The mayor and I met by phone on Wednesday, literally moments before Governor Ivey held her press conference regarding the recent state-wide mask order. Mayor Ronnie was at a conference of cities and electrical services, and while he has devoted much press in the past to thanking our utilities workers for all they do, especially in storms, he wanted to express his thanks again even though so far that day our area was seeing a very different weather picture than the rest of Alabama. “We heard about cities helping cities, and most recently Athens helped Chattanooga,” he said. He also added that he knows other cities are ready to help us if we need it. The conference was conducted as are all public gatherings these days -- everyone was sitting six feet apart, and everyone wore a mask.
We moved on to the topic of another “storm,” and that is everything that has to do with dealing well with COVID. Over the months, and with the many conversations we have had regarding dealing with something with which no one has ever had to contend, I have never heard the mayor more concerned for the safety and well-being of our city. That clearly goes beyond the physical, but into all aspects of our lives. “We have never needed the ‘healing of our land’ more,” he said, and added, “We need to pray like never before. People could so easily become angry and anxious, and we don’t need that.”
The mayor wanted to make sure that the people of Athens knew that there is a protocol in place for safety when it comes to utility workers and COVID. He also said, prayerfully, “I hope we don’t have serious storms during this time.” Recently, he made the utility/COVID protocol public at a town hall meeting which was open to the public and held on July 9. It can be seen in its entirety on the City of Athens YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuQdLNGelas.
As we wrapped up our time together, Mayor Ronnie expressed his heart for the people of Athens, and elsewhere, stating, “The heart of Athens is her people.” He said, “Stay wise and stay healthy. The City of Athens will do everything we can to keep us safe, provide services, and get us through this.”
I started pacing when it was time to pray, something I have done for the last near half-century when there was a need for powerful answers, and right now. The most important thing that could be asked for by us in agreement was wisdom beyond the wisdom of human age and experience; wisdom to protect the city in all of its facets, and wisdom to get through this time, which we will. Then, as always, it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner