Cave Spring has a mayor and it’s NOT Billy Wayne Abernathy.

But I call him the unofficial major of Cave Spring because when I think of Cave Spring, I think of Billy Wayne. And I don’t mean to step on any toes when I say that.

Rome residents might not be familiar with his name since he isn’t some high ranking official, nor does he crave the spotlight, but let me tell you Billy Wayne is more involved in his community and does more to promote it than almost anyone else I know.

I only started taking notice a few years ago when I’d see all these emails and social media messages come to the newspaper from someone named Billy Wayne Abernathy. He would send us information and photos about a multitude of events in and around Cave Spring.

I soon began to realize that Billy Wayne wasn’t some paid PR person for Cave Spring, he was just using his own time and resources to promote his community.

When it came to newspaper coverage of Cave Spring events, we knew we could always count on him if we needed it. If a reporter couldn’t get over there quick enough or if we just needed photos of a particular Cave Spring location, we know we can always call up Billy Wayne and he’d run over to get us what we needed, no matter the time of day.

And Billy Wayne attends almost everything that goes on there. He’s on the board of directors of the Cave Spring Downtown Development Authority and he’s the president of the Cave Spring Historical Society. But he’s not just someone who helps to plan events, he’s also willing to roll up his sleeves and work hard to make things happen.

I’ve been to several events in Cave Spring and at every one of them I’ve seen Billy Wayne doing something to help. I’ve seen him riding around in his golf cart and stopping to pick up trash or help someone move a table or just take photos to post to social media. And always with a smile on his face.

Billy Wayne says he’s lived in Cave Spring for 25 years and that he was born and raised just across the state line in Alabama. He married the late Victoria Stanz Howard who was a Cave Spring native.

He put a lot of effort into promoting the Cave Spring Cabin and now most recently he’s doing his best to promote use of the Pinhoti Trail in Cave Spring. And he’s involved with the upcoming ghost tours.

He and Callie Hicks conduct history and ghost tours on golf carts, sharing their knowledge of the history and charm of Cave Spring with residents and visitors alike.

In fact, if there’s ANYTHING going on in Cave Spring I’d venture to say Billy Wayne has a hand in it and will be first in line to help where it’s needed.

While writing this column I looked at his Facebook page and it reminded me that while he promotes particular events, such as the upcoming Cave Spring BBQ Cookoff and Car Show, he also just goes around town taking photos of various places simply to show ‘em off on social media.

Some of his recent photos show off Cave Spring Elementary School, Linde Marie’s Steakhouse, Antiques on the Square, La Cabana Mexican Restaurant and Local Joe’s.

I asked Billy Wayne what he loved about his community.

“I love the history of this town,” he said. “I love what local people have done over the years to preserve it. And I always wanted to carry on what my late mother-in-law started.”

Billy Wayne isn’t a close friend of mine. I know him from my work with the newspaper and from interacting with him at various events. But I think more of us should emulate the pride he has in his community and his willing to tell people about it.

Whether you live in Rome or Cave Spring or Rockmart or Cartersville, you should take pride in your community and help to make it a better place. We all have different talents. You can better your surroundings in ways I may not be able to. We can all take a page out of Billy Wayne’s book by supporting, promoting and attending our local events and activities and by sharing our community with others. That’s how we grow and how we prosper.

Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune

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