What Makes Ronnie Roll: This Is Small Town America

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Mayor Ronnie had an early morning breakfast meeting with AL State Senator Sam Givhan, and arrived for our Monday appointment thoroughly encouraged and energized. We quickly moved to the topic of what a wonderful weekend we as Athenians had experienced, and with a full heart Mayor Ronnie said, “This is small town America.” That said it all, so the rest of this Ronnie is going to be spent illustrating his point.

We both celebrated the fact that close to 700 people attended Singing On The Square with music being provided by “hometown-boy-made-good” Matt Prater. “It felt so good to get back to being normal” was our consensus. Food trucks were there with things as diverse as hot dogs and sushi being sold from the same venue, and the food trucks sold out. “People stood in line everywhere for the food truck and the restaurants,” said the mayor. And, we agreed that no one seemed to mind. We talked about the simple pleasure of watching kids roll down the slight slope of the courthouse lawn. “The County had the chains that had lined the edge removed, and now the kids can have more fun,” said Mayor Ronnie. There was a half-century Athens High School reunion held just off the Square, and folks strolled about and frequented shops that had stayed open for the Main Street Friday After Five event.

We also talked about the fact that while public safety is always going to be the most important priority for a mayor or anyone who has responsibility to watch over a city, it is also quality of life that ranks right up there as well. You can keep a city super-safe, but if the quality of life is low, safety won’t be the end all and be all. “We need both,” said the mayor.

The next thing on the agenda was the grand opening of the Veterans Museum complete with the visit of Governor Kay Ivey. A crew had worked for months to move the contents from the old museum across to the remodeled Limestone County Event Center, getting them cleaned, restored, reframed, and rearranged. The City of Athens was able to present a check for $100,000 to the museum. “We were able to do it, the timing was everything, and I was glad that the council decided to go with this now,” said the mayor. He then added, “The museum board had a long-term vision and pushed forward with their hopes. The result is amazing.” “It really is,” I replied.

On Saturday, Mayor Ronnie and his grandson Quinton went to the Field Day event held in Swan Creek sponsored by the Amateur Radio Operators. Quinton didn’t know much about how ham operators work, and at the beginning wasn’t very interested. “But it didn’t take long before he was learning call signs and people were gathering around to watch,” said the mayor. Quinton spoke with an operator in North Florida and South Texas. “Whiskey Zulu Oscar 4 5 Alpha Alabama,” he said, and he got a response. Apparently the kid is a natural, and Quinton has found a new hobby. We thanked God for our wonderful town and all the good that is going on, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner