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Sun Neighborly news & entertainment for Hoover

Volume 5 | Issue 5 | February 2017

UNCOMMON STAR Jags’ Mary Katherine Tedder views clutch moments as just another chance ‘to be great’



omething is different about Mary Katherine Tedder. There is a quiet intensity that burns deep inside, a competitiveness that drives her, an unwillingness to lose in anything, whether it is the softball state tournament or a ping-pong match with her coach. Spain Park High School’s runner-up finish in the state softball tournament last season was a great accomplishment for the program, but the loss in the championship game was the “worst feeling in the world” for Tedder. Losing that trivial ping-pong match was not nearly as crushing, but it still bothered her. That competitive fire burns like a blowtorch, especially in big moments. When the bases are loaded in the final inning, Tedder isn’t shaking at the knees or having a case of the sweaty palms. “It’s just another opportunity to be great,” she said.

See TEDDER | page A30

Mary Katherine Tedder deflects the spotlight any chance she gets, but there’s no denying that she is a powerful force on and off the softball field. Photo by Todd Lester.

Building community, 1 step at a time By JON ANDERSON

Pre-Sort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Tupelo, MS Permit #54

Alex and Gay Cotten love to take their dogs out for a stroll on the sidewalks in Hoover’s Bluff Park community. They have done it almost every day since moving to Bluff Park from Altadena in September, Alex Cotten said. While they’re out walking, they encounter parents pushing baby strollers and people on bicycles, scooters and skates, they said. “That’s what we want to see,” Gay Cotten said. They think the new sidewalks in Bluff Park have been a great addition, helping them get to know their neighbors better.

“I think that’s the kind of stuff that brings that younger market in,” Alex Cotten added. New Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato also is a big fan of sidewalks and said expanding the city’s sidewalk network is an important part of his vision for the city. “Sidewalks just change the dynamic of a neighborhood,” Brocato said. In the past, the city has relied heavily on federal funds for sidewalk projects because the federal government will pay 80 percent of the cost for qualifying projects.


See SIDEWALKS | page A28 Sponsors .............. A4 News...................... A6

Chamber............... A11 Business .............. A12

Janet Riddle and her son, Joel Riddle, take a stroll on sidewalks in The Preserve. Photo by Jon Anderson.

Community ........ A22 Events ................. A24

School House ...... B8 Sports .................. B13

Real Estate.......... B21 Calendar ............. B22

Giving Back

Break for Laughs

Bluff Park United Methodist Church gives back to the community through a variety of service projects.

A convenience store on Valleydale is a hub for early morning chats and laughter for community members.

See page A19

See page B1

A2 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

February 2017 • A3

A4 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

About Us Editor’s Note By Sydney Cromwell Valentine’s Day has never topped the list of important holidays for me, but I think this year that’s going to have to change. After nearly seven years together, my fiancé and I have decided to get married on Feb. 11, 2017. When you choose your wedding date about five weeks before it happens, you’re going to get some surprised responses from friends and family. And it’s true — my wedding won’t have a lot of the traditional elements that are expected. But it has touched me to see the people in my life offer an outpouring of support without hesitation. In the past few weeks, I’ve been the recipient of advice from friends who have already tied the knot, dress shopping suggestions and simple reassurances when I start wondering whether five weeks is enough time to plan


anything. These things are like wedding gifts to me: given from the heart from people who care about my fiancé and me. A wedding is about celebrating two people, but behind them there is always

► A story on page A7 of the January edition of the Hoover Sun incorrectly stated that Patricia Clark, one of the property owners of 9 acres slated for a 35-house subdivision in Bluff Park, inherited her property. The owners of another parcel that is part of the 9 acres did inherit their property, but

a community of support and love that helped bring the couple to their wedding day. I don’t believe I could have made it to Feb. 11 in one piece without that community. With so much going on in work and in life, I’m often guilty of not appreciating people enough. So I’m taking this moment to say it in writing. Thank you, to my friends and my family and my co-workers and the many wonderful strangers I have met through this job. Thank you for your love and kindness and patience, for laughter and long nights together and good memories. I’m a very lucky person, indeed.

Clark purchased her parcel in 2006. ► A story on page A15 of the January edition of the Hoover Sun incorrectly listed the phone number for Alford Avenue Antiques as 205516-4617. The store’s phone number is 205-516-4767.


Hoover’s Angela Grant (44) goes up to win a rebound during the Bucs basketball game against the Vestavia Rebels on January 17, 2017 at Vestavia Hills High School. Grant had 7 rebounds in the game. The Bucs pulled off a strong victory defeating the Rebels 53-15. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

Sun Publisher: Managing Editor: Design Editor: Director of Digital Media: Director of Photography: Sports Editor: Page Designers: Community Editor: Community Reporters: Staff Writers: Copy Editor:

Dan Starnes Sydney Cromwell Kristin Williams Heather VacLav-Hooper Sarah Finnegan Kyle Parmley Cameron Tipton Emily VanderMey Erica Techo Jon Anderson Jesse Chambers Lexi Coon Emily Featherston Sam Chandler Louisa Jeffries

Contributing Writers: Rachel Burchfield Sarah Cook Grace Thornton Marienne Thomas Ogle

Advertising Manager: Matthew Allen Sales and Distribution: Warren Caldwell Don Harris Michelle Salem Haynes Brittany Joffrion Rhonda Smith James Plunkett Jon Harrison Gail King Eric Clements

For advertising contact: Contact Information: Hoover Sun PO Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780

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

Published by: Hoover Sun LLC Legals: The Hoover Sun is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. The Hoover Sun is designed to inform the Hoover community of area school, family and community events. Information in The Hoover Sun is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of The 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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February 2017 • A5

A6 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

City Hoover council rezones 6.5 acres off Valleydale Road By JON ANDERSON The Hoover City Council on Jan. 17 rezoned 6.5 acres off Valleydale Road next to Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover campus to make way for a convenience store and small strip shopping center. The property at one time had a mobile home park on it, Hoover planning consultant Bob House said. It now has one house, a couple of storage buildings, a mobile home and a barn, said Todd Thompson, an engineer representing property owner Shelia Vaughn. The plan is to demolish the house to make way for the commercial development, Thompson said. The property is currently zoned as an agricultural district in unincorporated Shelby County, and Vaughn was asking Hoover to zone it as a C-2 community business district. The zoning change won’t take effect until Hoover annexes the property. Vaughn has an annexation request pending with the City Council. The council’s annexation committee on Dec. 19 recommended approval of the annexation, but Vaughn and city officials wanted to address the rezoning request first. The state Legislature changed the law five to 10 years ago to allow cities to zone property prior to annexation to give more certainty about land use prior to the annexation taking place, House said. The property is at 4670 Valleydale Road, on the north side of the road and across the street from the North Shelby Fire Station No. 1, Thompson said. There is an embroidery and screen printing business to the east (zoned as a Shelby County B-2 business district) and Jefferson State Community College to the north and west (zoned for office and institutional use in Hoover).

The Hoover City Council on Jan. 17 rezoned 6.5 acres at 4670 Valleydale Road (outlined in black), next to Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover campus, from a Shelby County agricultural district to a C-2 community business district in Hoover, subject to the property being annexed into Hoover. Map courtesy of the city of Hoover.

The plan is to put a street between the convenience store and small strip shopping center to provide one access onto Valleydale Road, Thompson said. That road could be a cul-desac, or it could connect to the college campus, if the college and land developer come to an

agreement, he said. House said it would be ideal for the road to connect to the college campus and also allow the college to build a connector road from the east side of its property to the west side. It also would be ideal if the strip shopping center

contained businesses that complement a college campus, he said. The convenience store is expected to generate 172 vehicle trips in the morning and 160 vehicle trips in the afternoon, while the small shopping center should generate 65 vehicle

February 2017 • A7

trips in the morning and 55 trips in the afternoon, Thompson said. He doesn’t believe the development would warrant a new traffic signal, he said. However, there likely will need to be a left-turn lane for eastbound traffic on Valleydale Road and a deceleration right-turn lane for westbound traffic on Valleydale, and the developer of the property is willing to provide that, Thompson said. The developer would leave enough land for the planned widening of Valleydale Road in that area, he said. The plan is to develop the property tastefully, modeling the convenience store after the Greystone Shell gasoline station, according to the person who wants to operate the convenience store there. In other business, the Hoover City Council: Approved plans for a clubhouse, pool and park for the first phase of the Lake Wilborn section of Trace Crossings. Signature Homes President Jonathan Belcher said it will be a $2 million facility with 8,500 square feet of covered space, 5,500 square feet of which will be

heated and cooled. Annexed two vacant residential parcels on Strollaway Drive. Approved an agreement between the city of Hoover, CSX Transportation and Blackridge Partners regarding a bridge over a CSX railroad track. Tim Westhoven, the city’s chief operations officer, said the agreement basically obligates the city to take over maintenance of the bridge once it is built by the developer. Rejected a bid by a company called Diversified to supply and install an audio-visual system at the new 155,000-square-foot Finley Center at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex and authorized the mayor to negotiate with the company to get a lower price. Diversified was the only bidder for the job. The company offered to do the work the city wants done for $440,829. Named former Hoover Library Board member Michael Krawcheck as an emeritus library trustee, allowing him to continue to participate in board meetings as a non-voting member. His fifth four-year term expired in December, and the City Council named Ruth Cole as his replacement on Jan. 3.

Mayor’s Minute

By Frank V. Brocato We hope you are having a great 2017! We are very excited that the 155,000-square-foot Finley Center will be opening for business in time for the SEC Baseball Tournament in May.. I know you have all read or heard so much about this facility, but I have to reiterate that this facility is going to be an absolute fantastic addition to our city and the surrounding Birmingham/Hoover metropolitan area. My wife Frances and I are Frank V. Brocato looking forward to attending the Hoover Service Club Hearts and Harmony Gala on February 10. The volunteers who make up the Service Club work tirelessly all year in Best, an effort to raise money for scholarships for our Hoover students and donations to worthy charities that serve the Hoover community. This kind of camaraderie and helping spirit is what makes Hoover such a great place to live and raise a

family. For more details about the Hoover Service Club or to get involved, please visit their website at hooverserviceclub. com. It truly is an honor to be the mayor of such a progressive community. We have so much to be thankful for, so take some time to get plugged in to what Hoover has to offer all ages in our community. Remember, we are here to help and serve you, so please feel free to contact our office if we can be of assistance to you in any way.

The Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to let Don White resubdivide this 1.4acre parcel at 2236 Ivy Lane into three residential lots, one with an existing home and two more lots designed for houses. Photo by Jon Anderson; map provided by the city of Hoover.

Planning Commission OKs plans to resubdivide Shades Mountain parcel By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved final plans for three residential lots on Ivy Lane off Alford Avenue. One of the lots on the 1.4-acre parcel already has a home on it, and the owner, Don White, wanted to resubdivide the property to create two more lots for new single-family homes, said Ray Weygand, a land surveyor representing White.

Technically, White took six 50-foot-wide lots and pieces of two other lots to create one lot that is 147 feet wide (the lot with the existing home) and two lots that are 100 feet wide, Hoover Assistant City Engineer Chris Reeves said. The lots are about 180 feet deep. The property is zoned R-1 single-family residential, which requires single-story houses to be at least 1,500 square feet and 1½- or 2-story houses to be at least 1,900 square feet, Reeves said.

A8 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Hoover council appoints Cole, Sanford to library, park boards By JON ANDERSON The Hoover City Council in January appointed Paul Sanford to the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board and Ruth Cole to the Hoover Library Board. Sanford is filling the spot left from the resignation of Randy Lott and will complete the final five years of Lott’s term on the park board. Cole is replacing longtime Hoover Library Board member Michael Krawcheck, whose fifth four-year term ended in December. Sanford, 50, lives in Cahaba River Estates and has been a Hoover resident for 20 years. He spent many years serving in Hoover youth athletics, including 10 years on the board of the Hoover Athletic Association (many as treasurer) and as a member of the football steering committee for the Hoover Parks and Recreation Department, he said. He is proud of the work the group did to increase participation in youth football by several hundred boys, he said. Sanford also served as treasurer of the Buccaneer Touchdown Club the past couple of years and previously as the club’s president. He also was involved with the baseball booster club at Hoover High School. Sanford and his wife, Donya, have four children: Thomas (a third-year medical student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham); Preston (a science teacher and football and baseball coach at Hoover High); Sarah (a junior member of the track team at Samford University); and Sam (a junior at Hoover High).

Paul Sanford is filling the spot left from the resignation of Randy Lott and will complete the final five years of Lott’s term on the park board. Ruth Cole is replacing longtime Hoover Library Board member Michael Krawcheck, whose fifth four-year term ended in December. Sanford is the chief financial officer for the Barber Companies, where he has worked for 20 years. He also has served about 14 years on the board of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. He and his wife attend Riverchase Church of Christ. Hoover Councilman John Lyda, the council’s liaison to the Parks and Recreation Board, said more than a dozen people applied for the park board vacancy. Sanford brings the perfect mix of park and recreation experience and business acumen to the park board, Lyda said. He

is just what the city needs to help make the Hoover Metropolitan Complex the best it can be, and his experience with land management will be useful as the city looks to develop areas near the new sports complex next to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, Lyda said. Cole, 43, lives in Greystone and has been a Hoover resident about 12 years. She is president of the Berry Middle School PTO this year and previously served as president of the Greystone Elementary PTA. She and her husband, Doug, have a daughter, Addison, who is an eighth-grader at Berry and a son, Cooper, who is a fifth-grader at Greystone. She previously has worked as an accountant and as an accounting consultant for a Fortune 500 company. She served on the Hoover school superintendent’s advisory committee and has been a Sunday school teacher, troop coordinator for American Heritage Girls Troop AL1720, First Priority Kids volunteer and a volunteer with the Delta Delta Delta sorority for at least 20 years. Councilman Casey Middlebrooks, the council’s liaison to the Library Board and a former Hoover Public Library employee, said there were 12 applicants for the Library Board position and he believes Cole will be a great addition to the board because of her strong record of community involvement. Cole said the Hoover Public Library is one of the pillars of the community and she looks forward to working with the staff and city officials in the years to come.

Above: Ruth Cole, new member of the Hoover Library Board. Below: Paul Sanford, new member of the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board. Photos by Jon Anderson.

February 2017 • A9

Above: CircusTrix plans to build a 30,000-square-foot “extreme recreation” center called Next Levl on the site shown here in yellow near the corner of Alabama 119 and U.S. 280. Map provided by city of Hoover. Left: Here’s an example of an American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course from another CircusTrix facility. Photo courtesy of CircusTrix.

Zoning approved for Next Levl extreme recreation center By JON ANDERSON The Hoover City Council has given conditional zoning approval for a new “extreme recreation” center called Next Levl, which will be in the Tattersall Park development off Alabama 119 near U.S. 280. The Next Levl facility will replace the AirWalk indoor trampoline park just down U.S. 280 in The Village at Lee Branch shopping center, according to CircusTrix, a national company that owns the AirWalk and Next Levl businesses. The new facility will be 30,000 square feet,

roughly twice the size of AirWalk, and will contain more “extreme recreation” options than the existing facility, said James Bell, the project manager for the new facility. In addition to trampolines, Next Levl will contain rock climbing walls, foam pits, an American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course, a flying trapeze, aerial silks and slacklines, Bell said. There also will be special programs such as fitness classes, family nights, kid jumps, club nights for teenagers and college nights. There is a growing demand for indoor recreational activities that allow kids and adults alike

to get up from watching TV and do something active, Bell said. Construction is just beginning on the Next Levl facility, and company officials hope to have it built and ready to open in May, spokesman Marcus Hardy said. The building will be located behind the La-Z-Boy store and next to a recently approved Blue Rain Express Car Wash. It will have 118 parking spaces, Bell said. Mary Sue Ludwig, a representative for the Greystone Homeowners Association Board of Directors, said her group is not happy with the way pieces of Tattersall Park are being sold piecemeal without a master plan, but they have

met with CircusTrix officials and believe it will be a quality facility. Visit for more information about the company. Another extreme recreation facility called High Point Climbing and Fitness opened in mid-December at 4766 U.S. 280 in the former Next Total Fitness location in Inverness between Inverness Plaza and the Goo-Goo Express Car Wash. That facility has 32,000 square feet of floor space, including 25,000 square feet of climbing areas, and has fitness facilities for yoga and aerobics.

A10 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Ross Bridge residents pleased about pending Publix deal By JON ANDERSON Ross Bridge residents have been wishing for a grocery store in their community for years, and now many are happy to see a Publix proposed nearby. “I’m excited about it,” said Bridget Roop, who moved to The Hamptons at Ross Bridge from downtown Birmingham about three years ago. Right now, the closest full-service grocery store to Roop is seven miles away, and it can be a 25-minute round trip, she said. “We need something that we can get to that’s five minutes away,” Roop said. A developer working with Publix is hoping to oblige. M.A.B. American Management has a contract to buy 16 acres from U.S. Steel at the corner of Lakeshore Parkway and Shannon-Wenonah Road, which leads to Ross Bridge Parkway. The principal developer, John Argo, is working with Publix to put a 45,600-square-foot grocery store and at least 22,400 square feet of other retail space there. There should be 10-12 spaces for other businesses on the property next to Publix, Argo said. “I think it’s going to be super convenient for people who work downtown [in Birmingham],” Roop said. “I’m not going to quit shopping at Target, but it’ll just be nice to have another option.” Gina Wittig, who lives in the Haddon sector of Ross Bridge, closer to Alabama 150, said the grocery proposed in Birmingham would only be a couple of miles closer to her than the Publix in Trace Crossings. She

This site plan shows the proposed layout for the Publix grocery store and other retail property at the corner of Lakeshore Parkway and Shannon-Wenonah Road in Birmingham. Site plan provided by Birmingham Councilman Jay Roberson.

would love to see a smaller grocery store right in the middle of the Ross Bridge, but she’s still happy to hear about the Publix proposed off Lakeshore Parkway, she said. “A lot of people in here are really excited about it,” Wittig said.

Lake Cyrus resident Heather Smith said she’d rather see the new Publix in the Hoover city limits so Hoover could get the tax revenue instead of Birmingham, but one nearby in Birmingham is better than none.

Birmingham Councilman Jay Roberson, whose district covers that part of Birmingham, said he’s happy to see this development. That part of Birmingham is a “food desert” because of the lack of grocery offerings, and it should also benefit

Hoover, Bessemer, Homewood and unincorporated areas nearby, Roberson said. “This is a great amenity for people and families in this region,” he said. Birmingham officials have offered tax incentives to make the project happen. The deal includes up to $3.3 million of tax rebates over the first seven years of operation of the store, Roberson said. That includes the lesser of $500,000 a year or 50 percent of tax revenues generated by the store for the first five years and the lesser of $400,000 a year or 40 percent of sales tax revenues for years six and seven, he said. The Publix store is expected to generate $1.2 million a year in sales tax revenues for the city of Birmingham, Roberson said. It also should generate $9.1 million for the city of Birmingham in the form of building permit fees and annual property taxes, so it should be a big revenue generator for Birmingham, he said. The project is an $18 million capital investment, including a $2.7 million land purchase, Roberson said. Though Publix had not signed a lease agreement as of press time, the company’s real estate committee has given its approval, Argo said. Brenda Reid, Publix’s media and community relations manager for Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, said the company does not comment about or confirm potential store locations until a lease is signed. Argo said it likely will take about two years to get all the proper approvals and get the store built and opened.

February 2017 • A11


Preview of

Hoover chamber honors top volunteers for 2016

The Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 volunteers of the year were, from left, Member of the Year Andy Graffeo, Board Member of the Year Ira Levine and Ambassador of the Year Lynn Ray. Photos by Jon Anderson.

By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 19 honored its top volunteers for 2016. Andy Graffeo, a tax and financial advisor with Graffeo Financial Services and Reliance Financial Group, was named the chamber’s Member of the Year, while commercial real estate agent Ira Levine of Levine & Associates was chosen as the chamber’s 2016 Board Member of the Year. Additionally, Lynn Ray, president of Business Telephones Inc., was honored as the chamber’s Ambassador of the Year. All were presented their awards in front of about 190 people at the chamber’s monthly

luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel. Graffeo, the Member of the Year, has been involved as a chamber ambassador since joining the chamber and got involved with the chamber’s golf committee immediately, chamber Executive Director Bill Powell said. He heads up recruitment of golf tournament sponsors and raffle prizes, Powell said. Levine, the Board Member of the Year, has been active in the chamber for more than 25 years and served on the board of directors for almost 10 years, Powell said. He attends 94 percent of the chamber’s networking events, such as luncheons, Coffee and Contacts get-togethers and Business After Hours gatherings, Powell said.

This is Ray’s second time in a row to win Ambassador of the Year for the Hoover chamber, and she has been Ambassador of the Year for the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce for three years in a row, Powell said. Ambassadors receive points for things such as attending chamber events, volunteering at events and recruiting new members, and she had more points than anyone, he said. She has been active in the chamber since 2007 and served on the ambassador committee since 2013. Also at the January luncheon, Hoover Council President Pro Tempore John Greene installed the chamber’s new officers and board members for 2017, including new chamber President Jerome Morgan Jr.


Luncheon Hoover fire Chief Chuck Wingate and police Chief Nick Derzis are scheduled to present the 2016 public safety awards at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce’s February luncheon. Due to scheduling conflicts at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel, the Feb. 16 luncheon will be at the chamber’s former meeting location, the Hoover Country Club, at 3140 Club Drive. Wingate will present the winners of the 2016 Firefighter of the Year and Paramedic of the Year awards, while Derzis will honor the Police Officer of the Year, 911 Operator of the Year and Detention Officer of the Year. Committees within the two departments select the winners. Networking for the event begins at 11:15 a.m., and the luncheon starts at noon. To make reservations, go to luncheon/reservations, call the chamber at 988-5672 or email the chamber office at The deadline to make reservations is Feb. 13. The cost is $20 for chamber members and $25 for non-members and members who show up without reservations. Payment can be made by cash, check or major credit cards. Cancellations are accepted until the morning of the luncheon.

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Hoover Sun

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February 2017 • A13

Now Open Post of Birmingham is now 1 Soccer open at 5291 Valleydale Road, Suite 137. The store offers a wide variety of items for soccer players including footwear, equipment, accessories, team jerseys and more. 783-5556, Dixie Tan Spa is now open in the Village at Lee Branch, 1401 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 110. They offer sunless tans and are the only Evolv-certified tanning spa in the Birmingham area. 582-8268,


Shannon Trotter State Farm Insurance Agency is now open at 3075 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite M. 663-4466,


Nothing Bundt Cakes is now open at 3780 Riverchase Village, Suite 600. 538-7602,


Jackson Hewitt Tax Service is now open at 3049 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 108. 564-3092,


Coming Soon

Taylor Burton of Taylor Burton Construction, 3239 Lorna Road, Suite 108, was named as a state representative for Alabama to the National Association of Home Builders. 822-7936, 10

Hirings and Promotions Mike White has been named the general manager of the Riverchase Galleria, located at 3000 Riverchase Galleria. White brings a background of shopping center development to his new post. 985-3020, 11

Mutual Savings Credit Union, 2040 Valleydale Road, has hired Kendall Speed as its new CEO. Speed has been with the company for more than 15 years, serving most recently as CFO and executive vice president. 682-1100, 12

Keller Williams Real Estate, 1 Chase Corporate Drive, Suite 150, has hired David Henderson and Rachel Garrett as new Realtors. 822-2272, 13

All American Outdoors will open in the coming months at 1901B Hoover Court, in the former Tidmore Flags location. The store will offer a wide range of items for outdoor enthusiasts, including firearms, fishing equipment and recreational accessories. 545-5990


Moss Rock Tacos & Tequila will open soon at 616 Preserve Parkway, in the space formerly occupied by The Boot at the Preserve.


News and Accomplishments PrimeTime 24 Hour Fitness has announced a merger with a local fitness franchise, Fit24 Hoover. 403-7961,


Sushi Village 280, 601 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 101, is now offering online ordering via their website. 968-1588,


Anniversaries Indian Springs Pediatric Dentistry, 6496 Quail Run Drive, is celebrating its third anniversary this month. 739-7773, 14

Closings 15

Steak ’n Shake has closed at 180 Inverness Plaza.


El Gringo Mexican Restaurant, 748 Shades Mountain Plaza, has closed.

Business news

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A14 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Bella’s moving to new site not far from current Patton Creek storefronts By RACHEL BURCHFIELD Carol Riney, owner of Bella’s Bridal and Formal, has had to master the art of being in two places at once. Bella’s currently has two separate stores in the Patton Creek Shopping Center — one for its bridal division and one for its prom and pageant division. Come April, both stores will merge into one only about one mile away from the two stores’ current locations. “Inside the [new] store they will be separate departments, but it will be under one roof,” Riney said. “I won’t have to be in two places at once. It will make managing the employees better, and the customer experience will be better.” In addition to the new location, Bella’s will upgrade the bridal experience, including adding additional seamstresses at the store and three alterations specialists. “We plan to offer the ultimate bridal experience where they have their own fitting room and dressing area with their bridal party, bridal suites, more room to display dresses, a separate bridesmaids’ section to host bridesmaids and guests and also a separate alterations area,” Riney said. The new store will also offer Riney and her staff the opportunity to see more brides at one time because of the expanded space. “A lot of times now we are booked on the weekends,” she said. “We are

We are very customer oriented, and we love our customers. They come in as clients and leave as our friends.


excited about being able to accommodate brides from out of state more easily.” In addition to a luxury bridal experience, Bella’s will continue to offer its prom and pageant division, which has received acclaim as the top Sherri Hill prom store in Alabama. “She is the No. 1 prom designer,” Riney said. “We have the largest selection [in the state].” Bella’s also dressed Miss Alabama this past year, as well as Miss Alabama Teen USA. Riney said it was time to move when the team at Bella’s decided it needed more space. “We were out of room,” she said. “We also wanted to add private bridal suites to make the experience better for the brides, and we added more room and a runway in

Consultant Victoria Nordness tries on a gown during some down time with fellow consultant Kendal Overton and owner Carol Riney. Bella’s will be moving to a new location which will offer a larger space for brides as well as merge the prom and pagaent departments under the same roof. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

the prom and pageant department.” Bella’s began in Homewood in 2004 as Estilo Latino, Spanish for “Latin style.” They specialized in quinceaneras, or the traditional sweet 15 celebration. They did some weddings, Riney said, but mostly events catered to the Hispanic community. The store then moved to Pelham and changed its name to Bella’s, which means beautiful in both Spanish and Italian, Riney said. Their customer base began asking for wedding gowns and prom dresses,

and in 2010 Riney moved the stores to Patton Creek and became a premier destination for both bridal and prom needs. “We are very customer oriented, and we love our customers,” Riney said. “They come in as clients and leave as our friends. We are all about our customers and their special day. We believe this is the most self-expressive garment that they will ever wear, and we want them to find the perfect dress and feel beautiful but still have it match their personality.

Customer service is No. 1 to us — I have the best staff, and we are very committed to helping girls find the right dress.” Riney said the new store will be beautiful and grand and will continue to offer the best designers at great prices. “We are really excited about the new store,” she said. The only possible hangup? Nothing Bundt Cakes is two doors down from the new location, Riney said. “I might need to join a gym,” she said.

February 2017 • A15

A passport for your taste buds

‘Around-the-world’ cafe moves to Riverchase By SYDNEY CROMWELL

Teresa White and Craig Casiday pose inside their new Customs Cafe location in Riverchase. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

Coffee-ol-ogy established itself at the Hoover Public Library with an original concept: a menu based on a different culture’s cuisine each month. So when the cafe outgrew its space, co-owners Teresa White and Craig Casiday decided they wanted to stay close to the loyal following they had built. “It was a step forward that we were happy to make,” White said. The cafe, now restyled as Customs Cafe, relocated to a Riverchase storefront at 1845 Montgomery Highway in November. The pair did most of the remodeling work themselves, and White said she was pleased with how the finished design — including clocks set to different time zones and airplane food carts near the entrance — match the international vibe they were looking for. “The travel theme — it was better than I could have imagined,” White said. Their new space near Hobby Lobby has both better visibility and more space than their library location. Casiday, who handles the menu, said the kitchen in Customs Cafe’s new storefront is as big as the entire Coffee-ol-ogy cafe. Managing a larger kitchen with more equipment and moving parts has its challenges, but Casiday said it also gives him the opportunity to add more variety to the menu. The rotation of cuisines each month — including Polish, Moroccan, Creole and more — is still the same, but some favorite dishes have been shifted to Customs Cafe’s daily menu to stick around for longer than a month at a time. Casiday said this includes about four entrees that will change periodically, some sandwiches, appetizers and desserts. Casiday said it will be possible, no matter the featured cuisine of the month, to come in and have variety such as a German appetizer, a French entrée and a Cuban dessert. “It covers more of what we do. It’s not as separate as it used to be,” Casiday said. “You can kind of eat from around the world in one sitting.”

The meals moving to the daily menu will be replaced with new foods in their featured months’ menus. Casiday said these new meals will be introduced each month — German food in February, Creole in March, Swedish in April and so forth. He said he believes the changing menus keep a sense of momentum and excitement in the cafe. “You don’t have to get bored with them.” For each month’s new menu, Casiday said, they also hope to bring more cultural elements into Customs Cafe. This includes the music and language of each featured region, as well as presentations from local groups with international connections. Casiday said he would like to create a dinner club where customers can learn to make a dish, discuss its history and cultural significance and sit down and enjoy a meal together. White and Casiday held monthly educational programs at the library, and with their new space “we’re just hoping to broaden that,” Casiday said. White said with the move, they also have discussed the possibility of swapping one of their current menus with a new country’s cuisine. They regularly have customers try to convince them to add cuisine such as Thai, South American and Central American foods to the rotation. “Two to three times a month, someone makes a suggestion,” White said. “It’s delightful. And we let them present their case.” However, White said they may not change their lineup because each month is already popular with regulars. In fact, when they began the global cuisine idea about six years ago, White said there were about 30 different countries represented, and the most popular became the current rotation. “The cuisines themselves have a following, so it would be hard to choose which one to let go,” Casiday said. Customs Cafe is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For more information, call 987-0176 or go to

A16 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Spain Park grads open new café at Hoover library By JON ANDERSON Anna Bates Brown and Amber Glenn Tolbert grew up less than a mile from each other in Hoover and, as they went through elementary, middle and high school together, always said it would be fun to open a coffee shop together one day. That day finally came. In October 2013, the 2007 Spain Park High School graduates launched a “pop-up” coffee shop with no kitchen in Birmingham’s East Lake community, with the help of the REV Birmingham economic development group. They followed that in March 2015 with a fullblown cafe and gift shop called East 59 Vintage & Café. And now, nearly two years later, the 28-yearolds have opened a second location, at the Hoover Library Plaza. The original vendor in the library — Coffee-ol-ogy — rebranded itself as Customs Café and then moved out of the library last year and opened at The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center in November. Brown and Tolbert said their first location of East 59 in East Lake is doing well, and they were intrigued when they got a letter in the mail saying the Hoover library was entertaining proposals to take over the café spot in the Library Plaza. “We dream big,” and it just felt right, Brown said. “This is where we came from. We’re products of Hoover City Schools and grew up in Hoover.” They originally were slated to open the café in the library this past fall, but they ran into delays when they discovered Jefferson County health regulations had changed, requiring them to install a new hood ventilation system. So a Nov. 3 grand opening party turned into a preview event, and the women and the staff they hired spent the past two months handing out free coffee and drink samples to whet people’s

Above: Creamy chicken and wild rice soup complements “The 59” sandwich, which includes turkey, ham, havarti cheese, cranberry relish and French’s fried onions. Left: Amber Glenn Tolbert, at left, and Anna Bates Brown are the co-owners and managers of the new East 59 Vintage & Café in the Hoover Library Plaza. Photos by Jon Anderson.

appetites. The official opening came Jan. 3. “It feels amazing,” Brown said. “Our staff are energized just by interacting with the community. They’re all excited to come to work.” The menu is essentially the same as in East Lake — sandwiches, salads, a daily soup and beverages, including regular coffee, specialty coffee drinks, teas and soft drinks. They also offer English muffins, croissants and wraps as breakfast sandwiches until 11 a.m. and plan to start offering pastries and desserts, due to customer requests. One of their specialties is a chef salad, which Brown said is huge and filled with ham, turkey and cheeses. Their cranberry pecan salad with baked chicken also is popular, Brown said. Customers also appreciate their 6-inch quiches, with the crust all the way around instead of having a slice, she said.

All of their coffee comes from Counter Culture Coffee, which Brown said is served by six of USA Today’s top 10 independent coffee shops in the country. “It’s high-quality stuff,” she said. Brown and Tolbert went through Greystone Elementary, Berry Middle and Spain Park High School together, and their families were extremely close. Brown went to Auburn University, while Tolbert chose Samford University. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, while Tolbert majored in foreign languages. Tolbert ended up working as a church planter, while Brown worked for a community development nonprofit before they decided to launch the cafe and gift shop in East Lake. Now, Tolbert is going back to school to get

her master’s degree in business administration. And both women have newborns. Brown’s baby is 4 months old, and Tolbert’s baby is 6 months old. Life is challenging, but the positives outweigh the negatives, and they have a lot of family support, they said. Tolbert’s husband, Stephen, handles a lot of the gift shop duties in East Lake and fills in wherever he’s needed. The women say they’ll split their time between the two locations, and they have an assistant manager at each spot. They’re enjoying their time in Hoover so far and are amazed at how many people come to the library for different reasons, Tolbert said. “It’s so much more than books,” she said. For more information about East 59 Vintage & Café, go to

February 2017 • A17

Owners of Vecchia to open new restaurant in Boot location By SYDNEY CROMWELL Benard and Brianna Tamburello used to joke that if their Moss Rock restaurant neighbors, The Boot at the Preserve, ever left, they wanted to buy that space for Vecchia Pizzeria and Mercato. So when The Boot relocated to The Grove shopping center, the Tamburellos didn’t hesitate. “We saw an opportunity, and God led us in the right direction,” Brianna Tamburello said. But instead of expanding their Naples-inspired, brick-oven pizza restaurant, the Tamburellos are creating something new: Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila. Their new concept will feature some familiar ideas from The Boot, including a bar and live music, but with a new restaurant and new ideas. “We want to continue the tradition of a great neighborhood anchor restaurant here,” Brianna Tamburello said. “I think it’s going to bring a fun element to the neighborhood.” Like with Vecchia, the Tamburellos are going to start with a limited menu before expanding it. “Start small; get it perfect,” Brianna Tamburello said. There will be traditional tacos like pork with chipotle sauce — a particular favorite for Brianna Tamburello — and carne asada, as well as salsas and guacamole, but Benard Tamburello is ready to try some creative options with the tacos. His ideas for the eventual full menu include Buffalo wings, soft-shell crab, oysters, cheeseburgers, Southern BBQ and Reuben sandwiches in taco form. “It’s really going to be a surprise … We really kept the menu close to our hearts just while we fine-tune it,” Brianna Tamburello said. “I’m interested to see his [Benard Tamburello’s] creativity in a totally different something outside his comfort zone. I think it’s challenging as a chef for him, and we’re super excited to see how it ends up.” Benard Tamburello said that while his background is in Italian cooking, there’s a surprising amount of similarity with Hispanic foods. Trade a brick oven for a fire pit and “take basil out and add cilantro,” and the two cuisines begin to overlap. “It’s basically the same techniques, just a slightly different flavor,” Benard Tamburello said. Brianna Tamburello said individual tacos will be between $2 and $5, with a sushi bar-style menu that offers more flexibility in ordering. Behind the bar, there will be a wide selection of tequilas from the Jalisco region of Mexico, where the tequila originated, as well as margaritas and other mixed drinks.

Brianna and Benard Tamburello are opening Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila next door to their current restaurant, Vecchia Pizzeria & Mercato, in Moss Rock Preserve. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

Eventually, they also want to add Saturday and Sunday brunch. Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila will look significantly different from its predecessor. Brianna Tamburello said they moved the entrance and roughly tripled the size of the bar, as well as adding covered outdoor seating. The decor features reclaimed wood from a distillery in Kentucky, “rescued” tiles from the now-closed Carraway Methodist Medical Center downtown and tables from the U.S. Steel plant in Fairfield. “We really wanted it to feel like a brand-new restaurant when you came in,” Brianna Tamburello said. There also will be murals from Hoover art students inside

and a professional artist outside, and Benard Tamburello said he plans to turn the restaurant fireplace into a Dia de los Muertos-style altar for his father and other family members and friends who were “inspirational in getting to this point.” The Tamburellos are shooting for an opening in late February or early March for Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila, and Benard Tamburello said he is hoping to see “a line out the door and a vision coming to life.” They plan to have multiple soft opening events to get the staff ready for a full opening. “I think it’s going to add a cool little element here just to balance what we have at Vecchia, and I think the neighborhood is hungry for something new,” Brianna Tamburello said.

A18 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Inverness woman takes toffee talents to next level Left: Lynn Woolf describes her toffee as hard in texture but smooth and decadent in taste. While most toffee tends to stick to teeth, Over the Top Toffee offers a more enjoyable experience, she said. Photo by Sarah Cook.

By SARAH COOK Over the Top Toffee has only been in business for a few months, but its secret recipe has been brewing for decades. Lynn Woolf, an Inverness resident and owner of the budding cottage business, first entertained the idea of taking her family’s heirloom candy recipe to the next level about 15 years ago. “We have a [toffee] recipe in our family, and my mom made it, but I never ate it because I didn’t think I was much of a toffee person,” Woolf said. After Woolf’s sister encouraged her to give the sweet another try, however, her mind was delightfully changed. “I took one bite, and my reaction was the same as what I’ve gotten from so many people since I’ve started making toffee — joy,” Woolf said. Now, Woolf said she can’t make the sweet stuff fast enough. Many nights, she said, have been spent making pounds of toffee for eager customers from her home kitchen. Her business officially took off this past holiday season after she decided to take the plunge and make toffee fulltime. “It’s such a great product that I always knew I wanted to elevate it and go into some kind of business with it,” she said. “I just never had the time before. I was in corporate America, and I was slammed. It all came down to timing.” The toffee’s first debut, Woolf said, was at the Inverness Country Club. “I had no clue what to anticipate the night before,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure I had a lot of product.” Since that first sale, Woolf estimated she’s made about $3,000 worth of toffee — toting around the candy in her car and selling to friends and anyone else who knows about the candy. Most of her business, she said, has been generated by word of mouth. Woolf recalled consecutive nights spent hovering over the stove, making pound after pound of toffee.

Below: Over the Top Toffee currently offers four flavors: peanut butter swirl, Southern pecan, white macadamia and peppermint. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

“I was literally standing there, exhausted, doing this out of the sheer love of making toffee,” she said with a laugh. Woolf credits her candy’s popularity to its intentionality. While most commercially-made toffee abides by a streamlined process, Woolf waits for exactly the right moment to let the toffee mixture set, then she sprinkles the mixture with a cocktail of toppings such as peanut butter, pecans, peppermint or white chocolate. Toffee is made, Woolf explained, by combining “a lot of sugar and a lot of butter.” “That’s really what it boils down to,” she said. Woolf offers four core flavors — peanut butter swirl, Southern pecan, white macadamia and peppermint — and she said she’s

played around with the idea of experimenting with new ingredients and toppings. “I knew this was a great product and I knew it had great flavor and unbelievable potential, but I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface yet as far as what this toffee could end up doing,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting to think about.” As far as what lies ahead for Over the Top Toffee, Woolf said it’s hard to say — but she definitely doesn’t expect orders to slow down anytime soon. “One of my good friends said she has to hide it from her husband because it’s that good,” Woolf said with a smile. “I guess that’s a sign that I’m doing something right.” Find Over the Top Toffee on Facebook or at

February 2017 • A19



Bluff Park church seeks to help in its own backyard By JON ANDERSON Bluff Park United Methodist Church for many years has sent people on international mission trips and hurricane and tornado relief efforts. The church has worked on Habitat for Humanity projects in Birmingham and regularly sends teams to feed the homeless in downtown Birmingham. But for over a year, church members have made a more concerted effort to figure out ways to be a blessing to their more immediate community, senior pastor Mike Holly said. The church has a food pantry that each month serves about 260 households that need assistance, but only about 13 of those households are in the same zip code — 35226 — as the church, Holly said. The church wants to do more to minister to needs in their own backyard, he said. “We should do something to make Bluff Park a better place,” Holly said. So the church in October launched a new ministry and website where people in the 35226 zip code can go to get help or to give help to others in their community. It’s called Loving the 35226.

People who need help or want to help others nearby can go to and hopefully find what they need, Holly said. One of the more practical ministries mentioned there are the “35226 rooms” that the church has partnered with nearby schools to establish in their buildings this past school year. The church has stocked the rooms with school supplies, clothing, toiletries and food for times when teachers, counselors or other faculty spot students who are in need, such as a student wearing the same clothes all the time or carrying a moldy backpack. Bart Styes, the director of student ministries at Bluff Park United Methodist, said church members have long been involved in helping students and their families on an as-needed basis. But several church members felt a calling to be more proactive, he said. At the same time, Simmons Middle School had been assisting struggling families each winter holiday season and this past year decided to provide help on a more routine basis, Principal Brian Cain said. Ben Cathers, a student leader in the Bluff Park United Methodist church youth group last year who now is a freshman at Auburn

Youth from Bluff Park United Methodist Church shop for clothing, school supplies, toiletries and food to put in the 35226 rooms at Simmons Middle School and Bluff Park and Gwin elementary schools. Photo courtesy of Bluff Park United Methodist Church.

University, worked with Simmons Middle School Assistant Principal Kevin Erwin to set up a room at the school where they could stock items and already have them ready for students as needs arise so there would be no delay in meeting the need, Styes said. The church got a $2,000 grant from a nonprofit called Beav’s Place, and the youth went shopping to buy the supplies, clothing and food items to get the room started this past summer, Styes said. Similar rooms were set up at Bluff Park and Gwin elementary schools, he said. The church now routinely collects donations, and the students sort and label the items before taking them to the schools, he said. Several school staff and students have donated time

and resources, too, Cain said. The church wants to set up similar rooms at Shades Mountain and Green Valley elementary schools and is trying to find coordinators for each school, he said. Cathers said he got involved because he’s a big believer in service to God and it’s just not acceptable for kids to not have a winter coat to stay warm. The Loving the 35226 ministry also includes the church food pantry, an outreach ministry to military veterans and links to counseling services. The website also provides a place where people can write down prayer requests. The church gets two to three prayer requests through the website each week, Holly said.

A20 • February 2017 Robert Berhle and his daughter Zoe are pictured outside of Mark's Outdoors in Vestavia, one of the sponsors for Berhle's fishing tournament. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

Hoover Sun




luff Park resident Robert Behrle hates cancer — childhood cancer in particular. Behrle is also what he calls a doer. For the past three years, Behrle has organized the annual Bass Fishermen Against Childhood Cancer tournament, which this year raised $3,200 to go toward the medical bills of a Hoover teenager with stage three Hodgkins’ lymphoma. “Children are our future and are so innocent,” Behrle said. “They can only play the cards they are dealt. I am blessed with five healthy children of my own. I love children. I have a soft heart — I hate cancer, and I want to help

Professional fisherman Behrle uses platform of bass fishing to raise money for childhood cancer the children and their family pay their bills and do whatever I can.” Behrle calls it his mission. “Helping childhood cancer research or helping a family going through hell — it’s my mission, I guess,” he said. “I love children. Everyone hates cancer and feels bad when a child has cancer, but says ‘OK, it’s not happening to me, too bad for them.’ I can make a difference, and I try to make a difference.” In addition to his work as an excavator and owner of All-South Excavating, Behrle is a professional fisherman. In a tournament at Lake Guntersville, he gave $5,000 of his $35,000 winnings to help pay for the medical bills of an acquaintance. “Fishing professionally doesn’t need to be all about me — I need to have a purpose,” Behrle said. “It’s not all about me, me, me.” Behrle created his own tournament three years ago. His first recipient was a boy in Knoxville suffering from neuroblastoma. Last year, he gave the proceeds to a little girl from Iowa, where Behrle is originally from. This year, he found his recipient locally — his daughter goes to school with the recipient’s sister. The tournament was Nov. 5 at Lay Lake and hosted 37 boats from daylight until 3 p.m. “This is our third annual tournament, and we get a little bit bigger every year,” Behrle said. “I eventually want to help two, three or four children and help as many families as I can. I’m doing it every year until I can’t walk.” In addition to the boats each paying a $100 entry fee, Behrle raised money with help from sponsors such as Airport Marine, Cahaba Tractor in Pelham, Mark’s Outdoors, Motivated Movers, Rick Hendrick Chevrolet in Hoover, Southern Offroad, Thompson Tractor, Truck Works of Birmingham, Veteran’s Oil of Bessemer and his own

February 2017 • A21 company, All-South Excavating. “There’s a lot of good people in the world,” Behrle said. “I mainly asked vendors or people I do business with. Some of them are bigger companies, and some aren’t. You’d be surprised how many people want to help. Because there’s a lot of good fishermen that care as I do. I tried to include that, using the platform of fishing professionally to bring awareness.” If Behrle’s wildest dreams came true, he said he would obtain a corporate sponsor from Birmingham to sponsor him to fish professionally, so he could spend more time raising money for children with cancer. “It makes me want to cry when I see a child with cancer,” he said. “A lot of diseases aren’t deadly, but cancer is. I like my job, but it would be nice to have a Birmingham-based sponsor to help promote [the tournament] and make it go bigger and bigger.” The ever-humble Behrle — who said he is “better than average” when asked if he was a good fisherman — only fished in his first bass fishing tournament when he was 40. That was 16 years ago, and he has fished professionally at the top level for three years. A former men’s fast-pitch softball player, Behrle was involved in a car accident in 1999 that forced his retirement. “I had to quit playing,” he said. “I couldn’t run anymore. I said when I got old, I would start bass fishing. My life is fishing, faith, family and work — but not in that order.” Behrle wears a Bible verse — Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” — on his fisherman’s jersey. Soon, it will be emblazoned on his boat. He said he doesn’t know why someone wouldn’t want to give back, because he feels compelled to. “I wish I could have given her $10,000,” he said.

Deer Valley second grader publishes first book By SYDNEY CROMWELL Publishing a book was easy for Lake Cyrus resident and Deer Valley second-grader Nia Mya Reese. The hard part? Signing all the copies. “I had to get her a stamp. So we shortened it, because she was over it after the first week or so,” said her mother, Cherinita Reese. Nia Mya’s illustrated book, “How to Deal with and Care for Your Annoying Little Brother,” was published in December. But it started as a writing assignment in first grade teacher Beth Hankins’ class last year. Hankins asked her students to write about their area of expertise, and “I said I’m an expert on taking care of my annoying little brother,” Nia Mya said. Cherinita Reese said she was “so tickled” to read her daughter’s take on her relationship with her younger brother, Ronald Michael Reese. Over the summer, Cherinita Reese asked Nia Mya to read and edit her story to keep her busy and help her develop her writing talents. Then the idea struck to turn the story into a published book, and a publisher, Yorkshire Publishing, loved their first manuscript. As the Reeses worked with their publisher to make Nia Mya’s first book, Cherinita Reese said it was important to keep her daughter’s personality infused in the book. “It needs to be vibrant; it needs to be colorful because she’s a colorful child,” Cherinita Reese said. The end result, Hankins said, achieves that goal. “It sounds just like you. And that’s how you know a really good author,” Hankins told Nia Mya. “When you brought the book to me, my thought was, ‘Oh, my goodness, so many children will get to read what you wrote.’” Nia Mya also got help from her cousin Faith Martin, an 11th grade student at Minor High School. While babysitting Nia Mya and her brother over the summer, Martin was able to put her artistic talents to work in illustrating the book. Martin said it took about a week to make the sketches, which were adapted by the publishing company for the final book, and they include little real-life details from the Reeses’ home. “Being with them every day made it easy,”

Martin said. The book includes Nia Mya’s thoughts on how to be a big sister, including having fun with her brother, teaching him, being kind and – sometimes – being firm when he won’t listen to her. Cherin- Nia Mya Reese ita Reese said she has heard from parents already about how her daughter’s book has been helpful to them even if they aren’t dealing with an annoying little brother. “When you write a book about helping people, even though you’re writing about one thing, you actually help a lot of people with just some of the principles you talk about,” Cherinita Reese said to her daughter. “I’ve got a lot of people telling me you are helping them.” Cherinita Reese said her daughter is still getting used to the attention she gets as an author, including signing books and talking about her experience as a writer. On Jan. 13, Nia Mya spoke to a group of her Deer Valley classmates about the book. “If you feel a little nervous, you just say, ‘I’m still brave,’” Cherinita Reese told her daughter before her presentation at the school. In addition to writing, Nia Mya said she loves reading, gymnastics and pizza. Cherinita Reese said it’s “really surreal” to have her second-grade daughter be a published author, but she’ll have to get used to the feeling. Nia Mya already has plans to write a second book about bullies. “I like being an author,” she said. “How to Deal with and Care for Your Annoying Brother” can be bought on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s online store. “When I was in school you were told what to write about. Had I given the assignment and told her what to write about, this may have never come about,” Hankins said. “I was just lucky enough to be in the room and pull some of it out.”

A22 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Community Top left: Georgia Haynie’s mom sees her as a “heart warrior,” having had heart surgery at such a young age. Bottom left: Beaux Waites was recently cleared to only receive heart checkups once a year. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Fisher Photography.

AHA marks Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week with survivors’ stories GEORGIA HAYNIE

Hoover residents Beaux and Taylor Haynie had been high school sweethearts, together for 17 years. They waited four years into their marriage to have children, only to suffer a miscarriage. So when they found out they were pregnant again, they were elated and knew this child would be special. They said they never could have anticipated just what a miracle she was. Georgia was diagnosed at 20 weeks in utero with an unbalanced atrioventricular (AV) canal defect. An AV canal defect means there is a large hole in the center of the heart affecting all four chambers where they would normally be divided. The defect allows blood to mix, and the chambers/valves cannot properly route the blood to each station of circulation within the heart. AV canal defects account for 4-5 percent of congenital heart defects and occur in three of 10,000 babies born. Despite her diagnosis, Georgia did extremely well after birth. She stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for only seven days and went home at a week old. Yet at her two-week checkup, tests showed she was in heart failure. The news was shocking to Beaux and Taylor. “They had told us we would need to follow up with a cardiologist in four to six months. We never expected to go in at two weeks old. It all happened so fast,” Taylor said. Georgia had open-heart surgery in May 2016 to repair the defect. Although she was so young, her recovery went smoothly. She’s also not expected to need further procedures, a relief to her parents. Taylor said sometimes her family forgets that Georgia was ever sick, but there is one reminder of her heart warrior’s battle. “The biggest reminder for us is her

open-heart surgery chest scar. It reminds me of how special she is. She is a heart warrior, and she is stronger and braver than I could have ever imagined,” Taylor said. Now the Haynies work to raise awareness for heart warriors like Georgia through American Heart Association events. They said it’s an important way to give back to an organization that provides so much knowledge and comfort for parents going through this emotional journey.


Shellie and Lauren Waites couldn't wait to meet their new baby boy in 2012. They knew their lives would change, but the Waites had no idea just how their baby, Beaux, and his heart would change their world forever. The Waites had done the regular prenatal tests, and doctors had no concerns. Everyone expected Beaux to be a healthy, happy baby, but just minutes after he was delivered, the Waites watched their newborn son whisked away to the NICU. They had no idea what was happening until a doctor informed them that Beaux had been diagnosed with Down syndrome, pulmonary hypertension and multiple heart defects, including an AV canal defect. Fifty percent of all babies born with Down syndrome also have an AV canal defect. Beaux would need openheart surgery before he was six months old. “Our OB even went back after finding out to double-check all the tests and scans, and still couldn’t find anything. It was definitely God’s plan to keep him a special secret to us until the time came,” Lauren Waites said. The surgery was complicated, repairing a valve and patching three holes in Beaux’s heart.

Beaux stayed in a heart block for seven days after the surgery, meaning his heart wasn’t able to beat in rhythm by itself. Just before doctors were about to put in a pacemaker, his heart started working on its own. At his most recent cardiovascular appointment, Beaux was cleared to only receive heart checkups once a year, huge news for this family. Beaux still has moderate leaking in his right valve, a mass growing in his mitral valve, and will need another heart surgery around 10 years of age. Yet, his parents are so thankful and say he is living the life that they never thought he could have.

“It’s important to advocate for awareness to give a voice to those that need it most,” Lauren Waites said. “It’s more than just raising awareness; we have to raise acceptance. For Down’s or CHD — whatever it may be that makes people different and not able to do things like most people do. We have to show the general population that these individuals are not weird or strange and that they don’t have disabilities, they just have ‘diff-abilities.’ It’s about moving past just awareness into acceptance and realizing that all lives matter and all lives are precious.” – Submitted by American Heart Association.

February 2017 • A23

The Junior League of Birmingham scholarships begin at $1,000. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham.

JLB scholarships available for local women The Junior League of Birmingham will grant several one-year college and graduate school scholarships to qualified female applicants, and residents of Hoover are encouraged to apply. The scholarships will be awarded in the minimum amount of $1,000 each. The Academic Scholarship program was originally established in the 1950s to open the doors of opportunity for teachers in the area of speech and language development, and hopefully provide future leaders for the Junior League School of Speech Correction. Through the years this program has expanded, providing scholarships to women in all areas of study, both in undergraduate and graduate studies. For 95 years, the Junior League of Birmingham’s mission has been to develop the potential of women in our community. The Junior League strives to improve the lives of women and children in our community, specifically in the areas of education and financial stability. Scholarships will be announced at the Junior League of Birmingham’s Community Circle breakfast on March 22, 2017, and will be awarded to qualified women who demonstrate a true willingness to better themselves and their community. “The Junior League of Birmingham believes that strong women lift each other up. As leaders, we are proud to invest in creating the future female leaders of our community,” said Lauren Roberts, president, Junior League of Birmingham. “As the females in our area seek an opportunity

to further their education, we are excited to support them in their endeavors. Our dream would be that wherever these women choose to pursue their degree, they will want to return to Birmingham with their newly acquired skills and education. Hopefully we are building the future of our city as we support these young women.” To be eligible for the scholarship, students must enroll as a full or part-time student in any private or public accredited two-year or four-year undergraduate or graduate college or vocational-technical school for the 2017-2018 school year. Scholarships are restricted to eligible women who fall into one of the following categories: ► Graduating high school seniors ► Currently enrolled college and graduate students ► Graduating college seniors ► Nontraditional students The completed application form and supporting documents must be submitted online at no later than Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Since 2012-2013 the Junior League of Birmingham has given out 42 scholarships, totaling $96,000 for young women attending 20 different colleges. For more information about the Junior League of Birmingham’s academic scholarships, visit or call 879-9861. – Submitted by Junior League of Birmingham.

Cub Scout Pack 326 – Hoover continues assisted living Christmas caroling tradition

Pack 326 sings at Brookdale Assisted Living. Photo courtesy of Richard DeFilippo.

Cub Scout Pack 326, chartered with Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Hoover, visited Brookdale Assisted Living Dec. 18 for a second consecutive year, starting what the Pack expects to be an annual tradition. With Christmas carol song sheets in hand, Pack 326 Scouts, family members and Brookdale residents caroled to classic songs including Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Silent Night, The Twelve Days of Christmas

and Frosty the Snowman. From as young as 2 years old to those in their 80s, all had a joyfilled afternoon; residents in particular expressing thanks to Pack 326. Among the many values Scouts are taught through example are “service to community,” “do a good deed daily” and the importance of family through direct involvement in civic activities. For more information, visit or – Submitted by Richard DeFilippo.

A24 • February 2017

Hoover Sun


Winter gala raises $10,000 for Hoover High band Linda Chastain of the Hoover Arts Alliance hugs Hoover High School Band Boosters President Beth Aho as she presents a $2,000 check to the boosters from the Hoover Arts Alliance. Photo courtesy of Donald Blair.

By JON ANDERSON The Hoover High School Band Boosters raised about $10,000 with a Winter Starlight Gala on Jan. 14 to help raise money to buy more band instruments. The event was held at Prince of Peace Catholic Church and included pop and jazz music from the Hoover High School Symphonic Winds Band, First Edition Jazz Band and marimba percussion ensemble. There also was a silent auction, coffee donated by Starbucks and desserts donated by the Shannon Trotter State Farm Insurance agency. This is the first time the band has put on this event, and they were pleased to surpass their $10,000 goal, Band Booster President Beth Aho said. The boosters were especially grateful to the Hoover Arts Alliance for a $2,000 donation and to the 40 or so businesses that donated items for the silent auction, she said. Fund raising will continue because the instruments the band needs cost more than $10,000, Aho said. In the past five years, the Hoover High band

The ninth annual Over the Mountain Festival of sacred music is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Feb. 12. Photo courtesy of Over the Mountain Festivals.

has grown from 250 members to 320 and could have as many as 375 next year as a larger class of music students move up from Bumpus and Simmons middle schools, Aho said. However, it has been difficult to keep up with the growth, Aho said. Some of the instruments, such as tubas, baritone saxophones and percussion instruments, cost thousands of dollars and historically have been purchased by the band, she said. But with so many students, the band no longer has enough instruments, she said. In the past, the principal has been able to help buy band instruments using his discretionary money, but principal discretionary funds have been cut due to limited revenue and those dollars are spread thinner over many groups, she said. Students now are sharing instruments, which is really not very sanitary and causes problems when students need to take instruments home to practice, Aho said. Donations can be sent to the Hoover High Band in care of Matthew Cicero at Hoover High School, 1000 Buccaneer Drive, Hoover, AL 35244.

Bluff Park UMC to host Over the Mountain music festival By SYDNEY CROMWELL Singing will fill the air at Bluff Park United Methodist Church on Feb. 12 as it hosts the ninth annual Over the Mountain Festival of sacred music. This year’s program is called “Holy Songs of Joy” and the repertoire of Christian songs includes “O Praise the Lord, All Ye Nations,” “Pie Jesu,” Beethoven’s “Hallelujah,” “Non Nobis Domine” and “Free at Last.” The 2017 repertoire will include 14 songs. This year’s guest clinician is Thomas R. Smith, professor emeritus of music at Auburn University who previously served as clinician in the 2013 festival. Smith received his bachelor’s degree in music from Samford University and a master’s degree in music theory from the University of Iowa, as well as a doctoral degree of musical arts in choral conducting and literature from the University

of Colorado. Smith began working at Auburn in 1972 and during his time there founded the Auburn University Singers and conducted the concert choir. He has conducted two Carnegie Hall concerts and nine European concert tours with Auburn singers, and he has received multiple awards through his career. Smith also has served as minister of music at Providence Baptist Church in Opelika for 42 years and continues to conduct the Alabama Singing Men and the East Alabama Youth Chorale. Other festival guests include accompanist Dianne Hooton Norton, soprano soloist Sadie Frazier Goodman and bass/baritone soloist Ken Thomas. The festival is at 4 p.m. at Bluff Park UMC, 733 Valley Street. Full performer biographies and the 2017 festival repertoire, as well as more information about the Over the Mountain Festival, is at

February 2017 • A25

Above left: More than 260 people attended the Hoover Service Club’s 2016 Hearts and Harmony Gala. Guests shown here are, from left, Jason and April DeLuca, Dave and Emily Naefe, Allison and David Bradley, Melanie Bradford and Abbey Clarkson. Above right: Betty and Dennis Daigle share a dance. Photos courtesy of Randall Veazey Studios.

Hearts and Harmony Gala scheduled at Carriage House By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Service Club is gearing up for its 2017 Hearts and Harmony Gala on Feb. 10 at the new Carriage House at the Park Crest Facility on Little Valley Road. The event is a fundraiser for numerous charities and scholarships for Hoover and Spain Park high school students. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for a silent auction, Chinese auction, appetizers and cash bar in the downstairs portion of the building. Then guests will go upstairs at 7:30 p.m. for a seated dinner and live auction. The dinner will include rosemary roasted

prime rib of pork over winter vegetable succotash and natural juices, a twice-baked potato, smoked Gouda, apple-smoked bacon and minted chocolate chip mousse with spiced rum caramel and candied spearmint. There also will be a vegetarian option of basil-buttered penne pasta with wilted leaf spinach, roasted sweet bell peppers and blistered sangria tomatoes. Music is by Dianne Shaw and her son, Hoover Councilman Mike Shaw. Hoover Councilman John Lyda and 2014 Mrs. Alabama America Jamie Nutter are scheduled to serve as auctioneers. Auction items will include art from local artists and galleries (including painter Daniel

Moore, sculptor Robert Taylor and Griffith Art Gallery), jewelry pieces from Steed’s Jewelers and Anthony’s Jewelers, Disney World Park Hopper passes, backyard barbecues, tailgate parties, a Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama package and Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament tickets. The 2016 gala drew more than 260 people and raised about $46,000, Chairwoman Betty Daigle said. For 2017, organizers hope to have about 300 people and raise at least $50,000, she said. The Hoover Service Club already has awarded $11,500 from last year’s event to Oak Mountain Missions, the Green Valley Baptist

Church United Way Food Bank, the Hoover Helps backpack food program for children, Focus on Recovery (a residence for women recovering from alcohol and drug addiction), Triumph Services (which serves adults with developmental disabilities) and the Hope for Autumn Foundation (which helps families of children battling cancer). The club plans to distribute another $11,500 to charities in the spring, plus $24,000 in scholarships, member Lynda Wasden said. Tickets for the gala are $125 ($60 of which is tax-deductible). To make a reservation, go to For more information, call Martha Veazey at 903-4987.

A26 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Zoe Speaks to reprise performance at Hoover Library Theatre — 14 years later By JON ANDERSON Fourteen years ago, a Kentucky mountain music trio by the name of Zoe Speaks performed at the Hoover Library Theatre. Two of the group’s members — Carla Gover and Mitch Barrett — parted ways as a couple in 2007 and divorced. But they started performing together again at the end of 2015 and are coming back to Hoover as part of the 2017 Southern Voices Festival on Feb. 22-23. And at least one of their two daughters, who was just a child when they last were on the stage in Hoover, is expected to perform with them. Zoey Raven, who is now 19, will be playing the fiddle and singing in three-part harmonies, her parents said. And perhaps they’ll be able to coax their younger daughter, 16-year-old Maizie, to sing with them as well, Gover said. “She has a really beautiful voice.” Gover and Barrett started performing together in 1995. Both of them grew up in the Appalachian Mountains, listening to and singing Appalachian music. They have a folk music sound they described as “very rootsy” and heavy on storytelling. Barrett is a great teller of traditional Appalachian stories, but he’s also good at explaining how they came up with their original songs, Gover said. “I think people connect with that,” she said. “We sort of share about who we are and where our ideas come from.” They sing a lot about life experiences and things that are important to them, Barrett said. Their songs share a lot of traditional Appalachian values, such as having connected communities and being able to take care of yourself, Gover said. “We have a passion for social justice,

tolerance, fairness and diversity,” she said. “Those things show up in our music, too.” They like to use music as a tool for social change, she said. When asked how they came up with the name Zoe Speaks, Gover noted that “Zoe” means “life” and that songwriters like to take themes that are personal and make them universal — something that applies to a lot of people. As a group, they want to represent life truths to which other people can relate, she said. Barrett plays the acoustic guitar, dulcimer and Native American flute, and Gover plays the guitar and banjo. The other primary member of the group is bass player Owen Reynolds. And when Zoey joins them, she plays fiddle. Before their divorce, Zoe Speaks traveled across the country, performing 200 dates a year from south Florida to New York and California, Barrett said. Since getting back together, most of their performances have been in Kentucky, where they have deep roots and where they work with the Kentucky Arts Council, he said. But they are beginning to branch out again and recently hooked up with a new booking agency called Kosson Talent. In mid-January, they started recording the first song for a new CD they hope to release in the fall. It will be their fourth official recording together as Zoe Speaks. They also have some solo CDs. Though they are still divorced, Gover and Barrett said they don’t find it hard to work together. They raised two daughters together and maintained contact with each other through the state arts council, Barrett said. “We’re really good friends,” Gover said. “We actually enjoy being together and making music together.” And having Zoey sing with them is icing on the cake. “We’ve raised this daughter with music all her life, and now she sings three-part

The Appalachian mountain music group Zoe Speaks is comprised of, from left, Owen Reynolds, Mitch Barrett and Carla Gover. At least one of the daughters of Barrett and Gover — Zoey Raven — plans to perform with them at the Hoover Library Theatre on Feb. 22-23. Photo courtesy of Zoe Speaks.

harmony with us,” Gover said. “It’s just a really good feeling.” Both upcoming performances at the Hoover Library Theatre were nearly sold out as press time neared. The group fondly remembers the first time

they played at the Hoover Library Theatre, Gover said. “Everybody there was so friendly, and they treated us so well,” she said. “The audience was awesome. We just had such a great experience. We’re super excited to be coming back.”

February 2017 • A27

Leather purses by Becky Stayner of the Birmingham area will be available for purchase. Photo courtesy of Becky Staynor.

Riverchase Loves Artists show prepares for 11th year By JON ANDERSON The Riverchase Women’s Club and Riverchase Country Club are gearing up for the 11th annual Riverchase Loves Artists art show. Nearly 50 artists are scheduled to come to this year’s event at the country club on Saturday, Feb. 4., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There also will be an invitation-only preview show the night before. The show will feature a variety of mediums, including oil and watercolor paintings, jewelry, metal, wood, pottery and fiber art, said Pat Imms, publicity chairwoman for the Women’s Club. The show has grown a lot in 11 years, to the point where artists have to be turned away, Imms said. “I hate that, but we only have so much room,” she said. Organizers try to make sure they have a good variety of art mediums, she said. Lynne Cooper, the founder of the show and

lead organizer, said there are some wonderful artists coming to this year’s show. “All the artists we choose for our art show — they’re very talented, and they’re a little bit unique and specialized in what they do.” Some will be first-timers at the show, and others will be returning favorites such as jewelry artists Nancy Hammond of the Birmingham area and Leigh Ann Hurst of Florence. Other artists coming include mixed media artists Rickie Higgins of Florence and Paul Ware of Homewood, Becky Stayner of the Birmingham area (who makes handmade leather purses) and Kami Watson of New Market (a fabric artist and designer who makes felted wearables and home décor). Artists pay a fee to participate in the show, and organizers request a $2 donation as admission for shoppers. The event also includes a silent auction. Proceeds from the event are used to help meet charitable needs in the Riverchase and Hoover community, Cooper said.

Volunteers working the Bargains on the Bluff consignment sale at Bluff Park United Methodist Church pray prior to the start of the 2016 spring/summer sale in February 2016. Photo courtesy of Bluff Park United Methodist Church.

Time nears for 2017 Bargains on the Bluff spring/summer consignment sale By JON ANDERSON Bluff Park United Methodist Church is preparing for its annual spring/summer Bargains on the Bluff consignment sale. This year’s sale is set for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25, in the church gym and surrounding area. The times are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, with some items discounted 25 percent on Saturday. The sale typically has more than 200 consignors and includes children’s clothing from newborn to size 20, junior girls and ladies clothing, maternity clothing, shoes, toys, baby items, books, movies and bedding items, said Melissa Hendon, the children’s ministry program coordinator at the church. There will be no men’s clothes, she said. Organizers of the sale allow only gently used items into the sale, Hendon said. “They have a very high standard of what they will take,” she said. The consignors get to keep 70 percent of

each sale, while the church receives 30 percent, evenly split between the Little Imaginations preschool and the children’s ministry, Hendon said. Last year’s fall sale and spring/summer sale together raised about $32,000 that was split between the two entities, she said. The children’s ministry in the past has used money to help pay for Vacation Bible School, its Halloween carnival, missions, school supplies for needy children, blankets for the homeless, hams for the food pantry and supplies to make items for shut-ins, Hendon said. Some of the money this year will be used to help remodel the children’s wing of the church, she said. The preschool in the past has used proceeds to help build a new playground and outdoor classroom. Now, the school is saving money to help buy furniture and supplies for a potential expansion of its space in the church, director Tracy Estes said. Consignors can sign up at, but space is limited.

