Page 1

May 2013

Volume 1 | Issue 1 | May 2013

Smooth transition

Piece by piece U.S. 31 in 2028

Georgie Salem rolled his success with Vestavia Hills varsity baseball straight onto the field with the Crimson Tide. Find out more about this hometown hit machine inside.

Sports page 16

Aqua quandary

As summer creeps closer, Vestavia Hills residents are deciding what local pool their families will be visiting this year - Wald Park, the Vestavia Hills YMCA or Life Time Fitness.

Community page 12

INSIDE City ..................... 4 Business ............ 6 Food ................... 8 Community ....... 9

School House .. 14 Sports ............... 16 Faith .................. 18 Calendar ........... 19

Pre-Sort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Birmingham, AL Permit #656

The first step to reshaping U.S. 31 is replacing the regulations that initially shaped it

The US-31 Corridor Redevelopment Plan drafted by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham presents options for the future of the corridor, including:

Boulevard: By adding one lane on each side of U.S. 31 outside the rightof-way, fast-moving traffic is allowed to continue along the original lanes while slower moving traffic accesses adjacent developments through a continuous link without interruptions of curb-cuts and driveways. The side lanes and medians act as a buffer from faster lanes, providing a safe walking haven for pedestrians.

Greenway: The banks of Patton Creek could be transformed into a recreational, educational, and civic amenity for the city and its residents and re-establish the natural flood plain and ecosystem.

Mixed-use developments: Current suburban strip centers and outparcels surrounded by expansive, under-utilized parking lots and single-use, single-story structures with no relationship to surrounding neighborhoods could be replaced by: a variety of housing options that appeal to empty-nesters and young professionals within a diverse urban form; side streets with parking; sidewalks; trees; and office space above retail at ground level.

This aerial view of Vestavia Hills shows the locations identified in the diagram to the left. The US-31 Corridor Redevelopment Plan composed by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham proposes that much of the pictured development be reformed into mixed-use structures under a detailed form-based code, which the City of Vestavia Hills could begin working on as early as this month. Images provided by RPCGB.

By JEFF THOMPSON Executive Editor Vestavia Hills was built on what lies between its two temples on U.S. 31. After 60 years of growth on the corridor, the sloped stretch of signal-heavy highway has become a sizable chunk of the City’s identity. And for many, that’s a problem. “Basically, if you drive down U.S. 31 right now, the development that you see – and I’m not going to call it bad development – is the development everybody was doing 30 years ago,” Vestavia Hills Economic Developer Fred Baughman said. “You put a store at the back of the property, asphalted everything in front of it and away you go.” The development pattern created a retail sector that survives but doesn’t thrive. Because sales tax is monumentally important to a city’s growth and development, the US-31 Corridor Redevelopment Plan was created to reinvent this seemingly listless piece of the area’s livelihood.

But it won’t be quick, and it won’t be easy. The Plan, approved by the City of Vestavia Hills last year, began in 2011 as a study by Market Street, a firm from Atlanta. The company launched a survey of Vestavia Hills residents and businesses about their city in order to create an economic development plan, said Phillip Amthor, a planner with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB). What Market Street found wasn’t surprising. “Everyone knew part of what was going to be said was that Highway 31 needed to be redeveloped,” he said. “So, (the City) went ahead and hired us to come up with a plan.” The City secured a $100,000 grant to fund the RPCGB project, and by October 2011, the team was taking data collected by Market Street and designing a long-term proposal for the corridor that incorporated what

See U.S. 31 | page 17


May 2013

Vestavia Voice

About Us Photo of the Month

Please Support our Sponsors Courtney Partridge’s PreKindergarten class from Primrose School at Liberty Park was invited to open up the monthly Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in March by leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Photo courtesy of Primrose School at Liberty Park.

Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center (12) Aldridge Gardens (12) Artists Incorporated (7) Birmingham Speech and Hearing Associates (13) Bromberg & Company, Inc. (18) California Closets (10) Children’s of Alabama (15) Collage (9) Four Corners Custom Framing (9)

Editor’s Note By Rebecca Walden Welcome to the debut civic, faith-based and social issue of your new source events happening across the for Vestavia happenings Hills each and every month. — the Vestavia Voice! In addition to a robust monthly Covering all aspects calendar and community event of community news, coverage, we also want to tell the Vestavia Voice will stories of Vestavians who help showcase the many set this city apart. You’ll find a highlights and hometown few of them in this debut issue, heroes of our city, along starting with Brooks and Jenny with other area news Ballentine. In their search for a of interest. Got a star private birth mother, the couple Walden student? Know of a new has conceptualized mixed business that your neighbors ought to media adoption crosses, which are finding know about, too? Trying to keep up with fame not only Over the Mountain, but well the many events around town and finding beyond state borders too. it a near impossible task? It’s all here in Tanglewood residents may recognize the Vestavia Voice, a brand new, hyper- a familiar face in this month’s recipe local community-centric newspaper, and contributor, Amy Jason. Impossibly fit it’s all about you. given the tempting sweets she sells as a Few things are more frustrating than “Little Sacka Sugar,” this mom of three learning about a fun, local event after it’s is keeping Costco in business so she can happened, right? By reading the Vestavia bake the atypical, addictive confections Voice, you should find it easier to keep that serve her ever-growing local tabs on the various academic, athletic, customer base.

To give a little love to the restaurateurs and business owners who hang their hats in the Hills, we’ll also spotlight one of each per issue. If you haven’t discovered The Ridge (my husband’s favorite watering hole, and incidentally the source of the best pimiento cheeseburger ever), keep last night’s leftovers in the fridge and try it tonight! In the spirit of reader service, we will also publish a Celebrations section that covers local engagements and weddings, landmark birthdays and milestone anniversaries. Please share yours with us. This is your paper – your Voice. So let me hear from you! Send your thoughts, comments and story ideas to rebecca@ Cheers,

Issis & Sons (1) Lili Pad/Gi Gi’s (10) RealtySouth - Becky Hicks (5) Red Mountain Theatre Company (18) Renaissance Consignment and Marketplace (19) Royal Automotive (20) Sarver Orthodontics (4) Second Hand Rose (4) Serendipity Boutique/Chickadee (11) Kim Mangham-Barelare (7) The Ridge Eat & Drink (5) The Wade Team (13) Wood & Spooner Dentistry (6)


Meet our staff Dan Starnes, Publisher Dan Starnes originally moved to the Birmingham area from Georgia to work as an assistant golf professional. Now, eight years later, he publishes five community newspapers and isn’t sure which end of the golf bat to hold. When he isn’t working or planning new publishing endeavors, his favorite activities are hanging out with his wife Alison, fishing, kayaking, camping, or walking his 12 year-old lab mix. In addition to the Vestavia Voice he publishes 280 Living, The Homewood Star, Hoover Sun and Mountain Brook’s Village Living. He is extremely excited about the Vestavia Voice and has been overheard saying that it is his favorite publication to date.

Rebecca Walden, Community Editor When not playing princess fairy dress-up with her imaginative four-year-old Ella or chasing around her plotting and playful two-year-old Connor, Editor Rebecca Walden can usually be found hunched over her laptop, writing. A career marketing communications professional, Rebecca writes for numerous corporate and non-profit clients and various consumer publications. A 1996 graduate of Vestavia Hills High School, Rebecca is thrilled to have the privilege of covering the community news of her hometown. She is married to Rett Walden, also a Vestavia native. The couple is active in their home church of Vestavia Hills United Methodist.

Madoline Markham, Managing Editor Madoline Markham grew up taking piano lessons off Rocky Ridge Road and making regular trips to Murphree’s Market in Cahaba Heights. She still counts on Murphree’s for her weekly basket of Chilton County peaches in the summer, but makes more stops to Iz Café and Moe’s Bar B Que on Rocky Ridge than to any piano. Madoline received a bachelor’s degree in history from Rhodes College and then a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri before a fellowship with Southern Living drew her back to her native land of tree-lined hills. She is passionate about telling stories about and for the community around her, especially when they involve food. Chronicles of her cooking adventures can be found at

Publisher : Executive Editor : Creative Director : Community Editor : Managing Editor : Advertising Manager : Sales and Distribution : Contributing writer : Interns : Published by : Contact Information: Vestavia Voice #3 Office Park Circle, Suite 316 Birmingham, AL 35223 313-1780

Dan Starnes Jeff Thompson Keith McCoy Rebecca Walden Madoline Markham Matthew Allen Rhonda Smith Warren Caldwell Keith Richardson April Moon Clayton Hurdle Nathan Kelly Megan Smith Starnes Publishing LLC Please submit all articles, information and photos to: P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253

For advertising contact: Legals: Vestavia Voice is published monthly. Reproduction or use of

editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. The Vestavia Voice is designed to inform the Vestavia community of area school, family and community events. Information in the Vestavia Voice is gathered from sources considered reliable but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of the Vestavia Voice. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 3131780 or by email.

Please recycle this paper

May 2013

Raise your

VOICE We’re here to help you get loud about Vestavia. If you love your city, we want to hear from you. Join us in celebrating the daily successes of Vestavia Hills and its residents by contributing to upcoming issues of the publication. Send your ideas, stories and photos to Community Editor Rebecca Walden, or contact us to learn more about how the Voice is working to connect you with everything Vestavia.




May 2013

Vestavia Voice

City Mayor’s Minute

By Alberto “Butch” Zaragoza Dear neighbors, Vestavia Hills is experiencing an exciting chapter in its growth. As such, it is fitting that at this time we also welcome a comprehensive, hyper-local publication to our community, the Vestavia Voice. While my office uses all communication avenues available to us to share City Hall news, I also recognize that these are busy times. Please look to this column for a monthly recap of major news of interest from your city administration. Current highlights include: – Upgrades and retrofits to various athletic facilities. The City has entered into an agreement with Trane to replace athletic field lights at Vestavia Hills Elementary SchoolEast and Central, Wald Park, Liberty Park and Cahaba Heights, as well as the tennis court lighting at Wald Park and the High School. This is a performance-based contract worth approximately $4.1 million that will be paid with the savings from the newest technology in high-efficiency lighting. We received lowinterest financing through the State of Alabama with a Qualified Energy Conservation Bond. The lighting systems will be similar to the new one at Sicard Hollow Athletic Fields. All projects are expected to be completed by calendar end 2013. – Roadway improvements. The City has received federal funding to assist with Massey Road roadway improvements from U.S. 31 near Mark’s Outdoor Sports to Columbiana Road, which will include shoulder widening, stabilization, and the addition of sidewalk and bicycle access. To initiate this

project, the City has entered into an agreement with ALDOT to fund $133,120 to provide preliminary engineering services for its design. We anticipate this being a three- to four-year project from design to the end of construction. The City has been awarded a $3.7 million grant from the State for repaving Rocky Ridge Road and portions of Columbiana, Tyler and Overton Roads. – Additional public green space. The Parks and Recreation Foundation is currently in a capital campaign partnership with the City to expand and develop parks throughout the City. In addition to expanding and creating a park next to the Sicard Hollow Athletic Fields, McCallum Park and Greenway is a focus for this partnership. We received two grants for $50,000 each toward a bridge across Little Shades Creek and trail expansion throughout the property along the creek. We are currently in the design phase of both the bridge and the trail and are working with Greg Hansen, who helped design the original construction of McCallum Park. These improvements should take place during the next 12 months. Thank you for being an engaged, invested community. It is a pleasure to serve as your mayor.

City property could become office, retail space in coming years By JEFF THOMPSON Executive Editor With the redevelopment of U.S. 31 on the minds of many in Vestavia Hills administration, the City is poised to play a sizable role in launching the initiative. According to City Economic Developer Fred Baughman, Vestavia Hills is anticipating the sale of three of its properties along the corridor and is in negotiations to buy another. The properties that could soon be sold are City Hall, the former library building and the public works garage, and the City intends to purchase the former Food World site off U.S. 31. Baughman confirmed the City recently received a letter of intent to purchase City Hall from restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. The company entered into a due diligence period on the property earlier this year. “They are currently doing site plans and looking at zoning regulations and utility costs,” Baughman said. “We don’t see a problem with (the sale), but they have to go through that process.” Mayor Alberto “Butch” Zaragoza said the City should know Chick-fil-A’s intentions within the next 90 days, which would determine if administration would need to relocate. If that becomes the case, members of administration indicated the former Food World site might be City Hall’s future location. Baughman said the City is currently in the negotiation process to purchase that property. Initially, he said, the city had recently completed

the redevelopment study for U.S. 31 and intended to use the property as a catalyst for change on the corridor. “We saw by acquiring it that we would have better control of what its use is going to be,” he said. “Since then, with Chick-fil-A making its offer, there is consideration that the Food World building might be a good location for the new City Hall.” Baughman said that attorneys are currently finetuning an acceptable price and there is no available timeline for the sale’s completion. Vestavia Hills residents likely won’t see any development on these two properties in the near future. City Planner Conrad Garrison said if Chickfil-A purchases City Hall, the contract would allow administration three years to vacate. For the other two properties, the City also received a letter of intent from a developer interested in purchasing the former library site at 1112 Montgomery Highway. Zaragoza said the developer indicated a desire to bring office space and some retail to that location, and it has until June 1 to inform the City of its intent, as well as identify businesses that might occupy the space. Finally, the City has received two offers for the public works garage located just north of Vestavia Hills’ Walmart Neighborhood Market. Baughman said, unlike the City Hall or library properties, the City is in its due diligence period to determine if it will accept an offer for the 2.5-acre site. He said he believed a decision could be made on the property this month.


City to hire replacement for Robertson

Alberto “Butch” Zaragoza

According to Vestavia Hills Interim City Manager Jim St. John, the City Council City has received multiple resumes for the

position of city manager and plans to conduct interviews this month. St. John, current Vestavia Hills fire chief, is in the interim position

replacing Randy Robertson, who resigned in March citing a need to relocate to care for an ailing family member.

May 2013

Meet Your City Council Steve Ammons

Steve Ammons has served in the Vestavia City Council since November 2008 and is currently in his second term. Outside the council, Ammons runs Bullet Screening Services, an employment screening company. Bullet Screening runs criminal histories, E-Verify, drug testing and more to help clients do due diligence on potential employees. Ammons lives in Vestavia Hills with his wife, Shannon, and two sons, Denver and Will, who are in middle school. He has contributed much to the Vestavia community, including founding Run for the Hills in 2007. What do you love most about living in and serving this community? The thing I love most about our community is our quality of life. Quality of life is a broad stroke, but it’s hard to just point to one thing. Our public safety, parks and recreation, library and schools are the primary reason people choose Vestavia Hills as their home and the primary reason they choose to stay. My parents moved here in 1977 and planned to stay for a few years. To this day, they still live in the same house because of the quality of life they have experienced in the area. Currently, what is the most pressing issue facing the Council? One of the most pressing issues is and will continue to be economic development. Last year, the Council, with the help of Market Street and the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB), developed a vision plan for the city and specifically a redevelopment plan for the Highway 31 corridor. A video giving an overview of the plan can be seen at Thanks to all of this work, one of the five major goals of the Council is to implement the Market Street and RPCGB plans. Our intention is that these plans do not sit on the shelf and gather dust, but rather give the community, landowners and developers a picture of the direction in which the council would like to move. What is something new coming to Vestavia Hills for 2013? The City is moving towards trying to take as many functions off of Highway 31 frontage and sell some of the property it owns to allow for more economic growth. A letter of intent has

been signed to sell the current city hall location and relocate to the former Food World building off Highway 31, as well as sell and relocate the city garage and public works. Our Parks and Recreation Board and Foundation (vhprf. org) are working hard on their capital campaign to support a community park adjoining the Sicard Hollow Athletic Fields and creating a bridge that crosses Little Shades Creek at McCallum Park to 14 acres of green space and trails. A joint effort with the school system will place School Resource Officers in every school and will add an extra officer at the high school. What are some ways to become involved within the community? There are many ways to get involved through Parks and Rec, the Chamber, any one of the foundations (Schools, Parks and Rec, Library, and Sybil Temple) or any one of the City boards or committees. Another way to get involved is to apply for Leadership Vestavia Hills not only to learn more about the community, but to learn how to lead in the community. I encourage anyone that is interested to volunteer and not to frame it as “giving back” but doing it because you love the community and you have a passion for it. You started Run for the Hills. How has it progressed since beginning in 2007? Run for the Hills is a fundraiser for the Vestavia Hills Sunrise Rotary Club that is now run by Steve Hicks, a lieutenant in the Vestavia Hills Fire Department. The race is still going on but has experienced some challenges with the growth of the sport. In the first year there were only two races in town on the date of the race, and in year five there were six on that same day. I hate to see the competition but am encouraged to see how many people are out there running. Check to learn more about the event. If you met someone from another state who was considering moving to Vestavia Hills, what would you tell them? If you are looking for a place where things like quality of life, excellence in education and community cohesion are important, then look no further — you have found a home.

Transfer of 911 operations projected to improve service for Vestavia callers By JEFF THOMPSON Executive Editor The City of Vestavia Hills could complete the dissolution of its current emergency communication system as early as the beginning of June as it transfers dispatch services to Shelby County 911 in Pelham. Following the transfer, the City will continue to provide emergency services. Vestavia Police and Fire Departments will still respond, but Shelby 911 dispatchers would receive calls placed by Vestavia Hills residents. The Vestavia Hills City Council approved the transfer earlier this year as it faced an impending need to upgrade Emergency 911 equipment in its Communication Department, Fire Chief Jim St. John said. St. John, currently serving as interim city manager following the departure of Randy Robertson in March, said the department has been using the same equipment since it was founded in 1998. To upgrade the equipment would cost approximately $1.5 million. Coupled with the annual $1.5 million cost of

running the dispatch, the Council chose to explore the City’s options. St. John said the transfer of services could reduce the City’s annual costs for dispatch by approximately $1 million and provide other benefits over the current system. Namely, using Shelby 911 would increase the number of people available to answer emergency calls for Vestavia Hills residents. It would also provide better-trained dispatchers to answer calls. “It’s a great opportunity for us to get better service at half the cost by adopting a model that’s used everywhere else,” St. John said. With Jefferson County approving the personnel changes, St. John said some employees had already transferred to other agencies and some had been placed at positions within the city. In addition, St. John said representatives from Shelby County 911 told him the company intended to hire seven dispatchers to accommodate the increased volume of calls from Vestavia and had already taken three from City Communications. “So far, it’s gone really well for people,” he said. “We almost have everybody placed.”



May 2013

Vestavia Voice

Business NBC’s Royer speaks at Chamber Luncheon

Above: From left are: Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen Odle; Kim Mangham-Barelare; featured speaker Mike Royer; Mayor Butch Zaragoza; and Vestavia Hills City Council Member John Henley. Left: Mark Gualano and Anna Curry Gualano. Below: Chamber of Commerce members enjoy the April Luncheon. Photos by Rebecca Walden.

In April, members and guests of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce gathered at Vestavia Country Club for the organization’s monthly luncheon. Keynote speaker Mike Royer of NBC 13 spoke about his career in broadcast television, along with poignant life lessons he’s learned from interview subjects of his popular Spirit of Alabama newscast. The invocation was provided by Mark Macoy of the Macoy Law Firm. Chamber Member Andrew Burke received the honor of being named Chamber Ambassador of the Quarter. Representing Vestavia’s Partners in Education were Gina Henley and Principal Kay Cooper of Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights. The Chamber also acknowledged Vestavia Country Club Chief Operating Officer Robert Carr, for his sponsorship support.

May Luncheon

May 14, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Vestavia Country Club Network with other Chamber members and hear speakers on a wide variety of topics. This month the meeting will discuss the Affordable Care Act with panelists Garry Gause of Brookwood Medical Center, Michael Velezis of Blue Cross Blue Sheild and Cynthia Ransburg-Brown of Sirote & Permutt. Reservations must be received by 4 p.m. the Friday prior to the luncheon. The cost is $18. Late reservations and walk-ins cost $25.

Business Happenings Dr. Ricketts moving to Vestavia Mark Ricketts, M.D. is moving his practice to Vestavia. The new location will be in the Vestavia Hills City Center at 700 Montgomery Highway, Suite 194 and will provide a larger space, more convenient parking and upgraded technology. The practice offers services such as physical exams, ECG testing and in house X-rays as well as treatment for non-surgical illness like diabetes and hypertension. The new facility will be open June 4. For more, visit

Possiblity for new surgery center Plastic Surgery Center in Liberty Park has submitted a request for a Certificate of Need for an outpatient surgery center in Liberty Park. The project would cost approximately $300,000 including construction and equipment. The new center, Liberty Park Breast and Body Reconstruction, will specialize in skin and breast reduction procedures. Visit

May 2013 7

Business Spotlight

The Blue Willow

3930 Crosshaven Drive 968-0909 Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

By MEGAN SMITH Staff writer Anna Barnes was a math teacher and later an assistant principal, but she always dreamed of being a store owner. She would look at buying clothing and shoe boutiques, but never found a place that she really liked — until she discovered one of her favorite stores, the store that was exactly what she had been looking for, was closing its doors. Within a week, The Blue Willow was hers. The 13-year-old Cahaba Heights accessories store celebrated its first birthday under Barnes’ ownership in March. Located in the hills behind The Summit, The Blue Willow is what Barnes calls a “one-stop shop.” The business specializes in monogramming, etching and engraving custom jewelry, handbags, bracelets, even glassware, ceramics, and pillows. Previous owner Cyndy Kiel sold the majority of the store’s merchandise before going out of business, so Barnes rebuilt the inventory from the ground up. “In essence, I got to start from scratch ordering inventory and displays,” Barnes said. The diverse inventory has a matching variety of price points. Purses, scarves, jewelry and even hand towels with the shape of Alabama embroidered on them are available for those

looking to spend less than $20. More substantial items come at higher price points; a Haul Couture houndstooth bag runs $119, and personalized gold earrings are $248. The Blue Willow also offers candles, soaps, lotions, stemware and frames. The staff, most of whom has been with the store for the majority of its existence, did agree to stay on, providing continuity in the transition. Barnes also took the opportunity to paint the store and renovate the back offices while the

store was empty. To bring a modern face to the business, Barnes set about rebranding the store and creating a new focus on online sales, as well as Facebook and Twitter promotions. Still, customer service in the store comes first, she said. “Our slogan is ‘Wrapped in Southern charm,’” Barnes said. “We want people to feel like they’ve been treated like family. That’s what makes people come back.” In addition to its warm greetings to customers, The Blue Willow entices

guests to come back with a rewards card. Every $25 spent earns a stamp on the card. After the card is full, guests earn a $20 gift certificate. All gifts purchased can be gift wrapped in aqua and white with grey accents, and the store offers seasonal colors as well as pink and blue for baby gifts. Each parcel also has The Blue Willow label so guests will recognize where the gift is from. “It really is a one-stop shop,” Barnes said. “You can pick up baby gifts, wedding gifts, birthday gifts and something for yourself, too.”

Owner Anna Barnes, above center, and her staff sell a variety of gift products for home, baby and more from The Blue Willow in Cahaba Heights. Photos by Jeff Thompson.


May 2013

Vestavia Voice

Food Restaurant Showcase

3325 Rocky Ridge Plaza 917-5080 Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

The Ridge Eat and Drink By NATHAN KELLY Staff writer Inside The Ridge Eat and Drink, you’ll find delicious burgers, local brews and a Cheers-like camaraderie among customers — all evidence of how owner Dave Horn’s personality has come to life in restaurant form. After purchasing Cahaba Heights favorite Mudtown Eat and Drink, Horn wanted to open a restaurant he built from the ground using personal ideas and inspiration. That dream became reality when The Ridge opened in 2011. “I took what I’ve learned from owning Mudtown and combined it with all these ideas I’ve had for a restaurant since I was in college,” Horn said. “What came out of it was a great place to eat a burger where everybody knows everybody.” The Pimento Cheeseburger, the restaurant’s most popular, is topped with a melted jalapeño pimento cheese spread on a 100-percent Hereford beef patty. Horn designed the menu himself, but admitted the pimento cheese recipe came from his aunt. Other burger favorites pay homage to Vestavia Hills High School (The Rebel Yell is two patties topped with bacon, a fried egg, cheeses and an onion ring) and a restaurant where

The Ridge owner Dave Horn serves up specialty sandwiches like the Pimiento Cheeseburger from this Rocky Ridge Plaza establishment. Photos by Nathan Kelly.

he worked in Atlanta (The Blue Shroom comes with mushrooms, blue cheese spread and jalapeño bacon). The menu also boasts salads, sandwiches and entrees, including the Southern-inspired Fried Green Tomato Sandwich and fresh and spicy Fish Tacos. While Horn is proud of his inventions in the kitchen, he said what turns his guests into regulars is the neighborhood atmosphere he’s created at The Ridge.

“One thing I really liked about Mudtown and wanted to replicate here was how comfortable everyone felt in the restaurant,” he said. “This is a place that everyone in the area likes to come and chat with each other. That’s more special to me than just having great food on the menu.” The best way to create a neighborhood atmosphere in a restaurant, Horn said, is to get involved in the community. He encourages his guests and employees

to just be themselves and gives discounts to members of police and fire departments. The Ridge also caters food to events at Vestavia Hills High School. Horn began working in restaurants, and watching hours of Food Network programming, when he lived in Atlanta during college. Eventually growing tired of the busy lifestyle and traffic of the city, he moved back to Vestavia Hills, where his family lives.

He knew that no matter what, people would always need to eat, and that everybody would always love a good burger. So he bought Mudtown and brought in a burger-heavy menu — the same concept he now caters at The Ridge. Horn said he couldn’t be happier with the restaurant he’s created. “We’ve got a special environment here” Horn said. “Come by for a relaxing evening out and bring your kids. You won’t regret it.”

Peanut Butter Bliss Brownies By AMY JASON


Peanut Butter Bliss Brownies

Best Basic Brownies 10 minutes prep 4 (1-oz.) unsweetened baking squares (I use Baker’s) 3/4 cup butter (no substitutions) 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 3 large eggs 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 t. vanilla extract 1/8 t. salt Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of an 11-by-7-inch pan with aluminum foil, with a slight overlap; spray foil with spray oil. Microwave chocolate squares and butter in large glass bowl for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in both sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring gently after each addition. Gently stir in flour, vanilla and salt just until blended. Pour in prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes; reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue to bake for 3-6 minutes. Check center of brownies with a toothpick; you should see a few moist crumbs, but not excessive gooey-ness. The brownies will continue to set as they cool, and will set more in the fridge after they have been iced. Let cool before icing. Tip: For a thicker brownie, you may use an 8-by-8-inch pan and increase cooking time slightly. For a thinner brownie, you may use a 9-by-13-inch pan and decrease cooking time slightly.

Amy Jason, a Vestavia wife and mother of three, is an avid baker and cookie connoisseur. She believes that sharing “a little sacka sugar” from your heart and from your kitchen is the sweetest way to spread some smiles. She doesn’t always know what’s for dinner, but she always knows what’s for dessert! Peanut Butter Bliss Brownies sandwich a decadently thick layer of peanut butter icing between a chewy brownie and chocolate ganache. Beware — they are rich, and addictive. Photo by Madoline Markham.

3 minutes prep

Peanut Butter Icing

1 cup chocolate chips 6 T. butter, softened

5 minutes prep 3 cups powdered sugar 3/4 cups butter, softened 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter Combine icing ingredients; mix well by hand or electric mixer and spread over cooled brownies. Chill one hour.

Chocolate Ganache Topping

Melt chocolate chips and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted. (Or microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals until melted and smooth.) Spread over peanut butter icing on brownies; chill. Lift brownies from pan using foil side as handles. Cut while chilled, and then let warm slightly to room temperature. For best results, store brownies in fridge, covered tightly in foil.

May 2013


Community Library to host outdoor concert

Artists’ reception planned Artists Incorporated will hold its monthly First Friday Opening Reception May 3 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Featured artists for the month will be Mary Jean Henke, Nancy Hammond, Cyndie Hay, Jerome Vason and Joyce Kraft. The free event will also include

wine, finger foods and live music. Artists Incorporated is located at 3365 Morgan Drive and can be reached at 979-8990. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and on Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more visit

City to host Health & Wellness Fair The City of Vestavia Hills is planning a Health & Wellness Fair for Saturday, May 4. The event will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Vestavia Hills Civic Center Gymnasium located at 1975 Merryvale Road. Vestavia residents attend a performance by The Erin Mitchell Band at the Library amphitheater last summer.

Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest will host its first outdoor concert program of the year on Friday, May 10 at 7 p.m. Family entertainer Jim Aycock

will be on-hand to entertain the entire family with traditional songs as well as some he has written. Aycock is a local performer who has recorded in Nashville and is well

known for his fun and friendly style. The event will take place under the stars in the library’s amphitheater. For more visit or call 978-0155.

Library in the Forest May events C h i l d r e n ’s D e p a r t m e n t May 1 & 8: Ms. Carol & Friends Storytime. Ages 5 and under. 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

May 7: Together with Twos. Storytime for ages 2 and under. 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.


May 1 & 8: Skit-torytime! For school-age children. 3:30 p.m.

May 10: Family Concert Series. Family entertainment with singer Jim Aycock. Amphitheater. 7 p.m.

May 2: Fun & Fit in the Forest. Fitness program for caregivers and their toddlers. 9:30 a.m.

June 2: Dig into Reading Kickoff. 2-4 p.m.

May 2 & 9: L.I.F.T. for Play. Social playtime for preschoolers and caregivers. 9:30-11:30 a.m.

June 6: Liberty Park Outreach Show. 3 p.m.

June 6: Puppeteer David Stevens. 11 a.m.

The event will feature free blood pressure and cholesterol checks, health screenings, massages, health information, food demonstrations, interactive instruction and more. For more contact Lt. Scott Ferrell at

Vestavia Hills Baptist to hold concerts Vestavia Hills Baptist Church is hosting two concerts this month as a part of its fifth annual Artists on the Mountain series. On Sunday, May 5, pianist Michael Dulin will perform at 2 p.m. Dulin, a Birmingham resident, was a finalist in the Carnegie Hall International Piano Competition and was awarded the Silver Medal in the Second Annual International Audio-Video Competition in New York. Dulin performs original music and appears solo and with orchestra in classical music performances. The suggested donation for the event is $10 per person. On Sunday, May 19, Christian artist Ken Medema will perform a free

concert at 10 a.m. Medema is a composer, singer and songwriter who has performed in the U.S., Canada and Europe for more than 30 years. He was born blind and began playing the piano at 5 years old. He began taking classical music lessons in Braille when he was 8 and playing by ear and improvising in different styles. In 1973, he began performing his own songs. His lyrics provide commentary on themes such as justice, hunger, poverty, homelessness and Christian charity. He has recorded 26 albums. Vestavia Hills Baptist is located at 2600 Vestavia Drive. For more call 979-5920 or visit

10 May 2013

Vestavia Voice

For the love of family Mom seeks to grow her family by raising funds with cross art

These adoption crosses, developed by It’s So You Art’s Jenny Ballentine, are helping spread her story across the Southeast. Ballentine conceptualized the crosses in hopes of connecting with birth mothers.

By REBECCA WALDEN Community Editor For Jenny Ballentine, the road to creating a family has been paved with waiting and frustration, but also with joy and a bounty of art. She spent 48 months undergoing fertility treatments before her son, Charlie, now 3, was born. But when she and her husband, Brooks, went back to their fertility doctor a second time, the results were different. A year into the process, they learned they were 99 percent infertile. “It was literally like this weight was lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “I knew God had other plans for us. No more drugs, no more shots, no more months and months of waiting without any answers.” The couple began the adoption process that same month, in May 2011. Six months later, they began working with a California-based

facilitator, and pieces of the adoption puzzle starting falling into place, only to fall right back apart. “Over the next year, we were matched twice with a birth mother but neither worked out, due to circumstances with the mother,” she said. Not long after the second failed match attempt, the Ballentines decided to engage in a self-driven effort to find a birth mother. “So many of our friends wanted to help us raise funds” Ballentine said. “As an artist, I knew we could create something that would help us along this journey.” Since 2005, Ballentine, a former second grade teacher at Vestavia East, has created custom home décor artwork, floor mats, front door decorations and more for her business It’s So You Art, which she runs with the help of her mom, Deborah Elliott, and older sister, Mande Elliott McLeod, also of Vestavia Hills.

Using remnants of other works she creates for It’s So You, the Ballentines conceptualized the “adoption cross” – a cross made of burlap layered against a chocolate brown backdrop. With design insight from Brooks, Jenny added old barn roofing from the couple’s storage to create an additional cross on top of the burlap. Once the prototype was to their liking, Jenny and Brooks set to work, cranking out 123 of them over the course of one week. “We thought, we’ll see what happens – let’s see if we sell any of these, if anyone even likes them,” she said. “The next week, we were making over 200 more. They sold so quickly.” Several weeks into the venture, Ballentine said she realized this went well beyond fundraising. “It wasn’t for the money. What I want most is to make that connection with a birth mother.” Today, Ballentine’s adoption crosses can be found everywhere from The

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Jenny Ballentine with husband Brooks and son Charlie, 3.

Polka Dot Pavilion in Geneva, Ala., to ShannAgain’s in Amory, Miss. Local fans who miss the art show circuit can find the art at Snoozy’s Kids in Crestline, and in Homewood’s popular state-focused mercantile, Alabama Goods. And for that, she credits fellow Vestavia Hills resident and mother of three Amy Dill, whose two oldest children are adopted. “We would never even have thought about spreading the word in this way if it wasn’t for Amy and her adoption story,” said Ballentine. “Both of her adoptions were by word of mouth; it gave us the hope that we could start spreading the word and

finding a match that way.” The adoption cross effort has generated leads, although to date the Ballentines have not yet found a match. “Sometimes you have to step away to see,” she said. “I look at Amy’s family, and I see what I want mine to be.” The couple is still working through its California-based facilitator. “If we are matched there, and we also find a match through the crosses, I’ve told my husband that I guess our family will just grow faster!” To follow the story of Jenny and Brooks’ adoption crosses, visit JennyAndBrooksAdoptionCrosses.

May 2013


Strides in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis

Maddie Hagler’s team gathers at last year’s Great Strides Walk.

Zumba instructor Cristina Rodriguez leads warm up activities at a previous CF race.

By REBECCA WALDEN Vestavia Hills resident Clay Hagler’s oldest child, Maddie, was born with Cystic Fibrosis in 2006, and every year since then he has participated in the annual Great Strides Walk, sponsored by the Alabama chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “The walk provides the Cystic Fibrosis community the necessary funds to battle the disease on many levels,” he said. “The money raised has helped develop life-changing drugs and therapies that have increased the average lifespan of Cystic Fibrosis patients from 14 years of age to their mid-30s. Not only are we

battling the disease, but we are also assisting the local economy. Many of the research studies are performed in Birmingham at UAB (at the Gregory Fleming James CF Research Center) and Children’s Hospital.” On May 18, Veterans Park will be filled with kids crafts, Zumba dancing, clowns, music, food and a signature 5K as a part of the event. “Our Great Strides event is a day of celebrating the funds our Great Strides teams have raised in the fight against CF,” said Jennifer McEuen, associate executive director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Alabama. “It’s a great way to have fun while making a

difference for a child or young adult with this life-threatening disease, whether or not you know anyone personally with CF!” The event represents the CF community of Vestavia Hills, as well as greater Birmingham, with families from surrounding neighborhoods turning out in droves to support a loved one or friend living with CF. UAB and Children’s also house the Foundation’s accredited care centers, which in total serve a combined CF population of 400 patients from across Alabama. “Because of our local research presence, as well as the care centers at Children’s and UAB,

we receive back from our national office much more than we put in to the overall fundraising each year,” said McEuen. “In fact, on average, Alabama receives at least twice as much as we raise annually.” That represents more than $10 million reinvested back into Birmingham for CF research. Recently, Birmingham-led research efforts resulted in the development of Kalydec, approved by the FDA in January 2012. For more information about the race, including registration either as an individual or for a team, visit RegistrationType.cfm.

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12 May 2013

Vestavia Voice

Life Time Fitness diversifies summer swimming options

Vestavia Pool Options

By REBECCA WALDEN Community Editor

Rates: No contracts. Rates start at $83 per month for single membership and increase based the on number of users in family.

As the mercury rises, residents are gearing up for a season’s worth of poolside fun. This year, options have grown, most notably with last month’s opening of Life Time Fitness. Favorite, long-standing options like Wald Park are also preparing for another summer season. While the Birmingham Swim League has made good use of Vestavia’s own Wald Park aquatics facility during the fall and winter, Parks and Recreation Director Jason Burnett and staff have kept busy hiring and training their summer staffers. “Our goal each year is to get 2,000 members, and we usually come close to that,” he said. “Popular draws include a friendly staff, our inexpensive membership fees and a great location.” Amy Parker concurs with these attributes, which is why she’s keeping Wald Park as a trusted default choice if Life Time Fitness doesn’t meet her expectations. “We are giving Life Time a go; it seems like a lot of people are. The main reasons [we joined] are the pool, the fact that they offer childcare and that there is no contract,” said Parker. “If it’s nuts, we will switch back to old faithful Wald Park!” Both facilities offer ample options for area families to enjoy poolside recreation. Wald Park accommodates young swimmers with its training and wading pools, while also providing a large, lap-style pool, with two dedicated lap lanes. Life Time’s pools include extensive indoor and outdoor layouts. The indoor structure features both a lap pool with four 25-yard lap lanes, and a leisure pool with a zero-depth ramp entry. The depth varies from three to four feet in both pools, and the water is heated to 80 and 88 degrees, respectively. The outdoor pool design includes another leisure pool with zero-depth ramp entry, and

The Life Time Fitness outdoor pool opens May 26.

Pools highlighted are within Vestavia Hills city limits and available for public use.

Life Time Fitness

Outdoor pool open May 26 - Sept. 3 547-3100

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Extra Services ff Pools with water slides ff Swim lessons for both adults and children

Wald Park Pool

Open May 26 – Sept. 3 978-0172 Rates: Badges go on sale May 1. $50 for Vestavia Hills residents, $25 for seniors (age 62 and older), $5 guest day pass. Nonresidents’ membership badges are doubled. also two water slides that are two stories tall. The pool also features six 25-yard lap lanes. Depth varies from zero to five feet, and the water is a balmy 82 degrees. Life Time also offers two indoor whirlpools and one outdoor whirlpool. “[Life Time] is the perfect outlet for us,” said Coventry resident and mother of two Ivy Holmes. “The indoor and outdoor pools were very appealing, as well as affordable swimming lessons for Daniel. Both of my kids enjoyed swimming year-round when we lived in Fairhope. I firmly believe that working on a skill like swimming is something that needs to be practiced year round, not just in the summer months.” The key differentiator between the two facilities comes down to choice. For those seeking an aquatic destination only, Wald Park is a logical option. For those seeking a more comprehensive recreational outlet, Life Time Fitness is worth a closer look. Life Time offers its members a total of 75 classes per week, made up of 27 unique class formats.

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6:50 p.m. Thursday, 7-8:50 p.m. (Family Swim) Sunday, 2-6:50 p.m. Extra Services ff Private swimming lessons for adults and children; group lessons also available ff Pool rental

YMCA-Vestavia 823-0144

Rates: Individuals $50 to join, $45 monthly. Family rates available. Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5:15 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Friday, 5:15 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday, 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Cooper and Leiden Schreiner play at Wald Park Pool last summer.

Extra Services ff Private and semi-private swim lessons for adults and children. Group lessons also available. ff Swim team. $95 registration fee

May 2013

Dig into reading

The Power to Perform

Summer Reading 2013 at Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest




Children participate in last year’s Summer Reading Kick-off Party at Library in the Forest.

By APRIL MOON Children’s Librarian, Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest Have you had your 4E Experience? If not, then visit the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest this summer and find out how it can enrich, empower, educate and entertain you. Each year, the Library orchestrates a summer reading program for patrons of all ages, from babies to retirees. This year, the Adult Department will feature the theme “Groundbreaking Reads,” while the Teen Department will launch “Beneath the Surface” as its theme. Both departments will offer programming, prizes and reading opportunities for those patrons who wish to sign up. The Children’s Department staff has planned

Roger Day headlines the 2012 Summer Reading Finale

10 weeks of non-stop library fun for its “Dig Into Reading” program, which begins with a huge Kick-off Party on Sunday, June 2 from 2-4 p.m. at the library. The party will include: face painting; ice cream; an Egyptian Mummy Tomb Mystery; digging for gold and gemstones; and Dr. Magical Balloons, a zany storyteller who uses balloon sculptures — and willing audience members — as his story props. Everyone who signs up for the summer reading program that day will get a special goodie bag filled with coupons and treats courtesy of generous merchants in the area. The summer reading experience continues as the library attempts to: educate through nature craft activities on the library trail each Monday; enrich toddlers and preschoolers through fun, age-appropriate story times on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; empower the imagination of everyone who attends the special performer programs on Thursdays; and entertain kids of all ages with great movies on Fridays. Prizes will be given out each week for children who visit the Library and are registered with Dig Into Reading. In addition, there will be an online program participants can access from home to enter and track the number of books they read, with a prize drawing at the Summer Reading Finale on August 8. Kids who register online can be in the drawing for prizes, in addition to the weekly prizes for visiting the Library. The Library is open every day and is useful stop for anyone looking for a great diversion as we head into the summer.

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14 May 2013

Vestavia Voice

School House Autism awareness and donation drive at Vestavia Day School

Central students discover science is messy Vestavia Hills Elementary Central fifth grade students recently discovered that science can be a messy business while digging into the mud at the bottom of a pond at Camp McDowell Environmental Center. On the trip they also caught tadpoles, insects and salamanders. This annual opportunity to experience nature is part of the science curriculum at the school.

Vestavia Day School Assistant Director Sarabeth McVey and Director Vicki Tuggle wear blue for autism awareness.

In observance World Autism Awareness Month in April, Vestavia Day School staff and students wore blue in honor of families in the community and around the world who are affected by autism spectrum disorders. The school also partnered with Two Men and a Truck in its Movers for Moms campaign. Throughout April the school served as a drop-off point for donations for First Light Shelter in recognition of Mother’s Day.

Kristen Snable’s fifth grade class at Camp McDowell this year.

Hauser named principal of Vestavia West

A visit to Rickwood Caverns

Liberty Park Middle celebrates Pi Day

Brinkley Morrison’s first grade class visited Rickwood Caverns

Kim Hauser

Vestavia Hills Elementary West Assistant Principal Kim Hauser (B.S., M.A., EDS) was recently promoted to principal, effective on July 1. She succeeds current principal Becky Patton, who will retire at the end of the school year after serving the school as principal since 2005. Hauser brings to the job more than 20 years of teaching experience, with the majority of those in the Vestavia Hills City School District. Prior to joining West, where she has served as assistant principal since 2005, Hauser taught fifth grade at Vestavia Hills Elementary Central for 10 years. “I am honored and humbled to be the new principal at Vestavia Hills Elementary West,” she said. “This school puts the needs of the children at the forefront of all decisions being made, and it is exciting to work with such a collegial, collaborative faculty and staff that values professional development and new learning in order to enhance the emotional, social and academic needs of all the students. “My biggest challenge is to take an already great school and continue that trajectory on an upward path.”   Hauser has two sons, both of whom attended Vestavia schools. Jason, 27, is currently working toward his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University, and Wesley, 25, lives in Tuscaloosa and is employed by UPS. – Submitted by VHEW

Mrs. Brinkley Morrison’s first grade class at Vestavia Elementary School East visited Rickwood Caverns in April. The trip was a part of the class’s Alabama landforms unit of study. As part of the curriculum, students learn about state symbols, celebrations, landforms

and famous Alabamians, including George Washington Carver and Helen Keller. “This trip fits perfectly into our curriculum,” Morrison said. “We also study nocturnal animals as part of this unit, and there are hundreds of fruit bats in the cave. The kids loved it!”

Pi Day is celebrated worldwide on March 14. As part of this day, Liberty Park Middle School students in Brett Richards’ sixth grade math class participated in several activities. Richards read aloud the book, Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Wayne Geehan. Students also discovered pi by finding the circumference of circular objects in the class and its diameter. They discovered that pi was derived from the ratio of circumference to diameter. Students also tested Buffon’s Needles theory, using toothpicks instead of needles. Finally, students had a competition to see who could memorize the most digits of Pi. At the end, students that won first place in each class threw a pie at Richards. First place winners who threw pie were Eden Roberson - 81 digits, Riley McIntrye - 66 digits, Yuheon Lee - 59 digits and Kendall Tucker - 54 digits.

VHHS Wind Ensemble makes strong showing at festival The Vestavia Hills High School Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Jerell Horton, returned in March from its performance in the National Concert Band Festival, a part of the Music for All Festival in Indianapolis. The performance accepted was by application, and invitations were given to those deemed to have achieved the highest level of musical performance and artistry. The Wind Ensemble received two standing ovations to a packed

audience at Butler University for its stellar performance. The Vestavia Wind Ensemble, the premier performing ensemble within the Vestavia Hills School System, is an auditioned group of more than 60 students in grades 1012. The Wind Ensemble maintains an active concert and adjudication schedule, and in recent years, the Wind Ensemble has performed at the Alabama Music Educators conference and as a guest ensemble at The University of Alabama

Jerell Horton conducts the VHHS Wind Ensemble.

