Hoover Sun May 2024

Page 1

New parks plan aims to expand city trail network, capitalize on Cahaba River

The Hoover City Council early this year put its stamp of approval on a new Parks, Public Spaces and Recreation Plan for the city, setting out goals and objectives for the next 20 years.

The top priority for the next five to 10 years is to expand the trail and greenway system in the city, focusing first on developing a trail along the Cahaba River and opening up recreational opportunities related to the Cahaba River and Shades Creek.

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on the Cahaba River. Staff photo. By JON ANDERSON For
120,000-square-foot furniture store with dining areas, a 25-bed surgical center, four medical office buildings and 1.5 miles of walking and bicycle trails. Developer William
said negotiations were going well until October when, for some reason, things turned sour. Hoover
The Hoover City Council on April 1 discusses a proposed tax incentive package for the second phase of the Stadium Trace Village development. Photo by Jon Anderson. See STADIUM TRACE | page 24 Hoover parents concerned about sexually graphic books and background checks for outsourced school aides. Hometown star Trey Jemison making most of NBA chance. See page 15 See page 17 Voicing Concerns New Heights
river runs through
See CAHABA | page 26 Fly fishing
the past 15 months, Hoover officials have been negotiating with the developer of Stadium Trace Village about a development plan and tax breaks for phase two of the center.
82-acre second phase is proposed to include a 1,000-seat performing arts center owned and operated by the city, a Golf Suites tiered golf bay entertainment
Kadish of
city officials debate tax incentives for Stadium Trace Village
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It has been said that dealmaking is an art. Well, not all art is pretty.

Most of the people involved in negotiations over a tax incentive package for the second phase of Stadium Trace Village would agree that the process to try to reach a deal has gotten rather ugly at times.

Some apologies have been issued, and negotiations on this economic development project have continued.

I’ve been trying to keep up with developments in those negotiations and keep everyone informed about what’s happening, both here in print and online. This is certainly not a small development, and whatever decision is made by the powers that be will have broad implications.

development will lessen their quality of life. Still others say the city should not allow commercial development in forested areas while existing commercial areas sit vacant.

There are residents who think giving tax breaks is a good idea if they will lead to economic prosperity for the long term, and there are those who don’t believe tax breaks of this magnitude — or tax breaks at all — are merited.

There are residents who have varying opinions about the merits of such a development. Some are eager to gain new amenities like a Golf Suites entertainment center, a performing arts center and surgery center, but others have enjoyed having woods behind their houses and fear the new

Lots of people are interested in this development. There’s a developer who sees this as an opportunity to bring much-desired amenities to the city and make some money in the process.

And then there are the city officials entrusted to make those decisions on behalf of the residents. Here’s hoping they have wisdom and can continue to get along, even when they disagree.

Children’s Shoes (17)

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Southlake Orthopaedics (12)

Sovereign CPA (13)

The Crossings at Riverchase (19)

The Neighborhood Plumber (14)

TherapySouth Corporate (25)

Truewood by Merrill Gardens (10)

Vulcan Termite & Pest Control (12)

W.E. Lusain Funeral Home (5)

World of Central Alabama (27)

4 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
Dan Starnes Tim Stephens Jon Anderson Leah Ingram Eagle Kyle Parmley Lee Hurley Melanie Viering Erin Nelson Sweeney Ted Perry Simeon Delante Sarah Villar Publisher: Editor in Chief: Community Editors: Sports Editor: Contributing Editor: Design Editor: Photo Editor: Graphic Designer: Production Assistant: Operations Specialist: Please Support Our Community Partners Alabama Power (9) Allsteel Fence (21) Bedzzz Express (28) Birmingham Museum of Art (22) Birmingham Orthodontics (1) Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama (25) Bromberg’s (6) Budget Blinds (15) Cardinal Roofing (1) Danberry at Inverness (8) Edward Jones Hoover / Timothy TJ” Dolan” (11) ENT Associates of Alabama (23) European Wax Hoover (5) Family Medical Supply (17) Galleria Woods Retirement Community (7) Gardner Astroturf (6) Gardner Landscaping (2) Gaynell Hendricks - Tax Assessor (16) Issis & Sons (2) Medical West Hospital (3) Mr. Handyman of Birmingham (16) OLLI - Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (11) One Man & A Toolbox (13) OrthoAlabama Spine & Sports (22) Oxmoor Valley Orthodontics (21) Pappas’ Grill (10) Shelby Neuropathy and Laser (9) Shunnarah Flooring (14) Signature Homes (7) Sikes
MONTH Spain Park’s Arnold Bush (20) makes contact during an at-bat in a game against Prattville during the 2024 Buccaneer Classic spring break tournament. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney. Legals: Hoover Sun is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Hoover Sun is designed to inform the Hoover community of area school, family and community events. Information in Hoover Sun is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of Hoover Sun. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email. Published by: Hoover Sun LLC P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 dan@starnesmedia.com For advertising, contact: dan@starnesmedia.com Please submit all articles, information and photos to: janderson@starnesmedia.com Join the conversation. Scan the QR code to read us online, join our newsletter and follow us at Get Hoover Sun in your mailbox, inbox and online. Find Us Hoover Sun is distributed through direct mail to Hoover residents. You can also find copies at a variety of locations throughout the community. For a list of pick up locations, scan the QR code below or go to hooversun.com/ about-us. Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Sarah Gilliland Loyd McIntosh Emily Reed Warren Caldwell Don Harris Contributing Writers: Client Success Specialist: Business Development Exec: PLEASE RECYCLE THIS PAPER Sun
Editor’s Note By Jon Anderson PHOTO OF THE
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The Hoover City Council in April doubled its budget to build a new Fire Station No. 1 on U.S. 31, from $3 million to nearly $6 million.

The actual construction cost came in at $5.25 million, but with architectural and engineering fees added, the total cost should be about $5.7 million, said Jehad Al-Dakka, the city’s chief operations officer.

Fire Chief Clay Bentley told the City Council that the $3 million in the original 2024 budget was never expected to be the actual construction price. That’s just the amount that was available at the time the budget was put together, Bentley said.

With construction costs rising, city officials weren’t sure how high bids would be, Bentley said. They originally had anticipated the cost could go as high as $500 per square foot, he said. But with this fire station being about 8,800 square feet, the lowest responsible bid ended up at $597 per square foot.

The total cost of $5.7 million for construction, engineering and architectural fees is on top of the $1.3 million the city paid to buy the former bank property in October 2022.

Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Cornett said the additional $3 million is coming from interest accumulating on $93 million that the city borrowed in March 2023 for three major projects — a new Interstate 459 interchange, an arts center and renovations at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

As of the end of February, the city had about $4.2 million in interest earned since the $93 million in warrants were issued, and after arbitrage costs are considered, $3.1 million was available for use, Cornett said. The city is earning about $300,000 a month from that warrant issue, and that money must be spent on capital projects, she said.

To save some money, city

employees handled demolition of the former bank building instead of contracting that work out, Al-Dakka said.

When the 9,000-square-foot Hoover Fire Station No. 11 was built in Trace Crossings in 2021, it cost Signature Homes about $3 million to build, but the station probably would have cost $4 million to $4.5 million if it had been built by a general contractor, Signature Homes President

million to build.

Eight companies bid on the construction job for Hoover Fire Station No. 1, but one bidder was excluded because its bid packet wasn’t properly sealed, Bentley said. The lowest bidder, Dominguez Design-Build, was able to legally remove its bid of

$4.3 million because that company made a gross error in its calculations, he said.

That left Kyser Construction of Tuscaloosa as the lowest of the six remaining bidders, at $5.25 million.

Bentley said that “we’re not building the fanciest fire station,” but city officials and Aho Architects have worked hard to design a station that meets the Fire Department’s needs and will better serve residents.

This new station at 1596 Montgomery Highway has 120 feet of frontage on U.S. 31 and will be located between Salvatore’s Pizza & Pasta and the Stone Creek Dental Care building. It will have three vehicle bays, one of which will be a drive-through bay, Al-Dakka said. Another section of the building will be two stories, with sleeping quarters upstairs.

This building will replace the existing Fire Station No. 1, which is just a couple of hundred yards to the west behind the Hoover Court shopping center. That fire station originally was built in the early 1960s and is the oldest municipal building the city has. It was built by volunteer firefighters and used as both a fire station and meeting place even before Hoover incorporated.

While the station has been renovated and expanded over the years and functioned well for 50 to 60 years, it’s still old and not as functional, modern and visible as city officials would like it to be, Mayor Frank Brocato has said previously.

6 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
Jonathan Belcher said at the time. Bentley told the council that another fire station in the metro area cost $9
New fire station costs balloon to $5.7 million
Hoover Fire
plans to build a new Fire Station No. 1 on this site at 1596 Montgomery Highway. The site
home to a bank building
in early
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Palmer: America must learn from its mistakes

Congressman speaks to area chambers

The United States must learn from its mistakes with federal finances and border control or face a rough future, Congressman Gary Palmer told a group of six chambers of commerce gathered in Hoover on April 4.

“This country has made some horrible mistakes,” said the Republican from Hoover, who represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. “We can either let those mistakes destroy our future or let those mistakes inform our future, so we can be a better people and a better country for it.”

One of the biggest mistakes the government has made is overspending and getting into too much debt, according to Palmer.

In the first two years of the Biden administration, the country’s projected spending increased by more than $10 trillion over the next ten years, according to the U.S. House Budget Committee, pushing the interest on the national debt to more than $1 trillion, Palmer said. That overspending and high debt has led to inflation, and the cost of living is impacting families in a negative way, he said.

Palmer said he recently learned that 35% of the people who get free groceries from the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama are senior citizens.

He served on the House Budget Committee for his first two terms in office and currently is working with the current Budget Committee chairman on a plan to balance the budget in 10 years without gimmicks, he said.

Two changes that Palmer believes would help with the national debt are to reduce “improper payments” from the federal government and increase tax collections (not tax rates).

This year, the government had around $250 billion in improper payments, according to the Government Accountability Office, $51 billion of which is related to Medicaid, he said. Also, the government is only successfully collecting 10% to 15% of the amount of taxes owed, which means that $5.4 trillion is going uncollected over Congress’s 10-year budgeting window, he said.

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, a Republican from Hoover who represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District, gives a “Washington update” to members of the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce, The Shelby County Chamber, Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, Gardendale Chamber of Commerce and Montevallo Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel on April 4 Photo by Jon Anderson.


Another way to improve federal finances would be to change energy policies and work with other governments and private investors to improve energy infrastructure in South America, Latin America, the Caribbean and emerging economies in Africa, Palmer said.

“Energy is the single most inflationary part of the entire economy,” Palmer said. “Everything you come in contact with has an energy source.”

The United States is an energy superpower, leading the world in energy production, but there are more opportunities that can be used to the country’s advantage, Palmer said.

If the U.S. were to work with other countries to improve their energy infrastructure, that would create opportunities for manufacturing there, and the U.S. could sell natural gas to those manufacturers, he said.

Also, the U.S. needs to beef up its extraction of natural gas and critical minerals, Palmer said.

Summer tends to be the busiest time of year for our city. But I’ll admit — I also think it’s the most fun. The business of the city carries on, of course, but the summer months bring in activities, events and visitors from across the country that provide a fresh, exciting energy to our hometown.

The fun will begin with the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. I am beyond excited to welcome Auburn head football coach Hugh Freeze as our guest speaker this year. Later that same week, we will once again host the Regions Tradition golf tournament. This has been a family-fun event in our city for years!

At the end of May, I hope you’ll join us for the

Currently, The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, reports that the U.S. is dependent on China for 80% of the critical minerals that are needed to make things like batteries, microchips and semiconductors. If the country gets into bad relations with China and has its supply cut off, “we could really be up the creek,” Palmer said. Ramping up domestic production of critical minerals would also help the economy, he said.

Prior to 2015, the United States had a self-imposed ban on exporting crude oil, Palmer said. That ban is gone, but President Biden has put a pause on oil and gas exploration, offshore drilling and construction of natural gas facilities, he said. He cited some estimates that if the United States started exporting crude oil, it could generate $1.3 trillion in new government revenues over 15 years.


A lack of control of people entering the country also has turned into a crisis, Palmer said. The

return of the SEC Baseball Tournament. Every year, this event continues to grow and grow, and we at the city continue to seek ways to make it more fun and exciting for you.

In June, we’ll hold our annual Hydrangeas Under the Stars event, which benefits Aldridge Gardens. This wonderful community resource provides so many opportunities in terms of field trips and summer camps for students along with classes and social venues for adults. In July, we will host the Hartford Nationals for the second year in a row. This event is the largest and longest-standing national sport championship event in the United States for athletes

United States knows of 7.9 million people who entered the country illegally in the past three years, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. And there are estimates of 600,000 to 700,000 more people who have slipped in undetected, Palmer said.

More than 340 illegal immigrants who have been caught in the past three years had known ties to terrorist organizations or were potential threats, federal statistics show. “This is a national security threat that we have to address,” Palmer said.

Also, he cited U.S. border patrol statistics that showed dramatic increases in the number of illegal immigrants convicted of murder or manslaughter in the United States. That number has risen from 11 convictions from 2017 to 2020 to around 160 convictions since 2021, he said. Also, the number of illegal immigrants convicted of sexual assault in the United States has increased from 431 from 2017 to 2020 to 1,210 since 2021, he said.

with a physical disability, visual impairment and/or intellectual disability. Along with those larger events, there will be smaller community gatherings like farmers’ markets. You can always find the freshest produce and homemade goodies there! I hope to see you at several of these events this summer.

8 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
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Business Happenings


Thompson Fitness, a small group fitness training business, has opened at 2341 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 137. Open 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 9-10:30 a.m. on Saturday. 205-407-4027, tfit205.com

The Bluff Park Coffee Collective, a collaboration of Daysol Coffee Lab and Good Neighbor Baking, opened on April 6 at 759 Shades Mountain Plaza. Daysol Coffee offers locally roasted coffee and espresso beverages using made-from-scratch syrups, while Good Neighbor Baking offers freshly baked pastries and other treats. This location also serves as the online order pickup for all Good Neighbor Baking customers. The shop initially will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Daysol Coffee Lab: 251-753-1160, daysolcoffeelab.co; Good Neighbor Baking: 256-404-5073, goodneighborbaking.com

The Super Chix location at 5357 U.S. 280, Suite 102, is now open. superchix.com

The Amazing Lash Studio is now open in The Village at Lee Branch at 250 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 200. The studio provides full and partial sets of lashes, lash lifts for natural lashes and other treatments. The store is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

205-747-0866, amazinglashstudio.com

UAB Medicine was set to open a new primary and specialty care location in The Village at Lee Branch, at 220 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 100, on April 29. The location sees adult patients for a wide range of non-emergency medical conditions.

205-981-3040, uabmedicine.org/locations/leebranch


European Wax Center, a hair removal business, plans to open a new location at 2539 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 125. 205-745-6066, waxcenter.com

The Chick-fil-A Inverness location at 4620 U.S. 280 S. is opening a second location in Inverness Corners, at 5331 Valleydale Road. The new location will be called Chick-fil-A Valleydale.

205-995-9925, chick-fil-a.com


Chick-fil-A at The Grove, 5658 Grove Blvd., temporarily closed its doors for renovations on April 1 and reopened April 16

205-989-1701, chick-fil-a.com

Inverness Eye Care recently moved into a new facility at 258 Inverness Center Drive. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-991-0020, invernesseyecare.com

The Fancy Fur pet grooming boutique plans to move from its current location at 5291 Valleydale Road, Suite 139, to 1340 Inverness Corners in May. The business is expanding to include a variety of specialty pet foods, wellness items, boutique items and a new self dog-washing station. Fancy Fur’s walk-in services include nail trimming, face trimming, ear cleaning and anal gland expressing. 205-408-1693, fancyfurpets.com

Iron Tribe Fitness recently opened at its newest location at 258 Inverness Center Drive. The new facility is next to Master Scarsella’s Tae Kwan Do, and it will feature 2,500 square feet of workout space, a main lobby, three bathrooms with showers and two offices. The fitness center offers both group classes and individual personal training. 205-226-8669, irontribefitness.com


The city of Hoover has hired The Way Maker Group based in Kentucky, as a consultant to assist with the transformation of Riverchase Corporate Park into a health technology district. The company is being paid with a $200,000 grant from the Innovate Alabama Network. Hoover hopes to attract additional health technology, life science and pharmaceutical research companies to the district. 859-554-5570, thewaymakergroup.com

Apex Roofing and Restoration, based at 4601 Southlake Parkway, is expanding into Atlanta, Chicago and Kansas City, giving the company 20 offices across Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri. Apex Roofing and Restoration has recorded revenues of more than $375 million and worked on projects totaling more than 3 million square feet since its inception. It is ranked as the 17th largest roofing contractor in the country and seventh largest residential roofing contractor. 205-984-3854, apexroofs.com

Regions, with an operations center at 2090 Parkway Office Circle and numerous branches in Hoover, was named a silver winner in the Learning Marketer of the Year competition at the 2024 Degreed Visionary Awards, given out by the Degreed enterprise learning experience platform. The award recognizes companies for aligning professional development with business strategies. 800-734-4667, regions.com


Regions Bank, with an operations center at 2090 Parkway Office Circle and multiple branches in Hoover, has named John Jordan as the head of retail for its Consumer Banking Group. Jordan will lead an organization of more than 7,500 Regions Bank associates. He comes to Regions from Bank of America, where he spent more than 20 years in retail banking and wealth management. As head of retail for Regions Bank, Jordan reports directly to Kate Danella, head of consumer banking. His appointment was effective April 1. 800-734-4667, regions.com

Shannon Sanders has been promoted from real estate assistant to Realtor on the Sherri and Company team at ARC Realty’s office at 5220 Peridot Place, Suite 124. 205-873-0622, arcrealtyco.com

Cole Jones has joined the RealtySouth office at 109 Inverness Plaza #4800 as a Realtor. 205-991-6565, 256-490-3821; realtysouth.com

Erin Leach has joined EXIT Realty Cahaba at 2057 Valleydale Road, Suite 100. EXIT Realty is a full-service real estate company with offices across the United States. 205-506-0714, exitrealty.com


The Papa Murphy’s Pizza location at 5250 Medford Drive, next to the Sprouts grocery store, has closed. papamurphys.com

The Perfect Note music and restaurant venue at 1845 Montgomery Highway #201, in The Plaza at Riverchase, is closing after eight years at that location due to new management of the shopping center, owner Tremayne Thompson said. The new owners indicated the Perfect Note doesn’t fit the retail model and vision for the property, he said. Perfect Note’s last day of business will be June 15, but Thompson said he and his wife, Karen, are looking for another location in the Birmingham area. 205-986-7280, perfectnotelive.com

10 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
Business News to Share? Do you have news to share with the community about a business in Hoover or the greater Birmingham area? Let us know at starnesmedia.com/ business-happenings Independent Living • Assisted Living • Memory Care Lic #ALFD3771, SCALF P3725 *Limited time offer. Call for details. IT’S QUITE FASHIONABLE T O BE DOWN TO EARTH Ask About Our Special Savings!* 205.421.9397 truewoodriverchase.com 1851 Data Drive, Hoover, AL 35244 TRUEWOOD BY MERRILL SENIOR LIVING

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Redefining the common barbershop

Raul Chavez is reimagining the barbershop.

The 29-year-old Hoover High School graduate recently debuted Barber Bar by Fade Parlor in Inverness Village, with the aim of updating the barbershop experience for the modern age.

The Barber Bar by Fade Parlor experience is, first and foremost, a bar — sort of. The interior resembles a cigar lounge and has music playing. Once settled into the barber chair, each customer is offered one complimentary drink from the shop’s collection of beers, whiskeys and bourbons.

Chavez created the concept because he wanted to fill what he sees as an underserved market, while adding a new twist to the mundane task of getting a haircut. He wants the Barber Bar to be a place where clients can mellow out and take a break from stresses in their lives.

“There’s definitely a shortage of good barbershops in the Birmingham area. I noticed that from the very beginning and, as time passed, I eventually talked myself into capitalizing on that opportunity,” Chavez said.

Chavez opened his first Fade Parlor in downtown Birmingham, followed by a location in the Green Springs area of Homewood. He quickly opened and closed a location in Vestavia Hills before opening the Inverness Village barbershop in October 2023.

“When I was developing my own concept, I thought it would be super cool to have a barbershop that has a man cave feel to it, where guys can come in and be themselves and talk about whatever they wanted to talk about and have a drink if they want,” Chavez said.

Chavez took over a space formerly occupied by another shop using the Barber Bar name. After that business closed, Chavez said some of their former customers started coming into his other Fade Parlor locations and talking about the defunct barbershop.

Sensing an opportunity, Chavez snapped up

the space and expanded his business’s footprint. He also decided to keep Barber Bar as part of the name and incorporate it into the shop’s concept.

Chavez was introduced to barbering by his mother, who owned a hair salon. In his teens and lacking direction, Chavez began working in his mother’s shop despite having no real interest in pursuing barbering as a career.

“It wasn’t something that I really wanted to pursue. My mom kind of talked me into it, but it ended up being a huge blessing, and it just kind of snowballed into what it is now,” he said.

Over time, Chavez learned the trade, grew to enjoy the business and even took on management duties, all while looking for ways to improve and implement his own ideas for the shop.

His mother’s salon was a unisex shop with a largely female clientele, and Chavez realized there was a lack of places in Birmingham for a man to get a quality haircut or a shave in a masculine environment. Allowing customers to have a beer at the shop, for instance, was a notion that didn’t go over well with the shop’s owner, i.e. Mom.

“It was a different environment. It was kind of uptight, honestly,” Chavez said. “She was never fond of having a beer at the shop or anything like that.”

Now, as he expands his business, including a planned Fade Parlor location in Avondale, Chavez is determined to transform the barbershop from a necessity into an event.

“I always tell my staff and everybody that surrounds me we’re not selling haircuts. If people want to just get a haircut, they can go to Sports Clips, Great Clips, and pay $15. But that’s not what we’re about,” Chavez said. “We’re selling a whole experience.”

Barber Bar by Fade Parlor is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. The business is located at 4700 U.S. 280, Suite 11. Visit fadeparlor.com for more information.

12 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
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A stylist works with a client at the Barber Bar. The Barber Bar provides a unique haircut experience by offering clients a choice of beverages from the bar. Photo courtesy of the Barber Bar on Instagram.

The Greystone area of U.S. 280 now has two new additions to its dining scene: Cookie Fix and Super Chix.

Cookie Fix opened March 27, and Super Chix opened April 11, both in the same building at Bazaar 280, near the Walmart at Alabama 119.

Amy Jason, the founder of Cookie Fix, opened the first location in Homewood about seven years ago, and the business has experienced rapid growth ever since. The Greystone storefront marked the third in the Birmingham area, and a fourth opened April 17 in The Village at Brock’s Gap. There are now eight overall.

Their menu includes both fresh-baked cookies and frozen dough customers can bake at

home, as well as cookie cakes. The cookies baked in-store change daily.

Fatima Maldonado, the operator of the Greystone Cookie Fix location, began her career working as a shift leader at Taziki’s, and she said that gave her the experience she needs to operate her own franchise.

“I don’t find it as intimidating now as I once did. The investors have prepared me to manage my own location, and I am really looking forward to it,” she said.

Both the Greystone and Brock’s Gap locations of Cookie Fix are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The original location in Homewood is not open on Sundays.

Sharing space with Cookie Fix will be Super Chix, a Texas-based chain known for its madeto-order chicken meals, such as sandwiches

and tenders, as well as its hand-cut fries, side dishes and custard shakes.

Super Chix also has a location in Hoover at Stadium Trace Village.

Zeel Zaveri, the operator of the Hoover location, said, “We were the first location in Alabama, and now there are 30 locations across the country, with plans to grow more. We [Power Brands Hospitality Group] have the rights to Birmingham.”

Zaveri runs the day-to-day operations at the Super Chix Hoover location, and Perla Chavez was his first hire.

“I was a cashier at a Piggly Wiggly, and Zeel was looking for employees. He offered me a job,” Chavez said.

Chavez began her career at Super Chix in the kitchen, but she has since moved up to the front and has been managing the Hoover location.

When asked about the transition from becoming an employee to an operator, Chavez said, “The hardest part is getting things ready for when we open. It takes a lot of thinking and a lot of time.”

“We already have one store up and running, so we are already training over half of her staff over at the other location. We are blessed to have the right team, and because of that it is getting easier and easier,” Zaveri said.

“I am excited to be on this side of town and giving people the Super Chix experience from Hoover over here,” Chavez said.

Chavez and Maldonado said they are looking forward to working together and building their businesses off of one another.

For more information on each of these businesses, visit superchix.com and cookiefix.com.

HooverSun.com May 2024 • 13
Cookie Fix, Super Chix open in Greystone
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Above: The new Super Chix and Cookie Fix restaurants on U.S. 280 in Greystone. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney. Right: The Super Chix management team of Ramiro Ventura, George Cortez and Perla Chavez with the operators of Cookie Fix, Fatima Maldonado and Alex Bishop. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.

Hoover Realtors picked for HGTV show

Two Hoover Realtors with HBH Realty soon will begin filming for the HGTV show “The American Dream,” which will debut their episodes nationally in June.

“A lot of real estate shows can tend to show real estate in a more dramatic way,” said HBH Realtor Jordan Masaeid-Hosey, who will be featured on the show. “The CFO of the show we are filming, Craig Sewing, wanted to change the narrative and show a more positive angle of real estate, while showcasing the voices of Realtors for their markets.”

“The American Dream” is a national TV show where real estate professionals act as hosts. The show uses positive media about local neighborhoods to educate, empower and engage viewers with content that highlights the lifestyle and culture of communities across the country. Each episode is designed to explore distinctive points about a particular area and inspire the audience to achieve their own American dream.

Masaeid-Hosey and her colleague James Savelle will represent HBH Realty on the show, which begins filming throughout parts of Hoover and the surrounding areas in May. Each agent will host an episode of the show.

“I will be taking viewers on a journey exploring the lifestyles, cultures and real estate that make up Birmingham and the surrounding areas,” Savelle said. “This show will be a rollercoaster of excitement. Being a foodie, I will definitely be taking you on a culinary tour. We will journey through various neighborhoods with all types of real estate, as well as interviewing members of the community, business owners, celebrity guests and philanthropists.”

Savelle said his involvement on the show began when Sewing approached him to see if he was interested in representing Birmingham and the surrounding markets for the show.

“I thought, ‘Sure, why not? Let us see where this thing goes.’ After I responded to that initial email, everything was a whirlwind. Several Zoom meetings later and one afternoon while eating

lunch, boom, I got a call from one of the producers congratulating me for being one of the five hosts chosen to represent Birmingham and surrounding areas. I still don’t think I have processed it all, but I am eager to show off our wonderful home state.”

Both Masaeid-Hosey and Savelle said they are looking forward to showcasing Hoover to a national audience.

“Hoover has so much to offer,” Masaeid-Hosey said. “I want to show how advanced and diverse we are, and how well connected our community is and is still affordable, unlike many other major cities.”

Savelle said showcasing the heart and soul of Alabama, in addition to the houses, is something he hopes to accomplish while filming.

“I want to tear down any stereotypes and show viewers far and wide the many lifestyles and cultures we offer,” Savelle said. “I want to inspire, educate and shine a spotlight on the aspects of our communities that make so many Alabamians proud to call Alabama their home. I want viewers to see the show and think: ‘I could see myself living there.’”

Masaeid-Hosey said one of her favorite things about real estate is the versatility it provides.

“You can use it in so many facets,” she said. “From a primary home to an investment, to a midterm or short-term or long-term rental, you have so many options within real estate to establish generational wealth.”

Masaeid-Hosey and Savelle are looking forward to sharing people’s stories and showcasing business owners or those looking to sell a home while they film.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are just so excited about it,” Masaeid-Hosey said. “We hope to represent the city of Hoover well and look forward to letting others see how great it is to live here.”

Episodes of “The American Dream” can be found on HGTV, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Travel Channel, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and ROKU. For more information on specific episodes that will air at a future date, visit theamerican dreamnetwork.vhx.tv.

14 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
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Jordan Masaeid-Hosey and James Savelle of HBH Realty were chosen to host episodes of HGTV's “The American Dream” show that focus on Birmingham. Photo courtesy of HBH Realty.

Hoover parents concerned about background checks, explicit books

Some parents in Hoover schools took concerns about sexually graphic books and background checks for outsourced school aides to the Hoover Board of Education in April.

Parent Jon Kerr told the school board that dozens of complaints have been sent to Hoover school administrators about the aides that are being sent to Hoover schools by Kelly Educational Staffing.

Some children are feeling uncomfortable with the aides, and parents want to know if proper background checks are being done, Kerr said. At least nine employees of Hoover schools have contacted his wife with concerns about the contracted aides, asking her to investigate issues because they aren’t allowed to bring it up, he said.

Kerr said in many cases, outsourced aides haven’t been required to even present ID when they show up. He and other parents want to know what the school system is doing to make sure the company sending aides to work with Hoover children is doing proper background checks, and school officials are not responding, he said.

“We’ve had dozens of unreturned phone calls, unanswered correspondence,” Kerr said. “These are aides going back to our special needs children. That’s why we’re concerned. … It’s embarrassing for you to put those kinds of people in front of our most vulnerable students.”

During the April 9 school board meeting, Superintendent Kevin Maddox had Chris Zuber, senior director of client services for Kelly Educational Staffing, make a presentation to the school board about what his company does. Zuber said his company has been working

with Hoover City Schools for three years and works with 15 other school districts in Alabama and a total of 1,100 school districts in 42 states, providing support staff via contract. Hoover schools have 120 aides provided by his company, which saves the district about $1.3 million versus the cost of filling those roles with school system employees, he said.

His company follows state guidelines for background checks, doing fingerprinting, background assessments, interviews and pre-hire training, Zuber said. Kelly Educational Staffing goes beyond the state requirements by vetting employees through the national sex offender registry as well, he said.

Danille Nixon, public relations director for Kelly Education, said in an email that her company has proudly partnered with Hoover

Hoover parent Jon Kerr speaks to the Hoover Board of Education on April 9 about his concerns over explicit books In Hoover school libraries and background checks for contracted education aides. Photo by Jon Anderson.

City Schools for three years and continues to work collaboratively with the district to provide qualified candidates who support student learning goals.

Kerr said parents and some school system employees are not convinced the company is following through, and they are looking for Hoover school officials to provide assurances about the people given access to their children.

“How certain is this district that we are getting vetted people sent to our most vulnerable population?” Kerr said.

School system spokesperson Sherea Harris-Turner said after the school board meeting that the superintendent was not available for questions about that topic and directed any questions regarding background checks for Kelly Educational Staffing personnel to that company.


Parents also have concerns abouts books that children are being allowed to check out through a Sora ebook collection, particularly sexually explicit books.

Maddox said the Hoover school system has three ebook libraries — one for elementary students, one for middle school students and one for high school students. Parents were contesting two books that had “very mature sexually explicit content” — one of which was purchased for the library in 2015 and the other purchased in 2018, he said.

He reviewed the books and had both pulled from the catalog. “I do not believe explicit and graphic sexual content is age-appropriate for high school students,” Maddox said.

The Hoover school system the next day issued a statement that the district had initiated an internal audit of its Sora online library to ensure that similar books with mature sexual content are removed and told parents that access to that library would be cut off during the review.

“HCS encourages parents to communicate any concerns about library materials to their school librarian or administrator and monitor their child's selections from the collection,” the statement said. “The district remains committed to being proactive in our efforts to safeguard the well-being of our students and uphold our district's mission and values. We appreciate the cooperation and support of our community as we continue to prioritize our students.”

Kerr said he not only wants the books pulled, he also wants to know what the school system’s policy and procedure are for vetting those books. He said school officials were not responding to inquiries.

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Hoover events guide

May 2-3: Rissi Palmer in Concert. 7 p.m. Hoover Library Theatre. Country and rhythm and blues singer. Tickets $38. To get tickets, go to thelibrarytheatre.com.

May 4: Donor Dash for Life 5K. Registration at 8 a.m.; race at 9 a.m. Veterans Park. Fundraiser for the Donate Life Alabama nonprofit, which educates people about organ, eye and tissue donation and encourages people to register to donate. Cost is $30, plus a $3.95 signup fee. Prizes to top male and female runners, top team, top individual and team fundraisers and the team with the most spirit. Register at runsignup.com/Race/AL/Hoover/DonorDash4Life5K.

May 4: Art in the Village. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Brook City Hall. Art show featuring the work of more than 55 Mountain Brook Art Association artists, including at least 10 from Hoover. mountainbrookartassociation.com.

May 6-8: Scholastic Book Fair. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Hoover Public Library.

May 7: Hoover Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. 7:30 a.m. Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel. Guest speaker: Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze. Tickets: $40 each, or $400 for table of 10. Get tickets at thelibrarytheatre.com or 205-444-7888.

May 8-12: Regions Tradition Golf Tournament. Greystone Golf & Country Club. Celebrity Pro-Am is Wednesday, May 8 (gates open at 7 a.m.). PGA Tour Champions men’s senior competitive play is Thursday through Sunday, May 9-12. Gates open at 8 a.m. Play is 9:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Seventy-eight golfers will compete for a $2.6 million purse, including a top prize of $375,000. See more on page 21 or regionstradition.com.

May 9: An Evening with Sean of the South. 6:30 p.m. Hoover Library Theatre. Storyteller and songwriter Sean Dietrich. Tickets: $38 (sold out; to get on waiting list, call 205-444-7888).

May 11: Red Rocks Worship. 7 p.m. The Station Church. The music ministry team from Red Rocks Church, a multi-campus congregation based in Denver, is on a Good Plans Tour. Tickets are $25 ($20 each for groups of 10 or more) or $49 for early admission at 5:15 p.m. for a question-and-answer session and acoustic worship set with the team and a Red Rocks Worship T-shirt. For tickets, go to thestationchurch.org/events.

May 18: Kitty Kat Haven & Rescue 5K Meow-A-Thon & 1-Mile Whisker Walk. Check-in at 7 a.m.; 5K at 8 a.m.; 1-mile walk/run at 9:30 a.m. Veterans Park. A fundraiser for the Kitty Kat Haven & Rescue no-kill, cage-free shelter for cats and kittens. Cost is $25 ($15 for children 10 and younger) for the 5K and $15 ($5 for children 10 and younger) for the 1-mile walk/run through May 17. Price increases $5 day of race. Prizes will be given for top overall 5K male and female runners and top three male and female winners in age groups. Register at runsignup.com/meowathon.

May 19: Walk to Cure Arthritis. Registration at 2 p.m.; opening ceremony 2:30 p.m.; walk at 3 p.m. Veterans Park. Fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. People are encouraged to form teams to raise money and participate in the walk. Will include food, a resource fair and entertainment. To register, go to events.arthritis.org.

May 21-26: SEC Baseball Tournament. Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The top 12 teams in the Southeastern Conference compete for a conference championship. Games are 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Friday; noon and 3:30 p.m. Saturday; and the 2 p.m. championship game Sunday. General admission tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for ages 3-12. Six general admission tickets for $78. More information at secsports.com/championships/baseball-championship.

May 23: Grace Klein Community Golf Tournament. Registration and practice 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.; tee-off 1 p.m.; appetizers and awards ceremony 5:30 p.m. Ballantrae Golf Club, Pelham. Fundraiser for an organization that works to feed the hungry and respond to food insecurity in the greater Birmingham area. Cost: $175 per golfer. Register at gracekleincommunity.com/ golf-invitational-individual-signup.

May 24: Summer Reading Kickoff. 1-4 p.m. Hoover Public Library. Crafts and games for the whole family.

16 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
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Hometown star making most of NBA chance

Trey Jemison was certainly not expecting the call.

Following a game in January with the NBA G-League’s Birmingham Squadron, Jemison was dissatisfied with his performance. Frustrated at how he played that night, he ignored phone calls from his agent, who had a pretty important message.

“Pack your bags and go to Washington,” Jemison heard his agent tell him, once he answered the phone.

The Washington Wizards had signed Jemison to a 10-day NBA contract Jan. 20, and the Birmingham native made his NBA debut Jan. 24.

“I was in Homewood, driving to Target,” Jemison said. “I pulled over and cried, because I was so shocked. I’m thinking, ‘Now I’ve got a shot at this NBA thing.’”

Jemison, who attended Homewood and Hoover high schools and played college basketball at UAB, saw the floor twice in his time with Washington. Once that contract expired, the Memphis Grizzlies signed Jemison to a second 10-day contract.

In Memphis, Jemison has made a positive impression over the final stretch of the NBA season, which concluded in mid-April. He scored double-digit points for the first time Feb. 6, scoring 12 points against the New York Knicks.

The Grizzlies signed Jemison to a permanent two-way deal for the remainder of the season, and he made good on their faith in him. He posted a career-high 24 points in a win over the Wizards on March 12, followed by securing his first career double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds against the Detroit Pistons on April 5.

The last few months have been a whirlwind for Jemison, who has had several “wow” moments in his brief time in the NBA. He’s had the task

of guarding Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo twice. His first career start came against the Boston Celtics, and walking out on the court and seeing Celtics stars Kristaps Porziņģis, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford right next to him was surreal as well.

“This isn’t the video game, it’s real life,” Jemison said.

While in the NBA, Jemison has realized that the training and skill development he has put in over the years has allowed him to reach this stage

of his career. But, he also sees areas of needed improvement, like holding a more consistent sleep schedule and playing with more confidence. It’s all part of the learning process.

Jemison had the fortune of playing in his hometown while he was in the G-League, the minor league organization of the NBA. The fact that his parents, sister, godparents and other family and friends could see him play so often was a blessing he did not take for granted.

Jemison also credited the coaching staff and

Memphis Grizzlies’ Trey Jemison (55) against the Detroit Pistons on April 5 at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.

his teammates with the Squadron for helping him be able to reach the next level. He played well in Birmingham, averaging 10.9 points and 12 rebounds per game this season before his call-up.

After a much-needed vacation, it will be back to work for Jemison, as he attempts to stick in the NBA. He doesn’t want this year’s finishing stretch to be the highlight of his professional career.

“It’s one thing to get to the NBA, it’s another thing to get back [next year],” he said.

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The Ugandan connection

4 track and field freshmen find brotherhood from Ugandan background

While brothers often have at least one parent in common, that’s not always the case.

Identical twin brothers Eli and Isaac Wharton of Hoover, Isaiah Davis of Homewood and Moses Caldwell of Meadow Brook are one such case. Only the Whartons, of Hoover’s Lake Cyrus community, share the same mothers, but the foursome indeed have a shared connection that is like a brotherhood.

All four are adopted orphans from Uganda, now high school freshmen who all excel at track and field.

“I do, in a way, feel a type of kinship to Isaiah and Moses, even though we are not related,” Eli Wharton said. “I feel this way because of the sense that we were born in the same place and are growing up around each other.”

“Our families have been friends since we were little,” Isaac Wharton said. “We have the same heritage, Uganda, same-looking families. We may not be best friends, but we know we will always have that special connection.”

Davis feels that connection, too.

“We are all from Uganda, and I’ve known them since I was little,” he said. “I ran with the twins in kindergarten.”

Caldwell remembers going to each other’s birthday parties. “In the summer, we hung out a lot,” he said. “When we were in junior high and after COVID stuff, we couldn’t hang out as much, except school and everything. I love watching them run and race and compete. That’s one of my favorite things to watch.”

And each has made a name for himself as a runner.

Competing for Bessemer Academy, Eli Wharton was the Alabama Independent School Association 2023 varsity state champion in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter as an eighth grader and again this year as a ninth-grader. He broke the state record in both races this year. He was also the 2022 and 2023 AISA varsity and junior varsity state cross-country champion in eighth and ninth grades.

Isaac Wharton was the 2022 AISA varsity state champion in the 800-meter and second in the 1,600 and 3,200 to his brother as an eighth grader and again this year as a ninth-grader. He also set a new state record in the 800 this year. He was the 2023 AISA varsity and junior varsity state cross-country runner-up, again behind his brother, as a ninth grader.

Davis was one of two ninth graders to finish in the top 20 in cross-country for the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 6A. He finished 20th overall and was the top male finisher for Homewood High School, with a time of 16 minutes, 19.94 seconds.

The Patriot freshman ran a personal record time of 1 minute, 58.98 seconds in the 800meter during the indoor track season at the Last Chance Invitational meet in Birmingham in January. That wound up being the fourth fastest time for a freshman in the nation.

Davis finished fifth overall, at 52.41, in the 400-meter at the Icebreaker Invitational indoor meet in Birmingham in January, and in early March he was the second overall freshman in the 800 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in Boston, with a time of 2:00.15.

Caldwell competes for Briarwood Christian High School, competing in discus and shot put. As an eighth grader, he broke the Briarwood Junior High school record and the Southern Conference record in discus.


Bessemer Academy coach Bob Spurgeon said the Wharton twins are just special and different. “Last year, they were winning state races,” Spurgeon said. “In the 3,200, 1,600, 800 as eighth graders, they were competing at the

varsity level. They’re not just talented athletes, but they’re great kids. They’re just super-polite, well-mannered, great kids. And not only are they phenomenal athletes, but being that they’re

freshmen, they’re also leaders on the team.”

The coach, who teaches the twins in his honors English class, said they excel in the classroom as well. “You’ve got phenomenal

athletes, phenomenal kids, and they’re also phenomenal students,” he said. “That’s a great thing. They are able to make great grades and compete at a very high level, especially considering the fact that they’re ninth graders.”

Kelly McNair coaches distance runners at Homewood High. She said Davis is a very talented, humble freshman with a lot of potential.

“Isaiah is extremely, extremely talented in the 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200 and 5K,” McNair said. “The talent lies in that he could race and be in our top three for all of those. If you are a strong 400 or 800 runner, you’re not typically a strong distance guy, like in the 5K. He has the potential to excel across the board.”

So what’s his ceiling?

“That’s a great question, a fantastic question,” the coach said. “I don’t even know where his limit is, honestly. My priority with him is going to be to keep him healthy. I try not to overtrain him. I don’t want to push too much mileage, too much speed work. He’s responding well to what we’re doing, so I’m gonna continue to hold back a little bit on training right now.”


Caldwell breaks the mold of the Ugandan quartet as he competes in the throwing events of discus and shot put. In doing so, he takes after his adoptive father.

“One day doing garage work, I found all my dad’s shot puts and discus from college,” Moses recalled from his days as a rising fourth grader. “I had been asking about [them], and then we got me my own tiny shot put to throw in the yard. I wanted to go to some track meets that summer.”

His adoptive father, Josh Caldwell, is a volunteer coach at Briarwood and couldn’t have been more pleased, as his son’s interest in the sport brought back memories of him and his father.

“When I was 15, my dad spent a lot of time teaching me, helping me learn how to throw. It was a really great experience through college, and then I helped coach after college with some area schools,” he said.

“I thought it was exciting, and I looked forward to seeing if he was interested in it. But I wanted him to be interested. I didn’t want to just tell him to do it. I wanted him to be interested in it, too,” Josh Caldwell said.

Briarwood track coach Aaron Margene said

18 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
Above: Isaac and Eli Wharton, identical twins from Uganda and freshmen at Bessemer Academy, on the track at Hoover High School. Left: Isaac, left, and Eli compete in the boys 800-meter run during the Bulldog Invitational at Birmingham Southern College on March 16. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney. Eli Wharton, Isaac Wharton, Moses Caldwell and Isaiah Davis during a track meet at Hoover High School in June 2022. Photo courtesy of Staci Caldwell.

Moses is a great young athlete with some lofty goals, whose work ethic will allow him to go after them.

“The thing that I find most compelling about him is his knowledge and skill of discus and shot put at such a young age,” Margene said. “It is obvious that his dad is very knowledgeable and that Moses soaks up whatever information and technique that he can.

“He’s right now undersized [compared] to a lot of the guys that he’s competing against,” the coach said. “When he’s done growing and maturing, he’s gonna be a really big force in the shot and the discus, especially the discus. He’s third on our team this year, and the two guys in front of them are both seniors, much bigger than he is.”


The Whartons have four biological children, a daughter and three sons, each of whom is now an adult. Angie Wharton said she had a friend who had adopted a daughter from China, and God “laid it [adoption] on my heart.

I couldn’t shake it.”

“Every time I’d see her and talk to her about her adoption process, my chest felt like it was going to explode. I remember asking Kelcey [her husband] about it,” she continued. “‘What do you think about adoption?’ My two youngest big kids were in high school. He laughed and said, ‘I think we need to pray about it.’”

The couple visited Lifeline, an adoption agency. “We knew immediately when we started talking about Uganda, that’s where we’re supposed to adopt from,” she said. “It just wouldn’t go away. It just kept piercing our hearts. We just started the process, and here we are.”

Briefly, Angie Wharton questioned if she’d be able to handle multiple children. Then she got a post-Mother’s Day call from Claire Davis, a social worker with Lifeline (and Isaiah Davis’s mother).

“‘Would you consider twins?’” she recalled her asking. “Of course, I started screaming on the other end. Yes! If God wants me to take twins, I’m gonna take twins. We got the pictures the day after Father’s Day.”

Claire Davis said she and her husband, Joel, have different stories of coming to a place of wanting to adopt a child.

“I knew in college that I wanted to enter a helping profession, and I was really interested in adoption,” she recalled. “I began my professional career working in adoption, and I worked with our Uganda program, back in 2009.

“Joel and I ... we’re Christians, and we also know that we’re adopted, and we know what the Bible says about being adopted into God’s family,” she said. “That always really stood out to us.”

Joel Davis remembers talking about adoption before he and Claire were married, but it was something they thought would happen when they were older. Trips to orphanages and Peru and Haiti, however, brought the idea to the forefront. In addition to adopting Isaiah from Uganda, the Davises also adopted a 13-year-old son, Nico, from the Congo and gave birth to 11-year-old Benji.

Like the Davises, the Caldwells went to Samford University. Staci Caldwell remembers

Josh, who she was dating at the time, saying he needed to talk to her.

“I thought he was about to break up with me,” she said. “He actually said, ‘I just want you to know that I don’t know if I ever want to have birth children. I only want to adopt.’ I said, ‘Great. Me too.’”

The couple got engaged four months later and were married nine months after that.

“It’s always been our plan to grow our family through adoption,” she said.

The Caldwells have a second adoptive son, an 11-year-old from Haiti. Staci Caldwell said the commandment to care for orphans and widows in James 1:27 led them to choose this path.

“We wanted to care for children who might not have a home,” she said. “Those are the children who are at the greatest risk. We wanted our life to count for more than having a job or doing something that was maybe the easiest thing to do. We really wanted the Lord to use our life in a way that wasn’t maybe conventional or normal, if that makes sense. We know we were not born into His family, but He saved us.”

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Left: Moses Caldwell, a freshman at Briarwood Christian School, throws a discus during practice on April 1. Right: Isaiah Davis, a freshman at Homewood High School, runs during track and field practice at Waldrop Stadium on April 3. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Spain Park’s Tatum Ahlemeyer (19) and Oak Mountain’s Faith Harrell (23) move toward the ball in an area game at Heardmont Park on April 9. Photos

Setting new standards

Spain Park senior goes above and beyond to lead Jags

Humility is defined as the absence of pride or arrogance.

Pride and arrogance could not be further from people’s minds when they talk about the way Tatum Ahlemeyer conducts herself.

If the Spain Park High School senior and star soccer player showed those characteristics from time to time, it would be understandable. Ahlemeyer has played on the Spain Park varsity team since she was in seventh grade, helped lead the program to the 2022 Class 7A state championship and has the Jags on a similar path this spring in her senior season.

Instead, there’s a common theme in the stories told about Ahlemeyer.

Following a thrilling win over Vestavia Hills in the state semifinals in 2022, Ahlemeyer’s first instinct was to console the Vestavia goalkeeper, who had just surrendered the game-winning goal.

Leading up to the state championship game that same year, Ahlemeyer wrote a personalized card for each player on the team, detailing their personal importance and significance to her.

For the last six years, Ahlemeyer has been the type of player to pick up cones and carry equipment to and from the field, no matter her status on the team. That duty is often seen as a rite of passage of sorts for younger players throughout many sports, but Ahlemeyer has never let that be the case in her time at Spain Park.

Ahlemeyer even runs beyond what’s required of her, to ensure teammates have an encouraging voice alongside them.

Those are just some of the many ways Spain Park coach Robert Starr has seen Ahlemeyer impact his program over the years. And naturally, Ahlemeyer would never bring up any of them on her own accord.

“You don’t get those kinds of people very often,” he said.

The 2024 season has already been a special one for Spain Park, with the hopes that it culminates in another championship. The Jags had won each of their first 19 games through April 16, with only a few regular season games remaining before the playoffs began.

Ahlemeyer is one of five seniors on this year’s team, part of a group that has played

together for many years, dating back to their Berry Middle School days.

“What people have said over and over and over again, by parents, teammates, coaches and players, is that this team connects so well,” Ahlemeyer said. “It’s hard to get that with high school teams because groups are changing so much. We’ve been able to grow up and get to know each other really well over the years. It’s come together this year.”

There is some young, dynamic talent mixing with those older, experienced players as well. Players like sophomore Reese Oldfield and many others have provided a boost for the Jags.

“We’ve got the right mix of returning players who have been there and done that, and good leadership,” Starr said. “We have some talented players and some younger ones.”

Ahlemeyer began playing with the varsity team her seventh grade year. People joke with her that she did not say a word during the first

two years of her career, but she has matured and grown more confident as she has progressed.

“Your play improves throughout the years and you grow in confidence that way,” she said. “One of the really cool things has been being able to shape the culture to what you see is best. Having the opportunity and privilege to do that along with the other seniors, that’s been the biggest change [in me].”

Ahlemeyer will never be mistaken for the loud, boisterous leader, but she has become more comfortable in her leadership position and the weight it carries.

“It’s important that your words and actions embody that and stay constant through the highs and lows,” she said.

Starr commends Ahlemeyer for how deeply she cares about “one through 18,” meaning every player on the roster. Her gentle spirit is one of her greatest strengths, but sometimes she has to push that aside and not be so respectful

” You can appreciate the soccer talent, but the soccer is secondary. I can appreciate the genuine person that she is. She’s unlike anybody I’ve coached before.

toward opponents.

That’s a conversation they have certainly had a few times over the last few years.

“It’s time if you’re a dominant player, go out and act like it,” Starr has told her. “Don’t be apologetic. If you’re better than that person, then just be better than that person.”

Ahlemeyer considers her faith to be one of the most important aspects of her life, and that is one of the things that attracted her to Lipscomb University, where she has signed to play college soccer.

“I can’t wait to get up there, but I’m trying to soak in all these last moments,” she said. “It’s going by fast. It’s been the best.”

Starr firmly believes Ahlemeyer should have been more heavily recruited, but he has no doubt she will be a great benefit to Lipscomb’s program. He’s witnessed firsthand the work she puts in, many times by herself in the mid-summer heat, kicking soccer balls against a bench on the practice field.

“If anybody spends any time with Tatum, it’s like, ‘Yes, I want this kid,’” he said.

“Soccer has been a really sweet and special avenue, and it’s made me who I am in so many ways,” Ahlemeyer said. “You learn so much about yourself, and I know that through soccer I have come to learn the character of the Lord in so many ways, and it gives me purpose.”

Ahlemeyer also played basketball growing up and is part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and First Priority clubs at Spain Park.

“I hope and pray that in every circumstance, whether it’s on the field or off the field, first I know I am an ambassador for Christ,” she said.

Starr knows full well that he will be telling stories of Ahlemeyer and asking others, “What would Tatum do?” for many years to come.

“You can appreciate the soccer talent, but the soccer is secondary. I can appreciate the genuine person that she is,” he said.

“She’s unlike anybody I’ve coached before.”

20 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
by Erin Nelson Sweeney. Spain Park’s Tatum Ahlemeyer (19) possesses the ball in an area game at Heardmont Park on April 9.

Regions Tradition coming back to Greystone May 8-12

Greystone Golf and Country Club is busy preparing for the 2024 Regions Tradition, one of five major championships on the PGA Tour Champions men’s professional senior golf tour.

This year’s tournament is scheduled for May 8-12, with the celebrity Pro-Am taking place on Wednesday, May 8, and four days of competitive golf May 9-12.

Seventy-eight professional golfers are scheduled to participate, including Steve Stricker, who won three out of the last four Regions Tradition tournaments and came in second in 2021 and 2018.

Other golfers in the lineup include Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, Jim Furyk, John Daly, Miguel Angel Jimenez, David Toms, Mike Weir and Tom Lehman. Golfers with Alabama ties who are scheduled to attend include Florence native Stewart Cink, former University of Alabama golfers Jason Bohn and Dicky Pride and former University of South Alabama golfer Heath Slocum.

The purse for the tournament this year is $2.6 million, up by $100,000, and the firstplace winner gets $375,000, tournament director George Shaw said.

New Alabama football coach Kalen DeBoer is scheduled to participate in the celebrity ProAm, along with Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze, UAB football coach Trent Dilfer, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats, Auburn football coach Bruce Pearl, former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, country music star Riley Green, sports media personality Paul Finebaum and U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville.

The gates open for the celebrity Pro-Am at 7 a.m. May 8, with tee times stretching from 6:50 to 9 a.m. and noon to 2:10 p.m. at the first

and tenth holes.

For competitive play Thursday-Sunday, the gates open at 8 a.m., and play is scheduled to run from 9:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Live coverage on The Golf Channel is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Play is being extended later than usual on Saturday and Sunday because Sunday is Mother’s Day, and organizers want to allow people more time to have lunch with their mothers before coming to the tournament or watching it on TV, Shaw said.

The live concert that normally has been held on Saturday night is being moved to Friday night and will take place immediately after play ends (estimated at about 4:30 p.m.) at

the White Claw Watering Hole. This year, The Black Jacket Symphony is the chosen band, and the group will play a variety of classic rock hits from different artists, Shaw said.

A new feature this year is the Casamigos Club, which is a tent with prime viewing of the 18th green and upgraded food and craft cocktail offerings. People can get a ticket with access to the grounds and to the Casamigos Club for $85, but food and drinks will cost extra, Shaw said.

Most prime viewing tents cost much more and usually are bought up by corporations, Shaw said. Tournament organizers wanted to provide some less pricey options to give individuals better viewing opportunities, he said.

This year, there also will be a ladies long drive contest after regular play ends on Thursday. The competition will feature 15 women

Regions Tradition

► WHAT: PGA Tour Champions major senior men’s championship and Celebrity Pro-Am

► WHEN: May 8-12

► WHERE: Greystone Golf and Country Club

► TICKETS: $30 (children 15 and younger get in free with ticketed adult)

► WEB: regionstradition.com

who qualified at the driving simulator at the PGA Tour Superstore in Inverness Plaza in April.

Estimating attendance for the tournament is challenging because so many people with homes along the course have large parties, but Shaw said approximately 70,000 to 75,000 people came last year.

The Coca-Cola Spectators Village and its food trucks were so popular last year that organizers are adding several more food trucks this year, Shaw said. Some of those scheduled to come include Krazy Good BBQ, Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Wasabi Juan’s and Seeds Coffee.

The 2023 Regions Tradition raised more than $1.3 million for charity, and the tournament has raised more than $23 million since it started as the Bruno’s Memorial Classic in 1992, Shaw said. Children’s of Alabama hospital is the largest beneficiary, but many other nonprofits receive money through the Birdies for Charity program.

General admission tickets for the tournament cost $30, but children ages 15 and younger get in free with a ticketed adult. Group ticket packages are available from $425 to $1,500. For more information or to buy tickets, to go regionstradition.com.

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PGA Pro Retief Goosen tees off on hole 1 during the Drummond Company Celebrity ProAm of the Regions Tradition benefiting Children’s of Alabama in May 2023 at Greystone Golf and Country Club. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.


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Spain Park head coach Chris Laatsch high-fives his team after the Jags defeated Huntsville 60-51 in the Class 7A boys Northeast Regional Final at Jacksonville State University’s Pete Matthews Coliseum in February 2022. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Chris Laatsch named new basketball coach at Orange Beach


A familiar quote has resonated strongly with Chris and Leigh Laatsch in recent days.

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” the quote from A.A. Milne reads. That adequately describes — even if it doesn’t fully encapsulate — the emotions surrounding the couple’s next move.


► For a longer version of this story, visit us online at hoover sun.com

On April 11, Chris Laatsch was approved as the next boys basketball coach at Orange Beach High School, following six years at Spain Park High School.

Laatsch said he was certainly not looking to leave Spain Park, a program that he rebuilt and took to three consecutive state final fours.

“It’s so good here with the administration and our facilities, and most importantly, the people that I get to be with every day. That’s what makes it so hard to leave. But the excitement of what’s next is extremely exciting, and there’s an opportunity to try and do something

great,” he said. Laatsch’s basketball acumen is unquestioned. He’s taken six teams to the state final four and has accumulated 496 wins as a head coach. But he and his wife have always thought of the job as much more.

“Being married to a basketball coach is such a blessing, because wherever Chris has coached, it’s been part of our life journey together. Different places where he’s coached, God has always used those experiences to teach us more about how we can be the best God has called us to be, to reach these student-athletes, families and communities,” Leigh Laatsch said.

Orange Beach High is in its fourth year of existence, so Chris Laatsch will get the chance to do something he has proven adept at: taking a program from its foundation and bringing stability and success. A new $46 million athletics complex is being built and should be completed by the 2025-26 school year.

He will begin his tenure with the Makos on June 1.

22 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
by Birmingham Museum of Art February 17–August 18, 2024
Presented by PNC, with generous support from the Alabama Power Foundation, EBSCO Industries, Protective Life Foundation, Vulcan Materials Company and the Warner Foundation; as well as the patronage of the Marian and Albert Oberman Fund and CraneWorks. We also gratefully acknowledge the significant support of Sallie and Jim Johnson, as well as the contributions of Gail Andrews and Richard Marchase, Graham Boettcher, Lydia Cheney and Jim Sokol, and Dora and Sanjay Singh. Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume is curated by the Walt Disney Archives.

By the numbers: March 2023 vs. 2024


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By March, the mayor had pulled the performing arts center out of the tax incentive proposal, saying the city may put the performing arts center elsewhere, and greatly reduced the amount of tax incentives the developer could receive.

Kadish, who already has invested more than $1 million into plans for Phase 2, said he felt he had been double-crossed and was upset with Mayor Frank Brocato. He called the mayor dishonest and said City Council President John Lyda was “the most evil, despicable person I’ve seen in local government,” though he later apologized for those remarks.

Three weeks later, in a council meeting on April 1, Lyda called out Kadish for having a felony conviction for grand larceny more than 20 years ago and would not allow Kadish to address the matter.

The City Council had a new proposal on the table from Broad Metro that was more generous than what the mayor was proposing, but the council ended up tabling it and asking Kadish to have more meetings with residents in the adjacent Trace Crossings community.

As of mid-April, Kadish was having those meetings, and the matter was slated to come up again at the May 6 council meeting.

The development plan and proposed tax incentive package have generated much buzz in the community.

There’s a tremendous amount of interest in Hoover getting a performing arts center, and many people in the arts community have rallied behind the effort to put one in the second phase of Stadium Trace Village.

Councilman Curt Posey, who is the council’s liaison to the Hoover Arts Council, said Stadium Trace Village is an ideal location because of all the restaurants and two hotels in the first phase, close proximity to Interstate 459 and the amphitheater planned in the Village Green section of the development.

Brocato and Lyda both said they support the idea of a performing arts center but have noted there are other potential sites for it, some of which are being offered to the city at no cost. Broad Metro is asking the city to pay $2.75 million, or appraised value if that’s less, for an 11-acre graded tract.

Posey said just because land is being offered for free doesn’t make it a good location.


The second phase of Stadium Trace Village has generated mixed response from neighboring subdivisions in Trace Crossings.

Some residents say they like the plan and are eager to see the entertainment, retail and medical amenities close by.

Trace Crossings resident David Bannister noted there are several communities in the area for people ages 55 and older who could benefit from close proximity to an outpatient surgery center. Others have said they like the developer’s plan to add golf cart paths to connect people’s homes with the performing arts center, golf entertainment center, amphitheater and restaurants in Stadium Trace Village.

But other residents have expressed concerns about blasting, light and noise pollution, and a road that was proposed to tie into Brock’s Gap Parkway.

Numerous residents in communities off Brock’s Gap Parkway spoke against making that road connection, saying it would be in a dangerous spot and add to existing traffic problems. In response, Kadish said he doesn’t need to connect the road. In fact, it would save him $4 million not to connect it, he said.

That decision doesn’t have to be


made now and can be delayed for a few years while plans continue for the new Interstate 459 Exit 9 nearby, he said.

Kadish also said there will be no blasting in areas near homes but he is willing to put up bonds to cover any damages if that occurs. He also doesn’t believe noise or lights will be a problem because of the location selected for Golf Suites and because of the 100-foot natural buffer he plans to leave in place, in addition to the 50-foot utility easement that is between Stadium Trace Village and adjacent homes. The performing arts center would be completely indoors, he said.

Some residents of the adjacent Scout Creek neighborhood have been vocal supporters of Broad Metro’s plans because Kadish and his engineers have a plan to invest $2.25 million into a stormwater drainage system along Scout Creek and constructed wetlands just above the creek to filter sediment and improve water quality for the lakes in Trace Crossings.

Residents of Scout Creek for a decade have complained about construction runoff from area developments leaving a muddy mess in their lake.

Dr. Peter DeFranco said Kadish, when he developed the first phase of Stadium Trace Village, has been the only developer in that area who has successfully kept sediment from eroding into their lake, and he’s thankful Kadish is stepping up to solve a problem that he didn’t create.

The Cahaba River Society also wrote a letter praising the development plan.

“The staging of the work, innovative stormwater approaches and plans to reduce erosion are extensive,” wrote Cahaba River Society Executive Director Beth Stewart and River Sustainability Director Karen Bareford in a letter to the Hoover City Council. “Further, the intent to account for all disturbance in the basin and manage upstream impacts by others is noble. The fact that this will result in almost build out of the basin makes this goal even more impressive. … We believe this development has the potential to be a resource and case study to help lead an era of more responsible development in Hoover, the greater Birmingham area and beyond.”


Lyda, the council president, has said he doesn’t want to do business with a convicted felon.

According to Florida Supreme Court records, Kadish in 2002 was convicted of grand larceny, a second-degree felony, in New York and was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $655,035. He was

Key Players

Dr. Peter DeFranco Jr., resident of Scout Creek and supporter of the development


disbarred from practice as an attorney in New York in 2002 and in Florida in 2007, with a Florida court record citing a dishonest or selfish motive, a pattern of misconduct and multiple offenses.

Kadish admitted he has made past mistakes and made poor decisions involving gambling after being prescribed opioids for a sports injury. But he said he self-reported his offense and made restitution, and he noted that a New York judge later sealed his offense record, citing a demonstrated record of good moral character.

It’s been more than 20 years, and he has worked hard to rebuild his life, he said.

Councilman Steve McClinton said everyone has a past and deserves a chance to rebuild their life and Kadish has proven himself a solid developer.


One of the biggest sticking points among city officials appears to be the amount of the tax breaks.

Brocato said discussions began with a $7 million incentive package over 15 years, with the city and developer splitting tax revenues equally, but it ballooned over time to as high as $60 million.

Records show that the city attorney, with input from the mayor’s staff and council, made a counteroffer to Broad Metro in January with tax incentives

totaling $42.5 million and total incentives for the developer valued at $57 million.

According to Kadish, a later offer from the city offered incentives up to $33 million. So he was shocked to see Brocato present a proposal to the council with a cap of $22 million in tax incentives and no performing arts center on March 18, he said.

Posey and McClinton said they didn’t think it was right for the mayor to reduce incentives that much and take out the performing arts center if the developer had been offered more previously and given promises that the city would not consider other sites for the arts center while in negotiations with Broad Metro.

McClinton said he believes the mayor was trying to kill the deal with Broad Metro because the mayor is concerned that the surgery center proposed in Stadium Trace Village could hurt the city’s efforts to get a certificate of need from the state for another surgery center in the Riverwalk Village development in Riverchase.

McClinton said he wants the surgery center in Riverchase to be successful, but not at the expense of another entity that wants to do the same thing.

“Government should not pick winners and losers,” McClinton said. “Let the market dictate who wins and loses.”

Brocato said his stance on the Stadium Trace Village development and Riverwalk Village development are unrelated. “They have nothing to do with each other — nothing whatsoever,” the mayor said.

He is not trying to kill the Stadium Trace Village development, he said. “From day one, I have tried to get this deal done.”

After Brocato made his proposal offering up to $22 million in tax incentives, the council entertained a higher proposal from Broad Metro that would provide up to $28 million in tax breaks, or $30 million if the city doesn’t build a performing arts center within three years.

That proposal would give Broad Metro 75% of new sales and lodging taxes and 100% of construction-related sales taxes over 15 years for property in Stadium Trace Village Phase 2 and 100% of sales and lodging taxes over 10 years for the new parts of Stadium Trace Village Phase 1 (such as the Village Green and hotel properties), up to a maximum of $22 million.

It also would give Broad Metro up to $6 million in non-educational property tax rebates, for a total of $28 million maximum.

The city would pay Broad Metro $2.75 million for a graded 11-acre site for the performing arts center.

Brocato and Economic Development Manager Greg Knighton said the incentives being sought by Broad Metro are more than the city usually offers. Brocato said he would rather split tax revenues with Broad Metro on a 50/50 basis, which the city has done with most previous tax incentive deals.

McClinton said the city was more generous with incentive money for Riverwalk Village, with $16 million in cash payments over 10 years and sales tax rebates of 85%. The upfront payments to Broad Metro are much less, McClinton said.

Kadish concurred and said the Hoover school system will gain $3.5 million annually in additional property tax revenue from year one.

“We don’t get any additional incentives unless we’re successful and we’re generating additional taxes from this property,” Kadish said. “If I don’t do what I say and I don’t deliver, there are no incentives.”

As of the Hoover Sun’s press date, the Hoover City Council was slated to take up the incentive package again on May 6.

City of Hoover Performing Arts Center Furniture store Golf Suites
Metro. I-459 ALABAMA 150
Above: A map shows the Stadium Trace Village development. The section outlined in blue denotes the first phase of the development and the section outlined in yellow marks the proposed second phase. Map courtesy of Broad
Developer William Kadish, CEO of Broad Metro Mayor Frank Brocato, negotiated with Broad Metro more than 14 months Councilman Steve McClinton, strong supporter of the development Council President John Lyda, has opposed a deal with Kadish
24 • May 2024 Hoover Sun 25-bed surgery center
Councilman Curt Posey, liaison to the Hoover Arts Council

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CONTINUED from page 1

Other goals include upgrading and adding to existing city parks and recreational amenities, adding more parks and amenities to fill in gaps of service, and expanding recreational programming, in particular to include more outdoor adventure, nature and environmental, fitness and wellness programs.

Surveys, town hall meetings and focus group meetings revealed that Hoover residents like to use the existing trails in the city and have a strong desire for more, especially trails that lead to waterways such as the Cahaba River and other scenic spots.


The Cahaba River is the longest substantially free-flowing river in Alabama and among the most biodiverse rivers in the United States. Twenty miles of it are in the city of Hoover, the most Cahaba River frontage of any city, Hoover City Planner Mac Martin said.

“That should be our No. 1 emphasis, utilizing that wonderful asset in our community that, unfortunately to this point, we’ve kind of grown with our backs to it,” Martin said. “We should be proud of the amount of miles on the Cahaba and that wonderful resource.”

The concept is to build a highly accessible, hard-surface trail along the river that is 8 to 12 feet wide and secondary trails that link people to the river’s edge, key destinations, rest areas or other paths.

The city should treat the Cahaba River Trail like a linear park, according to the plan, and consider high-quality wayfinding and interpretive signs, scenic rest areas with trailside amenities and river access points to further develop the corridor as a tourist destination.

“The Cahaba River Trail has the power to be an iconic and transformative project for Hoover,” the plan says.

The proposal is to create five new access points to the river (kayak and canoe launches) and upgrade three existing ones to make it easy and fun to enjoy the river.

Trails along the river and new and upgraded access points or kayak launches should adhere to standards identified by the Cahaba River Society in order to make sure the trails and amenities are functional, yet protect the river and minimize degradation of water quality and habitat in the floodway, according to the plan.

The plan calls for a feasibility study for the Cahaba River Trail that would identify “quick-win” segments that can be moved into design while the city continues to secure funding for future segments.

The long-term plan also identifies five other proposed trail corridors throughout the city, which could be developed as greenways that connect with the Cahaba River Trail:

► Shades Crest and Shades Creek Trails: This trail network would give people a way to enjoy both the top and bottom of Shades Mountain. It would include a primary trail along the ridgeline near Shades Crest Road to give people access to scenic vistas, another primary trail along Shades Creek for people to enjoy the riverbed and at least one trail connecting the two. This trail network also could potentially connect with the Moss Rock Preserve trails and a proposed Bluff Park Preserve in the area of Tip Top Grill and the historic Lover’s Leap/Sunset Rock. Further south, this same trail network could potentially connect with the Black Creek Mountain Bike Park in Trace Crossings, the Hoover Met Complex and Flemming Park along the Cahaba River.

► Patton Creek Greenway: This would be a trail from Shades Crest Road near Interstate 65 to Shades Mountain Elementary School, Blue Ridge Park and down the mountain to Patton Creek and Hoover Country Club, eventually tying into the Moss Rock Preserve and the Patton Creek and Riverchase Galleria shopping centers.

► Galleria Trail Loop: This would be a 4.3-mile circuit loop around the Patton Creek and Riverchase Galleria shopping centers that connects with the Cahaba-Riverchase Greenway Trailhead next to Riverchase Elementary School, as well as Chase Lake Park and the Riverchase Sports Park.

► Sports Park Loop: This would be a 9-mile loop between Hoover Sports Park East, the Spain Park Sports Complex and

Riverchase Sports Park via the Cahaba River Trail, Acton Creek and side paths along Heatherwood Drive and Southlake Parkway. This loop would tie into the existing trails at Veterans Park and could provide a location for 15K races.

► Greystone Connector: This trail would branch off the Cahaba River Trail and connect with the Hoover Archery Park, Inverness Nature Park and a playground in the Greystone community.

Currently, many of the city’s trails are in isolated areas. The idea here is to connect these trail networks and give people non-automobile routes between different parts of town, pedestrian paths to amenities and places to exercise or enjoy nature.

These greenways also could connect other trail networks, such as the Red Rock Trail System, Lakeshore Trail and Red Mountain Park in Jefferson County and Oak Mountain State Park and trail systems in Pelham and Helena in Shelby County, Martin said.

“We, in essence, are the doorway from one side of the metro area to the other,” he said.

Matt Leavell, an architect and urban planner who specializes in outdoor recreation and conducted a regional trail study for the city of Hoover, said trails and outdoor recreation often are seen solely as something to improve quality of life, but they actually can be used as an economic development tool, similar to what Hoover is doing with sports tourism.

If marketed, maintained and managed properly, trails and outdoor recreational opportunities can be substantial tools to draw in visitors, who stimulate the economy with food, lodging, gasoline and retail purchases, Leavell said.

A 2014 study done for the 28-mile Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system, located in Gulf State Park in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, found that the average person visiting those trails spent $144 in the area during their visit, Leavell said. That trail system, which opened its first leg in 2003, has brought in 600,000 visitors, which means a multi-million-dollar impact each year, he said.


Surveys also show that people overall are satisfied with the existing parks and recreation facilities in Hoover and would rather the city prioritize improvements to those rather than build new parks. Focused upgrades and additions could build upon successes and help the parks play to their strengths, according to the Parks, Public Spaces & Recreation Plan.

Survey respondents also indicated that they would like more connections to parks and a more diverse offering of park amenities. Park users said they would like to see parks made more accessible to people with mobility challenges and want the city to use parks as a way to protect naturally sensitive

areas, such as wetlands, and community assets, such as scenic viewpoints like the view atop Shades Mountain in Bluff Park.

The plan also calls for the city to have consistent signage among its 32 city parks to help identify them as being part of the city’s park system and to make sure each park has elements such as proper lighting, benches, trash receptacles, dog comfort stations and shade areas.

The city also needs to do a better job of marketing its parks and facilities so people know they are available, Martin said.

“They’re best-kept secrets, and they don’t need to stay that way,” he said.

Building more partnerships with other entities for use of park and recreation facilities would increase awareness and usage, according to the plan. Potential partners include developers, historical societies, schools, libraries, businesses, the YMCA, environmental groups, fitness groups, health care organizations, artists, performers and vendors.

The plan also identified a need to make sure parks are well maintained, with up-todate amenities and careful attention to wear and tear of facilities.

“Too often, neighborhood parks are cut-and-paste empty lawns, with a faded entrance sign and proverbial tumbleweeds ambling across the landscape in the distance,” the plan says. “Having access to a park is not the same as having access to a

26 • May 2024 Hoover Sun
Maps of the trails within the city of Hoover, at top, and a map of the Blueway Routes and access points along the Cahaba River. Maps courtesy of city of Hoover.

high-quality park with relevant amenities that excite and respond to the needs of the residents.”

And while residents prefer additions and upgrades to existing parks in most cases, the park plan identified some gaps in the city that are considered underserved, such as Greystone, Ross Bridge and areas along

property and create a Bluff Park Preserve to protect some undeveloped and historic areas of Shades Mountain. However, the primary areas are privately owned, and the plan recommends a third party such as the Friends of Shades Mountain take the lead in that effort.


was skate parks, according to survey results. Dog parks, BMX parks and water spray parks also were noted as popular amenities in today’s world, and some residents called for an outdoor public pool and more indoor activities such as roller skating or bowling.

The plan also recommends the city expand its outdoor programming and explore

providing space for residents to do the same, the plan says.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department currently is adequately staffed for a city its size, but Hoover is nearing 100,000 people, which would put the city into another category for comparison, the plan says. To operate more effectively in the

May 2024 27 HooverSun.com
Above: Veronica Walker, a student at John Carroll Catholic High School, practices at the Hoover Archery Park. Residents in a survey expressed a desire for more non-traditional sporting opportunities, including archery and skateboarding. Right: Jackson Reagan does an ollie over a curb at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex. The No. 1 desired amenity in city parks was a skate park. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
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