Last night, Dec. 10, the city council once again took up the topic of the Cain Center. Naturally, there is a lot of frustration and emotion being shared today, as well as confusion over what was decided, who voted how, and why. I’d like to bring some clarity to this complex topic.
1) I want the Cain Center up and running again. I wasn’t on the council when the city started this journey, but I am now, and my vote has consistently reflected a desire to see the doors open again, sooner rather than later.
2) There is no one on the council who wouldn’t like to see the Cain Center operating again — as long as it does not come at too great a cost to the residents of Athens who bear the tax burden. There is no one on the council who hasn’t sat through hours and hours of meetings to discuss this issue with staff and with one other. Therefore, even when some of my fellow council members vote in a way that may be labeled “anti-Cain Center,” it’s important to know he is doing so because he truly believes it is in the best interest of the citizens, not because he doesn’t care or doesn’t listen. In fact, I can say with certainty that every member of the council is deeply invested in doing what is right in this matter. We simply do not all share the same opinion on how to best move forward. This happens in a representative democracy.
The Athens City Council is facing tough decisions during a very tight budget year, according to officials.
There are a number of reasons the City finds itself in this place, but I have written about Athens city government off and on for more than 20 years and I believe there is one overriding issue. Our leaders and our citizens have never agreed on where we are going. There is no unifying vision on any level.
Tuesday morning opened with the Athens Chamber of Commerce hosting the 55th annual Farm and Ranch tour. At noon, Athens ISD held a ribbon cutting to celebrate a radical overhaul of the district’s schools. The day ended with the City of Athens holding an open house at the new Texan Theater.
Like any year, 2017 had its ups and downs, its celebrations and its tragedies.
In the past, I would spend the last week of December sorting the top stories according to the ones I thought were the most important. This year, however, I will leave that for others. Instead, here in no particular order are five things I think I think as we head into 2018.
People Still Care (Part I)
It is fashionable to think that charitable giving is a dying art, but people are still willing to give when there is a focal point to rally around.
In 2017, those rallying points came in the form of a hurricane in Houston and a tornado in Canton. Henderson County mobilized people and supplies to aid in both calamities.
And it isn’t just the big tragedies. Kevin Lilly’s McDonald’s — with a little help from Henderson County Now — raised thousands for this year’s Toys for Tots campaign. But it took someone standing in the drive-thru in the cold asking each passing car to get those donations.
There is something to be said for knowing when to leave.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) has been Henderson County’s Congressman since 2003, but his time as our representative in Washington is coming to an end. Tuesday, he announced he would not run for re-election in 2018.
In a statement on Facebook, Hensarling noted a desire to spend time with his family and wrote, “Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned.”