Mayor Ronnie had come off of a busy weekend, with the announcement that Polaris was going to build a fabricating facility on 464 acres off of I-565, and with the potential of providing approximately 2,000 jobs for folks in our area. Polaris is investing 142 million dollars in the project, and it is a prospect that in every regard can be considered positive. “The Tennessee Valley is hot as a firecracker,” said Mayor Ronnie, who is thankfully always revisiting the themes and responsibilities that make life in our region solid. “Number one is public safety, for obvious reasons, and after that, it’s jobs, because you have to be able to put food on the table,” he said. We always talk about the rest of it, education, quality of life, and how to improve government, and today was no exception.
He explained yet another complicated ongoing fiscal dance between Athens and Huntsville, and once again I was thankful for his patience as well as skill in explaining financial stuff that is beyond me while somehow making it understandable.
As always, he talked about his responsibilities as a leader, something he takes very seriously. “Really, he said, “this is some of the best advice I’ve seen in a long time.” I hurried to jot it down. It was simple and powerful. “Live passionately, love completely, learn humbly, and lead boldly.”
He had heard a new series at church regarding the need to have a “bucket list,” the things you decide you must do before you “kick the bucket.” This can be anything from going to Europe to cleaning out your garage, but he moved on to a Bucket List for the City of Athens, not that we are going to “kick the bucket anytime soon and certainly not on his watch, but here is what is on his list:
• Build electrical substations- If we grow the way it’s been forecast, we will need at least three
• Improve government- an ongoing and never ending endeavor, one to which he’s deeply committed.
• Improving infrastructure-roads, streets, sidewalks, sewers. All of it messy, but worth the effort.
• Community projects-a new example being a grassroots movement to show support for our first responders
An example of a new community project is entitled “Together We Stand,” unveiled this past week by Jerry Barksdale at a well attended meeting held at the Vets’ Museum. The purpose of the project is to show support for all of those who put themselves in harm’s way for us. In view of the recent murders of policemen while they were eating, the first attack in Las Vegas in June, the second in New York in December, Jerry felt it was time to do something to show that we won’t stand for it. While there are a number of ideas as to some of the ways we can show support for all our public safety personnel, the two ideas that seemed to gather the most steam were having a dinner this spring that would be to honor our first responders, and to start a scholarship fund for the children of the fallen.
The meeting came to a close, he spent a few minutes talking with those who had attended, and then he said with a smile, “I’m off to go practice for Poke Sallett.” And that, my fellow Athenians, is how Ronnie rolls.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner