When you hear “Boaz,” what do you think?

Growing up as a Douglas Eagle, if I heard someone utter something about a Pirate or Boaz, I’d usually roll my eyes and turn up my nose with innocent ignorance. I was taught not to like Boaz, because it was simply “Boaz.” Not to be one-sided, the same was true when I heard “Albertville” or “Aggies.”

As years have flown by, I’ve certainly matured. When I hear someone talk about either city, my ears usually perk up. My nose and eyes act normal.

But whether it’s in passing or the heart of a meaningful conversation, what do you think when you hear “Boaz”?

While at the groundbreaking ceremony for the city’s new recreation center Thursday morning, I pondered that question.

Councilman David Ellis spoke about what the outlet property — where the $12.75 million facility will be built — used to be. It’s often referred to as “glory days” of the outlets, when the parking lots were full of vehicles, and there were no empty buildings in sight. Now, it seems empty buildings and vacant lots are around every corner.

While nationwide awe of the outlets made Boaz “the place to be,” the same outlets have made Boaz “the place that once was” decades later.

Is that it? “Boaz: the place that once was”?

It may have been the answer for some, but it shouldn’t be — at least not anymore.

As dirt was tossed from the broad blades of shovels gripped by Boaz City Councilmen, it marked the end of an era. A new era will begin once the dust settles in November of 2020 — when construction of the new facility is expected to be complete.

Businesses are intrigued by the recreation center’s presence. According to Boaz councilmen Jeff Davis and Mike Matthews, a few business owners have reached out with interest to move their respective businesses to Boaz.

When I hear “Boaz,” I think of a city on the rebound. I think of a city, once counted out, now climbing its way back up toward the top. I think of a community that’s putting emphasis on the quality of life for its residents. I think of a city that’s decided to let negativity fall on deaf ears and stick to the plan its leaders have outlined to make the city the best it can be.

Boaz is in a great position for success in the coming years. The administration in place has worked diligently to create that position. In fact, the administration led my Mayor David Dyar has done just about everything it pledged to do since taking office about three years ago.

So, what do you think when you hear “Boaz”?

I’m anxious to see how voters respond in 2020.

Taylor Beck is managing editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at taylor.beck@sandmountainreporter.com.

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