By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie rolled in, greeting everyone on the way, full of enthusiasm about the Poke Sallet Follies which had been held the previous Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The Follies were by all accounts a big hit. City Councilman Frank Travis had taken on the role of director, and the theme for this year was “The Book of Athens,” with specially produced vignettes from the past 200 years of our city and county history.

“We have gotten so much positive feedback from people,” said the mayor. “Frank and his crew—the actors, the people who built props, did the sound and lighting, all the volunteers, everyone did a fantastic job,” he added. “There was a lot of live music this year. Usually Poke Sallet raises between $18,000 and $20,000 for the Council on Aging,” he said, and while he had not been told the amount of this year’s take, he expected it to be good. Since we have been doing a series on Steve Gilliam’s book, Enjoy The Ride, it was gratifying to know that because once again Athens had come together for a worthy cause, our town had a great chance to put “legs” to the title of the book as well as its theme, and create something both enjoyable as well as memorable for our whole area.

Since our last meeting two weeks ago, Mayor Marks and the finance team had been to New York City to face down the financial industry “powers that be” with respect to our bond rating as a city. “It went well, and because of everyone’s hard work, we have one of the highest ratings of any city in the state of Alabama,” he said. The result is that we now have approval for the $20 million dollar package that will serve to build the new Sportsplex facility, the new Parks and Rec building, and to build the Pilgrim’s Pride Park.

We moved on to the newest section of Enjoy The Ride, and Mayor Ronnie read me some of the things that had been speaking to him. As always, the end game with anything that he reads is to cultivate a cognitive lifestyle that is doggedly positive while being realistic, along with being solid with respect to biblical principles. Understanding the actual phenomenon of motivation, how it works, and when it is either misused or misapplied is most important. The kind of motivation that comes from the half-time pep talk or Sunday morning sermon is at best short-lived if people are not inspired to think then act in a way that fosters long-term habits. Gilliand says it this way:

“Most motivation is like a bowl of cereal—it just doesn’t last long, and you end up hungry in a few hours. As a speaker and author I firmly believe my primary purpose is to get a person thinking. When I can penetrate a person’s heart through their mind, I have found the ultimate source of their motivation. Motivation is an inside job that is determined by the individual person. The greatest thing you will ever learn is to use what you learn.”

We then talked about wanting to be the kind of people who could provide more than the motivational equivalent of empty-calorie cereal, and growing on to become self-motivated so that we could inspire ourselves as well as others when we need to. Once again Mayor Ronnie had a “fire” to put out, so he put on his “Smokey the Bear” hat; we prayed for wisdom, protection, and strength for the task; and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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