News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007

Athens theater owner opposes naming street after King

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — A movie theater owner told city leaders Monday that renaming his street for a slain civil rights leader could hinder his business.

The Athens City Council is considering a request from the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter to rename South Jefferson Street from U.S. 72 to Durham Drive in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ralph Freehauf, owner of Cinemagic, an indoor and outdoor theater on South Jefferson, said that right now, he is "keeping my head above water" financially.

"I've invested a lot of money out there," Freehauf said. "There's no telling what one little change could do to my business."

Freehauf said he has 40 vendors who make deliveries, and the change would lead to confusion on deliveries of movies and other items. It also would cost him money to change his business address on items like stationery.

Council President Harold Wales said Freehauf's distributors should know him well enough to know his location despite a name change. Wales said the NAACP has sought a street for King for nearly three years.

Requests for street changes on Brownsferry, Hine and Elm streets never got council support after residents complained.

"The NAACP has been relentless in promoting a name change," Councilwoman Milly Caudle said. "Everybody says, 'Don't make it my street.' "

Wales asked for a rules suspension to vote Monday on the request to rename South Jefferson, but Councilman Ronnie Marks objected. That means the council must wait until its June 25 meeting to vote.

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