By Joel Hall
Last year, Historical Jonesboro's spaghetti dinner fund-raiser at the Salvation Army in Jonesboro raised more than $1,000 for the Stately Oaks Plantation, and hundreds of dollars in cash and food donations for the Salvation Army.
This year, Historical Jonesboro hopes to raise even more, and also highlight one of the city's newest community centers.
On Saturday, March 15, from 5-8 p.m., the fund-raiser will take place at the Jonesboro Firehouse Museum and Community Center, located at 103 West Mill St. Tickets for the event are $7 for adults and $3 for children aged 3-11, and are on sale at Juddy's Country Store at Stately Oaks, Crane Hardware, and at Swint's Feed and Supply.
In addition, diners who bring at least three canned food items will receive a free dessert to go along with their dinner. Dessert can also be purchased for $1, the proceeds of which will go to the Salvation Army. The event will also include a silent auction of items such as gift certificates to Olive Garden in Morrow, free bowling at Pin Strikes Bowling Center in Stockbridge, and items from Cheryl's Florist in Riverdale.
Historical Jonesboro President Barbara Emert said the event will be a good way to highlight the community and bring it together. "Last year, the dinner was held at the Salvation Army," said Emert. "This year, we are doing it at the Firehouse Museum, because we want people who have never seen it to see what a nice facility is there.
"I'm always amazed at people who say I've lived in Clayton County for 10 years and I've never been to Stately Oaks," Emert continued. "It [the firehouse museum] is so new that a lot of people have probably never been in there."
The featured chef for the day will be Jon Crane, chairman of disaster services for the Clayton and Fayette Salvation Army. On Saturday, the locally renown spaghetti connoisseur will make pasta by the pounds for the hungry masses, using a special recipe handed down to him by his late grandmother.
"The three things my grandmother told me that I was going to learn before she passed away was how to cook, how to sew, and play the piano," said Crane. He said all he can do with a piano is "polish it," but his ability to cook makes up for it.
Crane started cooking for large groups while working for the Mountain View Fire Department in the 1960's. Before the city was evacuated to make room for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Crane coordinated several fund-raisers for local organizations in need of financial support.
"It's a labor of love on many levels," said Crane. However, "everybody needs to put back instead of just taking away from the community." He believes Historical Jonesboro is a vital part of the county and wants to use his talents to secure its longevity.
"When you lose part of the community, the whole community loses," said Crane. "You've got to learn from your history ... whether it is good or bad, it carries us into the future. They have provided a knowledge base for not just what happened 150 years ago, but 50 years ago."
Katherine Smith, administrator of the Jonesboro Firehouse Museum and Community Center, said the event will be good for all parties involved.
"They need all of the free help they can get," said Smith, in regards to Historical Jonesboro. "Events like the spaghetti dinner will give [the firehouse museum] more exposure, and that's what we want. People can see what we have there."