Page 1

280 Living

December 2016 | Volume 10 | Issue 4

neighborly news & entertainment

lights that

unite ‘Clark Griswold of Chelsea’ brings holiday cheer through Christmas light display By ERICA TECHO


nyone driving down County Road 39 during the holiday season knows Rick Cloutier’s house. It’s the one with tens of thousands of Christmas lights and a display of inflatables in the front yard. “I popped a lot of breakers when we first started here,” said Cloutier, a Chelsea resident. “We had to add more power to the house.” Christmas decorating starts in October at the Cloutier house — July if you count the planning and shopping at light and decorations sales. Each

See LIGHTS | page A31

Rick Cloutier and his family, top, put up more than 30,000 Christmas lights and other lawn decorations each year at their Chelsea home. Photos by Erica Techo and Sarah Finnegan.

Retiring from retail: Rogers Trading closing

INSIDE Sponsors .......... A4 280 News ..........A6 Business .......... A12 Chamber......... A20 Events ............. A22

Faith ................ A28 Opinion ........... A29 Sports ................B4 Community .......C4 Calendar ...........C13


Pre-Sort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Tupelo, MS Permit #54

A Lasting Love After unexpected passing of beloved elementary teacher, friends, colleagues and family recall Maggie Russell’s impact on community.

See page B12

Rogers Trading Company has been on a journey through the last 70 years. It has moved from Second Avenue to First Avenue in downtown Birmingham, traveled down U.S. 280 behind Full Moon BBQ to its current — and final — location behind Logan’s Roadhouse. And now, after 70 years in the metro Birmingham area, Rogers Trading Company is closing its doors. “This is not a bankruptcy sale. At the end of the day, it’s just time to go,” owner Lee Rogoff said. “I’ve got two grandkids, and I want to spend time with them.”

Rogers Trading Company owner Lee Rogoff sits inside the store’s mascot 1953 Jeep Willys on Nov. 14. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

The store’s retirement sale kicked off Nov. 17, just shy of the 10-year mark on Resource Center Parkway. The sale will continue for an indefinite amount of time, Rogoff said, which is one of the benefits of owning the store’s building.

See ROGERS | page A30

A2 • December 2016

280 Living


December 2016 • A3

A4 • December 2016

280 Living

About Us Editor’s Note By Erica Techo From the day after Thanksgiving to bedtime on Christmas Day, it feels as if everything is go-go-go. There are meals to plan, gifts to buy, lights to hang and sales to shop. Despite the holiday hullabaloo, I encourage everyone to take a few moments away from the Toys-R-Us catalog or Amazon wish lists for a little family time. In Chelsea, you can drive by Rick Cloutier’s home for a Christmas lights display worthy of the Clark Griswold award. The display includes tens of thousands of lights and weeks of work, but Cloutier said knowing people drive by and smile makes the whole process worth the effort. You can also watch as the annual Christmas parade rides past and stroll through Chelsea’s Christmas Village to enjoy a crisp winter morning together (A23). Up and down the 280 corridor, churches are

opening their doors for holiday church services, donations and breakfasts with Santa (A22 and A26). Want to stay at home? Grab a cup of hot cocoa and try baking something as a family in the kitchen (A15). As the year comes to a close, take a minute to reflect on all of the great events that have taken place in the community — from homecomings to spring festivals to celebrations of interesting residents (B18). Look back on the successes of your favorite sports teams and look forward to the sports that are now in season (B4). Happy holidays and Merry Christmas, and I’ll see you next in the new year!


Chelsea residents file into Sports Blast Shelby County on the morning of Election Day, Nov. 8, to vote in the national and state elections. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

Publisher: Managing Editor: Design Editor: Director of Digital Media: Director of Photography: Sports Editor: Page Designers: Community Editor: Community Reporters: Staff Writers: Copy Editor:

Dan Starnes Sydney Cromwell Kristin Williams Heather VacLav Sarah Finnegan Kyle Parmley Cameron Tipton Emily VanderMey Erica Techo Jon Anderson Jesse Chambers Lexi Coon Emily Featherston Sam Chandler Louisa Jeffries

Advertising Manager: Matthew Allen Sales and Distribution: Warren Caldwell Don Harris Michelle Salem Haynes Brittany Joffrion Rhonda Smith James Plunkett Jon Harrison Gail King Eric Clements Contributing Writers: Leah Ingram Eagle Sarah Cook Gary Lloyd Caroline Carmichael Kari Kampakis Rick Watson

280 Living neighborly news & entertainment

Contact Information: 280 Living PO Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780

Please submit all articles, information and photos to: sydney@ P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253

Published by: Starnes Publishing LLC

For advertising contact: Legals: 280 Living is published monthly. Reproduction or

use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. 280 Living is designed to inform the 280 community of area school, family and community events. Information in 280 Living is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/ photos submitted become the property of 280 Living. We reserve the right to edit articles/ photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email.

Please recycle this paper.

Please Support Our Community Partners 30 A Realty (B7) Aesthetic Dermatology (C11) Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center (A10) Alabama Orthopedic, Spine & Sports Medicine Associates (B19) Alabama Outdoors (A21) American Village Citizenship Trust (A1) Aquatic Gardens (A27) ARC Realty (C3) Asbury United Methodist Church (A5) Backyard Adventures (C8) Barton-Clay Fine Jewelers (C5) Bedzzz Express (B1, C16) Bellini’s Ristorante (A15) Ben Franklin - One Hour (C6) Birmingham Duplicate Bridge Club (A26) Birmingham Speech and Hearing Associates (B12) Birmingham Zoo (A11) Bloom and Petal (B8) Brandino Brass (B12) Bromberg & Company, Inc. (A11, C6) Budget Blinds (B16) Cabinetry Refinishing & Restoration (A1) Cahaba Glass (C8) Carbon Recall (B8) Chelsea Wedding Chapel (A19) Chiropractic Today (B2) Closets by Design (A9) Dreamscape Landscape Development, LLC (B3) Elite Boutique (B13) Encore Rehabilitation (C12) ENT Associates of Alabama (C4) Everyday Pet Styles (A24) Expedia CruiseShipCenters (A7) EZ Roof & EZ Restoration (B9) Fancy Fur- Paws and Claws (A26) Fitness Zone (A25) Flat Fee Real Estate (A14) Gardner Landscaping (A6) GASP - Clean Air, Healthy Communities (C10) GeGe’s Salon (B5) Grand Highlands At Mountain Brook (C10) Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce (C5) Grout Superior (B13) Hanna’s Garden Shop (C14) HarperCollins Christian Publishing Kari Kampakis (C3) Healthy Smiles of Birmingham (C2) Highland Shoe Company (C4) High Point Climbing and Fitness, LLC (A3) Home Care Assistance (A28) Hutchinson Automotive (A24)

Hydro-Ponics of Birmingham (A26) Independent Presbyterian Church (A18) Issis & Sons (C1) Jimmie Hale Mission (A31) Kete Cannon, RE MAX Southern Homes (A6) Lamb’s Ears, Ltd. (B1) Leaf & Petal (A15) Mason Music Studios (A27) Mountain Brook Art Association (B15) Narrows Family Eye Care (C14) Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church (B6) Outdoor Living Areas (A29) Paige Albright Orientals (A8) Pak Mail (C7) Pastry Art Bake Shoppe (B4) RealtySouth Marketing (A13) Renew Salon (B4) Rick Brown & Associates, Inc. (A23) Road Runner Moving (B15) Rogers Trading Company (A2) Royal Automotive (B20) Samford Academy of the Arts (B6) Shades Valley Dermatology (A12) Shoal Creek Properties (B17) Shuttlesworth Lasseter LLC (C2) Southeastern Jewelers and Engravers (B5) Spiro Salt Room/Family Share Massage (B11) St. Vincent’s Health Systems (A32) Teacher’s Pet (B10) Tenet Physicians Resources (A16, C11) Terry Crutchfield, e/MAX Advantage South (B2) The Ditsy Daisy (C13) The Highlands Community (B19) The Insurance Place (A31) The Maids (A28) The Tile Cleaner LLC (A17) The UPS Store - Cahaba Heights (A22) Therapy South Greystone (A20) Town of Mt Laurel (C9) UAB Honors College (A30) Uptown at BJCC (C7) Uptown Nail Spa (C13) Visiting Angels Living Assisted Services (A5) Viva Health Care (A18) Water Drainage Solutions (A13) Wedgworth Construction (C15) Weigh To Wellness (B17) Window Decor HomeStore (C12) Wok N Roll Inverness (A22) Your Good Neighbor (C7)

December 2016 • A5

very important.

Superior private home care to loved ones in need Assisting our clients in maintaining a healthy, independent lifestyle within their own environment Primary Resource of Guidance for the Client and Family’s Needs Led by 2 nurses with over 40 years combined experience “Angels in the Wings” Skilled Caregivers Ready on Short Notice to Serve You Flexible Hourly Care • 24/7 Care Available

Locally owned by a franchise team that provides 5000 hours of senior care in Alabama every week

205.979.7400 | 400 Vestavia Parkway Suite 120

A6 • December 2016

280 Living

280 News

Chelsea City Council passes 2 annexations in Branch Lake Estates By ERICA TECHO During their first council meeting since their installation, the 20162020 Chelsea City Council approved two annexations and held two public hearings. Both annexations were located in Branch Lake Estates, which is located off of County Road 47. Clifford and Karen Thompson requested the annexation of their 20.22-acre property on Branch Lake Drive, and Dwight and Deborah Hostetter requested the annexation of their 20.3-acre property. Both homes were annexed from unincorporated Shelby County. During pre-council, council member David Ingram said there was a third property owner who requested being annexed into the city, but a piece of property between that land and the city of Chelsea prevented that from coming before the council. The council also held public hearings regarding two rezoning requests, one from Scott Weygand for the Chelsea Preserve subdivision and the other from Russell Morgan

and Megan Davis regarding a family subdivision. No one spoke during the public hearings for either rezoning, and both passed unanimously. As a member of the council, Scott Weygand recused himself from discussion of the Chelsea Preserve rezoning. Also during the council meeting, Chelsea Fire and Rescue Chief Wayne Shirley updated the mayor and council on work that crews have done in the last several weeks. The drought has kept crews busy, and several calls have come in about wildfires. He reminded the council and anyone watching the live stream of the meeting that there is a burn ban which prohibits all outdoor burning. There is also a fire at U.S. 280 and County Road 43 that has hot spots that will continue to smolder, Shirley said. “The only thing that’s going to put that out is measurable rain,” he said. The fire was first reported last week, and crews have continued to monitor the situation and battle flare-ups.

Chelsea Fire & Rescue Chief Wayne Shirley gives the council and mayor an update during the Nov. 15 City Council meeting. Photo by Erica Techo.

Shirley also commended the crew that helped rescue a man following a 40-foot fall off of a mountain and onto boulders below. Mayor Tony Picklesimer thanked Shirley and the firefighters at Chelsea Fire & Rescue for all of their hard work. Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol Director Jim Thornton told the mayor and council that the COPs were busy during the start of the month with elections and football games. Their “ghost car,” which is parked throughout the city to deter speeders, also

recently received a ticket, Thornton said. The “ticket” was a note that said the driver of the car was impersonating a COP officer and “would be cited as such.” “Thank you officer for all you do,” Thornton read off the note. “We love you.” The note served as their “atta boy” for the week, he said. The council also voted to pay the city’s bills. The next council meeting will be Dec. 6 starting at 6 p.m., with a

pre-council work session starting at 6 p.m. Picklesimer encouraged anyone interested to attend the work session. He also thanked everyone in attendance at the meeting and those watching the city’s live stream on Facebook. “I’d like to thank all of you for being present, and I would also like to thank all of our viewers on Facebook live and live stream,” Picklesimer said. “… We look forward to sharing all information with our citizens in as many ways as we can.”

December 2016 • A7

Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister leads Mayor Tony Picklesimer in taking his oath of office. Photos by Erica Techo.

2016-20 Chelsea mayor, council take oaths of office By ERICA TECHO The city of Chelsea officially has a new mayor and council. While Chelsea’s 2016-2020 council members were elected Aug. 23 and its new mayor was elected Oct. 4, they did not officially take office until Nov. 7. On Nov. 7, Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister conducted the swearing in ceremony for the new city officials. Fuhrmeister and his late wife have conducted all swearing in ceremonies for the city since its founding in 1996. While the Nov. 8 presidential election has many concerned about the state of disconnect between national politics and the day-to-day life of a citizen, Fuhrmeister said that disconnect is not something which will be present between the mayor and council and the city of Chelsea. “The thing about municipal government is these folks basically volunteer their time, and you’re going to see them at the regular council meetings when you’re here to voice your opinion on a subject, but you’re going to see them at the grocery store, you’re going to see them on the ball fields, you’re going to see them in the churches, you’re going to see them on the streets,” Fuhrmeister said. Those who take municipal office will be connected with their communities and listen to concerns, Fuhrmeister added, but they also give up family time and privacy to serve their communities. Chelsea’s new council includes Cody Sumners, Scott Weygand, David Ingram, Tiffany Bittner and Casey Morris. The new mayor is Tony Picklesimer. After each took their oath of office, Fuhrmeister presented the council to those in attendance. “Ladies and gentlemen, that is your new mayor and council,” he said. “They need your support. They need your prayers.” During an organizational council meeting

The thing about municipal government is these folks basically volunteer their time, and you’re going to see them at the regular council meetings when you’re here to voice your opinion on a subject, but you’re going to see them at the grocery store, ... you’re going to see them on the streets.


following the swearing in ceremony, the council elected David Ingram as mayor pro tempore, passed resolutions regarding municipal funds, duties and salaries of municipal employees and reappointing Becky Landers as city clerk, Lori King as city treasurer, Wayne Shirley as chief of the Chelsea Fire and Rescue Department and appointing Mark Boardman as city attorney. The council also approved resolutions to authorize city officials to execute financial documents and to appoint Cole Williams and Matt Lyons to the city’s planning commission. Ordinances were accepted and public hearings were held regarding two rezoning requests. The council approved the rezoning of a property off of Highway 11 which will be used for “The Highlands of Chelsea” subdivision and a property behind Publix that will be rezoned to general business.

The 2016-20 Chelsea City Council and mayor, from left: Cody Sumners, Scott Weygand, Mayor Pro Tempore David Ingram, Mayor Tony Picklesimer, Tiffany Bittner and Casey Morris.

A8 • December 2016

280 Living

Chelsea council recognizes retiring Mayor Earl Niven By ERICA TECHO Mayor Earl Niven decided to start off his final City Council meeting a little differently. At the Oct. 25 Chelsea City Council meeting, Niven’s final meeting during his term as mayor, he decided to use the gavel, which typically sits behind the council bench. Niven called the meeting to order in front of a crowd of family, friends, co-workers and fellow mayors — a crowd that required extra chairs brought into the council chambers. “This is close to 500 meetings I have conducted as your mayor,” Niven said. “I’ve been blessed by you, the voters, who have voted for me five times — really six times since I served a short period of time.” During a program following the council meeting, all sitting council members as well as community leaders thanked Niven for his work as mayor. Council member David Ingram presented Niven with the Chelsea Youth Club Award, thanking him for his dedication to the city’s youngest athletes. “You can just look around our city over the past few years and know that it’s a priority of his to do things for the families and kids of Chelsea,” Ingram said, citing the city’s softball and soccer fields, the

There has to be one who is that visionary, that guiding light. The one who is willing to step out on the ledge and say, ‘Come on, everybody. Let’s go do this.’ Earl Niven is that one ...


Chelsea Community Center and other projects. Chelsea Fire and Rescue Chief Wayne Shirley also thanked Niven. Shirley is the city of Chelsea’s first fire chief and a lifelong resident. “You afforded me the opportunity to do a job that I love,” Shirley said. “It’s not a job when you love it, and I still get up every morning looking forward to coming to work in this community.” During his time with the fire department, Shirley said he has seen

City Clerk Becky Landers presents a plaque to retiring Mayor Earl Niven in honor of his career with the city during the Oct. 25 City Council meeting, which was Niven’s last. Photo by Erica Techo.

several changes. The support of the community, hard work of staff and support of the mayor and council have helped promote that change. He presented Niven with a Chelsea fire helmet that said “Mayor 31.” “We’re very fortunate to have the fire department that we do,” Niven said. Two proclamations in Niven’s honor were also made. City Clerk Becky Landers read a proclamation from Gov. Robert Bentley declaring Oct. 25, 2016, as S. Earl Niven Sr. Day in the state of Alabama. The council voted in favor of a proclamation thanking Niven for his

dedication and service to the city. “My entire life I’ve known you, and it was such an obvious choice for you to be our first mayor,” council member Alison Nichols said. “And although it’s the end of an era, it is such a wonderful thing for you and your family to be able to retire and enjoy the next stage of your life.” Throughout the program, several others voiced their thanks to Niven, including Sheriff John Samaniego, retired Sheriff Chris Curry, Liberty Baptist Church Pastor Tim Cox, Mayor of Vincent Ray McAlister, Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister, Mayor of Harpersville Theo Perkins,

city attorney Mark Boardman and Niven’s son, S. Earl Niven Jr. “Earl has been a shining example for anybody who has a desire to be mayor,” McAlister said. Fuhrmeister said the “proof is in the pudding,” gesturing to the full room at City Hall as proof of Niven’s influence. “There always has to be one,” Fuhrmeister said. “There has to be one who is that visionary, that guiding light. The one who is willing to step out on the ledge and say, ‘Come on, everybody. Let’s go do this.’ Earl Niven is that one, and I am so proud to be able to call him a friend.”

December 2016 • A9

The 2016-20 Shelby County commissioners, from left: Mike Vest, Elwyn Beardon, Lindsey Allison, Robbie Hayes, Jon Parker, Rick Shepherd, Ward Williams and Tommy Edwards. Photo by Erica Techo.

2016-20 Shelby County Commission begins 1st meeting by taking oaths By ERICA TECHO The 2016-20 Shelby County commissioners took their official oaths of office Wednesday night prior to their first meeting of the term. During the Nov. 16 county commission meeting, all returning commissioners — Lindsey Allison, Elwyn Bearden, Tommy Edwards, Robbie Hayes, Rick Shepherd and Mike Vest — took a collective oath. The newest commissioner, District 4 Rep. Ward Williams, took his oath of office as well. “I’m excited to be here, and I look forward to working with you guys,” Williams said. Throughout his campaign, Williams said he learned a lot about the county and its commission. “I really learned we are very fortunate people in Shelby County, and we have a lot of good things going. We’ve got a lot of great citizens, and I look forward to serving them,” he said. Prior to the ceremony, Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister reminded everyone in attendance of the importance of local government. Despite the state of politics at a national level, he said, county and city officials are the ones who make themselves available. They are the individuals citizens can interact with in the grocery store, at weekend athletic events and around town. They are also the individuals who will give up their time to listen to the concerns and complaints of their fellow citizens, Fuhrmeister said. After taking their oaths, the commissioners sat down to conduct regular business. They approved the schedule of meetings for the 2016-2020 commission term, which will remain the same as the previous term. Meetings will be held the second Monday of the month at 8:30 a.m. and the fourth Monday of the month at 6 p.m. The only exception is that the second meeting in December 2016 will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 6 p.m. The commission also approved committee and board appointments. Allison will chair the budget, finance and legal; planning and economic development; government liaison; and county contract services committees. Hayes and Shepherd will also serve on those committees. Beardon will chair the health and human resources; general services; and public safety, courts and election committees, and Edwards will also serve on those committees. Vest will chair the roads and transportation and the environmental and natural resources committees, and Jon Parker and Williams will also serve on those committees. Also at the meeting:

I really learned we are very fortunate people in Shelby County, and we have a lot of good things going. We’ve got a lot of great citizens, and I look forward to serving them.


► County Manager Alex Dudchock told the commission that AT&T plans to install new, high speed, fiber internet lines around Shelby County. “We’re excited about this because it also helps with business retention and recruitment,” Dudchock said, in addition to noting the benefit for citizens. ► Dudchock updated the county commission on the status of those injured in the Colonial Pipeline explosion from earlier in the month. Three individuals are still recovering from their injuries. ► The commission awarded bids for hard steel items and potassium permanganate. ► The commission approved an ALDOT contract regarding a bridge over Mill Creek at County Road 311. This is a standard contract, County Engineer Randy Cole said, and is an ATRIP project. ► Cole and Dudchock updated the commission on the Cahaba Beach Road project. Previous public involvement meetings were well attended, and the next meetings will not be held until between spring and summer, Cole said. There are five potential alignments for the project, Cole said, and each option has to be properly vetted. ► County Water Services Manager Michael Cain updated the commission on the state of the drought, which he said looks like it is getting worse. The county is currently selling water to the city of Birmingham to help support them. In the last billing cycle, they sold 86 million gallons of water through a few small connections, Cain said, and other larger connections should mean those numbers go up if drought connections stay the same. There is also a new connection at County Road 41 which is being installed, and that will back directly up to Highland Lakes.

A10 • December 2016

280 Living

Commission OKs subdivision of land in Stone Bridge neighborhood By LEXI COON During its Nov. 7 meeting, the Shelby County Planning Commission held a public hearing regarding the subdivision of Sector 2 of the Stone Bridge neighborhood that sits along Alabama 119 between Briarwood Christian School and Asbury United Methodist Church. Tom Werk of Covenant Builders requested approval to subdivide Sector 2’s four acres of land into 10 residential plots. As of right now, the land is undeveloped, but the anticipated lots are between 17,865 and 18,000 square feet in size and contain single-family homes. Following along with the families that currently reside in Sector 1, any children living in Sector 2 would attend Oak Mountain schools, and the homes would be served by the North Shelby Fire Department. After meeting with the presiding homeowner’s association, Covenant Builders has decided to implement a separate sewage system using septic tanks, which differs from the preexisting force main sewage system of the first sector. This was done to avoid any conflict with other homeowners and homes that already use the force main sewage system, said Werk. Though there was discussion because the plans did not meet all subdivision requirements, the planning commission unanimously approved the

Tom Werk of Covenant Builders addresses the Shelby County Planning Commission on Nov. 7 regarding his request to subdivide Sector 2’s four acres of land into 10 residential plots. Photo by Lexi Coon.

proposal, contingent on the requirement that the plans are adjusted to meet the minimum subdivision requirements. A sidewalk waiver was also accepted on the grounds that sidewalks would be “out of character” for this development. Because a decision was reached

even though the proposal did not meet the minimal subdivision requirements, the Department of Development Services and the planning commission came to the agreement that future proposals would not be taken to the commission unless they “substantially complied” with all requirements.

Also during the meeting, the planning commission and staff viewed a brief report on the Phase 1 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. Renewed on Oct. 1, 2015, the permit requires that any communities built after the issuing date must meet certain requirements in regards to the conveyance of

stormwater in developed areas, said Chad Scroggins, chief development officer. Scroggins also mentioned that low impact developments are encouraged. The next Shelby County Planning Commission meeting will take place on Dec. 5.

December 2016 • A11

‘Using your head’: Fire up the holiday spirit without igniting your decorations By ERICA TECHO The holiday season is a time for stringing lights, relaxing by the fire, picking a Christmas tree and lighting a few winter-themed candles. While all these elements help add to a cozy atmosphere, they can also add to the perfect storm for a fire. While Chelsea Fire and Rescue does not get many calls in regard to holiday fires, public information officer Paul Williams said it is important to stay alert when there are a heightened number of potential hazards. “It’s all just kind of taking care of everything, kind of using your head,” he said. “Always be aware of what could happen and ways to try to prevent those things from happening, so you don’t have a disaster, whether it would be small or great.” Regularly servicing chimneys and fireplaces is also a good way to prevent potential unwanted fires, Williams said. If a chimney is dirty, the buildup can pose a risk when a fireplace is lit, and a closed flue can fill a whole room with smoke quickly. But generally, the main fire hazards around Christmas are candles. “People will have decorations out that are candle-based, and they’ll oftentimes make the mistake of leaving the room and not having those candles under a watchful eye,” Williams said, noting that the candle might be left lit in an unoccupied room, or it could be left in a room with an unsupervised child. Having a lit candle — or any open flame — unsupervised creates a risk, he said, because it can catch something else on fire. To prevent

Holiday Hazards Chelsea Fire and Rescue public information officer Paul Williams said it’s important to stay alert when there are a heightened number of potential hazards. Things to stay mindful of: ► Check smoke alarm ahead of setting up decorations; ► Service your chimney or fireplace; ► Do not leave lit candles unattended; ► Keep your live Christmas trees well-watered; ► Do not overstress electrical outlets.

this sort of issue, Williams said it is important to extinguish candles when leaving the room and to keep any open flame away from flammable items. One of the most flammable items during the holiday season can be a live Christmas tree. “A lot of Christmas trees pose a risk because of the nature of them drying out and becoming very flammable,” Williams said. “They get so dried out that the flammability of them increases quite a bit, and it doesn’t take very much for them to become a problem around the house.” Calls about trees catching fire are not a common occurrence, Williams said, but people need to be aware that all it takes is one bit of a

The main fire hazards around Christmas are generally candles, according to Chelsea Fire and Rescue’s public information officer Paul Williams. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

dry tree to cause a much larger fire. “The nature of the trees being so dry, and once they catch on fire, it just takes a matter of minutes for them to ignite a whole room,” Williams said. Electrical fires are also possible, Williams said, especially when manufacturers’ warnings are not followed and stress is put on electrical outlets. “The issue is usually people don’t pay attention to the manufacturer-suggested use of lights, and they’ll overuse their string of lights or end up putting too many plugs into an outlet strip,” he said. Around the holidays, Chelsea Fire and

Rescue aims to issue safety reminders so that people can avoid fires or at least do their best to prevent them. “If everybody takes care and stays mindful and tries to be preventative, I think you’ll probably increase your chance of having a safe holiday,” Williams said. One rule, Williams said, is good no matter what season it is. “Always check your smoke alarms, that everything is up to date,” Williams said. “Because there is so much more probability of having fire hazards around the holidays, you want to make sure your house is equipped to give you the warning to allow you to exit the house.”

Ov er t


280 Living

280 Business Happenings



Colonnade Pkwy Liberty Pkwy aba Cah


r Rd

w Pk er t n Ce


oo Br





i kH

e Riv

w Pk nd



Val ley R





ke R


Ov er to

Cahaba Heights Rd

Cah a



3 Ov ert on R




kw rP

oo Br


d ab Ca h

d av an tV all ey R


gh Hi








aba Cah

d er R Riv

kw dP


Cah a

280 Colonnade Pkwy

aV all ey R

Rd M ba ea Val d ow ley Rd Br oo k

Va ll

Bl ue


ke R


In ve rn

es s

ey da le

Pk w



Cahaba Heights Rd





280 Hw



Be ar

Cr ee kR




av an tV all

ey R



Old Highwa 1 y 2809

Chelsea Rd

aV all ab Ca h




d ey R

d kR



do w

Br oo

le ey da Va ll



Pk w



Cr ee



e nt Ce

In ve r

General dermatology for the whole family 0

Old Highway 28

y Hw


Chelsea Rd

Overton Rd

Overton Rd

A12 • December 2016

Liberty Pkwy

Dr. Flanagan specializes in Skin cancer prevention • Skin cancer detection and treatment • Psoriasis Acne • Warts and Molluscum • Eczema • Excessive Hair Growth • Sun damage Hyperhidroisis • Other medical dermatological conditions

813 Shades Creek Parkway Suite 205 Birmingham, AL 35209

Katherine Flanagan, MD

300 North Airport Road Suite 2 Jasper, AL 35504

205.578.1799 |

Now Open Cricket Wireless has opened a retail store in the Chelsea Crossings shopping center, 16054 Highway 280, Chelsea.


The UAB Medicine Neurosurgery Clinic at Greystone has opened in the Greystone Neuroscience Center, 7500 Hugh Daniel Drive, Suite 200. The clinic is staffed by Dr. Thomas Staner and nurse practitioner Shannon Hall, CRNP. 991-4400, uab-medicine-neurosurgery


Coming Soon HealthSouth celebrated the groundbreaking of its new headquarters on November 7 at 9001 Liberty Parkway.


Dixie Tan Spa will be opening in December at 1401 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 110. The spa will offer tanning by using only all-natural tanning spray. 463-4943,


Relocations and Renovations Simply Infused Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room, previously in Mt Laurel, has moved to 5361 Highway 280, Suite 107A, in the Bazaar 280 shopping center behind Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. They offer ultra premium extra virgin olive oils sourced from around the world, as well


December 2016 • A13 as over 30 Barrel-Aged Balsamics imported from Modena, Italy. 408-4231, Alabama Brick has moved its showroom from its previous location on Greystone Commercial Boulevard to a new location across the highway, 5479 Highway 280, Suite 110, in the Arbor Place shopping center. 408-4284,


New Ownership Brook Highland Plaza shopping center, 5291 Highway 280, was acquired by a joint venture between DLC Management Corporation and DRA Advisors, LLC. DRA Advisors is based in New York, New York, and purchased the shopping center along with 15 other properties in New York state.


Anniversaries Skin Wellness Center of Alabama, 398 Chesser Drive, Suite 6, Chelsea, is celebrating its fourth anniversary in December. 678-7518,


Snider’s Discount Pharmacy, 15582 Highway 280, Suite 100, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in December. 678-3899,


Closings Learning By Design Child Care, 5560 Cahaba Valley Road, closed at the end of September.


If you’re a brick-and-mortar business in the 280 area and want to share your event with the community, let us know. Email

Storm drains clogged ? Erosion problems ? Standing water ? Heavy runoff ?

We can help you!


SOLUTIONS 244-1114 Alabama GCL# 43737

A14 • December 2016

280 Living

together By SYDNEY CROMWELL For some people, winter weather means it’s time to stock up on groceries and dust off their winter coats. For Donna Higgins, it means she needs to buy more thick, wooly yarns. Higgins is the owner of In the Making yarn and fabric store at 4232 Dolly Ridge Road in Cahaba Heights. Inside the airy shop are shelves piled with yarn, bolts of fabric, comfortable chairs and projects such as scarves and hats, made by shop employees, to show the potential in each skein of yarn. “Birmingham kind of made it happen. The people here needed community,” Higgins said of her store’s beginnings. Higgins started out in sewing rather than knitting. It was a hobby she shared with her mother, who was deaf, and was one of their main forms of bonding and communication. She continued to sew as she grew up, but after her children outgrew the age where she could make their clothes, Higgins turned to knitting. “Within minutes I was like, ‘I’ve got to have this; I’ve got to have more,’” Higgins recalled about learning to knit. In 2004, Higgins opened a shop in Cahaba Heights for sewing projects such as pillows and window treatments. She planned to just sell yarn “on the side,” but things didn’t quite turn out that way. “Well, what happened was I never worked in that shop because I was selling yarn,” she said. Eventually Higgins chose to make In the Making a retail shop for yarn and fabrics instead of a custom order workshop. They moved into their current building two years ago after a three-year building process. Much of the wood features and furniture inside are reclaimed from barns and other structures around the state. Most of the yarns sold at In the Making are made of natural fibers such as wool, cotton and linen, and some are shipped from as far away as

Donna Higgins owns In the Making yarn and fabric store and started her own line of yarn, Big Bad Wool. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

Ireland. Higgins also has her own line of yarn, Big Bad Wool, which she started in January 2015. It is spun in Peru and made out of merino wool and baby alpaca wool. Big Bad Wool started because Higgins wanted more consistency in the colors available in the baby yarn section of her store. There are now two styles of Big Bad Wool in about 35 colors, and Higgins plans to introduce a new rugged, “hearty” yarn in summer. “This was an interesting startup. Our baby section was just nothing more than a mishmash of various yarns that we could get from our vendors,” Higgins said. Big Bad Wool is sold in other knitting and crochet shops besides In the Making, and Higgins said the soft texture of the yarn can make it addictive.

“I compare this to like a Sharpie cabinet at the art store, you know? It’s like, ‘I want one of everything,’” Higgins said. It’s not the yarn selection that has made In the Making successful, Higgins said. The project support and classes they provide keep customers coming back rather than buying online or at a larger hobby shop. “Because the community realizes how valuable it is that we’re here, they support us,” Higgins said. Several employees at In the Making have worked there for a decade or more, Higgins said. They can help with knitting, crocheting and quilting projects and lead classes to teach new skills. Three staff members are also designers and will create original patterns customers can buy. One employee even started teaching

customers how to spin their own yarn and weave. “The community loves to knit what [store manager] Jamie [Thomas] might have designed,” Higgins said. Their customers range from children and teens to new mothers and grandparents, who pick up needle art hobbies for a variety of reasons. But the unique mixture of what In the Making has to offer means that even with the growing popularity of online shopping, Higgins and her staff can count on customers continuing to walk in the door. “We already have a community here, so we don’t need to seek one outside of it,” Higgins said. Learn more about In the Making at, and find out more about Big Bad Wool at In the Making is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.


December 2016 • A15

Need a gluten-free gift this holiday season? Try something tasty By ERICA TECHO Whether you follow a strict gluten-free diet or have never tried gluten-free treats, The Funky Muffin gluten-free bakery suggests testing out this gluten-free bread pudding over the holidays. The Funky Muffin is the only dedicated gluten-free bakery in Birmingham, and it was started by owner Carol Key in 2013. “We have the best customers,” Key said. “We know we are filling a need here in the Birmingham area for those with celiac disease and/or a gluten intolerance.” About 14 years ago, Key found out she had celiac disease, meaning her body is hypersensitive to gluten, and she became gluten free. She has a total of 40 years of cooking experience. This bread pudding recipe is perfect for the holidays, Key said, “because it is easy to make and you can put your favorite things in it such as apricots, white chocolate chips and almonds, or you can use pumpkin bread for the holidays.” Bread pudding in general is also a favorite in the holiday season, she said.

The Funky Muffin gluten-free bakery owner Carol Key’s bread pudding. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.


(Makes approximately 6-8 servings) ► 2 pounds stale gluten-free bread (or gluten-free pound cake) ► 5 eggs ► 1 cup whole milk

► 1½ cups heavy cream ► ¾ cup sugar ► ⅓ cup brown sugar ► 2 teaspoons vanilla ► ½ cup pecans ► ½ cup raisins

► 1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and place

in a buttered casserole dish. 3. Mix all other ingredients well and pour over bread. Top with extra pecans, if desired. 4. Bake for 30-45 minutes. 5. Serve warm.

A16 • December 2016

280 Living

No girl talk at The Barber Shop in Chelsea

Faye Pray brings old-fashioned feel to new business

This is a man’s barber shop, but we don’t have Playboy magazines or beer. It’s just a family barber shop where men can bring their kids or wives.

By JON ANDERSON There’s a reason why Faye Pray calls her hair-cutting business in Chelsea simply The Barber Shop. That’s because you won’t find a bunch of fancy salon products, curling irons, hair dryers, manicures or waxing services there. “We don’t do too many women here,” Pray said. “We don’t do hair curling and all that stuff. We don’t do cosmetology stuff — no coloring, no chemicals, nothing like that, no perms.” It’s a place for men to come get a good, old-fashioned haircut — and a shave if they want. The décor matches the manly theme. The barbers’ supply stations look like toolboxes, and instead of hair dryers, they use air hoses hooked up to an air compressor outside the back door to dry hair. “This is a man’s barber shop, but we don’t have Playboy magazines or beer,” Pray is quick to point out. “It’s just a family barber shop where men can bring their kids or wives.” Even though two of the three barbers there are women, there’s not a lot of girl talk, Pray said. The men who come in like to talk about shooting guns, going hunting and fishing — “things I like to do,” she said. She loves the outdoors — going camping, kayaking, snow skiing, mud riding, dune buggy riding and any water sports, she said. “When they come in here, they think we’re one of the boys,” Pray said. She’s planning a customer appreciation day Jan. 9 with a bluegrass band and sportsman’s theme, she said. They’ll be cooking dove breast and deer meat, she said.

Faye Pray opened The Barber Shop in Chelsea in July and said her customers like the manly feel of the place. Her barber pole came from Miami and dates back to 1946, she said. Photo by Jon Anderson.

She has two TV sets in the shop so the guys can watch their sports, “but most of the time, we keep it on ‘Andy Griffith,’” she said. The barbers give Hot Wheels cars, sodas and popcorn to the boys who come in, and they always have sweet tea, soft drinks and water for the men, she said. “We want ’em to feel at home.” Pray just opened the shop in July, but she has been a barber for 40 years, she said. When she graduated from Pinson Valley High School, she went into cosmetology at first, but she has asthma and realized she couldn’t

breathe all the chemicals that come with cosmetology, she said. So instead, she went to the Alabama State College of Barber Styling in Roebuck. She has worked at Master Cuts at the former Eastwood Mall, Head Start in Hoover, Great Clips in Cahaba Heights and spent 19 years at the Cahaba Heights Plaza Barber Shop, she said. While she was working in Cahaba Heights, some of her customers from Chelsea and her fiancé, who also is from Chelsea, told her she needed to open a barber shop there because they


didn’t have any barber shops in Chelsea, she said. So she decided to do it and left the shop in Cahaba Heights. However, she injured her hand and ended up taking a couple of years off before opening The Barber Shop in the Old 280 Plaza shopping center (10699 Old U.S. 280, Building 5, Suite 8), she said. Sandra Cleckler, a barber who formerly worked at the Buzz & Cuts family salon in Chelsea, came to join Pray about two months ago. The third barber is Larry Barton, the former mayor of Talladega who worked with Pray for many years at the Cahaba Heights Plaza Barber Shop. Pray decorated the outside of her shop with a barber pole from Miami she said dates back to 1946. She had an electrician add a light on top of it. She also has a barber’s chair from Miami that dates back to 1946 sitting in the shop, and she plans to re-cover it and start using it, she said. She found the pole and chair in a North Carolina barn that belonged to her fiance’s uncle, she said. They help add to that old-fashioned barber shop feel, she said. Her lease is for two years, “but I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be here forever,” she said. “We’ve got the best customers in the world.” To contact The Barber Shop or schedule an appointment, call 603-6323.

December 2016 • A17

Vicki Huey works on a Christmas wreath in her home Nov. 1. Huey, a Brook Highland resident, creates custom seasonal wreaths, which she sells through her store on Etsy. Photos by Sarah Finnegan.

Bringing in the Shades of the Seasons with decorative wreaths By CAROLINE CARMICHAEL Vicki Huey often is told her home resembles a storefront window. “Decorating for all the different holidays is something I’ve always played with,” the Brook Highland resident said, “and the joy of doing that is what I want to do full time.” Part of what leads Huey to decorate is Shades of the Seasons, her customized wreath and design service that operates through Etsy, an online shopping site. Huey, a retired telecommunication engineer who does part-time marketing and special events for California Pizza Kitchen at the Summit, opened

her Etsy shop in August 2012. Two knee replacements slowed her shop’s initial takeoff, Huey said, but after much healing, the store is picking up speed once more. “It’s worked out pretty good,” she said. “I enjoy doing it.” While Huey’s business centers primarily on customized wreaths, her local business has broadened to include decorative pieces for mailboxes, fireplace mantels, Christmas trees and more. Huey creates pieces for any and every season. Her shop features wreaths for Mother’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Christmas, birthdays and more.

“You name it — there’s not an occasion I don’t do,” Huey said. Her most popular request is for baby arrival wreaths that can just as easily grace a hospital door as a home front door or nursery, Huey said. Bridal wreaths are her most recent project. “If I get a request for something,” she said, “I can make it.” Huey said that once she receives a custom request, she discusses with the interested customer his or her desired vision for the wreath. After the wreath’s initial construction, she sends a photo for the customer’s review. When the piece is perfected, it is shipped following

purchase confirmation — sometimes with requested cards catered to the occasion. Customers can pay online through her page. “And I try to stay reasonable,” Huey said about pricing. While some more elaborate pieces call for greater expense, Huey strives to limit most prices to a range below $100. Many of Huey’s wreaths are not results of customer requests, but rather products of her own artsy pleasure. “I just like creating things,” she said. But like most artists, Huey finds it challenging to declare a project complete.

“Even when I’m through, it has to sit there for a day or two because I’ll find something that I don’t like. I have to love it,” she said. “If I love it,” she later explained, “I’m hoping someone else will love it, too,” Huey said many of her pieces are difficult to part with. Her page on Etsy has a five-star rating, Huey said, which she credits to her desire to produce quality merchandise. “This is sort of my passion — it’s what I love to do,” she said. For more information about Shades of the Seasons or to purchase a wreath, go to ShadesOfTheSeasons.

A18 • December 2016

280 Living

Cowfish opening 5th US location at the Summit By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE The nation’s original “sushi burger bar” will open its fifth location at the Summit in the summer of 2017. The concept for the Cowfish Burger and Sushi Bar began as a joke during a late-night call between friends. Founders Marcus Hall and Alan Springate had been in business together for more than 12 years when they came up with this unique concept. The two had opened a Pan Asian restaurant based out of Montreal, but after nine months, Hall said the concept didn’t feel right, so they opted out of the franchise. However, they continued to operate under a different name and menu, one that included sushi. It was a costly decision for them, but one that has paid off.

“We made some changes, going to fresh ingredients and making things from scratch,” Hall said. “We listened to our guests and formulated our own menu, and people wanted sushi. Alan and I had no business being in the sushi business whatsoever, but we’ve been blessed fortunately and led in ways I can’t describe.” While looking to open a second location in 2010, Hall decided to move next door to the gourmet burger restaurant that Springate owned, knock down the wall between them, and merge the two together to form a sushi burger bar. “We were in a period of creative explosion,” Hall said. “It was an opportunity for us to formulate what it will look like. It was a fun and stressful time.” Hall said they are excited to

expand to Birmingham, and the move has been a long time coming. “We had been negotiating the Summit property, and the last trip we made there, I fell in love with it even more,” Hall said. “It just feels right. There’s a good energy, and Birmingham is excited about something new.” The Cowfish Birmingham will offer the same innovative menu and atmosphere as its other locations in Charlotte, Raleigh, Orlando and Atlanta. Its goal is to offer something for everyone. The gourmet burger menu features half-pound, all natural, hormone-and antibiotic-free, never-frozen patties. The sushi menu offers traditional sushi rolls, sashimi, nigiri and fusion rolls. For guests who want to mix the two, the Burgushi menu items include sushi rolls created using

burger components and pickup style sandwiches created using sushi. Other menu items include appetizers, sandwiches, handcrafted cocktails, craft beers, handspun milkshakes and desserts. The Cowfish will be at the lower level of the Summit near Saks Fifth Avenue. The 6,000-square-foot full-service restaurant will feature a high-energy environment with bright colors, custom artwork, vibrant music and a saltwater aquarium filled with live cowfish. With seating for 250 guests, The Cowfish has two commercial kitchens, one for sushi and a hot kitchen. A covered patio will offer an outdoor dining

option, and it will be enclosed and heated during the winter months. “Our restaurants are come one, come all,” Hall said. “People can come after the gym or ready to go out on the town. It’s also very family friendly.” Hall said he wants to grow his business, but be anti-chain. They pride themselves on having a strong management team and exceptional customer service. “We take care of our guests and serve high-quality products,” Hall said. “It’s much more of an experience than just going out to eat.” For more information, visit

A chef’s deluxe 15piece sushi mix, left, and the Longhorn burger from Cowfish Burger and Sushi Bar. Photos courtesy of Cowfish Burger and Sushi Bar.

at Independent Presbyterian Church 3100 Highland Avenue S, Birmingham AL


November 27 • December 4 December 11 • December 18 Hear the music and the scriptures from George Frideric Handel’s masterpiece. The IPC Choir under the direction of Dr. Jeff R. McLelland will perform Part 1 of Messiah across four Sundays beginning November 27 in both the 8:45 and 11 am worship services. Senior Pastor Dr. William J. Carl III will deliver sermons each Sunday related to the biblical texts which the choir will be singing.

Everyone is welcome.

December 2016 • A19

Eagle Point decorator brings holiday spirit into homes Lisa Lester decorates homes up and down the 280 corridor. The mantel is one of her favorite parts of a house to decorate. Photo courtesy of Lisa Lester.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Many people enjoy spending time decorating their homes for the Christmas season. Others would rather hire someone to take care of that for them — that’s where Lisa Lester comes in. From the beginning of November until the week before Christmas, Lisa Lester — Eagle Point resident and mother of three — spends much of her time making other homes beautiful for the holidays. The other 10 months of the year, Lester works as an interior designer and stages homes for real estate agents. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in fashion and marketing, she spent several years working with retailers Parisian and Gap. She said her background in these industries goes hand in hand with her current career. “I’ve always loved interior design, even when I was little,” Lester said. “I like details, that’s my thing. People would ask me to help them decorate their homes because they liked the way mine looked, and I did that sporadically.” After her first child, Lester took a 10-year break from working. It was during her third pregnancy that a friend asked her to decorate a beach house. She enjoyed that opportunity so much that she decided that’s what she would do when her kids got older. “When my youngest daughter was 3, I began working full time,” Lester said. “That was five or six years ago. I don’t have a storefront, but I do have contacts that do my custom bedding, painting, upholstery and electricity.” Lester said Christmas decorating came naturally, and she gets to be creative. “I love Christmas decorating. It’s my favorite thing to do,” she said. “I think the little details are what make it. First impressions are everything, and little details can make the first impression.” Lester says each of her 20-plus clients have different personalities, so she can personalize the décor for each home. Most of the homes

are on the U.S. 280 corridor, and she decorates mailboxes, front doors, entryways, mantels, tables and trees. For one of her clients, she sets up a 200-piece Christmas village. She has several repeat customers who schedule her year after year. Some use items they already have, and some want her to bring in new items. Lester said she likes to shop at Greystone Antiques, Hobby Lobby and At Home in Homewood and also loves to decorate with natural items such as magnolia and holly, so it looks realistic. Her favorite parts of the room are the mantel

and the family tree. If clients want to decorate the tree as a family, Lester will come in and enhance it later. Despite her busy schedule with other people’s homes, Lester won’t be doing much decorating at her own house this year. Her son is playing in a basketball tournament, and her family will be going to that and not returning until after New Year’s Day. After the holidays, Lester focuses on her interior design business and decorates for corporate events. To contact Lester, call 965-2491 or email

I think the little details are what make it. First impressions are everything, and little details can make the first impression.


A20 • December 2016

280 Living

Chamber Manager provides update on county growth County Manager Alex Dudchock addresses the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce at its Oct. 26 luncheon. “Our county has now had two consecutive years of growth,” Dudchock said. Photo by Erica Techo.

By ERICA TECHO Shelby County has seen growth over the last year, said County Manager Alex Dudchock, but the county is continually working to further improve and to reach pre-2008 numbers. Dudchock covered the county’s general fund revenues since the Great Recession as well as completed projects from 2016 during his State of the County address at the Oct. 26 Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “Our county has now had two consecutive years of growth,” Dudchock said. In fiscal year 2009, the county’s general fund revenue was at nearly negative $2.2 million. Fiscal years 2010 and 2011 saw negative $4 million in general fund revenue. Fiscal year 2016, which ended Sept. 30, saw a nearly $1 million revenue, and the next year is expected to have nearly $4 million in revenue. “As you see, we had some significant down years that we had to manage through as far as reduction in revenue,” Dudchock said. In addition to growth in revenue, Shelby County has seen a growing population, a growth in development and a decrease in unemployment rates. The population grew by around 2,500 people in 2016, and its median household income for last year was $69,723. Unemployment dropped from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent, meaning around 4,555 Shelby County residents are unemployed, Dudchock said. While lower than unemployment was following the Great Recession, Dudchock said the county still has a way to go. “We want to find means to get back to what was our number in 2007, going into 2008? That number was 2.2 percent unemployment, 2,250 residents unemployed,” Dudchock said. “So we’re still at double. All the rosiness I talk about and the improvements that we make, we

still have double the amount of folks unemployed since the Great Recession, and we don’t forget that.” The county has also seen the value of the one-cent sales tax go up by $2.5 million. “That gives you an indication of economic prosperity, consumer confidence, what’s really coming from the pocketbook,” Dudchock said. Projects completed in the last year included installing a methane gas collection system at

the county landfill, renovating the raw water withdrawal facility at the Talladega-Shelby Water Treatment Plant, improvements on the roads and parking lots at American Village, installing a trail at American Village, completing road improvements on River Road, building a new box hangar at Shelby County Airport, supporting the expansion of Forever Wild land near Cahaba River Park and executing funding agreements for a road and bike lane project at

Oak Mountain State Park. For the Oak Mountain State Park project, all public involvement meetings have been completed. “We’re in full design right now to construct a new roundabout, new park road improvements all the way to [County Road] 119 … [and] we’ll have a new entrance signage there,” Dudchock said, adding that the project is 80 percent funded with federal funds, and the rest is funded by the county and city of Pelham. Another successful project in the county is Compact 2020, an initiative that was launched in July. The initiative takes a comprehensive look at drug use and abuse in the county, working in schools, with individuals who have gone through the justice system and with individuals with addictions. “I will tell you from July 1, since these guys have been interacting with our drug court participants, they have saved seven lives,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Alan Miller said. “There are seven young women who are alive today because of these men and women.” Miller recognized officers working with Compact 2020, and Dudchock recognized Lt. Clay Hammac, commander of the Shelby County Drug Task Force, for his work with Compact 2020 as well. Dudchock encouraged individuals to report suspicious activity that might be drug-related, and cards with four methods of anonymous tip submission were passed out. For more information on anonymously reporting an incident, go to “We need your eyes. We need you to share in your Sunday school classes,” Dudchock said. “We need you to tell people there are remedies and there is help out there. … We want to saturate knowledge and community involvement at every level.”

December 2016 • A21

Commissioner Mike Vest recounts influence of nonprofits in personal life By ERICA TECHO Without nonprofits, Shelby County Commissioner Mike Vest admits he would not be where he is today. During the November South Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon, which had a spotlight on nonprofits, Vest shared his family’s story as well as how nonprofit organizations influenced his life. Vest, who also is director of community and corporate relations for Knight Eady, grew up in Five Points West in Birmingham. His dad was an alcoholic, Vest said, and ended up leaving their family in 1975. “He didn’t leave because he didn’t love us,” Vest said. “Alcohol is a bad thing, y’all. Alcohol is a bad, bad thing, and I’ve been witnessing it for almost 50 years.” After his dad left, his mom had to work to support their family. In 27 years, she only missed two days of work, Vest said, and their family was on food stamps at times and sometimes relied on nonprofits. “Nonprofits are huge for us,” Vest said. “Momma couldn’t afford to buy us Christmas presents sometimes, so we had Toys for Tots for several years. We had food stamps, but when my mom could afford to get off food stamps, guess what, did she stay on food stamps? She got off.” One of those Toys for Tots presents — a football — ended up influencing Vest’s life more than the donor probably knew. After receiving that football one year, Vest went out to kick it every day. His love of football ended up leading to an athletic scholarship and eventually his degree from Samford University. “Who do I give the credit to? I give the credit to my mom who said, ‘Hey, I love you enough to embarrass myself and go get food stamps and ask for Toys for Tots because I

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Vest speaks during the Nov. 3 South Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Photo by Erica Techo.

got a football at Toys for Tots when I was 10 years old, and I kicked that thing so much the rubber came out of it,” Vest said. “... And here I am with a college scholarship and a college education because of somebody giving a football to Toys for Tots.” Vest’s older brother also received help from nonprofits, although it came later in life. Pat quit school when he was in the 10th grade and was involved in the “drug scene,” Vest said. “For about 30 years, he was really messed up,” Vest said. “We did everything we could for him, everything we could.” In 2010, Vest left his office at the Birmingham Athletic Partnership and walked past the Salvation Army’s shelter in downtown when he heard someone call to him. “I hear someone go, ‘Hey.’ There are the homeless people at Salvation Army up there

on your left, and I’m walking to my car because they’re always wanting something,” Vest said. “I kept on walking, and then he said, ‘Hey Mike.’ Whoa. So I stopped, turned, and here comes this 120-pound man walking down the street, my brother Pat.” His brother couldn’t afford to stay at the hotel he had been at, so he went to the Salvation Army, Vest said, but he could not stay there any longer. Instead, he asked Vest to take him to The Foundry. “He was there for a year and a half, got cleaned up,” Vest said. “They said, ‘Pat we love you so much, you’re such a good mentor, we want you to stay a year and a half longer.’” He stayed at The Foundry as a mentor but left in December of 2013, going off to live on his own. He got a full-time job and remained clean, Vest said, and became a Christian. On April 12, however, he died of a heart attack. “Thanks to the nonprofit sector, my brother was saved in more ways than one,” he said. “That’s how important it is to me.” Vest’s dad died in 2012, and although they reconnected in his adult life, Vest said he knew his life had been better without him. Nonprofits, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, helped step in and shape his life, Vest said. “I’ve got a big brother named Mark Griffin, and he was a Hoover firefighter for 33 years, and he lived on my side of town, Green Acres area,” Vest said. “… Mark became my big brother, and we’ve been best buddies for 39 years. This guy changed my life.” Vest named his youngest son Griffin as a way to honor the way Mark Griffin changed his life, he said, and he encourages his kids to give back just as he does. His 25-year-old son, Billy Vest, is a big brother in Tuscaloosa, and has a little brother who he helps lead through life. “Thank you nonprofits, because I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for what you guys do,” Vest said.

Preview of

December Luncheon

The South Shelby Chamber of Commerce is holding its 11th annual Diamond Awards, which recognizes business of the year, new business of the year, citizen of the year, nonprofit of the year and civil servant of the year, on Dec. 1 at American Village. The civil servant of the year is a new addition to the Diamond Awards, and it is geared toward recognizing elected officials in South Shelby County. Chamber members are encouraged to nominate individuals or business owners for each of the awards, and on the application, they give a 350-word description of the nominee and why they should be considered. “As we work through 2016, we encourage you to keep in mind those citizens and businesses that affect change and growth in our area,” according to the event description on the chamber’s website. The Diamond Awards luncheon will start at 11:30 a.m.

A22 • December 2016

280 Living

Events Churches spread tidings of joy for Christmas Actors participate in a live Nativity scene for Meadow Brook Baptist Church in December 2015. This year’s live Nativity is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Dec. 11. Photo courtesy of Mark Morgan.

By JON ANDERSON Churches in the U.S. 280 corridor have a multitude of events planned to celebrate the birth of Christ this year. Some start in late November, but they’re spread all through December. As usual, there are a lot of Christmas Eve services scheduled. But with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, many churches are holding Christmas Day services as well, though some are abbreviated or different than the usual time or format. Here’s a sampling, but not an all-inclusive roundup: ► Asbury United Methodist, 6690 Cahaba Valley Road: Hanging of the Green Advent music service at 5 p.m. on Nov. 27; candlelight and communion services at 5, 8 and 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve; traditional service and separate contemporary service at 11 a.m. on Christmas Day ► Chelsea Creek Community, 48 Chesser Crane Road: Christmas Coffee House with singing, movie video clips, coffee and desserts on Dec. 18, 6-9 p.m.; candlelight communion service at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve ► Christ Church United Methodist, 5091 Caldwell Mill Road: Christmas music program at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11; traditional service at 4 p.m. in the sanctuary and contemporary service at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve; 3 p.m. service on Christmas Day ► Church of the Highlands-Grandview Campus, 3660 Grandview Parkway: A Highlands Christmas program at 7 p.m. on Dec. 22 and 23 and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve (reserve free tickets for all programs online); Christmas Day service available online anytime ► Church of the Highlands-Grants Mill Campus, 4700 Highlands Way: A Highlands Christmas program at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec.

19, 20, 22 and 23 and 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve (reserve free tickets for all programs online); Christmas Day service available online anytime ► Church of the Highlands-Greystone Campus, 1701 Lee Branch Lane: A Highlands Christmas program at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec. 20, 22 and 23 and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve (reserve free tickets for all programs online); Christmas Day service available online anytime ► CrossBridge Church of Christ, 3039 Brook Highland Parkway: Breakfast with Santa ($5 per adult/$7 per child) from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 10; candlelight service at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve; communion service at 10:30 a.m. on Christmas Day ► Double Oak Community, 115 Olmstead St.: candlelight services at 1:30, 3, 4:30 and 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve; worship services at 9:30 and 11 a.m. on Christmas Day ► Faith Presbyterian, 4601 Valleydale Road: Christmas music worship service at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 4; candlelight service at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve; 10:30 a.m. service

on Christmas Day ► First Christian, 4954 Valleydale Road: “The Christmas Present” children’s musical at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 4; adult choir cantata at 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 18; family service at 5 p.m. and candlelight communion service at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve ► Inverness Vineyard, 4733 Valleydale Road: “A Very Merry Vineyard Christmas” program at 6 p.m. on Dec. 18; 10:30 a.m. service on Christmas Day ► Liberty Baptist, 11050 Chelsea Road: communion services at 3:30 and 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve; 9:30 and 11 a.m. services on Christmas Day ► Liberty Park Baptist, 12001 Liberty Parkway: Santa in worship service at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 4; “Christmas in the Park-Believe” choir and orchestra performances at 4 and 7 p.m. and live Nativity at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 11; kid-friendly glow stick service at 3 p.m. and traditional candlelight service at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve; worship service at 10:30 a.m. on Christmas Day ► Meadow Brook Baptist, 4984 Meadow

Brook Road: live Nativity at 5 p.m. on “The Sounds of Christmas” worship experience at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11; candlelight communion services at 4:30 and 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve; 10:45 a.m. service on Christmas Day ► Morningstar United Methodist & New Heights United Methodist, 11072 Shelby County 11 in Chelsea: Blue Christmas worship service for those struggling to find joy due to recent death, divorce, sickness, etc. at 5 p.m. on Dec. 11; contemporary candlelight service at 4 p.m. and traditional candlelight service at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve; 10 a.m. service on Christmas Day ► North Shelby Baptist, 4100 Belcher Drive: candlelight communion service at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve; 10:15 a.m. service on Christmas Day ► Oak Mountain Presbyterian, 5080 Cahaba Valley Trace: Christmas Spectacular music programs at 8:15 and 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 11; 5 p.m. (kid-friendly) and 6:30 p.m. services on Christmas Eve; 10:45 a.m. service on Christmas Day ► Our Lady of the Valley Catholic, 5514 Double Oak Lane: children’s mass at 4 p.m. and regular mass at 6:30 and 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve; 10 a.m. mass on Christmas Day ► Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran, 4887 Valleydale Road: Advent services at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14 and 21; family candlelight communion service with children’s pageant at 5 p.m. and candlelight communion service at 7:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve; service time on Christmas Day to be determined (check website) ► St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic, 7340 Cahaba Valley Road: 4 p.m. mass with the youth choir at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. mass with the adult choir on Christmas Eve; 10:30 a.m. mass on Christmas Day

December 2016 • A23

Chelsea Christmas Village back to support area park By ERICA TECHO The city of Chelsea is once again preparing for the holiday spirit to roll through town. On Dec. 17, Chelsea will host its 17th annual Christmas Parade, and the Yellowleaf Homeowners Association will host its annual Christmas Village. The parade will start at 10 a.m. at Chelsea Middle School and end in the Winn Dixie parking lot. Tiffany Bittner, one of the new Chelsea City Council members, will emcee the parade. “It’s a great family tradition,” said Chelsea GIS Coordinator Gerri Roberts. “We have a lot of families that do it year after year.” There will also be time to visit with and take pictures with Santa at the Chelsea Community Center on the day of the parade. The Christmas Village opens at 9 a.m., about an hour before the parade starts, and is at the end of the parade route — in the open land near U.S. 280 and County Road 47 behind the Dairy Queen. Sally Kelley, Yellowleaf’s HOA secretary, said she encourages everyone to stop by and enjoy the Christmas spirit.

“We’re at the end of the Christmas parade route, so they can continue their festivities for the day by walking through the Christmas Village,” Kelley said. Whether people want a cup of hot chocolate or to buy some holiday sweets, stocking stuffers, games or arts and crafts, the Christmas Village will have a variety of vendors. “Every vendor that has signed up so far is a new vendor,” Kelley said, adding that this year there will be vendors from surrounding cities, including Helena and Sylacauga, while previous Christmas Villages have mainly had Chelsea vendors. The Christmas Village serves as Yellowleaf HOA’s main fundraiser for the Dogwood Creek Park, a rustic park in their neighborhood. Yellowleaf collects minimal HOA fees, Kelley said, and those go toward streetlights or landscaping in the subdivision, so they rely on money raised at the Chelsea Christmas Village to maintain the park. For more information on the Chelsea Christmas Village, go to yellowleafhoa. com/Christmas-village-2016.html. For more information about the parade, go to

The Christmas Village opens at 9 a.m., Dec. 17, about an hour before the annual Christmas Parade starts, and is at the end of the parade route — in the open land near U.S. 280 and County Road 47 behind the Dairy Queen. Staff photo.

A24 • December 2016

280 Living

Chelsea Santa Stop schedules announced By JESSE CHAMBERS

Circle: 5:35 p.m.; Flag Stone Drive: 5:45 p.m.; Crossbrook Drive and Crossbrook Circle: 5:55 p.m.; Baron Drive and Baron Lane: 6:10 p.m.; Emerald Lane and Emerald Park Drive: 6:20 p.m.; Lime Creek Lane and Lime Creek Way: 6:35 p.m.; Lime Creek Lane and Lime Creek Bend: 6:45 p.m.; Lime Creek Lane and Lime Creek Circle: 6:55 p.m. If you have questions, call 991-5267 or go to or Chelsea Fire and Rescue on Facebook.

A Christmas tradition will continue this year as Santa Claus hitches rides with Chelsea Fire and Rescue and the Cahaba Valley Fire and Emergency Medical District on Saturday, Dec. 17. “Through the magic of Christmas, that only Santa can create, Santa will take two different routes to be sure he visits all the children he can, no matter their age,” according to Cahaba Valley Fire Department. Both fire departments have released schedules for when and where Santa plans to stop. The schedules are approximate, however, and may be affected by emergencies or traffic.



Essex Drive and Cliff Road: 1 p.m.; Woodbury Drive and Forest Park Road: 1:20 p.m.; Woodbury Drive and Landale Drive: 1:30 p.m.; Forest Lakes Parkway and Forest Lakes Lane: 1:40 p.m.; Forest Lakes Lane and Forest Lakes Boulevard: 1:50 p.m.; Foothills Ledge and Foothills Parkway: 2 p.m.; Foothills Trace and Foothills Parkway: 2:10 p.m.; Fire Station 31 (160 Chesser Drive): 2:20 p.m.; Chesser Park Drive and Chesser Loop Road: 2:30 p.m.; Chesser Plantation Lane and Scarlet Court: 2:40 p.m.; Chesser Plantation Lane and Chesser Circle: 2:50 p.m.; Signal Valley Trail and Skyridge: 3 p.m.; Polo Field Way and Polo Downs: 3:10 p.m.; Greenbrier Place in the cul-de-sac: 3:20 p.m.; Parkmont Lane and Parkmont Way: 4 p.m.; Fairbank Lane and Chelsea Park Bend: 4:10 p.m.; Chelsea Park Bend and Chelsea Park Ridge: 4:20 p.m.; Fairbank Way and Preston Lane: 4:30 p.m.; Lake Chelsea Dr. and Lake Chelsea Court: 4:40 p.m.; Shorefront Lane and Shoreline Way: 4:55 p.m.; Kings Ranch and Highway 109: 5:15 p.m.; Chelsea Ridge Road and Highway 49: 5:25 p.m.; Highway 49 and Spring Branch Road: 5:35 p.m.; Lester’s Chapel and Highway 47: 5:45 p.m.; Tara Drive and Bonnie Blue Lane: 6 p.m.; Liberty Cove and Liberty Court: 6:15

Santa will ride on Chelsea and Cahaba Valley fire trucks during this year’s Santa Stop, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 17. Staff photo.

p.m.; Liberty Ridge Road and Country Cove: 6:25 p.m.; Little Creek Circle and Helms Drive: 6:35 p.m.; Pin Oak Drive and Sassafras Circle: 6:50 p.m.; Sweet Gum Drive and Beech Circle: 7 p.m.; Twin Oaks Circle and Twin Oaks Way: 7:10 p.m.


Highway 69 and Highway 47 at gas station: 1 p.m.; Twelve Oaks in cul-de-sac: 1:10 p.m.; Fire Station 32, (1469 Highway 69): 1:20 p.m.; Shelby Forest Drive and Shelby Forest Trail: 1:40 p.m.; Shelby Forest Way and Shelby Forest Court: 1:50 p.m.; Woodbridge Trail and Woodbridge Drive: 2 p.m.; Cameron Drive and Cameron Circle: 2:10 p.m.; Grand Vista Way and Alta Vista Drive: 2:20 p.m.;

Matador and El Camino Real: 2:30 p.m.; El Camino Real and Caballo Circle: 2:40 p.m.; River Birch and Mimosa Circle: 2:50 p.m.; Sunset Lake Drive and Sunset Lake Circle: 3 p.m.; Sydney Place: 3:10 p.m.; Hodgens Road and Shady Branch Circle: 3:20 p.m.; Chelsea Station Drive and Chelsea Station Circle (Clubhouse): 3:30 p.m.; Brynleigh Drive and Brynhurst Drive: 3:40 p.m.; King Home Drive at Kinnebrew Drive: 4:20 p.m.; Branch Drive and Brook Circle: 4:30 p.m.; Highway 338 and Rich Drive: 4:40 p.m.; Highway 338 and Charob Lake Trail: 4:50 p.m.; Redemption Church and Highway 39: 5:05 p.m.; Ashton Woods Drive and Woodcrest Circle: 5:15 p.m.; Hunter Hills Drive and Hunter Hills Circle: 5:25 p.m.; Windstone Parkway and Windstone

Kenley Way: 8 a.m.; Colonial Village Inverness Rental Info Center: 8:20 a.m.; Colonial Village Inverness mail boxes: 8:30 a.m.; Cahaba Beach Road: 8:40 a.m.; Beach Circle: 8:55 a.m.; Edenton Street/Portabella Road: 9:10 a.m.; Lenox Lane/Lenox Drive: 9:25 a.m.; Cahaba Lakes Clubhouse: 9:40 a.m.; Eagle Ridge Lane (The Hills of Brook Highland): 9:55 a.m.; Eagle Ridge Drive (Eagle Ridge Apartments): 10:05 a.m.; Eagle Ridge Drive (Eagle Ridge Townes): 10:20 a.m.; Meadow Drive (Club House): 10:35 a.m.; Brook Highland Lane (mail station): 10:50 a.m.; Stone Brook (all streets): 11:05 a.m.; Magnolia Place: 11:25 a.m.; Calumet Drive: 11:45 a.m.; Brook Highland (all streets): 12:45 p.m.; The Narrows (all streets): 2:20 p.m.; Forest Parks 280: 4:15 p.m.


Turtle Lake Apartments: 8 a.m.; Stone Crest Apartments: 8:20 a.m.; Eagle Point: 8:40 a.m.; Highland Lakes: 10:15 a.m.; Aaronvale Circle: 1:45 p.m.; Villa Belvedere/Belvedere Cove: 2 p.m.; Regent Park: 2:20 p.m.; Highland Village Trail: 2:35 p.m.; Mt. Laurel: 2:50 p.m.; Mt. Laurel Avenue/Olmsted St/Mt. Laurel Park: 3:30 p.m.; Old Dunnavant Valley Road: 3:50 p.m.; Dunnavant Place/Birch Creek II: 4:05 p.m.; Birch Creek: 4:35 p.m. If you have questions or want more information, call 991-5266 or go to cahabavalleyfire. org.

December 2016 • A25

Meadow Brook Runs 5K and Fun Run returns this Christmas season. Photo courtesy of Bob Cosby.

22nd annual Meadow Brook Runs rounding corner Dec. 17 By CAROLINE CARMICHAEL The 22nd Annual Meadow Brook Runs 5K and Fun Run benefiting The Jesus Video Project of Alabama, Inc. is ready for Dec. 17. “I’m looking forward to another great Christmastime community event in this 22nd year of our races,” said race director and CEO of the Jesus Video Project of Alabama Bob Cosby. “It has been encouraging to get calls from new sponsors wanting to participate.” The 5K and Fun Run event is hosted by USAmeriBank and supported by 180 sponsors. “I’m big on food,” Cosby said, “so I’m looking forward to Steak ‘n Shake, Chickfil-A, Papa John’s Pizza, Cowboy Chicken, Golden Flake, Bud’s Best Cookies, Smoothie King, Starbucks and a host of others.” Sporting Christmas T-shirts, participants will also enjoy a gorgeous running course, indoor facilities and opportunities to win

prizes, he said. “Best Swag in a Bag” gift bags will offer an assortment of coupons from popular area merchants. Additional features include the releasing of lovebirds honoring the memories of Ellis Porch and Richard Tankersley and the provision of “Flowers for Finishers” by Norton’s Florist. The 5K race begins at 9 a.m.; the one-mile Fun Run is at 10 a.m. An awards ceremony at 10:30 a.m. will include prize drawings. For admission, voluntary tax-deductible contributions can be made to the 501(c)(3) The Jesus Video Project of Alabama, Inc. A minimum donation of $15 is encouraged. Late registration and packet pickup will be open from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. the day of the event. For more information or to register, go to

AWC’s Scottie Jackson stands with a Eurasion eagle-owl, the Alabama Wildlife Center’s most recent education ambassador. Photo by Erica Techo.

Alabama Wildlife Center craft, bake sale to support educational efforts By ERICA TECHO From baked goods to birds, it will all be at the Alabama Wildlife Center’s annual Holiday Craft and Bake Sale fundraiser. The event, set for Dec. 3 at Veterans Park, will have a variety of items for sale, including homemade baked goods, nature-themed ornaments and decorations, homemade jam and jellies, frozen casseroles, smoked hams and turkey breasts, original artwork of wildlife and nature, bird feeders and houses, jewelry, handmade quilts and other items. “It’s just a variety of great gift items. Really, it’s a one-stop shop to take care of your holiday needs while helping a wonderful cause,” said Doug Adair, executive director of the AWC. In addition to the items for sale, attendees will be able to take photos with Santa and

meet glove-trained education birds from the AWC. The holiday sale is the main fundraiser for AWC, which cares for almost 2,000 wild birds annually and aims to provide medical care to injured or orphaned birds while also offering education on Alabama’s native wildlife. In addition to continuing that care, Adair said there are other exciting plans at the center’s headquarters at Oak Mountain State Park. “We are working on upgrading our public spaces, and we are also raising funds for a new education enclosure that will house our newest education ambassador, education raptor, which is the largest owl species in the world — the Eurasian eagle owl — and also we have plans in the future to add bald eagles to our education program,” Adair said. The craft and bake sale will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Veterans Park on Valleydale Road.

A26 • December 2016

280 Living

Children’s holiday events scheduled along US 280 Students from Mt Laurel Elementary take part in holiday crafts to celebrate the season. Photo courtesy of Sheila Alaniz.

By CAROLINE CARMICHAEL The holiday season is speeding around the corner, and groups up and down U.S. 280 are ready. Several businesses and community hot spots are fueling Christmas cheer and the holiday spirit with children’s activities, ranging from breakfast with Santa to holiday-themed book readings.


His stomach jiggles like a bowl full of jelly, and that might just be because of all of the breakfasts he has with the community. Anyone wanting to dine with Saint Nick has a few options this December: Riverchase United Methodist Church ► Where: 1953 Old Montgomery Highway, in the Christian Life Center gymnasium ► Date: Saturday, Dec. 3 ► Time: 7:30-9 a.m. ► Admission: One new, unwrapped toy per person, for children in need ► More information: Register at Deadline to register is Wednesday, Nov. 30. Village Tavern ► Where: The Summit, 101 Summit Blvd. ► Date: Saturday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec.


► Time: 8:30-10 a.m. ► Features: Photos with Santa, breakfast, crafts and more ► Admission: $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 4-10, free for ages 3 and under ► More information: To register, visit North Shelby Library ► Where: 5521 Cahaba Valley Road ► Date: Saturday, Dec. 10 ► Time: 9-10:30 a.m. ► Features: Santa, breakfast and

Christmas crafts ► Admission: $5 per person, due at registration ► More information: Call 439-5509 or visit the library to register. For more events, visit


For anyone already full on pancake and holiday breakfast, there’s still a chance to meet and take pictures with Santa Claus. Here are a few stops he is making along the 280 corridor. Inverness Elementary ► Where: 5251 Valleydale Road ► More information: Santa meets

kindergarteners, staff photos with Santa. For more events, visit ies/calendar.html. Mt Laurel Elementary ► Where: 1 Jefferson Place, Birmingham ► More information: Santa photos with students on Dec. 2. For more events, visit


Some of the best parts of Christmas are when you are curled up in front of the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. Libraries and bookstores are hosting storytimes throughout the 280 Living coverage area. Barnes & Noble ► Where: The Summit, 201 Summit Blvd.,

Suite 100 ► Polar Express Pajama Storytime: Friday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m.; coloring and other activities. ► “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”: Saturday, Dec. 3, at 11 a.m.; good deed badges, tracking booklets and activities. ► Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball: Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.; dancing, music and other activities. North Shelby Library – Pajama “Christmas Storytime” ► Where: 5521 Cahaba Valley Road ► Pajama “Christmas Storytime”: Thursday, Dec. 1, at 6:30 p.m. ► More information: For more holiday events, visit

December 2016 • A27

National Wreaths Across America Day to honor vets Jefferson Memorial Gardens at 2701 John Hawkins Parkway in Hoover is one of 14 participating cemeteries in the state of Alabama, and it will have a memorial service before its wreath-laying ceremony Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. Staff photo.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Individuals will gather this month to honor veterans on National Wreaths Across America Day. The nationwide event, which aims to place a wreath on the graves of all war veterans, is set for Dec. 17. In coordination with the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, there are more than 1,100 participating locations across the United States, including several in the greater Birmingham area. Jefferson Memorial Gardens at 2701 John Hawkins Parkway in Hoover is one of 14 participating cemeteries in the state of Alabama, and it will have a memorial service before its wreath-laying ceremony Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. The ceremony will take place in the Field of Honor near the back of the cemetery, and volunteers will place wreaths on the 650 veterans’ graves. National Wreaths Across America Day started in 1992 when Morrill Worcester’s wreath company gave a surplus of 5,000 wreaths for veterans’ graves at Arlington. Over the years, it has expanded, and in 2007, Wreaths Across America was formed as a nonprofit. Wreaths Across America Executive Director Karen Worcester said the purpose of the event is “not to decorate graves. We’re here to remember not their deaths, but their lives.” Volunteers who place wreaths on graves are encouraged to say the veterans’ names aloud and take a moment to thank them for their service to our country to keep their memories alive. Local groups coordinate the efforts across the country. In Hoover, the event is sponsored by the Alabama Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers. The organization is made up of local mothers who have lost children in military action.

Marynell Winslow, whose son died in Iraq, has been a part of this effort since 2009. She is the president of the American Gold Star Mothers for the state of Alabama and also the local coordinator for the Hoover site where her son is buried. “The program has built up the past few years, and donations from local businesses have allowed us to place a wreath on every veteran’s gravesite,” Winslow said. “Last year we had about 50 volunteers.”

The wreaths are $15, and $5 of that goes to the American Gold Star Mothers. They use the money to help locally. Some of their efforts include putting a bench in the American Village in Montevallo along with a monument at the National Cemetery in Montevallo. They also had an air conditioner installed at the Veteran’s Center in Homewood. “Anyone who wants to help purchase a wreath or provide any support is appreciated,”

Winslow said. “There are around 650 graves to cover at Jefferson Memorial.” Winslow said local company McLeod Software has made donations for this event the last several years. “We are happy to receive corporate donations, as well as from individuals,” she said. To volunteer to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony or to donate to the local fundraising group, select their local cemetery at

A28 • December 2016

280 Living

Faith Life Actually By Kari Kampakis

The gift of Christmas grace It was a simple task, really, and one that many families had successfully carried out before us. Our church asked our family to take care of baby Jesus in the week leading up to Christmas. On the last Sunday of Advent, we set up the Nativity. We then brought Jesus to our home for safekeeping, swaddled in a purple blanket. It was 30 minutes before the start of Christmas Eve Mass, as I was rushing to get ready and sweep everyone out the door, when the accident occurred. One of my daughters was carrying Jesus around in the swaddle when suddenly he slipped out of the purple cloth. The wooden figure broke in two places, around the ankle and the wrist. I couldn’t believe what had happened, but then again, I could. I’d worried all along that this might happen, but even my worst scenario didn’t play out like this, right before the service. As my family drove to church, I was upset and tense. I wondered why we couldn't be normal and handle this sacred assignment. Naturally the church was packed, and as we walked into the vestibule, the two priests leading the service waved me over. They quickly shared instructions of how our

family would walk in the procession behind the Gospel carrier, head to the Nativity, and give baby Jesus to the priest so he could lay Jesus in the manger. I nodded … and with a knot in my stomach and a deep breath, I admitted what had happened 30 minutes earlier. There was a brief silence as the priests absorbed the event and I apologized profusely, promising to replace baby Jesus or fix him. I told them how this wooden figure was currently super-glued back together and would require careful handling. Much to my relief, both priests responded kindly to my embarrassing confession. They told me it was OK, that these things happen. And then, to my surprise, one of them asked which daughter accidentally dropped Jesus. He wanted to have a quick word with her. I’ll never forget the look on my daughter’s face as she saw Father Bob walking toward her in his formal Christmas robes. She looked so frightened that my heart went out to her, and as she dropped her head in shame, refusing to make eye contact, I knew this encounter would have a lifelong impact. Thankfully, Father Bob was not there to lecture my daughter. Instead he offered her comfort, using his position of authority to

reassure her tender heart. “Sweetheart,” he said, crouching to her level, “it’s OK. Remember how I told you last week that we’ve lost donkey ears and other pieces over the years? We have a man who can fix these things. It’s happened before. Please don’t worry about it.” I could literally see the heavy blanket of shame lift off my daughter’s shoulders as Father Bob showed her love when she least expected it. It was amazing to witness the relief on her face as she cautiously and slowly lifted her head, looked him in his eyes, and smiled. Then and there, she experienced the gift of grace. She gained a real-world understanding of how her heavenly Father loves her. I couldn’t help but note the timing of this grace too, and how fitting that it came on the eve of Jesus’ birthday. Brokenness and grace go hand in hand. And while it’s easy to assume that God expects absolute perfection from us (and nothing less), the truth is that God loves us even when we mess up. He sent His son down from heaven to save us, not condemn us. In Mark 2:17 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but

sinners.” What this means is that there’s hope for everyone. The mistakes we believe will shut doors with God can actually open doors if we honestly go before Him, admit what we did, and ask for forgiveness. My daughter’s mishap with baby Jesus ultimately led to grace. It allowed her to witness the merciful side of God that I hope will enrich and deepen her faith. This Christmas season, I hope you’ll remember how that grace is available to you as well. Even when your head is hanging, even when you’re burdened by a sense of shame, God is ready to show you love. Through the birth of Jesus, He delivered grace into our world, a grace that can transform your life and your future when your heart is open to receive it. Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Birmingham mom of four girls, columnist and blogger for The Huffington Post. She has written two books for teen and tween girls, “Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For?” and “10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know,” that are available online and everywhere books are sold. You can join Kari’s Facebook community at “Kari Kampakis, Writer,” visit her blog at or contact her at

December 2016 • A29

Opinion My South By Rick Watson

Christmas Wish Book, then and now Now the countdown can begin for anything expensive. Christmas at the Watson household. “What about a new winter outfit?” We’ve been clandestinely ordering Jilda suggested. He jumped all over that presents for months. But on the Friday with, “No, my mom takes care of my after Thanksgiving, we had a crew of clothing needs. I think you guys and kids playing in our backyard, so I took Santa should focus on toys and games.” the opportunity to do a little reconnaisGood answer, I thought. sance work for the jolly fat guy. And He’s almost 8 years old and brilliant for his age, but I shook my head at the what I found was that kids think about Christmas much the same way we did way he framed his answer to our ques60 years ago. tion. I might have thought that same Asking my great-niece Joy if she’d thing when I was his age, but my answer been good for Santa this year, she would have been a lot more direct. “I’d Watson rather have toys.” glanced uneasily at her older sister Daisy. The 3-year-old seemed to be In the 1950s, the Sears Christmas mentally sorting through some of the events over the Wish Book hit our mailbox in the fall. They got it into past year when Daisy bailed her out by reporting, “She’s the homes early enough to torture kids for months. That been good.” was a genius move on their part, because it gave families That was excellent news, I said to the child, who was in rural areas of the country a chance to help Santa shop obviously relieved. for their children. When we discussed Christmas gifting with Jordan, Those pages were “visual crack” for most kids. By the my great-nephew who lives next door, he gave care- time Christmas rolled around, the pages were dog-eared ful consideration to what gifts he’d like Jilda and me and worn as thin as onionskin. to get him. I’m sure in his mind he was clicking off Our TV was black and white in those days, and I things he’d like along with the associated price tags. think toy manufacturers believed that TV was a fad, and He’s very mindful of money and rarely asks us for not a media outlet where they should sink a significant

portion of their advertising dollars. I do remember advertisements for Slinkys and View-Master slide views. These looked like binoculars, but you poked in a round cardboard disk with tiny color photographs in cutout slots in the disk. You would point the View-Master toward the light and click a lever, which advanced the pictures. Santa brought me one of those. These days, sales pitches inundate children’s programming on TV and fill their parent’s email inboxes with the latest and greatest in technology toys, games and other high-dollar offerings. Jilda and I don’t have kids, but we find ways to spend Christmas dollars on our nieces and nephews. We try to get them things they might enjoy but probably aren’t on their “A” list. We look for unique toys, books and games that will endure long after the Christmas lights are packed away for another year. I know the Christmas Wish Book is pretty much a thing of the past, but if it were the only way to reach children today, I’d bet they would enjoy it as much as we did when we were kids. Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, “Life Goes On,” is available on You can contact him via email at

Turning Up the Heat This Winter!

A30 • December 2016

280 Living


CONTINUED from page A1 Rogers Trading Company’s history in the Birmingham area was ever changing, whether it was in location or in inventory. Rogoff’s father, Louis Rogoff, opened the store after World War II in a building at Second Avenue and 24th Street North. “He started his business after the war — 1946,” Rogoff said. “Everybody came out of the war and started probably 100 Army/Navy stores because that’s just what they did.” The store continued to specialize in Army/ Navy surplus for several years, even after Rogoff joined his father in 1971. He had just graduated college and worked alongside his father until 1977, when he died. “I only had about six years [working] with him,” Rogoff said. About three years later, Rogoff bought the old O.Z. Hall Ford building on First Avenue, now the location of Intermark Advertising, and expanded the store. He also worked on establishing a good marketing strategy for the store, Rogoff said. “What I did is I camouflaged the entire building,” Rogoff said. “I painted the outside just to be like the military, and we nicknamed it, from a marketing standpoint. We called it the ugliest building in town, and it worked.” For years after that, Rogoff said people would make comments like, “Oh, are you that ugly building downtown?” Victor Lightfoot has worked at Rogers for nearly 24 years, and he recalls stopping by the Army surplus store, and then hunting and fishing store, with his dad, “never knowing that one day I would end up working there.” Lightfoot was hired in 1993 after his former employer was planning to move out of state. “It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Lightfoot said. “If I like a job, I’m a longtime person at that job.” The move to First Avenue also brought a change in inventory. The store started selling lifestyle clothing and hunting and fishing gear, but Rogoff said they eventually transitioned to outdoor clothing because of the other strong hunting and fishing stores in the area. “It’s been very exciting because for him

Rogers Trading Company specializes in outdoor clothing. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

[Rogoff] to transition this place from an Army/ Navy store to what it is now, it’s amazing to me,” Lightfoot said. “It’s a totally different atmosphere.” In the early 2000s, however, retail was changing. More stores were opening in the suburbs, and Rogoff said they realized they needed to move out that way, too. “The Summit changed the landscape for retail in metro Birmingham everywhere, and we felt the effects of it, too,” he said, “because The Summit was way out here [down U.S. 280], and we’re way up here [in downtown]. So we went looking for a different location to add to, and what we found is the building behind Full Moon BBQ.” That location opened, and a little while later, in 2001, the downtown store closed. “When we came out here, across the street, we got into the women’s contemporary business, and we found that to just be incredibly challenging,” Rogoff said. They stuck with

women’s contemporary for about five years, he said, and then returned to their outdoor clothing model. While the first location on U.S. 280 immediately saw interest from residents along the U.S. 280 corridor, Rogoff said he was ready to go back to owning his own building. “At the end of eight years, I wanted to be back in control of my destiny,” he said. “And you can’t be in control of your destiny when you have a landlord.” That’s when Rogoff purchased the location behind Logan’s Roadhouse. Even though they are not directly on the highway, Rogoff said the store has been a “destination store.” Once people know where they are, they will continue to come back. And when it comes to return customers, he said the key is customer service. “We call ourselves ‘mom and pop’ stores, and the key to our success is service,” he said. “We really take pride in that we’ll know you

by name when you come in; we’ll treat you right. We don’t have multiple stores. We talk to you, ‘What are you looking for? What do you need?’” The family atmosphere of the store applies to both the employees and the customers, Lightfoot said. “Ever since it started, it’s like all the customers that have come here are longtime customers,” he said. “They’re generational customers.” For the last 45 years, seven days a week, Rogoff said service and the customers at Rogers Trading Company have been his focus. But after 45 years, he said he just felt like it was time to step away. “It really does, it controls you,” he said. “It owns you. Seven days a week, retail. The only thing worse than this is food.” The retail landscape is also changing once again, with a greater focus on online stores and online shopping — something Rogers has decided not to do. Deciding to leave now, Rogoff said, feels like the perfect time and the right decision. Once they close up, Rogoff also plans to lease out the building. “All I can say is I’ve enjoyed working around [the customers] and providing a service for them,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got a great group of honest, likable, friendly customers here, and I’m going to miss them just about how much I’m going to miss working at Rogers.” There is no end date on the store’s retirement sale; it will continue until they’ve sold their inventory. And at the end of the sale, they’ll raffle off an iconic part of the store — their jeep. The jeep has been parked at the store for several years, and it has always been a conversation piece. “All these kids would come in and say, ‘Oh, I got to sit in the jeep,’ and their grandfathers would come in and say, ‘I drove that jeep in World War II,’” Rogoff said. Rogers Trading Company has seen several changes in its history, and Rogoff said he hopes to see their customers come back one last time. “We’re very appreciative for everything, and hope some of these people will come to say goodbye,” he said.

December 2016 • A31 LIGHTS

CONTINUED from page A1

Zach Cloutier programs Christmas lights to go along with music for his family’s Christmas display. Photo by Erica Techo.

year he aims to make the display larger than the last. Cloutier has built up his collection of lights over the years, adding more lawn decorations along the way. “Doing the Christmas lights, that’s something I really started back when I was in my 20s,” Cloutier said. “I just always had an obsession with Christmas lights. It just morphed through the years, and as I had kids, the tradition just kind of took off to where come November, we start decorating.” This year, Cloutier’s 17-year-old son, Zach Cloutier, started doing work to program their nearly 30,000 Christmas lights to different holiday songs. The lights are switched on and off by controllers — a new addition to this year’s display — and will go along with the beat of the songs. Making this addition is “a whole new adventure,” Cloutier said, but ramping up their decorations is a yearly tradition. When they decided to add the controllers, Cloutier said the community of fellow Christmas light enthusiasts provided tips. “There’re communities, there’re tons of people who are crazy just like me,” he said. “We have our own Facebook groups. It’s like a community of us crazy light people, and we get on there. If you have problems, they can help.” With his house situated on the corner of County Road 39 and Alabama 69, Cloutier’s decorations are easily spotted by drivers. The intersection is a high-traffic area, and Cloutier said his main hope is to help spread the holiday spirit and a few smiles. Growing up in a single-parent home, Cloutier said he saw the times when trying to meet the hype and expectations around Christmas presents was difficult. “It can be really, really rough on families trying to do all that,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me that those bad days kind of go away when they come by. To me, that makes me happy. That gives me a good Christmas.” Lime Creek resident Casey Morris drives by Cloutier’s house every day and said he is always impressed by the holiday display. Morris’s 4-year-old daughter Alyssa is also impressed.

“I think it’s awesome,” Morris said. “It’s a variety of decorations, ‘Frozen’ characters — that’s what catches Alyssa’s attention. When we drive by, she’ll say, ‘Look, it’s Anna and Elsa.’” People will stop their cars on the road to say how much they love the lights, Morris said, and he has only heard positive reactions to the display. “It brings happiness to the people,” Morris said. “It’s hard not to smile when you’re coming through there.” Cloutier also receives the Clark Griswold Award from his neighbors, he said, which includes a couple of Christmas cookies. Although the sheer magnitude of the display resembles the Griswolds’ home, Cloutier said he takes a few precautions to ensure he doesn’t run into the same lighting issues. An extravagant lighting display means Cloutier often gets questions about the process and his supplies, but some of the most popular questions are the cost. “Everyone asks, ‘What’s your power bill do?’” Cloutier said. His response surprises some people, but with a nearly completely LED lighting display, it is cheaper to power his display than it is to run the AC in July. Buying lights can be costly, but splurging on the LED lights ends up saving him in the long run, Cloutier said. He also strategizes on when he will spend, opting to buy lights at places that hold large Christmas sales during the summer or filling up a few shopping carts in after-Christmas sales. And when it comes to pulling out the lights to hang, Cloutier is careful to test each strand before it goes up. Then, he’ll fix the ones he can, save the dead strands for parts and move forward. Avoiding a dead and fully mounted lighting display is easy, Cloutier said — just hang the lights while they’re on and put them on one at a time. The whole process for his house takes about 70 to 80 hours of work spread over a few weeks to accommodate for his work schedule and his sons’ school schedule. “We’ll turn on the Christmas music, although my wife says we’re not allowed to until Dec. 1, and it’s time out, a good time together,” Cloutier said. “It’s a good family activity, like other people have biking or hunting … we’re the Christmas light hanging family.”

280 Living neighborly news & entertainment



Sports B4 School House B10 Gift Guide B14


Striking it rich

Still-blossoming competitive high school sport — bowling — catching on with Spain Park girls


By KYLE PARMLEY t started out as something fun to do over two years ago. One would never assume that now while watching Spain Park’s Julianna Cross bowl. Cross looks up on the monitor and realizes it’s her time to step to the lane. She grabs her towel — a hand towel that appears to have been used heavily over the years — and begins wiping her hands meticulously, to ensure that no moisture or debris will alter her next frame. She grabs her personal bowling ball and inspects it by spinning it through her hands a few times. Her fingers fit the holes perfectly. She now turns toward the lane, her eyes peering over the bowling ball raised to her face. She aligns her feet with the target and flexes her knees. A few steps will get her from where she is standing to the foul line. Her approach has been repeated many times. She knows that rolling the ball squarely into the front pin would cause an undesired split. She hits the front pin slightly off-center. In the blink of an eye, the pins are gone. Strike.

Julianna Cross has established herself as one of Spain Park’s top bowlers after picking up the sport on a whim. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

See BOWLING | page B16

B2 • December 2016

280 Living

Your Health Today By Dr. Irma Leon Palmer

We’ve all peeked down the aisles at Sprouts, Whole Foods or various health stores and seen the never-ending rows of herbs and vitamins and more than likely thought, “How do I know which are right for me?” We believe that God gave us all the tools to heal our bodies in plants, foods and herbs. In both Ezekiel and Revelation, two books of the Bible, it says “the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations”. The nearly magical effects of whole food supplements and herbs are amazing to watch, and they don’t come with the long list of possible side effects. But again the questions arise, which herbs or supplements do I need? Where should I start? At Chiropractic Today, education is our passion! Guiding our patients to a better understanding of the amazing body God has given them, and how to bring it to full working capacity. For this one brief installment, we will highlight one amazing herb that has countless uses. It is probably an herb you have heard of, but you may not realize the vastly important role it plays in so many aspects of your health… That herb is Echinacea! As you may know, the whole food supplement line commonly used by chiropractors is Standard Process. These high-quality supplements provide the body with nutrients in their whole food form, therefore making them much more bioavailable and easily assimilated into the body to fill in the gaps where even our best attempts at good nutrition can be lacking. What many may not realize is that Standard Process has a research-backed herbal line named MediHerb. Herbs act as the acute, or fast-acting, approach for ailments

The skinny on Echinacea

such as faulty digestion, chronic stress, sleep issues, sinus infections, brain fog and so much more! MediHerb has developed a powerful product called Echinacea Premium. Thanks to the extensive research by Dr Kerry Bone, the co-founder of MediHerb, two main species of Echinacea, Echinacea Purpurea and Echinacea Angustifolia, were combined and amazing synergistic effects were observed. These two species specifically contain extremely high levels of “alkylamides”, which boost white cell count, our natural killer cells. Echinacea’s most well-known attribute is its immunity boosting function, encouraging healthy immune response following stress or changes in atmospheric conditions. With that being said, research has shown that Echinacea’s number one role is to facilitate or modulate the immune system once a stimulant or threat is presented to the body. When coworkers, children or others around you are getting sick, or once you feel you are coming down with something, Echinacea is the best thing to turn to for an immediate “allhands-on-deck” response from your body. However, Echinacea’s properties do not simply lie in its immune response factors. Echinacea plays a surprisingly large role in bringing balance to the HPA Axis – the Hyopthalamus, Pituitary and Adrenal Cortex which regulates and balances cortisol levels. When people live under chronic stress, thus straining and draining the adrenal glands, cortisol levels remain way too high. Imbalance in cortisol levels can cause fatigue, depression, weight changes, immune suppression, increased thirst,

high blood sugar, and irritability. Our cortisol levels are naturally higher in the morning, preparing for the activity and stress of the day ahead. However, if the body is not capable of balancing out this heightened level, symptoms and problems begin popping up. Echinacea plays an important role is bringing equilibrium to this process. A third, out of many, roles Echinacea plays is in the production of heat shock proteins. To simplify, these products exist in our cells and cause cellular resiliency against attacks and toxic threats. We must protect our health all the way down to the cellular level to ensure present and future vitality and disease protection. Are all Echinacea supplements created equal? Why choose Mediherb over a cheaper, drug-store brand? Putting the tablet in your mouth is the most accurate and immediate test you can use to test its efficacy. If your mouth does not immediately begin to have a tingling sensation, throw it away. The high amount of alkyalmides are found in the root of the Echinacea plant, which the hardest part to harvest. Lower quality supplements will use the more easily accessible flowering part of the plant that grows above ground. Also, as mentioned above, MediHerb’s research-backed compounding of both angustifolia and purpurea species, has strengthened the effects of both. At Chiropractic Today, we often remind our patients that if you spend a little more money on your health now, you will more than likely save money on doctors’ bills later. Better to be preventative than reactionary when it comes to health. Contact us today to have better health tomorrow!!

December 2016 • B3

B4 • December 2016

280 Living

Sports Westminster Oak Mountain girls win 1st state title By SAM CHANDLER Maddie Hoaglund made the choice, and it helped make the difference. Near the 2-mile mark at Oakville Indian Mounds Park, the Westminster School at Oak Mountain senior told herself she would not let another runner beat her, no matter how much it hurt. As grass and gravel passed underfoot, Hoaglund willed herself through the race’s final third. She did not relent until crossing the 5K finish line a season-best 19 minutes, 53.61 seconds, which was good for fourth place. “I was trying to push my hardest,” she said. Hoaglund’s top-five finish in the Class 1A-2A girls race at the Nov. 12 AHSAA State Cross Country Championships spurred Westminster to its first state cross-country title in school history. The Knights prevailed over their closest competitor, Hatton, 42-88. “They were fierce, beautifully fierce, and they fought for each other and the two seniors that were leaving,” head coach Leslie Callahan said. “They were bigger collectively than they were for themselves. Therefore, all the little things they did all season paid off.” Each of the team’s top five runners clocked season-best times and finished among the race’s top 14 positions. The top 15 individuals earned All-State honors. Junior Sarah Kate Lipperd placed seventh in 20:10.89; eighth-grader Hallie Porterfield placed 11th in 21:03.51; senior Camryn Neal placed 12th in 21:05.81; and freshman Arden McCullough placed 14th in 21:21.20.

Overall, Westminster put eight runners in the top 28. Only one other school had five in the top 30. “They executed exactly what the plan was all season — to get them to pack up,” Callahan said. “They did, and they did well.” The fifth-year coach labeled it a “sweet” victory for a Westminster team that had finished runner-up the past two years. The Knights fell to St. Bernard by six points in 2014 and by one point in 2015. This year, they left nothing to chance. “I just wasn’t ever expecting it to happen, and then it did, and it’s just the most incredible thing,” Hoaglund said after the race. “The Holy Spirit was with our team today, and it was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. It’s crazy.” No one could question Hoaglund’s shock in the aftermath of such a significant breakthrough. She had been a cornerstone of the program since 2011, when the Knights struggled to find enough runners to field a varsity team. Callahan arrived in 2012, and Westminster has since qualified for state every year. Gradually, the Knights crept into title contention, as third-place showings in 2012 and 2013 preceded the pair of runner-up finishes the past two years. But on Nov. 12, the momentum that had been building finally reached its breaking point. The Knights, at last, found themselves on top. “It’s nice when your efforts really show how much work you put in,” Callahan said. “It doesn’t always work out that way; it’s such a treat when it does.”

The Westminster School at Oak Mountain girls cross-country team won its first state cross-country title in program history at the AHSAA State Cross Country Championships Nov. 12. Photo by Sam Chandler.

Although the girls stole the show, the Westminster boys also posted a strong team performance at the state meet. Eighth-grader Hunter Wright led his Knights to a third-place finish with 85 points. St. Bernard (58) and Cold Springs (64) took first and second in1A-2A. A rising star, Wright notched a sixth-place finish in a personal-best 17:03.55. “He is just so talented and loves running so much,” Callahan said. “The future is very bright.” Sophomore John Porterfield joined Wright as an All-State honoree. He finished 15th in 17:49.67. Pierce Moffett (19th, 17:57.57), Campbell

Lemons (23rd, 18:15.19) and Cooper Reynolds (30th, 18:40.38) rounded out the team’s scoring five.


The Oak Mountain High School boys cross-country team earned a fifth-place finish in the 7A division. Paced by All-State finishes from seniors Caleb Van Geffen (sixth, 16:00.64) and Cole Stidfole (12th, 16:11.58), the Eagles totaled 129 points. “We were hoping to do better,” Stidfole said, “but you can’t have your best day every day.” Bryce Keefover (41st, 16:48.69), Eric Marin (50th, 16:56.25) and Chris Tate (54th, 17:02.83) capped the team’s scoring five.

Let us help spread the news! Email to submit your announcement.

December 2016 • B5

Eagles close out successful season after advancing to state

Lions’ difficult schedule sets up strong end to season



The Oak Mountain High School volleyball team simply ran out of magic. The Eagles advanced to the AHSAA State Volleyball Championships for the first time since 2012, but fell to arguably the top Class 7A team, McGill-Toolen, 3-0 (19-25, 21-25, 9-25) in the quarterfinal round. “I am extremely proud,” said head coach Tien Le. “We had it tough. We had to beat Spain Park in the area, who is a very good team. In the first round of regionals, we had to beat Bob Jones.” Oak Mountain (28-19) navigated one of the most difficult areas in 7A, battling eventual state champion Mountain Brook and upstart Spain Park in Area 6. It took a win over the Jags in the area tournament just to advance. The Eagles then upset Bob Oak Mountain wrapped up a successful season with its first state tournament berth since 2012. Photo by Jones in a five-set thriller Oct. 21 in the super regional round, after Sarah Finnegan. overcoming a match point in the fourth set, to qualify for the Elite Eight at the it their objective from the outset to get back to the place they had yet to make it to in their CrossPlex. high school careers. But McGill proved too tough. “We’ve been working since our freshman “We were definitely in it the first two sets,” Le said. “We had opportunities to capitalize, year just to get out of area, and just making it but we weren’t quite as relaxed in this match out of area was icing on the cake,” said senior Mollie Grace Wade following the Bob Jones as we were against Bob Jones.” In the match, Jacoby Sims led the way with match. That will conclude the career of Eagle 12 kills, followed by eight from Torie Denkers and five from Ashley Treace. Kathryn Beard seniors Wade, Makenzie Warren and Sims. “The seniors are thrilled. State — since registered 17 assists and nine digs. Treace we haven’t been to state in four years — was added 13 assists. With this being Oak Mountain’s first state their goal. I’m real proud and happy for them,” trip since 2012, the seniors on the squad made Le said.

Their schedule prepared them well, as the Lions used a late season surge to advance to the AHSAA State Volleyball Championships in late October. In the state tournament quarterfinal round, the Briarwood Christian School volleyball team faced a tough Lawrence County team and fell, 3-0 (20-25, 21-25, 23-25), at the Birmingham CrossPlex. “The girls played hard,” head coach Jeff Robertson said. “They fought, competed every point. I was very proud of their fight and determination. We competed very well against a very good Lawrence County team. Today, they were the better team. That’s how it goes.” Briarwood won the Class 5A, Area 8 tournament by sweeping Moody and defeating Shelby County in four sets. That performance propelled them to the Class 5A Super Regionals, where the Lions won a pair of matches to seal its spot in Birmingham. At super regionals, they earned a fourset win over Carroll-Ozark, followed up with a sweep of Dallas County to clinch their first state tournament berth since 2011. Despite concluding with a 19-23 overall record, the Lions played just eight regular season matches against 5A competition, electing to face several 6A and 7A squads in preparation for the level of play in the postseason tournaments. “We knew our level of competition that we’d been playing was going to prepare us for a run in the postseason,” Robertson said. “They bought into that process, and it showed in the long run.” Partly due to that stiff competition, Briarwood went on an 11-match losing streak late in the season, but did not display the

Briarwood earned its first state tournament berth since 2011 after conquering the area and super regional tournaments. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

normal attitudes of a team in that situation. That’s because there’s a larger goal than the individual match results. “The process for us has been just every game, are we improving? As a team and individually. It really has encouraged us a ton this year. When we lose a game, it is a process to getting better and to getting to the ultimate goal of getting to the Elite Eight,” said senior Alex O’Brien. Robertson is in his 11th year at Briarwood, but he just completed his first as head coach. He said he is hoping to build upon the foundation set by coaches of years past, with the Lions winning seven Class 3A state titles in the 1990s. Briarwood bids farewell to two seniors in O’Brien and Natalie Crumpler, and will welcome back an experienced team next fall.

B6 • December 2016

280 Living

Friendship between Briarwood QB, center ‘hard to find’ Conner Hutson and William Gray have played football together since the third grade. Photo by Todd Kwarcinski.

By GARY LLOYD The photographs prove the friendship. One that exists is of the duo standing on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, both of the boys’ heads barely reaching Alabama head football coach Nick Saban’s shoulders. They weren’t even teenagers. Another shows the same two boys standing in gold pants and white jerseys, posing after a 21-17 win at Class 4A No. 5 Madison Academy Oct. 28. Their teenage years are almost over. Briarwood Christian School senior quarterback William Gray and senior center Conner Hutson have known each other since first grade and have played football together since third grade when they were members of the Cahaba Valley Lions. Hutson has been Gray’s center for all 10 years since. There are great memories, they said. There were the championship game appearances as fourth- and sixth-graders. There were the football camps in Tuscaloosa. There were the trips to college football games in West Virginia, since Hutson is a Mountaineer fan, and in Alabama. “I would always tease him about how West Virginia would beat Alabama, even though I knew that wasn’t even remotely possible,” Hutson said. “The amount of time and everything we know about each other, I would say we are best friends. When you’re friends with someone for 10 years, you have some pretty great stories to tell about them.” There were also some trying times. Hutson has had two knee surgeries. He tore his ACL his freshman year, missing the season. Last season, as a junior, he had surgery on his patellar tendon, which kept him out the majority of the year. “I just saw him a lot and encouraged him to keep rehabbing and keep with football,” Gray said. “I was just there for him.” Hutson said Gray definitely helped during

that process. “William is the ultimate encourager, and he knows how to fire me and other people up,” Hutson said. “He definitely kicked my butt about getting back on the field.” So much time together on and off the field helped Gray and Hutson become one of the best quarterback-center duos in the area. Rarely are they not on the same page when the football is snapped. “I know exactly how his snaps will be, and I trust our exchanges 100 percent,” Gray said. “It

also just feels normal and comfortable with him up front because we’ve been doing it so long.” Hutson said the quarterback-center connection never goes away. “He gets used to the placement and speed of the ball, so it helps William to not have to worry about where the snap will be every play,” Hutson said. Briarwood had one of its most successful seasons in recent memory, due in large part to Gray and Hutson. Now that the season and their football careers are over, focus shifts to

life after high school. Gray will attend the University of Alabama. Hutson will be pre-med at Auburn University. Both said they will stay in touch through text messages and seeing each other in Birmingham. “It’s important to me because of the special relationship and friendship I have with him,” Gray said. Hutson agreed. “It is very important that we stay in touch because a friendship like that is hard to find again,” he said.

December 2016 • B7

Jospeh Lanzi is one of four returning starters for Chelsea. Photo by Cari Dean.

Lofty goals becoming realistic for Hornets By KYLE PARMLEY The Chelsea High School boys basketball team has high hopes for the 2016-2017 season, and rightfully so. The Hornets return four of the five starters off a team that reached the Class 6A Northeast Regional for the first time in school history and had an opportunity to advance further. “For us, after the last two years, just winning the area was big. Getting to the Sweet 16, we just never had done that,” said head coach Nick Baumbaugh. The Hornets had not won an area tournament before last year since 1986 and never advanced past the sub-regional round. “I think our goals have changed, where before — obviously we want to win an area championship — it’s not that we settled for the regional last year, but I think we were OK with it. When that ended, I was sick to my stomach, knowing that we’re on the cusp,” Baumbaugh said. Chelsea’s loss to Center Point in the regional stung so intensely because the Hornets played well enough to win for the majority of the game, but a few lapses in the final minutes sent the Hornets to a crushing defeat. “We’re right there on the edge, and I don’t think this year’s any different,” Baumbaugh said. “Our goals are the same as last year. We want to get to the regional.” Aaron Washington is the only starter from last season’s squad that Baumbaugh has to replace. Washington averaged nearly 16 points per game as a senior and is now playing at Huntington College. Joseph Lanzi and Matthew Marquet

provided a great deal of production last season, and will be expected to do the same this year. Sam Towery and Josh Hanna are the two other returning starters that Chelsea will expect to produce an uptick in their numbers. With the returning experience, Baumbaugh did not have to dedicate as much preseason preparation to teaching as he normally would, but there is a fair number of players on this year’s squad who played on the junior varsity team last year — a successful group that posted an 18-3 record. Baumbaugh’s coaching style is not overly complicated. His teams will never out-gimmick another or throw dozens of different looks at the opponent during a game. Chelsea has its base set of principles and executes them well. “We like to run offense. We’re not a runand-gun style,” Baumbaugh said. “We tried to do that when I started here, but I learned very quickly that wasn’t going to work for us. That wasn’t our personnel. Our personnel says buckle down on the defensive end and offensively, have great possessions.” While not expecting to dominate teams on the defensive end, the Hornets’ focus is to “make the other team work for its baskets.” As far as advancing deep into the postseason, Chelsea faces a challenging road. Only the top two teams advance to the sub-regional round, and Class 6A, Area 10 consists of Pelham and Helena along with the Hornets. All three are expected to field high-quality teams, meaning that one dangerous team will be eliminated before the playoffs even begin. Chelsea certainly has the potential to ensure that it is not that team.

B8 • December 2016

280 Living

Eagles embracing challenge of replacing 7 seniors By KYLE PARMLEY Oak Mountain head boys basketball coach Chris Love estimated that his team lost to graduation roughly 85 to 90 percent of his team’s scoring and rebounding production from a season ago. That fact may scare a coach as he deals with the uncertainty of his new roster and how he may regain all of those lost contributions. Some coaches would sit back and be content with calling the 2016-2017 season a rebuilding campaign, to take some of the pressure off. The Eagles advanced to the Class 7A Northwest Regional Final a season ago and were a buzzer-beating shot away from advancing to the Final Four at the BJCC. Seven seniors from that team have since departed. But that’s not dampening any of Love’s eagerness to attack the season ahead. “We are really, really excited about everything we have coming back,” he said before the season began. “We’ve got a lot of quality minutes coming back, and we’re excited and ready to go.” That starts with three of Oak Mountain’s players who now hold the title of “senior leader.” Logan Sheaffer, Will Stephenson and Kris Hutchins were all contributors last season, and they will look to take lessons learned and apply them to the current season. “Last year, we had great team chemistry with all the seniors and with us three guys on the team last year,” Sheaffer said. “But I think the biggest part of our group is we need to gel. Gelling is key for our group to have success, and last year that’s what got us to where we went.”

Stephenson sees that need for team chemistry as well, and he said he thinks the Eagles are pretty close to achieving a solid balance. “(We) three and the group we have playing this year have all been playing a long time, so the chemistry shouldn’t be too much of a problem,” he said. Concern for a slow start to the year is present, due to the many new faces on the team along with the fact the Oak Mountain roster consists of six players who also played football, so getting up to speed with them may take some time as well. “The most important of that is people learning their roles, and I think that’s the process we’re in right now,” Love said. “We’re probably going to get on into the season until we each understand our role as a sum and being a really good basketball team. I think we will.” Many of those football players bring the same strength to the basketball court as they do to the football field: height. Nathan Jones and Noah Egan are listed at 6-foot-4. Carson Bobo is 6-foot-5. “We’ve got tall, tough players, and we’ve got experienced guard play with us three seniors. The combination of the experience of the guard play and athletic bigs helps us a lot,” Hutchins said. Hutchins said he feels confident in the Eagles’ progress on the offensive end of the floor. But in order for Oak Mountain to reach its full potential, the other side of the floor will be key. “We’re going to be able to score at a high pace against any team we face,” he said. “I think we need to work on our defense, putting two efforts together, as our coach says … You have to be able to play a full possession of defense.”

Will Stephenson is one of three senior guards for Oak Mountain, as the Eagles look to follow up a regional final appearance. Photo by Barry Stephenson.

December 2016 • B9

Spain Park is looking to players like Parker Boswell to fill the gap left by departures from last year’s Final Four team. Photo by Ted Melton.

Jags focusing on returning pieces to replicate last season’s success By KYLE PARMLEY The Spain Park High School boys basketball team is focusing on what it has, rather than what it lost. Gone is Auburn signee Austin Wiley, who chose to finish his prep career at The Conrad Academy in Orlando. Graduated is Justin Brown, a key cog to the Jaguars’ Final Four run a season ago. But the Jags do return one piece of the threeheaded monster: Jamal Johnson, who recently signed with the University of Memphis, is now a senior and hoping to lead Spain Park back to the BJCC. “I feel like we can make another run for it,” Johnson said. “Everybody’s focused and determined to get back to that stage and the Final Four and to try to win it all this year. Even though one of our main guys left, I think we still have a good shot of making it.” Johnson knows he has to be the leader for the Jags, and his conversations with head coach Donnie Quinn have been to ensure he and the team are moving in the right direction. “We’re going to have a more spread-out offense, and Coach said he’s going to have a lot of different sets to try to get me open because people will go box-and-one (defense) on me,” Johnson said. Quinn knows Johnson has the ability to play at an extremely high level, and he wants to see him take a step in a different facet of his game. “It all comes down to leadership,” Quinn said. “He’s a great player. His leadership skills, if they can be better, he can really lead our team and have those guys play around him. That’s

going to be the difference for us.” One guy who is presumed to step in behind Johnson is young guard Parker Boswell, only a sophomore but in his third season on the varsity squad. “He started at point guard as a freshman last year, and he’s going to have to do more scoring than he did last year,” Quinn said. Other players who are expected to step up and fill some of the void are Xavier Blanchard, Trey Johnson, Ronald Fortson and Justice Canady among others. Blanchard is a player that both Johnson and Quinn singled out as an instant impact player. Blanchard was forced to sit out last year, and the Jags will certainly need his contributions this season. Trey Johnson is the younger brother of Jamal Johnson. As a sophomore, Trey Johnson is expected to “be a factor,” according to Quinn. Fortson and Canady do not possess the natural gifts Wiley brought to the table, but both bring physicality and grit to bridge the gap. “Everybody’s getting better each and every day, getting stronger, and I think all of them will be better players,” Jamal Johnson said. There are sure to be other players to join the fray and make their presence known this season, something Quinn knows all too well as a veteran coach. “Like all teams, you go into a season thinking you know what’s going to happen, then all the sudden this guy out of nowhere becomes a really big contributor,” he said. “All those things have yet to be determined. I’m looking forward to coaching these guys.”

B10 • December 2016

280 Living

National cross-country meet at Veterans Park

With a crushed gravel trail and an abundance of space, Veterans Park hosts high school cross-country meets during the fall and community races throughout the year. Photo by Sam Chandler.

By SAM CHANDLER Veterans Park in Hoover will play host to the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships Dec. 10. According to Connie Tolbert-McClinton, chairwoman of the event’s local organizing committee, 3,400 to 3,900 runners between ages 8 and 18 are expected to compete. Tolbert-McClinton said that USATF Alabama, the host association, anticipates runners from 50 states. The meet will feature 10 races, with the first set to begin at 9 a.m. Race distances will vary by age. The youngest division will run 2K; the 9- to 10- and 11- to 12-year-old divisions will run 3K; the 13- to 14-year-old division will run 4K, and the 15- to 18-year-old

division will run 5K. Each race is scheduled to start 30 minutes apart, with the girls section of each age group running before the age-corresponding boys section. Award presentations are 45 minutes after the start of each race. The top 25 individuals per event and top three teams per age division will receive awards. Tolbert-McClinton said that Veterans Park last hosted the event in 2010. She said the meet will allow Hoover to showcase its beauty to competitors from other parts of the country, especially those unfamiliar with the landscape of central Alabama. The meet is open to both teams and individuals. Individual registration is $20. Online registration ends Dec. 2 at 11:59 p.m. (EST). For more information, including volunteer details, go to

School House

Students from Oak Mountain High School attended a teen driver safety summit this October. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Mickens.

OMHS students attend teen driver summit Students from Oak Mountain High School were among 200 teenagers from 18 schools who attended the “UR KEYS 2 DRV” Teen Driver Safety Summit on Oct. 27. The oneday interactive event was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Montgomery. Participants heard from speakers and rotated among breakout sessions led by safety experts from Children’s of Alabama, State Farm Insurance, the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Alabama Department of Transportation, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, Safe Kids Alabama and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Safety-related topics that were discussed included the Alabama Graduated Driver License Law, drinking and driving, texting and driving, and other distractions. A driving simulator provided a valuable

hands-on learning experience and a simulated trauma showed the students what happens when a victim from a car crash is brought to the emergency room. A highlight of the day was a presentation by Mike Lutzenkirchen, executive director of the Lutzie 43 Foundation, an organization that aims to develop the character of young athletes and their coaches by focusing on leadership, charity, compassion, mentorship, hard work, honesty and faith. Lutzenkirchen founded the organization in honor of his 23-year-old son, Philip, who played football for Auburn University and was a passenger in a fatal car crash in 2014 in which alcohol played a role. Following the event, some students said they were inspired, that the event was motivational and that they enjoyed the day. – Submitted by Cassandra Mickens.

Students are able to use their longer lunch break to study, hang out with friends or attend club meetings. Photos by Sarah Cook.

Eagles SOAR with new program allowing students to hone their time management skills By SARAH COOK Every day at 11:15 a.m., Oak Mountain High School students have an hour all to themselves. Sophomore Savannah Wood chooses to spend her time in the media center catching up on homework. Senior Christian Lampley likes to hang out with friends she doesn’t get to see during class. Some students simply find a spot in the hallway to sit down and chat. “It’s really nice to just relax and take a breather in the middle of the day,” Lampley said while hanging out with her friends and catching up on her math homework. “It can get hectic sometimes, so it’s nice to have this time.” Since the beginning of Since the beginning of the school year, OMHS has extended its lunch hour from 30 minutes to a full hour in the school year, OMHS has extended its lunch hour from an effort to give students more time to study, attend club meetings or take a break from class and socialize. 30 minutes to a full hour in an effort to give students more OMHS is the second Shelby County school time to study, attend club meetings or take a to implement an hour lunch block for the entire break from class and socialize. The initiative is called SOAR 60, which school. Helena High School also has introduced stands for “Students Optimizing All Resources.” the program this year. “I know that it has been a success for us, Marissa Rath, English department chairperson at OMHS, said the program has proven to and in talking with the principal at Helena, it’s been a success for them too,” Sayers said, be a success. “We’ve seen a decrease in failures, and the noting that the program has also allowed students seem to really like it,” Rath said, who students to practice time management skills advocated for the initiative after observing out- because there is no enforced structure during of-state schools doing a similar program and the hour lunch period. “I certainly hope to be able to continue it.” seeing success. Before the program launched, Sayers said OMHS Principal Kristi Sayers said the goal of the program is to allow students more faculty and staff spent a year mapping out opportunities to meet with teachers one-on-one SOAR 60 to determine its feasibility. Because and get more involved with school clubs and all four grade levels are now eating lunch at the same time, Sayers said lunch had to expand organizations. Or, Sayers said students can take a break past the cafeteria. Students can now eat outside, from the day and spend time with friends out- in hallways, classrooms, the media center and other approved areas, she said. side of class. “It’s introduced a lot of freedom for the stuThe program has also introduced “interventions,” she said, which specifically target dents,” Sayers said. Because the initiative is still considered a students who may be falling behind in specific pilot program, Sayers said she couldn’t confirm subjects. “If a student is not progressing in an aca- that it would be in place in the next school year. demic class — regardless of the reason — then She did say, however, that if its success conthat teacher assigns an intervention, so that stu- tinues to grow, she expects SOAR 60 to stick dent then has to come that week to that teacher around. “Honestly, I can’t say enough good things for help,” Sayers said. “And what we have seen with that is a decrease in failures at the end of about it,” she said. “It’s been really exciting to see the kids take ownership of it.” the nine-week period. It’s very exciting.”

December 2016 • B11

B12 • December 2016

280 Living

Teacher’s love still comforting OMES By ERICA TECHO Maggie Russell’s memorial ceremony was standing room only. A mother of two and teacher who had dedicated her whole career to Oak Mountain Elementary School, the nearly 800 attendees at the service were a testament to all the lives she touched. “That was a good day,” said Blake Russell, Maggie Russell’s husband of 13 years. “What I told everybody and what I still told people: She didn’t have a funeral; she had a celebration of life.” Maggie Russell’s friend and coworker Lori Lancaster said she told Blake Russell to keep large numbers in mind when making plans for his wife’s funeral service. “When she passed away and he [Blake] started making funeral plans, I just had to stop and look at him and say, ‘You do understand this is not going to be 50 people,’” Lancaster said. “He didn’t know the influence that she had and the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people who were going to reach out to him.” Maggie Russell died unexpectedly Sept. 7 of a heart problem at 39. In the months since her death, Blake Russell said he has heard countless stories of how Maggie Russell influenced the lives of those around her — ones he had never heard. “She had a way of doing those things without even me knowing,” Blake Russell said of his wife’s kind actions. “She would just take the extra time. She gave so much to her job. She loved her summers, but when it got to be about a week before, two weeks before [school

started], she started putting pressure on herself to get everything perfect because she wanted every kid to have that experience of being in Mrs. Russell’s room.”


Maggie Russell began teaching at Oak Mountain Elementary School in 2001, her first teaching position after graduating college. She was named OMES Teacher of the Year in 2010, and she was known for her habit of helping students rise to their highest potential. “She was big on focusing on the positive behaviors, which is what I in turn have done as well,” said OMES teacher Ferris Smith, who was Maggie’s mentee. “She loves to focus on the loving, happy praises, and that makes all the kids rise to the top.” Her longevity at OMES was one of the things that made her so well known, Lancaster said, and each family left her classroom loving Maggie Russell as a teacher. “I think the parents sometimes were intimidated by her, by her height and her beauty and her directness … but every year, they would just end up loving, loving, loving her and not wanting to be out of her class,” Lancaster said. “She had a way with so many kids who just kept coming back to see her.” Blake and Maggie Russell did not talk much about work at home, Blake Russell said, but he would always hear stories about kids who needed a little extra love at school. “The ones she loved on the hardest were the ones who needed it the most,” Blake Russell said. “She took a special pride in the kids she knew had a rough time.”

Alongside the love she showed her students, Maggie Russell was even more devoted to her family. Her two sons, Cannon and Gray, were one of the things that made her happiest in life, said her friend, Lori Lancaster. Photos courtesy of the Russell family.

With those students, Maggie Russell would take the extra time to focus on their needs and encourage them in their work, according to several coworkers. “I hear so many stories from other people, that they have shared, and I think of all the times we’ve talked and all the things we’ve done with each other, there’s so many things I didn’t know about,” said Kimberly Hall, the Russells’ neighbor and a teacher at OMES. Cammie Eanes, a fellow teacher whose

daughter was in Maggie Russell’s class years ago, said Maggie Russell helped bring her daughter out of her shell. “Even in seventh grade, my child was still coming back, and they would go get a coffee together, or they would go do special things together,” Eanes said. “Even her next-door neighbor who practically team taught with her, I had no idea,” Hall said. “She was very humble and didn’t brag or boast.”

December 2016 • B13

I think this had made a lot of people in and out of school just take a step back and think about the important things in life. I think it’s been a big testimonial to people about what a real person is and what a real friend is.

A college fund has been set up to support Cannon and Gray Russell in the future, and the community continues to send cards and food, Blake Russell said.

Maggie Russell also extended her love for students outside the classroom. While she had two boys of her own, she would take the time to attend students’ ball games on the weekends or attend other events. “She’s just one of those teachers who kept building on relationships with kids,” Lancaster said. “She’s just that teacher that you remember forever, and you’re just so glad to be in her class.” The whole OMES family feels the loss of Maggie Russell, Eanes said, but her memory continues to inspire teachers. “We’re a K-3 school, so she’s the last stop. You can really tell there are kids in our community who still have that confidence [she helped instill],” Eanes said. “Through our school, it

makes us stop and think a little more — How am I inspiring my kids in my classroom?”


Alongside the love she showed her students, Maggie Russell was even more devoted to her family. Her two sons, Cannon and Gray, were one of the things that made her happiest in life, Lancaster said. When she was 5 years old, Maggie Russell’s mom died. Part of the reason she was so close to her girlfriends was because she grew up without a mom, Lancaster said, and part of the reason she was so happy to become a mom. “She loved being a mom, and I think some of my greatest memories are just watching her

go through that process and finding out she was going to be a mom and watching how she was with her kids,” Lancaster said. “She just loved a pregnant teacher. She would just love on their bellies.” Maggie and Blake Russell met in the late ’90s and lived by a “work hard, play hard” motto, Blake Russell said. While they enjoyed going on trips and going to concerts and people said kids would change their lives, Blake Russell said their kids definitely made that change for the better. “When we first had our oldest, it was just, I saw even more happiness in her life than she ever had, once we had kids,” he said. “People always tell you, ‘Oh, your life is going to change, but it really changed for the better. It kind of just completed her. It gave her even more purpose.” Smith’s son is the same age as Gray, and the two boys have known each other since birth. Just as Maggie Russell helped her establish her classroom, Smith said she also helped her out as a mom. “She always wanted to give me home remedies,” Smith said. Her favorite thing was to cuddle on the couch with their sons, Blake Russell said, and they would sit together and take funny pictures. “She doted on our kids and they love her,” Blake Russell said. “All kids love their moms, but man, that’s one of the tough things that I’m going through. …I can’t replace her, but I can try to have those experiences with the kids, too, to make them feel better.” Since Maggie Russell died, Blake Russell


has worked to recount some of their family trips with their youngest son to help solidify those memories. Their last two family trips also stand out in his memory, including one to Cape San Blas in Florida from over the summer. The beach trip was one of the best they ever had, Blake Russell said, because their younger son can now handle more activities on trips, and the beach holds a special place for them. “The beach is one of her favorites places,” Blake Russell said. “The first time I told her I loved her, we were on the beach. We got engaged on the beach; we got married on the beach.” The second trip was to Blake Russell’s sister’s lake house in Maryland. “We kind of had the best time, and it turned out that was our last big family trip with my family,” Blake Russell said. “And those are two of the ones I talk to my 5-year-old the most because he’s only 5, and I worry about him not having any memories with her.” A college fund has been set up to support Cannon and Gray Russell in the future, and the community continues to send cards and food, Blake Russell said. For everyone who knew Maggie Russell, this is also a time to reflect on the good she brought into their lives, Lancaster said. “I think this had made a lot of people in and out of school just take a step back and think about the important things in life,” Lancaster said. “I think it’s been a big testimonial to people about what a real person is and what a real friend is.”

B14 • December 2016

holiday gift guide

280 Living

For the

JEWELRY LOVER The Mazza Company Venetian Murano glass cameo and sapphire earrings $1975 Give someone special these classically elegant and striking earrings. Bromberg’s 131 Summit Blvd. 969-1776

For the


For the


True Grit frosty tipped pullover $145 Throw on an extra cozy layer when cooler weather hits with True Grit pullovers at Alabama Outdoors.

2017 GMC Terrain $189 per month for 39 months Certain restrictions apply. Royal Automotive 3010 Columbiana Road 823-3100

Alabama Outdoors 108 Inverness Plaza 980-3303

For the

For the

BUSY HOMEOWNER The Maids gift certificate Any amount Give friends or family the gift of a clean home, worry-free. The Maids 871-9338


POWER NAPPER Malouf Shredded Gel Dough™ pillow Sizes and prices vary Shredded Gel Dough™ clusters create a cooler, softer memory foam pillow that is breathable and moldable.

Quilt stool $300 Handcrafted, one of a kind. Paige Albright Orientals 2814 Petticoat Lane 877-3232

Bedzzz Express

For the


FESTIVE PERSON Birch holiday signs $27-$49 Add joy to the holiday season this year with a variety of birch signs.

For the

Colorful wood art $399 Shown is 25.25” x 61.25”.

CLASSY WOMAN 60” fresh water pearl necklace $48 each Necklace available in white and gray.

Window Decor HomeStore 1401 Doug Baker Blvd. 437-9575

Bloom & Petal 5511 U.S. 280, Suite 104 994-2434

Renaissance Consignment 6801 Cahaba Valley Road 980-4471

For the


“Oh What Fun” pajama set $84 Other styles and individual pieces available. The Ditsy Daisy 16383 U.S. 280 678-6166

For the

ACTIVE GIRL Knit pullover $79 Give the girl on the go this cute long-sleeved pullover. Pure Barre 280 610 Inverness Corners 991-5224

December 2016 • B15 For the


SERIOUS GARDENER Wolverine Tools Prices vary Save 25 percent on any single Wolverine tool in stock through Christmas when you mention this ad. Hanna’s Garden Shop 5485 U.S. 280 991-2131

For the

LOVE OF YOUR LIFE Phillip Gavriel ring $415 18k yellow gold and sterling silver with blue topaz.

Hydroponic garden $99.99 This garden makes a great gift for the gardening enthusiast. With six individual planters, it allows you to rotate or add new plants as you please. Hydro-Ponics of Birmingham 2969 Pelham Parkway 358-3009

Southeastern Jewelers 5299 Valleydale Road, Suite 111 980-9030

For the

TRENDSETTER Coach sunglasses $200 Style 8132, confetti light brown color with graded brown-tinted lenses. Narrows Family Eye Care 13521 Old Hwy. 280, Suite 249 980-4530

For the

HOST Marble cutting board with horn & nickel bottle opener $45 Give the entertainer you know this beautiful set. Urban Home Market 1001 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 101 980-4663

For the

FUR BABY Go Dog plush Santa dog toy $18.99 With chew guard technology. Fancy Fur 5291 Valleydale Raod 408-1693

B16 • December 2016

280 Living Caroline Parker has learned the nuances of the game of bowling after playing for two years. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.


CONTINUED from page B1 Cross attempts to hide the smirk of satisfaction on her face. After all, there are several more where that came from. “We’re all competitive, so winning’s obviously fun,” she said.


Bowling is in its second year as a sanctioned championship sport with the Alabama High School Athletic Association and has quickly caught on with the Spain Park girls team. “Well, it started out as just kind of a fun thing, because the whole softball team did it,” said Caroline Parker, one of the Lady Jags’ top bowlers. “We just did it for fun. Then we realized that we were actually kind of good at it, so we just kept going.” Cross and Parker are two of Spain Park’s top softball players. Mary Katherine Tedder recently signed to play softball at the University of Texas, and is a natural in the bowling alley as well. The list goes on. C.J. Hawkins, who doubles as Spain Park’s softball coach, coaches the Lady Jags. Initially, that attracted solely softball players to compete on the team. But after two years of competing as a team — and one as a championship sport — the team is beginning to show some diversity. Volleyball players, a gymnast and others can be spotted on a given match day competing for Spain Park. Hawkins is by no means a “bowling whisperer.” But she does boast extensive experience maintaining personalities and coaching individuals, two things that lend well to competitive bowling. “Every game. Every tournament,” Parker said of when the team gets some sort of pregame talk from Hawkins. “She just tells us to stay focused and get as many pins as you can.” As far as the technical aspects of the game go, the Lady Jags have essentially figured them out on their own, through showing up at the lanes several days a week. “[Hawkins] doesn’t know how to correct us and we don’t know how to correct ourselves either, because no one’s done it before,” Parker

said. “But we practice a lot. It’s all about repetition. That’s the only thing you can do to get better at it.” After bowling consistently over the last few years, Cross has started to notice the effects of ill form, and is figuring out how to address them. “A lot of times, if you’re leaning and your hips are not square, that influences where the ball will go,” she said. That kind of technical talk comes from the same people who signed up for the team on a whim. Parker admitted, “Now we take it really seriously.” The Lady Jags back up Parker’s point. During a Nov. 14 match at Vestavia Bowl, for example, Taylor Harrington bowled with the varsity team with a broken finger. Parker tweaked her hip and continued to participate.

Neither had second thoughts. They won that day.


High school bowling matches are divided into two categories: traditional and Baker. Matches begin with a traditional round, where five bowlers from each team complete the normal 10 frames and their total pins are combined. The traditional round is followed by three Baker games, where the strength or weaknesses of a team become readily apparent. All five bowlers combine to make one game in a Baker game, meaning each player bowls two frames in each game. The catch is that the players play in order, twice through. The person who bowls the first frame also plays the sixth frame. The one who completes the second, also the seventh, and so on. The strongest player is given the anchor

spot and bowls the fifth and 10th frames, where extra pins are available. “The fifth spot is definitely the most pressure,” said Cross, who occasionally takes claim to that spot, “because you can go into an extra frame. In the 10th frame, you need to get a spare or a strike.” The scoring system in bowling can be complicated for beginners. Parker and Cross admitted as much but said they have a much better grasp on it now than when they started. “It took me a long time to figure out how spares work,” Parker said. “It’s plus-10 whatever you get [on the next roll]. Also, the 10th frame is worth 30 pins and is so important.” The Spain Park girls saw the boys team capture the state championship last season and are aiming for that accomplishment this time. The Lady Jags came in fifth at state last year, but believe they are a year better and equipped to make a run.

December 2016 • B17

B18 • December 2016

280 Living

Jacob Larson excitedly awaits fresh popcorn provided by Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol on Oct. 4 during the Chelsea National Night Out event. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.


Best of 2016

Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

Clockwise from above: Greystone resident Curtis Williams ies his motored paraglider. Haidi Cortes shows off Christmas pastries at the Inverness Daylight Donuts. Spain Park High School juniors play against freshmen Sept. 13 in the Homecoming Powder Puff game. Paul Wallace from team Mattress Firm takes a running dive into the chilly waters Jan. 30 during the 2016 Polar Plunge for Special Olympics of Alabama at Oak Mountain State Park.

Photo by Frank Couch.

December 2016 • B19

280 Living neighborly news & entertainment



Community C4 Real Estate C12 Calendar C13


Some Shelby County residents seeing ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ on internet issues Some residents in Shelby County have been without highspeed internet for several years. Wi-Fi is a necessary utility in this day and age, said one resident. Photo illustration by Sarah Finnegan.

By ERICA TECHO Discussions of contracts with cable providers prompted resident complaints during the Oct. 10 Shelby County Commission meeting. Those complaints, however, were not focused on cable issues — they were concerns regarding a lack of high-speed internet options in some areas. “Our neighborhood has DSL,” said Dunnavant Square resident Robin Dickenson, one of the individuals who spoke up at the commission meeting. “It’s extremely limited, and you cannot fully stream movies. We have spotty internet service, and if too many people are pulling from that ‘trunk,’ it doesn’t move at all.” Dickenson lives in a townhome in Dunnavant Square, a development that recently finished construction, about eight years after she moved into the neighborhood. While the neighborhood has DSL, Dickenson’s home does not. Even if it did, however, she said she still would have spoken up on the issue. “It’s obviously not enough for the number of homes in there and not enough in today’s day and age, where high-speed internet is a basic service,” she said. Dickenson’s two children have had to rely on mobile hot spots and data on their cellphones to stream the videos and access Google documents required for class. Despite a nearly eight-year wait, Dunnavant Square is set to get AT&T high speed internet in 2017. Dickenson received an email from Terry Williams, the regional director for AT&T, saying construction on internet infrastructure would begin toward the start of the year. “We are so very excited about that,” Dickenson said. “I think she [Williams] was excited to be able to share that news because it’s been eight years, that’s a long time. And I know it’s been longer for other neighborhoods.” Some residents, however, might have to wait longer than 2017. “For Lakeshore Cove, AT&T is examining the area,” said Reginald Holloway, manager of community services for Shelby County. Terry Stiles Harrison, a Realtor and resident of Lakeshore

Cove near Mt Laurel, also spoke at the Oct. 10 meeting and said she has been disappointed in how the situation has been handled. She said she planned to reach out to her county commissioner to discuss changing the contracts with cable and internet providers. Smaller neighborhoods should be considered for these services, she said, so she hopes to get the number of minimum houses changed. “The developers, they get attention because maybe they’re going to put in 800 homes over 10 years,” Stiles Harrison said, noting smaller developments do not get that attention. Internet, however, is not covered in the county’s contract with cable providers. Neither is phone service. “The internet is not a regulated service. Therefore our franchise agreement does not cover anything that is not covered by the FCC,” Holloway said. “If it isn’t being regulated by the FCC,

we can’t mandate it if we don’t have the authority to regulate it.” However, Holloway will mediate or facilitate discussions with cable and internet providers alike. It is part of his job to handle those issues, and he said he encourages everyone to reach out to him and to their service provider. “I think it’s very important for you, me, for everybody to have someone to turn to,” he said. “We might [as individuals] hit a brick wall, we can’t go any further. But to have someone else to intervene and understand what your situation is, I think that’s very important.” While Stiles Harrison said she hopes to see a greater change in contracts to help her neighborhood as well as her clients, Dickenson said she is just glad to have hope for future coverage. “We’re aware that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

C2 • December 2016

280 Living

December 2016 • C3

C4 • December 2016

280 Living






ith the holiday season upon us, 280 Living recently took the opportunity to ask area residents to share one of their favorite Christmas memories or traditions.

“I think I like when we decorate the house all together and go pick out the tree to decorate together with the kids.”


“I’m from New York originally and spent many years having traditions with a family that was ItalianAmerican. I’ve spent the last 24 years in Florida, Texas and Alabama, so traditions have changed … There’s still nothing as much fun as seeing the kids’ eyes on Christmas morning with stuff under the tree … I know Christmas has a much deeper meaning than toys and stuff, but it’s still a lot more fun with the kids.”


December 2016 • C5 Susan, Danielle, Drew and Dennis DuBose of the Greystone subdivision in Hoover celebrate Christmas in Mobile each year with extended family. “We started a tradition of staying at the Historic Battle House Hotel each year and have many fond memories of the huge two-story live Christmas tree in the lobby,” Susan DuBose said.

“At my mother’s when there was a lot of snow on the ground back in Missouri. I’ve lived here 17 to 18 years. We go back to visit my mom every year, and there’s snow on the ground, and I love seeing snow at Christmas. The whole week we’re there, the kids go sled riding and make snowmen.”


Photo courtesy of Susan DuBose.

“When we were little, Mom and Dad would come in and wake us up. We weren’t allowed to go downstairs. We’d all have to wait in their bedroom and eat breakfast in the bed. Once everybody ate, we’d all walk downstairs, and Mom took pictures of us walking downstairs. We’d walk in the living room, and there would be all our stuff, and my dad would pass out what Santa gave us. It was that way every year until we grew out of it. It’s probably how I’m going to do my kids’ Christmas.”


“Pulling out all the old ornaments — things they (my children) made in first grade, and now my grandkids get to put those same ornaments on the Christmas tree. And, of course, the traditional Christmas dinner — cooking all night, and all the toys are put out while I’m finishing cooking. We still do that tradition with the grandkids. Then we pass out after they see the toys because we’ve been up for almost 26 hours.”


“We go hunting for mistletoe with our kids. We take them every year and find mistletoe. Sometimes we go to the lake area or out around my dad’s farm. And we usually get extra and give it to people, too.”


C6 • December 2016

280 Living

“Me and my entire family go to my parents’ house and watch ‘A Christmas Story’ on Christmas Eve, and we watch it over and over and over on TBS. It’s a 24-hour-straight marathon.”


“My mom and I ring the Salvation Army bell. We do that every year together. When my mom was going to school, she lived at the Salvation Army.”


“I got my first new shotgun when I was 16 years old. It was a double-barrel shotgun. Christmas afternoon, my dad and I took it out to try to shoot it. We went out to a local cow pasture, set up a target and walked back, shot it twice, and while standing there reloading the gun, a deer runs in between the target and us. The shots scared the deer. That memory is forever in my mind. The very next day, I killed my first deer with that gun. For years, it was the biggest buck that was killed out there.”


“Putting Christmas lights on our house and decorating for Christmas outside. It’s like a Griswold Christmas. That’s our street. It doesn’t have to make any sense. It just has to have a lot of something. And baking Christmas cookies.”


“My biggest memory would be my mom always would bake tons and tons of cookies from scratch, and she’d send my sister and I to give them to all the neighbors.”


December 2016 • C7 “My favorite tradition is decorating the Christmas tree. We do it right after Thanksgiving, and we do it as a family. I guess it’s special to me because as a kid, my grandparents always put their tree up about that time. It brings back memories when I do it with my own children.”

“We all got to open one present on Christmas Eve, and then we saved a present to open New Year’s Day. My dad did it when he was growing up, so we did it, too.”



“I don’t have any (traditions) anymore. My grandkids are all over the place. I’ve got seven grandkids spread out. My mom passed away a year ago, so we don’t have that anymore. But life is good. I remember peeking out from behind the couch to find out if there was really a Santa. My two brothers and I hid in the back till we heard the Christmas presents rattling and until we heard the presents going under the tree.”


“One Christmas, we opened all the presents, and my dad took all the wrappings and put them in a bag and asked me to go downstairs and put it in the trash can. I walked in the door to the garage, and there was a brand-new gokart. I opened the door and had the bag in my hand, and I just dropped it. I was freaking out.”

“When I was a kid, it was going to my grandparents’ house. They lived out in the country. We’d eat my grandmother’s and granddad’s cooking and play with all my cousins.”



Let us help spread the news! Email to submit your announcement.

quality pet care & home sitting Insured. Bonded Based out of Highland Lakes

ph: 205.408.0349 cell:910.280.3067





C8 • December 2016

280 Living “Open a present and then go to church on Christmas Eve. Usually Mom would have something special she’d want me to open, like a piece of jewelry or something nice she wanted to stand out and not get lost in the rush on Christmas morning.”


“We get pajamas every year for Christmas on Christmas Eve. They’re usually matching, too. We all sit around in our pajamas and have coffee and open gifts on Christmas morning.”


“My daughter makes cranberry sauce. I’ve been teaching her to cook since she was little. She’s 11 now, and she makes that by hand. It’s her thing. And we do stupid stuff. We do a tape ball. It’s like masking tape wrapped around, and there’s all kinds of candy and prizes in it, and we pass it around and unwind the tape and see what prizes are in it. … And midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.”


“Getting together with family and telling stories from when you were growing up as a kid. Now we’ve got grandkids coming up. It’s fun just telling those stories to the new kids and seeing them open their gifts.”


“We used to go to Miami at Christmas. The first time my dad tried to cook lobsters, they climbed out of the pot. They were jumping out of the pot, running on the ground, and we didn’t know what to do.”


December 2016 • C9

Dana Polk holds one of the Wi-Fi hot spot devices that Chelsea Library visitors can now check out. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

Chelsea Library now offers patrons Wi-Fi hot spot checkout By SYDNEY CROMWELL

hot spot for their child to complete a homework assignment, or one woman who used For Chelsea residents who need Wi-Fi the library’s hot spot to complete and send on vacation or even at their home, the important paperwork. Chelsea Public Library has hot spots avail“She came back singing its praises, and able to check out at no charge. she told all her neighbors about it,” Polk Library Director Dana Polk said she first said. became interested in offering hot spots in Polk expects the Wi-Fi hot spots will February, when North Shelby Library pur- become one of the library’s more popular chased five of them. The hot spots were an items to check out as more residents hear immediate hit at North Shelby, and T-Mo- about them. Though they’re always adding bile approached Polk with a similar deal. more books to the shelves, Polk said she “Everybody talks about how relevant keeps an eye out for the technology her are libraries going to be? Well, if we don’t patrons need. embrace the technology, we’re not going “As the technology’s made available, I’m to be relevant. So I thought, ‘I’ve got to do looking at it, and I’m considering it, and I’m it,’” Polk said. thinking, ‘OK, is it feasible for us as a library T-Mobile gave Chelsea Library 10 to invest that money to use it?’ Because Wi-Fi hot spot we’re small, but devices in Sepwe have a lot of tember for free, people,” Polk so the library said. Everybody talks about only has to pay After installing how relevant are the monthly use a people counter fee. Normally in 2015, Polk libraries going to be? these devices are said the Chelsea Well, if we don’t embrace Library received $80 each. The library began about 27,000 the technology, we’re letting patrons visits over the not going to be relevant. check out the hot course of a year. spots in October. Aside from the So I thought, ‘I’ve got to Each hot spot hot spots, those do it.’ can be checked visitors also have DANA POLK out by library access to Wi-Fi at users for one the library around week for free. the clock, on-site Up to 10 smartlaptops, chilphones, tablets or other devices can con- dren’s Playaway game tablets and downnect to the hot spots, which have unlimited loadable e-magazines and e-books. data and a battery life of several hours Polk said one additional service she is before needing to be recharged. considering for the library is downloadPolk said patrons must be 19 or older able online comic books. She watches the to check out a hot spot, which does have major libraries around the state to see what some internet filters built into it. If users new services they offer and how she can keep the hot spots longer than a week, bring them to Chelsea. there is a $2 per day overdue fee or $150 “We [have] got to stay up with the big if they never return it. guys,” Polk said. “This [hot spot service] Polk herself has tried out a hot spot is going to go over great, and if something while on vacation. else comes up that we can offer, we’ll do “I sat on the beach and watched the it.” Auburn game on my iPad. It was cool,” The Chelsea Library is at 41 Weldon she said. Drive and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Other library staff and patrons have used Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and the devices for vacations, but Polk said Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday; and some have checked out hot spots because from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday. Go to they don’t have an internet connection at for more home. She has seen a family check out a information.

C10 • December 2016

Crowning achievement

280 Living

Oak Mountain High alumna Brooklyn Holt named Miss Auburn University 2017 By ERICA TECHO During her first time competing in the Miss Auburn University Scholarship Program, Brooklyn Holt took the crown. Holt, a sophomore journalism and political science double major at Auburn University and an Oak Mountain High School graduate, said she chose to compete this year as a way to give back to the university and community. “The title of Miss Auburn University is one of the best forums to serve Auburn’s campus, and I wanted to share my love for Auburn with all that I encounter,” Holt said. “Another reason I competed is because I wanted to represent my university at Miss Alabama. The list goes on and on.” Holt was crowned Miss Auburn University 2017 on Oct. 8, and she will go on to compete in the Miss Alabama Pageant in June. She has participated in pageants for several years and was crowned Miss Smiths Station 2016, competing in Miss Alabama 2016 last June. She was also involved in the Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen program for three years, making this her fifth year competing in the Miss America system. During her time as Miss Auburn University, Holt said she looks forward to serving the university and its surrounding community, as well as sharing her platform of “Raise Your Voice for Children,” which aims to help impoverished children and their families, Holt said. “My platform centers on the costly consequences to society when children’s basic needs

are not met,” she said. “Also, my goal is for all children to realize that we cannot dwell on challenges, but that we can accept them, work hard and turn them around, making them become our strengths.” To raise money for her platform, Holt has hosted “Raise Your Voice for Children” concerts, inviting individuals from across the Southeast to participate. Money raised from those concerts, as well as a CD single titled “Raise Your Voice,” go to Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit that raises money for children’s hospitals, medical research and community awareness of children’s health issues. “I have always dreamed of using my talents to positively impact the lives of others,” Holt said, adding that she hopes she can raise more awareness for her platform over the next year. In addition to serving as Miss Auburn University 2017, Holt is an Auburn University majorette, supplemental instructor, honors college ambassador, recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, Distinguished Young Woman of Shelby County scholarship recipient and several other school awards. Holt said she hopes to be a sportscaster after graduating from Auburn University. As she prepares for the Miss Alabama Pageant in June, Holt said she looks forward to meeting all the young women participating this year. “I am looking most forward to spending a week with young women across Alabama that share a love of performing and service, just like I do,” Holt said.

Brooklyn Holt, a sophomore at Auburn University, was crowned Miss Auburn University in October. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Holt.

December 2016 • C11

C12 • December 2016

280 Living


Real Estate Listings MLS #







4165 Crossings Lane





1431 Scout Ridge Drive





1011 Little Turtle Circle





1248 Braemer Court





5028 Castle Rock Drive





3903 Bibury Circle





1269 Greystone Parc Drive





1029 Dublin Way





2984 Brook Highland Drive





1808 Morning Sun Circle #1808





3298 Broken Bow Drive N.





4010 Meadowood Drive





14 Nolen Street





1429 Bristol Manor





515 Meadow Ridge Circle





142 Chesser Loop Road





262 Fairbank Way





324 Deer Ridge Lane





123 Magnolia Ridge Circle





365 Deer Ridge Lane



Real estate listings provided by the Birmingham Association of Realtors on Nov. 14. Visit

4165 Crossings Lane

4010 Meadowood Drive

December 2016 • C13

Calendar 280 Area Events Thursdays nights through Dec. 10: GriefShare. 7 p.m.-8:45 p.m. Faith Presbyterian Church (Room A103), 4601 Valleydale Road. Trained facilitators who have experienced grief just like you will guide you through one of life’s most difficult experiences and provide you with the tools to move forward. $20 registration fee. Visit groups/58606. Dec. 3: SCAC Annual Holiday Artist Market. 9 a.m.-3 pm. Shelby County Arts Council Gallery, Columbiana. Free. Visit shelbycountyartscouncil. com. Dec. 6: Greater Shelby ChamberSmall Business Mentorship Program. 8 a.m. Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce, 1301 County Services Drive, Pelham. Visit Dec. 7: Greater Shelby Ambassadors Work Group. 11:30 a.m. Greater Shelby Chamber, 1301 County Services Drive, Pelham. Visit business. Dec. 7: Greater Shelby Chamber Small Business Work Group. 4 p.m. Location varies. Visit business. Dec. 9: Greater Shelby Chamber Health Services Work Group. 8:30 a.m. Location varies. Visit business.

Dec. 9: An Elvis Christmas. 7 p.m. Shelby County Arts Council Gallery, Columbiana. Featuring local Elvis impersonator Terry Padgett. $20. Visit Dec. 11: Three on a String. 1:30 p.m. Shelby County Arts Council Gallery, Columbiana. $25. Visit Dec. 13: Greater Shelby Chamber Education Work Group. 8:30 a.m. Location varies. Visit business. Dec. 14: Greater Shelby Chamber Existing Business & Industry Work Group. 8:30 a.m. Location varies. Visit Dec. 17: Chelsea Christmas Village Arts & Crafts Show. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Intersection of Hwy. 280 and County Rd. 47. Visit Dec. 17: 22nd Annual Meadow Brook Runs. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 5K and 1 mile fun run. USAmeriBank, Meadow Brook Branch. Visit Dec. 21: Greater Shelby Chamber Board of Directors’ Meeting. 8:15 a.m. Location varies. Visit business. Dec. 22: Greater Shelby Chamber Governmental Work Group. 8:30 a.m. Location varies. Visit

North Shelby Library Kids Mondays, Dec. 5 & 12: Toddler Tales. 10 a.m. Stories, songs, fingerplays and crafts make up a lively 30-minute program designed especially for short attention spans. Ages 19-36 months. Registration required. Tuesdays, Dec. 6: Baby Tales. 10 a.m. Story time for babies and their caregivers. Birth to 18 months. Registration required. Wednesdays: Mr. Mac (Storyteller Extraordinaire!). Stories, puppets, and lots of music for every member of the family. All ages. No registration. Thursdays, Dec. 1, 18 & 15: PJ Story Time. 6:30 p.m. Come in your PJs, have milk and cookies, and hear some

wonderful bedtime tales. All ages. No registration required.

Dec. 21: Homeschool Hangout: Decoupage Frames. 1 p.m. Ages 7-12)

Fridays: Open Gaming. 3:30 p.m. Teen Department. Participants must have a parent permission slip on file to attend.


Dec. 1-2: Thank You, Veterans! Drop by the Children’s Department to write a letter or make a card to thank our veterans for their service. Dec. 3: Lego Club. 10 a.m.–11:30 a.m. Drop in to build creations that will go on display in the Children’s Department. Dec. 10: Breakfast with Santa. 9 a.m. Breakfast followed by pictures with Santa and a Christmas craft. $5.

Dec. 6 & 13: Tuesday Tech: 3D Printing. 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. Create a small object using Tinkercad that the library will print for them. Dec. 8: Teen Leadership Council Meeting. 6 p.m. For 6th-12th grades. Dec. 12: Anime Night. 6 p.m. For 6th12th grades. Dec. 17: Teen Volunteer Day. 10 a.m.4 p.m. Earn community service hours. For 6th-12 graders. Registration required.

Dec. 13: Picture Book Club. 10 a.m. Stories, games, craft and snacks. All ages.

Mt Laurel Library Dec. 2 & 16: Toddler Tales. 10 a.m. Dec. 2 & 16: Story Time with Ms. Kristy. 11 a.m. Dec. 10: Crafty Saturday. 10 a.m. Meeting room. All ages. Dec. 17: Lego Club. 11 a.m. Dec. 20: Picture Book Club 4 p.m. Eric Carle books with story, games and craft.

Chelsea Library Wednesdays: The Tot Spot. 10:30 a.m. A 30-minute story time for preschoolers. We read, sing, dance and sometimes craft. Visit Fridays: BYOC- Bring your own crochet (craft). 10 a.m. Audio/Reading room. Visit chelsealibraryonline. com/calendar.html. Dec. 10: Lego Club. 9:30 a.m. For ages 5 and up. Visit

C14 • December 2016

280 Living

St. Vincent’s One Nineteen Wednesdays: Baby Café. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. We invite breastfeeding moms to join us for our lactation support group meeting at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen. Moms will have the opportunity to meet with a lactation consultant, as well as network with other breastfeeding moms. The group is designed to give breastfeeding moms encouragement and support, as well as helpful information and tips from our expert. This event is free, and registration is not required. Dec: 2, 6, 13: Healthy Holiday Ideas. St. Vincent’s One Nineteen is cooking up ways to make the holidays healthier. Stop by the Fitness Center for the following events: December 2: Healthy appetizers, 9:30-11:30 a.m.; December 6: Healthier options for a party, 5-7 p.m.; December 13: Christmas morning breakfast ideas, 6:30-8:30 a.m. Dec. 3: Lupus Support Group. 10 a.m.-noon. This group supporting lupus patients and their families will meet the first Saturday of every month. This month the group will have a Christmas party at One Nineteen. This event is free and is sponsored by the LUPUS Foundation of America-MID-SOUTH Chapter. Call 1-877-865-8787 for more information. Dec. 5, 12, 19: Next Chapter Book Club/ Greystone Chapter. 4:30-5:30 p.m. The Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) offers weekly opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to read and learn together, talk about books, and make friends in a relaxed, community setting.  This group meets at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen in the Wellness Area.  The current book the group is reading is The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende.  For more information, please visit Dec. 5: Medicare Educational Meeting. 10 a.m.-noon. Blue Cross/Blue Shield will hold a meeting at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen to inform customers about senior products. This meeting is open to the public and free of charge, but please register by calling 1-888-346-1946. DISCLAIMER: The person discussing Medicare plan options is employed with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and will be conducting a sales meeting to present Blue Advantage, Blue Rx, and C Plus. Plan information and applications will be available. Blue advantage is a Medicare Approved PPO plan. Blue Rx is a Regional Medicare Prescription Drug plan. C Plus is a Medicare Supplement Select Plan B.

Dec. 6: Blood Pressure/Body Mass Index Screening. 8-11:30 a.m. A representative from Wellness Services will be at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen screening for blood pressure and BMI in the front entrance. These screenings are free. Dec. 7: Tiny Tot Chef Club. 9-10 a.m. This fun tot class for three to four year olds at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen will feature an edible gingerbread house. Your little chef will make and decorate a house made from graham crackers, peanut butter (or alternative), healthy cereal, popcorn and dried fruits. We will sip on hot cocoa and eat treats while listening to some favorite Christmas songs. Help your child get started eating well for a lifetime. The cost is $10 per child, with an eight child minimum. Please call 408-6550 for reservations. Dec. 8: Wellness Screenings. 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. To stay abreast of your numbers, cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure, BMI and waist circumference screenings will be held by appointment at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen. Results and interpretation in fifteen minutes with a simple finger stick. The cost is $20 for members and non-members. Call 408-6550 to register. Dec. 8: Thyme to Cook for Kids. 4-6 p.m., dinner, 6-6:45 p.m. Kids, come to St. Vincent’s One Nineteen and have some fun with others your age (6-12) making seafood gumbo, ambrosia fruit salad and gingerbread people. Parents, meet your young chef at 6 and let them serve you their special meal. The cost is $25 per child, and $5 per family member with an advanced reservation. Please call 4086550 by December 6 to register. Dec. 20: Comprehensive Diabetes Education. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. If you have diabetes or are at risk, this seminar at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen is a must. A physician’s referral is required. Pre-assessments are given preceding the class time. To register, please call 939-7248. Dec. 21: Teen Pizza Party. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. If you’re a teen (ages 13-18) who likes cooking, eating good food and making new friends, then join us for a homemade pizza party at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen. We’ll use fresh ingredients to create a homemade pie while learning new cooking techniques. We’ll also feature a festive dessert. The cost is $25 per person.  Please call 408-6550 by December 19 to register.

Area Events Through Dec. 31: Winter Wonderland and the Magic of Model Trains. McWane Science Center, 200 19th St. N. Attendees can enjoy the Ice Slide, a zip line and the McWane Train. The annual Magic of Model Trains features more than a dozen different displays. Opens Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. Regular admission, plus $1 per train ride for nonmembers. For information, call 714-8300 go to Dec. 1-3: Market Noel. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. BJCC Exhibition Halls. Junior League of Birmingham fundraiser. Visit Dec. 2: Arlington Historic Home and Gardens Candlelight Holiday Program. Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens, 331 Cotton Ave. The program includes costumed “Spirits of Arlington” holiday entertainment, candlelight tours of the house and old kitchen and a reception. Admission is $20 at the door. 6 to 9 p.m. Call 780-5656 or go to Dec. 2: Merry Everything! 4 The Holidays. 7:30 p.m. Lyric Theatre. $25-$35. Visit Dec. 2-3 & 9-10: Birmingham Children’s Theatre Presents: A Christmas Carol: The Musical. Fridays, 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. $35 adult, $15 child. Visit Dec. 2-4 & 7-11: Holiday Spectacular 2016. RMTC Cabaret Theatre. Performances by the RMTC Conservatory Students along with local artists. Wednesday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. $19 and up. Visit Dec. 2-4, 8-11 & 15-18: A Christmas Story: The Musical. Virginia Samford Theatre. Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 2 p.m. $15-$35. Visit Dec. 3: Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker. 3 p.m. BJCC Concert Hall. $31.50-$178.50. Visit Dec. 3: Sara Evans. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. $30-$80. Visit ticketmaster. com. Dec. 3: UAB Men’s Basketball v. Auburn. 7:30 p.m. $35. Visit uabsports. com. Dec. 3-4: Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens Holiday Open House. Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens, 331 Cotton Ave. This annual event kicks off the holiday season as some of Birmingham’s finest decorators fill the rooms at Arlington with old-fashioned holiday decorations. Guests can also enjoy holiday music, entertainment and light refreshments in the Garden Room. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Call 780-5656 or go to Dec. 3 & 10: Birmingham Children’s Theatre presents: Twas the Night Before Christmas. 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. $20 adult, $15 child. Visit

December 2016 • C15

Dec. 4: UAB Gospel Choir featuring Alicia Olatuja. 6 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. $18. Visit

Dec. 17: Southeastern Outings Dayhike. DeSoto State Park and Lost Falls Depart 9 a.m. from the Applebee’s in Trussville. Call 205-631-4680.

Dec. 4: Woodlawn Street Market, 55th Place, Woodlawn. This urban street market features produce, prepared food and arts and crafts from local vendors. Admission free. Noon to 4 p.m. For information, call 482-2650 or go to woodlawnstreetmarket.

Dec. 17: Cartoon Matinee Triple Feature. 2 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 5: BAO Bingo. 7 p.m. Birmingham AIDS Outreach. $15 for 5 games. Visit Dec. 5: UAB’s Music’s Christmas at the Alys. 7 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. $8, $5 students. Visit Dec. 8: Live at the Lyric: The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show. 7 p.m. $27.50-$39.50. Visit

Dec. 17: Dickens Vest Pocket Christmas Carol. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. $8-$13. Visit Dec. 17: Voices of the South presents: Christmas at the Lyric. 7 p.m. Lyric Theatre. $15-$35. Visit Dec. 17: It’s A Wonderful Life. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 9: White Christmas. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 18: Southeastern Outings Moderate dayhike Along Buck Creek in Helena. 2 p.m. Total hiking distance is less than four miles. Depart 2 p.m. from the parking lot for the Helena City Park on Highway 261. Call 205-823-5165.

Dec. 9: Birmingham Ballet: The Mutt-Cracker. 7:30 p.m. BJCC Concert Hall. $20-$48. Visit

Dec. 18: White Christmas. 2 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit alabamatheatre. com.

Dec. 10: Southeastern Outings Moderately Strenuous Dayhike on the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail System at Lake Martin. 9 a.m. 4-mile hike. Depart 8 a.m. from the parking lot of the Publix in the Village at Lee Branch in Greystone. Children 10 and over welcome. Call 205-631-4680.

Dec. 18: Home Alone. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 10-11: Birmingham Ballet: The Nutcracker. BJCC Concert Hall. $30-$48. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Visit birminghamballet. com.

Dec. 19: It’s A Wonderful Life. 2 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 10: Polar Express. 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $12. Visit Dec. 10: Christmas Vacation. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit Dec. 10-11: Polar Express PJ Party. McWane Science Center. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. $14 adults, $12 kids, members receive $2 off. Visit Dec. 10 & 17: Jingle Bell Breakfast. 8 a.m. McWane Science Center. $25 adults, $20 kids, members receive $2 off. Visit Dec. 11: Southeastern Outings Dayhike, Oak Mountain State. 1 p.m. 4-mile walk in the woodlands. Depart from the Oak Mountain Park office parking lot. $5 park admission fee. Call 205-3175868. Dec. 11: Miracle on 34th Street. 2 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 18: The Vulcan Basketball Classic: Alabama v. Clemson. 3 p.m. Legacy Arena at the BJCC. Visit

Dec. 19: Christmas Vacation. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit Dec. 20: White Christmas. 2 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit alabamatheatre. com. Dec. 20: Meet Me in St. Louis: 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit Dec. 21: A Christmas Story. 2 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit Dec. 21: Elf. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit Dec. 22: Cartoon Matinee Triple Feature. 2 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit Dec. 22: Christmas Vacation. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 11: Elf. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 23: A Christmas Carol. 8 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Presented by Nebraska Theatre Caravan. $44. Visit

Dec. 12: It’s A Wonderful Life. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 28: An Evening with Gillian Welch. 8 p.m. Lyric Theatre. $35 advance, $40 day of show. Visit

Dec. 13: Home Alone. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 28: UAB Men’s Basketball v. Miles College. 5 p.m. Bartow Arena. $15-$20. Visit

Dec. 14: Christmas Vacation. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 28-29: St. Paul & The Broken Bones. 8 p.m. $25-$35. Visit

Dec. 15: Elf. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 29: 11th Annual Birmingham Bowl. 1 p.m. Legion Field. $30 general admission, $50 reserved sideline seating. Visit

Dec. 16: A Christmas Story. 7 p.m. Alabama Theatre. Holiday Film Series. $8. Visit

Dec. 29: David Lee: The Ultimate Elvis Tour. 7:30 p.m. BJCC Theatre. $15-$35. Visit davidleerocks. com.

Dec. 16: Tommy Emmanuel: Classics & Christmas Tour. 8 p.m. Lyric Theatre. $47.50. Visit lyricbham. com.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve at the Alabama. 6 p.m. Ring in the new year with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. $18-$75. Visit

Dec. 16: Handel’s Messiah & Vivaldi’s Gloria. 7:30 p.m. Presented by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Alys Stephens Center. $18-$80. Visit

Dec. 31: Bassnectar NYE 360. 7 p.m. Legacy Arena at the BJCC. $67.50-$87.50. Visit

Dec. 16-18: Broadway Christmas Wonderland. BJCC Concert Hall. Sounds of holiday classics. $30$60. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Sunday, 1 p.m. Visit

Dec. 31: Anderson East. 10 p.m. Lyric Theatre. With special guest, Dylan Leblanc. $23-$48. Visit

280 Living December 2016