The Athens Review
Athens Mayor Jerry Don Vaught updated the Athens Kiwanis Club on several city projects at the Country Club on Tuesday.
Vaught was elected mayor in May after having been chosen to fill out the unexpired term of Randy Daniel in 2012. Previously, he served on the city council and as mayor pro-tem.
Vaught said revitalization of the downtown area is an ongoing project. The city is working with the Texas Department of Transportation to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly.
“You never know when to walk across the street down there and it gets very frustrating,” Vaught said.
Keep Athens Beautiful will be allocating money it earned by receiving a Governor’s Award to help with the downtown improvements.
“We’ll be going after grants and other monies to help with the downtown revitalization,” Vaught said.
New guidelines have been developed for the Central Business District to improve the buildings while maintaining the historical look.
Another project involving the Texas Department of Transportation is extension of the runway at the Athens Municipal Airport.
“We’ve been meeting with TxDOT aviation about extending it possibly another 1,000 feet,” Vaught said. “We’ve met with them a couple of times and it’s looking favorable.”
Vaught said the Athens portion of the project would be about 10 percent of the total cost. A rough estimate cost of lengthening the runway from its current 3,988 feet to 5,000 feet would be about $4.8 million. That would cost Athens about $480,000.
“We will be getting with AEDC (Athens Economic Development Corporation) to see if they would co-partner on that,” Vaught said. “We think that this will be an asset to Athens, if we do go forward with it and it will make us competitive with cities that do have a larger airport runway.”
Vaught is also advocating continuing diligent enforcement of the Substandard Building Ordinance, something that has increased in his years on the council.
“We gotten very aggressive on it,” Vaught said. “We have a super Substandard Building Board. They are considerate. But at the same time, they realize that if a building is not able to be remodeled or redone, it just needs to be torn down.”
The city will also be keeping an eye open for weeds, junk and broken-down cars in the city.
Vaught said he is proud that the city has been able to adopt a non-smoking ordinance for restaurants and other businesses.
“I don’t think it’s brought any harm to Athens,” Vaught said, “In fact, I think it’s helped it quite a bit.”