Local Gym To Be Named In Honor Of City Facility Manager, Johnny O'Neal

Thursday, January 23, 2014
Johnny O'Neal
Johnny O'Neal

First-Centenary United Methodist Church, a partner with The City of Chattanooga Department of Youth & Family Development (YFD), will celebrate the naming of “O’Neal Gym” in honor of Johnny O’Neal, for 35 years of dedication to youth and families in Chattanooga. Mr. O’Neal will be recognized during Sunday morning services, followed by a dedication and reception in the O’Neal Gymnasium at 11:45 a.m.

“I’m proud,” said Johnny O’Neal, “When I first came here as a youth, someone mentored me.  I feel honored to continue to do the same after all these years.”

Mr. O’Neal joined First Centenary’s Inner City Ministries program as part time staff in 1979, providing recreation activities to youth from nearby neighborhoods and schools. 35 years later, Mr. O’Neal is still committed, now serving as facility manager, which mentors an average of 80 youths daily as part of an after school program held at First Centenary Youth and Family Development Center.

“We offer a full slate of programs,” said Mr. O’Neal, “however recreation is just a small pebble. Education and social development are the building blocks of our existence.”

“This was a very easy decision to make,” said Rev. Dr. Doug Fairbanks of First Centenary. “Mr. O’Neal has given himself to the work of loving and mentoring thousands of inner-city children. We simply believe that one of the ways we can say to Johnny, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’, is to name the gym in his honor.” 

“The City of Chattanooga is honored as well,” said Greta Hayes, Chattanooga YFD’s director of recreation. “Johnny is a perfect example of commitment to the development of our youth and how a City and a faith-based institution can work and excel together.”

First Centenary and the City of Chattanooga have been partners since the mid 1980s. The afterschool program provides tutoring, reading, sports, and camps that builds self-esteem, cultivates self-discipline, develop better communication skills and teaches respect for others. 

Special Event Street Closures For Oct. 26 - 31

Here are upcoming street closures for Chattanooga: Wednesday, Oct. 26 First Centenary Fall Festival : Oak St. will be closed between Houston St. and Lindsay St. from  4pm to 8:30pm  for this event  that will include a free dinner (donations accepted), face painting, inflatable games for children of all ages, corn hole, and a Trunk-or-Treat. ... (click for more)

Citizen Safety Coalition Workshop Is Saturday

The Citizen Safety Coalition Workshop will be held Saturday from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Kingdom Center, behind the Urban League, at 730 E. M L King Blvd . The workshop will engage Coalition members through breakout groups and will focus on volunteer recruitment and committee formation.   Breakfast and lunch will be provided.  For more information and ... (click for more)

Howard Simmons, 47, Shot And Killed In St. Elmo Monday Morning; Police Interview Person Of Interest

Howard Simmons, 47, was shot and killed in St. Elmo Monday morning. Police said they had interviewed a person of interest in the slaying. Chattanooga Police at 8:30 a.m. responded to a person shot at the 5000 block of Florida Ave. Upon police arrival the victim, Simmons, had already succumbed to his injuries. Ms. Simmons suffered at least one gunshot wound. At this time ... (click for more)

Erlanger To Open Cancer Center On Gunbarrel Road At East Campus

Work is set to begin soon on construction of a new Cancer Center by Erlanger Health System at its Gunbarrel Road East Campus. Erlanger is joining with a development firm, Chatt East 3 LLC of Alabama, on the four-story project located just south of Women's East Hospital on a wooded five-acre tract. Erlanger will be leasing the bottom three floors at a rate of $16.05 per square ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Testerman Forum

I badly misjudged how long it would take me to do my “early voting.” I was in-and-out in no time so I got to the Hamilton County School Board’s agenda meeting well enough beforehand to have an “educational forum” with board member David Testerman. If you haven’t noticed, forums and summits and “community enlightenment” groups are the new rage and, as my friend David laughed, “They ... (click for more)