The northernmost park in the City of White Settlement is John Griggs Park. This is the second oldest park in White Settlement and was once known as North Park. It was renamed in honor of John Griggs by a unanimous vote of the City Council in November of 1986 to honor him for his 24 years of service as the Fire Chief of the White Settlement Volunteer Fire Department. At the November 1986 meeting, Council considered renaming Saddle Hills Park in honor of Griggs but ultimately decided to rename North Park. At the meeting, Griggs was referred to as a remarkable leader.
Griggs joined the White Settlement Volunteer Fire Department in 1954 and was named Fire Chief in 1956. He served as the chief until 1980. He also served in the leadership of the Tarrant County Fire Fighters Association. In addition to being honored with a park in his name, there is a plaque at the base of the flagpole at the current Fire Station in remembrance of Griggs and all he did for the community.
Hanging in the White Settlement Fire Station on Hanon Drive is a massive hand-painted map of the City of White Settlement. This map was created in 1992 by volunteer fire fighters. They used an overhead projector to project the image of a map onto the large wooden canvas, then traced it by hand. If you zoom in close enough you can see that each individual street is labeled. The handwriting on each of those streets? That of current White Settlement Fire Chief Brian Thompson, who at the time was one of the volunteers helping to create the map.
There are many structures and areas around town that are named in honor of people. From time to time we’ll be focusing on one of these to remember who the person was that was honored and why they were deserving of such an honor. One of the most recent structures to be named is the amphitheater at Central Park, which since 2013 has been known as the Norris and Ella Chambers Amphitheater. This honor came shortly after Norris passed away. Norris was born in 1917 and his life was full of adventure and love. He served in the Merchant Marines during World War 2, owned and operated radio and television repair shops, operated a one man printing shop, and was an electronic technician with General Dynamics. He also served as a trustee on the WSISD school board and served on multiple City boards. He was also heavily involved in the White Settlement Historical Society and Museum. His long life and history is uniquely preserved through his “Old Timer’s Tales” that he posted online and later ran in a local newspaper. Those tales painted a vivid picture of life in a bygone era.
It’s impossible to say much about Norris without talking about his wife, Ella. She was always by his side and their long partnership in life inspired those around them. This was evident in the words of then Mayor Jerry Burns, who spoke about their marriage at a council meeting in September of 2012 when Norris Chambers was being honored and September 6 was established as Norris Chambers Day in the City of White Settlement.
“He and his wife have led a life that will inspire others,” Mayor Burns said. “If you want to know how to live, you want to know how to love, watch this man and his wife. They set an example that will last through eternity.”
Did you know that the sign that hangs above the City Council in the Council Chambers has been around since 1952? The sign was originally placed on the outside of City Hall in 1952. In 1976 it was removed while renovations were done. The sign reappeared in 1985 when it was hung inside the Council Chambers where it has remained for 31 years. The photo above shows the sign as it was in the 1980’s and the way it is today.