Grace Baptist Academy Thriving Despite Tornado Disaster, Slow Rebuild

Friday, June 24, 2022

Grace Baptist Academy Headmaster Matt Pollock said after having the campus slammed by a Category 3 tornado and then having a delayed rebuilding process, "Many people may be thinking Poor Grace."

He said that could not be further from the truth with some recent good news items coming Grace's way.

Mr. Pollock said, instead of losing students as might be expected with having to move into temporary quarters, "We've had explosive growth." He said the school is getting near capacity at its adopted home of Morris Hill Baptist Church.

He said Grace had dropped below 400 students when the tornado hit just before midnight on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, ruining 15 buildings with the loss of over 148,000 square feet of space.

During the school's sojourn, it has actually grown by 34 percent while adding over 130 new students. Enrollment has climbed to around 530.

The headmaster said, "Many great families are moving into our area from all over - California, Oregon, Colorado, the Midwest. They are looking for a school with their core values and with a biblically integrated program. They love our teachers, our staff and our programs."

He added, "We haven't seen this kind of growth in many, many years."

The other big news is that word was just received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that it has validated much of Grace's damages claim and a significant portion of the amount sought should be headed its way.

Mr. Pollock said at the time of the storm Grace was woefully under-insured. The insurance settlement fell far short of the rebuild need.

He said school officials then learned that the law was amended in 2018 to allow non-profit institutions to have some benefits to go toward uninsured storm damage. Officials filed with FEMA and have been going through that rigorous process.

Mr. Pollock said work got underway on the rebuild of the campus and the Grace Baptist Church in the fall of 2020 using the insurance proceeds. However, he said the FEMA process proved to be very lengthy so the school opted to halt construction through much of 2021. FEMA was also hampered by all the constraints caused by the COVID pandemic. 

With the recent news from FEMA, Grace plans to relaunch the construction. He said the James Tyson construction firm handling the project will need a couple of months to gear back up.

He said the initial building to be completed with include the church building together with a number of classrooms. That is hoped to be ready by the spring of 2023. When that is finished, he said, several grades will likely move back to the main campus from Morris Hill Baptist, while other students will remain there until additional buildings are completed.

Mr. Pollock said new athletic fields are completed featuring artificial turf, but the infrastructure around the fields is still not done. The fields include one for football/soccer, another for baseball and another for softball. He said the infrastructure will be part of the first phase so they can be usable.

Since the storm, Grace has been borrowing other fields, including using the football field of Hunter Middle School and the rec fields at Ridgedale Baptist Church.

Grace Baptist Church has been using the facilities of the First SDA Church. "The church continues to flourish," he said.

Mr. Pollock said Morris Hill Baptist has been "the perfect fit" for the displaced school. He said, "They knew we were in dire straits and what we were up against. They offered their beautiful space that is only two miles from our school. And they haven't given us any deadline to get out."

He said the new campus has been reconfigured and will not look like what was there when the storm hit. He said the architectural firm of Rardin & Carroll has designed interconnected buildings that will be much more efficient than the older buildings. There will also be enhanced security with the design.

Mr. Pollock said, in addition to insurance and FEMA funds, the school has received a number of gifts from individuals and foundations toward the rebuilding. Les Compton is the development director. 


Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Accident At Red Riding Hood Trail Causes Substantial Power Outage At Lookout Mountain, Ga.

East Ridge Making Progress On Road Improvements; TPC Printing And Packaging Is Expanding


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: AMMONS, ASHTON DEWAYNE 1904 TINSLEY PLACE CHATTANOOGA, 374046121 Age at Arrest: 31 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga PD TAMPERING ... (click for more)

An accident on Red Riding Hood Trail has caused substantial power outage at Lookout Mountain, Ga., officials said. Red Riding Hood was closed between the intersections of Cinderella and Aladdin, ... (click for more)

Roads in East Ridge were the main topic under discussion at the council meeting. Money was approved for building new roads, repaving old ones and maintaining public access for another. ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: AMMONS, ASHTON DEWAYNE 1904 TINSLEY PLACE CHATTANOOGA, 374046121 Age at Arrest: 31 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga PD TAMPERING WITH OR FABRICATING EVIDENCE RESISTING ARREST OR OBSTRUCTION OF LEGAL PROCESS POSS. OF HANDGUN WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE DISORDERLY CONDUCT PUBLIC INTOXICATION RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT ... (click for more)

Accident At Red Riding Hood Trail Causes Substantial Power Outage At Lookout Mountain, Ga.

An accident on Red Riding Hood Trail has caused substantial power outage at Lookout Mountain, Ga., officials said. Red Riding Hood was closed between the intersections of Cinderella and Aladdin, officials said at 10:16 p.m. EPB was on-site and was planning to work through the night if necessary. (click for more)

Opinion

Neighbors Unite To Express Concerns About New Apartment Complex - And Response

Response to: Neighbors to Planned 708-Unit Apartment Complex Register Their Disapproval Clarifying the Record As a member of the large group who gathered to express their concerns about the proposed 708-unit apartment complex, I am writing to express my appreciation for and pride in our community. Our community is primarily made up of small, diverse, and unorganized neighborhoods. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Avoid Electric Cars Like The Plague

A Friday article on Chattanoogan.com read in part: “Chattanooga will be home to the nation’s largest electric vehicle ‘living testbed,’ thanks to $9.2 million in funding for a project proposed by the city and scientists at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with municipal, private industry and research partners. Funding will come from a $4.5-million U.S. Department ... (click for more)

Sports

Lookouts Lose Third Straight To Montgomery

The Chattanooga Lookouts came home on a high note last Tuesday after winning five of six games on the road at Birmingham. That badly-needed momentum didn’t last long as the Montgomery Biscuits came to town this week and did the same thing, winning five of six and the last three in a row following Sunday’s 9-6 victory at AT&T Field. The Lookouts collected 11 hits and they ... (click for more)

WindStone Chosen As Host Site For 2022 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Regional

Twelve golf facilities across the nation, including WindStone in Ringgold, Ga., have been named host sites for the 2022 National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Regionals taking place in September. Nearly 200 teams of junior golfers ages 10-17 will enjoy two days of competition. Through PGA Jr. League, kids ages 17 and under learn and play golf on co-ed teams, wear numbered jerseys ... (click for more)