By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted a few days before Mayor Ronnie had surgery, and he is recovering well.

“Well,” said Mayor Ronnie, “In a few days I am finally going to have a battle scar.” It’s typical for him to look for the humor in most things, so we exchanged chuckles with quips such as “spilling your guts” or “You’re getting drawn and quartered.” But when it comes to dealing with unwelcome growths, it’s just best to “git ‘er dun.” A while back he had gone in for a routine exam, and the doc said that the next step was going to have to be a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy showed a 3”-4” tumor that needed to come out immediately, and the surgery was scheduled to be done at Athens-Limestone Hospital. “Thank God they found this, and thank God I am going to be good as new. The doctors say that I am going to need about 2-3 weeks recovery time, and my 1944 Chevy body is going to be back on the road.” The mayor said that there was no indication beforehand that the tumor was cancerous, and mentioned again the importance of self-care, a topic that understandably was on his mind on a number of fronts. “Us guys are just the worst in the world about this kind of stuff,” he said.

Continuing on the subject of care, Mayor Ronnie said, “The City of Athens is in good hands, and so am I.” He explained that the department heads will continue to be in charge of their respective teams, and that Annette Barnes Threet will be fielding messages. Mayor Ronnie smiled and said, “I only live 5 blocks away. They know where to find me if they need me.” City Council will continue to function as usual, and everyone is determined to let the mayor fully rest while he recovers.
Mayor Ronnie had just been at a strategic planning conference for North Alabama which had been held at Redstone Arsenal. “Our area has grown 15.9%. There are new industries courting us, and new retail projects to be located out by the interstate,” he said. Mayor Ronnie had also just attended a waste water conference and said, “You’ll get stopped up if you don’t take care of yourself, and that goes for the city.”

The mayor also mentioned that it had just been decided to have City Councilman Frank Travis be the director for the 2018 Poke Sallet Follies, which will coincide with our bi-centennial celebration. “It’s a huge job, and we are glad he is willing and able to take it on.” For several years, Poke Sallet was directed by the late Jackie Greenhaw, who passed away in June, and those are some tough shoes to fill. Frank certainly has the experience and will do a beautiful job.

It was time to pray, and pray we did. I was struck with just how dependent we all are upon the grace of God for everything, and how fragile life is. But, the mayor was confident, as was I, that all would be well, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll before he got rolled on in to the operating room to “git ‘er dun.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie was not going to be available for our usual meeting, so he asked Amy Golden, Customer Relations Manager for the City of Athens and Athens Arts League president, to fill in for him and bring us up to speed with regard to the Scout Music House. A little background—The Scout House, which is located on the corner of Washington and East Streets in historic Athens was built by the W.P.A., or Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression; the need for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts is never greater than during a national crisis. The charming building, complete with a stone fireplace, bay windows, and hardwood floors had many uses throughout the years. Amy’s mother’s Brownie troop met there, some folks claim it was where they got their first kiss, and until a few years ago, it was used for office space by the Athens City Schools.

One day, Amy, City of Athens Communications Specialist Holly Hollman, and Athens Arts League Program Chair Diane Lehr were brainstorming about a good use for the building, which was also at times referred to as “Little Red,” and came up with the idea of a Music House. The Athens Arts League and High Cotton Arts Center have been busy and successful working towards solidifying the rightful place of creativity and the development of artistic presence in our community, but there was no comparable venue for music. The Scout House seemed like the perfect place, and it was also a wonderful re-purposing project. “The Arts League felt compelled to offer music,” Amy said simply.

Amy told me, “The response of the community has been phenomenal, which highlights the community’s awareness of the need for this type of project.” There have been private donations of just a few dollars on up to generous corporate ones, most recently the $30,000 gift from the Steelcase Foundation, and a $40,000 grant from the DEKKO Foundation. In addition, a handicapped entrance has been built. Lowe’s has been greatly involved with landscaping and materials, and as usual I am concerned that I am leaving someone out who has stepped up and given. My apologies in advance! The Athens Arts League is a 501 3C not-for-profit organization, and all donations are tax deductable.

Amy continued, “The music world has changed so much over the years, and it has become a business. Our hope is that the Scout Music House will become both a state of the art music production center, as well as a place where students can learn the business side of music.” They will also be holding concerts there, and the target age is elementary school age kids through high school. Our school system has been solidly behind this project, and understands the importance of music in education and cognitive development.

“We want the Scout Music House to be a safe haven where kids can go and hone their talent, and achieve their dreams,” said Amy as we concluded our time together. And then it was time for Amy to roll, but not before she said, “You know, someone probably has the old W.P.A. bronze plaque that used to be on the building sitting in their den, or has an idea where it might be.” If that’s you, and you want to part with it for a worthy cause, you can give her a call at 256-262-1525.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie came bursting in the door with his trademark high level of Monday morning energy, and whipped out his notes from the sermon he had heard on Sunday entitled, “Sideways Thinking.” It had to do with thinking outside of the box, and gaining positive results as a reward. For example, did you know that it was a seasoned airline pilot who came up with the concept of making wheels a built-in part of luggage? It’s something we take for granted, and the pilot’s idea ended up having a true ripple effect.

In the mayor’s case, an idea was given to him by Bass Fishing Hall of Famer Bill Huntley that is going to have a literal ripple effect in the form of a friendly invasion from an outfit known as Fishing University. In December, the film crew and celebrities Charlie Ingram and Ray Brazier from the nationally televised program will be coming to Athens.

The City, Tourism and the Limestone County Commission have gone in together to put up the $7500 it takes to accommodate the team; in exchange, we will have a 90-second spot that shows what fishing is like, as well as highlighting a number of family-friendly tourism attractions around Athens that will be broadcast on the show. That spot will be shown over 30 times in 2018, which is perfect, given the up-and-coming bi-centennial celebration of our city as well as our state.
Fishing University has been around for over 30 years and has been nominated for an Emmy. It is the second-longest running outdoor show of its kind anywhere, and is seen in 51 countries in addition to all 50 states. It airs eight times a week, and has a viewership of over 63 million viewers. It is shown on the Outdoor Channel, the Sportsman Channel, and the World Fishing Network.

In addition, one of the best things that Fishing University does is visit a local high school to discuss not only fishing itself as a career, but to showcase various jobs in the outdoor and fishing-based tourism industries. Bass fishing in our area is a big deal—Calhoun’s fishing team is highly ranked nationally, and there are high schools who are involved in the sport as well. Besides making a presentation to high school students, the crew stays around to answer questions regarding everything from biology, animal husbandry, fish and wildlife, communications, filming, resort management, and more. Then the school which is selected for their visit is filmed and featured in its own two minute segment on the show.

Mayor Ronnie said, “This is going to be a great opportunity for our whole area, and I am really excited they chose us. I am glad that Bill came into my office and said, ‘Hey, I got an idea.’” It might not be as revolutionary as putting wheels on luggage, but it is still something to celebrate. It was time for us to pray, so we did, and then it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
The subtitle of this 3rd chapter in Steve Gilliland’s book called, Hide Your Goat, is “The Wisdom To Discern Where You Are Heading,” a poignant reference to the fact that as soon as we finished this interview, Mayor Marks was off to the beginning of the 5th year of the Mayor’s Youth Commission.

We took a moment to reflect how quickly the time had passed, and how hard it was to believe that some of the original kids were now in grad school. Interestingly, later in the day at the grocery store, I ran into one of my favorite kids from the first year. He said he’d been thinking about calling up Holly Hollman, who has helped the mayor since the beginning, to ask if he could come and speak to this year’s group. The young man wanted them to know how much the Mayor’s Youth Commission had affected his life for the good, and I told him I thought that would mean a great deal to Mayor Ronnie, Holly, and any others who had been a part of that inaugural endeavor.

Back at City Hall, Mayor Ronnie chuckled as he told me what it had been like to be grilled by a bunch of Cub Scouts, specifically Cubs from Pack # 236 who meet at Isom’s Chapel Methodist Church. They asked him all kinds of things such as, “Are you going to build an aquatic center?” Or, there was, “How do you deal with procrastination?” He had wondered if that question had been coached, and he noticed that some of the boys had actual notebooks full of questions and raised their hands incessantly. However, the question that meant the most to the mayor was, “What are you the most proud of?” He told them, “It’s not City Hall, or anything you can see; it’s impacting the lives of young people. When you see young people have an understanding of good government and how it works, helping them to understand that a city is a business that needs to be run well, and teach them how to work together and serve others, that is something to be proud of.”

The Mayor’s Youth Commission was the first of its kind amongst the Alabama State League of Municipalities, an organization of the 660 cities and towns and mayors that comprise Alabama the Beautiful. Mayor Ronnie is the president of the division for North Alabama, and just recently found out that other cities had started up their own Youth Commissions. Guntersville Mayor Leigh Dollar, Montevallo Mayor Hollie Campbell Cost, and Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon have followed Mayor Ronnie’s example, and now the League of Municipalities wants him to teach all the rest of the Mayors in the state how to do the same. The League’s request was the perfect answer for the Cub Scout’s question: “What are you most proud of?”

Then we took some time to talk about several hurting folks in our dear town. “So many are fighting cancers and other diseases,” he said. So, we prayed, asked for “the wisdom to discern where you are heading,” and then it was time for Ronnie to roll….to the Youth Commission.
By: Ali ElizabethTurner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie came into the office with a lot of concerns squarely on his shoulders. “Six million people out of power in Florida,” he said, as he put down his stuff. “When we had the big tornado in 1974, I was in grad school, and still in the National Guard. We had a lot of work to do,” he said, remembering how big the job was to clean up after a storm. We talked about the rest of the natural disasters that had come our way, some seemingly back to back. Ice storms, floods, tornadoes, all of them had hit Alabama, and he said, “There is hard physical labor ahead in putting peoples’ lives back together.” Mayor Ronnie let me know that just the day before, the decision had been made to cancel the ANGA (America’s Natural Gas Alliance) conference scheduled to start September 11 at Leak City. The reason was to free up approximately 300 beds for people fleeing Florida, if they needed a place to land. As much as I know thatthe decision to do so will increase the work load for the Gas Department when they are able to re-schedule, as well as for the potential attendees to do the same, I was so glad that our city and county leadership had made the move to help in any way we can.

At that point, meaning as of Monday morning September 11, we were not completely out of the “Irma woods” ourselves. Blair Davis, the new manager of the electric department called in to let the mayor know that he had just met with his staff, and that they were ready for what could be described as “Irma’s last gasp.” The City of Athens hasa reciprocating agreement with other areas and states when there is a natural disaster, and the mayor said, “We’ve been in need, and people have helped us. We stand ready to help, and we’ll send whoever we can spare after we get through this.”

We took a moment to reflect on the 16th anniversary of 9/11, and while we did so, President Trump was speaking on the same issue. We talked about where we were when we heard about the planes going in to the Twin Towers, and how everything had changed as a result of that act. Mayor Ronnie then found a quote from the book we have been discussing as a series, Herd Your Goat, by Ron Gilliand. “Life’s experiences will either make you bitter or better.” How true. We can either become contracted, fearful and bitter, or we can go on as individuals, a city, and a country to step up for our finest hour.

Mayor Ronnie talked about the contrasts of the weekend. One the one hand, the 9/11 Heroes’ Run was the biggest yet, with approximately 330 runners, a fitting tribute to our soldiers as well as those who perished on 9/11. There was also a Marine Drill Team who ran in cadence for the entire race. On the same day, Big Spring Park was “overrun” with super heroes. It has become a grand show of force for some of our bravest warriors, kids who are facing down the “villains” of childhood cancer and other potentially terminal diseases. How hard it was to compare that determination exhibited by adults and kids alike to fight and live well, versus the inner turmoil that caused a young man to end his life by throwing himself in the path of an oncoming train; it was one of the things that was clearly weighing on the mayor.

So, it was a time to take a moment, a breath, and pray; so we did for longer than usual. Then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
The day was wild enough that we were going to have to do our interview in two parts. Madame Jocelyne Papelard-Brescia, (the French woman who has spent her life caring for the graves of over 5,000 WWII American soldiers who died in France,) was going to visit the Vets’ Museum at 10 am on Monday. Mayor Ronnie was going to be a part of the ceremony honoring her, and then wanted to include that event in his comments for this column. Those details will follow below, and Yvonne Dempsey also wrote about the event in this edition of All Things Soldier on page 4. By way of background, Evan Thornton had contacted the Mayor regarding Joceylne’s visit to our area. Evan had been over to visit the grave of his grandfather, had met her there in France, and knew it would be a blessing for Athens to hear her story.

When I arrived the first time at City Hall, the Mayor was on the phone with City Councilman Chris Seibert, and they were discussing the recent award given to Emma Tarokh. Emma is a 5th grader at Athens Intermediate, and was just chosen as the Alabama State Games Female Athlete of the Year. “She was not just chosen for her soccer playing,” he said, “but her attitude, team spirit, effort, and motivation.” Mayor Ronnie and Chris hammered out a plan to honor Emma at Monday night’s City Council Meeting, and her dear grin said it all as the Councilmen applauded her.

We moved on to other things. First was any update on Pilgrim’s Pride. “We are still waiting to hear from ADEM regarding the second test, the underground one,” the Mayor said. Additionally, he mentioned that other cities who are dealing with blighted properties have reached out to him for moral support. “It is a complicated process,” he said. He also said that, “We are sad to see that K-Mart is closing. It’s been there a long time. Time will tell what happens with that property, but there has been some interest expressed in it, and I am glad about that.”

Mayor Ronnie then moved to one of his favorite topics, the budget. “We’ll do a whole column on that soon,” he said, “but for today people need to know we are moving forward to finish by the October deadline. Electric was finished earlier this summer, and we are working on police, fire, gas, water, and water treatment right now.”

It was time for the Mayor to get to the Vets’ Museum to meet Mme. Jocelyne, so we prayed and set a time to meet “back at the ranch.” When he came back, he said that “She broke down and cried. She had no idea we were going to do this. I gave her a key to the city and made her an honorary citizen of Athens. Everyone there gave her a standing ovation.” He went on to tell me that he really wished the kids from the Mayor’s Youth Commission would have been able to attend in order to gain an appreciation for what the U.S. did to liberate France. “It was a moving, wonderful experience, and she was overwhelmed by Southern hospitality,” he said with the right kind of pride. It indeed had been a grand day in our grand town, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll, again.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali ElizabethTurner
“…the brownfields perish.” Mayor Ronnie was just back from Prattville, where the ADEM-sponsored Brownfield Conference had been held, and he was on fire with vision for brownfield reclamation. I had to ask what a brownfield is, as I had never heard the term. Basically it’s any type of urban site with any manner of blight, such as having been abandoned or being toxic. Pilgrim’s Pride and Love Canal are good examples, along with the recent water pollution crisis in Flint, Michigan. This conference was about having a vision for reclaiming and repurposing brownfields, and after the long process of dealing with our own inarguable eyesore, the conference was “just what the doctor ordered.”

“What some folks may not know is that we are not the only ones dealing with abandoned Pilgrim’s Pride plants,” said Mayor Ronnie. “There’s another here in Alabama, and one in Arkansas,” he added. He has a vision for what it could be that keeps him going as he negotiates the particulars of restoring a blighted sight. “So far we have passed the Phase One ADEM test, which is for above ground pollution, and we are waiting on the Phase Two below ground test results, and those will be posted for the public to view,” he said.

Pilgrim’s Pride is a 31.7 acre plot that has the potential to become our city’s Central Park. There is a conceptual drawing of various possible ideas for development such as mixed-use, which could include businesses and homes along the east and west perimeters, the spring running through, a plaza, picnic areas, recreational sites, playground equipment, walking and running trails, and much more. “This is one of the most exciting opportunities, to take a blighted property and create a million-dollar project that can positively impact our city,” said Mayor Ronnie. He is looking into a number of funding sources, which include local legislation, grants, and investments. He also is glad that its timing coincides with the city’s bi-centennial. “It’s a bi-centennial opportunity,” he said. Essentially it would be a celebratory gift we give to ourselves that would give back long after we are gone.

The tentative cost of the land is $550,000, which has been negotiated down from Pilgrim’s original asking price of $4,000,000. There would be walking access to the new high school, and sidewalks put in to accommodate the increase in foot traffic that would connect the park to the rest of the city. One of the things that impressed me was the commitment to re-purpose as much of the empty buildings as possible. Outfits like Habitat for Humanity would stand to benefit from all manner of building materials, thus reducing the costs of what is known in the business as “deconstruction.” The mayor has already heard from many developers who are interested in being involved, and is looking forward to moving ahead.

Another reason to get going on the project is health and safety related. The standing water now makes Pilgrim’s Pride a mosquito-producing plant, rather than a chicken-processing plant, and there are big water moccasins who think they own the place.
“We are involved in a number of projects to make Athens a better place,” said Mayor Ronnie, “and are forming staff teams to concentrate on the new Sportsplex as well as Pilgrim’s Pride,” he added. One of the things he heard at Prattville was, “You can’t give up on a blighted site; you have to have a vision for what it can be.” So then, like we always do, we prayed, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali ElizabethTurner

By: Ali ElizabethTurner
Mayor Ronnie and I have both been enjoying and discussing the wisdom and vulnerability of Steve Gilliland as he talks about some of the hard lessons he has had to learn in his book, Hide Your Goat: Strategies To Stay Positive When Negativity Surrounds You. This chapter is called “Herd Your Goat,” and its subtitle is “The Strength To Accept Where You Have Been.” One of Steve’s strengths is that he is very open about the relationships he destroyed, and what he has done with his “second chance.”

In this chapter, Steve particularly focuses on social media, and how it ends up being a reflection of a person without them even knowing it. Here is a quote that struck the mayor and me as we sipped fresh coffee:

“I have always believed that if you can change the way you think, you will change your world forever. Looking at someone’s Facebook page will easily determine how that person thinks. ‘Uncommon people,’ [those that are the exception] listen to, learn from, and edify other people… ‘Typical people’ talk about themselves. They will post information intended to inflate their egos and make themselves…appear to be something they are really not. ‘Sad and miserable people’ talk about other people. They will post negative things about other people…[and] solicit responses to situations that should be handled privately.”

I like to describe the rants of “sad people” as “Facebook fights,” and if Facebook had been around before Steve G. had embraced his current life as a “goat herder,” he would have been leading the charge and mixing it up with the best of ‘em. Because of the hard work Steve has done to “hide his goat so it can’t get gotten,” he has come to the following firm but compassionate conclusion:

“These [sad] folks have never had the courage to discover and admit who they are, and, even sadder, have never taken the time to herd their goats from the past and break the cycle of negative behavior that has been passed on to them from their families.”

We both agreed that in no way did we want to be “sad people,” and Mayor Ronnie went on to tell me about how some of the positive fruit of the Mayor’s Youth Commission has been made manifest after a few years of “husbandry.” “You never know if what you say is going to actually get through,” he said. He added, “A couple of kids from one of the very first groups came to tell me that they had remembered something I had said regarding actions having consequences. It actually helped them to make the right decision and stay out of trouble.” The hope is that these and the rest of our kids will also choose to stay out of Facebook fights and use the manners their parents and teachers hopefully have taught them. We as adults must show them that being “goat herders” is a most noble profession, especially on Facebook!

As far as things that are happening in our city, there is much to celebrate. The tennis courts at Big Spring and Swann Creek have been repaired, and they look gorgeous. The poly-fields at the Sportsplex are being built, and the first walk-through at the new high school was last week. The new surgery center is coming along, and all kinds of highway repair and renovation is happening in the city.

The former high school teacher who also happens to be our mayor is always excited for a new school year, and Mayor Ronnie had a strong admonition for kids who are now behind the wheel: “Slow down, and turn off your phone while you are driving!” I am sure they’ll hear it again once the Youth Commission starts back up.

We groaned for a moment with regard to the current mud-slinging in the US Senate race, and decided to pray for the outcome, that it would be in keeping with the Kingdom. Then it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
“We DO have to say this,” Mayor Ronnie chuckled as he pointed to a particular chapter heading. If you are “just joining us,” every other Monday when the mayor and I get together, we work our way through another bit of Steve Gilliand’s humorous and hard-hitting book entitled, Hide Your Goat: Strategies To Stay Positive When Negativity Surrounds You. The name of the chapter to which he pointed was “Discover Your Goat—The Courage To Recognize Who You Are.” I answered him by saying, “Ouch!” And then, “OK, let’s do this.” My response was one of those that you make by faith when you don’t really want to. I mean, I think it’s safe to say that MY goat tries to “bleat” me to death and chew on me every day, doesn’t yours?

