Roy Exum: LivingOnLookout Is Born

Thursday, May 29, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

For the longest time those who live on Lookout Mountain have laughingly called the twin Tennessee and Georgia communities “Camelot,” a notion fortified by the belief it is the most magical place in the world. The newer residents call it “Mayberry,” not in a hayseed-type way but because everybody likes one another, it is friendly and safe with premier public works and two of the best elementary schools in either state.

But several years ago, if the truth be told, home prices began falling on Lookout Mountain. while they were rising in North Chattanooga and atop Signal Mountain. The city of Chattanooga itself was marketing itself in a way it would become a Southern jewel and who would have ever believed it but it was as though the historic grand old lady was being forgotten by the bright and promising newcomers moving into the area.

Suddenly the grand old lady has never been prettier. Through a joint effort of the mountain’s Tennessee and Georgia governing bodies, a swanky website extolling the dual communities’ places and people has just been born., a gorgeous marketing tool not unlike those that have made and into popular Internet sites with tourists, is now up and running.

Dwight Montague, the administrator for the Town of Lookout Mountain, called the project “a very hands-on collaboration by a group of mountain residents who are not just proud of where they live but are eager to share it with others. We realize we are very fortunate to live in such a community but we’re interested in helping people coming into our city will consider living with us.

“Paul Rustand has a dynamic company called Widgets & Stone that does some impressing marketing work and he shares some space with Jason Fritts of Tubatomic. A group of us supplied them with some pictures and Caleb Ludwick, a freelance writer who lives on the mountain, wrote the copy. Caleb’s company is called 26Tools. We have hired Merrill McGinness as a feature writer and, while the website is still a work in progress, a lot of people are pretty happy with the early result,” said Montague.

“What has happened with the Internet has changed the way we live. When people are looking for a place to raise their children, the first thing they do is go to any website they can find. Our government websites are pretty basic so is much more reader-friendly. People who go there will find out we are not a place ‘where rich people live’ but instead a place ‘where real people live.’

“The website has its own Twitter link where police dispatchers will send out live 24/7 information if a tree is down, a road is icy, or other pertinent information that will be helpful to residents and Merrill will keep the content fresh. The days are gone when you hope people will find you so we hope this social media idea will help us find them,” he explained.

Montague pointed to the fact that early this week, with the National Cycling Races coursed up and down the Mountain, over 500 residents gathered to watch the riders and enjoy one another’s company. “That was a fun event that reflects what it is like to live together, worship together and go to school together all year long. We want to share our community with others who come to live here.”

Signal Mountain’s growth had a huge boost when a public high school was added to the middle school but Lookout Mountain’s population is far smaller than Signal Mountain. Montague said, “We have the utmost respect and admiration for our neighboring communities. We think there are advantages and disadvantages to any community but I think people who live on Lookout Mountain are very pleased overall and that is the story we must tell.”

The Tennessee and Georgia communities are divided by a state line that is quite invisible as one drives across it and never before has there been as much cooperation, shared services, and overall friendliness between the twin communities. He said, “The two town governments are very close and, when we had a tragic fire the other night, the Georgia fire truck got there about the same time Tennessee did. The website is just another example of all of us working together.”

The bigger story is that the website will work. Realtors like Jack Webb and Gail Jenkins are thrilled with a new way to market houses for sale and it is chock full of information about Lookout Mountain or Camelot or Mayberry, depending on the age of the story teller. Dwight Montague said, “Everybody who is taking part in the project believes it is past time to tell our story. I’m telling you this – we’re excited about”

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