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