Do they stay, or do they go? – Alabama News

Do they stay, or do they go? – Alabama News

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Elizabeth Richards once vowed to leave Montgomery and never come back. Now the 30-year-old is building a life here.
Brad Harper

Wes Willis has seen a lot of cities in his 11 years touring with Christian rock band Rush of Fools. Today he’s on the road in Asheville, N.C., and as usual he loves comparing the scene there to his hometown of Montgomery. Downtown nightlife, good local restaurants, an up-and-coming music scene and performance venues.

“I’m naming off things Montgomery is starting to get,” Willis said.

“When you don’t have a thriving downtown, everything else is going to suffer. I’ve seen it.”

He grew up with it.

Riverwalk Stadium opened in downtown Montgomery as the former Robert E. Lee High School baseball standout entered his senior year. Before that, it was a ghost town after 5 p.m. and the streets were lined with abandoned historic buildings.

Willis was among 57 people nominated for a Jimmy Hitchcock Award in 2005 as one of the top Christian athletes and community leaders at local high schools. The Montgomery Advertiser, as part of the Millennial Magnet series, recently caught up with most of those 2005 nominees to see what they’re doing now, where they call home and to hear their thoughts about the city.

Many of those millennials are currently celebrating milestones – an engagement, a marriage, a new child – and have built a life in their community. But only about a third are building that life in Montgomery.

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