Club celebrates 60 years of service
by BETTIE MARLOWE, Banner Staff Writer
May 15, 2011 | 2090 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FLINT SPRINGS RURITAN CLUB members in this 1993 photo, from left front, are Clarkie Grant, Jimmy Blackwell, Ernest Dunn, Sue Emerson and Tom Graham; and back, Bill Varnell, Bill Higgins, Jeff Nichols, Clyde Emerson and Bob Grant.
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This year marks 60 years of continuous service for the Flint Springs Ruritan Club, a community service organization. The club was established Jan. 4, 1951, and has been actively involved in the community since that time.

The 1951 Charter No. 388 was sponsored by the Tasso Ruritan Club and presented by Hassel Evans. Officers were: J.T. “Ted” McCoy, president; Donald Stockburger, secretary; William Hannah, vice president; and C.L. Poteet, treasurer. Poteet still lives in the Flint Springs Community.

The 1951 directors were: E.R. Blocker, O.L. Mattil and J.L. Miller. Charter members were Bill Trewhitt, Herman Seaton, J.E. Holmes, James Holmes, John W. Hannah, Carl Withworth, Donald Burnette, Dean Conley, James F. Hannah, Robert Burger, Robert H. Hannah, John S. Mueler, Lester Trewhitt, Glen Seaton, W.F. Jones and Lee Smith.

The 2010-11 officers are Clarkie Grant, president; Nichole Morgan, vice president; Mikah Smedley, secretary; and Kevin Wilson, treasurer.

Grant, the current president, is serving her second term. She joined the Ruritans in 1987, along with her husband, Bob, and except for a short period they have been members ever since.

Their granddaughter revived a “Ruriteen” club at Bradley Central High School in 2008 and the Grants were again inducted into the Flint Springs club. The national president, Wayne Outlaw, helped with the Ruriteen organization.

Their granddaughters, 9 and 13, were the youngest members then and one of the girls, now 15, is the youngest secretary in the Ruritan organization. Nicole Morgan is vice president and Kevin Wilson is treasurer. There are 12 Ruriteen Clubs which operate in the district and about 20 Ruritan clubs are in the Cherokee district, with four or five in each zone.

In 2008, Flint Springs Ruritan membership was 12. It has come from being the smallest club to the second-largest, with 66 members. Thirty-four new members were added in one year, 2009.

Over the years, the club has received numerous awards, including Ruritan National recognition for help and support in areas such as Bradley County Soil and Water Conservation projects and litter pickup on the roads in their community. James Mitchell was selected as Member of the Year for 2010 for his decades of devotion to the club.

Over the decades Ruritans have supported area Scouts, helped burned-out families and bought school supplies and clothing for needy children. Members have provided numerous college scholarships to students, also, and worked tirelessly to help preserve the history of the community.

The club has provided care for the cabin on the John Ross farm for nearly 30 years. Club members have been working with a host of volunteers and the Bradley County Commission to refurbish the cabin. The club has committed to taking care of the maintenance once the cabin has been restored.

The Flint Springs Ruritan club is best known for its annual Fourth of July Chicken Barbecue, which not only raises funds for its many projects, but gives members of the community an opportunity to come together and renew friendships. In 2010, some 900 people were served barbecued chicken and, this year, more than a thousand are expected.

The event used to be an old-fashioned get-together and the Grants hope that will be renewed. “We had a greased pig chase, greased pole climb, political speakers and other July 4th activities,” he said. “We want to reinstate the “old-fashioned” air of the annual event.”

In addition to the July chicken barbecue, the club will sponsor a pancake breakfast in June at Applebee’s to help raise money for the club’s work in the community.

The club sponsors craft fairs at Red Clay State Park and hosts political forums during election years. In 1982, the Flint Springs Ruritans served hamburgers and hot dogs at the Nillie Bipper Festival at Red Clay State Park and had the first craft show there on Labor Day in 2009 — a three-day event.

Flint Springs Ruritan Club provides Christmas presents for needy children and members provide support for local 4-H projects such as cattle and poultry shows. Staying in touch with the elderly in the community is a special project of the club, also. Flowers and fruit baskets are given to shut-ins and the elderly.

And when a man who was building a house for his family died, the Ruritans banded together and finished the house so it would be livable for his family.

Much of the new membership — the younger members especially — have come from Eagle Landing Community Church, which has partnered with Flint Springs Ruritans to help people in the community.

Grant said in 1930, the Ruritans were 100 percent men and had no one under 21. About 1986, women began joining, with Joyce Johnson one of the first. Now, he said, women are taking on more leadership positions in the clubs.

Ages for club members range from 13 to 82. There are two levels of membership — regular and associate. The associate member cannot hold office and each club has the right to institute its own financial structure.

Mrs. Grant, as president, has a goal of winning the Blue Ribbon Award, the most prestigious award given in the Ruritan organization. The criteria includes having 90 percent attendance and to complete a project in each of five different areas of service: citizenship and patriotism; public service; environment; social development; and business and professional, which assists and helps to maintain stability in economical areas.

Anyone interesting in working on community projects is invited to join the Flint Springs Ruritan Club. Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at the Old Flint Springs School building at 6:30 p.m.

The aim of the club is to achieve “Fellowship, Good Will and Community Service.”