Page 1



Women In Business

From real estate and insurance to health care and fitness, our annual Women In Business feature is a chance to get to know some of the faces behind the success of many of the businesses in our area.

See page B1

All-South Metro

Construction of Hoover Fire Station No. 11 is underway at the corner of Stadium Trace Parkway and Langston Ford Drive. Photo by Erin Nelson.


New fire station, road work top Hoover capital projects By JON ANDERSON

Bucs, Jags combine for three players on first team of All-South Metro football team.

See page B14

INSIDE Sponsors .......... A4 News ................. A8 Business .......... A16 Schoolhouse.... A18


slimmed-down city budget means fewer capital projects for the city of Hoover in 2021, but there are several projects carrying over from previous years into the new one, including a brand new fire station. Signature Homes is building Fire Station No. 11 in Trace Crossings, saving the city at least a

couple of million dollars. The station is under construction at the corner of Stadium Trace Parkway and Langston Ford Drive, just south of the turn to Bumpus Middle School. Fire Chief Clay Bentley said he expects it should be completed and ready for use by May. The 8,800-square-foot station will include three pull-through bays, an emergency operations center for the Hoover Metropolitan

Women In Business............ B1 Sports............... B14

Complex, a classroom, kitchen, dining room, living area and sleeping quarters, Bentley said. The city has budgeted $300,000 to equip the station with things such as a generator, fuel tank, lockers for clothing and firefighting gear, and furniture. The Fire Department plans to staff the station with 11 firefighters — enough to have three

See PROJECTS | page A6

Retired fire chief Bradley left legacy of leadership, service



Family members, fellow firefighters and friends gather in the breezeway at Prince of Peace Catholic Church for the final salute with military honors and flag-folding ceremony for retired fire Chief Tom Bradley by members of the U.S. Navy Reserve on Dec. 10. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Hoover said goodbye to one of its icons in December with the passing of retired fire Chief Tom Bradley. The 92-year-old served as Hoover’s fire chief for more than 32 years — from 1976 until his retirement at age 80 in 2009 — died Dec. 5. Bradley had just beaten cancer for the third time, being declared

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cancer-free a couple of weeks before, when an infection set in and quickly took its toll due to his weakened immune system, his son Bill Bradley said. Bradley had a total of 60 years in the fire service industry, including almost three years with the Bessemer Fire Department, about 22 years with

See BRADLEY | page A26

A2 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

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January 2021 • A3


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A4 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

About Us Editor’s Note By Jon Anderson There were 366 days in 2020 (since it was a leap year). At times, it felt like we could have done without some of them. But we had them nevertheless. The question is: What did we do with them, and what will we do with the 365 days we have in 2021? We all have the same amount of time, unless our days are cut short by death. I’m sure some of us will make better use of that time than others. I regret some of the time wasted in 2020 — some of the things I put off doing that I’d really like to accomplish. I certainly didn’t waste any time eating that leftover Halloween candy (Milk Duds are delicious), but I did procrastinate on some other more important tasks and goals. It took me pretty much the whole year to unpack boxes from when I

moved to Hoover in January, and as of this writing, I still had not decorated any of the walls of my condo. (It’s truly a bachelor pad, but I’m going to get on that. I promise.) There are other goals I have that are too personal to mention here, but

suffice it to say that I want to take better advantage of those 365 days this year. I hope you’ll join me in doing that. This January edition of the Hoover Sun takes a look forward at some of the projects that city and school officials hope to tackle in 2021, as well as a recap of home building in Hoover in 2020 and a forecast of what is expected in the home building industry and other business sectors for 2021. I hope you all have a productive year — both professionally and personally. Make each day count.


Spain Park cheerleaders run out onto the court as the Jags take on the Mountain Brook Spartans at the start of the boys basketball game Nov. 17 at Spain Park High School. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Sun Publisher: Dan Starnes Director of Operations: Mindy Dent Community Editors: Jon Anderson Jesse Chambers Leah Ingram Eagle Neal Embry Ingrid Schnader Sports Editor: Kyle Parmley Digital Editor: Cathlene Cowart Design Editor: Melanie Viering Photo Editor: Erin Nelson Page Designers: Kristin Williams Ted Perry

Creative Director: David McMath Account Managers: Layton Dudley Ted Perry Graphic Designer: Emily VanderMey Client Success Specialist: Anna Bain Marketing Consultants: Warren Caldwell Don Harris Michelle Salem Haynes Business Administrator: Anna Jackson

For advertising contact: ggannon@starnespublishing.com Contact Information: Hoover Sun P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 dan@starnespublishing.com

Please submit all articles, information and photos to: janderson@starnespublishing.com P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253

Published by: Hoover Sun LLC Legals: Hoover Sun is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Hoover 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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January 2021 • A5


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A6 • January 2021

Hoover Sun Vehicles travel east on Morgan Road on Dec. 14, through a 3-mile stretch being widened from near Interstate 459 to the JeffersonShelby county line. Jefferson County hopes to complete the $23 million project by the end of 2022, but that date depends on a lot of things, Jefferson County Deputy Manager Cal Markert said. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Park Avenue. Due to delays associated with the bridge project, Markert was reluctant to give a timeframe for the rest of the Patton Chapel Road project. He noted that the contractor for the bridge project at one point projected the bridge would be complete by June 2020, but that timeline was incorrect because the contractor had to wait for water and fiber lines to be relocated. The county missed its Nov. 9 target bridge reopening date for several reasons, including issues with the road base, COVID-19 sicknesses and a breakdown at an asphalt plant. Regardless, the bridge contractor’s contract actually gave him until May to complete the bridge, and the state would not allow Jefferson County or Hoover to offer incentives for early completion, Markert said. Technically, the bridge was opened months in advance of the contract date set by the state.


CONTINUED from page A1 people on duty at all hours every day, including people to cover for off days. They are all already working for the city at Fire Station No. 6 near Deer Valley, Bentley said. Eight of the new firefighter positions were added in fiscal year 2019, and three more firefighters were added in 2020. The latter three were hired with help from a federal grant that covers 75% of their salaries and benefits for two years and 35% for the third year. The city must pick up the full cost in the fourth year. The Fire Department plans to move a truck with a 75-foot ladder from Station No. 6 to the new station, as well as a reserve rescue unit, reserve ladder truck and an inflatable boat with a trailer and some specialty water rescue equipment. The boat and water rescue equipment should come in handy for the 100-acre lake in Blackridge, along with lakes in Trace Crossings and the Cahaba River, where Signature Homes is building a canoe launch. The new fire station will handle calls in Trace Crossings and Blackridge and along Alabama 150 on the east side of Interstate 459 all the way to Hoover Toyota, Bentley has said. All of that area currently is covered by Fire Station No. 6, which is having its 14.7-squaremile territory cut roughly in half. Station No. 6 will continue to cover areas such as Lake Cyrus, Deer Valley and areas along South Shades Crest Road, Shelby County 93 and Shelby County 13 (south of Shelby County 52 — also known as Morgan Road).


Another city project is a new restroom facility and storm shelter at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex’s baseball/softball fields. The facility is needed to give people who use that field a closer restroom and a safe place to seek refuge when storms hit, said John Sparks, general manager for the Hoover Met Complex. Players and fans alike frequently need a place to go during lightning delays, but this facility will be designated as a tornado shelter as well, Sparks said. The shelter should accommodate roughly 100 people, he said. The City Council put $200,000 in the 2020 budget for that project, but it wasn’t enough, so the council appropriated another $150,000 to get it done in 2021. The city plans to buy a prefabricated building, and there will be minor site preparation, so Sparks hopes to have the shelter and restrooms in place before the SEC Baseball Tournament in May.

The city of Hoover is proceeding with a project to replace streetlights along U.S. 31. The existing streetlight fixtures are more than 30 years old and provide inadequate illumination, city records show. Photo by Jon Anderson.


The city is also proceeding with a project to replace streetlights along U.S. 31. The first phase of the project — a roughly 2-mile stretch between the Cahaba River and Patton Chapel Road South — was done in 2018. City officials hope to begin the second phase — a 1.35-mile stretch from Patton Chapel Road South to Interstate 65 — by this summer, Chief Operations Officer Jim Wyatt said. The estimated cost for phase two is $1.27 million, with the federal government picking up 80% of the cost and the city of Hoover paying 20%, Wyatt said. The existing streetlight fixtures are more than 30 years old and provide inadequate illumination, city records show. Many of the poles have been damaged, and many others are leaning. Replacement poles and spare parts for the luminaries are becoming difficult to obtain, records show. The new streetlights will use LED (light-emitting diode) technology that should have longer bulb life and reduced energy consumption, city officials have said. The new poles also will be taller (40 feet) and provide better and more consistent lighting for the road, which should improve safety, city officials said. It sometimes takes six to ninth months for a contractor to procure poles, but once installation begins, the project should take about six months, city officials said.


Jefferson County is making progress on a

project to widen Morgan Road from Interstate 459 past South Shades Crest Road to the Shelby County line, Jefferson County Deputy Manager Cal Markert said. Construction crews thus far have been focused on moving utilities and extending drainage culverts, he said. The county hopes to complete the $23 million project by the end of 2022, but that date depends on a lot of things, Markert said.


Jefferson County also is taking the lead on an $11 million project to widen and improve Patton Chapel Road and realign its intersections with Preserve Parkway and Chapel Lane into one four-way intersection near Gwin Elementary School. The replacement bridge over Patton Creek is now open, so the focus will shift to the intersection realignment, Markert said. Once the intersection is complete, workers will shift to the section of Patton Chapel between Crayrich Drive and Tamassee Lane, which is being widened to include a middle turn lane. The stretch of road between Tamassee and the Patton Creek bridge will not have a middle turn lane, but all of the new road will have a curb and gutter and a sidewalk on the south side of Patton Chapel. The end result will be a sidewalk all the way from U.S. 31 to a point just past the Chapel Creek subdivision, and the city eventually plans to extend the sidewalk further to connect with an existing sidewalk on


Jefferson County also is handling a project to add a second northbound lane on South Shades Crest Road between Willow Lake Drive and Alabama. As of late November, county attorneys were still working on agreements with CSX for the county to widen the bridge over the CSX railroad tracks. A timeline had not been established for beginning construction, Wyatt said. The widening is expected to cost $5.5 million, with Hoover and Jefferson County splitting the cost.


Construction of a 1.8-mile pedestrian path along Inverness Parkway from Valleydale Road to and through the Inverness Nature Park is expected to start in January and be completed in the fall of 2021, Shelby County Manager Chad Scroggins said. The project is costing $2.3 million, with 80% of the money coming from the federal government. Shelby County and Hoover each are contributing $234,630.


Hoover also plans to spend $200,000 to upgrade the traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Deo Dara Drive and hopefully complete that project by the end of February, weather permitting, Wyatt said. The city also plans to spend $2.3 million for paving and striping streets, $255,000 for replacement equipment for the sewer system, $230,000 for draining projects, $100,000 for sidewalk maintenance and $55,000 to replace mobile data terminals in 20 Hoover police vehicles. – Leah Ingram Eagle contributed to this story.


January 2021 • A7


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A8 • January 2021

Hoover Sun


Hoover homebuilders expect to hammer along in 2021 Contractors work on a newly constructed home by Embassy Homes in the Retreat at Highland Gate in the Lake Cyrus area Dec. 14. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By JON ANDERSON As interest rates continued to drop in 2020, the home building market in Hoover stayed strong, and the outlook for 2021 is the same, industry observers say. From Jan. 1 to Dec. 9, 2020, there were 374 permits issued to build new single-family homes in Hoover, said Marty Gilbert, director of Hoover’s Building Inspections Department. That’s a slightly slower pace than in 2019, when 426 single-family building permits were issued for the full 12-month period, Gilbert said. If the COVID-19 pandemic had not hit, last year’s number likely would have been eclipsed, Gilbert said. But permit requests slowed down in April and May. Despite a slight decline in building permit applications, new home sales in Hoover were 28% greater in the first 11 months of the year, climbing from 299 to 382, according to Multiple Listing Service data supplied by Signature Homes, Hoover’s leading builder. That was the first time Hoover had more than 300 homes sold in that 11-month period since 2016, Signature Homes President Jonathan Belcher said. It also was stronger growth than the 8% growth rate for the metro area as a whole. Of those 382 Hoover home closings, 295 (77%) were sold by Signature Homes, Belcher said. The number of existing homes in Hoover that were sold in the first 11 months of the year climbed 10% from 1,560 to 1,714, MLS data show. COVID-19 may have caused a temporary slowdown in the housing market, but it didn’t last long. Signature Homes sold fewer than 30 houses in Hoover in March, but by June, that number had climbed to more than 100 — the first time Signature Homes had sold more

than 100 homes in a single month in Hoover, Belcher said. There were fewer people coming out to look at new homes in 2020, but those who did were serious and ready to purchase, he said.


The drop in interest rates played a big part in that, Belcher said. The average 30-year fixedrate mortgage fell from 3.94% in 2019 to 3.15 in the first 11 months of 2020 and was at 2.77% for November, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp, known as Freddie Mac. But the driving factor for new home sales is

consumer confidence, Belcher said. “It didn’t matter that rates were low in March,” he said. People were concerned about the overall economy and keeping their jobs and income, he said. But once businesses that were closed began to reopen and people were called back to work, consumer confidence surged, Belcher said. The housing supply in Hoover is limited right now. There were only 212 homes for sale in the Hoover market in early December, and 66 of those were new homes, Belcher said. Homes in Hoover are selling quickly. Existing homes are selling in about a month on average, while new homes are selling in less than

two months on average, for an overall average of 1.2 months on the market, Belcher said. Such high demand, coupled with low interest rates, drives prices up. The average price of an existing home in Hoover climbed 8% from $330,000 for the first 11 months of 2019 to $356,000 for the first 11 months of 2020, MLS data shows. New home prices in Hoover actually declined slightly from $527,000 in the first 11 months of 2019 to $524,000 in the first 11 months of 2020, but that’s only because homes were a little smaller, Belcher said. The price per square foot for new homes actually increased

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January 2021 • A9

Empty lots and homes under construction are seen Nov. 15 in the 55-acre new subdivision at Abingdon by the River in Trace Crossings. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Hoover Housing New Home Closings ►January through November 2019: 299 ►January through November 2020: 382 Average Price Of New Home ►January through November 2019: $527,000 ►January through November 2020: $524,000 Average Price Per Square Foot ►January through November 2019: $171 ►January through November 2020: $176

from $171 to $176 in that time period, he said. The average cost of a new home in Hoover has climbed more than 20% since 2016, when the average price was in the $430,000s, Belcher said.


The vast majority of new construction in Hoover in 2020 — probably about 90% — has

been in the new communities along Stadium Trace Parkway, Gilbert said. There have been small numbers of new homes in other places such as Greystone, The Preserve, Lake Cyrus and Ross Bridge, he said. Most of the homes in the 840-home Lake Wilborn community have been built now, Belcher said. Signature Homes has sold all of its lots in Lake Wilborn and expects to have all of its homes there built by the end of 2021, including about 60 in the Green Trails part of it, Belcher said. Embridge Homes, the other builder in Lake Wilborn, had closed 45 sales there in the first 11 months of 2020 and still has 88 home sites to develop there that probably won’t be ready until the latter part of 2021, Belcher said. So a full buildout of Lake Wilborn likely won’t occur until early 2023, he said. Abingdon by the River, a Trace Crossings subdivision restricted to people age 55 and older, has 190 home sites, Belcher said. Signature Homes has sold more than 60 homes there, showing continued strong demand for age-restricted housing. About half a dozen homes there had been completed by early December, and the first residents were expected to move into Abingdon by the River by the end of 2020, Belcher said. He expects the subdivision will be fully built out by the end of 2022 or early 2023, with prices now ranging from just below $400,000 to the

mid $500,000s. Signature Homes also is beginning development work on the 53-acre Trace Crossings Village Center across from Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. That development will include 118 houses, and Belcher said he hopes to start building houses there by the end of September. Just a little further south, there are 85 lots left to develop in the northern section of Blackridge, which will have 327 homes when completed, Belcher said. A section called The Landing has sold out, and 59 home sites in the Highlands at Blackridge just recently opened up for sale. A bridge over a second set of railroad tracks leading to the southern part of Blackridge should be complete by early March, Belcher said. Blackridge South will contain 527 homes, 300 to be built by Signature Homes and 227 to be built by Harris Doyle Homes. Harris Doyle Homes already has received approval from the city of Hoover to begin work on the first phase. The average price of homes in Blackridge in 2020 was $784,000, Belcher said.


At The Preserve, development proceeded at a slower pace in 2020, with about a dozen homes being sold, said Merry Leach, the lead real estate agent for the Preserve. She attributed the slower pace to COVID-19 and a lot of rain in the winter months.

As of early December, there were only three lots left in the 14th phase of The Preserve, but 55 lots in the 11th phase recently opened up, Leach said. The 11th phase includes 23 single-level cottage homes to be built by Ridgecrest Properties and priced starting at $419,900, 24 villa lots with homes being built by Centennial Homes and eight estate-size lots along the Village Green park area. Other builders in the Preserve include Byrom Building Corp., Fargason Building Corp. and Hastings Construction. U.S. Steel, the developer of The Preserve, hopes to begin construction on the 15th phase, which will go all the way to Patton Chapel Road, in 2021, Leach said. The final phase of the Preserve, across Preserve Parkway and next to the Moss Rock Preserve nature park, will come last, she said. So far, roughly 450 of the 700 or so home sites in The Preserve master plan have been sold, Leach said. The average price has been about $680,000, though some have been in the million-dollar range, she said. Development also is continuing in places such as McGill Crossings, Lake Cyrus and the Glasscot sector of Ross Bridge. Gilbert said he expects 400 or more homes to be built in Hoover in 2021, but a lot depends on if interest rates remain as low as they are and how the economy responds to the new Joe Biden administration.

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A10 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

COVID-19 question marks linger for Hoover businesses in 2021 By JON ANDERSON

Some big-box vacancies in Hoover have recently been filled, while others have remained vacant, including the former Whole Foods Market next to PetSmart in Riverchase. The Whole Food Market closed in 2019. Photo by Erin Nelson.

The word for Hoover’s 2021 business forecast seems to be recovery. At least that is what city and business leaders say they hope will happen in the new year. The COVID-19 pandemic was a setback for the economy in 2020. The city’s sales tax revenues for fiscal 2020, which ended Sept. 30, came in at $83.7 million, according to preliminary and unaudited numbers. That was about $2 million less than original projections for the year and about $1 million less than actual sales tax revenues in fiscal 2019, said Tina Bolt, the city’s chief financial and information officer. The financial impact of COVID-19 ended up not being near as harsh as city leaders feared it might be in the spring, but it still caused a lot of heartache and grief, particularly in Hoover’s hospitality industry. Greg Knighton, Hoover’s economic developer, said he doesn’t have a crystal ball that will tell him what’s going to happen in 2021 but believes the Hoover economy is still strong. He doesn’t expect to see a lot of new commercial construction in 2021, though there is some on the horizon. There more likely would be infill of existing shopping centers and office complexes, he said. However, “COVID is just a big question mark behind what retailers are going to be doing,” Knighton said. “COVID is leaving a lot of question marks.” City leaders have been eager for a while to see redevelopment plans for parts of the Riverchase Galleria and Patton Creek shopping centers, but so far, the owners of those properties have not released any details or given an indication of exactly what they’re planning or when it might happen. The empty Sears department store at the Galleria is a prime target for redevelopment, but it has been tied up in a bankruptcy sale, adding to the complexity of multiple property owners at the mall, Knighton said. Patton Creek has kept most of its big-box


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January 2021 • A11

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What are my options for Senior Living? This rendering shows a bird-eye view of a $3 million, 2-acre Village Green entertainment district that Broad Metro plans to develop in Stadium Trace Village. Current plans include an amphitheater for concerts, plays and other performances, an artisan market, about six executive putting greens, a children’s play area with a Buccaneer ship and an indoor/ outdoor restaurant space that includes barbecue and pizza vendors. Rendering courtesy of Chambless King Architects.

retail space full, but some smaller retailers have been moving to other places around town, leaving parts of the center vacant. Knighton said city officials expect to see Patton Creek move in the direction of becoming more of a multiuse destination, perhaps with more residential or office components. Some big-box vacancies have recently been filled, including Dick’s and Golf Galaxy in the former Academy Sports + Outdoors space at The Village at Lee Branch and Cazboy’s filling the Big Lots space in The Plaza at Riverchase. But several others remain, including the former locations of Steinmart at Colonial Promenade Hoover, Whole Foods in Riverchase and Harvest Market in The Village at Brock’s Gap. The former Winn-Dixie grocery store at the corner of John Hawkins Parkway and Interstate 459 was slated to be replaced with a Stars & Strikes entertainment center (with a bowling alley, laser tag, bumper cars, arcade and bar) in 2020, but that deal fell through when the developer who had an option to buy the property couldn’t find enough other tenants to make the deal work, Knighton said. There also are large pieces of vacant commercial land in several shopping centers, including The Grove, The Village at Lee Branch and Tattersall Park. Filling large spots like those is difficult in today’s retail environment, when many retailers are closing big-box stores or replacing them with smaller ones. Knighton said he wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the city’s neighborhood shopping centers break up their large vacant spaces for smaller tenants. But filling up existing space likely will be the priority, he said.


The same is true for office space, he said. Several entities are renovating office space in Hoover. Harbert Realty Services has been marketing three buildings in Inverness Center North formerly occupied by Southern Company Services. Each is about 150,000 square feet, said West Harris, executive vice president for Harbert. Building 44 already has been renovated and leased to the FIS financial services company for a couple of years, Harris said. Next is Building 42, which is slated for a renovation that includes a new lobby, restrooms, elevators, conference and training center, gym and cybercafé, he said. Building 40 likely will be renovated after that, he said. The latter two likely will be used by multiple tenants, Harris said. The property includes a walking trail around a lake and a connection to the city of Hoover’s 77-acre Inverness nature park, which has a walking trail and disc golf course. The 500 Building at Meadow Brook Corporate Park also is being renovated, Knighton said. The COVID-19 business shutdowns that pushed many people to begin working from home have caused many businesses to re-evaluate their need for office space and the location of that space, Knighton said. Hoover, being a mid-sized market, could

gain some office tenants as a result, he said. The cost of doing business and cost of living in Hoover is favorable compared to other places around the country, he said. And Hoover is centrally located in the state and has quick access to two interstates, he said. Also, many companies are seeking to put offices in outlying areas instead of in large city centers, he said. Knighton and others are actively marketing Hoover as a good site for corporate headquarters, technology companies and “clean” light industrial or manufacturing businesses that don’t create a lot of air and noise pollution.


Meanwhile, there is some new commercial construction happening as well. Stadium Trace Village is doing incredibly well as a new neighborhood village center, Knighton said. “We’re very excited about it.” Construction of the Longhorn Steakhouse is well underway, and the restaurant should open early in the year, said Will Kadish, the Stadium Trace Village developer. Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar was scheduled to close on a 1.4-acre parcel for $1.185 million on Dec. 15, and Kadish said he hopes to have the 2-acre Village Green entertainment district open by this summer or fall. He plans to spend about $3 million developing the Village Green, which he said should include an amphitheater for concerts, plays and other performances, an artisan market, about six executive putting greens, a children’s play area with a Buccaneer ship, and an indoor/outdoor restaurant space that includes barbecue and pizza vendors. There also will be about 225 more parking spaces added to the 150 already in the development, Kadish said. His goal is to have the Village Green done by July, but it may be fall before it’s ready to open, he said. He also has a contract with Terra Equities to buy the vacant lot on the corner next to Aldi, with a plan for three buildings for a medical tenant, financial tenant and restaurant, totaling about 15,000 square feet, he said. He continues to talk with hotel operators about the parcels next to Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant and Bar, but there are a few hotel operators who control the brands he wants, and they so far haven’t been ready to do a deal, he said. Just down Stadium Trace Parkway, Trace Crossings resident Jamie Cato is proceeding with plans to build a brewery and tap room with live entertainment called the Brock’s Gap Brewing Co., just off Mineral Trace next to the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium parking lot. And across Interstate 459, Jubilee Joe’s owner Kashif “Kash” Siddiqui is still trying to fill up several retail spots in the 10,700-squarefoot strip center he recently built next to the Sprouts grocery store. Along U.S. 31 in the original part of Hoover, the new Hoover Crossings shopping center continues trying to find tenants to join Wingstop,

See BUSINESSES | page A12

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A12 • January 2021

Hoover Sun


CONTINUED from page A11 and LAH has broken ground for a new real estate office in the parking lot of Hoover Court. Across town, just off U.S. 280, another new small retail center called Cahaba Market is planned next to Tattersall Park and Cavender’s. The 12,600-square-foot strip center is being developed by D&G Development Group of Atlanta and will include a Dunkin’ doughnut shop and Five Guys Burgers & Fries, according to the company’s website. Greystone resident Tami Manofsky said she has signed a lease there for a 1,200-square-foot bicycle, skateboard and surf shop called Anatole’s. There are three other spaces in the center. The Cahaba Market is scheduled for “delivery” in the fall of 2021, according to D&G Development’s website. Greystone Chiropractic is moving from the Greystone Terrace shopping center to a new building in Tattersall Park and is expected to open in February. Another new commercial development expected to open in 2021 is the PetSuites Resort, a 14,240-square-foot pet boarding facility under construction on 2 acres near the CVS at Shades Crest Road. And work is proceeding on the relocation of Oak View Animal Hospital from Pelham to a 1.6-acre lot next to Christian Brothers Automotive at 1820 Southpark Drive.


Hoover’s 21 hotels also took a big hit in 2020 due to COVID-19 as people quit traveling. The worst time was in the spring when occupancy levels for most hotels in Hoover were running about 5 to 7% capacity, compared to a normal 80% percent springtime capacity, said Tynette Lynch, Hoover’s director of hospitality and tourism. Business has picked back up somewhat, but it’s still off, Lynch said. Hotels in the Hoover and Vestavia Hills area were at 32% occupancy from January to October of 2020, compared to 49% for the same period in 2019. When the Hoover Metropolitan Complex reopened for the summer and fall and sports

The 14,240-square-foot PetSuites boarding and grooming facility was still under construction at 2311 John Hawkins Parkway in Hoover on Dec. 8. The facility is scheduled to open in January 2021, said Rodney Payne, the construction superintendent for Maxus Construction. Photo by Jon Anderson.

tournaments were plenty, the limited-service hotels (those without restaurants and lots of meeting space) and restaurants got a big boost, Lynch said. But hotels with a lot of meeting space are still suffering greatly, she said. “The group business is what has slowed down,” Lynch said. “Travel for corporate meetings is almost nonexistent.” That meant a lot of furloughs for hotel workers, and a great majority of those have

turned into permanent layoffs, Lynch said. “Until the corporate business comes back, I think you’ll see few people being called back to work.” The Hoover Metropolitan Complex’s estimated economic impact on the Birmingham-Hoover area dropped from $49 million in fiscal 2019 to $35.7 million in fiscal 2020, according to numbers provided by Lynch. The complex was responsible for 45,331 hotel room

nights in fiscal 2020, compared to 62,195 room nights the year before, she said. Hotel bookings in Hoover are usually slower in the winter with fewer sports tournaments, but things have been even slower this year because people didn’t hold as many holiday parties and gatherings as usual, Lynch said. Bookings for January were slow, but hoteliers are hoping they will see some recovery as spring arrives, she said.



January 2021 • A13

Planning board denies sidewalk variance request By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 14 denied a request to waive a requirement for a 950-foot sidewalk on Heatherwood Drive at the entrance to the Heatherwood community off Caldwell Mill Road. Some Heatherwood residents said they didn’t want the sidewalk because they didn’t think it fit with the neighborhood. Some parts of Heatherwood have sidewalks, and some parts don’t, one resident said. This particular section of Heatherwood Drive is in Hoover, and plans call for five new houses to be built along that stretch, but an adjacent part of Heatherwood is in unincorporated Shelby County. Residents told Hoover’s planning commission that Shelby County Engineer Randy Cole had in the past informed Heatherwood residents that Shelby County would not put sidewalks in their community because of the cost and liability, and those who spoke at the meeting said they didn’t want them anyway. “There are no other sidewalks that would be connected to this sidewalk,” said Gail Greene, a spokeswoman for Heatherwood’s Architectural Review Committee. “This sidewalk would lead to nowhere. It makes no sense. … This is just a waste of money, and we should all be good stewards of our resources.” Hoover Councilman Mike Shaw, who represents the council on the zoning board, made the motion to deny the sidewalk variance request. Shaw said Hoover residents routinely ask for sidewalks and said some residents in the Altadena Woods community, which connects to Heatherwood Drive, want this sidewalk built. It could connect with a sidewalk that Shelby County is building along Caldwell Mill Road and potentially connect with Altadena Woods, Shaw said. “I think it would be a good thing,” he said.




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This space behind a fence at the Heatherwood Drive entrance to the Heatherwood subdivision off Caldwell Mill Road is being considered as the location for a sidewalk that would connect to Caldwell Mill Road. Photo courtesy of Chris Reeves, city of Hoover.

There still are a couple of homes along Heatherwood Drive in unincorporated Shelby County between this proposed sidewalk and Altadena Woods, but Shaw and Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice said they think something could be worked out with those homeowners and Shelby County to get sidewalks put there as well. Rice said Hoover city officials love sidewalks because they typically improve health and safety of communities and increase property values. Hoover, pending council approval, would be willing to pay for that sidewalk connection, Rice said. “We’ll make it happen. I think Shelby County will probably work with us on that.”


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Blood drive set at Hoover Rec Center to honor Mike Gilotti By JON ANDERSON LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is holding a blood drive in honor of the late Hoover resident Mike Gilotti at the Hoover Recreation Center on Jan. 29. The blood drive is being held roughly five years after Gilotti was killed outside his Lake Cyrus home when he found someone breaking into his vehicle in his driveway early one morning in January 2016. He was 33 with a wife and two children. LifeSouth plans to have at least two buses in the parking lot at the Hoover Rec Center for the blood drive from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., said Cindy Peek, a donor recruiter for LifeSouth and friend of the Gilotti family. Gilotti’s wife Heather, who now lives in south Alabama, will be returning to Hoover to be at the blood drive, Peek said. It’s a great opportunity to pay tribute to a man who served his country in the U.S. Army, including 15 Mike Gilotti served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, months as a tank commander in including 15 months as a tank commander in Iraq. He was killed outside his home in the Lake Cyrus Iraq, Peek said. community in January 2016, and prosecutors were At the same time, the rememunable to obtain a conviction against the suspects in the brance of him is helping save case. Photo courtesy of Heather Gilotti. lives, she said. “One pint of blood can save three lives,” she People with COVID-19 symptoms are asked said. LifeSouth will be following COVID-19 not to come. Donors must be at least 110 pounds and at guidelines outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Peek said. Work- least 17 years old, or 16 years old with parental ers and donors will be required to wear masks, permission. Donations typically take about 15 and donors will be separated from one another minutes, including filling out the paperwork, to follow social distancing guidelines, she Peek said. LifeSouth prefers for people to said. Also, blood donor seats will be cleaned register for the blood drive in advance at and disinfected between each donor, she said. lifesouth.org.



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A14 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

Above: Lights glisten against the evergreen tree as people gather at Hoover City Hall on Dec. 1 during the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony. Right: Braxton Weidman, 8, flips the lever to light the Christmas tree, joined by his sister, Lyla, 6, older brother Cason, 11, and Mayor Frank Brocato. Photos by Erin Nelson.

City celebrates socially distanced Christmas tree lighting By JON ANDERSON An estimated 200 to 250 people showed up at Hoover City Hall on Dec. 1 for the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. All guests were asked to wear masks and socially distance from one another to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease. Braxton Weidman, an 8-year-old third grader from Greystone Elementary School, flipped the switch to turn on the lights on the 43-foot-tall Christmas tree on the grassy area next to City Hall and along U.S. 31. Braxton was diagnosed with a brain tumor Sept. 15 and underwent surgery Oct. 5 at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis

to remove the tumor. He completed radiation treatments Dec. 1, according to Melanie Posey, the city of Hoover’s public information officer. Braxton was joined by his 6-year-old sister, Lyla, and 11-year-old brother, Cason, to flip the switch to light the city’s Christmas tree. The tree has an estimated 62,000 lights or more. After the tree was lit, Taylor Woodruff, a junior at Hoover High School, sang “Winter Wonderland” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Then, Spain Park High School freshman Hadley Carter sang “O Holy Night.” Judah Mayowa, a 2020 graduate of Hoover High School who now is majoring in song writing at the Berklee College of Music in

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Boston, followed that with “Silent Night” and was joined by Hoover High senior Abigail Shipley in a duet version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” Caitlyn McTier, Miss Hoover 2020, sang the national anthem. Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato encouraged everyone in the city to be mindful of what other people around them are going through in these challenging times and to reach out a helping hand when they can. People may have to socially distance this year, but that doesn’t mean people can’t be kind and show love to one another, he said. City officials handed out “kindness coins” to remind people to spread kindness throughout

the holiday season. Red Diamond provided complimentary hot chocolate and coffee during the chilly weather Tuesday night, and the city provided Little Debbie Christmas snack cakes. The city also provided families a kit to make a Christmas ornament at home. Santa Claus showed up on a Hoover fire truck and was available for pictures with children in the Hoover Library Theatre. Santa was “socially distanced” from the children because he was “stuck” in a fireplace on the stage of the Library Theatre. Guests also were invited to tour the newly renovated lobby inside City Hall, decorated by the Hoover Beautification Board.


January 2021 • A15

Mayor’s Minute

By Frank V. Brocato Happy New Year to everyon our right of ways. Federal one! We welcome 2021 perlaw allows them to do so. haps in a way we have never What we can do is put stangreeted a new year before in dards in place concerning how our lifetime. the poles look so they are uniNo doubt, the coronaviformly fashioned across the rus pandemic made 2020 a city. challenging year for all of us. In November, I issued an executive order that states we Everyone has been touched in some way. But I believe this will not accept applications for new year will bring new life small cell deployments in our neighborhoods until Jan. 1 or and new opportunities that will restore us not to noruntil the City Council takes further action. This allows malcy, but a way of life greater than before we ever heard of us to look at other cities and Frank V. Brocato COVID-19. how they are handling deployAs we go throughout 2021, you may notice ments in their neighborhoods. If need be, we some landscape changes taking place through- will extend that order until we feel we have out the city. I’m speaking specifically about processes in place to adequately address these poles that are going up to support new 5G matters. We are also reviewing our own city technology. Recently, such deployments have ordinances to see how far we can go in requirtaken place in the Trace Crossings and Chace ing companies to meet certain design specifiLake neighborhoods. More are expected. I can cations, such as location and height of these tell you — the poles are not an aesthetically facilities. pleasing sight, and I have heard from many of I want you to know we have heard your conyou voicing your displeasure with them. That cerns and are working hard to address them as is why I wanted to let you know how the city best we can. is addressing the matter. First, let me make it clear that as a local municipality, we cannot stop service providers from coming in and locating these facilities

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Kay Aldridge, left, and Ann Davis look at the clay sculpture of Aldridge’s late husband, Eddie Aldridge, at the home of retired Marine Col. Lee Busby, a Tuscaloosa-based artist, on Dec. 12. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Friends of Eddie Aldridge donate for bronze bust of nurseryman By JON ANDERSON Eddie Aldridge loved to sit on a bench at the public gardens off Lorna Road that bear his name and talk to people who were visiting there. Even though Aldridge died more than two years ago, people again will soon get to see his face after coming through the entrance gate. Mark Davis, a friend of Aldridge and member of the gardens’ advisory board, organized a fundraising drive to put a bronze bust of Aldridge just inside the entrance. Within 35 days, he collected $19,000 for the project. People were very eager to donate once they learned about the effort, Davis said. Another group that Davis helped create, the Alabama Fallen Warriors Project, took the lead on the Aldridge memorial bust. That group raises money to create bronze busts of military members from Alabama who died while on active duty since 9/11. While Aldridge wasn’t on active duty when

he died at the age of 85 in November 2018, he was a veteran. He served in the U.S. Army military police from 1953 to 1955. While Aldridge was still alive, Davis originally wanted to create a life-size statue of Aldridge sitting on a bench at the gardens, but the nurseryman was completely against the idea, his wife, Kay, said. Aldridge preferred for any money that would have gone to a statue of him to go to the gardens instead, she said. Kay Aldridge said she thinks Davis’ idea for a bronze bust is a great alternative. “I’m just thrilled to death with it.” The Alabama Hydrangea Society donated $3,000 to cover the cost of a bronze plaque to go with the bust, and there were 20 to 25 other donors, Davis said. Some paid $300 for a “Friends of Eddie Aldridge” brick paver that will go beside the bust. Retired Marine Col. Lee Busby, a sculptor from Tuscaloosa, designed and is sculpting the bust, and it will be cast in bronze at the University of Alabama Foundry.

