It was a “pedal-to-the-metal” Monday morning, and there was much to discuss. The most obvious was the odd sight of stop signs covered in plastic set in the bulb-outs near the Courthouse. The mayor got right to it: “We have street lights that are so old that we can’t get parts for them, and it’s going to cost $161,000 each to replace them,” he said. If we had had time to joke as we often do, I would have asked him, “So the solution is stop signs?” But, I didn’t, as I knew a reasonable answer would be soon forthcoming.
Mayor Ronnie and Holly Hollman proceeded to tell me about our TAP grant, which stands for Transportation Alternative Program, and is designed to address a number of traffic-related needs, including accessible sidewalks. The mayor was quick to point out that some parts of the curbs in the bulb-outs were going to need to be redone due to the angle of the accessible slope being just enough off that it can damage a tire. However, now the entire set of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance issues are going to be completely taken care of while the courthouse square gets even more beautiful. The new overhead traffic lights will be the last phase of the project, and the old-style stop signs are only temporary.
The sidewalk renovations are going to make it possible for anyone in a wheelchair to be able to get into the Courthouse. As part of the project, upgraded electrical cable will be laid to accommodate the new overhead lights as well as the new “Acorn” street lamps which will line the Square. They will be consistent with the lamps and flower baskets that circle the Courthouse proper, and will beautify the town. “We have three things we are trying to accomplish here,” said the Mayor. “We have to become ADA compliant, we are trying to prepare well for traffic growth in the future, and in the process the town will be beautified,” he added.
We moved on to all the cool things that are going on in the hot summer in our city. The Arts League, in cooperation with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra sponsored a violin camp that went on the week of June 25th. Violinist Claire Grisham ran the camp, and taught the kids everything from how to bow (pronounced bo) and finger, how to score music, and Italian musical terms such as “andante,” “presto,” and “largo.” They showed me the videos taken of the kids, and I was impressed. On Thursday, the 28th of June, High Cotton Arts also sponsored a free street concert with “chick-duo” Roses and Cigarettes, who happened to arrive in their car while the camp was still in session. One little miss who Holly described with a smile as “sassy” insisted that R&C get out their guitar and play for the campers. So, they did, to the delight of all. The same little gal played her original composition that she had written earlier in the week. “The Roses & Cigarettes concert was a big hit,” Holly said, and the band members have essentially adopted Athens as their new town. They are both from Los Angeles, now living in Nashville, and suffice it to say they found Athens welcoming and “cool” in the middle of a hot summer.
We talked about the Kiddie Karnival being around for more than 60 years, and how AHS Football Coach Cody Gross makes it a requirement of being on the team for his players to volunteer; they help out with the kids and gain fans for the fall season in the process. City Councilman Frank Travis had directed an NAACP-sponsored night of entertainment through the ACT-SO organization, whose tagline is “Leaders for Tomorrow and Beyond.” Oh, the music and the laughs! I expect some of these kids to become household names. The City of Athens also acknowledged some of the most important people on our “town team,” the Garbage Men. While that may not be PC, National Garbage Man Day happened not all over America, but all over the globe! For our city’s part, the city admin team cooked breakfast for our guys that keep things tidy and healthy. We are grateful!!
We finished up with celebrating the fact that country singer Darryl Worley came down to the Dealers’ Auto Auction with signed guitars that were auctioned off for the Make A Wish Foundation, and talked about how well-known musicians are getting excited about the Scout House getting finished. Who knows what greatness will come out of it? Then it was time for a quick prayer along the lines of “Lord, help the boy,” and Ronnie had to roll. It is indeed a grand summer in the city.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner