Ronnie MarksIt’s awards season, and any fan of the Alabama Shakes recently got to see Britney Howard singing onstage at the Grammys. And speaking of awards, Clements High senior Kelly Baker recently signed with Shelton State, her dream of getting a college degree and playing softball having officially been put to ink on paper. Athens High senior Grace Morgan is going to be a UAH Charger playing soccer, another proof of hard work, both through study and practice. “Callie says she put in between ten and thirteen thousand hours of practice to get where she is, and that doesn’t include the long hours of study it takes to win a scholarship. Someone said that Britney’s voice at one time was only kind of average,” said Mayor Ronnie. “They all got where they got to through hours of practice, and hours of planning,” he added. “That’s what we all have to do.” The Leader in Me As always, we talk about what he learned over the weekend, and what stuck out in the sermon, so he does not take credit for the following, but this comes from his notes: “Dig a ditch. You are the one who determines whether it is just a hole that someone can fall in, or if you are making a place for water to flow.” And, he added, “You want good to be better, great to be greater, and dig ditches to get there.” We then talked about the fact that the chances of “getting there” in this life are slim, “but we have to shoot for perfect as much as possible,” he said. One of the ways Athens is “getting there” is through the Southeast Regional Leader In Me symposium recently held at Athens State University’s Carter Gym. Last year there were around 300 attendees, this year, close to 600, and the goal for next year is 1,000. They may even need a tent! The Leader In Me seminars are designed to help teachers help kids to develop their leadership skills, which always translate over to improving their academic skills, both of which are so important if our kids are going to become our leaders and be good at it. Congratulations are in order for ASU President Dr. Glenn and Charlotte Feighly, who worked so hard to bring the symposium to ASU. “A couple of years ago, Charlotte said to me, ‘Mayor, great things are going to happen!’” Having seen The Leader In Me skills in action, I can say she is right. The late Dr. Steven Covey, who wrote the book upon which the symposium is based, said about the skills being taught to the students that this is “how schools and parents around the world are inspiring greatness, one child at a time.” This year’s keynote speaker was Ron Clark, the Carolina teacher who went to New York and turned the lives of his students upside down for the good. Mr. Clark’s character was played by Matthew Perry in a 2006 movie entitled “The Ron Clark Story,” and the film was nominated for several awards. The kids were told, “Hey, kids, you want to know the WiFi password of the day? Good. Clean your room, and do your chores.” Good advice, and not just for kids. On to “city biz.” The City Hall building is on track for construction to start as soon as the weather is dry enough to pour the foundation. “It is a 2.2 million dollar project with a 10 percent contingency, and is supposed to take 20 months to complete,” he said. “The hotel and International House of Pancakes are opening this spring. There is going to be a new Dairy Queen built near Chick-fil-A on Hwy 72, and the new branch of First National Bank on Jefferson is coming right along.” Athens has also been the recipient of ATRIP funding, which is one of the “great opportunities to meet infrastructure needs,” and all in all, Mayor Marks said with confidence, “There are a lot of good vibes going on in the community.” Making sure good vibes increase from and for Athens, i.e.,” good getting gooder,” these are some of the many things that make Ronnie roll. By: Alie Elizabeth Turner

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