Archived Story

Cooperation, enthusiasm abound at SunFest

Published 10:40am Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I feel better about the future of the Lake Martin community that I have in years.
It seems like something’s clicked, like gears that were somehow out of line are now meshing and pulling together toward a common goal.
I see enthusiasm, hard work and a spirit of cooperation blossoming and frankly, it gives me great hope. This week’s SunFest has been a great success. It’s involved thousands of people, creating new excitement while showcasing our community and our community spirit. I believe it will grow substantially next year, and I think our new Chamber Chairman Ann Rye has played a big role in first developing the SunFest concept and second promoting it like there’s no tomorrow.
Many, many people have joined in to make SunFest a success. And it’s working despite some very challenging weather. Speaking of that, I will be at the Sportplex tonight for the Jo Dee Messina SunFest concert and fireworks show, rain or shine. I hope to see you there, too, even if it’s under an umbrella.
I’ve seen lots good things happening all around the Lake Martin community governments, with major efforts from our government officials like Alexander City Mayor Charles Shaw and Rep. Mark Tuggle and Sen. Tom Whatley and our Tallapoosa County commissioners and the Alexander City and Dadeville Chambers of Commerce working together for the common good of the Lake region.
Last week we presented a united front to the FERC officials who came to hear what the public thinks about Alabama Power Co.’s plan to raise the water levels in Lake Martin during the winter and extend the summer high pool levels in the fall.
Earlier this week, when Gov. Robert Bentley paid a visit to Alexander City, I heard time and again, from many different people, that we’re all working together to improve our community. The governor even commented on how rare that is and tipped his hat our way.
Yesterday at Queen’s Attic, the Lake Martin Area Economic Development Alliance’s Renewal Committee made an “Accelerate Lake Martin” presentation to a large group of area residents, business people and leaders that made me want to stand up and cheer. Before I go any further, I need to say that I’m a member Renewal Committee. So I’m biased. But I don’t think that matters … if I had heard the information presented yesterday for the first time, I’d still want to stand up and cheer.
Committee Chairman Tom Lamberth said more than once that every one of us who live here is involved in economic development. Lamberth said that the EDA’s job is to attract new industry, but a much bigger piece of economic development is community development.
“It’s doing things, day in and day out, that makes our community a stronger community, a better place to live, a higher quality of life,” he said.
He’s exactly right.
I’m convinced there are two types of communities: those that float – that rise and sink with the waves that occur in the course of time – and those that pick out a point on the beach together and swim in unison through the storms and calm seas toward that destination. There’s no doubt that some floaters will wash up on the beach. But swimming together is much more likely to get everybody safely ashore.
The Accelerate Lake Martin effort is a community-wide effort to pick a spot and swim together.
Roger Holliday, another member of the Renewal Committee, narrated an excellent outline that has the potential to develop the Lake Martin Region and help us recover from the stormy seas created when Russell Corp. pulled out of our community.
I think it’s important to note that both Tom and Roger are Russell Lands managers and that the bulk of Friday’s presentation was focused on improving downtown Alexander City. For years I’ve heard naysayers say that the lake and the city have different interests, that one side is pulling against the other. That is just not true. The future of Alexander City and Dadeville and all the communities in our area are directly linked to the future of Lake Martin, and the future of Lake Martin is directly linked to the success of those cities that surround the lake. Helping one is helping the other, just like new business in Dadeville helps employ people in Alexander City. We’re all in this together.
Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
I think we’re seeing that right now, right here in the Lake region.
And it’s exciting to imagine what we can achieve together.
Boone is publisher of The Outlook.

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