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Ready to celebrate the Fourth
Patriotism at The Post is July 3 in Fort Oglethorpe

Celebrating the birth of the United States takes center stage at the 11th annual "Patriotism at The Post" concert and fireworks show slated to take place at historic Barnhardt Circle Monday, July 3, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The festivities include a patriotic concert and sing-a-long, food, kid's activities, coloring contest and the naming of the Most Patriotic Boy and Girl, followed by fireworks at dark.

Children, ages 10 and younger, can compete by dressing in their patriotic best wearing red, white and blue, and prizes will be awarded. The Patriotic Kid's coloring contest winners will also be announced during the opening ceremonies. Boy Scout Troop 316 from Flintstone will present the colors at the opening ceremony.

Tabernacle Big Band will headline the concert with their

1940s-era band of trumpets, trombones, saxophones and rhythm section. The band performs jazz and patriotic arrangements as well as "Glenn Miller" style swing music.

The patriotic singa-long encourages the audience to join in with song sheets available. All military veterans are recognized and asked to stand when their branch of service song is played during the "Service Salute."

"The Army Post at Fort Oglethorpe played a huge role in the development of our nation," said Chris McKeever, director of the 6th Cavalry Museum and member of the Fort Oglethorpe Tourism Association. "What better place to celebrate our nation's birth than here on the polo field with great music, family fun and fireworks."

Patriotism at The Post is free to attend but there is a $5-per-car parking fee.

Modern Woodmen of America, a member-owned fraternal financial services organization has awarded a community matching grant to support Patriotism at The Post. Liberty Baptist Church is sponsoring kid's activities and games and Apex Inflatables will have bounce houses for the kids to enjoy for a charge. Cornerstone Medical Center is providing shuttle service for those who need extra help getting onto the polo field and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School's Football team is also volunteering.

Peerless Woolen Mills has new owner

Steven Henry

The one-million-square-foot mill that once employed more than 3,000 and was the heart of Rossville before a devastating fire on June 10, 1967, has been purchased by Steven Henry at auction.

Henry's winning bid of $125,000 was for the mill and its nearly 27-acre site was accepted Thursday afternoon, June 15, nearly an half-century since the mill's closing.

A builder and developer, Henry also serves as chairman of the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners and was unable to attend the "walk through" of the mill due to being out of town for commissioners training.

"I got there five minutes before the auction," he said, adding that he was as surprised as anyone that his was the winning bid.

All qualified bidders were told the facility would either require renovation to meet current codes or be demolished and its rubble be properly disposed of.

Henry said he has no definite plans for the property, but is aware that there are issues concerning storm sewers, water lines and the possible need for the abatement of asbestos and other environmental hazards.

"One of my dreams is to turn it into condos," he said.

Whether that dream comes true — and nothing can move forward until after the sale closes within the next three weeks — Henry views this as an opportunity to bring a piece of history back to life.

"It will be a longterm project," he said. "And I want it be part of the ongoing efforts to revitalize Rossville."

Ft. Oglethorpe awards bid for renovation of old gym

Jeff Long

The city of Fort Oglethorpe awarded a recreation bid during a City Council meeting held Monday, June 12, for renovation of an old gymnasium just off Lafayette Road.

The gym at 221 Second St. has been out of commission for a number of years, which initiated both the city and county's interest in revitalizing the facility for local sports use.

In May 2016, Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County entered an intergovernmental agreement regarding the project.

A little more than a year later, the bid has been awarded and teams could be playing ball in the revamped building by the end of the year, according to Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Long.

"We had the bid opening on June 6 and received three bids," Long said. "The overall low bid was submitted by Robert Roberts LLC out of Chattanooga at $611,000.

"All three bids came in under what we expected. The architect was estimating somewhere in the neighborhood of $800,000 to $850,000. They've (the contractor) given us a timetable of 150 days, so hopefully we can have it ready for the basketball season, which usually starts in December."

Long explained that the building is actually owned by Catoosa County, which necessitated the initial intergovernmental agreement.

"The county owns the building, but we'll run it and maintain it," he said. "We'll rent it out and pay the utilities. The building was purchased in 2009 through county SPLOST funds that were designated for Fort Oglethorpe recreation."

The 12,000-plus square-foot facility will be multi-purpose, housing not only a basketball court but also accommodating volleyball and indoor batting cages for baseball.

"The basketball goals and bleachers are not included in this bid, but they will be added later, as will a scoreboard that'll be furnished by CocaCola," Long said.

As far as funding goes, City Manager Jennifer PayneSimpkins said more than $300,000 in reimbursement funds were allocated for the project by the county per last year's agreement.

"The county will contribute $368,832.29 from 2009 SPLOST funds dedicated to recreation improvements," PayneSimpkins said. "The city will contribute $242,167.71 in 2014 SPLOST funds allocated to the city."

The overall project includes total renovation of the 10,760-square-foot facility and the addition of about 1,500 square feet of restrooms and office space. Insulation will be installed as well as all-new electric and plumbing systems as part of the renovation.

Payne-Simpkins added that this project has been in the works for awhile as a way of promoting sports and recreation in the community.

"This project is a top priority for the mayor and city council," she said. "The community expressed a need for such a facility, and the mayor and council worked with Catoosa County to make it a reality."