What Makes Ronnie Roll: “Falling” In Love With Athens

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

I have often said that I just may love Athens more than people who were born and raised here. If you have never been anywhere else, you have nothing with which to compare it, and trust me, our town rocks! Several people this week, including Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pammie Jimmar and people in our Limestone Leaders BNI group, all commented on just how special our town is, and so it was no surprise to walk into City Hall to see Mayor Ronnie standing in the hallway greeting people as they arrived and finding ways to make them laugh. I would imagine that is not SOP for most places.

“We have just come off of Fiddlers’ and Storytelling, and Christmas Open House is coming up,” said the mayor. He then added, “We had a great weekend. Look at these.” He showed me pictures taken from a unique project that had involved the Mayor’s Youth Commission and the old cemetery on West Hobbs. This year’s group of students from several high schools numbers 46, and they agree to do several service projects each year. On Saturday, October 29, the kids cleaned the headstones of veterans who are buried there. They were joined by Boy Scouts, adults and other people from the community, and all in all there were 70 people joining together to honor the fallen in a most practical way. “It’s a wonderful thing that so many people were involved,” he said.

Mayor Ronnie went on to talk about the ribbon cutting for the brand new fitness park located at the Sportsplex on 31 that was held on October 28. “Blue Cross/Blue Shield and we partnered together to make a beautiful outdoor facility, and we had a firefighter, a football coach, two police officers, and a high school band director all competing for the best time in completing the course,” he said. “And,” he added, “there were cheerleaders, the Athens High School Band, and people from all over gathered to cheer them on.” He went on to tell me about a “litty-bitty” cheerleader (one of those ones that is at the top of the pyramid) who just stood there and did a vertical jump to land on a box in the fitness course that “had to have been about as tall as she was…four feet tall,” he said with a laugh. “Then, I asked her to do it again, and she did like it was nothing!” he said.

It would not be fall in Alabama if there were not at least one awesome second-half high school or college football comeback from way behind, and this time it was Athens High School beating Russellville by one point with eight seconds to go. The score was 32-31, and Russellville was soundly roughed up. “City Councilman Chris Seibert has turned into one great football broadcaster,” said the mayor. It was just one of those times when all was well, even when all was not well. We talked about the Veterans Parade and more, and I asked him, “Should we call this Falling In Love With Athens?” “Yes!” he said. So, it was getting to be that time, and as always, we prayed. Then, like he always does, Ronnie rolled.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner