published Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Trion roller rink for sale in Chattooga County

By Jimmy Espy/Correspondent
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    Tim Chamlee discusses selling his family's skating rink in Trion, Ga.
    Photo by Andy Johns.
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Chamlee's Roller Rink, a gathering place for Chattooga County youngsters for more than 53 years, is for sale, according to Tim Chamlee, son of the business's founder.

The roller rink, adjoining miniature golf course and some other property totaling about two acres on Tate Road have been placed on the market. Chamlee did not give a price.

The roller rink was opened in 1958 by the late Reynolds Chamlee, who thought of it as a "place for good kids to go," according to his son.

"Some people thought that it was a bad idea, that there would be trouble there, but my dad believed in what he was doing and wanted to provide something fun for kids to do in a safe environment," Tim Chamlee said.

That feeling of security was one of the things Starr McGill, 36, remembers about her years as a Friday and Saturday night "regular" at the rink.

"Mr. and Mrs. Chamlee didn't let you get away with anything," she said. "They kept things very structured and made sure there was a good Christian environment."

McGill, who still straps on the skates for an occasional whirl, said she started going to the rink at age 4.

"I did it all -- racing, disco -- my brother and I were up there every weekend," she said.

McGill's parents skated at the rink in its early days and now her 8-year-old daughter Sophie is a regular. Sophie's sister, Savanna, skated there for years, but at 14 has started doing other things.

Sophie and Savanna have celebrated birthdays with parties at the rink.

Parties and classes were two of the ways the business made extra money, according to Tim Chamlee. The rink also has a game room and concessions area, as well as a covered miniature golf course that was built by Reynolds Chamlee and a friend.

For years, the roller rink was the "hot spot" for local kids to socialize, particularly younger residents of Trion, Ga.

But Tim Chamlee said Northwest Georgia's extended economic slowdown definitely has hurt business.

"Entertainment spending is one of the first things to get cut," he said.

He also said, "In recent years the business has become more of a seasonal thing."

"Our best months are January, February and March, when it's so cold kids can't get out much to do other things," he said.

After operating the business with his wife, Pam, since taking over from his sister in 1994, Chamlee is ready to do something else.

"I am looking for another job, and it would be nice if we could find a buyer sooner, but we're still open and booking parties several months in advance. When we sell, we want to help the transition go as smoothly as possible."

But will the roller rink under new ownership hold the same place in the hearts of local residents?

"That's been the hardest part for some people to get used to," Chamlee said. "For them the idea of someone else owning it doesn't seem right, but we hope it will fall into good hands. It was always my dad's vision for kids to have a good, safe place to come and have fun. That's the way we've tried to run it."

Jimmy Espy is based in Dalton. Contact him at hoodcsa@aol.com.

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