City, school system plan more than $40 million in capital projects in 2023
By JON ANDERSON
The Hoover school board and city of Hoover in 2023 plan to embark on at least $40 million worth of capital projects, officials said.
The timelines and costs for capital projects are very fluid, so the dollar amount is subject to change and does not include projects for which costs were not yet known.
The most expensive project the two entities have going this year is a $16.5 million performing arts center the school system is building at Hoover High. The 36,000-square-foot facility is being built right next to the new band room at Hoover High and will seat 940 people in the new auditorium, compared to the current 270-seat theater.
School officials broke ground on the project at the end of September, and Blalock Building Co. expects the job to take 16 to 17 months to complete.
Meanwhile, plans for a 10-classroom addition at Bluff Park Elementary School have been put on hold. Superintendent Dee Fowler said the school has experienced an unexpected decline in enrollment.
The 10-classroom addition remains in the school system’s five-year plan, and money ($4.5 million) is still allocated for it, but “we will continue to gather enrollment data and monitor,” Fowler said.
Another project put on hold is an estimated $2 million worth of upgrades to the bathrooms and concession stands at the on-campus football stadium at Hoover High.
Bluff Park women form kickball league
By JON ANDERSON
For the past four years, women in Bluff Park have had their own whiffle ball league, but this winter they’re taking on another sport — kickball.
One hundred and twenty women signed up for the Bluff Park Women’s Kickball League, which is scheduled to play games on Sunday afternoons from Jan. 8 to March 12.
Most of the women are participants in the whiffle ball league, but 36 of them did not play the sport, said Rachael Taylor, the founder and director of the kickball league.
The ladies who did play whiffle ball were able to stay with their teammates, but not all the players from that league signed up, so more women were able to join, Taylor said. Some of the teams needed to pick up one or two players, while others needed more, she said. Some wanted to start from scratch and form a new team. There was a draft for the newcomers, Taylor said.
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Natalie Fleming, with the 2 Legit 2 Kick kickball team, pitches the ball during a practice. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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Above: Construction is underway on the new fine arts center at Hoover High School on Dec. 8. Photo by Erin Nelson. Below: A rendering of the center slated to be open at Hoover High School by January 2024. Rendering courtesy of Lathan Architects.
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Editor’s Note By Jon Anderson
The Hallmark Christmas movies are over, and ….. Oh wait, they don’t ever stop showing those, do they?
Well, the Christmas season is now over, and it’s time to begin a new year.
In this edition, we give you a heads up or a reminder about some of the projects the city of Hoover and Hoover school system plan to undertake in 2023, including a new $15.4 million performing arts center at Hoover High School, a new fire station along U.S. 31 in the Green Valley area and conversion of 11 athletic fields on city and school system property to artificial turf.
City officials also hope to soon reach an agreement for the creation of a new citywide fine arts center. Serious negotiations have been ongoing for a long time with owners of the Patton Creek shopping center for an arts center to be built there, and city officials hope to be able to announce an agreement in the next
Another highlight of this edition is the cover story on the formation of a new women’s kickball league in Bluff Park.
It’s another great example of ways people in Hoover build community and make it a better place to live.
There are lots of examples of community building in Hoover. Many of the churches do a great job of bringing
people together around common interests and beliefs, frequently through small groups.
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Others are building community through the arts, service projects or efforts to expand cultural horizons among different nationalities. But no one can deny that sports are a huge community builder in Hoover, whether it’s the youth baseball team, adult h whiffle ball leagues or this new kickball league.
Work is important, but it’s also important to get together and have fun with friends — old and new. Hopefully, each of you can find a place to plug in and build relationships with your neighbors. Happy new year!
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A4 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
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Students from Gwin Elementary and Rocky Ridge Elementary sing holiday carols during the annual Hoover tree lighting ceremony at the Hoover Public Library. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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City 3 chosen to
By JON ANDERSON
The Hoover City Council recently appointed three people to fill vacancies on the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, Library Board and Arts Council.
PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
The council chose Hunter Bridwell to fill a spot on the Parks and Recreation Board. He is a project manager for American Cast Iron Pipe Co. who grew up in Hoover and recently moved back from McCalla with his wife. They live in the Green Valley community.
Bridwell said that, after moving to Hoover in 1993, he grew up playing sports in the city’s youth recreation leagues, including baseball at Shades Mountain Park, Hoover Sports Park Central and Hoover Sports Park East; basketball at the Hoover Recreation Center; and soccer at the Riverchase Sports Park. He made some lifelong friendships as a result of those experiences, he said.
“The parks of Hoover were where some of the greatest times of my childhood were spent, and I have always felt the parks are at the center of the community,” he said in a letter to the Hoover City Council offering himself for service.
As an adult, he has coached youth basketball and youth flag football teams based out of the Hoover YMCA and youth soccer for the Vestavia Soccer Club. Bridwell also currently serves as president of the Birmingham Track Club and has been director or co-director of two of the four races presented by the club.
He has worked with Red Mountain Park and the Freshwater Land Trust, trying to expand trail systems in the Birmingham-Hoover metro area and, as a new park board member, would like to assist with efforts to expand and build
vacancies on park, library, arts boards
more trails in Hoover, connecting them to Hoover neighborhoods and other trail systems in the metro area, he said.
Bridwell has both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in marketing from the University of Alabama.
The council chose Terry Lamar to fill a seat on the Library Board being vacated by Cherinita Ladd-Reese.
Lamar since April of 2022 has been serving as chief administrative officer for Hoover City Schools. Before that, he was the school district’s director of equity and educational initiatives since the fall of 2018, and prior to that he was principal of Bluff Park Elementary School for three years. He has been in education for 20 years and with Hoover City Schools since 2006, including stints at Berry and Bumpus middle schools and South Shades Crest Elementary.
Lamar said he wants to serve on the Hoover Library Board because he and his three children have been library users and he believes in the
library’s mission of providing positive experiences for all people in the community. It’s more than just about reading books, he said.
Also, he went through Leadership Hoover with the library’s technology director, and her passion for the library motivated him to want to contribute as well, he said.
Lamar has a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Alabama, a master’s degree in school counseling from the University of West Alabama and a doctorate in educational leadership from Samford University.
The council chose Tracy Dismukes to fill Julie Preskitt’s spot on the Hoover Arts Council.
Dismukes is a Realtor with ARC Realty and lives off Chapel Lane near Gwin Elementary School.
She has been heavily involved with the arts in the Hoover school system the past seven years, serving as publicity chairwoman for the Hoover High School band boosters the past
three years and two years as treasurer of the Hoover High School choir boosters.
She was a vocal advocate for the new performing arts center that is under construction at Hoover High and said she would love to be a part of the creation of an arts center for the entire city if that idea comes to fruition.
With her son being active in the arts, she knows what the arts mean to the community and believes an arts center would be a wonderful amenity to add to the quality of life, she said. As a Realtor, she also knows that arts and entertainment offerings are a big draw for a city, she said.
Before becoming a Realtor in 2019, Dismukes worked more than 27 years as owner of the Collage designer consignment store. She also worked 12 years as an internal management consultant for SouthTrust Bank.
Dismukes has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Auburn University and a master’s degree in business administration from Samford University. She also served seven years on the Hoover Parent Teacher Council, four or five of them as an officer.
A6 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
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Left: Hunter Bridwell was appointed as a member of the Hoover Parks and Recreation Board. Middle: Terry Lamar is a new member of the Hoover Library Board. Right: Tracy Dismukes was appointed as a member of the Hoover Arts Council. Photos by Jon Anderson.
By Frank V. Brocato
Happy New Year! We’ve been blessed to see the start of another year, and I hope you and your families have great success in every area of your lives in the coming months!
As the new year begins, I think about the many partnerships the city has that help make it the gem it is today. One of the greatest partnerships is the one we have with the Hoover City Schools system.
Frank V. Brocato
That was recently demonstrated when the two entities entered into an agreement to improve our city parks and fields. Together, we will add artificial turf at seven city parks, along with the varsity baseball and softball fields at Hoover High and Spain Park High. It’s a $9 million investment that will yield big dividends for our athletes for years to come.
I also want to congratulate our schools on a recent honor they have received. According to state report cards for 2022, Hoover schools have achieved exceptional learning gains since the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, every school in the district earned an “A” for the 2021-22 academic year. Hoover is one of only six systems in the state to have earned that distinction. Also, the district as a whole earned an “A.”
I congratulate all of the students, teachers, staff, faculty and administrators, along with parents, for the hard work you each contributed to reach this high mark. I know it took a lot of hard work, perseverance, determination and focus to achieve this goal, but you did it! It shows why our system is the best in the state!
As in years past, my door continues to remain open to you, and my staff is here to help, should you need us. We are just a phone call away and happy to serve.
Police department earns national accreditation
By JON ANDERSON
After more than three years, the Hoover Police Department has earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
The accreditation indicates that the department meets 180 internationally accepted standards for law enforcement work. The department had to undergo a thorough review of its policies, procedures, equipment, facilities and community engagement practices and document that it is following its policies and procedures.
Nationally, only about 5% of all law enforcement agencies have achieved accreditation, and Hoover is among just 13 municipal law enforcement agencies in Alabama with CALEA accreditation.
“We were excited about it,” police Chief Nick Derzis said. “It’s been a very
rigorous deal, especially with the pandemic in the middle of this thing. The main thing we want to do is — we want to be sure we are giving the citizens of Hoover the type of services they expect, and I want to make sure that we meet and exceed the expectations of the citizens we serve every day.”
The Hoover Police Department enrolled in the accreditation process in May 2019. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Alabama in 2020, that set the department back on everything it was trying to get done, Derzis said. It was a tough time for everyone, he said.
Lt. Matt Tomberlin was the department’s point person on its accreditation efforts most of the time, but he retired in August, and Lt. Katy Webb took over those responsibilities and saw it through to completion. It’s a full-time job keeping up with all the documentation, Derzis
The Hoover Police Department initially was seeking to achieve advanced accreditation, which would have required the department to meet 458 standards of excellence. But with the delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the department decided to seek the tier 1 accreditation, which involved 180 standards of excellence, Derzis said.
Department leaders will talk about whether they want to seek the tier 2 advanced accreditation, but “for right now, we’re happy with where we are,” Derzis said.
For the next three years, the department will have to file annual reports with CALEA to show that it still is meeting standards and maintain its tier 1 accreditation status, Derzis said. After four years, it must go through a more rigorous process to get reaccredited.
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Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis introduces the Hoover Police Officer of the Year and Detention Officer of the Year at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Photo by Jon Anderson.
New council member Driver discusses priorities
By JON ANDERSON
Hoover’s newly appointed City Council member, Khristi Driver, said some of her most important priorities are community redevelopment, making the city more attractive to young people and making a city performing arts center a reality.
The Hoover City Council on Nov. 21 chose Driver, a 47-year-old attorney from The Preserve community, to replace Mike Shaw on the council.
Shaw was elected to represent Alabama House District 47 in the state Legislature on Nov. 8 and had to resign his post on the City Council immediately.
In accordance with state law, it was the Hoover City Council’s responsibility to appoint a new member, and the council voted 6-0 in favor of Driver. Driver is the first woman on the Hoover City Council since Mari Morrison, also an attorney, lost her seat to John Lyda 10 years ago.
Driver, when asked about her priorities as a council member, said she’s only one person but does have some things she would like to see happen in the city.
Driver, who has served as president of the new Downtown Redevelopment Authority since it was created last year, said there are certain areas of the city that could really benefit from redevelopment, such as Lorna Road and U.S. 31 in the Green Valley area. Bluff Park and Meadow Brook could use some redevelopment, too, but to a lesser extent, she said.
Also, while different parts of Hoover have different styles and purposes, it could be helpful to have some architectural guidelines that help give Hoover communities a more cohesive look, Driver said.
Second, Driver said she would love to see Hoover become a more attractive place for young people, so they’ll want to live and work in the city when they finish their education. There are some projects already in the works,
such as the Village Green amphitheater and entertainment district at Stadium Trace Village, that should help in that effort, but Hoover needs more things like that, Driver said.
“What is there for young people to do in Hoover?” she said. “Right now, they can go to a movie, and they can go to eat or they can go sit in a parking lot somewhere.”
It would be nice to have more entertainment options, such as the former Galleria Fun Country complex, which decades ago offered a go-cart track, carpet golf and batting cages at its location on Alabama 150, she said. “It was a really fun, cool place for teenagers,” she said. “A safe thing for them to do.”
Third, Driver said she would love to see the idea for a citywide performing arts center become a reality and be executed in a responsible way.
“That helps build community and provides an opportunity for us to bring in entertainment, music and other performing arts,” she said. “Both of my children are musicians, so this is something that’s near and dear to my heart.”
TAXES AND DEBT
When asked how she feels about taxes, Driver said she doesn’t like paying them but knows they are necessary. She’s not prepared to say she would never support new taxes or an
increase in an existing tax, she said.
“There are a lot of factors that go into thinking through those kinds of decisions,” she said. If additional taxes are ever needed, “we have to make sure that’s done in a prudent way and in the right time,” she said.
On the flip side, there may be some taxes that should be lowered at times, she said. A lot of people are challenged with current economic conditions, and some people are calling for some relief from grocery taxes, she said. She would want to examine that idea more closely before making such a decision, she said.
Hoover officials also in recent months have been talking about possibly going back to
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The Hoover City Council selected Khristi Driver, a 47-year-old attorney from The Preserve community, to replace Mike Shaw on the council.
Photos by Jon Anderson.
the bond market to borrow additional money.
Driver said she’s not opposed to debt when it’s done in a responsible way and with a strategy in place that’s good for the bottom line of the city and could pay for itself over the long term. She would have to study any such proposal before coming to a conclusion, she said.
With schools playing such a big role in the Hoover community, Driver also was asked what her criteria would be for choosing school board members.
She said she would look for people who are thoughtful and listen to a variety of perspectives before making decisions and who are willing to be creative and compromise on issues when necessary to achieve the greater good.
She would look for people who are willing to ask hard questions and challenge proposals brought before them to make sure the ideas will help achieve desired results, she said. As a council member, she won’t try to dictate results
on particular issues but instead would look for people who have good, analytical minds to make the best decisions as they come up, she said.
LEGAL, CORPORATE EXPERIENCE
Lyda, who is now president of the council, said Driver brings a wealth of legal and corporate executive experience to the body.
“Her business acumen is unparalleled in the community, which will really help the city as we continue to grow strategically and diversify revenues,” Lyda said. “Her years of service in the community speak for themselves, and she’s always served in leadership positions in those different organizations, so she’s going to be a very good addition.”
Driver has been an associate general counsel for Southern Nuclear since 2018. She also has served as the company’s compliance and concerns director and chief of staff to the Southern
Co. general counsel.
From 2011 to 2014, she was an attorney or managing attorney for Southern Company Services. Prior to joining Southern Co. in 2011, she was an equity partner at the law firm of Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, practicing civil defense litigation.
In addition to serving as president of the Hoover Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Driver also serves on the board of directors of Leadership Hoover, Collaborative Solutions (a group that focuses on fair housing access) and Page Turners Make Great Learners (a group focusing on literacy).
Driver formerly served as president of the Hoover City Schools Foundation and is a past board member for the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce and Birmingham Bar Foundation and past executive committee member for the Birmingham Bar Association.
She has a bachelor’s degree in political
science from the University of Alabama and a law degree from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.
Driver has lived in Hoover for 17 years and has two children: Steven, a 17-year-old senior at Hoover High School, and Sophia, a 13-yearold seventh grader at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
Councilman Steve McClinton said Driver is well respected among her peers and her professional abilities will come in handy with the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission, to which she also was appointed. Also, “everyone wanted to have a female [on the council],” McClinton said.
Lyda said it’s certainly important to have representation of all groups on the council.
“We’ve always been mindful of that, not only in council appointments, but any board appointments,” Lyda said. “Certainly when we found a highly qualified individual who happened to be a female, that certainly played a part.”
Driver said she’s excited to be a representative for women in the city. “It’s nice to be one of the guys, and I do consider myself that way, but I think it’s nice to bring a different perspective,” she said.
She said it’s a big honor to be chosen to serve on the council and have the support of the mayor and his staff, as well as have an opportunity to earn the trust of more residents in the city.
Driver said she decided to apply for the council seat because she’s not getting any younger.
“I’ve reached that point in my career where I’ve really started to think about what my legacy will be and what I would like for people to say about me one day when I’m gone, and service is one of those things that matters a lot to me and my family,” she said. “To have this kind of an opportunity present itself really is just the kind of thing that doesn’t come along more than once, so it just felt like the right time.”
Driver said she has seen this City Council and mayoral administration work well together to accomplish things. “I’d like to be a part of the continued momentum and hopefully bring new perspectives to the council based on my background and experience that might be different than the way that others have seen things in the past or viewed things in the past.”
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Jefferson County Circuit Judge Reginald Jeter swears in Khristi Driver as a new member of the Hoover City Council at Hoover City Hall on Nov. 21.
Business Business Happenings
Greg Milam in November opened Camp Bow Wow, a dog day care, boarding and grooming facility at 2153 Clearbrook Road in Hoover. The 7,400-square-foot facility features three indoor and outdoor play areas, 49 suites and cabins for overnight stays, plus live web cams so pet parents can check in on their dogs any time. The facility also offers a range of grooming options and has employees who are trained in pet CPR, dog health and dog behaviors.
La Paz Restaurant and Cantina opened at 3623 Market St. in Ross Bridge on Nov. 15. 659-202-0123, eatatlapaz.com/ross-bridge
Certified financial planner Joe Prokop in December opened a new Edward Jones office in Suite 250 of an office building at 2279 Valleydale Road. Prokop is moving from an existing Edward Jones office at 5336 Stadium Trace Parkway, Suite 114, in Trace Crossings, which will remain an active office as well. 205-573-0228, edwardjones.com
Napa Auto Parts has opened at 1775 Montgomery Highway in the Riverchase Crossings shopping center between Big Lots and Legends Barber Shop. 659-238-0615, napaonline.com
Cheese restaurant chain in Hoover at 2503
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John Hawkins Parkway and Preserve Parkway. I Heart Mac and Cheese serves a variety of health-conscious bases including quinoa, broccoli, cauliflower, gluten-free pasta, plant-based protein, vegan and dairy-free alternatives, as well as an extensive array of traditional mac & cheese and sandwich options. Guests select a base along with a choice of 10 proteins, 11 vegetables and nine kinds of cheese.
Crazy Crepes has opened in The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center at 1845 Montgomery Highway, Suite 221, between Salon 31 and Angel Spa. The shop serves crepes, lemonade, boba tea, mocha, triple chocolate cake, cake pops, pumpkin spice bars and brownies. 270-320-9854
The Falafel Cafe in downtown Birmingham has opened a second location in Hoover in The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center at 1837 Montgomery Highway, Suite 103. The cafe serves Mediterranean food with a menu that includes falafels, baba ganoush, pitas, laffas, rice plates, mujaddara, hummus, salads, fries, grape leaves, baklava and maamoul. The cafe is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
Bheem Pasala and partner Mahesh Wahwani have opened Hoover Indo-Pak Groceries in The Centre at Riverchase shopping center at 1694 Montgomery Highway, Suite 132. It’s their first venture into the grocery business. About 70% of the store is Indian food, and about 30% is Pakistani food, said Pasala, who is the operator. Their grocery features certain foods that are particular to south India, as well as a halal meat section. It is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. 205-848-2526
Precision Tactical Arms held its grand opening celebration Dec. 6 for its new location at 105 Inverness Corners. It is located between Fresenius Medical Care and Verizon. 205-848-8212, ptarms.com
The Guthrie’s chicken restaurant has opened a new location in the former Zaxby’s spot at 4629 U.S. 280 S. 205-834-8164, guthrieschicken.com
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Birmingham Wellness Massage has opened a second Hoover location at 2236 Cahaba Valley Drive, Suite 101, and plans to have a ribbon cutting and grand opening Jan. 5. 205-224-9406, birminghamwellnessmassage.com
Capella Pizzeria has opened in the Inverness Village shopping center at 4700 U.S. 280, Suite 13. 205-438-6108
that leverage military experience. Regions established a career transition program called BRAVE – Building Regions Associate Veteran Experience – specifically for the purpose of supporting veterans and military spouses during their transitions to the civilian workforce. The bank is also a member of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, a Department of Defense career program connecting military spouses with hundreds of member employers who commit to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses. Further, Regions works with the national program Hiring Our Heroes, which helps connect transitioning service members and their families with career opportunities. 256-562-2200, regions.com
Burn Boot Camp had a soft opening for its new Meadow Brook location at 1801 Doug Baker Blvd. in December and is having its grand opening throughout the month of January. The head trainer is Annie Veal, and support trainers are Lindsey Byrd and Brittany Swearengen. The head “burn ambassador” at the front desk is Hannah Ford. 205-903-8154, burnbootcamp.com
The Naaman Clinic, a dermatology and skin cancer surgery clinic at 100 Concourse Parkway, Suite 265, in Riverchase, is building a new office in the Tattersall Park development near the intersection of U.S. 280 and Alabama 119. Most of the staff is expected to relocate to the new office as their primary worksite, but the Riverchase office will remain open as well, said Alyssa Cosby, a receptionist at the clinic. The target timeframe for opening the new office is next fall, Cosby said. The Naaman Clinic specializes in medical laser and cosmetic procedures. The clinic also offers services at other doctors’ offices in Trussville, Montgomery, Gadsden and Sylacauga. 205-453-4195, naamanclinic.com
RELOCATIONS AND RENOVATIONS
Buff City Soap, offering soaps, bath bombs, laundry soap and more has relocated from their previous location at 5631 U.S. 280 to a new space in Lee Branch Shopping Center. The store has other locations in Hoover and Mountain Brook. 205-730-9199, buffcitysoap.com
The Desi Brothers Farmers Market in Suite 109 of The Plaza at Riverchase shopping center at 1853 Montgomery Highway has leased another 5,000 square feet of space next door in Suite 103, said Mayur Patel, one of three owners and the manager of the Hoover location. The space is currently being used as a storage area, but the plan is to expand the retail shopping area of the store into that space, Patel said. 205-733-7112, desibrothers.com
RealtySouth has closed its office at 1220 Alford Ave., and some of the agents from that office have relocated to the RealtySouth office at 2409 Acton Road. 205-978-9000, realtysouthotm.com
NEWS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
The Hoover City Council gave Biscuit Belly a license to sell alcoholic beverages at 1031 Brock’s Gap Parkway, Suite 157, in the The Village at Brock’s Gap shopping center. biscuitbelly.com/biscuit-belly-brocks-gap
Waverly Advisors, formerly WA Asset Management, recently announced the acquisition of Sandifer Wealth Management of Mobile, marking its fourth location in the state. This will be Waverly’s ninth office in the southeast, as the firm looks to continue its expansion moving into the new year. Waverly Advisors Birmingham firm serves Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, Hoover, and other surrounding areas. 205-871-3334, waverly-advisors.com
Regions, which has an operations center at 2090 Office Parkway Circle and numerous branches in Hoover, has been designated as a 2023 Military Friendly Employer and 2023 Military Spouse Friendly Employer by Military Friendly, an organization that measures the commitment of companies to create professional opportunities
The owners of Hoover Tactical Firearms, Gene Smith and Thomas Wright, have sold the building where Hoover Tactical operates to Vestavia Hills-based Sanders Capital Partners for $3.2 million. However, Hoover Tactical immediately signed a 20-year lease on the property and plans to stay in business there, Smith said. 205-822-3600, hoovertactical.com
The Riverchase Galleria won the 2022 Exceptional Heart Award from Heart Gallery Alabama, a nonprofit that connects youth in foster care with caring adults who provide them with stability and guidance by being mentors, foster parents or adoptive parents. The Galleria has been partnering with Heart Gallery Alabama since 2014 by allowing the nonprofit to post a display with photos of foster children awaiting adoption or in need of other support. Since that time, at least 30 children have been adopted as a result of their photos being seen in the Galleria, Senior General Manager Mike White said. 205-985-3019, riverchasegalleria.com
Dr. Kelsey McCluskey, an optometrist, and Dr. Jessica Duddleston, an ophthalmologist, have joined the staff of the Alabama Vision Center, which operates at 7191 Cahaba Valley Road, Suite 203, in Hoover and 3928 Montclair Road in Mountain Brook. McCluskey’s clinical services include: comprehensive routine eye care, treatment and management of ocular diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, dry eyes, glaucoma, and binocular vision disorders. McCluskey also fits specialty contact lenses, including scleral lenses and orthokeratology lenses for myopia control. Duddleston is a comprehensive ophthalmologist specializing in cataract surgery, laser eye procedures, medical and surgical glaucoma, diabetic eye exams, and macular degeneration, among other things. 205-991-2021, alabamavisioncenter.com
Megan Scarano joined the ABC 33/40 news team as a weekend anchor and reporter in October. Scarano previously spent two years at a sister station in New Bern, North Carolina, as a multimedia journalist and weekend anchor. She is originally from West Virginia and graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and dance. 205-403-3340, abc3340.com
Joseph Bolen is now serving as the practice manager at OrthoAlabama Spine & Sports at 1801 Gadsden Highway in Trussville and 118 Mars Hill Road in Hoover. Bolen joins the practice with over 15 years of diverse experience in healthcare administration in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. Prior to joining OrthoAlabama Spine & Sports, Bolen spent a decade serving as an executive at area reproductive medicine clinics. His expertise is broad in scope, and he has served in multiple capacities in different areas of medicine throughout the region. Bolen brings with him a host of practical knowledge in administration to help OrthoAlabama Spine & Sports better serve its patients and community. 205-228-7600, orthoalabama.com
On Tap Sports Cafe in November closed its location at the Rivechase Galleria at 3340 Galleria Circle. The sports bar and restaurant had been on the mall campus since 2008 and expanded to a 6,000-square-foot outparcel in 2015. The chain’s locations in Inverness Corners, Liberty Park and Fultondale remain open. ontapsportscafe.com
A10 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
NASCAR driver Bobby Reuse and Bonita Riddle opened the first Alabama location of the Florida-based I Heart Mac and
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By JON ANDERSON
When Hope Ausley found out this fall that her 16-year-old cat, Simon, didn’t have much more time to live, she made the difficult decision to put him down.
But like many cats, Simon didn’t like getting into a car, so Ausley and her husband, Francis, took advantage of a new Hoover-based business that provides euthanasia services at pets’ homes.
They called Dr. Lindsay Floyd of Compassionate Crossings, who came out to the Ausleys’ Cahaba Heights home about 10 p.m. one night and gave Simon a peaceful transition into death in the comfort of his own home.
“We were able to hold Simon, have him in his heating pad and blanket,” Ausley said. “We sat in his favorite chair by the fireplace.”
It by far beat having Simon get agitated about having to get into a car and go to a veterinarian’s office, she said. “It was a real blessing.”
Also, Floyd was absolutely wonderful and didn’t rush the process, Ausley said. “We were able to spend time with him in the end.”
Floyd, who grew up in Hoover and moved back to Bluff Park in 2012, works as an associate veterinarian at the Lincoln Veterinarian Clinic in Talladega County. She started her Compassionate Crossings business in October as a side business to help meet a need for both pet owners and vet clinics, she said.
Putting a pet to sleep is an incredibly intense time for most pet owners, and many people like the idea of letting their pet transition into death in a calm, quiet, comfortable environment to
which the pet is accustomed, instead of taking their pet to an unfamiliar office with a lot of strangers and unfamiliar animals around, Floyd said.
Also, it’s difficult to get some animals to a vet’s office, she said. Cats usually are terrified of vet clinics, and some dogs are heavy, aggressive or nonmobile, she said. Sometimes, pet owners who are disabled have difficulty getting out, she said.
Floyd said she isn’t trying to compete with vet clinics but instead provide a service for them as well. She only makes her appointments after hours (usually 6-10 p.m.) or on weekends or holidays, all times most vet clinics are closed, she said.
Also, providing in-home euthanasia service is not really a moneymaker for vets, she said. And with manpower shortages, it’s hard for vets to make time to leave the office, she said.
When she opened in October, Floyd sent
letters to vet clinics in communities south of Birmingham, letting them know she was available to help, and vets surprisingly have been the source of most of her referrals, she said.
She had about 25 clients in her first two months, which was more than she expected, she said. Compassionate Crossings, while based in Hoover, also is licensed to do business in Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and other parts of Jefferson and Shelby counties, she said. As her business grows, she hopes to extend her reach into other communities, she said.
Compassionate Crossings does not provide any medical, surgical or hospice services — only euthanasia and body aftercare services, she said.
Floyd graduated from Hoover High School in 1999, got her doctorate in veterinary medicine from Auburn University in 2007, completed an internship in medicine and surgery in North Carolina and then practiced for four years in South Carolina before moving back to Hoover in 2012.
She has two dogs and two cats.
Lane and Kathryn Hagan, a Mountain Brook couple, in November found themselves in need of euthanasia services and called Floyd to help. Their 15-year-old cat, Stella, had beaten cancer in 2020 but had gotten sick again and was going downhill fast, and they didn’t want to take Stella to a vet clinic, Lane Hagan said. They wanted Stella’s final moments to be peaceful and easy, and they also wanted their kids — ages 8, 6 and 5 — to be there to say goodbye, he said.
Going through it at home was easier for everyone, Lane said. “You don’t want to go out and have an emotional experience in front of other people if you don’t have to,” he said.
Lloyd was very professional and compassionate and talked to the children in a way they could understand what was happening, he said. “It was a very pleasant experience,” Lane said. “We would definitely recommend her to anybody going through the same situation.”
For more information, visit their website compassionate-crossings.com.
A12 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
New Hoover-based business provides in-home euthanasia for pets
Left: Ross Scruggs and Dr. Lindsay Floyd sit on their patio swing with Jack, center, the couple’s 12-year-old dog, and Dave, a 6-year-old sphynx cat, at their home.
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Above: Compassionate Crossings, an athome end-of-life pet service, offers families a variety of options of remembrance for their pet through pet cremation packages. Photos by Erin Nelson.
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New Greystone medical practice helps patients deal with chronic pain
By GRACE THORNTON
Dr. Joshua Meyer said for him, the practice of pain medicine is very personal.
At first, he got into the field because of practical reasons — he studied obstetrics and gynecology, then shifted into anesthesiology because the schedule allowed him more flexibility to be with family.
“I found, however, that I missed my dayto-day patient contact and continuity of care,” Meyer said. “I then found out that pain medicine was a board-certified subspecialty of anesthesiology. When I realized that pain medicine meant caring for patients on a continual basis, I was intrigued, and by God’s hand, I got into it.”
And then about six months into opening his practice, he hurt his own back.
“It changed the way I thought about how pain medicine, pain management is approached overall,” Meyer said.
That was in 2016. Now he’s seven years into the work of helping people manage pain, and his practice — Legacy Pain & Spine Specialists — has recently opened a new office at U.S. 280 and Hugh Daniel Drive after having an established office in Anniston for years.
At his practice, Meyer — who did his medical studies at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and at Emory University in Atlanta — provides interventional pain medicine by treating the source, not just medicating it. Their office provides a variety of state-of-the-art treatment options to help relieve chronic pain issues such as neck pain, back pain and joint pain.
They know experiencing pain can be disorienting, and they love helping people have more quality of life again.
“We listen to our patients,” Meyer said. “It’s not necessarily what the X-rays or MRIs show, though that can be very helpful information. It’s 90% listening to what they are dealing with.”
He said there are five ways for people to deal with chronic pain. First, they can live with it. Next, they could try therapy such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, aqua massage or cognitive therapy. Third, they could try medications, whether over the counter or prescription. Fourth, they could try more aggressive therapy, such as interventions or injections. The final option is surgery.
“I tell my patients, ‘You probably came to
see me because you don’t want to just live with it,’” Meyer said.
From there, he’s able to put together a treatment plan from the middle three options to find something that works. He said Legacy Pain & Spine Specialists is a comprehensive practice that takes all options into consideration to see what works best for each individual patient.
They aren’t lopsided toward one treatment,
such as medication or injections.
“I advise them on medications, injections and therapy,” Meyer said, noting that they are able to do many of those treatments right there in the office. “I do that with some bias as a physician living with some pain myself. It is ultimately very personal, and that’s why I’m passionate about it.”
For more information, visit legacypain andspine.com.
A14 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
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Dr. Joshua Meyer, an interventional pain medicine specialist, performs a lumbar spine procedure at Legacy Pain & Spine Specialists on Dec. 5 Photo by Erin Nelson.
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Birmingham Islamic Society donates halal chicken for UAB students, faculty
By JON ANDERSON
When Rafeka Hossain came from Bangladesh to Birmingham to start a master’s program in public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in December 2021, she and her husband didn’t have any transportation to get around.
As a result, they struggled to get access to shop for groceries, especially to find the halal meat required by their Muslim faith, she said.
Halal meat cannot be cut from the hindquarters of an animal, and there are certain guidelines that must be met during the slaughter of animals.
The Hossains had trouble getting halal meat because about the only place they could find it was at a market in Hoover or in Atlanta, and they rarely found time to make it to either place, Hossain said. UAB provided transportation to the Walmart on Lakeshore Parkway in Homewood, but there was no halal meat there, she said.
They also received food assistance from Blazer Kitchen, which helps students and faculty in need, but Blazer Kitchen also had no halal meat.
So, as a result, the Hossains and their two children, ages 10 and 11, turned to a vegetarian diet for about three or four months. The Hossains were not alone.
The organizers of Blazer Kitchen knew a lot of the international students who used their program were not accessing the frozen meat that was available, said Lisa Higginbotham, UAB’s Benevolent Fund manager who oversees the Blazer Kitchen program. They didn’t realize
why this was happening until a volunteer did a survey in March 2022 to find out what shoppers wanted that wasn’t being offered.
Overwhelmingly, the response was halal chicken, Higginbotham said.
Higginbotham reached out to Mary Bodine Al-Sharif, an assistant professor in the UAB
School of Education who is a member of the Hoover-based Birmingham Islamic Society, to ask for guidance on obtaining halal chicken.
The Birmingham Islamic Society immediately jumped on the chance to help. A single donor agreed to pay the cost of providing 800 pounds of halal chicken a month to Blazer
Kitchen, and since July about 150 of the 750 or so UAB students who use Blazer Kitchen receive halal chicken each month, Higginbotham said. Another 25 or so UAB employees get the halal chicken through Blazer Kitchen as well, she said.
The chicken is delivered by Magic City Harvest, and volunteers show up to help divide the halal chicken into bags and place it in a freezer to be distributed throughout the month, Higginbotham said. Blazer Kitchen even obtained a new freezer to keep the halal chicken separate from other frozen meat, she said.
The staff for Blazer Kitchen gets assistance from volunteers, sometimes from the Birmingham Islamic Society and sometimes from Islamic student groups on campus or other shoppers who want to make sure everybody gets the nutrients they need, Higginbotham said.
“It’s just been an incredible partnership,” she said. “It has been a wonderful opportunity to build community and understanding and make sure every part of the UAB family has nutritious food.”
Ashfaq Taufique, the president emeritus of the Birmingham Islamic Society who played an instrumental part in securing the donation, said this is just another example of the group living out the principles of their faith in action and not just words.
They will continue to do it as long as there is a need and as long as the donor is able and willing, he said.
Hossain said she and her family are grateful. “I really appreciate their efforts.”
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Clockwise from bottom left: Volunteers Rafeka Hossain, Lexi Long, Grace Watson, Destini Elston and Itopa Jimoh work together to portion out a donation of halal chicken from the Birmingham Islamic Society at UAB’s Blazer Kitchen on Dec. 15. The Birmingham Islamic Society donates 800 pounds of halal chicken each month to the Blazer Kitchen, a food pantry at UAB that is open to students, faculty, staff and patients at UAB’s hospital system. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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A18 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
Above left: Monica Abbott ducks as her husband, Jeff, sprays her with a beer, while Team USA players and family members celebrate their 3-2 victory over Japan in The World Games gold medal consolation game, held at the Hoover Met on July 13. Above right: Erin Colbaugh, the new director for Hoover Parks and Recreation, stands on the jungle gym at Hoover Central Park.
Left: The Hoover student section during a Class 7A state semifinal football game between the Bucs and Thompson at the Hoover Met on Nov. 18. Below: Nicole Stokes smiles as she works with Olivia Holden on a Chromebook during stations in Meredith McDonald’s first grade class at Deer Valley Elementary School on March 24 Stokes begins her new role as principal at the school April 4.
Above: Spain Park’s Emma Hawkins (1) celebrates with a hug to Maggie Daniel (14) after scoring for the Jags during a game against Thompson in the Class 7A state softball tournament at Choccolocco Park in Oxford on May 18. Right: The Jags celebrate after defeating Huntsville 60-51 in the Class 7A boys Northeast Regional Final at Jacksonville State University’s Pete Matthews Coliseum on Feb. 21. Below: Hoover’s Elijah Joseph crosses the finish line in the boys 4x800-meter relay during the AHSAA Class 7A state indoor track and field championship at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Feb. 5.
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2023 Southern Voices tickets go on sale Jan. 12
By JON ANDERSON
The 2023 Southern Voices Festival, to be held Feb. 21-25 at the Hoover Public Library, will feature a diverse lineup of authors who cover everything from historical fiction to romance, mystery, legal fiction, thrillers, suspense and nonfiction.
Tickets go on sale Jan. 12.
The keynote speaker on Friday, Feb. 24, is Elin Hilderbrand, who has written 28 novels, mostly romance novels set on Nantucket Island, where she resides in Massachusetts.
Writers scheduled to speak at the Saturday, Feb. 25, authors conference include Alka Joshi, Will Leitch, Robin Peguero, Sarah Penner, Ben Raines, Vanessa Riley and Ashley Winstead.
The festival kicks off on Tuesday, Feb. 21, with a reception for visual artist Sarah Garden Armstrong, and the musical act on Thursday, Feb. 23, is Miko Marks, who sings a mix of country, blues, soul and roots music.
Patrons at the Hoover Public Library love reading Hilderbrand’s books, said Theresa Davis, the fiction coordinator at the library who is organizing the Southern Voices Festival with library technology coordinator Carrie Steinmehl.
“As many books as she has, there’s not that much on the shelves because they’re all checked out,” Davis said.
There is always a hold for her books when they first come out, and then everybody wants to go back and read her older books, Davis said.
Hilderbrand is a 1991 graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in writing seminars. In her senior year at Johns Hopkins, she had her first short story, “Misdirection,” accepted for publication in Seventeen Magazine.
After a short stint working in publishing and teaching in New York City, she moved to Nantucket permanently in 1994. She attended the University of Iowa writers workshop and earned her master’s degree in 1998 and then published her first novel, “The Beach Club,” in the summer of 2000.
Hilderbrand has three children and loves riding her Peleton, cooking and going to the beach.
Her 2019 novel, “Summer of ’69,” was her first novel to debut at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Her latest novel, “The Hotel Nantucket,” came out in June of 2022 and tells the story of Lizbet Keaton, the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket who hopes her expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner and a popular Instagram influencer. But there’s a lot of drama at the hotel. The staff and guests have complicated pasts, and the hotel is haunted by the ghost of a 19-year-old chambermaid killed in a fire in 1922.
Hilderbrand, according to her website, plans to retire with a final book release in the summer of 2024.
Hilderbrand is the only author coming to the 2023 Southern Voices Festival who is not from the South.
Also, this will be the first time in the 30-year history of the Southern Voices Festival that the organizers have not heard any of the authors speak in person, Steinmehl said.
Usually, the organizers go hear most authors speak in person before inviting them to come to Hoover, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been less opportunity to do so because travel has been more limited and many book festivals are much smaller than before, Steinmehl said.
So for the 2023 festival, organizers invited authors they have read and enjoyed and some authors who were recommended by other staff or past authors who spoke at Southern Voices, Steinmehl said.
The organizers have at least seen the 2023 invited authors speak on videos from other appearances to make sure they present well, but “it’ll be a nice surprise” to see how they do in person, Steinmehl said.
“Even though we haven’t seen these authors live, I have a good feeling about all of them,” she said.
Here’s a rundown on the authors speaking Saturday, according to information provided by the Hoover Public Library and their websites:
Joshi has written three historical fiction novels as a trilogy, but only two of them have come out
so far. The third is due out in March.
Her debut novel, “The Henna Artist,” came out in 2020 and tells the story of a teenage Indian woman who escapes an arranged and abusive marriage, makes her way alone to the 1950s rural village of Jaipur and becomes a henna artist. Her husband tracks her down and brings with him a sister she never knew she had.
In her second novel, “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur,” the woman helps a 20-year-old man get an apprenticeship at the Jaipur Palace. When the Royal Cinema’s balcony collapses on opening night, she helps him untangle the web of lies Jaipur’s elite would prefer to hide.
The last novel of the trilogy, “The Perfumist of Paris,” follows her sister from her newfound home in Paris, back to India, where she finds out the son she never told her husband about is heading to Paris to find her — upending her world and threatening to destroy the life she worked so hard to build.
Joshi was born in India but has lived in the United States since she was 9. She got into writing later in life. She spent 30 years running her own advertising and public relations agency, and her husband encouraged her to try writing fiction. She took some evening workshops and enrolled in a master of fine arts in creative writing program at age 51, and now she’s a New York Times bestselling writer.
Leitch is a contributing editor at New York Magazine and the founder of the late sports website Deadspin. He is the author of six books, including “How Lucky” and “The Time Has Come,” which is scheduled to be released by Harper Books in May 2023.
He also has written regularly for MLB.com, Medium, The New York Times and Washington Post and writes a free weekly newsletter at williamfleitch.substack.com. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his wife and two sons.
Steinmehl said “How Lucky” was one of the best books she has read in a long time, describing it as “a mystery, but not in the traditional sense.” Stephen King called it a “fantastic novel.” The main character, who suffers from a debilitating illness and can communicate only through a computer, witnesses a kidnapping and tries to solve the mystery.
Peguero is a lawyer who writes legal fiction thrillers, but he likes to say he is a writer role-playing as a lawyer.
He was born to interracial immigrant parents — a mother from Ecuador and a father from the Dominican Republic. He started out in a cramped New York apartment but moved to south Florida when he was 5 as his parents sought a middle-class life.
He attended Harvard College, became editor of the Harvard Crimson and spent a summer writing stories for The Miami Herald. After graduation, he served in Washington D.C. as a press spokesman for Congressman Charles Rangel of Harlem and speechwriter for Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
He then attended Harvard Law School, served as editor of the Harvard Law Review and published three pieces on stop-and-frisk policies, criminal immigration consequences and the intersection of jury nullification and the death penalty. He spent seven years storytelling to juries for a living, most recently as a homicide
prosecutor in Miami. He now is an investigative counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives, working on domestic terrorism.
His first book, called “With Prejudice,” tells the story of a murder trial as seen through the eyes of the jurors and explores the prejudices that jurors carry into courtrooms.
Penner is the author of a historical fiction murder mystery called “The Lost Apothecary,” which is a New York Times and international bestseller that is scheduled to be translated into 40 languages and turned into a drama series by Fox.
The book is described as “a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.”
Her second book, “The London Séance Society,” is due out in March 2023 and described as “a spellbinding gothic whodunit” about two enigmatic women who set out to solve an unusual mystery. The tale explores the blurred lines between truth and illusion and reveals the grave risks women will take to avenge the ones they love.
Penner grew up in a small log cabin deep in the woods of northeast Kansas. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in finance but started writing seriously in 2015 after attending a lecture by Elizabeth Gilbert and enrolling in an online creative writing class. She left the world of corporate finance in 2021 after 13 years and now writes full-time. She and her husband live in Florida.
Raines is the only nonfiction writer scheduled to speak at Southern Voices in 2023. He is an environmental journalist and filmmaker. In 2018, he discovered the wreck of the Clotilda, the last ship carrying enslaved Africans to arrive in the United States.
His newest book is “The Last Slave Ship –The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning.”
Raines has won dozens of awards for his coverage of environmental issues and has coauthored several peer-reviewed papers published in scientific journals. He wrote and directed “The Underwater Forest,” an award-winning film about the exploration of a 70,000-yearold cypress forest found off the Alabama coast. Raines also wrote and produced the documentary “America’s Amazon,” which has aired on PBS stations around the country and been distributed to public schools across Alabama. His underwater film work has appeared in documentaries on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic TV.
Raines also wrote the award-winning nature book, “Saving America’s Amazon,” and co-authored the “Heart of a Patriot” book with U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, which chronicled Cleland’s journey from triple amputee after a grenade accident in Vietnam to the U.S. Senate.
Raines is a graduate of New York University’s
A20 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
► Feb. 21: Artist reception for Sara Garden Armstrong; 5:30 p.m.; free and open to the public
► Feb. 23: Concert by Miko Marks, 7 p.m.; already sold out
► Feb. 24: An Evening with Elin Hilderbrand, 7 p.m.; $40
► Feb. 25: Authors conference, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., $45
► Tickets go on sale Thursday, Jan. 12, at 10 a.m.
► Tickets are available online at southernvoices.info, by phone at 205-444-7888 or in person at the Library Theatre box office 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in filmmaking and is a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain, giving tours of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and Alabama’s barrier islands. He lives with his wife in Fairhope and aboard the Suzanne, an 82-year-old riverboat moored on the Tensaw River.
Riley writes historical romance, mystery and fiction novels that “showcase the hidden histories of Black women and women of color, emphasizing strong sisterhoods and dazzling multicultural communities,” according to her website.
She holds a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in industrial engineering and engineering management, but her love of history and lattes overwhelmed her love of math and led to the publication of more than 20 books., many of which focus on the Regency and early Victorian eras. Her latest releases
and “A Toddler.”
Riley is a former president of Regency Fiction Writers, a member of the board of directors for the Christian Book Lovers Retreat and a member of the Georgia Writers Association, Historical Novel Society and Crime Writers of Color.
She is a frequent speaker at literary, women’s and STEM events, and she lives in Atlanta with her military husband and teenage child.
Winstead is an academic turned novelist with a doctorate in contemporary American literature from Southern Methodist University and bachelor’s degree in English and art history from Vanderbilt University. She writes thrillers, romantic comedies and upmarket fiction centering on strong women.
She has had three novels published: “In My Dreams I Hold a Knife,” “Fool Me Once” and “The Last Housewife,” which came out in August.
Author Rosie Danan called “Fool Me Once” a
to be loved,” while author Rachel Lynn Solomon described it as “a hilariously sharp-tongued romance with an unforgettable, unapologetic heroine.”
Winstead lives in Houston with her husband.
ARTIST AND MUSICIAN
Sara Garden Armstrong is a visual artist whose decades-long practice embraces a wide range of scales and techniques, such as site-specific sculptures, works on paper and artist books.
A recent recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, Armstrong has exhibited nationally and internationally for more than 40 years, and her work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The monograph “Sara Garden Armstrong: Threads and Layers,”published in 2020, coincides with a traveling exhibition currently touring the southeastern United States that incorporates site-specific art for each location.
Miko Marks made her way to Music City in
She won Country Album of the Year from the Independent Music Awards for “Freeway Bound” in 2006 and again for “It Feels Good” in 2008. She also won Country Song of the Year for “Freeway Bound” in 2007 and “It Feels Good” in 2008.
But despite playing the Country Music Association’s CMA Fest year after year, she never felt fully embraced by the country music industry.
After more than a decade without a new release, she came back with a new album in 2021, “Our Country,” which stretches outside a strict country box and includes blues, soul and roots music. She said she hopes the new album evokes a sense of urgency around systemic racism, injustice and economic disparity that she said plagues the underprivileged in the United States.
The lead single off her newest album is “We Are Here.”
HooverSun.com January 2023 • A21
2003 and earned accolades such as “Nashville’s Hottest New Country Star” by People Magazine and “Best New Country Artist” by New Music Weekly.
Sara Garden Armstrong
Photos courtesy of Hoover Public Library unless otherwise noted.
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Photo by Erin Nelson.
All-South Metro Volleyball
Brooklyn Allison named Defensive Player of Year
By KYLE PARMLEY
The 2022 high school volleyball season is in the books, with many teams in the Starnes Media coverage area putting together strong seasons. Hoover and Mountain Brook advanced
to the state tournament, while several others qualified for regionals. Here is this year’s rendition of the All-South Metro Team, as we attempt to recognize the standout players throughout the area.
► Player of the Year: Emma Pohlmann, Chelsea
► Offensive Player of the Year: Savannah Gann, Vestavia Hills
► Defensive Player of the Year: Brooklyn Allison, Spain Park
► Coach of the Year: Grace Burgess, Oak Mountain 1ST TEAM
► Outside hitter: Savannah
Gann, Vestavia Hills — named the Offensive Player of the Year after a stellar senior season. She amassed 537 kills, putting her over 1,000 for her career. She also had 265 digs as a six-rotation player.
► Outside hitter: Emma Pohlmann, Chelsea — the University of North Florida commit is this year’s Player of the Year after capping off a tremendous high school career. This season, she surpassed 1,000 career kills and digs, posting 412 kills and 457 digs in her final campaign with the Hornets.
► Outside hitter: Emily Breazeale, Spain Park — went for 470
kills and 219 digs in another stellar season.
► Outside hitter: Lauren Buchanan, Chelsea — has quickly established herself as one of the area’s top players as a sophomore. This season, she posted 416 kills and already has more than 650 in her career.
► Setter: Maggie Harris, Hoover — ran the offense with precision, piling up 1,264 assists in addition to 176 kills and 336 digs.
► Setter: Hannah Parant, Mountain Brook — had another monster season, tallying 1,168 assists, 324 digs and 255 kills.
► Setter: Lilly Johnson, Spain Park — one of the top setters in the area, she put together 529 assists and 125 digs this season.
► Libero: Brooklyn Allison, Spain Park — the East Tennessee State signee concluded her high school career as Defensive Player of the Year, compiling 431 digs, 60 assists, 38 aces and 2.34 passing average for the Jags.
► Libero: Audrey Vielguth, Vestavia Hills — the junior had nearly 500 digs on the season, as several opposing coaches raved about her ability.
► Libero: Bella Guenster, Hoover
A22 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
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Left: Hoover’s Alanah Pooler (16) Above left: Hoover’s Kendyl Mitchell (12). Above right: Spain Park’s Brooklyn Allison (8). Photos by Erin Nelson.
— missed 10 games but still led the team with 490 digs for the season. She played her best in the most important matches, notching 50 digs in the regional final and 48 in the state quarterfinals.
► Middle hitter: Alanah Pooler, Hoover — held down the middle for the Bucs, finishing with 200 kills and 117 blocks.
► Middle hitter: Alice Garzon,
Mountain Brook — compiled 343 kills, 87 blocks and 48 digs this season.
► Right side: Annie Lacey, Mountain Brook — finished the year with 210 kills and 30 blocks for the Spartans.
► Utility: Lauren Schuessler, Oak Mountain — a do-it-all player for the Eagles, racking up 424 assists, 238 digs and 152 kills on the year.
► Outside hitter: Stella Helms,
► Outside hitter: Paige Parant, Mountain Brook — posted a solid all-around season, going for 220 kills and 281 digs.
► Setter: Jolee Giadrosich, Briarwood — piled up more than 1,000 assists on the year.
► Setter: Helen Macher, John Carroll — surpassed 2,000 career assists with a strong senior season, piling up 851 on the year.
► Setter: Madison Moore, Chelsea — wrapped up her career with 815 assists on the season.
► Libero: Anna Frances Adams, Mountain Brook — finished up her career with 544 digs on the season.
► Libero: Sydney Humes, Homewood — the Florida A&M commit led the Patriots defense to the regional tournament.
► Libero: Makayla Ragland, Oak
► Right side: Adair Byars, Hoover — capped off her career with a solid season, posting 250 kills and 198 digs.
► Utility: Jordan Madsen, Vestavia Hills — the sophomore played every set this season, registering 256 kills and 28 blocks.
► Outside: Mabrey Whitehead, Oak Mountain; Maria Groover, John Carroll; Marley Carmichael, Hewitt-Trussville.
► Setter: Haley Thompson, Spain Park.
► Libero/DS: Peyton David, Hoover; Stella Yester, John Carroll; Caroline Jones, Briarwood.
► Middle: Megan Ingersoll, Spain Park; Kenzie Richards, Hoover; Reese Hawks, Hoover.
► Right side: Sydney Laye,
HooverSun.com January 2023 • A23
our specialty can Today For Your Complimentary Consultation DEPOT LOCATION 415 West Oxmoor Road Bir mingham, AL 35209 MCCALLA LOCATION 5751 Pocahontas Road Bessemer, AL 35022 Web: OVOrtho.com • Tel: 205-942-2270 Deborah Sema, DMD, MS · Andrew Havron, DMD, MS Clockwise from top left: Spain Park’s Emily Brazeale (6); Hoover’s Bella Guenster (10); Hoover’s Maggie Harris (11); Spain Park’s Lilly Johnson (1); Hoover’s Raegan James (3)
All-South Metro Football Team
By KYLE PARMLEY
The 2022 high school football season featured plenty of standout moments and highlight reel performances. Now, it’s time to release the annual Starnes Media All-South Metro Football Team.
Homewood senior quarterback Woods Ray is this year’s overall Player of the Year, leading Homewood to a 10-win season and to the quarterfinals of the Class 6A playoffs. Mountain Brook running back Cole Gamble is this year’s Offensive Player of the Year, as he torched opposing defenses as the leader of the Spartans’ dominant rushing attack.
It was nearly impossible to name a singular Defensive Player of the Year, considering how dominant Hoover’s defense was much of the year. Linebackers Kaleb Jackson and Bradley Shaw and defensive back DJ Estes share the honor as the top defensive players this season.
Chris Yeager is named Coach of the Year, as he took the Spartans to the state championship game for the first time since 1996.
► Player of the Year: Woods Ray, Homewood
► Offensive Player of the Year: Cole Gamble, Mountain Brook
► Defensive Players of the Year: Kaleb Jackson, Bradley Shaw and DJ Estes, Hoover ► Coach of the Year: Chris Yeager, Mountain Brook
1ST TEAM OFFENSE
► QB: Woods Ray, Homewood — The Player of the Year put together a tremendous season, totaling 38 touchdowns (27 passing, 11 rushing). Ray threw for 2,677 yards and rushed for 812 yards, as the Patriots advanced to the Class 6A quarterfinals.
► QB: Peyton Floyd, Hewitt-Trussville — was one of the top passers in the state, throwing for 2,413 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also rushed for 726 yards and 16 scores.
► RB: Cole Gamble, Mountain Brook — The Offensive Player of the Year ran for over 200 yards in three straight playoff games and finished the season with more than 1,900 yards and 35 touchdowns on the year.
► RB: Emerson Russell, Chelsea — was a major bright spot for the Hornets, rushing for 1,130 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year.
► WR: Jackson Parris, Homewood — served as Woods Ray’s top target, snagging 80 passes for 1,288 yards and 13 touchdowns.
► WR: Amare Thomas, Pinson Valley
— played both ways for the Indians at times but caught 50 passes for 964 yards and 11 scores.
► WR: Keown Richardson, Vestavia Hills — led the Rebels’ prolific offense on the receiving end, grabbing 45 passes for 602 yards and 5 touchdowns.
► WR: Jadon Loving, Hewitt-Trussville — caught 54 passes for 613 yards and 5 touchdowns as the top receiver in the Huskies’ offense.
► TE: Tucker Smitha, Vestavia Hills — caught 44 passes from the tight end position after playing in the backfield much of
► OL: Kade Martin, Hewitt-Trussville — The junior with SEC offers has started for three years along the Huskies line.
Estes named Defensive Players of the Year
that advanced to the state championship game.
► OL: Luke Oswalt, Oak Mountain — The senior was one of the leaders for the Eagles.
► ATH: Jaylen Mbakwe, Clay-Chalkville — The Alabama commit did a little bit of everything for the Cougars. He finished with 615 yards and nine receiving touchdowns and ran for two more scores.
► ATH: John Paul Head, Vestavia Hills — accounted for over 3,000 total yards and 38 touchdowns leading the Rebels offense.
► K/P: Peyton Argent, Hoover — connected on 34-of-35 extra points and 8-of-9 field goals, with a long of 47 yards. He also averaged 43.8 yards per punt.
1ST TEAM DEFENSE
► OL: Walker Williams, Chelsea — only allowed 2 sacks the entire season, grading out at 88% while playing against many of the top defensive lineman in the state in Region 3.
► OL: Ethan Hubbard, Hoover — The Duke commit was a stalwart on the line for the Bucs.
► OL: Davis Peterson, Mountain Brook — finished the year with more than 60 knockdowns and 40 pancakes for a Spartans team
► DL: Tyrell Averhart, Hewitt-Trussville — led his team with 80 total tackles and 23 tackles for loss. He also racked up 6 sacks and intercepted a pass.
► DL: Jordan Ross, Vestavia Hills — scored a pair of defensive touchdowns and racked up 16 TFLs on the year.
A24 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
Right: Hoover linebacker Bradley Shaw (7). Photo by Barry Stevenson.
See FOOTBALL | page A26
Far right: Hoover defensive back DJ Estes (5). Photo by Erin Nelson.
Left: Hoover defensive lineman Jordan Norman (4). Photo by Barry Stephenson. Above: Hoover kicker Peyton Argent (37). Photo by Erin Nelson. Right: Hoover running back LaMarion McCammon (3). Photo by Barry Stephenson.
Above left: Spain Park linebacker Jack Kendrick (2). Photo by Todd Lester.
Above right: Hoover offensive lineman Ethan Hubbard (72). Photo by Barry Stephenson.
Left: Hoover linebacker Kaleb Jackson (1). Photo by Barry Stephenson.
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► DL: Hunter Osborne, Hewitt-Trussville
— The Alabama commit finished the year with 21 quarterback hurries and seven TFLs.
► DL: Jordan Norman, Hoover — The senior racked up 68 tackles and 10 sacks on the year.
► LB: Trent Wright, Mountain Brook — The senior accumulated over 140 tackles and 10 TFLs in a standout season.
► LB: DJ Barber, Clay-Chalkville — The junior has established himself as one of the top linebackers in the state, racking up 145 tackles and eight sacks on the year.
► LB: Kaleb Jackson, Hoover — finished a stellar year with 118 tackles, 10 TFLs and five sacks for the Bucs.
► LB: Bradley Shaw, Hoover — had a strong season, getting 106 tackles with 15 TFLs and five sacks.
► DB: Grant Downey, Vestavia Hills — intercepted eight passes and punted for the Rebels.
► DB: Parker Sansing, Homewood — As one of the top defensive backs in the area, he finished with 90 tackles on the year.
► DB: Rickey Gibson, Hewitt-Trussville
— The Tennessee commit led the team with four interceptions, finished with 41 tackles and scored an offensive touchdown.
► DB: Jay Avery, Hoover — racked up six picks and made 52 tackles on the year.
► ATH: Garrett Murphy, Oak Mountain — made 166 total tackles and handled the kicking duties for the Eagles.
► ATH: DJ Estes, Hoover — racked up 71 tackles, 15 TFLs and six sacks playing multiple positions for the Bucs.
2ND TEAM OFFENSE
► QB: Christopher Vizzina, Briarwood — The Clemson commit threw for 1,828 yards and 16 touchdowns, and rushed for 11 touchdowns to cap off a phenomenal high school career.
► QB: John Colvin, Mountain Brook — threw for over 2,000 yards, as the Spartans played in the state championship game.
► RB: Aaron Osley, Clay-Chalkville — picked up 773 yards and eight touchdowns as the Cougars’ primary back.
► RB: LaMarion McCammon, Hoover — The senior gained 858 yards and 11 touchdowns this year.
► WR: Jordan Woolen, Hoover — caught 43 passes for 736 yards and five touchdowns in a standout year.
► WR: MJ Conrad, Chelsea — A big target in the Hornets passing game, he racked up 621 yards and five scores on 44 grabs.
► WR: Charlie Reeves, Homewood — caught 51 passes for 685 yards and 11 scores for the explosive Patriots’ attack.
► WR: Clark Sanderson, Mountain Brook — came on strong down the stretch, piling up over 800 receiving yards on the year.
► TE: Donovan Price, Hewitt-Trussville — In addition to his blocking prowess, he caught 27 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
► OL: Mac Smith, Mountain Brook — finished the year with over 50 knockdowns and 30 pancakes.
► OL: Sawyer Hutto, Oak Mountain — a senior that has led the Eagles line for a few years.
► OL: AJ Franklin, Hoover — The Alabama all-star selection was a key factor to the Bucs’ offensive success.
► OL: Harrison Clemmer, Briarwood — the anchor to the Lions’ offensive line, known for his run blocking.
► OL: Henry Boehme, Mountain Brook — allowed no sacks all season at right tackle.
► ATH: Carson McFadden, John Carroll — accounted for over 2,300 total yards leading the Cavs offense from the quarterback position.
► ATH: Brady Waugh, Briarwood — The Lions’ top target snagged 53 passes, gaining 624 yards and eight touchdowns on the year.
► K/P: Jack Seymour, Chelsea — averaged
41.5 yards per punt and connected on all but one of his extra points.
2ND TEAM DEFENSE
► DL: Caldwell Bussey, Spain Park — racked up 5.5 sacks and 46 tackles to lead the Jags’ defense.
► DL: Jamon Smith, Clay-Chalkville — A North-South All-Star Game selection, he finished up with nine TFLs and eight sacks
on the year.
► DL: Andrew Sykes, Vestavia Hills — The two-year starter had 42 tackles and five TFLs for the Rebels.
► DL: Chaleb Powell, Hoover — finished with 60 tackles and 10 TFLs to go along with six sacks.
► LB: Braylon Chatman, Hewitt-Trussville — racked up 119 tackles with 14 TFLs in a big season.
► LB: Hunter Jones, Hewitt-Trussville — racked up 124 tackles and nine TFLs in a strong season for the Huskies.
► LB: Vaughn Frost, Mountain Brook — accumulated over 100 tackles on the year.
► LB: Talton Thomas, Homewood — led the Patriots with 130 tackles with 16 TFLs on the year.
► DB: Keith Christein, Hoover — recorded two safeties, blocked four punts and returned an interception for a score.
► DB: Clay Burdeshaw, Homewood — finished up with 108 tackles on the year.
► DB: Mac Palmer, Mountain Brook — had over 60 tackles and two interceptions on the year.
► DB: Chris McNeill, Chelsea — covered the top receiver on each team and intercepted four passes.
► ATH: Grey Reebals, Briarwood — finished with 87 tackles and six TFLs as the key cog to the Lions’ defense.
► ATH: Jack Kendrick, Spain Park — had 69 tackles and seven TFLs for the Jags.
► QB: Will O’Dell, Oak Mountain; Carter Dotson, Chelsea; Evan Smallwood, Spain Park
► RB: Jaqson Melton, Hewitt-Trussville; Taurus Chambers, Pinson Valley
► WR: Jaxon Shuttlesworth, Chelsea; Jonathan Bibbs, Spain Park; Clark Sanderson, Mountain Brook; Fred Dunson, Hoover; KJ Law, Hoover; Sawyer Smith, Oak Mountain
► OL: Jaxon Brooks, Homewood; Walker Chambless, Briarwood
► ATH: Devan Moss, Oak Mountain; Zach Archer, John Carroll
► DL: Emmanuel Waller, Oak Mountain; Lane Whisenhunt, Vestavia Hills; Preston King, Briarwood; Brian Alston, Spain Park; Zi’Keith Springfield, Pinson Valley; Jevonta Williams, Pinson Valley; Parker Avery, Mountain Brook; Randall Cole, Clay-Chalkville; Luke Dickinson, Briarwood; Andrew Parrish, Hoover
► LB: Jonas Harrelson, Spain Park; Matthew Yafonda, Clay-Chalkville; Houston Owen, Vestavia Hills; Jack Cornish, Briarwood; Devin Finley, Clay-Chalkville
► DB: Riggs Dunn, Hewitt-Trussville; Braxton Urquhart, Hoover
► K/P: Riley Rigg, Hewitt-Trussville
A26 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
Right: Hoover defensive lineman Chaleb Powell (9).
Photo by Barry Stephenson
Far right: Spain Park defensive lineman Caldwell Bussey (21). Photo by Todd Lester.
Hoover defensive back Jay Avery (3). Photo by Barry Stephenson.
Above left: Hoover defensive back Keith Christein (2). Photo by Erin Nelson. Above right: Hoover offensive lineman AJ Franklin (64). Below: Hoover wide receiver Jordan Woolen (6). Photos by Barry Stephenson.
CONTINUED from page A24
Jan. 3: Boys vs. Ramsay. 7 p.m.
Jan. 6: @ Thompson. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 10: vs. Vestavia Hills. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 13: @ Tuscaloosa County. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 14: Girls at J4 Sports MLK Classic.
Jan. 16: Girls at Ball-N-Prep MLK Classic.
Jan. 16: Boys vs. Alexander (Ga.). 11:30 a.m.
Jan. 20: vs. Thompson. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 24: @ Vestavia Hills. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 27: vs. Tuscaloosa County. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 28: Girls at Robertson’s Sportswear Classic.
Jan. 30: Boys @ Homewood. 7 p.m.
Jan. 31: Girls vs. Hazel Green. 6 p.m.
Jan. 3: vs. McAdory. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 6: vs. Oak Mountain. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 10: @ Chelsea. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 13: vs. Hewitt-Trussville. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 16: Girls vs. Northridge.
Jan. 16: Boys vs. Hartselle. 3 p.m.
Jan. 20: @ Oak Mountain. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 24: vs. Chelsea. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27: @ Hewitt-Trussville. Girls at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.
Jan. 30: Boys @ James Clemens. 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 31: Girls @ Mountain Brook. 6 p.m.
Jan. 7: Ice Breaker Invitational.
Jan. 11: Hump Day Invitational.
Jan. 16: MLK Track Classic.
Jan. 27-28: Last Chance Invitational.
Jan. 3: @ Vestavia Hills. 6 p.m.
Jan. 5: @ Oak Mountain. 6 p.m.
Jan. 6-7: Region Duals. 5 p.m.
Jan. 24: Quad-match vs. Bibb County, Mae Jemison, McAdory. 5 p.m.
Jan. 25: vs. Austin. 6 p.m.
Jan. 31: vs. Moody. 5 p.m.
Jan. 2: @ Hewitt-Trussville. 6 p.m.
Jan. 6-7: Region Duals.
Jan. 13: Southeastern Pools.
Jan. 18: Tri-match vs. Wetumpka, Carver-Birmingham. 5 p.m.
Jan. 26: Tri-match vs. Auburn, Pell City. 5 p.m.
Diana S. Knight, CPA, CVA
Jeff W. Maze, CPA, MA
Jason Lybrand, CPA, MBA
Count on us
Two Chase Corporate Drive, Suite 40, Birmingham, Alabama 35244 ph: 205.271.8506 | fx: 1.866.229.1120 | www.sovereigncpa.com
HooverSun.com January 2023 • A27
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And there was a lot of interest in joining the league. They filled the 36 spots on eight teams within two hours, she said.
Most of the women range from age 31 to 44, but there is one as young as 26 and at least one who is 55+, Taylor said. Plus, with the draft, they tried to make sure teams didn’t get too big of an advantage from an age standpoint, she said. For example, there’s not a team full of 20-year-olds, she said. “I can’t run as fast as they can.”
Also, there’s quite a mix of athletic abilities, Taylor said. There are some women who have played sports their entire lives and some who have never played anything and are just there for the camaraderie, she said. “That’s what makes it so much fun.”
The kickball games will be played on the athletic practice field at Shades Mountain Community Church off Tyler Road. With eight teams, they’ll have four games each Sunday afternoon, starting at 12:30 p.m. The games will last seven innings or 45 minutes, whichever comes first, Taylor said. They have to stick to a time schedule because they’ll lose daylight, and there are no lights, she said.
The regular season will last eight or nine Sundays, depending on whether any makeup games are needed, and the end-of-season tournament is scheduled for March 12, Taylor said.
Much like they did in whiffle ball, the women tried to be creative with their team names, which include New Kicks on the Grass, Saved by the Ball, 2 Legit 2 Kick, Kickin Grass, Swift Kick in the Grass, Recess Rejects, Kick Please and Balls to the Wall.
The main reason for starting the kickball league is to help the women continue to build relationships with others in the community outside of the whiffle ball season, said Natalie Fleming, co-director of the league.
Many of the women really enjoyed getting together for whiffle ball, but it’s a long time from the end of whiffle ball season in August until practices start back in May, Fleming said. They wanted to find something else to do
together, and Taylor came up with the idea for a kickball league.
She had heard about the Go Kickball league that plays at Cooper Green Park in Birmingham and has more than 800 players, but that league is co-ed, and she wanted a league for women only and to keep it in Bluff Park, she said.
Taylor and other organizers visited the Go Kickball league in Birmingham to see how it is run, and the director of that league is going to help the Bluff Park women’s league get started, Taylor said.
Fleming said she hasn’t played kickball since middle school but is really looking forward to it.
“I think this is just a great way to do something fun and get some physical activity,” she said. “Another way to build camaraderie.”
Taylor said she’s not from Hoover and found it difficult to make friends when she moved here from Auburn almost 10 years ago. The whiffle
ball league was a wonderful way to do that, she said.
Tammy Prell, another member of the kickball league board, agreed.
“I have been able to build relationships with women I don’t think that I would have ever had otherwise,” she said. “It’s just been really great for us to get together and have a great time together.”
But Prell said she doesn’t think it’s going to be as easy as a lot of them think it will be. There were some injuries in the whiffle ball league, she said.
“I’m one of the older women, but it was all the young’uns that got hurt [in whiffle ball],” Prell said. “I’ve made it pretty good so far.”
Most of the ladies are excited for the opportunity to get back together, even if it will be much colder, Fleming said. “It’s definitely going to be a 180 from when we had a heat index of 105
and borderline heat stroke,” she said.
Taylor said some women were reluctant to sign up because they thought it would be too cold.
“I told them to get their hats and gloves and fleece-lined leggings and let’s be adventurous,” she said. “We’ll do it together.”
For at least the first week, the Southern Coffee & Waffles food truck will be there with coffee, hot chocolate and warm waffles, Taylor said.
She’s excited to get the league started because she’s never felt the kind of camaraderie she feels in Bluff Park anywhere else she has lived before, she said.
“There’s just something about this community that sparkles, not like any other community,” Taylor said. “I just absolutely love this neighborhood. Everybody that lives here does.”
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Hannah Dunham, with the 2 Legit 2 Kick kickball team, kicks the ball during a practice.
Photo by Erin Nelson.
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This project had been slated for fiscal 2023 when there was some talk of Hoover High moving its varsity football games away from Hoover Metropolitan Stadium and back on the school campus.
However, Fowler said, “the city continues to graciously allow Hoover High to utilize the Met for their home football games. Their generosity has removed the urgency of this project.”
A $1 million roofing project at Gwin Elementary and a $600,000 roofing project at Brock’s Gap Intermediate School also were delayed a year, and planning has not yet started for a $1.6 million addition to the transportation building, said Matt Wilson, the school system’s director of operations.
But there are numerous other school system projects moving ahead in 2023.
The school system plans to seek bids for an upgrade to the athletic facilities at Bumpus Middle School in January and hopefully get started on that project late spring of this year and complete it in the summer of 2024, Wilson said.
The Bumpus upgrades should include new home bleachers, restrooms, concessions, lighting, a press box and fieldhouse for the football stadium and a press box for the softball field, Wilson said.
Similar upgrades are planned at Berry Middle School, but planning for Berry is not as far along, so there are questions about the timetable there, he said. A total of $4.45 million is budgeted for the athletic upgrades at Bumpus and Berry.
A $1.5 million theater upgrade at Spain Park High School should get into the design phase in early 2023 and hopefully have construction under way in the summer, Wilson said.
School officials also this year hope to begin a $1.3 million multi-year project to upgrade the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at Green Valley and Rocky Ridge elementary schools and the Farr Administration Building. The low bid for a separate project to upgrade the HVAC system at Gwin Elementary came in higher than expected at $1.4 million, but the school board agreed to award that contract in December.
The school board also allocated $250,000 each to Deer Valley, Trace Crossings and Riverchase elementary schools for new playground equipment this year. The Riverchase and Trace Crossings playground projects should begin this summer, but school officials still were waiting on a proposal from Deer Valley, Wilson said.
The board budgeted $1.2 million for restroom upgrades at both the Hoover and Spain Park baseball and softball fields, and that work hopefully will be completed by the end of the summer, Wilson said.
The school board is partnering with the city of Hoover to replace the natural turf on 11 baseball and softball fields in the city with artificial turf.
The city of Hoover plans to pay an estimated $9 million for artificial turf on seven fields at Hoover city parks and the varsity baseball fields at Hoover and Spain Park high schools, and the school board has budgeted $1 million for artificial turf on the varsity softball fields at each high school.
The Hoover City Council in November hired Lathan Associates Architects to do the design work for its part, and Wilson said he expected the school system would work with the city to coordinate the two efforts. Timetables for the actual conversion of the fields were undetermined at press time.
The school board also has budgeted $1.8 million for a potential automotive academy and $600,000 for a potential cosmetology/ barbering program at the Riverchase Career Connection Center, $100,000 for a shower upgrade in the Hoover High football locker room (with boosters matching that amount), $600,000 for security improvements at schools and $1.1 million for miscellaneous flooring, paving, lighting and painting projects in fiscal 2023, with most of that work likely to take place during the summer, Wilson said.
The city of Hoover has at least $15 million worth of projects in the works for calendar 2023, including the artificial turf project with
the school system. But numerous additional projects don’t have cost estimates yet.
The Hoover City Council in October agreed to pay $1.3 million to buy a former bank property on U.S. 31 as a site for a new fire station to replace Fire Station No. 1 in Green Valley and in December voted to pay $1.9 million for the Lorna Professional Building on Lorna Road for conversion into administrative offices for the Fire Department. The plan is to tear down the former bank building and build a brand new fire station, but the office building will need only interior renovations, said Jehad Al-Dakka, the city’s chief operations officer. Both of those projects are expected to move forward in 2023, he said.
One of the more important projects at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex is the repaving of the parking lots, which will be done in phases, Al-Dakka said. That project also will include some changes in the design and striping of the parking lot at the stadium, he said.
The locker rooms and batting cages at the stadium also are slated for an upgrade, Al-Dakka said. Cost estimates were not yet available, but all the work at the stadium should begin right after the SEC Baseball Tournament at the end of May, he said.
A new traffic signal is scheduled to be installed at the main entrance to the Hoover Met Complex off Stadium Trace Parkway as well, likely in the spring of
2023, Al-Dakka said.
Another new traffic light is planned to be installed on Chapel Road at the entrance and exit for Gwin Elementary School, but that won’t take place until Jefferson County finishes the final touches on its project to redo the intersection of Chapel Road, Patton Chapel Road, Chapel Lane and Preserve Parkway, Al-Dakka said.
New traffic signals also are slated for the intersection of U.S. 31 and Hendrick Hoover Auto Mall (with construction expected to start in the spring), the intersection of John Hawkins Parkway and ATI Parkway (with construction expected to start in the fall) and the intersection of U.S. 31 and Patton Chapel Road North (construction time uncertain).
The city also has a final design for a new pavilion at the Bluff Park Community Park on Cloudland Drive and is seeking bids from contractors, Al-Dakka said. He hopes to start construction this spring, he said.
The Hoover-Randle house is slated for a roof replacement, including replacing a temporary tent over the outdoor patio with a permanent covering, Al-Dakka said. The budget for the project is $370,000 to $400,000.
The city’s 911 center needs additional space to accommodate extra staff during inclement weather and disaster situations, so $320,000 has been budgeted for that expansion, which Al-Dakka said he hopes will begin this year.
The Hoover Senior Center is slated to get improvements for its vestibule, with work likely in the spring. That $100,000 project was made possible by a $50,000 donation from an individual, Al-Dakka said.
Two drainage improvement projects are scheduled for South Sanders Road and Maiden Lane, with $412,000 budgeted.
The city expects to complete a rehabilitation project for the Inverness sewer plant and upgrades for Inverness and Riverchase pump stations in the spring, and it also plans to spend $1.6 million to replace a sewer pump station in the Applecross community and an estimated $700,000 to upgrade the Woodford pump station.
A project to replace street lights on U.S. 31 between Patton Chapel Road South and Interstate 65 should be completed this fall, Al-Dakka said.
The city is partnering with Jefferson County to make several improvements at Russet Woods Park. A plan developed by Leadership Hoover included stormwater pipe repairs, new playground equipment, a small amphitheater, gazebo, pavilion, pickleball court, fresh grass, benches, dog waste stations and a designated parking area. However, those plans are still being reviewed to see what all can be accomplished with the $150,000 coming from Jefferson County and $100,000 budgeted by the city, Al-Dakka said.
Hoover also is partnering with Shelby County to install eight pickleball courts and a fitness court at Veterans Park. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has provided $50,000 to assist with the fitness court.
Installation of a new sidewalk on Chapel Road between Matzek Road and Park Avenue should be complete this spring, and work already has begun on a $150,000 project to repair sidewalks in The Preserve.
Additional sidewalks are scheduled to be built this year on Oriole Drive, Old Columbiana Road, Al Seier Road, Sulphur Springs Road, Maiden Lane, Inverness Center Drive and Russet Woods Drive.
CONTINUED from page A1
A LOOK AHEAD
The parking lots at the Hoover Met Complex are slated for repaving in 2023, as well as some changes in the design and striping. Photos by Erin Nelson.
A crew works on a new light pole at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Deo Dara Drive on Dec. 15.
A30 • January 2023 Hoover Sun
The Hoover City Council agreed on Dec. 5 to pay $1.9 million to buy the Lorna Road Professional Building at 3201 Lorna Road with plans to move the Fire Department administrative offices there and potentially other offices.
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