A28 • February 2017

Hoover Sun





CONTINUED from page A1 But the federal approval process typically takes years, so Brocato said he’s asking city staff to look for projects the city can tackle on its own — and more quickly. The city already has one such project in the works, approved by the previous City Council in September. The city is beginning a project to widen Old Columbiana Road between Patton Chapel Road and Deo Dara Drive to make it a standard-size city street and add curbs and gutters, said Tim Westhoven, the city’s chief operations officer. That project, in front of Green Valley Elementary School, also will include connecting the sidewalk on Patton Chapel Road with the one on Deo Dara Drive that now stops at Star Lake Drive, Westhoven said. The project covers about half a mile and is costing the city $882,026. All the money is coming from the city. The previous City Council also in July approved an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to update the city’s bicycle and pedestrian master plan. The plan was last updated in 1999. Updating the plan

Clockwise, from far left: Construction should start in eight to 11 months on a 1-mile extension of the sidewalk on Chapel Road between Park Avenue and Stone Brook Parkway. The city of Hoover plans to start construction this spring on a paved trail off Old Montgomery Highway between the Cahaba River and Riverchase Elementary. Shelby County and Hoover are partnering to build a pedestrian greenway along Inverness Parkway from Valleydale Road to the Inverness nature park. Hoover plans to build another 1.4 miles of sidewalks on several streets in Bluff Park (shown in red), but right-of-way acquisition and construction could take up to two years. Maps provided by the city of Hoover.


will cost $250,000, with the federal government picking up $200,000 of that, Westhoven said. The city has been waiting on ALDOT to approve the consultant the city wants to use, but Westhoven said he hopes that plan update can begin soon. The city this past year completed a 1-mile sidewalk on Preserve Parkway between Sulphur Springs Road and the Preserve Town Center and 3,200 feet of sidewalks on Lester Lane and Cloudland Drive in Bluff Park near Bluff Park Elementary School. Another 1-mile sidewalk on Ross Bridge Parkway between Alabama 150 and Deer Valley Elementary School also was added, costing about $1 million, Westhoven said. Jordan Crouch, who lives in the Ashby Apartments at Ross Bridge, said he loves the new sidewalk addition. He runs along Ross Bridge Parkway four to five times a week, and the sidewalk makes it safer, he said. “You don’t have to dodge cars,” Crouch said. “It gets a little scary sometimes.” There are numerous other sidewalk or trail projects already in the works, with the federal government picking up 80 percent of the cost on most if not all the projects.

Here’s an update on some of those projects, according to Westhoven:



► Location: Between Park Avenue and Stone Brook Parkway ► Length: About a mile ► Cost: Estimated $800,000 ► Status: ALDOT just gave permission for the city to start acquiring 12-15 easements, which should take another five to eight months; construction should start in eight to 11 months.



► Location: Near the intersections of Monte D’Oro Drive and Monte Verde Circle ► Length: About 500 feet ► Cost: Undetermined ► Status: May be bid out in next couple of months.



► Location: Off-road trail off Old

Montgomery Highway between the Cahaba River and Riverchase Elementary ► Length: About half a mile ► Cost: $500,000 ► Status: Slight delay due to endangered bat species in the area; city hopes to start construction this spring.



► Location: Between Gwin Elementary School and Crayrich Drive ► Length: 1 mile ► Cost: Estimated $6.1 million ► Status: Part of a road widening and intersection improvement project being managed by Jefferson County; had been slated to begin in June 2015 but ran into delays; right-of-way acquisition is complete; county hopes to award a bid this spring.



► Location: New sidewalks on Valley Street, Tyler Road, Cloudland Drive, Savoy Street and Clearview Drive ► Length: 1.4 miles ► Cost: Estimated $990,000 ► Status: Right-of-way acquisition should take another year, and construction should take nine to 12 months after that.


February 2017 • A29



► Location: Between Caldwell Mill Road and Inverness Center Drive ► Length: 3.5 miles ► Cost: Estimated $13 million ► Status: Part of road widening project; right-of-way acquisition has been underway about 16 months and is about 50 percent complete.



► Location: Between U.S. 31 and Riverchase Parkway East ► Length: 0.75 miles ► Cost: Estimated $3 million ► Status: Part of road widening project; just starting right-of-way acquisition.





► Location: From Valleydale Road to Inverness nature park ► Length: 1.8 miles ► Cost: Estimated $1.3 million ► Status: Project is being managed by Shelby County, with Hoover as financial partner; plans are complete; two tracts of land left to aquire. ► Location: Between U.S. 31 and entrance to Cahaba River Estates ► Length: 2.5 miles ► Cost: Estimated $4.3 million ► Status: Federal funding had been in place for design work, but project was not priority for previous administration; Brocato wants city staff to seek federal funding for design work again.

Above: The city of Hoover in 2017 plans to widen Old Columbiana Road and connect the sidewalk on Patton Chapel Road with the one on Deo Dara Drive. Below: The city in 2016 completed a 1-mile sidewalk on Ross Bridge Parkway between Alabama 150 and Deer Valley Elementary School, costing about $1 million. Maps provided by city of Hoover.


A30 • February 2017

Hoover Sun


CONTINUED from page A1 Those are the things one would expect to hear from a star. She can, however, turn the pilot light off at a moment’s notice, transitioning into the type of teammate and friend who prompts peers to seek and enjoy her presence. If urged, Tedder is the type to walk into a local restaurant and yell, “Welcome!” because she has been convinced that doing so will net her a free sandwich. Tedder is the one of the main cogs in goofy videos the team makes and the instigator of spontaneous dancing. She’s one of the players teammates run to after a big victory, particularly in last year’s regional tournament after Spain Park clinched a spot at the state tournament. Those are not necessarily the things one would expect to hear from a star.


Tedder has played on Spain Park’s varsity team since she was in seventh grade. She has grown to be the main catalyst for the Lady Jags, playing shortstop and being the most feared presence in the middle of the lineup. She has signed to play at the University of Texas for coach Connie Clark. She holds the Spain Park record with 20 home runs in a single season, set last year. She received countless postseason accolades and should be accustomed to the attention. But when she walks into coach C.J. Hawkins’ classroom and sees a short article titled “Tedder named NFCA All-American” at the front of a standing file on Hawkins’ desk, she is not thrilled about it. “I wish I wasn’t [displayed] first,” Tedder said. When Tedder shows up for an interview, she wants to know what the topic is. When she is told she is the subject of the conversation — the subject that should be the easiest to discuss in-depth — she hesitantly continues. A series of questions about herself are met with muddied responses that display a desire to move on to a different point of discussion. But when her teammates are mentioned — specifically the senior class — her face lights up. That answer is easy. “My class has definitely been there through it all and been through a lot of different adversities through the years,” Tedder said. “We’ve learned from the past what to do and what not to do and to expect the unexpected when you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Even in a more relaxed state of mind, when the conversation comes back to her own accomplishments — whether it’s the NFCA All-American team or being named to the North-South All-Star team — she once again deflects the spotlight. “God is blessing me, and I give all the glory to Him,” she said. “I don’t like being on the front, but when it does happen, I’m just grateful. It should be about the team.”


Adults know how to guide their words to portray an image. An individual can always highlight strengths to influence perception. But a high school student’s peers typically

Above: Mary Katherine Tedder has signed to play at the University of Texas after her days at Spain Park High School are completed. Photo by Todd Lester. Left: One of teammate Caroline Parker’s favorite moments with Tedder was this embrace, after the Lady Jags clinched a state tournament berth. Photo by Kyle Parmley.

expose and define the true mark and impact of a person. “She’s one of the most fun people to be around. She could light up anyone’s day,” said Kendall Beth Sides, an Alabama signee and senior at Sumiton Christian School who is travel-ball teammates with Tedder on the Birmingham Bolts. “Every parent loves Mary Katherine because she’s so outgoing, and she’s honestly the one who will break out and dance in front of anyone.” Her school teammates feel the same way. “She’s one of the best teammates we have, and she’s always positive,” said Caroline

Parker, one of Spain Park’s six seniors. “She’s always upbeat.” There is a tendency for the most talented players to alienate themselves from teammates because of pride that creeps in. That has not happened in Spain Park’s dugout. “It definitely helps that we’re not bitter towards her talent,” Parker said. “We want to be around her because she’s our friend. It helps that we’re all such good friends.” One of Parker’s best moments through the years with Tedder was that clinching game of last year’s regional tournament. After the obligatory postgame handshakes were completed,

Parker made a beeline for Tedder, and leapt into her waiting arms. “That’s my favorite,” Parker said. Tedder’s leadership also commands the respect of her teammates as well, because she practices what she preaches. “You just have to be consistent in your behavior and do the right thing,” Hawkins said. “If you do the right thing and your example is what you say, it all lines up.” However, there is a reason Spain Park has aspirations of returning to and winning the state tournament this season. That senior class that Tedder spoke so highly of — consisting of Parker, Jenna Olszewski, Julianna Cross, Mary Kate Teague and Hope Maddox — is bearing its fair share of the load as well. “I’ve put a lot of responsibility on those six seniors to do their part. I’m not asking Tedder to be the only person, because you can’t have one. Everybody has to do their part,” Hawkins said.


The story could stop there if Tedder was simply an average talent on the diamond. But she’s not. The field house at Spain Park sits beyond the center-field fence, where Hawkins normally parks her minivan. She learned quickly that out there, it was not safe from the bombs Tedder hits. In practice, when it’s time for Tedder to hit, three players walk to the van and stand guard. “She’ll get into a rhythm, and she’ll just launch them onto the tennis courts, hit my van, hit the indoor facility,” Hawkins said. Tedder has the pedigree. Her dad, Scott Tedder, is in the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame and had a career as a professional baseball player. She excels at multiple sports, including cross-country, indoor track and formerly basketball. She’s an athlete so naturally talented, she would likely be extremely successful at any sport she chose.





February 2017 • A31



Gift Guide B4 School House B8 Sports B13 Real Estate B21 Calendar B22

Coffee with a side of camaraderie The Kangaroo gas station on Valleydale Road has been home to a weekday morning coffee group for about 16 years. The regulars include, from left: Steve Whone, Coco Campisi, Trey Bass, Bo Coshatt, John Moose, Paul Orman, Joey Campanotta, John Pierce and Jack Hartsfield. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.


A convenience store is just a quick pit stop for most drivers on their morning commute. But every Monday through Friday morning, the Kangaroo gas station on Valleydale Road is filled with talk — and plenty of laughter — from about 10 regulars who have formed an unofficial morning coffee group. From 6 to 7 a.m., any topic is on the table: family, work, politics, news and — in particular — giving each other a hard time. Caldwell Mill area resident Bo Coshatt is called the founder of the group, as he and Chelsea resident Paul Orman and Wilsonville resident Joey Campanotta began meeting regularly at the Kangaroo about 16 years ago. “Best part of my day,” Campanotta said. Others have made the coffee group part of their routine over the years, some invited by friends and others who stopped at the Kangaroo for gas or coffee and wondered what the ruckus was about. “We all used to live around here … so we all ended up coming here,” Orman said. Not all the members of the group have been frequenting the Kangaroo for 16 years, but the group does have some longevity. Jack Hartsfield, an Oak Mountain resident, still considers himself a newcomer after about seven years. Campanotta said there’s a common cord of friendship built in that hour each weekday morning over jokes, news and a cup of coffee. Though he has to leave early to make it to the Kangaroo before work, Campanotta said the payoff is worth it. “Normally I leave and go to work in a better mood,” Campanotta said. “This is my laughter for the day.”

While they’re mostly Auburn fans and have a political stance that member John Pierce described as Republican “and hang a hard right,” their backgrounds vary. The regular coffee group includes men who work in landscape supply, general contracting, publishing, military service, heavy equipment and casket sales. There’s also Steve Whone, a Connecticut native who Pierce described as the group’s “token Yankee.” “If we want the northern opinion — or the wrong opinion — we go to him,” Pierce said. The lively conversations each morning often draw in passing Kangaroo customers or

Jefferson and Shelby county sheriff’s deputies while on shift, which Pierce said is part of the fun. Though they occupy the coffee area of the Kangaroo or the sidewalk for about an hour each day, Hartsfield said he doesn’t think the store employees mind. “We’re half their revenue for the day,” Hartsfield said. “We drop some coin here,” Pierce added. Over 16 years, Coshatt said the group has lost a few members, added some gray hairs and there’s more talk of grandchildren now. But they’re an incredibly close group of guys

and if someone doesn’t show up for a few days, Coshatt said one of the other regulars is sure to call and check up on them. Inverness resident Trey Bass said he first met the morning coffee group as a passerby who asked a question. Now they’re not only friends, but also a source of regular advice. “[It’s] an incredibly grounded group of men that bring a lot of family to me,” Bass said. True to the group’s character, Bass’ serious statement didn’t stand alone for long. “He [Bass] actually brings a lot of class to the group,” Orman joked.

B2 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

February 2017 • B3

B4 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

valentine’s day gift guide

For the

FLORAL FANATIC Teleflora’s True Lovelies bouquet $64.95 This beautiful arrangement is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Hoover Florist 1905 Hoover Court 823-5273

For the

LOOK OF LOVE OYOBox $135-$300 Mini (up to 4 frames) or maxi (up to 8 frames). Store and organize eyeware in this luxury box. Schaeffer Eye Center 1686 Montgomery Highway 979-2020

For the

DECORATOR Baccarat crystal oval eye vase $510 This vase features a wavelike design that creates a dazzling visual effect. Bromberg’s 131 Summit Boulevard 969-1776

Let us help spread the news! Email to submit your announcement.

February 2017 • B5 For the

FASHIONISTA Hammitt “Paul Pluto Gold” crossbody bag $325 This stylish bag would make the perfect gift for your favorite fashion guru. Wrapsody 161 Main St., Suite 127 989-7277

For the

GARDENER Pink hydrangea in an antique drawer $40 Give someone a beautifully arranged hydrangea to tend to and enjoy. Sweetspire Gardens 2146 Tyler Road, Suite 212 968-1391

For the

PROFESSIONAL RELAXER White Picket Scents “Girls Night Out” candle $20 Available in various scents. Let your valentine pamper themselves. Hoover Hometown Pharmacy 2801 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 101 650-1960

For the

BEAUTY LOVER Skin care products $44-$281 Scientifically formulated advanced skin care products with growth factors, antioxidants, retinoids and more. Pure Dermatology & Aesthetics 5346 Stadium Trace Parkway, Suite 100 682-8022

B6 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Lifting spirits, one bedroom at a time By GRACE THORNTON When Michelle Chandler and her husband first moved to Hoover from Orange County, California, their 17-month-old daughter had to spend half a day at Children’s of Alabama. Their daughter, Phoebe, walked away from the hospital well, but Chandler’s never been able to shake it. “Children’s is amazing — I thank God for places like that,” she said. But the young mother couldn’t forget all the others she saw that day as she walked the halls, the children and families fighting serious illnesses day in and day out. “Being a mom, I couldn’t really imagine being in and out of hospitals with your young child, watching them go through treatment,” Chandler said. “It’s something I think about all the time. That had never been on my radar before. I felt very overcome with the emotion of that.” And it was in her heart, she said, to give something back. “That experience really just sent me kind of in a different direction professionally and personally,” she said. Chandler, an interior designer, decided to start the Flower Child Project, a venture dedicated to designing bedrooms cost-free for local children battling serious illnesses. “I wanted them to be able to come home to this really beautiful, bright, vibrant bedroom that looks like their personality,” she said. “It would be this tangible thing that I think is a huge deal for a child who is overcoming an illness. I want it to be somewhere where they want to be and it excites them and helps them recover.” And once she got that idea, Chandler started to sketch it out, contacting vendors, setting up

a GoFundMe page and reaching out to groups and individuals who could help her bring her dream into reality. “Everybody really seems to get it and thinks it’s great and it’s different,” she said. One of them was Joyce T. Spielberger, executive director of Magic Moments, a local organization that grants “wishes” for chronically ill children. “Magic Moments has had several requests for bedroom makeovers in the past,” Spielberger said. “So many of our children spend an inordinate amount of time in their rooms, confined to their beds. To make that space a beautiful one can provide them a meaningful respite and really lift their spirits.” It’s been medically proven that a child’s outlook plays a major part in their struggle against chronic illness, she said. “Michelle’s desire to give back in such a meaningful way has truly touched our hearts here at Magic Moments,” Spielberger said. Chandler said she’s currently looking for her first family so that she can begin to make their child’s wish a reality through the Flower Child Project. “Whatever a child thinks they want their bedroom to look like, I want to take it from there and really bring it to life,” she said. “I want them to be able to play in their room and have people in their room and it be somewhere they are proud of.” Children fighting illnesses need a bedroom that they love to be in, Chandler said, one that makes them “feel as special as they are” and inspires them to keep moving forward. She said she’s hoping to make that happen first for Clara Bragg, a 2-year-old girl with a terminal neurological condition that progressively destroys nerve cells in the brain and

Michelle Chandler, an interior designer, decided to start the Flower Child Project, a venture dedicated to designing bedrooms cost-free for local children battling serious illnesses. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

spinal cord. Clara has qualified for a treatment that could save her life and reverse some of the disease’s effects, but as her family prepares for this journey, Chandler is preparing to give Clara a bedroom she can enjoy. She’s in the process of raising funds and donated goods now to give Clara “a room that excites her and brings her and her family joy in the midst of the difficult days they are facing.” Chandler said she’s aiming to install it in February. As far as Flower Child as a whole goes, Chandler wants to stay small scale — just one room at a time, with the entire project from start to finish only taking a few days. “That’s really where we are — we’re at the very, very beginning, but I see this as something that could make a big, big impact,” she said. “I definitely have big aspirations for this project.” One of them is to involve other professional designers, as well as crafty moms who have a knack for design. Another is to enlist community volunteers and vendors to meet specific needs for each specific room as the plans are made.

She wants to be cost effective, she said, but still spare no attention to detail. “I believe a combination of money raised and donations made by design trade vendors for items such as furniture, bedding, art, decor, etc., will give me the tools needed to accomplish a full interior makeover,” Chandler wrote on her GoFundMe page. Another future goal is to eventually start a children’s décor line with a portion of the proceeds to benefit children’s charities, she said. Through the Flower Child Project, Chandler said she will be able to “create a space that includes beautiful lighting, built-in millwork, layers of vibrant fabrics and any specific elements that will bring that child’s dream space to life.” It’s full steam ahead from here, she said. “I just want to bring joy to these children and a smile to their faces. It’s a perfect combination of where God is leading me and what I’m trained to do and what I love to do.” For more information, visit flowerchildproject.

February 2017 • B7



Birmingham businessman and Aspire mentor Wesley Legg, seated, discusses the latest book student Michael is reading.

By MARIENNE THOMAS OGLE Believing that being a church pastor was his destiny, Jason Williams was pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from Birmingham Theological Seminary when he took a part-time job in an inner-city ministry. “One of the things I saw was a huge need to advocate for those from fatherless homes, which statistics show can often lead to dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, drugs and crime,” he said. “I was exposed to all kinds of people, issues and injustice and saw the need for trying to create ways for young people who had been cast aside to have access to people that had means, a network and opportunity.” It was this realization that gave birth to what is today the Aspire Movement, a mentoring program that works to bridge race, socio-economic and generational gaps through the opportunity to form mutually transforming relationships between young people and adults. The program encourages leadership development that equips both the mentor and student to enter their communities to make future impacts. Based in Hoover, the Aspire Movement reaches students throughout the Birmingham area primarily through schools while recruiting mentors through church partnerships. “We have an 88 percent retention rate of mentors, and when a mentor quits or moves, we rematch the kids, so they stay in the program,” Williams said.

Students and mentors participate in regular activity days like this one at Oak Mountain State Park. For bike outings, Aspire partners with Trips for Kids, which provides free lunch and training and the use of mountain bikes and helmets. Photo courtesy of the Aspire Movement.

According to Williams, mentors engage with students in various ways, such as spending time in the student’s world for lunches at school, tutoring sessions and “hanging out” in their communities for various activities. Mentors also bring the students into their world and communities for different activities that might be as simple as lunch at Chick-fil-A, a visit to Oak Mountain State Park or a trip to the movies. “Some of our students don’t even know the park is there, have never touched a horse or a cow,” Williams said. “You’d be amazed at the things many have never done.” A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Aspire Movement began in the 2011-12 school year at one school with 13 mentor/ student matches. It expanded in the 2013-14 year to four schools and 65 matches, and this school year has 168 mentor/student matches in 10 schools with two ministry partners, Grace House and Oak Tree Ministries. The Aspire Movement’s Life on Life, or mentoring program, begins with fourth-grade

students and encourages mentors to remain with their charges until they graduate, but it is only one component of the organization. The Aspire Club is a weekly after-school program of reading, activities and group interaction designed to reach the youth in public schools who are waiting for a mentor. General Aspire activities can be group events that include going to the Civil Rights Institute, Barons baseball games, bike riding at Oak Mountain State Park, cookouts, volunteering and projects. According to Williams, the Aspire Leadership Development is a recent addition where students are chosen to take part in relational and academic challenges. “We are hoping to not only do classroom training on what it means to be a godly leader, but also provide a venue for them to go into the public school and mentor younger students,” Williams said. “This is how we transition our growing students into getting a vision for their community.”

Nick Thornton has been an Aspire Movement mentor since the organization’s inception and also serves on its board. He’s been matched with his student for a year, and their times together have included biking, gatherings at the Thornton family home in Hoover to play basketball, watching sports and a recent trip to Tuscaloosa with the eldest Thornton daughter for a University of Alabama football game. “The most important part of our time together is the opportunity to have basic conversations and get to know each other as individuals,” Thornton said. “It can be difficult to build trust so that young people don’t believe you’re here and not gone tomorrow, but happily we’ve started to have two-way talks where he asks questions, and we have regular dialogue.” And it is that effort — not to fix a child, but to develop a relationship with him — that is the thrust of the Aspire Movement, Williams said. “It is true that our society changes through our children, and our vision is for the next generation’s leadership and to help transform impoverished communities by empowering the people that live there,” Williams said. “It’s our legacy that the kids we mentor become mentors in the future.” For more information, go to or call 235-2355.

B8 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

School House Finley Award honors cornerstone of Hoover athletics By GRACE THORNTON When John Phillips was a sophomore linebacker at Berry High School, he’d been without a father for about three years. And he was without a letterman jacket, too. Those things were different, to be sure, but he felt the absence of both when coach Bob Finley stopped him in the hall one day and asked him where his letterman jacket was. “I was too embarrassed to tell him that my mom could not afford it, so I told him that I didn’t want one,” Phillips said. About two weeks later, Finley sent him on an errand to pick up something at a local sporting goods store. “When I arrived and told the man behind the counter my name, he immediately pulled out a brand-new letterman jacket with my football number — No. 44 — on it,” Phillips said. “Coach Finley had recognized that I really did want that jacket and had done something about it, just as a father would do for a son.” And Phillips, who graduated in 1987, still has that jacket hanging in his closet. Finley has left his mark on countless people, said Wayne Wood, a teacher at Berry during

Finley’s last five years at the school. “That’s not just my perspective — that’s the perspective of hundreds of people,” Wood said, who compiled dozens of stories, including Phillips’, in a book called “Bob Finley: A Class Act.” “He was a great man, a great Christian influence, and he was admired by thousands,” Wood said — that’s why Berry High School’s stadium is named after him. That’s also why the new 155,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor event center next to the Hoover Met Stadium will be named after him, Wood said. And that’s why, every year, a committee bestows Finley Awards for outstanding character on one Hoover school district employee, one senior from Hoover High School and one senior from Spain Park High School. Finley was in the process of moving over from Berry — Hoover’s first high school — to the new Hoover High School when he died. “Hoover High School opened in the fall of 1994, and coach Finley was to be the head coach but sadly died working on the Berry football field a week before practice was to start,” Wood wrote in an article on the Hoover

Bucs Athletics website. Finley had been assistant football coach and head boys’ basketball coach when he came to Berry in 1964, but by 1968, he was named head football coach and athletic director. And not only did he lead boys’ sports to succeed, he quietly and behind the scenes paved the way for girls’ sports to expand, building one of the best girls’ basketball programs in the state and helping fast-pitch softball take hold in Alabama, Wood said. “Humility was a term often applied to him, and at times he even appeared shy and embarrassed,” Wood wrote in his book. “He would give credit to others ahead of himself even if they didn’t really deserve it.” Finley was inducted into the Alabama High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 1992. “Coach Finley was loved, respected and admired by all athletes, male and female alike,” Wood wrote, adding that he is a “hero and respected man in Hoover history” and that anything named after him is “worthwhile and honorable.” This year’s Finley Award nominations are due Feb. 1. Winners will be announced Feb. 24 and recognized at a banquet March 23.

POP students compete in Magic City 5K Prince of Peace Catholic School’s middle school running club competed in the Magic City 5K, and five of the eight students who ran placed in their age groups. Bella Doll and Woody Anthony took first place in their age groups with Woody finishing ninth overall in the race. Jack Jacobs took third place in his age group; Emily Eicher and Lucy Lalisan also placed in their age groups, and this was their first 5K.

POP physical education teacher and avid runner Amy Browne coached the students twice a week in this semester-long middle school elective. The students practiced distance running as well as strength, cardio and agility workouts. The class goal was to finish the race, which they all achieved. – Submitted by Prince of Peace Catholic School.

Bob Finley Front row, left to right: Lucy Lalisan, Bella Doll, Bobby Meyers, Jack Jacobs. Back row, left to right: Emily Eicher, Lauren Flannelly, Samad Muhammad, Woody Anthony. Photo courtesy of Prince of Peace Catholic School.

February 2017 • B9

Mental Floss co-founder Will Pearson speaks to Simmons Middle School students

Simmons Middle School faculty and students pose with Andrew, center, after surprising him with trips to Legoland and Disney World. Photo courtesy of Michelle Berg.

Simmons Middle reveals magic moment for Hoover child From Oct. 11 through Nov. 10, 2016, Simmons Middle School raised $4,000 through donations, concessions at school dances and the opportunity to wear sweatpants and hats to school in order to grant a magic moment to a chronically ill child through the Magic Moments organization. The monthlong fundraising effort allowed the school to surprise a Hoover City Schools student with a trip to Legoland and Disney World. This is the second year that the middle school has granted a wish through the school’s fundraising efforts. At a recent gathering of SMS faculty and students, it looked like any other pep rally day, but this one was extra special. The SMS band played, and students, dressed in red, white and black, were cheering as three judges entered the gym. Two of the judges, teachers Carrie McGrann and Dan

Cater, were in on the surprise, but guest judge, Hoover City Schools student Andrew, thought he was at Simmons to judge a gradelevel Lego competition at the pep rally. Clipboard in hand, the three judges made their way first to the Gotham city creation by sixth-graders, then to a medieval times castle by the seventh-graders and finally to the eighth-graders’ creation of Sanford Stadium, home of the Georgia Bulldogs, a favorite team of Andrew’s. A few eighthgrade football players ran a play and then presented Andrew with a football signed by the Bulldogs’ head coach and all the Georgia players. But the surprise didn’t end there. Simmons Principal Brian Cain then said he knew how much how Andrew liked both Legos and Disney, “So,” he began, “you and your family are going to …” and the students and faculty helped announce the surprise by

cheering in unison, “Legoland and Disney World!” Andrew, his family, a friend and his principal and teachers from his school all shared in Andrew’s excitement. Representatives of Magic Moments then spoke to those gathered, thanking them for helping to grant Andrew’s magic moment. Simmons will be granting another child a magic moment this month. Magic Moments has been grating wishes for 32 years. It is a wish-granting organization devoted exclusively to creating magic moments in the lives of children in Alabama with chronic, life-threatening medical conditions. A magic moment allows children and their families to forget, even if just for a little while, the fear and pain of their illness. More information about the organization can be found at – Submitted by Michelle Berg.

Will Pearson, co-founder of the magazine Mental Floss and former Simmons Middle School student, spoke to students at a recent all-school assembly. Pearson displayed a picture of one of his magazine covers — a goldfish with a shark fin attached to his head, swimming in a bowl and the headline “Think outside the bowl.” Those in attendance heard about the opportunities that Pearson had as a result of Mental Floss, which he started with a friend in 2001 — going on the Today show; travelling; serving as an executive producer on Brain Surgery Live, a joint project with the National Geographic Channel; meeting celebrities; and co-authoring books. Pearson told the students they should throw themselves into their interests. “Be exceptional. If you do well, you gain so much more,” he said. Another idea Pearson shared with the students was that he met with many successful people through his work, and those who were the most successful were the ones who had a true respect for the people around them. It didn’t matter a person’s gender, religious choice, residence, race, disability, finances, or age, everyone was treated in a respectful manner. The people who were respectful to all were the ones who went the furthest in life. Pearson reminded the students that as they look to the future, they should try to do something great. He told them whether they are interested in starting something new or doing something different, their take on it may be more unique than someone else. They just need to think outside the bowl, like the goldfish from his magazine cover, and give it their all. – Submitted by Simmons Middle School.

B10 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Hoover schools have 8th-best report card grades in state By JON ANDERSON The Hoover school district ranked among the top 10 school districts in the state for the 2015-2016 school year, according to new accountability data released by the Alabama Department of Education. Hoover City Schools scored 70.058 points out of a possible 75 — or 93.41 percent of the total possible points — on the new state report cards for school systems. That was the eighth-highest score among school systems statewide. The grades are based on students’ achievement on test scores, learning gains made from year to year, graduation rates and individual goals school systems set for themselves, said Ron Dodson, one of Hoover’s assistant superintendents. However, the grades for 2015-2016 are somewhat incomplete because the state Department of Education still has other factors it believes should be considered in the performance of schools and school systems. Grades for the 2016-2017 school year also will take into account achievement gaps between different groups of students within a school or system, college and career readiness, and reviews of school programs to see if they are following state and district policies, Dodson said. In 2015-2016, Hoover City Schools scored 81.29 out of 100 on student achievement, 100 out of 100 on learning gains, 94 out of 100 for its graduation rate and 100 out of 100 on its individual goal, according to data on the Alabama Department of Education website. The Hoover school district’s individual goal for 2015-2016 was based on a student survey on how well students are using technology tools for their education, Dodson said. The state did not assign A-F letter

grades to schools and school systems for 2015-2016 but plans to do so next year once all indicators are graded. However, if a letter grade had been assigned to the Hoover school system in 2015-2016 based on the data that was measured, it would have been an “A.” Hoover school board member Earl Cooper said the A-F letter grades concern him because he believes they can easily be taken out of context. Dodson said it’s clear that poverty continues to be a driving factor in educational performance in Alabama. As a general rule, the lowest-performing school systems are those with the highest poverty, he said. However, there are some aberrations to that, where high-poverty schools are doing well, Dodson said. There are lessons to be learned from those schools, but poverty remains a huge factor, he said. Cooper said it’s important to remember some students may score lower on achievement tests but, at the same time, may have made much more improvement than some higher-achieving students who started out in school with a lot more advantages in life. He noted Hoover schools have a lot of students who come in and out of the school system due to residential moves. “They do exceptionally well for the time we have them,” Cooper said. Dodson said Hoover students “are clearly punching above their weight.” “Our kids may not always be right there at the cusp of achievement, but boy are they making and exceeding our learning gains goals for them,” he said. Superintendent Kathy Murphy last month shared with the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce the Hoover school district is surpassing state and national averages for proficiency in English, math, science, reading and writing, but still has room to improve.

Riverchase Elementary students load a bus to go home. Riverchase Elementary had the highest report card grade among Hoover elementary schools for 2015-16. Photo by Jon Anderson.

BY THE NUMBERS: SCHOOL SYSTEMS WITH TOP 10 SCORES ON 2015-2016 STATE REPORT CARDS: 1. Mountain Brook - 99.27% 2. Madison - 96.18% 3. Vestavia Hills - 96.1% 4. Homewood - 95.53% 5. Trussville - 94.63% 6. Cullman - 94.07% 7. Muscle Shoals - 93.84% 8. Hoover - 93.41% 9. Auburn - 93.19% 10. Hartselle - 93.14%

REPORT CARD GRADES FOR HOOVER SCHOOLS: Berry Middle - 96.38% Riverchase Elem. - 96.2% Bluff Park Elem. - 95.26% Greystone Elem. - 95.23% Simmons Middle - 95.15% Shades Mountain Elem. - 94.91% Deer Valley Elem. - 94.48% Bumpus Middle - 93.97% Brock’s Gap Interm. - 93.85% South Shades Crest Elem. - 93.28% Gwin Elem. - 92.67% Green Valley Elem. - 85.87% Trace Crossings Elem. - 85.01% Rocky Ridge Elem. - 84.58% Spain Park High School - 83.79% Hoover High School - 79.36%

Numbers reflect a percentage of most possible points earned and are based on students’ achievement on test scores, learning gains made from year to year, graduation rates and individual goals that school systems set for themselves.


February 2017 • B11

Odyssey returns to Hoover High Feb. 4 The Hoover High School varsity winter guard performs at East Coweta High School in Sharpsburg, Georgia, in 2016. Photo courtesy of Donald Blair.

Photo by Jon Anderson.


Hoover school board approves 2017-18 calendar with week out for Thanksgiving

People who enjoy watching color guards and percussion groups perform will have that chance at Hoover High School on Feb. 4. At least 32 winter guard groups and 10 percussion groups from Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi are scheduled to compete in the ninth annual Winter Odyssey competition at Hoover High. The percussion competition is tentatively scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., with an awards ceremony at 3:20 p.m., while the winter guard competition is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m., with an awards ceremony at 9:25 p.m. The event is part of the Southeastern Color Guard Circuit and will be held in the Hoover High gym. Admission is $8. Winter guard is similar to color guard flag twirling, except the performance is indoors and to recorded music instead of a live marching band. Alabama winter guard groups scheduled to perform include Athens, Buckhorn, Divenire from Birmingham, Chelsea, Fort Payne, Helena, Hoover, James Clemens, La Quest from Huntsville, Muscle Shoals, Oak Grove, Oak Mountain, Pelham, Southeast Visual from Pell City, Spain Park, Sparkman,

By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Board of Education has approved the calendar for the 2017-2018 school year, and it includes a full week out of school for Thanksgiving. Almost 78 percent of the 3,500-plus Hoover parents, school employees and community members who participated in a survey favored calendars that let students out of school for a full week at Thanksgiving. A third option would have matched the threeday school week for Thanksgiving offered by other over-the-mountain school systems, but less than 23 percent of voters chose that option. In putting together the calendar options, Hoover schools spokesman Jason Gaston said school officials tried to develop options that had what they consider to be a reasonable start date, a balance of instructional days between the two semesters and an ending date before Memorial Day, which is May 28, 2018.

Here are the highlights of the 2017-18 calendar recommended by Superintendent Kathy Murphy and approved by the school board on Jan. 10: ► First day for students – Aug. 9 ► Labor Day holiday – Sept. 4 ► Teacher workday (no students) – Oct. 9 ► Veterans Day holiday – Nov. 10 ► Thanksgiving holiday – Nov. 20-24 ► Winter break – Dec. 21-Jan. 4 ► Teacher workday (no students) – Jan. 4 ► First day back for students – Jan. 5 ► Martin Luther King Jr. holiday – Jan. 15 ► Teacher workday (no students) – Feb. 19 ► Spring break – March 26-30 ► Teacher workday (no students) – April 23 ► Spain Park High graduation – May 23 ► Hoover High graduation – May 24 ► Last day for students – May 24 ► Teacher workday – May 25 ► Memorial Day holiday – May 28

Hoover Winter Odyssey • • • •

WHERE: Hoover High School WHEN: Feb. 4 ADMISSION: $8 INFO:

Susan Moore, Thompson, Vestavia Hills and Winfield. Out-of-state winter guard groups include Siegel High School from Murfreesboro, Tennessee; South Pontotac High School from South Pontotoc, Mississippi; and Wilson Central High School from Lebanon, Tennessee. Some of the winter guard groups have both varsity and junior varsity groups. Percussion groups from Alabama scheduled include Central from Lineville, Florence, Fort Payne, Muscle Shoals, Oak Grove, Sparkman and Winfield. Out-of-state percussion groups include Riptide from Tupelo, Mississippi; Rossview High School from Clarksville, Tennessee; and Spring Hill High School from Spring Hill, Tennessee. For updated information about the Hoover Winter Odyssey competition, go to and click on the events tab.

B12 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

’16-’17 Junior Ambassadors at Simmons Middle get involved The Simmons Middle School Junior Ambassadors program, created in 2014, has the purpose of supporting the school’s administration, the PTO, school clubs and athletic groups and also the community. Some of the activities the group participates in include helping The Over the Mountain Miracle League; raising money for childhood cancer awareness; volunteering at the Hoover City Schools Foundation Drug Awareness and Prevention Breakfast at Simmons Middle School; and helping at the Green Valley Elementary School Fall Festival. The Ambassadors do all of this plus welcome veterans and parents to the school’s annual Veterans Day program; serve as greeters at the school’s fall musical, band concerts and choir concerts; support students by attending the school’s athletic events and cheering for the SMS athletes; assist PTO with back-toschool nights and fundraising efforts; escort

new parents and students around the school during the sixth-grade Meet and Greet; plus so much more. To be selected to serve as a SMS Junior Ambassador, students must be a seventh- or eighth-grader; complete an application and interview; have a B average in their classes in order to interview; and have teachers complete an evaluation that is scored as part of the application and evaluation process. The 2016-17 SMS Jr. Ambassadors include: Ethan Abernathy; Georgia Anderson; Maggie Barnes; Abby Batchelor; Mary Batchelor; Nick Berg; Taylor Burch; Kathryn Chambers; Abigail Collins; Sadie Cope; Corinne Crawford; Moose Deery; Rory Edwards; Kalyn Epperson; Abby Fortner; Ella Fuller; Haden Galbaugh; Blakley Glover; Ali Hyde; Camden Jung; Caroline Lawrence; Segen Lister; Erin Lutomski; Claire Manering; Ainsley Maryanski; Katelyn McRee; Mary Ryan Mitchell;

The seventh- and eighth-grade Simmons Middle School Junior Ambassadors for the 201617 school year pose for a group photo. The sponsors for the organization are Amanda Sutter and Laura Ashley Missildine. Photo courtesy of Michelle Berg.

Ella Nunn; Abby Pate; Veronica Patrick; Phedra Peter; Kaelin Petitt; Asia Robinson; Olivia Sasser; Jaime Schnader; Tykie Sfakianos; Caroline Shock; Alex Simpson; Jordan Singer; Mary Caroline Stephens; Ashton

Tillman; Reagan Watts; Blake White; and Jackson White. The organization’s sponsors are Amanda Sutter and Laura Ashley Missildine. – Submitted by Michelle Berg.

Brock’s Gap students give day of service The students of Brock’s Gap’s community service group called BUC’s Club (Believe Unite Contribute) spent their MLK Day serving the community to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They joined forces with Youth Serve Birmingham and helped clean the historic Bethel Baptist Church, in the Collegeville community where the late civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth served as the pastor

during the movement. They learned about the rich history of this community then prepared care packages for senior citizens, backpack programs in area schools, and delivered packages to the officers at the North Precinct Police department. What a way to celebrate the life of such a great man by serving others as that was definitely part of his legacy. – Submitted by Terri Coleman.

A group of Brock’s Gap students spent MLK Day serving the community by helping to clean the Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville. Photo courtesy of Terri Coleman.

February 2017 • B13


Garrett Farquhar is set to man one of the middle infield positions for Hoover once again this season. Photo by Barry Stephenson.

Bucs looking for another successful baseball season

Arms — both new and returning — a bright spot for squad By KYLE PARMLEY A 30-win season is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how far a team advanced in the state playoffs. The Hoover High School baseball team was sent home after the first round of the state playoffs, losing to eventual Class 7A state champion Hewitt-Trussville, but that does not dampen the overall success of the season. “The effort the kids gave was tremendous,” said Hoover head coach Adam Moseley. “We won an area championship, which is hard to do. Last year’s team did everything we asked them to do.” Class 7A, Area 5 featured Tuscaloosa County, Thompson and Oak Mountain, who took down top-ranked Vestavia Hills in the first round of the playoffs. This spring, Vestavia Hills replaces Oak Mountain, so there is no drop off in the competition the Bucs will be forced to go through. “There are good coaches in every place that we play,” Moseley said. Trying to make a deep run in the postseason this spring will not be any easier, but Moseley said he believes the Bucs have the pieces to make some noise and be one of those teams that is tough for others to go through. Moseley’s plan for a successful team starts on the mound, where he believes Hoover will be strong. Brock Guffey and Garrett Farquhar are back, each having thrown more than 50 innings a season ago. Guffey, a left-hander, has signed to play at Wallace State Community College. Junior pitcher Scott Elgin is also set to be a factor on the mound for the Bucs, as well as Devin Cole, who missed last season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Moseley also is encouraged by some of the program’s young arms, and those pitchers will have the chance to prove themselves throughout the season. Farquhar and Nolan Hammonds comprised the middle of the Hoover infield in 2016, and they are set to reprise those roles once again,

There’s an overall scheme with what we try to do, but we’ll definitely try to adjust based on personnel. I want a team that pitches really well, and we’re going to have to manufacture some things on offense. We have some tools to do that.


but both have the flexibility to move around if the situation arises. Tyler Williams, who hit for more than a .400 batting average last season, will likely man one of the infield spots. Brandon Agsalud is a player who can play any position on the diamond, and Ty Robinson also will have a role. Senior Kenly Hager is a team leader and also will factor heavily into the infield rotation. In the outfield, junior Evan Veal “has a chance to be special,” according to Moseley, and will likely play a big part in the team’s plans there. Jacob Kopkin is a player with a great deal of power at the plate, and he said he hopes to rebound with a big season following an injury. Senior Ben Abercrombie is back, a wellrounded athlete committed to play football at Harvard University. Moseley also mentioned some of the guys being looked at to fill infield roles would also be able to slide into an outfield position if necessary. Each team is different, but Moseley said he does not intend on altering much of what he does on a yearly basis. “There’s an overall scheme with what we try to do, but we’ll definitely try to adjust based on personnel,” he said. “I want a team that pitches really well, and we’re going to have to manufacture some things on offense. We have some tools to do that.”

B14 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Jags pressing for postseason return 5 starters return to diamond, including 2 left-handed pitchers

Will Battersby is one of Spain Park’s top returning pitchers, and will be relied heavily upon in 2017. Photo courtesy of Ted Melton.

By KYLE PARMLEY The road in Class 7A baseball is tough. Just ask Will Smith, head baseball coach at Spain Park High School. After winning the state championship in 2014, the Jaguars have failed to reach the postseason in the two subsequent seasons, thanks to Hewitt-Trussville, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills being in the same area. Last season, Hewitt-Trussville went on to win the state championship, while Vestavia Hills was the top-ranked team in the class for much of the season. Hewitt-Trussville and Vestavia Hills are no longer in the same area, but Oak Mountain and Huffman enter Class 7A, Area 6. Oak Mountain is the team that knocked off the Rebels in the first round of the playoffs in 2016. “This year will be no different,” Smith said. “Oak Mountain will be one of the favorites to make a run. Mountain Brook has everybody back. You’re going to have to play well to make the playoffs.” In 2016, Smith thought the Jags showed promise, but a few runs here and there proved to be the difference in the six-game area schedule. “We didn’t make the playoffs, but there were times I thought we were a playoff team, and other times I thought we weren’t very deserving,” Smith said. “But when you’re in the area with us, if you make the playoffs, you’ve got a chance to win the whole thing.” The state champion has hailed from Area

6 two of the past three seasons, and Smith mentioned Mountain Brook among the top teams in the state two years ago, along with Vestavia last season. As far as Spain Park’s chances this season, the Jags welcome back their top two lefthanded pitchers in Will Battersby and Spencer Graham. Hayden Freeman held down the second slot in the rotation slot last season, and Graham will be given the first chance to secure that spot. As far as Battersby goes, Smith said he is working to improve his ability to finish games well and not allow slips in the final innings.

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“You really need to have three or four guys to make a deep run in the playoffs,” Smith said. “We’re going to have to have two or three guys step up.” Smith said he feels like his team will be ahead of its normal schedule due to the ability to do some fall work. That will help, as the Jags have to replace five starters on the diamond. Kevin Hopkins primarily played left field last spring, and will likely slide over to man center. Justin McClure and Jacob Rich return to make up the left side of the infield. Those three are the only mainstays from last year’s lineup who return, and all three are seniors.

Michael Purser and Will Evans platooned in a few different spots last season and are expected to take on a position full time this season. Baseball in the Birmingham area boasts a number of high-level teams, and Spain Park is firmly in that mix of teams with potential to be a contender each year, something its head coach embraces. “Nobody puts more pressure on the program than myself and our coaches,” Smith said. “You create standards and expectations.” The Jags begin play Feb. 20 when they host Shelby County.

February 2017 • B15

Above: The Samford Bulldogs, including Abbie Miranda of Vestavia Hills, are coming off their most successful season in school history. Photo courtesy of Samford Athletics. Left: Auburn Tiger Madi Gipson will get one more chance to play at her alma mater’s high school field when Samford hosts Auburn at Spain Park High on April 5. Photo by Kyle Parmley.

Spain Park to host high-level college softball matchup By KYLE PARMLEY College softball is coming to the high school level. On April 5, Samford University and Auburn University’s softball programs will square off at Spain Park High School. The game will mark the second time Spain Park has hosted a college game, also holding a game between Samford and Jacksonville State in 2013. “Any time you can get two college teams that want to play on your campus, that’s really special,” said Spain Park athletics director Patrick Kellogg. According to the Bulldogs’ schedule release, Samford is looking to build off its most successful season in program history. The 2016

Samford team posted a record of 40-20 overall and 15-3 in Southern Conference play. Samford won the program’s first SoCon Tournament title and earned the team’s first NCAA Tournament bid. Auburn also is coming off its most successful softball season in school history, having advanced to the Women’s College World Series, falling to Oklahoma in three games and winning a school-record 57 games overall. “Each year we play a competitive home and away schedule, with last season being our highest RPI finish in program history,” said Samford coach Mandy Burford. “We play Alabama and Auburn each year, but this year we have decided to play Auburn at a neutral site.” Last year’s matchup between the two teams was at Samford’s softball field, with

an announced crowd of 914, more than the stadium’s capacity. Samford does not charge admission at home games and is taking the opportunity to gain revenue from one of the most anticipated matchups on its schedule. “This will allow us to charge admission, and both programs will receive a portion of the revenue,” Burford said. “This also allows us to reach a fan base that might not drive across town to watch us play. We are looking forward to the opportunity to play in front of another large crowd against Auburn at Spain Park on April 5 and also against Alabama on April 25 at Samford.” Spain Park will make their own accommodations for the expected crowd. “As a precaution, we certainly are going to bring in bleachers,” Kellogg said. “The City of

Hoover’s Parks and Recreation always helps us out when we host the Hoover football game.” Kellogg credited the Lady Jags head coach, C.J. Hawkins, for establishing solid relationships with area college coaches. The game will provide Spain Park and other local players the opportunity to see the college level up close. “That’ll be special for our softball team so that they can see what the next level looks like, especially two great programs like Auburn and Samford,” he said. Auburn’s Madi Gipson (Spain Park) and Carmyn Greenwood (Oak Mountain) will get a chance to play close to home, while some future Tigers wait in the high school ranks. Hoover’s Abby Tissier and Spain Park’s Jenna Olszewski (both signed) and Maddie Majors (committed) all plan to play softball on the Plains.

B16 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

BRINGING the SPARK Hoover High alumna Kara Rawls impressing Blazers with will to win By KYLE PARMLEY

Hoover native Kara Rawls encompasses all that UAB coach Randy Norton looks for in a player to fit his program. Photos courtesy of UAB Athletics.

Basketball coaches harp all the time about “intangibles” — the aspects of an athlete that go beyond natural athleticism. Coaches need players who are willing to sacrifice the aspects of the game that bring glory and do some things that do not show up in the box score. Many coaches use several examples from an array of players: One player is willing to take a charge; one player brings energy off the bench; and another player is loved by all her teammates. For UAB women’s basketball coach Randy Norton, he has one player who encompasses all of those things in Hoover native Kara Rawls, now a junior for the Blazers.

“Kara has had great, great minutes for us,” Norton said. “When she comes into the game, she’s always ready to go. She’s going to play as hard as she can.” Look no further than an early-season win over Troy to see Rawls’ impact on a game. Norton said the team did not play its best game but made “winning plays” down the stretch to walk away with a four-point victory. Two of the key plays in that game were courtesy of Rawls, as she took a key charge and knocked down a pair of key free throws to ice the game. “At whatever level or whatever sport, there comes a time in the game where it’s winning time, and Kara’s one of those players that has a unique ability to make winning plays, whether it’s take a charge, get the big rebound or make the big free

February 2017 • B17

“Kara’s one of those players that has a unique ability to make winning plays,” Norton said.

throws,” Norton said. Rawls arrived at UAB after collegiate stops at the University of Alabama and Lawson State Community College. She tore her Achilles tendon and sat out her freshman year before transferring to junior college. She led Lawson to a strong season and averaged a double-double. UAB took notice. “We found out about her at Lawson, and we watched some tape on her,” Norton said. “We got out and watched her play and brought

her in for a visit. We fell in love with her personality.” Rawls made her way to the Southside and has not regretted it for an instant. “I’m glad that I ended up at UAB because this coaching staff is great; the people around me are great; it’s a family environment, and my teammates are great,” Rawls said. Her surroundings are particularly important to Rawls, considering her situation. She suffers from asthma and a vocal cord dysfunction that severely hinders her ability to breathe,

especially when she is active. Rawls said the asthma was not as big of a deal in high school, because the pace of the high school game allowed opportunities to catch her breath. But the college game is played at a speed that does not lend itself to resting on the court, making things difficult. “I’m thankful to be here with a coaching staff that’s willing to work with me with that,” she said. Rawls cannot stay in the game for long spurts, but uses that to her advantage.

“My biggest thing is I try to push as hard as I can as soon as I get in,” she said. The coaching staff has been extremely attentive and understanding when Rawls needs a breather in games and practices. “Paying attention to me when we have conditioning — it’s the little things like that that are very important to me,” she said. Adapting to her situation is nothing new for Rawls. She transferred from Ellwood Christian School in Selma after her sophomore year of high school, moving to Hoover. At Ellwood, she was a top scorer. At Hoover, her role was much different. “She had to make a lot of adjustments, because she went from being the best player on the team to being on a team with a lot of talent,” said Krystle Johnson, an assistant coach at Hoover during Rawls’ first season at Hoover and now in her first year as head coach of the Lady Bucs. As the season progressed, however, she became more comfortable with the environment, and the Lady Bucs went on to win a pair of state championships in the years Rawls was there. “When you transfer, which she did in high school and in college, you do kind of learn to work with what you’ve got,” Johnson said. “You have to learn to adjust quickly because you don’t have a choice.” Her role at UAB now is to “bring the energy,” a role she has certainly embraced. “I’m a spark off the bench,” she said. “I’m kind of like that annoying person that’s always going, going, going.” That role is important for every team, but a balanced UAB team with multiple weapons needs Rawls to play her part. “Anybody on any given night can be that 25[-point] person, and it’s not always going to be me, but what’s important is that when I get out there, I do what I have to do for as long as I can for my team. That’s bringing the energy,” she said. Rawls was elevated to captain status early in the season, and she shares that role with two other teammates. “She’s an outstanding person, and we love coaching her,” Norton said.

B18 • February 2017

Hoover Sun


FOOTBALL to FLOATERS ‘Scout team’ provides competitive practice for Lady Buccaneers By KYLE PARMLEY The idea of a female basketball team competing against a male basketball team is no longer a new idea, as many colleges — such as perennial champion UConn — have adopted the practice. But having major contributors to a Class 7A state football champion offers quite the challenge for Hoover High School’s Lady Bucs. And that challenge falls to a group of seven guys affectionately dubbed the “scout team.” Football players Cortez Hall, DeCarlos Hurt, Christian Edge, Ricky Palao, Jimmy Turner, Kam Ford and RJ Randle combine to give the Hoover High School girls basketball team an edge over the competition. “We just push them in practice,” Hall said. “When I was in college, we had a scout team [composed of men],” said first-year Hoover coach Krystle Johnson. The football coaches encouraged the decision to help the girls team, and the idea has

DeCarlos Hurt normally claims the role of the opposing team’s best shooter while helping the Hoover girls basketball team prepare for the next game. Photos by Kyle Parmley.

taken off from there, she said. “At first, I was kind of reluctant, because I don’t want them to get hurt, because they should all be going to play football in college,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘If you can get me seven or eight people, so you don’t have to be there every single day, I’ll let y’all do it.’” So what exactly is the scout team’s role? “To get after them,” said Palao, one of the top defensive linemen for the Bucs. “To make them better, so when they play girls, it’ll be easier, their mindset will be better.” But it is not a bland practice squad. The scout

team has its own uniforms, a combination of white and black jerseys and shorts. They live and die with the team’s successes and failures. “They are definitely 100 percent a part of the team,” Johnson said. “I don’t have to tell them anything. If practice starts at 3:45, they get here at 3:45.” The biggest advantage that Hoover’s girls team has now is the toughness that it takes to compete against a physical group each day in practice. Most teams are forced to practice with a second-tier team to make up a full practice.

“That’s the thing,” Johnson said. “We should never face anybody that’s as physical or as fast or as athletic than who we face in practice every day. Because of that, we know that when we make mistakes, they’re mental.” That mental challenge is an important and high hurdle for the Lady Bucs. They may not ever clear it, but that’s fine with Johnson. “If it can ever be easy against [the boys], then against girls it’ll be super easy,” Johnson said. “I doubt it’ll ever be easy against them, but the more we get accustomed to playing more athletic, stronger, faster people, then we should

February 2017 • B19 Cortez Hall says he is the best all-around player of the Hoover “scout team.”

see it carry over in the games.” The guys are starting to take notice as well. Hurt said he has noticed the team has gotten tougher since the beginning of the season. The practice unit is certainly competitive as well. The guys know their role but do not take it lightly. Palao makes it his mission to make the post players work hard for everything. Hall has no intention of letting a ball handler get by him. Hurt can bury 3-pointers and wreck a

defensive set. Palao boastfully takes claim to the title, “assist king.” Hall said he believes he is the “best all-around player” among the scout team. Hurt shrugs when he is told of his role while helping the Lady Bucs scout their next opponent. “If [Johnson] tells me I’m the shooter, then I’m the shooter,” Hurt said. The scout team takes opponent scouting

seriously. “I actually send them film sometimes,” Johnson said. “I can tell them [about the next opponent], and they can just figure out who’s best for each role.” Publicly, the scout team will not take a ton of credit for the Lady Bucs’ early-season success. But more than anything, its goal is to do whatever it can to bring another state championship back to Hoover, just as the football team did.

“They constantly tell them little stuff,” Johnson said. “Especially since we’ve got so many young players, they kind of tell them the stuff they need to do.” But if the Lady Bucs can bring another map back to the school, the scout team can stake some sort of ownership in the honor. “Ultimately, they’re all Hoover High School students, and they want to see them be successful, too,” Johnson said.

B20 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Championship recipe: “Do what they do” By SAM CHANDLER The AHSAA State Indoor Track and Field Championships will be Feb. 3-4 at the Birmingham CrossPlex, and Hoover High School head coach Devon Hind expects his teams to be in the hunt for at least one blue trophy. But that’s simply business as usual. Since the AHSAA reintroduced indoor track in 2012, at least one Hoover team has brought home a state title every year. The Buccaneer girls won in 2012, lost to Mountain Brook in 2013, and then they rebounded by capturing the past three championships. The average margin of victory during their current winning streak has been a whopping 52 points. When the girls lost in 2013, the Hoover boys picked up the slack. They placed first in 2013 and repeated in 2014. The past two years, however, the Bucs have finished runner-up to Auburn. So how do they get back on top? “Everybody just has to do what they do,” Hind said. That starts with distance standout Tommy McDonough, the 2016 Class 7A state champion in cross-country. He’s capable of winning multiple medals in the distance events and should anchor an elite 4x800-meter relay team. Already this season he’s posted times in the 800 and 1,600 meters that rank him among the top two in 7A. Hind’s pole vaulters also will play a key role in the team’s quest for a blue trophy. Jacob Doak, the state indoor runner-up last season, leads a contingent of aerial acrobats who could rack up pivotal points for the Bucs. Doak, James Courson and Matthew Green have posted marks that rank them among the top five in 7A. In another field event, Kyle Smith and Jonathan Martin have established themselves as medal-contending triple jumpers. One component that was missing from last year’s team was a corps of top-tier sprinters. This year, Hind doesn’t foresee that being an issue at state. Hakim Ruffin, whom Hind said dealt with hamstring issues in 2016, has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. His season-best time of 7.01 seconds (as of mid-January) in the 60-meter dash has him looking like a legitimate podium threat. J’Marri McCall and R.J. Nelson also have notched swift times in the dash. Together, the trio could form a formidable relay team. That rings true in the 400 meters as well, where Codey

Head coach Rick Smith (right) and assistant Joel Gonzales (left) are shown with the 2016-17 Berry wrestling team. Photo courtesy of Berry Middle School.

Hoover High School junior Ava Weems, seen running at the JV Invite Jan. 10 at the Birmingham CrossPlex, will help lead a talent-laden Hoover girls track and field team in their pursuit of a fourth straight state indoor championship. Photo by Sam Chandler.

Martin, Dorian Austin and Trent Hamner have flashed their blend of speed and endurance. “Our speed has really improved this year,” Hind said. For the Hoover girls to extend their title run to a fourth year, Hind said they also need “to do what they do.” In general, their formula for success doesn’t vary too much from that of their male counterparts. Sydney Steely and Ava Weems will pace an experienced distance crew that has the potential to score double-digit points in every event from the 800 up. Caitlyn Little, the front-runner in the 60-meter hurdles, will lead a strong sprint group that also includes Michelle Nkoudou and Ayana Eason. In the field, Eason is joined by Genesis Jones as a key contender in the jumps. Hoover’s collection of talent has Hind cautiously optimistic about his team’s likelihood of lifting another trophy. When asked if he believes his girls team will be able to weather yet another dethroning attempt, he responded with a subtle smile. “We’ll see,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting.”

Berry wrestling team looking for strong finish By KYLE PARMLEY The Berry Middle School wrestling team is nearing the end of what has proven to be a successful season so far. Rick Smith is currently serving in his second season as head coach of the team and is assisted by Joel Gonzales, and Smith credits Spain Park High School coaches Ryan Thompson and Matt Thompson for their efforts in helping to build the program. “We are in the process of building a championship wrestling program both at Berry and Spain Park,” Smith said. Recent results for the Jaguars include a 46-24 win over Oak Mountain on January 5. The win avenged a loss from earlier in the season, in which Oak Mountain won 51-36. The Jags hosted Prattville on January 12 and posted a

convincing 66-6 victory over Prattville before competing in the Buc Brawl at Hoover High School on January 14. In that event, Trent Thompson, Sims Hunter, Gage Hughes and Andrew Moses each placed in the top four of their respective weight classes. Fischer Harrison, Russell Partin, Nicholas Carlisle, Max Milazzo, Gabi Allan, Corrin Tandy, Brandon Fortenberry, Preston Kennedy, Marion Medley, Connor May, Steven Olsen, Kees Hudson, James Broderick, Reuben Morris, Logan Willis, Aiden Garver, Will Harper and Billy Vercher are also members of the team. Berry finished sixth in the Metro South Tournament last season and is hoping to improve that mark this year. This season’s tournament will be held February 3-4 at Vestavia Hills High School.

February 2017 • B21


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B22 • February 2017

Hoover Sun

Calendar Hoover Events Tuesday nights: Kids eat free at Vecchia Pizzeria & Mercato. 610 Preserve Parkway. (One child per adult.) Visit Feb. 2: Economic Development Committee Meeting. 8:30 a.m. Hoover Chamber of Commerce. Visit Feb. 4: 11th annual Riverchase Art Show. Riverchase Country Club. Featuring 50 notable artists. Presented by Riverchase Women’s Club. $2 donation fee. Feb. 10: Hearts & Harmony Gala. Park

Crest Event Facility. 6:30 p.m. Cash bar, silent auction, seated dinner and live auction. $125/ person. Visit

Gardens. $12 members, $15 nonmembers. Lean how to prune trees and shrubs and best ways to remove unwanted limbs and stems.

Feb. 11: Hoover Chamber Coffee & Contacts. 7:30-9 a.m. SpectrumReach. Visit

Feb. 15: Chamber Ambassador meeting. 4:30 p.m. Hoover Chamber Office. Visitors welcome. Visit

Feb. 11 a.m. Hoover Country Club. Dolores Hydock “Perfect Match: A Valentine Story.” 478-5313. Visit hooverserviceclub. com.

Feb. 16: Hoover Chamber luncheon. Hyatt Regency-The Wynfrey Hotel. 11:15 a.m. networking, noon luncheon. Call 988-5672 or email for reservations. Visit

Feb. 12: “Crepe Murder” and Pruning for Form Workshop. 3 p.m. Aldridge

Feb. 21: Eggs and Issues Breakfast

with Congressman Gary Palmer. 7:30-9 a.m. Hyatt Regency-Wynfrey Hotel. $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers. Hosted by chambers of commerce. Reservations required in advance through Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce at 993-3442 or Feb. 23: Business After Hours. 5:30-7 p.m. Benchmark Physical Therapy. Visit Feb. 26: Chonda Pierce - Happily Laughter After Tour. 7 p.m. Wright Fine Arts Center. $20-$45. Visit

Hoover Athletics Hoover Athletics Feb. 2: Boys varsity basketball vs. Woodlawn. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3: Girls varsity basketball @ Spain Park. 6 p.m. Feb. 3: Boys varsity soccer vs. Brookwood. 7 p.m. Feb. 3: Boys varsity basketball @ Spain Park. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8-10: Boys and girls varsity area tournament. TBA. Feb. 13: Boys varsity soccer vs. Prattville. 7 p.m.

Feb. 14: Girls varsity soccer vs. Oak Mountain. 7 p.m.

Feb. 3: Boys varsity basketball vs. Hoover. 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 21: Boys varsity soccer @ Tuscaloosa County. 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 3: Girls varsity basketball vs. Vestavia. 6 p.m.

Feb. 14: Girls varsity soccer @ Tuscaloosa County. 7 p.m.

Feb. 9-11: Boys varsity basketball Area 6 Tournament. TBA.

Feb. 23: Girls varsity soccer vs. Hewitt-Trussville. 7 p.m.

Feb. 13: Boys varsity soccer @ Homewood. 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 24: Boys varsity soccer vs. Auburn. 7 p.m.

Feb. 16: Boys varsity soccer vs. Hewitt-Trussville. 7 p.m.

Feb. 28: Girls varsity soccer @ Homewood. 7 p.m.

Feb. 17: Boys varsity soccer vs. Thompson. 7 p.m.

Spain Park Athletics

Feb. 20: Boys varsity baseball vs. Shel-

by County. 1:30 p.m. Feb. 21: Boys varsity baseball @ Pinson Valley High School. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21: Boys varsity soccer @ Helena. 7 p.m. Feb. 23: Girls varsity softball vs. Smiths Station. 5 p.m. Feb. 24-28: Boys varsity baseball, Birmingham/Huntsville Challenge. TBA. Feb. 24-25: Boys varsity soccer @ Island Culp Gulf Shores. TBA. Feb. 28: Girls varsity softball @ Huffman. 5:30 p.m.

February 2017 • B23

Hoover Public Library Kids Mondays: Together with Twos. 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Mondays: Story Lab. 4 p.m. Ages 3-8. Tuesdays: Mother Goose. 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays: Early Birds. 10 a.m. Wednesdays: Rockin’ Tots. 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Thursdays: ExploraStory. 10:30 a.m. Thursdays: PJ Storytime. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3: Movers & Shakers. 11 a.m. Feb. 3: Tween Scene: Valentines for Children’s Hospital. 4 p.m. Make a valentine to share with the kids at Children's Hospital. Feb. 4: Crafty Characters: Cupid Saturday. 10:30 a.m. Meet Cupid while you make fun Valentine crafts and eat sweet treats. All ages. Feb. 6: Reader’s Cafe: Upper Elementary Book Club. 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11: Villain-tines Day. 10:30 a.m. Share a little love with the villains from your favorite books and movies. Crafts and games for all ages. Feb. 12: Young Artist Reception. 3 p.m. Celebrate our featured children’s gallery artists. Refreshments served. Feb. 14: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead: Science – Potions. 4 p.m. Create Valentine slime and delicious treats. Ages 5-11. Feb. 15: Homeschool Hub. 1 p.m. Meet James Spann and lean about weather. Feb. 18: Spin-A-Story. 10:30 a.m. Bedtime Stories. Feb. 20: Reading Sidekicks: Beginning Reader Book Club. 6:30 p.m. A Pair of Bernstein Bears.

Feb. 21: HOLA! Spanish Conversations for Teens. 6:30 p.m. Practice Spanish and learn the culture. Grades 9-12. Adults Feb. 2: First Thursday Fiction Book Group. 10 a.m. Fitzgerald Room. Discussing “Arrowood” by Laura McHugh. Feb. 2: Nick Millevoi’s Desertion Trio. 6:30 p.m. Library Plaza. Philadelphia-based guitar player. Feb. 5: Sunday NovelTea Fiction Book Group. 3 p.m. Plaza Reading Room. Discussing “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katarina Bivald. Feb. 6: Friends of the Hoover Library. 10 a.m. Theatre Level Meeting Rooms. Better Basics: A Grade School Reading Program. Refreshments served. Feb. 6: Everyday Wellness: Making Sustainable Choices in Your Daily Life. 6:30 p.m. Shakespeare Room. Herbalist Antonia Viteri will discuss how food security, soil health and our cultural landscapes play a critical role in well-being. Tuesdays, Feb. 7-28: Adult English Classes. 6:30 p.m. Theatre Level Meeting Rooms. Basic or intermediate English classes. No registration required. Feb. 7: Glue Gun Gang: Heart Sunglasses Case. 6:30 p.m. Theatre Conference Room. Hand-sew a great Valentine’s gift. Adults only. Reservations required. Feb. 7: Spanish Conversation Club. 7 p.m. Library Plaza. Practice your Spanish and celebrate the culture. Adults 17+. Feb. 9: Second Thursday Fiction Book Group. 10 a.m. Fitzgerald Room. Discussing “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson. Feb. 9: Glue Gun Gang: Heart Sunglasses Case. 10:30 a.m. Shakespeare Room. Feb. 11: Purl @ the Plaza. 1-5 p.m. Library Plaza.

Feb. 21: Raging Readers: Middle School Bookclub. 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 12: Lamont Landers. 2:30 p.m. Library Plaza.

Feb. 28: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead: Engineering – Boats. 4 p.m. Construct boats out of various materials and sail them to capture treasure. Ages 5-11.

Feb. 12: Glue Gun Gang: Heart Sunglasses Case. 3 p.m. Shakespeare Room.


Feb. 13: Helping Hands. 3-8:30 p.m. Nonfiction Department. Drop in to make newspaper rolls for a local humane society. Teens and adults.

Feb. 14: Valentine’s Lip Sync Battle. 6:30 p.m. Ages 14-18.

Feb. 15: No Reading Required. Noon. Theatre Level Meeting Rooms. Aaron Burr and

Stardome Comedy Club Feb. 9: Medium Cindy Kaza. 7:30 p.m. $20. Feb. 10-12: Rod Man. 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Friday, 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Sunday. $23-$28. Feb. 14-15: Darren Knight (aka Southern Mama). 7:30 p.m. $25.

Feb. 17-18: George Wallace. 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Friday, 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Saturday. $35. Feb. 21-26: Cowboy Bill Martin. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Sunday. $9.75$16.50.

Area Events Feb. 4: Birmingham Winter Beer Festival. 3 p.m. BJCC Exhibition Halls. $40-$85. Visit Feb. 10: Brian McKnight. 8 p.m. BJCC Concert Hall. Special guests Kelly Price and Chantae Moore. $55-$85. Visit Feb. 11-12: Mercedes Marathon. 9 a.m. Saturday, Regions Superhero 5K, 10 a.m. The Bell Center EIP Children’s Run, 11 a.m. Kids Marathon. Sunday, 7:03 a.m. Marathon,

half marathon and marathon relay begin. Visit Feb. 17: Eric Church: Holdin’ My Own Tour. 8 p.m. Legacy Arena at the BJCC. $18$89. Visit Feb. 18: Katt Williams. 8 p.m. Legacy Arena at the BJCC. $54-$101. Visit Feb. 27: Amos Lee. 7:30 p.m. Alabama Theatre. $27.50-$57.50. Visit

Alexander Hamilton: History and the Musical. Feb. 16: I Love the 00s Trivia. 6:30 p.m. Library Plaza. Feb. 17: After Hours @ the Plaza: Bingo! 7 p.m. Library Plaza. Join us for a library-themed bingo night. Feb. 18: Write Club. 10:30 a.m. Fitzgerald Room. Share your literary works and network with other aspiring writers. Feb. 18: Insatiable Readers: “Relationships, For Better or Worse.” 10:30 a.m. Plaza Reading Room. Feed your need for nonfiction titles and bookish conversations. Feb. 19: Wild Weather: Adventures of Storm Chasers. 3 p.m. Theatre Level Meeting Rooms. Go behind the scenes of ABC 33/40's weather reports. John Brown and Brian Peters share incredible stories and video clips from chasing tornadoes to storm spotting. Feb. 20: Neuroscience Café: Treating Obesity. 6:30 p.m. Theatre Level Meeting Rooms. Presented by the UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center. Free. Feb. 21: French Conversation Club. 7 p.m. Library Plaza. Practice your French and celebrate the culture. Feb. 22-23: Zoe Speaks. 7:30 p.m. The Library Theatre. Tickets $25. Feb. 23: English Conversation Club. 6:30 p.m. p.m. Library Plaza. Informal English practice for speakers of other languages. Feb. 23: Nighttime Nonfiction Book Group. 7 p.m. Allen Board Room. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli. Feb. 27: Monday at the Movies. 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Hoover Sun February 2017  
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