I am so happy to welcome a new member to my WRCB Channel 3 family. Meteorologist Cedric Haynes was born and raised in Dalton, Georgia, and is a proud graduate of Dalton High School, class of 2004. His career path has taken him to Louisiana, Texas, Iowa, South Carolina, and now Chattanooga. This young man is truly living his dream.

Just before he made his on-air debut, I stopped by Dalton High with Cedric to meet with his former teachers and coaches. It soon became apparent that Cedric had made quite an impression.

When Cedric was at Dalton Junior High, science teacher Amy Gleaton noticed that the slight, shy African-American student had a keen interest in everything weather-related. “The weather was all he would talk about,” she said. “Other students were talking about the usual teen stuff, and Cedric would be focused on the skies.”

Dalton High soccer coach Matt Cheaves picked up on Cedric’s gift for forecasting, and put it to good use. Cheaves said, “It was like having my own personal weather man. He was in 9th grade, and he’d come in my class at noon, telling me to forget about our game that night, it was going to get rained out. Did I listen to him? Of course I did, he always got it right!”

Unlike many teens with dreams of becoming a television broadcaster, Cedric had no contacts, no resources, and very little money. He figured having nice clothes might help him get his foot in the door, so he would save up enough to buy a suit and a shirt (“although nothing fit me right”), and buy a used tie or two.

“I lived in what I guess you’d call the projects,” he said, “and we weren’t really in a position to visit colleges or shop around for jobs. But I did have an aunt in Chattanooga, and I knew that’s where the TV stations were.”

Teachers like Amy Gleaton encouraged him to chase his dream. “He didn’t always make straight A’s,” she said, “but he tried harder than anyone else. And he never got discouraged. It was that drive that made us think he might someday achieve his goals. I told him to start sending e-mails to the TV news people, and maybe someone would let him visit, and give him a studio tour, so he could see what it was like working on live TV, and see if that was really for him.”

Before long, Cedric had lined up a visit at WRCB. His aunt dropped him off and morning meteorologist Thom Benson, and news anchors LaTrice Currie and Jed Mescon gave him a hero’s welcome, posing for pictures, and letting him stand in front of the green weather wall, where forecasters do their magic. They even lined up opportunities for him to ride with reporters to watch them report their stories on live television.

But Mescon didn’t let it stop there. “Cedric had on this ill-fitting suit, and I noticed we were about the same size. In thirty years of TV, I had accumulated a lot of clothes, so I invited him back, and this time I loaded him down with my old coats and ties. He looked marvelous, and it was an honor to pass those clothes along to him.” Cedric added, “People would compliment me on my wardrobe, and I told them, it all came out of Jed’s trunk.”

Cedric earned a band scholarship to the University of Cincinnati, earning a degree in electronic media, and later earned a degree in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University. His career has take him to TV stations in Louisiana, Texas, Iowa and South Carolina, and now he is home. He has come full circle to his dream station, WRCB in Chattanooga. He says he is blessed beyond measure, and deflects much of the credit for his success to Dalton High School.

“You have to understand, these teachers made time for me. I wasn’t the star student, or the star athlete, I was just a little kid with big dreams. They took me on field trips, they spent extra time with me, they encouraged me to shoot for the stars, literally! Every time I hit an obstacle, there was someone nearby to pick me up. They told me I could reach my goals, and gave me what I needed to get there.”

He is already making plans to visit his alma mater as much as possible. “I want to be a mentor,” he said. “I want to be that person who lifts someone up, just like my heroes did for me.”

Some day soon, you will likely see Cedric Haynes forecasting the weather on WRCB. We enjoy his enthusiasm, his energy, and his friendship, and I believe you will too. Welcome home, Cedric!

(David Carroll is a Chattanooga TV news anchor and radio host, and his new book “Hello Chattanooga: Famous People Who Have Visited the Tennessee Valley” is available at his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405.)

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