February 23, 2013

Werner Braun: Video on life in Dalton brings out our best

— I’ve lived in Dalton with my wife and family for 13 years now, so life in Dalton is not a new experience for me. But as with most of us, the longer we’ve lived somewhere, the more life begins to take on a day-to-day-to-day type of existence.

So when Mayor Pennington asked me to be a part of a new “welcome to Dalton” video, it really got me thinking about my life here and what I like about it.

The purpose of the video is to welcome newcomers to our fair city and to encourage others to make a move to Dalton. I’m one of about six or so community members who were filmed for the spot, and we were all asked to answer a central question: What do you love about your community?

I love lots of things about Dalton. In fact, my list goes on and on.

First of all, we are a community rich in history and innovation. For what used to be a small town in Northwest Georgia, we’ve come a very long way.

It began with Catherine Whitener, the queen of chenille bedspreads, the hand-tufted coverings that later became the backbone of the carpet industry.

You hear about the small acorn growing into the giant oak? Those chenille bedspreads have morphed into the mighty oak of the flooring industry which has become our city’s bread and butter.

It’s a very unique place from that perspective.

What’s also unique about Dalton is its friendliness. If you’ve ever lived up North, as I have, you know that having people ask you if you’re “doing all right” when they pass you on the street is a rare occurrence. Here, it’s a part of life.

The hospitality is very palpable to those who didn’t grow up here. The warm, friendly culture of the South is alive and well in Dalton. And I like that.

I also like our school system. When we moved here, our children were three and five years old, and they have both had wonderful experiences beginning with pre-k up through high school.

A few years ago, I was asked by the Dalton Public Schools superintendent to serve on a committee charged with creating a vision for the school system. One outcome of that vision has been to embrace our multiculturalism, to see our varied cultural differences as strengths, and to celebrate our diversity.

We committed to the vision of educating our children to become citizens of the world. The global society we live in demands it. These days you have to be citizens of the world, not just of your own hometown.

I also love our revitalized downtown. Today there are more choices of restaurants downtown than ever before. Our side streets are brimming with shops and small businesses.

For someone who works downtown, like me, I often say that the “bad news” is that there’s not a parking place to be found.

But for the economic well-being of the city and its growing businesses, I like to say that the “good news” is that there’s not a parking spot to be found.

On the other side of I-75, we have a thriving and well-respected college that will soon be hosting sports events. I myself can’t wait to see the Roadrunners return to basketball and other sports.

And, of course, the recreational facilities of Dalton have just gotten better and better over time. With all of the city’s new and improved parks, tennis courts and golf courses, there’s something for just about anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

By the way, everyone seems to know about the Disney Trail, but just last weekend I discovered one of the three wonderful hiking trails behind Dalton State. If you haven’t hiked there, I can strongly recommend it.

As you can see, my list keeps growing.

But the bottom line is that for a small city, we have a lot of the amenities that much, much bigger cities have, all in an environment that is friendly and welcoming.

If people ask me if I’d move to Dalton if I had it all to do over again, I don’t hesitate. I tell them I’d move to Dalton in a heartbeat!

Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.