When a business joins the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce, it is presented with a large “Key to the Chamber” at its membership ribbon-cutting. The keys are made right here in Catoosa County by the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School metals class taught by Pat Linz.
“It takes about fifteen minutes to cut, clean and spray-paint a single 16-inch key,” says Linz. “We use a computerized plasma cutting table, angle grinders and a drill press.”
The original design of the carbon steel keys included engraved letters, but the Chamber decided vinyl lettering would be more convenient. Uniktings of Ringgold adds the Chamber logo and motto to the keys, and then they are sent to the Chamber office. The entire process has been completed 50 times since January 2018.
“Every job is a challenge, especially for a high school class,” says Linz. “The students are all amateurs, but they rise to the occasion.”
“I love that the keys are made by LFO students,” says Chamber CEO and President Amy Jackson. “We have such a great partnership with Catoosa County Schools.”
Linz says he encourages his students to follow their career paths while helping to open doors for them. “We have students capable of doing hands-on, blue-collar work. Welding skills are important. We want to build America. Who would build our bridges or cars without welders? I spent 20 years doing steel fabrication before teaching. It’s a good living. It places students in jobs with places like Rotek and Jake Marshall.”
In addition to the ongoing creation of the Chamber keys, LFO students have made benches for their own campus and for Cloud Springs Elementary School, and they made fencing for LFO’s football and softball fields. They are now focused on creating elements for a new dog park that will sit across from Fort Oglethorpe City Hall.
“The keys to the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce are a good way to welcome new businesses,” says Jackson.