Andalusia, you’re looking good

Published 12:55 am Saturday, August 10, 2013

In my line of work, you sometimes get to hear the same speech, or the same story, more than once.

I’ve heard Mayor Earl Johnson talk about the importance of first appearances so often, I could preach his sermon myself.

Ditto Andalusia Superintendent Ted Watson, who has been talking up the work the City of Andalusia and a dedicated group of volunteers every chance he’s gotten of late.

It’s partially because of the former – Earl’s belief that first impressions are so important – that Ted’s had a lot to say on this topic lately.

If you think about the things that bring visitors to our community, sporting events have to be the biggest draw. And if you think about when you travel to sporting events, you must admit that facilities color your impression of a community. It’s what people who attend football games on Friday nights chat about over coffee on Monday mornings.

These days, Andalusia is giving visitors lots to talk about. We’ve had lots of baseball and softball company in recent months, and we have more coming this week. The conditions of those facilities quietly say, “Welcome. This is a community that values excellence, and we care about our youth.”

This summer, a group of volunteers set out to spruce up Municipal Stadium in preparation of football season. Once they got going, city employees joined the effort. Or as Ted said earlier this week, “the calvary showed up.”

In the stadium, the bleachers have been pressure-washed, the press box has a fresh coat of paint, and an interior wall has been painted black. Landscaping has been added outside of the stadium, and an erosion problem has been corrected.

“It pops like a shiny new quarter,” Ted said Tuesday night.

Similar work has gone on in the AHS auditorium and its lobby, also aided by city employees.

That community support is critical to success was a theme that was heard over and over again at last night’s AHS Hall of Fame induction banquet.

“You’ve gotta have a lot of support in the community to have a good program,” said Doug Barfield, the 1960s-era Andalusia coach who went on to serve as head football coach at Auburn University. And he went on to detail the great support he had here.

Ditto Lt. Col. Doug Collins, who as a red-shirt freshman at Alabama was referred to by Coach Bryant as part of “that bunch from Andalusia.”

“He wasn’t talking about me,” Collins said, adding it was the community, the tradition and the success to which he referred.

“Even all these years later, it still makes me feel good,” Collins said, after having bragged on the facilities. “It is an honor tonight to still be part of that bunch from Andalusia.”