Homewood Star June 2024

Page 1

Homewood native tells

story behind his painting of Queen Elizabeth II

Artist Steve Skipper jokes that his latest painting made history twice. For starters, it was the first time a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was put on hold for Alabama football.

“I got started on the portrait of the queen, and then Alabama was playing Auburn in the Iron Bowl,” Skipper said.

As everybody knows — and has strong feelings about, one way or the other — Alabama beat Auburn “in dramatic form” in November of last year, after quarterback Jalen Milroe’s game-winning touchdown pass.

“People started calling me, wanting a painting of that,” said Skipper, who grew up in Homewood and paints sanctioned and officially licensed artwork for the University of Alabama.

But after he finished the painting of Milroe, called “The Resilient Gravedigger,” he started working on the queen again and finished the piece, titled “Majesty,” in March of this year.

WE FIX ROOFS 205•900•ROOF | CARDINAL-ROOF.COM Patriots capture state soccer title Learn more about attractions in and around the Birmingham area. Sponsors 4 City 5 Schoolhouse 6 Business 8 Real Estate 10 Events 12 Sports 18 Opinion 21 INSIDE facebook.com/thehomewoodstar See page 18 See page 20 Back On Top Day Tripping GUINSERVICE.COM Serving the Birmingham area since 1958. 205-595-4846 AL#12175 June 2024 | Volume 15 | Issue 1 HOMEWOOD’S COMMUNITY NEWS SOURCE THEHOMEWOODSTAR.COM | STARNESMEDIA.COM BROUGHT TO YOU BY SERVING HOMEWOOD, HOOVER, MOUNTAIN BROOK, VESTAVIA HILLS, TRUSSVILLE AND THE U.S. 280 CORRIDOR
F or many years the area near the former Econo Lodge Hotel site along Oxmoor Road was in need of a refresh. After the demolition of the hotel in Oct. 2023, a new project to redevelop the area will hopefully bring a new energy to West Homewood. Econo Lodge development project progressing toward completion
take shape’
See ECONO LODGE | page 22 See
| page 23
Kyle D’Agostino, founder and owner of Poole and Company Architects, at the new site of townhomes and restaurant space on Oxmoor Road in West Homewood. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
Artist Steve Skipper at work on his painting, titled “Majesty,” in his studio. Photo courtesy of Ephraim Skipper?
2 • June 2024 The Homewood Star High Quality Service and Customer Satisfaction is our priority We’re committed to surpassing your expectations for your beautiful outdoor spaces by creating and maintaining landscaping, hardscape installation and effectively minimizing drainage and erosion issues. Your Large and Small Tree, Shrub and Drainage Experts gardnerlandscapingsales@gmail.com | GardnerLandscapingLLC.com BEST PRICE for Trees, Shrubs Astroturf & Privacy Screens Gardner has the Call to schedule your landscaping plan 205-401-3347

The Homewood Chamber of Commerce acknowledges with gratitude our 2024 Premium Investors

TheHomewoodStar.com June 2024 • 3

About Us

Editor’s Note By Tim Stephens

As the new editor of the Homewood Star and other Starnes Media publications, it’s great to be “home.”

This is a literal and figurative statement. Since college brought me to Birmingham (and UAB) in 1991, it feels as if I’ve called almost every metro municipality home at some point. It’s good to be back.

It’s also good to be back in journalism after a few years with tech startups.

It feels full circle. My media career began at the old Birmingham Post-Herald and carried me to the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and CBSSports.com. Along the way, our teams pioneered many digital innovations that are now common.

You’ll begin to see these influences with the Homewood Star.

A mentor of mine once defined news as “interesting people doing interesting things.” Homewood is full of people like that. We want to tell those stories.

We have many new content plans that will debut this summer. I encourage you to connect with our social channels, visit our website and reach out to me anytime at tstephens@ starnesmedia.com.

Please Support Our Community Partners

Alabama Power (5)

American Village (20)

Bill White Roofing and Specialty (12)

Birmingham Zoo (20)

Bromberg’s (10)

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Children’s of Alabama (6)

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Gaynell Hendricks - Tax Assessor (16)

Green Springs Animal Clinic (7)

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Homewood Parks and Rec (24)

Issis & Sons (2)

Mr. Handyman of Birmingham (17)

One Man & A Toolbox (14)

One Source Heating Cooling and Electrical LLC (10)

Oxmoor Valley Orthodontics (6)

Piggly Wiggly (15)

Shunnarah Flooring (12)

Southern Home Structural Repair Specialists (8)

SouthPoint Bank (11)

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Find Us

The Homewood Star is distributed through direct mail to Homewood residents. You can also find copies at a variety of locations throughout the community. For a list of pick up locations, scan the QR code below or go to thehomewood star.com/about-us.

4 • June 2024 The Homewood Star
Tim Stephens Jon Anderson Leah Ingram Eagle Kyle Parmley Lee Hurley Melanie
Erin Nelson Sweeney Ted Perry
Delante Sarah Villar Publisher: Editor in Chief: Community Editors: Sports Editor: Contributing Editor: Design Editor: Photo Editor: Graphic Designer: Production Assistant: Operations Specialist: Legals: The Homewood Star is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. The Homewood Star is designed to inform the Homewood community of area school, family and community events. Information in The Homewood Star is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of The Homewood Star. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email. Published by: The Homewood Star LLC P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 thehomewoodstar.com For advertising, contact: dan@starnesmedia.com Please submit all articles, information and photos to: svillar@starnesmedia.com Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Lauren Denton Loyd McIntosh Emily Reed Grace Thornton Charles Vaughan Warren Caldwell Don Harris
Writers: Client Success Specialist: Business Development Exec: PLEASE RECYCLE THIS PAPER
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Committees discuss police hires, parking problems

The Homewood City Council Finance Committee heard some budget requests at its May 13 meeting that will set the stage for the budget process this fall.

Police Chief Tim Ross presented his plan to hire four new police officers so that he can transfer current officers to being school resource officers. Ross provided an overview of the current SRO deployment and the plan to replace contracted officers with full-time police officers.

“The last several years, we’ve used a mixture of full-time police officers to staff positions of SROs throughout the school system and retired police officers that we’ve made reserve officers with the city,” Ross said. “They’re paid under contract by the Board of Education.”

Ross and Homewood Schools Superintendent Dr. Justin Hefner talked last year about staffing SROs, but the school board didn’t approve the action.

During the current school year, two contracted officers left the ranks. Ross noted that there is a high turnover rate with contracted officers.

“They don’t stay very long in most cases,” he said. “We lost two during the school year, which kind of precipitated the conversations again [with] Dr. Hefner to do a different way of staffing. He has gotten approval by his board, and I wanted to bring it to the Finance Committee to request that we create four new police officer positions.”

The school system, through a contract with the city, reimburses 80% of the total benefits package for those officers and also picks up some of their costs for training, which is

required to obtain certification to work in schools, and continuing education.

Committee member Carlos Alemán voiced concern about the proposal.

“I just want to say that as we move forward in the budget process that we’re going to in September, these are the conversations that we’re going to have to have,” he said.

“We just added four new positions. While it’s important, and I’m supportive, at the same time we have to make hard choices elsewhere.”

Council member Andy Gwaltney agreed: “If we spend this money here, we’ve got to find it somewhere else.”

“We’re not growing the pot, and the federal funding stream is drying up,” Alemán said.

“My concern is that we’re not ready to fully commit to all the things that we already said that we want to do.”

Ross repeated that 80% of the expense for the new officers will be reimbursed, although the timing of that is unclear.

The Finance Committee sent a recommendation to the full council to hire the four officers, along with a budget amendment that transfers $250,000 to fund the hires. After the reimbursement from the school system, the city’s eventual net expense will be $50,000.

The committee also recommended a budget

amendment to address overtime in the police department. The $95,000 budget amendment draws from the following items in the police budget:

► Water: $25,000

► Ammunition: $25,000

► Fuels: $20,000

► Wireless communication: $20,000

► Physical fitness: $5,000

Additionally, the committee recommended authorizing the mayor to sign an easement agreement with Alabama Power to permit service to a CSpire Fiber Hub previously approved by the city. The hub will be at the soccer fields near Lakeshore Drive.

The Public Safety Committee again discussed a request to consider no-parking areas on portions of St. Charles Street and Stuart Street. The issue is possible problems for emergency vehicles to get through when there is heavy traffic.

“The fundamental problem is we have streets in neighborhoods that were designed in the ‘20s and ‘30s to accommodate Model-Ts and Model-As,” Ross said. “Now everyone drives a big SUV, and there’s simply not enough room to accommodate the vehicles that need to park at these residences or these businesses or a combination thereof that we’ve got right there at St. Charles and Oxmoor.

“We brought in some great business, which is great for the city, but this is the cost of it,” he continued. “I guess we’ve got to put these cars somewhere.”

The committee heard from about half a dozen residents about the matter. The committee ultimately dropped the discussion of yellow striping on one side of either street for now, to work on other solutions.

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City TheHomewoodStar.com June 2024 • 5
The city’s Public Safety Committee is considering solutions to the traffic problems created by cars parked on portions of St. Charles and Stuart streets. Photo courtesy of City of Homewood.
info. For J.D. Power 2023 award information, visit jdpower.com/awards. #1 in Customer Satisfaction with Business Electric Service in the South among Large Utilities
for more


Have a schoolhouse announcement? Email Sarah Villar at svillar@starnesmedia.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.

New Homewood Middle principal prepares for upcoming school year

Homewood Middle School’s new principal, Mindy McBride, is looking forward to settling into her role this summer as she prepares for the 20242025 school year.

“I have been an educator with Homewood City Schools for 20 years,” said McBride, who added that she is “so excited to be moving into the new role of principal” at Homewood Middle.

McBride is replacing Danny Steele, who is retiring after 31 years in education and administration.

For the last several years, McBride has served as an assistant principal for instruction at both Homewood Middle and Homewood High. Prior to that, she taught social studies and science at HHS and coached the varsity girls soccer team, including a state championship run in 2019.

As McBride prepares for her new role over the summer months she acknowledges that the new position is a “dream job.”

“HMS has such a collaborative and positive faculty and staff; the students are energetic and enthusiastic, and the building itself is beautiful and full of light,” McBride said. “Being able

to lead such an excellent group of adults and students is truly a dream.

My job is to support our teachers and staff, remove obstacles for them to do their best work and help create a positive learning environment for our students.”

McBride earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Montevallo.

She and her husband, Sean, have raised their four children in Homewood.

“The city of Homewood is truly a unique place to live, work, and raise a family,” she said. “I love that we still have a homecoming parade and a Christmas parade through the middle of town each year. I am impressed with the level of support that our stores and businesses give to our school system, and I am awed at the way our community will come together to help any family in need. I appreciate all the people who work in our school district and commit so much time and effort to making our schools places of safety, excellence and support.”

McBride said her own middle

school experience was something she recalls fondly, where she was able to participate in pep rallies, take elective classes for the first time and cheer on the players at football and basketball games, while having a bit more freedom at school.

“Middle school is such an exciting and important time of life,” McBride said. “I had a very positive middle school experience, and I want all of our students at HMS to enjoy their middle school years as well.”

Having the ability to positively impact students at critical points in their lives has been a favorite part of McBride’s time in education.

“Whether it is helping them navigate the awkward years of middle school adolescence or guiding them through their senior year of high school as they prepare for the next phase of life, I enjoy encouraging and assisting them to be their best selves,” McBride said. “In our community, I have had the privilege of working with many siblings from the same families, and now I even get to work with the children of students that I taught at the beginning of my career. We also have many teachers in our district who I was fortunate to teach when they were in school, and

it speaks volumes that they enjoyed their educational experience so much that they now want to come back and invest in students the way that their teacher invested in them.”

Mindy and Sean McBride have both coached soccer at Homewood High School and at Homewood Soccer Club for many years.

Soccer was where the two met, when she was the girls varsity coach at Homewood High and they were looking for someone to take over the boys soccer program.

“I made some calls to various colleges, and coach Preston Goldfarb at Birmingham Southern College told me that he had a fantastic player who was then an assistant coach at BSC, and was ready to start teaching and coaching at the high school level. I met Sean when he was hired at HHS to teach social studies and coach soccer, and the rest is history,” Mindy

McBride said.

As she looks to the new things she will experience as Homewood Middle principal, McBride is eager to continue the momentum of preparing students to leave Homewood Middle academically prepared for the next level, while also being confident in their ability to conquer any situation that arises.

“I will also continue the outstanding academic rigor and high expectations that are already in place at HMS,” she said. “We do a great job of providing a balance of challenge and support for our students while also emphasizing the importance of character development and community involvement. I want to help our students gain independence and confidence during their middle school years.”

McBride will officially begin her role July 1.

6 • June 2024 The Homewood Star
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Deborah Sema, DMD, MS Mindy McBride, the new Homewood Middle School principal. Photo courtesy of Homewood City Schools.

Homewood High welcomes new athletic director, basketball coach

Homewood High School has new leadership at the top and also will have a new head boys basketball coach.

The Homewood Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment of Rick Baguley as the high school’s new athletic director during its regular monthly meeting on April 23.

Then on May 21, Homewood welcomed Elijah Garrison as the new boys varsity head basketball coach.

Baguley, an alumnus of Homewood High School, will begin his tenure as athletic director on June 1, taking over for Doug Gann, who retired May 31. Baguley has served at Homewood High School for more than 20 years as a teacher, coach and assistant athletic director.

During his career, Baguley has served as assistant boys varsity basketball coach, boys junior varsity head basketball coach, head boys golf coach, head boys and girls track coach and assistant football coach. He guided the Patriots to the boys basketball state championship in 2016, as well as runner-up titles for the boys track team and boys golf teams.

“I have always been proud to be from Homewood,” Baguley said. “As a Homewood alumnus and former athlete, it is a true honor to work with our coaches, students and community. I am so excited to serve our community in a new capacity.

“I look forward to collaborating with our athletic department,” he said, “to continue developing, challenging and maximizing the talents of our student-athletes on the field, court, classrooms and, ultimately, in life.”

“His passion for sports, education and community engagement will be the driving force behind his efforts to empower our student-athletes to excel both on and off the field,” Homewood High Principal Joel Henneke said. Garrison is taking over for the retiring Tim

Shepler, but he’s no stranger to Homewood, either. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant to Shepler. His experiences as a former collegiate player at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, as a collegiate assistant coach, a high school coach and as the executive director of the Alabama Basketball Coaches Association made him an attractive choice for Homewood.

As a student-athlete at UAH, Garrison was part of a men’s basketball team that won 91 games, won conference championships and

made three appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament. He then served on the coaching staff at UAH before taking an assistant coach role at Arab High School. He also served as the head coach at New Hope High School.

“Coach Garrison brings tremendous energy to the court and possesses exceptional vision and expertise in basketball, which will be instrumental in the continued success of the boys’ basketball program,” said Homewood High School Principal Joel Henneke.

Garrison heaped praise on his predecessor, Shepler.

“All the honor in the world needs to go to Coach Shep for hiring me two years ago and showing me the ropes,” Garrison said. “From the moment I walked in his office, he’s been more than willing to sit down and answer every question I’ve ever had.

“I was able to learn a lot the last two years and I’m very excited to be the voice that’s heard now.”

TheHomewoodStar.com June 2024 • 7
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Left: Rick Baguley, the new Homewood High School athletic director. Right: Elijah Garrison, the new boys varsity head basketball coach. Photos courtesy of Homewood City Schools.


Business Happenings


Dylan Scroggins launched the Kalmar Group recruitment firm in January. Based at 1823 27th Ave. S., the firm primarily places senior-level leadership roles in privately held companies, in addition to building out sales teams. The Kalmar Group works across all industries and around the nation.

205-948-7303, thekalmargroup.com

Southern Immediate Care has recently opened their newest location at 1944 28th Ave. S. in downtown Homewood. The clinic offers comprehensive primary care, urgent care and more. Patients can be seen weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on the weekend from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. 205-409-2794, southernimmediatecare.com

Tina's Market, previously known as Teenie's TakeHome Market in Mountain Brook, has opened at 3027 Central Ave. in Homewood. The market is a place for shoppers to stop in for a take-home meal or grab treats, baked goods and other local vendor items. Tina's Market hours are Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. tinasmarketbham.com

Aphros Beauty Day Spa is now open at 2045 Brookwood Medical Center Drive #24. The business specializes in permanent makeup, massages, body polishing,

body wraps, waxing, facials and more. Aphros is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 205-377-6511, aphrosbeauty.com


The Homewood Police Foundation celebrated National Police Week in May with Chief Tim Ross and Homewood police officers. The HPF is grateful for their dedication to public safety. J.J. and Whitney Thomas donated lunch from Slice Pizza in Homewood for the hard-working officers. facebook.com/HomewoodPoliceFoundation


The Shades Valley YMCA, 3551 Montgomery Highway, is pleased to announce the hiring of Scott Monnett as executive director. 205-870-9622, ymcabham.org/locations/ shades-valley


Mantooth Interiors, 2813 18th St. S., has been in the interior design and home furnishing business since 1973. Led by Lynette and Josh Mantooth, a mother-and-son duo, the business is celebrating 51 years. Customers can find furniture, beds, luxury linens, pillows and other items to complement their dream home. The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 205-879-5474, mantoothinteriors.com

Shaia's of Homewood, 2818 18th St. S., has been in the men's fine clothing business for 102 years. Customers can stop by Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6

p.m. or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-871-1312, shaias.com

Renew Dermatology is celebrating one year at 1651 Independence Court #211 in Homewood. The clinic offers medical and cosmetic dermatology, Emsella treatments, aesthetician services and skincare products. Renew is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 205-580-1500, renewdermatology.net

The Happy Catering Co. is celebrating 32 years in business. The family-run company, located at 225 Oxmoor Circle #803, employs more than 50 people and serves the area seven days a week. They cater a wide variety of events including functions for corporate and nonprofit organizations and civic groups, as well as weddings. 205-251-8925, happycatering.net

The Birmingham Boys Choir celebrates 51 years in various locations around Birmingham. The nonprofit was formed to allow boys in the greater Birmingham area to learn music reading literacy, vocal skills and more. 205-767-9219, birminghamboyschoir.org

Business News to Share?

Do you have news to share with the community about a business in Homewood or the greater Birmingham area? Let us know at starnesmedia.com/ business-happenings

8 • June 2024 The Homewood Star
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10 • June 2024 The Homewood Star Real Estate By the numbers: April 2023 vs. 2024 Note: Real estate data is by zip code, but some parts of these zip codes are outside the city limits. Data provided by the Greater Alabama Multiple Listing Service on May 7, 2024 Air Conditioning, Heating & Generator Experts Locally Owned & Operated in HOMEWOOD Don’t worry we guarantee all our work! • A 100-percent total satisfaction guarantee • 24-hour catastrophic emergency service • We train our own technicians and never hire subcontractors • All work completed by certified, licensed and trained professionals 205-944-1166 totalcomfortal.com 1807 Oxford Road Homewood, AL

Recently sold homes in Homewood

► ADDRESS: 200 S. Wood Road

► BED/BATH: 4/2


► NEIGHBORHOOD: West Homewood

► LIST PRICE: $489,000

► SALE PRICE: $540,000

► ADDRESS: 1202 Woodland Village #1202

► BED/BATH: 2/2

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,066 sq. ft.

► ADDRESS: 207 Bonita Drive

► BED/BATH: 3/2

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,376 sq. ft.


► LIST PRICE: $750,000

► SALE PRICE: $760,000

► ADDRESS: 103 Morris Blvd.

► BED/BATH: 5/5

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,706 sq. ft.


► LIST PRICE: $1,450,000

► SALE PRICE: $1,452,000

► ADDRESS: 506 Hampton Drive

► BED/BATH: 3/3

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,132 sq. ft.


► LIST PRICE: $750,000

► SALE PRICE: $675,000

► ADDRESS: 106 Havenwood Court

► BED/BATH: 3/3

► SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,000 sq. ft.


► LIST PRICE: $539,000

► SALE PRICE: $470,000


TheHomewoodStar.com June 2024 • 11 Your Homewood Team is ready to meet all your banking needs. (L to R): Steve Smith
President & CEO Kelly Catron
SVP Retail Manager Connor Dobbins
Client Service Specialist Shanelle Johnson
Branch Manager Madison Simmons
Client Service Specialist Wilson Holifield
EVP & COO 1720 28th Avenue South, Homewood, AL | www.southpoint.bank GARDENDALE | GRANDVIEW | HOMEWOOD | LIBERTY PARK | TRUSSVILLE | WILSONVILLE
NEIGHBORHOOD: Woodland Village
LIST PRICE: $178,500
► SALE PRICE: $175,000

Summer fun in Homewood

As the days get longer, there’s more time to pack in all the fun Homewood has to offer. Check out something new this summer in the city you call home.


If you haven’t picked up a pickleball paddle yet but have been wanting to, now is a great time — Homewood’s supply of courts is constantly growing.

Homewood Community Center (1632 West Oxmoor Road), Lee Community Center (1828 25th Court South), Dawson Memorial Baptist Church (1114 Oxmoor Road) and Magic City Pickleball Club (1651 Independence Court) all have indoor courts, but a membership is required to play.

If you want to go slightly outside Homewood for free courts, City Walk BHAM has 10 courts (eight near The Barkery and Bier Garten and two near the food truck plaza) open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Before you get your paddles out for the first time, check out this rules tutorial to get started: usapickleball.org/what-is-pickleball/ official-rules/rules-summary. The rules may seem complicated, but once you get going, it doesn’t take long to catch on.


Kick back and enjoy a movie this summer at Birmingham Premiere LUX Cine GSX & Pizza Pub (501 Lakeshore Parkway), which offers a luxury experience with recliner-style seats. Check showtimes at pccmovies.com/ movie-theater/birmingham.


Across Homewood, there are neighborhood pools and other places to get in the water. Two options are Homewood Central Pool (1632 Oxmoor Road) and the Pool @ Patriot Park (710 Oak Grove Road), which also offers a splash pad. Both of these pools require a membership. For more information and opening hours, visit homewoodparks.com/pools.


A membership to Shades Valley YMCA (3551 Montgomery Hwy) gets you pool access too, but it also offers a variety of other

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programs and ways to get fit this summer. Consider trying one of these or another gym near you — Homewood is full of different individual and group workouts, from boot camp-style classes to yoga, Pilates, kickboxing and more.


Even if you’re not checking out the pools, there are still plenty of things to do at Homewood’s parks.

At Central Park, a brand-new playground features a ninja course, swing sets, a gaga pit and ADA-compliant play structures for all ages. The park also features tennis courts, paved walking paths and pavilions. Patriot

Park offers a walking path and a playground. Summer is also a great time to check out neighborhood parks you might never have visited, like Overton Park (1920 Mayfair Drive), Woodland Park (429 Woodland Drive) and Spring Park (2525 Central Ave.).

At all of Homewood’s parks, you could set up a Spikeball set with some friends or bring your whole family for a picnic. For more information, visit homewoodparks.com.


There are all sorts of surprising summer activities happening at Homewood Public Library. Check their calendar this summer for

Events 12 • June 2024 The Homewood Star
Roof Repair | Roof Replacement | Gutters
“Your Roof Is Our Roof”
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Left: A child slides into the water at the splash pad. Staff photo. Right: Mollie McFarland reads to her daughter at the Homewood Public Library. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

daily events ranging from Pokémon trading parties to senior chair yoga. On June 15 there’s a Father’s Day build-a-bug-hotel event, and June 25 has a self-care spa day. On July 14 there’s a stuffed animal “sleepover,” and there will be summer reading finales for teens and kids near the end of the month. Visit homewoodlibrary.org for more details.


Spend a night checking out West Homewood Farmer's Market, held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays during June, July and the first Tuesday of August. The market sets up at 160 Oxmoor Road and features food trucks, local farmers, music and arts and crafts vendors. Learn more at westhomewood.com.


Just outside Homewood, Birmingham Boulders offers indoor climbing for the day ($19 for adults; $16 for students, military or EMS; and $14 for children) or through individual or family memberships. Visit bhamboulders.com for more details.


Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner, you can get out on the course for some sun this summer. Just outside Homewood, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge — which has been called one of the top golf resorts in North America — offers golfing to the public. For more information, visit rtjgolf.com/rossbridge.


Shades Creek Greenway is better than it’s ever been, now that the new extension is open. The paved trail now stretches from the Wildwood area along Lakeshore Drive all the way to connect with Mountain Brook’s Jemison Trail, which also has recently renovated trails. Get out your walking shoes, bikes and skates and jump on the trail this summer at the eastern trailhead (near Brookwood Village, across from Target), the western trailhead (1248 Oak Grove Road) or just off Columbiana Road near Homewood Soccer Park.


If you’re not into the outdoors, a paint party might be right up your alley. Local artist Thomas Andrew offers paint parties for adults at his studio (1925 29th Ave. S.) that begin with a blank canvas and end up a masterpiece. Visit thomasandrewartstudiogallery.com for more information or to book a party.

You can also paint pottery at Do It Yourself Crafts! (1909 Oxmoor Road) or try a class to throw your own pottery. To learn more, visit doityourselfcrafts.com.


Whether you’ve never tried an escape room before or you’re an escape room veteran, there are multiple new experiences for your group to choose from at Breakout Games (2717 19th Place S.). One of their most popular rooms, The Kidnapping — which leaves you to escape from handcuffs — now has a sequel, for those who feel daring. Breakout also ensures that customers never have to play the game with anyone outside their group. For

more information, check out breakoutgames. com/birmingham.


Urban Air Adventure Park (800 Green Springs Highway) offers trampolines and a whole lot more. There’s an indoor go-kart track, a tube playground, a warrior course, a slam dunk zone and many other things for your family to try this summer. Hours vary, so check urbanair.com/ alabama-homewood for details.


Vulcan may not be in Homewood technically, but he’s visible from a lot of the city. If you or your family haven’t been to Vulcan Park & Museum yet or haven’t been lately, this summer is a great time to spend some at the area’s beloved statue. And don’t miss Thunder on the Mountain, the annual July 4 fireworks display visible from all over Homewood. Check out visitvulcan.com to find out all you need to know about visiting.

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Left: Children play on the new playground equipment at Homewood Central Park. Right: A jogger runs along the path on the Shades Creek Greenway trail. Photos by Erin Nelson.

Homewood events guide

Tuesdays: West Homewood Farmer’s Market. 5-8 p.m. 160 Oxmoor Road. Come out on Tuesday evenings to enjoy family fun, live music, food trucks and the freshest produce around. You can find locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, meats, baked goods and arts and crafts. The market will run through Aug. 6. For more information, go to westhomewood.com.

June 3-14: Once Upon a Fairytale Dance Camp. Weekdays, 9 a.m. to noon. The Dance Foundation, 1715 27th Court S. Campers can explore fairy tales such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cinderella” through dance, arts and crafts, music and storytelling. There will be a tea party on the last day. Camps are led by professionally trained teaching artists from the studio. $175 per child.

June 3-28: Homewood Parks and Rec Summer Day Camp. Weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Homewood Community Center and Homewood Central Park, 1632 Oxmoor Road. Homewood residents only. For rising first through sixth graders. Campers will participate in traditional and non-traditional sports, fun games, swimming, field trips, arts and crafts projects and more. Trained staff will supervise participants while emphasizing the importance of teamwork, good sportsmanship and cooperation through games, sports and group activities. $275 per camper, with a $100 registration fee. Visit homewoodparks.com/camps.

June 10-14: “Scuba” VBS. 9 a.m. to noon. Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Parish, 1728 Oxmoor Road. Ages 4 years to rising fourth grade. $30 for one child, or $50 for multiple children. Go to ourladyofsorrows. com/2024-vacation-bible-school for more information.

June 15: I’m With Mike 5K. 8 a.m. The Battery, 2821 Central Ave., Suite 101. A 5K fundraiser for the Mike Slive Foundation, which was founded to help fund the battle against prostate cancer. Race participants can join in person or virtually. There will also be a Kids’ Dash. Registration is $40, and each participant will receive a T-shirt. mikeslivefoundation.org/im-with-mike-5k.

June 18: Homewood Chamber Membership Luncheon. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Valley Hotel, 2727 18th St. S. Join other members of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce for the monthly membership luncheon. To register, visit business.homewoodchamber. org/events/details/june-membership-luncheon-1994.

June 23-26: VBS at All Saints Episcopal Church. Sunday,


6:30-8 p.m., and Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to noon. All Saints Episcopal Church, 110 West Hawthorne Road. Ages 4 years to rising sixth grade. Visit allsaintsbhm.org/ vacation-bible-schoolc8edde9c.

June 28: Miranda James. 5 p.m. The Alabama Booksmith, 2626 19th Place S. Come meet best-selling author Miranda James (the pen name of author Dean James) as he signs copies of his book “Requiem for a Mouse.” Signed first editions will be available for purchase. alabamabooksmith.com/events/ miranda-james-requiem-mouse.

Homewood Library


All month: Kids Summer Reading 2024 — Adventure Begins in Your Library. Ages 12 and younger. Drop by the Homewood Public Library’s Children’s Department or visit homewoodpubliclibrary.org/sr to sign up. Participants can pick up a goodie bag and a free book. Earn an entry for monthly drawings, and several winners will be picked on July 1 and Aug. 5.

Wednesdays: Summer Storytime. 10:30-11 a.m. Round Auditorium. Preschool ages.

June 3: Cahaba Critters with the Cahaba River Society. 3:30-4:15 p.m. Large Auditorium. All ages.

June 3: Comic Creators. 4-6 p.m. Room 102, Lower Level. Grades 4-12.

June 4: Adventures in Weather with James Spann. 10-10:45 a.m. Large Auditorium. All ages.

June 5: Teen Crochet Circle. 3-5 p.m. Room 102, Lower Level.


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Grades 4-12. Supplies provided or bring your own project.

June 10: Storytime with Vulcan. 10:30-11 a.m. Round Auditorium. Preschool to 1st grade.

June 11: Whizzpop’s Amazing Adventures. 9:30-10 a.m. and 11-11:30 a.m. Large Auditorium. All ages.

June 14 and 28: Teen Art Boot Camp. 3-4:30 p.m. Room 109, Lower Level. Grades 4-12. Join Kane Bourgeois in this bi-weekly art boot camp over the summer. Supplies are provided.

June 17: Science Show at West Homewood! 3:30-4 p.m. West Homewood Senior Center. All ages.

June 18: Mr. Damon’s Shadow Puppet Theater. 9:30-10 a.m. and 11-11:30 a.m. Large Auditorium. All ages.

June 18: Southern Museum of Flight Presents — The Science of Flight. 2-2:45 p.m. Southern Museum of Flight. All ages.

June 24: Cave Exploration with Majestic Caverns. 3:30-4:15 p.m. Large Auditorium. Grades 2-5.

June 25: Adventures in Science with The Science Lady. 9:30-10 a.m. and 11-11:30 a.m. Large Auditorium. All ages.

June 26: Water Experiments with Cahaba Riverkeeper. 3:30-4:15 p.m. Round Auditorium. Grades 3-5.


Tuesdays: Game Design Basics. 2-3 p.m. Zoom.

June 2 and 16: Teen Dungeons & Dragons. 3-5 p.m. Room 102, Lower Level. All levels welcome.

June 3: Comic Creators. 4-6 p.m. Room 102, Lower Level. Grades 4-12.

June 4: College Application Workshop. 6-7 p.m. Large Auditorium. Teens and families of teens are welcome to participate.

14 • June 2024 The Homewood Star
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June 5: Teen Crochet Circle. 3-5 p.m. Room 102. Lower Level. Grades 4-12.

June 6 and 20: Teen Theatre Thursdays. 4-5 p.m. Round Auditorium.

June 6: Teen Advisory Board (TAB). 6-7 p.m. Room 109, Lower Level.

June 7: Bike Maintenance for Teens. 2-4 p.m. Large Auditorium.

June 9: Yoga for Teens. 3-4 p.m. Round Auditorium.

June 10 and 24: Teen Ani-Marathon 2024. 4-6 p.m. Room 102, Lower Level.

June 12 and 26: Magic: the Gathering for Teens. 3:305:30 p.m. Room 102, Lower Level.

June 14 and 28: Teen Art Boot Camp. 3-4:30 p.m. Room 109, Lower Level. Grades 4-12. Supplies will be provided.

June 15: Culture Club — Djembe Drums with Yogi Dada. 1-3 p.m. Large Auditorium.

June 17: Culture Club — Japan. 2-3 p.m. Room 109, Lower Level. Learn about Japanese culture.

June 20: Culture Club — Germany. 2-3 p.m. Room 110, Lower Level. Learn about Germany.

June 21: Teen Nature Clean-Up. 9-11 a.m. Meeting at the library front entrance. Wear something comfortable for walking; we’ll bring the water, bags and gloves.

June 22: Fantasy Coffee and Canvas. 2-4 p.m. Room 109, Lower Level.

June 23 and 30: Knight Shift — Medieval Evil Science. 3-4 p.m. Room 109, Lower Level.

June 27: Global Engagement for Community College Students. 4-5 p.m. Room 101, Lower Level. Learn about how you can get involved in working or studying abroad during college.


All month: Summer Reading 2024 — Adventure

Begins at Your Library. Ages 18 and older. For every three books or audiobooks you check out in-person or online, you earn a chance to enter the weekly drawing for a gift bag. The more entries you have, the more chances to win! Entries will be kept throughout the summer, so each one will have a chance to win the grand prize drawing on Aug. 5. Sign up online.

Mondays: Virtual Library Yoga with Jackie Tally. 2-3 p.m. Meet on Zoom.

Thursdays: Game Night at the Library. 6-8:30 p.m. Room 101, Lower Level.

June 1: Adult Crafting With September Reed — Flower Crowns. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Room 109, Lower Level. This class is free, but there is limited seating.

June 4: Not Your Mama's Book Club — Tarot Reading with Kelli Davis. 2-3 p.m. Library Boardroom. Professional tarot reader shares tips and educate you on tarot reading.

June 5: Introduction to PowerPoint 2016. 2:30-4 p.m.

Computer Training Lab and Zoom. Learn to create presentations with PowerPoint functions. Register online.

June 5: Staff Movie Picks — “Victor Victoria.” 3-6 p.m. Large Auditorium. This movie is rated PG.

June 6: Read It & Eat Book Club — The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading. 6:30-8 p.m. Urban Cookhouse, 1920 29th Ave. S.

June 7: Stories of the South — The Cahaba River. 1-2 p.m. Round Auditorium. Representatives from Cahaba Riverkeeper discuss the Cahaba River and the history and elements that make it special.

June 11: Stories of the South — Historic Oak Hill Cemetery. 11 a.m. to noon. Round Auditorium. Learn about the history of Homewood through the city’s oldest cemetery.

June 11: Oxmoor Page Turners Book Club — “Demon Copperhead.” 6:30-8 p.m. Library Boardroom. Join us for Barbara Kingsolver’s latest, “Demon Copperhead.”

June 12: West Homewood Read, Watch & Review — Weddings. 1-2 p.m. Homewood Senior Center.

June 12: Google Slides. 2:30-4 p.m. Computer Training Lab and

Zoom. Learn how to use Google Slides to create presentations. Register online.

June 13: Edward Jones Charitable Gift Fund. 6-7 p.m. Room 102, Lower Level. Learn about donor-advised funds (DAFs), and the role of a financial legacy in their overall investing strategy.

June 14: Niki Sepsas Presents — Stopping to Smell the Flowers. 2-3 p.m. Round Auditorium.

June 17: West Homewood Niki Sepsas Presents — Madeira, The “Isles of the Blest.” 3-4 p.m. Homewood Senior Center.

June 18: The ABCs of Medicare. Noon to 1 p.m. Room 116, Lower Level.

June 18: Seasonal Stories with Sid Burgess. 1-2 p.m. Round Auditorium. Sid Burgess and Julie Stewart present story time for adults.

June 18: Forever YA Book Club — “Legendborn” by Tracy Deonn. 6-7 p.m. Room 108, Lower Level.

June 20: Painting Large with September Reed. 6:30-8 p.m. Room 109, Lower Level.

June 21: Big Ideas Book Club — “How to Know a Person” by David Brooks. Noon to 1 p.m. Library Boardroom. A monthly luncheon book club for professional growth.

June 24: Dixie’s Pet Loss Support Group. 6-7 p.m. Room 106, Lower Level. Sponsored by the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. Free. For reservations, contact Jenni Smith at 205-903-0958.

June 25: Stories of the South — Historic Birmingham City Symbol, Vulcan. 11 a.m. to noon. Round Auditorium.

June 26: Better Than Therapy Book Club — “The People We Keep.” 2-3:30 p.m. Library Boardroom.

June 26: Internet Safety. 2:30-4 p.m. Computer Training Lab and Zoom.

June 26: Staff Movie Picks — “The Craft.” 3-6 p.m. Large Auditorium.

June 27: Stories of the South — Historic Birmingham Buildings. 6:30-8 p.m. Large Auditorium.

TheHomewoodStar.com June 2024 • 15

Gone Fishin’ event hooks students

What better way to close out the school year than an officially observed opportunity to play “hooky”?

More than 200 children with disabilities and their parents and teachers from Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills city schools enjoyed a special field trip on May 15. The annual Gone Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’ event enabled students to experience the joys of fishing and other fun activities such as inflatables, arts and crafts, face painting and lunch at Oak Mountain State Park.

This year marked the fourth year of participation for students from Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia, but the event itself is a tradition dating back almost 30 years, which covers multiple days and is open to students from Jefferson and Shelby County Schools.

“The big part of the day is teaching these kids and their parents — families are welcome — to come be a part of a lifetime recreational activity, something they can share as a family,” said Debbie Bailey, the event coordinator.

Even if students didn’t succeed in landing a fish, they did walk away with a free T-shirt and some good memories.

The event was supported by a group of approximately 60 volunteers, including students from the UAB Physical Therapy program, PNC, Cadence and Regions banks and the Homewood, Mountain Brook, Pelham and Vestavia fire departments.

16 • June 2024 The Homewood Star
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Above: Jonathan Vickery holds a catfish that was caught by Levi Killian, a kindergartner at Shades Cahaba Elementary,
Killian touches the fish, accompanied by special education aide Allie Harrington during the Fishin’, Not Just Wishin’ event.
The event
Oak Mountain State Park for special education students in Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and Homewood city school systems on
ONLINE ► For more photos, view our online gallery at thehomewood star.com
Below left: Jonathan Vickery fishes with a student. Below right: Carter Jones, a first grader at Edgewood Elementary, holds the fishing line with a catfish he caught. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.
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Patriots capture state soccer title

From the moment the opening whistle blew at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park on May 11, the result of the Class 6A boys soccer championship was never up in the air.

In a game they led from the opening minutes, Homewood’s Patriots defeated Spanish Fort 3-1 to put the finishing touches on an impressive playoff run. The title is the program’s first since 2021 and seventh all-time.

“I’m so proud of the grid, the determination, the work all year long,” said Patriots head coach Julian Kersh. “We fell short in the semifinals last year, so we knew we had a job to do. They came out and delivered.”

Wake Forest commit Will Jackson wasted no time setting the tone, dribbling through the defense and scoring a goal less than two minutes into the game. Later that half, Jackson rifled home a penalty kick to double his team’s lead. Homewood would enter the break ahead 2-0, an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.

“We came up with a mentality where there was no other option than winning,” said Jackson, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “I’ve been on this team for three years, and this was the year that I felt like we would do it. We were focused. We were prepared properly. And we got the result we deserved.”

The Patriots continued to manufacture clean shots throughout the second half. With 20 minutes remaining, midfielder Drew Giardina fired a pass to a sliding Charlie Herring, who staked Homewood to a 3-0 lead. Spanish Fort’s Dylan Gaynor scored a late goal to give the Toros hope, but it was too little, too late.

“[We were focused] on not making stupid mistakes [in the second half],” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, we gave away a goal, but we made the decision to keep going, give each other our all and work for each other, which led us to the finish line.”

Homewood controlled possession for most of the game, outshooting Spanish Fort 16-8. Junior

goalkeeper Jacob Hill made four saves and finished the playoffs having allowed just two goals.

The Patriots, who suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 semifinal loss to Fort Payne in 2023, made their comeback against the Wildcats on May 9. Goals from Jackson and midfielder Charley Chewning helped Homewood secure their spot

in the state final.

“We had a mission to complete. Fort Payne was brilliant last year and we knew they were going to test us again this year,” Kersh said.

“Semi-finals are always ugly, gritty games, and they really tested us,” he added. “We knew if we beat them, we could get one hand on the

blue map, and now we have two on it.”

The 2024 Patriots join the 2021, 2018, 2014, 2006, 2005 and 2003 Homewood teams as state champions.

“[Before we left], I walked them by all the championships we have on the wall, and I went ahead and put a 2024 up there for them,” said Kersh. “I said, ‘Boys, I’m not counting this one in the bag, but I’m putting the ‘24 up there so you can see your legacy. [You’ll be remembered] every year when students walk by, even when you’re long-graduated.’”

Homewood finishes the season with a 23-2-3 record.

Patriots, Cavs show out at state outdoor meet

The Homewood and John Carroll Catholic high school outdoor track and field teams put forth solid showings at the state meet, which was held in Gulf Shores on May 2-4.

Homewood’s boys finished third in Class 6A, scoring 48.25 points in the event. Northridge won the title with 62.5 points and UMS-Wright notched 57.75 points to finish second. Cullman and Blount rounded out the top five.

Homewood’s girls finished up in fifth, scoring 45 points. Mountain Brook dominated the meet with 114 points. Fort Payne was second, followed by Northridge and St. Paul’s.

The John Carroll boys grabbed the runner-up spot in 5A, scoring 71 points to easily take second place. Scottsboro was far and away the top team, scoring 141 points. John Carroll’s girls placed sixth.

The Homewood boys earned multiple second-place finishes. Colvin Bussey was second in the 800-meter run and Elliott Allen took the second spot in pole vault.

Davis Griffin reached the podium by finishing third in javelin, as did the 4x800-meter relay team.

Bussey placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles and in the 400. Muhammad Camara was seventh in the 400 and 10th in triple jump, Isaiah Davis finished ninth in the 800 and Henry Studinka placed 10th in the javelin throw. Tomon Felton was sixth and John Esslinger was seventh in long jump, and Clayton Coltrin was seventh and Collins Cobb was eighth in pole vault. The 4x400 team also finished sixth.

Slate Rohrer, Foster Laird, John Martin, Hayden Thomason and Matthew Floyd contributed to the boys team as well.

Left: Homewood’s RJ Teter competes in the boys 3,200-meter run during the Mountain Brook Invitational at Spartan Stadium on April 12. Middle: Homewood’s Emma Brook Levering competes in the girls 3,200-meter run. Right: John Carroll’s Arthur Langley competes in the boys 3,200-meter run. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Emma Brooke Levering led the way for the Homewood girls, as she won both the 1,600 and 3,200 races. She ran the 1,600 in 4:59 and won the 3,200 with a time of 10:57. She also crossed the line fourth in the 800.

The 4x800 relay team earned a spot on the podium as well by placing third. The 4x400 team was solid with a fourth-place finish.

Eloise Delk was fifth in the pole vault event, while Madeline Alford earned a sixth-place finish in the 300 hurdles. Caroline Wilder finished eighth in the 800 and 10th in the 1,600.

Chloe Warren placed eighth in shot put.

Bailey Zinn also earned a top-10 finish with a 10th-place showing in the 1,600. Keely Chadha was 10th in the pole vault.

Ada McElroy, Marin McWilliams, Layla Essalah, Ma’eva Fortson, Hannah Grace Longoria and Catherine Lard also contributed to the team effort.

John Carroll’s boys had a terrific showing at the state meet. Arthur Langley won multiple events, winning the 1,600 in 4:18 and the 3,200 in 9:24. Aden Malpass took the title in the 300 hurdles, running it in 38.9 seconds.

The Cavs earned a pair of trophies in the relays as well, winning the 4x400 in 3:25 and claiming top honor in the 4x800 in 8:14.

Ryan Redmond reached the podium with a third-place showing in the javelin competition.

Sebastian Guerrero was fifth in the 400, Langley finished seventh in the 800 and Anthony

Mokry was eighth in the discus throw to also earn points.

Jaylin Shepherd, Eli McMillan, Caleb Wyatt and Sawyer Bray also competed for the team.

John Carroll’s girls earned a title in the 4x400 relay, winning that race in 4:02. The 4x800 team got to the podium with a thirdplace finish.

Katie Marie Everett finished fourth in the pole vault competition, Jaleah Rucker was fifth in the 400, and Lacy Jackson posted a finish of sixth in the 200.

Kaitlin Gilchrist also earned a point by finishing eighth in the long jump.

Lydia Hamilton, Claire Humphrey and Zuzu Dillard also contributed to the team.

18 • June 2024 The Homewood Star
Above: Homewood’s Will Jackson (8) takes the ball to the goal to score for the Patriots during the Class 6A boys championship game against Spanish Fort at John Hunt Park in Huntsville on May 11. Left: Homewood celebrates their Class 6A championship win. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

Tim Shepler retires following 29 years leading Patriots

Tim Shepler doesn’t feel like he’s going to be slowing down any time soon. But he is stepping away from a position he has held for many years.

Shepler announced on May 1 that he is retiring from coaching, following 29 years as the boys basketball coach at Homewood High School.

“I looked at the whole picture, and I think there’s a right time,” Shepler said.

Shepler’s career accomplishments are many. He has spent the last 29 years at Homewood in a head coaching career that also included five years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Shepler has 662 career wins to his name and led Homewood to the 2016 Class 6A state championship. The Patriots were the state runner-up in 2008 and 2010 as well. Under his leadership, the Patriots also won 13 area titles and sent 28 players to the college ranks.

“It means you plowed away for a long time,” said Shepler, when asked about his accomplishments.

Shepler said one of his recent Bible studies gave him much of the clarity he needed regarding his decision. He said the message revolved around focusing on God’s timing as opposed to anything else.

Out of all his team’s on-court accomplishments, Shepler does not dwell on the wins and trophies. Those are fun — he pointed to the comeback win over Parker in the area tournament last season as one of his favorite moments — but they have never been the part of coaching he enjoys most.

“I enjoyed being with the kids out on the court,” he said. “Getting into practice, getting into a good drill and having kids work and play hard and seeing them go on. Watching kids really develop; they come in as freshmen, they come in as boys and go out as young men. Those are rewarding moments.”

Shepler said one of the keys to the program’s success in the last couple years has been

assistant Elijah Garrison, who figures to earn consideration for the head coaching position. He came to Homewood two years ago after serving as the head coach at New Hope.

“Eli is ready,” Shepler said. “He will be a great head coach, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

Shepler is leaving at a time when he surely could have piled up more wins, as the 2023-24 Homewood team was one of the best in recent memory. The Patriots posted a 24-9 record and

advanced to the regional final for the first time since 2016.

“I think we’re going to be pretty dang good next year,” he said. He plans to stay at Homewood and teach for at least another year. Beyond that, he doesn’t know what the future holds.

“I really haven’t thought about it, other than the fact I’m not going to sit on a rocking chair,” Shepler said. “I want to play more golf, but I want to stay active and find something else to

do. Hopefully, I’ll be where the Lord wants me.” Shepler is a rare case in today’s world of high school athletics, staying at Homewood for 29 years. He admits he didn’t originally plan on spending so long in Homewood and eventually raising his children in town, but he never had a reason to leave.

“Why would I ever want to leave here, even for a few more dollars? Because this place has a great quality of life. It’s a great place to be,” he said.

TheHomewoodStar.com June 2024 • 19
Homewood head coach Tim Shepler talks with the Patriots in the second half of the boys Class 6A Northeast Regional semifinal on Feb. 16.
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The Patriots defeated Huffman 60-47 to advance to the Northeast Regional final for the first time since 2016. Photo by Erin Nelson Sweeney.

get awayFOR A DAY

Spend a day with American patriots in the 18th century

Enjoy red, white and blue all-American family fun this summer at the American Village. The “Hidden Heroes: Revolutionary Spy Adventure” offers something for patriots of all ages. Learn to become a spy, outsmart the redcoat forces and join the Continental Army. Read the Village Gazette upon your arrival at the Visitors Center to find out each day’s revolutionary events. Food trucks will be onsite every Saturday.

Starting Friday, May 31, escape the heat at the cinema. The summer film series will run every other Friday evening (May 31, June 14 and 28, July 12 and 26) in the West Wing of Independence Hall theatre. No admission is required, but a donation is suggested. Beer, wine and food trucks will be available on Constitution Green to provide refreshments before the film. Enjoy the American Arts & Crafts Fair on Saturday, June 1. See painters, soap makers, potters, jewelry makers, wood workers and metal workers create and sell their works.

On July 4, join your family, friends and neighbors at the American Village to celebrate Independence Day 1776! Fun, food, fireworks… you’ll find it all, bigger and better than ever. Admission is $5 for adults and free to veterans, active military and children 4 and younger. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the family-friendly fun lasts through

American Village Where: 3727 Alabama 119, Montevallo

Summer hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (June-July) Admission: Adults $11, students and youth (ages 5-17) $10, seniors $9, and free for veterans, active military and children ages 4 and younger Call: 205-665-3535 Web: americanvillage.org

twilight’s last gleaming. For a complete schedule of summer events, visit the American Village online at americanvillage.org.

Summer is the perfect time for families to enjoy the zoo

Summer, with long days and gorgeous weather, is the perfect time for families to enjoy outdoor attractions like the Birmingham Zoo.

Covering 122 acres, the zoo is home to 550 animals of 180 species from six continents, including zebras, orangutans, elephants and a jaguar.

The only Alabama zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the facility draws 500,000 visitors annually.

Visitors can see the Birmingham Zoo’s new baby giraffe, Mopane (pronounced Mo-Paw-Nee). The first giraffe born at the zoo since 2014, Mopane was born in April to mother Ruby and father Jalil, with the help of the zoo’s animal care team.

“We’re overjoyed to welcome this beautiful baby giraffe to our zoo family,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, the zoo’s CEO and President, calling the birth “another step” in the zoo’s work to help conserve giraffes.

There are lots of animal experiences at the zoo, including goat walks and bird feedings, some at the Junior League of Birmingham Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo.

Visitors can also enjoy riding the Red Diamond Express Train and climbing the Full Moon Bar-B-Que Adventure Tower.

The zoo also hosts special summer events:

► June 8: Zoo Brews, with craft breweries and food trucks. 6-9 p.m. Ages 21 and older.

► June 15: Pancakes and Princesses, an enchanted day in a magical court of characters during the Royal Pancakes and Princesses Breakfast. 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For even more fun year-round, become

Birmingham Zoo

Where: 2630 Cahaba Road

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call: 205-879-0409

Web: birminghamzoo.com

a member. Members enjoy unlimited visits as well as discounts on events, camps, classes and more.

Located at 2630 Cahaba Road, the zoo is open Wednesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, including membership packages, go to birminghamzoo.com or call 205-879-0409.

20 • June 2024 The Homewood Star SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Ordinary Days By Lauren Denton

Of mountains and prayers

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that at one point in my life — and for quite a long time — I thought Jesus would return before I had to figure out the middle school years. Not my middle school years, but my kids’.

Even when my girls were babies, I was already thinking about middle school because, honestly, parents are fed so many scary stories of how harrowing those years can be. And as you do when you first have children (or was it just me?), you inhale all the stories people tell you and start to build your armor for the difficulties you imagine will come stampeding toward you.

As Kate and Sela grew up, Matt and I learned right alongside them. My kids, Sela especially, are always amazed to hear that we really had no idea how to be parents until we became them. We’ve just been winging it all these years, praying a whole lot, messing up and trying to fix it, apologizing and starting over, and loving as well as we can.

We figured our way through the middleof-the-night feedings, potty training, trips to the ER with croup and head injuries, the start of preschool and elementary school, first airplane trips and Covid, but parenting a middle schooler felt too big, too monumental and clearly something that Jesus didn’t intend for me to have to figure out.

I remember a conversation several years ago with a friend whose kids were a few years ahead of mine. She was talking about some

issue her oldest was facing in seventh or eighth grade, and I confidently said, “I’m just praying Jesus comes back before we get to middle school.” I thought she’d empathize with me, or at least give me a “who knows, maybe he will” shrug.

Instead she laughed. “Good luck with that,” she said. It wasn’t a knock on Jesus; it was a knock on my naivete, and it knocked the wind out of me a little. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand how prayer worked; I knew that just because you pray for something doesn’t mean you get it. But still, in my heart of hearts, I thought — and yes, prayed — that middle school would be a mountain I wouldn’t have to climb.

schooler? She was — and is — awesome.

Now here we are staring at even more mountains — the start of high school for Kate and the start of middle school for Sela — but I’m no longer praying I can somehow skirt the mountains. Not because I’ve figured everything out or no longer worry, but because I’ve discovered you can face the impossible and somehow get through it. And I’m not just talking about hurdles at school.

foot at a time. Sometimes kicking, occasionally screaming (if only in our own heads), but since the mountains don’t budge, there’s no choice but to scale them.

Then Kate graduated from Edgewood, and there was no way around the mountain. But as we went through orientation, then the start of classes, as we helped her figure out new ways of studying, new interests to explore and new friendships and old, I realized the mountain wasn’t as scary as I’d thought it would be. It was different, for sure, but it wasn’t as threatening once I was close enough to touch it.

There were bumps and twists, but also lots of growth and discovery, laughs and creativity. There were tears and late nights, as well as new joys and triumphs. And our middle

In the interest of full disclosure, there were other things I thought would never happen. When I was in high school, the idea of turning 40 seemed so remote, so impossible, I genuinely never thought it would happen. Jesus would surely return first and I’d never experience “old age.” I also never thought my parents would die. The idea of losing them was so incomprehensible, I thought there was no way it would happen. The thought of all of us reaching heaven together was much easier to swallow. Over the last four years, I’ve settled into my 40s, had one child enter middle school and the second almost there and lost a parent. Impossible, far-fetched, incomprehensible things happen, yet life goes on. We keep stepping up the side of each new mountain one

Kate didn’t talk much about how she felt about middle school as it was approaching, and now that Sela is just a couple months away from starting her own experience, she doesn’t talk about it much either. It may be that they deal with their own feelings of looming mountains in their own, internal ways. I do know that once Christmas passed and we were on the downward slope toward the end of this past school year, Kate repeatedly commented on how fast this year — and middle school in general — seemed to go. And I bet Sela will feel the same way.

Their own mountains may loom large, but I pray that as they take their first step, then another, then another, they’ll discover that they have more grit and strength than they thought. And maybe I’ll learn the same thing.

When I’m not writing about my family and our ordinary life, I write novels, go to the grocery store, and vacuum dog hair. You can find my books in stores, online, and locally at Little Professor Bookshop. You can reach me by email at Lauren@LaurenKDenton.com, visit my website LaurenKDenton.com, or find me on Instagram @LaurenKDentonBooks or Facebook ~LaurenKDentonAuthor.

Opinion TheHomewoodStar.com June 2024 • 21
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“I am really excited about it all,” said Kyle D’Agostino, principal and owner of Poole and Company Architects. “I have lived a stone’s throw from the Econo Lodge, which bred all kinds of negativity. I raised my children in that area, so I have a vested interest in it because this is where I live. It will be nice to have some new things come to the area and sort of breathe new life into it all.”

Poole and Company Architects initially reached out to Village Creek Development about the possibility of redevelopment of the site.

Village Creek Development agreed, and has now begun the task of creating a roughly $32 million mixed-use development, slated to be completed by early 2025.

“This project took a lot of thinking as far as a design standpoint to sort out a unique problem on a unique site,” D’Agostino said. “It was an exciting thing to unravel a solution, and know that we could contribute a positive thing to the overall community. I find that incredibly rewarding as an architect. It has been one of the highlights of my career, honestly. I was also thrilled when Tom Walker with Village Creek was willing to take on the challenge.”

The project is located at 195 Oxmoor Road and will include:

► 48 townhouses for rent.

► Three townhouses for rent (2 bed/2.5 bath).

► 18 loft apartments for rent.

► Two restaurants, which include El Barrio and Paramount.

The townhouses will include main-level kitchens and living rooms, with stone countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

Outdoor gathering spaces, including porches and a dog park, will compliment the townhomes, according to information provided by the city of Homewood.

The location will also provide convenient access to nearby retailers, Hall Kent Elementary School and Patriot Park. The lofts, located above the restaurants, will offer views of the surrounding area.

“The project has progressed very nicely,” said Tom Walker. “We are looking forward to units beginning to be delivered at the end of 2024, and the project being fully opened in early 2025.”

Walker said the project has been a true team effort.

“I always enjoy working as part of a team, and I believe this has been one of my best experiences with that, to date,” Walker said. During the initial phases of the project, the team hosted neighborhood meetings to discuss and receive feedback from residents.

“With the project, it was really good for the people in the community to be involved,” D’Agostino said. “I think some people within the community were rightfully skeptical and had questions. But, I think skepticism is good and people should be able to ask the questions they want to ask. That is very appropriate. We offered many opportunities for anyone and everyone who could say something about it to have the opportunity. I can’t speak for the whole community, but I think a lot of people are ready for this and excited about it.”

Currently, 75 percent of the residential component (townhouses) are vertical, with about 90 percent of the slabs poured.

The commercial portion of the project is having steel frames erected, and things are on track to continue being developed over the next several months.

“Everything is really starting to take shape,” D’Agostino said. “We have had a bit of weather delays with the construction of things, but it is all moving along as it should. It appears as if the contractor, Stone Building Company, has performed at a really high level.”

Walker, who is also a Homewood resident, said he is the most excited about the project being completed and taking his family to the new development.

“It will be great to head to Paramount, grab a burger and watch a game with my wife while our son plays outside on the green space or inside at the arcade,” Walker said.

D’Agostino said the support from local officials has helped aid the momentum of the project.

“This project would not have worked as well as it has if it wasn’t for the wisdom of the city over a period of many years,” D’Agostino said. “They developed a FormBased Code for the West Homewood area, and it has done exactly what it should do. It instigated pedestrian activity, it has instigated food and beverage life, and it is a shining example of how a city can actually put some guidelines in place with the vision of creating a better community, and it worked.”

The Homewood Star 22 • June 2024
Above: Kyle D’Agostino, founder and owner of Poole and Company Architects, talks about the new site of townhomes and restaurant space on Oxmoor Road in West Homewood on May 15. Right: Construction continues on a new three-story building that will house a second location of El Barrio and Paramount Bar and Grill, in addition to apartments. Construction continues on new townhomes by Poole and Company Architects at the former site of the Econo Lodge on Oxmoor Road in West Homewood on May 15. Photos by Erin Nelson Sweeney.


CONTINUED from page 1

The painting, an original oil on stretched canvas, took a little more than 1,500 hours to complete and is scheduled for an official transfer to the royal family in Atlanta in July.

The second, more significant way Skipper made history with this painting is that he is the first Black American to be commissioned by Buckingham Palace to create a painting of the queen for the Royal Collection.

“In the 1950s, a Nigerian young man [Ben Enwonwu] did a sculpture of her, but no African-American had ever done a painting of Her Majesty,” Skipper said.

He said he got the opportunity to paint Queen Elizabeth II after he did some civil rights artwork years ago and met Andrew Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, along the way.

Young was appointed ambassador by former President Jimmy Carter and was the right hand of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Skipper said.

“He happened to be friends with someone who owned a museum in Atlanta and was very close friends with then-Prince Charles,” Skipper said of Young and his friend Rodney Cook Jr., owner of The Millennium Gate Museum. “We started talking about the possibility of doing a painting of the queen.”

Young spent three years teaching Skipper about “protocol and everything about being in front of royalty,” Skipper said. “I didn’t know anything about it.”

That included diplomacy, how to do business with a foreign government and how to dress, he said.

After the queen became ill, Skipper was asked to do a preliminary drawing from a photograph he had chosen. The photo was of her and one of her horses, Estimate, which won the Gold Cup at the 2013 Royal Ascot, one of the world’s most prestigious horse races.

“The queen loved horse racing; she loved horses, period,” Skipper said. “She used to come over here a lot to the Kentucky Derby.”

Usually at the Royal Ascot, the monarch presents the Gold Cup to the winner, but this time her horse was the winner.

“In the photo, her daughter, Princess Anne, was standing right behind her, and they were both petting Estimate,” Skipper said. “She passed away before I could finish the drawing.”

But Cook took the drawing with him to the coronation of King Charles to show the royal family, and “they loved it,” Skipper said.

That’s when the painting process began, and when the Iron Bowl interfered. But on May 9, “Majesty” was unveiled for British ambassadors in Savannah, Georgia.

“They went kind of crazy,” Skipper said

with a laugh. “We now have consulates fighting over whether to keep it here or for it to go back to London.”

Reproductions of the painting will be done soon, and he’s looking forward to that.

The painting was a “kind of complicated” challenge, Skipper said.

“The clothing that she and her daughter wear are very, very elaborate in style,” he said. “It demanded a lot of detail and a lot of realism.”

He said the hardest part was the hats.

“The queen’s hat was like straw — it had all these holes you could see through and see the sky,” Skipper said. “It was very, very tough.”

He said his favorite part was painting Estimate because, like the queen, he also loves horses.

“It took about four months to complete it, but I think when we pulled the cover off of it the other day, the reaction of everybody there, I think we did something pretty good,” he said.

Skipper said he’s humbled by the opportunity to be the first African-American to paint

Queen Elizabeth II for the Royal Collection.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” he said. “I wish the young man from Nigeria was still alive so he could tell me how to handle this.”

Skipper said he was grateful also for the chance to represent Homewood and the Rosedale area where he grew up.

“One of the best things about the whole thing, people at the British Embassy know about Homewood, and that’s really exciting,” he said.

Skipper said his long painting career has been a gift from God.

“From age 13 to 16, I was in a gang. Then at 16, I became a Christian,” he said.

After someone dared him, he went to a revival service, not expecting it to change his life.

“I found out where my talent came f-rom,” Skipper said. “I started using it to

glorify God.”

He turned down art scholarships and says Jesus Christ is the one who taught him how to paint.

“It comes down to really being obedient to God and doing exactly what He wants me to do,” he said.

Skipper’s artwork has hung in the Professional Football Hall of Fame, the U.S. Capitol, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Paul W. “Bear” Bryant Museum, the National Art Museum of Sport and the NCAA headquarters.

He also does sanctioned and officially licensed artwork for Auburn University, the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers, NASCAR, the Professional Bull Riders and the Professional Golfers Association of America.

For more information about Skipper’s art, visit steveskipperstudio.com.

TheHomewoodStar.com June 2024 23
Steve Skipper works on a painting of Queen Elizabeth II in his home studio. Photo courtesy of Ephraim Skipper. Homewood native and renowned artist, Steve Skipper, unveils his painting featuring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the 200th anniversary of the British Consulate in Savannah, Georgia on May 9. Photo by Katherine Ives, courtesy of Steve Skipper.

Homewood Parks & Recreation

Classes & Activities

Central Barre

Tuesday 6:15am

Wednesday 5:15pm

Saturday 8:15am

Homewood Community Center

Central Barre is a small group fitness class incorporating barre, core, cardio, balance, strength training and stretch to give you a complete workout in 55 minutes.  We use a variety of small equipment such as weights, resistance bands, balls and sliding discs to increase variety and provide real results.  ellyngagnon@gmail.com

Dance Trance

Saturday 9:30am-10:30am

Homewood Community Center

Dance Trance is a high-cardio, high-energy dance fitness experience that leaves participants soaking wet!  It is a non-stop workout that feels more like a party than an exercise class. www.dancetrancefitness.com

Fun For All Line Dancing

Beginner and Beyond Beginner line dance instruction encompassing a variety of music genres, e.g., pop, country and R&B. You will learn line dance terminology, line dance steps, and, of course, line dances to specific music. Homewood Community Center, Fitness Studio 2

Tuesday 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM $5.00 per person per visit funforalllinedancing@gmail.com

North Star Martial Arts

North Star Martial Arts primary focus is to make a life lasting impact on our students, and their families. Classes range from beginners to adults. For detailed class listings and times please visit the park’s website or www.northstarma.com. 205-966-4244 • info@northstarma.com


Vinyasa yoga classes in an energetic environment using upbeat music at Homewood Community Center. All levels welcome. Friday: 8:00am-9:00am - Basics Class

Friday: 9:30am-10:30am - Regular Class Contact Marla: 205-223-8564 • mac@yolimber.com

Bench Aerobics Step & Line Dance

Monday: 5:00pm - 6:00pm Tuesday: 4:15pm – 5:15pm (Step Aerobics)

Thursday: 4:15pm – 5:15pm (Cardio Line Dance)

Homewood Community Center Fitness Studio 2

Cost: Classes are FREE (with donations) For more information contact Rosa at 205-253-9344 or benchaerobics@bellsouth.net


Head Personal Training

Affordable personal training available to members in the Fitness Center at the Homewood Community Center. Workouts are fast, fun, safe, and effective and each person is started with a program to fit their fitness level. Call Royce for more information: 205-945-1665

Fast Track Line Dance

We learn the current and classic intermediateadvanced line dances. This class is not for beginners. Saturday 11:00am-1:00pm Homewood Community Center, Fitness Studio 2 Jackie Tally jgtally@aol.com (or) Helen Woods aquafool@aol.com


FIT4MOM Birmingham provides fitness classes and a network of local moms to support every stage of motherhood. From pregnancy, through postpartum and beyond, we serve our community by offering our fitness and wellness programs to help keep moms strong in body, mind and spirit. View our website for Membership Plans, Passes and Schedule. https://birmingham.fit4mom.com/

Misc. Information

Summer 2024 Pool Information

For all your summer pool information: membership, hours of operation, party rentals, swim lessons, etc. Please visit: www.homewoodparks.com

Homewood Youth Tackle Football

Register now for the Fall 2024 youth football season. Tackle football registration closes June 30th. www.homewoodyouthfootball.org

Homewood Flag Football

Registration Begins: May 2024

Age Divisions: 1st Grade - 6th Grade For more information visit: www.homewoodparks.com

Senior Center

Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention

Wednesdays at 1:30pm

Tai Chi is an ancient mind-body marshal art exercise that with regular practice improves health and wellbeing. It is a moving meditation in the form of fluid, graceful, circular and slow exercises. This class is suitable for anyone, easy on the joints, helps to calm the mind, improves balance and coordination. The program of Tai Chi for Health Institute. For additional information about Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention, contact Galina at: galinawaites@gmail.com

Tai Chi, Sun Style

Mondays at 1:30pm

Tai Chi is an ancient mind-body marshal art exercise that with regular practice improves health and wellbeing. It is a moving meditation in the form of fluid, graceful, circular and slow exercises. During this class participants will learn in more depth about Tai Chi history, principals and styles, will learn and practice Sun Style 73 forms. This class is suitable for anyone who is willing to take the time learning beautiful, liberating and empowering set of movements(forms). For additional information about Sun Style Tai Chi, contact Galina at: galinawaites@gmail.com


Fusion with Galina

Thursdays at 1:30pm

Dance Fusion is an easy low impact aerobic exercise, where we learn the basics of many dances around the world while having a lot of fun in the process. Linear movements and occasional turns are simple enough to remember and perform, while energizing music of the program helps with cardio elements and a positive emotional effect. For additional information about Dance Fusion, contact Galina at: galinawaites@gmail.com

July 4th Festival

Thursday, July 4th 2024 5:00pm-9:00pm Downtown Homewood

Follow us for athletics, community centers programming and event updates @homewoodparks @homewood.parks @homewood_parks

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