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Raye Brooks, the owner of Ringgold Art and Frame Gallery, poses for a photo in her shop in Ringgold. / Photo: Erin O. Smith

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Ringgold is close-knit

A railroad overpass signals the entrance to downtown Ringgold, Georgia, and as you enter town, following a scenic drive along South Chickamauga Creek, on your right will be the historic Ringgold Train Depot. It was built in 1849 as a stop before travelers arrived in Chattanooga, but these days, the historic way station is a popular event venue for weddings, plays and other activities. Such is the story of Ringgold itself.

A block ahead on Nashville Street is proof that Ringgold, incorporated in 1847, is hardly stuck in the past.

Raye Brooks owns Ringgold Art & Frame Gallery in one of 14 storefronts on the block. She is president of the Ringgold Downtown Partners merchants association, and 14 of the businesses on her block are owned all or in part by a female. One block over is UnikTings!, owned by Cindy Patty, vice president of the RDP. Around the corner is Joy's United Gift Shop, owned by Joy Thornton, secretary of the RDP.

Currently, 38 of the 43 members of the RDP are businesses owned or co-owned by females.

"I really can't explain it," Brooks says. "It just kind of happened, and I don't think many people realize it. At first it was just me, and then there was another and then another. It just kind of snowballed from there. We just woke up one day and there were a bunch of us running businesses.

"What I do know is that we are all bonded. All the businesses here try to work together and take care of each other. That's the kind of community Ringgold is."

The downtown business district is a mix of mostly retail shops and professional offices, and sits just down the street from the Catoosa County Courthouse. A history of antiques has always brought visitors to Ringgold, says Brooks, but the traffic has increased over the past five years.

The evolving business district is a constant reminder of April 27, 2011, the day an EF-4 tornado ripped through Ringgold. Eight "Ringgolians" died that day, 50 percent of the business district was damaged and 16 buildings "just vanished," according to a report from that day.

"It changed a lot of things. It brought us closer," Brooks says. "The RDP organized a community that planted 348 trees last October to help replace some of what was lost. I bought a house in an area where the storm came through, and to this day there is not a bit of topsoil anywhere."

Just as Brooks cannot explain why women rule the day in the small town's business district, she cannot pinpoint any specific reason people keep getting off on Highway 41 and finding their way to Nashville Street.

"I didn't even know Ringgold was on the map 20 years ago," she says. "There's history here and we have a history of antiques, which seems to be something people know about. I'm just glad they're coming. It's good for business."

Hot on the block

Ringgold hosts "Downtown Nights" the second Saturday of each month from 5-9 p.m. along Depot Street between the Dapper Gentleman and Ringgold City Hall. A stage with live music is set up in the green area beside the Ringgold Pavilion and shops stay open late.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

WHO WE ARE

Median household income: $41,500

Population: 3,565

Median age: 36.5

White: 79.7%

African-American: 8.9%

Asian: 3.2%

Hispanic: 3.1%

American Indian: 0.6%

Two or more races: 4.4%

*2017 estimates.

Source: 2017 American Community Survey

 

WHERE WE LIVE

Median home value: $192,739

Appreciation since 2000: 42.7%

Homeowners: 46.1%

The largest share of households have a property value between $200,000 and $250,000.

Ringgold home values have gone up 5.3% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 4.4% over the next year.

Source: Datausa.io, Zillow

 

OUR SCHOOLS

Ringgold Primary (K-2)

Enrollment: 460

Report Card: Schoolwide grade B (80.9)

» Overall performance is higher than 76% of schools in Georgia and higher than the district.

Ringgold Elementary (3-5)

Enrollment: 472

Report Card: Schoolwide grade C (75.5)

» Overall performance is higher than 61% of schools in the state and similar to the district.

» Academic growth is higher than 45% of schools in the state but lower than the district.

» 54.7% of RES third-graders are reading at or above grade level target.

Boynton Elementary (K-5)

Enrollment: 589

Report Card: Schoolwide grade B (82.7)

» Overall performance is higher than 80% of schools in the state and higher than the district.

» Academic growth is higher than 52% of schools in the state and similar to the district.

» 65.3% of BES third-graders are reading at or above grade level target.

