By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

We have a sister city, her name is Stonehaven, and she is in Scotland. When the City of Athens celebrated its 200th anniversary back in November, the citizens of Stonehaven celebrated with us via Skype. Recently, some of the citizens of Stonehaven came to visit us, and soon Mayor Ronnie is going to be returning the favor by visiting them personally. He is also going to be “livin’ the dream” of any serious golfer. Soon he will be able to play at St. Andrews golf course, the birthplace of the game.

Mayor Ronnie showed me an antique spoon he had been given bearing the name of Stonehaven, and told me about a member of the visiting Stonehaven team who literally described his job for the Scottish city as being that of the “blatherer.” The folks from Stonehaven wore their kilts, were treated to southern hospitality, and were given the chance to go to the Space & Rocket Center.

In spite of the excitement of the upcoming the trip, for a couple of weeks, the mayor had been thinking about the importance of humility and how it’s tied to decision making. Commencement ceremonies occurred all over the county, and graduating seniors were having to face important decisions that would affect the rest of their lives. “Everything depends on decisions, whether they are good or bad,” he said, and added, “And not making a decision is a decision.”

The mayor told me about the ongoing growth spurt we are experiencing, and it’s actually all the way up to 19.6%, which is hard to get your head around. “Our biggest success is our biggest challenge,” Mayor Ronnie said, and we talked about the Paul Newman/ Robert Redford movie, The Sting. If you are not familiar with the story, Newman and Redford play the part of two men who devise an elaborate scheme to swindle a crime boss who had murdered their friend. Unexpectedly, the film has a number of philosophical and transparent moments, and one of them has become somewhat iconic. Redford says to Newman, “He’s not as tough as he thinks.” Newman replies, “Neither are we.”

The mayor’s point in bringing up The Sting was not that we should turn to a stacked card game to avenge wrongs in our city or raise funds for Athens, it was all about the issue of pride, the thing he had been thinking about so much. “In the first place, leadership is not a sprint, and it’s not a marathon,” he said. “It’s a relay, and we have to hand off the city in a way that is better than the way we received it,” he added. He went on. “We can enjoy the growth, and we should, but let’s not get too wrapped up in how special we are,” he said. “I hope that all of us, especially politicians and legislators remember that we are here to serve,” said Mayor Ronnie. “To whom much is given, much is required,” I added, and he agreed.

Then it was time to pray, which we did, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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