January 2022 | Volume 12 | Issue 8
HOMEWOOD’S COMMUNITY NEWS SOURCE
Hiking for Hope
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2022
Dan Sims to walk Appalachian Trail from Alabama to Maine to fundraise for pediatric cancer research.
See page A14
People walk along Shades Creek Greenway on Lakeshore Drive in Homewood. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Extension to Shades Creek Greenway tops 2022 priorities in Homewood By NEAL EMBRY
Project SAMson, a sports analytics and technology initiative, brings a new edge to Samford University’s athletics programs.
See page A19
INSIDE Sponsors .......... A4 News ..................A6 Business ............A9 Chamber ......... A12
omewood residents looking for ways to get active, or just to get out and about, are in luck heading into 2022, with plans to extend the Shades Creek Greenway as well as adding sidewalks and a pocket park. Those projects are just a few of the top projects and developments heading to Homewood in 2022.
SHADES CREEK GREENWAY PHASE II
The second phase of the Shades Creek Greenway project will connect the existing trail that currently ends at the intersection of Columbiana Road and Lakeshore Parkway to the other side of Columbiana. It will extend down behind the Crescent at Lakeshore apartments, behind the businesses in the Wildwood area and ending at BioLife Plasma Services. The estimated cost for the project is about
Community...... A14 Sports............... A18 Opinion............ A28 Real Estate..... A29
$6 million, an 80-20 split between the Alabama Department of Transportation and the city of Homewood, which will be responsible for around $1.2 million, according to City Engineer Cale Smith. The plan is for the project to go out to bid this spring, Smith said, with ALDOT overseeing the bidding process. A timeline for the project’s completion is unknown at this time, Smith said.
See 2022 | page A30
Homewood’s David Clark starts journey as pro MMA fighter By ERIC TAUNTON
David Clark, left, a professional mixed martial arts fighter, and Nick Guiditta run through a 3-minute sparring round while training at Spartan Fitness in Homewood. Photo by Erin Nelson.
When he wasn’t reading manga, studying or drawing in the library at his middle school, David Clark could be found reading about martial arts. Clark trains and coaches at Spartan Fitness, a martial arts and fitness gym in Homewood that teaches various fighting styles, including muay thai, boxing and jiu jitsu. He started learning everything he could about martial arts while in middle school, starting with “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do” by Bruce
See CLARK | page A31
The Homewood Star
A2 • January 2022
Ann-Yates Pate YOUR NEIGHBOR, YOUR REALTOR ® New Year
New Home! Are you considering selling your home or buying a new one in 2022? I’m here to help. You can rely on my expertise to guide you through the real estate world and connect you to your dream home this year! Curious to learn what your home is worth in today’s market? Contact me for a no-obligation consultation.
205.706.3604 (mobile) | firstname.lastname@example.org
12/3/21 10:06 AM
January 2022 • A3
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representatives are going door to door, leaving notices at locations where work is needed. If you have any questions before crews come by your home, please call Alabama Power at 205-257-2155 and ask for someone in the Vegetation Management Group to contact you. Or you can email us at email@example.com. Work in Homewood and nearby areas is expected to continue through January 2022. As we work in communities to meet the needs of our customers, please maintain a safe social distance of six feet from our crews and field representatives to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Also, you can visit alpwr.co/vm for more information about these safety and reliability measures and for
© 2022 Alabama Power Company.
CI R ER
As part of this process, Alabama Power goes to great lengths to talk with individual property owners. Company
Vegetation Management Group 205-257-2155 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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that threaten the safety and reliability of our electrical system.
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Alabama Power crews are working in several Homewood neighborhoods, removing trees and other vegetation
recommendations about planting the right tree in the right place.
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A PUBLIC NOTICE FROM ALABAMA POWER
The Homewood Star
A4 • January 2022
About Us Editor’s Note By Neal Embry 2022 is finally here. Another year is gone, and so begins another. As I get older, it seems the years go by much more quickly, and it definitely seems that way after the July 2020 birth of my daughter, who is now walking. My college years still don’t seem that far back, but in a couple of years, I’ll have my 10-year class reunion on the bricks of the University of Montevallo. My first real job, at a newspaper in Arkansas, began nearly six years ago, but it seems like just yesterday I was “living it up” in my bachelor pad before moving back home and marrying my wife. While I can’t slow time down, I can seek to remember it. In 2021, I celebrated my daughter’s
first birthday, finally graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and celebrated a new job for my wife that begins this month. And I certainly can’t forget watching the Atlanta Braves, the team I’ve
cheered on since childhood, lift the World Series trophy for the first time since 1995. In other news, literally, 2021 marked a new opportunity for me as I became the editor of The Homewood Star. It’s been a busy but rewarding few months. I’ve truly enjoyed spending more time in this city, getting to know its people and tell great stories. I hope you enjoy this month’s issue and hope you and yours enjoy a wonderful 2022!
PHOTO OF THE MONTH
Dena Szjako takes a photo of her son, Davis, 3, talking to Santa, while his older sisters, Mila, 13, and Stella, 10, look on during the Sims Garden Photos with Santa fundraiser Nov. 28. The fundraiser featured appointments with Santa from Nov. 28 through Dec. 19 for guests to take their own photos or to have photos taken by a professional photographer. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Publisher: Dan Starnes Managing Editor: Nick Patterson Community Editors: Neal Embry Jon Anderson Jesse Chambers Leah Ingram Eagle Sports Editor: Kyle Parmley Community Reporter: Eric Taunton Design Editor: Melanie Viering Photo Editor: Erin Nelson Designers: Kristin Williams Ted Perry Client Success Specialist: Anna Bain Content Marketing Manager: Ingrid Schnader Graphic Designer: Emily VanderMey Advertising: Michelle Salem Haynes Don Harris Jarrett Tyus Warren Caldwell Bob Willard Administrator: Anna Jackson
Please Support Our Community Partners Alabama Power (A3) Alabama School of Fine Arts (A29) Ann Yates Pate, ARC Realty (A2) Bandwagon Sports (A24) Bedzzz Express (A32) Birmingham Museum of Art (A12) Bromberg’s & Company (A25) Brookwood Baptist Health (A21) Buckets Away Waterproofing (A16) Byars-Wright Insurance (A1) Cardinal Roofing (A31) Classic Wine Company (A28) Clearview Strategy Partners (A26) Dreamcakes Bakery (A18) Enroll Alabama (A15) ENT Associates of Alabama (A8) French Drains Pro (A18) Green Springs Animal Clinic (A11) Gunn Dermatology (A30) Homewood Family and Cosmetic Dentistry (A26) Homewood Parks and Rec (A23) Issis & Sons (A21) Kete Cannon, ARC Realty (A1, A7) Lori Zucco Insurance Company (A22) One Man and a Toolbox (A8) Over the Mountain Glass (A22) Piggly Wiggly (A19) Robertson Banking Company (A15) Senior Placement Services (A7) Sewing Machine Mart (A9) Shades Creek Dental (A5) SOHO Social (A6) Southern Coin & Collectibles (A9) Southern Home Structural Repair Specialists (A25) Stead, Denson & Fuller Insurance (A16) TrustCare Urgent Care (A17) UAB Center for Exercise Medicine (A2) Vulcan Termite & Pest Control (A24) Wallace-Burke (A10) Walton Financial (A13)
For advertising contact: email@example.com Contact Information: Homewood Star P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 firstname.lastname@example.org
Please submit all articles, information and photos to: email@example.com P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253
Published by: The Homewood Star LLC 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. Please recycle this paper.
Find Us Pick up the latest issue of Homewood Star at the following locations: ► Alabama Outdoors ► aloft – SoHo Square ► Homewood Board of Education ► Dave’s Pizza ► Edgar’s Bakery ► Homewood Chamber of Commerce ► Homewood Family Dentistry ► Homewood High School ► Homewood Public Library ► Nabeel’s Cafe and Market
► New York Pizza ► O’Henry’s Coffees ► Piggly Wiggly ► Homewood Police Department ► Savage’s Bakery ► Single Barrel Barbershop ► Taco Mama - Edgewood Want to join this list or get Homewood Star mailed to your home? Contact Anna Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 2022 • A5
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The Homewood Star
A6 • January 2022
Redistricting efforts impact Birmingham metro area Homewood straddles the line between the sixth and seventh congressional districts following the state’s redistricting process that took place in late 2021. Map courtesy of the Alabama Legislature.
By NEAL EMBRY Some voters in Homewood might have a new representative in Congress following the state’s redistricting process. Although they face legal challenges, the state of Alabama has new congressional, legislative and school board maps following the redistricting process that took place in late 2021. The maps significantly altered representation in parts of Homewood, with some changes in Hoover as well. There was no major impact in Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook. The redistricting process takes place every 10 years following the release of the U.S. Census Bureau data. Governor Kay Ivey signed the maps in November, but two lawsuits have been filed challenging the legality of the maps, arguing they were racially gerrymandered, and Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, the longest-serving legislator in state history, said the lawsuits will be ongoing “for a while.” In Homewood, voters zoned for two voting precincts, one in Edgewood and the other at the Homewood Library, were moved from the 6th Congressional District, which is currently held by Republican Gary Palmer, into the 7th Congressional District, which is currently held by Democrat Terri Sewell. While areas north of Oxmoor Road in the city were previously a part of the 7th District, which has historically been held by a Democrat, areas south of Oxmoor had been included in the 6th District, which has historically been held by a Republican, said state Rep. David Faulkner, who represents District 46. Faulkner estimated he heard from 100 residents who were upset about the changes. Ethan Vice with Palmer’s office said the changes came as a result of the growth in Palmer’s portion of Shelby County. The growth meant he had to
lose some areas in order to maintain balance among the state’s congressional delegation. Palmer also lost some parts of Hoover between McCalla and Helena, as well as a good bit of western Jefferson County, though he did pick up some precincts in the Roebuck and Center Point area. Faulkner and Waggoner introduced measures to keep those parts of Homewood in Palmer’s district, but the measures were defeated on the floor of both the state House and state Senate. Faulkner said he was “taken back” by how little legislators not on the redistricting committee were involved in the creation of new maps. The only role they were allowed to play before the maps were put on the floor for debate was in examining their own district, Faulkner said, meaning he did not get to see how some of
his constituents would be affected by changes to congressional maps, or changes to state Senate and school board maps. Other than a few minor changes, state legislative districts remained largely the same in the over-the-mountain area. State Sen. Dan Roberts, representing District 15, represents a large part of Vestavia and Mountain Brook, portions of Homewood and Shelby Count, but did lose his boxes in Talladega County, where he was one of three senators. The committee chose to try and keep multiple representatives or senators from serving one county, he said. State senators’ districts now represent about 146,000 people on average, with representatives representing about 43,000 people, Waggoner said. The process was complicated due to the
delay in census numbers coming in, Waggoner said. Normally, legislators would have several months to complete redistricting, but the numbers did not come in until August this year, said state Rep. Jim Carns. Over-the-mountain legislators including Waggoner, Carns, Roberts, Faulkner and state Rep. David Wheeler all said they plan on running for reelection, and while qualifying for the 2022 primaries and general election won’t end until the end of January, two had known opponents as of press time: Wheeler and Carns. Wheeler will face Chris Coleman, a DJ, in the general election after Coleman, a Democrat, filed papers to run against him, Wheeler said. Carns will face William Wentowski in the Republican primary after defeating Wentowski in the 2018 primary.
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January 2022 • A7
Rosedale Historic District to be resurveyed By NEAL EMBRY Remona Coates said her family has been in their home in the Rosedale Historic District for multiple generations. “It’s a blessing to still be around,” Coates said. Coates said there are a “lot of sentimental feelings in this community” and called her family home “historic,” just like the neighborhood. Coates is a lifelong resident of Rosedale, a graduate of Homewood High School whose class was together throughout their time in the school system from third grade until graduation, she said. While Homewood continues to grow in different directions, Rosedale is home for Coates and many others. “Where are we going to go?” she said. However, Coates said the area is in need of upgrades. Help may be on the way soon. The district will soon be resurveyed, which will help maintain a record of historic structures in the area and possibly make them eligible for grant monies to preserve their historical nature. Contributing structures are placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a copy of the most recent survey, completed in 2004, shows a description of each property and the year it was built. The survey also provides some historic information about the neighborhood. Adding properties as “contributing historical structures” could open the door for grants and help property owners like Union Missionary Baptist Church. The church is seeking to be recognized as a “contributing historical structure” to reemphasize that it is eligible for grants, said Eddie Griffith with the Homewood Historic Preservation Commission. There are currently 143 structures listed as contributing historically in the 2004 survey, but that needs to be updated, Griffith said. Having such a survey done helps bring awareness to the historic neighborhood, and is important for any historical structures, Griffith
The Rosedale neighborhood along 17th Place South in Homewood. Photo by Erin Nelson.
said. One of the ways it benefits those structures and their owners is by recording and helping maintain the current use of the buildings. Councilor Barry Smith said the city is adding to its Geographic Information System maps to ensure the city’s records are complete, and having the study done will also help anyone doing research on the city. Councilor Melanie Geer said the process is not “easy or simple,” and that while properties listed as contributing structures may be eligible
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for some protections or grant monies, it would also come with some stipulations and restrictions. Geer said she is still learning about the resurvey and what it might mean for Rosedale. The resurvey is “another tool in a larger bag” the city can use to protect the properties and buildings in Rosedale, if the neighborhood wants to do that, Geer said. The relationship between Rosedale and the city is “complicated,” Geer said, with residents voicing concerns in the past few years as
investors have purchased and developed property along the edges of Rosedale. Smith said she hopes the survey “calm[s] fears of encroachment” that some Rosedale residents have expressed in the past. “We are invested in Rosedale,” Smith said. “Rosedale is an important part of Homewood. We want to recognize and maintain the history that is there.” Smith said the results of the survey should be in by August.
Happy New Year!
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Thank you for your continued support and business in 2021. I look forward to another successful year serving our community and helping your buy or sell your home!
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Melissa Cooper BIRMINGHAM
The Homewood Star
A8 • January 2022 The Homewood City Council is asking the Alabama Legislature to authorize the formation of two new entertainment districts, one in the West Homewood Business District and one in the Edgewood Business District. Photo by Erin Nelson.
The Homewood City Council voted Dec. 6 to restructure the city’s Beautification Board. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Council seeks OK for entertainment districts Beautification Board restructured By NEAL EMBRY
The Homewood City Council is asking the Alabama Legislature to authorize the formation of two new entertainment districts, one in the West Homewood Business District and one in the Edgewood Business District. The vote was not unanimous, with council members Nick Sims and Melanie Geer voting no. The city recently created the downtown entertainment district. Because of its population size, Homewood is allowed to have only two entertainment districts by state law. Instead of choosing between either Edgewood or West Homewood, the City Council chose to seek approval from the state Legislature for a third district. Entertainment districts allow businesses with alcohol licenses to obtain a license which allows for the consumption of alcoholic beverages off the premises, allowing customers to purchase a drink and walk around within the district. No alcohol may be brought into the district, and the council would later set hours and other guidelines. Several residents spoke at Nov. 15 committee meetings in opposition to the Edgewood plan, citing concerns about how many children live and play in the area. Geer said she had heard from concerned
residents leading up to the vote, while Sims asked to postpone a decision to allow more time for discussion. Councilor Walter Jones said details can be worked out later, but the Legislature must approve the districts before discussion can begin on what those districts might look like. In other business, the council: ► Approved the removal of five protected trees from 1505 Manhattan St. and nine protected trees from 1796 Murray Hill Road. ► Approved the bid from Flock Cameras for new camera systems. ► Approved a contract with Sain Associates for engineering design services for Mecca Avenue sidewalks. ► Approved a contract with Schoel Engineering for engineering design services for a stormwater project on Kenilworth Drive. ► Authorized Mayor Patrick McClusky to negotiate the terms of a contract with the Birmingham Zoo for fiscal 2022 budget appropriations. ► Rejected the bid from Dunn Construction for work to fix and improve portions of Old Montgomery Highway. The city’s engineer, Cale Smith, said he believes the company will come down on its price following negotiations, which were permissible because Dunn Construction was the sole bidder for the project.
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By NEAL EMBRY The Homewood City Council voted Dec. 6 to restructure the city’s Beautification Board. The city previously had what Councilor Nick Sims called “uneven” representation from each ward of the city. The new changes set a limit of 15 members on the board, with 10 ward-specific appointees (two for each ward) and five at-large representatives, appointed by the City Council. In the past, the mayor made appointments to the Beautification Board, and the number of people who could serve ranged from 12-25. The board currently has 12 members, including Sims, who is the council liaison and does not vote. The council voted unanimously to approve the changes, which were recommended by the Special Issues Committee. Current board members will remain, and the changes will take effect as members roll off or otherwise leave the board, Sims said. Instead, the changes will take place incrementally over time as current board members’ terms expire. The council also lowered the sales price of 307 Oxmoor Road from $65,000 to $50,000. The city is selling the property to Logos Express, which is expanding its business. The
sale price was lowered due to the need to move a utility line located underneath the property. The council also authorized Mayor Patrick McClusky to sign a $16,730 contract with Hixson Consultants, which is creating a scope of work and bid package for City Hall repairs. In other business, the council: ► Rezoned 1832 25th Court S. from an institutional district to a neighborhood preservation district. ► Agreed to buy two new Harley-Davidson motorcycles for the Homewood Police Department at a cost of roughly $21,000 per motorcycle. ► Authorized McClusky to sign a multijurisdictional hazard mitigation plan with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, allowing the city to receive funds in the event of an emergency. ► Authorized McClusky to sign a memorandum of understanding with Jefferson County regarding debris removal and monitoring services following a natural disaster. ► Approved a request to work in the city right of way at 1608 Ridge Road. ► Authorized McClusky to remit budgeted appropriations to the Assistance League of Birmingham and the Homewood Chamber of Commerce.
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January 2022 • A9
Business Happenings RELOCATIONS AND RENOVATIONS
Chick-fil-A, 211 Lakeshore Parkway, is in the process of rebuilding and remodeling the restaurant, which is expected to reopen in 2022. 205-945-6062, chick-fil-a.com
Harbert Retail has completed the sale of a single tenant, Dunkin', 300 Commons Drive, for $1,654,205 ($458 per square foot). The Dunkin' property features a 3,610-square-foot, stand-alone building that sits on 1.17 acres and was built in 1997 and fully renovated in 2020 by Bluemont Group, the Dunkin' franchisee tenant. Dunkin' has approximately nine years remaining on their lease. 205-518-5250, dunkindonuts.com
Sam’s Super Samwiches recently announced it will be relocating its restaurant from 2812 18th Ave. S. to 1830 29th Ave. S. in SoHo Square, which was formerly occupied by Edible Arrangements. In its social media post, the restaurant said it hoped to reopen by February.
NEW OWNERSHIP 569 Shades Creek LP, a partnership between Fairway Investments LLC in Birmingham and Pope & Land Enterprises Inc. in Atlanta, recently announced it had purchased Brookwood Office Center from Preferred Apartment Communities Inc. for $55 million. The 169,489 square foot building, located at 569 Brookwood Village, was built in 2007, according to a news release from the partners. The anchor tenant is Kinder Morgan, an energy infrastructure company. Other tenants include PricewaterhouseCooper, Surgical Care Affiliates and Merrill Lynch. Colliers will continue to manage and lease the property. The office building is adjacent to the Brookwood Village Mall and Macy’s, which the Fairway Investments, Pope & Land and Colliers teams purchased earlier this year, according to the release.
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PERSONNEL MOVES Regions, with offices at 1 Independence Plaza and 100 Green Springs Highway, recently announced Brad Kimbrough will retire following a nearly 29-year career at the bank, the last 14 of which he has served as controller and chief accounting officer. Kimbrough will be succeeded as controller by Anil Chadha, a 20-year banking industry veteran who joined Regions in 2011 and currently serves as head of risk shared services and analytics. Chadha will lead the bank’s broader controller group, which includes Karin Allen, who has been elevated by Regions to serve as assistant controller and chief accounting officer. In addition, James Eastman of the controller group has been named assistant controller and will manage business unit controller functions. Jon Harden will continue as accounting and treasury operations manager. regions.com
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GRAND OPENING January 5th
Ted Graphos, son of the late Sam Graphos, announces the new location of Sam’s Super Samwiches before the Graphos family lights the star during the Homewood Christmas parade on Dec. 7. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Sam’s Super Samwiches heads to new location in SoHo Square By NEAL EMBRY Following the death of founder Sam Graphos and the vacating of its longtime spot on 18th Street, Sam’s Super Samwiches, a popular eatery for both breakfast and lunch, announced its new location in downtown Homewood on Dec. 7. The restaurant plans to reopen in February at 1830 29th St. S., next to SoHo Standard in the former Edible Arrangements location, said Sam’s son, Ted Graphos. “It’s a great, great feeling for me and my family,” Graphos said. Graphos said the family wanted to keep the business running following his father’s death in early October, but they had to look for a new location after their lease on 18th Street was not renewed. The new location is much larger than the previous location, measuring at about 1,300
square feet, compared to 850 square feet at the previous location. All of the space is usable, Graphos said, whereas about half of the old location was hallway. The new location is also close to the previous one, so longtime customers won’t have to travel far to get their daily “samwich,” Graphos said. Owners of the SoHo development reached out and told the Graphos family they had a spot for them, and the timing worked out well, Graphos said. The family signed the lease Dec. 3 and announced the new location at the Homewood Christmas parade Dec. 7 after lighting the city’s Christmas tree in honor of Sam’s memory. Sam Graphos owned and cooked at Sam’s for more than 50 years and originally co-owned the restaurant with his brother, Pete, when it was called Sneaky Pete’s, before the pair sold that franchise.
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The Homewood Star
A10 • January 2022
Milo’s announces plans for beverage facility in Homewood By NEAL EMBRY Milo’s Tea has purchased a property at 126 Barber Court, part of the old Barber facility, and plans to renovate the facility in order to produce its assortment of beverages. The company is taking over the part of the facility which formerly produced milk, while Mayfield Ice Cream is still being produced at the plant. Milo’s plans to invest $58 million in the facility to make improvements and will start producing tea and lemonade at the plant. The move is part of the company’s $175 million push across its three facilities in Alabama and Oklahoma to meet what it said is growing demand for its products. The company announced in November it is launching three new products: peach sweet tea, extra sweet tea and a sweet tea and lemonade mix, all packaged in Milo’s new 59-ounce carafe bottle. “We are blessed with passionate fans who love our all-natural, fresh-brewed teas and lemonade and are thrilled to offer new ways for people to enjoy Milo’s,” said Tricia Wallwork, CEO of Milo’s Tea Co. and granddaughter of founder Milo Carlton. “Just like we have done for the last 75 years, Milo’s will continue to expand, evolve and innovate our products and operations to consistently deliver natural, high-quality drinks our fans know are synonymous with the Milo’s brand.” Wallwork said Milo’s ”may also add corporate offices and an innovation lab, among other amenities,” at a later date. Milo’s plans to create 150 jobs at the Homewood facility over the next three years. A representative previously told
the Homewood City Council the jobs would have an average annual salary of $45,000 and fully-funded health care, along with other benefits. Coming back to Homewood is a special move, Wallwork told The Homewood Star. “We’re thrilled to come back to Homewood where my parents first started bottling Milo’s Tea in gallon jugs back in the late 1980s,” Wallwork said. “Back then, they rented a small warehouse on Aquarius Drive overlooking the old Barber’s site, and I recall many summers in high school loading bottles on the line or doing other odd jobs in the plant. It is an honor that over three decades later our family business has the opportunity to return to Homewood to create a world-class manufacturing facility and amazing jobs for remarkable people with exceptional pay and benefits.” The city of Homewood recently approved a tax incentive plan for the development. The package is for 10 years and includes the abatement of 100% of sales and use taxes paid to the city for construction-related materials, along with 90% of a portion of property tax dollars, with the other 10% remaining with the city. The 90-10 split does not affect the current amount of property taxes received by the city on the facility, which is roughly $24,500 annually from both personal and real property tax. The city will continue to receive that amount. The split only impacts any increase to property taxes on top of that amount following any capital improvements made by Milo’s that raise the property value of the facility. Milo’s must pay the full amount of property and sales taxes due to Homewood City Schools.
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A gallon of Milo’s Famous Sweet Tea is seen on a countertop. Milo’s Tea has purchased a property at 126 Barber Court, part of the old Barber facility, and plans to renovate the facility in order to produce its assortment of beverages. Photo by Erin Nelson.
January 2022 • A11
Worship Center Christian Church buys Homewood Kale Me Crazy By NEAL EMBRY A Birmingham church has bought a Homewood café to offer jobs and healthy food options in Homewood and later to locations in Hoover and downtown Birmingham. Van Moody, pastor of The Worship Center Christian Church at 100 Derby Parkway in Birmingham, said the church purchased Kale Me Crazy in late fall 2021. “At The Worship Center, we believe in healthy living and in providing healthy options to help people live their best life,” Moody said in a press release. “The purchase of this Kale Me Crazy location is an entirely new approach to community development by the church. It allows us to provide opportunities for residents to eat healthier foods, while at the same time it allows the church to provide jobs to underserved members of our community.” Moody told The Homewood Star he spoke with the CEO of Kale Me Crazy, based in Decatur, Georgia, after the Homewood café had not kept pace with the success of other locations around the country. After hearing Moody’s thoughts on how to improve the café and the lives of its customers, the CEO offered the church an opportunity to purchase the location and bring two more to the area. Moody said the church is “honored” to serve Homewood and added that as the church assumes operation of the business, it will improve the food quality and service of Kale
Tyrone McCloud hands a sample of “Go Green” pressed juice to David Sauger as Sauger places his order at Kale Me Crazy in downtown Homewood. The business recently changed owners to Worship Center Christian Church in Birmingham. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Me Crazy, as well as renovate the space. Kale Me Crazy will bring 20-30 jobs to each location, offering a way to improve the lives of employees as well as patrons, who will benefit from the store’s focus on healthy eating options, Moody said. The cafes offer “juices, smoothies, salads and wraps to support a healthy lifestyle,” according to the press release. Moody said Alabama as a state has a lack of healthy food options, and while it often impacts marginalized communities more, everyone suffers. “There’s a reason why marginalized
communities remain marginalized,” Moody said. A lack of access to healthy food is one of the “pillars of poverty,” he said. “I can’t eat better if I don’t have access to eat better,” Moody said. Expanding Kale Me Crazy is one way to expand those food options for all communities, Moody said. While it might be a “pebble” in the effort to improve food options, it hopefully will have positive effects, he said. The church focuses on serving the underserved and has multiple campuses along with a child development community, counseling
center and more. The question church members often ask themselves is, “How do we help people live better lives totally?” Moody said. The aim of the church is to help people spiritually, physically and in all ways, Moody said. He and his wife try to model that, in part, by living a vegan lifestyle, to show the impact of healthy eating. The church will also renovate the space, adding wood paneling, countertop space and new wall decor, Moody said. For more information on the church, visit twccc.org.
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The Homewood Star
A12 • January 2022
Chamber Sellers expresses excitement for World Games at luncheon The Homewood Chamber of Commerce hosted Nick Sellers, CEO of The World Games 2022, as its keynote speaker at The Club in Homewood on Dec. 14. Photo by Eric Taunton.
By ERIC TAUNTON
without disabilities. “I will submit to you that in 2022, there is no bigger event, in terms of international sports, in the world outside of the Beijing Olympics than The World Games,” Sellers said. The World Games has received around $15 million from the public sector and has raised around $25 million from the private sector, with the Games being sponsored by more than 70 companies, Sellers said. He said he and other World Games organizers made a commitment to Birmingham that whatever investment received from the public and private sectors, 35% of that will go to local women and minority-owned businesses.
The Iroquois Nationals, the lacrosse team that represents the Haudenosaunee Nation, will also be one of the eight teams to compete in lacrosse at The World Games after initially not being recognized as a sovereign nation by the International Olympic Committee. The men’s Irish lacrosse team withdrew from The World Games so that the Nationals would be able to compete in the Games, he said. Sellers said the organizing committee for The World Games along with international groups, such as the Canadian Women Committee, started a petition to present to the World Games Committee and the IOC to allow the
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Iroquois Nationals to compete. As a result, the Haudenosaunee Nation will instead hold a refugee status with the IOC so they will be able to compete, Sellers said. He said there will be several festivities coinciding with The World Games that have yet to be announced but he is excited about. Holiday packages for The World Games are available as gifts this holiday season, he said. Packages will include tickets, a merchandise gift card and a commemorative World Games hat. At the end of the meeting, the gavel was passed from Matthew Savela to Will O’Donnell, making him the new president of the chamber.
The Homewood Chamber of Commerce hosted Nick Sellers, CEO of The World Games 2022, as its keynote speaker at The Club in Homewood on Dec. 14. Sellers updated members about the several events and festivities that will take place at The World Games in the summer of 2022. “This is not a hyperbole; this is a once-ina-lifetime opportunity for this community,” Sellers said. The World Games, Sellers said, is supported by the International Olympic Committee. “Some of the same athletes, Olympians, who competed in Tokyo will be competing right here in our hometown next summer in front of a global audience of over 100 countries and a domestic audience of over 100 million people,” Sellers said. Sellers said The World Games expects more than half a million people to be in Birmingham for 10 days, from July 7-17. “We will have an opportunity to showcase our city and our state in a very special way,” Sellers said. The World Games is in its 40th year and 11th edition, he said. This will be the first time the Games will be in the United States since its inception in 1981, Sellers said. The International Olympic Committee, Sellers said, has more than 100 sports that want to be recognized on the summer Olympic platform but only 24-26 are able to compete. There will be a total of 34 sports featured in The World Games including boxing, gymnastics, tug of war, lacrosse, wushu, sports climbing and wheelchair rugby, among others. Sellers said The World Games 2022 will be the first international sporting event in history to have competitions for athletes with and
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THE MOUNDBUILDERS ANCIENT NATIVE AMERICANS OF THE SOUTH AND MIDWEST Lost Realms of the Moundbuilders: Ancient Native Americans of the South and Midwest (originally titled Spiro and the Art of the Mississippian World) is organized by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. This exhibition is supported in part by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The local presentation is made possible by the Estate of Mr. Harris Saunders, Jr. and Jean Saunders. Additional support is provided by the Jefferson County Community Service Fund at the recommendation of Alabama Representative Jim Carns, HD 48.
Effigy pipe of seated male figure. Identified as Morning Star or the hero Red Horn. Le Flore County, Oklahoma, Spiro site, 1100 – 1200. Bauxite (flint clay). Photograph by John Lamberton. Image courtesy the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Fayetteville, University of Arkansas Museum. 47-2-1.
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January 2022 • A13
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The Homewood Star
A14 • January 2022
Community Have a community announcement? Email Neal Embry at email@example.com to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue.
Dan Sims holds out his phone with a photograph of a Christmas parade where his daughter, Janie, was escorted at the front in a horse-drawn carriage in the early 2000s. Photos by Erin Nelson.
Hiking for hope Local man to walk from Alabama to Maine to fundraise for pediatric cancer research Dan Sims will be hiking the Appalachian Trail, starting at Flagg Mountain in Alabama to Maine, beginning in January to raise money for childhood cancer research in honor of his daughter, Janie.
By NEAL EMBRY When his daughter Janie died at the age of 5 after battling leukemia, Dan Sims dedicated the rest of his life to honoring her memory and raising money for pediatric cancer research. That journey is now set to take him from Talladega to Maine, a 2,600-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail that he hopes will highlight the need for pediatric cancer research and provide millions of dollars in new funding. Sims, a Vestavia Hills resident, said while he’s taken part in marathons and hiked many miles before, this will be the longest hike he’s ever done. But the journey will be worth it if he can help children like Janie, who died in 2003. One year after he and Janie’s mom welcomed twin boys that were 10 weeks premature, Janie was diagnosed with leukemia. She was treated for 15 months before passing away in 2003. “It blindsided us,” Sims said of the diagnosis. Janie had been running a fever, so her parents took her to the doctor, who delivered an ominous message. “Within 15 minutes (of doing blood work), they got really quiet and said, ‘You need to go to the emergency room,’” Sims said. The emergency room admitted them immediately, and they were quickly told Janie had leukemia. “You’re scared to death as a parent,” Sims said. Treatment was not easy, as chemotherapy weakens the immune system in an effort to kill cancer cells without killing the patient, Sims said. “It’s like you’re walking a tightrope 100 floors off the ground with no safety net,” he said. While Sims put on a brave face for Janie, walking through that time was gut-wrenching, he said. “You keep a positive attitude for her,” Sims said. “At the same time, you’re being eaten alive from the inside.” Janie, though, never complained. She was, even while undergoing treatment, “fun to be around and easy to love,” Sims said. She woke up with a smile on her face and genuinely
Janie Sims died at age 5 after battling leukemia. She inspired her father Dan to hike in her honor to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Photo courtesy of Dan Sims.
enjoyed life. “Right after Janie completed some of her early intense rounds of chemo she came home from the hospital and learned how to ride her bike without training wheels at 4 years old,” Sims said. “She was up for horseback rides and was the first to get on the rollercoaster. Janie loved to sing in the car and Kenny Chesney songs were her favorite. “She lived her life and did not let the cancer get in the way. Whatever challenges and hardships that I will endure on my 2,600 plus mile journey will pale in comparison to what Janie had to go through after her leukemia diagnosis,” Sims said. She was one of those people to whom other people naturally gravitated, he said. She, the middle child between the twin boys and her older sisters Haley and Anna, was the “glue” in the family, Sims said. So when Sims began to prepare for next year’s hike, he knew he could not let anything stop him from honoring his daughter. “I don’t care what obstacle, this is something I’ve got to do now,” he said. Going through his daughter’s treatment prepared him for the journey that he plans to begin in January. “There’s so many parallels between going through cancer with a child and doing a thru hike,” Sims said.
She lived her life and did not let the cancer get in the way. Whatever challenges and hardships that I will endure on my 2,600 plus mile journey will pale in comparison to what Janie had to go through after her leukemia diagnosis.
Like he’ll have to do on the hike, Sims said he learned to do what he had to do to take care of his daughter. Sims will start at Flagg Mountain, the beginning of the Pinhoti Trail that eventually connects to the Appalachian Trail through the Benton MacKaye Trail, adding 408 miles to get to about 2,600 total miles of hiking. Sims will carry all of what he needs on his back and will have to make stops in towns along the way to reload. He’s also going during winter, where the elements could be more of a threat. And 2,600 miles is a lot more than the 26 he has run in many marathons. “It’s not a marathon,” Sims said. “It’s 100 marathons. It’s you and the elements.” Sims knows that parents who have gone through similar struggles may be able to find a commonality with him, and he hopes they’ll donate, along with many others. “You never forget another parent or child,” Sims said. If each of Alabama’s roughly 5 million residents gave $2 to pediatric cancer research, that would mean $10 million toward the cause,
Sims said. “You’ve raised $10 million without blinking an eye,” he said. “This is a lottery you can’t lose.” Sims is starting by donating $2,000 out of his own pocket, which is symbolic because about 1,000 children are undergoing cancer treatment in the state right now, he said. He’s giving $2 for each of them. It’s not possible to be fully prepared or fully trained for dealing with childhood leukemia, and the same goes for such a long hike, Sims said. He has watched videos and purchased equipment, but 99% of it is just getting out there and doing it, he said. Only about 20 to 25% of people who attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail make it, he said. Just as his daughter stayed in not-so-comfy hospital rooms, the ground on the trail isn’t always the softest landing spot either, he said. Looking back on his time in the hospital, Sims said other families with sick children become like family, which is similar to the family hikers build on long trails like the Appalachian Trail. “We trust our lives to strangers and then we call them family,” Sims said. “No one does anything truly alone.” Sims knows his idea to raise $10 million for pediatric cancer research might be seen as crazy. But he’s OK with that, because, as Steve Jobs once said in one of his favorite quotes, those are the kinds of people who make a difference. “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules. … You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. … They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do,” Jobs said in 1997. To give, visit Sim’s GoFundMe at gofundme .com/f/alabama-pediatric-cancer-fundraiser.
January 2022 • A15
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The Homewood Star
A16 • January 2022
Science fiction author reflects on career, pandemic’s impact on fiction By NEAL EMBRY For about a year, Drew Williams was doing what many authors do following a book launch: going on tour, doing book signings, living in hotel rooms and meeting fans of his work. Then, as he put it, someone flipped the light switch. The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. The third and final book in his science fiction space opera “The Universe After” trilogy, titled, “The Firmament of Flame,” was released in February 2020. A month later, Williams, who grew up working at The Little Professor bookstore in Homewood and now lives in Hoover, went from book tours to “lots of sitting at home being terrified the world was going to come apart in ways we still don’t understand.” Williams is the author of three novels, each set in a fictional universe. The first, “The Stars Now Unclaimed,” was released in August 2018, and the two sequels were published in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Being so prolific in such a short amount of time was made easier by the work leading up to the first novel, Williams said. There were about three years of “run-up” work for the second and third novels before the first book hit shelves, he said. Writing a second novel is “interesting,” Williams said. “It’s a lot like your favorite TV show.” With key characters established in the first novel, the later novels can dive into why they do what they do, going deeper into the universe. Williams said he was pleased with how the trilogy turned out and said the responses and reviews to his novels were great. “It’s just absurdly gratifying being told that this thing you created is good,” Williams said. “That never gets old.”
Williams previously described the plot of the first novel as “space opera meets post-apocalyptic world.” The plot centers around the main character, Jane Kamali, and her mission to save children given special powers by a catastrophe that caused some worlds to lose their technology, throwing the galactic order into chaos. Kamali sets off to save the children and reverse the disaster while being chased by villains. Following that book, the second novel changes perspective, with a younger character from the first book taking the lead role. The third novel is split between the two character’s perspectives, Williams said. Williams is still working on various projects, he said. “It’s an impulse, I guess you’d say,” Williams said. “I’m constantly telling stories in my head.” The act of writing is a “question of harnessing that,” he said. Going on book tours and hosting signings was different for Williams, who admitted he is not inherently outgoing or gregarious. “You have to build up your capacity to talk,” he said. During the pandemic, Williams spent time writing and said dealing with the stressors of living in such an uneasy time impacted his writing. He said literature will have a key part to play in moving forward from the pandemic. “I think it will be absolutely fascinating to see how the pandemic is viewed through the prism of fiction,” Williams said. “We’re all going to process it in ways that aren’t necessarily literal.” For example, Williams said if an author feels powerless, as many felt during the pandemic, they are more likely to write a character who also feels that way. The emotions felt during the pandemic are brought to the forefront in an
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Local science fiction author Drew Williams stands outside shops in downtown Homewood. Photo by Erin Nelson.
author’s work, he said. Being picked up by Tor Books, one of the biggest names in science fiction, was a “big surprise,” Williams said. He was also able to find
an agent very quickly, which helped. Experiencing success as an author has been “as fantastic as you’d imagine it would be,” Williams said. “Everyone’s been lovely.”
January 2022 • A17
Residents learn to heal from pet loss with Dixie’s Group Randy Hays sits with a painting of his dog, Dixie, that passed away in 2013. Hays was a volunteer at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and asked if the organization would be interested in forming a pet loss support group, and the director thought it was a great idea, he said. Photo by Eric Taunton.
By ERIC TAUNTON In November 2013, Randy Hays’ Labrador retriever, Dixie, died unexpectedly from cancer. He went to find a grief support group in Birmingham, but there were none that allowed people suffering from the loss of a pet to participate, Hays said. A few months later, Hays formed Dixie’s Group, a pet grief support group, with the help of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, to give people the chance to grieve with others over the loss of their pets. “I was just devastated over the loss of Dixie,” Hays said. “I grieved and grieved and couldn’t find a group, such as a church group, that would let a person grieving over the loss of their pet participate.” Hays was a volunteer at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society and asked if the organization would be interested in forming a pet loss support group, and the director thought it was a great idea, he said. He has seen many group participants who were totally devastated by the loss of their pets but were able to get through it over time with support from each other by sharing and sometimes crying. “We thought our dog, our cat or whatever was like a family member,” Hays said. “In coming to our group, we have found that it’s a safe place where people can come and share their stories about the losses of their pets.” He said some people never get over the grief of losing a pet, and they might not want to, but with time and support, they are able to heal. “We meet from about 6 to 7 p.m., and our meetings seem to be helpful so much that, usually, there hasn’t been a time when we ended at 7,” Hays said. “We usually stay until about 7:15 or 7:30 p.m., so the meetings seem to always be helpful to the people who come.” Meetings are led by Larry Michael, a trained grief counselor, Hays said. Michael provides handouts related to pet loss and guides participants in sharing their stories, he said. Dixie’s Group hasn’t had a meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but will start again on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at the Homewood Public Library in Room 116. “Without the Homewood Public Library and the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, these meetings would never have been possible,” Hays said. “Both of those groups have been so supportive in helping us, not only developing the meeting but also hosting the meetings.”
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The Homewood Star
A18 • January 2022
Andrew Laird, above, and Emma Brooke Levering, left, compete during the Class 6A state cross-country meet Nov. 6 at Oakville Indian Mounds Park. Photos courtesy of Marvin Gentry/AHSAA.
Patriots girls finish as state runner-up By ERIC TAUNTON The Homewood High School girls cross-country team earned a second-place finish in the Class 6A division of the state cross-country meet at Oakville Indian Mounds Park on Nov. 6. Mountain Brook dominated the meet, taking half of the top 10 in the girls race and scoring just 26 points. Homewood finished with 104 points, well ahead of Scottsboro’s 131 points in third place. The team was led by freshman Emma Brooke Levering, finishing fifth overall with a time
of 18:34. Levering was followed by Sydney Dobbins (18th, 19:25), Caroline Wilder (28th, 19:59), Sarah Kemper (29th, 19:59), Bailey Zinn (30th, 20:01), Jane Fowlkes (31st, 20:05) and Sophia Forrestall (53rd, 20:45). “The girls probably ran the best they have all season,” said Josh Donaldson, head coach of the Homewood cross-country team. “We knew going into it, Mountain Brook was going to be pretty dominant on their side, especially having some of their top runners back from last year.” Donaldson said even though he knew it would be a challenge to beat Mountain Brook, he also knew there were other teams with a
mission of beating Homewood, which made him even more pleased with how the girls competed. The boys team finished fifth at the state meet as well. Scottsboro won, with Mountain Brook finishing second. Chelsea and Cullman were also ahead of the Patriots. The Homewood team was led by junior Andrew Laird (15th, 16:13), followed by Grayton Murray (21st, 16:30), Jack Harchelroad (35th, 16:48), Sam Gray (50th, 17:04), Foster Laird (78th, 17:36), Cole Bedics (88th, 17:46) and Ethan Bagwell (90th, 17:47). Donaldson said going into the meet, the
Patriots knew it would be a challenge to place as high as they have in the past, as the team was suffering from a few injuries during the season. “We also knew, with that challenge, we could step up and do really well,” Donaldson said. “We had a guy who had been injured all season come back without doing many workouts or runs and he ran well for us.” Donaldson said he was pleased how the boys team ran overall. As individuals, he said they ran some of their best times of the season. “As a team, it’s not as good as we’ve done in the past but still a good performance for where we were in our season,” Donaldson said.
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January 2022 • A19
Project SAMson brings new edge to Samford athletics Samford wide receiver Montrell Washington enters the weight rep for the speed bench using Project SAMson, a new technology that monitors a variety of weight machine workouts for every Samford athlete, during morning workouts at the field house at Samford University. Photo by Erin Nelson.
By NEAL EMBRY A new initiative at Samford University aims to combine the latest in sports analytics and technology with the school’s athletic teams to both improve Samford student-athletes as well as offer real-world experience to students hoping to work on the health care side of sports. Project SAMson, launched in 2021, uses technology to collect highly-specific data about workouts, performances and more, allowing Samford coaches to use that data to better train and take care of student-athletes, and allowing students to gain real-world experience in learning how to track, assemble and use this data. Learning those skills could help them land front-office jobs across professional sports, said Darin White, director of the Center for Sports Analytics. “Analytics and data is really impacting sports big time,” White said. The Center for Sports Analytics is working with teams such as Birmingham Legion FC to allow students to take a deeper dive into statistics for use on the field. The center has also worked with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New Orleans Saints, which partnered with students who concentrated on the business side of sports. The Dodgers allowed a group of students to present revenue generator findings in 2021. This initiative is focused on the health care side of sports, and students learn to leverage the data that is collected to improve the lives of athletes on and off the field. Data will help determine when athletes should return to play following an injury, create more specific strength and conditioning plans, reduce injury risk and more. Cameras are now affixed to equipment in the weight room at the university, tracking performances, feeding information back to coaches such as how fast a player completed a rep, the velocity of the workout and more. Workouts can be adjusted as needed for each athlete, said Zach Mathers, director of strength and conditioning
for Samford’s football team. Data is used to create player profiles, instituting goals for each player, and is even tracked on game day. Players wear vests that track their every move, with thousands and thousands of lines of data being sent to coaches. All of the data helps coaches and trainers create individual programs for players instead of using a “cookie cutter” program for each athlete, Mathers said. “We’re able to really look at how to design practice,” Mathers said. The football team is buying into the program
as student-athletes see the connection between the data that is collected during workouts and games and the improvements that are possible for them, Mathers said. The players want to know their top speed, and they’ll let their teammates know, too, he said. “It’s created a sense of competition among them,” Mathers said. He also hopes the data is successful in preventing injuries and helping those who do get hurt bounce back more quickly, he said. With a full offseason set to follow the 202122 season, Mathers said he’s excited to spend
more time with the program, as the offseason leading up to this past season was only one month, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the new technology, Mathers said athletics got a boost when the university replaced everything in the weight room with the exception of the actual weights. While Mathers oversees football, he said each sport uses Project SAMson and has a roughly similar setup, though some technology is different for Olympic sports, he said. For more information on Project SAMson, visit samford.edu/programs/project-samson.
The Homewood Star
A20 • January 2022
Homewood’s Brian Condon (14) runs the ball as he shakes away from a tackle by Pelham linebacker Steven Ramos (42) in a Oct. 28 game at Waldrop Stadium. Pelham defeated Homewood 10-7. Photos by Erin Nelson.
All-South Metro Football
4 Patriots named get 2nd team nod
By KYLE PARMLEY The 2021 high school football season has come and gone, with the annual Starnes Media All-South Metro Football Team here to highlight the standout performances of so many players throughout the area. After winning Offensive Player of the Year in 2020, Oak Mountain quarterback Evan Smith is this year’s overall Player of the Year. He finished off a stellar high school career with another brilliant campaign, making contributions in all three phases of the game and showing great leadership as well. Clay-Chalkville took home a couple of honors, with running back Edward Osley claiming Offensive Player of the Year and Drew Gilmer being named Coach of the Year. The Cougars went 15-0, regularly blasting opponents with a devastating offensive attack. Mountain Brook linebacker John McMillan is the Defensive Player of the Year. He was one of the leaders on one of the best defenses in recent memory. The Spartans pitched seven shutouts in its 14 games, allowing 3.8 points per game in their 12 wins. ► Player of the Year: Evan Smith, Oak Mountain ► Offensive Player of the Year: Edward Osley, Clay-Chalkville ► Defensive Player of the Year: John McMillan, Mountain Brook ► Coach of the Year: Drew Gilmer, Clay-Chalkville
1ST TEAM OFFENSE►
► QB – Evan Smith, Oak Mountain: capped off an incredible high school career with 28 total touchdowns on the year. He rushed 1,110 yards and threw for 1,184 yards, leading the Eagles to the second round of the playoffs. ► QB – Khalib Johnson, Clay-Chalkville: put together eye-popping stats, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns on the way to a state title. ► RB – Edward Osley, Clay-Chalkville: rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and scored 32 touchdowns in a remarkable season. ► RB – James Hammonds, Hewitt-Trussville: at the top of the heap in Class 7A, rushing for 1,142 yards with 15 touchdowns. ► WR – Omari Kelly, Hewitt-Trussville:
Left: Homewood inside linebacker Henry Watson (40) moves in to make the stop on Gardendale wide receiver Jecorey Craig (6) in a Class 6A second round playoff game Nov. 12 at Waldrop Stadium. Right: Homewood quarterback Woods Ray (13) attempts a pass during a game against Briarwood on Oct. 22 at Lions Pride Stadium. Photo by Todd Lester.
led the area in receiving by a wide margin, hauling in 84 passes for 1,335 yards and 13 touchdowns. ► WR – Marquarius White, ClayChalkville: led the Cougars dynamic receiving corps, eclipsing 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns. ► WR – Jackson Beatty, Mountain Brook: led an experienced Spartans position group with 769 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdown. ► WR – Amare Thomas, Pinson Valley: hauled in 42 passes for 824 yards and nine touchdowns to lead the Indians offense. ► OL – Alex Moorer, Briarwood: a threeyear starter and the Lions starting center, finishing with 45 pancakes. ► OL – Riley Quick, Hewitt-Trussville: was the top lineman for a strong Huskies offense and a three-year starter. ► OL – Wilder Hines, Mountain Brook: only gave up two sacks all season. ► OL – Cameron Ambrose, Pinson Valley: the leader of the Indians line, grading out over 90% every game. ► OL – Hoke Smith, Vestavia Hills: led the Rebels offensive line with an 84% grade and 22 knockdowns. ► ATH – Cole Turner, Vestavia Hills: did a little bit of everything for the Rebels, hauling in 42 passes for 581 yards and seven
touchdowns, as well as accounting for touchdowns passing and returning punts and kickoffs. ► ATH – Cooper Griffin, Chelsea: moved to tight end this season and caught 51 passes for 640 yards and four touchdowns, while also serving as the team’s backup quarterback and playing on special teams. ► K/P – Peyton Argent, Hoover: made all 62 extra points and converted on 9-of-11 field goals.
1ST TEAM DEFENSE
► DL – Gavin Nelson, Oak Mountain: finished his career with a stellar campaign, finishing with 96 tackles, 15 for loss and six sacks. ► DL – Justice Finkley, Hewitt-Trussville: wreaked havoc everywhere, finishing with 96 tackles, 10 for loss and four sacks. ► DL – Garyson Maddox, Chelsea: finished with 67 tackles and five sacks while anchoring the Hornets’ defensive line in his third year as a starter. ► DL – Gray Doster, Mountain Brook: lived in the backfield for a dominant Spartans defense, finishing with 10 tackles for loss. ► LB – Jamarion White, Hewitt-Trussville: one of the top players in the area, racking up 127 tackles and scored a pair of defensive touchdowns. ► LB – DJ Barber, Clay-Chalkville: accrued 113 tackles and nine sacks in the
middle of the Cougars strong defense. ► LB – Jakhi Mullen, Oak Mountain: racked up 107 tackles with 16 for loss. ► LB – John McMillan, Mountain Brook: made over 100 tackles for the Spartans, 10 of them for loss, forced eight turnovers and contributed 15 quarterback pressures. ► DB – Reece Garner, Briarwood: finished with 106 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups and six receiving touchdowns in an outstanding season. ► DB – TJ Metcalf, Pinson Valley: added 95 tackles and four interceptions for the Indians. ► DB – John Ross Ashley, Vestavia Hills: intercepted four passes and recovered two fumbles. ► DB – Corbitt Grundhoefer, Oak Mountain: finished with 84 tackles and intercepted three passes in a single game. ► ATH – Garrett Murphy, Oak Mountain: contributed 128 total tackles, two sacks and two interceptions, while making several clutch field goals as well.
2ND TEAM OFFENSE►
► QB – Christopher Vizzina, Briarwood: showed his value as a true dual-threat for the Lions, throwing for 18 touchdowns and running
See ALL-METRO | page A22
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January 2022 • A21
The Homewood Star
A22 • January 2022 ALL-METRO
CONTINUED from page A20 for 16 more. ► QB – Bennett Meredith, Hoover: guided an explosive Bucs offense, throwing for 2,582 yards and accounting for 30 touchdowns. ► RB – Ahamari Williams, Hoover: scored 20 total touchdowns in a strong year, rushing for 1,171 yards. ► RB – Luke Reebals, Briarwood: despite battling injury much of the year, still scored 20 touchdowns with over 1,000 all-purpose yards. ► WR – Mario Craver, Clay-Chalkville: exploded onto the scene this fall, scoring 10 touchdowns and flying past 800 receiving yards. ► WR – Aron Marsch, Homewood: led a deep Patriots unit with 50 grabs, 634 yards and seven touchdowns. ► WR – Ethan Hammett, Oak Mountain: made several big catches for the Eagles and finished with 510 yards and six touchdowns. ► WR – Jay Butler, Briarwood: made big plays all season, racking up 527 yards and six touchdowns despite missing a few games. ► OL – Nic Rigdon, Oak Mountain: the senior right guard graded out at least 86% in every game. ► OL – Ethan Vickers, Chelsea: graded out 87% for the year in his second year starting for the Hornets. ► OL – Cooper Johnston, Homewood: has started 24 straight games for the Patriots and graded higher than 90% most games. ► OL – Nelson Crawford, Mountain Brook: senior leader for a Spartans attack that gained over 4,200 yards. ► OL – Luke Oswalt, Oak Mountain: the Eagles right tackle graded no less than 81% all season. ► ATH – Connor Ridderhoff, Chelsea: snapped on every extra point, field goal and punt for the Hornets without a miscue. ► ATH – Carter Milliron, Hoover: a steady and reliable long snapper for the Bucs. ► K/P – Mitchell Towns, Vestavia Hills: punted 36 times for a 37.9 yard average while also serving as the Rebels starting quarterback.
Left: Homewood wide receiver Aron Marsch (10) catches a pass in a Oct. 28 game against Pelham at Waldrop Stadium. Photo by Erin Nelson. Right: Homewood offensive lineman Cooper Johnston (59) helps hold off Huffman defenders during a Oct. 1 game at Waldrop Stadium. Photo by James Nicholas.
2ND TEAM DEFENSE
► DL – Devin Finley, Clay-Chalkville: racked up eight tackles for loss and seven sacks. ► DL – Holden Patterson, Briarwood: a great run defender who finished with eight tackles for loss and nine quarterback hurries. ► DL – Corey Warren, Hoover: anchored a Bucs defensive line with 48 tackles and five sacks. ► DL – Hunter Osborne, Hewitt-Trussville: finished with 60 tackles and 10 for loss, with 16 hurries and nine pass deflections. ► LB – Haddon Stubbs, Briarwood: a versatile player for the Lions defense who nearly reached 100 tackles. ► LB – Houston Owen, Vestavia Hills: posted 121 total tackles for the Rebels. ► LB – Henry Watson, Homewood: finished with 111 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. ► LB – Trent Wright, Mountain Brook: had 105 tackles as one of the top players for the Spartans. ► DB – Grey Reebals, Briarwood: picked off four passes for the Lions. ► DB – Mac McCowan, Mountain Brook:
broke up six passes and picked off a pair. ► DB – Brian Condon, Homewood: made 81 tackles in the Patriots secondary. ► DB – Jayden Sweeney, Clay-Chalkville: picked off three passes and made 46 solo tackles. ► ATH – Jaylen Mbakwe, ClayChalkville: made big plays for the Cougars on both sides of the ball, scoring eight receiving touchdowns, returning a punt for a touchdown and intercepting three passes.
► QB – Cade Carruth, Hewitt-Trussville; Woods Ray, Homewood; John Colvin, Mountain Brook; Zach Pyron, Pinson Valley ► RB – Cole Gamble, Mountain Brook; Will Waldrop, Mountain Brook; Michael Sharpe, Pinson Valley; Tucker Smitha, Vestavia Hills; Aaron Mason, John Carroll; Derrick Davis Jr., John Carroll ► WR – Ethan Anderson, Briarwood; Harvey Ray, Homewood; Jake Thompson, Mountain Brook; Keown Richardson, Vestavia Hills; Jabari Gaines, Hoover; Sky Niblett, Hoover; Cotton Peters, Hoover; RJ Hamilton, Hoover; Quad Harrison, John Carroll
► OL – Harrison Clemmer, Briarwood; Ryan Gunter, Hewitt-Trussville; Sawyer Hutto, Oak Mountain; Cameron Griffin, Pinson Valley; Carson Moorer, Pinson Valley; Jack Dawsey, Vestavia Hills; Hill Stokes, Vestavia Hills; Nelson Greiner, Vestavia Hills; AJ Franklin, Hoover ► ATH – Matt Miller, Hewitt-Trussville ► DL – Miller Stubblefield, Briarwood; Emmanuel Waller, Chelsea; Zach Smith, Oak Mountain; BJ Diakite, Pinson Valley; Caldwell Bussey, Spain Park; Andrew Sykes, Vestavia Hills; Lane Whisenhunt, Vestavia Hills; Markus Clark, Hoover; Terrell Jones, Hoover; Andrew Parrish, Hoover ► LB – Rodarius Sykes, Clay-Chalkville; Carter Engle, Homewood; Quinn Thomas, Mountain Brook; Carter Lehman, Oak Mountain; Mattox Vines, Oak Mountain; Jacobi Jackson, Pinson Valley; Davis Stewart, Vestavia Hills; Josh Carter, Hoover; Ashton Taylor, Hoover ► DB – Rickey Gibson, Hewitt-Trussville; Parker Sansing, Homewood; Jones Beavers, Mountain Brook; Braxton Dean, Mountain Brook; Jamari Mosley, Spain Park; Jackson Ayers, Vestavia Hills; Will Cox, Vestavia Hills; Jacob Finley, Hoover; Dale Miller, Hoover
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January 2022 • A23
The Homewood Star
A24 • January 2022
All-South Metro Volleyball Team selected 4 Patriots, 1 Cavalier earn 1st team honors By KYLE PARMLEY The high school volleyball season has been completed, with Mountain Brook winning the state title for the third straight year in Class 6A and Spain Park winning it all in 7A for the first time in program history. The number of standout performers this season was significant, making the fourth annual Starnes Media All-South Metro Volleyball Team one deep with talent at each position. This year’s overall Player of the Year award goes to Spain Park’s Audrey Rothman, who helped lead the Jags to the state title. Rya McKinnon wins the Offensive Player of the Year, capping off an incredible career for Hoover. Brooklyn Allison is the Defensive Player of the Year, as she was a vital part of the title run as well. Kellye Bowen and Mattie Gardner share the Coach of the Year honor, with both winning their first state title as head coaches. A Career Achievement Award was also designated for Hoover coach Chris Camper, who announced his retirement following the season. Camper compiled a 772-304 record and the 2020 state championship in 22 seasons. ► Player of the Year: Audrey Rothman, Spain Park ► Offensive Player of the Year: Rya McKinnon, Hoover ► Defensive Player of the Year: Brooklyn Allison, Spain Park ► Coaches of the Year: Spain Park’s Kellye Bowen and Mountain Brook’s Mattie Gardner ► Career Achievement Award: Chris Camper, Hoover
► Outside hitter – Audrey Rothman, Spain Park, senior: wrapped up an incredible high school career with 709 kills and 249 digs, and led the Jags to a 47-4 record and a state title.
Left: Homewood’s Olivia Outman (12) sets the ball during a Class 6A North Regional match Oct. 20 at Von Braun Center in Huntsville. Right: Homewood’s Haley Callaham (1) passes the ball during a Class 6A North Regional match. Photos by Kyle Parmley.
► Outside hitter – Rya McKinnon, Hoover, senior: finished up a five-year varsity career with Offensive Player of the Year honors for the second straight year, going for 696 kills and 395 digs. ► Outside hitter – Olivia Brown, Homewood, senior: helped lead Homewood to the state tournament for the first time in many years, finishing the year with 679 kills and 320 kills. She tallied more than 1,500 career kills. ► Outside hitter – Emily Breazeale, Spain Park, junior: a vital piece to the Spain Park team, going for 484 kills and 258 digs. ► Setter – Hannah Parant, Mountain Brook, sophomore: a first-teamer for the second straight year, racking up 1,173 assists, 365 digs and 170 kills to lead the Spartans to another title.
► Setter – Olivia Outman, Homewood, senior: put together a great senior season, racking up 1,066 assists (she finished with more than 1,800 in her career) and 249 digs. ► Libero – Brooklyn Allison, Spain Park, junior: hailed as the Defensive Player of the Year because of her work on the back row for the state champs, finishing with 386 digs. ► Libero – Haley Callaham, Homewood, senior: tallied 569 digs on the season and finished her career with more than 1,000 digs. ► Middle hitter – Greer Golden, Mountain Brook, senior: won the state tournament MVP award and surpassed 1,000 kills for her career; she also registered 388 kills and 109 blocks this year. ► Middle hitter – Poppy Moellering, John
Carroll, sophomore: finished with 272 kills and 49 blocks for the Cavaliers. ► Right side – Mackenzie Yoakum, Homewood, senior: capped off a strong prep career with a season of 292 kills and 143 digs. ► Right side – Bella Halyard, Spain Park, senior: tallied 360 assists, 120 digs and 94 kills as a versatile player for the Jags.
► Outside hitter – Lucy Redden, Mountain Brook, senior: the Spartans top hitter racked up 432 kills and 257 digs in a strong senior season. ► Outside hitter – Emma Pohlmann, Chelsea, junior: has already piled up impressive numbers in her career and went for 380
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January 2022 • A25
Clockwise, from above left: Homewood’s Mackenzie Yoakum (5) sends the ball over the net in a Class 6A semifinals match against Mountain Brook on Oct. 26 at the Birmingham CrossPlex. John Carroll’s Poppy Moellering (15) jumps to block a hit by Briarwood’s Lindsey Butler (10) in a Sept. 21 matchup at John Carroll Catholic High School. Homewood’s Olivia Brown (2) sends the ball over the net in a Class 6A semifinals match against Mountain Brook on Oct. 26 at the Birmingham CrossPlex. Photos by Erin Nelson.
kills and 322 digs this year. ► Outside hitter – Angelica Vines, Vestavia Hills, senior: had a great season as the Rebels’ captain, with 367 kills and 193 digs. ► Outside hitter – Savannah Gann, Vestavia Hills, junior: broke out in her junior campaign, going for 317 kills and 169 digs. ► Setter – Lilly Johnson, Spain Park, junior: was a key part of the Jags this year, running the offense to the pace of 772 assists. ► Setter – Kathryn Smith, Oak Mountain, senior: established herself as one of the top setters in the area, finishing her final campaign with 702 assists and 158 digs. ► Libero – Alexandra Carlson, Mountain Brook, senior: slid into a key role this year for the Spartans and had 460 digs. ► Libero – Anna Sartin, Chelsea, senior: racked up 469 assists for the Hornets. ► Middle hitter – Alice Garzon, Mountain Brook, sophomore: provided stability for the Spartans with 189 kills and 110 blocks. ► Middle hitter – Stella Helms, Briarwood, sophomore: had a strong year for the Lions, even in a tough area.
Right side – Jayni Thompson, Oak Mountain, senior: capped off a stellar career with 361 kills. ► Right side – Sims Kilgore, Mountain Brook, junior: finished with 194 kills, 45 blocks and 49 digs for the Spartans.
► Outside hitter: Lily Janas, Homewood; Hannah Hitson, Mountain Brook; Maria Groover, John Carroll; Lauren Buchanan, Chelsea ► Setter: Morgan Martin, Chelsea; Madison Moore, Chelsea; Baxley Downs, Hoover; Helen Macher, John Carroll; Jolee Giadrosich, Briarwood; Haley Thompson, Spain Park ► Middle hitter: Liv Myers, Spain Park; Morgan Scott, John Carroll ► Right side: Brooke Gober, Spain Park; Kendyl Mitchell, Hoover; Paige Ingersoll, Spain Park ► Libero: Audrey Vielguth, Vestavia Hills; Makayla Ragland, Oak Mountain; Bella Guenster, Hoover; Josie Scalici, John Carroll; Stella Yester, John Carroll; Peyton David, Hoover
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A26 • January 2022
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Jan. 14: vs. Briarwood. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18: @ Mountain Brook. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21: @ Chelsea. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25: @ Briarwood. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.
High School. Jan. 19: @ Moody. TBD. Jan. 27: Quad Match. 5 p.m. Homewood High School.
Jan. 28: vs. Mountain Brook. Girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5: @ Spain Park. 4 p.m. Oak Mountain Lanes.
Jan. 31: Boys @ Hoover. 7 p.m.
Jan. 6: @ Oak Mountain. 4 p.m. Oak Mountain Lanes.
WRESTLING Jan. 3: @ McAdory. TBD. Jan. 5-6: Regional Duals. TBD. Jan. 13: Susan Moore Quad. Susan Moore High School. Jan. 15: Grissom Invitational. Grissom High School. Jan. 18: Homewood Quad. Homewood
INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD Jan. 12: Hump Day Meet. Birmingham CrossPlex. Jan. 17: MLK Invitational. Birmingham CrossPlex. Jan. 28-29: Last Chance Invitational. Birmingham CrossPlex.
January 2022 • A27
PHOTOS OF THE YEAR
A look back at some of The Homewood Star’s best photos from 2021 Top left: Homewood’s Chandler Binkley (28) throws a pass as the Lady Patriots face Hoover in a flag football game at Hoover High School on Oct. 5. Photos by Erin Nelson. Above left: The Patriots celebrate after defeating McGill-Toolen 2-1 in the AHSAA Class 6A boys state soccer championship game May 8 at John Hunt Park in Huntsville. Above right: Steve Skipper, Homewood native and renowned artist, works on a commissioned painting of former Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden on March 29 in his home studio in Roebuck. Left: Percy Prann, 7, center, reads the book “No, David” to other students and Foxie, a 3-year-old Labrador and the facility service dog, at Edgewood Elementary School on Aug. 10. Below left: Liza Scott, 7, pours cups of lemonade for guests at Liza’s Lemonade Stand at Savage’s Bakery on June 24. Scott was collecting donations from her lemonade stand to help pay for the brain surgery she underwent in June. Below right: Willa Ustad, 3, giggles as she points up at the falling bubble suds used as fake snow Dec. 7 during the annual Homewood Christmas parade in downtown Homewood.
A28 • January 2022
The Homewood Star
Opinion Sean of the South By Sean Dietrich
Ordinary Days By Lauren Denton
Last words of the old year, first words of the new
Giving up rules for the new year
10:40 p.m. — New makes my year. Year’s Eve. Hank Williams is on my radio. 11:28 p.m. — I’m driving. My wife is My wife is sleeping in still sawing logs. I’m the passenger seat. My coonhound is in the riding through the north backseat. Florida woods, sipping To bring in the year, Coke. Trees grow so we’ve gone for a drive high you can’t see the on county roads that moon. It’s almost like weave along the Chocpoetry. tawhatchee Bay. Long ago, my colThere are no cars lege professor told us to Dietrich out. The highway is choose a poem to recite in class. Students chose vacant — except for police cruisers. I’ve never welcomed lofty selections from the greats. Whitin a year like this. man, Dickinson, Frost. As a boy, my father and I brought in I consulted Daddy’s Hank Williams holidays with shotguns. We’d march to songbook. He’d given it to me before he the edge of creation and fire 12-gauges died. He’d wanted to be a guitar player at the moon. Then, I’d sip Coca-Cola; once upon a time, but he was God-awhe’d sip something clear. ful. He gave the instrument to me. Another year goes by without him. I recited, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and made a D. 11:02 p.m. — My tank is on E. I stop I wasn’t doing it for the teacher. at a gas station. The pump card-reader is broken. My wife is still out cold. 11:40 p.m. — My Coke is almost I go inside to pay. The clerk is a empty. I’m parked on the edge of the young girl with purple hair. She wanted bay to watch fireworks. My coonhound to be with her kids tonight, but some- is looking at me with red eyes. And I’m one called in with a sinus infection. writing to you, just like I do every day. I buy a Coca-Cola in a plastic bottle. Listen, I don’t remember how I I also buy a scratch-off lotto ticket. started writing, or why. I have nothing The last few minutes of the year, I’m valuable to say, I don’t know any big feeling lucky. I use my keys to scratch words, and I’m as plain as they come. the ticket. I win $5. So, I buy another But I won’t lie to you, it has been pretwo. I win another dollar. cious to me. And so have you. “Lucky you,” the cashier says. These are my last words of the old “Wish I could buy one, but it’s against year, my first words of the new: store policy.” I love you. To hell with policy. It’s New Year’s Happy New Year. Eve. I buy her one. Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novShe swipes a coin from the take-a- elist known for his commentary on life penny tray. She scratches. She wins in the American South. He has authored $10. We high-five. nine books and is the creator of the It’s only $10, but seeing her win “Sean of the South” blog and podcast.
Sometime in early fall of last very thing — we overextend year, I did a thing with my social ourselves in so many ways, media. In a fit of desperation, I hid and we run around trying to every single person I followed. do this and do that, fix this and fix that. She said there’s Let me explain what that looks like: On Facebook I unfollowed a great Irish metaphor that everyone so that, while I’m still talks about how we spend all “friends” with all the same people, our time chasing the cows instead of just building a I now don’t see updates in my feed. On Instagram I muted everyfence. And I wondered, is one — I’m still following them, that what I’m doing? Is but no feed to scroll through. To my flimsy rule-setting and be completely honest, I did add attempts to minimize my Denton back a small handful into my distraction just me chasing feeds — school PTOs, a few farcows all over the place? flung friends who I’ll never hear anything about Maybe what I should be doing is building a unless I see them online, and a few people on fence that takes care of the problem once and Instagram who sell pretty things. (How else for all. I’m not sure there is a “once and for all” fix will I know about the latest Parris Flea Market here, at least not for me. Life is busy and chacutie or Tew Good Find or A. Edge earring?) This action came after countless rules I’d otic and unpredictable, and I’ve already shown put in place for myself over the last handful of myself to be an unreliable rule-follower, at least years, as social media has become the way most as it pertains to keeping myself on the social media straight and narrow. people communicate and entertain themselves. To fight back against my time wastage, some But as we sit here on the cusp of a brand-new of my rules have included: year, my hope is that this will be the year I get ► Social media only on Monday, Wednes- a firm grasp on my time. That I stop scrolling day and Friday. through Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of a metaverse ► I can post but no scrolling. utopia, searching for that one thing that will ► Check messages and comments every make me a better parent, wife, writer, friend, other day. pet-owner, housekeeper or decorator, and start ► Check them only once a week. feeding myself and my spirit by things that ► Take a 30-day break, then reevaluate. don’t depend on a good wifi connection. Things like reading good books, trying new The rules were meant to reduce my distraction, keep me from disappearing down an recipes and spending time outside in the sun internet rabbit hole and generally make me feel and cool breeze. Taking a walk instead of less scattered. In setting the rules, my hope is giving into the mindless newsfeed scroll, letalways to avoid that feeling at the end of the ting my own creativity bubble up instead of day when I realize how much time I lost during filling my mind with everyone else’s ideas, the last 12 hours because I repeatedly gave into and looking to scripture for peace and hope the temptation to “just check something really and purpose rather than the latest influencer-inquick”— usually when I’m procrastinating and spired deep dive into where I should find my putting off doing the thing I actually need to do. next great pair of jeans. I like a good rule to follow — a nice, shiny plan I’ve said it here before: I’m not a New Year’s or goal — so I’m great at sticking with my social resolution kind of gal. If I don’t make them, I media rules … for about a week. Then I start can’t be disappointed in myself if I don’t keep breaking the rules (for entirely justified reason, of them. (Pessimistic, I know, but also realistic.) course) and I’m right back where I started, feeling So I won’t call it a New Year’s resolution. I won’t even call it a goal. It’ll just be my overextended and distracted and edgy. intended destination. A landing place, if you I don’t know about you, but when I’m on social media too much (and depending on the will. A way to lay down the frenzied cow-chastime of year and my book publishing sched- ing and build a fence of rest and renewal and refreshment. And may the same be true for you, ule, it can feel like a lot), it ceases to be a fun thing. Instead of adding to my life and giving too. Happy New Year, friends. some sort of sustenance, it becomes a drain. When I’m not writing about my family It diminishes. And for me, all that distraction and scatter results in a dry writing well, which and our various shenanigans, I write novels turns me into a short-tempered and uptight and go to the grocery store. My novels are in Lauren. stores (locally at Little Professor and Alabama (Sidenote: I’m a full-fledged adult dealing Booksmith) and online. You can reach me by with this kind of stuff. My poor children won’t email at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit my be on social media at least until they’re 30.) website laurenkdenton.com, or find me on InsA few weeks ago, I listened to an interview tagram @laurenkdentonbooks or Facebook with an author talking about how we do this ~laurenkdentonauthor.
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January 2022 • A29
Homewood Real Estate Listings MLS #
1904 Kensington Road
625 Hambaugh Ave.
514 Columbiana Road
317 Poinciana Drive
129 University Park Drive
1841 Windsor Blvd.
714 Broadway St.
1714 Ridge Road
1903 Saulter Road
116 University Park Drive
108 Ridgemoor Drive
306 Redfern St.
109 Hermosa Drive
503 Yorkshire Drive
906 Broadway St.
1522 Roseland Drive
108 Malaga Ave.
200 Hollywood Blvd.
809 Sylvia Drive
328 Redfern St.
Real estate listings provided by the Birmingham Association of Realtors on Dec. 14. Visit birminghamrealtors.com.
1904 Kensington Road
109 Hermosa Drive
The Homewood Star
A30 • January 2022 Pedestrians walk along Reese Street toward businesses on 18th Street in Homewood. One of the city projects in 2022 will include adding sidewalks along Reese Street. Photo by Erin Nelson.
CONTINUED from page A1 The new trail is 1.5 miles long, and the trail as a whole is 4 miles and runs from Target near Brookwood Village to Wildwood. The shareduse path can be used by both bikers and pedestrians who run or walk on the path, Smith said. “It’s a great asset for our community,” Smith said. City Council President Alex Wyatt said the Shades Creek Greenway has been a “long, long project,” and the first phase has been “immensely popular.” “We feel like that will continue with this second phase,” Wyatt said. The project connects West Homewood residents to the Lakeshore area and Wildwood, Wyatt said, and is a priority of the city due to its ability to create shared recreational space.
Several sidewalk projects are coming to Homewood next year, including on Reese Street, Saulter Road and Lancaster Road. Wyatt said the Saulter Road sidewalk project was being bid in late December and is a “big and expensive” project that entails more than the usual sidewalk project. The plan is to connect the current sidewalk to a pocket park that’s also being constructed. The city was set to sign the lease for the park around mid-December, and to then move into design and construction of the park. The land where the park will be built is owned by Samford University, which is leasing it to the city. Amenities will be part of the process, but the park will be passive, Wyatt said. Reese Street sidewalks are also part of a larger process on that street, as the city will also add parking spaces in an effort to narrow the road and connect 18th Street and Central Avenue. Bids were due after press time for the Saulter and Lancaster projects, while Reese Street is going to bid first. The next phase of sidewalk building will be in West Homewood, Wyatt said.
OTHER CITY, STATE PROJECTS
The project at the intersection of Lakeshore
Drive and Interstate 65 will help ease congestion in that area. The project will create a diverging diamond that crosses traffic to the opposite side of the road at the bridge, allowing drivers to veer left onto I-65 without stopping. It will also allow vehicles approaching Lakeshore from the interstate off-ramps to merge into traffic without waiting for a light. The city is also paying about $332,000 to Kimberly Horn to create a stormwater master plan focusing on the Griffin Creek area. It includes the area between Valley Road and Green Springs Highway and is where most stormwater-related complaints come from. The study will take inventory of existing structures and will also see the creation of an online dashboard of infrastructure so the city can monitor them, Smith said. It will also include a maintenance plan for the public works department, along with recommended updates to the city’s stormwater ordinance. The project should take between four to six months to complete and will yield a number of projects the city can choose to undertake to improve stormwater issues, along with the maintenance plan and updated ordinance, Smith said. On Green Springs Highway, Wyatt said the city is adding medians, landscaping, sidewalks and crosswalks in an effort to revitalize that
area. The city may also add sidewalks toward Lakeshore, concentrating on linking Broadway Street to Oxmoor Road.
A company has purchased the Brookwood Village mall, along with Macy’s and the Brookwood Office Center, with plans for redevelopment. In August, Fairway Investments and Pope & Land Real Estate sent out a press release announcing plans to redevelop Brookwood Village with a team including the services of Goodwyn Mills Cawood, DAG Architects and others, with Colliers International and Arlington Properties also acquiring contracts. Sims Garrison, chief operating officer and president of Fairway Investments, said in the release, “We are looking forward to working with the cities of Mountain Brook and Homewood to try to transform the struggling mall into something more appropriate and representative of the communities it serves.” There has not been much communication between the owners and the city since then, Wyatt said. Tim Wright with Markstein, which represents part of the owners group, said there was no further comment as of press time. Collier and Arlington made public presentations in October, but no further action
was taken. Wyatt said the most likely role for the City Council to take would be any rezonings that were needed. At Wildwood, several new restaurants and businesses were set to open either in late 2021 or in 2022, including Whataburger, Chipotle, a remodeled Chick-fil-A and Aspen Dental.
HOMEWOOD CITY SCHOOLS
In the city’s public school system, Homewood City Schools will create its sixth fiveyear strategic plan, helping craft a vision for the future of the school system. “The strategic planning process is made of community members, business leaders, students, and school staff and is a significant commitment for everyone involved. Our schools’ tremendous success is thanks to the strong strategic plans that have been in place in our school system,” said HCS Superintendent Justin Hefner. “This process will identify the goals, aspirations, and perspectives of our schools and transform them into the priorities for our school system over the next five years.” The process began in fall 2021, drawing together stakeholders from across the community. The school system utilized the Schlechty Center, a non-profit organization that provides strategic consultation, targeted advice, and technical assistance to district and school leaders to create engagement-focused schools and school districts. All of the data and information will be compiled to allow school leaders to define the system’s “core values, mission, and the future goals of Homewood City Schools,” said the school system’s communications director, Merrick Wilson. The team will come together this spring to finalize the “goals and direction” and present it to the Homewood Board of Education for approval, Hefner said. “This process is a true example of Homewood’s love and commitment to our children and our schools. We are fortunate to have such a great school system already, but I am excited to see how we will challenge ourselves through this new strategic plan and grow even stronger as a school system,” Hefner said.
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January 2022 • A31
Your Local Roofers
Mixed martial arts fighter David Clark is preparing for his second professional fight in the B2 Fighting Series 145 on Jan. 29. Clark made his debut as a professional MMA fighter in August. Photo by Erin Nelson.
CONTINUED from page A1 Lee, which outlines the first mixed martial art created by Lee. “I was the type of guy in school who, if we didn’t finish the textbook or the lesson, I’d read the whole textbook,” Clark said. “I did the same thing when it came to martial arts.” The library at his middle school had several books on different fighting styles that piqued his interest, including judo, karate and boxing, he said. After years of training and amateur fights, Clark made his debut as a professional fighter, defeating fellow featherweight fighter Rae Thomas in the B2 Fighting Series on Aug. 28. Clark won the fight in the first round with a finishing time of 2:23. He said he was able to take advantage of Thomas’ weak ground game and get him on the floor, where Clark was able to attack and get the referee to stop the fight. While in school, Clark’s newfound interest in martial arts gave him an opportunity to learn to defend himself, he said. He said he struggled with bullying from an early age, but martial arts taught him not only to defend himself but also not to care about how other people perceive him. He said there was one bully in particular who picked on him mercilessly in school. When Clark was prepared to fight his bully, he asked him why he always picked on him, he said. He discovered that the bully was threatened by his demeanor, accusing Clark of thinking he was better than everyone else, he said. He learned, through martial arts, not to care about how other people perceive him and also how to express his “freedom,” he said. “The more freedom you have, the more conflict you’ll have in life,” Clark said. “To learn how to master conflict and be comfortable with it is learning how to master your freedom.” Clark said he learned from Lee that the most difficult thing for people to do is to express themselves freely at that moment, without worrying about impressing people, as well as being mindful. Conflict is inevitable and permeates every part of life, he said. Martial arts is being comfortable with threats, not just physically but also through identity — such as racism, Clark said. “That’s what martial arts is all about and what solving problems is about,” Clark said. “To be aware of your surroundings and to implement yourself accordingly.” Clark’s passion transferred from the library to his local boxing gym in his hometown of Gadsden, where he was also able to practice his karate footwork he learned from watching YouTube videos, he said. “With the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, you have to be aware of the pitfalls of each style,” Clark
Martial arts, to me, is a way to show people that if you give yourself time and effort to master yourself, you can do all kinds of things.
said. “In karate, you don’t have any hands. In boxing, you have hands.” Soon after, he was competing in boxing, wrestling and jiu jitsu, all at the same time, he said. Clark said he is fascinated by the world by and large and sees martial arts as a way to see the world differently. It has exposed him to different Eastern philosophies as well as different schools of thinking from different cultures and how they are expressed, he said. For example, a principle of jiu jutsu is to “bend but not break,” he said. Another is from Tibetan Buddhism and its three levels of generosity: material generosity, time and fearlessness. Fearlessness is a way of giving people a different view of how to “obtain the world,” Clark said. “People will come to me and tell me that they’re not strong enough to do martial arts, don’t have the mental fortitude to defend themselves, make themselves fit or learn new things,” Clark said. “Fearlessness is teaching people that through their actions and their time, they can do that.” Martial arts teaches people to be in command of their thoughts when they are under threat, and this can’t be done alone, which is what makes it “beautiful,” Clark said. “It’s been around for thousands of years,” he said. “The things I’ve learned have been passed down from generation to generation from other people. You have to open your mind and accept that you don’t know things. When you accept that you don’t know things, you can’t be a jerk.” Clark is currently preparing for his next fight and to launch his new program, the Blue Belt Initiative, he said. The Blue Belt Initiative will teach personnel from different police departments in Jefferson County the fundamentals of jiu jitsu with the general populace at Spartan Fitness, he said. “Martial arts, to me, is a way to show people that if you give yourself time and effort to master yourself, you can do all kinds of things,” Clark said. “Martial arts is like a thermostat to show you that principle.”
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