NC: The city recently gave $10,000 for the renovation of the old Trinity School/Fort Henderson project and $10,000 for the renovation of the Beaty-Mason home on the campus of Athens State University. Historic structures can be found throughout the city, yet the city’s Historical Preservation Commission only addresses historic homes in a handful of neighborhoods. Do you think the city needs a commission that would oversee historic preservation of structures throughout the city? Why or why not?
Marks: Currently the city of Athens has three established historic districts. They include the Houston District, the Athens College District and the Robert Beaty District. I do not see the need to create another commission to oversee historic preservation.
I think it is essential to know where we have come from in order to plan for the future. We are a very proud community and the city of Athens was incorporated in 1818. Therefore, it is essential that we maintain and restore our historical heritage. There are many important historical buildings and structures that should be restored.
I think it is essential for our community to recognize the “worth” of restoring the facilities of the Beaty-Mason home and the Fort Henderson/Trinity site. The restoration of these two important sites will show that we care about our past as well as plan for our future. here may be other sites, or homes, that should be considered and they should be reviewed on an individual basis and there must be a “finding of fact” that they are indeed recognized to be of historical value.
NC: The Limestone County NAACP recently asked city leaders to do more in terms of hiring minorities for open positions. As an elected official, what would you do to ensure the city fosters an environment of inclusion and exhibits a diverse workforce?
Marks: As mayor, I take a very serious position that our city must represent an environment of diversity. It is essential in the workforce of the city and we have already taken steps to expand our search, and advertisements of open positions for employment.
On several occasions, members of city staff have met with members of the NAACP and members of the Latino community. We will continue to provide an atmosphere to promote diversity in the work force, and I will continue to have an open door policy for all citizens.