Archived Story

A step in the right direction

Published 7:45pm Friday, July 25, 2014

I think the Sun Festival is a step in the right direction – a big step.
Not because I’m a big fan of dog parades. (Last year my dog Snoopy got stage fright when he stepped onto the stage, assumed the wide stance reserved for rolling boat decks and looked at me the same way he does when the vet takes his leash from my hand and walks him from the waiting room through that door where scary things happen.)  We chose not to participate this year.
And it’s not because I’m the best on the dance floor – though on Motown night I did manage to dance a bit like Hitch suggested, simple side-to-side steps, elbows bent, fingers snapping “This is where you live. This is home.” When Mabry Cook led 50 people on the Electric Slide, the only step I did was from the dance floor to the grass.
And it’s certainly not because I am good at deciphering those Pie in the Sky treasure hunt clues. When I read those clues, the only thing I find is confirmation that I am completely clueless at scavenger hunts.
The reason I think the Chamber’s Sun Festival is a big step in the right direction is that it fills a need for local entertainment that brings people together, builds commerce, gives folks a reason to stay in town on the weekends and encourages people to experience and enjoy our wonderful hometown.
After the Motown dance, I heard myself tell Mary Lyman, “I wish we had dances in the park every week. After hiking to the top of Smith Mountain’s Fire Tower, I told her, “I could do this every day.” The Friday night band battle – downtown concerts like the Jazz Fest – I can’t get enough of ‘em.
It makes our town vibrant, engages its residents, creates passion when people speak about our hometown. That’s how you build a town.
The Sun Festival is just one of many new reasons I am feeling better and better about Alexander City.
Aprinta’s recent announcement that it would be building a new business on the old Russell campus, using our residents – as many as 500 of them – to decorate textiles, is a terrific plus for our community.
We should do everything in our power to welcome them, help them breeze through the paperwork and infrastructure issues that any new business faces and help them be successful in their new venture.
More new business announcements will come as time passes. Alexander City will continue to grow.
Although it’s not a done deal, I am confident that FERC will allow Alabama Power Co. to raise the winter water level on Lake Martin by three feet, increasing the value and the usability and the desirability of lake houses. And I think that meeting where 600 people showed up to express their support is why change is coming. Our community took action where many communities would have stayed home.
But even if FERC chooses to leave the water level swing at 10 feet from winter to summer pools, Lake Martin is booming again. Houses are being built. Lots and houses are selling. Boats are selling. More people are coming here, and they will need restaurants and gasoline and groceries … and they may need cars and building supplies and other big-ticket items, too.
I’ve heard some people express frustration at the many different efforts to improve our community. The fact is, if recovering from Russell Corp.’s massive downsizing was easy, we would have done it already. It’s not easy. Many cities never recover from a loss like we experienced.
But we are. It’s a slow process: one new 5K run, one new concert, one new farmer’s market event, one new lake house, one new business at a time. Slowly we are building commerce and enthusiasm and giving more and more people a reason to stay here, or move here. We are taking steps in the right direction.
Boone is publisher of The Outlook.