By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie came into the office dressed for the interview he was due to film for the promotional spot on our area’s sport fishing areas to be produced later this year by Fishing University. It has been amazing to see how quickly he has bounced back from his surgery, and he was focused on all the heartwarming things going on in Athens to celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year.”
The Mayor asked me, “Have you ever heard John Malone and the Athens High School Choir?” I nodded enthusiastically in the affirmative, and he was so excited that the choir was going to be singing at Athens State University. The Christmas Parade had been the previous Thursday, as had been the lighting of the tree as well as the new Courthouse lights. Brian Patterson, who is our Limestone County Revenue Commissioner, put together a float called “Alice In A Winter Wonderland.” It was so stunning that it won the best float award in both the Athens as well as Ardmore parades. The Lincoln-Bridgeforth Christmas event started by the late Jimmy Gill was due to be a great success, too, and Holly Hollman goes into more detail in her column on page………
Mayor Ronnie called Holly in to the office to tell us about what’s going on with the kids in the Mayor’s Youth Commission. They were in the middle of a project where they were split into two groups: one went to High Cotton Arts to paint on canvasses, and the rest went to the water treatment plant to learn about how a municipal water facility is run. But don’t worry, once they come back from Christmas break, the groups will switch. By the way, the stats are in: Athens has the 5th purest water in the entire state of Alabama!
The Youth Commission is an idea whose time has indeed come, and other cities in Alabama are looking to Athens to help them start their own group. The League of Municipalities Leadership Institute had just been held at Ross Bridge in Birmingham. Montevallo and Alabaster were present and are on board with their own Commissions, and Decatur has become very interested in starting one as well. Sippin’ Cider had been successful, and part of the reason was that there were six kids from our Commission helping to serve.
Our bi-centennial celebration preparations are moving along, and Councilman Frank Travis is heading up Poke Sallet, which will be a stage production that tells the story of our wonderful town. The County’s birthday is in February of 2018, and the City’s is in November.
Athens Fire Chief Brian Thornton came in to talk about the annual Shopping With A Firefighter event. Every year for the past 19 years, school counselors have given the Fire Department the names of families who could use a boost at Christmas time. They are then paired with a Firefighter who goes with them to shop. It is not at all uncommon for kids to want to use their “treat money” to buy groceries for their family or something special for a parent or sibling, and the event is greatly loved by all who participate.
Mayor Ronnie closed our time with the happy reminder that we ended up with a million dollars more in revenue than expenses, and promised that we would go into more detail next time we get together. Then, even though he was a bit hoarse, he broke into his own rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year,” and Holly and I said, “Give it up, Mr. Mayor,” which he has apparently been told before. He came back with, “We about to bust into a great new year!” Then we prayed, and it was time for the last time in 2017 for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner