Hoover Sun December 2021

Page 1


A New Home



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SAVING BROCK’S GAP Developer thinks historic railbed can be mostly preserved

Two by Two Rescue group that helps find homes for unwanted, abused and abandoned animals soon will have a home for itself.

See page A19

‘My Happy Place’

Jonathan Belcher at the historic Brock’s Gap cut between South Shades Crest Road and Stadium Trace Parkway. Photo by Erin Nelson. Hoover teen Arden Campbell finds her passion in martial arts, makes the USA Jr. Olympic Karate Team.

See page B4

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developer whose company owns a 150-year-old historic railbed said he believes it’s possible for the city of Hoover to build a new proposed 4-mile parkway in western Hoover without destroying the bulk of the historic site.

But, there are still some unknown factors that will help determine whether the parkway ever gets built, where it could be built and how it would impact the historical site, Signature Homes President Jonathan Belcher said. The site in question is a former railbed known as the Brock’s Gap cut that stretches about a mile between the entrance to the Blackridge subdivision on Stadium Trace Parkway and a point just

north of South Shades Crest Road. The Brock’s Gap cut runs through Shades Mountain, Pine Mountain and Chestnut Ridge and was completed in November 1871, making way for the final stretch of railroad that led to the incorporation of Birmingham a month later. It allowed trains to get through the mountains

See BROCK’S GAP | page A24

Jeremy Clark returns to Brookwood as new CEO By NEAL EMBRY Seventeen years after he first began his career at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, Jeremy Clark has returned home. Clark, a Birmingham native, is the new CEO of both the medical center and Brookwood Baptist Health, which oversees the hospital in Homewood along with Citizens Baptist Medical Center

(Talladega), Princeton Baptist Medical Center (Birmingham), Shelby Baptist Medical Center (Alabaster), Walker Baptist Medical Center (Jasper), stand-alone emergency department in Tattersall Park (Hoover) and medical office building off Preserve Parkway (Hoover). Getting the phone call from the board

See BROOKWOOD | page A26

Jeremy Clark, the new CEO of the Brookwood Baptist Health system and Brookwood Baptist Medical Center. Photo by Erin Nelson.

A2 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

ALL SEASON LONG. Drive through our neighborhood with friends and family this holiday season and enjoy our festive holiday lights!

scan me to learn more about our community




December 2021 • A3

A4 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

About Us Editor’s Note By Jon Anderson Can you believe it? December is already upon us, and Christmas will be here before you know it. I’m not a big fan of winter. I much prefer the warmer summer months, but I do love Christmas. While Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of Christ, I still can appreciate some of the magic that comes along with Santa Claus, Rudolph and the gang. And I can remember taking time as a kid to make out my annual Christmas list. At least a couple of times, I went kind of overboard and pulled out the Sears catalog and wrote down anything and everything that piqued my interest. This probably didn’t help Santa and Mrs. Claus too much, but you never know. I wanted to give options. Now, as an adult, my family members still ask for a list of things I’d like for Christmas. I try to oblige, but I often find it difficult to come up with

things to put on it and frequently don’t put one together until Christmas is fast approaching. You may remember a song called “Grown-up Christmas List.” It first was written by David Foster and Linda Thompson and performed by Natalie Cole in 1990, then later recorded by other artists, including Amy Grant, Michael Bublé and Kelly Clarkson.

It’s a great song that talks about a desire for “no more lives torn apart, that wars would never start, and time would heal all hearts, and everyone would have a friend, and right would always win, and love would never end.” Yes, it’s idealistic, but I like where it’s going. This year, as you put together your Christmas list (or Hanukkah list or just a list of dreams for the new year ahead), take a little time and think about some of the more important things we should be seeking — as individuals, couples, families, communities, a city, state, nation and world. You don’t really need the Sears catalog for that.


Hoover’s Jack Watts competes in the boys 50-yard freestyle Nov. 9 during the Central Alabama Invitational hosted by Vestavia Hills High School at the Birmingham CrossPlex. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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Sun is designed to inform the Hoover community of area school, family and community events. Information in Hoover Sun is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of Hoover Sun. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email.

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December 2021 • A5

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A6 • December 2021

Hoover Sun


Council to consider 154 apartments in Trace Crossings By JON ANDERSON The Hoover City Council plans to consider a plan for 154 “active adult” apartments and 10 single-family cottages across from Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Dec. 20 Signature Homes wants to put the apartments and cottages on property that previously was considered for a hotel, right next to Discovery United Methodist Church and 118 single-family homes previously approved that will be known as Knox Square. Developer Jonathan Belcher, president of Signature Homes, said residents in the nearby Chestnut Ridge community repeatedly asked him to put something on the property other than a hotel, and he promised them he would seek another alternative. The company has had success with its single-family home communities restricted to residents age 55 and older and wants to offer a rental option for people in that age range as well. He envisions about two-thirds of the apartments having two bedrooms, while the other third would have one bedroom. The typical size should be 850 to 1,200 square feet, and he anticipates rent would be $1,800 to $2,400 a month, he said. The proposed name is Knox Square Apartments. He considers it a viable option for people who don’t want to pay $400,000 to $500,000 to get into a three-bedroom home in a 55+ community such as Abingdon by the River, he said. His plans include a 10,000-square-foot amenity building with multipurpose rooms and a fitness center, a pool and outdoor grilling and activity areas, he said. The complex would be an independent living center, with no central food service or medical or nursing

This map shows the proposed location of 154 “active adult” apartments in the Trace Crossings community, directly across Stadium Trace Parkway from Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The proposal by Signature Homes also includes 10 single-family cottages. Signature Homes already has received approval for 118 single-family homes, at top, next to this area as well. Map courtesy of Environmental Design Studio.

services, according to Signature Homes’ zoning application. The $40 million apartment complex should generate about $180,000 a year in property taxes, Belcher said. Numerous residents of the Abingdon community, another 55-plus community right next to the Knox Square development, objected to the idea of putting apartments there during a Nov. 8 meeting of the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission. Some said they feared it would decrease their property values and add more traffic to what

they consider to be an already crowded Stadium Trace Parkway. “If it continues, there’s going to be a lot of homes on the market in Abingdon,” resident Delia Kell said. “People are going to want to leave.” Resident John Nelson said it seems like people keep trying “to put more and more stuff in that very charming and nice, little area.” Abingdon resident Jim Baxley said no one ever mentioned apartments when they were selling people lots in Abingdon, and apartments don’t fit in with the other communities being

built in Trace Crossings. He has seen apartments on Lorna Road go down and fears the same thing might happen with these, he said. “We don’t want it.” Mary Saggus, a resident of the Chestnut Ridge community, questioned why Signature Homes doesn’t build condominiums instead of apartments. Hoover got a black eye from building so many apartment complexes years ago, she said. Belcher said the apartment complex his company is proposing should not negatively impact the school system because of the age restrictions. At least one resident must be 55 years old or older, and no person younger than 19 could live there more than 60 days. Also, an apartment complex would be one of the lowest traffic generators of anything allowed under the current “planned commercial” zoning, Belcher said. Zoning board President Mike Wood said residents should be careful what they want the city to turn down because “you could end up with something much worse.” Signature Homes could put up a hotel or other commercial development that could generate more traffic than apartments, Wood said. Hoover Councilman Mike Shaw, the council’s representative on the zoning board, said the proposal being put forth by Signature Homes really is an opportunity to put the hotel question to rest. He also believes the 55+ apartment complex fits the character of other nearby 55+ single-family housing developments, he said. The zoning board voted unanimously in favor of Signature Homes’ request, and now the matter goes to the Hoover City Council for final consideration. Zoning Clerk Vanessa Bradstreet said the public hearing with the City Council likely would be set for Dec. 20.


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December 2021 • A7

Mayor’s Minute

By Frank V. Brocato back door service. As I write this letter to you, two months have passed As with any major transince our city experienced a sition, there is sure to be a rain storm unlike any we’ve period of growing pains. seen in decades. Amwaste began its service The heavy waters damwith us Oct. 1. Five days aged hundreds of homes and later, we had a major storm roughly two dozen public that compounded their efforts to serve a new city. buildings throughout the entire city. My staff has met with Within days after the Amwaste officials, and they flooding event, my staff have been responsive to our jumped into action, assessconcerns. I want you to know ing damage and completing we are addressing the issues reports in an effort to receive and believe that given a little Frank V. Brocato federal disaster assistance. more time, Amwaste will corOur City Council quickly approved nearly rect the problems. $1 million in emergency repair work for damIn spite of facing a few challenges, there is aged roads and drainage systems. They also still lots of joy to be found this season. One approved over $300,000 that will go toward way you can celebrate it is by attending the hiring five private engineering firms to help Ho Ho Hoover event. This open house and conduct flooding assessments. tree decorating contest will be Sunday, Dec. We are diligently working to address issues, 5, from 2-5 p.m. at the Hoover Randle Home. but it will take time. In an effort to keep the City Tickets are $15, and all proceeds go to benefit Council and public up to date on our progress, Hoover Helps. They can be purchased through we will present a damage report at every City the Aldridge Gardens website. Council meeting. You can find those reports at There are a limited quantity available, so get this link: bit.ly/hvrfloodrpt. your tickets soon! Hope to see you there! Another issue my staff has been addressing is concerns surrounding our new garbage collection company, Amwaste. We’ve gotten many calls from residents about missed pick-ups and


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A8 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

120 townhomes, 3 commercial buildings proposed off U.S. 280 By JON ANDERSON Signature Homes and Terra Equities are asking the city of Hoover to annex 15.5 acres along U.S. 280 to accommodate 120 townhomes and three commercial buildings totaling about 25,000 square feet. The property is at 5352 U.S. 280, directly across from the Walmart Supercenter. It currently is zoned as a general business district in unincorporated Shelby County and includes a pawn shop, which would be torn down to make way for two restaurants and a 12,600-squarefoot commercial building. Just south of the 4.5 acres of commercial space to be developed by Terra Equities, a little further away from U.S. 280, would be the 11 acres for the 120 townhomes, according to plans submitted to the city of Hoover. Signature Homes President Jonathan Belcher told the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission on Nov. 8 that the residential portion of the development is expected to be a $40 million project. He is proposing two-bedroom or three-bedroom townhomes with roughly 1,600 square feet of space each and likely priced in the high $200,000s. He plans to pattern the development after the Edenton Lofts that Signature Homes developed in 2010 off Cahaba Beach Road, he said. None of the townhomes would have garages, but there would be 225 parking spaces for residents, Belcher said. Based on past experience, he would expect one out of every 10 townhomes to include a child for the Hoover school system, he said. The Hoover school system has greater capacity for handling more children on the east side of the city, he said. The commercial portion of the development, to be handled by Terra Equities, is expected to be a $10.3 million project and include 190 parking spaces for the two restaurants and third commercial building, Belcher said. The commercial property should generate an

This map shows the proposed location off U.S. 280 for three commercial buildings and 120 townhomes, in white in the middle on the south side of U.S. 280, directly across from the Walmart Supercenter. Map courtesy of Signature Homes.

estimated total revenues of $16 million to $17 million a year, Belcher said. That would mean $560,000 to $595,000 in annual sales taxes for the city of Hoover, $640,000 to $680,000 in annual sales taxes for the state, $80,000 to $85,000 in annual sales taxes for Shelby County and $80,000 to $85,000 in annual sales taxes to schools in Shelby County. The commercial property also should generate $44,000 to $45,000 a year in property taxes, while the residential property should generate about $66,000 a year in property taxes for the school system, Belcher said. Hoover Councilman Mike Shaw said he knows there are a lot of technology jobs in the

nearby Meadow Brook Corporate Park, and he would like to see places for those workers to live close by, so this type of housing in that location is appealing to him. He would like to see some sort of pedestrian connection between the proposed development and Meadow Brook Corporate Park, he said. Belcher said he has not yet reached out to the property owner in between this property and the corporate park to discuss that, but he would be willing to request that. The property that Signature Homes and Terra Equities want to buy is now owned by Sam’s Real Estate Investment Trust and Sharit Real Estate Holdings. The parties are asking

for zoning for the property first and then to be annexed into Hoover if the zoning application is approved. The traffic study by Skipper Consulting (hired by the developer) determined no significant impact on traffic at the traffic light where this will connect with U.S. 280. The biggest impact was a delay of 4-6 seconds for people turning left onto U.S. 280 from the road that connects to this development. The Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to consider the zoning case Dec. 13. If approved there, it likely would go to the Hoover City Council for consideration Jan. 17.

Holiday closing schedule for public buildings, services By JON ANDERSON

The Hoover Recreation Center is one of multiple public buildings that will alter its hours of operations during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Photo by Jon Anderson.

Public buildings and services around Hoover have a variety of closing schedules for the Christmas and New Year holidays: ► Hoover City Hall and city offices in the Hoover Public Safety Center: Closed Friday, Dec. 24, for Christmas Eve; Monday, Dec. 27, for Christmas Day; Friday, Dec. 31, for New Year’s Eve; and Monday, Jan. 3, for New Year’s Day. ► Hoover Public Library: Closed Dec. 24-27 for Christmas and Dec. 31-Jan. 3 for the New Year holiday. ► Hoover Recreation Center: Open 8 a.m. to noon on Christmas Eve; closed Christmas Day; open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 26; open 8 a.m. to noon New Year’s Eve; closed New Year’s Day.

► Jefferson County offices (including Hoover satellite office): Closed Dec. 23-24 for Christmas and closed New Year’s Eve. ► Shelby County offices (including 280 County Services Building): Closed Christmas Eve and Dec. 27 for Christmas and Dec. 31 and Jan. 3 for the New Year holiday. ► Alabama Department of Revenue Jefferson-Shelby Taxpayer Service Center at Hoover Public Safety Center: Closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. ► Aldridge Gardens: Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. ► Hoover City Schools: Closed to students Dec. 22 through Jan. 3; students return Tuesday, Jan. 4. ► Garbage and recycling: No change in service.


December 2021 • A9

Council appoints young mom to Hoover park board Chad and Lyndsey Baxley and their children, 5-year-old Bowen and 7-monthold Ansley. Lyndsey Baxley was appointed to the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board on Nov. 1. The Baxleys live in the Birchtree community and are active at Shades Mountain Park. Photo courtesy of Katelyn Elaine Photography.

By JON ANDERSON The average tenure among current members of the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board is 10 years. With that comes age and wisdom, Hoover Council President John Lyda said. So he was glad to get a youthful perspective with the recent appointment of Lyndsey Baxley to the park board, he said. It has been a while since the board has had a young mother, Lyda said. The Hoover City Council on Nov. 1 chose Baxley, a mother with two children ages 5 and younger, to fill the spot recently vacated by Steve Townsend at the end of his six-year term Sept. 30. Baxley is an occupational therapist who works with special needs children at Green Valley and Gwin elementary schools. She has been in occupational therapy for almost eight years and has been employed by the Hoover school system for three years. “I’m very excited for this opportunity,” Baxley said of her appointment to the park board. She reached out to Lyda about a year and a half ago and expressed an interest in the park board if a position came open, so she was delighted when she learned there would be a vacancy this year, she said. She grew up with an appreciation for public service and giving back to the community because her father was a Selma police officer, she said. She also greatly appreciates the park and recreation amenities that Hoover has to offer and would like to help make sure they are properly maintained and marketed, she said. Her husband, Chad, is the T-ball commissioner at Shades Mountain Park, and their oldest son, 5-year-old Bowen, has played three seasons there. He also took swim lessons at the Hoover Rec Center

and went through the Hoover Parks and Recreation Department’s Smart Start program, which gives youngsters ages 3-5 a taste of football, basketball, T-ball and soccer. The Baxley’s also have a 7-month-old daughter, Ansley. Chad also has played in the adult softball league at Spain Park since moving to the Birmingham area in 2014, and the family joined the Hoover Recreation Center in 2018. Their family also enjoys visiting the 350-acre Moss Rock Preserve nature park, which is owned by the city. Lyndsey graduated from Central Christian Academy in Selma in 2007 and went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in biology from Huntingdon College in Montgomery in December 2010 and a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in December 2013. She met Chad while they were at Huntingdon, and he moved to the Birmingham area for a job with Alabama Power Co. in 2013. He now works for Spire natural gas company. The couple married in 2013 and bought their first home in Hoover off Tyler Road in 2014. They now live in the Birchtree community and are active members at Green Valley Church, where they work in the nursery. Lyndsey said she’s excited to join the board, get to meet everyone and learn how everything works. “I don’t want to come in like a bull in a china shop and figure I can make a bunch of decisions,” she said. She wants to figure out what her role is supposed to be and go from there, she said. She does think there are a lot of hidden gems in the Hoover Parks and Recreation Department and hopes she can help keep them in good shape and spread the word about them, she said.

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A10 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Hoover Public Library opens ‘mini-branch’ in east Hoover

Hoover Public Library employee Lindsay Crawford leads a children’s storytime at the East 59 Café in The Village at Lee Branch shopping center off U.S. 280 in Hoover on Oct. 26. Photo by Jon Anderson.

By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Public Library recently celebrated the opening of a new remote locker and library program location at the East 59 Café in The Village at Lee Branch shopping center off U.S. 280. People with a Jefferson County library card now can request books, movies and other materials online and have them delivered to a locker inside East 59 Café, which is near the AMC movie theater. When they are done with the items, they can return them to the locker as well, preventing the need for a drive across town to the library. The library also has started having a children’s storytime at East 59 Café every Monday at 10:30 a.m. and plans to have an adult program at East 59 Café at least once a week as well, at varying times, Library Director Amanda Borden said. For several years, library officials have had an interest in opening a branch in eastern Hoover to better serve residents in that area, and Borden said she feels like they are sort of getting a little mini-branch with this. To request a book or other item, people can use their Jefferson County library card to place an item on hold on the Hoover Public Library website, then wait for a notification that it has been delivered to the remote locker. If the book or item is in stock at the library, it could be delivered to the locker within a couple of days, Borden said. If it’s already checked out or must be ordered from another Jefferson

County library, it will take longer, just like any other request to put an item on hold, she said. When library patrons arrive at the locker, they can scan their library card and the locker with their item or items will pop open. The individual lockers hold anywhere from five to 10 items, Borden said. Anyone who lives in the city limits of Hoover can get a Jefferson County library card for free, whether they live in Jefferson County or Shelby County, Borden said. People who live outside Hoover and Jefferson County can purchase a library card for $50. Library staff eventually plan to start offering “grab and go” books at the East 59 Café lockers as well, featuring popular titles in lockers with see-through windows. No reservation will be necessary for those books. However, library staff want to assess the demand for requested items before implementing the “grab and go”

books to make sure they have enough space, Borden said. If necessary, they will add another stack of lockers, she said. The new library lockers at East 59 Café were made possible by a federal grant offered through the Alabama Public Library Service. The project cost about $45,000, with federal money covering 80% of that and the city of Hoover picking up the other 20%, Borden said. Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said this is a great opportunity to serve Hoover residents in the eastern part of the city, as well as others in the north Shelby County region who want to use the “fabulous” Hoover Public Library. “This is really a cool space. It’s a beautiful restaurant,” Brocato said. “I hope that this leads to an actual branch on this side of Hoover.” Brocato praised Borden and her staff for the “phenomenal” job they do nurturing Hoover

residents and making sure they get great service. East 59 Café has a location inside the Hoover Library Plaza at 200 Municipal Drive and opened its newest location in The Village at Lee Branch in October of last year. Amber Tolbert, one of the owners of East 59 Café, said bringing the library services into the Lee Branch location has a lot of meaning for her and others in their family business. When they opened their first location in Birmingham’s Eastlake community, which later closed, part of the whole idea was to help build community, Tolbert said. Even more recently “with the pandemic, people are craving a sense of community — a sense of connecting with others,” Tolbert said. Having library programs, such as children’s storytimes, “Lunch and Learn” sessions for adults, trivia nights or game nights, will help accomplish that.

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December 2021 • A11


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The Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 18 honored the city’s 2021 Public Safety Workers of the Year. From left: Detention Officer of the Year Brian Ashworth; Police Officers of the Year Joran Berry and Trent Dotson; Firefighter of the Year Lt. Jeff Harris; Paramedic of the Year Josh Henson; and 911 Operator of the Year Shea Hess. Photo by Jon Anderson.

Chamber honors top public safety workers for 2021 By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 18 honored six 2021 Public Safety Workers of the Year. The honorees are: ► Police Officers of the Year: Jordan Berry and Trent Dotson ► Firefighter of the Year: Lt. Jeff Harris ► Paramedic of the Year: Josh Henson ► Detention Officer of the Year: Brian Ashworth ► 911 Operator of the Year: Shea Hess


Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis said Berry and Dotson in January responded to a shooting at The Park at Wellington apartment complex in Bluff Park. They arrived on the scene within two minutes of being dispatched, found a man lying behind an apartment building and quickly determined he likely had been shot in the femoral artery and lost a lot of blood, Derzis said. The officers applied a tourniquet to the victim’s thigh to slow the bleeding, and when the man went unconscious, they initiated CPR until medics arrived and took over, the chief said. The man was able to recover and assist in the investigation. “His statement provided the necessary information for investigators to identify and apprehend the responsible assailant by the United States marshals in the state of Georgia,” Derzis said. “Without the immediate life-saving measures taken by these two officers on the scene, this shooting survivor would likely not have survived that night, and the person responsible may never have been taken off the streets.”


Fire Chief Clay Bentley said the firefighter and paramedic awards are not based so much on a single heroic event, but more so on the character, integrity and daily behaviors of the recipients. Harris, who has been with the Fire Department 13 years, is a medic who serves with the Police Department’s special response team and also serves on the Fire Department’s technical rescue team and dive team. He has helped foster good relationships with police, been a good mentor for younger firefighters and helped with emergency plans for Hoover schools. Harris and his crew in December 2020 were one of the first crews to arrive at an early morning apartment fire, and his decisions helped prevent a catastrophic fire from becoming much worse, Bentley said. “His actions

that night saved lives.”


Henson, with the Fire Department five years, is a hard worker who shows compassion and has a fantastic knowledge of emergency medical protocols, Bentley said. He is a highly skilled paramedic, and “if me or my family were sick or injured, I would want Josh to take care of me,” the chief said. During this past year, Henson and his crew responded to an auto accident with multiple patients, including two children in cardiac arrest, Bentley said. “Josh and other crew members immediately began treating the patients under very chaotic and stressful conditions,” the chief said. “His leadership and paramedic skills were exceptional ... The attending physician at UAB wrote a letter commending Josh for a professional job well done.”


In February, Ashworth noticed an inmate in the city jail thrashing around, coughing uncontrollably and in extreme physical distress, Derzis said. He entered the man’s cell, and by that time, the man had stopped breathing and had begun to turn blue, the chief said. Ashworth performed the Heimlich maneuver numerous times, dislodging food from his airway so he could breathe again, Derzis said. Ashworth continued to perform first aid on the inmate, checking his pulse to ensure his airway was completely clear, he said. Ashworth also on numerous occasions has discovered contraband and prevented dangerous substances from entering the jail, Derzis said.


Hess in April helped police officers arrest a suspect who was the subject of an alert from the metro area crime unit, Hoover 911 Center Director Linda Moore said. The crime unit was looking for a suspect who had committed several felonies and thefts in cities across Jefferson County, and Hoover officers spotted a vehicle matching the description and stopped it on Lorna Road, Moore said. Hess located a Social Security Administration number, ran a check in the National Crime Information Center database and located an active warrant for the suspect, which enabled officers to arrest the man, Moore said. U.S. immigration officers discovered other warrants from numerous federal, state and local agencies, she said. “If not for communications officer Hess’ attention to detail, this suspect may have evaded apprehension, as had occurred in the past.”

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A12 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Business New group forms to help Hoover small businesses By JON ANDERSON A Hoover hair salon owner has formed a new organization to help small businesses grow and prosper. In September, Traci Fox, the owner of T. Fox SalonSpa Aveda on Valleydale Road, launched a group called the Hoover Small Business Alliance. Fox said she has watched many small businesses struggle through the COVID19 pandemic and wants to pull business owners together so they can learn from one another and share tips and advice to be more successful. She said she has been a small business owner for more than 20 years who has been through struggles and believes she can use her trials and the trials of others to help others make it through difficult times, too. “I know how challenging it can be to not only survive and stay open and be profitable, but to thrive,” Fox said. “I’m very passionate about small businesses.” She wants to pull small business owners together every other month for a gathering where they can learn from one another. The first event was in September, when about 25 to 30 people gathered at Aldridge Gardens to hear from Gordie Stewart, the former owner of Hoover Toyota who now is running his own ad agency called Lot 22 Media in Cahaba Heights. Stewart shared marketing and social media tips. The group also heard from Bill Powell, a former longtime executive director for the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce, who talked about the importance of small businesses. A second gathering at Aldridge was Nov. 17, featuring Krista Conlin Robinson, who runs her own public relations firm called KC

issues. He heard several good ideas from Stewart during his talk in September, including information about how small businesses can effectively use social media to advertise. The gatherings also are a good way for small business owners to meet other people who may be able to assist them, Powell said.


Small business owners gather at Aldridge Gardens in late September for the first meeting of the Hoover Small Business Alliance. Photo courtesy of Brooke Qualls.

Projects. Robinson talked about small business branding. The beauty of the Hoover Small Business Alliance is that there are no dues to be a part of it, no cost to attend the events and not a lot of time commitment, Fox said. “As a small business owner, you don’t have time, and you don’t have a lot of money,” she said. It’s hard to pull away from your business to go to networking events because many business owners don’t have people to take care of things while they are gone, she said. But it’s helpful

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to pull away occasionally and learn new ideas for running a business, she said. The gatherings are not meant to compete with chambers of commerce, Fox said. She’s an active member of both the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce and The Shelby County Chamber and strongly supports both, she said. But the Hoover Small Business Alliance is targeted strictly for small businesses because they have certain needs that larger corporations don’t, Fox said. Powell said what Fox is trying to do is a positive thing — just help others who face similar

Fox opened her first salon called Tangles in Sumiton in 2000. Her family moved to Hoover in 2007 to be in the Hoover school system, and she opened a second salon called T. Fox Salon in 2009. She ended up selling Tangles and in 2015 rebranded her new salon as T. Fox SalonSpa Aveda with a stronger tie-in with Aveda products. During the early days of the pandemic, she had to shut down her business for two solid months, she said. However, she was able to rebound and ended up having a record year in 2020, she said. T. Fox SalonSpa Aveda was named the 2016 Small Business of the Year by the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce and in 2020 was named one of the top 200 salons in the nation by Salon Today. This year, the salon was named a finalist for Small Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and Business Council of Alabama. One key to success is having the ability to pivot and change as circumstances change, Fox said. “I think we can help each other and share our ideas.” The alliance plans to meet again at Aldridge Gardens in January, but an exact date and time had not been set at press time. To learn more about the group, email hooversmallbusinessalliance@gmail.com or visit the Hoover Small Business Alliance on Facebook.


December 2021 • A13

Smiths hope to be spark in Bluff Park with The Electric

Laura and Ben Smith opened The Electric sandwich shop and bar in the Bluff Park Village shopping center in September. They said they want to maintain a family atmosphere. The outdoor patio has a game area with jumbo-sized Connect Four and Jenga. Photo by Jon Anderson.

By JON ANDERSON Laura and Ben Smith have a combined 35 years in the restaurant and bar business, but now they have a place that’s all their own. This fall, the Bluff Park couple opened their own sandwich shop and bar called The Electric in the newly remodeled Bluff Park Village shopping center, giving them a chance to share their expertise with their own neighborhood. When they moved to Bluff Park from Birmingham’s Southside community about six years ago, they fell in love with the community. “All the houses have yards, and they’re all kind of from different eras, and everybody kind of has their own vibe going on,” Ben Smith said. “It wasn’t like a cookie-cutter feel.” However, he was surprised there weren’t more small pockets of businesses in Bluff Park like you see in some other communities, he said. “We definitely identified an opportunity potentially for some sort of neighborhood restaurant — a place to grab a beer and eat a sandwich,” Ben said. Mr P.’s Deli and Tip Top Grill have been successful, Laura said, but as far as the Smiths know, they’re the only restaurant in Bluff Park that offers alcoholic beverages. They sell bottled and canned beer and wine (no draft beer) but have a full bar and cocktail menu, Ben said. That said, they also want to maintain a family atmosphere, they said. The outdoor patio has a game area with jumbo-sized Connect Four and Jenga.

The food menu consists mostly of sandwiches, including ham, turkey, chicken and vegan, but they’re not just run-of-the-mill sandwiches, Ben said. “They all have some thought behind them.” The “TG,” named after Ben’s father and modeled after a sandwich he made, has pepperoni, ham, garlic mayonnaise and a vinegar-based slaw on a potato roll. The vegan sandwich includes carnita-style mushrooms, mustard and corn marinated in orange juice, a little hot sauce, vegenaise, avocado, pickled onions and sweet peppers on sourdough bread. “It’s a hearty sandwich,” Ben said. They have buffalo hummus and beer cheese dip as appetizers, and Laura’s chili, which has been popular, can be served in a bowl, a cup or as a side. There also are a couple of salad options. For dessert, they offer cereal bars that are similar to “overblown Rice Krispy treats,” only with different kinds of cereal. For Halloween, they used Franken Berry and Boo Berry treats. Another recent offering featured a mix of Apple Jacks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Frosted Flakes.

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“They don’t lack on sugar,” Ben said as he laughed. Ben started in the restaurant business at age 15, working at an Italian restaurant called Papa’s Place in Mobile. He worked at about five other places in Mobile and Baldwin County, including Cock of the Walk and After Hours, before moving to Birmingham to get in on the bustling restaurant scene. He trained at Highland’s Bar and Grill briefly and then worked about four years at Chez Fonfon, bartending and serving. He then worked as a bartender at the Black Market Bar + Grill and helped open El Barrio in 2011 as bar manager. In 2013, he was an active partner in opening and running Paramount Bar. He’s still an owner in Paramount, but his day-to-day focus is now at The Electric. Laura, who grew up in Homewood, has been in the service industry for about 11 years, working as a server, bartender and manager. She has worked stints at places such as the Fox and Hound in the Colonnade, Dram Whiskey Bar in Mountain Brook, Black Market + Bar, Slice Pizza & Brew and, most recently, was the office

The Electric • WHERE: 2146 Tyler Road, Suite 212, Bluff Park Village • CALL: 205-407-4601 • WEB: The Electric on Facebook

manager and catering director for Brick & Tin. As the pandemic hit, she took a break from the restaurant business to help manage their kids, who were in and out of school with virtual work. The Smiths initially secured financing for The Electric in December 2019 and planned to open in the summer of 2020 until COVID-19 hit, putting their plans on hold. They finally opened their doors on Sept. 9 of this year and have been pleased with the community response. “To put time and energy into a place you love and then feel that given back to you is pretty great,” Laura said.

A14 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Business Happenings NOW OPEN

one-third of the existing building there, while Camp Bow Wow will take up two-thirds of the building. The facility is not allowed to have more than 55 animals and no more than 20 dogs outside at the same time. No dogs will be allowed outside at all between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. campbowwow.com Allesha Rowser on Nov. 15 received approval from the Hoover City Council to open a home day care with a maximum of five children at 3599 Deerfield Drive. 205-223-8529

Sabzi Mandi Market, a Pakistani and Indian grocery store, is now open at 3633 Lorna Road in the former location of Deluxe Cleaners. Owner Ramsha Gowani plans to add a restaurant in the same location in the first quarter of 2022. 205-502-7322, Sabzi Mandi Market on Facebook Kristine Robertson has opened Valleydale Village Nutrition at 5184 Valleydale Road, Suite, 206, in the former location of The Neighborhood Brew coffee shop at the Valleydale Village shopping center. The business offers nutritional shakes and teas and is open 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. 205-645-9074, Valleydale Village Nutrition on Facebook The Hoover Southtown used car dealership has opened a second location at 1850 Southpark Drive. The first location at 1570 Montgomery Highway remains open. 205-822-3996, hooversouthtown.com Mike Patel has opened Tobacco +++, 1845 Montgomery Highway, Suite 209, in The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center. 205-502-7190

Vella Bella Furniture plans to open at 1845 Montgomery Highway, Suite 211, in The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center, in the former Isabelle’s Thrifty Boutique location. vellabella.com

RELOCATIONS AND RENOVATIONS Oakview Animal Hospital opened Sept. 27 at its new location, 1810 Southpark Drive,, relocating from Pelham. Veterinarians include Dr. Elizabeth Robinson, Dr. Jay Price, Dr. Tricia Blake, Dr. Morgan Early and Dr. Bill Whitfield. 205-988-3559, oakviewah.com

NEW OWNERSHIP Simon-Williamson Clinic has joined the Complete Health family of primary care practices at One-Nineteen Health and Wellness, 7191 Cahaba Valley Road, Suite 300, as the organization continues its growth in Birmingham and across the Southeast. Simon-Williamson is the largest primary care company by patients and providers to join the Complete Health group. Simon-Williamson has been caring for patients in Birmingham for more than 80 years and accounts for an additional 34 providers joining the Complete Health team. 205-628-9167, completehealth.com/practice/ complete-health-greystone

Box Drop Mattresses and Furniture, 1853 Montgomery Highway, Suite 103, in The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center, is now open. 205-341-8621, boxdropbirmingham.com Trappin’ Apparel, 3736 Lorna Road in the River Oaks Village shopping center, is now open. The store sells apparel for men, women and children. trappinapparel.com Brad and Kaye Tompkins have ended their franchise relationship with City Bowls and opened Fab Fruit, a similar business, in the same location at 5220 Peridot Place, Suite 112, in the Stadium Trace Village shopping center. Fab Fruit offers made-to-order fruit bowls and smoothies. 205-502-7373, fabfruitbowls.com

COMING SOON The Power Brands Hospitality Group plans to open a franchise location of Biscuit Belly, a Kentucky-based breakfast and brunch restaurant, in The Village at Brock’s Gap in the spring of 2022. The menu includes a variety of biscuit sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, biscuit-style French toast, pancakes, fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, eggs, hash browns, milk, tea, coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and breakfast cocktails. 205-559-1892, biscuitbelly.com

was started in October 2019 with Phillips Development and Realty as the developer and Reese Vanderbilt and Associates as the architect. 205-803-5226, capstonebuilding.com Harold Sumerford Jr., the CEO of the J&M Tank Lines trucking company, 1100 Corporate Parkway in Meadow Brook Corporate Park, has been named the 77th chairman of the American Trucking Associations board of directors. The American Trucking Associations group is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry, with 50 affiliated state trucking associations. Sumerford has spent more than 40 years in the trucking industry, most in the tank truck sector. He and his brother, Peter Sumerford, president of J&M Tank Lines, took leadership of the company in 2008 following the retirement of their father, Harold Sumerford Sr. Sumerford Jr. is past chairman of the Georgia Motor Trucking Association and National Tank Truck Carriers. In addition, he and J&M Tank Lines have been longtime members and supporters of the American Transportation Research Institute, Alabama Trucking Association and the Truckload Carriers Association. Sumerford succeeds Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, president and CEO of Garner Trucking, as ATA’s chairman. Under Sumerford’s leadership, J&M Tank Lines has won numerous state and national safety awards and an ATA Mike Russell Trucking Image Award for the company’s work during the pandemic. 800-456-8265, jmtank.com N. Brooks Greene, CFO of the Arc of Central Alabama, 6001 Crestwood Blvd., was recently recognized as one of the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2021 CFO Award winners. Greene is a resident of Shelby County and has been with the Arc of Central Alabama since 2013. Honorees were chosen from a field of nominations based on contributions to their company, the company’s track record of performance and the CFO’s role in his or her industry and impact in the community. 205-323-6383, arcofcentralalabama.org The Hoover City Council on Nov. 1 approved a license for Kamali Creole Kitchen, 611 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 205, in The Village at Lee Branch shopping center, to sell alcoholic beverages. 205-573-6003, @kamalicreole on Facebook The Hoover City Council on Nov. 1 approved a license for the Riverchase BP, 3641 Lorna Road, to sell alcoholic beverages.

Phoenix Senior Living has purchased assisted living center Morningstar of Riverchase, 2184 Parkway Lake Drive, from Five Star Senior Living and renamed the facility The Bungalows at Riverchase. 205-403-7400, phoenixsrliving.com Desi Brothers Farmers Market has purchased the India Spices Indian and Pakistani market, 1853 Montgomery Highway, Suite 109, in The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center. The market has been renamed, and the new owners plan to renovate the store and expand merchandise offerings. Desi Brothers has five other locations, including Atlanta, Memphis, Minneapolis, Houston and Austin, said Mayur Patel, one of three partners and the manager of the Hoover location. 205-733-7112, desibrothers.com


The former Pier I Imports building, 1727 Montgomery Highway in the Riverchase Promenade shopping center, has been torn down to make way for a Whataburger. whataburger.com

Birmingham Fast Repair, 2929 Monte Deste Drive, a home service and repair company, has rebranded itself as Scout Home Services to better reflect its variety of services and to help the company expand outside the Birmingham-Hoover market, owner Seth Hamby said. Hamby started the company in 2016 while doing handyman work in between jobs. The company has grown to include an office staff, salesman and team of experienced handymen. Services include home improvements, odd jobs, home maintenance, assembly work and more. Potential future markets include Huntsville, Atlanta or Nashville, Hamby said. 206-687-0994, scouthome.services

Camp Bow Wow, a national chain that offers day care, boarding, grooming and training services, on Nov. 15 received approval from the Hoover City Council to open a location in the Hoover Fitness building at 2153 Clearbrook Road, just south of Bluff Park Village and across from Shades Mountain Plaza. Hoover Fitness plans to remain in

Capstone Building Corp., 1200 Corporate Drive, Suite 350, has completed construction of a 296-unit apartment complex in St. Petersburg, Florida, called Sur Club Apartments. The 320,384-square-foot complex includes two resort-style pools, a clubhouse, fitness center, business center, dog park and media rooms. The project

The Hoover City Council on Nov. 1 hired Gonzalez-Strength and Associates, Gresham Smith, Mott MacDonald, Nell-Schaeffer and A.G. Gaston Construction and Engineering to help assess complaints about stormwater flooding throughout the city.

PERSONNEL MOVES T. Fox Salon, 2080 Valleydale Road, Suite 7, has added cosmetologist Gracen Mitchell, who will be providing hair, skin and nail services. 205-403-8369, tfoxsalon.com Dr. Adam Smith has joined the staff at Brookwood Baptist Health’s Hoover Medical Office Building, 5295 Preserve Parkway. Smith specializes in internal medicine for teens and adults, with an emphasis on diabetes, preventive health care and screenings, blood pressure and cholesterol management, acute care for illnesses and injuries, chronic condition management and annual physical exams. 205-682-6077, brookwoodbaptisthealth.com/ locations/detail/hoover-bbh

CLOSINGS Isabelle’s Thrifty Boutique, 1845 Montgomery Highway, Suite 211, in The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center, has closed. Customs Cafe, 1845 Montgomery Highway, Suite 207, in the Plaza at Riverchase shopping center, has closed its location but continues to sell its wholesale food products at various retail outlets, including Piggly Wiggly and Foodland grocery stores, the Santos coffee shop in The Village at Brock’s Gap and various gasoline station/convenience stores. 205-987-0176, customscafe.com


December 2021 • A15


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A16 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Schoolhouse Have a schoolhouse announcement? Email Jon Anderson at janderson@starnesmedia.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

Hoover marching band scores 2nd state championship By JON ANDERSON The Hoover High School competition marching band recently captured its second Class 7A state championship. The 185-member auditioned band competed Oct. 30 against four other 7A bands for the championship this year at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. They came out on top over Bob Jones, James Clemens, Sparkman and Thompson. The Hoover band won first place in visual performance, music performance and general effect (storyline), said Matthew Cicero, one of three associate directors for the band. “We are fortunate we had the chance to perform this year because last year the state championships didn’t happen due to COVID,” Cicero told the Hoover school board in November as he spoke in place of director Ryan Fitchpatrick, who was out of town for professional development. “We were happy to have the opportunity to come back and defend the state title we won in 2019. We’re certainly proud of these students.” Will Stallworth, one of four drum majors this year, said it was amazing to be a part of a second state championship. “It’s the best way to end my senior year,” Stallworth said. Because there wasn’t a state championship event last year, this was the first opportunity for half of the band to ever participate in a state championship competition, Stallworth said. They did a great job and had more energy than in any of the years he has experienced, he said. This year’s band also placed fifth at a Bands of America competition in Clarksville, Tennessee, in September, Stallworth said.

Above: Members of the Hoover High School competition marching band celebrate the school’s second Class 7A state championship at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Oct. 30. Right: Celebrating, from left, are weapons captain Kenadie Edwards, color guard captain Jordan Singer and drum majors Will Stallworth, Mia Ujueta, Kathryn Baker and Dalton Dismukes. Photos courtesy of Trace True Dismukes.



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December 2021 • A17

Above: Hoover High’s Rotimi Kukoyi, from left, Spain Park’s Shelby Millender and Hoover High’s Nena Kimble were recognized by the Hoover Board of Education during its Oct. 19 meeting for being selected by The College Board for the National African American Recognition Program. Not pictured is Hoover High’s Kaylei White. Left: Students from Hoover and Spain Park high schools who were named National Merit semifinalists were recognized by the board. Photos courtesy of Sherea Harris-Turner.

14 Hoover, Spain Park students named National Merit semifinalists By JON ANDERSON Fourteen seniors from the Hoover school system have been named National Merit semifinalists this year, including 11 from Hoover High and three from Spain Park High. They are among 16,000 semifinalists named by the National Merit Scholarship Corp., meaning they are in the top 1% of high school students nationally and now will compete to become finalists and then National Merit Scholars. This year’s semifinalists from Hoover High are Christopher Cheng, Kenneth Curlings, Shayaan Essani, Carys Gonzalez, Rotimi Kukoyi, Sreekiran Nataraj, Adnan Porbanderwala, Samuel Temple, Connor Varwig, Sarah Xin and Jeffrey Yuan. The Spain Park National Merit semifinalists this year are Riley Luthin, Joseph Mudano and Michael Wolkow. The semifinalists were chosen based on their

performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which was given to the students during their sophomore or junior year. The semifinalists represent the highest-scoring performers in each state, with the number of semifinalists from each state based on the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. The National Merit Scholarship Corp. in February will narrow the pool down to about 15,000 finalists and then to 7,500 students chosen as National Merit Scholars between April and July. The winners together will receive nearly $30 million in scholarships. To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must fill out a detailed application, sharing information about the student’s academic record, participating in school and community activities, demonstrating leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.

Finalists also must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm their earlier performance on the qualifying test. “This group of students has blown us all away with what they do with their time and their energy, but also how they have achieved a level of greatness every day,” said Cindy Bond, the college and career counselor at Hoover High. “Those students shine academically, socially and in leadership each year.” They come to school prepared to learn, but they’re also prepared to have fun, Bond said. “That is so important to really be a model for other students within our community — that it’s not just about working hard all the time,” she said. “It’s also about teamwork. It’s also about growing yourself as a leader, and it’s also about being part of a community.” Some of this year’s semi-finalists already

have come together to provide PSAT coaching to juniors taking the test this year, Bond said. “They want other students to have equal success, and that is a mark of a leader,” she said. “I think this group of students have really just given us so much to be proud of in every single way.” The National Merit Scholarship Program is underwritten by about 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share the goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence. Separate from the scholarship program, the nonprofit also recognizes students from various minority groups for significant achievement on the PSAT and/or Advanced Placement tests. Three students from Hoover High (Nena Kimble, Rotimi Kukoyi and Kaylei White) and one from Spain Park High (Shelby Millender) were chosen for the National African American Recognition Program this year.

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A18 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Moss Rock Preserve serves as movie set By JON ANDERSON A new movie featuring Richard Dreyfuss was filmed mostly in Hoover recently, though the famous actor himself never set foot in Alabama. The movie, “Abandonment,” is about a woman who goes hiking in the Appalachian mountains and is abandoned in a cave by her companion after being attacked by a bear and breaking her leg, according to Ben Moon, one of the producers, who lives in Bluff Park. Dreyfuss plays a 911 operator who tries to get the woman help as she seeks to find her way back to civilization. The 74-year-old Dreyfuss, famous for movies such as “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” had all of his scenes filmed in San Diego because he doesn’t fly anymore, Moon said. But 90 to 95% of the movie was filmed in Hoover at the 350-acre Moss Rock Preserve nature park, said Jen Miller Mishalanie, another Bluff Park resident who was the production designer and an actress in the film. The film crew spent 11 to 12 days filming in Hoover and two days in California, she said. About 100 people were involved in the show, from pre-production to post-production, and most were on site at one point or another, Mishalanie said. The most on site at any one time was probably about 40, she said. The majority of the crew was from the Birmingham area except for the director, director of photography and script supervisor (who were

A scene for the movie “Abandonment” was filmed at Hoover City Hall in September. The film is about a woman who goes hiking in the Appalachian mountains and is abandoned by her companion after being attacked by a bear and breaking her leg, according to Ben Moon, one of the producers, who lives in Bluff Park. Photo courtesy of Candi George.

from Los Angeles) and a couple of “background actors” (also known as extras) who were from the Huntsville area, Mishalanie said. While most of the filming in Hoover took place in the nature park, the crew also filmed a flashback scene at Moss Rock Tacos & Tequila, another scene in a home in The Preserve and two scenes at Hoover City Hall. One of the scenes at City Hall involved turning the William J. Billingsley Council Chambers into a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “war room,” and another that used the new community room across the lobby as a high school classroom. It was Mishalanie’s job as production designer to make the spaces appear to be something they are not. Hoover Councilmen Curt Posey and Mike Shaw and Melanie Posey-Joseph, the public information officer for the city of Hoover, were among the background actors in one of the scenes at City Hall. The movie now is in post-production and

will likely be shown at festivals to find a buyer to distribute it, Moon said. It usually takes at least a year to sell a show, and it likely will go straight into streaming instead of hitting the big screen, he said. Moon, who has lived in Hoover since 1997, has been working in the film industry in Alabama for 20 years, and Mishalanie, who has lived in Bluff Park about 20 years, has been helping him produce shows for about five years. They handle a wide range of tasks, from lining up the film crew to finding sets, equipment and props, arranging lodging for outof-town guests, providing food, handling accounting and payroll and applying for tax incentives from the state. Producers from Los Angeles don’t know how to find the resources needed for filming in Alabama, Moon said. “We save them so much money.” Moon and Mishalanie have helped produce a variety of films with big-name actors, including Bruce Willis (“Out of the Fight” and “Wrong

Place”), John Travolta (“Trading Paint” and “Fanatic”), Nicholas Cage (“U.S.S. Indianapolis: Men of Courage), Steven Seagal (“The Perfect Weapon”), John Claude Van Damme (“Kill ’Em All” and “Blackwater”), Tyler Hoechlin and Julianne Hough (“Bigger”), and Dolph Lundgren (“Castle Falls”). While one of the scenes in “Trading Paint” was filmed in Hoover at the former Golden Rule Bar-B-Q restaurant, this is the first time Moon and Mishalanie have filmed most of a movie in Hoover. They would like to film more in Hoover because there are plenty of good hotels for outof-town guests and a variety of good shooting locations, such as parks and mansions, Moon said. One thing Hoover is lacking is a “downtown” scene, but they can go to Bessemer or Birmingham for that, he said. They recently were scouting locations for another film called “The Wizdor Hotel,” which is slated to include Bill Cobbs, Bill Smitrovich and Hal Linden.

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December 2021 • A19

Animal rescue group finds home near Ross Bridge From left: Deb Sellers, Sonya King, the founder of Two by Two Rescue, and John Sellers sit on the front steps with their newly acquired senior foster dog at the rescue group’s new location near Ross Bridge. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By JON ANDERSON The Two by Two Rescue group that helps find homes for unwanted, abused and abandoned animals soon will have a home for itself. The organization, founded in Helena in 2005, recently purchased about 2 acres and a house near Ross Bridge with money donated by new board member John Sellers. The rescue group has never had a physical facility, with staff members instead working from their homes and out of their vehicles, founder Sonya King said. Now, they’ll have a central place to work and an intake facility where they can keep animals for health and personality assessments before putting them in foster homes, King said. That will give rescue staff time to determine if the animals need immediate veterinarian care or shots or if they’re ready to go to a foster home, she said. It also will eliminate some of the travel that takes place as animals are moved around before placement and provide a chance for rescue staff and volunteers to work more closely with one another in the same location, improving communication and efficiency. Two by Two Rescue has three full-time staff and many volunteers, King said. “I’m excited to move my home office over there,” she said. “It’ll help me clean off my dining room table.” The rescue group is renovating the house and garage that already were on the property and adding another structure. King said she hopes all the work can be completed by the end of this year. The expected cost of renovations and new construction is about $100,000, and the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization will gladly accept any donations to help cover the cost. The more money that can be raised for renovations, the less money that has to be taken out of the organization’s fund for veterinary care, which is the group’s biggest expense, King said. Two by Two Rescue is a no-kill organization, which means the group has a goal to end the killing of all animals that are not irremediably

physically suffering. Irremediable suffering is defined as “a poor or grave prognosis for being able to live without severe, unremitting physical pain even with prompt, necessary and comprehensive veterinary care.” The principle is applied to all species of animals, including, but not limited to, companion mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, aquatic animals, “farmed” animals and wildlife, according to the group’s website. The group helps animals without regard to age, breed, color or medical condition and provides a lot of veterinary care for animals, even if it’s extensive. Two By Two mostly deals with dogs and horses, but also has helped some cats and a few pot-bellied pigs. King and a partner started the organization

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in 2005 not long after she moved from Montgomery to Helena. She intended to practice law but became so distressed by the number of stray animals in the community that she started scooping them up and taking them in, she said. The city of Helena was looking for someone to help with the problem, and Two By Two was formed out of that. The number of animals helped has increased each year and this year exceeded 1,000, King said. Animals have been placed in about 40 states. They are accepted from anywhere, but mostly from the greater Birmingham area, she said. “The requests we have on a daily basis are mind blowing,” she said. “We turn down a couple thousand animals every week. We wish we could take ’em all. We really do.” The organization also provides behavioral

training for animals that may be considered to have problem behavior, she said. “We don’t discriminate against breeds,” she said. “We give all breeds a chance.” The group has a motto that there are no “bad dogs,” she said. “That’s a great program to see animals flourish and bounce back from whatever circumstances they’ve been through.” King said she’s especially grateful to Sellers for both finding the property and making the donation to make the purchase possible. “He’s just been such a blessing. He’s been on the board less than a year, but he has this energy and passion for animals,” King said. “He actually surprised us with this property. We were elated.” For more information about Two by Two Rescue or to make a donation, go to twobytwo rescue.com.

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A20 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Community Have a community announcement? Email Jon Anderson at janderson@starnesmedia.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

Hoover Arts Alliance doles out $3,200 in grant money By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Arts Alliance recently gave out $3,200 in grants and awards to various groups and artists. The largest was a $2,000 check to the Hoover Public Library’s fine arts department. Library Fine Arts Manager Matina Johnson said the library plans to use the money to support artist receptions, artist lectures and new educational initiatives related to the arts. The library has long held receptions for artists whose work is on display at the library but suspended them early in 2020 due to COVID19. Johnson said artists were leery to attend the receptions, but now that things are improving, she expects to start having them again by January. Also, she would like to have more artist lectures and begin offering periodic educational classes, Johnson said. Potential classes could include dance, art and improvisation, she said. The library greatly appreciates contributions from the Hoover Arts Alliance and will try to make the $2,000 go as far as it can, Johnson said. The alliance also gave a $500 grant to the Hoover Songbirds senior citizen show choir that performs at retirement centers, nursing homes and assisted living centers in the Birmingham-Hoover metro area. Linda Chastain, treasurer for the Hoover Arts Alliance, said members of the group read a story about the Hoover Songbirds in the October edition of the Hoover Sun and were impressed with the community service the choir is performing. “The past several years, while dealing with a pandemic, it has been especially hard for seniors who have been isolated from friends and family

A Hoover Songbirds quartet sings "Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” Director Fred Ernst said the Songbirds plan to use grant funds from the Hoover Arts Alliance to help pay for costume accessories and flower arrangements that are given out to members of their audience at each show. Photo courtesy of Linda Campbell.

to maintain a positive attitude,” Chastain said. “The Songbirds have brought not only cheer but a little normalcy back to folks with their music and positive spirit.” Music therapy can improve the mental health for some groups who may have been neglected during the pandemic, she said. “The Songbirds also serve as an example to older citizens that life still has possibilities to participate in meaningful work into their 80s and in some cases 90s. Life is never over til it is over,” Chastain said. “It is this positive influence on the community that we at the Hoover Arts Alliance enjoy encouraging and rewarding.” Fred Ernst, director of the Songbirds, said he greatly appreciates the grant money from the Hoover Arts Alliance. The Songbirds plan to use it to help pay for costume accessories and flower arrangements that are given out to members of their audience at each show, Ernst said. “Prior to that, it basically all came out of my pocket,” he said, noting that other members of the group occasionally chipped in to cover expenses, too. But “if we’re going to be a show choir, we’re going to look like a show choir.” The Hoover Arts Alliance also recently gave a $500 award to Cindy Barr, a painter from Mountain Brook who participated in the Bluff Park Art Show, and a $200 grant to the Alabama Woodworkers Guild, which recently displayed its work at the Hoover Public Library. The alliance in the spring plans to award two $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors who plan to continue their art education at the college level. The alliance’s mission is to provide incentives to local groups that bring visual and performing arts to residents of Hoover. Learn more about the group at hooverartsalliance.org.



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December 2021 • A21

Events New 8K race coming to Bluff Park neighborhoods this month

Your Local Roofers

By JON ANDERSON Lynsey Tibbs has enjoyed living in Bluff Park for the past nine years and loves running in the community, and now she wants other people to experience that, too. Tibbs, a 40-year-old engineer for a Nashville-based solar energy company, has organized a new road race called the Bluff Park 8K, a 5-mile route that will take people through what she considers some of the key Bluff Park neighborhoods. The race is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 a.m., the same morning as the Bluff Park Christmas Parade, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tibbs said she just wanted to create another run in Bluff Park to supplement Shades Crest Baptist Church’s High A sign in Bluff Park alerts people to the upcoming Bluff Park 8K road race scheduled for Dec. 4. Country 5K. She considered a 10K but narrowed the course down to an 8K to Photo courtesy of Lynsey Tibbs. make it more manageable, she said. “It’s not a hilly course. It’s really a very manageable course for such a hilly neighborhood,” she said. Bluff Park 8K Tibbs got some practice in organizing a race last year by pulling about 60 people together to • WHERE: Starts and ends at Bluff participate in the virtual version of the Trick or Park United Methodist Church Trot 5K run, which benefits the Kid One Trans• WHEN: 7:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 4 port nonprofit. That run was along Shades Crest • COST: $40 Road, stretching north toward Vestavia Hills • WEB: runsignup.com/bluffpark8k from Mr. P’s Deli. The Bluff Park 8K will begin at Bluff Park United Methodist Church, head south on Valley Street and Park Avenue, winding down for people in need through various ministries. to Farley Road before heading back north to Tibbs set a goal to raise at least $4,000 this year and believes the race will exceed that. finish at Bluff Park United Methodist. As of late October, 112 people had registered The race is not directly affiliated with any charity, but Tibbs plans to give proceeds to a charity to participate. The cost is $40. To sign up or for partner each year, and this year proceeds will go more information, go to runsignup.com/bluffto Grace’s Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides food park8k. The deadline to register is Dec. 3.

2021 Bluff Park Christmas Parade scheduled for Dec. 4 By JON ANDERSON Bluff Park is gearing up for its 2021 Christmas parade after having to cancel last year’s parade due to rain. “We’re really excited to be able to do it again this year,” said Lori Redding, one of five primary organizers. “It’s something fun for us to be able to do.” This year’s parade, which is open to the entire community (not just Bluff Park) is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, and will take the same route as it did two years ago, starting and ending Adults and children ride a float as hundreds of at the park next to the Shades Cliff pool, people take part in the 2019 Bluff Park Christmas Parade in Hoover. Photo by Jon Anderson. Redding said. The parade will proceed along Cloudland Drive (behind Bluff Park Elementary School), turn right onto Lester Lane, then turn south on Clearview Road (which turns into Bluff Park Maiden Lane), right onto Rockview Lane, right Christmas Parade onto Cloudland Drive and end back at the park next to Shades Cliff Pool, she said. • WHERE: Starting and ending at the The parade two years ago had hundreds of park next to the Shades Cliff pool people in it, taking up about 40 entry spots. Par• WHEN: 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 4 ticipants included churches, Scouting groups, • DETAILS: Open to the entire businesses, the Simmons Middle School cheercommunity leaders, majorettes, the American Legion, families, groups of friends and, of course, Santa Claus. Organizers gave out gift cards for the top parade entries. Organizers this past summer sold Bluff Park and Anyone interested in being part of this year’s Hoover Buc T-shirts to help pay for it. parade can fill out a registration form on the Organizers are asking people driving to Bluff Bluff Park Christmas Parade Facebook page. Park to watch the parade to park at Shades Crest The entry fee is $30 and helps cover expenses Baptist Church and Bluff Park Elementary such as liability insurance and assistance from School. The parade will go behind the school on Hoover police officers, Redding said. Cloudland Drive but not by Shades Crest Baptist The parade costs between $1,000 and $1,500 on Park Avenue. The church parking lot, howto organize and implement, Redding said. ever, is one of the closest parking lots.


A22 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

A patron looks at the details within a mixed media piece by Stefan Hochhuber, a multimedia artist from Atlanta, during the Moss Rock Festival on Nov. 6 at the Hoover Met Complex. Photos by Erin Nelson.

MOSS ROCK FESTIVAL Above: Jillian Witucki, 7, uses a hammer to smash a flower petal under a piece of fabric as she makes a colorful headband at one of the children’s art activities. Right: Children wrap sticks with yarn and add them to a sculpture. Below: Guests browse various tents and activities.

Left: A festival-goer browses wares. Below: Patrons check out the House Plant Collective bus.


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December 2021 • A23

A24 • December 2021

Hoover Sun


CONTINUED from page A1 and gave easier access to and from the mineral-rich terrain in central Alabama. Members of the Birmingham Historical Society became alarmed when they learned the city of Hoover wanted to build a new parkway through that area, fearing the historical pathway would be obliterated. SB Development, a company affiliated with Signature Homes, owns a 73-acre piece of land that contains the entire Brock’s Gap cut, Belcher said. The property is adjacent to Hoover, but currently is outside the city limits in unincorporated parts of Jefferson and Shelby counties, he said. However, his company has committed to donate the right of way to the city for a parkway city officials say is needed to help relieve traffic congestion in western Hoover.


His company sees the Brock’s Gap cut as an amenity and doesn’t want to see it destroyed either, he said. He believes the city can build the proposed parkway without destroying the cut, but there will need to be some compromises, he said. “Sections of it [the Brock’s Gap cut] are going to have to be modified,” Belcher said. Based on his preliminary assessment of the topography, “I think you can limit your impact to just two to three places.” But, there still are some unknown factors. First, the parkway won’t happen unless the city gets a commitment from the federal government to build a new Interstate 459 interchange that connects with South Shades Crest Road, Belcher said. Then, the parkway’s impact on the northern part of the Brock’s Gap cut will depend on where the parkway connects with South Shades Crest Road, Belcher said. Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice has said the city likely won’t spend money on engineering for the parkway until the interstate interchange is more certain. Belcher said he has done some preliminary assessment of the 73 acres his company owns

A road leads through the historic Brock’s Gap cut, completed in 1871, between South Shades Crest Road and Stadium Trace Parkway. Photo by Erin Nelson.

and could see the parkway going through the middle of his property, staying away from the Brock’s Gap cut for the most part until it needs to cross it. Signature Homes wants to use the Brock’s Gap cut as a pedestrian pathway to help connect Ross Bridge and the Everlee community to 10 miles of mountain bike trails his company built in Trace Crossings, and eventually to historic coke ovens across the Cahaba River in Helena, Belcher said. “For us, that old railbed will serve as a great connector trail that’s already built, so we like having that there,” he said. “It enhances the communities we create.” The existing road going through part of the Brock’s Gap cut is a beautiful road with 70-foot

hardwoods on both sides of it and currently is being used as an entrance to the Brock’s Gap Training Center and access road for emergency vehicles to get to Signature Homes’ Blackridge development, Belcher said. His company bought the 73 acres that contain the Brock’s Gap cut primarily for the emergency access until a new fire station could be built to serve Lake Wilborn and Blackridge, he said. His company has already filled in a couple hundred feet of the Brock’s Gap cut near Blackridge so fire trucks would have no more than a 15% grade to access Stadium Trace Parkway, he said. “We did it for safety reasons.” Another factor affecting the layout of the parkway is whether the Brock’s Gap Training

Center is willing to sell its 110 acres to make way for the rest of the parkway, Belcher said. “Them being willing to sell allows a lot more flexibility for the parkway and gives you a lot more opportunity to avoid the existing railbed that’s there,” he said.


Belcher said he believes his company’s goals, for the most part, align with those of the Birmingham Historical Society, but he was frustrated with actions of one of the society’s board members. Board member Birgit Kibelka tried to arrange a visit to the cut with Belcher in March, but Belcher postponed the visit, saying he wanted to wait until he had more information about

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December 2021 • A25

I’m going to continue to create this pedestrian connection through there. And, of course, we want to preserve things that have significant historical relevance to it.

potential parkway connections. Kibelka took some people to see the cut without him, and Belcher considered that trespassing. He said his company owns the property and he is concerned, from a liability perspective, about people being out there without him present. “It’s not really safe,” he said. “If anybody’s going to go out there, it needs to be with me.” Kibelka tried to arrange another visit in May, inviting more people, and was served with legal papers to stay off the property. She showed up at the entrance to SB Development’s property on the day the visit was planned but told the Hoover Sun she was there only to let others who might show up know that the visit had been canceled. “He did not want us there. It was very clear,” she said. Kibelka admitted to trespassing on one occasion but said she doesn’t understand why Belcher was so adamant about not allowing people to visit. She’s glad to hear he believes most of the cut can be saved, she said. “That’s really good news. That’s what we were hoping for.” She will be eager to see more specifics and hopes that the Hoover City Council and city planner are able to see the cut in person to better understand its significance, she said. Belcher said he could have already destroyed the cut if he wanted. “If I wanted to tear it up, I could come up with plenty of reasons to tear it up, could make it 10 feet wide to put fire trucks through there,” he said. “I could justify that … but I’m not going to do that. “She expects me to honor what she believes are rights to preserve history, but she doesn’t honor my rights as a property


owner,” Belcher said. “Property rights are pretty important in our history, and yet I guess that’s the one part that’s not important to them. … It’s hard to work with somebody that doesn’t respect your wishes.”


Belcher said a balance must be struck between preserving history and serving the needs of people here today. The parkway connection from Morgan Road will help take half the traffic off Stadium Trace Parkway, relieve traffic off South Shades Crest Road and give quicker access to Interstate 459 for people in Hoover, Helena and other parts of western Shelby County, Belcher said. It also will provide access to land that could be an employment center for science, technology, engineering and math-related companies the city would like to recruit and help grow, he said. Between the 73 acres owned by SB Development, the 160 acres SB Development donated to the city of Hoover and 110 acres owned by the Brock’s Gap Training Center, there likely would be about 160 usable acres left for economic development after the parkway is built, Belcher said. Even though the land is more linear, that’s bigger than the Riverchase Galleria campus, he said. Keeping the Brock’s Gap cut mostly intact will add to the value of the developments, he said. “I’m going to continue to create this pedestrian connection through there,” he said. “And, of course, we want to preserve things that have significant historical relevance to it.”

This map shows about a 1-mile stretch of the historic Brock’s Gap railbed, where the South and North Alabama Railroad cut through Shades Mountain, Pine Mountain and other adjoining ridges to open up a transportation route between Montgomery and north Alabama in the 1860s and early 1870s. Completion of the cut in November 1871 made way for the incorporation of the city of Birmingham in December 1871. Map courtesy of Birmingham Historical Society.

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A26 • December 2021

Hoover Sun A rendering of the new operating wing at Brookwood Baptist Hospital. Photo courtesy of Brookwood Baptist Health.


CONTINUED from page A1 that he had been appointed as the new leader of Brookwood was special, Clark said. “It was really incredible,” Clark said. “This is a dream job. It’s just a very special place.” Leading the health system he started his career in is an incredible opportunity, Clark said, and he has plans to help it continue to improve and grow. But first, he has spent time meeting new people and reconnecting with old colleagues and friends. “It’s been great to reconnect with many people I worked with in the past,” Clark said. Clark began at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center in 2004 and when he left, was an associate administrator at the hospital. For the past 10 years, he has been leading health care organizations around the Southeast. His most recent job was leading a health system based in Hilton Head, South Carolina. “With a proven track record of success in growing quality programs, this promotion is a homecoming for Jeremy, who started his career in health care at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center as an associate administrator,” said Dr. Saum Sutaria, the CEO for Tenet Healthcare, Brookwood Baptist Health’s parent company, in a written statement. “He is a proven leader with community commitment to this area, and he is dedicated to ensuring patients receive the highest quality care and service at our hospitals.” Clark said he wants to continue to add quality employees and care to the health system. “We’re going to be looking for ways to continually advance the quality of care we deliver across central Alabama,” he said. “We’re going to be recruiting new positions and new employees to help us bring new services to the various communities we serve.” Along with increasing staff, Clark also will oversee what he said will be the most exciting project over the next few years, the installation of Brookwood Baptist Medical Center’s new operating room. The Alabama State Certificate of Need Review Board on Sept. 15 granted approval for Brookwood Baptist Medical Center to renovate and replace its operating

room. The hospital broke ground for the project Nov. 10. “This important project for our campus will deliver new and updated operating rooms with needed technological advancements, all of which will ultimately improve the experience for our patients, surgeons and staff,” the hospital said in a statement. The new operating room is set to open in early 2023. Clark said it is a $30 million investment to replace the operating suites with 13 new operating rooms, which will be larger than the current rooms and able to handle more advanced surgeries. “We saw this as a great opportunity to reinvest in surgical care and continue to advance the care and be the place that people want to receive care and surgeons want to work,” Clark said. With other major hospitals in the area, including UAB and Ascension St. Vincent’s, Clark said making sure Brookwood stays

competitive begins with its people and its “outstanding” medical staff. He said he will look to add more surgeons to Brookwood’s team while also investing in the latest technologies to attract both patients and doctors. Like every medical facility, Brookwood was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Clark said he has been struck by the “commitment of our caregivers.” He said the hospital’s COVID-19 population has declined in the past few months, and now patients are returning to seek non-COVID care and elective surgeries. The most challenging part of his new job is learning the organization and the footprint it has across central Alabama, he said. But while that’s hard work, it is also “invigorating,” Clark said. He said he has seen the commitment Homewood specifically has to the hospital. “Homewood has always been a great supporter of Brookwood Baptist Medical Center,” Clark said.

Clark and his wife have two elementary-age children, and he said they were very excited to come back home, and so was the rest of his family that still lives in town. As he takes up the mantle of leadership at the hospital, Clark said leading Brookwood is personal. “Brookwood is a special place to me,” Clark said. “Not only did I start my career here, this is where most of my family has received their care for the past 40 years.” Though his days typically involve meeting with key constituents and employees, it’s seeing the care given to patients that drives Clark. “It’s an incredible field to be in,” Clark said. “The opportunity to find new ways to help people in our community, to serve this community, is incredibly exciting. … It’s seeing the patients benefit from the care we’re bringing them, hearing those stories of a lifesaving procedure, or a life-improving procedure, and hearing about the care that we’re delivering. That’s incredibly exciting to do.”

SCORE SOME GREAT GIFTS THE WORLD GAMES JULY 2022 34 international sports. Thousands of athletes. An entire world watching.





December 2021 • A27

Peace on Earth

Happy Holidays from the

POARCH BAND OF CREEK INDIANS As this festive season approaches, we look forward to gift wrapping marathons, the sweet smells of family dinners, and the tinsels and trim that warm up our hearts. We are grateful to call Alabama home and wish all our friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Sports B4 Celebrations B15



A PERFECT ENDING Spain Park sweeps McGill-Toolen to win Class 7A state volleyball title

By KYLE PARMLEY Audrey Rothman vowed to herself things would be different next time. After falling to Hoover in the Class 7A final last fall, Rothman and her Spain Park High School teammates walked off the floor at Bill Harris Arena knowing they had lost to a great team, but disappointed in their own showing. In the heartbreak of the moment, Rothman walked up to coach Kellye Bowen and delivered a succinct, yet powerful, statement. “Hey, I’m winning this next year,” player told coach. From that moment, the team worked toward getting back to that stage, on that floor, with a second chance. The Jaguars got that opportunity, and they earned redemption Oct. 28. Spain Park put a bow on a dream season with a 3-0 win over McGillToolen in the state championship match, earning the program’s first state title and validating the belief of many that it was the best team in Alabama all season. “They said it’s our year to win

See VOLLEYBALL | page B14

The Jags storm toward head coach Kellye Bowen, not pictured, as Bowen brings the Class 7A state championship trophy to the team after they swept McGill-Toolen for the Class 7A state volleyball title at Bill Harris Arena at Birmingham CrossPlex on Oct. 28. Photos by Erin Nelson.

B2 • December 2021

Hoover Sun


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December 2021 • B3

5 Little-Known Secrets of Home Staging from Home Selling Pros Are you considering jumping into Birmingham’s Hot Hot Seller’s market? If so, let’s talk home staging strategies that could maximize your profit and shorten the amount of time it takes to sell your home. You’ve probably heard all the usual advice – clean your home, send pets on a retreat, and freshen up your yard and entry. Today, I want to let you in on a couple of little-known secrets in home staging that make all the difference in a buyer’s home shopping experience. As a realtor, I’ve toured hundreds of homes with buyers. And I’ve seen it all - misses and mistakes, and the brilliant décor ideas that get buyers exclaiming “Let’s make an offer now” before we even make it past the foyer.

Tip #1 Scents and Air Freshener Go with clean, ‘barely there’ scents. In fact, an absence of any smells is what you’re striving for. Many would-be buyers dislike overpowering air freshener, and some may even be allergic. Prior to showing your home, have your pad professionally deep cleaned and send the pets off for a mini

vacation. If you still feel your home would benefit from a scent, go super mild with a clean linen scented spray.

Tip #2 Float Your Furniture Pull your sofa and chairs away from walls to give the room a light, airy feel. Most people assume that pushing sofas and chairs against the walls help to make the space feel larger, but in fact the opposite is true! While you are moving furniture around, remove any pieces that don’t work in the space or make it feel too crowded.

Tip #3 Keep Bedrooms and Baths Neutral Cute theme rooms are fun for the families that live in them, but home shoppers want to see themselves living there. Swap pink or blue bedding for neutral colors like gray or beige to give would-be buyers the best chance at imagining the room’s potential. Same goes for theme-colored walls, shower curtains, and bathroom knickknacks.

Photo Courtesy of Savannah Johnson/Art House Associate Broker

Tip #4 Add a Few Houseplants Brightly colored vases, greenery, and the oxygen producing effects of household plants have a way of improving our moods and making us feel at home. Identify a few spaces in your place that would benefit from the pop of color that only flowers and plants can provide. Kitchen tables, islands, end tables, nightstands, bathroom vanities, and lonely, bare corners of bedrooms are great spots to add a house plant.

Tip #5 Organize Your Pantry and Closets Crammed closets and messy pantries give off the vibe of a household struggling to live in the space. Now is the time to toss out, recycle, donate, and organize your pantry and closets. Your goal is to create the impression that you are living effortlessly in your home. Plus, it’ll make packing up quickly that much easier when you receive an offer!

Considering Buying or Selling a home this year? Give local Associate Broker and Realtor Savannah Johnson at Art House a call: 256-293-0675 or learn more at: savannahjohnson.soldbyarthouse.com


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B4 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Sports Hoover teen makes USA Jr. Olympic Karate Team By ERIC TAUNTON After years of training in martial arts and competing in tournaments, Hoover resident Arden Campbell this fall made the USA Jr. Olympic Karate Team at the Chicago Nationals. Campbell, an 11th grader at The Altamont School, is the fourth athlete from Alabama and the third female ever to make the team, according to her father, Shane Campbell. She’s currently a third-degree black belt and has been training in karate and other forms of martial arts since she was 7 years old. With the USA Jr. Olympic Karate Team, she competes in kumite, also known as sparring. Martial arts is a way for her to release energy and also has helped with her self-confidence, she said. “I was pretty shy,” Campbell said. “It helped me learn how to get past that. Now it’s become more like family to me. Some of my closest friends are here, and it’s just my happy place.” Campbell assists her sensei, Keith MacConkey, with self-defense classes for women at USA Martial Arts Bluff Park Dojo, where she has done most of her martial arts training. Campbell has trained in every martial art that the dojo offers, including karate, aikido, judo, jiu jitsu and iaido — the art of the sword. MacConkey and Campbell’s parents, Shane and Valerie Campbell, said they were excited to see all of her hard work pay off. “To have something pay off after all that hard work, that was my biggest happiness for her,” her father said. “She climbed up the mountain and reached it, so to speak.”

Campbell said she has been to the national tournament four times and lost a match the first time she competed. “It was really tough, but Sensei MacConkey was kind of like my rock, and he’s always helped me push forward, “ Campbell said. Losing was no fun, “but now that I’ve pushed past that and gotten to where I want to be, it’s been worth all those years of failures and not making it,” she said. She has seen martial arts help so many people and give them confidence in what their bodies can accomplish, she said. Even though there’s a lot of physicality involved, martial arts is mostly mental, Campbell said. “Martial arts, I’d say, is 90% mental,” she said. “A lot of it is learning to control not only how your body is moving physically, but how to overcome your fears, your insecurities and how to push past when things get really tough. You learn to push through that and accomplish your goals.” After she graduates high school, Campbell said she will major in Greco-Roman studies after finding a love for Latin when she decided to take a class at her high school. She loves poetry and decided to take a Latin class on a whim to see if she’d like it, she said. “I don’t know, I just fell in love with all of that,” Campbell said. “I hope to one day be a Latin teacher and hopefully take that love that I found and help someone else find it, too.” She’s looking to attend either Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, or the University of Denver. Campbell is set to represent the United States in a tournament in Venice, Italy, in December.

Arden Campbell, 17, right, spars with Colby Bagwell at USA Martial Arts Bluff Park Dojo. Photo by Erin Nelson.


December 2021 • B5

7th grade Jags overcome odds, make it to title game By KYLE PARMLEY This year’s Berry Middle School seventh grade football team didn’t end up with the ultimate prize at the end, but that does nothing to discount the progress the Jaguars made this fall. Berry put together an undefeated regular season, winning the South division to advance to the Metro championship game. On Oct. 13, the Jags fell to Pizitz 40-12 in the final game of the year, as they finished as the league runner-up. But getting to that point was a great accomplishment, according to Berry’s coach. Entering the summer, most of the team had never played tackle football before. “You just didn’t know what to expect,” head coach Rusty White said of the season. “They just continued to work hard over the summer, continued to learn the plays and learn fundamentals.” That work paid off. Once the Jags beat Bragg Middle in a season-opening jamboree game, White knew the team had a chance to put together a good season. And behind the likes of All-Metro players quarterback Hudson Hibbard, running back and linebacker CJ Cowley, running back and defensive end Joseph Hall, tight end and linebacker Isaac Eaker and a host of others, Berry went on a roll. Berry opened the schedule with a 10-point win over Mountain Brook, blew out Homewood and knocked off Oak Mountain 22-12. The Jags had their lone shutout of the season in a 24-0 win over Liberty Park before thrashing Thompson 32-12. The most thrilling win of the season came against crosstown rival Bumpus. The Jags rallied and defeated Bumpus 42-40 in triple overtime. They then defeated another local rival, Simmons, 26-20 to cap off the regular season. White was impressed with the way his guys overcame adversity throughout the season, in

Pizitz’s Will Bochnak (9) moves toward Berry’s CJ Cowley (26) in the second half of the seventh grade Metro championship football game Oct. 13 at Spain Park High School’s Jaguar Stadium. Photo by Erin Nelson.

the way of key injuries and tough games. “It’s a really unique group because they get along so well, had great team chemistry and worked so hard and that contributed to the season they had,” he said. “I love all the teams I’ve coached, but this one hands down is a special group, because they overachieved based on their experience [entering the season]. I’m very proud of them for that.”

The way the team progressed from start to finish and kept progressing is something White will use as a teaching experience in future seasons. “I can talk about this 2021 team and how they fought through adversity,” he said. “They kept grinding and stayed positive and they played a really good Pizitz team in the championship game.”

2021 Results Mountain Brook.................... W 22-12 Homewood.............................W 30-14 Oak Mountain........................ W 22-12 Liberty Park........................... W 24-0 Thompson.............................. W 32-12 Bumpus....................W 42-40 (3 OT) Simmons...............................W 26-20 Pizitz........................................L 40-12

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B6 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Lady Jags fueled by low expectations By KYLE PARMLEY Mike Chase doesn’t mind the underdog role. In fact, he embraces it. After several years being at or near the top of the totem pole in Class 7A, not much is expected from the Spain Park High School girls basketball team this year from the outside world. The Lady Jaguars want to exceed those expectations. Spain Park has dealt with more roster attrition than normal. In addition to the normal graduating seniors, the Lady Jags have also lost a few players who transferred schools and a few others who excel in other sports and chose to exclusively focus on them. With that being said, the Lady Jags will move forward with what they have, which is a team full of players willing to compete each and every game. “I’ve got kids that will listen to everything I tell them to do,” said Chase, the Spain Park head coach. “They’ll run through a brick wall. We’re going to be competitive.” One thing Chase believes will make a difference this season is his four seniors. Those seniors have been in the program for several years and know exactly what Chase expects from his teams. Camille Chase, Kerri Barnes, Paxton Gillipsie and Alex Baskin will lead this year’s team on and off the court. Camille has been a contributor for a few years and will need to have a strong year on both ends of the floor to give the Lady Jags a chance, but the other three will have their chance to make a significant impact as well. Their coach believes

they could have started and done well for many other teams throughout the state the last couple years. “They don’t have a lot of experience on the floor, but I’ve got four 17- and 18-year-old kids that are really good in the weight room, really tough, physical, completely bought in to what I’m saying, and they like each other,” Mike Chase said. Over the summer, Spain Park played some of the top teams in the state, competing well against Hazel Green, Hoover, Sparkman, Bob Jones and others. “Everybody thinks we’re going to be down, but I just like that situation, and I think our kids like that situation,” Chase said. The in-season schedule isn’t any easier. The Lady Jags took on Sparkman to begin the season and face McGill-Toolen, Mortimer Jordan, Hoover and Homewood in non-area play. They also host the Chevron Classic and play in a tournament in Florida, which will provide quality competition as well. Chase said one of the most difficult aspects of any season is playing in Area 6, which features Hewitt-Trussville, Vestavia Hills and Gadsden City. Hewitt-Trussville was in the state championship game last year, and Vestavia Hills appears primed to make a run at it this year. But Chase believes his team has plenty of room to grow and wants nothing more than to snag one of those top two spots in the area and advance to the playoffs. “We could get to the playoffs and easily be under .500 [record wise],” Chase said. “We have more growth in us than some other teams do.”

Spain Park’s Camille Chase (24) dribbles the ball while being guarded by Hoover’s Devon Davidson (4) in a December 2020 game. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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December 2021 • B7

Lady Bucs shooting for championship repeat Hoover’s Reniya Kelly (10) shoots a layup during the AHSAA Class 7A girls state semifinal game against Auburn at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Bartow Arena on March 2. The Lady Bucs defeated Auburn 55-36 to advance to the state championship game. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By KYLE PARMLEY The Lady Bucs are ready to run it back. That is the goal this season for the Hoover High School girls basketball team. Hoover was the class of the field last season, dominating nearly every opponent it faced, finishing with a 32-1 overall record and running away with the Class 7A state championship. With its rout of Hewitt-Trussville in the final, the Lady Bucs won their third state title in the last five years. But in each of those two previous attempts at defending their crown, the Lady Bucs have slipped up the following year and fallen short. “Every time we win, we lose the next year,” Hoover head coach Krystle Johnson said. “They’ve got to make sure they’re doing everything in their power to not let it happen again.” All the pieces are there for Hoover to be able to go back-to-back. The biggest key will be staying healthy. Johnson counted up six players who have dealt with significant injuries since the summer. Playing without many top players during the summer will pay off in the long run, Johnson believes, as several younger girls got the opportunity to step up and perform during those summer contests. Aniya Hubbard is one of those players coming off injury, recovering from a second ACL injury. Hubbard, a senior who recently signed with Florida Atlantic University, will get one final season with Reniya Kelly. The two have formed a nearly unstoppable tandem over the last three years.

“You can tell they’re excited, but also sad,” Johnson said. “Having them out there together, with their energy, they play so well together; that’s unmatched.” Johnson said the duo has intentions of going out on a high note. Hoover won the 2018-19 state title when Kelly was an eighth grader and Hubbard was a freshman, then won another title last season. They hope to make it three as a tandem. The Lady Bucs have three seniors this season, in Hubbard, Devon Davidson and Jayla Harris. Hubbard has starred for three years now, while Davidson played a big role on last year’s team.

“She can handle the ball, shoot when needed and play good defense,” Johnson said of Davidson. “She’s one of those returners who can do whatever we ask.” Johnson said Harris has been working on her game as well and is a more confident player on the floor this year. Lina Kouchis and Layla Etchison are players who came on strong last season and are primed for big campaigns again. Kouchis has been working to become a better allaround player to go along with her deft shooting touch. Etchison is on the mend and is an intense defender when she’s on the floor.

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There are a few other impact juniors on the team, including forward Kristen McMillan. She has become a more versatile player and is shooting the ball better, according to Johnson. Alanah Pooler is another forward who transferred in from Spain Park and has fit well with what the Lady Bucs do. She plays in the paint primarily but possesses the ability to guard any position on the floor. Alicia Reyes is working her way back from injury as well and provides depth in the frontcourt. Jamiyah Hill is also recovering from an injury. Kamryn Lee, a sophomore, has a bright future at Hoover, and Johnson wants her to show more belief in

herself. Ariana Peagler and Jillian Clark-Williamson are talented sophomores, while freshman Layla Cannon will get varsity minutes this year as well. Hoover’s schedule is loaded, as the Lady Bucs take on tough local teams like Vestavia Hills and Hewitt-Trussville, while also facing a handful of top-tier out-of-state teams. Their flaws will be exposed quickly, but that’s not a bad thing. “Whatever we need to figure out, we need to figure it out early, so that when we get to the playoffs, we can focus on what we need to focus on, which is winning state,” Johnson said.

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B8 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Youthful Bucs eager to prove themselves Hoover’s Brodin Grady (11) shoots a layup while being guarded by Oak Mountain’s Wilder Evers (4) in the AHSAA Class 7A boys Northwest Regional final at Tom Drake Coliseum at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville on Feb. 25. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By KYLE PARMLEY From year one to year two of Scott Ware’s tenure as the head coach of the Hoover High School boys basketball team, the Buccaneers want to continue their upward trend. Last year, Hoover put together a solid season, rattling off nine straight wins in the middle of the season, winning the Class 7A, Area 5 tournament and advancing to the Northwest Regional final with a 20-9 record. But if the Bucs are to build off that in the 2021-22 campaign, they will do it with a largely new cast of players. Hoover has four seniors this year and a limited amount of returning experience. However, Ware has been encouraged by what he saw over the summer and in the preseason, leading him to believe the Bucs have a chance to be a good team once again. “I really like this group of guys,” Ware said. “They like each other; they play hard for each other. This summer, we tried to build a little bit of culture with understanding that our success is going to come with numbers.” What he means by that is Hoover will not rely on one or two primary scorers this season to get the job done and lead the team to victory. It will take contributions from everyone to shoulder the load. “We should be pretty deep and play a bunch of young guys and really try to get after you on the defensive end,” Ware said. Brodin Grady and Brandon Foster possess much of the returning experience for the Bucs. Grady has started the past two years, and the 6-foot-5

forward leads the team by example and with his words. “He’s always been our rock in the middle [of the paint],” Ware said. “We refer to him as our hard

work guy. He’s going to rebound, take charges, dive on the floor and give you everything he’s got every night.” Brandon Foster was a big


contributor last year and is expected to be again in his final season. Ware said he expects Grady and Foster to provide an abundance of minutes and strong leadership.

Christian Bryant and T.Q. Richardson are the other two seniors. Bryant can stretch the floor with his shooting range and brings plenty of energy, while Richardson can score at a high level. Jaylen Carrington is making the leap after a strong junior varsity season and will man the point guard position. Ware called him a floor general who understands the game well. Elijah Herron and Noah McAfee are two other juniors who can shoot the ball with precision. Garian Denson is an energetic player off the bench as well. Salim London and Jarrett Fairley have impressed coaches over the summer and are set to both play up on the varsity team as freshmen. Trent Hogan, Jeremiah Giddens and Jake Hatch also are expected to provide stability for the Bucs. “I don’t know that we’re going to have that one guy that you have to shut down,” Ware said. “We’ve got several guys that are capable. It could be a different guy every night, and from a coach’s perspective, that’s tougher to guard.” Hoover took on the likes of Huffman, Ramsay and Oxford in November and then faced Spain Park, Shades Valley, Vestavia Hills and other solid opponents before jumping into Area 5 play against reigning state champion Oak Mountain, Thompson and Tuscaloosa County. Ware expects his team to progress throughout the year, as the youthful roster gains experience and learns how to win. “How long we get to play this year will be determined on how well we come together and how our approach is,” he said.

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December 2021 • B9

New-look Jags seek to improve each day Spain Park’s Colin Turner (25) shoots a layup during the AHSAA Class 7A boys Northeast Regional final against Huntsville at Pete Matthews Coliseum at Jacksonville State University on Feb. 24. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By KYLE PARMLEY The Spain Park High School boys basketball program put together one of its best seasons in program history last year, reaching the state final four and coming just shy of an appearance in the state championship game. If the Jaguars have intentions of replicating that kind of success once again this season, they will have to do so in a slightly different fashion after losing eight seniors to graduation. “We’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to have to fill roles and figure it out, but there’s a lot of opportunities for guys to grab spots,” Spain Park head coach Chris Laatsch said. Two guys who aren’t young, though, are Colin Turner and Josh Harrington, who will be third-year starters and were key components to the Jags’ success each of the last two seasons. Laatsch is leaning heavily on both of them for a high level of on-court production and off-court guidance. “They’ve been in a lot of battles and experienced a lot of things,” Laatsch said. “They’re great leaders and hard workers and bought into what we’re doing, so they’ll do their part in trying to carry the mail as much as they have to, but also leading and helping the guys fill their roles.” Turner, who recently signed with the University of North Georgia, has continued to elevate his game. The 6-foot-9 forward has worked on expanding his range and getting stronger. “He’s really developing into an allaround player instead of just a backto-the-basket guy,” Laatsch said.

Harrington’s capabilities as a point guard and shooter will allow the Jags to play a similar brand of offense this year. “We’ll still be versatile and play with a lot of pace on the offensive end, in transition and half court, and keep the ball moving quick and keep pressure on the defense,” Laatsch said. Zach Gray and Pierson Cole are the only two other players returning that played a good bit for the varsity team a year ago. Laatsch is counting

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on Gray to have a great season, citing his talent handling the ball and his improvement on the defensive end. Sam Wright and Chase James are two others facing an opportunity to take hold of a significant role for the Jags. Ben Corley, Chantz Pickett, Solomon Robinson, Hunter Davis and Andrew Nails give the Jags eight seniors in the program. Chad Pickett, Evan Houser and Hunter Herritt are juniors. Korbin Long, Alex Williams and Braylon Bernard

are sophomores. One of the reasons Spain Park was so successful last year was the team’s unity and collective hatred for losing. Laatsch believes this team can accomplish great things if it can establish those traits again. “This group’s got some talented kids, but we’ve got to develop the oneness and the competitiveness and those things,” Laatsch said. “We’re going to have learn and grow into it. This team can be good enough to make some type of run.”

Spain Park’s non-area schedule includes Oak Mountain, ClayChalkville, Hoover, Homewood, Ramsay and McAdory. The Jags also host the Jag Classic and head to Florida for another tournament before diving into Area 6 play against Vestavia Hills, Hewitt-Trussville and Gadsden City. “They’ll do what they’ve been doing all spring and summer, and that’s get better every day,” Laatsch said. “If they do that, we’ll see how good that is by the end.”

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B10 • December 2021

Hoover Sun

Football Highlights Photos by Barry Stephenson

Above: Hoover wide receiver RJ Hamilton (8) has returned from injury and has made an immediate impact on the Buccaneers’ offense. He was a big key in the Oct. 22 win over Thompson, grabbing nine passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Left: Hoover tight end Jabari Gaines (4) came up with the critical catch in the same game. He caught an 8-yard pass from quarterback Bennett Meredith to put the Bucs ahead for good. He caught four passes for 18 yards overall in the game. Right: Hoover wide receiver RJ Hamilton (8) turns upfield after a reception in the Bucs’ Oct. 22 game against Thompson. Far right top: Hoover linebacker DJ Estes (5) got the Bucs’ playoff run started on the right note, opening up the scoring in the blowout win over Sparkman in the first round of the playoffs. He scored on a 12-yard interception return in the 56-14 victory. Far right bottom: Hoover running back Ahamari Williams (1) has been a consistent force for the Bucs’ offense all season long. He had a strong game in the playoff win over Sparkman, rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.

Hoover High celebrates Signing Day By KYLE PARMLEY Hoover High School recognized seven student-athletes as part of National Signing Day on Nov. 10. From the baseball team, Conner Prothro signed with Central Alabama Community College, and Lucas Steele signed with Samford University. Aniya Hubbard will play college basketball at Florida Atlantic University. Charles Morris signed to run cross-country at North Alabama. Ryan Harris will play golf at Birmingham-Southern. From the track and field teams, Carter Ellis will head to Samford and Kirsten Leonard signed with Anderson.

Photo courtesy of Hoover High School.

ITT_HooverSun copy.pdf HooverSun.com



3:21 PM

December 2021 • B11









At Birmingham Water Works, we work for you, our rate-paying customers, to deliver the best water service at an affordable price. After receiving public comment, the Birmingham Water Works Board has approved our 2022 budget, which will result in a 3.9% rate increase. The rates we pay for water cover the increasing costs of filtering and delivering this exceptional necessity — from replacing aged pipes in our system to putting the people in place to ensure a reliable water supply and responsive attention to your service needs. We’re truly in this together.



B12 • December 2021

Hoover Sun Bumpus Middle School eighth grader Cameron Rockett qualified for the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour Tournament of Champions in December. He is coached by Chip Thomas of Blackburn Golf Academy at Greystone Legacy. Photo courtesy of John Rockett.

Spain Park head coach Shawn Raney high-fives his players as they come off the field during a game against Oak Mountain on Sept. 30. Raney resigned as head coach following a nine-year tenure with Spain Park. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Raney resigns as Jaguars coach By KYLE PARMLEY After nine years leading the Spain Park High School football program, Shawn Raney has resigned as head coach, the school system announced Nov. 5. Spain Park compiled a 54-43 overall record during Raney's tenure, but the Jaguars struggled to a 2-8 campaign this season, the worst mark in program history. “Coach Raney has done an excellent job serving SPHS students and the community, and the administration would like to thank Coach Raney for his dedication to the school and the football program,” Hoover City Schools said in a statement. “The school wishes him success in his future endeavors. A search for Coach Raney’s replacement will take place in the near future.” Raney took over ahead of the 2013 season and led the Jags to the playoffs in four of his first five years, including a region title and run to the Class 7A state championship game

in 2015. Spain Park failed to post a winning season or make the playoffs in each of the last four years. This fall, Spain Park got off to a good start with a 37-13 win over Huntsville in the season opener, but the Jags were unable to build on it, losing seven straight games after that. They did wrap up Region 3 play with a 35-7 win over Tuscaloosa County before falling to Hueytown in the regular season finale. Raney maintained a positive attitude throughout the year, even as the losses piled up. After the Tuscaloosa County win, he said, “You look for small wins, you keep the kids involved, keep everything going and we’ve been able to do that. That’s a big credit to our coaches and kids.” Before coming to Spain Park, Raney coached in both the high school and college ranks. He was the defensive coordinator at Hoover for three years and also spent time at Oak Mountain. Prior to that, he spent time as a position coach at UAB and Iowa State.

Bumpus 8th grader Cameron Rockett having big year in golf Bumpus Middle School eighth grader Cameron Rockett is having a strong year in golf. He won two Southeastern Junior Golf Tour events, recently representing the West team at the annual SJGT Cup and qualifying for the Tournament of Champions in December. At the SJGT Cup, Cameron hit a hole in one on the 11th hole to highlight a match win with his partner, Tyler Watt of Huntsville.

Earlier this year, Cameron shot a 65 to win by 10 shots at the Southern States Notah Begay Sectional. On the SGJT tour this year, as of late October, he has a scoring average of 74, with two wins and a second place and fourth place finish. He is coached by Chip Thomas of Blackburn Golf Academy at Greystone Legacy. – Submitted by John Rockett.


December 2021 • B13

Varsity Sports Calendar BASKETBALL HOOVER Dec. 3: vs. Spain Park. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6: Boys vs. Shades Valley. 7 p.m. Dec. 9: @ Vestavia Hills. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m. Dec. 10: Boys vs. Bessemer City. 7 p.m. Dec. 11: Girls vs. Woodward Academy. 5:30 p.m. Fayetteville, Georgia.

boys at 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 14: @ Hewitt-Trussville. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 11: Boys vs. Hazel Green. 7 p.m. Plainview High School.

Dec. 16-18: Girls at Big Orange Classic. Hoover High School.

Dec. 13: @ Tuscaloosa County. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 13: vs. Oak Mountain. 4 p.m. Oak Mountain Lanes.

Dec. 17: Boys vs. McGill-Toolen. 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 17: Boys @ Hueytown. 7 p.m.

Dec. 20: Boys vs. Demopolis. 4:30 p.m. Wallace State Community College.

Dec. 20-22: Boys at Steel City Classic. Birmingham CrossPlex.

Dec. 15: Warrior Classic. 9 a.m. Oak Mountain Lanes.

Dec. 22: Boys vs. Clay-Chalkville. 4:30 p.m. Wallace State Community College.

Dec. 20-22: Girls at Chevron Classic. Spain Park High School.

Dec. 27-29: Boys at Big Orange Classic. Hoover High School. Dec. 27-29: Girls at Ball-N-Prep National Showcase. Hazel Green High School. SPAIN PARK Dec. 3: @ Hoover. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 2: vs. Mountain Brook. 4 p.m. Bowlero Riverview. Dec. 7: vs. Woodlawn. 4 p.m. Vestavia Bowl.

Dec. 17-18: St. Nick Duals. TBD. Georgia. Dec. 28-29: Heart of Dixie Classic. TBD. SPAIN PARK Dec. 10-11: Swede Umbach Invitational. Auburn High School. Dec. 4: Carrollton Trojan War Duals. Carrollton, Georgia.


Dec. 9: vs. Oxford, James Clemens.


Dec.14: vs. Gardendale, Auburn.

Dec. 27-29: Arnold Tournament. Panama City, Florida.

Dec. 2: vs. Mountain Brook, Moody. 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 17-18: Pelham Invitational. Pelham High School.


Dec. 3-4: Catholic Duals. TBD. Louisiana.


Dec. 7: vs. Oak Mountain. 4 p.m.

Dec. 20-21: Trey Culotta Invitational. New Orleans.

Dec. 7: Panther Classic. TBD. The Alley (Gadsden)

Dec. 9: vs. Jasper. 5 p.m.

Dec. 8: vs. Mortimer Jordan. TBD.

Dec. 11: Pepperell Dragon Duals. TBD. Georgia.

Dec. 7: Boys vs. Thompson. 1 p.m. Legacy Arena.

Dec. 13: vs. Thompson. TBD.

Dec 14: @ Thompson. 5 p.m.

Dec. 10: vs. Homewood. Girls at 6 p.m.,


Dec. 15: vs. Vestavia Hills. 5 p.m.

INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD Dec. 5: Magic City Invitational. Birmingham CrossPlex. Dec. 12: Holiday Invitational. Birmingham CrossPlex.

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B14 • December 2021

Hoover Sun Left: Spain Park’s Audrey Rothman (8) spikes the ball in the Class 7A state championship game against McGill-Toolen. Below: Spain Park’s Lilly Johnson (1) sets up the ball for Rothman (8), in the foreground. In the final, Lilly Johnson racked up 22 assists and 12 digs in a scrappy effort.


CONTINUED from page B1 and they were determined from that moment on, from offseason to summer and in August and September. They had one vision and they played like it for four months. I couldn’t be more proud,” Bowen said following the match. Over the last five years, Rothman put together a varsity career that will wrap up as one of the best in state history. She capped it off with 24 punishing kills and 12 digs in the final and was named the state tournament MVP. While she may command much of the spotlight, far be it from her to handle herself as anything less than the ultimate teammate. That was never more evident than late in the second set, with Spain Park backed up against the wall. With the set tied 22-22, Rothman chased down a ball headed for press row. Instead of conceding the point, Rothman lunged over the table and not only made contact, but saved the ball back into a position for Spain Park to ultimately win the point. “It’s our standard,” Rothman said. “There’s nothing going through your mind other than it’s your responsibility to your team [to go after that ball].” The Jags went on to a 25-23 win in that second set following a 26-24 victory in the first. McGill-Toolen led much of the third set, but that did not deter the Jags. They stormed back to win 25-23 and sweep the match. “We’ve had some special groups and this group is really gritty and they played with a lot of guts,” Bowen said. In the final, Lilly Johnson racked up 22 assists and 12 digs in a scrappy effort, while Bella Halyard had 10 assists and 7 digs. Libero Brooklyn Allison finished with 14 digs and 7 assists. Emily Breazeale, a strong offensive option, tallied 11 kills to go along with 7 digs. Spain Park (47-4) lost just one set in the postseason and proved its mental toughness in the final by winning each set by just two points. “We practice that every day,” Bowen said. “We practice being down, we practice facing adversity, how to overcome adversity. Practice prevailed today.” The season was not without its challenges.

An injury to Halyard early in the season forced a couple other players to step into bigger roles, but it forced the Jags to grow together as a team. “Everyone knows their role and nobody has a problem with their role,” Allison said. Following the match, Breazeale and Rothman laid out the three characteristics the Jags live by throughout the year: grit, dominance and relentless energy. Breazeale added another word to that list as well. “We really showed that we love each other,” she said. Halyard, Paige Ingersoll, Rothman, Brooke Gober and Olivia Myers capped off their high school careers by helping bring the program its first title and the first in Bowen’s coaching career as well. “I’m not shocked, but it’s this feeling of we did what we set out to do,” Bowen said. “I knew if they played their best, nobody could beat them.” The Jags reached the final with a pair of wins

the day prior. They took care of business in its first match, knocking off Enterprise in straight sets (25-16, 25-22, 25-21). They then left little doubt in the semifinals, cruising to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-10, 25-19) win over Sparkman. Spain Park notched many big wins throughout the season, including winning its own HeffStrong Tournament. The Jags won the Area 6 regular season and tournament titles, and came out on top in the North Regional. At the regional, Spain Park beat Hoover 3-1 in the opening round. The following day, the Jags beat Grissom 3-0 and defeated Thompson 3-0 to earn the top seed from the North. A special season could not have ended in a more fitting way. On championship point, Allison knew where she was going with the ball, setting a perfect ball to the outside of the court, where Rothman put the hammer down one last time in a Jags uniform. She made good on her word. “Perfect,” Bowen said.


December 2021 • B15

Celebrations Have a wedding announcement? Email Jon Anderson at janderson@ starnesmedia.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

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Feltus - Langston Mr. and Mrs. Lane Smith Feltus of Natchez, Mississippi, and Rebecca Wolfersheim Feltus of Fairhope announce the engagement of their daughter, Molly Alyne Feltus, to Dalton Shriver Langston, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Earl Langston III of Hoover. The bride-to-be is a graduate of Trinity Episcopal High School in Natchez and the University of Alabama. She is employed by Forrester in Chicago. She is the granddaughter of Mrs. William J. Feltus III of Natchez, the late William J. Feltus III, Mr. William John Wolfersheim and the late

Mrs. William John Wolfersheim of Traverse City, Michigan. The groom is a graduate of Hoover High School and the University of Alabama. He is employed by IG Group in Chicago. He is the grandson of Mrs. Hubert Earl Langston and the late Mr. Hubert Earl Langston of Winfield and Mr. Richard Kelly and the late Mrs. Richard Kelly of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The wedding is scheduled for Dec. 31 at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Natchez, Mississippi. A reception will follow in Linden.


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