1-8-2016 10-47-45 AMIt was our first meeting of this Leap Year, and per usual, Mayor Ronnie nearly bounded into the room. I would say that around 95% of the time that’s how “Ronnie rolls,” but today he was virtually turbo-charged. “I can’t tell you how excited I am about 2016,” he said, as he proceeded to whip out his somewhat beat up notes from the previous day’s sermon. It had been entitled something along the lines of “Gettin’ Over The Hump, Gettin’ Over The Slump,” and it provided for the Mayor a board from which to vigorously spring into our conversation.

We compared notes on our respective holidays, and he was quick to express his gratitude for how hard the utilities crews worked during what will most likely come to be known as to as the “Christmas Floods.” He told me, “Those guys were literally down in culverts pulling out leaves so that the water could move,” He said. “They worked for just about 24 hours straight,” he added.
He went back to his sermon notes, and began to preach. “Are you trying, or are you in training?” I chose not to resist the temptation to reply in my crummy impersonation of Master Yoda by saying, “Do or do not do; there is no ‘try.’” We talked for awhile about the fact that personal development, whether it is on the part of an individual, a family, a business, or a city is not optional. We can and must rest, but too much, and we rust.

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“We (the City of Athens) are in training to be better stewards of money, public safety, kids, seniors, and our resources,” he said.

“2016 has me as excited as I have ever been about a new year,” he said. He continued by saying, “If you can’t get excited about living in North Alabama, I guess you just can’t get excited.” He went down the list of all the things that are either finished or will be soon—the Asahi plant, the Courthouse remodeling project, and the City Hall building. “I inherited an office in a building built in 1954 that had black mold and asbestos,” he said, and I reminded him that’s where we did our very first interview for this column.

He talked for a bit about the “one stop shop” concept that will be a part of the new services that will be available when City Hall opens this spring. What he means by that term is that there will be someone at City Hall who will walk a person or corporation wishing to build in Limestone County through the entire permit and inspection process so that they don’t have to be sent all over the County. This approach has been used in Florence and has saved time, money and resources.

“For the first time, the City is going to have a significant amount of money, (close to a million dollars) for street and road repair,” he said. The recent storm was a good thing in that it exposed what needed to be either built, repaired, or upgraded when it comes to drains and culverts.

As far as new projects, there is the Shape plant, and while he couldn’t mention any specifics, so far there are two or three new commercial projects that will bring growth to Limestone County. “I am excited about jobs,” he said.

Over the holidays he sent a letter to the City Council, encouraging them to brainstorm with him, either in what are known as one-on-ones, as well as when they get back together after the holiday recess. He talked a bit about the importance of setting goals. I asked him, “Do you have any personal goals for 2016?” “Taking out consistent time for exercise,” was his response. One last time he talked about how excited he was about this year. Then we prayed, and Ronnie had to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

12-18-2015 3-12-30 PMThe City of Athens greeted 2015 with winter weather events that demonstrated the kindness of our employees and community.

A three-day cold snap from Jan. 7-9 resulted in TVA seeing peak demands across the area as temperatures dropped to the single digits. Old Man Winter hit again on Feb. 19 when TVA reported the third highest all time energy day in TVA history with 694 GWh used. This also set a new February usage record as temps hovered around seven degrees.

On Feb. 20, a winter storm brought .2 inches of ice and ½ inches of snow to Athens, according to WAFF’s Brad Travis. Interstate 65 shut down with more than 150 motorists abandoning their vehicles. Athens Police, the Mayor’s Office and Central Church of Christ volunteers worked to get stranded motorists to the church for food and shelter after hotels and restaurants at the Interstate-65/U.S.72 exit became full. APD rescued a basketball team from Middle Georgia State University when the team bus became stranded. Players were walking along the interstate toward Athens in the middle of the night, which led to a story on Good Morning America. The team sent APD gifts of appreciation such as autographed basketballs and footballs.

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“We were caught a little off guard, not realizing how much ice we would get and that it was going to paralyze the city, but it ended up bringing out the best in our department and community,” Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson said. “Through the duration of the event and subsequent events, we had people volunteering to help from our business community to our church community. We had officers who didn’t want to go home when their shift ended because they were enjoying helping others. This was a community-wide response that highlighted how special the city is, and how giving our citizens and employees are to others.”

After recovering from that weekend storm, seven inches of snow hit Athens on Feb. 25, according to WAFF. The snow level throughout Limestone County ranged from 4.5 to 10 inches. City Public Works crews plowed roads and used sand on bridges throughout the night to help clear paths for traffic. Central Church of Christ again opened its doors to stranded motorists.

Before spring could arrive, March brought another winter event on March 5-6 when freezing rain and sleet hit on a Thursday night and left slick spots for motorists Friday morning. There were five wrecks in the city, some with injuries.

Winter weather wasn’t the only item making headlines. January 2015 brought the announcement of new jobs in the area. Polaris announced it was building a new manufacturing facility in the Greenbrier area in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County. Athens Utilities is supplying electricity for the project, and the city committed $200,000 to help lure the company and its 2,000 jobs and potential for suppliers. A member of the management team has already purchased a home in Athens.

In October, two more industrial announcements made headlines. Michigan-based Shape Corp. announced it is building a $24 million plant in Athens and creating 170 jobs. The plant will locate on a 34-acres site at Breeding Industrial Park.GE Aviation also announced it will locate a $200 million complex in Greenbrier in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County and create 300 jobs. Athens Utilities will provide electricity.

“We talk to industrial prospects on a regular basis now, and that shows how hot this area is and how lucky we are to be in the North Alabama area,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said.

Those outside the City of Athens have noticed the attractiveness of our city. Here are some of the accolades from 2015:

  • NerdWallet ranked Athens the 18th best place in Alabama for homeownership
  • Movoto blog named Athens the 7th safest city in Alabama based on the FBI’s 2013 uniform crime report
  • NerdWallet ranked Athens No. 2 among 100 cities in the U.S. with a rising middle class.
  • Niche.com listed Athens as No. 11 for Best Towns to Live In in Alabama, scoring the city high in housing, education, safety and overall community.
  • NerdWallet named Athens 20th best city in Alabama for first-time homebuyers.
  • USA News and World Report gave Athens High School a Bronze national ranking
  • SACS said Athens City Schools surpassed every national average of their ratings. With 400 being the best possible score, Athens scored 317.07. The national average is 282.45.
  • Newsweek magazine released its rankings of U.S. high schools that provide the best chances for post-graduation success for students living below the poverty line. Athens High was one of two Alabama schools to make the list of 500. Athens ranked No. 361. Athens also received a Gold Star Equity rating, meaning students classified as disadvantaged performed at or above state averages in standardized reading and math tests.

By: Holly Hollman, City of Athens Communications Specialist

12-3-2015 11-12-27 AMMayor Ronnie was fresh back from a week at the beach with his family, and got some much needed rest, save for the traffic on the way back home. It was beastly! This time our chat centered around education, and the expanding needs of students in our area due to the continual growth of our city and county. You will remember that toward the end of the summer, there was plenty of spirited discussion and then a vote put to the people of Athens in regard to building a new high school. As we all know, it was defeated. Mayor Ronnie, as he set forth the options that are now before us to consider ways to fund a new school, reiterated that the people had spoken. “We heard it, we heard the democratic vote” he said, and then asked, “What now?”

It became very apparent when there was the bomb threat made earlier in the Fall at the Middle School, and kids and staff had to be evacuated quickly and safely, that the Middle School has a number of public safety issues that certainly were not something anyone was having to consider when it was built in 1956. “Egress was a nightmare,” he said. Due to the Middle School’s location, that is not something that can be remedied by repair or remodeling, and in the event of an actual bomb could be a huge problem.

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One of the things I have come to appreciate about the Mayor is how creatively he responds to challenges, and the kinds of questions he asks when he is in the process of solving problems. I also appreciate that I can ask him questions, and, as always, came away from our time feeling like I had learned something.

What is little known, and I found fascinating, is that there was a random phone poll conducted prior to the August school funding election, and of those surveyed, 70% said they would support the building program that was being proposed. However, they made it very clear that they wanted to have the funding package passed all at once and get it out of the way, rather than have it come in stages. Interestingly, when the election finally came, it was nearly the same percentage of voters who were against it.

Moving forward, there is a bit of confusion that needs to be cleared up in regard to the role that the City Council has in all of this. “The City Council does NOT have the authority, according to Alabama State Law, to vote on a property tax increase,” he said. He then added, “That’s the vote of the people.”

As of now, the Mayor and the City Council are working closely with the Athens Public Schools Finance Department to see what kinds of things can be done to solve the school funding problem. “Basically, we are looking at reducing administrative costs by attrition, looking at the impact that the increase of student population growth will have on state funding made available to us, and exploring how we can best utilize the tax revenue we already have,” he said. It became apparent that we were going to have to talk about this again in much more detail, so we finished laying the foundation for this article, prayed for wisdom for our leaders, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

11-20-2015 3-59-19 PMThe events in Paris were hanging over us as we began the interview, and we sighed for a moment as we realized that, like it or not, we are at war, and a so called “holy war” at that. We talked about the fact that we had just come off of a wonderful local celebration of Veterans’ Day, and the connection between Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving is obvious: we would not be free without our vets, and now that ISIS is in all 50 states, whether vets are active or not, they will be our first line of defense.

Mayor Ronnie, when he came home from Vietnam 45 years ago, participated in several burials of fellow soldiers who had fallen. There was a specific ceremony that goes into making the triangular flag that is given to the family, and it fell upon Ronnie, as a member of the burial detail, to be the one who would hand the flag to the primary family member while saying, “On behalf of a grateful nation…” The 13 fold ceremony is one of great precision, and the Mayor had been pleased to see it recreated by young people at his granddaughter’s school, (Pizitz Middle) located near Hoover.

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“We need to hang on to the November holidays,” he said, and by that he meant Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving, and not let either one of them get overshadowed by Christmas. We reminisced about the holidays when we were kids. Christmas decorations were never up before Thanksgiving, and there was no Black Friday. Thanksgiving was always and only Thanksgiving, and it was the day after that the stores put up their decorations. “I understand the commercial side of Christmas,” he said, “but I am old school, and it’s aggravating. Are we going to just start calling November “Black November?” I nodded in agreement.

“This is a time to be with family and friends, and to go to church,” he said. And, while the attacks on Paris are not as extensive as 9/11 were to us as Americans, they are devastating to France, and France is our ally. We expressed our amazement that France had actually declared war on Syria, and he said, “We will need to be there to help them.”

I got “feffered up,” as my husband Steve would say, over the strategy of terrorism, which is always to control by fear. “What if,” I said, “everyone in Athens decided that live or die, they were the Lord’s, what power would ISIS have then?” He nodded, and added, “We have to be alert when we are at events and other places. More than refusing to be afraid, we have to concentrate on all of the ‘good stuff’ for which we can be thankful,” he said. “More people are involved in more things at the local level, and we have been energized. This is no time to circle the wagons,” he said. Then we discussed the upcoming Thanksgiving dinners being held for Vets and the community on Thanksgiving Day, prayed, and it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

11-6-2015 10-54-15 AMWhen I met with Mayor Ronnie for this edition, I was treated to the additional presence of Acting Fire Chief Bryan Thornton and City Hall Communications Specialist Holly Hollman, (whose comments below will appear in italics.) The three of them were fresh off of a FEMA graded exercise that had been held at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, and the test scenario had to do with terrorism. I asked Bryan, “How’d we do?” “We did well,” he told me, although they don’t have their final FEMA grade back yet. “The departments all worked well together,” Bryan said, “and that is super important in that type of emergency.”

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He went on to tell me how much firefighting had changed in the 20 years that he has been on the force, and how every firefighter has to be trained, certified and able to deal with all types of hazardous situations. “We have equipment now that can do everything from lift someone off a floor, to rescuing people using the ‘jaws of life,’ to a rough terrain vehicle that can get an injured person off one of our trails. Our fire trucks are now really a mobile station,” he said. He added, “What we can do is function as first responders until the ALS (Advanced Life Support) people get there, and be ready to go to the next emergency without having to go back to the station. It’s a big change from when I was doing EMS, and from when I first became a firefighter.”

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Holly talked about some of the fun things firefighters get to do, some of which are coming up real soon:

“Athens firefighters work as Santa’s elves during the holiday season. The firefighters provide Santa transportation to local events such as Christmas Open House and the Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Committee Tree Lighting Ceremony. Athens Fire and Rescue provides Santa a ride via fire truck instead of a sleigh.

At the tree lighting, firefighters and police help distribute toys and bicycles to children. The Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Committee receives the names of children through agencies such as the Boys and Girls Club. Thanks to donations, the committee helps provide Christmas gifts to these children. By participating in the event, firefighters get to interact with the community, particularly the youth, and help share the Christmas spirit.

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Firefighters also work as Santa’s elves through the Athens Fire and Rescue Auxiliary ‘Shop With A Firefighter’ program. Through fundraisers, the auxiliary provides Christmas to children submitted by local schools. These are children whose families need help in providing Christmas. The children pair up with a firefighter and shop for $100 worth of necessities, toys and clothes. The firefighters are often touched by the selflessness of these children, many of whom ask to purchase an item for another member of their family.”

Bryan mentioned that there is an increase in fires during the holidays due to space heaters, Christmas trees and deep fryers for turkeys. “We want people to be careful, and get heaters away from curtains and bed spreads, be sure to water your tree, and use your deep fryer properly.” He finished his visit with a heartfelt expression of satisfaction at being able to have a job where “you know at the end of the day you have made a difference.”

Mayor Ronnie added that “The excellence of our fire department, and how well Bryan, the battalion chiefs and all the firefighters are doing to help everyone from kids to the elderly is something we can be very thankful for and proud of.” Then Bryan and Holly got “back after it,” the Mayor and I prayed, and it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

10-17-2015 10-21-51 AMAnyone who has watched the news in the last year knows that our nation has been unfortunately embroiled in multiple controversies regarding the relationship between law enforcement and their respective communities.

When I arrived for our bi-monthly interview, Mayor Ronnie asked me if I had seen the recent Time magazine cover story entitled, What It’s Like To Be A Cop In America. I had seen it, I had not read it, and he made me a copy. We have talked often about the fact that in any city, large or small, the number one priority, always, is public safety. Without that, nothing else matters. The Time article was extensive in scope, long term in observation, and eminently fair.

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In Athens, most citizens, and certainly those involved in law enforcement, believe that “all lives matter,” and not just one people group. Nonetheless, there has been a concerted effort on the part of law enforcement and city government to make sure that this is not just a slogan. It is also important for all residents of Athens-Limestone County to know what is being done to make sure that all citizens are protected, everyone receives equal treatment, and all people feel safe. Mayor Ronnie talked about the candlelight vigil that was held in Big Spring Park to raise awareness of domestic violence, and that Limestone County Sheriff’s Dept new Public Affairs Officer Steve Young told the group about a woman getting killed on his watch in Louisiana, and how it affected him.

“Basically, we are in good shape,” Mayor Ronnie told me, “but all it takes is one thing to go wrong, and that can change in a minute,” he said. He was proud of Athens City Police Chief Floyd Johnson’s efforts to get out in the community, get with the people, hear their concerns, and tell them what is being done to improve service. Mayor Ronnie tied those efforts to the newest season of the Mayor’s Youth Commission, which is just getting started. “The priority of public safety grows as you are around young people,” he said. He then added, “They have got to know that we are here to help,” he said.

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Mayor Marks then sent me to Chief Johnson’s office to get more information on what the police department is doing, and my time with him was indeed blessed. He is making a point of having community meetings throughout our area. Sometimes it has been at churches such as Sweet Home, and sometimes in places other than churches. People are free to ask him any and all questions, and he is free to educate people from the perspective of what police officers face in the line of duty. All the way around, this has been a good move, and it is going to continue.

One of the technological advances that has made law enforcement improve has been the implementation of “body cams,” or body cameras. They record a police officer’s complete interaction with a citizen, and, as the saying goes, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” What warmed my heart is that Chief Johnson makes a point of watching the “tape” of at least two body cams per day, and gets back to the officer, regarding where they did well, and where they could improve.

Of course, the down side of body cams is the potential for the invasion of privacy, however, the upside is that it protects both the citizen as well as the officer, and that’s a good thing. I reported back to Mayor Ronnie, told him what I learned, and then it was time for him to roll, but not before we prayed.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

10-2-2015 2-57-58 PMAs sometimes happens, Mayor Ronnie had some thoughts and resources prepared for our appointment, and then, all of a sudden he knew that something else had moved into the “Plan A” slot for this edition. It puzzled him somewhat to be revisiting the necessity of knowing the Constitution of the United States of America, seeing as just two weeks ago, the Daughters of the American Revolution had given a wonderful Constitution Day presentation in the newly refurbished McCandless Hall on the ASU campus.

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By all accounts, it would appear that the understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is alive and well in Athens, AL, and for the most part, that is true. At many public functions there are free copies of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is available to anyone who wants one. They are provided by such organizations as The Heritage Foundation, the DAR, Hillsdale College, and the Alabama Policy Institute, and will fit in your pocket or pocketbook.

So, why the Mayoral concern about our kids knowing the founding documents of our country? I think it can be best described by former President George W. Bush when he said in his first Inaugural Address:

“America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests, and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.”
“Every child must be taught these principles.” Which principles? Those laid down by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We put on our former teacher hats for a moment and discussed the readily available level of understanding of “the principles” amongst kids we had taught, and here is what we concluded. It is not enough to have a functional familiarity with the documents, the true skill comes with knowing how and why they work, and wrestling with them as they are applied to our lives, locally, on the state level, and nationally. This could be illustrated by how well we all know the Lord’s Prayer or the Pledge of Allegiance, and yet sometimes “check out” and say them like we are robots. But what happens when we connect with their truth? Lots.

“People are struggling with mistrust,” he said, “and to an extent that is understandable. If you have leaders who are not upholding the Constitution, you can expect nothing else.” And, I might add, if you have leaders who don’t even know the Constitution, it unfortunately falls upon the informed populace to speak truth to power. What, then, is the “intergenerational pact?” It is the understanding that the deep imprinting of the brilliance of the Founders swings both ways. Adults need to teach it, kids need to truly internalize it, not just regurgitate it, and bless their elders with their conclusions.

This year, as the Mayor and those who help him with the Mayor’s Youth Commission gear up for teaching our kids about life, local and state government, as well as what makes a city work well, there is going to be a new emphasis on the Constitution. They won’t just be mouthing words, but, as Mayor Ronnie read to me from his own pocket version of that blessed document—“We hold these truths to be self evident….” is going to be a serious part of what makes both Ronnie and our kids roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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9-18-2015 4-40-52 PMI have only known a few people whose eyes dance when it’s budget time, and Mayor Ronnie is one of them. That’s when the “teacher” in him comes out in force, he’ll jump up, head to the white board, and proceed to draw arrows, percentage marks, and explain mils. This day was no exception, and thankfully my level of fiscal ignorance was reduced once again.

“It is the law of the State of Alabama for the City Council to receive a budget, and for the City Council to pass it,” he told me. This applies to any city with a population for 12,000. Prior to voting, they have work sessions that go on for hours, and always emerge triumphant. They have to! Then the funds are released on October 1, and once again we are in the black.

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That doesn’t mean there aren’t some tough rows to hoe, and the waste, waste water, gas and general budgets are all gone over with a fine tooth comb. The goal is to be prepared for any and all challenges, as well as the future, just as it is with any household. Every department has a concept of what it will take to run well, and also has to balance that with the needs of the other departments. Because one of the Mayor’s responsibilities is to improve operations in each department, it is easy to understand why this process begins months before the deadline, and why it can be so daunting.

He then proceeded to tell me about the upcoming utility rate reductions. “When we lost Pilgrim’s Pride, we lost about $1.6 million, and it had to be made up. The City Council voted for rate increases that were automatic. No one liked them, and that includes me, but now we are in the position to bring them back down again. People need to understand that we mean what we say when we talk about reducing,” he said.

He also talked about the need for fleet management when it comes to sanitation. The city is going to have to find a new provider for the sanitation trucks, and there are some trucks that need to be replaced. Just ONE sanitation truck costs over $300K, and our city is growing.

There are more businesses coming in, which will be announced soon, and we are heading into Festival Season.

From the standpoint of the faith community, Friendship United Methodist Church just celebrated their 50th anniversary. The morning service focused on looking back, and the evening service focused on looking forward. Lindsay Lane is going to be able to expand its Christian School. We both wondered what churches go through in order to meet their ministerial goals, and realized that we needed to thank God for them as well as pray for strong churches everywhere if we are going to have a strong city.

So, we did. We thanked God for Athens, for churches, and for being His kids. Then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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9-7-2015 10-39-51 AMRecently Mayor Ronnie came across a story that underscores some qualities in our culture that have become, if you will pardon the pun, a bit “frayed.” There are any number of ways to describe that which has become “unraveled.” In the 19th century, the terms were “civility” and “deportment.” In the 20th century they were simply defined as having “good manners,” or stated by way of retort, “my daddy didn’t raise me that way.”

The story Mayor Ronnie told me was about Cecil Rhodes, the British man who started the Rhodes Scholar prize and Rhodes University. Love him or hate him for his impact on South Africa, this particular story illustrates the power of being flexible and gracious, especially when things aren’t going properly. As was the case with most wealthy people during Queen Victoria’s reign, being appropriately dressed for dinner was non-negotiable. You didn’t come to the table in cargo shorts, a T shirt and flip flops, and Cecil was a stickler for formal dress when expected.

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The Right Honorable Mr. Rhodes was having a formal dinner, and a young man who had been invited to the fete found himself in what appeared to be a dilemma with no proper solution for the etiquette of the day. The train had been delayed, and while the young man had brought proper attire for the evening, he had no chance to change ahead of time. He arrived bedraggled in travel-stained clothing, was willing to convey his solemn regrets, and not join Mr. Rhodes or his other guests. (I don’t know why the young man wasn’t invited to go change, but that’s beside the point.) Before anyone knew it, Mr. Rhodes appeared dressed for dinner in a noticeably worn old blue suit, and warmly welcomed his guest to the table. Cecil may have been a stickler, but not at the expense of the feelings of others.

What struck Mayor Ronnie in the “blue suit” story is the need for all of us to return to a state of giving the benefit of the doubt, and to be civil, even when we disagree. All of us in this town have people with whom we don’t agree, either religiously, philosophically, or politically. We have different concepts of what we should approve and how we should spend public funds, run government, construct buildings, and provide services.

But, what kind of legacy are we handing down to the young people who will be running Athens- Limestone County before we can make, as my dad used to say, “two shakes of a lamb’s tail?” Did they see a good example coming from us as we grappled with the recent school vote, and find themselves being inspired to step up and take over when it’s their time, or did the Facebook fights make them want to run the other direction?

“Thankfully, there were 50 young people who voted, most of whom were college students,” he told me. And, I learned that in contrast to 2012, when only 20% of our citizens turned out to vote, this time 44% of our registered voters cast their ballot. As bumpy as it was, we both concluded that it was “democracy in action,” and indeed there was cause to hope. “We have got to get better at agreeing to disagree,” he said, “if for no other reason than public safety. We will all feel anger sometimes, and it has its place, but don’t we also need to get good at managing it?” I nodded, and we prayed, most specifically that we would all be willing, for the sake of unity in our town, to wear “an old blue suit.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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8-23-2015 1-08-31 PMThe full title of this section of Gen Vinnie Boles book is 4 Expectations Teams Have Of Leaders, and while the frame of reference is from a military standpoint, having a clear understanding of the team’s expectations in a family, church, town, school or business is one of the things that brings clarity, and causes leaders to improve their skills.

As Mayor Ronnie read to me, (without donning his Dr. Seuss hat, by the way,) I learned something new: statistically people who could be considered non-risk takers make two big mistakes a year, and people who could be considered risk takers also make two big mistakes a year. He also told me that General Colin Powell states that “leaders have to be comfortable making decisions with about 60% of the information.” That’s a sobering thought, especially when it comes to combat. Thankfully, in Athens we are not often in a situation where decisions have to be made that are life-or-death, but they are none the less important.

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“My charge is to do my best to get all the information to the City Council so they can make a good decision,” he said, and emphasized the fact that the books are open, especially important in an election season, and as the City “budget season” begins this fall.

So, what is General Boles referring to when he talks about the expectations of the team?

1.The team expects the establishment of structure
Sometimes structure and the processes generated by them need to be streamlined. One thing Mayor Ronnie wants to do when the new City Hall is finished is to make a “one stop shop” for people to get business licenses. He is hoping that they’ll be able to get it all taken care of in one location, and to essentially have someone present to guide them through the process from start to finish.
2. The team expects excellence when it comes to managing relationships
I told him that in my other business, Juice Plus+, we have a saying: “relationships are not something, they are everything.” He took off on that. “That’s really true,” he said. “That’s what it all comes down to, whether it’s home, church, community or job.”
3. The team expects a balance when it comes to risk taking
He has learned over the years that there will always be someone who is not pleased with the result of weighing risk versus playing it safe, and again, I was really struck by the “two mistakes a year” concept. He chuckled and said, “If it’s two a year for everybody, that’s good!”
4. The team expects a leader to make decisions

I don’t envy him at all in that department. Decisions to hire, fire, revamp, streamline, save money, spend money, speak up, say nothing, accidentally ruffle feathers or yank someone’s chain, it all goes with the territory. However, there is something that we as believers are commanded to do for our leaders, and that is pray for them.
So we did, as we always do, and then it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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