What Makes Ronnie Roll: Creativity During COVID

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

We had yet another interview over the phone, and the first thing Mayor Ronnie told me was that he had been at an EMA meeting where it was categorically determined that Athens-Limestone County is prepared to provide critical services, both re: COVID, and in the aftermath of a storm. The Easter Sunday tornadoes had struck less than 24 hours previous, and he wanted to once again thank our utilities guys and the other first responders for being out in the middle of the night taking care of us. There had been an EF-2 twister in Lawrence County, and 18 deaths across the Southeast. That and dealing with COVID caused the mayor to say, “This is a time of heavy prayer. Anyone can serve in easy times, and these aren’t easy.”

We moved on to more difficult news, and that had to do with the effect of COVID on the fight against cancer. Traditionally, this is when we kick off all of the Relay For Life events in our area and throughout the country, and we are having to find different ways to engage in the fight against a disease that has taken too many. Holly Hollman mentioned that Jennifer White is facing down cancer for the second time. “Her spirits are good,” Holly told me. Holly also mentioned that Cherry Hammonds of the Huntsville office of the American Cancer Society reached out to suggest ways to rally around Jennifer and still be in compliance with the COVID guidelines. First of all, the plan is to send cards by way of the USPS. They also threw a parade in her honor, with the pink police car which had been restored and painted by Brad Stovall’s Body Shop leading the way as they drove by Jennifer’s window.

The Relay for Life crew is also looking for ways to virtually celebrate survivors as well as honor the ones who fought bravely against this killer and have passed away. In addition, they will need to find ways to raise funds for Relay and continue the fight. “We are having to be creative,” said Ronnie and Holly on the speaker phone.

We talked about Easter celebrations, and how churches had been creative in providing different types of ways for people to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There were drive-in services where people could hear the service on their radios as they parked in their cars and stayed in the parking lot. First Baptist Church had their choir members film themselves singing to a sound track that had been sent to them, and then compiled all the films on the same page so you could hear them sing together as a choir. We also mourned the death of Jerry Barksdale, and WKAC had a call-in radio memorial service for him on the Tennessee Valley Radio Spotlight show on Monday morning.

The time flew by, and all of us had to go. So we prayed, and then it was time for Ronnie, once again, to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner