By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie always is careful to give credit where credit is due when it comes to acknowledging sources of inspiration. Monday started with him being pretty jazzed by a sermon that had been delivered the day before that had to do with the “power of yes.” “Yes can send you in the right direction, or completely in the wrong direction,” he said as we started off our time together. He continued, “If we’re not saying yes to being servants, we’re missing the boat.”
Saturday the 14th had been Serve Day, and in the Valley there were over 100 projects taken on by local congregations. LCCI (Limestone County Churches Involved) has a well-used center on Jefferson that was in need of some TLC. “We painted and scrubbed,” the mayor said, and I know from experience there is nothing like getting tired for a good reason and being able to see the fruit of one’s labors.
The previous week, Mayor Ronnie had been at a League of Municipalities conference, which is always encouraging as well as intense. One of the things that any city faces, large or small, is weighing out the risk of paying up front for projects with the hopes that the investment will pay out. And, as we have said often, planning is difficult, all the more so when there are huge projects that are coming our way.
On the corner of Pryor and Highway 31, several buildings had been razed. They had a long history as part of the story of Athens. There was Tall Paul’s Rental. On an angle right on the corner there was the old site of the former Harley-Davidson dealership which had gone on to become a spot for everything from car detailers to BBQ and truck farm produce, and now it is going to become “Project X,” which is the generic code name for a retail project. There is also road work coming up to accommodate the increase of traffic turning on and off Hwy 31 connected with the new high school. “Project X is going to bring some huge opportunities,” Mayor Ronnie said.
“Project X” isn’t the only thing going on. “Project Y,” which is going to be located “somewhere on Hwy 72 near the interstate,” is also an important retail project that Athens has landed after a lot of hard work. With all the growth that is going on, there is always the concern for public safety. “People need to be careful crossing 72 on foot to get to Popeye’s,” the mayor said.
We talked about personal development, which we always do, and the fact that the word “transparency” has become a buzz word in our culture that sometimes has gotten fuzzy. Nevertheless, the mayor said, “Transparency of self has to precede transparency of government,” and I agree. We discussed the election that was going to be happening the next day, and expressed hope that people would get how important it is and would show up to vote. The time flew by, and it was time to pray. We started out by praying for our president, moved on to kids that are in trouble, and the mood of our country. Then it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner