U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp discusses how to tell the Hiwassee River region's history and enhance tourism with officials in this 2010 file photo. Melissa Woody, of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, and others stopped during a tour to look at Charleston's cypress swamp.Photo by Randall Higgins /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
CHARLESTON, Tenn. — A fundraising effort to purchase an empty branch bank building to anchor an interpretive greenway through town is attracting more supporters, members of the Charleston/Calhoun/Hiwassee Historical Society learned recently.
The effort has raised nearly $91,000, or about 70 percent of the $132,000 needed to buy the building on U.S. 11 at the intersection with the historic “concrete highway,” a remnant of the former U.S. 11.
Decisions about the purchase should be made by the end of the month, Melissa Woody, vice president of the Cleveland/Bradley Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Tuesday.
“When so many people get involved, it’s a project you can feel good about,” Woody said.
Major donations include $30,000 from Olin Corp.; $20,000 from Wright Brothers Construction; and $10,000 each from Bowater and Allan Jones. The George R. Johnson Family Foundation contributed $5,000. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, construction company president Claude Simpson and Arch Chemicals are $1,000 donors.
There also have been significant contributions from individuals, including $13,000 from historical society members, said Faye Callaway, society president.
“Our goal is to develop a quality heritage project that will be an asset to Charleston as well as honor the Cherokee people who loved this area,” Callaway said.
The building would house a cultural center and start visitors on their way through Charleston’s historical district on a walk to the Hiwassee River. Jonathan Cantrell, owner of Caldwell Paving, has volunteered to provide labor and equipment for the greenway. The Historical Preservation Center at Middle Tennessee State University is donating up to $20,000 to create panels for the center.
Cleveland State and Lee University have pledged to offer history credit to students who staff the center. And the city of Charleston has committed to paying the utility bill.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...