The City Heartbeat

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Mayor's Minute

Jimmy Gill Park

It was exciting to join our Public Works and Parks/Rec employees recently for a luncheon to celebrate the hard work that has gone into moving and rebuilding Jimmy Gill Park. The new location is on Hine Street south of U.S. 72. The new facility provides a larger shelter with a kitchen and bathrooms, playground areas, walking trail, basketball court, shade structures and an all-purpose field. Jimmy's Trinity Class of 1966 classmates met recently there as well to talk about the Trinity Bi-Annual Reunion. We all miss Jimmy, and this is a great way to honor his legacy!

Athens Activity Center

Another project I am thrilled to see underway is our Athens Activity Center on Pryor Street (most of you know it as the Athens Senior Center). The City is partnering with the Foundation on Aging, a non-profit group of volunteers, to provide various activities such as dancing, bingo and educational classes. Mayor's Office employee Amy Golden is going to help oversee operation and coordinate with the Foundation. The City Council approved our request for $25,000 to spruce up the entryway and office area with new paint, carpet and other renovations. I am eager to see seniors laughing, fellowshipping and learning together again at this location. We plan to open it up for events and activities the end of this month or early May.


Litter continues to upset me. We are advertising for a part-time litter patrol leader to oversee a crew, although at times, it has been difficult to obtain inmates to help with this program.

In addition, I ordered City of Athens volunteer vests for employees and members of the Youth Commission to wear when they want to give back to the community and help clean up an area. Our Youth Commission will debut these on April 20 at the group's monthly meeting. We are going to have lunch, and then the students and mentors are going out in the city to pick up litter.

This is not just a City of Athens or KALB issue. This is everyone's issue. We have to work together to educate, prevent and clean up.

Hope to see out at one of our parks, the activity center or cleaning up the town picking up litter! Until next time,

Mayor Marks

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Students to make financial investment in Athens by assisting non-profits

The City of Athens and Dekko Foundation are putting money into high school students’ hands and giving them the responsibility of investing it to enhance their community.

The students, who are members of the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission, are accepting community grant proposals from non-profit organizations with a program, project or event that will benefit Athens. The students plan to award grants ranging from $100 to up to $1,000.

Each year, the Youth Commission receives funding from various entities like Dekko Foundation to operate the community grant program. This year, Dekko Foundation supported the program with $1,300 from a grant and a $4,000 gift. Students will decide how much of the gift to allocate based on the proposals.

As part of the process, students set priorities and accept grant proposals from non-profits. The students, who are in grades 10-12, review and score the proposals and debate which ones should receive funding. Last year, for example, the Youth Commission funded several endeavors including hospital equipment, after-school tutoring, teen enrichment and the Merchants Alley renovation.

“These Youth Commissioners are passionate about the endeavors they want to support, and they will argue and defend their position and work toward a compromise so the group as a whole can make a decision,” Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “It’s really fun to watch their process, but more importantly, it’s reassuring to me to see their passion about Athens and what they believe will make us a vibrant community.”

The Youth Commission’s priorities this year are:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Recreation
  • Special events
  • Environmental
  • Small business
  • Arts
  • Helping people in need

“It means a lot that my community trusts its youth to appropriately distribute money,” said Youth Commissioner Claudia Henson. “Their faith in our maturity helps us as students give back to the city that raised us.”

In addition to financially investing in the city, the program gives Youth Commissioners ways to give back with their time. Agencies who submit proposals are asked to provide volunteer opportunities for Youth Commissioners. For example, in recent years students have funded and volunteered with a teen program at the Family Resource Center and funded equipment needs for Athens-Limestone Community Association and then volunteered at the organization’s Black History Month events. ALCA oversees the historic Trinity/Fort Henderson site.

Youth Commissioner Marilyn Swint said that without Youth Commission, “I never would have known about Trinity School and its history. The Trinity School is such a huge part of Athens history, and I am so glad I am now more knowledgeable about that history.”

Youth Commission mentor/organizer Holly Hollman said increasing community awareness for students like Swint is an essential component of the Youth Commission grant program.

“This community grant program opens our Youth Commissioners’ eyes to community needs, volunteer opportunities and organizations that work tirelessly to enhance Athens and can utilize their support,” Hollman said. “If we can spark an interest in these students to love where they live, volunteer their time, share their talents and be engaged citizens, we all benefit.”

Proposals from non-profits will be accepted through April 21, 2022, at 4:30 p.m.

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