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Work Progresses

As the replacement of the Patton Creek bridge on Patton Chapel Road comes to a close, Jefferson County officials move on to the realignment of a four-way intersection in front of Gwin Elementary School.



BENTON NISSAN OF HOOVER Gener al Manager M a t t Ro d g e rs & w if e Br ooke

Be n t o n Ni s s an o f H o o v e r . c o m 205.979.5420

‘TOUGH AS NAILS NAILS‘‘ Hundreds of people took part in the 2019 Bluff Park Christmas Parade on Dec. 7, 2019. Posing for a photo, from left, are Rosie Daniel and Zoey Pate. Photo by Jon Anderson.

See page B1

Champs at Last

5th annual Bluff Park Christmas Parade pushed back to Dec. 12 By JON ANDERSON

Murphy is leaving to become president for Gadsden State Community College at the end of 2020, Hoover school board President Deanna Bamman said that’s definitely an understatement. Murphy has had quite a busy 5½ years. She came into the job with a full plate right out of

The fifth annual Bluff Park Christmas Parade is moving to the second weekend in December this year, and Rudolph might have to cover up that shiny nose with a mask. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, parade organizers are asking everyone participating in the parade and attending it to wear masks and asking people to “social distance” from one another. The event, which is open to the entire community (not just Bluff Park), is set for 10 a.m. Dec. 12. The parade will follow the same route as it did last year, starting and ending at the park next to the Shades Cliff Pool, said Lori Redding, one of six organizers. The parade will proceed along Cloudland Drive and Lester Lane, then turn south on Clearview (which turns into Maiden Lane), right onto Rockview Lane, right onto Cloudland Drive and end back at the park next to Shades Cliff Pool, Redding said. Last year’s parade had hundreds of people in about 40 entries, including churches, Scouting groups, businesses, the Simmons Middle School cheerleaders, majorettes, the American Legion, families, groups of friends and, of course, Santa Claus. Organizers gave out gift cards to the

See MURPHY | page A22

See PARADE | page A20

A perennial contender at the state volleyball tournament, the Bucs revel in their accomplishment of bringing home the program’s first Class 7A championship title.

See page B12

INSIDE Sponsors .......... A4 News ..................A6 Business .......... A12

Events ................B5 Sports.................B6


Hoover City Schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy at the Farr Administration Building. Murphy is leaving to become president for Gadsden State Community College. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Departing superintendent Kathy Murphy described as dedicated leader who was perfect fit for past 5 years By JON ANDERSON


athy Murphy described herself as a workaholic when she interviewed to be the superintendent for Hoover City Schools in 2015. Now, 5½ years later, as

A2 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

Medical West’s newest Health Center is now open in the Brock’s Gap Community.

BROCK’S GAP HEALTH CENTER Medical West is thrilled to expand our services to the residents of West Jefferson County. Our brand new Brock’s Gap Health Center is now open, providing care for the entire family. With many years of family medicine experience in the Birmingham area, we are proud to welcome Dr. Jody Gilstrap and Dr. Allyson Gilstrap to our team of Medical

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December 2020 • A3



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A4 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

About Us Editor’s Note By Jon Anderson I have many fond memories of Christmas as a child. Playing bit parts as a shepherd or wise man’s attendant in my church’s Christmas pageant. Going to Christmas Eve candlelight services to celebrate the birth of Christ and closing out the service by singing “Silent Night,” then heading to my grandmother’s house to exchange gifts with extended family. Riding around various parts of the Birmingham area in the back of my parents’ Buick station wagon, looking at Christmas lights. Hanging stockings on the mantle. Heading to bed, wondering what might be in those stockings when I awoke in the morning and what other gifts Santa might bring. And then, the next day, the joy of watching others in my family open the gifts I had picked and purchased especially for them and enjoying the gifts they had picked out

especially for me. There was a sense of magic to it all. This year, amid all the noise associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and fallout of this year’s elections, I hope you’ll take some time to enjoy the magic of Christmas. Celebrate the reason for the season — the love of God

expressed through the birth of Christ — and enjoy the company of family and friends in a safe and healthy way. Despite COVID-19, the city still has several celebrations planned, including the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree outside City Hall on Dec. 1 and the Bluff Park Christmas parade Dec. 12 (See the story on the cover). And churches have their own activities planned. For those of the Jewish faith, I hope you have a happy Hanukkah and joyous season as well. May we all put our differences aside and share love, joy, compassion and kindness with one another.


Two of the starters for the 2020 Patriot Shootout of Alabama golf tournament for the Folds of Honor Foundation prepare to depart the Founders Clubhouse at the Greystone Golf and Country Club in Hoover on Nov. 2. Photo by Jon Anderson.

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

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Published by: Hoover Sun LLC Legals: Hoover Sun is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Hoover Sun is designed to inform the Hoover community of area school, family and community events. Information in Hoover Sun is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of Hoover Sun. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email.

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Please Support Our Community Partners Acton Road Pediatrics (A13) Alabama Ballet (A8) Alabama Goods (B15) Alabama Power (B17) Allsteel Fence (B4) Bedzzz Express (B1, B20) Benton Nissan of Hoover (A1) Birmingham Museum of Art (B19) Birmingham Water Works Board (A16) Blake Shultz, ARC Realty (B8) Breanna Sexton, RE/MAX Southern Homes (A14) Bridget Hoven - LIST Birmingham (B5) Brocks Gap Dental Group (A24) Bromberg’s & Company Inc. (B12) Carpet Warehouse Galleria (A15) Children’s of Alabama (B14) Cremation Center of Birmingham (A13) Danberry at Inverness (B6) Dear Seniors (A11) Deb Long, Today’s Home Real Estate (A10) Dorsett Dental Care (A3) Encore Rehabilitation (B7) ENT Associates of Alabama (A14) Etc. (B19) French Drains Pro (A20) Gardner Landscaping (A6) Geico Insurance (B17) Heather Goss, RealtySouth (B14) Issis & Sons (A11) Julie Ivy White (A18) Kete Cannon, ARC Realty (A9) Leda Mims, ARC Realty (B6) Lee DeMarco, RealtySouth (A12) Luckie’s Pinestraw (A1) Medical West Hospital (A2) Medicare Advisors of Alabama (B15) Merrill Gardens River Highlands of Birmingham (A5) Momentum Motorworks (A6) Mr. Handyman of Birmingham (A10) OLLI - Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (B3) Outdoor Living Areas (A21) Over the Mountain Glass (B13) Oxmoor Valley Orthodontics (B4) Patti Schreiner, RE/MAX Southern Homes (A7) Peck Barham, RE/MAX Southern Homes (B12) Poarch Band of Creek Indians (B11) Red Mountain Associates Thrivent Financial (B5) Red Mountain Theatre Company (B11) Red Pearl Restaurant (B7) Riverchase United Methodist Church (A8) ROME Study, UAB Division of Preventative Medicine (B9) Shades Crest Baptist Church (B1) Signature Homes (B2) Southern Coin & Collectibles (A7) Southern Home Structural Repair Specialists (B8) Southlake Orthopaedics (A19) Sovereign CPA (A18) TherapySouth Hoover (A5) Total Skin and Beauty Dermatology (B2) UAB GI (B3) Urology Centers of Alabama (A9) Viva Health Care (B13) Vivian Mora State Farm Agency (B9) Vulcan Termite & Pest Control (A13) Watts Realty (A20) Werkplas (A21) Window World of Central Alabama (A17) Wrapsody (A19)


December 2020 • A5

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A6 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

City Council passes slimmed-down budget for 2021 Hoover Council President John Lyda, left, presides over the Nov. 16 Hoover City Council meeting at Hoover City Hall, with Council President Pro Tem Curt Posey at right. Photo by Jon Anderson.

By JON ANDERSON The Hoover City Council on Nov. 16 passed a $134 million budget for fiscal 2021 — a trimmed-down budget from the previous year due to the continued uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The original budget approved for 2020 a year ago included $144 million in expected expenditures, including about $124 million from the general fund, about $7 million from the capital projects fund and about $13.8 million from special revenue funds. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, city officials tightened the city’s pocketbook and actually spent only about $114 million from the general fund in fiscal 2020, which ended Sept. 30, according to preliminary numbers. General fund revenues for 2020 came in at about $130 million, according to preliminary numbers. That would be about $2.7 million less than original projections. However, general fund revenues were about $2 million more than actual revenues the previous two years, Chief Financial and Information Officer Tina Bolt said. In an effort to be conservative, city officials are projecting $129 million in revenues for the general fund in 2021, plus $8 million in revenues for special revenue funds, for total revenues of $137 million. That would put revenues at about $3.3 million over expenditures, but after accounting for $2.4 million in “special” expenditures, city officials expect to end fiscal 2021 with $915,000 more in revenues than expenditures. Sales and use taxes — the city’s biggest source of revenue — came in at about $83.7 million for 2020, according to preliminary numbers. That’s about $2 million less than projections for 2020 and about $1 million less than

actual revenues in 2019, records show. Salary and benefit costs are expected to climb by $1.9 million to $78.4 million, including a $1 million increase in health insurance costs. Mayor Frank Brocato originally had proposed to cut planned step raises for employees from 5% to 3% to save about $500,000 but backed off that proposal and recommended the 5% step raises. Brocato said he changed his recommendation after city officials learned the city could reimburse itself for some employee expenses with federal COVID relief money. Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis had lobbied the council to move forward with the 5% step raises, as originally planned in the city’s revised compensation plan adopted in October 2018, saying department heads would rather make other cuts in their budgets than have employee

step raises reduced. The city also has eliminated three department head positions: city treasurer, finance director and revenue director by consolidating duties related to finances and upgrading a senior accountant to a finance division director. The budget for salaries and benefits for what had been the finance and revenue departments was reduced by about $700,000. Meanwhile, the cost of salaries and benefits is increasing by about $785,000 for the Parks and Recreation Department and about $740,000 in the Police Department. Overall, public safety spending accounts for 44% of the 2021 budget. The list of capital projects for 2021 is much smaller than usual, with $3.5 million budgeted for capital projects, including $2.3 million for

paving and striping streets and $300,000 for equipment and supplies for the new Fire Station No. 11, which is expected to open in Trace Crossings around May. The capital projects budget also includes $255,000 for replacement equipment for the sewer system, $230,000 for drainage projects, $150,000 in additional money for a restroom/ storm shelter facility by Field 1 of the baseball/ softball fields at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex, and $100,000 for sidewalk maintenance. In addition to the “government funds” — the general fund, capital projects fund and special revenue funds — the council also approved spending $20 million from proprietary funds, such as the sewer system fund, in 2021. That’s $3 million less than the budget for proprietary funds in 2020.

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December 2020 • A7

Mayor’s Minute

By Frank V. Brocato Happy holidays to you schools and neighborhoods. and your family. No doubt, Speaking of neighborthis year has been a long hoods, it is my goal to conand challenging one. But tinue an effort I began during the Christmas season is rich my first four years in office. with hope and joy that even It is important to me that Hoover becomes a more the strongest pandemic can’t walkable city — complete damper. It is my hope that with sidewalks in all of our you feel those sentiments neighborhoods where that is this year, maybe more than ever before. possible. Just last month, we While December brings took another step forward us to the end of the year, it in that effort with the comalso marks the beginning of pletion of the project on the a new chapter in the city’s east side of town. That projFrank V. Brocato history. Last month, we ect created a sidewalk that swore in seven City Council members who runs from Berwick Drive to the Tattersall Park will serve during a four-year term. I want to development. This will allow residents to walk congratulate our returning councilors: Casey from the Greystone area to Tattersall in a safe Middlebrooks, Derrick Murphy, Mike Shaw, manner, should they choose to go shopping or John Lyda (who will serve as council presi- enjoy a nice meal at one of the restaurants in dent) and Curt Posey (who will serve as coun- the area. cil president pro tem). I want to also welcome As we look forward to a new year, please our two new council members: Sam Swiney know I am here to serve. If I or my staff can be and Steve McClinton. of help, do not hesitate to give us a call. I look forward to working with the council in a manner that is amicable and transparent. I know that, together, we will lead the city to new opportunities and successes for our businesses,

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A8 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

Council picks Lyda as president for 2020-24 term By JON ANDERSON The Hoover City Council has chosen John Lyda as its new president going into its next four-year term. Lyda is entering his third term on the council — making him the longest-serving council member among the current group — and won reelection handily with 78 percent of the vote in August. Councilman Mike Shaw, who made the motion for Lyda to become president, noted Lyda has the most experience and has a good plan for how the council is going to collaborate as a team and conduct meetings efficiently and quickly. The former council president, Gene Smith, was always concerned about making sure the council had as much information as possible before taking a vote, Shaw said. Lyda intends to take a different approach and try to get more questions answered during work sessions so action meetings move along more quickly, Shaw said. It’s not a matter of being better or worse; it’s just a different style, he said. “Given his track record, I think he’ll do a good job,” Shaw said. The council also chose Curt Posey as council president pro tem, meaning he will serve as president on occasions when Lyda is absent. All seven council members were sworn in Nov. 2, including incumbents Lyda, Posey, Shaw, Casey Middlebrooks and Derrick Murphy, and newcomers Steve McClinton and Sam Swiney. Hoover Municipal Judge Brad Bishop swore in Lyda, Posey, Shaw

Hoover Municipal Judge Brad Bishop swears in John Lyda for his third term on the Hoover City Council at Hoover City Hall on Nov. 2. Photo by Jon Anderson.

and McClinton, while Presiding Jefferson County Circuit Judge Elisabeth French swore in Murphy. Middlebrooks was sworn in by his brother, Chad Middlebrooks, and Swiney was sworn in by his brother, Vincent Swiney. Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato also was sworn in for his second term Nov. 2 by former Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo. Brocato said he and the seven council members all know they wouldn’t be in office without the support of so many family and

friends and pledged to have “absolute open communication” with the council. “We learned a lot working together over the last four years and a lot of things that we all want to do better,” Brocato said. “We’ve got a great city here. We’ve governed in really difficult times these last four years. Anyone that’s been an elected official over the last four years has dealt with some really difficult things, and we’ve been right in the middle of it.” Brocato said he thinks Hoover

has led well and been an example throughout the state in the last four years and can continue to be a good example in the next four years. “There’s a lot to be done and a lot of excitement,” Brocato said. “I know we’re going to come out of it and, when we do, we’re going to hit the ground running. I look forward very much to working with each and every one of you.” Lyda joined Brocato in welcoming McClinton and Swiney to the council. They each bring a wealth of knowledge to the council and, most

importantly, passion and love for the city of Hoover, which will complement the passion and love for the city the returning council members have, Lyda said. Lyda also committed to the mayor that the council wants open communication with him, constantly and consistently working on behalf of what’s best for residents of the city. In other business, the council: ► Appointed Wendy Dickerson to continue serving as Hoover’s city clerk. ► Appointed Tina Bolt as Hoover’s new city treasurer, replacing Ben Powell, who retired. ► Appointed Philip Corley to continue serving as Hoover’s city attorney. ► Appointed Brad Bishop to continue serving as Hoover’s municipal judge. ► Appointed Charlie Waldrep to continue serving as Hoover’s city prosecutor, as well as Daniel Wainscott as assistant prosecutor and Andrea Graham as an alternate prosecutor. ► Appointed Lee Barnes as the lead public defender for the city and Victor Kelley Jr. as another public defender, with Hoover Court Director Susan Fuqua supervising them. ► Appointed Fuqua, Robin Griffin, Marsha Headley, Tiffaney Brewer, Leandra Burks, Terica Henderson, Anna McRae, Darinda Poe and Jason Simpson as magistrates for the city. ► Selected Regions Bank, Wells Fargo and First National Bankers Bank as depositories for the city. ► Authorized the mayor to appoint Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith as the city’s auditing firm.




December 2020 • A9

Western Hoover residents voice concerns about proposed road By JON ANDERSON A proposed 4-mile road that city officials believe will help solve traffic problems in western Hoover has drawn questions and concerns from some residents in the area. Hoover’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Nov. 9 entertained public comments about the road, which is being touted as a way to relieve traffic woes in Trace Crossings and speed up commutes for people in multiple communities in western Jefferson and Shelby counties. The proposal is for a 4-mile road that would start at Morgan Road (Shelby County 52) and go through a valley between South Shades Crest Road and Stadium Trace Parkway, cross South Shades Crest Road near Brock’s Gap Parkway, connect with a proposed new Interstate 459 interchange and hook up with Ross Bridge Parkway at Alabama 150. A proposed amendment to Hoover’s comprehensive plan also suggests the creation of a new employment center along that road in the Brock’s Gap area, designed for science, technology, engineering and math-related companies. Randy Snuggs, a resident of the Southpointe community off South Shades Crest Road, questioned the need for creating a new employment center when there are vacant buildings in areas such as the Patton Creek shopping center. He asked why the city would want to disturb the beautiful woods and historic areas next to Southpointe when there are existing commercial

areas ripe for redevelopment. “In Hoover, it seems like everything is getting more concrete,” Snuggs said. “Sometimes, I think more is not better.” Hoover’s city planner, Mac Martin, said the proposed employment center would not really compete with existing retail properties. The idea is to provide a place for office and “clean” technology businesses that would not have a noxious impact on residential areas nearby, he said. Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice said one reason for including an employment center along the road is to give Shelby County another reason to help pay for the connector road. An employment center ideally would boost the county’s tax revenues. “This is a way to sweeten the pot,” Rice said. James Brown, another Southpointe resident, asked why Hoover residents’ tax money is being used to alleviate traffic from another city. Rice said the traffic coming from Helena and other points south is already there, causing traffic problems on South Shades Crest and Alabama 150. “People are going to continue to move to Helena, and they’re going to drive downtown, and they’re going to drive to employment in Hoover,” Rice said. This road project is designed not just to benefit them, but also to pull some of that traffic off South Shades Crest Road and Alabama 150, alleviating traffic congestion in Hoover, he said. Snuggs asked why Hoover doesn’t wait to see if Jefferson County’s

In Hoover, it seems like everything is getting more concrete. Sometimes, I think more is not better.


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

project to widen Morgan Road will take care of the traffic backups. Rice said that while Jefferson County is widening Morgan Road, that road widening will stop at the

county line, and Shelby County has no plans to widen Morgan Road in Shelby County. Birgit Kibelka, a resident of the Shades Mountain community, noted

that the Brock’s Gap area is home to an important historical feature. That’s where the state of Alabama in the 1850s chose to make a deep cut into Shades Mountain to open up a railway that led to the development of Jefferson County as a home for the coal and iron industries. Nitroglycerin was used to blast 75 feet deep into the limestone, and the effort was heralded as the deepest railroad cut in the world, according to the historical marker along South Shades Crest Road. Kibelka asked if the city was going to disturb the historical nature of the site by putting a road through there, plus an employment center. Martin and Rice concurred that Brock’s Gap is an extraordinary historical feature, and Rice said the city believes there is enough space to widen an existing road that goes through the property without destroying the rock formations. He would like to see the amenity protected and provide better access to it so more people can enjoy it, he said. Hoover’s planning commission held off on voting on the amendment to the comprehensive plan to give Martin time to add more wording regarding protection of the historical features. A vote is expected Dec. 14.

A10 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

4th class of Leadership Hoover under way The Leadership Hoover Class of 2020-21 poses for a photo outside of Topgolf in Birmingham, where the group had a team-building activity in September. Photo courtesy of Leadership Hoover.

By JON ANDERSON The fourth class of Leadership Hoover is well under way with 34 people from a variety of organizations and industries. The group held an opening retreat in September at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel, with team-building activities the second day at Breakout Birmingham and Topgolf, said Lori Leonard, executive director for Leadership Hoover. The goal of Leadership Hoover is to gather together a group of leaders and emerging leaders who are interested in expanding their leadership skills, deepening their sense of civic responsibility, becoming more involved in helping the community and learning about Hoover’s issues and needs. The group meets the second Tuesday of each month, focusing on a different topic each month. In October, the group learned about public safety, hearing from police Chief Nick Derzis, Fire Chief Clay Bentley and 911 Center Director Linda Moore and touring places such as the Hoover Jail, 911 Center and the Fire Department’s training center. In November, they focused on small businesses and entrepreneurs, hearing from a variety of small businesses from different parts of the city and touring The Village at Brock’s Gap. In December, class members plan to focus on economic development, learning about the effort to draw more technology companies to Hoover, tourism and events in the city and the office market.


In January, the plan is to hear from a variety of government officials at the city, county and state levels, as well as department heads for the city of Hoover. In February, they will have a “one community day,” focusing on diversity. The topic in March is education, which likely will include a visit to schools, including the Riverchase Career Connection Center, and presentations from Faulkner University and Jefferson State Community College. In April, the group will have a “quality of life day,” learning about health care in Hoover and the various amenities and facilities, such as Hoover parks, Aldridge Gardens, Hoover-Randle Home & Gardens and Hoover Public Library. The nine-month program concludes in May with graduation and presentations about projects the group will undertake this year. Projects last year included starting a program to create murals in

different spots around Hoover, creating a new scholarship for worthy students who may not be at the top of their class, establishing an international food district and fair, improving the city’s webpage devoted to city parks, and creating positive signs to help young people struggling with bullying, depression or suicidal thoughts. The members of the Leadership Hoover Class of 2020-21: ► Cristina Almanza, business development coordinator, Buffalo Rock Co. ► Jeannine Bailey, talent and employee engagement manager, Alabama Power Co./Southern Co. Operations ► Yolanda Barbour, commercial account manager, Alabama Power Co. ► LaVeeda Battle, owner, Battle Law Firm ► Clint Blackmon, lieutenant, Hoover Police Department

► Orunda Bryant, senior manager for claims litigation, Kemper Corp. ► Danielle Buchanan, human resources supervisor, Regions Bank ► April Collins, owner and attorney, Collins Law ► Patricia Davis-McCulland, deputy compliance officer, Encompass Health ► TJ Dolan, financial advisor, Edward Jones Investments ► David Eberhardt, vice president for student development, Birmingham-Southern College ► Traci Fox, owner, T. Fox Salon ► David Galbaugh, vice president of sports sales and marketing, Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau ► Jennifer Hall Harris, director of client relations, Weber Mortgage ► Yolanda Hicks, senior dealer sales consultant, Cox Automotive ► Nick Hoard, owner, Nick the Marketer ► Phil Hutcheson, interim

executive director/legal counselor/ chief financial officer, Alabama Public Television ► Terry Lamar, director of equity and educational initiatives, Hoover City Schools ► David LeCompte, financial planner, Bridgeworth Wealth Management ► Rush Letson, president, Letson & Associates ► Jennifer Maye, director of professional learning, Jefferson County Board of Education ► Jeff Maze, partner, Sovereign CPA Group ► Tanveer Patel, co-founder and president, Concertcare ► Kristin Powell, psychologist, Blankenship & Seay Consulting ► Regis Ramos, chief financial officer of investments division, BBVA Compass Investments Solutions ► Debbie Rutherford, fashion consultant/model/public relations representative for Town & Country Clothes ► Samat Shah, president/owner, Kopri Signs & Graphics ► Mary Smith, vice president for treasury operations, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama ► Jonathan Spann, project manager/electrical engineer, Edmonds Engineering ► Carrie Steinmehl, technology manager, Hoover Public Library ► Michelle Torbor, owner and licensed professional counselor, Cardinal Wellness ► Gerard Truesdale, attorney, The Morton Law Firm ► Kimberly Nash White, principal, Gwin Elementary School ► Tahara Evans Wood, director, Hoover-Randle Home & Gardens


December 2020 • A11

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A12 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

New company Werkplas offers remote work options By JON ANDERSON A new coworking space at The Galleries at 3000 Riverchase is helping meet demand for remote work locations. Bluff Park resident Paul Sutton opened a coworking site called Werkplas on the 15th floor of the office tower connected to the Riverchase Galleria early this year. He had not planned to open until the fall but started providing some private office space to a few people in February even as buildout was taking place for the rest of the space, which opened more fully at the end of April. Werkplas has about 10,000 square feet of Class A office space on the 15th floor and has expanded to about 8,000 square feet on the 17th floor of the tower as well. The facility offers a come-and-go workspace with 53 workstations in a common area, 10 personal offices, and conference rooms that accommodate anywhere from six to eight people to a large boardroom that can seat 24 people around the table and more against the wall.


The idea is to provide a flexible workspace for people who work outside of their company’s office. A growing number of people are working remotely and need a place to sit down with a laptop and do some work in an environment other than a coffee shop or restaurant. Coworking spaces can be helpful for people who travel but also for those who are out and about town doing business throughout the day or people who are looking to find a workspace other than their dining room table, Sutton said. A growing number of companies are giving employees the flexibility to work from home, avoiding long commutes. But there are times when people need an office environment on a short-term basis, gaining a quiet space to work, a place to meet clients or access to a copier or printer. Also, a growing percentage of the workforce

Paul Sutton, owner of Werkplas, a new co-working space for individuals to work remotely, stands inside the office on the 15th floor of The Galleries at 3000 Riverchase. Photos by Erin Nelson.

is made up of independent contractors who are not full-time employees of a company, but rather work by contract, Sutton said. Some studies predict that independent contractors could make up more than 50% of the workforce in 10 years, he said. People can pay for a common area workspace for an hour, half-day or full day or pay a membership fee of $200 per month for access anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


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Werkplas also offers come-and-go “flex” private offices for $300-$350 a month and private individual offices that can be locked with a key for $500 per month, Sutton said. Customers with their own permanent offices can come any hour of the day, he said. Space agreements are on a month-to-month basis, with no long-term commitments, he said. There is a canteen and a concierge available to assist with check-in, finding a spot, the copy machine and technology issues. Due to

COVID-19, the concierge also checks people’s temperatures and cleans workstations and chairs after each use, Sutton said. Masks are optional because it is considered a private office environment, he said. Four of the 10 private offices are booked on a full-time basis. Use of the common area has been sporadic, but many people don’t know about Werkplas yet, Sutton said. There were 10-12 members at the end of October, and as of that time, the busiest day

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December 2020 • A13


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Left: Steve McClinton works on his computer in one of the individual offices at Werkplas. Above: The facility offers a comeand-go workspace with 53 workstations in a common area, 10 personal offices, and conference rooms that accommodate anywhere from six to eight people to a large boardroom that can seat 24 people around the table and more against the wall.

had 15-20 people, but there are times when no one is in the common area, he said.


Bill Hardekopf, a Riverchase resident who runs a credit card comparison website called lowcards.com, is one of the people who uses a private office every day. He previously had an office on Valleydale Road with three rooms, but his business partners moved and he no longer needed that much space. Werkplas is ideal for him, he said. “I’m not one of those people that functions well having an office at home,” he said. “I think it’s great to have a separation of work and home life.” He likes that he can pay for just his single office and still have the amenities of the common areas, plus the convenience of being in the middle of Hoover and having access to the food court at the Riverchase Galleria and food trucks outside the office tower. Also, “it’s tough to beat the view” from the 15th floor of the tower, he said. “I’ve been very, very pleased with being able to work here.” For a long time, coworking space was primarily in downtown, heavy-traffic urban areas and often used more by single people and young married professionals, but as those people have had kids, they have moved to the suburbs for better schools and still need convenient coworking space, Sutton said. That’s one of the reasons he chose to put Werkplas in Hoover, he said.


Competitors include Forge and Worx BHM in Birmingham, The Hub in Homewood, and Regus, which has coworking sites in the Shipt Tower and Southbridge and Perimeter Park office complexes in Birmingham and Meadow Brook Corporate Park and Chase Corporate Center in Hoover. The Regis coworking site in Meadow Brook Corporate Park has 81 private offices, 13 coworking desks and three meeting rooms, while the one in the Chase Corporate Center has 82 private offices, 10 coworking desks and two meeting rooms. Sutton said Werkplas has capacity to add

more private offices if needed. One of Sutton’s other companies, Southern Business Furniture Services, is on the sixth floor of The Galleries at 3000 Riverchase. In the 1980s and 1990s, Sutton worked for the Tandy Corp. in the personal computer business and served as district manager for Alabama and Georgia. He then worked for Starbucks for about 10 years, opening multiple stores, and was sales manager for an office furniture company until 2008. In 2009, he started Southern Business Furniture Services, which installs office furniture. Over time, he has acquired a lot of high-quality furniture, some of which he put to use in Werkplas, he said. “I like to take things that are underused and turn them into something,” he said. Werkplas is doing the same with unused office space in The Galleries at 3000 Riverchase, he said. He thinks demand is only going to continue to grow for coworking space. When so many companies sent employees home to work remotely due to COVID-19, many of them were surprised how productive their people were while working remotely and have decided they don’t need nearly as much office space as they once did, he said. But their employees may need space in coworking facilities they can share with others on a come-and-go basis, he said. Thus, he is specifically reaching out to companies

looking to meet their office needs in a different way and willing to offer them special pricing packages, he said. For more information about Werkplas, go to werkplas.com.





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A14 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

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Eugene’s Hot Chicken has opened a second brick-and-mortar location at 3232 Galleria Circle in the spot formerly occupied by 1 Hwy y1 Hwbegan as 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries. The restaurant a food truck in 2015 and later opened a brick-andmortar location in Birmingham’s Uptown area. 205-593-4695 or 205-593-4836, eugeneshot chicken.com


Wingstop on Oct. 9 opened a new restaurant at 1539 Montgomery Highway, Suite 121, in the new Hoover Crossings shopping center. 205-979-6600, wingstop.com



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HooverSun.com Sleep Outfitters has opened a store at 3260 Galleria Circle, Suite 100, next to the FedEx Office Print & Ship Center. 205-402-0197, sleepoutfitters.com


Heritage Preschools on Oct. 5 opened a new location at 2700 Ross Bridge Parkway. The 28,000-square-foot school has 18 classrooms for infants, preschoolers and kindergartners ages 6 weeks to 6 years, a splash pad and five covered play areas in an indoor playground. 205-547-2313, heritagepreschool.com/ ross-bridge


Sgt. Peppers by Dear Prudence, a boutique for girls ages 7 to 17, opened in the Patton Creek shopping center at 4441 Creekside Ave., Suite 117, and features clothing the store defines as "classy and slightly sassy, sweet and a lil’ salty." The store is next to Dear Prudence and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. 205-407-7523, sgtpeppersbydp.com


Unagi Bento & Sushi on Nov. 1 opened at 2539 John Hawkins Parkway, Suite 141, in the Trace Crossings shopping center. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:309:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 205-490-6991, facebook.com/unagibento andsushi


Crab Du Jour, a Cajun seafood restaurant chain, planned to have a new location open at the Riverchase Galleria in the former Ruby Tuesday’s spot at 2000 Galleria Circle, Suite 200, by Thanksgiving, Galleria General Manager Mike White said. 205-761-1800, crabdujour.com


Dessert Corner was expected to open in the former location of the Haagen Dazs ice cream shop in the Riverchase Galleria food court by Thanksgiving, Galleria General Manager Mike White said. It will sell items such as ice cream, crepes and waffles, he said.


Hometown Fare, 3623 Market St., Suite 101, opened in August in a 1,500-square-foot spot in the Ross Bridge Village Center, next to Ross Bridge Medical Center. The restaurant and to-go meal service was started by Shelby Adams, the former owner of Icing on the Cookie in Homewood and a former employee at the Hot & Hot Fish Club, Bottega and Highland’s Bar & Grill. Its hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. 205-957-6460, hometownfarerb.com


Matthew Allen has started a woodworking business called Deo Gloria Wood Works. He produces a variety of custom items, including desks, bookcases, bath trays/ caddies, coasters, cutting boards, patio and lawn furniture, planters and more. 205-617-9609, facebook.com/DeoGloria WoodWorks


Coming Soon Dunkin’ will be opening its fourth Birmingham-area location at 2415 Acton Road at the former Krystal site. This location will feature in-store innovations, including a cold beverage tap system and Dunkin’ on Demand digital kiosk where customers can order on their own. A mobile pickup area will be available for app orders, and a digital order status board will enable order tracking. The opening date is TBD. dunkindonuts.com


Christian Brothers Automotive recently announced its new Greystone location at 6612 Tattersall Lane in Tattersall Park will open Dec. 7. The new location will be Christian Brothers Automotive’s fifth shop in Alabama and the third in the Birmingham area. The Houston-based company delivers a variety of professional auto-care services including upkeep, maintenance and repair. 205-727-9519, cbac.com


Relocations and Renovations The Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, 1645 Montgomery Highway, has expanded into the adjacent space formerly occupied by Sounds Great Stereo. 205-822-8795, sherwin-williams.com


December 2020 • A15 Hammer & Stain has moved its former Hoover location to 611 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 111, at the Village at Lee Branch shopping center and opened in early November. Hammer & Stain is a DIY workshop allowing makers to create fully customizable and personalized wood pieces in a fun class atmosphere. 260-242-0376, hammerandstainbham.com




News and Accomplishments Avadian Credit Union recently surpassed $1 billion in assets and was named one of the Best Companies to Work For in Alabama by Business Alabama and the Best Companies Group. The award was published in the September 2020 issue of Business Alabama. Companies were evaluated based on workplace practices, policies, philosophy, systems, demographics and employee surveys. The credit union’s corporate headquarters is at 1 Riverchase Parkway S. in Hoover. It has 11 branches in the Birmingham area, including one at 420 Old Highway 280 in the Greystone area and 4720 Chace Circle in Riverchase, plus six more branches across the rest of the state. 205-985-2828, avadiancu.com

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The Warren Averett Technology Group, 2500 Acton Road, Suite 2500, was recently named one of the top 250 MSSPs (managed security service providers) in the world by MSSP Alert in the 2020 edition of the publication by After Nines Inc. 205-979-4100, watechgroup.com



CakEffect, 1021 Brock’s Gap Parkway, Suite 109, recently received a $25,000 grant from Discover as part of an effort to help Black-owned businesses rebound from the COVID-19 outbreak. 205-803-5669, cakeffect.com


Pearson and Associates, 23 Inverness 18 Center Parkway, recently rebranded itself as OneAscent Wealth Management. The company provides financial, retirement, tax and estate planning; investment management; legacy coaching and benefits; and institutional consulting. 205-313-9142, oneascent.com Bryant Bank, with locations at 2721 John Hawkins Parkway and 5319 U.S. 280, has been recognized by Newsweek as the best small bank in Alabama. It was Newsweek’s first ranking of the financial institutions that best serve their customers’ needs in today’s challenging times. For more details on this recognition or the methodology, please visit newsweek.com/americas-best-banks-2021/bestsmall-banks-state. 205-733-7560 and 205-408-6401, bryantbank.com


Chick-fil-A, 5658 Grove Blvd. at The Grove shopping center, started offering delivery service with its own drivers Nov. 5. The service is available for $2.99 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to areas that include Lake Cyrus, Ross Bridge, Lake Wilborn, Trace Crossings, The Preserve, Hoover High School, Ridge Crossings, South Shades Crest Road and Deer Valley, Marketing Director Tori Green said. 205-989-1701, chick-fil-a.com/locations/al/ the-grove



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Chick-fil-A, 1609 Montgomery Highway at the Hoover Commons shopping center, is now offering delivery with its own drivers to customers within 10 miles or 10-15 minutes away, Directing Manager Jonah Walton said. The delivery fee is $5. 205-979-9990, cfarestaurant.com/hoover commons/home


Golden Rule Barbecue, 1571 Montgomery Highway, after 46 years has changed its name to Archie’s Bar-B-Q & Burgers. Owner Nick Manakides said the name change was part of cost-cutting measures due to COVID-19 health restrictions put in place by the Jefferson County Department of Health. He needed to eliminate royalty fees to the franchisor, he said. The restaurant will continue to have the same ownership, staff and management, he said. 205-823-7770, archiesbarbq.com


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A16 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

Greystone Chiropractic moving to Tattersall Park By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Greystone Chiropractic recently began construction on a new, modern building to house its holistic health facility in Greystone. After being in Birmingham for the past eight years and operating for the past six years in a space in Greystone Terrace, owner and chiropractor Dr. Lee Goldenberg has planned a new facility to better serve his patients and the community. “After spending six years in our current facility, we’ve built up enough to build our own place and do it right,” Goldenberg said. “We were constantly rearranging the office and wanted to be able to start over by doing it the right way from the beginning.” Goldenberg said he has been eyeing Tattersall Park since it began and knew he wanted to relocate there. He said he believes it will be a great place for the practice to grow and expand. The new location will be next to Walk On’s Bistreaux and is expected to be completed in February 2021. As of press time, the outside was nearly complete, and work was beginning on the interior. “Our office has always had the mission to help our practice members experience the unlimited healing potential within them, naturally, in a stress-free and nurturing environment,” Goldenberg said. “It has been an honor to be able to serve the community in the manner we have, and now increase those efforts in our Starnes_vert_11122020.pdf


Above: Dr. Lee Goldenberg, second from right, with his staff and Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato, right, at the groundbreaking of the new location of Greystone Chiropractic on Oct. 2. Below: A rendering of what the completed Greystone Chiropractic will look like upon completion. The office is set to open in February 2021. Photos courtesy of Dr. Lee Goldenberg.

new space.” Goldenberg is the sole chiropractor and has three assistants who help him run the office. He said in the future, he would like to expand the practice to include counseling on nutrition, strength and ergonomics. There will be room to grow, as the space has an attached 3,000-squarefoot rental unit. However, he hasn’t decided whether to keep it for expansion or lease it out. While he does see patients from around the greater Birmingham area, Goldenberg


said about 85% of his clients are within a 15-minute drive of Greystone, including Chelsea, Inverness, Cahaba Heights and Mountain Brook. The effects of COVID-19 have not slowed down the building and design process for the new location. Goldenberg said all the prep meetings were done via Zoom and that he is working with great architects and designers. Although construction was already underway, a groundbreaking ceremony was Oct. 2.

For updates and information visit greystone chiropractor.com.

4:57 PM









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


December 2020 • A17

Hoover, Chelsea duo launch waste disposal company By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE Most people would probably not decide to start a company during a national pandemic, but Jon Riddle and Micheal McCants decided to do just that. The two met over five years ago while working at a trucking company together. Riddle, a Hoover resident, moved on to work in real estate and renovate houses, but when he got the idea for a roll off dumpster business, he knew who to call. “I reached out to Micheal because he had had a lot of experience on running the truck-side of things,” Riddle said. “We got together and came up with the idea for Magic City Dumpsters.” McCants, who lives in Chelsea, said it was three weeks later when he turned in his two-week notice at his previous job and the two started the company. “It was a big leap, especially this year,” he said. Riddle said he felt there was a need for this business, especially on the renovation side. He said through his real estate business, he has been able to gain some of its biggest clients, and that has helped them get their business up and running. “Amidst COVID-19 and everything going on, there is still opportunity out there to be had if you have people willing to work hard and get after it,” Riddle said. Magic City Dumpsters specializes in residential and commercial waste and construction debris removal options for small or large projects. It provides construction and demolition and household waste solutions for residential and commercial use with the 20-, 30- and 40-yard roll off dumpsters that they deliver. The dumpsters can be used for a variety of things, including landscaping projects, hauling off dirt or tree limbs, weekend

home projects, house flips and more. While there are other companies out there they have to compete against, Riddle and McCants said their focus is on customer service to make them stand out from the rest. Their goal is to build relationships and trust with their clients. When someone calls, there is no phone tree to go through. They are directly connected to McCants. “Service is a huge thing, and a lot of companies have gotten away from it,” McCants said. “Some of the bigger companies are more worried about big contract jobs and not so much about residential. That’s one thing we are really focusing on — our customer service is our biggest selling point. Without it we are no different than anybody else in this business.” Timeliness is another important part of their business. While contractors might only give a day’s notice that they need a dumpster, Riddle said if they can provide service within 24 hours of a phone call, they can build a business fairly quickly. “A lot of times, building clean-up needs to be done immediately, and that’s what we are trying to build business off of, and we’ve been able to pick up some business over some bigger companies,” he said. With their one truck, 50 dumpsters and two drivers, they work within a 50-mile radius of Birmingham and do their best to get dumpsters delivered within a day. They also have a flat fee, competitive pricing and work seven days a week. “Over a six-week period, we moved 82 dumpsters, so we’ve been pretty busy,” McCants said. For more information, visit magic citydumpstersllc.com, facebook .com/magiccitydumpsters or call 205-500-1031.

Magic City Dumpsters co-owners Jon Riddle and Micheal McCants started their business during the COVID-19 pandemic to specialize in residential and commercial waste and construction debris removal. Photo courtesy of Micheal McCants.

A18 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

COMING HOME Ross Bridge resident opens Hometown Fare eatery, take-home meal service

By JON ANDERSON Shelby Adams originally thought he wanted to be a doctor when he graduated Mountain Brook High School in 1995 and went to Baylor University. But during his second year at Baylor, he took a two-week training course on how to cook so he could cook for himself and discovered he really enjoyed it. Thus began a career shift that brought him back to Birmingham and more recently to Hoover to launch his own restaurant. Adams opened Hometown Fare in August in a 1,500-square-foot spot in the Ross Bridge Village Center, next to Ross Bridge Medical Center. The fast-casual restaurant features seasonal American cuisine and, thanks to COVID-19, doubles as a gourmet meals-to-go service. Starting a new restaurant in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t easy, so Adams has learned to improvise and go with the flow. His restaurant currently seats 25 people inside (with room to add more once COVID-19 settles down), plus 16 on the outdoor patio. But he didn’t even use the tables and chairs the first few weeks he was open, he said. Instead, he focused on the mealsmade-to-go business. The biggest seller among take-home options thus far has been chicken pot pie, but he also does dishes such as lasagna,

Hometown Fare • WHERE: 3623 Market St., Suite 101 in Ross Bridge • HOURS: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday • CALL: 205-957-6460 • WEB: hometownfarerb.com

enchiladas, soups, coq au vin (a French red wine-braised chicken dish), and porchetta (roasted pork with apple barbecue sauce, served with gouda grits and collard greens). Hometown Fare is open Tuesday through Saturday, serving graband-go breakfast items from 7 to 10 a.m. and soups, salads and sandwiches until 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 6 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Adams said he changes at least three items on his menu each week, depending on what fresh fruits and vegetables are in season and available. His breakfast items run about $3.50 to $5, while lunch is typically $10 to $12 and take-home dinners for a family of four run $25 to $40, depending on the dish, he said. Adams also offers private cooking demonstration parties, where people can sit at the chef’s counter (which

Shelby Adams prepares chicken as he and his crew at Hometown Fare in Ross Bridge prepare coq au vin for take-home family dinners. The fast-casual restaurant features seasonal American cuisine and, thanks to COVID-19, doubles as a gourmet meals-to-go service. Photo by Erin Nelson.

seats eight people), watch him cook and listen to him explain what he’s doing. Those start at about $75 per person, depending on the menu selection. Adams is involved in the cooking but had about eight employees in mid-October, with at least three or four people helping him in the restaurant each shift. Still, he has been working 12-17 hours per day, he said. The COVID-19 pandemic has actually given him a chance to start slowly and get his legs under him before it gets too busy, he said. “We’re still learning every day, trying to get a consistent product.” Adams got his interest in the

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culinary scene honestly. His mother served many years as the executive foods editor at Southern Living magazine. Once Adams determined he wanted to try cooking as a profession, his parents had him come back to Birmingham and get a job in a restaurant before going to culinary school. Chef Chris Hastings hired him to work at Hot & Hot Fish Club. He worked in the kitchen about two years, then went to Scottsdale Culinary School in Scottsdale, Arizona. He graduated there in 2001 and went to work at Commander’s Palace in

New Orleans before coming back to Birmingham and working in restaurants such as Bottega and Highlands Bar & Grill. In 2009, Adams decided to go into business for himself and opened a bakery called Icing on the Cookie in Homewood. He ran that for 10 years but sold the business in October 2019 so he could open Hometown Fare in Ross Bridge. He chose Ross Bridge because that’s where he, his wife and their 9-year-old and 5-year-old twins live. “We just really love this community and thought they needed another option,” he said.


December 2020 • A19

Left: Hadi Sultan stands outside Alabama Halal Foods International, a grocery store he is opening at 3150 Lorna Road that will specialize in Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern food and drinks. He hopes to open by the end of 2020. Above: Sultan shows off a story written about his former Taste of Pakistan restaurant he ran in Texas. Photos by Jon Anderson.

International grocery store coming to Lorna Road By JON ANDERSON When the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit hard in March, Hoover resident Hadi Sultan and one of his sons began having trouble getting halal meat for the Pakistani and Indian restaurant they own in The Plaza at Riverchase. Halal meat is meat that is prepared in accordance with Islamic law. The shortage opened Sultan’s eyes to a business opportunity, prompting him to open a grocery store in Hoover that specializes in Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern food and drinks. The store, called Alabama Halal Foods International, is at 3150 Lorna Road, Suite 108, in a 3,800-squarefoot spot formerly occupied by

People’s Choice Discount Catering, next to the Hoover Police Operations Center. Sultan hopes to have the grocery open by the end of the year. The new store will be a supply source for their restaurant, Kabob-Licious Indo-Pak Grill, but also will help serve a growing demand for Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern food in the Birmingham-Hoover area, he said. It sometimes can be particularly difficult to find halal meat, Sultan said. There are a couple of international markets in Homewood that carry it, as well as Jubilee Groceries in the Village on Lorna, but Alabama Halal Foods will have more Mediterranean options than Jubilee Groceries, he said.

For those who are unfamiliar, Islamic law requires that for meat to be acceptable for eating (halal), it must come from animals that were alive at the time they were slaughtered, and all blood must have been drained from the carcass. Also, the animal must be slaughtered with a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe, and the meat must be dedicated in the name of Allah before the slaughter takes place. The meat must not come from pigs, boars, dogs, snakes, monkeys, carnivorous animals with claws and fangs (such as lions, tigers and bears), birds of prey with claws, rats, woodpeckers, mules, domestic donkeys, poisonous and hazardous aquatic animals, and animals that live on both land and water (such as frogs and crocodiles).

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Sultan said his grocery will specialize in goat, lamb, beef and chicken that comes fresh from Atlanta twice a week and fresh fish from the Gulf of Mexico three times a week. Many of the other grocery items will be sourced from the United States, but Alabama Halal Foods International also will carry Basmati rice (a long-grain rice from India and Pakistan) and spices and soft drinks from India, Pakistan and the Middle East, Sultan said. There is a growing group of people from those countries in the Birmingham area, especially in Hoover, Sultan said. But he said his primary target market is Americans. Seventy percent of the customers at Kabob-Licious

are American, he said. Sultan originally is from Pakistan, where he was in the leather clothing business. He and his family moved to the United States in 1998 due to riots and violence associated with political and ethnic disputes, he said. He and his wife, Zubeda, opened a restaurant called Taste of Pakistan in Euless, Texas, in 1999. They sold the restaurant in 2004 to focus on dollar stores and cell phone stores they owned. In 2006, they moved to Hoover and went into the convenience store business. They currently own Citgo gas stations in Hayden and Bremen. They have three sons, two of whom are married, and four grandchildren. Sultan said he loves living in Hoover and believes there is a lot of opportunity here.



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Above: Children ride in the bed of a truck in the 2019 Bluff Park Christmas Parade. This year’s event, which is open to the entire Hoover community, is set for 10 a.m. Dec. 12. Left: Santa Claus prepares for the start of the parade. Below: The parade makes its way along Cloudland Drive behind Bluff Park Elementary School.


CONTINUED from page A1 Bluff Park Ice Cream Shop for the top parade entries, which included the Ness real estate team (gingerbread house theme), Homewood Church of Christ (tropical Christmas theme), Girl Scout Troop 30647 (dressed as gift boxes) and Girl Scout Troop 746 (dressed as peppermints). Anyone interested in being part of the parade can fill out a registration form on the Bluff Park Christmas Parade Facebook page. The entry fee is $30 and helps cover expenses such as liability insurance and assistance from Hoover police officers, Redding said. The parade costs between $1,000 and $1,500

to organize, Redding said. Organizers also sell T-shirts to help pay for it. In past years, they have asked businesses to be sponsors, but because so many businesses are struggling this year, no sponsors were sought, Redding said. Organizers will use some money left over from last year to help cover this year, she said. “We’re excited,” Redding said. “We started working on it once we all got kids back going to some kind of school.” Organizers are asking people driving to Bluff Park to watch the parade to park at Shades Crest Baptist Church and Bluff Park Elementary School. The parade will go behind the school on Cloudland Drive but not by Shades Crest Baptist on Park Avenue. The church parking lot, however, is one of the closest parking lots.

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CONTINUED from page A1 the chute. The school district was in the middle of a debate over charging students a fee to ride school buses after a hotly contested effort to eliminate bus service altogether. The community also was in a state of uncertainty over a proposal to redraw school attendance zones that was being reviewed by the federal court. At the same time, school officials were being criticized for budget deficits and were defending a federal gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a former principal.


One of Murphy’s first acts was to ask the school board to rescind the school bus fee plan, which would have charged students $40.75 a month to ride the bus. Looking back, Murphy said that was an easy decision for her to recommend. “If this is a free public education, how do we charge people to get on a bus to get here?” she said. “There are children who cannot get to school without support systems to do that. … We took that one off the table pretty soon. Of course, we continue to be haunted by the experience of the school bus debacle.” Murphy then scrapped a rezoning plan put together by former Superintendent Andy Craig and went back to the community to develop a new plan. She held 13 community meetings to listen to residents’ concerns and explain the need for rezoning. Murphy said the rezoning process was difficult because she always tries to put herself in the shoes of people impacted by her decisions, and many parents clearly had bought homes in certain places with the expectation their children would go to certain schools. “I took it personally,” Murphy said. “Rezoning was painful to me because I knew I was making decisions that clearly were impacting our community.” Nevertheless, she also had a responsibility to redraw school zone lines to address school capacity issues and expectations of the federal court overseeing a decades-old desegregation case, she said. Her selling point was that all Hoover schools are terrific, she said. “There isn’t a single school in Hoover I wouldn’t put my child in,” she said. Many parents later told her that while they were upset at the time of rezoning, their children ended up having a good experience at their new school, she said. Bamman said Murphy’s commitment to listen to the community and clearly communicate the school system’s needs was a big improvement over the several years prior. Above all, Murphy has demonstrated “a desire to always get it right for kids,” Bamman said.

Murphy, center, cuts a ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the Hoover school system’s Riverchase Career Connection Center on Aug. 1, 2019. She is joined by officials from the city of Hoover, Hoover Board of Education, Alabama Department of Education, and state and federal legislators. Photo by Jon Anderson.

I never want to think that somebody has to order me to do the right thing for children. That’s my heart’s desire, and I believe I’ve lived my career and my life in such a way to demonstrate that.

Above: Murphy congratulates Hoover High School senior Sophie Griffies for winning the 2020 Finley Award for outstanding character among the 683 seniors at her at school in February. Photo by Jon Anderson. Below: Murphy helps serve lunch at Riverchase Elementary School to help celebrate National School Lunch Week in October 2017. Photo courtesy of Hoover City Schools.


Murphy and her staff also tackled the operating budget deficits, cutting costs by eliminating jobs, reducing contract pay periods, cutting discretionary spending, holding off on some capital projects and working creatively to trim costs in other ways. The school system started fiscal 2016 expecting a $10.4 million budget deficit but ended 2016 about $500,000 in the black. The district had a $27 million surplus in fiscal 2017, mostly due to one-time revenue increases but also attributed to cuts in expenses and a boost in revenues coming from newly elected officials with the city of Hoover. The Hoover school board for fiscal 2018 passed its first original budget without deficit spending in 13 years. “It’s been a long time coming and much needed,” Murphy said at the time. “It was kind of like a hemorrhage that needed to stop.” The 2021 budget recommended by Murphy and approved by the school board in September included a $16.8 million deficit, but the school district is facing $18.3 million in capital projects. The general fund was balanced. Murphy said she and her staff were committed to cut costs but repeatedly has noted that cutting costs eventually can impact the district’s ability to meet community expectations for class sizes and certain amenities that set Hoover apart.


The city’s residential growth also affects


the school system, she said. The rezoning plan approved by a federal judge in December 2017 gave the school district capacity to absorb growth in western Hoover, but that plan will need adjusting as the city continues to grow, Murphy said. “I have no particular concerns about growth at all,” she said. “I have literally said to our mayor and to some of our city councilmen, ‘Build it as big as you want, but don’t forget you have to educate the children who come in those houses.’” The new Riverchase Career Connection Center, which opened in fall 2019, also provided relief to Hoover and Spain Park high schools, but eventually a third high school

and other schools will be needed, Murphy said. Those come not only with land and construction costs, but more personnel costs as well, she said. Paying for all that likely will mean a need for more resources, Murphy said. City and school officials soon will need to have conversations about what form that takes, whether an increased contribution from the city’s general fund, dedicated money from front-door fees from builders, an increase in property taxes, dedicated money from internet sales taxes or some combination of those revenue streams, Murphy said. The school system has about $114 million in its fund balance right now, but that’s

expected to fall to $97 million by the end of September 2021. And with monthly obligations of $12 million to $13 million, that reserve fund could be eaten up quickly in an economic downturn or proration situation, Murphy said.


As important as all those issues are, Murphy said without a doubt the biggest challenges she has faced in her career have come in the last several months, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to close schools for in-person instruction in March was made at the state level, but local school officials still had to figure out how to serve children through the end of the school year, Murphy said. Then, they faced the decision of how to honor and celebrate the graduating classes of 2020 in the spring and how to reopen school in the fall. Murphy said she definitely felt the weight of knowing that the health and safety of children were in her hands, as well as understanding that the mission of Hoover City Schools is to provide a free and appropriate public education every day the district can. It was difficult to track all the data related to COVID-19 and have critical conversations with health officials, state education officials, fellow over-the-mountain superintendents, the school board, teachers and the public at large, she said. Education officials had no template for how to handle a health crisis like that, she said. It sometimes felt like they were making decisions “by the seat of the pants,” but they haven’t been flipping a coin at the central office to decide what to do, Murphy said. “There was never a time we’ve made a decision in Hoover with anything less than the very best data we could have,” she said. Murphy said she believes the gradual changes to in-person instruction were the right series of moves. “All of those have been tough calls,” she said. “None of them have been made without


December 2020 • A23 Left: Murphy conducts the coin toss during a football game between Bessemer City and Spain Park on Aug. 30, 2019, at Jaguar Stadium in Hoover. Photo by Neal Wagner. Below: Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato speaks with Murphy after delivering his 2020 State of the City speech at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Wynfrey Hotel on Jan. 16. Photo by Jon Anderson.

a lot of desperation and thought and interactions and prayer for the safety and well-being of our children while we educate them.” It has been a tremendous investment of time and energy, Murphy said. “This has clearly been the greatest challenge of my career.” Moving forward, the biggest challenge for every school district in the nation right now is figuring out how far behind students are because of COVID-19 and helping them catch up, Murphy said. Hoover teachers did the best job they could with virtual instruction, but “we are fooling ourselves if we believe any virtual or remote opportunity had the capacity to replace a caring, competent teacher,” she said. “It just doesn’t happen.” Hoover students who had Chromebooks were blessed to have them, but “the Chromebook didn’t take the place of that caring, competent teacher,” Murphy said. “There was some loss of learning that happened.”


When asked if she would change anything she had done in the past 5½ years, Murphy said there are two things in particular she wishes she had done better. First, she and her staff poured an incredible amount of time and resources into trying to help the school district get released from a decades-old Jefferson County desegregation federal court case. To do that, the Hoover school district needs to show evidence that it has fulfilled the goals of providing an equitable education to all students, particularly Black students. Murphy, noting that she spent most of her career in school districts that were predominantly Black, said she has been an advocate for all children for all of her career and is driven by that idea more than any court order. “I never want to think that somebody has to order me to do the right thing for children,” she said. “That’s my heart’s desire, and I believe I’ve lived my career and my life in such a way to demonstrate that.” However, she still had hoped to complete the task of getting Hoover where it needs to be to be released from the court case during her tenure in Hoover, she said. She feels she and other school officials have made that a priority but is sad they are not further along in the process, she said. The Hoover school district has done a lot to train its faculty about unity and diversity and still is working to diversify its personnel and ensure equal opportunities for all students regarding gifted and advanced programs and courses, she said. There are a lot of entities involved, from the U.S. Department of Justice to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the federal court, school officials and the Hoover community at large, and “it is a very slow process.” Murphy said she also regrets she didn’t design her schedule better so she could be in the schools, interacting with students and teachers more frequently and being a better mentor to other school leaders. She wishes she had worked more closely with other leaders and gotten to know them and their aspirations better so she could support them better. However, there have been a plethora of issues (mentioned above) demanding her attention at the central office, she said.


Murphy did indeed do much to shape the district’s leadership team. At her recommendation, the school board hired 10 of the 18 current principals, including the leaders of the Riverchase Career Connection Center and Crossroads School program. During her tenure, the board also hired a new assistant superintendent, two chief financial officers, a new director of equity and educational initiatives, director of instructional support, payroll director, assistant payroll director, transportation coordinator and operations coordinator. Murphy said she is proud of the progress made regarding facilities during her tenure. The district sold the former Berry High School property and used those proceeds to buy Riverchase Middle School from the Pelham Board of Education and convert it into a career tech center. School officials are tearing down parts of the old Bluff Park School while maintaining and restoring the most historic part of the campus, and have updated the tracks and football fields at the two high schools.

During her tenure, the district created a new strategic plan, adjusted salaries and pay supplements, passed on creating a charter school, hired a mental health student services specialist and therapeutic counselor, shifted the New Beginnings program back into individual schools, provided Chromebooks for all K-12 students, started six prekindergarten classes and started a new partnership with consultants to address equity issues regarding discipline and positive intervention tactics.


Bamman said Murphy was the perfect fit for Hoover City Schools for the past five years. “We needed someone tough as nails, and we got tough as nails,” she said. “She doesn’t’ run from adversity or challenges. She will face them head on. … The board has a respect for Dr. Murphy and her decision making, her wisdom in running a school district and her open door always.” Even though there were differences of opinion at times, Murphy was always able to do the needed research, sit down with the board, discuss things and find common ground, Bamman said. Having a good relationship between the board and superintendent is important because if it’s not there,

it can cause trouble all the way through the district, she said. “We’re losing a great leader. Gadsden State is gaining,” Bamman said. “We hate to see her go. … We’ve got big shoes to fill, but we are up to the task, and we will push on fast forward … and find us a strong leader.” Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato called Murphy’s departure a tremendous loss for Hoover City Schools and the city of Hoover. She has helped build a lot of solidarity between city officials and the school system, he said. “We had a tremendous working relationship for the past four years, and we wish her all the best,” Brocato said. “We hope to have the same type relationship with the new superintendent.”


Murphy said she wasn’t running away from anything in Hoover by taking the job at Gadsden State. It was more a matter of an opportunity presenting itself and her skill sets aligning with what the college needs. She considers it a privilege to become a college president and to be able to make critical decisions to help people as they seek to improve their lives through education beyond high school, she said. Murphy, who was the school superintendent

in Monroe County before coming to Hoover, said she hadn’t really sought Hoover out in the beginning. Initially, she was contacted by the Alabama Association of School Boards and asked to consider jobs in Hoover or Dothan. She applied for both and couldn’t have been more blessed to be received by Hoover, she said. She is grateful for all the different groups that have partnered with Hoover City Schools to make a difference in the lives of children, she said. That includes the city’s elected officials and groups such as the Hoover City Schools Foundation, Finley Committee, Hoover Parent Teacher Council, Hoover Helps, Neighborhood Bridges and the Hoover Rise mentoring program, she said. When asked how she would describe Hoover to someone from outside the state, Murphy said the Hoover community is passionate and involved in education. “They certainly share their thoughts, and that’s not a negative thing,” she said. “This school district communicates between and among itself. It is a very interactive community.” Most importantly, the parents have high expectations for their children and, thus, high expectations for the school district, and students, for the most part, are passionate about the experiences they get, she said. “They have become accustomed to an exceptional educational experience,” Murphy said. “Our community holds our feet to the fire to deliver that, and they should.” The Hoover community puts its money behind education and, sometimes, may not realize how blessed it is, Murphy said. “I think maybe sometimes in Hoover a field trip outside of Hoover might be very telling for us — to realize that education across the state does not mirror the terrific experience our children get to have,” she said. Murphy said her experience in Hoover has truly been a blessing. “It’s been everything I hoped it to be and prayed for it to be. It is certainly the most positive experience in my professional life,” she said. “It’s been the highlight of my career without any doubt in my mind. It has presented me the greatest joy. It’s also presented me some of my greatest challenges.”


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Patton Chapel intersection redo follows bridge replacement

By JON ANDERSON As the replacement of the Patton Creek bridge on Patton Chapel Road comes to a close, Jefferson County officials are moving on to the realignment of a four-way intersection in front of Gwin Elementary School. The county is combining the intersection of Patton Chapel Road and Chapel Lane and the intersection of Patton Chapel Road and Preserve Parkway into one four-way intersection. That work, which has been planned for 20 years, should intensify with the completion of the Patton Creek bridge replacement and take another two months or so to complete, depending on the weather, Deputy Jefferson County Manager Cal Markert said. Then, the county should take about four months to widen a section of Patton Chapel Road between Crayrich Drive and Tamassee Lane and wrap up the project with the section of road between Tamassee Lane and the Patton Creek bridge. The county also is extending the sidewalk on Patton Chapel from Crayrich Drive all the way to the sidewalk that ends near Patton Chapel Condominiums. That will provide a continuous sidewalk along Patton Chapel all the way from U.S. 31 past Simmons Middle School to a point up Shades Mountain near Matzek Drive. There are future plans to extend the sidewalk about a mile further, linking it to one on Park Avenue in Bluff Park. The entire Patton Chapel Road widening and realignment project initially was projected to cost about $8 million, but it ended up costing $11 million, Markert said. Jefferson County and Hoover are each contributing $1.25 million, and the rest is coming from the federal government.

This map shows the future layout for the intersection of Patton Chapel Road, Chapel Lane, Chapel Road and Preserve Parkway. Work to realign the intersections of the roads should intensify after the completion of the replacement of the bridge over Patton Creek just to the east. The bridge had been scheduled to reopen Nov. 9, but work was still under way in mid-November. The intersection realignment should take an estimated two months, depending on the weather, county officials say. Map courtesy of Jefferson County.

The Alabama Department of Transportation had to approve all the plans and modifications to the plans along the way because it handles the distribution of federal money for road projects in the state.

The Patton Creek bridge was shut down for demolition and replacement on March 24. County officials originally expected the bridge would be out for three months, depending on the weather, but building the replacement bridge

ended up taking more than seven months. The delays prompted numerous people to contact city and county officials, wondering


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Hoover Sun

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Stay Connected, Stay Engaged, Stay Safe OLLI@UA is a member-led community of lifelong learners. Members enjoy learning new things, meeting peers with similar interests and traveling together. During these unprecedented times, OLLI transitioned to offer accessible, interactive and fun courses completely online that provide members opportunities to stay connected, even when they are apart. Registration for the spring semester begins in December. For more information or to register, Call 1-855-424-0909 or visit olli.ua.edu/bhm.

B4 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

This map shows the entirety of an $11 million project to widen Patton Chapel Road from Crayrich Drive to Gwin Elementary School, replace and widen the Patton Creek bridge and realign the intersection of Patton Chapel Road, Chapel Lane, Chapel Road and Preserve Parkway. Map courtesy of Jefferson County.


CONTINUED from page B1 why it was taking so long. One commenter on social media joked the contractor was trying to build it faster than the Golden Gate Bridge was built, so maybe it would be done by 2023. Markert said the biggest reason for the delay was that a Birmingham Water Works line had to be relocated. “We couldn’t control that as much as we wanted to. That delayed us severely,” Markert said. “We had to wait till they got that out of the way to get a certain amount of the work done.” Also, a major rain event Aug. 30 blew out footings for wing walls, and that work had to be redone, causing at least three to four more weeks of delay, he said. The bridge runs over Patton Creek in the 1600 block of Patton Chapel Road, between Gwin Elementary School and Cornwall Road and right next to the entrance of Patton Creek Condominiums. About 18,000 vehicles normally travel that stretch of road on the average day, but traffic was diverted during construction. The official detour route from U.S. 31 is to go south on U.S. 31, turn right onto John Hawkins Parkway, right onto Galleria Boulevard and left onto Chapel Lane, which connects back with Patton Chapel Road at Gwin Elementary. However, many people used neighborhood streets as a cut-through, greatly increasing traffic on roads such as Teakwood Road, Kestwick Drive, Hummingbird Lane, Deo Dara Drive and Winchester Road. The new bridge has both a pedestrian path and a bicycle lane, Markert said. A house on Patton Chapel Road across from the Patton Creek Condominiums was torn down in March to facilitate the construction project.

Work on the Patton Chapel Road bridge continues as the bridge nears completion Nov. 3. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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Events The green on the 18th hole at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa golf course. Photo courtesy of Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

14th annual BYOB golf scramble coming Dec. 6 By JON ANDERSON Golfers across Alabama are scheduled to join together Dec. 6 at courses along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail for the 14th annual BYOB (Bring Your Old Buddy) Scramble golf tournament. The event, which is held at all of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail locations except the Lakewood Golf Club in Point Clear, typically draws 1,400 to 1,800 players at the 10 golf sites. Around 100 of those are at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa and 120 to 160 at Oxmoor Valley, where the tournament originated. It was started by Hoover resident Paul Rohrback, who drowned in a fishing accident in 2014. A portion of the proceeds from the tournament goes to an education fund for Rohrback’s children. The Robert Trent Jones Foundation board of directors decides how much goes into the education fund and how much goes to charities, said Jonathan Romeo, director of business development for the golf trail. Each golf club chooses its own charity to receive money. Proceeds from the tournament at Ross Bridge will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research

BYOB Scramble • WHERE: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses, including Ross Bridge and Oxmoor Valley • WHEN: Dec. 6, 10 a.m. • COST: $120 at Ross Bridge; $90 other courses • WEB: rtjgolf.com/byob

Foundation, while proceeds from the Oxmoor Valley golf courses will go to the Exceptional Foundation and Children’s of Alabama hospital. The cost to play is $120 per player at Ross Bridge and $90 per player at the other courses. The entry fee covers green’s fees, a cart, lunch and a Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail discount card for 2021. The format is a four-man team scramble. Individuals will be paired with others to form teams. The Ross Bridge tournament was full as of mid-November, but there were still a few spots at Oxmoor Valley. To register or for more information, go to rtjgolf.com/byob.

The Hoover Public Safety Center shines with Christmas trees and lights. City offices in the center will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Staff photo.

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Public building closing schedule for Christmas, New Year holidays By JON ANDERSON Public buildings and services around Hoover have a variety of closing schedules for the Christmas and New Year holidays: ► Hoover City Hall and city offices in the Hoover Public Safety Center: Closed Thursday, Dec. 24, for Christmas Eve and Friday, Dec. 25, for Christmas Day; also closed Thursday, Dec. 31, for New Year’s Eve and Friday, Jan. 1, for New Year’s Day.  ► Hoover Public Library: Closes early at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23; also closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  ► Hoover Recreation Center: Open 8 a.m. to noon on Christmas Eve; closed Christmas Day; open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 26; open 8 a.m. to noon on New Year’s Eve; closed New Year’s Day. 

► Jefferson County offices (including Hoover satellite office): Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. ► Shelby County offices (including Inverness license office): Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  ► Alabama Department of Revenue Jefferson-Shelby Taxpayer Service Center at Hoover Public Safety Center: Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  ► Aldridge Gardens: Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  ► Hoover City Schools: Closed to students Dec. 21 through Jan. 1; students return Monday, Jan. 4.  ► Garbage and recycling: Garbage pickup will be delayed by one day on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

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B6 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

Sports Lady Bucs motivated after runner-up finish By KYLE PARMLEY Last season was nearly perfect for the Hoover High School girls basketball team. After an early-season loss to Ramsay, the Lady Buccaneers reeled off 23 straight victories, most of them in utterly dominant fashion. Only one team tripped them up the rest of the season. Spain Park, Hoover’s crosstown rival, defeated the Lady Bucs in the regular season finale and later in the Class 7A state championship game. It did not help matters that Aniya Hubbard, one of Hoover’s top players, missed the championship game after suffering an injury, but head coach Krystle Johnson has refused to use that to excuse the loss. “The main thing I can’t get out of my head about that last game was how terrible we shot,” Johnson said. Hoover and Spain Park have alternated the past four 7A championships, with Hoover winning in 2017 and 2019 and Spain Park emerging victorious in 2018 and 2020. Hoover defeated Spain Park in the 2017 title game, an overtime thriller, but Spain Park got the best of the Lady Bucs last winter. In 2019, Hoover came off the disappointment of not winning it all and stormed through the entire season to win it all. Johnson hopes to see something similar happen this year. “I think we have a little bit more hunger this year than we did last year,” she said. “Some of my more experienced players are the most upset about the way the season

ended. You can just tell they’re playing with a chip on their shoulder. All they talk about is getting back to the state championship game.” Hoover certainly has the pieces in place to make a run at a third state title in five years. The Lady Bucs have two solid seniors in forward Rachel Hager and guard Jada Knight among their nine returning players. Hubbard, a junior, is back and healthy and will once again be one of Hoover’s primary leaders. To many, it will feel as if Reniya Kelly is older than a sophomore, but she was starring on the big stage as an eighth-grader. Kelly headlines a big sophomore class for the Lady Bucs, which also includes Kristen McMillan and Olivia Johnigan. That presents challenges, but the team is certainly talented enough to win big. “A lot of it will be up to making sure we’re preparing in practice,” Johnson said. Hoover’s identity on the court will be much of the same, but Johnson believes the team will possess the ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter a little better this season, along with a good deal of height in the post. “We’ll be more versatile,” she said. “We won’t have to depend on getting to the basket. We’ve got several people that can knock down outside shots. We’ve just got to make sure we stay consistent.” The Lady Bucs open the season as the favorite to win Class 7A, Area 5, playing with Oak Mountain, Thompson and Tuscaloosa County. They expect to be right back competing for a blue map in a few months. “It’ll be business as usual,” Johnson said.

Hoover’s Jada Knight (2) moves toward the goal as she’s guarded by Central-Phenix City’s Kaitlyn Jenkins (34) during the first half of an AHSAA Class 7A state semifinal game Feb. 27 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. Photo by Erin Nelson.

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December 2020 • B7

Lady Jags look to hang on to program momentum By KYLE PARMLEY

Avery Masdon (14) drives the ball down court during a Class 7A Northwest Regional final game between Spain Park and Vestavia Hills on Feb. 18 at Tom Drake Coliseum in Hanceville. Masdon will be one of the team’s go-to forces, along with junior returning guards Mackenzie Culpepper and Camille Chase. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

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The Spain Park High School girls basketball team is by no means starting over. The Lady Jaguars won the Class 7A state championship last winter for the second time in three years behind the consistent dominance of Sarah Ashlee Barker. With Barker now at the University of Georgia, most programs would expect a down year. But Spain Park returns all of its other starters, and the Lady Jags have their sights set on another successful season. “Obviously, it will be less dominant on one player,” Spain Park head coach Mike Chase said. “All the load of everything is spread between more players. We’re going to be deeper this year. We can be a little more diverse in some of the things that we do.” If there is one thing Barker passed down to her successors at Spain Park, Chase said it’s the leadership that she learned from the ones before her. “She learned that from her teammates, and she’s passed that on to those guys,” he said. “We’re not going to have a dominant leader, but we’re going to be leader by committee, and we’ve got a bunch of guys who are going to step up and take that challenge.” Things certainly won’t be made easier without one of the top players in the state, but this year’s team will resemble more closely the ones Chase has spent much of his career at ClayChalkville and Spain Park coaching. “If I had to coach outside my box, it was last year, having a player that was dominant in virtually every aspect,” he said. “In the past, we didn’t have a leading scorer; we just had kids who could all score.” There will still be several familiar faces on the floor this winter for the Lady Jags. Senior Avery Masdon will be one of the team’s go-to forces, along with junior returning guards Mackenzie Culpepper and Camille Chase. All three will be able to share the ball-handling duties, something Chase is not worried about.

All the load of everything is spread between more players. We’re going to be deeper this year. We can be a little more diverse in some of the things that we do.


“They’re natural point guards; they just played a different position,” Chase said of their roles in previous seasons. Alanah Pooler, Katie Flannery and Haley Russell return as well, giving the Lady Jags plenty of experience from the forward position. The Lady Jags also added Jordy Griggs to the mix — a 6-foot-2 sophomore from California who has already garnered national attention. She can do it all, according to Chase. She is a “phenomenal athlete — long, can jump and can run.” Chase expects there to be a learning curve for Griggs but believes she will continuously improve throughout the season. Jaycee Haynes, Kerri Barnes, Alex Baskin, Stephanie Tooson and Paxton Gillispie round out the Spain Park roster. While the Lady Jags have high hopes for the 2020-21 season, Class 7A, Area 6 will do them no favors. While Spain Park is the defending state champion, Vestavia Hills and Hewitt-Trussville are programs on the rise, and now Gadsden City enters the fold, bringing in a program that won its area last year as well. “Three good teams already coming back in our area, and you bring in an area champ,” Chase said. “Nobody’s going to go 6-0 ... When we get to January, we’ve got to be clicking.”

B8 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

New face, same Bucs

New head coach aims to keep program’s expectations high Hoover’s D.J. Fairley (1) drives the ball toward the goal as he’s guarded by Thompson’s Tyrek Howard (1) on Jan. 21 at Thompson High School’s Warrior Arena in Alabaster. Fairley is back this year for his senior campaign — one of seven 12th graders for the Bucs. Photo by Erin Nelson.

By KYLE PARMLEY There will be a new face pacing in front of the Hoover bench this season. But out on the court, the Hoover High School boys basketball team will not look much different from previous iterations. Scott Ware was named the new head coach of the Buccaneers in the spring and takes over a program with consistently high expectations. Nothing about the situation is new to him, though. He’s been a head coach in the past and has served as the lead assistant at Hoover for the past seven years. “I had a lot of responsibilities as the assistant around here,” Ware said. Ware called the transition to the head coach’s office an easy one, as he takes over for Charles Burkett, who took the same job at Athens after 14 seasons at Hoover. “I tried to meet with the guys the very first opportunity I could in the summer when it was announced,” Ware said. “When that happened, we had a team meeting, and they bought in from the get-go. We’ve kind of kept on with what we’ve always done.” Adding to the familiarity factor, Ware was also able to welcome Trent Hosmer back to the fold. Hosmer is coming off a brief but successful stint as the head coach at Gardendale, and he will now serve as Ware’s lead assistant. Prior to going to Gardendale, Hosmer coached at Hoover. “We had formed a great relationship,” Ware said. “He and I hit it off, and he’s great. For a young guy, he has a lot of things that you see in a lot of veteran coaches. I knew he was special.” Hoover put together a solid season last year but fell to Sparkman in the Class 7A Northeast Regional semifinals. The Bucs were forced to play that game without their leading scorer, DJ Fairley, who was suffering from the flu. “I don’t know if it would’ve made a difference in the outcome, but it left you empty that you didn’t have the full squad there to compete when you made it to that level,” Ware said.

Fairley is back this year for his senior campaign — one of seven 12th graders for the Bucs. Colby Carter is back and healthy after missing much of the last two seasons due to injury. Fairley and Carter serve as the team’s captains. Parker Williams is back to man the point guard position for the Bucs and is a guy Ware calls an unselfish player. Chip Culpepper played his best basketball of the season at the end of last year and is expecting a breakout senior campaign. Shun Sheffield’s athleticism

is enough to give every opponent problems as well. Michael Scott Myers and Scott Osborne are also seniors. “They want to try to finish it off right,” Ware said. Brodin Grady and Brandon Foster are juniors who held down the interior last season and will do so once again. Christian Bryant also contributed last season and should take another step forward. The roster is rounded out by TQ Richardson, Austin Montgomery and Elijah Herron.

Ware won’t change the Bucs’ style much. They will attempt to beat the defense down the floor and attain easy baskets. When forced to play half-court offense, the objective is to “shoot the shot we want to shoot.” Ware is also emphasizing grit and toughness to his team on the defensive end. Those will be needed in Class 7A, Area 5, in which the Bucs compete against Oak Mountain (a final four team a year ago), Thompson and Tuscaloosa County.

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December 2020 • B9

High expectations await improving Jags team By KYLE PARMLEY Chris Laatsch cautions against evaluating the progress of a program merely on the team’s win-loss record. Schedules are not created equally and many factors come into play in a given season. But there’s no denying the immense progress the Jaguars made from year one to year two under Laatsch, as they improved from seven wins in 2018-19 to a 20-win team last winter. “The buy-in, the belief and the effort and them understanding what we’re trying to do, I was pleased with the atmosphere with our program,” Laatsch said. Last season, Spain Park advanced past the area tournament and won its Class 7A Northwest Regional semifinal game. The Jags even gave eventual state runner-up and area rival Mountain Brook all it could handle in the regional final. “Records are not a good test of the quality of a team, but I do think what I can judge is the atmosphere, buy-in, work ethic, passion and camaraderie of our kids and those things are definitely in place,” Laatsch said. Spain Park graduated four seniors from last year’s squad, but returns all five starters (including two others who could be considered starters). The program has ascended in two years to one with expectations of being one of the top teams in the state this season. Josh Harrington is back and a player Laatsch called the Jags’ most valuable player a season ago. “He’s tiny but he’s mighty,” Laatsch said. “He just makes plays. If there was a play that needed to be made last year, he just always seemed to make it.” Cam Crawford is garnering the most recruiting attention on Spain Park’s roster, as the guard’s explosive athleticism and skill give opposing teams nightmares. Junior forward Colin Turner is also back, adding muscle to his 6-foot-8 frame in the offseason to be an even better player. J.R. Lambert can do a little bit of everything on the floor for the Jags. He had a big game

Josh Harrington (14) drives the ball to the basket while Colby Blackwell (23) plays defense during a Class 7A Northwest Regional final game Feb. 18 at Tom Drake Coliseum in Hanceville. Harrington is back and a player head coach Chris Laatsch called the Jags’ most valuable player a season ago. Photo by Sarah Finnegan.

against Mountain Brook in the regional final last year. Braden Diclemente is also a returning starter. Laatsch lauded his shooting touch and said he has also worked to improve every aspect of his game. Blake Hay and Blake Floyd give the Jags two other players with plenty of experience as well. Hay started at the beginning of last season before suffering an injury, but he is back and healthy. Floyd moved to Spain Park for his senior year, moving over from Pelham,

where his dad Joel served as the head coach. Joel Floyd is now an assistant on the Spain Park staff. “To have a chance to work alongside of him, I’m learning from him every day. He’s going to be a tremendous asset to our program,” Laatsch said. Jax Hovanec is a utility player capable of playing four of the five positions on the floor. Also on the roster are Deacon George, Dawson DeFalco, Jayson Webb, Pierson Cole and Zach Gray.


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There are no secrets with a team coached by Laatsch. His teams will play a strong, fundamentally-based game on the offensive side and keep teams off balance on defense by featuring multiple looks. Laatsch also has no shortage of confidence in his current team. “Our goal is a state championship,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good teams. There’s a lot of teams with a lot of people back, but our team has a lot of people back, too.”

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B10 • December 2020

Hoover Sun


The Hoover and Spain Park high school football teams made it through the regular season. As of press time, Hoover was still in the midst of a playoff run. Spain Park finished the season with a 4-6 record, failing to qualify for the state playoffs but ending on a high note with two consecutive wins.

Photos by Todd Lester, Erin Nelson and Barry Stephenson Left: Hoover’s DJ Estes (54) made the key stop in the Bucs’ win over Oak Mountain, teaming up with Corey Warren to stop quarterback Evan Smith short of the line to gain on a critical fourth down late in the game. Below left: Despite the loss, Hoover’s defense made some key plays in a 39-23 loss to Thompson on Oct. 23. Markus Clark (41) made one of those big plays, intercepting a pass and returning it 15 yards for a touchdown. Below right: Hoover’s Jason Riles (9) recovered a fumble and took it 40 yards for a touchdown in the Bucs’ dominant 49-14 win over Sparkman in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs Nov. 6.

Spain Park wide receiver Cooper Kelley (10) capped off his career in style, playing a big role in the Jags’ season-ending victory against Hueytown. Kelley caught nine balls for a whopping 232 yards and three touchdowns in the contest.

Spain Park quarterback Bennett Meredith (3) put up great numbers for much of his first season as the Jags’ starter, none more impressive than the season finale. In the Jags’ wild 63-62 win over Hueytown on Oct. 29, Meredith completed 34-of-41 passes for 514 yards and four touchdowns.

Hoover wide receiver RJ Hamilton (80) has been a key piece to the Bucs’ offense all season long, and he was vital once again in a 24-21 win over Oak Mountain on Nov. 13 in the Class 7A quarterfinals. Hamilton snagged five passes for 171 yards, including the go-ahead 21-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.


December 2020 • B11

B12 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

Bucs take down Jags, win 1st state volleyball title By KYLE PARMLEY It has been a long time coming. Hoover High School has become a mainstay at the state volleyball tournament but has never been able to break through. Until now. The Bucs blew past Spain Park 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-23) on Oct. 29 at Bill Harris Arena, winning the Class 7A championship for the first time in program history. “I’m so proud of them. I’m so happy for them, my staff, my players, anybody that has ever put on a Hoover jersey,” Hoover head coach Chris Camper said following the match. Hoover (50-1) capped off an unbelievable season with its 50th consecutive victory over crosstown rival Spain Park, which was making its first state championship appearance in school history. Cori Shipman, Kendal Youngblood, Aly Durban, Kayla Jemison, Sydney Melton, Eva Guenster, Mel Jones and Gabrielle Essix all went out on top for the Bucs. “It means a lot to have played my last game and to have been able to win,” Essix said. “All the seniors have played together since we were in seventh or eighth grade. Just to be able to finish with them is incredible.” In the opening set, Hoover unleashed its powerful offense with a bevy of kills from Essix and Rya McKinnon. The Bucs went on a 9-0 run to jump out to a 14-4 lead and cruised to the 25-15 set win. McKinnon was named MVP of the state tournament, the junior finishing with a match-high 21 kills and 11 digs. “All of our hard work has paid off,” she said. Spain Park was much more composed in the second set, getting off to a good start before Hoover once again took control. After a 14-14 tie, the Bucs scored 11 of the final 14 points of the set to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match. “These are the games you play for,” said Spain Park outside hitter Audrey Rothman,

Above: The Bucs dog-pile on the court after they secured the Class 7A championship title after defeating Spain Park in the AHSAA Volleyball State Championship on Oct. 29 at Bill Harris Arena. Right: Rya McKinnon (9) and Gabbi Essix (15) hug in celebration. Far right: Hoover head coach Chris Camper and team members rush the court after their win. Photos by Erin Nelson.

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December 2020 • B13 Left: Hoover’s Aly Durban (4) passes the ball in the Class 7A championship final against Spain Park during the AHSAA Volleyball State Championship on Oct. 29 at Bill Harris Arena. Far left: Spain Park’s Audrey Rothman (8) spikes the ball. Rothman — along with the Jags’ Emily Breazeale and Katelyn Walsh — were named all-tournament players.

who led the Jags with 15 kills, eight assists and four digs. “You want to go and play in the state championship.” The third set was a back-and-forth affair, tied at 23-23 before the Bucs won the final two points and the title. “I thought our team played really well after they settled in after the first set,” Spain Park head coach Kellye Bowen said. “We went back to our normal rotations. We just didn’t figure it out in the first set, but in the second and third, they settled in.” Hoover advanced to the final eight for the eighth straight season this fall, but the Bucs were never able to win it all in those previous trips. They last played in the final in 2016 when they fell to Mountain Brook. This season, they were nearly unstoppable. In the season opener, Hoover lost to traditional power McGillToolen. That was their first and last defeat. “That one loss really helped us,” Essix said. The Bucs won every tournament they entered

this season, including the season-opening Juanita Boddie, HeffStrong at Spain Park and Margaret Blalock at Homewood before conquering the area, super regional and state tourneys. “These girls deserve all the recognition, to fight through the season like they did, I can’t be more proud of them,” Camper said. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Hoover wasn’t able to play as many regional powers as normal, but the Bucs did notch a win over Brentwood, Tennessee, always considered one of the best programs in the nation. “I don’t know who the best team in the country is, but if there’s a better team than this one I’d like to see it,” Camper said. “I think this team has as much a right for a national championship as any.” Spain Park (27-11) last made it to the state tournament in 2003, when Camper was coaching the Jags. The Jags have risen from a doormat to a threat over Kellye Bowen’s six years as head coach. A couple of those seasons, Spain

Park has had a team worthy of the final eight, but upsets and bad matchups have prevented the Jags from getting there. “This is the first team that’s ever made it this far, because of our talent and because of the hard work and dedication that we put in,” senior libero Katelyn Walsh said. “I’ve never been a part of a team that cared this much and sacrificed as much to be here. We got to make history for our school.” The Jags’ season was a bit bumpier than Hoover’s. With much of the roster playing together for the first time, it took much of the season before Spain Park began to find its consistent peak form. “They did it together, they worked together,” Bowen said. “They were gritty, which we were not at the beginning of the season, but in the postseason that’s all they were. They did what they were coached to do. They played their hearts out.” To get to the state title match, Hoover and

Spain Park were the top two seeds from the North Super Regional, Hoover defeating the Jags in the super regional final in much the same fashion. The day prior to the state championship, both teams won in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Hoover defeating Baker and Thompson, while Spain Park toppled Auburn and McGill-Toolen. In the Oct. 29 match, Essix contributed 17 kills and setter Durban had 47 digs, earning both players all-tournament honors. For Spain Park, Emily Breazeale (six kills), Rothman and Walsh (17 digs) were named all-tournament players as well. Also for Hoover, Melton finished with 11 digs and Guenster had 10 digs. Spain Park’s Brooklyn Allison tallied seven digs. Camper thanked Hoover High administrators past and present and all involved with the program during his tenure. “The next six months, we’re going to celebrate and really enjoy this,” he said.

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B14 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

Varsity Sports Calendar BASKETBALL HOOVER Dec. 1: Boys @ Oxford. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4: @ Spain Park. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8: @ Wenonah. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10: vs. Vestavia Hills. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15: Boys vs. Ramsay. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17-19: Girls at Big Orange Classic. TBD. Hoover High School. Dec. 18: Boys @ McGill-Toolen. 6 p.m.

Dec. 31-Jan. 2: Girls at Big South Shootout. TBD. Atlanta. SPAIN PARK Dec. 1: vs. Clay-Chalkville. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4: vs. Hoover. Girls at 6 p.m.; boys at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8: Boys @ Thompson. TBD. Dec. 11: @ Homewood. Girls at 5 p.m.; boys at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12: Boys at Twin City Automotive Tournament. TBD. Plainview High School. Dec. 17-19: Boys at Oak Mountain Tournament. TBD. Oak Mountain High School.

Dec. 21: vs. Hazel Green. 6 p.m.

Dec. 21-23: Girls at Chevron Classic. TBD. Spain Park High School.

Dec. 21-23: Boys at The Shootout. TBD. Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Dec. 28-30: Arnold Tournament. TBD. Panama City Beach, Florida.

said Rick Ford, the Great American Rivalry Series CEO. “In this very unique year, we felt it is even more important that the Great American Rivalry Series and our presenting partner, the United States Marines, continue the 17-year tradition of recognizing their achievements.” Paradise and Reese each will receive a $500 scholarship on behalf of the Great American Rivalry Series. – Submitted by the Great American Rivalry Series.

Merry Christmas

from the Heather Goss Group Sending our best wishes to our Hoover community this holiday season. Thank you for letting us serve so many of you. If your 2021 plans involve real estate, we’d love to help you next!

JANICE DANCE 205.937.1401 jdance@realtysouth.com

Dec. 29: Girls at Ball-n-Prep. TBD. TBD.

Dec. 19: @ Fairhope. 3:30 p.m.

Bucs, Rebels seniors win scholar athlete award Hoover High School senior Nick Paradise and Vestavia Hills High School senior Leighton Reese both were named Great American Rivalry Series Scholar Athletes for 2020.  Scholar Athlete award winners are recognized for their “on-the-field” and “in-the-classroom" success.   “We are very happy to recognize these senior athletes for their outstanding performance on the field and as students throughout their high school careers,”

Dec. 28-30: Boys at Big Orange Classic. TBD. Hoover High School.

HEATHER GOSS 205.563.0456 hgoss@realtysouth.com


MELINDA LAWRY 205.937.1402 mlawry@realtysouth.com

Hoover offensive lineman Nick Paradise (52) leads the blocking during a 2019 game against Spain Park at the Hoover Met. Paradise was named a 2020 Great American Rivalry Series Scholar Athlete. Photo by Barry Stephenson.


December 2020 • B15

Above: The new historical marker for Sunset Rock at the Lover’s Leap historical site next to Tip Top Grill in the Bluff Park community. Left: WBRC Fox 6 meteorologist Fred Hunter and Hoover Historical Society President Jim Langley led the dedication of a new marker. Photos by Jon Anderson.

Historical society dedicates plaque at Sunset Rock By JON ANDERSON The Hoover Historical Society recently dedicated a new plaque at the Sunset Rock lookout point next to the Lover’s Leap historical site in Bluff Park. The plaque is located down a short pathway off Shades Crest Road, just southwest of Tip Top Grill, on top of limestone rocks that have a steep dropoff. The plaque marks Sunset Rock, where a former prominent lawyer and judge from Elyton (a town later annexed into Birmingham) carved the first four lines of Lord Byron’s poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” into a limestone rock that had a scenic view of Shades Valley below, Hoover Historical Society President Jim Langley said. The former judge, Thomas Wadsworth Farrar, carved the lines into the rock in 1827, and it became a popular place for people to

visit, Langley said. In the 1930s, the part of the rock with the inscription was chiseled out of the mountain and placed in a Masonic Lodge in Elyton that was founded by Farrar. Residents in the Bluff Park area were upset that their landmark had been taken, Langley said. “It was a really big stink.” After a failed attempt to reclaim the rock from the Masons, Birmingham Mayor George Ward and Thomas Martin in 1937 funded a replica of the inscription on a rock next to the original site in Bluff Park, Langley said. In 1963, after years of neglect, the Shades Mountain Scenic Association sued a landowner who refused public access to Sunset Rock. A judge sided with the association and ruled that the rock and pathway to it from Shades Crest Road were indeed public property, Langley said. In 1973, the Shades Mountain Garden Club made improvements to the site, putting up a historical marker for Lover’s Leap (which has its

own story), an improved stone pathway leading to Sunset Rock, and some landscaping. In February 2004, a new metal fence was put around the inscription in the limestone rock to better protect it. Langley said. Over time, the inscription on Sunset Rock has gotten harder to read, and weeds and brush grew up around it. Langley did some work on the rock to make the inscription more visible, and in October, the Hoover Historical Society held a cleanup day to clear away some of the overgrown brush at the rock and along the path leading to it. Langley and his wife, Ann, paid for the aluminum historic marker at Sunset Rock. He thinks Lover’s Leap/Sunset Rock is one of the most intriguing historical sites in Hoover and hopes to share its history with more people. The marker more clearly gives the words that are inscribed on the rock. Lover’s Leap got its name from an old Creek

Indian story about a Creek brave called Cheeto who fell in love with a beautiful Creek princess named Sehoy, Langley said. But the head of the Cheeto clan arranged for him to be married to a woman from another clan. Cheeto refused, but his prospective bride would not renounce the wedding. They were on a large rock on Shades Mountain overlooking Shades Valley when he told her he would not marry her, Langley said. She became angry and lunged at him, and he instinctively drew his bone hunting knife and, before thinking, plunged the knife into her heart, the story says. Feeling remorse at what he had done, he grabbed the woman into his arms and jumped to his death on the rocks below. The actual Lover’s Leap rock supposedly is on the Tip Top Grill property, but the Lover’s Leap historical marker is nearby, along Shades Crest Road, at the top of the trail leading to Sunset Rock.

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B16 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

‘Helping people move forward’ Shelby County Probate Judge Allison Boyd works to develop, implement mental health programs By LEAH INGRAM EAGLE


llison Boyd always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. She received some advice in high school from a friend’s father, who told her that even though that was her plan, she shouldn’t major in political science. “He said when you graduate from college, if you don’t want to go to law school, you’ll have a political science degree and nothing to do with that,” Boyd said. “He was kind of right.” Boyd, a Hoover resident who was elected Shelby County’s probate judge in 2018, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Samford University in 1999, then went on to obtain her MBA from UAB in 2002. Before attending law school, she worked at Glenwood Behavioral Health Center as a human resources assistant for two years. That’s where she got her first experience with mental health. “I had been taking the LSAT and gotten frustrated in HR. Part of the reason was always being told ‘that’s great, but we need to check with our lawyer,’” she said. “That brought me back to reality and back to the path of law school.” She commuted from Shelby County to law school at the University of Alabama, where she graduated with her Juris Doctorate in 2005. During this time, she spent time clerking for the Shelby County District Attorney’s office. After graduating, she began practicing at Spruell and Powell LLC in Northport, and she and her husband Candler made the move there. She gained experience in a variety of legal services, including real estate, estate planning, contract disputes, insurance defense, probate, divorce, juvenile court, personal injury, probate law and family law. “It was wonderful,” she said. “I could not have asked for a better first legal experience or job where two people who took me under their wings and taught me the ropes and threw me in the deep end.” At the beginning of 2007, Boyd made the move back to Shelby County where she began working as the assistant district attorney in Columbiana. “I wanted to do anything — tax law, business, but nothing criminal,” Boyd said. “But it turned out to be the best thing ever. It shaped and changed where I thought I was heading. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about it; I just started to work, and as soon as I got to the office, I fell in love immediately. When I would turn on the news, that’s what we were working on the next day.” Over the next nine years, Boyd was responsible for the prosecution of crimes against children and felony crimes of violence. She was also the prosecutor assigned to manage Shelby County’s Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Veteran’s Treatment Court. She had her son about a year after taking the job, and her daughter would follow 23 months later. Now a mom herself, Boyd was spending most of her time trying cases on child crimes. “[Having my children], it made me understand a little bit more where the victim’s parents were coming from. A mom once said to me that I didn’t understand because I didn’t have kids. More on an emotional level, you do understand it, relating to the parent and even to the kids.” Boyd said working in that office was the perfect place and time having a family, because so many others were in the same stage of life. “It was so nice because other people understood what I was going through,” she said. Boyd was approached by former Judge Jim Fuhrmeister in 2015, who was creating a position in his office to focus on mental health. She said while this wasn’t something she saw coming, she was up for trying something different. In January 2016, she began her role as the Mental Health Programs coordinator and legal counsel for the Shelby County Probate Office. “I made a difficult decision to leave the district attorney’s office where I had spent the better part of 10 years doing a job I dearly loved,” she said. “I made that decision because I saw an opportunity to make a difference in my community.” She said that position was more fulfilling than

Above: Shelby County Probate Judge Allison Boyd in a courtroom at the Shelby County Courthouse on Oct. 5. Photo by Erin Nelson. Below: Boyd, left, and Stephanie Kendrick of Central Alabama Wellness discuss mental health with the Leadership Shelby 2020 class in February. Photo by Leah Ingram Eagle.

she ever imagined, and it allowed her to pursue her passion of working with community leaders, first responders and advocates toward creating a better mental health system. “It was a good marriage of what I had been doing and moving forward on positive change,” she said. “One thing I loved about the Mental Health Court was that the people in programs who did something wrong or were charged with a crime, helping them put the pieces in place, getting the right diagnosis, treatment, medication, a job or finishing school. We weren’t fixing those things, but putting the pieces in place for them to go on so they wouldn’t be back in court.” Just two years into that role, Judge Fuhrmeister shared with Boyd his intention not to seek reelection for probate judge. She then had to think carefully about making the decision to run for office. She did win the primary in June 2018, beating out her other two competitors. “I made it through the election season,” she said. “That’s probably the most stress I’ve ever been under.” As probate judge, Boyd is responsible for the development and implementation of mental health programs for the Shelby County Probate Office. She also reviewed cases and provided legal research and analysis for cases involving guardianships, conservatorships, wills,

administrations, condemnations, name changes, adoptions and commitments. “You’re helping people move forward and not punishing them for crimes of the past,” she said. “It’s more of seeing brightness for the future. That’s what drew me more to mental health.” During COVID-19, though the courthouse was closed to the public, her office didn’t miss a single day as far as processing things. Many things were able to be done online, and hearings were held over Zoom. She said it may change the

way they do things permanently for involuntary commitments, guardianships and conservatorships and nursing home and homebound. Boyd also volunteers her time serving on several boards, including Central Alabama Wellness, Senior Volunteers and Services, Leadership Shelby County and NAMI Alabama, an advocacy group for mental illness. Even with her busy schedule, she is thankful to still be able to be involved in her children’s activities, she said. Her son is 12 and attends Berry Middle School, where he plays lacrosse and runs cross-country. Her daughter is 10, attends Greystone Elementary and participates in programs with Red Mountain Theater Company. The family attends Asbury United Methodist Church. Boyd said her favorite part of her job is her interactions with people. Being able to help when they come to them whether for an adoption, commitment, estate, deed and mortgage records. “They are coming to us when they’re in need of something, and I love being able to help them and make it an easy process. Getting them the right answer and in and out of court without adding a burden and problem,” she said. Her goals are to simply to get better at what she is doing and make their offices even better and more user friendly.


December 2020 • B17



DIFFERENCE Follow these tips to lower your power bill.

Program your thermostat to 68° or lower.

Set ceiling fans to run clockwise in winter.

Raise your blinds to let the sun help heat your home.

For more ways to save by making your home more energy efficient, visit AlabamaPower.com/tips.

© 2020 Alabama Power Company

B18 • December 2020

Hoover Sun

Stefan Hochhuber, a multimedia artist from Atlanta, talks with Julie Burroughs and her friend Leigh Ann Williams of Tuscaloosa about a bird’s nest piece at the Moss Magic Festival, an event that combined the 15th annual Moss Rock Festival with the Magic City Art Connection on Nov. 7 at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium parking lot.

MOSS MAGIC Photos by Erin Nelson

Above: Bennett Brown, 19-months, sticks a paintbrush in his mouth as he paints in the kids zone. Below: Ava Hedgepath, 5, mixes yellow and blue paint to make the color green as she paints a mural in the kids zone.

Above: Gail Stephens, left, of Hoover and Kathy Lyon of Indian Springs Village look at dozens of “yardbirds” and “springers” crafted out of various pieces of metal and other daily found objects by Louisville artist Rich Kolb. Right: Another festival-goer handles a piece of Kolb’s artwork.

December 2020 • B19

Wall to Wall

erritt Johnson




Now On View Wall to Wall is presented by


Additional support provided by the Alabama State Council Merritt Johnson, born Baltimore, Maryland 1977, lives and works in Stika, Alaska, Skydome bends down to see why Water is so heavy, 2020, acrylic gouache, acrylic, graphite and pastel pigment on 156 lb cotton cold pressed archival watercolor paper made into vinyl wallpaper; Courtesy of the artist and Accola Griefen Fine Art, New York

on the Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts; The EyeSight Foundation of Alabama; and the Dora and Sanjay Singh Endowment for Global Arts, Culture, and Education, a fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham

Birmingham Museum of Art


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