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Heart of a Healthier Tennessee - Notes on The Commons to THE HILL

Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

Building a Healthier Community

David Barto - May 26 

One could say that the Collegedale region was a healthier Tennessee community before it was cool. The Commons is meant to amplify the work that has already been done. By building a regional farm to table market in the center of a thriving suburban community we will be showcasing the many health benefits of our area. A family will be able to park at The Commons and be able to spend the day mountain biking, trail running, walking on the Green Way, and then come back and shop at the Collegedale Market, and enjoy a concert or movie in the park. The Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation is committed to working with our friends at Southern Adventist University to offering health and wellness classes in The Commons facilities, teaching folks who to buy vegetables at the Market and then how to cook them right.      

      When talking about becoming a healthier Tennessee community I feel as a Tennessean I should take a moment or two to talk about TennCare and the epidemic of loneliness. It is obvious to anyone looking at the numbers that heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle related illnesses are destined to nearly bankrupt our State. Scientists are now pointing to loneliness as a key causal element which is at the root of many of these illnesses. It seems the more “connected” we all are on Facebook, Instagram and other social media, the more “friends” and “followers” we have, the more lonely we are all becoming. The Commons is about bringing folks together, it’s about seeing people, bustling about with people, meeting the family that grows your vegetables or the elderly gentleman who crafted a piece of art. Burlington Vermont has one of the most successful farmers markets in the US, and to quote a farmer who sells there; “The market isn’t just about $8.00 per pound organic arugula, it’s about people and community”. Collegedale, Tennessee is making a big and bold statement with The Commons, we are inviting folks to the heart of our community from our region to get together in the great circle of The Commons.    

      I am not promising that we can cure loneliness in our region but it’s a step, and similar to overcoming many of our worldly ills, one must start somewhere. For many, coming out to The Commons will be that first step. Think about it another way: If we can make a difference in the lives of 40 Tennesseans in a substantive way through The Commons, meaning that they not only embrace humanity again but they start walking or biking or learning to cook fresh vegetables from the Market. Then the investment you make in The Commons will mean that 40 Tennesseans will live longer, they will be happier and more productive, they may, just may not cost the insurance system as much. A healthier community is beneficial in many many ways, it could even save us all quite a bit of money over time.   

     The Commons to THE HILL embraces about the simplest exercise folks can do – walking. It also embraces comradery, as the group of folks walk together across our great State. 

Heritage Health Foods, makers of numerous vegetarian meat substitutes and Kim’s Simple Meals will be sponsoring the support RV and feeding the walkers. Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters from Blue Ridge, Georgia will be sponsoring the walkers with hiking shoes, hiking clothing, and needed goods. Our partners at the Chattanooga Market will be supplying the group with locally sourced vegetables and breads as we cross the State as well. Walking, eating right, comradery are all important aspects of creating a healthier community!       

The following is a personal note I attached to a fundraising letter to one of our locally based health insurance providers, as we have tried to enlist their involvement in The Commons to THE HILL walk.  Who knows if it will do any good, but I think it speaks to the issues at hand and especially why an entities who ensure folks should be interested in The Commons and especially this walk.

“Dear ****,  

296 is the number the actuaries at **** ***** **** ****** ** ********* need to be aware of. 296 pounds is what my "Doc in the Box" told me I weighed a few months ago.  Instead of going on diet pills, or letting it get worse and getting diabetes or a heart attack I started walking.  Your actuaries should care because you have me insured and I could have been an insurance nightmare.  I am dropping the weight, which will help **** ***** **** ****** ** *********'s bottom line.  

Robin Smith has been helping us with The Commons to THE HILL.  I know folks ask your company to get involved in various charitable endeavors all the time, but maybe, just maybe an investment in a community dedicated to prevention, to locally sourced vegetables, and community is a smart thing to do - for the profit margins.

David Barto

I want to include my State Legislative Delegation in this letter because of the preventative aspects The Commons means to this region and this State.  The average cost of a heart attack is around $35,000 but added to that is another $12,000 per year on average for the next 20 years in insurance payments.  Average costs for Diabetes is over $150,000 for the life time of the patient.  Billions of dollars a year are being spent a year in the State of Tennessee on preventable diseases.  Thus I include my State Senator Bo Watson, State Senator Todd Gardenhire, State Representative Mike Carter, State Representative Gerald McCormick, State Representative Patsy Hazlewood, and Mayor  Katie Lamb, Commissioners Tim Johnson, Ethan WhiteDeborah Baker, and Phil Garver.  

I also wanted to say a big thank you to Don OtisLinda Rice, and Jon Fish for believing early on in The Commons to THE HILL walk.  It takes true community minded folks to build something great!

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The Commons to THE HILL schedule

Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2016.

The Commons to THE HILL

David Barto: May 23, 2016

Kick-Off Celebration, June 19th from 6:00 to 9:00pm, all walkers and donors are invited to 5220 Asher Lane for celebratory meal!   

The Walk:   June 21st Leave 5220 Asher Lane, Ooltewah TN 37363 – “Campobello” at 7:00 End the day at Greg A Vital’s buffalo ranch  Camp at the Buffalo Ranch, with barbecue supper (24.5 Miles)   

June 22nd Meet Soddy Daisy elected official at the Soddy Daisy Ballfields at 8:00am, leave out towards Bakewell at 8:30 End the day in Dunlap Colonial Bed and Breakfast Address: 2895 Main St, Pikeville, TN 37367 Phone:(423) 447-7183 (25.5 Miles)   

June 23rd Meet at the Save-O-Lot on 1-11 in Dunlap, Tennessee at 8:00 Walk to the entrance of Fall Creek Falls State Park End the day in Fall Creek Falls State Park Address: 1989 Archie Rhinehart Parkway Spencer, TN 38585 Phone931-946-2800 (25 Miles)   

June 24th Rest day at Fall Creek Falls State Park   

June 25th (Saturday) Meet at the Courthouse in Spencer, Tennessee at 8:00 End the day in McMinnville, Tennessee America’s Best Value Inn Address: 508 Sunny Side Heights, McMinnville, TN 37110 Phone: (931) 474-2570 (22 Miles)   

June 26th (Sunday) Meet at the Meat Market at Newtown, 2694 Nashville Hwy, McMinnville, TN 37110 at 8:00 End the day in Woodbury, Tennessee at the Cannon County Arts Center 1424 John Bragg Hwy, Woodbury, TN 37190 615-563-2787 (23 Miles)       

June 27th (Monday) Meet at the Cannon County Arts Center 8:00 End the day at Georgetown Square, 1776 W Northfield Blvd, Murfreesboro, TN 37129 Stay the evening at the Hampton Inn 325 N Thompson Ln, Murfreesboro, TN 37129 Phone: (615) 890-2424 (21 Miles)   

June 28th Meet at Georgetown Square, 1776 W Northfield Blvd, Murfreesboro, Tn 37129 at 8:00 End the day at Nashboro Village, 2284 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37217 Stay the evening at the Travelodge 95 Wallace Rd, Nashville, TN 37211 (615)-315-5335 (10 Miles)   

June 29th Meet at Nashboro Village, 2284 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37217 End the day at the Hampton Inn at 1919 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203 (615)-329-1144 (9 Miles)   

June 30th  Meet at the Hampton Inn at 1919 West Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203 9:00 End the day at State Capital  (2 Miles)     

This is a more detailed list of stops, mileage per day, and start times than we have had before. We have room for up to 8 walkers to do the whole trip, and up to 6 folks that can come out per day for “day walking”. This will be a fun trip, and especially since we have our good friends Jon FishDon Otis, and Kimberly Meyer Otis at Heritage Health Foods and Chris Thomas and The Chattanooga Market for feeding us, and Linda Rice at Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters for looking after our feet and water supply! Things are coming together, this is going to be fun, come on out and enjoy the scenery of this beautiful State and help raise money to build The Commons!         

Special thanks our good friend John Shackleford for being our official trip coordinator and crew boss!  A huge thank you to my dear friend Robin Smith for helping coordinate fundraising and with Public Relations for this trip to Nashville.  We have exceptional folks helping the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation Inc. on this endeavor. 

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Aggressive Expansion in Collegedale, TN

Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

Rhodes Climate Controlled Storage

 To quote the Joker, "We are expanding aggressively"!:

Jimmy Rhodes and his wife Katelyn Rhodes are bringing in over 40,000 square feet of new climate controlled storage to Ooltewah/Ringgold Road. The Rhodes operate quality establishments and take true pride in their facilities. I have seen Jimmy out watering his trees on a summer morning with 5 gallon buckets or picking up cigarette butts. Jimmy has adhered to the Design and Landscape Standards with pride in his City - these are great community minded people, and I am proud to see them succeed.

The Childcare facility across the street is another example of folks who take pride in their operations. The Best Beginnings facility, operated by the Taslimi family will be a real complement to our City.

Don Howe has seen that Collegedale needs retail, office and restaurant square footage and is filling the niche on Little Debbie Parkway and Lee Highway. Once again, this gentleman takes pride and builds quality facilities.

Taking pride in your town, taking pride in your facilities, taking pride in your region and your customer base. Quality begets quality, and we are seeing that in Collegedale every day. I think it's important to point out those folks that build to the Standards and surpass expectations, who do it because they love their community.

Some do the bare minimum to get by and it shows, well not these folks and I believe we should say "thank you"!

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A Letter to Governor Bill Haslam

Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2016.

Campobello to the Hill route

 Dear Governor Bill Haslam,

A small group of folks from the Collegedale area will be leaving our home at 7:00 a.m. June 21st for a 166 mile, nine day walk to Nashville. Campobello to THE HILL is an adventure to raise money for The Commons here in Collegedale and raise awareness of the benefits of healthier living. The Commons will be the recreational, cultural and civic heart of our regional community as well as a center for Collegedale, Tennessee. When complete, it will house more than 60,000 square feet of Farmers Market, an outdoor soundstage, a new community center and play host to everything from marathon starts, farmers markets, movies in the park, blue grass festivals to painting classes for the elderly and yoga on the green. Phase 1, which includes all the site work and the first market area is going to cost $3,700,000. So far we have in hand or have pledges for more than $1,200,000 towards our goal. This does not include a $1,800,000 match grant that was set up by the City of Collegedale and a local resident. We are hoping to raise another $500,000 in donations from “per miles walked pledges" as we make our way to the Capital. It is our hope that the great State of Tennessee would kindly consider matching the City of Collegedale’s $300,000 investment.

I could talk about the investment of $300,000 as a job creation catalyst or as a way to encourage places for entrepreneurialism because of the more than 400 jobs the local Farmers Market creates. I could talk about how the small investment the State would make in one of the fastest growing, Cities in Tennessee would be rewarded in ever more sales tax dollars, not only from the Farmers Market ($100,000 a year + based on $3,800,000 gross sales), but also from surrounding commercial centers. I could talk about the social impact of family farmers utilizing their land for farming and not selling out to subdivisions. I could talk about how The Commons sits on one of the most utilized Green Ways in the State and all of the bike trails, trail running trails and other opportunities folks will have at their foot tips just by parking at The Commons. There are a lot of things to talk about……..

But I want to talk about TennCare and the epidemic of loneliness for a moment. It’s obvious to anyone looking at the numbers that heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle related illnesses are destined to bankrupt this State. Scientists are now pointing to loneliness as a key causal element which is at the root of many of these illnesses. It seems that the more “connected” we all are on Facebook, Instagram and other social media, the more “friends” and “followers” we have, the more lonely we are all becoming. The Commons is about bringing folks together, it’s about seeing people, bustling about with people, meeting the family that grows your vegetables or the elderly gentleman who crafted a piece of art. Burlington Vermont has one of the most successful farmers markets in the US, and to quote a farmer who sells there; “The market isn’t just about $8.00 per pound organic arugula, it’s about people and community”. Collegedale, Tennessee is making a big and bold statement with The Commons, we are inviting folks to the heart of our community from our region to get together in the great circle of The Commons.

I am not promising that we can cure loneliness in our region but it’s a step, and similar to overcoming many of our worldly ills, you must start somewhere. For many, coming out to The Commons will be that first step. Think about it another way: If we can make a difference in the lives of 40 Tennesseans in a substantive way through The Commons, meaning that they not only embrace humanity again but they start walking or biking or learning to cook fresh vegetables from the Market. If four of those folks are on TennCare, and one of them doesn’t have a heart attack, diabetes or a stroke it will be worth your investment and the State will make money. This is as much about an investment in prevention as it is an investment in sales tax growth and entrepreneurialism. 

Thank you for your time. It would obviously be an honor to see you on June 30th. We will be at the Capitol at 3 p.m. and will have quite the little group. If you would consider just giving us a few minutes to make our case, it would be a great honor to see you. Thank you again!


David C. Barto

Director, Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation"

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For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People

Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2016.

Market Pavilion

 "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People", these are the words inscribed in the stone of the Roosevelt Arch as you enter Yellowstone National Park from Gardener, Montana.

As you enter The Commons from Swinyar Drive you will look up and see those words carved into the front of the entree pavilion. "For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People" is the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation Inc.solemn pledge to the people of this region that The Commons will be built for that purpose.

We will all enjoy concerts, farmers markets, movies in the park, the trees, the fireworks, the community halls, and everything that will take place on The Commons property. But lets talk about the benefits, the unseen yet experienced features that will make The Commons resonate, will propel its reach, and will cause it to have a real impact on many many lives:

Bringing our regional community together, this is probably one of the most important aspects of The Commons. The simple facts are that the more "connected" we are here on social media the more lonely we are becoming. The more we think we are close to people because we are "friends" the fewer friends we actually have. People need other humans, they need contact, they need interaction, they crave conversations, and touch. Humanity functions best when we come together and visit, when we actually see each other and not through a computer or phone screen. Mental health is as important as physical health and we need more places to interact - The Commons will be one of those places.

While talking about mental health lets talk about physical health and well being. You will be able to park you car at The Commons and walk a short distance and enjoy Pickle Ball, the playgrounds, a walk on the Green Way, or walking through Green Briar Cove. You and your family can jump on bike and ride the Green Way to SAU and ride the Biology Trails. Within a couple of years you should be able to walk to the Summit of Softball. On market days you will be able to buy locally sourced fresh food, and homemade breads. Collegedale had a version of Whole Foods before Whole Foods was popular and the Village Market can be reached with a nice walk from The Commons - Collegedale was and is a healthy community - The Commonswill add to that.

For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People that is our promise.

Written by David Barto - April 8

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Posted on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.


David Barto -  Jan 4, 2016 

The Old Faithful Inn was designed by Robert Reamer, and it was said that he: "sketched the plans while coming shakily out of a monumental submersion in malt, and some authorities claim to be able to read that fact in the unique contours".

I feel The Commons is in need of a little "parkitecture" as we move forward with the final plans. Iconic is a word I keep finding myself coming back to and what is more iconic, more "simply American" than the architecture of our wonderful National Parks? Is Robert Reamer's lodge the most beautiful structure ever built? Probably not, but it sure does leave an impression on you doesn't it? Its American, as American as apple pie, as Teddy Roosevelt, as the National Parks themselves, and that iconic "parkitecture" has gone from the Smokey's, to the brow of the Grand Canyon, the valley floor of Yosemite and the cliffs looking out onto Crater Lake, and the sweeping vistas of Glacier and that steamy valley in Yellowstone - it is American. I have always wanted The Commons to feel different, to feel like something new but something familiar, and to feel welcoming and warm - lots of trees and browns, and grass open space and shingles........... Oh well just musing as I look back on how this whole thing got started.

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The Commons: The Circle of Recreation, Culture, and Community

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.

Our Community coming together

David Barto: May 2, 2015 

Saturday Morning’s Thought:

As most know I love history and especially the history of the Great Depression, World War 11, and the story of FDR. So this morning on my walk I started to think about one of the great “what ifs” I often like to ponder. What if FDR and his legions of engineers and workers had only been happy with damming up and controlling the great Tennessee River? Yes, we would have a navigable river, yes we would have beautiful recreational areas, and yes Chattanooga along with dozens of other “near river” communities wouldn’t become inundated with flood water every three years spreading damage and disease. Yes, all of these things would have been valuable services and we could all say that the TVA would deserve a feather in its hat. But that wasn’t all FDR charged his engineers with doing, he charged them providing cheap renewable power for millions of Americans in the rural south, who were basically living in the dark. So the dams were fitted with turbines, which were connected to mighty electricity producing generators, and not only was the raging torrent of flood water managed but power was produced and 75 years later, were once only small towns barely held on, now cities thrive, and millions live and work because of the energy captured by holding back the flood waters.

Now you may ask yourself why on earth the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation is talking at length about TVA, flood management and energy production. CTF started out over eight years ago as the Collegedale Tomorrow Advisory Board, that group of volunteers was tasked with coming up with ways to keep the flood of growth we knew was accelerating towards our community from wrecking everything we loved about our community. So we built dams. But we didn’t build dams to stop growth, with the help our City Manager Ted Rogers, City Engineer Joe Farrow, and City Codes Director Andrew Morket, and with the advice of major stakeholders we crafted ordinances that steered the growth towards a more upscale, long lasting product, that we could be proud of. Since CTAB’s transition into the Planning Commission and the City’s hiring of City Planner Kelly Martin we continued to use ordinances to craft the flood of growth into something manageable, to date I can say with pride that the “dams” are working, the flood has not wrecked our town, we are managing the growth!

But dams without generators are just that; dams. They control the floodwaters, they make lakes, but they do not generate anything of benefit for the public other than places to recreate behind. FDR was right, the dams needed to produce something for the greater good. Collegedale Commons will be the generator. Centered at the heart of a growing region of Hamilton County it will act as the power house in our “dam”. The growth has come, the roads are being built, the factories have come, the people have come, and ever more our coming. The City of Collegedale needs a center, a place to focus all of this growth towards a common center, the City/Region needs Collegedale Commons. If we build the Commons, if we then connect it to the Summit of Softball with a new Green Way extension, we will have a recreational corridor second to none. From this center will spring forth a new town center, not just for our City, but for the region, the Commons will make this future a reality, and I believe it will do so quickly – within 4 years of its construction.

The Commons has always been about bringing folks together in its great circle. It has been about recreation, culture, and community. The Markets will have an impact that will not just be felt in our own region but their impact will help farmers sell their goods, helping them to keep their farms, and conserve the heritage of this great State. The Markets will put people to work doing things they love, providing a direct impact on families from across the region as they cannot only support themselves but also be happy while doing it. The Community Center will provide places for civic groups, church groups, families, and anyone who wants to rent it to have a place to fellowship, come together, and make an impact on our community. The Event Hall will be a place where memories are made, business meetings are held, political speeches will ring forth from and will be used in ways we haven’t even thought of as of yet. All of this, wrapped in a circle, surrounded by a forward thinking, thoughtful, prosperous, and growing City.

The Commons, the time has come, it’s time to make it a reality.

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Thoughts on the Legacy of my Grandparents

Posted on Friday, March 25, 2016.

Our Legacy


A good friend of mine, Mr. Bill Bennett said “Thank you David for all you do to make things better”. I told Bill that I learned from great folks like himself, my good friend Chester Bankston, other good folks like Sabrena Turner Smedley, Randy Fairbanks, Greg A Vital, Franklin Farrow, Bill Hullander, and Mr. Jack Mckee as well as many many others.  I have had a blessed life in that I have had the privilege of knowing and meeting some truly extraordinary people. Without the example of folks like them and so many others there wouldn’t be folks like myself.  I came after and hopefully it will be said I kept up the good work that these good folks started.  Any good qualities I possess are because I had them instilled in me by four kind and wonderful people; my parents Wayne and Anita Barto, my grandparents, then having the luck of knowing lots of other good folks. 

My last surviving grandparent, my grandmother Emily McMillan Metcalf died on Friday and since then I have thought about just how much of who I am today is largely based on my grandparents and the time I spent with them as a child. Grandma was almost 98 when she died, for several years she had dementia.  For the most part it had claimed just about every part of the sweet little old lady that we baked bread with, gardened with, and who was so direction-ally challenged she could get lost in a Target. For better or for worse I have a lot of FDR in me when it comes to things like that, especially those who I am very close to, when they are beyond help. I distance myself, wall people off, avoid things – for that I am not proud.  In fact the day she died I had almost pulled up into the nursing home to say “hi”.  I had a trailer on the truck and the nursing home parking lot was a bear without a trailer much less with one so I did not. But I have been thinking a lot lately about things I learned from Bill and Emily Metcalf, and I think part of the core of who I am and a lot of what I care about now really comes from them and their roll in my life. My grandparents worked tirelessly to help others. My Grandmother worked with the Deaconess group, which grew to what is now the Samaritan Center and cooked for old ladies and gentlemen who lived alone and couldn’t take care of themselves. My grandfather had a list of old ladies he called his “Wida Women”, all little old ladies who were widows or spinsters who he would fix air conditioners for, install fans, fix furniture for, or just about anything else that needed to be done. While doing all of this they owned several rentals, and farmed over an acre and half of gardens, and once they had filled their pantries they shared in the bounty. I learned to try to assist the community, to try to help make life a little better for other folks, and to try to leave the world a bit better than you found it from these two truly genuine little old people. 

The Metcalfs like the a fore mentioned group of folks were just kind and decent people, who believed in putting others first, helped the weak, the innocent, and made our little slice of Hamilton County better for many. The Metcalfs were also self-reliant, tough, and appreciated the self-made, the self-taught, and the resiliency of normal folks. The Metcalfs I believe are the reason I have come to value the Chattanooga Market the way I have. The value I place on it is not just based on my love of going down there on a Sunday afternoons. It is not just the amazing fresh bread that is second only to my Grandma’s. It is not just the organic vegetables, which my Grandpa was growing before “organic” was cool. It is not just the art or the food trucks all of which my grandparents would have enjoyed to no end. My great love for the Market and the reason I want to see it expand and come to Collegedale, becoming a truly regional community asset is based on something else. That something is the fact that the market allows for folks to help themselves by creating/growing a product and then allowing for a place for them to sell it. The pride of self-support was something my grandparents always had, they were “Depression kids”, and they knew better than most what it means to support yourself. Hundreds of good folks are working every day because of that Market and others like it around the country and I want to see that resource expanded for them and I want to see it expanded in Collegedale, the place the Metcalfs called home for over 60 years. 

The Market at Collegedale Commons is about many things and it will mean something different to everyone who goes but that is what it will mean to me, it will be a reminder of where I came from and the people who taught me in large part to be the person I am today.  

Thank you for reading the ramblings of a tired self-taught fundraiser, just some thoughts and perhaps this will answer a few questions. 

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Collegedale: Land Use Plan

Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2016.

Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation Logo

 I am proud to announce that thanks to the hard work of our City Planner, "Kelly" K Andrew Martin, the City Commission of Collegedale passed the Land Use Plan for the entire City on Monday night (3/23/16).

Kelly, Robert, and "Intern" have done an exceptional job and I am happy to be on the Planning Commission that voted to adopt it in November. Collegedale is at the epicenter of a growth boom as we have seen this week with the announcement of the new FEDEX hub right at our doorstep. Let's also keep in mind that our friends at McKee Foods are expanding, Paladin Attachments is booming, SAU employs over 350 folks, and one of our best kept secrets is Newcomb Spring right off of Ooltewah-Ringold Road near The Commons. Add to all of this the great vision that Jeff Londis has for the old Ooltewah Elementary School site, and the centers Don Howe is adding along Little Debbie. Collegedale is home to some of the best elder care facilities in the South East with Greg A Vital and Franklin Farrow's Morning Pointe and the Garden Plaza built by Farrell Preston and operated by the Preston family.

Collegedale is growing and growing fast, the concepts of the Land Use Plan, the concepts of the Planning Commission and the City Commission, and the Foundation have been to manage the growth much in the manner TVA manages the Tennessee River. TVA didn't "stop" the river, it managed it, it used it to make energy, it used the river to make recreational areas for the public good. That is what the Planners and the City fathers are doing with our growth, they are managing and working on ways to utilize it for the public good.

By, David Barto

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Lore of Grindstone Mountain

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2016.

Collegedale from above

 My dear friend Dr. Bob Loren gave me this wonderful report.  It was written by his mother-in-law Ms. Anderson, over 80 years ago and is quite wonderful, because she was actually able to talk to many of the folks who lived on the grand old mountain.

Term Paper for the Class, History of the South

Professor: E.T. Watrous, PH.D. 

By: Marjorie C. Anderson 

Lore of Grindstone Mountain

Southeast of Lee Highway, east of White Oak Mountain and North of Collegedale rises a small mountain which is called Grindstone Mountain.  There are different levels to the mountain.  According to a map of this section the highest point is 1400 feet above sea level.  According to another authority it is 750 feet above the surrounding country-side. 

It is quite evident that the name Grindstone was given the mountain by area residents because grindstones were made from the stone of the mountain by a resident who lived on the side of the mountain.  He hauled them by sled about the country and sold them for grinding grain.  Defective grindstones can still be seen, I am told, that verify the fact that such were made here.

Geologically the mountain seems to be the same as the formation the Bauxite Ridge in Apison, Tennessee.  Bauxite can be found on Grindstone; and at one time, Mrs. Guille tells me, the owners of the mine considered mining on Grindstone.  It seems to be quite unrelated to the formation of the Cumberlands.  Even the mountain itself is divided, in that one end differs from the other.  One end is covered with huge boulders while the other looks more like the surrounding hills.  One person stated that it seems as if one side had been pushed into shape and later another upheaval had raised the other part.

The present owner recalls stories told her by an old resident when she was just a girl about the Indians who used to cross Grindstone.  They camped for periods of time on the top.  One story tells of them camping in a cave.  No one seems to know of cave now, and at one time a reward was offered to anyone finding one.  If the Indians used a cave, it has since been hidden by a cave-in or fallen rock.

One myth is that at one time the site of the mountain was the bottom of a body of water.  Some cataclysm formed the earth into the air and formed the present hill.  So, today, one can hear water running underground in a certain place atop the formation.

Probably the height of the mountain lent itself as a valuable look-out for the Indians.  It is said that more could be seen from the old “Signal Tree” which used to stand high on the mountain than from Look Out Mountain.  The old tree stood long after the War Between the States, but was finally down and burned in a fire that swept over the areas. 

According to an old map of Indian trails must have passed along the foot of Grindstone in different directions.  Grape, both Scuppernongs and Muscadines grew along its sides and probably invited the Indians at the season of the year when they were ripe.  The area was probably a stronghold during battles of the tribes because many, many arrowheads have been found when the fields were plowed.  

One might wonder whey settlers chose to live atop this rise which would be inaccessible.  There were probably several reasons.  One of which would be for protection.  It is thought that at least one resident used it as a refuge from personal enemies.  Another chose it as his home as a retreat from society where he might live in happiness away from staring eyes.  Frost did not come as early in the Fall as in the valleys below nor did the frost continue as late in the Spring.  Vegetables grew here that did not thrive so well below, and the fruit was beyond compare.  No one overlooked the beauty of the place or the grand and majestic view from its height.  

“Man is a strange animal.  The more inaccessible, the rougher the lay of the land, and the wilder it appears, the stronger is the appeal that it has for certain individuals.  Even before the removal of the Cherokee Indians in 1838 from this land, there was a spot on Grindstone Mountain where a “squatter” slipped in and made him a home” Robert Sparks Walker, Chattanooga Newspaper.

As has been stated, one can view the country for many miles in any direction and behold the beauty of the landscape, mountains, valleys, streams, and villages.  For a description of the area I wish to quote from a report written by Major General William S. Rosecrans.  This report was written following the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863.  “The Cumberland range is a lofty mass of rocks separating the waters which flow into the Cumberland from those which flow into the Tennessee and extending beyond the Kentucky line, in a southwesterly direction, nearly to Athens, Alabama.  Its northwestern slopes are steep and numerous streams that water the Middle Tennessee.  Its top is undulated or rough, covered in timber, soil comparatively barren and in dry seasons scantily supplied with water…….”  Robert Sparks Walker as quoted in the Chattanooga Paper

After an excursion with a group of nature enthusiasts Mr. Walker of Chattanooga wrote; “The trail (north road) winds almost directly to its lofty objective, and elevation of 750 feet above the surrounding valley.  The stones in the path have been tumbled about by human feet since the days when the Cherokees walked these hills.  It winds about the oaks, ash, hickory, black gums and other trees common to White Oak Mountain, and through beds of wild flowers whether your take the trail in spring, summer, or autumn.  Soon the feet lift your eyes to a height sufficient to let you view the beauty of the hills and valleys to the west as far as the Cumberland Mountains form the horizon.  As the end of the trail that leaves you fully on the height of Grindstone……Its top however is different from the nearby mountains and hills, for its broad enough to support a farm.”

“A hike along the winding road leads one across little ravines carpeted with wild flowers and canopied dogwoods, shrubs and forest trees that are strangers to the deafening noise of modern machinery.  And before the trail is left, it leads one into an infant rock city where huge sandstones stand fantastically about, giving those who choose to stand on their lichen-covered roofs, a magnificent view of the dry valley below and all the intervening hills lying between it and the southern end of the Great Smoky Mountains.”  Mr. Walker – Chattanooga Paper

Owners of Grindstone

It would be hard to say just who the first settler might have been since it is impossible to trace old deeds in Hamilton County.  The Chattanooga courthouse burned with all records hence the only deed available is the deed held by Mrs. Ned Guille, the present owner of Grindstone Mountain.  Mrs. Guille is the daughter-in-law of Andros Guille, who bought the mountain in 1886. 

It is evident that there were several owners of the top of the mountain at one time.  One plot of 79 acres was once owned by a Watkins family: while another family by the name of Wells owned a plot of 40 acres.  Another 40 acres belonged to the Linton’s.  Mr. Watkins is said to have built the main home on the mountain.  How long this family lived in that home is not known.  Perhaps something of this family’s history might be found if time were spent tracing families by that name.  A Colonel Samuel, of whom little seems to be known, bought this home and planted a huge vineyard.  Other fruit trees grew here and old neighbors say that the aroma from the orchards and vineyard used to float overt the valley below. 

The family history of the next owner would make a volume so it will be hard to condense the story of these fine people herein.  Andros Guille, the son of a physician, first came to the South as a Union soldier.  From his diary we learn that he hardly knew in which part of the country he was traveling.  He came into Tennessee and on toward Chattanooga by the way of Nashville.  His company, along with the rest of the Union companies, were chasing General Bragg; however, they were unaware of whom they were chasing at the time.  Sargent Guille missed the terrible battle of Chickamauga since he was assigned to camp duty that day.  However he took part in the fighting on Missionary Ridge.  

During the fighting on the ridge Mr. Guille was shot across the face.  This injury was so severe that those who were taking injured back to the hospital decided at first to let him die on the mountain side.

Andros Guille lost much of face as well as much blood, but he did not die as all thought he surely would.  When morning came he was asked if he had a message to send to his wife.  He retorted “Just tell her that she will not lead me around by the nose again.”  The remarked at that moment that Mr. Guille would not die, he said that a man with that sense of humor would live to make others happy with his wit. 

Andros Guille went back to Ohio to his family, but he did not harbor a hatred of this country where he met such a terrible accident.  His son Will had been sent by the railway company to be Station Master in Ooltewah.  He was invited by Colonel Samuel to visit Grindstone and was told that the mountain was for sale.  He felt certain that his father would be interested and wrote home immediately.  Andros remembered the beautiful hills, so when he received the letter from his son Will telling of the lovely mountain top for sale, he and his remaining members of this family came to Tennessee to live.

The Guilles enjoyed their home here for several years.  The vineyard produced many carloads of grapes that were shipped to different ports of the United States.  The grapes were loaded on box cars on a spur near the end of Grindstone.  One can hardly picture this over-grown farm as the busy place that it used to be.  As many as 20 workers were hired at one time in harvesting the grapes.

Mr. and Mrs. Guille were buried there and members of the family visit the mountain to exchange memories of the days gone by, happy days on Grindstone.

So stands old Grindstone in silence.  Many are the secrets the old hill still holds.  Indian trails across her back and her feet; the first white man’

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The Market: An Incubator for Small Business

Posted on Friday, March 18, 2016.

The Collegedale Market

  We went down on the Saturday of the opening day of the Chattanooga Market and Chris Thomas and his crew put on a fantastic event. I went down mainly to get pictures for our own fundraising materials and for our forth coming website. I also went to the Saturday event because only a few people seemed to know that it was the opening day, everyone expected Sunday, so Saturday was more laid back and allowed me to take time to talk to the vendors and farmers. There is a larger narrative to tell than just Collegedale needing a recognizable center. Multi-Generation farmers are as key to the conservation movement as land trusts are. The more access they have to directly sell their goods to the public, that means the more money they can make to support their families. If these folks can support their families, then they are no where near as likely to sell their land to developers and have ever more housing developments spreading out across the landscape. Plus, if you think about it; "what is more American than the family farm?" I want to build these market pavilions in Collegedale so we can encourage these fine folks to keep on using the land for something other than tract housing.

  There are dozens of single mothers, former executives, former factory workers down at the market every week selling their art, their homespun clothing, or even furniture - at some point a good many folks were down on their luck. But they had talents and they decided to do something about it, they make things now, they sell things now, and they are proud of themselves and their goods. America was built by folks who didn't give up, they persevered, and the Markets provide an incubator for small businesses to prosper and these folks to support themselves. This isn't just a Republican story, it isn't just a Democrat story, it is most of all its an American story! Which is why I believe so much in the work of the Public Market Company and why I have felt for over 10 years we needed such a place here in Collegedale.

By: David Barto

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The Commons Groundbreaking

Posted on Monday, March 14, 2016.

The Commons Groundbreaking

Welcome to The Commons, I am David Barto Director of the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation.  First, I want to thank each of you for coming out to Collegedale this afternoon and I want to thank Commissioner Smedley, County Mayor Coppinger, our Congressman; Chuck Fleischmann, and Collegedale Tomorrow’s Chairwoman Jill Howe for speaking this afternoon.  I also want to thank our Architects at Hefferlin and Kronenburg and our contractors at EMJ for partnering with the City and the Foundation on this endeavor.  What you see around you is the temporary home for the Collegedale Market that will operate on Wednesday and Saturday evenings starting May 4th.  This project would not have been possible without the cooperation of our partners at the City of Collegedale.  The Collegedale City Commission, City Manager Rogers, Public Works Director Eric Sines, and his Public Works guys deserve special praise for their hard work and know how.  Alas I am lot like one of those old renaissance artists, in that I know what I want but it takes a team of real craftsmen to bring it all together.  Without our partners at the Public Market Company there would be no Collegedale Market, the Chattanooga Market is in its 16th year and we are excited to see a small part of it come to our area.  The last thank you goe to my incredible Board membership of the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation and our donors who have helped the City of Collegedale buy this beautiful piece of property and who have come together to give or pledge over $1,200,000 of the $3,700,000 needed to complete Phase One of The Commons without using any match money so far.


I would like to take a few minutes to talk about Collegedale.  Collegedale is a City with a “can do” attitude, it is a City whose citizens and leaders dare ask: “why can’t we?”, and it’s a City who is built on and made stronger by diversity.


It took a “can do” attitude for a group of music lovers and musicians to come together and start the East Tennessee Symphony and Orchestra 10 years ago and to keep their group together through rains and floods they have been the epitome of “can do”!  It took that same attitude for a group of volunteers and stakeholders to work together starting in 2008 on the Collegedale Tomorrow Advisory Board as that little group worked on, researched, and then lobbied for planning, tighter standards, smaller signs, and the need to bring on board City Planners and a for us to have a City Economic Development and Planning Department. 


Collegedale is the type of City whose citizens ask “why can’t we?”  We have incredible Pickle Ball Courts because a sweet little older lady asked that very question.  We have the Wolftever Green Way System, the Imagination Station Playground, and now The Commons because of those simple words coupled with good ideas.


Collegedale is a diverse City and it is changing by the day.  47 years ago the City was basically founded as protective bubble around Southern Missionary College the McKee Foods Corporation, to keep from being annexed by our friends in Chattanooga.  Through growth and development the City has grown in size and population, Collegedale is now home to over 10,000 people.  Where, once an overwhelming number of folks where of one denomination now we are home to folks who follow dozens of religious creeds.  We are home to hundreds of employees of VW, Wacker, Amazon, folks who travel to downtown Chattanooga daily, as well as McKee Foods and Southern Adventist University.  As the town has changed demographically our town has grown stronger, the change growth has brought has made us a better community.


A couple of years back I was made aware of an elderly lady here in town who as my grandfather would call her was a “wee widow woman”.  She had dozens of downed trees on her property from storms, grown up bushes, and her home needed a lot of help.  It was a “can do” attitude that brought out over 30 volunteers to clean up Miss Bettie’s property.  When we needed more than just chainsaws one of our volunteers said to himself “why can’t we” and went home and brought in his tractor to pull logs out of the woods.  And it was our strength that we gained through our diversity that we had over 30 volunteers come together on a Sunday to help out a little elderly Adventist lady.  That group was predominately non-Adventist – it was made up of Catholics, Baptists, members from the local Church of God and Church of Christ churches, Ooltewah High School kids and Collegedale Academy kids, Commissioners, Judges, retired pastors and members from the local Kiwanis club all worked together. 


It was that afternoon when I decided in my mind that The Commons was possible.  That yes it would be a lot work, it would be a lot of money, but it was possible because of the kind of community we had created here in Collegedale.  Thank you all for coming out this afternoon. 


One last thank you goes to my wife, Leanne Barto and my daughters Aurelia and Arliegh.  Leanne has put in as many hours on the Foundation as I have, she has cooked meals for hundreds of people either for parties, or when we have folks over to the cottage.  The girls and her have been patient, understanding, and true partners on this endeavor and before anyone claps for me I think we owe them an ovation for everything they have done to make this project a reality.

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Planning Advocate Award

Posted on Friday, October 2, 2015.

Planning Advocate Award

I was honored to be nominated for the Planning Advocate Award from the American Planning Association Tennessee Chapter. I was more honored to have won it, and happy to accept it this morning at the convention center. Without the help of Leanne Tolonen Barto, our financial director Mike Barto, and our stakeholders like Chris McKee, Jack McKee, Franklin Farrow, Greg A Vital, Gordon Bietz, and others this would not have been possible. A big thank you to my partners on the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation's Board of directors. This is an award for all of us, because without this group and a truly interested community this wouldn't have been possible. A big thank you also to our City Planner K Andrew Martin for writing up the nomination and being a true partner in everything CTF has done and will continue to do!

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Getting to know your neighbors

Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

Commons Unveiling

"There's a crisis of connection - a lack of real community. And as the world population grows more urban and more screen obsessed, recent research confirms that loneliness, may be the next big public health issue" - Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman via REI

Bringing folks together, bringing them together in the great circle of The Commons is at the heart of what The Commons is all about. Whether you are getting to know the farmer that grows your vegetables, or sitting with your neighbor's enjoying a concert, The Commons is about bringing folks together.

I have stated almost the same sentiments in fundraising letters; that as we grow more "connected" by the electronic gizmos in our pockets we all seem a little more separate, a little more distant, and just plain lonelier.

To paraphrase Bernie Sanders the Burlington Farmers Market isn't about $8.00 a pound organic arugula as much as it is about getting to know your neighbor's!

The Commons, the need is there, the purpose is clear, it's time to build this legacy deserving, Collegedale defining project.

David Barto
Director, Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation

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The Collegedale Commons Story

Posted on Thursday, April 23, 2015.

The Collegedale Commons

Good evening! Tonight I have the privilege of helping unveil the Collegedale Commons Project, a culmination of 5 years of intense research, planning, and collaboration between the City, County, stakeholders, and the citizens of Collegedale. Why all of this for a commons area? Lets start by looking at the word; “Commons”. “Pertaining or belonging equally to an entire community.” I think that definition is a good place to start, because it describes perfectly the goals and visions held by the City government and community stakeholders.

