By Jillian Price, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The blue and yellow lights illuminating Duluth City Hall aren’t merely decorations.
The Gwinnett city is showing its support for Ukraine — the European nation invaded by Russia — by showing the war-torn country’s colors.
Duluth has a personal connection to the country; one of their city employees is from Ukraine.
Alex Matsota, a maintenance technician, is from Kyiv, the nation’s capital. Matsota moved to Duluth in 1998 and has worked for the city for nine years.
Ever since fighting began, Matsota said he’s been in a state of shock.
“I don’t know how to explain it, it’s unbelievable, it’s shock, it’s ‘how’s this possible?’” Matsota said.
Matsota, who has relatives who still live in Ukraine, is worried about their safety. Some family members, he said, lived just a few yards away from the shelling and where civilians were being killed in the street.
“Really hard to see streets where you walk, where you lived, covered, covered with broken buildings,” Matsota said through tears during a phone call on Thursday afternoon.
Matsota’s relatives were able to safely leave Kyiv and travel to western Ukraine, where it is safer. Matsota has continuously asked his family if they need anything, as they do not have many resources since leaving their homes. Though his family has not asked for anything for themselves, they have asked for money to help other families.
His family does not have plans to leave Ukraine right now.
Matsota is grateful that the city of Duluth and some of his neighbors are showing support for Ukraine and his family.
“I see the people. I see, you know, my coworkers over here. They worry, they worry not just about me. They worry about people over there, what’s happening,” Matsota said.
Duluth, which began lighting City Hall in Ukraine’s colors on March 2, is planning to keep the lights on the city hall for the next few weeks, said Jason Brock, deputy director for public works.