Veteran praise and worship songwriter Chris Tomlin wrote a fitting song to end the Ronnie series taken from The Seamless City, by Rick Baker. In the last chapter, the former St. Petersburg, FL Mayor quotes part of the chorus to Tomlin’s song God Of This City: “Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city…”
We spend a great deal of time, and rightly so, talking about all the good things about Athens and living here. However, we live in a fallen world, and, as Mayor Ronnie says, “There are small pockets of places in Athens where public safety needs to be improved.” Recently Sweet Home Church sponsored a public forum where city officials and law enforcement department heads spoke about their commitment to protect the people of Athens. What made this particular meeting interesting is that Pastor Mosley of Sweet Home is himself a retired law enforcement officer.
With the recent use of deadly force in Huntsville, and other incidents which have resulted in civil unrest elsewhere in America, our city officials felt it necessary to get a pulse on people’s perceptions of law enforcement in Athens, and how they function in confrontation.
Mayor Ronnie expressed deep appreciation to Pastor Mosley, as well as to the congregation, for inviting them, and there was solid two away communication with the leaders and the attendees. It has been decided that in the spring, the City Council and law enforcement are going to have more community meetings all over Athens for the same purpose.
One of the things discussed at the Sweet Home meeting was the problem of abandoned houses. Besides the obvious problem of being an eyesore, abandoned houses are a magnet for drug deals, vandalism, and worse. “We are talking about something far more important than grass grown up 4 feet high,” he told me.
He talked about Mayor Baker’s treatment in Seamless City of the need to think and act long term. Baker also discusses the need to build the city as a team, both from the standpoint of those who work for the city as well as those who live in it. For employees of the City of Athens, having a good person in Human Relations is certainly crucial for fulfilling the mission. After a careful search, that position has been filled by Marsha Sloss. Monday was her first day, and during our interview she was being taken around City Hall to be introduced to the employees. Mayor Ronnie introduced us, and I think she will be a great fit for the Athens employees, as well as quite an asset for our city.
To close, Mayor Ronnie grabbed his lovingly abused copy of Seamless City and underlined the following, which is the last statement of the last chapter. He said, “Look at this, Ali, this says it all.” “If, someday, all children in our cities can grow up in neighborhoods that are vibrant, safe, and clean, then we will be on our way. When all children share in the pride and success of the entire community, and believe that they have a shot achieving the American dream, then our cities will be seamless, and the greatest nation in the history of mankind will be assured of having an even greater future!” Then we prayed, asking largely that we may receive largely for the city and our families, and that is what makes Ronnie roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner