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


he’s never been elected to municipal office, but that has never stopped people from calling Mary Sue Ludwig the “mayor” of Greystone. The 82-year-old woman has lived in the Greystone community for 28 years and is often one of the first people called upon when important issues arise that affect the affluent community. If a developer wants to build a new subdivision or business near Greystone, she’s usually in the loop. If the state wants to make changes to U.S. 280 or Alabama 119 in that vicinity, Ludwig will know about it. If there are issues with taxes, sewer fees or fire dues, people will call her. And Ludwig is almost always at any public meeting that involves the Greystone community, speaking out on behalf of residents,

See LUDWIG | page A20 Mary Sue Ludwig, the “mayor” of Greystone, stands in the foyer of her home. Ludwig has been a resident of the Greystone community for 28 years. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Family, friendships, blessings

Hoover resident Bob Harrison sits with his Gibson guitar outside his home office in the Shades Mountain community Oct. 6. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Hoover residents find ways to be thankful amid 2020 pandemic

By JON ANDERSON When 2020 began, no one had a clue that a pandemic would cover the globe, infecting more than 40 million people with a novel coronavirus and taking the lives of more than 1.1 million people. Or that as a result of that pandemic, governors and health officers across the


Sponsors.......................... A4 News.................................. A6

country would shut down businesses in a multitude of industries, putting more than 14 million additional people out of work and raising the national unemployment rate to 14.4%. The pandemic wreaked temporary havoc on the economy, shut down schools, churches and sporting events, and forced people to isolate themselves from family, friends, coworkers and neighbors.

Business........................... A11 Chamber.........................A14

Sports............................... B4 Events............................... B9

The year also brought a wave of social and racial unrest as protesters, rioters and looters took to the streets in cities across America, upset about police treatment of minorities. Communities, including Hoover, became hotbeds of debate over subjects ranging from law enforcement

See THANKFUL | page A22 Community..................... B14 Schoolhouse................... B16 facebook.com/hooversunnews

Moss Magic

Next Chapter

The Moss Rock Festival will look different for its 15th year — with an alternate location and a touch of “magic.”

Hoover schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy has accepted a new job as president of Gadsden State Community College.

See page B10

See page B16

A2 • November 2020

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Hoover Sun


November 2020 • A3



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A4 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

About Us Editor’s Note By Jon Anderson I remember as far back as 20 years ago when various groups and businesses already were making long-range plans for where they wanted to be in 2020. But look at all the things that have happened since 2000 that have dramatically altered the world in which we live. The 9/11 attacks, the “Great Recession” of 2008 and 2009, the creation of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and the rise of companies such as Google and Amazon are just a handful of major events that have changed life for billions of people, if not all of us. And then 2020 hit. Talk about a curveball. What a year this has been, with COVID-19, social unrest related to accusations of racism in law enforcement and yet another divisive political election.

on the negative aspects of life and, instead, to think about the things for which we can be grateful. Focus on the relationships and things you do have rather than on the things you have lost or people that have done you wrong. So, with Thanksgiving approaching, I asked several Hoover residents to reflect on things for which they are thankful in the midst of this crazy year. After reading their answers on page A22, I encourage you to take some time and come up with your own list. Have a happy Thanksgiving! I’ve heard it said before that if you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail. But you also have to be flexible and willing to adjust to the unexpected things that life throws at you. It also helps not to focus too much


A turtle crosses Riverchase Parkway West on Oct. 9. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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

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

For advertising contact: dan@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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Please Support Our Community Partners Acton Road Pediatrics (B19) Alabama Power (B5) Alabama School of Fine Arts Foundation (A9) Alliance Wealth Management (A23) Allsteel Fence (A12) Bayshore Retreat (A13) Bedzzz Express (A5) Benton Nissan of Hoover (A1) Birmingham Orthodontics (A1) Blake Shultz, ARC Realty (A20) Breanna Sexton, RE/MAX Southern Homes (B8) Brewer Cabinets (B7) Bridget Hoven, LIST Birmingham (A10) Brocks Gap Dental Group (A24) Bromberg’s & Company Inc. (B14) Brookwood Baptist Health (B13) Carpet Warehouse Galleria (A7) Cremation Center of Birmingham (B15) Danberry at Inverness (A11) Dear Seniors (A19) Dorsett Dental Care (A3) ENT Associates of Alabama (B8) EW Motion Therapy (B6) French Drains Pro (A20) Gardner Landscaping (A6) Geico Insurance (A2) Hearing Solutions (A11) Heather Goss, RealtySouth (A14) Hoover Met Complex - The Finley Center (B18) Issis & Sons (B13) John Carroll Catholic High School (A18) Julie Ivy White (B16) Kete Cannon, ARC Realty (A9) Leda Mims, ARC Realty (A12) Lee DeMarco, RealtySouth (B6) Medical West Hospital (B3) Medicare Advisors of Alabama (B16) Merrill Gardens River Highlands of Birmingham (B5) Moss Rock Festival (A23, B19) Mr. Handyman of Birmingham (A18) Outdoor Living Areas (A21) Over the Mountain Glass (B17) Oxmoor Valley Orthodontics (A17) Patti Schreiner, RE/MAX Southern Homes (A6) Peck Barham, RE/MAX Southern Homes (A17) Red Mountain Associates Thrivent Financial (B9) Red Mountain Theatre Company (A15) Red Pearl Restaurant (B18) Signature Homes (A2) Soap Box Laundromat (A8) Southern Blood Services (A14) Southern Coin & Collectibles (A13) Southern Home Structural Repair Specialists (A8) Southlake Orthopaedics (B11) Sovereign CPA (B14) TherapySouth Hoover (B2) Total Skin and Beauty Dermatology (B2) UAB GI (B15) United Way of Central Alabama (B7) Urban Home Market (B20) Viva Health Care (A10) Vulcan Termite & Pest Control (B9) Watts Realty (B11) Werkplas (B1) Window World of Central Alabama (A19) Wrapsody (B17)


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A6 • November 2020

Hoover Sun


City unveils more specific plan for western bypass road This map shows proposed land uses along a roughly 4-mile proposed road that starts at Morgan Road at the bottom, goes north between South Shades Crest Road and Stadium Trace Parkway, crosses South Shades Crest, crosses a proposed new Interstate 459 interchange and connects with Ross Bridge Parkway at Alabama 150. The gray area is proposed as an innovation employment center, while the bright pink areas are proposed for high-intensity commercial use. The tan area is proposed as a new neighborhood village, while the lighter tan area is proposed as future residential land. Map courtesy of city of Hoover.

By JON ANDERSON Hoover’s city planner recently unveiled a more detailed proposal for a new road in western Hoover that he said should help relieve traffic woes in Trace Crossings and benefit multiple communities in western Jefferson and Shelby counties. The comprehensive plan, passed by the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission in July 2019, made reference to a proposed new connector road between Morgan Road, South Shades Crest Road and Interstate 459. But now, the city has identified and proposed a much more defined and specific route, as well as desired land uses along the road. The planning commission is scheduled to have a public hearing Nov. 9 to consider amending the comprehensive plan with the new details. The proposal is for a new 4-mile road that would start at Morgan Road (Shelby County 52) and go through a valley between South Shades Crest Road and Stadium Trace Parkway, cross South Shades Crest Road near Brock’s Gap Parkway, connect with a proposed new Interstate 459 interchange and hook up with Ross Bridge Parkway at Alabama 150. One of the primary purposes for the road is to provide an alternate route for many of the new houses being built in the southern part of Trace Crossings and the new Blackridge community so as not to add so much traffic to Stadium Trace Parkway, city planner Mac Martin said.

But the proposed new road also would provide a new route for all the traffic coming from points further south, such as Helena, Alabaster and Hoover communities on the south side of Morgan Road. Many years ago, the idea was for a four-lane Stadium Trace Parkway to provide that connection, but Hoover leaders over the years decided they didn’t want to funnel all the traffic from Helena and other points south through Trace Crossings. Bob Easley, an engineer who has been working for Signature Homes and U.S. Steel on development plans for Lake Wilborn and Blackridge since 2007, said roadways for Blackridge were intentionally made into private roads with a gate to deter such cutthrough traffic. If that gate wasn’t there and a good connection were made with Morgan Road, there likely would be 10,000 more vehicles per day coming up Stadium Trace Parkway right now, Easley said. Initial projections were that 17,000 more vehicles per day would be using Stadium Trace Parkway if that gate were not in place. The proposed new connector route unveiled Oct. 12 also would be expected to pull a lot of traffic off South Shades Crest Road, Alabama 150 and the parts of Morgan Road closer to I-459. Morgan Road is in the process of being widened, and an additional northbound lane is in the works for the northern part of South Shades Crest Road, but widening South Shades Crest Road further south would prove difficult due to

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This is a cross-section of the proposed new 4-mile corridor between Morgan Road and Alabama 150, indicating an initial desire to have a two-lane parkway with a bicycle/ pedestrian path alongside it. City officials are proposing to have enough right of way to add more lanes in the future if necessary. Rendering courtesy of city of Hoover.

the available right of way there and the number of residents with driveways directly accessing the road, Martin said.


The revised plans show potential land uses along the proposed new connector route. Areas around the proposed new I-459 interchange would be ideal for high-traffic commercial development, as well as the intersection of the new connector road with Morgan Road, Martin said. Areas in between South Shades Crest Road and the Chestnut Ridge community are being proposed as an employment center for technology companies, Martin said. The land there would be within two miles of I-459 but also have quick access to nearby neighborhoods so employees could live near where they work if they desire. A little further south, closer to Morgan Road, land has long been proposed for further residential use. Another benefit of the proposed road would be to connect numerous recreational facilities, such as the 73-acre mountain bike park in Trace Crossings, the Cahaba River park and greenway currently being built by Signature Homes in Trace Crossings, the Hoover Metropolitan Complex and the Freshwater Land Trust property off Ross Bridge Parkway. Drawings shared at the Oct. 12 meeting showed the new connector road as initially being a two-lane road with a multipurpose bicycle and pedestrian path parallel to it. However, there would be enough right of way there to add more lanes for vehicular traffic if needed in the

future, Martin said.


Some of the big questions that remain include how much the connector road would cost and who would provide the money. Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice said a cost study is underway. He estimated that will take another 60 days to complete, at which point city officials can begin determining a funding method. One option would be for the city to pay for the project itself, but a more likely scenario would be for the city to pursue funding partners such as the Alabama Department of Transportation, Jefferson and Shelby counties, and other municipalities and private entities that stand to gain from such a route, Rice said. Another key factor is land ownership. Signature Homes owns a good bit of the property along the route and already has agreed to donate some of the land for the connector road. The city of Hoover already owns 31 acres on the south side of I-459 and has an option to buy 22 acres on the north side of the interstate. The only other landowner with property in the proposed path of the road is the Brock’s Gap Training Center, which operates a shooting range off South Shades Crest Road, Martin said. The city would need to acquire that property to make the connector road a reality, he said. “That’s a negotiation for another day.” The lynchpin for the whole plan to work is the development of the new I-459 interchange, Rice said. The interchange has yet to receive federal approval.

Mayor’s Minute

By Frank V. Brocato It’s not uncommon to see resiliency we all can apprecilots of new growth taking ate right now. I think it also place in the spring. But this speaks to the welcoming and year, fall seems to be the supportive business spirit season of blossoming in the extended to any and all who city of Hoover when it comes want to call Hoover home. to new businesses opening or While some of these cerexpanding. emonies were scheduled to Between the months of take place earlier this year, August and October, we have the determination of these had nearly 15 businesses hold business owners to hold ribbon-cuttings or groundon and survive speaks to their determination, and I breaking ceremonies in the city. Several of those have applaud them for that. With been on Hoover’s east side. a loud voice they have told Frank V. Brocato For example, the APCO COVID-19, “We will not let Employee Credit Union held its official you win! You will not stop us!” ribbon-cutting in August. In September, We in Hoover are always open to businesses OneAscent Wealth Management, located in that want to settle or expand here. We’ve even Inverness, announced its rebranding. There was created a new Business Resource Team to help a record crowd on hand for the grand opening provide concierge service and help make that of Cinnaholic Bakery in the Lee Branch shop- process easier. So while the autumn months ping center. And Tattersall Park continues to may be a time when we “fall back,” it’s great welcome new tenants, like Greystone Chiro- that our business community is defying the practic and the Nail Boutique, which each held norms, using it instead as a time to spring ceremonies just last month. forward. While all of this is great for the city from an economic standpoint, I think there is an even broader message here. I think the enthusiasm of these businesses is a symbol of strength and


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A8 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

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

City Council Place 2 Runoff Election Polling Place

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

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

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

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

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November 2020 • A9

Some residents say ‘improvements’ at Star Lake created safety hazard By JON ANDERSON Some residents of the Green Valley community say recent “improvements” at Star Lake have created a safety hazard. For several years, the city worked on plans to improve the small city park there, including creating one-way traffic around the lake, replacing the existing sidewalk around the lake with a wider one, increasing the number of parking spaces and adding lights. However, once the city sought bids for doing the project last year, all the bids came in far over the $375,000 budget, City Administrator Allan Rice said. So city officials began looking for ways to do some of the work with city workers to reduce costs. The project also got scaled back from the original design due to cost and feedback from the community, Rice said. The sidewalk was repaired but not widened, and lights were not added. The road was turned into a one-way loop around the lake, but new parallel parking spaces around the lake were moved from the inside of the loop — closest to the lake — to the outside of the loop. This allowed for a bicycle lane right next to the sidewalk, but it requires people parking along the road to cross traffic to get to the sidewalk and park. That’s a dangerous situation, especially with so many people with young children coming to visit the lake and park, some residents told the City Council on Oct. 5. As people get in and out of vehicles, other vehicles driving by are moving into the bicycle lane to pass them, leaving children and others riding bikes or walking in the bike lane at risk, said Jari Bailey, who lives right by the park. People riding bicycles or walking in the bike lane have a false sense of security with that white line drawn on the pavement, residents said. “My biggest concern is that there will be a

A woman crosses Star Lake Drive after parking on the street as she visits Star Lake in Hoover on Oct. 6. Photo by Jon Anderson.

death there,” Bailey said. “That’s what’s going to happen. It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.” She and her boyfriend also said residents who live right by the lake don’t like having people park right in front of their homes. The city took an area that had 12 parking spaces diagonal to Star Lake Drive and converted it into two parallel handicapped parking spaces, requiring everyone else to park in new parallel parking spaces along Star Lake Drive — directly in front of homes. The original plan had 36 parallel parking spaces around the loop road. Most of those were cut out and moved to the side of the street opposite from the lake to allow for the bike lane. Some residents said they didn’t want

people parking right up against the sidewalk. All the new parking spaces are in the public right of way, Rice said. However, city officials are reevaluating the old parking area to see if it can be restriped with angled parking spaces instead of parallel spaces so four to six more parking spaces can be put back there. That might enable the city to remove some of the new parallel parking spaces directly in front of homes, Rice said. Council President Gene Smith asked whether the speed limit around the lake could be reduced to make the area safer. Bill Richardson, another resident by the lake, suggested speed humps might discourage people from using that route as much. Rice said the city might be able to limit overnight

parking as well — another problem that was mentioned. Bob Daniel, who lives right by the park, wasn’t at the Oct. 5 meeting but said he thinks the new one-way street helps make the park safer. However, city officials probably should have put more thought into the parking changes, Daniel said. Councilman Mike Shaw said most of the issues being raised seem solvable but are outside the scope of the City Council. He suggested residents work with the mayor and his staff to address their concerns. Bailey said she hopes these issues don’t get overlooked. She was upset that city officials made changes to the design without first informing residents and getting more feedback.

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A10 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

Council to consider request for brewery with tap room by Hoover Met By JON ANDERSON A Trace Crossings resident is seeking permission to put a brewery with a tap room and indoor and outdoor live entertainment on property next to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 12 voted to recommend the City Council allow the development, and the council is expected to vote on the matter Nov. 16. Trace Crossings resident Jamie Cato said he wants to put the two-story Brock’s Gap Brewing Co. with a tap room at the corner of Stadium Trace Parkway and Mineral Trace, right by the main entrance to the Hoover Met Stadium. This is his first venture into the brewery business, but he plans to bring some world-class beer and quality events to the city of Hoover, he said. His brewmaster is Brian Watson, whom he said owns about 17 breweries and has won more than 100 international beer awards. Several planning commissioners spoke in favor of the idea of a brewery on the site, which is zoned for “planned light industrial use,” but some expressed concerns about live and amplified outdoor entertainment being so close to residential neighborhoods, such as Abingdon, a new development planned across the parkway from the stadium in the Trace Crossings Village Center, and Chestnut Ridge on the hill above the Village Center. “That sound carries a long, long distance,” planning commissioner Carl West said. West said he was in favor of allowing the brewery with a tap room there, but noted that Abingdon is a neighborhood for people 55 and older. “I’m not trying to kill your project. I love it,” West said. “But we need to be smart about this. I think it’s going to be a potential problem.” City Planner Mac Martin noted that the nearest residential property in Abingdon is more than 500 feet away from the area where outdoor music would be and that there is some tree buffer along Stadium Trace Parkway. Also, Brock’s Gap Brewing Co. plans to have the outdoor music performances on the loading

Trace Crossings resident Jamie Cato wants to build a two-story brewery with a tap room and live indoor and outdoor entertainment on property along Stadium Trace Parkway, right next to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Rendering courtesy of Black Design Architecture.

dock at the back of the brewery, which is on the opposite side of the building from Stadium Trace Parkway. That should help with buffering the noise some, Martin said. 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 would be more regular but would 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 commission also agreed to waive the

requirement for a sidewalk along Stadium Trace Parkway because of topography of the site and instead wants to require Cato to put a sidewalk connection to the Hoover Met parking lot and a sidewalk leading to Stadium Trace Parkway at a traffic light that is to be installed at the main vehicle entrance to the Met. Pedestrians would be able to cross Stadium Trace Parkway safely there to get to a sidewalk and commercial and residential developments across from the Met, City Planner Mac Martin said. Also, the commission said Brock’s Gap Brewing Co. would be required to reach an agreement with the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board to use the Hoover Met parking lot

as overflow parking for events. On Nov. 16, the Hoover City Council is also expected to vote on: ► A request from LAH Commercial Real Estate to rezone 1.4 acres at the corner of Lynngate Drive and Lorna Ridge Drive from a preferred commercial district to a town house district to allow for eight town houses. ► A request to rezone 4.25 acres that contain the Hoover-Randle Home and Gardens property at 2255 Tyler Road from an R-1 single-family residential use to a special use district, with the understanding that the property only be used as an event facility with similar restrictions that were put in place before the city bought the home from the Randle family.

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November 2020 • A11

Pho Pho brings more Asian cuisine to Hoover

Pho Pho Asian Cuisine manager Andy Cao pours hot water over coffee grounds using an aero press to make a batch of Vietnamese coffee. Pho Pho Asian Cuisine opened in 1,800 square feet of the former Organic Harvest spot in the Hoover Village shopping center at 1580 Montgomery Highway, with a soft opening Aug. 31 and grand opening Sept. 30. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By JON ANDERSON There’s a new option for Asian food on U.S. 31 in Hoover. Young Shin closed his Pho Pho Vietnamese & Sushi Bar in Five Points South in 2019 and opened a new location in the Pizitz Food Hall in downtown Birmingham in April of the same year, but now he has brought his craft to Hoover, with a little twist. He opened Pho Pho Asian Cuisine in 1,800 square feet of the former Organic Harvest spot in the Hoover Village shopping center at 1580 Montgomery Highway, with a soft opening Aug. 31 and grand opening Sept. 30. Pho Pho Asian Cuisine is similar to his restaurant in the Pizitz Food Hall, but Shin has added Thai food to the other offerings of Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese food. One of the new offerings is pad thai, which is a stir-fry dish made with rice noodles, peanuts, scrambled egg and bean sprouts, scallions and the customer’s choice of chicken, shrimp or tofu. Pho Pho has a lot of health-conscious customers and offers vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options in addition to meats, said Kookie Kim, Shin’s wife, who works at the University of Alabama at Birmingham but helps out in the restaurants as needed. Shin, who lives in the Rocky Ridge portion of Vestavia Hills, said he wanted to open a location in Hoover because he had a lot of

customers from Hoover and Vestavia Hills at his Birmingham locations. While his restaurant isn’t famous, a lot of people from the Hoover area know about it, and he thinks Hoover is a good market for Asian cuisine. It’s a big and diverse city, he said. Realtor Lyndsy Yim of Retail Specialists helped him find the spot on U.S. 31, which is a well-traveled corridor. Shin said he also doesn’t see much competition in the part of town he selected. The restaurant offers casual dining with main dishes ranging in price from $9 to $14. The restaurant, decorated with bright lime green and orange colors, seats about 25 people, but most

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customers in the first month opted for takeout, Shin said. He originally planned to open the Hoover location in May but was delayed due to COVID-19. Shin, 40, is originally from Korea. His family immigrated to the Birmingham area in 1996 when he was 16. They lived in north Shelby County along U.S. 280. He got a part-time job working at the Kobe Japanese Steakhouse on U.S. 280 and worked his way up from busing tables and washing dishes to hibachi chef in the mid-1990s. In 1998, he went into business for himself and opened Wings and Teriyaki near Birmingham-Southern College and Wings and Stuff in

Fairfield. He sold those restaurants in 2010 and 2012 and opened Pho Pho Vietnamese & Sushi Bar in Five Points South. Shin said he feels like he has had some success in the restaurant business, but “I’m not there yet.” In addition to the two Pho Pho locations, he also owns The Standard restaurant in the Pizitz Food Hall, which sells hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries. Shin said he has been approached about opening a Pho Pho location in another part of Hoover, as well as one in Tuscaloosa, but for now, he’s focusing on getting the first Hoover location up and running well.

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A12 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

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X.labs, a California-based company that produces scanning and facial recognition devices that detect fever and firearms, has opened an office on the 15th floor of The Offices at 3000 Riverchase. It’s a small office for Steve McClinton, the company’s vice president of USA sales. 205-862-8353, xlabs.tech





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


Magic City Hot Tubs was expected to open in a 4,200-square-foot space next to World Market in the Patton Creek shopping center by the end of October. The store is owned by Gary Webb of Gadsden and sells Hot Springs


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HooverSun.com hot tubs, Endless Pool swim spas and Big Green Egg grills. Webb owns a similar business in Rome, Georgia, called Splash Town Pools and Spas, but the Hoover store will not sell pools, he said. Zoe’s Kitchen founder and entrepreneur John Cassimus on Sept. 18 opened a 35,000-square-foot Crazy Cazboys discount superstore next to Hobby Lobby in The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center at 1855 Montgomery Highway. The store is four times bigger than his original store on Lakeshore Parkway in Homewood and sells a wide variety of merchandise at discount prices, including electronics, food, health and beauty products, pet products, baby products and sporting goods. Prices start at $7 every Friday and drop each day down to 25 cents on Wednesdays. crazycazboys.com


Chipotle, a fast-casual Mexican grill, has opened a restaurant at 1051 Amber Drive, Suite 105, in the Stadium Trace Village shopping center. The restaurant features a Chipotlane, a drive-thru pickup lane for digital orders, and is open from 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. 205-203-1028, chipotle.com


Dr. Claire Ussery and her husband, Dr. Jacob Ussery, held a grand opening for Reignite Chiropractic at 2717 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 107, on Oct. 9. 205-855-3305, reignitechiropractic.com


Coming Soon A store called Mr. Jeans is scheduled to come to the Riverchase Galleria, 2000 Riverchase Galleria, according to the mall’s website. riverchasegalleria.com


Unagi Bento and Sushi, 2539 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 141, is planned to join the Trace Crossings shopping center. This eatery offers a relaxing, family-friendly and casual dining experience. "Whether you want a Teriyaki chicken bento box for lunch or a table full of sushi at dinner, we have you covered," the restaurant said on Facebook. 205-490-6991, facebook.com/Unagi-Bentoand-Sushi-116814896831197


Relocations and Renovations Jubilee Joe’s Cajun Seafood Restaurant in late September relocated from 2341 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 119, to 5190 Medford Drive, Suite 114, next to the Sprouts grocery store in The Shoppes at Hoover shopping center. Jubilee Joe’s owner Kashif "Kash" Siddiqui’s new restaurant is adjoined by about 7,000 square feet of new retail space referred to as The Shoppes at Hwy 150 Crossings. The restaurant’s new kitchen includes a 60-gallon steam kettle for crawfish boils. 205-982-7797, jubileejoes.com


Oak View Animal Hospital plans to relocate from 2127 Old Montgomery Highway in Pelham to a new 5,654-square-foot building on 1.6 acres at 1820 Southpark Drive in Hoover, next to Christian Brothers Automotive. Dr. Elizabeth Robinson is the lead veterinarian. Earthwork has started, and the new building should be completed by spring, general contractor Wayne Williford said. 205-988-3559, oakviewah.com


Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que closed its location at the Patton Creek shopping center Sept. 20 and had a grand opening for its new location in The Village at Brock’s Gap at 1031 Brock’s Gap Parkway, Suite 191, on Oct. 7. 205-985-8841, moesoriginalbbq.com


New Ownership StoneCreek Dental Care has acquired the Northcutt Dental Hoover practice at 1598 Montgomery Highway. StoneCreek Dental Care has 18 locations in Alabama and Tennessee, including 14 in the Birmingham-Hoover metro area. 205-582-8570, stonecreekdentalcare.com


News and Accomplishments Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, 450 Riverchase Parkway East, has paid, contributed and made available $230 million in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, making contributions in support of food scarcity, small business loans, person-


November 2020 • A13 al protective equipment and meals for health care workers, and other relief efforts across the state. Some programs receiving support include United Way Meals on Wheels, Alabama Food Bank, Birmingham Strong, American Red Cross, Alabama Department of Public Health, Jefferson County Department of Health and community foundations. The company has: waived member cost-sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, treatments and related in-person or telehealth office visits, urgent care visits and emergency room visits for fully-insured individual, employer-based, Federal Employee Program and Medicare Advantage plans; waived prior authorizations for COVID-19 diagnostic tests and related covered and medically necessary services for all fully insured plans; increased access to prescription medications; expanded access to telehealth services; offered interest-free cash advances to rural hospitals and primary care physicians; and waived inpatient deductibles, copays and coinsurance for members admitted to in-network hospitals with a COVID-19 diagnosis. 888-267-2955, bcbsal.org

Alabama’s #1 Source for Gold and Silver

The Hoover Met Complex, 100 Ben Chapman Drive, won the 2020 Venue Excellence Award among 20-plus sports complexes operated or advised by Sports Facilities Management and Sports Facilities Advisory at the two companies’ 2020 Leadership Summit in late September. Amanda Helton, the Hoover Met Complex’s finance and human resources manager, won the Finance Manager MVP Award, and J.D. Danforah, the Hoover complex’s food and beverage manager, won the Food and Beverage Manager MVP Award. 205-739-7364, hoovermetcomplex.com


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Family Dollar, 3202 Lorna Road, received approval from the Hoover City Council on Sept. 21 to sell beer and wine for consumption off the premises. 205-421-4674, familydollar.com



Exxon 150, 2270 Alabama 150, received approval from the Hoover City Council on Sept. 8 to sell alcoholic beverages. 205-987-5225, exxon.com


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Personnel Moves Burn Boot Camp Hoover, 1021 Brock’s Gap Parkway, Suite 121, has welcomed Joel Powell as a new support trainer. He is in his third year of personal training and got his start at a training facility for "American Ninja Warrior" called Ninja Obstacle Academy. He is certified as a personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and his favorite type of training is bodybuilding/ powerlifting. He is a junior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, majoring in kinesiology with a concentration in bioenergetics. 205-335-1884, burnbootcamp.com/locations/ hoover-al


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


Anniversaries Wasabi Juan’s recently celebrated the second anniversary of its location at 5037 U.S. 280. The restaurant offers sushi ingredients rolled burrito-style in soy wraps and nori, as well as crunchy tacos stuffed with spicy tuna, shrimp ceviche and more. 205-777-2714, wasabijuan.com

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Closings 20

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

Pizza Hut locations at 3748 Lorna Road and 2312 John Hawkins Parkway have permanently closed. Pizza Hut recently agreed to close up to 300 locations as part of a deal with its largest franchisee, NPC International, which filed for bankruptcy in July, according to CNBC. NPC International operated more than 1,225 Pizza Hut locations and more than 385 Wendy’s, CNBC reported.


Pastry Art Bake Shoppe has closed its location at 940 Inverness Corners and is opening a new shop in Trussville. Its original Homewood location remains open.


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A14 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

Chamber Merrill: Record voter turnout expected for Nov. 3 election

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill speaks to attendees at the Hoover Chamber of Commerce luncheon Oct. 15 at the Hoover Met Complex. Merrill encouraged anyone planning to request an absentee ballot to do it as soon as possible before the Oct. 29 deadline. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By JON ANDERSON Alabama should see a record voter turnout for the Nov. 3 presidential election, Secretary of State John Merrill told the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce at its first in-person luncheon since the COVID-19 shutdown began in March. Merrill expects to see 2.5 million to 2.8 million people cast ballots, which would represent 68 to 75% of the registered voters in the state, he told the chamber crowd at an outdoor meeting at the Finley Center on Oct. 15. If voters come to the polls like Merrill expects, that would be 400,000 to 700,000 more people than have ever cast ballots in an Alabama election. The state is also experiencing a record number of absentee ballot applications. The previous record was about 89,000 when former President Barack Obama was reelected in 2012, Merrill said. On Oct. 13, the state surpassed 91,000 absentee ballot applications for the general election. By Election Day, he expects to have more than 200,000 absentee ballots requested, he said. Because of COVID-19, in July, Merrill ruled that any person who deems it is unreasonable to go to the polls on Election Day because of the

pandemic can check a box on their absentee ballot application that reads, “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls.” Some election manager offices across the state are having a difficult time keeping up with the volume of absentee ballot requests, so some of them are staying open longer hours and sometimes working on Saturdays to get the applications processed and ballots mailed out, he said. Merrill encouraged anyone planning to request an absentee ballot to do it as soon as possible before the Oct. 29 deadline. “The longer you wait, the longer the lines are going to be and the greater problem that you’re going to have,” he said.

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POST OFFICE TROUBLES There also is concern about delays with the U.S. Postal Service. After his speech, Merrill said the Postal Service is one of the most inefficient and ineffective operations around. One of the biggest problems in Alabama is that the Postal Service no longer allows local post offices to print cancellation lines over postage stamps, Merrill said. All the mail across the state is sent to Birmingham for sorting and postage cancellation before being delivered to its destination. Merrill said he talked with the assistant U.S. postmaster in Washington, D.C., to request that local post offices be given authority to cancel out postage for election materials to expedite

the handling of absentee ballots, but they were still working on it as of his speech. The Alabama secretary of state’s office has established a way for people who have cast an absentee ballot to check online at alabamavotes. gov to see if their ballot has been received. If people don’t receive confirmation their ballot has been received by Election Day and are afraid their vote won’t be counted, they still can go and cast a provisional ballot in person. The election manager for that jurisdiction will determine by Friday, Nov. 6, whether the absentee ballot was counted, Merrill said. If the absentee ballot was received and counted, the in-person ballot will be discarded, but if the absentee ballot was not received, the in-person ballot will be counted.


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November 2020 • A15

Chamber seeks new executive director after unexpected resignation By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce is searching for a new executive director following the unexpected resignation of April Stone in September. Stone, who served as executive director for the Hoover chamber for 2½ years, turned in her resignation effective Sept. 10. Paul Dangel, president of the chamber’s board of directors, said the board has been revising its strategic plan for the next three to five years to try to re-energize what the chamber means to the business community in Hoover, and “I just guess she didn’t want to be a part of that.” Stone said her decision to resign was more personal in nature. She has been involved with various chambers of commerce for 18 years and decided it was time to go in a different direction, she said. “I’m not sure where I’m going next, but I’m open to new possibilities,” both in the nonprofit and for-profit arenas, she said. “I’ve heard a lot of people are doing this during the global pandemic, thinking about priorities and life in general. “They’ve got great leadership in place, and I know they’re going to go far,” she said of the chamber. “I fully support their plans and goals. I just moved on. … They’re headed in a good direction, and I wish them all the best.” Dangel said Stone had big shoes to fill when she replaced Bill Powell, who had been the chamber’s executive director for 22 years when he retired at the end of 2017, and she did a yeoman’s job. “She gave her heart and soul for the two-plus years she was in the role,” Dangel said. “We’re going to find somebody just as dynamic to lead us forward.” In a letter to chamber members, Dangel said “It should go without saying that the Hoover area business community will always remain grateful for April’s contributions, and she will undoubtedly be missed.”

April Stone speaks to the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce during a February 2018 luncheon at the Hoover Country Club as thenoutgoing Executive Director Bill Powell listens. Stone, who’s served 2½ years as the chamber’s executive director, resigned from the position effective Sept. 10. Photo by Jon Anderson.

“The board of directors realizes the importance of the executive director position and is working diligently to seek the most qualified candidate to lead and grow the chamber,” Dangel said. “The board hopes to have a new executive director in place by mid-November to mid-December.” In the meantime, the board appointed a former chamber board member, Terry Shea, to serve as interim executive director. Shea was a co-owner of the Wrapsody gift boutiques in Hoover and Auburn until she

and her partner sold the business in late 2017, and she retired. She was the chamber’s Board Member of the Year in 2017 as well. Before opening Wrapsody, Shea worked as a district manager for Express stores, major account representative for Nike, part-time salesperson for Procter & Gamble and assistant buyer for the May Corp. She has been a Hoover resident since 2002. Stone was the director of member relations for the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce for nearly 11 years. She then served

as executive director of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce for five years before coming to the Hoover chamber in February 2018. Nearly 60 people applied for the executive director job in 2017. Dangel said the board of directors wants to market the chamber to be the business center of Hoover, working closely with the city government and business partners to accomplish that. He planned to share more information in the days ahead as the chamber solidifies its plans.

A16 • November 2020

Hoover Sun Lily Williams, 8, crosses the finish line.

3rd annual Kitty Kat Haven & Rescue 5K

MEOW-A-THON Runners of all ages participated in the Kitty Kat Haven & Rescue 5K Meow-A-Thon at Veterans Park on Oct. 3. Roughly 120 participants registered for the race and all proceeds from the event benefited the Haven, a no-kill, cage-free shelter for cats and kittens. The race netted about $6,500 for the shelter.

Photos by Erin Nelson

Above: 2021 calendars were for sale to support the Haven. Below: Linsey Williams and her son Sam, 5, cross the finish line.

Above: Runners participate in the Kitty Kat Haven and Rescue 5K Meow-A-Thon.


November 2020 • A17 Fifteen to 20 vehicles participated in a Hoover Police/ First Responders Appreciation Parade along U.S. 31 and John Hawkins Parkway on Oct. 17. The parade was organized by a group established on Facebook called the Hoover Patriots that formed this year in response to all the protests against police. Photos by Jon Anderson.

Hoover Patriots hold parade to support first responders By JON ANDERSON Fifteen to 20 vehicles paraded down U.S. 31 in Hoover on Oct. 17 with flags waving to show support for law enforcement and other first responders in the city. The Hoover Police/First Responders Appreciation Parade was organized by a group called the Hoover Patriots that formed this year in response to all the protests against police. The vehicles met in the parking lot at Bancorp South near Interstate 65 and paraded down U.S. 31 and then John Hawkins Parkway to The Grove shopping center. Hoover police gave them green traffic signals along U.S. 31 to keep the convoy moving. Shannon Bush, a Hoover native who now lives in Pelham, organized the parade and said people in the group, which has 1,100 members on Facebook, have been asking for a long time

about holding an event to show support for the men and women in blue. Some wanted to hold pro-police rallies near Hoover City Hall at the same time that protesters were convening there, but Hoover police advised them not to do that out of concern that it would cause more problems for police than be helpful, Bush said. Another idea was for a family day at Veterans Park with food trucks and a band, but that idea is being pushed until the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. The Hoover Patriots group had 300 “Hoover Strong” T-shirts made and sold with the “thin blue line” flag on them. The flag is similar to the U.S. flag but has black stripes instead of red ones and a blue line just below the stars, representing law enforcement officers who stand between law-abiding citizens and others who intend chaos and destruction.

Left: Shannon Bush, center in the hat, gives instructions to people who participated in the Hoover Police/First Responders Appreciation Parade. Right: One of the 15 to 20 vehicles.

A separate group that supports the Hoover Police Department called Hoover Cop Stop had yard signs made to show appreciation and has been giving them to residents around town. Charlie Stafford, a resident of the Lake Wilborn community, was among those in the parade. His son is a Birmingham police officer who, a year ago, was shot eight times. Stafford said he came to the parade because of the anti-police sentiment that seems to have become more prevalent in society recently.

“I feel like they’re treated like second-class citizens,” Stafford said. “They’re put in a position where they can’t really do their jobs without fear of being accused of things they aren’t guilty of … We feel like we need to show they have great support.” Ben and Julie Calma, who live off Caldwell Mill Road, said while there are some bad police officers, it doesn’t mean all of them are bad. There are some bad people in every profession, Julie Calma said.

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A18 • November 2020

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

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

elevated boardwalk to the center, but many people don’t make the trek,” Adair said. The wildlife center staff want to create more attractions along that portion of the trail to make it more interesting for visitors, and the life-size eagle’s nest fits the bill, he said. Another Scout built the platform for the eagle’s nest and actually built an initial nest, but that nest — made out of sticks and chicken wire — wasn’t as kid-friendly and kid-resistant as was needed, Morgan said. The wildlife center staff asked Morgan to build something that was safer, without all the sharp sticks poking out. Earlier this year, from Jan. 10 to Feb. 23, Morgan spent more than 80 hours building the nest. He used 4-by-4 pieces of lumber and plywood to build the frame and then wrapped roughly 700 feet of backer rods — strands of industrial foam — around it to give it softer edges.

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

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


November 2020 • A19

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A20 • November 2020 LUDWIG

CONTINUED from page A1 whether it involves the city of Hoover, city of Birmingham, Shelby County Commission, Shelby County Planning Commission, Alabama Department of Transportation, North Shelby Library Board or Cahaba Valley Fire District. “She’s a strong voice for that part of the city,” Hoover City Council President Gene Smith said. “She’s a diamond for that community out there. … She cares about Greystone and Shelby County.” Frank Brocato, the actual mayor of Hoover, described Ludwig as the “quintessential citizen servant.” “Mary Sue is a servant leader that has her city’s best interest at heart and her community’s interest at heart,” Brocato said. “She has worked tirelessly for the city and Greystone community for decades.”


Ludwig moved to Mountain Brook from Atlanta in 1970 when her husband, Jim, got a job with Southern Company Services. They moved to Knoxville in 1986 but came back to the Birmingham area in 1992 when her husband was hired as president of Drummond Coal Sales. They settled in Greystone, moving into about the 25th house to be occupied in the community. Ludwig said her desire was to play golf and bridge and be a young socialite, but “it didn’t work out that way.” At that time, the development company, Daniel Corp., controlled the homeowners association, but Ludwig started the Greystone Ladies Club in 1993 and served as its first president. The club was started primarily as a social club for entertainment purposes, but it didn’t take long for people to start using it as a sounding board for all types of issues, Ludwig said. Ludwig asked Daniel Corp. to activate a resident-led homeowners association, but the developer wanted to maintain control and instead formed a nine-member advisory

Hoover Sun

She’s someone we know we can go to and that we can get a straight answer from her. She does not hesitate to call up and let us know when she doesn’t agree with the direction something is going in. … Mary Sue is going to tell you what’s on her mind.


committee that included Ludwig. She served as chairwoman for a while as well. “I was into everything,” she said. She received a bill from the Cahaba Valley Fire District and didn’t understand why because she was in the city of Hoover, which has its own Fire Department. She called the fire district office to inquire, and a man was rude to her, she said. “That set me off.” The Ludwigs were among plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed against the fire district, claiming double taxation. At the time, “Shelby County was a rural, agricultural place, and they didn’t know what to do with us,” Ludwig said. “We came in here like gangbusters.” The city of Hoover and Shelby County commissioners got involved, and as a part of negotiations, Ludwig and others persuaded state legislators to pass a law, giving Greystone residents a way out. The measure allowed residents who were annexed into a municipality to pay six years of fire dues upfront or one year at a time for eight years and be released from their fire district obligations. Ludwig also got involved with the North Shelby Library District after receiving a bill from that agency. She had similar concerns with it because she paid taxes to Hoover for

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Above: Mary Sue Ludwig, a resident of the Greystone community for 28 years and longtime board member for the Greystone Residential Association, speaks to the Shelby County Planning Commission about a proposed housing development adjacent to Greystone on Aug. 17. Photo by Jon Anderson. Opposite page: Ludwig inside her Greystone home. Photo by Erin Nelson.

such services. But no deal could be worked out there, and Greystone residents still pay North Shelby Library District dues unless they are 65 or older, she said.


Ludwig at one point got appointed and then elected to the North Shelby Library Board. She also served as chairwoman of a landowners committee that advised the Shelby County Planning Commission in the development of a North Cahaba Valley Road Corridor Development Plan, which established desired land uses from U.S. 280 to Lake Purdy. She was appointed as one of three registrars for Shelby County for four years during former Gov. Bob Riley’s administration, was in the second class of Leadership Shelby County and was also a charter member of the Southern Women’s Committee of 50. Ludwig also served on a committee that

advised the Alabama Department of Transportation on traffic solutions for U.S. 280 in 2006. ALDOT proposed an elevated roadway, but many businesses opposed it. Ludwig said she wanted to reopen Cahaba Beach Road to direct traffic off U.S. 280, but the idea was defeated. “I learned a lot about politics,” she said. Ludwig said she’s had many successes in her dealings with government entities and developers, but she considers the lack of a good solution for traffic on U.S. 280 among her battles lost. Another loss for her was the Tattersall Park development, which sits right against Greystone on Alabama 119. The developer, EBSCO, originally promised residents “a little Mountain Brook,” but brought forward a plan with an eight-story hotel, movie theater and more than 250 apartments, Ludwig said.

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November 2020 • A21 said. “I feel like I’ve let the community down. I really wish we could have done a better job.” She is proud to have been among a group that helped prevent a Roosters strip club on a part of U.S. 280 that is in Birmingham, she said. “It was a sleazy joint,” Ludwig said. “We went to Birmingham to get it stopped and told them we didn’t want this trash in our backyard.”


Residents objected, saying the developer was trying to cram too much onto the property and buildings that were too tall. A scaled-back plan with 120 to 200 condos, townhomes or loft apartments was approved in 2002, but the development stalled and a recession hit, leaving the site vacant for more than a decade. Plans were revived about four

years ago, but the development had lost its zoning and EBSCO has been developing the property in more of a piecemeal fashion. Ludwig and her neighbors last year were able to defeat a proposal for an auto dealership in Tattersall, but some say it’s still not the upscale development they wanted. “That’s a sore spot on my heart,” Ludwig

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

intelligent questions protecting the money of our residents,” he said.


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



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A22 • November 2020

Hoover Sun


CONTINUED from page A1 to business and community shutdowns, graduation ceremonies and whether or not people should have to wear masks. But despite all the turmoil and challenges that 2020 brought, there are things for which people can be thankful, especially as Thanksgiving approaches. See what some Hoover residents had to say when asked to share what they’re thankful about this year.

sing a murder ballad as much as she likes to sing old bluegrass gospel songs. I’m thankful for the sound of fresh strings on my Gibson. I’m occasionally too thankful for all our great local IPAs and fantastic food scene (let’s do what we must to preserve it). I have rewarding work, funny friends and a stimulus puppy that I’ll be even more thankful for when she stops pooping in the house. I’m not too comfortable with the word “blessed,” but I truly am.”


► Hoover High School senior and Ross Bridge resident “Despite the craziness that 2020 has brought to my life (and everyone else’s), it has taught me to be thankful for my family more than I ever have before. My family has always been very important to me, but this year has made me thankful for them in ways I never would have expected. From family dinners to card games, to afternoon walks, we have found simple ways to bring us together. They are my biggest support system, and they have helped me keep a positive outlook on life throughout all of the negativity in the world. Although 2020 has been a year of unbelievable surprises and tragedies, I will always be thankful for the extra time it allowed me to spend with my family, and I know the memories that we have made will leave a lasting impact on my life.”


► UAB percussion professor and Russet Woods resident “2020. What a crazy year. Thanksgiving is always the time to reflect, but this year it certainly feels different. The extended time in quarantine made me realize how wonderful my family is and how important we are to each other. I’m thankful that my kids are concerned about the greater good in society, and they do what they can to help without complaint. I’m especially thankful for the work that our Hoover schools did to transition to online learning. As an educator myself, I know how difficult this has been. As one of the band directors at UAB, I’m thankful for the wonderful students who go above and beyond to continue their education. Lastly, I’m extremely grateful to work at a university on the forefront of COVID-19 research, helping to make our campus and community safe while being a leader in today’s research.”


► Retired teacher and Lake Cyrus resident “Even in the midst of this uncertainty of 2020, I have so many things for which to be grateful, both the obvious gratitudes and those I often overlook. I am eternally thankful to have been born in a free country, raised by incredible Christian parents, and to be living in the wonderful community of Hoover. My husband and I are blessed with three children (including a future daughter-in-law)

Hoover resident Netesha Smith sits on a boulder at Moss Rock Preserve, a place where she has found perspective amid a difficult year. Photo by Erin Nelson.

and four precious, healthy grandchildren, and we are so proud and grateful for each unique one. I am incredibly thankful for my church and cherish many dear friendships both old and new. I am also grateful and becoming more aware daily of smiles and waves as I walk through my neighborhood, butterflies fluttering among gorgeous blossoms and falling leaves, calls from loved ones, and accomplishments made as I work with incredible students. And when I travel near or far, how grateful I am when my sweet puppy dog arrives without being carsick!”


► Spain Park High School junior and The Cliffs at Rocky Ridge resident “I’m thankful for God putting me on this Earth and letting me be alive right now. I’m thankful for my super supportive family that supports me with all my decisions that I make and then for correcting me when I’m wrong. I’m thankful for my school and everybody who I have played sports with for pushing me to become the player I am today and my teachers for staying on me and making sure I turn my work in to be the definition of a student athlete. I’m thankful for everybody who has come in my life and been a positive influence and helped

me become a better person. I’m even thankful for the bad things that happened in my life that showed me what’s right and wrong and how to go about certain situations. I’m just thankful I can keep living my life and that God can keep blessing me.”


► Realtor and Greystone resident “2020 has been a year of interesting challenges. It has also given me the opportunity to see the blessings that were unnoticed pre-COVID. I am thankful to be able to see a sunrise or a sunset. I am thankful for the warm feeling that I get just from watching my dog lie in the sunshine. I’ve learned to cherish the little things, but I’ve also learned to appreciate the larger things, such as technology. Teleconferences and Zoom have made it possible to still work, see our doctors and connect with friends. Most of all, I’m thankful that my family has grown so much closer this year. It has been amazing for us to all be at home and around the dinner table. By far, the blessings have outweighed the challenges.”


► Retired videographer and producer and Greystone resident “Nothing, not even 2020, can dilute my gratitude for being part of this amazing universe, for being alive on this planet of natural beauty and wonder right here, right now. Much to be thankful to God for now and throughout my 74 years — working at jobs I loved and the joys of retirement, being born in the USA, getting to travel the world and the homecomings, living around the country and in my beautiful home here, my excellent education. I’m thankful that my schoolmates and I didn’t die in Vietnam. Thankful for my good health and the exceptional people who’ve helped us overcome challenges when they arose. Thankful for my loving wife of 30 years, our amazing daughter, and for friends and family, especially our parents. (And I am truly thankful that I got to see the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan live in concert.)”


► Marketing creative director and Shades Mountain resident “At the risk of sounding New-Agey, I’ve found that I can will myself to be happier when I focus on the good. Today, as I practice mindful thankfulness, I’m reminded that life has given me two smart and talented sons who share my absurd sense of humor. I’m lucky to have a sweet wife who likes to


► Insurance customer support specialist and Patton Creek Condominiums resident “I have achieved many accomplishments in 2020. I’ve started my own business. I completed the 2020 Alabama State Parks Challenge. I’ve hiked, kayaked and even went to a fair! However, what I am most thankful for is COVID-19. I know this may sound strange, but COVID-19 gave me the opportunity to restore my faith in God. When my mother tested positive, she was hospitalized because she was so sick. She called me and asked me to pray her back to health because she couldn’t pray anymore. Hearing the despair in her voice, I immediately began to pray. I reached out and asked my prayer warriors to pray as well. I couldn’t give up on my mother because she’s never given up on me. So, I prayed with all my heart. As days passed, my mother’s condition improved. My prayers were answered. My faith has since been restored and is stronger now than it has ever been.”


November 2020 • A23

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

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

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

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Boswell remembered for his personality, smile

By KYLE PARMLEY Talk to anyone who knew Parker Boswell and the scope of his personality becomes clear. Genuine, caring, kind-hearted and intentional with an infectious smile is how those who were around him on a daily basis describe him. Boswell, a former Spain Park High School basketball star, died in a car accident in September while returning to Southern Union Community College in Wadley. After spending a year at a prep school in Georgia, the 2019 Spain Park graduate was set to be a part of Southern Union’s basketball team. Chris Laatsch, who took over as the boys basketball coach at Spain Park ahead of Boswell’s senior season, sought out Boswell first when he took the job. He knew Boswell was the Jags’ leader and was impressed by his initial conversations. “A genuine kid. The first conversations with him were just real, and you felt like you had known him forever,” Laatsch said. Boswell played on Spain Park’s varsity team for five years and was on the Jags team in 2016 that advanced to the state semifinals. His senior year was not the easiest, though. The team struggled to win games, and Boswell fought through injuries much of the season. But Laatsch never could tell. “He continued to try to invest in his teammates even when he wasn’t on the floor,” Laatsch said. “He loved

If we treated people like he treated people, the world would be a much better place.


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

people. Basketball was important, but people were more important. He wanted everyone to be the best they could be.” Josh Wallace, a football player and track and field athlete during his time at Spain Park, considers Boswell one of his closest friends. The two were even running mates for student

government as seniors. Wallace remembers his friend as someone always interested in others. “He genuinely wanted to have a relationship with everyone around him,” Wallace said. “He would seek out those who were in need of a friend and be there for them.” Wallace also mentioned Boswell’s

smile, which is something that stuck with Allie DeSantis as well. DeSantis, who played volleyball at Spain Park, also considers Boswell one of her best friends. “I feel like words will never do him justice,” DeSantis said. “It was the way he carried himself. No matter what day it was, what was going on,

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

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B2 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

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November 2020 • B3

QUALITY CARE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. At Medical West, our number one priority is to provide quality care for our patients in a community-based environment. That’s why we’re excited to be able to offer three state-of-the-art facilities to the residents in your neighborhood. Our Freestanding Emergency Department is open 24/7 and is located conveniently off of Highway 150 next to Sprouts. Adjacent is our Hoover Health Center, which offers Family Medicine and Orthopedic care. We are excited to announce that our newest location will be coming to the Brocks Gap community this October. With four providers, this health center will offer another convenient option for the healthcare needs of your entire family.



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B4 • November 2020

Hoover Sun


PREP FOOTBALL HIGHLIGHTS Photos by Todd Lester, Erin Nelson and Barry Stephenson

Left: Hoover running back Jaylen Taylor (2) made the most of his opportunity, helping the Bucs to a comeback 29-28 victory over HewittTrussville on Oct. 2. His two touchdown runs allowed the Bucs to overcome a 28-16 deficit and pick up the win on a night top running back Dylan Pauley was out due to injury. He finished the night with 133 yards on 17 carries. Below left: Despite the Jags’ struggles in the middle of the season, Spain Park wide receiver Jaylen Ward (1) has put together solid performances. He scored a touchdown in games against Hoover and Vestavia Hills, notably, and had 99 receiving yards in the Hoover game. Below right: Hoover wide receiver Joseph Buffett (3) has stepped up in big moments for the Bucs’ offense this season. Buffett scored on a 24-yard run in the Spain Park game to give Hoover a lead it would never relinquish.

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

Hoover wide receiver Malik Thomas (1) helped lead the Bucs’ offense to its 28-6 victory over Prattville on Sept. 25. Thomas caught six passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Hoover kicker Constantine Hontzas (38) continues to provide consistency for the Bucs’ kicking game. Hontzas had successful field goal tries of 34 and 38 yards in Hoover’s 47-34 win over Spain Park on Oct. 8.


November 2020 • B5

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B6 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

Bucs outlast Jags in annual rivalry By GARY LLOYD

Clockwise, from above: Hoover wide receiver RJ Hamilton (80) tacks on yards after a completion during a game against Spain Park on Oct. 8 at the Hoover Met. Hoover running back Ahamari Williams (13) breaks through the line for a big gain. Spain Park wide receiver David Moultry (2) makes a grab. Photos by Barry Stephenson.

Hoover and Spain Park high schools combined for 1,068 yards of offense — that’s more than half a mile — but it was the second-ranked Bucs that came away with a 47-34 win over the Jags on Oct. 8 at the Hoover Met. “You can always throw the records out of the book,” Hoover head coach Josh Niblett said. “It’s one of those deals where both teams are going to play extremely hard. This game means a lot to them, and this game means a lot to us. It means a lot to the people in the community. I didn’t expect anything less than to get their best effort.” Spain Park head coach Shawn Raney said he was proud of how the Jags fought. “We’ve got to make plays,” Raney said. “We’ve got to make extra plays when you’re playing a team like that, which is almost every week in our region.”  Quarterback Josh Lundy tallied 317 yards on

23-of-37 passing. He threw touchdowns of 12 yards and 35 yards to Jabari Gaines and Malik Thomas. Hoover got 100-yard ground games from both Jaylen Taylor and Ahamari Williams. Taylor went for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, while Williams rushed nine times for 100 yards and a score. R.J. Hamilton led the Bucs receivers with seven catches for 102 yards. Thomas grabbed five passes for 80 yards and a score, while Gaines caught three for 51 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Bennett Meredith was masterful through the air for Spain Park, completing 32-of41 passes for 385 yards and four touchdowns. Half those touchdowns went to Cooper Kelley on scores of 70 and 4 yards. Kelley led receivers with seven catches for 132 yards. Justin Pegues scored the first points of the game on an 8-yard reception from Meredith. Meredith found Jaylen Ward on a 9-yard score early in the fourth quarter for his fourth passing TD. Ward finished with 10 catches for 99 yards.


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November 2020 • B7

Right: Hoover’s Gabrielle Essix (15) spikes the ball in a match against Spain Park at Hoover High School on Sept. 22. Below left: Spain Park head coach Kellye Bowen talks to the Jags during a timeout. Below right: The Buccaneers come together after scoring a point. Spain Park’s Emily Breazeale (6) spikes the ball in the match against Hoover.


STRONG The Hoover and Spain Park high school volleyball teams put together strong regular seasons, as has become the norm for two of the top programs in Class 7A. As of press time, both teams were preparing for what they hoped to be long postseason runs and a potential berth in the state championship at the end of October. Hoover got the best of Spain Park a couple times during the regular season.

Photos by Erin Nelson


B8 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

Sports Editor’s Note By Kyle Parmley

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

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

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

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

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

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November 2020 • B9

Events Junior League’s Market Noel goes Tree lighting event adjusts to ensure safety virtual for 2020 holiday season By JON ANDERSON

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

The city of Hoover plans to have its annual Christmas tree lighting outside Hoover City Hall on Dec. 1, but this year’s event will look a lot different than it has in previous years due to COVID19, Events Coordinator Erin Colbaugh said. “We’re trying to kind of spread things out a little more,” Colbaugh said. The event is the city’s official kickoff for the Christmas season and the date on which the estimated Ruthie Halbrooks, 3, left, and her sister Rylee, 3, look at the 62,000 or more lights are ornaments on the tree at Hoover City Hall during the 2019 turned on the 43-foot-tall tree in the grassy area along Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Photo by Erin Nelson. U.S. 31. In year’s past, the event has included a snack buffet with cookies, hot chocolate and other treats, as well as music by a school band Christmas tree lighting and elementary school choir. But COVID-19 is complicating things this year, so the event • WHERE: Hoover City Hall likely will be much different, Colbaugh said. • WHEN: Dec. 1, 5 p.m. “We’re just trying to recreate an event to • COST: Free make it a memorable event for everybody in a different way than we normally have,” she said. City officials will review guidance from the in the night’s festivities. Colbaugh also is U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preven- trying to arrange for a professional photogtion and Alabama and Jefferson County health rapher to be there to take family Christmas departments to make it as safe as possible, Col- portraits. The Hoover Public Library will close at 3 baugh said. Historically, Santa Claus has paid a p.m. that day to free up the library parking lot visit and taken pictures with children. This across the street from City Hall for the event. year, they’re not sure Santa will be able to The portion of Municipal Lane between the have children sit in his lap at the event, but library and City Hall also will close for the they’re trying to make sure he has a part event to keep the area safer.

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B10 • November 2020

Hoover Sun Watercolor artist Kimberly Paige, the featured artist for the 2020 Moss Magic festival, sits in her home studio surrounded by some of her artwork. Photo courtesy of Foundation for Arts & Cultural Connections.

Moss Rock Festival adds some ‘magic’ for 2020 By JON ANDERSON The Moss Rock Festival will look a lot different for its 15th year — with an alternate location and a touch of “magic.” The “eco-creative” festival that celebrates both art and nature is moving this year from the Preserve subdivision next to the 350-acre Moss Rock Preserve nature park to the lower parking lot at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Nov. 7-8. The reason for the move is the COVID-19 pandemic and the problems that come with having to shuttle people from the usual parking area at Prince of Peace Catholic Church. Festival organizers were concerned about the shuttle buses becoming a means for transmission of the COVID-19 disease. So they decided to move the whole festival to the Met, where there is enough room for both the festival and parking nearby, said Alex Kunzman, co-director of the festival. The “magic” being added to the Moss Rock Festival this year is dozens of artists that normally take part in the Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham’s Linn Park. That in-person event in April was canceled due to COVID-19 and turned into a virtual art experience. Kunzman and his mother, Eileen Kunzman, run both art festivals and, given the unusual circumstances this year, decided to fuse them together. This year’s event is being called “Moss Magic.” “We’ll definitely miss our home at The Preserve this year, but with everything that’s happening with COVID, we think this is the best way for us to proceed and be able to keep everybody safe,” Alex Kunzman said. “It definitely will be a different experience, but all the artist booths and great artwork will really transform the space [at the Hoover Met]. It’s not completely barren there. There are a lot of tree lines and skies.” The artists are really ready to be out with people and selling their artwork again, and people who have been unable to attend art festivals are ready to experience them again, Kunzman said. “We’re happy that we can still move forward.” There normally are about 100

Moss Magic • WHAT: A fusion of the 15th annual Moss Rock Festival and 38th annual Magic City Art Connection • WHERE: Hoover Metropolitan Stadium parking lot, 5310 Stadium Trace Parkway • WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 7, 10

Emma Gossett, 8, decorates a paper snowflake at a craft booth during the 2019 Moss Rock Festival at The Preserve. Photo by Erin Nelson.

artists at the Moss Rock Festival, and their artwork either depicts nature, is influenced by nature or uses natural or recycled materials. This year, there will be about 130 artists, and about half of them will be of the “Moss Rock Festival” mold, Kunzman said. The other half will be the Magic City Art Connection artists, who will add a more diverse array of artwork, he said. The two groups of artists’ booths will be intermingled with signs designating which ones are part of which group, he said.


This year’s featured artist is Kimberly Paige, a 27-year-old watercolor artist who lives in the Irondale area. She grew up in Virginia and moved to the Birmingham area in 2015 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in studio arts and psychology from the University of Virginia. She followed her parents here, found the love of her life and is now engaged to be married. Art is her full-time profession. Most of her paintings mirror the

beauty she sees in nature and are inspired by a host of house plants in her studio. “I really aim to create paintings that connect me with people who enjoy being out in nature,” Paige said. “Everyone can relate to the way nature is. It makes me feel happy and warm and calm all at the same time, and that’s the way I want my paintings to feel — very comforting and like a warm embrace. I think we all need a little more of that in our lives.” Kunzman said that’s one reason they chose Paige as the featured artist this year — to help bring a sense of calm to an otherwise tumultuous year.


Some normal parts of the Moss Rock Festival will not be there this year, such as guided hikes through the Moss Rock Preserve, but organizers are trying to find a way to do those hikes at another time. “It might be the week after,” Kunzman said. Other activities such as a climbing

wall and rope bridge will be missing, as will the Greenways and Pathways Expo, which normally features ideas for outdoor activities, travel, parks, preservation and appreciation of nature. The festival also will not have “smart living” design exhibitors like it normally does, but the Alabama Wildlife Center will be showing off some of its rehabilitated birds, and the Hoover Historical Society will be present to foster an appreciation for historical preservation. The big focus this year is on the expanded artist lineup, Kunzman said. There also will be the “smart living market” — similar to a farmers market, introducing people to fresh, organic, locally made, sustainable products, including food and items for the home, body and health. Participants expected to be there include the Ivy Brook Apiary (a beekeeping outfit on the eastside of Birmingham), the Borth Beach Soapery (a Birmingham business that makes soaps from all-natural ingredients) and Dayspring Dairy (which makes sheep milk cheeses from a flock of 100 dairy sheep in the Gallant community in Etowah and St. Clair counties). The annual WonderKids Studio will feature several art experiences for kids inspired by nature, science and recycling. One will be a “neon tower” that kids will participate in building throughout the weekend, using individually selected and painted objects. The Moss Rock Festival normally has a Planet Project, in which teams of students from various schools build sculptures with a selected theme related to the environment or nature, but with all the challenges schools are facing this year, festival organizers didn’t pursue that project this year.

a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. • COST: $10 day ticket; $15 weekend ticket (kids 15 and younger get in free) • PARKING: Free at Hoover Met Stadium • WEB: mossrockfestival.com

There won’t be any live music this year, but music selected by Birmingham Mountain Radio will be played, Kunzman said.


There definitely will be food at the festival. Food trucks will include the Bollywood Curry House (Indian food), Rendezvous Kitchen Co. (a plant-based food truck), Tamale Queen, Rae Rae’s Catering (classic American food and some ethnic cuisine), Catering by LaNetta (soul food), Pazzo’s Big Slice + Italian Bistro and Steel City Pops (popsicles). There also will be beer, wine and cocktails available. However, the beer garden that has been a feature at the festival this year is turning into an off-site “beer garden trail.” People can purchase a trail ticket for $35 and get three tastes of beer at at least 15 pubs or breweries across the Birmingham area between Oct. 15 and Nov. 30. The beer garden trail ticket also is good for admission to the Moss Magic festival. A 13-ounce Belgian commemorative glass is available through the Whole Foods Market in Mountain Brook. Safety is at the forefront of festival organizers’ minds, so numerous protocols are being put in place this year, including more space between artist booths, wider pedestrian paths, contactless ticket purchase options, mask requirements for vendors and attendees and socially distanced eating and lounging spaces. “We’re really being cognizant of the protocols so it’s a safe and fun and inspiring experience for all,” Kunzman said. For more details and to order tickets, go to mossrockfestival.com.


November 2020 • B11

City closing schedule for upcoming November holidays

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


2020 Walk to End Epilepsy goes virtual due to COVID-19 By JON ANDERSON The Hoover-based Epilepsy Foundation Alabama is going virtual with its third annual Walk to End Epilepsy on Nov. 7. The first two years, the approximately 1-mile walk was held at Railroad Park in Birmingham, but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants are being asked to do the walk in their own neighborhood, on their treadmill or wherever they choose, said Sara Franklin, the foundation’s executive director. The nonprofit group asks people, as individuals or teams, to collect donations to sponsor them in the walk to help the group raise awareness about epilepsy and support research and services for people with the disorder. The foundation will have an online presentation on the Zoom video conferencing platform for the entire state of Alabama at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 7, and people are asked to do their walk after the presentation. “We are excited to once again bring our Birmingham Walk to End Epilepsy, even if it’s virtual, to those throughout the state of Alabama in order to further engage and mobilize the community to be part of the fight to end epilepsy,” Franklin said in a news release. “Even though the event is online, it strengthens

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

our current efforts and generates funding to help families affected by epilepsy and seizures in our local community.” About 200 people registered for the first Walk to End Epilepsy in Birmingham and raised about $13,700 in 2018, Franklin said. Last year, 700 to 800 people came out to Railroad Park and raised more than $61,000, she said. This year’s goal was $52,500, but as of Oct. 21, 285 people and 38 teams had already raised $72,415, according to the organization’s website. There is no registration fee, but individuals who raise $50 or more will receive a Walk to End Epilepsy T-shirt. To sign up for the walk or for more information, go to walktoend epilepsy.org/birmingham.

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


► Hoover Municipal Center and city offices in the Hoover Public Safety Center: Closed for Veterans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ►  Hoover Public Library: Closed for Veterans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving ►  Hoover Recreation Center: Open regular hours (5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.) on Veterans Day; closed Thursday, Nov. 26, for Thanksgiving and open 8 Several offices will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 11, to a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. honor Veterans Day. Photo by Erin Nelson. ► Aldridge Gardens: Open normal winter hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) on Veterans Day; closed ThanksOTHER CLOSINGS giving Day. ►  Jefferson County offices (including ► Hoover Senior Center: Closed for Vet- Hoover satellite office): Closed Veterans Day erans Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. ► Hoover City Schools: Closed for Veter►  Shelby County offices (including ans Day; E-learning days planned on Monday Inverness license office): Closed Veterans and Tuesday, Nov. 23-24; closed Wednes- Day and Nov. 26-27 for Thanksgiving. day-Friday, Nov. 25-27, for Thanksgiving. ►  Alabama Department of Reve► Garbage: Normal pickup on Veterans nue Jefferson-Shelby Taxpayer Service Day; for Thanksgiving week, garbage nor- Center: Closed for Veterans Day and usually mally picked up on Thursday will be picked Thursday and Friday, Nov. 26-27, for Thanksup Friday, and garbage normally picked up giving; all visits by appointment only due to Friday will be picked up Saturday. COVID-19.

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B12 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

Left: Several hundred people attended the 2020 Taste of Hoover event Oct. 8 at Aldridge Gardens. Above left: Dottie Keyes of Jubilee Joe’s Cajun Seafood Restaurant serves Cajun fried turkey to Anna Price. Above right: Among the guests, from left, were Parker Hendrixson, Ellison Hendrixson, Tiffany Smith and Blake Gossett. Photos by Jon Anderson.

2020 Taste of Hoover draws hundreds despite COVID-19 By JON ANDERSON

Right: Jessica Daviston, Anna Price and Tom O’Connell. Above: Steven McIntyre of R&S Food Service serves some candied bacon and roaster chicken to David and Molly Custred of the Trace Crossings community. Below: John Taylor and Carol Downey of the Tradewinds Duo perform.

Several hundred people came out to Aldridge Gardens on Oct. 8 for the 2020 Taste of Hoover event, sampling food and beverages from establishments across the city. Tynette Lynch, the city’s director of tourism and hospitality and CEO of Aldridge Gardens, said this was probably the best lineup of restaurants for the event since it started in 2012. “I think we have more full-service restaurants than we’ve had before,” Lynch said. There were 31 food and beverage providers, including many first-time participants such as Jefferson’s, Jimmy John’s, Jubilee Joe’s Cajun Seafood Restaurant, MELT, Pho Pho Asian Cuisine and Super Chix. Lynch said she was concerned the movement of the Spain Park-Hoover football game to the same night of Taste of Hoover might hurt attendance at the food event, but most people appeared to come to the Taste of Hoover anyway. Some came to the food event, which started at 5 p.m., first before heading to the game. Tickets were $45 for Aldridge Gardens members, $50 for the general public and free for children 12 and younger. All proceeds benefited Aldridge Gardens. After expenses are covered, Lynch estimated the public gardens would net about $10,000. Live music was provided by the Tradewinds Duo (Carol Downey and John Taylor). Lauren Grisham, vice president of the group that bought the Jefferson’s restaurant in Hoover in August, said the event was a great opportunity for them. “We want to get out and meet the people of Hoover and introduce ourselves to the locals, get our name out,” Grisham said. Harry and Connie Blalock of the Magnolia Grove community said they come to the Taste of Hoover every year. Connie Blalock formerly worked at Aldridge Gardens and frequently worked the event, but now she is retired and was glad to be able to enjoy it as a guest. “It’s a great tradition for Hoover,” she said. Harry Blalock said he enjoyed the wine from International Wines & Craft Beers and the offerings from Super Chix and Rock N Roll Sushi. Connie Blalock said she really liked the “redfish Rockefeller” from the Cajun Steamer Bar & Grill. It’s a Creole redfish filet topped with jumbo shrimp in a creamy spinach and bacon sauce and served over

Cajun mashed potatoes. Nadia Hussey of Chelsea, who was there with her husband from Carrabba’s Italian Grill, said she liked the white chocolate bread pudding served by Tre Luna Catering & Tre Luna Bar and Kitchen, and she had to come back for seconds of Tre Luna’s spinach and artichoke dip. Jim and Audrey Ann Wilson of the Martinwood community said they were surprised but glad to see such a strong crowd, given the COVID-19 epidemic. “I think people for the most part were being very careful, distancing and wearing their masks (while not eating), Audrey Ann Wilson said. This year, vendors were spread apart more than usual, and seating was spread out more as well. Jim Wilson said he really liked the chocolate brownie ice cream from The Whole Scoop and the macaroni and cheese, macaroni and cheese egg roll and food truck nachos from MELT. Here is the complete list of food and beverage vendors that participated: ► Back Forty Beer Co. ► Bojangles ► Bruno’s Hospitality ► CakEffect ► Carrabba’s Italian Grill ► Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery ► Chicken Salad Chick ► Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United ► Dread River Distilling Co. ► Edible Arrangements ► Emily’s Heirloom Poundcakes ► Eugene’s Hot Chicken ► The Happy Catering Co. ► International Wines & Craft Beers ► Jefferson’s Restaurant ► Jimmy John’s ► Jubilee Joe’s Cajun Seafood Restaurant ► MELT ► Merk’s Tavern & Kitchen ► Pho Pho Asian Cuisine ► R&S Catering ► Rock N Roll Sushi ► Santos Coffee ► Savoie Catering ► Sprouts Farmers Market ► Super Chix ► Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe ► The Cajun Steamer ► The Whole Scoop ► Tre Luna Catering/Tre Luna Bar & Kitchen ► Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar


November 2020 • B13

B14 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

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

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

By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE The King’s Home nonprofit, which provides homes for youth, women and children seeking refuge from domestic violence, neglect, abandonment, homelessness and other difficult circumstances, in September dedicated a new transitional living house named after a donor from Hoover. The house, called Jane’s House after donor Jane Franks, will provide an alternative living arrangement for foster girls ages 16-19 in the custody the of Alabama Department of Human Resources. The home will allow the teen girls to practice their independent living skills in a variety of congregate settings with decreasing degrees of supervision. Most of all, it’s designed to be a safe, loving place where young ladies find hope and opportunity in a caring, Christian home. “I am excited about supporting these precious young ladies in honor of my parents Byron and Ruby Johnston,” Franks said. “My prayer is that this home will be a haven where they can find strength and comfort in a beautiful environment as they grow in their independence.” Seven girls moved into the home that first week of operation. The space had been freshly renovated and furnished with the help of grants and donors. Franks has been a generous advocate and driving force behind the effort, King’s Home President Lew Burdette said. The girls eligible for this program may have been abused, neglected or exploited and may exhibit mild and/or occasional behavioral and/or emotional problems. The program is designed to allow them to experience the

natural consequences of daily actions and decisions with the safety net of King’s Home program staff there to give support and guidance. Youth can gradually transition from needing daily support to being able to cope with being alone, seeking non-agency support systems that include friends, mentors and people from church. Youth in this level of care are basically in good health and typically meet criteria such as: exhibiting behavior that is under control; not requiring constant adult supervision; having peer relations that are generally positive; being

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generally compliant with staff; showing an ability to function at this level of care; and not posing a safety risk to the community or other youth in the facility. They are also able and willing to participate in one or more of the following: high school, a vocational training program, college, GED preparation, and/or part-time or full-time employment. The dedication event featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, refreshments and a tour of the new house at 35 King’s Home Drive in Chelsea.


November 2020 • B15


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No hidden costs Models in the Hoover Service Club’s 2020 fall fashion show at the Hoover Country Club on Oct. 8 pose for a photo backstage. In front, from left: Debbie Rutherford and Elaine Thompson. Second row, from left: Melanie Posey, Bonnie Campbell, Frances Brocato and fashion consultant Darlene Higginbotham. Back row, from left: Kim Allen, Barbara Henry, Shelley Shaw and Karen Bruce. Photos courtesy of Hoover Service Club.

Hoover Service Club hosts fall fashion show

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About a dozen Hoover Service Club members put on a fall fashion show at the Hoover Service Club on Oct. 8. The show featured fashions from Gameday In Style Boutique and highlighted gameday attire, plus casual and comfortable everyday styles, handmade jewelry and accessories. The owner of Gameday In Style Boutique, Sylvia Gonda, and fashion consultant Darlene Real Higginbotham served as emcees for the event. Rhonda Boyd, the club’s first vice president, organized the show. – Submitted by Debbie Rutherford.

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B16 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

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

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

Superintendent Kathy Murphy talks with the Hoover Board of Education during a school board meeting at the Farr Administration Building on Oct. 14. Photo by Jon Anderson.

school district in the state. “It holds this distinction because of outstanding teachers, school leaders, support staff and the school board,” she said in written remarks. “Blend this with the fine young people in our district, their caring parents and a supportive city, and the formula is complete for greatness. HCS will continue its fine tradition of success.” Before coming to Hoover five years ago, Murphy served as superintendent in Monroe County for four years but also served two years as an administrative assistant to the Butler County superintendent, seven years as a high school principal (Charles Henderson

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and Greenville high schools) and nine years as principal at Greenville Middle School. She also taught eight years as a college professor at Judson College and West Georgia College and served as athletic director and a department chairwoman at one of those colleges. She was a finalist to become the state school superintendent in April 2018. Murphy said there was nothing in particular that prompted her to move forward in her career, but she always thinks it’s important to evaluate yourself both professionally and personally and look for ways to grow. “This was an opportunity that came my way

to sort of follow a circle here,” she said. She has worked in K-12 systems at a small college and a four-year university, but never at a two-year college, she said. She believes strongly in the two-year college concept, whether people are using it to get a two-year degree, move on to a four-year university or just gain some new technical and professional work skills, she said. “This is another place to serve those who are wanting to continue their education,” she said. “The stars aligned in such a way that there was an opportunity, and I took advantage of an opportunity.” Gadsden State has five campuses and educational centers across Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah and St. Clair counties. The college offers degrees and certifications across 17 programs of study and is among the latest of Alabama’s community colleges to host the Alabama Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (F.A.M.E.) apprenticeship program with area companies. Murphy obtained a doctorate in physical education (with an emphasis in program administration and curriculum development) and a master’s degree in physical education from Auburn University. She also has a master’s degree and educational specialist degree in educational leadership from Auburn University Montgomery and a bachelor’s degree in education from Troy University. Hoover school board President Deanna Bamman said Hoover is losing a great leader, but this is a great opportunity for Murphy. The school board will push forward to find another strong leader but likely will name an interim superintendent to take over Jan. 1 in the meantime.

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November 2020 • B17

Demolition project for old Bluff Park School begins By JON ANDERSON A project to tear down parts of the old Bluff Park Elementary School has begun after years of planning. But Hoover schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy said the oldest and most historic part of the structure — built in the early 1920s — will not be torn down. Instead, school officials plan to renovate and reuse the original part of the building, which has two classrooms and two rooms most recently used as offices, said Matt Wilson, the school system’s director of operations. The part that is being torn down includes the old lunchroom and kitchen, a four-classroom addition on the left side of the main entrance, a two-story addition to the right of the main entrance that included the old library that for many years housed records of the Hoover Historical Society, and an L-shaped group of classrooms in the back of the campus. On Sept. 10, the Hoover school board agreed to pay Complete Demolition Services $461,000 to handle the demolition work for most of the old elementary school, which sits next to the new Bluff Park Elementary School on Park Avenue. At one time, school officials had hoped to save more of the buildings, including the old lunchroom and kitchen, but further inspections revealed additional problems that made the structures unsafe and renovations unfeasible, Wilson said. Complete Demolition Services was the lowest of four bidders for the job. The school board had budgeted $604,000 for the project, so it came in well under budget. Wilson said Complete Demolition hired a

Construction crews work to remove asbestos from the historic Bluff Park School. Actual demolition began Oct. 20. Photo by Erin Nelson.

subcontractor to remove asbestos from the old building before the actual demolition work. All the asbestos removal was to be done in a completely sealed environment, so there was no need to be concerned about health impacts for children and staff in the adjacent operating school or others in the nearby community. The goal is to complete the demolition by late November or early December. Wilson said he hoped to have bids for the renovation work on the oldest part of the building ready for the school board to consider at its Nov. 9 meeting, so that renovations can begin

as soon as demolition is completed. The goal is to have renovations complete by the start of the 2021-22 school year, he said. The school system’s student services staff is expected to occupy the building once renovations are complete. Since the new Bluff Park Elementary School opened in 1993, the old building has been used for a variety of purposes. For a while, it was known as the Bluff Park Community School, which offered a variety of classes and served as a gathering spot for community meetings. From 2011-17, the building was the Artists on

the Bluff facility and served as a home for working studios for artists and their art classes. From 2015-17, the old cafeteria was converted into a restaurant called Capers on Park Avenue. But the old buildings have belonged to the Hoover Board of Education since the school system was formed in the late 1980s. In recent years, as school officials began exploring capital needs and the condition of the old Bluff Park School, an architect determined that renovations would have cost $3 million to $4 million. School officials determined it wasn’t worth the cost.

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B18 • November 2020

Hoover Sun

Spain Park’s Hamilton wins presidential award for science teaching Pamela Hamilton works with in-person and virtual students in her earth and space science class Sept. 29 at Spain Park High School as students lead her in a crystallization lab. Hamilton was recently selected as a national winner for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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

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

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


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

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


November 2020 • B19

Todd named 1st African American president for University of Montevallo alumni group


Cynthia Todd, a Hoover resident who graduated from the University of Montevallo in 1988, this year began serving as the first African American president of the university’s National Alumni Association. Photo courtesy of University of Montevallo.

parliamentarian, Class of 1980 ► Jean Kline, vice president of finance/ treasurer, Class of 1977 ► Diane Ray, vice president of board development, secretary, Class of 1968 ► Greg Lee, vice president for alumni clubs, Class of 1999 ► Dr. Terra Miller, vice president for alumni services, Class of 2006 ► Christopher Williams, vice president for awards and recognition, Class of 2007 ► Eddie C. Baker III, vice president for student services, Class of 2004 ► Megan Randolph, vice president for special events, Class of 2006 – Submitted by University of Montevallo.

Master Sgt. Grant Gibson, an instructor in the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Hoover High School, was recently honored as the Aerospace Science Instructor of the Year for Region 8. Gibson was one of 18 instructors to receive the award this year out of about 2,000 instructors nationally, said Jason Gaston, the spokesman for Hoover City Schools. The Junior ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) program at Hoover High School is just in its third year and recently was recognized as the best one in Alabama. Gibson said the award was not because of what he and Col. Chris Moulton, the proGibson gram director, have done, but because of the support from the school board, Superintendent Kathy Murphy, the administration at Hoover High School and, most importantly, the students at Hoover High who decided to get involved in the program. “They take it on, and they amaze us every single day,” Gibson said. “Even in the pandemic, they’re still amazing us.” The Junior ROTC program is designed to educate and train high school students in citizenship, promote community service, and instill personal responsibility, character and self-discipline. The program includes classroom education in air and space fundamentals, hands-on learning opportunities and challenging extracurricular activities, but cadets have no obligation to join the military.

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American Society and Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society. She received several honors, including Senior Elite, Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, Golson Scholars Seminar, The Wall Street Journal Annual Achievement Award, the John A. House Award and The United States Achievement Academy National Collegiate Award.  Other members of the University of Montevallo’s National Alumni Association board of directors include: ► Stephanie Shaw, president-elect, Class of 1993 ► Toni Leo, past president,


Cynthia Todd, a Hoover resident who graduated from the University of Montevallo in 1988, this year began serving as the first African American president of the university’s National Alumni Association. Todd is focusing her efforts on engaging the university’s alumni and supporting its students. “I am excited to serve as president of the UMNAA board. It is such an honor and privilege to serve our great alma mater,” Todd said. “We should be proud Montevallo alumni and let everyone know where we received our outstanding education.” As UMNAA president, Todd has been working to provide more networking opportunities between alumni and students, bolster alumni engagement with the university and increase the association’s presence on social media and in the community. She has served in several roles with the association since 2006 and served as president of the university’s Minority Alumni Club from 2015-17. Professionally, Todd is the operations manager of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, and she has worked with the company for nearly 12 years. She previously worked as a manager at Protective Life in Birmingham for more than 20 years. “Clearly, the Bachelor of Business Administration degree I earned from the University of Montevallo prepared me for a successful career in management,” Todd said. “Because of the exceptional education I received at Montevallo, I am a proven business management professional with more than 30 years of experience and a track record of consistent promotions and increasing responsibilities.” During her time as a student at Montevallo, Todd served as president of the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity and was an active member of Inspirational Voices of Christ, the African

Hoover High’s Gibson named JROTC Regional Instructor of Year

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