What Makes Ronnie Roll: The Folks Who Make Athens Beautiful

5-6-2016 10-43-14 AMWednesday, May 04, 2016, the staff of City Hall and all the Departments that are going to “live” there began the process of invading the newly completed City Hall, and wrestling with the “giants” that always come out of hiding while in the process of moving. Some staff members had begun to move in stages last week, and it will take awhile for the “punch list” to be completed. There is a window here that has a streak, some tile there that needs to be straightened, a staffer that was locked out of their office, landscaping to be finished, and organization to be completed, but the move is going smoothly. Bottom line, the place is going to be a real blessing for the citizens of Athens, and will beautify our already beautiful city.

We sat at a small conference table in the Mayor’s office that had boxes and other proofs of the task at hand covering part of it. “Wow, what a wonderful weekend we had,” said Mayor Ronnie, and it was true. On Friday night the weather was fixin’ to misbehave, and Singing on the Square was moved to the Limestone County Event Center. It was a solid success. One of the performers was West Limestone’s Lillian Glanton, who had competed in Hollywood during the 2016 (and last) season of American Idol. She was accompanied by the Elk River Boys. Also appearing were Wade Oliver and the Good O Boys.

On Saturday, our town was hoppin’. Cars and Bikes on the Square brought hundreds of visitors, and over 700 cars, trucks, hot rods, classics, antiques, and restored vehicles were parked all around the Square. Previously I had gotten to sit in a 1955 Porsche convertible that made me feel like Grace Kelly. Tom Schuman and so many more worked hard to bring a great event to Athens.

For the second year in a row, Friendship Methodist Church hosted the Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful Earth Day celebration, due largely to the fact that the event has outgrown Big Spring Park. Lynne Hart, director of KALB, estimates that at least 1200 people attended, and I think she’s right. Rachel Clark and I had a Juice Plus Tower Garden demo table, and I lost track of the people who stopped by our table. There were demonstrations, drawings, the most beautiful owl I have ever seen, animals to pet, food, Jim Swanner and his horse, Rosie, homemade soaps, Girl Scouts, essential oils, and more. As always, there was a huge crew of volunteers who happily made it all happen, because they want to be good stewards of what we have been given.

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“There is a group that doesn’t get enough mention for the hard work they do,” said Mayor Ronnie, “and that’s the Beautification Board.” He went on to tell me that they are the ones responsible for all the flower and plant containers around the Square. “They do a wonderful job,” he said. He had gone to thank Myrna Burgreen and Wanda Hightower as they were switching out the spring flowers and planting the lantana for summer. “The lantana oftentimes lasts all the way through the Storytelling Festival,” he said. He also mentioned how the youth from T.R.A.I.L. do litter patrol around the Square and keep it clean. “Anybody how knows me knows I hate litter,” the Mayor said with a laugh, and I am right there with him.

Lastly, we talked about the fact that in addition to all the good and beautiful things that happened this weekend, one of his less pleasant jobs was stopping by El Mercadito on Jefferson, to visit the owners after the place had been hit by lightning, and badly damaged. It is going to be a tough row to hoe for them to rebuild, and they were the first we prayed for. We also took time to thank God for all that makes Athens continually beautiful, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner