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Athens ‘lives her story’ in mayor’s State of the City address

ATHENS — Books can be a collection of stories and stories can be made up of chapters.
For the city of Athens, there are many chapters to its story and Mayor Ronnie Marks highlighted them in his annual State of the City address.
The theme was “Athens – Living Her Story” and Marks read a story of success in Wednesday’s event presented by the Athens-Limestone Chamber of Commerce at Athens State University.
Marks said the residents live their city’s story through:
  • Serving
  • Funding
  • Connections
  • Planning
  • Growing
  • Engagement
Athens High students Chloe Malone, left, and Avery Paysinger are members of the Mayor’s Youth Commission. (City of Athens contributed)

The mayor and his staff highlighted various partnerships, planning efforts and youth engagement as making up the city’s story.

A couple examples cited include a federal grant Athens received to update its transportation plan and that the city is working with TVA on the pilot program Connected Communities to address community needs.
For its youth, Athens offers the Mayor’s Youth Commission program for high school students to learn about local government’s role and their role to be engaged and informed citizens.
Two Athens High students had key roles in the State of the City address. Avery Paysinger, introduced Marks and spoke about her experiences on the Youth Commission and the importance of involving youth in living the city’s story. Chloe Malone closed out the program with her thoughts on what she loves about Athens and how the residents can work together to enhance the city.
Marks touted the city’s development through proposed retail projects and supporting local businesses, which are key to the Athens economy and the city services.
There are projects being discussed along U.S. 72, U.S. 31, around Tanner Crossroads where a new hospital complex may open in the future, around Buc-ee’s and on the west side of Athens, he said.
“More than 40% of our city revenue comes from sales tax,” Marks said. “Shopping locally supports firefighters, police, garbage trucks, parks and other city services.”
He stressed the importance of shopping options from “mom and pop” businesses, such as those in downtown Athens, to the chain stores such as TJ Maxx that will open this spring.
“We all have a stories to live, and all of our stories matter,” Marks said.

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