By the time it is complete, Collegedale Commons will be the cultural/recreational hub, not only for the City of Collegedale, but for the entire eastern end of Hamilton County. It will be home to a new community center which will triple the current space that the Fuller Community Center provides today. It will provide a home for the East Tennessee Symphony Orchestra, both in that it will provide an open air soundstage and practice facilities. The Commons will be centered around over an acre of lush lawn where over 4000 people will be able to enjoy concerts, movies, and other events from the soundstage. Surrounding the lawns will be over 56,000 square feet of open air Farmers Market structures where hundreds of local farmers and artisans will be able sell their wares directly to the public on Wednesdays, Saturday evenings, and Sundays. Facing the soundstage across the lawn will be a 15,000 square foot event Hall. Built of heavy timber and stone, it will provide a place for weddings, large meetings, parties, and community forums, along with educational and cultural programs as it will be able to seat 500 participants at round tables or almost 1000 in rowed seating. This event Hall will not only have room but also has a commercial kitchen so these events can be catered directly from the Hall itself. When complete this will be center from which bike races will start, marathons return to, and festivals are centered around.

The Commons will not be an island unto itself. Right next to it, our City Hall campus, which has the City Library, Imagination Station, and the Pickle Ball Courts, encourages community interaction and provides a place for healthy family activities. The Commons will border the Green Way system which links directly to the Cities Veterans’ Park and another 8 acres of dedicated Green Space. All together the Commons/City Hall Campus will total over 25 acres of dedicated Green Space, civic structures, and parking for the citizenry of this region of Hamilton County to recreate in – all at the heart of the City, at the crossroads of some of the most well traveled roads, and on some of the most commercially valuable and beautiful land our area has to offer – Collegedale is a town that values recreation, culture, and civic structures.

The Commons story has many authors. This has not been and will never be one person’s narrative and I want to spend a little bit of time thanking a few key folks in our story.

I would like to thank Mr. Jack McKee for taking the initiative and helping fund what culminated in the Ross/Fowler plan 20 years ago. Every story has a beginning and ours begins with this ambitious plan, a plan that called for Collegedale to have a true center, new zoning rules, and large Green spaces for the citizens to enjoy – we thank you for your vision, thoughtfulness, spirit of giving, and friendship.

Second, is the East Tennessee Symphony and Orchestra, this is a group of volunteer musicians who just love to perform and give back to their community. Five years ago their Board came to the City with a big idea, they wanted to build a soundstage attached to a small civic meeting venue opening up on to the Veterans’ Park property. This was really where the Commons had its beginning.

Melissa Farrow and Susanne Farrow McKee are key players in our narrative because every time either one of them goes on a trip they have found Farmer’s Markets and sent me pictures of them. In fact I cannot think of a discussion I have had with my friend Melissa in the last 14 years that hasn’t involved the need for a Farmer’s Market in Collegedale, and the need for that Market to be beautiful!

We owe the name; “The Commons” to my good friend Dale Deason.

My family has been going to the Chattanooga Market almost every other Sunday since Chris Thomas, Paul Smith, and Melissa Seragusa took it over. The City of Collegedale and the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation could not ask for better partners as we move forward with the Commons project than our partners at the Public Market Company.

Without the support and encouragement for City Manager Ted Rogers and the City of Collegedale Commissioners, this endeavor may never have come this far. Their foresight and commitment to quality civic projects has inspired all involved to keep pushing to make this dream a reality.
The last thank you goes to our Founders group of donors to the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation. Without their belief in the work the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation had done and would do we would not be here today. Setting up a non-profit 501c3 is not easy, it’s not for the faint of heart, but thanks to the donors, and our financial director Mike Barto of Barto/Hoss & Company, along with our attorneys Jim Catanzaro and Glenn Stophel from Chamblis and Bahner we got it done.

Obviously the focus of this evening is the formal unveiling of the Collegedale Commons, but I also wanted to touch briefly on the goals and purpose of the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation. CTF can best be visualized as a three legged stool, each leg as important as the other for the stool to stand. Planning, Preservation, and the Commons make up those three legs.

Planning – City Manager Rogers and the City Commission have fully embraced the concept of Planning and Economic Development. I cannot say enough good things about City Manager Rogers, our City Planner Kelly Martin, Mayor Katie Lamb along with the current Commission, and the Planning Commission under the leadership of Chairman Jimmy Eller. We could not have asked for better partners than these folks.

Collegedale is filled with a group of citizens don’t believe in the terms “no we can’t”, or “wouldn’t it be nice, if”. Collegedale is a “yes we can” kind of community. We have proven that yes we can have high commercial architectural design, landscaping, and sign standards and still have unparalleled economic growth! We have proven that yes we can protect steep slopes, hill tops, and our waterways while still allowing for development. We have proven that we can do just about anything we set our minds to and this why we will not only build Collegedale Commons but we will see it spur a new town center development around it, creating a new center for this great small city.

Preservation – Collegedale Tomorrow has nearly completed its first preservation project, and over the next ten years the Foundation would like to purchase preservation easements on or outright purchase many other local historical sites.

Along with these projects, Franklin Farrow and I have slated out 10 spots to place and build historic markers like the one being installed at the Spring House telling the history of the Cherokees, James County, and Ooltewah/Collegedale.

The historic homes would be purchased, restored and then have playgrounds/picnic facilities built around them, and be linked in to either the sidewalk or Green Way system. The homes could be used for offices for various City agencies, small conference centers, or leased out. I am modeling this program off of the Heritage Park off of East Branerd Road.

I believe we can measure the quality of our society by how we care for the earth, preserve and remember our past, and care for the children, thus the importance of preservation to the overall cause. But, there is another part for preservation to play in the overall plan for the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation and our work, and that is that by remembering our past, we are bringing people together. If we are going to ever come together as a true community we need to honor those who came before us, and preserve our united past.

The Commons – Well I am happy to say the City owns the land! Thanks to the generosity of one donor the City was able to purchase the 8 acres. Over the last several months we have been working with a hometown girl – Heidi Hefferlin and her husband Craig Kronenberg of H&K Architects to design and do the engineering and budgeting for Collegedale Commons. Three years ago I sent Heidi a sketch that I had made on the back of a church bulletin which showed a stage opening up on to lawn, two markets, and an attached community center – today we get see H&K’s vision for Collegedale Commons. We asked for something special and I think when you see the Commons you will see that we got what we asked for!

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