280 Living May 2024

Page 1

XTERRA Triathlon becomes national championship

FSee XTERRA | page A24

New parks plan aims to expand Hoover trail network, capitalize on Cahaba River

The Hoover City Council earlier this year put its stamp of approval on a new Parks, Public Spaces and Recreation Plan for the city, setting out goals and objectives for the next 20 years.

The top priority for the next five to 10 years is to expand the trail and greenway system in the city, focusing first on developing a trail along the Cahaba River and opening up recreational opportunities related to the Cahaba River and Shades Creek.

Other goals include upgrading and adding to

existing city parks and recreational amenities, adding more parks and amenities to fill in gaps of service, and expanding recreational programming, in particular to include more outdoor adventure, nature and environmental, fitness and wellness programs.

Surveys, town hall meetings and focus group meetings revealed that Hoover residents like to use the existing trails in the city and have a strong desire for more, especially trails that lead to waterways such as the Cahaba River and other scenic spots.

See PARKS | page A26

St. Vincent’s One Nineteen to host fitness classes for new moms. Sports show The Next Round enjoys widespread success, but remains committed to home. Sponsors A4 City A6 Business A10 Community A16 Schoolhouse A17 Events A22 Sports B4 Opinion B14 Real Estate B15 INSIDE facebook.com/280living See page A16 See page B4 Mom Fit The Next Round May 2024 | Volume 17 | Issue 7 THE 280 CORRIDOR’S COMMUNITY NEWS SOURCE 280LIVING.COM | STARNESMEDIA.COM BROUGHT TO YOU BY SERVING THE 280 CORRIDOR, HOMEWOOD, HOOVER, MOUNTAIN BROOK, TRUSSVILLE AND VESTAVIA HILLS Cummings JEWELRY DESIGN 3166 Heights Village Cahaba Heights 205-298-9144 cummingsjewelrydesign.com RECORD HIGH PRICES! Sell us your GOLD Reaching a higher altitude
or the 17th year, the XTERRA World Cup trail running series is returning to Oak Mountain State Park this May; however, the 2024 event is getting an upgrade. Oak Mountain will be the site of the inaugu-
XTERRA North American
which will be the third event on the 2024 XTERRA
World Cup calendar, following races in Taiwan and Greece. The triathlon at Oak Mountain on May 18 and 19 will crown the top off-road triathletes in North America.
Whitewater Kayaker Bennett Smith on the Cahaba River. Staff photo. A mountain biker competes in the XTERRA race at Oak Mountain State Park. Photo courtesy of Discover Shelby.

Capella Pizzeria


Capella Pizzeria, a cherished family-owned and operated establishment, has emerged as a beacon of authentic Italian cuisine with not one but two locations, each promising a culinary paradise. Situated along the vibrant Highway 280, Capella's inaugural location entices both travelers and locals with its promise of Napoleon-style pizzas crafted using imported ingredients. Here, within the dynamic ambiance, diners embark on a gastronomic voyage that encapsulates Italy's culinary legacy. From the signature crispy crusts to the gooey cheeses and savory toppings, each pizza is a masterpiece meticulously prepared with care and devotion. Our Italian wood-fired ovens swiftly bake a pie in just 90 seconds, ensuring a flawless pizza experience.

Yet, the Capella experience goes beyond this. Journey to the picturesque town of Trussville, and you'll unearth the second jewel in this culinary crown. Nestled in a quaint corner, the Trussville location greets visitors with the same warmth and dedication to excellence that has defined Capella since its inception.

At both locales, the objective remains unwavering: to serve exceptional pizza and cultivate an ambiance that transports guests

ensures that each bite is a celebration of flavors and traditions.

What distinguishes Capella Pizzeria isn't solely its delectable pizzas but also its unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. Our amiable staff is always equipped with a smile, eager to suggest the perfect pie or cater to any special requests. It is this attention to detail and personalized service that keeps patrons returning time and again. And let's not overlook the delightful menu offerings. Capella Pizzeria focuses on serving whole pies exclusively and presents gelato, freshly prepared in-house cannolis, and cakes.

Capella Pizzeria also tantalizes guests with an impressive array of Italian wines, available both by the bottle and by the glass, alongside a selection of draft beers to complement your dining experi

• Where: 4700 U.S. 280 E., Suite 13 (next to Fresh Market) and 5445 Patrick Way, Suite 101 in Trussville

• Call: 205-438-6108 (Inverness), 205-895-4679 (Trussville)

• Web: capellapizzeria.com

• Hours: Open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (or until we run out of fresh dough)

ence. Whether you fancy a crisp Pinot Grigio to accompany your Margherita pizza or a robust Chianti to elevate the flavors of a meat-lover's pie, our meticulously curated wine list caters to every palate. And for beer aficionados, our draft assortment provides a refreshing accompaniment to your wood-fired pizza masterpiece. So, raise a glass and salute to a genuinely authentic Italian dining escapade at Capella Pizzeria.

Whether you find yourself on Highway 280 or in Trussville, Capella Pizzeria beckons you to relish the flavors of Italy and forge memories that linger well beyond the final slice savored. Two locations,

A2 • May 2024 280 Living
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About Us

I’m writing this in the middle of spring break, but by the time the paper reaches mailboxes, it will be almost May and just weeks away from the end of the school year.

It seems like the last nine weeks are just a downhill slide, and before you know it, school’s out for summer break.

My kids will be wrapping up fourth and ninth grades. Just one more year of elementary school for my daughter and three more years of school for my son. It’s such a cliche, but it does go by so fast.

It doesn’t always feel like that in the mundane day-to-day routines, but it really does. Summer also means less hectic days, more family time and hopefully a few trips. We’ll probably make our annual trip to Orange Beach and visit my in-laws near Hilton Head, South Carolina, and my husband gets to spend over three weeks in Paris as he covers the Olympics with NBC. I’m still holding out hope that I may get to pop over and visit while he’s there, but I know that will be the trip of a lifetime for him.

Gardens (A18)

Rooks Construction Services

LLC (B8)

Royal Automotive (B5)

Hope you’re getting excited for summer too, and thanks for reading!

Bromberg’s (B6)

Budget Blinds (A13)

Capella Pizzeria

Danberry at Inverness (A17)

Element Wellness (A21)

Etc. (B9)

Hearing Solutions (B11)

Hilliard Irrigation (A18)

Image Hive (B8)

Luckie’s Pine Straw (A1)

M&M Jewelers (A22)

Mr. Handyman of Birmingham (A17)

One Man & A Toolbox (A8)

Overture Tributary Vestavia

Greystar (B3)

Pak Mail (B10)

Parrot Structural Services

LLC (A27)

Piggly Wiggly (A15)

Rockett’s Bug Juice

Secret Garden - Dreamscape Landscape Development (A3)

Shelby County Chamber of Commerce (B6)

Signature Homes (B11)

Sikes Children’s Shoes (A21)

Southern Pain (B14)

Southeastern Jewelers and Engraving (B10)

Southern Blood Services (B14)

Southern Home Structural Repair Specialists (A22)

SouthState Bank (B13)

Space Cadets (A14)

Susan’s Hallmark Store (A7)

The Church at Brook Hills (A23)

The Narrows Self Storage (B9)

The Spot @ 280 (A12)

TherapySouth Corporate (A28)

TrustMark Bank (A11)

University of Alabama / Culverhouse College of Business / Executive MBA (A8)

VIP Barber Lounge (A11)

Vulcan Termite & Pest Control (B15)

We’ll Do It (A5)

Western Sales and Service

A4 • May 2024 280 Living
Stephens Leah Ingram Eagle
Parmley Melanie Viering Erin Nelson Sweeney Ted Perry Simeon Delante Sarah Villar Publisher: Editor in Chief: Community Editors: Sports Editor: Design Editor: Photo Editor: Graphic Designer: Production Assistant: Operations Specialist: Please Support Our Community Partners Ascension St. Vincent’s Health Systems (A15)
Express (B1, B16)
Ristorante (B15)
Orthodontics (B1)
Briarwood Soccer Club (A25)
(A2) Cardinal
(A19) Children’s of Alabama (A16) Chiropractic
(B2) Cummings Jewelry Design (A1)
Eyes on Chelsea (B13) Fancy Fur - Paws and Claws (A16)
Astroturf (A7)
Landscaping (A6) Greystone Marketplace (A10) Healthy Smiles
of Birmingham (B7)
(A7) Window World of Central Alabama (B2) Editor’s Note By Leah Ingram Eagle
OF THE MONTH Children on a U10 soccer team showcase their skills during halftime of an area game between Spain Park and Oak Mountain at Heardmont Park on April 9. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney. Legals: 280 Living is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. 280 Living is designed to inform the 280 community of area school, family and community events. Information in 280 Living is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of 280 Living. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email. Published by: Starnes Publishing LLC P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 dan@starnesmedia.com For advertising, contact: dan@starnesmedia.com Please submit all articles, information and photos to: leagle@starnesmedia.com Join the conversation. Scan the QR code to read us online, join our newsletter and follow us at Get 280 Living in your mailbox, inbox and online. Find Us 280 Living is distributed through direct mail to 280 corridor residents. You can also find copies at a variety of locations throughout the community. For a list of pick up locations, scan the QR code below or go to 280living.com/about-us. Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Loyd McIntosh Ashley Rogers Carmen Shea Brown Alana Smith Grace Thornton Warren Caldwell Don Harris Contributing Writers: Client Success Specialist: Business Development Exec: PLEASE RECYCLE THIS PAPER
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2024 class of Chelsea High School Hall of Fame announced; grants awarded to

The Chelsea High School Student Government Association announced the inductees of the fourth class of the Chelsea High School Hall of Fame during the March 19 Chelsea City Council meeting.

The Class of 2024 inductees include:

► David “Hootie” Ingram

► Cheryl Miller

► Dr. Brian Bunson

► Vickey Bailey

► Rick Yates

► Richard and Sarah Conkle

The ceremony was set for April 24 at Hargis Christian Camp.

Also during the meeting, the City Council approved grants for all four schools in the Chelsea zone. This was the first time the extracurricular grants were awarded since being separated from education grants.

Out of a total of $132,909.05 in grant funding, $49,857.24 went toward extracurricular grants. The education grants totaled $83,051.81.

Chelsea Park Elementary School received $31,116.23. Grant items included a laptop, sound system for the new gym, drop ceiling mount and projector, six ViewSonic interactive panels, a Chromebook cart, STEAM supplies and miscellaneous art supplies.

Forest Oaks Elementary received $14,607.97. Grant items included a Spero BOLT Power Pack; activity mats; a Solo Hovercam; instructional materials for reading, phonics and math; a subscription to Scholastic News; a golf tracker, hitting mat and net; and an office printer.

Chelsea Middle School received $52,078.69.

Grant items included assistance with the Love Like Lexi Project, cheer uniforms (schoolowned), show choir risers, Harmony

A6 • May 2024 280 Living
instrument repair, fitness
a ViewSonic interactive panel, a yearbook workshop, classroom chairs, SWARM Café supplies, a Sphero RVR class set and lightboxes and batteries for artwork. Chelsea High School received $35,106.16. Grant items included: the NAQT Practice Question Package (Scholar’s Bowl), state competition assistance, AP Physics I lab equipment and manuals, microphones, lighted stands, auditorium curtains, volleyballs and bookshelves.
schools Members of the Chelsea High School Student Government Association with Mayor Tony Picklesimer, third from right, and SGA sponsor Ryan Adams, far right.
of Wayne Morris. High Quality Service and Customer Satisfaction is our priority We’re committed to surpassing your expectations for your beautiful outdoor spaces by creating and maintaining landscaping, hardscape installation and effectively minimizing drainage and erosion issues. Your Large and Small Tree, Shrub and Drainage Experts gardnerlandscapingsales@gmail.com | GardnerLandscapingLLC.com BEST PRICE for Trees, Shrubs Astrotruf & Privacy Screens Gardner has the Call to schedule your landscaping plan 205-401-3347
Director and
Photo courtesy

Council to pay off Chelsea High weight room debt

they can buy equipment needed.”

Although council member Chris Grace voted yes to the request, he said the $155,000 will be taken from some future initiative that will come before the council.

Picklesimer said paying off the debt was at the council’s discretion and that he believed it was a great use of the money.

Also during the meeting, the council:

► Accepted a quote for improvements to the natural area between Melrose Park and the Chelsea Community Center, to create a walking trail in between the two areas.

“Dr. [Brandon] Turner [the principal at CHS] asked me to present this Nick grant to pay off the remaining debt and free up this money for the different sports to use,” Mayor Tony Picklesimer said at the April 2 council meeting. The original cost was $450,000, and the debt has been repaid in increments of $53,000 per year, paid for in different percentage amounts by the various sports teams, cheerleaders and band.

“All of this money is not focused on football, but this grant request touches every sport,” Picklesimer said. “We can retire the debt completely and take this [burden] off those different sports. Instead of paying money on the loan,

► Awarded an education grant fund to Forest Oaks Elementary in the amount of $220 for a printer.

► Accepted a quote for a three-year subscription to TextMyGov (councilors Weygand and Cody Sumners voted no).

► Heard from Deborah Higgins, the forensic services director at SafeHouse, after the council approved a proclamation at an earlier meeting declaring April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month. SafeHouse offers free counseling for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, along with response, prevention and intervention.

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City Council approved — minus one no vote from council member Scott Weygand — to pay off the remaining balance for the cost of the weight room at Chelsea High School, in the amount of $155,000.
High School made an agreement with the Shelby County Board Of Education to build the building itself, and the city ended up outfitting the building and purchasing all the weights.
The Chelsea Hornets’ weight room at the high school campus.
Inverness Corners Shopping Center (Winn-Dixie) 100 Inverness Corners, Suite 700 (205) 637-0688 • mydurhams.com SUSAN’S Everything you expect from your Hallmark store and more! New Ownership • Newly Renovated Not your Grandma’s Hallmark store! Design a necklace for Mom using birthstones. Susan’s offers a wide variety of Pandora™ charms, rings, and more to choose from. AUTHORIZED RETAILER John Medeiros Jewelry • Vera Bradley Willow tree, figurines, and angels Tyler CANDLE • Sorrelli • Mariana
Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

County hires new CFO, deputy county manager


Scroggins reported during the April 8 Shelby County Commission meeting that two new employees will assume roles with the county in May.

