Hoover Sun May 2023

Page 1


Nonprofit fills gaps to nourish stomachs, spirits, souls

It was the fall of 2018, and Kelly Greene was attending her usual 5 p.m. Sunday mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church when she felt God telling her she needed to start a food truck to serve people who are homeless or hungry and disadvantaged.

She and her family for years had volunteered at shelters and food pantries, but when she and her husband, Joe, became empty-nesters, they started praying for God to show them the path to take for the next chapter of their lives.

Greene said God clearly spoke to her that Sunday evening that He wanted them to start a food truck.

See FOOD | page A30

How hard is it for a 15-year-old from Hoover to make it into the summer intensive training program of the Royal Ballet School in London?

“Impossible,” said Pam Sayle, owner of the Alabama Dance Academy in Hoover. That is — unless you’re Meghan Gutowski.

year, 2,458 students from all over the world applied, and only 659 were accepted, a school official said.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Gutowski said.

Her love of dance began at an early age.

“When I was 3, I would always dance around the house,” Gutowski said.

Gutowski, a 15-year-old freshman at Spain Park High School, will be among the select students headed to the prestigious ballet school in July for the one-month experience. Numbers for this summer were not available, but last

See BALLET | page A28

Record Seeker Swing Batter!

Her mom had never been into dance, and until that point, their family had mostly been involved with her brother’s sports. Hoover



man seeks to break speech Guinness World Record.
gears up for 27th SEC Baseball Tournament.
A4 City A6 Business A10 Events A18 Schoolhouse A22 Sports A24 INSIDE facebook.com/hooversunnews
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May 2023 | Volume 11 | Issue 8
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Kelly Greene, founder of Food for Our Journey, picks out a doughnut for a person in need as she provides them with fruit, water and other necessities during a morning delivery route in downtown Birmingham on March 9. Photo by Erin Nelson.
Hoover 15-year-old chosen for summer intensive at Royal Ballet School in London
Gutowski, 15, a sophomore at Spain Park High School, runs through a ballet routine at the Alabama Academy of Dance on April
Gutowski is attending the Royal Ballet School in London this summer. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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About Us


Have you ever known what it’s like to be hungry — I mean truly hungry?

I’m not talking about just getting a stomach growl because it’s been a little while since you’ve eaten. I’m talking about going without food for days.

I have done some extended fasts before for spiritual reasons, and I did indeed get hungry. But it’s one thing to be hungry because you CHOOSE to go without food and another thing to be hungry because you can’t afford to buy food. I’ve never been at that point.

God has blessed me with enough resources to always have the food I need to survive. But there are times in some people’s lives when circumstances leave them without income, and they have a hard time finding and keeping a job. They can lose their homes and have no money for food, either.

The Bible in 2 Thessalonians talks about how people shouldn’t be able

Note By Jon Anderson

There are times when physical problems make it hard for people to work. For others, it could be an emotional or mental problem. Sometimes, people fall on hard times and need help in getting back on their feet.

We’re fortunate to have people in our community who go the extra mile to care and show love to people going through hard times — and go on that journey with them. I hope you’ll read this month’s cover story about Kelly Greene and the Food For Our Journey nonprofit.

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A4 • May 2023 Hoover Sun
Hoover’s Bella Foran, center, smiles as she celebrates with her teammates after hitting a homer in an area game against Vestavia Hills at Jim Brown Field on April 12. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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City employees get bonuses totaling $500,000

The Hoover City Council in April approved nearly a half-million dollars’ worth of bonuses for city employees.

The bonuses range from $100 to $1,000, depending on employees’ years of service and full-time or part-time status.

For part-time employees, the bonus is $100 for those with 1 to 4 years of service, $150 for 5 to 9 years of service and $200 for 10 or more years of service. For full-time employees, the bonus is $500 for 1 to 4 years of service, $750 for 5 to 9 years of service and $1,000 for 10 or more years of service.

The city of Hoover has 605 full-time employees and 66 part-time employees, and more than half of the full-time employees (306) have 10 or more years of service, records show. The total amount of bonuses going to full-time employees will be $489,250, while bonuses for parttime employees total $9,250, for a grand total of $498,500.

Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said the city government had a very good year financially in the 2022 fiscal year and he and the City Council want to reward employees for a job well done.

Both department heads and city employees in general were good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brocato said. “I am constantly getting compliments from people about every segment of employee operations about how well they do,” he said.

The city ended fiscal 2022 with record general fund revenue collections of almost $157 million, which was $34 million more than expenditures, Chief Financial Officer Tina Bolt said.

The City Council in June approved a policy to bolster the city’s general fund reserves so they

can cover six months’ worth of expenses. The council also set up a “rolling reserve” account to help the city more easily weather potential economic downturns or emergencies in the future.

That policy requires the council to predict a 4% increase in revenues for each budget year and to spend only 70% of that increase and save the other 30% in a budget stabilization fund.

Bolt initially projected city revenues would decline slightly in fiscal 2023 to $155 million, but tax revenues so far are coming in stronger than expected, Bolt said.

As of the end of February (five months into the fiscal year), the city already had received $85.3 million in revenues, which is 53% of the

total revenues that had been projected for the full year, Bolt reported. Expenditures for the same period were $49.1 million — just 35% of the estimated budget.

That means the city’s general fund has $33 million more than it was expected to have at this point in the year, putting the city’s expected general fund balance at the end of the year at $115 million, Bolt said. Ten million dollars of that will be needed for capital projects in 2024, she said.

Instead of declining, sales tax revenues were up $2.5 million from the same period last year, Bolt said. That demonstrates continued growth in consumer spending through the end of

February, with holiday sales in December providing a substantial increase in city revenues in January, Bolt said.

“Current market trends reflect consumer spending decreased in February, after a large increase during the holidays,” Bolt wrote in a memo to the mayor and council.

“Wage growth among consumers rose unexpectedly in February 2023 but is starting to soften from 2022, driving inflation upwards,” Bolt wrote. “Consumer spending has remained stable in retail but reflects a decline in dining, auto and home stores. Economists predict a recession before the end of 2023. The city of Hoover remains in a strong financial position.”

A6 • May 2023 Hoover Sun
Mike Frost, left, and Jordan Pittman, service technicians in the city of Hoover’s fleet maintenance department, check for a coolant leak in a Hoover Police Department Chevrolet Tahoe on April 17. They and other city employees received a bonus from the Hoover City Council in April.
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Mayor’s Minute

April showers bring May flowers and one of the busiest times of the year for our city. That includes the SEC Baseball Tournament, an event that has grown tremendously in the last few years. Lots of other cities would love to host it, but we are determined to keep it in Hoover and to do what it takes to remain a strong, viable contender.

That’s why incorporating upgrades to the Hoover Met Stadium are a big chunk of a bond issue recently passed by our City Council. Of the approved $85 million, roughly $15 million will go toward improving the Met. Potential projects include an upgrade in seating, improvement of the concession stand area and the parking lot. Every year, the tournament brings roughly $15 million to city coffers. No doubt, it’s a key event we certainly want to keep.

The remaining $70 million of the bond issue will be split between two other major projects. One of those is the creation of a new interchange off Interstate

459. It’s something I’ve been working on since I first got elected to office. But it wasn’t my vision, rather one that had been cast years before. However, I feel led to bring that vision to reality, and we move closer to doing so every day. Earlier this year, the Alabama Department of Transportation approved the project and will pay half of the $120 million cost. That leaves the remaining $60 million to the city.

The other major project is the creation of a Center for the Arts that has a projected cost of roughly $17 million. A location for the center has not been finalized yet.

While all these plans are certainly exciting, it is imperative that we approach them pragmatically and prudently. Our goal is to maintain and improve the quality of life each of you, our residents, deserve.

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Zoning board rejects wholesale store, gas station in Inverness

The Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission in April unanimously rejected a developer’s request to put a big-box wholesale store and gasoline station on 20 acres off Valleydale Road in Inverness.

However, the developer said he plans to appeal the decision to the Hoover City Council, so the issue isn’t over.

The zoning board’s decision came after hearing roughly two hours of discussion and significant opposition from nearby neighborhoods, including Beaumont, Danberry and Inverness Highlands.

Alumni Properties & Investments is seeking to build a 103,000-square-foot big-box wholesale store with a tire center and 16 gasoline pumping stations, plus at least eight other retail buildings, on wooded land at the corner of Valleydale Road and Inverness Center Drive, across from Inverness Corners and next to Inverness Plaza. The preliminary plan included 189,000 square feet of buildings.

The developer, Keith Owens, did not specify the name of the big-box business or other potential tenants, but numerous residents who have had meetings with the developer identified it as a BJ’s Wholesale Club store, and Owens did not refute that assertion.

Alumni Properties and Investments does not need any zoning approval to build the wholesale store because the property already is zoned for planned commercial use. However, the developer does need approval for the gas station, and he told the zoning board that is a critical part of the wholesaler’s business model.

About 100 people attended the April 10 zoning board meeting, and many spoke vehemently against the proposal, citing increased traffic, safety and environmental concerns and a loss of property values for nearby residential areas.

“There is absolutely no need for additional gas pumps or gas stations in this immediate

area,” said Gary Kitchen, a resident of The Cottages at Danberry community.

There are six gas stations along U.S. 280 within a mile of this location, and four of them are within half a mile, Kitchen said. There is no need to put unwanted gas stations closer to the residential communities along Valleydale and Inverness Center Drive, he said.

Mike Mazer, president of the Lake Heather Estates Homeowners Association, said residents already are concerned with excessive runoff and sewer contamination of the private 100-acre Lake Heather, and adding a gasoline station with 16 pumps in an area that drains into the lake will add to the problem.

Doug Dickinson, a resident of The Cottages at Danberry, said Inverness Center Drive

already is a major cut-through between Valleydale Road and U.S. 280. Adding more traffic, especially truck traffic, could be dangerous because it’s a curvy road with blind spots, he said.

Cody Lytton, director of plant operations for the Danberry at Inverness senior living community immediately behind this proposed commercial site, said he is extremely concerned for the safety of residents.

Lytton questioned the purpose of this development. He’s all for profitability for companies, but “attempting to create profit at the expense of residents and senior citizens entrusted to my care is very disturbing to me,” he said. “I feel like it is shortsighted at best and totally reckless at worst.”

A traffic study conducted by Skipper Consulting for the developer anticipates the new development would add 999 vehicle trips in the midday peak hour and 892 vehicle trips in the afternoon peak hour.

The study recommends a new traffic signal at the Inverness Corners entrance near Milo’s, new turn lanes to get into the development, extension of existing turn lanes and a modification to allow two lanes to turn right off eastbound U.S. 280 onto Valleydale Road.

Hoover City Planner Mac Martin noted that this site has been zoned for commercial development since 1990 and that the city’s comprehensive plans calls for commercial development in this vicinity. He also noted that the developer altered the layout of his development after listening to residents’ concerns in a community meeting in March and agreed to put an 8-foot-tall fence or wall and landscaping shrubbery between the development and the Danberry at Inverness retirement community.

But the zoning board sided with residents. Board member Jason Lovoy said he thought residents came very well prepared and made convincing arguments about why this was not a good idea. Zoning board member Ben Wieseman said he was surprised the developer did not do more to answer the litany of concerns.

Owens said he plans to appeal the rejection to the City Council but declined to comment more about the vote.

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This map shows the proposed location of a 20-acre commercial development with a wholesale club store and gasoline station at the corner of Valleydale Road and Inverness Center Drive in Hoover (shown here next to the Danberry at Inverness retirement community). Photo by Jon Anderson.
There is absolutely no need for additional gas pumps or gas stations in this immediate area.

Bluff Park man creates The Hoover Channel to archive council meeting videos

When the city of Hoover removed at least five years’ worth of Hoover City Council and zoning board meetings from the city’s YouTube channel last year and stopped livestreaming and recording the general public comment portion of each council meeting, it bothered Bluff Park resident Robin Schultz.

It bothered him so much that Schultz — who runs a computer repair, network and website support business — did some tech digging and found most of the videos online in a place where most people wouldn’t know to look.

He then created a new website, YouTube channel and Facebook page called The Hoover Channel and put all the old City Council meeting videos online again so everyone can have access to them. The Hoover Channel went live on Jan. 26.

He believes the videos serve an important role to document history and to help hold city officials accountable for things they have said and done, he said. “Transparency is really what it boils down to,” said Schultz, who unsuccessfully ran for Hoover City Council in 2016 and 2020.

At first, that was all Schultz planned to do. But then he decided to bring his own video camera to the council meeting and record the entirety of each action meeting, including the public comment period at the end of the meeting that the council was no longer recording.

Council President John Lyda and some other council members said they didn’t think it was important for cameras to record general comments that the public had to say, although several other council members said they preferred for public comments to be livestreamed and recorded.

No city official has taken responsibility for the initial decision to remove the videos or quit recording public comments, but Lyda drafted a “compromise” policy after the fact that allows for videos of council action meetings to stay online for 60 days or until after those minutes

are approved, whichever occurs later.

But after those 60 days, the videos disappear.

Schultz started downloading a copy of the city’s recorded videos before they are deleted and adding them to The Hoover Channel. However, because more recently there has been a day’s delay in the recorded videos being available on the city’s YouTube channel, Schultz started posting his own recordings instead.

While Schultz does come to council meetings, he doesn’t make the recordings himself. His 14-year-old grandson, Jackson, works part-time for him and is handling the video recordings.

Schultz does the formatting of the videos and downloads them to The Hoover Channel. It takes him about 2½ hours after each

meeting, he said.

Schultz said he got the idea for The Hoover Channel from a similar effort at the state level by the League of Women Voters Alabama Education Fund. That organization created The Alabama Channel to archive meetings of the Alabama Legislature. The Legislature livestreams its meetings but doesn’t record them for future viewing, so the League of Women Voters Alabama Education Fund does.

“We believe every citizen should have access to not only live but recorded footage of legislative meetings,” the organization says on The Alabama Channel website.

The state meetings are not just available for viewing. Through a partnership with a Colorado-based organization called the Open Media

Bluff Park resident Robin Schutlz, at right, has created a website, YouTube channel and Facebook page called The Hoover Channel to archive videos of Hoover City Council meetings. Behind him, his 14-yearold grandson, Jackson Schultz, checks a video camera at a Hoover City Council meeting March 20.

Foundation, the Alabama legislative videos on The Alabama Channel are searchable so people can more quickly locate discussions of particular bills or issues.

Schultz said he contacted the Open Media Foundation and plans to enter a similar partnership that will allow people to search videos for discussion of certain topics. The partnership also will allow him to post meeting agendas, copies of ordinances, resolutions and agreements being considered, and meeting minutes, he said.

“It’s super cool. I’m pretty pumped about it,” Schultz said.

Visit The Hoover Channel at thehoover channel.org, or look for it on YouTube or Facebook.

HooverSun.com May 2023 • A9
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Business Happenings


Iraq War veteran James “J.D.” Deer has opened a new firearms and ammunition store called Redland Rifle Co. at 4755 U.S. 280.

205-797-1911, redlandrifle.com

Prudence and Brad Kauffman have opened a new gift boutique called Blackbird by Dear Prudence at 4441 Creekside Ave., Suite 117, in the Patton Creek shopping center. They have another location of Blackbird by Dear Prudence in Northville, Michigan.


Greystone Diamonds is now open inside Greystone Marketplace at 5475 U.S. 280. They offer a full-line of diamonds and jewelry, including new and vintage pieces. They also make custom jewelry and offer jewelry repair.

205-573-6017, greystonediamonds.com

tice features an on-site dental lab, which provides for faster service, and a cone-beam computed tomography scanner for a more accurate image of a patient’s mouth. The office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. 205-338-2915, affordabledentures.com

Buff City Soap held a grand opening for a store at 4745 Chace Circle in the Chace Lake area on April 5. 205-777-5465, buffcitysoap.com

An urgent care center called Southern Immediate Care has opened in the former location of MedCenter Hoover at 1575 Montgomery Highway. The center is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. 205-822-1150, southernimmediatecare.com

Longtime Hoover resident Mike Miller on March 24 started a franchise business called ProLift Garage Doors, doing installation and repairs of residential garage doors and garage door openers. ProLift Garage Doors has about 100 locations across the country, but this is the first one in Alabama, Miller said. 659-209-5651, proliftdoors.com


JP Morgan Chase Bank has started construction on a new Chase Bank branch in the Stadium Trace Village development in Hoover. The bank will be on the corner of John Hawkins Parkway and Stadium Trace Parkway behind Aldi. The other Alabama locations are in Auburn, Tuscaloosa and downtown Birmingham as well as another new location currently under construction in Homewood. chase.com


Affordable Dentures & Implants, led by Dr. Kim Shannon, has opened an office at 5239 U.S. 280. The prac-

The Alabama Press Association has relocated from

600 Vestavia Parkway, Suite 291, in Vestavia Hills to 2180 Parkway Lake Drive in Hoover’s Riverchase community. 205-871-7737, alabamapress.org

Tameron Hyundai is making progress on a $10 million project to demolish and replace or renovate its buildings at 1595 Montgomery Highway. The dealership tore down its main 12,238-square-foot sales and service building and is replacing it with a 38,372-square-foot building, General Manager Blake Braden said. The other 3,440-square-foot building that has been for sales of used vehicles, formerly a Longhorn Steakhouse, will be remodeled and probably will be converted for use as a wholesale parts department, Braden said. 855-427-7414, tameronhyundai.com

Hendrick Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has started construction on a new two-story, nearly 21,000-square-foot building after tearing down its former building at 1628 Montgomery Highway. The new building will include a showroom and sales support offices, an expansion to three service lanes, a new service lounge and parts boutique. The facility also is expanding from 31 to 37 service bays. Construction is estimated to be completed in the third quarter of 2023. 205-545-8074, hendrickchryslerdodgejeepram.com


Bud’s Best Cookies at 2070 Parkway Office Circle was chosen as a recipient of the 2023 Governor’s Trade Excellence Award as an example of an Alabama business that has achieved extraordinary results in international sales and contributed to Alabama’s increased ability to compete in a global market. The company is to be recognized at a luncheon in May at the state Capitol. 205-987-4840, budsbestcookies.com

Tommy Sisson, a certified public accountant and man-

A10 • May 2023 Hoover Sun Business
Business news to share? If you have news to share with the community about a brick-and-mortar business in Hoover, let us know at hooversun.com/about-us Mr. Handyman is taking care of Hoover’s “To-Do” List ® like us on follow us on 205-606-0800 Give us a call! Independently owned and operated franchise.© 2022 Mr. Handyman SPV LLC. All rights Reserved MrHandyman.com Visit mrhandyman.com to learn more about our services All of our technicians are full-time employees and all of our workmanship is guaranteed. Honest. Transparent. Easy to work with and e cient. We humbly aspire to earn your business. Thank you! A message from Gaynell Hendricks, Jefferson County Tax Assessor CALL 205-325-5505 VISIT jeffconline.jccal.org Four Offices: Hoover | Gardendale Center Point | Downtown Birmingham Open Mon.-Fri. 8-5 Attention Jefferson County Homeowners Ask about the special senior tax exemption Scan with your smartphone camera to access the portal or visit www.jccal.org Homeowners 65+ are eligible for exemptions on property taxes.

aging member of Warren Averett’s Birmingham office, has been appointed to serve as the chairman of the board of directors for the Birmingham Zoo. Sisson has served on the board for more than 10 years. His term as chairman will last two years. He has been with Warren Averett for 40 years. He also is a part of The Rotary Club of Birmingham, the Monday Morning Quarterback Club and the Birmingham Business Alliance and serves on several other boards.

205-979-4100, warrenaverett.com

Alabama’s second largest credit union, APCO Employees Credit Union, has merged with Atlanta-based Powerco Federal Credit Union effective April 1. Both credit unions serve employees of Southern Company and its affiliates. APCO has four locations in the Birmingham area, including at 4725 Chace Circle and 6400 Tattersall Park Drive in Hoover.

205-226-6800, apcocu.org

America’s First Federal Credit Union, with locations at 3312 Old Columbiana Road and #2 Inverness Center Parkway, was selected as a 2023 Credit Union National Association Diamond Award winner for its 2022 annual report video. Each year, the credit union produces a video featuring company highlights. The 2022 video highlighted accomplishments such as 19,270 new members added, 13,971 new checking accounts, $560 million in new loans and a 2021 Summer of Freedom campaign, which received more than 1 million impressions and generated 2,248 new memberships. Additionally, America’s First raised its financial management assets by $9 million to a total of almost $107 million, brought in 87 new benefit partners through financial education offerings and completed 207 new enrollments in 2021. The video also addressed the credit union’s efforts during the global COVID-19 pandemic, providing 193 additional PPP loans to businesses in need and loaning $14.5 million to build local businesses throughout the community. 205-823-3985 and 205-995-0001, amfirst.org


Avadian Credit Union, which has its headquarters at 1 Riverchase Parkway S. and branches in Hoover at 4720 Chace Circle and 420 Old U.S. 280, has promoted DonnaMarie Tyler to senior vice president of deposits and retail strategy and Jeff Skipper to senior vice president of marketing and digital services. 205-985-2828, avadiancu.com

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System, which has primary and specialty care offices at Stadium Trace Village, the Medical West UAB emergency medical department in Hoover and other offices in Inverness and Greystone, has filled two senior positions in its leadership team. Brenda Carlisle was named CEO of UAB Hospital, and Susan Jennings has been named the chief financial officer for the Health System. Both had been serving in their respective roles in an interim capacity. Before assuming the position as interim CEO in November 2022, Carlisle had been vice president of clinical operations for UAB Hospital since 2017. Prior to joining UAB, Carlisle was chief operating officer, vice president of patient care services and vice president of operations at Brookwood Medical Center. She has more than 30 years of experience in nursing management and health care operations in medical facilities throughout Alabama and Florida. Jennings has more than 35 years of experience within the healthcare industry serving in a variety of roles focused on organizational financial health and strategic financial decision-making. Her responsibilities include financial reporting and budgeting for the Health System and UAB Hospital, as well as overseeing any debt/financing initiatives across the enterprise. She joined UAB in 2006. Prior to being named interim CFO of the Health System, she had been CFO of UAB Hospital since November 2018. 205-989-7254, uabmedicine.org

Dr. Joey Jones of Rocky Ridge Chiropractic at 2531 Rocky Ridge Road #112 is moving his practice to merge with Legacy Chiropractic at 2100 Data Park Circle, Suite 100, in Hoover. Dr. Jones's last day at Rocky Ridge

will be April 28, and his first day at Legacy Chiropractic will be May 1. He is joining Dr. Steve Johnson and Dr. Terri Jones. Dr. Chase Horton, who also was at Rocky Ridge Chiropractic, has gotten out of chiropractic work and is now running a new podcast company and doing real estate.

205-985-9888, legacychirohoover.com

Bella Harbert has joined the staff at Burn Boot Camp Hoover at 1021 Brock's Gap Parkway #121 in The Village at Brock's Gap as an ambassador at the front desk. Harbert is a senior at Hoover High School, where she has been a cheerleader for three years. Burn Boot Camp has been part of her life since 2017, when her mother, Tiffany (who is Burn Boot Camp's systems and operations manager) was a member at a location in Georgia. Burn Boot Camp’s head trainer at the Meadow Brook location led workouts for Harbert’s cheer team in 2021 before joining Burn Boot Camp.

205-335-1884, burnbootcamp.com/hoover

Hair stylist Gracen

Mitchell has moved from T. Fox SalonSpa at 2080 Valleydale Road #7 to Haven Space Salon at 5291 Valleydale Road #125. She particularly enjoys doing dimensional hair color and custom hair cutting.

205-582-2600, haven spacesalon.com


Little Donkey, with locations in Homewood, Montgomery and Greystone, is celebrating 11 years of business this year.



PNC Bank is closing its branch at 2641 Valleydale Road on June 23. It is one of four branches in Alabama and 47 branches in 14 states closing. Others closing in Alabama are on 20th Street in Birmingham and in Mobile and Montgomery. The PNC Bank branch on Valleydale Road is asking customers to close out their safety deposit boxes by June 16.

205-297-6278, pnc.com


The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) announces the opportunity to obtain information on:

Project: New I-459 Interchange

New Interchange on I-459 near MP 9, Includes Auxiliary Lanes from the New Interchange to Exit 10, Bridges over I-459 and Ramp Bridges over the Railroad, City of Hoover


The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) announces the opportunity to obtain information on

Hoover Family YMCA

2250 John Hawkins Parkway, Hoover, Alabama 35244

Project: New I-459 Interchange

Thursday, May 25, 2023 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

New interchange on I-459 near MP 9, Includes auxiliary lanes from the New Interchange to Exit 10, Bridges over I-459 and Ramp Bridges over the Railroad, City of Hoover

This will be an Open-House meeting without a formal presentation. Project information, including maps and comment forms, will be available for review. Representatives from the City of Hoover, the City of Hoover’s Design Consultant and the Alabama Department of Transportation will be available to answer questions.

Hoover Family YMCA 2250 John Hawkins Parkway Hoover, Alabama 35244

Thursday, May 25, 2023 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Online presentation available: www.ALDOTinvolved.com

Project Area

This will be an Open-House meeting without a formal presentation. Project information, including maps and comment forms, will be available for review. Representatives from the City of Hoover, the City of Hoover’s Design Consultant and the Alabama Department of Transportation and the will be available to answer questions.


Mr. DeJarvis Leonard, P.E. East Central Region Engineer 1020 Bankhead Highway - West Birmingham, Alabama 35204

Online presentation available: www.ALDOTinvolved.com

Attn: Mrs. Sandra F. P. Bonner


Mr. DeJarvis Leonard, P.E. East Central Region Engineer 1020 Bankhead Highway - West Birmingham, Alabama 35204

Attn: Mrs. Sandra F. P. Bonner

HooverSun.com May 2023 • A11
Carlisle Jennings

Realtor plans 4-story bed and breakfast near Hoover Met

A Hoover Realtor is pursuing plans to build a four-story bed and breakfast facility near the Hoover Metropolitan Complex.

Jordan Masaeid-Hosey’s company, HBH Realty, has purchased a 2.4-acre piece of property at the corner of Stadium Trace Parkway and Mineral Trace, across from Brock’s Gap Brewing Co., and wants to build a bed and breakfast with 18 suites, each able to accommodate 6-10 people, she said.

The lodging facility also would have a spa and breakfast/brunch café on the ground floor and rooftop bar and pool, Masaeid-Hosey said.

Because the Hoover City Council in February decided to mostly ban short-term rental properties in residential neighborhoods, MasaeidHosey is trying to provide an Airbnb-like experience in an area zoned for light industrial use near the Hoover Met.

There is a strong demand for short-term rental properties in Hoover, especially among people coming to take part in the many sports tournaments at the Hoover Met Complex, she said.

Most of the people who come to those events don’t come alone, Masaeid-Hosey said. They come in groups that like to stay together, she said.

Hotels work for some groups, but others like to have a lodging experience that allows them to stay and hang out together instead of being broken up into separate hotel rooms, MasaeidHosey said. Short-term rentals of single-family homes gave people that option, but now that is no longer available, she said.

Masaeid-Hosey, who has a short-term rental business called GameOn BnB, was left scrambling to find short-term rental properties where people could stay outside of the city because it’s no longer legal to do so in single-family neighborhoods in Hoover, unless for a special event

and for less than seven days a year, she said.

That motivated her to move ahead with the bed and breakfast idea. She already was contemplating the idea near the Hoover Met but initially had put a lot of contingencies on her offer to buy the property, she said.

After further evaluating the demand and possibilities for success, she later removed the contingencies and bought the property for $440,000, she said. “I know the area is ready for it.”

Some residents in neighborhoods near the Hoover Met Complex in 2017 staunchly opposed commercial development near the Met, including the idea of a hotel. Opposition arose again in 2019 when the city hired a consultant to study the feasibility of a hotel on city property at the complex.

Masaeid-Hosey said her proposal is much different than a hotel with 700 rooms. Her bed and breakfast would be much smaller and more quaint, she said. “It’s kind of like a hotel and Airbnb hybrid,” she said.

Plus, “this is not an entry-level property,” Masaeid-Hosey said. “This is an extremely upscale, luxury, high-end-looking property. We plan on creating an experience like Hoover has never seen before that is going to be an asset to the community. It’s very elegant. It’s very sexy. It’s very sleek.”

Rental rates likely would start at $500 per night, she said.

Masaeid-Hosey, who lives not far away in Blackridge, said she already has talked to some people in neighborhoods near the Met who are excited about what she wants to build and supportive of the idea. “People are really looking forward to it,” she said.

She immigrated to the United States from Jordan in 1999 as a child and graduated from Hoover High School. She’s not some out-ofstate real estate person who doesn’t know anything about what the people of Hoover want,


she said. “I know what my community wants. I know what my neighbors want.”

The four-story bed and breakfast likely will cost more than $10 million to build, MasaeidHosey said. She already has talked to several investors who are interested in fully funding it, but she would retain an ownership interest, she said.

Masaeid-Hosey was able to get the Hoover

City Council to amend its zoning ordinance to allow short-term rentals in light industrial zones, but she still must get conditional use approval from the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission and Hoover City Council for this particular project.

HBH Realty also is getting ready to open an eight-suite bed and breakfast in Helena called Buck Creek BnB in May.

A12 • May 2023 Hoover Sun
This building design by Tres31 is the type of design that HBH Realty would like to use for a proposed four-story bed and breakfast in Hoover. Rendering courtesy of Tres31.

Hoover chamber has first female chairwoman since 2012

April DeLuca knows what it’s like to juggle responsibilities. She’s a partner in a family law firm, has been married 13 years and has three children 5 and younger, and now she’s the new chairman of the board for the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Pray for me, please,” she told the Hoover chamber in her first luncheon as chairman, noting her young children.

DeLuca is the first woman to lead the chamber’s board of directors since 2012, when hotel manager Kathleen Spencer was president.

DeLuca said she’s proud to represent women in a role like this and honored to be able to serve as chairwoman.

“There have been a lot of great people in this role,” she told chamber members when she began her duties. “I’m just very humbled that y’all have chosen me to kind of help step in there.”

DeLuca has been involved with the chamber since 2014, serving as chairwoman of the chamber’s ambassadors for two years shortly after joining. She then became the chamber’s legal advisor in 2016 and in 2021 was named second vice chairwoman, which put her in line to become president this year.

DeLuca follows David Custred, director of operations for American Computer Consultants, who was chairman last year. DeLuca said she’s had the opportunity to watch a lot of leadership styles over the years and learn from each leader.

“I’m very excited to take this next step and be part of some changes we have coming that are going to shape the future of this chamber,” she said.

The chamber in May of last year launched a new three-year strategic plan called Elevate Hoover with three key goals: fostering economic growth, being a stronger voice for businesses and cultivating talent in the workforce.

“We’ve done a lot of work, but we’re only getting started,” DeLuca said.

Historically, the Hoover chamber has been

known as a networking group, DeLuca said.

“That’s still going to be a part of what we do, but we don’t want that to be the only thing we do,” she said.

The chamber wants to champion initiatives

to help the city grow and prosper economically, she said. The city’s economic development department, under the leadership of Greg Knighton, has done a great job of creating a positive business climate, she said.

For example, Knighton’s team developed a central hub to help businesses get started or expand in Hoover, providing information about things such as business licenses, taxes, zoning and permits for construction and food and alcohol sales.

Chamber leaders hope to strengthen that collaborative partnership and work hand in hand with the city, she said.

DeLuca was part of the 2022 graduating class of Leadership Hoover and helped with a project to create a database of all the businesses in Hoover. That database will be maintained and updated by the chamber and should serve as a resource for economic development and for business owners and event planners, she said.

The chamber also is looking to expand the services and programs it offers and find new ways for businesses to connect and invest in the chamber and the growth of the city, DeLuca said. Not everyone can break away from their business to attend a networking luncheon, but the chamber still values those people and their contributions, she said.

The chamber wants to help business owners with things such as startup tips and succession planning, and help individual employees with career advancement advice, DeLuca said. Recruiting and growing the kind of workforce that Hoover’s economy needs to thrive is another priority, she said.

DeLuca originally is from Prattville, graduating from Prattville High School in 2005 and Auburn University at Montgomery in 2008, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and focus on accounting. She then graduated from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 2012.

She worked about a year for an investment banking advisory firm called FHL Capital before forming a law partnership with two other lawyers. That firm took on the name Magic City Law in 2014 and specializes in family law, such as divorce, adoptions, child custody, juvenile delinquency, dependency and assisted reproductive technology contracts.

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April DeLuca, a founding partner of Magic City Law, is the 2023 president of the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Jon Anderson.

Hoover man seeks to break speech Guinness World Record

A Hoover man is trying to break a Guinness World Record for the most speeches given in a 24-hour period.

Patrick O’Mara, a subrogation analyst for the State Farm insurance company who has a side business providing training in public speaking, wants to break the Guinness record of 30 speeches in 24 hours, which was set in 2018 in Gujarat, India, by a man named Piyush Vyas. O’Mara’s goal is to do 40 speeches in 24 hours, and his target date is June 8.

There are certain conditions that must be met for each speech to qualify for the Guinness World Record. Each speech must be an unscripted, unique speech that lasts at least 10 minutes, which means he can’t give the same presentation 40 times, or even twice.

Each speech must be in a different venue, and each venue must be capable of seating at least 50 people. Also, there must be at least 10 people in the audience at each speech, with no duplicate audience members.

In order to achieve his goal, O’Mara has calculated that he must give 2½ 10-minute speeches every hour over the course of 16 hours, since getting audiences in peak sleep times is unlikely. That means he will need to give the speeches in close proximity to one another to limit travel time, he said.

O’Mara is actively looking for venues in the Hoover area that can seat at least 50 people and where he can arrange an audience for his speeches. As of early April, he had 25 preliminary venues arranged, including four Hoover fire stations, the Hoover Public Library, Hoover Senior Center and Hoover Recreation Center. About half his venues are outside Hoover but nearby.

So what does O’Mara plan to talk about? His plan is to draw from a box of fortune cookies at each venue and speak on whatever topic is written down on the paper inside the cookie.

He already has been practicing. He obtained two boxes with more than 300 fortune cookies

and has been reading through the fortunes and developing speeches, he said. As of early April, he had gone through at least 100 fortune cookies, he said.

Of course, he’s not guaranteed to get the same topics when the actual day comes, but he’s gaining practice on developing speeches in the spur of the moment, he said. A company called Digital Motion Event Services in Homewood plans to film each speech for documentation.

O’Mara believes having achieved the Guinness World Record will serve as a good marketing tool for his public speaking business, which is named Pro Presenting. He conducts training for both individuals, companies and

organizations. Two of his biggest clients are the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Southern Co., he said.

He also does public speaking training for construction management engineering graduate students at UAB to help them improve their “real world” presentation skills.

He has six UAB students in a business entrepreneurship program who are helping him plan and arrange this Guinness World Record attempt, as a part of a senior project to help someone grow their business.

“It’s been a huge learning opportunity for the students from a small business standpoint,” he said. “I just want to grow my business.”

O’Mara already has been in touch with the

Guinness World Record organization. He submitted an application to be considered for a world record attempt, and at first, months went by without a reply, he said. Then he finally heard back from Guinness and has been working with the organization since November on the details for his world record attempt.

Anyone who is interested in providing a venue in the Hoover area on June 8 or being an audience member at one of O’Mara’s speeches can contact him at 205-914-0602 or patrick@propresenting.com and include your name, name of your company or organization, your company’s physical address and website address and whether you have a venue that seats at least 50 people.

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Patrick O’Mara speaks with a group of patrons at Brock’s Gap Brewing Co. as he demonstrates his plan to break a Guinness World Record for the most speeches given in 24 hours on April 6. O’Mara is attempting the world record on June 8. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Fitting wigs with purpose and style

Jenny Thompson, manager of Anita’s Wig Shop, was happy to relocate her business from Hoover to Inverness and open up new possibilities and services for women and men in the area.

Anita’s Wig Shop has been in business in Birmingham for over 20 years. The shop was previously located in the Riverchase Galleria and Patton Creek, before the recent move to Inverness.

“Anita retired and left a great legacy,” Thompson said of the original owner. “She sold the shop, which is now under new ownership, but the new owner kept the same name.”

While the new owner prefers to do behind-the-scenes work, Thompson and her coworker, Sally Blackerby, are the faces of the shop.

Operating as both an online and brick-andmortar store, Anita’s Wig Shop is part of an industry that is important for a number of reasons. Thompson explained that purchasing a wig can be a confusing and emotional undertaking.

At first, the choices of many different features, fibers and constructions can be overwhelming, but Thompson and Blackerby are there to serve customers through the sometimes-surreal process.

“We are there to help you find what you need in order to get you the best fit, features and wig that you need,” Thompson said.

Clients can browse the website first for the selections, then visit the store and try them on. If they are interested in a different feature, texture or color, that can be ordered. The shop keeps several hundred wigs in stock.

Currently, Anita’s carries 10 collections: nine for women and one for men. However, these collections change based on customer’s needs and unique fit as well.

Thompson said the Raquel Welch Collection is the best-selling collection, while the

regular synthetic and heat-friendly synthetics are also top sellers.

“The reasons for [customers] coming into the shop are numerous,” Thompson said. “The responses I often hear include hair thinning, hair loss, thyroid and hormone-related issues, auto-immune, medication side effects, shoulder surgery, traveling on vacation, convenience for women that are caretakers and confidence/looks.”

Often, patients from Grandview Cancer Center will have treatments and hair prosthesis procedures and then make a stop at the shop afterwards, Thompson said.

“It’s an emotional thing to lose hair,” she said. “These women and their situations

Anita’s Wig Shop

► Address: 5291 Valleydale Road, Suite 107

► Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Saturday

► Phone: 205-733-2044

► Web: anitaswigs.com

pull at our heartstrings. Wig shopping can be healing, and there’s a big community of ‘wig sisters’ waiting to befriend you.”

Thompson said her duty at Anita’s Wig

Shop is to make her clients feel better and more confident after walking out of the shop.

In addition to wigs, the shop offers hats with hair attached, turbans, toppers (women’s toupees to help with hair thinning on top), hair extensions, clip-in pony tops and up-do ponytails.

Working at Anita’s Wig Shop over the last five years has become meaningful work for Thompson, and she knows the clients have gone through so much.

“We are excited to bring the services to this side of town and to answer any questions that seem Greek to anyone. It is its own niche, and we are educators and not salespeople,” she said.

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Jenny Thompson and Sally Blackerby are the faces of Anita’s Wig Shop and work to make their clients feel more confident in their wigs. Photos courtesy of Derek Thompson.

An optimized outlook on wellness

Dr. Lee Goldenberg, owner of Greystone Chiropractic, is always looking for ways to provide optimal care and services for his patients.

Goldenberg has worked the last 17 years as a chiropractor, 11 of them at Greystone, where he witnessed firsthand the need for wellness services for his patients to perform and heal better.

The chiropractic profession led Goldenberg to open up his new business venture: Element Wellness Center. After building his Greystone Chiropractic business, he used the extra space to lay the foundation for a wellness center to offer extra services.

“The more I work with patients, the more I know what they need and where they hold their stress,” Goldenberg said. “I am able to track their nutritional assessment and it becomes very helpful. It is a beneficial relationship.”

The Element Wellness Center opened in Tattersall Park in July 2022, right next door to Greystone Chiropractic. In fact, the building is a suite. Some individuals are clients to both businesses.

“It’s a one-stop shop,” Goldenberg said.

Element Wellness focuses on balancing what Goldenberg called the eight elements of natural wellness: oxygen, water, cold, rest, light, heat, movement and nourishment.

“Total wellness is a state of optimal biochemical and physical well-being,” he said.

The spa offers an array of services including IV infusions, cryotherapy (cold therapy), red light therapy, infrared sauna, yoga and nutritional consulting.

For example, cryotherapy is useful for those recovering from injury and strenuous activities. Goldenberg said infrared sauna treatment can increase weight loss and lower blood pressure.

“My overall goal in health is optimization — I take care of people to keep them well,” he said. “These things help to keep them well instead of repairing damage.”

The most popular service currently at Element Wellness is the IV infusion. Goldenberg believes infusions can be helpful for anti-aging, treating skin and increasing weight loss, fighting body toxins, treating migraines, dehydration, restoring lost nutrients and enhancing energy and mood.

The IV infusion most clients choose is the Myers’ Cocktail, which leaves them feeling “rejuvenated and refreshed,” he said. It is composed of magnesium chloride, calcium gluconate and vitamins C, B-12 and B-complex.

In late spring/early summer, clients can come to Element Wellness for cryo skin treatments to

tighten up or tone loose skin.

Currently, the spa only offers services through packages and add-ons, but there are no memberships.

Goldenberg said, “Health is an investment and not an expense. Investing in your health is the best thing we can do for our future. If people place value on an iPhone, then they must shift their values. We only get one body.”

The Element Wellness Center is currently operated by Goldenberg, a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant and is open three days a week. Request a booking online at elementwellness.me.

Element Wellness Center

► Address: 6600 Tattersall Lane

► Hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; Tuesday and Friday by appointment only

► Phone: 205-326-7333

► Web: elementwellness.me

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Brooke Carter, nurse practitioner, and Dr. Lee Goldenberg, of Greystone Chiropractic, at Element Wellness Center at Tattersall Park. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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True Crime podcasters to host event in Bluff Park

Lindsay Moryoussef and Jenn Blakeney are coming up on six years of their podcast, “Corpus Delicti — The Body of a Crime,” and this month they are bringing other true crime podcasters to the area for a special event.

True Crime Live Birmingham is set for Saturday, May 6, at Wild Roast Cafe in the Bluff Park Shopping Center in Hoover from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Joining the duo at the event will be six other podcasters:

► Already Gone

► Crime on the Record, another Birmingham podcast

► Our True Crime Podcast

► Southern Gothic

► True Crime Bull Sh**

► Killin Missin Hidden

Moryoussef, a resident of Highland Lakes, and Blakeney, a resident of Ross Bridge, did their first live show in 2019. They had to pause those events during the pandemic, but now they and others in the true crime community are ready to get back to it.

It was during a podcasting event in Chicago that the idea for True Crime Live was born.

“We were all in the podcast festival in Chicago and some of the bigger names were there,” Blakeney said. “A lot of the independent podcasters got together and said, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ We didn’t want to wait until next year's podcast festival to get to hang out again, so that's what spawned these live events.”

The duo attended True Crime Atlanta in December 2022 and said they enjoyed getting to meet listeners and collaborate with other podcasters.

“The first one in Atlanta was intentionally

held at a local business to try to spotlight some of these really awesome local businesses and have a more intimate setting, where we can chat with the listeners and interact and make the story more engaging,” Moryoussef said. “We like being able to sit down and hang out with people. It feels like hanging out with friends in a cool local business you might not know about otherwise.”

After missing True Crime Albuquerque in March, they decided to host one in Birmingham. They chose Wild Roast Cafe not only because they held their first live event there, but also because Moryoussef previously worked with one of the owners.

Summer membership special: $25 Class locations: Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Hoover, Vestavia Hills and Gadsden

Where curiosity never retires. olli.ua.edu | 205-348-6482

“They get the community together and also have a shop inside that supports local artists,” she said. “It’s a great Birmingham-specific business.”

Blakeney said that gathering a variety of independent podcasters gives listeners the chance to experience different ones.

“A lot of our show is supporting other independent podcasters. It's all a big community and we’re all out there trying to support each other,” she said.

Corpus Delicti has over 230 episodes and will return from a break after the event this month. Their show topics are listener-driven, and their miniseries will focus on crimes

committed in the medical field, where people take the opportunity of their medical position to do harm.

Tickets for the event are $20 and available at wildroastcafe.com/events, and proceeds will go toward a surprise food box for Rocky Myers, an Alabama inmate on death row whose story has been featured on Corpus Delicti.

“This whole case has insight into the big cracks out there in the justice system,” Moryoussef said. “We are limited in what we can do for him, but we like to try to do what we can to let him know there are people out there who are listening to his case.”

Enjoy retirement and make new friends!

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at The University of Alabama offers a wide variety of intellectually stimulating, non-credit courses and learning opportunities designed for adults “50 and better”. A year-round, member-centered and member-led program, OLLI provides opportunities to learn new things, make friends, travel, and embrace life.

Offering educational courses as well as entertainment through classes, bonus sessions, field trips, socials, special events, and travel, OLLI courses cover a wide range of topics and are taught by volunteers who share their knowledge and passions. You’ll find no homework, no grades and no required degrees - just learning for fun!

Classes offered in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Hoover, Vestavia Hills and Gadsden.

For questions or information about joining OLLI, call the OLLI Office at 205-348-6482 or email us at olli@ua.edu

A18 • May 2023 Hoover Sun
Lindsay Moryoussef and Jenn Blakeney, of the Corpus Delicti podcast, sit around Moryoussef’s dining room table April 5. Moryoussef and Blakeney are hosting the True Crime Live event in May. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Walks/runs set in May for Hoover area

Several walks and runs are planned in and around Hoover in May to raise money for various nonprofits. Here are some details on a few of them:


The Donate Life Alabama nonprofit, which educates people about organ, eye and tissue donation and encourages people to register to donate, is having its fourth annual Donor Dash for Life 5K at Veterans Park in Hoover on Saturday, May 6.

On-site registration is at 8 a.m., and the 3.1mile race is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. The cost is $30, plus a $3.95 signup fee, but organizers also encourage people to form teams to raise money to support the cause, said Ann Rayburn, secretary for the nonprofit’s board of directors.

As participants run the course, organ recipients, organ donors and their families will cheer on the runners, Rayburn said.

The first year’s race was held virtually in 2020, and the in-person race has grown from 90 people in 2021 to 136 last year, Rayburn said. Last year’s race raised about $4,000, and this year organizers hope to attract at least 150 people and raise at least $5,000, she said.

Prizes will be given to the team that raises the most money and the team that demonstrates the best spirit, Rayburn said.

For more information or to register, go to runsignup.com/Race/Events/AL/Hoover/ DonorDash4Life5K.


The Arthritis Foundation has scheduled its 2023 Alabama Walk to Cure Arthritis for Sunday, May 7, at Veterans Park in Hoover.

This year, the walk is being held on a Sunday afternoon rather than a Saturday morning, and is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

The aim is to honor the 59 million people in the United States who battle arthritis and raise money to find better treatments and a cure for the disease, which causes pain in people’s joints and can reduce mobility.

The Walk to Cure Arthritis is the flagship fundraising event for the Arthritis Foundation. People are encouraged to form teams to both

raise money and participate in the event.

The goal this year is to raise $50,000. As of April 5, 39 people on 10 teams had signed up for the Alabama walk at Veterans Park and had raised more than $3,100, according to the Arthritis Foundation website.

For more information or to register to walk or raise money, go to events.arthritis.org.


The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Birmingham-area Great Strides Walk is moving from Hoover’s Veterans Park to Wald Park in Vestavia Hills this year.

The foundation decided to move the walk after many years at Veterans Park because it could no longer reserve space in the park pavilion, said Jennifer Holley, the development director for the foundation’s Alabama chapter.

Plus, Wald Park is more centrally located for the Birmingham area, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this past year developed a strong partnership with the Student Government Association at Vestavia Hills High School, which raised $64,000 this past fall for the foundation, Holley said.

This year’s Birmingham Great Strides Walk is scheduled for Saturday, May 20, with check-in at 9 a.m. and the walk beginning at 10 a.m.

About 225 people participated in last year’s walk and raised at least $115,000, surpassing last year’s goal of $98,500, Holley said. The goal this year is $125,000. As of April 5, about $13,000 already had been raised or pledged, according to the foundation’s website.

The Birmingham walk is one of seven Great Strides Walks held throughout the state. The first is April 15 in Montgomery, and others are April 22 in Tuscaloosa and Dothan, April 29 in Mobile and May 13 in Huntsville and Auburn.

Last year, the foundation raised about $450,000 statewide, and this year’s statewide goal is $480,000, Holley said.

People are encouraged to create fundraising teams, getting people to sponsor them in the walk, either individually or as a group, but that’s not a requirement for participation, she said.

To register for the Birmingham Great Strides Walk, go to cff.org/alabama and click on “Events” to find the Birmingham walk.

HooverSun.com May 2023 • A19
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Runners and walkers take part in the 2022 Donor Dash for Life 5K at Veterans Park in May 2022. Photo courtesy of Donate Life Alabama.

Mobile mayor to speak at Hoover Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast

Mobile Mayor Sandy

Stimpson is scheduled as the speaker for the 2023 Hoover Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, to be held Tuesday, May 2, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel.

Stimpson, who first took office as Mobile’s 108th mayor in 2013, was reelected in 2017 and 2021.

Stimpson spent 37 years with his family’s Gulf Lumber Co. and its successor, Scotch & Gulf Lumber. He worked his way up through the company and eventually served as chief financial officer and executive vice president before leaving to run for mayor in 2013.

Since Stimpson took office, he has worked to put the city on a stronger financial footing. The city reduced its bonded indebtedness by nearly $100 million and unfunded liabilities for pension and benefits by $200 million, which led to credit rating increases from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

During the same period, Mobile’s government built a reserve fund big enough to cover two months’ worth of expenses and provided multiple pay increases to its employees.

Stimpson also launched a “Map for Mobile” initiative designed to provide infrastructure improvements, a “One Mobile” campaign to make the city a “safer, more business- and family-friendly city,” and the city’s first supplier diversity program.

Stimpson graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in civil

Grace Klein to hold first golf tournament to help feed hungry

The Grace Klein Community is holding its first golf tournament to raise money for its FeedBHM program to respond to food insecurity and hunger in the Birmingham area.

The tournament is scheduled to be held Thursday, May 25, at the Ballantrae Golf Club in Pelham.

It is being named the Waverly Advisors/ Oliver Waltman Golf Invitational, in honor and memory of Oliver Waltman, who was a key volunteer and supporter of the Grace Klein Community and participant in the FeedBHM initiative. Waltman lived in the Ballantrae community and was a member of the Ballantrae Golf Club.

engineering. He has served on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Alabama, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Alabama Policy Institute, Business Council of Alabama and University of Alabama President’s Cabinet.

He and his wife, Jean, have been married since 1975 and have four children and 14 grandchildren. They are longtime active members of Ashland Place United Methodist Church.

The Hoover Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, organized by the Hoover Beautification Board, is scheduled from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Retired WBRC-TV news anchor Janet Hall is to serve as mistress of ceremonies, and ministers scheduled to participate in the program are the Rev. Tony Johnson of Riverchase United Methodist Church and the Rev. Vernon Huguley of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church.

Tickets to the breakfast cost $35, or $350 for a table for 10, and can be obtained through the Hoover Library Theatre box office at ci.ovationtix.com/35586.

Grace Klein’s goal is to have a minimum of 20 teams (80-100 golfers) this year. The cost is $150 per golfer, which includes green fees, a golf cart, lunch, on-course refreshments, a swag bag, practice balls and a door prize. For an extra $25, golfers also buy two mulligans and a “power drive” to use in their game.

Registration and practice is from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with lunch offered from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Golfers will receive instructions at 12:45 p.m. and tee off at 1 p.m. There will be an awards ceremony with appetizers at 5:30 p.m.

Prizes will be given to the winners of three flights and for golfers who shoot the longest drive, closest to the pin on two par-3 holes or a hole in one. There also will be an award given for last place.

Waverly Advisors is the title sponsor, and presenting sponsors include The Welch Group and Freedom Financial. Grace Klein still is seeking other sponsors, with packages ranging from $500 to $5,000.

The FeedBHM program fights hunger by collecting food from restaurants, grocers and cafes and distributing it to hungry people. In 2021, the program put more than

1 million pounds of food into the hands of 40,000 families.

To register to play in the tournament, go to gracekleincommunity.com/golf-invitational-individual-signup. For more information about being a sponsor, go to gracekleincommunity. com/golf-invitational-sponsorship.

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Top: Oliver and Zonia Waltman. Photo courtesy of Grace Klein Community. Above: Grace Klein Community’s FeedBHM program fights hunger by collecting food from restaurants, grocers and cafes and distributing it to hungry people. Photo by Erin Nelson.
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Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson speaks at a press conference in January 2020. Stimpson will be the speaker for this year’s Hoover Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Photo by Jon Anderson.
HooverSun.com May 2023 • A21

School board rejects bid for Bumpus athletic upgrades

The Hoover school board in April voted to reject a bid to upgrade the athletic facilities at Bumpus Middle School after the lowest bid came in higher than school officials had budgeted. However, the board approved renovation work at the Riverchase Career Connection Center.

The proposed project at Bumpus involved new home bleachers, restrooms, a concession stand, lighting, a press box and fieldhouse for the football field and a press box and lighting for the softball field.

School officials budgeted $4.45 million for the project, but the lowest bid — from Blalock Building Co. — came in at $4.5 million for the base part of the bid and a total of $5,363,000 when alternate projects were included, such as the storage building and softball part of the project, said Matt Wilson, the school system’s director of operations. The second bid was significantly higher, Wilson said.

Superintendent Dee Fowler recommended the school board reject the bids and said he would like to break the project into smaller, more affordable pieces and take another look at the project for the next fiscal year.

“We don’t want to drag our feet,” Fowler said.

A similar athletic field upgrade is

planned for Berry Middle School, but planning for that project has trailed the Bumpus project.

The school board did approve a bid from Duncan & Thompson Construction to convert one classroom at the Riverchase Career Connection Center into a cosmetology and barbering classroom, with the equipment for such instruction.

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The school board initially received only one bid for the project — from Jared Building Co. — and chose in March to reject that bid and authorize central office staff to try to negotiate a lower price. The original bid was about $625,000, and school officials had anticipated the cost to be in the $360,000 to $370,000 range, Wilson said.

Over the next month, Wilson got Jared Building Co. down to about $594,000, but Duncan & Thompson offered to do the project for about $578,000, so the school board went with Duncan and Thompson.

School board President Amy Tosney noted that the school system is familiar with Duncan & Thompson and knows that company does

good work, and Wilson concurred.

The school board also amended its fiscal 2023 budget to reflect the actual fund balance at the beginning of the fiscal year, carryover federal funds from the previous year, additional state and federal revenues, which were unknown at the time the original budget was passed, and a new projected ending balance.

The beginning fund balance was $122.3 million, which was about $729,000 more than had been projected due to unfilled employee positions and capital projects that were delayed due to the increased costs of building materials and labor, Chief Financial Officer Michele McCay said.

The system also carried over $6.5 million in federal funds from the previous fiscal year and has received about $1.3 million in state and federal money that had been unanticipated, including money for the Alabama Reading Initiative and special education needs, McCay said.

The new projected ending balance on Sept. 30 is $104.7 million, which is about $500,000 more than originally anticipated and still enough to cover six months’ worth of school system expenses, McCay said.

The Hoover school system still expects to dip into its reserves by $14.2 million to pay for various capital projects this fiscal year, she said.

A22 • May 2023 Hoover Sun
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Kelly named Miss Basketball to cap stellar career

The Alabama Sports Writers Association acknowledged this year what those within the Hoover High School girls basketball have believed for many years: that Reniya Kelly is the best player in Alabama.

Kelly was named Miss Basketball by the ASWA, while Baker’s Labaron Philon was named Mr. Basketball.

Kelly helped lead Hoover to a third consecutive state championship this season, as the Bucs compiled a 35-1 record. She averaged 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5 assists per game to cap off her career.

“She deserves it and has deserved it before now, and I’m glad they acknowledged that with an award,” Hoover head coach Krystle Johnson said. “It was already a known fact.”

The University of North Carolina signee finished with 2,272 career points, the most in Hoover history, and was a four-time all-state player.

“I was happy that they picked me,” Kelly said. “I felt like I deserved it because of how the season went. I’ve put in a lot of hard work to be recognized.”

Kelly gives Hoover an unprecedented third Miss Basketball winner, joining Sidney Spencer (2003) and Marqu’es Webb (2013) as previous winners of the award.

Kelly was a part of four state championships during her varsity career and was also named the Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year for the season.

“It took a lot of hard work, patience and fight to get here,” Kelly said.

Johnson said Kelly’s Gatorade Player of the Year banner was recently hung in the gym at Hoover and no one will wear Kelly’s No. 10 jersey again.

“She’s made it where nobody will ever forget her name,” Johnson said. “All of it is a testament to the hard work she’s put in. We can all look back on her career and say it was a job well done.”


In addition to Kelly’s accolades, Lady Bucs Layla Etchison and Alanah Pooler were recognized as part of the Class 7A all-state team. Etchison was named second team and Pooler was named honorable mention.

Both players eclipsed 1,000 career points during their senior campaigns, with Etchison performing as the team’s second-leading scorer with 12 points per game. Pooler went for 8 points per game and 4 rebounds.

On the boys side, Hoover center DeWayne Brown and Spain Park forward Sam Wright were each named first-team all-state players in 7A. Brown averaged a double-double for the season, going for 15 points and 10 rebounds per game and helping lead the Bucs to the state championship. Wright finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds per contest.

Hoover guard Salim London was named to the second team. He averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game for the Bucs, as the sophomore built upon a strong freshman campaign.

Senior guard Zach Gray earned a spot on the third team, as the Spain Park senior capped off his career with a 16-point average per game. The Jags advanced to the state final four for the third straight year and finished the season with a 25-7 record.

Hoover’s Scott Ware was named 7A Coach of the Year after leading the Bucs to the state title in his third season at the helm. His team defeated former Hoover coach Charles Burkett’s Central-Phenix City squad in the championship game.

Hoover’s Reniya Kelly (10) dribbles the ball toward the goal during a Northwest Regional semifinal game between the Bucs and Jets at Tom Drake Coliseum at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville on Feb. 17. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Hoover gears up for 27th SEC Baseball Tournament

The SEC Baseball Tournament returns to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on May 23-28 for the 27th time.

The Hoover Met has been the home for the tournament every year since 1996 except 1997, when it was held at Golden Park in Columbus, Georgia, and 2020, when the tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.

The SEC last year renewed its contract to stay at the Hoover Met through at least 2024 but is keeping its options open for the 2025 baseball season, when Texas and Oklahoma will be part of the league, said Herb Vincent, SEC associate commissioner for communications.

Hoover officials continue to make tweaks to improve the experience for fans and teams alike.

This year, there will be new hospitality areas, including a Patio Club on the terrace lawn area located above the outfield down the third baseline and a Tailgate Town where fans can rent tents on the grassy area between the Hoover Met Stadium and Finley Center on the first base side, Vincent said.

Guest service booths are being added at the main gate, the gate down the first baseline and at the Finley Center, where there will be a FanFest set up with games, activities and entertainment, said Erin Colbaugh, Hoover’s parks and recreation director.

There will be an increased focus on customer service in an effort to make sure the experience is pleasant for fans and teams alike, Colbaugh said.

A different company, On-Site Productions, is managing the FanFest this year. The Ferris wheel and zipline will be gone, but new additions will include a laser tag area and mechanical bull, Colbaugh said. The FanFest also will include an arcade with virtual reality games and driving simulators, inflatables, pool, air hockey, foosball, cornhole, a Euro bungee jump, large video screen broadcasting the baseball games and a stage with live entertainment, she said.

This year, there also will be a youth baseball tournament featuring up to 42 teams on adjacent

turf fields, held in conjunction with the SEC Baseball Tournament, Colbaugh said.

There are improvements for the teams as well. The locker room level, including the space for the umpires and grounds crew, has been renovated with new flooring, lighting, lockers and paint and renovated bathrooms, she said. The batting cages where teams practice on the nearby Field 1 of the Hoover Met Complex also will be covered to get players out of the hot sunlight, she said.

The format for this year’s tournament will remain the same, featuring the 12 SEC teams with the top winning percentages. Seeds 5-12 will meet in single-elimination play on the first day, followed by double-elimination play

Wednesday through Friday. The tournament will return to single-elimination play Saturday, and the championship is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Last year’s schedule had to be shuffled due to rainouts early in the week, with additional games being played Friday and Saturday, but SEC officials still were pleased with overall attendance of 139,630 for the week, said Ben Beaty, assistant director of communications. That was the fourth highest attendance since the tournament began, with the highest being 162,699 in 2019. The championship game between Tennessee and Florida drew 13,270 people, the fifth largest crowd for an SEC baseball title game and second largest for a title game that didn’t

The Florida Gators take on the Tennessee Volunteers in the championship game of the 2022 SEC Baseball Tournament before a crowd of 13,270 people at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover in May 2022.

include Alabama.

The 170 spaces at the RV Park at the Hoover Met Complex already are sold out for this year’s tournament, and reserved seating tickets inside the stadium sold out the first day they were offered, officials said.

General admission tickets are on sale at secticketoffice.com, including books with one ticket for each session for $110, six general admission tickets good any session for $78 or single tickets good for any session for $18. Specific singlesession tickets go on sale May 21 after teams are selected. Group tickets of 15 or more people are $13 each.

For more information, visit secsports.com/ championship/baseball.

HooverSun.com May 2023 • A25
Photo by Jon Anderson.

Regions Tradition here to stay until 2032

Organizers of the Regions Tradition golf tournament, the first of five major tournaments on the PGA Tour Champions schedule, are riding high after tour officials last year announced they were extending the tournament venue another 10 years.

That means it will be at Greystone Golf and Country Club through 2032.

“Not many tournaments get that kind of extension,” said George Shaw, the tournament director for Eventive Sports, formerly known as the Bruno Event Team.

This year’s Regions Tradition, which features 78 of the best golfers ages 50 and older, is scheduled for May 10-14, with the Drummond Co. Celebrity Pro-Am on Wednesday, May 10, and four rounds of championship play Thursday through Sunday. Gates open at 7 a.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Golfers expected to play include Justin Leonard, Padraig Harrington, John Daly, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Kenny Perry, Miguel Angel Jimenez, David Toms, Mike Weir and Tom Lehman.

