Raise your hand if you were surprised that the Hamilton County Board of Education plans to spend $500,000 for folks to stroll through our county schools and point out facilities flaws. How about they start at Bonny Oaks Drive on Thursdays?

Yes, the half-a-million is for a study about the buildings and facilities.

And to paraphrase Rhonda Thurman, who rightly was outraged by the idea, we are paying a lot of money for knowledge we all can see and in many ways we already know.

some text
Jay Greeson

Now if the study includes some recommendations about how the school district needs to consolidate underused buildings — and the board actually listens and acts accordingly — well, that would be money very well spent.


A red-letter day

Many in Chattanooga have a natural affinity for all things Volkswagen. Hey, the German automaker came to town and created thousands of jobs and an economic impact that will be measured for decades.

Well, here's a story outside the 423 that deserves a tip of the visor to VW.

Meet Kathleen Brooks, a retired health worker who provided comfort and cosmetic care for breast cancer patients and survivors.

Brooks is 73 now. Fifty-one years ago she bought a bright red VW. She called it Annie and put more than 350,000 miles on it. Yes, Brooks and Annie circled the globe almost 15 times.

As you might suspect, Annie's better days were in the rear view.

So VW reached out and completely restored Brooks' bug. It took a team of 60 VW employees more than 11 months to replace almost half of Annie's parts and restore 357 original pieces, including several stickers Brooks put on Annie.

The wiring was redone, the transmission rebuilt and the suspension reworked.



Season of gifts

Call it a Christmas miracle if you wish.

Earlier this month, Michele De Leeuw completed the most improbable turnaround.

After suffering a heart attack four months ago and being unconscious and without oxygen for 15 minutes before being resuscitated, De Leeuw was put on life support.

Doctors told her husband Karl that the woman he knew was gone and was going to have only five percent of her brain function and 25 percent of her heart function.

So Karl pulled the plug, calling it the "hardest decision of my life."

But when the machines were turned off, Michele started breathing on her own. Two days later she opened her eyes. Two days after that she was talking. Last week, she was awarded a "Survival Coin" by her local fire department, as she is almost fully recovered.


Saturday stars

Lots going on today, including the Santa Crawl, which starts at 3 p.m. at Clyde's on Main Street. So if you see a bunch of wobbling Santas downtown, well, there you go.

But something else also is going on today. Regular readers know how fond I am of the Chattanooga National Cemetery, and the folks there as well as the representatives of the military branches, veterans and families are participating in the Wreaths Across America project.

Working with the Worchester Wreath Company, the Wreaths Across America campaign has donated and placed countless wreaths as tributes to those laid to rest at national cemeteries since 2006.

The public is invited, but because of the weather and wet conditions there will be no public parking at the cemetery. All parking, including handicap parking, will be at the Tennessee National Guard Armory, with bus service starting at 8 a.m.

Contact Jay Greeson at and 423-757-6343.