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A16 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

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Medical West Brock’s Gap Health Center opened its doors Nov. 23. The health center takes up about 5,500 square feet of an 11,000-square-foot building at 1001 Brock’s Gap Parkway in The Village at Brock’s Gap. The staff includes Dr. Allyson Gilstrap, Dr. Jody Gilstrap and nurse practitioners Bonnie Moore and Kelly Petrovics. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 205-421-1032, medicalwesthospital.org/health-centers/ Medical-West-Brocks-Gap-Health-Center



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HooverSun.com The Pleasure Is All Wine has relocated from 2152-A Pelham Parkway in Pelham to a 2,460-square-foot space at 1581 Montgomery Highway, Suite 101, in Hoover next to the new location of Sounds Great Stereo. The new store opened Nov. 25. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. The owner is Lee McKinney, and the manager is Cassels Krebs. 205-985-4760, pleasureisallwine.com


Coming Soon 4

Wings R King plans to open in the former Waffle House location at 1535 Montgomery Highway.

A Dunkin’ doughnuts is planned for a new 12,600-square foot retail center proposed for construction at 5415 U.S. 280 next to Tattersall Park, to be called Cahaba Market. The strip retail center is being developed by D&G Development of Atlanta. dunkindonuts.com


Five Guys Burgers & Fries is planned for a new 12,600-square foot retail center proposed for construction at 5415 U.S. 280 next to Tattersall Park, to be called Cahaba Market. The strip retail center is being developed by D&G Development of Atlanta. fiveguys.com


Greystone resident Tami Manofsky has signed a contract to open a 1,200-square-foot bicycle, skateboard and surf shop called Anatole’s at 5413 U.S. 280, Suite 101, in a new 12,600-square foot retail center planned next to Tattersall Park to be called Cahaba Market. Anatole’s will sell and repair road bikes, mountain bikes, BMX bikes, skateboards, as well as sell biking, skateboard and surf apparel, Manofsky said. The shopping center, being developed by D&G Development of Atlanta, is not yet under construction.


PetSuites Resort plans to open a 14,240-square-foot pet boarding, grooming and nutrition facility on 2 acres at 2311 John Hawkins Parkway, next to the CVS at Shades Crest Road sometime in January, said Rodney Payne, the job superintendent for Maxus Construction, which is building the facility. The business will be able to accommodate up to 182 animals, according to information shared with the city of Hoover. petsuitesofamerica.com


Ben Williams plans to open a 2,700-square-foot hamburger, hot dog, beer and whiskey restaurant and bar called Whiskey Foxtrot Burger Dive in January at the former location of Jubilee Joe’s Cajun Seafood Restaurant in Lake Crest Plaza at 2341 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 119. Williams spent the past 13 years with Jason’s Deli, opening locations in Florida, Georgia and Illinois and, more recently, operating the Jason’s Deli locations in Inverness and Brookwood Village before they closed in 2020. His brother, Zac Williams, is a silent partner in the business. Ben Williams will run the restaurant.


News and Accomplishments Jack’s Family Restaurants, with a location at 3429 Lorna Road, recently donated $125,000 to the Alabama-based Kids to Love Foundation to help the foundation find “forever families” for children who are waiting to be adopted. Customers were encouraged to donate in person at Jack’s restaurants, online or via text message. Employees also conducted their own fundraisers to collect donations. 205-822-9870, eatatjacks.com


BBVA USA Bancshares, which has 637 11 bank locations in seven states including 1560 Montgomery Highway, 1789 Montgomery Highway, 2641 Valleydale Road, 105 Doug Baker Blvd., 5576 Grove Blvd. and 104 Inverness Plaza, is being acquired by PNC Financial Services Group for $11.6 billion. PNC plans to convert BBVA locations to the PNC brand. Once the acquisition is complete in the third quarter of 2021, PNC will have a presence in 29 of the nation’s top 30 markets. 205-297-1986, bbvausa.com Despite objections by some nearby residents, the Hoover City Council on Nov. 16 approved Brock’s Gap Brewing Co.’s request to open a tap room in a brewery it


January 2021 • A17 wants to construct at the intersection of Stadium Trace Parkway and Mineral Trace, next to the parking lot at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, and to have live, amplified outdoor entertainment. Cato agreed to limit the outdoor events to no more than two times per month, to cut off amplified outdoor music by 10 p.m. and all outdoor music by 11 p.m. Also, performances with amplified music would be limited to Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, holidays and special events. Indoor live performances will be more regular but will be smaller acts, not big bands, Cato said. Cato also agreed to hire off-duty Hoover police officers to provide security for outdoor events. The Hoover City Council on Nov. 16 voted 4-3 to deny the request of Keith Arendall of LAH Commercial Real Estate to rezone 1.4 acres at 2133 Lynngate Drive from a preferred commercial zone to a town house district to allow for the construction of eight town houses. Numerous nearby residents said they have had problems with other town houses and apartments in that area and preferred the property be left as a commercial district. 205-870-8580, lahcommercial.com


Plans for a 55,000-square-foot Stars and Strikes entertainment center in the former Winn-Dixie grocery store, 5201 Princeton Way, have fallen through, according to Greg Knighton, the city of Hoover’s economic developer. The developer who had a letter of intent with Stars & Strikes was not able to fill up the rest of the development enough to make his purchase of the property work, so the deal fell apart, Knighton said. The property is still owned by Brookwood Baptist Health, Knighton said. starsandstrikes.com


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Regions Bank and its partners were able to raise a record $1.2 million for charities across Alabama in 2020, even though they were not able to proceed with the Regions Tradition golf tournament due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Regions has locations at 2090 Parkway Office Circle, 1592 Montgomery Highway, 2531 John Hawkins Parkway, 3065 John Hawkins Parkway, 1849 Montgomery Highway, 2668 Valleydale Road, 5420 U.S. 280 and 102 Inverness Plaza. 800-734-4667, regions.com


Bin There Dump That, a residential-friendly dumpster franchise founded in Canada in 2001 and franchising in Canada and the U.S. since 2003, was recently ranked 246 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s prestigious Franchise 500 list. Chad Ezell’s Birmingham East franchise, 311 Applegate Lane, serves cities in the greater Birmingham area, including Hoover. 205-406-5850, birminghameast.bintheredump thatusa.com


Personnel Moves Realtor Ryan Grater has joined the Gwen Vinzant team at the Inverness office of RealtySouth, 109 Inverness Plaza. Grater has been with RealtySouth since July 2016. Prior to that, she served as the community relations and volunteer coordinator for the Grace Klein Community. 205-991-6565, gwenvinzant.com


Patrick Thomas, a multimedia journalist for ABC 33/40, 800 Concourse Parkway, Suite 200, left the station after 4½ years Nov. 25 to move to a job at Spectrum News 1 in Raleigh, North Carolina. 205-403-3340, abc3340.com


Anniversaries Gagliano Mortgage, 4500 Valleydale Road, Suite F, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a celebration with the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 10. 205-390-7041, birminghammortgagecompany.com


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A18 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

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

Superintendent search a top priority for school board in 2021 By JON ANDERSON As a new year dawns, one of the biggest tasks for Hoover City Schools in 2021 is to hire a new superintendent, school board President Deanna Bamman said. “There’s a lot going on, but we need to get a strong superintendent in place,” Bamman said. Her desire is to have someone selected to replace departing Superintendent Kathy Murphy by April 1, but that may be an aggressive timeline, she said. State law requires school boards to fill superintendent vacancies within 180 days. Murphy, who resigned to become president at Gadsden State Community College, agreed to stay with Hoover through the end of 2020, so that gives the Hoover school board until near the end of June to hire a permanent replacement. However, Bamman said there is too much happening in Hoover City Schools to wait that long. Bamman some one of the key things she would like to see in a new superintendent is someone with a proven track record of strong leadership. She also wants someone with high integrity, a positive and caring spirit, knowledge, practical mindset, accountability, strong oral and writing skills, and good interpersonal skills. Hoover’s next superintendent should be proactive, an advocate for all students, an effective communicator with different kinds of groups, someone who makes data-driven decisions and someone who is able to think outside the box, Bamman said. “That’s especially important right now,” Bamman said. “You’ve got to think outside the box because things aren’t normal. How can we

Construction work continues Nov. 19 on the new addition to Berry Middle School. The addition includes 10 classrooms, three science labs, a teacher workroom and an enclosed walkway. All the projects should be complete by the end of June. Photo by Erin Nelson.

educate these kids in a pandemic?” It also would be a plus to find someone who is familiar with desegregation issues, Bamman said. Hoover school officials have said they want to do what’s right for all students and make sure there are no institutional barriers or obstacles for students of any race to succeed. The school system must prove that to the federal court to be released from a decades-old Jefferson County desegregation court case. Bamman said the new superintendent needs to be able to carry that

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torch forward so the school district can achieve that goal. Murphy said the school system already has put together a new plan to ensure its program for gifted students is accessible and beneficial for students of all races and a plan to make the racial makeup of faculty and staff more reflective of the student population. Those plans have been submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice and NAACP Legal Defense Fund for their review and will be submitted to the federal court at a later date, she said.

Murphy said she hopes the Hoover school district should be able to prove in 2021that it has met federal desegregation goals in several areas. Proving completion of all goals may take longer, she said. Bamman said another goal for 2021 is academic improvement and growth. That’s always a focus, but it will be particularly important in 2021 to help students recover from any “COVID slide” that may have occurred due to not having access to in-person instruction, she said. It’s not just about catching up either; it’s about taking kids to the next level, Bamman said. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Hoover school board was very close to setting a date to have an election to raise property taxes in Hoover for schools, but that effort was stalled by the pandemic. “This is not the time to go out and get an election out there to ask people for more money,” Bamman said. Now, it could be 2022, or it could be 2025, she said. Several important capital projects are scheduled to be complete in 2021, including an addition at Berry Middle School, renovation of the original part of the old Bluff Park School, window and roof replacements at several schools and new controls for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems throughout the district. The Berry addition includes 10 classrooms, three science labs, a teacher workroom and an enclosed walkway. All the projects should be complete by the end of June, said Matt Wilson, the school system’s operations coordinator. The school board also has been evaluating potential theater upgrades at Hoover and Spain Park high schools that could take place in 2021.

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January 2021 • A19

Shaw named permanent director for schools foundation Shelley Shaw, executive director of the Hoover City Schools Foundation, seen Nov. 24 at Aldridge Gardens. She joined the board of the Hoover City Schools Foundation in 2017 and served as the foundation’s secretary and vice president before she was asked to become interim executive director and later the permanent executive director. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By JON ANDERSON The Hoover City Schools Foundation, like many nonprofits, had a challenging year in 2020 but was able to bring on a new executive director on a permanent basis. Shelley Shaw, the wife of Hoover Councilman Mike Shaw, had been serving as interim executive director for the foundation since October of 2019, following the departure of former Executive Director Janet Turner. A year later, the foundation’s board of directors unanimously decided to make that a permanent change. Foundation President Jason DeLuca said Shelley Shaw is a great fit in the executive director role. As a former board member of the foundation, she is very familiar with the organization, as well as the various PTO, PTA and PTSO groups and their parent organization, the Hoover Parent Teacher Council. Shaw has had two children in Hoover schools. Her daughter, Melodi, graduated from Spain Park High School in 2017, and her son, Canon, is a sophomore at Spain Park this year. Shaw served as president of the Rocky Ridge Elementary School PTO in the 2013-14 school year and later vice president of programs for the Berry Middle School PTO and president of the Hoover Parent Teacher Council. She joined the board of the Hoover City Schools Foundation in 2017 and served as the foundation’s secretary and vice president before she was asked to become interim executive director. DeLuca said Shaw is well respected in the community and has the skills needed for the job. “We’re just thrilled to have her,” he said. “There certainly is no learning curve on day one.” After graduating from Vestavia Hills High School in 1990, Shaw earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Auburn University in 1994. She spent a year as an account executive for the WBRC TV station in Birmingham and then four years as the state communications director

for the Alabama chapter of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, where she earned several awards and recognition for effective public awareness campaigns promoting prenatal care and the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality. She has been a homemaker since 1999 and spent about 2½ years as a part-time recreation and fitness coordinator at

Hunter Street Baptist Church from August 2001 to December 2003. Shaw has been involved with her children’s activities in Cub Scout Pack 5, Berry Middle School Choir and the Spain Park band and color guard. She is a graduate of the inaugural class of Leadership Hoover and served as an active

member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, Hoover Service Club, Hoover Historical Society and Shades Mountain Baptist Church. She also continues to serve as president of Destination Hoover International, which focuses on citizen diplomacy and scholarships for Hoover City Schools graduates with international interests. During football season, Shaw coaches the Spain Park Jaguarettes and facilitates the Jaguar Twirling Club for K-12 students through the school year. Shaw said it’s an honor to work alongside the foundation board of directors. She was interested in the executive director job because she truly believes in the organization’s mission and has the energy and time to commit to it, she said. 2020 was particularly challenging because the foundation was not able to have its biggest fundraiser, Denim & Dining, due to COVID19. The 2019 Denim & Dining event netted more than $50,000. Shaw said the foundation’s total income for 2020 was down by more than half from the previous year, but the foundation will work hard to make it up in 2021. The foundation still was able to give out eight grants totaling $15,600 to classroom teachers in 2020, plus $20,500 in SeedLAB grants for special projects organized at the school system’s central office in response to COVID-19. The organization hopes to have its fifth Denim & Dining event in 2021, though it could be different, she said. Also, Shaw said she is working to build relationships with new partners, including real estate agents who believe schools are a strong selling point for real estate in Hoover. While 2020 was a difficult year, “we are very grateful for those who have had the opportunity to give, in spite of recent events,” Shaw said. “Students and teachers have suffered in this pandemic, especially through the domino effect of COVID-19. It is a privilege to support them at any level that we are able to fund during this unprecedented time.”










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A20 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

Parents beg school leaders to allow kids fully return

Joe Prokop, a parent with students at Riverchase Elementary School, tells the Hoover Board of Education that students need to be back in school five days a week during a Dec. 10 school board meeting at the Farr Administration Building in Hoover. Photo by Jon Anderson.

By JON ANDERSON Some parents of children in Hoover City Schools begged the Hoover school board and superintendent in mid-December to allow children to come back to school five days a week. Since Nov. 30, students have been on a staggered instruction schedule that puts them in person at school two days a week and learning virtually from home the other three weekdays. But parents who came to a Dec. 10 school board meeting said the staggered instruction schedule is not serving children well. Joe Prokop, who has a daughter at Riverchase Elementary School, said other nearby school systems seem to be able to educate children at school five days a week. Hoover school officials seem to believe that the risk of students being harmed with COVID19 is greater than the risks associated with children not being at school, Prokop said. But it’s important for children to be engaged in school and stay on track, especially in those early developmental years, he said. “Our kids need to be in school for the betterment of their lives, the stability of their homes and for the benefit of our community as a whole,” Prokop said. “Parents should be able to go to work and support their families, assuming that they have a job that they can go back to.” He said he knows of several colleagues who used up all their sick days and vacation days and then lost their jobs because they had to stay

home with their children. Catey Hall, who has children at Greystone Elementary, Berry Middle and Spain Park High, said it was easier for some parents to stay home with their kids when the government forced a lot of businesses to shut down in March, but once businesses started opening back up, most had to return to work. Even those who are able to work from home don’t have unlimited time to spend helping with virtual schoolwork, Hall said. Her children have had no live interaction with their teachers on virtual learning days since the spring, she said. If students are having trouble, they’re told to email their teacher, but that teacher is busy working with students who are at school and don’t have time to help those at home, she said. Hall said she hired a teacher to come to her house to tutor her children, but some children don’t have access to that kind of help. “It’s just not working.”


Kathy Murphy, in her last school board

meeting as superintendent, said she went back to a staggered instruction schedule for good reasons. On Nov. 19, Alabama Health Officer Scott Harris sent a letter to school superintendents saying that COVID-19 was moving in a disturbing direction with children ages 5-17. At that time, school-age children accounted for 8.5% of all COVID-19 cases in Alabama, and COVID-19 positivity rates in children were at 15%, Murphy said. Also, the state health officer told the superintendent that 13 children in Alabama had been diagnosed with a multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19, and there likely would be more cases, she said. That syndrome is a life-threatening condition with long-term implications for multiple organ systems, including cardiac dysfunction, Murphy said. The number of students and school employees reporting a new positive COVID-19 test climbed from 13 in the last week of October to 70 the week of Nov. 18-24, Murphy said. Also, there were 1,273 students and 101

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school employees in quarantine or isolation due to having COVID-19 or having been in close contact with someone who had COVID-19 as of Nov. 20, Murphy said. That creates staffing problems, and the district is having a tough time finding enough substitutes to teach and drive school buses, she said. On Nov. 20, the Hoover school district could fill only 51% of the requests for substitute teachers and instructional aides and 21% of the requests for substitute bus drivers, she said. Non-instructional employees were filling in for teachers when possible, mechanics were driving buses, and buses were running double routes, but it was too challenging to maintain that level of operation, Murphy said. Murphy said she knows it’s best to have competent and caring teachers providing faceto-face instruction five days a week, but she’s concerned the school district can’t keep children safe right now with that arrangement due to social distancing needs and the spread of the virus in the community at large. She thought it best to continue staggered instruction until Jan. 19.

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January 2021 • A21

Hoover schools’ Kelli Lane wins state instructional technology award By JON ANDERSON

Kelli Lane, the instructional technology coordinator for Hoover City Schools, recently received the 2020 Making IT Happen Award from the Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology organization. Photo courtesy of Hoover City Schools.

Kelli Lane, the instructional technology coordinator for Hoover City Schools, recently received the 2020 Making IT Happen Award from the Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology organization. The award is given each year to someone who shows commitment and innovation in helping educators leverage instructional technology for the benefit of student learning. Specifically, the award is designed for people who: ► Apply available technology now ► Move forward and don’t look back ► See students as real people ► Teach through relationships and are inspiring, encouraging and nurturing ► Recognize that further change is necessary but understand that it is a process ► Realize that teacher empowerment

is the key element to technology integration ► Expect success ► Motivate through awareness and access to information The criteria for the award are set by the International Society for Technology in Education, the parent group of the Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology. Lane’s colleagues from the Hoover school district’s instructional technology coaching team, who nominated her for the Make IT Happen Award, highlighted her tireless efforts to improve educational technology processes. “We cannot express how much Kelli has impacted our team and our state,” her colleagues said in the nomination packet they submitted. “She continues to inspire, encourage and motivate all those around her. Her vision, spirit, leadership and courage have greatly impacted students from around the state

… Kelli provides visionary leadership with her ability to articulate a clear and forward-thinking vision.” Lane continuously encourages technology integration coaches to develop personal interests and strengths through book studies, professional organizations and professional development, her nominators said. She not only cultivates the school district’s vision but also encourages each of her coaches to pursue his or her passions and talents, they wrote. Lane has won numerous awards since joining Hoover City Schools in 2014, including the Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology’s Emerging Leader Award in 2015. She also was recognized by Google in Education for her contributions to classroom technology integration. Bryan Phillips, the Hoover school system’s chief technology officer, won the ISTE Making IT Happen Award in 2015.

Board picks Simmons as Hoover’s interim superintendent By JON ANDERSON The Hoover school board Dec. 10 named Assistant Superintendent Tera Simmons as the school district’s interim superintendent, effective Jan. 1. Simmons will take the helm of the district after Superintendent Kathy Murphy’s departure to become president of Gadsden State Community College. The board vote for Simmons was 4-1, with only board member Kermit Kendrick voting no. Kendrick declined to say why he voted no and said he would be a team player and support the overall board’s decision. Board member Craig Kelley said

Simmons has served the district well as assistant superintendent and is knowledgeable. He has a lot of confidence in her because it is well deserved and looks forward to her manning the ship until a new superintendent is in place permanently. Murphy wished Simmons well in the interim role and told the board “you could not have looked the world over and found a better human being, a kinder soul, a more genuine spirit than Dr. Simmons.” The school board authorized board President Deanna Bamman to negotiate a salary supplement for Simmons for agreeing to take on the additional responsibilities that come with being

interim superintendent. The suggested amount was $3,500 a month in addition to Simmons’ previous salary. The board also voted to hire the Alabama Association of School Board to assist with the search for a new superintendent. The search will be a regional search, Bamman said. Applications are due by Jan. 22. The board hopes to be able to conduct interviews between Feb. 9 and Feb. 19 and have a superintendent named by early March and in place by April 5, Bamman said. That timeline may change, depending on progress with the search and the availability of whomever is selected to be the next superintendent, she said.

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The Hoover Board of Education named Tera Simmons, the assistant superintendent for Hoover City Schools, as interim superintendent following the departure of Superintendent Kathy Murphy at the end of 2020. Photo by Jon Anderson.

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A22 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

The gift of reading Soccer coach builds library in native Nigeria By NEAL EMBRY


hen Ike Udeh was growing up in Nigeria, he didn’t have an operational library in his hometown. Lacking that resource, he struggled in school. Soccer was his way out. It’s what made him a Nigerian national team player and one of the best players in the country’s professional league, and it ultimately brought Udeh to Alabama on a scholarship to Alabama A&M University. Udeh, who now coaches boys and girls youth teams in the Hoover-Vestavia Soccer Club, for the past three years has been working on another way to give back and influence kids, this time in his home country. He is building a library in his hometown of Enugu, offering kids the help and resources he didn’t have when he was growing up. “I knew I was missing out,” Udeh said of his childhood education. There wasn’t much to do in Enugu, so as many boys do, he quickly took to soccer. “I started playing when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I started kicking around on the street. … I started getting really good.” He played in Nigeria’s professional soccer league and led the league in scoring one year. He also was called up to play for the men’s national team. In 1992, Udeh came to Alabama and played for Alabama A&M from 1992 to 1996, winning numerous conference awards. He then played about a year with the Kansas City Wizards, a professional soccer team at the time. But a bad car accident fractured his vertebrae, causing him to miss time while he went through physical therapy. Udeh played a few more years before ending his playing career. While that part of his career ended, Udeh said he used the education he received to help him find a job in Alabama, where he teaches at Charles Hard Elementary School in the Bessemer school system, a job he has held for 22 years. With many students and their families not having much money and being in single-family homes, Udeh said the faces he sees are familiar to him. “Those kids remind me of kids in Nigeria sometimes,” he said. In addition to coaching youth teams in the Hoover-Vestavia Soccer Club, Udeh also in the past coached high school soccer at Hoover, Mountain Brook and Bessemer City. But his heart has very much been burdened with the kids in his hometown. The idea of a library came after he drove two hours in Enugu and didn’t find a single library. The library he is building will be more of a community resource center than just a collection of books, Udeh said, and the plan is “big.” He has put together an organization with a board of directors that can help him run everything smoothly. “I want it to be a place where kids can go in and be safe,” Udeh said. The library will offer kids a place to sit down, read and learn, without having to look over their shoulder, worrying about the ongoing violence in the country, Udeh said. Seeing how his education at A&M offered him career opportunities, Udeh realized that he needed to help other children in Nigeria who may not have soccer as a way out. “Not everyone’s going to play professional soccer,” Udeh said. “They just don’t have opportunities and resources that American kids have. … What can I do to ensure that these kids don’t make some of the same mistakes we made?” Udeh encourages children in Nigeria to stay in school and get the best education they can. A library is a great way to ensure they can do that.

They just don’t have opportunities and resources that American kids have. … What can I do to ensure that these kids don’t make some of the same mistakes we made?

Ike Udeh, a youth and high school soccer coach, at the turf soccer field at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex on Nov. 11. Udeh spent time in Nigeria this year building a learning center. Photos by Erin Nelson.


“It’s something that won’t go away,” Udeh said. Udeh offered sessions of soccer training and did extra work to raise funds. Work on the library began in 2017, and the library now is about 90% built, he said. People have donated books and have been “so nice and so good,” Udeh said. “I get emotional when I talk about it. … People are still giving.” Udeh said he has received more than 1,000 books. He’d also like the library to offer science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics classes and other things to help children. He has been able to go to Nigeria and see the

library under construction and the kids it will help, and said it gives him perspective. “We take a lot for granted,” Udeh said. “This is a big thing for me to be able to help provide this for the kids.” Udeh said in the future, he wants to see what he can do to help children in the Birmingham

metro area as well. People looking for ways to help can visit ikeudehfoundation.org and can offer financial support and look for volunteer opportunities down the road, including legal counsel, accounting and other things, said Rick Claypoole, who is helping Udeh with the foundation.


January 2021 • A23

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A24 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

PHOTOS OF THE YEAR A look back at some of the best photos from Hoover Sun in 2020

Top left: Jaclyn Walz holds her newly adopted cat, Ducky, as they sit in the screened-in porch at Waltz’s parents home in Riverchase on May 6. Kitty Kat Haven and Rescue saw an increase in cat adoptions as residents quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photos by Erin Nelson. Above left: Melinda Bonner, director of the child nutrition program for Hoover City Schools, hands bagged meals to a family at Green Valley Elementary School on March 19. The program bagged lunches and breakfasts to continue providing meals for students in the school district during remote learning. Top right: Hoover resident Fatima Bardo, owner of Fatima’s Family afHair in Helena, stands at her station in an empty salon April 8. Bardo had to close her salon in March after her business, and many others, were deemed non-essential by the state government in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Left: Protesters face off with members of the Hoover Police Department following a June 6 protest organized by the Alabama Rally for Injustice to speak out against police brutality, racism and inequalities. Below left: Newlyweds Keri and Charles Hyde make their way through the Kirkman Preserve neighborhood in a 1951 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith on their wedding day, April 4, as community members stand in their front yards to celebrate the couple while practicing social distancing guidelines. Below right: Riverchase Galleria patrons enter and exit through different doors and are given hand sanitizer upon entrance to Belk on May 14.


January 2021 • A25

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A26 • January 2021

Hoover Sun


CONTINUED from page A1 the Birmingham Fire Department and several years as a fire inspector for the Insurance Company of North America before being recruited to become Hoover’s first full-time fire chief. Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato, who served more than 30 years under Bradley’s command in the Hoover Fire Department, said Bradley took a group of 15 or so youngsters in a fledgling department and molded them and others into one of the best-trained, best-equipped and most respected fire departments in the state. “He trained us. He mentored us, and he disciplined us when we needed that,” Brocato said during his funeral at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, where Bradley was a founding member. “He let us sink or swim. We learned by doing, and if we made a mistake, you heard from him loud and clear, sometimes in a very colorful manner.” Bradley was known for sternly chewing out firefighters when they needed it, but he more routinely handed out grace than condemnation, Brocato said, noting that Bradley had been known as a prankster in the Birmingham Fire Department who sometimes got called before his own chief for his shenanigans. During his tenure with Hoover, Bradley grew the department from 16 firefighters to about 170. He brought it from a Class 7 Insurance Services Office rating to a Class 2 rating, signifying a much higher level of service and resulting in lower insurance premiums. The Hoover Fire Department in 2017 was upgraded to Class 1, the highest possible rating. In 2004, the city named its main station — Station No. 4 on Municipal Drive — after Bradley. Former Hoover Fire Marshal Sam Honea once referred to him as the “Bear Bryant of fire service.” The Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Services System in 2003 named Bradley as one of two recipients of what was then a new Pioneer Award. Joe Acker, who was executive director of the system at the time, said Bradley displayed tremendous leadership in bringing emergency medical services from the old days of a funeral

Clockwise, from above: Photos of retired fire Chief Tom Bradley sit on a table with the guestbook and chronicle Bradley’s life through the years during his funeral service Dec. 10 at Prince of Peace Catholic Church. Chief Thomas’ oldest daughter, Teresa Bradley, holds his folded American flag. Matthew Bradley drives the fire engine carrying his father’s casket to Jefferson Memorial Gardens. Members of the Hoover Fire Department and the Hoover Police motorcade stand at attention as Bradley arrives at Jefferson Memorial Gardens. Photos by Erin Nelson and Jon Anderson.

home ambulance system to full-service ambulance transportation and the integration into fire departments. Bradley, a World War II Navy veteran, also understood the importance of serving people and ingrained that in his personnel, teaching them that no task was beneath them, Brocato said. That attitude spread throughout the entire city workforce, he said. Bradley, having come from the much larger department in Birmingham, brought a lot of wisdom and experience to a city that had just been formed nine years earlier, and the various Hoover mayors under which he served often came to him for counsel, Brocato said. “He was sure of himself, but he remained humble and never took credit or sought the limelight,” Brocato said. Fire trucks from at least seven departments in the metro area lined up in honor of Bradley at his funeral, and a stream of trucks escorted him to the mausoleum at Jefferson Memorial

Gardens, South on John Hawkins Parkway. One of his sons, Matthew — a Hoover firefighter, drove the fire engine that carried his casket. Father John Fallon of Prince of Peace Catholic Church noted how Bradley had his triumphs and struggles. He and his first wife lost a child who inhaled a pesticide, and the couple went through a divorce. Bradley went through a dark valley, “but somehow he didn’t stay in that dark valley,” Fallon said. “He got out …, and he renewed his life again.” Bradley married his second wife, Becky, and found new life, new hope and new joy, Fallon said. Bill Bradley said his father struggled to find himself after losing his son, pouring himself into work, having fun and acting crazy as a way of dealing with grief. His second wife was a steadying force and helped him gain a fresh start, he said. “He was the best kind of friend, father, employee and boss,” Bill Bradley said. “He

cared about people and wanted to do everything he could to help them in their current situation, but he strived to put them on a successful track themselves and in a position and a mindset that they could help others.” Fallon described Tom Bradley as a man of principle, wisdom and deep faith who after retiring came to the church every day. In his later years, he spent three hours every day reading Scripture and praying, Bill Bradley said. In his final hours, “he was just so peaceful,” his son said. “You could just feel the presence of the Lord when he left.”

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1 2 0 2 R • E V O HO

Running a business takes ambition, smarts and a lot of drive. The women who run businesses in Hoover have all three, plus a passion for what they do.

Presented by

From retail and food to health care and fitness, our annual Women In Business feature is a chance to get to know some of the faces behind the success of many of the businesses in our area.

Dr. Kelly Guthrie

SOUTHERN SMILES DENTAL At the heart of the dental hygiene Southern Smiles community. Dental are Dr. Kelly With more than Guthrie and her 25 years of passionate team experience, she members, who is making an not only love what enormous impact they do, but also on our patients by the patients they providing routine ► WHERE: 2801 John serve. cleanings (dental Hawkins Parkway, Dr. Guthrie is a prophylaxis), Suite 175T second-generation dental sealants, ► CALL: 205-988dentist with more fluoride 5858 than 24 years in applications and ► WEBSITE: southern the field. periodontal deep smileshoover.com "Dentistry is cleanings. She also my passion, and teaches patients it has given me a oral hygiene purpose in my life,” she said. strategies for use at home. “Growing up with my father a “I am so blessed to be dentist and mentor gave me a working alongside Kim,” Dr. front row seat at how taking Guthrie said. “Her commitment care of patients should be.” to her patients is amazing. It Southern Smiles Dental was is frequently that a patient will founded on strong core values, share with me that Kim delivers including honesty, integrity, the best dental cleaning that quality, respect, compassion and they have ever experienced. affordability. … I can attest to this, as she is “My mission is to continue to my personal dental hygienist build long-lasting relationships as well. She is thorough, gentle by exceeding patients' and informative, not to mention expectations, to create value a beautiful human being, inside for dentistry through education and out.” and to enhance patients' lives, In addition to preventive based upon those core values,” dentistry, Dr. Guthrie provides Dr. Guthrie said. “The only a full range of comprehensive way that this mission can be dental services, including accomplished is by recruiting fillings, whitening, veneers, team members who share the crowns and bridges, full same passion and core values." mouth rehabilitation, sleep Kim Hale, a registered dental apnea appliances, extractions, hygienist, leads our preventive removable dentures and dentistry department. Kim is partials, and implant a highly respected member of restorations. She also provides

an All-on-Four fixed hybrid denture option for patients who cannot tolerate traditional removable dentures. Southern Smiles Dental sees a range of patients, from those who love to visit the dentist to have their teeth cleaned as often as possible to those who avoid the dentist until they experience pain or discomfort. With that said, Dr. Guthrie and Kim strive to provide a caring, gentle, nonjudgmental approach to their help patients feel at ease. With the COVID-19 outbreak,

Southern Smiles Dental has increased personal protective equipment and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols. Each patient is subject to a health screening prior to being seen, and each staff member has daily health screenings. “It may be tempting to postpone regular checkups until things return to 'normal.' However, we don't recommend it,” Dr. Guthrie continued. "Routine dental checkups and cleanings give us the opportunity to detect oral

health conditions early. Some conditions, such as infections, tooth decay and oral cancer can be more difficult to treat if undetected.” Dr. Guthrie and her passionate team truly care about their patients' needs and treat each patient with kindness, respect, and understanding. They are always welcoming new patients and take the time to get to know each one. “My hope is that Southern Smiles Dental is a place where people come in as patients and leave as friends.”

B2 • January 2021


Dr. Maria Dorsett



r. Maria Dorsett set out to provide patients of her dental practice with something she sees less and less of this day in time: personal touch. “Dentistry has become so depersonalized with the rise of chains and their neverending turnover of hygienists, assistants and dentists,” Dorsett said. She opened Dorsett Dental Care in September along with her husband Josh, also a dentist, with the mission of connecting with people through her practice. “At Dorsett Dental Care, we care deeply about your oral health, but we also care about how your mom is doing, the new puppy at home, exciting vacation plans and your favorite football team,” the practice’s website states. “Patients are considered family and friends, and we will always welcome you into our office with a smile.” Dorsett Dental Care opened in the fall of 2020, undoubtedly a difficult time in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dorsett is using this to her advantage, though, as the practice’s building is brand new and makes it easy to keep things sanitary and clean to help customers feel safe. “We rigorously stick to our equipment maintenance schedule, we have a cleaning checklist every morning and evening, and we disinfect between each and every patient using sanitizing sprays,” she said. She aims to have her dental practice feel like home. “We want to provide a stable dental home like the ones we grew up with,” Dorsett said. “We want people to come in and recognize their hygienist and assistant and in turn be recognized as well. We want to meet our patients' families, have the honor of treating their parents, children, friends and send out congratulations cards and make people feel like family.” Along with getting to know the patients, Dorsett wants them to know they will be treated with “fairness, honesty and dignity.” Dorsett believes the target customer for her practice is an easy thing to identify, because anybody is a fit at Dorsett Dental Care. She said the practice is seeking out people looking for a stable dental home, reliable and honest care and the ability to get all of their needs taken care of at one office. “Our attitude sets us apart from the competition,” Dorsett said. “Most patients have to have blind trust in their doctors. We hope that we can build that trust over time with pictures, honest conversations and taking time to sit and educate patients. Our only goal is to treat patients right. We believe the rest will follow.” Dorsett said she decided to become a dentist in high school after a conversation with her cousin’s husband. She began shadowing him at his office and fell in love with dentistry and being able to help people. “Fixing that front tooth and restoring someone’s confidence to laugh and smile, getting someone out of excruciating pain in under an hour and even delivering a set of dentures can instantly change a patient’s entire face and quality of life,” she said. “There are so many gratifying moments in dentistry that it’s difficult to pick just one. There’s times when someone comes in with excruciating pain that’s prevented them from eating, sleeping, working, etc., and resolving that pain for them and seeing how grateful they are to be able to get back to their lives is very gratifying.” The mission statement of Dorsett Dental Care emphasizes a few things: working together as a team, thoroughly educating patients and treating all people with respect. If Dorsett has learned anything at all in her

► WHERE: 4000 Pine Lane S.E. ► CALL: 205-882-8060 ► WEBSITE: dorsettdentalcare. com

time as a dentist, it is that listening is the key to everything. “The most valuable trick I have learned is to listen to your patient,” she said. “The majority of dentistry is very monotonous, and it can be easy to slip into a jaded state of mind of just telling people what they need and quoting it. “The easiest way to let someone know you care is to listen to what they say,” she continued. “We may know in less than a minute what is wrong and what needs doing, but many people are looking for that connection with their dental team, because many people grew up with their family dentist, who they saw twice a year.” Dorsett and her husband are not the only people making Dorsett Dental Care run — she also noted the great contributions of team members like hygienist Tashia and receptionist Abigail for making the practice operate at a high level.

“They are both so down-to-earth, friendly and knowledgeable as well,” Dorsett said. “We couldn’t do it without any of them.” The practice has just been open for a short period of time, but Dorsett has been encouraged by the community’s response and hopes to become more involved in community efforts once she becomes more familiar with her surroundings. “Our team is very excited about the growth we’ve seen just in the [few] months we’ve been open, and we are very excited to see how much we can grow in order to serve the community of Hoover. We hope that by treating our patients right, they will recommend us to their friends, family and coworkers,” she said. Dorsett hopes people in need of a new dental home will consider Dorsett Dental Care, a place where everyone is welcome and friendly faces are there to greet each person. “We are truly a work family at DDC, and we welcome all people from all walks of life,” Dorsett said. Dorsett said the practice encourages potential patients to call the office or stop by in person. “We’ve absolutely loved when a couple of people have dropped by to say welcome to the neighborhood. We’re happy to answer any questions to the best of our ability,” she said.



Women of Leadership Hoover



oover Sun’s “Women in Business” issue typically features several of Hoover’s female business leaders and highlights them individually. However, so much of the strength of any community — business or personal — comes from relationships developed by its members: their knowledge and experiences shared with each other. Hoover’s “Women in Business” are leaders who were trained, mentored and supported along the way. They in turn provide counsel, mentoring and their support to others — both formally and informally. Our city’s Leadership Hoover program, which launched in 2017, has already proven to be a catalyst for the development and growth of these important relationships between the members (women and men) of our business community. To be successful and to become the source of knowledge, experience and support that was envisioned for the program, the class members

► WHERE: 2 Chase Corporate Drive ► CALL: 205-402-4245 ► WEBSITE: sovereign cpa.com

have to represent not only the businesses that call Hoover home, but also the characters and backgrounds of our community members: their races, genders and ethnicities. We are celebrating all of our Leadership Hoover “Women in Business.” These ladies grew their circles of support, sources of knowledge and shared experiences, through their Leadership Hoover class-year journeys. Most continue to do so — even after graduation — as the relationships built during their class year do not end with graduation. They continue to flourish. When asked about the importance of the relationships between our women in business, Tynette Lynch, Chairman of the Leadership Hoover Board of Directors, said: “They are

► WHERE: 2020 Valleydale Road, Suite 207 ► CALL: 205-541-6864 ► WEBSITE: leadership hooveral.org

absolutely essential. The trust and support you share contributes greatly to your success. Over the years, the “men in business” built their own “boys’ clubs” — across the lines of their separate businesses — and they helped each other.” Diana Shaw Knight, Treasurer of the Board, added: “Ladies often did not have that opportunity OR the time as many were juggling work responsibilities with family responsibilities. An organization such as LH brings together peers in the business world and often gives ladies a means to build their own “club” — comprised of brilliant, similarly-minded and challenging women. The trust and relationships that are built during class sessions and activities carry over to the real world and are precious.”

THE WOMEN OF LEADERSHIP HOOVER CLASS OF 2017-18 • Toni Herrera-Bast: VP – Public Relations and Mission Impact – YWCA of Central AL • Kem Marks Bryant: Founder/ Chief Attorney – Just in Time Legal Solutions Inc. • Susette Clark Walker: Realtor – RealtySouth OTM • Jessica Coates: CEO – Howard County Assn. of Realtors • April B. Danielson: Member, Leadership Hoover Board of Directors – Attorney – Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt LLC • Khristi Doss Driver: Member, Leadership Hoover Board of Directors – Legal and Compliance Leadership Southern Nuclear • Shannon Isbell: News Director – WBRC FOX6 News • Sarah Johnson: Realtor – ARC Realty Hoover • Melinda James Lopez: Adjunct Professor – Auburn University • Tynette Lynch: Chairman, Leadership Hoover Board of Directors – CEO – Aldridge Gardens/ Director of Hospitality and Tourism – City of Hoover

• Lynn Ray: Secretary, Leadership Hoover Board of Directors - President – Business Telephones Inc. (BTI) • Lori Salter Schommer: Retired – Public Information Officer – City of Hoover • Shelley Shaw: Executive Director – Hoover City Schools Foundation • Janet Turner: Educational Consultant – College Admission Pros • Jennifer Whisenant: Member, Leadership Hoover Board of Directors – Executive Director Birmingham Automobile Dealers Assn. CLASS OF 2018-19 • Dr. Jamie Bell: Member, Leadership Hoover Board of Directors – Physician – Birmingham VA Medical Center • Kenya G. Bledsoe: Owner – Bledsoe Counseling LLC • Ruth Cole: Community and Civic Leader - Member, Hoover Library Board of Directors • Whitney Culpepper: Pharmacist • Diana Shaw Knight: Treasurer, Leadership Hoover

Board of Directors – CPA/ CVA – Founding Member – Sovereign CPA Group LLC • Jessica Payne: Senior Vice President - BBVA • April Stone: Former Executive Director – Hoover Chamber of Commerce • Bevin Tomlin: Community Development Manager – Alabama Power Company • Mesha K. Walker: Assistant Director of Human Resources – City of Hoover • Chastity Stevenson Westry: Member, Leadership Hoover Board of Directors – Retired Senior Director of Sales Pepsico/Frito Lay CLASS OF 2019-20 • Brooke Adams: Sr. Auditor & Project Leader – Office of Inspector General • Kathy Boswell: VP, Community Engagement – 2022 World Games • Karen Bruce: Campus Director/Operations Executive – Faulkner University • Jennifer Campbell: Marketing Consultant • Kechia Davis: Criminal Judge

– Jefferson County Circuit Court • Shannon Driver: Chief Marketing Officer – Gagliano Mortgage Inc. • Bernadette Beavers-Forrest: Instructional Designer – iLaw Venture • Donna Francavilla: President – AL Media Professionals, Owner – Frankly Speaking Communications • Angela Jarrett: VP, Claims and Customer Benefit Admin. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of AL • Jessica Johnson: Attorney/ Partner – Burns, Brashier & Johnson LLC • Leslie Schiffman Moore: Attorney at Law – Moore & Moore • Kerry Pate, Ed.D.: HR Specialist – Hoover City Schools • Melanie Posey: Public Information Officer – City of Hoover • Kela Pryor: Financial Management – Renaissance Credit Solutions • Cherinita Reese: Talent Manager • Alison Howell Steineker: Government and Community Relations Manager - Alabama

Power Company CLASS OF 2020-21 • Christina Almanza: Business Development Coordinator – Buffalo Rock Co. • Jeannine Bailey: Talent & Employee Engagement Manager – Alabama Power/ Southern Co. • Yolanda Barbour: Commercial Account Manager – Alabama Power Company • LaVeeda Battle: Owner – Battle Law Firm • Danielle Buchanan: Human Resources Supervisor – Regions Bank • April H. Collins: Owner/ Attorney – Collins Law LLC • Jennifer Harris: Director of Client Relations – Weber Mortgage • Yolanda Hicks: Senior Sales Executive - TownSquare Media/ Ignite • Traci Fox: Owner – T. Fox SalonSpa • Jennifer L. Maye: Director of Professional Learning – Jefferson County Board of Education • Patricia Davis-McCulland: Deputy Compliance Officer –

Encompass Health • Tanver Patel: Co-founder and President - Concertcare • Kristin Powell: Psychologist – Blankenship & Seay Consulting Group • Debbie Rutherford: Fashion Consultant/Model/PR – Town & Country Clothes • Samata Shah: President/ Owner – Kopri Signs & Graphics LLC • Mary Smith: VP Treasury Operations – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of AL • Carrie Steinmehl: Technology Manager – Hoover Public Library • Michelle Torbor: Owner/ Licensed Professional Counselor – Cardinal Wellness • Kimberly Nash White: Principal – Gwin Elementary – Hoover City Schools • Tahara Evans Wood: Director – Hoover Randle Home & Gardens • Terry Shea: Founder and Former Owner – Wrapsody - Leadership Hoover Board of Directors – Inaugural Member • Lori Leonard: Executive Director

B4 • January 2021


Donna Scott Bishop



or the past five years, Hoover Helps founder Donna Scott Bishop has been working with her family to make the world a better place for all. And they are starting right here in the Hoover community by providing meals, clothing and other essentials to children in need. Her family's journey to becoming a champions of kindness in tireless service to their community began several years ago. Bishop’s daughters, Chloe and Olivia, share their mother’s compassion for others and had a strong desire to travel to Honduras for a mission trip. Unfortunately, autoimmune issues for one of them prevented them from participating in the trip. Determined to be a beacon of light in the world, Bishop and her family gathered community leaders to determine how they could be of service here at home. As a result, Hoover Helps was founded in 2015. Hoover Helps is a nonprofit organization that provides healthy, nutritious food to children who are food insecure. “Thankfully, in our country most people are not food insecure,” Bishop said. “But everyone understands the feeling of hunger. Everyone knows the physical pains, the distractions and the other problems a student would experience when facing hunger. Not enough food at home for students is just not acceptable anywhere.” Bishop and her family are currently working with 13 faith-based organizations that assist to purchase, pack and deliver packages of food to children in need each Friday. Since its founding, Hoover Helps has provided more than $100,000 worth of food to children in the Hoover area. Both of Bishop's daughters have spent untold hours assisting their mother as she strives to meet the needs of her community. “The main thing that I have learned from this whole experience is what kind of people my parents are,” said Chloe, Bishop’s youngest daughter. “Their willingness to help those in need on such a large scale shows me that I have been blessed with parents of exemplary character. Not only do I admire what they do, but I do my best to follow in their footsteps and have a positive impact on others' lives. One day I hope to make them proud by showing love to others like they have continuously done. To say that I am proud of them is an understatement.” Hoover Helps has expanded its reach and increased its abilities to give back to the community by partnering with Neighborhood Bridges. With this partnership it has been able to make community support as simple as a click of a button. Neighborhood Bridges is an online platform that helps community members provide non-foodbased essentials to students in need. “This is done by identifying the needs of children and aligning resources and volunteers in the community,” Bishop said. Local companies and faith-based organizations partner with school counselors to identify the needs of their students. Through the online platform, Neighborhood Bridges community members are able to see what is needed and when. Subscribers are sent weekly updates and notifications via email so that every child’s need can be met as quickly as possible. The Neighborhood Bridges program is organized to allow donors to drop off their donations at a specified fire station. The items are then delivered to the school counselor who distributes them to the students in need. This platform is unique in that it takes a crowdsources approach and truly engages the entire community in uplifting the less fortunate

among them. And this innovative use of technology to provide for the community was an asset to the nonprofit throughout this past year. Shipt, a regular sponsor of Hoover Helps, stepped in to help when things got ramped up during the pandemic lockdown. “We used Shipt to help deliver food to students and families in need during the shutdown,” Bishop said. “They were able to deliver items directly to families, in a safe manner, when our volunteers were unable to gather and pack bags.” In conjunction with Neighborhood Bridges and the assistance of Shipt and other sponsors, Hoover Helps did its part to ensure that no child went without during the shutdown. Seeing this level of support, care and collaboration in a time of need was inspiring for Bishop and her family. “With everyone in the community pulling together, we can make a huge difference for children and families in need,” Bishop said. “For every student in need, we know that there are many in Hoover willing to lend a helping hand. Children do not choose their circumstances, and our community has always been supportive of each other and the less fortunate. It is our experience, when our Hoover community learns that someone needs help, people line up to provide support.”  Olivia shares her mother’s pride in the community’s willingness to help. “It’s encouraging to watch humans take care of other humans,” Olivia said. “Working with my

► WHERE: P.O. Box 360865, Hoover, AL 35236 ► EMAIL: hoover helps@gmail.com ► WEBSITE: hoover helps.org

family’s nonprofit puts things into perspective. Having your basic needs meet is a huge privilege and not something I’m entitled to. I’m lucky to have the opportunity and this platform to give back.” According to Bishop, both organizations are a gateway to kindness. Often, people want to help but they simply do not know how to help. Both Hoover Helps and Neighborhood Bridges eliminate that problem and many other barriers to giving back. Some may think they don’t have enough to give, but the items the nonprofits provide range from dollar store items such as toiletries, notebooks or other school supplies, to high dollar purchases like a car. “You can shop for a student’s winter coat, order something on Amazon or donate online. Whatever your time, budget and efforts allow,” Bishop said. “Everyone can be a part of the kindness movement!” Donate to Hoover Helps at hooverhelps.org and sign up for weekly emails by entering your email address at neighborhoodbridges.org. You can sign up for Hoover or select any community you wish to support.



Dr. Lauren Denson



hen Dr. Lauren Denson was in dental school, she knew pretty quickly she wanted to go into pediatric and adolescent dentistry. “I love kids, and I love babies, and I always have,” she said. “I just quickly gravitated toward the little ones. It’s so rewarding to start them off with a love of dentists — to not be fearful, to get them to not dread going to the dentist right off the bat.” Shortly after graduating dental school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she started filling in and helping out at Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry at their stylish office in The Village at Brock’s Gap in August 2014. A year-and-ahalf later, she became a permanent part of the practice with Dr. Lauten Johnson. “Dr. Johnson is a great person to work with, and he is very good at what he does,” Dr. Denson said. “I feel like we are a great team. We work super well together. He is just such a fun and energetic person. He’s silly and goofy and fun. There’s never a dull moment. It doesn’t even feel like work.” Together, they have created a practice with a family-friendly feel that’s fun for the kids. “We treat every baby who walks in the door as if they were our own,” Dr. Denson said. “You couldn’t find more caring people than are in our office. Our hygienists are amazing and just so great with kids. Our entire staff tries to make the whole experience nothing but the best.” Making kids feel comfortable at the dentist so they can get good dental care is what motivates Dr. Denson. She loves to hear parents tell her their children love coming to the dentist and have so much fun. “It doesn’t hurt that we have lots of prizes and TV shows for them to watch,” she said. But she also tries to relate to children on their level, talking to them with words they can understand so they can comprehend what’s going on in a way that’s kid-friendly. For example, with young kids, she’ll use terms like “sleepy juice” instead of “injection” and a “water-squirting toothbrush” instead of a “drill.” Before young kids get their teeth cleaned, Dr. Denson and the hygienists will demonstrate what they’re going to do on the children’s hand so they know it doesn’t hurt. They let kids hold a mirror while they help them count their teeth or get the kids to help them spray water in their mouths. Getting the kids involved in the process usually helps ease any fears, she said. But Dr. Denson and Dr. Johnson don’t just see little kids. They have quite a few teenagers, too. It’s helpful to be so close to four schools — Trace Crossings and South Shades Crest elementary schools, Bumpus Middle School and Hoover High. The kids can drop in for a quick appointment during school or make a quick stop after school before going home. “It works out really well,” Dr. Denson said. Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry accepts children from about 1 to age “20ish,” Dr. Denson said. “We’re not going to kick you out when you turn 20, but usually they’re ready to go to a general dentist by then.” And Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry has frequently been named a “Family Favorite” by Birmingham Parent magazine. It’s convenient that there is a general dentist, Dr. Frank Cain Jr., in the same building with Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry, as well as orthodontist Dr. Al Jones. Together, they have formed the Brock’s Gap Dental Group, providing a one-stop shop for a family’s dental needs. Dr. Denson, 33, grew up in Old Hickory, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville. She was awarded a golf scholarship to Belmont University, where in 2009 she earned a bachelor’s degree,

majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. She chose the UAB School of Dentistry for her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. Originally, she planned to return to the Nashville area, but during her third year in dental school, she met her future husband, Doug Denson, and the two of them decided to stay in the Birmingham area. Dr. Doug Denson, who is from Vestavia Hills, runs an oral and maxillofacial surgery practice in Hoover. The couple live in Vestavia Hills and have two children: a 3-year-old son named Grey and a 1-year-old daughter named Hayes. Dr. Lauren Denson works part-time at the Brock’s Gap Dental Group — about 20 hours a week, usually on Thursdays and Fridays. That allows her to spend more time with her own children. She also enjoys date nights with her husband and playing golf with him at Pine Tree Country Club, where they are members. Their family attends the Grants Mill Road campus of Church of the Highlands and enjoys spending time at their place on Lake Tuscaloosa. They also are big fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide and enjoy traveling to the 30A beaches in the Florida panhandle and the mountains near Highlands, North Carolina. Dr. Lauren Denson and Dr. Johnson offer a full plate of dental services for their pediatric and

► WHERE: 1015 Brocks Gap Parkway ► CALL: 205-982-0112 ► WEBSITE: brocksgapdentalgroup.com

adolescent patients, including preventative and restorative dentistry. In-office sedation is available if needed. The staff at Pediatric Adolescent Dentistry talk their patients through proper brushing, flossing and cleaning procedures. In addition to routine cleanings, preventative services include more extensive cleanings, fluoride treatments, the latest digital X-rays and imaging, and sealants. Restorative services for children experiencing complications include tooth-colored fillings, bonding and pulp therapy. Dr. Lauren Denson and Dr. Johnson can help restore confidence to your child’s smile. Advancements in dental technology and techniques, combined with the gentle approach used by Dr. Lauren Denson and Dr. Johnson, will ensure your child will receive the safest, most comfortable experience achievable.

B6 • January 2021


The Women of Girls Inc. of Central Alabama


n order to grow the business and community leaders of tomorrow, Girls Inc. is inspiring today’s girls to be strong, smart and bold. Girls Inc. of Central Alabama has been in Birmingham since 1938 providing a progirl environment, research-based programs and mentoring relationships. Girls are encouraged to take risks, get dirty, ask questions and find their unique voice. When asked what they learned at Girls Inc., the most common word alums use is “confidence.” A recent study (Strong, Smarter, Bolder: Girls Take the Lead) showed how the confidence girls find at Girls Inc. prepares them for leadership roles in business, politics and their communities. While there are more women today in key leadership positions than ever before, there still exists a pervasive gender gap in top leadership. Girls Inc. seeks to eliminate this gap by providing the support that girls need to become leaders. The study found that Girls Inc. offered four fundamental supports that turn girls into leaders: providing mentoring relationships; encouraging girls to develop and use their voices; promoting positive self-image; and fostering intellectual confidence. These supports help girls navigate and overcome the personal and societal barriers they face. “All girls deserve equity of access to wellbeing and opportunity, and we have to see the whole girl, in her context and community. That’s what Girls Inc. has always done, and we believe that’s a key to the success we’ve achieved,” said Stephanie J. Hull, Ph.D., president and CEO of Girls Inc. Regardless of demographic, academic and social characteristics, girls who participated in Girls Inc. were outpacing their peers in multiple areas of success and were more likely to: • See themselves as leaders, with the skills and capabilities to influence and improve their local communities. • Exercise regularly and participate in sports teams. • Have higher standardized math test scores and self-confidence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and MATH (STEM) subjects, as well

► WHERE: 5201 Eighth Ave. S. ► CALL: 205-595-4475 ► WEBSITE: girlsinccentral-al.org

as see themselves in STEM careers. • Be engaged in and attend school, avoid serious disciplinary action including being suspended, and be prepared for life after high school. “When half of a community and the majority of consumer-buying power is female, companies are stronger if women/girls fill roles throughout an organization,” said Brooke Battle, founder and CEO of Swell. “The business community needs us to invest in the female leadership of tomorrow. Further, the benefit is mutual and multiplies.  When a girl is resourced to become a leader, she will positively impact everyone around her.” Girls Inc.’s focus on STEM helps girls remain engaged in math and science through high school, preparing them for a world that is increasingly technological. The true value of this program is captured in the faces of girls learning to make clouds from liquid nitrogen, through the Girls Inc. scholar alumna who just graduated with a plan for medical school, and through the simulated Moon Camp and Re-entry mission concluding the Lockheed Martin shadow program. The Girls Inc. approach to STEM education works because it focuses on girls who are too often left out of the math-science pipeline: girls of color, from lower socio-economic households, girls who are the first in their families to pursue a college education, and girls achieving at an average academic level. Whatever their interests, Girls Inc. helps girls reach their goals. Whether it is exploring future careers, applying for a first job, or going on a college visit, Girls Inc. offers the support girls

need. For Trinity, a high school senior, this meant a summer internship that helped her prepare for college. She said, “At Girls Inc. it is never a maybe, or a wait a minute, they help you when you need it.” This help has become even more critical for girls this year. The agency’s focus for 2020, particularly since the onset of COVID-19, has been to “Listen to the girls.” Girls Inc. of Central Alabama CEO Connie Hill, Ph.D., says that, “Through our listening we’ve discovered that many struggle with anxiety, uncertainty and overwhelming worry about school, their parents returning to work, fear of being victims of racial targeting and adjusting to the new normal of virtual schooling. However, we have also discovered that girls are eager for a supportive place to connect with each other and supportive adults. Whether in person or virtually, Girls Inc. provides a safe space for girls to continue to grow, learn, explore, and most importantly, find confidence.”



Shan Bell

BENTON NISSAN Shan Bell has grown accustomed to people underestimating her ability to tell what’s wrong with their vehicle when they drive into the service department at Benton Nissan in Hoover. “It happens all the time,” she said. Women are a minority in the auto service industry. But Bell, the service manager and owner loyalty manager at Benton Nissan, has been in the business now for 15 years and can diagnose a problem as well as the male technicians who do the repairs. After talking to her for a few minutes, most customers pick up on it, she said. “I think they understand my knowledge is right on par with any male they might speak to,” she said. But it’s still unusual to find a female service manager. And Bell isn’t just any service manager. She was the top Nissan service manager in the Southeast for her dealership size when she worked for another Nissan dealer six years ago. When she went to Las Vegas for the awards ceremony, they announced her name as “Shane Bell,” not realizing the winner was a woman. At Benton Nissan, Bell oversees more than 30 people, including 17 technicians, six service advisors, three business development specialists, three detailers, a cashier,

shuttle driver and rental car agent. She is responsible for customer complaints, service appointments and the pickup and delivery of vehicles to customers. The service department handles about 1,500 vehicles per month, doing everything from oil changes, tire mounting, balancing and rotation and basic maintenance to rebuilding engines and transmissions. “Anything you could ask to be done on a vehicle, we do it,” she said. About 80% of the vehicles that come through are Nissans, but the service department at Benton Nissan will handle any make and model of vehicle and welcomes customers from all over. “We have people drive from Cullman down here to get vehicles serviced with us,” Bell said. The technicians are certified with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and always put customers first. They won’t do any work without being willing to show customers what the problem is and explain what repairs need to take place and the cost, Bell said. They want all customers to feel comfortable, but especially women, who sometimes feel mechanics try to take advantage of them, she said. “I want your grandmother to feel comfortable coming here,” Bell said. “I love helping people.

I love taking care of people. That’s important to me. People’s safety is important to me. That’s my way of making a difference in this world.” Bell, who has a child with a disability, also has a heart for the disabled. About two years ago, she won an award for Small Business Employer of the Year from the Alabama Governor’s Committee of Employment for People with Disabilities. She currently has two people

► WHERE: 1640 Montgomery Highway ► CALL: 205-979-5420 ► WEBSITE: benton nissanofhoover.com with disabilities working for her at Benton Nissan. “It’s very important,” she said. “They just want to have a normal life. They want to be able to provide for their families.”

When Bell isn’t working, she likes to spend time with her husband, six children and six grandchildren camping at Little Bear Creek Lake in Russellville or taking care of her four Yorkies. “They’re my babies.”

Dr. Melissa Richardson HEARING SOLUTIONS INC.

Julie Ivy White

TODAY’S HOME REAL ESTATE After 13 years as a welcome children back for a while. Older parents Realtor, Julie Ivy White may move in with their has found a brokerage children. White sees her company that fits perfectly job as helping people finewith her beliefs. White in October joined tune what “today’s home” should be for them and Today’s Home Real Estate, then helping them find it. and even the name of the ► WHERE: 1904 company lines up with her And the agents at Indian Lake Drive, Today’s Home Real Estate, philosophy for helping Suite 200 people buy and sell homes. which was founded on ► CALL: People go through Christian principles, happily 205-796-7843 phases, and what may be and willingly give a portion ► WEBSITE: julie of each commission toward the perfect home for them whiterealtor.com a charity that helps others in one season of life may not be for the next season. in need of housing. Life circumstances change. White said she has so much for which “There’s really no such thing as a to be thankful in her life. But, “there are ‘forever home.‘ That term is a misnomer. those out there who are truly hurting. They, for whatever reason, don’t have Every single one of us experiences changes that impact our housing what they need — a home, a shelter, a safe needs,” White said. place,” she said. “You can’t move forward But people get married, have children, if you don’t have a place to start from, and that’s what home is — a starting place.” send children off and sometimes

A board-certified audiologist with 35 years experience, Dr. Melissa Richardson at Hearing Solutions enjoys helping people recover their gift of hearing. “I’ve always felt my services have the ability to help each and every patient trying to hear their family and friends,” she said. A Hoover resident, Richardson said she and Dr. Dana Walchek offer hearing and balance testing and treatment to patients of all ages. “We test people from babies to geriatrics, regardless of age,” she said. Hearing Solutions can assess hearing acuity, hearing loss from aging, ringing in the ears and dizziness. They’re also available for pre-employment testing and follow-up for failed work or school hearing screenings. Richardson and Walchek provide hearing aids and assistive listening devices, including custom earplugs for musicians and swimmers. “We provide hearing protection devices for hunting, shooting and work in noisy environments,” Richardson said. “Some even use HPD for yard work or woodworking hobbies.” Hearing Solutions tailors its services for each patient and follows a clear mission. “We treat every patient equally, with a caring attitude and a focus to help in the most cost-effective way,” Richardson said. To keep patients safe during COVID-19, Hearing Solutions is currently working

► WHERE: 3000 Meadow Lake Drive, Suite #102 ► CALL: 205-739-2242 ► WEBSITE: hearingsolutionsalabama. com by appointment only. “We provide curbside services for patients having hearing aid or assistive listening problems,” Richardson said. “We allow them to stay in their vehicle and take the devices into the office for repairs or services."

B8 • January 2021


Judith Crittenden, Laura Montgomery Lee, Paige Yarbrough, Deborah Gregory, Kathryn Henry, Nicole Saia CRITTENDEN PARTNERS

When Judith Crittenden completed her law degree in 1970, she was one of only two women in her graduating class. Fifty years later she is the leader, advisor and mentor to five phenomenal female attorneys. She is regarded as one of the top domestic relations attorneys in the state of Alabama, and the firm she built continues to flourish under her name. Crittenden entered private practice in 1977 and began building what is known today as Crittenden Partners. Crittenden Partners, P.C. was formed in 2014 out of The Crittenden Firm with Crittenden, Laura Montgomery Lee and Paige Yarbrough as three of the original partners. Since that time, the firm has expanded to add three additional partners in Deborah Gregory, joining in 2017, and Kathryn Henry and Nicole Saia, both joining in 2019. Lee, the Managing Partner of Crittenden Partners, describes herself and her partners as mediators for and champions of families in crisis. Lee’s passion for family law began early in her career when she helped a young father win custody of his son during her third year of law school in the University of Alabama civil law clinic. “It gave me a lot of passion to work with someone on an issue that was the most important thing in this man’s world,” Lee said. This past year has presented Crittenden Partners with challenges much the same as it has for other business owners. “We are in an unusual and isolated circumstance,” Lee said before elaborating on the measures that she and her team have taken to keep their clients safe while still providing superb representation during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the unique challenges of the current time is evaluating income of individuals and marital businesses during divorce disputes. During the pandemic, many businesses have seen a decrease in profit that may not reflect the

potential of the business long term. In addition, may individuals have seen a decrease in income and find themselves unsure of when, if ever, their income will return to its prior level. While one party cannot commit to payments that exceed their current income, the other party does not want to commit to receiving less than what would be appropriate should that income return. Despite the unprecedented nature of the past year, Lee has faith in her team's abilities. “We have a really dynamic group of lawyers,” Lee said. “We have over 100 years of experience collectively and a diverse set of skills that can handle any matter with the utmost expertise.” Lee explained that having a diverse group of lawyers to assess problems has enabled

them to formulate responses to unique issues in the past to resolve cases in the best interest of their clients. Crittenden Partners specializes in domestic relations, divorce, child custody, estate planning, paternity matters, adoptions, and prenuptial, postnuptial and appeals in the family law arena. “To our practice we bring sympathy and compassion, but we also bring experience, diplomacy, integrity and strength,” Lee said. “Our benchmark of success is when a client’s case is resolved in a way that the client can feel confident, secure and emotionally capable of moving forward. We want to ensure that our clients feel that we have made one of the most difficult times in their lives easier to manage and that they have come through that time stronger.”

► WHERE: 1 Independence Plaza, Suite 305, and 4000 Eagle Point Corporate Drive, Birmingham ► CALL: 205-874-8680 ► WEBSITE: crittenden partners.com No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.


Bridget Hoven, a successful real estate agent with LIST Birmingham, has always loved real estate. Bridget and her husband — now empty-nesters — recently sold their home in The Preserve and are in the process of building a home in Blackridge. Earlier this year, Bridget noticed the success LIST Birmingham was having in Blackridge and moved her license to LIST. LIST Birmingham represents both buyers and sellers, and Hoven’s goal is to make the process as stress free as possible for her clients, while also exceeding their expectations. At this full-service real estate company, clients are offered a flat fee, which sets the company apart from most others. “We aren't the only flat-fee company in Birmingham, but we are definitely the best,” she said. “The average client of LIST Birmingham saves $8,000 by listing their home with us. One of my clients will save over $20,000 when their home closes this month. The more your home sells for, the more you save, but the average savings is $8,000. Our listing fee is $2,900 which saves sellers thousands.”

Mary T. Miller


► WHERE: 300 Union Hill Drive, Suite 200 ► CALL: 205-585-0506 ► WEBSITE: bridget. listbirmingham.com What Hoven is most looking forward to in the new year is to expand her business. “LIST Birmingham is extremely popular in Homewood, Vestavia and Mountain Brook,” she said. “I am hoping to spread the word about LIST Birmingham to the people of Hoover.”

Enhancing the lives of people living with complex neurological diseases is a daily mission for Mary T. Miller. As the executive director of The Tanner Foundation, her organization gives grants, funds research and provides educational events for individuals with ALS, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. Grants help individuals pay for medical bills, therapy and equipment. “We are here for those in the community with these complex neurological diseases to help them navigate and support them throughout this journey,” Miller said. Miller has worked in fundraising and events since she graduated from college, eventually moving to her current fundraising post 17 months ago. “We are a very small organization,” Miller said, “but after receiving a handwritten note after one of our events thanking me for what we are doing to raise awareness ... it made me realize that even though we are very

► WHERE: 3105 Independence Drive, Suite 105 ► CALL: 205-803-2210 ► WEBSITE: tanner-foundation.org small, we can have a big impact.” Miller is thankful for the committed work of her board of directors who make things happen. She also applauds her generous donors. “You can never thank a donor enough,” Miller said. “They are giving to your organization because they care about it.” Along with many organizations this year, fundraising and education have been virtual. Current plans are underway to co-host a 450-mile bike ride for multiple sclerosis in April. “Working together with other local organizations, instead of competing with them, will only bring about positive things for this community. We are all in this together.”


January 2021 • B9

Rhonda Evans


GEICO LOCAL OFFICE – BIRMINGHAM Rhonda Evans was about to graduate college and needed a job when she began working at GEICO. She thought it would just be temporary as I looked for the perfect job. “Little did I know I had found it,” she said. “I enjoy the combo of business with the ability to talk to people.” Evans has been working in Birmingham as a GEICO Insurance Agent since 2002. Before that, she worked in commercial insurance sales for two years and worked for GEICO in Honolulu for nine years. Evans has two insurance designations (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and Certified Insurance Counselor), and loves helping her clients with all their personal insurance needs. GEICO offers property and casualty Insurance for auto, motorcycle, homeowners, renters, condo, mobile home, boat, ATV, RV, collector car, umbrella and commercial insurance auto along with identity protection. “You get the best of having an agent with all that GEICO has to offer with a No. 1 rated mobile app and website,” she said. Evans believes everyone can find value in their services. What sets GEICO apart from the competition is that they are the top-rated insurance provider and are able to offer an outstanding product with a local touch to community members. “There are so many cases — our customers become family to us,” she said. “Because of what we do, we are able to celebrate new homes, cars, children driving, children getting married and more. We also know

► WHERE: 1631 Montgomery Highway ► CALL: 205-824-4449 ► WEBSITE: geico.com/birmingham when someone has suffered a loss or received bad news.” During COVID-19, Evans said she has made constant adjustments, but her number one concern is to be there and able to take care of her customers. Evans and her team are involved in the community and support them any way they can. She said they enjoy being a part of so many of the local school sports. The Gecko can be found at events throughout the Birmingham area. “I especially like to participate in local charity programs,” Evans said. “And of course I'm involved with sporting events around town.” Evans said they love their new location on Highway 31 in Hoover and look forward to having an official grand opening in 2021. Their original one was delayed due to COVID-19. And she wants you to know that even though you might see the big GEICO sign while driving down Montgomery Highway, she’s a local agent through and through. “We are local — born and raised right here and love all things Southern,” she said. Evans said her most valuable trick of the trade is using the golden rule — treat others as you want to be treated — and to always listen and let others know you care.


If there’s one thing ARC Realty’s Leda Mims is known for to her friends, it’s saying “I’ll call you right back.” That’s because she’s always available for her clients and will always answer their phone calls. She’s been an agent selling in the Birmingham area for 27 years. She’s good at being there for her clients and giving them solid advice. If she doesn’t think she could resell the house at a profit, she’s not going to advise you to buy it. “I always try to be honest with them about buying and selling,” she said. “I want to make sure you make a great purchase so you can resell it when you get ready to resell. I want to know that it fits your needs.” She loves everything about the real estate business, she said. She’s a people person, and she said there’s nothing like the friendships she’s made over the years. “There’s one family I’ve worked with for over 20 years. I started out selling to the mom and dad and watching their five kids grow up over the years,” she said. “Now all the kids are married with children, and I’ve sold them multiple homes. To have that relationship and be able to take care of them and their children on the real estate side, it’s been very rewarding. These type of relationships are the why I do this.” She’s got many things to look forward to in 2021, such as helping her clients lock into the record-low mortgage rates. And because inventory is currently so low, it's a great market for sellers as well.

Top Producing Women of LAH Real Estate


► WHERE: 4274 Cahaba Heights Court, Suite 200 ► CALL: 205-243-4599 ► WEBSITE: ledamims.com “I’m looking forward to it being a great year for buyers and sellers. From first-time homebuyers to anyone who’s looking to make that move into a bigger house — or even if they want to downsize — now’s the time to do it. You can get into your forever home with a great interest rate for 30 years.”

A strong team of real estate agents makes a transaction easier for a buyer or seller. LAH Real Estate has expert agents who guide you through the processes seamlessly. JanieMac Roe, in the Mountain Brook office, purchased her first home at 23. After marriage and starting her family, she obtained her real years and always wanted to estate license to work in sales and serve people have the flexibility in this way,” Jessica said. of being her own "When I became a single mom, boss. I got my license and have been “I am customerloving my job ever since.” service oriented ► WHERE: Mountain Brook Realtor Jana Clark, of the and make it a • Crestline • Homewood • Hoover office, grew up in the point to always be Hoover industry with a father working available to my ► CALL: 205-870-8580 in homebuilding. After college, clients,” JanieMac ► WEBSITE: lahrealestate. she gravitated toward real said. “I also try to com estate to use her knowledge make my clients and love for helping people. feel comfortable “I pride myself on my connection with by being knowledgeable about all the my clients,” Jana said. “My high level of aspects of their transaction.” service, communication and attention to Working out of LAH Real Estate’s detail is what you will experience.” Homewood office, Jessica Daviston is These top producing women of a hands-on agent who thinks outside LAH are client-focused and highly the box to help her clients find strategic knowledgeable to make all your real solutions when buying or selling. estate dreams a reality. “I was a stay-at-home mom for nine

B10 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

Kristie Lyons


LYONS ELECTROLYSIS & LASHES Men with a little ovarian syndrome or stubble can look ruggedly hirsutism. handsome. Unfortunately, After completing their the same isn’t true for series of treatments, women, and even those many of her clients are so ruggedly handsome guys overjoyed with the results may tire of shaving every that they cry or even hug morning. her in gratitude. That’s why the owner “My clients really do ► WHERE: 1078 of Lyons Electrolysis & change right in front of Montgomery Highway Lashes, Kristie Lyons, is my eyes,” Lyons said.“If ► CALL: 205-515-6528 in the business of helping you’ve never dealt with ► WEBSITE: lyons people uncover the beauty unwanted hair, you electrolysis.com beneath unwanted hair. wouldn’t understand how Lyon’s daughter Hope it makes others feel. It’s Underwood joined the team full time in embarrassing and depressing.” 2019. She loves seeing the smiles on her She adds to her clients’ beauty with clients’ faces once the hair is removed. lash extensions, but her primary service That is one of the things that she is providing electrolysis, the only FDAenjoys most about her profession. approved method of permanent hair “I connect with every one of my removal. Electrolysis can be used to treat clients. It is truly a pleasure seeing each anyone who has unwanted hair and can and every one of them. I listen to their be performed on any hair color or skin problems and try to help them as much type. as I can while they are in my studio. I “I offer anyone who needs it a chance console them when needed. I laugh and to get rid of unwanted hair once and cry with them. I don’t think I have one for all,” said Lyons, whose passion client who doesn’t talk to me during their for helping others feel better about entire treatment.” themselves has become the driving force The only time her clients don’t talk behind her business. to her during treatments is if she is She was motivated to become an applying lashes. During that application, electrologist after both she and her most clients are so comfortable that they mother struggled with unwanted hair. fall asleep within minutes. Lyons’s mother suffered from hormonal With hair removal, Lyons helps clients imbalances, and she wishes that she had uncover their beauty. With lash extensions been able to change her mother’s life in she enhances it, turning beautiful eyes the same ways that she changes the lives into stunning ones. She applies Xtreme of her clients every day. Lashes Semi-Permanent Lash Extensions It is not uncommon for some of strand by strand to create lashes that look her clients to come to her because of naturally full and long. medical conditions that cause unwanted “It’s life-changing,” Lyons said about facial hair growth. She helps women her entire line of services, “and it’s the with conditions such as polycystic best feeling in the world to help these

Vivian Mora STATE FARM

As a role model for business women everywhere, State Farm agent Vivian Mora believes in making a difference for the community and the people you serve. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with a Spanish father and a Danish-Yugoslavian mother, Vivian aspired to make a life of success and helping others. Having earned two master’s degrees, including a Master's in Communication Management from UAB, Vivian is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, with more than 20 years of experience in language teaching and translation in Spain, Brazil, Spain and the U.S. Moving to the Magic City in 2000, Vivian co-hosted the first bilingual educational radio and TV programs in Alabama while pioneering bilingual positions for International Business Development, Local Government and Agencies as a liaison with the Alabama’s Hispanic community. It wasn’t until 2009 that Vivian forged another path to serve the Hispanic

► WHERE: 3253 Lorna Road ► CALL: 205-822-5023 ► WEBSITE: vivianmoraagency.com community, opening her bilingual State Farm office to serve as an invaluable source for the local Hispanic market. Her success? Inspiring, and merited her business being voted Agency of the Year 2020 with Hoover magazine. “It is very rewarding to meet with customers in different stages of life, from students ready for college, to excited startup entrepreneurs, newlyweds or soon-to-be retirees. We get to listen to their concerns, assess their current risks and help them protect and plan for the future of their families and their businesses,” Vivian said.  Whether it’s for renter’s insurance for college, insurance for a first home or life insurance for new parents, Vivian is there to support life-changing events. “Our mission is to be there when customers need us,” Vivian said. “Being a State Farm agent has been a blessing, and it is my privilege to make a positive impact on customers’ lives.”

ladies and gentlemen get their selfconfidence back and feel beautiful and handsome in their own skin again!” Lyons also recently added zero gravity massage chairs to its services. These

chairs evenly distribute a client’s body weight throughout the chair, which reduces the impact of gravity on certain parts of the body and leaves the client completely relaxed.

Jennifer Lazenby THE LAZENBY TEAM

arts arena, designing The Lazenby Team, REALTORS® of ARC and applying highRealty-Hoover, is all end decorative finishes for residential about relationships. and commercial “The buying and ► WHERE: 5220 Peridot Place, properties throughout selling of real estate is Suite 124 not a unique service, the state. They have ► CALL: 205-365-8598 but the company and developed many long ► WEBSITE: lazenbyteam. those who represent term relationships arcrealtyco.com with their clients. it are,“ Jennifer Their focus on the Lazenby said. “We chose a company that was modeled value of necessity, communication and around our beliefs and values and the expectation are a key component to their importance of relationships.“ success. “This transition is exciting for the ARC Realty Company was a natural fit Lazenby Team. We look forward to because of their emphasis on building relationships and the support system providing a new generation of clients they have created to ensure their agents with a quality real estate selling, buying are successful. or investment experience.“ The Lazenby Team has been very “Our goal is to be your real estate visible for over 20 years in the decorative professionals for life.“




If you’re looking for a real estate agent who knows Hoover and surrounding areas, Gwen Vinzant with RealtySouth is the one for you. Vinzant has been in the business for 32 years and has lived in Hoover for 35 years, including the past 30 in Riverchase. She is a repeat top producer for RealtySouth in the Birmingham area and has handled real estate transactions for more than 450 houses valued at $140 million since 1999 and more than $300 million in her career as a whole. She specializes in Hoover and other communities south of Birmingham and has expertise in relocation, resales, new construction and even commercial property. Currently, she is working with Centennial Homes LLC to sell five new homes in Heatherwood on lots of 1 acre or more and prices starting at $925,000. She also works with corporations such as Southern Company when they have new employees come into Alabama who want help finding a good home. Vinzant said she loves showing off her hometown of Hoover and the metro area and helping people from all walks of life find the home that is right for them. Plus, “watching Hoover grow has just been so fabulous,” she said. Real estate is more than a business to her. She enjoys getting to know new people and helping their families through different stages of life. She helped a lot of her friends find new homes and later transition into garden homes as their children grew up and moved out, and she helped their children find homes as well. Now, she is helping a lot of her own children’s friends find homes. Vinzant also has a heart for serving the community, supporting ministries and organizations such as The Foundry,

► WHERE: 109 Inverness Plaza ► CALL: 205-222-4750 ► WEBSITE: gwenvinzant.com Riverchase Baptist Church, The Charity League, Riverchase Women’s Club, National Association of Realtors, the Hoover Senior Center and Red Mountain Grace, which provides housing for out-of-town families seeking medical care in Birmingham. When she’s not doing real estate, Vinzant loves spending time with her family, walking, cooking, gardening and traveling. Her favorite places to travel were Ireland and Italy. Vinzant is growing her business. She recently added Ryan Grater to her team, who will work with her to provide more services, more tips and ideas, more exposure and the best possible real estate experience around. The market has been exceptional this past year, despite COVID-19. “I’ve been busy — extremely busy,” Vinzant said. “People are still having to move.” She expected to close out 2020 with more than $10 million in sales. Vinzant has taken measures to ensure the safety of all her clients during the pandemic, having people wear masks and providing sanitizing wipes. She also has done more video tours for either sellers who didn’t want a lot of people coming into their homes or buyers looking for alternate ways to see inside homes. The market should stay strong in 2021, with low inventory helping keep home prices up for sellers and low interest rates helping make houses more affordable for buyers, Vinzant said.

The Women of the Hoover Met Complex

The Hoover Met Complex is a thriving, state-of-the-art multiuse community sports complex right here in the city of Hoover. It is managed by the Sports Facilities Companies, but there is a strong team of women behind the operations at the Hoover Met Complex, and many will attest that they are a large driving force behind the successful nature of the facility. Office Manager Erin Finney, RV/ Administrative Coordinator Windy Allen, Finance/HR Manager Amanda Helton, Sales Coordinator Lisa Fehr, Administrative Coordinator Brittany Costello and Marketing Manager Taryn Fink keep things on the right track at the Met Complex. “We all come from varied backgrounds and work experiences, but loving sports and enjoying making things run smoothly is something we all share on some level,” Fink said. The large complex boasts a stateof-the-art, 155,000-square-foot indoor facility, which includes an indoor climbing center, suspended walking track, basketball, volleyball and pickleball courts and multiple meeting rooms. The complex also includes the Hoover Met Stadium, a 170-space RV park, a 16 hard court tennis center, disability-inclusive playground and splash pad, and baseball/softball and multipurpose outdoor fields. “The Hoover Met Complex is a wonderful place to work. You see kids as young as 5 years old, seniors on the walking track and some of the finest college athletes in the country. It is truly a world-class venue for sports tourism and grassroots community sports,” Fehr said. The Hoover Met Complex can transform to accommodate various types of events, ranging from small company meetings to large-scale tournaments, as well as trade shows, birthday and holiday parties and all sorts of sporting events. Each of the women have learned

► WHERE: 5508 Stadium Trace Parkway ► CALL: 205-739-7364 ► WEBSITE: hoovermetcomplex.com a great deal working in the industry throughout the years, and they enjoy the daily opportunities to positively impact the lives of others. The women of the Hoover Met Complex strive to provide a safe, comfortable, encouraging and fun environment for all guests.

“The most valuable trick of the trade is to offer everyone a chance to explain their situation, as people simply like to be heard,” Finney said. Backing up Finney, Costello said: “Since this job primarily involves the public, a trick of the trade would be mastering the art of dealing with people of all ages and personalities.” “Flexibility is most valuable, because it allows you to adapt to any situation,” Allen added. The complex has adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic, adopting a number of policies and procedures to ensure the safety of everyone at the site’s various events. This includes reducing venue capacity, increasing the frequency of

cleaning and placing sanitation stations throughout the complex. The facility is nearly fully booked for 2021, with plenty of marquee events to complement the traditional local programs. Hoover residents from all walks of life can find something to enjoy at the Hoover Met Complex. The mission of Sports Facilities Companies is to improve communities through sports. “What you focus on expands,” Helton explained. “By realizing and prioritizing the needs of our facility as well as our community, we hope to provide an enjoyable and memorable experience for everyone. The key is to find a positive point of focus and go from there.”

B12 • January 2021


Julie Hogan, Sutton Yeilding, Jasmine Turner


Julie Hogan is the interim director of Dear Seniors, which provides private, in-home care for older adults. She, along with a great team of women that includes Assistant Director Jasmine Turner and Sutton Yeilding, helps Dear Seniors change the lives of many families through thoughtful and compassionate care. “No matter what their situation is, we can help,” Hogan said. The term "aging in place" describes what Dear Seniors assists with: helping adults transition into new stages of life without being forced to leave their own homes if at all possible. Dear Seniors can help out with just about anything. “We can set up services to come into the home, and we’re giving them the option to have everything come to them. We’re providing the personal care aspect,” Hogan said. “The advantages of being able to age in place are numerous,” Hogan added. “Obviously, there’s the psychological aspect. When they are able to stay in their home, they are happier and better able to adjust.” Hogan has been in the senior care industry for 12 years and firmly believes in Dear Seniors’ mission to keep the clients in need at the top of the priority list each and every day. “It’s rewarding because you really are able to make a difference every day,” she said. “I’m really proud of being able to touch a lot of lives on a daily basis.” Hogan knows that most people call Dear Seniors when difficult situations arise with a family member, so the center answers the phone 24 hours a day and offers a quick response time. Hogan also believes that Dear Seniors has become an even more important

service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to stay at home and not be exposed to a multitude of other patients or medical staff at a facility has been vital to many of Dear Seniors’ clients. “We’re seeing patients who aren’t having to be exposed to a lot of staff,” she said. “This is a much better way to keep the seniors safe. We’ve got some really great things in place to keep them safe.” Hogan hopes the company continues its growth as the calendar turns over to 2021. Dear Seniors is not motivated by

the bottom line but by the lives touched. “We look forward to the opportunity to touch more lives and make a bigger impact,” she said. The field staff and caregivers at Dear Seniors are primarily women, and Hogan loves how her company is able to better the lives of others. “It’s great to have this unique opportunity to impact the lives of our clients and also the women that are working with us,” Hogan said. “We’re nurturers by nature.”

► WHERE: 500 Chase Park S., Suite 110 ► CALL: 205-401-6999 “It feels great to work together toward a common goal,” Turner added. "We have love and give love to our clients.”



It is said that good things come to those who wait. RealtySouth’s Kelli Gunnells can attest to that! Having sold new homes in Ross Bridge since 2005, a plan was birthed for a real estate office in Village Center. “On-site agents represent builders, and as years went on there was no assistance for buyers of existing homes,” Gunnells said. “Having experienced visitors to the area from all over the world, I know the level of inquiry about what is for sale. Open seven days a week, buyers can be assisted immediately. Listing with my office, last-minute showings are made easy.” Kelli is a real estate professional serving the Hoover metro market for the better part of 24 years. The Ross Bridge office is located right next to the nail spa and Front Porch. Office

► WHERE: 2301 Grand Ave., Suite 101 ► CALL: 205-800-7779 ► WEBSITE: moveto rossbridge.com hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. “Reflecting on the last 15 years, I’ve been part of a story. The birth of a community, I’ve watched newly married couples now see their kids graduate. Kids would pop by the model home to show me how they could ride their bike, had lost a tooth or gotten As on their report card. I’m thrilled to be in the heart of Ross again to work with new and old friends as the story continues.” Honest Abe said, “Good things come to those who wait … but only what’s left from those who hustle!” If you are looking to buy or sell, inventory is low everywhere, so contact Kelli.

If there is one thing for certain, Susan Fuqua’s passion in the Municipal Court system is to serve the City of Hoover by providing rehabilitation and safety programs to the community. Susan started with the City in 1990, as Court/ Clerk Head Magistrate. At that time, Hoover had less than 300 employees and a population of approximately 40,000. Thirty years later, Susan now serves as Court Director and the city has grown to nearly 800 employees and nearly 90,000 residents. Susan considers helping to form the Alabama Municipal Court the state Legislature,” Susan Clerks & Magistrates says. Association as her Susan is proud of how the greatest professional court system is changing achievement. lives by providing users with “Keeping Magistrates alternative programs and tools to educated on the laws was help them overcome barriers. extremely important to “Having our own drug lab and court procedures,” she ► WHERE: 2020 Court Referral Officers allows explains. She went all Valleydale Road us to devote the time necessary the way to the Alabama ► CALL: for each individual,” she says. Supreme Court to make 205-444-7542 “It is heartfelt when we get it happen. The measure ► WEBSITE: very good response letters from later went to the Alabama www.hooveral.org people saying their lives have Legislature and is now changed for the better.” the only program of its kind in the It’s no wonder Susan’s passion is to serve state, requiring mandatory certification Hoover through her court. “I can leave classes and yearly continuing education classes for court clerks and magistrates. my office feeling good knowing we have helped someone, and that I contribute to “The association has given municipal courts a voice in the judicial system and my outstanding staff,” she said.



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B14 • January 2021

Hoover Sun


Spain Park wide receiver Cooper Kelley (10) makes a catch during the Jags’ game against Hueytown on Oct. 29 at Hueytown High School. Kelley led an explosive Jags passing attack with 1,002 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 53 catches. Photo by Todd Lester.

Bucs, Jags combine for 3 on 1st team Hoover wide receiver RJ Hamilton (80) tacks on yards after a completion during a game against Tuscaloosa County on Oct. 16 at the Hoover Met. Photo by Barry Stephenson.



he 2020 high school football season was one unlike any other. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic forced forfeits, limited capacities in stadiums and many other irregularities. But that did not prevent players and teams throughout the area from putting together spectacular performances worthy of the All-South Metro team. This fall, Briarwood’s Tyler Waugh earned the overall and Defensive Player of the Year honors, thanks to his outstanding production as a linebacker and goal line runner for the Lions. Oak Mountain quarterback Evan Smith ran wild all season and is the Offensive Player of the Year. The Eagles had a terrific season, leading to Cris Bell being named Coach of the Year. Buddy Anderson completed his 43rd and final season as the Vestavia Hills head coach as well. He won 346 games in an outstanding career. ► Player of the Year: Tyler Waugh, Briarwood ► Offensive Player of the Year: Evan Smith, Oak Mountain ► Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Waugh, Briarwood ► Coach of the Year: Cris Bell, Oak Mountain ► Lifetime Achievement Award: Buddy Anderson

1ST TEAM OFFENSE ► QB: Evan Smith, Oak Mountain – led the area with 1,719 yards, albeit from the quarterback spot. He scored 29 total touchdowns in a stellar season. ► RB: Armoni Goodwin, Hewitt-Trussville – capped off a brilliant career with 1,422 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. ► RB: Judah Tait, Oak Mountain – complemented Smith with 1,412 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as part of a dominant ground attack. ► WR: RJ Hamilton, Hoover – the dynamic

sophomore eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, catching 53 passes and nine touchdowns with 1,063 yards. ► WR: Cooper Kelley, Spain Park – led an explosive Jags passing attack with 1,002 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 53 catches. ► WR: Marquarius White, Clay-Chalkville – emerged as the Cougars’ go-to receiver and had 13 receiving touchdowns with 877 yards. ► WR: Omari Kelly, Hewitt-Trussville – finished the year with 710 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. ► OL: Riley Quick, Hewitt-Trussville – a punishing blocker who paved the way for a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. ► OL: Carson McKeen, Briarwood – played four positions along the line throughout the year and had 31 pancakes for the Lions. ► OL: Nick Paradise, Hoover – has provided stability at the center position for several

years for the Bucs. ► OL: Jack Smith, Mountain Brook – allowed just one sack all year, finishing with 34 pancakes and 48 knockdowns. ► OL: Nic Rigdon, Oak Mountain – paved the way for an Eagles’ ground attack that averaged 328 yards per game. ► ATH: GaQuincy McKinstry, Pinson Valley – did a little bit of everything for the Indians, notching over 600 receiving yards and intercepting two passes for touchdowns. ► K/P: Jaren Van Winkle, Clay-Chalkville – a four-year starter for the Cougars, making all 54 of his extra points and all eight of his field goal attempts, along with averaging 38 yards per punt. ► K/P: Hogan Morton, Oak Mountain – made 37-of-39 extra points and 5-of-7 field goals. He finished his career with 88 points.

DEFENSE ► DL: Justice Finkley, Hewitt-Trussville – finished with 82 total tackles and 24 quarterback hurries despite battling double and triple teams all season. ► DL: Lawrence Johnson, John Carroll – put together a strong season for the upstart Cavs, finishing with 20 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. ► DL: Gavin Nelson, Oak Mountain – led the Eagles defense with 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. ► DL: Braxton Wetzler, Mountain Brook – plugged up the middle for the Spartans, notching 56 total tackles and six tackles for loss. ► LB: Parker Hutson, Briarwood – racked up 110 tackles and did a little bit of everything for the Lions, including contributing on offense. ► LB: Jonathon Harris, Clay-Chalkville – the most valuable force of the Cougars defense,

Starnes_vert_11122020.pdf HooverSun.com



January 2021 • B15

4:57 PM









All living things, from plants to people, need water to live. Water sustains the life of our economy as well, from generating electricity to producing goods and services. Understanding the tough times we are in, the Birmingham Water Works Board has voted for no rate increase for 2021 while still meeting our financial obligations. For life and for business...water is essential.

B16 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

Above: Spain Park quarterback Bennett Meredith (3) during a game against Hewitt-Trussville on Sept. 3 at Jaguar Stadium in Hoover. Photo by James Nicholas. Left: Hoover offensive lineman Nicholas Paradise (52) leads receiver Malik Thomas (1) during a game against Oak Mountain on Sept. 18 at the Hoover Met. Photo by Barry Stephenson.

finishing with 93 tackles. ► LB: Mike Edwards, Hewitt-Trussville – contributed 84 tackles and four interceptions for the Huskies. ► LB: Charlie Goode, Homewood – wrapped up a stellar career with 109 tackles for the Patriots. ► DB: Alastair Harris, Briarwood – the Swiss Army knife of the Lions defense, finishing with 79 tackles and two interceptions. ► DB: Trey Washington, Hewitt-Trussville – the Ole Miss commit covered the opposition’s best receiver each week, finishing with 54 tackles and a couple picks. ► DB: Blake Pugh, Mountain Brook – picked off four passes and recovered two fumbles while finishing with 49 tackles. ► DB: Joseph Sullivan, Vestavia Hills – was all over the place for the Rebels, intercepting

two passes and contributing 87 tackles. ► ATH: Tyler Waugh, Briarwood – led the area with 165 total tackles, while contributing two defensive touchdowns as well. He also rushed for 13 touchdowns in goal line packages.

2ND TEAM OFFENSE ► QB: Bennett Meredith, Spain Park – led one of the state’s most explosive passing attacks, finishing the year with 3,106 yards and 24 touchdowns. ► RB: Edward Osley, Clay-Chalkville – rushed for 1,328 yards and 15 touchdowns. ► RB: Luke Reebals, Briarwood – a terrific all-around player, rushing for 1,149 yards and receiving for 499 more, with 10 total touchdowns.

► WR: Jaylen Ward, Spain Park – as the second leading receiver for the Jags, finished with 876 yards and five touchdowns. ► WR: Malik Thomas, Hoover – capped off his career with 724 receiving yards and 10 scores. ► WR: Len Irvine, Homewood – had 51 grabs for 694 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots’ primary pass-catching option. ► WR: Brooks Donnelly, Briarwood – returned from injury to catch six touchdown passes with 537 yards. ► OL: Will Grant, Mountain Brook – had 32 pancakes and 42 knockdowns as the Spartans’ center. ► OL: Drew Rowland, Oak Mountain – graded over 85% for the season for the Eagles. ► OL: Dawson Ray, Vestavia Hills – paved the way for an always strong Rebels

rushing attack. ► OL: Rayvon Crum, Pinson Valley – the North Texas commit was the leader on the Indians’ line. ► OL: Izziah Williams, Clay-Chalkville – the Cougars’ highest-graded lineman, playing every position throughout the year. ► ATH: Carter Short, Hoover – the Bucs’ long snapper is committed to be a preferred walk-on at Alabama. ► ATH: Quad Harrison, John Carroll – had 403 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns and also intercepted four passes. ► K/P: Drake Tabor, Spain Park – a kicker in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic, converted 37-of-42 extra points on the year. ► K/P: Matthew McMeans, Vestavia Hills – made 30-of-31 extra points for the Rebels.

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Let us help spread the news! Email janderson@starnespublishing.com to submit your announcement.


January 2021 • B17 Spain Park wide receiver Jaylen Ward (1) runs after making a catch during a game against Hueytown on Oct. 29 at Hueytown High School. Ward was the second leading receiver for the Jags, finishing with 876 yards and five touchdowns. Photo by Todd Lester.

DEFENSE ► DL: Markus Clark, Hoover – was a force on the line for the Bucs, causing three fumbles and making five sacks. ► DL: Bryce Littleton, Vestavia Hills – had 11 tackles for loss. ► DL: Julian Peterson, Pinson Valley – finished the year with 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. ► DL: Daniel Corbin, Briarwood – had seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. ► LB: Marcus Williams, Hoover – broke up five passes, intercepted two and finished with 52 total tackles. ► LB: Landen Berguson, Hewitt-Trussville – led the Huskies with 135 tackles. ► LB: John McMillan, Mountain Brook – had 85 tackles and eight tackles for loss. ► LB: Dean Null, Oak Mountain – played

his best in big games, finishing the year with 62 tackles and four fumble recoveries. ► DB: Cal Higdon, Briarwood – broke up six passes and blocked two kicks. He also finished with 82 tackles. ► DB: Zach Taylor, Oak Mountain – picked off four passes and broke up five others. ► DB: James Nichols, Mountain Brook – the ball-hawking defender intercepted six passes. ► DB: Amon Scarbrough, Pinson Valley – finished with five interceptions and more than 60 tackles.


► QB: Christopher Vizzina, Briarwood; Khalib Johnson, Clay-Chalkville; Cade Ott Carruth, Hewitt-Trussville; Josh Lundy, Hoover; Strother Gibbs, Mountain Brook; Braden Glenn, Vestavia Hills; Zachary Pyron, Pinson Valley

► RB: Collier Blair, Chelsea; Sean Jackson, Hewitt-Trussville; Jayden Taylor, Hoover; Michael Brogan, Mountain Brook; Justin Pegues, Spain Park; Landon Neese, Vestavia Hills; Taiyo Crawford, Vestavia Hills; Kenji Christian, Pinson Valley ► WR: Micah Woods, Pinson Valley; Jordan McCants, Clay-Chalkville; Noah Young, Oak Mountain; Cole Turner, Vestavia Hills; Charlie Hughes, Vestavia Hills; Adam Reaves, Chelsea ► OL: Alex Moorer, Briarwood; Ahmante Altman, Clay-Chalkville; Corey Calvin, ClayChalkville; Hoke Smith, Vestavia Hills ► DL: Jacob Katona, Oak Mountain; Micai George, Oak Mountain; Samuel Garibay, Spain Park; Mike Lawrence, Vestavia Hills; James Perkins, Pinson Valley; Tradarrius Swanson, Pinson Valley ► LB: Chandler Pruitt, Chelsea; Jamarcus Dunn, Clay-Chalkville; Jason Riles, Hoover;

Trent Wright, Mountain Brook; Kaniji Chandler, Pinson Valley ► DB: Haddon Stubbs, Briarwood; Jayden Sweeney, Clay-Chalkville; Kameron Peterson, Clay-Chalkville; Matthew Palmer, Hoover; Brock Payne, Mountain Brook; Jimmy Harris, Oak Mountain; Tomas Wesley, Pinson Valley ► K/P: Sam Niven, Chelsea; Luke Harris, John Carroll – Starnes Media produces seven monthly newspapers, and members of the All-South Metro team include players from Briarwood, Chelsea, Oak Mountain, Hoover, Spain Park, Homewood, John Carroll, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, Clay-Chalkville, Hewitt-Trussville and Pinson Valley. The team was compiled by the staff of Starnes Media in consultation with local coaches.

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B18 • January 2021

Hoover Sun

Bucs reach semifinals for 3rd straight year

The Bucs finished the season with an 11-2 mark, winning at least 10 games for the 19th time in the last 21 years. Photo by Barry Stephenson.

By KYLE PARMLEY Only one team was able to trip up the Hoover High School football team during the 2020 season. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, those two losses came at the hands of Thompson, the eventual Class 7A state champion. After starting out 9-0 on the year, Hoover suffered a 39-23 defeat to Thompson on Oct. 23 to wrap up the regular season and hand the Region 3 title to the Warriors. Nearly a month later, the Warriors upended Hoover 52-14 in the 7A semifinals to advance to the state championship game. The Bucs finished the season with an 11-2 mark, winning at least 10 games for the 19th time in the last 21 years. Hoover began the year with an impressive 45-35 win over Central-Phenix City, a team that also advanced to the semifinals. Central jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the game and held a 28-21 edge at the half before the Bucs scored 24 unanswered points to begin the second half. The following week, the Bucs stormed past Bessemer City in a 62-0 victory, setting up the rivalry showdown between Hoover and Vestavia Hills on Sept. 4. Due to COVID-19 wiping out the Rebels’ first two games, Vestavia played its first game of the season against Hoover, the region opener for both teams. In that game, Hoover withstood a late rally to beat the Rebels 24-21. Hoover controlled the game and was up 17 points entering the fourth quarter, but Vestavia made it tight at the end. It was the first game for the Rebels in Buddy Anderson’s 43rd and final season as head coach.

The next week, Hoover trounced Gadsden City 38-0 before routing Oak Mountain 42-7 on Sept. 18. The Eagles entered the game 4-0 for the first time in school history and were flying high, but Hoover pounced early and never relented. On Sept. 25, the Bucs took care of Prattville 28-6 in a non-region game. The following Friday, Hoover notched perhaps its most impressive win of the season in a 29-28 win at Hewitt-Trussville. Hoover overcame a 28-16 deficit in the second half, getting a pair of key rushing touchdowns from Jaylen Taylor.

Hoover outlasted rival Spain Park 47-34 on Oct. 8 to earn its eighth straight win to begin the season. The two teams accumulated more than 1,000 total yards in the game, but the Bucs had enough firepower to push to the win. Hoover took care of Tuscaloosa County 48-21 before the regular season finale against Thompson. In the 39-23 defeat, Hoover’s defense forced three turnovers, including a score by Markus Clark, but the Bucs were unable to muster enough offensively to challenge the potent warriors. The Bucs began the playoffs with a

convincing 49-14 win over Sparkman on Nov. 6 and followed that up with a 24-21 win over Oak Mountain on Nov. 13. The rematch with the Eagles was much closer than the regular season contest, with the Bucs overcoming an early 13-0 hole and stopping Oak Mountain on a late fourth down to preserve the win. In the semifinal loss to Thompson, the Warriors jumped ahead 21-0 and led 31-7 at the half, leaving no doubt as to the result of the game. It was the fourth year in a row Hoover and Thompson have met in the semifinals, with Thompson winning the last three of those.

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

All patients are required to wear a mask for their appointment and while in our lobby. During these difficult times, it is even more critical that those in need of healthcare services have access to treatment, while practicing social distancing and exposing them as little as possible to any potential infections. In order to continue serving our patients and be considerate of their safety, we are temporarily limiting our appointment hours during this crisis.


Please call our office or visit our website for specific office hours at each of our locations. Birmingham - Princeton - Hoover - Cullman - Gardendale - Alabaster - Jasper - Pell City - Trussville

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January 2021 • B19

All-South Metro Volleyball: McKinnon named POY By KYLE PARMLEY The third annual Starnes Media AllSouth Metro volleyball team comes on the heels of a 2020 season that saw Mountain Brook and Hoover high schools capture state titles. Mountain Brook won the Class 6A championship, while Hoover claimed the 7A crown, its first in program history. The players of the year came from those teams, with Hoover’s Rya McKinnon earning Offensive and overall Player of the Year honors. Mountain Brook libero Evelyn King was named Defensive Player of the Year. John Carroll’s Michael Heard earned Coach of the Year recognition for leading the Cavaliers to the state tournament in his first season. ► Player of the Year: Rya McKinnon, Hoover ► Offensive Player of the Year: Rya McKinnon, Hoover ► Defensive Player of the Year: Evelyn King, Mountain Brook ► Coach of the Year: Michael Heard, John Carroll


► Outside hitter: Rya McKinnon, Hoover, junior – won Player of the Year honors with 543 kills and 234 digs for the 7A champion. ► Outside hitter: Audrey Rothman, Spain Park, junior – had 512 kills, 244 assists and 172 digs for the runner-up Jags. ► Outside hitter: Olivia Brown, Homewood, junior – had a strong balance of 362 kills and 318 digs for the Patriots. ► Outside hitter: Celie Field, Mountain Brook, senior – led the Spartans to the state championship,

tallying 317 kills and 327 digs in a stellar season. ► Setter: Aly Durban, Hoover, senior – piled up 1,262 assists in an outstanding senior season for the champs. ► Setter: Hannah Parant, Mountain Brook, freshman – racked up 897 assists and 237 digs as a first-year player. ► Libero: Evelyn King, Mountain Brook, senior – the Defensive Player of the Year had 676 digs on the year. ► Libero: Amelia Ragusa, John Carroll, senior – had 497 digs and wrapped up a five-year varsity career by leading the Cavs to the state tournament. ► Middle hitter: Gabrielle Essix, Hoover, senior – the Florida signee had 378 kills and 83 blocks as a powerful force for the Bucs. ► Middle hitter: Greer Golden, Mountain Brook, junior – finished with 306 kills and 84 blocks in a championship-winning season. ► Right side: Amaya Rudolph, Chelsea, senior – played four years for the Hornets, capping her career with 233 kills, 137 digs and 31 blocks. ► Right side: Mackenzie Yoakum, Homewood, junior – despite missing time, the lefty finished with 199 kills, 75 digs and 42 blocks.


► Outside hitter: Sydney Melton, Hoover, senior – wrapped up her career with 237 kills. ► Outside hitter: Landry Frisch, Oak Mountain, senior – finished her high school career with 285 kills and 153 digs this season. ► Outside hitter: Hope Wright, Chelsea, senior – finished out her

and 91 digs for the Rebels. ►Right side: Riley Kelner, John Carroll, senior – had 390 kills, 75 aces and 156 digs.


Hoover’s Rya McKinnon (9) spikes the ball as Chelsea’s Amaya Rudolph (7) jumps to block Aug. 27. Photo by Erin Nelson.

career with a strong season, contributing 273 kills, 252 digs and 81 aces. ► Outside hitter: Emily Breazeale, Spain Park, sophomore – finished with 263 kills as a strong complement to Rothman. ► Setter: Madison Moore, Chelsea, sophomore – was one of the team’s two main setters, registering 477 assists, 138 digs and 53 aces. ► Setter: Olivia Outman, Homewood, junior – ran the Homewood offense with 682 assists and 210 digs. ► Libero: Ava McMillan, Vestavia

Hills, senior – finished a stellar career with over 1,000 career digs. ► Libero: Sarah Smith, Homewood, senior – the Memphis signee had 595 digs in her final season. ► Middle hitter: Kayla Jemison, Hoover, senior – had 141 kills and 70 blocks for the Bucs. ► Middle hitter: Hannah Hitson, Mountain Brook, junior – put forth 201 kills, 75 blocks and 61 digs for the Spartans. ► Right side: Angelica Vines, Vestavia Hills, junior – had 288 kills

► Outside hitter: Emma Pohlmann, Chelsea; Lacee Sheaffer, Oak Mountain; Lilly Gilbert, Mountain Brook; Emma Crawford, Briarwood; Stella Yester, John Carroll; Megan Walker, Vestavia Hills ► Setter: Morgan Martin, Chelsea; Kathryn Smith, Oak Mountain; Lilly Johnson, Spain Park; Sara Archer, John Carroll; Alice Armstrong, Vestavia Hills ► Middle hitter: Morgan Scott, John Carroll; Erin Jenkins, John Carroll; Lily Janas, Homewood; Stella Helms, Briarwood ► Right side: Bella Halyard, Spain Park; Mel Jones, Hoover; Sims Kilgore, Mountain Brook; Jayni Thompson, Oak Mountain ► Defensive specialist: Anna Sartin, Chelsea; Eva Guenster, Hoover; Paige Ingersoll, Spain Park; Brooklyn Allison, Spain Park; Halley Callaham, Homewood; Peyton David, Hoover ► Libero: Sydney Jaffe, Oak Mountain; Katelyn Walsh, Spain Park; Kendal Youngblood, Hoover – Starnes Media produces seven monthly newspapers, and members of the All-South Metro team include players from Briarwood, Chelsea, Oak Mountain, Hoover, Spain Park, Homewood, John Carroll, Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook. The team was compiled by the staff of Starnes Media in consultation with local coaches.

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