Brian Wheeler has been hired as the county’s new CFO and will train under current CFO Cheryl Naugher until her retirement in 2025. Wheeler works with the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts, and his territories include Washington, Monroe, Escambia, Mobile and Baldwin counties. He was also the manager over the Shelby County audits in 2011.

Jesslan Wilson has also been hired as the deputy county manager. She has spent the past six years as the director of economic development at Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.

Both Wheeler and Wilson will begin in their new roles on May 6.

Also during the April 8 meeting, the commission approved the paving contract for the west side of the county, which was awarded to Wiregrass Construction for $2,407,777.75.

At the previous commission meeting, the paving contract for the east side of the county was awarded to Dunn Construction. Scroggins said the idea of separating the contracts was wise to make sure the companies were near the paving area, in order to reduce the transportation costs.

The total of the two contracts totaled almost $6.2 million. The county partnered with the cities of Wilsonville and Harpersville, as well as one route with Chelsea, and paid $5.85 million in county funds.

A resolution was passed for an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which is designed to assist state and local governments in reducing energy use and fossil fuel emissions and improving energy efficiency. Shelby County is eligible for $81,530 to replace lighting systems with more energy-efficient LED lighting.

“We will use this grant to do a project we were already going to do, which is to convert some of the old halogen lights at Dunnavant Valley fields to LED,” Scroggins said. “The remainder of funding will come off lodging tax 2023 funds to meet the balance.”

Also during the meeting, the commission approved a second agreement between Shelby County and Shelby Ridge Utility Systems LLC, for installation of about two miles of sanitary sewer facilities within the right-ofway at County Road 43 (Bear Creek Road).

The sewers will be installed beginning at the access drive to the SRUS pump station at Forest Lakes and traveling approximately 10,456 feet east to the entrance road to the proposed Isaac’s Gap residential development.

An update on other projects throughout the county:

► There is a continued investigation of mental health services that can be implemented in the county to meet demand.

► The restroom/bathhouse at Oak Mountain State Park will have a ribbon cutting in May.

► There is an ongoing restroom and pavilion construction project at Altadena Park in Vestavia Hills. Part of the park is in Shelby County.

► Trail construction continues at Double Oak Park as a result of recent Recreational Trail Program grant funds

► Water Services was set to move into their new building by the end of April. This space will house employees, but residents will still pay water bills at the 280 County Services Building.

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County Engineer David Willingham, far right, discusses the paving and resurfacing project for the west side of Shelby County during the April 8 meeting of the Shelby County Commission. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.

Palmer: America must learn from its mistakes

Congressman speaks to area chambers

The United States must learn from its mistakes with federal finances and border control or face a rough future, Congressman Gary Palmer told a group of six chambers of commerce gathered in Hoover on April 4.

“This country has made some horrible mistakes,” said the Republican from Hoover, who represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. “We can either let those mistakes destroy our future or let those mistakes inform our future, so we can be a better people and a better country for it.”

One of the biggest mistakes the government has made is overspending and getting into too much debt, according to Palmer.

In the first two years of the Biden administration, the country’s projected spending increased by more than $10 trillion over the next ten years, according to the U.S. House Budget Committee, pushing the interest on the national debt to more than $1 trillion, Palmer said. That overspending and high debt has led to inflation, and the cost of living is impacting families in a negative way, he said.

Palmer said he recently learned that 35% of the people who get free groceries from the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama are senior citizens.

He served on the House Budget Committee for his first two terms in office and currently is working with the current Budget Committee chairman on a plan to balance the budget in 10 years without gimmicks, he said.

Two changes that Palmer believes would help with the national debt are to reduce “improper payments” from the federal government and increase tax collections (not tax rates).

This year, the government had around $250

billion in improper payments, according to the Government Accountability Office, $51 billion of which is related to Medicaid, he said. Also, the government is only successfully collecting 10% to 15% of the amount of taxes owed, which means that $5.4 trillion is going uncollected over Congress’s 10-year budgeting window, he said.


Another way to improve federal finances would be to change energy policies and work with other governments and private investors to improve energy infrastructure in South America, Latin America, the Caribbean and emerging

Have you had the BOUNTIFUL experience yet?

economies in Africa, Palmer said.

“Energy is the single most inflationary part of the entire economy,” Palmer said. “Everything you come in contact with has an energy source.”

The United States is an energy superpower, leading the world in energy production, but there are more opportunities that can be used to the country’s advantage, Palmer said.

If the U.S. were to work with other countries to improve their energy infrastructure, that would create opportunities for manufacturing there, and the U.S. could sell natural gas to those manufacturers, he said.

Also, the U.S. needs to beef up its extraction

of natural gas and critical minerals, Palmer said. Currently, The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, reports that the U.S. is dependent on China for 80% of the critical minerals that are needed to make things like batteries, microchips and semiconductors. If the country gets into bad relations with China and has its supply cut off, “we could really be up the creek,” Palmer said.

Ramping up domestic production of critical minerals would also help the economy, he said.

Prior to 2015, the United States had a self-imposed ban on exporting crude oil, Palmer said. That ban is gone, but President Biden has put a pause on oil and gas exploration, offshore drilling and construction of natural gas facilities, he said. He cited some estimates that if the United States started exporting crude oil, it could generate $1.3 trillion in new government revenues over 15 years.


A lack of control of people entering the country also has turned into a crisis, Palmer said. The United States knows of 7.9 million people who entered the country illegally in the past three years, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. And there are estimates of 600,000 to 700,000 more people who have slipped in undetected, Palmer said.

More than 340 illegal immigrants who have been caught in the past three years had known ties to terrorist organizations or were potential threats, federal statistics show. “This is a national security threat that we have to address,” Palmer said.

Also, he cited U.S. border patrol statistics that showed dramatic increases in the number of illegal immigrants convicted of murder or manslaughter in the United States. That number has risen from 11 convictions from 2017 to 2020 to around 160 convictions since 2021, he said. Also, the number of illegal immigrants convicted of sexual assault in the United States has increased from 431 from 2017 to 2020 to 1,210 since 2021, he said.

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U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, a Republican from Hoover who represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District, gives a “Washington update” to members of the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce, The Shelby County Chamber, Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, Gardendale Chamber of Commerce and Montevallo Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel on April 4 Photo by Jon Anderson.


locations at 5357 U.S. 280. The businesses share a building at the Bazaar 280, near Walmart. Guests can enjoy chicken tenders and sandwiches, hand-cut fries and custard at Super Chix. Cookie Fix offers fresh-made cookies or dough to go. superchix.com; 205-238-5317, cookiefix.com

The Amazing Lash Studio is now open in The Village at Lee Branch at 250 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 200. The studio provides full and partial sets of lashes, lash lifts for natural lashes and other treatments. The store is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 205-747-0866, amazinglashstudio.com

Rowan is now open in The Summit. This piercing shop is owned and operated by women who are also licensed nurses, to ensure the safest piercing every time, using hypoallergenic materials. The store is open Monday through Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.,

and Friday from noon to 6 p.m., and they can provide piercings for children and adults.

347-835-4289, heyrowan.com

The Narrows Self Storage, located at 13511 Old Highway 280 next to The Narrows, is now open. The storage facility offers temperature-controlled units in a wide range of sizes. The office is open Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m. and offers 24-hour electronic gate access for renting customers. 205-578-0518, thenarrowsselfstorage.com


The Chick-fil-A Inverness location at 4620 U.S. 280 S. is opening a second location in Inverness Corners, at 5331 Valleydale Road. The new location will be called Chick-fil-A Valleydale. It will be dine in and carry out only, no drive through service will be available. 205-995-9925, chick-fil-a.com


The Fancy Fur pet grooming boutique plans to move from its current location at 5291 Valleydale Road, Suite 139, to 1340 Inverness Corners in May. The business is expanding to include a variety of specialty pet foods, wellness items, boutique items and a new self dog-washing station. 205-408-1693, fancyfurpets.com

Inverness Eye Care recently moved into a new facility at 258 Inverness Center Drive. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-991-0020, invernesseyecare.com

Iron Tribe Fitness recently opened at its newest location at 258 Inverness Center Drive. The new facility is next to Master Scarsella’s Tae Kwan Do, and it will

feature 2,500 square feet of workout space, a main lobby, three bathrooms with showers and two offices. The fitness center offers both group classes and individual personal training. 205-226-8669, irontribefitness.com


Greystone Marketplace, 5475 U.S. 280, is proud to announce a newly expanded children’s department. Customers can expect to find toys, children’s decor, books and more. Stop by Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. 205-995-4773, greystonemarketplace280.com


Redland Rifle Company is celebrating its first year in business at 4755 U.S. 280. Owner James “J.D.” Deer is an Iraq War veteran. The store carries ammo, firearms, optics, gear and accessories. Business hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-941-7772, redlandrifle.com

Business News to Share?

Do you have news to share with the community about a business in Chelsea or the greater Birmingham area?

Let us know at starnesmedia.com/ business-happenings

A10 • May 2024 280 Living Business 205-995-4773 5475 Hwy 280 • Birmingham In-store financing available A Hidden GEM Located in the Heart of Greystone Marketplace. Tuesday - Friday: 10:00am - 4:30pm Saturday: 10:00am - 4:00pm 205.573.6017 5475 Hwy 280 • Birmingham greystonediamonds.com Let Us Create Your Dream Piece from Your Old Gold & Diamonds. Jeweler on Site Stunning pieces at affordable prices 100% Financing Available *With approved credit Create your dream bedroom retreat with our curated collection of bedding designs. Come Shop With Us Today! Discover more at Greystone Marketplace! Mother’s Day Graduation Any Special Occasion Follow us: Discover More at Greystone Marketplace! Introducing Our Newly Expanded Greystone Children’s Department! Explore a world of wonder for your little ones. From charming décor to delightful toys, we have everything to spark their imagination. Come Shop with Us Today! Visit Greystone Marketplace and find the perfect gift for the special child in your life. Unleash joy and make memories that last a lifetime 5475 HWY 280, BIRMINGHAM• Follow us : Greystonemarketplace280 Greystonemarketplace280 Monday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm Sunday: 1pm - 5pm Business Happenings NOW OPEN
Chix and
Cookie Fix are now open
their new

The skilled, friendly hair professionals at VIP Barber Lounge — on U.S. 280 in Inverness — live up to the shop’s name each day.

“Our barbers take great pride in treating all of our clients as very important people,” said

Kim Anh Ngo Huynh, the shop’s owner.

VIP Barber Lounge treats all its clients as very important people

The staff at VIP Barber Lounge offers customers a friendly, comfortable atmosphere and provides consistent, quality cuts customized to each client. They must be doing something right, because VIP Barber Lounge celebrated its first anniversary on April 22.

“We’re grateful to all of our clients and our current and former barbers,” Kim said. “They’ve helped us grow our business and become successful.”

VIP Barber Lounge offers a wide variety of services, including haircuts with shampoos included, beard trims and bald fades, paraffin dip, mini-facials, neck and shoulder massages, and nose, ear and brow waxing.

Many of the services they offer are hard to find in Birmingham.

“We’re an old-fashioned barber shop with services you don’t get everywhere,” Kim said.

For example, VIP Barber Lounge “offers a real, old-fashioned shave” with hot steam towels, facial massage and aftershave balm, she said.

The shop goes to every length to make the guest experience a stellar one. Not to mention, it is a very kid’s friendly barber shop. The shop even offers complimentary

snacks, beer and cold drinks.

Clients are responding to the shop with great online feedback.

“The VIP Barber Lounge has a great atmosphere, very upscale without being snobbish,” Bill B. said. “The staff is always friendly and welcoming.”

“Clean, classy, and the service is impeccable,” Dennis M. said.

“I’ve never had to wait,” Michael S. said.

“The appointments are always on time.”

Three of the shop’s barbers — Rachel Trammell, Ferrari Ruiz and Amy Parsons — formerly worked at The Barber Bar.

Rachel specializes in men’s cuts, fade and shaves, and especially enjoys doing beards and transformation cuts. Ferrari specializes in skin fades, beards, gentleman’s cuts and Euro hawks. Amy specializes in scissor cuts and curly hair and also enjoys transformation cuts or specialty cuts.

Three of the barbers at VIP Barber Lounge — Kara Walls, Paige Whitfield and Jessica Mims — came to VIP from The Male Room.

Kara offers a variety of haircuts, from classic styles to modern trends. Paige loves all haircuts, from a military high and tight, to low fades and high, to regular scissor cuts. Jessica, with a focus on detail and a gentle touch, offers a satisfying, relaxing haircut experience.

Customers should choose VIP Barber Lounge because the barbers always give clients cuts that really work for them and make them feel confident.

“The girls take care of their clients,” Kim said. “We do not rush through our services. We consult with them about how they want their hair.”

In short, providing a relaxing, enjoyable customer experience is everything.

“They have to feel it’s the right place for them,” Kim said. “I want them to be happy when they come in and happy when they go because their satisfaction is our goal.”

VIP Barber Lounge is located at 4647 U.S. 280, Suite M. For more information, including hours and appointments, call 205-460-1105 or go online to vagaro.com/us04/vipbarberlounge or scan the QR code.

280Living.com May 2024 • A11
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of the South opens in Chelsea

Beth Holsonback had never considered having her own store, until a moment during the recent holiday season.

She and her husband, Ryan, rode by a plain, empty building on a stretch of road in Chelsea — one they had passed by many times for several years. Only this time, they noticed something different.

“We saw people painting it a pretty off-white color, fixing it up,” Beth Holsonback said. “And my husband and I said that would be a neat place to have a business.”

Holsonback had worked as an event planner for many years, first as a special events coordinator at McRae’s in Riverchase Galleria and later as a fashion show coordinator at Belk at the Alabaster Promenade.

Most recently, she worked as a wedding consultant for Mr. Burch and Windwood Weddings. All through her career, Holsonback said, friends noticed her knack for creating good visuals and aesthetics.

“People I knew would say, ‘Can you come to my house and look around and give me some ideas?’” she said. “My husband and I started doing the Mt Laurel festivals, and people would ask if we had a store.”

That’s when she decided to open her first Style of the South booth at the Mercantile in Brook Highland Plaza, where she sold Southern home decor, clothing, crafts, jewelry and more. She later opened another booth as the business continued to grow.

“When we looked at the space in this building, we felt like it had a lot of character,” Holsonback said. “We knew it had a lot of possibilities.”

“I have grandmothers come in and say, ‘My granddaughter will love this,’” she said.

“I look for things that you won’t find everywhere,” she said. “And that’s what people will say. They will come in and say, ‘I haven’t seen this before.’”

One such item is the “Garden in a Bag.”

“It’s a great way to say happy birthday or thank you,” Holsonback said. “It has little seeds in it, and you can grow a garden right inside the bag.” Holsonback said the store’s Taylor Swift mugs have also been a big hit.

On Feb. 22, the second location of Style of the South held its grand opening in Chelsea. At 800 square feet, Holsonback calls the store a “continuation” of the first location’s clothing and home decor items such as soaps, pillows, kitchen accessories and lake signs, as well as tea towels and candles, two of the top-selling items.

Holsonback said her biggest cheerleaders are Ryan, her son Dillon and his wife Taylor, and her daughter Brooke and her husband Clay. She said her customers and Shelby County residents have been very supportive.

“Working with the customers, helping them find that perfect gift, that’s what makes it special,” she said.

In the near term, Holsonback is planning for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. But she’s also looking even further into the future.

“I know it’s still a while away, but I’m already thinking about Christmas,” she said. “I’m going to try to get Santa Claus here, and I’m already looking at trees.”

The new Style of the South is located at 16161 U.S. 280, Suite 1, next to Luckie’s Pinestraw, and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Both booths at the Mercantile, at 5287 U.S. 280, are also still open.

For more information, visit facebook.com/ styleofthesouth and @styleofthesouthhome on Instagram.

A12 • May 2024 280 Living
Style of the South offers a variety of gift and home decor products. Photos by Leah Ingram Eagle. GRAND OPENING OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK 205-761-1010 • bottlezoo.com/store/bz thespot 4647 Hwy 280 Suite Y, Birmingham, AL 35242 @ The LIQUOR BEER & WINE Spot 280 LOCALLY OWNED & OPERATED 280’S ONLY DRIVE-THRU LIQUOR, BEER & WINE STORE • GREAT BEER SELECTION: All your favorite lines but a large section of novelty beers and imports from all over the world. • DAILY WINE SPECIAL: 10% off when you buy any two bottle bundles. • LIQUOR: We carry your favorites and those hard-to-find tequilas, bourbons, vodka, gin and more. • DRIVE-THRU: 280’s only drive-thru! • TASTINGS: Join us every 2nd and 4th Friday evening of the month for tastings. @ The LIQUOR BEER & WINE Spot 280

“You see them every day, but until you need one yourself, you don’t really think about it.”

That’s how David Agee describes retaining walls. And he should know — retaining walls are a family business.

Agee’s father, Fred, was a homebuilder and invented a product called GeoStone, which he used to build the first patented segmental retaining wall in Alabama.

“My dad wasn’t just a guy in a lab coat. He was a boots-on-the-ground kind of guy,” David Agee said. “He knew how concrete was made and installed.”

GeoStone Retaining Walls, located in Westover, has been building retaining walls since 1998. Agee said retaining walls are crucial to the stability and architectural appeal of outdoor projects.

“We’re the same people who do the big walls you see at The Summit,” he said.

And now, the GeoStone material that Agee’s father invented will be the exclusive in-house brand for a national landscaping supply company.

GeoStone negotiated with SiteOne Landscape Supply, which has a location on Alabama 119, to exclusively use the GeoStone system. The Westover location has been redesigned as SiteOne’s only Stone Center in Alabama.

“SiteOne is the only company that can sell the GeoStone brand, although they still carry other brands,” Agee said. While the

new SiteOne Stone Center will be the sole stone-only location, GeoStone products will be available at SiteOne’s other locations too.

“Until a few months ago, our biggest competitor was SiteOne,” said Agee, who is now the commercial design and engineering lead for SiteOne. “We finally started talking to them, and we said, ‘What if we team up? What if we complement each other instead of compete?’”

Agee said the Westover location now has a more diverse inventory of natural stone, concrete products, travertine and other stone-related hardscape materials. He described it as a “one-stop shop” for retaining walls and other outdoor projects.

“This is huge for the 280 corridor. It will help with jobs because we will need more workers and delivery drivers,” he said.

“We’re right next to Chelsea, which is one of the fastest growing cities in Alabama. Now you can get something without going over the mountain.”

Agee studied engineering at both Auburn and UAB and worked in the computer industry before coming to GeoStone, which his father still currently owns, in 2000. He said he has worked under the tutelage of many engineers and has taught several continuing education classes on retaining walls.

“I decided I can be an average guy in the tech world, or I can be extremely tech in the construction world,” he said.

Agee said the company uses technology including 3-D modeling, Google Earth and drone footage to determine the best course of action when beginning a new project for a client.

“We have a 3-D modeling program called SketchUp, where if you want something like an outdoor kitchen or fireplace, you can easily see what it will look like in your backyard,” he said. “We’re highly specialized. You won’t get this going into just any landscape store.”

Agee said that although GeoStone and SiteOne are legally still two separate companies, they are now on the same team and planning expansion into other states together.

“Our sign outside says GeoStone and underneath it says SiteOne,” he said. “It’s a really cool story of a local small business moving on to a national stage.” The SiteOne Stone Center is located at 11321 U.S. 280 in Westover, and SiteOne Landscape Supply is located at 7347 Alabama 119. For more information, call 205-678-9969 or visit geostone.com and siteone.com.

280Living.com May 2024 • A13
Complementing, not competing Local hardscape
company gains national partner
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Above: An aerial view of GeoStone and SiteOne Stone Center on U.S. 280 in Chelsea on March 27. SiteOne recently acquired GeoStone to merge the two companies Photo courtesy of David Agee. Inset: GeoStone and SiteOne Stone Center ’s sign Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Creating room for joy through organization

Kim McBrayer founded Space Cadets in 2001 to help her customers get organized and find elegant, cost-effective storage solutions for their homes.

McBrayer says that she was “a recovering messy person” at the time, one who had finally discovered the life-changing value of organization.

“I was my own first client,” she said. “I refined the organizing processes with everyday application in my own life.”

“My passion for curing clutter led me to share that with others who need help,” she said.

When she started Space Cadets, she took advantage of the new skill set she had developed, as well as some deeper insights she gained during her journey.

“Being organized facilitates the process for you to enjoy yourself and have a better quality of life,” McBrayer said.

“Organization is not about just alphabetizing and sorting things,” she said. “It’s really about accomplishing a better satisfaction with your life.”

After nearly a quarter century, McBrayer continues her mission to decrease clutter and stress in peoples’ lives.

“We get to change peoples’ lives by making a difference in how we process the things in their homes and find simplicity in the systems we use,” she said.

Space Cadets has many ways to serve customers in their effort to clean up their spaces, get organized and move forward with focus and clarity.

The company has professional organizers who can organize or declutter your house.

It provides custom closet design and installation, ranging from built-in closets to adjustable systems.

Customers can browse the Space Cadets retail and design center in Brook Highland Plaza for a huge selection of organization products for closets, kitchens and garages.

Among the quality brands Space Cadets carries are IDesign, Spectrum, YouCopia and OXO.

And McBrayer is always on the lookout for even more cool, new products to add to her inventory at the shop.

McBrayer and Marissa Wilkins, Space Cadets general manager, stay abreast of the latest innovations by attending such events as the Inspired Home Show in Chicago and the Closet Summit in Savannah, Georgia.

In fact, Space Cadet recently announced some new products and services for 2024.

The store has a new closet vendor based in the Southeast, which will allow Space Cadets to get product shipped more quickly for customers.

Not only that, but the new vendor offers a superior product.

“We think they have a lot more options, more colors and more opportunities for customization,” McBrayer says.

McBrayer recently purchased a franchise with Art of Drawers, which makes top-quality products to increase storage, organization and accessibility in kitchens, pantries and bathrooms.

Their products for the kitchen and pantry include custom-made, solid wood pull-out drawers, as well as dividers, Lazy Susans and pull-down organizers.

All of the products from Art of Drawers are made with high-quality materials from American producers.

McBrayer operates her Art of Drawers franchise separately as a sister company that complements the other Space Cadet products.

“It fits in perfectly and expands our offerings to help organize your home,” she said.

Space Cadets is now serving Huntsville and Gulf Shores, as well. McBrayer has Space Cadets employees based in those communities, and they’re eager to help customers in need of organization.

As always, McBrayer continues to find satisfaction in running Space Cadets.

“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” she said. “I count it one of my greatest joys that I get to work in this business that I am deeply

passionate about.”

She also recognizes the value that organization can play in your life, especially during difficult times.

McBrayer walked through a medical journey with her son and husband and lost them both to cancer and a traumatic brain injury.

“I needed order and peace in my home — it helped me maintain the roles and responsibilities I had to take care of,” she said. “Between hospital stays, running a business and raising my daughter, time was constrained, but having organized spaces helped me navigate that time immensely.”

McBrayer also takes great pride at Space Cadets in helping to create new opportunities for women.

For example, in their work designing and installing custom closets, Space Cadets is heavily involved in construction — a field where women have not been well represented.

“I love carving new paths for women and finding new places for us to belong,” McBrayer said.

She grew up loving power tools and playing in her father’s workshop.

“The fact I get to do this every day in a male-dominated industry speaks to the reality of what we can do now and the ceilings that have been broken for women,” McBrayer said.

The women on the Space Cadets team “bring a unique viewpoint” to the design process, she said.

“When they assess rooms such as the kitchen or laundry room, they bring a valuable perspective of how women take care of a home and they personally understand how women use their spaces and storage, which works to everyone’s advantage,” McBrayer said.

As the CEO of Space Cadets, McBrayer also makes it her priority to empower the women who work for her.

When she first hires someone, she looks at their potential strengths and matches them to a position that will best utilize and enhance those gifts.

The dynamic team of men and women at Space Cadets embodies compassionate care and a thorough work ethic in every encounter with clients, and the women at Space Cadets are irreplaceable assets to the team.

A14 • May 2024 280 Living
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Women in Business ► WHERE: 5287 U.S. 280 S., Suite 261 ► CALL: 205-326-7025 ► WEBSITE: spacecadetsorg.com

Not feeling well today?

Ascension St. Vincent’s Urgent Care has relocated to Vestavia Hills

When you or your family need care now but it’s not an emergency, doctors and care teams at Ascension St. Vincent’s Urgent Care are ready to deliver care for everyday health concerns, including minor illness and injury that need immediate attention. Every visit starts with a conversation about how you are feeling. And we’ll connect the dots to any follow-up care, including lab, imaging, specialty care and Ascension Rx or your preferred pharmacy. We’re here for you seven days a week, with extended hours and walk-in availability.


Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m.–6 p.m. NEW LOCATION 3140 Cahaba Heights Road Vestavia Hills, AL 35243

Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.

280Living.com May 2024 • A15
to schedule, check in online or walk in anytime
© Ascension 2024. All rights reserved.

St. Vincent’s One Nineteen to host fitness classes for new moms

There are many health classes available for a variety of groups at Ascension St. Vincent’s One Nineteen, but Hannah Bagwell and Sara McDaniel saw an untargeted population and decided to create something just for them.

Both mothers themselves, the women decided to start up a Mom Fit class at One Nineteen for mothers who just had babies or who have kids that are now toddlers and want to work on their post-baby figure.

McDaniel said that after she had her third child, she and Bagwell saw an opportunity to help other mothers who wanted to get back in shape but may not know how with their new bodies.

“We also have the unique situation of being in a gym with childcare available,” McDaniel said. “We know that having time away from the children can be a barrier when it comes to exercising. We are excited to be able to offer our knowledge and experience to mothers as well as an opportunity for them to get the support they need from each other.”

Bagwell is a personal trainer and will be the lead trainer for the class. McDaniel is the program coordinator and works with the staff at One Nineteen to decide on their class schedule and what groups they need to serve.

Shea Allen, the marketing coordinator for Ascension St. Vincent’s, said they’ve been trying to spread the word about the new Mom Fit class through flyers and social media. For example, they’d like to reach mothers who bring their children to One Nineteen for swim lessons or attend the lactation support group or Baby Cafe.

“How can we reach those people and get them plugged into something?” Bagwell said.

The Mom Fit class will be a small group setting, and Bagwell said she plans on working on full-body strength, including upper and lower body, core and even pelvic floor, which she has special training with. The class will sometimes use the fitness floor and other times will use an exercise room that provides more privacy.

“A lot of moms need emotional support, and it’s great to have other people who are going through the same thing and struggling with the same things,” Bagwell said.”To have a support system with that, but also have me or Sara there, carrying them through the physical portion of it.”

McDaniel added that this program was created to give moms a chance to be in a group setting and offer each other support while getting stronger, whether they are new moms or someone who has older children.

“They are learning how to get in shape with

their new bodies from someone who has done it multiple times,” McDaniel said. “We also have the benefit of being in a gym setting and having access to gym equipment so we are not limited to just body weight exercises like some other exercise programs.”

When she previously interned at St. Vincent’s downtown location, Bagwell saw first-hand the impact the pregnancy program had on moms working out together.

While One Nineteen has had mom groups previously, Bagwell said COVID-19 put a pause on everything. She’s ready to get something started again and reach a different group of people that might need the class.

“It’s a great service that could be offered to the community,” she said. “There are a lot of boot camps and gyms nearby, but there isn’t a place that’s a safe zone for moms. We’ll take

you where you are and be realistic and get these women feeling good and strong, so they can take care of themselves and their families and live happy, pain-free lives.”

Once people have signed up, Bagwell said the class will likely begin in June. She plans to keep the class size small and include individualized fitness components. She said she will have a phone call or meeting with each participant prior to the first class in order to go over their medical situation and what their goals are.

“This isn’t something people need to be intimidated by. We’re just here to help support them getting back in shape after having a baby,” she said.

For anyone interested in becoming part of the class, contact Sara McDaniel at 205-408-6525 or sara.mcdaniel@ascension.org.

A16 • May 2024 280 Living Have a community announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at leagle@starnesmedia.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue. Community CURRENT LOCATION: 5291 Valleydale Rd • 205-408-1693 Walk In Services Nail Trimming, Face Trimming, Ear Cleaning & Anal Gland Expressing Available Monday-Friday Be sure to follow us on social media to stay up to date We’re expanding to include a variety of specialty pet foods, wellness, boutique items and a new DIY Dog Washing Station! NEW LOCATION OPENS JUNE 1! 1340 Inverness Corners MOVING SALE ON MOST ITEMS Don’t forget to stock up on spring items for your pets and pet lovers. Save 40-70% on most items! When people with extraordinary talent and passion are given the technology, the facilities, and the support, they achieve great things. The discoveries taking place today will help shape the future of treatments and lead to cures – benefitting not only our patients and families, but people across the country and around the world for years to come. happens Amazing 1600 7TH AVENUE SOUTH | BIRMINGHAM, AL 35233 Brand_AMAZING_Ad-VillageLiving-Newsprint_Starnes_4.79x7.59-PROD.indd 1 3/5/24 2:47 PM
Above: Hannah Bagwell and Sara McDaniel are personal trainers who will lead the new Mom Fit Program at Ascension St. Vincent’s 119, working with postpartum mothers on core strength and conditioning exercises following pregnancy. Left: Bagwell works with McDaniel on a pelvic floor exercise. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Superintendent Lewis Brooks shared during the March 21 Shelby County Board of Education meeting that earlier in the month, he and members of the Shelby County Schools leadership team completed VOICE advisory meetings in all seven school zones.

VOICE is an acronym for Vision, Openness, Insight, Communication and Engagement. The meetings are held to engage teachers, parents, and students in open dialogue about what makes Shelby County Schools a model of excellence and areas where the district needs to make improvements.

Brooks said he was very pleased with how this year’s meetings went. A new approach was implemented this year, which Brooks described as well received and productive. Instead of the meetings being held at the central office and the Shelby County Instructional Services Center, the leadership team went out into the communities and schools.

“We met with parent groups and talked about things that are going on in their various communities and schools,” Brooks said. “My assessment of that is that the dialogue was really productive and insightful, and we gleaned some really good information from our parents. We will take that information as a district leadership team and process it and see how to look forward in various communities.”

Also during the meeting, April Tolbert (supervisor of guidance and testing) and Brent Tolbert (supervisor of data and accountability) gave an update on assessments for the school year.

Brent Tolbert said the process begins in late August and goes through May, and anytime he attends state training, the excellence of Shelby

County Schools is always discussed. “They come to monitor us every year, and we always have good remarks,” he said. Here’s the update they gave on assessments for this school year.

► Pre-ACT secure (October): This was the first year that the assessment was taken online, and around 1,667 students in 10th grade took the test, which gives a predicted ACT score that helps students, parents, teachers and administrators see what standards need to be improved before students take the ACT the following year.

► ACT WorkKeys (October): Almost 500 students in 12th grade took this assessment, which determines college and career ready indicators. Students have to earn a benchmark of 4 or above in all three subject areas. Tolbert said this year had the highest number of students meeting the benchmark in the past few years.

► ACCESS for ELLS (English Language Learners): In December, 1,148 students in grades K-12 took the assessment that will determine if they qualify for ESL services.

► ACAP alternate (February-March):

The assessment is for those receiving instruction based on Alabama alternate standards, which included 238 students grades 2-8 and grades 10-11 this year.

► ACT with Writing (March 12): A total of 1,567 students in 11th grade were administered the test that assesses English, math, reading, science and writing skills.

► ACAP Summative (March 18-April 25): Administered to 10,984 students in grades 2-8, this assessment includes English language arts, math and science.

“It takes a village to have a successful assessment program, and we appreciate the camaraderie we have with our instructional staff at Central Office as well as building administrators getting everything prepared,” April Tolbert said. The school board also approved the following:

► A bid for entrance upgrades to Wilsonville Elementary School for $790,523, to Duncan and Thompson Construction

► A bid for interior renovations for Shelby County High School for $425,812, to Williford Orman Construction

► A renewal bid for ceiling tile installation, to E&E Acoustical & Drywall

► A renewal bid for electrical lighting and supplies, to Mayer Electric Supply Company

► A renewal bid for portable classroom leasing, to Metro Trailer Leasing

► A contract change order for classroom additions to Calera Elementary School that saved the BOE $23,784.98

► A contract change order for window replacement for Shelby Elementary School that saved $10,500

► A contract change order for a new canopy for Chelsea Middle School that saved $10,500

280Living.com May 2024 • A17
to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.
Have a schoolhouse announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at leagle@starnesmedia.com
and Brent Tolbert share assessment updates from the 2023-24 school year. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle. VOICE meetings, assessments wrap up for school year Resort-Style Retirement Living Danberry at Inverness offers the finest retirement living in the Birmingham area. One step inside our community, and you’ll see what we mean for yourself. Each day, residents enjoy an all-inclusive, worry-free lifestyle, complete with: » Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care » Newly renovated spaces » First-class services and amenities » Life-enriching programs, events and wellness classes » Modern floor plans » Exceptional dining To learn more and schedule a personal tour, call 205-443-9500 or visit www.DanberryatInverness.com. 235 Inverness Center Drive | Birmingham, AL 35242 Independent Living | Assisted Living | Memory Care Mr. Handyman is taking care of Birmingham’s “To-Do” List ® like us onfollow us on 205-606-0800 Give us a call! Independently owned and operated franchise.© 2022 Mr. Handyman SPV LLC. All rights Reserved MrHandyman.com Visit mrhandyman.com to learn more about our services All of our technicians are full-time employees and all of our workmanship is guaranteed. Honest. Transparent. Easy to work with and e cient. We humbly aspire to earn your business. Thank you!


This year, the Chelsea High School Band was selected to perform in the National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C., on April 13. During the trip to the nation’s capital, students had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery, where they observed the changing of the guard and a wreath-laying ceremony. Afterwards, students met with Staff Sgt. Wilson Childers, a member of the U.S. Army Band, who performed “Taps” at the ceremony. The Chelsea Band’s performance in the parade can be viewed on the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s YouTube channel.


Engaging Elementary Engineers (E3) was held in March by the Shelby County Schools Gifted Department and AMSTI specialists from the Montevallo Regional Inservice Center. The event was funded by a grant from Vulcan Steel, through the Shelby County Education Foundation. E3 2024 encouraged students to exercise their superpowers in superhero-themed challenges as “Agents of S.T.E.A.M.” Approximately 550 students from 28 elementary schools took part in the event.

Chelsea Park Elementary’s team, The Working Wonders, finished first place in the Bridge of Brawn and Caped Crusade challenges.


The following schools were recognized for having the lowest chronic absenteeism rates for their school attendance zones from the start of the school year through March: Calera Intermediate, Chelsea Middle, Wilsonville Elementary, Helena Elementary, Mt Laurel Elementary and Vincent Elementary.

A18 • May 2024 280 Living
Shelby County school news
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Above: The Chelsea High School Band in Washington, D.C. Right: Mt Laurel Elementary Principal Tina Neighbors is recognized by Melissa Youngblood, assistant superintendent of student services, for her school’s low absentee rates. Bottom right: The Chelsea Park Elementary engineering team, the Working Wonders, with their awards from the E3 challenge. Below: Michael Jones, Student Services Coordinator with Shelby County Schools with Chelsea Middle School Principal Cynthia Cruce. Photos courtesy of Shelby County Schools.
280Living.com May 2024 • A19 Low Financing Rates! 25 Year Warranties! Best Google Reviews in the Business! Free Detailed Inspections Superior Installation to Keep Water Out 205•900•ROOF cardinal-roof.com WE FIX ROOFS NO By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE BRIARWOOD CHRISTIAN SCHOOL ► Total graduates: 136 ► Valedictorian: Emerson Maughn ► Salutatorian: Lauren Luker ► Graduation date and time: Sunday, May 19, 2 p.m. ► Location: Briarwood Presbyterian Church CHELSEA HIGH SCHOOL ► Total graduates: 318 ► Valedictorian: Elias Serrano ► Salutatorian: Noah Pontius ► Graduation date and time: Tuesday, May 21, 2 p.m. ► Location: Pete Hanna Center, Samford University ► Tickets: Each student will receive 10 tickets INDIAN SPRINGS SCHOOL ► Total graduates: 68 ► Fall Semester Mayor: Nate Street ► Spring Semester Mayor: Beth Scarborough ► Graduation date and time: Monday, May 20, 9:30 a.m. ► Location: Indian Springs School OAK MOUNTAIN HIGH SCHOOL ► Total graduates: 391 ► Valedictorian: John Whitmire Fletcher ► Salutatorian: Madison Rae McCullars ► Graduation date and time: Thursday, May 23, 6 p.m. ► Location: Pete Hanna Center, Samford University WESTMINSTER SCHOOL AT OAK MOUNTAIN ► Total graduates: 38 ► Valedictorian/Salutatorian: not announced at time of publishing ► Graduation date and time: Saturday, May 11, 2 p.m. ► Location: Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church Turning tassels: Celebrating 2024 high school graduates If you are in a brick-and-mortar business along the 280 corridor and you are... Business news to share? Now open Coming soon Relocating or renovating Announcing a new owner Celebrating an anniversary Hiring or promoting an employee Announcing other news or accomplishments Let us know! Share your news with us at starnesmedia.com/ business-happenings
Seniors from the Class of 2023 Indian Springs School at their graduation. Photo courtesy of Indian Springs School.

Granting wishes

Education foundation gives out over $38,000 in teacher grants

The Shelby County Schools Education Foundation recently awarded 31 grants requested by teachers at schools throughout the district.

The Inspire the Journey grants are given out each spring and are available for teachers in Shelby County Schools. They are specifically geared to promoting quality teaching and enhanced learning.

“Innovative classrooms keep students engaged and keep teachers inspired professionally, which in turn inspires and engages student learning,” said Bethany Ivey, the executive director of the foundation. “The grants help to enhance excellence in education through grant programs available to teachers, departments and students.”

A total of 72 grant applications were received, totaling over $81,000 in requests. 31 of those requests were fulfilled, totaling $38,585. The more money the foundation raises, the more grants they are able to fulfill.

Here are the teachers in schools in the 280 Living coverage area that received grants.

► Chelsea High School: Clarissa Clark — Field Trip Frenzy for her Career and Technical Education students ($1,000)

► Oak Mountain High: Jon Milton — Drone Photography and Film ($1,000)

► Chelsea Middle School: Rebecca Rayl — Lego Creative Space ($400)

► Oak Mountain Middle: Hailey Carter — Students as Creators not Consumers ($1,000)

► Oak Mountain Middle: Kelly Stewart — Empowering Inclusive Learning Environments


► Oak Mountain Intermediate: Krista Bender — Storytelling with Stop Motion Animation ($1,000)

► Chelsea Park Elementary: Julie Middleton — Creation Crate Classroom for STEAM ($849.28)

► Chelsea Park Elementary: Lydia Riggins (and other fourth grade teachers) — Mystery Science ($1,495)

► Chelsea Park Elementary: Paula Tolbert

— Innovate to Elevate drones ($1,000)

► Inverness Elementary: Susan Lee — Supporting Children of Trauma ($966)

► Inverness Elementary: Lauren Ash — Math on the Move ($908)

► Oak Mountain Elementary: Jill Vaughan — Moving up with Math Games ($583)

Krista Bender, a fifth grade teacher at Oak Mountain Intermediate School, said that she was thrilled to receive the grant and her students were excited to be a part of the journey and experience support from outside the classroom.

Her grant will purchase equipment to more efficiently integrate stop-motion animation into her reading and writing curriculum, such as iPads, tablet stands, the Stop Motion app and other items.

“My students have used their Chromebooks to experience stop-motion animation; however, it limits their creativity and products,” Bender said. “Seeing how engaged they were made me want to provide an opportunity for them to explore and innovate with more reliable equipment. I hope that this project will increase student engagement, while simultaneously achieving fifth grade standards. I want students to write their own narratives, but in a script format that can be transferred into a stop-motion animation film. To celebrate my students’ filmmaking, I picture red carpets and popcorn to share their stories in a way that excites them. Maybe it could even inspire a student to think about a career in the movie business.”

Chelsea Park Elementary fourth grade teacher Lydia Riggins was awarded a grant for

Mystery Science, an online video program that features engaging science lessons for students in grades K-5.

“Receiving the SCSEF grant will have a huge impact on science instruction at our school,” Riggins said. “The lessons encourage

students to stay curious about the world around them and provide hands-on experiences to teach students about science concepts. This resource will also be a blessing to teachers in a culture where teachers are constantly coming up with ways to keep students engaged.”

Student art featured in Shelby County gallery

For more than a decade, high school students across Alabama have harnessed their talents to create pieces for the annual Statewide High School Juried Art Exhibit, hosted by the Shelby County Arts Council.

The exhibit, which is held at Shelby County Arts Council’s EBSCO Fine Art Gallery, features painting, drawing, photography, mixed media, digital art and sculpture. The event is sponsored by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Art and Art History and the University of Montevallo’s Department of Art.

Students begin entering their work in January, and judges select which pieces will be displayed in the gallery. Students from public and private schools as well as homeschool students are invited to enter.

The event lasts about six weeks and ends in a closing reception and awards ceremony, which this year was set for April 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. Judges select the best artwork in each category, as well as an honorable mention in each, and an overall best in show.

This year’s exhibit included these students from the 280 area:


► Brooklyn Barnett

► Madison Bell

► Emory Brown

► Cole Carter

► Clara Crawford

► Riley Dempsey

► Rose Denard

► Sarah Duncan

► Gabe Dirks

► Kase Gibson

► Matthew Hester

► Anna Holdefer

► Addie Johnson

► Meredith Kellum

► Taylor Leib

► Mary Rose Lovoy

► Chloe Lowery

► Anne Louise Miller

► Sasha Munikar

► Gracie Murphy

► Jordan Roberts

► Gigi Rubino

► Charles Thompson

► Tabitha Troxler

► Shelby Watkins

► Cole Weaver

► Analiese Westbrook

► Harper Winter

► Adleigh Metcalf


A20 • May 2024 280 Living
more information, visit shelbycounty artscouncil.com.
Shelby County Schools Education Foundation Executive Director Bethany Ivey, left, presents an Inspire the Journey grant check to Chelsea Park Elementary fourth grade teachers (from left) Kim Smith, Lydia Riggins and Amy Floyd. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle. Visitors walk around to view the art at the 2023 Statewide High School Juried Art Exhibit held at the Shelby County Arts Center. Photos courtesy of Shelby County Arts Council.

Chelsea Middle School band receives over $26K in grant funding

Erin Lyon is wrapping up her first year as band director at Chelsea Middle School, and she’s already secured more than $26,000 in grants for the program.

The most recent award was $20,000 from the Alabama State Department of Education, as part of the Alabama Arts Education Initiative. Grants are given to public schools and community organizations in order to strengthen the development and implementation of a comprehensive arts education program, according to the program’s website.

Lyon said the grant will allow the band to purchase school-owned instruments and formal concert attire.

“This will be the first time the Chelsea Middle School band will have formal wear, which includes tuxedos for boys and black dresses for girls,” Lyon said. “We will also be able to purchase several school-owned instruments for the band program and let students use them throughout the year. We will be purchasing a tuba, euphonium, bass clarinet and French horn. These instruments will be used for decades by kids coming through the band program.”

The grant will also fund recruiting materials and $4,000 for professional development, so Lyon can attend multiple national conferences for music education without using funds from the band account. She plans to attend three conferences during the next year, including the Texas Bandmasters Association Conference, which is where she gets many of her ideas.

“Writing these grants takes a lot of time and thought, and it would be awesome to have our

community know that we are all working hard for our students to have wonderful opportunities,” Lyon said. “I want to shout it from the rooftops — it’s a big deal.”

The other two grants were received from the City of Chelsea (a $5,000 grant for instrument repair) and a $1,000 grant from Chick-Fil-A Birmingham and the ABC/3340 television station to grow the school’s sheet music library.

Lyon said that Trace Johnson, the assistant band director at Chelsea High School, also received a $20,000 ALSDE grant, which will be used for the purchase of new instrument storage lockers and also includes the $4,000 for professional development. She said it was great that two Chelsea schools were recipients of this grant.

“We are the only two schools in Shelby County that received this grant. It just so happened to be a feeder system,” she said.

Lyon said she is grateful for the state’s support through the Arts Education Initiative.

“Arts education really is important and you have to have money to make a program run, and the state knows it,” she said.

Lyon took over for former director Deana Rizzo, who retired at the end of last school year. Prior to Chelsea, Lyon was the assistant band director at Simmons Middle School in Hoover. This is her 17th year of teaching and third time receiving the ALSDE grant.

The Chelsea Middle band has 176 students involved this year, and next year Lyon expects the number to be around 210 to 215. She said she is grateful for the support of the parents, administrators and teachers and plans to plant her roots at the school.

“This is where I’ll be until I retire,” she said.

“The kids are so good here. It’s cool to watch these beginners who don’t know anything about music, except what they were taught in elementary, and see them push through and succeed.”

280Living.com May 2024 • A21
The Chelsea Middle School band will have their spring concert on May 2 at Chelsea High School and will be wearing their new formal attire for the first time.
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Chelsea Middle School band director Erin Lyon received a grant check from Chick-Fil-A and television station ABC 33/40 earlier in school year. Photo courtesy of Erin Lyon.

Events 280 corridor events guide

Wednesdays: Asbury United Methodist Church Food Pantry Curbside Pickup. 2-3:30 p.m. Asbury United Methodist Church, 6690 Cahaba Valley Road. Pickup is now also offered on the first Saturday of each month from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The food pantry has served the community for over 12 years, and they are now offering curbside pickup for families in need. The pantry is operated through monetary donations by the Missions in Action program and food donations from AUMC members and other local food drives. For more information, contact Amy Gonzalez at 205-271-9909 or email amy. gonzalez@asburybham.org.

May 4: Chelsea Community Christian Outreach Food Pantry. 10 a.m. to noon. Chelsea Church Of Christ, 10724 Chelsea Road. Held the first Saturday of every month for those in need of food items. Food will be distributed while supplies last. For more information, visit “Chelsea Community Christian Outreach” on Facebook.

May 6: 17th Annual TEE UP for Down Syndrome. 11 a.m. start time. Inverness Country Club, 1 Country Club Dr. An event for a great cause featuring a round of golf, lunch and post-game meal, beverages, transfusion bar sponsored by Redmont Vodka, silent auction and raffle prizes. Registration is $300 for individuals or $1,000 for a four-person team. downsyndromealabama.org/tee-up-for-downsyndrome.

May 9: Taco ‘bout Cookies — A Fiesta Cookie Class. 6:30-9 p.m. Cat-N-Bird Winery, 11661 Old Highway 280, Chelsea. Join us for a fun, upbeat night full of cookie decorating tips and techniques, provided by Whisk Confections. Cookie designs will be fiesta inspired! Each ticket includes six cookies, icing, tools needed to decorate, a take-home box and a beverage from the venue. No experience needed. Taco Mama will be available, along with sangrias, margaritas and wine. Tickets can be purchased for $65 at justawhiskaway.com/ in-person-cookie-class.

May 10: A Special Music Theater Performance with Alie B. Gorrie and Friends. 7:30-9 p.m. Song Theater, Columbiana. Enjoy a night of musical theater with Alabama native Alie

B. Gorrie. She will be performing her original Cabaret show, “Cockeyed Optimist.” Local musical theater students will open the show with songs from their recent performance of “Frozen Jr.” There will also be a presentation honoring the Shelby County Arts Council with the “Stand for the Arts Award,'' presented by Ovation TV and Charter Communications. Tickets are $20 (plus tax) and can be purchased online at shelbycountyartscouncil.com/events/performance-with-alie-b-gorrieand-friends.

May 11: Mother's Day Brunch with Simone's Kitchen. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cat-N-Bird Winery, 11661 Old Highway 280, Chelsea. Celebrate the special mothers in your life with a brunch by Simone’s Kitchen and music with Jeff Florreich. Reservations required. cat-n-bird.com.

May 25: Memorial Day Trail Race. 8 a.m. Redbud Pavilion, Oak Mountain State Park. This trail race will challenge runners with 6- or 12-mile options, with an added climb to the top of Double Oak Mountain. $5 per person to enter the park. For more information and a sign-up link, visit southeasterntrailruns.com/memorial-day-trail-race.

May 25: Valleydale Farmers Market Opening Day. 8 a.m. to noon. 4601 Valleydale Road. Shop vendors selling local produce, honey, flowers, baked goods, arts, crafts, meats and berries. Open on Saturdays until Labor Day.

North Shelby Library

Register for programs at northshelbylibrary.org.


All Month: Monthly Craft Kit-to-Go. Available starting May 1, while supplies last.

All Month: Monthly STEM Kit-to-Go. Available starting May 1, while supplies last.

All Month: Monthly In-House Scavenger Hunt — Pokemon!

May 3: Spanish Club. 4:30 p.m. For school-age kids and teens.

May 4: Star Wars Day Craft. Anytime from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Come make Yoda ears or a Princess Leia bun headband.

May 7 and 14: Tech Tuesdays. 3:15-4:15 p.m. Drop in for weekly tech-based activity.

May 14: Jan the Science Lady — It Isn’t Magic … It’s Science! 10:30 a.m. All ages.

A22 • May 2024 280 Living

May 15: Homeschool Hangout — Hungry Hippos. 1 p.m. Join a life-size, full-action version of the game!

May 15: K-5 Homeschool Art & Craft Kit — Marble Maze Plate. 1 p.m. Grades K-5 with adult assistance if needed.

May 20-June 2: Children’s Summer Reading Early Registration. Early registrants receive an extra prize in their goodie bags! Online book logging will begin as soon as you register and will end July 12. Check out the summer reading link at northshelbylibrary. org for more information.


May 2: Tween Leadership Council Meeting. 4:30 p.m.

May 4: Tween Star Wars Party. 5 p.m.

May 10: Tween Open Gaming. 3-5:45 p.m.

May 13: Tween Book Club. 4:30 p.m.

May 20: Tween Dungeons & Dragons. 4:30 p.m.


Mondays: Teen Dungeons & Dragons. 6-7:45 p.m.

May 2: Teen Cozy Craft Night — Watercolor Painting. 4-5:30 p.m.

May 9: Teen Manga Club. 4:30-5:30 p.m.

May 16: Teen Leadership Council Meeting. 4-5 p.m.

May 24: Teen Cozy Crafts. 4-5:30 p.m.

May 30: Teen Book Club. 4:30-5:30 p.m.


May 14: Nature Journaling. 10:30 a.m. Paper and pencils will be supplied, but attendees are encouraged to bring a sketchbook or notebook, pencil and/or pen, and colored pencils or watercolors. This program will be led by Amy Sides.

May 14 and 28: Language Club. 5 p.m.

May 16: NSL Book Club. 10:30 a.m.

May 21: Patriotic Wreath. 10 a.m. Join us as we make a patriotic themed wreath. No experience necessary. All supplies provided.

May 21: True Crime Book Club. 6 p.m.

Mt Laurel Library


May 3: Ukulele Storytime. 10 a.m.

May 10: Dynamic Education — Rocket Science. 4 p.m. Dynamic Education Adventures will join us for Rocket Science.

May 11: Crafty Saturday. Stop by the library to make a craft or take it to go. While supplies last.

May 31: Summer Reading Kick-Off Party. 4- 6 p.m. Join us for cupcakes, slushies, crafts and more. You can also register for summer reading. This is a drop-in event, no registration required.


May 3: Tween Air Dry Clay. 4 p.m. We will make a clay project and share a snack. Registration required.


May 2: Mt Laurel Book Club. 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. “The Patron Saint of Liars” by Ann Patchett.

May 9: DIY Spice Blend. 4-6 p.m. Stop by to make a spice blend in a cute jar. Registration required.

May 13: Mt Laurel Knitting Group. 2-4 p.m. Bring your knitting, crocheting or embroidery project and craft at the library.

May 15: Lunch and Learn — Antonia Gavrihel. Noon. Join local author Antonia Gavrihel to hear about her new books. Lunch will be provided. Registration required.

Chelsea Public Library


May 11: Friends of Chelsea Library Book Sale. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

May 11: Lego Day. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

May 17: Homeschool Hangout. 1 p.m.

May 25: K.Z.T. Steam Day. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Wednesdays: Tot Time. 10:30 a.m.

Thursdays: Musical Munchkins. 10:30 a.m.


Mondays: Dungeons and Dragons. 4-6 p.m. Ages 12-14.

Wednesdays: Dungeons and Dragons. 5-7 p.m. Ages 15 and up.

Fridays: Theater Club. 2 p.m.

May 13: Teen Dinner and a Book Club. 5 p.m.


Fridays: Bring Your Own Craft. 1 p.m.

May 9: Adult Book Club. 11:30 a.m.

280Living.com May 2024 • A23


CONTINUED from page A1

Emily McIlvaine, XTERRA America’s event coordinator, said the decision to place the first XTERRA North American Championship at OMSP was an easy one based on the park’s popularity throughout the off-road triathlon community and what she described as a world-class atmosphere at the event.

“We have hosted a triathlon at Oak Mountain for many years, but the debut of the North American Championship being in Pelham, Alabama, shows how special this venue is to us,” McIlvaine said.

“The No. 1 thing we have in Shelby County is community support. This is a fantastic community that wants XTERRA to be there and is very helpful,” she added. “We have a whole organization committee that helps us out, and we have a lot of enthusiasm in Alabama and Shelby County, and so that makes it an easy decision.”

Kendall Williams, the Shelby County manager for tourism and events, said the XTERRA triathlon is a signature event not only for Oak Mountain State Park, but for the entire region as hundreds of athletes, their families and fans spend time and money in the area.

“It’s obviously a very unique opportunity for us,” Williams said. “Being able to showcase not just the park but the city of Pelham, our great restaurants and other activities to do while they’re in town is just a real special opportunity to reach a great number of people for a very fun weekend.”

Additionally, Williams said the county is thrilled to host XTERRA’s first North America Championship. She said that the goal for the county is to promote Oak Mountain as one of the premiere biking and hiking destinations across the globe.

“These athletes travel all over the world competing in multiple countries, but year after year they talk about Oak Mountain and our trails and how they are the best in the world,” she said. “What we are trying to do is make it so Oak Mountain is not a hidden gem anymore, but make more people know about the world class trails at Oak Mountain State Park.”

While Oak Mountain may still be a “hidden gem” to the regular public, the word has been out for many years among some of the world’s elite off-road triathletes. Many of the athletes who will be in action this May have raced on trails all over North America, Asia and Europe, and they say that Oak Mountain is among the best.

“The trails here at Oak Mountain are world-class,” said Suzie Snyder, a Boulder, Colorado, resident and fifth-place women’s finisher in the 2023 XTERRA Triathlon. “They’re so well-built and maintained, and it’s my favorite.”

The North American Championship weekend will feature four events spread over two days. The signature event is the full-distance triathlon, in which around 50 of the world’s top athletes will compete in a 1.5-mile swim, a 33-kilometer mountain bike and, lastly, a 10-kilometer trail run throughout Oak Mountain State Park.

The event is also a qualifier for the Xterra World Championship, to be held in Trentino, Italy, in September, with 58 slots on the line, as well as $25,000 in total prize money. The triathlon is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 18.

Also this year, XTERRA is launching a youth tour for athletes ages 15-19. McIlvaine said that athletes are able to compete with adults at a younger age in the United States as compared to the rest of the world, so the youth tour is an attempt to organize younger triathletes into their own competition.

“We have athletes all over the world racing at a young age and wanted to make it a uniform program,” McIlvaine said. “This is my 16th year with XTERRA, and it’s been really fun to see some of those up-and-coming athletes get to their full potential. So, it’ll be really exciting to see what happens.”

The weekend also features the sprint triathlon, a shorter race for newcomers or athletes looking for a less-demanding triathlon. Athletes will compete in a 750-meter swim, a 16-kilometer bike and a 4.5-kilometer run. The sprint triathlon is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Also on the schedule is an invitation-only short-track triathlon on Sunday, May 19.

Launched in 2023, the short-track event features elite athletes competing in a condensed triathlon — a 400-meter swim, a 7.5-kilometer bike and a 3-kilometer run — designed with spectators in mind. “This is where a lot of the real action is going to take place. Spectators can stand in one spot, and they’re going to see a lot of action because it’s a lot of loops,” McIlvaine said. “It’s a more exciting, fast-paced race, done in 30 minutes, roughly, and it’s just a

really high-intensity, fun thing to watch. You get to see all the pros just out there putting it all on the line.”

Following the short-track invitational race, spectators and athletes will be able to enjoy food trucks, free concerts and a “battle of the bands” competition, McIlvaine said.

“The addition of a battle of the bands competition and pre- and post-race social gatherings will offer opportunities to engage the community,” she said, “and show

XTERRA North American Championship

► Where: Oak Mountain State Park

► When: May 18-19

► Cost: Full distance triathlon: $140 individual/$170 team; sprint triathlon $105 individual/ $130 team; triathlon full relay $160/team; kids bike race and sprint are both free

► Events: Full triathlon; sprint triathlon; short-track triathlon; youth tour

► Web: xterraplanet.com/event/ xterra-oak-mountain

out-of-town athletes just how much Southern hospitality Pelham and Shelby County can offer.”

Learn more or register for an event at xterraplanet.com/event/xterra-oak-mountain.

Top: Particpants pose onstage for a group photo after the 2023 race. Above: There is also a free kids bike race for ages 8 and younger Left: A partcipant of the 2023 event runs along the course of the XTERRA race at Oak Mountain State Park. Photos courtesy of Discover Shelby.
A24 • May 2024 280 Living
For more details and to register briarwoodsoccer.com | 205.776.5114 Email: soccer@briarwood.org Open To Anyone Age 10-18 Years Old Open To The Public No Cost To Tryout Teams Compete in ASA State League All Levels BRIARWOOD SOCCER CLUB EST. 1981 BRIARWOOD SOCCER “We play a great game, we serve a great God, we are ambassadors” - II Corinthians 5:20 May 13-22 | Pre-Register by May 11 U13-U19 May 13-16 U11-U12 May 20-22 Team Tryouts 2024 BOYS TRYOUTS Briarwood 119 Fields, 6196 Cahaba Valley Rd GIRLS TRYOUTS Engel Field, 5080 Cahaba Valley Trace 280Living.com May 2024 • A25


CONTINUED from page A1


The Cahaba River is the longest substantially free-flowing river in Alabama and among the most biodiverse rivers in the United States. Twenty miles of it are in the city of Hoover, the most Cahaba River frontage of any city, Hoover City Planner Mac Martin said.

“That should be our No. 1 emphasis, utilizing that wonderful asset in our community that, unfortunately to this point, we’ve kind of grown with our backs to it,” Martin said. “We should be proud of the amount of miles on the Cahaba and that wonderful resource.”

The concept is to build a highly accessible, hard-surface trail along the river that is 8 to 12 feet wide and secondary trails that link people to the river’s edge, key destinations, rest areas or other paths.

The city should treat the Cahaba River Trail like a linear park, according to the plan, and consider high-quality wayfinding and interpretive signs, scenic rest areas with trailside amenities and river access points to further develop the corridor as a tourist destination.

“The Cahaba River Trail has the power to be an iconic and transformative project for Hoover,” the plan says.

The proposal is to create five new access points to the river (kayak and canoe launches) and upgrade three existing ones to make it easy and fun to enjoy the river.

Trails along the river and new and upgraded access points or kayak launches should adhere to standards identified by the Cahaba River Society in order to make sure the trails and amenities are functional, yet protect the river and minimize degradation of water quality and habitat in the floodway, according to the plan.

The plan calls for a feasibility study for the Cahaba River Trail that would identify “quickwin” segments that can be moved into design while the city continues to secure funding for future segments.

The long-term plan also identifies five other proposed trail corridors throughout the city, which could be developed as greenways that connect with the Cahaba River Trail:

► Shades Crest and Shades Creek Trails: This trail network would give people a way to enjoy both the top and bottom of Shades Mountain. It would include a primary trail along the ridgeline near Shades Crest Road to give people access to scenic vistas, another primary trail along Shades Creek for people to enjoy the riverbed and at least one trail connecting the two. This trail network also could potentially connect with the Moss Rock Preserve trails and a proposed Bluff Park Preserve in the area of Tip Top Grill and the historic Lover’s Leap/Sunset Rock. Further south, this same trail network could potentially connect with the Black Creek Mountain Bike Park in Trace Crossings, the Hoover Met Complex and Flemming Park along the Cahaba River.

► Patton Creek Greenway: This would be a trail from Shades Crest Road near Interstate 65 to Shades Mountain Elementary School, Blue Ridge Park and down the mountain to Patton Creek and Hoover Country Club, eventually tying into the Moss Rock Preserve and the Patton Creek and Riverchase Galleria shopping centers.

► Galleria Trail Loop: This would be a 4.3-mile circuit loop around the Patton Creek and Riverchase Galleria shopping centers that connects with the Cahaba-Riverchase Greenway Trailhead next to Riverchase Elementary School, as well as Chase Lake Park and the Riverchase Sports Park.

► Sports Park Loop: This would be a 9-mile loop between Hoover Sports Park East, the Spain Park Sports Complex and Riverchase Sports Park via the Cahaba River Trail, Acton Creek and side paths along Heatherwood Drive and Southlake Parkway. This loop would tie into the existing trails at Veterans Park and could provide a location for 15K races.

► Greystone Connector: This trail would branch off the Cahaba River Trail and connect with the Hoover Archery Park, Inverness Nature Park and a playground in the Greystone community.

Currently, many of the city’s trails are in isolated areas. The idea here is to connect these trail networks and give people non-automobile routes between different parts of town, pedestrian paths to amenities and places to exercise or enjoy nature. These greenways also could connect other

trail networks, such as the Red Rock Trail System, Lakeshore Trail and Red Mountain Park in Jefferson County and Oak Mountain State Park and trail systems in Pelham and Helena in Shelby County, Martin said.

“We, in essence, are the doorway from one side of the metro area to the other,” he said.

Matt Leavell, an architect and urban planner who specializes in outdoor recreation and conducted a regional trail study for the city of Hoover, said trails and outdoor recreation

often are seen solely as something to improve quality of life, but they actually can be used as an economic development tool, similar to what Hoover is doing with sports tourism.

If marketed, maintained and managed properly, trails and outdoor recreational opportunities can be substantial tools to draw in visitors, who stimulate the economy with food, lodging, gasoline and retail purchases, Leavell said.

A 2014 study done for the 28-mile Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system, located

in Gulf State Park in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, found that the average person visiting those trails spent $144 in the area during their visit, Leavell said. That trail system, which opened its first leg in 2003, has brought in 600,000 visitors, which means a multi-million-dollar impact each year, he said.


Surveys also show that people overall are satisfied with the existing parks and recreation facilities in Hoover and would rather the city prioritize improvements to those rather than build new parks. Focused upgrades and additions could build upon successes and help the parks play to their strengths, according to the Parks, Public Spaces & Recreation Plan.

Survey respondents also indicated that they would like more connections to parks and a more diverse offering of park amenities.

Park users said they would like to see parks made more accessible to people with mobility challenges and want the city to use parks as a way to protect naturally sensitive areas, such as wetlands, and community assets, such as scenic viewpoints like the view atop Shades Mountain in Bluff Park.

The plan also calls for the city to have consistent signage among its 32 city parks to help identify them as being part of the city’s park system and to make sure each park has elements such as proper lighting, benches, trash receptacles, dog comfort stations and shade areas.

Maps of the trails within the city of Hoover, at top, and a map of the blueway routes and access points along the Cahaba River. Maps courtesy of city of Hoover.
A26 • May 2024 280 Living
Fly fishing on the Cahaba River. Staff photo.

The city also needs to do a better job of marketing its parks and facilities so people know they are available, Martin said.

“They’re best-kept secrets, and they don’t need to stay that way,” he said.

Building more partnerships with other entities for use of park and recreation facilities would increase awareness and usage, according to the plan. Potential partners include developers, historical societies, schools, libraries, businesses, the YMCA, environmental groups, fitness groups, health care organizations, artists, performers and vendors.

The plan also identified a need to make sure parks are well maintained, with up-to-date amenities and careful attention to wear and tear of facilities.

“Too often, neighborhood parks are cut-andpaste empty lawns, with a faded entrance sign and proverbial tumbleweeds ambling across the landscape in the distance,” the plan says. “Having access to a park is not the same as having access to a high-quality park with relevant amenities that excite and respond to the needs of the residents.”

And while residents prefer additions and

upgrades to existing parks in most cases, the park plan identified some gaps in the city that are considered underserved, such as Greystone, Ross Bridge and areas along John Hawkins Parkway and in southwestern Hoover. The plan sets a goal to have every resident within a 15-minute walk of a park or open public space.

The plan also identifies a number of historical and cultural areas in need of protection from development, such as the Bains Bridge over the Cahaba River and the Brock’s Gap railway bed that led to the development of Birmingham.

The Friends of Shades Mountain nonprofit group collected more than 700 signatures on a petition asking the city to purchase property and create a Bluff Park Preserve to protect some undeveloped and historic areas of Shades Mountain. However, the primary areas are privately owned, and the plan recommends a third party such as the Friends of Shades Mountain take the lead in that effort.


The plan notes that Hoover offers an array of traditional sports programs at its parks and

Statewide Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Service

facilities, particularly programs geared toward youth.

However, residents have expressed a desire for more non-traditional recreational opportunities. The plan recommends the city considering adding or expanding activities like pickleball, futsal, disc golf, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, archery, extreme sports, adventure racing, geocaching, tai chi and yoga.

The No. 1 desired amenity in city parks was skate parks, according to survey results. Dog parks, BMX parks and water spray parks also were noted as popular amenities in today’s world, and some residents called for an outdoor public pool and more indoor activities such as roller skating or bowling.

The plan also recommends the city expand its outdoor programming and explore additional nature-based programs and special events, such as outdoor symphony performances.

As these changes are made, there may be a need for additional support structures, such as parking and restrooms at the mountain bike circuits, trailheads and blueway access points,

the plan says.

Also, while sports tourism is deemed an important part of the city’s offerings and economic development, there needs to be a balance between providing space for visitors to participate in sports and activities and providing space for residents to do the same, the plan says.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department currently is adequately staffed for a city its size, but Hoover is nearing 100,000 people, which would put the city into another category for comparison, the plan says. To operate more effectively in the future and to implement the plan, the department will need to hire additional people, according to the plan.

Some suggestions included additional help with park maintenance, a full-time marketing person and a full-time outdoor adventure recreational programmer.

To see the full Parks, Public Spaces and Recreation Plan, which took more than a year to develop and is more than 200 pages, go to hooveralabama.gov/1430/ Parks-and-Public-Spaces-Plan-2023.

Above: Veronica Walker, a student at John Carroll Catholic High School, practices at the Hoover Archery Park. Residents in a survey expressed a desire for more non-traditional sporting opportunities, including archery and skateboarding. Right: Jackson Reagan does an ollie over a curb at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex. The No. 1 desired amenity in city parks was a skate park. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
Helical Piers
280Living.com May 2024 • A27


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4 track and field freshmen find brotherhood from Ugandan background

“I do, in a way, feel a type of kinship to Isaiah and Moses, even though we are not related,” Eli Wharton said. “I feel this way because of the sense that we were born in the same place and are growing up around each other.”

“Our families have been friends since we were little,” Isaac Wharton said. “We have the same heritage, Uganda, same-looking families.

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Lake Cyrus community, share the same mothers, but the foursome indeed have a shared connection that is like a brotherhood.
Whartons, of Hoover’s
All four are adopted orphans from Uganda, now high
freshmen who all excel at track and field.
Moses Caldwell, a freshman at Briarwood Christian School, throws a discus during practice on April 1. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Digestion Issues?

Many already know that certain foods may negatively impact your digestive system causing increased acid and heartburn. While it might seem counterintuitive, one of the most common causes of heartburn is insufficient amounts of stomach acid. Stomach acid is needed to properly digest food, breaking it down to absorb nutrients. Without enough stomach acid, undigested food can lead to indigestion and heartburn. Also, undigested food can also cause bacterial overgrowth.

For those on PPIs, (proton pump inhibitor), they reduce your stomach acid even further, and over time may cause the glands in the stomach that secrete acid to stop working altogether. A 2017 study “A Comparison of Alkaline Water and Mediterranean Diet vs Proton Pump Inhibition for Treatment of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux” suggested that a Mediterranean diet that focuses on fruits, healthy fats, lean meat and vegetables could be as effective as PPIs in treating acid reflux symptoms. The study measured symptoms of reflux during which stomach acid affects the tissue at the back of your throat. After six weeks, the study found those who had changed their diet had

ple, individuals who regularly use them can develop a vitamin B12 deficiency as they reduce your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that’s required for red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and for the development of the central nervous system.

In 2017, the British Pharm Society pubmed published a study called, “Acid-suppression medications and bacterial gastroenteritis”, indicated that PPIs may increase your risk for a gut infection. They found “those who took certain heartburn drugs had an increased risk of developing C. difficile and campylobacter bacterial infections related to the suppression of stomach acid production”. Researchers also found that even short-term use of PPIs can contribute to cognitive changes and, long-term use is linked to dementia. One 2015 study published in the National Library of Medicine called “Cognitive impact after short-term exposure to different proton pump inhibitors” suggested PPIs were associated with “clinically and statistically significant impairment in attention, executive function, visual memory and working and planning functions after just one week of use”. Additionally,

increased risk of bone fractures and events of cutaneous and systemic lupus”.

Alternatively, let’s consider some other options to reduce symptoms associated with excessive acid. First, start with observing the foods being consumed. Foods such as fried and processed foods, fast food, pizza, and potato chips or similar fried snack foods are known to commonly increase acid. Other foods that commonly make the list are tomato-based sauces, citrus fruits and carbonated beverages. By identifying those foods that trigger symptoms, and eliminating from the diets, one may notice a reduction of acid and relief, by simply making different dietary choices.

Second, be mindful of tight clothing around your waist or middle since it can increase the symptoms of heartburn. The reason is that while sitting, tight clothes squeeze the abdominal area, potentially increasing the risk of stomach contents being push up through the sphincter at the top of the stomach and cause reflux.

Third, try not to eat up to three to four hours before going to sleep at night, if

also increase pressure on the abdomen, depending on the position. Instead, consider blocks sold specifically for elevating the bed, which stabilizes it, so it doesn’t move at night.

Fourth, fresh ginger can be very useful as well. Ginger has long been known to have a gastro-protective effect. Add two to three quarter-size slices of fresh ginger root to 2 cups of hot water and let it steep for several minutes. Drink it approximately 20 minutes before eating a meal. If heartburn seems to plague at night, try a cup of chamomile tea about an hour before going to sleep. Another natural option is curcumin, also known for its digestive supportive properties. A 2023 study published in the BMJ Journal found that curcumin “helps improve outcomes in people with functional dyspepsia”, which is a type of chronic indigestion in which one experiences symptoms of feeling full or bloated during and after meals, heartburn and excessive burping. In the past decade, researchers have discovered several health benefits from including turmeric and curcumin in the diet.

Fifth, consider digestive support such as

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The Next Round remains committed to home

Show merchandise from The Next Round has been spotted in parts of the world thousands of miles away, even in parts of Europe.

There may not be many regular listeners of The Next Round across the pond, but it does serve as an example of the digital show’s constantly increasing presence.

The Next Round is based in Birmingham and is live from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, led by the trio of Jim Dunaway, Lance Taylor and Ryan Brown. The three of them, along with producer Sean “Rockstar” Heninger, have been together for well over a decade, joining forces on the radio side in early 2011. They primarily talk sports, but they mix in a little bit of everything along the way out of their studio in the Blue Lake Center.

They branched out in 2021 and took a leap of faith to start their own venture, what is now Disrupt Media. It’s been a steady climb ever since.

Things have evolved, grown and changed plenty in just a couple years’ time. But one thing has remained pretty constant, even as the show’s reach has increased, and that’s a commitment to the Birmingham area. Out of the 12 people currently on staff, 11 of them hail from the area.

“That’s why we’re such a good, tight-knit family,” Dunaway said. “We can reference little things like James Spann in his suspenders on a stormy day, and everyone knows what we’re talking about.”

Heninger, Scott Forester and Taylor Korn are all graduates of Vestavia Hills High School. Jon Lunceford is a Homewood guy through and through. Reade Taylor went to John Carroll Catholic High School. Tyler Johns attended Chelsea. Tim Melton is from Gardendale, while Kelsey Dollar calls Springville home.

The only staff member who is not from the area feels right at home in their midst.

“I’m the Georgia girl and all of the sudden, I’m being adopted into this Birmingham family of people,” said Emily Grace McWhorter, an in-field reporter for The Next Round.

Forester worked in television for nearly 20 years, much of that time at ABC 33/40 in Birmingham. He was recruited to join the company at the outset and serves as the director of content and video.

During the first year, Forester did much of the heavy lifting of the show’s video and social media content. Half of that has since been taken off his plate with the hiring of Korn as the team’s social media director.

Korn is a recent graduate of Auburn University. She learned quickly her job was far from a conventional “eight hours behind a desk” type of job.

“This is my first job, so I don’t have anything to compare it to,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect, because I was given so much freedom, because there was no one doing my job before me. They let me do what I think is best.”

Korn, a star soccer player during her high school days, still finds a way to fuel her competitive passion. When she is able to create and distribute content from The Next Round that gets shared by larger platforms, that’s a win in her book — as long as the show gets credited for it.

“That’s when I get very excited,” she said.

Dollar is able to compete in her own way as well as the director of sales. She has worked with the show’s hosts dating back to their radio days. Securing sponsorship for a last-minute trip to cover the University of Alabama’s recent Final Four run is right in her wheelhouse.

“I think we all have a little bit of that competitiveness in us,” she said.

Reade Taylor is the president, but he downplays the title. He has experience working with on-air talent and on the sales side, so he’s able to blend the two together, and he said the people that he has helped bring on board in the last couple years could not have worked out any better to this point.

“We’re trying to do something where we can all have fun but still build something special,” he said. “We’ve fortunately hit home runs on everything on the employees we’ve got.”

Tyler Johns is sort of a utility man these days. He started with The Next Round as a summer intern and never left, eventually securing a spot on staff.

“That was the plan, to try and work as hard as I could to see if there was a spot for me somewhere,” he said.

When needed, Johns can fill it for Heninger, Forester, Lunceford and probably others on any given day.

Melton and Lunceford’s time as coworkers has come full circle. They both worked in radio for many years and got the opportunity to do a late-night show called the “Midnight Meltdown” together in 2012. Ironically enough, Dunaway was one of their listeners back then and called into the show a few times.

Now, the duo is back together and has started the “Meltdown” on The Next Round’s platforms.

“Tim and I like all things movies, entertainment and pop culture,” Lunceford said. “We wanted to approach it instead of sports with entertainment secondary, it was entertainment with sports secondary. It’s growing every day.”

“These guys have been very supportive and see the vision,” Melton added. “That right there alone is enough to motivate you.”

A chance meeting in Auburn led to McWhorter landing with The Next Round

We’re trying to do something where we can all have fun but still build something special.

team. She covered the Texas-Alabama game in her first week on the job and has greatly enjoyed her time to this point, although she knew nothing of the crew from Birmingham before she was hired.

“I could never dream this up. The Lord has guided my steps in that,” she said.

The number of times that The Next Round’s team, outside of the three hosts, get recognized by strangers is evidence of the platform’s growing audience. The show has incorporated cameras and microphones on the other side of the glass, allowing listeners to hear from Heninger, Forester, Lunceford and Johns on a daily basis. Korn and McWhorter pop into the studio from time to time to fill in as well.

“Having been in TV for close to 20 years, I was kind of a nameless, faceless kind of person,” Forester said. “But now people every once in a while can see me [on the show]. And every now and then, someone will recognize me in public.”

Those face-to-face encounters are not uncommon for the audience that lives in the Birmingham area.

“Everyone has a home, and our home is Birmingham,” Dunaway said.

B4 • May 2024 280 Living
Above: From left, Ryan Brown, Emily Grace McWhorter and Jim Dunaway stand on the Rose Bowl field following the University of Alabama's College Football Playoff game against Michigan in January Photo courtesy of The Next Round. Below: Tyler Johns, a producer for The Next Round and native of Chelsea, works on the show April 12. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

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CONTINUED from page B1

We may not be best friends, but we know we will always have that special connection.”

Davis feels that connection, too.

“We are all from Uganda, and I’ve known them since I was little,” he said. “I ran with the twins in kindergarten.”

Caldwell remembers going to each other’s birthday parties. “In the summer, we hung out a lot,” he said. “When we were in junior high and after COVID stuff, we couldn’t hang out as much, except school and everything. I love watching them run and race and compete. That’s one of my favorite things to watch.”

And each has made a name for himself as a runner.

Competing for Bessemer Academy, Eli Wharton was the Alabama Independent School Association 2023 varsity state champion in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter as an eighth grader and again this year as a ninthgrader. He broke the state record in both races this year. He was also the 2022 and 2023 AISA varsity and junior varsity state cross-country champion in eighth and ninth grades.

Isaac Wharton was the 2022 AISA varsity state champion in the 800-meter and second in the 1,600 and 3,200 to his brother as an eighth grader and again this year as a ninth-grader. He also set a new state record in the 800 this year. He was the 2023 AISA varsity and junior varsity state cross-country runner-up, again behind his brother, as a ninth grader.

Davis was one of two ninth graders to finish in the top 20 in cross-country for the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 6A. He finished 20th overall and was the top male finisher for Homewood High School, with a time of 16 minutes, 19.94 seconds.

The Patriot freshman ran a personal record time of 1 minute, 58.98 seconds in the 800meter during the indoor track season at the Last Chance Invitational meet in Birmingham in January. That wound up being the fourth fastest time for a freshman in the nation.

Davis finished fifth overall, at 52.41, in the 400-meter at the Icebreaker Invitational

indoor meet in Birmingham in January, and in early March he was the second overall freshman in the 800 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in Boston, with a time of 2:00.15.

Caldwell competes for Briarwood Christian High School, competing in discus and shot put. As an eighth grader, he broke the Briarwood Junior High school record and the Southern Conference record in discus.


Bessemer Academy coach Bob Spurgeon said the Wharton twins are just special and different.

“Last year, they were winning state races,” Spurgeon said. “In the 3,200, 1,600, 800 as eighth graders, they were competing at the varsity level. They’re not just talented athletes, but they’re great kids. They’re just super-polite, well-mannered, great kids. And not only are they phenomenal athletes, but being that they’re freshmen, they’re also leaders on the team.”

The coach, who teaches the twins in his honors English class, said they excel in the classroom as well. “You’ve got phenomenal athletes, phenomenal kids, and they’re also phenomenal students,” he said. “That’s a great thing. They are able to make great grades and compete at a very high level, especially considering the fact that they’re ninth graders.”

Kelly McNair coaches distance runners at Homewood High. She said Davis is a very talented, humble freshman with a lot of potential.

“Isaiah is extremely, extremely talented in the 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200 and 5K,” McNair said. “The talent lies in that he could race and be in our top three for all of those. If you are a strong 400 or 800 runner, you’re not typically a strong distance guy, like in the 5K. He has the potential to excel across the board.”

So what’s his ceiling?

“That’s a great question, a fantastic question,” the coach said. “I don’t even know where his limit is, honestly. My priority with him is going to be to keep him healthy. I try not to overtrain him. I don’t want to push too much mileage, too much speed work. He’s responding well to what we’re doing, so I’m

gonna continue to hold back a little bit on training right now.”


Caldwell breaks the mold of the Ugandan quartet as he competes in the throwing events of discus and shot put. In doing so, he takes after his adoptive father.

“One day doing garage work, I found all my dad’s shot puts and discus from college,” Moses recalled from his days as a rising fourth grader. “I had been asking about [them], and

then we got me my own tiny shot put to throw in the yard. I wanted to go to some track meets that summer.”

His adoptive father, Josh Caldwell, is a volunteer coach at Briarwood and couldn’t have been more pleased, as his son’s interest in the sport brought back memories of him and his father.

“When I was 15, my dad spent a lot of time teaching me, helping me learn how to throw. It was a really great experience through college, and then I helped coach after college

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Eli Wharton, Isaac Wharton, Moses Caldwell and Isaiah Davis during a track meet at Hoover High School in June 2022. Photo courtesy of Staci Caldwell.

with some area schools,” he said.

“I thought it was exciting, and I looked forward to seeing if he was interested in it. But I wanted him to be interested. I didn’t want to just tell him to do it. I wanted him to be interested in it, too,” Josh Caldwell said.

Briarwood track coach Aaron Margene said Moses is a great young athlete with some lofty goals, whose work ethic will allow him to go after them.

“The thing that I find most compelling about him is his knowledge and skill of discus and shot put at such a young age,” Margene said. “It is obvious that his dad is very knowledgeable and that Moses soaks up whatever information and technique that he can.

“He’s right now undersized [compared] to a lot of the guys that he’s competing against,” the coach said. “When he’s done growing and maturing, he’s gonna be a really big force in the shot and the discus, especially the discus. He’s third on our team this year, and the two guys in front of them are both seniors, much bigger than he is.”


The Whartons have four biological

children, a daughter and three sons, each of whom is now an adult. Angie Wharton said she had a friend who had adopted a daughter from China, and God “laid it [adoption] on my heart. I couldn’t shake it.”

“Every time I’d see her and talk to her about her adoption process, my chest felt like it was going to explode. I remember asking Kelcey [her husband] about it,” she continued. “‘What do you think about adoption?’ My two youngest big kids were in high school. He laughed and said, ‘I think we need to pray about it.’”

The couple visited Lifeline, an adoption agency. “We knew immediately when we started talking about Uganda, that’s where we’re supposed to adopt from,” she said. “It just wouldn’t go away. It just kept piercing our hearts. We just started the process, and here we are.”

Briefly, Angie Wharton questioned if she’d be able to handle multiple children. Then she got a post-Mother’s Day call from Claire Davis, a social worker with Lifeline (and Isaiah Davis’s mother).

“‘Would you consider twins?’” she recalled her asking. “Of course, I started screaming

on the other end. Yes! If God wants me to take twins, I’m gonna take twins. We got the pictures the day after Father’s Day.”

Claire Davis said she and her husband, Joel, have different stories of coming to a place of wanting to adopt a child.

“I knew in college that I wanted to enter a helping profession, and I was really interested in adoption,” she recalled. “I began my professional career working in adoption, and I worked with our Uganda program, back in 2009.

“Joel and I ... we’re Christians, and we also know that we’re adopted, and we know what the Bible says about being adopted into God’s family,” she said. “That always really stood out to us.”

Joel Davis remembers talking about adoption before he and Claire were married, but it was something they thought would happen when they were older. Trips to orphanages and Peru and Haiti, however, brought the idea to the forefront. In addition to adopting Isaiah from Uganda, the Davises also adopted a 13-year-old son, Nico, from the Congo and gave birth to 11-year-old Benji.

Like the Davises, the Caldwells went to

Samford University. Staci Caldwell remembers Josh, who she was dating at the time, saying he needed to talk to her.

“I thought he was about to break up with me,” she said. “He actually said, ‘I just want you to know that I don’t know if I ever want to have birth children. I only want to adopt.’ I said, ‘Great. Me too.’”

The couple got engaged four months later and were married nine months after that.

“It’s always been our plan to grow our family through adoption,” she said.

The Caldwells have a second adoptive son, an 11-year-old from Haiti. Staci Caldwell said the commandment to care for orphans and widows in James 1:27 led them to choose this path.

“We wanted to care for children who might not have a home,” she said. “Those are the children who are at the greatest risk. We wanted our life to count for more than having a job or doing something that was maybe the easiest thing to do. We really wanted the Lord to use our life in a way that wasn’t maybe conventional or normal, if that makes sense. We know we were not born into His family, but He saved us.”

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Left: Isaac and Eli Wharton, identical twins from Uganda and freshmen at Bessemer Academy, on the track at Hoover High School. Right: Isaiah Davis, a freshman at Homewood High School, runs during track and field practice at Waldrop Stadium on April 3. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Spain Park senior goes above and beyond to lead Jags

Humility is defined as the absence of pride or arrogance.

Pride and arrogance could not be further from people’s minds when they talk about the way Tatum Ahlemeyer conducts herself.

If the Spain Park High School senior and star soccer player showed those characteristics from time to time, it would be understandable. Ahlemeyer has played on the Spain Park varsity team since she was in seventh grade, helped lead the program to the 2022 Class 7A state championship and has the Jags on a similar path this spring in her senior season.

Instead, there’s a common theme in the stories told about Ahlemeyer.

Following a thrilling win over Vestavia Hills in the state semifinals in 2022, Ahlemeyer’s first instinct was to console the Vestavia goalkeeper, who had just surrendered the game-winning goal.

Leading up to the state championship game that same year, Ahlemeyer wrote a personalized card for each player on the team, detailing their personal importance and significance to her.

For the last six years, Ahlemeyer has been the type of player to pick up cones and carry equipment to and from the field, no matter her status on the team. That duty is often seen as a rite of passage of sorts for younger players throughout many sports, but Ahlemeyer has never let that be the case in her time at Spain Park. Ahlemeyer even runs beyond what’s required of her, to ensure teammates have an encouraging voice alongside them.

Those are just some of the many

ways Spain Park coach Robert Starr has seen Ahlemeyer impact his program over the years. And naturally, Ahlemeyer would never bring up any of them on her own accord.

“You don’t get those kinds of people very often,” he said.

The 2024 season has already been a special one for Spain Park, with the hopes that it culminates in another championship. The Jags had won each of their first 18 games through April 9, with only a few regular season games remaining before the playoffs began.

Ahlemeyer is one of five seniors on this year’s team, part of a group that has played together for many years, dating back to their Berry Middle School days.

“What people have said over and over and over again, by parents, teammates, coaches and players, is that this team connects so well,” Ahlemeyer said. “It’s hard to get that with high school teams because groups are changing so much. We’ve been able to grow up and get to know each other really well over the years. It’s come together this year.”

There is some young, dynamic talent mixing with those older, experienced players as well. Players like sophomore Reese Oldfield and many others have provided a boost for the Jags.

“We’ve got the right mix of returning players who have been there and done that, and good leadership,” Starr said. “We have some talented players and some younger ones.”

Ahlemeyer began playing with the varsity team her seventh grade year. People joke with her that she did not say a word during the first two years of her career, but she has matured and grown more confident as she has progressed.

“Your play improves throughout the years and you grow in confidence that way,” she said. “One of the really cool things has been being able to shape the culture to what you see is best. Having the opportunity and privilege to do that along with the other seniors, that’s been the biggest change [in me].”

Ahlemeyer will never be mistaken for the loud, boisterous leader, but she has become more comfortable in her leadership position and the weight it carries.

“It’s important that your words and actions embody that and stay constant through the highs and lows,” she said.

Starr commends Ahlemeyer for how deeply she cares about “one through 18,” meaning every player on the roster. Her gentle spirit is one of her greatest strengths, but sometimes she has to push that aside and not be so respectful toward opponents.

That’s a conversation they have certainly had a few times over the last few years.

“It’s time if you’re a dominant player, go out and act like it,” Starr has told her. “Don’t be apologetic. If you’re better than that person, then just be better than that person.”

Ahlemeyer considers her faith to be one of the most important aspects of

her life, and that is one of the things that attracted her to Lipscomb University, where she has signed to play college soccer.

“I can’t wait to get up there, but I’m trying to soak in all these last moments,” she said. “It’s going by fast. It’s been the best.”

Starr firmly believes Ahlemeyer should have been more heavily recruited, but he has no doubt she will be a great benefit to Lipscomb’s program. He’s witnessed firsthand the work she puts in, many times by herself in the mid-summer heat, kicking soccer balls against a bench on the practice field.

“If anybody spends any time with Tatum, it’s like, ‘Yes, I want this kid,’” he said.

“Soccer has been a really sweet and special avenue, and it’s made me who I am in so many ways,” Ahlemeyer said. “You learn so much about yourself, and I know that through soccer I have come to learn the character of the Lord in so many ways, and it gives me purpose.”

Ahlemeyer also played basketball growing up and is part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and First Priority clubs at Spain Park.

“I hope and pray that in every circumstance, whether it’s on the field or off the field, first I know I am an ambassador for Christ,” she said.

Starr knows full well that he will be telling stories of Ahlemeyer and asking others, “What would Tatum do?” for many years to come.

“You can appreciate the soccer talent, but the soccer is secondary. I can appreciate the genuine person that she is,” he said.

“She’s unlike anybody I’ve coached before.”

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Spain Park’s Tatum Ahlemeyer (19) possesses the ball in an area game at Heardmont Park on April 9. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
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Regions Tradition coming back to Greystone May 8-12

Greystone Golf and Country Club is busy preparing for the 2024 Regions Tradition, one of five major championships on the PGA Tour Champions men’s professional senior golf tour.

This year’s tournament is scheduled for May 8-12, with the celebrity Pro-Am taking place on Wednesday, May 8, and four days of competitive golf May 9-12.

Seventy-eight professional golfers are scheduled to participate, including Steve Stricker, who won three out of the last four Regions Tradition tournaments and came in second in 2021 and 2018.

Other golfers in the lineup include Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, Jim Furyk, John Daly, Miguel Angel Jimenez, David Toms, Mike Weir and Tom Lehman. Golfers with Alabama ties who are scheduled to attend include Florence native Stewart Cink, former University of Alabama golfers Jason Bohn and Dicky Pride and former University of South Alabama golfer Heath Slocum.

The purse for the tournament this year is $2.6 million, up by $100,000, and the firstplace winner gets $375,000, tournament director George Shaw said.

New Alabama football coach Kalen DeBoer is scheduled to participate in the celebrity ProAm, along with Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze, UAB football coach Trent Dilfer, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats, Auburn football coach Bruce Pearl, former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, country music star Riley Green, sports media personality Paul Finebaum and U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville.

The gates open for the celebrity Pro-Am at 7 a.m. May 8, with tee times stretching from 6:50 to 9 a.m. and noon to 2:10 p.m. at the first

and tenth holes.

For competitive play Thursday-Sunday, the gates open at 8 a.m., and play is scheduled to run from 9:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Live coverage on The Golf Channel is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Play is being extended later than usual on Saturday and Sunday because Sunday is Mother’s Day, and organizers want to allow people more time to have lunch with their mothers before coming to the tournament or watching it on TV, Shaw said.

The live concert that normally has been held on Saturday night is being moved to Friday night and will take place immediately after play ends (estimated at about 4:30 p.m.) at

the White Claw Watering Hole. This year, The Black Jacket Symphony is the chosen band, and the group will play a variety of classic rock hits from different artists, Shaw said.

A new feature this year is the Casamigos Club, which is a tent with prime viewing of the 18th green and upgraded food and craft cocktail offerings. People can get a ticket with access to the grounds and to the Casamigos Club for $85, but food and drinks will cost extra, Shaw said.

Most prime viewing tents cost much more and usually are bought up by corporations, Shaw said. Tournament organizers wanted to provide some less pricey options to give individuals better viewing opportunities, he said.

This year, there also will be a ladies long drive contest after regular play ends on Thursday. The competition will feature 15 women

Regions Tradition

► WHAT: PGA Tour Champions

major senior men’s championship and Celebrity ProAm

► WHEN: May 8-12

► WHERE: Greystone Golf and Country Club

► TICKETS: $30 (children 15 and younger get in free with ticketed adult)

► WEB: regionstradition.com

who qualified at the driving simulator at the PGA Tour Superstore in Inverness Plaza in April.

Estimating attendance for the tournament is challenging because so many people with homes along the course have large parties, but Shaw said approximately 70,000 to 75,000 people came last year.

The Coca-Cola Spectators Village and its food trucks were so popular last year that organizers are adding several more food trucks this year, Shaw said. Some of those scheduled to come include Krazy Good BBQ, Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Wasabi Juan’s and Seeds Coffee.

The 2023 Regions Tradition raised more than $1.3 million for charity, and the tournament has raised more than $23 million since it started as the Bruno’s Memorial Classic in 1992, Shaw said. Children’s of Alabama hospital is the largest beneficiary, but many other nonprofits receive money through the Birdies for Charity program.

General admission tickets for the tournament cost $30, but children ages 15 and younger get in free with a ticketed adult. Group ticket packages are available from $425 to $1,500. For more information or to buy tickets, to go regionstradition.com.

B10 • May 2024 280 Living 5299 Valleydale Road Suite 111 Birmingham, AL 35242 (two blocks from 280) 205-980-9030 www.southeasternjewelers.net at Lee Branch 205.980.8879 www.pakmailleebranch.com DHL FedEx UPS USPS DHL FedEx UPS USPS Don’t forget to ship that present to Mom! And here’s 15% OFF to help!* *packing & shipping of one package. Good for the month of May 2024 UPS, FedEx, DHL only Business news to share? If you have news to share with the community about your brick-and-mortar business along the U.S. 280 corridor, let us know! Share your business news with us at starnesmedia.com/business-happenings
PGA Pro Retief Goosen tees off on hole 1 during the Drummond Company Celebrity ProAm of the Regions Tradition benefiting Children’s of Alabama in May 2023 at Greystone Golf and Country Club. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Sports Editor’s Note

What is it about March Madness?

If you recall seeing me during the first four days of the NCAA Basketball Tournament in the middle of March, you’re not remembering things correctly.

That’s because not many people ever see me during those days. It’s nearly impossible to pry me away from the television during the first two rounds of the spectacle that created the phrase “March Madness.”

To me, there’s simply nothing like it. What is it about the tournament that draws the eyes of the nation every year?

Is it the personal investment that comes with creating a bracket? Those are basically a level playing field, with the person who doesn’t know anything about college basketball having as good a chance as the person who cares way too much about it.

Is it the underdog stories that come from the tournament every year? In no rational world should teams like Oakland (a school not in California) beat teams like Kentucky, yet it happens every single year without fail.

Here in Alabama, it was a special year, with Alabama, Auburn, UAB and Samford all qualifying for the tournament. That certainly created some additional buzz.

I think it’s a little bit of everything. One of the great things about being a sports fan is cheering for a particular side. When you create a bracket, it automatically gives you a stake in each game.

It adds a level of intensity when the team that you cheer for is in the tournament, whether that’s any of the in-state teams or someone else (I’m a lifelong Gonzaga fan, for whatever reason).

The Cinderella stories are what make it the most special to me, though. Many of us relate to the underdogs. The teams that have no business winning do the unthinkable, giving hope to all of us that anything is possible.

Up until a few years ago, a No. 16 seed (the lowest seed in the tournament) had never defeated a No. 1 seed in the first round of the tournament. UMBC finally broke that seal with a win over Virginia in 2018. That paved the way for Fairleigh Dickinson’s monumental upset of Purdue in the opening round in 2023.

There’s nothing like it. As a fan, the tournament provides the most awe-inspiring victories, gut-wrenching losses and emotional moments.

I can’t get enough.

Kyle Parmley is the sports editor at Starnes Media.

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B12 • May 2024 280 Living
Spain Park’s Tori Flournoy (2) and Oak Mountain’s Avery Smith (5). Chelsea’s Chase Lackey (4) catches a throw as Hewitt-Trussville’s Brett Moseley (1) is safe at second on a steal during a game at Phil English Field in Trussville on April 4. Spain Park’s Arnold Bush (20) makes contact during an at-bat in a game against Prattville during the 2024 Buccaneer Classic spring break tournament. The Lady Jags celebrate a goal in an area match against Oak Mountain at Heardmont Park on April 9. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney Chelsea’s Miller Bauman (10) swings at a pitch during a game against Hewitt-Trussville at Phil English Field in Trussville on April 4. Oak Mountain’s Kevin Jasinski (9) pitches in an area game against Hewitt-Trussville at Phil English Field on April 18.

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I know that you cannot read letters, but that didn’t stop me from writing this one. I’m sure you’d either shred this paper to pieces or eat it whole if I gave it to you, so I’ll read it aloud for you one day.

You are a good dog, as most dogs are. You don’t destroy shoes or poop in the house. You don’t chase cars and you don’t bark into the night. You don’t make many messes. You do dig in the yard and bother my plants, but I will overlook it. Your good qualities outweigh the bad, and that’s something you can’t say about some folks.

You aren’t my first dog, and I hope that you aren’t my last. You are our family dog. You were brought into our lives when we were a family of three. Since then, we’ve added another little human, and you took that in stride, somehow knowing the importance of that tiny bundle. You tolerate toddler slaps, pulls and all the noise and excitement from a house full of boys. You sleep outside their rooms, like you know that is your duty — your post throughout the night.

You live a simple life. We humans often don’t take the time to just enjoy the little things like you do. You love laying in the

Holy Moly Motherhood By Alana Smith Dear Dog,

sun, meeting new people, leaves, napping and chasing bees. You find warm windows to lounge by to pass the time. You watch the world with attentive eyes and take it all in. You live for a back scratch and a thrown ball. You are easy to please and a happy fella overall. Your daily pace is a slow one, and one that I should aspire toward.


You are eager to go, to play and to please. Unlike humans, you are always ready and full of excitement. You don’t begrudgingly go anywhere — other than to the vet, which is understandable. You would get an “A” for attitude if you were in school.

You are funny. You are spooked by the fireplace and thunder. You chase your tail, which is barely a tail and more of a nub, so maybe you are confused by it. You can sit, shake and roll, but you refuse to “speak” no matter how hard I try. I don’t think you’re too old to learn it at this point, I

just think you like to keep your barks to yourself. You bring laughter to our house, especially when we try to put a sweater on you, or a Batman costume, or attach anything to your collar. That is your collar and no one is to touch it, apparently. I get it. You don’t have much to say, but you are an expert listener — oh, how I wish to be this way! How much more I would learn about others, and myself, if I could calm the words flowing from me. Sometimes I don’t clearly hear what another is saying because I am thinking of how to properly respond. I assume this is human nature, but we would be much more aware if we were a bit more like you. Quiet and contemplative. Kind and easygoing.

You are a selfless and loyal dog, like most are. You are protective of me, especially, as I am your favorite, but I won’t tell that to your Dad. You are by my side always. When I’m lounging on the couch,

you are leaning next to it. When I’m getting ready in the morning, you are at my feet. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, you are there. When I push you away, donning freshly painted toenails or black dress pants, you still love me from afar. Humans harbor grudges and hurt feelings, yet you always come running right back to me. You hold no judgment — you just want to be in my presence. You can sense my emotions, and your eyes read mine with the slightest bit of true comprehension. Like you are saying, “Don’t worry, I am here.” You are a loving companion. And you are my friend.

With love and dog treats, Your Favorite Human

Alana is a nurse anesthetist, writer and boy mom (ages 8 and 3), who lives in north Shelby County with her husband, kids and Boxer, Sam. When she’s not writing or chasing little humans, she can usually be found in the aisles of Target. She shares her writings at Holy Moly Motherhood (on Facebook and Instagram), where she takes on all things motherhood and marriage.

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