280 Living July 2024

Page 1

Continuing to serve

97-year-old spends time volunteering at Chelsea library

If you visit the Chelsea Public Library on Monday afternoons, you may catch a glimpse of Inez Smith working on a special project.

The 97-year-old volunteer spends several hours each week at the library because she enjoys being around people and likes to help. She recently stuffed all the bags for summer reading and on the day of her interview with 280 Living, she was cutting out decorations for crafts for the Tot Spot program. Other days, she prepares books to go into the book sale closet or helps check the deliveries.

Librarian Dana Polk said that Smith was one of the library's first volunteers, starting back in 2003 and continuing until she had to take a break so she could care for her husband, Charles, around 2006. The couple was married for 58 years and had four children.

Smith has moved with the library throughout its various locations, beginning at the original location (in the upstairs portion of the current library building, when the downstairs was a bank), to Chelsea City Hall, to the gray house and now at its current location.

After Charles passed away, Polk said she convinced Smith to return a few years later, and Smith picked up where she left off — volunteering and taking part in the Bring Your Own Craft group each week — until the pandemic brought on another multi-year pause.

See SMITH | page 29

Shelby County reports updates on park projects

There are many park updates taking place along the U.S. 280 corridor. 280 Living spoke to county officials about the projects and what residents and visitors can expect.


► Project: New pickleball courts

► Status: Complete Trey Gauntt, the chief facilities management officer for Shelby County, said the county identified a huge demand for more

pickleball court availability at Heardmont, and the city of Hoover approached them to partner on a project at Veterans Park.

The total cost was originally around $1.3 million, but some change orders were added that were covered by the city of Hoover. Shelby County’s portion of the cost was $400,000.

The project included eight pickleball courts and an addition of 45 to 50 parking spaces. The county partnered with the city of Hoover several years ago on a pavilion and restroom

See PARKS | page 30

Inez Smith, 97, cuts out campfire shapes for a children’s activity as she volunteers at the Chelsea Public Library on June 3. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
Groups of people play pickleball at the new courts at Veterans Park in Hoover on June 13.
Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Recently, we watched a sales team veteran ride off into the sunset here at the corner of I-65 and Highway 31. Gary Redd has been a fixture around the Royal Automotive lot for 26 years, and it was a joy to celebrate his retirement by his side this June. We can’t thank you enough for helping countless friends, old and new, find their next ride over the years, Gary. To a loyal friend, a dedicated salesman, and not a half-bad golfer to boot, we say best of luck and congratulations! For every new chapter, there’s Royal.

(L-R) David Belcher, Gary Redd and Greg Belcher celebrate Gary’s retirement.

Appointment to start

living better. Make an

Better living starts with taking good care of yourself. At Grandview Medical Group, our primary care providers take the time to identify your health risks and can help you prioritize good health. Regular checkups and age-appropriate screenings are important to be healthy now – and to stay well in the future.

With same-day appointments and online scheduling, we make it easy to make an appointment right now. You can even see us from the comfort of home via telehealth.

Put your health first and start living better right now. Make an appointment at PrimaryCareAppointments.com/grandview, scan the code or call 205-971-DOCS.

About Us

Editor’s Note By Leah Ingram Eagle

In this month’s editor’s note, I want to thank you.

Thanks for reading this paper I pull together each month.

There are many hours of hard work poured into each issue, and it’s nice to know that our audience enjoys reading it.

I meet people all the time who tell me they love getting their issue each month and read it from cover to cover.

I recently met a reader I knew only through email. He has checked in with me the last few months and asked me to drop off copies at a retirement facility where he lives. On the day I was dropping them off, he happened to be in the

lobby and caught me before I was leaving to thank me for delivering them.

A business owner also told me recently that guests in her cafe are always taking all of the copies of 280 Living she has on hand.

It’s great to know that what you’re doing matters.

If you’d like to get our newsletter delivered to your email inbox each day, you can subscribe at our website: 280living.com.

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Find Us

280 Living is distributed through direct mail to 280 corridor residents. You can also find copies at a variety of locations throughout the community. For a list of pick up locations, scan the QR code below or go to 280living.com/about-us.


Trees planted, additional parking discussed for sports complex

A total of 15 new trees were recently planted at the Chelsea Sports Complex on Shelby County 11.

Chelsea’s tree commissioner, Paula Davis, said the mayor came to the commission with a request for trees at the ballpark to create shade for players and their families but also to beautify the space and create a more unified landscape.

“We met with the mayor and other Chelsea staff and created a plan that fit the bill,” Davis said. “There are several Yoshino cherry trees that line the drive back to the new fields that will be beautiful in the spring.”

The other trees including Trident maples and Exclamation Planetrees were selected for shade, fall color and ease of maintenance throughout the park.

Mayor Tony Picklesimer thanked Davis and her team for their work on the project.

“They planted mature trees around Weldon Pavilion and phase two [of the complex] as part of this year’s annual tree commission project, and I’d like to thank Paula and her team and Bart [Pettus] from the park and rec department,” Picklesimer said. “It’s very well done, and they are very prevalent when you get to the park. It looks really good.”

The city council authorized the mayor to approve an estimate for an overflow parking area at the sports complex. The proposal is to add a second parking lot during phase two, creating 80 more spaces right behind the existing parking area. Picklesimer said the extra spots are very much needed.

“For those of us who spend a lot of time at the ballpark, when we have a high school game and a little league game going on at the same time, it was a madhouse,” he said. “People were parking near phase one to walk to phase two. This will

greatly relieve that. As a citizen and granddad, I appreciate this very much.”

Picklesimer said he and council member Casey Morris recently attended the walkthrough

of the new grandstands at Chelsea High School.

New bleachers have been installed on what was the former visitors side, which will now be the home side.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Morris said. “We’ve got something to be really proud of with the completion of bleachers, concession stand and locker room space.”

Newly planted trees along a path at the Chelsea Sports Complex. Once fully grown, the trees will provide shade at the complex. Photo courtesy of Paula Davis.


for where the

towers will be placed.

Bid awarded for safety radio towers

The Shelby County Commission awarded a bid for radio towers, at a cost of just over $1.5 million, at the May 28 meeting.

This is part of the $10 million Shelby County Public Safety Radio Towers project to increase communication capacity and coverage with towers for fire, EMS and police departments.

Towers are currently located at Signal Mountain, Shelby County 11, in Columbiana and Calera.

Three of the towers have been constructed with American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The bid was awarded to Gulf Services.

The commission also approved a resolution for the temporary suspension of development in the Harpersville-Vincent zoning area so that revisions to the official zoning map can be created and adopted.

“We are requesting a moratorium on any type of zoning change, large construction building permits and any type of plans to be approved for construction in these areas,” said County

Manager Chad Scroggins. “We believe this is the best process, and the Shelby County Planning Commission has already passed this resolution.”

Christie Hester from the Department of Development Services said that she and her staff are working on preparing proposed zoning maps and will host open houses for the public to attend in advance of a vote on the revised map on Aug. 27 at Baker’s Baptist Church.

Other items of note during the meeting:

► Voters that use the polling center at Faith Presbyterian Church will vote at the Mary Ellen Estes Senior Community Center at Heardmont for the Nov. 5 election. The church is undergoing major renovations that will not be finished before the election.

► James Frost has been hired as the county’s environmental manager.

► The Community Development Block Grant committee has selected initial projects in the county, both focused on sewer and water. A public hearing will be held in late June for local approval before moving forward to federal approval.

Photo by

Chelsea assistant principal promoted to Helena Middle principal

Several administrative positions were approved during the June 6 meeting of the Shelby County Board of Education:

► Chris Myles was named as the new student services supervisor. Myles has over 14 years of experience in public education and has served as the principal at Calera High School since 2020.

► Holly Laney was named as the new principal of Helena Elementary School. She has most recently served as the director of special education and student services for Tarrant City Schools. Before this role, she worked in Shelby County for 17 years, the most recent being the assistant principal at Calera Intermediate School for four years.

► Tyler Lemen was named as the new assistant principal at Helena High School. He most recently served as the assistant principal at Moody High School and previously served as assistant principal at Montevallo Elementary School during the 2022-23 school year.

► Latasha McMillan as the new principal of Helena Middle School. She most recently served as an assistant principal at Chelsea High School.

McMillan said that she began her journey into teaching 20 years ago with a phone call from Brooks, and she recently had him offer her first job as a principal and thanked him for the opportunity.

“Thank you for two decades of support, leadership and friendship,” McMillan said. “It has been an honor to witness you model excellence, humility and integrity through your leadership.

To the Shelby County Board of Education, thank

you for this opportunity and for your investment in the children of Shelby County as you and Dr. Brooks lead us to empowering and inspiring our students to excellence.”

She also thanked the Chelsea administration for challenging, encouraging and embracing her for the past six years and said she is thankful to return to the Helena community, where she first began her administrative career.

Superintendent Lewis Brooks shared that around 1,600 Shelby County School students are taking part in summer school, which is less than 1% of the student body.

866 students in K-5 are taking part in a literacy and math camps for nine days, 213 middle school students are doing virtual courses and 454 high school students are working on credit recovery. Also, 106 students are taking the dual


enrollment health class from the University of Montevallo.

“Kudos to our instructional team and all the teachers and leaders who are at our various schools supporting our students this summer,” Brooks said.

Middle and high school coaches recently participated in a two-day training of Capturing Kids’ Hearts, which focuses on building positive culture through relationships, establishing trust, creating accountability and focusing on academic performance.

Brooks said the attendees went back to their schools and asked their principals if they could move forward with the training at their schools.

“They all were so energetic and supportive and excited about the things that they learned,” he said.

The Alabama Association of School Resource Officers Conference was underway at the time of the BOE meeting, and Brooks reported that Jennifer Cofer, who serves as the student services supervisor for Shelby County Schools, received the TAASRO school safety partnership award and the Calera Police Department won the TAASRO unit of the year award.

“It’s a testament to how we focus on school safety and I think that really speaks to the partnership we have in the community and with our law enforcement partners and how safety is so critical in our schools,” Brooks said.

During the meeting, the board also approved:

► Out-of-state field trips.

► A student insurance provider for the 202425 school year.

► A 25-cent increase in lunch meal prices for students and all meals for non-students. Elementary and intermediate lunches will increase from $2.50 to $2.75 and middle and high school lunches will increase from $2.75 to $3. Visitor meals will be $4 for breakfast and $5 for lunch.

► Child Nutrition Program bids for beverages, ice cream and bread.

► A seal coat and restriping bid for projects at several schools, including the track at Chelsea Middle School, to Massey Asphalt Paving for $111,981.13. A grant program from Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth’s office provided $81,000 of the funds.

► Approval for a bid to Shelby Company for $729,000, for athletic renovations at the former fine arts space at Oak Mountain High School. This will include continued improvements on old spaces and renovations of existing dressing room spaces.

every year.

are certified to perform BWWB annual

LaTasha McMillan will be the new principal of Helena Middle School.
Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.

In the Classroom

Several Shelby County schools were recognized during the May Board of Education meeting by Superintendent Lewis Brooks and the Student Services Department for their efforts in prioritizing good attendance among their students. Winners included:

► Lowest chronic absenteeism rate: Oak Mountain Elementary and Helena Middle School

► Highest average daily attendance: Oak Mountain Intermediate School and Oak Mountain Middle School – Submitted by Shelby County Schools.

Q: What inspired you to become an educator?

A: When I was in high school, I had an administrator who showed up. He was there, he was present and he made a difference in my life. He showed up when I needed him. And I thought if I could do that, if I could make a difference in the lives of young people on a daily basis, I want to be a part of it. I wanted to do that and it led me to education. He gave me my “why,” and I’m very thankful.

Q: How long have you been in education?

A: This is my 29th year involved in education. I was fortunate to be a physical education teacher for the first 21 years, a PE teacher and a cross-country and track and field coach. Then I moved into the world of administration. The last eight years, I served as an assistant principal for seven and currently as principal at Oak Mountain Middle School.

Q: Tell us about your favorite teacher.

A: “That’s a tough one because I had so many amazing teachers. I can tell you this much: that I loved a teacher that took time to build relationships, connections and bonds that they wanted to get to know me. And I felt safe and trusted. I appreciated a teacher who created a feeling of safety, trust, patience, kindness and love in their classroom. That was awesome.”

Q: What is the best part about working in education?

A: “I am truly lucky to be an educator. I encourage my kids to work hard, be nice, smile often and call home, and to be in the hallways or to be somewhere and a student to come up and say ‘Hi,’ to wave, to smile, to connect to me. It warms my heart. It encourages me and helps me to move forward every day and know that I’ve maybe made a small difference in their lives. It’s my “why.”

Oak Mountain Elementary was one of several Shelby County schools to be recognized for attendance during the Shelby County Board of Education’s May meeting. Photo courtesy of Shelby County Schools.
Sandy Evers. Photo courtesy of Sandy Evers.


Business Happenings


Summit Pediatrics has now opened its newest location at 1200 Providence Park #100. Summit Pediatrics has one other office in Chelsea and is also affiliated with Sylacauga Pediatrics. The doctors on staff offer both well and sick care to infants, children and teens. The new location is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 205-637-0044, sylacaugapediatrics.com

Amazing Lash Studio has opened its first Birmingham-Hoover area location in The Village at Lee Branch at 250 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 200. The studio offers lash extensions, lash lifts, brow waxing and tinting, brow lamination, lash tinting and facial waxing. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 205-654-7039, amazinglashstudio.com


The La Quinta Inn and Suites in Chelsea is planning to open in coming months as construction nears the end. An exact date is not set, but a representative of the hotel said that reservations can be made through the hotel beginning in August, and they plan to allow online reservations by Nov. 1. The local manager will be recruiting staff in the coming months as well. Chelsea’s first hotel will offer guests a complimentary breakfast, WiFi, EV and boat parking amenities, along with access to a gym and outdoor pool. 334-778-7059, wyndhamhotels.com

Specialty medicine will soon have a new home on Doug Baker Boulevard. Legacy Pain & Spine Specialists and Lung Care And will treat patients in a new shared facility. Lung Care And offers pulmonary care, critical care and palliative and hospice care. Legacy offers

patients state-of-the-art treatment options for chronic pain management. lungcareand.com; legacypainandspine.com

The third J. Crew Factory in Alabama is set to open this summer in the Cahaba Village shopping center, off of U.S. 280. The store carries casual, versatile clothing for the whole family. factory.jcrew.com


La-Z-Boy has completed renovations of its stores at 2944 John Hawkins Parkway and 5401 U.S. 280. 205-733-1937, 205-437-0280; la-z-boy.com


Bojangles, which has a location in Chelsea at 15392 U.S. 280, has started offering catering through a new partnership with ezCater. This is Bojangles’ first venture into catering as a company, though select franchises previously have offered the service. Bojangles has at least 20 locations in Alabama, including in Hoover, Trussville, Fultondale and McCalla in Jefferson County. 205-678-0449, bojangles.com/catering

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society recently named Dr. Russell Johnson, DVM, as its new chief veterinary officer. Johnson received his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Tuskegee University. 205-942-1211, gbhs.org

Cat-N-Bird winery, 11661 Old Highway 280, has now acquired its brewing license and will be serving locally made beer under its new label, Spitting Llama Brew Co. Spitting Llama will begin by offering a blonde ale and watchman red, with more varieties to come in the future. 205-610-9463, cat-n-bird.com

NobleBank & Trust, 361 Summit Blvd., Suite 100, is pleased to announce the addition of Morgan T. Copes

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

as vice president and relationship manager. Copes brings a wealth of experience and a distinguished track record in both banking and community engagement to his new role. He will leverage his extensive experience to drive business development and support commercial clients. 205-588-7060, noblebank.com

J&M Tank Lines, 1100 Corporate Parkway, is pleased to announce that Jeff Null has been named the new vice president of operations. He comes to the company with over 30 years of experience in the trucking industry. J&M specializes in drybulk transportation, with experience in food-grade, liquid bulk and plastic materials across the Southeast and beyond. 800-456-8265, jmtank.com


Brian Bentley and Brady Cunningham have joined the RealtySouth office at 109 Inverness Plaza as Realtors, while Bernard Hobson and Destiny Gunnels have joined the company’s Chelsea office as Realtors at 331 Chelsea Corners Way, Suite 101.

Brian Bentley: 205-296-4615, Brady Cunningham: 205-603-9157, Bernard Hobson: 205-826-8419, Destiny Gunnels: 205-473-2155; realtysouth.com


Elite Dentistry and Implant Center, 100 Chelsea Corners Way, Suite 113, is celebrating 24 years in business. The business offers cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, crowns, dental implants and more. Elite Dentistry is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday by appointment only. 205-678-2525, elitedentistryal.com

Pediatric Care of Chelsea, 15582 U.S. 280, Suite 110, has been serving patients in Chelsea and the surrounding area for one year. The clinic offers well and sick visits, as well as urgent care, to infants, children and teens. Patients can be seen on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. 205-800-8713, pediatriccarechelsea.com

Constant Companion Animal Hospital, 150 Narrows Dr., is celebrating its two-year anniversary. The clinic offers full-service veterinary care for cats and dogs, including dental care, diagnostics, emergency and urgent care, surgical procedures and wellness visits. 205-635-0313, constantcompanionvet.com

Howarth-Haddock Design, an upscale furniture boutique, is enjoying its three-year anniversary at 56 Manning Place in Mt Laurel. The shop carries one-of-a-kind furniture and décor pieces and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Station 31 Kitchen, 104 Chesser Drive, is celebrating its fifth anniversary in Chelsea. The restaurant offers a full menu with sandwiches, pasta, chicken, meatloaf and other homestyle entrees. There is also a full bar serving cocktails, beer and wine. Dine-in Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

205-677-2158, “Station 31 Kitchen” on Facebook

The Inverness Country Club, 1 Country Club Drive, celebrated its 51st anniversary in May. The club offers a golf course, racquetball, swimming, fitness classes, tennis courts and event space for use. 205-991-8608, iccalabama.com

SoCal Smoothie Company has been in business at 16688 U.S. 280, Unit B, in Chelsea for one year. They serve guilt-free smoothies, acai bowls, chicken salad and other healthy meal options. The store is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 205-718-1821, socalsmoothieco.com

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, 16383 U.S. 280, has been serving cool treats in Chelsea for one year. The shop serves Italian ice and the signature gelati, which is a treat layered with Italian ice, soft-serve ice cream and sometimes other mix-ins. Customers can stop by weekdays from noon until 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on the weekends. 205-618-9118, jeremiahsice.com

United Community Bank celebrated one year on Meadow Lake Drive in June. The bank is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-705-1540, ucbi.com

Liberty Mutual/Comparion Insurance Company has been open for one year in Meadow Brook’s Corporate Park. The business offers vehicle, property and life insurance. 205-995-9883, comparioninsurance.com

Mother-daughter duo team up for yard sign business

If you’ve seen customizable signs popping up in yards around the Birmingham area this summer, it’s the work of the mother-daughter team of JoLeigh and Summer Payne, who have brought a Card My Yard franchise to Birmingham.

The company was created in October 2014, when two moms, Amy Arnold and Jessica Stanley, in Austin, Texas, decided to team up and spread some cheer to their friends and neighbors through yard signs. As word spread about their new business, the growth became exponential. Currently, Card My Yard has over 500 franchise locations nationwide.

JoLeigh Payne, who works full time as a health care sales executive, said she first saw Card My Yard signs while living in Franklin, Tennessee, but there was already a franchise owner there. Then, she relocated to Birmingham two years ago for her husband to open his business, a franchise of Manduu Fitness, in Homewood.

“We were meeting a lot of people due to Manduu, and I just thought a Card My Yard franchise would do well here in Birmingham. We just love it here,” she said.

Her daughter, Summer Payne, is a 19-yearold student at UAB and co-owner of the franchise with her mom. JoLeigh Payne said that she believed it would be a good opportunity for her daughter to learn business skills and to get to know more people in the Birmingham community.

“It’s been really fun [working with my daughter],” JoLeigh Payne said. “She’s taking care of all of the technology and accounting, and I’m working on marketing and getting us clients, and we work together really well,”

So how does this mother-daughter team fit an extra business into their full-time work and student life?

“One thing that’s really great about this

franchise is that it is very flexible on when you can do things. We just work it out with our schedules,” JoLeigh Payne said.

They serve the areas around the south end of Birmingham, including Homewood, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, and areas around U.S. 280.

The next closest Card My Yard businesses are in Decatur and Huntsville.

“We signed up [to open a franchise] about two months ago, and we were ready to roll in

about three weeks. They ship you your first letters and graphics, and they go through a lot of great training, teaching you how to do the signs,” JoLeigh Payne said.

According to the Card My Yard website, their “yard greetings” are not just for birthdays, but also for events, schools and businesses. Custom signs can be requested to fit a particular theme, color scheme or any other request.

“We are really loving getting to know the community. It’s been really fun meeting a variety of people,” JoLeigh Payne said.

“Hopefully this [the business] will also help Summer get through school. I think she wants to be a vet, so we’ve got about seven more years,” she added.

To learn more about Card My Yard and their services, go to cardmyyard.com/ birminghamsouth-al.

From left: Dr. Campbell, Dr. Tate, Jett, Dr. Allison, Dr. LeBlanc, Dr. Wood, Dr. Dodgen
Summer Payne, left, and her mother JoLeigh Payne, of Card my Yard, with a yard decoration.
Photo courtesy of JoLeigh Payne.
Helical Piers

Business Buzz


Tyler Rutledge, State Farm of Chelsea

Tyler Rutledge and his State Farm team have been in Chelsea for 10 years and recently relocated their office to The Narrows.

Q. How long have you been working for State Farm?

A: I got involved with State Farm back in 2013. Coming out of college in 2010, I took a job with a commercial insurance company and quickly realized that I wanted to own and operate my own business. I enjoyed leading a team of people more than being the only person involved in sales and service, so I jumped on board with State Farm.

Q. What do you like most about your job?

A: I just have a passion for people, especially when it comes to life insurance and financial planning. My dad died in 2016, and it was a catalyst for us to be able to do what we do with the vision and a mission. Our office’s top priority is always the customer. We prefer to do business in person, or virtually at the worst-case scenario, and are a one-stop shop for insurance and financial services.

Q. What services do you offer?

A: Not only can you buy auto insurance, home insurance and renter’s insurance, but we also offer life insurance, supplemental medical insurance and financial planning.

Q. What sets your business apart

from others?

A: Without question, our customer service in a world right now where customer demand and need for service is at an alltime high. We have a full team of four people and one part-time team member who can assist. We can solve problems nearly immediately, which is what the consumer wants and what we provide. I don’t think my customers would say a whole lot about me. I think that my name happens to be on the door. However, it’s the team inside that matters. We operate as a team. We can’t accomplish our goals individually. It has to be a team effort.

Fitting Birmingham's Children in Quality Clothing and Shoes for over 69 years


Tint World offers auto accessory, window tinting

Tint World, an auto accessory and window tinting franchise that recently opened a location on U.S. 280, is a do-it-all shop for your automotive needs.

The store provides installations of several types of tinting accessories, including marine, residential and commercial tinting films, as well as solar films, decorative films and safety and security films.

Tint World also offers a variety of

automotive accessories and services, including protective films, vehicle wraps, audio and electronics, security systems, wheels and tires, detailing, ceramic coatings and installation services. Customers can book an appointment or request a quote either online or over the phone.

Tint World is located at 446 Cahaba Park Circle and is open from Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can visit their website at tintworld.com.

280 Living is spotlighting local businesses in print and online. To be considered for this free feature, please submit your businesses information here: go.starnesmedia.com/business-spotlight

Tyler Rutledge. Photo courtesy of Tyler Rutledge.

Sips and Bites

Bellini’s Ristorante & Bar, an Italian-infused steakhouse, is one of 280’s most established culinary options.

The restaurant’s menu features a wide range of options including hand-cut steaks cooked over a wood-burning grill, seafood, veal, pasta and weekly dessert specials.

A filet mignon over garlic mashed potatoes with fire roasted asparagus is one of the many dinner items on the menu at Bellini’s Ristorante & Bar. Staff photo.

Bellini’s boasts that it fields some of the best wine in the Birmingham area; its expansive, rotating selection earned the restaurant a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence each of the last four years.

Guests can dine in or sit at the restaurant’s bar, which opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Bellini’s also offers catering, private dining, wine dinners and a VIP club that gives members complimentary desserts and advance knowledge of specials. Although they’re not required, reservations are highly suggested.

