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280 Living

April 2017 | Volume 10 | Issue 8

neighborly news & entertainment

a cornerstone of


Sgt. Matt Savage sits in his car while on duty March 15. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

Crime in Hoover dips 6% in 2016

By JON ANDERSON Hoover started 2016 with a high-profile homicide in Lake Cyrus that rocked the community, but the year as a whole saw a 6 percent drop in crime, Police Department statistics show. The Jan. 5, 2016, fatal shooting of Lake Cyrus resident Mike Gilotti in front of his home got many residents talking about beefing up home and neighborhood security measures ► Statistics and helped prompt city comparing officials to hire 10 more crime rates in patrol officers. 2015-16, A31 Hoover partnered with other agencies to quickly get leads on the four suspects in Gilotti’s killing and in less than three months had all four teenagers in jail and charged with murder. By the end of the year, the total number of crimes reported in Hoover had fallen from 5,085 in 2015 to 4,799 for 2016. That included three homicides in 2016, compared to five the year before. Police were particularly pleased to see only 41 robberies in Hoover in 2016. That was down

City pays tribute to ‘incredible’ civil servant who helped to establish and shape it By SYDNEY CROMWELL


he touch of Bob Wanninger’s hand can be seen around Chelsea: the fire stations and community center he designed, the city clerk’s position that he first held and even the fact that Chelsea incorporated in 1996. But he was not the kind of man who would put his own name on his achievements. “He never wanted attention or the spotlight on him,” former Mayor Earl Niven said.

Bob Wanninger

So, in fall 2016, the Chelsea City Council decided to shine the spotlight for him. Following the completion of the new community center, the council unanimously voted to name the road leading to the center Wanninger Way. Before Bob Wanninger died of a stroke in December, he and his wife, Merritt Wanninger, had the chance to see the road sign and hear the council’s

See WANNINGER | page A30


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

See CRIME | page A31

Merritt Wanninger and former Mayor Earl Niven stand in front of the Wanninger Way street sign at the Chelsea Community Center. The road was named in honor of Bob Wanninger, who passed away in December 2016. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.


Sponsors .............. A4 280 News ............. A6

Spring Home Guide

Business ............... A11 Chamber..............A14

Events .................. A17 Opinion ............... A27

Spring is in bloom, and it’s the perfect time to plant a garden, do some cleaning or start a home renovation. Find tips and tricks from area businesses in our Spring Home Guide to jump-start any project.

See page B1

Community ........ A24 Sports .....................C1

School House ...... C11 Calendar .............. C21

The Right Place Ex-pro players Wes Helms and Matt Guerrier enjoying their journey as assistant coaches for Briarwood’s baseball team.

See page C1

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280 Living

About Us Editor’s Note By Erica Techo It’s finally April. Spring is here, and the sun is still out when I leave the office at the end of the day. With the longer days, I’ve been working to remain more active. It was a New Year’s resolution of mine to take up a new hobby, and contrary to what I said in my January Editor’s Note, I’ve been successful at keeping this resolution. In late January, I took up rock climbing, and it has been great to have a non-gym, sometimes-outdoor exercise routine to look forward to. If you’re looking to take advantage of the (slightly) warmer weather and longer days, there are plenty of ways to get out and about along the 280 corridor this spring. If you’re looking to get active, try out one of the runs or walks we have in our spring guide. If you’re

looking for tasty food, head to Fire at the Foothills or the Feast of St. Mark. And if you just want to get outside and enjoy spring, stop by Mt Laurel’s Spring Fest. Or, if you’re hoping spring will inspire you to do something new and make a change, get inspired by some of the amazing things done by 280area residents, like Spain Park student Naomi Pitts or Chelsea resident Kimberly Smith-Highland. No matter what you’re inspired to do by the flowers that are blooming, I hope now that spring has sprung, you’ve also sprung into some sort of action or project.

PHOTO OF THE MONTH Members of the community gathered March 4 at Spain Park High School for the 20th annual Showcase of Bands hosted by the Alabama Bluegrass Music Association. At left, a musician smiles while strumming his banjo. Photo by Preston Little.

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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.

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Dan Starnes Sydney Cromwell Kristin Williams Sarah Finnegan Kyle Parmley Alyx Chandler Cameron Tipton

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April 2017 • A5

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280 News

Ordinance introduced to establish municipal court From left: Mayor Tony Picklesimer, Phil Watson, Lt. Jason Watson and Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley at the March 21 Chelsea City Council meeting. Photo by Erica Techo.

By ERICA TECHO Chelsea City Council has taken the first step toward potentially establishing a municipal court in the city. During its March 21 meeting, the council introduced an ordinance to establish a municipal court. Mayor Tony Picklesimer said rather than suspend the rules to introduce and vote on the ordinance at that meeting, as the city sometimes does with annexation or other ordinances, Picklesimer informed the council they would only introduce the ordinance. “We want to be prudent, we want to take our time,” Picklesimer said. “We want to make sure we do this exactly right, the very first time. So that’s the reason we’re tapping the brakes a little bit, to do this in steps.” Establishing a municipal court was a highly discussed topic during Chelsea’s 2016 municipal election. During his campaign, Picklesimer said he was in favor of a municipal court in order to “assist the sheriff’s department with enforcement of our ordinances and traffic calls of our city,” he said during a candidate forum in August. A municipal court would allow the city of Chelsea to enforce its municipal ordinances, which suffer a lack of enforcement due to the lack of a court. During a July council meeting, Lt. Cody Sumners, now a member of the council, said even though deputies could issue citations in regard to ordinance violations, “without a

court to enforce these ordinances, they’re worthless.” The council will revisit the ordinance at its April 4 meeting, giving the council two weeks to read over the ordinance. “My intention was for us to establish a municipal court during the first 100 days of our administration,” Picklesimer said during pre-council. “That’s impossible, and I didn’t realize it. … I did not understand the entire process and how much of a process it is, and it is a process.” The council also introduced an ordinance to adopt state offenses and traffic violations as municipal violations within the city limits and police

jurisdiction of the city of Chelsea. During the mayor’s report, the council also took time to recognize members of the Chelsea Fire and Rescue Department and the Chelsea Wrestling Club. Sumners, who is president of the Chelsea Wrestling Club, introduced Justus Adams, Zeke Adams, Malachi Adams and Jasper McCoy, who all placed in the state tournament. Justus Adams and Zeke Adams placed first, and Malachi Adams and McCoy placed third. Zach Wright, who placed second, and Tate McNicol, who placed third, were not present at the meeting, but Sumners also recognized them.

Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley recognized both new and newly promoted members of the fire department. He first recognized Kenny Wilhoit, a firefighter and paramedic, who recently retired from the Montgomery fire department. “He brings a lot of experience and education and training to Chelsea,” Shirley said. He joined Chelsea about a week after he retired from Montgomery. Shirley also recognized Lt. Jason Watson, who was recently promoted. Watson started part time with the department in 2005, has several certifications and also is a deputy sheriff.

He came on full-time with the department in December of 2012. “He has earned the rank, and I’m proud to promote him to the rank of lieutenant,” Shirley said. Chase Armstrong, who started with the department in 2006 and came on full-time on March 3, was also recognized although he could not be at the meeting. Also at the meeting, the council: ► Approved the annexation of an 11-acre property on Highway 51. The annexation ordinance was submitted by Make Way Partners. ► Approved a resolution to authorize a partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Chelsea to provide Fire at the Foothills, an annual barbecue and chili competition. ► Approved a resolution to update the Chelsea Planning and Zoning application and zoning fees. These fees are in line with the cost of other cities, which Picklesimer said Chelsea was formerly behind. Request fees are now $150 for a variance; $150 for conditional use; $250 plus $10 per acre, $2 per adjacent property owner and $50 for legal advertisement for proposed zoning change for rezoning; $250 plus $25 per lot for preliminary plat; $150 plus $15 per lot for final plat and $150 for re-survey. ► Approved to pay the city’s bills. ► Approved the city’s 2016 audit report. ► Recognized April 25 as Parental Alienation Awareness, or “Bubbles for Love” day.

April 2017 • A7

Shelby County Commission Chairman Jon Parker presents a SafeShelby representative with a proclamation from the commission. Photo by Erica Techo.

Commission passes budget action, releasing funds to Sheriff’s Office By ERICA TECHO The Shelby County Commission has approved the release of $342,692.54 to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. During its March 13 meeting, the commission approved a resolution to release the funds for the purchase of new sheriff’s office vehicles and related accessories. Previously, the funds were put on hold due to a budget amendment, which allowed the county to hold funds pending a review of the sheriff’s office’s budget practices. This amendment was proposed by Commissioner Lindsey Allison, chair of the commission’s finance committee, due to a “substantial overage by the sheriff’s department” in fiscal year 2016. Sheriff John Samaniego went roughly $600,000 over budget in FY 2016, marking the second year the sheriff’s office was over budget. The commission’s Finance Committee met March 7 to discuss the first four months of the fiscal year, as well as if releasing the funds was a good idea. “Our $600,000 is down now to $342,000, and I think as a committee what we’ve got to discuss is technically, our resolution says that with the exception of the van, he was to get no money until we made a decision to disburse any money because of his overages last year,” Allison said during the committee meeting, also asking if the plan was to reimburse the sheriff for his overages in fiscal year 2016 or continue to hold the funds, pending review of his budget management. County Manager Alex Dudchock said he recommended releasing funds because the sheriff had remained in budget for the first four months. “We’re at four months, and has he received and done what had been asked of him in managing in his numbers? And the answer is he has,” Dudchock said during the committee meeting. If something comes up in the next two months, Dudchock said there are funds that hadn’t been included in the original budget, which could balance against excess costs. Those monies include revenues from federal inmates, which are “tracking higher.” Commissioner Robbie Hayes also noted that purchasing new vehicles sooner rather than later was a good idea, as they were available for a discounted price. The cause of the finance committee meeting, he said, was not to debate that fact, but to make sure there were not any planned purchases or potential, unexpected costs that would go over budget in the next few months. “It looks like we’re flowing pretty well here, and to me personally, I feel pretty comfortable following Alex’s recommendation, Butch’s recommendation,” Hayes said at the committee meeting. Commissioner Rick Shepherd said he also agreed with Dudchock and Burbage’s recommendation. Dudchock said he was glad for the committee’s discussion, which showed checks and

balances at work in the county system. Before giving her approval as well, Allison said she wanted to clarify that the money from federal inmates would not be committed toward specific projects as it comes in, but that the commission would still manage where that funding went. “At the end of the day, we’re hoping for the best, and it looks like we’re getting the best and what we want — a balanced budget from the sheriff,” Allison said. “But let’s say we get to month 10 or 11, it derails a bit. We still have our federal prison fund, and you don’t have to commit it to long-term. … It’s kind of like you have to earn it and stay within the rules, and then we’ll see what we can do.” “You always earn it,” Dudchock said, adding that the commission remains able to control the funds. “That’s why I brought it here. Is there any balancing, fail-safe component? Two huge ones.” When presenting the resolution to the full commission, Allison said the finance committee felt there were enough checks and balances in place, she said, to safely recommend the funds be released. All commissioners in attendance voted to approve the resolution. The commission also approved a resolution authorizing the execution of Local Area Workforce Board creation documents and agreements. The county plans to collaborate with entities associated with workforce development and readiness, and will be in the Central Workforce Board, along with representatives from St. Clair, Chilton, Blount, Walker and Jefferson County. “Our county was one of I think 61 that were all grouped together for many years, as far as federal money coming down and how they were doing initiatives with higher education, secondary education and all different levels,” Dudchock said. “Now, we have a defined region, where ownership can hopefully be greater for our desired needs.” At this time, the initiative is 100 percent funded by the state, Dudchock said, but that might change in the future. “So Alex, the way I read this … It’s the governor’s initiative in the first two years. They kind of have to dictate what happens, and we just are at the table and figure out what that would be,” Allison said. Dudchock confirmed Allison’s read of the resolution. The commission passed the resolution. Also at the meeting: ► The commission approved bids for inmate footwear and linens for the sheriff’s office and jail. ► The commission approved appointments for the Shelby County Planning Commission. Jim Davis and Ken Wilder were reappointed for an additional term, and Samuetta Nesbitt was appointed to her first term. Nesbitt will fill the completed term of Rachel Garrett. Davis, Wilder and Nesbitt’s terms will expire April 1, 2023.

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280 Living

Dunnavant Valley property brought into compliance with new zoning

The Dunnavant Valley Road property, seen outlined in orange, is the residence of David Sharp as well as the location of his landscape design company, DSLD Management. Sharp requested that the property be rezoned from A-1, agricultural district, to A-1 SD, agricultural special district. Photo courtesy of the Shelby County Planning Commission.

By ERICA TECHO The Shelby County Planning Commission approved March 6 a zoning change that would bring a property on Dunnavant Valley Road into compliance. The property, which is the residence of David Sharp as well as the location of his landscape design company, DSLD Management, is currently zoned as A-1, agricultural district. Sharp requested that the property be rezoned as A-1 SD, agricultural special district. Sharp’s mother and father-in-law own the property, and the property has been used for residential and business purposes since around 1998. When zoning was initiated in 2005, the property was zoned as A-1 to accommodate the primary residence, said Senior Planner Sharman Brooks. DSLD Management, a landscape design company, became a “legal non-conforming accessory” at that time. There are short-term goals to open a small scale seasonal retail nursery on the property, Brooks said, which would be allowed under the special district. The request to be zoned as a special district would not change the overall use of the property, Brooks said, but instead bring the property in compliance. Sharp would continue to operate the business as it has been operating and continue to live on the property, she said. Planning commissioner Bob Land pointed out that being in compliance would be useful in the case of a structure catching fire and burning down or otherwise being destroyed. Without the

special district zoning, those structures would not be allowed to be rebuilt, he said. Brooks added that it would also bring setbacks on the property into compliance. The 3-acre property is long and narrow, which makes it nearly impossible to build structures that meet the front, back and side setback requirements specified in the A-1 district, Brooks said. Representatives from Mt Laurel Farm, located across the street from DSLD Management, were present at the meeting. While they had no formal comments, they said they were in favor of the property being a special district. Some residents of King’s Way in Dunnavant Place, which backs up to the DSLD Management property, voiced concerns about the special district. Resident Greg Burrow asked if there would

be more big trucks coming through the area, and Dave Cobb said he was concerned there would be more noise coming from the property. Sharp said that while he hopes the business will continue to grow and there would be more trucks coming through the area, he does not expect there to be a noticeable difference in activity on the property. Resident Chuck Bush brought letters from four other King’s Way residents, who were not present but also had concerns about noise levels and changes in activity. One concern, Bush said, was the potential effect on property values if the business expanded. The rezoning, Sharp said, was just requested as a way to bring his property into compliance, not an indication that the business would change significantly. The planning commission unanimously voted to approve the zoning change.

Also at the meeting, the planning commission: ► Approved a request to subdivide 1.46 acres into one residential lot and two common area lots in The Hamlets at Shoal Creek Phase II. The request also included a change to Troon, which would end in a cul-de-sac rather than connect to Carnoustie Drive under the proposed plat, which was why it came before the planning commission. The request was unanimously approved. ► Approved a waiver for a property in unincorporated Shelby County, located off County road 47 on Lakewood Lane. The request was to waive the requirement that a local fire chief signs the final plat for a subdivision the property, as the property does not have primary fire coverage. The waiver was unanimously approved, but that approval did not approve the subdivision itself.

April 2017 • A9

Council OKs purchase of new building for library Chelsea Public Library is set to move from its location near City Hall to the old Renasant Bank building. Photo by Erica Techo.

By ERICA TECHO Chelsea Public Library is on its way to tripling its space. During its March 7 meeting, the Chelsea City Council approved a resolution allowing Mayor Tony Picklesimer to contract with Renasant Bank for the purchase of the bank’s old building on U.S. 280. The city is set to purchase the building for $895,000, a few hundred thousand less than the price it was put on the market for — $1.3 million. Picklesimer first looked at the building in the summer of 2016, but did not start discussing the topic with the council until the start of December 2016. At first, Picklesimer said he thought the price tag would make the purchase impossible, but negotiations and a “community spirit” from Renasant Bank helped. “I can’t stress enough that Mike Ross, with Renasant Bank, he really put his community hat on,” Picklesimer said. The old Renasant Bank building was the location of Chelsea’s first city hall as well as its first library, “so we’re going home,” said Library Director Dana Polk. While the city’s library has around 1,500-1,600 square feet at this time, the new building will nearly triple that to 5,100 square feet. And Polk already has a vision for a lot of that space. “The downstairs already has some rooms that I don’t think we’re going to have to touch, and it’s going to give us a computer room that’s not in the hallway,” she said. “It’s also going to give us a dedicated study space. …I don’t know how big the vault is, but I’d love to have that be the young adult space.” The building’s visibility is also ideal. Polk said it is the “perfect spot. … Nobody’s going to be able to say, ‘I didn’t know Chelsea had a library.’” The small meeting room upstairs provides an added asset of a dedicated meeting room, she said, and the possibility of closing in the current drive through, which would add on around 1,200 additional square feet. “My excitement is that not this summer,

but next summer, we’ll be able to hold our summer reading programs in the library, and other programming too, eventually,” Polk said. At this time, there is no set construction timeline. Picklesimer said 90-120 days is a “soft guess” at how long construction will take once it is started. In making a decision to purchase the building, Picklesimer said he contemplated the monthly and annual cost of the building and its renovations for the city. In a big way, he said, the building is an investment for Chelsea. “The purchase of this building is fundamentally different than any other building or

property that we’ve purchased in Chelsea,” Picklesimer said. City Hall will always be city hall, the Chelsea Community Center will remain the community center. The library’s new home, however, might not always be the library. “Some day, 10, 12, 15 years from now, some mayor and council will decide to build a permanent library here on our campus. When that happens, this building that we have purchased tonight will be a very valuable, marketable asset for the city of Chelsea. And it’s a great investment for the city of Chelsea.” That investment also pays off in regard to Chelsea’s young citizens and the resources a larger library can provide to them, he said.

“It’s also a great investment for our schools and for our young people in the city,” Picklesimer said. “I want our kids to have a place to go to enjoy and learn to use the latest in technology, and to have room to do it in. I also want our library to be a place our citizens are proud of, and I think that building just fits the bill.” For families coming to look at homes in Chelsea, Picklesimer added that he hopes the prominence of the library, in the city’s commercial district, will make a statement. “I think it’ll make a statement that education is important to us,” he said. “It’s a building we can all be proud of.”

A10 • April 2017

280 Living

Health care dominates discussion at Rep. Palmer’s Eggs and Issues Rep. Gary Palmer speaks during an Eggs and Issues breakfast — hosted by several area chambers of commerce — on Feb. 21. Photo by Erica Techo.

By ERICA TECHO Two of the biggest topics Congress needs to tackle are the budget and health care, Rep. Gary Palmer said. Palmer addressed a crowd of more than 100 people during a chamber-sponsored “Eggs and Issues” breakfast at the Hyatt Regency on Feb. 21. The breakfast was co-sponsored by the Greater Shelby, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Montevallo and South Shelby chambers of commerce. As a member of the House Budget Committee, Palmer said he aims to overcome multiple tax and debt issues the government faces. Health care, however, ended up being a large portion of the conversation, in part due to audience questions. “I had a discussion with a couple of ladies who practice medicine in Homewood, and contrary to what a lot of people are being told, we do have a plan,” Palmer said. “The problem is we’ve got multiple plans. There’s 241 Republicans in the House and 194 Democrats, and everybody’s got their own ideas.” There are plans on how to fix issues with health care, but, Palmer said, rather than implement a plan and change it later, they hope to talk through and implement a complete plan. “Rather than rush through this, I think we’re pulling our folks together. We’re getting around the table, and we’re figuring out how to do this incrementally,” he said. “And I assure you that we have zero intention of leaving anybody uninsured.” Palmer added that he believes Congress can come up with a plan that provides insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions, to those who are unable to pay and to young people, while also creating a marketplace that allows health insurance companies to thrive. Other factors in a potential replacement health care plan include portability of insurance, meaning employees could take it with them after leaving a job, and creating a market that can cross state lines.

Alan Swindall, who works with a church-affiliated nonprofit that provides for students to go to college debt-free, asked Palmer how a new health care plan would help some of the students they work with. They purchase health care through the Affordable Care Act for students who have aged out of the foster care system and asked if Palmer would address how those cases would be handled in future plans. Palmer said he did not know how Swindall’s plan would be covered, but the students would probably be covered by a safety net. Another woman, who said she is retired, has chronic health conditions and her husband owns a small business, said she was worried about what her insurance could look like without ACA. “I already pay $900 a month for health insurance, which is really high on such a limited budget, but I understand that, and I have somewhat decent coverage,” she said. “I know that’s allowing me not to be denied because of any pre-existing condition. So I worry about a high-risk pool, me being put in that.” There are bound to be “cracks in the wall” in anything you do, Palmer said, including in working out health care.

“You can break this down into all these little, specific pockets, and everybody’s got a situation that’s different from everybody else,” he said. “If you do that, you can’t see the forest for the trees.” In regard to the budget, Palmer said there is a need to reduce the debt ratio and tax gap, which is more than $400 billion and getting wider. As a member of the Budget Committee, Palmer said he believes the debt ratio is something they can correct. On taxes, Palmer said he suggests a flat tax or a consumption tax. Wani Shaw, an owner of Magic City Sweet Ice in Homewood, asked Palmer, in regard to tax revenue that is lost from companies or individuals that do not pay taxes, if he would push for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. “We have the leader of our country who has not paid his fair share of taxes,” she said. “Are you going to push for him to show his tax return, to see how much he is paying in taxes since we are paying taxes here? … If he’s not paying, can he pay his fair share as an American citizen?” Shaw’s comments were met with applause from some individuals in the audience.

“I understand he’s under an audit right now,” Palmer said, a response that received groans from some members of the audience. “If you want to hear the answer, the answer is I’m not going to push because that’s not a big issue. I think he’s taken advantage of the tax code, and the tax code needs to be revised.” Following the breakfast, Shaw said she was not satisfied with Palmer’s answer. For her, having the country’s leader evade taxes raises the question of how that leader can be followed and what message that sends to other people. Sometimes it is tempting to work around taxes, Shaw said, but she does not do that with her business because she wants to continue to support the community. “He should be neutral,” Shaw said of Palmer. “Pretty much the answer I got from him was, ‘It’s OK to cheat on your taxes.’” Also following the breakfast, Bo Bohannon with Legal Shield said he was satisfied with Palmer’s overall answers and performance. “Congressman Palmer is a very intelligent man, and he does a great job,” Bohannon said, but added that the conversation focused too much on health care and those who asked questions focused too much on individual circumstances. Instead of health care, Bohannon said he wishes there had been a discussion on immigration. “I’m one of the guilty parties because I’ve hired illegals because they’re good workers, they show up on time. You have to make them stop work,” he said. Bohannon said he worked to make one worker, who had never been in trouble, a legal citizen and faced continual roadblocks. “We need to have a way for them to get legal, and we need to have a way to get those that are here, that are part of our community, to get legal,” he said of individuals who have been illegally in the country for several years. “They want to be legal. …That was not brought up today, and I think it’s a lot more important right now.”

April 2017 • A11

Renaissance Consignment’s chapter comes to an end By SYDNEY CROMWELL Since she announced Renaissance Consignment and Marketplace’s closing, owner Kathy McMahon said the customer response has exceeded her expectations. “The customer outpouring has been unbelievable, from beautiful letters to ‘Why are you doing this to us?’” McMahon said. “Every day somebody is tearing up because it’s going to be gone.” It’s a testament to the 9-year-old shop’s place in the community not only as a clothing store, but as a place where friendships are made. McMahon said the decision to close Renaissance was prompted by the lease at their 6801 Cahaba Valley Road storefront coming to an end. With a background in interior design and her second business, Urban Home Market, to run, McMahon said she felt it was the right time to narrow her business interests. “I felt like I couldn’t be captain of two ships,” McMahon said. Though the reaction from customers — many of whom are now close friends — has made her question if closing Renaissance is the right decision, McMahon said she feels confident that closing would be a better option than selling. “I would rather go out at the top,” she said. She has plenty of good memories from Renaissance’s near-decade in business. McMahon said she enjoys seeing customers come to the register with the great clothing pieces they’ve uncovered. “People have used Renaissance as kind of a treasure hunt,” McMahon said. After Renaissance closes,

Kathy McMahon of Renaissance Consignment and Marketplace, which is scheduled to close April 29. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

McMahon said she plans to spend more time at Urban Home Market and introduce new ideas like the “while you were out” program, where homeowners can sign up for a room makeover while they are out of the house. She added that all the employees at Renaissance will have the option to continue working at Urban Home Market. “We’ve had a great team here over

the years,” she said. With her own additional time, McMahon said she plans to do more with her husband and family, spend time at their Michigan lake home and pick up her hobbies, including painting and jewelry. “I plan on jumping back into my art,” McMahon said. The store’s last official day is April 29. Each week leading up to that day,

Renaissance will feature different discounts to clear out its inventory of bridal, prom, formal and everyday wear. After the store closes, McMahon said any remaining prom dresses will be donated to the YMCA for its annual prom dress giveaway, and other clothing will be donated to Catholic Charities USA, Shelby Baptist Church and Oak Mountain

Ministries. “I have no regrets and nothing but fond memories, and I know I’ll bawl my eyes out the day we walk out of here,” McMahon said. Renaissance Consignment is at 6801 Cahaba Valley Road, Suite 120, and open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Go to for more information.

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April 2017 • A13

Now Open Steve Gathings has opened OFCworkscapes at 5033 U.S. 280, Suite 109, in the Inverness Heights shopping center. This new location features a showroom for office furniture. 492-9937,


The Raceway convenience store at 5349 U.S. 280 now carries pies and pound cake from JaWanda’s Sweet Potato Pies. JaWanda’s is located at 5291 Valleydale Road, Suite 111. 995-6601,


Business news

to share?

Coming Soon

Pier 1 Imports will open a new location in the River Ridge shopping center, 4507 Riverview Parkway. The new store will be located between Jenny Craig and World Market. No opening date has been announced.


The Funky Muffin, 4647 U.S. 280 B, has changed its name to Bunch Bakeshop. They continue to offer gluten-free items in their bakery, and several items are now available for purchase at local grocery stores. 408-9825,


News and Accomplishments Grandview Medical Center, 3690 Grandview Parkway, recently earned Cardiac Electrophysiology (EP) Accreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission. Grandview is the first hospital in the Southeast to receive this designation, and just the fourth hospital in the United States. 971-1000,


Hirings and Promotions

Ponder Properties Commercial Real Estate, 850 Corporate Parkway, Suite 106, has hired Stan Bussey to join their team. He will handle commercial sales, development and leasing. 408-9911,


Coming Soon 7 Penn Mutual Alabama Agency, 1 Perimeter Park South, Suite 100S, has hired Marcus Williams Sr., LUTCF, as a financial services professional. 776-6651,


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A14 • April 2017

280 Living

Preview of



13 Shelby mayors share updates on cities


The Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce will hold its fourth annual Student and Educator of the Year recognition program this month. Educators play a vital role in the lives of Shelby County children, impact their communities every day and help develop the workforce that our Shelby County businesses and organizations will need in the years ahead, said chamber Director of Communications Lisa Shapiro. The chamber’s recognition program aims to celebrate excellence in the teaching profession and inform the community of the exceptional quality of instruction delivered throughout Shelby County. All nominees will be recognized, and two recipients (elementary and secondary educator) will receive a one-time financial investment to assist their continuing development. The chamber will recognize all nominees and announce the recipients at the April 26 community luncheon. The luncheon will be from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Pelham Civic Complex & Ice Arena, 500 Amphitheater Road. Admission is $20 for investors and $30 for “future” investors. Reservations should be made by noon, April 24. Register by calling the chamber at 6634542, email info@shelbychamber. org or register online at

By ERICA TECHO Whether it’s a new restaurant, a new road project or new residential areas, the cities and towns of Shelby County are seeing progress, according to mayors from across the county. The 13 mayors from Shelby County gave updates on their municipalities during the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce’s “State of our Communities” luncheon Feb. 22. Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer, who is the city’s second mayor since its founding 20 years ago, said he is seeing the strain the city’s population puts on its infrastructure. “We’re experiencing unprecedented growth in our city and our county,” Picklesimer said. “Chelsea is approaching 13,000 in population based on estimates, with an infrastructure that was built for 5,000. I personally witness two traffic jams a day, five days a week from my office window.” Goals for the city include growing its population, increasing commercial development and improving infrastructure. The city recently contracted with a retail coach who will work to bring businesses to the city. “The population growth is happening. Here they come, ready or not,” Picklesimer said. “We had 261 home permits issued in 2016, and have recently approved three new residential developments in our city. We’re seeing existing neighborhoods begin to build again.” As a young city, with an average age of 38 years old and household income at more than $80,000, Picklesimer said they’re facing challenges in school resources. Schools in Chelsea are managed by the Shelby County Board of Education, which recently approved a 21-classroom addition to Chelsea High School. This step, however, was simply

From left: Frank Brocato, Hoover; Tony Picklesimer, Chelsea; Gary Waters, Pelham; Marty Handlon, Alabaster; Mark Hall, Helena; Hollie Cost, Montevallo; Lee McCarty, Wilsonville; and Jon Graham, Calera, were some of the 13 Shelby County mayors who gave updates on their communities during the Feb. 22 Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Photo by Erica Techo.

meeting a need, Picklesimer said, and he looks forward to partnering with the board to continue maintaining high quality in Chelsea schools. Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said he plans to continue to build on what Hoover already has to offer to the county and state. As the sixth largest city in the state, Brocato said Hoover produces about $4 billion in retail sales each year. “We’re important to the economy of our state, and we want to continue to build on that,” he said. Since taking office, Brocato chose to give around $5 million to Hoover City Schools in addition to covering the cost of school resource officers. The school system is a cornerstone

for the city, he said, and helps bring neighborhoods and businesses to the area. In the future, Brocato said there is a need to be careful in planning future growth. They plan to hire an urban planner, and one goal is to “retrofit suburbia,” he said, which would work to incorporate walkability, biking and other desirable amenities. “We’re going to have to look at our city and transform it in a way, to really urbanize it,” Brocato said. “I think that’s what you see in the youngsters who are living downtown, they will eventually move out of downtown and into our communities and our school systems.” These plans will also provide a chance for revitalization, Brocato said.

April 2017 • A15


Preview of

County manager gives update on projects, finances


Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock discusses finances during the March 2 luncheon. Photo by Erica Techo.

By ERICA TECHO In regard to projects and finances, Shelby County is seeing an uptick in the first four months of fiscal year 2017, County Manager Alex Dudchock told the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce on March 2. Dudchock provided updates on the county’s finances for the first four months of FY 2017 (October through January) as well as new projects. “These are only the ones [projects] that have been initiated or completed in the last four months, so no old data on this,” he said. The county has several ongoing road projects, including new construction and resurfacing. There are multiple projects progressing at this time, he said, to address the issues seen on county roads. “Everybody in here knows that when you’ve got the population growth that we have … we’re always going to be behind in transportation improvements,” Dudchock said. “Some of you today may have gotten caught behind something, from a train crossing the railroad tracks to an unfortunate accident to just capacity problems.” The county also has plans to replace bridges in Sterrett, Helena, Pelham, Wilsonville, Alabaster, Montevallo, Shelby and Dunnavant in this fiscal year. While the FY 2017 budget included around $2.6 million for road resurfacing, a recommendation came before the Shelby County Commission to add more to that budget. “The County Commission is in the process of evaluating a recommendation that came to them recently about investing some additional of our capital improvement funds to our roads and transportation,” he said, “and over the next couple of weeks and months,

we’re hopefully going to have an adoption for 2018 and 2019, that we can advance some more projects with that.” The county is also investing in some capital projects around the county, including facilities at the University of Montevallo and Oak Mountain State Park. New beaches, piers and trails are being installed at OMSP, in addition to updates to the Alabama Wildlife Center and the Oak Mountain BMX track. “It needs to be viable, it needs to be appropriate for you to visit. It needs to have facilities for you to enjoy,” Dudchock said of the OMSP projects. Improvements to the beach are also an investment in Shelby County’s children and young adults, Dudchock said, by providing them a safe and fun area for activities. “If we can drive that youth activity to this location and get it as an outlet for them, for all of the things they want to experience, we’ll be successful,” he said. The county is also constructing 12 new airplane hangars and is involved in improvements at the Cahaba Public Shooting

Ranges in Helena. In regard to finances, based on the first four months of the fiscal year, Shelby County has about $36,495 more in the general fund than was budgeted for and has received more than $2 million more through water services than was in the budget. County Chief Financial Officer Butch Burbage had previously discussed some of these numbers in depth with the Shelby County Commission during its Feb. 27 meeting. “Those numbers tell you a lot because we are improving. It is very encouraging,” Dudchock said. Based on a request he previously received, Dudchock also provided numbers on how Shelby County’s economy compared to the state economy. These numbers were provided through a University of Alabama study, he said. According to the study, the economic recovery is the slowest recovery in postwar history. “So what is it? We’re all still cautious. Waiting for something to happen,” he said. “With that comes that strategic planning.”


The South Shelby Chamber of Commerce will take time at its April luncheon to present scholarships to students from around the county. The luncheon, set for April 6, will spotlight educational entities from Shelby County, and scholarship winners will also be recognized. This year, the chamber raised $7,500 at its annual Boots and Bowties silent auction, and that money will go toward student scholarships. The luncheon will be held at Columbiana First Baptist Church on North Main Street from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $15, and no RSVP is required. Dudchock emphasized the importance of planning and being responsible with finances. “Fortunately for you, you elect folks that are fiscally responsible, even though they’d like to be building roads, bridges, parks — and we do our fair share,” Dudchock said. While final papers have not been signed, Dudchock said there are steps being taken and an economic development fund that has been created that will help advance communities. “There is optimism,” Duchock said.

A16 • April 2017

280 Living

Authentic Vietnamese restaurant opens shop By LEXI COON “My purpose is to bring the best of the best,” said Van Hiep Le, owner of The Easts, a new restaurant at The Colonnade. The Easts, which opened in late March, is an authentic Vietnamese restaurant with many influences, including that of Le’s home country, Vietnam, Le said. Le moved here in 1991 when he was 20 and brought with him his passion for food. He has since been back to Vietnam and eaten at restaurants owned by family and friends and wanted to bring the food to Birmingham. “That’s where I get most of my ideas how to create the dishes and how the food is supposed to be done,” he said. Le said he’s also taken inspiration from Japanese cuisine and restaurants in major cities along the east coast where he’s eaten — hence the name, The Easts. Before opening his restaurant, Le also worked in various high-end restaurants, where he said he learned how to manage the business and treat customers well. Now, with The Easts, he wants customers to experience his Vietnamese food along U.S. 280. “I think this [U.S. 280] is almost like the center of food … Around Birmingham, where, even though it’s not a big city, they have a lot of good restaurants,” he said. “I just did not see the food that I like, and I think I can bring something different.” Le said he plans to have his menu cater to

The Colonnade has recently welcomed a new Vietnamese restaurant, The Easts. Photo by Lexi Coon.

those who are looking for a quick and tasty lunch or take-out, as well as those who want a nice sit-down dinner. “[I want] to bring a new experience to the customer,” he said. “I want you to have a special impression … It [the dishes] can be as real as it gets.” Featuring rice dishes and noodle dishes, The Easts also will offer Vietnamese sandwiches called banh mi and the Vietnamese noodle-soup dish, pho.

“We’re going to take care of the broth overnight, cook it at least 10 hours,” he said of the pho dishes, adding that he plans to use a “special type of beef.” The healthy eating Le wants to instill in his business also will extend to his drink selection, which will offer fresh smoothies and detox water, alongside standard fountain drinks and iced espresso. Chicken tenders and potato wedges will be available for children, too.

“We don’t have a lot on my menu like a lot of other Vietnamese restaurants,” he said. “When it comes to food, and myself, I’m a very picky eater, and I’m going to treat people like the way I want to eat.” The Easts is at 3431 Colonnade Parkway and is open 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; and 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit or call 967-3888.

April 2017 • A17

Events A worker stacks up paint brought to Hoover’s 2016 Household Hazardous Waste Day in the parking lot at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Photo courtesy of Lance Shores/ City of Hoover.

19th annual hazardous waste day April 22 By JON ANDERSON It’s that time of year again — when the city of Hoover offers residents a place to carry all their hazardous household items that shouldn’t go in the garbage. The city’s 19th annual Household Hazardous Waste Day is set for April 22 in the parking lot at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The event is from 8 a.m. to noon. Last year, 1,486 Hoover residents brought items to dispose, an increase from 1,081 in 2015, said Robin Mangino, the administrative services supervisor for the Hoover Public Works and Park Maintenance Department. The items included enough paint and paint-related materials to fill three 30-yard rolloff containers, 28 boxes and 19 pallets of 5-gallon pails, city records show. Workers also collected 24 55-gallon drums of pesticides, nine 55-gallon drums of flammable liquids and solids, two 55-gallon drums of antifreeze, five 55-gallon drums and four 50-gallon drums of household batteries, and 50 55-gallon drums of other hazardous materials. Residents also brought 700 gallons of used motor oil, 200 gallons of used cooking oil, 180 tires, 225 car batteries, 12 boxes of aerosols,

32 fire extinguishers, 870 1-pound propane tanks, 45 20-pound propane tanks, 1,990 compact bulbs and 596 fluorescent bulbs, records indicate. The Hoover Police Department last year took in 791 pounds of leftover or expired medications, seven boxes of ammunition, one shotgun and three handguns, Lt. Keith Czeskleba said. Police also will collect fireworks, flares, gunpowder, military ordnance and souvenirs, explosives, reloading supplies and edged weapons. The Foundry Rescue and Recovery Center is expected to be there again, collecting electronic equipment such as TV sets, printers, computers, keyboards, power cables, radios and telephones. The Foundry will refurbish and resell usable items and recycle the rest. The city also collected about 100 U.S. flags last year that are received by the American Legion for proper disposal, Mangino said. Household Hazardous Waste Day is open to Hoover residents only. Materials will not be accepted from people who live outside the city or from businesses. People should bring a valid driver’s license or current photo ID with their address included.

something for every season at


Mountain Brook 871-3832


The Summit 967-3232


Botanical Gardens 877-3030

The Feast of St. Mark showcases Italian culture. Staff photo.

Experience Little Italy at Feast of St. Mark By SYDNEY CROMWELL In its first five years, St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church’s annual Italian festival has grown into an event that draws people from outside Alabama and sells out tickets each year. The Feast of St. Mark, held on the church grounds, is a celebration of Italian music, food and culture that honors the Italian community that started the church. Event chairman Matt Scalici said this year’s festival includes the introduction of Via San Marco, an outdoor “boulevard” of about 15 food tents offering pasta, sausage, desserts and other Italian fare from local vendors. All food on the boulevard is included in the entry price except beer, wine, limoncello and a few specialty items. “It’ll be like our own Little Italy,” Scalici said. In addition to Via San Marco, there will also be vendors selling cookies, pastries, gifts and

more. Children can enjoy games, rides, face painting, pizza and Italian ice. There will be traditional dances performed by dancers from Fred Astaire Dance and Dance South, as well as music from Razzmatazz, Total A$$et$, a local opera singer and a Frank Sinatra tribute singer. The Feast of St. Mark is April 29 and begins with Catholic Mass at 3 p.m. and lasts until 10 p.m. with a fireworks show. Parking will be available on the church property as well as St. Vincent’s One Nineteen. While proceeds from the festival are used to support church ministries, Scalici said the day is not primarily about fundraising. “We don’t really do the festival to make money,” Scalici said. “For the most part it’s there to share our parish.” Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children 5 and under. There is a limit of 3,500 tickets, and the festival usually sells out. Go to to purchase tickets.

A18 • April 2017

280 Living

April full of fun runs and races Celebrating its 13th year, the annual Walk to End Lupus Now will be held at Veterans Park on April 9. Photo courtesy of Becky Wynne.

By LEXI COON From family-friendly fun runs to a race through Oak Mountain State Park, here are a few options to get active or get involved this month.


► What: 5K run and family-friendly walk ► When: April 1, 9:30 a.m. ► Where: Veterans Park ► Website: UAB Medicine is presenting the 2017 PurpleStride Birmingham walk/run event this year in support of those affected by pancreatic cancer. According to their website, pancreatic cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Walk organizers hope to shed light on this disease and raise money for support and research. Participants can register and raise money as teams or individuals, and proceeds go toward the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Wage Hope initiative.


► What: 3- and 6-mile run ► When: April 8, 8 a.m. ► Where: Oak Mountain State Park, Redbud Pavilion ► Website: The Tranquility Trail Run will open the 2017 Southeastern Trail Series this year with a 3- and 6-mile run. The race follows the trail alongside the Tranquility Lake Trail. Awards will be give to men’s and women’s overall first, second and third place finishers for both the 3- and 6-mile runs, and group awards will be given to competitors in the 40-49, 50-59 and 60 and up age groups.


► What: 5K and 1-mile walk ► When: April 8, 7:30 a.m. ► Where: Veterans Park ► Website: The Autism Society of Alabama will be hosting one of its 15 annual statewide walk/ run events in Hoover to spread awareness of the autism spectrum, which affects as many as 50,000 Alabama residents, according to their website.

The 5K race, which is scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m., is part of the organization’s Race to Solve the Puzzle, and the 1-mile walk begins at 9:30 a.m. The event is designed to be a day to bring recognition, education and hope to families affected by autism.


► What: 1-mile walk ► When: April 9, 1 p.m. ► Where: Veterans Park ► Website:

On April 9, the Lupus Foundation of America Mid-South Chapter will hold its annual Walk to End Lupus Now. This will be the 13th year for the Mid-South Chapter’s walk; the chapter was founded in 1984. “This is a very important event that puts a face on a disease that is underpublicized and underfunded,” said Becky Wynne, events director for the Mid-South Chapter. Participants can raise money as individuals or teams, and proceeds go toward the Mid-South Chapter and the Lupus Foundation of America.

April 2017 • A19 Left: PurpleStride Birmingham aims to raise awareness and support in the fight against pancreatic cancer. Staff photo. Far left: The Diabetes Walk supports Camp Seale Harris, a camp for children with diabetes. Photo courtesy of Camp Seale Harris.

HOMETOWN HERO SUPERHERO 5K ► What: 5K ► When: April 15, 8 a.m. ► Where: Oak Mountain State Park ► Website:

The annual Hometown Hero Superhero 5K is returning this year to Oak Mountain State Park as both a run and run/walk event. Designed to honor police officers, according to the website the race proceeds will be put toward funding a scholarship for children of local police officers. The event will also feature activities for all ages after the race, such as an Eggstravaganza Easter Egg Drop, food trucks, bounce houses and a dunking booth. Participants can come dressed ready to run or as their favorite superheroes.


► What: 1-mile or 5K ► When: April 23, 2 p.m. ► Where: Veterans Park ► Website:

The 2017 Diabetes Walk for Camp Seale Harris is a free run/walk event during which participants can compete in a 5K race or a 1-mile walk or fun run. Designed as a

family-friendly event to raise awareness for diabetes, the race also supports the opportunity for children to attend Camp Seale Harris, the only diabetes camp in the state, according to the race website. Participants can register and raise funds as individuals or teams, and through the walk/ run event will contribute to “Alabama’s leading organization directly serving children with diabetes.”


► What: Walk for cancer research ► When: Varies ► Where: Varies ► Website: Relay for Life, hosted by the American Cancer Society, is a walk event designed as a six-to-24 hour event for teams who are supporting a family member or friend who has been affected by cancer. According to their website, each team has a member walking at all times, because “cancer patients don’t stop because they’re tired, and for one night, neither do we.” April Relay for Life events are available at Vestavia Hills High School on April 22 and Spain Park High School and Heardmont Park on April 28.

Cancer survivors participate in the Survivors Lap during a previous Relay for Life. April Relay for Life events are available at Vestavia Hills High School on April 22 and Spain Park High School and Heardmont Park on April 28. Photo courtesy of Christina Zabala.

A20 • April 2017

280 Living

Home-school workshop coming to Chelsea Chelsea Public Library is located at 41 Weldon Drive, next to City Hall. File photo.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE The Chelsea Public Library will be hosting a home-school workshop on April 8 at Chelsea City Hall. Library Director Dana Polk said that so many people at the library inquire about home schooling, she wanted to offer something to answer their questions. “If you’re interested in home schooling, it gives you resources and directions in which to go. If you’ve been home schooling for a while and want a refresher it’s good for that,” Polk said. “It’s a great overview. If you’ve got any questions at all it will answer them.” The event, in its third year, will be a day packed full of information for those who are thinking about the possibility of home schooling, to those who have been doing it for years. Kristy Trent, coordinator for the Birmingham Home Schoolers Community, organizes the event. She says that it has been received with a great response the past two years.

“The workshop will cover home schooling from beginning to end. We cover the purpose of home schooling, the legalities, choosing curricula and different ways to teach,” Trent

said. “We lay out curriculum, the different things we use that people can touch and see. That’s another value to the workshop; it’s not just hearing people speak, but being able

to see the things people use to teach.” She says one of the most valuable aspects of the workshop is that the speakers are homeschool parents. When they share their story, they always connect to one of the attendees. “Guests can hear from people who have been doing this for a really long time and seen success for their children and education choice,” Trent said. The workshop has evolved from a once-aweek meeting for six weeks to this intensive one-day workshop, giving a lot of information in a short amount of time. “We try to give everyone a good overview of home schooling and its benefit,” Trent said. There is no cost to attend the workshop, but attendees are asked to RSVP so there will be enough handout materials provided. For information, visit

Swinging for Solutions returns to Greystone By ERICA TECHO

Golfers take a few practice swings before the start of Swinging for Solutions in 2015. Photo courtesy of Easter Seals of Birmingham.

Easter Seals of Birmingham brings to Greystone another opportunity to golf while giving back. Easter Seals of the Birmingham area aims to improve the lifestyle of children and adults with special needs. It receives the majority of its funding from grants, United Way of Central Alabama, donations and fundraisers. Services provided by Easter Seals include vocational training, job readiness training and computer skills training for adults, as well as physical therapy, speech-language therapy and occupational therapy for children. No one is turned away due to their financial situation, and thousands of dollars of care is provided each year at no cost. Swinging for Solutions, Easter Seals’ annual

golf tournament and fundraiser, is now in its 15th year. This year, the tournament is April 17 at Greystone Golf & Country Club’s Founders Course. The tournament is a shotgun start and modified scramble with four-person teams. There are multiple sponsorship levels available, ranging from bronze level at $250 to “scoring party” at $3,500 or title sponsor at $10,000. Individuals or companies also are able to donate to Easter Seals of Birmingham if they can’t participate. The tournament will start Saturday at 11 a.m., and a box lunch will be provided. The flight starts at noon, and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be provided at the end of the tournament in conjunction with an awards ceremony. For more information, go to eastersealsbham. org/events/swingingforsolutions.

April 2017 • A21

Mt Laurel Spring Festival back for 16th installment By LEXI COON Spring has sprung, and with it, the Mt Laurel Spring Festival. Celebrating its 16th year, Town of Mt Laurel marketing and community relations manager Julianna Vance said the festival has grown each year and estimated more than 6,000 in attendance last year. Located in the Mt Laurel Town Center, it has since expanded along Olmsted Street down to Olmsted Park and the playground, she added. This year, the festival will have more than 200 vendors with tables for produce, jewelry, clothing, home décor, toys, gifts and artwork. “We have some vendors from Huntsville and Montgomery, but most are local,” Vance said. The festival also will have a variety of food options

At each Tablescapes luncheon, groups will create elaborate table setups and come together to support King’s Home Shelby Auxiliary. Photo by Erica Techo.

including Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, Cantina on Wheels and Urban Pops, as well as live music from local bands such as Goodfellows jazz duo, Steve Wingo and Melanie Rogers, Andrew Tufano and Fiddlers in the Park. During the festival, Olmsted Park will hold an expanded Kid’s Park area, complete with a petting zoo, face painting, inflatables and rides. “I would encourage visitors to take their time and stroll the entire festival,” Vance said. “The Mt Laurel Spring Festival not only showcases the beautiful streets and fantastic shops and restaurants … but also local artisans and farmers. It’s about celebrating community and giving families a fun day out.” The Mt Laurel Spring Festival is April 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, go to

The Mt Laurel Spring Festival, which saw an estimated 6,000 visitors last year, will be returning April 8. Photo courtesy of Mt Laurel.

Former first lady to speak at Tablescapes luncheon By ERICA TECHO Former first lady Patsy Adams Riley is set to speak at this year’s Tablescapes luncheon. During her eight years in the governor’s mansion, Riley worked as an advocate for children in addition to taking on other roles as first lady. Riley has been with Hannah Home Shelby since it was founded 10 years ago. Tablescapes is an annual luncheon hosted by King’s Home Shelby Auxiliary, formerly Hannah Home, which raises money for the 13,000-square-foot home in Shelby County that provides housing for women and children fleeing domestic violence and homelessness. The luncheon is April 19 at Metro Church of God and includes a silent auction in addition to food catered

by Ann Constantine. The morning will start with a “sip and see” and silent auction from 10-11:45 a.m., and the luncheon is at noon. Each of the 30 tables will be decorated with a tablescape created by a luncheon sponsor. “God has been faithful throughout the years of serving the women and children, and in fact, has done so for 10 years now,” said Pam Bradford, president of King’s Home Shelby Auxiliary and chairwoman of the 2017 Tablescapes luncheon. “We are excited about what he has done in the past and look forward to the future with open minds and hearts.” Tickets are $40 at or by contacting Barbara Brickner at 837-8175 or bricknermbb@charter. net.

A22 • April 2017

280 Living

2017 Celebrate Hoover Day to mark city’s 50th birthday By JON ANDERSON If ever there is a year to “celebrate Hoover,” maybe 2017 — the city’s 50th birthday — is it. City officials are inviting the public to come out to Veterans Park for the annual “Celebrate Hoover Day” on April 29. The event started in 2007 as a way to celebrate the city’s 40th birthday and has continued every year since. An estimated 15,000 people attended last year, said Erin Colbaugh, the city of Hoover’s events coordinator. This year’s festivities begin at 11 a.m. with a dedication of pavers in memory of U.S. military veterans at the Veterans Memorial Plaza and continue until 3 p.m., Colbaugh said. After the paver dedication ceremony, officials plan to crank up a forklift and pull a giant apple pie (the pan is 10 feet, 3 inches in diameter) out of a specially-built oven and serve it with ice cream to attendees. There will be live entertainment, including

individuals and groups from Hoover schools, Colbaugh said. Kids will be able to play in a kids zone with carnival rides, inflatables and other games, and people are invited to display their antique vehicles, sports cars and other show cars at no charge on the festival grounds. The Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce also organizes an exhibitor tent in which businesses, nonprofit groups and other organizations in the Hoover area display and share information each year. The exhibitor tent typically has 100 to 125 participants, Colbaugh said. The Hoover police and fire departments also frequently have some of their specialized equipment on display, such as the police helicopters, Special Response Team gear, mobile command unit, a ladder fire truck and equipment for technical rescues. There also will be food and drink vendors on site, typically operating out of food trucks.

An estimated 15,000 people showed up for the 2016 Celebrate Hoover Day at Veterans Park. Photo by Ron Burkett.

Decorators’ ShowHouse returns By ERICA TECHO

The Johnston-Clark Estate on East Briarcliff Road in Mountain Brook will be open for tours from April 29 through May 14. Photo courtesy of the Alabama Symphony Volunteers Council.

Designers from the Greater Birmingham area are once again putting their heads together for the Decorators’ ShowHouse, hosted by the Alabama Symphony Volunteers Council. The Johnston-Clark Estate on East Briarcliff Road in Mountain Brook will be open for tours from April 29 through May 14. The show house features rooms decorated by multiple designers, and all items in the home will be for sale. “Personally, I think [guests] get to see the newest in décor and designs,” said Betsy Cooper, a member of the Symphony Volunteers Council. “They give you ideas that you can then take and use at home.” Designers also will be present at the show house, so visitors can have one-on-one contact with them and discuss any ideas they have.

Ticket sales go toward supporting the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, its programs and educational efforts. Urban Market and Four Corners Gallery, from the 280 corridor, will help design portions of the house, and tickets will be available at English Ivy on Doug Baker Boulevard, Greystone Antiques and Chelsea Lane starting March 22. Pre-sale tickets, which cost $15, will be available through April 28. Tickets at the door will be $20. The house will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. There is no parking at the house. Visitors should park at Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church, where a shuttle will transport them to and from the house. For more information, go to decorators-show-house.

April 2017 • A23

Fire at the Foothills to benefit Hero, Chelsea Kiwanis By ERICA TECHO What started as a friendly chili cookoff between neighboring businesses has now grown into a citywide event. “Really, it all started with Justin [Fogo], and I’d cook chili at home and bring each other samples,” said Scott Weygand, one of the founders of Fire at the Foothills in Chelsea. “A friendly little rivalry started, and I had just kind of come up with the idea of how much fun it would be to come up with a little chili competition,” said co-founder Justin Fogo. The competition between Fogo and Weygand started about five years ago, when Chelsea Fire and Rescue built its station off Chesser Drive and got Hero, the firehouse dog. “We decided to make crockpots of chili and take it to the fire station, have them taste it and say which one’s better,” Weygand said, “but then we decided we might as well try to help the fire department since we’re adolescents in our competitiveness.” Proceeds from the chili competition at Fire at the Foothills go toward the care of Hero as well as his educational program. The competition is judged by firefighters, and even though they founded the event, Fogo and Weygand have never walked away with a first-place trophy. “Our wives win it,” Fogo said. “We’ve placed, but we’ve never actually won it.” The competition transitioned from dropping off crockpots at the fire station to tents in the Tractor Supply parking lot when, three years ago, they added a barbecue competition to the event. That competition became a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) sanctioned backyard-level event last year. “That’s what really pulls people in from all over the place, to win points,” Weygand said. “The Kiwanis Club partners with the city, and there’s prize money to the winners for the barbecue part.” Funds raised in the BBQ cookoff go toward Chelsea Kiwanis, which contributes to children’s charities in the area. The group supports

Above: Scott Weygand announces winners at the 2016 Fire at the Foothills. Left: Proceeds from the chili cookoff benefit Chelsea Fire and Rescue’s firehouse dog, Hero. Photos by Erica Techo.

King’s Ranch, local elementary schools, the Shelby County DHR foster children’s fund and other nonprofits.

“We try really hard to focus most of our attention on charitable organizations that support children in the Chelsea and surrounding

area,” said Kiwanis member Mike Denton. There were 12 BBQ teams in last year’s competition, and Denton said they hope to increase that number to 16 or 20 this year. In addition to food tastings for attendees, there will be bounce houses and tents from local businesses and organizations. Each year, about 2,000 people stop through, coming from Chelsea and neighboring towns. “Chelsea is still a small enough community where the community likes to be involved in events like this, and it’s just a fun way to get the community involved,” Fogo said. Fire at the Foothills is April 22 from 1-4 p.m. in the Tractor Supply parking lot. For more information, or to get a registration form, go to Fire at the Foothills Barbecue and Chili CookOff on Facebook or

A24 • April 2017

280 Living

Community Chelsea honors COP at awards dinner By LEXI COON In the past year, the Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol, a volunteer organization trained to patrol streets and neighborhoods to help keep the community safe, spent more than 8,000 hours on duty, and members of the COP were honored on March 2 at their awards dinner at Liberty Baptist Church. During his keynote address, commander of the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force Clay Hammac spoke of missionary Father Damien, who gave his life to work with lepers on an island in Hawaii. “We are inspired by people who make a difference,” he said. Hammac told the audience to think of what breaks their hearts and added that acting on that idea is often difficult because “it requires us to get messy.” “Your service to this community is absolutely invaluable,” Hammac said. “You are stepping out and encouraging others, and truly making a difference in someone else’s life.” Jim Thornton, director of the Chelsea COP, continued the evening by recognizing the service of the volunteers in the past year, including the 26 members who donated 150 hours or more to patrol time; the 15 members who have patrolled more than 1,000 hours since joining the COP; the four new COP members for 2016; and the 15 Presidential Service Awards, which are given in gold, silver and bronze tiers to those who have worked more than 500

The Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol recognized their volunteers, including the 26 members who donated 150 hours or more to patrol time; the 15 members who have patrolled more than 1,000 hours since joining the COP; the four new COP members for 2016; and the 15 Presidential Service Awards during the awards dinner March 2. Photo by Lexi Coon.

hours, between 250-499 hours, and between 100-249 hours, respectively, in the past year. The Chelsea COP awarded gold Presidential Service Awards to Jim Powers, Hoyt Picklesimer, Jess Rawls and Dominique Dubois. Dubois also earned Rookie of the Year alongside COP co-volunteers of the year Pat McDanal and Jim Thornton. There were 14 other members who submitted 10 or more incident reports, with Mike Cooley preparing

the highest number of reports at 27. “He doesn’t leave his car,” Thornton said. In addition, Shelby County’s Sheriff John Samaniego recognized COP member Alicia Johnson for her contribution that resulted in an arrest in 2016. After seeing a drunken man stumbling toward his car while she was off-duty, she called in the incident. When the vehicle was later found abandoned, she volunteered to monitor the car and again called

to alert deputies, who arrested the individual and informed Johnson of the man’s active warrants. To represent the work the COP has done within Chelsea’s community, Councilman Cody Sumners presented a check to Mayor Tony Picklesimer at the end of the dinner for $282,139, which is equivalent to the 8,708 volunteer hours from 2016. “I’d like to say thank you again to all of you that help … keep our city safe. It’s our No. 1 responsibility in

municipal government,” Picklesimer said. “Never in recent history has it been more important to remember our real purpose for doing what we do,” Thornton said. “I’m both proud and I’m humbled by the support that we give and the support that we receive.” He closed the evening with a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “My dream is of a place and a time, where America will once again be seen as the last best hope on Earth.”

April 2017 • A25

Mt Laurel established a new community garden that includes a vernacular garden cottage, left, built by one of Southern Living’s suppliers, as well as a section for native plants such as the dwarf blueberry, above. Photos by Erica Techo.

Mt Laurel establishes community, native plant teaching garden By ERICA TECHO Mt Laurel has long had a community garden where residents could stop by to pick fresh ingredients for that night’s meal. In November, however, that garden’s purpose expanded. The town’s previous community garden, Common Ground, existed for more than a decade on a vacant lot in Mt Laurel. When it came time to sell that lot, it had to relocate. Around that time, Mt Laurel was hosting the Southern Living idea house, and a new opportunity arose. “Last year, we hosted the Southern Living 50th Anniversary Idea House here in Mt Laurel, and the Southern Living team asked if we would also build a Southern Living Idea Garden for the celebration,” said Ray Jackson, vice president of sales and marketing for Mt Laurel.

One of Southern Living’s suppliers constructed a vernacular garden cottage to go in the garden and shipped it to Mt Laurel in October. After that, they created a new community garden. This garden, however, combined Common Ground’s fresh produce with a nativeplant-teaching garden. “The front beds are native plants because in Mt Laurel, we require all homes to use native plantings for their landscaping,” Jackson said. Native plants were selected with guidance from Sue Webb of Petals from the Past, a native plant garden in Jemison. “In Alabama, we are very fortunate to have so many plants from which to choose. Planting native for us is not a sacrifice, but a way to make our homes and gardens more beautiful and make them more functional for wildlife, birds, bees and butterflies,” Webb said.

Because Mt Laurel residents only are allowed to plant native plants in their yards, the teaching garden allows a location to see how plants look in real life in the Mt Laurel environment, Jackson said. “People are extremely excited about it because, up until this garden was planted with the natives in the front, the only way they could see what they [the plants] looked like was to go online … or look at a magazine,” Jackson said. “Now they can actually see the plant growing live in this environment, and there’s no question about it.” All of the plants are also functional for wildlife, meaning they help attract birds, bees and butterflies, Jackson said. Behind the native beds are raised beds with produce, mainly vegetables with a high yield such as tomatoes, eggplant, okra, peppers, cucumber and squash in order to best use the

small space, Jackson said. “The garden itself was designed by Mt Laurel resident David Brush,” he said. “He’s a landscape architect, and he designed a beautiful garden with a beautiful layout and a beautiful picket fence.” The garden was planted and will be maintained by the Garden Group, which helps maintain plantings around the community including the arboretum and corner beds throughout the community. As a town that was established with the idea of being in concert with nature, Jackson said gardening is one of the factors that attract people to Mt Laurel. “One of the big things that’s a differentiator about this community is that it has a garden that’s for the community and managed by the community,” he said.

A26 • April 2017

280 Living

A helping hand for history

Tony Nivens, left, stands outside of the Weldon Store with lifelong Chelsea resident Ray Shirley. A builder and relocater of homes, Shirley has previously offered to help move historical buildings in Chelsea. Photo courtesy of Tony Nivens.

Resident spurred to start Chelsea Historical Society after store’s demolition By ERICA TECHO When the Weldon Store was torn down from its place on the corner of County 39 and County 47, some saw it as a loss of history; others saw it as the removal of an eyesore. Tony Nivens, however, saw it as a call to action. “The challenge that hit me was, ‘If you love it so much, why didn't you do something to save it?’” Nivens said, who runs the Chelsea Then and Now Facebook page. “That was when I decided, since I had a bit of voice, maybe I should use it to help.” Nivens had signed the petition started by Judy Isbell Galamore, the great-granddaughter of Weldon Store’s original owner, and he had shared photos that showed the building’s “rustic beauty,” but Nivens said he feels like he did not do enough. “I feel I must apologize to Chelsea,” he said. “My vision was not large enough, soon enough. I knew something had to be done with the building — I wished it could be used closer [to its original location], maybe as a museum. But I didn’t actually do anything.” The building was sort of a dividing line in Chelsea, Nivens said, and not just between lifelong and newer Chelsea residents. “A lot of people either new or old thought it was an eyesore,” Nivens said. “And a lot of people, both new and old, thought it was a beautiful symbol of a much simpler time in our lives. Whether they were new or not, it spoke to them.” As someone in support of preserving history and still unsure of how to help, Nivens took steps toward establishing the Chelsea Historical Society

— a group he said he hopes can help “enhance, preserve and share other Chelsea history.” A few historical buildings remain in the old “downtown” Chelsea, Nivens said, and he wants to work with their owners to repair buildings and advocate for them. The group was incorporated in March and hopes to receive its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status before the end of the year. Once they are a nonprofit, they will be able to give tax-free receipts to all donors, but for now they are working to collect money through art that celebrates Chelsea history. The next steps include establishing a steering committee, holding the first official meeting and electing officers. From there, Nivens said he hopes to work with the city of Chelsea to meet the Chelsea Historical Society’s main goals. Councilman Cody Sumners already has volunteered to act as a liaison with the historical society. Sumners, who grew up in Chelsea, said he wanted to serve as liason to help the city work

as a partner with the historical society. “Just to be able to have that immediate contact with the city and the historical society, I think that will help keep us all working together,” Sumners said. Nivens also sat down with Mayor Tony Picklesimer to discuss how the historical society and city can work together. “We want to feel like we’re a part of what the city is doing, and the city is also on board with what we’re doing. We don’t want to be at odds,” Nivens said, adding that while the council and business owners look toward the future, they should be inspired by history. “I think a good balance, of looking at the past, at what made Chelsea so beautiful, should be a part of that conversation.” Picklesimer has asked for the historical society to help with the Chelsea Museum, keeping it staffed once it moves from City Hall to the Crane House, where the Chelsea Library is

currently located, Nivens said. “It’s kind of a put-up or shut-up time,” Nivens said. “If we can’t [get enough people], then we’ve proven that Chelsea history is irrelevant. And I don’t think that’s the case.” Staffing, however, is not something Nivens foresees being an issue. The historical society already has received community support through the Chelsea Then and Now Facebook page, as well as at community events they have attended. As plans progress, Nivens hopes to pull in volunteers from old and new areas of Chelsea. For new residents, Nivens said he hopes a history of community draws them in. “A lot of what Chelsea has been is because of the community atmosphere, and if that’s what you like — the beauty of what makes Chelsea, Chelsea, we’d love for you to be part of the Chelsea Historical Society,” Nivens said. For more information, email Nivens at

April 2017 • A27

Crutchfield and Company from RE/MAX hosted a client appreciation event prior to Valentine’s Day this year. Photo courtesy of Terry Crutchfield.

Local agent hosts client appreciation event On Saturday, Feb. 11, Crutchfield and Company from RE/MAX Advantage South hosted a client appreciation event at the Alabama Theatre. More than 100 clients, friends and family showed up for a private viewing of “Sleepless in Seattle.” Terry Crutchfield and her team wanted to show appreciation for the client referrals that made 2016 their most successful year in real estate to date. Crutchfield and Company paid admission for all of their guests, provided movie theater candy and also entered all guests into a drawing to win a Valentine’s Day gift basket. Theresa Manry Photography was hired to take pictures of all the couples and clients. “The Alabama Theatre itself is such a gorgeous backdrop, we wanted all of our guests to

have the opportunity to have their photo taken in that beautiful venue,” said Crutchfield. Erin Tatum, with Classic Home Mortgage, was the gold sponsor for this event. Greystone Golf and Country Club, Everly’s Boutique, Hair Reflections and Carmike Cinemas donated items for the Valentine’s Day gift basket. “People are asking for us to make this an annual event, we’ve received such great feedback from everyone who attended,” said team manager Erin Metzger. Crutchfield and Company is a team of real estate agents at RE/MAX Advantage South. Terry Crutchfield, team leader, has hired Erin Metzger as the team manager and real estate agent, and Ashley Bryan and Carla Diliberto as full service real estate agents as well. – Submitted by Terry Crutchfield.

Opinion My South By Rick Watson

Beauty sometimes left in storms’ wake The other day when we look for seashells but usually walked, the air felt as thick as only find picked-over pieces. grits. Halfway up the hill on our But once, when we spent New return lap, both Jilda and I were Year’s with our friends Kaye and huffing. It should have come as Ron at their new house in Blue no surprise, because thunderMountain, Florida, our luck was storms were moving in. Even much different. though they were still one day A tropical depression had and two states away, I could feel formed in the Gulf and was their power. moving toward the PanhanWhen I was in Panama in dle, but we didn’t let the storm 1972, a tropical storm swept dampen our spirits. We feasted southward over Cuba and into on lobster, crab claws and some Watson the Caribbean Sea. Sleep was mighty rad gumbo as the storm difficult the evening before the storm made raged outside. Through the south-facing winlandfall because it felt as though I had a weight dows, you could see lightning jabbing the ocean sitting on my chest. offshore. The wind and rain swept through during the The next morning, the clouds had moved off night Friday, leaving an angry surf and clouds to the east, leaving blue skies and a warm sun. the color of mourning doves. The temperatures were in the low 50s, but we Several of us ventured down to the shore put on our sweatpants and headed to the beach. in swimsuits Saturday for a firsthand look at I walked a little ahead of the others and spotted the ocean. Ten-foot waves drove inland, and I a Horse Conch, which is a beautiful shell. It was tried a time or two to body surf, but the force in perfect condition. Soon I heard Jilda squeal of the water slammed me down hard. For days as she found a shell as big as a saucer. afterward, I dug sand from my hair, ears and Even though it was too chilly to swim, all other places. four of us were in the waist-deep surf snatching Once I realized body surfing was unwise, I shells from the sand. By the time we headed found a palm tree that had washed up with the back for lunch, we had a treasure trove. tide and sat for a long while. Off in the distance, We shared shells with friends and family, but I could see cloud-to-cloud lightning, but it was we still have baskets filled with the shells we impossible to hear thunder over the roar of the picked up the day after that storm. sea. I’d never felt so small before. We live in a strange and wonderful world. After breakfast Sunday, the guys in my bar- Storms can sweep through, leaving a path of racks went back out for another look. The tide death and destruction, but sometimes they leave had taken the palm tree away to some other a trail of beauty in their wake. shore. The force of the pounding waves had dredged up long-buried shells with exotic Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His names like Gaudy Natica and Fighting Conch. It latest book, “Life Changes,” is available on was beautiful, but also a humbling experience. You can contact him via email at When we go to the ocean these days, I always

A28 • April 2017

280 Living

A group of recruits during a training on Feb. 28. Urban Avenues started Five Loaves and Fish Camp Films, which focus on entrepreneurism and creativity with 18- to 25-year-olds from Fairfield, Woodlawn, Homewood and Oak Mountain. Photos courtesy of Urban Avenues.


Growing up in an artistic family, John Lankford said his parents instilled in him a heightened sense of creativity. “It’s a really important gift. If you offer people your art and sense their creativity matters, that’s one of the strongest things you could do for them,” Lankford said.

In 2013, Lankford and his wife, Laura, co-founded Urban Avenues. The nonprofit was designed to foster ideas, collaborative ventures and art initiatives that include individuals from different economic backgrounds. The focus was to advance beauty, economic strength and education across Birmingham in intentional ways. The former president of East Birmingham

Mt Laurel resident creates opportunities with nonprofits for local entrepreneurs

Bronze manufacturing company said he never thought much about the city as it related to downtown and the realities of what happened when he moved over the mountain. That was, until he began to get to know his employees and their stories of the steps they took to keep their families going, take care of their children and support their communities. The 70-year-old East Birmingham Bronze

stopped normal production in 2004. After selling part of the company and closing another part after five years, Lankford went back to working in the health care field, but he said that experience with his employees never left him, and he wanted to do something that would have an impact on people’s lives. Urban Avenues started Five Loaves and Fish Camp Films, which focus on entrepreneurism

April 2017 • A29

Urban Avenues recruits work at a Woodlawn Cycle pop-up in the City Series in 2016.

and creativity with 18- to 25-year-olds from Fairfield, Woodlawn, Homewood and Oak Mountain. “We build conversation models that get hard issues out into discussion within small settings and citywide venues,” Lankford said. “We are also connecting groups that are doing good work and don’t know each other in the different corners of the city. Their goal is to work together to reconnect disconnected neighborhoods in Birmingham.” The Lankfords, who live in Mt Laurel, began hosting educators, entrepreneurs and artists in their home. What began with about 25 people quickly grew to 60, then 100. The group moved their meetings to the Avon Theater downtown, and attendees continued to

invite contacts who had similar ideas and had done similar work. “We would break into different groups and talk about how to inspire a deeper love of learning of students that involves them in ways to make an impact,” Lankford said. The first venture created out of Urban Avenues was Five Loaves in March 2014. It provides an in-home culinary experience that creates a night of food, music, art and conversation by the Five Loaves team from Fairfield. Accepting 20 students during each rotation, the venture’s purpose was to blend students from Woodlawn and Fairfield in test kitchens and host pop-up dinners. In the process of building their cooking skills, the students learned each other’s stories and how to invent recipes to tell

the stories of their community. “We would ask them their favorite things their mother or grandmother cooked and take those and turn them into recipes for developing entrees, desserts and salads,” Lankford said. “The students would also learn how to plate food, set tables for different occasions and etiquette in public speaking.” Chefs from around the city spend time with the students, teaching them fundamentals of cooking and helping them before events. Terez Harris, 21, was a part of the first group of Five Loaves students. A 2013 Fairfield High School graduate, Harris was already in culinary school when he began the program. “I decided in 10th grade that cooking would be my purpose in life,” Harris said. “All eight

of us on the founder’s team grew up and went to school together. It was like a brotherhood.” After Five Loaves, Harris and his buddy, LC Rice, created Corey Kitchen, a food pop-up in their hometown of Fairfield. They created the idea, the business plan and menu, and eight months later, their idea became a reality. “We want to show that there is still good in the community and restore the namesake of Fairfield, which was originally named Corey,” Harris said. “We bring people in to serve them good food and spread the love of God.” The team has put on seven events since June, and served almost 300 people. While the students may decide to continue working in food and hospitality, the goal is teaching them to build something from scratch. “They have to go through failures and successes, but they get the sense of dignity that this is theirs,” Lankford said. Harris said Five Loaves helped him to talk to people and describe his food, how to be fast with plating and serving and making sure his guests are comfortable and happy. He is continuing his culinary journey, having worked as a manager at the Ashley Mac’s Cahaba Heights location. “Long term, I want to have my own restaurant and build my own legacy and be one of the top chefs in Birmingham,” he said. A new class of recruits is getting ready to join the Five Loaves team. Students from Westminster School, Oak Mountain, Briarwood and home schools recently went through orientation in February. Westminster junior Pierce Moffett said he is looking forward to trying something different and getting out of his comfort zone. “I think Five Loaves is a cool idea, and I really wanted to be a part of it. It connects so many different people from so many different backgrounds,” Moffett said. “I live in this social bubble where I interact with pretty much the same people every day, and this gives me a chance to experience something different.” Moffett said he is most looking forward to the different spring catering gigs. “It'll be a lot of fun just being in the kitchen with these awesome people and making food with them, not to mention getting to eat some of it when we get done,” he said.

A30 • April 2017

280 Living Bob Wanninger, left, was honored by the Chelsea City Council and thenMayor Earl Niven in fall 2016 when they named the Chelsea Community Center road in his honor. Photo by Erica Techo.


CONTINUED from page A1 tribute to his service. “I was just bawling like a baby,” Merritt Wanninger said. “He was just so grateful.” It was a fitting choice, as a man who was heavily invested not only in city work but throughout his community, that his name should continue to point the way to one of Chelsea’s primary gathering spots. “He just loved getting involved and starting projects and seeing the need and knowing how to delegate. He was just such a happy, nice human being. He was truly a gentleman,” Merritt Wanninger said. “Everybody loved him.” Bob Wanninger was a father of three — Dana, Paige and Will — a former U.S. Marine and an architect. Merritt Wanninger recalls meeting him while she was a 21-yearold pharmacy technician at Carraway Hospital. He was doing architectural work for the hospital, and, despite a 22-year age difference, “I just fell in love with him the second I saw him,” Merritt Wanninger said. They married two years later in 1980. The couple moved to Chelsea in 1991, and their son Will was born shortly thereafter. Merritt Wanninger recalls Chelsea was “just a small little country town” at the time, and her husband would carry Will in his backpack around town. Bob Wanninger was one of nine people who led the efforts to incorporate Chelsea as a city, and once the incorporation was complete, he volunteered his time to work as city clerk for several years. During that time, Niven said, Bob Wanninger grew to be one of his closest lifelong friends and a source of support. “Overall, he has been a strong supporter and ally to me on many, many projects,” Niven said. “Bob has been one of the founding cornerstones of the city of Chelsea.” Outside of Chelsea City Hall, Bob Wanninger was a longtime Kiwanis Club member and founded the Chelsea chapter of the club. He taught Sunday school at Liberty Baptist Church and received Kiwanian of

the Year in 2000 and their previous home South Shelby Chamber burned down in 2007. of Commerce Citizen of “This was just As we pass and as the Year in 2012. Merhis little corner of the time goes by, we ritt Wanninger said she the world,” Merritt never knew many of her Wanninger said of their sort of fade. And Bob husband’s achievements 5-acre property. will fade, but that until he wrote his own The Chelsea Commuobituary. nity Center was his last name will always be “I think those orgadesign project. Wanninger Way. nizations have a fond, “He always said he EARL NIVEN fond memory [of him],” would practice archiNiven said. tecture until he died, “He’s left so many and he did,” Merritt legacies wherever he’s Wanninger said. been,” Merritt Wanninger said. Despite his long list of professional and His architecture projects in Chelsea were civic accomplishments, Merritt Wanninger just a few of the many he worked on over said her husband was defined by his characthe years, including the original Treetop ter: a beloved man, a good listener and always Nature Trail at Oak Mountain State Park, diplomatic and kind. several other cities’ fire stations and the “[He was] the most unselfish man I’ve ever Chelsea home he and his wife shared after known, and I just couldn’t believe it that he

fell in love with me,” she said. Merritt Wanninger said she was happy her husband got to see the sign bearing his name installed before he died at 82. Now when she drives past Wanninger Way, she is reminded of all the reasons she and the city of Chelsea loved Bob Wanninger. “My heart is warm. I’m so proud of Bob for what he’s accomplished and the fact that he never expected anything that people gave him. He was just so gracious when it happened. And the fact that the city did that for him shows what an incredible man he was,” Merritt Wanninger said. Alongside all the ways Bob Wanninger left an indelible mark on the city, Niven said naming a street after him is just one more way to make his memory permanent. “As we pass and as the time goes by, we sort of fade. And Bob will fade, but that name will always be Wanninger Way,” Niven said.

April 2017 • A31 Hoover Detective Courtney Pittman and Lt. Keith Czeskleba scroll through the Hoover Police Department Facebook page while at work. The Hoover Police Department has made use of social media to reach the public more effectively when looking for unidentified suspects. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.









Domestic violence assaults




Other assaults




Forcible rapes




Forcible sodomy




Forcible fondling
















Promoting prostitution




Drug offenses



Weapon violations






Pornography/obscene material 8






Motor vehicle thefts




Other thefts



Stolen property offenses



+35% +32%




















5,085 3,330

4,799 3,119

-8% +100%

-6% -6%



CONTINUED from page A1 20 percent from 2015 and was the second lowest number of robberies since 2001, Capt. Gregg Rector said. Of those 41 robberies, nine were actually shoplifting cases that technically turned into robberies when the shoplifter struggled with someone trying to get away, Rector said. Twenty-seven were more typical robberies of individuals, and five were robberies of businesses, Rector said. There were no bank robberies in Hoover in 2016, he said. Police Chief Nick Derzis said having only 41 robberies is remarkable for a city with more than 87,000 residents. And while the typical police department nationally solves 30 to 35 percent of its robberies, Hoover police cleared 71 percent of their robberies with arrests, Derzis said.


The chief said he likes to think that the department’s reputation for aggressively going after criminals deters some of them from coming to Hoover in the first place. “We have had a great reputation of being able to solve crimes,” he said. That’s a combination of work by a lot of people, including patrol officers, detectives and crime scene

technicians, Rector said. “We process a lot of crime scenes that other departments would never bother,” he said. Derzis said there’s no magic formula to solving crimes, but “our people do a heck of a job. We’re fortunate to have some great people.” He also thanked Hoover’s elected officials for providing the manpower and equipment needed to solve crimes, including fingerprint technology that allows for quick ID checks. In years past, Hoover police would have to send their fingerprint results to Jefferson County, Birmingham or the state for processing and sometimes would have prolonged waits to get answers, Derzis said. Now, they get results much quicker, he said. Hoover did have a 5 percent increase in assaults in 2016 to 857, but forcible sex offenses were down 6 percent to 45 cases, records show. There were four reported kidnappings — the same as in 2015. Domestic violence offenses (included in the assault numbers) were up 3 percent to 559, but the total number of domestic calls was down 5 percent to 984 calls. Hoover police also were pleased to see a decrease in several property crimes. Burglaries were down 28 percent to 226; motor vehicle thefts were down 2 percent to 102, and other thefts were down 11 percent to

1,974, records show. There was a 32 percent increase in forgery cases to 100, but fraud offenses fell 12 percent to 424, and embezzlement cases dropped 8 percent to 76. Weapons violations were up 34 percent to 63, and vandalism was up 5 percent to 252 cases. The number of prostitution cases dropped from 15 to three, but that likely was because there was only one prostitution sting in 2016, compared to two or three in 2015, Rector said. It would be nice if they could do those stings once a month, but manpower is limited, he said.


The number of drug offenses in Hoover increased 7 percent in 2016 to 583. That included 215 marijuana possession cases, 180 drug equipment violations, 167 cases of possession of a controlled substance, 10 drug distribution cases, five drug trafficking cases, four attempts to commit a controlled substance crime and two cases of manufacturing a controlled substance. Other than marijuana, the biggest problem drugs are heroin and fentanyl, which is a painkiller, Rector said. The number of drug deaths in Hoover leveled off somewhat at 12 in 2016, and all were either related to heroin, fentanyl or a combination of the two, Rector said. However, the number of drug overdoses doubled to 52, he said. That means there are more abusers, but the Fire Department is saving more of their lives, sometimes saving the same person more than once in the same day, he said. The offenders are all ages, but most commonly are in their 20s and 30s, Rector said. Hoover police just entered a new effort with the Shelby County district attorney’s office and

several other Shelby County law enforcement agencies to try different strategies to help people break their drug habits, Derzis said.

Hoover residents tend not to tolerate such reckless behavior in their community.


Support from the community is a key component in solving crimes, Rector said. Hoover police don’t see a lot of people scared to come forward to report crimes, he said. “I hope that’s because we’ve earned their trust,” he said. Derzis said he is amazed at how many crimes get solved with the help of social media. “If someone would have told me we’d be solving crimes by using something called Facebook 10 years ago, I would have thought they were nuts,” Derzis said. But word spreads so quickly on social media, he said. “We’ve had suspects named within five minutes of posts,” he said. “It is intriguing to me how many people on social media know these people.” By sharing pictures through traditional media and social media, Hoover police are able to identify more than 90 percent of their unknown suspects, Rector said. “The community actually cares, and that’s a wonderful feeling,” he said. Derzis said 2016 was a rough year for law enforcement officers across the nation, but he’s never seen so much support for the Hoover Police Department by the community here. Parents have brought their children by the Police Department to thank officers for their service, Derzis said. Other people have dropped off food or even brought their grills and cooked for officers at the operations center. “This outpouring of support doesn’t happen in every city of America,” Derzis said. “Without the community, a police department has a very tough road.”

In addition to the Gilotti case, there were two other homicides in Hoover in 2016: ► Authorities in March 2016 charged 29-year-old Christopher Ammons Kemp of Center Point with capital murder, saying he killed the unborn child of a 28-year-old woman with whom he had a relationship when he attacked and beat the woman viciously at a residence on Larkspur Drive. ► A 45-year-old Hoover man shot and killed his stepdaughter’s 24-yearold boyfriend, Howard Marquise Anthony, after the two got into an argument at the Ashby Apartments in Ross Bridge in November. No charges were filed, but the case was taken to a grand jury to consider the evidence. Hoover had at least three more people charged with attempted murder in 2016. In January 2016, 59-year-old Mark Roland Ritchie was charged with attempted murder after police said he, under the influence of alcohol, intentionally struck a 34-year-old pedestrian with his vehicle. Then in September, two 19-yearolds — Chauncey Marcel Holman and Anthony Rudolfo Major Jr. — each were charged with two counts of attempted murder following a shooting at The Park at Hoover apartment complex on Rime Village Drive. The suspects reportedly shot at two other people following a fight, prompting return gunfire from the victims, police said. In that case, police said testimony from eyewitnesses proved helpful in obtaining charges, and police noted


280 Living




neighborly news & entertainment

APRIL 2017

Home & Garden Guide special advertising section


Spring is in bloom, and it’s the perfect time to plant a garden, do some cleaning or start a home renovation. Find tips and tricks from area businesses to jump-start any project in our guide.

DSLD Land Management ...................B2 NextHome Southern Realty .............. B3 Blair Remodeling.................................B4 Secret Garden Shop ...........................B6 Urban Home Market ...........................B8 Billy Brown Flooring ......................... B10 Carbon Recall ......................................B11 EZ Roof & EZ Restoration ................B12 Issis & Sons .........................................B13 Liberty Park ....................................... B14 Mantooth Interiors.............................B15

LIST Birmingham ...............................B16 Paige Albright.....................................B17 Park 35 on Clairmont ....................... B18 R&S Wood Flooring ............................B19 SiteOne .............................................. B20 Spring-Green ......................................B21 Woerner Landscapes ....................... B22 Wedgworth Construction ................B23 Gardner Landscapes ........................B24 Advanced Turf Care ..........................B24 Alabama Brick .................................. B25

Aquatic Gardens .............................. B25 Batts’ Chimney Services .................B26 CitruSolution Carpet Cleaning .......B26 Grand Highlands................................B27 Hanna’s Garden Shop .......................B27 Insurance Place ................................ B28 Plumb One ......................................... B28 Running Roots .................................. B29 Swimming Pool Services ................ B29 Volunteer Mortgage ........................ B30 Window Decor HomeStore ............. B30

B2 • April 2017

280 Living

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


Design your dream landscape DSLD Land Management is a full-service design/build landscape contractor firm. We are a family owned and operated company that strives to meet and exceed the expectations of our clients. During our initial consultation, all on-site factors are considered from function to form, with special emphasis given to economy and value added work. DSLD Land Management, Inc. opened its doors in 1983. Today, DSLD has built an excellent reputation in landscape construction as a prominent design/build company that services central Alabama. Over the past 30 years, DSLD has been recognized and featured multiple times in publications such as Southern Living magazine and Builder’s Architect Magazine. DSLD welcomes projects of any scope and size, and stands ready to serve our clients with a full staff of licensed and degreed designers, a full-time administrative assistant and one of the most experienced field service teams in the business.

DAVID H. SHARP Pursuing his life-long interest in horticulture and business, coupled with a background in drainage and soil erosion, David Sharp was inspired to create the ideal landscape construction company specializing in residential design and installation. This inspiration is now DSLD Land Management, a full service design/build landscape contractor firm founded in 1983. David studied geotechnical engineering

MEGAN A. MCNAIR Megan McNair is a landscape designer. She is a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in landscape horticulture with an emphasis in landscape design. While obtaining her degree from Auburn University, Megan was able to develop a strong foundation in landscape design. She has advanced training and specializes in software such as Dynascape and ProLandscape.

at the Ohio State University. While a student at OSU David was offered and accepted a scholarship to Samford University in Birmingham, where he graduated with a degree in business administration. Soon after graduating, David became interested in applying his background in geotechnical engineering and business administration to a new course of study in ornamental horticulture. In addition to learning from the environment around him, David has developed a more thorough understanding of various cultural landscape design applications from his travels throughout Europe and Asia visiting gardens and landscapes in over 20 countries. David firmly believes in the value of family. Not only does he enjoy his family, but also works to improve the lives of families with at-risk children. David sits on several national boards of directors where he volunteers on behalf of foster

and adopted children across the country.

J. COLE SHARP Growing up alongside his father, Cole Sharp learned the family business from the ground up. Cole attended Jefferson State Community College where he studied computer information systems technology and mathematics. In addition to his major courses, he took horticulture courses to enhance his knowledge of the family business. Today Cole is fully engaged in the dayto-day operations of DSLD; from sales to installation as well as providing technical support.

PEYTON MARKLE Peyton Markle is the newest DSLD team member. She is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Peyton originally joined the team as an intern, but quickly established herself as a strategic thinker and fast learner. As a result, she was offered the position of project engineer. Peyton loves the family business atmosphere at DSLD. “Everyone was so nice and welcoming when I came on,” Peyton said. “The work they do is amazing, and the people behind the work are even better.” For more information, call 437-1012 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

April 2017 • B3


On the cutting edge of real estate Real estate is a constantly changing world for homebuyers and sellers, so the team at NextHome Southern Realty stays on the cutting edge of technology. Jean and Ben Burford and Randy and Sharon McMichael purchased a NextHome franchise in 2016. The franchise is based out of California and this is the second Alabama NextHome firm. Ben Burford said NextHome appealed to them because it kept up with the latest in marketing tools and online information in the age of social media, mobile devices, online listing programs, electronic signatures and more. Buyers and sellers now have more information available to them online than ever before, and it can be hard to figure out how to use that data to find the perfect home or get the best price when selling your house. The NextHome team have the expertise to help their clients understand the tools they have at their fingertips. “We wanted to embrace this consumer knowledge, rather than try to deny the fact that the industry had changed drastically. We wanted to use our professional knowledge to properly assist and educate consumers and help them interpret the information they were getting properly,” Burford said. Instead of a percentage commission, NextHome works for a low fixed price and offers the experience of four professional Realtors plus marketing and professional photography. Burford added that the firm’s signage and branding, designed by the

internationally renowned Pentagram agency, helps homes listed by NextHome stand out from the crowd. “When listing their home with NextHome Southern Realty, homeowners save a substantial amount of their hard earned money, plus have all the advantages of full service professional Realtors,” Burford said. “Homeowners keep more of their money when listing with us.” Burford said NextHome combines modern tools with the high level of customer care that makes a difference in their clients’ buying or selling experience. All four Realtors are Birmingham natives and have an extensive knowledge of the area. Whether first-time or experienced homebuyers, Burford said the NextHome team is the right choice to help clients navigate the market; with negotiations, inspections, financing, mortgage rates and moving. NextHome is committed to bringing clients all the way from their initial search to happy homeowners. “NextHome Southern Realty strives to offer superior, professional service and to match a client with the perfect home for their needs,” Burford said. “Working with NextHome Southern Realty will save you money without sacrificing full service real estate service. Our agents work hard along the process to educate and guide sellers and buyers through the real estate process.” For more information, go to or call 881-1600.

B4 • April 2017

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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Blair Remodeling team brings knowledge and care to every project, big or small


n 1950, four young brothers decided to join their dad in his newly opened remodeling company. Working alongside their dad showed them what it took to run a successful business. They were so inspired by his passion and commitment that 15 years later, the brothers decided to join together and relocate to Birmingham. Over the decades, they have stayed true to what they were taught, understanding that their goal is to always help their clients find durable long-term solutions for their home. “We want our clients to fall in love with their home again. Since we offer just about everything for your home remodeling needs, our goal is to make our clients a Blair customer for life. Therefore, we want to make sure we provide our clients with an exceptional experience,” said Craig Blair, sales and marketing director for Blair Remodeling. “We understand that your home goes through changes and that as you grow and change, so can your needs and tastes. We have always wanted to help our clients see the beauty of their homes and how it can be their dream home forever.” The Blair team works closely with their clients to determine not only their needs but their style preferences as well. Their customers benefit from their unique knowledge of the many product offerings available in the market today. They know there is a lot out there and encourage their clients to visit their showroom where they can see up close the multitude of options, styles and colors or the various siding, windows, decks and roof products they offer. “It is important that our clients

understand every option that is available to them. We want them to find exactly what they are looking for, and we are here to help talk it through,” said Billy Reel, president of Blair Remodeling. “Come experience the new Blair showroom, and it will make your selection process so much easier.” The availability of the showroom is a great benefit to their clients because it helps them to better visualize their dreams than a small sample, picture or drawing. “Our clients can see life-size displays of a multitude of options while actually putting their hands on our work. For example, our window displays show clients how our new windows will actually look once installed from the inside and the outside. Our team is experienced and very knowledgeable with the products offered in the marketplace today, so we can demonstrate and offer a solution that best meets our clients’ needs and desires right in our showroom,” said Billy Reel. Blair offers exterior remodeling

like replacement windows, decks, roofing, siding and gutters and interior remodeling such as kitchens and baths, room additions and basements. From large to small, every job is important. Recently, the Blair team completed a project where they removed EFIS stucco from the home and installed durable vinyl cedar shakes, manufactured stone, architectural roofing and vinyl replacement windows. In addition, they installed a new deck and screen room. And, it is not just residential. Blair has many business projects, including their recent project of installing a roof at the new Brock School of Business at Samford University. It is experience on the team as well as an emphasis on performance, education and training that has allowed for high quality and consistent, dedicated service that goes above and beyond every time. Blair experienced substantial growth beginning in the year 2000 with the addition of key personnel and product

offerings. Building on this growth, Blair opened its first product showroom in 2007 on Valleydale Road in Hoover. In 2011, Blair became a Commercial Roofing General Contractor and has since completed several high-visibility projects. In 2016, Blair purchased the old All South Appliance building in Homewood to house its Residential and Commercial team and begin construction on a state-of-the-art showroom for home improvement products. Whether you’re in the planning, preliminary or project phase, each is carried out with a knowledgeable, experienced and caring staff with all of the tools to get the job done correctly. “Because remodeling can be a complicated process, we try to make it easy for our clients through a variety of ways: providing a very detailed written plan of action that will include a thorough description of the products we plan to use and any details of the installation, and what to expect before and during each stage of construction. Our goal is to provide our clients with an exceptional experience,” said Craig Blair. The Blair team will continue to invest in education and training to strive for excellence in performance, knowledge, state-of-the-art product offerings, and customer service. Providing the best services possible is what has made Blair the right choice for hundreds of projects over the last 52 years. Find out more about Blair Remodeling by visiting and remember, call the ones who care. Call Blair. Blair Remodeling is located at 4 West Oxmoor Road. For more information, call 991-8555.

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

April 2017 • B5

B6 • April 2017

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

280 Living


Going the extra mile for customers


ector Hoyos started working in the landscaping business when he was 15 years old and lived in Puerto Rico. “That changed my life,” he said. “I enjoyed creating, I enjoyed building a relation with Mother Nature and other people.” Hoyos later moved to Orlando, where he worked as a missionary for 17 years and used landscaping as a way to help people in rehabilitation develop a relationship with nature, similar to his own. “When you put people working next to Mother Nature and everything, it’s a sensational feeling. It’s a healthy relation,” he said. After his missionary work, during which he developed golf courses and landscapes for luxury homes and resorts, Hoyos came to Birmingham and opened Dreamscape Landscape. Based off of Highway 11, he said his business had humble beginnings, starting on an empty lot with pavers. To help create his landscapes, he took additional classes upon moving to learn more about the topography and soil in the area to ensure he was knowledgeable about the terrain of Birmingham and could create lasting landscapes for the community. And to help create his business, he looked to the Church of the Highlands. “I copied exactly the business plan from the Church of the Highlands,” Hoyos said. He put his employees on a “growth track,” which helps him and his workers discover their abilities as they work for him, and to he modeled his work off of the Church of the Highlands to lead his business. “We’re working together,” he said. “Your prosperity depends on your spirit growing. You can’t put success before the Lord.” Since its founding, Dreamscape Landscape has grown into a full landscape company that includes lighting, irrigation and low maintenance service. Hoyos and his team also create hardscapes such as patios with pavers or

rocks and can add wood divisions such as pergolas, gazebos and fencing to their landscapes. To create an ideal landscape for his clients, Hoyos said he sets up a free appointment and draws up a design based on the clients’ preferences. If his clients are a new couple, he prefers to meet with both of them, so they can all work together to create their ideal

landscape. From there, he works with his clients to determine what is within their budgetary range but still gives them their dream landscape. “We’re taking care of the details,” he said. “I don’t take for granted they [my clients] are giving me the opportunity to invest their money.” For those who are more of the do-ityourself type, Dreamscape Landscape

has expanded to include a storefront, The Secret Garden. Opened in the past year, Hoyos calls the shop “the full garden learning experience,” and says that his customers get the experience they need to properly take care of their plants and landscape, regardless of their gardening abilities. “When you walk out with a plant here, you walk out with a piece of paper, too, so you know how you’re going to take care of the plant,” he said. “We want to make sure that people understand.” In addition to plants and horticulture education, the shop offers mulch, rock, gravel and topsoil to help you grow your plants. “Whatever you need for the supplies from the garden shop, we have it,” Hoyos said. “And if we don’t have it, we find it for you.” Clients of Dreamscape Landscape are also able to visit The Secret Garden to see firsthand what Hoyos’ creations look like. At his shop, he has examples of the different pavers and an outdoor kitchen, which he said is his favorite structure to create so far. “I love to create a space to create memories,” he said. “It’s all about the traditions; people get together on the weekends and enjoy family [there]. And that’s my joy.” In the near future, Hoyos is working to put together a delivery service that works with The Secret Garden via a website and smartphone app. The service would include same-day or next-day delivery to the Chelsea area for plants and supplies, and if you live in a 5-mile radius of the shop, the delivery is free of charge. As a landscape company with an established storefront, Hoyos prides himself on the integrity of his business and being a “drama-free” company, something he says comes with his personality. “That’s the most important thing to me, is giving the service to the people of Chelsea and Birmingham,” he said. “We go the extra mile for people, and the Lord does the same for us.”

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

April 2017 • B7

B8 • April 2017

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

April 2017 • B9


Find your vision for your home with a business that treats you like family


rban Home Market not only knows their customers, we embody them. We are known for being a vibrant home for a variety of lighting, architectural pieces, gifts, home furnishing and design services, all collected in one 17,000-square-foot space. What you’ll find inside Urban Home Market is always different. Every season offers a chance to find new and unique products to fit not only your home, but your lifestyle. Shopping at Urban Home Market is never boring or intimidating. We want to immerse our customers in a complete experience that appeals to all of the senses, while staying authentic and approachable. While Urban Home Market is often

mistaken as an upscale retail chain, we are a family owned business that was spun out of a home and family-grown passion. Therefore, we offer personalized service and products that big corporations and big box retailers cannot. There is no national sales plan provided by a corporate office in another state, it is simply Kathy McMahon and her vision. Being local allows us to focus on the “family community” and serve each customer as a friend and neighbor. These friendships tie creativity and design with authenticity because of our knowledge of our customers. “Our customers are our friends and what we do is never, ever about selling to them,” Kathy said. Urban Home Market’s core philosophy

is guided by style, design and the passion to inspire imagination throughout our store. We have a dynamic, energetic team of designers and visual merchandisers who are responsible for every aspect of the store’s look and feel. “Storytelling” is a key focus for our showroom. Each vignette serves as a series of different inspirations created to be inviting and stimulating. Our merchandising does not highlight product so much as set a mood and create a starting point to direct the customer on their own path. Every season, our team of buyers travels across the country to attend major national furniture and accessory markets to find the latest product and design trends. This, combined with our

interests and the needs of our local customers, determines our inventory. Our merchandising mix is very dynamic, layered and dense. We have many humble, recycled and natural materials. Many of the store’s most striking visual effects have been crafted out of mundane materials. This adds a rich layer of artistry and visual wit to the store experience. To learn more about the coming trends for spring 2017, please be sure to connect to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Our social media shows how to take trends and make them unique through our product shots and style tips for customers on the go. Urban Home Market is located at 1001 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 101. Call 980-4663 or visit

B10 • April 2017

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

280 Living


Brown’s 42 years of experience, expertise contribute to success When it comes to his favorite project that his team has done, Billy Brown from Billy Brown Flooring can’t pick just one. “We get pride out of every project we take on,” Brown said. “From big to small, they are all important, and we take pride in every one we do.” That is probably why, after 42 years in the field and five years of operating Billy Brown Flooring, Brown is so successful. Billy Brown Flooring services a mostly designer-driven market that focuses on high quality area rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting. “There are so many enjoyable things about this business, as crazy as that may sound,” Brown said. “I enjoy being able to work with my family, I enjoy the amazing clients we have and I enjoy the process. Even after all these years, I still love being able to excite a client with a beautiful finished product that was produced in our showroom. I love working hard and getting a job perfect. I enjoy the education and the learning curve that we are constantly going through due to the ever-changing nature of this business. I really enjoy and appreciate the clients that I’ve known and have worked for their family for decades.” Not to say the job is always easy. “In the rug business, there are a lot of moving parts that have to be kept up with,” Brown said. “Freight, measuring, ordering, receiving, financing and stocking can all be challenging. And the pace sometimes gets so hectic that all the technology in the world can’t help and it’s things like memory, your training, knowing the limits of you and your product, et cetera. And even with all of that, sometimes it still takes a little luck.” Trends on the way include the ever-changing structure of materials, Brown said. “The materials that are being used now in carpeting are evolving, such as the blending of various materials, ranging from wools, silks, viscose, polyesters and nylons,” he said. “Also, technology has allowed us to introduce colors and dyes in these products in ways that we have not been able to do before.” Brown’s biggest piece of advice to homeowners? “Find someone that you can trust, follow advice, and also be willing to do some of your own research,” he said. “Changing habits can help with new product too.

When our carpet ages, we can tend to take liberties such as walking through the oil spots, the red berries or understandably just general less concern is shown. When the new carpet arrives, its best that some of those old practices be revisited. And just as a general note — we love dogs! But probably 75 percent of our calls for repair comes from dogs. Another 10 percent each comes from child or adult spills. And another 5 percent in product or installation problems.” Brown’s team never wants to fall into that five percent, and to avoid it, they offer personalized service

that larger companies can’t compete with. “We realize we are swimming upstream against the ‘big box’ stores, and although we can’t compete with them on some levels, we can more than compete in areas that require greater experience, knowledge and expertise,” Brown said. Billy Brown Flooring, 2720 5th Ave. S. in Irondale, is open Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m.-noon. For more information, call 2663714 or visit You can also find the company on Facebook and Instagram.

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

April 2017 • B11


Changing energy use benefits home, environment and wallet Making your home more energyefficient isn’t just good for the earth — it’s good for your wallet, too. Sebastien Kidd opened the Birmingham franchise of Carbon Recall after 24 years as an engineer and manager in manufacturing. Carbon Recall’s services, Kidd said, can reduce homeowners’ utility bills and increase their comfort and property value. “Carbon Recall Birmingham affords me the opportunity to go to someone’s home or business and help them, either by finding ways to improve energy efficiency or just to share or learn ways to change energy usage,” Kidd said. The company offers a wide range of energy-saving services, including building sealing and insulation, lighting, heating and cooling, air quality, plumbing and hot water heaters, electrical work and solar power. Kidd also offers a free in-home energy check-up with homeowners and a more extensive energy audit that determines the best actions to improve a home’s energy efficiency. Kidd said he also helps homeowners plan financially for energy decisions in the future, such as replacing a water heater or appliances. “We try to educate property owners on what are their big users and abusers of energy. We recommend solutions based on the property owner’s needs and wants. Our solutions are long term,” Kidd said. “For example, most homes would benefit from a programmable thermostat, but to get the most out of your thermostat and heating and cooling it is important you have good duct work. In the typical duct system, more than 20% of the air is leaking out or in to where you don’t want it. We can help you

get the most out of your investment.” Older homes can be major sources of energy waste, but Carbon Recall can also help make sure new homes are up to the latest energy standards and “future-proof” them for the next wave of improvements. Carbon Recall also offers evaluations and services for businesses looking to lower their energy bills. While Carbon Recall can help make major changes in a home’s energy efficiency, Kidd said there are little steps

homeowners can take on their own. These include closing fireplace dampers, buying Energy Star-rated appliances and equipment, lowering the hot water temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and using surge protectors or timers to turn off power to devices when not in use. “If the plug or electronic device is warm, it is using electricity,” Kidd said. Kidd holds several energy efficiency certifications, including the Building Performance Institute’s professional

building analyst, the Department of Energy’s home energy score rater, duct air tightness technician from the State of Alabama and qualified credentialed air tightness verifier from the Home Builders Association of Alabama. Kidd said he loves that his job gives him the chance to reduce waste and costs for Birmingham homeowners, plus he gets to learn from and teach others every day. For more information, call 205-719-6886 or visit

B12 • April 2017

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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What you need to know about roofing We asked roofing specialist Gerry Rotter of EZ Roof what homeowners should be aware of regarding roofs. Here’s what he had to say: Q: What advice would you give to homeowners thinking about replacing their roof? A: Talk to a professional. Find someone who is fully licensed and insured, with experience and a good reputation. Always use a company that is rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau. Remember, if you have any warranty issues that arise, you want a company that will be around — one that you can find years down the road. Look up the address of the business using Google Earth. Choose a company with a brick-and-mortar business versus one operating out of a basement. Find reviews and ask for references. The biggest thing is to ask questions. Your roofing contractor should be knowledgeable about products and solutions for your individual project. Also, ask about warranties. What extended warranties does the company provide? What is the warranty? Q: What are some signs that it’s time for a new roof? A: If you notice your shingles are curled, cracked or missing, or you find shingles on the ground, it’s time for an inspection. Age is also a big factor. If your roof is at least 20 years old, you may need a new roof. Are your neighbors getting new roofs? Homes built around the same time period and in the same location will experience the same types of weather conditions and natural wear. Did your neighborhood experience a hailstorm or high winds? You may have damage that is covered under your homeowner’s insurance. When in doubt, call a professional roofer for a free consultation. A professional can tell you how much life is left in your roof, if there is storm damage worthy of a filing a claim, and what action is recommended. Be careful, though. There are groups that I refer to as “storm chasers” that exclusively pursue insurance claims. These groups will encourage you to file a claim, whether there is one or not, which can increase your insurance rates. Make sure you are talking to someone

that has your best interest in mind. Q: Why should homeowners choose EZ Roof as their roofing contractor? A: EZ Roof is locally owned and operated, and has been in business for over 20 years. We are fully licensed and insured, and have worker’s compensation and general liability insurance. EZ Roof has an office and showroom located on Valleydale Road in Hoover. You can visit us in person and view real samples of the products we use. You can always put a face to the name. EZ Roof has a full-time staff, which means we do not subcontract out our work. You will always be getting someone reliable, professional and experienced on your job.

We also make payment easy. We do not collect anything up front, but rather upon completion and satisfaction of the job. Financing is also offered to help with the upfront expense of a new roof — including borrower-friendly plans like 12 months with no interest or payments*. We pride ourselves on our reputation and treating our customers like we would our own family. EZ Roof is top rated on professional roofing sites, has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and A rating with Angie’s List. I encourage you to read our reviews or even visit us in person to learn more. EZ Roof & EZ Restoration is located at 2078 Valleydale Road. For more information, call 968-1034 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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35 years of service and quality Issis & Sons has the furniture, flooring and more to turn your vision of your home into a reality. Owner Steve Issis began selling rugs and flooring 35 years ago. There are now two flooring stores in Greystone and Pelham and furniture galleries in Vestavia and Pelham, but Operations Manager Nancy Gowens said the mission of Issis & Sons has stayed the same. “What Issis was always focused on was service and quality,” Gowens said. In addition to home furniture, rugs and flooring, Issis & Sons also offers outdoor furniture, blinds, custom drapery and custom bedding. Gowens said most of their products are American-made by quality companies, and they choose sellers “who stand behind what they say, because that’s how Steve [Issis] built his reputation.” Issis & Sons is also committed to giving each customer a unique home, so Gowens said they don’t buy furniture pieces in bulk. “We try to carry unique pieces,” Gowens said. The company also provides design services at no cost to customers purchasing their products. Gowens said this is often the key to turning a great piece of furniture into a great room. “Most people, they know some things they like but they don’t know how to put it together,” Gowens said. “It’s hard to gauge what would look good in your home if you’re not accustomed to doing it every day.” Issis & Sons designers will make home visits to give advice on layout, color schemes, scale and more. Every designer

at Issis & Sons understands that their customers have different needs and wants, Gowens said, so the rooms they design always reflect the customer’s tastes. “It’s about the customer,” Gowens said. “Issis’ design team will help determine what your needs are.” Issis & Sons also offers many customized design services for clients looking to customize their furniture and white-glove delivery service. From in-home design to staff at their four locations, Gowens said superior service

has always set them apart. “Every job we do — it’s not a sale, it’s a relationship,” Gowens said. “We stay with you the whole way through.” After 35 years in business, Issis & Sons has developed a trustworthy reputation both in Birmingham and across the state. “You’re not going to have to worry, are they going to be there next year?” Gowens said. Gowens has been part of the business for more than 18 years, and she said her favorite part is the staff and the clients

she meets every day. In many cases, repeat clients become close friends. “Some of my best friends are my clients,” Gowens said. For homeowners ready to make a design change in their home, Gowens said to take time walking through one of the Issis & Sons stores. You can talk with designers and staff there and be confident that they will help find what you need and won’t waste your time. For more information about Issis & Sons’ locations, services and popular brands, visit

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


Who can resist a hometown story? A HOMETOWN LIKE NO OTHER Liberty Park is a familiar name among people seeking just the right place to live in Birmingham’s acclaimed suburb of Vestavia Hills. Located within 10 miles of downtown Birmingham and just 15 miles to Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport, Liberty Park is an expertly designed, master-planned community spanning nearly 4,000 acres of rolling, richly wooded land graced with waterfalls, creeks and lakes.

LIBERTY PARK’S HISTORY OF HOME Since Liberty Park’s first family moved in nearly 25 years ago, Liberty Park has grown into a true hometown, with over 1,400 families now calling this amazing community home. Families from all across the country and abroad have chosen Liberty Park, not just for what is here at Liberty Park today, but also for all the promises of its very bright future.

WALKING TO SCHOOL IS BACK Liberty Park is proud to have two highly ranked Vestavia Hills schools within their community. With Liberty Park Elementary and Middle schools at home in Liberty Park, children can walk or ride their bikes to school. And because their classmates are also their neighbors, there’s a very special camaraderie to school life at Liberty Park. From special events to cheering on the sports teams, everyone at Liberty Park enjoys being involved.

A LIFESTYLE YOU’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER If there is just one thing that sets Liberty Park apart from every other community, it’s that Liberty Park is designed for friendships. From the community swim center and tennis center to the parks and playgrounds to the lakes and miles of walking trails to the sports complexes nearby, there’s always something fun to do together. And for those who love the game of golf, Old Overton Club, with its award-winning 18-hole golf course and refreshed clubhouse, is accepting full golf and social memberships.

NEIGHBORHOODS SIZED FOR HELLOS As a master-planned community, Liberty Park offers discreet and intimate neighborhoods, so you can choose your favorite style of home and setting. These smaller neighborhoods within the larger masterplanned community are designed to make it easier to meet your neighbors and enjoy the friendship of spontaneous gatherings. Liberty Park’s newest neighborhood, The Overlook, is scheduled to open this spring and will feature 52 stunning new homes from the mid $400s to $700s.

NEW HOMES TO LOVE To ensure you always find your dream home, Liberty Park presents new collections and new styles almost every year priced from the low $300s to over $600s. These always new and exciting homes feature

a variety of classically styled architecture and bright open interiors carefully planned for the way families really live. And each home is lavished with beautiful features, including the latest in energy saving features and smart home technology. So every home not only lives smarter and easier, they also live more efficiently. And that’s very good for your family and our planet.

WELCOME HOME For all the exciting news now happening at Liberty Park, the same wonderful qualities that have made it one of Birmingham’s best-selling master-planned communities are still here for everyone who believes a true hometown is still the best place to call home. For more information on Liberty Park, call 205-9456401 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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Unique, specialized experience for customers Mantooth Interiors is known for providing its customers with the very best in home furnishings since 1973. Their impact, though, is hard to label. “We have been asked many times, ‘Are you a furniture store? A design store? A bed store?’ We like to say no to all that,” said Lynette Mantooth. “We are Mantooth — you have to experience us to understand.” Mantooth Interiors was originally known as The Brass Bed and opened in 1973 on Valley Avenue in Homewood. Founded by Larry Mantooth, his wife, Lynette, joined him in the business venture in 1986, 31 years ago. “We originally started as a brass bed shop and over the years have evolved into a full furniture, upholstery, linens, lamps, accessories and design services shop,” Mantooth said. Homewood has always been home for the business — but its location isn’t the only constant. “Another constant is the excitement to wake up every morning and still be energized to get into the shop,” Mantooth said. “You never know who you are going to meet or whose fabulous home you get to work with.” Built on a commitment to quality and service, Mantooth Interiors is fully staffed by interior designers who have the talent, creativity, and most importantly, the passion to create the perfect atmosphere for the perfect home. As Mantooth Interiors would say — their team has interior motives. “Working with our clients to create comfortable and inspirational environments

for living is what makes our design team excited every day,” Mantooth said. “So, when you meet us, don’t be surprised by how much we want to get to know you. Our desire to collaborate with you so your style appears in every detail of your home is what sets us apart.” Mantooth said her team values time with their clients. “We listen to them and form a plan as a team,” she said. “Listening to our clients helps us develop a design plan that is functional yet elegant and full of style with a bit of a wow factor. Our goal is that every home is a reflection of the homeowner, not the designer.” To that end, every piece of furniture or upholstery is chosen with the homeowner in mind — “every tiny detail,” Mantooth said — and Mantooth Interiors offers a multimillion dollar inventory with delivery usually occurring within a few days. “Our designers come out and help place your new purchase and incorporate your old with the new,” Mantooth said. The ultimate goal — in addition to fantastic home furnishings including fine furniture, drapery and window treatments, lighting, accessories, linens, metal beds, fine art, gifts, area rugs, and classic furniture — is friendship with customers, Mantooth said. “Some of our longest and dearest friends started out as clients,” she said. “We can’t wait to meet you.” Mantooth Interiors, 2813 18th St. S., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 879-5474 or visit

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LIST: Another Homewood success story Thanks to a wild idea two local Realtors had three years ago, Birmingham residents have saved more than $3 million. Melvin Upchurch and Brent Griffis started LIST Birmingham in 2014 on the premise of swapping out traditional real estate commissions with flat fees. To date, the modern-day real estate company has sold approximately 400 homes for a flat fee of $2,500 each — saving their clients an average of nearly $10,000. Now celebrating the company’s three-year anniversary, the pair believes their wild idea has paid off in a big way. “With this model, we know we can turn a profit and save the seller money,” said Griffis, who’s worked in almost every arena of residential real estate and thrives on giving clients the best deal possible. “We built LIST to be able to provide a top-tier selling experience while also allowing sellers to hold on to more of their hard-earned money.” Like most modern-day companies, LIST credits their success to harnessing user-friendly technology to streamline the selling process. Their website is a revolving door of the latest homes to hit Greystone, Brook Highlands, Chelsea and a long list of other Birmingham areas. “It’s a lean machine,” said Upchurch, who likens LIST’s business model to Southwest Airlines, seeking efficiency and reducing overhead costs wherever possible. Together, Upchurch and Griffis were able to satisfy a need in the local market — in effect filling a niche for Birmingham’s more savvy sellers and buyers. Upchurch says a lot of LIST's value lies in the company’s full-service approach. Clients get the red carpet rolled out for them when it comes to customer experience. That includes a staging

Brent Griffis, center left, and Melvin Upchurch with their families in 2014.

consultant, professional photographer, a Colonial yard for-sale sign, electronic lock box and social media visibility. The pair — along with their seasoned team of professionals who have more than 60 years of real estate experience combined — are reshaping the way houses are bought and sold in the greater Birmingham area. “There are other non-traditional companies, but their service is discounted,” Upchurch said. “That’s what distinguishes us from the other companies.”

When LIST first launched three years ago, they relied heavily on referrals and word of mouth marketing. Now, with their for-sale signs dotting almost every edge of Birmingham’s downtown and suburbs, LIST has enjoyed a steady flow of satisfied clients. “It was a huge relief and worth its weight in gold not to have to show the house with three kids in it while planning an out-of-state move,” said Emily Ball, who reached out to LIST when she abruptly found out her family needed to move to North Carolina. The family’s

home sold less than 24 hours after hitting the LIST website. Another satisfied customer, Katie Dudley said, “Melvin was always there and always available to guide us and be a voice of reason.” Now with three years under their belt, the LIST team is looking forward to saving Birmingham residents more money and building a bigger base of satisfied clients in the process. For more information, call LIST Birmingham at 582-4060 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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Find the perfect rug for your space Step inside Paige Albright Orientals and you’ll be surrounded by a collection of handpicked, inspiring pieces. Albright got her start in the oriental rug business in 1999 and opened her own store about 10 years ago. She is Alabama’s only Oriental Rug Retailer Association certified oriental rug appraiser. Paige Albright Orientals houses rugs made in Morocco, Iran, Turkey, northern China and other countries, and Albright works with homeowners and interior designers to find the perfect, one-of-a-kind rug for their space. As a certified rug appraiser, Albright went through a rigorous four-year certification process, learning to identify the age, geographic region and other details about a variety of rugs. Behind each oriental rug is a unique story, and as an appraiser, Albright is able to share that story with the clients who will make a rug part of their home. While her store is filled with pieces that inspire her, Albright said no two rugs are the same or meant for the same type of room. An oriental rug can complement an array of modern and traditional design styles, and Albright has even used the same rug in two very different room designs to show their potential. She has the knowledge, design background and passion to make sure each customer takes home the perfect rug for them. One of Albright’s favorite tasks is creating custom pieces for clients, which happens about once a month. Whether creating something brand new or choosing from her existing inventory, Albright said she enjoys taking a designer’s color palette, furniture plans, budget and room size to pick out exactly

the rug they need. Albright said she also relies on her staff to create a great buying experience for their customers through friendly and helpful customer service. Paige Albright Orientals is a “true team effort,” she said. An oriental rug is a significant investment for a home, and Albright said

she encourages customers to buy not only what they love, but also the best quality they can afford. Many times, an oriental rug is a purchase for life. “Buy what you love. Don’t settle. If you don’t love it, don’t get it. I never want to talk anybody into something. I really want you to love it and enjoy it because you’re going to have it forever,” Albright said.

Paige Albright Orientals is located at 2814 Petticoat Lane in Mountain Brook and open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., but Albright recommends calling or emailing in advance to make sure she does not have an appointment with another designer or homeowner. For more information, call 877-3232 or visit

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Park35 offers luxury living and amenities Park35 on Clairmont only began pre-leasing last summer and moved in its first residents last September, but its impact is already being felt. Park35 distinguishes itself in the Birmingham market as the only luxury, high-density apartment community located within an established high-end neighborhood with walkability to retail and restaurants. “Some of the newest communities in the area do not combine the levels of on-site amenities, high-end finishes, secured structured parking and adjacent retail that Park35 offers its residents, giving the community the ability to offer a superior product at a rent level that is competitive with other luxury communities,” said Kayla Bates, director of marketing for the Bristol Development Group. Bristol is a leading private residential real estate company that specializes in developing, building, marketing, operating, managing and selling urban and suburban multifamily communities. Established in 1999 by Ashlyn Hines, Dan Daniel and Sam Yeager, Bristol is research-driven, highly focused on its target markets, and has a distinguished history of successful development in the apartment and condominium sectors. “Bristol has been the lead developer in 34 projects in seven states, including more than 8,300 units of residential development that equates to over $1.1 billion in asset value,” Bates said. “Bristol’s current development pipeline is over $240 million.” Park35 fits into Bristol’s impressive portfolio of properties. All amenity spaces are conveniently located within one building, the clubhouse is outfitted with multiple TV screens for meeting and viewing parties, and there is a luxury pool — perfect for pool parties and sunbathing. The property offers two outdoor kitchens for gourmet entertaining poolside, a fire pit, outdoor televisions and a state-of-the-art fitness center with on-demand video access. There is bike storage and a maintenance shop and conditioned storage is available, as is rentable office space. There is even a complimentary latte lounge, access-controlled garage and a dog park and pet spa with deluxe grooming stations. All of this is in addition to AT&T U-verse high-speed internet and Wi-Fi, a package delivery and

storage system, and tree-lined streets, lush courtyards and generous balconies. Park35 offers one, two, or three bedroom floor plans, wood grain plank flooring in all living areas, quartz countertops with three unique finish options and custom cabinetry. Stainless steel appliances are in the gourmet kitchens, and the bathroom is all-tile. The space offers walk-in closets, 9-foot ceilings, a washer and dryer and 24-hour emergency maintenance. “It’s not the center of the universe, but it might just feel like it,” Bates said. “Because no residential location in Birmingham surrounds you with the incredible variety of choices you’ll find at Park35.

Whether you golf or not, you’ll love the lush, green escape of Highland Park Golf Course. And on the other side, there are restaurants, retail, grocery and more, literally at your door. The city’s hottest nightspots are close by in the Lakeview District. We’re also just a short drive away from Five Points South, UAB and some of the city’s largest employers. If you had the ideal checklist for where you want to be, you’ll find it all at Park35.” Park35, 3500 Clairmont Ave., is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 322-3500 or visit

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Over 25 years of flooring expertise R&S Flooring has been in business since 1991. Birmingham is the second location for the company, the original being located in Nashville, Tennessee. We offer expert advice and analysis on all types of flooring projects. Our goal is simple: Provide the best service and selection of any flooring company in the area. Our continued growth has been a testament to our customer service and satisfaction. At R&S Flooring, we believe it should be all about you. Our main goal is to do everything possible to meet your flooring needs. With a vast selection of styles, we carry a complete line of products from the world’s leading manufacturers. We have experienced, quality-minded professionals in both residential and commercial markets. We install all types of hardwood floors and laminates for your home or office. Real estate agents agree that a nice hardwood floor does wonders to the value and appeal of a home on the market. Bring your home to life with hardwood floors and look no further than R&S Flooring. Our hardwood floor installation services include: ► solid and engineered pre-finished hardwood ► site finished hardwood ► custom stairs ► laminates ► luxury vinyl tile ► carpet ► tile Other services we offer include new installation of handrails, new installation of wooden newel posts and new

installation of iron and wooden spindles. All of our work has a limited warranty on all craftsmanship, in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty. With a new season upon us, customers tend to use the term “spring cleaning.” We recommend not using any products to clean your flooring that include wax-

based finishes. Over time, these products leave a residue film on your flooring and will eventually build up on your flooring’s finish. Simply be cautious with the products you use to clean your hardwood flooring. We would love to come look at any project and provide you with a free,

no hassle, in-home estimate. We offer interest-free financing for up to 12 months with approved credit. R&S Flooring is located at 4421 Creekside Ave., Suite 101, Hoover, Alabama, in Patton Creek Shopping Center. For more information, call 8813800.

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SiteOne is a one-stop shop for landscape projects; staff focused on customer service For Will Hoeppner, area manager for SiteOne Landscape Supply, pinpointing what he loves about what he does is a no-brainer. “The best part about my job is the people — the employees and the customers,” he said. “We have great employees that enjoy their job and have fun with what they’re doing, and that carries over to the customer experience. We develop relationships [with our customers] — it’s more than just a price, it becomes a relationship. They count on us, and we count on them.” The customers matter more than anything. “We are customer obsessed,” he said. “Most important to us is making sure the customer has the best experience from start to finish on a regular basis. We strive to be priced fairly, but the price of our customer service is the value difference maker.” SiteOne’s purpose is to be a one-stop shop for any landscape contractor or homeowner wanting to do landscape projects around their home. They provide everything from nursery products — shrubs, perennials, annuals — to pavers, natural stone, pine straw, wheat straw and turf fertilizers. They also provide landscape lighting products. “You’ll find lots of different landscape wholesale locations that have different niches,” he said. “SiteOne’s vision is to be a one-stop shop to provide all needs. Instead of driving all over town, SiteOne provides the entire package and has a great customer service experience, so customers can be in and out, get the products at a fair market value and get back to the job.” SiteOne offers knowledgeable experts in all of their 460 nationwide locations. Hoeppner finds not using a knowledge expert to be a missed opportunity for homeowners. While some homeowners are great at do-it-yourself landscape projects, a professional landscape associate can save homeowners time and headaches. They can

also provide the knowledge and expertise to give homeowners the results they’re looking for and add even more value to their property. “Landscape professionals are the ones that have the experience and education to give the best advice to customers for a sustainable landscape, as opposed to a temporary one,” Hoeppner said. Due to the recent drought, there are going to be more plant materials that will need to be replaced this year.

What SiteOne loves most remains the same year to year — providing exceptional customer service. SiteOne has locations all over the state of Alabama as far north as Huntsville and as far south as Daphne and Mobile. Their Birmingham location, 7347 Cahaba Valley Road, is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. from March through November. For more information, call 980-0770 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section

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Variety of lawn care services available Spring-Green Lawn Care makes it easy for you to enjoy a beautiful yard all year long. Owners Jeremy and Heather Leith said their personable, friendly approach sets Spring-Green apart from other lawn companies. Their goal, backed by the Spring-Green guarantee, is that they leave every job knowing their customers are fully satisfied. “We are a friendly, reliable company who puts our customers’ best interest first,” Heather Leith said. Spring-Green is a franchise with over 40 years of experience nationwide, but the Leiths’ location is entirely familyowned and operated. “With their help and knowledge, paired with our work ethic, the business has taken off like a rocket,” she said. Spring-Green’s services include fertilization, weed control, tree and shrub care, irrigation system maintenance, lawn disease treatment, lime treatments and aeration. The company also provides control options for a variety of insect pests, including mosquitoes, crane flies, grubs, fleas, ticks, fire ants and other surface or subterranean insects that can damage your lawn or make it hard to enjoy your own backyard. In addition to individual services, clients can also use Spring-Green’s Economy, Preferred or Preferred Plus programs to receive a variety of services, including multiple lawn care visits, at an affordable rate. As part of their commitment to beautiful lawns and happy customers, Spring-Green’s website also provides home and yard maintenance tips for customers, including lawnmower maintenance, flower care, seasonal preparations, turf care, pest control, lawn

talk podcasts and a glossary to introduce homeowners to commonly used terms. Heather Leith said their customers enjoy that Spring-Green takes the time to educate them rather than just trying to sell products and services. “People seem to appreciate what we bring to the table as far as giving a better customer service experience,” she said. Common concerns for yards in the spring include dandelions, clover and other weeds as well as the beginning of lawn-damaging insect activities. In

addition to proper fertilization and pest treatments, homeowners should also remember to raise their mowers in springtime so their grass can develop deeper roots. Heather Leith said spring is the right time to start a Preferred treatment program, as well as tree and shrub care and core aeration. “Core aeration for spring is definitely a necessity if they haven’t had one in recent years,” Heather Leith said. The experts at Spring-Green can answer all your lawn care questions to make sure you take the right approach to

aeration, fertilization, watering and more in every season. Spring-Green started in Illinois in 1977 and has expanded with locations across the U.S. The Leiths’ franchise is one of three in Alabama, and the only one in the Birmingham area. Spring-Green clients can count on having quality lawn care at affordable prices with a top-notch customer experience. For more information or to schedule a lawn evaluation, call 508-5085 or visit

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Woerner Landscape introduces Palisades Zoysia, maintains quality standards Woerner Landscape is a company dedicated to its mission: To sell premium lawn grasses and landscaping products. Only the best will do for Woerner’s customers, and the company sets itself apart as a family-owned business committed to excellent customer service. “We pride ourselves on being able to provide the kind, personal attention you can expect from a family-owned business, while also being able to operate as a professional corporation that stands behind the quality of the products we offer,” said April Funk, president of Woerner Landscape. “Our company has multiple farms in multiple states which are still owned and operated by the Woerner family. Each year, the Woerner Companies research new and improved varieties of grasses that are being brought to the market so that we can offer our customers unique products not found elsewhere.” Woerner recently has retained licenses to grow and sell two new varieties of Zoysia — Palisades Zoysia and Toccoa Green® (‘BA-305’ Zoysia)*. “We are really impressed and excited about the Palisades Zoysia,” Funk said. Palisades Zoysia is a medium to coarse textured turf noted for its shade tolerance and comparably low water requirements. It is a high-density turf that is especially suited for home lawns. It known as a “friendly” grass due to its impressive establishment rate, and it has proven itself to be an excellent choice for lowmaintenance landscapes. Due to its low light requirements, it has become useful when there is a need to address shady

areas in the landscape. It has reasonably good salt tolerance and is best known for its low water use, low light conditions and rapid recuperative ability. Newly planted Palisades Zoysia should be watered daily and soaked thoroughly to a depth of 3 inches for the first two weeks to avoid dry-out. Then, the amount of water should be reduced but the daily frequency should be maintained for the

following two weeks or until the lawn is established. Once the lawn is established, watering needs will vary based upon the type of soil present. It is always best to mimic the environment by watering heavier every few days rather than watering lightly every day. Established Palisades Zoysia is considered to be a drought-tolerant grass. Established Palisades Zoysia lawns

should be mowed every week during the growing season with optimum mowing height of 1.5 to 2 inches with a rotary mower or half-inch to 1.5 inch with a reel mower. When maintained as a golf course fairway or sports field, Palisades Zoysia will require mowing approximately twice per week with a reel mower at heights ranging from half-inch to 7/8 inches. An established Palisades Zoysia lawn should be fertilized with 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for a high-quality maintained turf, to a more modest 1.5 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for a high-quality, lowmaintenance turf per year. Woerner is also known as a premium supplier of landscape material such as sod, natural stone, pavers, plants, mulches, bulk material and pinestraw; they also deliver anywhere in the Birmingham area. Their aim, as it always has been, is to provide the best customer service possible. “Woerner Landscape Source strives to provide the best service, products and expert knowledge to both retail and wholesale consumers,” Funk said. “With the help of our customers’ feedback, we can and will continue to improve and innovate our business to better serve our customers and help them succeed at building stunning outdoor spaces.” Woerner Landscape, 10 Greenhill Parkway, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 981-4496 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


Build your dream home in one stop with Wedgworth’s expertise

Mike Wedgworth started Wedgworth Construction Company Inc. in 1979 doing remodeling and single-family homes. In the mid-1980s, it moved from remodeling to single-family-home custom construction exclusively. It added a land development and real estate company during the 1980s and became a one-stop shop to develop the land, build the home and market the home. In the 1990s, the company began doing the design build on its own lots, as well as continuing custom building on owner sites throughout the Over the Mountain area. The company’s main emphasis is design-building on its own lots, marketed by Wedgworth Realty and other real estate companies. Its neighborhoods include Viridian in Vestavia Hills; Glen Manor in Jefferson County surrounded by Vestavia Hills and Rocky Ridge Village; and Village Place in Mountain Brook near Crestline Village. “We work with clients to design and build their custom home,” said office manager/marketing director Patty Leeming, who has been with the company for 14 years. “First, we help them select their lot from one of our subdivisions, then we work with them to design their custom plan. Finally, we walk them though the building process with one of the Wedgworth team at each meeting to help them with their selections.” Wedgworth’s architect is semi-retired and designs home plans for the company and one other builder, she said. He has a history of designing homes in the Birmingham area and has been published in Southern Living and many other publications. Honey Miller is Wedgworth’s designer, and she has worked with the company for more than 20 years, Leeming said.

She knows the process and helps clients with all their decorative finishes and space planning. “She is very good at making sure their existing furniture does not look out of place in their new home,” Leeming said. All Wedgworth employees are involved during the home building process in sync as a team. The company has built more than 400 custom homes in Birmingham’s Over the Mountain area. Leeming assists the decorator helping with selections and keeps clients on their target budget. Patrick Gilbert, vice president of operations, oversees the aspect of implementing all the products chosen for the new home. Dillon Watts, superintendent, is on site managing the building of the homes. Wedgworth Corporation works hard when they give a client pricing on a home to have all possible items included. Doing few allowances, most products are listed, but the ones that are not, figures from previous houses are used to get a realistic allowance. “We are, to my knowledge, the only company that offers the entire building package in one package,” Mike Wedgworth said. “Our package includes the lot, the interim financing, the architect, the engineering, surveying, the landscape architect and the interior designer all in one lock-and-key package. All you have to do is pay.” Mike Wedgworth said he believes satisfaction is finding raw land and having a vision of a community, developing the raw land into lots and designing homes for each lot and buyer, then going back at the end seeing the final developed and occupied community. For more information, visit

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Landscaping with attention to detail Gardner Landscaping, serving Birmingham, is focused on providing homeowners and businesses with quality service. The professionals at Gardner Landscaping remember the details and how you want it done. “You can count on us to have the job done to your specifications,” owner Grant Gardner said. “Gardner Landscaping’s ultimate goal is to ensure your satisfaction. Each job is uniquely designed to suit the individual customer’s needs.” Gardner Landscaping employees are experienced and motivated to make sure their customers are satisfied. They have the ability to make any landscape look better and are very creative in their landscape design. All of Gardner Landscaping services are performed with the personalized attention to detail you deserve. The company is a full-service landscape company, and they are licensed and insured. They strive to

provide you with landscaping that you will be proud of and will increase your property value. “We work with all types of budgets and landscapes,” Gardner said. “Whether your landscaping needs are in Birmingham, or the surrounding area, we can meet those needs.” Spring 2017 is especially important for landscaping. “We want to be able to focus on replacing things that were lost in the drought at an affordable rate,” said Gardner. “We provide hardscape, drainage and landscape expertise. We can also do sprinkler system repair to make sure it is ready for spring.” Gardner Landscaping provides a number of other services as well to keep the landscaping process as low maintenance as possible for their customers. For more information, call Gardner Landscaping at 401-3347 or visit their website at

Eager to meet your yard’s needs Advanced Turf Care provides services in Birmingham and the surrounding area. Advanced Turf Care is a full service lawn care company that can provide all of your lawn needs. They care about the local community and they are “here to serve you.” Advanced Turf Care provides the highest quality lawn care. “We do this by having some of the best employees in the industry,” said Grant Gardner, owner of Advanced Turf Care. Advanced Turf Care will work with you to develop the type of lawn you expect. They will keep your landscape in excellent condition because they know how important curb appeal is to you and the value of your property. “Just as your lawn needs fertilization and protection from pests, so do

your shrubs and trees,” Gardner said. “Losing a tree or shrub can be a big loss and change the whole look to your landscaping. Protect your investment by letting us take care of your trees and shrubs.” Gardner said that turf maintenance is especially important this spring. “This spring we are really trying to take care of the turf that went through the fall without water,” Gardner said. “We are encouraging core aeration to get the nutrients back into the soil after the nutrients were dried up during the drought. Core Aeration drills holes in the turf, which allows water and nutrients to get directly to the root systems.” For more information, please call 3057949 or visit the Advanced Turf website at

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


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Build your dreams with Alabama Brick Building your dream home or tackling a DIY project? Alabama Brick Design Center, now located at 5479 U.S. 280, is the perfect place to plan your next project or put the finishing touches on your design. Alabama Brick represents over 30 masonry manufacturers, providing: brick and stone for the exterior of your home, thin brick for your kitchen backsplash and floors, stone for your fireplace, pavers for your patio, and fireplaces for indoors as well as your outdoor living space. “We provide in-house design consultation to help you bring all of your product finishes together, for one beautiful, harmonious look,” Katherine Higgins said. “I love helping clients find the right product to fit their project needs, budget and overall desired style.” Higgins has worked with Alabama Brick for eight years and has an interior design degree from Auburn University. She said helping clients make the perfect product choices is one of her

favorite parts of the job. “Building a home or remodeling can be very stressful, and I enjoy helping to make the process as least stressful as possible,” Higgins said. “People are building their dream home and I want to see a smile on their face.” The staff at Alabama Brick consistently goes above and beyond to satisfy their clients, including free on-site job estimates and servicing projects from start to finish. Higgins said their yard and showroom in North Birmingham is the only brickyard in the metro area that is open on Saturdays. Alabama Brick is family-owned and operated, and has been serving Alabama for over 40 years, operating their Hoover design center for over 20 years. “No job is too small or too big. We do our very best to make sure you know that you and your project are important and worthwhile,” Higgins said. Call 408-4284 or visit alabamabrick. com.

Aquatic Gardens celebrates 25 years Chances are, you’ve seen the work of Chuck Thomas and his team at Aquatic Gardens. Thomas and his team have undertaken projects at the Birmingham Zoo, working with tortoises, black bears and river otters. The waterfalls at the Outlet Shops at Grand River in Leeds? That was Thomas and his team, too. For over 25 years, Aquatic Gardens has been a premier source of fountains in every size and style, ponds, and waterfalls for both commercial and residential properties. “We’ve done just tons and tons of stuff,” Thomas, owner of Aquatic Gardens, said. “We’ve done everything from the zoo to waterfalls at the Leeds shopping center to simple ponds and waterfalls for Ms. Jones.” Thomas has a degree in fisheries biology from Auburn — that, combined with his background in commercial

construction, drew him into his field. “I thought, ‘Gee, I’ll combine my biology background and my construction expertise to build water gardens,’” he said. “The rest is history.” Thomas said he enjoys the artistry of his work. “We are able to take a pile of rocks and make it look like a natural stream or a waterfall,” he said. “I enjoy the creativity of it.” The secret to Thomas’ success? “I’ve screwed up more than anybody,” he said. “I can tell them what not to do. I’ve built hundreds of water features, fountains, big commercial fountains — there’s nothing like learning by mistake.” Aquatic Gardens, 5485 U.S. 280, is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 995-9466 or visit

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section



The perfect time for chimney repairs Why is it smart to have your chimney checked/serviced in the spring? If the chimney is checked/cleaned/ repaired at the close of season: ►The soot is cleaned out, reducing the acrid smell that lingers throughout the humid summer. ►The fireplace will be ready for the first cold spell with no waiting for an appointment. ►If repairs are needed, spring/summer time is the best time to do masonry and chimney repairs as opposed to cold weather, and they can be done without the worrying about the impending cold weather needs of the fireplace. “Time is critical to everyone,” Phillip Batts said. “Do what is necessary when it can be done conveniently and with low stress. How unnerving is it when James Spann tells us it is going to be cold? You call and find that the next appointment is so far off that it makes using your fireplace not so attractive, or you finally get an appointment to find something is structurally wrong and you can’t use it until repairs need to be done next spring.”



Experience a unique, lifesaving carpet cleaning by CitruSolution

Tell us a little bit about Batts’ Chimney. We are a small business that will only send out certified technicians. We refuse to send out “flue-jockeys” that only clean and have no knowledge of safety inspection/remediation. We know our customers want their service when they want it, but we cannot compromise prudent practices. To learn more about Batts’ Chimney Services, visit or call 956-8207.

After people have their carpets cleaned by CitruSolution, owner Chad Adams said there is one reaction they consistently get. “We’re lifesavers; people that experience our product and process typically become lifetime customers.” CitruSolution Carpet Cleaning uses a proprietary product that they manufacture, made of allnatural ingredients and is safe to use around children and pets. While he recommends having carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned every six months to a year, Adams said it is also important to clean carpets for health reasons, not just appearances. When someone calls to have their carpets cleaned, Adams said they can expect to get on the schedule very quickly. “Spring is a great time [for carpet

cleaning] because after the holidays, you can freshen up your house and get ready for the summer!” Adams also wanted to remind customers that “the citrus product is going to leave your carpets in a state where they will repel dirt more easily, so when you vacuum the citrus is going to continue working long after we leave.” The experience of using CitruSolution is also a positive one, Adams said, and customers can expect honest pricing as well as great results. “I like the fact that we disrupt the industry standard,” Adams said. “The pricing that we give you over the phone stays that way when we show up on the property, and we use a product that nobody else has.” For more information, call 678-7708 or visit

Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section


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For variety and expertise, it’s exclusively Hanna’s

The best place to live, work and play Whether you’re a professional on the go or searching for an easy lifestyle for your family, Grand Highlands is the place to live, work and play. This gated community features spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom homes nestled along the peaceful and scenic Overton Road. Come home to a relaxing swim in one of two resort-style pools, or enjoy a game of tennis on the official USTA regulation tennis court. If you enjoy time with friends and neighbors, you’ll love the frequent resident events coordinated by our neighborhood CARES team. Our central location provides quick access to high profile areas such as

The Summit and U.S. 280 corridor. You’re close to popular restaurants, shopping and within walking distance to Publix. Downtown Birmingham and the UAB campus are a quick eight-minute commute with easy access to I-459 and I-65. Residents choose Grand Highlands for the fabulous amenities, outstanding service and excellent location. Our professional staff strives to exceed your expectations every day. From the moment you drive into our neighborhood, you’ll know you have found a place to call home. Apply online at or call 967-9312.

Days filled with warm breezes and sunshine are right around the corner. Get out in it and put something new into your landscape! Hanna’s has a great and exclusive selection of native plants that will be the highlight of your lawn. You’ll find Beautyberry, sweetshrub and sweetspire, as well as gorgeous native azaleas that are easy to care for and make stunning additions to your home’s landscape. People drive hundreds of miles to purchase these exclusive beauties from Hanna’s — just like their amazing camellia selection! Maybe try something new like Storm Series quince — it’s thornless and fruitless but with long lasting blooms in shades of scarlet, orange and pink that everyone will definitely “ooh” and “aah” over all through the spring. Of course we can’t overlook the Knockout roses, Limelight hydrangeas, Cherokee Princess dogwoods and Dynamic crape myrtles. Oh — and the vast selection of annuals and perennials, shrubs, fruit and shade trees and plenty of choice evergreens. You’ll find all these and so much more

in Hanna’s four acres at the foot of Oak Mountain — truly Birmingham’s best selection of plants, shrubs and trees. Hanna’s also carries everything you need for a lush lawn — including five varieties of sod (by the piece or pallet), soil testing kits and Fertilome lawn applications — to control pests and weeds, and nurture your yard now. Don’t have a lawn? Got a window? Hanna’s offers a vast selection of houseplants, seeds, succulents, herbs and veggies — and the perfect containers for them. They’ll even plant a container with plants of your choosing! If Hanna’s sells it, they can also deliver it — even the landscape rocks. Everything comes straight to your garden — healthy and ready to enrich your lifestyle. All from Hanna’s, the plant-savvy garden shop with a passion for growing things — and for sharing its unparalleled garden expertise. Hanna’s Garden Shop is located at 5485 U.S. 280 East. For more information, call 991-2939, visit or email

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section



What you need in an insurance agency Insurance Place in Birmingham is an independent insurance agency serving clients in Alabama and the surrounding states. We are a Trusted-Choice and Secure-Risk agency member. With a strong stable of premier insurance carriers, we have a market for most any insurance need. A home is one of the biggest investments that a person will make. Properly insuring it in the event of a catastrophe can be vital in protecting one’s assets. A comprehensive homeowner’s policy will provide personal liability coverage for the household members and coverage for the physical structure and contents. In addition to evaluating the coverage limits and final premium, an important consideration should be the kind of claims service you should expect from a carrier. Prompt, courteous and professional service when you need it most is what you are ultimately hoping to purchase when buying a home insurance policy. To maintain favorable rates during

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your relationship with your carrier, a homeowner should do the following: ► Notify the agent of any additions or changes to your home. Are you working from home? Have you added a deck or finished a basement? ► Let your agent know if you have any special collections that might not otherwise be properly covered on a standard home policy form (jewelry, guns, collectibles). ► Keep your property in good repair. A small water leak can cause significant damage over time and lead to a claim that could affect your rates in the future. ► Discuss a potential claim with your agent before making a formal claim. In some instances, a minor issue might be addressed by the homeowner without making a formal claim and affecting your future home insurance rates. (An example would be a broken window or minor damage to a garage door.) Insurance Place is always happy to discuss any insurance issue you may have. Please call us at 205-995-1956 or go to

Quality service you can trust Plumb One is a family-owned company that began in the backyard of Robin and Barry Isbell’s Trussville home in 1997. After graduating from high school, Barry Isbell worked in plumbing for several years. It was at the advice of his boss that he opened his own business. With a borrowed van and $1,000, Plumb One was formed. Over time, Barry and his wife Robin grew their business. Now, the familyowned company has a warehouse, office and fleet of trucks and heavy equipment. Plumb One offers many plumbing services, including residential repair, 24/7 emergency service, new construction for both residential and commercial plumbing and sewer repair, maintenance and installation. Their services extend to water heaters, faucets, fixture replacements, disposals, water softeners, pumps, toilet repairs and water leak investigations

and repairs. Plumb One strives to offer the highest quality craftsmanship and service possible, always keeping up with the latest techniques and equipment, the Isbells said. “We wish to have complete satisfaction and low prices,” Robin Isbell said. “We will not overcharge nor will we suggest unneeded repairs or upgrades. We’re honest and trustworthy; we do what we say we’ll do whether it’s for a big company or small homeowner.” If customers want new style fixtures, they can buy through one of Plumb One’s vendors and have products shipped to them for installation. The Isbells still live in Trussville and serve the Birmingham community, both through their business services and involvement in their church, youth activities and charities. For more information, call 640-2848, email or go to

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section SWIMMING POOL SERVICES


Relax, enjoy your pool this spring, summer

How to take care of your lawn As we are at the beginning of the growing season, here are a few tips to follow to ensure a healthy lawn this year. ► Conduct a soil test: If you have questions about your lawn’s soil, testing the soil enables you to know what customized help your lawn may need to grow to its potential. ► Control weeds: Always read labels carefully and follow instructions. Properly timed spring and fall pre-emergent applications can significantly reduce the amount of weeds you see in your lawn and reduce the competition your grass has with them. Correctly identify any weeds you see. ► Fertilize:

Begin fertilizing based off the needs of the lawn at the appropriate time of year. Follow all labels appropriately. Remember that not all grass types should receive the same type of care. ► Aerate the lawn: Aeration during the active growing season opens up the lawn and allows nutrients and oxygen to get into the root zone and also helps reduce thatch build-up. We would love to serve you by taking care of any of these specific needs for your lawn. For more information, call Garrick McCarty at 200-2602 or visit and click the “get quote” button for a quick quote.

Swimming Pool Services has an unofficial motto that says their weekly maintenance customers only need to worry about two things between their services. One: keep the pool full. Two: enjoy. Swimming Pool Services is proud to be a part of the Hoover community since 2005, providing weekly pool maintenance, professional service of equipment and quality licensed pool construction projects. The company also has a retail store conveniently located in the Lee Branch shopping center (between Publix and Academy), stocked with a variety of much-needed pool equipment and parts, including spas, chemicals and even pool toys for the family. In addition, they offer special support for the DIY customers. This local familyowned company operates on the promise of premier service and quality products.

Swimming Pool Services also provides their customers with a free water test service. Just bring your pool or spa water sample to the store and they will direct you to the proper chemicals to get back in balance. This is a company that has a good time doing what they love while keeping up to date with all current standards and regulations in the industry. Glen Jacobson, the owner, is the current president of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) Alabama chapter. APSP is dedicated to the growth and development of its members’ businesses and to promoting the enjoyment and safety of pools, spas and hot tubs to consumers. With over 11 years of experience in the industry, Swimming Pool Services is here to serve their customers and community. Please call 205-601-3385 or visit

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Spring Home Guide | Special Advertising Section



Personal, professional service

Your one-stop shop for home decor

When it comes to mortgages for a home purchase or refinance, people want a process that is simplified and has their financial goals in mind, but they also want their mortgage loan officer to treat them personally with care, understanding, professionalism and empathy. Lauree Leyland with Volunteer Mortgage Inc. gets that. A self-described “people person,” Leyland has never met a stranger and loves helping her family, her community and her clients. “I love that I can work in an industry that many people find challenging and stressful, and have made it an outlet to make a difference in people’s lives and in the lives of their family and community as well. I have always been service oriented, whether it was on the mission field in the Cumberland Mountains, in Guatemala after the earthquakes or as a university administrator working one-on-one with students for 16 years,” Leyland said. “My career as a mortgage professional is another extension of that premier life goal. I am passionate about doing more than just ‘the job.’ I am passionate about what improves the well being and financial future of my clients, and I am passionate about making my clients feel that when the process is done, I am not only their loan officer, but a friend.” Volunteer Mortgage Inc. has a relationship with over 20 lenders offering

Pam Mitchell has more that 15 years of experience in providing custom window treatments. Her store, Window Décor Home Store, provides customers with custom window treatments including blinds, shades, shutters, draperies and hardware. They have bedding, pillows and a large selection of fabrics, and offer full interior design services. Window Décor is the only Hunter Douglas Gallery in Birmingham, showcasing window coverings including customer favorites like Duette Honeycomb Shades, Silhouette Window Shadings, Luminette Privacy Sheers, wood blinds, shutters and more. They feature hundreds of choices for color, texture, fabric and function. They are now offering custom sliding barn doors and hardware and exterior wood shutters. Window Décor’s experienced design

a wide variety of products and options that can be tailored to meet the individual needs of each client. This allows Leyland to find the very best fit for their financial goals with only one credit pull and one application. That is a big time saver. Whether it is a conventional loan, VA, USDA, FHA, Jumbo, Reverse Refinance or Reverse Purchase, having so many options is a big plus for clients. The professionals on her team at Volunteer Mortgage have a combined 50+ years of experience and share Leyland’s commitment to providing excellent, personalized services. For more information, call 205-994-1320.

professionals will work with customers to find solutions and provide great looks for your home. They take care of all measuring and installation needs to ensure the perfect fit. Mitchell has always had a love for interior design and found a special niche with window treatments. She is passionate about providing clients quality products. “With constant upgrades and nonstop innovation, I will continue to strive for higher standards and to be the best that I can be at what I do,” she said. Her work continues to inspire her through “meeting new people and putting smiles on their faces, when I can turn their home or office into that masterpiece.” Window Decor can take care of all of your home décor needs. For more information, call 437-9575 or visit

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C APRIL 2017

School House C11 Faith C18 Real Estate C20 Calendar C21

Experience aplenty on Briarwood baseball coaching staff By KYLE PARMLEY Neither guy knew he would end up at Briarwood Christian School, but Wes Helms and Matt Guerrier say they are enjoying the current stop on their journey as assistant coaches with the high school baseball program. After both concluded playing careers that spanned more than a decade in Major League Baseball, an opportunity with the Briarwood baseball program came at the right place and the right time. Helms lives in the area with his wife and kids, so he accomplished much of his offseason work back home in the winter at Briarwood, where he got to know Steve Renfroe, current head coach of the Lion program and former coach at Auburn University. After playing for the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins, Helms went to spring training with the Braves in 2012, but he decided it was time to hang up his spikes. “I tried spring training in 2012, but I just didn’t want to fight it anymore and scrape for another year,” he said. Helms hit for a .256 batting average over his career, with 75 home runs and 374 runs batted in more than 13 seasons. As soon as Renfroe caught wind of Helms’ intentions, he had an offer to extend.

Matt Guerrier, left, and Wes Helms, right, each played Major League Baseball for more than a decade before joining the Briarwood baseball program. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

“When Steve Renfroe found out I wasn’t going to play — because I’d been up here taking groundballs and stuff — he asked me, ‘Do you want to help us?’” Helms said. Helms accepted the offer on a volunteer basis that first year and has been a full-time assistant since. The job has been a great transition from

his playing days. “It’s kept me home with my family,” Helms said. “I’ve had a few offers with professional teams (to coach), but I just wasn’t ready to leave yet.” Guerrier wrapped up an 11-year career as a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers

and Chicago Cubs following the 2014 season. He appeared in 555 games and compiled a 3.52 earned run average. Following his final season, he took some time off to be with his family before jumping into pitching lessons with a few elementary and middle school kids.

Guerrier and his family also have lived in the area for quite some time, and although he and Helms seldom played against each other in the big leagues, the two got to know each other thanks to their close offseason proximity to one another. “He realized once I got done with (playing), I could be a fit here,” Guerrier said. “It’s been great. My kids go to Briarwood as well, and it’s a great opportunity to be around the community and give back a little bit.” Having a coaching staff so rich with experience and knowledge puts Briarwood baseball players in a unique position. Guerrier knows the path to the big leagues as a pitcher. Helms knows it as an infielder and hitter. Renfroe’s years of experience at many different levels offers credibility as well; Helms calls his baseball expertise “unlimited.” “It’s just fun to be around these guys,” Guerrier said of the high school players. “They want to learn, and they’re open to learning and changing and trying new things.” Both Guerrier and Helms admit the itch to get back into the professional ranks of baseball has not totally eluded them. But until that time comes, they are soaking in the purity of the game they have loved their entire lives. “To see these kids have the time of their lives and remember this forever, we’re making memories with them,” Helms said.

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April 2017 • C3

Your Health Today Ditch the tissue box! By Dr. Irma Leon Palmer

Springtime is practically here and some people are excited and ready for warm weather and outdoor activities. However, there is a collective groan at this time of year from those who are allergy victims. Does that pale yellow coating on your car send chills down your spine? At the time of writing this article it is early March and pollen poles are already spiking into the “High” category for our area, along with many other warm weather areas in the Southeast. Antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants are flying off the shelves, but hopefully some of these tips can help you survive the season in a natural way! To begin with, why do certain people react to airborne allergens, and other people don’t? Allergies are a sign that your immune system is kicking into gear, identifying foreign particles (i.e. pollen) entering your system and alerting the mast cells found in your skin and nose to release several “peacekeepers,” specifically histamine. The next time allergens enter your body, those mast cells are ready to launch chemical warfare, producing those unpleasant symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, drowsiness, and sore throat. Also, just because you have not been sensitive to something in the past, does not mean you will remain unaffected. Mold, home products, dust, pet dander, and foods can become allergens at any time, and every person’s body is different as far as sensitivity. In past articles, I have profoundly discussed the importance of creating a healthy gut because therein lies approximately 80 percent of your immune system. “Leaky gut” is a condition where the weakening of the intestinal walls allows undigested foods, waste, and bacteria to leak into

the bloodstream causing increased inflammation, allergic reactions to food and other substances, in addition to many other health issues. Although this is not the only way allergies develop, viewing allergies as a result of a larger issue helps to widen the scope on how to help the body be a strong fortress against toxins and allergens we come into contact with throughout daily life. Start with the gut, always! Eating fresh, raw whole foods (organic if possible) builds a strong foundation for immunity. Stay away from all processed and inflammatory foods, especially sugars, grains and dairy. Foods such as apples, onions, berries, cabbage, cauliflower and tea all contain quercetin, a flavonoid which can possibly help reduce inflammation associated with allergies. Garlic and garlic supplements are also commonly associated with sinus symptoms relief. Fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and kefir, as well as high-quality probiotics, enhance gut flora and helps the body defend itself. Drinking suitable amounts of water is always crucial, being sure to avoid sugary drinks that do nothing for your health. Hot foods such as chili peppers, horseradish and hot mustard can act as natural decongestants, while herbs like Goldenseal and Eucalyptus Oil may be soothing as well. As far as supplementation, there are many options for allergy victims. High-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats plays a significant role in health as a whole, but specifically in combating allergy symptoms. DHA and EPA are powerful anti-inflammatory agents and you can implement these in your diet through grass-fed meats, organic eggs and krill oil. Also, maintain proper levels of Vitamin D through safe sun exposure and D3/K2 supplementation. Research has

suggested that common Vitamin D deficiency may be one of, if not, the primary contributing factor to asthma. In our office, we offer two fantastic natural options for allergy season. The first is Sinus Tonic, a liquid herb blend of Goldenseal, Echinacea Premium, Albizia and Burdock. Vitamins effectively promote long-term building and maintenance of good health; however, herbs work acutely to address symptoms such as low energy, digestion, headaches, and yes, allergies! The unique blend of herbs in this tonic support many functions: healthy breathing passages and mucous membranes, clear upper respiratory passages and skin functions (remember those mast cells!), immune system function, flushing of toxins from the body and bloodstream. The Tonic dosage is 2tsp up to three times daily, diluted in a small amount of water. The second item we often suggest for upper respiratory trouble is Sinus Forte. This is an herbal tablet combining Eyebright, Goldenrod, Echinacea Purpurea, Goldenseal and Cayenne to support all the functions listed above. Depending on the circumstances, the combination of these two products may have a synergistic affect towards the body’s defense mechanism in the peak of pollen season. The maintenance of a healthy nervous system through consistent chiropractic care cannot be underestimated. The nerves that exit the C1/C2 junction in the neck can directly affect sinus function because they innervate the whole facial area. Human bodies are such complex organisms; Therefore, God has handcrafted our bodies to function appropriately when they are taken care of the right way. Exercise, nutrition, nervous system health, and a stress-free lifestyle all contribute to your over-health!

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Sports Jacob Rich was disappointed in his performance last season and is looking for a better season in 2017. Photos by Ted Melton.

DRIVING FORCES Seniors Will Battersby, Jacob Rich hope to propel Spain Park to playoffs



ill Battersby and Jacob Rich have no intentions of taking it easy during their final season at Spain Park High School. They watched as the Jags won the Class 6A baseball state championship in 2014, as the two were chomping at the bit to be included on the varsity roster. Both players garnered varsity experience the following season in 2015, but the team was unable to advance to the state playoffs. The same record replayed itself last spring. “It stinks not playing in the playoffs, especially because none of us have ever played in a playoff game before,” said Rich, the starting shortstop and a senior for the Jags. Class 7A, Area 6 has been a tough nut to crack for the Jags the last two seasons, boasting perennially tough teams Hewitt-Trussville, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills. But they don’t use that as an excuse. “We had chances to win games; we just never did,” Rich said. “Looking back at last year and having played that competition and knowing how important those games are, I think we’re going to make a lot more use of it and take advantage of it.” Battersby said, “It comes down to execution” if Spain Park is to advance out of Area 6 in 2017. Oak Mountain replaced Vestavia Hills, so although reigning state champion Hewitt-Trussville moved to a new area in favor of Huffman, things will not be much easier. “Doing every little thing right,” said Rich of what it would take to break through. “Trying to focus on the little stuff that when it comes down to the game, that ends up being big stuff and things that can change the game.” Battersby and Rich are part of a 13-player senior class for Spain Park, one that Spain Park head coach Will Smith is counting on to

Senior pitcher Will Battersby is embracing his role as the team’s ace pitcher to begin the Jags’ season. Battersby and Jacob Rich are part of a large senior class aiming to get Spain Park baseball back to the playoffs.

develop the habits that define a successful team. “I feel like if you take care of enough of the little things, every single day, every single drill, every single week, then the big things eventually take care of themselves,” Smith said. Battersby will be counted on to lead the Jag pitching staff through the season, now that he has a full campaign of varsity experience under his belt. “Last year, I felt I struggled toward the end. I didn’t carry my team down the stretch like I needed to. So this season, I’m going to work on that, to be the guy this year, and carry us down the stretch and let us be successful,” he said. His command escaped him at pivotal moments last season, and Battersby attempted to fine-tune his mechanics during the offseason to improve his control and add some velocity

to his arsenal. Battersby relies primarily on his fastball and changeup to get outs and is capable of racking up impressive strikeout totals, but he said he hopes to trust his defense as well this year. “Hopefully that will all work out this year, and we’ll be ready to go,” he said. The pitching staff behind him is not wealthy in varsity experience, but Battersby’s confidence rose throughout the offseason that the guys in the rotation behind him would be more than able to pick up the slack. “The rest of the pitching staff, I was a little worried about coming into this year, just because we lost a lot of seniors last year, but they’re shaping up to be a good group this year; they’ve improved a lot. So we’ll be a force up there on the mound this year,” Battersby said.

UAB will welcome Battersby to the Green and Gold next year, as Battersby has signed to play for coach Brian Shoop and the Blazers. His signature on the scholarship papers has done nothing to release Battersby of motivation to perform at a high level in his senior season. “Coaches are always looking at you,” Battersby said. “[Pitching coach Josh] Hopper still comes over here and watches me pitch. If you don’t do well, you’re going to get an earful afterwards. You always need to do well. It’s about this year at Spain Park. Sure, I’ve got UAB next year, but it’s about winning a state ring this year and being a dog out there for us.” As for Rich, he is coming off what he considers a disappointing season in 2016. The senior prides himself in getting on base and being a top-flight base runner. While he struggled defensively last spring, he said he hopes those days are behind him. “I thought I had a really down year last year,” Rich said. “I didn’t think I played up to my potential. I’m really looking to have a good year and help this team out.” Rich boasts a few college offers entering the season, but he said he is hoping a bounce-back senior campaign will attract others, as he has every intention of playing baseball at the next level. “They need to have good years,” Smith said of the senior duo. “They’re very capable. The way they work, the way they interact with their teammates is important.” Even through the inevitable peaks and valleys of the season, Smith is counting on them to pull the team through joyful and tough times all the same. “You’re going to have your ups and downs,” Smith said. “But the team that can do it consistently and stick with their routine and stays mentally tough, those are the ones that are successful in the area and in the playoffs, when those times come.”

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Above, from left: Shortstop Anna Donohue is shown in a game against Homewood on March 6. Caroline Campbell is one of many young players for Briarwood, as a freshman pitcher. Junior third baseman Riley Coyne is one of Doug Lamon’s self-prescribed “on-field coaches” for the Lions. Photos by Kyle Parmley.

Experienced players carrying young Lions By KYLE PARMLEY Opposing teams need be wary of the Briarwood Christian School softball team this season. Despite having a program small in numbers, the middle of the Briarwood lineup is anything but miniscule. Look at the Lions’ home opener on March 6 as Exhibit A. In the 17-5 win over Homewood, Briarwood showcased a dynamic lineup, including some thunder from the middle of the order. Anna Donohue, Riley Coyne, Taylor Wheat and Daryl Deeter all tallied extra-base hits on the evening, including back-to-back home runs from Coyne and Wheat in the fourth inning. “It felt great,” Wheat said, noting that it was the second time she has pulled off the feat with a lineup mate. “We came out pretty strong,” Coyne said.

“This game, we lagged a little in the beginning, but we knew our bats were going to come around.” That thump from the middle of the lineup turned a four-run game into one entering runrule territory in the blink of an eye. The eight runs the Lions scored in the fourth inning extended the lead to 12, and a three-up, threedown fifth inning allowed Briarwood to go home happy winners. One remarkable thing about Briarwood is its ability to mesh, even with a large age gap between athletes. “We don’t have a (junior varsity) or middle-school team, so we’ve got girls that are seventh-graders up to juniors,” said Doug Lamon, a longtime assistant at Briarwood now in his second year as head coach. In that game against Homewood, freshman Caroline Campbell started the game on the mound and was relieved by seventh-grader

Cameron Fountain in the middle innings. “When I say we’re young, we’re really young in key spots,” Lamon said. “They’re maturing and doing a good job. As we go along, I’m hoping that we’ll develop a little more chemistry.” With that age diversity, it becomes paramount that the older heads on the team become more vocal and take on leadership roles, something that has presented itself early on. “We’re growing really quickly right now,” Coyne said. “In practice, I can see us talking to each other a lot more. We’re getting more comfortable with each other on the field. I just can’t wait to see what the future holds, with us growing as a team.” Lamon calls some of the more experienced players “on-field coaches,” which should prove extremely beneficial in the long run, as Lindsay Dick is the only senior on the team. “They’ve done a good job of accepting the young ones as part of the team,” he said.

Deeter, Coyne and Donohue are part of a strong junior class that also includes Abigail Anderson. Wheat is just a sophomore. Speedy outfielder Lydia Coleman is in eighth grade. Alden Denard, Natalie Harmon, Ella Hodges, Hannah Messer, SaraGrace Prophitt and Jaddin Glenn make up the rest of the roster. Coyne said everyone contributes to the team in their roles, whether that is as a top player or a supporting one, and Wheat believes if the Lions continue to focus on fundamentals, then their goals will be within reach at the end of the season. Those goals are to make the regionals, as the top two teams will advance from Class 5A, Area 8 competition from Moody, Sylacauga and Shelby County. “This year, we’re in a really tough area,” Lamon said. “It’s going to be a lot tougher for us. But our goals, no matter how difficult they may be, they’re still the same.”

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Jags hosting Alzheimer’s awareness event By KYLE PARMLEY The Spain Park High School softball team is hosting an event near to the hearts of many when the Jags play Mountain Brook on April 4. The events surrounding the game will bring awareness to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Bracelets will be sold at the game, and proceeds will go toward disease awareness and prevention efforts. The Alzheimer’s Association and the Danberry at Inverness assisted living and memory care departments will be represented at the game. The Jags will also wear purple accessories during the contest. “This is good for community awareness and support for a disease that’s affecting so many people,” said Spain Park coach C.J. Hawkins, whose mother passed away from the effects of Alzheimer’s last spring. “There’s a lot of support out there, and we just want to be able to let the community understand what it’s about.”


Spain Park is shown after winning the Sidney Cooper Invitational on Feb. 25. Photos by Kyle Parmley.

Fresh off a runner-up finish at last spring’s state softball tournament, the Spain Park softball team has started the season strong. The Jags had won just two regular season tournaments in Hawkins’ nine years as head coach, but the 2017 team has more than doubled that total in the season’s first two months. Spain Park traveled to Columbus, Georgia, Feb. 24-25, for the Sidney Cooper Invitational hosted by Central-Phenix City High School. In pool play on the tournament’s first day, the Jags

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Alumni group preserves Sproull’s legacy By SAM CHANDLER

Mills Sproull played collegiately at the University of South Carolina Upstate after graduating from Oak Mountain High School in 2013. The Mills Sproull “We Are One” Alumni Association seeks to honor his legacy. Photo courtesy of USC Upstate Athletic Communications.

Frigid temperatures were no deterrence. In early January, a group of Oak Mountain High School boys soccer alumni gathered at Heardmont Park amid chilly conditions to play a pickup match that was far more than a pickup match. This was the inaugural Mills Sproull “We Are One” Alumni Association game, and Eagles head boys soccer coach Dan DeMasters estimated that 25 to 30 former players and their families either participated or spectated. “It was a pretty cool event,” DeMasters said. The alumni association launched last spring and was named in honor of Sproull, a 2013 Oak Mountain graduate. Sproull donned an Eagles uniform for three years before signing to play collegiately at the University of South Carolina Upstate. He was one of four Upstate student-athletes killed in an October 2015 car crash near Spartanburg, South Carolina. DeMasters said he had wanted to form an alumni association since he arrived at Oak Mountain prior to the 2013-2014 school year. His initial objective for the association was to keep former players connected with the program. But after Sproull died, he said that vision broadened. “It’s just a very good way to remember an alumnus who was a very good soccer player and just exemplified exactly what you want in a student-athlete,” DeMasters said. “It’s an honor just to remember somebody who was like that, such a good player, such a good alumnus and just such a good family.” Miller and Joy Sproull sent all four of their kids — Wimberly, Mills, Sparks and Holly — to Oak Mountain. For two of Mills Sproull’s three years on the soccer team, Joy Sproull served as the team’s parent representative to the faculty. She said playing soccer at Oak Mountain occupied a special place in her son’s heart. “His soccer team was everything to him. They were all best friends,” Joy Sproull said. “They did things together outside of soccer. They were good kids.” Danny La Rota, a 2013 Oak Mountain graduate, ascended through the Eagles’ program

alongside Mills Sproull. The two first met in middle school and had played together on club and school teams since. La Rota characterized his former teammate and close friend as “one of the most selfless people out there on the field.” “He was definitely the one that would always cheer up any situation,” he said. That effervescence, according to La Rota, made Mills Sproull one of the team’s uniting figures. His impact wasn’t limited to the pitch. At the end of huddles, La Rota said his teammate would always pull everyone back into the circle, so they could yell out a collective chant, “We are one!” “It just kind of became a little tradition, kind of a silly thing,” La Rota said. “I guess it’s just come to mean a lot more to the rest of us now thinking back about that.” “We Are One” has become the signature phrase associated with Mills Sproull’s legacy. Naming the alumni association in his honor ensures that won’t change. “It’s over the top at how much it honors our family and Mills and really just makes us feel loved,” Joy Sproull said. “One of the things when you lose a child is you want your child to be remembered. It’s so important, and it helps with the healing.” DeMasters said he plans to hold the Mills Sproull “We Are One” Alumni Association game on an annual basis, though he may consider moving it to a warmer part of the year. But that’s not the program’s only expression of remembrance. Since last season, the Oak Mountain boys soccer team has worn armbands inscribed with Mills Sproull’s initials and number during matches. DeMasters said the Eagles will sport them for many years to come. “He and his family were such an intricate part of this community and program that we wanted to do something for them and our program to remember Mills forever,” DeMasters said. “It is something that we keep near and dear to our hearts and know that we are playing for a lot more than just ourselves.”

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Uncharted waters


The Westminster School at Oak Mountain girls basketball team has come a long way in a short amount of time. In just their fifth year with a varsity program, the Knights broke through in a big way this season, venturing into increasing depths of uncharted waters time and again. Westminster’s season concluded in Birmingham in the Class 1A State Semifinals, many steps further than the program had ever been previously. For starters, Westminster had never defeated Loachapoka, a team it had run into in the previous two years in the Class 1A sub-regional round. Westminster’s first winning season came during the 2014-2015 year, and a runner-up finish in the area tournament qualified the Knights for their first postseason trip. It was a short and unpleasant ride. Loachapoka had its way with Westminster and cruised to a 63-8 victory. Despite being blown out, head coach Dana Gaché had a message for her team after the game. “I told the girls we were going to keep playing them until we beat them,” she said. “I wanted to keep playing programs like that, programs that I highly respect. We picked some programs we wanted to be like, and we kept playing them until we could beat them.” The Knights closed the gap the following year, but Loachapoka still knocked them out in the sub-regional round, 42-20. But the 20162017 campaign had a different ending. Another one of those teams that Westminster-Oak Mountain had yet to defeat was Prattville Christian, a peak the Knights reached and passed around Christmas. That was one of the moments that set into motion the Knights’ storybook playoff run. “I would tell them, ‘You don’t believe how good you are,’” Gaché said. Gaché believes a pair of losses to Holy

Spirit and Cornerstone in the remaining regular season slate were equally as pivotal to the team’s success as anything else throughout the season, as far as serving as a reminder to not underestimate any opponent. Once the playoffs arrived, the Knights were ready. Big victories over Autaugaville and Talladega County Central set up a matchup with Loachapoka in the regional final. It was the Knights’ turn to get the job done, as they won 51-40 to advance to the Final Four at the BJCC. Westminster fell to eventual state champion R.A. Hubbard, 48-44, in a game the Knights led as late as the final minute. There were missed opportunities, but the loss does nothing to detract from the team’s accomplishment. “The girls were a little nervous and saw things they should’ve, could’ve, would’ve done better, but it was awesome,” Gaché said. In the latter stages of the season, the team even began breaking each team huddle by shouting the number, “four,” for its goal of reaching the Final Four. Gaché credited last year’s graduating class for laying the foundation for the varsity program at Westminster, and the Knights’ success this season came with no seniors and just one junior, Anna Rebekah Richburg, on the team. “That group of girls is special to me,” Gaché said. “A couple of them were (at the Final Four) and sent a lot of messages and are still involved with the program.” Gaché is a lawyer by day, and got into coaching when her daughter Megan was in second grade. She coached Megan’s teams until Westminster asked her to take charge of the varsity program four years ago. With Richburg, Megan Gaché, and a core of Morgan White, Macy Mixon, Rachel Price, Tori Deen, Evelyn Godfrey, Mary Catherine Griffith and Virginia Welch due back next season, the future is bright for the Knights. “Being a part of it has been phenomenal,” Dana Gaché said.

Westminster-Oak Mountain takes on R.A. Hubbard during an AHSAA Class 1A girls State Semifinal game on Monday, Feb. 27 at the Legacy Arena of the BJCC. The Knights eventually fell to the Chiefs 48-44 after a hard fought game. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

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Over the course of two-and-a-half weeks in late February and early March, the Spain Park High School girls basketball team earned every bit of the nickname that stuck. The Cardiac Kids. Urban Dictionary defines the name as “a title given to any sports team that displays a tendency to pick up nail-biting victories.” After watching Spain Park pull out a last-second thriller against Gadsden City in the Northeast Regional Semifinals and essentially duplicate the feat against McGill-Toolen in the State Semifinals, fans’ nails were already likely completely chewed up. Then Sarah Ashlee Barker nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer to send the State Final game against Hoover to overtime. Anybody with nails left to chew likely had an appointment scheduled with a cardiologist the following week. Spain Park endured a season of peaks and valleys, playing with some of the top teams throughout the year while suffering some disappointing losses. After a pair of less-than-stellar games in the area tournament, expectations were not high for a postseason run. But after falling behind 11 early in the fourth quarter to Gadsden City, hope was not lost. The Lady Jags roared back, and Holt tied the game at the end of regulation with a basket and subsequent free throw as Spain Park went on to win in the extra period. Against McGill, Spain Park once again found itself down 11, this time at the end of the third quarter. Another furious comeback led to overtime, and Holt sank a free throw in the closing seconds to seal the win. A month prior, Hoover and Spain Park met in the final days of the regular season, with the Lady Bucs coasting to a 66-40 victory. Their meeting in the title game could not have been more different.

Holt exploded for 14 first-half points to give her team a 26-19 lead at the halftime break. Hoover, meanwhile, struggled to generate much offensive rhythm through the first two quarters. Hoover played much better in the third quarter to close the gap and take a one-point lead into the final period. “This is about nine points better than we normally are,” head coach Mike Chase recalled

saying to his team. “We felt like we were in a good spot. We’ve been playing well in the fourth quarter.” Although Hoover prevailed in overtime of the Class 7A state championship game, the perspective of how magical the Lady Jags’ postseason run was not lost upon the locker room. “I know it’s really tough to lose a state championship game, but it’s still a huge deal

Hoover and Spain Park girls basketball teams battle for the AHSAA state championship title March 4 at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena. The Bucs prevailed over the Jaguars in overtime to take home the state championship. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

for us to get here, and it’s a great experience,” said Holt. “There’s games that you win and beat people by 20, and you yell at them in the locker room, and then there’s games that you lose and you played amazing, and you praise them. I told them I couldn’t be any more proud of this team, how they played, what they represented,” Chase said.

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School House

Chelsea High to receive 21-classroom addition School hopes to have project completed in January By ERICA TECHO Chelsea High School is growing, and not just in student population numbers. In early March, construction started on an addition to the school that will house 21 classrooms and one science lab. Plans for the addition were first announced in May 2016 as part of the Shelby County Board of Education’s plans for capital improvements. The project will be funded from revenue generated from refinancing the district’s existing debt at a lower interest rate, securing about $5.52 million for multiple capital projects in the county. “The school board has known that we have a need, and being able to refinance and make this happen sooner, rather than later, has been really nice for us,” said Chelsea High School Principal Wayne Trucks. CHHS is set to have about 1,250 students next year, and the Chelsea school zone has continued to see growing numbers at the middle and elementary school levels. During the 2016-17 school year, CHHS had 13 portable classrooms after removing four from the construction zone. “It will meet our current needs, but the zone is still growing,” Trucks said of the classroom addition. “The community is still growing.” The designated use for the addition has not been set, Trucks said, but there definitely will

be some reshuffling of classroom locations. “We know that we’ll have lots of movement in the building, particularly since it’s 21 [classrooms],” he said. “We’ve got 13 portables now, and since we’ve got 13, most of those folks will come inside.” Classrooms taught in the portables outside of the school are from a range of subjects and grade levels, so no students are in a portable classroom for the whole school day, Trucks said. Sometimes the classrooms in the portables, however, face limitations on technology. They rely on a WiFi connection, and it can be difficult to get laptop and Chromebook carts out to the classrooms. “The biggest positive is the fact that we will have everybody under the same roof, which eliminates the concern of ‘Do the kids outside the building get the same opportunities as the kids inside the building?’” Trucks said. Extra space indoors also will be helpful in the case of severe weather. Classes in the outdoor classrooms must be brought inside during storms, where space is limited and sometimes cramped. “We think [the addition] it’s going to be awesome because it’s going to really help with inclement weather, having everybody inside,” Trucks said. “One of the challenges now is we have to bring everybody outside inside the building, so we’re kind of all on top of each other. It should help us from a safety

The 33,000-34,000-square-foot addition at Chelsea High School is set to take about 300 days to be completed. Photos by Kyle Parmley.

[standpoint].” CHHS’ science department also is set to benefit from the new science lab. The school has one lab, which is used by nine teachers. A second lab will allow teachers to more easily schedule lab time and use the lab more frequently. The 33,000-34,000-square-foot addition is set to take about 300 days to be completed. Trucks said they are hopeful the addition will be completed in January, but that timeline will also depend on the weather. “The community is very excited,” Trucks said. “The teachers are very excited — especially the ones that have been outside. … It’ll really help us meet the needs of our students, and that’s going to be the biggest thing.”

During the 2016-17 school year, CHHS had 13 portable classrooms after removing four from the construction zone. “It will meet our current needs, but the zone is still growing,” Principal Wayne Trucks said.

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OMHS senior competes in international tournament The American entry in The Netherlands Lacrosse Cup ’17 earned silver medals in the tournament held Jan. 14-15 at Tilburg University, located in the Netherlands. The team, coached by Seton-La Salle High’s (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Brian Klisavage, was led in part by Oak Mountain High School senior Celia Brand. The team was comprised of players from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Texas and Alabama. Brand was the sole player representing Alabama. The team faced competition from club and national teams from The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Sweden. Tournament champion Sweden was the only team to beat Team USA, once in pool play and then again in the tournament final. Brand has played lacrosse for Oak Mountain throughout her middle and high school years, having played varsity all four years of high school. She will be furthering her education and lacrosse career this fall as she joins the University of Findlay (Ohio) women’s lacrosse team. “Celia was a big part of our success in Europe,” Klisavage said. “First off, she is a high-energy player who brings a lot of intensity and aggressiveness to the game. That was important as we had a number of underclassmen on this team, but when a senior player like Celia is aggressive the whole team

From left: Liam Falconer, Willa Rose Akins and Emma Burke hold up their UABCORD Central Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair certificates. Photo courtesy of Avery Rhodes.

Hilltop Montessori students earn science, engineering awards Oak Mountain High School senior Celia Brand will attend the University of Findlay in Ohio, where she will also continue her lacrosse career. Photo courtesy of Brian Klisavage and Jenni Brand.

picks up that and follows. “At both ends of the floor, Celia played well. She was a key part of a team defense that caused a great deal of turnovers and at the offensive end she scored multiple goals in each game and was always a threat to drive to the cage.” Klisavage continued: “Outside the lines, Celia is the type of player coaches love to have; a great teammate, always positive, always pushing herself and her teammates.” – Submitted by Brian Klisavage and Jenni Brand.

Student winners from the Hilltop Montessori School Science Fair were chosen to represent their school at the UAB-CORD Central Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair on March 4 at the UAB Recreation Center. Willa Rose Akins (fifth grade) won first place in the behavioral and social sciences division for her project, “Bunny Bias, Chinchilla Choices,” and will

be going on to compete in the finals in Huntsville on April 6-7. Liam Falconer (seventh grade) won second place in the engineering division and will also compete in Huntsville at the state competition. Emma Burke (eighth grade) received an award for outstanding achievement in the psychology division. – Submitted by Michele Wilensky.

Shelby teachers recognized as finalists for Presidential Awards Jennifer Northrup from Oak Mountain Elementary School and Natalie Landrum from Helena Elementary School were recognized as finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching at the March 9 board meeting in Montgomery. They were among eight nominees in the state, and both were nominated as outstanding math instructors. The Presidential Award for Excellence

in Teaching Mathematics and Science Teaching is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Shelby County Schools is honored to have two teachers recognized for their hard work and dedication to the teaching profession. – Submitted by Cindy Warner.

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The balloon that connected communities From left: Catherine, Stephany Henson, Lavinia Whatley and Patricia Henson met on March 18 to hold a prayer circle and send packages to both the Finleys and the Hodges. Photo courtesy of Stephany Henson.

By ERICA TECHO When Lavinia Whatley saw something silver floating in her pond, she felt a pull to pick it out of the water. “It was just kind of nagging at her; she just couldn’t let it go,” said Stephany Henson, the daughter-in-law of Whatley’s best friend, Patricia Henson. Whatley waited until the balloon was close enough to the shore, reached in and grabbed what turned out to be a silver Mylar balloon with “Super Cooper” and loving notes written on it. She took the balloon to Patricia Henson’s, where they laid out and dried the balloon and read the notes. “When I came home from work on Wednesday [March 7], they were just in tears,” Stephany Henson said, “and I was afraid they were going to tell me someone had passed.” Instead, they showed Henson the balloon and asked if she could help them find the family of Super Cooper, the family who wrote the notes to a young boy who had died. During the journey to find one family, Henson actually found the stories of two Super Coopers — Cooper Finley from South Carolina, and Cooper Hodges from Alabama. Henson posted a photo of the balloon, showing the words “Super Cooper” and a Superman symbol as well as a green angel tied to the balloon, to both family’s pages. The Finleys replied first. “I had looked at his [Cooper Finley] page, and it was very touching,” Henson said. “The logo was on the headstone, on their T-shirts.” She even got a message from Cooper Finley’s grandmother, who went by Mimi. The balloon had a note from Mimi, “so I thought, ‘Oh, it’s got to be them,’” Henson said. That’s when Henson decided to return the balloon to the Finley family. Henson’s mother died in the summer of 2016, and Henson was unable to bring back her personal effects from Washington. Instead, she mailed them, and one day the package of items showed up at her house.

“I opened it, and I just, I wasn’t ready,” Henson said. If she had known to expect the box that day, she said she could have planned and prepared herself. And she didn’t want Super Cooper’s family to feel that same shock. “I said, ‘I don’t want to do that to a family,’” she said. “I wanted to fill it up with love and put cards in there.” She reached out to Facebook, sharing the story of Cooper Finley, who died in January when he was just a few months old. She asked people to send cards or words of encouragement, and she said she would collect items at Somewhere in Time in Chelsea and 280 Paint and Body. “I think that there are people out there that want to spread love because it makes you feel good. It really does,” Henson said. Kind messages started to flow in on Facebook, she said, and the story was picked up by a local TV station. But when the story aired March 12,

Henson heard from the Finley family. It wasn’t their balloon. She once again took to Facebook to find Super Cooper. “A flood of people said, ‘Hey, this is the Hodges family. I think it could be theirs,’” she said. Cooper Hodges died June 11, 2016, after battling cancer at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. His family had released a balloon in his memory near the time he started treatments for the tumor on his spine. “We realized that we now had two families that are grieving,” Henson said, and their goal to send cards and encouragement extended to both families. On March 18, Henson and a small group from her church gathered at the Lee Branch UPS store to mail two packages — one for the Finleys and one for the Hodges. In addition to sending the balloon and cards to the Hodges,

the group donated $100 to the Ronald McDonald House. They also sent a stuffed bear to the Finleys and donated $100 to the American Heart Association walk. “They are both equally amazing families that have gone through such a tragedy, and this balloon has connected them,” Henson said. The balloon also connected three communities, Henson said, and she hopes the stories about two Super Coopers helped encourage others to give back and find hope. “I want people to have some glimmer of hope that there’s something positive going on here. That there’s love that can be spread around, and there’s good news,” Henson said. “And I want them to feel part of this journey because I know when you give to others, you get a really good feeling inside. And giving to others allows that kindness to grow in another person’s life.”

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SERVICE Naomi Pitts named Volunteer of the Year for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society By ALYX CHANDLER

W Naomi Pitts received the Volunteer of the Year award on Feb. 9 at the LLS Blood Drop Banquet. Photos by Alyx Chandler.

hen Naomi Pitts speaks to large crowds, she speaks with courage. Pitts, a Spain Park High School senior, is also a survivor of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a blood cancer. Even though she has been in remission for a few years now, that hasn’t stopped her from telling her story to inspire others. “She was always a very shy I’m a lot more and quiet-spoken young lady, but grateful since the she started doing public speakcancer. It made ing at events to raise awareness for childhood cancer, and she got me realize how this holy boldness about her,” small the world is. said Naomi Pitts’ mother, ChrisNAOMI PITTS tine Pitts. “The first two or three speakers, you could barely hear her. But by the fourth, fifth time, it was like, who is that? That girl has a lot of confidence. She just speaks from the top of her head now, experience from the heart.” On Feb. 9, Naomi Pitts received the Volunteer of the Year award at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Blood Drop Banquet. LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to fighting blood cancer. Naomi Pitts volunteers as part of the LLS Student Series, a donation drive designed to teach children how to set and reach goals, as well as value community involvement. Students spend a few weeks during the 2016-17 school year on programs they design to raise money to end blood cancers. “One day, she just came right in after volleyball,” said Maggie Rountree, campaign manager of LLS’ Alabama and Gulf Coast Chapter. “Truth be told, high school students can find a whole lot more interesting things to do than sort data on a computer, but she wanted to help. It matters to her.” Naomi Pitts served as an Honorary Ambassador for LLS and the Spain Park fundraiser, the “Hometown Showdown,” a basketball game and fundraising event between Spain Park and Hoover High. Last year, she supported LLS’ Man and Woman of the Year campaign and was named Teen of the Year. “It’s therapeutic and empowering for her to share her story because there’s so much hope and inspiration in it,” Rountree said. “I know [sharing] is not for every student, but for Naomi, she lives knowing it inspires and helps others that are currently going through treatments.” Naomi Pitts was first diagnosed with blood cancer when she started middle school. She went through a year and a couple of months of chemotherapy at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. Christine Pitts said the initial diagnosis was hard with the physical repercussions of the chemotherapy, especially as a young woman, not even a teenager yet. Being isolated from people because of germs was also extremely difficult, especially being so young and losing the closeness with her group of friends she was just beginning to make, Christine Pitts said. “With kids that young, it’s out of sight, out of mind,” she said. Naomi Pitts said she also lost a lot of weight and was unable to play in any of the volleyball games, even though she just made the team. When she went into remission, it was like “trying to fit in all over again,” Christine Pitts said. But Naomi Pitts said it hasn’t been an entirely negative experience. Because of the cancer, she has had the opportunity to make a

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Pitts receives a hug after being honored with a Volunteer of the Year award and followed with a speech about her experience with cancer.

difference and meet people dedicated to making a difference. “I’m a lot more grateful since the cancer,” Naomi Pitts said. “It made me realize how small the world is.” Naomi Pitts first got involved with LLS in 2014. Since then, she has been known to write notes of encouragement to the recruitment team, help sort through a lot of data and sign and write letters detailing her story and asking for donation money from friends and family

all over the U.S. “I tell people if I can be half the woman Naomi is as a high school senior, I’ll be quite proud,” Rountree said. “She is incredible. She has really served in a number of capacities to support our chapter.” The most important thing to Naomi Pitts is being able to have an influence on her peers. “Thanks to research, nearly 90 percent of children with acute leukemia are now cured,” Rountree said. “But there still is a long way to

go. Leukemia affects more children than any other cancer, so LLS’ Student Series donation drive provides a meaningful way for kids to help kids. Every dollar really does make a difference.” Even though she’s leaving to go to Auburn University next year to study biochemical engineering, Naomi Pitts said she wants to continue volunteering for LLS in the years to come. For more information about the program, go to

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hen Kimberly Smith-Highland first discovered a brothel in the Iberian Peninsula in 2001, she didn’t know it was a brothel. At the time, she was working as a student missionary at the University of Salamanca. She thought it was just a street ministry for immigrant children. At one point, one of the youngest children, a 6-year-old boy named Carlos, came up to her, bouncing up and down unnaturally and acting anxious. She knew something was wrong. “Aunti Kimberly,” he said to her, “Aunti” being a term they called women. “Where’s the Vaseline?” Then it clicked, and she guessed what was going on.

Kimberly SmithHighland hugs a woman she formerly helped save from slavery. Photos courtesy of Make Way Partners.

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Kimberly Smith-Highland stands with some of the orphans Make Way Partners provides care for.

She took him immediately to the hospital to get medical treatment, where they discovered severe mistreatment and mutilation. This was just the start for Smith-Highland. Since 2003, Smith-Highland has founded Make Way Partners, a Christian grassroots organization that works to combat human trafficking in the areas where children have the fewest resources. She is president of the organization and a Chelsea native, where she lives and blogs about her experiences. The brothel Smith-Highland found was filled with 19 immigrant children between the ages of 6 and 16. When she attempted to alert authorities, no one in the community would comment or help. “The Portuguese government was complicit to the problem, complacent, even,” Smith-Highland said. She later found out the area had extensive human trafficking. As she contacted people in the region, she became aware of the role the Russian Mafia played, which was why no one wanted to get involved. As she tried to shut down the brothel, Smith-Highland had what she describes as her “Esther moment,” where for the first time in her life, she felt a calling. “I just couldn’t stop thinking, that could have been my kids,” she said. Finally, through help from various human trafficking organizations, the brothel was shut down almost two years after she first discovered it. “No one was really talking about [child prostitution] back then,” she said. “I knew I wanted to go to the places where women and children were most at risk or vulnerable, where there was organized crime and dangerous warlords, remote locations where it was expensive to get to these children.” That’s when she began to pinpoint the places that had the least amount of resources to fight against human trafficking. In the process of seeking partners to help, she found the Voice of Martyrs, an organization dedicated to traveling around the world documenting and providing relief to people who are persecuted by the government for exercising Christian beliefs. Through the organization, she met Petr Jasek. Later that year, she went to Eastern Europe with Jasek and his Voice of Martyrs team, when she ended up working in Bucharest, Romania, with children who live in the sewers, and on to Transnistria, Moldova, where they walked the streets, documenting and understanding the trafficking situation, providing aid when they could. Much of this time she spent learning and understanding about how to make a permanent difference. Instead of bringing temporary relief with Western leadership, she concluded she wanted to focus the organization on being indigenously led. Smith-Highland’s role would be to

find a leader to continue the relief when she left the country. “We look for someone who is using whatever they got to try to make a difference, to try to save people,” she said. Make Way Partners focuses on helping through education and funding. Eventually Jasek came to her, saying that if she truly wanted to reach the “children and women who were most vulnerable,” she needed to go to Sudan and South Sudan. She said he kept persisting, and so she spent the next year praying and struggling to decide. It was early 2004, when the Darfur conflict was affecting 5 million people. Going to the area would be dangerous, and getting in the country would have to be done illegally. Smith-Highland finally went to Sudan, and she was the only woman with a team of 25. It was her first time in Africa, her first time in a war. They stayed in tents and never had running water. After a month distributing food and searching for an indigenous leader, the group reached their last stop at the cusp of the Sahara Desert. In one final attempt to find someone local who could help lead, Smith-Highland and Jasek walked off from the team and came across a triangle of three big trees, each spaced about 50 feet apart. Under each tree, there was a cluster of children. It was about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, she said, and the children’s hair was an unhealthy orange and their skin was powdery from malnourishment and dehydration. Between the trees, a skinny man named James ran from tree to tree, where chalkboards had been set up. He yelled “One, two, three, four,” and “A-B-C-D” and “For God so loved the world…,” and the children shouted it back, in the process of learning. This was the first time Smith-Highland felt like she might have found a leader. After spending time with James and the orphans he cared for, Smith-Highlands said he asked them to follow him into the desert with him because he said there were more orphans starving there. During the trip, they saw the refugee camps, which turned out to be thousands of people scattered in the hot Sahara Desert with little food or water. Eventually, they ran out of medicine, food and supplies, and there was nothing else left for Smith-Highlands and the group to do. As she was getting ready to leave, a group of women pushed a little girl toward Highland-Smith, insisting there was no one for her, that she was raped and Highland-Smith must help her. “I felt powerless, told her she has no more food or medicine, but that I would come back and tell her story and not forget her. I told her we would come back and drill wells and try to help her people,” she said. Smith-Highland said she knew this was a place that had very little help or resources; she knew she had to come back.

She gave her last remaining money to James and told him to use it for the orphans. She returned a year later and was shocked by how much James had stretched the money. The orphans had been eating all year, and they looked healthier than before. He became Make Way Partners’ first indigenous leader. Along with classrooms for a school, the decision was quickly made to build an orphanage. As time went on, two other orphanages were built in Uganda and in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. Make Way Partners began to grow, adding more indigenous leaders. They were training a generation to know the power of education, safety and peace. Now, in 2017, the children have special computers that can endure heat and sandstorms, and they have computer labs where they are schooled to prepare for college. The orphanages provide 1,500 legally unadoptable orphans with 24/7 security, and everyone gets three free meals a day. They now have over 300 indigenous employees from Sudan, South Sudan and a dozen who live in the United States. Last year, the first girls in the history of South Sudan, as well as the kids from the first orphanage, graduated from the original school Make Way Partners built. They are in the process of taking international exams, which allows them to qualify for universities. “These kids have a real burning desire to be in the medical profession,” Smith-Highland said, going on to say that they are building a hospital this year. “There’s a huge need for doctors, and these graduates want to come back and help their people.” For Smith-Highland, it became clear that everything she was doing was worth risking her life, despite the hardship it was for her family and the danger she faced daily. Make Way Partners is about being a “compassion witness,” and they don’t “take tallies” of who they convert. The organization has been financed from private donations, primarily using word-of-mouth to grow. The Child Sponsorship program through Make Way Partners is $100 a month, and it covers all the needs of the child. She said 100 percent of the proceeds go to the child. “We’ve never lost a child under our care, which is something I’m very proud of,” she said. In Smith-Highland’s first book, “Passport Through Darkness,” which was awarded the INSPY’s Best Creative Nonfiction of 2011, she recounts a lot of the dangers, miracles and events that took place over the year. She is in the process of writing her next book, which she hopes to finish by the end of summer. To learn more about Make Way Partners and Smith-Highland or to sponsor a child, go to Call 1-888-3737-888 to report current victims of human trafficking.

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280 Living

Faith Life Actually By Kari Kampakis

15 things college girls should know It was a college football game weekend, and as my friend walked down sorority row with her teenage daughter, her daughter took it all in. The energy. The buzz. The sea of people dressed in the school colors, full of excitement and hope. Out of the blue, her daughter asked an interesting question. “Mom, what’s the hardest part of college?” Her mother said the first thing that came to mind: “Saying no.” It was a funny answer, yet true. Saying no is the hardest part of college. Whether it’s no to Domino’s pizza at midnight, no to going out on Tuesday night because you need to study, or no to someone who is pushing you against your better judgment, it is beneficial and wise to get comfortable using the word no. Having four daughters, I think a lot about preparing them for this stage. Here are 15 things I believe college girls should know. ► Boundaries are good, and it’s imperative to set boundaries for yourself because nobody will set them for you. College is one season of life where you can compromise your values without anyone blinking an eye. With nobody to monitor you ― making sure you study, take care of yourself and choose healthy relationships ― it’s important to set personal standards and decide in advance what you will and won’t do. ► College is when you turn into the person you’re going to be. Because friends play a major role in shaping this person, choose your friends wisely. The best friends are fun and good for you. There is strength in numbers, and finding friends on the same page with you helps you live out your convictions. Together you can

say, “These are our goals. We can do it.” ► What you put into your body matters. Whether it’s food, alcohol or drugs, it impacts your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Love your body enough to protect it. Make healthy choices that help you feel strong and good about yourself. ► Taking a few steps in the wrong direction can lead to more steps in the wrong direction. If you do something dumb, learn from it. Don’t repeat the same mistake or let your mistake become a pattern that’s hard to reverse later. ► You always have a choice. You don’t “have” to do anything that you know isn’t right. It’s okay to leave a party that’s getting too wild. It’s okay to ditch a date who’s being disrespectful. Think for yourself and be a leader. Look out for yourself and the people around you. ► Take care of your friends. If a friend’s not thinking clearly, think clearly for her. This may mean taking away car keys so she can’t drink and drive. Or pulling her back before she leaves with a strange boy. Or calling her parents when she has a serious problem that needs attention. Love your friends as you hope they’d love you. ► College can be a time to either neglect your faith or take your faith to a new level. Taking it to a new level gives you something to cling to. It provides an anchor that can center you and remind you of what’s real, right and true. ► Loneliness can sneak up on you at random. This is completely normal. With so many changes and uncertainties, you may occasionally miss the stability of home and familiarity of your old life. These growing pains of becoming an adult happen to everyone, and

talking yours out with someone can help you feel less alone. ► Professors love proactive students. When you talk to them, ask questions, engage in class and seek guidance, you build a rapport that may lead to job opportunities, increased confidence and better communication skills with adults. ► Learning to manage stress is a gift you give yourself. Having academic pressures and adult responsibilities is a lot to juggle. Finding ways to decompress and deal with stress ― e.g. exercising, praying, listening to music, sleeping well, eating well, taking breaks with friends, and keeping a gratitude journal ― can keep you calm instead of overwhelmed. ► You were made to chase your dreams, not boys. While boys are a part of your world, it’s unhealthy to make them the center of your world. Pursue your passions instead. Become the girl who eventually attracts the right guys as they notice you and think, “Wow. She’s awesome. She’s the package: pretty, smart, talented, and kind. I want to be part of her world. I want to know her better.” ► God’s grace is bigger than any mistake you make. Your mistakes don’t define you. If you happen to wake up one day and can’t believe who you’ve become ― or if you simply feel disappointed in yourself ― ask God to forgive you. Remember His mercies are new each morning, and regardless of what transpired in the past, you can still create a great future. ► Learning to listen to different ideas without believing everything you hear is a crucial life skill. As Aristotle said: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought

without accepting it.” College exposes you to many personalities, perspectives, and lifestyles. It can be thrilling and confusing. Open your mind to be enlightened, but form your own convictions and conclusions. Seek the truth by getting to know God since God is truth. ► Your parents love you more than you know. They long to hear from you, be part of your life and welcome you back home. ► Your best years are still ahead. Your future is full of hope. College, in many ways, is an unforgettable experience. It offers the ultimate opportunity to expand your mind, your heart and your social network. And as you start a new life on campus, I have two other words to remember too: Enjoy it. Look around and take it all in. Enjoy the memories made and the friendships sealed. Know that for every time you say no, there’s another invitation around the corner. Yes, college prepares you for work, but more importantly, it prepares you for life. It introduces you to life beyond home and to some of your favorite people who you’ll treasure forever and count on for decades to come. Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Birmingham area mom of four girls, columnist and blogger for The Huffington Post. She has written two books for teen/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 email her at

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280 Living


Real Estate Listings MLS #







1375 Oxford Manor Lane





6084 Terrace Hills Drive





616 Cherokee Circle





4013 Alston Way





1165 Eagle Park Road





6043 Eagle Point Circle





1041 Belvedere Cove





1812 Hardwood View Drive





2809 Downing Circle





1540 Greystone Parc Circle





1023 Little Turtle Circle





4004 Shandwick Lane





4389 Kings Mountain Ridge





2121 Cahaba Crest Drive





297 Highland View Drive





181 River Birch Road





612 Grayson Place





227 Brynleigh Circle





1062 Dunsmore Drive





403 Lake Chelsea Way



1375 Oxford Manor Lane

4004 Shandwick Lane

Real estate listings provided by the Birmingham Association of Realtors on March 20. Visit

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

April 2017 • C21

Calendar 280 Area Events Thursdays through May 4: Grief Share. 7 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. Visit groups/58606. Registration fee: $20 (includes workbook).

April 6: South Shelby Chamber luncheon. 11:30 a.m. Columbiana First Baptist Church. Visit

April 4: Greater Shelby Chamber – Small Business Mentorship Program. 8 a.m. Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce, 1301 County Services Drive, Pelham. Visit

April 8 & 9: Hanna’s Garden Shop Spring Fling 2017. Save 15 percent on all plants. Snacks, drinks, giveaways and special discounts.

April 5: Greater Shelby Chamber – Workforce Development Group. 8:30 a.m. Location varies. Visit April 5: Greater Shelby Chamber – Ambassador Work Group. 11:30 a.m. Greater Shelby Chamber, 1301 County Services Drive, Pelham. Visit April 5: Greater Shelby Chamber – Small Business Work Group. 4 p.m. Location varies. Visit

Mt Laurel Library April 1-28: Bookmark Contest. Create a bookmark based on the summer reading theme “Build a Better World.” All kids, preschool through 12th grade, are encouraged to submit a design by April 28. Visit April 6: Mt Laurel Book Club. 7 p.m. Discussing Strapless by Deborah Davis.

April 7-9: Cotton Patch Gospel, The Greatest Story Ever Retold. Crossbridge Church of Christ. April 7-8, 7 p.m. April 9, 2 p.m.

April 11: Greater Shelby Chamber – Network280. 4:30-6 p.m. Outback Steakhouse. $10 chamber investors, $20 future investors. Register at Visit April 12: Greater Shelby Chamber – Existing Business and Industry Work Group. 8:30 a.m. Location varies. Visit

April 13: Greater Shelby Chamber – Investor Reception. 11:30 a.m. Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce. Register at info@ by April 11. Visit business. April 14: Greater Shelby Chamber – Health Services Work Group. 8:30 a.m. Location varies. Visit Visit business. April 18: Greater Shelby Chamber – Entrepreneur Roundtable I. 8 a.m. Location TBD. Visit April 18: Greater Shelby Chamber – Entrepreneur Roundtable 280. 11:30 a.m. Location TBD. Visit April 27: Greater Shelby Chamber – Governmental Work Group. 8:30 a.m. Location varies. Visit

April 12: Coffee with the Mayor of Chelsea. Chelsea City Hall. 8:30 a.m. Visit

Fridays: BYOC – Bring your own crochet (craft). 10 a.m. Audio/Reading room. Visit April 8: Lego Club. 9:30 a.m. For ages 5 and up.

Kids Mondays: 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. Wednesdays: Family Storytime with Mr. Mac. 10:45 a.m. Stories, puppets, and lots of music for every member of the family. All ages. No registration. Thursdays: 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. April 1-28: Bookmark Contest. Create a bookmark based on the summer reading theme “Build a Better World.” All kids, preschool through 12th grade, are encouraged to submit a design by April 28. Visit April 1: Lego Club. 10 a.m. All ages.

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

North Shelby Library

Visit April 8: Homeschool Workshop. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Chelsea City Hall Led by Kristy Trent of Essentials Church School, for those new to homeschooling or those needing a refresher. Free. Visit

April 4, 18: Baby Tales. 10 a.m. Ages birth-18 months. April 4, 11, 18 and 25: Hedgie Hello. 3:30 p.m. Meet the library’s pet hedgehog, Oliver. All ages. April 4, 11, 18 and 25: Coding Club. 4 p.m. Registration required. Ages 3-6. April 5, 12, 19 and 26: Family Storytime with Mr. Mac. 10:45 a.m. All ages. April 5, 12, 19 and 26: Hedgie Hello. 11:30 p.m. Meet the library’s pet hedgehog, Oliver. All ages.

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280 Living

North Shelby Library cont. April 11: Picture Book Club. 10 a.m. Stories, games, craft and snacks. All ages. April 15: Easter Egg Hunt. 9:30 a.m. Babies-age 3 in meeting room. Ages 4 and up in Children’s Department at 10 a.m. April 17: Garden Gates. 4 p.m. Hour of hands-on STEM fun. Ages 5 and up. Registration required. April 19: Homeschool Hangout- Drummer John Scalici. 1 p.m. Meeting room. Ages 7-12. Registration required. April 25: Sensory Storytime. 10 a.m. For children with special needs and caregivers. Registration required. April 27: Maker Madness. 4 p.m. An hour of STEM learning. Ages 8-12. Registration required. April 28: Preschool Kitchen Science. 10:30 a.m. Stories, songs and science experiments for preschoolers. Registration required. Teens Fridays: Open Gaming. 3:30 p.m. Teen Department. Participants must have a parent permission slip on file to attend. April 10: Anime Night. 6 p.m. Evening of anime and snacks. 6th-12th grade. April 13: Manga/Comic Book Club. Teen Department. Discussion and snacks. 6th-12th grade. April 13: Teen Leadership Council Meeting. 6 p.m. 6th-12th grade. April 13: Sushi Making for Teens. 6:30 p.m. Chef will teach 6th-12th graders to make sticky rice and roll sushi. Registration required. April 15: Volunteer Day. Help the library and

earn community service hours. Volunteers can work 1-2 hours on a variety of tasks. Limit 5 volunteers; must be in grades 6-12. To sign up for a time, use our online calendar at or contact Kate at 439-5512 or Adults April 2: Forgotten Alabama. 2 p.m. Meeting room. Glen Wills shares his journey across Alabama. Registration required. April 4: Computer Comfort. 10-11:30 a.m. Registration Required. $5 deposit required upon registration. Deposit returned upon attendance or when cancelling at least 24 hours in advance. An introductory class covering the computer and various basic functions such as computer components and Windows navigation. We will discuss file management and go over other concerns you have about using a computer. April 5: Introduction to Microsoft Word 2013. 10:30 a.m. 2nd Floor. Registration required. April 12: Introduction to Microsoft Excel 2013. 10:30 a.m. 2nd Floor. Registration required. April 13: Color Therapy for Adults. 2 p.m. Meeting room. Pages and colored pencils provided. Registration required. April 13: Color Therapy for Adults. 6 p.m. Meeting room. Pages and colored pencils provided. Registration required. April 20: NSL Book Club. 10:30 a.m. Library Conference Room. April 27: Author Drew Huffman. 6:30 p.m. Meeting Room. Dissing his new book Screw This. A real-life guide to change your life. Registration required. April 28: Acrylics 101- Find the Artist in You. 6 p.m. Meeting room. Learn to paint with acrylics. Registration required.

St. Vincent’s One Nineteen First and third Mondays: Next Chapter Book Club/Greystone Chapter. 4:30-5:15 p.m. Book club meeting follows the Hoover School System calendar.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. Visit Wednesdays: Baby Café. 10 a.m.-noon. 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, but please call Rosie at 930-2807 to reserve your space. April 1: Lupus Support Group. 10 a.m.-noon. This group supporting lupus patients and their families will meet the first Saturday of every month at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen. This month a discussion will revolve around a Q & A session. This event is free and is sponsored by the LUPUS Foundation of America-MID-SOUTH Chapter. Call 1-877-8658787 for more information. April 4, 20 & 24: Wake Up to Wellness. 9-11 a.m. Front desk. To promote healthy living and to highlight the wide range of services and offerings here at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen, we will offer education at various times during the month. April 4 - Spring Clean Your Pantry; April 20 - Sunscreen Awareness; April 24 - Workouts You Can Do with Your Kids. April 11: Blood Pressure/Body Mass Index Screening. 8-11:30 a.m. A representative from Wellness Services will be screening for blood pressure and BMI in the front entrance at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen. This is a free service. April 17: Thyme to Cook for Kids. 4-6 p.m. Dinner

6-6:45 p.m. Kids, come and have some fun with others your age (6-12) at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen preparing a healthy and flavorful meal. Parents, meet your young chef at 6 p.m. 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 408-6600 by April 13 to register. April 18: 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 given preceding the class time. Please call 9397248 to register. April 19: Spring Clean Your Dinners. 11 a.m.noon. The dark days of winter are over with their heavy soups and stews, and spring has arrived with a plethora of fresh, seasonal vegetables for lighter meals. Join Registered Dietitian and Chef Jessica Ivey at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen as she shares some favorite recipes to lighten up your meal plan, featuring spring asparagus, peas, and other seasonal selections. The cost is $12 per person for tasting. Please call 408-6600 to register by April 17. April 21: Breakfast with the Doc: Knowing Your Veins. 8-9 a.m. Join Duane Randleman, MD, a cardiovascular thoracic physician with Varicosity Vein Center, as he discusses varicose veins and the signs and symptoms that can signify when they are more than just a cosmetic concern, as well as treatment options available. Enjoy this presentation and a light breakfast. Please call 408-6600 to register for this free seminar at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen. April 26: Wellness Screenings. 7:30 a.m.-5 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. Cost is $20 for members and non-members. Please call 408-6550 to register.

April 2017 • C23

Area Events April 1: Pepper Place Winter Market. 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Visit April 1: 2017 Alabama Asian Cultures & Food Festival. 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Zamora Shrine Temple. Food tokens $4, drink tickets $2. Visit facebook. com/alabamafestival. April 1: Alabama Symphony Orchestra EBSCO Masterworks Series. 7:30 p.m. $25-$74. Visit April 2: UAB Music Faculty recital. 4 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. Featuring bass Won Cho and pianist Chris Steele. Free. Visit April 3: BAO Bingo. 7 p.m. Birmingham AIDS Outreach. $15-$25. Visit April 5: Southeastern Kayak and Canoe TripSipsey Fork River. Depart 8 a.m. from Kmart Green Springs or 9:30 a.m. from Jacks in Double Springs. Reservations required. Email seoutings@bellsouth. net. April 5: UAB Music Student Recital: Advanced Students. 12:20 p.m. Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Free. Visit April 5: UAB Brass Chamber Ensemble Concert. 7:30 p.m. Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Free. Visit April 5-9: A Little Night Music. Alys Stephens Center. 7:30 p.m. nightly, 2 p.m. Sunday. Presented by Theatre UAB. $15-$20, $6 students, $10 UAB employees and senior citizens. Visit alysstephens. org. April 5-16: The Phantom of the Opera. BJCC Concert Hall. $35-$146. Visit Birmingham. April 6: Drink & Drop- Inaugural Adult Egg Drop Competition. 5:30 p.m. Vulcan Park. Visit April 6: Birmingham Art Crawl. 5 p.m.-9 p.m. 113 22nd St. N. Meet local artists and performers and buy their work. Visit April 6: UAB Music’s Guitar Ensemble and Jazz Combos. 7:30 p.m. Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Free. Visit April 6: Live at the Lyric- Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. 8 p.m. Lyric Theatre. $20-$39.50. Visit April 6-9: Alabama Auto Show. BJCC Exhibition Halls. 12 p.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. $8, children 14 and under are free. Visit April 6-9: Ovation. Dorothy Jemison Day Theatre. Presented by the Alabama Ballet. $20-$50. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Visit April 7: Chamber Music @ AEIVA. Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts. 5 p.m. gallery viewing and reception, 5:30 p.m. concert. Free. events. April 8: Spring Walking Tour: First Avenue South/ Rotary Trail. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Registration required. $10 members, $12 non-members.

Center. -$38-$62. Visit April 9: UAB Gospel Choir Spring Concert. 7 p.m. UAB Campus. Free. Visit April 9: Spring Food Truck Rally. More than 20 trucks, live entertainment, kids activities and more. $5 advance, $10 at gate, $2 kids, under 5 are free. Visit April 10: UAB Music presents a Russian/American faculty recital. 7 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. Free. Visit April 11: UAB Piano Recital/Ensembles. 7:30 p.m. Mary Culp Hulsey Recital Hall. Free. Visit news. April 13: Southeastern Outings Weekday Hike. 8:30 a.m. Tannehill State Park. Depart 8:30 a.m. parking lot behind McDonald’s Galleria. Contact Christine Heckemeyer at 205-979-5730. April 13: Lalah Hathaway. Alys Stephens Center. 7 p.m. $39-$59. Visit Visit barons. com. April 15-16: Tannehill Trade Days. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. $3-$5. Visit April 15: Southeastern Outings Canoe and Kayak Trip. Locust Fork River. Depart 9 a.m. from Cleveland Chevron Station. Reservations required. Contact Dan Frederick at April 19: Birmingham Revealed- A Talk with Frank Stitt and Friends. 5:30 p.m. Vulcan Park & Museum. Chefs Frank Stitt, George Reis, Jerry Hartley and Harinam Khalsa. Members $8, non-members, $10. Visit April 20: Niyaz featuring Azam Ali. 7 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. $42.50. Visit April 21: Enchantment Theatre Company’s Peter Rabbit Tales. 7 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. Visit April 21: Soul2Soul Tour: Tim McGraw & Faith Hill. Legacy Arena at the BJCC. 8 p.m. Tickets $69.50$109.50. Visit April 21: Live at the Lyric: The Story Tour- An Acoustic Evening with Brandi Carlile. 8 p.m. Lyric Theatre. Tickets $39.50-$59.50. Visit April 21-22: 19th Annual Lebanese Food & Cultural Festival. St. Elias Maronite Church. Featuring food, self-guided tours, silent auctions and 5K and fun run. Visit April 21-23: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Barber Motorsports Park. Tickets $15-$39, three-day general admission $69. Visit April 21-30: School of Rock. RMTC Cabaret Theatre. Tickets start at $19. 7:30 p.m. Thurs-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit April 22: 12th Annual Gumbo Gala. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sloss Furnaces. Food, music, kid’s activities and more. Benefiting Episcopal Place. Visit April 22: 11th Annual Crawfish Boil Benefiting a Cure for Clara. 2-10 p.m. Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.

April 8: Walk MS Birmingham. 9 a.m. Regions Field. Free. Visit

April 23: Jeremy Denk. 7 p.m. Alys Stephens Center. Tickets $42-$78. Visit

April 8: Cajun Cook-off. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Railroad Park. $25 adults, children 12 and under, free. Visit

April 24: Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science. 7:30 p.m. BJCC Concert Hall. Tickets $27-$102. Visit

April 8: CahabaQue BBQ Cook-off. 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Cahaba Brewing Company. Supporting breast cancer research in Alabama. $20 general admission 21 and up, $15 under 21, $5 ages 12 and under, kids under 6 are free. Visit

April 29: Spring Walking Tour: Crestline Village, Walkable Town Center. Vulcan Park and Museum. 9 a.m.-12 p.m. $10 members, $12 non-members Visit

April 9: Southeastern Outings Second Sunday Dayhike. Oak Mountain State Park. Depart 1 p.m. from Oak Mountain Park office parking lot. Contact Edd Spencer 205-317-5868. April 9: Anoushka Shankar. 7 p.m. Alys Stephens

April 29: Feast of St. Mark Italian Festival. 3 p.m. St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church. $25 adults, $10 children. Visit April 30: Alabama Wildlife Center and Audubon Teaches Nature- Alabama Birding Trails. 1:30 p.m. Alabama Wildlife Center, Oak Mountain State Park. Free after paid park admission. Visit

280 Living April 2017  
280 Living April 2017