IF YOU GO
What: Drivin'n'Cryin' and Friends: A Benefit for Ringgold
Where: Rhythm & Brews, 22 Market St., Chattanooga
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
How much: $25; $50 VIP
For more information: Call 423-779-2543
When the deadly April 27 tornado passed Ken Pitts' home on Ooltewah-Ringgold Road, the powerful winds knocked down every tree in his yard except one.
A small river birch is the only reminder Pitts has of the once-lush canopy from more than 100 massive oaks and hickories.
"I plan on replacing quite a few," he said. "But I can't replace all we had."
Thousands of trees in Ringgold, Ga., were snapped in half or ripped from the ground when the tornado plowed through the area.
A locally organized group is hoping to replace many of the lost trees this fall. But the biggest challenge will be raising the money to fund such an effort.
The Phoenix Group and other groups in the area are hosting a benefit concert Sunday featuring the Atlanta rock band Drivin'n'Cryin' in hopes of raising enough money to begin planting new trees in the fall.
The concert will be the first organized effort to raise money to replace trees, but the Phoenix Group also is looking for some sponsors to donate trees, said David Dunn, a group leader. The goal this summer is to raise $40,000 to buy about 1,000 varieties of trees, including oaks, dogwoods and maples, Dunn said.
"A lot of the oldest trees in the county were just snapped in half," Dunn said. "It's going to take a long time to replace them."
The replanting, done with the city's permission, will start in the downtown area along Nashville and Lafayette streets and progress outward, but the group would like to plant in residential areas, too, said Raye Brooks, president of Ringgold Downtown Partners, a group of businesses trying to promote the city.
"[We] want to be able to offer everyone one tree," she said.
The first tree planted will be a maple in front of the Catoosa County Courthouse to replace one lost in the storm, Dunn said.
"That's something that can make Ringgold better than we had it," said McCracken Poston, a Phoenix Group leader and local attorney.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...