Paula Wilkes Named President Of The Bessie Smith Cultural Center

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Paula Wilkes
Paula Wilkes

The Bessie Smith Cultural Center board of directors announced its selection for president of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.  “After a thorough selection process the Board determined the best candidate for the position was already working for the organization and we are pleased to announce Paula Wilkes as the new President of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center” said Yusuf Hakeem, board chairman.


“The Bessie Smith Cultural Center plays a pivotal role in diversity and inclusion in the community and this appointment is reflective of that.

  We look forward to Paula and her team continuing to move the Bessie forward to becoming a world-class African American Museum and Cultural Center,” said Mr. Hakeem.


Ms. Wilkes has been serving as interim president since Nov. 1. Prior to that, she was director of operations for three years handling day to day operations, marketing and special events. She has an extensive background in the non-profit sector including marketing, public relations, event planning, organization management, fundraising and development.  She has been an independent consultant for area non-profits for over nine years.


Ms. Wilkes has lived in the Chattanooga area most of her life and currently lives with her husband, Randy and daughter, Savanna, a senior at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.

International Brotherhood Of Police Officers Local Endorses Hammond For Sheriff

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local #673 has announced its endorsement of Sheriff Jim Hammond. The Chattanooga-Hamilton County area IBPO issued the following statement after unanimous board approval: “The International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local #673 is happy to announce its endorsement of Jim Hammond for Hamilton County Sheriff. During his ... (click for more)

Finish For Hope 5K Is April 21

Second Life Tennessee, a local nonprofit that helps survivors of human trafficking, is hosting the Finish for Hope 5K on April 21.  This will be Second Life Tennessee’s first annual 5K. The idea was formed out of the desire to cultivate community within the city of Chattanooga, and to invite businesses and families into the realm of advocacy it promotes. The race will ... (click for more)

City May Make It Easier For Food Trucks To Operate In Chattanooga

The City Council is considering action that would make it easier for food trucks to operate in Chattanooga.  City Attorney Wade Hinton said cities like Austin and Portland have thriving food truck operations and Chattanooga is studying those models. He said, "It's truly an industry there." He said a 2013 food truck ordinance was limited and did not allow food trucks on ... (click for more)

Magistrate Says She Was Fired Because Philyaw Did Not Want To Be Seen With Someone Openly Gay

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court said she was fired because Judge Rob Philyaw and Court Administrator Sam Mairs "wanted me gone because I was openly gay." County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said Elizabeth Gentzler was not the only gay at Juvenile Court and Hamilton County government, indicating that may be part of the county's defense. Attorney Stuart James, representing Ms. ... (click for more)

The Panhandling "Tax" On Gunbarrel

I’ve been reading about the panhandling problem in downtown; it is a huge problem in the Gunbarrel area, too.  It’s commonplace to be accosted by panhandlers when walking from your parked car into a commercial establishment.  And often they are aggressive.  I look carefully around my car before getting out, but sometimes someone will be lurking in between cars and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sheriff’s Request

Jim Hammond will talk to members of the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday afternoon and, just like any police officer in the United States, he will request that everybody “stay in their own lane.” Some school board members tend to believe they need to help decide the best methods of protecting our children. They believe this is one of the things they were elected to do in ... (click for more)