Graysville Elementary (K-5)

Enrollment: 514

Report Card: Schoolwide grade C (78)

» Overall performance is higher than 68% of schools in the state and similar to the district.

» Academic growth is higher than 79% of schools in the state and higher than the district.

» 59.6% of GES third-graders are reading at or above grade level target.

Ringgold Middle

Enrollment: 764

Report Card: Schoolwide grade C (78.7)

» Overall performance is higher than 70% of schools in the state and higher than the district.

» Academic growth is higher than 94% of schools in the state and similar to the district.

» 66.4% of RMS eighth-graders are reading at or above grade level target.

Heritage Middle

Enrollment: 919

Report Card: Schoolwide grade A (93)

» Overall performance is higher than 96% of schools in the state and higher than the district.

» Academic growth is higher than 97% of schools in the state and higher than the district.

» 80.1% of HMS eighth-graders are reading at or above grade level target.

Ringgold High

Enrollment: 1,061

Report Card: Schoolwide grade B (82.1)

» Overall performance is higher than 79% of schools in the state and higher than the district.

» Academic growth is higher than 53% of schools in the state but lower than the district.

» Four-year graduation rate is 90.3%, which is higher than 63% of high schools in the state and higher than the district.

» 70% of RHS graduates are "college and career ready."

Heritage High

Enrollment: 1,331

Report Card: Schoolwide grade B (80.4)

» Overall performance is higher than 75% of schools in the state and higher than the district.

» Academic growth is higher than 55% of schools in the state but lower than the district.

» Four-year graduation rate is 91.3%, which is higher than 68% of high schools in the state and higher than the district.

» 57.8% of HHS graduates are "college and career ready."

Source: 2017-18 Georgia School Grades Reports

 

WHAT WE DO FOR FUN

Creek Walk

A pleasant walk along Chickamauga Creek connects the commercial district with historic downtown Ringgold. The Creek Walk offers residents and visitors alike a peaceful area to enjoy fishing, canoeing, kayaking, dog walking or jogging. There are several canoe and kayak launches along South Chickamauga Creek. Located in the Downtown Historic District.

Elsie A. Holmes Nature Park

This natural area includes more than 2 miles of hiking and walking trails through a hardwood forest and wooded creek-bottom land. Many different species of wild flowers, plants and trees can be found. There is also a trail located on the ridge that is accessible for strollers and those with disabilities. 88 Ben Holmes Road. Call 706-935-5263.

Ringgold Playhouse

Home to some of the best community theater in North Georgia. 155 Depot St. Call 706-935-3061 or visit facebook.com/TheRinggoldPlayhouse.

Ringgold Sampler

The Ringgold Sampler is a "progressive dinner" offering a downtown variety and is held each March. Sponsored by the Ringgold Downtown Partners, shops of all kinds stay open late for an evening of shopping, food and beverages. A $5 wristband gets you all you can eat and a chance at special prizes. Call 706-935-2844.

 

DETAILS

BIG EVENT

Ringgold hosts the 1890's Day Jamboree each year over the Memorial Day Weekend. The event features more than 100 food, arts and crafts vendors, live music on multiple stages, music and dance contests, beauty pageants and a parade. This year's event, May 24-25, 2019, will be the 41st annual.

 

LOCAL LIBRARY

Catoosa County Library

108 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold; 706-965-3600

Monday Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday: Closed

» Library cardholders get free admission to the 6th Cavalry Museum in nearby Fort Oglethorpe, and passes to the 127-acre Chattahoochee Nature Center near Roswell, Georgia, can now be checked out free of charge.

 

CITY SERVICES

Ringgold City Council meets the second and fourth Mondays of the month at 7 p.m., preceded by a work session at 6 p.m. The purpose of the work session is to discuss the items they will vote on during the council meeting. Both meetings are held on the second floor of City Hall, 150 Tennessee St. Agendas are available via cityofringgoldga.gov, where you can also stream past council meetings.

Recycling: The city has a drop-off center at 10 Cleveland St. that accepts most household recyclables save for glass.

 

GET INVOLVED

Ringgold Kiwanis Club meets every Tuesday from 7-8 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Ringgold, 7611 Nashville St. A breakfast is served and guests are welcome.

Ringgold Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. at Ringgold City Hall, 150 Tennessee St. The club's mission is "Service Above Self."

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