280 Living June 2024

Page 1

Summer Staycation

June 2024 | Volume 17 | Issue 8 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 RECORD HIGH GOLD PRICES Cummings JEWELRY DESIGN 205-298-9144 3166 Heights Village, 35243 Vestavia Hills/Cahaba Heights cummingsjewelrydesign.com Now is the time to sell!
A s the days get longer, there’s more time to pack in all the fun the Chelsea and north Shelby County area has to offer. Check out some of the things you can do this summer that are close to home.
See STAYCATION | page A18 Shelley Shaw replaces Craig Kelley on the Hoover Board of Education. Justin Kisor takes reins of Jags volleyball. Sponsors A4 City A6 Schoolhouse A8 Business A12 Real Estate B4 Events B5 Sports B8 Community B10 Get Away for a Day B12 INSIDE facebook.com/280living See page A10 See page B1 Getting on Board Joining the Jags
Hannah Ray, 5, jumps off a block on the fitness court at Veterans Park as she and Mollie Maxie play. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
Explore activities in and around the US 280 corridor for the whole family
Each year, Chelsea High School senior honor graduates get to bestow an honor of their own, the Golden Apple award, to a teacher who has had a significant impact on their life. As part of the ceremony, students prepare statements that detail why they selected that teacher and present them with a plaque and have a photo taken with them. Chelsea High history teacher Ryan Adams said the ceremony is a special tradition for both the outgoing seniors and the honored educators. Throughout his career at Chelsea, he has received 40 Golden Apples, including eight this year.
The apple of their eye Students honor impactful teachers with awards See APPLE | page A19
Vickey Bailey receives a Golden Apple Award. Photo courtesy of Iron City Studios
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Identifying the right credit option for your business

As a business grows, there are several occasions when the company will need financing, whether it’s to get started, expand, or overcome unexpected hurdles.

To start any discussion, I ask business clients three main questions to figure out what the right financing options are for them:

•How long have you been in business?

•What will the money be used for?

•What collateral is available for the loan?

Taking these key considerations into account, we examine the available financing options to identify the best fit for your business. As bankers, we want to structure the debt to assist in our clients’ growth without weighing them down with more debt than their business’s cash flow can support. Among the available tools, lines of credit, business credit cards, and purchase cards (P-cards) stand out as essential options, each serving distinct purposes that cater to different business needs.

Lines of credit — Businesses often utilize lines of credit to meet their working capital requirements. Working capital represents the gap between a company’s assets and liabilities. An analogy I like to share with clients likens working capital to the “gas in a car” for your business. Enough working capital facilitates growth, while insufficient amounts are like a car “running on fumes.”

Commercial credit cards – Ideally used for smaller expenses, credit cards are great in a pinch and can make smaller emergency costs easier to handle. While many cards do not require the entire balance to be paid in a month, it’s in the borrower’s best interest to pay the balance down as quickly as possible.

Purchase card — A commercial card or “P-card” is a credit card or virtual credit card used by businesses to make purchases on behalf of the company. It consolidates all charges made by the business’s employees into a single account, offering valuable benefits. This includes enhanced reporting capabilities, improving historically manual processes, and providing added protection against fraud by making it easy to review transactions. Unlike a traditional credit card, which allows you to carry a balance with a minimum monthly payment, a purchase card requires you to pay in full when your bill is due.

Now, here’s a tip: Strong relationships are key for securing the right financing. If you’re looking at commercial credit options, there are three relationships you need to nurture. Firstly, develop a relationship with an accountant/CPA. Accounting is the “language of business,” and their expertise will be a major asset. Secondly, establish a relationship with an attorney. Attorneys can help structure your business and provide protection in case something goes wrong. Lastly, develop a relationship with your banker.

For new businesses, it’s sometimes advisable to get a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. This often comes into play when a business has less liquidity for a down payment or needs a repayment term longer than what a bank can traditionally provide.

As bankers, we value long-term relationships and want to help you strategically grow your business. Unlike the CPAs and attorneys, it costs clients nothing to call your banker, so don’t hesitate to reach out and start the conversation. Your banker is here to assist in finding the right tools to fit your needs.

Brent Balogh is Commercial Banking Relationship Manager at Valley Bank in Birmingham and has been in banking for over 20 years.

280Living.com June 2024 • A3 This article is made available for informational and educational purposes only. Any views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views, opinions, policies, or positions of Valley National Bank. ©2024 Valley National Bank. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender. Equal Housing Lender. All Rights Reserved.

About Us

Did you know that 280 Living is just one of six publications published by Starnes Media each month?

I’ve been working here for nine years, and I still meet people all the time who have no idea about our other community newspapers, which cover Hoover, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook and Trussville.

I also get asked if people still read the newspaper? My answer is, I hope so!

While 280 Living comes free in your mailbox and at local businesses, you can find additional stories at 280living. com and on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

We are going to be making some improvements both in print and online.

One thing you’ll notice soon is that we will be providing even more online content; however, some of those stories won’t be seen until the print edition comes out. You’ll also see new things like videos, polls and more ways for our readers to interact with us. We’re looking forward to these new things and hope you’ll enjoy them! I also welcome your story tips anytime at leagle@starnesmedia.com. Happy reading!

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Chelsea names new CFO

Wayne Barber recently became the city of Chelsea’s new chief financial officer and was introduced at the May 7 Chelsea City Council meeting.

However, he’s no stranger to the city’s finances.

“His relationship with Chelsea is as old as Chelsea,” Mayor Tony Picklesimer said. “He was the very first auditor [for the city].”

Barber said he did the very first city audit at former Mayor Earl Niven’s house with a laptop in his lap.

He has been with the firm DeLoach, Barber & Caspers, P.C. since 1996, after graduating from the University of Montevallo with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. That firm had been serving as auditors for the city of Chelsea when the city was incorporated in 1996.

Barber’s primary role with the firm was overseeing firm audit services for governmental agencies, including town, city and water board audits, as well as audit services for nonprofit and other quasi-government agencies.

The city has always had a treasurer, which is required by law. Council member Scott Weygand said with the growth of the city, the accounting was getting more complicated.

“We will now be able to have our CFO and treasurer work together to bring in new software and better systems to manage the city’s finances,” Weygand said.

Picklesimer said his goal is for Barber to “bring a new level of professionalism to our accounting and the way we do business.”

Barber said he’s already hit the ground running. He has implemented electronic banking in order to get the statements more quickly than in the past. Reconciliation can then be done in the first five to 10 days of each month.

“Over the next few months, [the council] is going to be getting lots of new policies and procedures,” he said. “In my three days here, the new auditors have already started the new audit for Sept. 30, 2023.”

Barber also plans to meet with each of the city’s department heads monthly to keep them up to date, so they can be more empowered for budget purposes.

“I hope my 28 years of experience will be an asset to the city,” Barber said.

Also during the May 7 council meeting, the council:

► Declared May 2024 as Mental Health Awareness Month

► Approved a resolution for education grant funds to Chelsea Middle School in the amount of $15,300 for a one-year, school-wide subscription for IXL, an interactive, online learning platform.

► Approved a resolution to adopt a blanket purchase order policy for the city, which will allow any common, recurring order to be approved without having to be brought before the council.

► Approved to pay the city’s bills

Bill passes to form new North Shelby Library board

For more than 30 years, there has never been an election held for the members of the North Shelby County Library Board, and they’ve never had any opposition.

A new bill that recently passed the Alabama House and Senate will change that, and a new library board will be established.

According to Rep. Susan DuBose, who was in attendance at the April 22 Shelby County Commission meeting, the library district was formed in 1988, and the district has grown and changed since that time.

“There are a great deal of dues that are collected by both individuals and businesses that pay into the library district,” she said. “We're adding a board member and need to have at least one member that's a member of the business community, that owns a business in the North Shelby County Library district. We haven't had that before. That gives those businesses fair representation, [since] they make up a large portion of the district.”

DuBose is one of three sponsors of the bill, along with Rep. Arnold Mooney and Rep. Jim Carns. She said the next step for the bill is to go to Gov. Kay Ivey to be signed.

“We think this is going to be a really good

thing for North Shelby County,” she said. “The North Shelby County Library was the only library in the state that was elected, or was supposed to be elected by the people instead of being appointed. This appointment just brings us in line with every other library in the district, which is appointed either by a county commission, a city council, mayor or legislative delegation. It will give us an opportunity to select an experienced diverse group in the community.”

After the bill is signed by Gov. Ivey, DuBose said the delegation would take applications during May and would make sure the community is aware when that will take place.

“When people hear about it, at first, they say we’re taking other people's right to vote,” she said. “It sounds scary, but the fact is that people have never voted in over 30 years.”

The commission also approved bids for: runway pavement at Shelby County Airport (Remac, $99,774.84) and road surface treatments (Charles E. Watts, Inc., $106,505.42).

County Engineer David Willingham shared information about the Interstate 65 lane expansion. The county will be responsible for $16.5 million of the $176 million total for the project, which will also include $141 million of federal funds, $15 million of state funds and $3.5 million of city funds.

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Wayne Barber, the new CFO for the city of Chelsea, discusses finances during a precouncil meeting in May. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle. The North Shelby County Library. Staff photo.
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Have a schoolhouse announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at leagle@starnesmedia.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

Chamber recognizes educators, students

The Shelby County Chamber honored educators and students from across the county during a luncheon on April 17 at the Grande Hall in Columbiana.

The chamber launched this program to celebrate excellence in the teaching profession and to inform the community of the quality of instruction delivered throughout Shelby County.

All of the nominees were recognized, and the four winners received a one-time financial investment to assist their continuing development.


Lisa Carden of Shelby Elementary was named the Elementary School Educator of the Year.

Other nominees:

► Sara Harris, Calera Elementary School

► Brittany Brasher, Calera Intermediate School

► Karen Epperson, Chelsea Park Elementary

► Melody Baker, Coosa Valley Academy

► Bonnie Maddox, Creek View Elementary

► Kayla Mizell, Elvin Hill Elementary School

► Mary Maines, Forest Oaks Elementary School

► Dana Ling, Helena Elementary School

► Holly Ritchey, Helena Intermediate School

► Crystal Knezek, Inverness Elementary School

► Teresa Borden, Montevallo Elementary School

► Rebecca Newman, Mt Laurel Elementary School

► Jill Vaughn, Oak Mountain Elementary School

► Dana Furman, Oak Mountain Intermediate School

► Leah Gott, Pelham Oaks Elementary School

► Amanda Toxey, Pelham Ridge Elementary

► Chelsea Shanks, Thompson Intermediate School

► Ashley Waldrop, Vincent Elementary School

► Laura Wright, Wilsonville Elementary School


Brittany Bisch of Chelsea Middle School was named the Middle School Educator of the Year.

Other nominees:

► Christopher Oravet, Calera Middle School

► Patrick Small, Columbiana Middle School

► Olivia Carroll, Helena Middle School

► Peggy Huckabaa, Montevallo Middle School

► Catherine Acton, Oak Mountain Middle School

► Amy Moore, Pelham Park Middle School

► Lakesha Fleming, Thompson Middle School

► Michael Corey Williams, Vincent Middle School


Two educators tied for the title of High School Educator of the Year: Anna McEntire of Calera High School and Joseph Alex Levinson of Thompson High School.

Other nominees:

► Jennifer VanOekel, Chelsea High School

► Shawn Baker, Coosa Valley Academy

► Lindsey Rigdon, Helena High School

► Rachel O’Connor, Montevallo High School

► Taylor Korson, Oak Mountain High School

► Frankie Stroud, Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center

► Natasha Cooper, Shelby County High School

► Marshall Thomas, Vincent High School

The chamber also recognized students for their excellence in the classroom. A total of five recipients received a one-time

A8 • June 2024 280 Living
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Winners of the Middle School Educator of the year awards pose for a photo after being recognized. Photos courtesy of the Shelby County Chamber.
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financial investment to assist in their continuing development.


Two students received this award: Tucker Bremer of Helena High School and Marisol Alvarado Resendiz of Thompson High School.

Other nominees:

► Caleb Chapman, Briarwood Christian School

► Noah Carlisle, Calera High School

► Elias Serrano, Chelsea High School

► Trinity Thomas, Coosa Valley Academy

► Allie Herring, Montevallo High School

► Abigail Moore, Oak Mountain High School

► Ian Chambers, Pelham High School

► Jackson Fanchers, Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center

► Katie McDonald, Shelby County High School

► Chloey Carroll, Vincent High School


Two students received this award: Jessica Joy Ferguson of Pelham High School and Preston Green of Vincent High School.

Luke Long of Briarwood Christian School was named the Future Leader of the Year.

Other nominees:

► Joshua Smith, Calera High School

► Kameron Yellock, Chelsea High School

► Brycen Wilson, Coosa Valley Academy

► Kayla Woods, Helena High School

► Emily Pennington, Montevallo High School

► Julius Lappalainen, Oak Mountain High School

► Jessica Joy Ferguson, Pelham High School

► Maggie Priborsky, Shelby County Career and Technical Education Center

► Dylan Phillips, Shelby County High School

► Jake Schniper, Thompson High School

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Ask about virtual visits and schedule an appointment with one of our cardiovascular specialists today, at 205-660-4174.

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Ascension St. Vincent’s Primary Care Hoover 1870 Chace Drive, Suite 160 Hoover, AL 35244

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Career Pathway student winners pose for a photo after being honored with their awards.

Meet Hoover school board’s newest member

Shelley Shaw has a long history of involvement with the Hoover school system, but now she’s ready to take on a new role.

Effective June 1, Shaw replaces Craig Kelley on the Hoover Board of Education.

Shaw, 51, is the former executive director for the Hoover City Schools Foundation, but she got her start in leadership roles in the system more than a decade ago.

She served as president of the Rocky Ridge Elementary School PTO in the 2013-14 school year and later as vice president of programs for the Berry Middle School PTO and president of the Hoover Parent Teacher Council, which is the umbrella organization for all PTO, PTA and PTSO groups in Hoover.

Additionally, Shaw served two years on the Hoover City Schools Foundation board of directors before being asked to serve as executive director for the group, which she did for four years, until this past December.

Shaw, who also is the wife of Mike Shaw (a former Hoover councilman and current state legislator), has lived in Hoover 23 years and has been involved in numerous other community groups. She is the current president of Destination Hoover International, secretary for the Hoover Belles board and on the Community Service Committee for the Hoover Service Club. Shaw also was in the inaugural class of Leadership Hoover and served on the school superintendent’s advisory council from 2016 to 2019.

280 Living recently asked Shaw about school system issues. Here are excerpts from that interview:

Q: Why did you decide to apply for the Hoover school board?

A: Community involvement is a core value to me and my family, and I think that I want to give back. This is a terrific way to do it in this stage of my life and in my volunteer time that I have. The last 20 years or so, I’ve been involved on some level with our schools, volunteering and then most recently [as] the executive director of the foundation, and so I felt like I had knowledge and time that I could give to something like this. I really just want to be able to set this district up for success for our students and for the community.

Q: What do you see are the biggest issues facing the school system?

A: Recruiting and retaining teachers and the best talent that we can find. … I believe this is not something new. It’s just always on the minds of the district. … I know that we have two very large high schools, and that’s a great thing. Everyone I talk to who isn’t familiar with Hoover City Schools, when they hear that we have 17 schools, their eyes get big. … It’s a big city — a growing city. I do feel like making sure there is always the best facilities and the best space for our students. RC3 [the Riverchase Career Connection Center] has been able to be a huge plus with regard to space issues, but … that would be something that needs to stay a part of the conversation.

Q: Do you think Hoover needs a third high school?

A: That is something that needs to remain a part of the discussion as this city continues to grow. … That discussion will take time.

Q: Do you have any thoughts in regard to building a third high school versus, say, rezoning to shift more students to the eastern side of town or something like that?

A: One good thing about Hoover is that we’ve done it all. We’ve built another high school, and we’ve also done rezoning. So those are two options I know our community can handle. Which one is better than the other, I don’t know because I’ve never been in that position to make that decision, so I would look to our community and reassure them that these are places we have been before, and we can manage through them again.

Q: One of the critical issues you mentioned in your application was staying strong in school safety. Do you want to elaborate a little bit on that?

A: I believe that we had an outstanding year in 2023 as a city, with our numbers [that] police released on crimes. We’ve done very well. I feel that school safety is one thing that parents think about daily. I was a parent that thought of it daily, and I want to assure parents that is one of the most important roles that our district leaders have is to reassure and provide what is needed for school safety. This has changed over time, but fortunately, we have had the resources and the support of the city and of the Hoover Police Department to meet the needs. I feel that is something we always need to make sure is a priority.

Q: You also mentioned that it’s important to continue making progress toward achieving unitary status in federal court and demonstrating fair treatment of all races of students. What do you think the district needs to do to achieve that?

A: Many people have not followed the unitary status case desegregation order, and I feel like I have followed it somewhat more closely because of the leadership roles that I’ve had as Hoover Parent Teacher Council president and then as executive director of the foundation. I feel that I know a lot, and I feel that I’ve read a lot, and I understand, but the path there — that is something I think I will learn more about as I take on this new

role. I think as long as we are on a path toward unitary status, that benefits everyone.

Q: Some parents have expressed concerns about teachers and schools pushing certain ideologies on students as it relates to things like critical race theory or gender issues, etc. Where do you stand on that?

A: As a parent, I’ve always wanted the very best education for my students, and as a community member, I still want that. As a board member, curriculum and decisions that get made at that level, that will be new for me. I’ve not been in a role where I’ve been a part of making those decisions. So where I stand is to be educated on where we are and how we work through making those decisions. Those are very passionate concerns, and I want to be sure that I am learning as much as I can about how well we are educating our students. … I think our school system is going to do what is the very best thing for students and always has and will continue to do so.

Q: Do you believe the Hoover school system needs more funding than it currently is getting? There has been much discussion about raising property taxes by 2.4 mills to get up to that cap of 75 mills for Hoover residents in Jefferson County.

A: As a fundraiser with the Hoover City Schools Foundation, there was always a need that we saw to give back into the classrooms, and the way we were able to do that was — when people understood where the money was going to go, they would give; they would donate. I realize that this is completely on a different level, and if people understand there’s a need — and I believe there are needs — they may be more willing to hear about it in a potential referendum. … As soon as I am able to have an active role on the school board, I will understand better where we lack. …There’s always going to be growing needs in public schools and funding, and that is something that I would definitely want to look at, understand it better.

Q: The Legislature has given Hoover approval to have this referendum. The school board would need to request a date officially from the council. Do you think that needs to be held anytime soon, or do you think it needs to be held at all?

A: Once I’m into this role and being trained and learning more, if I saw that there is a gap and it would benefit our students — if there was a particular population of students that needed the funding … I know we have increasing needs for special education, and that’s a wide range of students. If there’s a void there or something lacking there, … as a board member, I would have to understand the steps. I understand some steps have been taken and the rest of these steps need to be completed before it goes to a vote of the people. And that’s always good to let the voters vote. I believe that we would get an answer, and whether it be yes or no, we would have our answer. … I’ve got to learn how quickly you could make it happen.

Q: Is there anything you would like to see emphasized more in Hoover schools?

A: I think that Hoover City Schools has a great story to tell,

and I think that we need to tell our story more and get the good news out there about all the ways our students have achieved. Student achievement is something that we can truly brag on, and I feel like that through COVID, the amount of achievement that we saw in our students compared to other parts of the nation — it was amazing.

Q: What about in terms of anything in regard to curriculum — things that students need to be taught or know? Anything you would like to see emphasized more?

A: Being a civic volunteer — that’s always going to be something that I would hope that we could emphasize in the classroom. Volunteering and just understanding that part about being a community member, being able to truly understand how we have so much that we can do in our community, we can give back to our communities, and these things all do matter over time. I feel like civics is important. … I also want to see the opportunities for those students to really get involved in what they’re doing on their campus and in our community because all of that is very collective, and all of it does matter to generations and people down the road. I believe you can bring that into the curriculum in a variety of ways.

Q: If you could change one thing about Hoover City Schools, what would it be?

A: The one thing I’d like to see improved on, because we are so big and there are some needs, is having enough substitute teachers in our classrooms. I know that’s a challenge … when they have an absence and don’t have the subs in place. I don’t know the steps that need to be taken there, but that is something I would love to see handled and improved and changed.

Q: What would you like parents, students and residents of Hoover to know about you?

A: I want people to know that this is something I take seriously. Many of these roles I’ve had a chance to do within the school system, whether it’s the PTO role or fundraising role or this role, this has always been something that I have gladly put my energy into. … That’s what I know how to do is give 100% to things that are important, things that have a mission. And this is a huge mission to be a part of the Hoover City Schools district in a different role. This is something I want to be able to be positive and to add to it. I never want to take it away. I just want to be able to add to things and make things that much better. I want it for their kids as much as I want things for my children, and I want it for the city and for people to know that when they make a move to Hoover, that it’s a good move for them.

Q: Five years from now, when your term is over, what will you have wanted to accomplish in Hoover schools?

A: Telling our story, the student achievement story. I think one way to do that is through a physical annual report that is able to be distributed or given to those in the community or beyond our community. The other thing is that the time I spend in this role would be time that people can feel confident that I did my best … and that people would see a positive impact from my time spent on this school board.

A10 • June 2024 280 Living
Shelley Shaw, former executive director of the Hoover City Schools Foundation and newly appointed Hoover Board of Education member, at Aldridge Gardens. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney

4th Chelsea High School Hall of Fame class inducted

The Chelsea High School Student Government Association strives for their annual Hall of Fame ceremony to be an evening to recognize those who have played an integral part in shaping the school, community and culture.

“We, as a student government, firmly believe that commemorating individuals, past and present, for their service, outstanding achievement and character will be an integral part in shaping the future of our city and its overall image,” SGA President Madison Burton said.

On April 24 at Hargis Christian Camp, eight new members were welcomed into the 2024 Chelsea High School Hall of Fame.

This is the fourth Hall of Fame class, and the event was themed around “legacy.” Burton and President Pro Tempore Ava Morgan were freshmen when the Hall of Fame first began.

“There was a great combination of old Chelsea and new Chelsea, brought together by story after story of what makes this place special,” SGA faculty sponsor Ryan Adams said. “A legacy is not what you leave for people, a legacy is what you leave in people.”

The Student Impact inductee for this year was Vickey Bailey. She began her teaching career in 1977 at the YMCA and started working at Chelsea Park Elementary School after its opening in 2007. In 2019, Bailey was recognized as a top 16 finalist for Teacher of the Year for the state, before retiring in August 2020.

The Athletics inductee was Rick “Ricky” Yates. He has been connected to Chelsea High School for 50 years, including his years as a student, when he played running back for the Hornets varsity football team.

Yates was named Most Valuable Back during his varsity career, in addition to several team honors during those seasons.

The Community inductee was David “Hootie” Ingram. He graduated from Chelsea High School in 1991. He has worked with the UAB Department of Pediatrics since 1997 and is also a real estate agent. Ingram has served as the commissioner of Chelsea Youth Club, a Chelsea Baseball Club board member, a city council member and as announcer for the city’s local radio station, KOOL 96.9 FM.

The Academics inductee was Brian Brunson. He was a valedictorian for the graduating class of 1998 and a member of the varsity basketball team, SGA and Beta Club. He is currently a gastroenterologist with GastroHealth of Alabama and serves as the director of the division of gastroenterology at Grandview Medical Center.

The Faculty inductee was Cheryl Miller. She spent all 25-plus years of her public education career as a secondary science teacher at Chelsea schools, teaching everything from sixth grade science to AP chemistry. Miller also served as science department head and in faculty advisor roles over the years. After retiring from Chelsea High School, she taught a lab for pharmacy students at Samford University for 12 years.

The Heritage inductees were Richard and Sarah Conkle. Both graduated from Cedar Bluff High School in 1953. Richard joined the U.S. Marine Corps and later earned his teaching degree from Auburn University, while Sarah entered Alabama Polytechnic Institute to earn a teaching degree. They were both hired for the 1966-67 academic year at Chelsea High School, and they founded “The Letter Club” in their first year to serve CHS athletes. The Conkles taught at Chelsea High School and Chelsea Middle School for four decades.

– Submitted by Madison Burton.

U.S. News & World Report ranks Oak Mountain, Chelsea among top 25 high schools in state

Oak Mountain and Chelsea high schools both were ranked among the top 25 public high schools in Alabama, according to 2024 rankings released Tuesday by U.S. News & World Report.

Oak Mountain came in 10th in the state, and Chelsea was ranked No. 25.

U.S. News and World Report ranks schools based on college readiness; achievement on state

proficiency tests; graduation rates; percentage of students taking and passing Advanced Placement tests; and performance of Black, Hispanic and low-income students.

Oak Mountain, which ranked No. 974 nationally out of more than 25,000 public high schools, had 60% of students take at least one AP exam and 32% of students pass at least one AP exam, according to the magazine. Fifty-seven percent of Oak Mountain students were deemed proficient in

math, while 55% were deemed proficient in reading and 59% were deemed proficient in science.

Seventy-five percent of Oak Mountain students are white, while 25% are in minority groups and 22% are economically disadvantaged, according to the magazine.

Oak Mountain placed ninth in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report.

Chelsea, which ranked No. 2,233 nationally, had a 95% graduation rate and had 46% of

students take at least one AP exam and 28% of students pass at least one AP exam, according to the magazine. Forty-one percent of Chelsea students were deemed proficient in math, while 42% were deemed proficient in reading and 51% were deemed proficient in science.

Chelsea’s student body is 82.5% percent white, while 17.5% are in minority groups and 23% are economically disadvantaged, according to the magazine.

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Inductees of the 2024 Chelsea High School Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of Kolbe Hess.

Business Business Happenings


UAB Lee Branch Primary & Specialty Care recently opened in the Lee Branch shopping center on U.S. 280, 220 Doug Baker Boulevard, Suite 100. The clinic staff will see adult patients for non-emergency medical needs. Patients are seen Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-981-3040, uabmedicine.org

Mizzen+Main, a popular menswear retailer, opened last month at The Summit Birmingham. The store is known for its classic men's dress shirt but also carries other men's clothing and golf attire. Customers can stop by Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. 205-407-4188, mizzenandmain.com

Swarovski recently opened at the Summit Birmingham. The store offers the finest in crystal and created diamonds. They also specialize in jewelry, watches and other gifts. Shoppers can visit the store Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. 205-316-3254, swarovski.com

Refuel Bootcamp recently opened at 5479 Highway 280 W. Robert Bess is the owner. They are a fitness studio that primarily does group workouts including weightlifting, interval training, plyometrics, boxing and other exercises. 205-962-4195, birmingham.refuelbootcamp.com

Capstone Communities recently opened The Cottages at Greystone, a 189-unit development at 7273 Cahaba Valley Road. The community offers cottage apartments, each with a private fenced yard and one to three bedrooms, as well as one-bedroom lofts and carriage units. There also is a clubhouse, fitness center, pool, pavilions, grill stations, sidewalks and a dog park. The community was designed by Nequette Architecture & Design and built by CBI Construction Services. 205-722-1880, liveatthecottagesatgreystone.com

Mark Meadows, the owner/operator of the Chick-fil-A franchise in Inverness, on May 2 opened a second Chickfil-A location just down the street, at Inverness Corners at 5331 Valleydale Road. The new location is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Meadows said in a press release he plans to keep the other Inverness location open as well. The new location offers curbside pickup but doesn’t have a drive-thru. 205-963-0001, chick-fil-a.com/locations/al/ valleydale-in-line


The Laguna Beach jewelry company Gorjana will open at The Summit Birmingham soon. The company is known for gold jewelry crafted to layer, mix and match.

The store will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. 205-201-0094, gorjana.com

Construction has begun on the new location for Academy Sports and Outdoors in the River Ridge Shopping Center on U.S. 280. The store will open in the previous Best Buy location near Target. The previous Academy location, in the Lee Branch Shopping Center, closed its doors in 2019, leaving the Hoover location as the nearest store to U.S. 280 customers. academy.com

Waffle House is coming soon to Chelsea, off U.S. 280. The 24-hour diner will be on Atchison Drive, in front of the new La Quinta hotel and next to Arby's. Waffle House is known for golden waffles, a variety of omelets and other lunch and dinner options, served around the clock. wafflehouse.com


Real Broker, LLC, is excited to announce Connie Alexander Jacks as designated broker for Alabama. Connie has over 20 years of experience in residential and commercial sales, real estate management and brokerage ownership. She will assist agents in the state with all of their real estate-related concerns. luxebhm.com

Warren Averett was named a Most Prestigious Accounting Firm by Vault, a trusted authority in career intelligence resources for professionals and students. This is the third time that Warren Averett has been named to this list. The honor is determined by a survey given to accounting professionals about firms that they are familiar with. Warren Averrett is one of the largest accounting firms in the Southeast. warrenaverett.com

DEFY, at Tattersall Park, has now changed its name to Sky Zone. Sky Zone is a national chain of trampoline parks, and the company ensures customers that their current memberships, passes, gift cards and parties will still be valid. Sky Zone is open Sunday through Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. 205-775-0404, skyzone.com/birmingham-al

Capstone Building Corp., based in Meadow Brook Corporate Park at 1200 Corporate Drive, Suite 350, has begun construction on an 86-unit apartment community in Pensacola alongside developer Interlude Residential. The community will have two apartment buildings spanning 106,749 square feet and will include units with one to three bedrooms, a clubhouse, fitness center, co-working space, pool and pool house. The complex, unnamed as of late April, is expected to open in 2025. 205-803-5226, capstonebuilding.com

The Birmingham location of Cahaba Wealth Management, 3800 Colonnade Parkway, is proud to announce that Louis Williams, CPA, CFP, has been promoted to senior financial advisor. Williams has been with the company since 2018 and looks forward to helping lead the Birmingham office in addition to serving his clients. Cahaba Wealth Management is an independent investment management and financial planning company. 205-588-5167, cahabawealth.com


Kobe Floyd has joined RealtySouth's Inverness office at 109 Inverness Plaza, and Loren Stanhope has joined RealtySouth's Chelsea office at 331 Chelsea Corners Way, Suite 101. Both are Realtors. Kobe Floyd: 205-991-6565, Loren Stanhope: 205413-5259; realtysouth.com


The Air Experts is celebrating one year at 7154 Cahaba Valley Road. The heating and cooling company provides 24-hour emergency service, commercial and residential

heating and cooling service, repairs and maintenance. 205-882-4342, theairexperts.net

The Shoe Station, located in Brook Highland Plaza, has been open for one year now. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 205-773-2090, stores.shoestation.com

DSLD Land Management's AquaScapes has been open on U.S. 280 for five years. The water garden retail center offers customers a chance to browse their extensive showroom of fire pits, water gardens, fountains, aquatic plants, pond supplies and more. AquaScapes is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-437-1012, dsldland.com/aquascapes

Ace Hardware in Dunnavant Valley has been open at 300 Carlow Lane #108 for three years. The store is stocked with tools, home gardening supplies, home decor and more. Ace is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-980-7221, acehardware.com

BenchMark Physical Therapy has been open at 2659 Valleydale Road for two years. The clinic offers outpatient physical therapy for injury prevention, post-operative therapy after various orthopedic surgeries, concussion management and vestibular rehabilitation. The business is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-905-6922, benchmarkpt.com

Express MRI, in the Lee Branch shopping center at 250 Doug Baker Boulevard, Suite 100, is celebrating four years. The medical imaging center offers $499 MRIs without a doctor referral needed. Patients can receive a report within three to four business days. The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-834-8118, expressmri.com

The Summit location of Emmy Squared Pizza has been open for one year. The pizzeria offers Detroit-style pizza, sandwiches, brunch and more. Customers can dine Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and beginning at 10 a.m. on the weekends.

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

A12 • June 2024 280 Living

Groomed for success: Fancy Fur expands business after 16 years

Christine Sato and her sister Mary Woolbright have been taking care of dogs and cats for the past 16 years at Fancy Fur Pet Grooming & Boutique. After staying in the same location since they opened in 2008, Sato and Woolbright plan to open the doors of their new location, just a few miles down Valleydale Road in the Inverness Corners shopping center, on June 10. With 3,200 square feet of space, Fancy Fur will increase its space for retail products to 1,000 square feet and has put walls up to accommodate its grooming needs. Last June, the pair started looking for a new space and found the location next to Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

Woolbright is the head groomer and Sato handles the retail side of the business. There are seven other employees. Sato said that nothing will change about the business, but customers will see more food, household and gift items, such as mugs, picture frames, candles and treat jars, along with pet items like collars, leashes, toys and clothes. They will also be open on Saturdays.

“We want to be a one-stop shop option,” Sato said. “We wanted to step up to the next level and offer more retail, along with a self-serving dog washing service. We will still be a boutique but will have more food options for our clients.”

Specialty dog foods brands will include Orijen, Acana, Open Farm, The Honest Kitchen and Nutrisource. All of the treats sold at the store have limited ingredients, and wellness items include hip and joint, stress relievers, CBD and other calming options.

Sato added that not all dogs are comfortable with the spa experience, so she’s installing a selfserve wash for owners to be able to bathe their dogs themselves for $10. Fancy Fur uses only hypo-allergenic grooming products and have a variety of medicated shampoos to help dogs with skin issues.

Full grooming sessions are priced based on weight and hair length and includes a haircut, bath, hair fluffed and dried, nail trim, ear cleaning and gland expression. Mini grooms and baths are

“This is a family environment. We don’t look at you as a customer, and your dogs are a family to us. Our clients have gotten to know us, and we have loyal customers who trust us with their pets.


”also available. Walk-in services include nail trims, ear cleaning, gland expression and potty and face trims. While dogs are waiting to be groomed, they receive a walk, treats and water.

Sato said that she and Woolbright have been fortunate in their business and they enjoy working together as a team.

“What sets us apart is how we do things,” she said. “This is a family environment. We don’t look at you as a customer, and your dogs are a family to us. Our clients have gotten to know us, and we have loyal customers who trust us with their pets.”

One thing Sato is looking forward to in the new space is dedicating a room for nonprofit organizations to help animals find homes. She is involved in the Best Friends of Shelby Humane and hopes to become a satellite adoption site for them.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Sato said. “One of my goals, whether a permanent spot or not, is to be a rotating site for adoptions. Whatever I can do to help, I want to help.”

Grooming hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fancy Fur’s new location is at 1340 Inverness Corners. They can be reached by phone at 205-408-1693 or online at fancyfur pets.com.


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To schedule an appointment, call (205) 953-4338 or scan the QR code below.

280Living.com June 2024 • A13
Christine Sato and her sister, Mary Woolbright, are co-owners of Fancy Fur Pet Grooming & Boutique. The opening date of their new location in Inverness Corners is June 10 Photo courtesy of Christine Sato.

Medical care at a ‘Fast Pace’

In 2009, the first Fast Pace Urgent Care clinic opened in Collinwood, Tennessee, a town of less than 1,000 people. Its mission was to provide quality, affordable health care to people in small rural communities.

Fifteen years later, the clinic is now known as Fast Pace Health and offers both urgent and primary care in more than 265 locations throughout Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Chelsea recently became home to one of those clinics, which opened in front of the Publix shopping center on May 20.

Doug DeLoach, the senior regional director for Fast Pace Health, said that the decision to add primary care to its urgent care clinics has been a patient-driven process.

“Patients want to have quick access to primary care,” DeLoach said. “In the past, the availability of primary care services in underserved communities was much smaller than it needed to be.”

He said there are several factors that set Fast Pace apart from traditional walk-in clinics.

“We’re not just about urgent care; we look at the person as a whole,” DeLoach said. “We see people with complexities like hypertension and diabetes as well as comorbidities, and we make sure we go those extra miles to take care of them.”

Although Chelsea has expanded from a rural community to one of the fastest growing cities in the state, DeLoach said the new Fast Pace clinic meets a need not only among the town’s residents but in surrounding communities as well.

“Chelsea is a commuter area,” he said.” You have people coming from Westover and other places, so what we’re doing is opening before people have to be at work and staying open after

people get off from work,” he said. “You can also schedule an appointment online and complete the appropriate paperwork ahead of time.”

The Chelsea clinic will offer primary services including dermatology, orthopedic care, physical therapy and behavioral health services.

“We have therapists who can assess people for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression,” DeLoach said. “We want to make sure everyone has access to mental health providers and get the appropriate care.”

The Chelsea location is staffed with two

► Where: 361 Chelsea Crossroads, Suite A

► Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

► Call: 205-386-2057

► Web: fastpacehealth.com

physical therapists, three primary care providers and six clinical staff. For patients who cannot come to the clinic in person, they can use telemedicine for urgent care needs, prescriptions, primary care and behavioral health care.

“Especially since Covid, telemedicine has been a large component of our services,” DeLoach said. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Fast Pace accepts most major insurance as well as Medicare and Medicaid. For people without insurance, Fast-Pace has a Simple Self-Pay Program, where patients can pay a flat fee up front that takes care of all in-house testing and procedures.

“This offers peace of mind for those who don’t have insurance or don’t want to use their insurance,” DeLoach said.

Fast Pace Health now has 11 locations in Alabama, with 15 more opening this year, DeLoach said. By the end of the year, Fast Pace Health will have 300 locations in the Southeast.

“We’re very excited to bring Fast Pace Health to the Chelsea area and to provide quality health care to the people in the area,” DeLoach said.

The new clinic is located at 361 Chelsea Crossroads, Suite A. Hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 205-386-2057 or visit fastpace health.com.

A14 • June 2024 280 Living
Fast Pace Health opens new urgent care clinic in Chelsea
The new Fast Pace Health urgent care clinic in Chelsea opened May 20. Photo courtesy of Shelby County Chamber.
Pace Health
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Chick-fil-A opens Valleydale Road location

The new Chick-fil-A on Valleydale Road opened for business on May 2, a day that owner-operator Mark Meadows has been looking forward to.

“I began my career with Chick-fil-A while attending Samford University in Birmingham, and I am thrilled to continue serving my hometown in a greater capacity,” he said.

Meadows continued, “I have had the pleasure of owning and operating my own business here in the Birmingham area for the last 35 years, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to open a second restaurant, which will serve as a new and exciting challenge for me.”

In 1989, Meadows opened the first freestanding Chick-fil-A in the state.

“Since day one, my vision has been to serve the delicious food that our guests know and love while providing a warm and welcoming environment for everyone,” he said. “We want to continue creating a culture of genuine care and making a positive impact on everyone that we encounter, from our team members to guests. For me, this is the most rewarding part of being a local owner-operator and the impact that we can make in the community,”

Meadows has another connection to the franchise. His wife, Kim, is the great-niece of Chick-fil-A’s founder, S. Truett Cathy. Meadows’ new restaurant on Valleydale Road also connects to the company’s original roots — it doesn’t have a drive-thru.

“While we don’t have a drive-thru, we are excited to provide convenient options for our guests to dine in with us or place an order for pick-up via carry-out and curbside delivery,” Meadows said.

Meadows intends to hire 60 full-time and part-time employees at his Valleydale location, in addition to supporting the local community through philanthropic efforts that the brand is known for.

To mark the restaurant’s opening,

Chick-fil-A donated $25,000 to Feeding America to support local hunger relief efforts of the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. The Valleydale Road location will also participate in the Chick-fil-A Shared Table program, an initiative that redirects surplus food from the restaurant to local soup

kitchens, shelters, food banks and nonprofits in need.

“In celebration of our opening, we recognized 100 local firefighters and nonprofit leaders making a difference in the Hoover area by providing them with free Chick-fil-A entrees for a year. I can’t wait to continue giving back

to the community for many years to come,” Meadows said.

Operating hours are Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The new restaurant is located at 5331 Valleydale Road, in front of the Kohl’s in the Inverness Plaza shopping center.

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Chick-fil-A opened a new location on Valleydale Road on May 2. Photo by Sarah Gilliland.

Immigrant entrepreneur leads Hoover chamber for 2024

The Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce has had women leading its board and at least one Black business leader. This year, it has a chairman who was born in another country.

Rohen Porbanderwala, who was born in Mumbai, India, and emigrated to the United States in 2002, was elected chairman of the board for the Hoover chamber and began his term in January.

Porbanderwala owns the Lake Crest Chevron and nine other convenience stores in Alabama. When he came to the United States in 2002, he first moved to Atlanta. His family had been in the timber and hardware business in India, but he started working in a convenience store in Atlanta, he said.

When he and his wife had their first child in 2004, he decided it was time to make a move to increase their income. Someone told them about the Birmingham-Hoover area, and they had to look it up on a map to figure out where it was, Porbanderwala said.

They ended up buying the Lake Crest Chevron on John Hawkins Parkway and moving to Hoover. Initially, they lived along Lorna Road, but now they have a home in Ross Bridge.

Porbanderwala, who considers himself an entrepreneur and investor, personally manages the convenience store in Lake Crest and another in McCalla, but he also owns two more in Tuscaloosa and six in the Winfield/Guin area, he said.

He got involved with the Hoover chamber in 2007, briefly served as a chamber ambassador and now is in his fourth year on chamber’s board of directors and third year on the chamber’s Government Relations Committee.

He is a 2020 graduate of Leadership Hoover and 2021 graduate of the Small Business Administration Emerging Leaders program. He also just finished his sixth year on the board of the Alabama Merchants Association, serving this past year as vice president, and he has

served on the Hoover Board of Zoning Adjustment for about 1½ years. He has been a volunteer for the United Way’s Meals on Wheels program since 2020, working out of the Hoover Senior Center, he said.

Since becoming chairman of the chamber, “it’s been a good ride so far,” Porbanderwala said.

The chamber has retained The Chason Group to help find its next president and CEO after

Toni Herrera-Bast resigned in November to take a job with the FBI. Porbanderwala said the chamber’s board hoped to have a new president and CEO by the end of May.

“We’re not trying to get an office manager,” he said. “We want a next-level CEO who knows and understands Hoover — the diversity, the Elevate Hoover project we’re into — understands all the facets of running a chamber.”

Tom Micelotta, whom the board had hired as a consultant to help with its Elevate Hoover visioning and fundraising project, has been doing a phenomenal job as interim president and CEO, Porbanderwala said.

The Elevate Hoover campaign is in its first of five years. The goal is to raise $3 million over five years, and as of early May the chamber was at about 65% of its $600,000 goal for this year, Porbanderwala said.

The board hired a new part-time events coordinator, Jessica Armstrong, a few months ago. The chamber is trying to make itself more available to all businesses by making all events except chamber luncheons free to attend, Porbanderwala said. In the past, non-members were charged to attend events such as Coffee & Contacts and After Hours events, he said.

The board also has tried to re-energize its ambassador program (now with about 25 ambassadors) and is trying to enhance its small business programming through a partnership with the Small Business Administration, he said. To help foster more economic growth, the chamber is hiring a marketing and branding company to rebrand the city and build a more robust website, Porbanderwala said.

This December, the board plans to hold a new event — a black-tie annual meeting and gala to review the past year and present a new slate of officers for the following year.

So far, this year has been productive, with 80 new members joining since January and the retention rate for renewal memberships increasing by 30%, Porbanderwala said. The chamber had 1,075 members as of early May.

Great ideas often occur in the most comfortable of settings, and Bellini’s is no exception. With that in mind, in 2008, after discussing ideas over a bottle (or 2) of wine, the concept of Bellinis was formed.

Come relax, enjoy your own glass of wine among friends, and see where your discussions take you.

Bellinis is Birmingham’s only Italian Infused Steakhouse featuring the highest quality steaks hand-cut for perfection and grilled over our wood burning grill, house made pastas, seafood, and classic Italian dishes.

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A16 • June 2024 280 Living
Rohen Porbanderwala speaks to guests at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce stateof-the-city luncheon after being introduced as the new chamber board chairman at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel.
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The husband-and-wife Realtor team Steven and Connie Jacks plan to showcase what they love about the area they call home when they are featured on the HGTV show “The American Dream.”

The show will debut the Jacks’ episodes, which will feature homes along the U.S. 280 corridor and surrounding areas, in June.

“Steven and I live in Greystone, but we absolutely love the golf course communities,” Connie Jacks said. “I have the CLHMS [Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist] GUILD designation, and while we serve every price point, our brand and luxury homes are our specialty.”

The Jacks are with the Luxe Group. They were selected to be on the show with a handful of other agents throughout Birmingham after submitting their application and social media accounts.

“The American Dream” is a national TV show where local real-estate professionals are chosen to act as hosts. The show uses positive media about local neighborhoods to educate and engage viewers about the lifestyle and culture of communities across the country.

“We are so blessed to call Birmingham home, and while it is the best-kept secret in the South, we would love to bring more of a spotlight on the beautiful people, communities and opportunities Birmingham provides,” Connie Jacks said. “We have such a cool opportunity to help people in and around Birmingham with one of the largest purchases of their life, and we take that very seriously.”

Jacks said one of the things she loves about living along U.S. 280 is the convenience to shopping, cuisine and specialty stores. While the husband and wife have been shooting their own videos as part of their realty business for years, being on HGTV is a new and exciting opportunity for them.

“This isn’t a show about Steven and Connie or how great we are, although we are pretty

awesome at what we do,” Connie Jacks said.

“This is a show about The Magic City and what makes it special and why so many people keep coming to Birmingham to call it home. We will put all of our focus on the places that have captured our hearts in hopes that the viewers will understand how special it truly is.”

The Jacks said they enjoy working together and each have their own unique strengths to

make a successful team that has closed more than 650 homes together.

“Steven and I have completely different strengths when it comes to our clients,” Connie Jacks said. “He is a magnificent negotiator, and should be since he has his juris doctorate degree from Birmingham School of Law. He also loves to keep our clients laughing, and his love for life is infectious. I am obsessed with the details. The processes, systems, numbers

and details are my cup of tea, so ultimately we connect at the highest level with our clients.” Filming for the show will begin in May. Episodes of “The American Dream” can be found on HGTV, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Travel Channel, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and ROKU.

For more information on specific episodes that will air at a future date, visit theamerican dreamnetwork.vhx.tv. 5299 Valleydale Road Suite 111 Birmingham, AL 35242 (two blocks from 280) 205-980-9030

Business networking at The Shelby County Chamber works! At my very first event, before I even decided to invest in the Chamber, I met someone who was looking for locksmith services. Then, at my second event I made even more potential business contacts, I would not have made elsewhere. We know we won’t get a contract every time where at a Shelby County Chamber event, but feel positive that the business contacts we do make will more than pay for our annual investment. If you’re a small business in Shelby County, and you’re looking to grow your business, investing in this Chamber may be one of the best decisions you make.

For more information on how your business can benefit by investing in The Shelby County Chamber,

280Living.com June 2024 • A17
Realtors hope to showcase Southern charm on HGTV show
The husband-and-wife Realtor team Steven and Connie Jacks were chosen to host episodes of HGTV's “The American Dream” that focus on Birmingham. Photo courtesy of Connie Jacks.
info@shelbychamber.org – 205-663-4542 1301 County Services Drive Pelham, AL 35124 205-663-4542 shelbychamber.org How My Chamber Investment Works for Me Michelle Harrell Co-Owner, LockCorp, Inc. 205-565-7339 • lockcorpinc.com
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CONTINUED from page A1


If you haven’t picked up a pickleball paddle yet but have been wanting to, now is a great time — and the number of courts is constantly growing. You can find them in neighborhoods, parks and churches, and many are open to the public, including Veterans Park in Hoover, which has eight new outdoor courts.

The Chelsea Community Center also has courts. A beginner lesson is required to play leagues and open play. The cost is $10 for a group lesson, $20 for semi-private and $25 for private. Registration is required and can be completed at Chelsea Community Center. For questions, call 205-677-2052.


With summer heating up, it’s the perfect time to get the kids out to try the Splash Pad at Melrose Park, located behind the Chelsea Community Center. It offers inclusive play for all ages and ability levels and is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. Wristbands are $2 and are good for the entire day.

For more information, visit cityofchelsea. com or call 205-677-7040. Other splash pad options are located in Pelham and Hoover.


Oak Mountain State Park is home to approximately 25 miles of horseback riding trails, with more being added. Some of the trails travel along the edge of the lake, some are in the valley's lush hardwood forest and others travel the pine-studded ridges. Bring your own horse or visit The Rusted Roof Barn for guided trail rides and horseback riding lessons. Visit alapark.com for more information.


Hoover, North Shelby, Mt Laurel and Chelsea libraries will each have their own summer reading program. Hoover kicks off its program on May 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. with family crafts and games. North Shelby Library will have early

registration for summer reading from May 28 to June 2. Chelsea Library’s registration begins May 29. Mt Laurel will host a summer reading kickoff party on May 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. Visit hooverlibrary.org, northshelbylibrary.org or cityofchelsea.com/calendar for information on your local library’s program.


Shelby County is home to miles and miles of hiking and biking trails. You can visit Dunnavant Valley Park, Double Oak Park, and Oak Mountain State Park and Veterans Park on Valleydale Road, all on the north side of the county. Check this list for more options in the area: shelbyal.com/878/Trails.


There’s a lot more to do than walking or running the 5K cross-country trail at the 82-acre Veterans Park in Hoover. The park features playgrounds, beach volleyball courts, two pavilions, a lake, pond, playground, eight new pickleball courts and an outdoor gym. Bring a pole and go fishing or enjoy a family picnic. For more details, visit hooveral.org/677/Veterans-Park.

Users ages 16-64 need a valid hunting, heritage, fishing or WMA license to shoot. Visit alapark. com to learn more.


Beat the summer heat by spending some time on the water.

A short drive away is Cahaba River Park in Helena. Outdoor activities at the park include canoeing/kayaking, fishing, hiking and walking trails, mountain biking and swimming. More details are available at alabamaforeverwild.com.

Oak Mountain State Park offers two sandy beaches for visitors to enjoy, one located on Terrace Drive and another off of Double Oak Lake. Flipside Watersports, located at the park’s Alabama 119 entrance, features wakeboarding, an inflatable aquapark, vessel rentals and more. See flipsideal.com for more information.

Guided canoe trips can be booked with the Cahaba River Society by going to cahabariver society.org/canoe.



If you prefer to do some climbing indoors, visit High Point Climbing & Fitness in Inverness, which features 25,000 square feet of indoor rope climbing and bouldering. There is even a Kid Zone for young climbers. They also offer yoga and fitness classes and birthday parties. Visitors can purchase day passes, but summer camps and memberships are also available. For more information, go to highpointclimbing.com.


There are several places you can try out your skills with a bow this summer around the U.S. 280 corridor. Chelsea Archery Park offers beginner and intermediate archery classes for ages 9 and older and is open seven days a week. For more information, visit cityofchelsea.com/356/ Archery.

A community archery park is also located inside Oak Mountain State Park. The archery park is open year-round during daylight hours for recreational shooting, competitive tournaments and outdoor educational programming.

The Shelby Arts Council will offer a variety of summer classes for kids, including musical theater camp and an art camp. There are also options for adult classes. See more at shelbycountyartscouncil.com/classes.

Painting with a Twist, located in the Lee Branch shopping center, also offers painting classes for all ages. Check their online calendar at paintingwithatwist.com.


The Shelby Arts Council has several concerts lined up this summer at its Song Theater in Columbiana, including Sean of the South’s “On Air” series. Find dates and times at shelbycountyartscouncil.com.

Oak Mountain Amphitheater has announced their lineup of summer shows that include: 21 Savage, Hootie & the Blowfish, Third Eye Blind, Barbie: The Movie in Concert, Limp Bizkit, Creed, Train, Live and more. Visit oakmountainamp.com/shows for show dates and tickets.

Old Town Live in Helena has several shows this season including Lauren Alaina / Chase Wright, Celebrate America with Drivin N Cryin and The Vegabonds.

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Dax Bishop moves across a bridge on the obstacle course at the inflatable aquapark located off Alabama 119 at Oak Mountain State Park. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

“Each of them, I can assure you, means as much as any other because each symbolizes a different relationship that is built,” Adams said. “Each educator is initially drawn to the profession because they maintain a certain passion for the subject they teach.

Notwithstanding that fact, I came to realize long ago that I am not a teacher of American history, I am a teacher of students. History is merely the means to do that.”

Adams said that in most jobs, proficiency is determined by measurable outcomes, but as a teacher, it’s not that simple.

“Ours is determined by indicators, and I see each of those students [and the ‘apple’ from them] as my indication that despite my faults, I have done something right and that who I am and how I am made a lasting impression,”

Adams said.

Olivia Garrett was one of the students who presented a Golden Apple to Adams.

“Coach Adams demonstrated a profound commitment to my academic growth,” Garrett said. “He went above and beyond what he had to do. His help and guidance went beyond the classroom. Not only did he provide assistance during the school year, but he also generously offered his help with a government course I took over the summer through Auburn University. He was pivotal in helping me craft a speech for a leadership program I'm involved in, in hopes of receiving a scholarship.”

Patrick Garrett said that Adams has been a strong mentor to him since his sophomore year of high school, when Adams was his AP U.S. History teacher.

“In just two years, Coach Adams showed me what it means to be a

strong leader, and a better man. He provided me with the opportunity to grow who I was in order to shape who I am today; he was there helping me each step along the way. For this, I am beyond grateful,” Garrett said.

Adams was also the recipient of another student award. Last year, the Chelsea Student Government Association established the Julie Yeager Award, which the entire senior class awards to one teacher who impacted the class as a whole. Yeager was a teacher at Chelsea Middle School who passed away in December 2020.

“I never knew Julie personally, but I know what she meant to students who had her, and I knew the honor an award with her namesake would bring,” Adams said. “I was truly touched to receive this year's award from this class.”

He said there is always an attachment when you see a reflection of yourself in the students you teach, and these outgoing seniors have left a legacy in him.

“I want to make them as proud as they make me,” he said. “All of our footsteps will be erased one day, with time. The meaning of these awards is that sometimes, I suppose, our footsteps will make a lasting imprint.”

Shannon Acton, who teaches Pre-AP chemistry and AP chemistry at Chelsea High, said that the school system is filled with many fantastic teachers, and she was surprised to receive eight Golden Apples this year, taking her total to 40 during her six years of teaching.

“After the initial shock, I felt pure joy. It made me feel like the luckiest teacher ever,” Acton said. “My students mean so much to me, and it is an incredible honor to be chosen for such a meaningful award. Teaching is a difficult job that constantly makes you think, ‘Am I doing enough for my students?’”

Acton said she loved hearing all the speeches during the ceremony to learn what students identified as impactful for them during high school. She said one of her main goals is to have students feel comfortable in her classroom environment so that they can successfully learn. That includes playing light music and welcoming interaction and communication throughout each lesson, she said.

“These interactions have helped me get to know my students better and learn about their future goals, which include science-related careers in nursing, surgery and


► Perry Lawley (3) from Luke Wilson, Lauren McGhee and Elizabeth Moreland

► Toni Motley (3) from Jack Davis, Melah Vail and Maddox Michael

► Courtney Bessemer (2) from Jamie Holsombeck and Lauren Rawls

► Heath Butler (2) from Logan Sanders and Landon Keith

► Adam Oliver (2) from Emily Nabors and Krista Ordes

► Karen Pruitt (2) from Hallie Claire Haisten and Paige Bunyard

► Deana Rizzo (2) from Zander Horton and Marshall Puckett

► Emily Heisler (2) from Ann Thomas Crawford and Brock Marlow

engineering,” she said.

Acton said that this senior class has helped shape her into the teacher she is today, and she is appreciative that she got to be their teacher.

“They are fun and goofy, but they are also passionate and hardworking,” Acton said. “I am so proud of this group of students and know they have some bright futures ahead of them.”

Several teachers received multiple Golden Apple awards, including:

► Shannon Acton (8) from Zoe Walker, Spencer Bausch, Carrie Foster, Mason Parker, Brody Wesson, Olivia Walker, Landon Jackson and Maddox Aycock

► Walter Ryan Adams (8) from Madeline Epperson, Patrick Garrett, Madison Burton, Claire King, Wyatt Coolidge, Zachary Townsend, Carter Abrams and Olivia Garrett

► Andrea Maddox (7) from Theresa Nguyen, Cassidy Reynolds, Isabella Robertson, Daisy Mitchell, Cameron Roberts and Vivian Barrett

► Kyla Kortright (5) from Noah Pontius, June Price, Kayley McEachin, Brook Tadeo-Orozco and Helen Jiminez

► Jennifer VanOekel (5) from Evan Dong, Anderson Brooks, Jordyn Eldridge, Alana McCulla and Blair

► Adam Lawrence (2) Isabella Brouillette and Isabelle Seymour

► Other teachers who received a Golden Apple included: Vickey Bailey (Zachary Davis), Kylee Berggren (Alyssa Latham), Vickie Birdsong (Anna Reed), Adria Bizjak (Elias Serrano), Twila Burdette (Kristen Willis), Sarah Cobb (Natalie Bugg), David Collins (Logan Moller), Jacob Cooley (Jillian Webster), Barbara Cunningham (Bay Brush), Stephanie Driscoll (Savannah Clayton), Farrah Fowler (Ellen McKinney), Shannon Galamore (Sarah Fayard), Sara Gallman (Nate Ngo), Stacy Garrett (Jasmin Perez Enriquez), Allison Gooch (Anna Nettuno), Monica Gordon (Hannah Dempsey), Lori Gossett (Lawrence Carbonie), Ray Haley (Carter Parrish), Amy Hann (Zachariah Edwards), Jason Harlow (Baylor McCluney), Robert Kirk (Melora Cargile), Heather Lee (Skyelar Hunt), Rebecca Newman (Mary Kendyl Dojonovic), Dylan Seabolt (Owen Key), Cindy Smith (Summer Swindle), Frankie Stroud (Hannah Bousman), Leigh Sullivan (Samantha Sutton), Katie Thompson (Sydney Smith), Ami Wicks (Isaiah Ziegert), Jesse Williams (Mara Paulk) and Kathleen Zackery (Savannah Bailey).

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Left: Andrea Maddox receives Golden Apple Awards from 2024 seniors. Right: Toni Motley with the seniors who selected her for the Golden Apple award. Photos courtesy of Iron City Studios.
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Kisor takes reins of Jags volleyball

Spain Park High School has hired a volleyball coach on the rise, with the hopes that he can keep the Jags at a prestigious level.

Justin Kisor has been selected as the new Spain Park volleyball coach, coming to the Jags following four years at Fort Payne. He led the Wildcats to the Class 6A state tournament in 2023, taking the program from 18 wins in his first year to 38 last year.

“That’s always been a school we’ve wanted to get to,” Kisor said of Spain Park. “It is a premier spot in Alabama and volleyball and is a top program. … When the opportunity arose, it was something we couldn’t say no to.”

Previous Jags coach Kellye Bowen recently took a job at Jasper High, a homecoming of sorts for her. In her 10 years at Spain Park, she built the program into a perennial contender and won the 7A state championship in 2021.

“My vision for Spain Park is to carry on what Kellye did a great job at, having a tradition and a winning program. We want to see if we can take it to new heights,” Kisor said. “The Lord has blessed us tremendously with having success everywhere, and we want to continue that. We want it to be the best program in the state.”

Kisor, a Glencoe graduate, was first introduced to indoor volleyball by helping his cousin at Cedar Bluff High. That turned into a job as the head coach at Faith Christian, where he coached for three years and made a trip to the state final four.

Kisor then took a job at Pell City, but he never coached a match there because an opportunity arose at Fort Payne for him and his , Ashley, who played volleyball at Snead State and has helped him coach at each stop along the way.

He has been tasked with building programs

in his previous stops, but Kisor inherits one on solid footing at Spain Park.

“We don’t have to come in here and redo anything or rewrite the script of what’s been going on,” he said. “We’ll just throw some of our spice and add some to it and hope that’s a winning combination.”

In 2023, Bowen’s Jags started slow, but the team gradually improved throughout the year and peaked at the end. They ended up winning

the Area 6 tournament and ultimately advancing to the state tournament.

“Nobody thought we would do what we did,” Bowen said. “We had just graduated eight seniors and two All-Americans, so this was supposed to be a rebuilding year. I refuse that, because I’m extremely competitive.”

Kisor hopes to continue that competitive level at Spain Park by “going about it the right way.”

“Doing things the right way, working hard,

being a good teammate and being a good person. That’s going to be the biggest thing for us early on is them trusting me and Ashley. If we can build that trust, that’s a winning formula,” he said.

Kisor said he knew a few of the Spain Park players before taking the job and was eager to get going. Once the month of June arrives, it will be full speed ahead.

The 2024 season begins in late August.

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Justin Kisor, Spain Park High School’s new volleyball coach, with his family, from left: Layla Kirby, wife Ashley and baby Millie. Photo courtesy of Justin Kisor.

Nearly 75% of the U.S population will break out into a rash when exposed to poison ivy. If left untreated, the rash can be unbearably itchy. While your primary care physician may want to prescribe a corticosteroid to address the symptoms, there are much safer treatments you may begin at home that don’t come with a slew of side effects.

To start, learn to recognize the common rash causing plants. The old-adage, “leaves of three, let them be,” is helpful to identifying poison ivy and poison oak, however, poison sumac grows with seven to 13 leaves on a stem. If concerned, consider speaking with your local gardening shop or using online resources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, or the National Audubon Society Native Plants Database to know what these plants look like. Here, the poison ivy plant typically has small hairs on the leaves and grows on rope-like vines up trees but, may also be on the ground. They have three shiny, green leaves that turn red in the fall. Despite the change in color in the fall, the leaves still contain the oil that causes the rash, FYI.

For most, a skin rash from the oils of poison ivy is how it starts. This oil is in

the flowers, stem, leaves and roots. It takes very little of the oil to cause the reaction and the oil remains active in the plant long after the plant has died. Exposure to an amount less than a grain of salt may cause a significant reaction if you are highly allergic. The rash typically begins in the first 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the plant, or any piece of clothing, lawn equipment or pet on which the oil has been deposited. While poison ivy is not truly contagious, if you touch someone who has the oil on their skin, it transfers to your skin too.

Frequently, within a couple of hours of contact, symptoms may appear on the area of skin exposed to the oil, and any other areas to which the oil transferred. Symptoms are redness, itching, swelling, blisters, etc. Strive to exercise self-control from scratching the rash. The bacteria under your nails can infect the broken skin caused by the blisters which leads to another set of problems. Keep the area clean with soap and water to reduce the potential for infection. In most cases, you can treat your poison ivy at home, unless you know you have inhaled in the plant’s oil that had been burned. If that’s the case, see your doctor as this situation can be very serious.

Once exposed and the poison ivy rash has started, consider using natural products

Poison Ivy Treatments 101

to help reduce the swelling, itching and pain without resorting to over-the-counter medications. Try a combination of the following at home remedies to address each of the different symptoms to help heal faster, relieve pain and reduce the itching.

1. Remove the oil by using alcohol wipes. This removes the oil from your skin if you don’t have immediate access to soap, water and a washcloth. Wipe every area that may have contacted the plant. Another option to remove the oil is the juice from a fresh lemon.

2. For the itching and inflammation, cold compresses may help soothe the skin and reduce discomfort. Also, baking soda in a lukewarm bath is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation.

3. The rash is very itchy, refrain from scratching as much as possible as mentioned above. The bacteria under your nails may trigger a skin infection. If the blisters from the rash do break open, leave them alone and cover them to prevent infection and sharing.

4. Reduce the reaction by using a paste, made from bentonite clay and water. Cover the area where you first notice the rash. This may reduce the reaction your skin experiences, and therefore your symptoms. Bentonite clay is a natural clay that may be purchased online or at your local health food store.

5. To speed up the healing, soak a paper bag in chilled apple cider vinegar and lay it across the rash. This will also help to reduce the itch as the vinegar helps to speed healing of the rash.

6. To cool the burning sensation over the rash area, use the gel from an aloe vera plant. This remedy is my favorite. This may help cool the burn from the rash in much the same way it helps sooth. It’s also good to know, that if left untreated, poison ivy will self-resolve spontaneously within two to three weeks should you wish to ride it out. At the end of the day, living life wide open while we still can, is so important. Therefore, this summer, get outside more, enjoy the sounds and wonder of nature yet be smart, be ready and disconnect.

B2 • June 2024 280 Living
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By the numbers: April 2023 vs. 2024

Recently sold homes along U.S. 280 Corridor

► ADDRESS: 5056 Greystone Way

► BED/BATH: 5/4.5



► LIST PRICE: $1,249,900 ► SALE PRICE: $1,225,000

► ADDRESS: 212 Shore Front Lane

► BED/BATH: 4/4.5

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,490 sq. ft.

► NEIGHBORHOOD: Lakewood Estates in Chelsea

► LIST PRICE: $569,900

► SALE PRICE: $559,900

► ADDRESS: 2468 Oneal Way ► BED/BATH: 4/4 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,681 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: Kirkman Preserve in Hoover ► LIST PRICE: $699,900

SALE PRICE: $735,000



SQUARE FOOTAGE: 4,640 sq. ft.

LIST PRICE: $699,900

$365,000 ► ADDRESS: 2800 Regency Court ► BED/BATH: 4/4.5


SALE PRICE: $695,000

► ADDRESS: 319 Hunter Hills Circle

► BED/BATH: 4/2 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,219 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: Hunter Hills in Chelsea ► LIST PRICE: $335,000

SALE PRICE: $335,000


B4 • June 2024 280 Living Real Estate
Eagle Ridge Drive ► BED/BATH: 3/2.5 ► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,613 sq. ft. ► NEIGHBORHOOD: Eagle Ridge ► LIST PRICE: $365,000
Note: Data provided by the Greater Alabama Multiple Listing Service on May 7, 2024

Vacation Bible School roundup

Local churches are gearing up to host their Vacation Bible Schools this summer. Here’s a look at some events taking place at churches along the U.S. 280 corridor.


► Where: 6690 Cahaba Valley Road

► Dates: June 24-27

► Time: 8:30 a.m. to noon

► Theme: Start the Party – Celebrate the good news!

► Ages: Rising kindergartners through 6th graders

► Cost: $5 fee (includes a T-shirt, snacks and craft supplies)

► Register: asburybham.org/kids/vbs


► Where: 5091 Caldwell Mill Road

► Dates: June 3-6

► Time: 9 a.m. to noon

► Theme: Scuba – Diving into friendship with God

► Ages: 4 through completed 5th grade

► Cost: Free

► Register: christchurchbham.com/ vbs2024


► Where: 3039 Brook Highland Parkway

► Dates: June 3-7

► Time: 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

► Theme: Scuba – Diving into friendship with God

► Ages: 3 years old through 5th grade

► Cost: Free

► Register: vbspro.events/p/cbkvbs24


► Where: 101 Chelsea Park Drive

► Dates: June 10-13 (June 9, 5-6:30 p.m., is family preview night)

► Time: 9 a.m. to noon

► Theme: Scuba – Diving into friendship with God

► Ages: Rising 1st-6th graders

► Cost: Free; an optional $10 T-shirt will be available for purchase

► Register: docc.org/events


► Where: 115 Olmsted St.

► Dates: June 10-14

► Time: 9 a.m. to noon

► Theme: Scuba – Diving into friendship with God

► Ages: Rising 1st-6th graders

► Cost: Free, an optional $10 t-shirt will be available for purchase

► Register: vbspro.events/p/ doubleoakmtl24


► Where: 11050 Chelsea Road, Chelsea

► Dates: June 3-7

► Time: 9 a.m. to noon

► Theme: Scuba – Diving into friendship with God

► Ages: 3 years old through 5th grade

► Cost: Free ► Register: lbcchelsea.churchcenter.com /registrations/events


► Where: 4984 Meadow Brook Road

► Dates: June 3-7

► Time: 9 a.m. to noon

► Theme: Breaker Rock Beach

► Ages: Kindergarten through completed 5th grade

► Cost: Free

► Register: meadowbrookbaptist.org


► Where: 4100 Belcher Drive

► Dates: June 3-7

► Time: To be determined

► Theme: Breaker Rock Beach

► Ages: Rising 1st-6th graders

► Cost:

► Register: northshelbybaptist.org/ childrens-ministry


► Where: 5080 Cahaba Valley Trace

► Dates: June 3-7

► Time: 9 a.m. to noon

► Theme: Scuba – Diving into friendship with God

► Ages: Rising kindergarteners through 6th graders

► Cost: Free

► Register: ompc.churchcenter.com/ registrations


► Where: 7340 Cahaba Valley Road

► Dates: June 17-21

► Time: 9 a.m. to noon

► Theme: A Radical Ride On The Wings Of Prayer … With Amazing Angels And Super Saints

► Ages: N/A

► Cost: $35 for first child and $30 for each additional

► Register: vbspro.events/p/ events/d7a4a1


► Where: 2324 Valleydale Road

► Dates: June 3-7

► Time: 9 a.m. to noon

► Theme: Breaker Rock Beach

► Ages: Pre-K through 5th grade

► Cost: Free

► Register: valleydale.org/events

280Living.com June 2024 • B5
Various places of worship along the U.S. 280 corridor are holding Vacation Bible Schools this summer. Staff photo. After School Care Registration Now OPEN for 2024-2025 School Year For students attending Shelby County Schools in grades K-5 and PreK students attending schools that offer a PreK program. ASCP Program operates M-F 3-6 p.m. Activities include: Playground time Snack Gym Time Arts and Crafts Games Homework Time Enrichment classes (for additional cost) $75 Registration Fee Monthly Fee for K-5 $240 (Full Pay Lunch) $200 (Employees) $180 (F/R Lunch) Monthly Fee PreK: $250 (Full Pay Lunch) $210 (Employee) $190 (F/R Lunch) For more information visit our
listed below: Register Online: www.ezchildtrack.com/scscomed/parent https://www.shelbyed.k12.al.us/o/scs/page/ community-education-ascp Registration will close
Parent Information Guide on
once a site has reached capacity (which varies by site).

280 corridor events guide

Saturdays: Mt Laurel Farmers Market. 8 a.m. to noon. Town of Mt Laurel, Manning Place. Stop by on Saturday mornings during the summer months to sample a variety of goods from local farmers and vendors, with fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade salsas, jellies, breads, honey, artisan-made crafts and more. Find “Mt Laurel Farmers Market” on Facebook.

June 1: Chelsea Community Christian Outreach Food Pantry. 10 a.m. to noon. Chelsea Church of Christ, 10724 Chelsea Road. For more information, visit “Chelsea Community Christian Outreach” on Facebook.

June 9: Sean of the South “On The Air” Series 2024. 4-6 p.m. Song Theater, 105 West College St., Columbiana. A summer series of live-broadcast performances by Sean Dietrich and special guests. Tickets are $30, plus tax. shelbycountyartscouncil.com/events.

June 10-13: Princess Camp. 10-11:15 a.m. Iron City Dance Factory, 7350 Cahaba Valley Road, Suite 103. Ages 2-5. ironcitydance.com.

June 10-13: The Eras Camp. 10 a.m to noon. Iron City Dance Factory, 7350 Cahaba Valley Road, Suite 103. Ages 8-13. ironcitydance.com.

June 17-21: Mason Music Camp for Beginners. 8:30-11:30 a.m. Mason Music Greystone Studio, 5406 U.S. 280 E. Ages 6-9. Campers are given the opportunity to sing and play the guitar, piano, drums and ukulele. $235 per student. masonmusic.com/ group-programs/music-camps.

June 20: Strawberry Full Moon Paddle. 8-10 p.m. Oak Mountain State Park, Flip Side Watersports, 100 Terrace Drive, Pelham. The marina will stay open late to allow guests the chance to see the full moon rise over the mountain from the water. Vessel rental starts at $20 per hour and ends at 9 p.m. For more information, visit “Flip Side Watersports” on Facebook.

June 22-23: Mountain Wake Games. 8 a.m. Oak Mountain State Park, Flip Side Watersports,100 Terrace Drive, Pelham. A twoday wakeboard event. Entry fees for contestants start at $50. For more information, or to register, visit flipsideal.com/mwg.

June 28-29: Liberty Day Festival. Columbiana. Festivities will begin Friday night with music on South Main Street. Saturday will offer food, arts and crafts vendors, kids activities and more. Country music artist Drake White will perform on Saturday, along with fireworks to end the night. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs. For more information, visit facebook.com/LibertyDayFestival.

June 29: Chelsea Fest and The Big Kaboom. 6 p.m. Field across from the Winn-Dixie shopping center, Chelsea. A night of fun, fireworks and 4th of July festivities. Music from Monsters of Yacht will begin at 7 p.m., with fireworks beginning at 9 p.m. Food trucks and vendors will be on-site for the event. Visit chelseafest.com.

North Shelby Library

Register for programs at northshelbylibrary.org. Library will be closed Sundays from June 2 through Aug. 11.


Ongoing: Read Your Way Through Pre-K. Infants to age 5. Sign up in person in the Children’s Department, and then track all books read anywhere with your child.

Through July 12: Summer Reading Bingo Challenge. All ages. No registration.

Tuesdays: Tuesday Crafternoons. 2-4:30 p.m.

Wednesdays: Storytime Friends. 10:30 a.m.

June 1: Summer Reading Kick Off — Nature On Wheels. 11 a.m.

June 3-21: Virtual LEGO Competition. All ages. Registration required.

June 3-July 12: Bookmark Contest. All ages.

June 3: Miss Calliope — “From Soil to the Stars.” 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. All ages.

June 4: Baby Tales. 10:30 a.m. Infant to 18 months.

June 6: Family Fun Night — Teddy Bear Camp Out. 6 p.m. All ages. Registration required. June 8 y 11: La Hora del Cuentos. 10:30 a.m.

June 10: The Mr. Larry Magic Show. 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. All ages. Mr. Larry’s Magic Show has a little bit of everything: magic, puppets, balloons and fun.

June 11: Jan the Science Lady — Adventures in Science. 11 a.m. All ages.

June 13 and 25: Family Fun Night: Make Your Own Plushy Pal. 6 p.m. All ages. Registration required.

June 17: Animal Tales: Animal Alliances. 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. All ages.

June 20: Family Fun Night — PJ Storytime. 6 p.m. All ages.

June 24: TomFoolery — Juggling Extravaganza. 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. All ages.


Tuesdays: Tuesday Tech. 2 p.m. Ages 8-17. Registration required.

June 5: Tween Interactive Bee Class with Foxhound Bee Company. 2 p.m.

June 12: An Adventurous Writing Workshop with Author Emma Fox. 2 p.m.

June 19: Tween Pizza and Painting. 2 p.m.

June 26: Tween Adventures in No Baking. 2 p.m.


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

June 3: Teen Summer Reading Kickoff — Laser Tag. 6-8 p.m.

June 6: Teen Writing Workshop — Enter the Fantasy. 4-5:30 p.m.

June 20: Teen Manga Club. 4:30-5:30 p.m.


June 4: Mixed Media Painting Program. 10:30 a.m. Registration required.

June 4 and 18: Language Club. 5 p.m. Registration required.

June 6: Aldridge Gardens French Hydrangeas. 10:30 a.m. Registration required.

June 10: Camellia — The Birmingham Connection. 10:30 a.m. Learn the history of the state flower, the camellia, in Birmingham and Alabama.

June 18: Gelli Printing. 10 a.m. Registration required.

June 20: NSL Book Club — “The Last Flight” by Julie Clark. 10:30 a.m. Registration required only if you are meeting via Zoom.

June 20: Alabama Department of Archives and History present — The Yarbrough Quilt 1921-1959. 6:30 p.m. Registration required.

June 21: Alabama Humanities Alliance Presents — “It's the Little Things: Five small objects that connect us to the Dutch Golden Age” by Dolores Hydock. 10:30 a.m. Registration required.

June 25: Hibiscus — Watercolor Program. 10 a.m. Registration required. Space is limited.

Mt Laurel Library

For more information or to register for events, go to mtlaurellibrary.org.


Tuesdays: Crafts-to-Go and Make a Button. Crafts-togo at the library! Crafts will be available all day on Tuesday. Give us a call to check for availability. All ages with parent help.

Fridays: Ukulele Storytime. 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. Join us for fun songs on the ukulele, along with books and rhymes!

June 3: Miss Calliope — “From Soil to the Stars.” 2 p.m. Enjoy an interactive musical event with Miss Calliope! Registration required.

June 10: Mr. Larry’s Magic Show. 2 p.m. The Mr. Larry

Magic Show has a little bit of everything: magic, puppets, balloons and fun! Registration required.

June 17: Animal Tales — Animal Alliances. 2 p.m. See amazing animals and learn all about how they all work together! Registration required.

June 24: TomFoolery. 2 p.m. Double Oak Community Church cafe, across the street from the library. All ages welcome. Juggling, unicycling, stilt walking and balancing acts!


June 6: Coaster Art. 2 p.m. Tweens will make a cool piece of coaster art with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol.

June 13: Teen and Tween CPR. 2 p.m. Great for babysitters!

June 20: Bedroom Sign Art. 2 p.m. Make a cool piece of artwork to decorate your bedroom door! Local artist Chris Cruz will lead this program.

June 27: Coosa Valley Waterkeepers. 2 p.m. Join Coosa Valley Waterkeepers for a cool program about water!


June 6: Mt Laurel Book Club. 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. “The Kitchen Front” by Jennifer Ryan.

June 6: Patriotic Wreath. 9 a.m. Ages 18 and up. Cost for this program is $10. No children allowed. Registration required.

June 13: House Healing. 7 p.m.

June 20: Freshwater Land Trust. 7 p.m. Freshwater Land Trust will highlight some of the area’s spectacular hiking trails. Light refreshments will be served. No registration required.

June 27: Watercolor Painting. 10 a.m. All supplies will be provided, no experience necessary. Registration required.

Chelsea Public Library

For more information or to register for events, go to cityofchelsea.com/225/Library-Home.


June 1: Homeschooling Workshop with Kristy Trent. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Register online.

June 4: Movie — “Up.” 1 p.m. Chelsea Community Center.

June 5: Smokey Bear Visits the Library. 2 p.m.

June 8: Friends of Chelsea Library Book Sale. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

June 8: Lego Day. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

June 11: Movie — “The Little Mermaid.” 1 p.m. Chelsea Community Center.

June 12: Crafting Your Own Galaxy Jar. 2 p.m.

June 15: Pokemon Trading Card Club. 10-11 a.m.

June 19: Scavenger Hunt in the Library. 2 p.m.

June 22: K.Z.T. Steam Day. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

June 25: Movie — “Cars.” 1 p.m. Chelsea Community Center.

June 26: Blanket Fort Building/Reading Time. 2-4 p.m.


Wednesdays: Tot Time. 10:30 a.m. Chelsea Community Center.

Thursdays: Musical Munchkins. 10:30 a.m. Chelsea Community Center.


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

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

Fridays: Theater Club. 11 a.m.

B6 • June 2024 280 Living

Fireworks, food and fun: 4th of July celebrations around town

ChelseaFest and The Big Kaboom are back for another early 4th of July celebration later this month.

The city-wide annual 4th of July celebration is held the Saturday before Independence Day, which falls on June 29 this year.

One of the premier events for the city, ChelseaFest and the Big Kaboom will feature live music, a variety of options from food trucks and one of the largest fireworks shows around.

“We are looking forward to another huge turnout for the Big Kaboom and anticipate a great night,” said Chelsea mayor Tony Picklesimer. “The Big Kaboom is a great example of why we choose to live in a smaller town rather than a large metropolitan town. It is an opportunity to see our neighbors and gives all of us a family friendly opportunity to visit with friends.”

The event will begin at 5:15 p.m. with the Yankee Doodle Dandy Children’s Parade, as children are invited to decorate their bicycles, tricycles, scooters and wagons for a parade down Chelsea Corners Way.

Festivities officially start at 6 p.m., and guests can bring their own chairs and blankets and choose their own location for the evening. Tents with tables and chairs will also be set up near the food truck area. Coolers are accepted and koozies are required. No glass containers or grills are allowed and tents must be set up on the perimeter only.

A Kid Zone area provided by local churches will include inflatables, face painting, games and more. Shoppers can enjoy vendor alley, which is a tent village with local vendors, churches and businesses.

For the musical entertainment, this year’s headline band will be Monsters of Yacht, who will take the stage at 7 p.m. The Nashville band is “America’s premier tribute to the yacht rock genre.” The band will play music from the 70s to the early 80s by artists including the

The firework show will begin at 9 p.m. and can be seen from all around the city of

The show will be synchronized to music that will play at the main event and also simulcast by radio station KOOL 96.9 FM.

Public parking will be in the field behind the event area as well as behind Winn Dixie. Handicap parking will be provided behind the stage.

For more information or to become a vendor, visit chelseafest.com.

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Doobie Brothers, Hall & Oates, the Bee Gees, Neil Diamond and more. Chelsea. Above: The fireworks display at The Big Kaboom. Left: Guests enjoy live music during the event. Photos courtesy of the city of Chelsea.

Eagles cap undefeated season with state title

It wasn’t always pretty, but when the dust settled at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park on May 11, Oak Mountain High School had emerged from the scrum as the Class 7A boys soccer champions.

The Eagles used a dominant second half to defeat Auburn 3-0, securing the program’s first title since 2017. With the victory, Oak Mountain wrapped up one of the most impressive seasons in state history, finishing the year with an undefeated record of 29-0-1 and a top-two national ranking.

“Obviously, winning this has been our goal the whole time,” said Oak Mountain head coach David Di Piazza. “The rankings that come with MaxPreps and all that stuff, that's awesome. But we knew if we were going to be a nationally ranked team, we had to win a state championship.”

Oak Mountain senior forward Nate Joiner broke free for the game’s first clean look, a header that just missed the left post. The Eagles continued to pressure their opponents throughout the half, holding Auburn to no shots on goal, but weren’t able to capitalize on their advantage before the break. The two teams entered the locker room in a scoreless tie.

The tide began to turn Oak Mountain’s way at the beginning of the second half, when senior midfielder Gabe Capocci navigated traffic in the box to score the game’s first goal. The Eagles manufactured several more chances over the next 10 minutes, efforts which culminated in goals from Aidan Riley and Gerardo Rodriguez.

In the blink of an eye, Oak Mountain had jumped out to a 3-0 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“We were just so incredible to watch [in the second half],” Di Piazza said. “[We played] such good soccer. It was just incredible. It was incredible.”

named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

The Eagles’ championship comes on the heels of final four losses in both 2022 and 2023. Oak Mountain avenged its 2023 loss with a win over Huntsville on May 9, using two goals from junior Luke Jovanovich to secure its spot in the state final. Jovanovich went on to record an assist in the championship match and was

The only blemish on Oak Mountain’s near-perfect season record is a 1-1 tie with Oconee County (Georgia). The Eagles won each of their 29 games against in-state opponents.

The Eagles join the 2017, 2016, 2015, 2011, 2008, 2007 and 2005 Oak Mountain teams as state champions.

“What's special about this [team] is just the guys,” Di Piazza said. “I have enjoyed watching this team play soccer more than — I mean, for the first time in my career, I've sat in games and just watched them, almost like a fan.”

“They come from incredible families, incredible people, and they're such good soccer players,” he added. “It's just such an honor to be their coach and to give this to them, this goal that they’ve had of being state champions.”

B8 • June 2024 280 Living
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Oak Mountain celebrates with the Class 7A boys championship trophy after defeating Auburn 3-0 at John Hunt Park in Huntsville on May 11. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Local teams perform well at state outdoor meet

The high school state outdoor track and field meet was held May 2-4 in Gulf Shores.

Chelsea’s girls led the way amongst local teams, putting forth a fifth-place finish in Class 7A. Briarwood’s girls were sixth in 6A, while Oak Mountain’s boys finished 7th in 7A.

In 6A, Northridge won the boys title and Mountain Brook ran away with the girls championship. In 7A, Hoover swept the boys and girls titles.

For Chelsea’s girls, Addison Foster put together a strong meet, winning the 300-meter hurdles and finishing second in the 100-meter hurdles. Ty Cason was impressive as well, winning the 800-meter race and placing third in the 1,600.

Chelsea’s relay teams were strong as well, as both the 4x400- and 4x800-meter relays finished second.

Mia Dunavant placed seventh in the 400 and 800, while Tamarah Rice was seventh in long jump.

A few Briarwood girls got to the podium during the meet. The 4x800 relay team came in second. Bela Doss finished second individually, posting a time of 2 minutes, 17 seconds, in the 800-meter race. Mary Grace Parker got third in the 3,200, and Ansley Murphy was third in the pole vault.

Emma Kerley posted a sixth-place finish in triple jump and ninth in high jump, Livi Reebals was fifth in the 100 hurdles, and Parker and Doss finished fifth and sixth in the 1,600.

For Oak Mountain’s boys, John Shoemaker won the 3,200, posting a 7A record time of 9:09. Shoemaker also grabbed third in the 1,600.

Cooper Jeffcoat got a third-place finish in the 800. The 4x800 relay team reached the podium by placing third as well. Sean Carson was sixth in the 200.

Briarwood’s Charlie Thompson earned a top 10 spot in the shot put, finishing 10th with a personal best.

Chelsea’s boys had some standout performances. The 4x100 relay team got to the podium by finishing third. Gabe Pendley was second in the javelin throw, Parker Campbell finished third in the 3,200 and Eryk Brown was third in the 200.

Campbell also placed fourth in the 3,200, Jonathan Laughlin was eighth in the discus throw,


Above: Briarwood’s Ansley Murphy competes in the pole vault during the AHSAA Class 7A Section 3 track and field sectionals at Hewitt-Trussville Stadium on April 27.

Left: Chelsea’s Juliette Edwards competes in the 3200 Meter. Photos by Richard Force.

Wyatt Irvin was ninth in pole vault and Brandon Sims finished 10th in long jump.

Oak Mountain’s girls 4x800 relay team claimed third place to get on the podium. Catarina Williams did the same by finishing third in the 400. She was also sixth in the 800.

Samantha Bennett finished eighth in the 100, Julia Bueche was 10th in the 100 hurdles,

Lauren Cole was eighth in the 1,600, Sara Cothran finished ninth in the javelin throw and Harper Richey was fifth in pole vault. The 4x400 relay team was sixth.

Spain Park’s Delaney Vickers won the 3,200 in 11 minutes. She was also second in the 800 and 1,600. Zachary Erickson posted a thirdplace result in the discus throw.

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left: Oak Mountain’s John Schoemaker competes in the 3200 Meter.

Chelsea resident pens book to spark conversations about anxiety

When Paige Gardner was a child growing up in Chelsea, she had a lot of anxiety, but she didn’t know how to express it to her parents.

So she didn’t — at least not until way later.

“One day in college, I was having a really hard time with anxiety and depression, and I shared that with my parents,” Gardner said. “They said, ‘Paige, where did all this come from?’ And I told them that I think I was bent toward being an anxious person.”

She said people thought she was shy, but as she watched her mom’s health deteriorate from multiple sclerosis, Gardner was simply internalizing everything.

“I told them I would cry sometimes at night when I was a kid — I’d get so worked up about being alone,” she said. “I could hear my parents having their Bible study at night through the wall, and that would calm me down and make me feel less alone.”

Her mom said she felt terrible that she never knew, but Gardner told her it wasn’t her fault — kids don’t know how to tell their parents these things.

But now she’s working to put tools in the hands of both children and parents. She recently wrote a book called “Where Did The Light Go?” aimed at helping families have those conversations earlier.

The book “is a story showcasing a young girl who presents signs of worry, anxiety and depression,” Gardner said. “She just wants to be happy and not feel so sad. She wants to feel safe and protected.”

Gardner said she always found it difficult to describe how she felt, so she decided to give parents some signals to look for instead, such as if children distance themselves, or if they’re terrified of being alone.

She said this can help them have conversations about mental health sooner rather than later.

“Kids are facing many troubling issues today,” she said. “Parents must prepare their children to face these obstacles. I wish to encourage every single child that they are not alone and that they can face their fears.”

Gardner said she has always been inspired by author C.S. Lewis, who wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and she decided to approach her book “with this mystical, fantasy-type feel that was lighthearted — it needed to be to touch such a dark topic.”

She also brought in lighthearted elements like butterflies and bold colors. It was a labor of love for Gardner, who had thrown herself into art as she worked through her own depression in college.

The book includes 22 full-layout illustrations and a parents’ guide.

“My goal is to spread awareness,” Gardner said. “Parents might not even realize their child is struggling with mental health. I wanted the book to be a talking piece. … Investing in our family members should always be a priority, and we need to care for the next generation.”

“Where Did The Light Go?” is available on Amazon. For more information about Gardner and her work, visit ainsleypaigedesigns.com.

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Paige Gardner holds her self-written and self-illustrated children’s book “Where Did The Light Go?” at her home in Chelsea. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

By combining two of his passions — fitness and philanthropy — Forrest Walden’s vision is bringing clean water to places in desperate need of it across the world.

May marked another record-setting Workout for Water event across Iron Tribe Fitness locations in the metro area. Participants gathered at Iron Tribe gyms to sweat it up while raising money for Walden’s clean water nonprofit, Neverthirst.

Walden launched Iron Tribe in 2010, starting with its original location in Homewood and expanding to locations in Hoover, Mountain Brook, downtown Birmingham and a new location that opened earlier this year on U.S. 280.

That same year, he helped launch Neverthirst, with the goal of raising money and awareness for the millions of people who lack access to clean and safe drinking water in Africa and southeast Asia.

At May’s workout, Iron Tribe members completed their workouts while carrying filled water jugs, symbolic of the hardships those in impoverished areas often undertake to bring clean water to their families.

The one-day event in the metro gyms raised more than $614,000 and brought the 14-year total for the event to more than $6.2 million. Other Iron Tribes across the country will add to that total in events later this year.

Neverthirst has identified and serves 14 areas in eight countries that are in dire need of clean water, in regions such as India, Nepal, Cambodia, Niger, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia.

This year’s Workout for Water was particularly special for Walden and his wife, Mendy. While on an early Neverthirst trip to Ethiopia

several years ago, they were moved to adopt a son from that country.

“It's super exciting to know that all the funds being raised today are going to go directly to the

home country of my son, the place I've been twice, people I've fallen in love with, beautiful people who need clean water and they need access to the gospel, and both of those

things are happening through this event,” Walden said.

To learn more or make a contribution visit neverthirstwater.org.

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Left: Mendy and Forrest Walden participate in the 14th annual Workout for Water event at Iron Tribe Fitness in Homewood on May 3. The event raised a record $614,000 in the Birmingham-metro area, bringing the 14-year total to $6.2 million. Workout for Water provides clean water to communities in Ethiopia. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney. Right: Iron Tribe members Stoner Goneke, left, and Patrick Lantrip after completing the Workout for Water to benefit Neverthirst at Iron Tribe’s U.S. 280 location. Photo courtesy of Iron Tribe.

get awayFOR A DAY

Spend a day with American patriots in the 18th

Enjoy red, white and blue all-American family fun this summer at the American Village. The “Hidden Heroes: Revolutionary Spy Adventure” offers something for patriots of all ages. Learn to become a spy, outsmart the redcoat forces and join the Continental Army. Read the Village Gazette upon your arrival at the Visitors Center to find out each day’s revolutionary events. Food trucks will be onsite every Saturday.


Starting Friday, May 31, escape the heat at the cinema. The summer film series will run every other Friday evening (May 31, June 14 and 28, July 12 and 26) in the West Wing of Independence Hall theatre. No admission is required, but a donation is suggested. Beer, wine and food trucks will be available on Constitution Green to provide refreshments before the film. Enjoy the American Arts & Crafts Fair on Saturday, June 1. See painters, soap makers, potters, jewelry makers, wood workers and metal workers create and sell their works.

On July 4, join your family, friends and neighbors at the American Village to celebrate Independence Day 1776! Fun, food, fireworks… you’ll find it all, bigger and better than ever. Admission is $5 for adults and free to veterans, active military and children 4 and younger. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the family-friendly fun lasts through

American Village Where: 3727 Alabama 119, Montevallo

Summer hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (June-July)

Admission: Adults $11, students and youth (ages 5-17) $10, seniors $9, and free for veterans, active military and children ages 4 and younger Call: 205-665-3535 Web: americanvillage.org

twilight’s last gleaming.

For a complete schedule of summer events, visit the American Village online at americanvillage.org.

Reed Real Estate offers huge summer savings on great beach homes

The Fort Morgan/ Gulf Shores area, with gorgeous, white-sand beaches, is a perfect getaway just four hours from Birmingham. Reed Real Estate offers a huge assortment of private homes from 1 to 9 bedrooms located directly on the beach or just steps away.

The local agents at family-owned Reed Real Estate in Gulf Shores can help you find your perfect rental. Reed Real Estate is one of the few remaining locally owned vacation-rental companies in Gulf Shores and has served the area for more than 35 years.

Reed Real Estate Where: 3358 Alabama 180, Fort Morgan/Gulf Shores Call: 800-678-2306 Web: gulfrentals.com

The reservationists at Reed Real Estate know the homes personally and provide a personal service you won’t receive from some of the large, national companies. Take advantage of these exclusive offers just for you.

Discounts include:

► 30% off weekly arrivals now through June 2 with coupon code LM3024

► 15% off remaining June weeks with coupon code JUNE15-24

► $300 off July weeks with coupon code BCHPLS300

► Book at least 3 days, and get an additional day free with coupon code SUMMERFD24

To check availability, call us or go to the specials page on our website. Reed offers something for every family size and budget, including pet-friendly properties, rentals with pools, houses for large groups and budget-friendly or summer daily rentals.

Book online at gulfrentals.com or call a friendly reservationist at 800-678-2306.

Note: Discounts available for future bookings only in participating homes. Discount must be mentioned at time of booking.


Come enjoy

hands-on, immersive experience at the Cook Museum of Natural Science

At the Cook Museum of Natural Science in downtown Decatur, visitors of all ages learn about the wonders of nature — and not by looking passively at dry, dull, traditional displays.

Instead, they enjoy an exciting, handson, immersive experience featuring state-of-the-art interactive exhibits.

Less than 90 minutes from Birmingham, the facility is open seven days a week all summer and offers families the chance to make amazing memories together.

The Cook Museum will mark a big milestone on June 7 when it celebrates its fifth anniversary at its current location.

“Since opening in 2019, the museum has continued to find new ways to fulfill its mission to engage, excite and educate visitors, and we’re honored to celebrate this special milestone,” said Kara Long, the museum’s Director of Collections and Gallery Experience.

Visitors can take part in the celebration during the museum’s fun, exciting Fifth Year Anniversary Weekend June 8 and 9. In addition, the museum will host a Member Appreciation Day on Saturday, July 13, with games, crafts and snacks. More information on these big events will be available soon.

The museum is also celebrating its anniversary by opening yet another exciting, interactive experience — the Mining Sluice. This new hands-on, outdoors experience allows visitors to mine — and take home — their very own gemstones. Different sizes of mining bags loaded with hidden treasures are available for purchase in the Courtyard.

The Mining Sluice will be open on select days and have special operating

hours that are weather dependent and vary from the museum's exhibit hours.

General Museum admission is required.

“We are thrilled to offer another interactive educational experience to our visitors with the addition of Cook Museum Mining Co.,” Long said. “We hope the excitement of mining gemstones inspires memories and learning in all ages. That's what the Cook Museum is all about.”

The Mining Sluice is a great addition

Summer is the perfect time for families to enjoy the zoo

Summer, with long days and gorgeous weather, is the perfect time for families to enjoy outdoor attractions like the Birmingham Zoo.

Covering 122 acres, the zoo is home to 550 animals of 180 species from six continents, including zebras, orangutans, elephants and a jaguar.

The only Alabama zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the facility draws 500,000 visitors annually.

Visitors can see the Birmingham Zoo’s new baby giraffe, Mopane (pronounced Mo-Paw-Nee). The first giraffe born at the zoo since 2014, Mopane was born in April to mother Ruby and father Jalil, with the help of the zoo’s animal care team.

“We’re overjoyed to welcome this beautiful baby giraffe to our zoo family,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, the zoo’s CEO and President, calling the birth “another step” in the zoo’s work to help conserve giraffes.

There are lots of animal experiences at the zoo, including goat walks and bird feedings, some at the Junior League of Birmingham Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo.

Visitors can also enjoy riding the Red Diamond Express Train and climbing the Full Moon Bar-B-Que Adventure Tower.

The zoo also hosts special summer events:

► June 8: Zoo Brews, with craft breweries and food trucks. 6-9 p.m. Ages 21 and older.

► June 15: Pancakes and Princesses, an enchanted day in a magical court of characters during the Royal Pancakes and Princesses Breakfast. 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For even more fun year-round, become

Birmingham Zoo

Where: 2630 Cahaba Road

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call: 205-879-0409

Web: birminghamzoo.com

a member. Members enjoy unlimited visits as well as discounts on events, camps, classes and more.

Located at 2630 Cahaba Road, the zoo is open Wednesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, including membership packages, go to birminghamzoo.com or call 205-879-0409.

to the museum’s other cool experiences. Attendees touch a meteorite. They climb to the top of Big Tree. They’re mesmerized by moon jellies. They build a volcano and watch it erupt.

“Hands-on, immersive experiences engage people through more than listening, reading or watching,” said Joy Harris, the Cook Museum’s marketing coordinator.

In addition to big events, there are other ways visitors can participate in

Cook Museum of Natural Science

Where: 133 4th Ave. NE, Decatur Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday-Saturday; Noon to 5 p.m. Sundays (from Memorial Day to Labor Day) Call: 256-351-4505

Web: cookmuseum.org

celebrating the museum’s fifth anniversary.

► Monthly Giveaways: Each month Cook Museum will host a week-long social media giveaway with amazing prizes. Follow the Cook Museum on Facebook and Instagram for more information and to enter to win.

► Membership Gift: Throughout 2024, a commemorative tote bag and sticker will be given out to each membership purchased or renewed.

► Doodle Bug Activity Guide: Visitors to the museum can take home a Doodle Bug Activity Guide, packed full of fun ways to continue the learning at home and online at Discovery Hub after your visit. Offered while supplies last.

As always, the museum also offers a great lineup of classes, camps and special events.

For more information about the Cook Museum, including hours, admission prices and memberships, call 256-3514505 or go to cookmuseum.org.

For more about the Museum's Fifth Year Anniversary, visit cookmuseum. org/five.

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Dear Young Person:

I am an imaginary old man. I am every World War II veteran you never knew. I am each faceless GI from the bygone European War. Or any other war, for that matter.

I am in my 90s and 100s now. Lots of young folks probably don’t even know I exist.

In my war, I was one of the hundreds of thousands of infantrymen, airmen, sailors, Marines, mess sergeants, Seabees, brass hats, engineers, doctors, medics, buck privates and rear-echelon potato-peelers.

We hopped islands in the Pacific. We served in the African war theater. We beat the devil, then we came home and became the old fart next door.

Wartime was one heck of an era to be young, let me tell ya. When we went overseas, we were still teenagers, smooth-skinned, scared spitless, with government haircuts, wearing brand-new wedding rings. We hadn’t seen action yet, so we were jittery and lots of us smoked through a week’s rations of Luckies in one day.

Then it happened. It was different for everyone, but it happened. Shells landed everywhere. People screamed. And in a moment, our fear melted away and we had war jobs to do. It didn’t matter who we were or which posts were ours. Everyone worked in the grand assembly line of battle.

When the smoke cleared and the action was over, we had new confidence in ourselves, and we were no longer boys.

And anyway, we weren’t just boys, we were girls, too. There were 350,000 women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II.

Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich

This Memorial Day

People forget that.

Speaking of women, we guys were always talking about our sweethearts, wives and mothers. If you mentioned someone’s girl, a man was liable to talk for hours about her. And even if you’d already seen his wallet photos before, you never interrupted a guy talking about his gal. Because eventually you’d be talking about yours.

There were nights overseas when we would stare at the moon and wonder if our sweethearts were looking at the same moon. There were moments of indescribable loneliness.

Infantrymen had it the hardest. I don’t know how our doughboys did it. They lived like pack mules. Their boots got wet, their feet swelled and their flesh became waterlogged. Chunks of their heels would fall off: the dreaded “trench foot.”

The funny thing is, even though their feet were falling off, these men still didn’t want to leave their posts. Many had to be dragged away cussing. That’s how committed these guys were.

Oh, and the food was god awful. You learned to appreciate the rarity of a creative company cook.

In Italy, sometimes we could buy eggs from local merchants for outrageously inflated prices. One time, I knew a guy who ate 32 scrambled eggs in his tent one night. I asked him why he did this, and he told me he didn’t

want to die without tasting eggs one last time.

A lot of guys brought banjos, guitars and fiddles over there. They’d play music at night sometimes in the open Italian air. We’d square dance and laugh. Others would sit on their helmets, smoking, thinking of home, wiping their eyes.

The Germans had a local radio station that broadcasted American stuff like Bing and Frank. Then, between songs, a German gal talked propaganda over the airwaves to us American GIs in a sexy voice, trying to mess with our heads.

She would speak flawless English and say, “Give up, boys, there’s no point trying, you can’t win. Everyone hates you. Your girls are at home cheating on you, they don’t love you anymore. Give up. It’s over. You lost.”

This was supposed to discourage us, but it usually just made us laugh. Or cry. Sometimes both.

When the war ended, we felt too much joy at once. In fact, most weren’t totally sure they could trust good news. A lot of guys got like that.

So when we heard the official papers had been signed and the war was over, it was Christmas morning multiplied times a hundred. No — times a trillion.

Those of us overseas immediately wrote letters to family and told our wives we were coming home, told our kids to grease up their

baseball gloves. Our letters were covered in little wet polka dots, if you get my drift.

Stateside, there were huge celebrations happening. Sailors climbed lampposts to unfurl flags. Infantrymen stood on rooftops, toasting mugs of homebrew. Mothers were frying chickens out the wazoo.

People were partying everywhere from San Bernardino to Flatbush. Big cities, little towns and the rural parts between. There were ticker tape parades, auto processions and girls would kiss any guy in government clothes.

But on this important day, you know what I think about? I think about all the guys who never got kissed again. Our men in the soil.

They were those who evaporated like the early morning fog over Anzio or the thick mists of Normandy. They died young. And they died for a lot more than a three-day weekend of barbecues and Budweiser.

These were men who fell upholding the mantle of our unalienable American spirit, the Blessings of our Liberty and the pride of their homeland. They were friends. They were the kids next door. They were children of God who once proved, beyond speculation, that even hellfire cannot kill the great idea that is America. I hope we never forget them. I know I never will.

Happy Memorial Day.

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast.

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Holy Moly Motherhood By Alana Smith Learning to Listen

“So then, the kids were out of sorts since they had stayed up late, and they …”

“Oh my gosh, I know! Mine were the same way Saturday night! Everybody was crying and …”

And no one was able to finish their story. Sound familiar?

As a person who likes to talk — a lot — I’m guilty of this conversation style. I get stuck in my own head and I fail to listen. When a friend is telling a story, I immediately have the thought, “Yes! Me too! Same here!” and I think that those thoughts need to be conveyed, right this second. But actually, they don’t.

As moms, we are always planning, organizing and checking off our lists. During every task, we are always thinking of the next thing. Thankfully, we are expert multitaskers, yet we are constantly distracted in our own minds. Probably from the overwhelming nature of motherhood, or the lack of sleep, or just because we have so much to do.

And we also have so much to say. When I meet someone new, most of the time I’m so focused on my own words or handshake that I don’t even remember that person’s name. It immediately leaves me. Their name just brushes by my brain like a bird in the background. In the same way, I can have an entire conversation with a friend but not really grasp what they are trying to say.

We moms think we are being helpful by immediately offering our agreement or experience, especially when it comes to parenting. But there are just so many ways to parent, and even if my friend and I are closely aligned in our parenting styles, it’s unlikely that the way I put my kids to bed is the same as hers. Or what we eat or how much screen time I allow.

So my advice is probably not what she’s really wanting from our conversation. And if it is, she’ll ask. She’s likely just looking to be seen, for a minute, in her struggles. She longs for camaraderie and someone to listen. No matter how well-intentioned my advice to her is, she may feel judged or somehow less than, instead of being heard.

It's extremely hard to just let another person talk. I imagine our grandmothers’ generation was better at this, as they sat tethered to a phone cord on the wall and had to wait on the other

party to stop talking to get a word in. Or as they sat around a bridge table with a few hours to spare.

Today, we are so busy with work and life that our moments with friends seem fleeting. We get in all we can in those few minutes — in the break room at the office or in the stands at teeball, distracted by our devices and schedules.

I think this is how we’ve forgotten the art of listening.

As a writer and someone who likes to tell a good story, it’s refreshing when someone is actively listening. It’s rare actually, and I find myself also failing to listen time and time again. So, I figured I would challenge myself to do a few things differently:

I’m going to put down my phone! If you ask me a question, my goal is to look right up at your beautiful face.

I’m going to let you finish your sentence. I’m the queen of interrupting, by accident, and I’m going to let you speak until the very end.

I’m going to genuinely hear you. Which means I should ask questions like, “What did you think?” or “What happened next?”

I’m going to circle back if we get interrupted. Kids and other people like to chime in, and when your story gets cut short and no one even notices, it can make you feel slighted. “So back to your story, tell me the rest!”

I am going to leave judgment and my opinion out of it. Our lives are noisy enough. You are telling me a story and my goal is to make this space safe.

I’m going to be your friend. And when I’m really hearing you, I’ll know what you need from me — validation, understanding, encouragement — whatever it is, I hope I can give that to you, and that we can navigate this motherhood journey together, listening and learning from each other.

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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An All-American Family SUV

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