By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
known for gorgeous weather and at the Dade Industrial Authority open house on
Friday, it did not disappoint. IDA’s Peter Cervelli had plenty of mellow golden
sunshine to impress area dignitaries as he shuttled them in an open-air Jeep
for a tour of IDA’s new expansion of the Dade industrial park.
The local press
did not rank high enough for a seat in the IDA mobile but did find an empty
spot in an auxiliary vehicle driven by open house co-host Ted Rumley, Dade’s
county executive, who said en route that the county had been helping IDA spruce
up the site for the big day. “You couldn’t even drive this road when we
started,” he said.
independent government-public body whose purpose is to improve life in the
county by bringing in new industry to provide jobs and expand the tax base, had
bought 200 acres of the old P.R. Olgiati farm contiguous to Dade’s existing
industrial park two years ago. With part of its portion of the proceeds of a
bond issue it is sharing with the county – that deal has closed, by the way,
and the money was deposited in the bank on Thursday – IDA will buy the
remaining 70 acres.
explained, as his truck bumped from the smooth pavement of the developed
industrial park onto a rough dirt tract on the new acreage, that this had been
the weekend getaway of former Chattanooga Mayor Peter Rudolph Olgiati, for whom
the bridge over the Tennessee River was named. Olgiati hayed the fields and ran
black cattle in his weekend farming operation. “He kept it manicured,” said
as mayor of Chattanooga were 1951-1963, and Rumley said the Dade farm was still
going later than that, well into the 1980s. By now, though, all that remained
were fields, trees and some tires and other decaying evidence of old barns, the
larger buildings long gone. “The house rotted in,” said Rumley. “There really
wasn’t any pulling to it. It just fell in.”
The main farm
road, which runs east-west from Highway 11 North over the railroad tracks, will
serve as the base of the new route IDA will build through the park expansion,
said Rumley. “This will be like an interstate through here,” he said. “It’ll be
24 foot wide, where two tractor-trailers can pass on it.”
though, he added, it will be gravel.
The county is
helping out with the roughing-in phase, said Rumley, but after that IDA will
use its own funds to pay for a contractor to lay the roadbed. “It’ll be built
to county specs,” said Rumley. “We’ll be the one inspecting the road because
we’ll be the one in the end that’ll be maintaining the road, 20 or 30 years
from now, unless the city annexes this and takes it over.”
problem in getting the farmland industry-ready is the old road’s railroad
crossing over to Highway 11. The crossing is decidedly rural – narrow, with a
steep bump up one side and down the other. “This is the one we’ve been talking
about at the last several meetings, about widening for truck traffic, or building
a bridge over it for trucks,” said Rumley.
problem, he said, is that it is this section of track that the rail company
routinely uses as a lay-by. “This is where the trains block the track all the
time,” said Rumley.
presentation to the open-house guests preceding the tour, IDA’s Cervelli
admitted that this was something his organization has yet to work out with the
railway. “Any crossing is an issue,” he said. “That’s a work in progress.”
discussed the tax incentive package IDA has put together to entice new
business. He said that though the package offers free land and complete tax
exemption in the beginning, the county should benefit from the deal in the long
run. “There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow 10 years out,” he said.
The open house
drew a crowd of 25 to 35 northwest Georgia and Chattanooga-area state and
economic developmentofficials of 25-35, and Cervelli received compliments for
the new video promoting Dade IDA had commissioned from local producer Chuck
Peters and his Cloudland Productions. The video will shortly be available for
viewing on IDA’s website, www.developingdadega.com.
No tenants have
so far materialized for the Olgiati expansion, but Cervelli has previously
reported interesting hits on the new website, and Rumley said at the last
county commission meeting that a manufacturer of products used in the
automotive industry had showed up in September to look at the site. Dade hopes
eventually to lure enough new industry to fill buildings on both sides of the
planned road through the expanded park.
future. But Rumley, something of an expert in Dade history, could not resist
telling guests a little of the farm’s past, and the Sentinel cannot resist
passing it on here.
In the spring that
runs through the property, a slave woman who lived on the old plantation
operation on the acreage before the Civil War had drowned her infant girl. A
gallows had been purpose-built for her, and she was hanged a week after the
killing, said Rumley.
“Her reason for
her killing her daughter, who was just a little baby, was because she didn’t
want her to be raised as a slave and be the property of Mr. Gross,” he said.
A moving story,
but one guest quibbled: “I was thinking it was two children.”
was further unable to resist correcting – and the Sentinel is further unable to
resist retailing – “The two children were at Hanna.”
Hanna is the
old name for Rising Fawn, coincidentally Rumley’s own neck of the woods, and
the particular focus of his towering stockpile of local lore.
stood just east of the present day Hanna Cemetery, said Rumley, and this was
where a hapless black nanny was executed for the accidental death of the twin
toddler boys in her care.
“She took them
in the summer – this was like July – down to the creek to play, and she had
this big wooden washtub she had made into a little boat and was letting them
float. She let it get away from her and it flipped over – they had gotten into
swift water – and drowned both of them,” said Rumley. “They showed no pity on
her. They hung her.”
To return to
the Olgiati expansion, the Sentinel will certainly continue to report
faithfully on any developments in Dade County’s industrial future.
Though odds are
also good the Sentinel will digress from time to time into the county’s rural