Anyone who knows our Mayor knows he’s nuts about kids, and spent the bulk of his career doing everything he could to protect them and see to it that they got justice if they had been preyed upon. I have watched his eyes light up when a kid, tiny or tall, enters the room, and so it was with special joy I listened as he regaled me with the tale of his recent “reading adventure,” which constituted visiting kids at Creekside Elementary School with the intention of “being” the local personification of Dr. Suess in mayoral form.
He wore his special tie as an ice breaker, the one which shows kids upside down in a roller coaster, and dived straight into the tale at hand. However, it wasn’t long until he was on an “improv roll,” and made up the story he felt the kids needed to hear, to the delight of all.
After it was all done, he returned to “the real world,” and all things associated with running the City of Athens. Then, on Monday, December 3rd, there was the official ground breaking ceremony for the new City Hall building. I have seen the plans, and they are beautiful. There will be a number of uses for the building, and the old green marble from the previous building is going to be recycled and re-purposed, something that should make “greenies” glad.
He has showed me the old letters to the editor that appeared in the News Courier back in the ‘50s when the former City Hall building was built, and not surprisingly, the same kinds of objections were made as to cost as well as questioning the necessity of the building, which one writer described as “looking like the backs of several garages.”
Some things never change, I thought, and then listened to what had inspired him over the weekend. Church had been about reclaiming Advent, and making Jesus the real reason for the season. He talked about the unsung heroes of Athens, the most recent example being the women who decorated the old Athens Cemetery with wreaths, never expecting to be thanked for it. He added that the benefit concert for Vicki Bedingfield, which had been held at the Senior Center, was another example of what makes Athens such a wonderful place to live.
He talked about “the spirit of Athens,” not in reference to the organization, but as to the concept. “What is the spirit of Athens?” he asked. “It’s teamwork,” he said, answering his own question, “and it is what gets me up in the morning.” He talked about the fact that he told his own kids many times when they were growing up, that “the hardest thing you’ll ever do in life is have a relationship.” And, seeing as teamwork is the only way that things get done, then doing the hard work of building and maintaining relationships is the price that must be paid. “It’s the coach, or teacher, or preacher or parent that always has to ask, ‘how do we do it together’?”
That’s a tough question, with answers that can change from moment to moment, but the key is to tackle the challenge with joy. And, I think a little kid named Zoey best summed it up (in her carefully written note to thank the Mayor for coming to Creekside,) by saying, “You make me think of rainbow.” [sic] And having the goal of making people dream about what Athens can be, making it a reality by making folks “think of rainbow,” is one of the many things that makes Ronnie roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner