Topic of Discussion

By: Alex Givens

 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/ The Loop) – Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and City Council unanimously reached a verdict and decided to pass the new pension plan. Mayor Berke believes that this plan is critical in what it says about Chattanooga and the actions we are taking as a community.

The people of Chattanooga will finally be receiving the benefits they deserve. Mayor Berke says this new pension plan is about meeting goals, “It will continue to motivate the workforce, attract quality employees and we will do this by being responsible to tax payers”.

This new and improved pension plan will save Chattanooga 227 million dollars. With the fund saved Mayor Berke plans on investing in public safety and taking care of employees today. These funds will boost morale and help to fix the problem. Mayor Berke is proud of everyone who was involved in the development of the new pension, “We have outstanding employees who work for us- outstanding”.

The new pension fund:

  • - $227 Million saved
  • - Will improve public safety
  • - Take better care of Chattanooga employees
  • - Boost morale
  • - Reflection of the participants who were involved

Among many that disagree with the City’s plan to move forward with the updated pension plan is Kirk Salter. Salter was more than unhappy with the outcome of the court hearing.  He believes that the fund has continually sunk.

Kirk Salter taking a stand against new Chattanooga Pension Fund.

Kirk Salter taking a stand against new Chattanooga Pension Fund.

He believes they are making a change that is detrimental to the people of Chattanooga and as far as Salter is concerned, ” Andy Berke and Travis McDonald, okay, and the city council they are on notice that if you knowingly violate the law, okay, and go through with this you are exposing the city to liability… Travis McDonald and Andy Berke are no friends to public safety”.

Salter refers to himself as a “firecracker” and has reassured the people of Chattanooga that he is nowhere near done fighting against this pension plan. He believes the city has not been responsible for funding the pension over the years, and have allowed it to continually sink.

For some, this new pension fund may come as a shock and betrayal to the people but to others it is an extreme source of financial relief that has been long overdue.

Visit http://www.nooga.com/165541/pension-board-approves-retirement-overhaul/ for more information.

 

 

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North Shore Publix Granted Construction Requests

By: Megan Montgomery

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) — The Chattanooga City Council passed an ordinance to grant wall tiebacks in the construction of the North Shore Publix at the February 25 meeting. The tiebacks will provide more stability for the walls along the blocks of Hamilton Avenue, Woodland Avenue, and Kent Street.

Neighbors of the construction are hoping that Publix will bring stability in more areas than just physical structure.gallery.53691

Rylee Johnson, Junior, lives in an apartment complex near the construction area. She is excited about the convenience of of a grocery store in the area.

Some residents fear that the store will threaten the local business in the area. Shervin Dadkhahi-Poor is hopeful about the increased traffic in the area according to an interview from News Channel 3 in April.

“I just hope the intent stays good and we keep Chattanooga original.” says Dadkhahi-Poor.

Johnson agrees that the convenience store could threaten the local novelty of the area, but believes that the increased traffic for businesses could out-weigh that risk in the long run.

Mary Alice Ozment, a Signal Mountain resident, says that a grocery store is an essential part of a community, and she thinks Publix can offer this to the North Shore area.

The ordinance to use wall tie-backs in the construction originally appeared at the February 18th meeting of Chattanooga City Council. It then was approved on the 25th. City Council members Sally Robinson and Deborah Scott said they believe it will “raise property values and bring in new sales and property tax collections” according to a 2012 interview by the Chattanoogan.

Other Publix locations in the area include:

  1. Creek Plantation Village
    5928 Hixson Pike Ste 112
    Hixson,  TN  37343-4839
  2. Hurricane Creek
    8644 E Brainerd Rd
    Chattanooga,  TN  37421-8325
  3. Snow Hill Village
    5958 Snow Hill Rd Ste 168
    Ooltewah,  TN  37363-7834
  4. Mouse Creek Crossing
    635 Paul Huff Pkwy NW
    Cleveland,  TN  37312-2970

You can find a location closer to you with the Publix Store Locator.

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Chattanooga Public Works Official Approved For Involvement in Eco-Friendly Competition

By Rose Street

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) – Chattanooga City Council approved the partnership between the Administrator of the Chattanooga Department of Public Works and the non-profit organization Green Spaces in the development of the Low Impact Design/Green Infrastructure Design Competition.

Lee Norris, the Administrator for the Department of Public Works, has been approved by City Council to work with Green Spaces to create the (LID)/Green Infrastructure Design Competition. The approval Tuesday, February 25 was unanimous.

Chattanooga City Council Chambers

Chattanooga City Council Chambers

Green Spaces is an environmentally conscious, non-profit organization whose mission it is to “work towards regional sustainability by progressing the way we live, work, and build.” The organization is based solely in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The (LID)/Green Infrastructure Design Competition will consist of two team members, a professional engineer and a registered landscape architect, and take place in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga.gov describes the competition as demonstrating “efficient, sustainable, cost-effective approaches to stormwater management and beautification of city infrastructure.”

Director Lee Norris relayed his hope for the competition to the Times Free Press saying, “The goal here is to get the architects, engineers and developers to get on the same page to see how green infrastructure can work on different areas.”

The time frame of the competition and the completion date has yet to be announced.

The Lyndhurst Foundation is providing a grant of $85,500 to develop the competition.

According to its website, The Lyndhurst Foundation “invests in initiatives, institutions, people and programs that contribute to the long term livability and resilience of the greater Chattanooga region.”

For more information about Chattanooga City Council, visit Chattanooga.gov for agendas and more.

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Chattanooga City Council Approves Eco-Beneficial Resolution 27798

By Andrew Carney CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC / The Loop) – Chattanooga City Council unanimously approved Resolution 27798, authorizing the Administrator for the Department of Public Works to partner with Green|Spaces to assist in the development and implementation of the Green Infrastructure Design Competition.

This resolution finalizes plans to implement the first Green Infrastructure Design Competition, a Low Impact Development (LID) program which is being funded by the Lyndhurst Foundation in the amount of $85,500. Chattanooga City Council previously approved Resolution 27657 on September 24, 2013, which authorized the Administrator for the Department of Public Works to accept the grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.

This resolution was integral in providing the necessary funding to allow for the creation of the design competition, while this recent resolution allowed for the Administrator for the Department of Public Works to assist in its development.

Credit: Lyndhurst Foundation

Lyndhurst Foundation Logo

The Lyndhurst Foundation “identifies and invests in initiatives, institutions, people and programs that contribute to the long-term livability and resilience of the greater Chattanooga region.” It has been important to the development of Chattanooga and has previously provided funding for such initiatives as:

  1. The Main Terrain Park in Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhood
  2. Revitalization of downtown in partnership with the RiverCity Company
  3. The SimCenter (National Center for Computation Engineering) at UTC
  4. Continued support for the Tennessee Aquarium’s sponsorship of Bike Chattanooga
  5. Matching support for the Chattanooga History Center’s Let’s Make History capital campaign

The Chattanooga Public Works’ Water Quality Program describes the Design Competition as “Chattanooga’s first Low Impact Design (LID)/ Green Infrastructure design competition will challenge design teams to demonstrate efficient, sustainable, cost-effective approaches to stormwater management and beautification of city infrastructure,” and that this “collaborative effort includes participation and input from Chattanooga’s Public Works Department (Engineering and Water Quality) and Chattanooga-Hamilton County RPA, and is funded by the Lyndhurst Foundation through a contract with Green|Spaces.”

According to an article by The Chattanoogan, the “competition participation requirements include a design team consisting of three licensed participants: engineer, architect, and landscape architect” and that “at least one member of each team based in Chattanooga and team leaders must be licensed in Tennessee.” This helps to ensure that the teams are well-qualified for the design competition and knowledgeable of both the region and state. The Chattanooga Times Free Press quotes Lee Norris, the current Administrator for the Department of Public Works, as saying,”the goal here is to get the architects, engineers and developers to get on the same page to see how green infrasture [sic] can work on different areas.”

Credit: Green|Spaces

Green|Spaces Logo

According to their mission statement, Green|Spaces “works towards regional sustainability by progressing the way we live, work and build.” It has been integral to achieving sustainability in Chattanooga since the initiative began in 2008 and has been involved in many projects in the region that include 17 LEED-certified projects.

 

The Chattanoogan article quotes Mayor Andy Berke on the Design Competition, “This is an important partnership that can highlight Chattanooga’s commitment to innovative, sustainable practices. Through a competitive process, we will empower talented individuals to explore solutions that can ultimately make our neighborhoods stronger and create a positive impact in every district of Chattanooga.”

Involved organizations are currently discussing when the design competition will take place; more information should be available after a timeline for the design competition is decided. For more information, visit the respective links to the organizations’ sites and to the two resolutions passed by Chattanooga City Council.

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Firefighter Pension Plan Passes Unanimously in Chattanooga

By: Kelli Findlay

Chattanooga, TN (UTC/The Loop) — Chattanooga Firefighter and Police Pension Fund receives unanimous city council vote.

On February 25, 2014, Mayor Andy Berke spoke at the Chattanooga City Council meeting and proposed the passing of the Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund. 

Mayor  Berke addressing Pension Plan

Mayor Berke addressing Pension Plan

A pension is a defined benefit paid monthly to employees during retirement. Police officers and firefighters pay into a large fund with 8 to 9 percent of their salaries. The city contributes to the fund each year. In 2013, the city’s contribution was $11.2 million, an amount that’s expected to rise dramatically over the next 26 years. The fund also receives significant revenue from its investment portfolio.

“What you’re going to do tonight by adopting this ordinance is that you will secure the retirement for our pensioners,” said Mayor Berke.

Berke also said that they want to look these men and women in the eye and promise them a financial future with the new pension plan.

 One part of the bill requires those cities to contribute at least 100 percent of the annual amount needed to make or keep the plans sustainable over a 30-year period. This doesn’t affect Chattanooga’s fire and police pension plan because the city already pays 100 percent of its contribution.

Not all citizens approve of this new pension plan. The full opposition story and interviews about the passing of the Firefighter Pension plan covered by Channel 9  can be found here.

Kirk Salter, former Chattanooga Sgt., was upset that they didn’t take everybody’s interest into account. Salter said, “They wouldn’t listen to anybody in 2000 and they are not listening to us now.”

One part of the bill requires those cities to contribute at least 100 percent of the annual amount needed to make or keep the plans sustainable over a 30-year period. This doesn’t affect Chattanooga’s fire and police pension plan because the city already pays 100 percent of its contribution.

Task Force Proposal

The plan requires approval from the pension board and the City Council. Here are the key details.

• Minimum retirement age for non-vested members 50, new hires 55

• Employee contribution to go up from 8% to 11%, or 9% to 12% over the next 3 years

• Cost of living adjustments for retirees at an average of 1.5%

• The DROP will no longer include interest, and employees will have the option to stay 3 extra years without losing the benefit.

• Increases benefits to 100% for beneficiaries of those killed in the line of duty

Sources: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Nooga.com, Channel 9 News

 

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Fire and Police Pension Gets The OK By City Council

By Arielle Henson

CHATTANOOGA,Tenn. (UTC/ The loop) — Chattanooga City Council okay’d the fire and police pension plan on Tuesday of last week following months of negotiations.

Mayor Andy Berke stood before the council and attendees addressing recent issues with the pension while ensuring changes will be made to the plan.

“We couldn’t look someone in the eyes and promise what was going to happenin the future, ” said Berke. “By adopting these changes we will actually be able to look these people in the eyes and say ‘ you are going to actually receive the benefits you expect’.”

Berke said the city can expect three things from the pension plan:

  • A more motivated work force
  • It will attract quality employees
  • Show our responsibility to the tax payers

Some citizens of Chattanooga are not so sure that this will be true for pensioners. Retired police Sgt. Kirk Salter has been fighting this pension since the beginning.

” I’m a firecracker and I’m not through with them yet,” said Satler. ” Travis McDonald and Andy Berke are no friends to public safety.”

Although the Chattanooga City Council has passed this plan, there are several steps to go through before the pension plan will actually be put into play.

Chattanooga City Council Chambers

Chattanooga City Council Chambers

Knoxville City Council has shut down the same pension plan that Mayor Berke has suggested for Chattanoogan’s. President of the Firefighter’s Association of Knoxville, Kevin Faddis, has made his opinion on the pension plan very clear and plans to continue to do so in hopes that cities like Chattanooga will listen.

“We have made concessions, we will continue to make SOME concessions,” said Faddis. ” We dont do what we do for money, obviously. But we would like to at least retire with some dignity.”

He said he has worked for the city of Knoxville for over 18 years and has no plans for retiring anytime soon, but hopes this can be resolved before his time with the department comes to an end.

Faddis thinks there are ways to fix these problems and cutting pensions is not the answer.” They certainly could cut non essential projects, ” he said.

While the city may be in a large amount of debt, is cutting pensions the right way to go?

“You pay for a service (taxes) it may not be tangible for all at once, ” Faddis said, “but I can assure you, when citizens need us, we are there. No matter what.”

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“Go Green” by eating yellow- Yellow Deli, that is.

By: Alex Givens
Chattanooga, TN (UTC/The Loop) – “Go Green” by eating yellow- Yellow Deli, that is.
For some, the Yellow Deliis a place of studying solitude. It provides an earthy atmosphere where students, business men and friends can come together over a hot cup of fresh herbal tea and enjoy fresh hand made bread. It is best compared to what it would be like to live inside of a tree trunk that Sunny and Cher hand painted in the 60’s.
The Yellow Deli- Chattanooga, TN

The Yellow Deli- Chattanooga, TN

Since 1978 the Yellow Deli has provided a wide variety of fresh garden made from vegetables grown in the garden to organic breakfast muffins with berries. According to one of the “Found Fathers” of the Deli, Ayal, the Deli Roast is the most popular sandwich. Nothing they serve has been prepackaged.
For those that have ventured into the Yellow Deli they have seen the colorful walls decorated with Biblical images as well as a feature that makes the Deli unique. Everything inside of the Deli is made from reclaimed wood, “We tore down old buildings and put it all together. We even straightened out nails! We were just out of the 60’s so the decor is out of the 60’s” says an enthusiastic Ayal.
Along with a variety of delicious meals to choose from, the Deli began producing all natural beauty products from lotions to creams. This addition came in 1979. Not only does it have a beauty bar, but there is also a smoothie bar where patrons can choose from a variety of fresh blended drinks.
Their food is not the only thing that has the people buzzing. The religious practices of the Deli has also raised a few eyebrows. They are considered to be one of the “Twelve Tribes” that participate in the Jesus Movement that began in 1972 by Gene Spriggs.
Originally the “community” began at a coffee shop called “The Lighthouse” where the members lived communally and then opened the Yellow Deli. Their division from the traditional route of religious practice raised concern from Chattanooga’s Citizen Freedom Foundation who deemed the group a ‘cult’.
Of the many people who find their practices to be on the “cultish” side, Karne Draper of Utah who was once a member of their “family” lived with them for two weeks before deciding she did not agree with their lifestyle choices or religious practices. According to Draper, the “Supreme Disciple” who will remain unnamed, is in charge of every detail of their lives including what they eat and wear.
Draper, who was a student at Chattanooga State College withdrew herself from the program after speaking to her academic counselor, “You should have seen the look on my counselor’s face when I told him what I was doing. I just smiled and said, ‘I found Jesus!’”.
While her experience there was less than pleasant that does not speak for the entire population. There are many who have found their food, service and attitudes to be pleasant and more than satisfactory. Experience it for yourself over a hot bowl of soup or a hot discussion about your religious practices. Both are popular options on the menu at the Yellow Deli.
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4 Women, 4 Strings

By: Charnele L. Box

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC The Loop)- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s music department is known for having great musical events. This year the music department is will present the Marian Anderson String Quartet to the Chattanooga community, February 20 – 22.

In the fall of 1989, members of the Marian Anderson String Quartet, then known as the Chaminade Quartet joined forces to accomplish more than they ever dreamed. The Marian Anderson String Quartet has won major classical competitions and performed at the White House during a Presidential Inauguration.

image-masq-masks-small

(top to bottom- Prudence McDaniel, Diedra Lawrence
Marianne Henry, Nicole Cherry)

The Marian Anderson String Quartet Residency project was initiated by Dr. Jonathan B. McNair, Coordinator of Theory and Composition at UTC, as part of an effort to raise public awareness of the contributions to concert (classical) music by African American and other minority performing artists and composers.

“I became interested in bringing acclaimed African American classical music composers and performers to Chattanooga a few years ago. I had purchased a collection of music by Black composers, and liked some of the music very much,”  said McNair.

The four women are passionate about their musical art. They will perform a concert for the public, work with local music students, of high school and collegiate levels, conduct a workshop for young composers from around the Southeast, and participate in a public panel discussion.

The MASQ will visit Orchard Knob Elementary school on Thursday Feb. 20 in the morning, and Center for Creative Arts high school Thursday afternoon Feb 20.

“I hope to bring other highly skilled minority artist to campus in coming years, such as the Ritz Chamber Players, and/or the Imani Winds, or fine solo artists who I’ve come across online. If this MASQ program is successful, which I believe it will be, then we have a foundation to build on for the future,” he continued.

Each member of the ensemble is trained at top conservatories and universities such as Julliard School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and Shepherd School of Music.The women of the string quarter have a strong commitment to music education, and established a community music school in their home base of Bryan, Texas, as well as string quartet music camps in the Southwest and the Virgin Islands.

Sources: UTC Music Department and Marian Anderson Quartet Sites

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Gamma Phi Beta UTC House Coming August 2014

By Rose Street

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC The Loop) – Home, Sweet, Home! The Eta Kappa Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta has a house!

It was announced that Gamma Phi Beta, a recent addition to the Panhellenic sororities at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, had received a house.

Collegiate Leadership Counselor Maddy Schroeder could not share any news about current negotiations regarding the house or its location, but she is “very excited about the housing prospects in Chattanooga!”

Two Gamma Phi Beta Sisters

Two Gamma Phi Beta Sisters

UTC Sophomore Andrea Kulezs who joined Gamma Phi Beta in the fall of 2013 shared her hopes for the house, “I think it will make us closer as a sorority because we will be able to hang out with each othermore in a safer environment instead of going here and there and everywhere to meet.”

UTC Junior  and Gamma Phi Beta member Whitney Johnson said that the house is partially funded by the dues paid by the sororities members, and that it is on track to be open by August 2014.

The Eta Kappa Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta was founded in the fall of 2013 at UTC. For more information about Gamma Phi Beta’s arrival, visit the Times Free Press.

Other Panhellenic Council Chapters on UTC’s campus include:

  • Alpha Delta Pi
  • Chi Omega
  • Delta Zeta
  • Kappa Delta
  • Sigma Kappa

Further information about the house will be provided when it becomes available. If you are interested in joining the Gamma Phi Beta sorority or just learning more about it, go to UTC’s Gamma Phi Beta homepage.

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