Griffin Pritchard Tallassee PIO

Last week’s final awards ceremony at the original Tallassee High School was disturbed by a gas leak severe enough to force an evacuation to the church across the street. The leak - which was blowing with enough pressure to lead emergency services directly to the scene of the explosion - could have easily taken out the graduates, their families, the faculty and leadership in attendance and a few houses.

It’s also endemic of the problems currently facing the City of Tallassee as leadership is challenged to make the tough decisions that are more substantive in nature and rely less on spectacle. For so many years in this city, leadership has focused on appeasing sects of the community while not focusing on the issues that are now severely problematic. That’s why things are the way they are right now in terms of city facilities. Things are crumbling literally beneath the streets. But those problems aren’t sexy. Those are the problems that people who opine freely about how they would run the city never take into consideration but have plagued this administration.

And - from the city’s perspective - we get it.

It’s easy to go on a “media” platform and bash leadership; firing audible slings and arrows across the airwaves, confronted by nothing but a microphone and an audience of sycophants over comments taken out of context from a clip of a council meeting. 

To quote the band Disturbed: “People are hearing without listening.”

The gas leak, though as problematic as it was during the awards ceremony, also brought to light the fact that there is a crumbling infrastructure that needs to be addressed and must take precedence. The focus of this administration - as it has been and will continue to be going forward - must remain substance over spectacle.

And, if as a result of this mindset, leadership must endure the sticks and stones and mean words so be it.

Not to get biblical, but the main fella did say: “thou shalt prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies …”

It feels like flogging a dead horse to discuss the fact that City Hall was an elementary school built in the early 20s. The City’s Public Safety - police and fire stations were built in the 50s. The Rec and Parks Department is functioning successfully out of a decommissioned National Guard Armory, the Library is so aged that it literally came prebuilt on the banks of the river, and now there are gas leaks popping up throughout the city.

Sure we’d love to be able to focus on one thing - a new pool - and make that thing happen since that seems to be the concern du jour but the funds aren’t there, also this is not the 80s or 90s and it’s not a revenue driver. Also this is not a new issue, hasn’t been for some time, it’s only being brought to the fore now because the city has decided to close the pool permanently following this season. But that’s neither here nor there.

What’s important is that the city must - again - focus on substance over spectacle; there are more than 4,800 people within the city’s limits and a greater number outside that zone that utilize city services.

The leadership must prepare the City’s infrastructure to be able to address the needs of the community at large for the next five, 10, and 20 years, and in that time opportunities to add spectacle will present themselves. Right now, though, it’s not the time.

For this city to truly become one that’s flowing with opportunities, the posture of substance over spectacle must be taken into account and we ask everyone to work together with us and help address these pressing issues and put the first things first and the rest fall into place.