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