For several years, we have done a “look-back-look-ahead” Ronnie for the first edition of the New Year, and that was what was originally planned. However, while there were several things about which to celebrate having happened in 2019, as well as those to be excited about in 2020, Mayor Marks’ “vibe” was a bit more introspective, and not attached to a time stamp. Adam Smith of the Athens News Courier had just published a piece about Mayor Ronnie in their publication, Limestone Life, and he had done an excellent job capturing the essence of the mayor’s soul—the challenges and triumphs being faced down by our 75-year-old “elected shepherd” of this great town.
Most famous for having the energy of a man many years his junior, Mayor Ronnie had prayerfully considered running again for election, and with his family’s blessing has decided to do so. He has a few months before election season is in full swing, with all the not-so-fun side of politics waiting for him in the wings. So, he was wishing to use this time to prepare well for what’s ahead while keeping a careful watch over the city as we go through this unprecedented growth spurt.
“You’ve got to set aside time to breathe,” said the mayor. “You can’t wait until you get the ‘knock on the door’ to ‘go vertical.’” What he meant by that is that these are extraordinarily trying times, and your vertical relationship needs to be vibrant before you get difficult news, a life-altering diagnosis, or experience a financial reversal. He then put it another way: “Call a timeout.”
“Timeouts” are not just being sent to the corner when you have misbehaved as a child or a last-second strategy session in a championship game; they are planned periods of rest and a change of pace that appear in every culture and belief system. Famed personal development figure Stephen Covey used the term “sharpening your saw” to indicate the need to carefully hone the edges of your blade before you go back to felling a tree. Such activity is not a luxury; it is a necessity if a person is going to be effective. “All the new industry is important,” said the mayor, and then asked, “But what have we done to take care of ourselves and each other?” He had been out and about in town, and had observed people who had never been to Athens before falling in love with our town. They were shopping, which was nice, but that isn’t what “makes Athens Athens.” “We have such a high level of energy in our town. We have so many opportunities for people to serve; Full Tummy Project, RSVP, Limestone County Churches Involved, Rotary Club -- we have to make sure we never take these things for granted.”
2020 is going to be one of change -- the new Rec center is due to open, Toyota-Mazda is coming along, Pilgrim’s Pride is poised for its next phase, but what was apparent was that the mayor is fully aware that “going vertical” is the only thing that will make Bythings work well. So, we prayed, asked for a ton of wisdom, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner