Signs and Wonders: Trenton City Commission Searches for a Brand

November 16, 2017

​Signs were a big subject at Monday night’s regular November meeting of the Trenton City Commission. A nonprofit organization that had sprung up expressly for the purpose of supplying Trenton attractive new signs to inform and entice visitors made a presentation at the Nov. 13 meeting and secured the city commission as applicant on a state tourism grant it wishes to obtain to that end.


Real estate speculator William Back, speaking for the group, Scenic Dade Development Company, said the chairman and driving force behind the group was Jamison Griffin (right), the former principal of Dade Middle School who was replaced this year by Dr. Sandra Spivey.


The signs, said Back, would not merely be handsome symbols or brands of the town but would “help visitors find places of interest, such as our tourism information center, Library, Courthouse, lineman school, Cloudland Canyon State Park, the hang gliding resort and future tourist sites,” according to a handout provided by Back.


The signs would be deployed “at entry points to the City on 11 and 136 Highways, at Interstate 59, and at least one location within the City,” reads the handout. Additionally, other signs would be positioned on private land or federal property at the interstate and at the north end of town.


The grant is only $5000, said Back, but George Nelson (left), founder and CEO of the Southeast Lineman Training Center (SLTC), had generously offered to pay the lion’s share of the project’s cost. “We’re looking at about a $21,000 budget,” said Back.


Back said at the meeting that the amount of SLTC’s contribution is nebulous as yet; but his handout listed it at $16,000.


The college, which brings three classes a year of 200-plus hungry young students to eat at Trenton restaurants and fill up at Trenton gas stations, plus their friends and families for three graduation ceremonies annually, not to mention energy- and communications-industry moguls who advise on the curriculum and hire the graduates, has become an important economic force in the town and a Trenton attraction in its own right.


As such, and given Nelson’s projected financial contribution, a hard-hatted-worker-on-a-pole motif figures prominently in the proposed sign designs presented by Scenic Dade Development (below).


So do silhouettes of a hiker, presumably representing Cloudland Canyon, and a hang glider, presumably advertising Lookout Mountain Flight Park.

But what of a sign for the town itself? The group’s handouts feature a capital T in a circle with a stylized tree, alternating with the name TRENTON in all caps with one or more of the aforementioned silhouettes.


Which jogged The Planet’s reptilian atavistic memory: Had there not been some talk of a logo for Trenton before?


In fact, an examination of The Planet’s reptilian atavistic archives reaped the intelligence that the Trenton City Commission had, at Mayor Alex Case’s recommendation, approved in May 2016 expenditures of $1848, plus a $60 monthly maintenance fee, to pay Trenton marketing firm Brikwoo to design a logo and website for the town.


A year and a half later, as The Planet recently reported, the Trenton website is up but not running. You can’t find it by Googling but you may get there by typing into your navigation bar. Though why you should do so will have to be curiosity so far because the site is not yet set up to do business. It has a picture of City Hall, a picture of the town square's gazebo and a picture of the mayor—and not much else just now. Mayor Case told The Planet the plan is for designer Brian Wooten to teach the commission how to use it at some point.


As for the town logo, Brikwoo had submitted six ideas for a town logo (above)  that May of 2016; the mayor passed them out for the consideration of the city commissioners; and The Planet duly published them for the delectation and input of its readers.


They were never mentioned again.


But on Monday night, questioned after the meeting, Mayor Case said the city had in fact chosen a logo. Though the city government would not switch to it officially until it ran out of its old stationery, said Case, it already graced his business card, and as The Planet later noticed it is also featured on the town’s unused website.


Trenton’s mysterious new logo is not one of the six presented to the commissioners or the public but a previously unseen design featuring an American flag and a building that may be meant to represent the city train depot or may have some other significance to which The Planet is not privy, a category that increasingly covers some serious ground. Here it is:

At the Monday night meeting, Dade County Public Library manager Marshana Sharp said the library is, with the major maintenance grant it is also using to build a recording studio and new parking spaces, buying a large community sign which it plans to position and use for the same purposes as those described by the nonprofit group.


Dade Chamber of Commerce director Cheryl Painter said Georgia offers a $10,000 tourism grant for the same purposes as those described by the nonprofit group, which the Chamber had not applied for because the Dade County Commission was applying for it with the intention of using it to improve the historic Dade Courthouse.


The Trenton Council after more such discussion agreed to be the official applicant for the $5000 grant as requested by the Scenic Dade Development Company.


When will any new Trenton signs spring forth? And what will they feature? Will Trenton be represented by one symbol or many? By a T and a tree? A hiker and a pole climber?  An American flag and Mystery Building Blob?


Reader, The Planet cannot say.


The Planet can only await a sign.

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