Though Monday evening saw three simultaneous and suspicious fires on Sand Mountain--see update from the Dade Sheriff's Department posted earlier in these pages--other news events this week were less momentous. From years of reporting on our beatific bucolic backwoods, The Planet has accrued a thousand entertainin' ways to say, "Nothing happened." Still, saying it in multiple articles seems a bit redundant no matter how artfully it is done. Thus The Planet opts instead to cover several events, newsy and un-, in the following news roundup.
The Dade Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is an unelected quasi-governmental body, answerable to the county commission but not to county voters, that nonetheless dispenses millions of taxpayer dollars, in most cases to large and powerful corporate entities. Thus The Planet determinedly dispatches the duty of detailing the doings, dark or decorous, of the development board to deliver duly to the denizens of Dade.
This month, though? Executive Director Peter Cervelli (above) was out of town, attendance of board members was low, and dire doings were thin on the ground.
Chairman Nathan Wooten reported that staffing at Vanguard Trailer, the plant that IDA brought with some effort to the county last year, had worked up to something like three-quarters production and had so far filled 140 of the promised 400 jobs it promised to bring to Dade. Wooten said IDA had paid the first invoice of the projected almost-half million dollars it expects to be billed by Norfolk Southern for work at the railroad crossing on Vanguard Drive, totaling $83,540. "I don't know what percent this is of the bill exactly but it's the smallest part," he said.
Alex Case, appearing today not as Dade County's Emergency Services director but in his other guise as the mayor of Trenton, said the city and county would be using equipment and labor as their part of matching funds for a $130,000 ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission) grant to pave roads in the Dade Industrial Park extension.
Wooten said information about a hoped-for expansion at Gill Industries was lost in space at the manufacturer's corporate offices, but that another Industrial Park tenant, Bull Moose, definitely plans an expansion.
Other business on the agenda was put off until the return of Cervelli, as the board was unable from his notes to discern his intentions.
A final item of January business was to elect new officers but IDA members decided to keep the ones they had.
Dade Board of Education: After last Tuesday's big personnel shakeup, approved and announced at a special called workshop, and last Friday's big gala as the state school superintendent toured county schools and spoke at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon, this Monday's regular January meeting of the B of E was a 15-minute anticlimax. The board voted to approve items discussed last week, including a list of school fundraisers, a bid to provide diesel fuel, a new wireless system for the schools and upgrades to the phone system, Financial Director Paula Stallings gave a financial report and everyone went home.
So not much shakin' at either of those meetings but in between The Planet was able to capture this image for your viewing pleasure. How many times this week have you read the word "fenestration?"
According to Merriam-Wester, fenestration is "the arrangement, proportioning, and design of windows and doors in a building." The Planet was familiar with the verb form of the word in its negative sense, erroneously as it turned out. To "defenestrate" The Planet had used to denote climbing out of a window oneself, but the dictionary insists it means throwing someone else out one, a distinction that makes the word of even less use to the peaceable and law-abiding Planet.
Still, The Planet likes the word, and braved the anxious questioning of a fenestration worker ("fenestrator?) in one of the Dade historic courthouse's upper-story windows--"What are you doing to my van?"-- to offer it here for the enjoyment of the Reader.
Besides putting in new windows, courthouse renovation work these days includes stripping the floors. Reno committee member Audrey Clark says it is hoped that the handsome hardwood flooring found beneath the carpets that accrued at the courthouse over the years can be restored.
Fred's Dollar Store is set to open its new "supercenter" on South Main this Friday. Grand opening is at 8:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, Randy's Restaurant on Highway 136 West has--once again--announced on its Facebook page that it is closing. Saturday is to be its last day--this time.
Wherefore all the qualifiers? Owners Randy and Janice Howard have run the place since 1985 and have long plotted their retirement, only to be foiled by the pleas of others. In January alone they announced their closure, then gave in to appeals from their sons and their customers and reversed their announcement, and now two weeks later have reversed their reversal.
The Howards have also put out a post that their restaurant equipment is for sale. Still, The Planet, by now having announced its closure and nonclosure to the point of strabismus (readers who liked "fenestration" will love that one), will pronounce Randy's gone for good if and when it is leveled by a meteorite or a sign goes up outside announcing it has been bought by Logan's Roadhouse.
Former Dade Sheriff Patrick Cannon has been appointed a new judge in his theft and violation of oath trial. Since Cannon's arrest in 2015 on multiple official misconduct charges, his trial has been postponed three times. All local judges of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, who of course had worked with Cannon in criminal trials in his law enforcement capacity, had recused themselves except for the Hon. Jon "Bo" Woods, who has since retired. A new judge brought in after the retirement, Don Thompson, has now also recused himself.
But on Jan. 17, an order was entered assigning Cannon's case to a temporary judge, G. Grant Bradley, who the order specified may also preside over other local cases as time permits. Bradley is a judge from the Atlanta area who has presided over, and at times been the subject of, other controversial matters.
The assignment of ex-Sheriff Cannon's case to a judge who can hear it in Dade may or may not indicate it will really be heard here when Superior Court holds jury trials in April. A motion by Cannon's attorney to move the trial elsewhere, where Cannon is not so well-known, has been pending since October 2015.
And finally, what is missing from this picture?
Right. The ersatz-Botticelli partially-nude Venus at The Lily Pad on North Main was formerly and famously accompanied by an ersatz-Michelangelo David (below), whose nether portions were at one point covered with children's clothing, whether as a joke or to protect the tender sensibilities of Dade County from David's full and glorious male nekkidity.
The Planet ran articles on David covered and David uncovered and would now be remiss not to mention David disappeared. Lee Riddle, owner with his wife, Liz, of The Lily Pad, said he had not removed the statue but sold it. One way or the other, it is now a case of NAKED NO MORE.
Riddle said he had bought out a whole storage yard of garden statuary and that for all he knows he may yet have another David up his sleeve. He has not checked inventory recently for dread of moving the statues, which weigh hundreds of pounds.
If Riddle does unearth another David, look for the news of it in your friendly neighborhood Planet, under the headline SON OF THE RETURN OF NAKED RIDES AGAIN.