Honor Band Festival. Jerell Horton has served as the director of bands at Vestavia Hills High School since 2006,

conducting the Wind Ensemble, one of the school’s two jazz bands, and directing the Rebel Marching Band.

Students learn about QR codes and more in technology club

Cahaba Heights Green Team at work

A new Technology Club has started at Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park. Twenty third- through fifth-grade students meet twice a month after school to extend and expand their knowledge of technology throughout all areas.

Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights Green Team held its last meeting of the year on April 20 to coincide with Earth Day. The Green Team members meet on Saturdays throughout the school year to beautify the school grounds and decorate for the seasons. Debi Kozler and Tommy Lucas serve as parent representatives for the group, and Lauren Tucker and Lauren Griffin are teacher representatives.

Students this year have learned to create and use QR codes, develop web pages, and the basics of computer programming. Principal Ty Arendall, Instructional Technology Specialist Wendy Story and Systems Technician Dwayne Jackson all sponsor the hands-on club.

May 2013

VHHS’s top seniors ready for next step

Wendy Feng

Age: 18

GPA: 4.77

Who was your most inspirational teacher? My volleyball coach, Coach Burgess. She taught me that we could be successful and make school history even though we were often criticized for being “too short, too slow and just too advantaged” — and we did. Everything I learned from Coach Burgess could be translated to my life in the future. When you’re 50 and you look back at yourself as a teenager, what characteristic will you remember most? My fear of procrastination. I tend to finish assignments as early as possible because I fear forgetting about them or not finishing them in time. This obviously helped my grade, but it made me very stressed at times. If you could go back in time, what year would you visit? 1912 to witness the sinking of the Titanic. I’ve never seen the movie, so it would be pretty cool to witness it in person.

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Farhan Kahn

Age: 18 GPA 4.74 What will walking across that stage mean to you? Finally, I’m done with this place. What’s the study secret to your success? Don’t study too hard. What can aspiring grads learn from you? Stay focused — fun comes with fulfilling work. When you’re 50 and you look back at yourself as a teenager, what characteristic will you remember most? That I tried way too hard. Have you chosen a college yet? Where do you want to go? I plan on attending Duke University. If you were going to be locked in a windowless room for one month, but could bring one movie to watch and one book to read, what would they be? A Game of Thrones and... Ferris Bueller.

›› Read full interviews online at

Evan Li

Age: 18 GPA: 4.76 When you’re 50 and you look back at yourself as a teenager, what characteristic will you remember most? My normally quiet attitude towards people I don’t know well coupled with my polaropposite attitude when I’m with my friends. What are your college and career aspirations? Premed track, perhaps in neuroscience. As of now I wish to go to medical school, but I realize that could change in the future. What one thing on your college application helps you stand out? Shadowing several doctors and research in the Cystic Fibrosis Department in UAB. What song represents your high school career? Not Afraid by Eminem What’s your favorite quote? “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln

Botong Ma

Age: 16

GPA: 4.79

What will walking across that stage mean to you? I guess it would mean the ending of one chapter of my life. So far, all I’ve known is the school system, with only hints and glimpses of the real world. Walking across that stage is like walking towards a new part of my life, crossing over into the part they call “grown-up.” It’ll be like the beginning of an adventure. Have you chosen a college yet? Where do you want to go? Yes. I have been early accepted to MIT, and will be attending in fall 2013 What’s the study secret to your success? Trying anyway, even if I think that it’s sort of improbable. Who was your most inspirational teacher? Mrs. Hacker. Despite personal tragedy, Mrs. Hacker remained strong and continued as our teacher. She can also run 10K races. She’s amazing.

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16 May 2013

Vestavia Voice


Salem hasn’t missed a stride By NATHAN KELLY Staff Writer

Georgie Salem

Georgie Salem’s childhood dream is now a reality – he is playing his favorite game for his favorite school. The Vestavia Hills grad calls baseball a “game of frustration,” but for him the ultimate accomplishment is helping a team reach its goals and win. Using that, he was able to overcome the frustration in high school and, so far, he’s carried on that success at The University of Alabama. Salem, a business major, plays center field for the Crimson Tide baseball team and bats leadoff. As a freshman, he has started every game for the Tide, leading his team in at-bats, hits and is second in stolen bases. The transition from high school to college baseball for the 19-year-old has been a successful one, and he credits most of it to the time he spent in Vestavia Hills. In his recruiting process, coaches at Alabama told him he would have a chance to start in his first season. This made the decision to attend Alabama easy for Salem, since playing collegiate sports for the Tide runs in his family, he said. His father and grandfather played football at

Alabama and his uncle, Ed Salem, was an AllAmerican halfback for the Tide in 1950. His cousin, Emeel Salem, played baseball for the Tide from 2005-2007 and was a two-time AllAmerican. Developing into a baseball player in the Birmingham area was not only a special part of Salem’s life because of the relationships he made, it also was vital to his growth, he said. “Growing up in this area was competitive,” Salem said. “A lot of guys I grew up playing with or against ended up going on to play at the next level. The level of talent in Birmingham baseball is ridiculous.” Salem’s memories of Vestavia Hills will always be special ones, he said. During his freshman season with the Rebels, he helped the team go undefeated. In his senior season – which he called his favorite year at Vestavia Hills – Salem was named the 2012 South Birmingham Player of the Year for the second time. He found it difficult to pinpoint just one figure in his life that helped him become the player he is today. “I’ve been on a lot of baseball teams even though I’m only 19,” Salem said. “I’ve had so many coaches through the years it’s hard to name

Vestavia Hills girls soccer wins Metro tournament

just one of them that helped me the most. My dad has always been a constant motivator for me, though.” The one thing Salem said he misses most about high school baseball culture is playing with the guys he grew up with. “Since I’ve been at Alabama I realized that I never noticed how fun it was just to be a high school baseball player,” he said. “I’ll never have an experience with a team like I had in high school.” As special as his high school memories are to him, Salem hasn’t missed a stride in making new memories with the Tide. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week in March and has even been featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top-10 plays for his performance in the outfield against Georgia on March 23. Overall, he said his transition to college baseball hasn’t been as difficult as he thought it would be. “It may not seem like it, but SEC baseball is as competitive as it is in football,” Salem said. “The talent is the cream of the crop.” Salem will return to the Birmingham area this month if Alabama qualifies for the 2013 SEC Baseball Tournament, scheduled to be held at the Hoover Met from May 21-27.

Pizitz softball tops tournament

Pizitz Middle School Softball Team and coaches.

The Vestavia Hills Girls’ Varsity Soccer team won the Birmingham Metro Tournament in April. They beat Homewood, Altamont and Thompson in the brackets and played Mountain Brook in the finals. The Mountain Brook game went into overtime with a 1-1 final in regulation time. Vestavia scored the golden goal in the first 3 minutes of overtime.

Rebels soccer keeps By NATHAN KELLY Staff Writer Dallas Coyne has come so close to a state championship he could almost taste it. The senior defender was a member of the 2011 and 2012 Vestavia Hills Rebels soccer teams whose seasons ended in the semifinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) State Tournament. Both years they were knocked out by Oak Mountain High School. This year, Coyne hopes to return the favor. The Rebels were undefeated through their first 19 games this season, scoring more than 60 goals and allowing only two into

their nets. The team moved into the state’s top ranking, followed by a national top-10 on multiple websites and eventually into the No. 1 spot nationally. While this season’s success may be indicative of Vestavia’s talent on the pitch, Coyne said he focused on not getting caught up with regular season accomplishments. “The rankings and our record are great. It shows how hard we’ve worked this season and how well Coach (Rick) Grammer has coached us,” he said. “But if I’ve learned anything from the past two seasons, it’s that nothing matters until the playoffs.” Coyne credits much of Vestavia’s success to the team’s

The Pizitz Middle School Softball Team won the Metro Tournament in April, finishing the season 24-4 overall and 9-1 in the regular season. The team went undefeated in the Metro Tournament, but had to go into an international tiebreaker to beat Simmons in the Final. EJ Hardy fought off the flu to win the MVP of the Tournament. Ashley Dieguez was awarded the All-

Tournament Team as was Jessica Perley, who turned her ankle in the second game, but continued to pitch and earn the win in each of the four victories. Anna Giardina sprained her knee, but continued to play at second base. Other team members are Natalie Headrick, Sophie James, Sarah Cain, Lily Henley, Lucy Jones, Kate Nash, Megan Callahan and Maya Barefield.

its eyes on the prize

ability to work as a single unit. When faced with adversity, Coyne said there is enough trust among his teammates for each player to do his job. A deep bench always helps, too. “Specifically for this season, I think what separates us from most of our opponents is how deep our bench play is,” he said. “If we’ve got two guys who aren’t having a good night, we’ll sub them out and our play basically has zero drop-off.” Still, the bitter taste left from defeat in the last two seasons quickly outweighs the praises Vestavia has received recently, Coyne said. And, as a senior, he doesn’t want confidence to get the best of his team, which he believes was the case in years past.

The team’s first loss of the year came in early April to Oak Mountain, and it lost its second to Mountain Brook shortly after. However, the Rebels still held their No. 1 ranking as of April 15. The AHSAA Tournament, which began April 27 and runs through May 11, features a 32-team bracket and five total rounds. If the Rebels do reach their goal, it will be the school’s first AHSAA State Championship in soccer since 1995. Coyne said Vestavia seniors are seeking their taste of victory after coming so close the last two years. Personally, Coyne said, it would be even better if the Rebels were again matched against Oak Mountain in the semifinals.

Dallas Coyne, senior defender for the 2013 Vestavia Hills Varsity Soccer Team, during a game in March. Photo by Nathan Kelly.


May 2013


Recommended for redevelopment The US-31 Corridor Redevelopment Plan drafted by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham examines eight commercial areas of U.S. 31 and recommends that four be redeveloped into mixed-use, walkable and community-oriented developments. These are:



Upper US 31

7 Patton Creek Crossing

Vestavia Plaza Shopping Center

Disconnected from and without any spatial and functional relationship to each other, these properties make up a hodgepodge of businesses, signs and forms that together create an incoherent and unattractive gateway to Vestavia Hills along lower U.S. 31. The majority of properties are highly underutilized – single-story buildings occupying a small portion of its parcels and generating low property and sales tax revenues. The challenges facing redevelopment and expansion are assembling the parcels of different shapes and sizes from numerous individual property owners, the constraints of the floodplain, and the limited space due to steep grade changes on some parcels.

Size – 5 acres Occupancy – 49 percent Annual Sales (2010) – $4.65 million Assessed Value – $420,000

5 Olde Towne Shopping Center

Size – 6 acres Occupancy – 86 percent Annual Sales (2010) – $4.57 million Assessed Value – $819,000

6 Park South Shopping Center Size – 4 acres Occupancy – 66 percent Annual Sales (2010) – $6 million Assessed Value – $800,000


2 31

Lower US 31

3 4 No Recommended changes Properties recommended to be left alone and encourage future plans for redevelopment, increased density and mixed uses are:


Vestavia Hills City Center

Size – 29 acres Occupancy – 81 percent Annual Sales (2010) – $54.2 million Assessed Value – $5.26 million



4 Vestridge Commons

3 Walmart Neighborhood Market Size – 7 acres Occupancy – 100 percent Annual Sales (2010) – $18 million Assessed Value – $1 million

65 Size – 5 acres Occupancy – 100 percent Annual Sales (2010) – $5.85 million Assessed Value – $510,000

8 7

8 Mountain Top Office Park

Size – 19 acres Occupancy (Combined) – 89 percent Assessed Value (Combined) – $3 million

What do you think?

We want to hear your thoughts on the U.S. 31 redevelopment plan. Email rebecca@ or leave us a comment on or our Facebook page.


65 All data, renderings and maps from the US-31 Corridor Redevelopment Plan drafted by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham released in 2012.

HWY 31




CONTINUED from page 1

residents said they wanted to see with methods to make it economically feasible. “Highway 31 is surrounded by residential areas, and those people want to be able to walk to good places to eat, drink and be entertained. And they want it all to be family-friendly,” Amthor said. “So what we proposed is a regulatory environment and incentives for the city to adopt that would build that kind of place. RPCGB came back to the city within a year with a more than 100-page, 15-year plan. It’s highlighted by dense, mixed-use development featuring retail, restaurants and housing on U.S. 31 from Interstate 65 north to Vestavia Plaza, which currently contains Red Lobster and U-Haul among other businesses. And it all starts with implementing a form-based code. Form-based codes are one of three main strategies presented by RPCGB, and arguably the most important. They replace the City’s current land-use and zoning regulations and will “introduce the possibility for new uses, activities and building densities,” according to the Plan. “We’re setting the rules essentially so we can get higher quality development because

the development that’s currently there is underperforming,” Vestavia Hills City Planner Conrad Garrison said. “It would be foolish to redo the same thing. Even though it’s been successful the past 60 years, its time has passed.” Garrison and Baughman were both hired by the City of Vestavia Hills in 2012 after it received RPCGB’s proposal. While both are strapped with numerous other duties in the city as the U.S. 31 Plan is enacted, their next moves will define the direction of the corridor. Garrison said he expects to spend the next nine to 12 months developing this code alongside the RPCGB, and he hopes businesses understand this code doesn’t mean the City will force its hand. “We’re trying to get the pieces in place so when one of these properties (along U.S. 31) is ready for redevelopment, there’s not going to be any kind of holdup on the City’s end to get stuff ready,” Garrison said. “The city doesn’t intend to force any of these property owners to redevelop tomorrow. “Our intent is to say, ‘When you’re totally not satisfied as the property owner with what you have on your site and you’re ready to do

something about it, we’re willing to talk to you. Here are the things we have available for you.’” What’s available will fall under Baughman’s area of expertise. In order for the City to put the plan in motion, Amthor said it must first show the business community it’s committed to growth in this manner. The first step of that process was completed last year when the City Council accepted the plan. Next comes enticing the business community to join the team, and as an economic developer, that means providing incentives. Baughman recently designed a five-year sales tax rebate program for new businesses in Vestavia Hills. For the first year, 50 percent of sales tax collected will be returned to the business. That’s followed by 40 percent for the second year, and down to 10 percent for the fifth. New retail and restaurants coming into the City who are seeking these incentives can work with the City to develop under the new code. Baughman said the goal is not only to attract businesses, but also to retain and satisfy those that currently support the City. “Property owners are the key to success of

this because we have no legal authority to walk in and say, ‘We’re going to take your property, and we’re going to develop it a different way.’ They have to see the economic vitality of redevelopment and doing it differently.” Garrison said the City is looking at implementing the plan “parcel-by-parcel,” in order to develop a strategy that guarantees success. “This isn’t – and can’t be – a one-size-fits-all plan,” he said. Although residents can’t anticipate visible changes this month, they can expect the City to be working behind the scenes to implement the initial stages that will bring change. Amthor said those who wish to help should contact their City Council members and support the code’s development and making it mandatory once complete. He added that finding a visionary developer from the private sector is critical, and encouraging the Council to reach out is just as important. “This is where we need leadership that’s willing to take a risk,” Amthor said. “If U.S. 31 continues in its current condition, it will have a declining tax base, and it’s going to affect residential property values at some point.”


18 May 2013

Vestavia Voice


Pastor’s corner

Vestavia Hills Church Directory Cahaba Heights Baptist Church 3800 Crosshaven Drive 967-2453 Cahaba Heights United Methodist 3139 Cahaba Heights Road 967-0470 Cahaba Park Church PCA 3650 Bethune Drive (meeting) 4256 Cahaba Heights Court (office) 870-1886 Crossroads Community Church of the Nazarene 1998 Shades Crest Road 822-4520 Ebeneezer International Church 1380 Montgomery Highway 823-7399 Fullness Christian Fellowship 2575 Columbiana Road 822-3070

Horizon Church 2345 Columbiana Road 822-2824 Liberty Crossings United Methodist 5125 Sicard Hollow Road 970-8163 Liberty Park Baptist Church 12001 Liberty Parkway 969-1236 Lutheran Church of Vestavia Hills 201 South Montgomery Highway 823-1883

Philadelphia Baptist Church 3001 Pump House Road 967-6023

Southminster Presbyterian Church 1124 Montgomery Highway 822-1124

Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church 2122 Columbiana Road 824-8989

Trinity Presbyterian Church 3251 Greendale Road 259-6301

St. Mark United Methodist Church 2901 Columbiana Road 822-5980

Vestavia Church of Christ 2325 Old Columbiana Road 822-0018

St. Matthew’s Anglican Church 2565 Rocky Ridge Road 979-8624

Vestavia Hills Baptist Church 2600 Vestavia Drive 979-5920

Mt. Chapel United Methodist 2541 Rocky Ridge Road 822-0020

St. Stephens Episcopal Church 3775 Crosshaven Drive 967-8786

Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church 2061 Kentucky Ave. 822-9631

Mountaintop Community Church 225 Centerview Drive 776-8020

Shades Mountain Baptist Church 2017 Columbiana Road 822-1670

Vestavia Primitive Baptist Church 2441 Columbiana Road 823-2497

Lutheran Church to host ‘Kingdom Rock’ VBS This year’s Vacation Bible School at the Lutheran Church of Vestavia Hills is scheduled for June 3-7. Called “Kingdom Rock – Where

God’s Kids Stand Strong,” the VBS is held for rising 4 year olds through fifth-grade students. Each day’s activities will last from 9 a.m.-noon.

The church is located at the corner of Shades Crest Road and U.S. 31 in Vestavia. To register online, visit

Embracing the new of the season By BILL BRUNSON Senior Pastor, Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church Each year summer we often crowd them arrives on June 21 at out with more work and the Summer Solstice. chores. However, by its official Just as God renews arrival we have already creation each and every shed the heavy coats, spring and summer, I the light jackets and, believe that God can and for some, even the will renew us – if we will long pants. From the ask. God created each beginning of spring to the of us for a purpose, and end of summer, the world God never gives up on changes in amazing any of us. Too often we ways. The problem is that are too busy, too rushed, Bill Brunson we are often too pushed, too preoccupied and too rushed, busy and exhausted to enjoy it, worried to stop and see what miracle to embrace it or to learn from it. God wants to do in us. Too often, we While nature changes all around get so caught up in other things that us in our day-to-day lives, we are we forget that one of the messages of usually busy. We spend the last part of the Resurrection is that we can have winter working to pay off the previous new life, and one of the purposes of Christmas. In spring, we spend our the Spirit who came at Pentecost is to nights and much of our weekends inspire us to be like Christ. watching the children in our lives kick, So, instead of spending your hit, throw or catch a ball at one of the summer rushing through each day, many fields around town. why not take a lesson from the Then in late spring our attention Psalmist and “Be still and know that turns to counting down the days until God is God.” summer. Students of all ages look As you watch a sunset on a lake or forward to the break from school, the sunrise on the beach, ask yourself, while adults make reservations and “Where do I need to experience the save vacation days for a getaway or, old (habits, thoughts, fears, grudges, at least, a staycation. It is a busy time etc.) and give way to the new?” The of year. prophet Isaiah said, “Look I am However, the whirlwind of life doing a New Thing.” Jesus said, “I often prevents us from being able to have come that you may have life focus on the miracle that takes place and have it abundantly.” Revelation all around us as the world comes to tells us that the One who sits on the life. Trees bud. Grass grows. Flowers throne says, “Behold, I make all bloom. The long days of summer are things new.” designed to allow us to spend more Where do you need to experience time with family and friends, but “new”?

May 2013


Community Calendar May 2: Spring Student Choreography Showcase “Timeline.” Vestavia Hills High School Dance Department performance. VHHS Theatre at 7 p.m. Contact Faith Cole Lenhart at lenhartfc@vestavia.

and health related businesses will attend. Healthy cooking demonstrations, massage therapists and LifeSouth blood donations. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Vestavia Hills Civic Center & Wald Park. Contact Lt. Scott Ferrell at sferrell@ci.vestaviahills.

May 3: Artists Incorporated May Reception. Mixer includes wine, hors d’oeuvres and meet and greet with featured artists. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Artists Incorporated, 3365 Morgan Dive. Visit

May 5: Arts on the Mountain Piano Concert by Michael Dulin. Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. Suggested donation $10/person. 2 p.m. Visit

May 4: Vestavia Hills Community Wide Health and Wellness Fair. More than 50 vendors from a wide variety of medical

May 8: Children’s Choir Worship Concert. Saint Mark United Methodist Church. Performance will include harmonica, hand chimes, hand bells, sacred

dance, sign language and percussion. 6:30 p.m. Visit

Meeting. Community Room. Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest. Call 978-0155.

May 9: Shades Mountain Christian School Athletic Banquet. School Fellowship Hall. 5-9 p.m. Call 978-6001.

May 18: Conservatory of Arts Spring Recital. Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. 9:30 -10:30 a.m. Visit

May 10: Outdoor concert featuring Jim Aycock. Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest Amphitheater. 7 p.m. Visit

May 19: Arts on the Mountain presents Ken Medema. Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. 10 a.m., Worship Appreciation Banquet, 6 p.m. vhbc. com

auction featuring purses, gift cards, theater tickets, artwork and more. Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. Includes performance by Alabama native Leah Faith. Funds raised will go toward the purchase of school uniforms and supplies as well as provide summer activities for children served by the Salvation Army Greater Birmingham Area Command. Reservations are $35 in advance. Contact Gail Wood at 591-1414 by May 15.

May 22: Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Spring Luncheon and Auction. Event begins at 10 a.m. with a silent

May 23: Friends of the Library: Appreciation Luncheon. Vestavia Hills Library. 11 a.m. Visit

May 14: Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce May Luncheon. Vestavia Country Club. 11:30 a.m. Visit May 16. Friends of the Library

City events Visit May 9: Planning & Zoning Commission meeting. City Council Chamber. 6 p.m. May 13: Senior Citizens Luncheon. Dogwood Room, Vestavia Hills Civic Center. 11:30 a.m. May 13: City Council Meeting. City Council Chamber. 5 p.m. May 16: Board of Zoning Adjustment. City Council Chamber. 6 p.m. May 21: Parks & Recreation Board meeting. Vestavia Hills Civic Center. 7 a.m. May 27: Memorial Day. Municipal Center closed. May 29: City Council Meeting. May 27 meeting moved in recognition of Memorial Day. Call 978-3675.

Greater Birmingham area events May 2: Tim McGraw: Two Lanes of Freedom Tour. Featuring Brantley Gilbert and Love and Theft. 7 p.m. Oak Mountain Amphitheatre. Visit omaconcerts.

BJCC. Tickets $25-$45. Visit htm

May 3-5: Aaron’s Dream Weekend. A triple-header featuring the ARCA Racing Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499. Visit May 4: Sweet Home Alabama Symphony. Christopher Confessore, conductor, with guests The Rewinders with Jeff Reed. 8 p.m. Visit May 4: Birmingham Ballet Presents Artist’s Palette.

May 5: Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra Spring Concert. Conductor Roderick Cox. Visit May 10: Coffee Concert, Mozart & Haydn. Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 and Haydn Symphony No. 100. Visit May 11: 2013 Spring Walking Tour Series: Five Points. Vulcan Park and Museum. 9:30 a.m.-noon. WalkingTours.html May 18-19: Great Southern Gun & Knife Show. BJCC 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday. 10

a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday. Visit May 21-26: SEC Baseball Tournament. Hoover Met. Visit SECSPORTS/CHAMPIONSHIPS/ BaseballChampionships.aspx May 17-18: Alabama Bonsai Society annual exhibition. May 17, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 18, 1-4 p.m. Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Display will feature bonsai trees, viewing stones and Japanese influenced art. Trees and pots available for purchase. Visit May 21: A Fiddler’s Tale. Samford University and Patty McDonald present Concertmaster & Friends. 7:30 p.m. Visit May 31: Regions Masterworks. 8 p.m. Visit June 1: 4th Annual Bob Sykes BBQ and Blues Festival. At Debardeleben Park. 1-9 p.m. Tickets $8 before, $12 at gate, 12-under free. Portion of proceeds will benefit The Bessemer Education Enhancement Foundation and Hands On Birmingham. Performance Schedule: 1 p.m. Sassy Brown Band, 2:15 p.m. Diedra & Ruff Pro Band, 3:30 p.m. Aretta Woodruff & the Revue Band, 5 p.m. 2 Blu & the Lucky Stiffs, 6:30 p.m. Victor Wainwright & Wild Roots, 8 p.m. Nikki Hill. Visit

Style Reborn for Home and Fashion Tammy Heinss and Kathy McMahon are self-proclaimed “junkers.” They travel the country, wherever the next treasure hunt takes them. On their most recent trip to Dallas, the friends came home with a U-Haul truck full of old barn wood, doors and other materials, their heads brainstorming up idea after idea of how to reclaim and transform their new treasures into furnishings with new life. It’s their creativity and creations that are at the heart of a newly expanded Renaissance Consignment & Marketplace. Renaissance has consigned clothing, formal dresses, designer handbags and more for four years, but in January the store nearly doubled its size and expanded its inventory to include both new and gently used home furnishings and accessories. The newly expanded 9,000-squarefoot space intermingles furniture with clothing and home accessories with jewelry. “The home and the closet are two very important things,” said Heinss, the store’s visual merchandising manager who is armed with experience as an interior decorator. “They mold together perfectly and

are able to provide in two important areas of life. I don’t know anywhere else that is doing something like this. We are like an Anthropologie on steroids.” When she and McMahon, the owner, walk around their new space in the former Cantina location, they beam with excitement as they explain how even their displays demonstrate their concept of “style reborn.” Each piece is a conversation piece in itself. The sides of the large desk in the center are made of molding from a 150-year-old house and tin siding from Cantina. For its countertop, McMahon took the original varnished finish down to natural wood with what McMahon calls her “weapons” — wooden pieces with nails or a chain to “beat up” the wood — and then whitewashed it before removing the paint. The lighting above the desk is a combination of glass chandeliers and old industrial domes from Germany. Display boxes on the right have given new life to old fence wood, and old rake parts hold jewelry. On another display old clothes pins display rings. It’s all part of a “rustic luxe” look

6801 Cahaba Valley Road (Hwy 119) 1/4 South of Hwy 280 • Birmingham 35242

Tammy Heinss and Kathy McMahon have led Renaissance’s expansion into home décor retail.

that Heinss and McMahon are trying to achieve. “We want elegant beauty that is luxurious yet mingled with a rustic, reclaimed vibe,” McMahon said. In addition to the floor space, Renaissance has a covered outdoor area in the back that holds reclaimed “treasures” like rustic wood old doors in their raw state that are available for sale. They also have 2,500-square-foot

show room with furniture, accessories and salvage material nearby that can be shown by appointment. Even with their bubbling passion for home décor, the duo are just as eager to talk about Renaissance’s selection of clothing and accessories, attesting to how it is a “one stop shop” for both fashion and interiors. Experts in outfit consultation are on staff just as are freelance decorators. Upstairs in the consignment formal department, one of the largest in the Southeast, a staff member has a background in pageant coaching and judging.

Much of their clothing is consigned from high end boutiques so that items are on the rack discounted but still have their original tags. Two of 12 staff members are dedicated to social media; the business does much of their sales online, not just in the store. “[Renaissance is] a great thing for the community because you can buy great things for a good price, and you can recycle things as well,” Heinss said. If you are interested in consigning home furnishings or accessories, email pictures of items to tammy@


May 2013

Vestavia Voice

Vestavia Voice May 2013  

news, sports and community news source for Vestavia Hills Alabama