I'm beginning to feel the heat of summertime. Along with the heat, Summer in Huntsville brings us cold watermelon, fresh vegetables and fruit, outdoor barbecue, family visits and vacations. Hopefully, the heat of summer will help rid us of the COVID-19.
Summertime brings back many fond memories of my childhood. Do children still catch fireflies at night like I did? Do children still play "hide and seek" in their neighborhoods? Do kids still climb trees and view their backyards from the top of a giant oak? Do parents, grandparents, children, and families still gather around a hand-cranked ice cream freezer and make homemade ice cream in the backyard? Do parents still load up the kids in the car and go to the local swimming pool so the kids can swim, while the parents visit with each other? Are summer family reunions still popular? Are summer church revivals still being held for families to renew their faith, sing the old-time hymns, have dinner on the grounds, and be thankful for God's great gifts? How about summer church camps for the children? Do families still sit on the front porch and wave at their neighbors while they are shelling fresh peas? Do families still meet at the little league baseball parks and visit while their children play baseball?
All of these things were part of my summers as a child and I wonder if we have lost some of these precious memories of summertime. Maybe I'm just in a reminiscing mood this year and perhaps families are still involved in great summer activities. I sometimes long for a return to those times, yet I realize that times change, we move on, and Summers past becomes precious memories.
Well enough of my daydreaming. We've had some great events in "Home Sweet Huntsville" this month. First, we dedicated our new water tower on Veterans Memorial Parkway as the most visible piece of the completion of Proposition 3 in our bond issue. I am proud to say that because of the confidence our citizens placed in us, and the dedication of our contractors and city staff, the water projects have been completed in a timely manner and under budget. Work on our new police and fire station is progressing well. We have also hired an architect to help us with the redesign of the city hall and service center. Many thanks to the past leadership of the previous city council and citizens as well as our city staff. We continue to progress to the final design of our new MLK Community Center and progress is being made on a partnership with Rita B. Huff on a new animal control center. Besides the public, city-related construction, we have several private construction projects underway with new housing subdivisions, apartment complexes, Chic-Fil-A (ok everybody it’s here), and a multitude of new housing starts. What we are still working hard on is attracting that new job-creating employer that will start or relocate their business here in Huntsville.
I can also report that the city has for the most part settled pending litigation due to the city's annexation process. This is great news for our city and will position future leadership in promoting Huntsville's future. We have partnered with the area workforce group to create summer employment opportunities for young people and we are working on a grant to study the feasibility of a public transportation system for our city. At our recent council meeting, the city council authorized the staff to contract for a new street assessment study to prioritize and address our city's roadways. As you can see, we have a full plate and we continue to look for ways to improve life for our citizens.
I would like to encourage all our citizens to consider serving on the various commissions and committees that we currently have in our city. Your input is invaluable. Also, we will have an election for at-large city council positions in November and if you have an interest in serving your city as an elected official, I would encourage you to consider placing your name on the ballot. Brenda Poe, our City Secretary, would be glad to assist you in any of the volunteer or elected positions.
In closing, I would like to draw your attention to an event held last Saturday, in conjunction with the Juneteenth celebration. A unity gathering was held at Emancipation Park on Saturday at 11 a.m. We had a good crowd for this event and many of our area churches and pastors took the lead in bringing this event together. The general theme of being more caring, respectful, and loving of each other was portrayed over and over as speaker after speaker addressed the crowd. It was a great event and I sincerely hope that the organizers will not let this be a one-time event but will continue to follow-up and continue to bring us together as a loving community. Huntsville can set the example as a city where unity among its people is alive and well. We can do it, we must work to do it, and we must make it happen. I firmly believe the faith community and our churches must take the lead in the unity effort and follow the path that the greatest unifier the world has ever known has laid out for us. God bless the unifying effort in our city and help us all to practice unity with each other.
Our city will celebrate its 185th birthday on July 12, 2020. Happy birthday "Home Sweet Huntsville". Don't forget our July 4th fireworks display at Kate Barr Ross Park this year.
Ok, from my wife, Marlene, and I, we wish you and yours a blessed and safe summer and a heartfelt pride in our city as we strive to continue in unity.
Andy Brauninger is the mayor for the city of Huntsville.