Gilliand’s point in this chapter is that before you can successfully hide your goat so no one can find it and get it, you have to discover that you have one in the first place. Fearlessly “taking an inventory,” as it’s called in most 12-Step programs, is never easy. This chapter has quotes in it from everyone from philosopher James Allen to famed entrepreneurial mentor Zig Ziglar. It could be the subject of many more Ronnies, but for this installment, we will highlight a few observations that really stood out to us both. Gilliand starts out by asking some questions, some positive, some negative, to help with the search-and-discovery of one’s goat. Are you a worrier, a giver, a faultfinder, or are you humble? Are you a gossiper, a jealous person, or an attention seeker? Are you controlling, do you get too angry, and what do you do when no one is looking? Mayor Ronnie had done a lot of underlining and highlighting in the section that asked the question, Are You A Giver? Being a true giver brings the greatest joy, but is exceedingly rare. As Zig Ziglar said, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will always eventually get what you want.” That is one tough walkout, whether you are a mayor, a mail carrier or a mom.

While the commitment to embrace this kind of personal growth should never expire this side of heaven, all of it occurs in steps. Gilliand gives a reason to keep after it when he says, “Until you have the courage to recognize who you are and the willingness to develop areas of your life that need to be changed, someone or something will always get your goat.”

Mayor Ronnie knows that something that got our collective Athenian goat, and rightfully so, was when Pilgrim’s Pride bailed and left behind what has become an inarguable eyesore. He has been dealing with the Pilgrims as well as their pride, the many other people who have everything from ideas to demands as to what should happen there, potential developers, and the folks who want no money spent to remedy the situation, period. He has been working on the Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken, er, Goat situation for years, and I have no doubt that he won’t rest until there is an excellent solution for our city. And then there’s the upcoming budget season; dealing with that topic tends to make my goat have triplets, but the mayor actually looks forward to boxing with the budget. More on that soon! Clearly we had lots of goats that needed herding, and much to pray about, so we did, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
“We DO have to say this,” Mayor Ronnie chuckled as he pointed to a particular chapter heading. If you are “just joining us,” every other Monday when the mayor and I get together, we work our way through another bit of Steve Gilliand’s humorous and hard-hitting book entitled, Hide Your Goat: Strategies To Stay Positive When Negativity Surrounds You. The name of the chapter to which he pointed was “Discover Your Goat—The Courage To Recognize Who You Are.” I answered him by saying, “Ouch!” And then, “OK, let’s do this.” My response was one of those that you make by faith when you don’t really want to. I mean, I think it’s safe to say that MY goat tries to “bleat” me to death and chew on me every day, doesn’t yours?

Gilliand’s point in this chapter is that before you can successfully hide your goat so no one can find it and get it, you have to discover that you have one in the first place. Fearlessly “taking an inventory,” as it’s called in most 12-Step programs, is never easy. This chapter has quotes in it from everyone from philosopher James Allen to famed entrepreneurial mentor Zig Ziglar. It could be the subject of many more Ronnies, but for this installment, we will highlight a few observations that really stood out to us both. Gilliand starts out by asking some questions, some positive, some negative, to help with the search-and-discovery of one’s goat. Are you a worrier, a giver, a faultfinder, or are you humble? Are you a gossiper, a jealous person, or an attention seeker? Are you controlling, do you get too angry, and what do you do when no one is looking? Mayor Ronnie had done a lot of underlining and highlighting in the section that asked the question, Are You A Giver? Being a true giver brings the greatest joy, but is exceedingly rare. As Zig Ziglar said, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will always eventually get what you want.” That is one tough walkout, whether you are a mayor, a mail carrier or a mom.

While the commitment to embrace this kind of personal growth should never expire this side of heaven, all of it occurs in steps. Gilliand gives a reason to keep after it when he says, “Until you have the courage to recognize who you are and the willingness to develop areas of your life that need to be changed, someone or something will always get your goat.”

Mayor Ronnie knows that something that got our collective Athenian goat, and rightfully so, was when Pilgrim’s Pride bailed and left behind what has become an inarguable eyesore. He has been dealing with the Pilgrims as well as their pride, the many other people who have everything from ideas to demands as to what should happen there, potential developers, and the folks who want no money spent to remedy the situation, period. He has been working on the Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken, er, Goat situation for years, and I have no doubt that he won’t rest until there is an excellent solution for our city. And then there’s the upcoming budget season; dealing with that topic tends to make my goat have triplets, but the mayor actually looks forward to boxing with the budget. More on that soon! Clearly we had lots of goats that needed herding, and much to pray about, so we did, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner