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November 2020 | Volume 14 | Issue 3




Alabama Wildlife Center takes on rehab, conservation, education for feathered friends By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Nestled up a hill in the woods of Oak Mountain State Park sits one of the state’s oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation and conservation education centers. The Alabama Wildlife Center receives almost 2,000 birds from more than 100 different species that it helps rehab back to health and eventually release back into the wild. If a bird’s injuries prevent it from being released, it will become a permanent resident and possibly an education raptor. In the past, the center was mainly focused on rehabilitation, but it now has a dual focus on rehab along with environmental education, to create a greater appreciation for wildlife resources. It works to heighten the public’s awareness and appreciation of Alabama’s native wildlife. Founded in 1977 as a small, home-based, all-volunteer organization, the AWC has spent the past 43 years serving thousands of native birds and wild animals.

See AWC | page A30 A Eurasian eagle owl finds its balance on the glove of Andrew Arnold, the director of education and outreach, at the Alabama Wildlife Center at Oak Mountain State Park. The Alabama Wildlife Center’s Eurasian eagle owl — the largest owl species in the world — is one of the educational birds that was brought to the center after being kept as a pet. Photo by Erin Nelson.

INSIDE Sponsors .......... A4 280 News ..........A6 Chamber.......... A15 Business........... A16 Community..... A22 Schoolhouse.... A25

‘Mayor’ of Greystone

Sports.................B4 Events................B17 Metro Roundup...B26 Faith................. B29 Real Estate..... B30 Calendar............B31

Oak Mountain Missions continues its calling to help others in need By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE


Mary Sue Ludwig moved to the community in 1992 to be a young socialite, but she says ‘it didn’t work out that way.’

See page B12

Located in a large brick building off Pelham Parkway in Pelham, Oak Mountain Missions exists to demonstrate the love of Christ by providing food, clothing, furniture and financial assistance to those in need in Shelby County and the greater Birmingham area. Oak Mountain Missions “works to bring love to those who feel they are not loved and share with the needy just as the Lord shares with us.” The mission assisted more than 6,900 families last year. Its total estimated cost for that assistance in 2019 was more than $1.6 million, done with help from donations and church partners.

See MISSIONS | page A29

Judy Murray selects bread varieties as she prepares bags of dry goods at Oak Mountain Missions Ministries in Pelham. Photo by Erin Nelson.

A2 • November 2020

280 Living


November 2020 • A3


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A4 • November 2020

280 Living

About Us Editor’s Note By Leah Ingram Eagle It’s November — the month where we are thankful and focus on our blessings. 2020 hasn’t been the year any of us had hoped it would be, but like the quote says, “There is always something to be thankful for.” Here are some things I’m thankful for: ► Being able to work from home since March. ► My kids going back to school five days a week. ► That our family has been spared from COVID-19. ► My favorite season, fall. ► Going back to church in person. ► The end of the 2020 election. ► Spending Thanksgiving with my family and seeing my brother and sister-in-law from Denver. ► Organizations that help others. ► Getting to be the editor of this paper and bring you stories

every month. This month, we are highlighting three nonprofits in Shelby County that are doing great things. The Alabama Wildlife Center, located at Oak Mountain State Park, takes in injured birds and rehabs them back to health so they can be released back into the wild. The ones unable to return to the wild are provided a forever home there. Oak Mountain Missions, which

began in 2001, provides help to those in need. Although things have changed a bit during COVID19, it has continued to provide food and financial assistance and serve its clients. An organization helping our schools is the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation. Its mission is to support, enhance and recognize excellence in education. Through donations and sponsorships, it gives back about $200,000 to students, teachers and schools throughout the county. I hope these stories encourage you to find a way to give back and help others during this season.

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Lily Williams, 8, crosses the finish line at the Kitty Kat Haven and Rescue 5K Meow-A-Thon at Veterans Park on Oct. 3. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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November 2020 • A5

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances


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A6 • November 2020

280 Living

280 News Council discusses fire dues, new city projects The mayor and members of the Chelsea City Council discussed the issue of fire dues among other topics during the Oct. 20 meeting. Screenshot by Lean Ingram Eagle.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Neighbors outside of Chelsea city limits will be receiving mailing notices for fire dues in the coming weeks. “We offer complete fire protection services and paramedic services to all of our neighbors from a residential side for a fee of $250 per year,” Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer said during the Oct. 20 City Council meeting. “I think it’s an outstanding value to have our services available outside our city, and I encourage people to take advantage of that and please fill out your form and send in your payment.” The Chelsea Fire and Rescue Department has an annual budget for 2020-21 of $3.5 million. Picklesimer said he is proud of the services the city offers adjoining neighbors and added if that amount of money creates a financial hardship for some, they can enroll in a payment plan with no interest. “There’s really no reason to leave yourself unprotected,” he said. “It is truly a gamble not to pay your fire dues.” Those who live inside the Chelsea city limits have fire coverage at no cost as part of their citizenship. Picklesimer commended City Clerk Crystal Etheredge for sending letters to property owners last year who were eligible for annexation. He said if citizens want to explore annexation or aren’t sure whether they are in the city limits, they can call City Hall and find out. “After a fire is not a good time to figure that out,” Picklesimer said. “Call City Hall at 205678-8455, and we will be happy to look up your property and see where you stand.” Also during the Oct. 20 meeting, four resolutions were approved to award Nick Grant funds to the five Chelsea schools. Some of the items requested included

charging stations for laptops, cubbies on wheels, flexible seating furniture, technology, smartboard, Storyworks and Scholastic news. “I had the privilege to deliver this first round of Nick Grant checks to all five of our schools today,” Picklesimer said. “They were so appreciative of it. It’s one of the most fun things you guys let me do is go take that money to them.” One annexation request from John and Whitney Hodge for a portion of their property at Lot No. 1, White Oak Manor, was approved, along with approval of the city’s bills to be paid. Casey Morris discussed the second video in the Home is Here Campaign: Live Above, and it was played for those in the chambers and

watching on Facebook Live. “The thing behind the video and heartbeat of this council is that we strive to live above the standard and do everything in a form of excellence to serve our citizens in the best way we can,” Morris said. “This video captures a good bit of that.” The city’s Public Information Officer, Wayne Morris, recently shared photos of the city’s new playground on social media, which were received with a lot of attention. While it’s not ready for public use because of the construction zone, Picklesimer said they are in the process of making it safe for citizens to get to it. The projected opening date is Nov. 1.

Picklesimer said the city has recently contracted for a 5.2-mile cross-country track joining Chelsea High School in the next phase at the athletic complex. The council also approved a proclamation to declare November 2020 as National Runaway Prevention Month.


► Nov. 2: Mayor and council members will take oaths of office. 5:30 p.m. ► Nov. 3: City Council meeting. 6 p.m. ► Nov. 11: Veterans Day; city offices closed. ► Nov. 14: Used book sale at Chelsea Public Library. 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


November 2020 • A7

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A8 • November 2020

280 Living

Chelsea schools receive more Nick Grant funds By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Chelsea schools are receiving more money from the city thanks to the Nick Grant Program. The council approved funds in the amount of $134,941.16 to go to all five Chelsea schools during its Oct. 6 meeting. Mayor Tony Picklesimer thanked those who serve on the Nick Grant Committee and said he appreciates their work. “All five of our schools applied for grants, and this money comes directly from the 1-cent sales tax that was approved for our education fund,” Picklesimer said. “We are grateful we get the opportunity to help in this way.” The city also accepted a payment of $30,000 for paving of roads from an action against Greenwich Insurance Company and will dismiss the city suit in circuit court with prejudice. Four zoning ordinances were approved: ► Annexation by the Shelby County Board of Education for 10.3 acres at 10510 Shelby County 11 on the back of Chelsea High School. ► Rezoning request from Denise Batson for 12.1 acres located at 54 Simmons Drive from A-R (Agricultural-Residential) to E-1 (Single Family Estate). ► Annexation by William and Darlene Sharp for 0.89 acres at 263 Dorough Road, Columbiana. ► Annexation by David and Tonya Willingham for +/- 0.147 acres at 3085 Chelsea Ridge Trail. This will allow the developer to build a cul-de-sac at the end of Chelsea Ridge Trail to provide a good turn around place for firetrucks and other service trucks.

The Chelsea City Council awarded the five Chelsea schools more than $134,000 in Nick Grant Program funds during its Oct. 6 meeting. Photo courtesy of Wayne Morris.

During the community forum, Emily Sims said the Cloud library went live Oct. 1. Patrons can log in with their library card and access e-books and audio books. Fire Chief Joe Lee said several changes are underway at the fire department, adding he is

very proud of how things are going. “The guys all have great attitudes, and I couldn’t ask to be associated with a better group,” he said. The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce gave out its public service award for firefighter of the year, presenting former Chief Wayne

Shirley with the honor. “The guys got together and collected money and bought a small golden ax and had it engraved and presented it to his son,” Lee said. “It meant a lot that it came from the guys, and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”


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November 2020 • A9

Public building closing schedule for upcoming holidays By JON ANDERSON and LEAH INGRAM EAGLE



City, county and state offices will close for both the Veterans Day and Thanksgiving holidays in 2020, but some public buildings will have different holiday hours. Veterans Day is Wednesday, Nov. 11, and Thanksgiving is Thursday, Nov. 26. Here is this year’s operating schedule for the two holidays:


FOR ONE YEA credit with approved


► Chelsea City Hall: Closed for Veterans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ► Chelsea Public Library: Closed for Veterans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ► Chelsea Community Center: Closed for Veterans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ► Shelby County Schools: Closed for Veterans Day and Nov. 23-27 for Thanksgiving. ►  Garbage:  Normal pickup on Veterans Day; for Thanksgiving week, garbage normally picked up Thursday will be picked up Friday, and garbage normally picked up Friday will be picked up Saturday.


► Hoover City Hall and city offices in the Hoover Public Safety Center: Closed for Veterans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ► Hoover Public Library: Closed for Veterans Day; closing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, and all day Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving; also closing at 3 p.m. Dec. 1 in advance of city Christmas tree lighting at 5 p.m. ► Hoover Recreation Center: Open regular hours (5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.) on Veterans Day; closed Thursday, Nov. 26, for Thanksgiving and open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. ► Aldridge Gardens: Open normal winter hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) on Veterans Day; closed Thanksgiving Day. ► Hoover Senior Center: Was still closed due to COVID-19 as of mid-September but definitely will be closed for Veterans Day and

Veterans Day will be celebrated Wednesday, Nov. 11. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ► Hoover City Schools: Closed for Veterans Day; As of mid-September, e-learning days planned for Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 23-24; closed Wednesday-Friday, Nov. 25-27, for Thanksgiving. ►  Garbage:  Normal pickup on Veterans Day; for Thanksgiving week, garbage normally picked up Thursday will be picked up Friday, and garbage normally picked up Friday will be picked up Saturday.


► Jefferson County offices (including Hoover satellite office): Closed Veterans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ► Shelby County offices (including Inverness license office): Closed Veterans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ► Alabama Department of Revenue Jefferson-Shelby Taxpayer Service Center: Closed for Veterans Day and usually Thursday and Friday, Nov. 26-27, for Thanksgiving; all visits by appointment only due to COVID-19.


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A10 • November 2020

280 Living

Mutual aid agreement for water services approved By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE The Shelby County Commission approved a resolution supporting ACT 2020-93, allowing for mutual aid and support for water and other utility services throughout the county. County Manager Chad Scroggins said this would allow municipalities or other board partners that have water and sewer services in Shelby County to work directly with each other in the event of an emergency, and costs could be shared or repaid back from one to the other. “This is a mutual aid agreement; it’s similar to what we do to fire services,” Scroggins said. “The legislative delegation in Shelby County supported and sponsored this, and the Legislature passed this for Shelby County only. The work done by [county attorney] Butch Ellis and [water services manager] Michael Cain helped to get this put together and it has been significant.” The agreement is not so much about giving aid, but being able to get into contracts. The structure put in place has protocol for emergency calls for help and has a contract for reimbursement. “It’s a pretty efficient operation that has finally come to fruition,” Ellis said. Scroggins said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recommending this type of system throughout the United States, but some of the different areas have a little bit of friction. He said the good thing is Shelby County started doing training among all of the water services and utilities within the county, and a meeting has already taken place that had representatives from the 14 water service systems and 17 sewer/water systems. During the county manager’s report, Scroggins recognized M4A (Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging) for receiving a national level achievement award from the dementia training program. The program allows M4A to have

Members of the Shelby County Commission discuss agenda items during the Sept. 28 meeting. Screenshot by Leah Ingram Eagle.

information on hand and available for people with family first responders, while the sheriff's office allows it to get back to family quicker. A virtual ceremony was Sept. 22. Sheriff John Samaniego said his department had been previously trained by M4A on how to deal with dementia patients, and Shelby County was the first sheriff's office in the state to be dementia friendly. During the financial review, Scroggins said that while things are holding tight, the top 10 sales tax revenue producers have changed and

that online sales tax has been strong. CFO Cheryl Naugher said sales for August 2019 and this year are still in the positive and heading in the right direction. Rental tax had a slight increase from the prior year of $80,000 but is still behind year-to-date actuals. Lodging is still 22% under budget, and gas tax percentages were up a little, at 6% under budget for the year. In his county engineer’s report, Randy Cole said a vacation and acceptance of right of way has taken place at the intersection realignment

of Shelby County roads 12 and 22. The county also received a $1.1 million grant from the state to build a roundabout at the Shelby County Airport. That project is currently being advertised for bid. A resolution was passed for grant funds for Shelby County Airport to add another hangar. Scroggins said they will be utilizing U.S. Federal Aviation Administration funds to add hangar storage. The FAA will pay 90%, and the state and county will each pay 5% of the cost.

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November 2020 • A11

Alabama’s #1 Source for Gold and Silver

We Buy and Sell Precious Metals • No Sales Tax Members of the Shelby County Commission work during their Oct. 12 meeting. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.

Shelby County CFO: Lodging, rental, highway taxes dip, sales tax rise By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE During the Oct. 12 Shelby County Commission meeting, CFO Cheryl Naugher gave a financial revenue update that included 12 months of revenue report through September 2020. The hardest hit areas because of the COVID-19 pandemic were lodging, rental and highway taxes, while sales taxes were up. ► Rental tax ended at an 8.51% deficit, with an actual variance of $212,940 year to date. ► Lodging was under budget by 22%, with an actual variance of $553,118 year to date. ► Highway gas taxes were under budget at 5.92% overall with an actual variance of $309,433 year to date. ► Sales tax was up 6.51% with a $109,619 actual variance of $997,672 year to date. County Manager Chad Scroggins said the lodging tax was down significantly, and because of the decline, there would be fewer projects budgeted for 2021. During his county manager’s report, Scroggins gave an update on several projects: ► Construction on the County Services Building on U.S. 280 continues to move along. While it will serve as a polling place after completion, a temporary voting structure will be in place nearby for this year’s election. ► The new Chelsea playground is nearing completion, and that has been on the commission budget since 2019. ► They are looking at ways to run fiber to the campground at Oak Mountain State Park at a minimal cost. As for upcoming meetings, the commission is required to meet Wednesday, Nov. 11, after the election, when commissioners will be sworn in for their next term. Sheriff John Samaniego announced that during the upcoming election, there will be a deputy assigned to every polling precinct to prevent any problems at polling sites. County Engineer Randy Cole said there were some projects on the verge of getting kicked off, including the bridge project on Shelby County 55. Another public information meeting will be held to let the residents in Sterrett know the plans. He said he hopes to see construction of the bridge project on Shelby County 52 begins soon and that the annual resurfacing project is still ongoing after some disruption was caused

We are proud of the residents who have filled it out. Those who aren’t counted will cost the state $1,600 per year per person and $16,000 over 10 years of our state and government funding.


by recent weather. “We did get a permanent stay from the shortening of the Census, which will go through the end of this month,” Cole said. “This directly affects Shelby County and our gas tax allowance.” Scroggins encouraged residents to find someone they know who hasn’t filled out the census and encourage them to do so. “Alabama is no longer in last place, and Shelby County is leading the state out,” he said. “We are proud of the residents who have filled it out. Those who aren’t counted will cost the state $1,600 per year per person and $16,000 over 10 years of our state and government funding.” Several bids to be awarded included: ► Hygiene items for the jail and juvenile detention center to the lowest overall bidder, Americare ► Copper tubing - PVC to Ferguson Water Works ► General and state-certified concrete mix to the lowest overall bidder Two resolutions were approved: ► A joint purchasing resolution was passed that will allow municipalities, Board of Education and contracting agencies supported by the Shelby County Commission to make purchases from bids led by the commission. ► The commission approved the appointment of Lance Byrd of the Montevallo Fire Department by the Shelby County Fire and Emergency Medical Services to fill the unexpired term for former Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley on the County’s 911 Board.


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A12 • November 2020

280 Living

Hoover schools chief Murphy takes college president job Superintendent Kathy Murphy talks with the Hoover Board of Education during a school board meeting at the Farr Administration Building on Oct. 14. Murphy has accepted a new job as president of Gadsden State Community College and will begin that position Jan. 1. Photo by Jon Anderson.

By JON ANDERSON Hoover schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy has accepted a new job as president of Gadsden State Community College. Murphy, who has been superintendent for Hoover City Schools since the summer of 2015, will begin her new job Jan. 1, according to a news release from the Alabama Community College System. “Dr. Murphy is a visionary educator with a proven record of focusing on all aspects of the student experience, which is the leadership we aim for at every community college in our state,” said Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the Community College System, in a written statement. “I am confident that Dr. Murphy’s determination to work alongside the faculty, staff and community at Gadsden State will reap great benefits for the college as they continue to provide the education and skills training needed for Alabama’s workforce.” Murphy was appointed after a months-long search by a committee. “The opportunity to serve Alabamians in Anniston, Centre and Gadsden in this capacity is a privilege I am honored to pursue,” Murphy said in a written statement. “I look forward to working closely with my new colleagues and students to ensure that we are best serving generations of college- and career-bound students who choose Gadsden State as part of their path.” In an interview, Murphy said serving as Hoover’s superintendent has been the highlight of her career and a blessing in her life. “This is a terrific school system,” she said. “Some of my fellow superintendents may disagree with me, but, frankly, it’s the very best school district in the state. “It holds this distinction because of outstanding teachers, school leaders, support staff and the school board,” she said in written remarks. “Blend this with the fine young people in our district, their caring parents and a supportive city, and the formula is complete for greatness.

HCS will continue its fine tradition of success.” Before coming to Hoover five years ago, Murphy served as superintendent in Monroe County for four years but also served two years as an administrative assistant to the Butler County superintendent, seven years as a high school principal (Charles Henderson and Greenville high schools) and nine years as principal at Greenville Middle School. She also taught eight years as a college professor at Judson College and West Georgia College and served as athletic director and a department chairwoman at one of those colleges. She was a finalist to become the state school superintendent in April 2018. Murphy said there was nothing in particular that prompted her to move forward in her career, but she always thinks it’s important to evaluate yourself both professionally and personally and look for ways to grow.

“This was an opportunity that came my way to sort of follow a circle here,” she said. She has worked in K-12 systems at a small college and a four-year university, but never at a two-year college, she said. She believes strongly in the two-year college concept, whether people are using it to get a two-year degree, move on to a four-year university or just gain some new technical and professional work skills, she said. “This is another place to serve those who are wanting to continue their education,” she said. “The stars aligned in such a way that there was an opportunity, and I took advantage of an opportunity.” Gadsden State has five campuses and educational centers across Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah and St. Clair counties. The college offers degrees and certifications across 17 programs of study and is among the latest of

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Alabama’s community colleges to host the Alabama Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (F.A.M.E.) apprenticeship program with area companies. Murphy obtained a doctorate in physical education (with an emphasis in program administration and curriculum development) and a master’s degree in physical education from Auburn University. She also has a master’s degree and educational specialist degree in educational leadership from Auburn University Montgomery and a bachelor’s degree in education from Troy University. Hoover school board President Deanna Bamman said Hoover is losing a great leader, but this is a great opportunity for Murphy. The school board will push forward to find another strong leader but likely will name an interim superintendent to take over Jan. 1 in the meantime.


November 2020 • A13

Owen Swiney, 7, congratulates his father, Sam Swiney, for winning Hoover City Council Place 2 during an election-night party for the Oct. 6 runoff election between Swiney and Robin Schultz. Swiney is holding his youngest son, Bennett. Photo by Jon Anderson.

City Council Place 2 Runoff Election Polling Place

Robin Schultz Sam Swiney

Hoover Recreation Center



Hoover Public Library



St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church 58


Oakmont Presbyterian Church



Shades Crest Baptist Church



Bluff Park United Methodist Church 115


Prince of Peace Catholic Church



Finley Center



Riverchase Church of Christ



Hoover Fire Station No. 7 (Inverness) 27


Hoover Fire Station No. 8 (Greystone) 42


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69 94


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Swiney captures election runoff win for Hoover council By JON ANDERSON Bluff Park’s Sam Swiney walked away with a win in the Oct. 6 runoff election for Hoover City Council Place 2 over fellow Bluff Park resident Robin Schultz, deciding the final race in the 2020 city election. Swiney captured 1,643 votes, or 57 percent, compared to 1,236 votes, or 43 percent, for Schultz. He won at nine of the 13 polling places spread across the city, with Schultz coming out on top at only the Hoover Public Library, St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, Shades Crest Baptist Church and Hoover Fire Station No. 8 in Greystone. “I’m absolutely blown away that we had about 3,000 residents come out for the runoff,” Swiney said at a small election night party at his home with family and a few friends. “I think Robin ran a really good race. He was

a very good opponent and would have been a great councilman,” Swiney said. “Residents felt strongly about both of us. I’m just honored they would give me an opportunity to serve. … I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get to work.” Swiney, a 37-year-old claims specialist with State Farm Insurance, said he thinks voters felt comfortable with him as someone who would be an approachable councilman — someone they could call on the phone and talk with about city affairs. He also thinks his support for the school system and public safety departments in Hoover resonated with voters, as well as his desire to help older neighborhoods like Bluff Park, Green Valley and Monte D’Oro stay maintained and not get “left behind,” he said. Even though Swiney came into the runoff with a narrow lead over Schultz from the Aug. 25 election and was ahead in votes as they came

in on election night, he wasn’t ready to declare victory until the votes from the last polling place in Greystone were posted online by the Hoover city clerk’s office. Four years ago, he lost to Councilman Gene Smith by just 24 votes out of more than 12,000 votes cast. “You want to make sure you see all the numbers before you get too excited,” Swiney said. His first congratulatory phone call came from his 100-year-old grandmother, Jane Sligh, in Hueytown. He also received congratulatory calls from Schultz and Mayor Frank Brocato as the final results were announced. “It was a tough race. Robin was a very good candidate, and I think either one of us would have done well in the role,” Swiney said. “I definitely have a lot of respect for Robin.” Schultz said Swiney ran a positive campaign, and all five of the candidates for Place 2 in the


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Aug. 25 election ran clean campaigns. “Sam obviously did a better job than I did, and we all need to support him,” Schultz said. Schultz, who has actively attended City Council meetings and Hoover school board meetings for many years, said he’s going to take a step back for a little while. “I feel that we need to take a break and regroup and see where we go from here.” He had tremendous support from a lot of people for his campaign and is very grateful to all those who helped him. “It just didn’t work out the way it could have worked out,” he said. “We’ll see what the future holds.” Swiney is scheduled to take the oath of office with fellow new Councilman Steve McClinton, the five councilmen who got reelected (John Lyda, Casey Middlebrooks, Derrick Murphy, Curt Posey and Mike Shaw) and Mayor Frank Brocato on Nov. 2.



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Looking north toward Sicard Hollow Road, an old wooden bridge that crosses Little Cahaba River and connects Cahaba Beach Road is seen blocked off Sept. 22. Residents in the Liberty Park area have expressed opposition to a proposed plan to connect U.S. 280 to Cahaba Beach Road that would bring traffic through Liberty Park. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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A project to connect U.S. 280 to Sicard Hollow Road by building a bridge across Little Cahaba River is not canceled, but it also isn’t a priority for community and state leaders. “It’s not a front-burner project right now,” said Randy Cole, engineer for Shelby County. Cole said the county has not heard from the Alabama Department of Transportation about the Cahaba Beach Road project, and it is currently in a “state of limbo.” Cole said ALDOT has had its hands full in Mobile with the proposed bridge project in that area, which has drawn much public feedback. Public feedback was not in short supply

when the Cahaba Beach Road Project was first proposed and discussed at community meetings. The project would build a bridge and road over the Little Cahaba River, connecting U.S. 280 to Sicard Hollow Road in Liberty Park. Options 5 and 5-B, both previously submitted to the public, are still on the table, as is the option not to build the road and bridge. The road and bridge reconnecting the two roads would be two-lane controlled access roads, prohibiting development, ALDOT’s East Central Region Engineer DeJarvis Leonard said at an August 2018 public meeting. He said the project is needed to increase connectivity, not to alleviate traffic concerns on U.S. 280 as many

have assumed. The estimated cost is between $12 million to $15 million, Leonard said. Representatives with the Cahaba Riverkeeper have expressed concerns with the environmental impact of the project, arguing construction runoff would damage the river, which is the source for most of the greater Birmingham area’s drinking water. The city of Birmingham passed a resolution in November 2018 opposing the project outright, and the city of Vestavia Hills passed a resolution in December 2018 opposing the proposed options. Leonard did not return multiple calls for comment for this story, and no update has been given since the August 2018 meeting.

ASK THE FINANCIAL PROFESSIONALS - SOCIAL SECURITY TIMING STRATEGIES WHEN SHOULD I CLAIM MY SOCIAL SECURITY? The short answer is…it depends. It depends on a myriad of factors including: your health and how long you think you will live, do you need the money now or can you wait a bit longer to claim, and a variety of other factors could influence that important decision. WHERE CAN I GO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RULES, CLAIMING STRATEGIES, ETC.? We teach classes that are complimentary to anyone who would like to attend in local libraries and community centers. It is part of our community outreach program. We believe that unbiased education is a key component of making good financial decisions. Currently, these classes have been suspended due to COVID-19. If you don’t want to attend a class, or need more information before classes are restarted, you can call our office to schedule a Social Security consultation, it too is complimentary and creates no obligation on your part.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I CLAIM PRIOR TO MY FULL RETIREMENT AGE? Several things will and could happen. Let us suppose you claim at 62, your benefit will be reduced by 25% of what your full retirement benefit would be if you waited. For example, the $2,800 would be reduced to $2,100 monthly. This reduction is permanent. Please be aware that if you are still working and haven’t reached your full retirement age, but go ahead and claim, your benefits could be severely reduced. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T NEED THE MONEY NOW BECAUSE I’M STILL WORKING? Basically, for each year you wait and don’t claim you’ll receive a 5% increase until you reach your full retirement age. At full retirement age, you will receive an 8% increase annually in the payments going forward. If you have not claimed by age 70, benefits automatically begin.

SOMEONE SAID THAT SOCIAL SECURITY IS GOING TO RUN OUT OF MONEY SOON. IS THAT TRUE? No, it is not true. What is true is that without changes to Social Security, the system is projected to not be able to pay out 100% of expected benefits somewhere around 2035. Source: Social Security Administration. “A Summary of the 2020 Annual Reports.” https://www. ssa.gov/oact/trsum/ I’VE HEARD THAT MY SPOUSE CAN CLAIM ON MY SOCIAL SECURITY. HOW DOES THAT WORK? After one spouse claims their benefit, the other spouse may claim spousal benefit. He/She is entitled to one-half of the higher benefit. For example, if one spouse’s benefit at full retirement age is $2,800 per month and the other spouse’s benefit on their own earnings record is $1,000, the lower earning spouse can receive an additional $400 per month.

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November 2020 • A15

Chamber Shelby County Chamber hosts 2020 Safety Awards Left: Chelsea Fire Chief Joe Lee, right, presents the Public Safety Award for the Chelsea Fire Department to former Chief Wayne Shirley’s son, Andrew, center, and sister, Deborah Dawkins. Screenshot by Leah Ingram Eagle. Below: Cpt. Clay Hammac, left, and Sheriff John Samaniego, right, present Investigator Rufus Williams with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Award. Photo courtesy of the Shelby County Chamber.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE The Shelby County Chamber hosted its annual Safety Awards presentation virtually Sept. 30, recognizing police and fire personnel who have demonstrated outstanding excellence in public safety. “Each year we are privileged to recognize individuals who have demonstrated outstanding excellence in public safety by presenting them with an award,” said Pari Barzegari, the chamber’s director of community and career development. “This program is an opportunity for us to personally give thanks to the fire, police and sheriff personnel and honor them for the outstanding service and sacrifices they make each day in keeping our respective communities a safe place to live, work and play,” she said. Recipients of the 2020 Public Safety Awards:


► Alabaster Police Department: Officer James Watkins ► Calera Police Department: Officer Jesse Deerman, Officer Adam Booth, Dispatcher Heather Portera and Dispatcher Katie Cain ► Columbiana Police Department: Officer Kevin Perry ► Helena Police Department: Officer Michael Prader ► Hoover Police Department: Officer Scott Shirley ► Montevallo Police Department: Investigator Dustin Gray ► Pelham Police Department: Officer Lee Tibbetts ► Shelby County Sheriff’s Department: Investigator Rufus Williams Sheriff John Samaniego said if not for

Williams’ devotion to public safety and mission of drug enforcement, the community would be at greater risk. “His steadfast resolve and leadership in these efforts have and will continue to have a positive generational impact on our community,” he said.


► Alabaster Fire Department: Battalion Chief David Lash ► Cahaba Valley Fire and EMR: Cpt. Stephen Gunnels ► Calera Fire Department: Lt. Chris Wood ► Chelsea Fire and Rescue: (Remembering) Chief Wayne Shirley Chief Joe Lee said the city lost a true public safety leader in Shirley. The award was presented to Shirley’s son, Andrew, and sister,

Deborah Dawkins. “In the 19 years Chief Shirley was chief, he had a lot of accomplishments … and he leaves a lasting impact on citizens of the Chelsea community,” Lee said. ► Harpersville Fire Department: Chief Heath Confer ► Helena Fire Department: Cpt. Brian Ryder ► Hoover Fire Department: Lt. Eric O’Neal ► Pelham Fire Department: Lt. Matt Maples Chamber President and CEO Kirk Mancer said there could not have been a better year to host this program. “All of us who live here in Shelby County appreciate the outstanding quality of life we’re fortunate to have,” Mancer said. “A significant aspect of that quality of life is the safe

environment, which is created by the outstanding men and women who serve in law enforcement and as firefighters. In hosting these 2020 Safety Awards — and recognizing the 2020 recipients from each department — we also want to acknowledge the tremendous teamwork that goes into a successful public safety department.”

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November 2020 • A17

Now Open Cinnaholic, a bakery specializing in custom gourmet cinnamon rolls and homemade cookie dough, brownies and cookies, held its grand opening Sept. 25 at 270 Doug Baker Blvd. in The Village at Lee Branch shopping center. 205-573-6166, cinnaholichoover.com


Relocations and Renovations Greystone Chiropractic recently began construction on a new, modern building to house its holistic health facility in Greystone. After operating for more than five years at 5426 U.S. 280 E., Suite 7, at The Terrace at Greystone shopping center, Dr. Lee Goldenberg, chiropractor and owner of the business, has planned a new facility to better serve his patients and the community. The new location will be in Tattersall Park, the latest development in the Greystone area of Birmingham. The new building is expected to be complete by February 2021. 205-981-8090, greystonechiropractor.com


New Ownership The Barber Shop, 10699 Old Highway 280, Suite 8, in the Chelsea Village Shopping Center, has a new owner. Long-time owner Faye Pray has retired, and the new owner is Marie Case. Marie has been a full-service barber for 20 years and worked at the Plaza Barber shop these last 15 years. 205-603-6323, facebook.com/theonly barbershopinchelsea


News and Accomplishments

Personnel Moves Joe Bryant and Carlee Matheson have joined EXIT Royal Realty, 13521 Old Highway 280, Suite 249. EXIT is a proven real estate business model that has to-date paid out more than $460 million in single-level residual income to its associates across the U.S. and Canada. 205-280-2228, greateralabamamls.com/Office/ ExitRoyalRealtyBirmingham-109745


DSLD Land Management Co., 1178 Dunnavant Valley Road, announces the hiring of Christopher T. Latham, P.E. As a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Engineering, Latham brings with him 25 years of experience in civil engineering and construction management. 205-437-1012, dsldland.com


Gagliano Mortgage, 4500 Valleydale Road, has hired Shannon Driver as its new chief marketing officer. In addition to handling marketing and advertising duties, Driver is responsible for maintaining relationships with previous clients, establishing new relationships and maintaining relationships with referral partners, including Realtors, financial advisors, bankers, divorce attorneys, custom homebuilders and mortgage loan officers. 205-390-7041, birminghammortgage company.com


Pearson and Associates, 23 Inverness Center Parkway, has rebranded itself as OneAscent Wealth Management. The company provides financial, retirement, tax and estate planning; investment management; legacy coaching and benefits; and institutional consulting. 205-313-9142, oneascent.com


Avadian Credit Union recently surpassed $1 billion in assets and was named one of the Best Companies to Work For in Alabama by Business Alabama and the Best Companies Group. The award was published in the September 2020 issue of Business Alabama. Companies were evaluated based on workplace practices, policies, philosophy, systems, demographics and employee surveys. The credit union's corporate headquarters is at 1 Riverchase Parkway South in Hoover. It has 11 branches in the Birmingham area, including three in the U.S. 280 corridor (15660 U.S. 280 in Chelsea, 3439 Colonnade Parkway, Suite 100, in the Colonnade, and 420 Old Highway 280 in the Greystone area), plus six more branches across the rest of the state. 888-282-3426, avadiancu.com



including Birmingham Internal Medicine Associates (BIMA), Northside Medical Associates and Adamsville Family Medicine, have leased a large complex in the Class A Blue Lake office building located near the Colonnade. Leasing this space will allow the ability for future growth for fast-growing Complete Health. The Class A Blue Lake Building has 166,779 square feet of leasable space and has a central location for Complete Health - Birmingham to service their numerous clinic locations. This space will serve as a support center for the group’s physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care personnel. Complete Health is a physician-centric, professionally managed, technology-enabled primary care group delivering excellent quality support services and patient health outcomes. 205-995-9909, completehealth.com/practice/ birmingham-internal-medicine-associates

Complete Health’s subsidiaries of clinics in the Birmingham market,

Dr. John Farley, founder of Birmingham Internal Medicine Associates (BIMA) located at 7191 Cahaba Valley Road, Suite 300, has been named chief medical officer for the entire Complete Health operation across two states. BIMA became a part of Complete Health a year ago. Complete Health is privately-owned and now has 14 practice locations and more than 70 providers in Florida and Alabama. 205-875-8068, bimapc.com


Closings 11

Nuzzi Gelato closed, at least temporarily, at the end of September.

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A18 • November 2020

280 Living

Magnolia’s Gift Shop moves to Benson Plaza Employees Lauren Graham, Jami Brannon and Gail Aplin stand with Magnolia’s Gift Shop owner Linda Hardy, right, at its new location in the Benson shopping plaza in Chelsea. Photo courtesy of Jordan Hardy Morton.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Since the opening of its Chelsea location three years ago, Magnolia’s Gift Shop has received a wealth of community support. Now, the business has moved into a new space just down the street from the old one. Jordan Hardy Morton, daughter of owner Linda Hardy, said the lease was coming up and they decided to move to a different location, not far from where they were on Chesser Crane Road. “We got word that the Hartley’s building would be up for sale/lease, and since our current lease was ending, we thought that might be a little bit better location,” Morton said. “The only problem with the previous location is that people that are not familiar with the area weren’t quite sure where it was.” They decided to make the move and the renovation began to turn the former restaurant into a retail store. Morton’s dad is a contractor and he and his crew handled the renovation, gutting out the kitchen and making the space fit the needs of the shop. “We have floor space about the same size as the other building, but more storage, so that’s nice for us,” Morton said. The move only took three days, and Morton said it was a fun process, adding that their employees are the “happiest and hardest working team ever.” Morton said they are excited to be in Benson Plaza with other great businesses and a location that’s a little easier to find for their customers. “It’s definitely been a great decision,” she said. “I have to give my mom credit — she was totally right. We’ve gotten a lot more people coming in who are new customers. We’ve even been on the receiving end of snacks and gifts from them and that has been a sweet thing.” Due to COVID-19, Magnolia’s had to close at the end of March and reopened May 1. Morton said it made them come up with more creative ways to serve their customers, a tall order for a brick-and-mortar business.

“We really relied heavily on our social media following and engaged our email list,” she said. “All three of our communities — Chelsea, Sylacauga and Pell City — didn’t mind having to come do curbside pickup on particular days. We said however you can or want to shop with us, that’s what we’re going to do.” The store also began offering curated gift packages online. She said that really resonated with their customer base. “It helped us,” Morton said. “Things weren’t

normal or easy, but when you have to do things outside of the box, you discover you can serve people in ways you couldn’t before. It’s definitely been a tough year for obvious reasons, but we are thankful business has been very good and very steady.” For the last two years, Magnolia’s has held a Christmas open house. They plan to do so again this year, but it will look slightly different. They will also add some virtual options, as well as private shopping events after hours with food









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and drinks. Customers can also have the opportunity to make their own wish list that can be shared with friends and family. “We try to have nice gifts for any occasion, and one of the main draws at Christmas is our complimentary gift wrap,” Hardy said. “People can come in and knock out items on their gift list and do the wrapping.” For more information visit magnoliasgift shop.com or their Facebook and Instagram pages at @magnoliasgifts.

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Chubbfathers owner Will Cholewinski, left, opened the restaurant’s second location in Chelsea last month. His nephew Caleb Kelley, right, and Caleb’s wife Harley, middle, will be managing this location. Photos by Leah Ingram Eagle.

Chubbfathers returns to Chelsea with 2nd location By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Will Cholewinski cooked his first meal for his family when he was just 9 years old: cube steaks and gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans. He has been cooking ever since. Cholewinski is excited to bring his restaurant, Chubbfathers, back to Chelsea. Formerly known as Chubb’s Grub Station, it was previously located in the Marathon gas station several years ago. Cholewinski said due to some business decisions that had to be made, he had to close in 2015. The interior of Chubbfathers’ Chelsea location features The original location in Alaits signature blue and white colors, along with its baster, which opened in 2013, has mottos of “Love Everybody” and “Feed the People.” continued to thrive and receive outstanding reviews and honors, and in October, a second location opened in the former hired. Kelley said around 10 employees are needed to run things. Johnny Ray’s location in Chelsea. In addition to dining in, customers can order “I always knew we would make a return to Chelsea and finished what we started,” Cholew- online at chownow.com for pickup or call for inski said. “The landlord made me an offer I curbside and takeout services. Delivery service couldn’t refuse. We had already built a good options may be added in the future. Cholewcustomer base, so I’m honored to have the inski also said the restaurant will go back to opportunity to serve the fine folks in Chelsea.” doing full service catering. His motto is “Feed the People,” and CholewCholewinski’s nephew, Caleb Kelley, along with his wife Harley, will be managing in Chel- inski not only does that through his restaurants, sea. Harley Kelley grew up in Chelsea and said but also through helping with relief efforts. In she knows a lot of people in the area and is September, he spent a week in the Gulf Shores excited to see how it goes. The couple even area after Hurricane Sally serving others. “I realized the people trust me, and God met while working at Chubb’s Grub Station. “We’ve got people from Chelsea who come trusts me to be a channel and not a reservoir,” to our Alabaster location all time and say they he said. “The blessing flows through me and have missed us,” Kelley said. “They’ve been doesn’t stop with me.” The “Feed the People” initiative donates traveling here and can’t wait to have us back food to those in need. When customers visit in Chelsea.” Because the Chelsea location was already a Chubbfathers and bring two non-perishable restaurant, there were not a lot of renovations food items, their drink is free. After 15 donarequired, but the restaurant is adding its own tions, their meal is free. When the box gets full, decor and paint colors to match the brand. which usually takes a week or two, CholewAs for the food, Chubbfathers is known for inski matches the amount inside and donates it its burgers, seafood, po’ boys and cheesesteaks. to a local food bank in the community. It has been featured on Food Network for its Cholewinski said he is not in this business zydeco blackened bacon cheeseburger with for the money, and gives away around 40% of homemade Cajun sauce and fried onion straws. what the company brings in. The restaurant was also named one of the 50 “The Lord told me feeding the people would best burgers in Alabama by Popsugar and is be my responsibility, and I take that charge very listed in two editions of “100 Things to Eat in seriously,” he said. “Seeing the difference we Alabama Before You Die.” make on a daily basis makes me want to do Some of the senior employees from Alabas- more. I choose to do this because of the people, ter will help get the Chelsea location up and not the money. That’s what puts a smile on my running, and several new employees were also face, that’s what makes my motor run.”

November 2020 • A19

A20 • November 2020

280 Living

PASSING THE TORCH Arthur Strauss, 30, tapped to become CEO of Strauss Financial Inc. By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE John and Heidi Strauss started their company 32 years ago with the sole purpose of helping their clients achieve financial security and independence. Their mission with Strauss Financial Group Inc. was to create and preserve wealth for generations. The two now feel they have accomplished their goal and are preparing for retirement. The company, a fee-based Registered Investment Advisor, will continue to stay in the family. On Sept. 18, John and Heidi sold Strauss Financial Group Inc. to son Arthur on his 30th birthday. Arthur joined the firm in 2013 and has served as vice president for the last five years. He will take over as the new CEO in January. “To pass this legacy on to our son, who has met with and worked with our clients for many years, is not much of a transition,” Heidi said. “We know the story and legacy will continue for the next generation.” Arthur received his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the Brock School of Business at Samford University and was also a member of the Samford baseball team from 2009-13. A CFP professional, Arthur will continue to help the firm’s clients with the various financial planning issues that they face. This designation has supplemented his expertise in investments, asset structure, risk management, taxes and estate planning. The firm assists in wealth management

services, including strategic financial retirement and estate planning; investment portfolio management; divorce and succession consulting; and insurance and long-term care. “As a little boy, my sister and I watched our parents dedicate themselves to two things: their family and their clients,” Arthur said. “At that time, I did not know that I wanted to follow in their footsteps ... however, as I got older, I began to form an interest in the world of finance. My interest turned into a passion after I completed an internship there during my junior year. I joined the company upon graduation and began to learn from my parents about the many nuances of being a trusted advisor.” Now, almost 10 years later, Arthur said he is honored to be the new CEO and that he has been blessed to have worked with his parents. “I hope to carry on their discipline, focus, work ethic and, most importantly, their genuine care and diligence for our clients,” Arthur said. “I am excited for my parents to be assisting me over the next couple of years and eventually guiding me as two of my most trusted board members. Our goal is to make this transition a smooth and positive one.” John and Heidi will continue working with the firm on a limited basis. They look forward to enjoying the next chapter in their lives, with their three grandchildren, traveling and spending time at the lake. “Reflecting on those years, our journey has been an incredibly rewarding and remarkable one,” Heidi said. “We have had the honor of sharing [our clients’] life story — and ours — and we are forever humbled and grateful for the work that we have accomplished and the privilege of serving wonderful people like you. As we pass the torch and Arthur takes the reins of our organization, we are looking forward to making the shift from business owners to mentors and board members.”

Arthur Strauss will take over as CEO of Strauss Financial Group Inc. effective January 2021. Photo courtesy of Strauss Financial.


November 2020 • A21

Chelsea, Hoover duo launch waste disposal company By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Most people would probably not decide to start a company during a national pandemic, but Jon Riddle and Micheal McCants decided to do just that. The two met over five years ago while working at a trucking company together. Riddle, a Hoover resident, moved on to work in real estate and renovate houses, but when he got the idea for a roll off dumpster business, he knew who to call. “I reached out to Micheal because he had had a lot of experience on running the truck-side of things,” Riddle said. “We got together and came up with the idea for Magic City Dumpsters.” McCants, who lives in Chelsea, said it was three weeks later when he turned in his two-week notice at his previous job and the two started the company. “It was a big leap, especially this year,” he said. Riddle said he felt there was a need for this business, especially on the renovation side. He said through his real estate business, he has been able to gain some of its biggest clients, and that has helped them get their business up and running. “Amidst COVID-19 and everything going on, there is still opportunity out there to be had if you have people willing to work hard and get after it,” Riddle said. Magic City Dumpsters specializes in residential and commercial waste and construction debris removal options for small or large projects. It provides construction and demolition and household waste solutions for residential and commercial use with the 20-, 30- and 40-yard roll off dumpsters that they deliver. The dumpsters can be used for a variety of things, including landscaping projects, hauling off dirt or tree limbs, weekend

home projects, house flips and more. While there are other companies out there they have to compete against, Riddle and McCants said their focus is on customer service to make them stand out from the rest. Their goal is to build relationships and trust with their clients. When someone calls, there is no phone tree to go through. They are directly connected to McCants. “Service is a huge thing, and a lot of companies have gotten away from it,” McCants said. “Some of the bigger companies are more worried about big contract jobs and not so much about residential. That’s one thing we are really focusing on — our customer service is our biggest selling point. Without it we are no different than anybody else in this business.” Timeliness is another important part of their business. While contractors might only give a day’s notice that they need a dumpster, Riddle said if they can provide service within 24 hours of a phone call, they can build a business fairly quickly. “A lot of times, building clean-up needs to be done immediately, and that’s what we are trying to build business off of, and we’ve been able to pick up some business over some bigger companies,” he said. With their one truck, 50 dumpsters and two drivers, they work within a 50-mile radius of Birmingham and do their best to get dumpsters delivered within a day. They also have a flat fee, competitive pricing and work seven days a week. “Over a six-week period, we moved 82 dumpsters, so we’ve been pretty busy,” McCants said. For more information, visit magic citydumpstersllc.com, facebook .com/MagicCityDumpsters or call 205-500-1031.

Magic City Dumpsters co-owners Jon Riddle and Micheal McCants started their business during the COVID-19 pandemic to specialize in residential and commercial waste and construction debris removal. Photo courtesy of Micheal McCants.

A22 • November 2020

280 Living

Community Have a community announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at leagle@starnespublishing.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

King’s Home dedicates Jane’s House Jane Franks stands on the porch of the Transitional Living Program’s Jane’s House, which provides an alternative living arrangement for foster youth ages 16-19 with opportunities to practice independent living skills in a variety of congregate settings with decreasing degrees of care and supervision. Photos courtesy of The Lollar Group.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE In September, King’s Home dedicated its new girls’ Transitional Living Program house. Named after donor Jane Franks, the TLP Jane’s House will provide an alternative living arrangement for foster youth ages 16-19 in custody of Alabama Department of Human Resources with opportunities to practice their independent living skills in a variety of congregate settings with decreasing degrees of supervision. Most of all, it’s a safe, loving place where girls find hope and opportunity in a caring, Christian home. “I am excited about supporting these precious young ladies in honor of my parents, Byron and Ruby Johnston,” Franks said. “My prayer is that this home will be a haven where they can find strength and comfort in a beautiful environment as they grow in their independence.” Seven girls had already moved into the home the week of its dedication. The space had been freshly renovated and furnished with the help of grants and donors. Franks has been a generous advocate and huge driving force ensuring these girls get a beautiful and comfortable place to call home while they transition into independence. The girls eligible for this level program may have been abused, neglected or exploited and may exhibit mild and/or occasional behavioral and/or emotional problems. The program is designed to allow them to experience the natural consequences of daily actions and decisions with the safety net of King’s Home program staff there to give support and guidance. Youth can gradually transition from needing daily support to being able to cope with

being alone, seeking non-agency support systems including friends, mentors and individuals from church. Youth in this level of care are basically in good health and typically meet criteria including: exhibiting behavior that is under control and does not require constant adult supervision; peer relations that are generally positive; are generally compliant with staff and have shown the ability to function at this level of care; and do not pose a safety risk to the community or other youth in the facility. They are also able


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and willing to participate in one or more of the following: high school, a vocational training program, college, GED preparation, and/or part-time or full-time employment. The dedication featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, refreshments and a tour of the new house, located at 35 King’s Home Drive in Chelsea. “Mrs. Jane Franks has been a generous advocate and driving force ensuring these girls get a beautiful and nurturing place to call home while they transition into independence,” King’s Home President Lew Burdette said.


November 2020 • A23 Left: Quentin Morgan, right, pins the Eagle Scout insignia on the front shirt pocket of his son Dylan Morgan’s Boy Scout uniform during the Eagle Scout ceremony with Troop 367 on Aug. 18 at Veterans Park. Far left: Dylan Morgan, 14, kneels inside the life-size eagle’s nest at the Alabama Wildlife Center’s Treetop Nature Trail at Oak Mountain State Park. Photos by Erin Nelson.

Hoover teen builds life-size eagle’s nest at Oak Mountain By JON ANDERSON To earn his Eagle Scout rank, one Hoover teenager recently tackled a more unusual project. Dylan Morgan, a freshman at Spain Park High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 367 at Riverchase United Methodist Church, built a life-size interactive eagle’s nest on the Treetop Nature Trail at Oak Mountain State Park. The nest measures 6 feet across and 2½ feet deep. It sits on a platform on a part of the nature trail between the Alabama Wildlife Center and the elevated boardwalk that features six enclosures with birds of prey. Doug Adair, executive director for the Alabama Wildlife Center, said many people who visit the Treetop Nature Trail experience the elevated boardwalk and the raptors, but don’t follow the trail all the way to the wildlife center up the hill. “It’s only three-tenths of a mile from the

elevated boardwalk to the center, but many people don’t make the trek,” Adair said. The wildlife center staff want to create more attractions along that portion of the trail to make it more interesting for visitors, and the life-size eagle’s nest fits the bill, he said. Another Scout built the platform for the eagle’s nest and actually built an initial nest, but that nest — made out of sticks and chicken wire — wasn’t as kid-friendly and kid-resistant as was needed, Morgan said. The wildlife center staff asked Morgan to build something that was safer, without all the sharp sticks poking out. Earlier this year, from Jan. 10 to Feb. 23, Morgan spent more than 80 hours building the nest. He used four-by-four pieces of lumber and plywood to build the frame and then wrapped roughly 700 feet of backer rods — strands of industrial foam — around it to give it softer edges.

He and his father, Quentin Morgan — who is the assistant scoutmaster for Troop 367 — did most of the work, but he also recruited seven other boys to help with the project. The cost of the materials was about $400, Dylan Morgan said. That was about double what they initially thought it would cost, because they had to buy more screws to hold the backer rods in place than they anticipated and didn’t initially realize they would need plywood. There are about 1,500 screws holding the nest together, he said. Not long after the nest was completed, it was damaged by some kids who got carried away while having some fun, Morgan said. He came back in June and made repairs. Adair said the wildlife center staff appreciates the quality work that both Morgan and the previous Scout did to create a nice visitor attraction. “We’ve had dozens of Eagle Scout projects

completed at the center and are always pleased to see the Scouts volunteer help,” he said. This particular project is fitting because it complements the injured bald eagle recently added as part of the education program there. Morgan, who has been in the Scouting program since he was 5, was awarded his Eagle Scout badge during a ceremony in August. It’s the highest rank attainable in the Scouts BSA program of the Boy Scouts of America. Morgan was 13 when he completed his service project. Only about 4% of Scouts achieve the Eagle Scout rank, and the average age in recent years has been 17, according to Bryan Wendell, who writes a blog for BSA adult leaders. Morgan said he learned a lot with his project. “I hope that kids who come here see how big an eagle actually is and that it gives some perspective on why people are so inspired by eagles and how big a creature they are to be able to build something that large,” he said.


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A24 • November 2020

280 Living

UM’s Center for the Arts earns Building Birmingham award The University of Montevallo’s newly opened Center for the Arts has been selected as one of the most important construction projects in the Birmingham metropolitan area. The Birmingham Business Journal honored the Center for the Arts on its 2020 Building Birmingham list, which recognizes projects based on their impact, degree of difficulty and unique offerings. “The College of Fine Arts is truly honored that its new Center for the Arts is among the awardees of this prestigious award,” said Dr. Steve Peters, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “Since the center is uniquely designed to be a one-of-a-kind collaboratory, it brings students from all our departments together for innovative and creative practices that rely on teamwork and group creativity. The students are excited this fall to be the first cohort to begin exploring the many possibilities the center offers.” The 36,750-square-foot building is located

The University of Montevallo’s newly opened Center for the Arts is located at the intersection of Oak Street and North Boundary Street and serves as a prime resource for the Montevallo community and Shelby County. Photo courtesy of University of Montevallo.

at the intersection of Oak Street and North Boundary Street and is unique among collegiate facilities in the state of Alabama. It brings together many academic disciplines previously

spread out across multiple buildings on the UM campus and serves as a prime resource for the Montevallo community and Shelby County.   The center serves students in the College of

Fine Arts departments of art, communication, music and theatre and added a dance program to the college.   It features two performance venues, an art gallery, a large social space, a concessions area, a digital fabrication lab, design labs with animation software, multiple classrooms, theatre faculty and college offices, vocal performance rehearsal rooms, a dance studio, state-of-theart production shops, a public pocket park, a sculpture garden, an outdoor commons area and adjacent ground-level parking.   The Center for the Arts was also designed to provide services to the university and community as a whole and will have a positive economic and cultural impact on the entire community. No large events will be held in the Center for the Arts or on the UM campus until the threat posed by COVID-19 has subsided. – Submitted by the University of Montevallo Communications and Media Relations.

Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego appointed CALEA Commissioner By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE On Sept. 30, Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego was announced as one of three new commissioners appointed to serve on the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. His three-year term will begin Jan. 1, 2021. CALEA is considered the gold standard in public safety and was established as a credentialing body in 1979 as a joint effort of the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The CALEA Commission is composed of 21 commissioners, 11 with a law enforcement background with the remaining positions filled from other public and private sector backgrounds.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office received its first award of accreditation in 2014 and was the first sheriff’s office to receive this designation in Alabama. The sheriff’s office was reaccredited in 2017. “The men and women of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office work hard to hold the sheriff’s office to the highest standard, and our CALEA accreditation provides proof of their commitment,” Samaniego said. “I am honored to represent our agency on the CALEA Commission and the opportunity to shape the future of professional law enforcement services.” Samaniego is serving his second term as sheriff of Shelby County and currently serves on the board of directors as the Alabama representative for the Regional Organized Crime Information Center (RISS), district vice president for the Alabama Peace Officers Association and is a Shelby County Community Corrections board member.

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Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego was recently announced as one of three new commissioners appointed to serve on the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Photo courtesy of Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.


November 2020 • A25

Schoolhouse Have a schoolhouse announcement? Email Leah Ingram Eagle at leagle@starnespublishing.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

Shelby County Schools complete 1st 9 weeks Facility and Maintenance Coordinator Randy Reeves gives an update on construction projects at various Shelby County schools during the Oct. 9 SCBOE meeting. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE After a delayed start, staggered schedule and finally a return to a five-day week, Shelby County Schools made it to the end of the first nine weeks Oct. 9. Superintendent Lewis Brooks said he and his team are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will continue to be transparent with the community and let them know what’s going on. During his superintendent’s report at the Oct. 15 Shelby County Board of Education meeting, Brooks thanked Cindy Warner of Public Relations and Nurse Supervisor Treasa Daly for their work on the COVID-19 dashboard. “They have posted information the last three weeks, and I appreciate their efforts,” he said. Brooks also recognized Sarah Elizabeth Shelton of Columbiana Middle School for receiving the Alabama Association for Gifted Children Student of the Year for the state of Alabama saying, “She represents the best of Shelby County Schools.” October was Family Literacy Month, and Federal Programs Supervisor Mary Cooper said in her instructional report that Shelby County Schools have recently launched a page on its website featuring family resources for early literacy. There are five sections that include phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, plus additional links with information for parents and students. Cooper also discussed the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, also known as HIPPY, an evidence-based home instruction program promoting school readiness, early literacy and parent involvement. The goal of the program is to help children

become ready for kindergarten by promoting school readiness, early literacy and parent involvement. The target age is typically students ages 2-4. For more information about the Shelby County Schools HIPPY USA program, call 205-789-5038 John Gwin, assistant superintendent of finance, reported that he was almost done closing out the fiscal year and gave some highlights from the budget. The SCBOE had an unreserved general fund balance for September of $27,652,793.76, which he said was ending the year in good shape. Total cash was $32,297,702.97, which is $4.3 million more than what last year. Gwin

also said the system gained about $2 million reserve in local funds. “Budget-wise for the general fund, we beat expenditures on our budget by about $10.7 million. We had budgeted $201 million and spent $190 million,” he said. Total expenditures for the whole year totaled $252,507,171, or about a quarter of a billion dollars. “We were able to lower long-term debt by $10.7 million, purchase 16 new buses, added $4.6 million in capital improvements to buildings across the county and spent about $2.6 million in purchasing new computer hardware.” In the architect and construction report,

Facility and Maintenance Coordinator Randy Reeves said things were progressing well with the new lab at Chelsea High School and the students should be in the space soon. The two projects at Vincent Middle/High School for new restrooms in the gymnasium should be complete in December. The board also approved: ► Renewal of bid for technology recycling/ reuse pickup; ► Personnel actions; ► Bus substitutes and aides. The next SCBOE meeting will be 5 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Shelby County Board of Education in Columbiana.

A26 • November 2020

280 Living

Foundation works to support Shelby schools with grants By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE


The Shelby County Schools Education Foundation is an organization that works to enhance, support and recognize the 21,000 students and 3,000 employees across the 31 different schools in the district. “We are the official 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm of Shelby County Schools,” Community Relations Director Kendall Williams said. Williams is the one team member for the organization and spends her days doing a variety of tasks. Out of her office at the Shelby County Schools Instructional Institute in Alabaster, she works to get sponsorships, schedules professional development learning opportunities and hands out checks at schools among a myriad of other duties. “Everyone is always happy to see me, because I either come with food or money,” Williams said. While she is employed by Shelby County Schools, her role is separate from the schools. She represents the board of education as both community relations and development director, a dual role she has been in for the past seven years. The SCSEF, which began in 1992, gives back 98% of all the money it receives to the schools and classrooms. There is a small overhead for supplies and chamber memberships. It is run by a board of 10 volunteers who meet every other month. Each year, the foundation gives out student grants, teacher grants and school grants. On average, they generate around $200,000 for Shelby County schools, whether through an indirect capacity or from corporate sponsors and other fundraising. Shelby County employees also support through a payroll deduction for Dollars for Scholars, which helps support professional development, teacher grants, technology advancement and more.


Students in sixth through 12th grades can

Community Relations Director Kendall Williams, far right, presents the IMPACT the Journey grant to recipients in 2019. Photo courtesy of Shelby County Schools Education Foundation.

apply for the Imagine grant. It can be for anything that will enhance their educational experience. The amount can be up to $500 for a student or up to $1,000 for a group of students. “Their ideas have made it flourish,” Williams said. “We’ve had the marketing and media group at one of the high schools get new equipment. A debate team got new blazers to wear to their competitions.” Two to three student grants are given each year.


For teachers, grants can be up to $1,000 for an individual teacher or $2,000 for a group of teachers. Williams said the foundation has been able to fund technology, general classroom supplies, STEM carts for entire grade levels and books. Teachers grant totals are around

$25,000, depending on amounts requested.


IMPACT, which stands for innovation, motivation, partnerships and collaborative teaching, is a school grant, the largest one awarding up to $5,000. It has to benefit the school overall, an entire grade level or course or an entire department. One application per school/department is allowed, and the principal or supervisor of the department has to apply for it. Previously awarded was a grant for Google expedition goggles to take students on virtual field trips. Generally, two IMPACT grants are given, one for elementary and one for secondary. All of the grants are given out once per year. IMPACT and Imagine grants are done in December, and the Inspire grants are in the spring.

“We are growing every year,” Williams said. “We probably get over 150 applications and give out around 30. Each is reviewed and audited, then I go out and give the big checks and surprise the teachers.” The SCSEF also provides for professional development through national board certification support, teacher mentoring programs, summer study stipends for teachers and various meetings throughout the year. While giving out the money is fun, Williams said that Teacher of the Year event is her favorite. The celebration has continued to grow, and it’s a night where teachers can come with their families and administrators and be celebrated. “Teachers work so hard, and they don’t get the recognition they deserve,” she said. “This isn’t fully expressive of what they really do for our kids.” The foundation’s largest annual fundraiser, Taste of Shelby County — which is typically held in September at the Inverness Country Club — had to be canceled because of COVID19. Instead, golden tickets to local restaurants were sold in October for $25, giving buyers a discount to participating restaurants. Depending on how things progress with the pandemic, Williams said the ideal scenario would be to hold the in-person event and silent auction in February. This year, the foundation, with help from partnerships, added water bottle filling stations to the 17 schools that didn’t have them to, provide teachers and students a safe and healthy place to get water throughout the day. Also, through the Community Health Foundation of Shelby County, the SCSEF provides supplies to all the nurses stations at all the schools. This year, they used a different approach and are purchasing from district level instead of each individual school, which allows them to provide more PPE to all of the schools. For more information on the SCSEF or to donate, visit shelbyedfoundation.org.

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November 2020 • A27

Spain Park’s Hamilton wins presidential award for science teaching Pamela Hamilton works with in-person and virtual students in her earth and space science class at Spain Park High School as students lead her in a crystallization lab. Hamilton was recently selected as a national winner for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By JON ANDERSON For the second year in a row, a Spain Park High School science teacher has been selected as a national winner for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Pamela Hamilton, who is in her 24th year of teaching high school, was one of two teachers from Alabama selected for the national award this year. The other was Jessye Gaines, a math teacher at Bob Jones High School in Madison. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the highest honors given by the U.S. government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching. Congress established the awards in 1983, and the National Science Foundation administers them on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The recipients come from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools and the U.S. territories. This year, 107 teachers were recognized. The award honors teachers who have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas. Since the program's inception, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Hamilton, who was known as Pamela Harman prior to getting married in February, began her teaching career at Hoover High School in 1997 and has taught at Spain Park since 2002. She teaches earth and space science to students in 11th and 12th grades. She was named the 2007-08 Alabama Teacher of the Year and was inducted into the Jacksonville State Teacher Hall of Fame in 2015. Hamilton served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1987-91 and put herself through school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Alabama

Every student has an opportunity to learn and become the best they can be.

at Birmingham, a master’s degree in geosciences from Mississippi State University and a doctorate in teacher leadership from Walden University. She is also certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and has served on the Alabama National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Network and on the Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching.


Hamilton specializes in meeting the needs of diverse learners. She has led professional development at the Hoover, state and national levels on topics including differentiated instruction, formative assessment and argument-driven inquiry. The Hoover Board of Education recently recognized Hamilton for her accomplishment. She said she was very honored to receive

the national award and is proud to work in a school system that gives students the best education possible, no matter their personal background. “It doesn’t matter whether students come from families with low incomes,” she said. “Every student has an opportunity to learn and become the best they can be,” she said. Last year, two teachers from Hoover City Schools were selected as national winners of the presidential award: Spain Park High School science teacher Kristin Bundren and Berry Middle School science teacher Kevin Pughsley. Hoover City Schools spokesman Jason Gaston said the Hoover school system has had 19 teachers win the presidential award over the years. We are very blessed to have teachers of this caliber in our district.”



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A28 • November 2020

280 Living

City of Chelsea donates $25,000 to each school Chelsea Middle School Principal Caroline Obert with Chelsea City Councilor Chris Grace and Mayor Tony Picklesimer after receiving a $25,000 check from the city. Photo courtesy of Caroline Obert.

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE All five of the Chelsea schools started the first semester off with a check from the city, as Mayor Tony Picklesimer hand delivered checks to the principals at each school. In the past, schools received $5,000 at the beginning of the year and $20,000 at the end of the year, but this year, the mayor and Chelsea City Council decided to give the lump sum all at once. The check distribution has been taking place for over a decade, but with the COVID19 pandemic still ongoing, the change was made to give all the funds at the beginning of the school year. The money is set aside from the city’s general fund budget and does not come from the Nick Grant funds that were established last year with the 1-cent sales tax increase. Picklesimer said it is a privilege to be able to distribute the funds to each of the schools:

Forest Oaks Elementary, Mt Laurel Elementary, Chelsea Park Elementary, Chelsea Middle School and Chelsea High School. “It’s always a pleasure going into the schools

and the appreciation we get from teachers and administrators,” Picklesimer said. Chelsea Park Elementary Principal Jennifer Galloway said the faculty and staff at Chelsea

Park Elementary School are appreciative of the continuous support provided by the mayor and city. “These funds help to pay for additional staffing at our school such as our local secretary and our technology teacher,” Galloway said. “Each classroom teacher also receives an amount that is used to purchase instructional materials to help support their teaching.” Chelsea High Principal Brandon Turner said they are still looking at ways to spend the funds, because they try to be intentional and use them for maximum effect. “I feel very privileged to work with a mayor and City Council that are dedicated to working with schools to provide a better experience for our students,” Turner said. “They continually exhibit a spirit of cooperation in their willingness to invest in our programs and needs. We are excited about our partnership that will unquestionably pay dividends for the city of Chelsea.”

University of Montevallo receives Southern Living honor The University of Montevallo has been named one of the most picturesque college campuses in the South by Southern Living magazine. The publication recently released its 2020 list of the South’s Most Beautiful Colleges, which honored institutions in several states “where both the academics and aesthetics are impressive.” Montevallo’s campus features brick-lined streets and sidewalks winding under lush oak trees and through manicured green spaces. Arched gateways welcome visitors at each of the university’s main entrances, and a mixture of historic and cutting-edge facilities fill the campus. UM’s campus plan was developed by the

Olmstead Brothers, famous for designing New York’s Central Park, Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon Avenue parks and the grounds surrounding Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. “It is gratifying indeed to have our beautiful architecture and grounds recognized by such a well-known, respected publication,” UM President Dr. John W. Stewart III said. “Credit goes to our devoted and talented facilities staff who keep our Olmstead-designed campus aesthetically pleasing and inspiring for the students we serve at Montevallo.” To view the other colleges that made the list, visit southernliving.com/culture/school/ most-beautiful-colleges-2020. – Submitted by Neal Wagner.

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November 2020 • A29 Also not able to take place this year is the annual Harvest of Hope fundraiser. The luncheon, which usually draws around 500 attendees, was canceled, and the mission changed it to the Harvest of Hope Giving Drive. The event usually accounts for 30% of the mission’s budget, so the need for donations has been great and donations (which can be made on the website or mailed to the mission) will be accepted for several months.


CONTINUED from page A1 Founded by Roddy Cooper in 2001, the nonprofit organization has been there to help families in need. Cooper originally started the mission out of his garage. He shared the story of what he was doing with churches around the area and now has more than 35 churches that assist with the ministry. Cooper now works as a volunteer for the ministry he created.



With each passing year, the number of requests for assistance has increased. Clients are referred to Oak Mountain Mission Ministries by domestic violence programs, homeless shelters, mission faith support churches, social service agencies and Shelby County school counselors. Some of the more than 30 referral agencies include Central Alabama Wellness, Jessie’s Place, Jimmie Hale Mission, Lovelady Center, SafeHouse Shelby, Shelby County Health Department, Shelby County DHR and more. Every service the mission provides is offered to screened, qualified clients at no charge. Those items provided usually include food, clothing, furniture, household items, financial assistance and more. Case managers work with the individuals or families to assess their situation and assist them in getting what they need. Once they have a referral, it is good once a month for a year. People can receive assistance as long as it is needed. “There are some families that were here when I started that are still with us,” Assistant Director Dianne Cesario said. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., volunteers come to the mission

Nancy Richard, an Oak Mountain Missions Ministries volunteer, places bags of dry goods into a cart Sept. 16, as volunteers serve families in need as part of the Mission’s Wednesday food drive. Photo by Erin Nelson.

and help prepare the bags of food to be handed out. Items range from produce and frozen meat to canned goods, bread and chips. The mission receives donated items from Pepperidge Farms, Golden Flake, Edgar’s, Publix and more. There are two drivers who drive trucks to make the pickups at the various locations. “On a normal day, we have 25-30 volunteers,” Cesario said. “But now, we usually have to work with a skeleton crew.”


During the pandemic, Oak Mountain Missions has continued serving its regular families but has also been doing one-time emergency assistance for those who have not previously been qualified but are in need of help. “We have noticed an increase

in the number of people who have called and asked for help with food,” Cesario said. “The majority of them we have never assisted.” Cesario started at Oak Mountain Missions as a volunteer in 2007 when her youngest child went to college. She said she had always volunteered and wanted to try something different. It wasn’t long until she was promoted from a volunteer to an employee. “I started working in the food pantry, then helping families pick out clothes, then one day I came in and Roddy said I had been promoted. I began answering phones, then he asked me if there was a way I could come in every day,” she said. The mission has also had to scale back from all the ways it is normally able to help to just food and monetary

donations in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. “This is to keep everybody healthy and safe — the families we serve and volunteers,” Cesario said. “We are doing the food pickups as a drive by. When a person receiving assistance pulls into the parking lot, we have a runner who gets their name and gives them a number. They then drive to the end of the building to get their food.” The building, which the mission has been in since 2009, has separate rooms with clothes, shoes and more for men, women and children all organized by size. Household items, linens and baby items all have their own spaces as well. Normally, recipients are allowed to choose five to seven outfits and two to four pairs of shoes.

Along with the volunteers who come help at the mission is the Oak Mountain Mission Auxiliary. This group of men and women provides support and assistance and can be counted on to help when needed whether they come to volunteer or not. The group makes sure the mission has what it needs. The auxiliary holds quarterly meetings and is open for new members. Before school began, the mission gave more than 180 students in Shelby County schools back-toschool blessing bags. Cesario said current urgent needs include spaghetti sauce, pasta, ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, canned soup, canned peas, jelly and personal care items. For those who would like to donate, items can be dropped off at the building.


The mission always does something special for the families at Thanksgiving and plans to do gift cards for families at Christmas. Right now, the greatest needs are monetary donations to provide financial assistance to families, food to help those who would otherwise go hungry and volunteers to help provide client services. For find out more or get involved with the mission, visit its website at oakmountainmissions.com.

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A30 • November 2020

280 Living

Alabama Wildlife Center Executive Director Doug Adair holds a great horned owl Sept. 23 at the center at Oak Mountain State Park. Photos by Erin Nelson.


CONTINUED from page A1

Above: Andrew Arnold, director of education and outreach, holds his arm and gloved hand up as a red tailed hawk flies from longtime volunteer Mary Stockard, right, to Arnold as it receives a piece of rabbit during a flight training session Sept. 23 at Alabama Wildlife Center at Oak Mountain State Park. Below: Shelby, a 4-year-old bald eagle, lets out a call as she rests on a perch inside her enclosure at AWC.

Executive Director Doug Adair said it was about 10 years ago when the organization narrowed its focus to only birds. “The board decided to better focus our resources and concentrate only on avian species where the need was the greatest,” he said. “That keeps us pretty busy year in and year out.” He said patients include hummingbirds to bald eagles, song birds to water birds and everything in between, and the center is unique with the breadth of species it serves. Adair has been director of the AWC for the past seven years, and his charge from the board of directors when he took over was to take the center to the next level. That has included adding education ambassador birds and going from about 30 programs for around 5,000 people presenting 600 programs to more than 150,000 people in 2019.


Although located in Oak Mountain State Park, the AWC operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and does not receive public funding. While it has a wonderful relationship with OMSP, it has to raise its own money to fulfill its mission. “We are thrilled to be where we are,” Adair said. “It’s a wonderful place to do what we do, and we appreciate being able to utilize the structure we are in. This building was built in 1970, and there are a lot of expenses in maintaining it that we are responsible for.” All of the organization’s income is from membership dues, individual donations and corporate and foundation grants. For each dollar contributed, the AWC receives approximately two dollars in donated goods and services from individuals, businesses and the state of Alabama. The center has four full-time permanent employees, along with three

interns who care for the animals, provide educational programming and manage the business affairs of the organization. Adair said there are two full-time positions that would normally be filled and are essential — one in the education department and one in animal care — but both are unfilled right now because of the tightness of resources.


This year, because of COVID-19, the nonprofit hasn’t been able to hold any of its programs, and Adair said the hope is to be able to do so again in the near future. “We’ve experienced a pretty steep period of growth,” he said. “Our footprint and impact on the community has grown substantially. As we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel from COVID-19, we want to continue our trajectory to provide exceptional rehabilitative care with release rates that far exceed the national average and continue to expand and deliver exceptional environmental education programming.” Adair said he has missed doing the outreach programming. Getting in front of large groups leads to more people supporting the organization, and it is then able to spread its conservation message. One of the center’s largest fundraising events, Wild About Chocolate, took place in February. But the summer fundraiser, Chirps and Chips, had to be canceled because of the pandemic. The annual Baby Bird Shower in September was virtual, with the public being able to drop off donations. The center had its annual Owl-O-Ween event Oct. 24, and Adair hopes they are able to have a holiday event in December. The AWC is primarily a volunteer organization and relies heavily on those volunteers to assist with rescue, rehabilitation, transport and public education services. However, it has lost many of its volunteers who are in high-risk categories and have not been able to help during


November 2020 • A31

Above: An American kestrel, the smallest falcon in Alabama and North America, rests on Arnold’s gloved hand as it eats a piece of a mouse Sept. 23 at AWC. The American kestrel is one of AWC’s resident birds because it is missing talons on one of its feet. Left: A red tailed hawk rests on a log inside the “Freedom Flight” enclosure, where other raptors are housed as they reach the later rehabilitation phase before being released into the wild.

the pandemic. But even with less people to help, the work must still go on. “Baby bird season is our busiest time of year, and babies continue to come into the Wildlife Center fast and furiously. We have been challenged to provide excellent rehabilitative care and environmental education with a very limited number of people,” Adair said. COVID-19 has impacted the AWC even more at a financial level, particularly stretching things during its busiest time of the year. However, many of its supporters have stepped up to help. “It’s been a very challenging season, and we are grateful for those people who have been able to help and contribute. Some of our community partners have accelerated their financial contributions, and we were also able to get PPP funds as a result of the CARES Act. That has been essential in getting us through.”


When someone finds a bird, they can call the Wildlife HelpLine — ­ 205-663-7930, ext. 2 — to get free advice and information on how to deal with a variety of problems and emergencies. Adair said they encourage people to first be sure the bird needs help. Some baby birds escape the nest before they are ready to fly, but are unharmed. No one can take better care of the bird than its parents. He said the thought that once a person touches a baby bird that its parents reject it is a complete myth. The best thing to do in almost any situation is to get the bird into a box or animal carrier and bring it to the Wildlife Center. If unable to transport it, someone from the center’s network of volunteers can assist. One of the most common injuries seen each year occur from vehicle strikes. The AWC educates people on steps to take to prevent this from happening. While a bird may not go for an apple core, banana peel or other food that has been thrown

Above left: Intern Rae Patterson feeds birds housed in one of the clinic aviaries. Above right: Arnold points to the feathers on the heart-shaped face of a barn owl, one of AWC’s resident birds. Below right: Coosa, a 19-year-old barred owl and the AWC’s first educational bird, lets out a call.

from a car window, rodents do. Then, the bird goes for the rodent and is prone to being struck. Other injuries come from entanglement in fishing line. Adair encourages people to properly dispose of their line when they fish to prevent a bird from getting entangled in it. Also, many birds are injured by outdoor cats, and the AWC encourages cat owners to keep an eye on their pets. Other injuries include window strikes, gunshots, poisoning from pest control substances and orphaned birds whose parents have been killed.

medication, housing, upkeep, cleaning and maintaining areas of animal care. It becomes obvious that it is a very significant amount required to fulfill the mission of AWC.” During the busiest time of year, one week’s worth of food can include 100,000 mealworms, 5,000 wax worms, 400 rats and mice and 100 fish. The AWC has recently begun a partnership with UAB to take the university’s unused research mice and other animals to have as food for the birds. Instead of them being euthanized, they can be donated to the center as food.



The AWC’s permitting allows the center to rehabilitate all native wild birds. The people at the center also work with several local vets on a regular basis. All of the birds that come to the AWC require individualized treatment plans, housing, medical care, specialized diet and release plans. All have to be tailored to each individual animal. “My number one budget line item is food,” Adair said. “We can easily spend $2,500 a week on food costs,” Adair said. “Plus the cost of

The educational aspect of the AWC is critically important, and the unique thing it is able to offer is being able to introduce the education raptors to the public. These are the birds that have been rehabilitated, but would not be able to survive in the wild because of their injuries. “Allowing for an in-person, up-close encounter with these beautiful animals, most people don’t have the opportunity to see them in that setting,” Adair said. There are seven different species

of education raptors: hawks, falcons, owls, a Mississippi kite, vultures, eagles and osprey. One of the center’s newest education ambassadors is Shelby, a bald eagle. She is the only bald eagle in all of northern and central Alabama that is on educational display. After being hit by a car, she lost vision in her left eye, leaving her unable to hunt well enough to survive in the wild. Adair said she has been a wonderful addition to the education program. She has a wingspan of 8 feet and weighs about 14 pounds. She is 4 years old and could live to be 50. Other birds that can be seen at the AWC include the red-tailed hawk, red shouldered hawk, falcons, American kestrel, merlin, all of the primary native Alabama owls

and the largest owl species in the world, the Eurasian-eagle owl.


Adair said the center hopes to restart its volunteer orientation sessions soon. They are normally on the first Sunday of every month as a way to recruit and encourage volunteer participation. The age for volunteers is 18 and older, but those 16 and older can volunteer with a parent. Ways to help include animal care, the wildlife helpline, transport, tour guides, special events and more. For more information about volunteering or donating, visit awrc. org or call 205-663-7930. To stay up to date on events, visit facebook. com/alwildlifecenter.

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Hope Wright, Amaya Rudolph enjoy outstanding volleyball careers with Chelsea Hornets


Three years ago, Hope Wright and Amaya Rudolph were scared to death. They were the lone freshmen on the Chelsea High School volleyball team and were not sure if they belonged on the court with a bunch of girls older, bigger and stronger than them. “I threw them out there to the wolves,” Chelsea head coach Jessica Pickett remembers fondly. “Both of them started and played a lot.” Wright actually began her freshman season on the varsity team, while Rudolph played junior varsity before being called up during the season. “Amaya wasn’t on varsity yet, so I was by myself and I was really, really scared,” Wright said. “I started as a freshman and was so scared. From [when Rudolph was called up], I felt like I had a partner.” Rudolph recalls the nerves she felt as a young player as well. “We weren’t as good as we are now,” she said. “We were flying balls out, in the net, all sorts of stuff.” However, the nerves soon subsided, and both have put together careers worthy of the Chelsea record books. Wright and Rudolph have been part of one of the most successful runs in the history of Hornets volleyball, which includes an appearance in the 2019 state tournament. “We worked so hard, we had great leaders on the [2019] team, and we had the potential,” Wright said. Pair the hitting power of Wright and Rudolph with the likes of libero Victoria Schmer, outside hitter Zoe LaBreche, setter Bailey Drew McIntyre and hitter Sarah Moore, and last fall’s

Left: Hope Wright (1) returns the ball in a match against the Hoover Buccaneers on Aug. 27 at Chelsea High School. Right: Amaya Rudolph (7) prepares to spike the ball during a match against Helena in 2019 at Chelsea High School. Photos by Erin Nelson.

squad was deep and rich with talent. Three of the four are now playing in college. “We had really good leaders on that team,” Rudolph said. With that firepower a grade ahead of them, Wright and Rudolph did not feel much pressure when it came to their roles. But Pickett assures that they were both extremely valuable to the team’s success. “They have been relied on heavily since they were freshmen,” Pickett said. “I don’t think they realized their roles until this year, when it

was a little bit heavier on them.” The duo certainly felt the weight on their shoulders this fall, being tasked with leading a largely young and unproven roster. “We’ve had our ups and downs,” Rudolph admitted. “I want to see the little ones have fun and have them take more control of the court.” As their Chelsea careers ended in mid-October, Wright and Rudolph hoped to make the most of the time they had left. Neither plans to play in college, with Wright set to attend Alabama and Rudolph heading off to Auburn.

They spoke highly of Pickett and expressed appreciation for how she has pushed them over the years, from timid freshmen to confident seniors. “I’m super proud of how they’ve grown,” Pickett said. Wright and Rudolph have been named allmetro and all-county players throughout their high school careers and will likely add more accolades on their way out. They came in together and will leave together, and they would not have it any other way. “We’re a package,” Rudolph said.

B2 • November 2020

280 Living

Your Health Today Written by Dr. Palmer

Our May 280Living article titled “Prevention strategies for COVID-19” discussed the benefits of Vitamin D and Vitamin C as nutritional aides to strengthening one’s immune system and help with prevention of COVID. The recommended levels of Vitamin D were between 40-60 ng/ml. I advised determining your values by either your primary health DR or ordering a ‘Vitamin D self test’ kit from grassrootshealth.net (no profit to me or my practice if this resource is utilized). At the time, the research data available about Vitamin D against COVID was promising yet rather limited. However, newly developed research have scientists confirming vitamin D is effective useful and highly recommended. The latest research is revealing it lowers the risk of a “positive COVID test”. This is great news!!! The most recent research study published September 17, 2020, in PLOS ONE revealed “individuals with lower vitamin D levels in their blood had a significantly higher risk of testing positive for SARACoV-2”. Dr. Michael Hollick, the lead researcher of this study and, one of the most widely recognized leading vitamin D experts in the world, used observational analysis of SARS-CoV-2 tests to observe whether vitamin D blood levels obstructed positivity rates. Based on results, people

with a vitamin D level of at least 55 ng/mL had a 47% lower COVID positivity rate, compared to those with a level below 20 ng/mL. After modification for gender, age, ethnicity and latitude, the risk of having a positive test result was 43% lower among those with a vitamin D level of 55 ng/mL compared to those with a lower level. Research gathered by Dr. Joseph Mercola revealed, an Israeli population-based study published in The Febs Journal July 2020, examined data from 7,807 people that tested for COVID-19 between February and April of 2020 who also had vitamin D test data available. The data revealed “those with a vitamin D level above 30 ng/mL had a 50% lower risk of testing positive compared to those individuals with vitamin D level between 20-29 ng/mL, and a 58% lower risk compared to those with a vitamin D level below 20 ng/mL”. It gets better. Additional studies revealed that when vitamin D is administered to hospitalized patients, this lowers their risk of infection and needing intensive care. Other studies have confirmed that higher vitamin D levels lower the risks of death from COVID-19 as well. A study in August 2020 published by The Journal Nutrients, found “patients who had a vitamin D level below 12 ng/mL had a 6.12 times higher risk of severe disease that


required ventilation. They also had a 14.7 times higher risk of death compared to those with a vitamin D level above 12 ng/mL”. Remember the devastation caused by COVID in Italy when it first occurred. A study published in August 2020 in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation found “vitamin D deficiency was a common factor among hospitalized patients in Italy who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 related respiratory failure”. They stated, “these considerations support the recommendation that people at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 consider vitamin D supplementation to raise their 25(OH)D concentrations above 40-60 ng/mL, and that treatment of patients infected with influenza and/or COVID-19 includes higher vitamin D doses”. The overwhelming message is low vitamin D is a risk factor for any and all respiratory compromise and failure. Therefore, as we get into autumn and winter, get as much sun/vitamin D as possible. Also, GET your vitamin D levels checked by your primary care DR or via the grassrootshealth.net resource. If low, increase your Vitamin D and retest again in 3-4 months. Add vitamin K2 and magnesium to optimize absorption and utilization of vitamin D. The grassroots health website has detailed information

regarding this combination. Other attainable habits for this fall and winter so you can raise your vitamin D is going outside for at least 20 minutes or so. Vitamin D from the sun is the best way to absorb it. There’s an amazing feeling that comes from sitting in the sun, especially if you’re not melting. This is the preferred way because it’s natural, faster and more efficient for the body. Next option, taking it in pill format will work too, however, it’s a longer process going through the digestive system. Lastly, if you don’t like swallowing vitamins for your vitamin D, drink cod liver oil (yuk) or eat swordfish, wild caught freshly sourced salmon, wild caught canned tuna, beef, liver, egg yolks and sardines. It’s important to realize our health is our greatest asset. Protect it, enhance it and, one can LIVE LIFE WELL, as God intended! At the end of the day, our health good or bad, comes down to our choices. Our practice is dedicated to helping those seeking the health restoration journey! Resources for this article: mercola.com 09/28/2020, grassrootshealth.net, febs.onlinelibrary.com and plosone.com SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates associated with circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels

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B4 • November 2020

280 Living


PREP FOOTBALL HIGHLIGHTS Photos by Todd Lester, Erin Nelson and James Nicholas

Left: Oak Mountain quarterback Evan Smith (9) has put up performances too exemplary to ignore. He eclipses the century mark in rushing nearly every game, but his 226-yard game in the Eagles’ 42-21 win over Tuscaloosa County on Oct. 15 was perhaps his most impressive. Below left: Chelsea’s Adam Reaves (9) has done everything for the Hornets offense this fall. He takes snaps, catches passes and — with the injury of Collier Blair — carries the ball out of the backfield often. In the win over Huffman, Reaves scored all five Chelsea touchdowns in a standout performance. Below right: Spain Park Drake Tabor (22) has been a bright spot for the Jags as well, providing consistency in the kicking game. He kicked a 29-yard field goal in the Jags’ 3117 loss to Gadsden City on Sept. 18.

Chelsea defensive lineman James Turnes (59) returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown in the Hornets’ 56-0 win over Woodlawn on Oct. 2.

Briarwood running back Luke Reebals (23) has put together a strong season, highlighted by his standout performance against Shades Valley. In the win, Reebals went for 205 yards on 16 rushes.


November 2020 • B5


Shelby County will be constructing a new County Services building in 2020 and demolishing the existing facility located at 19220 Highway 280, Birmingham, AL 35242. The existing facility adjacent to the 1996 Soccer Fields off US Highway 280 and County Road 41 served as a voting center for residents living in Precinct 10. Voting for the November 3, 2020 Election will be held at the same location but in a temporary facility. Voters in Precinct 10 should come to the same location to vote as they have voted in previous elections.





Below is a map that depicts how Precinct 10 voters should access the temporary voting structure located at the same voting location as previous elections.




B6 • November 2020

280 Living

PREP FOOTBALL HIGHLIGHTS Photos by Todd Lester, Erin Nelson and James Nicholas

Above: Oak Mountain defensive back Jimmy Harris (13) was a bright spot in the Eagles’ 42-7 loss to Hoover on Sept. 18. Harris intercepted a pass in the opening quarter to set up the team’s lone scoring drive. Right: Despite the Jags’ struggles in the middle of the season, Spain Park wide receiver Jaylen Ward (1) has put together solid performances. He scored a touchdown in games against Hoover and Vestavia Hills, notably, and had 99 receiving yards in the Hoover game.

With Briarwood’s 42-19 win over Shades Valley on Oct. 2, the Lions clinched a playoff berth for the 28th consecutive season. Fred Yancey led Briarwood to the playoffs 26 straight years and Matthew Forester has done so in each of his first two seasons.

Chelsea’s Hayden Garrison (11) took over as the Hornets’ primary quarterback in the middle portion of the season and has put together some solid performances. In the win over Huffman, Garrison completed 16-of-32 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown. Left: Briarwood sophomore quarterback Christopher Vizzina (17) has continued to build upon his strong freshman campaign and threw three touchdown passes in the Lions’ win over Shades Valley. Below left: Oak Mountain’s Mark Johnson (4) is one piece in a stellar Eagles backfield. In the win over Spain Park, Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns in the opening half. He caught a 28-yard pass and rushed for a 12-yard score in the contest.

Spain Park wide receiver Cooper Kelley (10) is putting together another great season. In the Jags’ loss to Hoover, Kelley still managed a big game, going for 132 receiving yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.


November 2020 • B7

Young excels in all facets By KYLE PARMLEY For the immense athletic prowess Noah Young possesses, that’s not the first thing that comes to mind when people are asked about him. Young is a 6-foot-4 standout football and basketball player at Oak Mountain High School. That’s typically enough to make most high school players one of the most popular students on campus. But it’s Young’s vibrant and empathetic personality that makes the senior stand out above the rest. “He’s got a level of emotional maturity you don’t often see in teenagers,” Oak Mountain football coach Cris Bell said. Eagles basketball coach Chris Love has seen the effect Young has on people up close. Love’s son Luke graduated from Oak Mountain last year and played basketball with Young. “The biggest compliment I can pay Noah is by what Luke would say about Noah, that Noah was one of the nicest guys he’s ever met and was always asking how Luke was doing when he was applying for college and stuff, when most other kids couldn’t care less about that for others,” Love said. “There are very few 16- to 17-year-olds who are having conversations like that with their friends and showing concern for them.” That selfless nature translates into the competition arena as well, where Young has continued to show a willingness to improve at facets of his football and basketball game that are not always the flashiest. Oak Mountain’s football team

Above: Oak Mountain’s Noah Young (2) reacts in excitement as the Eagles come out with a win over Sparkman in the Class 7A boys Northeast Regional final game in February at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville. Right: Young (2) brings the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during a game against Pelham on Aug. 28 at Heardmont Park. Photos by Erin Nelson.

operates out of a run-based offense, meaning there are not nearly as many pass-catching opportunities for Young as there would be in other systems. When Young is not running routes, he is tasked with being a blocker on the outside. “I accept my role for who I am because that’s what I can do to help my team,” Young said. Young said Bell focuses as much on blocking well as he does running routes and catching passes. “If you can’t block on the perimeter, you’re not getting in the game,” Young said. However, in late September, Bell

said his goal was to get Young more opportunities in the passing game as the year progressed, citing the advantages Young’s size and strength provide in the passing game. “We’re at that point where it’s really starting to click across the board,” Bell said. On the basketball court, Young helped the Eagles to their first state final four appearance last season. As the team’s starting power forward, he led the team in 3-point shooting percentage while also maintaining his status as one of the team’s best defenders and rebounders. Love said he was “under the radar” despite

his production. “This past year, he really grew with his understanding and how he can use his body and understanding how good he really is and how he can use that to his advantage around the rim. He did the same thing on the football field,” Love said. Last year, Young was named honorable mention on the Starnes Media All-South Metro football and basketball teams. His current trajectory suggests there will be more significant accolades coming during his senior

season, and Young said he hopes to play football in college. The football team is preparing for a playoff run, while the basketball team has high hopes yet again. At the moment, the football postseason is on his mind. But to the surprise of no one, he’s thinking of the people around him as well. “It would mean everything,” he said, of the possibility of a deep playoff run, “because I know my teammates work hard and do everything they can.”


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B8 • November 2020

280 Living

Parker Boswell, a 2019 Spain Park graduate and standout student-athlete, died in a car accident in September while returning to Southern Union Community College in Wadley. Photos by Todd Lester.

Boswell remembered for his personality, smile By KYLE PARMLEY Talk to anyone who knew Parker Boswell and the scope of his personality becomes clear. Genuine, caring, kind-hearted and intentional with an infectious smile is how those who were around him on a daily basis describe him. Boswell, a former Spain Park High School basketball star, died in a car accident in September while returning to Southern Union Community College in Wadley. After spending a year at a prep school in Georgia, the 2019 Spain Park graduate was set to be a part of Southern Union’s basketball team. Chris Laatsch, who took over as the boys basketball coach at Spain Park ahead of Boswell’s senior season, sought out Boswell first when he took the job. He knew Boswell was the Jags’ leader and was impressed by his

initial conversations. “A genuine kid. The first conversations with him were just real, and you felt like you had known him forever,” Laatsch said. Boswell played on Spain Park’s varsity team for five years and was on the Jags team in 2016 that advanced to the state semifinals. His senior year was not the easiest, though. The team struggled to win games, and Boswell fought through injuries much of the season. But Laatsch never could tell. “He continued to try to invest in his teammates even when he wasn’t on the floor,” Laatsch said. “He loved people. Basketball was important, but people were more important. He wanted everyone to be the best they could be.” Josh Wallace, a football player and track and field athlete during his time at Spain Park, considers Boswell one of his closest friends.

The two were even running mates for student government as seniors. Wallace remembers his friend as someone always interested in others. “He genuinely wanted to have a relationship with everyone around him,” Wallace said. “He would seek out those who were in need of a friend and be there for them.” Wallace also mentioned Boswell’s smile, which is something that stuck with Allie DeSantis as well. DeSantis, who played volleyball at Spain Park, also considers Boswell one of her best friends. “I feel like words will never do him justice,” DeSantis said. “It was the way he carried himself. No matter what day it was, what was going on, Parker would have that smile on his face, and anyone who knew of him knows what smile I am talking about.”

Despite spending so much of his energy on making other people feel welcomed and wanted, Boswell was able to juggle all his responsibilities in an exemplary fashion. “He had it all. He knew how to balance his academics, his sports, his friends and family, to his relationship with Jesus,” DeSantis said. “You don’t find that many 19-year-old boys who know what they are doing with their life and living out their purpose at such a young age.” Laatsch called the loss of Boswell “a hole in our heart,” but believes the life he led will leave a significant mark on the people he interacted with on a daily basis. “If people can know about him and know what made him tick, it will make people better,” Laatsch said. “If we treated people like he treated people, the world would be a much better place.”



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November 2020 • B9

Sports Editor’s Note By Kyle Parmley

The return of sports inspires gratefulness I was a bit apprehensive at first. I wasn’t sure what I would encounter upon walking into Milton Frank Stadium on Aug. 20. That was the site of the first high school football game I covered this fall, between Spain Park and the host, Huntsville. After a long spring and longer summer, in which everyone’s way of life was altered dramatically by the COVID-19 pandemic, the return of high school football had the chance to be one of the most significant returns to a somewhat normal aspect of my life and job. The atmosphere was subdued, admittedly. The typical pregame pageantry was muted. The stadium capacity was limited. The pregame coin toss was conducted in a “socially distanced” manner, in which two officials and one player from each stood in a diamond formation, roughly 10 feet apart from one another. But then the whistle blew, the ball was kicked off, and that old feeling came over me yet again. It was a football game. Like the hundreds I’ve attended and covered before, it was pretty close to feeling like just another football game. And that was all I could have hoped. The previous months consisted of writing stories about student-athletes dealing with the disappointment of losing their spring seasons. That transitioned into writing about all the challenges associated with coaches bringing their teams back on campus in June for summer conditioning. But during that game, all I focused on was how well the Spain Park football team was playing. It was quite refreshing. The Alabama High School Athletic Association and Executive Director Steve Savarese deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their leadership in bringing prep sports back to schools across the state. Recognizing the many

The scene before the Spain Park vs. Briarwood football game Aug. 28. Photo by Kyle Parmley.

hurdles and obstacles in the way, they took each of them head on, determined to resume these activities that mean so much to the communities, programs, families and kids near and far. Savarese knew he would receive criticism for pushing forward in the midst of the pandemic. But he and the AHSAA’s Central Board worked with health officials throughout the state to formulate a plan to bring sports back in the safest manner possible. The fall sports season has not gone perfectly by any means. Athletes have been forced to miss

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games while quarantining, whether through a positive COVID-19 case or through contact tracing. Games have been canceled or postponed due to similar concerns. But that was to be expected. The schools and their faculties also have earned their share of praise. Hours upon hours have been spent preparing football stadiums for the limited crowds this fall. Many of them have stickers and other signage directing fans where to sit in order to prioritize the health and safety of the attendees.

COVID-19 remains a real concern in the world today, but it has been awe-inspiring to see so many people in authority across the Birmingham area and the state of Alabama do everything within their power to allow kids the opportunities they deserve. There’s no more apprehension for me, in going to cover a football game or volleyball match. But there is a great deal of appreciation and admiration for the athletes performing at their peak despite all of the chaos in the world, and for the leaders that allowed them that chance.

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B10 • November 2020

SNAPSHOTS 280 corridor prep volleyball action

Above: Oak Mountain’s Jayni Thompson (11) spikes the ball during the Eagles’ Oct. 6 match against Hoover. Right: Briarwood’s Bennett Shaw (5) sets up the ball for a teammate in their Oct. 13 match against Mountain Brook.

280 Living

Above: Oak Mountain’s Avery Fletcher (13) passes the ball during a match against Hoover on Oct. 6 at Hoover High. Left: Chelsea’s Ava LaBreche (24) serves during a match against Homewood during the AHSAA Class 6A, Area 9, tournament Oct. 13 at Mountain Brook High School’s Spartan Arena. Photos by Erin Nelson.

Above: Briarwood’s Stella Helms (2) spikes the ball as Mountain Brook’s Celie Field (9) and Greer Golden (5) guard the net during the AHSAA Class 6A, Area 9, tournament Oct. 13 at Mountain Brook High School. Below: Chelsea’s Hope Wright (1) returns the ball as Homewood’s Shawnise Gregory (10) jumps to block.


November 2020 • B11

Varsity Sports Calendar FOOTBALL

at 7:30 p.m.

at 7:30 p.m.

7 p.m.

Nov. 6, 13, 20, 27: Playoff Rounds 1-4.


Nov. 13: vs. Wenonah. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.


Nov. 5: @ Minor. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 14: Girls at Tip-Off Classic. TBD. Mortimer Jordan High School.

Nov. 16: @ Northridge. Girls at 7 p.m.

Nov. 5: Sectional Tournament. TBD. Veterans Park.

Nov. 10: @ Clay-Chalkville. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 20: @ Spain Park. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 17: Boys vs. Mountain Brook. 7 p.m.

Nov. 14: State Tournament. TBD. Oakville Indian Mounds Park.

Nov. 12: vs. Vestavia Hills. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 23-25: Boys at Sneaky Pete’s Classic. TBD. Vestavia Hills High School.


Nov. 17: @ Calera. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 30: vs. Ramsay. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 19: @ Thompson. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.


BRIARWOOD Nov. 10: @ Benjamin Russell. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12: vs. Childersburg. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 21-24: Boys at Jag Classic. TBD. Spain Park High School.

Nov. 5: @ Tuscaloosa County. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.


Nov. 10: Girls @ Madison Academy. 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 17: vs. Altamont. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 10: vs. Northridge. Girls at 7 p.m.

Nov. 10: Boys vs. McAdory. 7 p.m.

Nov. 20: @ Gardendale. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys

Nov. 12: @ Woodlawn. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys

Nov. 12: vs. Calera. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at

Nov. 20: vs. Oak Mountain. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21, 23-24: Boys at Jag Classic. TBD. Spain Park High School. Nov. 27-28: Girls at Hazel Green Tournament. TBD. Hazel Green High School. Editor’s Note: With the ongoing cancellation of events and activities because of COVID-19, we at 280 Living recommend people check with event organizers and websites to verify if an event is still happening before making plans to go. We tried to remove any events from our calendar that we knew had been canceled or postponed indefinitely as of press time.

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B12 • November 2020

280 Living

The ‘mayor’ of Greystone Mary Sue Ludwig moved to the community in 1992 to be a young socialite, but ‘it didn’t work out that way’ By JON ANDERSON


he’s never been elected to municipal office, but that has never stopped people from calling Mary Sue Ludwig the “mayor” of Greystone. The 82-year-old woman who has lived in the Greystone community for 28 years is often one of the first people called upon when important issues arise that affect the affluent community. If a developer wants to build a new subdivision or business near Greystone, she’s usually in the loop. If the state wants to make changes to U.S. 280 or Alabama 119 in that vicinity, Ludwig will know about it. If there are issues with taxes, sewer fees or fire dues, people will call her. And Ludwig is almost always at any public meeting that involves the Greystone community, speaking out on behalf of residents, whether it involves the city of Hoover, city of Birmingham, Shelby County Commission, Shelby County Planning Commission, Alabama Department of Transportation, North Shelby Library Board or Cahaba Valley Fire District. “She’s a strong voice for that part of the city,” Hoover City Council President Gene Smith said. “She’s a diamond for that community out there. … She cares about Greystone and Shelby County.” Frank Brocato, the actual mayor of Hoover, described Ludwig as the “quintessential citizen servant.” “Mary Sue is a servant leader that has her city’s best interest at heart and her community’s interest at heart,” Brocato said. “She has worked tirelessly for the city and Greystone community for decades.”


Ludwig moved to Mountain Brook from Atlanta in 1970 when her husband, Jim, got a job with Southern Company Services. They moved to Knoxville in 1986 but came back to the Birmingham area in 1992 when her husband was hired as president of Drummond Coal Sales. They settled in Greystone, moving into about the 25th house to be occupied in the community. Ludwig said her desire was to play golf and bridge and be a young socialite, but “it didn’t work out that way.” At that time, the development company, Daniel Corp., controlled the homeowners association, but Ludwig started the Greystone Ladies Club in 1993 and served as its first president. The club was started primarily as a social club for entertainment purposes, but it didn’t take long for people to start using it as a sounding board for all types of issues, Ludwig said. Ludwig asked Daniel Corp. to activate a resident-led homeowners association, but the developer wanted to maintain control and instead formed a nine-member advisory committee that included Ludwig. She served as chairwoman for a while as well. “I was into everything,” she said. She received a bill from the Cahaba Valley Fire District and didn’t understand why because she was in the city of Hoover, which has its own Fire Department. She called the fire district office to inquire, and a man was rude to her, she said. “That set me off.” The Ludwigs were among plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed against the fire district, claiming double taxation. At the time, “Shelby County was a rural, agricultural place, and they didn’t know what to do with us,” Ludwig said. “We came in here like gangbusters.” The city of Hoover and Shelby County commissioners got involved, and as a part of negotiations, Ludwig and others persuaded state legislators to pass a law, giving Greystone residents a way out. The measure allowed residents who were annexed into a municipality to pay six years of fire dues upfront or one year at a time for eight years and be released from their fire district obligations. Ludwig also got involved with the North Shelby Library District after receiving a bill

Mary Sue Ludwig, the “mayor” of Greystone, stands in the foyer of her home. Photo by Erin Nelson.

from that agency. She had similar concerns with it because she paid taxes to Hoover for such services. But no deal could be worked out there, and Greystone residents still pay North Shelby Library District dues unless they are 65 or older, she said.


Ludwig at one point got appointed and then elected to the North Shelby Library Board. She also served as chairwoman of a landowners committee that advised the Shelby County Planning Commission in the development of a North Cahaba Valley Road Corridor Development Plan, which established desired land uses from U.S. 280 to Lake Purdy. She was appointed as one of three registrars for Shelby County for four years during former Gov. Bob Riley’s administration, and she also was in the second class of Leadership Shelby County and was a charter member of the Southern Women’s Committee of 50. Ludwig also served on a committee that advised the Alabama Department of Transportation on traffic solutions for U.S. 280 in 2006. ALDOT proposed an elevated roadway, but many businesses opposed it. Ludwig said she wanted to reopen Cahaba Beach Road to direct traffic off U.S. 280, but the idea was defeated. “I learned a lot about politics,” she said. Ludwig said she’s had many successes in her dealings with government entities and developers, but she considers the lack of a good solution for traffic on U.S. 280 among her battles lost. Another loss for her was the Tattersall Park development, which sits right against Greystone on Alabama 119. The developer, EBSCO, originally promised residents “a little Mountain Brook,” but brought forward a plan with an eight-story hotel, movie theater and more than 250 apartments, Ludwig said. Residents objected, saying the developer was trying to cram too much onto the property and buildings that were too tall. A scaled-back plan with 120 to 200 condos, townhomes or loft apartments was approved in 2002, but the development stalled and a recession hit, leaving the site vacant for more than a decade. Plans were revived about four years ago, but the development had lost its zoning and EBSCO has been developing the property

in more of a piecemeal fashion. Ludwig and her neighbors last year were able to defeat a proposal for an auto dealership in Tattersall, but some say it’s still not the upscale development they wanted. “That’s a sore spot on my heart,” Ludwig said. “I feel like I’ve let the community down. I really wish we could have done a better job.” She is proud to have been among a group that fought off a Roosters strip club on a part of U.S. 280 that is in Birmingham, she said. “It was a sleazy joint,” Ludwig said. “We went to Birmingham to get it stopped and told them we didn’t want this trash in our backyard.”


Daniel Corp. turned over the Greystone Residential Association to the homeowners in 2005, and Ludwig has served as president three times. But she has been on the board of directors all 15 years and always been in charge of government affairs, regardless of her other duties. Larry Daughety, the current president of the association, has been on the board more than 10 years and said Ludwig does an excellent job of representing the group to various outside entities. She goes to government meetings to keep tabs, keeps her board and residents informed and speaks out when necessary, he said. Sometimes, she acts as a “one-man band” and speaks on behalf of the group, Daughety said, but she also knows when to mobilize the troops. She always gets approval before speaking for the association and sometimes has to hold her tongue, but she’s also not shy about sharing her opinion, Daughety said. “She takes the bull by the horns, and she goes after it like a bull in a china shop,” he said. Her knowledge of the history of the Greystone development and development of surrounding land is very valuable, and she maintains great communication with people in the community, Daughety said. “They give her a call whenever they have concerns or feel good about something,” he said. “That helps us as a board. We get the vibes from the neighborhood.” Many people also may not know that she helps keep a tight rein on neighborhood expenses, Daughety said. “There’s never a financial statement sent to

us for approval that she does not ask very intelligent questions protecting the money of our residents,” he said.


Brocato said that, as mayor, he views Ludwig as a valuable resource and calls her frequently to gauge how the Greystone community feels about various issues. “She’s someone we know we can go to and that we can get a straight answer from her,” he said. “She does not hesitate to call up and let us know when she doesn’t agree with the direction something is going in. … Mary Sue is going to tell you what’s on her mind.” Smith said Ludwig has been instrumental in keeping problems from being worse than they could have been both inside and outside the gates at Greystone. “She’s a great lady, and she doesn’t mind speaking her mind, and she does it in a way that she’s not abrasive, but you understand what her position is,” Smith said. Ludwig said she’s not known for keeping her opinion to herself, but she hopes she never comes across as being arrogant or ugly. The first time someone referred to her as the “mayor” of Greystone was in the late 1990s when she got out of a police car to be “locked up” for a charity event and a friend called her that on live TV. The moniker stuck, and even the city’s former longtime official spokeswoman, Lori Schommer, frequently called her that when introducing her to others, often in front of one of the actual mayors. “In the beginning, I was embarrassed,” Ludwig said. “Then I got tickled.” Ludwig did run for the Hoover City Council twice — in 1996 and 2004 — but was not elected. She has been asked to run many other times and declined, she said. At one point, she wanted to serve on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, but someone blocked her appointment, she said. When asked if she would serve on the commission now, she said she probably would if asked. But for now, she’ll keep being Greystone’s government affairs director. “I have tried to get out of it, but as long as I am in that position, I want to do it to the best of my ability.”


November 2020 • B13

B14 • November 2020

280 Living

‘Helping people move forward’ Shelby County Probate Judge Allison Boyd works to develop, implement mental health programs By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE


llison Boyd always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. She received some advice in high school from a friend’s father, who told her that even though that was her plan, she shouldn’t major in political science. “He said when you graduate from college, if you don’t want to go to law school, you’ll have a political science degree and nothing to do with that,” Boyd said. “He was kind of right.” Boyd graduated with her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Samford University in 1999, then went on to obtain her MBA from UAB in 2002. Before attending law school, she worked at Glenwood Behavioral Health Center as a human resources assistant for two years. That’s where she got her first experience with mental health. “I had been taking the LSAT and gotten frustrated in HR. Part of the reason was always being told ‘that’s great, but we need to check with our lawyer,’” she said. “That brought me back to reality and back to the path of law school.” She commuted from Shelby County to law school at the University of Alabama, where she graduated with her Juris Doctorate in 2005. During this time, she spent time clerking for the Shelby County District Attorney’s office. After graduating, she began practicing at Spruell and Powell LLC in Northport, and she and her husband Candler made the move there. She gained experience in a variety of legal services, including real estate, estate planning, contract disputes, insurance defense, probate, divorce, juvenile court, personal injury, probate law and family law. “It was wonderful,” she said. “I could not have asked for a better first legal experience or job where two people who took me under their wings and taught me the ropes and threw me in the deep end.” At the beginning of 2007, Boyd made the move back to Shelby County where she began working as the assistant district attorney in Columbiana. “I wanted to do anything — tax law, business, but nothing criminal,” Boyd said. “But it turned out to be the best thing ever. It shaped and changed where I thought I was heading. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about it; I just started to work, and as soon as I got to the office, I fell in love immediately. When I would turn on the news, that’s what we were working on the next day.” Over the next nine years, Boyd was responsible for the prosecution of crimes against children and felony crimes of violence. She was also the prosecutor assigned to manage Shelby County’s Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Veteran’s Treatment Court. She had her son about a year after taking the job, and her daughter would follow 23 months later. Now a mom herself, Boyd was spending most of her time trying cases on child crimes. “[Having my children], it made me understand a little bit more where the victim’s parents were coming from. A mom once said to me that I didn’t understand because I didn’t have kids. More on an emotional level, you do understand it, relating to the parent and even to the kids.” Boyd said working in that office was the perfect place and time having a family, because so many others were in the same stage of life. “It was so nice because other people understood what I was going through,” she said. Boyd was approached by former Judge Jim Fuhrmeister in 2015, who was creating a position in his office to focus on mental health. She said while this wasn’t something she saw coming, she was up for trying something different. In January 2016, she began her role as the Mental Health Programs coordinator and legal counsel for the Shelby County Probate Office. “I made a difficult decision to leave the district attorney’s office where I had spent the better part of 10 years doing a job I dearly loved,” she said. “I made that decision because I saw an opportunity to make a difference in my community.” She said that position was more fulfilling

Above: Shelby County Probate Judge Allison Boyd in a courtroom at the Shelby County Courthouse on Oct. 5. Photo by Erin Nelson. Below: Boyd, left, and Stephanie Kendrick of Central Alabama Wellness discuss mental health with the Leadership Shelby 2020 class in February. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.

than she ever imagined, and it allowed her to pursue her passion of working with community leaders, first responders and advocates toward creating a better mental health system. “It was a good marriage of what I had been doing and moving forward on positive change,” she said. “One thing I loved about the Mental Health Court was that the people in programs who did something wrong or were charged with a crime, helping them put the pieces in place, getting the right diagnosis, treatment, medication, a job or finishing school. We weren’t fixing those things, but putting the pieces in place for them to go on so they wouldn’t be back in court.” Just two years into that role, Judge Fuhrmeister shared with Boyd his intention not to seek reelection for probate judge. She then had to think carefully about making the decision to run for office. She did win the primary in June 2018, beating out her other two competitors. “I made it through the election season,” she said. “That’s probably the most stress I’ve ever been under.” As probate judge, Boyd is responsible for the development and implementation of mental health programs for the Shelby County Probate Office. She also reviewed cases and provided legal research and analysis for cases involving guardianships, conservatorships, wills,

administrations, condemnations, name changes, adoptions and commitments. “You’re helping people move forward and not punishing them for crimes of the past,” she said. “It’s more of seeing brightness for the future. That’s what drew me more to mental health.” During COVID-19, though the courthouse was closed to the public, her office didn’t miss a single day as far as processing things. Many things were able to be done online, and hearings were held over Zoom. She said it may change the

way they do things permanently for involuntary commitments, guardianships and conservatorships and nursing home and homebound. Boyd also volunteers her time serving on several boards, including Central Alabama Wellness, Senior Volunteers and Services, Leadership Shelby County and NAMI Alabama, an advocacy group for mental illness. Even with her busy schedule, she is thankful to still be able to be involved in her children’s activities, she said. Her son is 12 and attends Berry Middle School, where he plays lacrosse and runs cross-country. Her daughter is 10, attends Greystone Elementary and participates in programs with Red Mountain Theater Company. The family attends Asbury United Methodist Church. Boyd said her favorite part of her job is her interactions with people. Being able to help when they come to them whether for an adoption, commitment, estate, deed and mortgage records. “They are coming to us when they’re in need of something, and I love being able to help them and make it an easy process. Getting them the right answer and in and out of court without adding a burden and problem,” she said. Her goals are to simply to get better at what she is doing and make their offices even better and more user friendly.


November 2020 • B15

Retired Brook Highland doctor pens book about husband’s Alzheimer’s journey Renée Brown Harmon is the author of “Surfing the Waves of Alzheimer’s: Principles of Caregiving That Kept Me Upright,” right, which discusses how she and her family tried to cope when her late husband was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Photos courtesy of Renee Brown Harmon.

By JESSE CHAMBERS and LEAH INGRAM EAGLE It was during her husband’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease that Dr. Renee Brown Harmon journaled as a creative outlet for her feelings and a place to pour out her emotions. The couple were partners in life and partners in a thriving private practice — Double Oak Family Medicine — that they opened in Greystone in 1992. In 2010, Harvey Harmon received a shattering dementia diagnosis at age 50. “Looking back there were signs,” she said. “He told me two years prior that his memory wasn’t as good as it should be. I was thinking it was just middle age, and we all say that as we get older.” It was this form of the disease that disrupted and permanently changed the lives of the couple. While on a family vacation in 2009, when their children were 14 and 17, Harvey was unable to follow simple instructions given to them by their guide. His diagnosis would come nine months later, leaving Renee to manage both their family and their business. She survived by relying on friends, family and her faith. She continued working as a solo practitioner from 2010 until her retirement in December 2019. (She sold the practice to St. Vincent’s in 2016, and stayed on for three more years).

“When Harvey was forced to retire, I become a solo practitioner full time; that was a big adjustment for me personally,” she said. “I came to realize that practice and my patients were life-giving to me, and it was really good to be in the world helping and doing good things instead of living in my despair.” Harvey lived with the disease for eight years, which Harmon described as “pretty aggressive.” She said he was healthy and had done everything right. The first four years he was able to be at home alone, followed by two with the help of a caregiver and his last two in a memory care unit until he died in 2018. Harmon had spoken a year earlier at a conference, and while she was organizing that talk, she said the

structure of the book showed itself. She used that, along with her journals to write her new book: “Surfing the Waves of Alzheimer’s: Principles of Caregiving That Kept Me Upright.” It is both a memoir and guidebook in which she outlines tough decisions she faced as her husband’s medical partner, best friend and caregiver. In the book, Harmon draws on her experience caring for her husband and nearly 30 years as a family practice doctor, and each chapter is based on a caregiving principle and offers guidance to help family members cope at each stage of this difficult journey. She offers a clear-eyed account of the disease and its progression while sharing best practices to help family caregivers maintain their emotional balance.

“This book could be any caregiver for someone who is ill, it offers support and help caregivers,” she said. Harmon said she may do more writing, but would also like to do

more speaking engagements. The book is now available as a paperback and e-book and available through Amazon, e-book distributors and at bookstores.

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B16 • November 2020

280 Living

Country star Sara Evans releases new memoir By JESSE CHAMBERS

Previously named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People,” Sara Evans in September published her memoir, “Born To Fly.” Photo courtesy of LOWFIELD Photography.

Country singer Sara Evans is a big star, to say the least. The Missouri native, known for her insightful songwriting and strong voice, has released nine studio albums, notched five No. 1 country singles and is the fifth most-played female artist in country radio the last two decades. Her 2017 album “Words” — the first on her own Born to Fly Records label — was called one of the best country albums of the year by Billboard and Rolling Stone. Evans has received accolades from the Academy of Country Music, the American Music Awards and the Grammy Awards. Her newest album, “Copy That,” was released in May and opened at No. 1 on the iTunes Country chart. Once named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People,” Evans published her memoir, “Born To Fly” in September through Howard Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In the book, she shares stories about her life, music career, living in the spotlight and her Christian faith. She also spends a portion of the book writing about the 11 years she spent living in Mountain Brook with her husband, Jay Barker, the sports radio personality and former Alabama Crimson Tide football quarterback, and why they are still drawn to its special charm. Evans’ life in Mountain Brook came about after she met Barker in 2007. The two were introduced by a mutual friend, minister Joe Beam, and it didn't take long for

The people are so friendly, and I could not have felt more loved instantly when we moved in.


romance to blossom. They were married in Tennessee in 2008. Barker was a former University of Alabama quarterback and was in the midst of a successful career in radio. They had both gone through tough divorces. She had three kids from her first marriage: son Avery Jack and daughters Olivia Margaret and Audrey Elizabeth. Barker had four kids: Andrew, Braxton, Sarah Ashlee and Harrison. They created a new combined family, though Barker’s kids lived primarily with their mother in Hoover. Just before their honeymoon, the couple bought a home with four bedrooms and about 3,600 square feet on Elm Street in Mountain Brook, right across from the fields at Crestline Elementary School. Evans said she very quickly felt at home in the community thanks to the hospitality she and Barker were shown. “The people are so friendly, and I could not have felt more loved instantly when we moved in,” she said. “We got hundreds of cards and baked goods dropped

on our doorstep. ‘Welcome to our neighborhood,’ they said. It was amazing.” In the book, Evans said that it felt like a fairy tale when she and Barker moved to Mountain Brook. “I think it was the combination that we were newlyweds and newly in love,” she said. “Everything was brand-new: our home, my husband, my stepchildren, my home.” In the book, Evans writes, “Jay and I decided ... that we wanted to be adventurous and find a ’60s ranch-style home in Mountain Brook and gut it and remodel it.” She called it the “worst decision” of her life, she writes in her book. “Well, not the worst, but probably in the top 10.” In July 2019, Evans and her family moved back to Nashville, drawn by the ease of conducting her career in music back in the country music capital. For example, in recording “Copy That,” Evans said she “could just wake up and drive across town to the studio and not figure out how to bus up from Birmingham.” Evans lives in Nashville fulltime. Barker spends part of his time in Nashville but lives primarily in Birmingham due to his responsibilities hosting his radio show, Evans said. Despite the advantages of Nashville for Evans’ career, she said she and Barker really miss Mountain Brook and have talked about how they could find a second home there. For more information, go to saraevans.com.


November 2020 • B17

Events Kampfire for the King fundraiser set for Nov. 14 By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE The 11th annual Kampfire for the King will be Nov. 14 at the King’s Home campus in Chelsea. Bass Pro Tour Angler Randy Howell will be presenting his 10th annual boat giveaway to raise money for the nonprofit organization. King’s Home President Lew Burdette said after the first Kampfire for the King event, the organization became partners with Howell. “We raised so much money that way, Kampfire almost became the boat giveaway,” Burdette said. Because the event is outdoors on 100 acres, Burdette said the way the event is run won’t change much due to COVID-19. “It’s always been where we could spread out,” he said. “We will limit the number of people [in certain activities] in order to keep everyone safe.” The day will begin with a cornhole tournament at 8:30 a.m. for the second straight year. Burdette said he is hoping for 50 or more teams to compete this year. It is run by Central Alabama Cornhole Club, which promotes it and provides equipment. Registration is $40 per team, and top teams receive cash prizes. Other events will begin at 10 a.m., including face painting, inflatables, a petting area, horseback rides, hayride, food trucks and music. Howell will host the fishing rodeo prior to the boat giveaway at 2 p.m. “Randy always invites high school bass fishing teams,” Burdette said. “The fishermen come help show kids how to fish and help them put lures on. There will also be a big fish contest taking place.” Burdette said Howell’s reach is amazing. During the last 10 years of the boat giveaway, donations have come in from 49 states and seven countries, raising more than $1.4 million

11th annual Kampfire for the King • WHERE: King’s Home campus in Chelsea • WHEN: Beginning 8:30 a.m., Nov. 14 • COST: $40 for cornhole tournament; $100 donation to enter boat giveaway • WEB: kingshome.com/kampfire

Prizes are handed out to top teams of the cornhole tournament during the 2019 Kampfire for the King fundraiser. This year’s event is scheduled for Nov. 14 at the King’s Home Chelsea campus. Photo courtesy of Fotowerks.

for King’s Home. “He has a big following, and what a blessing for King’s Home for him to do this,” Burdette said. “He loves our kids. He’s not just here for one day in and out; he is involved with our kids and really cares. He interacts with them and loves being around them. He walks the walk.”

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Howell and his wife, Robin, stay the week of the event at a nearby location and come each day to help with preparations. Burdette said the Howells put in a lot of their time promoting the boat giveaway. The goal is always to raise $200,000. Each $100 donation provides a chance to win. King’s Home (formerly King’s Ranch/

Hannah Home) has been around for 46 years and serves youth, women and kids fleeing domestic violence and homelessness in Alabama. The money raised from Kampfire for the King goes into the organization’s general operating costs for its kids program. The 2020 budget for the nonprofit is $9.3 million. Burdette said one of the needs is remodeling the homes where their clients live. “They are constantly needing remodeling, refurnishing and new flooring, that’s a big push of ours now,” he said. “To get homes remodeled … with fresh coats of paints, updated cabinetry and bathrooms.” King’s Home has 21 homes on six different campuses in four counties, with most of the homes being in Shelby County. The 100-acre main campus in Chelsea has seven homes: four for teenagers and three adult homes. “This is such a great event, even in COVID times, to be outside and get to do things like this,” Burdette said. For more information, to donate to enter the boat giveaway, or to register for the cornhole tournament, visit kingshome.com/kampfire.

B18 • November 2020

280 Living

Blood Rock races return Dec. 4-6 to OMSP By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE The weekend of Dec. 4-6 will feature multiple race options for participants of the Blood Rock races at Oak Mountain State Park. Race lengths include 25K, 50K, 50 miles and 100 miles. The start of the 100-mile and 50-mile trail races will begin at noon, Friday, Dec. 4. For those who can’t start the 50 mile on Friday, an 8 a.m. Saturday start option will be available. On Saturday, race check-in and packet pickup for 25K and 50K runners will take place from 6-7:40 a.m. A race briefing will be at 7:40 a.m., and the start will begin at 8 a.m. The 100- and 50-mile races will start and finish at the Cabins on Tranquility Lake, and are all Southeastern Trail races. According to the race website, “The 2020 Blood Rock 100 or 50 mile trail race will likely be the hardest 100 or 50 you have ever run.” The 100-mile race will have 26,114 feet of elevation change, and 13,057 feet for the 50-mile race. In addition to the elevation gain, the terrain makes the race difficult. The mountain at Oak Mountain State Park is 700 feet tall and about 10 miles long but has steep technical climbs and descents, treacherous trails and miles of rocks and roots. All registrations close Nov. 30. There is an additional $5 per person entry fee to get in Oak Mountain State Park. For more information or to register, visit ultrasignup.com.


Begins at noon, Friday, Dec. 4. Aid stations distances range from 3 to 7 miles apart. The cutoff will be 44 hours. Because of the extremely difficult and remote nature of the backcountry sections of Blood Rock, mandatory cutoffs must be enforced.


The course will be a single 50-mile loop. About 20 of those 50 miles will be on very

Participants take part in the Blood Rock Run preview. The annual event takes place at Oak Mountain State Park and is scheduled for Dec. 4-6. Photo courtesy of Southeastern Train Runs.

difficult backcountry trails, with some of the steepest climbs in the Southeast. The cutoff for the Friday start will be 10 a.m. Saturday (22 hours.) There will be an alternative start for the 50 mile at 8 a.m. Saturday. Place awards for the 50-mile will be given to runners starting at the official start Friday. Those starting Saturday will not be eligible for place awards. They will be official finishers and receive finisher awards.

25K AND 50K

These races are Southeastern Trail Series Points races. Both will start at 8 a.m. Saturday,

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Blood Rock races • WHERE: Oak Mountain State Park • WHEN: Dec. 4-6, times vary • COST: Registration costs vary; entrance to OMSP $5 • WEB: ultrasignup.com

Dec. 5. The course for both races will be the same for the first 12.2 mile to the North Trailhead Aid Station No. 2.

The 25K runners will return to the start/finish on the Yellow Trail for the 25K finish. Runners in the 50K will turn around and head back into the backcountry following the same route, eventually returning to the North Trailhead at mile 22. They will then follow the Yellow Trail to the start/finish. After the aid station at The Cabins — mile 25 — 50K runners will make a 7-mile loop before returning to the cabins and the finish. Runners in both races will be on very difficult backcountry trails with some of the steepest climbs in the Southeast during this first section of the Blood Rock race.

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November 2020 • B19

Junior League’s Market Noel goes virtual for 2020 holiday season By JON ANDERSON The Junior League of Birmingham’s annual Market Noel shopping experience is moving to a virtual format this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shoppers can go to marketnoel.net to find this year’s vendors from Nov. 16-22. The event allows people to do holiday shopping, while also benefiting the Junior League’s charitable efforts to While hosted inside Hoover’s Finley Center in years support women and children. past, this year’s Market Noel will be online Nov. 16-22 Last year, Market Noel was at because of COVID-19. Staff photo. the Finley Center in Hoover and raised more than $218,000. League volunteers met this summer and Market Noel determined they were committed to hold the event despite COVID-19 because needs in the • WHERE: Online community have only increased with the pan• WHEN: Nov. 16-22 demic, Market Noel marketing chairwoman • COST: $15 general admission Claire Vaughn said. ticket; $55 preview ticket. Market Noel merchandise includes toys, • WEB: marketnoel.net games, baby items, crafts, pet products, books, jewelry and accessories, home décor, food and apparel for men, women and children. Some of it is Christmas-oriented, but more than 75% by community groups. of the merchandise is not, Vaughn said. She A $150 “Jingle and Flamingle Fiesta Pack” expects about 50 vendors this year. includes items needed for a Nov. 20 Mexican A $15 general admission ticket gains access dinner for six at home, a cocktail kit, party to the shopping portal Nov. 17-22. A $55 pre- decor and a chance to win a “night on the view ticket allows early access, starting at 8 town” donated by businesses. A “Brunch with the Big Guy” ticket costs a.m. Nov. 16, plus access to a virtual “preview party” at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 that includes $100 and includes a Nov. 21 pickup brunch live entertainment and drawings for jewelry and activities for two adults and two children. from Diamonds Direct and cigars. The first Tickets for additional children are $20. “The Elf Made Me Do It” seven-day kits are 300 people to buy preview tickets get a swag bag and bottle of wine with their weeklong available for $50 through Nov. 1 and $75 Nov. 2-20. Twenty-four day kits are $125 through shopping ticket. On Nov. 19, shoppers can experience a Nov. 1 and $150 Nov. 2-20. For tickets and more information, go to virtual “JLB Loves Birmingham” event that includes online entertainment performances marketnoel.net.

Between 700 to 800 people showed up for the Alabama Walk to End Epilepsy at Railroad Park in Birmingham in November 2019. The 2020 walk will be virtual. Photo by Jon Anderson.

2020 Walk to End Epilepsy goes virtual due to COVID-19 By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE  The Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama will be hosting its statewide Virtual Walk to End Epilepsy on Nov. 7 at 9:30 a.m. via Zoom. The event, originally planned to be at Railroad Park, was moved to a virtual format due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Following the Zoom presentation, registrants are encouraged to walk in support of the Epilepsy Foundation in their own neighborhood, on their treadmill, or wherever they choose. The nationwide Virtual Walk to End Epilepsy events empower the local community to affect change through care, advocacy, research and education.  “We are excited to once again bring our Birmingham Walk to End Epilepsy, even if it’s virtual, to those throughout the state of Alabama in order further engage and mobilize the community to be part of the fight to End Epilepsy,” said Sara Franklin, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation Alabama. “Even

Walk to End Epilepsy • WHERE: Virtual, participants choose their location • WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 7 • COST: No registration fee; participants raise money • WEB: walktoendepilepsy.org /birmingham

though the event is online, it strengthens our current efforts and generates funding to help families affected by epilepsy and seizures in our local community.”   The Walk to End Epilepsy-Birmingham is expected to raise more than $50,000 to help the more than 54,000 people in Alabama living with epilepsy and seizures. To sign up or for more information about the event, visitwalkto endepilepsy.org/Birmingham.

B20 • November 2020

280 Living

Alabama Out of the Darkness Walk goes virtual this month By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE While the Alabama Out of the Darkness Walk is going to look different this year, the mission remains the same: to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. The 2020 event will take place at 2 p.m. Nov. 8 as an online ceremony/program. Last year, Birmingham was one of 424 walks throughout the county in which more than 350,000 walkers participated. Marissa Grayson is chair of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Alabama chapter. She lost her father to suicide in 2005 and has been participating in the Out of the Darkness Walk since 2008. She said she initially started walking in memory of her dad, but has since watched other friends and family members struggle. Now, she said, “I walk for much more than just my dad.” Grayson said one of the nice things about moving the event online is that it will be one event for the entire state. There are typically seven different community walks throughout Alabama, and this year they will all come together for one big Alabama chapter experience. “We are trying to make sure we are serving the community,” Grayson said. “We still want there to be a component to encourage people to go out and walk and do something meaningful that would be good for their mental health.” Grayson said there will still be some of the things that people have appreciated in the past, including an honor beads ceremony and the focus on a message of hope while providing support for suicide loss survivors. With National Suicide Prevention Week taking place in September, Grayson said several small events leading up to the experience were still planned so people could be engaged. “One of things we know about suicide is when people don’t feel connected, that can be problematic, and one of important factors is for them to have that connection,” she said. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death

Hundreds gathered at Veterans Park for the 2019 Out of the Darkness Walk to fight suicide and spread awareness for mental health, while benefiting the Alabama Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Photo by Erin Nelson.

in the United States. A person dies by suicide once every 12.8 minutes in the United States, and every day, approximately 129 Americans take their own life. The best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis and treatment of depression and other mental health conditions. Registration is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 31. This year’s goal is to raise $175,000. Those who would like to participate are encouraged to

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register at afsp.org/birmingham. Teams can also be formed. Anyone who raises $150 or more will receive a T-shirt. “When the AFSP family comes together, people who understand the loss of suicide are reminded they are not alone,” Grayson said. “The slogan is together to fight suicide, and that really is what brings people back year after year. We are hoping not just to replicate that, but find ways to connect people across the state and enlarge the ASPC family.”

Alabama Out of the Darkness Walk • WHERE: Virtual program/event • WHEN: 2 p.m. Nov. 8 • COST: Free; donations accepted until Dec. 31. • WEB: afsp.org/birmingham

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November 2020 • B21

Featured Artist: Kimberly Paige

2020 SPONSORS: Alabama State Council on the Arts & the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency • Joe Piper • City of Hoover • Publix Super Markets Charities • Event Rentals Unlimited • Pursell Farms Resort • Coca Cola United • Bare Naked Noodles • Whole Foods Market MEDIA SPONSORS: Babypalooza • Bell Media • Beyond the Rock • Bham Now • Birmingham Mountain Radio 107.3fm • B-Metro • EXCURSIONSgo.com • Hoover’s Magazine • Over the Mountain Journal • Starnes Media


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B22 • November 2020

THE SHOW MUST GO ON Despite COVID-19, local bands were still able to participate during football games. Whether being spaced out during rehearsals, or wearing masks when not playing, they still provided entertainment in the stands and on the field during halftime. Here are photos of Briarwood, Oak Mountain and Chelsea bands.

Photos by Erin Nelson. Oak Mountain photos courtesy of Dr. Travis Bender.

280 Living


November 2020 • B23

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B24 • November 2020

280 Living

Above: Terrence McIntosh of Orlando rides a unicycle made with a car tire, as Jim Sowers records a video Oct. 16 at Oak Mountain State Park during the eighth annual STOMP MuniFest, a mountain unicycle festival with participants from 10 different states. Right: Tate Robinson, 10, of Nettles Island, Florida, rides a giraffe unicycle. Below: Joey Straka, 15, of Suwanee, Georgia, rides a unicycle. Photos by Erin Nelson.

SNAPSHOTS STOMP MuniFest at Oak Mountain State Park

Clockwise, from above: Alex Straka of Suwanee, Georgia, rides a big wheel unicycle. Zach Medina of Memphis, Tennessee, rides a red and yellow unicycle. Freeman Blancq, 11, rides a circus bike. Dozens of unicycles, from basic build to complex, lie scattered in a field.


November 2020 • B25

B26 • November 2020

280 Living


Mathnasium of Mountain Brook helps kids study during pandemic By JESSE CHAMBERS As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many parents are forced to balance their jobs and other duties with the need to oversee their children’s distance or virtual learning. “As parents, we know how difficult it is to try to work while trying to make sure our children Brought to are focusing on online you by our classes,” said Tracey sister paper: Guidry, center director of Mathnasium of Mountain Brook. “They’re already villageliving worried about getting to online.com work and keeping their families safe as possible, so the added pressure of teaching their kids is overwhelming for a lot of parents,” she said. But now Mathnasium, in Mountain Brook and around the United States, is offering a new service to parents and students during the pandemic. Mathnasium of Mountain Brook is hosting daily sessions called “Prime Study Space” to provide families a safe, comfortable space for children to study and work on assignments. Background-checked facilitators keep students ages 6 and older on task in all subjects, giving parents some much needed help. Prime Study Space offers internet access and a private desk with a power outlet for each child. The program “provides a safe environment staffed by trained facilitators whose only focus is to keep students on task in all subject areas, and not just math,” Guidry said.

A student takes advantage of the space at Mathnasium of Mountain Brook to study during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mathnasium, a national chain of learning centers, is offering a new service to parents and students called “Prime Study Space.” In daily sessions, children who are doing distance learning are given a safe, comfortable space to study and work on assignments. Photo courtesy of Mathnasium.

“If there is another subject, we can jump in and help,” she said. Mathnasium of Mountain Brook, which opened in 2018, is part of a franchise operation with over 1,000 learning centers worldwide. Teaching kids focus and time management is important to both parents and students, Guidry said. “In school they have to be in a certain class at

MT L aur e l

a certain time, and the other students are going with them,” she said. “But online, there is no bell ringing. We have to keep them on task.” “Even for the older kids at home there is a lack of focus and a lack of time management,” Guidry said. Due to COVID-19, Mathnasium of Mountain Brook continues to follow strict social distancing and disinfecting protocols, including mask

and temperature checks. “We are being very respectful of CDC guidelines and making sure we don’t have too many kids,” Guidry said. The facilitator-to-student ratio is 1:7 or better and space is limited. At the beginning of the pandemic in midMarch, the center was forced to close, but the staff was primed to make a nearly seamless transition to virtual learning, Guidry said. “We went immediately online because we already had Mathnasium at Home,” she said. The center reopened about two months ago, she said. The children benefit from Prime Study Space at least in part due to the “laid-back, comfortable environment” at the center, Guidry said. “I am very careful about the instructors I hire,” she said. “They must have mathematical ability, but what they lack in math I can teach them, but the personality I cannot teach. They are very warm, very personable. They try to make it as enjoyable as possible.” The students also have a tutor in the room with them, unlike an online environment. “This gives them the opportunity to ask a person to take the time to work with them on their answers,” Guidry said. Prime Study Space morning sessions run for four hours each weekday, from 8 a.m. to noon. Afternoon sessions are held from noon-3 p.m. Regular Mathnasium students come into the center from 3-7 p.m. Mathnasium of Mountain Brook is located at 2737 U.S. 280, Suite 141A. For more information, call 205-437-1111 or go to mathnasium.com/mountainbrook.

Your Health and Safety Are Our

Biggest Concerns

We Are Open and Available To

Serve Our Patients

All of us at ENT Associates of Alabama, P.C. are extremely grateful to our patients for their loyalty and patience during this crisis, and we are working hard to be available to you. As always, the health and safety of our staff, our patients and their families are our top priority.

Great Gameday Food for Dine-In & Takeout Tuesday - Thursday 4 p.m. - 9 p.m Friday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.


All patients are required to wear a mask for their appointment and while in our lobby. During these difficult times, it is even more critical that those in need of healthcare services have access to treatment, while practicing social distancing and exposing them as little as possible to any potential infections. In order to continue serving our patients and be considerate of their safety, we are temporarily limiting our appointment hours during this crisis. Please call our office or visit our website for specific office hours at each of our locations. Birmingham - Princeton - Hoover - Cullman - Gardendale - Alabaster - Jasper - Pell City - Trussville

www.entalabama.com or call toll free 888-368-5020


November 2020 • B27


Passing the baton: Former Vestavia resident authors book on Christian faith Jill Shamblin stands beside her husband George Shamblin, a Christian author, as he holds his first book, “The Relay,” in the backyard of their home Oct. 5. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By NEAL EMBRY There’s a popular saying about the Christian life, George Shamblin said. “Christianity isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.” As popular as that saying might be, Shamblin said it isn’t the most accurate or biblical description of the Christian faith, as Brought to Christianity is about you by our more than just a “solo sister paper: race.” “We have to pass the faith forward,” Shamblin said. vestavia The Christian life voice.com is more like a relay, Shamblin said, and believers must pass their faith on to others as they “run their race.” “The Relay” is the title of Shamblin’s new book, published by Birmingham-based Union Hill Publishing. The book focuses on teaching Christians how to share their faith with others and the importance of passing the faith on as Christians continue to follow Jesus. Shamblin, who works for The Center for Executive Leadership, based in Homewood, said he took about five years to write the book and called the process a “roller coaster ride.” “I did not know the roller coaster would last five years,” Shamblin said. “It was hard.” Shamblin said he hopes the book empowers and excites people and gives them the tools they need to help them get started in evangelism. The book is filled with anecdotal stories and stories from the Bible aimed to encourage readers, Shamblin said. Shamblin, 52, said the book became personal to him when he started meeting with a group of 10 men eager to share their faith. “We’re excited to be sharing our faith,” he said. Shamblin said the group is holding each

other accountable, encouraging one another to share their faith with others. “I’ve never seen 10 guys do more ‘in-thetrenches’ evangelism,” Shamblin said. “I’ve never had more fun.” The group meets weekly for Bible study and pushes each other to share their faith with someone they do not know every week, or, as Shamblin put it, to “get off the ropes.” Shamblin said the group has shared stories of sharing their faith at retail stores, with people they encounter in their daily life, and, for Shamblin, with strangers at the beach.

While on a family trip, Shamblin said he encountered some people who were listening to some not-so-family friendly music, and God pushed him to strike up a conversation with them about Christianity. Shamblin walked over to them, offered them a Barbie raft his family didn’t need and asked them if he could share his faith with them. It was a positive response, Shamblin said, and the strangers were grateful for him. Shamblin said if he doesn’t put the book into practice himself, it’s “all for naught.” The 10 guys in the group have been

“shocked” at how people receive them as they share their faith, encouraging them to do it more often, Shamblin said He and his family lived in Vestavia Hills for 14 years, and all four of his children graduated from Vestavia Hills High School. The family moved to Hoover six months ago, but Shamblin’s wife, Jill, still works as the receptionist at Vestavia Hills Elementary West. “It’s been so cool for our family to be here,” Shamblin said. Shamblin’s book can be found on Amazon or on his website, georgeshamblin.com.

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B28 • November 2020

280 Living



Runners at the Vulcan Run 10K race in 2019 finish at Sloss Furnaces. The Vulcan Run 10K will be held in Homewood this year. Photo courtesy of MRuns.

Vulcan Run 10K moves to Homewood By INGRID SCHNADER The Vulcan Run 10K is back in its 46th year, this time with some changes. The race, which is hosted by the Birmingham Track Club, has in the past started and finished within Birmingham city limits. With new restrictions in Birmingham because of the COVIDBrought to 19 pandemic, though, you by our the race will start and sister paper: finish in Homewood. This is the first time in race history that the race didn’t go through Birthehomewood mingham, said Hunter star.com Bridwell, president of BTC. “The Vulcan Run 10K is an iconic Birmingham race,” he said. “But we feel like it’s important to give people an opportunity to run a race in person while doing so safely. It’s important to show that can be done.” Runners will be asked to wear a mask and social distance before and after the run. The race starts at 8 a.m., but runners will have staggered starts to avoid having a cluster of runners

Vulcan Run 10K • WHERE: Starts and finishes near Macy’s parking lot at Brookwood Village • WHEN: Nov. 7 at 8 a.m. with staggered start times • DETAILS: Race costs $50 before Nov. 5 and $60 after. Runners will be asked to wear masks and social distance. • WEB: birminghamtrackclub.com

at the start line. The race will begin near the Macy’s parking lot at The Brookwood Village. Runners will run on the Lakeshore Drive roadway and on the Shades Creek Greenway trail. They will loop back to the Brookwood Village for a total of 6.2 miles. The Vulcan Run 10K costs $50 plus a $3 registration fee. After Nov. 5, the price increases to $60. Visit birminghamtrackclub.com for more information.

Thanks to the renovations underway at Legacy Arena at the BJCC, the NCAA will bring a piece of March Madness back to the Magic City in 2023. Rendering courtesy of BJCC.

NCAA tourney to return to Birmingham, revamped Legacy Arena in 2023 By JESSE CHAMBERS

and entertainment events.” Improvements at Legacy Arena Birmingham will host the first focus on fan comfort, such as preand second round of the NCAA mium seating, improved food and Tournament for Division I men’s beverage, as well as new team basketball in 2023 and the Diviand artist areas and operational sion I women’s basketball southimprovements, said Tad Snider, ern regional in 2025 at the newly executive director and CEO of the ironcity.ink renovated Legacy Arena at the BJCC Authority. BJCC. “Fans will watch the games The announcement by the from upgraded seats, modern hosNCAA on Oct. 14 means that the NCAA pitality suites, and club areas with views to the men’s tournament will be back in Birming- event floor and the teams will enjoy locker ham for the first time since 2008. and coaches rooms on par with any other It will be the first time ever for the women’s venue in the country,” Snider said. tournament to come to Birmingham. The BJCC’s Legacy Arena closed in April “For too long, we’ve had to watch other for a $123 million renovation and expansion. Southeastern cities host the men’s and wom- It is expected to reopen in 2022. en’s Division I tournaments,” Birmingham Landing the tournaments was a collaboMayor Randall L. Woodfin said in a city news rative effort by the city, the BJCC, Greater release. “With the renovation and expansion of Birmingham Convention and Visitors the BJCC, we are firmly back in the game and Bureau, Knight Eady and the Southeastern committed to competing for top tier sporting Conference. Brought to you by our sister paper:


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November 2020 • B29

Faith Life Actually By Kari Kampakis

The lesson of 2020: Learning to let go of plans “Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21 My husband still teases me about my huge wedding notebook from 23 years ago. I’m a planner, you see, and during our engagement I kicked into overdrive. I organized every detail, and as my wedding notebook thickened, my husband began to search for the biggest three-ring binder possible. He found one at Office Depot — a notebook so large that it cost $25 and grew insanely heavy as I filled it with plans inside. It sounds ridiculous, but truthfully, being a planner has served me well. It served all of us well in the past, especially here in America — the land of overachievers — where planning enables success. Planning lets us juggle 10,000 demands. It makes our homes and lives run smoother. It gives us a track to run on — and offers a false sense of control. Because as 2020 has proven, our plans can be ripped out from under us. Our plans are subject to God’s will and timing. Even the best laid tracks don’t guarantee success. Life is far more unpredictable than we like to believe.

It is unsettling, isn’t it? We have countless decisions to make, yet we can’t even plan on a normal school year or a simple trip to the store. We can’t look beyond next week. We feel stuck, worried and scared. Even if we acclimate to uncertainty and brace for more change, we can still have a pit in our stomach that comes from not knowing what curve ball might be next. Will the pandemic get worse? Will my family stay healthy? Are we destined for doom and gloom as the media predicts? Will the hostility and hatred compound after the presidential election? The gravity of the unknown is overwhelming. And thankfully, we have God and the unshakeable hope of Christ. Deuteronomy 31:8 says: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” There is no plan or road map to navigate the challenges we currently face, but we can be sure that God is with us. He isn’t surprised or caught off-guard. He has a plan for humanity and each one of us — a plan that can’t be thwarted by even the strangest twist of events.

As a planner I am learning to make fewer plans. I add a “God willing” to the plans I do make. I’ve been humbled into a state of surrender and trusting God to work out the details. I’m finding peace in the security of Christ. It feels odd, yet relieving. I have more energy to enjoy the present because I’m not consumed by plans for the future. I feel lighter without the burden of assuming it all depends on me. I’ve seen God at work in me and my family, and so much bonding that has come from our extra time together. At the same time, I crave normalcy. I wish my high school senior daughter could have a traditional senior year. I want all the milestones for her, yet disappointments are likely. There may be heartache and tears, yet my plan is to celebrate her no matter what the school year brings. This is her last year at home, and rather than waste it being angry and sad, I want to enjoy her and finish strong. Thankfully, Jesus can bring us peace even in chaotic times. He tells us in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” His peace transcends all understanding. It brings comfort when there is no plan.

My wedding day notebook symbolized my need to control. It was physically heavy, but more often, it’s the plans we build in our mind that are mentally and emotionally heavy. They snowball into expectations of what we think our lives should look like. Sometimes the healthiest choice is to set our plans aside and open our hands to God’s present grace. He gives us what we need, and as we rest and trust in that, as we give thanks for our blessings today, we find a peace that transpires all circumstances. We discover an intimacy with God that isn’t subject to change regardless of what the future brings. Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a Birmingham area mom of four girls, author, speaker and blogger. Her new book for moms, “Love Her Well: 10 Ways To Find Joy And Connection With Your Teenage Daughter,” is now available on Amazon, Audible and everywhere books are sold. Kari’s two books for teen and tween girls — “Liked” and “10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know” — have been used widely across the country for small group studies. Join Kari on Facebook and Instagram, visit her blog at karikampakis.com or contact her at kari@karikampakis.com.

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B30 • November 2020

280 Living


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November 2020 • B31

Calendar 280 Area Events

Nov. 7: Walk to End Epilepsy. Virtual, participants choose own location. No registration fee; participants raise money. walktoendepilepsy.org/birmingham.

office parking lot. $5 per person; $2 for seniors; park admission fee. For information, contact Randall Adkins at 205-317-6969.

Nov. 8: Southeastern Outings Second Sunday Dayhike. Oak Mountain State Park. Enjoy a moderate 4-mile walk in the woodlands near Birmingham. Meet at 1:45 p.m. in the Oak Mountain Park

Nov. 8: Alabama Out of the Darkness Walk. 2 p.m. Virtual program/event. Free, but donations are appreciated and accepted until Dec. 31. afsp. org/birmingham.



Through Nov. 30: Armchair Adventures Reading Challenge. Readers of all ages are invited to participate in our fall reading challenge. Register at shelbycounty.beanstack.org/reader365 to earn chances to win monthly prizes. Teens/adults will log books; children will log minutes.

Daily: Activity Bundles. Available for checkout through our curbside service. Each Activity Bundle comes with a themed picture book to check out and a free Activity Bundle to keep with eight fun worksheets to promote literacy skills for children in preschool, kindergarten and first grade. Email nscurbside@shelbycounty-al.org to request a bundle for check out. Themes change each month.

Through Nov. 30: Autumn Family Geocaching Scavenger Hunt. Families will use a GPS along with pictures and written clues to find leaves at a local outdoor location. Registered teams of one-to-six family members with adult supervision required. Register through northshelbylibrary.org or call Children’s Services. Registration required. Nov. 2-20: Second annual Holiday Ornament Craft – Take and Make (and Return!). Help make ornaments for the North Shelby Tree, and keep one for yourself. Each kit will have enough stuff to make one ornament for the library’s tree and one to keep for home. Nov. 9: Family Fandom Trivia – Jumanji. 11 a.m. Compete in Jumanji trivia via Kahoot. Questions will be taken from the book, the 1995 film and the 2017 film. Designate one family member to select answers on your device while the whole family guesses. The top winners will receive either a DVD or Blu-ray of “Jumanji: The Next Level.” Include an email address at registration so we can send a game link. Nov. 19: Virtual Family Storytime. 10:30 a.m. Subscribe to the library’s YouTube channel to see the next storytime or view previous ones.

Tuesdays: Weekly Craft Kits-to-Go. 10 a.m. A new craft kit is available each Tuesday for pick up through our curbside service. You will have one week to pick up your kit. While supplies last. All ages with adult assistance. Registration required. Please note: Kits may have small pieces. Please register using our online calendar at northshelby county.org or call 439-5504 each Tuesday starting at 10 a.m.

Nov. 19: Virtual Family Storytime. 10:30 a.m. Subscribe to the library’s YouTube channel to see the next storytime or view previous ones. All ages. No registration. CHILDREN’S PROGRAMS Nov. 2-6: Kids Vote. Some of our favorite children’s book characters are running for president. Come by the library to check out all the candidates and vote for your favorite. We will pick one ballot at random to receive a gift card. All

Nov. 16-22: Junior League of Birmingham’s Market Noel. Virtual event. $15 general admission ticket; $55 “preview” ticket. marketnoel.net

The library will be closed Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving.

using origami puppets. Registration required. Nov. 12: Tween Writing Club with Ms. Emma. 4 p.m. Join YA fantasy author Emma Fox for a new virtual writing club just for tweens. Registrants will receive a link to the Zoom meeting a couple hours before the event. Registration required. For ages 8-12. Nov. 18: K-5th Homeschool Hangout. 1 p.m. Join Ms. Victoria for a virtual class via Zoom and learn introductory American Sign Language. Registration required. Nov. 18: K-5th Homeschool Art Club. 2:30 p.m. Join Ms. Kaitlyn to learn how to make string art. Registration required. Nov. 19: Tween Minecrafternoon. 4 p.m. Join other tweens virtually on the library’s Minecraft Realm. Registration required. For ages 8-12.

Nov. 9: Teen Take-Home Craft Kit. Sculpt a key chain for this month’s craft. Sign up to get a kit by registering for the event listed on Nov. 30 at northshelbylibrary.evanced.info/signup/calendar. Nov. 9: Among Us. 6 p.m. Are you an imposter or a crewmate? Play via Zoom to find out. Among Us can be gotten as a free app from the Apple and Android app stores. Registration required. Nov. 10: 3D Printing Class. 5 p.m. Sixth through 12th graders can join one of our online classes to create a 3D project the library will print for you. Registration required. Nov. 18: Teen Homeschool Hangout. 1 p.m. Join Ms. Victoria for a virtual class via Zoom and learn introductory American Sign Language. Registration required. Nov. 18: Teen Homeschool Art Club. 2:30 p.m. Join Ms. Kaitlyn to learn how to make string art. Registration required.

Nov. 2-20: Book Character Election. Stop by the Children’s Department and cast your vote! If you do not wish to enter the library during this time, email nschildrenslibrarian@shelbycounty -al.org to cast your vote virtually. One ballot at random to receive a small gift card prize.

Wednesdays: Minecrafternoons. 4 p.m. Join other sixth through 12th graders on the library’s Minecraft Realm. Register using our online calendar at northshelbylibrary.evanced.info/signup/calendar.

Nov. 19: Teen Hangout. 6 p.m. Connect with other teens via Zoom. This month’s suggested topic: best and worst Thanksgiving dishes. Register using the online calendar at northshelbylibrary.evanced. info/signup/calendar to get the link.

Nov. 3 and 17: Bi-Monthly STEM Kit-toGo. 10 a.m. STEM-to-go at the library. Twice a month, there will be a new STEM kit available for pick up through our curbside service. Registration required.

Nov. 2 and 16: Dungeons and Dragons. 6 p.m. Bring your imagination to our monthly Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Register at northshelbylibrary.evanced.info/signup/calendar.

Nov. 23: Nailed It! Home Edition. 6 p.m. Sixth through 12th graders will try to recreate fancy fall-themed desserts in a short amount of time. Some supplies provided. Registration required.

Nov. 10: Puppet Play – Origami Puppets (video plus kit-to-go). 2 p.m. Subscribe to the library’s YouTube channel and watch a short puppet show of “The Lion and the Mouse”

Nov. 5: Jackbox Online Gaming. 6 p.m. Play party games with other sixth through 12th graders online. See the game choices and register at northshelbylibrary.evanced.info/signup/calendar.

Nov. 24: Teen Trivia. 4 p.m. Test your knowledge against other teens. Top scorer wins a local business gift card! Games will be played via Kahoot. Registration required.

Mt Laurel Library Through Nov. 30: Armchair Adventures Reading Challenge. Readers of all ages are invited to participate in our fall reading challenge. Register at shelbycounty.beanstack.org/reader365 to earn chances to win monthly prizes. Teens/adults will log books; children will log minutes.

Nov. 14: 11th annual Kampfire for the King. 8:30 a.m. King’s Home campus in Chelsea. $40 for cornhole tournament; $100 donation to enter boat giveaway. kingshome.com/kampfire.


The library will be closed Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving.

ages. No registration. Nov. 10: Puppet Play – Origami Puppets (video plus kit-to-go). 2 p.m. Subscribe to the library’s YouTube channel and watch a short puppet show of “The Lion and the Mouse” featuring origami puppets. Registration required. Nov. 14: Crafty Saturday. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Drop in to pick up a craft at the library. All ages with parents’ help. Nov. 16: Hedgie Craft. Pick up an adorable hedgehog craft kit at the library. Kit will include supplies and instructions. Registration required. Tween Program (8-12 years old) Nov. 4: Tween Dog Man Bingo. 4 p.m.

Play Dog Man Bingo over Zoom. Registration required. Nov. 19: Tween Nailed It. 4 p.m. Tweens will pick up a kit from the library with some items they can use to decorate. Each tween will need two plain cupcakes, any flavor. Registration required. ADULT PROGRAMS Nov. 5: Mt Laurel Book Club. 7 p.m. The Book Club will meet over zoom to discuss “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See. Registration required. Nov. 12: Fall Jar Craft. Patrons can pick up an adorable fall jar craft kit. Kit will include instructions and everything you need. Registration required.

Chelsea Public Library Thursdays: Tot Spot Virtual Program on Facebook. 10:30 a.m. Nov. 9: Dinner and Book – Middle Grade book club live and via Zoom. 5 p.m. Discussing “A Night Divided” by Jennifer Nielsen. Nov. 10: Music and Books – K5 through fifth grade. 5:30 p.m. Class will center around gratitude and thanksgiving. Music is a great way to celebrate what we are grateful for. Instruments, games, crafts and more. Nov. 14: Friends of the Library Patio Book Sale. 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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280 Living November 2020  

280 Living November 2020  

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