It was a morning and early afternoon chock-full of exciting activities hosted at the beautiful corporate offices of Life Care Centers of America.
A mid-morning press briefing featured global and North American WACKER leaders, as well as Gov. Bill Haslam, followed by key addresses from the same.
A VIP bus ride to north Bradley County for the ceremonial shoveling of dirt featured the digging talents of local and state government representatives, economic development leaders, Tennessee legislators and certainly the guests of honor, WACKER executives.
An early afternoon luncheon for special guests and other attendees numbered somewhere around 250, all of whom were there to welcome our newest family member to the Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County community.
It was a magnificent day in the gloriously growing history of our hometown.
Less than 24 hours earlier our community hosted another groundbreaking.
It was much smaller.
It came with little fanfare.
The shovels were plastic, without inscriptions.
The yellow hard-hats were child size.
Gargantuan earth-moving equipment did not line the background.
The groundbreaking included a few dignitaries but nowhere near the magnitude of the Friday morning salute to the international manufacturer.
Yet, its importance was no less a fitting tribute to our residents, our schools and to those who hold dear to the doctrine that they are their brother’s keeper.
The scene was Waterville Elementary School where swarms of students, teachers, school staff, Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, members of the Bradley County Board of Education and others shared tiny and symbolic orange-and-yellow spades to launch work on a new playground.
But not just any playground.
One designed for special education students, 24 of whom attend the Dalton Pike school.
Three pieces of playground equipment have already been purchased; a slide and swings will be added, all atop a rubberized surface.
One who attended the ceremony was Tena Stone, special education director for Bradley County. Tena was on hand because this was a special occasion for some very special students — her students, those who cope in a life of disabilities whose daily challenges most can never imagine.
Principal Charlene Cofer offered an apt sentiment when she said, “Our field of dreams is actually going to happen.”
Many contributed to this special day.
One is special education teacher Michelle Rogers who began pursuing grant funds for a special needs playground four years ago, her first year at the school.
A community letter-writing campaign and a fundraiser through local church partner Waterville Baptist Church also greatly aided the shared vision.
A Healthy Community Initiative grant helped make the dream come true as did additional funding through the school’s PTO and Proctor & Gamble Co.
All achievements, regardless of size and scope, contribute to the landscape of a thriving community that regularly looks to the needs of its families.
These milestones can be as big as the arrival of a global manufacturer that leads its industry in product innovation.
They can be as tiny as an elementary school playground that reaches out to the special needs of those who otherwise live without a voice.
We salute Wacker Polysilicon North America.
We salute Waterville Elementary School.
Your shovels are shaping our community’s future.