Is it Bend or broken?

That seems to be the question for the Riverbend Festival.

Questions about the 37-year-old music festival have to be serious and direct.

And they should likely start with, "Does Riverbend have a place anymore?"

Chip Baker announced his resignation as president of Friends of the Festival, the organization that runs Riverbend, on Thursday. After right at two decades in charge, Baker's final 'Bend lost money (although he says the festival made a profit 18 of 20 years he led the group).

In an effort to overhaul the event, the number of days (and acts) were cut in half and admission prices doubled to modernize the festival and elevate the status of the acts.

Call it growing pains. Baker described it as ripping off the Band-Aid. There's merit to that.

But there's no debating that Moon River was an unabashed success over two days in September and was the shining picture of what any festival — Riverbend included — would love to be.

How Friends of the Festival gets to that point is a looming question as the board answers the question of who succeeds Baker.

But the first question must be, can Riverbend ever get there?


Cream cycle

A couple of things jumped off the page of TFP education reporter Meghan Mangrum's story this week about three Hamilton County Department of Education employees who have been suspended for allegedly being neck deep in a skin cream scam.

First, what should we call this scandal? Cream-gate? The Cream Machine? The Cream Team? Or just a Thursday at Bonny Oaks?

(To be fair, the first hints and whispers of involvement by education department employees in the nationwide scam happened in 2016. Scott Bennett, the Teflon-coated school system's attorney, was made aware of this three years ago.)

Second, upwards of $800,000 was allegedly pilfered through the school system's insurance coverage for a variety of creams and skin ointments. Which begs the question, what are they selling, The Lady Diana Package or the Ponce de Leon Fountain of Forever Young?

Reports say that insurance will cover the insurance fraud, but nothing comes free. If you file insurance claims to cover mistakes and misuse, well, normally in the real world that means premiums then go up.

And you have to believe that the leadership circles at the education department are pondering how many assistant specialists of feelings and co-deans of holistic emotional systems and logistics $800K could hire.

Seriously, did you see some of the titles in Meghan's story?

The discipline was handed down by the chief talent officer, and there was a family partnership specialist involved, too.

Finally, the last line of the story (this side of people paying tens of thousands of dollars for skin cream) may be the most troubling: "It is unclear if Hamilton County school board members were aware of the case or the potential involvement of the district."

Uh, if I'm a school board member and I did not know of a three-year scandal that could cost our penny-conscious school system close to a million bucks, well, I would have some serious questions.


Saturday stars

There are a lot of them, and in some ways they kind of overlap with another regular segment — Obit Observations.

Thanks to all who attended veteran Lance Deal's funeral at Chattanooga National Cemetery and Mickey McCamish and all the folks who volunteered to make it happen.

While we are here, it's worth noting all the folks — like the good people at Welcome Home Chattanooga — who are tending to the homeless in their final living hours.

As one reader wrote to me this week, Welcome Home Chattanooga, led by Sherry Campbell, is like a homeless hospice and truly doing the Lord's work for those who need it desperately.

Until next time.

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Jay Greeson

Contact Jay Greeson at