There's a lot in Sylacauga to celebrate
Residents of the Sylacauga area were reminded over the weekend of some of the things that make it a great place to live.

The family oriented Celebrate Sylacauga Block Party featured music, food and much more. The work of marble sculptors in Blue Bell Park could be seen, with a weeks-long celebration of the city’s marble mining heritage.

Awards were also presented to help highlight some of the best things about the area.

The late Mayor Sam Wright was honored with the presentation of the Glenn Stephens Spirit of the Promise award, presented by the Sylacauga Promise Committee to Wright’s family. Wright was described as a gentleman, mayor, friend, husband, father, grandfather, supporter, cheerleader, doer, tireless advocate for our city, our community, our county and our state. He served the city with tremendous enthusiasm and optimism, and his presence is missed.

Also recognized was hometown hero Troy Jones, who has made a name for himself as a top-tier songwriter. Sometimes called the “forklift philosopher,” Jones left a good job at a paper mill to pursue his dreams. His folksy lyrics have produced the country chart hits “Shiftwork,” “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer,” and the Grammy-nominated “People are Crazy.” A number of Nashville’s top-selling artists have tapped into Jones’ song library, and he’s still going strong. He performed some of his songs for the crowd.

The city also celebrated the winning if its sixth straight award from America’s Promise Alliance as one of the nation’s “100 Best Communities for Young People.”

Sylacauga was one of three Alabama communities receiving the latest award, along with Mobile and Tuscaloosa County.

It takes local leaders with a vision and determination to make things happen to earn such recognitions. A major goal of America’s Promise is increasing graduation rates. That organization what it calls “The Five Promises” which are fundamental resources that young people need to succeed. Striving to fulfill those promises within the community is part of the plan to do that.

The items emphasized by the Five Promises are caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others.

America’s Promise states that children who receive at least four of the Five Promises are much more likely than those who experience only one, or none, to succeed academically, socially and civically. They are more likely to avoid violence, contribute to their communities and achieve high grades in school.

Receiving at least four of the promises also helps close gaps across racial and economic boundaries.

The ideal is to fulfill the Five Promises in all aspects of their lives, in their families, at schools and out in their communities.

Those are lofty goals. They don’t come easily. But thanks to a can-do attitude and cooperation, Sylacauga has shown what can be done if you try.

And that’s well worth celebrating.

© 2013