Councilwoman floats idea for library at the Cain Center

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

The Athens City Council approved the budget and direction for the Cain Center rehabilitation project last Friday, but also set aside 30 days to explore a brand new idea for the center.

Athens council makes decision on Cain Center project

Councilwoman Toni Garrard Clay said, “This is going to be something out of the blue for a lot of people.”

She then went on to “float the idea … of the top floor of the Cain Center becoming a modern, vibrant library.”

Clay chairs the Henderson County Library Advisory Board and said the Public Library Fund (a fundraising arm for the library) has been exploring a new home for the Henderson County Clint W. Murchison Memorial Library.

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Athens council makes decision on Cain Center project

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN
The Cain Center project has a budget.

After 2.5 hours of discussion and brainstorming Friday afternoon, the Athens City Council set a direction for the Cain Center.

The council unanimously voted to spend $5.8 million to go with a $2.5 million gift from the Cain Foundation to put the project budget at $8.3 million.

That budget allowed the council to put an additional $2.9 million toward water and/or wastewater projects.

The decision moves the project forward and allows the design team to get back to work.

With this budget, the design of the Cain Center very similar to its past, but with an updated, multipurpose pool and a new exercise area.

But that design could still change, although the budget would not.

Councilwoman Toni Garrard Clay floated the idea putting the Henderson County Clint W. Murchison Library on the upper floor of the Cain Center. The idea got a positive reception, but it was pointed out that there were complicating factors before it could become reality.

The council decided to take the next 30 days to explore if the library idea is feasible.

City of Athens collection station to close

Press release

At their Monday, January 8, 2018, meeting, the Athens City Council voted to close the city’s collection station. This decision was made in concern of the cost to maintain and operate the facility, the regulatory liability that comes with maintaining the facility, and the recognition that there are other facilities within the county that can provide the same service to residents.

City staff is currently evaluating the steps it will take to close the facility.

“We want to ensure that the closing of the facility is done in a manner that ensures Athens residents are well aware of the change,” said Managing Director of Public Services Ryan Adams. “Our priority will be to ensure all residents are aware of their options for properly disposing of their garbage, brush and bulky items.”

Until a closing date is set and communicated, the facility will remain open according to its regular schedule. Residents with any questions are encouraged to call City Hall at 903-675-5131 or email

National debate topic originated with AHS educator

Nicole Cornish

Toni Garrard Clay/AISD Communication Coordinator

This past November, Athens ISD announced that Nicole Cornish, the district’s dean of early college high school, was on the cusp of making a major mark on the national debate stage. Cornish put forth a monumental effort submitting for consideration a potential policy debate topic for high school students across the United States.

Athens High School is thrilled to report the National Federation of State High School Associations announced Wednesday that Cornish’s proposal — immigration — has been selected as the 2018-2019 policy debate topic throughout the United States.

“I am very honored,” said Cornish. “It has been a dream for my career to author a debate topic, and I am ecstatic that I reached it. I’m also very grateful to work for a district that is always supportive and made it possible for me to attend the national topic selection meeting.”

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Cain Center project to move forward; council meeting set to discuss funding

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

We learned this week the Cain Center rehabilitation project will continue, but there is still debate among Athens City Council members about how much to spend.

The council discussed the issue during its regular meeting Monday night, which saw a standing-room-only audience and nearly an hour of citizen comments, almost all of which were in support of moving forward with the Cain Center.

The turnout was fueled by a split in the council last month when Mayor Monte Montgomery and Councilwoman Toni Garrard Clay wanted to continue forward with the project, while Councilmen Ed McCain and Robert Gross argued to stop work and send the question to voters in the form of a bond election.

The confusion stalled the project.

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