Given all the swirling sounds of discord and fear in our culture currently, Mayor Ronnie was pretty strong on two themes: giving thanks and coming together in whatever way is responsible. We talked about the true need for contact, for touch, for gatherings, celebrations, community, holidays, and games. He said, “Because of that, we decided to move forward with the plans to have such things as the Christmas Open House, “ice” skating on the Square, the Christmas parade, and all the other things that go with the season. That being said, please tell the people of Athens to be responsible at the parade and the Christmas Open House. We have to come together, and at the same time we don’t want one more person to get sick from this thing. Communication and the need to be in touch are real, and we have to make that happen, or we can get sick from loneliness and isolation. We need to focus on being thankful and praise God for what we have and where we are…even in the middle of all of this.”
We moved on to discussing the “blank-if-you-do-and-blank-if-you-don’t” dilemma with regard to the economy and how to conduct business while being responsible in the face of a disease that defies epidemiological expectations. “You can’t shut down the economy, or there won’t be anything to come back to once COVID is gone. On the other hand, you have to do the things that will stop it from spreading, whatever will actually work,” he said.
For many years, Athens has been involved in battling various kinds of cancer, and the month of November focuses on lung and pancreatic cancer. City Hall issued a proclamation regarding it, and Mayor Ronnie was sobered by recent deaths in his own neighborhood, and beating cancer has always been one of his dreams.
On a positive note, there are currently six applicants being considered for the available Fire Chief position, including Interim Chief, James Hand. “It is wonderful to have outstanding candidates seeking this position, and we will make a decision soon,” said the mayor. Along the same lines, Bill Vaughan, who ran the utilities office down on Jefferson, recently retired, and Regina Reager has been the interim Customer Accounts Manager. City Council will be interviewing candidates for that position as well, and will soon make their choice.
Monday was the 40th anniversary of the Recycling Center, and they decided to throw a Customer Appreciation Day party. That was going to be his next stop after we were finished, and we decided to meet next time at the North Pole Stroll for the first edition of December.
We always pray, and both of us expressed a great deal of concern for the state of our country. “I honestly don’t have any answers,” he said, and we know from Scripture that as tough of a place as that is to be for any leader -- city, state, or nation -- asking for wisdom from a place of humility is actually an act of strength. So, we prayed fervently, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner