There’s an old building on top of Jackson Hill that’s been abandoned for years.
It’s the old city waterworks building and has gone unused for a very long time. But this past Saturday I was invited to a fundraising event for TRED and they were going to use that building all the way on top of Jackson Hill that’s only accessible by gravel trails.
TRED is a local trails organization. They work toward connecting Rome and Floyd County’s trails and creating more trails for the community to use and enjoy. Many of us use the trails in and around Rome for walking, biking, running and hiking and don’t realize that some very determined and hard working people are responsible for making that possible.
So Saturday’s party, called “Twilight on the Trails,” was a fundraiser for this nonprofit. You can’t just drive up to the building so most guests parked at the Civic Center parking lot, then a trolley took us up to the party.
Right from the get-go I could tell it was a well-organized event. The organizers made sure that on a cold, windy night the guests could check in, wait inside the Civic Center and then load up on the trolley, which only took a few minutes to get to the party. It was a fun way to get there, although I thought we were going to careen off the side of the hill at any moment.
The building is large and airy with lots of big windows. It’s got exposed brick walls and a stage at one end. The city recently cleaned it up and it really is a great event space. They put in water fountains and bathrooms.
If you’ve ever been to jail, you’ll get flashbacks in the bathrooms. They’re cinderblock walls and the toilets are metal. But they were clean and that’s all that matters, I suppose.
OK, so again, this was a fundraiser so people paid to be at this party knowing they were supporting TRED and its activities. Your ticket included an open bar. They had beer, wine and seltzers. But the food was what I was most excited about. They had the Varsity food truck cater. The truck was set up just outside the building and folks lined up and could get those delicious chili dogs, cheeseburgers, onion rings, fries and a few other items. There were two condiment tables set up for you to dress your plate. You could go back as many times as you wanted. I got two chili dogs and a ton of fries.
Let me interject here that a lady on the trolley was speaking disparagingly about the Varsity’s food and said she wouldn’t have any because she didn’t like it. Well, lo and behold, I saw her later with a big plate of fries and a burger and I went up to her and said “how the mighty have fallen,” and she said she was begrudgingly giving it another try. I hope she has since changed her tune about the Varsity.
Your ticket also included live music entertainment. Many of you will be familiar with the name Scott Thompson. He’s a local singer/songwriter and performs a lot locally. He and a band consisting of Mark Strickland on drums, Keith Argo on keys and harmonica, Dave Harper on guitar and Shannon Wilson on bass provided some great music. They started off with some blues and some classic rock but picked it up and soon had the crowd dancing and singing along to some great tunes, including one of my favorites, “Ophelia” by The Band. They also played a few... what I call “couples skate” songs, which are the slow dancing songs that some couples danced to — but being single, I used these songs as an opportunity to visit the bar or the jailhouse bathrooms.
Folks were schmoozing, as you do at these things, and it was great to see so many people at the event supporting such a great organization.
Some of the guests included Downtown Development Director Aundi Lesley and her husband, Lloyd; City Manager Sammy Rich and Emily Rich; Rome-Floyd Chamber Director Pam Powers Smith; David and Kathy Mathis; Brooke and Jessica Brinson; RN-T editor John Bailey; Billy and Shannon Newby; Monica Sheppard; Harbor House Executive Director Joe Costolnick and his wife, Emily; Scotty and Sarita Brock; Harry and Dawn Brock; Lisa Hyde; City Clerk Joe Smith; John and Kimsie Kendrick; Dana Thompson; Mary Wollstein; Devon Smyth; Darren Williams; and a ton of other folks too numerous to mention.
The organizers, especially TRED’s Julie Smith, did a fantastic job with making sure guests were comfortable and everyone was having a good time. She and the TRED board of directors should be commended on a successful event. I hope they do it again.
And the city should be commended for taking an interest in the the old waterworks building and breathing new life into it. I think it could be a terrific event space, not unlike the Lindale Mill.
We all benefit from a well-connected trail system. Support TRED and you’re supporting a happier, healthier community.