Celebrities scheduled for the pro-am include new Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, UAB football coach Trent Dilfer, Alabama A&M football coach Connell Maynor, Alabama State football coach Eddie Robinson Jr., Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats, former NFL and Major League Baseball star Bo Jackson, former Auburn and NBA star Charles Barkley, country music singers Riley Green and Randy Owen, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy, former U.S. Army soldier and “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Noah Galloway, former Alabama quarterback and now sports broadcaster Greg McElroy, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville and TV and radio personality Paul Finebaum.

The pro golfers will be playing to win $375,000, and the total purse for the tournament is $2.5 million.

The Tradition tournament first was held in Arizona for 14 years from 1989 to 2002, then it moved to Oregon for eight years before coming to the Birmingham area in 2011. In the Birmingham area, it replaced the Regions Charity Classic, which began in 1992 as the Bruno’s Memorial Classic.

The Regions Tradition was held at Shoal Creek Golf & Country Club its first five years and then switched to Greystone Golf & Country Club in 2016, which was the original location of the Bruno’s Memorial Classic.

The Birmingham area tournament has raised more than $21 million for charities since 1992, including more than $5.5 million since becoming the Regions Tradition in 2011. Last year’s tournament, which attracted

an estimated 75,000 people, raised more than $1.5 million for charity, with Children’s of Alabama getting at least $200,000 of that, Shaw said.

One of the special features for fans this year will be a concert by Chuck Leavell, who was a member of the Allman Brothers Band in their peak years in the 1970s and has been with The Rolling Stones since 1982. He also has toured and recorded with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, David Gilmour, Gov’t Mule and John Mayer.

Leavell was born in Birmingham and lived in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa before moving to Macon, Georgia, where he also works as a tree farmer, Shaw said. Leavell’s concert is scheduled to take place about 4 p.m. at the 10th hole after game play ends on Saturday. Admission is free to anyone with a tournament ticket, and the concert should last about 1½ to

two hours, Shaw said.

Another feature this year will be a ladies long drive contest, featuring female golfers from Alabama colleges and universities.

The tournament also will feature more food trucks than in the past, at the request of fans, Shaw said. Expected food trucks include Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Margarita Grill, Krazy Good BBQ, Street Bowlz and O.Henry’s Coffee, he said.

Tickets for the tournament cost $25 per day, but children 18 and younger get in free with a ticketed adult. Public parking is free at Meadow Brook Corporate Park at 2600 Corporate Drive, with free shuttles dropping off guests at the Greystone clubhouse. There also is a rideshare lot for Uber and Lyft, with dropoff and pickup next to the clubhouse. For more information or tickets, go to regionstradition.com.

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Mike Weir, PGA Pro, tees off from hole 1 during the NCR Celebrity Pro-Am at the Regions Tradition tournament held at Greystone Golf and Country Club’s Founders Course in Hoover in May 2022. Photo by Erin Nelson.

Postseason push in the cards for Jags baseball

The Spain Park High School baseball team appears to be hitting its stride at the perfect time.

The Jags parlayed the momentum from some pivotal wins in March into a strong start to Class 7A, Area 6 play, locking up a playoff spot by mid-April.

“Going into the season, we knew we had a lot of experienced guys back, a lot of veteran guys back, some of which had been on varsity for two and three years,” Spain Park head coach Will Smith said. “We really purposefully tried to make our schedule as difficult as possible.”

Following a loss to Vestavia Hills on March, the Jags won 12 of their next 14 games, with half of those coming in games won by two runs or less. Winning those tight games has been a big boost for Spain Park.

“It gets contagious from a psychological standpoint,” Smith said. “You beat good teams and play close games. From our standout, it’s been very beneficial. Being in those things and being successful and finding the right ingredients in kids that can play and perform under pressure was very valuable for us.”

Smith said the Jags have been playing great defensively after shuffling things around. Evan Smallwood is now at third base, Aiden Berke has moved into the shortstop spot, James Battersby has moved over to second base and Cole Edwards is playing first.

Spain Park’s bats have also been performing at a high level.

“One through six in our order has carried us and it’s been a different guy each night that gets the big hit,” Smith said. “Having Evan, Cole, [Jacob] Tobias and Clay [Spencer] at the top of the order, then add Matthew Widra and Battersby, that has been very good all year long.”

Smith said the bottom third of the order has also been coming through in pivotal moments, and those guys continuing to do so will help in a big way.

The Jags’ pitching staff has benefited from the offense’s success and is having success in

its own right. Lucas Thornton has thrown the first games of the area series, with CJ Gross starting games as well. JR Thompson has been an effective closer, and Smith mentioned guys like Tobias and Blake Patrick that will provide critical innings down the stretch.

“The ability to throw a lot of strikes and play

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good defense behind is a good recipe and allows you to be successful,” Smith said.

There is an opportunity for Spain Park to make a run down the stretch, as the Jags have been a top-five team in 7A as of the middle of April.

“I’ve always thought it’s a special group,”

Smith said. “It’s a group that’s got an opportunity to do something special.”

Knowing the quality of all the 7A teams across the Birmingham area, there’s always a thin line between making a deep run in the playoffs or facing a premature ending to the season. Smith is not putting any specific goals on his team’s back for the month of May. But he hopes to get the chance to coach them for several more weeks.

“There’s a lot of high character, a lot of valuable intangibles in the group, as well as a lot of ability, too,” he said. “Obviously, I hope we have an opportunity to play postseason baseball for several weeks.”

Ethan has a passion for mixed martial arts, both in the ring and on-screen. He was featured as a stuntman in the Netflix series, Cobra Kai, which unfortunately caused him to put professional MMA fighting.

Following his surgery, Ethan was referred to TherapySouth Riverchase for physical therapy. After a successful recovery, he was discharged and finally made his professional debut— taking home the win after a 47-second knockout. Ethan has continued to work with his therapist on strengthening his neck, training to prevent injury and staying healthy for his upcoming fights.

The game we play is pretty rough on the body, so any injuries I have keep me coming back. I continue to see Chris in the weeks leading up to my fights for full body adjustments, wellness checks and dry needling. Any bumps, bruises, or flare ups—I come see him and he takes care of me!


HooverSun.com May 2023 • A27
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Ethan Melisano, Professional MMA Fighter with Chris Allison, PT, DPT Clinic Director, Riverchase
Spain Park’s Clay Spencer (6) swings at a pitch in a game against Briarwood at Spain Park High School on March 24. The Jags defeated the Lions 5-3. Photo by Erin Nelson.
I’ve always thought it’s a special group... it’s a group that’s got an opportunity to do something special.

But one day, she told her mother she wanted to dance.

“She found the closest studio and put me in a ballet class,” Gutowski said.

But it wasn’t love at first position or first plié. She didn’t like it — at all.

“After my first class, I told my mom I didn’t want to dance anymore, but she had already paid for the whole year,” Gutowski said.

And as it turns out, her mom’s desire to instill some stick-to-itiveness has reaped some big and unexpected rewards. For one, now Gutowski loves dance.

“It’s an escape from reality,” she said. “You can do so much with it, and I like the way it makes me feel. I just love it so much.”

Not only that — she’s exceptionally good at it, Sayle said.

She said Gutowski is “definitely a talent on the rise.”

“It’s very difficult to get into this program,” Sayle said of the Royal Ballet School. “I’ve had my studio for 27 years and never had a student I thought would even get in to do the audition, but I thought she had a good shot.”

Gutowski joined Sayle’s studio four years ago, and Sayle knew immediately she was different.

“She was blessed with a lot of natural ability as far as flexibility and what in the industry people look for as far as feet turnout and body type,” she said. “But that’s not enough; you have to back it up with your work and your training. She works incredibly hard, and it pays off.”

People who want to dance professionally train six days a week for five hours a day, at least, Sayle said.

“It’s very difficult for them to juggle school with training,” she said. “Meghan is starting virtual school next year so she can train more hours.”

In addition to training, Gutowski spends a lot of time at serious competitions where scouts are looking for the future professionals of the world, Sayle said.

Gutowski recently advanced past the

regionals of the American Dance Competi tion International Ballet Competition and was invited to the finals in Florida. On March 22, Gutowski performed as one of the top 12 at the gala and placed 10th out of 150 girls at the finals.

“It’s a major accomplishment, a huge deal for her,” Sayle said, noting that she’s never had a student invited to perform at the final round of

but they only have a day for this one. All the coaches and students scramble to find studio space so the coaches can work with their students even for an hour to give them last-minute tips.”

But Gutowski “went out and did a beautiful job,” Sayle said.

All that work comes with a payoff, too, she said. Ballet students win scholarships at performances such as these. Gutowski has racked up about 15 so far.

At this competition, she was awarded scholarships to Next Generation Ballet in Florida, the Pittsburgh Ballet, Cary Ballet Conservatory in North Carolina and the Colorado Ballet. Some scholarships are for this summer, some next summer and some can be used as short stays during the academic school year, Sayle said.

Last year at the Universal Ballet Competition, Gutowski won a scholarship for an intensive in Kansas City, which she participated in recently during spring break, and she has another at a ballet academy in Houston soon. This summer, in addition to her month at the Royal Ballet School, she will spend time at the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.

Gutowski said she loves the intensives.

“Every place is different, and there’s a lot of different teachers and dancers to learn from,” she said.

That all helps toward her goal of dancing professionally one day.

“I just really want to dance in Europe, any place in Europe,” Gutowski said. “It’s been a dream of mine.”

At the end of April, Gutowski had the lead role as the Queen of Hearts in Alabama Dance Academy’s spring production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

Gutowski’s mother, Rachel, said it’s moving for her to watch her daughter perform and know

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Meghan Gutowski performs a variation from “La Esmeralda” during a Universal Ballet Competition. Photo courtesy of Pam Sayle. Deborah Sema, DMD, MS · Andrew Havron, DMD, MS
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While homeless people can get meals at shelters and food pantries, they’re not always able to get to those places when the meals are served, Greene said. Many lack transportation, and sometimes it’s hard to get out of makeshift shelters if it’s cold or stormy, she said. if they can’t get to the shelter kitchen at the right time, they go without food, she said.

“I thought if we could take the food to where they are, then it would help to ensure they won’t miss,” Greene said.

She and Joe spent months investigating what it would take to bring the idea to fruition and by April 2019 had secured 501(c)3 nonprofit status and begun raising money.

Initially, she thought they would be cooking food in the food truck to give out to people, but she quickly learned after talking to friends with restaurants and catering companies that there is so much food already out there that is going to waste that she didn’t need to make more.

Instead, Greene and her nonprofit, called Food For Our Journey, partner with restaurants, catering companies, grocery stores, churches and individuals to collect leftover food and other donated food for distribution.

That meant she didn’t need a vehicle equipped with a full kitchen. Instead, she and her nonprofit were able to obtain a cargo van equipped for catering purposes. McSweeney Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Pell City gave the nonprofit a discount, so they only had to come up with $10,000 for it, she said. “It was a huge blessing.”


In the beginning, Food For Our Journey had about 10 regular food providers, such as Vecchia Pizzeria and Mercato in The Preserve, the Redmont Hotel, Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, Black Market Bar & Grill and Dave’s Pizza. They were serving 40-50 people a day, Greene said.

Now, four years later, there are about 20 regular food providers and many more that provide food occasionally, Greene said. The nonprofit serves about 250 people a day, giving out about 400 meals during breakfast and lunch, she said. In 2022, Food For Our Journey served 144,760 meals to homeless and hungry people, according to the nonprofit’s website.

The Food For Our Journey van goes out seven days a week, starting to make rounds about 9 a.m. and going til about 3:30 p.m. each day, Greene said. The nonprofit targets areas where homeless people stay and has several specific stops it makes at the same time and place every day, she said. The service area is downtown Birmingham, from Lakeview to Interstate 65 and from the Vulcan statue to the Interstate 20/59 area, she said.

Greene, who is the nonprofit’s executive director, typically mans the van herself on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, while her assistant director, Christine Golab, goes out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Part-time drivers cover weekend deliveries, and there is almost always a second volunteer in the van, Greene said.

There are about 25 regular volunteers and about 150 other occasional volunteers every year, she said. Volunteers can sign up to serve on the nonprofit’s website. “We get new people every day.”

However, drivers are fully trained and know where to go and what to do, Greene said. The training is not difficult, but no volunteer is ever sent out without a trained leader, she said.

Catherine Moore, a retired teacher who lives in Hoover on Shades Crest Road and who has known Greene since their college days, has been volunteering with Food For Our Journey for about three years.

She said she didn’t have any idea what she was getting into when she started, but the experience has been life changing. Homeless people can be somewhat invisible to a lot of people, but serving with Food For Our Journey has really opened her eyes to see them. “It’s like taking a film off a window,” she said.

She feels honored and privileged to be able to see into their lives and hear their stories, she said. “There are so many different reasons why someone might wind up on the streets,” she said.

And while some people might view her volunteer work as her helping them, she sees it as them helping her, too, she said.

“It’s increased my world,” Moore said. “They’re beautiful people, and they’re so grateful and thankful. … They are grateful to be alive. It just makes you reassess your priorities. … It makes some of what we fuss about seem really inadequate.”

Volunteers come from all over, but many are affiliated with churches such as Prince of Peace, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church of the Highlands, Independent Presbyterian Church, Temple Emanuel and Temple Beth-El, Greene said.


Before the food can be delivered, it must be picked up. There is a wide variety of providers, from places such as Arby’s, Jack’s, Dave’s Pizza, Flying Biscuit Cafe, Shiki, Shipley Do-Nuts and The Heavenly Donut Co. to Vecchia and Moss Rock Tacos & Tequila.

Benard Tamburello, the owner of the latter two restaurants, has been a strong supporter of Food For Our Journey since its inception,

Greene said. Some days, he’ll provide leftover meatballs marinara; other days it might be basil marinara or chicken alfredo and garlic bread knots, she said.

Restaurants are not the only providers. Publix provides 40 chicken salad sandwich bags once a month, in addition to other items, Greene said. Also, many catering companies, churches, businesses and community groups will call with leftover food from events, parties, corporate meetings, weddings and other get-togethers, she said.

And there are a slew of churches and individuals that prepare food especially for Food For Our Journey. Each Sunday, a different Catholic church prepares a big, hot meal. Prince of Peace takes two Sundays each month, while Our Lady of Sorrows takes two and St. Peter’s Catholic Church takes the fifth Sunday when there is one. The Sunday dinner always involves greater portions — just like many families often have bigger Sunday dinners, Greene said.

Two individual volunteers — Nancy Heck of Homewood and Priscilla Davis of Birmingham — also each Sunday get together and prepare 40 bag lunches for distribution by Food for Our Journey on Mondays. Each bag contains a ham and cheese sandwich, chips and/or crackers, yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, snack cakes or cookies for dessert, chocolate milk or Gatorade, napkins, hand wipes and mints.

A few people give them items to put in the bags so it doesn’t all come out of their pockets, Heck said. But for them, it’s not a burden, she said. They just love serving the poor and doing for other people like they would do for Jesus, she said. “We’re trying to live the gospel.”


In November, the Vulcan Park Foundation gave Greene its Servant Leadership Award for her work with Food For Our Journey.

Greene is quick to point out that she does not do the work alone. While she is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit, Golab is out on the streets just as much as anyone, she said. Their husbands serve as chairman and vice chairman of the nonprofit’s board of directors, and the entire board plays a vital role, she said.

There is an army of volunteers, donors and food providers and a multitude of agencies and community groups who partner with Food for Our Journey to help people on the streets, so it’s truly a community effort, Greene said. Before Greene launched the nonprofit, she asked Golab to give up her 16-year teaching career and join her. Golab, who lives in the Wine Ridge community off Caldwell Mill Road, said she knew immediately it was her calling, too.


Food For Our Journey doesn’t just serve food. Greene, Golab and the other volunteers hand out personal hygiene items and clothing and help connect people on the street to agencies that can help them in other ways.

It may be one of the shelters in town, or it may be Community on the Rise (which helps people get ID cards and birth certificates and move out of homelessness). It might be the Jefferson, Blount Shelby Mental Health Authority, Alabama Regional Medical Services or Recovery Resources (which helps people battling addictions).

A30 • May 2023 Hoover Sun
Above: Christine Golab and Kelly Greene, founders of Food for Our Journey, stand beside the delivery van at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church as they prepare for the afternoon Food for Our Journey deliveries to individuals in need in Birmingham. Left: Kelly Greene hands Christine Golab a tray of biscuits at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church. Photos by Erin Nelson.

People who are homeless have a lot of needs, but sometimes it’s hard for them to figure out what to do about it when they’re hungry, Greene said. Food For Our Journey wants to address that basic human need for food and build bridges with people to address the other needs in their lives, she said.

“We want to minister to the whole person — physically, emotionally and spiritually, and we want to value the person within,” Greene said. “When you’re alone and in trouble and it seems you have no one to help and to work with you and assist with these problems, we want to be that group.”

Food For Our Journey wants to not just do something for people, but walk with people, Greene said.

Taevon Smith, a man who lived on the streets for a while until he was able to move in with his aunt in downtown Birmingham, said he has benefited from Food For Our Journey for a long time and still gets food from the group.

“I think it’s great. It’s a blessing,” Smith said while getting some lunch near St. Paul’s Cathedral recently. “They could be at home doing other things, but they take the time to feed all these people who live on the streets

and people in the community. They’re some good people.”

Anthony Burrell, another man who has been living out of his Chevrolet Trailblazer since he fell on hard times, said Food For Our Journey had been helping him for four to six months, and he very much appreciates the generosity.

“If it wasn’t for them, there ain’t no telling,” Burrell said. “The crime rate would be going up if they weren’t out here.”

People would be committing crimes to get food or money for food, he said. He just wishes there were more places to take a bath or change clothes, he said.

Karen Turnbow, a retired child psychologist who volunteers with Food For Our Journey, said Greene is an absolute angel when it comes to helping homeless people.

“She brings tears to my eyes,” Turnbow said. “She treats every single person with dignity and respect.”

Greene said it’s humbling to have people who are going through scary times trust you enough to share their stories with you. There are many reasons why people become homeless and hungry, and you can never know what might be in store for yourself in the future, she said.

“All of us are walking this journey together. We might be in different places or facing different circumstances, but we’re called to be there for one another, to love one another. We’re called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, providing not just physical food, but spiritual food. We’re here to provide whatever nutrients you need, whether that’s a plate of food, an ear [to listen], a hug or a shoulder to cry on.”

Golab said the ministry work sometimes can be a test of patience. She’s a planner and a structured person, and she sometimes panics trying to figure out how to get everything to work. But God always delivers what they need to help people, and he always does it in a big way, she said.

“To be out there in it, not every day is a fantastic day full of rainbows and lollipops, but every day, you get to be a part in the hope for those who are seeking hope and those who have lost hope,” Golab said.

Greene said she doesn’t think the problem of homelessness will ever be eradicated, but she plans to keep Food For Our Journey going until God calls her elsewhere.

“As long as there are people who need our help and we’re in a position to do that, it’s such a blessing, and it’s such an honor,” she said. “We feel we are called to help our brothers and sisters in any way we can. … As long as we can make a difference, we’ll continue to do so.”

To find out more about Food For Our Journey and how to volunteer or donate, go to their website foodforourjourney.org.

May 2023 • A31 HooverSun.com
Kelly Greene, founder of Food for Our Journey, and Walter Kirkland, a manager at Jack’s in downtown Homewood, pack a box with plain biscuits and sausage biscuits as Greene prepares for a morning food delivery in Birmingham.
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Postseason push in the cards for Jags baseball

pages 27-31

Regions Tradition here to stay until 2032

page 26

Hoover gears up for 27th SEC Baseball Tournament

page 25

Kelly named Miss Basketball to cap stellar career

page 24

Hope lives

pages 22-23

School board rejects bid for Bumpus athletic upgrades

page 22

Grace Klein to hold first golf tournament to help feed hungry

pages 20-21

Mobile mayor to speak at Hoover Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast

page 20

Walks/runs set in May for Hoover area

page 19

Events True Crime podcasters to host event in Bluff Park

page 18

An optimized outlook on wellness

pages 16-17

Fitting wigs with purpose and style

page 15

Hoover man seeks to break speech Guinness World Record

page 14

Hoover chamber has first female chairwoman since 2012

page 13


page 12

Realtor plans 4-story bed and breakfast near Hoover Met

page 12


page 11

Business Happenings

pages 10-11

Bluff Park man creates The Hoover Channel to archive council meeting videos

page 9

Zoning board rejects wholesale store, gas station in Inverness

page 8

Mayor’s Minute

page 7

City City employees get bonuses totaling $500,000

page 6

About Us

page 4


page 3


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