Bellini’s is at 6801 Cahaba Valley Road and is open Monday from 4 to 9 p.m.; Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m.; and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. You can visit their website at ourbellinis.com.

Station 31, a restaurant located in a former Chelsea fire station, has become one of the city’s most popular dining establishments. Their menu features burgers and steaks, pastas, salads, vegetables and more.

Station 31, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary, provides diners with a lively, comfortable atmosphere including string lights along the ceiling, sports on TVs above the bar and cornhole on the outdoor patio.

The restaurant is family-friendly, boasting significant outdoor space for children to run around and plenty of menu items suitable for younger diners.

Station 31 is located at 104 Chesser Drive and is open from Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

280 Living is spotlighting local restaurants in print and online. To be considered for this free feature, please submit your restaurant’s information here: go.starnesmedia.com/restaurant-spotlight

Best chicken fingers on 280

We asked 280 Living readers their favorite place to get chicken fingers along the U.S. 280 corridor.

Here are the restaurants with the top responses:

► Super Chix: 5357 U.S. 280, Suite 102

► Guthrie’s: 4629 U.S. 280

► Milo’s: 1210 Inverness Highland Drive

► Publix Deli: locations in Greystone, Lee Branch and Chelsea

► Other votes included: Chickfil-A, Station 31 Kitchen (Chelsea), Black Market Bar & Grill (the Colonnade) and Zaxby’s (Lee Branch).

Station 31 Restaurant in Chelsea. Staff photo.
A chicken tender from Super Chix.
Photo courtesy of Super Chix.

homes along

► ADDRESS: 1019 Springfield Drive


Magic City Octane seeks to unite Birmingham’s car community

On the second Saturday of each month, more than 2,000 people descend onto the lower parking lot at The Summit to get a look at some of the coolest cars, hottest rods and mondo motorcycles from around the Southeast.

Known as Magic City Octane, the monthly event was established in 2017 by Paul Smith and Austin Tynes, two area residents with a passion, bordering on obsession, for cars. The event was envisioned as a way to bring car enthusiasts of all types under one umbrella.

Smith and Tynes explained that at the time they brainstormed the idea for Magic City Octane, Birmingham’s community of gearheads was segmented and disorganized, a problem the pair were determined to solve.

“During that time, there really wasn’t a consistent, monthly event catering to everybody in the car community here in Birmingham,”

Smith said. “It was kind of an attempt by us to collaborate with everyone in the community.”

“Our goal was to take a very fractured, segregated community and turn it into a come one, come all, family-friendly event,” Tynes added. “It doesn’t matter what the cost of your car is, what you look like, what your car looks like, just come out and hang out. That was the initial intention.”

Initially held at Brookwood Village, Magic City Octane moved to The Summit in 2020, occupying a large swathe of the parking lot from Village Tavern to Panera Bread. Tynes and Smith say that they routinely have more than 500 cars, and visitors from Georgia, Mississippi and beyond turn out for what, they say, has evolved into one of the premier car events in the Southeast.

“It just continues to grow and grow. It’s been a really cool experience for us and just kind of

humbling to see how large it has gotten at this point,” Smith said. “We never expected it to be as big as it’s gotten.”

In addition to rare and customized cars and motorcycles, Magic City Octane caters to local speed and performance shops. While technically a business, Smith and Tynes donate most of the proceeds earned from their events to Racing For Children’s, a motorsports-related experience that raises money for treatment and research for cures of childhood cancer and blood disorders.

For Smith and Tynes, Magic City Octane is a chance to share their interest in all things

auto-related with like-minded individuals throughout Birmingham and, increasingly, the entire Southeast. Like many who come out to gawk at the colorful cars from every era, Tynes said the seed for that passion was planted when he was just a kid.

“When I was six years old, if a Lamborghini would pass by I knew exactly what it was, how much it cost and all the specs,” Tynes said. “So it’s been ingrained in both of us from a very early age.”

Magic City Octane is held on the second Saturday of every month from 8 to 11 a.m. Learn more at magiccityoctane.com.

Magic City Octane car show at The Summit in Birmingham on June 8. Photos courtesy of Daniel Fondren.

280 corridor events guide


kids play in the gym but must stay and supervise children at all times. Bring your own toys and lunch. Visit asburybham.org/summer for more information.

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. This is the 21st year for the Mt Laurel Farmers Market. facebook.com/groups/462890235576.

July 3: Fire on the Water. 5-9 p.m. Oak Mountain State Park, 200 Terrace Drive. Bring the family, chairs, and blankets to enjoy fireworks at Oak Mountain State Park. Flip Side Watersports will provide wakeboarding entertainment beginning at 5 p.m. There will be food and beverage vendors on site. Regular entrance fees apply until 5 p.m.

From 5 to 7 p.m. Pelham residents will receive a special rate of $10 per vehicle (You must be able to show proof of residency). Non-Pelham residents will get a special rate of $15 per vehicle. Both gates take cash and card payments and will close to the public at 7 p.m., prior to the fireworks show at 9 p.m.

July 4: The Rick Melanson Peavine Falls Run. 7 a.m. Oak Mountain State Park, 200 Terrace Drive. The 8.2-mile run has become a 4th of July tradition and is part of the Birmingham Track Club Race

Series. The cost per participant is $35. For more registration and more information, visit birminghamtrackclub.com/events/peavine-falls.

July 4: Shiner Ridge Revival Trail Run. 7 p.m. Oak Mountain State Park, 200 Terrace Drive. This 7.4-mile trail run honors Oak Mountain State Park’s rich moonshining history. During Prohibition, Double Oak Mountain was known for providing more moonshine than anywhere else in Alabama. Runners will race to the top of King’s Chair during “golden hour,” where they can see the sunset atop one of Alabama’s most iconic overlooks.

July 6: Chelsea Community Christian Outreach Food Pantry. 10 a.m. to noon. Chelsea Church Of Christ, 10724 Chelsea Road. Held the first Saturday of every month for those in need of food items. Food will be distributed while supplies last. For more information, visit “Chelsea Community Christian Outreach” on Facebook.

July 8-11: Casita Madrigal Camp. 10-11:15 a.m. Iron City Dance Factory, 7350 Cahaba Valley Road Suite 103. Ages 2-5. For more information, visit ironcitydance.com.

July 8-11: Broadway Camp. 11 a.m. to noon. Iron City Dance Factory, 7350 Cahaba Valley Rd Suite 103. Ages 8 and older. For more information, go to ironcitydance.com.

July 13: Music with DB Cooper Duo and food from The Lil Bougie Foodie. Noon to 4 p.m. Cat-n-Bird Winery, 11661 Old Highway 280, Chelsea. Visit cat-n-bird.com.

July 14: Sean of the South “On The Air” Series. 4-6 p.m. Song Theater, 105 W. College Street, Columbiana. A summer series of live-broadcast performances, featuring Sean Dietrich and special guests. Each performance will be recorded for future broadcast, featuring Sean and friends, with a mix of humor, storytelling and eclectic musical performances. The audience will be part of the live recording. Tickets $30, plus tax. Visit shelbycountyartscouncil.com/events for tickets and more information.

July 16-18: Asbury Summer Fun Camp — Manners Matter. Noon to 3 p.m. Asbury United Methodist Church, 6690 Cahaba Valley Road. Rising grades 2-6. Your child will learn about good manners, from how to introduce themselves to saying please and thank you. The cost is $70 per child. For more information, visit asburybham.org/ summer.

July 20: Music with Michael Lawson and food from Wasabi Juan’ss. Noon to 4 p.m. Cat-n-Bird Winery. 11661 Old Highway 280, Chelsea. Visit cat-n-bird.com.

July 21: Sanchez and Friends. 5-7 p.m. Song Theater, 105 W. College Street, Columbiana, Alabama. Sanchez Tanniehill is an inspirational gospel music artist. Tickets are $25 each. For more information, visit shelbycountyartscouncil.com/events/sanchez-and-friends.

July 27: Music with Rob Thorworth and food from Blacktop Bistro. Noon to 4 p.m. Cat-n-Bird Winery. 11661 Old Highway 280, Chelsea. Visit cat-n-bird.com. e event. Visit chelseafest. com.

Hoover mother-son duo to compete in Transplant Games

Chase Waters and his mother, Jennifer McCombs Thompson, have a special bond.

Waters was born with a rare kidney disorder, and Thompson donated a kidney to her son during his freshman year at Hoover High School. Thirteen years later, the dynamic duo are healthy and active, and ready to compete in the 2024 Transplant Games of America this July in Birmingham.

While in utero, Waters developed hydronephrosis, a condition in which the kidneys are unable to rid the body of urine. At birth, one of his kidneys was no longer functioning and the other was only partially functioning. Waters and Thompson knew throughout his childhood that a kidney transplant was in his future.

“Growing up, they always knew that I had kidney problems and they always knew that I would, one day, need to have a transplant,” Waters said. “But I was able to live off of one kidney working anywhere between 20 and 30%.”

Despite the prognosis, Thompson said she was able to give her son as normal a childhood as possible, but he did have a strict regimen of medications and treatments. He even earned a spot on the freshman baseball team at Hoover High School before the transplant became necessary at age 15.

“He just wanted to be a normal kid, and for the most part he was,” Thompson said. “He took a lot of medications every day and they had to be taken at exactly the same time for effectiveness, and he had growth hormone shots to stimulate his growth. So that was really difficult.”

Now 28, Waters is in excellent shape. He currently works at Oak Leaf Lawn and Landscapes, based in Hoover, and he previously spent time working as a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service and as a park ranger at Lovers Key State Park in Florida.

Now that the Transplant Games are coming to Birmingham, Waters has signed up for a laundry list of competitions, including the 5K and 20K cycling events, the 4x100 relay and the high jump. He hopes he and the other competitors can be an encouragement to fellow organ transplant

“I’ve never seen a more determined kid when it comes to putting your all into something physically. That is a gift that he has, and it still resonates with him.

”patients, as well as a challenge to other athletes.

“We can hang,” Waters said. “As long as you take care of yourself, you can compete with anybody.

“I’ve never really had the chance to compete before because they [the Transplant Games] have always been in really far away cities like Chicago or Salt Lake City,” he added. “Having them in Birmingham is a statement for the city. I feel like I can’t not compete because it’s in my hometown.”

As a donor, Thompson is also competing in several cycling events. She said her son’s tenacity and bravery as a child were always a constant source of inspiration. Almost 30 years later, she is still in awe of her son’s abilities.

“I’ve never seen a more determined kid when it comes to putting your all into something physically,” Thompson said. “That is a gift that he has, and it still resonates with him. It’s still there.”

The 2024 Transplant Games of America will be held July 5-10 at venues throughout the Birmingham-Hoover area. The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex will be the primary site for the games, but the Hoover Met will host tennis matches and other area venues include Barber Motorsports Museum, Vestavia Bowl, the Birmingham Crossplex, Railroad Park and Highland Park.

To learn more about the Transplant Games, visit transplantgamesofamerica.org.

Jennifer McCombs Thompson, left, and her son Chase Waters, are preparing to participate in the 2024 Transplant Games of America in Birmingham. Thirteen years ago, Thompson donated a kidney to Waters when he was a freshman at Hoover High School.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer McCombs Thompson.

Mt Laurel Farmer’s Market celebrates 25 years this season

The Mt. Laurel Farmers’ Market kicked off its summer season on June 1.

Each Saturday morning through Oct. 7, residents gather in the town center for the market and craft fair. Vendors and local farmers will bring merchandise to sell to shoppers — everything from fruits and vegetables to dog treats and artwork. Visitors to the farmers’ market will see familiar favorites as well as several

new vendors. Kelly Burley, owner of Main Street Florist and manager of the market, said that the market will have different food trucks each weekend in addition to the fresh produce and other foods that will be available.

Businesses at the market will include Brady’s Natural, Alabama Kettle Corn, R&S Farms, as well as several crafters and other businesses with homemade or homegrown items. There is no set up fee or assigned space for

those who wish to be a vendor at the market. However, vendors are required to arrive between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. to set up, and they must stay until the market is over at noon. All items for sale must be homegrown or handmade.

The market will be open from 8 a.m. until noon at Manning Place on Saturdays until Oct. 7. For more information, call 205-408-2717 or visit the Mt Laurel Farmers’ Market group page on Facebook.

Pickles from Brady’s Natural. Photo courtesy of Brady’s Natural.
Patrons shop local booths at Mt Laurel during a Saturday market in 2019. Staff photos.


Spain Park’s Chapman Blevins (22) swings at a pitch in game one against Thompson during the first round of the Class 7A playoffs at Thompson High School in Alabaster on April 26. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

All-South Metro Baseball

Eagles’ Morman named Pitcher of Year

High school baseball in the Birmingham area is always full of quality teams with rosters of talented players. The annual Starnes Media All-South Metro Baseball Team aims to recognize those players who had outstanding spring seasons.

Hoover’s Mason Blasche earns Player of the Year honors for leading the Bucs as a position player and pitcher. Mountain Brook’s Caleb Barnett is the Hitter of the Year after a spectacular season at the plate, in addition to being one of the area’s top arms. Bryson Morman from Oak Mountain was brilliant on the mound all season and is the Pitcher of the Year.

Mountain Brook’s Lee Gann and Spain Park’s Will Smith share Coach of the Year honors after each led their team to the postseason. The Spartans nearly advanced to the semifinals with a strong season, while the Jags replaced many starters and still found their way back to the playoffs.

► Player of the Year: Mason Blasche, Hoover

► Hitter of the Year: Caleb Barnett, Mountain Brook

► Pitcher of the Year: Bryson Morman, Oak Mountain

► Coaches of the Year: Lee Gann, Mountain Brook, and Will Smith, Spain Park 1ST TEAM

► Pitcher: Mason Blasche, Hoover; hit for a .398 average and drove in 33 runs, while pitching more than 54 innings against stout competition.

► Pitcher: Bryson Morman, Oak Mountain; posted a 1.23 ERA and threw 25 consecutive scoreless innings.

► Pitcher: Jack Ross, Homewood; posted an 8-2 record with a 1.88 earned run average.

► Pitcher: Dylan Lewkutz,

Hewitt-Trussville; led the area with 70 innings and had a 1.68 ERA.

► Catcher: John Paul Head, Vestavia Hills; reached base at a .500 clip and drew 23 walks.

► First base: Will Adams, Hoover; another strong two-way player for the Bucs who won six games on the mound.

► Second base: James Graphos, Mountain Brook; stole 33 bases and knocked in 26 runs.

► Third base: Caleb Barnett, Mountain Brook; led the area with 8 home runs and was

a perfect 7-0 pitching with a 1.04 ERA.

► Shortstop: Steele Hall, Hewitt-Trussville; hit .331 and stole 31 bases.

► Infield: James Battersby, Spain Park; drove in 26 runs and stole 22 bags.

► Infield: Jaxson Wood, Hoover; racked up 48 hits and 24 RBIs, while hitting .364.

► Outfield: Brett Moseley, Hewitt-Trussville; one of the top players in the area, hitting .404 with 34 RBIs.

► Outfield: Chapman Blevins, Spain Park; hit .326 and drove in 28 runs.

► Outfield: Will Clark, Briarwood; drove in 23 runs with a .322 average.

► Designated hitter: Carson McFadden, John Carroll; had a big year with a .536 OBP and 31 RBIs.

► Designated hitter: Matthew Widra, Spain Park; belted four homers and drove in 36 runs.

► Utility: John Robicheaux, Mountain Brook; a tremendous two-way player, hitting .427 and winning seven games.

► Utility: Jake Souders, Briarwood; posted

Oak Mountain’s Bryson Morman is the 2024 Pitcher of the Year.
Photo courtesy of Tiffany Parkinson.

six wins on the mound and had a .546 OBP.


► Pitcher: Kenneth Diddell, Mountain Brook; set the state record for career saves by adding 11 this spring.

► Pitcher: CJ Gross, Spain Park; went 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

► Pitcher: Cooper Sain, Homewood; went a perfect 6-0 with a 1.34 ERA.

► Pitcher: Logan Moller, Chelsea; threw 53 2/3 innings and racked up an impressive 67 strikeouts.

► Catcher: Coleman Gray, Spain Park; drove in 29 runs and had a .496 OBP.

► First base: Carson Wideman, Hewitt-Trussville; hit .346 with 29 RBIs.

► Second base: Rob Wright, Hewitt-Trussville; came up clutch with 29 RBIs and a .522 OBP.

► Third base: Christian Helmers, Hewitt-Trussville; won seven games as a pitcher and was a strong two-way player.

► Shortstop: Nick McCord, Oak Mountain; racked up 32 hits and swiped 10 bases.

► Infield: Levi Nickoli, Homewood; hit five home runs and surrendered just a 1.59 ERA as a pitcher.

► Infield: Chase Lackey, Chelsea; had 33 hits and stole 19 bases.

► Outfield: Hunter Keller, Mountain Brook; hit .336, piling up 43 hits on the season.

► Outfield: William Tonsmeire, Vestavia Hills; hit .306 and stole 18 bases.

► Outfield: Aden Malpass, John Carroll; hit .391 and knocked in 26 runs.

► Designated hitter: Jackson Miller, John Carroll; drove in 30 runs.

► Designated hitter: Noah Smith, John Carroll; hit .435 with 31 RBIs.

► Utility: Jackson Barnes, Briarwood; hit .357 and won three games as a pitcher.

► Utility: Alex Harrison, Oak Mountain; hit .301 and held opponents to an 0.48 ERA in 29 innings pitched.


► Pitcher: William Andre, Hoover; Blake Patrick, Spain Park; Ty Shotts, Mountain Brook; John Littleton, Mountain Brook; Grant Hill, Chelsea; Cooper Huffman,

Briarwood’s Jake Souders (15) pitches in a game against Spain Park at Spain Park High School in March 2023.

Hewitt-Trussville; Chase Rafferty, Vestavia Hills; Collin Jones, Vestavia Hills; Kevin Jasinski, Oak Mountain.

► Catcher: Peyton Parkinson, Oak Mountain.

► Infield: Aiden Berke, Spain Park; Rhys Jones, Spain Park.

► Outfield: Cam Simpson, Hewitt-Trussville; Colby Durden, Hewitt-Trussville; Hayden Greer, John Carroll; Jeremiah Gary, Homewood; Camdyn Teague, Hoover; Carter Jackman, Hoover.

Starnes Media covers 10 schools across its six publications. The team is put together by the sports department in consultation with coaches.

Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

All-South Metro Softball

Maggie Daniel named Hitter of the Year

The 2024 Starnes Media All-South Metro Softball Team recognizes the top players in the area for their efforts throughout the high school softball season.

Hewitt-Trussville won its fourth state championship over the last six years, outlasting Daphne in a thrilling title game. Sara Phillips capped off her career in style, as the star pitcher threw nine shutout innings in that game and was masterful all season. She wins Player of the Year, the third year in a row that a Husky has earned the title.

Taylor Burt of the Huskies is the Coach of the Year and Tait Davidson of Vestavia Hills is the Pitcher of the Year, each for the second consecutive season. Spain Park’s Maggie Daniel is the Hitter of the Year after another terrific season behind the plate for the Jags.

► Player of the Year: Sara Phillips, Hewitt-Trussville

► Hitter of the Year: Maggie Daniel, Spain Park

► Pitcher of the Year: Tait Davidson, Vestavia Hills

► Coach of the Year: Taylor Burt, Hewitt-Trussville


► Pitcher: Sara Phillips, Hewitt-Trussville; went 16-2 in the circle, posting a 1.35 earned run average with 175 strikeouts.

► Pitcher: Tait Davidson, Vestavia Hills: posted a 15-8 record with a 1.32 earned run average, with 217 strikeouts in another strong season.

► Pitcher: Olivia Christian, Hoover; led the area with 21 wins, putting forth a 1.91 ERA and 100 strikeouts.

► Catcher: Maggie Daniel, Spain Park; one of the most feared hitters in the area, hitting 14 home runs and getting on base at a .613 clip.

► First base: Corey Goguts, Hewitt-Trussville; burst onto the scene with a .462 average, 10 home runs and 45 runs batted in.

► Second base: Lucy Spisto, Vestavia Hills; hit .385 with 31 stolen bases.

► Third base: Alea Rye, Oak Mountain; drove in 37 runs in her senior campaign.

► Shortstop: Bella Foran, Hoover; a firstteamer for the third straight year, hitting .400 with 52 RBIs.

► Infield: Olivia Faggard, Hewitt-Trussville; capped off her career with 43 RBIs for the state champs.

► Infield: Charlee Bennett, Spain Park; hit seven home runs, stole 30 bases and got on base at a .583 clip.

► Outfield: Emma Hawkins, Oak

Mountain; the catalyst for the offense, hitting .405 with 49 hits.

► Outfield: Hannah Christian, Hoover; had a phenomenal senior year, hitting .500 with 77 hits and 41 RBIs.

► Outfield: Ki Davis, Hoover; hit .413 with 62 hits and 29 stolen bases.

► Designated hitter: Sydney Carroll, Chelsea; one of the top power hitters in the area, finishing with 11 homers.

► Designated hitter: Meredith Kellum, Briarwood; hit .485 with 10 homers.

► Utility: Zaylen Tucker, Hewitt-Trussville; a strong season at the plate and in the circle, swiping 36 bases and winning 10 games.

► Utility: Mallory Ogle, John Carroll; hit

.418 and pitched for the Cavs.


► Pitcher: Kaitlyn Raines, Hoover; had a 14-6 record with a 1.34 ERA and 148 strikeouts.

► Pitcher: Ella Ussery, Spain Park; won 11 games and struck out 145 batters.

► Pitcher: Kate Hicks, Hewitt-Trussville; won eight games in her final season.

► Catcher: Anna DuBose, Oak Mountain; hit .423 and knocked in 28 runs.

► First base: Emma Stearns, Mountain Brook; drove in 30 runs in the middle of the order.

► Second base: Baylor McCluney, Chelsea; hit over .300 as a senior.

Chelsea’s Sydney Carroll (31) during a Sidney Cooper Invitational game on Feb. 24, at South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by Kyle Parmley.
Spain Park’s Maggie Daniel (14) makes contact in a game against Daphne during the AHSAA state softball tournament at Coccolocco Park in Oxford on May 13. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

► Third base: Teagan Huey, Spain Park; drove in 30 runs and walked 23 times.

► Shortstop: Madeline Epperson, Chelsea; finished her final season with a .406 OBP.

► Infield: Marrison Kearse, Mountain Brook; hit .362 with 26 RBIs in a versatile role.

► Infield: Chaney Peters, Hewitt-Trussville; drove in 33 runs.

► Outfield: Reagan Rape, Mountain Brook; knocked in 33 runs and stole 35 bases.

► Outfield: Sheridan Andrews, Oak Mountain; hit nearly .400, hit four homers and stole 20 bases as a sophomore.

► Outfield: Claire Robinett, Mountain Brook; an on-base machine (.530 OBP) and stolen base threat (29 steals).

► Designated hitter: Emily Williams, John Carroll; hit seven home runs with a .543 OBP.

► Designated hitter: AhKeela Honeycutt, Hewitt-Trussville; hit seven homers and had the walk-off hit at state

► Utility: Katie Hopson, Chelsea; sparked the Hornets with a .374 average and 28 RBIs.

► Utility: Mia Gonzalez, Homewood; the Patriots’ most versatile player, collecting 45

RBIs and pitching well.


► Pitcher: Reagan Stewart, Spain Park; Kelsey Crain, Oak Mountain; Sophia Williams, Oak Mountain; Annie Gregory, Mountain Brook; Grace Pilgrim, Homewood; Alaysha Crews, Chelsea; Jaley Young, Spain Park.

► Catcher: AT Goldman, Mountain Brook; Lindsey Westhoven, Hoover.

► Infield: Edith Kaplan, Mountain Brook; Mollie Hanson, Hoover; Kloeanne Smith, Homewood; Claire Purkey, Chelsea; Emma

Parmley, Chelsea; Caroline Brown, Chelsea; Carolyn Graham, Oak Mountain.

► Outfield: Bella Williams, Oak Mountain; Caroline Charles, Spain Park; Tatum Lasseter, Spain Park; Lexie Kelly, Hewitt-Trussville; Madison Letson, Homewood.

► Designated hitter: Allie Whitaker, Spain Park; Makaila Hope, Hewitt-Trussville.

Starnes Media covers 10 schools across its six publications. The team is put together by the sports department in consultation with coaches.

Evict cockroaches and keep them gone with these tips:

Clean Regularly - cockroaches thrive in filthy, grimy places. Keep food sealed away, trash bins clean, and sinks free of food waste.

Vacuum too - one roach can quickly become 50, so vacuum in all those nooks and crannies to do away with any eggs and hiding spots.

Minimize moisture sources - cover drains overnight and fully enpty sinks and tubs after using.

Oak Mountain's Emma Hawkins (5) during a game between Chilton County and Oak Mountain on April 15 at Oak Mountain High School. Photo by Kyle Parmley.

Life on 280

Fishing with Randy Kendall Williams

Kendall Williams is the manager of tourism and events for Shelby County and also serves as executive director of Leadership Shelby County.

Q: Tell us a bit about you.

A: I’ve lived in Shelby County for over 30 years and love raising my kids here. I have two children, a 13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, and we love hiking and playing in Oak Mountain State Park and just enjoying all the outdoor recreation that we have here.

Q: What’s the best part about living here?

A: We have all the things that encompass what makes up a great quality of life for residents. We have phenomenal schools for our children. We have great public safety, and then we have phenomenal outdoor recreation spots in our backyard, whether it’s Double Oak Park, Oak Mountain State Park or Carver Park. There is something for everybody.

Q: How did you decide to pursue your career?

A: I wouldn’t say that I actually pursued a career in tourism. Specifically, my career path between local credit unions, being the

community liaison and then moving into the school board, it really just immersed me into the community at large. This opportunity came around for me to dive in even deeper and make a greater impact in our community.

Q: What’s something about you that people might be surprised to learn?

A: Overall, one thing that I think is interesting for people to learn is that one, I’m one of five children and we have lived here, like I said, for over 30 years. And at one point, all five of us were in five different schools within Shelby County. My older brothers graduated from Pelham High School, I graduated from Chelsea and then my little brother and sister graduated from Oak Mountain. And my parents have been in the same house since we moved here.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

A: I’m not sure if I would change anything. I’m learning to embrace all that God has blessed me with and really trying to be thankful and appreciate every little aspect, even those parts that are difficult at times. But there’s a lot of growth and learning that can happen in the difficult times, as well.

This is a picture of my friend Randy Wideman and myself in the spring of 1978. We were both 18 years old. The green mobile home in the background was my wife, Cindy, and my first home. Randy and his wife, Dana, were our first next-door neighbors. Randy and I became best friends. Both of us loved to hunt and fish, but his specialty was crappie fishing. One particular fishing trip happened the day before the picture was taken. We were both off work, so we decided to go fishing even though the weather forecast was cold and windy. We were fishing on Lake Mitchell in Chilton County. About mid-morning, the temperature started dropping and it began to sleet. If we were smart, we would have given it up for the day, but the crappie were biting.

It was a cold and miserable day, but it was also a great day. We caught our limit in spite of the cold conditions.

Our adventure fishing in the sleet, wind and rain ended up in a story in The Birmingham News. I will never forget Randy telling me that if anyone asked where we caught the fish, I


a few months ago. We had drifted apart but maintained occasional contact. I fished with him the last time a couple of years ago. I still miss my friend, but this old picture is a lasting reminder of a great time in our lives.

was to tell them Lay Lake. He didn’t want a bunch of people to start going crappie fishing on Lake Mitchell.
friend Randy passed away
Randy Wideman (left) and Tony Picklesimer (right) show their haul of fish they caught on Lake Mitchell in 1978. Photo courtesy of Tony Picklesimer.

News Around Town

Vestavia school employees get pay raises

Employees with the Vestavia Hills Board of Education are going into the new school year with pay increases, from the top of the salary scale to the bottom.

The Vestavia Hills school board recently approved new contracts with raises for the superintendent and chief school finance officer, as well as a state-mandated 2% salary increase for all employees in the district, plus additional raises for certain other employees with local school money.

The board raised Superintendent Todd Freeman’s annual salary to $239,500 and Chief School Finance Officer Courtney Brown’s salary from $125,042 to $152,000. Freeman’s new contract, which extends four years until May 31, 2028, also provides him with:

► An auto allowance of $12,000 a year

► A monthly contribution to his deferred compensation retirement account of $1,250 a month

► A housing allowance of $2,500 a month

► $100,000 worth of life insurance

Groundbreaking held for new fire station

Mountain Brook Mayor Stewart Welch said that the new fire station No. 2 is a dream that’s been in the making for years.

“We are so happy today to see the beginning of this dream coming to fruition,” Welch said at a groundbreaking event held on June 10. “The old fire station served us well for the past 50 years, and we’ve outgrown it.”

Welch said the city found “a perfect piece of property right near the old fire station.” He said this location is a safer spot for the fire department, so when they’re exiting during an emergency, both the fire vehicles and oncoming drivers will have better lines of sight.

► The ability to earn up to 15 additional days of incentive pay if he works more than 240 days a year

► A $10,000 bonus if he continues to work as superintendent through his 10th employment anniversary on March 12, 2028

In addition to the mandated 2% state pay increase, Vestavia Hills teachers who have a bachelor’s degree will get another 2% raise with local money, and teachers with a master’s degree, educational specialist degree or doctorate will get another 3% above the state raise, Freeman said. Some teachers may get even more of a raise due to some other adjustments in the pay scale that were made to make Vestavia Hills more competitive with other districts, Freeman said. Others getting additional raises include custodians, child nutrition employees and day care workers.

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“There’s all new technology and best practices around fire stations, and we’re going to be able to do that for our firemen and our community,” Welch said.

He thanked the members of the city council for their support of the project, along with city manager Sam Gaston and assistant city manager and Finance Director Steve Boone.

Mountain Brook City Council member Virginia Smith said that one of the city’s greatest achievements is its top-notch first responders, and the city and council receive many emails and texts for all they do for the community.

Fire Chief Chris Mullins said it was a very special day for him and a once-in-a-career event to open a new station as a fire chief.

“I’m very proud to be part of this project,”

Mullins said. “For me personally, this is a day of gratitude. We started discussing a new fire station five years ago and asked the mayor and council to put it on the radar. After much discussion, justification, very careful consideration and thorough planning, here we are today.”

Mullins thanked all the members of the MBFD and said they make decisions as a family and they were able to give input on what the station would be.

The future site of Fire Station No. 2 will be 3100 Overton Road. Construction began on May 7 and is expected to take one year, Welch said.

“This project is for our first responders, and we want to thank you for your continuous professional excellence,” Welch said. “We look forward to having you move into your new home, and we thank you for supporting this project.”

Renderings of the new Mountain Brook Fire Station No. 2 during a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site on June 10. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
In June, the Vestavia Hills Board of Education voted to raise Superintendent Todd Freeman’s annual salary to $239,500, along with other employee salary increases. Photo by David Leong.

5299 Valleydale Road Suite 111 Birmingham, AL 35242 (two blocks from 280) 205-980-9030 www.southeasternjewelers.net

Holy Moly Motherhood By Alana Smith New Shoes

I found some new “mom shoes” this weekend. They are flat, slip-on Sperry’s. You don’t even have to tie any laces. I am calling them my “boat shoes,” although we do not have a boat. They are the perfect shoes for chasing a small child.

I’m really excited about them, mostly because they were $6 at our local thrift store. You can’t even get a latte for six bucks anymore, so these were a steal.

I love a good thrift store. I go in with no expectations, and I come out with four books for two dollars. Or I’ll stumble upon the perfect glass container for putting my detergent pods in (for fifty cents!). I have the same feelings toward antique stores (most are not filled with actual antiques, but I like them anyway). Maybe I love the treasure hunt factor. Or the I-don’t-bring-my-kids-with-me factor. Or the bargain shopping factor. Or just the relaxing factor, as I mosey up and down the aisles without anyone asking me for anything.

I think it’s mostly that there are hidden stories here. Used books and furniture. Old baskets and lamps. Antique mugs and vases. Old toolboxes and paintings. Matching sets of Pyrex that likely cooked hundreds of casseroles. These shoes. Were these shoes loved? They aren’t really that old, but they looked a little beat-up when I got them. Nothing the washer and a dry eraser couldn’t fix, though. Or were these shoes just not the right fit in their previous life? Maybe they rubbed the person the wrong way, so out they went. And that’s the best part to me. They didn’t end up in the garbage. They ended up on

my tired feet. These shoes got a second chance.

And I think people are kind of like this. We walk through so many phases of life — trying on others and seeing who fits. Teenage friends. First loves. Real loves. Work friends. Mom friends. We might not be a good fit on the first try. We might rub someone the wrong way, or they us, and we choose to distance ourselves (maybe for now or maybe forever). We try on some new shoes. Your relationships might be comfortable and broken in, or one might be rubbing a blister every time you step.

But I think, whether you’re the person putting out the old shoes or you’re the old shoes in one situation, you still have a story to tell.

A different direction or purpose. A second chance.

Someone’s opinion of you shouldn’t define your journey. Because the good thing about opinions is that everyone has one, and they aren’t all the same. One person may think you aren’t a good fit, but when you least expect it, someone will scoop you up and say, “Look at these shoes!”

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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Smith visited the library with her daughter earlier this year, and she once again decided to resume her volunteer duties.

“We convinced her to come back and volunteer just on Mondays,” Polk said. “I pick her up and take her home, she volunteers for about two hours each week. She’s a special lady to the library.”

“I just do whatever they need doing that I can do,” Smith said. “It gives me something to do that takes up my time.”

Volunteering at the library works out great for Smith, who said she loves to read. Her favorites are novels and Christian fiction.

Chelsea Public Library isn’t the first that Smith has worked in. After attending Phillips High School, she was a student at the University of Alabama, studying home economics, and spent time working in the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.

She and Charles graduated and were married in 1948. He worked and they lived in Acipco in north Birmingham. She later worked for the former Alabama Gas, doing home demonstrations and cooking schools.

Smith found her true calling after she spent time substitute teaching.

“The principal at the elementary school called and asked me if I could come sit with a class,” Smith recalled. “He couldn't find a substitute and someone to sit with the class. I decided I wasn’t going to just sit, so I started teaching and we had a good time.”

The administration at the school encouraged her to get her teaching certificate and she did, along with a master’s degree, and she became an eighth grade science teacher at Bottenfield Junior High School.

“She is a people person. Instead of sitting at home, she gets out and goes up there and she works and she talks to people. She has always liked working in the library. I think it does a world of good for her.

”her father passed away, she and her siblings weren’t going to let their mom just sit around, so they made sure she had things to do. She now has plans two days per week instead of five, and she said the library and community center days are her favorites.

Mary Smith and her siblings are proud of their mother and said that volunteering at the library really helps her.

“She is a people person,” Mary Smith said. “Instead of sitting at home, she gets out and goes up there and she works and she talks to people. She has always liked working in the library. I think it does a world of good for her. At 97, a lot of people don’t have places they can go and do things.”

Mary Smith also knows the importance and enjoyment of her mother’s Thursdays at the community center.

“Sometimes they play dominos, but Rook is her favorite game,” she said. “She and the same lady play Rook every Thursday. We know not to schedule anything for her on Thursdays because she’ll get you if you schedule something over her game day!”

Inez Smith, 97, sits at a table with a stack of books she recently read, as she volunteers at the Chelsea Public Library. She said reading is one of her favorite hobbies Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

project that will serve this area of the park.

The courts opened to the public just before Memorial Day. No ribbon cutting had been held as of 280 Living’s press deadline, but the space has already been frequented by many pickleballers.

“It’s a great project,” County Manager Chad Scroggins said. “Basically the day they opened it, it was already full.”


► Project: Pavilion, restrooms, parking lot

► Status: Completion estimated in mid-late July

In order to provide access into Oak Mountain State Park via an entrance off U.S. 280, the county is working to complete a $250,000 hiking/biking entrance off Belcher Road, with a two-mile connector trail that leads into the park.

The parking lot will serve as a trailhead and feature two restrooms (one including a shower) with a combined pavilion space.

The state Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and OMSP will be responsible for the installation of an automated payment gate, which will allow guests entrance to the area with an annual pass or credit card for the same fee as the other OMSP entrances: $5 per adult (age 12 and older); $2 per child (ages 4 to 11); $2 for seniors (age 62 and older); and free for ages 3 and younger.

“When Forever Wild purchased this property [1,000 acres of land], they hit a home run,” Gauntt said.

Once parked, guests can walk or bike to a connected trail on the Belcher Byway, which is about a two-mile trek or ride that comes out at Lunker Lake, near the back entrance of the park off Alabama 119.

“This provides access to all of the residents up and down U.S. 280 from Chelsea into town,” Scroggins said. “It makes a very convenient access to go for a short bike ride or hike to the fishing lakes there. There's a nice lake called Catfish Lake four-tenths of a mile from a beautiful vista that overlooks the rest of the park. It will provide a very convenient access into OMSP without having to drive into the Pelham

side of the park.”


► Project: Lighting upgrade

► Status: To be completed before the first Oak Mountain High School football game on Aug. 23

Gauntt said the electrical panels at Heardmont Stadium are in dire need of repair and replacement. The existing concrete poles will be used.

The current lighting and controls will be replaced with brighter, more efficient LED fixtures that have better controls.

This project will be a partnership between the county and Shelby County Schools, totalling $300,000. The county will pay $250,000 from lodging tax and tourism funds and the school system will foot $50,000 of the project’s costs.

“The lighting manufacturer and contractor moved things around on their schedules to be able to complete the project before the first home game,” Scroggins said.


► Project: Lighting upgrade

► Status: Potentially August or September 2024

Using funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and local

tourism funding, fields five and six at Dunnavant Valley Fields will be getting upgraded electrical panels.

LED fixtures and controls were upgraded on fields three and four several years ago, since those are the most used fields.

Gauntt said these fields are heavily used by Birmingham United Soccer Association as well as the Birmingham Legion for their practices.

The total cost of the project is $210,000, with $82,000 from grants and county tourism funds paying the remaining amount.

“This will solve some of the electrical issues,” Scroggins said. “Some of the lights are 20 to 30 years old and have reached the end of lifespan.”

Once the materials arrive in July, the project should be completed within six to eight weeks, according to the county.

Another project will be putting up new netting on fields one and two in a split partnership with BUSA, with each entity paying $35,000.


► Project: 12-mile trail addition

► Status: End of July or early August 2024

According to Gauntt, the contractor on the Double Oak Park project, FloMotion Trail Builders, was about 80% complete as 280 Living’s deadline, and the project should be finishing up in the next six weeks or so.

Funded through a Recreational Trail Grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the total cost of the 12-mile trail project is $570,000.

The entrance to the park is on Highway 43 in the Chelesa/Sterrett area.

“We want to drive people to the trailhead there,” Gauntt said. “You can get to that park from the Shelby County 41 side, but it crosses private property owned by a developer that includes a fence. The Double Oak Park access off Shelby County 43 is a much larger and separate park. The two are not connected right now, but we are working on trying to acquire more property to connect the two.”


► Project: Restroom and pavilion project

► Status: Complete

Altadena Valley Park is a 66-acre passive park located on the former Altadena Valley Country Club golf course. Part of the park is located in Shelby County, and the county partnered with the city of Vestavia Hills to build a restroom and pavilion project, including furnishing materials and labor, getting power to the site and building the parking lot there. The county’s portion of the project was $100,000.

The park is currently undergoing a multiphased refresh that will encompass a new pavilion and rest shelter, bridge restoration, native wildflower and grass plantings, as well as a pathway system that will further connect the site. It will be a passive park, which means a public park that does not host specifically programmed activities but rather offers a variety of recreational opportunities in a natural setting.

Gauntt shared that the county is researching additional locations for pickleball sites to meet the demand.

“In the pickleball arena, we are actively looking for spots to put courts in several different locations,” he said. “Two of the potential sites for news locations are at Heardmont Park and Forest Park.”

Scroggins said the biggest key is that the county is continuously looking for grant opportunities and partners to make these projects happen.

“It improves the quality of life of our residents in Shelby County, and we’re always looking at ways to keep the cost down through these partnerships and through grant programs,” he said.

at the former Altadena Valley Golf Course on Lakeland Trail off Acton Road in Vestavia Hills, seen on June 14. The city of Vestavia Hills partnered with Shelby County on improvements to the park. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
Work continues on the new parking area and pavilion at the new entrance to Oak Mountain State Park from Belcher Road off U.S. 280 in Chelsea on June 14.

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