RDP encourages people to shop local, donate to plant tree fund

RDP encourages people to shop local, donate to plant tree fund

June 29th, 2011 by Katie Ward in Catoosa

Ringgold Downtown Partners president Raye Brooks stands beside a tree in downtown Ringgold. Brooks is working to start fundraisers to plant trees throughout the city in tornado ravaged locations. Photo by Katie Ward

Ringgold Downtown Partners is trying to spur more interest in shopping locally.

"That's what businesses should do; help each other stay open," said RDP President Raye Brooks, who co-owns Ringgold Art and Frame Gallery with Richard Stinson. "Ringgold Downtown Partners welcomes businesses from all over Ringgold to become members. We all work together to support each other."

Brooks said she would like everyone to know that downtown Ringgold boutiques and restaurants are open again for customers.

"All the downtown historic Ringgold businesses are open," she said. "Don Lo Los, Richard's Restaurant, Caffeine Addicts and Courthouse Grill have all re-opened. Gregory's Antiques, Ringgold Art and Frame Gallery, Kutzu Interiors, United Gift Shop, Uniktings, Cozy Boutique, Cottage Treasures Gift Shop and Ringgold Wedding Chapel are all open too."

She said in the Alabama Highway area Aunt Effie's Restaurant, Cracker Barrel and Los Reyes are open as well.

"Why would you need to go to a big city and pay Tennessee sales tax when you've got everything you need right here?" Brooks asked. "We've got clothing, gift shops, furniture stores, great restaurants, local-owned gas stations and tire stores."

Ringgold expanding Downtown Development Authority boundaries

Ringgold's Downtown Development Authority boundary lines are being redrawn so that more city businesses can apply for DDA facade grants.

"One of the advantages of a person being in the DDA is if they need to paint the outside of their building or do minor maintenance they can get a $500 matching grant," said Mayor Joe Barger. "On Cleburne Street the DDA helped the street look better through grants. Some of these businesses can take advantage of that."

Ringgold Councilman and DDA chair Larry Black said the boundaries will also now include the Ringgold ball fields and walking track as well as the pool.

The DDA map now shows Maple, Mountain, High, Evitt, Depot, Cotter and Sparks streets and Emberson Drive forming the boundary lines. All businesses inside and along that boundary are now a part of the DDA and thus eligible for a $500 facade grant.

Ringgold Downtown Partners President Raye Brooks said she is excited about the new boundary lines. She and her business partner Richard Stinson co-own Ringgold Art and Frame Gallery. They used facade grants twice to renovate their store.

Barger said he would also like citizens to know that many of the Ringgold downtown businesses have reopened.

Ringgold's Downtown Development Authority meets the third Monday of every month at 5:30 p.m. inside Ringgold City Hall's conference room. Meetings are open to the public.

She said due to the tornado, the Ringgold Downtown Partners will wait until the fall to host the Cleburne Street monthly farmer's markets and art shows. She said the RDP is working on a tree project at present to replant trees in Ringgold.

"It's amazing what a difference trees make. I did not realize it until they were all gone," said Brooks. "Our goal is to plant trees all over downtown Ringgold in residents' yards, along Chickamauga Creek and along in front of businesses."

She said the rebuilding will have to start before RDP selects where to plant the trees.

"I won't live long enough to see an oak tree grow up," said Brooks. "But in 100 years families will know that their grandparents planted these trees after the great tornado so my town would feel homey again."